Posted by: Kerry Gans | February 6, 2020

Top Picks Thursday! For Writers & Readers 02-06-2020

Welcome to the first Top Picks Thursday of February! The month is short, but our link list is long. Next week, celebrate Freelance Writers Appreciation Week!

The Youth Media Awards are out, and a graphic novel wins the Newbery Medal for the first time. Also awarded were the Caldecott, Coretta Scott King, and Michael L. Printz Awards.

SCBWI announces the winners of their Golden Kite and Sid Fleischman Awards.

In non-prose news, the Mellon Foundation grants $4.5 million to the Academy of American Poets.

The end of an era. Suspense novelist Mary Higgins Clark dies at age 92.

Diversity is something authors and publishers grapple with all the time these days, as they wrestle with the shortcomings in the industry. Rachel Deahl comments on publishing’s American Dirt problem, Jami Gold ponders what the calls for diversity mean for our writing, and Jason T. Low produces the 2019 Diversity Baseline Survey of the state of publishing last year.


For our non-fiction writers, Tract R. Atkins continues her series on special formatting for non-fiction books in Microsoft Word.

If you write crime fiction (or read it), Paul D. Marks wants to know where else in the world would you like to see a crime fiction novel set and why?

Lots of us enter writing contests. Sarah Loudin Thomas admits to being conflicted about contests—and I’ll be many of us can understand her feelings.

A novel-length story is hefty, and building the structure to support it all can be tough. Janice Hardy has 4 tips on plotting your novel, Bob Hostetler looks at compelling first lines, Jami Gold discusses bridging conflicts from the story beginning to the main conflict, and Colleen M. Story advises how to make it through the middle of your book.

Other than structure, there are plenty of other craft elements writers need to master. Brian Andrews talks about setting—the silent character, Nils Odlund shares three thoughts on timing or pacing your prose, and James Scott Bell warns of the curse of expository dialogue.

Aside from all those other craft elements, we have to deal with characters. William Kenower looks at writing villains in memoir, Stavros Halvatzis shows how to write great characters, Nathan Bransford explains why protagonists need to be active, and Abigail Hing Wen discusses learning character development the brutally hard way.

Writers are often stressed out. Ann Parker explores how to have the best writing year ever but with less stress, Lori Freeland has 12 survival tricks for a creative’s anxiety, and Bethany Henry lists 6 ways to feed your Muse.

The intersection of writing and real life can be bumpy. Jane Freidman tells us how to get the most out of writer’s conferences, both as conferees and presenters, while Ann R. Allen muses over the pitfalls that come when life imitates fiction.


The business end of writing is forever changing. Jim Milliot reports that print unit sales posted a big end of January gain, while Kristen Lamb discusses the growing trend of major retailers and publishers leaving Amazon to go it alone.

Judith Briles talks about why you should self-publish in 2020.

Porter Anderson extols the women newly named to publishing executive positions in Germany and the US.

Janet Reid says don’t tweet your story to attract agents and editors, and K. Maze shares the moment when rejection becomes connection.

Marketing is largely on the author’s plate these days, and it is terrifying for many. Shawn Inmon says you don’t need to suck at marketing, Jane Friedman reminds us that people don’t need to have read your book to support it, and Nina Dafe suggests reaching more readers through guest posting.

Much of marketing is digital these days, and there’s a lot to know about how to navigate online. Laurence O’Bryan explains what Amazon Ads dashboard changes mean for authors, Victor Blasco discusses how to make a book trailer that speaks to readers, Frances Caballo has 8 social media scheduling apps for writers, and Cristian Mihai shares how to become an artist at blogging and 10 tips to becoming a successful blogger.


An interview with  Eoin Colfer as his Artemis Fowl hits the big screen.

Whose your favorite fictional bookseller? Emily Temple ranks the 50 best fictional booksellers.

Libraries and museums are treasure chests for writers. The New York Public Library has acquired a trove of Virginia Woolf’s letters, manuscripts, and postcards, while Paris Musees announces 150,000 works from the museum collections of the city of Paris free to download and use.

The penultimate American Library Association Midwinter Meeting in Philadelphia closes with the lowest attendance in years.

Michael Zapata lists 10 books that were almost lost to history.

That’s all for this week’s Top Picks Thursday! Join us again next week for more literary links.


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