Posted by: Kerry Gans | February 13, 2020

Top Picks Thursday! For Writers & Readers 02-13-2020

Welcome to this week’s Top Picks Thursday! Monday, February 17th is National Random Acts of Kindness Day, so go make the world better one small act at a time.

Speaking of good acts, the 2020 PEN America Literary Service Award goes to Patti Smith.

If you celebrate Valentine’s Day (or if you just like love poems), recommends 14 love poems, classic and contemporary.

Mary Kole has a mysterious yet exciting opportunity for writers.

Sadly, Roger Kahn, author of The Boys of Summer, died at age 92.

In diversity news, the American Dirt publisher vows to increase Latinx staff and authors after meeting with concerned Latinx groups.

Storytelling kept early humans alive. Gaia Vince discusses the adaptive urgency of storytelling, shaping our minds, our societies, and our interaction with the environment. Books in prisons have been proven to help reformation, so Arvind Dilawar lays out how to help prisoners get books.

The scammers never stop trying to reel in unsuspecting writers. Melissa Bowersock reveals the Quantum Leap scam, and Victoria Strauss cautions us to beware of these and others playing the impersonation game.


Sometimes it’s hard to develop one of the many story ideas in our heads. Nina Amir discusses how to take a spiritual approach to developing writing ideas. It’s also hard to pick a title. James Scott Bell asks: how do you pick a title? And over all is the fear of your own bad writing. Dean Mayes talks about shedding the fear of writing shit.

Sherry Howard examines what novelists can learn from studying picture books, Jodie Renner says don’t give your readers a reason to reject your novel, Stavros Halvatzis explores structure from Act 1 on, and Janice Hardy pokes dead scenes with a stick.

When creating our characters, we have to dig into every aspect of their lives. K.M. Weiland looks at the 2 different types of the Lie Your Character Believes, J. Kenner instructs how to write romance scenes, B.K. Bass discusses avatars of the divine for fantasy worldbuilding, and Mukoma Wa Ngugi has a concise guide for white writers on writing your other.

Once you’ve written, now you have to clean it up. Pat Stoltey gives tips on getting the best critique group ever, Terry Odell says that sometimes it’s okay to tell, not show, Kris Spisak has 4 problem areas in revision and 5 novel editing question to ask, D. Greg Scott tells us how to avoid writing tech gibberish, and Meg LaTorre tells us how to find critique partners and beta readers. Sometimes, though, no amount of editing is going to help your work right now. Sally Shupe explores when it’s time to let go.

We take our inspiration from everywhere. Sarah Kozloff discusses the cross-pollination of art forms, Martin Dumont examines what shipyards can teach us about the writing process, and John Peragine takes the leap from non-fiction to fiction.

Creativity is our lifeblood, and it can be hard to harness. Melissa Donovan urges us to share our writing, Lisa Tener has 5 ways to get unstuck in writing, creativity, or life; Cathy Yardley reminds us that our subconscious speaks a different language, and Angela Ackerman shares tools to make you a more powerful writer in 2020.

Jennie Nash tells us what makes a good book coach, Sweata Vikram shares why winter is a great time to write, and Jodi Turchin talks about how to persevere when the mountain seems unconquerable.

We’re all passionate about our writing, but sometimes we have to step back and look at the big picture and where we are headed. Jami Gold asks: where do you want your story or career to go?, Sarah Sundin shares 10 things she’s learned in 10 years, and Debra Eckerling looks at rebooting your goals.


Kari Paul warns that Amazon is using your Kindle to collect a lot of data about your reading habits.

In a win for authors, US publishers succeed in the Audible captions case.

Aimee Aristoelous has tips for using partnerships to help land a nonfiction book deal.

In an ideal world, your book’s cover wouldn’t matter. In our world, it does. Jim Milliot reports on survey results on judging a book by its title, Nate Hoffelder pits Canva vs. Book Brush for creating your graphics, and Melinda VanLone has a quick guide to image copyright issues.

Indie authors have to know a lot if they are to take full advantage of all their book rights. Ofer Tirosh tells us what indie authors need to know before translating books, Jordan Dane takes a look at audio books, and Eleanor Pigg gives us the ultimate guide to ISBNs for authors.

Getting a publisher’s attention is hard enough as it is. But when some demand ever-more books per year, it can be crushing. Janet Reid answers the question: is a book a month the new norm?, and Don Bentley shares 4 tips for moving from slush pile to sale.

Marketing is a whole other job than writing, yet we authors must learn how to do it. Sandra Beckwith lists 4 steps to new book marketing habits, Nancy J. Cohen wonders if blog tours are worthwhile, Cristian Mahai has 30 tips to help you become a better blogger and what to do if nobody is reading your best posts, and Penny C. Sansevieri explains Pinterest for authors.


Charles Dickens spun stories his entire adult life, but even in death Charles Dickens left behind a riveting tale of deceit.

Dan Bevacqua wonders what happens when you treat writing like acting?

While high-end editions of classics bring in huge money at auctions today, it was the proliferation of penny editions of Jane Austin’s novels that brought literature to the masses.

Gwen Ihnat tracks the evolution of the “smart girl” trope in pop culture.

A tale of two Dorothys. Francesca Wade peeks into Dorothy L. Sayers and The Detection Club, and Jonathan Goldman examines when Dorothy Parker got fired from Vanity Fair.

That’s all for this week! We will see you back here next week for more literary links.

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