Posted by: Kerry Gans | March 12, 2020

Top Picks Thursday! For Writers & Readers 03-12-2020

Welcome to this week’s Top Picks Thursday! As the coronavirus keeps us inside, make good use of the time: Saturday, March 14th, is National Write Down Your Story Day! And when you are done writing, check out all the links below.

In author news, award-winning mystery writer Barbara Neely died at 78 this week.

Take a look at PEN America’s 2020 literary award winners.

Check it out. Latinx in Publishing launches their mentorship program.

Will the publishing world soon be the Big Four? ViacomCBS is selling off Simon and Schuster.

Jami Gold has some ideas on how to support literacy and help authors and readers.

Chris Winkle shows how to describe women without degrading them.

Looking for work? Mary Kole is hiring an executive assistant.


If you are writing a series, Nathan Bransford has everything writers need to know about book series, and Bryn Greenwood looks at the difference between sophomore slump and derailment.

How do you get your ideas? Brian Andrews uses the question that launched a thousand writing careers: what if?, and Donald Maass suggests an alternative: it can’t happen here.

Plotters outline before they right, but many pansters follow Debbie Burke’s method and outline in reverse.

The hardest part of writing is that all the pieces have to be right, from structure to punctuation. Janice Hardy discusses why that “perfectly good scene” might be boring your readers, Stavros Halvatzis explores reversals in stories, and Robert Lee Brewer shows how to make your semicolon use daring and correct.

Characters will make or break our work. Florence Osmund has tips for hooking the readers with characters they care about, J.R. Bee suggests using people watching to create believable characters, Jessi Jezewska Stevens extols the hidden power of the passive protagonist, Janice Hardy shares tips on showing character motivation, Nathan Bransford warns to avoid these generic reactions, and Kassandra Lamb explores the importance of backstory (or how the brain connects the present to the past).

Hearing criticism of our books is always hard, even when it is valid. RJ Crayton explain how to handle genuine feedback on your novel, while Rose Fox talks about how to handle negative book reviews.

Sometimes we need to find inspiration to keep the creative flow going. Susann Cokal lists 4 reasons to spend time with “bad” books, Eldred “Bob” Bird enjoys coloring with words, and Judith Briles suggests we try jucilating.

Julie Gover compiles 10 noteworthy podcasts for writers, Robert Lee Brewer gives us 8 James Patterson quotes, and Sandra Beckwith reminds us don’t be afraid to fail.

Writing often entails going to conferences and finding time to write. Katie Forrest shares 9 time management tips for writers, Nancy J. Cohen has a packing checklist for a writers conference,  and Sophie Masson discusses creating and presenting writing workshops.


Anne R. Allen looks at the biggest mistake novelists and memoirists make.

Michele Debczak explains why hardcover books are published before paperbacks.

What’s up with Barnes & Noble? Thomas Buckley and Scott Deveau say Barnes & Noble’s new plan is to be more like an indie bookseller.

Self-Publishing Review explores what Amazon KDP’s terms mean for self-published authors in 2020.

We all want to be a bestseller, but what does that really mean? John Peragine chases the elusive and enigmatic bestseller.

Querying is a job unto itself. Reedsy shows how to write a picture book query in 6 simple steps, and James Scott Bell has synopsis writing made easy. Jessica Faust talks about the impact of previously self-published books on the query process, while Janet Reid tackles querying a middle grade with lots of formatting and author-agency agreement termination clauses.

Marketing comes in many forms. Nancy Johnson discusses the importance of your title (and how to pick one), E.J. Wenstrom dissects the elements of a book launch, and Laurisa White Reyes reminds us that to be successful, we need to learn our craft.

Blogging is a popular way to connect with your readers. Brandon Cornett explores 5 reasons to start blogging and 3 ways to do it right, and Cristian Mihai shares 5 tips from a full-time blogger and the ultimate article writing checklist.


Information is power. Alana Mohamed examines how J. Edgar Hoover used the power of libraries for evil.

Rachel Zarrow marvels that the best part of Little Women is that it contains no bad men.

That’s it for this week’s Top Picks Thursday! If you’re Irish, enjoy St. Patrick’s Day next week, and then come see us on Thursday for more literary links.

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