Posted by: Kerry Gans | April 2, 2020

Top Picks Thursday! For Writers & Readers 04-02-2020

Welcome to Top Picks Thursday! It is finally April! I hope you are all settling into the new normal of your lives and are safe.

To help pass time and keep us learning, Mary Kole has a workshop intensive called Story Mastermind, and Jane Friedman has a new Newsfeed for book publishing.

You can also help librarians and archivists from your living room!

In author news, writer and editor Richard Marek died at age 86, and award-winning author-illustrator Tomie dePaola died at 85.


Lots of people are taking time to write. David Barnett explores the phenomenon of new novelists in self-isolation, and Grant Faulkner talks about #StayHomeWriMo, brought to you by NaNoWriMo.

Carly Sandifer explains why you should write in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, while Margie Zable Fisher tells how to keep writing and making money during the coronavirus crisis.

Boone Ashworth examines how COVID-19’s impact on libraries goes beyond books, and Michael Agresta reminds us that the seminal novel about the 1918 flu pandemic was written by a Texan.

This is National Poetry Month in the USA. Heather Webb finds beauty and comfort in poetry’s words, and Sir Patrick Stewart reads a Shakespearean sonnet a day on Instagram.

The pandemic is teaching us all a lot of lessons. Roni Loren shares befores and afters: 10 things she’s learning during this pandemic, while Bill Ferris uses his usual comedy in the hack’s guide to writing in a pandemic.


In these shifting times, Joyce Carol Oates discusses new forms of storytelling—and old ones, too.

Amy Jones explores finding the story when writing for very small children.

Many people are thinking of freelancing in their time at home, so Michael Stover has a comprehensive guide for the new freelance writer.

If you are specifically writing a profile piece on someone, Joel Foster lists 8 tips for writing a compelling profile piece.

Since most of us are at least trying to write, craft remains important. Jacqueline Meyers has 4 little letters that will transform your writing process, Rosie O’Neill tells us how to craft a compelling scene, Ruth Harris shows how to rescue an endangered book, and Janice Hardy examines the pros and cons of studying the writing craft and how to plot your novel with mini-arcs.

Our characters are the heart and soul of our story. Jami Gold explores how point of view affects dialogue, Nathan Bransford warns to only show characters crying when they are truly at their wit’s end, Janice Hardy shows how to reveal a character’s past without falling into backstory, Stavros Halvatzis explains how character shapes action, and Lisa Hall-Wilson reveals how to write a compelling emotional trigger.

Editing is the final step to crafting our masterpiece. Alycia W. Morales shares 5 ways newbie fiction writers can improve their manuscripts, Barbara Linn Probst compares peer critique vs. professional editing and when to use each, Henry McLaughlin discusses the art of self-editing, Diana Y. Paul contemplates editing and revising with mindfulness, and Bonnie Randall examines finishing your novel and the grieving process.

Malarie Gokey has 7 reasons ebooks are better than printed books, Robert Lee Brewer compiled 8 Andy Weir quotes for writers and about writing, and Cassie Werber examines how non-English speakers learn this crazy grammar rule you know but never heard of.

Katharine Grubb shares 7 ways to be more creative, Tiffany Joy has 6 secrets to becoming a more productive writer, Amitava Kumar examines the long tradition of writers needing ritual, Erica Wright dispels the myth of perfect writing locations, and Colleen M. Story discusses how to avoid completely wasting your time when trapped at home.


COVID-19 is pulling no punches, and turning lots of people’s worlds upside down. Coastal regional bookstore associations offer additional help to struggling stores, Barnes & Noble closes over 400 stores, Jim Milliot depicts how the coronavirus takes its toll on publishing, and the American Library Association cancels its 2020 annual conference.

If you are self-published, Savannah Cordova shares 5 reasons to consider translating your work, and as you design your book Ellen Buikema discusses white space in writing.

Lots of people consider a pen name when they start writing. David Kudler makes an argument against pen names, except in certain situations.

Truth is, right now nobody knows what’s going on in publishing—or in much of the rest of the business world. Janet Reid offers her advice on querying during the next few months, and on how to approach the reality of the pandemic in the fiction of your work.

None of this is business as usual, even though people are trying hard to keep things as normal as possible. So cut yourself a break, and also give grace and patience to everyone else. We’re all trying to figure it out together.

Marketing, too, has been greatly impacted by the state of the world. Frances Caballo suggests changing the way you market in the COVID-19 era, Sandra Beckwith shares 7 things you need to know about working with a publicist, Sarah Bolme discusses how to overcome the top three challenges to selling books, and Sharon Bially explores the sunny(er) side of launch event cancellations.

With online being the safest way to be with your readers now, Rae Steinbach has tips for authors to convert readers by writing effective calls-to-action, while Cristian Mihai discusses the art of blogging for an audience, and has 10 tips to take your blogging to the next level in 2020.


We wordsmiths often like word games. Adrienne Raphel gives us a brief history of word games.

Looking to pass the time? Rolling Stone lists the 50 greatest rock memoirs of all time.

Environment influences your art. Young William Faulkner’s time in the French Quarter influenced his developing writing style.

Adam Kirsch explores T.S. Eliot’s animus: the role of the poet-critic.

There are some people you don’t want to be on lockdown with: W.H. Auden was a messy roommate.

Then there are quarantine situations that blow your mind: Hemingway was once quarantined for the summer with his wife, son…and mistress.

That’s all for this week’s Top Picks Thursday! Stay safe, stay healthy, stay home if you can!



  1. I love your weekly roundups because they expose me to so much excellent content! Thank you, too, for including my blog. I’m eternally grateful to all of you.


    • Thank you, Sandra. We love reading and including your informative posts.


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