Posted by: Kerry Gans | April 9, 2020

Top Picks Thursday! For Writers & Readers 04-09-2020

Welcome to this week’s Top Picks Thursday! April 10th is Encourage a Young Writer Day—and this is a good time to encourage journaling or other ways to express themselves in writing as they deal with these strange and stressful times.

This week, journalist and author Patricia Bosworth dies at 86 from complications of coronavirus.

Jacqueline Winspear examines women in war: on great correspondents past and present.

Artists have always had to fight against censorship and copyright infringement. Wallis Wilde-Menozzi discusses the time Guiseppe Verdi and other Italian radicals battled censorship, while Victoria Strauss explains the copyright issues with Internet Archive’s National Emergency Library and the Authors Guild and the Association of American Publishers speak up about the same.

Still, books and libraries are an important source of support and comfort in our strange world right now. Deborah and James Fallows explores public libraries’ novel response to a novel virus, Amanda Craig lists the best new children’s books for now, and Alex Green looks at new works by writers with disabilities as they hit publisher lists.

When we lose an indigenous language, we lose an entire cultural heritage. Lorraine Boissoneault follows the fight to keep indigenous languages alive through speaking, software, and daycare.

It’s April, which means taxes, so Jenny Hansen has a tax-time chat for authors.


BookCon launches a virtual Read-A-Thon to boost authors and provide entertainment to those of us stuck indoors.

Many creatives are having a rough time actually being creative right now. Anne R. Allen discusses writing through our collective grief, Lisa Cooper Ellison has tips on writing from the bottom rung, and Dave Chesson tells us how to be a productive, healthy writer during mentally draining times.

Many of us are sequestered at home, some with our children, some with spouses, some alone. Roni Loren has stay-at-home tips and apps for maintaining (some) sanity, while Emily Raboteau looks at homeschooling in a pandemic.

James Scott Bell looks forward and asks: how will our fiction change post-pandemic?


Why should we write and read historical fiction? Eliot Pattison explains how historical fiction allows us to discover new truths in the past.

Williard Spiegelman has some fun with the frabjous delights of seriously silly poetry.

Helena Dixon asks when we learned to read, and explores how what we read influences what we write.

Writers have to juggle many story elements, both large and small, to make a story work. Christina Kaye gives tips to plot and outline your novel, the Moonlight Writer examines what theme is, Dario Ciriello discusses what a chapter is and how long one should be, while Janice Hardy has a trifecta with how to set tone and mood in your scenes, 5 questions to ask for stronger scenes, and the subtle little things holding your novel back.

Characters bring there own set of craft elements to consider. Stavros Halvatzis delves into wants vs. needs, Jenn Walton shows how to deepen your characters by assessing their fears, Donald Maass looks at the upside of anxiety, and Jami Gold gets textual with whether or not character internalization should be italicized.

Editing your book is essential, and there are multiple approaches to getting it done. Estelle Erasmus has 11 tips for self-editing, while Melinda Copp gives us a complete guide to writing your book with a developmental editor.

We are always searching for ways to be more productive. Rhonda Kaysen and Michelle Higgins discuss how to organize your home office for best results, Katherine Grubb describes how Marie Condo can make you a more productive writer, Cathy Yardley examines how to a hit a balance between productivity and chaos, and Laina Turner advises how to hold yourself accountable as an author.

We’re all a tad distracted by world events right now. Susan DeFrietas uses metaphorical stepladders to help her, Matthew Stibbe has 22 ways to help you focus on writing, William Fazer talks getting rid of distractions while writing, Christine Hennebury lists 5 ways to ease distraction so you can write, and Becca Puglisi gives us practical tips for writing in the time of coronavirus.

We can always improve our skills. Daniel Parsons explores 5 literature degree lessons in 5 paragraphs, and Melinda Copp offers the Type-A guide to becoming a better writer.

Andrea Oh lists free or cheap resources for emerging writers, Rachelle Gardner has 11 things happy writers don’t do; and Sacha Black explains how to survive your first year as a full-time author.


The coronavirus is having a huge impact on publishing, as in all other aspects of life. Nathan Bransford has an interview with Mike Shatzkin on how corinavirus will change the publishing industry, Beth Meacham explains why publishing is in so much trouble right now, and Jim Milliot examines how coronavirus concerns are prompting cost cuts.

On the bookstore side, John Warner urges us to buy a book from our local indie bookstore, because we are going to need them when the lockdown is over, while Alison Flood reports that book sales surge as self-isolating readers stock up on “bucket list” novels.

Agent Janet Reid weighs the pros and cons of writing a memoir vs. novelizing the same subject, the Passive Voice advises people to read their contracts for Force Majeure clauses, and Karen DeBonis shares a creative way to handle rejections.

A lot of book marketing mainstays have fallen by the wayside in this time. Sandra Beckwith gathers suggestions for book marketing in a time of quarantine, while Amy Collins looks at book promotion in a time of pandemic.

Some parts of marketing never change. Beth Barany shares 4 elements to craft your author bio, David Gaughran has 13 ways to increase your email open rate, Mark Xavier Quadros explains the email marketing metrics every campaign should be based on, and Penny C. Sansevieri shares the ultimate guide to SEO for authors to increase your online presence.

Right now online contact is not only the most efficient, but the safest way to stay in contact with your readers. Lyn Wildwood compares the 6 best WordPress theme builders, Cristian Mihai explains how to make blog readers fall in love with your words and whether to niche or not niche your blog, while Frances Caballo dives deep into social media safety tips.


Kelly Blewett is rethinking Amy March in light of Lousia May Alcott’s sister May Alcott Nieriker.

An exhibition celebrates Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s long road to becoming a writer.

As writers, we like to play with words. LitHub examines foxed, fuddled, swallowed a hare, and other words for “drunk” from A Pocket Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue.

Emily Temple examines what your go-to quarantine read says about you.

For a  bit of humor, Daniel Pollack-Pelzner envisions what Shakespeare actually did during the plague.

That’s it for this week’s Top Picks Thursday! Enjoy Easter if you celebrate, stay safe, stay healthy!

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