Posted by: Kerry Gans | June 18, 2020

Top Picks Thursday! For Writers & Readers 06-18-2020

Welcome to this week’s Top Picks Thursday! As school winds down, parent-writers now have the seasonal child-care summer issue, compounded by COVID restrictions and closures.

In a win for copyright, the Internet Archive National Emergency Library has closed its doors under pressure from infringement lawsuits.

Gill Phillips delves into the worldwide threat to journalists and publishers.

On June 16th, a 30-hour-long production of James Joyce’s Ulysses aired across the world. If you missed it, there is a link to the podcast in the article.

On the anti-racism front, a Missouri woman asks Merriam-Webster to update its definition of racism and official will make the change, and Jim Milliot investigates if race issues in publishing have reached a tipping point.

The world is reopening, but many bookstores are following a go-slow approach to reopening.


Some advice is specifically for certain genres (although sometimes it can be extrapolated to fit another genre). Patty Jansen explains why you should write contemporary romance even if you never publish it, Aretha Phiri and Sam Naidu discuss how African crime and detective fiction is reshaping the genre, and K.B. Owen advises on writing real-life historical characters.

Laurie R. King talks about keeping your series fresh, Cassidy Thomas shares things she learned from publishing her first fantasy novel, while the often-fraught genre of memoir is tackled by Sharon Harrigan exploring how to talk about family in memoir, and Marlene Cullen showing how to freewrite about traumatic events without causing more trauma.

Every writer has a different process. Aliza Mann reminds us that re-evaluting your process from time to time is good. For some people, putting a title to their work is a vital part of that process, so Alex from Ride the Pen compiles advice from 17 authors on how to create a good title.

Building the structural elements of your story can be one of the hardest parts of the process. Stavros Halvatzis explores how to avoid being formulaic, Melissa Donovan demystifies story concept vs. premise, and Kay Keppler shows how to build plot in your story.

Writing is a constant learning process. Sacha Black has 10 tips to improve your prose, Terry Odell takes on transitions, Denise Loock urges us to treat adverbs fairly, and Janice Hardy exposes the hidden danger backstory poses for writers (and it’s not the one you think).

There are lots of little things that are intangible but make a big difference to the reading experience. Jeff Vande Zande reveals the power of short sentences and white space, Kathryn Craft shares 6 ways to incorporate a dash of foreign language, Deena Nataf discusses how to handle a phone conversation, Robert Lee Brewer lists 63 grammar rules for writers and using advice vs. advise, and Sue Coletta looks at where, when, why, and how to use block quotes and ellipses.

Characters make readers care about the story. James Scott Bell tells us how to characterize, Neha Yazmin discusses how to describe your main character in 1st person POV, Jami Gold explores making the right impression in a character introduction and gives 4 tips for creating the right character impression, Nathan Bransford says to listen to your characters but don’t let them run away with you, Katharine Grubb has 9 more ways to write an emotionally abusive character, and Elaine Viets urges us to make characters count.

Editing and revision make our stories the best that they can be. Leigh Pierce defines alpha and beta readers and their uses, Katherine Grubb has 10 questions to ask your beta readers, Nancy Wayson Dinan explores the gap between intention and execution, and Ruth Heald explains how writing groups can help develop your writing.

Inspiration can carry us through the hard times in writing. Sandra Wendel has 4 not so silly writing tips to get words on paper, Jim Dempsey shows the connection between writing and hiking, Jessica Strawser shares 23 quotes to fuel your writing all summer long, and Rachelle Gardner asks: are you in this for the long haul?


Niamh Mulvey shows how low pay and low pay transparency undermine the publishing industry.

John Doppler investigates: what is vanity publishing?

Kris Maze has 3 ways to share your writing with traditional publishers.

Joe Hartlaub reminds us that a “pulp” story may end up being your big hit, so go check your rejected file and see what you can revive.

Janet Reid tells us how to answer when someone assumes selling your book means you are now rich.

Marketing involves multiple communication channels. Barbara Linn Probst discusses blurbing and being blurbed, Sandra Beckwith explains how to pitch to radio and become a talk show guest, and David Hartshorne gives us the best MailChimp alternatives for your business.

Judith Briles examines how we can build better book promotion, Colleen M. Story has the one question that you need to ask to boost your readership, and Frances Caballo discusses book marketing while people march for change.

Blogging is still a good way to reach readers. Kim Lochery lists 100+ blogging statistics that will help you create a better blogging strategy, Cristian Mihai shares 96 lessons she learned after 8 years of blogging, and Jordan Peters asks: are you creative (enough)?


Monika Zgustova writes in celebration of bookstores reopening.

Ezzedine C. Fishere discusses Yusuf Idris, a great Egyptian tragedian.

Jonathan Bate explores the radical afterlives of William Wordsworth.

For fantasy authors, Toni Susnjar lays out the basics of heraldry.

We all have favorite books from the past. Jeffrey Davies explains why you’re allowed to grow out of books and authors.

Bob Greene has a requiem for the printing press.

Check out the 2500 rare texts from the Islamic world to go online for free.

Arika Okrent investigates 12 old words that survived by getting fossilized in idioms.

Libraries store invaluable objects. Sarah Laskow gives us the oldest treasures from 12 great libraries.

That’s all for this week’s Top Picks Thursday! See you next week for more literary links and writerly advice.

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