Posted by: Kerry Gans | July 2, 2020

Top Picks Thursday! For Writers & Readers 07-02-2020

Welcome to the first Top Picks Thursday of July! We have reached summer and it’s hot out there! Read on for some cool links to writerly stuff.

SCBWI announced the 2020 Crystal Kite Winners.

The book world has lost some literary lights. Eminent biographer Robert Richardson dies at age 86, and author of The Graduate Charles Webb dies at age 81.

The protests against racial injustice continue in America, and the effects are being felt everywhere. Hillel Italie reports most board members have resigned from the Thriller Writers Association, Rafia Zakaria warns us to beware the allies of whiteness, Cree Myles says if you really want to unlearn racism, read black sci-fi authors, and Rachelle Gardner addresses a concern many are struggling with: should authors “stay in their lane”?


Certain genres have certain expected elements. Elizabeth S. Craig explains why funerals are essential elements in cozy mysteries, Kris Maze shows us how to tell if you are writing a YA novel, and Sarah Rexford tackles tropes and how to make them credible, not cliché.

If you are considering (or are already writing) a long-running series, Alison Flood interviews different authors on how they handle the evolution (or not) of their series protagonist.

There are a lot of things to consider when writing your story. Olivia Rana discusses how to get a sense of place in a book—with and without traveling there, Leanna Renee Hieber shares theatrical shortcuts for dynamic fiction, Stavros Halvatzis tells how to write gripping stories, and Katharine Grubb lists 5 requirements for the beginning of your bestseller.

Lots of craft issues can derail your reader’s enjoyment of the book, even craft issues that seem small. Jodie Renner has quick tips for avoiding viewpoint gaffes in your fiction, Jami Gold examines chapter breaks and chapter titles, Robert Lee Brewer demystifies further vs. farther, and Mathina Calliope takes on commas.

All your characters have to carry their weight, and we strive to make them as interesting as possible. Hank Phillippi Ryan explores finding your character’s motivation, Laurie R. King shows how to make your supporting characters shine, Antonio del Drago investigates the shadow archetype and powerful villains, Ellen Buikema has how to develop a memorable character, John J. Kelley looks at writing characters with trauma, and Tamar Sloane has a book list of craft books that delve into psychology.

We always need to edit our work, and learning to self-edit as a first step can save us money when hiring a professional editor. Henry McLaughlin dives into the art of self-editing, Jamie Gold discusses fixing sentence flow and choppy writing, and James Scott Bell looks at how to move from one scene to the next.

All writers are searching for inspiration, but sometimes we find blocks instead. Patricia McAlexander muses on inspiration, Natasa Lekic describes how to overcome creative burnout, and Jacqueline Myers shares the best-kept secret “real” writers use to crush writer’s block.

The writing journey is long and complex. Ruth Harris gives us 5 unforced errors writers make that stand between themselves and success, Martha Alderson examines the emotional roller coaster all writers experience, and Janelle Harris Dixon reminds us that Toni Morrison proved there’s no time limit for success.


Katie Law interviewed literary figures on why booksellers thrived during lockdown and what’s next, while Jim Milliot reports that print sales enjoy an unexpected high. Meanwhile, Olivia Snaije tells us that because of the coronavirus, international language bookshops in Paris formed their own union.

In the US, audiobook market value was up 16% in 2019, but Mark Williams wonders how much the delivery model holds back audiobook sales.

If you are searching for agents, Mary Kole has advice about your query letter hook and revealing the ending, while Tamela Hanclock Murray has tips for writing a timeless author bio that you won’t outgrow.

Marketing is all about reaching people. Jessica White discusses networking as a newbie author, Sonia Frontera shares 5 book marketing lessons learned from her first indie book, and Courtney Link lists 3 ways to think like a book publicist.

Blogging is still a good way to reach an audience. Cristian Mihai talks about the biggest mistake a beginning blogger can make and explains the reason you get lost along the way, while Kim Lochery dives deep into the data to figure out: when is the best time to publish a blog post?


If you love J.R.R. Tolkien, John Garth walks us through the landscapes that influenced Tolkien’s Middle Earth.

Masatsugu Ono discusses the phenomenon of translationese.

Martha Ackmann delves into the encounter that revealed a different side of Emily Dickinson.

Great literature is timeless. David Denby examines the lockdown lessons of Crime and Punishment.

That’s all for this week’s Top Picks Thursday! See you next week for more literary links. Stay safe out there, and enjoy the 4th of July holiday!

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