Posted by: Kerry Gans | July 16, 2020

Top Picks Thursday! For Writers & Readers 07-16-2020

Welcome to this week’s Top Picks Thursday! It’s mid-July and it’s hot, so here are some cool links to check out.

In awards news, Colson Whitehead was awarded the 2020 Library of Congress Prize for American Fiction, while the National Book Awards makes the move to digital November 18.

This week, renowned author and UW creative writing professor Brad Watson died at age 64.

Writers are often the victims of piracy and scams. The AskALLi Team examines if copyright is broken in their guide to managing piracy, while John Doppler shares case studies of how victims of vanity presses become repeat victims.

Rachel Deahl explores how #PublishingPaidMe exposed racial inequalities.

If you are missing your library, you can virtually visit some of Europe’s great libraries.

Looking for something new to read? The final Terry Pratchett never-before-published stories are to be published in September.


For those who love poetry or who are just finding their way to poetry, Melissa Donovan looks at finding meaning in poetry.

If you want to sell your story when it’s done, understanding genre is important. Stavros Halvatzis describes what genres are, and Mary Kole examines the feasibility of writing in different children’s books genres and categories.

When you are in the beginning stages of your work, planning and brainstorming, there are many big-picture elements to handle. James Scott Bell suggests drawing your plot, while Kris Maze lists 7 unstoppable YA plot ideas to make your novel fabulous. Eleanor Konik advises crafting a myth cycle by thinking of your deity as a celebrity, and Kathryn Craft zeros in on identifying and crafting your inciting incident.

When dealing with your characters, Nathan Bransford reminds us that shy characters don’t have to be passive, and Katharine Grubb has 13 mistakes you could be making in narrative voice.

We discussed some big-picture issues above, but there’s a myriad of tiny issues to be aware of as well. Dana Isaacson has 14 rules for writing numbers in fiction, Robert Lee Brewer demystifies creak vs. creek, Terry Odell tackles roaming body parts, and Elaine Viets flags words we love to hate.

Editing is vital to getting a good product out into the world. Terri Nixon discusses the process of editing, Henry McLaughlin has the art of self-editing (part 3), and John Peragine looks at the importance of the triple edit.

Sandra Beckwith reminds us why quality counts in the writing business. Reedsy examines typography and how you can get it right, Katharine Grubb shows how to enhance your prose with poetry, and Becca Puglisi takes lessons on improving your writing by studying the brothers Grimm.

Writing is a very mental profession—it can be a struggle to get words on the page for various emotional and psychological reasons. Jami Gold suggests organization for our creativity and our career, Glenn Leibowitz urges us to consider “the curse of knowledge” in our writing, Laurisa White Reyes gives us tips to help  us finish, and Melanie Conklin examines the huge psychological difference in writing book two.


In the publishing world, it’s all about the numbers. Jim Milliot reports that print units posted a surprising increase in the first half of 2020, and Anne Trubek explains how publishers decide what books to publish.

For those of us in the query trenches, Tamela Hancock Murray tackles the question: how long should writers wait for an answer?

Marketing means getting your book out there into the world. Julie Glover reveals your very best author marketing plan, Brian Jud tells us how to make inroads into the homeschool market, Ilham Alam shares 6 steps to get your self-published book into libraries, Ed Nawotka shows how book launches are getting more creative, and Carol Newman Cronin walks us through creating a virtual book launch.

There are a ton of online ways to present your work to best advantage, if we know how to get the most out of each avenue. Dave Chesson lays out how to best use the Amazon editorial review section, Nate Hoffelder explains why you need a template for your newsletter and what to put in it, Anne R. Allen shares Yoast SEO secrets, and Cristian Mihai lists the 5 most overlooked habits of extremely successful bloggers.


With many of us still seeking in-home entertainment, Paula Munier has her top 10 documentaries about writers (part 2).

Brian Castleberry writes on Saul Bellow’s celebration of the messy and manic.

Shakespeare is classic, but Michael Glover explores what’s so hard about painting Shakespeare.

On the literary anniversary of Frog and Toad, Phillip Maciak compiles author and illustrator reflections on what Arnold Lobel’s Frog and Toad series means to them.

Alex Ross comments on Willa Cather’s quietly shattering war novel.

For those of us feeling trapped at home, Andre Aciman chases literary ghosts in St. Petersburg.

In these days of political upheaval Kristian Williams examines the men who brought political radicalism to Oscar Wilde.

For a bit of fun: Electric Literature has a handy infographic for writing your “leaving New York” essay.

That’s all for this week’s Top Picks Thursday! We’ll see you all next week for more literary links.


  1. Hi guys, Laura Drake here, formerly of Writers in the Storm. I’m now blogging on my own website, writing tips and inspiration. Wondering if/how I can get mentioned on your Top Picks Thursday… Thanks,Laura ‘Ordinary women at the edge of extraordinary change’ 2014 RITA® winner – Best First Book @LauraDrakeBooks  


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