Posted by: Kerry Gans | July 30, 2020

Top Picks Thursday! For Writers & Readers 7-30-2020

Welcome to the final Top Picks Thursday of July! As the summer heat settles in, find a cool spot and enjoy some literary links.

In awards this week, check out the 2020 Center for Fiction First Novel Prize Longlist, and Walden, Takei, Telgemeier, and Tamaki win the 2020 Eisner Awards in an online ceremony.

Sadly, award-winning author Robert Hellenga died at 78.

Wondering what to add to your reading list? Emily Temple collected what 100 writers have been reading during quarantine.

Also consider reading these 50 most impactful black-authored books of the last 50 years. Then listen as 10 BIPOC creators discuss turning racism into art.

There’s always someone trying to take advantage of you. Debbie Burke highlights some scams that target writers, while Victoria Strauss of Writer Beware looks at some troubles developing at Lethe Press and Seventh Star Press.

If you are searching for a critique group or critique partner, hop over to Janice Hardy’s twice-yearly group to match people together.


Getting started can be the hardest part of a work. D.I. Hughes reviews the elements of a solid novel, plus steps to take before you even start writing; Jennifer Kerslake has a 10 step guide to planning your novel, and once you’re ready to go, Brian Andrews reveals how to write a powerful, enticing, intriguing, amazing opening line to your novel.

Terry Odell examines foreshadowing in our work by discussing breadcrumbs in writing and making the reader buy the premise.

Our characters bring our story to life. Bob Hostetler talks naming characters, Jami Gold thinks about characters’ jobs, Stavros Halvatzis stresses the importance of finding the viewpoint character in your story, Antonio del Drago examines intelligent and immoral villains, and Ellen Buikema explores creating memorable animal characters.

Editing takes up a large chunk of time—and sometimes money. Christina Consolino lists 10 tips to help you self-edit, Melissa Donovan suggests referring to the Chicago Manual of Style, and Sue Coletta shares keyboard shortcuts to help keep us in the flow when writing.

Writers always strive for some sort of resonance or relevance in their writing. David James Poissant questions how to write a timely novel in a world that won’t stop changing, Jessica Faust discusses the changing world and your writing, and Marion Roach Smith tells us why to write memoir right now.

Anne R. Allen looks at what to write when you can’t write what you know, Jasmine Guillory admits she can’t be a writer if she doesn’t write every day, and Sandra Beckwith urges writers to start their book publishing journey with knowledge.

Writers are often readers. Rachelle Gardner explains why you should be if you are not, and Sacha Black explores the true meaning of “read more to improve your writing.”

Sometimes the writing comes hard. Chrys Fey looks at what writer’s block is, Stan Parish tells us how he cured his writer’s block with techno, and Austin Kleon laments that he forgot how to write again.

In these disruptive times, Lisa Tener explains how to stay focused and write, while Barbara O’Neal explores how to write during a pandemic even if it feels like you can’t.


Audiobooks and podcasting are on the rise, according to Duncan Stewart, Mark Casey, and Craig Wigginton.

A popular self-publishing platform, PublishDrive is moving to an all subscription model. David Kudler breaks down what that means to authors.

Every author wants to get on the best-seller list. David Barnett wonders if it is fair for an author to get higher on the bestseller lists by buying his own books?

There has been talk of compensation equity in publishing of late. Paul D. Marks shares his view on whether comparing contracts is helpful or not. In self-publishing, Kristine Kathryn Rusch examines the Kickstarter game changer that could shake the foundations of publishing.

In this time of limited travel, Karen Seiger discusses a guidebook editor’s dilemma.

If you want to reach audiences around the world, you need your book translated. Linda Ruggeri has 6 tips to translate your work effectively.

Marketing means getting the word out about your book. Dan Blank explains the concept of human-centered marketing, Sabrina Ricci gives us 176 resources and tools to market and launch your book, and Sharon Bially promises that “spoilers” won’t spoil your book if used properly in book promotion.

Online is the way to go these days. Chrys Fey walks us through how to create a free book trailer using Adobe Spark, David Hartshorne compares the 7 best managed WordPress hosting companies, the AskALLi Team posts the ultimate guide to content repurposing, and Cristian Mihai urges us to blog outside the box with 18 unconventional ideas to help you bed the rules.


We are finding more podcasts of interest now, so any week we have more than one podcast in our list we will break them out into their own group. Some podcasts also have a transcript attached, if you prefer reading to listening. Here are this week’s:

Roz Morris discusses how to write a sequel and when not to.

In an interview, Joanna Penn asks Nick Thacker about writing action adventure fiction and systems thinking.

Penny Sansevieri examines how to reach Bookstagrammers.


PJ Grisar investigates why Dorothy Parker’s ashes were interred at NAACP headquarters.

Books are windows into the soul. Shelia Liming shares what Edith Wharton’s library tells us about her reading habits.

Rachel Cohen delves into Jane Austen’s politics of walking, while Sophie Gee writes about the consolations of Jane Austen.

Want a challenge while in quarantine? Don Vaughan gives us literary world records for books and authors.

That’s all for this week’s Top Picks Thursday! Stay cool, stay safe, and we will see you next week.


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