Posted by: Kerry Gans | August 6, 2020

Top Picks Thursday! For Writers & Readers 08-06-2020

Welcome to the first Top Picks Thursday of August! Tropical Storm Isaias just blew through here and knocked out our power, but nothing stops the delivery of our literary links to you! Also, August 9th is National Book Lovers Day, so let’s all celebrate by talking up our favorite books.

Eddie S. Glaudie Jr. explores the vow James Baldwin made to young civil rights activists, while Amy Stolls and Jessica Flynn announce that Lucille Clifton’s Baltimore home will becomes a sanctuary for young artists.

Overseas, Italy’s publishers hail new COVID relief fund for small publishers, and Stacy Mattingly looks at a new generation of writers in Bosnia and Herzegovina narrates life beyond war.

As the world tries to regain its footing, literary museums are reopening amid uncertain futures.


If you like precision and nonfiction, Karen Babine outlines a taxonomy of nonfiction.

Tim Waggoner discusses the many faces of horror and its revitalization.

Every genre comes with its own expectations, and Leslie Budewitz looks at the cozy mystery writer and the conundrum of keeping it clean.

Each writer has a different process, but they all aim at the same result: a solid story that keeps the readers turning the pages. Jael R. Bakari describes a process that develops a coherent story, while Laurie Schnebly Campbell explores how to keep the tension going.

Don’t overlook the sentence-level stuff. Mary Kole warns against overusing the simile, and Elizabeth S. Craig has a quick reminder on transitions.

Description can be a stumbling block for writers. Firn Hyde shares 7 ways to spice up your description, and Bonnie Randall shows how to weave setting into deep point-of-view.

Your characters have to be realistic in how they act and how they sound. James Scott Bell suggests doing a best day and worst day for your characters to get to know them, Nathan Bransford tells us how to spice up relationships in novels, and Stavros Halvatzis explores how to write memorable dialogue.

When writing characters, getting their jobs right is important. Brian Andrews reveals the secret to writing about the Secret Service, E.L. Skip Knox delves into carpentry with history on tree-wrights and others, John Gilstrap demystifies firehouse slang, and Garry Rogers instructs us how to speak cop.

Editing can seem a never-ending process. Beth Barany gives us a checklist to edit for our reader, Debbie Burke list 12 tips to write tight, and Lori Freeland reveals how to process critiques effectively by tuning in vs. tuning out.

If you want to edit, critique, or review other people’s work, there are some things to consider. Jane Friedman shares 3 keys to freelance editing success, while Olivia Folmer Ard explains how to leave a kind review.

Writing a book is never easy. Writing a book in the current times is even harder. Olga Khazan shares how to write a book without losing your mind, Kris Maze has 4 steps to better writer self-care, Bethany Henry gives us 7 ways to deal with burnout, Kim Bullock shows how to use uncertainty to enhance your writing, and Janice Hardy has tips for getting your mojo back in a corona-colored world.


The pandemic has not yet killed publishers. Jane Friedman says US book publishing remains resilient, with print and ebook sales growing, while Jim Milliot looks at publishers playing the pandemic waiting game.

Elizabeth Della Zazzera looks at how The Bookman invented the best seller.

If you write non-fiction, Anne Trubek tells us how to write an email well enough to land a book deal.

When it comes to trying to sell your book to agents, Nathan Bransford reminds us that there’s no excuse for not knowing where your book fits in the market.

Authors are often asked for blurbs. Greer Macallister shares 4 ways to answer a blurb request.

Marketing has moved heavily online with the pandemic. Kate Reed Petty says instead of mimicking in-person events, virtual book readings should make use of the possibilities of the internet. Chrys Fey tells how to do honest and legal giveaways as an author, and Erik Nilsson outlines how book summaries make sales for nonfiction authors.

Katharine Grubb lists 10 local resources that could help you sell books, and M.C.A. Hogarth wonders if Kickstarter is right for you.

Christian Mihai shares 3 creative strategies to grow your blog’s audience in 2020, Nicola Blue has the blogger’s guide to writing better headlines, and Sarah Bolme shows how to engage readers in your book marketing strategy.


This week’s podcast finds:

On The Literary Life with Mitchell Caplan, Susan Wiggs discusses the power and magic of bookstores.

On The Creative Penn, Joanna Penn shares writing and business lessons learned from 500 episodes and 11 years of the Creative Penn Podcast.


For those of us who like to write outside the home, Emily Temple wonders if the coronavirus is the end of us writing in cafes.

If you loved The Little Prince, check out these reviews of the original English release of Saint Exupery’s classic.

Every comic strip has an origin story. Jeet Heer looks at the complex origins of Little Orphan Annie.

Take a peek at the unfortunate and unlikely tale of the world’s “greatest literary sisters,” the Bronte sisters.

David Crystal reveals that some of the earliest written dialogues were in Middle English literature.

Ever wonder where certain words and expressions came from? Merrill Perlman explores the literary etymology of “cake”, while Dan Nosowitz traces the long linguistic journey to “dagnabbit.”

In the era of cell phones, Sophie Haigney pens an elegy for the landline in literature.

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


  1. Thanks for the shout out!


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