Posted by: Kerry Gans | September 18, 2020

Top Picks Thursday! For Writers & Readers 09-17-2020

Welcome to this week’s Top Picks Thursday! How is it the middle of September already? Fall is peeking in where I live—some chilly mornings recently. So grab a warm drink, cuddle up, and enjoy the links below!

PEN America names Ayad Akhtar its next president.

Frances Ryan makes the case that publishing must make room for disabled writers.

Say cheese! Colleen M. Story has the 7 top mistakes authors make with their author photos.

Kathryn Craft brings us a quiz that is actually helpful to writers.

Libraries are so much more than book warehouses. Jennie Rothschild exposes the inconvenient truth about library e-collections, and Porter Anderson reports that Sharjah World Book Capital is leading Beirut libraries restoration aid efforts.


Sarah Burton has tips on writing historical fiction, and Celia Martin examines historical fiction and accuracy.

If you are a memoir writer, Kristen Lamb investigates where the hero’s journey meets memoir.

Sophie Masson explores writing chapter books for young readers.

A fan of re-told tales? MacyKate Connolly shares a 5-step process for reworking a classic story.

Getting plot right can be a bear. David Brown and Michelle Barker look at situation vs. plot, Juliet Marillier tackles writing a many-stranded story, Melissa Donovan discusses plot vs. character in storytelling, and Laura Drake has advice for pantsers.

Finding our way to the end of a manuscript can be fraught. Jami Gold ponders: does every story need conflict?; Hank Phillippi Ryan says if you need a good idea, make a list; Laurence McNaughton shares the 3 minute scene fix, and Stavros Halvatzis shows how to get to the finalized manuscript.

What about those characters that inhabit our stories? Pamela Redmond explains how character names create great stories, and Heather Griffin walks us through how to create supporting roles in fiction.

Editing can smooth out the rough edges, but it’s not always an easy process. You have word pitfalls like moral vs. amoral vs. immoral, annoying eggcorns, and the fluidity of grammar in our ever-changing society. Jim Dempsey talks about editing at your own pace, while Lucia Tang reveals the art of the constructive critique.


In publishing news, September begins with a 17.5% gain in unit sales, bookstore unions are stepping up, and the wildfires are taking a tool on booksellers and publishers.

For self-publishers, Sandra Beckwith has compiled 25 things authors wished they had known before self-publishing, Joanna Penn shares lessons learned from 9 years as an author entrepreneur, and John Doppler lists 5 important tips for vetting community-specific publishers.

If you are looking to take your book audio, Tina Dietz answers 3 questions about the hidden potential of audiobooks, and Alexa Glazer has tips for publishing audiobooks.

For those seeking traditional representation, Janet Reid defines certain publishing terminology and discusses re-querying after major revisions, Mary Kole explains title formatting for manuscripts, and Janice Hardy tells us why query letters matter to self-published authors, too.

Marketing your book means getting the word out there. The AskALLi Team has the ultimate guide to the perfect books cover, Adam Connell compares 9 powerful email marketing services, and Judith Briles has 24 sites to send a press release.

For internet connection with readers, Cristian Mihai gives us 5 steps to becoming a better blogger, and Frances Caballo gives us 55 ideas for when we’re not sure what to tweet.


At First Draft podcast, Margot Livesey talks about choosing the right idea for a new book, and Cherie Dimaline discusses representing Native youth in her work.

On Quarantine Tapes with Paul Holdengraber, Daniel Mendelsohn examines how Greek tragedy speaks to our present moment.

Joanna Penn (with transcript) and Erin Wright look at publishing wide for the win.


Looking at black writers in America, Matt Sandler discusses Albert Allson Whitman, a radical black poet of the Reconstruction, and Book marks looks back at the first reviews of Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God.

Check out these Spanish-world authors as well, both obscure and well-known. Theresa Machemer remembers the forgotten women writers of 17th-century Spain, and Alvaro Santana-Acuna investigates if a revolution in Latin American publishing made One Hundred Years of Solitude the success it is today.

Classics come in all shapes and sizes—and sometimes in the mail. Neil Nyren examines Alexander McCall Smith’s crime classics, while W. Scott Olsen writes in praise of the mail order book clubs of his childhood.

Sadly, George R.R. Martin can’t build a castle library in New Mexico.

Speaking of libraries, do you need a library science degree to work in a library?

And what made black and blue pens standard?

When houses are characters in the story: The house that inspired Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights is for sale, and Giovanna Centano discusses haunted houses and reading Shirley Jackson in quarantine.

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

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