Posted by: Kerry Gans | October 22, 2020

Top Picks Thursday! For Writers and Readers 10-22-2020

Welcome to this week’s Top Picks Thursday! Halloween inches closer, and at least here, beautiful weather has been the norm. Grab your pumpkin spice fix and enjoy the links

Alison Flood reports that imprisoned Eritrean poet Amanuel Asrat has been named the International Writer of Courage.

Like spooky tales? SCBWI members can submit to their “Haunted States of America” anthology.

Writer Beware’s Victoria Strauss has a bad contract alert for EMP Entertainment and A&D Entertainment.

If you are doing NaNoWriMo, Roz Morris advises to plan your characters and improvise your plot.

These crazy times might make us question whether our time is best spent writing. Nathan Bransford reminds us that, yes, our writing matters.


We Chroniclers mostly write long fiction, but here Nancy Stohlman extols the benefits of writing flash fiction.

Do you prefer horror? Evie Green talks about writing a horror novel without intending to write horror, and Dustin Grinnell discusses plausible scares, blending the real and unreal in horror fiction.

Even those of us who are pantsers need to have some idea what the story is about and what the next scene will need. Barbara Linn Probst digs into what your story is about, in a word, phrase, sentence, and equation; Laurence MacNaughton walks us through getting ready to write a scene in 10 minutes, Stavros Halvatzis shows how to plot through character, and Zoe M. McCarthy explains why readers leave your story when it doesn’t start in the right place.

How do we create characters readers root for? Janice Hardy explains the reason readers didn’t care about your protagonist and 4 tips on making them care, Jim Dempsey says to ground your characters with all five senses, Alli Sinclair advises asking the right questions with character interviews, Katharine Grubb shares 4 more defense mechanisms for your character, and Janice Hardy reveals an easy way to find your protagonist’s goal.

Every writer has a unique process. Sara Marschand discusses what good writers do, and Gregory Maguire says Wicked wouldn’t have been what it is if he hadn’t written the novel by hand, Cory Doctorow says kids use reason and adults rationalize, Anne Greenwood Brown shows how to use punctuation to communicate without words, and Terry Odell clarifies using apostrophes.

What gets you stuck when you write? It’s often something emotional that’s interfering. Kris Maze has 3 ways to shipwreck your creativity and what to do instead, Elizabeth S. Craig investigates what’s slowing you down as you write, Katharine Grubb lists 5 more things you can do if you are stuck, and Jenny Hansen reveals the 5 fears that spook most writers.


Sometimes it seems like the publishing world changes daily. Paul Dinas tells us how to survive and thrive in the brave new world of publishing.

If freelancing is your thing, Rachel Carrington has the geeky science-fiction method to get freelance writing gigs.

Agent Janet Reid reminds us that clever has its place, but it’s not in a synopsis, and tells us what to do if you really don’t want to be on Twitter for marketing.

Marketing has quite the learning curve. Michelle Melton Cox shares what she learned about author platform from her 12-year-old, Judith Briles highlights a few of her favorite author marketing tools, Diana Urban gives us 20 great examples of author bios, and Diane Brophy tells us how to prepare for our author photo.

Sandra Beckwith debunks 3 Amazon reader review myths, Penny Sansevieri discusses effective social media for your best book marketing campaign, and Sue Coletta shares video marketing and social media tips.

Mailing lists are a vital piece of your marketing plan. Stephanie Chandler suggests offering bonus content throughout your prescriptive nonfiction book to build your mailing list, and Debbie Burke lists 10 tips on how NOT to manage your email list.

Lots of authors blog to interact with their audience. Nina Amir has a beginner’s guide to creating a WordPress blog, Penny Sansevieri says bloggers will help promote your self-published books, and Stefanie Flaxman shares a 5-point blueprint to know when you are done editing.

In this article, Sam Sedam talks ISBNs and book discovery with Bowker’s Beat Barblan. There is also an extended podcast with more information.


On the Newberry Tart podcast, Jenny and Marcie talk with Kathryn Lasky about the character perspective that most interests her.

Mitzi Ripkin of the First Draft podcast hosts Claire Messud on Chekov’s best advice.

Joanna Penn and Pamela Wilson discuss building a creative business brand on the Creative Penn.

Laura Drake shares a video of craft tips to strengthen your writing.


Love Shakespeare? Get all the Shakespeare mugs!

Love Halloween? Treat yourself to some bookish Halloween shirts.

Melissa Baron investigates the most cited poems.

Need some quarantine reading? Check out Time magazine’s 100 best fantasy books of all time.

That’s all for this week’s Top Picks Thursday! See you next week for more tricks, tips, and treats.


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