Posted by: Kerry Gans | November 5, 2020

Top Picks Thursday! For Writers & Readers 11-05-2020

Welcome to the first Top Picks Thursday of November! Next week is National Young Readers Week, so get some books into some young hands.

In two timely posts, Erica J. Smith lists books to help young readers understand democracy and elections, and Literary Hub reprints Shirley Jackson’s eerily contemporary letter about fear.

Losing a literary light: Booker nominated author Julia O’Faolain has died at age 88.

Leah Rachel von Essen brings us the winners of the 2020 World Fantasy Awards.

We all know reading helps shape the brain, but a new study suggests that reading literary versus popular fiction promotes different socio-cognitive processes. As readers, we are not static—Roni Loren explores the nature of reading evolution.

Opening doors: Dominique Jones helps ease the path for Black book designers.

Warning! Victoria Strauss dissects a scam as crooks impersonate literary scouts.


Doing NaNoWriMo? Katharine Grubb has 8 close-talking, double-dipping tips to succeed at NaNoWriMo, and Jessica Strawser lists 5 tips for NaNoWriMo success.

Unsure about tackling flash fiction? Nancy Stohlman shares 5 reasons to write flash fiction.

Structure supports you story like a skeleton. Kristen Lamb explains why some stories fall apart and fail to hook readers, K.M. Weiland explores the power of chiastic story structure (especially in a series), and Gilbert Bassey has 4 ways to fix a boring story.

Every story has an idea behind it, something the author is exploring. David Pennington suggests cratedigging if your story idea needs a makeover, and Janice Hardy gives us 3 ways to deepen your novel’s premise.

Worldbuilding captures your reader’s imagination. Jami Gold reveals how to worldbuild piecemeal, Stephanie Kane discusses writing about the unfamiliar, Stavros Halvatzis explores how location influences your story, and Terry Odell lists tips for distant settings.

Compelling characters will pull your reader in. Barbara O’Neal looks at using memory vs. backstory to deepen character, while Katharine Grubb reveals why mutually exclusive desires make great conflicts.

There are so many smaller craft elements that a writer has to think about to get a story to work. Bonnie Randall has tips on bringing the scary to your novel, Kassandra Lamb says that writing light doesn’t have to mean writing fluffy, Janet Reid addresses citing science in your work, and Sue Coletta shows how to use color to test your story.

Lee Purcell talks about writing dystopian novels in dystopian times, Garry Rodgers explores how understanding songs benefits novel writers, Jackson Dickert shares a tool that helps him manage his novel writing, and David Farland discusses the difference between learning to write vs. learning to be a writer.


In publishing news, Jim Milliot reports that print unit sales were still solid in late October.

If you want to keep up with the fast-changing publishing industry in 2020, Nathan Bransford has a list of resources for you.

While copyright attaches to a work as soon as it is in tangible form, Liani Kotcher explains why waiting too long to register copyright can hurt you.

Get more revenue streams out of your story: Andrew Neiderman tells us this is the golden age of book adaptations for TV.

Freelancing more your style? Evan Jensen has 13 scary-good tips to unmask freelance success.

Whether self-publishing or going the traditional route, you need to know your genre. Rachelle Gardner talks identifying you novel’s genre, and Jessica Thompson discusses finding your genre.

Queries can make a writer crazy. Nathan Bransford shows how to format a query letter, and how to weave more voice into a query letter, while Janet Reid tells us the protocol for bios in an online portal format.

Nonfiction book marketing can be tough. Jane Friedman shares reasons nonfiction books don’t sell, and Penny Sansevieri explores cookbook marketing for self-published authors.

Selling ourselves does not come easy for many writers. Ev Bishop educates us on Branding 101, Steven Spatz says negative reviews are a part of life and gives us creative inspiration for book selling in quarantine, and Lisa Tener has a guide to nail TV interviews and videos.

Social media is a good way to connect with our readers. Florence Osmund reviews the pros and cons of being on social media, and Barbara Linn Probst explores if using a social media assistant is right for you.


On the WMFA podcast with Courtney Balestier, R.O. Kwon chats about keeping faith in the writing process.

The Just the Right Book podcast with Roxanne Coady features Mark Slater talking about how reading Hemingway shaped John McCain’s honor code.

On The Creative Penn podcast with Joanna Penn, she discusses how to write and market books across multiple genres with Wendy H. Jones.


For early Christmas shoppers, Kelly Jensen has the ultimate guide to book socks for readers.

Writing retreats are popular for a reason. Heather Clark investigates Sylvia Plath’s creative breakthrough at the Yaddo Artists’ Colony.

Sam Lubell looks at the architectural tastes of 6 iconic writers.

For poetry lovers, Nicholas McDowell writes on John Milton, the Gunpowder Plot, and the poet who laughed at purgatory.

The New Yorker prints an excerpt from Barack Obama’s highly anticipated memoir.

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



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