Posted by: Kerry Gans | November 12, 2020

Top Picks Thursday! For Writers & Readers 11-12-2020

Welcome to this week’s Top Picks Thursday! Not book related, but Friday is World Kindness Day, and that’s something we all could use more of these days!

Are you eligible? SCBWI has more than 35 awards and grants available, and Sarah Hannah Gomez shares 10 non-ALA YA and children’s book awards.

If you are looking for something to read in the upcoming winter months, Aida Edmariam explains why The Secret Garden is a book for our times, while JR Ramakrishnan profiles 7 literary translators making contemporary world literature accessible to English readers.

We are mid-November. Katharine Grubb guides us to surviving NaNoWriMo in 16 easy steps.


Structure forms the skeleton of your story. Thomas Gessey-Jones, Colm Connaughton, Robin Dunbar, Ralph Kenna, Pádraig MacCarron, Cathal O’Conchobhair, and Joseph Yose show how the narrative structure of A Song of Ice and Fire creates a fictional world with realistic measures of social complexity, while Tiffany Yate Martin reveals 4 story weaknesses that lead to a sagging middle.

Then there is that all-important first chapter, the one writers lose so much sleep over. PJ Parrish lists the dos and don’ts of a great first chapter, while Janice Hardy shares 5 ways you’re smothering your reader in your opening scene.

Your characters have to engage your readers. Kristen Lamb has tips for building a strong protagonist, Mary Kole tackles writing character thoughts, Angela Ackerman explains how to show a character’s emotional wound through behavior, and Janice Hardy looks at how to handle multiple speakers in a scene without confusing the reader.

Getting to “the end” can be difficult. Janice Hardy lists 10 ways to get a stuck story moving again, while Roz Morris introduces the panic document, for when you fear your book has a major flaw and you need to diagnose what’s really wrong.

Writers need lots of inspiration to get us through the process. Stavros Halvatzis discusses how to get started, Brian Andrews gives us 7 tips how to beat writer’s block, Elizabeth S. Craig pulls inspiration from the past, and Katharine Grubb explains why novelists should go to plays.

There are a lot of intangibles in the writing craft. Sandra Ciscernos delves into narrative voice, Kristin Bair has fearless writing advice from fiction’s most fearful protagonist, K.M. Weiland asks if you are growing as a writer, and Julie Carrick Dalton ponders finding truth in story.


The indie book platform Bookshop is making the news. Tufayel Ahmed introduces you to Bookshop, the indie platform taking on Amazon, while Sharmaine Lovegrove celebrates Bookshop expanding to the UK.

If you are self-publishing, Laurisa White Reyes shares a secret to successful self-publishing: invest in your team.

Struggling to find good-paying freelance work? Jen Jones reveals the lucrative discount way to win top clients.

Going traditional? Jessica Faust discusses the key to every successful author-agent relationship, and Jennifer Tucker explains how to craft an effective book pitch.

Marketing comes in all shapes, and there is no one-size-fits-all approach. Siera London looks at what kind of marketing plan will work for us, Penny Sansevieri infographics how to market a self-published book for the holidays, Laura Drake ruminates over what marketing books and garage sales have in common, and Lisa Tener examines virtual book marketing in a pandemic.

Kate Tilton lays out how to find your target audience, Melinda VanLone covers the bases with book cover 101, Penny Sansevieri reminds you to freshen up your Amazon book promotion, Sandra Beckwith lists 5 book launch prep essentials, and Dena McMurdie has a writer’s formula to get 100% more traffic on your blog.

Social media and the internet are a great way to connect with your readers, when done right. Kim Lochery gives us 21 ways you’re probably violating social media guidelines without realizing, David Hartshorne reviews the SE Ranking tool for your SEO needs, Adam Connell shares the 7 best Hootsuite alternatives, Kris Maze tells how to autopost to Instagram in 3 steps, and Cyn Meyer explores 5 ways to sell your books on your own author website.


On the WMFA podcast with Courtney Balestier, Deesha Philyaw says publishing is not what you want driving your self-worth.

Mitzi Rapkin on the First Draft podcast talks to Bryan Washington about giving his characters the capacity for love even when they don’t have the language for it.

The History of Literature podcast tackles the history of romance novels, a billion-dollar industry.

Joanna Penn’s The Creative Penn podcast discusses networking for authors with Daniel Parsons.


As we approach gift-giving season, Stacey Megally compiles 40 bookish inscription-ready quotes to write in books you give as gifts.

Kelly Jensen explains why she still uses and likes Goodreads.

Tom Comitta supplies a brief history of citational fiction and the literary supercut.

A phenomenon unique in American crime fiction, Christopher Brown looks at running for the border in American noir.

Finding inspiration outside of the book world, Tony Conniff writes in praise of Bob Dylan’s narrative strategies…and his verbs.

A tale of two Oscars. David Lazar examines Oscar Levant and Oscar Wilde: masters of staving off melancholy with wit.

Elisa Wouk Almino meditates on beloved Brazilian poet Ana Cristina Cesar.

Cross-cultural pollination: how Claire Malroux’s translations of Emily Dickinson shaped her own poetry.

Fountain pens are neat but…Stephen Dowling extols the cheap pen that changed writing forever.

James Scott Bell laments the terrible task of weeding out books.

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


  1. Thank you for including my article!


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