Posted by: Kerry Gans | November 19, 2020

Top Picks Thursday! For Writers & Reader 11-19-2020

Welcome to this week’s Top Picks Thursday! Thanksgiving is just around the corner. Be safe and enjoy!

Alison Flood reports that Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is voted UK Women’s prize “winner of winners”.

BookBaby has an infographic look at the reading habits of five generations. If you have a 10th grader among your demographic, Katherine Packer lists 20 of the best books for 10 graders.

Christine Ro examines what happens when a community loses its newspaper.

The publishing world is always changing. The Authors Guild is participating in 2 lawsuits that may change the writing world, while the U.S. Copyright Office has new rules for mandatory deposit of electronic-only books.

People cope with the pandemic in many different ways. Emily Temple finds pandemic peace in reading old books.


We sometimes hear that fiction writers are professional liars. Robin Farmer discusses emotional truth and storytelling, while Ruth Gilligan writes on the lies we tell in fiction.

There are many subgenres under the crime umbrella. Mike Avery tells us how to write a legal thriller, and Lynne Truss uncovers the most unusual murder weapons in crime fiction.

Plotter or pantser, we all need to have some sort of organization of thought to write a coherent story. Ellen Buikema has ways to organize your thoughts for writing, Jim Dempsey describes how to create the roller coaster of good and bad, John Peragine lists 7 plot structures for pantsers, and Stavros Halvatzis gives us 5 points to consider prior to pantsing a new story.

Every good story takes us on a journey of some kind. Robert Lee Brewer defines narrative arc or story arc, which naturally has a beginning and an end. Chris Eboch discusses the promise of the first chapter, while Samantha Wilcoxson delves into unforgettable endings.

In between the beginning and the end, writers must employ many craft elements to carry the reader along. Laurence MacNaughton shares 8 suspense-boosting techniques, Janice Hardy has an easy tip for avoiding infodumps in dialogue, Debbie Burke has 6 tips to speed up the pace, James Scott Bell dives into deep backstory, and K.M. Weiland answers 5 questions about scene sequences.

Our characters should stay with our readers long after the book is done, if we’ve written them right. Marissa Gruff explains why you should side-write your protagonist’s origin scene, Kristen Lamb reminds us that actions speak louder than words in character transformations and that we need to pile on the conflict for our characters, Janice Hardy tells us why we should have judgmental characters, and Melissa Donovan discusses creating authentic character relationships.

Nothing we write is ever perfect, so editing is essential. Rachelle Gardner addresses the perennial question: should I edit as I go or wait?; Robert Lee Brewer demystifies passed vs. past, Kathryn Craft has 5 random ways to trim your manuscript, and Dave Chesson lists 5 editing services for authors that are worth your time.

Even when you love to write, sometimes it’s hard to finish what you start. Connie B. Dowell shows how to maintain writing motivation even in COVID times, Elaine Viets confronts the writer’s nightmare of being stuck, and Katharine Grubb lists 9 questions t ask yourself if you have writer’s block.

Terry Odell explores what Winnie the Pooh taught her about writing, Sarah Haas investigates what a book can be, and Nicholas Lemann experiences seeing the book biz from both sides.


Writers dread losing their publisher in mid-stream. Virginia Lloyd brings us the story of one established author who got rejected by her publisher and how she found another.

If you are sending queries to agents, Kate McKean answers the question of if it is okay to revise and resend a query.

Once you’ve published, you need to market. Erica Ridley has 9 tips for marketing a new book release, Helene Cue shares 8 marketing strategies, Desiree Villena shows how to use comp authors to market your book, and Hayley Zelda tells us how to promote your book with a shoestring budget.

There are many elements that go into a good book promotion plan. Joshua C. Craig discusses what makes good jacket copy, Penny Sansevieri lays out how to announce a book release to your mailing list, and Cathy Shouse talk to Melissa Storm about maximizing book sales with Facebook and Bookbub ads.

Blogs are a tried-and-true way to connect with your audience. Georgie Smith lists 14 AP Style essentials to level-up your blogging, Robyn Roste gives us freelance blogging for beginners, Sandra Beckwith shares 3 tips for better author blogs, and Sue Coletta reveals how to save time on social media.


Andrew Weatherhead talks about the art (and necessity) of writing collage on the Otherppl podcast with Brad Listi.

The Maris Review podcast with Maris Kreizman hosts Diane Cook on letting her characters loose in the wilderness.

On The Creative Penn’s podcast, Joanna Penn and Meg LaTorre discuss YouTube for authors and multiple streams of income.


It’s that time of year again: Jean Kuo Lee lists 15 gifts for the NaNoWriMo writer in your life.

Maybe buy someone a journal: Mithila Phadke says since the pandemic began, many more people are journaling.

Mary Wollstonecraft is in the news. A statue to honor the “mother of feminism” Mary Wollstonecraft provokes backlash. If you are confused between Mary Wollstonecraft and Mary Shelley, here’s how to tell the difference.

Kathy O’Shaughnessy explores George Elliot’s uncertain relationship to feminism.

Dive into 100 years of Agatha Christie as Reece Goodall brings us a retrospective of the Queen of Crime.

Can literature tell the future? Megan O’Grady looks at how “The Talented Mr. Ripley” foretold our era of grifting.

Most writers have been surrounded by books their whole lives. Eudora Welty discusses how her parents built a childhood of books.

Book Marks posts the first reviews of Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-Five.

Just for fun, Danika Ellis has a quiz: how well do you know the parts of a book? (I apparently don’t know them at all!)

That’s all for this week’s Top Picks Thursday! We are taking next Thursday off for Thanksgiving, but we will see you in December. Be safe and be smart.

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