Posted by: Kerry Gans | January 21, 2021

Top Picks Thursday! For Writers & Readers 01-21-2021

Welcome to this week’s Top Picks Thursday! Saturday, January 23rd is National Handwriting Day, and Wednesday, January 27th is National Shelfie Day. And if you did not catch Youth Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman reading at the Inauguration, you should watch—she is a powerful young American voice.

SCBWI discusses the CASE act becoming law, and the small claims tribunal it sets up in the copyright office.

Understanding the need to read during the pandemic, Oxford University Press puts its full “world classics” list online.

Philadelphia picks poetry as its next One Book pick.

Writer Beware’s Victoria Strauss warns of pay-to-play pedagogy in The Creator Institute and New Degree Press.


We have a few genre-specific posts this week: Sulari Gentill reminds us that every mystery writers knows you can kill anyone but the dog, Justine Cowan shares the anxieties of publishing a memoir, Elisa Schoenberger gives us a study in detective duos, and Jane K. Kleland talks about writing a successful long-running series.

Getting started—sometimes it flows, sometimes it’s like pulling teeth. Brian Andrews explores where ideas come from, Erin Celello lists 4 questions to ask before you start, and Allison Williams discusses how to restart your unfinished book.

Once started, there are a million tiny details to get right. Katharine Grubb has tips for dividing your story into chapters, Robert Lee Brewer looks at the mistake of talking about the work-in-progress, E.L. Skip Know digs into Medieval mining practices, and Steve Holey gets specific about describing an abnormal gait.

Characters drive our stories, and their inner struggle is what captivates the reader. Janice Hardy has guides for using internal conflict that make sense, K.M. Weiland explores 3 character arcs in the Karpman drama triangle, Stavros Halvatzis describes the essentials of supporting characters, Becca Puglisi talks about writing better dialogue, Lisa Hall-Wilson lays out 7 ways deep POV creates emotional connections with readers, and Janice Hardy examines how to create a first class antagonist.

Editing, done right, helps us raise our story to new heights. Jim Dempsey discusses what to expect from an editor, and PJ Parrish dissects the 3 levels of editing hell.

Writing faster means getting more work out to the public, enhancing our careers. Mateo Askaripour writes in favor of speed: write fast, fix later; Gerald Brandt increased his output by going from pantser to plotter, and Joan Koster shows how the highlighter tool can help you write faster.

Mary Kole tells us how to write a manuscript that succeeds, Melanie Roussel wonders if writing competitions are worth it, and Kathryn Craft has 7 sneaky ways to spotlight story wisdom.


We start 2021 with Angela Ackerman reminding us that other authors are not your competition.

Porter Anderson looks back with reflections on the 2020 American market in sales and deals, while Alex Green looks ahead as indie bookstores gear up for 2021.

If you self-publish, you need to know how large a book you want to print. Amy Collins explains how to pick a popular trim size for your book.

If you are going traditional, Janet Reid has some things to leave out of your query, and Rachelle Gardner tells us if we need a book proposal.

Marketing! Get the word out there! Stefan Palios lays out one writer’s 3 phases to hit the bestseller list, Penny Sansevieri explains how to market a self-published book in 2021 by creating a marketing plan you can stick with, and Sandra Beckwith lists 12 ways to share news of winning a book award.

In the online world, Nate Hoffelder has 6 online bios every author needs, and Adam Connell shares 12 smart tips for new bloggers that he wishes he’d known 10 years ago.


On Sacha Black’s Rebel Author podcast, Roz Morris discusses how to write captivating characters.

Over on the Time to Eat the Dogs podcast with Michael Robinson, Shayne Legassie explores the medieval invention of travel writing.

Visiting The Maris Review podcast with Maris Kreizman, George Saunders enthuses over short stories and wants you to accept your flaws (writing and otherwise).

Brad Listi’s Otherppl podcast has Gil Adamson on how to tackle the gargantuan task of writing a historical novel.

On the New Books Network podcast, Rob Wolf investigates why Kim Stanley Robinson wrote a new cli-fi novel…in which things actually get better.


Diane McKinley-Whetstone describes how recently deceased bestselling author Eric Jerome Dickey made black women feel seen.

Richard Greene looks at bombs and books: on Graham Greene’s life during World War II.

Think being bored is a waste of time? Martha Cooley explores the uses of boredom: philosophical, scientific, and literary.

Will Self ponders: how should we read?

Looking to refresh your home library’s look? Devin McKinley gathers beautiful bookshelf deco ideas for 2021.

In entertainment, Emily Temple has your 2021 literary film and TV preview.

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

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