Posted by: Kerry Gans | February 4, 2021

Top Picks Thursday! For Writers & Readers 02-04-2021

Welcome to this week’s Top Picks Thursday! Mark your calendars, the second week of February is Freelance Writers Appreciation Week. We’ve got lots of snow on the ground here, but it’s perfect weather to curl up with some hot chocolate and literary links.

Poetry in motion? Inaugural poet Amanda Gorman will recite an original poem at the Super Bowl LV pregame show.

Porter Anderson brings us the AAP prose awards for 2021. Add them to your reading list!

The one upside to the pandemic is that many conferences have gone remote. Christin Nielsen has the top 18 virtual training events for freelance writers in 2021.

Know your rights. Joseph Perry gives an overview of key provisions in a publishing contract.

If you are looking for work, Mary Kole is now hiring a research assistant.

Writer Beware warns of vanity press Waldorf Publishing.


Some advice is genre-specific. Phyllis Still shares 5 steps to write thrilling historical fiction for teens, Moriah Richard discusses structuring your unique system of magic, and Joel Shulkin, MD, lists 7 mistakes authors make when writing medical scenes.

There are certain over-arching decisions to be made about your story. K.M. Weiland gives an introduction to archetypal stories, Clare Langley-Hawthorne looks at tense in a novel, and Tiffany Yates Martin demystifies the different third person points of view.

Once into the writing, there are plenty of craft elements to consider using. Paula Munier discusses plot jumpstarters for when you get stuck, Milan Terlunen examines the art of the plot twist, Katharine Grubb lists questions to ask when writing a scene, Lisa Hall Wilson has 4 ways to write deeper with personification, and Spencer Ellsworth shows how to sneak flashbacks into your novel.

While craft elements are vital, we also can’t neglect our characters. Janice Hardy explains how to shame your characters and win readers, Stephanie Wrobel reflects on writing dysfunctional families, Stavros Halvatzis studies the hero’s twin struggles, and Bonnie Randall shares 3 quick building blocks to create crackling character chemistry.

Susan DeFrietas tells us the one thing your novel absolutely must do, Janice Hardy says if nothing changes in your novel, you have no story; and Kris Maze explains how to break your writing slump and get into the flow.

Some people wonder what’s the point of writing a book, especially now. Mark de Silva speaks in defense of writing brooks that might never be read, Anne Youngson shows how writing is a lot like digging, Maurice Chammah explores what fiction can teach journalists, and James Scott Bell asks for more escapism, please.


Jeffrey A. Trachtenberg and Dana Mattioli report that Connecticut is investigating Amazon’s ebook business.

The Authors Guild and five other writers groups ask the Department of Justice to stop the Penguin Random House’s purchase of Simon & Schuster.

Apple wants to make it harder for platforms to collect your data. Facebook is countering the move. Why should authors care? Because it may impact the targeting of Facebook ads.

For those of us looking for agents, Rachelle Gardner answers the question: why is it so hard to find an agent? A.J. Aronstein discusses the art of the cover letter, and Kate McKean talks about how to do a book proposal for an illustrated book (such as a coffee table or cook book) and what happens if you get an offer from an editor before you have an agent.

It seems that many bloggers had email on their minds this week. Janet Reid warns against making this email error, Nathan Bransford talks email thread etiquette, and Ruth Harris has the weird and wild emails from readers.

Marketing takes many forms, but one of them is media appearances. A.G. Billig has 5 easy steps to a successful media appearance, and Jennifer Tucker provides a media interview preparation checklist.

Ricardo Fayet extols the importance of finding your marketing sweet spot, Elizabeth S. Craig has tips to fit platform building into a busy life, and Penny Sansevieri says timing is key to a successful self-published book launch.

Mark Walker-Ford gives us an infographic with the perfect social media posting schedule, while Lee Purcell explores marketing a book beyond social media.


On the Beyond the Page podcast, recently deceased writer Barry Lopez says “we don’t need the writer – what we need is the story, because this keeps us alive.

Thresholds podcast with Jordan Kisner hosts Margo Jefferson, who ponders, “If I can’t find a way to do that … why am I writing a memoir?”

The Quarantine Tapes podcast with Paul Holdengraber discusses painting, music, and poetry with Joy Haro, who says, “All of it is still the poetic voice.”

On the History of Literature podcast, Jacke Wilson searches for Mr. Darcy in Jane Austen’s would-be suitor, Tom Lefroy.

The Creative Penn podcast with Joanna Penn urges us to stop worrying, start selling: change your author mindset with Sarah Painter.


Emily Martin gives us 10 facts about the incomparable Toni Morrison.

As writers, we love libraries. Christine Ro gathers 10 tidbits about libraries for visually impaired and print-disabled people.

Andre Callihanna traces nine idioms to their origins.

The number of books printed today is overwhelming. Ann Blair says this multitude of books is not new: people started complaining about the number of books in circulation as soon as the printing press was invented.

Looking for a good spy novel to read? Paul Vidich lists 10 spy novels with women protagonists.

Sometimes truth is stranger than fiction. Arvind Dilawar tells the story of the extraordinary disappearing act of a novelist banned by the Nazis.

That’s all for this week’s Top Picks Thursday! Join us next week for more tips and tricks.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


%d bloggers like this: