Posted by: Kerry Gans | April 1, 2021

Top Picks Thursday! For Writers & Readers 04-01-2021

Welcome to the first Top Picks Thursday in April! It may be April Fool’s Day, but it’s no joke: April has a ton of writer events. April is both English Language Month and National Poetry Month. Every year in April, Writers Digest’s poetry blog holds a poem-a-day event, offering a daily poetry prompt at Write Better Poetry.  Also, National Library Week is April 4-10. In addition to being Easter, April 4th is National School Librarian Day, April 6th is National Library Workers Day, and April 7th is National Bookmobile Day. Celebrate the written word all month!

The writing world lost several icons this week: Beverly Cleary, author of beloved children’s books, died at 104; Larry McMurtry, Pulitzer Prize winning author and scriptwriter, died at 84; and Nawal El Saadawi, Egyptian feminist author and activist, died at age 89.

Like audiobooks? Check out the Audio Publishers Association’s 2021 Audie Awards winners.

Having the wonderful diversity of our country on display in our literature is something worth striving towards. SCBWI provides Equity and Inclusion Resources to explore, and Alaina Lavoie explains how sensitivity readers can make publishing more accountable if we let them.

Victoria Strauss of Writer Beware spots a growing trend: scammers taking Big 5 publisher’s names in vain.


Every occupation has its own jargon, and writing is no different. Lincoln Michel looks at genre jargon: how the ssf and literary worlds speak about themselves and each other.

Romance sells well, but Michelle Major reveals how to write a romance series that keeps readers coming back for more.

Action scenes can happen in many genres, but they are a skill set unto themselves. Brian Andrews bring us how to write amazing action scenes, part 2.

Memoirs can be tough to write for many reasons. Ericka McIntyre suggests using novel writing techniques in your memoir, and Susan DeFreitas examines 3 common pitfalls when writing from your own life.

We have to juggle many craft elements, large and small, to make our stories they best they can be. C.S. Lakin lists the 5 turning points of a novel, Steve Hooley explores how boundaries make for good conflict, and Janice Hardy explains how to show (and not tell) without raising your word count.

Nathan Bransford shows how to write clear physical description, while Ann Harth advises describing your setting on the go. Janet Reid weighs in on the invisibility (or not) of “said”, and James Scott Bell looks at writing tasty fiction.

There are overarching character elements to master, as well as details, but in the end you want a character that a reader will invest themselves in. K.M. Weiland introduces the 12 shadow archetypes, Stavros Halvatzis connects character actions and character arc, Becca Puglisi examines your character’s emotional shielding and why it matters, and John J. Kelley discusses capturing profound character moments.

Janice Hardy has 4 ways to create emotional peril in your characters, Katharine Grubb gives tips for writing a worthy anti-hero, Steve Goble asks: are your minor characters working hard for you?; and Lisa Hall Wilson shares 2 ways to help your readers connect emotionally with your characters.

The great thing about writers is that they are not shy about giving advice to help other writers. Janet Reid discusses how to get better as a writer, Becca Puglisi examines Heinlein’s rules of writing, Laura Drake gathers writing wisdom from the bestsellers, and Diana Giovinazzo compiles 7 things she learned from interviewing authors.

Writing is a deeply emotional craft. Andrew J.Graff explores learning to go with the flow in rafting and in writing, Ellen Buikema lists 10 ideas for inspiring your writing with music, and PJ Parrish looks at what we can learn from movies about failed writers.

Whatever process we use to do it, we all must get to The End to finish our story. Sharon Oard Warner examines finding your way to the end, and Tiffany Yates Martin gives us a final checklist to be able to know when your story is finished.


Freelancing can be profitable, but it’s not always easy. Carol Tice shows how to write an article that pays, and John Fisher shares an old writer’s 5 smart moves to get freelance work.

Different online platforms can lead to freelance work. Carol Tice returns with a focus on LinkedIn with headline tips and examples for freelance writers, while Sara Fischer investigates a new Facebook feature that would allow writers and journalists to make money.

Marketing may be mostly online now, but that doesn’t mean it’s all impersonal. Jessica Strawser discusses the art of the multi-author event, while Penny Sansevieri has an infographic of 5 essential book marketing strategies for mystery authors and how to market a book while keeping up with Amazon’s recent changes.

One way to get interest in your book is with a pre-sale push. Justine Bylo describes how to set up a future on-sale date as part of your book marketing strategy, and Ruth Harris warns us not to make this mistake that could cost you a book sale.

With so much online competition, how do you get noticed? Sandra Beckwith shows us how to create book promotion quote graphics, Adam Connell lists 7 top WordPress landing page plugins, and Lyn Wildwood shares the 10-step process to writing the perfect list post.


Have you ever thought about starting your own podcast? Tif Marcelo lists 5 reasons to start your own podcast.

On the First Draft podcast with Mitzi Rapkin, Dantiel W. Moniz speaks on impostor syndrome and the morbidity of girlhood.

Jacke Wilson’s History of Literature podcast has a reckoning with Nabokov’s classic, controversial novel Lolita, with Jenny Minton Quigley.


We are all looking for the end of this pandemic tunnel. To find out what happens next, Jill Lepore canvases literature to see how plague stories end.

Book Marks reprints a 1959 review of Philip Roth’s debut novel, Goodbye, Columbus.

David Quammen writer on the accidental writing career of E. O. Wilson.

A nerdy history of the ampersand, brought to you by Kelly Jensen.

Margaret Kingsbury shares 10 facts about Madame d’Aulnoy, who coined the word fairytale.

Writers tend to love libraries, but Danika Ellis’ quiz will tell you if you are a library power user.

Jennifer De Leon writes a touching article on how the art of writing can close the divide between worlds.

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

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