Posted by: Kerry Gans | April 15, 2021

Top Picks Thursday! For Writers & Readers 04-15-2021

Welcome to this week’s Top Picks Thursday! Hard to believe we are halfway through April already. As part of National Poetry Month, Saturday, April 17th is National Haiku Poetry Day.

Many people are a little leery of poetry. Rebecca Hussey shares an English professor’s perspective on hating poetry.

In awards news, the winners of the 2021 PEN America Literary Awards are announced.

If you are an academic freelancer, take note of the latest controversy in publishing: McGraw-Hill charges freelancers a fee to submit their invoices.


Some craft lessons are genre-specific, but some, even though they grow out of specific genres, can be applied more broadly. Nathan Bransford examines how to write adult characters in children’s books, David Gilman explores the role of research in historical fiction, and Richard O’Rawe (a former IRA bank robber) talks about writing a heist novel based on a long-unsolved crime.

Donna Freitas explains why more writers should study the lessons of YA, and C.S. Lakin reveals the secret to writing commercially successful novels.

Every writer has a different process, so it’s good to understand what kind of writer you naturall are. PJ Parrish asks if you are a wild cook or precise baker, while Robert Lee Brewer defines a plotter in writing and a pantser in writing.

Structure is the skeleton of your story, so it needs to be strong. Jeanne Veillette Bowerman lists 3 mistakes writers make in Act 1, Steve Hooley wrestles with recap chapters in a series, and Stavros Halvatzis shows how turning the story engages the audience.

The details of craft matter, too. Bethany Henry has 5 ways to use holidays in your story, Roz Morris gives us 3 ways vocabulary can increase reader belief, and Melissa Donovan demystifies the difference between dashes vs. hyphens.

Our characters are the soul of our stories. K.M. Weiland continues her archetype exploration with the two shadow archetypes of the Hero, while David Corbett examines the criminal as hero. Elizabeth S. Craig has tips for creating strong female protagonists, and Kathryn Craft reminds us to make our protagonist an actor.

Katharine Grubb explores potential lies your protagonists could tell themselves, Laurence MacNaughton lists 3 powerful ways pros create character conflict, Ellen Buikema lays out the roles of secondary characters, Lorraine Heath gives us 4 tips for writing engaging frenemies, and Kris Calvin discusses writing from multiple points of view.

When we’re editing, we need to guard against accidentally leaving things in, and sometimes take things out even when it hurts. Becca Puglisi says if we want a stronger manuscript we should read it aloud, and R.O. Kwon makes a case against killing your darlings.

We need to stay inspired to carry us through the end of the long novel writing process. Barbara O’Neal advises on keeping a notebook, Donald Maass explores novelty and the novel, and Paula Munier has tips to finish that first draft.


In further industry contraction, HarperCollins will acquire Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Books & Media.

On the retail sales side, Alena Jones tries to move toward a definition of contemporary bookselling.

If you are publishing independently, David Gaughran has a comprehensive How To Self-Publish Guide, and Barbara Linn Probst reveals everything you’ve always wanted to know about hybrid publishing.

Freelancing? Sarah Maurer and Stacey Morris explain how freelance writers can get more clients by cold calling.

If you are an author trying to decide how best to get you book out there, Rachelle Gardner discusses whether to accept a contract from a small press, wait for a large house, or self-publish.

These days, the authors are the brand. Mike Bohdan explores how to build a strong author brand, Jason Guriel discusses the importance of author bios, and Melinda VanLone addresses book cover design pitfalls to avoid.

The pandemic has changed marketing, pushing more of it online. Kathleen Marple Kalb shares her experience of marketing a debut during the pandemic, Catherine Baab-Muguira has what every writer needs to know about email newsletters, and Penny Sansevieri talks about why audio is the next big thing in book promotion and reveals the number one tip for staying motivated in book marketing.


On the  Reading Women podcast with Kendra Sumaiyya, Afoma Umesi explaining why adults should read more middle grade books.

Jordan Kisner’s  Thresholds podcast hosts Fariha Roisin on learning to care less about the publishing world’s rules.

The Maris Review podcast with Maris Kreizman has Amy Solomon and Aparna Nancherla discussing the intersection of comedy and anxiety.

On the Book Dreams podcast with Julie Sternberg and Eve Yohalem, Jasmine Mans explores finding her voice as a spoken word poet.

The History of Literature podcast with Jacke Wilson delineates five ways to read Henry James.

Joanna Penn’s The Creative Penn podcast delves into writing, publishing, and marketing books for children with Crystal Swain-Bates.


Every bookworm’s dream: Erik Hoel shares the joy and privilege of growing up in an indie bookstore.

Damien Bador shows how Tolkien’s fascination with language shaped his literary world.

Writer’s block got you down? Hannah K. Chapman, Lauren Burke, and Kaley Bales explore the years when Jane Austen couldn’t write.

Olivia Rutigliano compiles the 100 best, worst, and strangest Sherlock Holmes portrayals, ranked.

Inspiration comes from all around: Jenny Hansen lists the top 10 success tips from Prince.

Take the quiz! Which character from Winnie the Pooh are you?

May Huang explains how literary translations and crossword puzzles are more similar than you think.

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

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