Posted by: Kerry Gans | May 6, 2021

Top Picks Thursday! For Writers & Readers 05-06-2021

Welcome to the first Top Picks Thursday in May! Wednesday, May 12th is National Limerick Day! Our weather has been a bit wishy-washy of late, vacillating between beautiful and rainy (sometimes several times on the same day!), but the advice below is tried and true.

Diversity in writing is something we need, but we also need diversity in reading. Publishing marginalized voices and different perspectives does little good if those voices never reach the mainstream. It can be hard, though, for mainstream readers to connect with stories outside of their own comfort zone, so Milo Todd has some tips for reading outside your lane.

Ruth Franklin explains what we lose when only men write about men in biographies, Mary Sharrott discusses why we need more stories about older women, and Zeahaa Rehman explores adding color to the romance genre.


If you write short stories, Rachelle Shaw discusses building POV and stakes in short stories.

The latest writing trend is a return to serial storytelling. John Peragine dives into serialization in storytelling, and how writers can leverage that.

Sophie Masson talks about a new writing format: the exclusive audio novel.

Like romance but without the explicit scenes? Sariah Wilson shares 5 tips for writing “clean romance” that’s just as hot as explicit sex scenes.

Carter Wilson explains why memory is the scariest thing of all in a psychological thriller.

Fiction not your thing? Rick Lauber talks about finding your nonfiction writing niche and understanding why this is so important.

Our story structure can take many forms, but Catriona Silvey examines the counterintuitive appeal of the literary time loop.

Susan DeFeitas lists 3 key tactics for crafting powerful scenes, Lincoln Michel warns us against the five-car metaphor pile-up, and C.S. Lakin describes how novelists can go deep and wide with plot.

Although usually talked about in connection with science fiction or fantasy, every story has a certain amount of world-building in it. Moriah Richard explores what world building is, W.A. Winter lists 5 key points to consider about your crime fiction setting, and Greer Macallister delves into the responsibility of world building.

Characters are the lifeblood of the story, and getting the reader to care about them is essential. Terry Odell goes back to basics with character descriptions, Angela Ackerman says to write emotion well, you need to know your character well, and P.N. Hinton discusses the importance of good parents in middle grade fiction.

Katharine Grubb shares 4 ways your characters could be sabotaging themselves (and how that’s good for your story!), Stavros Halvatzis explores the presence of epiphany in the character arc, and K.M. Weiland delves into the Crone’s shadow archetypes.

When it comes time to revise, you have a lot to think about. Janice Hardy lists 5 reasons you’re struggling with your revision (and how to fix them), Rachelle Gardner explains what beta readers are and what they do, and Brian Andrews studies what readers want…and what they don’t.

Spencer Ellsworth investigates pulling levers in the god machine, Eldred Bird serves up 5 writing tips we love to hate, and Elizabeth S. Craig examines showing up as a writer.

There are many ways to get from the first page to The End. Ines Johnson discusses having a writing schedule, Maria Mutch advises ditching the plan and embracing uncertainty when writing a novel, Clare Whitfield shares 5 tips to work through procrastination, and Bill Ferris has an amusing take on 7 habits of successful writers.

Wondering just how high the bar is for craft in your novel? Nathan Bransford says to judge the true standard of quality you will be held to, look at the recent debuts.


Claire Kirch reports that writers’ organizations are forming a DisneyMustPay task force to get authors royalties owed to them.

If you are self-publishing, James Scott Bell shares tips for formatting your book.

Agent Janet Reid explains that sometimes “no” has nothing to do with the quality of your book, but it’s just not right for her. Catherine Baab-Muguira asks the question: what if it takes 12 years to get an agent? Robert Lee Brewer demystifies simultaneous submissions vs. multiple submissions, while Ruth Harris tells us how to find the best titles and comp titles for our books.

Marketing is a herculean task. Sandra Beckwith grounds us in author branding, Penny Sansevieri has an infographic with 8 tips to improve your author platform with social media, Elna Cain shares 9 awesome tools for running social media contests, Shailee Shah compiled 17 Instagram book promotion ideas from publishers, and Dominika Pin shows us how to use TikTok to sell books.


On the Thresholds podcast with Jordan Kisner, Ahmed Naji speaks on the contemporary reality of the exiled writer.

Kjersti Skomsvold’s How to Proceed podcast hosts Rachel Cusk on writing without feeling like a writer.

On the History of Literature podcast, Jacke Wilson discusses Salman Rushdie’s devotion to the art of fiction.

Joanna Penn and Nadine Mutas talk tips for translation, self-publishing, and marketing in foreign languages on The Creative Penn podcast.


Letters are personal and revealing. Read Robert Frost’s letters to his son: thoughts on sports, real estate, and drinking.

Gail Crowther examines the friendship and rivalry of Sylvia Plath and Ann Sexton.

Sometimes books make a food or drink sound so appealing, you want to try it. Courtney Rodgers gathers 10 foods and drinks readers have tried because of a book.

Keith Roysdon looks back on film noir’s greatest odd couple: Peter Lorre and Sydney Greenstreet.

Writers usually love libraries for the books that are inside. Gianessa Refermat examines bookish exteriors: libraries that look like books.

Robert Kanigel explores how a bold young American changed the way scholars think about Homer.

That’s all for this week’s Top Picks Thursday! Join us next week for more tricks and tips! And Happy Mother’s Day to all the mom-writers out there!

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