Posted by: Kerry Gans | May 20, 2021

Top Picks Thursday! For Writers & Readers 05-20-2021

Welcome to this week’s Top Picks Thursday! It’s heating up our neck of the woods, so grab a cool drink and find some shade to read the latest tips, tricks, and news from the literary world.

The 2021 Dylan Thomas Prize has been awarded to American author Raven Leilani for her debut novel Luster.

Looking to translate your work? Check out SCBWI’s translation hub and resources.

Scammers never sleep. Victoria Straus of Writer Beware warns of a writers’ conference phishing scam, and a Goodreads extortion scam, while Anne R. Allen discusses the warning signs of a publishing scam.


For the memoir writers out there, Lisa Cooper Ellison discusses the f-word that will lead to a better memoir, and Ronit Plank explains how to approach friends and family about your memoir.

If you are interested in poetry, Kelly Jensen complied an A to Z guide to poetry and poetic terminology.

Many writers explore real-life issues in their books. Mary Alice Monroe looks at weaving real-life environmental issues into your fictional world.

Lots of people write fantasy. Lynea Youmans focuses on the sub-genre of faith-based fantasy.

Whatever you write, there are certain over-arching craft elements you need to wrestle with. Savannah Cordova explores which story structure is right for your novel, Vaughn Roycroft shows that story tropes can be our friends, and C.S. Lakin shares strategies for novelists who are writing a series.

Scenes are the building blocks of our stories. Marissa Graff explains how to power up individual scenes with a scene tracker, while Janice Hardy demonstrates how scene titles make it easier to write your novel.

Using smaller craft elements correctly can also add strength to your story. Margie Lawson writes about the power of quirky-smirky assonance and alluring alliteration, Wendy Wax has 6 lessons of writing for novelists, and Paula Munier delivers a baker’s dozen of tips and tricks.

Characters do the major lifting in our stories. Laurence MacNaughton lists 3 shortcuts to character-driven stories, Kathryn Craft explores unapologetic characterizations, Kelsey Allagood examines character conflict styles, Terry Odell looks at character description, Katharine Grubb has foolish things your protagonist can do (and why they did them), Stavros Halvatzis shows how to write unlikeable characters, and K.M. Weiland introduces the 6 flat archetypes.

What to do after you’ve finished writing? Rachelle Gardner asks whether you should pay for a critique or professional edit. And once your book is out there, Ashley Holstrom tries to find a better rating system than the Goodreads rating system.


Interested in copywriting? Austin Meadows explains how to become a copywriter: getting started & finding freelance copywriting jobs.

Breaking the silence around author pay, Sarah Nicolas collects information on how much authors make per book.

Every author needs an author photo. Juliet Marillier looks at what makes a good author photo.

Email and social media are key avenues of getting word out to readers. Andrew Hutchinson shares an infographic of email design best practices for 2021 and a new report looking at the best times to post on each social media platform.

Book rankings and ads are one way to spread the word about your book. Ricardo Fayet lists 3 things you didn’t know about ebook retailer rankings, Penny Sansevieri has 5 ways ads improve your book marketing on Amazon and how to sell your book in 5 minutes, and Sandra Beckwith suggests 11 free things you can do to buzz your book.


On the Thresholds podcast with Jordan Kisner, Rachel Kushner explains that everything behind you is part of your present tense.

Brad Listi’s Otherppl podcast hosts Elissa Washuta, on tweeting her way to her voice.

The Quarantine Tapes with Paul Holdengraber has John Freeman talks on moving toward a practice of collaboration.

On The Literary Life podcast with Mitchell Kaplan, Cambria Gordon speaks on the lost art of penmanship.

The First Draft podcast has Mitzi Rapkin and Layla AlAmmar discussing who gets to dictate how a story is told?

Joanna Penn and James Blatch dissect the challenges of a first novel on The Creative Penn podcast.


Some writers are heavily impressed by the places in their lives. Phyllis Richardson takes a look at the homes that inspired Agatha Christie’s settings, as well as the manors, rectories, and cottages that influenced Jane Austin’s writing.

Where everybody knows your name. Sharon DeBartolo Carmack reveals how an Irish barman created a home for New York’s literary elite.

J. Knuse delves into our misplaced fear of the Gothic.

Literary Hub investigates one of the literary losses of the ages: Why did Lord Byron’s buddies burn his memoirs?

With spring in full bloom, Kelly Jensen offers bookish goods for plant lovers.

Looking ahead, Robert Lee Brewer gathers 8 summer writing activities for writers.

That’s all for this week’s Top Picks Thursday! Join us next week for more writerly advice!


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 )

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: