Posted by: J. Thomas Ross | September 24, 2015

Top Picks Thursday 09-24-2015

This week marks the beginning of autumn. While we are sad to see summer go, we won’t miss the heat waves and look forward to the cool breezes and revived energy that fall brings. And this week’s Top Picks Thursday has a bundle of interesting and informative blog posts to start the season off right.


Dogwood tree leaves beginning to show color on the first day of fall.

Dogwood tree leaves beginning to show color on the first day of fall.


For those of you planning to attend a fall writers’ conference, editor Andrea Merrell advises writers to do their homework before the conference.

The New Yorker has named books on the National Book Awards longlist for fiction. Finalists will be announced on October 14 and winners on November 18.

Any writer who sells foreign rights to a book knows the importance of a good translator. Avery Fischer Udagawa and Lyn Miller-Lachmann interview 3-time Batchelder Award-winning translator Laura Watkinson.

No two writers have the same experience on the path to publication. Here’s Anne Leigh Parrish’s take on what it takes to become a writer, and Karim Dimechkie relates 7 things he’s learned so far in his writing journey.

A writer who tries to succeed alone faces a tough journey. When things get hectic, Jami Gold wonders if you are able to ask for help, and Janis Cooke Newman asserts that everyone needs a writing tribe.

The literary community lost a couple of great ones this week. Take a moment to remember best-selling novelist Jackie Collins, who died from breast cancer, and Pulitzer Prize-winning poet C. K. Williams, who died from multiple myeloma.


Whether you’re just getting started as a writer or have been writing for a while, Beth Hill hopes the recent PBS profile of Walt Disney will inspire or reignite writers’ drive, passion, and creativity. Walt Disney was a person who did not let failures or opposition keep him from his dream. Jason P. Henry also discusses taking chances in life and writing. We can learn a lot from rejections and failures.

If you’re having trouble finishing your manuscript, Jerry Jenkins shares 3 tips to help writers beat procrastination and get back to writing, and Ash Krafton recommends 5 ways to turn off the inner editor and unleash your creativity. On the other hand, Chuck Wendig insists that writers and other creative types don’t need motivation.

Few writers find an agent or a publisher for their first novel. Jo Eberhardt refers to the first novel as “practice” and suggests letting go of the practice novel so you can move on to write something that will sell.

Creating compelling characters is a key to writing a story readers will embrace. M. H. Knecht lists 5 simple tips to set your characters apart, and Angela Ackerman gives pointers on using a sibling’s betrayal as emotional backstory for your character, while Jami Gold discusses character likability and subtext. And when you are ready to have those well-rounded characters talk to one another, Jody Hedlund lays out seven dialogue basics that can tighten our stories.

After finishing the first draft comes the tedious but vital job of revision. Linda S. Clare suggests ways to weed out dead writing when you revise, James Scott Bell goes over avoiding the little writing speed bumps that ruin a reader’s enjoyment of the book, and K. M. Weiland corrects her own story to demonstrate how to edit fiction. Janice Hardy makes suggestions for livening up old tropes, and Roz Morris presents 4 hidden enablers for your story.

To help out all writers, Ellen Mulholland compiles her latest 4 favorite writing resources, and Steve McEllistrem shares his 5 best tips for writers.

When it comes to genre writing, Drew Chial explores how writers can bring back primal terror in a world where we take survival for granted.

For fantasy authors and anyone who needs to do world-building, Randy Ellefson discusses creating a fantasy city, Aaron Prince explains forgotten logistics in fantasy warfare, and Nils Odlund offers tips on making your fantasy world feel alive.

Let’s not forget the non-fiction writers among us. Janet Reid answers a question about writing historical fiction about real people, and Sue Bradford Edwards suggests four foolproof ways to hook children on non-fiction books.


Field of perennial blue mistflower being grown for seed.

Field of perennial blue mistflower being grown for seed.



Unless writing solely for his/her own pleasure, a writer — whether traditionally or self-published — becomes involved in the business of publication. A successful business begins with a plan, and Marcy Kennedy explains creating an author business plan. In addition, Alice Calch offers 9 ways to turn your pen into a money-making weapon.

Marketing, marketing, marketing. Every business needs a good marketing strategy or two. Elspeth Futcher lists 7 creative book marketing suggestions. Penny Sansevieri writes about how your newsletter can get you more readers, visibility, and sales, and Jamie Jo Hoang discusses how to make a book trailer.

Are book signings part of your marketing plan? Do you anticipate selling a lot of books at a signing? Carola Dunn relates her experience at a book signing to benefit a library.

Writers choosing the traditional route to publication and looking for an agent will need a synopsis, so Jane Friedman examines writing a novel synopsis. For writers wondering about their platforms, agent Janet Reid answers a question about the importance of platform for novelists, and Lisa Bennett discusses truth telling and platform building.

Many tools are available in technology and online to aid writers. Here are some bloggers offering information about their favorites. Gwen Hernandez lists 9 things she loves about Scrivener. Sydney Scrogham discusses Wattpad, a cool marketing tool for authors. Frances Caballo gives the scoop on the apps Periscope and Blab and how authors can use them, and Joel Friedlander presents his resource roundup and recommendations for the best apps and programs for all facets of your business.

For those who have polished their manuscripts as much as they can, Kate M. Colby discusses what kind of editing your novel needs, and Roz Morris discusses how and where to give credit to your editor.

Some news about the publishing industry: Alexandra Alter writes about how e-book sales have slipped and print is far from dead, Deb Aoki reports that Tokyopop returns with a new manga, self-publishing app, and Eric W. Ruben gives a lawyer’s perspective on Google Books.


Monarch butterfly on blue mistflowers.

Monarch butterfly on blue mistflowers.



Take a short trip back in time. Leonora Epstein has found 14 weird but wonderful antique girls’ books, and Dave Walker presents some of the marvelous historically-based book illustrations of Hugh Thomson (1860-1920).

Take heed, job seekers — Peter Moore suggests Great Expectations as a Victorian career guide for 21st-century jobs.

In the Poe Museum News, Chris writes that Edgar Allen Poe’s walking stick may hold a clue to his mysterious death.

For TV fans of British comedy, Simon Horobin checks out how accurate was the dialogue in the sitcom Blackadder?

Ayun Halliday wonders how many of the 430 books in Marilyn Monroe’s library you have read.

Michelle Dean examines the topic women and the cliches of the literary drunkard.

Gregory Ciotti delineates the psychological benefits of writing, and not just for writers.

That’s all for this week’s Top Picks Thursday! Enjoy the first week of fall, and look for more writerly links from around the web next week.


Soybeans ready for harvesting.

Soybeans ready for harvesting.


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