Posted by: J. Thomas Ross | June 1, 2017

Top Picks Thursday! For Writers & Readers 06-01-2017

Welcome to Top Picks Thursday on this first day of June! May turned out to be the ninth wettest May on record here on the East Coast, so we’re hoping for a warmer, drier, sunnier month of June. Even Memorial Day was gray and drizzly, but the parade in Beverly, New Jersey, went on as usual. We’re including a few photos of the parade today because, in truth, every day should be a day to honor all those who served and are serving.

The Author Chronicles, J. Thomas Ross, Memorial Day , Beverly NJ

2017 Memorial Day Parade, Beverly, New Jersey

For those who love reading, Kelly Jensen offers practical tips for book lovers. If you feel the need to justify your reading time, Jessi Lewis declares we love how healthy reading can be.

Have you ever been unable to finish a novel? Jody Hedlund shares 7 reasons why I stop reading a novel.

For writers: Heather Webb offers time management tips for writing through our busy lives, and Erica Verillo of Publishing … and Other Forms of Insanity lists 34 writing contests in June 2017 with no entry fees.


Creativity doesn’t always flow easily. Will Meier suggests 5 types of rest every creative should adopt, and Frances Caballo identifies 7 habits every writer should develop. James Scott Bell reflects on the benefits of allowing less focus for better writing, while Tracy Hahn-Burkett discusses what to do when it’s hard to maintain your focus at all.

Writing may be primarily a solitary business, but Heather Weidner advises don’t go it alone — find a writers’ group. Or you might consider attending a writers’ conference. Andrea Merrell thinks writers conferences are like a box of chocolates. If you’re considering participation in a writing retreat, Christina Delay presents the tongue-in-cheek post: why you should never, ever go on a destination writing retreat.

Learning is an important part of the writing journey, and writers can find lessons in many places. Gabino Iglesias relates 10 things about writing he (re)learned from graphic novels, and Fred Johnson considers what video games can teach you about storytelling, while Kathy Edens explains what American Horror Story taught me about anti-heroes.

While learning the craft, have you come across rules of writing? Ruth Harris explains why writing rules (usually) don’t work, but writing guidelines do, and Janice Hardy considers breaking the rules of writing.

Several bloggers wrote about the elements character, voice, and setting. Jami Gold explains how we should deal with character stereotypes, and how to strengthen our characters with strong writing. Padma Venkatraman writes about voice: writing lean, spare, or lush, rich, and Tasha Seegmiller discusses enhancing your story through macro & micro setting descriptions.

For writers who want to outline but hate doing so, Janice Hardy suggests a quick way to outline without outlining.

A well-crafted story has a beginning, middle, and end. Kristen Lamb avers that every great story idea is birthed from shame, Larry Brooks offers deeper thinking about writing your scenes, and John Gilstrap insists that endings really matter.

For those writing in these genres, Mary Kole considers the question of using politics in children’s books, K. M. Weiland lays out 4 ways to write meaningful comedy, and Ash Krafton provides resources and tips for writing historical fantasy.

If you want to keep the reader’s interest, James Scott Bell asks where’s your edge?

Have you finished a novel? Anne R. Allen cautions against publishing practice novels: 10 reasons why you shouldn’t publish that first novel…yet. Along the same lines,Taryn Johnston advises Indie authors to take the time to self-publish well.


Jane Friedman asks: fast, cheap, and good — what publishing compromises are you making?

For those looking for agents, Janet Reid considers whether an author should disclose a failed self-published book from years ago in an agent query, Kristin Nelson mentions 5 questions authors don’t ask but should when an agent offers rep, and Sangeeta Mehta asks literary agents Eric Smith and Saba Sulaiman how they approach diversity.

If an agent requires a synopsis or a book proposal, Suzanne Purvis zeroes in on how to write a sizzling, scintillating synopsis, and Jane Friedman discusses how to write a book proposal.

Marketing. Love it or hate it, it’s important. Joan Stewart advises those new to book publicity to start marketing local, Chris Syme offers 5 steps to kick your marketing FOMO to the curb, and Mike Shatzkin introduces a new software tool to help optimize marketing for your book, while Brooke Warner describes what authors need to know about price promotions.

Is there a problem with your published book? Roz Morris offers positive solutions for dealing with damaged POD books, and Lucienne Boyce shares how to respond when a reader claims there’s an error in your book.

With advice about blogging and social media, Chris Robley relates how to write a great author bio that will connect with readers, Mandy James explains why writers need social media, and L. J. Sedgwick shows us how to avoid writing boring outlines using the IKEA method.

Jane Friedman offers a more nuanced look at the Amazon buy-button bruhaha, advising don’t immediately trust mainstream sites on publishing stories.


Buzzfeed’s Shyla Watson wonders if you know the original language of famous works.

Before she began writing poetry, Emily Dickinson engaged in “the gathering, growing, classification, and pressing of flowers.” Maria Popova shows us Emily Dickinson’s herbarium.

Joe Otterson reports that a mini series about “Typhoid Mary” is being adapted from Mary Beth Keane’s novel Fever.

Kat Eschner reveals that “Mary Had a Little Lamb” is based on a true story. Who knew?

Susan B. Barnes writes that more than 250,000 bibliophiles are about to descend on “The Town of Books.

Looking for something different to do this month? Cailey Rizzo suggests walking across the Brooklyn Bridge as Bill Murray reads you poetry this June.

Saturday is National Trails Day, so if you need a break to refresh and reignite your creativity, get on your walking shoes and take a hike!

That wraps up this week’s Top Picks Thursday. See you next week!


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