Posted by: J. Thomas Ross | June 29, 2017

Top Picks Thursday! For Writers & Readers 06-29-2017

Welcome to the last Top Picks Thursday in June! Summer is in full swing, and we hope you’re enjoying it with a book in hand.

To get you started on your summer reading, Mrs. G shares the 2017 ultimate diverse summer reading list for kids, teens, & adults, while Smithsonian scientist Nancy Knowlton recommends seven books worth reading to change the conversation about climate change.

Spend some time in your local library this summer. The people you see there might not be who you expect. Abigail Geiger reports that millennials are the most likely generation of Americans to use public libraries, and Dana Staves tells new parents: the public library has got your back.

Studies have shown that reading fiction promotes empathy, and Dan Rather makes the case that more empathy is needed in the USA today. Something to think about.

While reading can influence people, people also have an influence on what’s being written. Jane Friedman considers the challenge faced by high quality literary journals because of the changing tastes of readers.

No matter how old you get, you never forget those characters you came to love as a child. Sad to hear that Paddington Bear creator Michael Bond died at age 91, as reported by Book Riot‘s Ashlie Swicker.


For many reasons, the writing life is not easy. Writers may experience doubts and frustration. Catherine Egan writes about confidence and the writer: how we trick ourselves into thinking I can write this book, Elizabeth Foster discusses overcoming negativity bias when receiving criticism, and Dan Blank offers 4 ways to beat frustration in your writing career.

Need more help? Ruth Harris lays out 6 fantasies standing between you and writing success and how to fight back, and Benjamin P. Hardy explains why keeping a daily journal could change your life.

For those struggling to write, Jami Gold shares dealing with chronic problems that cause burnout, and Kathryn Craft relates 4 times inaction can help your writing life. If getting motivated is your problem, Chuck Wendig offers ways to stay motivated in this shit-shellacked era of epic stupid.

Any book starts with an idea. Janice Hardy stresses clarifying the idea. If you have an idea for a fiction book encompassing more than one genre, Bonnie Randall reflects on the problem with cross-genre fiction. An idea, however, doesn’t have to be fictional: Ann Wilson lists 6 good reasons to write a non-fiction book.

If you’re about to start a book, you might be interested in K. M. Weiland’s how to calculate your book’s length before writing.

Writers of children’s books might want to check out Michael Gallant’s 10 tips for creating your first children’s picture book, Matia Burnett’s report on a panel addressing diversity in children’s book illustrations, and Farrah Penn and Pedro Fequiere’s explanation to BuzzFeed‘s Angie Thomas of why we need diverse characters in YA books.

Characters and setting are two basic building blocks of fiction. Martina Boone lays out what you need to know about your protagonist to get your readers to the end, and Angela Ackerman explores 10 ways to show your character’s emotions, while K. M. Weiland gives 4 reasons you should outline your settings.

Ready to sit down and write? Jaime Raintree suggests taking your WIP to Camp NaNoWriMo, while Barbara O’Neal urges staging a book writing blitz.

For those struggling to improve their craft, James Scott Bell assures writers: yes, you can learn to write better fiction, while Larry Brooks ponders: how do you know what you don’t know?


Publishing is a business that writers need to understand. Lisa Tener discusses timing for querying publishers and other insights into the publishing industry, while Janet Reid reminds us that someone will always tell you how hard publishing is and explains how you should respond to find success. Amy Collins considers when you publish a book that’s too long or too short, and Janet Reid answers a question about whether a no-name author can demand her books be made available to readers with disabilities.

Terminology can be confusing. Claire McKinney clarifies the difference between a press release and a pitch and why you need both, and Debbie Burke discusses loglines and blurbs — short and sweet and stinkin’ hard. Jane Friedman offers a writer’s guide to permissions and fair use, while Susan Spann reveals the truth behind popular copyright myths.

For those seeking an agent, Jennifer Klepper recommends in-person pitching: the thrill of victory and agony of defeat, and Mark Gottlieb sets out the big five no-nos to querying a literary agent.

Marketing your book? Sarah Bolme focuses on how readers buy books and what a author can do to influence that purchase, while Julie Schoerke suggests planning your book promotion before you publish.

If you’re concerned about managing a social media presence, Laura Benedict asks does social media even make a difference for writers?, while Debbie Young explains why your author website needs to evolve over time. Are you always comparing your blog to others? Ellen Jackson discusses the psychology of comparison and how to stop.


The Guardian‘s Danuta Kean writes about misprints in books by famous authors from James Joyce to J. K. Rowling.

BBC News reports that a 19th century poet is going viral on Facebook in Uzbekistan.

Smithsonian‘s Eliza McGraw reminds us that horse-riding librarians were the Great Depression’s bookmobiles.

The New York Times‘ John Williams states that Liveright will publish Nelson Mandela’s letters from prison to family, supporters, government officials, and prison authorities.

Books. Books. Books. Do you have too many [Is there such a thing?], or not enough? Tiffani Willis explores creating a book collection, Savvy Book Writers tell how to save money on books, and Hannah Engler ponders when to get rid of books.

What books are you planning on taking on vacation? Smithsonian‘s Austin Clemens reports, city by city, which books Americans take on vacation.


That’s all for this week’s Top Picks Thursday. Enjoy your summer reading. See you in July!


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