Posted by: J. Thomas Ross | July 27, 2017

Top Picks Thursday! For Writers & Readers 07-27-2017

Welcome to the last Top Picks Thursday of July. As always, the summer is speeding by. If you want to take advantage of the warm weather and are a lover of houseplants, you might want to participate in Take Your Houseplants for a Walk Day. After all, exercise is good for writers and readers (and everyone else).

Readers already know that reading is good for you too, but it’s gratifying to have that validated by research. Rachel Grate shares the great news science has for people who read actual books.

If you’re still looking for summer reading, on BNTEENblog, Darren Croucher suggests 8 female-penned YA science fiction novels, while Kristen Lamb analyzes why speculative fiction matters. If you prefer something shorter, Louis Menand asks can poetry change your life? What do you think?

To writers, freedom of the press is an important right. Novelist Polly Tyer writes about journalists and the First Amendment.

Writers aren’t the only ones who spend at lot of time at a keyboard. If you are someone who does, you might want to take Grace Wynter’s advice about using ergonomics to design the optimal workstation.

The Author Chronicles, home office, desk and books

Photo by Vadim Sherbakov on Unsplash


Without an idea, there is no story. Janice Reid reassures a writer who discovers someone else had the same brilliant idea, while Annie Neugebauer considers thought triggers: the Chekhov’s gun of writing tricks.

Most writers would love to have more time for writing. With ideas to speed your writing process, Candace Granger shares two semi-no-fail ways to fast drafting, one for pantsers, one for plotters, and Jordan Dane offers key resources and tips for dictating your next book.

Looking for tips on creating characters? The Script Lab considers internal conflict and your characters, Bonnie Randall stresses taking a love inventory of your characters, Janice Hardy explains how to write characters that don’t all feel the same, and Kristen Lamb explores the reason shame is the beating heart of all great stories.

Several bloggers delve into the elements of setting and world building: Janice Hardy explores creating the setting and building the world, K. M. Weiland details 16 ways to make your setting a character in its own right, and Kyla Bagnall lays out 5 ways to incorporate multiple languages into your fantasy novel.

Story structure is important for novelists and narrative non-fiction writers. James Scott Bell reminds us that eventually you have to bring order to the story stuff, and Dario Ciriello discusses plotting for pantsers.

Having trouble pinpointing the problem in your book? Dawn Field advises writers to find the center of your book, while Jodi Hedlund lists three ways authors can keep research details from boring their readers.

Writers who learn the basic grammar rules make the editor’s job a lot easier, but even the best writers can make grammar errors. Christina DesMarais points out 43 embarrassing grammar mistakes even smart people make, and Melissa Donovan offers 10 good grammar resources.

For those experiencing difficulty writing, Anne R. Allen considers writer’s block and depression: why writers need to fill the well, Kathryn Craft considers whether a life detour is an obstacle or opportunity, and Bob Hostetler urges writers to write like baseball.

Interested in trying out a different facet of writing? Janet Reid explains how to break into ghost writing novels in the big leagues.

The Author Chronicles, laptop & glasses

Photo by Jesus Kiteque on Unsplash


Here are some insights for those trying to interest an agent or publisher in their works: Jennifer Slattery discusses writing queries that get read, Steve Laube explains what happens in the agency after a writer sends in a proposal or query, and Jacob Warwick explains how to make powerful pitches to large publications.

Three bloggers contribute some tips on self-publishing. Beth Bacon explains how to write a creative brief so your graphic designer creates an amazing book cover, and Nicole Dieker relates her experience in self-publishing a debut literary novel: the actions, the costs, the results. You can also put out your own audio book, but Laura Drake asks: SHOULD you create your own audio book?

Whether you chose traditional or self-publishing, author marketing improves book sales. We found a number of posts that address the issue of marketing. Ryan Holiday writes about the marketing rule you can’t forget, Judith Briles discusses authors and marketing fatigue, Drew Chial examines how hard selling can hurt your brand, and Lysa Grant shares the best free book marketing sites.

Melinda Clayton emphasizes the importance of categories and keywords for your books on KDP, and David Gaughran takes a look at when reader targeting goes wrong.

Are visits to book stores in your marketing plan? Debbie Young considers book marketing: how to get your self-published books into bookstores, while Dana Kaye analyzes whether book store events matter: how to benefit from in-person author visits.

For those active on social media, Nadya Lyapunova explains how to promote a young adult novel on social media, and Frances Caballo wonders if you have seen these changes to Facebook and Twitter.

If you’re trying to improve your blog,¬†Jane Friedman shares WordPress plugins she can’t live without, Kathryn Lilley provides tips for crediting photos used in blogs as well as suggesting sources [we used a source she mentions for the terrific photos in this post], and Jami Gold speaks about blog commenting: building a community.

Have you created an author website? Janet Reid has suggestions for your contact page, while Jami Gold focuses on how to create a reader friendly website.

The Author Chronicles, artist at work

Photo by Rachael Gorjestani on Unsplash


The Guardian‘s Alison Flood reports that Jane Austin’s “Great House,” the Chawton House Library, has launched an urgent appeal to stay open.

Sarah Gibbens of National Geographic writes about the discovery of a manuscript written by the Hippocrates in a remote Egyptian monastery.

Tabatha Leggett shares the BuzzFeed community’s 30 feminist children’s books that every child should read.

Open Culture announces that The British Museum has created 3D models of the Rosetta Stone and over 200 other artifacts which can be downloaded or viewed in virtual reality.

BuzzFeed‘s Kimberley Dadds gives us 22 novels that are crying out to be turned into films. Do you have any favorites that you’d like to see made into a film?

That’s it for this week’s Top Picks Thursday. See you in August!


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