Posted by: J. Thomas Ross | August 24, 2017

TopPicks Thursday! For Readers & Writers 08-24-2017

Welcome to this week’s Top Picks Thursday!

Although the summer is winding down and the heat is easing off, there’s still time to finish your summer reading list. If you’ve focused on a particular genre, you might be getting tired of the standard tropes. Perhaps you’ll agree with Jamie Canaves’ book tropes we’d like to see die.

Whether in non-fiction or fiction, writers have never shied from addressing important current issues. Alexandra Alter writes that children’s authors take on the refuge crisis.

For writers of all kinds, Sara Letourneau takes a look at struggling with and regaining confidence in your writing.


When beginning a writing project, a writer has decisions to make. Will the work be fiction or non-fiction? Long or short? Several blog posts offer help. Anne R. Allen ponders memoir or fiction: should you novelize your real life experiences? If you choose memoir, Brooke Warner lays out what to share when writing a memoir.

Sometimes what starts out as a short piece keeps growing and growing. April Bradley tells us how to keep a short story short.

Doing research? Kate Moretti explains how to successfully ask “Can I pick your brain?

Tasha Seegmiller presents an easy guide to outlining your novel, and Scott McCormick continues with narrative structure, part two: it’s okay to stray (or, don’t forget your cockroach races).

Mary Kole advises beginning writers to relax and enjoy the process of writing the first draft. Janice Hardy also discusses writing the first draft and has suggestions about how to use your word count to your advantage.

Emmanuel Nataf shares an infographic on themes in fiction, while Janice Hardy asks: is your novel exploring an idea or solving a problem?

Puzzled by point of view? Alida Winterheimer clarifies how to choose the right POV with multiple narrators, and James Scott Bell addresses the challenges of first-person POV.

For those creating their protagonists and antagonists, Laurie Schnebly Campbell asserts that there is no road she (the female protagonist) can’t travel, and Kristen Lamb adds to her series on antagonists with antagonists: the end-all-be-all of our story and antagonists: what’s driving our story.

A story needs conflict. Janice Hardy delves into why conflict isn’t just about fighting, and Vaughn Roycroft discusses the trouble with action.

Good dialogue makes characters and stories come alive. Jordan Dane presents 10 ways to make dialogue real, James Scott Bell explores how to have your characters talk tough, and Cait Reynolds discusses using controversial language and stereotypes in fiction.

Is your character reading an imaginary book you’ve created? Kim Alexander speaks about reading and writing imaginary books within books.

If you’re almost finished your novel, Barbara O’Neal writes about orchestrating the end of your novel.


For writers seeking traditional publication, agent Wendy Lawton gives her take on the broken query system, Kristen Tsetsi outlines emotional etiquette for the writer seeking an agent, and Janet Reid advises writers to make sure your contact page actually has your contact information.

Whatever publication route you choose, Jim Dempsey reminds us how a professional editor can improve your writing, and Bill Ferris gives us the hack’s guide to dealing with book reviews.

Brian Jud proposes book sales beyond the bookstore, and Courtney Milan wonders if you’re making the most of your digital shelf space, while Nathan Bransford shares the definitive guide to SEO for authors.

Orna Ross asks if we are ready for self-publishing 3.0.

For those needing help with social media, Frances Caballo offers 4 social media productivity tips for authors, and Elna Cain shares 11 powerful tools to monitor your social media presence in 2017. If you’re setting up an author newsletter, Ricardo Fayet explores MailChimp alternatives for authors.

Internet security is an issue for us all. Nate Hoffelder stresses 6 common sense steps to secure a WordPress website.


Charlotte Ahlin sets out the 12 best writing tips and tricks, based on your zodiac sign.

Lucas Maxwell shares his favorite bookstagram locations in the UK.

Science fiction readers might enjoy the Salisbury Museum’s exhibit — Terry  Pratchett: His World, open from September 16th until January 13th.

Smithsonian‘s Jason Daley reports that Medieval manuscripts are a smorgasbord of DNA, Kat Eschner reveals that the author of “Robinson Crusoe” used almost 200 pseudonyms, and Jason Daley relates the results of a study identifying the funniest words in the English language.

Susan Holloway Scott sees emotion in the words of a handwritten letter from Abigail Adams.

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


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