Posted by: J. Thomas Ross | September 21, 2017

Top Picks Thursday! For Writers & Readers 09-21-2017

*Once more we watch with overflowing hearts as so many lives are impacted by Hurricane Maria and the earthquake in Mexico. The Author Chronicles hopes that relief will come soon and recovery and rebuilding will progress as quickly as possible — and that we have seen the end of such disasters for this year.*

Welcome to this week’s Top Pick’s Thursday!

Can you believe it’s the last day of summer? With predictions for 90° weather here this weekend, it won’t feel much like autumn. We do hope cool weather moves in soon so the conditions no longer favor fierce hurricanes. If you’d like to do something for writers affected by this weather, Rebecca Renner encourages supporting Florida writers by buying their books: 30 books by Florida writers affected by Hurricane Irma.

The community of writers is amazing. If you’re a writer who hasn’t yet become part of it, Suzanne Purvis spells out the benefits of writerly camaraderie.

Something for parents: Nora Krug shares tips on how to get kids to look away from their books and take pleasure in reading.

Something for writers: Joanna Penn reveals lessons learned from 6 years as an author entrepreneur, and Phyllis Smallman has suggestions for writing in the small spaces.

If you don’t think your life is interesting enough to spark great story ideas, Ivy Grimes writes about 4 everyday events that inspired famous writers.

Are you participating in NaNoWriMo? Bill Ferris reminds us there are only 45 shopping days left to NaNoWriMo, while Jennie Nash takes a look at fast-draft writing for NaNoWriMo and every other month.

Sooner or later we all need help, but too often we hesitate to ask for it. Aimie K. Runyan makes a good point — and not just for writers — if you don’t ask, the answer is always no.

Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash, The Author Chronicles, pen and notebook, Top Picks Thursday

Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash


Anyone thinking of writing has to make a number of choices. To help you decide what form you want to write, Nils Ödlund stresses 5 things to consider when writing a novella, Joanna Penn presents writing memoir with Roz Morris, Kim Alexander advocates breaking the same olde fantasy stereotypes to put the fan back in fantasy, and Hannah Kent wonders how much actual history do you need in your historical novel? In addition, Anja de Jager lists practical hints and tips on writing a series.

Whether you’re a pantser or plotter, Sarah Ahiers recommends pre-work (basic project planning) to achieve your best work, and C. S. Lakin explains how you can avoid making structural mistakes in your novel.

The plot forms the basic structure of a story. K. M. Weiland catalogs 5 tips for organizing subplots, James Scott Bell explores how to cure mid-novel sag, and Jami Gold demystifies what our story’s climax should include.

To help you craft effective characters, Laurence MacNaughton shares 6 ways to make readers fall in love with your characters, and Kristen Lamb shares tips for creating villains audiences can’t get enough of.

Conversations between characters add life to stories. To help with the finer points of character dialogue, Stravros Halvatzis explores using deflection in dialogue, and Mike Cooper gives 5 tips on making jargon and tech work in your manuscript.

For those refining their manuscripts, Scott McCormick asserts that the drama is in the details (the humor, horror, and suspense are too), Cait Reynolds suggests using physical distance to up story stakes, pace, and tension, and Kathryn Craft urges writers to say a little less and mean a little more.

Language is the medium all writers use. Terri Pous details 16 ways you may be butchering the English language, and Joel Friedlander lays out everything you need to know about hyphens, en dashes, and em dashes.

If your manuscript is ready for editing, Debbie Young provides a list of standard editing reference books and advice for hiring an editor, Jeff Lyons sets out 5 questions to ask before hiring editing help, and Roz Morris advocates book editing as a form of creative discovery.

Writing non-fiction? Amron Gravett explains why Indie writers of non-fiction need indexes and how to create one.

Ramey Channell writes about avoiding the unmentionable (writer’s block).


For writers seeking an agent, Janet Reid lists 7 quick ways to get your query rejected and answers the question: how do I tell agents I love to revise?

If your manuscript is ready for publication, Jane Friedman shares her publishing industry status report for 2017; and Melissa Bowersock gives the scoop on types of publishers, particularly service publishers, who offer a la carte services; and Amy Dean explains how publishers find their illustrators.

Marketing information: Steve Laube explains marketing vs. publicity, Ben Cameron details book publicity opportunities in newspapers, Seth Dellon differentiates different types of book reviews, and Marcy Kennedy asks: are your book’s ads earning or losing you money?

For Indie authors: Damon Freeman discusses the psychology behind good book cover design, Beth Bacon advises don’t upload your ebook to an online bookstore without reviewing this checklist, and David Kudler presents 5 tips for validating your ebook (a bit technical, but important for self-publishers).

Confused by conflicting advice on using social media? Jane Friedman explains why social media is so hard to advise authors on. Want to make your time on social media more productive? Alfred Lua gives 14 ways to increase your Facebook page engagement, which includes posting less; Anne R. Allen asserts that you need to get rid of popups if you want to increase your blog readership and engagement; and Darren Rowse points out 7 common newsletter problems (and how to solve them).


James Gaines highlights two scientists, Cecilia Bembibre and Matija Strlic, exploring why old book smell is special.

NYU professor and novelist Zadie Smith has been selected to receive the Langston Hughes Medal for Writing.

Laura Hudson describes how some writers progressed from writing Star Wars fan fiction to contributing to the official Star Wars universe.

Isabella Biedenharn reports on a conversation between Sarah Rees Brennan and Maureen Johnson on writing and murder.

Author Libba Bray shares her thoughts on the planned all-female remake of Lord of the Flies, while James Atlas addresses the trials and triumphs of writing Saul Bellow’s biography while he was still alive.

Brigit Katz tells us that lost languages have been found in one of the world’s oldest continuously run libraries and how we can brush up on ancient Akkadian with a new online dictionary.

That’s all for this week’s Top Picks Thursday. See you in the fall (next week)!

Photo by Dan Gold on Unsplash, The Author Chronicles, laptop and coffee, Top Picks Thursday

Photo by Dan Gold on Unsplash

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