Posted by: J. Thomas Ross | October 26, 2017

Top Picks Thursday! For Writers & Readers 10-26-2017

Welcome to the last Top Picks Thursday of October!

At the end of October comes Halloween, and just in time for the spooky holiday, Jonathan Ferguson provides a handy guide to vampires, and Eric Grundhauser tells of the creepy cabinet that inspired Robert Louis Stevenson’s Jekyll and Hyde. For your Halloween reading pleasure, Chelsey Pippin suggests 31 books that will put you in the Halloween spirit, Jonathan Melville lists 13 books that are scarier than the film, and Emily Temple shares a host of scary literary fiction for people who hate horror.

The Author Chronicles, J. Thomas Ross, pumpkins, Styers Orchards

The end of October also means it’s almost time for NaNoWriMo. If you’re participating in NaNoWriMo, the Writers in the Storm team invites you to “plot up a storm” with the WITS team, Janice Hardy suggests you brainstorm your way to a great novel hook, and Frances Caballo offers 10 tips to stay motivated during NaNoWriMo.

The Guardian‘s Sian Cain reports that George Saunder’s Lincoln in the Bardo won the 2017 Man Booker Prize, the second year in a row the prize went to an American author.

Can ancient literature have importance today? Scott Esposito explores how the oldest stories — like Virgil’s Aeneid — can give us the best perspective, and B. R. J. O’Donnell examines how the Odyssey provides an early, still-relevant example of the enlightened guidance of a mentor. Also, Ben Panko tells how scientists model an ancient magnetic storm using 18th-century writings and illustrations.

Writers can learn a lot from other writers. Pasha Malla details what Julio Cortázar might teach us about teaching writing. Jillian Berman writes that John Grisham reveals his biggest money mistake.

For those who doubt writing can be a difficult activity, Emily Temple relates the stories of 6 famous writers injured while writing.

When you’re drowning in self-doubt, remember that even literary giants had their critics: Literary Hub shares a scathing 1855 review of Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass.


If you’re in need of inspiration or motivation, Bonnie Randall expounds on maximizing your creativity, Roger Colby shares 5 ways to re-energize your muse, and Barbara O’Neal has some thoughts on vanquishing the inner killer critic. Kathryn Craft suggests 5 ways writers can survive a quake.

Working on character development? Angela Ackerman discusses using dysfunctional behaviors to reveal characters’ emotional wounds and shares the mother lode of links on writing emotional wounds. Diverse characters are good, but Mikki Kendall urges writers to make sure your portrayal of the OTHER does not contribute to the harmful stereotyping of a group, and Bran L. Ayres provides guidance on writing with diversity. If you have aging characters, E. L. Skip Knox delves into history for fantasy writers: how old was old? In addition, Zoe M. McCarthy warns writers: don’t detail every movement your characters make.

Examining other story elements, K. M. Weiland lays out 4 ways to prevent formulaic story structure, Jordan Rosenfeld shows 4 key ways to launch a scene, Jami Gold explores finding the right balance between showing and telling, and Rayne Hall shares tips on creating suspense.

Since the greatest story can be obscured by faulty writing, Dawn Field advises that you need to become your own writing teacher. With some specific pointers, Oxford Dictionaries offers advice on the comma splice. and from The Oatmeal and Jane Daugherty: how and why to use whom in a sentence. These issues, however, are often best corrected in the revision phase. To help with that, Carla King reviews 9 manuscript editing software programs.

For writers making presentations at conferences or conventions, Julie Glover sets out 5 tips for presenting an engaging workshop.


In news regarding agents: Janet Reid considers the pros and cons of choosing a young agent at a small agency, Steve Laube insists that variety is the spice in an agent’s inbox, and Janet Reid answers the question: when you have multiple novels ready, how soon after receiving a rejection for novel #1 can you pitch novel #2?

Roz Morris focuses on the real schedule of a self-published book.

If you’re ready to sell your book, Sandra Beckwith addresses when to write a press release, David Kudler explains how universal sell links make ebook selling easier, Nate Hoffelder shares seven WordPress plugins for author bookshelves, and David Hartshorne compares 5 powerful keyword research tools. For those seeking book reviews, Mike Onorato provides some tips for writing a galley letter.

Gordon Long answers the question: can I make money off my non-fiction book?

Anne R. Allen comments on Amazon’s latest crackdowns, which net review trolls but also innocent authors (again).

Need social media tips? Frances Caballo shares the most retweetable words for engagement on Twitter, John Gilstrap discusses engineering a brand, and Sydney Mathieu contributes Goodreads tips for Indie authors.


We love our libraries! Ryan P. Smith talks about the wondrous complexity of the New York Public Library, Ashley Holstrom claims that Chrome’s Library Extension will change your life, and Ryan Krull asks: what’s a library to do? on homelessness and public spaces. Did you know Napoleon had his own traveling library? Colin Marshall reports on the miniaturized library he took on military campaigns.

Not everyone has easy access to a bookstore. Matt Grant reveals that Los Angeles is getting its own mobile bookstore.

Cait @ Paper Fury shares 10 annoying questions bookworms get asked that just make no sense.

Planning for the holidays? Sarah Rae Smith announces that Harry Potter fans can eat Christmas dinner at Hogwarts, and Stephanie DeLuca says you can live out your romantic comedy dreams of owning a bookstore on this working holiday in Scotland.

Jason Daley discusses what to know about literature’s newest Nobel Prize winner, British novelist Kazuo Ishiguro.

Kat Eschner reveals the first cookbooks published by black people in America and that Mark Twain liked cats better than people, while Hephzibah Anderson mentions some of the great writers forgotten by history. Jackie Mansky relates that a collection of Eleanor Roosevelt’s writing captures the first lady’s lasting relevance.

Book fairs aren’t always the quiet events you might expect. Deutsche Welle reports on violence at the Frankfurt Book Fair following calls for “active debate.”

Amelia Tait shows how the 25 greatest stories ever would be ruined by technology.

To finish up on a positive note, Jarry Lee shares 13 sticky note messages from the New York subway that will restore your faith in humanity.

That’s it for this week’s Top Picks Thursday picks! See you next week!

The Author Chronicles, J. Thomas Ross, farm in October

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