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

Top Picks Thursday! For Writers and Readers 12-21-2017

The Author Chronicles, J. Thomas Ross, snowy sunrise, snow on trees

Welcome to Top Picks Thursday on this first day of winter! This December has been so cold and snowy that we feel like we’ve been in winter weeks already. Today is also Crossword Puzzle Day (a good mental activity for a cold, snowy day).

With all the hacking on the news this year, you’d think everybody would have created difficult passwords for their accounts, but Nate Hoffelder reveals that far too many people are still using “password” as a password. If you’re still using one of the common ones he lists, change it!

The holidays are upon us. Jamie Raintree suggests 5 ways to use the holiday season to benefit your writing career, and Debbie Young points out why every author should write a Christmas book, while Kathleen McCleary focuses on what to give yourself this year.

For any non-writers who have thought about writing, Sherry Howard asserts that everybody has a story in them.

The dream of many writers is to become a best-selling author. If that’s your dream, Tim Knox analyzes what it really means to be a best-selling author.

Writers are often advised to read all types of books in all genres, not just the one they prefer. Jason Guriel presents the case against reading everything.

The Guardian‘s Claire Armitstead believes that literary fiction is in crisis. What do you think?

This is the time of year to look back and remember. Literary Hub‘s Emily Temple pays tribute to literary figures we lost in 2017.


Kristen Lamb reflects on the writers’ journey: newbie to mastery, while Aimie K. Runyan promotes self-care for the newly launched author.

What makes writing good? Christopher Lentz asserts that great writing is like a great strip tease, and Anne R. Allen delves into “secret writing rules” and why to ignore them, while Jami Gold asks: is your writing episodic — or epic?

Mark Fearing sets out how to create a graphic novel, and Jerry Jenkins lists steps 1 – 10 in his 20-step plan to writing a book.

Michael Bazzett speculates about how fetishizing “craft” can get in the way of a good poem.

Two bloggers have pointers on improving your characters: Janice Hardy shares 8 tips for creating characters, and Melissa Donovan lists five things your characters need.

Jami Gold explores transition techniques, and Kathryn Craft advocates bringing your dialogue to life.

Janice Hardy shares 4 tips on writing action scenes and explains when to add a scene break, while Jami Gold discusses how to create scene endings that hook readers.

For writers working on creating a believable setting, E. L. Skip Knox explores history for fantasy writers: wagons, carts, and trucks.

If you’re seeking help in polishing your manuscript, Angela Ackerman explains different kinds of editing (with examples).


Jane Friedman reports on 5 publishing headlines in 2017 that raised issues for authors, and John Doppler lists 10 myths and misunderstandings about Amazon.

For writers looking for agents, Jennie Nash explores creating the perfect elevator pitch, and Victoria Strauss questions whether author-agent handshake agreements are a good idea.

Literary Hub considers 20 questions (and answers) for the debut author, and Jane Friedman shares a book launch plan for first-time authors without an online presence.

Amy Collins lays out what you should be doing to promote your book (like writing another one), and Sara Wigal sets out the author’s role in a successful book publicity campaign. Marcy Kennedy explains understanding pay-per advertising.

When you publish a book, readers will ask you to sign copies. Is there a protocol for this? Judith Briles provides essential tips on how to autograph books.

Jane Friedman explains how to start blogging: a definitive guide for authors, and Kristen L. Jackson shares her experience in blogging a path to enlightenment, while Sandra Beckwith helps you set your goals for success in 2018.

Rachel Thompson posts social media clean-up: part 2.


Looking for an unusual gift? Devan Coggin of Entertainment Weekly reports on a Lord of the Rings, limited edition, specialty wine collection.

Noah Berlatsky answers the question: is Star Wars’ “The Last Jedi” science fiction?

Literary Hub‘s Helen Smith talks about the editor who pulled Joseph Conrad from the slush pile.

Emily Temple analyzes the opening paragraph she considers the best of all time — from Shirley Jackson’s We Have Always Lived in the Castle.

Ernest Hilbert provides a colorful history of judging books by their covers.

Cara Giaimo reveals how archivists deal with redactions, codes, and scribbles.

That’s all for this week’s Top Picks Thursday. Join us next week for a recap of the most popular links we shared in 2017. See you then!

The Author Chronicles, J. Thomas Ross, snow on trees, snowy dawn


  1. Thanks for recommending Jamie Raintree’s post! And for all your other recommendations for those of us who are too busy this holiday season to find these prizes!
    -Fae Rowen


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