Posted by: J. Thomas Ross | March 22, 2018

Top Picks Thursday! For Writers & Readers 03-22-2018

The Author Chronicles, J. Thomas Ross, crocuses, March

Purple striped crocuses on 3-19-2018, the last day of winter. Usually these crocus flowers are long gone by now. The cold weather has extended their bloom.


Welcome to this week’s Top Picks Thursday! Happy spring! Not that it looks or feels like spring in our neck of the woods. March keeps socking us with cold weather and one or more nor’easters a week. It can’t last much longer, right?

One thing you can do when the weather is not felicitous is write. Writing at home, however, can be challenging because of family interruptions and other distractions (like snow shoveling). So, what’s the best place to write? The answer is different for every writer. BuzzFeed’s Farrah Penn relates writer Amy Daws’ story — how she found, purely by chance, a unique place to be more productive. Would this work for you? If not, Bill Ferris has more suggestions — beyond the coffee shop: great places to write away from home.

We like to read other writers’ words of wisdom. Jenny Hansen shares 10 success tips from J. K. Rowling, and Mark Alpert adds four lessons from Colson Whitehead.

For all those readers who want to help out writer friends, Abby Franklin gives the scoop on how to be the best alpha/beta reader ever and give priceless feedback.

We lost an amazing human being last week. From Literary Hub: remembering Stephen Hawking — poet, astrophysicist, rock star.


The Author Chronicles, J. Thomas Ross, yellow crocuses, March

Yellow crocuses on the sunny last day of winter, 3-19-2018.



Do you prefer a particular genre? Anne R. Allen focuses on word count guidelines for all genres and non-fiction, and Kristen Lamb delves into how genre is fundamental for story success. Juliet Marillier ponders: what is fantasy, exactly?

If you are having difficulty writing, Janice Hardy takes a look at how to write when the last thing you want to do is write.

What’s your writing process? Rose Andrews discusses the waypoint writer — a flexible way  to plan a story, while Andrea Merrell asks: are you a waffle or spaghetti writer?

Eli Landes maintains there are only 2 types of stories — and why that matters.

For those puzzled by the elements of writing, Janice Hardy illuminates the difference between idea, premise, plot, and story, and Jami Gold explores how to create positive themes despite bittersweet endings.

Characters are a key element in fiction. Stavros Halvatzis asserts that every hero needs a nemesis, and Katharine Grubb discusses building contrast: why a great antagonist is good for your main character, while David Corbett considers the yearning to be evil. As a bonus for those developing antagonists, Bonnie Randall analyzes what the well-dressed villain is wearing these days.

Now that you’ve figured out your antagonist, Angela Ackerman shares 3 ways to help quieter protagonists steal the stage and advocates using emotional amplifiers to push your protagonist over the edge. Janice Hardy asks: what’s the emotional core of your character?

How important is the setting? Daisy James writes about setting as a character, and Christina Delay explains how to write unforgettable settings readers will never want to leave.

When you’ve completed that manuscript, Tiffany Yates Martin recommends mining your manuscript for buried treasure, and K. M. Weiland suggests you learn 5 ways to take risks with your writing.

When revising, Jami Gold shows how to punch up word choices using word lists, and Dawn Field declares structural language is the foundation of a great story.

Writer Cristian Mihai mulls how to become an artist.


The Author Chronicles, J. Thomas Ross, spring begins

Cloudy sunrise on 3-20-2018, the first day of spring.



When you’re ready for querying, Janet Reid explains how to query when you retell a classic and how much rewriting makes a book “new” enough for querying again.

In publishing news, Claire Kirch reports that feminist presses are seizing the moment and finding success.

For those thinking about freelancing, Jane Friedman reveals what I earned (and how) during my first year of full-time freelancing.

Self-publishing? David Kudler clears up the differences between ePub2 and ePub3, and Janet Reid considers risk assessment on repubbing previous novels.

On the social media scene: Scott La Counte clarifies how the latest Facebook changes affect authors, Rachel Thompson offers 4 ways you can make time to blog right now, and Frances Caballo reveals everything authors want to know about Instagram. Plus, Tom Rachman considers the agony and the ecstasy of taking author photos (mostly the agony).

If you are considering an author website, John Burke discusses how much a website costs.

Promoting your books? Gabino Iglesias provides 10 pointers on giving good author readings, and James Scott Bell wonders: can slick marketing sell bad books?


The Author Chronicles, J. Thomas Ross, snow on the first day of spring

Snowy evening on 3-20-2018, the first day of spring — a taste of what is coming.



Literary Hub’s Emily Temple identifies the 10 most famous bookstores in the world, while BuzzFeed’s Ambili lists 25 libraries around the world every voracious reader must visit and 25 facts about famous authors that will make you see them differently.

Talk about being creative — Dan Colman reports that Jane Austen used pins to edit her manuscripts.

Rebecca Rego Barry announces that the effects of Sylvia Plath are now up for sale.

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


The Author Chronicles, J. Thomas Ross, spring snowstorm

And the nor’easter moves in on 3-21-2018. No one told the weather it’s spring!


Enjoy our nature photos. Hope you find them an inspiration and a spur to creativity!



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