Posted by: J. Thomas Ross | August 16, 2018

Top Picks Thursday! For Writers & Readers 08-16-2018

The Author Chronicles, Top Picks Thursday, J. Thomas Ross, books, library shelves

Photo by Ugur Akdemir on Unsplash


Welcome to this week’s Top Picks Thursday! Happy middle of August!

Last Thursday, August 9, was National Book Lovers Day, but you can still celebrate with Alex Butler’s literary holiday ideas.

On the topic of reading, Charlotte Ahlin reveals the 15 most popular re-read books (according to Goodreads), and Maggie Lynch delves into what makes readers buy books.

Providing some warnings for writers, Writers Beware‘s Victoria Strauss issues a caution about Fiction War Magazine, and Scott La Counte shares information about bogus websites phishing for books.

Dwight Garner remembers V. S. Naipaul, a writer of many contradictions and obvious greatness, the Nobel laureate who died Saturday at the age of 85.


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Photo by 85Fifteen on Unsplash



Stories start with ideas. Steve Laube considers brainstorming: how and with whom, and Laura Benedict gives her take on the getting and keeping of ideas.

As you’re writing that story, Kathryn Craft advocates creating pockets of story: expand inward, and Jami Gold points out that when showing vs. telling: don’t assume showing is always better.

Something not quite right with your story? Jane Friedman suggests fixing your story by focusing on place, and Ellen Tanner Marsh clarifies the 5 most common mistakes that bog down your narrative.

With tips on improving your story, Janice Hardy explains how dramatic irony can heighten tensions and strengthen plots and how to use hook lines and the dramatic pause to control pace.

For those developing characters, Cait Reynolds shows how characters come alive in death, and Gabriela Pereira examines writing by design (Part 4): contrast, or light versus dark.

If you’re not writing fiction, Anne Janzer cautions nonfiction writers to beware of omitting facts because you assume your readers know what you know, and Melissa Donovan explores communicating with poetry: the search for deeper meaning.

Writing can be stressful. Kathryn Magendie comments on the ups and downs of revision: Gas-X for writers–results may vary, and Dario Ciriello advises writers to breathe–the copyeditor has your back.

Writing not going well? D. G. Kaye lays out how to deal with writer’s block, and Colleen M. Story reveals why writers need confidence and 5 ways to boost yours.

On the other hand, writing can be beneficial. Kristina Adams has found that writing can be the best way to deal with adversity.

Julie Glover reminds writers that your book isn’t for everyone.


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For writers seeking agents, Tamela Hancock Murray clears up four myths about agents, and Janet Reid explains what to do when you get an offer on one manuscript and have others out as well. Also, Cris Freese shares 8 agents’ best tips for getting published today.

Rachelle Gardner answers questions about author platform.

Struggling with writing your author bio? Lee Wind identifies the many kinds of bios you’ll need, and Debbie Young gives pointers on how to write an effective author bio.

If you’re considering self-publishing, Dan Balow explains how to know if self-publishing is for you.

Self-publishers have many decisions to make and may need help. Esther Park takes a look at where to go for author services no longer provided by CreateSpace, Carolyn Howard-Johnson sets out how to use your reviews and excerpts, and Joel Friedlander details bad book design decisions and how to avoid them.

With information on marketing for all writers, K. M. Weiland explains how to market your book when you hate marketing, while Christina Delay claims that marketing can be fun — really. Plus, Rose Andrews lists 3 ways to market your book for free, and Lisa Tener urges nonfiction writers to think creatively and sell your book in bulk with special sales.

Additional ideas for marketing: Melissa Chan explains how to create merchandise for books, and Betsy Graziani Fasbinder suggests 6 things every author can do to capture an event audience.

An online presence is vital. Melissa Donovan details 6 ways to boost your social media presence, and Nate Hoffelder shares 12 new Gmail hacks every writer can use. Also, Ellen L. Buikema shows how to add video to your book’s Amazon sales page, and Frances Caballo discusses author podcasting: 10 tips you need.

Finally, Cristian Mihai tells how to blog despite having a full-time job, and John Burke sets out basic SEO tips every author website needs.


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We all know that reading is beneficial. Maryanne Wolf zeroes in on what immersing yourself in a book does to your brain.

Are you a book nerd? See how you rate by using Farrah Penn’s questions on BuzzFeed.

Literary Hub‘s Peter Hunt claims that Wind in the Willows isn’t really a children’s book, and Emily Temple writes that Shirley Jackson, possible a witch, definitely played the zither — or why all author bios should include likes and dislikes.

R. O. Kwon writes in defense of keeping books spine-in.

We love libraries and librarians. Jessica Leigh Hester spotlights the crack squad of librarians who track down half-forgotten books for the New York Public Library. What a terrific idea! Wonder if they would search for a book from someone outside of New York?

When people think of libraries, we think of peaceful, not dangerous, places. Apparently, this is not always so: Livia Gershon relates how being a Victorian librarian was considered oh-so-dangerous, and ABC News shares the Associated Press story about how snakes in the stacks put a DC library briefly out of circulation.

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


The Author Chronicles, Top Picks Thursday, J. Thomas Ross, rainbow

Rainbow after yesterday’s thunderstorms.



  1. Thanks again for the blog love!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks so much for including my article featured at No Wasted Ink. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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