Posted by: J. Thomas Ross | November 1, 2018

Top Picks Thursday! For Writers & Readers 11-01-2018



Welcome to the first Top Picks Thursday in November. It’s a warm and beautiful day here in the East. Thanks for taking the time to join us.

Not only is today the beginning of NaNoWriMo, it’s also National Author’s Day and National Family Literacy Day, so sit down and write or pick up a book and celebrate!

Best wishes for all writers participating in NaNoWriMo. With some last-minute tips for you, Grant Faulkner writes about NaNoWriMo and finding your creative flow, and Debbie Young explains how to get ready for NaNoWriMo and why.

Crystal Hana Kim thinks worrying about publication kills creativity. Maybe that’s why so many writers love NaNoWriMo, where the focus is on production rather than publication.

One frequently seen piece of advice for writers is to write what you know. On Literary Hub, five writers—Kim Brooks, Rumaan Alam, Sheila Heti, Meaghan O’Connell, and Jessica Friedman—discuss what it means to write about motherhood (part 1) and part 2.

Speaking of children, Emily Hartford wonders why we are still teaching reading the wrong way, and Mary Claire Blanton explains why you should help kids write.

In remembrance of those we have lost: Melville House‘s Christina Cerin announces the death of Todd Bol, the founder of the Little Free Library, at age 62; The New York Times‘ Neil Genzlinger reports that Tony Hoagland, a poet with a wry outlook, died at age 64; and The Washington Post‘s Harrison Smith writes about the death of black feminist poet and playwright Ntozake Shange at age 70.


Photo by David Iskander on Unsplash





Many things can interfere with writing. Kathy Rowe considers writing and real life: juggling your time; Sheree, the Merry Writer, discusses building the writing habit; Christina Delay talks about writing when life is more trick than treat; and Judith Briles shares 9 mental “tools” for writing when the clock is ticking … and beyond.

For those writers are experiencing doubts, Robin E. Mason provides guidance for when you don’t think you’re good enough, and Chad R. Allen lays out how to be absolutely sure your book idea has a market.

Learning is a key part of writing. K. M. Weiland offers 5 lessons from a lost novel, and Gila Green spells out what writing flash fiction can do for novel writers.

With some tips for those who write in a particular genre, E. L. Skip Knox looks at history for fantasy writers: millers, Dustin Grinnell explores plausible scares: blending the real and unreal in horror fiction, and Anne Janzer goes over how to enliven your nonfiction writing. If your genre is mystery and crime fiction, Erica Wright delves into setting in murder mysteries: where to hide the body, and P. J. Parrish wonders if anything is really taboo in today’s crime fiction.

Mark Alpert takes a look at fiction and politics—and urges everyone to vote next week.

Getting down to the nitty-gritty? TD Storm investigates the pitfalls of emotional body language in your writing, Bonnie Randall examines creating story tension: rooms with an unexpected view, and Janice Hardy delves into providing emotional clarity in your writing and warns of the dangers of over plotting your novel.

Several posts focus on storytelling: Jami Gold discusses storytelling: taking readers on a journey, Barbara O’Neal considers the value quotient—your core story and values, and John Gilstrap offers a different twist on storytelling.

Is the end of your story in sight? Jami Gold examines creating satisfying endings without clichés.

For those in the editing and revision process, Ruth Harris considers radical revision: when the going gets tough, writers get radical, and Charles Harrington Elster asks: are you misusing these common words?


Photo by pulkit jain on Unsplash





Nonfiction writers may find it necessary to submit a book proposal for their work. Melanie Votaw offers 8 tips for a marketable nonfiction book proposal.

With advice for writers on the publishing path, Amy Shojai sets out 7 steps to publishing success by an accidental writer, Richard Lowe takes on the topic of how to make a living as a professional self-published author, and James Scott Bell writes about staying afloat in the roiling sea of books.

We found a lot of good tips this week for those pursuing self-publishing, but writers interested in traditional publishing can learn things from these links as well. Renee Lamine gives tips on pricing your self-published book, Stephanie Chandler reveals how Amazon calculates sales rankings for books, Alex Fullerton goes into how to get a foreword for your self-published book, and Steven Spatz feels that your book needs a pre-sale period to be successful.

For all writers, Kristine Kathryn Rusch stresses the importance of having copyright savvy, David Penny advocates putting readers first—an essential ingredient of successful book marketing, and Dana Kaye asks: do bookstore events even matter?

With helpful information for writers who have blogs, Jordan Peters suggests how to get your blog readers to pay attention, Cristian Mihai shares the Fight Club guide to blogging, and Darren Rowse advises what to do when someone steals your blog content.

The Authors Guild reports on a court case considering whether university electronic course packs an be considered fair use.


Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash





Here’s a quiz for those who enjoy poetry. Alana Mohamad asks: do you know these famous poems by their first lines?

Sandra Spanier brings us the vulnerable private writings of Ernest Hemingway.

Paul Alexander takes a look at the psychiatrist who tried to save Sylvia Plath.

For those still in a Halloween frame of mind, Nancy Snyder reveals the ghostly residents of the famed literary Hotel Chelsea.


That’s it for this week’s Top Picks Thursday. For those who’ve been enjoying Daylight Savings Time, it ends this weekend. Enjoy your extra hour of sleep when you “fall” back, and we’ll see you next week with a new roundup of writerly links!





  1. Thanks for mentioning my blog post!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


%d bloggers like this: