Posted by: J. Thomas Ross | November 8, 2018

Top Picks Thursday! For Writers & Readers 11-08-2018



Welcome to this week’s Top Picks Thursday! Fall foliage is at its peak here in the Delaware Valley. Hope you’re enjoying the season.

NaNoWriMo is well underway. If you’re participating, Greer Macallister shares 16.67 ways to juice your daily word count. Don’t feel bad if you’re not participating. In confessions of a slow writer, Anne R. Allen asserts that NaNoWriMo isn’t for everyone, while Jo Eberhardt lists five reasons not to do NaNoWriMo. For those married to writers who are participating, Thomas Hardy offers the spouses’ guide to NaNoWriMo: juggling life and writing in November.

Today is National STEM/STEAM Day. These subjects are vital for today’s students, and they all require reading.

While we’re on the subject of students’ reading, CNN’s Katy Scott mulls whether diversity in children’s books can tackle prejudice, and SCBWI’s—the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators—Lee Wind shares Kathy Ishizuka’s article in the School Library Journal: school librarians are on a mission to bring diverse books to their students.

With more on the importance of books and reading, Electric Literature‘s Holly Genovese asserts that restricting books for prisoners harms everyone, even the non-incarcerated.

In The New York Times, Sara Aridi reports that Jorie Graham has won the Rebekah Johnson Bobbitt National Prize for Poetry.


Photo by Iñaki del Olmo on Unsplash




We all value advice from a well-know author. Michael Seidlinger tells us what Shirley Jackson has to say about writing.

Do you think you’re too old to begin a writing career? Joanie Walker claims it’s never too late to write a novel.

Writers’ conferences can provide information and networking for authors. If you’re considering attending one, Rachelle Gardner offers more on writers’ conferences.

Is there ever enough time to write? Cristian Mihai lists 5 tips for finding time to write, and in the 9-minute novelist, Jeff Somers sets out an approach that will lead you from first draft to finished manuscript in minutes a day, while Rose Andrews advocates pushing to the end.

In addition, Pascale Kavanagh suggests meditation to improve writer creativity, and Sarah Cy lists 4 foolproof methods to become a prolific and successful writer.

Cathy Yardley wonders if writers should trust their guts, while Jami Gold reflects on writer confidence: do you self-reject?

Where do you write? Panio Gianopoulos contemplates trains as writing spaces.

For those working on character development, Jordan Dane proposes making your characters memorable. One way to do that is to give your characters flaws. Bonnie Randall shares 8 ways to create character flaws, and Kristen Lamb ponders the difference between flawed characters and those “too dumb to live.” Also, to help you show instead of tell about your characters, Lisa Hall-Wilson digs into the body language of fear.

If you’re working on other elements of fiction, Janice Hardy goes into how to raise tension and conflict in a scene and gives 10 questions to ask when choosing a setting. In addition, Kristen Lamb elaborates on description: fiction without the fillers, while K. M. Weiland considers the question: how do you know when enough is enough?

Do you write a particular genre? Diana Urban examines publishing trends: tropes readers adore across 15 fiction genres. Those who write fantasy or science fiction may want to include a map of their world in their novels. J. L. Gilliland takes a look at how to work with map artists. Hannah Giorgis considers how to write consent in romance novels, and Brunonia Barry reflects on writing what scares us: awakening the monster inside. Finally, for those writing crime fiction or mystery, Sue Coletta debates to lead or not to lead: questioning an eyewitness.

Ready to edit your manuscript? Andrea Merrill shares tricky and confusing words part two, and Melissa Donovan examines what’s wrong with adjectives and adverbs. Dawn Field highlights the “why do I need this?” check, and Zara Altair considers the three stages of manuscript editing. If you’re hiring an editor, Patricia B. Smith reveals how to tell good editing from bad editing.

James Scott Bell tackles how to win friends and influence beta readers.

Although many advise against using anything but your actual name, Sophie Masson lays out the case for pseudonyms.


Photo by 85Fifteen on Unsplash




For writers seeking an agent, Mary Kole clarifies query letter format.

Janet Reid takes on the issue of what to do when you’ve co-created a world and now want to sell your novel set in it.

Whether you travel the traditional publishing route or self-publish, you’ll need an author bio, so Stephanie Chandler addresses writing an effective author bio.

On the subject of publishing, Chris Power suggests that independent publishers have more sway in the industry than ever, and Richard Charkin looks into how commercial success is measured in publishing.

If you’re ready to market your book, Amy Collins takes on book promotion: do this, not that, Dawn Reno Langley explores how to use swag to support your book marketing, and Joel Friedlander asks: have you pre-sold your book? In addition, Penny Sansevieri delves into how to tap the marketing power of street teams, superfans and micro-influencers.

Rachel Amphlett describes how (and why) to create a book catalog of your self-published books.

Lisa Tener advises writers to get on podcasts to reach readers and sell more books, and Penny Sansevieri advocates updating your keywords to sell more books over the holidays, while Sandra Beckwith reveals why readers aren’t reviewing your books.

Sharing social media savvy, Cristian Mihai discusses commenting on other blogs: what works and what doesn’t, and Alee King lays out how to bring your email list back from the dead.

So what do you do when things don’t go the way you’d hoped? Chris Syme takes a look at crisis management for authors.


Photo by Joanna Kosinska on Unsplash




We have a special spot in our hearts for booksellers. Evidently, a lot of other people do too. Laurel Wamsley shares how more than 200 people in Southampton, England, formed a human chain to help a bookstore move its stock to a new shop down the street.

It’s heartening to see the opening of a new and unique bookstore: Grub Street‘s Chris Crowley reports that a rare bookseller is opening a cookbook store in Brooklyn.

Taking a glimpse into the past, W. Scott Poole examines how horror changed after World War I, CrimeReads tells about the time Raymond Chandler and Ian Fleming got together to talk about thrillers, and Viv Groskop writes about the weirdos of Russian literature., while Hiroaki Sato focuses on the evolution of a strict poetic game: haiku.

To leave you with a smile, BuzzFeed‘s Farrah Penn shares 14 illustrations that’ll make all book lovers laugh.


Don’t forget that Sunday is Veteran’s Day [which was originally called Armistice Day, established to honor the end of World War I, 100 years ago on November 11, 1918]. If you get the chance, thank a veteran—they’ve all sacrificed for the rest of us.

That’s all for this week’s Top Picks Thursday. We’ll see you next Thursday with another collection of writerly links.



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