Posted by: Kerry Gans | December 13, 2018

Top Picks Thursday! For Writers & Readers 12-13-2018

Welcome to this week’s Top Picks Thursday! The holiday season is in full swing, with all the hectic activity that entails, and we thank you for taking the time to stop by the Author Chronicles.

Patricia Lockwood won the 2018 Thurber Prize for American Humor, and check out the Goodreads Best Books of 2018.

Holiday seasons can be joyful, but they can also be stressful. Jami Gold has the Ultimate Gift Guide for Writers 2018, Angela Ackerman has her top gifts for writers, Lisa Tener shares 12 meaningful holiday gifts for writers, Tara Sparling reveals what writers really want for Christmas, and Roz Morris discusses how to keep in touch with your book when your writing routine is disrupted.

Publishers are striving to support diversity and literacy. Polis Books has launched a diversity-focused crime imprint, while a new publisher wants to promote child literacy by giving one book away for every book sold.

Booksellers in the USA seem to be recovering, but Brazilian booksellers face a wave of closures that have left the sector in crisis.

With all the bleak news in the world today, Rebecca Makkai wonders: the world’s on fire. Can we still talk about books?


Do you love diary-style books? Luna Adler looks at how online confessional columns are reinventing the diary book.

Arguably, the two most important parts of our book are the beginning and the end. James Scott Bell discusses beginnings and backstory, Janice Hardy shares 5 ways to write stronger opening scenes, and Stavros Halvatzis shows us how to create a memorable final image in stories.

We all know how important well-developed characters are to our story’s success. Angela Ackerman shows us how to take character relationships to the next level, Emmanuel Nataf explains how to give your characters unforgettable names, Scott McCormick warns us to avoid the cliché “strong female character”, Jordan Dance talks character conflicts, Donald Maass delves into catastrophe theory and character, and Nancy Johnson discusses critiquing across the color line.

Many writers find revision and editing difficult. Kristen Lamb examines the 5 stages of grief as applied to novel revision, K.M. Weiland has the 10-step checklist to writing an above-average novel, Rachelle Gardner ponders should I hire a freelance editor?, Piper Bayard urges us to get firearms right in our stories, and Fae Rowan discusses subtlety in word choice.

Writing is hard and the learning curve never seems to end, but there are many ways to keep honing your skills. Erin Sturn has 3 reasons why writing is so difficult, Janie Hardy advocates changing your thinking to improve your writing, Melissa Donovan lists 10 ways to learn writing skills, Frances Yackel gives us 14 literary podcasts with diverse hosts and views, and Kristin Wong explains how to finally write your nonfiction book.

Writing community is an often-overlooked piece of authorial success. Helena Halme has 5 places to write when you’re fed up with writing at home, Lauren E. Oakes and Emily Polk gives us a peek inside the scientists’ writing group, where they find community in a burning world, and Janis Cooke Newman discusses what happens when your writers retreat literally burns to the ground?

We’d all like to be more productive, and we all tend to write faster when we are passionate about our subject. P.J. Parrish explores how to increase your daily word count, while Colleen M. Story advises us how to restore our love of writing.


Sam Eichner of the Columbia Journalism Review explores what’s behind a recent rise in books coverage?

Self-publishers need to create and direct everything from cover to blurb to budgets. Chris Payne walks us through book cover design basics, Kerrie Flanagan has a starter guide to DIY audiobooks, Susan Spann has copyright tips, and Jaren Nichols talks money management for authors.

Looking for an agent? Jess Zafarris lists the top 10 websites for writers with literary agent advice and resources, Lisa Tener shows how to employ these powerful verbs in your leadership or author bio, Lara Perkins tells you how to pitch a picture book and Mary Kole explains using comp titles in your query.

Agent Janet Reid answers specific questions: Will publishing a stand-alone novel set in the same world as the manuscript you are querying hurt your chances of landing an agent? and How do you query when a publisher declines Book 4 of your series?

Marketing is a fraught subject for many authors. Joel Friedlander distills Seth Godin’s marketing in 5 steps for authors, Rick Lite has the ultimate book marketing timeline for indie authors (part 1), Belinda Griffin debunks 5 no good reasons authors resist marketing, and Frances Caballo lists 22 book marketing tips.

Don’t know what to put up on social media? Diana Urban gives us 23 content ideas from successful authors on social media, and IngramSpark discusses strategies for connecting with readers via social media.

Blogging can be a great way to connect with your readers. Cristian Mihai explains why being bold is essential for blogging success and the importance of trust (and how to lose it) in blogging, Adam Connell shows us how to prepare for a new year of blogging, and Darren Rowse lists 13 key ways to lower your blog’s bounce rate (and why it matters).


Feeling generous this holiday season? Here is the Book Lover’s Guide to Volunteering.

Jennifer Geddes tells us how to declutter our books (which in my house would be something of a Christmas miracle).

But what if you want to read those books again? Clare Langley-Hawthorne asks: are you a rereader?

Sometimes it’s the little things that make a big difference. Evan Nicole Brown explores the little blue books that made French literature mainstream.

Josh Wilbur takes us inside Virginia Woolf’s obsession with astronomy.

Expensive specs. James Joyce’s glasses sold at auction for $19,000.

Catherine Pond examines Willa Cather’s lasting love for the frontier.

Dive into James Baldwin’s dispatches from the heart of the Civil Rights movement.

Actor Jeff Daniels discusses playing the iconic Atticus Finch on Broadway.

Kristen Arnett complies an incomplete list of the non-book things you can get at the library.

That’s all for this week’s Top Picks Thursday! Join us next week for more literary links!


  1. Thank you for all the blog love! Happy Holidays!


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