Posted by: J. Thomas Ross | January 17, 2019

Top Picks Thursday! For Writers & Readers 01-17-2019

The Author Chronicles, J. Thomas Ross, winter scene

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Welcome to this week’s Top Picks Thursday! Can you believe we’re half way through the first month of the year?

Did you make any writerly resolutions for 2019? We hope you’re succeeding in following through with them. If you’ve already slipped up, don’t despair. New resolutions can be made any day of the year. If you need ideas, Olivia Páez shares bookish habits she hopes to maintain through 2019.

Tomorrow is National Thesaurus Day—could any writer get along without one? Tomorrow is also National Winnie the Pooh Day. We’ll be celebrating both!

Genre fiction seems to be gaining more respect. Alex Green writes that genre fiction is finding a place at independent bookstores, and Jason Boog tells us about Red Planet Books & Comics, an independent bookstore in New Mexico dedicated to indigenerds (Native Americans obsessed with comics, games, and pop culture). In a The New York Times article, Alec Nevala-Lee examines how Astounding Science Fiction magazine influenced how we see the future.

Scott Jaschik ponders the challenges for small literary journals, while Writer Beware‘s Victoria Strauss reports that Harper’s Bazaar removed predatory rights language for its 2019 short story competition.

In The Irish Times, Deirdre Falvey reports that Sally Rooney has won the Costa novel award, the youngest recipient ever.


The Author Chronicles, J. Thomas Ross, person writing

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Advice from other authors is always worth considering. Sue Coletta shares comments from all The Kill Zone bloggers on writing a series, and Kathryn Craft considers seeking truth in fiction, while Literary Hub‘s Emily Temple brings us writing advice from Japanese novelist Haruki Murakami, who recently celebrated his 70th birthday.

Ready to write? Joel Friedlander provides flex your creativity exercises, and Lisa Tener digs into why you haven’t written your book yet and supplies 5 tips to start writing and finish.

For those having trouble progressing in their manuscripts, Katie Davis asserts that procrastination is a self-perpetuating cycle and offers 9 tips for getting unstuck, while Kathryn Magendie distracts herself from her novel writing by contemplating mathematical equations of perfection in nature, and Kelly deVos focuses on dealing with a writer’s FOMO (fear of missing out).

With tips for those writing memoirs, Jane Binns lays out 5 steps to overcoming fears of writing about the deeply personal in your memoir, and Sarah Chauncey addresses the tricky issue of POV in memoir.

For crime and mystery writers, Bryan Gruley takes a look at how to write small town crime fiction, and Elaine Viets advises writers to know what subgenre you’re writing.

Writing a fantasy or historical novel? Juliet Marillier mulls whether fudging history is ever okay, and Rayne Hall offers four tips for writing about love spells.

Now for information on the basic elements of writing: Paul Buchanan advocates beginning from the middle: how to start your story in media res, and C. S. Lakin reminds us of all-important considerations when crafting a scene, while Janice Hardy shares an easy tip for tightening your novel’s plot and considers how much you need to describe your setting.

Characters are ever-important. Laura Benedict looks into creating characters: you can always start with the car, and Jami Gold suggests making characters unique with layering, while Kristin Lamb says secret-keepers generate page-turning, nerve-shredding tension.

For authors developing their protagonists, Stavros Halvatzis examines the flawed protagonist, and Sacha Black goes over 4 mistakes to avoid when creating your protagonist and delves into creating the perfect hero lens.

Giacomo Giammatteo gives his take on using dialogue tags and Janice Hardy talks about cleaning up your dialogue tags, while James Scott Bell focuses on rendering dialects and accents in dialogue.

Roz Morris asks “Are you bored?” and shares the one writing rule you really need.

When it’s time for revision, we need to pay attention to grammar and punctuation. Zoe M. McCarthy gives us some help in part 2 of her words misused series: incorrect construction of common phrases, but if you’re stressing too much about grammar, Oscar Tay asserts that “whom” is disappearing and everyone needs to chill about it.

When you’re finished making all the revisions you can and it’s time to let other eyes examine your manuscript, Jim Dempsey explains the different types of editing.

For writers who’ve published, Gary McPherson considers how to keep your book relevant after its release, and Janet Reid gives the scoop on the dreaded sophomore novel.


The Author Chronicles, J. Thomas Ross, person reading business section

Photo by Adeolu Eletu on Unsplash



For those sending out query letters to agents, Janet Reid explains where the personal connection information belongs in your query.

Brad Frazer tackles the question “what is public domain” (and tells us why 2019 is such a big year).

On the subject of author financial matters, Carrie V. Mullins asserts that the disastrous decline in author incomes isn’t just Amazon’s fault, and Maggie Lynch details why indie authors need literary executors and how to appoint one.

Most authors would prefer to spend their time writing rather than marketing, but to sell books, we all need to dedicate time to marketing. Penny Sansevieri asks: exactly when is the best time to begin your book marketing? If you’re wondering about the most effective marketing strategy, in this podcast, Chris Syme explains why word of mouth marketing will sell more books.

Angela Ackerman recommends building a street team to help with your book launch, and Merry Jones looks at book marketing for authors—wearing just the right hat.

Speaking to groups can be an effective marketing tool, but many authors dread public speaking. Nate Hoffelder shares 4 tips for authors in public: how to overcome your fear of being seen.

With social media pointers, Judith Briles discusses how to make the most of your email signature, and Julie Glover gives the scoop on Facebook groups.

For authors with blogs, Cristian Mihai discusses how to write a fantastic “how to” blog post and cautions against 8 blogging mistakes that waste your readers’ time. Since there’s always room for improvement, Jordan Peters identifies 50 ways to become a better blogger.

SCBWI’s Lee Wind shares hashtags for illustrators. For self-publishers who want to create their own book covers, Ray Flynt suggests three things to consider when designing your novel’s cover.

Looking for a writing-related job? Joel Friedlander and Sharon Goldinger are looking for a writer/editorial assistant.


The Author Chronicles, J. Thomas Ross, colorful paint brushes

Photo by RhondaK Native Florida Folk Artist on Unsplash



A number of writers share their homes with cats, so it’s no surprise that cats would find homes in bookstores. Jo Lou shows us the 20 most Instagrammable bookstore cats.

Looking for a unique read? Electric Literature reports that you can buy a limited-edition, heat-sensitive copy of Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 for only $451.

Barry Schwabsky analyzes the last great literary painter, Eugène Delacroix.

Did you know the Harlem Renaissance wasn’t limited to Harlem? The Philadelphia Inquirer‘s Valerie Russ asks: where’s the historical marker for influential Harlem Renaissance figure Jessie Redmon Fauset? Apparently nobody in Philadelphia knows.


The Author Chronicles, J. Thomas Ross, cat on wood shelf

Photo by Thiago Victal on Unsplash

That wraps up this week’s Top Picks Thursday. Join us next week for another roundup of writerly links!


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