Posted by: J. Thomas Ross | March 21, 2019

Top Picks Thursday! For Writers & Readers 03-21-2019


The Author Chronicles, J. Thomas Ross, yellow crocuses

Yellow crocuses


Welcome to the first Top Picks Thursday of spring! Our crocuses are finally blooming. Let’s hope the snowy, wintery weather is behind us.

In additon to being the first full day of spring, today is National Common Courtesy Day, a gentle reminder to us all to make courtesy a good deal more common.

Next Monday, March 25th, is National Tolkien Reading Day, so dust off and reread your old copy of The Hobbit—or cheat and binge on one (or all ) of the movies this weekend.

Most writers do not make their living as authors, but a few make a very good living. Emily Temple reveals, year by year, the 25 authors who’ve made the most money in the last decade.

Coming up in April is National Poetry Month. Roz Morris interviews Joe Nutt about how useful poetry is in a prose world.

Libraries always seem to be struggling for funds, but now Susie Dumond reports that President Trump’s 2020 budget proposal threatens to defund libraries. We readers and writers need to work to make sure that doesn’t happen.

Kudos to: Bridge to Terabithia author Katherine Patterson, who won the E. B. White Awardfor literature (reported by Brent Hallenbeck in the Burlington Free Press); to the eight winners of the 2019 Windham-Campbell prizes (reported by Corinne Segal for Literary Hub); and to Arte Público Press, which has been honored by the National Book critics Circle with the Ivan Sandrof Lifetime Achievement Award for its significant contributions to book culture (reported by Rigoberto González for NBC News).

In memoriam: Craig Morgan Teicher reports on the death of former U.S. Poet Laureate W. S. Merwin at age 91.


The Author Chronicles, J. Thomas Ross, leafless trees reflected in vernal pond

Vernal pond



For writers seeking to improve their craft and professionalism, Diana Hurwitz lists writing workshops from April to June 2019. Lisa Cooper Ellison goes into schmoozing for introverts: how to network like a pro.

Mason Curry shares the daily writing routines of famous women authors. Part of that writing routine might include a specific place to write. Susan Haught considers setting up a writing space, while Daphne Gray-Grant asks: is it worth having a tidy place to write?

Sue Coletta lays out 7 hard truths about working as a professional writer, while Bill Ferris stresses 12 things you have to give up to be a successful writer.

Roz Morris highlights 7 ways to write a novel with confidence, while Jim Dempsey focuses on how to find inspiration, and Kathryn Craft ponders when to let go of your original inspiration. In addition, Jordan Peters asks: are you a hoarder (of ideas)?

Check out these storytelling tips from the writer of Blade Runner, Hampton Fancher.

Novelists, have you ever thought about writing a short story? Sarah Dahl considers the benefits of writing short stories. If you do decide to try your hand at short stories or a new genre, Jami Gold addresses how to set goals when trying something new.

David Corbett clarifies the differences between a crime novel, mystery novel, and thriller novel, while Janice Hardy suggests we all need a little mystery in our lives.

Do you know your story’s theme? Stavros Halvatzis examines theme as the controlling idea, and K. M. Weiland expounds on how to find your thematic principle.

If you’re working on your story’s plot, John Gilstrap outlines scene construction, and Jami Gold examines story threads: fixing rips in our story.

A number of bloggers offer tips for characterization: Laurence MacNaughton reveals the secret to creating characters in 60 seconds; Juliet Marillier takes a look at naming characters in historical fantasy; Anne R. Allen spells out why Mary Sues will kill your story; Melissa Donovan provides writing tips for creating a complex villain; and Victoria Mixon writes about layering character for believable fiction.

With more on layering, Vaughn Roycroft discusses layers of antagonism and why you should embrace them.

Grammar, grammar, grammar—it’s important! James Scott Bell concludes: get grammatical or get lost. Providing some tips, September C. Fawkes explains how to punctuate dialogue, while two bloggers address modifiers: Zoe M. McCarthy avers that misplaced modifiers confuse your readers, and Ann Parker cautions writers about misplaced modifiers.

Finished your book? John Doppler goes into how to find the perfect title.

Maryann Miller advises don’t let plagiarism kill your career.


The Author Chronicles, J. Thomas Ross, man holding business section of newspaper

Photo by Adeolu Eletu on Unsplash




For those pursuing traditional publishing, Becky Tuch give 8 reasons your submission strategy sucks and what you can do about it, Janet Reid makes sense of parsing subjective vs. objective assessment from agents, and agent Rachelle Gardner insists there is no time for despair.

Lee Foster examines changes in book publishing, and Steve Laube analyzes who gets paid in publishing.

Five seems to be a special number this week. Carol Tice lists 5 ways to double your freelance writing income, Jules Horne offers 5 tips for better audiobook narration and performance., and Reedsy sets out 5 tips for better book cover typography.

For those selling on Amazon, Melissa Bowersock delves into tracking Kindle sales with the Book Report app, and Dave Chesson takes a look at changes to Amazon advertising.

Marketing is vital. Sandra Beckwith debunks 3 book marketing myths.

If you’re interesting in trying something different, Paul Sating explains how to grow your readership through podcasting.

With tips for bloggers, Bryn Donovan gives 25 ideas for your author blog, Dana Fiddler tells us how to format your blog posts to keep your readers engaged., and Cristian Mihai advises writers to keep your blog content fresh and asks: are you sabotaging your blog?

Frances Caballo looks into Instagram for authors: how to use hashtags.


The Author Chronicles, J. Thomas Ross, robin

Spring robin



Andrea Smith reports that the house in England that inspired Wuthering Heights is for sale.

Rohini Chaki reveals that Alexander Dumas (author of classics like The Three Musketeers and The Count of Monte Cristo) thought his magnum opus was a massive cookbook, while Emily Temple delves into Honoré de Balzac’s legendary love affair with his anonymous critic.

Alison Flood tells us that Joni Mitchell’s hand-drawn book written for friends in 1971 is to be published.

Roy Christopher says literary allusion runs deep through the history of hip-hop.

Even great writers can get bad reviews: Tina Jordan shares scathing reviews of classic books from the NY Times’s archives.


The Author Chronicles, J. Thomas Ross, late afternoon sun, clouds

Late afternoon sun


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


The Author Chronicles, J. Thomas Ross, full moon, night clouds

The last winter full moon



  1. Nice write up.

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