Posted by: J. Thomas Ross | June 27, 2019

Top Picks Thursday! For Writers & Readers 06-27-2019

Misty sunrise


Welcome to the last Top Picks Thursday of June! Hope you’re enjoying the summer season.

Summer is set to hit those of us in the East with our first heat wave, and that makes us dream of relaxing on the beach. If you’re looking for some short books for vacation reading, Frances Yackel suggests 11 short novels from around the world that you can read in one sitting.

On the international scene, Nnamdi Ehirim reveals how a new generation of Nigerian writers is salvaging tradition from colonial erasure, and Don Kulick, reflecting on why languages die, looks at the slow demise of Tayap in Papua New Guinea.

Have authors been affected by the closing of bookstores? Kristen Lamb addresses the death of ‘ye olden bookstores’ and the author identity crisis.

For those who enjoy astrology, Jeanna Kadlec provides summer 2019 horoscopes for writers.

Kudos to: Joy Harjo, who has become the first Native American U.S. Poet Laureate (reported by Lynn Neary and Patrick Jarenwattananon for NPR).

In memoriam: best-selling author of romance novels Judith Krantz dies at age 91 (reported by Michael Rothman for GMA).


The Author Chronicles, J. Thomas Ross, eggs in Jim Leedom's purple marting house

Purple martin eggs



Writing is a creative endeavor. Julie Duffy assures us that although creation is messy, that’s okay.

Are you a budding novelist? Ivana Sanders sets out 5 steps to starting your novel, and Janice Hardy contributes 4 steps to establish the beginning of your novel, while Karen Dukess claims you need seven friends if you’re writing a novel.

If you are writing in a particular genre, Jami Gold discusses conflicts and goals in romance, and John Gilstrap shares what to wear to a gunfight. For those considering nonfiction, Steven Spatz lays out four questions to ask yourself if you’re writing a business or self-help book.

Offering pointers on creating characters, Sonja Yoerg explores writing characters with personality, while Carol Despeaux Fawcett concentrates on revealing your characters through their circle of friends, and Mark Alpert details how to create a good leader.

For those working on worldbuilding, Lisa Hall-Wilson delves into making your setting real with strategic description.

Dialogue can have many uses: Lisa Lowe Stauffer focuses on using objects to inject character and world-building into dialogue, and K. M. Weiland identifies 4 ways to write gripping internal narrative.

Tension is a way to keep readers engaged. Chris Winkle looks at goal-oriented storytelling: creating tension, and H. R. D’Costa identifies 5 ways to ensure readers don’t abandon your book, while Margie Lawson writes about the power of silence on the page.

If you’re working on your plot, Janice Hardy clarifies what “setup” in a novel actually means, and James Scott Bell addresses writing in medias res.

Terry Odell shares what happens when she reaches the end of her manuscript.

When you’re taking a look at your finished manuscript, Sin Ribbon lists 5 ways to avoid plot holes in your novel. If you’re not sure you have plot holes, Roz Morris points out how to see the holes in your story’s ending.

Ashlee Willis explains how she self-edits her books.

Since the writing process can have stressful moments, Jana Oliver writes about stress and the writer.


The Author Chronicles, J. Thomas Ross, butterfly on wildflowers



If you are seeking traditional publication, agent Janet Reid gives her views on when writers think agents hate certain punctuation marks and whether using grammar software helps or hurts.

Do you write short stories? Yu-Han Chao tells us how she found a publisher for her short story collection, and Janet Reid clarifies how to write a query letter for a short story collection.

Steve Laube answers the question: what are average book sales?

Victoria Strauss warns writers about tricks used by predatory companies to hijack your publishing search.

Nathan Bransford considers whether authors should have more control over their book covers.

David Kudler offers self-publishers 3 dos for getting reviews (and 4 dont’s).

For those looking for social media pointers, Scott La Counte shares Facebook tips for Indie authors (which traditionally published authors may also find useful).

Stymied about creating a website? Rachel McCollin shows us how to get started with a WordPress author website.

For bloggers: Cristian Mihai gives five super easy ways to improve your blog posts, and Anne R. Allen shares ten lessons from ten years of blogging.

Janet Reid focuses on what you need to reboot a career.


The Author Chronicles, J. Thomas Ross, clouds

Summer clouds



Emily Temple shares rejection letters sent to famous authors.

As she relates the unsung Chinese and Korean history of movable type, M. Sophia Newman reveals that Gutenberg wasn’t actually the first inventor of the printing press.

Tim Mason writes about the real-life detectives who inspired Charles Dickens and sometimes let him accompany their patrols.

Peter Schjeldahl suggests how to celebrate Walt Whitman’s two hundredth birthday.

Andrew Feldman investigates what Ernest Hemingway was doing in Cuba during World War II.

Emily Temple talks about the grand cultural influences of Octavia Butler.

Danielle A. Jackson considers why we’re still looking for the real Lorraine Hansberry.


The Author Chronicles, J. Thomas Ross,sunset

Sunset clouds


That’s all for this week’s Top Picks Thursday. Have a great reading and writing week, and we’ll see you next month on the Fourth of July!




  1. Hi J. Thomas,

    Thanks so much for including my post on story stakes as one of your Thursday top picks—and for taking the time to curate all these wonderful writing articles.

    PS: I took a peek at your website. Love the stakes in your sci-fi Vesta novel. Sounds like a fun read!


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