Posted by: J. Thomas Ross | August 8, 2019

Top Picks Thursday! For Writers & Readers 08-08-2019


The Author Chronicles, Top Picks Thursday, J. Thomas Ross, building storm clouds

Building storm clouds yesterday, followed by another power outage in our area, making TPT late for the second time in three weeks.


A sunny welcome to this week’s Top Picks Thursday!

Today is National Happiness Happens Day. Here’s hoping a lot of happiness happens for you!

Tomorrow is National Book Lovers Day. If you’ve already worked your way through your summer reading list, Jami Gold proposes finding book recommendations from beyond your usual channels, and Tina Jordan and Ross MacDonald list a true crime book for each of the fifty states.

Are you a fast typist? Have some time to spare? Lyndsie Manusos tells us that the Library of Congress is seeking help transcribing suffragist documents.

Plagiarism affects more than the original author. Jonathan Bailey discusses the two victims of plagiarism.

In Memoriam: Nobel Prize winning author Toni Morrison dies at age 88 [reported by Marina Fang for HuffPost News].


The Author Chronicles, Top Picks Thursday, J. Thomas Ross, sea gull, keep off the dunes sign, shore




Life as a creative person can be difficult. Margaret Olat focuses on how to thrive as a creative in a society that’s always hustling, Cathy Yardley considers addressing anxiety, and Colleen M. Story suggests 5 ways to boost your creativity with color walks.

Lucy Mitchell explains how the act of sharing your not so perfect writing life helps other writers, Liz Astroff wrestles with balancing parenting and writing, and Kristan Hoffman shares 3 lessons about the creative process learned from her toddler.

Robert Lee Brewer shares 14 Shirley Jackson quotes for writers and about writing.

One frequently heard piece of writing advice is to write what you know. Harrison Demchick addresses the misunderstanding of write what you know, and David Tile reveals how to write like an expert—even when you’re not.

Debbie Young suggests finding better ways to measure productivity and finish your book.

Melissa Donovan gives writers 21 ways to improve your writing, while Rachelle Gardner concentrates on that all-important first line.

James Scott Bell takes a look at when writers hit the wall, and Stacey Corrin sets out 10 quick and easy ways to overcome writer’s block.

Anne R. Allen investigates the decline of mainstream fiction and why authors need a genre in today’s fragmented publishing world.

Stavros Halvatzis mulls how to find new story ideas, while Bonnie Randall gives her take on writing emotional truth—what gets us there.

Working on worldbuilding for your novel? PJ Parrish declares we’re lost without a sense of place, and Laurie Schnebly Campbell explores where, when, and why, while Tina Hunter considers habitable planets: exoplanet research for worldbuilding.

Characters are another key story element. David Griffin Brown writes about creating memorable characters, K. M. Weiland looks at the 3 negative character arcs, and Jennifer R. Hubbard goes into when even the author doesn’t know the character is keeping a secret.

Janice Hardy clarifies first vs. third person: choosing the right point of view for your novel, and Peter Gelfan focuses on how to craft engaging dialogue exchanges.

If you struggle with punctuation and grammar, Tobias Carroll tells us how Cecilia Watson learned to stop worrying and love the semicolon, and Robert Lee Brewer clarifies a lot vs. alot vs allot. In addition, Benjamin Dreyer discusses redundant words—like ‘close’ proximity—to delete from your writing.

For writers who want to use a quotation from another author’s work, Cory Doctorow reports that Leonard Richardson’s data-mining reveals that 80% of books published 1924-1963 never had their copyrights renewed and are now in the public domain. (Make sure you check if the work you want to quote is one of those.)

Dawn Field goes into things you might hear from a developmental editor, while Zoe M. McCarthy offers 12 tips to edit a story draft into an enjoyable read.

Polishing your language can bring your story to another level. C. S. Lakin analyzes masterful wordsmithing with metaphor and imagery.


The Author Chronicles, Top Picks Thursday, J. Thomas Ross, butterfly and bee, clover, backyard visitors

Bee and butterfly visiting the backyard clover




For writers seeking agents, Janet Reid speaks about how much agents research potential clients and the value of a writer’s having a Publisher’s Marketplace subscription when querying.

Steve Laube takes a look at book manufacturing—the process of printing.

If you are considering a small publisher for your work, make sure you check out that publisher. Writer Beware’s Victoria Strauss alerts writers to trouble at Dog ear Publishing.

On the publishing scene, Overdrive CEO Steve Potash hits back at Macmillan’s new library lending terms, and Carrie V. Mullins explains what writers need to know about morality clauses. Also, Karen Raugust reports that the toy company Melissa & Doug plans to begin publishing children’s books.

Are you preparing to market your book? Boni Wagner-Stafford says before you market your book, set your objectives, and Brian Jud lays out book marketing strategies for first-time authors.

Penny C. Sansevieri delves into navigating the changing face of book promotion with smart, effective strategies and why ‘free’ is a cornerstone marketing strategy.

If a book trailer is part of your marketing plan, Manon Wogahn gives a step-by-step guide to making a fast and easy book trailer using Canva.

Sandra Beckwith considers whether authors should respond to negative book reviews.

Finally, some social media advice: Steven Spatz recommends sharing your authentic self on social media, Lee Foster proposes that writers embed words in photos for discovery, and Jordan Peters enumerates the seven magic tricks of blogging.


The Author Chronicles, Top Picks Thursday, J. Thomas Ross, native honeysuckle, hummingbird on fence

when I was weeding on a cloudy day this week, I captured a photo of this hummingbird resting on the garden fence in between visits to the honeysuckle flowers.




For those planning some summer fun, Halimah Marcus shares 6 literary party games for your next salon.

Justin Minkel explains why teachers should write.

The Irish Times reports that the new Museum of Literature Ireland will open on Friday, September 20, 2019.

With intriguing news for history buffs, Nicola Holzapfel tells us that historians have a ambitious plan to create a database that would hold all known ancient text fragments in the world in hopes of making it easier for AI to decipher the missing fragments.

Libraries are magical places, especially fictional libraries. Stuart Kells catalogs the top 10 libraries in fiction.

It’s exciting when a new work from a well-known writer is discovered. Brigit Katz at writes that a Steinbeck story about a chef and his cat has been published for the first time.



The Author Chronicles, Top Picks Thursday, J. Thomas Ross, sand dunes, Jersey shore

Jersey shore sand dunes.



A little side story:

If you’re a regular follower of the blog, you know that Kerry Gans usually posts TPT—and a wonderful job she does—and I do the post once a month to give her a break.

Two weeks ago I took my turn for July. On Monday that week I bought ground meat so I could make meatloaf and meat balls to freeze. That night, before the thunderstorm’s downpour even started, our power went out. We got ice for the refrigerator and freezer, but since power was out until late Wednesday (making TPT late the next day), I threw out the ground meat (and a lot of other stuff) to be on the safe side.

This week is my turn for posting TPT In August. Last week I cleaned out the refirgerator and freezer, so I didn’t replace the ground meat until this week—just before the power went out again with high winds an hour before the rain began. This time we waited only an hour before getting ice. Fortunately, the power was only out 8 hours, so I didn’t have to pitch the meat, although TPT is late again.

While it’s probably just coincidence that twice when I was scheduled to do TPT I bought ground meat before a storm during which we lost power, I think I’ll play it safe and NOT purchase ground meat the next time I’m scheduled to do TPT!


That’s it for this week’s Top Picks Thursday. Join us next week for another collection of writerly links!


The Author Chronicles, Top Picks Thursday, J. Thomas Ross, waves at Island Beach State Park, Jersey shore



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