Posted by: J. Thomas Ross | September 19, 2019

Top Picks Thursday! For Writers & Readers 09-19-2019


The Author Chronicles, J. Thomas Ross, Top Picks Thursday, Island Beach State Park, view of the crowded beach

Island Beach State Park, New Jersey


Welcome to the last Top Picks Thursday of summer. In honor of the end of season, I’m sharing some reminders-of-summer photos today. It’s sad to see the warm weather go, but the cooler days will be welcome.

Ahoy, me hearties! Today is National Talk Like a Pirate Day, so we’re singing “Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum.” Who’s joining us?

If you’re a Tolkien fan, remember that Sunday is Hobbit Day. If you’re not a fan and you see anyone in costume, you’ll know why.

Libraries and writers go hand in hand. This week we found a number of writers sharing information about libraries. Micah Moore writes that the Dallas Public Library is ready to open a podcasting studio, sewing rooms, and other maker spaces, Karl Bode reports that librarians and archivists are scanning and uploading books that are secretly in the public domain, and Heather Schwedel explains why angry librarians are going to war with publishers over e-books.

Libraries don’t have to be big to have influence. Aušrys Uptas tells us about the woman who turned the stump of a dead 110-year-old tree into a magical Little Public Library for her Idaho neighborhood.

If you need an excuse to do more reading, Maggie Seaver tells us that people who read before bed not only sleep better, but eat more healthily and make more money, and Tracy Hecht describes how books can help kids navigate complex times.

Caits Meissner reveals what the incarcerated writer wants the literary community to understand.

Writer’s Digest‘s Robert Lee Brewer shares 14 William Faulkner quotes for writers and about writing and 10 Robert Jordan quotes for writers and about writing.

Michael Schulman takes a look at superfans: is fandom becoming as toxic as politics?


The Author Chronicles, J. Thomas Ross, Top Picks Thursday, Island Beach State Park, seagull landing on the beach

Seagull landing




Monica Duncan covers the art of efficient writing, while Tina Jordan gives us habits of highly effective writers. If one of your habits is carrying a notebook everywhere you go, Laurence MacNaughton explains why writers should never carry a notebook.

If you’re puzzled about author voice, Mary Anna Evans discusses how to find your author voice.

A number of writers share tips about characterization. Beth van der Pol shows us how to create a character from scratch and how to create a complex character from a single photo, while Nathan Bransford lays out 6 ways to build intimacy between characters.

Fae Rowen enumerates ten more f-words for writers and their characters, Jami Gold takes a look at avoiding change: what’s stopping our characters, and TS Books gives us 40 ways to exploit facial expressions in writing.

For those doing worldbuilding, E. L. Skip Knox adds shoemakers to his history for fantasy writers series.

Struggling with your book’s scenes? Linda Lane reminds us that touches of humor relieve stress in tense scenes, and Janice Hardy suggests adding more internalization to your scenes.

Kris Kennedy advises writers to avoid info dumping backstory by making it essential, while Kathryn Craft delves into “showing” through exposition.

Janice Hardy has advice for writers thinking about writing in a new genre. If that genre is mystery, Elaine Viets lists 8 ways to fix a stalled mystery (her suggestions can be helpful for other genres too).

Premise and theme are vital components to a story. Vaughn Roycroft suggests using theme to leverage revision., and Stavros Halvatzis clarifies the moral premise and how to write it.

If you belong to a critique group or are a beta reader, P. J. Parrish contemplates the fine art of giving out criticism, and Jim Dempsey looks into how to give useful criticism.


The Author Chronicles, J. Thomas Ross, Top Picks Thursday, Island Beach State Park, mother feeding young seagull

The gull on the right stood on the beach for several minutes squawking, and I wondered what was bothering her until the young one—as big as its parent—ran up to beg for food.




For writers pursuing the traditonal publishing path, Janet Reid responds to an author wondering if the submitted manuscript ended up in the agent’s spam folder, and Rachel Pieh Jones tells us what happened after she lost her agent—twice.

R.J. Crayton mentions 10 publishing terms every new author should know, Susan DeFreitas identifies 3 critical things you won’t learn in an MFA program, and Nathan Bransford gives the scoop on hybrid publishing.

Chris Syme offers the five myths of crisis management for authors.

In Writer Beware, Victoria Strauss reveals that authors’ concern grows over late royalty payments at Dreamspinner Press.

Self-publishing provides an alternative to the traditional path, but it’s not for everyone. Ray Flynt sets out some questions for writers considering going Indie, Tracy Atkins delves into how to make trim-sized PDFs for print on demand publication, and SFWA supplies an overview of the history of self-publishing.

John Doppler has suggestions on how to deal with an unresponsive publishing or self-publishing company.

Do you have a book about to be published? Adam Cushman details the 10 best book trailer types, Judith Briles goes over planning your book launch, and John Gilstrap suggests some swell swag, while Juliet Marillier focuses on publicity and the introvert writer.

Even the best writers get occasional poor reviews. Catharine Riggs explains how to deal with your one-star reviews, and NetGalley provides guidance on coping with critical reviews.

Social media is a key marketing tool. Laura Drake reports social media: you’re doing it wrong, and Sandra Beckwith goes into how to build a killer book publicity media list, while Monojoy Bhattacharjee wonders how it would impact publishers if Facebook ditched the Like count.

Blogging is another marketing tool. Cristian Mihai reveals the secret traits of successful bloggers, and Anne R. Allen recommends guest blogging to build platform and sell books and shares 5 tips for landing guest blogging spots, while Elizabeth S. Craig shares her thoughts on blogging.

Author websites are also vital. Laksmhi Padmanaban discusses what the ideal author website looks like.

In Publisher’s Weekly, Nicholas Clee reports that the resale of ebooks has been ruled illegal in the UK.


The Author Chronicles, J. Thomas Ross, Top Picks Thursday, goldfinches on the garden fence

Goldfinches on my garden fence in the early evening sun




Mackenzie Dawson tells how books are helping employees bond at a real estate company.

Roy Morris Jr. writes about the US tour that made Gertrude Stein a household name.

Farouk Yousif celebrates Fadhil al-Azzawi, the iconic Iraqi writer who modernized poetic forms.

BBC News reports that the secret diary of “Polish Anne Frank” Renia Spiegel will be published after lying in a bank vault 70 years, while James R. Benn takes a look at what books published during wartime [specifically, World War II] can tell us about ourselves.

To get you in the right frame of mind for October and Halloween, Jonathan Dee delves into why Lafcadio Hearn’s ghost stories still haunt us, and Eleni Theodoropoulos considers how Scooby Doo revived Gothic storytelling for generations of kids.


The Author Chronicles, J. Thomas Ross, Top Picks Thursday, Island Beach State Park, waves breaking on the shore

Breaking waves


That’s it for this week’s Top Picks Thursday. Join us next week to start the new season with another roundup of writerly links!


The Author Chronicles, J. Thomas Ross, Top Picks Thursday, Island Beach State Park, wooden walkway to the beach

Farewell to summer fun!



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