Posted by: J. Thomas Ross | October 31, 2019

Top Picks Thursday! For Writers & Readers 10-31-2019

The Author Chronicles, J. Thomas Ross, fall morning, trees and silo


Welcome to this week’s Top Picks Thursday! Thanks for joining us this final day of October. We wish you a scary-good Halloween with lots of treats and no tricks.

If you’re celebrating the holiday in costume, Electric Literature helps you plan your literary Halloween costume with this handy chart.

National Novel Writing Month starts tomorrow. For those planning to participate, Grant Faulkner looks at expectation versus reality: 10 things you should know about NaNoWriMo.

If you think libraries are passé, Eric Klinenberg tells us that libraries are even more important to contemporary community than we thought and should be funded accordingly. As an example of libraries changing with the times, Natalie Baur writes about the Instagram-based library created by Mexican artist Pedro Reyes, while Andrew Albanese reports that Congress is looking into anticompetitive behavior in the digital library market.

With more on libraries, New York Public Library reveals the strangest questions ever asked of New York City librarians, and Jo Lou thinks librarians are secretly the funnest people alive.

If you like to read tips form well-known writers, Robert Lee Brewer shares 12 Sylvia Plath quotes for writers and about writing, and Steve Laube presents C. S. Lewis on writing.

Kudos: Emily Temple brings us the winners of this year’s $50,000 Kirkus Prize, and Chicago Tribune‘s Christopher Borrelli announces that Henry Louis Gates Jr. has been awarded its Tribune Literary Award.

Maciej Bankowski reports that Nobel Prize winner Olga Tokarczuk will open a foundation for literature, and CBC Books says that Margaret Atwood is donating her Book Prize winnings to Indspire to support the education of indigenous students.


The Author Chronicles, J. Thomas Ross, fall morning, trees and corn




Creativity is the starting point of all the arts. Need to spark yours? ProWritingAid suggests using two words to ignite your creativity, while Kathryn Craft recommends protecting your creative life through ghostbusting.

Rowan Williams examines why poetry matters.

Many things can interfere with writing. Philip Kenney presents 4 practices for overcoming self-doubt, and Erika Liodice advocates overcoming fear to unbox your best writing. In addition, Rebecca E. Neely looks at why you’re procrastinating at writing and how to stop, and Rochelle Melander delves into how to ditch distraction and focus.

James Scott Bell gives us a simple trick to increase productivity, and Michael Gallant asserts that nothing you experience is wasted if you put it to use.

RJ Clayton ponders the benefits of joining an association for writers, while Lisa Tener debates the joys and perils of writing longhand.

Putting ideas together for a story? Mary Carroll Moore discusses hooks and other excellent ways to start your story, Lincoln Michel writes about the many different engines that power a short story, and Janice Hardy reveals two tips that make plotting your novel way easier.

E. L. Skip Knox expands on his worldbuilding series with history for fantasy writers; journeymen.

Bella Rose Pope takes a look at how to show not tell in writing, while Harrison Demchick explores how to exploit uncommon points of view in your novel.

For those who want to keep their readers turning pages, Beth van der Pol goes into how to stop your novel from sagging, Janice Hardy mentions how to hook your reader in every scene, and Karen S. Wiesner delves into writing tension and twists.

K. M. Weiland gives us a writer’s guide to understanding people, and Jami Gold studies romance beats vs. 12 stages of intimacy.

With tips on characterization, Janice Hardy sets out five ways to create likable characters, Stavros Halvatzis explores the foibles kinks and rituals of eccentric characters, Bonnie Randall looks at four breaches that elicit fear in your characters, and Jami Gold asks how our protagonist is challenged to improve and provides a helpful worksheet.

And when you are writing about those characters, Margie Lawson asserts fresh writing sells: make hugs carry power.

Sandra Beckwith clarifies the terms beta readers and launch team members.

If your draft is ready for editing, Michael Aragon offers an easy step-by-step guide to editing your book, and Florence Osmond examines working with those dreaded editors.

Brian Rowe considers why you need to be careful about prologues in your writing, and Linda Lane looks at taming the fearsome apostrophe.

Cristian Mihai lists 30 tips for the modern writer, Ofer Tirosh sets out 12 book translation tips for authors, Kimberly Sullivan says that in writing, as in life, we should learn from our mistakes, and Russell Phillips and Andrew Knighton talk about how to collaborate across genres.


The Author Chronicles, J. Thomas Ross, hawk, hawk taking off from top of silo




For those who are shopping a book, Eldred Bird details creating a multi-use logline, while Nathan Bransford looks at when to re-query an agency.

Published writers might be interested in Ruth Harris’ advice on how to rejuvenate your backlist.

Frances Caballo takes a look at how to handle your social media during a crisis.

Cristian Mihai asks what sets you apart as a blogger?


The Author Chronicles, J. Thomas Ross, fall, pumpkins and mums




Kristopher Jansma states that Shirley Jackson’s unfinished novel revealed the truth about her marriage, while Alison Flood writes about Stuart Kells’ long search for Shakespeare’s books and original manuscripts.

David L. Ulin considers the countercultural influence of Charles M. Schulz’s Peanuts., while Cara Hoffman discusses the darkness, strangeness, and unbridled joy of children’s books.

Cristina Bacchilega looks at how mermaid stories illustrate complex truths about being human.

Christopher Benfey tells us that Herman Melville enjoyed bowling and was pretty good at it.

Michael Gonzales relates the strange story of Richard Wright’s lost crime novel.

Bob Shaffer reveals how Jack Kerouac’s hometown honored him, 50 years after his death.

Mark Chandler reports that Idris Elba’s production company has sponsored an eight-part literary podcast highlighting books by British writers of color.


The Author Chronicles, J. Thomas Ross, fall corn harvest


That’s all for this week’s Top Picks Thursday. Stop by next week for another collection of writerly links.


The Author Chronicles, J. Thomas Ross, fall, sunset clouds



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