Posted by: J. Thomas Ross | December 12, 2019

Top Picks Thursday! For writers and Readers 12-12-2019


The Author Chronicles, Top Picks Thursday, J. Thomas Ross, fog at dawn, winter dawn

Foggy dawn


Welcome to this week’s Top Picks Thursday! The moon has long inspired artists of all genres, and if the sky is clear where you live, you can see the beautiful full moon tonight. (For those intrigued by numbers and people who enjoy interesting facts: today’s full moon occurred at 12:12 am … on 12/12. Wonder how often that happens!)

The month is almost half over, which means shopping time is slipping away. For those looking for gift ideas for a writer, Kayleigh Brindley suggests gift for writers, Jami Gold shares the 2019 edition of her ultimate gift guide for writers, and Brian Henry offers seventy-seven great gifts for writers.

Winter is a good time for reading. James Scott Bell contemplates curling up with a good book.

With the end of the year upon us, Emily Temple gives us the Literary Hub staff’s 50 favorite books of 2019 and Literary Hub‘s list of the 78 best book covers of 2019.

We don’t find this surprising: Eleanor Busby reports that children who own books are six times more likely to read above their expected level.

In Memoriam: legendary Star Trek writer/producer D. C. Fontana, one of the first women to write TV screenplays other than soap operas and comedies, dies at age 80 [reported by Chris Arrant for];  Robert Massie, biographer who popularized Russian history, dies at age 90 [reported by Hillel Italie in the Los Angeles Times]; and prolific children’s author Andrew Clements dies at age 70 [reported by Shannon Maughan in Publishers Weekly].


The Author Chronicles, Top Picks Thursday, J. Thomas Ross, snow-covered trees, snowy dawn

A kiss of snow at dawn




In this last month of the year, Roz Morris suggests 5 ways to use the holidays to keep the new writing habits you developed during NaNoWriMo and not revise too early, and Fae Rowen shares her best writing advice for the next decade.

James Scott Bell ponders whether it’s necessary to write every day, Natalie Campbell shares 3 things you need to become an author (plus a 4th to keep in the game), and for established writers hitting a snag, Donald Maass suggests reinventing your fiction.

Sometimes writers and other artists need a boost to their creativity. Melissa Donovan advises consuming art to fuel your writing, and Cathy Yardley advocates taking time to play.

Writers find inspiration in many places. Natalie Jenner tells us what running a bookshop taught her about writing, while Joanna Penn reveals what writers can learn from bodybuilders.

Are you a plotter a pantser? Ray Rhamey celebrates the fun of pantsing.

Self-knowledge can help a writer improve craft and process. Helen Betya Rubinstein considers what your draft (and its problems) says about you, while Jami Gold ponders what our reading choices tell us about our writing.

Angela Ackerman concentrates on mastering show, don’t tell, while Lori Freeland brings us the 3 most misunderstood words in a writer’s vocabulary: show, don’t tell.

Gabriel Valjean takes a look at five writing crimes and how to get away with them.

For those writing fantasy, B. K. Bass explores the origins of the mercenary.

Elizabeth S. Craig focuses on the usefulness of a series bible.

Nathan Bransford gives us the 8 essential elements of a story, while Janice Hardy explores creating plot twists, and Stavros Halvatzis addresses how to merge story strands.

Susan Spann goes over using foils in fiction, and PJ Parrish takes a look at what makes the perfect ending.

Tracy R. Atkins highlights special formatting for nonfiction books in Microsoft Word, and Gwen Hernandez walks us through creating custom Scrivener templates.

Janet Reid contends that using sensitivity readers is not just about making sure you don’t offend readers but also about finding the blind spots your own worldview can bring to your writing.

Once you’ve finished that first draft, it’s time for revision and editing. Spencer Ellsworth advocates a different approach: outlines are for revision, and Martin Wiles urges writers not to ditch the comma, while Ali Luke shares five signs that you might be over-editing.


The Author Chronicles, Top Picks Thursday, J. Thomas Ross, unusual cloud formations





In publishing news, Porter Anderson reports that US publishers and the Copyright Alliance back a congressional letter on copyright restatement.

Attention science fiction and fantasy authors: Erica Verillo tells us that DAW Books is opening submissions to authors from underrepresented or marginalized communities who have no agents.

Are you looking for an agent? Lisa Lowe Stauffer delves into the agent-search game, and SCBWI’s Lee Wind offers a resource for finding literary agents of color. To help you get that agent, Dawn Field looks at the value of a great book synopsis.

For a bit of fun, Electric Literature help us write the perfect personal essay pitch with their handy chart.

Steven Spatz points out five self-publishing mistakes you need to avoid, Karen Williams offers five tips for creating audiobooks, and Michele DeFilippo takes a look at the best fonts for books.

Marketing your book? Sandra Beckwith gives the scoop on why you must have a press release that announces your book, and Nate Hoffelder stresses cleaning up your newsletter’s subscriber’s list.

For those who have blogs, Adam Connell sets out 17 high impact tasks to prepare your blog for the new year, and Cristian Mihai gives tips on how to beat blogging burnout and lists 90 super easy tips that will turn even a novice blogger into an expert.

For writers who dreads online marketing, Kristen Lamb wonders if it’s possible to sell books off-line.

Let’s face it—we all make mistakes. In a social media world where the past never dies, Janet Reid considers the case of Linda Fairstein and ponders the ethical question of how long people’s mistakes should be against them.


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

Dramatic sunset clouds




Fifty years after the founding of New York’s Greenwich Village Historic District, Andrew Berman shares 31 literary icons who lived in Greenwich Village.

Libraries in the news: Greta Rainbow writes about the Brooklyn Public Library’s telling the story of Zimbabwe’s subversive creatives; and the Philadelphia Inquirer‘s Stephan Salisbury tells us that children’s author Ashley Bryan, who led the way in featuring people of color in children’s books, has gifted University of Pennsylvania with a massive collection of drawings, journals, sketchbooks, and much more.

The Baltimore Sun‘s Chris Kaltenbach reports that Baltimore’s Poe House is officially Maryland’s first “Literary Landmark.”

On Literary Hub, Umberto Eco considers the elusive concept of ugliness.

Kevin Young examines Ralph Ellison’s slow-burning art.

Holly Quinn says the Delaware Art Museum is safeguarding the state’s only remaining indie bookstore.

In Glamour, Samantha Leach wonders why the billion-dollar romance genre is still so overlooked.

Erika Mailman tells the true tales of Nick Petrulakis, a literary bartender.

Amalia Beckner reveals why she started a book club in the Harris County Jail.


The Author Chronicles, Top Picks Thursday, J. Thomas Ross, late fall, meandering stream

Meandering stream on a cloudy day


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, sunset clouds



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