Posted by: J. Thomas Ross | March 19, 2020

Top Picks Thursday! For Writers & Readers 03-19-2020

The Author Chronicles, Top Picks Thursday, J. Thomas Ross, winter tree trunks in early morning sun


Welcome to Top Picks Thursday on this first day of spring! Here’s hoping your weather is nice enough to allow you to take breaks from reading and writing by spending a little time outside … at a proper social distance from others, of course.

The coronavirus pandemic has changed everyone’s lives in the past week. We hope you all are taking the recommended precautions to slow the rapid spread of the disease. Keep in mind that these precautions also will put a damper on the flu, colds, and other illnesses. We are living in a difficult time, but we humans are strong and resilient. We can get through this.

Many writers have shared thoughts about the effect of the virus, more than we can include. Here’s a sampling: Literary Hub editor Jonny Diamond takes a look at the literary community in a time of global pandemic, Janet Reid discusses the impact of COVID-19 on the publishing issue, and Alex Green and Ed Nawotka consider the spreading impact of the coronavirus on the publishing industry. On a more personal level, editor Sara Reggiani talks about life in quarantine in Italy, and Laurie Swift Raisys relates the difficulties facing a Washington bookstore owner because of the coronavirus. Providing insight on the impact on authors, Amy Klein tells us what it’s like to promote a book in the middle of a pandemic.

On the brighter side, SCBWI’s Lee Wind celebrates 28 black children’s book creators.

In Memoriam: Tony Award-winning playwright Mart Crowley dies at age 84 [reported by Harrison Smith in The Philadelphia Inquirer], and Barbara Neely, activist and writer who created Blanche White, dies at age 78 [reported by Sam Roberts in The New York Times].


The Author Chronicles, Top Picks Thursday, J. Thomas Ross, a clump of late winter daffodils




At times, we all feel down in the dumps. James Scott Bell gives us a pep talk: don’t stress over things you can’t control, and Lisa Tener shares tips for clearing the mind of negativity in order to create. Nathan Bransford looks at writing in a time of anxiety and asks what will you write during the pandemic?

Are you finding writing slow going? Elizabeth S. Craig recommends spring cleaning for writers, and Jennifer Shirk advocates writing like a runner, while Angela Ackerman asks: need a creative kick in the pants?

Colleen M. Story focuses on 10 common time management mistakes writers should avoid.

Jim Dempsey ponders writing when you’re not writing., while Carol Despeaux Fawcett shows how to slay writer’s block once and for all.

Nina Amir stresses 7 ways you can write for change, and Olga Mecking offers tips on writing for a global audience.

Rachael Cooper delves into how to write a book for children in the age of technology.

Story structure is important. Mary Kole shares a novel outline template, while Laurence MacNaughton sets out a 6-point story checklist for powerful scenes.

Working on your characters? Kathryn Craft advocates letting your protagonist’s light shine, and E. J. Wenstrom explains how to make unlikeable characters compelling.

Where does your story take place? Jennifer S. Alderson takes a look at researching settings from the comfort of your home., and Emily Golus suggests ways to establish vivid settings without slowing your plot.

Jami Gold asks: what’s the right pace for your story? and how can we ensure our pacing is good? One way, she suggests, is to give every story element a purpose.

If you’re interested in genre fiction, Mark Alpert gives his take on the coronavirus and the crisis novel.

For those editing their stories, Iola Goulton makes sense of using italics in fiction, and Nathan Bransford reassures us: don’t fear repeating pronouns.



The Author Chronicles, Top Picks Thursday, J. Thomas Ross, Canadian geese, geese in the back yard




J. T. Patten advises authors to fake it till you make it: how to sell yourself as a career author when you’re on the road to becoming one, while E. G. Radcliff contemplates why authors use pen names.

If you’re in the process of selling your book, Jessica Faust looks at understanding deal terms: auction, pre-empt, and exclusive.

John Doppler sets out 5 reasons small publishers fail (and how to avoid them).

For those considering self-publishing, Piper Bayard presents Indie Publishing 101 — part 1 and part 2, and Evelyn Maguire contributes 13 authors’ advice on how to self-publish a book.

Looking at more specific areas of self-publishing, David Bergsland shares some free font design resources, Lynn Cantwell considers how to match your cover to your genre, and Nathan Bransford talks about how to choose a book title.

Tracy Atkins reminds us Amazon is a search engine, so make your book searchable.

Marketing tips: Nate Hoffelder lists 13 tips to get the most out of your first book fair, and Keri-Rae Barnum goes into how to run a successful ebook promotion with or without BookBub.

If you’re blogging or thinking about starting a blog, David Hartshorne explores how to choose a domain name for your blog, and Kylie gives us a guide to how to share a blog post 10 different ways.

Janet Reid speaks about when you inherit a novel that an ancestor wrote and never published.



The Author Chronicles, Top Picks Thursday, J. Thomas Ross, purple crocuses




William Shakespeare’s work continues to have relevance in our modern world. James Shapiro talks about Shakespeare and the culture wars: on the movement for color-blind casting, and Ben Cohen looks at how the plague ravaged William Shakespeare’s world and inspired his work, from Romeo and Juliet to Macbeth.

With a look at the enduring work of another author of classics, Hillary Kelly explains why Emma is still Jane Austen’s most pleasurable heroine.

Sara B. Franklin writes about how Judith Jones radically transformed American food writing.

The origin of words is a fascinating subject. Luis Jaramillo ponders the rich wonderful old vocabulary of sailing.

Here’s more evidence (not that any of us writers really need more) of the importance of libraries. Julia Rampen tells us about the mobile library reaching refugees’ hearts and minds in Greece.

We love reading about bookstores. Andrew Belonsky writes about how America’s oldest bookstore has survived across the centuries.

Sam Jones reveals that a unique Pablo Neruda archive will go on sale in Barcelona next week.


The Author Chronicles, Top Picks Thursday, J. Thomas Ross, yellow crocuses


One final thought. We are a community, and as a community we have strength to do what needs to be done. We need to keep in touch with each other and help one another. Remember that local small businesses, including bookstores, will have a hard time during this crisis. We can help these local businesses and our fellow authors by going to their websites and buying online. Also, remember you can avoid grocery store crowds by ordering take-out or delivery from your local restaurants. Together we can triumph.


The Author Chronicles, Top Picks Thursday, J. Thomas Ross, late winter blue irises


That’s all for this week’s Top Picks Thursday. Stay well and visit us again next Thursday for another roundup of writerly links.


The Author Chronicles, Top Picks Thursday, J. Thomas Ross, log with moss and lichen, NC, late winter



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