Posted by: J. Thomas Ross | June 25, 2020

Top Picks Thursday! For Writers & Readers 06-25-2020


The Author Chronicles, Top Picks Thursday, J. Thomas Ross, catmint



Welcome to the last Top Picks Thursday of June! Summer arrived here with a surge of heat and humidity. Hope you’re able to get out and enjoy these beautiful days. We don’t want any of you to get sick, though, so please be cautious, wear masks, and maintain social distance.

For those yearning to find books for summer reading in the library, Thomas Wilburn checks out how libraries are dealing with new demand for books and services during the pandemic.

Since children haven’t been able to attend school during this pandemic, many people have been reading stories aloud online; Tomas A. Lipinski investigates whether online storytimes violate copyright laws.

Reading is important for children, but Shelley Blanton-Stroud also asserts that children need to write.

Porter Anderson reports on the Global Association of Literary Festivals’ first online webinar.

Kudos to: AudioFile’s five new Golden Voice Lifetime Achievement Award winners — Julia Whelan, Ramón de Ocampo, JD Jackson, Arthur Morey, and Emily Woo Zeller [reported by Literary Hub‘s Book Marks].

In memoriam: prizewinning biographer Robert Richardson dies at age 86 [from the Philadelphia Inquirer, reported by Harrison Smith], and bestselling author Carlos Ruiz Zafon dies at age 55 [reported by Reuters].


The Author Chronicles, Top Picks Thursday, J. Thomas Ross, chipmunk, buttercup




So many stressful events have happened in the past few months that many are having difficulty writing. Bonnie Randall makes sense of why you can’t concentrate right now, Sue Coletta considers pantsing through the pandemic, Nancy Star offers tips and tricks for writing through tough times, and Kathleen McCleary suggests doing something different (like poetry) when all else fails. In addition, Bill Ferris gives parents the hack’s guide to writing while the kids are at home.

Florence Osmund advises authors to write/right for the market, and Lucy V. Hay goes into how to avoid a half-baked idea.

If you’re working on the opening scene of your book, Katharine Grubb lays out eight awful beginnings you want to avoid.

For those developing their stories, David Bell gives us 5 tips for navigating a successful novel outline, Lori Freeland stresses telling your story forward, and Janice Hardy lists 5 ways to add internal conflict to your scenes.

Character complexity adds to a story. Kristen Lamb takes a look at understanding and harnessing the character’s blind spot, and Nathan Bransford explains that the climax should resolve your character’s desires.

At some point in your story, you may have to deal with a conversation among a group of characters. Dave King addresses crowd control: how to vary attribution in dialogue among a group.

When that draft is finished and it’s time for revision, Stavros Halvatzis recommends striking superfluous words from sentences, Rochelle Melander talks about revising your book for word choice, and Writer’s Digest‘s Robert Lee Brewer clarifies when to use systemic vs. systematic vs. institutional.

Having other eyes read your finished manuscript is vital, but Dario Ciriello suggests picking your beta readers carefully: harsh does not equal honest.


The Author Chronicles, Top Picks Thursday, J. Thomas Ross, grain field and trees




For authors following the traditional path to publication, Janet Reid answers the question: when you totally botch your query, how do you recover?

Tasha Seegmiller discusses the fairy tale vs the reality of publication.

Layla Mohamed writes that UK publishing must decolonize, and Sian Cain adds that the Black Writers’ Guild calls for sweeping change in UK publishing.

Porter Anderson reports that Macmillan is making major changes in its management approach to address issues of diversity and inclusion.

Dahlia Adler provides information about editing a YA anthology.

Alexandra Alter takes a balanced look at what Bookshop means to the book industry.

If you’re thinking about self-publishing, the AskALLiTeam presents facts and figures about self publishing, and Michael F. DuBois and Larissa Farrell explore self-publishing a photo book.

Ed Nawotka and Claire Kirch look at how indie publishers are coping with Covid-19, while Mark Coker considers post-pandemic publishing for indie authors.

Anne R. Allen says congratulations on your first bad review! Seriously. All writers get them.

Dave Chesson goes into how to choose the best Kindle keywords for your book and how to create Amazon ads that convert.

Derek Doepker shares 5 reasons to turn your book into an audiobook.

The pandemic has made traditional book events impossible for the present. Ed Cyzewski shares tips for a socially distanced book event.

Author bloggers, Cristian Mihai says if you’re struggling with your blog, this is your wake-up call.


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




Alicia A. Wallace explains why we should have been listening to Octavia Butler this whole time.

Eddie S. Glaude, Jr. looks into the history that James Baldwin wanted America to see.

Janie Chang relates the risky journey that saved one of China’s greatest literary treasures.

Willow Curry reflects on the relationship between art and action.

Lee Randall examines Earl Stanley Gardner’s Perry Mason, who stood up for the little guy.

David Gianatasio tells us Andy Cohen is narrating summer stories from literary authors for Stella Artois.

Pól Ó Conghaile looks at the secret behind Dublin’s storytelling magic.


The Author Chronicles, Top Picks Thursday, J. Thomas Ross, abandoned bird's nest

That’s all for this week’s Top Picks Thursday. Join us next week for a new month and a new roundup of writerly links!


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




  1. Actually, I’m a planner, but thank you for including my guest, Steven Ramirez’s post!


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