Posted by: Kerry Gans | January 14, 2021

Top Picks Thursday! For Writers & Readers 01/14/2021

Almost 10 years ago, 5 aspiring writers met at a writing class, and the Author Chronicles was born. One of our number, Gwen Huber, has been fighting cancer off and on for several years now, but the burden has become overwhelming, she is unable to work, and the bills are piling up. We are including her GoFundMe link here, if any of you would like to help her out. Although the original goal was met, her expenses and treatments are ongoing. Thank you for your support of our blog for all these years, and we all hope Gwen can beat this one more time.


Welcome to this week’s Top Picks Thursday! This coming Monday, January 18th, is National Thesaurus Day. I would make a pithy quip, but my brain is frazzled, fried, foggy, and frayed.

This week, bestselling African American novelist Eric Jerome Dickey died at age 59.

Looking for a patron for your writing? SCBWI has 52 awards and grants available—see if any are right for you!

Claudia Rosenbaum reports on the CASE copyright reforms Congress passed last month, and Olivia Rutigliano names 10 classic crime novels that have just entered the public domain.

Katherine Packer explains why James Baldwin should be required reading.

Greed never takes a day off. Victoria Strauss brings us Writer Beware: 2020 in review, while Anne R. Allen warns us of publishing scammers in 2021.


We are living through difficult times. Roz Morris tells us how to write a memoir about difficult times.

Do you ever wonder if your writing is valuable? Ellen Buikema writes about the value of writing young adult literature.

Most of us are well-schooled in traditional Western storytelling structure. AJ Eversole introduces us to the joy of Native storytelling.

Sometimes it is the intangibles that make or break your tale. Ann Harth discusses the vague but vital role of voice in fiction, and Donald Maass balances the real vs. the unreal.

So many craft elements have to be gotten just right for your story to pop. Katharine Grubb shares some must-haves for exciting inciting incidents, Janice Hardy highlights 5 places in your novel that probably aren’t terrible enough, and Stavros Halvatzis examines the role of the anti-hero.

Every writer can improve their writing. Moriah Richard talks about the mistake of oversimplifying your characters, Janice Hardy explains how over-explaining will kill your novel, Robert Lee Brewer points out the error of waiting for inspiration to strike, and Becca Puglisi shows how to introduce unique story elements without confusing readers.

Editing is necessary for our work to reach that professional level. Sandra Wendel reveals the differences between line editing, copy editing, and proofreading; Patti Callahan Henry describes self-editing by ear, and Terry Odell urges playing tricks with editing to make it more palatable.

Writing is a uniquely personal endeavor. Danielle McLaughlin delves into her use of writer’s notebooks in the writing process,  Julie Glover wonders how much of our real life shows up in our fiction?, Jessica Strawser shares 5 ways to have more fun writing, and Colleen M. Story gives us reasons why writers should take more risks this year.


In the publishing world, Jim Millot reports that print book sales rose 8.2% in 2020, while industry stock prices fell 4% in 2020.

Apparently, pandemics encourage reading. Ed Nawotka tells us that Bookshop and Libro, which help independent booksellers sell online, posted strong sales in 2020.

Wondering how you can get published this year? Jane Friedman has her key book publishing paths for 2021-2022. If you are self-publishing, Scott La Counte answers the question: when should I publish my book?

Is freelancing in your game plan for this year? Mandy Ellis provides the definitive guide to setting your freelance writing rates, and Evan Jensen shares 8 expert tips to get clients and write a winning freelance proposal.

There’s lots of fluidity between self-publishing and traditional publishing these days, with authors crossing from one to the other and back again. Rachelle Gardner tackles the question: will an agent be interested in my self-published book? while Janet Reid has a tip you should use in either publishing channel: make sure your bios include where you want your readers to find you.

Being findable is just one part of marketing your work. Sharon Bially reminds us that book marketing is a marathon, not a sprint; Penny Sansevieri tells us how to promote a book in 2021, and has an infographic with 10 smart book promotion services and strategies that work; and Lee Purcell outlines three paths to success in creating an author video.

Much of our marketing and interaction with readers is online. Christina Kaye lays out how to start, build, and grow your email list; Walter Rhein shows how to use Amazon’s embed feature to preview your book anywhere, Beth Whitney lists 5 options for creating your Amazon ad copy, and Matt Moran compares the 11 best web analytics tools to get meaningful website insights.


On the So You Want To Be A Writer podcast, Roz Morris examines if your book should be first person, third person, or even second person.

Sandra Newman and Catherine Nichols’ Lit Century podcast has Benjamin Dreyer discussing Shirley Jackson’s legacy.

On the History of Literature podcast, Jacke Wilson explains how Nathaniel Hawthorne distinguished between ‘novels’ and ‘romances’.

The  First Draft podcast with Mitzi Rapkin  hosts Jamie Harrison on leaving Easter eggs for readers.


How can you support kids’ literacy? Mikkaka Overstreet shares reading logs for kids and more easy ideas to support kids’ literacy.

Andrew Blauner examines the spiritual message at the heart of Peanuts.

It can be fun to read with other people. Duchess Camilla is starting her own book club.

Annika Barranti Klein reveals the life and wild times of O. Henry.

We all know that Times New Roman is preferred manuscript font, but why? Melissa Baron walks us through the history of the popular fonts Times New Roman, Arial, and Helvetica.

We write books—but how about making them? Arnesia Young considers 11 bookbinding kits that will have you crafting your own books in no time.

That’s all for this week’s Top Picks Thursday! See you next week for more tips and links!

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