Posted by: J. Thomas Ross | February 25, 2021

Top Picks Thursday! For Writers & Readers 02-25-2021



The Author Chronicles, Top Picks Thursday, J. Thomas Ross, snow in the woods along Oxmead Road


Welcome to this week’s Top Picks Thursday! It’s been a snowy month here in the Delaware Valley, as you can see from my photos. The days are getting longer, though, and it’s warming up as we head into a new month. In addition, the end of February and beginning of March brings us a wealth of literary events: tomorrow is National Tell a Fairy Tale Day; next week (the first week of March) is Newspapers in Education Week, Read an E-Book Week, and Words Matter Week; and next Tuesday, March 2nd, is National Read Across America Day.

With all those events, you might be short on time to read, so Emily Temple suggests 50 great classic novels under 200 pages.

Diversity in the publishing industry has been prominent in the news this year. Alaina Lavoie tells us that We Need Diverse Books and Penguin Random House have announced the Black Creatives Fund, and Susan Montoya Bryan relates that fresh funding by Doris Duke Charitable Foundation aims to revitalize digitizing indigenous oral history.

Arthur Klepchukov lists fiction writing contests worth your time in spring 2021, and SCBWI’s Lee Wind announces the Golden Kite Award finalists.


The Author Chronicles, Top Picks Thursday, J. Thomas Ross, snow-edged stream by the horse farm on Oxmead Road




Are you having trouble writing? Alison Flood ponders writer’s blockdown: after a year inside, novelists are struggling to write.

Here are some tips for getting started: Barbara Linn Probst shares four of the best writing exercises ever, an unidentified guest author on The Book Designer details how to make a book, and Rayne Hall writes about how to fan your short story idea sparks into a bright fire.

Writers need to know their audience. Christina Delay zeroes in on identifying your reader.

Having trouble with the beginning of your story? Zoe M. McCarthy discusses elements to include in a novel’s first 5 pages (part 1), and Janice Hardy identifies 4 mistakes that doom the first page of your manuscript. Also check out 5 book openings critiqued by a literary agent, YA author AJ Dickinson and Roz Morris.

The ending of the story is also important. Gilbert Bassey explores story resolutions: mastering the happy-sad ending.

Anne R. Allen points out five common beginning writer storytelling mistakes, and Katharine Grubb gives us tips for writing a redemptive story.


The Author Chronicles, Top Picks Thursday, J. Thomas Ross, mourning dove on snow

Mourning dove

The Author Chronicles, Top Picks Thursday, J. Thomas Ross, white-throated sparrow on snow

White-throated sparrow


For writers of specific genres: Eva Leigh writes about the pleasures and perils of writing historical fiction, Sebastian Fitzek sets out 5 features for writing psychological thrillers, and Toni Šušnjar examines fantasy and monarchy.

If you’re working on the elements of your story, Stavros Halvatzis explains how to tap into the power of setting, Bonnie Randall shares how to write rich characterization, and K. M. Weiland elaborates on archetypal character arcs (part 3): the hero arc, while Brian Andrews focuses on how to write amazing action scenes (part 1).

Things to think about when editing and revising: Bob Hostetler declares a cliché simile is a bad simile, and Dave King advises writers to keep it real.

Tiffany Yates Martin differentiates between criticism versus critique, while Nathan Bransford cautions writers not to listen to condescending feedback.

Garry Rodgers gives his take on AI for authors.


The Author Chronicles, Top Picks Thursday, J. Thomas Ross, flooded creek on Jacksonville Road




Jim Milliot reports that Scholastic and Penguin Random House remain untouchable as top children’s publishers.

Penny Sansevieri reveals what authors need to understand about different book publishing options, and Jacquelyn Lynn asks: is self-publishing a good choice for your novel?

For those following the traditional publishing route, Kate McKean ponders the question of finding a good agent, and acquisitions editor Kara Leonino shares 5 common proposal mistakes.

When it comes to promoting and marketing your book, Penny Sansevieri recommends working awards and contests into your book marketing plan (an infographic), Sandra Beckwith sets out 5 reasons you should speak for free, and Terry Odell discusses branding: it’s not just for cows.

With tips for using social media, Thomas Umstattd, Jr. explains what the 2021 Facebook changes mean for authors, and Andrew Hutchinson talks about new insights shared by Facebook into how to maximize the reach of your video content.

Do you have a website? John Burke offers the complete guide to creating an author website.


The Author Chronicles, Top Picks Thursday, J. Thomas Ross, female cardinal on snow

Female cardinal

The Author Chronicles, Top Picks Thursday, J. Thomas Ross, male cardinal on snow

Male cardinal










Lit Century podcast’s Sandra Newman and Catherine Nichols discuss the teenage angst of 20th-century literature.

On the History of Literature podcast with Jacke Wilson, Anahid Nersessian talks about the lovability of Keats.

Sara Rosett gives tips on how to structure and write a series on The Creative Penn podcast with Joanna Penn.

On Otherppl podcast, Brad Listi talks with Candace Jane Opper about the importance of stories from the outer circle of grief.

On The Quarantine Tapes podcast, hosted by Paul Holdengräber, George Prochnik ponders the role of the artist in calamity.


The Author Chronicles, Top Picks Thursday, J. Thomas Ross, downy woodpecker on suet feeder

Downy woodpecker

The Author Chronicles, Top Picks Thursday, J. Thomas Ross, white-breasted nuthatch on suet feeder

White-breasted nuthatch












Pardis Parker and Andrew Hamm present a comic strip on the art of emailing.

Viet Thanh Nguyen looks at what Amanda Gorman teaches us about our shared America.

Literary Hub‘s Book Marks shares a variety of 1885 reviews of Mark Twain’s Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.

In The Paris Review, Bernard Ferguson searches for Gwendolyn Brooks.

Melissa Baron reveals the authors of fonts in a history of type foundries.

Arielle Gray discusses Toni Morrison as an editor who changed book publishing forever.

Rebecca Rego Barry looks at Bonibooks, the paperback experiment that paved the way for Penguin. There’s a complete set for sale if you’re interested.


The Author Chronicles, Top Picks Thursday, J. Thomas Ross, vultures in tree


The Author Chronicles, Top Picks Thursday, J. Thomas Ross, red-tailed hawk in tree

Red-tailed hawk









That’s all for this week’s Top Picks Thursday. See you again next week with another roundup of writerly links!


The Author Chronicles, Top Picks Thursday, J. Thomas Ross, cloud-studded dawn with snow




Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


%d bloggers like this: