Posted by: J. Thomas Ross | April 29, 2021

Top Picks Thursday! For Writers & Readers 04-29-2021


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


Welcome to this week’s Top Picks Thursday. What a month this has been, with high temperatures in the mid 80s yesterday and lows in the 30s last week! May is on the way, however, and we should soon be leaving the cold weather behind. If you want to take advantage of the warmer weather, take a book to the park and find a place to sit and read. After all, May is National Get Caught Reading Month.

Today is National Poem in Your Pocket Day. We’re not sure how to celebrate this event—perhaps by carrying a small notebook in your pocket for writing poems, or carrying a copy of an inspiration verse to share with someone you meet. How would you celebrate?

As we wrap up National Poetry Month, Khalisa Rae considers what it means to write poetry in the “Southern tradition.”

When you’re taking a break from reading or writing, try this Book Riot quiz by Danika Ellis: how many authors can you match with their pen names?

Are you a writer? Ruth Harris examines the 8 stages in the life cycle of a writer.

Kudos: Literary Hub announces this year’s O. Henry Prize winners for the best short stories of the year, and Porter Anderson reports that Louise Erdrich won the Aspen Words Literary Prize.


The Author Chronicles, Top Picks Thursday, J. Thomas Ross, house finch

House finch




Learning the craft is essential for writers. Breanne Rushing provides 11 essential tips to improve writing skills as a writer, and Tasha Seegmiller tells us how to build your own MFA experience, while Dave King mentions the non-writing part of writing.

For the poets, Linda Lane discusses poetry: to rhyme or not to rhyme, that is the question. What’s your answer?

If you’re having trouble writing, Bonnie MacBird suggests unblocking writer’s block with “the write-out.”

Rejection—a disturbing word. Julianna Baggott shows us when to reject rejection, and Royaline Sing looks at the danger of self-rejection (and tricks on how to battle it).

Are you writing a novel or novella, or is it a novelette? Lincoln Michel writes about the evolution of word count.

On the subject of genre, Laura Drake clarifies the difference between romance and women’s fiction, and Ursula Pike reflects on the fine line between a signifier and a trope.

Do you know who’s narrating your story? Of course you do. Janice Hardy, however, explains why you should know who your narrator is talking to.

Characterization is an important element of a story. Stavros Halvatzis examines the inner life of characters in stories, Lisa Hall-Wilson offers 4 tips for writing your character’s PTSD and trauma memories, Samantha Downing lists 4 tips for writing about family grudges, and Katharine Grubb gives us 10 tips for creating a dysfunctional family in fiction. K. M. Weiland also continues her series on archetypal character arcs, part 12: the king’s shadow archetypes.

In addition, Laurie Schnebly Campbell delves into showing emotion: when, why, and how, and Barbara Linn Probst sets out 10 different ways to make your point.

For those working on other elements of their stories, Isobel Wohl wonders what happens to our writing when we lose a sense of place, C. S. Lakin zeroes in on controlling the element of time in your novel, and Chris Eboch writes about pacing, line by line, while Jessica Strawser advises catching readers with the unexpected.

Bonnie Randall addresses deconstructing deadly illusions—what not to do with your manuscript.

James Scott Bell examines using pop culture references in fiction.

Finished your first draft? Robert Lee Brewer takes a look at mistakes writers make: refraining to revise writing.


The Author Chronicles, Top Picks Thursday, J. Thomas Ross, white and blue hyacinths




For those writers looking for agents, Nathan Bransford recommends a new tool for literary agent search.

Janet Reid shares query advice: do not start with your resume when querying for fiction and do not start with a yes/no question but use only questions that will draw the reader in.

If you’re at the point of signing a contract, SCBWI’s Lee Wind reports that the Authors Guild has released model book contracts to the public, and Kate McKean discusses meeting your editors prior to a contract.

Alexandra Alter and Elizabeth A. Harris take a look at how the pandemic has shifted publishing, and Jane Friedman adds deeper context about how the pandemic is affecting book publishing.

Brett Bowen shares the best accounting software for freelancers, and Carol Tice lists 7 ways writers can find freelance jobs on LinkedIn.

Penny Sansevieri looks at marketing a self-published children’s book, and shares an infographic: when to release your book for optimal success.

If you have a book coming out, Jim Milliot writes that in-person author tours won’t be back anytime soon.

Marketing your book? Rochelle Melander advocates building a social media plan.


The Author Chronicles, Top Picks Thursday, J. Thomas Ross, red-bellied woodpecker

Red-bellied woodpecker.




On Brad Listi’s Otherppl podcast, Andrea Bajani discusses the mysterious incubation period of a novel, and Patricia Engel reveals the importance of notebooks to her writing process.

Nalini Singh speaks about the unnecessary divide between literary and genre fiction on the First Draft podcast with Mitzi Rapkin.

Joanna Penn features David Kadavy on The Creative Penn podcast, looking at mind management, not time management.

On The Quarantine Tapes podcast with Paul Holdengräber, Trevor Paglen considers the changing meaning of images under the pandemic.


The Author Chronicles, Top Picks Thursday, J. Thomas Ross, dandelions, spring




Ed Simon reveals the heretical origins of the sonnet.

Pip Williams explores a secret feminist history of the Oxford English Dictionary.


The Author Chronicles, Top Picks Thursday, J. Thomas Ross, red-winged blackbirds, suet feeder, spring

Red-winged blackbirds fighting over the suet.



That wraps up the last Top Picks Thursday of April. Join us again next week for another collection of writerly links.


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



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