Diving For Pearls

Online writers' resources by Ingrid Bruck

Ingrid Bruck is an editor at Between These Shores.  She was a featured writer in BTSA Issue #2. Her column is devoted to online writer resources. She found her own writer support community online. Writing this column is one way of "paying it forward". 

Diving for Pearls: Online Writers Resources

BTS Books strives to be a writers resource. Toward that end, we invite writers to share their information, link, and news of interest for the literary community. 

Email your pearls of resources for writers to:

Ingrid Bruck, Network and Resource Editor


January 2021

Best Books of 2020


Writers enjoy reading or we wouldn’t write books. Reading plants seeds in our imagination.  If you read like I do, reading uncoils your mind, stretches boundaries and comfort zones, opens up new ways of seeing the world. The question only you can answer is, “What good book do I want to read next?”


The end of each year brings multiple lists of good books to read, announcements of reading prize winners. Some survey the winner lists to discover what they missed and fill in the personal reading gaps. Others use the Best Books of the Year for holiday shopping suggestions to guide their gift giving. Or simply treat themselves to good books to read on cold dark winter nights.  


2020 offers seemingly countless new book choices. You have to pick and choose. Many people look forward to the publication of Best Books of the Year in December. The challenge for you as a writer and reader will be to identify a good list of best new books that makes a good match with your writing style and reading taste. 


The internet hosts a plethora of notable book lists at the end of each year. Some are produced by presses. Others from libraries. From the literary marketplace. From genre interest groups. From reading clubs. From avid readers.


Maybe it’s my librarian training, but I enjoy looking at Best Book Lists taken from the year’s published book reviews. These lists cumulate and rank the books in the  a pool of published book reviews appearing during the year. 


Below are four sample notable book lists for 2020:  


Literary Hub  is my favorite source of book overviews. Check out their multi-genre library list of the 65 best books of 2020.   https://lithub.com/our-65-favorite-books-of-the-year/


Goodreads publishes a Top 200 books published for 2021 based on reader popularity. Their criteria for popularity is judged by a book’s number of individual published reader reviews.. https://www.goodreads.com/book/popular_by_date/2021


NY Times produces reviews of notable books by critics and editors. The December list, 100 Notable Books of 2020, includes the year’s notable fiction, poetry and nonfiction, selected by the editors of The New York Times Book Review. Many libraries use NYT book recommendations to guide new book purchasing decisions.   https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/books/notable-books.html

Washington Post produces highly respected book reviews in all genres.  Here’s a select list for the top ten books in 2020:  https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/2020/lifestyle/2020-best-books/?itid=sf_entertainment-books

When I check out year-end notable books lists, I notice a lack consensus on titles. Notable titles vary, depending which list you survey. Many titles repeat, others tend to be popular within a particular geographical or demographic region.  


I start by going local, it’s the same way I buy food. I was a library director and value the opinions of other librarians. Many librarians are avid readers and great at reader’s advisory. Filling a public library with good books is a librarian’s job, it’s one they tend to do well. I led many library reading book clubs. For years, I read voraciously, though less so now that I’m writing more. Very often, I find delight in the book recommendations received from fellow librarians.  


Each holiday season, I look forward to receiving librarian Joe DaRold’s year end list of best new books. Joe was a library colleague in New Jersey, he served as the director of Plainfield Public Library for many years before retiring. Joe read 110 books last year, which far surpasses me. He continues to serve as president of a library book group featuring new books. Every year, Joe culls a select list of the best new books.  With Joe’s permission, I pass to you his December 2020 notable books list.


2020-2021 - BEST OF THE YEAR

selected by Joe DaRold


       O’Nan, Stewart.      Henry, Himself – lovely story; I did not care for Emily, Alone, I found this prequel to be enchanting.

      Wright, Lawrence    The End of October. Eerie similarities to our pandemic. Exciting and well written.

      Mosley, Walter         Trouble is What I Do. Always a pleasure to read.

      Picoult, Jodi            The Book of Two Ways. Terrific for book clubs. She is one of my favorites, but this is unlike any of her other books.

      Richardson, Michelle    The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek. Heartwarming,  

                                    lovely story.


         Bolton, Sharon      The Craftsmen. One of my favorite writers. I read 

                                             this twice.

        Gardner, Lisa       When You See Me. Ditto.

        Lansdale, Joe R.    Bad Chili. My book club read a short story of his last year and I was hooked. I’ve now read 13 of his “Hap and Leonard” books set in red-neck territory of East Texas. These are among the best, but all are terrific.

        Lansdale, Joe R.   The Elephant of Surprise - Ditto

        Lansdale, Joe R.    Rusty Puppy - Ditto

        Spann, Susan        Ghost on the Bamboo Road – Delightful light mystery series in 16th c. Japan



Best wishes for great reading pleasure in 2021. 

And Don't Forget...

High Quality Journals (No Fee to Submit)


Between These Shores Annual- Open: January 1 - June 30, 2020



Gold Dust Magazine  -  two editions per year, in June and December. They don't accept simultaneous submissions and recommend you submit two to three months prior to the publication dates.     http://www.golddustmagazine.co.uk/Writers.htm


Poetry Breakfast- Subscribe for a daily poem in your inbox. Submission Guideline:



Rat’s Ass Review- Open: Aug. 1-Sept. 30, 2019  Those published receive an invitation from Editor Roderick Bates to join a fine workshopping site.   



Verse-Virtual— supportive poetry’s community that accepts submissions the first ten days of the month.   https://www.verse-virtual.com/submit.html


General Information About Where to Submit (Fee & Free to Submit)

Submishmash Weekly by Submittable- subscribe to receive the posts  


Entropy Magazine: Where to Submit: June, July & August 2019



Erika Dreifus- subscribe to Practicing Writing Blog



Trisch Hopkinson- subscribe to her writer’s blog - Trisch emails weekly blasts of information about writer opportunities  https://trishhopkinson.com


NewPages - subscribe to receive information about writer opportunities and places to submit https://npofficespace.com/newpages-newsletter/

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