Posted by: Kerry Gans | April 17, 2014

Top Picks Thursday 04-17-2014

Welcome to this week’s links round-up! We hope you all survived Tax Day and are getting healthy refunds.

Is your To Be Read pile overwhelming? Check out these speed reading apps that say they can boost your speed while enhancing comprehension.

Some of the writers at the LA Times have put together this infograpic on How To Be A Writer.


If you write screenplays, how does genre play into screenwriting?

Jami Gold examines the differences between literary and genre fiction.

Want an audiobook of your book? Roz Morris shares how to create an audiobook with Audible’s ACX (Audible Exchange).

Ninie Hammon lists 3 things every novelist MUST do, and Emily Wenstrom tells us how to make inspiration arrive when you need it.


Self-publishing requires authors to be business people–and, increasingly, even traditional publishing is enhanced by the author’s business savvy. Sarah Pinneo lists some business books writers should not be without. And if you’re an author-entrepreneur, you might want to understand how to manage file sizes for your ebooks.

When trying to sell your book or other content, you need to grab your audience with minimal information–whether your audience is blog readers, book readers, agents or publishers. Joan Stewart gives us 7 tools to create killer headlines, Marie Lamba explains how to create a memorable hook, and Jane Friedman lays it all out there in the Complete Guide to Writing Queries That Will Get Requests.

Social media is key to marketing in this digital world. Anne R. Allen lists 10 Commandments of social media etiquette for writers, Kristin Piombino points out the best times to post to social media sites, and Stef Gonzaga tells us how to grow our email lists.

We need to get the most out of the various platforms online. Andy Crestodina has 14 ways to polish your Google search results, Penny Sansevieri talks about how to sell stuff on Pinterest, and Peg Fitzpatrick tells us how to optimize the new Twitter layout.


We love our libraries here at the Author Chronicles. Check out some photos from Robert Dawson’s Visual Tour of America’s Most Fascinating Public Libraries.

Whether it’s for research, or just because this is completely cool, take a look at this animated map of the Imperial History of the Middle East.

That’s all for us this week!


Posted by: Nancy Keim Comley | April 16, 2014

Combating the Winter Blahs

Stephanie Burgis, author of the Kat Incorrigible novels, is a genius. Not just because she’s a fabulous writer (she is), but because she understands that sometimes we need both obtainable goals and the support of other people.

At the end of February and into the middle of March, as the winter blahs (and far too much ice) spread into spring, I found it hard to get any work done. My brain was turning into cream cheese and the words hid. That’s when I stumbled upon Stephanie’s March Magic. Everyday on Facebook Stephanie put up an obtainable goal and encouraged anyone who wished to join in. They were to put up a goal and later come back to report on their progress.

At first I was reticent about joining – what would I write? “Chipped ice away from the door during all my free time, only thought about writing.”? “Sat down to write, due to cream cheese brain only strung together six words, five of which are drivel.” Then I saw that Stephanie posted the goal of writing one line of fiction that day. As I read through the comments I saw some people were writing thousands of words a day and others just a line or two. What the heck, I thought, I’ll give it a try.

So I cautiously put down that my goal was one page of revisions.

Which I did. I posted the same the next day and then did it. I still chipped ice (and slid on ice and found yet more things that needed fixing because of the ice) but I had a daily goal. An obtainable goal that I could accomplish. As March drizzled and sniffled on I checked March Magic everyday. I didn’t always post nor did I always obtain my posted goal but I had something human to work towards and other people to share the journey.

Now it’s April and the ice is mostly gone (it had been all gone until it sleeted last night). March Magic is over but the habit of setting and making a goal is still here and the sense of community, the sense that other people are doing the same thing, remains.

The winter blahs have fled.

Posted by: Kerry Gans | April 10, 2014

Top Picks Thursday 04-10-2014

Welcome to this week’s writing links round-up!

Tuesday April 8th was International Sir Terry Pratchett Day!

Are we losing our ability to read long and complex formats? New studies find that our new skills at online reading disrupt our ability to read deeply.

What does this mean for the last big bricks-and-mortar bookstore chain? Liberty Media, a major investor in Barnes & Noble, announced that it will sell most of its investment in Barnes & Noble.

In independent bookstore news, New York City’s Rizzoli bookstore is the flashpoint in a heated dispute between preservationists and developers.

With Mother’s Day coming up, here are the 10 best bad mothers in literature.


Every writer does some amount of research for our books, but try as we might mistakes will creep in. Veronica Sicoe tells us how to deal with Error Terror!

Claire Scobie discusses how to make your word powerful and affect change, while Becca Puglisi highlights weak writing as one of the main reasons readers stop reading.

Roz Morris describes how to make your plot more plausible by controlling your timeline, and Bill Holland shares the definition of an epilogue and when to use an epilogue in your story.

We love our characters! But sometimes we just have too darned many of them. Janice Hardy tells us how to decide which characters to eliminate. Jami Gold explains how we can build theme through character arc.

Writing’s fine points can sometimes trip us up. Writer’s Relief shares the art of using correct verb tenses in your writing, Liz Bureman describes circumlocution and its literary uses, and former police officer Derek Pacifico gives us inside information about homicide scenes.

Editing and revision is where all the polishing happens. Savvy Book Writers extols the benefits of beta readers, Alythia Brown warns us not to ignore our story revision instincts, and Marc Baldwin shares 5 steps to editing a book from the inside out.

We are creatives. Jeremy Collier takes a fresh look at creativity, Lesley Vos lists 20 things that can help you find inspiration for writing, and Amanda Patterson examines the author’s promise to their readers.

We are creatives, but we also want to be successful. James Chartrand explains that writers who get paid have a habit that amateurs don’t. Natalie Whipple gives tough but honest advice to writers. Kristen Lamb urges us to find our niche not just in genre but in story length–there are readers out there for every length, so write what you love.


Jane Friedman explores the future of hybrid authors, as well as who or what influences our buying decisions these days. Author Anthony Horowitz declares that Amazon is “evil” in his Digital Minds Conference keynote address.

For publishers, can Big Data help improve book business practices? And speaking of data, here are the bestselling ebooks of 2013.

In self-publishering, T.L. Bodine lists 5 essential publishing skills author-entrepreneurs must have.

If you are looking for a traditional deal, Nina Amir asks: do you have what publishers really want? And if you are seeking or have an agent, Nathan Bransford gives us 8 ways to know if you have a good agent, while Sharon Bowers of Miller Bowers Griffin explains what agents look for in query and sample.

Marketing scares a lot of writers. Nina Amir lays out how a business plan helps your book get read, while Erin Bowman talks about self-promotion and marketing materials that work.

There are a lot of ways you can raise your visibility, even before you have a book published. Sarah Allen has 10 ways pre-published authors can start building their careers, Karin Abarbanel shares 10 steps to building grassroots support, and Stina Lindenblatt lists 12 tips for increasing your book’s visibility.

Then there is the oft-dreaded “platform.” Agents weigh in on how important (or not) a platform is when querying fiction. Jim Devitt shows us how to beef up our platform by making Google+ circles work for you.

Even after your book has been out a while, you can find ways to connect with new readers. Jen Blood advises revamping your cover to better appeal to your target audience, while Bill Morris suggests that we can do better with our second novel than our debut, as he ponders a golden age of the second novel.


Brett Janes compiles a complete chronological list of Charles Dickens’ opening sentences, since Dickens is known for his compelling openings.

Take a trip through 19th century Paris in this installment of Literary Tourism.

Game of Thrones is dominant in both books and TV. Will Baude examines how the Game of Thrones TV show helps us understand the books, while Erin La Rosa challenges you to find out what your Game of Thrones name would be.

That’s it for us this week!


Posted by: Kerry Gans | April 8, 2014

Accretion and Your Writing Career

Accretion, according to Webster’s dictionary, is “a gradual process in which layers of a material are formed as small amounts are added over time.” According to science, the planets of our solar system formed via this process. The sun’s gravity pulled in millions of small pieces of rock and debris into its orbit and formed an accretion disk. The rocks and debris in this disk banged into each other, some sticking together, and as they stuck their own gravitational pull increased, pulling even more debris into the lump, eventually building the planets.

I think a writing career is also built by accretion.

Like most writers, I’ve been writing a long time. I have many pieces written, all swirling around me like an accretion disk. And now, after a long, long time, some are starting to stick.

Last year, I had my first short story published in a magazine. This year, I had my first poem published in an anthology. I am writing a genealogy book on my family history. The version for my family has already been printed and distributed–the public version will hopefully be available by May. So that will be three pieces out on the market, aside from all the blog posts here on The Author Chronicles, on my own blog, and as a guest blogger.

Accretion. My writing bio is growing, one piece at at time.

I think that’s how it is with most of us–we write and write and try and try, and then suddenly a piece “hits.” And then another follows. And another. And the more that hit, the more get picked up. Momentum builds. It is the old idea of success breeding success.

Of course, not everything we write will get published. Every writer has her own personal Oort cloud of writing that will never see the sun, forever relegated to the icy outer limits of our writing career. But every one of those played a part in the gravitational dance that led us to our first success. A tug here, a nudge there, an unplanned detour… No piece of writing is ever really wasted.

So don’t despair if your writing career seems to be moving slowly. For years, I have been fighting the frustration of working so hard and nothing seeming to come of it, too, so I understand. But this year I was able to look back and see the beginnings of success. And I was able to look back on those years where “nothing was happening” and see that I was laying essential foundations, both in craft and in networking that helped get me here.

Just keep writing. Remember that every craft technique you master, every writing-related friend you make, every piece you write (no matter how bad), is building your accretion disk. If you keep it all moving, eventually your career will start to build. The right pieces will come together.

And once they do, there’s no fighting the momentum. Gravity always wins.

Posted by: Kerry Gans | April 3, 2014

Top Picks Thursday 04-03-2014

Welcome to the first April links round-up! And spring may finally have come to our neck of the woods. Gray, rainy, chilly spring, but it’s not snow and it’s above freezing, so we will celebrate!

Do you know how to find out if your blog posts, books, or even your testimonials have been plagiarized? Arlene Prunkl tells us how to detect plagiarism and what to do if we find it.

Okay, this explains a lot. Seriously. Cody Delistraty explores the neurological similarities between successful writers and the mentally ill.

Nina Amir challenges you to NaBoBloMo – National Book Blogging Month. In which you blog, polish, publish, and market a short book in a month. Are you up for the challenge?

Anna James bemoans the closing of more school library services in England, saying that “libraries are an equaliser”, while Patrice Caldwell explains that diversity in children’s literature is about far more than representation.

Poems written by teenaged Douglas Adams and Griff Rhys Jones are found in a school cupboard. And they’re about candles. Really.


We all do research, and organizing all that data can be an enormous headache. Jenny Hansen tells us how to use OneNote to organize your research notes.

Roz Morris addresses the question of how many words to write per day to be successful, while Ninie Hammon reminds us not to be afraid of the crappy first draft and Ali Luke wants us to write like no one’s watching.

We also need to think about themes and how they reflect our worldview. And be careful of clichéd characters—they are interest-killers for your readers. Then there’s the all-important first plot point, creating conflict with a purpose, and figuring out the difference between a symbol and a motif.

After we’re done dealing with all those things, we need to polish it up. Janalyn Voight shows how to self-edit fiction, while Grace Bello brings us 19 writing tips from writers and editors for The New Yorker.

If you like historical fiction, here’s an interesting piece on historical accuracy vs. “historicity” on TV. Can it also apply to books?

Ghost stories your thing? Neil Gaiman talks about the value of ghost stories.

Because writing can be scary, here are 25 quotes that inspire you to be a fearless writer.

If you are self-publishing (and even if you’re not), your book needs to look good and have an enticing blurb. Joel Friedlander tells us how to design running heads for your book, while Ruth Harris gives us 8 tips for writing a killer blurb.


Jane Friedman looks at questions raised about the ebook market and Big 5 survival. Rachel Deahl wonders if, for major publishers, print will no longer be the norm. For self-publishers, Susan Klopfer examines 4 reasons why indie books fail.

Agent Janet Reid answers the question: is it a red flag if an agent is not in AAR? Marleen Seegers explains everything you need to know about foreign rights agents and why you may want one.

If you’re getting ready to send to agents, read agent Juliet Mushens’ tips on the most common mistakes she sees in queries. And if you write literary, commercial, new adult, YA, middle grade, picture books or magic realism, consider querying Maria Vicente of P.S. Literary.

Overwhelmed with marketing? Jason Kong describes how to keep your fiction marketing lean and focused. Rachel Thompson tells us how knowing your keywords can help your marketing take off.

If you use Google+ as part of your marketing, you may want to check out Martin Sheverington’s tips for mastering the Google+ platform and unleashing its full potential. And Garrett Moon shows us how to share our content more than once without spamming.


The first of April was a day to celebrate Chaucer! The University of Rochester has some Middle English text series online. Speaking of Chaucer, his contemporary John Lydgate is being resurrected thanks to coded graffiti on a church pillar.

For research, browse the entire blog collection of the National Library of Australia, as well as thousands of historic maps released online by the New York Public Library.

Take a look: 10 of the world’s most beautiful book shops, 16 classic children’s books retold for adults, and 14 female authors who were totally badass.

And finally, because the quiz craze has caught us too, find out which fantasy city do you belong in

That’s it for us this week!

Posted by: Gwendolyn Huber | April 1, 2014

Journey – A free story by Gwendolyn Huber

I am going on a journey and I am afraid. Five foot two inch me, brought up pacifist, never even touched a weapon, has agreed to commit murder. I’m either going to have to follow through or die.

In my own defense, I’m trying to save my life.

Am I a coward to have agreed to do it? I’m not sure I know the answer yet. But here I am, plane ticket in hand and silent muscular goon with his hand possessively on my shoulder. What if I have to go to the bathroom? I’m not sure he’d let me out of his sight even then.

I relinquish my ticket at the gate and we find our seats, I at the window and he on the aisle. I am trying to figure out how I got myself into this mess. I live alone and like it. I’ve had a lovely boring life.  Sometimes I’ve longed for more, but most of the time I’m aware of the incredible benefits of a boring life, little pain, few tears, no traumas. There are no fights to referee or weather. I am safe, as there is no one interested enough to hurt me, until now of course.

Of all the people in the world to choose from, they chose me to do this job for them. They spotted me on the street and said, “She’s the one.”

On the bright side, they tell me the man I’m supposed to murder is the devil incarnate – if the information I’ve received is correct of course. They tell me he has killed and tortured many. If anyone deserves death before his time, this guy is the one.

Announcements are made and the plane shudders and makes its ascent. When the stewardess comes by I select a spring water and my goon selects the first of many cups of coffee in which he mixes four creams and five packets of sugar. They chose me, they said, because I look like someone he knows, someone gentle, ineffective and dowdy. Dowdy? In work clothes I’m practically invisible and don’t have to handle unwanted advances or even work too hard. What makes them think I am not those things and could effectively do the job?

All around me people are sleeping, but not my watcher and not me. I discard plan after plan to escape this fate and go back to cataloging my purse’s contents. Yes, I still have my purse. It’s wallet size on a strap that crosses over my body. The goon took the cell phone from the outside pocket immediately but didn’t check the rest of its contents. Guess he figured I couldn’t fit much in a purse this size. I have the usual credit cards, drivers license, birth certificate, sixty dollars, a lipstick, and two spoons from two day’s worth of yogurt lunches at work. They got the small pocket knife I carried on my key chain but I don`t think poking a giant with a tiny blade would have gotten me anything more than a large angry hulk. My head is aching in the dry recirculated air and I wonder if I dare take an ibuprofen or an allergy pill. Then finally a ray of inspiration and hope creeps into my mind. As my thoughts race, I adjust my face to show only timidity and ask to go to the bathroom.

The goon accompanies me and fixes the door so it can be closed but not locked. I quickly use the facilities and then make bathroom sounds with my mouth while emptying the lipstick into the trash receptacle, drying the holder with toilet tissue and then crushing all of my ibuprofen and allergy pills with the spoons. I get the powdered pills into the lipstick holder put it in my front pocket for easy access. I am washing my hands when the goon opens the door and squeezes in with me for his turn to pee. He doesn’t wash his hands and we squeeze out together to the amusement of the next person in line. I guess they think we’re part of the mile high club, the very thought of that with him makes me queasy.

As soon as we are seated the goon waves the stewardess over for yet another cup of coffee. If I had drunk so much coffee I’d be shaking uncontrollably but he shows no effect at all. I hope twenty-six allergy pills are enough. As she pours the coffee I point to the window and say quietly, intensely, “Oh my God look!”

As the stewardess and the goon bend over to look, I dump the powdered pills into his coffee.

As they straighten I say excitedly “Did you see that bird sitting on the wing. I think it fell off. Do you think it’s okay? Does that sort of thing happen often?”

The stewardess was rude enough to look at the goon and make the crazy sign before saying, “You must have been mistaken, ma’am. We’re up too high and going too fast for a bird to be sitting on the wing.”

“Poor bird,” I muttered. I hoped I hadn’t overplayed it. The goon squeezed my arm so hard my eyes crossed from the effort of not screaming so I stopped talking and watched as he poured four creamers and five sugars into his coffee and drank it without stopping.

Nothing happened. Forty minutes later when the plane began its descent and we were welcomed to Texas the goon didn’t look shaky or spaced out the way I feel when I take a single over-the-counter antihistamine. The goon waited until we were the last ones seated and then pushed me ahead of him off the plane into the deserted waiting area. When he started falling, I managed to steer him into a chair and stealthily relieved him of his wallet and a fat envelope I found in his jacket. In the ladies’ room I transferred the thirty-eight hundred dollar bills and change to my purse. The goons’ name was Jim Collins. In the envelope, there was a passport, driver’s license, and credit card for a Shirley Jones and another set for Tonette Smith. I didn’t know if they were safe to use but I kept them both just in case and flushed everything else down the toilet. In an airport shop I bought the brightest, tightest, sexiest dress I could find, added red sandals, a large red purse and a hat and headed back to the bathroom to change clothes. I took a taxi to a branch of my bank here in Dallas and closed my account, all sixty-eight thousand dollars worth of it. It didn’t seem healthy to go home and really I had nothing to go home to except a shabby apartment, a boring job and a family I grew apart from long ago. Maybe I’d had enough of boring.

I flagged down another taxi headed for the train station and Mexico.

Posted by: Kerry Gans | March 27, 2014

Top Picks Thursday 03-27-2014

Welcome to the end of March—and the end of our wintry blast! With temps forecasted in the 60s this weekend, we’re hoping spring is finally here to stay.

In case you missed The Write Stuff Conference last week, J. Thomas Ross has an excellent conference recap with photos.

Chelsey Philpot lists the YA novels to watch for this spring, and Kelly Jensen teaches a censored history of ladies in YA fiction.


Monica M. Clark suggests entering contests to boost credentials. However, read the fine print. As Penny Sansevieri warns us, look for warning signs of author scams in everything you sign or buy.

As writing tools, Mary Kole suggests building emotional anticipation, while Eileen Cook tells us to turn conflict resolution upside down to enhance the conflict in your story.

Jami Gold shows us how to learn show vs. tell using macros and word lists, Kristen Lamb warns of the dangers of premature editing, and K.M. Weiland talks about the benefits of multiple POVs.

Leila Austin explains that plot and action are not the same thing, Laura Harrington gives us 10 steps for analyzing plot, and Ted Thompson examines how to write a believable happy ending.

To write faster, Kevin J. Anderson advises dictating your first draft.

To write better, K.M. Weiland says to put your ego away, Jennifer Williams offers a grab-bag of writing advice, Natalie Bakopolous shares notes to the first-time novelist, and Amber Kelly-Anderson lists 7 types of writers that don’t play well with others.

In other writing advice, Stephen King has 20 tips for writers, while Sam Sykes and Chuck Wendig expound on fantasy, YA, and the true test of a writer.


Publishing is evolving at lightning speed, and Jane Friedman has 5 charts that show how publishing is changing. Alison Coleman wonders if the rise of small publishing means a return to niche publishing, while McKay Coppins takes a look at the niche of conservative books and their rise and fall.

Joseph Stromberg takes us on a trip through the shadowy, surreal world of an academic book mill.

Every competitor except Apple has abandoned the US ebook market to Amazon. Jane Little examines what Amazon’s virtual ebook monopoly means for authors and readers.

Agent Janet Reid answers the question: do you need a business plan for your novel when querying? Whether or not you need a business plan, you’ll need a synopsis. Chuck Sambuchino tells us how to create an effective synopsis. If you are seeking an agent, check out Holly Lorincz of MacGregor Literary, who is seeking literary fiction, women’s fiction, thrillers, historical romance, and Western. Victoria Strauss reminds us why poets should not seek literary representation.

Does having a strong online presence up your chances of getting an agent? What numbers do you “need” to get noticed when building a platform? Janet Reid explains how much of an online presence you need at the query stage, while Anne R. Allen tells us frantic platform builders to stop worrying about the numbers.

For those in the marketing stage of their book, Tiana Warner shares 7 marketing tips from the world’s best marketers, Melonie Dodaro has blogging tips to increase engagement, and Victor Luckerson warns that free marketing on Facebook is over.


Thomas Medicus traces J.D. Salinger’s retreat into solitude as Salinger searched for solace from his PTSD.

That’s it for us this week!

Posted by: J. Thomas Ross | March 25, 2014

The Write Stuff Conference 2014

The Writing That Matters Workshop with Kathryn Craft, Mar 22

The “Writing That Matters” Workshop with Kathryn Craft, Mar 22


On March 20 – 22, 2014, the Greater Lehigh Valley Writers Group, an organization for writers of all genres, sponsored The Write Stuff Writers Conference — celebrating its twenty-first anniversary this year — in Allentown, PA. The first conference, a small luncheon which focused on craft and how-to’s, has grown into a multi-day event which includes editors and agents in addition to published authors and has expanded to embrace all the new options available to writers today. Each time I’ve attended, the conference has been informative, enjoyable, and inspirational, and the 2014 conference was no exception.


Jennifer Hubbard presenting Teen Voices - Writing YA, Mar 22

Jennifer Hubbard presenting “Teen Voices – Writing YA,” Mar 22

Mary A. Shafer, I Finally Finished my Book! Now What?? Options for Writers, March 21

Mary A. Shafer presenting “I Finally Finished my Book! Now What?? Options for Writers,” March 21












Karen E. Quinones Miller presenting "Guerilla Marketing," Mar 22

Karen E. Quinones Miller presenting “Guerilla Marketing,” Mar 22

Each year the main conference begins Friday evening and continues all day Saturday. Those who do not wish to stay overnight at the hotel can just attend the Saturday sessions, and writers interested in the pre-conference workshops on Thursday and Friday can sign up for them separately. Lunch is part of each day’s package, and a continental breakfast starts off the day on Saturday. The hotel restaurant is open for breakfast every day; dinner was only available on Friday evening, but many good restaurants are located nearby. GLVWG board members, conference committee members, and hotel staff are ready and more than willing to answer questions and help with any problems you may encounter.


Phil Guinta presenting Time Management for Writers, Mar 22

Phil Guinta presenting Time Management for Writers, Mar 22

The pre-conference sessions on Thursday and Friday, ranging from ninety minutes to four hours, are longer than Saturday’s sessions and give the presenters a chance to go into more depth. I tend to feel sluggish and headachy when I spend extended time in an artificially lighted room (they are never as brightly lit as I’d like), and I appreciated the hourly breaks the presenters gave us. During these breaks, the presenters remained in the room and answered any questions people might bring to them, so I have to admire their fortitude in not stepping out of the room to take breaks themselves.


Kathryn Craft presenting "Writing That Matters," Mar 22

Kathryn Craft presenting “Writing That Matters,” Mar 22

Scott Nicholson opened the conference with “Re-Imagining Your Writing” in which he encouraged writers to expand their thinking and imagine their manuscripts (novels, short stories, etc.) in other formats and storytelling forms, such as comics, children’s books, or screenplays. Don Lafferty presented “The Essential Elements of Every Author’s Online Marketing Strategy,” a comprehensive look at setting goals, website basics, creating a social media platform, email marketing, and more. (I’ve been to other presentations that Don’s given and the scope of possibilities can be overwhelming. I’ve found that it’s best to concentrate on one or two things at a time, learn to use them effectively, and then attend another workshop and learn more.)



The  Make Your P;odding Prose Prance and Your Plot Dance Workshop with Sally Apokedak, Mar 21

The “Make Your Plodding Prose Prance and Your Plot Dance” Workshop with Sally Apokedak, Mar 21


Every writer wants to know how to “Make Your Plodding Prose Prance and Your Plot Dance,” the I-wish-I’d-thought-of-that title of Sally Apokedak‘s session. Mary A. Shafer’s “Indie Publishing Intensive” presented information about all publishing possibilities and marketing tips of value to all writers. The two other pre-conference workshops were Kathryn Craft’s “Incite Me!” about crafting the story’s critical inciting incident and creating the tension to carry your reader from the beginning to the end and Scott Nicholson’s “Nuture Your Inner Hack: the Best Way to Get Your Story Down” about generating story ideas and conflicts, structuring the story and building characters, revising, and much more.


Sally Apokedak presenting "Make Your P;odding Prose Prance and Your Plot Dance," Mar 21

Sally Apokedak presenting “Make Your P;odding Prose Prance and Your Plot Dance,” Mar 21

On Friday evening, writers who signed up ahead of time for Page Cuts had the opportunity to have their manuscript’s first page and 100-word synopsis critiqued by a panel of publishing professionals — authors, agents, and editors. Scheduled from 8:30 – 10:00 (although I didn’t get back to my room until 11;00), the Welcome Reception gave attendees an opportunity to meet presenters, agents, and editors and to connect with others on their writing journeys.


Saturday’s offerings ranged from Jessica Dimuzio‘s “How To Catch a Kid” and Jennifer Hubbard‘s “Teen Voices: Writing YA” to Kathryn Craft’s “Women’s/Literary/Book Club Fiction” Genre Chat and Hank Phillippi Ryan’s “Mystery/Thriller” Genre Chat to Karen E. Quinones Miller‘s “Guerilla Marketing.” [For the complete list and descriptions, check the conference website.]


38 - Keynote Speaker Hank Phillippi Ryan, Mar 22


The keynote speaker was award-winning, best-selling author of six novels, Hank Phillippi Ryan. Her latest suspense thriller, The  Wrong Girl, has been nominated for a 2014 Agatha Award. Hank is also an investigative reporter for Boston’s NBC affiliate and has won Emmys and many other awards for her journalism. If her face looks familiar, you might have seen her coverage of the bombing at the Boston Marathon. If you get a chance to see her at a writers conference, don’t miss it. She is a bright, energetic, and appealing speaker, and her keynote address, which received a standing ovation, was one of the most inspiring I’ve ever heard. [For more information, check out GLVWG member Tammy Burke's interview with Hank Phillippi Ryan.]


The Nurture Your Inner Hack - The Best Way to Get Your Story Down Workshop with Scott Nicholson, Mar 21

The “Nurture Your Inner Hack – The Best Way to Get Your Story Down Workshop with Scott Nicholson, Mar 21


Saturday’s sessions were fifty minutes, and writers could who had signed up early had ten-minute pitch sessions with agents and editors. The agents and editors at this year’s conference were Sally Apokedak, Deborah Emin, David Forrer, Lawrence Knorr, Sarah LaPolla, Monica Odom, and Kathleen Zakhar. The conference closed with a book fair and autograph session, where door prizes were also awarded, and all of us headed home, tired yet energized, inspired, and eager to plunge into writing once more.

01 - Essential Elements of Online Marketing with Don Lafferty, Mar 20

Don Lafferty presenting “The Essential Elements of Online Marketing,” Mar 20

 Scott Nicholson presenting Nurture Your Inner Hack - The Best Way to Get Your Story Down, Mar 21

Scott Nicholson presenting “Nurture Your Inner Hack: The Best Way to Get Your Story Down,” Mar 21













One final note. One of the joys of attending writers conferences is the unexpected connections you make. On Friday evening I was invited to sit at a table of other writers, none of whom I knew. We had a wonderful conversation, and after the others had left, the woman sitting beside me — Ramona DeFelice Long — and I discovered an unexpected connection: last fall the Author Chronicles included one of her blog posts on Top Picks Thursday. The excitement of meeting someone whose blog post we loved is one of those wonderful, unexpected bonuses of attending a writers conference.


The "I Finally Finished My Book! Now What? Options for Modern Authors" Workshop with Mary A. Shafer, Mar 21

The “I Finally Finished My Book! Now What? Options for Modern Authors” Workshop with Mary A. Shafer, Mar 21


Posted by: Kerry Gans | March 20, 2014

Top Picks Thursday 03-20-2014

Welcome to the first day of Spring!

Authors were all abuzz about Amtrak’s Writer’s Residency program–until they read the fine print. Victoria Strauss details the rights concerns of the Amtrak Residency and suggests fixes for Amtrak’s contracts.

Porter Anderson explores the possibility that there might be 2 separate readerships emerging, and what this might mean for self vs. traditional competition.

Albert Einstein on fairy tales and education.

Sarah Stevenson brings us a list of 10 girls in YA and MG who kick ass with their brains.

L.J. Sellers discusses an article linking creativity and dishonesty.


Whether you are a pantser or a plotter, James Scott Bell’s method of writing from the middle of your novel can work for you. Meanwhile, Philip Overby discusses how to decide if you should write a fantasy trilogy. Or you can go the other way and write short, with Lyn Horner’s 10 tips for writing a short story.

Choose your words with care: Roz Morris warns that synonyms can be dangerous, this awesome chart helps you find the right emotion word, Mary Buckham tells us about active setting and why it matters, and Emily Pennachio explains what the Zhong is and how it can help you write better novels.

Details matter. Fiona Quinn schools us on shotguns and rifles, and John Kenny teaches us about fire and smoke. But sometimes you can have too much detail. Graham Milne tells us not to explain away the magic in your story.

Characters and their change are at the heart of our works. K.M. Weiland examines the importance of the Normal World to character arc; C.S. Lakin explores the sensitive passionate character; and Michelle Browne discusses how to wound your character without boring your audience.

There’s no getting around it–editing is essential to creating a great story. Molly Greene gives us a manuscript proof checklist to help you save money; Jami Gold shares how to use MS Word macros to edit and polish; Mohr Editing discusses what publishing industry changes mean for editors; and learn why Brick Lane Publishing loves editing.

We all experience “encroachment,” as Robin LaFevers calls it–demands on our writing time from family, friends, and other outside sources. Jami Gold chimes in with how to find balance through playing hooky.

We all feel like giving up sometimes. Laura Tabor outlines 8 lousy reasons to quit writing. Jami Deise talks about bad writing advice–particularly “write what you love.”

Inspiration is essential to our profession. Elissa Lauren Field compiles quirky research sources for writers to help fuel your passion, Joy Lanzendorfer shares 5 writing lessons inspired by famous writers, and Lindsay Buroker shows how to write faster and break the 10,000 word a day barrier.


Writing is an art, but publishing is a business. Nina Amir outlines how to create a map to successful authorship. As a business, price point of our books is important. Porter Anderson discusses if authors have lowballed themselves in book pricing.

For those going traditional, you still need an agent. Agent Pamela Van Hylckama Vlieg discusses the changing role of agents in the new digital world; agent Janet Reid answers the question: do you still need an agent if a small press wants your book?; agent Jen Karsbaek has some query pointers; and Stina Lindenblatt lists 5 ways to land an agent.

So you wanna be a hybrid? Here’s Delilah Dawson’s experience jumping to indie with a pseudonym.

Your author website is your online hub. Darcy Pattison outlines what your News Page should have to keep readers coming back for more.

Google+ is a growing social network. Ann Smarty discusses Google+ hashtags, and Rebekah Radice shares how to increase your Google+ engagement.

We all know we need to be our own marketers these days. Jeff Goins tells us how to build a killer tribe, while Austin Kleon has 6 tips for getting your work discovered.


These works of art on the edges of book pages are incredible.

Check out this interactive map, overlaying detailed Victorian maps onto modern London. Great for historical research!

Is this photo actually of the Brontë Sisters?

Wondering about The Hobbit cliffhangers? Screenwriter Philippa Boyd explains the cliffhangers and splitting up the travelers.

That’s it for us this week!

Posted by: Matt Q. McGovern | March 18, 2014

Looking out for the writers that have inspired us

As I have mentioned in this blog-space many times, I love the PhilCon (, that annual sci-fi/fantasy/horror/fandom convention held in the Philadelphia area for many years that is my favorite event to attend in any year. The people I have met there over the years are my favorite people on earth.

I’m also a big fan of H.P. Lovecraft, and there’s never been a shortage of Lovecraft at the PhilCon, from books, magazines, shirts, art, figurines, and more than anything else, the people who love Lovecraft as much as I do and love to talk about it.

Lastly, I love to read, and the only thing better than that is talking to the author of the books you like to read, and having them talk back to you with equal passion and friendliness.

There’s a person on my mind nowadays that fits all of the above criteria. His name is C.J. Henderson. He is battling cancer right now, and a number of the aforementioned favorite people on earth are getting together to help out Mr. Henderson with the battle.

I wish for everybody to visit the following link because I want to help C.J. Henderson, but I also want very much for you to see some of my favorite people on earth and the products they make.

Here’s the link:

Older Posts »



Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 117 other followers