Posted by: Gwendolyn Huber | July 17, 2018

Zombies and Cancer

I think creatives commonly spend a lot of time trying to get a balance between must dos, like paying the bills, and things that seem a little less urgent, like creativity. I know I’ve written about that struggle here often enough.

When I was younger I thought I’d die if I didn’t create and I didn’t worry if I were good at creating. I needed to do it. And then, as happens, the need to pay the bills became more consuming.

I remember the exact moment I put creating in the back seat. The way I decided my lack of skill meant creating didn’t deserve to drive.

Once on board that bill playing train I did not question the heirarchy of pay bills first and then create if you have time. Until now.

I was first diagnosed with cancer in 2015. Now, I am currently wending my way through all the barbaricness of a third local recurrence.

My little theory about life and cancer (true or not) is that while you can’t necessarily fix it on your own you should do your part.

Needless to say, with each recurrance I’ve done a lot of soul searching. This time more than ever.

Now I’m sitting here wondering whether paying the bills first and then creating if there’s time is backwards. Maybe that younger me was right, that failing to create is toxic – a death sentence.
I will leave you with a quote from an enjoyable series about zombies and cancer.

“It wasn’t that I didn’t fear death, but the shock of it hunting me had settled years ago.” Brooklyn Wheels and Zombies by M.Van

Posted by: Kerry Gans | July 12, 2018

Top Picks Thursday! For Writers & Readers 07-12-2018

Welcome to this week’s Top Picks Thursday! July is steaming, but here are some cool writerly links. Grab a cold drink, kick back by the pool, and enjoy!

Lee Wind reveals the movement to NOT italicize foreign words.

Neil Gaiman and others mourn the loss of Spiderman and Dr. Strangelove co-creator Steve Ditko.

Alexandra Alter investigates the changing face of romance novels.

Steve Laube has some great tips for safeguarding your identity and privacy as an author.


When most people talk about structure, they are thinking macro—the overall story structure. But structure can be found down to the sentence level, and everywhere in between. Jami Gold describes how we can use beat sheets with shorter fiction like short stories and novellas, while Eddie Jones explains the making of a scene.

No matter what we write, the characters have to be compelling. Not always likeable, but compelling. Donald Maass explores what heroism means today, Brian DeLeonard reboots the mentor trope, Greer Macallister talks about how to write bad characters, and Jami Gold discusses the antagonist role in romance.

Tamar Sloan shows how to “level up” your character’s wound, Jo Eberhardt explains how to get the English language dialect you want correct, and Fae Rowen has 5 conflict-making choices your characters can make (part 1 and part 2).

Every writer can use an editor at some point in the process. Natasia Lekic of New York Book Editors has tips for editing your book, and Hayley Milliman has 8 self-editing techniques to cut your editing time in half. Ryan van Cleave shares the 7 habits of highly effective writing critique groups, Melissa Donovan demystifies using fewer vs. less, and Patricia B. Smith wonders if editing is a dying art.

Writers are always looking to write better, faster. K.M. Weiland gives us 8 steps for learning responsibly so we find the process that works best for us, Dave Chesson lists 6 steps to achieving zen-like writer efficiency, James Scott Bell reminds us of the importance of creativity time, and Joel Friedlander urges us not to overlook the most basic of writer tools: the keyboard.

Writing can be an emotional roller coaster for writers. Akshaya Raman admits to giving up on writing again and again, Cristian Mihai tells us how to feel good about our writing, Anna Elliott says to keep your hustle joyful, and Janice Hardy explores how a new kitten is like a new story idea.


Alex Clark discusses the ongoing rise of the audiobook.

If you’re a self-publisher and are considering a paperback box set, Helena Halme advises how, when, and why to self-publish a paperback box set.

No matter what publishing path you take, you will need an author bio. Rachel Gardner tells us how to write an author bio people will remember.

Marketing is often the part of being a professional writer that sends authors over the edge. Roz Morris has advice for shy writers: feel the fear and put yourself out there. Elena Mikalsen lists 10 ways to survive your debut author year, Austin Kleon assures us that you don’t have to live in public, and Jael McHenry reveals how to deal with book promotion fatigue.

There is a method to marketing madness. Rick Lite shares the ultimate book marketing timeline for indie authors—part 1 and part 2. Penny Sansevieri has a simple method to market your book, Therese Walsh lists 13 ways to promote before publication, and Rachelle Gardner brings us 12 mistakes authors make when connecting to readers.

One good marketing tool is your website and/or blog. Aidee Ladnier explains why all new authors need a website, Renard Moreau asks if you are happy with your blog, and Jordan Peters has the way to beat blogger’s block.

Frances Caballo shares her expertise about different platforms this week: 9 best practices to boost your LinkedIn profile, how to build a community on Twitter, and how poets especially can use Instagram for brand-building and success.


Lisa Ruiz answers the question: what is Gothic fiction?

Charlotte Ahlin investigates why mice were wildly popular in children’s books in the 80s and 90s.

Take a look at a message written in a copy of The Faerie Queene that reveals it to be one of the last books read by England’s Charles I.

That’s it for this week’s Top Picks Thursday! Join us next week for more writerly links…and poolside refreshments.

Posted by: Matt Q. McGovern | July 11, 2018

Artful surroundings

One project that I had been looking to start since I bought my house was that of finding new art to put on my walls. The stars and planets align favorably for this project (my budget is good) so I have begun. I’ve been telling a friend of mine for several years that I would buy her photos when I got a house and now the time has come to do that.

These particular photos are of animals at the Philadelphia Zoo, and it just so happens that some of these animals figure largely in the novel I am still developing. I don’t know the future of this novel manuscript; my advice varies from splitting it into two novels to downgrading the age of the main characters (overhaul). Regardless of what I do, seeing the animals on my wall will always have an influence on me. They will remind me of what I thought the characters saw once upon a time when they were wide-eyed and imaginative, and then later after they saw and experienced.

It’s not the first time I’ve regarded the path of the characters with that of my own as a writer, and I’m sure it won’t be the last.

The rest of my art finding will take some time as I am still learning where the best places are to buy art online and which artists/galleries/sites sell high quality images or the frames themselves, etc. I think any selection needs to influence my own creativity, add something I like to look at on my walls, and maybe even inspire someone else’s imagination.

Lastly, these artful surroundings are a reflection of me. When people come to my house and see the art I have on my walls it may spur conversation about it. Some of those conversations are bound to yield fruitful art observations. 🙂

Posted by: J. Thomas Ross | July 5, 2018

Top Picks Thursday! For Writers & Readers 07-05-2018

The Author Chronicles, Top Picks Thursday, fireworks, July 4

Photo by Jeffrey Hamilton on Unsplash


Welcome to this week’s Top Picks Thursday. Can you believe we’re halfway through 2018? Hope you all had a great Fourth of July yesterday!

For everyone in the writing and publishing community, Debbie Burke fills us in on Book Expo America 2018.

We Chroniclers love libraries. So does Sarah McCoy: for the love of libraries.

Richard Sandomir reports in The New York Times on the passing of prolific, irascible writer Harlan Ellison at age 84.


The Author Chronicles, Top Picks Thursday, laptop, glasses on notebook

Photo by 85Fifteen on Unsplash



One way to improve your craft as a writer is to try writing in another form or genre. If you’re hesitant to try poetry, Katharine Grubb reveals five lies she believed about writing poetry.

A number of blog posts this week focus on the writer. Yuvi Zalkow explores writing through pain, Roni Loren considers self-care necessities, and K. M. Weiland advises judge yourself less, trust yourself more, and write better. Kristen Lamb encourages learning to feel: put down the iPhone and embrace the iFeel, and Daphne Gray-Grant tells us how writers can become better at self-management.

Having problems with your writing? Joanna Penn shares tips for dealing with writer’s block and explains how to write a story that connects with readers. John Warner considers what we learn when our writing ‘fails,’ and Melissa Donovan lists 36 tips for writing just about anything.

For those working on particular story elements, James Scott Bell considers building characters layer by layer, and Stavros Halvatzis delves into how crisis leads to the story climax.

If you’re seeking background information for a genre novel, Sue Coletta shares 6 unusual forensic techniques, and E. L. Skip Knox clarifies history for fantasy writers: merchant guilds.

You’ve written your manuscript — time for revising and editing before submitting. Janice Hardy clarifies the difference between editing and revising a novel, Jami Gold expounds on breaking down the steps of revision to improve storytelling, and Angela Ackerman stresses 5 areas to polish before submitting a manuscript.


The Author Chronicles, Top Picks Thursday, business newspaper, laptop, hands holding phone

Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash



Lisa Tener answers some questions for struggling writers about working with agents, pitching to publishers, and more, while literary agent Rachel Gardner insists “I am is not a gatekeeper.”

Working on your synopsis? Janet Reid discusses the short short synopsis, and Anne R. Allen shares 2 hacks for writing the dread novel synopsis.

In addition to pitching to agents and editors, you might be interested in Stephanie Chandler’ 5 tips to locate and pitch internet media sources.

Writing may be an art, but publishing is a business. To help with the business side, Anna Castle offers tips for author businesses on managing research trip costs, and Steve Laube has advice for new authors for working with their publishers, while Jane Friedman maintains that author income surveys are misleading and flawed and focus on the wrong message for writers.

For those publishing on Amazon, David Kudler goes over how to get started with Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP), and Alinka Rutkowska spells out how to use the Amazon algorithm to sell more books.

Ready to sell your book? Scott McCormick gives the scoop on promoting your book (and yourself) at a school assembly, and Sandra Beckwith focuses on book marketing: where should you start?

If you’re looking for some tips on promotion and marketing using social media, R. J. Crayton asserts that surveying your newsletter readers provides information and a sense of community, Frances Caballo advises poets to use Instagram to build their brands and find success, and Cristian Mihai sets out 5 easy steps to writing a great blog post.


The Author Chronicles, Top Picks Thursday, books in various positions filling shelves around door, used books

Photo by Eugenio Mazzone on Unsplash



If you’re a reader who also enjoys cooking, Maria Adcock presents 7 dishes from famous books and how to make them.

Emily Temple of Literary Hub exposes the surprising stories behind the pen names of 10 famous authors.

Electric Literature‘s Chibundu Onuzo recommends a reading list of African authors.

Ed Pavlic writes about why James Baldwin went to the South and what it meant to him.

On the anniversary of his death, Literary Hub‘s Book Marks looks at the first reviews of every Ernest Hemingway novel, and Dave Seminara writes about trespassing at Ernest Hemingway’s house in Idaho.

That’s all for the first Top Picks Thursday of July. Take a break from your summer activities and join us again next week. See you then!


The Author Chronicles, Top Picks Thursday, silhouette of boy reading book at sunset

Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash


Posted by: Kerry Gans | June 28, 2018

Top Picks Thursday! For Writers & Readers, 06-28-2018

Welcome to the last Top Picks Thursday in June! Thursday, June 28, is National Handshake Day, and Friday, June 29, is National Camera Day.

This week, former poet laureate Donald Hall died at age 89.

Check out these award winners: the 2018 Caldecott, Newbery, and Legacy Awards, and the new Excellence in Graphic Literature Award.

Barnes & Noble will create kids’ graphic novel sections in all their stores.

Consider helping these literary nonprofits using books to make a difference.

In the Big Brother era, Mirela Roncevic examines preserving reader privacy in the age of digital surveillance.

Taking on a hot topic, Bran L. Ayres looks at if we should include trigger warnings for our stories.

As public libraries lose funding, David Barnett explores libraries run by volunteers.

Be creative with your marketing: Sandra Beckwith suggests using crazy July holidays for book promotion.

What does summer hold for you? Jenna Kadlec has summer horoscopes for writers.


Thinking of writing a book? Leigh Shulman has 8 steps on how to write a book, while Sara Shepard shows how to start a novel with a bang to hook readers.

Characters lead the readers through the story world. Mary Kole describes how to write big character life changes, Chris Winkle discusses 5 underused character archetypes, Ellis Vidler examines conflict, Lori Freeland takes a deep dive into dialogue, and Jim Dempsey demonstrates how to create drama with your character’s desires.

If you write romance or have a romance subplot in your story, Bran L. Ayres shows how to develop and show a healthy relationship, and Lisa Hall-Wilson examines the real body language of love.

Once we write, we must revise. Jami Gold breaks down the steps of revision to improve our storytelling, Gordon Long advises that solving your pronoun problems can benefit your writing in general, Janice Hardy has 8 tips for reviewing a manuscript critique, K.M. Weiland shares 6 steps in writing as the art of thinking clearly, and Ellie Maas Davis tells us how to know when your draft becomes a manuscript.

Writers find inspiration and information from many places. Michael Gallant discusses how to identify and contact expert sources for interviews for research, and Icy Sedgwick has 6 ways for writers to find inspiration in a graveyard.

All writers wish we could be more productive. Nathan Bransford extols the benefits of extreme calendaring, Daphne Gray-Grant has a two-fer with how to STOP negotiating with yourself about writing and how to work harder (not smarter), and Jennifer Baruta shares the merits of a writer’s notebook.

Clare Langley-Hawthorne asks if you have a muse, Ruth Harris delves into writers coping with failure, and Julie C. Dao explores knowing yourself better through writing.

Jami Ford has advice for writers just starting out, Joanna Luloff examines relatability in relation to likeability and empathy in fiction, and Jennie Nash discusses the growth mindset for writers.

Ruby Brunton celebrates 5 writers who blur the boundary between poetry and essay, and J. Kathleen Cheney explains why a serial might be a good move for your writing.


Getting published is a difficult journey. Jane Friedman explains how to evaluate small publishers, plus digital-only presses and hybrids; and Erica Liodice has 7 tips for avoiding publisher’s remorse.

People enter contests for a variety of reasons. But what happens when you win a full manuscript request from a publisher you may be less than thrilled to have? Steve Laube gives options.

Seeking an agent is a journey all in itself. Janet Reid looks at the importance of comps, Nathan Bransford tells how to list your publishing credits in a query letter, and Patrick McDonald gives tips to make sure you receive agent responses.

Marketing can be nerve-rattling for introvert writers. Bella Mahaya Carter explains how to harness your Yang to succeed, Dave Chesson examines the psychology of author marketing, and L.L. Barkat shares the introverts’ guide to launching a book.

Marketing is basically how you get the word out about your book. Dave Chesson explains what an author brand is and why you need one, Jeff Shear explores the dynamics of character, writers, and portrait photography; Jodee Blanco tells us how to choose the perfect book excerpt, and Joan Stewart lists 22 tips for breaking bread with journalists.

And if you have a blog as a way of reaching people, Darren Rowse shows us how to find images for your blog that won’t get you sued.


Attention dog lovers! Emily Temple shows us 12 famous authors at work with their dogs.

Lucas Maxwell has 5 reasons to start a Dungeons & Dragons Club in your library.

Books and wine together are fine. Tasha Brandstatter discusses 4 more literary wines.

Like to listen to your books? Maris Kreizman shares the best audiobooks read by authors.

The rise of the machines. RFID machines in British libraries are producing charming found poetry.

That’s all for this week’s Top Picks Thursday! We’ll see you next week for the first Top Picks of July!


Posted by: Kerry Gans | June 26, 2018

Summer Writing: Go with the flow

My daughter’s school is out for the summer today, which brings about the annual conundrum of how to write during the summer months.

Summer writing can be wonderful. If you are in education, summertime brings free time as the rigors of school disappear. Even if you have children, vacations can offer a change of scenery that shake up your Muse and gets the creative juices flowing. And if you have no kids and are not in education or other seasonal work, summer isn’t much different from the rest of the year!

My child takes my attention in the summer, which is not a bad thing. We get to hang out and get reacquainted after the hectic schedule of school. But that sure eats into the writing time. So we compromise. My daughter has day camp through most of July, which she loves, and which gives me time to do what I need to do.

August is a different beast. We like to take August slow and easy, have a true lazy summer month before September. It’s a summer month like I grew up with. Sleep in, have no real plans, go with the flow, and spend as much time alone with yourself as out with friends. I don’t expect to get much writing done in August. Any writing will be a bonus.

So writing this summer for me will be a roller coaster affair, with times I can hunker down, and times I need to ride it out. There will be plenty of joy and inspiration to carry me into September.

What’s your summer writing look like?

Posted by: Kerry Gans | June 21, 2018

Top Picks Thursday! For Writers & Readers 06-21-2018

Welcome to this week’s Top Picks Thursday! Today is National Selfie Day (isn’t it always selfie day?)! It’s also now officially Summer! So grab a cool drink and peruse the links we have this week.

Carnegie Medal winner Geraldine McCaughrean slams book publishers for their policy on “accessible” prose, which she believes dumbs down books and leaves young readers struggling as they get older.

Ngugi wa Thiong’o advocates that African writers write in their own native languages, both to preserve the languages and to open their minds to a different creative flow.

If you are looking for something to read, former President Barak Obama shares what he’s been reading lately.

Porter Anderson takes a look at the new and improved Authors Guild.


Having a plan before you start writing can be helpful. Nancy L. Erickson tells how to make a plan to start writing your book, Janice Hardy has 8 signs you might be over-plotting your novel, Janine Savage shows how to use subplots, and Janice Hardy returns to explain why, whether plotter or pantser, you really should outline your second draft.

A.E. Lowan discusses reaching beyond the common narrative, while Debbie Young explores writing to meet genre expectations in crime/mystery/thriller/detective/suspense, and Zoe M. McCarthy gives us 5 tips for including humor in your story.

Point of view captures readers. Scott McCormick looks at the delights and dangers of first person narrative, Christina Delay dives into deep POV, and Becca Puglisi talks about determining a character’s emotional range.

Scenes are the building blocks of story structure. K.M. Weiland shows how to intertwine plot, character, and theme in every scene; Rebecca Monterusso gives us what it means to write a scene that works, and Janice Hardy has tips on writing scene and chapter transitions.

Tiffany Yates Martin shares the efficient author’s cheat sheet for creating suspense and tension, while David Corbett explores the relationship between the whiff of death and moment of clarity.

Editing can make or break your story. Nick Wilford examines the benefits of reading your work aloud, Kristen Lamb lists 5 things your editor hates about you, Nathan Bransford warns to watch out for empty gestures in your novels, and Jami Gold shares how to find and fix plot holes.

The creative life comes in many different forms. Roz Morris gives us two instructions for making a creative life that she wish she’d known at school, Vaughn Roycroft asks why he writes…again, Augusten Burroughs is bold, frank, and fearless in his search for personal truth, and Stephen King is master of all genres—except literary.


Jane Friedman brings us her Key Book Publishing Paths 2018.

Amy Collins dissects the Amazon Buy Button issue and how to minimize damage to your royalties.

Are you thinking about self-publishing? Jordan McCollum tells us how to evaluate whether you’re ready for self-publishing, while Emily Temple looks at book cover trends of 2018.

Janet Reid has a triple play this week: don’t give publishers rights they can’t use, should you ALL CAP the character names the first time you use them in a synopsis?,  and some reason why she passes on pages.

Four authors share their debut novel experiences.

Book marketing is all about getting the word out. Margaret Broucek shows how to make a book trailer that sells books, Debbie Young has 7 avoidable rookie errors for indie authors, Dan Smith lists 5 book marketing mistakes self-published authors make, and Joanna Penn shares 5 ways to spice up your Amazon book pages.

Much of our marketing is online now. Dave Chesson has SEO for authors, part 2; Ali Luke gives us 7 easy ways to write better titles for your blog posts, and Frances Caballo has part 2 of her 7 tips for networking on the social web.


Daphne Gray-Grant tackles the burning question: How much sleep do writers really need?

Reviewer Anthony Domestico wonders why he was never asked to write about a female author.

Dan Nosowitz explores where the “no ending a sentence with a preposition” rule comes from.

The amazing story of when Arthur Conan Doyle helped exonerate an innocent man convicted of murder.
Penelope Lively examines Virginia Woolf as serious gardener.

We’ve all heard of bats in the belfry, but bats in the library? Sure enough, the bats help preserve the old books, but they drive the librarians…batty.

That’s all for this week’s Top Picks Thursday! Stay cool and enjoy summer!

The Author Chronicles, J. Thomas Ross, Philadelphia Writers' Conference

Center city Philadelphia skyline from I-95, 06-08


From June 8 through June 10, fellow Chronicler Kerry Gans and I attended the 70th annual Philadelphia Writers’ Conference. Kerry did a thorough job covering each day of the conference. [Check out her posts for Day 1, Day 2, and Day 3.] We attended several of the same workshops, but I attended some she didn’t. Here are some of my photos along with writing tips I gleaned during the conference:


The Author Chronicles, J. Thomas Ross, Philadelphia Writers' Conference

‘Writing Retreat in a Box’ with Blair Thornburgh, 06-09


On fiction:

✪ Titles have themes. They mean something. [Blair Thornburgh]

✪Your book cover should look like other book covers in your genre. [Denise Camacho]

✪If you have trouble beginning your novel, try “dessert first” — write the fun part, the part you care about most, first. [Blair Thornburgh]

✪It’s important to choose the right protagonist for your short story. [Austin Camacho]

✪How your characters talk and act reflects who they are and what’s happening to them. [Blair Thornburgh]

✪Conflict is a function of character. It’s about motivation. [Austin Camacho]

✪Motivation can look simple at first, but should be shown to be much deeper. [Austin Camacho]


The Author Chronicles, J. Thomas Ross, Philadelphia Writers' Conference

‘Short and Sweet – How to Write a Great Short Story’ with Austin Canacho, 06-09


✪An internal conflict won’t carry a novel, but it will carry a short story. [Austin Camacho]

✪Anything that changes things in a story must be shown in a scene (not told). [Austin Camacho]

✪To make suspense work, readers must care about the characters. [Austin Camacho]

✪Storytelling is about identity — the author’s, the character’s, and the reader’s. [Blair Thornburgh]

✪Before you submit a short story, read at least two issues of the magazine you are sending it to. [Austin Camacho]

✪The target audience for kids’ books includes parents, because parents buy the books. [Denise Camacho]


The Author Chronicles, J. Thomas Ross, Philadelphia Writers' Conference

‘The Essay Abounds’ with Beth Kephart, 06-10


On non-fiction:

✪An increasing number of memoirs are actually a series of related essays. [Beth Kephart]

✪When you put together a book of essays, the order of the essays is very important. [Beth Kephart]

✪If you are looking for a publisher for a book of essays, all but one or two of those essays should be new, not previously published. [Beth Kephart]

✪Many small publishers are interested in books of essays. [Beth Kephart]


The Author Chronicles, J. Thomas Ross, Philadelphia Writers' Conference

‘Marketing and Social Media – An Author’s Worst Nightmare’ with Denise Camacho, 06-10


On marketing, platform, branding, and social media:

✪If you’re just starting in social media, don’t try to do it all at once. Start with one platform, like Facebook. [Denise Camacho]

✪Don’t pay for social media. [Denise Camacho]

✪You are unique. No one else has your perspective. [Suzy Q]

✪Your brand is comprised of three elements: who you are, who you want to be, and who people perceive you to be. [Suzy Q]

✪We are all multi-dimensional. We are never going to be just one thing. [Suzy Q]

✪Your brand is your promise to your readers: it tells them what to expect from your book(s). [Suzy Q]

✪It’s okay to modify your brand to make it more effective. Don’t throw out everything, however: keep what works. [Suzy Q]

✪Building your platform is primary for marketing — all marketing, not just social media. [Denise Camacho]

✪Growing your platform is a long process. Start long before your book is published. [Denise Camacho]


The Author Chronicles, J. Thomas Ross, Philadelphia Writers' Conference

‘You Are Your Brand’ with Suzanne Kuhn, 06-09


On writing:

✪Writing is rewriting. [Austin Camacho]

✪The best way to sell a book is to write another book. [Denise Camacho]

✪Thinking about a five-year plan as a writer helps you focus your goals and writing. [Blair Thornburgh]

✪Make time to meet face-to-face with other writers to talk (other than in writing groups). [Blair Thornburgh]

✪You can always learn something from other writers, even if they don’t write what you write. [Denise Camacho]

✪The “impostor syndrome” is real. It shows you have feelings and that you have something worthwhile to say. [Blair Thornburgh]

✪Assume the best. You aren’t at that point in your career where you are experienced enough to know how good you are. [Blair Thornburgh]

✪Bring all of who you are into all that you do. [Suzy Q]


The Author Chronicles, J. Thomas Ross, Philadelphia Writers' Conference

‘From Novel to Script – The Craft and Business’ Workshop with Robert Blake Whitehill, 06-09


Note: For the most part the words in the writing tips above are those of the presenters, but in quickly scribbling down my notes, I can’t be sure I caught their exact words, so I didn’t use quotation marks.


The Author Chronicles, J. Thomas Ross, Philadelphia Writers' Conference

Philadelphia skyline from I-95, 06-10


Posted by: J. Thomas Ross | June 14, 2018

Top Picks Thursday! For Writers and Readers 06-14-2018

The Author Chronicles, J. Thomas Ross, Top Picks Thursday, American flag

Flag Day, June 14 (Photo by Andre Benz on Unsplash)


Welcome to this week’s Top Picks Thursday! If you see people flying American flags today, that’s because it’s Flag Day. Since today is also National Strawberry Shortcake Day, you could also celebrate by having a heaping serving of strawberry (red) shortcake with whipped cream (white) with a few blueberries for the blue.

Possibly because people increasingly have more things to do than time to do them, shorter literary forms are experiencing renewed interest: NPR’s Colin Dwyer notes that poetry is making a big comeback in the U. S. and Mara Purl declares writing short fiction is in: all about novellas, novelettes, stories, and flash.

The Authors Guild announces its creation of regional chapters in 14 U. S. cities.

Lee Wild shares Tom McAllister’s insights into this writing life and why we live it.

Allison Flood reports in The Guardian that Kamila Shansie’s Home Fire wins the 2018 Women’s Prize for Fiction.

Literary Hub‘s Emily Temple has collected the best writing in memoriam of Anthony Bourdain, chef, best-selling writer, and traveling television host, who died last week of an apparent suicide.

The Author Chronicles, J. Thomas Ross, Top Picks Thursday, strawberry shortcake

(Photo by Joseph Gonzalez on Unsplash)



Do you attend writers conferences? Steven Spatz reveals why every writer should attend at least one writers’ conference, and Meredith Schorr shares five things she’s learned from attending a writer’s conference.

Some writers stick to one genre; others explore many. Aminatta Forna illuminates the truth about fiction vs. nonfiction, and Alex Fullerton details 8 tips for writing a cookbook. Also, Lisa Tener examines ghostwriting: what to charge.

For writers who are just getting started — or having trouble getting started — Nancy L. Erikson recommends making a plan to start writing your book, Pat Stoltey spells out her cure for writer’s block and procrastination, and Jami Gold mentions 5 lies writers believe that are holding them back.

Once you’re writing, you want to write well. Roz Morris gives five tips for writing good prose, Stavros Halvatzis advocates brevity, clarity, and simplicity in writing, and Melissa Donovan clarifies using quotation marks for fiction writers.

Nathan Bransford focuses on everything you need to know about novel perspectives, and Janice Hardy relates 5 ways repetition is hurting your novel.

A variety of complex characters brings a story to life. In fact, in The New York Times, Motoko Rich reports that, for Japanese novelist Sayaka Murata, odd is the new normal. Janet Reid delves into the sticky area of white folks writing characters of color, and Piper Bayard gives 5 writing lessons about characters from The Americans. K. M. Weiland lays out 5 steps to writing great character chemistry, while Janice Hardy asks: how much do you need to describe your characters?

Jeanne Kisacky explores non-verbal communication in writing. Lisa Hall-Wilson ponders emotional layers: entry to deep point of view.

Donald Maass advocates building a box: setting story parameters, and Jami Gold asks if sneaky plot holes are lurking in your story, while Jordan Dane presents Pixar storytelling — 20 points writers can learn from animated stories.

For those in the research stage of writing, Chandler Bolt provides 7 killer research tips, and Nick Dybek considers how too much research can ruin your novel.

Creating a believable setting for your characters is important too. Mark Alpert goes over the basics of world building, Laurence MacNaughton zeroes in on 6 secrets of science fiction and fantasy world building, and for those writing crime fiction or thrillers, Ban sets out a primer on organized crime.

The Author Chronicles, J. Thomas Ross, Top Picks Thursday, books

(Photo by Kimberly Farmer on Unsplash)



In regard to book reviews: Judith Briles addresses getting your print books reviewed pre and post publication, Patti Thorn details a book review checklist: what to do before submitting for a review, and Kate Tilton shows how to update your ebook without losing your reviews.

For those interested in marketing, Kimberly Dawn Rempel sets out 5 winning strategies for marketing a book, and Sandra Beckwith gives 6 book marketing lessons from the big guys.

Frances Caballo stresses 7 tips to networking on the social web (part 1).

Kathryn Craft clears up when to put your best writing forward.

Blogging was a popular subject this week. Cristian Mihai explains how to find your blogging muse and how to win friends and influence people (as a blogger), Alee King discusses how to create a simple welcome email series for your blog, and Ryan Biddulph shares 7 tips to simplify your blog for stunning success.

Miral Sattar identifies 7 foolproof SEO tips for authors, and John Burke discusses important author website metrics to monitor.

Chris Syme suggests ways to be prepared for when you are the victim of an online attack.

Judith Briles reveals why authors should be speaking on their books … their expertise. Joanna Penn discusses money for authors: income, profit, and cashflow.

The Author Chronicles, J. Thomas Ross, Top Picks Thursday, open books

(Photo by Patrick Tomasso on Unsplash)



BuzzFeed‘s Farrah Penn introduces graphic designer John Atkinson’s extremely condensed, hilarious versions of famous books.

Atlas Obscura‘s Sarah Laskow rediscovers lost literary treasures of the American Midwest, and Victoria Dailey tells how LA became a destination on the rare book trail.

Literary Hub‘s Book Marks shares the remarks of C. S. Lewis, W. H. Auden, and Edmund Wilson on The Lord of the Rings.

Where do famous writers live? Jamie Doward of The Guardian reports that fans of George Eliot are attempting to kick-start restoration of her crumbling former home in Coventry in anticipation of her bicentennial year in 2019, and Lucia Benavides explores her feelings when she discovered that Gabriel García Márquez once lived in her apartment.

What’s a hero without a villain? Emily Temple lists 40 of the best villains in literature.

That wraps up this week’s Top Picks Thursday. See you next week!


The Author Chronicles, J. Thomas Ross, Top Picks Thursday, blank open journal, pencil

(Photo by Jan Kahánek on Unsplash)


Posted by: Gwendolyn Huber | June 12, 2018

The Intuitive Writer

I believe that writing by its very nature is intuitive, and for that reason I hesitate to write about the intuitive writer, because aren’t we all intuitive writers?
In my early days as a writer I was only intuitive, with no ability to analyze, an unbalanced scales. And so I made the rather strange decision across all of my creative pursuits to close the door (at least partially) on my intuitiveness in hopes that I’d attain more of a balance.
It’s been some time now and, yes, the analytical part of my brain has gotten stronger, although I won’t say that the scales has fully balanced itself. That may never happen. But I am ready to throw wide the door to my intuition again.
Below you will find some of the ways to use Intuition as well as ways to court intuition.

When to use Intuition in your writing:
• Use it in choosing what to read next
• Use it in deciding which project to work on
• Use it to sense if something in your writing is off
• Use I to ask your intuition for guidance on directions to take in your novel
• Use it when you have received feedback from beta readers- while you should honor and strongly consider their input do not ignore your gut sense.

Create the right inner conditions for intuition:
• Suspend disbelief. Trust your decisions. Don’t second guess yourself.
Be kind to yourself. Do not scold yourself.

Create a conducive outer environment for intuition:
• Stare into space
• Take a walk out doors
• Write in a journal
• Plan what to write the before bedtime
• Keep alert for synchronicities – Watch for seemingly random events in your daily travels that relate to your writing.
• Read because you are both audience and architect, and you are both creator and the audience you are writing for.

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