Posted by: Kerry Gans | June 3, 2021

A Decade of Top Picks Thursday!

On May 29, 2011, The Author Chronicles blog was born. Every week for 10 years, we have brought you a compilation of our favorite writing tips, advice, and fun posts from around the internet that week. In doing so, we greatly expanded our own knowledge about the craft and business of writing.

In these 10 years, three of us—Kerry Gans, J. Thomas Ross, and Nancy Keim Comley—have seen our works published, as the world of writing, and the world around us continued to change and evolve.

These changes have brought with them new and different responsibilities and demands on the time of all of the Chroniclers. The recent loss of fellow blogger Gwen Huber helped us make the decisions we all felt was inevitable.

We are going on hiatus, for an indefinite period of time.

These 10 years of blogging have been filled with learning, and networking, and creation, but the  constraints on our time have grown in a decade, and we can no longer sustain the pace of a weekly compilation blog. We will keep the blog active, so anyone may continue to explore the treasure trove of advice here.

Because change is the only constant in the world, we are not prepared to say we will never come back to the blog. At the moment, though, The Author Chronicles will not be posting new material for the foreseeable future.

Thank you to everyone who has made this decade-long journey with us. We appreciate your support and your interest, and we wish you all the best in your own writing adventures.


The Author Chronicles

Kerry Gans, J. Thomas Ross, Nancy Keim Comley, Matt Q. McGovern, & Gwen Huber

Posted by: Kerry Gans | May 29, 2021

Happy 10th Anniversary!

Ten years ago today, The Author Chronicles kicked off our blog with an introductory post. We’ve been rolling ever since.

We wanted to give a shout out to all those who have followed us over the decade, including those who have been guest contributors.

Thank you for helping us reach double digits!

Happy 10th Anniversary, Author Chronicles!

Posted by: J. Thomas Ross | May 27, 2021

Top Picks Thursday! For Writers & Readers 05-27-2021

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

Welcome to this week’s Top Picks Thursday! As the month of May draws to a close, we anticipate summer activities. Writers and other creatives can celebrate National Creativity Day on Sunday, and we all know Monday is Memorial Day, a time to remember all those who gave their all in serving our country.

Are you compiling your summer reading list? Jessica Barksdale Inclán explains why reading more Shakespeare is a good idea.

For readers: Chris M. Arnone reviews StoryGraphic: is it worth replacing Goodreads?

For writers: Arthur Klepchukov shares fiction writing contests worth your time in summer 2021.

What do you like to read? Stavros Halvatzis considers literature versus commercial writing.

05-27 - blog - tractor plowing


We writers are always looking for new writing tips. Jon Biddle mentions 7 ways to quickly increase your creativity, and Elizabeth S. Craig gives us 5 good habits for writers, while Samantha Silva gets writing help from an unconventional source.

For those interested in submitting stories, Meredith Allard offers 6 tips to create a good literary journal submission, and Rayne Hall takes a look at how to keep your short story short.

A writer confronts many difficulties in the process of writing. Rafe Posey catalogs how writing a novel is like decrypting a cipher, and Adam Rogers speculates on the gap between concept and language.

With tips for writers of memoirs, Allison Williams says a memoir needs the good times to explain and deepen the story, while Rachelle Gardner details what would make a memoir stand out to a publisher.

Are you writing a novel? Roz Morris goes through the 7 steps of a long-haul novel, and Nathan Bransford advises not starting a scene without four essential elements.

If you’re developing your characters, Janice Hardy helps us make sense out of character wants and needs, and K. M. Weiland gives us part 16 of her series archetypal character arcs: the flat archetype of the child.

We’ve all heard the advice “show, don’t tell,” but just how do you do that? Katharine Grubb explains how to “show” your protagonist is stressed, Tiffany Yates Martin advocates bringing your stories to life with nonverbals, and Bonnie Randall addresses emotions and the body: less cliché ways the body responds to emotional states.

Those characters need to talk to each other: Emily Henry offers 4 tips on writing dialogue, and Julie Glover adds 5 quick dialogue tips.

Barbara Linn Probst focuses on how your book ends: destination or discovery.

Many writers benefit from the help of beta readers. Zoe M. McCarthy shares questions to ask your beta readers to help them help you.

For those with manuscripts ready for editing and revision, Moriah Richard examines writing mistakes writers make: omitting sensory details, Michael Gallant discusses the multi-layer book edit, and Maryann Miller provides 10 self-editing tips. If you are looking for an editor, Val Breit lists 6 ways to find the right editor for your book.

Jessica Conoley elaborates on your final responsibility to your novel: creative stewardship.

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Are you ready to publish your book? Try Dana Isaacson’s publishing pop quiz.

For freelancers: Steve Zakrocki shares 5 things to include in every freelance contract, and Jedha Dening lays out 5 ways to design your online writing portfolio to dazzle clients.

Erica Jenks Henry considers the agony and the ecstasy of publishing your work in a literary magazine.

Jane Friedman takes a look at why it is so hard to figure out how much authors earn (and how much she earned).

Do you have an agent? Janet Reid answers the question: does decreasing communication from agent mean a writer should move on?

With marketing help, Penny Sansevieri outlines the 5 strategies for good Amazon book promotion in an infographic.

Sandra Beckwith points out 9 things you wish you knew before your first TV interview.

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Courtney Zoffness talks about the one characteristic that writers share on Otherppl podcast with Brad Listi.

On The Maris Review podcast with Maris Kreizman, Elizabeth McCracken discusses placing her characters in new settings.

Rebecca Solnit explains why it matters that George Orwell was a gardener on Paul Holdengräber’s The Quarantine Tapes podcast.

05-27 - blog - red rhododendron flowers


Phoebe Wynne looks at how ancient tales became a rallying cry for modern women.

Nick Ripatrazone reflects on the renowned poet W. S. Merwin and the wilderness he loved.

Ashley Weaver writes about safecrackers in fact and fiction.

Literary Hub gives us this week in literary history, beginning with the fact that John Steinbeck’s dog ate the first draft of Of Mice and Men.

05-27 - blog - brown thrasher

Brown Thrasher.

That wraps up Top Picks Thursday. Hope you enjoyed this weeks links! Have a great Memorial Day weekend.

05-27 - blog - sunrise


Posted by: Kerry Gans | May 20, 2021

Top Picks Thursday! For Writers & Readers 05-20-2021

Welcome to this week’s Top Picks Thursday! It’s heating up our neck of the woods, so grab a cool drink and find some shade to read the latest tips, tricks, and news from the literary world.

The 2021 Dylan Thomas Prize has been awarded to American author Raven Leilani for her debut novel Luster.

Looking to translate your work? Check out SCBWI’s translation hub and resources.

Scammers never sleep. Victoria Straus of Writer Beware warns of a writers’ conference phishing scam, and a Goodreads extortion scam, while Anne R. Allen discusses the warning signs of a publishing scam.


For the memoir writers out there, Lisa Cooper Ellison discusses the f-word that will lead to a better memoir, and Ronit Plank explains how to approach friends and family about your memoir.

If you are interested in poetry, Kelly Jensen complied an A to Z guide to poetry and poetic terminology.

Many writers explore real-life issues in their books. Mary Alice Monroe looks at weaving real-life environmental issues into your fictional world.

Lots of people write fantasy. Lynea Youmans focuses on the sub-genre of faith-based fantasy.

Whatever you write, there are certain over-arching craft elements you need to wrestle with. Savannah Cordova explores which story structure is right for your novel, Vaughn Roycroft shows that story tropes can be our friends, and C.S. Lakin shares strategies for novelists who are writing a series.

Scenes are the building blocks of our stories. Marissa Graff explains how to power up individual scenes with a scene tracker, while Janice Hardy demonstrates how scene titles make it easier to write your novel.

Using smaller craft elements correctly can also add strength to your story. Margie Lawson writes about the power of quirky-smirky assonance and alluring alliteration, Wendy Wax has 6 lessons of writing for novelists, and Paula Munier delivers a baker’s dozen of tips and tricks.

Characters do the major lifting in our stories. Laurence MacNaughton lists 3 shortcuts to character-driven stories, Kathryn Craft explores unapologetic characterizations, Kelsey Allagood examines character conflict styles, Terry Odell looks at character description, Katharine Grubb has foolish things your protagonist can do (and why they did them), Stavros Halvatzis shows how to write unlikeable characters, and K.M. Weiland introduces the 6 flat archetypes.

What to do after you’ve finished writing? Rachelle Gardner asks whether you should pay for a critique or professional edit. And once your book is out there, Ashley Holstrom tries to find a better rating system than the Goodreads rating system.


Interested in copywriting? Austin Meadows explains how to become a copywriter: getting started & finding freelance copywriting jobs.

Breaking the silence around author pay, Sarah Nicolas collects information on how much authors make per book.

Every author needs an author photo. Juliet Marillier looks at what makes a good author photo.

Email and social media are key avenues of getting word out to readers. Andrew Hutchinson shares an infographic of email design best practices for 2021 and a new report looking at the best times to post on each social media platform.

Book rankings and ads are one way to spread the word about your book. Ricardo Fayet lists 3 things you didn’t know about ebook retailer rankings, Penny Sansevieri has 5 ways ads improve your book marketing on Amazon and how to sell your book in 5 minutes, and Sandra Beckwith suggests 11 free things you can do to buzz your book.


On the Thresholds podcast with Jordan Kisner, Rachel Kushner explains that everything behind you is part of your present tense.

Brad Listi’s Otherppl podcast hosts Elissa Washuta, on tweeting her way to her voice.

The Quarantine Tapes with Paul Holdengraber has John Freeman talks on moving toward a practice of collaboration.

On The Literary Life podcast with Mitchell Kaplan, Cambria Gordon speaks on the lost art of penmanship.

The First Draft podcast has Mitzi Rapkin and Layla AlAmmar discussing who gets to dictate how a story is told?

Joanna Penn and James Blatch dissect the challenges of a first novel on The Creative Penn podcast.


Some writers are heavily impressed by the places in their lives. Phyllis Richardson takes a look at the homes that inspired Agatha Christie’s settings, as well as the manors, rectories, and cottages that influenced Jane Austin’s writing.

Where everybody knows your name. Sharon DeBartolo Carmack reveals how an Irish barman created a home for New York’s literary elite.

J. Knuse delves into our misplaced fear of the Gothic.

Literary Hub investigates one of the literary losses of the ages: Why did Lord Byron’s buddies burn his memoirs?

With spring in full bloom, Kelly Jensen offers bookish goods for plant lovers.

Looking ahead, Robert Lee Brewer gathers 8 summer writing activities for writers.

That’s all for this week’s Top Picks Thursday! Join us next week for more writerly advice!


Posted by: Kerry Gans | May 13, 2021

Top Picks Thursday! For Writers & Readers 05-13-2021

Welcome to this week’s Top Picks Thursday! We have plenty of writing advice and news for you, so find a sunny spot and read on.

In an idea inspired by FDR, Ted Lieu of California and Teresa Leger Fernandez of New Mexico introduced the Federal Writers Project bill that would create $60 million in writing jobs.

Nicole Froio examines what happens when #MeToo memoirs meet the marketplace.

Literary Hub brings us this week in literary history: May 9-15.

We are sorry to report that Joel Friedlander, founder of The Book Designer blog, passed away this week. Many of Joel’s posts have been featured here over the years, and his design advice will be missed. His blog continues under other management.


The word on everyone’s lips this week is serialization, brought on by the announcement of Kindle Vella, a new serialized fiction platform from Amazon. Steve Hooley wants to know what you think of serialized fiction and Vella, John Peragine continues his series on serialized storytelling with a close look at Vella, and Sandra Beckwith gathers insight from experts on how to decide if Kindle Vella is a good fit for you.

In other genres and formats, Melodie Campbell shares 5 things a mystery novel must have, and Nathan Bransford dissects the difference between children’s and adult books.

For those who write more personal works, Robert Lee Brewer defines what a personal essay is, and Lisa Cooper Ellison explores 4 voices that can help (or hinder) your memoir.

If your preferred genre is a little more out-of-this-world, A.J. Smith lists 5 ways to develop your writing imagination for fantasy fiction, and Christina Sweeney-Baird has 7 tips for writing a near-future dystopian novel.

Every writer, ideally, develops their own unique style and voice. Melissa Donovan gives tips for developing your voice in writing, C.S. Lakin focuses on the punch at the end of your novel scenes, and Stavros Halvatzis advises pacing your story by writing contrasting scenes.

There are many craft elements to consider when honing your voice and style. Some will be genre-dependent, others will be personal choice. PJ Parrish examines the pros and cons of using profanity in stories, Jesse Q. Sutano shows how to mine humor from family dynamics in your writing, Mark and Connor Sullivan list 8 ways to add suspense to your novel, Carla Hoch explains how people that don’t know how to fight, fight; and KL Burd delves into incorporating social issues into your manuscript.

One craft element that can be particularly tricky is backstory. Mary Kole explores how to work with backstory, Donald Maass says to use it to create a feeling of inevitability, and Jenna Harte shares easy tips to incorporate backstory into your novel.

As Kristen Lamb reminds us, characters are the emotional touchstones for our readers. September Fawkes looks at balancing our cast of characters, Janice Hardy has 5 ways to keep your protagonist active, and Diana Souhami reveals how to inhabit the character you write about. Anne R. Allen explores the unsympathetic character, while K.M. Weiland investigates the Mage’s shadow archetypes.

Writing is a highly psychological undertaking. Roz Morris explains why it is so hard to kill your darlings, Laurie Lisle discusses what changed when she decided to write her own story and not someone else’s, and Hank Phillippi Ryan gives us what you need to know to write a novel.

We can’t be writers without getting words on the page, but sometimes we need a little help getting that done. Angela Ackerman shows how to set yourself up for success before you write a single word, Stacey Swann shares how John Steinbeck’s diaries helped her write her debut novel, Keith Kronin has writing advice from Mike Tyson, and James Scott Bell lists 7 tips for producing more words.


In good news, Publishers Weekly reports that print unit sales had double-digit gains at April’s end.

John B. Thompson reveals the new Holy Grail of traditional publishers: direct-to-reader relationships.

Many authors already have that relationship with their audience. Leila Hirschfeld looks at engaging with readers: 14 ways authors express gratitude.

When trying to sell your book, you need a pitch, comps, and the right way to package it all. Janet Reid explains the best way to query a novel and short stories, Evan Jensen has 4 simple steps to an elevator pitch, Star Wuerdemann shows how to find compelling comps for your book, and Gina Panettieri explores essentials to elevating your pitch: loglines and comps.

Marketing means getting the word out about your project. Patti Thorn tells how to get book reviews to market your self-published book, and Penny Sansevieri exposes the social media mistake that can damage your author platform.

Online, content is king. Sarah Penner shares 100 content ideas for every stage of your writing career, and Christin Nielsen lists 22 sites where you can get paid to blog.


On The Maris Review podcast with Maris Kreizman, Maggie Shipstead speaks in praise of books that aren’t totally satisfying.

Jacke Wilson’s History of Literature podcast explores the longest fallow periods: when Ralph Ellison experienced a forty-year writing block.

Gail Carriger and Joanne Penn discuss the heroine’s journey on The Creative Penn podcast.


Eileen Gonzalez investigates: are comics for kids or aren’t they?

We all have our punctuation quirks. Emily Temple gathers the punctuation marks loved (and hated) by famous writers.

Take the quiz: what classic middle grade character are you?

L.R. Dorn explores Chester Gillette, Theodore Dreiser, and the origins of America’s fascination with true crime.

Veronica Esposito compares the radical similarities of Alice Munro and Pedro Almodovar.

We often read to escape—and it starts early. Elissa Washuta discusses picture books as doors to other worlds.

What could be better than old literary stuff?  Children’s authors show off their literary treasures on Antiques Roadshow.

That’s all for this week! Join us next week for more literary tips and tricks.

Posted by: Kerry Gans | May 6, 2021

Top Picks Thursday! For Writers & Readers 05-06-2021

Welcome to the first Top Picks Thursday in May! Wednesday, May 12th is National Limerick Day! Our weather has been a bit wishy-washy of late, vacillating between beautiful and rainy (sometimes several times on the same day!), but the advice below is tried and true.

Diversity in writing is something we need, but we also need diversity in reading. Publishing marginalized voices and different perspectives does little good if those voices never reach the mainstream. It can be hard, though, for mainstream readers to connect with stories outside of their own comfort zone, so Milo Todd has some tips for reading outside your lane.

Ruth Franklin explains what we lose when only men write about men in biographies, Mary Sharrott discusses why we need more stories about older women, and Zeahaa Rehman explores adding color to the romance genre.


If you write short stories, Rachelle Shaw discusses building POV and stakes in short stories.

The latest writing trend is a return to serial storytelling. John Peragine dives into serialization in storytelling, and how writers can leverage that.

Sophie Masson talks about a new writing format: the exclusive audio novel.

Like romance but without the explicit scenes? Sariah Wilson shares 5 tips for writing “clean romance” that’s just as hot as explicit sex scenes.

Carter Wilson explains why memory is the scariest thing of all in a psychological thriller.

Fiction not your thing? Rick Lauber talks about finding your nonfiction writing niche and understanding why this is so important.

Our story structure can take many forms, but Catriona Silvey examines the counterintuitive appeal of the literary time loop.

Susan DeFeitas lists 3 key tactics for crafting powerful scenes, Lincoln Michel warns us against the five-car metaphor pile-up, and C.S. Lakin describes how novelists can go deep and wide with plot.

Although usually talked about in connection with science fiction or fantasy, every story has a certain amount of world-building in it. Moriah Richard explores what world building is, W.A. Winter lists 5 key points to consider about your crime fiction setting, and Greer Macallister delves into the responsibility of world building.

Characters are the lifeblood of the story, and getting the reader to care about them is essential. Terry Odell goes back to basics with character descriptions, Angela Ackerman says to write emotion well, you need to know your character well, and P.N. Hinton discusses the importance of good parents in middle grade fiction.

Katharine Grubb shares 4 ways your characters could be sabotaging themselves (and how that’s good for your story!), Stavros Halvatzis explores the presence of epiphany in the character arc, and K.M. Weiland delves into the Crone’s shadow archetypes.

When it comes time to revise, you have a lot to think about. Janice Hardy lists 5 reasons you’re struggling with your revision (and how to fix them), Rachelle Gardner explains what beta readers are and what they do, and Brian Andrews studies what readers want…and what they don’t.

Spencer Ellsworth investigates pulling levers in the god machine, Eldred Bird serves up 5 writing tips we love to hate, and Elizabeth S. Craig examines showing up as a writer.

There are many ways to get from the first page to The End. Ines Johnson discusses having a writing schedule, Maria Mutch advises ditching the plan and embracing uncertainty when writing a novel, Clare Whitfield shares 5 tips to work through procrastination, and Bill Ferris has an amusing take on 7 habits of successful writers.

Wondering just how high the bar is for craft in your novel? Nathan Bransford says to judge the true standard of quality you will be held to, look at the recent debuts.


Claire Kirch reports that writers’ organizations are forming a DisneyMustPay task force to get authors royalties owed to them.

If you are self-publishing, James Scott Bell shares tips for formatting your book.

Agent Janet Reid explains that sometimes “no” has nothing to do with the quality of your book, but it’s just not right for her. Catherine Baab-Muguira asks the question: what if it takes 12 years to get an agent? Robert Lee Brewer demystifies simultaneous submissions vs. multiple submissions, while Ruth Harris tells us how to find the best titles and comp titles for our books.

Marketing is a herculean task. Sandra Beckwith grounds us in author branding, Penny Sansevieri has an infographic with 8 tips to improve your author platform with social media, Elna Cain shares 9 awesome tools for running social media contests, Shailee Shah compiled 17 Instagram book promotion ideas from publishers, and Dominika Pin shows us how to use TikTok to sell books.


On the Thresholds podcast with Jordan Kisner, Ahmed Naji speaks on the contemporary reality of the exiled writer.

Kjersti Skomsvold’s How to Proceed podcast hosts Rachel Cusk on writing without feeling like a writer.

On the History of Literature podcast, Jacke Wilson discusses Salman Rushdie’s devotion to the art of fiction.

Joanna Penn and Nadine Mutas talk tips for translation, self-publishing, and marketing in foreign languages on The Creative Penn podcast.


Letters are personal and revealing. Read Robert Frost’s letters to his son: thoughts on sports, real estate, and drinking.

Gail Crowther examines the friendship and rivalry of Sylvia Plath and Ann Sexton.

Sometimes books make a food or drink sound so appealing, you want to try it. Courtney Rodgers gathers 10 foods and drinks readers have tried because of a book.

Keith Roysdon looks back on film noir’s greatest odd couple: Peter Lorre and Sydney Greenstreet.

Writers usually love libraries for the books that are inside. Gianessa Refermat examines bookish exteriors: libraries that look like books.

Robert Kanigel explores how a bold young American changed the way scholars think about Homer.

That’s all for this week’s Top Picks Thursday! Join us next week for more tricks and tips! And Happy Mother’s Day to all the mom-writers out there!

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



Posted by: Kerry Gans | April 22, 2021

Top Picks Thursday! For Writers & Readers 04-22-2021

Welcome to this week’s Top Picks Thursday! Spring is here (and so are allergies), but these links are nothing to sneeze at.

Since it’s poetry month, Matthew Daddona discusses tension in poetry: the hidden art of line-writing.

Julia Skinner examines libraries and pandemics, past and present.

Many people don’t understand what a sensitivity reader does, so Mya Nunnally reveals the secret life of a sensitivity reader.

Over at Writer Beware, Victoria Strauss has a publisher warning about trouble at Diversion Books.


Looking to ghostwrite? Roz Morris talks about ghostwriting, writer’s block, researching a novel, and training a horse.

If you are a short story writer, Rayne Hall reveals how to win short story contests.

For the memoirists out there, Linda Ruggeri gathers advice from other memoir writers on how to get started in memoir writing.

Many writers think about reviewing books, but sometimes it’s hard to figure out just how you want to review. Danika Ellis has 25+ book review templates and ideas to organize your thoughts.

Crime stories are known for their detectives, their clues, and often their fight scenes. M.E. Hilliard explains why librarians are natural born detectives, Kris Calvin demystifies planting clues and red herrings successfully, Katharine Grubb shares tips for writing memorable fight scenes, and Piper Bayard lists 10 common kitchen objects to use as weapons.

Writers build their stories from the ground up. Sharon Oard Warner wonders which comes first, character or plot?; and Jan O’Hara gives us a display hack for your story’s outline.

The opening of your book is crucial. Dana Isaacson asks: should your book have a prologue?; while Zoe M. McCarthy examines elements to include in a novel’s first 5 pages.

Once the reader starts, how do you keep them turning the pages? Kristen Lamb reminds us that change creates a gripping story, C.S. Lakin advises writing scenes with a purpose, and Janice Hardy tells us a lousy way to create conflict in your novel.

Engaging characters also keep readers reading. Anne R. Allen lists 10 pitfalls to avoid when naming fictional characters, Kathleen McCleary shows how regrets reveal and forge character, and K.M. Weiland continues her series by examining the Queen’s shadow archetypes.

Writing done, editing commences. Jim Dempsy reveals how to cut the cost of a professional editor, and Dario Ciriello explains why self-editing your novel doesn’t really work.

Inspiration comes from many channels. Jeremy DeSilva writes on the link between great thinking and obsessive walking, and Laura Drake walks us through building a writing routine that works for you.


Porter Anderson takes a look at Amazon’s Wattpad-style “Kindle Vella” platform and goes a little deeper in suiting up for serialization, while Monica Leonelle asks: is going exclusive with serialization worth it?

If you are self-publishing, Jane Friedman walks us through how to turn a Microsoft Word document into an ebook, and Stephanee Killen examines what to consider when self-publishing poetry books.

Thinking of freelancing? Carol Tice tells us how to get freelance writing clients at conferences on the cheap, and Breanne Rushing shares 11 tips to improve writing skills as a freelancer.

When it comes to selling, you need marketing, message, and media. Penny Sansevieri has 11 book marketing myths you should not believe and how a makeover can help sell your books, Sandra Beckwith assists with message development: knowing what you want to say and how to say it; and Becca Puglisi brings tips for landing a guest post gig.


The Quarantine Tapes with Paul Holdengraber hosts Paul Muldoon on writing poetry from a place of innocence and ignorance.

The Reading Women podcast with Kendra Winchester has Quan Barry on the possibilities of magical realism.

Brad Listi’s Otherppl podcast features Shannon McLeod on letting go of saving the cat.

On the First Draft podcast with Mitzi Rapkin, Chang-Lee talks on writing as a bodily experience.

Joanna Penn and Mark Leslie Lefebvre discuss global, wide self-publishing on The Creative Penn podcast.


Writers can have trouble processing great events of their times. Mark Edmundson explores how the American Civil War gave Walt Whitman a call to action.

While we struggle with creating ebooks, Ross King describes the laborious process of bookmaking in the 15th century.

Valerie Stivers has fun cooking with Herman Melville.

Examining the evolution and appropriation of language, Joshua Jelly-Shapiro investigates how New York was named.

That’s all for this week’s Top Picks Thursday! Join us next week for more literary links.

Posted by: J. Thomas Ross | April 19, 2021

Remembering Gwen



With great sadness we say goodbye to our valued friend and blog colleague, Gwendolyn Doreen Huber, who passed from this life a few weeks ago after a long and courageous battle with cancer.

The five of us met in Jonathan Maberry’s Advanced Writing Workshop and, after much prodding by our mentor, established the Author Chronicles blog almost ten years ago.

We knew Gwen as a writer who pursued her writing wholeheartedly. In Kerry Gans’ words: “She had an artist’s soul through and through. You could see it in the posts she wrote. She was interested in the philosophy, the heart of writing, not just the craft. She was all about the art.”

Gwen also enjoyed a passion for music. After graduating from Westminster Choir College, she pursued a career in music and especially loved teaching kids. 

Gwen was a beautiful person and a true creative. She will be missed.


The Author Chronicles, Gwendolyn Huber


Posted by: Kerry Gans | April 15, 2021

Top Picks Thursday! For Writers & Readers 04-15-2021

Welcome to this week’s Top Picks Thursday! Hard to believe we are halfway through April already. As part of National Poetry Month, Saturday, April 17th is National Haiku Poetry Day.

Many people are a little leery of poetry. Rebecca Hussey shares an English professor’s perspective on hating poetry.

In awards news, the winners of the 2021 PEN America Literary Awards are announced.

If you are an academic freelancer, take note of the latest controversy in publishing: McGraw-Hill charges freelancers a fee to submit their invoices.


Some craft lessons are genre-specific, but some, even though they grow out of specific genres, can be applied more broadly. Nathan Bransford examines how to write adult characters in children’s books, David Gilman explores the role of research in historical fiction, and Richard O’Rawe (a former IRA bank robber) talks about writing a heist novel based on a long-unsolved crime.

Donna Freitas explains why more writers should study the lessons of YA, and C.S. Lakin reveals the secret to writing commercially successful novels.

Every writer has a different process, so it’s good to understand what kind of writer you naturall are. PJ Parrish asks if you are a wild cook or precise baker, while Robert Lee Brewer defines a plotter in writing and a pantser in writing.

Structure is the skeleton of your story, so it needs to be strong. Jeanne Veillette Bowerman lists 3 mistakes writers make in Act 1, Steve Hooley wrestles with recap chapters in a series, and Stavros Halvatzis shows how turning the story engages the audience.

The details of craft matter, too. Bethany Henry has 5 ways to use holidays in your story, Roz Morris gives us 3 ways vocabulary can increase reader belief, and Melissa Donovan demystifies the difference between dashes vs. hyphens.

Our characters are the soul of our stories. K.M. Weiland continues her archetype exploration with the two shadow archetypes of the Hero, while David Corbett examines the criminal as hero. Elizabeth S. Craig has tips for creating strong female protagonists, and Kathryn Craft reminds us to make our protagonist an actor.

Katharine Grubb explores potential lies your protagonists could tell themselves, Laurence MacNaughton lists 3 powerful ways pros create character conflict, Ellen Buikema lays out the roles of secondary characters, Lorraine Heath gives us 4 tips for writing engaging frenemies, and Kris Calvin discusses writing from multiple points of view.

When we’re editing, we need to guard against accidentally leaving things in, and sometimes take things out even when it hurts. Becca Puglisi says if we want a stronger manuscript we should read it aloud, and R.O. Kwon makes a case against killing your darlings.

We need to stay inspired to carry us through the end of the long novel writing process. Barbara O’Neal advises on keeping a notebook, Donald Maass explores novelty and the novel, and Paula Munier has tips to finish that first draft.


In further industry contraction, HarperCollins will acquire Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Books & Media.

On the retail sales side, Alena Jones tries to move toward a definition of contemporary bookselling.

If you are publishing independently, David Gaughran has a comprehensive How To Self-Publish Guide, and Barbara Linn Probst reveals everything you’ve always wanted to know about hybrid publishing.

Freelancing? Sarah Maurer and Stacey Morris explain how freelance writers can get more clients by cold calling.

If you are an author trying to decide how best to get you book out there, Rachelle Gardner discusses whether to accept a contract from a small press, wait for a large house, or self-publish.

These days, the authors are the brand. Mike Bohdan explores how to build a strong author brand, Jason Guriel discusses the importance of author bios, and Melinda VanLone addresses book cover design pitfalls to avoid.

The pandemic has changed marketing, pushing more of it online. Kathleen Marple Kalb shares her experience of marketing a debut during the pandemic, Catherine Baab-Muguira has what every writer needs to know about email newsletters, and Penny Sansevieri talks about why audio is the next big thing in book promotion and reveals the number one tip for staying motivated in book marketing.


On the  Reading Women podcast with Kendra Sumaiyya, Afoma Umesi explaining why adults should read more middle grade books.

Jordan Kisner’s  Thresholds podcast hosts Fariha Roisin on learning to care less about the publishing world’s rules.

The Maris Review podcast with Maris Kreizman has Amy Solomon and Aparna Nancherla discussing the intersection of comedy and anxiety.

On the Book Dreams podcast with Julie Sternberg and Eve Yohalem, Jasmine Mans explores finding her voice as a spoken word poet.

The History of Literature podcast with Jacke Wilson delineates five ways to read Henry James.

Joanna Penn’s The Creative Penn podcast delves into writing, publishing, and marketing books for children with Crystal Swain-Bates.


Every bookworm’s dream: Erik Hoel shares the joy and privilege of growing up in an indie bookstore.

Damien Bador shows how Tolkien’s fascination with language shaped his literary world.

Writer’s block got you down? Hannah K. Chapman, Lauren Burke, and Kaley Bales explore the years when Jane Austen couldn’t write.

Olivia Rutigliano compiles the 100 best, worst, and strangest Sherlock Holmes portrayals, ranked.

Inspiration comes from all around: Jenny Hansen lists the top 10 success tips from Prince.

Take the quiz! Which character from Winnie the Pooh are you?

May Huang explains how literary translations and crossword puzzles are more similar than you think.

That’s all for this week’s Top Picks Thursday! Join us next week for more literary links.

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