Posted by: Kerry Gans | September 15, 2011

Top Picks Thursday 9-15-2011

October is MYSTERY MONTH on the Author Chronicles! We’ll feature guest blogs by authors Merry Jones, Jon McGoran, Dennis Tafoya, and Karen McCullough, plus an interview with Lois Duncan. Also keep an eye out for chances to win autographed books from our guests!


Author Steven James answers the common question “where do your ideas come from?” James also talks about the importance of surprise in his writing, and Donald Maass gives his advice on using surprise effectively in your work.
Anne R. Allen lists 14 Do’s and Don’ts for Introducing Your Protagonist, while Sylvia Ney gives some love to the antagonists with five tips for creating an effective villain.

Lydia Sharp reminds us that while voice is vital, plot is also necessary, and gives tips to improve both voice and plot. Graham Edwards explores what plot is and different ways to approach plotting.
Author Jody Hedlund provides 7 tips for writing dazzling dialogue, while Dina Santorelli talks about creating metaphors to make your writing more powerful.

Because nothing we write is ever perfect, editor-author Cheri Lasota gives us 12 steps to successful editing.
After implementing all the tips above, you’ll need to recharge your creativity. Danyelle Leafty gives some tips to avoid burnout.
LitReactor, a new website launching October 1, promises to be a place where writers can come to hone their craft.


Authors have to watch out for their rights these days. Amazon is now proposing a Netflix-like subscription for its Prime members that would allow unlimited free ebooks—with no stated model as to how authors would get compensated for their content. And authors are suing universities over HathiTrust, a digital cache of millions of scanned books that the libraries would make available to their students and faculty for free—even though many of the books are still under copyright.

We’ve noted the need for diversity in main characters before on this blog, in terms of race and religion. Here authors Rachel Manija Brown and Sherwood Smith talk about agents trying to “straighten” gay characters. They discuss what you can do about it, and the discussion continues on #YesGayYA on Twitter. And a response to this article, refuting the facts as they are laid out, comes from Joanna Stampfel-Volpe of the Nancy Coffey Literary & Media Agency.

Donna Gambale uses TV show blurbs to demonstrate how to improve your query. Queries need a single-sentence hook for what the story is about. Agent Scott Eagan explains why if you can’t describe your story, there probably isn’t one.

And if you write a great query, get a request, and get rejected anyway, author Nancy Martin interprets what that rejection letter really means. One thing that makes agent reject works is word count, so agent Wendy Motter gives us a word count heads-up.

Donna Galanti uses her marketing background to give us 11 tips for utilizing marketing strategy for your book even before it’s out. Once it is out, YA Fantasy Guide tells us how to get bloggers to review your book—and this holds true for all genres, not just YA fantasy. And Sue Collier writes 5 ways to promote your book months or years after the initial publication date.

Author Bob Mayer likens the state of publishing today to the Wild West — danger but a lot of possibility too. Meanwhile, superagent Daphne Unfeasible at KT literary gives us a peek at her query Inbox.

YA Fantasy Guide brings you interviews with agents Sara Sciuto, Courtney Miller-Callihan, Suzie Townsend, Michelle Wolfson, Laurie McLean, Molly Jaffa, Tamar Rydzinski, and Sara Megibow.

You know how we always need to define our genre because there is no shelf for “unique”? Well, there is on the Author Chronicles. For fun, quirky, and hard-to-pigeonhole items, we present:


Need a good book title? Ask Mike Wells’ mother-in-law.

The collection of medieval manuscripts at the Ian Potter Museum of Art can be explored through the Virtual Museum of the University of Melbourne.

Betty Dobson asks “What’s your favourite comic book era?”

Steampunk Bonaparte.” Need I say more?

See you next week!

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