Posted by: Kerry Gans | September 22, 2011

Top Picks Thursday 9-22-2011

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!


Jami Gold asks, “What comes after a first draft?” and also discusses how a story evolves from seed to final draft, and the different elements that go into this evolution. While Jami wonders when you can call a draft “final,” Nathan Bransford notes that the advent of ebooks means that authors can tinker endlessly with their published works. Is it good or bad to never have a “final” product?

Veronica Rossi talks about what makes good dialogue, and Michael A. Tate takes on the problem of anachronistic dialogue in fantasy and historical fiction.

Bob Mayer advises how to handle an antagonist that is not a person, but a theme, such as war.

Janice Hardy writes about the awkward lengths writers go to in order to follow “the rules” – and why sometimes the “wrong” way of doing things is best, while Daily Writing Tips illuminates 15 Frequently confused pairs of adjectives.

Editor Beth Hill explores the importance of action in your story, and the different kinds of action you can use, while Janice Hardy talks about the right way to plot red herrings and twists.

Doubt is the writer’s worst enemy. Shelli Johnson deals with your harshest critic: yourself; Kody Keplinger discusses a writer’s fears of failure and how to combat it; and Suzanne at Write It Sideways asks, Does studying rejection letters hinder writers? Is it helpful or simply another means of procrastination?

The Script Lab shares some screenwriting advice on originality and voice that applies well to writers of any genre, and Malinda Lo tackles diversity and authenticity in children’s and YA lit.

Sometimes writing in a straight line doesn’t work, so Jenny Hansen writes about the non-linear writing process.

Are you up for a 100-day writing challenge? Julie Isaac goads you on to success! If you try it, you’ll need Tom Meitner’s 3 steps to creative endurance.


How do you know where you are on the road to publication? Writers’ Digest presents Your Straight-forward Guide to Publication. Meanwhile, Natalie Whipple reminds us that the agent/author relationship is a partnership, not an employer/employee affair.

Lots of blogging advice today! Jeff Bullas gives us 15 blogging for dummies tips to build your personal brand, while Sean Platt writes The Ultimate Writer’s Guide to Blogging Part I. Meanwhile, taking a break from blogging can be a great idea, and Roni Loren tells us it’s okay to rein in the social media pressure we all feel.

Once you do get back to marketing, Tony Eldridge demystifies the most crucial step to effecting book marketing; Theresa Meyers lists 5 tips for a better book signing; Jessica Northey gives us 7 small things you can do for social media success; and Janet Reid on what a literary agent wants to see in your blog/website.

Joel Friedlander wonders if we have reached the tipping point between traditional publishing and self-publishing for top-name authors. If you go with self-pubbing, copy editor Diana DeSpain Schramer explains why copy-editing is vital for self-pubbed authors.

Some helpful lists: Suzanne Johnson breaks down the subgenres of sci-fi & fantasy; C.A. Marshall gives some helpful word-count guidelines for genres and formats (short story vs. novella); and Cheryl Reif lists 10 skills every writer needs – and they’re not the ones you think.


From Cory Doctorow: TRSF: MIT Technology Review’s science fiction anthology

From Chuck Wendig, The story of Pete, who took a bullet for books and who reminded Chuck that stories and writers matter: (if the f-bomb offends you, do not go here).

From the Huffington Post, Don’t expect me to call the next day’ and other modern Shakespeare quote translations.

That’s all from us today! See you next week!


  1. Great collection of links! I missed a bunch of these, so thank you for this – and for including my post. 🙂

    I like how you teamed my link with Nathan Bransford (and not just because he’s awesome), but because I’ve been worried about that same thing. How with self-publishing, we’re taking away the *finality* of publishing, and how a book might not ever be truly finished if the self-published author can’t restrain themselves from tweaking after the fact. And I say this as a perfectionist who has a hard time letting go. 🙂

    I think fixing typos is fine, but anything else is potentially changing the story, which isn’t fair to the early readers. Those who buy our product shouldn’t be beta readers, leading us to change the story based on their feedback. Of course this is just my opinion, which means it’s subject to change. 🙂 But I really hope to reach the point with my stories where I *won’t* feel the need to desperately tweak anything.


    • Jami – I think another thing Nathan (yeah, he is awesome) was getting at, is that if you can’t let go of what you’ve already published, how can you ever move on to anything else? We’ve all heard stories or known people who have been working on the same book for 20 years and never moved on to another project. With e-pubbing, this simply moves the endless editing online.

      I agree that fixing actual mistakes is fine, but changing the story around is not fair to the readers. I too am a perfectionist, but at some point you have to say, “OK, I’m done with this, time to move on to the next project.” Take what you learned from that book and apply it to the next bigger and better book.



      • Excellent point, Kerry! Yes, I have one of those stories that has dragged on forever. However, I work on it, set it aside for months while I work on something else, and then come back to it with fresh eyes (and hopefully better skills). 🙂

        And I’m sorry I missed your name at the top of this post to credit you properly in my tweet! Sorry!


    • I love seeing your post with Nathan Bransford too!! Thanks for mentioning TWO Writers in the Storm posts between Jami and Roni Loren. They both rocked so hard. 🙂


      • Jami and Roni did rock pretty hard!


  2. Wow, saw the pingback on Writers in the Storm – you’ve got awsome links here that are going to keep me from writing for a couple of days! Thanks.
    I think.


    • You’re welcome. I think.

      Glad you found links that were useful!



  3. Thanks so much for including my post on non-linear writing. I thought i was the only one out there doing it that way until I got all the comments back on that post!


    • I used to be much more non-linear in my approach, but somehow got more linear as time went on. I’ll still jump around if a scene comes to me and demands to be written – don’t want to lose it!


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