Posted by: Kerry Gans | September 29, 2011

Top Picks Thursday 9-29-2011

October is MYSTERY MONTH on the Author Chronicles! We’ll feature guest blogs by authors Merry Jones, Jon McGoran (a.k.a. D.H. Dublin), 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!

Congratulations to friend of the blog Donna Galanti, whose first novel, THE HUMAN ELEMENT, will be released by Echelon Press in March 2012!

Celebrate Banned Books Week! The Gothamist has Sex, Drugs And Gay Penguins: Banned Books Week Is Here – Top Ten Challenged Books in 2010, while the American Library Association lists ten banned or challenged classic children’s books, with reasons why and the outcome.


People who are not writers have no idea what it means to be a writer—and very often do not think of it as a “real” job. The first step to success, Jackson Pearce says, is to give yourself permission to be a writer. For further inspiration, Jocelyn K. Glei brings us 25 Insights from exceptional authors on Becoming a Better Writer. Meanwhile, John Scalzi bluntly defines how to be a writer: find the time to write or don’t.

So what is it we writers really do, anyway? We tell a well-crafted story. Philip Martin takes us back to basics with “What is a Story?” As to the well-crafted part: Mary Kole writes about the difficult balance of action & information that is vital to a well-written story; Marcy Kennedy and Lisa Hall-Wilson write 7 Ways to Add Variety to Your Dialogue; Jody Hedlund explores writing memorable minor characters; and K.M. Weiland gives us the top 7 reasons readers stop reading.

In other craft advice, Jane Lebak gives some pointers about how to pick a title for your book, while Danyelle Leafty provides a simple overview of verb tenses and how to use them.

Writing can be tough. Jeremy Dean at PsyBlog shares how to beat procrastination, while Cathy Yardley writes 5 ways to keep your writing engine running. All writers are crazy in our own way, so Derek Flynn delves into writers’ crazy working habits, and Dina Santorelli reminds us that the important thing is to own your writing process.


Mike Wells writes about developing a thick skin when it comes to rejection or critique. And even though edits can be painful, Paul Dorset tells indie authors, “Yes, you really DO have to edit your novel.”

Marketing has moved online, everyone knows that. For those still unsure where to start, Duolit lists 4 ways to get involved in the online writing community. Molly Greene has fabulous tips on growing your Twitter following. Kristen Lamb introduces us to the Mavens – people in social media networks who are natural helpers and information collectors. And Roni Loren gives us 5 ways to guard your brand once you’re out there.

Brian Thompson at Technorati sets mainstream publishing vs. self-publishing. Which is worth your time? He seems to be pro-self-pubbing. Meanwhile, Bob Mayer has a different take on whether unpublished authors should self-publish. He also warns that the perfect storm is looming in publishing – and predicts that many front-list authors will eventually jump ship a la Pottermore.

There was a controversy this week in the world of comic books, centered on the sexual depiction of superheroines in Catwoman and Red Hood and the Outlaws. Laura Hudson lays out her side of things in “The Big Sexy Problem with Superheroines and Their ‘Liberated Sexuality’”. 

Harold Underdown explores if children’s authors and illustrators need an agent and what those agents do, and he details the standard manuscript format; Sophia Richardson reviews what’s in a pitch; and Jemi Fraser tells how to handle straddling genres in your query letter.

Technology never sleeps and is continually changing the face of publishing and marketing. Amazon unveils its tablet and lower priced Kindle readers. Nathan Bransford posits that we will continually need to start over with new social media platforms to keep pace with the newest networks. And Trident Media Group joins the ranks of the agents as ebook facilitators.

Ever wonder where people that write historical novels or fantasies find their research materials? Wonder no more! For medieval research, there’s an annotated list of Medieval Resources Online, as well as Medieval Manuscripts in Dutch Collections hosted by Koninklijke Bibliotheek. If you want to jump ahead to the more modern 1600s, visit the University of Cambridge’s The Casebooks Project – Magic & Medicine: Simon Forman, the “Elizabethan Pepys” for information on medicine and society before 1700.

Finally, Laura Sherman tells us what it’s like to be a ghostwriter, and Jo Ann Kairys gives 5 essential tips for creating a children’s book.


This is Banned Books Week, but it is also Library Card Registration Month. But why are the ads for registering so dull? In a fit of creative procrastination, Andy spices up the ads.

I’d love to have a Library Card for this exhibit: the Bodleian Library shows off its treasures, from Magna Carta to Shakespeare

Mike Shevdon, an author with Angry Robot suggests some new tongue-in-cheek fantasy sub-genres; and Terry Pratchett explains how only monarchy travels faster than light.

That’s all for this week! Don’t forget to join us next week for the start of MYSTERY MONTH, with guest bloggers and contests!


  1. Thanks so much for the link and comment, I appreciate it!


  2. WOW, tons of stuff here this week. I need those tips on keeping the writing engine going too! Thanks so much for the congratulations mention! So looking forward to your mystery writer month!


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