Posted by: Kerry Gans | October 27, 2011

Top Picks Thursday 10-27-2011

October is MYSTERY MONTH on the Author Chronicles! Yesterday guest blogger Jon McGoran (a.k.a. D.H. Dublin) tells us how to make your mystery story shine. Next week we wrap up with an interview with author Lois Duncan.

There’s still time to enter to win a signed copy of Jon McGoran (aka D.H. Dublin)’s BLOOD POISON. Click over to his post and leave a comment – it’s that easy!

For those of you looking forward to NaNoWriMo, read these 10 tips from NaNoWriMo by James Scott Bell.

As Halloween approaches, William Meikle brings us 10 Horror clichés to avoid; Lisa Gail Green explores creating fear in the minds of readers; and author John Gannon explains how he wrote and published a scary story for Halloween—and how that put him back in touch with why he writes.


As always, there’s a lot of craft advice out there. Some is evergreen, like Molly Greene’s timeless tips that helped change her writing for the better; Lynnette Labelle’s tips on how to write tight; these truly ancient 8 rhetorical devices to make your prose mouth-watering; and Cheryl Reif’s helpful examples of how to Show rather than Tell.

Some advice you have heard before but bears repeating. Terri Giuliano Long lists 5 sure-fire ways to structure a story; Angela Quarles shows how to weave in world building, using the show Firefly as an example; author Terry Odell looks at POV; and Tim Kane advises frustrating your character in every scene in order to bond the character with the reader and help grow the character.

Some advice can be applied across many genres, and even across fiction and nonfiction. Adair Lara outlines 7 ways to perfect your writing tone. A writer’s attitude infuses everything they write – make sure yours conveys the message you want; Dinty W. Moore on how to bring your voice to life in personal essays – be selective, yet universal; and Jan Fischer-Wade from Curiosity Quills shows how to Jazz up your writing/pitch/synopsis with words that “sparkle.” (You know, like the Twilight vampires)

Some advice is very specific. David N. Walker talks about using the normal world scenes to get the reader caring about your protagonist prior to dropping him in hot water; Lionel Shriver explores what makes unattractive main characters compelling and interesting; Nina Amir lays out how to write magazine articles and essays; and author K.V. Johansen warns against 5 things you should never do in epic fantasy.

Meanwhile, James Killick’s tongue-in-cheek five ways to banish drama from your scenes will, if followed, also banish readers from your world!

The Bookshelf Muse has wonderful resources such as their Character traits thesaurus. This entry on talent gives the definition, the pros and cons, the clichés and ways to avoid them. Check out all their Thesauri for more inspiration.

Maybe because Halloween is approaching, and that kicks off the crazy, hectic holiday season, a lot of blogs focused on increasing productivity and beating procrastination.

Julie Isaac gives us a double treat by explaining how to turn your To-Do List burden into Treasure, and how to meet your writing goals more easily. And Kristi Holl doles out some Writer’s First Aid by exploring what to do when your writing routing becomes a writing rut.

John Soares shares speed reading techniques to save us time researching (and let us read more books!); Scott Scheper lists 8 things everybody ought to know about concentrating; Jane Friedman reveals her secret for battling procrastination; and Chuck Wendig shares some profanity-laden wisdom on 25 reasons you won’t finish your story.

Finishing the manuscript is certainly the first step to success, but there is no sure-fire formula for succeeding. But, as Ava Jae reminds us, there is one guaranteed way to fail at writing. Meanwhile, Angela Scott reminds us that we’re always going to suck at writing—and that’s a good thing.

In a more philosophical vein, Greg R. Fishbone discusses making the transition from writer to author; and Jonathan D. Allen explores why we write – the reasons behind the reasons.


The reality of being a multi-published author is not what Kody Keplinger imagined; meanwhile Saundra Mitchell assures debut authors that the insanity and pressure of a debut year eases up and answers some frequently asked debut author questions.

Jane Friedman returns to an oldie but goodie: How to write a synopsis that works; agent Jennifer Laughran answers word-count questions across most genres; Karen Dionne seeks an explanation for the numerous errors in ebook formatting; and social media guru and author Don Lafferty explains the true relationship between social media & sales.

Speaking of social media…

Here’s some essential plug-ins for your WordPress blog from Jane Friedman; tips and best practices for using Klout from Geekless Tech; the essentials for building a professional author website from Bookcover Cafe; and how to be a jerk on Twitter (so do the opposite!) from PC Mag.

But wait, you say, you didn’t mention blogging! Well…

Kirkus MacGowan brings us blog ideas for fiction writers – they don’t all have to be about writing (and probably shouldn’t be); copywriter Annabel Candy has 8 more effective blog habits (with a link to her first 8); and Reviewz-n-Tips brings us bad habits to avoid for a better blog and 9 random tips to improve your blog writing skills.

And since writers would be nothing without readers, we have author and teacher Leslie S. Rose telling us what real 5th graders want to read about, and author A.R. Silverberry exploring the question: What do readers really want?


Every writer—even famous ones—has his or her critics. Get a laugh from these 10 Amazon reviews, and be assured that you are in good company.

Previously unseen illustrations of The Hobbit from J.R.R. Tolkein’s papers.

That’s all for this week! Don’t forget to visit Jon McGoran’s post to enter the contest for his signed book BLOOD POISON.

Happy and safe Halloween to everyone!


  1. Thanks for including me in Top Picks Thursday. I’m sincerely honored.


    • You deserve it! Great article with much-needed information.


  2. Thanks for the shout-out! I’m so glad you found the “show-don’t-tell” article helpful. Great post!


    • Thanks for the post! I think so often people dispense advice without examples, which is not always helpful. We all know the advice show don’t tell. But that doesn’t mean we understand how to do it. So thanks!


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