Posted by: Kerry Gans | November 3, 2011

Top Picks Thursday 11-2-2011

This week we wrapped up MYSTERY MONTH on the Author Chronicles! Yesterday guest author Lois Duncan talked about keeping up with contemporary teens, how she started in the YA genre, her work on behalf of real-life victims of unsolved crimes, and more. Thanks to all the authors who participated and all of you readers who made it such a success!

There’s still time to enter to WIN a signed copy of Lois Duncan’s STRANGER WITH MY FACE. Click over to her post and leave a comment – it’s that easy!

For those of you participating in NaNoWriMo, here are NaNoWriMo tips from author Kelly Simmons.


With NaNoWriMo blasting off, a lot of talk centers on making the most of your writing time. One way to maximize your output is to know where you’re going ahead of time. Lisa Bouchard outlines a 7-point plotting system she borrowed from Dan Wells; Janice Hardy advises on planning your novel’s middle; and Charlie Jane Anders discusses the importance of “sincerity” in the first draft of your science fiction or fantasy (although this concept will apply to any writing). Some writers, though, are pantsers not plotters, and Marie Patchen extolls the virtues of staying true to your writing style.

So how do you get started on that novel? Nathan Bransford advises sitting down, writing, and seeking voice and plot in the first draft and worry about the rest later. He also shares 5 ways to stay motivated while writing. Edittorrent explains how to test your subplots for weakness. If you run into writer’s block, Johanna Pitcairn gives her tips on how to get through it. When you finally get to the end, heed Paul Dorset’s examination of what makes a successful ending and K.M. Weiland’s list of the 5 elements of a resonant closing line.
Stories are nothing without characters. Bob Mayer writes about the key components of an effective character arc, while L.J. Sellers explores what happens when a character won’t let go. And The Bookshelf Muse’s wonderful Character Thesaurus brings us the entry for the character trait “guarded.” (Check out their other Thesauruses, too!)

In the nitty-gritty of craft, Lynette Labelle brings us How to Write Tight: Part 4; Elizabeth Spann Craig (Riley Adams) writes about good and bad repetition in writing; and Danyelle Leafty brings us a round-up of the best online grammar resources.

In genre-specific craft advice, Dianne K. Salerni talks about problems with writing YA historical fiction; Chris Eboch lists common misconceptions and how to get started in writing books for children; Tim Waggoner gives tips on writing horror; and Stacey O’Neale talks YA Sci-Fi and Fantasy trends in 2012.
So what is the key to writing success? Peggy Teel lists some success tips from reading to editing; Melissa Foster advises making writing a daily habit, even when your days are crazy; Rowena Cory Daniells examines the inner life of a successful writer and indentifies 6 traits for success; and Lisa Gardner talks about writing habits for success.

Anne R. Allen lists 8 things that can push a bad critique group over the line; Seth Simonds gives 7 ways to turn a bad day into a good day; Bob Mayer investigates how change for writers can lead to success; and K.M. Weiland examines 10 fear busters for writers.


Amazon’s entry into the publishing business has caused all sorts of consternation in the publishing world. Barry Eisler gives his view of the possibilities and problems of Amazon entering the publishing biz (with some commentary by J.A. Konrath as well).

Derek Blass on how to build your Twitter following quickly and Roni Loren lists 13 steps to creating an author website readers will love (based on reader feedback); and if you follow the news in the UK, The Guardian has just launched @GuardianTagBot, a new Twitter-based search assistant.

Self-publishing has been seen as the road to instant success by some dreamers, fueled by the success stories of a few authors. Author Levi Montgomery gives the insider’s view of what most self-publishers’ journeys look like. Author Jeff Bennington lists the keys to self-publishing success—mainly: focus on putting out a quality product first and foremost. And J.W. Manus reinforces that yes, self-published authors DO need an editor.


As Dyslexia Awareness Week begins, British publisher Barrington Stoke, devoted to books for reluctant and struggling readers, highlights some fantastic books for children with dyslexia and other reading difficulties.

And some very cool photos of vintage German Children’s Books:

That’s all for this week! Don’t forget to visit Lois Duncan’s post to enter the CONTEST for her signed book STRANGER WITH MY FACE.

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