Posted by: Kerry Gans | December 29, 2011

Top Picks Thursday 12-29-2011

The end of the year is fast approaching. Best wishes from all of us at the Author Chronicles for a happy and healthy New Year for all of you!

If you love supernatural thrillers and horror, you can start 2012 off with a great read and a good deed all wrapped up in one. All proceeds from Rage Against the Night will be donated to Rocky Wood, author and President of the Horror Writers Association, who is battling motor neurone disease. The book includes stories by Stephen King, Ramsey Campbell, Peter Straub, Chelsea Quinn Yarbro, F. Paul Wilson, Jonathan Maberry, Scott Nicholson, Nancy Holder, Sarah Langan, and many, many more.

In an end-of-year question, Chuck Wendig asks you to share your top three reads of the year.

And Dean Wesley Smith explains how to plan for success in 2012—by understanding that failure is an option, but quitting is not.


A new year may help you look at your WIP with new eyes and kick off a new round of revisions. Ash Krafton examines the value of strong language; Jami Gold looks at six big-picture revisions that help your story evolve; Danyelle Leafty explains the meaning of the old “show, don’t tell” adage; and Tim Kane shares some tiny fixes that can make a big difference in your manuscript.

Juliette Wade shows how repetition or sameness in scenes creates reader expectation, and why you should make every scene different. Terri Giuliano Long shows how to use setting and atmosphere to create narrative tension. Janice Hardy examines a real-life sample scene to determine if the writer told or showed the emotions. Theresa Stevens explains that structure is not the same as formula in genre fiction. And the Paris Review reveals the answers of 65 famous authors to the question: Did you purposefully write symbolism into your story?

Emlyn Chand shares 10 things she wished she had known before writing her first novel; Rachelle Gardner explains how obstacles are really a way to know if you truly want something; and Laura Drake explores why we fail to attain our goals.

Melinda Leigh wonders if non-writer readers really care at all about good editing; and Mike Wells shares how writers can find their own writing style.

No matter how good your writing style, or how well edited the manuscript, Lauren Clark says the one place you cannot deviate is manuscript formatting. To help you with formatting, Jenny Hansen shares some keyboard shortcuts to help navigate Word.


For those looking for agents in the new year, check out these interviews with Daniel Lazar of Writers House and Louise Fury from the L. Perkins Agency.

Thanks to Tony Noland for pointing these out: Gar Anthony Haywood says stick to your genre so your readers know what to expect, while Chuck Wendig says don’t stick to one genre—brand your writing style, not your genre, and avoid the pigeonhole.

Using social media to generate buzz and build a fan base is crucial these days. Pavarti K. Tyler explains how to successfully approach a book blogger for a review, while Justine Musk shows how to alienate your fan base by poor use of social media.

You may have heard about the tussle between publishers and libraries over e-book lending. Randall Stross of the New York Times sums it up and brings us the latest.

Because nothing says Happy Holidays like a lawsuit, Harper charges Open Road with copyright infringement over the e-release of Julie of the Wolves. Harper claims their 1971 contract with author Jean Craighead George gave them exclusive rights to publish the ebook. Open Road and George say otherwise. This may be the first of many old contracts to be challenged in the new digital world.

Speaking of copyright, Writers Digest has a copyright FAQ for writers.


Ever wondered about the origins or meanings of certain clichés, expressions or words? Wonder no more.

Who knew that Christmas time was ideal ghost story time? Nancy Holder explores the connection between Christmas and fantasy.

Have a safe and happy New Year’s! If you intend to drink, have this number handy: Tipsy Tow offered by AAA: You don’t have to be a AAA member, from 6pm-6am on New Year’s Eve/Day they will take your drunk self and your car home for FREE. Save this number… 1-800-222-4357.

Let’s toast to success for us all in 2012!


  1. Laura Drake is in Texas and offline but I know she’ll be so pleased with this mention when she comes back. Thank you from Writers In The Storm, and from me for the blog love on the formatting post.

    Lots of great stuff to look at here! I’m going to keep this page open and do some poking around. 🙂

    Happy New Year!


    • We find a lot of good advice on those sites, and we’re glad to share it with others.

      Happy New Year to you, too!


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