Posted by: Kerry Gans | May 17, 2012

Top Picks Thursday 05-17-2012

On May 29th we kick off a month-long birthday celebration for The Author Chronicles blog! Stay tuned for details on contests and prizes!

We recently had a link to a post where you could go if you were AGAINST the Big 5-DOJ settlement and thought it was too onerous. On the other side, here is David Gaughran’s open letter to the DOJ taking the view that the settlement is NOT onerous and he supports it. If you agree with him, feel free to go and sign on – or write a letter of your own.

Alison Flood reports on a study showing that the influence of classical literature on writers is declining.

Neil Gaiman pays tribute to his hero Maurice Sendak.

Join the Random Acts of Kindness Blitz and Giveaway! Jami Gold explains what it’s all about.


Beginning is often the hardest part of writing. Thinking about our stories precedes anything we do on the page, so Chuck Wendig tackles thinking as part of the writing process. Terri Windling writes about the rituals we go through before we start creating, and Heather Vogel Frederick explains how she prepares for a day’s writing.

Structure is the scaffolding that holds the story together. Marshall Ryan Maresca advocates for a 12-part structure (using The Avengers movie as an example), while Janalyn Voight advocates the classic 3-act structure.

In any structure, your hero must overcome obstacles. As Janice Hardy points out, beware obstacles that don’t raise the story stakes—this could be why you have some stalled scenes in your manuscript.

Description is a major stumbling block for many writers. Kathryn Craft explains that description is more than a visual; Courtney Carpenter discovers the basic elements of setting in a story; Jamie Wyman insists that you get the local flavor of a real setting correct; Rita Kuehn tells how to captivate readers with descriptive writing that rocks; and Kaitlin Ward warns that you’d better get your animal behavior right as well, or it won’t ring true.

Characters move our stories forward. Stavros Halvatzis helps us in understanding archetypes (part of a series), while Christine Nolfi talks about characters that startle and surprise. Tabitha Olsen explores what main characters and authors have in common; Adrienne deWolfe warns against POV head-jumping; and Peggy Bechko shows how to use your non-antagonist characters to further torment your hero.

Chuck Wendig offers 25 ways to earn your audience—one of which is to make sure your manuscript is well-edited. Sharon Creech also advocates not rushing to get published—set the ms. aside and then revise some more. David Antrobus shares an epiphany about editing. And if they don’t convince you, Aimee L. Salter’s amusing top 10 reasons you need an editor just might.

So many things get in the way of our writing. Joe Bunting shares 7 tricks to write more with less willpower; Krissy Brandy tells us how to make your writing a priority again; Melissa Foster helps find your writing groove; and Gina Sclafani explores the benefits of venturing outside our comfort zone.

We all have bad times, and we all get burned out. Diana Kimpton talks about the good side of bad times; Kristin Lamb reminds us that we all need time to rest; Jennifer K. Hale has an amusing list of 4 things to inspire your writing today; and Chuck Wendig gives some perspective as he muses on the privilege of being a writer.


Raquel Henry posts this week’s opportunities for writers.

Bob Mayer discusses the bottom line for authors—the dollars and good sense. What publishing path is right for you? Kristy K. James tackles the question of price from another angle—asking you to evaluate why you write in the first place.

If you go traditional, there’s a whole process of how your book is born. Mariah Bear’s “how a book is born” flow chart is tongue-in-cheek yet highly accurate, while S. Jae-Jones (JJ) walks us through what really happened when your book goes to an editorial board.

Mhairi Simpson says that self-publishing is not the “easy” way—there is no easy way. Ed Cyzewski states that while self-publishing is not for everyone, but self-publishing can be used as a marketing tool. Jane Friedman brings us the best resources on e-publishing, so you can make an informed decision on whether it’s for you.

When the New York Times declared: “Writer’s Cramp: In the E-Reader Era, a Book a Year Is Slacking,” writer Matt Forbeck said traditional publishers aren’t willing to sign multiple books a year from new authors.

Mary Keeley discusses what an agent evaluates during a prospective client interview; Jane Lebak demystifies the revise/resubmit request letter from an agent; Writers’ Relief lists 11 mistakes writers make in their queries; and Victoria Strauss talks editing clauses in publishing contracts, and how you can protect yourself from unauthorized changes in your work.

Meanwhile, Diana Kelly tells us how to sell a manuscript without an agent; Jennifer Blanchard lists 5 things writers can learn from Taylor Swift; and A.M. Boyle shares the secret of making it as a freelance writer.

Rachel Kent explores why readers want to connect with authors online; Sky Purington dives into the world of author apps; and Jody Hedlund lists her top 10 social media pet peeves.


Annalee Newitz lets us in on some secret history: Printed books existed nearly 600 years before Gutenberg’s Bible.

Want some ideas for your home library? Or just want to bask in the beauty of some of the great libraries of the world? Check out

The Jewel Book. This paper and parchment manuscript displays more than one hundred sketches of seventy pieces of jewelry, the vast majority belonging to Duchess Anna and the remainder to Duke Albrecht V of Bavaria. (You need to scroll past all the pictures to find the text.)

That’s all for this week!


  1. Thanks for the link! I hope all writers will take the time to thank or give another kindness those writers who help and support them in their journey. 🙂 And if you do, you’re entered in a giveway. Win-win. 🙂 You can’t beat that.

    Thank you, Kerry, J., and everyone here at Author Chronicles, for all your great articles and links for writers! 🙂 Your roundups are a lifesaver for me when I can’t get to all the great posts during the week. *hugs*


    • You’re welcome! We love to share what we find with others. We’ve all been helped so much by other writers, both in person and with their advice on the web, it’s a no-brainer to pass it on to others. There’s so much great advice out there!


  2. Thanks for including my post! 🙂


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