Posted by: J. Thomas Ross | August 15, 2013

Top Picks Thursday 08-15-2013

All five of us at Author Chronicles gather blog posts that catch our attention during the week, but it’s Kerry Gans’ task to combine our gleanings into an orderly and entertaining post each Thursday. She does a magnificent job and it’s a daunting task to try to replace her, but she deserves a break, so I’m going to giving it a try this week and next week.

We hope you’re enjoying the end of summer. Whether you love the hot summer weather or can’t wait for fall, however, we can all benefit from Dr. Noa Kageyama’s insights on the not-entirely-surprising truths about what makes us happy.

For young readers, The Hub from YALSA offers a guide to YA novels with LGBTQ characters. If you are, like us, a supporter of public libraries, check out Hector Tobar’s report on the fight between public libraries and “big six” publishers over ebooks, and Lisa J. Huriash’s comments about how the demand for ebooks is draining public library budgets.

Genre identification can be a confusing subject. Claire Fallon tackles the topic of “chick lit” — do we know it when we see it?

On occasion, all writers get discouraged or frustrated and can use some inspiration. The Writer’s Circle gives writing inspiration from Stephen King’s On Writing, while Jordan Rosenfeld assures us that chaos and frustration in the writing process are not failure.  Urging writers not to give up, Jeff Goins tells the story of how he stopped waiting to become a writer, quit his job, and launched his dream. Martina Boone also offers inspirational advice to writers: dare to dream because sometimes dreams do come true.

Are you a writer? Chris Allen discusses whether writers are born or made.

Literary agent Julie Just has an open call for new queries. She is looking for YA, MG, picture books, and some non-fiction.

In very sad news, mystery author Barbara Mertz, writing under the names Elizabeth Peters and Barbara Michaels, died at age 85. But it sounds as though she had a heck of an 85th birthday party!


Each writer has a distinct process. What works for one of us may not work for another. C. S. Lakin tells us why writers need to trust their intuition. On the days when you are not feeling up to the task of writing, Kristi Holl gives suggestions for writing according to your mood. Frances Kazan writes of the collapse of a writing routine and how it was restored. Lori Ann Bloomfield wonders if you have trouble completing writing projects and presents her method of doing so.

We can all benefit from writing tips from the experts. Donald Maass and Lisa Cron give us fifty lessons from Fifty Shades of Grey, Part I, and James Scott Bell presents the 5 biggest fiction writing mistakes and how to fix them.

Jessie S gives us three important things to consider when going from spark of inspiration to novel drafting. Carol Brill outlines 4 must-know tips to reaching your writing and publishing goals. Chuck Sambuchino gives 5 tips for writing the first draft of a novel. Jami Gold discusses the use of subtext in stories. Mooderino gives some pointers for improving cause and effect in the series of events that make up a story, and Laura Pauling provides quick and easy tips for creating The Big Lie in fiction.

All  fiction writers know the importance of characters to a story, and this week we found a number of good blog posts with information to help writers with their characters. If your novel has a sizable ensemble cast, Liz Bureman suggests 2 ways to manage a large cast of characters.  Jeannie Campbell provides suggestions on how to develop your character’s Achilles’ heel. Lise McClendon discusses the power of the sidekick, and Adrienne deWolfe offers 10 tips for writing a bad guy readers love to hate. Jody Hedlund discusses when to show characters’ emotions and when to tell.

Mooderino enjoys romantic storytelling, which does not mean that the characters and outcome are perfect.

Allison VanNest gives pointers on cutting extraneous words in your writing.

Sam Bain offers 10 tips on how to write a screenplay., and JB Lacaden gives 5 tips on writing fight scenes.

No writer can afford to forget the reader. In a guest post on Mary Gottschalk’s blog, Richard Sutton urges writers to write for themselves but also to listen for the reader’s voice, and Dana Sitar offers 4 ways to connect with readers.


Chris Mentzer suggests that the writer provide bonus material to attract reader attention and aid book sales. According to Penny C. Sansevieri, another way to boost sales is to become a Goodreads power user.

Kristen Lamb trumps all with the single best way to sell a lot of books. Marcia Yudkin suggests the 12 most honest, least hypey self-promotion tactics. Janet Kobobel Grant questions whether offering free books helps sell other books. Carmen De Sousa gives some advice on how to “make” a bestseller, and Steve Montano offers the super quick guide to how to create a best-selling ebook.

Janet Reid’s Query Shark can be harsh (there is “shark” in the title, after all), but it can also be funny and point out querying mistakes we all make. Here’s an example of  why you should mention your main character first, not the stakes. Lynnette Labelle lays out the top six agent pet peeves, while Marie Lamba lists two major reasons agents reject manuscripts after requesting the full., and her “sassy” intern discusses what writers should and shouldn’t include in a query.

Jen Worick and Kerry Colburn give us five reasons a writer should work on the book proposal now.

In publishing news, a BBC News article states that publishers claim they are being punished by Apple ebook restrictions, and Publishers Weekly reports that the judge denies Apple a stay.

Victoria Strauss has an in-depth look at a predatory company whose tentacles are reaching in many directions in an expanded alert at Writer Beware.

Roz Morris speculates about what deals traditional publishers will offer authors in five years.

As a self-employed author, what are your healthcare options? Michael Cahill provides information about healthcare choices and discusses how the Affordable Care Act will change things in 2014.


Kristina Pino feels that 7 characters from the Harry Potter universe are intriguing enough to deserve spin-offs or side stories of their own.

Are you a Jane Austen fan? See how you do on the Jane Austen quiz. Or are you more than just a fan?  Deborah Yaffe presents the 10 signs of Jane Austen addiction.

A collection of 500 new fairytales has been discovered in Regensburg, Germany. The tales, collected by historian Franz Xaver Schonwerth, had been locked away in an archive for 150 years.

Maria Popova gives us a sample of Star Wars as written by William Shakespeare.

That’s all for this week. For a little end-of-summer inspiration, we’ll leave you with one of my photos of sunrise at the Jersey shore.

Sunrise at Long Beach Island, New Jersey, July 29, 2013

Sunrise at Long Beach Island, New Jersey, July 29, 2013


  1. Thanks for the pick! Appreciate it!!


    • You’re welcome, Chris. Your post gives some good advice!


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