Posted by: J. Thomas Ross | May 21, 2015

Top Picks Thursday 05-21-2015

Spring is such a busy time that the months seem to zip past. It’s hard to believe that we only have one week left in May. The Author Chronicles wishes all our American friends fair weather and a wonderful Memorial Day weekend. As we celebrate with parades and picnics and shore excursions, let’s take a few minutes from our hectic schedules to reflect on the sacrifice of those who died fighting for our country and to appreciate the efforts of all who have served and are currently serving. Their toil has granted us the freedom to pursue our writing and other careers of our choice, to raise our families, and to enjoy the gifts we have been given.

The American Cemetery, Normandy, France, 05-15-2013

The American Cemetery, Normandy, France, 05-15-2013

While we are remembering, let’s take a moment to acknowledge the contributions of teacher, editor, and author of nineteen books William Zinsser, who died this week at the age of 92. Since its publication, editors and teachers have urged writers to read his classic book On Writing Well — which emphasized “clarity, simplicity, brevity, and humanity” and sold more than 1.5 million copies.

We’ve gathered a good array of posts for your edification this week, including always useful advice from other writers. S. W. Lauden presents great advice from some awesome writers, and in an interview by Jamie, Sarah Dessen offers valuable advice for debut authors. Chuck Wendig answers a young writer’s question, admitting that none of us know what the f*** we’re doing, while Vaughn Roycroft suggests flipping perspectives to turn troubles into blessings.

Each writer has his or her own definition of success. Maria Popova presents Amanda Palmer’s take on success, and Savvy Book Writers give 5 steps to writing success. Some of us start writing while still in school; others don’t begin until retirement gives them extra time.  Kim Pearson talks about writers who are late bloomers.

Words are a writers tools. Ronald E. Yates offers 36 fun facts for word lovers. Sometimes, however, despite our and our editors’ best efforts, mistakes creep into our manuscripts. While we hope these will be eliminated before publication, we’ve all found errors in published writing. Elaine Viets laments how ridiculous mistakes are popping up in novels and news reports.

In honor of Short Story Month, Benjamin Wallace extolls the short story, and Chuck Wendig gives his take and asks others to share — what storytelling lessons are you learning from what stories? Literary journals offer publishing venues for short stories and poetry, but Jane Friedman wonders are literary journals in trouble?

To help those of us who will be heading to writing conferences, Lynnette Labelle supplies a writing conference survival guide.

If you’re hunting for an agent, new agent Noah Ballard is seeking literary fiction, thrillers, YA, middle grade, narrative non-fiction, and honest and provocative new writers. Maybe you are just the person he’s looking for!


This week we came across a number of bloggers presenting tips and tricks. Mark Alpert gives us six writing tips from the master, and Mary Carroll Moore offers 5 tips to prevent distractions from becoming derailments in your writing life. Using a film as inspiration, Shanan Haislip finds 3 writing tips you can learn from Avengers: Age of Ultron.

For those interested in screenwriting, the Wise Ink blog provides 3 screenwriting tricks to help improve your writing, and Yvonne Grace has TV writing tips and tricks for character development in a television series drama. If you’ve finished your screenplay, Ron Suppa suggests 10 rewriting strategies for script writers.

If you are working on your first draft, Marcy McKay mentions 3 traps to avoid when writing a rough draft, and Kristen Lamb asks is your idea strong enough? and discusses James Scott Bell’s LOCK method. Janice Hardy gives us a lesson in writing basics: the Act Two choice.

Some of us who have little experience with fighting need to write fight scenes for our stories, so Bill Ferris lists the 10 keys to writing killer fight scenes.

Good characterization is vital in fiction. In her latest post about characters, Jami Gold asks what is a beta character, and are they weak?, while Fiona Quinn garners information from Vincent Annunziato to help if your villain is sneaking over our borders.

When you finally finish that rough draft, Roger Colby advises what to do when your first draft is finished.

Jody Hedlund suggests 4 steps that can keep writers from dismal failure.


When the final revision is finished and you’re seeking an agent, Monica M Clark discusses how to pitch to a literary agent at a conference, and Catherine Scully gives Indie and unpublished writers some advice on how to break into writing and be on panels at conventions. To help you with that agent talk, Kristen Lamb explains how to relate your novel in one sentence — the log line, and agent Janet Reid answers a question about what is meant by a “brief” synopsis. For writers who can’t make it to conferences or conventions and need to query agents, Alex White clarifies how to write a novel query letter.

Once your book is accepted by a publisher, Roxanne St. Claire cautions writers to beware of what rights they give publishers when signing a contract. Since a lot of time may pass before the book is released, Goldie Ector offers 4 survival tips for writers caught in the waiting game.

For the Indie writers, Corina Koch MacLeod and Carla Douglas discuss why self-published authors need both copyediting and proofreading, and J. A. Konrath provides information on what book design adds to an ebook. In a cautionary tale, Chris Marlow, an Indie pro writer, gives 5 steps she took after her ebook was stolen.

Book reviews can help a book sell. Savvy Book Writers explain how to get reviews before your book is published, and Anne R. Allen spells out why never to use paid reviews and a thoughtful look at some other reviewing issues at Amazon.

Professional writing is a business. Marcy Kennedy discusses creating an author business plan. Part of that business plan should include an author website, and Joanna Penn delineates author website must-haves and some technical setup information to optimize your site as well as how to create an effective mobile-friendly website.

Published writers continue to learn and develop as writers. Jeanine Henning provides tips to evolve as a writer and find more readers.


Contrary to what people today prefer to see in children’s stories, John F. Ptak points out the death and mayhem in books made for children like the New England Primer.

Dahlia Adler suggests 6 YA books for Russophiles.

Electric Literature provides a fascinating infographic: a history of pen names.

Continuing with the history theme, here’s a study of five Cockney poets, from Milton to Keats. In addition, Mimi Matthews tells the story of Bounce, Alexander Pope’s devoted Great Dane, who not only served as his muse but also saved the poet’s life.

Code Gigas: the “Devil’s Bible” is the largest and most mysterious Medieval manuscript ever found.

Strong female characters are becoming more prevalent in video games as well as in written fiction. Here’s a video study of positive female characters in video games — Jade from Beyond Good & Evil.

That wraps it up for this week. Enjoy the long weekend!

Spring flowers


  1. Thank you for including my article on Bounce, the Devoted Great Dane of Alexander Pope!


  2. Thanks for all of this helpful information.


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