Posted by: Gwendolyn Huber | October 24, 2017

A Disorganized Mind

“I have a terrible sense of direction because I have a disorganized mind.”
We were strangers, sitting on lawn chairs on the side of a hill in the summer heat. A terrific live band played in the distance.
“You probably have a great sense of direction,” my new acquaintance continued.
“No,” I joked (I was serious), “sometimes I don’t know which way is up.”
It hadn’t occurred to me that I might have a disorganized mind, but right then, I started to question, what, as a writer, should I do about that?
Here’s my list of things to focus and organize the mind
1. Plan your story well. My detailed outline is my “to do” list of bite-sized projects. Which bite will I work on now?
2. Write down a goal for each writing session. What will I accomplish today?
3. Hold your audience clearly in mind before you start writing. Who am I writing for?
4. Label everything. Make lists and time lines to prevent having to scroll through pages of text for forgotten details. What will I want to remember? What will I want to revise later?
5. Keep all story info in one location. Will I remember where l stored this information a month from today?

Posted by: Kerry Gans | October 19, 2017

Top Picks Thursday! For Writers & Readers 10-19-2017

Welcome to this week’s Top Picks Thursday! Autumn is finally here, with cool temperatures and leaves changing colors. Here’s a pile of writerly links for you to jump into!

SCBWI lists these diversity awards and grants for authors.

Gloria Morgan publishes for a purpose: books for dyslexics.

A school district pulls To Kill a Mockingbird because it makes people uncomfortable.

Charlotte Ahlin has 12 ways you could be getting more out of your local library.

Fall means NaNoWri Mo is just around the corner. Ramona DeFelice Long lists the 5Ws of NaNoWriMo, Emily Morgan shares what she learned from failing NaNoWriMo, Kristen Kieffer shows how to rock NaNoWriMo, and James Scott Bell tells us how to use NaNoWriMo to repo your mojo.


Poetry is known for its beautiful use of language. Melissa Donovan discusses figurative language in poetry writing (and we prose writers can use it, too!).

If you are writing cozy mysteries, Elizabeth S. Craig has things to avoid in a cozy mystery.

We’ve all heard “write what you know.” Kathryn Magendie examines writing what you hope to never know while exploring empathy, perception, and projection.

Beginnings are hard, whether it be getting a new idea, or starting that first chapter. Mary Kole walks us through taking a book idea to the next level, Janice Hardy shows how to brainstorm a great novel hook, and Katy Kauffman tells us how to write a captivating first paragraph.

When writing, we have so many tools to work with, sometimes it is overwhelming. Kathryn Craft urges us to value the outsider’s perspective in our writing, Heather Adams has 5 ways to increase micro-tension, Elspeth Futcher explains how clothes can tell a tale, Michael Mohr reflects on sexual tension in fiction, and Jan O’Hara shares Ruby Dixon’s lessons on how to write sex scenes that readers can’t and won’t skip.

Jami Gold explores the idea that genre is a layer of worldbuilding, Bella Pope discusses 5 huge mistakes ruining the romantic relationships in your book, and Roz Morris focuses on what makes good endings.

We all need editing, whether it be for overall continuity or word choice. Jim Dempsy gives us programs to help keep track of all your novel’s details, Mary Kole reminds us to commit to a detail or omit it, Dale E. Lehman lists the top 4 ways to hone your writing, and Sacha Black shows how to improve your sentences.

Writers need to continuously grow to stay creative. Roz Morris describes how travel feeds creativity, Orly Konig explains why every writer needs writer’s events, and Julie Glover says “never stop learning” should be every writer’s motto.

PJ Parrish explores the question: what do readers really want?, while Shannon A. Thompson takes a look at authors who give up.


Major publishers say ebook sales represent 20% of total sales, while book publishers go back to basics.

Graphic novels are hot. So hot that comic shops fight bookstores in the race to sell graphic novels.

Marketing encompasses everything writers put out to the public. Matt Aird discusses the importance of creating video content, Patricia Moosbrugger tells us how to make the most of a professional book review, and Joan Stewart shows how to write a sassy, snarky, sizzling author resource box.

Much of today’s marketing is done online. Frances Caballo talks platform building and media relations, Rachel Thompson has a Twitter guide to make you see what you’re doing so wrong and how to make it right, and Ali Luke shares 3 simple ways to make your blog posts more conversational.


Looking to move? The house that inspired The Great Gatsby is on the market.

Now  you can read anywhere—Amazon is releasing a waterproof Kindle.

Ever feel weird when you hate books everyone else seems to love? Emily Temple shares 14 classic works of literature that other famous authors hated.

Leonard Cohen’s last book, a book of poetry, will be published next year

Daniel Pollack-Pelzner says you’ve probably never heard of America’s most popular playwright.

Check out these 10 publishing-related facts about Winnie the Pooh.

That’s all for this week’s Top Picks Thursday! See you next week for more writerly links!

Posted by: Kerry Gans | October 12, 2017

Top Picks Thursday! For Writers & Readers 10-12-2017

Welcome to this week’s Top Picks Thursday! We are almost at the midpoint of October, so it’s past time to start thinking about November’s National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo).

Awards lists are pouring in: 2017 National Book Award finalists, 2017 Nobel Prize in Literature predictions, BBC National Short Story Award goes to Cynan Jones, and Northwestern professor and poet Natasha Trethewey wins the $250,000 Heinz Award in Arts and Humanities.

How Glory Edim took Well-Read Black Girl from a homemade t-shirt to a literary movement.

See how a group of “bookworms, retired librarians, grassroots organizers, [and] historic preservationists” saved the Midtown Manhattan Library.

A deeper look into the making (and unmaking) of a 23-hour New York Times best seller.

Debbie Young says to start planning for NaNoWriMo now, K.M. Weiland has a guide to outlining success for NaNoWriMo, and Maggie Wells shares 5 tips for making the most of NaNoWriMo.

Thinking about crowdfunding your project? James Haight has what authors need to know about crowdfunding.

SCBWI tells us how to help Puerto Rico.


Wondering if your YA idea will fly? Cyndy Etler finds out what teens want to read.

Writers must put the whole package together to write a compelling novel—beginning, middle, and end. Janice Hardy has 4 ways to jumpstart your novel, Zoe M. McCarthy reminds us that a great story is more than a string of interesting events, K.M. Weiland lists 4 reasons you’re confused about scene structure, C.S. Lakin explains the dark night moment, and Sara Ridley examines 10 ways to end your novel.

We can have all the structure in the world, but without compelling characters our stories won’t grab the reader. Angela Ackerman asks that your villain have well-developed motivations, Khadijah Lacina shows how to bring a character to life through costume, and Donald Maass explores worldbuilding from the inside out.

Once we’ve written, the editing starts. Rachel Stout shows us some common mistakes writers make, Steve Laube examines the grammatical correctness of the singular “they”, and Mary Kole helps authors find critique partners with her latest Critique Connection.

Writing the book blurb can be one of the hardest tasks writers face. Cait Reynolds demystifies the book blurb.

Kristen Lamb explains why we all need mentors and experts at some points of our writing journey, and Harlan Coben has 5 writing tips for us.

There’s a lot of psychology involved with being a writer. Kristen Kieffer asks if you’re ready to conquer writing overwhelm, James Scott Bell muses on empathy, and Anne R. Allen wonders when you can start to call yourself a “real” writer.


Authors make more money when they cut out the middle man. David Wogahn tells us what to consider when selling ebooks on your own website.

Writers have more choices than ever for publishing these days. Chuck Sambuchino has 4 questions to help you decide if you should self-publish or try to get an agent.

Marketing can be a weight on a lot of writers’ shoulders. Belinda Griffin explains how authors can stop worrying and learn to love book marketing, Sandra Beckworth shares 5 marketing tasks in 5 minutes, Blueink Review has 5 ways attending a publishing conference can help indie authors, and Sharon Bially gives us one important question you may not be asking your publicist.

Amazon and social media can be a powerful combination for book marketing. Sarah Bolme tells us how to make the most of your Amazon Author Page, Jordan Dane discusses Amazon Stores and Amazon Marketing Services, Amy Collins shows how to get reviews, and Belinda Griffin explains how an introvert can crush it on social media.


Since it is October, Emily Temple gives us the 40 creepiest book covers of all time.

There is science behind our search for Waldo.

A startup company is teaching endangered languages.

A printer’s manuscript of the Book of Mormon sells for $35 million.

James Patterson and Bill Clinton’s forthcoming thriller The President is Missing is set to be adapted to TV.

Read the newly discovered Kurt Vonnegut story, and the history behind it.

Two musician sisters claim to have solved the musical mystery in Proust’s In Search of Lost Time.

As sometimes happens, the most “realistic” Civil War novel was written three decades after it ended.

Like secret codes? Check out these hobo signs and code symbols you didn’t know existed.

That’s all for Top Picks Thursday this week! See you back here next week

Posted by: Matt Q. McGovern | October 10, 2017

Stories to be, films to watch

I’m 9 days away from the 26th annual film festival of Philadelphia, an event I usually take a week off of work to attend. I haven’t seen the lineup of films yet though I already have the book for it. Every year I like to retain as much spontaneity as I can regarding the film fest, so I often do not plan for it. There have been some years where I will plan very carefully everything I want to see, but sometimes that leaves me with a feeling of too much organization for vacation time. I’m not sure which I will do this year and I like not knowing.

Each year I try to challenge myself in some way, to see a movie or genre that I haven’t been previously interested in. Sometimes these experiments work and sometimes they do not, though I’m glad I challenged myself in the first place. I cannot know what opportunities I’ll have for challenging myself this year without going through the movie lineup and reading all the movie synopses. I can, however, reflect on previous years and see what challenges I want.

Last year I remember seeing a documentary about the work that local volunteers have done for helping non-documented immigrants with medical assistance. The subject matter was relevant to ongoing discussions in this country as well as around the world. I found myself more than fascinated to see this documentary covering the work of the medical personnel, their struggles, what challenges they have to face now and in the future. Afterwards I got to meet some of them and learned that if I wanted to help there are ways to do it.

This was only one film out of the many documentaries they show every year in the film fest. And it’s not only the documentaries that may reflect relevant hot topics around the world today. The filmmakers of today often target these topics because there’s a story to be found there.

We see news reports from all around the world telling of countries that have been torn apart by war or terrorist attacks. There’s a story of a family that has lived through this, a military group that is left behind and confronted with a possible change of view, a musician/artist who feels it’s their responsibility to perform/create more, a group of friends who continue to party as if there’s nothing wrong.

We see scientists and doctors working on new advancements to cure the deadliest diseases, sometimes that heavily target a particular area of the world. I want to know the viewpoint of a parent who’s lost someone and the child who grew to never stop fighting to find the cure.

I want to see the person who thought they could be the next big star in a country that doesn’t allow it.

A scientist studying the pictures from the Saturn Cassini Probe discovers that there’s someone trying to communicate with us.

A previously thought extinct sea creature pokes its head out from the iceberg that just fell away from Antarctica.

These are the stories that react to the world we live in, and that I’m used to this film fest offering each year.

See you there! 🙂

Posted by: Kerry Gans | October 5, 2017

Top Picks Thursday! For Writers & Readers 10-05-2017

Welcome to the first Top Picks Thursday of October! Fall is finally here, as is another roundup of writerly links!

Kazuo Ishiguro wins the 2017 Nobel Prize for Literature.

Adrian McKinty explores class, race, and the case for genre fiction in the canon.

Donkey-powered mobile libraries in Zimbabwe.


We talk a lot about novels here, but today we have some links for picture book enthusiasts. Melissa Stewart has a nonfiction resource for writing picture books, and Amy Fellner Dominy and Nate Evans share 8 things to know if you want to write a picture book.

Why do readers stop reading some books? Roni Loren explores 3 categories of Did Not Finish.

Scenes are the building blocks of our work. C.S. Lakin lists the 10 key scenes you need to frame up your novel, while Jami Gold examines sexy scenes in two posts: 5 tips for writing dreaded sexy scenes and sexy scenes: door open or door closed?

Our writing won’t get far without compelling characters. K.M. Weiland has 4 ways to amplify your characters’ subtext, Kimberly Brock shares a writer’s perspective on point of view, and Lisa Betz wonders if your characters are too consistent.

Revision brings out the best in our work. A teacher lists all of the revision prompts they have used to teach revision, Diane O’Connell discusses drafting vs. crafting while revising, and Erika Liodice tells us how to find the right developmental editor for your book.

A lot of being an author is deciding how much of ourselves to present to the public. Some authors use pen names, but Anne R. Allen has 5 reasons not to have a pen name in the digital age. Other authors battle emotional demons. Melissa Donovan says how to circumvent writer’s block, and Nathan Bransford advises how to defeat imposter syndrome.

Writing can be a joy, but it can also be psychologically draining. When that happens, we can lose our creativity, our reason for writing, and even our health. K.M. Weiland lists 6 lifestyle changes you can make to protect creativity, Jennifer Probst practices writing naked, Benjamin Thomas reminds us that in writing, it is the journey that matters; and Emily Wenstrom talks self-care for writers.


Audiobooks are hot right now. Joel Friedlander interviews Hannah Wall and Kate Tilton about ACX University and audiobooks.

Most authors have websites now, but what happens when you get hacked? Jim Stewart has 9 tips for recovering your Google rankings after a site hack.

Steve Laube explains when a book becomes public domain, Bob Hostetler advises you to know your genre, and Judith Briles shows what to do when the trolls come out to review.

Marketing can be a confusing issue for many an author. Jane Friedman says to go local with book marketing. Reedsy has a searchable database of book promotion services. If you do a book promotion, Martin Cavannagh advises authors to use multi-tiered strategies to gain maximum exposure. Once we have sufficient books written, SFF Podcast shares 12 ways to keep your backlist selling and maintain a steady income.

Online is the most efficient way to connect with readers. Scott La Counte has Facebook tips for indie authors, Chris Syme explains why he is cutting back on Facebook ads, Penny Sansevieri lists 20 secrets for savvy search engine optimization, and Frances Caballo has 3 basic rules of social media plus 5 best practices.


Check out these 17 facts about words that will low-key blow your mind.

Ellie Bate has 11 photos that will infuriate book lovers, then 11 more to make it all better.

That’s all for this week’s Top Picks Thursday! See you next week!

Posted by: Kerry Gans | September 28, 2017

Top Picks Thursday! For Writers & Readers 09-28-2017

Welcome to this week’s Top Picks Thursday! Hard to believe it is already the last Top Picks in September.

Check out the longlist for the 2017 National Book Awards for Young People’s Literature.

Got a young reader who is reluctant? Try these 19 little tricks guaranteed to get your kids to read.

Celebrate 150 years of illustrator Arthur Rackham, who brought children’s books to life.

With the world feeling on edge these days, take a look at James Baldwin’s lesson for teachers in a time of turmoil.

We at the Author Chronicles love a good library! Frederick Wiseman’s movie Ex Libris is a vivd portrait of NYC’s libraries, and Katherine Rivard has a bibliophile’s guide to National Park Libraries in America.

For Banned Book Week, Christine Hauser brings us the top 10 banned books of 2016.

Andrew Stern tells us what writers need to know about taxes.

Always on the lookout for publishing opportunities? Investigate these 10 major book publishers always open to submissions.


Authors wear a lot of hats these days, and there are tools to help us get things done. Martn Cavannagh shares 7 online tools for writers and authors, and Ian Hooper has 6 tips to help indie authors format a print book with Word.

Writers deal with craft skills large and small. Lesley A. Diehl discusses serious themes in cozy mysteries, Liz Rufiange lists 7 types of conflict found in books readers obsess over, and Julie Moffett shares 8 tips on writing a series.

Other elements of stories include structure and metaphor. Jami Gold investigates what a story’s climax should include, Mary Kole looks at subplots, Kristen Lamb handles flashbacks, and Stavros Halvatizis explores visual metaphors.

Aside from all those overarching elements, authors have to get the details right. Amber Massey has 5 tips for creating fictional languages, E.L. Skip Knox tells us how to cross a river, Jeffrey “Hammerhead” Philips gives us tips on writing an underwater scene, and Linda Kang shares a historical novel research to-do list.

Character building and world building are intertwined skills. Mary Kole talks about creating compelling consequences for characters, E.M.A. Timar shows how to use clichés as building blocks to character, and Holly West describes world-building through your characters’ eyes.

Editing is vital to writing well, so it’s important to do it right. Sarah Moore tells us when NOT to hire an editor, Jeff Lyons has questions to ask before hiring an editor, Joel Friedlander gives us all we need to know about hyphens, em-dashes, and en-dashes; Anna Davis discusses how to effectively read your first draft for review, and Zoe M. McCarthy explores automated editing tools.

We are all trying to be more creative, more productive, and still stay sane. Ruth Harris describes 6 ways process goals help us write our book and stay sane, Dr. Chris Gilbert talks about how creativity can help you be healthier, and science suggests happy music for writer’s block.

Examining successful authors can help us map our own career. Ellen McCarthy talks to author Sandra Boynton, and Frederick Johnson shares 5 ways J.K. Rowling can help you improve your writing.


Susan Spann advises about the hidden danger of short-form contracts in publishing.

Authors need to know a lot about publishing these days, particularly if you are an indie author. Amy Collins explains why you shouldn’t limit your book distribution, Melinda Clayton finds out if you need different ISBNs for CreateSpace and Ingram, and Janet Reid tells us what a “writer’s CV” is.

Clare Langley-Hawthorne discusses how to craft a saleable premise, Pamela Hodges has 3 keys to avoid the rejection pile, and Janet Reid tells us if we should reveal a book’s secret in a query.

Marketing is a major part of an author’s career now. C. Hope Clark examines how to go from author to sales person, Mark Ellis shows how persistence can lead to book placements, Crystal Burton walks us through how to host a cover reveal, Frances Caballo tells us how to host a Goodreads giveaway, and Diana Forbes has 7 ways to create buzz for your book.

The internet is a great way to connect with your readers. Colin Newcomer shares 4 content upgrade plugins and tools for WordPress, Frances Caballo lists 3 ways to use hashtags as an author, Larry Alton explains how to establish your brand on Pinterest and make it popular, and Sherry Ficklin has 5 easy steps to hone your Instagram.


Examine the heartbreaking keepsake book made by a Jewish teen in 1941 for his boyfriend before the teen was murdered at Auschwitz.

Sometimes walking in the footsteps of an author can bring new insight. Alex Ross takes a walk in Willa Cather’s prairie.

Most writers are avid readers. Adiba Jaigirdar has 5 tips for reading multiple books at one time, and Emily Shwake shares 6 practical book hacks every reader will love.

Claudine van Hensberg explains why the Jane Austen £10 extends a “ladylike” history of British money.

You can visit a reproduction of Sir Terry Pratchett’s study at the Salibury Museum.

How one author at the turn of the century popularized football for white, wealthy boys.

The State Archives of North Carolina brings us an article about deciphering early American 17th-18th century handwriting.

In 1911, Gertrude Bell wrote a diary of her journey from Damascus to Aleppo via Baghdad, and the diary has now been digitized for all to read.

The convoluted history of the Ampersand.

“A” might be for “Apple” now, but once upon a time children used to learn about death and damnation with their ABCs.

Writer Upton Sinclair almost became the first elected celebrity politician when he ran for governor of California.

Even with all the words we have, sometimes it’s hard to find the right one. Researchers want to revive these 30 antiquated English words.

J.R.R. Tolkien’s childhood fascination with dragons gave us one of the most memorable villains ever in The Hobbit.

The true crime story of Mary Voce, who inspired writer George Eliot.

An infographic that explores Mary Wollstonecraft’s legacy.

These bookmobiles used real horsepower! Meet the women who rode miles on horseback to deliver library books.

That’s all for this week’s Top Picks Thursday! We’ll see you in October!

The Author Chronicles is pleased to welcome author Donna Galanti, who shares with us some of her awesome marketing tips–and gives you a chance to win some personalized marketing advice!

Take it away, Donna!


10 Ways To Build Your Subscriber List BEFORE Your Book Comes Out PLUS Win a Website Critique & AMA with Author Donna Galanti!

Why do you need a subscriber list? It’s the only community list you own!

You don’t own your social media followers but you do own your email list. It’s your direct line to people interested in you! What if Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook went away? How would you reach your followers? Through email! Only a small percent of your social media followers see your posts (like 2%). So, whether you have a blog or do a newsletter (or both), your email list puts you in front of potential readers.

 Get Building!:

  1. Start with who you know. Ask all your friends and family to sign up. Sending a personal email or Facebook message request gets a higher engagement response than sending a mass email.
  2. Do a book giveaway! Glean your bookshelves for gently-used books in your genre to giveaway. Use Rafflecopter (free) and offer extra entries to the contest for those who follow you on social media or sign up for your newsletter.
  3. Do joint giveaways using Rafflecopter with other authors in your genre. Each author chips in a few $$ to include a gift card. The more that participate, the more cross-promotion to gain more followers. Again, offer extra entries to the contest for those who follow you on social media or sign up for your newsletter.
  4. Power of a free story in exchange for subscribers. Offer a free story when potential readers reach your website or blog to sign up. This is called a lead magnet. Don’t have one? Write one! Could be a side story about your characters or a new story in the same genre. Create in a PDF. Get an inexpensive eye-catching cover on
  5. Create a call-to-action in your website banner or in your blog. “Get My Free Story! Sign up here.” Using pronouns like “my” or “your” gets a higher response of engagement.
  6. If you do in-person events like panels, readings, or group events then have a physical sign-up sheet. Mention it before and after the event and how they can get a free story as well.
  7. Add your list opt-in everywhere. On your Facebook author page. As the link in your Instagram or Pinterest profile. Add it to your email signature. At the end of each blog post.
  8. Add a welcome or exit pop-up on your site. When a user arrives, or is about to leave your site, they will get a pop-up that prompts them to opt-in to your list.
  9. Add an option for your readers to share your newsletter in the newsletter itself.
  10. Include social media share buttons on each blog post.

Donna Galanti is the author of the paranormal suspense Element Trilogy and the children’s fantasy adventure Joshua and The Lightning Road series. Donna is a contributing editor for International Thriller Writers the Big Thrill magazine and blogs with other middle grade authors at Project Middle Grade Mayhem. She’s lived from England as a child, to Hawaii as a U.S. Navy photographer. Donna enjoys teaching at conferences on the writing craft and marketing and also presenting as a guest author at elementary and middle schools. Visit her at and She also loves building writer community. See how at

Connect with Donna:

GIVEAWAY (click here to enter)

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and 1-hour Ask-Me-Anything Consult Package!

Learn the strengths and weakness of your online presence and ask me anything face-to-face!

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Posted by: J. Thomas Ross | September 21, 2017

Top Picks Thursday! For Writers & Readers 09-21-2017

*Once more we watch with overflowing hearts as so many lives are impacted by Hurricane Maria and the earthquake in Mexico. The Author Chronicles hopes that relief will come soon and recovery and rebuilding will progress as quickly as possible — and that we have seen the end of such disasters for this year.*

Welcome to this week’s Top Pick’s Thursday!

Can you believe it’s the last day of summer? With predictions for 90° weather here this weekend, it won’t feel much like autumn. We do hope cool weather moves in soon so the conditions no longer favor fierce hurricanes. If you’d like to do something for writers affected by this weather, Rebecca Renner encourages supporting Florida writers by buying their books: 30 books by Florida writers affected by Hurricane Irma.

The community of writers is amazing. If you’re a writer who hasn’t yet become part of it, Suzanne Purvis spells out the benefits of writerly camaraderie.

Something for parents: Nora Krug shares tips on how to get kids to look away from their books and take pleasure in reading.

Something for writers: Joanna Penn reveals lessons learned from 6 years as an author entrepreneur, and Phyllis Smallman has suggestions for writing in the small spaces.

If you don’t think your life is interesting enough to spark great story ideas, Ivy Grimes writes about 4 everyday events that inspired famous writers.

Are you participating in NaNoWriMo? Bill Ferris reminds us there are only 45 shopping days left to NaNoWriMo, while Jennie Nash takes a look at fast-draft writing for NaNoWriMo and every other month.

Sooner or later we all need help, but too often we hesitate to ask for it. Aimie K. Runyan makes a good point — and not just for writers — if you don’t ask, the answer is always no.

Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash, The Author Chronicles, pen and notebook, Top Picks Thursday

Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash


Anyone thinking of writing has to make a number of choices. To help you decide what form you want to write, Nils Ödlund stresses 5 things to consider when writing a novella, Joanna Penn presents writing memoir with Roz Morris, Kim Alexander advocates breaking the same olde fantasy stereotypes to put the fan back in fantasy, and Hannah Kent wonders how much actual history do you need in your historical novel? In addition, Anja de Jager lists practical hints and tips on writing a series.

Whether you’re a pantser or plotter, Sarah Ahiers recommends pre-work (basic project planning) to achieve your best work, and C. S. Lakin explains how you can avoid making structural mistakes in your novel.

The plot forms the basic structure of a story. K. M. Weiland catalogs 5 tips for organizing subplots, James Scott Bell explores how to cure mid-novel sag, and Jami Gold demystifies what our story’s climax should include.

To help you craft effective characters, Laurence MacNaughton shares 6 ways to make readers fall in love with your characters, and Kristen Lamb shares tips for creating villains audiences can’t get enough of.

Conversations between characters add life to stories. To help with the finer points of character dialogue, Stravros Halvatzis explores using deflection in dialogue, and Mike Cooper gives 5 tips on making jargon and tech work in your manuscript.

For those refining their manuscripts, Scott McCormick asserts that the drama is in the details (the humor, horror, and suspense are too), Cait Reynolds suggests using physical distance to up story stakes, pace, and tension, and Kathryn Craft urges writers to say a little less and mean a little more.

Language is the medium all writers use. Terri Pous details 16 ways you may be butchering the English language, and Joel Friedlander lays out everything you need to know about hyphens, en dashes, and em dashes.

If your manuscript is ready for editing, Debbie Young provides a list of standard editing reference books and advice for hiring an editor, Jeff Lyons sets out 5 questions to ask before hiring editing help, and Roz Morris advocates book editing as a form of creative discovery.

Writing non-fiction? Amron Gravett explains why Indie writers of non-fiction need indexes and how to create one.

Ramey Channell writes about avoiding the unmentionable (writer’s block).


For writers seeking an agent, Janet Reid lists 7 quick ways to get your query rejected and answers the question: how do I tell agents I love to revise?

If your manuscript is ready for publication, Jane Friedman shares her publishing industry status report for 2017; and Melissa Bowersock gives the scoop on types of publishers, particularly service publishers, who offer a la carte services; and Amy Dean explains how publishers find their illustrators.

Marketing information: Steve Laube explains marketing vs. publicity, Ben Cameron details book publicity opportunities in newspapers, Seth Dellon differentiates different types of book reviews, and Marcy Kennedy asks: are your book’s ads earning or losing you money?

For Indie authors: Damon Freeman discusses the psychology behind good book cover design, Beth Bacon advises don’t upload your ebook to an online bookstore without reviewing this checklist, and David Kudler presents 5 tips for validating your ebook (a bit technical, but important for self-publishers).

Confused by conflicting advice on using social media? Jane Friedman explains why social media is so hard to advise authors on. Want to make your time on social media more productive? Alfred Lua gives 14 ways to increase your Facebook page engagement, which includes posting less; Anne R. Allen asserts that you need to get rid of popups if you want to increase your blog readership and engagement; and Darren Rowse points out 7 common newsletter problems (and how to solve them).


James Gaines highlights two scientists, Cecilia Bembibre and Matija Strlic, exploring why old book smell is special.

NYU professor and novelist Zadie Smith has been selected to receive the Langston Hughes Medal for Writing.

Laura Hudson describes how some writers progressed from writing Star Wars fan fiction to contributing to the official Star Wars universe.

Isabella Biedenharn reports on a conversation between Sarah Rees Brennan and Maureen Johnson on writing and murder.

Author Libba Bray shares her thoughts on the planned all-female remake of Lord of the Flies, while James Atlas addresses the trials and triumphs of writing Saul Bellow’s biography while he was still alive.

Brigit Katz tells us that lost languages have been found in one of the world’s oldest continuously run libraries and how we can brush up on ancient Akkadian with a new online dictionary.

That’s all for this week’s Top Picks Thursday. See you in the fall (next week)!

Photo by Dan Gold on Unsplash, The Author Chronicles, laptop and coffee, Top Picks Thursday

Photo by Dan Gold on Unsplash

Posted by: Nancy Keim Comley | September 19, 2017


The week before school started my family and I took our summer vacation at the Jersey Shore. For five days we walked and lolled about on the beach, read and played silly games. It was glorious.

On the first night my daughter gave me one of her favorite manga’s to read (she had brought more books than clothes). She was impatient for me to read it so we could talk about the stories. For those who don’t know what manga is (like me before my daughter arrived) it’s a Japanese comic based on a style developed in the late 19th century (thanks, wikipedia). Written in Japanese by Japanese creators, though they may be translated into English, their original format is usually kept intact.

What does this mean? Japanese is read from right to left so my daughters’ manga were from right to left.

Have I mentioned that I’m dyslexic?

Well, I am. Usually not a problem thanks to the Pennsylvania school system but when attempting to read from right to left my brain at first tied itself into a granny knot. After several squeaks of confusion my daughter chose a shorter one and carefully showed me how to read from right to left. It took a long time and I still had some moments of confusion trying to sort out which picture goes where in a sequence, but finally I was able to read the book.

Delighted with my progress, my daughter then brought over her entire Cardcaptor Sakura collection (four books, each about two inches thick). These I’m reading s-l-o-w-l-y, but I’m reading. The art is beautiful and the story engaging and we’ve been talking about it, which was the original point.

My brain feels stretched and tired after reading these for a while, but isn’t that the entire point of a good book?

Posted by: Kerry Gans | September 14, 2017

Top Picks Thursday! For Writers & Readers 09-14-2017

*The Author Chronicles hopes all those impacted by Irma, Harvey, and the wildfires out West are able to find peace and safety and begin the process of rebuilding.*

Welcome to this week’s Top Picks Thursday!

Something every author needs to know: How to register your book’s copyright.

It’s September, so that means NaNoWriMo is just around the corner. Alysia W. Morales has your 6-week prep plan for NaNoWriMo.

Words matter. Stories have power. Detroit redefines itself by hiring America’s first official “chief storyteller.


Check out 7 offensive mistakes well-intentioned writers make.

This week, Jeff Lyons finishes his series Don’t Believe These Writing Myths, with the top 5 worst advice myths for writers.

Stories feed on conflict, and every scene must have some. Janice Hardy explores why your story conflict isn’t working and how to fix it, and Mary Kole examines how to know which scenes to include in your novel.

Joyce Scarbrough shares 7 tips for writing great love scenes, Nancy L. Erikson explains how to conflate and tighten your story, and Sunny Singh reminds us to dissect how your characters inhabit their world.

We often talk about single protagonists driving a story, but what about when you have more than one? H.M. Bouwman talks about writing with an ensemble cast. And no matter how many protagonists you have, your book will have its share of minor characters, too. Michele Jones digs into the role of minor characters, and Donald Maass looks at secondary characters as part of the journey.

Crime fiction can be gritty in its realism. AJ Waines discusses the limits of using “real life” in crime fiction, and Margot Kinberg explores police and PIs in fiction who are set up to fail.

Get the creative process flowing. Helen Scheuerer shows how authors can use Pinterest for fiction writing and novels, Melissa Donovan lists 23 creative writing activities that don’t involve writing, and Sarah Moore gives us an easy trick for nipping creative fear in the bud.


Freelancing is a great career for some people, while others need to have a day job. Danielle Corcione explains why she quit freelancing, went to 9 to 5, and then went back.

Do you have a book that would work best if it could lay flat (think workbook, cookbook, coloring book)? Joel Friedlander discusses lay flat binding options for your book.

If you are querying, you need two things to catch an agents eye: a great title and a great query letter. Jody Rein and Michael Larsen discuss how to title your nonfiction book. Some authors think adding blurbs to your query is a good way to make it stand out, but Janet Reid explains why asking for blurbs at the query stage is a waste of resources.

Marketing knows no seasons, but marketing campaigns do. Joan Stewart explores how to tie your marketing into winter, spring, summer, or fall for timely book hooks, and Kevin Coolidge talks about selling a book to independent booksellers. Peggy J. Shaw tells how to get the word out about your book, Janet Reid looks at how not to be a bone-head promoter, and Diana Urban shares 119 book marketing ideas that can help authors increase sales.

Sydney Mathieu asks why authors should care about digital marketing, Jane Friedman wonders what’s more important: author website or social media, Publisher’s Weekly discusses reaching YA readers where they are online, Allison Tait explores whether podcasts help sell books, and Chris Syme has 5 reasons to be a social media minimalist.


In an interesting court case, a judge rules that a verse of “We Shall Overcome” is not under copyright.

As if we authors didn’t already have a hard time conveying emotions in our work: Scientists pinpoint 27 states of emotion.

Bet you didn’t know that these 10 books were written on a bet.

That’s all for this week’s Top Picks Thursday! See you back here next week for more writerly links.

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