No author is an island, and I wouldn’t be as far on my path to publication as I am today without a great many resources, both on- and off-line. This section of my site is devoted to listing those resources I find most helpful in the hopes that other writers might find them useful as well. I’ll be adding and updating links on an ongoing basis, so this page will change and expand over time. Visit often for more great advice!
The Big Three
The Writer’s Knowledge Base – Fed by Elizabeth S. Craig’s famous tweets, this database is a writer’s dream. It’s the Google of blog posts and articles online related only to writing. If you have a writing-related question, search here first BEFORE Googling it and save yourself a lot of time.
National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) – So many successful authors’ number-one piece of advice to the aspiring is to Just. Write. Nothing helps writers get the hang of writing volume faster than participating in NaNo. Not to mention, NaNo provides an instant connection to thousands of other writers, many of them in your own neighborhood, which means instant critique partners! But the biggest benefit of NaNo is gaining the butt-in-chair skills needed to actually produce novel-length stories.
Twitter – Yes, for writers. In fact, I’m in so deep with the Twitter writing community now, that I can’t even conceptualize the idea that NON-writers might actually be dabbling in Twitter as well. If you want to become a contender, do yourself a favor and get thee to Twitter. You’ll find agents, editors, publishing houses, other writers, book reviewers, publicists, book cover designers, and more in 140 characters or less. The insight is priceless, the advice endless. Twitter was my jumping off point for learning the industry. I have an agent because of Twitter. For an in-depth, easily navigable compendium about HOW aspiring authors can best use Twitter to grow their skills (both writerly and publishing), check out Debbie Ridpath’s (@inkyelbows) Twitter Guide for Authors & Illustrators.
Kidlit.com – Mary Kole, agent extraordinaire, keeps a fabulous blog with info about writing children’s and YA lit. I’m listing it under general writing, because nine times out of ten, her advice is universal for all genres. She mostly writes about more advanced writing-craft concepts, like physical clichés and interiority.
Beth Revis’s New Approach to Faster Writing – This is a link I found relatively recently detailing Beth’s experimental pre-planning method for increasing word count to as much as 6K a day. Great food for thought, especially for pantsers.
Neil Gaiman’s Commencement Address – Definitely worth a watch. All his descriptions of how things work for an artist seem to bear out in my experience so far. And he shares some great pearls of wisdom for succeeding in the arts.
7 Setting Basics that Can Bring a Story to Life – This is a post from the wonderfully helpful Jody Hedlund’s blog. Her advice is always specific and easy to incorporate.
How to Make Your Reader Cry: Anatomy of a Death Scene – This post is by a debut author friend of mine, and it makes me cry every time I read it! That’s right–just the post itself makes me cry. If you’re thinking of writing a death scene, you can’t afford to pass up this post.
Urban Dictionary – The KING of crowd-sourced slang. Not that you necessarily want to use an overabundance of slang in your prose, as it gets outdated quickly. But sometimes you just need to stop repeating the word “thug” over and over, and Urban Dictionary is all up in your grill with its mad thesaurusizing skillz, dawg.
OneLook Reverse Dictionary – Perfect for when the perfect word is on the tip of your tongue but you just can’t think of it. If you know the word’s general meaning, you can use this dictionary to get the word that matches that meaning. I often use this as an additional thesaurus.
Scrivener – If you’re a Mac person, I can say from experience that Scrivener is by far the best tool for organizing large writing projects, such as novels, nonfiction tomes, research papers, and more. If you’re a PC person, there’s also a Scrivener version for Windows. I haven’t used the Windows version myself, but I’m sure it is just as awesome as the Mac version. There’s also a Scrivener mobile app that syncs with your desktop version, allowing you to write on the go! And for terrific in-the-trenches advice about using Scrivener to its fullest potential, go to the blog The Edited Life. Gwen really knows her stuff. I took a class from her and it opened worlds for me.
Evernote – I recently discovered another, more robust program that syncs like My Writing Spot does. My Writing Spot was getting buggy for me on my new phone, so I switched to Evernote and haven’t looked back. Great app! I use it for tons of stuff.
myWriteClub – Use this online app to set word count goals and track your progress. You can also participate in global 25-minute writing sprints with other users. It’s all private, and no one can see what you’re writing, but you can measure your sprint progress against other sprinters with stars and progress bars. It’s a great way to stay focused while drafting.
Word Keeper Alpha – Similar to myWriteClub, this online app tracks your word count progress. This one lets you break your goals up by different projects. There isn’t a global sprint function, but the reporting is more robust than myWriteClub. I use them both.
Write or Die – Another fantastic app that helps you push out the wordcount. This app is perfect for the rough draft stage when the most important thing is puking it all out on the page. Use this app during NaNo to blow the roof off your wordcount goal.
How I Nearly Doubled My Yearly Word Count – Great post packed with tips and recs to writing books for how to increase word count.
AutoCrit Editing Wizard – Use this app to instantly scour your prose for overused words, cliche’s and redundancies, repeated phrases, and other stuff. You can use a limited version of this app for free. You can pay for a year-long membership to unlock additional features (three levels of paid membership). I just use the free version myself.
The 4 Hidden Dangers of Writing Groups – Great post on how to get the most out of your writing group and how to give truly useful feedback to your critique partners.
Grammar Girl – It happens to all of us. You’re staring down the barrel of your fifth straight hour of writing and you’ve suddenly forgotten where the damn comma goes (those commas can be freaking recalcitrant). Anyway, if for some reason you can’t find the answer on MY blog (which also sports the occasional grammar geekery), search Grammar Girl’s site again BEFORE Googling it. The Interwebs, God love ’em, are riddled with errors and LOLspeak and videos where some guy gets hit in the balls while watching a funny cat video. Grammar Girl bypasses all the BS and gets down to brass tacks. I have yet to search for a grammar topic on her site and not find something about it. Also, she is never wrong. Except about serial commas.
Rachelle Gardner’s Blog – Another agent extraordinaire, who often blogs about the process of publishing, from a winning proposal to how a publishing house edits, to how a book gets to the shelf.
Query Shark – A must for anyone beginning the querying process. Query Shark tells it like it is so you don’t have to make the same mistakes other queries make.
Writing Careers: The Business Behind Becoming an Author – Lots of links in this post leading to great information on the skills and education helpful to becoming a published author, as well as career options, self-publishing, how to get an agent, and more! (Thanks to Anna for suggesting this post!)
Publicity/Social Media/Online Presence
WebsiteSetup.org – As an author, you will almost certainly need your own website to advertise your writing. Maybe you don’t have any books published yet, but you could easily start with a blog and an About Me page so that early supporters can find you and learn what you’re all about. It’s not easy to create one’s own website if that’s not your skillset, though. Luckily, there are free tools to help you out, starting with WebsiteSetup.org, which provides step-by-step guides of everything you need to know to build your own site, including recommendations for the best cheap-to-free website builder and hosting sites. Definitely check them out before diving into the exciting world of website creation.
Facebook Fan Pages – If you haven’t already, get yourself a Facebook author page. This different from your regular Facebook page. Your author page is equivalent to a business or “fan” page. To create your own page, go here.
Goodreads – Goodreads is a terrific opportunity to bond with book reviewers. Goodreads denizens are Readers with a capital R. They review and promote books they love, and they read A LOT. It’s helpful to make connections with potential reviewers and find out what blogs they read and/or write reviews for.
Pinterest – Pinterest is a terrific opportunity to bond with potential readers. Create pinboards that show the inspiration you used to write your novels. Pinterest is very much a new frontier, so effective ways to use it for author promotion are still being discovered. Go out and experiment!
Novel Publicity – Novel Publicity offers services for authors looking to outsource their publicity needs, but it also offers a wealth of free information about best practices in social media, scheduling, writing, editing, and whole host of other things. This site is a great resource for writers.
YOU’RE DOING IT WRONG – Thoughts on Publicity – Great advice from a book blogger on how to approach potential reviewers for your book.
How We Got Here – One author’s experience of struggling with failure until one fateful decision made all the difference.
A Debut Lesson: The Trouble with Measuring Success – If you are a published author, read this post at least once a week.
3 Ways to Change Your Thinking Today – The writing and publishing life can be hard on the equilibrium. It’s full of ups and downs, hopes deferred, dreams dashed, dreams realized, ego strokes and debilitating criticism… This blog post talks about the Stockdale Paradox and how to be hopeful even in stressful situations. *cough* querying *cough*