Advice For Writers 2016-10-25T00:59:48+00:00

Resources for Writers

Predators and Editors – a fairly up to date listing of agents, including the ones you should steer clear of and why.
Agent Query – an excellent, up to date listing of agents and submission guidelines. Also gives free tips on query formatting and submissions.

Gotham Writers Workshop – This website exists to sell you all kinds of things (workshops, books, editing services) which may or may not interest you. However, the writers toolbox section has some very good free articles, tools, and resources for writers. The character development template can be very helpful for new writers.
Writers Digest – This site is chock full of resources, some free, some not but their annually updated 101 Best Resources for Writers list is terrific.
Book TV – This is the website for the C-Span 2 program and gives schedules for author talks (alas, only non-fiction authors) and a wonderful listing of bookfairs taking place across the country.

Those who live near Westport, Connecticut might want to consider taking courses from the Westport Writer’s Workshop. I haven’t been through the program myself, but it looks interesting and may be exactly what some of you need to shift your writing into high gear.
As every writer knows, the internet can be an incredible research tool. It can also be an incredible time-sucker, distracting you from doing the one thing you truly need to do to make it in the writing biz – write. Freedom is an app that will allow you to block the internet for a time of your choosing, from 15 minutes to 8 hours. It really is my “secret weapon” for keeping on deadline and probably the best $10 I’ve ever spent. If you don’t want to full internet blockage but find Facebook just too tempting, you can try “Anti-Social”, which will only block your social media.

The Author’s Guild has been the published writer’s advocate for effective copyright, fair contracts, and free expression since 1912. I am a member of this organization.
I am proud to be a member of the Romance Writers of America. A helpful and very well organized group, the RWA sponsors conferences, contests, and workshops for writers. This is the national website, but you may want to look for a local chapter so you can connect with other writers in your area.
Mystery Writers of America – the name says it all.
Novelists Inc. – this is an association for professional, multi-published authors in any and all genres. To join, you must have published two or more books. Detailed membership qualifications are listed on the site.

If you’re like me (and since you’re here in the writer’s section, I’m sure you are), you ran out of bookshelf space long ago. However, if you were able to squeeze in a few more volumes in your library, I recommend you get one, or all, of these. And if you can’t find any more room on your shelves, consider piling them on the floor. Books stacked in piles twenty-six to thirty-two inches high make excellent places to put your coffee cup or spare pens. Trust me, I know what I’m talking about.

Writing Fiction: The Practical Guide from New York’s Acclaimed Creative Writing School
This is by the people at the Gotham Writers Workshop. I like it because it has lots of excercises and I think you get to be a better writer by writing as often as possible. This is a text I use when I’m giving workshops. However, there are many other similar types of books that are just as good. Look for books that get you writing!

Fiction Writer’s Workshop by Josip Novakovich
Another great book that will get you writing. Very good for beginners.

Word Menu
by Random House/Webster
This is an all in one dictionary/thesaurus/almanac. Very useful. It sits on my desk every day.

The Describer’s Dictionary by David Gramb
This is somewhat like a thesaurus, but so much more than that. It gives an unbelievable number of ways to describe everything from buildings to bodies, and shapes to shadows, and includes short phrases as well as longer excerpted examples from literature. Another book that occupies prime real estate on my desk.

The Oxford English Dictionary
You can’t go wrong with the classics. ‘Nuff said.

The Elements of Style by William Strunk Jr., E.B. White, and Roger Angel
Probaby you already have this because your high school or college English teacher made you get a copy. It’s not exciting, but if you’re going to write you should understand the rules of grammar and punctuation. However, it’s all right to occasionally break the rules if you are doing so intentionally, as a literary statement or device (though copy editors will and have disagreed with me on this).

Knit Together: Finding God’s Pattern for Your Life by Debbie Macomber
This isn’t exactly a writing book, but these essays about Debbie Macomber’s uphill journey from shy, dyslexic child to an author who has placed number one on every bestseller list will inspire you. Her charm, wit, and audacious determination in the face of incredible obstacles will remind you what every author or would be author needs to know — it IS possible.

On Writing by Stephen King
Part writing workshop, part memoir. This is definitely worth having in your library and its now available in paperback, so it’s a bargain.

This section comes last because it is the very last thing you have to think about. Many times, new writers worry about selling their book before they’ve even finished the first chapter. I have to admit, I was the same way when I was starting out. I urge you to take the good advice that someone gave me many years ago “spend five times as much effort worrying about writing a good book as you do about selling it and you’ll have five times the chance of selling your book when the time comes.” (In my case, it took ten times as much effort.) Remember, it IS possible!

Guide to Literary Agents
This is a must have. Yes, you can probably get more up to date information online, but there are some excellent articles about writing query letters and lots of tips and samples. If it’s too expensive, your local library should have a copy. Make sure you have the most recent edition; contact information for agents changes constantly.

Writer’s Market
Similar to the above and by the same publisher, this lists all kinds of markets for your writing and many helpful essays. Again, make sure your copy is current. This information changes quickly.

Jeff Herman’s Guide to Book Publishers, Editors & Literary Agents
If you were only going to get one book on this subject, this is the one I’d recommend. When I was looking for an agent, this was the book that showed me how. The only thing is, you have to do what it says. I noticed a review on that said this was a good book, but complained at length about the odds of getting published. Do not let those odds discourage you! It is possible to get published even in today’s competitive world. But be patient and diligent. There are no shortcuts to the process but it’s definitely worth the trip!