Writing Tips

Blog Me MAYbe: My Favorite Writing Resources

Since today is Monday - that means the topic in our lovely Blog Me MAYbe blogfest, is all about sharing something that has to do with writing!

And what better way to start off the week, than to share some of my most favorite writing resources, be them books or websites?

First up: Favorite craft books on writing:

1. I've already mentioned this one before, but I love Stephen King's ON WRITING.

Goodreads Summary:

"Long live the King" hailed "Entertainment Weekly" upon the publication of Stephen King's "On Writing." Part memoir, part master class by one of the bestselling authors of all time, this superb volume is a revealing and practical view of the writer's craft, comprising the basic tools of the trade every writer must have. King's advice is grounded in his vivid memories from childhood through his emergence as a writer, from his struggling early career to his widely reported near-fatal accident in 1999 -- and how the inextricable link between writing and living spurred his recovery. Brilliantly structured, friendly and inspiring, "On Writing" will empower and entertain everyone who reads it -- fans, writers, and anyone who loves a great story well told.

This is one of my absolute favorite books on the craft of writing for a number of reasons. Not only does Stephen King open the door on how his writing career began (or actually, almost didn't), but he also lays down the honest truth, if writing is what you really want to do. 


Goodreads Summary:

From a top young adult literary agent, the only guide on how to write for young adults 

With an 87 percent increase in the number of titles published in the last two years, the young adult market is one of the healthiest segments in the industry. Despite this, little has been written to help authors hone their craft to truly connect with this audience. Writing Great Books for Young Adults gives writers the advice they need to tap this incredible market.

Topics covered include:

Listening to the voices of youth
Meeting your young protagonist
Developing a writing style
Constructing plots
Trying on points of view

Agent Regina Brooks has developed award-winning authors across the YA genre, including a Coretta Scott King winner. She attends more than 20 conferences each year, meeting with authors and teaching.

Another great resource for writers, specifically those interested in the Young Adult genre. 


Goodreads Summary:

Get schooled in the art of writing fiction for teens

"Writing & Selling the YA Novel" offers a complete lesson plan for writing and publishing fiction for teens. Structured like a day of high school, award-winning young adult novelist K.L. Going takes her students through every stage of YA writing.

Learn how the YA genre has developed in History class. Toss around ideas during Gym. Create authentic teen characters in "English class." Craft convincing plots during Lunch. Add it all up in Math as you learn about agents and contracts. Along the way you'll find plenty of "homework" exercises to help you hone your skills - as well as input from actual teen readers.

At the end of your school day, you'll have all the knowledge a young adult author needs to write a book that speaks to teen readers - and get it published.

I haven't read this one yet, but I've heard many great things - it's definitely on my TBR list. 

And of course, my Favorite Websites:

1. Mary Kole and KidLit.com:

About Me and Kidlit.com

Kidlit.com is an ongoing project for the passionate community of people who read and write children’s literature. My name is Mary Kole. I live in Brooklyn, am an associate agent at the Andrea Brown Literary Agency and write young adult and middle grade of my own. My favorite things about kidlit change almost every day.

Agency Bio

If you want to find out more about me as an agent, please check out my bio on the Andrea Brown Literary Agency website by clicking here.

Not only is this site a fabulous resource for all things Kid Lit - but Mary does an amazing job allowing followers to interact with one another. In fact, thanks to Mary, I met one of my uber critique partners - Heidi S. - through one of Mary's Critique Connection posts a few years ago!  

2. QueryTracker.net

Straight from QueryTracker:

QueryTracker is not just another list of agents. In fact, our agent list is secondary to the real purpose and power of QueryTracker.

QueryTracker.net is a model for what I like to call "Social Data Gathering." Which means each QT user contributes data about their query and agent experiences. Alone, this data does not reveal much, but when combined with the data from our ever-growing membership, we can see trends and identify important aspects of an individual agent's actions.

I've said it a few hundred times before, and I'll keep saying it a million times more...for those in the query letter stage, this site is an invaluable resource.

3. The Write-Brained Network

Welcome to the Write-Brained Network, a writing community dedicated to connecting writers of all genres, stages, and levels.

There are so many talented writers that are a part of this group - not to mention, I head up their YA subgroup - the YAwesome Writers!
Within this subgroup, we've managed to pull together some pretty amazing critique groups, based on sub-genres...so if you're at all interested in finding a great CP, head on over - the more the merrier! 
And I know...it's been awhile since I've been active on this site - and I so need to get on back over there and get with it! If anyone is interested, I'm thinking about starting a query letter workshop of sorts...maybe get a few folks to post their query, for feedback? Help others get started in the process? If this sounds like something that people would be interested in, I'm more than happy to get the ball rolling. 
So pop on over to the WB, sign up if you haven't already, join the YAwesome Writer's subgroup - and let me know!

There you have it - a few of my favorite writing resources! I'm sure I've missed many...so that of course leads me to ask:

What are your favorite writing resources?

RTW #93: How Do You Beat Writer's Block?

Similar to Friday Fives, Road Trip Wednesday is a ‘Blog Carnival,’ hosted by the fabulous ladies over at YA Highway. Each Wednesday, they post a weekly writing - or reading - related question, and I get to answer it here! And this week's topic is something near and dear *insert glaring sideways and growling here* to my heart:

How do you beat writer's block?

Around this time last year, I'd been well under way on a new manuscript (which I'd started last July). However, around 6 weeks into writing it, I started to sputter out. 

Don't get me wrong, I had plenty of ideas of where I wanted the story to go - and being as though I'm more of a pantser style writer, I knew I had options. It's just that I couldn't, for the life of me, bridge the gap from where I was, to where I wanted to take the story. So I put it aside and did other things. And every time I thought about it (which was more often than not, as I was really excited about this one), I'd try to write...but nothing happened. In fact, I used the backspace key more than any other key on my keyboard. It was horrible.

I went from writing 15,000 words a weekend (which when I'm on a roll, roughly equates to my average for 2 days of writing) to nothing. Zero. Zilch. Nadda. Nope. None. Boo.

So what did I do? 

Friday Fives: What Are Five Excuses You're Ready to Give Up?

Yet another amazing topic to discuss today, from the great writerly peeps over at Paper Hangover:

What are FIVE excuses you have to be ready to give up in order to be a better writer?

This one was a tough one for me - hence my long-winded answers below. But sometimes it takes writing things out, to attack them face on. Grip them by the horns and slam them to the ground. And when you read my #5, you'll know why I took on this challenge of facing some of my excuses.

1. Maybe I'll never be good enough. Yikes, nothing like a biggun, right off the bat, right? But here's the deal: while I know this mostly isn't true, otherwise I wouldn't have spent 30+ years writing, there are those days when I absolutely, unequivocally, feel this way. What writer doesn't struggle with this internal conflict (aside from many others)? But like many things I do in life, I take on writing as a challenge. The more I work at it, the better it will become. But I have to work hard. Because the craft of writing only gets better as you go. And the amount of things I'm still learning, never ceases to amaze me. So while I'll have "those days" - I know I've had more that told me I will be good enough. Which means in the end, I like my odds.

Friday Fives: Five Biggest Distractions On The Internet

Oh, this one is a fabulous topic for me, indeed!
When it comes to internet distractions, I'm worse than Dug the Dog in the movie, UP! when he sees the Squirrel!
One of my absolute favorite scenes:
Dug: Hi there. 
Carl Fredricksen, Russell: [surprised exclamations] 
Carl Fredricksen: Did that dog just say "Hi there"? 
Dug: Oh yes. 
Carl Fredricksen: Whaa! 
Dug: My name is Dug. I have just met you, and I love you. 
[he jumps up on Carl] 
Carl Fredricksen: Wha... 
Dug: My master made me this collar. He is a good and smart master and he made me this collar so that I may speak. Squirrel! 
[looks to distance for a few seconds]
And in case you need to see it live, here's the clip on YouTube:

As fellow professional procrastinators writers, we want to know what are FIVE of your most distracting (procrastination-worthy) things (habits, websites, etc.) on the internet?

1. Email: This rings especially true, when I'm in the query process. There simply aren't enough minutes in an hour, where I can refresh my in-box to see if I've received some type of response to my recent queries. Only to step away for a second, then run back to my keyboard with my hair on fire, and refresh again. No OCD here at all. (I hit refresh 14,369 times since I started typing this blog - amazing, huh?).

Friday Fives: Five Things You Can't Live Without When Writing

Yet another fab-u-lous topic to blog about on a sunny day here in Seattle (not often I get to say that!). Today's question from the fine folks over at Paper Hangover:

FIVE things you can't live without when you're writing/revising.

And here are my five:

1. Music. My iPod is with me at all times, no matter what - just like my trusty Moleskin journal. When I'm on my lap top, it's iTunes I have open. Wherever I am, I always have music at my fingertips. However, I don'talways listen to it. It's the idea of having it there, when I need it, be it for white noise or inspiration. But sometimes when I'm in such a zone, I can't have any noise at all. But it's nice to know it's there. And what's playing? Almost can always guarantee it's either Kings Of Leon or One Republic. HUGE fan of both and for some reason, these two bands make my fingers fly across my keyboard. Even when I'm in my car and they're playing on the radio, I can't help but whip out one of my journals and start writing. It's a good thing I'm good at multi-tasking.

Writer's Digest: 3 Ways to Know When to End Your Chapters

Writer's Digest just posted an interesting article this morning, regarding chapters and how to end them to keep your reader begging for more. This has always been an interesting topic for me, considering some of the best novels I've ever read, always had the most amazing chapter endings - pushing me to turn page after page, well into the late hours of the night. In many cases, these said books were ones I finished in just one day.
But how did they accomplish this?
Like many, I'm not a writer that follows the golden rule of partaking in outlines. Sure I have lots of rough notes jotted down here and there - but nothing formal and definitely nothing I force myself to follow to the "T". Which is why I particularly gravitate towards point #3 - a technique I'm constantly trying to master as I work on my own manuscript. What will make the reader keep on reading? What will give them just enough information to want to turn the page?
It's questions like these we need to keep asking ourselves, as we hone the craft of writing and polish up what are sure to be titles on the next NY Times best sellers list. Which leaves me asking more questions: So how do you end your chapters? What tips do you follow?
I'd love to hear your thoughts on this!