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Recommended Reading

Practical advice for editing and revising your own work:


How To Grow and Novel Stein







Stein on Writing

Sol Stein: Stein on WritingHow to Grow a Novel

You cannot do better than master editor Sol Stein’s practical, invaluable books on the craft of the craft. Clear, understandable advice on every element of creating a novel by one of the best in the business.

Writing the Breakout Novel -- Donald Maass

Donald Maass: Writing the Breakout Novel Workbook

Maass’s book by the same name is a helpful resource for authors, but the workbook is filled with hands-on, practical exercises to help you hone areas like character motivation, plot, tension, etc.

The Chicago Style Manual

The Chicago Manual of Style

Every author should know how to properly use his or her tools tools, and prime among those is grammar. This industry-standard reference book is well laid out and presents clear, practical explanations for correct language use in everything from basic grammar rules to what to capitalize, what to italicize, what to hyphenate, and thousands of other minute points that the professional writer needs to know. The exhaustive index allows you to quickly find exactly what you’re looking for.

More of My Favorite Books on Writing:

Lisa Cron: Story Genius
Lisa Cron: Wired for Story
James Wood: How Fiction Works
Brenda Ueland: If You Want to Write
Stephen King: On Writing
Anne Lamott: Bird by Bird
Elizabeth Berg: Escaping into the Open
Natalie Goldberg: Writing Down the Bones
Ursula K. Le Guin: Steering the Craft
Michael Hauge: Writing Screenplays That Sell (not just for screenwriters!)  
Steven James: Story Trumps Structure
Steven James: Troubleshooting Your Novel

Story Genius -- Lisa Cron Wired for Story Lisa Cron How Fiction Works James Wood If You Want to Write - Brenda Ueland Stephen King -- On Writing Bird by Bird -- Anne Lamott
Escaping into the Open -- Elizabeth Ber Writing Down the Bones -- Natalie Goldberg Steering the Craft -- Ursula K LeGuin Writing Screenplays Story Trumps Structure Troubleshooting Your Novel


Grammar Girl
Where to go for pithy, easy-to-absorb answers to vexing issues of grammar.

The Oatmeal
Not all of the Oatmeal’s hilarious comics relate to grammar, but the ones that do are a really fun way to remember bugaboos like i.e. versus e.g., or how to use a semicolon. (And if you get sidetracked into Matthew Inman’s other entertaining comics, quizzes, or blogs you won’t be sorry.)

Writers in the Storm:
Great advice on craft from experienced authors and editors

Women Writers, Women's Books:
A trove of great articles and interviews by and with top authors, editors, and agents. Great for craft and the business of the business.


Dabblers vs. Doers

Dan Blank is an author and marketing specialist who works with creative people to help them connect with their audience and share their work. His weekly newsletter blog posts are a treasure trove of ideas and inspiration for creative people, and his book Be the Gateway is a refreshing way of looking at the process of finding and making meaningful connections with your intended audience--not just peddling product. In his inspiring podcasts, he talks with creative people about how they made the leap from talking about their creative goals to achieving them.

The Story Blender: Bestselling suspense author Steven James, interviews authors, filmmakers, comedians, artists, and other creative people about storytelling. This podcast is full of anecdotes, insights, and secrets of great storytelling in any genre.

Writing Excuses: Seminars that dive into many aspects of craft and business. Each individual podcast is only 15 minutes or less, and include writing assignments.

The Writer's Market Podcast is also good, as is Beautiful Writers, although it’s more inspirational than about craft.

Blondie and the Brit: This podcast features writers talking to writers.

Creative Writing: A Master Class offers free podcasts of more than 40 authors--like Toni Morrison, Joyce Carol Oates, John Updike, Gore Vidal, and many more--talking about the craft of writing.

First Draught (Mary Chris Escobar): This site's description tells you what you need to know: "The craft of writing with craft beer, bourbon, and books."

Researching agents, publishers,
self-publishing services, etc.

When considering hiring any professional to help you create, publish, or market your manuscript, make sure you check out the services you’re considering. I have published a doc with some tips for what to look for, where to look, what to ask, etc. here,

SFWA Writer Beware A helpful resource that serves as a guide to publishers and publishing professionals—with warnings for those with verifiable track records of unethical behavior. 

Absolute Write Water Cooler This forum lets you see feedback and evaluations from people who have had experiences with a wide variety of industry professionals. Lots of existing threads here on hundreds of companies and people, so make sure you do a search before you start a new one.

Publisher’s Marketplace  Some good info to be found here about member agents, editors, publishers, etc.

The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America has wonderful advice and guidance about selecting agents to query.


Now you know who to query; the next question is how. There is loads of advice about this online, much of it by agents and publishers and experienced authors. Here are a few to get you started:

The Nelson Literary Agency In a column on the right on this page of Kristin Nelson’s blog, you will see sections for query letters, with some examples and great guidelines.

Nathan Bransford, formerly an agent and now an author, also offers great advice.

Agent Query offers a list of agents, along with what they represent, how they prefer to be contacted, and other info about them, and features some tools for tracking your queries. There is also a good article on this site about getting started in the process. 

Query Tracker is a similar site. 

Here's a page that features successful query letters--the ones that got their authors their agents. 

If you want hands-on, one-on-one query help, I recommend author MM Finck’s service the Query Quill. As an interviewer for the Agents' Corner segment for Women Writers, Women['s] Books magazine and community, frequent moderator of agent panels at writers' conferences, and award-winning author of the article  "Successful Querying: It's Not All About the Letter,” Finck has the experience to help authors know how to catch an agent’s eye.

Great advice for authors:

Jennifer Weiner, for beginning authors.

Jim Butcher, Digging your way out of middle-of-the-book sag.

Opening lines at The Atlantic.

Have a favorite craft book, podcast, or Web site? I’m always happy to hear about it and consider it for inclusion. Send me a note here.

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