Resources that I’ve found helpful on my writing & publishing journey.*
The Beginning Bones
- Five Foundations of World Building – Malinda Lo (I love her world building in her books and so this post was a real treat for me…she also has a TON of amazingly helpful resources)
- On Ideas and Plots and Their Mutability by Justine Larbalestier (a great post about how it’s okay if you get an idea that has been done before)
- Writing What You Love & Plotting – Holly Black (some great advice)
- Susan Dennard’s How I Plan a Book series (the magical cookies tip is golden!)
- Crafting a Strong Beginning – Julie Eshbaugh via Pub(lishing) Crawl
- Fast Drafting Tips from Authors!
- The Zero-Fuckery Quick-Create Guide To Kick-Ass Characters – Chuck Wendig (I’d been having a hard time finding THE perfect “character creation guide” for me until I happened upon this one…hilarious & insightful, really helped me to nail down my characters)
- 25 Things A Great Character Needs – Chuck Wendig (a helpful “character checklist” if there is such a thing)
- Pinterest Boards (I make character/setting boards for my WIPs to get into the world of the book / head of the characters (it really helps!)
- Excellent tips on writing “unlikable” protagonists (especially if they’re female) by Courtney Summers, author of some of my favorite books. The first is a post on her blog. The second is in response to a question from a querying writer (ahem, moi) via her tumblr. Her answer was everything I needed and more; I refer to it all the time.
- Why Netflix Makes You a Better Writer via LitReactor (I love the bit about giving your characters acting lessons.)
Voice & POV
- Finding the Middle Grade Voice – Kat Zhang via Pub(lishing) Crawl
- On Writing the YA Voice – Gabe (Ava Jae) via their blog Writability
- A Writer’s Fixation on Sound – R. O. Kwon reflects on the relationship of rhythm to writing, which is all part of your narrative voice! (this is also a great post on letting go of perfection)
- Character Building & Deep POV Discussion – Akshaya Raman and Susan Dennard in conversation via YouTube
On Starting a New Project Before Finishing the Old One
- Meg Cabot’s NaNoWriMo Pep Talk
- In Which I Advocate Caging Your Plot Bunnies – Maggie Stiefvater
- Working on Multiple Projects – Jodi Meadows
- High Fidelity: The Romance of the Big Idea – Leigh Bardugo via Pub(lishing) Crawl
Writer’s Block & Procrastination
- Keep Calm and Write Your Damn Book – Claire Legrand (in classic Claire Legrand style this post is both humorous and helpful (love the drawings!)
- Taking Writing Breaks, Especially When You Don’t Want To – Me! via Pub(lishing) Crawl
- How to Finish Your Book – Julie Eshbaugh via Pub(lishing) Crawl
- The Between Book – Adam Silvera via Pub(lishing) Crawl
On Trunking (or setting aside) Your Project
- Love is Mandatory (aka to trunk or not to trunk your manuscript) – Veronica Roth via YA Highway
- Giving Up On Writing. Again. And Again – Akshaya Raman via Pub(lishing) Crawl
- The World Isn’t Wide Enough For My Book (Or Is It?) – Akshaya Raman + Mara Fitzgerald on (not) comparing yourself to others via Writer’s Block Party
- Susan Dennard on Envy – a reader question she answers via her Tumblr
- Social Media, Envy, and Re(focusing) on YOU – Me for Pub(lishing) Crawl
- Learning to Forgive Yourself – Me, again!
- Focus on The Long Haul – Kate Elliott via Tweets!
Editing & Revising
- Read your book aloud (not a post, just advice from me to you!)
- Sooz’s Guide to Revisions – one of my favorite revision series, really easy to modify for your needs!
- From Idea to Finished, Step 6: Revisions – a blog series by Marissa Meyer on writing a book, all the posts are great but I especially love this one!
- My Cut Material File and How it Frees Me – Julie Esbaugh via Pub(lishing) Crawl
- Kill Your Darlings – Caleb Roehrig via Pub(lishing) Crawl
- A Sneak Peek at My Revision Process (via Tweets!) – Please note, it adapts for each book so what works for one project doesn’t always for another (go easy on yourself)!
- Nafiza Azad shares her revision process for a current WIP (also via Tweets!)
- Knowing When Your MS is Ready to Query by Literary Agent Lara Perkins
- Checklist for Submitting Writers – Lit Agent & Author Marie Lamba
- Dahlia Adler’s Perpetual WIPs series (good for all stages (e.g. querying, agented))
- On newbie agents – Miss Snark
- On Schmagents (scammer agents) & How to Make Sure a Literary Agent is Legit – Claribel Ortega via her newsletter
- Rules and Tips for Writing Good Queries – S. Jae-Jones via Pub(lishing) Crawl
Parting Ways with Your Agent
- Is It Time, Dear Writer, To Ditch Your Literary Agent? – Chuck Wendig
- Various Miss Snark blog posts on Firing Your Agent
- Backspace’s Karen Dionne Tells You The Best Way to Leave Your Agent – via Kristin Nelson’s blog
- Authors Behaving Badly – Kristin Nelson
Writing the Sequel(s)
- For the Writers Writing Sequels (all the feels!) – Jodi Meadows
- When You Suddenly Forget How to Writer – Laura Sebastian talks about her struggles writing a sequel for the first time, this post has MANY A+ writing links within
- “Keeping the Story Alive” or Writing the Second Novel in a Series – Kate Elliott via Such a Novel Idea
- Writing Sequels: 7 Rules for Writing Second Installments – Brent Hartinger via Writer’s Digest
Goal Setting & (Not) Finding Balance
- Making Attainable Goals – Julie C. Dao via Pub(lishing) Crawl
- On Failing But Never Being a Failure – Me via Pub(lishing) Crawl
- How I Balance Writing with Having a Day Job – Me via Pub(lishing) Crawl
- On Publishing, Goals, Life and Balance (Or Lack There of) – Sona Charaipotra via Pub(lishing) Crawl
Conferences, Festivals, and Retreats
- Tips From Industry Pros: Before, During, and After A Conference – Me!
- Preparing for Public Speaking – Jodi Meadows
- Traveling as an Author – Julie C. Dao’s newsletter
- All About Conferences, Workshops, and Retreats – via Kidlit 411
- Tips For A Successful At-Home Writing Retreat – via Writer’s Block Party
Dear Writers Who Are Teens or Children:
- Teens Can Write Too – a website/community for teen writers, run by the talented John Hansen
- On Friends and Family and Writing – Some great advice/thoughts from author Darren Shan about how to deal with sharing your writing with friends and family especially as a young writer
Wrinspiration (Writing Inspiration, Pep Talks, Humor, whatever it takes to get you back writing…)
- On Shitty First Drafts by Anne Lamott (from her book on writing, Bird by Bird)
- On Creativity and Perseverance by Claire Legrand (don’t give up!)
- Two great posts by Renee Collins on not giving up. The first is her “How I Got My Agent” story, it’s a great lesson in not quitting/giving up before you’ve really tried. The second is titled “My Scariest Moment, And The Happy Ending,” and it’s about how she got the courage to separate from her 1st agent (great person, but things weren’t working out) and how she got the agent who sold her YA debut, Relic!
- Geniusness – Elizabeth Gilbert’s TED Talk (without fail this video gives me the push I need every time)
- The Avengers – On Writing
- Story Love Lists (write what you love about your story so when the going gets tough you don’t get going)
- The Known & the Unknown… Dance by YA author, Laini Taylor
- Defining Success and Setting Yourself on Fire by YA author, Kim Liggett
- Shutting Out the Cooks and Listening to Yourself (advice on writing the story you really want to by me!)
- NaNoWriMo Pep Talks – pep talks on many stages of the writing process from fellow authors
- Publishing is Slow by literary agent DongWon Song
- All about ARCs and how to (legally) get them –
- What to Do with ARCs – YAHighway
- Pub(lishing) Crawl’s blog + podcast are excellent at breaking down publishing lingo
- Publishers Marketplace deal terminology – Miss Snark
On Writing Diverse Characters/On Diversity (or the lack of) in Children’s Literature
- It’s More Than Representation: My Thoughts on the Lack of Diversity in Children’s Books (Activism comes in all forms)
- My Writing Process: #diversity and #amrevising edition – A great post by 2015 debut author, I. W. Gregorio that breaks down how she overcame her fears about writing about a character whose diversity is different from her own
- Zoraida Cordova – on fear and guilt when approaching the topic of race
- Connie Hsu – an overview of the CBC diversity panel at ALA Midwinter
- Don’t BS the Change by Lamar “L.R.” Giles
- Diversity in YA Tumblr (many, many resources thanks to authors Cindy Pon & Malinda Lo)
- Anything from author Malinda Lo’s site, includes posts on writing race & fantasy and no stereotyping queer characters
- What’s Going On in Multi Culti Lit: The librarians speak via author Meg Medina
- We Are Still Not Doing Enough for Diversity in Kid lit by Ellen Oh
- Disability in Kidlit Blog (interviews, articles, book reviews, and other various resources)
- Racebending.com (great articles on lack of diversity, stereotypes, & resources on writing diversity…the site seeks to “advocate for underrepresented groups in entertainment media”)
- I’m Here, I’m Queer, What the Hell Do I Read? – Writer & Blogger, Lee Wind’s blog has tons of resources on writing queer characters, book recommendations, and so forth.
- Is This Your Story to Tell? – Sona Charaipotra via Pub(lishing) Crawl
- In A World…: Writing Cultural Outsiders Part 1 – Such a great series by Akshaya Raman on crafting various (real & fictional) cultures
- How YA Twitter Is Trying To Dismantle White Supremacy, One Book At A Time – Sona Charaipotra and Zoraida Córdova for Bustle
- American Indians in Children’s Literature – Debbie Reese provides critical perspectives and analysis of indigenous peoples in children’s and young adult books, the school curriculum, popular culture, and society.
Writing about “Taboo” and/or “Edgy” Subjects in Children’s Literature
- “The Sex” by Andrew Karre, Editorial Director at Lerner Publishing Group – an excellent post on sex in YA books & what teens really think
- “Books are, at their hearts, dangerous.” – A series of tweets by author Libba Bray in response to a WSJ article on dark themes in YA books
- “Edgy” YA – links collected by YA Highway on what is Edgy YA, does it exist, and writing it
- Who’s Scared of the Big Bad F-Bomb? – A post on why cursing in YA lit is more than okay by author Gayle Forman
- Sex in YA: The ABCs of Hooking Up – A vlog post by Suzanne Young via WriteOnCon
- Should Writers “JUST” Write?” – Dan Blank for Writer Unboxed
- Jim Butcher has some amazing posts on the art and craft of writing. (Many thanks to Karen Woodward for collecting most of them!)
- Dahlia Adler’s “An Unauthorized Guide to Being a Debut Author” is especially awesome.
- Writing the Kissy Stuff – Interview with Susan Dennard on romance
- How I Use Social Media As An Author – Julie C. Dao via Pub(lishing) Crawl
In the end, there’s no better way to learn how to write than by writing and reading, so here are some book lists & sites that have helped me find new books.
- YAC Hit List: Noir by Sarah Skilton via the LA Review of Books – I’m working on a series of Paranormal Noir books so from time to time I like to read noir to hone into the “noir feel” (& because I love noir).
- YA Pride – Site dedicated to LGBTQIA+ YA lit, created by Vee Signorelli
- LGBTQ Reads – Queering up your bookshelves, one rec at a time, created by Dahlia Adler
- Diversity in YA – Puttin’ a little diversity in your YA since 2011, run by Malinda Lo + Cindy Pon
- @pocinpub on Twitter – Twitter account of People of Color in Publishing
- We Need Diverse Books – their newly designed website is full of resources!
- The B&N Teens Blog (there’s also a podcast!) – headed by Melissa Albert
- Bustle’s Books section – headed by the amazing Cristina Arreloa
- Here’s post I wrote on mental health & women writers of color / Native descent
- Nicole Brinkley’s Twitter – she’s a children’s bookseller aka A+ recs
- She also runs a Patreon with even more insider tips.
- I, Too Arts Collective on Twitter
- Disability in Kidlit Blog (interviews, articles, book reviews, and other various resources)
Podcasts, Writing & Publishing focused blogs, and Newsletters
- 88 Cups of Tea podcast – Hosted by Yin Chang (there’s also a blog on the website that has great posts from authors!)
- Write Or Die podcast – Hosted by Claribel Ortega
- Pub(lishing) Crawl – a group of authors and publishing professionals (including me!) who blog about all things reading, writing, books, and occasionally booze.
- Writer’s Block Party – a blog about writing & publishing
- YA Highway – all about Young Adult literature, books, publishing, writing, fandom, book blogging, trends, controversies, and the occasional moose or sloth.
- First Draft podcast – Hosted by Sarah Enni
- The Writer’s Digest Podcast – Hosted by Gabriela Pereira, I’m biased, but you should start with the episode in which they interview me 😀
- Julie C. Dao’s newsletter – Julie gives the best of realtalks, this newsletter is especially excellent for debut authors
- Susan Dennard’s Misfits & Daydreamers newsletter – A+ writing tips
- Hey YA podcast – via BookRiot, co-hosts: Eric Smith + Kelly Jensen
*I list these links because I’m often asked for them. However, they are what work for me. Please take what you need and ignore the rest. As a young writer, starting out, I didn’t know how to do that. I took everyone’s advice and so by the time I was done, my stories didn’t sound like me and weren’t what I set out to write. It took some time for me to get back to writing my books my way. At the end of the day, if you don’t write it, you can’t edit it, and it won’t become a published book. So get to it. Stop procrastinating. Stop looking for more advice. And enjoy the process. Happy Writing!
Happy to answer additional questions. Feel free to contact me!