A Smorgasbord of Writing Resources (Penny Rader)

Our prez, Pat, asked me to put together a list of general writing sites to give to new members. I thought I'd post the list here, along with a few hints of what you'll find at each site, just in case you're interested.

102 Resources for Fiction Writing (C.S. Swarts)
You’ll find a multitude of articles divided into the following categories:

Character, Point of View, Dialogue
Plot, Conflict, Structure, Outline
Setting, World Building
Ideas, Inspiration
Tools and Software

Alicia Rasley’s Articles of the Month
As of 7.24.11 Alicia had 58 archived articles on topics on ranging from scenes to POV to emotions to dialogue to plotting to conflict to characterization. She is an amazing teacher.

Her current Article of the Month can be found here.

Charlotte Dillon’s Resources for Romance Writers
Here you will find a ton of info separated into the following categories:

Links for writers
Building characters
Manuscript preparation
Writing a synopsis
Writing a query letter
Articles about writing
Research links
Writing prompts
Publishers and agents
How-to promote your work

You’ll find a plethora of articles on the following subjects:

Writing basics
Honing skills
Getting started
Editors and agents
Writing – Nuts and bolts
Writing fiction – Novels
Creating conflict and sustaining suspense
Writing short fiction
Promotion and marketing

    Holly has a great deal of info available:

    The writing life
    Workshops – 21 of them, on subjects ranging from conflict to characters to dialogue to plotting to wordbuilding, etc.

      Gabrielle has links to numerous articles divided into categories such as:

      Agents & editors
      The career writer
      Conflict & motivation
      Creativity & inspiration
      Finding time, setting goals
      Plotting & structure
      Point of view
      Promoting your novel
      Query letter & synopsis
      Revising your novel
      Sensuality & erotica
      Software for writers
      Submitting to publishers
      Writer's block
      The Writer's Life

      The Passionate Pen (Jenna Petersen)

      Links to publishers and agents who accept all kinds of romance
      Other resources and websites for writers of all skill levels
      • Craft of writing
      • Learning the industry
      • Research links
      • Marketing
      Articles written by Jenna on a variety of writing-related topics

      Here you will find A-Z listings of agents and publishers, writer organizations and resources.

      Here are a few of the categories you’ll find articles for:

      Beginner’s world
      Becoming a better writer
      The business of writing
      The writing life
      General fiction
      Promoting your writing


      Have fun exploring! I hope you find something that will assist you with your writing career.

      Do you have a favorite site you'd like to share with us?

      Reading other genres, but not truly getting away from romance (Melissa Robbins)

      As a member of WARA that writes more mystery than romance, I tend to read genres outside of romance. But as any great reader knows, romance is in almost any book.

      Reading Young Adult books makes me feel young. I'm currently reading Throne of Fire by Rick Riordan. It's Book Two of the Kane Chronicles about a brother and sister who are saving the world using Egyptian magic. Along with his Percy Jackson and the Olympians (Greek Mythology) and Heroes of Olympus (Greek and Roman Mythology) books, Riordan has gotten a generation of kids reading again. Kids want to pick up his books and (shh don't them) might actually learn something in the process. I still get my romance fix with them. In Throne of Fire, poor Sadie likes two guys, Walt, a fellow magician who is dying from the same affliction King Tut died from and Anubis, yeah that Anubis, the God of Funerals or as Sadie calls him, the God of Toilet Paper (humor abounds in the books). For those of you who are familiar with Egyptian mythology may be scratching your heads. Anubis doesn't always have the head of a dog. He's a god. Anubis can be a handsome teenager in a black leather jacket if he wants to be, although Sadie says the kilt and kohl around the eyes, which would look weird on some guys, really works for him. ;0) Talk about your crazy love triangles. I'm dying to know how Riordan solves this girl's romance issues.

      Also on my new Nook color shelf to be read is Headwind by KK Brees a mystery about Professor Katrin Nissen, a spy for the OSS in the early days of WWII. Haven't heard of Brees? This is her first published mystery book and a fellow Sisters in Crime Guppies writer (the 'Great Unpublished'). We Guppies are all about reading fellow Guppies' work. I'm all over it, because it features WW2. I have a shelf dedicated to WW2 books, fiction and non-fiction. Other great ones on my WW2 shelf are by Connie Willis, Blackout and All Clear. The story starts in Black Out and finishes All Clear. Waiting for that second book just about killed me. Willis normally writes science fiction and these two books do involve time travel as the characters travel back in time to WW2, but as a writer who is also writing a WW2 mystery, Willis' research is amazing. And guess what? There's romance in that one too. As Polly is stuck in WW2, Colin, who Polly didn't care for at first, tries desperately to find her and bring her back. Tears, people, tears.

      Another favorite series of mine is the Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare. I know. I know. I've mused about this series before on this blog. Jace is the snarky hero the reader can't help but love. Since the YA fantasy book has demon hunters trying to save the world, I wouldn't call it a romance book with all the demons, vampires, werewolves, warlocks and fairies running around, but it definitely has romance in it. Love is a theme of the book, but not completely for the reasons you might think. If my writing buddy Fran wants to know how I wrote that one chapter (she knows which one), a particular airfield scene, or the scene involving a motorcycle from my work-in-process, it's because I read this series. Learn from the masters, people.

      With the joy of being a writer, I also have the privilege of reading work-in-process stories by fellow writers. Although Fran's WIP is a Regency romance, it has mystery in it, so I get the best of both worlds and Cheryl's paranormal mystery has romance in it too, because as she says, a book without at least a little romance would be dry and no fun to read.

      Reading Outside Your Genre (Penny Rader)

      Pssst. Wanna know how to improve your writing? Try reading outside your genre. Yup. It’s true. For a few reasons why, check out the post snippets below:

      Breaking Your Mental Blockers (Nfoster)

      “Read outside your genre or regular authors. Reading the same two authors every time you read because they're your favorites can get stale. You know their plot devices, you know their character stereotypes. You're not learning anything new as you read. I'm not saying you have to, but if you're going to be a writer, you need to experiment. New authors or different genres of reading can give you that highly-valued new perception I keep talking about. … As you read, you're broadening your horizons about who, what, where and why according to someone else. No one reacts the same way, so understanding other people's characters is infinitely valuable to your mental processes.”

      Fundamentals of Fiction, Part II: "Read, Read, Read!" (Marg Gilks)

      “Read novels and read short stories; read poetry. Poetry will tune your writer's ear to the rhythm of language, and make your writing beautiful. Novels and short stories each have their own technical requirements; studying overall story arc in a novel will teach you about plot and structure; the length restrictions imposed by short stories will both allow you to study technique in condensed form and teach you how such important aspects as characterization and setting can be conveyed to maximum effect in a minimum of space.”

      If You Want to be a Good Writer, You Need to Read (John Harmon)

      “…read outside your safety zone. You should read magazines and books you wouldn’t normally pick up for your own pleasure. Sound crazy? It’s not. It’s learning, it’s stretching your boundaries. You’d be surprised at how many unique ideas you can gain from reading unfamiliar material.”

      Reading Outside Your Genre (Edmund Schubert)

      “From the other genres you can pick up tropes and tricks. From non-fiction you can pick all sorts of useful nuggets you can use in future novels of your own.”

      Ten Steps to Finding Your Writing Voice (Holly Lisle)

      “Read fiction, read nonfiction, read in the genre you love, read outside of it. Read WAY outside of it. You cannot be a snob -- don't write off any genre or type of book as being without redeeming qualities or lessons to teach you.”


      So what do I read when I’m not reading romance?

      • Harlen Coban – Fabulous openings and I’m always surprised by how the story turns out.

      • Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series – Makes me laugh out loud. And I'm a huge Ranger fan. ;D

      • Lisa Gardner – Twisty, turny thrillers with really scary serial killers.

      • Kristin Hannah -- Her women's fiction stories, whether they are about relationships between sisters, mothers/daughters, or friends touch me, help me reconnect with myself. Few books make me cry. Firefly Lane did.

      • Jodi Picoult – Intriguing characters. Usually a combination of law, medicine, and faith. Almost always surprised by how her books end (but not always pleasantly surprised). The ending of the last one I read p--, uh, made me furious.

      • Lisa Wingate’s Tending Roses series – Lyrical and lovely. Her stories make me feel good and comforted and wishing I could write more like she does.

      • Fairy tales and myths – For ready-made plots to twist and expand upon.

      • Biographies and self-help books and all sorts of nonficton – To better understand why people do the things they do and find tidbits for stories.

      • Writing exercises & prompts -- For inspiration, for courage, for when I have absolutely no idea what to write about.


      I’d love to hear who you read outside your genre and why.

      The Path, the Journey, the Adventure, the Angst

      Yes, the posts this month are supposed to be about favorite authors. I have them. Everyone who reads has them. But they aren't necessarily doing much for me now. I remember the glow of the excitement as I turned page after page, not reading every word in my eagerness to get to more. Yes, more. More of the action.

      But, what was the action? Was it spaceships colliding with myriad asteroids, Milady's eyelashes clashing with her cheeks as she attempts to pull one over on an unsuspecting male, or was it his lips coming to within a whisper's breath of her ear.

      But what about my writing? Where is the action?

      So, I took the path, read about the journey, fell into the adventure, and now suffer the angst. I fear that my writing falls so dreadfully short of whatever anyone would want to read. My characters have nothing special. They don't fly. They don't melt. They don't even know why they do what they do. My settings for them aren't much better. Tarzan had jungle and animal friends. He even had natives who were his friends. Some of his adventures had treasures. There aren't any treasures to be found in my settings. No maps either. Sumptuous furnishings and riches of culture? Nope, I hardly have windows let alone drapes. Four poster beds? Ha, my characters barely get a blanket--each. They don't go to plays, watch videos, or get any music. Food. Surely I feed them? Sometimes. They go hungry a bit and what they do get isn't necessarily tasty sounding.

      Why would anyone read anything I've written? Because it is different. Different from what someone else has written. It has a different flavor, a different point of view, it has action.
      No car chases, but animals come at them, claws and teeth bared. One woman's path is another woman's nightmare. The action I used to spin the story forward is different from what another author would have chosen. I have one heroine, squatting over a fire trying to roast a bird part. It would have been better if she'd have removed all of the feathers.

      Can you see that? Can you smell how that must be? Can you feel her frustration?
      And that is why my writing, lyrical, poignant or not, is worth writing. Because I can bring a different feel to a situation because of what my writer's mind says is the story. Another writer would have chosen a different aspect to write about this woman's journey.

      So, whether we stay on the path, complete the journey, die in the adventure, or survive the angst, the story is an extension of my mind's vehicle for you, the reader to ride.

      I hope you have a nice trip in the next adventure you read. Me, I'll corner my angst and tell her to shut up a bit, her screaming is getting to my ears.

      To Read or Not to Read, That Is the Question

      We're supposed to write about enjoyable reads this month. Considering the state of my writing, it is debatable whether I should read or not. Like the ads for Zoloft that will help fight depression, if I feel a sudden urge to off myself, I should stop taking it. So it is for reading.

      What could I be reading that could cause such a disaster for my person? A fight for my very life? (ok, let's dial it back a bit and say, 'for my very fragile mental state'?)

      A book on sentences.


      That's it. A book on sentences.

      You see, a while back, I hit a bleak place in my writing. Nothing was jogging loose. I met up with a good writer and we had a bit of a coze and I came home fired up to write something spectacular. I did. However, it turned out that spectacular didn't exactly fit the rest of the writing in the book. DANG!

      So, in a fit of pique, I decided to improve my writing. I plunged into a box of books in the bottom of a closet. I read a couple of romances written by others that I had kept for their excellence. Still excellent and as I studied them, I realized that my style of writing was so different that it wouldn't have mattered how excellent they were, they had little application for me except to make me green-eyed with jealousy. My ire went higher.

      I got out the books, both one and two, of a college course called optimistically, "Writing Great Sentences". This course was purchased a handful of years ago. I had put in the VCR tape and began to watch it. I had become so confused that after a mere half hour I quit, put the tape and books away, and went for a coke--all knowing I was doomed to un-distinction and an ill ability to write great sentences. This time around I was set to preservere (that and I thought maybe, since I'd slept in a Holiday Inn Express* since then, that I might have a shot at understanding it better. Unfortunately, I no longer have a VCR player and found myself doomed to READ book one and two. I carried book one in my purse for when I had to wait in line for something....

      Something came along and yes, there I had that darned book and yes, I took it out to read it, and yes, it was still gobbledegook and iskcensrd to me, but I kept soldiering on through incomprehensible paragraphs, through unknown twists in Gordian knots of words until....

      My brain swelled up and popped.

      Ok, it didn't really, but I thought it was going to.

      And then I managed to understand a bit. And then a bit more. And then....

      Well no more, but then I haven't read anymore. But the part I did get to said that writing that is being taught now, stripped down and direct is a form of more masculine speak. Hard boiled detective novels used to use it almost exclusively. Sentences that turn and twist a bit are more interesting. Wahooo! All might not be lost for me.

      Here's an example: The man drove with care, sunglasses shading his eyes, wind from an open window playing with his hair, a thirty-eight revolver on the seat beside him, a grim smile on his face, and a body in the trunk.


      Now that is a sentence that catches your attention.

      I'm a little way into book one now and it is not easy, but I just keep reading in hopes that another diamond will be discovered. I can't stop, as this book is like quicksand, and I'm afraid that if I try to concentrate on understanding each page before I go on that I shall sink like a struggling deer in quicksand. However, as I read along, some of it makes sense. But more than that, I can feel my writerly juices flowing a little less sluggishly. Thinking. Thinking of places that I could use a really good sentence or two. Hmmm.....

      * for those of you who don't watch that much TV, there is a commercial that implies if you stay in a Holiday Inn Express you can do almost anything--like brain surgery.

      Books...other than Romance

      I have a secret.  Romance writers actually read in other genres besides romance. 

      Did I hear a collective gasp?  Surely not!  Just because we write it, we don't necessarily read only the same types of books.  In fact, I write what's considered series or category romance, and I rarely read other books in my sub-genre.  If I'm going to read romance, I'm more apt to pick up a single title (probably by Susan Elizabeth Phillips) or a Jane Austen novel.  Still romance but a bit different. 

      A quick look at my bookshelves and...  Aha!  I see a stack of Young Adult novels, mostly by Sarah Dessen, because I was driven to buy copies of my own after reading the ones checked out from the library.  Another bookcase holds all of Dan Brown's novels, while on another shelf of that same bookcase I see a book by Bob Woodward and another by Seymour Hersh.  There's an autographed copy of Reuben on Wry written by Dave Madden, who played Reuben Kincaid on The Partridge Family and also appeared on TV's Laugh-In.  (Only the "more experienced" here will know who and what those are. ☺ The bookcase in the living room contains two shelves of Stephen King books, mixed with some John Grisham, Rosamond Pilcher, Ann Rule, and what's left of my Trixie Belden collection.  On the lower shelves are books for my grandkids.

      And there are more in storage.  And even more on my Kindle that I haven't had time to read.

      Yes, I love to read, and I'll read just about anything. Those of us who write are readers, too, and we often enjoy books completely unlike what we write.  It's a great way to get escape the writer's mind and enjoy the stories and talents of others.

      Non-Romance Genre Hooks by Joan Vincent

      Rox and Frances have written about their favorite children’s books. I bought many of the Golden Books for my kids and my grandkids also read them. Popcorn sounds like my kind of book too.

      Sadly I cannot recall any books being around when I was, say under the age of 10. That seems strange to me since my father valued reading highly and read vociferously. In fact we didn’t even have a library at our little four room school unless you consider the various reading series we went through during the school year. It wasn’t until 7th Grade that our principal checked out thirty books a month for each classroom that we really had a source for books. “In the olden days” as my kids were want to say when they were growing up hinting that I came grew up in a covered wagon, the only public library was downtown in Wichita. Trips to town were for tractor or equipment parts—not for books. I didn’t get to the public library until I was in high school and it was still considered a “special” –translate that as rare--trip.

      But back to the 7-8th grade. I as horse crazy in those days so of course I devoured Anna Sewell’s Black Beauty and Walter Farley’s books:

      • The Black Stallion (1941)
      • The Black Stallion Returns (1945)
      • Son of the Black Stallion (1947)
      • The Island Stallion (1948)
      • The Black Stallion and Satan (1949)
      • The Black Stallion's Blood Bay Colt (1951)
      • The Island Stallion's Fury (1951)
      • The Black Stallion's Filly (1952)
      • The Black Stallion Revolts (1953)
      • The Black Stallion's Sulky Colt (1954)
      • The Island Stallion Races (1955)
      • The Black Stallion's Courage (1956)
      • The Black Stallion Mystery (1957)
      • The Horse-Tamer (1958)
      • Man o’ War
      From there I went to Jim Kjelgaard’s dog books.
      • Big Red (1945)
      • Snow Dog (1948)
      • Kalak of the Ice (1949)
      • A Nose for Trouble (1949)
      • Irish Red, Son of Big Red (1951)
      • Fire-hunter (1951)
      • Trailing Trouble (1952)
      • Haunt Fox (1954)
      • Lion Hound (1955)
      • Desert Dog (1956)
      • Trading Jeff and his Dog (1956)

      All of these books have the two things that I think hooked me as a child: adventure and mystery.

      They continue to hook me as an adult as I tend to read mysteries of all sorts and time periods. I love Sherlock Holmes and can’t wait for the next Ann Perry Monk and Hester mystery. Elizabeth Peters Amelia Peabody set starting in 1920’s Egypt is a favorite. I enjoy Dianne Davidson Mott’s Goldy Catering mysteries and Elizabeth George’s Lynley series. These books all have disparate styles and settings but I like them all. Recently I bought a box of books to get one specific book and discovered a new mystery series-- Judith Van Gieson’s Claire Reyneir. This book was Vanishing Point. Now I can go find the other books—love it when I find a new writer to read!

      Nothing like this blistering hot summer to curl up with the air conditioner and a good book. What are you reading?