Monday, November 17, 2014

Eight great websites for writers

First of all, mad props to anyone who is cranking out 50,000 words this month. I don't ever officially do NaNoWriMo (which I inexplicably pronounced na-no-wree-mo for several years #fail) because I'm more productive if I revise every few chapters. I've definitely churned out 50,000 words in a month before, and although doing so makes me feel like an all-powerful writer goddess, the idea of 50,000 crappy hastily written words to revise makes me want to crawl in a hole and die. So if NaNo is not for you, rest-assured you're in good company...assuming you consider me good company :D

But in the spirit of NaNo (and to give you an excuse to slack off rest your weary fingers), I thought I would share with you some of my favorite writing-related websites. There are a bajillion great blogs and pages for writers, but the following are the ones I frequent heavily for kitten videos advice on craft, motivation, business stuff, and industry news.

1. terribleminds
If you're not comfortable with swear words or occasional frequent gross/graphic metaphors, you should probably stay away from Chuck Wendig's blog. Everyone else should drop by on the regs for hilarious, insightful, and motivational writing advice. Like this, from his NaNo tips post:

Give less of a shit. Relax. Ease off the stress stick, cowpoke. You’re not Superman saving a busload of precious orphans. You’re writing a novel. You can still give a shit — but set aside the baggage and expectations. You’re not Humanity’s Last Chance.

Word. Not only does Chuck provide encouragement in a way that will make you laugh at yourself and then go back to your manuscript energized and hopeful, he also provides such material at an alarming almost-every-day frequency. You scare me a little, Chuck, but I liked to be scared.

If you're a writer and you only read one blog post a week, I recommend reading YA Highway's Field Trip Friday. Each Friday, YAH staff (usually the phenomenal Kate Hart) rounds up all of the crucial publishing news, broken down into categories like "Big news", "Writing", "Reading", "Publishing", and "Other stuff." Let's say you spent all week on a deserted island or in a revision cave or even in a freaking coma. FTF will catch you up completely. YA Highway is helmed by an impressive crew of YA writers and also features other great craft and industry-related posts throughout the week.

I might be biased since Jennifer Laughran is my fabulous agent-tiger, but her helpful blog makes my list for a couple of reasons. She has a wide knowledge of publishing from multiple angles--she's an agent with an impressive sales record (she sold 4 books this year just for me) and she's also a part-time bookseller. But more importantly, Jenn addresses what she sees are gaps in people's knowledge and she gives it to you straight, often sharing the insider info she's gleaned from years of publishing experience. You might not always like what she's got to say, but you don't have to wonder if she's spinning a nicer version of the truth or just telling you what you want to hear. Jenn = real.

Agent Jenn's former colleague Mary Kole left agenting to be an author and freelance manuscript consultant. Whereas Jennifer generally focuses on the publishing industry, Mary focuses more on writing craft. She's written a fabulous book about writing irresistible kidlit, and her blog is a collection of tips and helpful pointers for writers at all stages of their careers.

Before Hilary sold WILD AWAKE, she worked as an editorial intern in NYC. Currently she posts more about her own writing journey, but see those 200 or so archived posts over in the right sidebar? Those are all gold for aspiring authors who want tips for writing and querying or just a bit of inside information on how editors think and do business. I still re-read some of Hilary's craft-related posts like "How Books Work: The Hunger Games" and "The Electric Kool-Aid Conflict Test" when I'm struggling with a revision.

I am only going to say this once--EVERYTHING you need to write a solid query can be found on this website. In fact, IMO this is a lot more info than you need. But if you read agent Janet Reid's guidelines and deal-breakers and then read 100 or so queries and her feedback, you will be able to write a decent query. Please keep in mind that the quality of your first 5-10 pages of your manuscript matters more than crafting the world's most perfect query letter. I do query critiques for Manuscript Critique Services and I routinely run across people who think that what is essentially a cover letter for your manuscript matters more than your actual story. No, just no.

I honestly just stumbled across Writer Unboxed the other day and what a delightful and informational rabbit hole it is. Sometimes I feel guilty when I get sidetracked while working and sometimes my inability to focus feels like serendipity. Finding WU was one of those latter times. WU includes posts on industry, craft, and inspiration by everyone from pre-published writers to bestsellers.

Pub crawl, despite being alcohol-free, is one of my favorite writerly sites because its contributors are a mix of writers, editors, agents, and sales/marketing people. As you might imagine, people in different corners of the publishing industry have different knowledge and see things a little differently. With Pub Crawl you get the best of all the worlds!

Had enough? If not, here are few more epic writing websites:

What are your go-to places for writing information and motivation? Share them in the comments :)