Monday, March 08, 2010

My Favorite Resources

I thought today I'd share with you some of my favorite places on the web that have really made me think about my writing and how to improve it. While this list is nowhere near comprehensive, I hope the sampling provides you with some new places to visit frequently.

Agent/Editor Blogs

The Rejectionist -- This isn't an agent/editor blog per se, however this person is an assistant to what I suspect is a major NY agent. His/her rants are quite comical at times, but usually right on the mark, especially if they share any quotes from queries they've received. This person does seem to be mildly obsessed with Gollum from The Lord of the Rings, and will occasionally go into spurts of talking like him. (One of the categories that they regularly post in is We hates it precioussss.)

Evil Editor -- I haven't quite cracked the nut on this one yet. It seems most of the time, the posts break down a persons plot and explains why it won't work. Other times, it's a query letter. A few comics are spread throughout. Regardless, I usually get some nugget from reading the posts.

Query Shark -- In my opinion, this is one of the best teaching tools for wannabe published writers. As she receives worthy queries, Janet Reid critiques submitted queries and explains why they don't work--or why they do and why she'd request additional chapters. If you want to put your query through the ringer, though, be sure to read EVERYTHING that's been posted, or you'll quickly be rejected! And, read the rules, too. It gets you into good practice for when you start submitting your work.

Miss Snark's First Victim -- If you're not familiar with Miss Snark, and admittedly, I'm not, you may find the title of this blog a bit odd. However, when you get into the meat of this blog, you'll find it very helpful--I have. Once a month, this blog hosts a 'mystery guest', which is a literary agent. You're invited to submit the first 250 words +/- of your completed, polished novel if you fit the requirements. Then everyone can critique your work--including the mystery agent. At the end, the agent is revealed, and s/he selects a few works they want to see more of, so you have an opportunity if you're one of the lucky few to pitch your book. If you don't get picked, you still get some good advice. I put Homebody through the paces there in November.

Rachelle Gardner -- Okay, I'll admit it. At the moment, I think Rachelle Gardner is my dream agent. Of all the agent blogs I follow, and the agents I follow on Twitter, I think she's probably one of the classiest. Reading her blog posts, you can really tell that she truly cares about the people she represents, and respects authors in general (not that other agents don't). Her blog is always helpful and thought provoking. Now if I can just craft or edit a book that she may be interested in! Homebody and Cora's Song are too rough around the edges, and I think Beyond Dead, once it's edited, will contain too many sci-fi elements. *sigh*


Author Blogs

K.M. Weiland's Wordplay -- K.M. has become a good cyber-friend, so I may be a little biased, but I truly think her blog Wordplay is fabulous. Each Sunday, she posts on a topic pertinent to becoming a better writer. Regardless of the topic, she makes you think, even if you don't think the topic is applicable to your particular style of writing. Her companion podcast is also superb, and you can find it (and subscribe!) on iTunes, or listen to it on her site. She's also begun a new Wednesday feature with a video podcast.

AuthorCulture -- Along with Linda Yezak and Lynnette Bonner, K.M. Weiland also writes for AuthorCulture. These three ladies always have something interesting to say, and frequently use examples from their own projects. At the end of the month, they share a roundup of resources they've uncovered over the month that may help you, and you sure don't want to miss Fabulously Fun Fridays at AuthorCulture--it's like a box of chocolates; you never know what you'll get!

777 Peppermint Place -- Linda Yezak, pre-published author, shares about personal goings-on, but most often about her writing life. Whether it's regarding her adventures of rewriting her book, finding an agent, or mulling over her diet, her posts are always fun.

The Graveyard Shift -- Non-fiction author and former cop Lee Lofland's blog is always informative, especially if you're writing crime fiction. He reviews episodes of ABC's Castle, detailing why things wouldn't work from a cop's perspective, but also details topics pertinent to those writing crime fiction, or are even just curious about how things work. His book, Police Procedure & Investigation was published through Writer's Digest Books, and is extremely helpful. He also is a member of a Yahoo! group on writing crime fiction, crimescenewriter.


Miscellaneous Blogs

The Character Therapist -- Writer and Licensed Therapist Jeannie Campbell has one of the most unique blogs for writers out there. She posts twice a week, Tuesdays and Thursdays. Every Tuesday, she selects a character sketch or outline from her readers and puts the characters on the couch, so to speak. She takes your premise as a guide, then tells you from a psychological point of view why your characters would or wouldn't work. She'll also give you ideas to tweak your characters to bring them in line with what would be acceptable behavior if they're way out of line. Thursdays, Jeannie tends to go through various psychological maladies and how you could use them in your writing. Like Query Shark, be sure to read the rules, though there aren't as many and they aren't as strict as The Shark.


Twitter

Some may say that Twitter isn't worth the time, however I've found that I learn a lot from following agents and authors on Twitter. Some of the time it's just a nodding, 'I'm going to file that away'. Other times, it's an aghast open mouth thinking 'what where they thinking?' (These are usually from seeing something marked #queryquotes -- a very good search to save!)

Since time is running short, here's just my top 10. You can find more by following me, @righter1 and either my list 'Important Folks' or 'Agents'.

@RachelleGardner
@Agentgame
@WolfsonLiterary (she may not have started #queryquotes, but I think she's the queen now!)
@WritersDigest
@BostonBookGirl
@LeeLofland
@KMWeiland
@pprmint777
@Brandilyn
@Bradfordlit

So, I've shared mine. How about you? What are some of the resources you couldn't live without online?

Until next time,

4 comments:

Janalyn Voigt (WaySinger) said...

Hi Liberty!

I enjoy many of the blogs you mentioned. I also like Jody Hedlund's blog, http://jodyhedlund.blogspot.com/

Jeannie Campbell, LMFT said...

wow! thanks, liberty! such an honor to be included among some of the greats of the christian book industry.

jeannie
The Character Therapist

Lee Lofland said...

Hi Liberty. Thanks so much for mentioning both my book and my blog, and I'm extremely pleased that you've found them to be helpful in your work.

The Castle reviews I write are fun, and I've just started reviewing TNT's show, Southland. The folks at the network had read my Castle posts and asked if I'd do the same for their series. So I watched for the first time last week. Let me tell you, that show is the next best thing to putting on a uniform and working the streets as a police officer!

Again, thanks for mentioning me. Oh, I do hope to see you and your readers at the Writers' Police Academy this fall. The academy is a hands-on event I put together just for writers. It's held at an actual police academy and all the workshops are taught by actual police academy instructors.

Attendees have the opportunity to train just like police recruits - investigating crimes and accidents, firearms, handcuffing, searching real jail cells, working in a real crime lab, and much, much more. Our keynote speaker is Jeffery Deaver, and our special guest speaker is NYC medical examiner Jonathan Hayes. For details please visit http://www.writerspoliceacademy.com/index.html

Liberty Speidel said...

@Janalyn, thanks! I think I've read Jody's blog, but only in passing... I must make it more of a habit, but I don't want all my "writing" time to be reading blogs! :)

@Jeannie, well, I wouldn't have included your blog if I really didn't think it was helpful! I love the analysis you do, and I think more writers should read your blog, and take advantage of putting their characters on the couch as I've done with Rick & Amanda. :)

@Lee, I must thank you for stopping by! I hope my readers can take advantage of the Writer's Police Academy. I'd like to very much, but I don't think it'll be this year--by fall, I'll have two children under 2 years old, and I don't think my husband would want a nursing infant at a police academy!

However, that does remind me that a lot of police departments will do ride-alongs and tours, and the local police academy near my house does occasional tours, too. I'd love to go through the academies, though quite honestly, I'd love to go through Quantico!

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