|Connections Photo by Cynthia Cotten|
As you know, I’ve been away for a bit, taking care of life. And now I’m back, grateful for this connection. Now we know, connections reinforce and celebrate the continuity of life.
If this theme feels like déjà vu, it’s because it is! But it bears repeating: As summarized perfectly in some tourist commercial, this past year has felt like one very long, long winter. Defined by loss and grief, fear and sadness, the year carried with it an overwhelming since of hopelessness, underscored by a sense of disconnect. As the old adage goes, “Everyone has a tragedy.”
The pandemic highlighted how we took the connections in our lives for the granted. Indeed, as another old adage says, we realize the true value of anything only after it’s taken away.
The internet, and social media, redefined – or revolutionized – the power to connect. These connections kept us … well … connected. Not only to our favorite companions but to our stories. I’ve discovered some pretty nifty writing connections, included below. I hope you find these helpful in your writing journeys!
Classes and Webinars
Writing conferences and classes have moved online, making them cheaper and more available. Some of the best that I’ve taken are the usual suspects, including master editors and teachers Harold Underdown and Eileen Robinson’s Revision Workshops. Not only were their revision workshops extremely helpful, so was their line-editing workshop. In fact, Harold consulted on my second novel, Girls of Gettysburg (2014, Holiday House). If you need an editorial consult, check out his blog (listed below).
Free Expressions, founded by Lorin Oberweger, offers a slew of interesting, informative webinars by masters of the trade, including Chris Vogler, Donald Maass, James Scott Bell and Emma D. Dryden. I can't pick out a favorite. They are all that good. Topics have included The Art of Villainy, with David Corbett; Death to the Snoozer, with Henry Neff; Backstory is Fore-Story, with Donald Maass (his webinar on Three Primary Scenes was particularly informative); and Shaping Your Best Characters, Worlds and Stories, with Emma Dryden.
The Craft of Writing
An absolute must-read is Emma D. Dryden’s blog, our stories, ourselves, in which she shares her “… thoughts on the stories we tell & the stories we live.” Emma’s career has spanned 33 years in the publishing business, has edited over 1000 books, many of which have been award-winners, including the Newbery Medal, National Book Award nomination, Coretta Scott King Author Award, Indies Choice Book Award, New York Times Best Illustrated Award, Edgar Allan Poe Award, Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Platinum Award, Christopher Award, Jane Addams Book Award, Boston Globe/Horn Book Award (and many more). If you get a chance to take one of her classes, either through Free Expressions (see above) or elsewhere, do so! She’s has owned her own consulting business – drydenbks -- since 2009. And she is excellent!
Writer Unboxed is dedicated to publishing empowering, positive, and provocative ideas about the craft and business of fiction. Founded in 2006, the current editorial director is Therese Walsh, and hosts more than 50 contributors. Recent posts include Knowing Your Invisible Narrator, by Milo Todd; Close Encounters of the Initial Kind: Tips for When Characters Meet, by John Kelly; and The Dangers of Editing, by Dave King.
Another favorite, underscored by his ethereal writing, is Bruce Black’s blog, wordswimmer, in which he invites his readers to “come dive into a sea of words and swim toward a new understanding of the writing process.”
An excellent podcast that further explores various literary concepts is Alexa Donne’s Podcast . Alexa offers insight into craft , the publishing industry, interviews with authors, book reviews & more. I share it with my classes regularly. Her podcast on dramatizing (show) versus narrating (tell) is particularly helpful.
And, by the way, KidLit411 keeps an excellent listing of courses, agent resources, author interviews, blogs to follow, discussions on craft, platform building, and ways for authors to connect to each other. The targeted genre is young readers to young adult, but many of the strategies are applicable to every genre.
The Business of Writing
Harold Underdown’s website and blog, The Purple Crayon, follows important trends on the business of writing. While his targeted audience writes children’s books to YA, the information is applicable across all genres. His Who’s Moving Where notes important agent and editorial staff changes. His blog explores topics relevant to non-published and published writers alike! Be sure to check out his discussion on how to evaluate agents.
Speaking of agents, two invaluable resources include Natalie Aquirre’s blog, Literary Rambles. . Each month she highlights agents currently looking for submissions in her series through Agent Spotlight Interviews, and often includes query critique giveaway.
The second is Erica Verrillo’s Blog (and newsletter), How to Get Published , offering extensive agent listings, contests, conferences and paying markets that cover all the genres. As she states, she “… doesn't know why anyone with an ounce of self-preservation would ever want to publish. But, if you insist on selling your soul to the devil, learn how to do it right: marketing, literary agents, book promotion, editing, pitching your book, how to get reviews, and ... most important of all ... everything she did wrong.”
Speaking of agents (again), agent Kristin Nelson, of Nelson Literary Agency, uses her blog, Pub Rants, to discuss her observations about the business. Her recent article, Three Agent Types to Avoid…and the One You Won’t See Coming is particularly helpful in researching agents.
Another excellent resource is Anne R. Allen’s Blog . She and her blog partner Ruth Harris regularly explore topics pertaining to the business as well as the craft of writing. Her recent posts focus on making the most of your social media. Anne is a contributor to Writer’s Digest and the Novel and Short Story Writer’s Market. Ruth Harris is a New York Times bestselling author, Romantic Times award winner, former Big 5 editor, publisher, and news junkie.
And, don’t forget to keep a regular watch on Victoria Strauss’ and A.C. Crispin’s website and blog, Writer Beware. Sponsored by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, with additional support from the Mystery Writers of America, the Horror Writers Association, and the American Society of Journalists and Authors, the mission of Writer Beware® has been -- for more than twenty years -- to track, expose, and raise awareness of questionable, illicit, and/or nonstandard practices in and around the publishing industry.
And that’s just the beginning! What resources – websites, classes, books – have you found particularly helpful that keeps you connected to your writing and writerly companions?