Resources for writers

If you’re looking for support, mentorship, or a peek behind the curtain, here’s a partial list of writing organizations and teachers who I’ve found incredibly helpful.

General literature

  • Advanced Fiction Writing. Both the website and the email newsletter are chock full of concrete information on every aspect of writing, from organizing your time to building memorable scenes. I learned a ton about structure, and I really like his Snowflake Method for designing a novel.
  • C.S. Lakin: Live Write Thrive. The 12 Key Pillars of Novel Construction has been incredibly helpful as I begin to write more complex books. The site offers worksheets for revision, or you can sign up for the e-book and/or her video course (which I haven’t tried).
  • Jane Friedman. Lots of excellent articles and advice about the nuts and bolts of writing and publishing, including information about writing pitch letters, contacting agents, diversity in publishing, and more.
  • Literary Mama. Not only does this site offer amazing fiction, nonfiction, poetry (full disclosure: I was the Poetry Editor from 2015-2017 and Associate Poetry Editor from 2009-2015), regular columns, book reviews, literary reflections, and a blog…but it also offers a community of mothers who write through posts about writing opportunities, prompts, and support as well as an active social media presence. If you self-define as a mother, and a writer, I highly recommend this site!
  • Poets & Writers. Terrific magazine with articles, interviews, and news about the industry, plus extensive lists of contests and calls for work. Doesn’t cover children’s literature. Yet.
  • Save the Cat. Screenwriting advice that’s funny, clear, and works for novels, too. After trying Blake Snyder’s Beat Sheet to develop plot and character (and reading the beat sheets of a variety of movies) I now feel like I’m Neo in the Matrix, able to see the code behind the action. You will, too.
  • We Need Diverse Books: How to Prepare to Write a Diverse Book. Excellent advice for writers of all genres with links and additional resources.
  • We Need Diverse Books: A Guide to Spotting and Growing Past Stereotypes. Useful checklist and reminders to create real characters who inspire.
  • Writer’s Digest. Practical articles for fiction and nonfiction writers, plus interviews and profiles. Covers children’s lit, but not much about poetry.
  • Writing the Other. I recently read Writing the Other: A Practical Approach, which I highly recommend for writers interested in conveying people unlike themselves in a respectful way (which should be all of us!). The website offers even more information, videos, links, and encouragement, as well as a series of classes and community that sound absolutely inspiring. A real treasure trove for all writers!

Specifically kidlit

  • Great Storybook. This site and newsletter is full of tips, support, advice, and information. Plus, Chazda welcomes comments and suggestions through email and a private Facebook group.
  • Multicultural Children’s Book Day. Each year, this organization hosts a celebration of diverse children’s literature through blogger book reviews, Twitter parties, and book giveaways. Their site also offers guides for educators and librarians about empathy in the classroom, reading resources, book lists, and activities.
  • Rhyme Revolution. Angie Karcher hosts a similar picture-book-brainstorming site focusing on writing excellent rhyming books. I attended one of her conferences and had a terrific time meeting truly lovely, supportive people.
  • SCBWI. The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. Offers local support groups, newsletters, conferences, connections, and support at every career stage.
  • Tara Lazar/Storystorm (formerly PiBoIdMo). A supportive blog and community particularly for picture book writers and illustrators. Every year, creators are encouraged to participate in Storystorm, a “monthlong brainstorming event” with prizes and a lovely sense of community to encourage your own creativity.
  • Was the Cat in the Hat Black?: The Hidden Racism of Children’s Literature and the Need for Diverse Books by Philip Nel. This amazing nonfiction book explores ways in which “classic” and modern books for kids reinforce racist tropes, harming kids of all races. Heavily researched and annotated, the book offers a deep exploration as well as suggestions for reading intelligently with kids (as opposed to whitewashing or censoring books). Includes A Manifesto for Anti-Racist Children’s Literature for all creators, publishers, and readers.
  • We Need Diverse Books. This organization does amazing work to promote diversity in children’s literature, both on the page and behind the scenes, offering grants, scholarships, and support for writers.
  • Writing Blueprints. A self-paced class you can repeat from the editors and publishers of Children’s Book Insider. Each Blueprint offers worksheets, videos, and editing suggestions,as well as access to the instructors and fellow writers through social media to keep the conversation going. Read my review of the Chapter Book Blueprint.