Becoming a Writer, Podcasts, Reading, Welcoming the Muse, Writing

More Top Ten Books for Authors

Last week, I discussed my favorite writing craft books. I’m back this week with a second list of recommended reads for writers.

Becoming a Writer

1) If you’re ever planning to attempt National Novel Writing Month (Nanowrimo). In November each year, hundreds of thousands of writers attempt to write 50,000 words in one month. Don’t go for it without the definitive guidebook from the founder of the annual writing exercise. No Plot! No Problem! by Chris Baty.


2) Novelist Claire Cook (most famous for Must Love Dogs) recently came out with Never Too Late. There’s also a free companion workbook at her site. Great reinvention stories in here. If you ask me, the story of the table read and Christopher Plummer was worth the cost of the book. Love this one.

Never too late

3) Another novelist, Barbara Samuels wrote The Care and Feeding of the Girls in the Basement which is another collection of inspiring essays about the writing life. Stephen King coined the term the boys in the basement for the weird, subconscious mind of a writer. The romance novel version of this is the Girls in the Basement. It’s why I figured out the missing second half of the second act just as I sat down to watch the Minion movie. Successful writers learn to hone those strange flashes of inspiration and Samuels does a good job discussing it.


4) Kristine Kathryn Rush’s best known writing work is the Freelancer’s Survival Guide, which is excellent. I loved her Pursuit of Perfection though and have read it at least twice.

Pursuit of Perfection

5) And her husband, Dean Wesley Smith, also has some great writing books out there. They both have fabulous blogs also. I think if I had to pick my favorite, I’d pick Killing the Sacred Cows of Indie Publishing, but much like Rusch, you can’t go wrong with any of his titles.


6) Larry Brooks is another author in this same category. Anything he’s written. All of it’s great. And his website is wonderful (Storyfix). I think Story Engineering is my favorite but I also laugh at Warm Hugs for Writers a lot. If I need just the right pick me up, I’ll grab that.

Story Engineer

7) Though it may seem odd, one excellent way to learn to structure novels is to learn from screenwriting. There are multiple books out there on that very subject. One of the best and easiest to understand is by author Alexandra Sokoloff’s Screenwriting Tricks for Authors. She also wrote Writing Love, which may be helpful if you’re trying to write a romance.


8) Okay, so maybe it’s not technically a book (yet-I’d love for him to write one). Storywonk’s Alastair Stephens The Journeyman Writer, a thrice weekly podcast of 5-7 minutes on various writing topics, Alastair does a brilliant job of dispensing practical advice to the working writer. I seriously have breakfast with this podcast three times a week. Love it. (Full disclosure–Alastair is also my copy-editor).


9) Jack Bickham’s Scene and Structure. This book contains the famous explanation of a scene and a sequel scene showcasing the character’s reaction and making a plan. I’ve read this one over and over and still find new insight. Definitely a keeper.


10) And my own book of writing prompts,  Welcoming the Muse. Available for less than $1 🙂

Welcoming the Muse

Next week, we’ll talk about some fantastic writing blogs.

Lost Art of Second Chances, Nanowrimo, Welcoming the Muse, Writing, writing challenge

Storming the Castle


I’m not doing National Novel Writing Month (Nanowrimo) this year and it’s such an odd experience for me. Usually, in November, I’m putting everything in my life on hold to hit that 50K word count.

This year, I’m not participating for a couple of reasons.

1) We’re going on a long awaited family vacation and I didn’t want to impact that. Plus, getting ready for said vacation takes up a lot of time. I now understand my father, also an entrepreneur, always complaining about the ramp down and ramp up time before vacation when we were kids.

2) It falls at the wrong time in my process. I’m more focused on editing than drafting right now. I’m editing Welcoming the Muse and The Lost Art of Second Chances. The drafting I’m doing now is on shorter fanfic pieces for the holidays so I wouldn’t hit (and wouldn’t want to hit) 50K on them.

3) Now that I write full-time, Nano is not a challenge. I wrote 68K in November in fiction and more than that in fanfic and blog posts. It’s just another day’s work.

That said, I do love Nano. I love the energy and optimism around it. Of course, by now, mid-way in week two, that’s faded to bitter hatred but that’s normal, that’s just drafting. Nanowrimo taught me a lot and I’m grateful. Next year, I’ll be saddling up with you all. But, until then, kids, have fun storming the castle! 🙂

Lost Art of Second Chances, Nanowrimo, Welcoming the Muse, Writing, writing challenge

Inspiration for the Nano-ers

Happy November 1st!


While most of the world is still in a sugar coma from trick-or-treating yesterday, Nanowrimo (National Novel Writing Month) kicks off today. Get cracking my friends.


I am not officially participating in Nano this year for two reasons. We are going on a long awaited family vacation during Thanksgiving week so I’m spending most of the month prepping for that. And also, it just doesn’t fall at the right time during my writing process this year. I’m working on getting Welcoming the Muse and The Lost Art of Second Chances through final edits.

I routinely write more than 50K a month now (last month alone clocked in at about 68K) but, for me, the key to winning Nano is get a lead and keep it. So, rack up those words Wrimos.

And just for a little bit of extra inspiration for you, here’s Ze Frank’s invocation for beginnings (probably NSFW for language). May your FLLDI be strong and take off that tutu.