Friday, January 23, 2009

Follow The Leader

There are probably a million (or, according to my friend and colleague, D’Ann Mateer, five bazillion) blogs out there. Many of them are by and/or for writers. Writing is a lonely occupation. I’ve always loved this quotation from Meg Chittenden that sums it up pretty well: "Some people hear voices when no one's around. They are called mad, and sit in a room all day and stare at the walls. Others are called writers, and they do pretty much the same thing."

With the advent of the Internet, writers can experience a sense of community without ever leaving their home. I believe this explains the popularity of forums that I consider the equivalent of the old-fashioned conversation over the back fence: loops (like the ACFW loop), groups (such as Writer’s Edge), social networks (Facebook, Twitter, and others), and blogs (too numerous to count). These are all great ways to stay in touch, and I participate in some of them myself. But be warned that everything you read there may not qualify as expert instruction in the art and craft of writing. I frequently have to warn friends that the medical information they've seen on the Internet isn't necessarily reliable. The same holds with writing (and, presumably, other things like calf roping, car repair, and making wine in your basement).

I wanted to call your attention to a few blogs and web sites that I think offer valuable advice and instruction for writers. There are two reasons I consider these sites worth reading: I agree with most of what they say, and these folks have demonstrated their expertise by having their book(s) published or being a successful agent. The list isn’t exhaustive, and if I’ve left your site off, please accept my apologies. These are just a few of my own favorites.

I’ll start with CBA Rants and Ramblings, by my agent, Rachelle Gardner. Rachelle’s posts have addressed the entire spectrum of writing and publishing. Check out the sidebar index to read about queries, proposals, relationships with agents, and so many, many more things. No wonder her web site has been named one of the top 101 for writers by Writer’s Digest.

Agent Chip MacGregor offers advice and opinions on the world of writing and publishing at his web site. In addition, there’s a little tab for “publishing resources” hidden off to the side that gives a goldmine of information about queries, proposals, etc. I think Chip enjoys presenting a gruff image occasionally, but he’s really a nice guy.

Randy (I’m just your normal quantum physicist) Ingermanson is the author of the Advanced Fiction Writing blog. Randy’s currently in the midst of an exercise to distill the gist of the plot of Star Wars down to a single sentence, a single paragraph, etc. He offers excellent advice, and I always learn something when I read his blog. Don’t miss the tab at the top for other resources he offers.

Mary DeMuth has a very nice blog, So You Want To Be Published, in which she offers tips and critiques, has great interviews and guest blogs from others in the publishing industry, and in general offers help and encouragement for those of us struggling along this road.

Speculative fiction guru Jeff Gerke holds forth at Where The Map Ends. In addition to links to his press, Marcher Lord, Jeff has some extremely good teaching material. This is stuff that I’ve had to pay the registration fee at conferences to hear. On the blog, he gives it away for free. Take advantage of it.

My friend and colleague, Dr. Michael Palmer, has a web site that, in addition to information about his books (such as First Patient) contains a tab to a section on tips for writers. Worth a visit.

In a similar fashion, author and former astronaut candidate, Austin Boyd, has a tab on his web site that details his writing journey and provides helpful tips for writers.

The list could be even longer, but you get the idea. The people I’ve mentioned have proven themselves in a profession where it’s difficult to do so. In my opinion, that gives considerable weight to the writing tips they’re kind enough to pass on. I guess it’s kind of like the picture above. (If you skipped the printing on the back of the tee shirt, go back and read it). If I see a person on the street running away, I’m going to think about doing the same thing. But if I see a bomb squad member running, I may pass him on the backstretch.


One More Writer said...

Great post with some great sites listed. And thanks for plugging me, too!

Mary DeMuth said...

Thanks for the mention, Richard!

lynnrush said...


Your photo up top cracks me up!!! Oh, and then the saying about mad people hearing voices, etc.

I'm laughing out loud. I can attest to the sites you've listed. I visit them frequently.

Just by reading them and interacting with them, I've learned a great deal.

THANKS, Richard. Have a great Friday!!