Wednesday, September 30, 2009


Cynthia Leitch Smith, children’s writer and instructor at the Vermont College of Fine Arts MFA program in Writing for Children and Young Adults, authors a great blog called Cynsations. Her blog is "a source for interviews, reading recommendations, publishing information, literacy advocacy, writer resources, news in children's and teen literature."

You never know what treasure you'll find when you visit Cythia's blog. I always come away with a new nugget of knowledge.

Visit her website for even more resources!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009 states that it is “The preeminent Internet publisher of literature, reference and verse providing students, researchers and the intellectually curious with unlimited access to books and information on the web, free of charge."
You’ll find full-text versions of:

• Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations

• King James Bible

• Oxford Shakespeare

• Gray’s Anatomy

• Strunk’s Elements of Style

• World Factbook

• Harvard Classics & Shelf of Fiction (70 volumes)

• Over 50 volumes of poetry

• Darwin’s The Origin of the Species

• Einstein’s Relativity: The Special and General Theory

• Roget’s International Thesaurus of English Words

• And oh so much more!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Guide to Literary Agents

I’ve listed this blog under Agent Blogs although it is actually written by the editor of the Writer’s Digest yearly Guide to Literary Agents. This blog updates the current edition of the guide by posting updates and changes in the listings. It also offers other tidbits of information, such as the September 27th post on Word Count for Novels and Children’s Books: The Definitive Post. A great blog for up-to-date info on Agents even if you don’t own a copy of the guide.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

School Library Journal

This site isn’t just for school librarians. There is a lot of content for children’s writers:

• Free eNewsletters

• Daily children’s publishing news updates

• Articles about books and school libraries

• Articles from their latest print issue

• Book reviews

• Blogs (including my favorite A Fuse #8 Production from Elizabeth Bird, New York Public Library Children’s Librarian)

• Interviews

• Yearly Battle of the Kid’s Books

Saturday, September 26, 2009

The Purple Crayon

Harold Underdown, children’s book editor and author of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Publishing Children’s Books, has built an impressive site at The Purple Crayon devoted to information and articles about writing for children. Of special interest to anyone submitting manuscripts is the Who’s Moving Where? page which provides an up-to-date list of the latest moves of agents and editors. There are great articles to be found throughout the site from basic information to marketing your book.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Jacket Whys

This blog offers looks at and comments about children’s and young adult book covers. Recent posts have discussed the design of book spines and the trend for covers with feet, legs, and sometimes whole bodies hanging from the top of the book.

Jacket Whys' author, a Connecticut youth services librarian and former graphic designer, examines why the covers above are successful and show some other covers considered less successful.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Fiction Notes

Darcy Pattison shares a variety of writing tips and information through her blog and website, Fiction Notes. In her archive of posts you’ll find 30 Days to Stronger Characters, 30 Days to a Stronger Picture Book, 30 Days to a Stronger Novel and her famous Novel Diagnosis Series.

I’ve been using her revision workbook Novel Metamorphosis: Uncommon Ways to Revise as part of my recent revision strategy for my middle grade novel. I can highly recommend it.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Hip Writer Mama

Vivian from Massachusetts, who writes the Hip Writer Mama blog, has been counting the days as she works on a 30-day writing spree. She’s up to day 12. She’s thought of some interesting ways to “map out writing time” and has shared a few videos with information and inspiration. (ex: Kate DiCamillo on Writing, Ray Bradbury on Writing Persistently, and Christopher Vogler describing The Hero’s Journey for the movie, The Matrix.) She offers a“Write-a-Scene Writing Prompt” for each installment.

I always find something new when I visit Hip Writer Mama.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009


In addition to a dictionary with audio pronunciation, example sentences, and synonyms, you will also find:

• Thesaurus

• Encyclopedia

• Free Word of the Day via email.

• Daily Crossword

• Crossword Solver

• Translater that will translate your text into 50 languages

 • Word Games

 • Word Origins

 • Word Explorer Podcasts

• An Anagram Cracker

Monday, September 21, 2009

Brooklyn Arden

Reading editor blogs helps a writer understand the sometimes confusing world of publishing houses.  Brooklyn Arden is the blog of Cheryl Klein, editor. Ms. Klein’s posts are always interesting and informative. She is generous in sharing her knowledge. Recently, she posted on five qualities of good writing and an open letter to agents with a proposal for multiple submissions.

Sunday, September 20, 2009


I LOVE WORDLE! You can take any piece of text – short story, book chapter, letter, email, etc. – and create a word cloud by copying and pasting the text into a box and submitting it. Your word cloud appears quickly showing all of the words in your piece, sized according to the number of times they appear. There are hundreds (perhaps thousands?) of variations of clouds that you can make. Here are four variations of the first chapter of the latest revision of my middle grade novel:

Saturday, September 19, 2009

The Writer's Garden

The Writer’s Garden offers an amazing variety of writing advice, but my favorite place is its listing of College Writing Centers and OWLs (Online Writing Labs). You’ll be amazed by the number of colleges in their listing. You can also find listings of general writing sites and help with writing research papers, help with composing, revising, usage, and style.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Three Kisses for Tomie

This is a new blog subtitled “an all-star tribute to Tomie de Paola.” Children’s book illustrators have joined together to honor Tomie de Paola, one of the master children’s book illustrators and authors on his 75th birthday. The submissions will continue throughout the year. Check on this site often to see what new illustrations have been posted!

For more information about Tomie, here's his website:

And here is Tomie's blog:

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Writer Beware

Hosted at the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America, the Writer Beware website offers “Warnings about Literary Fraud and the Schemes, Scams, and Pitfalls That Target Writers.” These warnings are of use to ALL writers, not just those who write science fiction and fantasy.
 The blog includes postings by A.C. Crispin, Richard White, and Victoria Strauss, who keep us up to date with the people and companies to stay away when searching for publication.

Recent posts include information about:
  • a German academic publisher which is actually an author mill,
  • debunking a writers’ myth,
  • opting out of the Google Book Search Settlement, and
  • a literary agency which has been the subject of an ongoing investigation by the Florida Attorney General’s office.
Every author needs to check out these resources when you are ready to send your work out into the world.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Author Blogs

If you can't find enough blogs in the listing here on Writer Sites, go to Author Blogs, where you'll find a huge listing of blogs penned by writers!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Character Names

Need help naming your characters? There are many sites on the web that can assist you. Here are four you may find useful.
On The Baby Name Wizard site you will find Namipedia: The Encyclopedia of Baby Names with meanings and popularity, NameMapper for looking up names throughout the country, NameVoyager where you can type in a name one letter at a time and see the popularity of names with those combinations on a really cool graph.
At BabyZone you can look up baby names, meanings, and origins.
You can find pictures of people with a particular name who have uploaded their picture to the site and also find songs with the name in the title.
At the Social Security Administratin Online, you can find the top names for each year in history, starting with those born in 1880.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Unabridged - Charlesbridge Publishing

Charlesbridge Publishing produces wonderful books for children. Their blog, Unabridged, offers posts by their authors and editors. Here we can learn the story behind the story of their books and the secrets of what goes on behind the scene at a publishing house.
Their website offers information about their books and authors. Submission guidelines are easily found in the listing on the left side of the site.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

A Chair, a Fireplace & a Tea Cozy

According to the About Tea Cozy section of this blog, “Liz B. began Tea Cozy in 2005…It’s a discussion of books, movies, and TV shows; with an emphasis on books for children and teens.”

One of the things I love about this blog is the variety of the posts. Three recent posts included a post about an article by Mary Pearson at titled "What YA is and Isn’t", a review of the DVD collection of the 1980’s television show thirtysomething, and a review of My Life in France by Julia Child with Alex Prud’homme (Random House, Paperback ed. 2009)

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Verla Kay

I'm proud to be a Blueboarder! That's the nickname of the registered members of the Verla Kay Message Boards. We're a large group of children's writers and illustrators brought together by Verla Kay, the writer of historical picture books. Verla generously built and maintains an information-packed website that hosts one of the busiest and most well-respected message boards on the Web.

According to the About Me section of Verla's blog: "Her message board page has been getting an average of between nine hundred thousand and one million hits per month since January of 2007. It currently has over 2000 registered members. In the past few years, the 'Blueboard' has become almost an 'icon' for children’s writers and illustrators."

Friday, September 11, 2009

How to be a Children’s Book Illustrator

How to Be a Children’s Book Illustrator is the blog creation of Mark G. Mitchell. According to the “About Me” page:  “The blog features interviews with children’s illustrators and offers insights on painting with traditional and digital mediums.”

I’m someone who never made it beyond stick figures and tulips in art, so I’m fascinated with the illustration side of publishing. Visual artists are magicians and I am in awe of their talents. Mark’s blog offers a glimpse into the artist’s world.

Recently he featured videos about the work of Caldecott Medal Winner Brian Selznick, author/illustrator of The Invention of Hugo Cabret and an interview with cartoonist, comics artist-author, web designer Erik Kuntz who drew a dog every day for a year and is the mastermind behind the web comic Hex Libris.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

The One-Minute Writer

Each day this blog offers a writing prompt and asks you to spend one minute writing about it on the theory that EVERYBODY has one minute to spare.

Here are the instructions from the site:

“1. Read the daily writing prompt.
2. Push "Play" on the timer on the right side of the screen.
3. Spend 60 seconds or less writing a response to the daily prompt.

You may respond in the "Comments" section of each post, if your response is family-friendly. Or you can use your word processor, or an old-fashioned pen and paper. It's up to you. Also feel free to use the "Comments" section for informal discussion about the responses that are posted.”

What’s a minute out of your life? I love the fact that they give you the timer. There is absolutely no excuse not to write. Who knows, the daily prompt may start you on the path to writing the great American novel.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Grow Wings: Laini Taylor

Laini Taylor, the author of Faeries of Dreamdark: Blackbringer. I loved this book, the story of Magpie, a kick-ass faerie living among crows and fighting a terrible devil to keep the dark from swallowing the world.

Two new books releasing :
Faeries of Dreamdark: Silksinger (available September 17, 2009)
Lips Touch (available October 2009)

In addition to writing, Laini is also a talented artist and the inventor of Laini Ladies. The collection consists of assorted ornaments, cards, and bookmarks adorned with beads, ribbon, and wire featuring quotes designed to inspire and motivate. (I have the Books Lady with the Louisa May Alcott quote hanging by my computer.)

Laini is also a new mom. Little Clementine was born on August 9, 2009. She has reddish-brown hair like her dad (from what I can tell from the pictures) and not the bright pink of her mom's lovely locks. Maybe the pink will grow in when she's a little older.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Archetype: The Fiction Writer's Guide to Psychology

I found this website while researching archetypes and felt like I’d struck gold! Here’s what the first paragraph on the home page says: “Maybe your character needs psychotherapy and you're wondering what goes on behind the closed doors of the therapist's office. Maybe you need to know how to make the psychologist in your fiction sound like a real shrink. Or maybe you're just looking for the psychology behind a really great villain, or wish you could ask a real clinician your psychology questions."

There is so much here that it will take you days to find it all. What you will find :
  • articles on psychological disorders
  • descriptions of some of the most common psychological tests
  • psychology jargon
  • research
  • media portrayals (including our favorite “Diagnosing Anakin Skywalker”)
  • Q & A section
  • articles about writng
  • story prompts for your Muse
  • a blog

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Bookshelf Muse - Emotion Thesaurus

At the Bookshelf Muse blog, located under Writing Resources on the left of this blog because of it’s value to writers, you will find three thesauruses (thesauri?) that you will visit time and time again. These include:

Emotion Thesaurus – long lists of physical actions that people exhibit with particular emotions.
         Ex: “Amusement: a quirked eyebrow or raised eyebrows; a snort of laughter; a chuckle, chortle or guffaw’ a wide grin; eyes squinting, lit with an inner glow or twinkle of mischief; a bemused smile…”

Setting Description Thesaurus - Sensory information for numerous settings.
     Ex: sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and touch for locations such as alley, amusement park, bakery, beach, forest, graveyard, hospital, locker room, mountains, etc.

Color, Textures and Shapes Thesaurus - Categories here include: black, green, silver, bumpy, crumbly, foamy/spongy, fuzzy, gritty, rectangle, saw-edged/serrated, etc.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Agent Search

If your manuscript is the best you can make it or if your nonfiction book proposal is complete, you'll probably be wanting to start querying agents. Here are three sites that can help you in that search.

This is LitMatch. You can join for free . It will assist you in finding agents and tracking your submissions to them.
At Agent Query the subheading reports that it’s “the internet’s largest and most current database of literary agents.” You can search for agents and read valuable information about queries and writing in general.
Query Tracker is a place to find literary agents, organize and track your queries, and view agent statistics. It says that it is the most advanced database of literary agents available on the web.
All three sources offer similar features. I recommend checking each of them out to see which is a better fit for your agent search. Good Luck!
If you know of any other good agent search sites, please let me know.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Author Magazine

Author Magazine is the home of the Pacific Northwest Writer's Association's online magazine. They have video interviews, book reviews, articles, and an editor's blog. I visit this site almost every week day to listen to the Daily Minute, a mini dose of inspiration from leading authors. (Today it was Bonny Becker!) I also subscribe to their email newsletter where they send information about new interviews and a list of the upcoming week's minutes.