“We are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master.”

Ernest Hemingway

Writer 

Resources

Mr. Hemingway certainly made a point there. Writing is a life-long learning experience. And as authors, we must refine our writing skills as much as we can day after day to give our readers the very best. We owe it to them!

I personally believe good writing is a mixture of talent, drive, practice, patience and learning. Luckily, there are countless people out there willing to share their knowledge and expertise with the world. Their books, webpages, courses, and services are the ones you'll find in this section. I don't share or promote any resources I haven't experienced first hand and that I don't consider truly valuable. That's my promise to you. I'll update this list on a regular basis, every time I discover a new gem.

Please note that some of the links in this section contain affiliate links, meaning I get a commission if you decide to make a purchase through them, at no cost to you. I've clearly marked them with a "        " so you know where they're located. Thanks for helping me support my website!  

 

Books & Guides

"In The Magic Words, editor Cheryl B. Klein guides writers on an enjoyable and practical-minded voyage of their own, from developing a saleable premise for a novel to finding a dream agent. With its generous tones and useful tools for story analysis and revision, The Magic Words is an essential handbook for writers of children's and YA fiction . . ."

"Mary Kole's candid commentary and insightful observations, as well as a collection of book excerpts and personal insights from bestselling authors and editors who specialize in the children's book market, are invaluable tools for your kidlit career. If you want the skills, techniques, and know-how you need to craft memorable stories for teens and tweens, Writing Irresistible Kidlit can give them to you . . ."

"You dream of writing stories that children respond to–the kind they come back to again and again. Nancy Lamb can help you achieve that dream. She mixes insightful advice for mastering storytelling with dozens of examples that illustrate a variety of plot-building techniques. Nancy also shares writing tips and tricks accumulated through years of successful storytelling–invaluable advice for crafting fiction..."

"Whether you're writing a novel, a short story, a play, or a screenplay, the 7 stage approach of The Writer's Compass allows you to focus on one apect of your story at a time--including forming and developing ideas, building strong structures, creating vibrant characters, and structuring scenes and transitions . . ."

"'Writing is a craft you can learn,' says Roy Peter Clark. 'You need tools, not rules.' In this essential guide, Clark distills decades of experience into fifty-five tools that writers of all kinds can use every day . . . Whatever your task, Writing Tools will teach you how to be a more fluent and effective writer -a writer with a purpose, a plan, and a workbench full of tools . . ."

"Part memoir, part master class by one of the bestselling authors of all time, this superb volume is a revealing and practical view of the writer’s craft, comprising the basic tools of the trade every writer must have. King’s advice is grounded in his vivid memories from childhood through his emergence as a writer, from his struggling early career to his widely reported, near-fatal accident in 1999—and how the inextricable link between writing and living spurred his recovery..."

"This edition contains the original version of The Elements of Style, written in 1918 by Cornell University English Professor William Strunk Jr. Over the years, generations of college students and writers have learned the basics of grammar from this little book . . ."

"Learning how to write a novel is hard but doing so by studying one of the best-selling, most-beloved novels of all time makes it a lot easier. In this book, former college professors and authors Scott King and Clark Chamberlain will teach you how to write a novel using Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone as their study guide and example . . ."

For reviews of the MG novels I'm reading please click here.

 

Online Learning 

I'm  a self-taught children's author. I don't have an MFA or any other creative writing degree  (I've got a college degree in Public Relations and an MD in Corporate Communications and Marketing). And even if I've loved writing since I was a child, I decided to become an author much later in life, at age 44. If I'd known this twenty years earlier I would've certainly taken a different road. But, thankfully, in the era of the Internet, this somewhat late awakening didn't pose much of a problem. Nowadays, there are many high-quality, educational resources online for aspiring authors. The ones below have helped me immensely and I can't recommend them enough.

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Children's Book Insider (CBI)

 

One of the very first things I did when I decided to pursue a career as an author was to subscribe to CBI, Children's Book Insider. For a very affordable fee ($5.49 per month or $49.95 yearly) they send you a monthly, online magazine with excellent advice and priceless information on the craft, market tips and inspiration, plus a cool little extra called the "Above the Slushpile" code, which provides direct access  to a different editor/agent each month. CBI is known to be "the" source for all aspiring and working children's writers, and their huge knowledge base has been extremely useful to me. For further info visit: https://cbiclubhouse.com/clubhouse/.

Writing Blueprints

Developed by CBI's Laura Backes and Jon Bard, the Blueprint Method is a totally new approach to teaching writing. It provides a solid, step-by-step process that leads to a finished book. With a Blueprint tool, the task of writing, revising or publishing a book is broken down into tiny steps. Each step includes expert instruction from a top writing professional, and forms that allow writers to complete that step. After finishing the course, you'll have a solid, revised draft of your story and you'll have been seamlessly guided by a pro every step of the way.

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Try it for yourself and see!

Manuscript Submission Blueprint

Instructor: Mary Kole

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As a debut author, I had a very vague of idea what the submission process for a MG novel was.  Incredibly enough, this blueprint arrived just in time! Taught by an industry pro (not only does Mary have years of experience as an agent with Andrea Brown Literary Agency and Movable Type Management, she's also a full-time book editor), it gave me more, much more than I expected. And not only. After this Blueprint I enlisted Mary's editing services in what turned out to be the most amazing learning experience in my entire writer's life (more on that here).

In short, if you're a debut author that's ready to submit, you must check this Blueprint out first. You'll be surprised of how "un-ready" you are. Trust me on this one!

Mastering "Show Don't Tell" Masterclass

Instructor: Emma Watson Hamilton

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I subscribed to this Masterclass after finishing the first draft of my debut novel. Of course I thought it was perfect (ha-ha). But Emma's lesson helped me understand exactly where I needed improvement. "Show Don't Tell" is the first commandment of writing. If we can't get that straight, then we're not going anywhere! Emma is a best-selling children’s book author, editor and writing coach (and daughter to actress/author Julie Andrews).

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Editing Services

It was February 2019. I'd just finished revising my first-ever manuscript (or that's what I thought) and was ready to submit it to my agent list. I was proud of myself, I certainly was. But, at the same time, I had this heavy feeling in my heart. Something was missing, and I knew what it was: my novel had never been critiqued by beta readers, a critique group, or a professional editor. Yup, it was time to face the elephant in the room.

 

I'm a native English-Spanish speaker living in Italy. Talk about a language mishmash! Submitting my query without receiving any external feedback could be very "dangerous." I risked losing my credibility with agents in a snap if my writing didn't reflect their standards.

 

Finding experienced native-English beta readers or critique groups in Rome was highly unlikely, so I'd have to hire the services of a professional editor. If I was planning to go anywhere with my writing, this was a necessary passage. And not only. Submitting the very best version of their story was something I owed to my characters. Those little, ethereal beings I loved so very much.

I enlisted editor Mary Kole's services after completing the Manuscript Submission Blueprint offered by Writing Blueprints, which she teaches. And here comes the "good part." What I believed to be a "perfectly polished manuscript" was nothing but a hot mess. It lacked tension and conflict, an adequate structure, proper pacing, and a middle-grade voice, to mention a few. If I had sent it to agents as it was, they would've discarded it with a hearty laugh. Argh!

As you can imagine, my world crumbled to pieces. But I dried my tears and rose from my ashes. I rebuilt every inch of my story from page one onwards. And it was the best thing I could ever do. As Above, So Below . . . Or Almost is the result of this devastating earthquake and of Mary's patient guidance through the whole process. Today, both my characters and I can't be any happier.

What kept me going was Mary's closing words on my first report: "I do realize that some of this feedback is going to be extremely challenging, even frustrating. I see great potential here, though, and I wouldn’t be giving it to you if I didn’t think you were capable of addressing it. This has been a fantastic project to work on, and I can’t wait to see where you take it. I believe in it, and in you!"

Needless to say, I can't recommend Mary's services enough.

 

For further info:  Mary Kole Editorial - https://marykole.com

 
 

Websites for Writers 

I'm a hungry writer in the age of the Internet, and I feed heavily on online resources to constantly improve my writing skills. Below, you'll find a list of websites that have provided me valuable insight on the craft, the publishing industry, the agent world, the road to success, inspiration, etc. 

        Ex-literary agent now full-time editor Mary Kole's blog. Full of tips , tricks and suggestions to improve your writing.  

        With twenty years of experience in the publishing industry, she has a lot to share.​        

        More than a website, it's a writing community. You'll find loads of information, courses,  events, etc., etc., etc.

        Born in 1872 it's known as "The Bible of the Book Business". Need I say more?

        Of course, everybody knows Goodreads. But if you don't, it's an ultra-complete book hub you want to be part of.

        A treasure of info and resources for authors traveling the self-publishing road with plenty of info for writers in general.

        Website of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators.  You may want to join them.

        It's a publishing news website with a ranking of all literary agents, their sales, authors represented contact info, etc.

       Here, agents tell you what books they're looking for. Check if yours fits the bill before contacting them.

        The internet's largest, free database of literary agents.

        Keep your queries organized  in one single place. Here.

 

 

More to come!