Cinda Williams Chima

Links & Resources for Writers

Write every day. It's easier to keep a patient on life support than to resurrect the dead.
- Janet Fitch. (author of White Oleander)

Don’t be a writer unless you have to. If you have to, well, then--it takes a lot of work to be any good at it. Even then, there are no guarantees.

Enjoy the process. If you want to be a writer, I think you have to enjoy the process of writing. We all want our literary “children” to be successful, but don’t write for the money. There are easier, more reliable ways of making money. Most writers will never make a living at it. But if you love the process of writing, of getting down the words, of sieving out those that don’t belong, of sharing your stories with even a small circle, then the success you have is the chocolate syrup on the sundae.

Read widely. I think writers should read widely, especially in their genre.

Learn the basics. Rules are made to be broken, but you don’t want your work discounted because of punctuation, spelling, and point of view issues. Most of us wouldn’t think of becoming an auto mechanic without some kind of training or apprenticeship. People confuse the physical skill of writing or keyboarding with the mental piece. Because most of us learned the physical skill in elementary school, we think no further instruction is needed.

Find a good critique group. That is my number one recommendation. This has made a huge difference in my writing. It’s not enough to hand your work off to a spouse or friend who will tell you it’s terrific. That doesn’t make you better. Critique, done right, is a gift. Where do you find a critique group? Critique groups are often housed in libraries or bookstores. Sometimes they grow out of writing workshops. Some national writing organizations (like the Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators) have local chapters with critique groups. Or post a note in a library or bookstore and form your own.

Never forget that the reader is always boss. If a reader says, “I don’t get it,” your job is not to explain why it has to be the way it is. Your job is to fix it.

Learn the rules of critique in order to make the most of it.

Below are some documents that I've put together to cover the questions that I receive from aspiring writers.

Have questions about how to get started in writing for children or teens? Click here to download "Getting Started in Writing for Children and Teens," a guide I developed that includes lots of sources and resources for learning more about craft and publishing. There are lots of links in there, so if any of them go belly-up, please email me to let me know!
Getting Started in Writing for Children and Teens (pdf)

Here are some of my thoughts about the importance of having an agent.
How to find an agent (pdf)

Want to read more about the craft of writing? Try these books.
Books for Writers


Useful Links for Writers

Of course, the kinds of links that are useful to you will depend on what you’re writing. But here are some of my favorites.

I often answer writers' questions on my blog,
Follow the tag labeled Young Writers Q & A.

Writing Organizations

Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers Association of America
Their web site is packed full of useful content, from information about writing techniques to member web pages, to warnings about unscrupulous and predatory editors and agents. You don’t have to write science fiction to benefit from this site.

Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators
Even if you’re not a member, this web site delivers. The links alone are worth the price of admission (free!) Join the SCBWI, and you can benefit from their publications and member message boards.

The Authors’ Guild
This organization is an advocate for writers of all kinds. You need to meet publication standards to join, but the web site posts publishing news, information about book contracts, and other information. The Authors’ Guild provides free web design to members and inexpensive web site hosting.

Author link
Another member organization with a site that is useful to non-members, Publishing news, interviews with editors and authors.

Information About Agents
Keep in mind that agents can submit themselves for placement on many sites. Thus a listing on a site is no guarantee of quality or honesty. a searchable list of agents who represent a wide range of works tips for avoiding fraudulent agents list of agents whose clients have complained to SFWA model agent contract Association of Authors’ Representatives includes list of members and suggested questions for an agent you are considering. AAR members must meet standards including adherence to a code of conduct and a minimum number of sales. A list of literary agents. Agents can post their own information, so do your research. SCBWI offers a listing of agents to its members. If you write for children, it’s well worth joining.

General Information

The Purple Crayon
ite focused on Children’s Publishing. By Harold Underdown.

Write4Kids is the web site of the Children’s Book Insider, a subscription service, but includes lots of free articles and info.

Homework for Aspiring Writers
Visit Cynthia Leitich-Smith's information-packed writer resource page with
information on agents, marketing, and craft.

Great Advice for Teenage Writers from John Scalzi

Award-winning Ohio author and teacher Scott Lax's Advice for Serious Writers

Lisa Firke at specializes in web site development for authors and illustrators


Ralan’s Webstravaganza
Specifically targeted at science fiction, fantasy, and horror markets.
Subscription site; continuously updated, affiliated with the hardcopy Writers Market. Can search agents and publishers, by a variety of criteria.

Other Authors

Children's and Young Adult Author Cynthia Leitich Smith
Official author site features biography, bibliographies, articles, interviews, links, etc. Smith's books include Jingle Dance (Morrow/HarperCollins, 2000), Rain Is Not My Indian Name (Harper Collins, 2001), Indian Shoes (HarperCollins, 2002), Tantalize (Candlewick, 2007), and Santa Knows (Dutton, 2006).
Cynthia Leithch Smith

Critique Links
You will notice that a lot of these resources are related to science fiction and fantasy writing. That’s because SFF writers have a long history of workshop critiquing.

Longridge Writers Group
This site covers rules of critique as well as guidelines for managing critique group problems

Turkey City Lexicon
Site directed at science fiction and fantasy writers, but all writers will see themselves here (and have a good laugh too) Tips for the actual process of critiquing

James Patrick Kelly’s article on Writing Workshops

DISCLAIMER: I have no affiliation with any of the external web sites listed here. I don’t guarantee nor take responsibility for the quality, accuracy, and legitimacy of any of the content published on these web sites.