Resources for Writers · Uncategorized

Craft Books

Hey, fellow writers! The following is a list of my all-time favorite craft books with some of my thoughts on each and links to Goodreads for more information.

I’d love to hear from you about your favorites as well. Please feel free to share them in the comments section. 🙂

51INMIZnddLVERBALIZE by Damon Suede.

A fresh way of viewing and crafting fiction that will blow your mind and offer a blueprint to reassemble the pieces. Forget what you know about building a character. With humor, wisdom, and vivid examples from popular fiction, Damon offers a better way to go about building a book—from a character’s core outward and utilizing verbs. Helpful exercises make it easy to apply his craft advice whether you are a plotter, pantser, or an inbetweener. This book is a game-changer not only for the writers who pick it up but for genre-fiction as a whole.

on writing romanceON WRITING ROMANCE: HOW TO CRAFT A NOVEL THAT SELLS by Leigh Michaels

This is one of the first craft books I ever picked up. Once upon a time, I figured out that the romance plot was central to all my stories and began seeking sources to help me. This book was an incredible eye-opener. On Writing Romance begins with the history of the romance novel and moves to particulars about its craft including subgenres, character-building, and conflict.

Read more about this title on Goodreads by clicking here.



The full title of this book says it all: Thanks, But This Isn’t For Us: The Compassionate Guide to Understanding What’s Wrong With Your Writing and Leaving the Rejection Pile for Good. Morrell is one of my all-time favorites. You’ll see two more titles by her on this list. In this book, she uses her unique sense of humor and relatable examples to share common errors newbie writers need to know. Also, the cover is adorable.

Read more about Morrell’s title on Goodreads by clicking here.



This is an indispensable look at the very heart of any story. I’ve read blog and portions of craft books that cover this topic, but I enjoy the depth to which Dixon takes it. You can have all the beautiful prose in the world, but if your story lacks a strong foundation, you will lose your reader.

Read more about Dixon’s title on Goodreads by clicking here.



Did you get a kick out of the title? I did. 🙂

In this book, Morrell goes deep into the antagonist–offering character types, pitfalls, and advice on strengthening your bad guys. Go deep into the dark side.

For more on Morrell’s book, click here.


on writingON WRITING: A MEMOIR OF THE CRAFT by Stephen King

An incredibly inspiring book by some writer of whom I’m sure you’ve never heard. 🙂 But in all seriousness, this is an incredible all-around book that is part life, part writing, part wisdom.

For more on King’s book, click here.



WRITING THE BREAKOUT NOVEL by Donald Maassbreakout novel

This is an all-around great book that offers writing techniques to help your work stand out in the slush pile.

Read more about Maass’s book by clicking here.




This is a fabulous book to read during the revision process. It’s a lot to take in, so I suggest reading a bit, applying, and going back for more. In this book, Morrell “shows you how to craft a unified and layered novel or short story by mastering subtle storytelling techniques” (Goodreads blurb).

Read more about Morrell’s title by clicking here.

Stick Figures

RWA Conference in NYC Blew My Mind!

imageReally, there is nothing like writing romance.  To be in a hotel full of people who are happiest when writing about love (and whose sense of humor reflects that) was truly something.  During this year’s RWA Nationals, I felt like I had come home. 🙂

Every writer’s experience at Nationals was a little different since we’re all in a difference place on our career track.  My goals for the conference were to meet and socialize with a ton of new writers (check!), take as many workshops as I could on craft and career (check!), and pitch the book of my heart (check!).

I made it a goal that in every workshop I attended, every breakfast I went to, and every granola bar “lunch” I ate while camping on the carpet in the sci fi elevator atrium, I introduced myself to another writer.  It was exciting to hear so many different writers’ stories, what they wrote, why they wrote it, and what they were seeking to achieve by attending the conference.  Allie Burton and Vanessa Barneveld, were YA authors whose books I read right before the conference, and it was a blast to go complete fan girl on them!

Many of the workshops I attended answered burning questions I had about the industry and traditional publication.  A common theme I picked up from several workshops was that series sell.  Readers who trust you as an author are excited to read the next book, and they want that title fast.  Authors who spend a lot of time constructing a story world find it easier to put out several books in that same universe than to start over in their very next piece, constructing a new world.  This got me rethinking how I write.  I prefer writing stand alones, but I can see myself writing a series that takes place in the same universe given each book contains its own hero and heroine and that plot stands strongly on its own.  I’m actually getting really excited about the prospect of writing a series and have begun toying with ideas for sequels to the manuscripts I’m currently working on.

Something that crystallized for me during the conference as a writer of YA is the difference in marketing and audience between YA romance and adult romance.  Many presenters touched on what sells and how to connect with an audience using social media, but what was said was generally understood to apply to adult romance and did, at times, directly conflict with what works for YA.  For this reason, I was very excited to attend the young adult chapter’s Evening of YA event.

During the event, I was very lucky to sit with some new friends I’d met at the conference as well as an agent and an editor.  The night included an agent/editor panel that reflected on changes and trends in the industry–focusing specifically on YA romance.  Next came an author’s panel to discuss their own take on the industry and what made their books successful.  What stuck with me from the author’s panel was how dedicated those authors were to their audience, connecting through social media, speaking with readers at signings and school visits, and–some of them–changing the lives of their readers through the messages contained in their stories.

It’s been a few weeks since I jumped back on the train with an arm load of books and a head full of ideas, but I’m still thinking back to specific workshops or conversations and having hmmmmm moments.  In general, I feel like I’m standing on more solid ground–that the decisions I make from here on out will help me to writer smarter, and I hope to keep up with a lot of the writers I met chillin’ in that arctic AC.  My husband doesn’t know it yet, but I’m totally going to next year’s conference.  Here’s to San Diego 2016!

Michelle Joyce Bond


Best Craft Book (In My Opinion) of All Time: THANKS, BUT THIS ISN’T FOR US by Jessica Page Morrell

untitledIt is my firm belief that any writer, novice to pro, can benefit from reading this “(Sort of) Compassionate Guide to Why Your Writing Is Being Rejected” written by an editor who has seen it all. Entertaining and informative, she reveals common pitfalls and guides writers to write the best book possible–beginning with the underpinnings of fiction including plot, conflict, and character. She then moves outward in chapters on sensory detail, dialogue, style, emotion, and more. I come back to this book at least once a year, especially when I’m in the planning stages of my writing. If you are a novice–even if you’ve never submitted a manuscript–consider it your duty to pick up this book!  Seriously…READ IT.

Michelle Joyce Bond

Stick Figures

OMG, Word Space!

imageWord space = the amount of space in a text that passes before a given word pops up again

Listening to books on disc in your car that have not been revised for word space = you flailing your arms and shouting obscenities while pedestrians stare in bewilderment

Imagine, if you will, that all words have a unique charge.  They push away from each other, so you can’t have too many of them in the same page or even in the same chapter.  The exceptions to this rule include articles, pronouns, and other frequently used words that are basic to the reader’s comprehension.  Almost every other word, like voice for instance, needs to be handled with care.

Terrible example:

“Are you going to kiss me now?” Ronald asked in a husky voice.

Burger’s voice dropped in pitch. “Oh yes.”

“Then why,” Ronald started, his voice catching, “don’t you take off that box and come over here?” *end scene*

Granted, the book playing in my car had a good enough plot to get me through dialogue like this (something much more riveting than burger love), but every time a word got repeated, I felt like digging my fingernails into the dashboard.

People please REVISE FOR WORD SPACE!  Otherwise, I swear, I’ll go flying off a cliff.

Michelle Joyce Bond


Write to Entertain: Give Us Brain Candy

imageSo as not to get bored during the course of my brief rant, please imagine a horde of adorable rabbits breaking into your room with a boom box and proceeding to dance to Michael Jackson’s “Thriller.”  Good?  Okay.

Write to entertain–it’s your job.  Even if you write an article to inform, you need to keep your audience alive.  Play on their emotions.  Tickle their bones–funny or otherwise.  Scare them.  Shock them.  Make them uncomfortable.

This goes for blogs as well as books.  If you’re reading this, I gather you have a blog.  Whatever its purpose, play to your audience.  One cannot write well in a vacuum.  Words keep getting sucked into the dust bucket where they swirl around in a suck storm of writing that stays inside of you and never makes it into the hearts or minds of your readers.  Remember why you’re posting.  It’s not just as a reflection of yourself (or ideal self).  It’s another way of communicating or connecting with other human beings, and you must have patience with us.  We are flawed, myopic, and ADD.  Give us some brain candy, and we might listen.

If you have any thoughts to add on thIs topic–or that of dancing rabbits–please post below.  🙂