Category Archives: Helpful sites

Helpful Writing Sites and Blog Posts – July 2010 Edition

I just realised it’s been two months since I last did one of these, so here is a round up of some helpful writing sites and blog posts I’ve come across in the past two months:

You Have to Believe

Rachelle Gardner (literary agent) has a great blog, with lots of fantastic posts for writers. This particular post was quite an inspiring one encouraging writers to believe in themselves. My favourite line: “God gave you something powerful – a story or a message, and the desire to share it. God is not in the business of tricking people, or of squandering anything – not talent, not passion, not time. Pursue your God-given passions with an unwavering faith. Praise and bless the obstacles. And keep believing.”

Tips for Pitching and Querying Agents

YA writer Ingrid Sundberg shared a hand-out from Andrea Brown agent Mary Kole that she received at an SCBWI agent day on pitching and querying. It includes some great advice, as well as step-by-step questions you should address in your pitch.

Try This Picture Book Editing Checklist

For anyone out there writing or editing a picture book this is a great checklist to refer to, from the editors of Children’s Book Insider, the Newsletter for Children’s Writers.

Will Literary Agents Really Read Your Query Letter?

This posts covers reasons why a query letter may not be read, the problems with many queries and some tips on how to write better queries.

The Power of the First Sentence

We all know how important that first sentence is in a manuscript, Brenda Hineman, a freelance writer, guest posts on this blog on what makes an opening sentence memorable.

Eleven Senses – Who Knew?

Anyone who reads my blog knows how much I’m a big fan of ‘show, don’t tell’ in writing, and whenever I talk about showing in writing I refer to using the five senses of taste, touch, sight, sound and smell. This workshop handout covers eleven senses, including pain, balance, sense of time, joint motion and acceleration, temperature differences, and direction. Not only does it describe how each of the senses work, but how they can be applied to writing, some writing exercises and, best of all, a comprehensive list of verbs for each of the senses to spice up your writing.

7 Techniques for a Dynamite Plot

An editor offers some solutions to common problems writers have when constructing their plot.

The Secret to Getting Published

Published author Karen Gowen offers some down-to-earth truths on what is and isn’t the secret to getting published. My favourite line: “You have to want it more than you want anything else. You must want it with every fibre of your being.”

3 Ways to Show, Don’t Tell

There’s my favourite writing mantra again! A short post covering verbs and nouns, sensory details and dialogue.

Query Letter Suicide

Another great post from YA Writer Ingrid Sundberg, this time sharing some advice from Agent Jill Corcoran of the Herman Agency. A comprehensive list of what not to do in a query letter.

Do You Know the Real Reason Not to Use the Passive Voice?

The dreaded ‘passive’ voice. It’s something I’m working on cutting in my novel revisions at the moment. This post by an editor shows an example of the difference between using the passive voice and the active voice when writing.

Advice for New Writers Blogfest

Last week I participated in Peevish Penman’s blogfest on ‘My Best Advice for New Writers’. There were 42 participants altogether. I haven’t quite got through reading all the posts yet, but the ones I have read have offered some fantastic advice. You can find the links to all of them on the Blogfest page, they’re well worth checking out.

Writing a Picture Book Query

_S070083-1 by nuttakit

For those of you who have been following my progress in the smories.com competition with my picture book entry ‘Can You Jump Like a Kangaroo‘ I have some good news to share. The competition ended two days ago and my story came in third! It may not have been first, but I was still extremely happy to win a place. Now I am preparing to query the story to publishers.

Writing a Picture Book Query: The Dilemma

I frequent quite a few agent and writing blogs and have collected a plethora of information on querying, however now I am faced with writing a query for a picture book I’ve found all my previous research on queries, which has primarily focused on querying novels, is not quite adequate for writing a PB query. I sat at my computer with a word document open, typed the initial salutation and then stopped. I know how to condense a 50k + word novel into a paragraph, I’ve written and rewritten queries for my YA novel many times over, but how do I write a paragraph summary of a picture book that’s only 147 words?

Sourcing Blogs for Query Writing Tips

I checked out a few picture book queries kidlit agent Mary Kole had commented upon on her blog during a query competition she held a while back to get some ideas (she has since removed these posts, but she has another post on picture book queries here, which I’ve also linked below). Through looking at these examples with comments from an agent who specialises in kidlit I was able to gain some insight into how a pictures book plot can be written in a query letter. I discovered channeling the voice of the book was a good first step. I wrote out my query with a better idea on how I could approach describing the story, but I still wasn’t sure if I was hitting the mark.

Seeking the Opinions of Those Who Have Written Successful Queries

I decided to seek out the opinions of two lovely Australian picture book authors I met through #pblitchat on Twitter. Kathryn Apel is the author of picture book This is the Mud and Karen Collum is the author of several picture books including one due out this September titled Samuel’s Kisses. I regard them both as being great sources of knowledge on all things PB related. They both gave me some great advice on writing a PB query. Here are the main points they made:

– Capture the heart and tone of your story in the query.

– Use small section of text from your book.

– Keep it short and sweet, one to two paragraphs is enough.

– Give the whole story in a nutshell, including the ending.

Armed with this great advice I shaped my query to match more with the tone of my story, with some little excerpts from the text weaved into it.

Query Critique

My query still needs some polishing so I’ve submitted it to the Query Kick-Around on YA Lit Chat (which also accomodates other types of kidlit, including picture books) and hopefully I’ll receive some helpful critique from some of the other members there.

Next step: Sending the queries to publishers here in Australia. I’ve got a list of a few of the publishers currently accepting unsolicited manuscripts for picture books, so hopefully one of them will love my story enough to publish it.

UPDATE:

Since I wrote this post a few sites/blogs have popped up with some helpful information on writing picture book queries, so I thought it might be helpful to update this post with some links.

Mary Kole on kidlit.com made a post specifically on how to write a picture book query: Picture Book Queries

The Query Shark bites into a picture book query: Query Shark #178

Looking for PB query critiques? The Write on Con forums have a section specifically dedicated to critiquing PB queries. Registration is free at the time of this post and it’s a site well worth joining if you’re a kidlit writer: Write on Con

Here is a helpful webinar video from Write on Con with Emma Walton Hamilton (aka The Query Whisperer): Picture Book Query Letters.

ANOTHER UPDATE:

Another great resource that’s cropped up in the last few years is the 12 x 12 Picture Book Writing Challenge. As well as providing great resources on picture book queries, you also get access to webinars from industry professionals that sometimes include helpful information on crafting picture book queries and even sometimes opportunities to have your query critiqued by a professional (such as the fabulous Emma Walton Hamilton). There is also access to a query critique forum where you can receive critique from fellow (often experienced) PB writers on your picture book query. While it does cost to join 12 x 12, it is a worthwhile investment for picture book writers who are serious about submitting to agents and editors. 12 x 12 is open to new members from about mid-January through to the end of February.

UPDATE (Feb 2016):

I’ve recently come across a post on picture book query writing from agent Maria Vicente of P.S. Literary Agency. She offers three great tips specific to picture book queries. You can find the post here: How to Query a Picture Book.

Picture by nuttakit

Creating 3D Characters: The Character Interview

I discovered a new writer’s chat on Twitter this week called #storycraft. It’s a chat dedicated to the discussion of various aspects of story craft and takes place Sunday 6-8pm (US Eastern time)/ Monday 8-10am (Australian EST). The topic for this week was about fleshing out characters so they are 3D and not flat cardboard cutouts, or worse, the dreaded Mary-Sue. A Mary-Sue character is one who is perfect in every way, beautiful, smart, loved by everyone… and boring because she has no flaws or quirks. The male equivalent is usually referred to as a Gary-Stu. If you want to test if your character is a Mary Sue there are many Mary-Sue litmus tests available online, here’s one you can try: The Universal Mary-Sue Litmus Test. It’s one of the most comprehensive ones I’ve come across.

One thing I do to ensure I have a 3D character is to do character profiles and character interviews before I start writing. By doing this I can ensure my characters are well rounded and well developed before I start writing them. It also helps me get inside their heads because I know how they will react to certain situations. My character profiles consist of basic background info: Full name; age; hometown; family; main strengths; and main weaknesses (it’s just as important to have weaknesses as strengths; real people have flaws, and so should your character).

For the character interviews I have a list of questions relating to different aspects of my character’s life and I answer them from the POV of my character. Here are some of the questions I ask (*note: I may not necessarily use the answers or background information in the story itself, it’s just a way to flesh out my characters in my head so I can find their unique voice):

Describe your family. (This is not just a list of the members of your character’s family, but how they would describe them.)

If your house was on fire and you could only grab 3 things, what would they be? (Shows what is important to your character.)

Are you religious at all, and if so, in what way?

What kind of music do you listen to, and why?

What’s the last thing you’d be caught doing?

What has been the best experience of your life so far? (I answer this one as the best experience of my character’s life prior to the beginning of the story, but you could also answer it in relation to the story too)

What has been the worst day of your life? (As before, I answer what it would have been prior to the beginning of the story, but you can answer in relation to the story)

Describe the kind of person you want to marry, if you want to be married at all.

If you go to school, what is your favourite subject, and why?

Sum yourself up in 5 words.

You can add as many questions to your interview as you want, you can include questions about friends, goals, dreams, work, etc. It’s up to you, just make sure they serve to add depth to your character and tell you who your character really is.

Do you have any questions you ask of your characters? What do you do to get to know your character before writing your story? Or do you just jump in and discover your character along the way?

More Helpful Writing Sites and Blog Posts

Fresh back from my holiday away I thought it was time for another post on helpful sites and blog posts I’ve come across in the past month.

Twitter Chats for Writers

A comprehensive list of the various twitterchats for writers (from children’s writers to script writers to genre writers) and the days and times they take place. It also outlines what twitterchats are and a few tips for those who are new to twitterchat.

25+ Favourite Twitter Hashtags for Writers

A list of the best hashtags for writers on Twitter (with links).

Three Act Structure

Jenn Johansson posted on her blog this great article about the three act structure of a novel, including a diagram of what the 3 act structure looks like.

Three Simple Stages of Self-Editing

If you are in the process of editing or about to start editing your novel then Jody Hedlund’s blogpost is worth a look. She describes the three main types of edits: Substantive/macro-edits; line-editing; and copy-editing/proofreading.

Workshop: Writing the Novel Synopsis

This in-depth article by Sheila Kelly sets out step by step how to write an effective synopsis for your novel.

Secrets of a Great Pitch

If you ever go to a writer’s conference or happen to meet an agent in an elevator, do you have a pitch prepared? Literary agent Rachelle Gardner outlines the important points you should include when pitching your novel (and also what you should avoid).

Process of Writing: From Draft to Published Novel

In this four minute video author Kate Forsyth describes her writing process, with visual examples, from the initial idea all the way through to receiving her author’s copy of her book. It’s a bit of insight into the entire process.

Hopefully there is a little something here for everyone, no matter where you are on your writing journey.

How having a critique partner can improve your writing

Once you’ve finished your manuscript and gone over it with a fine tooth comb, the time comes to consider, “What will readers perceive as they read my book, and, more importantly, will agents/publishers take one look at my work and throw it in the trash?” This is when having a critique partner can be invaluable to your revision process. I’ve recently finished my first couple of drafts and have hooked up with a critique partner. Even though we’ve only exchanged a couple of chapters my novel is already reaping the benefits. Here are a few ways having a critique partner can improve your writing:

1. A critique partner looks over your manuscript with fresh eyes. When you’ve been immersed in your book for so long it can be hard to distance yourself enough from your novel to see the little things. One thing I didn’t notice after my first round of revisions was just how much I used the words ‘that’ and ‘was’ in my writing. I know these are problematic words when overused, but I guess in the course of my revisions I overlooked them. When my critique partner sent back my first chapter with all the words ‘that’ and ‘was’ highlighted I realised just how much I used them.

2. A critique partner has no preconceived notions. As the author of your novel you know your characters inside out, you know the world you’ve created to the tiniest detail and you know the entire backstory of your storyline. Because you know everything about your characters, world and plotline you may unknowingly forget that your readers don’t know what you know and you unwittingly leave out necessary details. A critique partner reads your manuscript with none of the preconceived ideas you have and can point out where your story becomes confusing.

3. A critique partner can act as a beta reader. Your critique partner will read your story as a reader would read it. When I critique I tend to write notes on my first impressions as I read and ask the questions a reader would be asking. This helps show you how your future readers, or more importantly an agent or publisher, would be thinking as they read your work. If your critique partner is confused, you can be sure an agent/publisher/reader will be confused too. If your critique partner tells you a certain scene makes their eyes glaze over, you can be sure an agent/publisher/reader’s eyes will be glazing over too (and you can be sure they’ll be putting the book down).

4. A critique partner can offer you constructive criticism. Unlike a beta reader (someone who reads your work from the perspective of a future reader, ie: someone in your target readership), a critique partner is a writer too, so they will read you work from the perspective of a writer. This means instead of just telling you a certain scene isn’t working, they can actually articulate why it isn’t working.

5. Being a critique partner helps you see flaws in your own writing. Critiquing someone else’s work can make you become more aware of your own writing and your own flaws. You may notice in your partner’s writing a tendency to over-describe characters physical attributes, only to realise you’ve done exactly the same thing in your own novel. I’ve also found that after looking over someone else’s work with a critical eye, when I go back to my own work I retain that critical eye and pick up on flaws in my own writing I missed before. It helps me stand back from my own work.

If you do find a critique partner keep a few things in mind as you critique and receive critique:

1. Be constructive. For example, if you feel your partner’s characters are flat, try to explain why. Remember the point of critique is to help the other person improve.

2. Don’t rewrite the story for them. While it’s okay to suggest rewording a sentence to make the meaning clearer, don’t write the sentence for them. It’s their work, and as tempting as it is to write it how you think it should be written, you need to realise the story is their baby. Imagine how you would feel if they started rewriting your story! Offer suggestions and act as a guide, but don’t take over.

3. Be respectful. I believe in being totally honest when I critique, but there’s a difference between being honest and being nasty.

4. Include the positives as well as the negatives. Don’t forget to tell your partner what is working well in their story.

5. Be open-minded when receiving critique. If you partner up with someone you must be prepared to take any criticism they give you and not take it personally. Don’t sign up for a critique partner if you just want to hear good things about your novel. When I put up my ad for a critique partner I said straight out that I would be honest when I critique and I expected the same in return. If I wanted to hear only good things about my novel I could have easily given it to my sister and had her tell me how much she liked it (because I know my sister is too nice to hurt my feelings, and I love her for it). But I wanted honest critique from another writer, someone prepared to rip my manuscript to shreds, because that is the only way I can improve as a writer. Sure, you might feel like crying the first time you receive critique back on your novel, but once you take a deep breath and remember your critique partner is only there to help you, you can appreciate their honesty and start using their advice to help you create a better story.

One last piece of advice…

In the end remember that your novel is your baby.

As a mother lots of people have given me advice over the years on how I should raise my kids (if you have kids you’ll know what I mean!), and that’s fine, everyone has their own opinion on what works best for them and their kids, but I only listen to the advice I think will work for my kids and disregard the rest. When I was a new mum I was overwhelmed with advice (sometimes conflicting advice) and I felt obligated to take it all. In the end I realised that it was my child and, as much as people were trying to help, only I knew what was best. Once I realised this I was a lot less stressed.

The same thing can be applied to your novel. In the end it is your story and you don’t have to feel obligated to take all the advice given to you. Do what’s right for your novel. And the same applies for your critique partner too. You can give advice and critique, but don’t feel hurt if your partner doesn’t apply everything you suggest, because it is their baby.

If you are looking for a critique partner, here are a couple of links to sites with critique connections (both are for YA/kidlit writers, so if you write outside of those you may have to do a search):

Critique Connection – Kidlit.com

This is where I found my current critique partner. You can either scroll down the list of people who have already posted an interest in finding a partner and e-mail them, or if none there seem like a good match, then post a little about you and your novel and leave your e-mail. Writers here range from picture book writers to young adult writers.

Crit Seekers – YALitChat

This forum is dedicated mostly to young adult writers, but you may also find som middle grade writers too. Scroll through the comments to seeif anyone might be a good match, or post your own comment describing what your novel is about. You will need to join to be able to post (but it’s well worth joining anyway if you write YA).

Many cities also have critique groups. Check out your local library or do a search on the internet to see if there are any in your area.

How has having a critique partner helped your writing? Comment below and share.

Helpful Writing Sites

It’s time for another blog post on helpful writing sites.

YA Lit Chat

This is a writing community forum for those who write Young Adult, although they also have sections for Middle Grade and picture book writers. Some of the great sections they have include: Query Kick Around, where you can post your query to have others critique it; First Pages Critique, where you can post your first five pages to be critiqued; and Agent Insider, which lists agents who represent YA. YAlitchat also hosts a chat once a week on Twitter at 9pmEDT on Wednesdays (which just so happens to be 11am Thursday for me as I’m in Australia). These chats are a great way to connect with other writers and have guests such as agents and published authors to answer your questions. Just use the #yalitchat hashtag.

The Kill Zone

The Kill Zone consists of seven authors who each take a turn at blogging over the week. This blog is filled with great writing tips on the various aspects of writing a novel. Although the authors involved are all mystery/thriller writers their advice is applicable to writers of any genre.

Promptly

Looking for some inspiration to get your creative juices flowing? Zachery Petit offers writing prompts as well as some other writing tidbits.

And here are a few posts worth mentioning:

Top Ten Things I Know About Rewriting

A fantastic post on rewriting by Alexandra Sokoloff. She gives an in-depth look at revising a novel. It would honestly have to be the best post on rewriting I have come across. If you are serious about revising your novel you should check out this post.

Critique Connection

Are you looking for a critique partner for your WIP? Mary Kole has posted this on her kidlit website for writers of YA/MG/PB to hook up and find the perfect critique partner.

NaPiBoWriWee

In November I talked about NaNoWriMo (National Book Writing Month). NaPiBoWriWee (National Picture Book Writing Week) is a spin-off of NaNoWriMo created by Paula Yoo. The idea is to write 7 picture books in 7 days. (I will be covering this more next week.)

If you have come across any other helpful writing sites or posts feel free to share them with us in the comments (and links would be great!)

Something Fun That Can Also Help Your Writing Revision

Since it is my birthday this weekend I thought I would do a post on something fun.

Wordle is a great little website that allows you to create word clouds with any text. All you have to do is copy and paste the text you want and Wordle automates a word cloud for you. The more frequent words show up as bigger text. You can then play around choosing a colour scheme and font. Just for fun copy paste your current writing into Wordle and see what you get. Here is what the first draft of my current wip looks like as a Wordle:

Katie, my main character, shows up as the most frequent word.

Wordle automatically takes out common English words like ‘the’ and ‘and’, although if you go to ‘language’ you can add those words back in (I tried it and ended up with ‘the’ and ‘and’ taking up nearly the whole Wordle). You can also remove individual words from the Wordle yourself if you want by right-clicking on them. I took out all the character names from mine to see what it would look like without them. Here is what it looked like:

‘Asked’ and ‘one’ now stand out the most.

While it is fun to make Wordles for your wip (or any other text for that matter), they are also a neat little way to see if there are any words you are overusing in your writing. For example, when I look at the Wordle of my first draft (the one without the character names) I can see the word ‘just’ stands out far more than it should, so now as I edit I am looking for instances where I’ve used ‘just’ so I can cut down on its use in my novel. Wordle also has an option where you can look at exactly how many times each word in your text is used. My highest frequency word was ‘the’, which I used over 6000 times.

Just a little note: The word ‘that’ is often overused and unnecessarily included in writing so watch out for it. It happens to be one of the words counted as a commonly used English word, so if you want to check for overuse using Wordle you will either need to include commonly used English words or check the list showing how many times each word was used.

I hope you all have a bit of fun with Wordle. I would love for everyone to leave a comment on which word stands out the most in your Wordle 🙂

Why Twitter is a Great Resource for Writers

First an introduction to how I started using Twitter:

When I first started this blog I mentioned that I had been reading about the importance of creating an author platform. One of the tips I came across was to start a Twitter account. I had never ventured into the world of Twitter before, but of course I knew what it was. I started out somewhat hesitantly. I started following a couple of friends who also had accounts and searched for some of my favourite celebrities to follow. Then came the question of what to tweet about? At first my tweets were random and personal, such as, “I’m reorganising my bookcase, I didn’t realise it was such a big job until I started.” However, the purpose of creating the account was to build my author platform so tweeting about rearranging my bookcase wasn’t really helping me to do this.

How I started making Twitter work for me:

Recently I discovered how I can really make Twitter work for me as a writer and I want to share what I have been learning so that you can make Twitter work for you too.

1. Tweet about writing. I started tweeting about my writing more than my personal life, after all that was why I created the account in the first place. How was I supposed to attract followers from the writing field if I was tweeting about random things that have nothing to do with writing? Once my tweets became more writing focused I noticed I started getting more followers from the writing field.

2. Use the #wip hashtag. I discovered a great little hashtag #wip, which writers can use to post either their progress on their wips (work in progress) or post little snippets of their novel. I’ve started posting tweets using #wip with little snippets of the novel I am working on and I am hoping it generates some interest for my novel. It also forces me to look at my novel more critically, because when I am looking for the ‘perfect’ line to post on Twitter I am forced to determine how effective that line really is. I ask myself “Is that line grammatically sound?”, “Does it sound good as a stand-alone sentence?” and “Would it sound intriguing to those reading it on Twitter?” if I answer ‘no’ to any of those questions, not only do I not post that line on Twitter, but I also ask myself, “If I’m reluctant to post it publicly, then why would I want to have it published as it is?” and “How could it be written better to overcome its flaws?”. In the end it is helping me write a better novel.

3. Literary agents on Twitter. There are a lot of literary agents on Twitter and by seeking them out you will find a multitude of invaluable information relating to querying, agents, writing tips and getting published. I am now following several literary agents whose tweets I find both helpful and insightful to me as a writer. Some agents tweet tips, some tweet about their thoughts as they trudge through the slushpile (usually quite insightful as a warning on what not to do when querying agents) and some offer links to other valuable writing resources. If you go to their profile pages, there is usually always a link to their blogs, which are invaluable sources of information as well. (I will link to some agents’ twitter pages at the end of this blog post.)

4. Some more useful hashtags. The following are just a few of the useful hashtags I’ve come across on Twitter, just type them into the search and you will find some really helpful info (especially from agents): #query #queries #queryhelp #askagent #agentpeeves #writing #writetip #pubtip

5. Link to your blog. This was one thing I actually did right from the start, everytime I update this blog I link to it on Twitter. I also have a link to my blog on my Twitter profile.

Using Twitter to my advantage has opened up a whole new world to me as a writer and I would recommend it to any aspiring authors out there. Twitter is helping me by:

1. Strengthening my author platform.

2. Promoting my novel and me as an author.

3. Connecting me to other people in the writing world (agents, publishers and fellow writers).

4. Connecting me to invaluable advice and insight into the writing world.

5. Helping me to look at my writing more critically.

To finish up I want to link to a few Twitter pages of a few people I am following because I find their tweets to be particularly helpful:

@RachelleGardner @MandyHubbard @thatwemightfly @WeronikaJanczuk @Kid_Lit

Speaking of Rachelle Gardner, her blog is well worth checking out: http://cba-ramblings.blogspot.com/ She is a literary agent and offers some great blog posts regarding writing. (Isn’t Twitter great? Without it I would never have found Rachelle’s blog.)

And if you would like to follow me on Twitter here is a link to my Twitter page: @gracefuldoe

EDIT:

I just found another article about Twitter being a great tool for writers, it has a couple of similar points to the ones I have made, but it also offers a few new points too: Six Ways Twitter Can Make You A Better Writer

Some useful writing websites

Over the past few weeks I’ve come a cross a few really helpful writing websites/blogs that contain some fantastic advice on writing, querying and getting published so I wanted to share a couple of my favourites.

The first one was linked to me by a friend and fellow writer and I spent nearly two whole days reading through every post on the blog because I found all the information so valuable to me as writer (plus I may have just been procrastinating a little on tackling all the problems in chapter six of my novel, which I am happy to say have mostly all been ironed out now). This blog is written by an agent named Mary Kole (who is also a published author)and offers some great tips on various aspects of writing, as well as some great insight into agents’ thought processes. It also occasionally runs contests. I have it bookmarked and I highly recommend it to any aspiring author. It can be found here:

http://kidlit.com/

I can’t remember how I found this second site, but I believed it was linked to from another site I was perusing. Like the first blog I mentioned, I found this blog to be insightful and full of great writing advice. This blog is written by a published author named Barry Lyga and he covers a lot of different areas of writing. His advice isn’t only very helpful for those wishing to develop their craft, but he also writes his blog in a very down-to-earth manner. This is another site I have bookmarked. It can be found here:

http://barrylyga.com/new/blog-writing-advice.html

Here are a few other sites I have bookmarked in the past because It hought they were helpful to my writing journey:

http://maxbarry.com/writing/help.html (His tagline is ‘help for writers’. They specifically offer advice on querying agents and approaching publishers)

http://www.fictioncentral.net/hpforum/index.php?act=idx (Although this is a fanfiction forum devoted to Harry Potter, don’t let that dissuade you from checking out their writer’s resources section which is a treasure trove of great writing advice and tips, especially regarding the technicalities of writing. You will need to become a member to view the writer’s resources section, but it’s free to join up)

I hope you find these sites as useful and insightful as I have found them to be.