Books to Instruct and/or Inspire

The Writing Life, by Annie Dillard

Annie Dillard comes at you head-on. She’ll inspire you, delight you, take your breath away.  She’ll draw a line in the sand and dare you to step across:  “Are you a woman, or a mouse?”

One moment, Annie takes us soaring, lifting us to that place where writing is both noble calling and high art.  The next, she drops us to earth with a thud, reminding us writers aren’t as useful to most people as the guy who sells shoes.

Caveat:  This book is reminiscent of an impressionist painting.  So don’t expect pragmatic how-tos.  Expect wings.


Zen in the Art of Writing, by Ray Bradbury

Reading Bradbury’s book is like sticking your finger in a light socket … but in a good way.

He laughs at his (and our) foibles, then grabs us by the hand and drags us to green pastures at a dead run.  Gives us the wide world and our own lives as raw material, and shows us how to make it work.  His childlike delight in scaring the wits out of himself and anyone who dares to read his stories and/or books is both endearing and infectious.

His delight in the process can leave you breathless.  This book is Red Bull for run-down days.


Bird by Bird, by Anne Lamott

Anne teaches writing and takes a teacher’s approach … provided the teacher in question can enchant you from the get-go.

So your first draft was garbage?  According to Anne, it’s supposed to be.   Don’t even know where to start looking for inspiration?  She can help you out with that.   Plagued by perfectionism?  Don’t be.

Bird by Bird is one of Kathy’s top 3 refreshers!


On Writing, by Stephen King

Stephen’s passion and never-say-die grit are contagious.  He offers some terrific dos and dont’s for beginners, even if he seems to wax a little “my way or the highway” at times.

You have to hand it to the man, he didn’t let anything or anyone stop him from doing what he does so well.  Good example, yes?

Author Groups

The Alliance of Independent Authors (ALLi)— paid membership, but the benefits are many.  They also have a free e-mail newsletter anyone can subscribe to.

The World Literary Cafemembership is free, and the group offers tons of free services to authors (Forums, a Facebook Like Program, Tweet Groups, Twitter Connect Program, IndieKindle Weekly Tweets, and more).  Paid services are also available.  The educational arm, Fostering Success, offers excellent courses in marketing, establishing an author platform, and more.

The Independent Author Network—an extremely reasonable one-time setup fee nets you a sleek, clean author page, which includes your bio, books, and contact information.  Again, there are opportunities for paid promotion.

The Independent Author Indexagain, an extremely reasonable one-time setup fee nets you a good-looking author page and book listings.  Paid services and promos also available.

 Other Useful Websites

BublishEasy, eye-catching way to promote your books.  Upload the manuscripts and create Book Bubbles (short excerpts) you can tweet or Facebook right from the site.  Best of all, it’s free!

BitlyCreate shortened, trackable links.  Do it once, and this site will save them for you!  Very convenient!

Ebook Booster—Sponsoring a KDP Select Promotion but not looking forward to posting it hither and yon?  Let Ebook Booster do it for you.  Rates are reasonable, convenience can’t be beat!

MailChimpCreate free e-mail lists and newsletters.  Post the signup right on your website!

Pro Writing Aidfree on-line writing editor