Resources for Writers

Contributed by Tish Davidson, Carol Hall and Nancy Curteman. Updated 1/4/20 by Scott Davidson

General Writing Resources


AP Stylebook
The bible for newspaper and magazine writing.


The Chicago Manual of Style, 16th ed.
The style bible for literary writing.


A Complete Guide to Writing for Publication edited by Susan Titus Osborn (ACW)


Digital Ink by Bonnie Hearn Hill and Christopher Poe. A concise guide to writing fiction in the digital age.


Scene & Structure by Jack M. Bickham. Emphasis on scene-by-scene flow, logic, and readability.


Nonfiction Book Proposals Anybody Can Write by Elizabeth Lyon. Step-by-step analysis of the elements of a nonfiction proposal.


Plot by Ansen Dibell. How to avoid middle sag, rabbit holes, and weak endings.


Writing Fiction by Garry Disher. A clear introduction to the craft of writing with separate chapters on writing the short story and writing a novel.


Writer for Hire: 101 Secrets to Freelance Success by Kelly James-Enger (Writer’s Digest)


Writer’s Market (Writer’s Digest) — for the general market


Conferences and Events

Mystery writer, writing teacher and writer for Writer’s Digest Jane Cleland offers free one hour seminars once a month.  Find out more about the October 17 (10 am) seminar on Foreshadowing here.  The November 14 seminar is “Four Things I Wish I’d Known at the Start of My Writing Career.” Find out more information here

The SF Peninsula Branch is offering an online webinar about book coaching: what it is, how it can benefit a writer, and how you do some of it for yourself.
More information here.
The 2023 California Writers Conference is February 16-19, 2023 at the Hyatt Regency Hotel on the Waterfront.
The Gotham Writers Workshop in New York City has put together a series of free talks about
writing. Each talk features a writer in a particular genre and an agent who deals with that genre.
The first season covered everything from historical fiction to graphic novels to writing query
letters. Season 1 is archived here
The second season begins October 7 with Inside Short Stories followed October 14 with Inside
Humor. Check out these free talks on your genre

Litquake San Francisco

October 8–17, 2020 (additional events throughout the year. Check their website)







Online Resources

Master Critique Groups

C. S. Larkin offers a Master Critique Group, including an on-line class. There is a fee.

More information

Writers’ Online Toolkit

A list of software for writers, some free, some not.


Creative Genius 101  
Lots of  posts on breaking through writing barriers and improving writing.


Purdue University Online Writing Lab  
Links to  information on  mechanics, correct grammar, and usage.


Resource Guide to Writing Basics

A very basic guide, from the writing as a hobby perspective


Winning Writers Resources  
Contains comprehensive links to resources ranging from books for writers to legal advice to writing for social change. A good place to start if looking for advice and resources.


World Cat 
Allows you to search through catalogs of many libraries worldwide and see which ones contain your books or your favorite authors’ books, DVDs, or music. (Alameda County Library System is not a part of this service.)


Writers Weekly
A free weekly newsletter with writing advice, q&a column, success stories. Slanted toward self-publishing.


Website Development

How to Make a Website


General Education

Accounting and Bookkeeping for Freelancers


Contest Announcements, Publications Seeking Submissions,
Freelance Jobs

Blurb Writing Contest

Write and submit a back cover blurb of 100 words or fewer that sets the stage for a novel, establishes the characters, and raises the stakes in a way that makes readers want to find out more.

Find out more at

There is a $500 prize for best blurb with no entry fee. Submissions must be in by September 15.


Fee-based site (they give a free trial) that has filterable lists of markets for fiction and nonfiction currently accepting submissions, submission tracker, and updated weekly newsletter (some access fee-based).


Freelance Writing Gigs  
New Freelance writing jobs posted several times each week. Also contains a resource for writers section.


Winning Writers Newsletter     
Free contests—mostly poetry and some prose.


Industry News


Locus The Magazine and Website of the Science Fiction & Fantasy Field (some access fee based)



Publishers Weekly   
News about the publishing industry


Resources for Screenwriters




The Screenwriter’s Bible, by David Trottier.
A great reference for formatting questions and beginning screenwriters.

Save the Cat, by Blake Snyder.
Story arc and screenplay structure used by many Hollywood screenwriters.

The Indie Producers Handbook: Creative Producing From A to Z, by Myrl A. Schreibman.
Good to figure out how a producer looks at a screenplay and how to make your story less expensive and therefore more appealing.

Anatomy of a Premise Line, by Jeff Lyons.
How to master premise and story development for writing success. Applicable to many forms of storytelling.


Online Resources

 Guide to Screenwriting Contests

Simply Scripts:
Download scripts to read and study.


A subscription service not to be confused with the free IMDb database. The Pro version gives you access to actors, producers, agents, managers, and others’ contact information so you can query them and also gives you your own webpage so others can find out more about you.


Writers Guild of America West Registry:
Protect your intellectual property by registering your screenplays, treatments, outlines, etc. with the Guild to show you are the creator of your story.


Guide to Finding/Reading Scripts Online

Buried in the website of a theater seating catalog, is a guide for reading scripts, along with the scripts for some well known movies.  Includes a short tutorial on scripts, and links to finding movie and theater scripts online. The site includes several scripts also.


Screenplay Contests


A database of script and film contests all around the world where you can upload and submit your screenplay to various contests.


Film Freeway:
The Canadian version of WithoutaBox. Sometimes the same contests are listed here as in WithoutaBox, but with different entry fees.


Nicholl Fellowship:
The most prestigious screenplay contest. Many winners go on to be produced. But competition is fierce.


Cinequest Film Festival:
A San Francisco Bay Area Film Festival with a screenplay contest.



Resources for Christian Writers



Christian Writer’s Market Guide by Jerry B. Jenkins


An Introduction to Christian Writing by Ethel Herr (ACW)




Christian Creative Writers




Writers Conferences


The 2020 West Coast Christian Writers LIT Masterclass is February 28-29, 2020 at CrossWinds Church in Livermore, CA.


April 3–7, 2020 Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference


General News and Information


Christian Writing Today


Family Fiction


Genre Specific Books


Mystery, Crime, Thriller

Police Procedure & Investigation by Lee Lofland.
Written specifically for writers by a former police detective, this book covers everything from police training to the death penalty.


Science fiction

How to Write Science Fiction and Fantasy by Orson Scott Card. A classic.


Notes to a Science Fiction Writer by Ben Bova. Tips on what sells.


Writing Science Fiction and Fantasy edited by Gardner Dozois et al. Essays by the editors of various science fiction magazines.


Genre Organizations


Most of these organizations have some information available to the public but require membership dues to have complete access to the resources on the site.


Children’s Books: Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators

San Francisco North and East Bay  Chapter   
San Francisco and South Bay  Chapter


Christian Writers:
American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW)

Redbud Writer’s Guild

Inspire Christian Writers (Bay Area)

Bay Area Writers Group (510) 565-0619

Creative Nonfiction: Creative Nonfiction Foundation


National Association of Memoir Writers


Sisters in Crime   
Northern California  Chapter


Nonfiction:  American Association of Journalists and Authors               
Nonfiction Authors Association


Poetry:  Poetry Foundation

Poetry Society of America


Romance:  Romance Writers of America   
San Francisco Area Chapter   
Silicon Valley Chapter


Science Fiction & Fantasy:
Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America


Science Fiction Poetry: Science Fiction Poetry Association



Useful Blog Posts on Writing From Nancy Curteman


Self-publishing vs. Traditional Publishing


Querying a Fiction Book


E-book vs. print book


What can I expect if I hire a developmental editor


What are effective ways to publicize your book