Summer is a great time to attend one of the many writing conferences. You get great tips, rub shoulders with agents and other writers, and leave feeling empowered. The only problem is the cost often approaches $500 and that doesn’t include travel expenses. Yikes.

For those on a budget the Internet is a great first resource. Just type in a few key words in the search box (Recent ones for me: Close Third Person; MG humor; and Making great chapter endings). I usually take a quick glance at the results and bookmark those I want to spend more time with.

If you’re not into endless searches, Rosi over at THE WRITE STUFF does some of this work for you. Every Monday as a part of her MMGM review, she posts links for her writer friends. I’ve always found them helpful and spot on.

Here are  three other favorite cheap sources (under $20)  for improving my craft:

  1. READ I love to read a great line, chapter, or book that leaves me in awe of the writing. I take note of what worked and why. MG hardback books frequently retail for $16.99. Kindle versions are cheaper and the library is free. Keep an eye out for sales at Barnes and Noble. Sign up for their email specials and you can save significantly. I get a ton of books sent my way by authors and publishers, but every month or two I purchase one on my own. The recent online special was any item at $20% off with free shipping. Since they had already reduced the MG book I had my eye on from its original cost, my final bill came to $8.85.
  2. Purchase a good book on writing. My Favorite? kidlitWRITING IRRESISTIBLE KIDLIT by Mary Kole. My copy has many bookmarks, highlights, and notes proving how much I’ve used this guide (used copies usually available from $3-4).
  3. Lastly, I keep an eye out for the focus on each of the six yearly issues of Writer’s Digest. Currently they have one that hit the bulls eye for me. Most of the issue is directed at Creating a Standout Chapter One. WD0816Great advice from authors and industry professionals. I downloaded a copy ‘write’ away ($7.54 with tax) and have read it twice. Super stuff.


I hope you can use some of these cheap resources. Make sure to return next week for a very special summer kickoff with National Geographic. Here is what’s in store for a lucky winner:


About Greg Pattridge

Climbing another mountain...writing middle grade novels.
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  1. Thanks for the shout out, Greg. Very nice. Good ideas here. I don’t spend nearly enough time on learning about the craft. I am taking a Highlights workshop in August, though. That should give me a kick start. Thanks for the post.

    • It’s great you are going to a Highlights workshop. Their classes always look worthwhile. I’m doing a one day Writer’s Digest workshop next month but that one is close to home. Have a great summer.

  2. Writer’s Digest and the KidLit Boo you mentioned are great resources for me. I get/have them both. WD did an issue just on all aspects of children’s books last year. One of the best issues for me.

    I would love to go to a conference, but the cost is so much just to get and stay there. There are some great, and inexpensive, courses online by wonderful authors. Many are in the less than $100 range or free. Check out Rhyming Picture Books with Angie Karcher each April and Picture Book Month with Tara Lazar each November. There are also some free Open University courses that are free. I took one from MIT and one from Oxford a couple of years ago.

  3. diegosdragon says:

    A great collection of tips – thanks Greg! I’ll pick up the WD magazine tomorrow and a copy of Trinity by Leon Uris for a friend. She’s a treasure of a middle school librarian. I’ve known her for years and she’s retiring. Conor Larkin’s story prompted me to begin writing, and I’d like to share that with her.

  4. I hate when the good ones retire. Librarians are the best!

  5. Thanks for the writing book suggestions. I will look into getting my hands on copies.

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