Shawn L. Bird

Original poetry, commentary, and fiction. All copyrights reserved.

For writers July 7, 2010

The blogs I’ve written about writing are HERE.

Sample expense/income/inventory form for writers in a convenient Word document table.  No confusing Excel spreadsheet here!  This is a ‘legal’ size document (8.5X14″) in landscape form.  Add a line when you need it. Adjust the inventory as you update the sales data on the same line.

Here is the companion ebook for my Finding Inspiration and Voice and my Prompt Poetry workshops: 123 prompts for poets and novelists.


PLANNING TOOLS for PANTSERS (WWC 2021 workshop resources):
I have adapted my own planner based on a variety of strategies and techniques.  It’s 2 parts.  I brainstorm the basic plot elements first, then add with the specifics of the character arcs.  Using that information and structure, I add details into specific chapters noting a timeline and specific locations. This is for a 15 chapter book (my Laketon novellas), adapt for whatever you require.  You can download it for personal use here:  ShawnBird-bookplanner   Please ask for specific permission if you want to use it in classes or workshops. Use the CONTACT ME form.   There is an excellent guide to explaining character arcs by KM Weiland on  There is room for these elements in my planner.

Here are some additional planning resources that might be of interest to you:



Here are a few conferences where I routinely present or just attend.  It’d be great to see you there!

Surrey International Writers’ Conference  Third weekend of October. Surrey, BC

Word on the Lake Writers’ Festival  Second weekend in May.  Salmon Arm, BC

When Words Collide, Second weekend in August.  Calgary, AB

I love presenting to groups of all sizes and formats.  🙂



Scribbler offer a curated subscription box full of inspiration and encouragement. From US.

In Canada, the Facebook group Canada Writes, loosely affiliated with the CBC book prizes, offers encouragement and basic support.



C. S. Lakin’s Live, Write, ThriveLive, Write, Thrive is full of excellent advice on writing and editing

Writers’ Digest

Novel Publicity

Grammar- University of Ottawa’s HyperGrammar  (also useful for teachers!)

Writers’ Union of Canada Their package on interpreting contracts is a fantastic resource, available to non-members as well, now instantly by downloadable pdf.

National Novel Writing Month offers some inspiration and structure if you’ve been procrastinating with a goal to complete 50,000 words in November.  Camp NaNO in April and July allows you to set your own goals.

Writers’’s query letter clinic is very useful and clear.

Joseph Konrath’s excellent A Newbie’s Guide to Publishing.

Jane Friedman’s very thorough blog Helping Authors

Joanna Penn’s The Creative Penn blog is full of helpful stuff.

Editor’s Association of Canada offers all sorts of information about hiring an editor including the different tasks editors perform, an editor contract sample, and a fee schedule.

Writer Beware is a fantastic site managed by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America.  They monitor agencies and publishers, recording complaints and investigating issues.  Check their site before you sign so you know whether the company you’re looking at is legit.

A great place to hang out with other writers and learn, learn, learn is the The Lit ForumDiana Gabaldon got her start there when it was the “Compuserve Books_and_Writers_Community.”

Diana Gabaldon has a few articles on her website entitled “The Cannibal’s Art.”  The first is here, but be sure to look on the right side bar on her site for the other posts in the series.

Stephen King video:

Neil Gaiman is concerned about creative people who don’t make wills, read his post and download a sample to take to your lawyer.  I did!


The following are books in my personal library that I can recommend.


Angela Ackerman & Becca Puglisi- The Emotion Thesaurus, 2nd ed, The Emotional Wound Thesaurus, The Negative Trait Thesaurus, The Positive Trait Thesaurus, The Urban Setting Thesaurus, and/orThe Rural Setting Thesaurus.These are practical and helpful resources for creating depth in your writing and avoiding cliches.

Gwen Hayes- Romancing the Beat: Story Structure for Romance Novels

Donald Maass- Writing The 21st Century Novel or

Donald Maass- Writing the Breakthrough Novel

Blake Snyder- Save the Cat  (and/or Jessica Brody- Save the Cat Writes a NovelThese changed my writing life.  Fantastic, practical resource for identifying the beats your screenplay or novel need.

Strunk & White- The Elements of Style



Ray Bradbury-  Zen in the Art of Writing

Julia Cameron- The Artist’s WayI actually got The Artist’s Way Starter Pack which includes a workbook. It’s more like a journal. Quite nice if you want to jump right in!

Natalie Goldberg- Writing Down the Bones I use this book in my Writing 12 classes as a text. It encourages new or timid writers to dare to write from the depths.

Anne Lamott- Bird by Bird  Encouragement for those whose inner voices are extremely critical.

Stephen King- On Writing.  I think I dog-eared half the book.  I’ve never met a writer who didn’t find it profoundly encouraging.



Ted Kooser- The Poetry Home Repair Manual.  Incredibly helpful articles that offer practical tools to improve your poetry.

Robin Behn & Chase Twichell- The Practice of Poetry: Writing Exercises from Poets Who Teach.  This is a wonderful book full of poetry exercises, suitable for all levels of writers. I am using or adapting several for my class room and workshops.

Hedi Kyle & Ulla Warchol- Art of the Fold.  This is a GORGEOUS book! It will teach you how to make amazing folded art books, that you can use with beautiful papers to turn into beautiful, one of a kind, poetry art books.  Here’s a video of me showing some of the little practice books I made, while learning the techniques.


I am an Amazon Affiliate, so I earn a bit when you buy any of my recommended resources through the links above.



Pop over to read this interview with Sally Harding of the Cooke Agency about what she looks for and how her agency works.


Attending writing conferences is a great way to make contacts in the writing world and to stay current in the business of writing, as well as getting tips on how to write, and how to sell your writing.  I am particularly fond of the Surrey International Writers’ Conference which is usually the 3rd Friday of October.    The conference allows you to,

  • Network around the meal tables with other writers, editors, publishers and agents.
  • Attend workshops.
  • Pitch your novel or article to publishers, editors, and agents.
  • Have a writer ‘blue pencil’ a sample of your work, giving you a professional critique of his/her first impressions.

And yes, it works.  I’ve had very positive results from developing connections and contacts forged at conferences and workshops.  For example, as a result of pitches at conferences, I’ve signed contracts with publishers and with an agency.  I have also met enthusiastic members of the Western Canadian writing community, and been invited to present at other events as a result.


Presenting “How to Get the Book You’ve Always Wanted to Writer Out of your Head and Onto the Page” in Kelowna.

Another good writers’ conference is run by the Shuswap Association of Writers.  It is held in the spring.  Read the details here.

I also attend When Words Collide Writers’ Conference in Calgary each August.  A very welcoming community, particularly for beginners, though writers of all experiences will find something of value.  Least expensive conference I’ve ever heard of- under $50 for 3 days if you buy early.  Something like 400 workshops and events for $50? Yes, please! They have a Youtube channel where you may watch some workshops here.



In my  literary journey, I have had the privilege to discover many fine writers who are worthy of sharing.  Several of the following are not just talented authors, but they’re real people I have met, studied with, or corresponded with.  Some of them are even my own talented former students.  I am happy to recommend each of them to your attention.

Gail Anderson-Dargatz: literary fiction

Diana Gabaldon: epic historical romance and adventure

Nancy Hedberg: Christian fiction

C. C. Humphreys: historical fiction

Crawford Kilian: blogger, teacher, non-fiction

Kay McCracken: reflective

Carol Mason: women’s fiction

Stephenie Meyer: young adult, sci-fi

Ishbel Moore: young adult

J. K. Rowling: children & young adult fantasy

Andrea Spalding: children’s

Crystal Stranaghan: children’s

Sylvia Taylor: creative non-fiction

Ian Weir:  literary fiction



Shawn & Diana Gabaldon 2016 Surrey (Outlander Gaelic coach Àdhamh Ó Broin behind)


Shawn Bird & Jonas Saul 2018 Kelowna


C. C. humphreys, Shawn Bird, Ian Weir 2018


Anne DeGrace


Jasper Fforde & Shawn Bird 2016

Patricia Briggs

Shawn Bird & Patricia Briggs


Gail Anderson-Dargatz & Shawn Bird


Tyner Gillies, Shawn Bird, Robert Dugoni


Jack Whyte & Shawn at 20s dinner SiWC 2012


Kathryn Para


69 Responses to “For writers”

  1. Chamz Says:

    Thank you for sharing these links, Dear! 🙂

  2. Shvaugn Says:

    Thought you might want to know I’m changed my website and the link you have up there is no longer being updated. Apple cancelled the program I was using on me so I had to switch to blogspot.

    • Shawn Bird Says:

      What’s the new address? You may want to know that at the blogging workshops (I went to 3 different ones), the only approved platform by all was WordPress. Just in case you need that information!

  3. jon jacobs Says:

    Thanks for visiting my Poetry site on WordPress. “Gaze” is not my best but my more recent. I am finishing a short novel “Obsession with Poison”, a true and not-so-true story about a surgeon’s adventures. It is also on the site. I am also at Thanks again!

  4. babedarla Says:

    I’m with Jon: thanks for visiting my blog, and liking “Bittersweet”. Now I’m off to look at more of your’ work.

  5. thanks for that rich… if you’d like to …!

  6. emmalmoore Says:

    Thanks for thinking enough of us writers to give us good writing information. Dedicated writers like you are helping me become a better writer. Thanks for your visiting Life’s Little Surprises. Blessings.

  7. elizfrat Says:

    Thanks for the visit to my site and the like. It’s always great to connect with other writers and I appreciate you stopping by. I look forward to following your own progress too. 🙂

  8. beeseeker Says:

    What a helpful list, will spend some time digging around this one, thank you.

  9. nitadances Says:

    Hi! I’m moving to Salmon Arm at the end of the year and I’d like to get involved in a writing group, or take creative writing classes. I am new at this, but it has taken a bit of a hold on me after taking a creative writing class at our college last term. Are there places for new writers/ students to go in Salmon Arm?

    • Shawn Bird Says:

      There is a group called Shuswap Writers that meet regularly. They seem predominantly retired folks. There is also the Shuswap Association of Writers which hosts the Word on the Lake Writers conference each May (2014 we have Diana Gabaldon coming, among others!) Check out and for details. I look foward to meeting you Nita! (You’ll know me when you see me, by the blue, pink, white hair and my green VW bug with the butterflies and flowers) 🙂

  10. do these conferences cost money? stupid question, but I don’t know

    • Shawn Bird Says:

      Yes, they cost, but amounts differ. I’m attending one in Calgary in August (When Words Collide) that is $55 for the weekend. That’s the least expensive one I’ve heard of, and I’m interested to learn how they do it! They had 400 attendees last year.

      I’ve twice attended Surrey International Writers Conference that is closer to $500, and our local conference, Word on the Lake is $250 or so. It barely makes even, so it’s good value for what you get. Those prices are not including accommodations, of course. Meals included in some. (not the $55 one!) Surrey is expensive because it’s HUGE and many agents and publishers attend. Your conference fee includes an appointment to pitch your work to one of them (that’s how I met the publisher who signed my novel Grace Awakening); it also includes a blue pencil (editing consultation) with a writer. They don’t pay their presenters, but it’s good value for the agents/publishers to attend and meet authors. I’ve had consultations over the years with Diana Gabaldon, Meg Tilly, Chris McMahon, and Eileen Cook. Workshops associated with these conferences are always informative. Most valuable perhaps, I have also had the pleasure of meeting many other authors, and developing connections with them. Being part of the writing community is amazing. They are my ‘tribe’, the conversations are wonderful, and you meet new friends.

  11. matrixilluminos Says:

    thank you for all the likes on my blog, means a lot coming from you:)

  12. I am truly honoured that you are following me. I really enjoy your blog/writing. Whispering Insights

  13. Susan Rowland Says:

    Hi Shawn! Thanks for following and for just being you. Vesta rocks! Your blog is awesome-I’m following back-here’s to the writing journey.

  14. Mark Says:

    Great resources, thank you for sharing. I did the NaNoWriMo last November it was a blast and pushed me to write over 57k words. But still working on editing and rewriting 🙂

  15. klove Says:

    Thanks for stopping by my blog.

    I enjoyed perusing your site.

    Big Love.
    KLove. Xx

  16. halftangible Says:

    I’ll look into your site more in-depth when I have the time, but I like what I’ve seen so far. =) I’m just getting started writing, and look forward to looking through more of your stuff here.

  17. marjorjan425 Says:

    Thank you. I checked out the Newbies Guide and found it very helpful. Your advice was great.
    As a newbie to publishing, I will take all the advice I can get.

  18. Thanks for dropping by Pop-Up-Poetry and my author blog. I’m happy to meet another BC author and poet :). I’m enjoying looking around here, reading your poems, and you’ve piqued my interest in the Surrey Writers Conference. All the best to you.

    • Oh Lesley-Anne- if you’re in the Lower Mainland, you should DEFINITELY go to SIWC! It’s in 2 weeks. There’s still opportunity to register! I waffled for a couple of years, but finally decided just to go for a Saturday. After successfully pitching a novel, the next year I was back for the whole conference. GO!!

      Then come to us here in the Shuswap for Victoria Day. This is a lovely, intimate conference that’s equally inspiring, though much smaller.

      • I live in Kelowna… closer to you than SIWC. It’s that drive over the Coqu. that scares me most 🙂 I’m heading down to Centrum Autumn Intensive in Port Townsend first week in November, so I’ll have to put SIWC on my list for next year. Great to ‘meet’ you! I’m going to keep our connection in mind as I’ve been kicking around the idea of hosting a poetry retreat here in the Okanagan. Thoughts?

      • Well then, you should DEFINITELY come to us for Word on the Lake next Victoria Day! Just 75 minute commute! We have Gary Geddes coming as this year’s poet. Novelists Diana Gabaldon, Gail Anderson-Dargatz, C. C. Humphreys are also confirmed, as is publisher Howard White.

        I’d be delighted to participate in a poetry retreat if I can fit it into my schedule.

  19. Nina Kaytel Says:

    Thanks for the links! They will come in handy!

  20. markjnorris Says:

    Wonderful WordPress Shawn. Thanks for the links and sharing your gift. 🙂

  21. Yay I love coming across good resource pages!

  22. You’ve got some great resources floating around here. Thanks so much for the follow!

  23. mihrank Says:

    Keep up the enthusiastic blogging.

  24. pndrgn99 Says:

    Thank you for dropping by to read my new post. It’s always a pleasure to come by and browse around your site for a while to see what’s new.


  25. charlypriest Says:

    This was great information to know

  26. Katelyn Says:

    Thank you for sharing this great information and for following my blog! I’ve always been passionate about writing but hope to spend more time now that I’ll be traveling on my own. I look forward to reading more of your posts!

  27. I’m going to check out those books you’d mentioned were inspiring for writers.
    Thanks for the info,


    • My pleasure. I hope you find them useful. I might add Joseph Campbell’s Hero of the 1000 Faces or one of the more recent books analyzing the Hero’s Journey metaphor. Author escapes me, but seek and ye shall find! 😉

  28. 79nexus Says:

    I have read Steven King’s On Writing. Interesting and useful indeed. Will have a look at the links.

  29. Dear Shawn L. Bird! thanks for visiting my Blog: Mankind is viceroy of the CREATOR on earth. I hope you would have seen many those items here, which were not known by you earlier. I expect that you will find reality of Mankind and Islam in it, which is necessary to be known by every living Human Being.

    Thank U once again.

  30. John Wallace Says:

    Thanks for the follow, my blog is in its very early days so this was much appreciated, there are lots more poems and short stories to come, I’ll be back to check out more of your considerable work soon

  31. Thanks for the follow, Shawn! I’m following you now as well and will be checking out your work as well. I’ll bet your students think you’re a cool teacher. 🙂

  32. Ellie P. Says:

    Good heavens! To work my way through all those links would take me another lifetime! But I’ll try my best! 😀
    Oh, and thanks for the ‘like’ for my “Danny the Dinosaur” post on my blog just before! ❤

  33. Ellie P. Says:

    P.S. – Shawn, maybe you could add a link under the Grammar links collection, to my Friday Follies series, which highlight various boo-boos found by the Grammar Cop, aka me! The link is:

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