Nine Writing books I love and Four that inspired me to become a writer.

1. Goal, Motivation and Conflict: The Building Blocks of Good Fiction – by Debra Dixon. After I read this book, it changed the way I thought about my plotting. I got to hear her speak about this in September and got her to sign my copy. I still use it all the time and if I’m out of the house with my AlphaSmart, writing, I have this book with me.

2. No Plot? No Problem!: A Low-Stress, High-Velocity Guide to Writing a Novel in 30 Days by Chris Baty. The “official” book of NaNoWriMo, but I think it has a lot of offer writers even when they’re not driving themselves crazy trying to write a whole book in a month. I think the best thing I got out of this book is that it’s just fiction, not rocket science. Don’t stress so much and have fun!

3. The Complete Writer’s Guide to Heroes and Heroines by Tami D. Cowden, Caro LaFever and Sue Viders. I saw Tami at a NJRW conference and I was hooked after hearing her talk about the 16 Master Archetypes for heroes and heroines. I still analyze characters in movies and TV based on my limited understanding of the archetypes. This is a book I’m still trying to study. I wish they’d come out with their villain list. As I remember, that was just as interesting.

4. The Writer’s Journey, Second Edition: Mythic Structure for Writers by Christopher Vogler. Another book that changed the way I plot books. It’s kind of the standard that most writers are familiar with.

5. Beyond Jennifer & Jason, Madison & Montana: What to Name Your Baby Now (Revised and Updated) I have an older edition of this book I still use, but I have a newer version, too. What I like about this book, and I used to have several baby name books, is that instead of just a listing of names with meanings, this has names organized into many interesting categories, including Handsome Rogues, Nice Guys, Creative Power Names. It’s so much easier to pick out names for characters based on their personalities rather than going through a whole book and trying to figure out if their parents named them that because of the name’s meaning or the sound. Also, this book makes it easy to name siblings and have the names make sense together. There is also a section in the back with hints on naming your babies. Reading this gives you a better idea of how your character got that name.

6. Save The Cat! The Last Book on Screenwriting You’ll Ever Need by Blake Snyder. Yes, this is a screenwriting book, but our readers are accustomed to the visual style of film and we have to think cinematically. This book offers a humorous way of looking at plotting and the idea of the logline alone was worth the price of the book (okay, I got it as a Christmas gift but you get my meaning!). It helped me get a handle on a book plot I was struggling.

7. On Writing by Stephen King. I had heard so much about this book that finally I had to buy it and see what it says. Actually, once you get past the kind of raw language, it does have a lot to say about King and writing. Basically, like the No Plot book, it’s just fiction. Have fun and when it’s not fun anymore, maybe you’re doing something wrong.

8. First Draft In 30 Days: A Novel Writer’s System for Building a Complete and Cohesive Manuscript by Karen Weisner. I read an essay she wrote about this topic and I loved what she had to say, so I bought this book. I have to admit I’m still trying to figure it all out, and I don’t think I could get a rough draft out in 30 days, but she does admit that her method is more geared to suspense. In fact, romance is barely mentioned and then just as a subplot. I don’t know that I’ll use the forms and the techniques the way she describes, but there is still a lot I don’t understand. I’m willing to give this another try when it’s time.

9. The Writers Complete Fantasy Reference: An Indispensable Compendium of Myth and Magic Okay, this isn’t so much a romance writing book, but I do also write fantasy and this is a fabulous book for that. There’s sections on what a castle really looks like and includes so you can make yours realistic, as well as a description of medieval clothing and occupations as well as a section on fantasy creatures. Great book!

10. A Campaign For Pam by Teresa Holloway. I can’t believe I found this book on Amazon. Okay, it’s a used copy, but still it helps me make my point. This book came out in 1970. I was about 11 years old! I don’t think I read it then, but both my sister and I read it and we both thought it was terrible. I knew I could write better than this and get published someday!

11. On the Night of the Seventh Moon by Victoria Holt. My favorite book written by the master of the Gothic. I must have read this book two or three times and wish I had a copy of it now to read again. I LOVED this book at a time when I thought romance novels were beneath me. I know many people love Mistress of Mellyn and I know I read that one, but I don’t remember it as well. Oh, I need to read Victoria again.

12. Princess Daisy by Judith Krantz. I actually read this book out loud to my husband when we were first married because I loved this book so much. I know it’s not a “romance” by the definition I posted before but there is a lovely story.

13. What a Girl Wants: A Novel by Kristin Billerbeck. I want to be this woman when I grow up! She writes funny, Christian books and I WANT TO WRITE THOSE!

What books do you have to have with you when you write or which ones inspire you to write???