Authors Answer 16 – Writers’ Resources

Not everything comes from an author’s mind.  Probably not a good idea, anyway.  Sometimes they need help, whether it’s research, editing, critiquing, or creating covers.  There are some great resources online that can help with these and more.  This week’s very useful question comes from Amy Morris-Jones.

tourist-information-symbol-iso-sign-is-1293Question 16: What are your favorite online resources/websites for writers?

H. Anthe Davis

Whee, link time!  Alas, I lost a lot of my links in my computer upgrade, but I do have a few of interest.  I make my own maps using the GIMP 2 program (like an open-source Photoshop), following the advice of a great mapmaking tutorial.  I use this color chart sometimes, and this medieval demographics calculator (though just for a rough guide), and I find Peter Menzel’s photography site (and books) to be really helpful in visualizing the differences between cultures in terms of food and home-goods consumption.  I also learn a lot from organic farming and DIY websites.  While most of the information will never make it into the text, I like knowing the details of my places and peoples.

S. R. Carrillo

I guess I should get some, huh? Google count? :\ Winterbayne has some! http://winterbayne.com/for-writers/

Tracey Lynn Tobin

I don’t go there much anymore because there’s a time-management factor that’s required and I just don’t have it, but CritiqueCircle.com is an awesome website to be a part of. The basic idea is that you can post a chapter of your manuscript and have fellow writers critique it. In order to keep everyone playing fair, you have to earn points by critiquing other people’s submissions before you can post one of your own. If you’re looking for opinions on your work during the editing process it’s an awesome resource, but if you’re like me and you just don’t have time to earn your points, it might not be for you.

My other favorite would probably be WritersDigest.com. There are a lot of resources available on one site, and thought quite a bit of it is stuff you have to pay for, there’s quite a lot of free stuff as well. They’re also constantly running contests that you can take part in for a chance at prizes and exposure, and that’s pretty cool.

And lastly, definitely NaNoWriMo.org, because having a community can be very important to a writer, and I don’t think there’s any greater or more supportive community than NaNo.

Paul B. Spence

Uh… To be honest, my resources are on the shelf over my desk.

Jean Davis

I’m a faithful user (or daily stalker if you want to be truthful) of The Grinder. Because of my recent focus on short stories, The Grinder has been a valuable resource in researching markets. It’s wealth of market information, specific searches, and submission tracking are quick and easy to use, which means more time for writing. http://thegrinder.diabolicalplots.com

Amy Morris-Jones

I feel like this list could go on forever since I’m always adding to it, but here is a handful of my favorites that I continually return to again and again:

Aerogramme Writer’s Studio: http://www.aerogrammestudio.com/

The Write Practice: http://thewritepractice.com/

Writer’s Digest: http://www.writersdigest.com/

Writer’s Helping Writers: http://writershelpingwriters.net/

K.M. Weiland: http://www.helpingwritersbecomeauthors.com/

I’ve also found Twitter incredibly useful to keep up with the writing “conversation.”

D. T. Nova

Most of my answers aren’t specifically for writers, but can be very helpful to them anyway.

Behind the Name ( http://www.behindthename.com/ ) is good for helping decide names for characters.

For research I prefer to use semi-major sites that are about the general subject. The Nine Planets ( http://nineplanets.org/ ) for solar system astronomy, Encyclopedia Mythica ( http://pantheon.org/ ) for mythology, etc. Wikipedia is not as bad as some people say, though and I’ve done a lot of my research there.

http://www.aqua-calc.com/ has some useful tools, including the best volume/mass calculator I’ve seen.

http://stardestroyer.net/Resources/ has some tools for sci-fi writers, such as a planet parameter calculator.

I haven’t actually used it for anything that I’ve written, but http://www.seventhsanctum.com/index.php has all sorts of generators.

Caren Rich

Wow, that’s a loaded question.  I like Critique Circle, an online writers group that has forums as well as allows for critiques.  Wonderful for someone like me who hasn’t found a local group. Blogs from other writers are great to read about their successes and struggles as well as techniques. Pinterest is a great place to find articles relating to everything.  Good for research.

Specifics:

Writer’s Digest has forums and loads of information.

The Writers Forensics Blog has information on …. forensics!  Body parts, police, murder, etc…

Crime scene writer at Yahoo groups this is another great resource.   A place to ask questions relating to crime scenes and forensics.

Twitter, great place to keep tabs on all kinds of info for research.

Thrill Writing, another blog on crime writing.

Do you see a trend? With all of these resources I can plot out my novel, track down multiple ways to murder a character, clean up the crime scene, follow the clues and have my protagonist track down the killer.  All in a days work.

Linda G. Hill

The only thing I really have is WordPress. Can that be considered a resource?

Elizabeth Rhodes

I cannot give enough praise to Critique Circle.  That website has an amazing community of writers in all stages of the process geared toward helping each other improve upon their work.  It’s not like other critique groups where you’ll have a flood of review requests and few editors actually taking them on.  Their system is set up so that you must give as much as you get.
For getting words on the page, I recommend two other resources.  The first is National Novel Writing Month.  Despite the debate on whether their approach is a good one, NaNoWriMo provides if nothing else the motivation to ignore your self-doubts and fears for a month and get those words out.  You can’t edit a draft if you never write one, after all.  The second is Write or Die.  This little application functions like a word processor combined with a whip-lashing muse.  You will write, and you will continue to write, or you will be punished.  It’s another great motivator to keep writing and not worry about “Is this a good sentence?” just yet.

Jay Dee Archer

I rely on a few resources, but here are the biggest ones I use.

Critique Circle is my number one resource for critiquing. The community there is wonderful, and I’m guaranteed to have three or four critiques for my writing.

Writers Write has some great advice, but they also offer courses in writing.  They have some interesting topics that are quite helpful.

Another resource with blogs, forums, and articles about writing is Writing.com.

In the past, when I was doing my worldbuilding, I used this Medieval Demographics Made Easy calculator.  Of course, you can see the original calculator on this page, as well as spreadsheets and other calculators.  Here’s another interesting generator called Constructed Country Generator. And for an in-depth file, I suggest city216 on this page.  I used this a long time ago, and you can adjust many parameters so they can apply to more modern society. Although these are for RPGs, they can also be a bit of fun for worldbuilding in fiction.

How about you?

Do you know of any resources we didn’t mention? Leave your suggestions in the comments below.  I hope you found something new this week to help you with your writing.

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The 2K International Writers’ Blog Tour – Lauren Faulkenberry

the2kinternationalwritersblogtourAnother day, another interview.  We’re solidly in week three with the next interview.  View the original posts here and here.

Lauren Faulkenberry

lauren_faulkenberryI’m a writer and book artist currently living in North Carolina (US). I published a children’s book in 2002, but currently write novels and shorts stories. Under the imprint of Firebrand Press, I made limited edition handmade books that are letterpress printed. I’ve always loved books and illustration, and have combined my love of writing and image-making in artists books. My books are held in a variety of Special Collections libraries both nationally and internationally. I currently work for the National Park Service and travel to conduct printmaking and book arts workshops.

What is the first piece you remember writing (from childhood or young adulthood)?

A children’s book called “Lost Dog” when I was in grade school. I wrote and illustrated it, and made book covers from cereal boxes.

What is your favorite aspect of being a writer? Your least favorite?

My favorite thing about being a writer is pretending to be someone else, learning about new places, jobs, and people as a mode of research for my imaginings. My least favorite part is the submission process and the marketing side of things–I find self-promotion painfully difficult, but I know I need to do it.

Do you believe in writer’s block? If so, what is your best tip for beating it? If not, why not?

I often feel stuck. It’s a bit like coming to a dead end in a labyrinth and having to problem-solve to make the next move. To beat it, sometimes I take a break and read, or draw, or work on another project for a while. If I find I’ve sat staring at the screen for a half and hour with no progress, I shift gears to something else. But sometimes I sit for a half an hour, thinking of how I can create another obstacle for my character. I think: “What would the Coen brothers do?” That sometimes helps. At the very least, it’s fun, and that loosens me up.

What is your current writing project? What is the most challenging aspect of your current writing project?

lauren_faulkenberry_bookI’m rewriting a romance novel that I started years ago. The most challenging part of that is working out some plot points that have been irking me. I love my characters and think they have a great humor and chemistry, but I have to work hard to create an escalating plot. I sometimes get so wrapped up in my characters’ personalities that I lose sight of that escalation that I think is necessary.

What supports you in your writing?

Financially? My day jobs. Emotionally? My friends and family who encourage me–I’m very lucky to have them. I write because I love creating stories and creating alternate worlds for me to be a part of. It’s fun, and it’s magical when I’m doing it right, and I can’t imagine not doing it. So that fuels me to keep going when things are particularly hard.

What are you currently reading?

Lydia Millet’s “Mermaids in Paradise,” Neil Gaiman and Teri Pratchett’s “Good Omens,” and “Pride and Prejudice.” I like to spread my reading around, like watching different TV shows each day.

Where can our readers find you and your books online?

my blog: http://therightsideof30.blogspot.com/

artist books can be viewed on my site: http://firebrandpress.org/