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Writing sites

Advice, articles, resources, contests

Backspace: Simply the finest writers' site on the internet. You have to be a member to access the Forums, including the Guest Speakers Forum (see below), but there's plenty of useful info in the free pages. Go to Backspace

Also: see the Backspace blog on Publishers Marketplace for info on what's new at Backspace.

RWA: Romance Writers of America. Over 9,000 members, at least 1,600 of whom are published in book-length fiction. Click here to visit RWA.

IRWA: My local chapter of the above. Visit us here.

SFWA: While aimed at writers of sci fi and fantasy, this site contains much info any writer will find useful. Scroll down to the Writing Articles at the bottom of the page. Go to SFWA

Writer's Resource Links Directory: Carol Kluz's wonderful list of useful links: everything from grammar and research to finding an agent and learning about copyright. To Writer's Resource

Like contests? Here's a handy listing. Use your judgment, though--contains some iffy listings (very high fees compared to prizes; contests where entrants are urged to purchase an anthology). Proof Positive contest list

Some Terrific Tools: Need to know when the sun sets in Edinburgh in April? How long twilight lasts on a winter's night in Colorado? This site will tell you. Also has moon phases, but only goes back about a hundred years. This site will generate custom calendars, including moon phases, for any year. Incredibly handy for plotting, so that you don't lose track of days of the week. I print one out for the month(s) my action takes place, and jot down what happens on each day.

Popular Baby Names Need a good name for an American girl born in 1934? The Social Security Administration is dying to help. They have a database which can be searched by year or by name, to find out how popular any given name was in America in any year since 1879. Tracks only the top 1,000 names. Also can do a (limited) combined year/state search, which brings up most popular names in a particular state. Extremely useful for authors of contemporary (or any era from late Victorian to present).

Altavista's Babel Fish Translates from English into a number of foreign languages. Great for a few words or phrases here and there, but for God's sake get longer passages checked by someone who speaks the language. Incredibly fun, though, to take a paragraph from the ol' WIP and run it through a few other languages, then back to English... Terrific collection of references, including thesauri, dictionaries, quotations, encyclopedia, etc. Also includes the full text of all of Shakespeare, the King James Bible, Gray's Anatomy, and many other essential reference books. And it's all freaking searchable.

OED Online Subscription-only, but many libraries and universities offer free access to their members or students. Invaluable tool, not just for definitions or etymologies, but for finding out if a word was current to a particular era, so worth checking to see if you can access it.

Writer's Discussion Boards

AbsoluteWrite Water Cooler: A big site, with sub-boards devoted to talking about and critiquing all the major genres. A great place for beginning writers to learn the basics of publishing, although of course the quality of the advice varies by poster (and there are a lot of posters).  To the Water Cooler

Backspace Forums: to discourage trolls, Backspace has a $30/year fee. Is it worth it? You decide: the board is frequented by writers from all stages in their careers, from newbies to New York Times best-selling authors. A valuable plus is the Guest Speakers forum, which has featured agents, editors, and well-known authors, who make themselves available to answer members' questions. Past guests include Jenny Bent of the Trident Media Group agency, mystery writer Elizabeth George, sci-fi god Neil Gaiman and Harlequin acquisition editor Stacy Boyd. Free five-day trial if you'd like to check it out. To Backspace Forums

Writer's Net: When it's not troll heaven, this can be a very useful site. It's open, free (sometimes free-for-all), and all sorts of people pass through the doors. Not what it was in its heyday, but still of use. To Writer's Net

Other Writers' Sites Check out some of my fellow writers' websites, blogs, and books.

B.K. Birch: B.K. writes historical fiction, set in rural Appalachia and the South. You can visit her website here and her blog here.

Vincent Diamond: Vincent's gay erotic fiction (a.k.a. romantic smut) has been published by presses including Cleis, Haworth, Torquere, and Alyson's Best Gay Love Stories 2006. Excerpts and links available here.

Keith Cronin: Keith's sharp, funny fiction appears in several online venues, including Zinos, Amarillo Bay, and Carve Magazine. You can visit his website here. Keith, whose first novel is currently on submission, also has a hilarious blog over at Publishers Marketplace. Check it out.

H.G. Dowdell: Georgie's non-fiction has been published in Essence and Self, her fiction in Sister To Sister and Honey magazines. Her blog, Satin Black, Biscuit Cream, is lively and opinionated.

Colin Galbraith: Scottish poet, novelist and web designer...this guy can do it all! Check out his website here and his blog, Freedom From the Mundane.

Robert A. George: In his blog, Ragged Thots, Robert describes himself as "the Catholic, West-Indian black Republican." He ain't kidding about the the. Robert is also a friend of mine from waaaay back--so long ago, I even know the other middle name he doesn't divulge to his New York Post readers. Nope. Won't tell. Not me. Uh-uh. Hey Robert--wouldn't mind a mention of my book on your blog...

Sara Gruen: Her first novel, Riding Lessons (which featured a damaged horse helping to heal an even more damaged woman), made me cry like a baby. Her new novel, Water For Elephants, is currently storming up the best seller lists, and when you read her incredible recreation of a Depression Era circus, you'll understand exactly why. Visit her website here.

Kenneth Harrison: Kenneth is well-known for erotic gay fiction--dozens of his short stories have been featured in such venues as In Touch, Mandate, and PlayGuy; and his books include both collections of stories and novels. See his website here (and read a story for free!).

Sarah A. Hoyt: Currently known best for her fairies-meets-Shakespeare series beginning with Ill Met By Moonlight, Sarah's new Three Musketeer mysteries will be available starting in November, 2006. Check out her website here.

Melanie Lynne Hauser: Confessions of Super Mom is a lightning-fast, fun read about a woman who acquires superhero powers after an unfortunate Swiffer accident. Note: would make a great present for anyone who's ever struggled with raising kids, evil PTA members, and/or Stains of Unusual Origin! Read the first chapter at  Melanie's website.

Carrie Kabak: Cover the Butter is a great read about a woman's life-long relationship with her (rather difficult) mother. I'm sure many can relate...

Belea Keeney: Belea has published a number of short stories, most recently in Florida Horror: Dark Tales from the Sunshine State. Check out her website here.

Dee S. Knight: Dee writes a spicy fusion of romance and erotica, and was a 2005 RWA Maggie Award winner. Check out her fiction here.

Elizabeth Letts: Quality of Care, her first novel, draws on her experience as a nurse-midwife to tell the story of an obstetrician who has to face her past after a tragedy. See her website here.

Michelle Miles: Michelle had serialized novels available at the now-defunct Keep It Coming. Her romance short story, "Mingled Yarn," won the Editors' Choice award at Wild Child. Visit her website and blog.

Scott Pomfret and Scott Whittier: Scott & Scott write gay romance in a contemporary urban setting. See their website here.

Bonnie Shimko won a Lambda Award in 2003 for her first book, Letters in the Attic, a young adult novel about Lizzie, 12-year-old girl who struggles with her crush on her best friend Eva. Her second novel, Kat's Promise, came out in August 2006. Check out her website

Other Sites You Might Enjoy

In which I shamelessly plug my friends' sites and products. More links as they occur to me.

Vermont Bee Balm I'm crazy about this stuff! An all-natural balm for dry, cracked skin, it's handmade in Craftsbury, Vermont by Julie Devlin Brochu. Makes a great stocking stuffer.

Berkshire Sweet Gold Maple Farm Janis Steele and Brooks McCutchen's family farm in Western Massachusetts produces a variety of premium maple syrups, packaged in gorgeous Italian glass bottles. Would make terrific gifts for the sweet-toothed on your list.

Book Recommendations from James He's smart, he's funny, he's a book geek. And he gets bonus points for recommending Eats, Shoots, and Leaves, Good Omens and Somebody Killed His Boyfriend on the same page. Check out the rest of his site while you're there.

Vermont Country Gourmet Owned and operated by Shelly Laferriere, a classmate of mine from St. Johnsbury Academy. Lovely gift baskets and specialty foods from Vermont.

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This site was last updated 10/16/07