Friday, November 29, 2013

Friday Five: Resources for Writers

by Stephanie Morrill

Stephanie writes young adult contemporary novels and is the creator of Her novels include The Reinvention of Skylar Hoyt series (Revell) and the Ellie Sweet books (Playlist). You can connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and check out samples of her work on her author website.

I'm currently holed up in a cabin in Estes Park, Colorado with a bunch of my family. We're up here to celebrate Thanksgiving, which is one of my favorite holidays. Even though I'm a big fan of presents and Christmas lights and all that good stuff, I love the (relative) serenity of Thanksgiving. That's it's about being together and eating great food and that, other than the grocery store, I didn't have to do a bunch of shopping for it.

With Thanksgiving in mind, here's a Friday Five list of 5 Resources That Writers Can Give Thanks For:

1. Agency Blogs

Seriously, how great is it to live in a time where many literary agents blog? Publishing isn't such a mysterious, faceless business anymore. Here are a few greats, listed in alphabetical order:

Miss Snark (a classic - the blog closed in 2007)

2. (And and

Etymonline is a great resource for understanding the origins of words. Every historical writer should have this bookmarked. 

3. Google Street View

For the Ellie Sweet series, I basically lived on Google Street View trying to get a feel for the Redwood High School campus. (Note to self: Use a fake school next time!)

If you can't afford a research trip, Google's got your back with Street View and Google Maps Views. Want to go to Antartica? Or see the Bridge of Sighs in Venice? Stonehenge?

4. Conference MP3s

Conferences are pricey. By the time I buy plane tickets, book my hotel, and pay my registration fee, I'm looking at $1,000. 

But some writers conferences also offer the MP3s of the classes for purchase. You can buy an entire conference or just a few sessions. American Christian Fiction Writers offers that option on their site. For RWA, it looks like you have to be a member to order the conference recordings.

Also, Jill speaks very highly of the podcasts on Writing Excuses, which is for fantasy and sci-fi authors, but has stuff that would apply to writing in general too.

5. The Chicago Manual of Style

This thing is ridiculous. Look at it:

She's the orange one with the 15 on the side. I'm not sure why she's a girl in my head, but that's the pronoun that came out.
It would be pretty impossible for me to write a book of that length on any subject ... but if it had to be on grammar? No, thank you. I'm super appreciative, however, of the folks who've actually given thought to the fact that brussels sprouts shouldn't be capitalized despite Brussels being a proper noun in another context. 

What resources are you thankful for? Pinterest? A certain writers conference you go to every year? A favorite craft book? Please share!


  1. :OOOOOO It never even occurred to me to use Google Maps!!!!!!!!!!!! Thank you so much! What a great list! :)

    What resources am I thankful for? Go Teen Writers!!! :) Thank you so much for all you guys do. <3

    Koren :)

  2. Pub Rants used to be one of my favorite blogs after GTW. But ultimately, I don't know if you understand how grateful I am for Go Teen Writers. It's the reason I finished my first book. The reason I started a second. It's the first blog I started reading, and ultimately the reason I started blogging. I literally would not be the person I am today without you and Jill.

    My favorite craft book is The Art of War for Writers. Some of my favorite resources are Miss Snarks First Victim, Query Shark, and yes, Pinterest. I love how many articles you can find there, though some of them have to be taken with a grain of salt.

    Hope you had a wonderful, safe, and healthy Thanksgiving with your family, Stephanie! Thanks for a great post once again!

    ~Sarah Faulkner

    1. I'm with you, Sarah! (My sis's name, btw.) Stephanie and Jill, it never would have even *occurred* to me that a teenager like me could write a full-length novel. And yet here I am, editing and plotting another. Roseanna's posts made me realise just how much I'd love to be an editor in the future. I owe you guys SO MUCH. When I am eventually published (hrmm...we'll have to wait awhile for that) you guys are all getting signed books and chocolate. Lots of chocolate. This is probably the website I visit most often in all of the Internet. I cannot express how grateful I am for what you guys do, and for free! Thank you, thank you, thank you. You guys are angels :)

  3. Wait---so what you're saying is, we can go on Google maps, look up Redwood, and see Ellie's high school?! :)

    1. That would be totally awesome!! :D

    2. Yes, you can! just search for Redwood High School in Visalia, California and you'll see it!

  4. From Amo Libros:
    And the Antioch Writers' Workshop teen writers scholarship.

  5. I'm really thankful for Go Teen Writers! I've learned so much about writing through this site. Thanks for all the helpful advice you provide.
    I'm also grateful for NaNoWriMo. It gives me the motivation to write a lot, more than I otherwise would, and the community in the forums is so great.

  6. Google Street View?! How could I forget to use this? Thanks for the reminder that Google is just epic.

    Pinterest is something I used to use a lot. I'm "taking a break" from it for a while, but it really is helpful. NaNo/100 for 100 has been immensely helpful as well, and of course GTW as everyone else has said! ;)

  7. What I actually use Google Street view is to find names for my characters… I often use the road names as surnames. :)

  8. Google street view and Pinterest are my best friends!!
    So is GTW, because you guys are what made me take my writing seriously :D

  9. GTW and Pinterest are my top resources!! ;) You guys know just about everything considering this writing stuff, and you can search stuff on Pinterest and find new websites that actually like writing. :)

    BTW, I finished The Unlikely Debut of Ellie Sweet!!! I LOVED it!!!! :D You're a fantastic writer, Stephanie!!! :D And, yesterday, I started Draft Two of Finding My Voice. :P Oh, yeah, and I CAN"T BELIEVE THAT THE 100/4/100 ENDS TODAY!!!!!!! :o

    1. You're so sweet, TW. Glad I didn't disappoint!

  10. GTW is awesome! I don't read many other writing blogs, and this is probably my favorite. I also like being part of the GTW Facebook group, because the great folks there post links to interesting articles.

    One quick thing: Writing Excuses isn't really solely aimed at sci-fi and fantasy authors. Most of what they talk about is applicable to all genres, and only a few podcasts are just for specific genres, but even in those there are sometimes good lessons for every genre.

  11. I'm definitely thankful for agent and authors' blogs! They've taught me SO much. I especially love when agents talk about "after" you've got an agent. So you're not 100% thrown in the deep end when it happens. :)
    I'm a fan of Google maps for research. Also pinterest. Also Wikipedia. How else would I know which hand goes where when you're ballroom dancing? (Or that electrocution can cause epilepsy! Okay...yeah, that was a weird thing to research...)

    1. From Amo Libros:
      Weird, maybe, but cool and kinda important if a character gets electrocuted...or you need a reason for them to suddenly develop epilepsy ;)

  12. GTW is definately the resource I'm very, very, very thankful for! Without this site (and the FB page) I don't think I would have ever taken that leap where I would have come really serious about my writing. Oh, and I'm definately bookmarking this page for sure, great resources. I just had a look at the podcasts on Writing Excuses, and those seem really great!

  13. Go teen writers! Thankyou, thankyou, thanks a bunch! ;)))) I'm one of your definite fans!!!! I am not a published author, but an aspiring one, no doubt! ;) thanks to Go Teen Writers!

  14. Just came home from my grandparents, and thanks for the post!
    Another thing to be thankful for: Be Thankful for Loving to Write!

    1. Yes! That IS a great thing to be thankful for. :)

  15. Well, one of my favorite resources is Go Teen Writers!
    I'm a historical-fiction person, so I look up a lot of stuff online. The Anne Boleyn Files and the Elizabeth Files are really neat, and I use Wikipedia a LOT! I've never thought to use Google maps for much, though I did use it to look up islands in Alaska to see how they looked for a novel I was writing back in '12. I'm going to have to remember that, anyways!
    Au revoir,
    Tabby (