My Favorite Helpful Websites

I've compiled a list of my favorite 'go-to' websites related to writing, quasi-Listverse-style. Hopefully you'll find a hidden gem or two in this list.

Indies Unlimited  What it is: A blog run by and for independent authors.Why I like it: Indies Unlimited offers 3-4 posts per day, covering a plethora of topics including, but not limited to: free self-service promo features (Freebie Fridays, Thrifty Thursdays, Print Book Paradise), flash-fiction contests, new release announcements, video trailer features, sneak-peek showcases, interviews, guest posts, a bookstore featuring members, and a knowledge base featuring past articles, which include great tutorials on just about everything related to indie writing. Plus, the folks that run IU are nice, helpful, and accessible.

Pro Writing Aid  What it is: A free online editing tool that lets you paste blocks of your writing and then analyzes it and highlights problems and offers tips and suggestions. Why I like it: It's free and has more features than some paid services. I have more details in this post.

Free  What it is: A free online thesaurus (duh!). Why I like it: There are a lot of options for free online thesauri, but I like Free more than others because of the Visual Thesaurus feature (graphically-linked word diagrams) and it's clean, quick interface.

MorgueFile  What it is: An online database of free reference images (although not public domain images). Why I like it: MorgueFile has a huge selection of images and the usage requirements of each image is clearly described. I use it primarily to find imagery for my blog (see image below), but it can be used for any variety of non-commercial uses.

Visual Dictionary Online  What it is: Merriam-Webster's free online dictionary featuring image-themed definitions. Why I like it: As a visual person, a picture is definitely worth 1,000 words to me. These graphics are great for learning all the various parts and pieces that comprise an object.

Catalogue of Human Features by Majnouna What it is: A poster-like graphic on DeviantArt that displays and labels a wide variety of human features, such as face shapes, eye and hair colors, body types, and more. Why I like it: It's a nice reference chart for describing in writing the characters I envision in my head. Works in reverse, too, when trying to envision characters. Majnouna has a lot of other great graphics on DeviantArt as well.

Spreeder What it is: A free online tool for improving your reading speed. Why I like it: Because it seems to work, and as a writer, I love to read, so the ability to read (and comprehend) faster is a trait I covet. I cut and paste blog posts and other articles I'm interested in, then read them on Spreeder, cranking up my word speed a little every time.

Maxwell Alexander Drake's Class List  What it is: The support website for fantasy author Maxwell Alexander Drake's Creative Writing Sessions, including class handouts and materials. Why I like it: Because I attended four of Drake's sessions at Comic-Con each of the last two years and find myself returning to his class resources for reference and refreshing. I suspect his handouts have stand-alone value, even if you've not attended any of his sessions.

Author Update: After some brain-storming with my editor, I've decided to re-work several (I think six) chapters from Mirrors & Mist, Book Two of the Oxbow Kingdom Trilogy. Basically, I'm removing a lot of flashback scenes and putting more focus on the story's present-time. I'm also adding some of the flashback/backstory to the second edition of Crimson & Cream, to better setup book 2. In December, Crimson & Cream will go back to my editor for a final polish and while she's doing that, I will finish the changes to Mirrors & Mist. Meanwhile, 2013 continues slipping away . . .