Online Writing Resources
For years I’ve been bookmarking useful websites with the intention of sharing these resources with the (writing) world at large. Please note this is a work in progress and I will be adding links and annotating them as I get time – and, periodically, checking to make sure the links still work.
If you have any suggestions for additions, please post a comment on this page and at some indeterminate point I’ll get around to checking out your suggestions – but as this is a curated collection (i.e. stuff I’ve personally found useful), I reserve the right to ignore your suggestions in much the same way my son ignores almost all of my suggestions on personal grooming.
- Ralan.com – Market listing for speculative genres (science fiction, fantasy, horror and many other genres and sub-genres). Includes listing for short fiction (organized by pay rate: pro, semi-pro, pay and token), book length works, and contests. I am reluctant to enter contests unless the contest has no entry fee and the rights grab is reasonable. However, there is one contest that is worth entering, if only because there is no rights grab at all, and the (very reasonable $5) entry fee supports an organization I think is worthy of support:
- The Friends of the Merril Short Story Contest . “The Merril Collection, originally the Spaced Out Library and later renamed for the late Judith Merril, is the foremost North American public assemblage of Speculative, SF and Fantasy Fiction and is an invaluable tool for enthusiasts, researchers and authors.”
- For other Canadian contests (largely literary magazines), there is a good listing on the CBC website in their Books sections.
- The Submission Grinder – “The Submission Grinder is a submission tracker and market database for writers of fiction and poetry.” Just what it says. I’ve kept my own stats on pro markets for a few years because I like sending new work to places that respond the fastest (of course the work must also be a good fit for that market) and my stats are pretty congruent with what you find here.
- Manuscript format for submissions – William Shunn (often cited on submission pages)
- The Writers’ Trust. A site that lists residencies for Canadian writers. Also includes information on other programs for writers.
- SF Canada. “SF Canada exists to foster a sense of community among Canadian writers of speculative fiction, to improve communication, to foster the growth of quality writing, to lobby on behalf of Canadian writers, and to encourage the translation of Canadian speculative fiction.”
- Science Fiction Writers Association (SFWA). “Founded in 1965, SFWA is an organization for published authors and industry professionals in the fields of science fiction, fantasy, and related genres.”
Contracts ‘n tax ‘n other legal stuff
- SFWA model magazine contract
- Tax advice for Canadians
- Five Things Canadian Writers Should Know About Income Tax
- Tax Deductions for Canadian Writers
- Canada Council. For Canadians.
- Ontario Arts Council. For residents of Ontario.
- Toronto Arts Council. For residents of Toronto.
Other Income (lending and copying rights, etc)
- Public Lending Right Program – “The Public Lending Right (PLR) Program sends yearly payments to creators whose works are in Canada’s public libraries.” For Canadian authors.
- Access Copyright – “We manage licensing, collection of licensing fees and distribution of royalties on your behalf so that you can focus on what you do best – creating! Payback: You will be eligible to receive our annual Payback payment. Each year, all eligible affiliates receive a share of the Payback payment depending on how much they contributed to the repertoire of works licensed by Access Copyright.” For Canadian authors.
- Authors Licensing and Collecting Society – “We make sure you receive the money you’re entitled to as a writer when someone copies or uses your work. We collect money from all over the world, then pay it to our members. ” Similar to Access Copyright, but based in UK. Canadians are eligible to join.
Yes, I still buy books, even though there are few in the list below. Over time, I will add print and ebooks I’ve found most valuable. For now, though, I’m focusing on online resources.
General Reference Works
- Wikipedia, of course. It’s always my starting point, but not the be all and end all when I need more than a cursory overview. When it’s not enough, my next step is to use Google Scholar and search for non-Wikipedia articles. Tip: over the years I’ve found many of my queries have begun with “list of”, “parts of” or “types of” when I need to find the right kind of object or concept (“types of ships”, “types of magic”, “list of religions”, “parts of an engine”, etc).
- Google Scholar. Search engine for both full text and metadata of scholarly work (i.e. peer reviewed journals, conferences, etc).
- Encyclopedia Britannica. Somewhat free. I’ve used it occasionally, probably more because of a nostalgic pang (my parents had the full set) than for any other reason.
- Internet Archive and Wayback Machine. “Internet Archive is a non-profit library of millions of free books, movies, software, music, websites, and more.” The Wayback Machine is part of the Internet Archive and contains snapshots of web pages over time. If something you wanted has disappeared from the Internet, you may be able to find it here. Or not.
- Library of Congress Digital Collections
- Courses/lectures on various subjects:
- OpenCourseWare Consortium – Toolkit
- Connexions – Sharing Knowledge and Building Communities
- National Repository of Online Courses (NROC)
- MIT OpenCourseWare
- Academic Earth
- Open Culture – “Open Culture brings together high-quality cultural & educational media for the worldwide lifelong learning community.”
Biology and Medicine
- Tree of Life Web Project
- This is what happens after you die | Mosaic
- The Body After Death – The Body After Death | HowStuffWorks
- BioDigital: 3D Human Visualization Platform for Anatomy and Disease
- DEA / Drug Fact Sheets
- Mayo Clinic – includes a symptom checker. Pretty sure I don’t have brain cancer….
Geography & Environment & Maps
- David Rumsey Historical Map Collection | The Collection
- Collections with Maps | Library of Congress
- Maps of War
- Virtual Mappa
- The world: 4º C warmer
Society, Architecture, Professions and Life
- Historical Fencing Manuals Online — Swords & Swordsmanship
- Components of medieval armour – Wikipedia
- All Things Medieval – Art, Castles, Weapons, etc
- Medieval Life – Castles, People, Life, Timelines
- Castles and Manor Houses – Life, Food, etc
- The Roman Military
Weapons, War & Violence
- Q & A: Physics Questions? Ask the Van | Department of Physics | University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Astronomy, Astrophysics, Space flight
- The Physics of Interstellar Travel : Explorations in Science :: Official Website of Dr. Michio Kaku
- A Black Hole Engine That Could Power Spaceships – black holes – io9
- Black Hole Thermodynamics
- An Atlas of The Universe
- Cosmic Watch App – Very cool. “The Cosmic Watch is an interactive 3D tool. It’s a realtime worldclock, time travel machine, astrolab, antikythera mechanism, orrery, armillary sphere, astral-chart generator and solar system simulator.”
- Habitable Zones. “Using this website, you can calculate the habitable zones of single, binary and multiple star systems.”
- Worldbuilding Stack Exchange
- “World Anvil is a worldbuilding tool for Authors, Storytellers and worldbuilding lovers.“
- Worldbuilding Videos (Chronological/logical order) – YouTube
- Build Your Own Earth. “Imagine creating your own world and exploring its climate and weather. That was the vision that we had for Build Your Own Earth. Even with today’s supercomputers, such a vision is not yet feasible. But, we are able to create a few worlds for you and allow you to explore them.”
Language & Dictionaries
- Urban Dictionary
- 1811 Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue by Francis Grose – Free Ebook
- The Slang Dictionary: Or, The Vulgar Words, Street Phrases, and “fast … – John Camden Hotten – Google Books
- A Latin-English/English-Latin Dictionary Client (Java)
- The Racial Slur Database
- The meanings and origins of sayings and phrases
- Onomatopoeia Dictionary – Written Sound
- General words used to describe colors – Macmillan Dictionary and Thesaurus
- Behind the Name: Meaning of Names
- OneLook Dictionary Search
- The New Partridge Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English > What is the New Partridge?
- Appendix:English toilet slang – Wiktionary
- Time Traveler by Merriam-Webster: Search Words by First Known Use Date
- A Historical Dictionary of American Slang
- LibrarySpot.com: Encyclopedias, maps, online libraries, quotations, dictionaries & more.
- freesound. Database of sounds – I know, sounds aren’t words, but I’ve found it helps when I hear a sound before I try to describe it in words.
Social Media For Readers (and Writers)
Educational (and otherwise) Cool Things I’ve Collected Over the Years
- Miniature Earth
- Hydrogen Atom Scale Model
- The Solar System
- JOURNEY OF MANKIND – The Peopling of the World
- World Battleground, 1000 years of war in 5 minutes
- YouTube – A Fair(y) Use Tale. A short video on copyright.
- Story: Style, Structure, Substance, and the Principles of Screenwriting – Robert McKee. Large book I’ve never quite finished, but what I’ve read seemed spot on. The principles are of storytelling and the vast majority apply equally well to fiction.
Grammar and Style
- The Elements of Style – By William Strunk Jr. and E.B. White. Classic (slim) book on grammar.
- Chicago Manual of Style. Classic (fat) book on grammar and style conventions.
- OWL: Handouts: Grammar, Punctuation, and Spelling. From Purdue’s Online Writing Lab. I’ve recommended this site a fair bit to students when teaching courses that require essay writing.