Justine: A Few of My Favorite Sites

eight ladies writing, justine covington, favorite websitesThis past week has been a blur for me. I’ve been in the throes of calculating scores for the Diamonds in the Desert writing contest. Believe it or not, writers aren’t very good at math. One hundred sixty-two entries had to be verified…and I did them all. Thank goodness for Siri, because I could just summon her and ask her to calculate 4 + 18 + 12 + 15….you get the idea. She’s pretty accurate, too.

In lieu of an original post (because I burnt out all my brain cells doing math), I want to share a few of my favorite sites…some of them are writing-related, some are Regency-related, but all are valuable to me. I hope you find some value in them, too.

Terribleminds — the Eight Ladies are a big fan of Chuck Wendig’s blog, which is chock-full of all kinds of writerly advice, from the real issues between the battle of Hachette vs. Amazon to giving female characters agency. If you haven’t signed up for his blog, do so. And browse. You’ll find a ton of good information about writing, but be warned…it’s NSFW.

dictionary.com and thesaurus.com — okay, this probably seems obvious, but I’m on this site all the time. In fact, I have the app on my phone, too. I use the dictionary side to find out when words originated (to avoid anachronisms in my work). For example, I wanted to use “sucker punch,” but unfortunately, the term wasn’t coined until the turn of the last century. The thesaurus side is extremely helpful for my mind-like-a sieve-but-a-brain-like-sand mind. I often find myself unable to come up with the perfect word, which is when I pull this site up. It’s always helpful and more often than not, I get several options instead of that one word my mind was searching for.

Google Books — here’s another site I visit quite often, mostly for old books or maps. One of my favorites is Cary’s New Itinerary (for 19th century carriage travel through England), but I’ve found some great maps of Regency England, provincial France, and even tiny Elba, where Napoleon was holed up before his 100 days.

Writers In The Storm — WITS was founded by Jenny Hansen, Laura Drake, Orly Konig Lopez, and Fae Rowen, but they have guest bloggers all the time. There’s always good info/advice on everything from writing to publishing to marketing to motivation. Some of their guest bloggers include Margie Lawson, Kathryn Craft, and Chuck Sambuchino. Writers in any phase of their career will find the posts here helpful.

Two Nerdy History Girls — I can’t remember if it was Elizabeth or Nancy who turned me onto this site, but I love it. While I specialize in Regency (right now) these ladies — Isabella Bradford and Loretta Chase — talk about most anything from the Georgian, Regency, or Victorian eras, including fashion, politics, jewelry, hairstyles, social customs, and, of course, shoes. There have been several mornings when their blog post has me scurrying down a rathole of discovery, jumping from link to link to link. It’s fascinating stuff (and the people they get to meet and the things they see are just amazing, like private collections of Regency gowns or the seamstresses of Colonial Williamsburg).

So, just a few sites I hit a few times a week (or day!).  What sites do you like? What do you use them for? Research? Writing tips? Just for fun? Please share, because we’re always looking for new places to play!

11 thoughts on “Justine: A Few of My Favorite Sites

  1. (-: I like those sites, too.

    My favorite dictionary site is Merriam-Webster. A lot of things are behind a paywall, but almost everything I look up is free. I love the little grammar and word lectures they have on their site, too. I can wind up spending a half an hour there. (It’s really fun to see some of the comments on the words I look up, too.)

    And there was something someone told me about several weeks ago. Google Ngram Viewer will take the word or phrase you want, search through the Google Books, and give you a graph showing how long it’s been used and how much. Then you can check out the top hits that they calculated the word/phrase from. For example, I looked up “time sink” and was amazed to find a lot of hits for the 19th century. What??? I looked up the hits, and there were a lot of “The bobbin will, over time, sink to the level blah-blah-blah.” So, it’s not extremely accurate, but it is a lot of fun.
    https://books.google.com/ngrams/graph?content=time+sink&case_insensitive=on&year_start=1850&year_end=2008&corpus=15&smoothing=10&share=&direct_url=t1%3B%2Ctime%20sink%3B%2Cc0

    I think you can tweak the search functions if it is important, though.

    • Oh boy, that Google Ngram site must sure come up with some interesting results! I’ll have to try that, though, if I’m looking for something particularly historical.

      Another site I forgot to mention was the British Newspaper Archive (britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk).

      Here’s their blurb: “The British Newspaper Archive is a partnership between the British Library and findmypast to digitise up to 40 million newspaper pages from the British Library’s vast collection over the next 10 years.”

      It’s not just one newspaper, it’s many. There’s a monthly subscription rate of about £10, but just last week, they were offering a special — a one month subscription for £1. I pay to use, when I want to look up information or peruse the papers for other social events that were happening at the time, particularly because my story is based in a very specific window of time (March 1-20, 1815). Easy for me to target newspapers and find out what soirees and on dits were circulating at the time. It’s quite fun, but as with most things, you can get sucked down a rabbit hole if you’re not careful!

      • That sounds like a great site! I’m a little peeved with the New York Times archives. They are behind a paywall, and it looks like there are some great articles there that would help me out. However, I found a bunch of old New York newspapers in free archives, and I was able to do a lot with those.

        One thing that really gets me is that they are crowd-sourcing their digitalization. People can go over and type in the copy from old articles, or identify which segments are articles and which are ads . . . really cool project. But as far as I can see, you only get points and levels for doing it, and you don’t get to choose what you work on. It’d be really cool if they gave you access to one article if you checked 10 old ones, or something like that.

        Some universities have digitized free archives. I went to some trouble to re-type the article into my files (searchable), and some archives let you correct the text, while others want you to set up an account and log in. I didn’t have any time for that, so I just sent the corrected text with the newspaper date and info to the college. I haven’t been back to see if they did anything with what I sent, but at least I tried.

  2. I love literary agent Janet Reid’s blog. If you’re thinking of querying your manuscript, or just want to know more about what a literary agent does, go there. It’s sharp, packed full of need-to-know information, and it’s funny as hell. Don’t skip the comments.

    For me the address is http://jetreidliterary.blogspot.co.uk, but I’m guessing it will be a dot-com suffix for most of you.

    • I’ll need to hit this one up soon, I think (hope), if I can Finish The Damn Book. That she makes it fun sounds great. And I’ll be sure to read the comments!

      Oh, and I checked the US link…it’s jetreidliterary.blogspot.com.

      • When you FTDB you might also want to check out her other blog, Query Shark (queryshark.blogspot.com). She helps authors re-write live queries, and there are something like two hundred examples to look through. I haven’t read them all (yet) but I’ve read enough to know my query letter needs work. Sigh.

  3. Thank you for the suggestions for sites. I’ve added a few to my arsenal.

    Another great writing blog is Writers Write, based in South Africa. They have multiple contributors. The other day they had a great article on Dr. Seuss and his thoughts on writing. Today’s post is about founding your writing voice. They have great advice, from those who are just starting out on writing, to those who’ve been at it for awhile. I highly recommend it.

    Here’s the link: http://writerswrite.co.za

    • Thanks Elaine! That’s a great site. For those in the US, follow Elaine’s link, as writerswrite.com is something different (although interesting in its own right, as it discusses writing for the entertainment industry).

    • I totally agree, Elaine. Writers Write is one of my favorites. I don’t have to work hard at seeing it either — it pops up in my Facebook feed everyday.

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