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Click Here! Smarty Pants Edition

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting [1]This Friday, we’ll post the first part of an empowering interview with Writer Beware’s [2]Victoria Strauss. Given that Victoria is dedicated to helping us remain cookies of the smartest order in the sometimes crumbly world of publishing, I thought this week’s Click Here links should help us to write smart with good research! Here we go…

Writing about an unfamiliar state or country? Places Online [3]is the ideal first stop for learning more about it. A service of the Association of American Geographers [4], Places Online provides links to some of the best place-based websites available. Each site chosen provides unique information to help you get a true feel for a locale, as if you were “actually present observing the human and/or physical environment.” Beginning with a map of the world, hone in on the area you’d like to virtually visit. As it will be continually expanding, this site is definitely one to bookmark.

A search engine you may want to investigate now (and later) is the interesting A9 [5]. Not only will search results provide the usual links to websites and images (these portions powered by Google), they will show “inside the book” results (thanks to Amazon.com), movie hits (provided by the Internet Movie Database) and reference material hits (encyclopedic, dictionary, etc…) as well. If that weren’t enough, A9 also refers to your own search history and bookmarks to highlight pertinent sites. The layout is dynamic, a nice blend of text and images. Click here [5] and give it a try!

Want more?

The Librarians’ Internet Index [6]is a site linking to info guaranteed to be reliable, and everyone wants trustworthy info, right? Funded mostly by the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services, LII has “tens of thousands of entries, also maintained by our librarians, and organized into 14 main topics and nearly 300 related topics.”

How Stuff Works [7]is a cool site, which can explain how just about anything–from fireworks to wiretapping–works! They also have a great section on the human body, but if you’d like to know more about anatomy, check out the original Gray’s Anatomy here [8]. Features “1,247 vibrant engravings—many in color—from the classic 1918 publication, as well as a subject index with 13,000 entries …”

Writing a novel that features a lawyer or judge, a crime or a court case? You may enjoy perusing the links and articles available at Find Law [9]where you can learn about topics ranging from traffic violations to medical malpractice to immigration law.

Google + Merriam Webster + Encarta + Bartleby = iTools [10], a cool one-stop-shop research site that uses multiple search engines. Also includes access to translators, biographies, an e-libraray and more.

Don’t let the kid-friendly appearance of the Ask-an-Expert [11]site put you off; there’s a lot of great information to be found here. Categories include science, law, business, international/cultural, health, trades and more.

As Kath pointed out recently [12], naming characters can be a tricky business. Authors should spend some time choosing the right monikers; not only do they carry weight and rhythm but meaning as well. There are techniques for naming multiple characters in a novel as well, so that each is memorable in its own right (choosing the right vowel sounds is important, for instance). Check out this valuable article, “Problems with names and how to avoid them [13]” by Caro Clark.

There are hundreds of Baby Name sites on the Internet, so what makes Think! Baby Names [14] special? Well, besides the usual info linking names to meanings—great for naming characters according to their traits—this site has linked names with popularity rankings from as early as 1900 (thanks to the Social Security Administration). It’s user-friendly and lists thousands of possibilities.

Last but definitely not least, I want to tell you that Marjorie’s daughter is still missing [15]. If you haven’t yet, and you live on the west coast or in the southwestern part of the U.S. (especially Texas), please check these details and keep your eyes out for this girl. An aside: You’ve probably received emails on occasion that include sad stories and pictures of missing children, prompting you to forward the email. More often than not, these emails are fraudulent or even years old. You can, however, make a true impact by visiting The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children [16]. The site is beautifully kept, updated frequently, and even includes a search option to look for specific missing children. (By the way, you can check the validity of all sad-story emails before passing them on by visiting urban legend sites such as Snopes [17] before you hit the “forward” button.)

Write on!

About Therese Walsh [18]

Therese Walsh (she/her) co-founded WU in 2006 and is the site's editorial director. She was the architect and 1st editor of WU's only book, Author in Progress [19], and orchestrates the WU UnConference. [20] Her second novel, The Moon Sisters [21], was named one of the best books of the year by Library Journal and Book Riot; and her debut, The Last Will of Moira Leahy [22] was a Target Breakout Book. Sign up for her newsletter [23] to be among the first to learn about her new projects (or follow her on BookBub [24]). Learn more on her website [25].