Big Book Data for the Little Author Guy

data for author research on google nviewer ball-457334_960_720Coming up with blanks while trying to decide what to write about this month, I went back to a list of post ideas I’d started what feels like forever ago in internet terms. I found some notes about a New York Times article The Passive Voice had excerpted that talked about Google’s Ngram Viewer. This is cool stuff. Better late than never, right?

I’m going to briefly touch on two different areas in this post. What the Ngram Viewer does, and how it might be useful to an author. Continue reading “Big Book Data for the Little Author Guy”

Some Time-Saving Keyboard Shortcuts for Google Chrome

Fast typingI came across some very handy keyboard shortcuts recently. Some IU followers may already know them, but for those who don’t, you might like to try them out. These could be especially helpful to authors who do a lot of research online.

I have a very bad habit that inevitably results in me tut-tutting away and cursing my laptop. Or my broadband. I’m a taboholic. I have an addiction to having as many open internet tabs as possible. I just can’t help it. Technically savvy husband is forever ticking me off and telling me to ‘for goodness sake, close some of those tabs’ when I’m muttering that my laptop isn’t playing nicely with me.

But I NEED them all open. I really do. I need to look this up. I need to look that up. I need the dictionary open. I need the thesaurus open. It saves SO much time if the pages are open, ready and waiting.

I admit that, yes, I do have a tendency to have just a few too many tabs open. I’m sure most of you are far more moderate and only have a few essential ones open whilst you’re writing/researching/editing. Continue reading “Some Time-Saving Keyboard Shortcuts for Google Chrome”

A Treasure Trove of Research Sources for Authors

Christine FrostGuest Post
by Christine Frost

I confess — I’m a digital hoarder. Spending many years in the academic world and being a historical fiction author, I’ve collected a tremendous amount of research. Over the years, I’ve taken notes from countless books to ensure I’m accurately portraying the historical figures, cuisine, and cultures I’m portraying in my writing. It’s easy to get swept up in taking notes. New ideas for the story come with each interesting detail.

There is a delicate balance in historical fiction. In order to be able to move comfortably within the realm of the story you’re creating, the scale of research needed can be huge. The risk for writers is spooling out endless facts in prose just because there were dozens of fascinating details that were discovered in research. While working on my second novel, set in medieval Ireland, I happened to find a book describing everyday life in rural areas. Soot houses dotting the Irish landscape may provide just the right touch of authenticity, but an expository paragraph on their construction and functionality bogs down the narrative and removes the reader from the story. Continue reading “A Treasure Trove of Research Sources for Authors”

Information, Please: The JustAnswer Experience

When I was finishing up my last novel, Stone’s Ghost, I realized I needed some help. My main character lived in Lake Havasu City, Arizona, and owned a Sea-Doo rental shop on the lakeshore near the London Bridge. Part of the story concerned his dealings with a difficult customer who manhandled one of the rented Sea-Doos. As I was writing, I took a wild guess at ways a customer could foul up a Sea-Doo, but I really had no idea. When I got to the editing stage, I knew I needed to check the facts to make sure I was telling a credible story.


I did the usual searching online but after several days and scores of sites, the specific information I needed was not coming up and I realized I had to do a much more targeted approach. I found JustAnswer and decided to give it a try. Continue reading “Information, Please: The JustAnswer Experience”