Writing Resources

 

W elcome to my writing resources page! As an author and freelance editor, I receive a lot of questions  about products and services that I recommend. If you’re a writer, then you have come to the right place. I have created this Resource Page listing products that I know will be valuable for you to use. Please note that I only post products here that I’ve used myself and can honestly recommend. There are affiliate links in this post, so if you decide to try a product, I’d appreciate it if you could purchase it via the below links – I’ll buy myself some more writing resources to try out and see if they are worthy of recommending to you. (unless it’s one of those days, in which case maybe I’ll just treat myself to Starbucks!)

This page will be updated often, and I’ll also be blogging about some of the below writing resources so you can read about them more in-depth. Blog posts links will be added to this page as they are published. I sincerely hope you find these products helpful on your journey! Be sure to sign up for my Writers’ Corner newsletter so we can stay in touch.

Editing Tools

Pro Writing Aid Editing Tool – I really like this editing tool and use it both on my own books and on those of my clients. For my clients, I’ll run a grammar scan and a diction scan to clean up the manuscript a bit before I start developmental editing. For my own books, I’ll run multiple scans during the editing stages. I subscribed to the service for a year or two, and then found it so valuable that I bought the lifetime subscription. I like that it offers a Word Add-In option as I find that much more convenient than pasting words onto a web site. My favorite scans are the ones for grammar and diction. You can also run scans for  overused words, cliches and redundancies, consistency, and much more. A couple things to note: 1. You can’t just scan a whole novel and run multiple reports in one sitting.  I run one report at a time in twenty-five page chunks. 2. This does not replace a developmental editor, copyeditor, or proofreader.  While it catches a lot, no editing software catches everything. But this is a very good tool that can help you to polish and pump up your writing before you send it to an editor.

Writing Improvement Software

Newsletter

ConvertKit – I started out with a free newsletter and wondered for a couple years why I had so few people opening my emails. Finally I caught on – the emails I spent so much time crafting were going to spam for the majority of my subscribers.  If I wanted to build up my writing business, I realized I needed to stop spending my money on short term ads  and start putting it into my email list.  While attending webinars and listening to podcasts related to marketing and publishing, I kept hearing about ConvertKit from these marketing experts that I respected. When I compared it to other newsletter services like Mailchimp, it was much more user friendly and also had many more features. One of my favorites is the simple automation rules that follow a “if this / then that” sequence,” allowing me to segment my list by interest. No more duplicate subscribers. No more fighting with your email funnels. No more hacking automations together to make it all work. I love how it is geared toward bloggers, authors, and those with a content-driven business.

ConvertKit

Web Site

Siteground – I used to use GoDaddy for my hosting, and let’s just say that didn’t go well at all. There was an entire month where the server was so slow that I couldn’t even update my website or post a blog entry. After checking out reviews for other hosts, I found lots of mixed reports heavy on the negative. Siteground had the best reviews that I could find and over the past few years, I’ve been very happy with them.
Web Hosting

TweetDis – I bought this WordPress plug-in recently and have been going through my pages and some of my highest ranking blog posts, adding tweet boxes with pull-out quotes. It’s a neat feature and gets more people sharing your posts on social media. You can choose the color and size of your box. It’s simple. You click the TweetDis icon on your WordPress dashboard and  it inserts a short piece of code. Then  you just type in your tweet. It can be a quote from the article, catchy phrase, a statistic, or anything else. Here is an example below.  Go ahead, click it and see the tweet in action!

PopupAlley – I had the free version of this before I switched to a newsletter service that provided me with web site opt-in forms. This is a really neat WordPress plug-in as it lets you build a variety of opt-in forms in just minutes. If you upgrade to PopupAlly Pro, you can create any number of opt-ins… from squeeze pages, floating “opt-in bars”, below-the-blog post opt-in forms, exit-intent popups, click-to-open popups, and more. I’d suggest trying it out for free if you’ve been looking to add these kind of forms to your site, and then once you get a feel for it you can decide whether you would like to upgrade.

Sucuri – I’m not going to lie. I wish I didn’t pay to have for this subscription, because there are enough expenses to spend money on as an author without paying for website security. But I’ve been hacked at least four times over the years, and let me tell you, it’s not fun. I’ve spent more in one day for web site designers to bail me out than I have for an entire year of Sucuri monitoring my site. And when I do get hacked, they resolve the problem within a couple hours and are very efficient. I consider this insurance to help protect my website and I trust them to bail me out if I get into trouble. I know some authors who have lost their entire site because they got hacked and they had to start all over again, so I consider it worthwhile to pay for extra protection and for a team to rescue me if anything slips through the cracks. Their plans and prices have changed since I started using them, but the plan that I’m enrolled in focuses on antivirus monitoring and malware removal.

Technology

Samsung Chrome Book – Best purchase ever! This little laptop allows me to write, catch up on my email, and surf the web without being chained to my desk. I love that I didn’t need to install anti-virus protection or software. It turns on quickly and is ready to go. I added some apps and extensions from the Chrome Store to make it even more user-friendly.

Carrying sleeve – I like this case for the Chrome Book. At the department stores, they were all too big or too small, but like Goldilocks, I persisted until finding one that was just right. Always make sure that you compare the sizes of the laptop and the sleeve to make sure they mesh. I like my sleeve a little bit bigger so I have room for extras like pens and the charging cord.

Hard shell cover – With kids in the house, I also wanted a hard cover for the Chrome Book (in addition to the sleeve carrying case). This one fit mine perfectly.

 

Audiobooks

Try Audible and Get Two Free Audiobooks – If you have published an audiobook, or are considering having your books produced as audiobooks, then you should definitely learn how it works. Take advantage of this special offer from Audible and get two free audiobook downloads during your 30-day free trial.

Karen Commins’ Audiobook Resources for Authors – A goldmine of audiobook information courtesy of my wonderful Fooling Around With Cinderella narrator, Karen Commins. You’ll find titles such as ACX 101 for Authors; 5 Tips for Choosing a Narrator; Authors, Can You Afford to Produce an Audiobook; Audiobook Marketing Cheat Sheet, and lots more.

Romance Narrators – a boutique of polished freelance narrators in an easy-to-connect-with setting.

 

Books

Character Development: For more detailed reviews of these character development books, visit this blog post – 5 Tools for Writing Strong Characters

The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide To Character Expression by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi – I keep this book on my desk at arm’s length. In fact, somehow I lost my original copy. I even called the local library in case it got returned there by accident. After a couple weeks, I ordered a new copy as it’s that valuable. I’m not suggesting that you copy the suggested phrases word for word. Rather, use these lists to jog your own creativity. For example, instead of telling us “Her feelings were hurt,” you can show it by saying “She lowered her head, a painful tightness in her throat.” Which do you think is stronger?

Archetype Cards by Carolyn Myss – I use this tool when I’m in the planning stages of a new book, during that phase where I am trying to get a handle on my characters. It’s best to get your characters figured out early on, as otherwise you’re in for a lot of rewrites later. Archetypes are ancient, universal patterns of behavior that are embedded in what Carl Jung called the “collective unconscious.” Caroline Myss has created a unique set of 80 Archetype Cards, each individually designed to provide the basic Light and Shadow Attributes of a different Archetype.

The Positive Trait Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Character Attributes by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi –  Inside this book you’ll find a large selection of attributes to choose from when building a personality profile. Each entry lists possible causes for why a trait might emerge, along with associated attitudes, behaviors, thoughts, and emotions. It offers real character examples from literature, film, or television to show how an attribute drives actions and decisions, influences goals, and steers relationships. I use this book to help me decide on my characters’ main traits and to get some insight on what it really means to possess those traits.

The Negative Trait Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Character Flaws by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi – Whereas the authors’ positive trait guide focuses on more positive or neutral qualities like easygoing, introverted, and playful, the negative guide focuses on negative traits like being catty, nagging, or reckless. Through the flaw-centric exploration of character arc, motivation, emotional wounds, and basic needs, writers will learn which flaws make the most sense for their heroes, villains, and other members of the story’s cast.

366 Ways to Know Your Character by Rachelle Ayala –  Rachelle poses a huge list of brainstorming questions to help you get to know your characters and spark ideas you probably never would have considered. Whether you’re developing your character before writing, or working it out as you’re writing, answering the daily questions can stimulate your characters to surprise and shock you as well as take your story in directions you might not have expected. Each question is designed to draw you deeper into your character’s psyche. This is a great book to use in conjunction with another of Rachelle’s guides that I recommend, Romance In A Month: Guide to Writing a Romance in 30 Days.

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