Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Seven writing resources to keep close at hand

Myra Johnson
My writing bookshelves are jam-packed with a variety of writing references. I’ve got craft books, style books, dictionaries, and synonym finders. I’ve got how-done-it books, name-your-baby books, and Ruthy-style kick-in-the-pants motivational books. Books on promo, books on how to write a proposal and synopsis, books on self-editing. You name it, it’s probably there.

I’ve also bookmarked several websites I refer to regularly. Online dictionaries and etymology sites. Surname origins. Top baby names by decade. Newspaper archives.

But if I had to name seven resources I wouldn’t want to be without, the list below would be pretty close to accurate.

The Chicago Manual of Style. If you’ve been hanging around Seekerville for very long, you’ve had a few encounters with Grammar Queen. Well, she lives inside my head, and she’s a stickler for correct grammar, punctuation, and word usage. So we keep CMS handy for when either of us needs to verify a rule (or make sure we’re safe to break it). I’m still using the 15th edition, but the 16th edition has been around for a few years. Maybe one of these days I’ll fork over the big bucks to buy the latest.

Google Maps. Since I can’t always travel to the places where my stories are set, Google Maps (especially the earth view) is my number-one tool. I can zoom in for a better look at the terrain, the street layout, where buildings are located, etc. There’s also a nifty bar that pops up at the bottom of my screen showing photographs others have uploaded of specific locations.

The Writer’s Digest Character-Naming Sourcebook. If I had to choose only one name book, this would be the one. With sections for more than 30 different nationalities and ethnic groups, and each section divided by male and female, the book provides plenty of character naming inspiration. The front section also offers guidance on how to choose a name based on the story genre, timeframe, character’s personality, etc. While the lists are all for first names, many work just as well as surnames.

Time and Date. Whether I’m writing contemporary or historical, I always begin by creating an Excel calendar where I can track a timeline of story events, past, present, and future. The Time and Date website tells me when nationally recognized holidays occur and will even give me the monthly phases of the moon. It’s also great for calculating time differences in various parts of the world. Have fun exploring the site to see all the options at your fingertips!

The Writer’s Brainstorming Kit. I’ve described this handy tool in an earlier post, so I won’t go into further detail here, except to say it’s a great way to stir the creative juices and look at my plot and characters in new ways.

Bartleby.com. This online source of quotations is one of my top go-to references when I’m trying to come up with the perfect title for my work-in-progress. As ideas about the theme or tone of the story come together, I make a list of keywords and then plug them one at a time into the search bar. Skimming through the quotations that pop up, I look for any that fit the story and then see if I can tweak a phrase from the quote into a catchy title.

The Moral Premise. We’ve talked a lot about the Moral Premise here in Seekerville, and we’ve even had the author himself, Dr. Stanley Williams, share his expertise. Of all the books I’ve studied on the craft of writing, I’d have to say this one has had the strongest impact. It’s well worth reading and rereading!

What are the writing resources you wouldn’t want to do without? Share in the comments and add "ENTER ME" for a chance to win a hot-off-the-presses autographed copy of Every Tear a Memory, the third installment of my Till We Meet Again historical romance series from Abingdon Press!


The Great War may be over, 
but Joanna Trapp still fights a battle within.

Joanna found adventure in France as a volunteer with the Army Signal Corps, but she still mourns her doughboy sweetheart killed in battle. After her mother’s death, she returns home to Hot Springs, Arkansas, where her work as a hotel switchboard operator proves dull compared to her adventures overseas.

Joanna is surprised by the attention from successful hotel manager Thomas Ballard, whose practical nature starkly contrasts her own spontaneous spirit. Spending time with the affectionate and compassionate Thomas helps her broken heart begin to mend, yet Joanna wonders if she can learn to love someone so different from herself. Will their growing friendship lead to romance? Or will Joanna’s future be forever clouded by grief?


One lucky commenter on today's post 
could win a free enrollment in
"Creating Characters that Come Alive"
Just add "Night Class Entry" to your comment!



Helen Gray said...

Great list, Myra.

The trusty thesaurus is always handy.

Coffee's on!

Marianne Barkman said...

I'm not a writer, so I don't actually have any. But I'd still like a chance to win your newest book. So if possible, please Enter me!

Keli Gwyn said...

That's a great list, Myra. I have the CMOS handy. I create a calendar for the year(s) my story takes place, too. Another resource I make good use of is The Emotion Thesarus. Love it!

I'm going to get that name book you mentioned. It sounds like a great resource.

Virginia Carmichael Munoz said...

Wow, I never knew there was a name book! And I love that date/time one, too. I bet a lot of copyeditors use something like this.
Great list.

Iola Goulton said...

I'll be sure to look up that date/time website. I live in New Zealand, and it can be a real challenge to work out what date and time that 7pm EST webinar will actually be!

I've already read Every Tear a Memory, and I think it's your best yet. My review will go live at Australasian Christian Writers at 5am Sydney time on 23 October ... although that's probably lunchtime on the 22nd where you are. You can check using that website :)

Cindy W. said...

Great post Myra. Right now, the Writer's Brainstorming Kit and a thesaurus are my friends I need to look into the 'time and date' website and create an actual spreadsheet.

The cover of your newest book is beautiful and I would love to win a copy!

Smiles & Blessings,
Cindy W.

countrybear52 AT yahoo DOT com

Debby Giusti said...

Great list, Myra!

A few items are new to me. I'll add them to my references.

I love Donald Maass' WRITING THE BREAKOUT NOVEL WORKSBOOK. I return to it frequently and often refer to it in the local writing class I teach.

Thanks for sharing your favorite 7!

Rose said...

My go to books are:

Write the Perfect Book Proposal by Jeff Herman and Deborah Levine Herman

Writing with Emotion, Tension & Conflict by Cheryl St. John

Heroes & Heroines by Tami Cowden, Caro LaFever and Sue Viders

kaybee said...

EW, I don't have a lot of books right now. My number-one resources are Seekerville and my crit partner. I have lots of Seekerville and other site posts which I've printed out and saved in a notebook, but not a lot on the shelves, mostly because I don't have shelves, they are crammed with my husband's books.
The METHODS I use are Snowflake, Jill's Deep POV workshop materials, The Story Template by Amy Dearden, and right now I'm reading "Save the Cat" by Blake Snyder. This is something I probably need to improve on...When I have a question, like with a name or something, I usually Google or ask another writer.
MYRA, did you just out yourself as Grammar Queen?
Would love to win the new book.
Kathy Bailey
Back from vac. in NH

Jackie said...

Hi Myra,

I love your list. The Emotion Thesaurus is in easy reach of my desk.

I print of calender sheets, but I never heard of you site. I'll have to check it out.

Thanks for sharing.

Rebecca said...

These resources are great! I have updated my wish list on Amazon.

Jennifer Smith said...

I'm going to have to look up some of these books. The only one I have is the Chicago Manual of Style! I keep seeing The Moral Premise come up in Tina's class -- need to get that one.

I enjoy my Writer's Digest books on Plot, Character, Description & Setting, and so on...Enter me! :)

Missy Tippens said...

Myra, this is so helpful! You've mentioned some that I''m not familiar with. I'm also really interested in the Writer's Brainstorming Kit. I almost bought it when you mentioned it before. I think I will for sure this time. :)

Thanks also for the character naming recommendation. As well as Bartleby.com!

Jill Weatherholt said...

And I thought I had every writing book...I've never seen The Writer’s Digest Character-Naming Sourcebook.
I'll definitely check that out, Myra.
I love The Emotion Thesaurus as well as the Negative and Positive Trait Thesaurus, they're great!
I'd love to be entered.

Myra Johnson said...

Good morning, Seekerville! HELEN, thanks for brewing the midnight coffee to start the day!

Yes, I love my thesaurus, too. I usually start with the one on my Mac, and if it doesn't give me the word choices I need, I move on to hard copy versions--and I have several varieties!

Myra Johnson said...

MARIANNE, readers are always welcome in Seekerville! Happy to enter you in the drawing for my new book!

Myra Johnson said...

KELI, I have The Emotion Thesaurus on my Mac Kindle so I can open it easily while I'm working. I've found it very useful. Thanks for the reminder!

Julie Lessman said...

Oh, MYRA ... what a list, my friend ... WOW!!

This is a definite keeper post because several of your favorite books/websites pretty much blew me away. For instance, Google Maps. DUH!!

I have been scouring the internet for pics/maps of Isle of Hope and finding nothing but slim pickin's, so THANK YOU!! And again ... DUH!

AND Time and Date website??? WOW!!!

Sure glad you did this post today, my friend, because I learned A LOT!


Myra Johnson said...

VIRGINIA, I especially like the Character-Naming Sourcebook because of all the ethnicities it includes.

And the date/time website is invaluable! I just wish there was an easy way to automatically populate an Excel calendar with the exact months and days of the week I need. Right now, I'm doing it manually, and it's tiresome. If anyone has a better system, PLEASE share!

Sandra Leesmith said...

Great post Myra, and as Tina said the other day: if you hear it twice, that is confirmation.

I was just thinking this morning that I need to read Moral Premise. I started it a couple times, but couldn't get into it. I think I'm ready now. yeah

I'm delighted to see I have most of the others.

Thanks for sharing. And congrats again for being a Maggie finalist. I love your books.

Myra Johnson said...

IOLA, thank you so much for reading Every Tear a Memory! I will definitely be watching for your review!

I agree--the date/time website is handy for all kinds of reasons. I have family members overseas and it's helpful for figuring out exactly what time it is where they are.

Myra Johnson said...

CINDY, I need to pull out my Brainstorming Kit cards again soon and see what ideas pop up for my next project.

Thanks--I love what Abingdon has done with the covers of all the books in this series!

Myra Johnson said...

DEBBY, I have Maass's workbook but haven't put it to the best use yet. Must pull it out again one of these days for a refresher!

Tracey Hagwood said...

Hi Myra,
A question: I know Every Tear a Memory is the third book in the series, can this book be read as a stand alone, or is it neccessary to be read in order?

ENTER ME! Thanks for the chance to check this series out.

Myra Johnson said...

ROSE, thanks for sharing these reference titles! It's especially helpful to find good instruction on how to put together a book proposal. Those can be so intimidating!

Tracey Hagwood said...

Forgot to mention, I love the cover of your book, so beautiful, it makes you want to open it and discover what's happening inside, what a good cover should do!

Myra Johnson said...

KATHY, alas, you have discovered my alter-ego. ;-D

Although I thought everybody had me pegged as GQ by now! I can't go anywhere without her!

So glad you have found lots of helpful writing tips right here in Seekerville! I recently attended a workshop on Save the Cat--heard of it but never read the books. Very interesting, and I can see how the system could be very useful. It's a little too "plotter-ish" for me, but there are certain aspects I could definitely find helpful.

Dora Hiers said...

Great list, Myra. I've never heard of Bartleby.com. I'll have to check that out. Definitely couldn't do without Google Maps. A thesaurus is probably a close second. Please ENTER ME for Every Tear a Memory. :)

Myra Johnson said...

JACKIE, I think you'll have lots of fun exploring the time/date website! There are so many ways it can be used.

Myra Johnson said...

REBECCA, good idea--get those books on your Wish List in time for Christmas! ;-D

Myra Johnson said...

JENNIFER, yes, I highly recommend that you read The Moral Premise. It will change the way you look at every novel, movie, and TV show!

Myra Johnson said...

MISSY, I love the Brainstorming Kit! You'd have fun with it!

Myra Johnson said...

JILL, I hadn't heard of the Negative and Positive Trait Thesaurus. That sounds interesting. Tell us more about how you use it!

Myra Johnson said...

JULIE! Seriously, you've never thought about looking up location images on Google Maps??? It's almost scary what you can find on there these days!

Myra Johnson said...

SANDRA, yes, it's time to pry open your Moral Premise book and give it another shot. I agree, it's kind of heavy reading at times, but I have so many passages highlighted in yellow that really jumped out at me!

Myra Johnson said...

TRACEY, each book in the series can stand on its own. There are recurring characters, and supporting characters in one book become the H/H in the next, etc. So you'd know a little more about their history if you started from book 1, but you don't have to.

Myra Johnson said...

Hey, DORA!!! Thanks for stopping in today! Can't wait to begin our "Creating Characters that Come Alive" Seekerville Night Class with you next month!

Pam Hillman said...

Thanks for this list, Myra! I used my brainstorming kit last week. I've learned to pick the cards, jot down the answers that interest me, then run away with the plot.

I ended up not using the exact character and plot from the cards, but they started the "what if" that I ended up with. :)

Myra Johnson said...

PAM, that's exactly right--the cards are a quick and effective way to jump-start the creative process! I may not use the exact idea the cards and descriptions turn up, but they do help me think in new directions I might not otherwise have considered.

Donna said...

Myra, I love this list! I have wanted The Writers Brainstorming Kit since you wrote about it last time. Maybe one day! Bartleby looks great as well as the WD Character-Naming Sourcebook.

I use The Emotion Thesaurus a lot as well as the Negative and Positive Traits Thesaurus.

Night class entry and book entry please!

Myra Johnson said...

DONNA, you're entered in both drawings--thanks!

The nice thing about the Bartleby resource is it's free online! There are lots of online name resources, too, and I have often used one I like for surnames: http://surnames.behindthename.com/

If I were to recommend one book to spend money on, it would be the Brainstorming Kit.

Tina Radcliffe said...

Looking forward to the class, Myra. I am signing up!

Tina Radcliffe said...

I use the Chicago Manual online.


I'm sure my editors at LI and my indie copy editor Naomi Rawlings will insist I don't use it at all, but I really do.

Tina Radcliffe said...

Thesaurus.com, Helen.


Myra Johnson said...

Yay, TINA! Looking forward to having you in our class!

And online resources are the best. I never have to depart from my computer screen to juggle a heavy book! I do look up what I can at CMOS online, but I don't have the paid version so if I can't find it there, I resort to my 15th edition hard copy.

Leola Ogle said...

As always, Seekerville is delightful and informative. I'm going to pick up a couple of the books Myra mentioned. I already have a couple of them. God bless.



Myra Johnson said...

You're in, LEOLA! Thanks for stopping in today!

It's fun sharing writing resources. I always learn about some new ones I hadn't come across before.

kaybee said...

MYRA, yeah, I know. I need something plotter-ish, otherwise I just kind of mush around. I think I am going to invest in a Donald Maas book after everything I heard this morning.
I am happy about your new book and looking forward to it. Thomas (the hero) deserves a break!

CatMom said...

Great list, Myra - - thank you for sharing with us! :)
I was going to mention The Emotion Thesaurus (which I won here on Seekerville and LOVE!!) and I see several others have already mentioned it.
I still need to get the Donald Maass book---I must be the only writer who hasn't read that, LOL.
Congratulations on your newest book, and I cannot wait to read it. As you already know, I've loved ALL of your books, and look forward to adding to my "Myra Johnson Shelf" (which means I do hope you'll keep writing for many, many more years!) :)
Hugs, Patti Jo

Myra Johnson said...

KB, it was fun giving Thomas his own story! I felt so sorry for him always being in Gilbert's shadow. ;-D

Janet Kerr said...

This is a fine list of writing resources. Thank you for putting them together.
I would be very interested in the class "Night Class Entry"

Myra Johnson said...

PATTI JO, you are so sweet! You know, I should just turn my writing resource shelf into a lending library. Heaven knows I've got enough books to start my own library! I may never look at most of them again, but I just like knowing they're there in case I need them.

Myra Johnson said...

JANET K, thanks for visiting! We like to think Seekerville is THE place to find all kinds of writing advice!

Janet Dean said...

Impressive list, Myra! Thanks for the great resource suggestions.

I have The Moral Premise. Normally I love How To books, but this one was hard for me to get through. I will give it another try.

Love the Time and Date site! Now if only Google Maps could go back in time. :-)

Looking forward to reading Every Tear a Memory!


Myra Johnson said...

Ooooh, wouldn't that be cool, JANET, if Google Maps would go back in time? I was wishing that while working on my Oregon Trail novella.

I totally understand that the MP book was a little hard to get into. It's deep. But there's so much to learn from it!

Jan Drexler said...

I'd love it if Google Maps could go back in time, too! But at least my WIP takes place in a time when people did take photos of my location!

You have some great resources, Myra! I'm on my second time through The Moral Premise, and The Emotion Thesaurus has a spot right next to my desk at all times. And Writing the Breakout Novel is fantastic.

I recommend all three of those to whoever asks.

I also recommend (and loan out my copy) of GMC by Debra Dixon. Especially for beginning writers.

That time/date website is one I use all the time, too. Like Keli Gwyn, I print out the months when my story is set. Then I know when the full moons are, when holidays are, and I can keep track of the passage of time in my story. I've found it helps to write the story events right on the calendar, along with the chapter and scene number. It comes in very handy when I want to make sure my character actually has enough time to travel from point A to point B between scenes :)

Please put me in the drawing for Every Tear a Memory!

Myra Johnson said...

Hi, JAN! Yes, GMC is another great resource. It was one I studied often when I was first learning the craft of writing. I used to be fanatical about making GMC charts for all my major characters. I don't make the charts like I used to, but I always have the characters' GMC in mind as I write.

Sandy Smith said...

Great post, Myra, with good suggestions. I have a bookshelf full of Writer's Digest books but they are mostly unread. I just looked at my shelf to see what I have and discovered I have the Character Naming Sourcebook and didn't realize it. I also have a book called A Writer's Guide to Places that lists many cities and tells what a character who lives there would know and think about. Another book I really like is The New York Public Library Book of Chronologies. It has lists of all kinds of things. So if you need to know who won the World Series in 1982, it's there.

An online resource for names that I enjoy is babynames.com/voyager. On this website you can type in a name to see when it was most used. It will bring up a graph that shows its ranking by each decade. If the name was never a top 1000 name it won't be there, but it is fun to use.

Please Enter Me into the drawing for your book, Myra.

Myra Johnson said...

SANDY, thanks for the great suggestions! A Writer's Guide to Places sounds really useful--AND--you reminded me it's sitting on MY bookshelf! Must pull it out and take a closer look!

The Book of Chronologies sounds fascinating, too. Writing historicals, I sometimes look for info just like you said--who won the World Series in the year my story takes place. Usually I search for those facts online, but some things can be hard to dig up.

Sandy Smith said...

With any book, you do have to be careful and still double check facts as I have discovered some errors in that chronologies book. But having lists of things to look at can be useful.

DebH said...

wow! uber cool post Myra. I tend to look through Seekerville archives and online thesarus and naming websites. I need to read some of the books you've mentioned - although during grad school I read STORY by Robert McKee. Had to use that for film script writing and such.

night class entry and book entry please.

As a graphic artist, I have to say your book covers give me happy shivers every time I see them. They are so AWESOME!

Shanda said...

I enjoy knowing what successful authors keep on hand as go-to resources. Thanks for the list. I especially need the maps and the timeline ideas. :) And who couldn't use another craft book? Thanks.
Night Class Entry
Enter me

Myra Johnson said...

Good point about double-checking facts, SANDY!

Myra Johnson said...

DEB H, thank you! I have been so pleased with my Abingdon covers! I think if I weren't a writer, I'd like to be a graphic designer. I can really fritter away a lot of time playing around in Photoshop Elements and PrintShop.

Myra Johnson said...

SHANDA, I wish you could see my craft bookshelves! They are overflowing. But if I've gleaned one truly helpful tip from any of them, it's worth the money I spent. The subject matter may be similar, but sometimes a different way of presenting the topic can suddenly turn on a light bulb.

Wilani Wahl said...

Thank you for this list. I am keeping it handy. I was wanting to take the class in November but it is looking like I won't be able to due to lack of funds so please enter me in the drawing for that.

This is an adventurous day for me with no power for four hours. we are under a tornado watch and having severe thunder storms today. I hope everyone stays safe where you are.

As soon as I get caught up with what I couldn't get done this morning, I hope to get more written on my story.

Jackie Smith said...

Would love to be entered for your book, Myra.....love the cover!
Thanks for the giveaway!

Jana Vanderslice said...

Thank you, Myra! I bookmarked all your sites.

I collect words & love word lists...words to use instead of said, transition words, etc. I wore my words lists out writing my dissertation. Most university writing center websites have free handouts like these. Here's a link to DBU's

MC--Hope your mom is doing better!

Please enter me into the book drawing & the class drawing! Thank you!!

Jana Vanderslice said...

**Helpful HINT**
MSWord has a built in Thesaurus:
Highlight the word

Easy. No need to go to the internet. :)

Myra Johnson said...

WILANI, we've been under a tornado warning here in NC, too, but so far the sun is still shining. Sorry for the storms and your power outage! I have two early-warning systems curled up at my feet right now. They will cower and whine at the first distant rumbles of thunder.

Myra Johnson said...

JACKIE, thanks for stopping in! I love my book cover, too! ;-D

Mary Hicks said...

Myra, thanks for the reference materials. Have the 16th edition The Chicago Manual of Style. But none of the others.

And I thought I had them all!! :-)

Myra Johnson said...

Thanks for the link, JANA! I bookmarked it and plan to check it out more thoroughly as soon as possible!

I do use the built-in thesaurus when I'm working in Word, but even better, I like the one that comes with my Mac. I write in Scrivener, so it pops right up whenever I need it.

Myra Johnson said...

MARY HICKS, there are always more craft books out there to discover! :)

Jamie Adams said...

Great list, Myra! I'm going to check out the character naming book. I have a hard time creating new names.

"Night Class Entry"

Myra Johnson said...

Hi, JAMIE! You'll have fun with the name book. I love it!

Stephanie Queen Ludwig said...

Hi Myra! Those books all sound great, especially the Reader's Digest naming tool. I admit to spending WAY too much time choosing character names, but I think it is so much fun.

I admit, I'm not much for reading craft books, which is something I've decided to work on. Working my way through Stephen King's "On Writing," which has been highly recommended to me by many. Oh, and I still have my White and Strunk style guide, and every journalist's bible, the AP style guide as well, from my college days.

I'd love to win your book and be entered in to the Night Class! I realize that I'm pretty decent at creating supporting characters, but main characters could use some more dimension.

Have a wonderful day!

Myra Johnson said...

Hi, STEPHANIE! I enjoyed Stephen King's book. And I also have an ancient copy of Strunk and White.

Yes, it's fun (and often a challenge!) coming up with the perfect names for my characters. I want the name to sound good and also to mean something that fits the character.

Or else I just name a character for one of the Seekers!

Janet Dean said...

Myra, deep just means I need to put on my high tops and plow through!


Myra Johnson said...

You can do it, JANET! Dr. Williams will be so proud!

bonton said...

Thanks for your interesting post, Myra!!

I'm not a writer, however, always enjoy reading about the "in's and out's" of writing. And I'm sure there's a couple of sources on your list that I can use, also.


Meghan Carver said...

Good afternoon, Myra! Love your list. I own The Moral Premise but haven't gotten to it yet. I've heard so many wonderful things about it, and you've urged me to dust it off and plow through. I remember your post about the brainstorming kit. I think I'll move it to the top of my wish list. Thank you so much for these suggestions, and please enter me for the night enrollment class.

Myra Johnson said...

BONTON, thank you for visiting with us today! I know I'd like to have CMOS around for any kind of writing or correspondence. (Of course, living with Grammar Queen, she'd insist upon it--LOL!) Can't go anywhere without Google Maps, either. So glad it's now an iPhone app!

Myra Johnson said...

MEGHAN, there's a lot to absorb from The Moral Premise, and it's worth the effort. You'll have fun with the Brainstorming Kit, too!

Debby Giusti said...

More good reference sites and books. Such a wealth of information today.

Thanks, Myra!

Wilani, sorry about your loss of power. We're had storms...but we're okay for now.

Myra Johnson said...

You're welcome, DEBBY! Sure was fun being with you at M&M last weekend! We were expecting storms here today, but so far . . . nothing. It's just now beginning to look a little overcast. Really scary stuff plowing through the South since yesterday!

Janet Ferguson said...

I've read Rivet Your Readers with Deep Point of View 3 times. I keep Margie Lawson's lectures on visceral reactions in a folder on my desktop. I watched the videos by Hauge/Vogler. But I read Seekerville every day, and many times punch a topic into your search box! Most of the time I can find an answer there for myself or a crit partner. Y'all are an awesome resource! I can always use another book or night class. Never stop learning! I need to check the books on your list, too!

Myra Johnson said...

JANET F, you named some great resources! I'll never forget the Hauge workshop I attended at an RWA conference a few years ago. Also have the DVDs. Margie Lawson is awesome, too! I've taken two or three of her classes online. Good stuff!

Glad you're also finding lots of help here in Seekerville! We aim to please!

Lady_in_waiting said...

I am still in the process of learning how to be a writer. So I am glad to learn anything to assist in my writing process.

Enter Me!!

Night class Entry!!

Myra Johnson said...

Hi, LADY-IN-WAITING! If you want to learn about the craft of writing, you're in the right place! Glad you could stop by today!

Anna Weaver Hurtt said...

Great list, Myra! Writing with Emotion, Tension & Conflict by Cheryl St. John has been really helpful to me lately. Please drop my name in the hat for both giveaways. :)

Susan Anne Mason said...

Great list, Myra! Some new ones for me to check out!

I'd love to be in the drawing for any of the prizes!

I am loving this birthday month!


Myra Johnson said...

ANNA, I've heard many good things about Cheryl St. John's book. One of these days I hope to take a look.

So many resources . . . so little time. [sigh]

Myra Johnson said...

Aren't we having fun, SUE? Seekers love to party!

Glad you enjoyed looking over my list!

Becke said...

I love reference books right up there with shopping at the office supply! Good grief, that's almost sad. Anyway, I'm taking notes to add to my shelves.

One of my favorites is Scene and Structure: Brickham

Myra Johnson said...

Hi, BECKE! I have the Jack Bickham book, too! He was a protege of Dwight Swain, another favorite of mine.

Don't you just love the smell of an office supply store? It's almost sad that I hardly need to go there anymore. Gone are the days of printing off pages and pages of manuscripts and having to mail everything in big manilla envelopes!

Lyndee H said...

Some good resources, Myra. Not all of them sink into my brain, but I own most and keep trying to figure them out, lol.

Please enter me in your book drawing. I'll pass on the class. I'm a bad student.

TINA can confirm that.

Lyndee slinks back to her dark hole and pretends to edit...

Myra Johnson said...

Uh-oh, LYNDEE! Did you act up in Tina's class? She can be pretty strict--just ask any Seeker! We have learned to just nod and obey.

Ruth Logan Herne said...

I'm late today and laughing at Lyndee's comment about being a bad student!!!!


Myra, I'm just so stinkin' impressed that not only do you own these books....

AND that you've read them.....

But mostly that you can FIND THEM.

I'm going to SLINK OFF with my buddy Lyndee because I am a bad student as well.

And honestly, if I had them and could find them, I um....


Would be using them to hold up uneven legs of an old table. Or chair.

I'm that lame.

Tanya Agler said...

Myra, Thank you for your go-to writer's reference book lists.

In my backpack, I carry around The Emotional Thesaurus and the notes from Tina Radcliffe's amazing class.

Two of my favorite books about writing have been Stephen King's On Writing and Debra Dixon's GMC.

I'm reading Self Editing for Writers by Renni Browne and Dave King now (well, not at this exact minute, :) ).

It was lovely to meet you at the M&M Conference. Have a great writing week.

Please enter me in the book and class drawings. Thank you.

Myra Johnson said...

Well, RUTHY, you have made it abundantly clear how you feel toward craft books. But who can argue with success? You could write your own book on writing technique. Except then you might have to actually read it!

Myra Johnson said...

Loved meeting you at M&M too, TANYA! Congratulations on your Maggie final! BTW, the self-editing book is another of my favorites!

The Artist Librarian said...

It's probably not relevant to most authors here, but my favorite writing resource is online: http://bcs.bedfordstmartins.com/resdoc5e/index.htm

I'm always forgetting how to cite things for papers and there are many different citation formats. =)

I never thought of using google maps that way --very awesome (I also like the Time and Date site)!

Thanks for the chance to win --glad to see so much WWI books out now!

Terri said...

I've got to read The Moral Premise. I hear so much about that. I love seeing what craft books click with various people.

Joan said...

I am going to buy the moral premise. I keep the ap guide by my desk since I'm also a journalist. Love the suggestion of barrel by to help title making.
Night class entry
And also please enter me for the ww one novel
Thank you!

jubileewriter said...

I have at least a dozen writerly books on my shelf. Your list gave me more to explore. I found The Writer's Guide to Everyday life in the 1800s and The Writer's Guide to Life in the Wild West great resources for historicals. And I love The Emotional Thesaurus as well as Negative Character Traits Thesaurus and Positive Character Trait Thesaurus. Enter me in for the Night class.
Cindy Huff

Kelly Bridgewater said...

"Enter me" and "Night class entry". Thank you, Myra for a great list of resources. I have owned "The Moral Premise" for a while but have never gotten around to reading it. I should make it more of a priority. Thanks!

Stanley D. Williams said...

Hello Seekers...thanks for the call out, Myra. Now, to the rest of you who have had trouble getting into The Moral Premise...please send me your questions about where you're getting hung up. Maybe I can help. Then, again maybe I can't, but I can try. The concept is roll-over simple: vice leads to bad stuff, virtue leads to good stuff. But the application in all its elegance is as sophisticated as you want. It's like any good sentence in your novels: "His frame was handsome but his personality was despicable." That is, The Moral Premise allows you to structure your story at its deepest levels with built in dramatic irony and moral conflict which organically drives the outward action. So, write me and I'll do what I can to help via my blog. stan@moralpremise.com

Myra Johnson said...

Hi, ARTIST LIBRARIAN! Thanks for sharing the link.

I agree--the WWI era is truly fascinating. I don't grasp nearly as much about world history and the events leading up to the war as I'd like to, but the personal stories of those involved really gripped me.

Myra Johnson said...

TERRI, I'm always interested in which craft books, workshops, etc., other writers have found helpful. You never know when a particular way of presenting a topic is going to click with you.

Myra Johnson said...

JOAN, glad you found some helpful tips here! I do highly recommend The Moral Premise!

Myra Johnson said...

CINDY, others have mentioned the Negative and Positive Traits thesaurus. That's one I'm going to have to look up. Thanks for popping in!

Myra Johnson said...

KELLY, yes, you need to dig into The Moral Premise! It's an eye-opener!

Myra Johnson said...

STAN!!!! Thanks so much for stopping by! As you well know, the Seekers are big fans of yours--and of your book!

Everybody, do check out Stan's blog. It's jam-packed with great info!

Terri Wangard said...

I've bookmarked two websites--Behind the Name, History of Surnames and Behind the Name, Meaning of First Names -- for help in naming characters.
Night Class Entry

Myra Johnson said...

TERRI, those "behind the name" websites are really helpful, especially when I want to be sure the name matches something about the character's background or personality.

May the K9 Spy (and KC Frantzen) said...

Excellent info, Myra.
And how did I just NOW find out that you are the GQ?! Gotta love it!

One of the musts recommended by my editor is Scene and Structure by Bickham. Outstanding, especially when you remember to use what you learned. ;)

Please enter me, though I'm just blessed to be part of this great community! Thank you one and all!

Jill Weatherholt said...

Sorry for the delayed response, Myra. Both the positive and negative trait thesaurus bring depth to your characters without relying on clichés. Just browsing through the books provides a great way to brainstorm. Check them out, you won't be disappointed!

Mary Curry said...

These are such great resources, Myra. I really need to get myself reading The Moral Premise. One of my favorite points in plotting is figuring out what spiritual message I want my characters to learn.

Count me in for any drawings!

Walt Mussell said...

I have the Writer's Digest Desk Reference, which I think is great. (Also, when I still can't figure it out, I've been known to e-mail a certain friend of Seekerville and ask. I won't say her name as I don't want her inundated.

I'm marking the name book and the brainstorming kit.

I am firm believer in Excel spreadsheets. For my historicals, I go back in time and check things like phase of the moon and sunrise and sunset.

Yes, please enter me.

Myra Johnson said...

Hi, KC! Wow, I didn't realize GQ's true identity would come as such a surprise--LOL!

Yes, Bickham's book is a good one. I like both him and Dwight Swain.

Myra Johnson said...

Thanks, JILL! I'm going to have to check out that traits resource!

Myra Johnson said...

MARY C, I think you'll really get into The Moral Premise once you start reading it. The spiritual message is certainly one big aspect as you start figuring out your story's MP.

Myra Johnson said...

Hi, WALT! Congratulations again on your Maggie final! It was so fun to see you at M&M!

I like spreadsheets, too, but not nearly as much as PAM!!!

Amber Schamel said...

I've been a quiet observer because I've been running around like a chicken with my head cut off getting ready for the launch of my book, and editing another, but I had to stop by and comment on this post.

THANKS for sharing these resources! I have some of them, but a few are new. VERY HELPFUL.

Also, please enter me in the NIGHT CLASS drawing. :D

Amber Schamel
visionwriter2 at gmail.com

Myra Johnson said...

Congratulations, AMBER! What an exciting time!

Glad you found some helpful resources new in my post this week!