Sunday, December 15, 2013

A Click Away

These days, with the Internet in almost every home, office, school, and public area, researching material for books is but a keyboard and mouse click away. Granted, there is nothing more fulfilling (experience-wise) than trekking out on your own and discovering treasures for yourself. I have nothing against that, and I've done it on occasion. But let’s face it, we live in a modern world now, and conveniences have made seeking information that much easier, and cheaper too. How many times have you Googled something with your mobile phone instead of grabbing the nearest dictionary (I honestly can't remember where I put my copy).

Don't get me wrong, sometimes, a good face-to-face encounter beats scrolling through information and clicking away to no avail. But, let's face it, the age of internet has made us all a little impersonal and distant, and lazy. I know that without it, I'll be lost!

So, what prompted me to write this post? Considering I already had one lined up and ready, just today, I came across this post in my Facebook timeline. I thought, “How perfect!” And so true! It's a short blog about personalities and how helpful it would be to writers.

After reading that post, I realized that I clicked 'bookmark' and put it in my special folder reserved for ‘Book Stuff.’ Then I saw all the other stuff I bookmarked, and it went from there.

Why, just the other day, I found use of the trusty (at times) and very handy Google Maps. I needed to do some research on street names in Vancouver (and I live way out here in Barbados). I could zoom in and see the street level detail, angle it, twist it…you name it. Everything possible without ever having set foot there. To back up my research, I consulted a friend (via email – there’s that internet assistance again!) who used to live there and he helped out giving the street names and area some credibility.

In the past, I’ve found immeasurable help just trolling through places like Wikipedia, and Googling things, because somewhere, somehow, someone has been kind enough to post something up about anything you can think of. On one occasion, I conjured up a name for a WIP I was working on. I then Googled the word to see if it was indeed an actual word – just in case (don’t want to go offending people or infringing on copyrights). Turns out it was; a Polynesian word for a term used while sailing, or something maritime-ish. So, I conjured up another word and used that. Googling names and searching through Amazon’s book title lists has also been helpful, in that you don’t go titling your book the same name as the rest of the gazillions out there.

Then I saw another post I bookmarked that helps out with some bogus grammar errors:

And then, I remembered something else! A place I troll regularly when I’m stumped with naming a character.

Oh, there’s more! I once had use of a book tweeting service ( and I have to say, very handy. They did all the tweeting (and I retweeted their tweets, and then they retweeted the tweets I retweeted…i.e.: more tweets, more coverage) and I never left home! Come to think of it. Researching and resourcing from the comfort of your home is ideal for a writer (especially me, who really would prefer not to interact socially).

The list is endless. There is just so many sites online that offer a wide variety of resources and research material that will make a writer feel as if they’ve gone into a candy store (okay, a library, then…with candy).  If I were to physically march down to a library, or a public records building, or knock on NASA’s door with a question about space travel, I honestly don’t know how I’ll ever find the time or energy to write – especially since I live far, far away, and travelling would eventually be an expensive hindrance.

But wait, there’s one more. There’s even a site that will convert those pesky files into ANY format you desire:  How cool is that!



Big Mike said...

Here's a suggestion. I went through the same "discovery" process and decided to share by creating a link page that highlighted amazing and helpful sites. It's one of the more frequently visited pages. Even had a teacher in CA email and thank me for her students that used it for references related to writing books. Now that's cool.

Michael Davis (
Author of the Year (2008 and 2009)
Award of Excellence (2012)

T.K. Toppin said...

That's is cool! Good idea. I may do that.