Boston in the late 1880s

When I read – and write – books, I love historical trivia. For me, it makes the story richer.

So, since my first “Love at Sea” book, The Earl’s Engagement, starts in Boston, Massachusetts, I wanted to make sure my city details were accurate. (Growing up in the Boston area, I was familiar with the modern streets of Boston… but not so sure what they were like, or even named, in earlier times.)

The first surprise was how little downtown Boston has changed in over a century. Here’s a map from 1885.

Boston Massachusetts 1885

So, when my hero and heroine were in Boston, most of the street names were the same as they are now. That made it easier for me to understand what kinds of businesses were in Boston… and where.

In my research, I learned that Filene’s department store opened in 1881 at 10 Winter Street in Boston.

And, by 1883, a sort-of circus (described as “sideshow freaks”) opened at 585 Washington Street. It was called Keith & Batchelder’s Dime Museum.

On the second floor, over their museum, the men created a vaudeville theatre. It opened daily at 10 AM and usually presented eight shows per day.

That theatre was run by Edward F. Albee II, whose grandson was noted playwright Edward Albee, famous for plays such as Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? and The Sandbox.

Then, when I researched pawnbrokers, I learned that the word was in use in that era, but some pawn shops were part of “collateral loan” institutions. (See the ad in the upper right corner of the following illustration.)

Collateral loans pawnshops

All of this makes writing historical fiction fascinating, and I hope my readers enjoy this trivia – and accuracy – as much as I do.

Love at Sea – Book 1, in progress

I posted this when I was working on my first “Love at Sea” romance, now available at Amazon.

I’m working on The Earl’s Engagement, the first book in my “Love at Sea” series.

Here’s my description:

A ship, a dilemma, and a dangerously attractive faux fiance

The Earl's EngagementLady Anne Travers’ family fortune has been lost to a bad investment. Ruin seems inevitable. So, she needs to win back wealthy Lord Owen Phipps, the cheating fiance she recently spurned.

When she hires handsome actor Michael Edgerton to play her faux fiance and make Owen jealous, sparks fly and nothing goes as planned.

As Anne, Michael, Owen, and Owen’s new fiancee sail back to England on the S.S. Oceanic, almost anything can happen… and it does.

Can Anne prevent financial disaster without compromising her own future happiness?

This is a short, sweet, Victorian romance set aboard a luxurious ocean liner.

You’ll find this book at Amazon, and it’s free to read in Kindle Unlimited.

Click here to read this book in Kindle

 

Romance Writing – Useful Links

Resources for writing romancesThe following links can be useful for all romance subgenres, and stories that include romance elements.

(I’ll expand this as time permits. Meanwhile, follow the links on those pages. It can be a rather deep rabbit hole, but worth your time.)

Beat Sheets

Tropes

People

Regencies – Research Resources

General Information and Research Resources

Exceptionally Useful

Research resources for Regency romance authorsThe Republic of Pemberley – One of the largest and most respected of its kind.

The 18th-Century Common – Tremendous information, plus links to sites like What Jane Saw.

English Historical Fiction Authors – Regency topics – some duplication at Random Bits of Fascination – key topics for regency romance authors.

General Regency Resource Lists, Mostly Links

Kristen Koster’s Regency Resources

Jane Austen’s World links – A long and wonderful list, of varying use to authors.

Regency Era Research, by Michele Sinclair

Research Resources for Various Regency Topics

Nancy Regency Researcher

Victoriana magazine – Regency Era – Includes gloriously illustrated articles about fashions, transport, gardens, and more.

The Regency Reference Book, by Emily Hendrickson – Parts of the Thesaurus and the Introduction are online. (Buy your copy here.)

Pinterest: Everything Regency England, by Nancy S. Goodman.

All Things Georgian – Superb scans & photos for a visual understanding of the time.

The Duchess of Devonshire’s Gossip Guide to the 18th Century – Despite the name, it also includes Regency insights.

The Regency Redingote – Excellent for researching trivia of the period.

Slang (1823 book) – Great words, phrases, and their definitions, including insights about Regency culture.

Daily Life in Regency Times

Titles (how to address people)

See my article, Regency Titles and Inheritance for a list of resources.

Or, if all you need is a quick reference, see Regency Manor – Terms of Address [PDF]

Culture, Speech, Manners, Social Life

Social Customs During (Jane Austen’s World)

Instances of ILL MANNERS, to be avoided…

A Review of the State of (London) Society in 1807 and much more at Lesley-Anne McLeod’s site.

Austen Thesaurus – A few good words can go a very long way.

A Jane Austen Encyclopedia – Several pages with great illustrations, at Google Books.

Clothing

Jessamyn’s Regency Costume Companion

19th Century Fashions – 1800 – 1820 (at the moment, only available at the Wayback Machine)

Pinterest: Regency Sheer OverdressRegency ClothesRegency Era FashionsRegency Black Dress (mourning, etc.) – 1810s EveningsAbiti d’epoca (1800 – 1815)Men’s Regency Fashions

Jane Austen’s World – Regency Fashions: The Muslin and Net Period – Illustrated article with myriad, useful links.

Beauty and Personal Care

Regency Ramble: Regency Beauty – Includes recipe for “red lip pomade” (butter, wax, currants, and alkanna tictoria).

Downstairs

Mrs. Beeton’s books were from the Victorian era. Nevertheless, they provide useful insights about housekeeping and cookery.

Character Backgrounds

Titles and Inheritance (legal)

Peerage Basics

Creation and Inheritance of the Peerage (Debrett’s)

Peerage of England (prior to the 1707 Act of Union) – Truly established titles, best for use as peripheral characters.

Peerage of Great Britain (1708 – 1800) – Still quite respectable in the Regency, also best as peripheral characters.

Follow links on that Great Britain page to topics such as the complete list of marquessates. For foreign dignitaries & titles, see the Lists of nobility

UK peerage creations: 1801 – 2009 – A massive, alphabetical list of titles and dates. Especially useful for fictional characters, by altering letters in the name, or creating a mash-up of two or more.

Also see my repost of Jo Beverley’s Regency Titles and Inheritance. (Jo was one of the funniest Regency writers, ever. And one of the brightest. I always looked forward to RWA conferences when I knew she’d be there. Read some of her Regencies, and you’ll see why.)

English Lordships & Baronies [Wayback Machine]- Clarifying some often-misunderstood details. Includes this point, “…these titles are legal and enforced with the courts of the United Kingdom because they were not peerage, but tied to property law.”

Myth busting: inheritance laws in the Regency Era

The Regency Estate: How it was apportioned – Great resource if you want to know what was typical, when the titled/moneyed ancestor passed on.

Feudal Baronies and Manorial Lordships – Basically, Scottish v. English Baronies, explained within history. [PDF]

For place names (to use in titles), see my Places list, below.

Money and Income

Historical Context of Pride and Prejudice – Darcy’s income of “10,000 a year” was probably between $300k and $800k/year.

People with Secrets

AustenProse – Regency Spies: Secret Histories… , ideal for adding some dash and intrigue to your characters or plots.

Servants and Staff

Victorian London – Professions – Housemaids – One of many useful pages at that site. The early Victorian era had much in common with Regency times. However, some of the most iconic “Victorian Era” years were well after the Regency; in terms of imagery, many people think in “Victorian” means the 1880s and 90s.

Places in Regency England

Locations (real and imaginary)

The DiCamillo Companion – See real country houses in England and Ireland.

Jane Austen Places – Photos of actual locations, so you can create authentic descriptions.

English village name generator – Useful for creating placenames and titles.

List of generic forms in place names (Wikipedia) – Mix & match portions of names to create a unique location or title, or both.

Domesday Book Online, Place Names – Similar to the Wikipedia list, but by origin

Name generators – Fantasy town name generator (English towns) – English village name generator (points to this link)

Related History

Jane Austen – life & times

Jane Austen Society (UK)

The Jane Austen Centre (Bath, England) – Free membership and useful resources.

Jane Austen’s Hampshire

Four Georges Archives [Wayback Machine] – A few influences on Austen and the Regency world.

For Austen-ish Fiction

A Calendar for Pride and Prejudice – Extensive character, place, and background details that could help a P&P-related story seem plausible. Scroll down to the blocks on coloured backgrounds. (Was at www.jimandellen.org/austen/p&p.calendar.html – site listed as dangerous/hacked in Nov 2017)

More calendars at that site – Calendars for Jane Austen’s Novels (Was at http://www.jimandellen.org/austen/emcalendars.html – URL listed as dangerous, per Google, in Nov 2017)

Etc

A Jane Austen font, based on her handwriting (free download).

The Jane Austen Manifesto – How we can save the world by writing like Austen – Amusing.

And, a virtual paper doll you can dress and undress. It’s a man. http://savivi.deviantart.com/art/Regency-Hero-Dress-Up-Doll-101669291

Regency Romances – General Resources

Austen Beat Sheets, Themes, Motifs, etc.

Resources for plotting Regency romancesSave the Cat P&P Beat Sheet by Marilyn Brandt. Excellent resource. If it’s not available, the Wayback Machine has a copy.

Flick Chicks’ Pride & Prejudice Beat Sheet

SparkNotes’ Themes, Motifs & Symbols in Pride & Prejudice

Shmoop’s Pride & Prejudice Plot Analysis – Pop culture version; it describes one theme as “Put a Ring on It.” (Err… okay, I guess.)

TROPES

Jane Austen (Click through her list of novels, and click on Characters, etc.) – Regency England (many tropes) – If your hero is actually a daring British spy (against Napoleon), he’s often disguised (in society) as a Dandy.

Romance Novel Plots, especially: Arranged Marriage (often related to Nobility Marries Money), Reformed Rakes, and may include Defrosting Ice Queen (among many other tropes at that site). Altar Diplomacy is one way to start a Regency with marriage, and then they overcome personal differences and fall in love. (Real-life-ish TV equivalent: Married at First Sight.) I might even try a Love Letter Lunacy. Or, a spy-turned-good in a Defecting for Love story.

Ideas for Jane Austen Sequels, Mashups, etc.

What is a Jane Austen Sequel?  and the witty Introduction to Jane Austen Sequels (both from AustenProse)

Non-Historical Beats that CAN Work for regencies

Christine’s master plot (based on Harry Potter novels) – With few exceptions, this parallels a typical Gothic romantic suspense, a classic Gothic romance, and Regencies with some Gothic-style elements of danger.

Examples of Writing Styles

A Matter of Class, by Mary Balogh – Opening pages are stylish and inspiring.

Book Cover Resources

The number one question people ask me – aside from “How can I get published and become fabulously rich and famous?” – is about book covers.

Book cover resourcesThe fact is, book covers can be a make-or-break deal. Generally, the more money you spend, the better your cover will be… and the more books you’ll sell.

That doesn’t mean you should take out your credit card and max it for a gorgeous book cover.

In fact, no one should go deeply in debt for a book cover. Ever.

See, the problem is: book cover styles trend. The cover you buy right now…? In six months, you may see reviewers snarking about your “dated” cover design.  Or worse, they’ll say it looks amateurish.

I know, it’s painful.

If you’re on a limited budget, start with what you can afford, comfortably. Then, when your book is selling well, set aside money for a better/fresher book cover. (Really, for your first year or two, plan to reinvest all of your profits in improvements: better editing, better book covers, better advertising, and so on.)

The following book cover resource recommendations are among my favorites, especially for indie authors on a shoestring. (I first published this list at my /writing site, several years ago, and updated it when I merged sites late in 2018. If you find a broken link or a bad recommendation, let me know.)

First, see what competing book covers look like. Go to Yasiv.com  and type in the genre/category, or a title of a book that’s like yours. Then try another category or book title, similar to yours.

Take notes. See what leaps off the screen as things the most successful books share. Think in terms of colors, fonts, cover layouts, and illustrations.

  • Is everything centered on the cover, or all on one side? Or, is the design sort of a Z or a reverse Z? Or did they get creative and put the text in a circle, half-circle, or wavy line?
  • If there’s an image on the cover, how much space is around it?
  • If people are on the cover, are they looking at each other or looking out from the cover, as if staring at the reader? Do you see their full bodies, head to toe, or just part of them, maybe from the waist up?
  • Where is the author’s name, and how large is it, compared with the lettering in the title and – if there is one – the subtitle?

Then, see the best (and a few not-exactly-best) covers, with notes by Joel Friedlander: The Book Designer: Cover Design Archives. I’m on his mailing list so I never miss his latest advice. I also buy his templates to make my book interiors look far better. (Note: Those aren’t affiliate links. I’m not paid to rave about him… or anyone.)

MOST IMPORTANT: Your cover should assure readers they’ll get the kind of book they expect. If it’s a sci-fi novel, don’t make the cover look like a romance novel, even if you’re including a romantic subplot. If it’s a cozy mystery, avoid blood & gore on the cover.

After you’ve made some decisions about what you’d like on your cover, consider your designer options. They’ll vary with your graphic skills and your budget.

The following list starts at the lowest possible budget, and gradually increases in price.

Book Cover Resources for Indies

1) Make your own. (Free – or free-ish – software: Canva, Gimp, others. Paid: Photoshop, others.) I use Photoshop, but I’ve been working with graphics for decades. (If you make your own, I love the free cover size templates from Bookow.com – https://www.bookow.com/resources.php#createspace-cover-template-generator – I think they’re better than some of CreateSpace’s cover-size templates. Just remember to keep everything 300 dpi and export as a PDF.)

For romance cover photos, many of us use PeriodImages.com (https://www.periodimages.com/-/galleries ) Just keep in mind they’ll sell the same photos, over & over again. So, it’s key to use lots of different elements on your covers, so the “oh, it’s him again” reaction isn’t a problem. Your books must look unique.

For the best fonts by genre, see these resources: http://www.creativindie.com/tag/best-print-fonts/  and  http://inspiredcoverdesigns.com/the-best-fonts-to-use-on-a-book-cover-by-genre/

One of my favorite font cheatsheets is: https://imgur.com/1CdzX60 , but you’ll find lots more online. Just search for something like “font combining.” There are Pinterest boards dedicated to that topic.

For book interiors – important if you’re publishing a printed book – this can be a good cheatsheet: https://dotted-design.com/blog/2017/01/11/current-favorite-google-font-pairings . I love Google’s free fonts.

For even more free fonts you can use legally on your book covers, check out FontSquirrel.com

2) Use KDP’s free cover design software. Pro: Easy to use. Con: Far too easy to turn out a boring cover and not realize it.

3) Hire someone at Fiverr to make a cover for you. I’ve hired “vikncharlie” and really like her work. Friends recommend “germancreative” and “oliviaprodesign.” You can get good covers for $5, but expect to pay at least $25 for a nice, custom cover.

4) Buy a premade cover. I’ve used https://thebookcoverdesigner.com/product-category/premade-book-covers/ Sometimes, they have good deals in the $50-and-less range.

Depending on what you’re writing, lots of friends love: https://www.goonwrite.com/

For those with deep-ish pockets, Damonza gets great reviews – https://damonza.com/predesigned-ebook-covers/

Or, you can get really spendy (worth it, if you’re earning 5-figures/month from your books) with something like https://99designs.com/book-cover-design (At least two friends of mine swear by 99Designs.)

AuthorMarketingClub offers a wide range of prices, from low to high. Click through to see which you like. Some are far better than others.

If you can recommend other resources, let me know. Leave a comment. Thanks!

Writers’ Resources – General

Links & resources for indie authorsThese are resources I recommended to my readers at my previous everything-but-the-kitchen-sink writing website.

The following pages list my favorite links & resources, by topic. (I try to keep them current. Leave a comment if you find anything that’s vanished/broken.)

WRITING

Writing Regencies

Fiverr Gigs I’ve Used & Liked

Fiverr gigs I've liked - but please read their recent reviews!This list is NOT current. In fact, it looks like I created it in 2015.

So, some/most of these links may not work. (And I’ll try to make time to update them. Really.)

Meanwhile, here they are.

BOOK COVERS

vikncharlie is the most reliable cover designer I’ve found at Fiverr. She uses cover graphics that are legal – you won’t get any scary demands for payment from Getty, etc.

Also, though you’ll do fine with her lowest-priced gigs, I usually expect to pay her at least $35 for something spectacular.  (I have no idea how she can work for such low fees.)

MARKETING GIGS

(bknights is always popular. If you can only afford one, one of his/her gigs is usually the best option.)

https://www.fiverr.com/bknights/submit-your-free-kindle-book-to-the-15-best-kindle-promotion-sites

https://www.fiverr.com/tucsonsarah/promote-your-ebook-to-620-uk-kindle-readers

https://www.fiverr.com/cwilgus/promotr-your-kindle-book-link-on-face-book-to-my-page-with-over-5000-fans

https://www.fiverr.com/lovebooks74/promote-your-ebook-to-1k-kindle-readers

https://www.fiverr.com/facebooklikes55/promote-your-kindle-book-on-10000-fb-kindle-readerstweets-and-post-2-review

https://www.fiverr.com/bknights/promote-and-market-your-self-published-kindle-book-to-4800-active-kindle-readers-on-my-facebook-page-during-your-promo-or-marketing-period

https://www.fiverr.com/marketing_ebook/promote-your-kindle-ebook-on-the-kindle-owners-association-community-page-with-close-to-10000-fans-as-its-page-owner-on-facebook

https://www.fiverr.com/dreamtheanswer/guest-host-your-article-promoting-your-book?context=best_match&context_type=rating

https://www.fiverr.com/bookadvertiseme/promote-over-20000-twitter-loyal-followers-on-books-health-fashion-etsy-food

Fiction-y Resources

The following is a l-o-n-g list of fiction-writing resources I’ve liked. I created this list in case I ever lose my bookmarks or my notes. Some links may be broken. (I can either work on my projects or play hall monitor with my links. I choose the former.)

My notebooks

I kept notebooks. Lots of notebooks, filled with advice I know I need to read, over and over again. But, in the past year, I’ve distilled all those printouts down to a few, topic-focused notebooks.

When I kept a bazillion notebooks, here’s what they included.

  • Every article Jim Butcher posted at LiveJournal. Seriously, go get them, print them (on paper, or save them digitally), and re-read them often. His advice is pure gold. (Update: Yes, I still keep every one of those in my curated notebooks.)
  • One of my notebooks included things like articles by Larry Brooks, especially my notes from his tutorials (videos) at Writer’s Digest Tutorials. (Frankly, he speaks better than he writes, at least how-to-write info.) However, I rely less on his advice now, as it’s far too easy to get bogged down figuring word counts and percentages and geeky excuses to procrastinate on finishing the book. Or even the outline. Ahem.
  • That notebook contained other articles by people like Lynn Johnston. I like her advice because it’s solid, but also because she’s very product-oriented. Lynn’s advice is tailored to get you in the chair, writing, as quickly as possible. She’s a very organized, “cut-to-the-chase” person and her advice will kick you into gear in the shortest amount of time.
  • Also, I think Genre Hobo’s 1/1/5 advice is pretty darned good.
  • One of my notebooks still includes printouts from TV Tropes.org. It’s an addiction. Really, don’t even go there unless you have several hours of free time. (I mean it.)
  • Another one is still full of book ideas… mostly my own, but some printed pages that triggered “what if…?” ideas. From Explorator links to “weird science” notes, to things I see mentioned at Kboards and Goodreads, I have lots of ideas to work with in the future. (“Where do you get your ideas?” My answer: Everywhere. And I keep the best ideas in that notebook.)
  • Two more notebooks are for my current books’ sub-genres. They’re my “bibles” and a lot more. One is era-specific. The other is about the sub-sub-genre I’m mixing into my work.
  • I had a notebook that includes several articles from M J Bush’s website WritinGeekery.com. Now, I subscribe to her list and read everything as she posts it. And, when something is pure gold (and timely), I print it and put it in a file that sits on my desk, until her advice becomes a habit for me.
  • I’m also a rabid fan of David Lee Martin. I recommend learning from his productivity advice before you do anything else.

BOOKS – General Fiction

  • Stein on Writing, by Sol Stein – One of the most useful, authoritative books for both nonfiction and fiction authors. If your public library doesn’t own a copy, read them the Riot Act.
  • Techniques of the Selling Writer, by Dwight V. Swain – Complex and loaded with “ah-HA!” moments for novelists and storytellers. If you can buy just one book about writing fiction, this should probably be it.
  • Most how-to-write books by James Scott Bell, but especially Super Structure. Seriously, go get it now. It’s one of the best ways to keep your books from running out of energy, whether you’re a plotter or a pantser. When you’re blinking at your story, wondering why you don’t know what to put in the next scene, that book will help.
  • And any book of writing advice by Chuck Wendig. Yes, he has a potty mouth. (That’s an understatement.) He’s also a genius sharing writing advice need to know, right now. (I may also have a notebook of his blog articles. And a photo taken with him, when he spoke at a local library. And, if there was a tee shirt, I’d probably own it. And get him to sign it.)
  • Also, this book is kind of insanely expensive to buy in print (until he republishes it) but – if you’re a writer and plotting isn’t your strong suit (and you want to read & highlight on paper) – probably worth the money. (I bought my printed copy for $25.) Secrets of Action Screenwriting. Otherwise, especially if you’re writing something with high tension, the Kindle edition is probably fine.
  • If you’re struggling with middle-of-the-book blues and your plot sags in ways no Spanx could ever make sleek and attractive, also grab Martell’s Act Two Secrets. (The Kindle version is good enough. It’s a quick read, while still jaw-droppingly amazing. Or that’s how it was for me, anyway.)

Favorite Links

Career – Writing Fiction

Buroker – For New Indie Authors: What I Would Do if I Were Starting Today
Holcomb – Art Holcomb’s Favorite Bits of Storytelling Advice in 2013
Holcomb – Eight Fundamental Steps to being a Professional Writer
Lakin – Genre versus Author Platform? Which Matters More?
Strong – Self-Publishing Secret #5 – The secret formula is 1/1/1/5
Strong – Self-Publishing Secret #7 – Your step-by-step guide to launching your self-publishing author career

Characters

Patterson – A Fabulous Resource for Writers – 350 Character Traits (I printed just the charts. On my printer – using the “shrink to fit” setting – that’s pages 2 & 3.)
Character Name Generator – A simple tool for character names, or even pen names.
Top 5 Names in Each of the Last 100 Years – When you need a given name that will resonate with your target audience.
The Newsiest Names (girls) – When you’d like a given name that’s trending right now. (That site also has boys’ names, cool names, off-the-grid names, and so on.)
British Surnames – When you need a surname that’s popular in the UK, America, Australia, Canada, and so on. (Irish options and more, at that site.)

Character tools
I’m using Character Writer software (not free) from Typing Chimp. The leaner free version is probably all you need.  (If you decide to buy it, search for “Typing Chimp Coupon Code” to see if they’re running a discount. The full price is around $70.)

Dialogue

Philbrick – Tips for Better Dialogue

Fiction – General (including free online courses & article series)

Lakin – 12 Key Pillars of Novel Construction (2014 course starts at that link)
Moorcock – Michael Moorcock’s How to Write a Book in Three Days
Stanley – The DWS Method (making a living with short fiction) – also described here at Kboards ( <– ref erotica) and referenced here, as well (<– romance) with contrasting views at this Kboards post.
You’ll find amazing classes (free) on YouTube, such as How to Write a Story That Rocks, and others — some even better — on the feed by S. James Nelson and related writing enthusiasts.
www.GenreHobo.com is excellent. Don’t miss her step-by-step guide.
WriteWorld Toolbox is dangerously good. It’s juicy. It’s filled with amazing links, and links to links, and… well, you get the idea. On my first visit, I printed out 15 inspiring and insightful articles sure to improve my writing. (If you’re in the middle of writing a book, don’t even go there. Finish the book, first. During a between-books break, visit the Toolbox.)

Plotting

Using something other than the traditional “hero’s journey” model:

  • Fiction Focus: Aristotle’s incline – Simple, clear graphic
  • Toasted Cheese: 12 Baby Steps to a Complete Story – Good steps, but I don’t agree about asking for feedback.  The only opinions that matter are (a) your readers’, and (b) your editor (if you go the traditional publishing route).  On the other hand, the explanation of Aristotle’s incline is excellent and brief.
  • Plotting a Novel in Three Acts: Midpoint Scene – If you’re like me, middle-of-the-book sag is treacherous.  It was my Achilles heel when I was working on romance novels.  This article suggests fixes.  Mostly, click on her graphic to see a great version of Aristotle’s incline.

Books about writing fiction

  • Anything by William Martell, unless you’re a beginning writer. As of June 2017, his Act Two Secrets book changed how I plot my fiction. It’s been one of the biggest “ah-HA!” moments of my fiction writing career.
  • Book: The Writers Journey, by Christopher Vogler – It’s the most detailed study of the “hero’s journey” method of plotting, and Vogler is the one who made this the #1 choice for many (most?) novelists. It’s not easy to read. Your public library probably has a copy.
  • (FREE! The good news if you’re interested in “hero’s journey” plotting: Others explain it far more clearly and simply — notably Dan Well’s “story structure” workshop series. You can watch it at this site, or at YouTube.)
  • Book: 20 Master Plots and How to Build Them, by Ronald B. Tobias – Lots of people say there are only x-number of plots in the world. This book covers them better than most.

Plotting tools (mostly free)

Book Ideas (Plots, Characters, and more)

Planning and Plotting

I do some (“lite”) plotting in a Character Writer tool (not free) but you can use a free version of this same tool, online, and it’s probably as good or better. It’s clunky and no-frills, but I like it.

More fiction-y goodness

British Etiquette – Fork in left hand, please. (Lots of other interesting British info at that site, as well.   If you’re setting a book in England, this site is a shortcut to key points you must get right.)

Books: Any thesaurus by Angela Ackerman. Costume 1066 – 1990s (or any title like that) by John Peacock.

The following are things that have amused me or provided “ah-HA!” moments (or both) when I’ve been stalled as a writer. Some are better than others.

General “ah-HA!” Links

Quit comparing your books to others’ as if there is one, simple answer to why one book sells well and another doesn’t. No One Knows what makes a book a success.

  • Paperback Writer: Freebies and Free Reads. The “John and Marcia” notes made me laugh out loud. The virtual workshops have some gems. And, some of her forms are tremendously useful.
  • I’ve barely scratched the surface on her Friday 20 Index, but found plenty of good tips, even for indies. She goes geeky in a blink, talking about some topics. Wonderful insights!
  • Kait Nolan provides truly great advice and worksheets at her downloads page. I’ve placed a copy of her Scene Questionnaire at the front of my current story bible.

Genre fiction insights

Romance novels

Susan Bischoff’s Blueprint Series may be written with romance novels in mind, but most of it is sage and insightful advice for any novel. She’s a fan of Larry Brooks, and that shows in the very best ways. I nodded enthusiastically when she said the “snowflake” method sounded good at first, but it wasn’t quite enough. (I know people who swear by it, but — after a really good start — I found myself staring at the paper, completely stalled.)

If you get lost in Susan’s series of posts, the second one is here, and — after that — the next one is always linked at the top right corner of the article.
Or, you can use her Blueprint index and start at the last post, working your way back. I printed several for my writing notebook.

Sci-Fi

Wrede: Fantasy Worldbuilding Questions – Lots of things to think about before plotting your series.

Mysteries

Anagram and Scrabble Solver – When you need to leave clues, or you want to be ever-so-clever, or both, by scrambling words.
10 Deadly Poisons – A list with details that crime writers need.

Erotica

I don’t write erotica. Even my romances (the ones I read and the ones I write) are “sweet,” not “spicy.”
However, for those eager to plumb those depths, here are some useful (generally NSFW) articles: Sex Story Formula and Ultimate Guide to Writing Smut Fic .

And…

Formatting (Scrivener) – Until I started using Kindle Create, I formatted everything in Scrivener.  At the time, Scrivener simplified everything for me. There is a learning curve, but if you want an all-in-one writing/publishing tool – and especially if you own a Mac –  it’s worth it. Really.

Marketing!

I kind of love the information & resources in this article, because it’s rich with clicky-de-click links:  Write Better Blog Posts.

Other Resources
In general, I like mainstream resources for writers. They include Writers Digest, Romance Writers of America, and so on.

Peers v. Landed Gentry

Some authors aren’t familiar with the difference between “the Gentry” and actual Peers of the Realm. It was still an important distinction in Regency England. Avoid confusing them; finicky readers will notice.

Here’s how Wikipedia explains it:

Darcy turns up his nose at Eliza BennetLanded gentry is a largely historical British social class consisting of land owners who could live entirely from rental income. It was distinct from, and socially “below”, the aristocracy or peerage, although in fact some of the landed gentry were as wealthy as some peers.

They often worked as administrators of their own lands, while others became public, political and armed forces figures. The decline of this privileged class largely stemmed from the 1870s agricultural depression.

The designation “landed gentry” originally referred exclusively to members of the upper class who were landlords and also commoners in the British sense, that is, they did not hold peerages, but usage became more fluid over time.

Similar or analogous social systems of landed gentry also sprang up in countries that maintained a colonial system; the term is employed in many British colonies such as the Colony of Virginia and some parts of India.

By the late 19th century, the term was also applied to peers such as the Duke of Westminster who lived on landed estates.

The book series Burke’s Landed Gentry recorded the members of this class. Successful burghers often used their accumulated wealth to buy country estates, with the aim of establishing themselves as landed gentry.

(The bold type is my emphasis.)

In Regency England – and even today, in some social circles – peers may be held in far higher esteem. “Landed gentry” can be seen as nouveau riche.

Also, remember that snobbish attitudes are more likely observed among the “top of the trees” upper class and among servants and lower classes. (However, that’s a stereotype and not an absolute rule when creating your characters.)

Between those extremes, attitudes varied by background and personal priorities, even within a household. Mrs. Bennet was very vocal about income and holdings; Mr. Bennet seemed to cheerfully accept people based on their finer qualities.