Resources for Writers

Miss Remington

Miss Remington (Colorization by Jeanne A. Moore)

Black and White photograph of Miss Remmington courtesy of the Library of Congress,

 Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA Copyrighted in 1908 by the Remington Typewriter Company.

Computer Tools and Editing Software for Writers

I would like to thank Willow for contacting me with this excellent resource.

Click here to access the list of resources.

Resources for Writing for Theater and Film

Mary Pickford, half-length portrait, standing, facing slightly left, with motion picture camera, on beach

Have you ever considered writing scripts for theater or screenplays for film? Writing for Theater and Film is an insightful blog gives an overview of writing scripts and screenplays. It also lists resources to guide the would-be script or screenplay writer.

Click here to access the blog.

Thank you to librarian Carol Briggs and Anna of the writers workshop at Kellytown Reading Groups for suggesting this resource.

Photograph of silent screen star and movie pioneer Mary Pickford courtesy the Library of Congress. Created/Published 1916. Reproduction Number: LC-USZ62-113150 (b&w film copy neg.) Reproduction Number: LC-USZ62-113150 (b&w film copy neg.). Call Number: BIOG FILE – Pickford, Mary <item> [P&P]

Advice for Writers Who Want to Self Publish

In the online writing groups I belong to, over and over, I see novice writers who want to self publish asking for advice on how to do this. And they get many replies from people and companies who tell them “we’ll do everything for you.” And when you look at the websites of the people/companies offering help, they charge for that help. Of course they want to make a profit with the knowledge that they have. There’s nothing wrong with that. But it can end up costing the novice writer hundreds, if not thousands of dollars. And you know they won’t recoup that expense with a debut novel. Not every novice ends up “hitting the big time” like J. K. Rowling.

I found a really good beta reader on Savvy Authors’ CritMatch program.

To find a good editor, shop around. Get recommendations from friends who are self-published authors. Use Reedsy or use Editorial Freelancers Association to shop for editors. Get price quotes and ask for a free sample from each editor that you choose.

I learned how to do everything else myself with tutorials on YouTube and written tutorials that I found on Google. I self publish on Amazon using Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP). I learned how to format my paperback manuscript using KDP tutorials. KDP will format your eBook for you using their Kindle Create. You can use KDP’s Cover Create to design your book covers. You can take it one step further and learn how to design your own book covers using the GNU Image Manipulation Program (GIMP). GIMP is a photo-editing program like Photoshop, but unlike Photoshop, GIMP is free. There’s a learning curve with GIMP, but it’s worth it. I use Pixabay for the images to create my covers – it’s a stock photo service that offers free, royalty-free images that are in the public domain. I copyright my manuscripts myself. I learned how to create my own website in WordPress by reading the book WordPress to Go. The cost for a domain name is minimal.

If you want someone else to do it all for you (except editing), use Draft2Digital. They don’t charge up front, but will take 10% of what your books earn every time someone buys one. Take a look at their website.

All of this will cost you time and effort, but the monetary cost will be minimal. I repeat: companies and people offering services charge money for those services and it could run you hundreds, if not thousands of dollars.

Resources For Authors Seeking Agents and Traditional Publishers

If you are seeking traditional publishing rather than going the self-publishing route, you will want to make sure you’re going with legitimate agents and publishers. Legitimate agents and publishers will never charge you any money up front. They make their money after your book is published. You will also want agents and publishers who are not only legitimate, but who represent the genre you’ve written and for which you’re seeking publication. Here are three excellent resources for verifying the legitimacy of literary agents and publishers.

Query Tracker

Query Tracker has an extensive database of literary agents and publishers. It’s free to do a basic search for agents and publishers. But for the nominal fee of $25.00 per year you can explore agent and publisher data and you can keep track of your submissions. You can also see comments other authors have posted for the agents listed on this site. To find Query Tracker’s site, click here.

Manuscript Wish List

Manuscript Wish List is a listing of literary agents and publishers. It is free to search for you as a writer. You can search for people who are compatible with what you write. Find the Manuscript Wish List here.

Read through Manuscript Wish List’s Frequently asked questions and then look at the site to get a feel for what’s here. The FAQs are here.

Association of Authors’ Representatives

This is an organization of professional agents. They must adhere to the association’s code of ethics.  It is free for writers to search this listing. Click Find an Agent in the menu that runs along the top of the website under the banner.  This will take you to the Member Database. For each entry, the agent’s query status and the genres she or he is represented are listed. If you are looking for an agent who represents a specific genre, such as romance, type romance in the search rectangle and all agents representing that genre will be listed. Find the Association of Author’s Representatives here.

Resources for Authors Who Self Publish

As with any venture, it is imperative that you read and compare the information for these retailers and aggregators to determine which one is the best fit for you and your goals. One of the things you will want to look out for is how do these retailers and aggregators make their money? For example, Amazon does not charge authors anything to publish with then; they take a percentage of the price when the eBook or paperback sells. Aggregator Draft2Digital also does not charge anything up front and  takes a percentage every time your book sells. Ingramspark takes a fee up front when you publish with them. 

Also compare what each retailer and aggregator will do for you. For example, Amazon through Kindle Direct Publishing has functions that  will allow you to create your book cover with them for eBooks and paperbacks. For IngramSpark and Draft2Digital, you must have your cover already made when you use these services and you upload your cover in addition to uploading your manuscript. This means that if you don’t know how to design a book cover, you must pay someone to do that. 

If you are willing to learn how to do everything  yourself, then you may want to go with Kindle Direct Publishing. You can create your cover through their Cover Create and  let their Kindle Create format your eBook. They offer in depth instructions on formatting your paperback in Word (both written and in the form of video tutorials on YouTube. Once you get the hang of it, formatting your paperback in Word isn’t that  difficult. Kindle Direct Publishing’s instructions and tutorials are quite through. And their response when you contact them with questions is timely and the instructions are clear.

Draft2Digital will do the formatting of your manuscript for you. Again, they don’t charge anything up front, but will take a percentage every time your eBook or paperback sells. 

It is very important that you comparison shop. Do your research.


Retailers, as you might have guessed, sell books directly to the public.

Kindle Direct Publishing/Amazon,


Apple Books,

Barnes and Noble Press,


Aggregators supply books to retailers. Aggregators that distribute self published to retailers are listed here. You may self publish with all of these. 


To learn now to publish and distribute ebooks with smash words, click on


BookBaby. Learn how to self publish with BookBaby here.




How do I know which one of the above to choose?

Jane Friedman offers an excellent guide on self publishing called Start Here: How to Self-Publish Your Book. To find this guide, click here. It is well worth taking the time to read through it. 

David Wind offers a good guide to Retailers, Aggregators, Distributors, and POD. Click here to read this guide. 

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Resources for Historical Research

I love research! I love information. Writing historical fiction is the perfect thing for me because it gives me the opportunity to pursue two of my passions:  writing and researching. 

It’s important to be historically accurate within your fiction; although the characters, the story, and often the town where the story takes place are fiction, the framework in which they take place must be accurate. There are readers who will know when the framework is not accurate.

For example, if your main character is going to take the train from New York City to San Francisco, the story must be set after May 10, 1869 when the Transcontinental Railroad was completed. Prior to that, a person could only travel by train so far and then had to take a stagecoach – or even a wagon train – the rest of the way to the West Coast. If your characters are traveling by wagon train, did you know that they probably would have joined a wagon train in St. Louis, Missouri or Council Bluffs, Iowa?

An example I came across, while not historical, illustrates the importance of accuracy. In a romance novel I read, the main female and male character lived in San Francisco. The author had them go on a lunch date in Redondo Beach. They drove to the restaurant, had lunch and were back home in a couple of hours. I grew up in Southern California and know that Redondo Beach is south of Los Angeles. I also know that San Francisco is three hundred miles north of Los Angeles. There’s no way two people in San Francisco can drive to Redondo Beach, have lunch and return home in two hours. That error almost killed the story for me.

The point is, do your research. Inaccuracies may very well cost you some of your readers.

Public Libraries

Librarians are a most wonderful resource. Librarians are my heroes. They have enthusiastically assisted me as if the project I was researching was their own.  

A great place to start is with your local public library. If you live in a city or town that has several branches of the public library, the main library may very well have a room or section devoted to the history of your city and yoru state. 

The main branch of the public library in Hawaii has the Hawaii and the Pacific Room with many resources on the history of Hawaii. The Marilyn & Gene Marx Special Collections Center on the ninth floor of the San Diego Public Library’s Central Library houses the California Collection which holds material relating primarily to Southern California. At the Los Angeles Public Library’s Central Library, the History and Genealogy Department has extensive holdings  involving the United States, the West, Native Americans, and Los Angeles area history.

There are public libraries at the city, county and state levels. For example, the city of Seattle has a public-library system. Seattle is located in King County and there is a King County Library. And finally, there’s the Washington State Library. 

Most public libraries had an “Ask the Librarian” function that you can access online.

College and University Libraries

While borrowing privileges at college and university libraries are often restricted to students, staff and faculty, they are nonetheless valuable sources of research.

Law Libraries

Have a question on a point of law? That’s where law libraries are useful. You may find them at different levels in your area – state, city, county and at University law schools. The Hawaii State Law Library has an Ask a Librarian function. At the state level, California as the California Judicial Center Library. The state of Hawaii has the Hawaii State Law Library System and the Hawaii Supreme Court Law Library.

Medical Libraries

The National Library of Medicine has a web page on the history of medicine.  It also has a section on resources for researchers and resources for publishers.

Medical schools and some hospitals have medical libraries. Here’s a Wikipedia listing of medical hospitals.


Archives can be found at the state and county levels. Universities in your area may also have archives. For example, California has a state archive and Los Angeles has its own county archive. Hawaii’s archive is at the state level. The University of Hawaii at Manoa’s library also has archives. The National Archives also has locations outside of Washington D.C. To see a list of locations and the services they offer, click here.

Historical Societies

There are many historical societies covering specific geographic areas and aspects of history. There are also many city, county and state-based historical societies. An internet search will bring them up.  

Genealogical Societies and Websites 

Organizations and websites catering to genealogy research are often good sources of historical information. Cyndi’s List is one of them. Cyndi Howells has put together an extensive amount of information. Her databases are not only useful in researching genealogy but for researching history as well. Another excellent website, San Francisco Genealogy, offers many databases that are useful in researching California history.

There are many genealogical societies nationwide and many genealogy websites at your fingertips on the internet.


There are many museums nationwide dealing with a wide variety of different subjects. Interested in trains and travel by train in the 1800s and 1900? Need to know how long it would have taken your main character to travel from New York to San Francisco in 1900? Contact the California State Railroad Museum. Another museum that deals with a specific subject is the National Orphan Train Complex. Many people don’t know about the Orphan Train Movement. The Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian offers a wealth of information, much of it online.

There are many other museums across the United States that can be found by searching the internet. 

National Archives and Records Administration

The National Archives is the The United States’ record keeper. It preserves valuable records and makes them available to the public for research. It holds the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. It also holds the records of ordinary citizens, such as military records. 

To visit the National Archives and Records Administration, click here. To search their non-subscription databases that can be accessed from any computer, click here

There are many records and databases available to research at the Archives in Washington, D.C. The NARA has other locations as well. To see a list of locations and the services they offer, click here.

Library of Congress

According to its website, the Library of Congress is the largest library in the world. This library is available to us, the public, both in person and online. It houses a wealth of information. Newspapers, photographs and prints, documents and sound recordings (SONIC), including 78 and 45 are among it’s holdings. Many of it’s holdings are digitized and can be searched online. And it has an Ask a Librarian feature.

The Library of Congress is also the home of the Copyright Office.

To find the Library of Congress’s website, click here.  

Smithsonian Institution

The Smithsonian’s website bills itself as the world’s largest museum, education and research center.

One of the many services it offers is Smithsonian Open Access. It offers more than three million images that you can use without asking for permission. 


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There is a wealth of research opportunities waiting for you and much of it is right at your fingertips on the internet. Happy hunting!

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Adding a Contact Form to Your WordPress Website

I tried WPForms and was not able to get it to work. I watched a tutorial on YouTube and created a very nice form on my contact page. But I was not receiving anything in the inbox of the email I’d set up for this purpose. Come to find out “undeliverable” messages were going to the Spam folder of the email associated with my website. I then watched tutorials on how to fix this problem. Nothing I tried worked. Then I decided to look for tutorials on Contact Form 7 on YouTube. 

One of the tutorials was very clear and explained the process of getting the plugin and the contact form up and running on my contact page.

Find this tutorial for Contact Form 7 here.

If you want to put a reCAPTCHA on your form to prevent Spam, click here for the link for instructions. reCAPTCHA V3 (version three) protects your form and site from spammers without making those who fill out your form click on pictures or read fuzzy letters that they have to enter to proceed or even click on “I am Not a Robot.”

After you’ve watched and listened to this tutorial for reCAPTCHA, if you want to look at printed instructions with screenshots, click here

NOTE: In this video tutorial at 0:40 on the screen where you add the Site Key and the Secret Key, there is a link in the upper right corner that the narrator tells you to click on. This is also on the screen shot in the written instructions. It was not on the screen when I was going through this procedure. If when you are going through this procedure and if it’s not on in the upper right corner of the screen where you fill in the Site Key and the Secret Key, you can find that link here. If you are not already signed in to your Google Account, you will be prompted to do so. This will take you to the Admin Console and you can continue on.

Except for that one discrepancy, which was easily rectified, I found putting Contact Form 7 and the reCAPTCHA on my website easy.