As I may have mentioned (fifty or sixty times between the blog and twitter) I’ll be speaking at MarsCon in Williamsburg on Friday night. My panel topic is “Breaking into Publishing” and I’ll be specifically talking about “Electronic Resources for Writers.”  In developing my speaking notes, I’ve compiled a list of my favorite websites for writers. I’m listing some of them here in the shameless hope that my faithful readers will add their favorites.

First a few tools for writing, programs and websites that help with the actual act of writing. For example, Write or Die is a nifty little program that will delete what you’ve written if you don’t keep writing. You can play with the free online version, but be warned the text you’ve just written is actually gone if your word count becomes too slow.  I’ve heard of a few tools for managing your work in progress, but none except Write or die Scrivener have a cult­- like following.  This software helps writers plot out a story, provides an electronic corkboard, an outlining system and organizes research information, like photo images or pdf files.

Writing tends to be a very solitary act. Many authors suffer from a lack of coworkers to chat with or use as a sounding board. If you’re looking to find like-minded authors, you should consider connecting with a professional group for your genre:

Horror Writers Association
Mystery Writers of America
Sisters In Crime
Romance Writers of America
Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America

You can also use social media tools like Twitter to reach out to other authors. On Twitter conversations are noted by a hashtag (#). Here are some discussions that might be of interest:

#pubtip – Publishing tips

#ufchat – Urban Fantasy chat

#askanagent – An agent will open themselves for question. Ask your question with this tag and the agent’s name. They’ll usually answer.

#writing  – Questions, comments, or complaints about writing

#editing – Questions, comments, and many complaints about editing

Once your manuscript is complete, and polished to a high shine you’ll need an agent and a publisher. You can find information about both at Publishers Marketplace. There is a $20 a month fee to receive all of the available information (including deals, job openings, and industry news) searching the database of agents and publishers is free. Agent Query offers information specifically about agents like what they represent and if they’re open to submissions. After you’ve found the perfect agent using these two sites, you should head over to Query Shark and Slush Pile Hell for a humorous look at how *not* to query.

Unfortunately, no discussion of writing would be complete without a mention of the dangers of writing. Scams exist to separate money from potential authors, and not every editor or agent is scrupulous. Before signing a contract or a check, writers should review Preditors & Editors to ensure there are no legitimate complaints against the people they’re working with.  In addition, the Writer Beware blog posts the current scams and alerts writers when an old scammer sets up shop under a new name.

So what do you think? Have I missed your favorite website? A blog you consult everyday? The prefect Twitter tag or the best Facebook group? If I did, please tell me in the comments!