Let me preface this by saying that I am not an avid surfer. Until I started blogging I spent almost no time online and then it was only to check email or my calendar. It's not that I am philosophically opposed to the joys of the internet. On the contrary, it is an incredibly useful treasure-trove of information. But, as I'm sure you'll agree, the junk out there far out-numbers the gems and time is mortally finite. That said, here are some of my most useful finds:
The Renaissance Learning Quiz Store
At what point does a short story cross over into novel-dom? Unwilling to type out J.K. Rowling's latest opus, I was determined to find a better way. This site provides the word count, reading level and interest level of countless titles for adults and children, search-able by author, title, or ISBN. And, yes, it's free.
The Association for Library Service to Children
It is extremely difficult to emulate a child's voice and perspective. For this reason alone I sometimes find myself wishing I was more inclined to write stories about 30-something stay-at-home moms. The American Library Association children's arm annually recognizes excellence in children's literature by bestowing such awards as the Newberry and Caldecott Medals. Announced in January, I use these titles as a starting point when planning my year's reading.
The Vinyl Cafe
After much anticipation, Stuart McLean's stories from The Vinyl Cafe are now available by podcast. Before we had to remember when to tune in online and pray the girls didn't talk, laugh or argue too much during the broadcast. The stories are funny and touching and undeniably Canadian. What more can a home-sick wannabe writer ask for? Just follow the links and enjoy.
I'm not much for using websites as a training tool, but Children's Book Insider, the newsletter produced by this website, provides both education and potential markets. I commend three of my four publication credits to this newsletter and its the only one I subscribe to.
So that's it--my best finds of 2007 that kept me educated, employed and, most importantly, entertained.
Now get back to work! No one will write it for you.