Tag Archives: Research

Toolbox 30: Free Courses Through My Local Library

This post was written for the Author Toolbox Blog Hop where we share our new discoveries on the craft of writing, editing, querying, marketing, publishing, and blogging tips. Posted every third Wednesday of the month. For rules and sign-up click here.


My life is quiet right now. No doubt, many of you feel the same way. Boredom was my enemy until I discovered my local library’s website linked to free courses. I’m a lifelong learner. So yay for me!

How I got there.

It may not be the same for you, but here’s what I did. On my library’s main menu, I clicked on the Research tab. That led to the Gale Courses. From there I chose what I wanted: Research Methods for Writers, and Mystery Writing. That was where my heart was but there were many more to choose from.

In my world of writing and my day-to-day life, I want quick direct answers. I don’t want to go down the rabbit hole and spend hours digging through information for one fact when I’m only touching on information in passing. My goal is to avoid infodumps. For me and for my readers.

I retrieved the fact to keep to the truth and that’s where it ended for me.

And it turned out that sometimes my quick in-and-put plan failed. If anyone has read Minor Error, you’d know what I mean. My facts were not as accurate as they should have been. Eventually, I moved it from the sci-fi genre to the sci-fantasy genre because I loved the images I created as inaccurate as there were.

The Course Pointed out that:

  • I needed to make a plan. (Mind-maps work well for this.)
  • I should determine what exactly I need to know to figure out where I need to go.
  • I might start with an internet search and land up anywhere.

I tried:

Google Scholar, and Google Books

And landed up:

Now that I’ve stuck my toe in, I know I’ll be more diligent. I want my readers to enjoy what I’ve imagined and not get kick out of the story because I was sloppy. Bottom line: I will still make mistakes because I’m human, not because I’m lazy.

How deep do you dive-in when seeking facts? Any links you’d care to share?

Facts—Nothing But The Facts (Non-Toolbox Post #3)

There is no Author Toolbox Blog Hop this month or the next. Life is too hectic with Nano and Xmas (or other festivities). But I like posting twice a month so here I go anyway.


The Internet

The world wide web changed the world yet not all the available information is to be believed. False News is only the tip of the iceberg.

Writing Research Online

That said I’m sure you follow the same rules I do. The source has to be reliable: a university for example is a great place to start.

But let’s not forget anyone can post anything.

Sorry Blogs. But until the information is confirmed, I’m out. Even Wikipedia concerns me and I tend to check out their source  material rather than take what they post as the gospel.

Who to Trust

As I mentioned, universities are one of my favourite places to go. For example, when looking for grammatical advice I go to  uToronto.

Note: I also trust Grammar Girl and The Editor’s Blog. But that took time and testing.

Newspapers can be a great source as well. Wikipedia Current Events Page is where I check-in. I tend to avoid the drama queens and kings on the typical news sites.


Homework Help + Kid’s Pages

As writers, we need the facts, but we don’t always want a degree in whatever we are researching. Homework help and student pages can be a very effective way to cut to the facts of the matter.

Here’s a list of some of my favourite go to sites:

Online Library | Smithsonian | Fact Monster | How Stuff Works | PBS VIDEOS | OLogy | Windows to the Universe

Adult sites – Forensic & LEO

D P Lyle | Forensic Outreach Library | RCMP News Room | FBI Writer’s Page | Nelson BC Police Department

I’m sure you  have your own sites and/or lists and I’d love to learn more about them. Feel free to put a link in the comments.

Thanks for dropping by. 🙂