Tag Archives: research

Helpful sites for your NaNoWriMo experience.

As we get closer to this year’s NaNoWriMo I thought I would share some of the websites I frequented for inspiration and quick information to help me stay on track for the 50K word challenge. This isn’t a complete list of useful sites, just the ones I’m most familiar with over the past 12 years or so.

Name Generators

Fake Name Generator—Not only do you get a made up name but also: an address, an occupation, an online screen name, a social security number and others. You can even activate the e-mail address to make your character seem real!

Seventh Sanctum—One of the ultimate collections of names for Fantasy or Sci-fi. Plus you can also create names for tools or gadgets for your characters.

Band Name Maker/Other Generators—This is a collection of other Name Generators.

20,000+ Names — This site has names from different ethnic backgrounds plus their meanings.


10,000-Year Calendar What I really like about this is that you can locate any date in history and find out what day if falls on, plus you can see into the future for certain dates as well. For example, we all know that JFK was assassinated on November 22, 1963 but did you know it was the Friday before Thanksgiving?

Dollar Times-Inflation Calculator—Now you can find out how much $1000 in 1945 is equal to today.

Logo Design—Help create a logo for your company, your band, or your adventuring party!

Online Alignment Test—A good way to figure out what kind of behavior your character has and how they would react to certain situations.

Anagram ServerWant to hide your villain’s name in plain sight? Try an anagram!

Pixabay—Free Images—A collection of images that can be used to inspire your writing or become part of your book cover.

This should help you on your road to 50K words this year.

Good luck and Happy Adventuring!!



From the Cradle to the Madhouse

There’s a fine line between genius and insanity. I have erased this line. ~Oscar Levant



There’s an old saying that goes, “There’s a fine line between Genius and Insanity.” I do believe that those of us who are writers are not only standing on that fine line but we stomp up and down the entire line and sneer at both sides. We aren’t geniuses and we aren’t insane. We are both and very proud of it!



From the Cradle…

Children show their creativity at an early age and, if nurtured by the parents, it will further develop and blossom into a broad imagination. I grew up with my sister and two neighbor girls and played with Barbie dolls (I did have a Ken doll) and an assortment of stuffed animals. I never was the boy who was into sports, cars, and any of that macho stuff. It never really interested me even though I did two years of Little League Baseball.

It wasn’t until I was in Junior High that I showed an interest in writing. I started with a crappy play rendition of “The Wizard of Oz” and expanded to a series of stage plays featuring The Marx Brothers.

In college a buddy of mine introduced me to this Science Fiction idea the he and another friend of his were working on years ago and this was when I started to take a more serious interest in writing. From there I made several attempts to write Fantasy and it wasn’t until 2005 that things began to pay off.

Now ten years later I have a Fantasy trilogy completed and three short stories with many more ideas waiting to come to fruition. Currently, I’m stonewalled as I want to write several stories and I have characters in my mind shouting for attention so that their story is written.


…to the Madhouse.

This is one of the main reasons why people see writers as insane. We openly talk to our characters (threaten to kill them off in chapter 4 if they don’t behave); we openly plot how we’re going to kill ol’ lady Jensen when she comes around the corner. The Blond Writer recently revealed that she got her characters to talk to her and it was an eye-opening experience for her. For the rest of us, there are times when we want them to just shut up so we can go to sleep, speak calmly to your child’s principal, and discuss the next play date with your neighbor.

And thing which would send us to the madhouse is that we do searches online for things that usually only serial killers would have an interest in and, we sometimes, draw unwanted attention by the government just because we want to know how to build a Death Ray.

In a recent blog post, Author Kristen Lamb discusses that fact that a lot of writers could easily be mistaken for serial killers in the amount of things we research on the internet and comments we nonchalantly make to our non-writing friends.

For the NaNoWriMo challenge in 2008 I was researching the Salem Witch Trials hoping to create something similar for my story. I grabbed a bunch of books from the library and, while waiting the in the front foyer of the school to pick up my daughters, I brought one of the books in to read. The cover had a noose on the front of it. Another father came up to me and asked a question about which grades were released first, I answered him, and then returned to my book. He must have caught a glimpse of the cover because when I next looked up, I saw him on the other side of the foyer.

Murder books 032516

Although I haven’t done any extensive research online, I do have a collection of books that would make any serial killer writer jealous. One I’m particularly proud of owning is The History of Torture and Execution. I bought that one at our local Renaissance Festival and have taken it to work to read in the break room a couple of times. I also have a set of encyclopedias called Crime and Punishment, a set I picked up through the mail back in 1996-1999. It’s a 28 volume set (plus 3 years books) or basic crime descriptions plus real life case histories of some of the more notorious criminals in the world. Everyone from Lizzie Borden and Al Capone to Jeffery Dahmer and OJ Simpson.

I have as of yet to create a murder mystery of any kind but I do like having the books on my shelf and it would most likely keep people away from wanting to engage in any meaningful conversation about the whales or frogs. If you want to discuss saving dragons, or what chainsaw you prefer to dismember a cheerleader, then come right in and I’ll make us some tea!


A Twisted Mind  (Author’s Theme Song)

Worldbuilding is another facet that gives non-writer people fits when we yell at our characters to head west towards the Mountains of the Dwarves when they want to head south and tackle the Undead Beast from the Netherworld which will instantly kill them because they aren’t ready for it. Plus, you’re half-tempted to allow them to go just to show that they are wrong and you are the one in control.

Suddenly we’re accused of having a god complex and being drunk with power because we state, “I brought you into this world, I can take you out.” Next thing you know you’re being fitted for a white coat so that you can give yourself hugs and a room with rubber wallpaper. Just because you have a map of your fictional world spread out over the dining room table and are moving plastic men around to work out the army’s next attack doesn’t mean you are insane. You want to visualize the scene before you write it. Maps are your friend and without them you could send you characters in different directions but each time, passing the same business. Of course, if this if part of your story then great. If not, then you’re going to need a great memory.


Don’t be afraid to embrace your inner madman! It’s better to verbally release your creativity to the page than to keep it bottle up inside until you literally snap and are the Main Character on 20/20 or Dateline. If you non-writer friends still find you weird, embrace that too, then threaten to create a character based on them and put them in various situations that could have them tortured or killed.

Share with me what experiences of being an insane genius you have had. Scared the family? Worried your co-workers? Let me hear your creative minds!!

Happy Adventuring


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