I’ve been stuck for a couple of days with Summermoon Fire, on a knotty problem of time travel (don’t you just hate those?) and the identification of a certain child.  I’d thought I would be able to use paternity testing, but it turns out it wasn’t at all reliable in the 1950’s.  In fact, only with modern DNA analysis methods did paternity testing become a sure bet.  In the 50’s accuracy was estimated at 30%.  I found out most of this on Wikipedia, which continues to be my first source for arcane but useful bits of information.

But now I have another way round my difficulties, I hope.  You will be able to tell by whether or not the word counter moves!


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I was browsing Wikipedia, reading a bio of Elizabeth Moon. I have read a couple of books of hers, and I wanted to find out something about her life. Turns out she is an ex-Marine, which does show in her work. But that is not the point of this post. (more…)

Andrew made a comment the other day about the websites he frequents. Although I do use books for a lot of my reference needs, I also have quite a few sites that I visit for help now and again.

1. http://www.rhymezone.com

A comprehensive rhyming dictionary. Has words divided up by the number of syllables, and arranged alphabetically.

2. http://www.behindthename.com

A guide to thousands of names, fully searchable, with meanings, derivations and alternate spellings. Has names grouped by nationality, which is very useful if you are writing something set in a foreign country.

3. http://www.etymonline.com

Gives the derivations of thousands of words and expressions. Helps when you need to make sure a word or phrase was in use in a historical context.

4. thesaurus.reference.com

A huge site, with an incredible number of words, synonyms and antonyms. Fully searchable, and there is a dictionary for the words you don’t know, of which there will be many, trust me.

5. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Main_Page

Ahhh… Wikipedia. The repository for all knowledge in the universe, just like the Encyclopedia Galactica, only cheaper. Free actually, and you definitely get what you pay for. Don’t get me wrong, for a lot of things Wikipedia is very useful. But don’t use it to research any sort of hot button issue. It isn’t accurate, and it certainly isn’t unbiased, when it comes to history or biography.

6. http://www.google.co.nz/language_tools?hl=en

Google translate. Can be useful for tossing the occasional foreign word into a story. I am not a big fan of Google, actually, as I have a unnatural prejudice against big companies that (seemingly) want to take over the world, while (absolutely) destroying my right to privacy. No g-mail for Suzanne, that’s for sure.

Don’t even get me started on Wal-Mart and McDonalds. 🙂