Here I am with the second instalment of my posts on tools for authors. Hopefully, you will have read the first instalment. If not, you should read here here.
Since I will probably be coming out with more instalments in future, here is a statutory warning:
Not all of the tools suit all of the authors all of the time. You work with those tools that are most of benefit for your individual needs. The amount of tools available can drive you crazy, so be nit-picking choosy. To the best of my knowledge, there is no tool—unfortunately—that helps you choose the right tool.
The first one here is a tool that many authors should find useful.
First name research
This is a resource for those authors who would like a little bit of background on the names they use in their books. As the site’s header tells you, you can research the etymology and history of first names here.
Did you know, for example that Chloe “means ‘green shoot’ in Greek. This was an epithet of the Greek goddess Demeter. The name is also mentioned by Paul in one of his epistles in the New Testament. As an English name, Chloe has been in use since the Protestant Reformation.”
I find Chloe a very appealing name. Just sayin’.
Just chillin’, bro
Are you into crime? Street gangs and all that sort of thing? This website gives you an introduction to some typical street slang. As the site says, “Slang Search is an online dictionary of English slang definitions. You can browse the dictionary by Category or by Alphabet. If you want to know more about slang and Slang Search, read our info page.”
I got reminded here that “rat” means both informer (as in someone who tells on someone else to the authorities)and a scab laborer.
You can also help yourself to some toilet slang, sex slang…
Chillin’ with some cool background sounds
If you are like me, and you find music with vocals actually distracting when you are working, you might want to try out this tool. The About section says, “Noisli is a fantastic background noise and color generator ideal for working and relaxing. Plus Text Editor for distraction-free writing with plain text and Markdown support.”
I haven’t tried out the text editor, and don’t intend to, but the background sounds part is terrific. Here are some of the symbols (reflecting the types of background noise available):
Up or down? Track your favorite sites
Is your favorite website down? Gnashing your teeth, checking back every now and then to see if the site is back up?
Don’t bother. Let this site bother for you. It is definitely one of the better tools for authors—or for that matter, anyone else. It does what it says: “Ding It’s Up is a free service that alerts you via text (SMS), twitter or email when a website goes down or when it comes back up.”
You can program it to tell you by email or SMS when your site is back online.
This site also tells you when a site goes down, and this particular feature is great to keep track of your own sites. You would like to be informed immediately if your site should go down, wouldn’t you?
Those pet words
Seems all of us have those pet words that we use frequently—a little too much—when we write. And we usually do it unconsciously.
This resource’s (“Thriving now for over 10 years, WriteWords is one of the largest and oldest writing communities on the web.”) word and phrase counter lets you know the frequency of occurrence of words in your writing. The home page is a bit distracting, so you want to look for this link (right now, at the bottom of the right hand column):
I just tried it out, using a recent submission to LinkedIn and found that I had used the word “your” 47 times, followed by the word “to”, with 45 instances. Nothing much to worry about there. I hope.
Incidentally, WriteWords have a whole raft of other features and tools for authors, most of which I have yet to explore.
Sure you are pronouncing every word right? As a non-native English speaker, I can vouch for the fact people of my tribe tend to blunder when it comes to pronunciation of the most common, every day words.
I wouldn’t dare to comment on native English speakers, but whichever tribe you belong, maybe you require some prodding on the vocalization every now and then.
You can get your tongue set right at this site, which calls itself “A free online Talking Dictionary of English Pronunciation”. It just told me that “cache” is pronounced cash, as in touchable, countable money, and not cashay, as in Fr. Leo P. Cachat S.J., my principal at school.
Google+ and you
Are you into Google+? Shame on you if you aren’t.
If you are on Google+, you are, hopefully, posting regularly. If you are posting regularly, you may want to know what the ideal time to post is, so that your posts achieve the maximum impact.
You need this tool. The site states that it “helps you decide when it is the best time to post. By analyzing your historical post data, we can show you when you have had the most impact with your posts.”
It also tells you the best posting times for big names like Guy Kawasaki and Felicia Day. Don’t try to imitate them, though. Your work is not their work, and your audience is not their audience. Ergo, your best timings may not be their best timings.
There, that brings my second post on tools for authors to a close. If you have been nursing some extraordinary tool to your bosom, don’t you think it is time to share? That’s what the comments section down there is for.
Top photo of tools: Tom Magliery/Flickr. Thank you.