Sunday, February 01, 2009

Resource Books

What kind of writing resource books do you have on your shelf? How many?

I have one shelf dedicated to resource books. Mostly books on writing, but quite a few resource books on drugs, poisons, police procedures, baby names, travel, and body decomposition. My husband maintains that if he died under suspicious circumstances, I would be automatically arrested. He’s probably right. I do cringe when a story comes on TV about someone dying and the reporters point out that the police found books on poison or found out that the surviving spouse had visited sites about how to get false IDs. That’s usually told in a voice-over as the spouse is led out in handcuffs with a jacket over his/her head. It’s why I always tell my husband to be careful. Of course, I want him to be safe, but I also don’t look good with clothes draped over my head.

What do you have on your shelves? Do you have a favorite writing book or resource book? One of my favorite reference book is years old. It’s a text book called: Practical Homicide Investigation, Tactics, Procedures and Forensic Techniques.


  1. I have a slim little volume called Rotten Rejections (about how Moby Dick and other famous books were rejected including some of the actual rejection letters). I thumb through it often.

  2. I haven't heard of that one, Heidi. Do you find it informative or inspirational?

  3. I have travel magazines for all the locations of my stories. For writing, I have the Chicago Manual of Style handy, plus "Personality Plus" for character development. My most-used is my trusty Thesaurus - love that book!

    Rotten Rejections puts me in mind of a website, "Read 'Em & Weep." I tell writers if rejection letters get them down, just go to that site for a good laugh!

    L. Diane Wolfe

  4. Thanks for the Read 'Em & Weep site. That sounds like a pick-me-up site!

    I love my thesaurus, too. Mine is the Roget's International Thesaurus. Another one I keep near my desk is "The Describer's Dictionary."

    I hadn't heard of "Personality Plus." That sounds like a good one.

  5. I have Plug Your Book by Steve Weber, Get Known Before the Book Deal and Writer Mama by Christina Katz. I've got a whole bookshelf full of Writer's Markets and Novel Writing books plus a bunch that I've gotten from the library in another stack behind me. The ones I have really enjoyed and found most useful are How I Write by Janet Evanovich and The Right to Write by Julia Cameron. :)

  6. So many within reach, Helen. The ones used most often are:

    The Chicago Manual of Style
    Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary 11th Ed
    Writing Down the Bones
    Getting the Words Right: How to Revise, Edit & Rewrite
    Elements of Style

  7. Thanks for stopping by my blog. I am impressed with your blog. It is very useful for all of us.

    I am going to do a makeover to my blog, hopefully by the end of this week and I shall have a link to your blog on mine.


  8. Rebecca & RJ, y'all have both given me some new titles (new to me, at least). I am making a list! In fact, I think I'll post the list of recommended books. Look for it later this week.

  9. Hi Khaled. Welcome.

    I found your blog via a comment you left on another blog. I love the picture you have in your header. Did you take it?

    Khaled's blog is at:

  10. I've got bookcases full of reference books, most of which I don't even look at. It's called osmosis. When I buy the books, the information automatically travels to my brain. (g)

    Morgan Mandel

  11. Ahh, Morgan, that's a great ability to have. You could join the cast of Heroes. I wish I had that ability. I thought I had it in college, but didn't.

  12. I have three whole shelves devoted to Western History and American History, particularly Wyatt Earp and his friends.

    I have two shelves of books on Ancient Egypt.

    I have random books of any number of topics that I have collected over the years to fill in gaps in my knowledge for whatever I'm writing at the time.

    I'm getting rid of fiction so that I can just manage the reference I use in my writing.


    Wyatt at Pan Historia

  13. I have my books lined up on my desk for easy access. I've got Stephen King's "On Writing." The HWA's "On Writing Horror." Gray's Anatomy (The book, not the TV series), The Goetia, and "The Heart of Psychotherapy." I've also got a couple of other writers digest books like Deadly Doses and Scene of the Crime.

    Joan De La Haye

  14. Wyatt, I'm probably at the beginning of having the kind of resource collection you have. I'm only at about two shelves.

    The Internet is great, but you can learn more by flipping through a book, IMO.

  15. I've never considered writing horror, Joan, but I think it would be very interesting to read books on the subject - to learn how to dissect them (and how to put them together).


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