Appeared in Heart's Talk, December 1995
... BUT THE NATIVES ARE FRIENDLY.
(Note: some links and sites mentioned here have expired since first publication.)
No matter how you get to the Internet, or how good or poor your utilities once you get there, there are resources available that you can use to improve your writing. Here are just a few of them.
Electronic "lists" use e-mail. You subscribe to the list of your choice by sending a specific message to the host computer, which adds you to the list. Messages sent to the list by members are then dispersed to all list members by the host computer.
E-mail lists will form the backbone of your Internet "portfolio" of resources. Lurk for a while (ie, don't contribute) until you feel comfortable, then introduce yourself with a short biography.
How to subscribe: Send a message to LISTSERV@NETCOM.COM, leave your message line blank. In the body of the message write SUBSCRIBE RW-L. Make sure you turn your automatic signature file off. You will be sent confirmation, a welcome message and an information file.
Details: The Romance Writer's List is fairly active (10-60 messages a day), with over 800 members spread around the globe, the majority in North America. There are published and non-published writers on the list, and discussions cover techniques, marketing information, industry news, recommendations, referrals, and some social messages. It is not a list for posting your work for critiquing, although once a month there is a short exercise set. For critiquing, there is a brain-storming sub-list with a limited membership. You have to be a member of RW-L to join the sublist. RW-L is friendly and supportive. There is no flaming (abusive arguments). Three times a week list members have live "chat" sessions via IRC and the Undernet.
Usefulness: This list is a must if you are writing for American markets. You get market news sooner than it appears in any of the "snail-mail" networks. The list is just as valuable even if you're writing for anyone else because the sense of community and support is wonderful, and technical information applies no matter who you are writing for.
How to subscribe: Send a message to LISTSERV@KENTVM.KENT.EDU, leave your message line blank. In the body of the message write: sub rra-l <yourfirstname> <yourlastname>. Make sure you turn your automatic signature file off. You will be sent confirmation, a welcome message and an information file.
Details: The Romance Readers Anonymous list is for all readers (including writers) of romances, with lively discussions of books, stories, movies, etc. The list is moderated by Leslie Haas.
Usefulness: The list has a North American bias, and a large cross-over of members from RW-L. It's a great resource for keeping a finger on the pulse of the market, and finding out who's hot, who's not.
Lists of general writing interest
Writer's Workshop: Although started for discussion of writing, submissions, critiques, various mind-joggers and exercises are also passed among the participants. All postings are archived and available to members.
Subscription: Send message to email@example.com (Note: Figure 1, not letter l) with the message SUBSCRIBE WRITERS <yourfirstname> <yourlastname>.
Fiction and Writing Lists: A workshop for fiction writers. The "Fiction" list is for submissions and critiques, the "Writing" list is for general discussions, new member introductions, and announcements of various sorts. You have to belong to the Writing list to join the Fiction list (the Writing list also has poetry, novels, and non-fiction sublists). The tone is professional, and most members are actually pursuing publication, usually in science fiction or fantasy. Flame wars are sporadic. It is a requirement of the sublists that you critique at least once a week.
Subscribing: send mail to LISTSERVE@psuvm.psu.edu, with message "subscribe <listname> <yourfirstname> <yourlastname> where <listname> is "fiction", "writing", Novels-l". You will get confirmation and an instruction kit.
The World Wide Web is a collection of computer sites all inter-linked with each other with a hyper-text language that allows you to simply point and click to move from one site to another. (This is called web-surfing). Sites are updated regularly.
Pages of interest to Romance Writers
Joanne Reid's Page for Writers.
Romance Writers' Home Page
Science Fiction Romance Electronic Magazine
The Write Page
Romancing the Infobahn
Misc.Writing Home Page
The Writer's Corner
Commercial Internet access providers usually offer some sort of news service. If you have Web access, you can get to most newsgroups via the Web, too. Use either your newsreader or your Web browser to call up the newsgroup of your choice.
Newsgroups are like e-mail lists in that they are sometimes moderated, are usually active, and are a source of up-to-date information. They differ in that you don't have to subscribe to join the group. For this reason you can sometimes miss information as newsgroups operate like bulletin boards, and active groups have to keep wiping the older messages more often to keep the newsgroup manageable.
It is strongly recommended that you "lurk" in a group (read, but don't contribute) for a while, until you learn the ropes.
There are no romance-specific newsgroups at the time of this writing.
General Interest Newsgroups
Electronic magazines exist for you to read, and for you as a writer to submit to. Many of them don't pay for their material, or offer non-monetary deals. Most magazines are accessible via the Web, or FTP (File Transfer Protoccol).
General interest magazines
RESEARCH ON THE INTERNET
E-mail lists, the Web, newsgroups, FTP and personal recommendations from other net users are a valuable collection of research tools.
Whatever your area of interest, the setting of your story, and the time frame of your book, there is probably a list or newsgroup that can give you information on it. You may have to ask around to find them. If you want an answer to a simple question, you can send a message to your list and be flooded with answers from other members. You can ask for references to other sites, too.
There are "search engines" available on the Web that you can use to find any web pages that hold your key word or phrase.
Available via Web and FTP are the on-line catalogues of major libraries and university libraries around the world. Project Guttenberg is an attempt to put the world's literature into electronic format, available to the Net via FTP, and later, the Web.
All of the sites listed here are free. However, your access provider may charge you for gaining access to the Internet (which is covered in a separate article in this issue).
The Internet is a huge place, and there are no signposts. The small amount of cataloguing and indexing available is incomplete, and is outdated very quickly. The traditional means of finding out anything on the Internet has been asking other people. Most net users are very friendly, and helpful when you ask. I suspect it's because everyone loves getting mail!
You can start with me. I love getting mail, too.
Copyright© Tracy Cooper 1995
This site and all its contents Copyright 1999, 2000, 2001 (c) Sasha Productions & Tracy Cooper-Posey