JOANNA ELM, Author, Journalist, Attorney

Eight Great Websites for Authors


Me reading under my favorite tree at home in New York

This was a great week: A recent blog of mine was included  as a guest post on one of the great websites for authors, (see below), and my British bestie, Julie, arrived for a visit so I took some time off from writing. We are both voracious readers, and we both love tennis, and we indulged in both activities this week.

Julie arrived bearing gifts: two thrillers by favorite author Sharon Bolton, Little Black Lies and Bolton’s latest thriller, Dead Woman Walking. In hardcover! A book I could actually hold! And five days ahead of US publication!

On Wednesday, it was off to the US Open in Queens. We had grounds admission tickets which proved to be a great way to spend the day at the tennis event when we went three years ago. But not so much this year.


Big Dude Tennis

Nick Kyrgios

John Isner

We headed for Louis Armstrong stadium where Australian Nick Kyrgios (6′ 4″)  was slated to play against fellow Australian John Millman. The stadium is under construction , so we sat on uncomfortable metal bleachers in the hot sun, and left before “bad boy” Nick became unruly, dropping an F-bomb, and smashing his racket while losing in four sets.

Crowds & Lines

It was also dismal trying to get back into the stadium to see Coco Vandeweghe (6’1″) play and win against Alison Riske in three sets The crowds were so much bigger than I remembered from 3 years before, and the lines for food and to enter the stadiums were horrendously long, snaking back and forth, reminding me of a nightmare weekend at DisneyWorld when my son was four years old. Nevertheless, we stayed long enough to see American John Isner (6′ 10″)  pound his serve in to win his match against Korean Hyeon Chung in three straight sets. Next year: reserved seats for us!

Great Websites for Authors

Bestselling mystery author, Hank Phillippi Ryan

Back at home, more time for reading meant I had more time to surf the web to find new websites with useful blogs for authors as well as finding new authors with interesting websites. I’ve chosen the following eight to share here: is a totally spanking- new website for, as it says, authors (self-publishing as well as traditional) interested in perfecting their craft, and getting insights into publishing and marketing. The launch is scheduled for this Wednesday, September 6. A preview of articles includes these intriguing titles: Making the Bad Better: Humanizing your Antagonist; Your Author Platform: the Hub and Spokes; What Your Genre Association Can Do For You. Among the contributors are: bestselling author Hank Phillippi Ryan, super agent, Paula Munier, and Dana Isaacson, a former senior editor at Penguin Random House.

Creating  Memorable Characters

Aaron Sorkin

Aaron Sorkin has written some of the best TV series. Recall The West Wing, The Newsroom, and the movie, The Social Network. has a fabulous video interview with this writer extraordinaire and master of dialogue in which he talks about creating memorable characters (“what a character wants, and how they go about getting it defines a character”) , and how characters do not resemble real people (“people don’t speak in dialogue” and “their lives don’t unfold in narrative arcs.”) I already know that Aaron’s MasterClass is the next writing class for which I am signing up.


 Indie Author’s Editing Secret

Rachel Abbott (whose thriller, Stranger Child, I just purchased) has been the UK’s #1 bestselling indie thriller author for years. On her website, she writes about the craft of writing, about books she enjoys reading, and she conducts interviews with favorite British authors. One of her most informative blogs reveals her secret to successful editing. I was surprised when I found out what it was, but it makes a lot of sense.

In skimming through Rachel’s blogs, I also found her interview with Alex Marwood, UK author of The Wicked Girls, one of Stephen King’s Best Books of 2012. Alex Marwood is a pseudonym for author/journalist Serena Mackesy whose About Me page on her website is one of the funniest and most creative I have read in a long time.

Basics of Story Structure

Historical fiction author K.M. Weiland’s website, Helping Writers Become Authors has solid and sound advice and tips on all aspects of novel writing. Specifically, I found her blog on the basics of story structure particuarly useful since a distinctive color chart (at the very end of the blog) highlights necessary events and plot points. If you know story structure inside out, this is still a useful guide for checking that you’ve got it all covered. If you don’t know anything about story structure, this chart is a perfect starting point.

Forensics Expertise

Here’s a website that includes a fabulously rich resources page for any writer who needs one of his/her characters to sound knowledgeable on CSI-type forensics. It’s the website of Victoria M. Patton, an indie author who holds a BS degree in Forensic Chemistry, and served a stint in the Coast Guard as a Search and Rescue/Law Enforcement Petty Officer. Links can be found here to information on, among other things, forensic anthropology, poisons and deadly chemicals, bones, weapons, cyber crime, and dental evidence


For Indie Authors

The Carnival of The Indies feature on website continues to be a fount of information for indie authors. This month Carnival #83 includes blogger posts on My Fourth Year in Self-Publishing; The Quick and Easy Guide to Using Beta Readers; 5 lessons I Learned About Blogging; How I Accumulated 38,000 Twitter Followers by social media expert, Frances Caballo, and my recent blog, Before You Hit the Publish Button.

An Indispensable Writing Tool

Grammarly is a recommended website for authors by publisher Penguin Random House. It is #1 on Penguin’s list of 15 Top Creative Writing Blogs That Are Actually Helpful. Penguin describes it as a “beautifully presented and engaging blog.”  The website touts itself as the “world’s most accurate grammar checker,” and can apparently identify correctly spelled words that are used in the wrong context. That means no more errors using “there” instead of “their.” It’s free and it scans your writing for “proper use of more than 400 advanced grammar rules” including subject-verb agreement, article use and modifier placement.



Photo Credits: Aaron Sorkin by




  1. Great stuff as usual Joanna 🙂 And congrats on your blog being featured on the Book Designer!!

  2. Great tips! Thank you for the research that went into finding these.

  3. Pingback: On My Holiday Wishlist: Why It's Not Books! - JOANNA ELM, Author, Journalist, Attorney

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