Scott Marlowe, fantasy author

Scott Marlowe

Author of the Alchemancer and Assassin Without a Name fantasy series

My "Go to" Reference Books

I'm in full edit mode now, hammering and chiseling away at the first draft of The Nullification Engine (The Alchemancer, Book Two). As part of my first pass edit, I'm rewriting or removing anything that doesn't fit with the final narrative, cleaning up anything that was left in a messy state (whether intentional or not), substituting "better" words or descriptions where appropriate, and, last, cleaning up any questionable grammar and incorrect spelling.

All the fun stuff.

While on this journey, I'm finding myself with four essential reference books by my side at all times. These books, as shown above, are: The Emotion Thesaurus, The Synonym Finder, The Chicago Manual of Style, and the Flip Dictionary (which, unfortunately, has gone out-of-print). I've written about The Synonym Finder before (in fact, it's one of my all-time Top 10 viewed posts), but wanted to take a quick look at each of these books right here in this post.

Hopefully you'll find one or more of them useful as well.

The Emotion Thesaurus

The Emotion Thesaurus breaks down the myriad ways for a writer to convey emotion.

An example:

Doubt

Definition: to lack confidence in or consider unlikely

Physical Signals: brows drawing close, face tightening; looking down or away; running hands through hair; tapping fingers (more omitted)

Mental Responses: Searching for ideas on how to circumvent the situation (more omitted)

Cues of Acute or Long-Term Doubt: Avoiding speaking or agreeing openly (more omitted)

You get the idea. There are about fifty or so emotions given similar treatment. I've found it a quick guide to find other ways to highlight a character's response to something as I tend to use the same set of emotions too often. This allows me to better match the emotional response of a particular character with their actual make-up, making each character just a bit more unique.

It's an Amazon Top Seller too, so someone else other than me must find it useful.

The Synonym Finder

The Synonym Finder is, at its simplest, a thesaurus. In my previous review, I had this to say:

The Synonym Finder reads like a dictionary, except instead of word definitions it's chock full of synonyms. To find a synonym, you simply flip open the book, find your keyword alphabetically, and you're presented with a listing of synonyms. Straightforward and simple.

I think that pretty much says it all. This is a great reference book to have at-hand.

The Chicago Manual of Style

Among U.S. book publishers, The Chicago Manual of Style is the most widely used guide to style, editing, and design. My own editor asked at the start of our business relationship if I was alright with him using it as his de facto reference guide. I said 'yes', but then realized I probably should get a copy for myself to use as my own reference. It's not something I refer to very often while working on a first draft, but it is something I intend to keep close as I'm working on subsequent revisions.

Flip Dictionary

Unfortunately, the Flip Dictionary has gone out of print. Bummer. You can still find used copies on Amazon and elsewhere, though. I frequent Half-Priced Books every once in a while, so that might be another option if you have one in your area.

The Flip Dictionary is the reverse of a dictionary. You think of a meaning, such as "the study of glands", and the Flip Dictionary provides the word (in this case, endocrinology). It's another handy tool to have in the tool-belt.

Book Reviewer Sites

Courtesy of Grasping for the Wind, which unfortunately just announced they are going on an indefinite hiatus, I give you the most comprehensive listing of speculative fiction review sites on this web or any other.

GftW compiled it with submission requests from individuals. I merely reproduce it here for your perusal.

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

Romanian French Chinese Danish Portuguese German

A


52 Weeks of Geek
7 Foot Shelves
A Bibliophile’s Reverie
A Boy Goes on a Journey
The Accidental Bard
Adarna SF
A Dribble Of Ink
Adventures in Reading
A Fantasy Reader
A Fantastical Librarian
The Agony Column
A Hoyden’s Look at Literature
A Journey of Books
Allan Bard
All Booked Up
Alexia’s Books and Such…
The Alternative
Andromeda Spaceways
Anomalous Thoughts
The Antick Musings of G.B.H. Hornswoggler, Gent.
ask nicola
A Southern Fried Weirdo
Audiobook DJ
aurealisXpress
Australia Specfic In Focus
Author 2 Author
AzureScape

B


Barbara Martin
Babbling about Books
Beauty in Ruins
Bees (and Books) on the Knob
Best SF
Bewildering Stories
Bibliobabes
Bibliophile Stalker
Bibliosnark
Big Dumb Object
BillWardWriter.com
The Billion Light-Year Bookshelf
Bitten by Books
The Black Abyss
The Black Library Blog
Blog, Jvstin Style
Blood of the Muse
Book Addict
The Book Bind
Book Den
Bookgeeks
Book in a Series
Book Love Affair
Bookrastination
Book Series Reviews
Booksies Blog
Bookslut
Books on the Knob
The Book Smugglers
Bookspotcentral
The Book Swede
Bookthing
Book View Cafe [Authors Group Blog]
Brain Harvest
Breeni Books
Brenda Loves Books
Brittany’s Fantasy

C


Calico Reaction
The Canary
Cheaper Ironies [pro columnist]
Charlotte’s Library
Circlet 2.0
Civilian Reader
Cheryl’s Musings
Club Jade
Conor P. Dempsey
Cranking Plot
Critical Mass
Croft Fantasy Book Reviews
The Crotchety Old Fan
Curling Up By The Fire

D


Daily Dose – Fantasy and Romance
Damien G. Walter
Danger Gal
Darkeva’s Dark Delights
Dark Faerie Tales
It’s Dark in the Dark
Dark Parables
Dark Wolf Fantasy Reviews
Darque Reviews
Dave Brendon’s Fantasy and Sci-Fi Weblog
Dazed Rambling
Dead Book Darling
Dear Author
The Deckled Edge
The Discriminating Fangirl
The Doctor is In…
Don’t Need Reason
Dragons, Heroes and Wizards
Drey’s Library
Drying Ink
Dusk Before the Dawn

E


Edi’s Book Lighthouse
Enter the Octopus
Erotic Horizon
Errant Dreams Reviews
Eve’s Alexandria

F


Falcata Times
Fantastic Reviews
Fantastic Reviews Blog
Fantasy Book Banner
Fantasy Book Critic
Fantasy Book Reviews and News
Fantasy By the Tale
Fantasy Cafe
Fantasy Debut
Fantasy Dreamer’s Ramblings
Fantasy Literature.com
Fantasy Magazine
Fantasy and Sci-fi Lovin’ News and Reviews
Far Beyond Reality
Feminist SF – The Blog!
Feybound
Fiction is so Overrated
The Fix
Floor to Ceiling Books
Flying off the Shelves
The Foghorn Review
Follow that Raven
Forbidden Planet
Frances Writes
Frazzled Book Nommer
Free Book Reviews
Free SF Reader
Frida Fantastic
From a Sci-Fi Standpoint
From the Heart of Europe
Fruitless Recursion
Functional Nerds
Fundamentally Alien
The Future Fire

G


The Galaxy Express
Galleycat
Game Couch
The Gamer Rat
Garbled Signals
The Geeky Bookworm
Genre Reviews
Genreville [Publishers Weekly]
Got Schephs
Graeme’s Fantasy Book Review
Grasping for the Wind
The Great Gnome Press Science Fiction Odyssey
a GREAT read
The Green Man Review
Gripping Books

H


Hasenpfeffer
Hero Complex
Horrorscope
Hot Cup of Coffee
Hyperpat’s Hyper Day

I


I Hope I Didn’t Just Give Away The Ending
I Smell Sheep
Ink and Keys
Ink and Paper
The Internet Review of Science Fiction
io9
It is the Business of the Future to Be Dangerous

J


Janicu’s Book Blog
Jenn’s Bookshelf
Johnny Oops
Judging a Book by Its Cover
Jumpdrives and Cantrips
Just Another Rabid Reader

K


Kat Bryan’s Corner
Keeping the Door
Keep Your Bridges Burning
King of the Nerds
The King of Elfland’s 2nd Cousin

L


La Bloga
Lair of the Undead Rat
Largehearted Boy
Layers of Thought
League of Reluctant Adults
LEC Book Reviews
Legends of Fantasy
The Lensman’s Children
Library Dad
Libri Touches
Lincoln Crisler
Literary Escapism
Literary Musings
Literaturely Speaking
Little Red Reviewer
ludis inventio
The Luminous Page
Lundblog: Beautiful Letters
Lupines and Lunatics
Lytherus

M


Mad Hatter’s Bookshelf and Book Review
Mari’s Midnight Garden
Mark Freeman’s Journal
Marooned: Science Fiction Books on Mars
Martin’s Booklog
MentatJack
The Metanautics Department
Michele Lee’s Book Love
Missions Unknown [Author and Artist Blog Devoted to SF/F/H in San Antonio]
The Mistress of Ancient Revelry
MIT Science Fiction Society
Mithril Wisdom
Monster Librarian
More Words, Deeper Hole
Mostly Harmless Books
Multi-Genre Fan
Musings from the Weirdside
MyBlog2.0
My Bookish Ways
My Favourite Books
My Overstuffed Bookshelf

N


Neth Space
The New Book Review
NextRead
Nocturne Romance Reads
Not Free SF Reader
Nuketown

O


OCD, Vampires, and Rants, o my!
Odd Engine
OF Blog of the Fallen
The Old Bat’s Belfry
ommadawn.dk
Omphalos Book Reviews
On A Pale Star
Only The Best SciFi/Fantasy
Ooh…Books!
The Ostentatious Ogre
Outside of a Dog

P


Paper Spaceships
Paranormality
Pat’s Fantasy Hotlist
Patricia’s Vampire Notes
The Persistence of Vision
Piaw’s Blog
Pink Raygun
Pizza’s Book Discussion
Poisoned Rationality
pornokitsch
Post-Weird Thoughts
Praetor Naturam
Publisher’s Weekly
Punkadiddle
Pussreboots: A Book Review a Day

Q


R


Rachel Cotterill Book Reviews
Ramblings of a Raconteur
Random Acts of Mediocrity
The Ranting Dragon
Rants on Unicorns and Spaceships
Ray Gun Revival
Realms of Speculative Fiction
The Reader Eclectic
Read. Breathe. Relax.
Reading Fairy Tales
Reading the Leaves
Reid Kemper’s Science Fiction Blog
Rememorandum
Review From Here
Review Haven: Fantasy and Sci-Fi
Reviewer X
Revolution SF
Rhiannon Hart
The Road Not Taken
Rob’s Blog o’ Stuff
Robots and Vamps

S


Sacramento Book Review
Sandstorm Reviews
Satisfying the Need to Read
Science Fiction Times
ScifiChick
Sci-Fi Blog
Sci-Fi Bloggers
Sci-Fi Bookworm
SciFiGuy
Sci-Fi Fan Letter
The Sci-Fi Gene
Sci-Fi Songs [Musical Reviews]
SciFi Squad
Scifi UK Reviews
Sci Fi Wire
Scribbler to Scribe
Self-Publishing Review
SF Diplomat
SFFaudio
SFFMedia
SF Gospel
SFReader.com
SF Reviews.net
SF Revu
SF Safari
SFScope
SF Signal
SF Site
SFF World’s Book Reviews
Shawn Lazarus
She Never Slept
Sift Book Reviews
Silver Reviews
Silver Thistles
Simply Vamptastic
Skull Salad Reviews
Slice of SciFi
Sniffly Kitty’s Mostly Books
Solar Flare
Speculative Book Review
Speculative Fiction
Speculative Fiction Examiner
Speculative Fiction Junkie
Speculative Horizons
The Speculative Scotsman
The Specusphere
Spinebreakers
Spiral Galaxy Reviews
Splashdown Reviews
Spontaneous Derivation
Sporadic Book Reviews
Stainless Steel Droppings
The Stamp (of Approval)
Starting Fresh
State of Review
Stella Matutina
Stomping on Yeti
Stuff as Dreams are Made on…
Succotash Book Reviews
The Sudden Curve
Sugarpeach
The Sword Review

T


Tales from the Black Abyss
Tangent Online
Teens Read and Write
Tehani Wessely
Temple Library Reviews
Tez Says
Thinking About Books
things mean a lot
Thoughts About Books
Tor.com
True Science Fiction
Tyrion Frost’s Fantasy Blog

U


Ubiquitous Absence
Un:Bound
undeadbydawn
Unorthodox Mama
Urban Fantasy Land
Utter Randomonium

V


Val’s Random Comments
Vast and Cool and Unsympathetic
Variety SF
Vilutheril Reviews
Vons Books

W


Wag the Fox
Waiting for Fairies
Walk into Mordor
Walker of Worlds
Wands and Worlds
Wanderings
Wendy Palmer: Reading and Writing Genre Books and ebooks
Weirdmage’s Reviews
The Weirdside
The Wertzone
With Intent to Commit Horror
The Wizard of Duke Street
WJ Fantasy Reviews
Wolfe and Raine
The Word Nest
Wordsville
Wordtipping
The World in a Satin Bag
WriteBlack
Writing About Reading
Writing Ex Libris
The Written World
The Wrong Place at the Wrong Time
The Wry Writer

X


Y


Young Adult Science Fiction
Your Shelf Life

Z


Romanian


Cititor SF [with English Translation]

French


Elbakin.net
Mythologica

Chinese


Foundation of Krantas
The SF Commonwealth Office in Taiwan [with some English essays]
Yenchin’s Lair

Danish


Interstellar
Ommadawn.dk

Portuguese


Aguarras
Fernando Trevisan
Human 2.0
Life and Times of a Talkative Bookworm
Ponto De Convergencia
pós-estranho
Science Fiction Made in Brasil
Skavis

German


Fantasy Seiten
Fantasy Buch
Fantasy/SciFi Blog
Literaturschock
Welt der fantasy
Bibliotheka Phantastika
SF Basar
Phantastick News
X-zine
Buchwum
Phantastick Couch
Wetterspitze
Fantasy News
Fantasy Faszination
Fantasy Guide

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

Romanian French Chinese Danish Portuguese German

Online References, Part 6: Fun With Words

There are a lot of online reference resources out there. In this short series, I'm going to highlight just some of them. Here are the primary types I'll take a look at:

  1. Dictionaries
  2. Thesauri
  3. Quotations
  4. Style & Grammar
  5. Word of the Day
  6. Fun With Words (this post)

Web Sites

Scrabble Word Finder
We didn't have such things back in my Scrabble playing days, but this looks like a useful tool for generating words.

Dictionary.com Word Dynamo
How many words do you know?

FreeDictionary.com Idioms
A bunch of idioms.

Idiom Site
More idioms.

OneLook Reverse Dictionary
OneLook's reverse dictionary lets you describe a concept and get back a list of words and phrases related to that concept.

Word Oddities
Weird stuff. Reminds me of the odd things to come out of the Golden Ratio.

Wordnik Random Word
Each time you click on the link you're given a different word.

YourDictionary: Word Finder
YourDictionary's Word Finder will give you the help you need to beat the competition in games like Words With Friends and Scrabble.

YourDictionary: Words That Start With…
Find that word you know starts with…

@Twitter

Online References, Part 5: Word of the Day

There are a lot of online reference resources out there. In this short series, I'm going to highlight just some of them. Here are the primary types I'll take a look at:

  1. Dictionaries
  2. Thesauri
  3. Quotations
  4. Style & Grammar
  5. Word of the Day (this post)
  6. Fun With Words

Web Sites

@Twitter

Online References, Part 4: Style & Grammar

There are a lot of online reference resources out there. In this short series, I'm going to highlight just some of them. Here are the primary types I'll take a look at:

  1. Dictionaries
  2. Thesauri
  3. Quotations
  4. Style & Grammar (this post)
  5. Word of the Day
  6. Fun With Words

Web Sites

APA Style
APA Style was first developed 80 years ago by a group of social scientists who wished to establish sound standards of communication. Since that time, it has been adopted by leaders in many fields and has been used by writers around the world.

The Chicago Manual of Style Online
Not free, but one of the de facto standards.

Common Errors in English Usage
Lots and lots of common errors.

Daily Grammar
Daily Grammar is a fun, convenient way to learn grammar.

The Elements of Style by William Strunk, Jr.
The book we all know and love, online.

Grammar Girl
One of the best resources for “quick and dirty” tips.

GrammarBook.com
Some online information or you can buy the full book, The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation.

Guide to Grammar and Style by Jack Lynch
Lots of advice here.

Lifehack Guide to Grammar and Writing
A collection of links from the Capital Community College Foundation.

Modern English Grammar
Advice from the College of DuPage.

The Slot
A spot for copyeditors (but I think they’ll let writers in, too).

UT Austin Writer’s Style Guide
Some style tips from UT.


@Twitter