Over the past few years, I've come to see the internet is the author's best friend. Three primary reasons spring to mind, though I'm sure there are others:
1) RESEARCH. I can't believe that once-upon-a-time, not too long ago, I would have to go to a library to research my books. Medical issues, cultural/regional information, historical facts. All of it now, available online, click of the mouse. Saves me a trip to the library, some gas money, and more importantly, time. Amazing. Of course, we have to be careful where the internet information comes from. As I tell my students during their research projects, even a 12-year-old can create a web page these days. So, accuracy and reliability are KEY.
2) FELLOWSHIP WITH OTHER (STRUGGLING) WRITERS. Messageboards, blogs, writer-friendly sites - all of it is here, right inside my computer. If I need a question answered about status inquiries, I go to a messageboard to see how other writers are handling it. If I need extra encouragement from other writers, I visit a blog and realize I'm not alone. If I need information on how to write a solid query letter or advice on editing, it's online, too. Everything I need, free and easy.
3) CONTACT WITH PUBLISHED AUTHORS. Just today, I stumbled upon this blog by one of my favorite (British) authors, Raffaella Barker. Her blogs are just as witty as her books. I love how accessible some published authors make themselves (some even have their own Facebook or Myspace pages!), and I enjoy following their writer's journey online. So much fun, to peek behind the scenes and see how things "really" are for them.
I *Heart* the Internet!!