American author and blogger, Sonja Lewis, guides us around her favourite online haunts.

Sonja Lewis is an American writer, living in London. As such, she blogs about life in London on and also writes a blog for the Huffington Post UK. Author of two novels, The Barrenness and The Blindsided Prophet, Sonja has freelanced for The Guardian and has worked as a reporter for The Albany Herald, USA.

Before focusing on fiction full-time, she set up and ran a successful communications consultancy in the UK and worked with clients such as the Royal National Institute for the Blind (RNIB) and The World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS).

A member of the Society of Authors and English Pen, Sonja enjoys travelling and running, particularly alongside a body of water.

My Favourite Website… Vey hard call, as I can’t nail one down. I spend loads of time on the web, often doing research, which leads me to Amazon sometimes to buy a book, but not always. I have to be careful not to let modern day desk research replace people. When I started writing, desk research was a very different thing; it was combing papers and books on your desk and going to the library, the courthouse, the police department and all sorts of places to snag an interview. Now I comb websites via a Google search. Thus, I tend to check out the websites of experts in a field of interest or a favourite newspaper’s website - but I always come back to certain sites such as The Guardian, The HuffPost and the BBC

My Favourite App… Hands down, this has to be Facetime, if you can call it an app. While I can become obsessed with Arrow Words crosswords, for example, I value Facetime more than any other app for three reasons. First, it’s my main connection to my mother and father. Though we’re more than 4,000 miles apart, it puts us in the same room daily. The second is that it is easy and fuss free, a bit like plug and play, and that is really key when you are dealing with people in their late 70s. Finally, it is a bit exclusive. You know who has an Apple device and who doesn’t. I’m a bit intimidated by Skype, for example. I don’t really respond well to cold calls from strangers, unless they want to offer a book deal.

My Favourite Blog… It has to be Smashwords. E-book publishing continues to evolve and Mark Coker and the SW crew are on top of it. When I feel a bit lost, I can turn to this blog for breaking news and also for setting trends.

My Most Recent Buy Online… Umm, I bought a few things in the same day last week – some gifts from the British Museum, some lights for my hallway from Wayfair and some books from Amazon. Interestingly enough, the books were children’s books for nieces and nephews in the US. I wanted them to have something very English and with my hectic schedule, could only make it to a toy store, and not a bookstore. I got frustrated at the toy store. Though the books were beautiful, they weren’t categorized by age. So I turned to Amazon, hesitantly I might add. It still feels a bit like I haven’t bought from England. But what can I say, the web saved the day, once again.

My Favourite Tweeter… The Bookseller. I love their grab-you-by-the-throat tweets, offering the latest news in publishing. They tend to get my attention, no matter how busy I am.

My Pet Hate About Life Online… The trail that browsers leave really annoys me. When I have left a website, I don’t really want to hear from them again, unless I choose to go back but that’s unheard of. Everywhere I go – Facebook, Twitter, you name it – they are there. I know it is meant to be a marketing tool for conversions but it turns me off. Also, I don’t appreciate being pigeonholed. When I want to look up something in Georgia, though I am sitting in London, I find my search limiting and the other way around, too. That defeats the purpose, doesn’t it?

Social Media Allowed Me To Meet… I love connecting with like-minded writers, who I simply would not otherwise meet, were it not for social media. In one such relationship, a writer in the US and I have exchanged reviews as well as writing and publishing tips. I also connected with a pretty powerful agent and met up with her while visiting Atlanta. So I didn’t close the deal, but it was down to social media that we both felt confident enough to meet up as if we were old chums.

My Stand Out Online Memory… Having a glimpse of what’s behind a website is quite mind blowing and humbling. When I first set up my website, I tried to learn about HTML code. Not a chance, no matter how easy WordPress is! I’m really fortunate to have a computer whiz on the scene. The guy who heads up IT for my husband’s company takes care of this for me for a reasonable fee. Otherwise, I’d be really lost and really broke.

Most Worthwhile Mailer Subscribed To… This has to be emails from The Society of Authors. They run fantastic workshops, some on social media. They fill up quickly, so quickly that I have not managed to get into a desired one yet, but I love opening their emails and finding out what is on and then trying to get in.

November 2013.