Here are some links to websites I’ve visited that I think are pretty cool.
Please note that by sharing links to these websites, I do not necessarily endorse every nook and cranny of them. (For example, I could link to the Khan Academy’s channel on YouTube because his math videos rock, but by doing so, I don’t necessarily endorse every video that is publicly available through the YouTube website.) That said, please browse responsibly and especially if you’re a minor, check with your parents first before going online.
Some of the cool blogs I follow and enjoy.
- Julia the Writer Girl – Follow Julia Byers, young adult writer (she’s a young adult who writes 🙂 ) and co-founder of the Chapter One Young Writers Conference, as she blogs about her writing experiences and life as a busy college student. Every Wednesday, she alternates between posting about her writing process, sharing poems or songs she’s written, and excerpts of her NaNoWriMo novel. I think she’s really cool!
- Michael Gunter’s Tales – Michael Gunter is an ambitious teen writer who is writing a series of urban fantasy short stories called Hunter, which he shares for free on his blog, in addition to several novel-length works (including one set in the Hunter universe that I’m really excited about). He’s also posting a weekly serial called Twicebound, which I’m really enjoying.
- Claire M. Banschbach- Thoughts and Rants – Claire Banschbach is a medical student, homeschool graduate, and a published author (!!!). She published her religious fantasy novel, Rise of Aredor, in March 2014, and a sequel is currently in the works!
- Pencil Perfect – Becky Laine is the author of The Story of ABBA for Young Readers, a child-appropriate biography of the Scandinavian pop group ABBA, and this here is her art blog. She draws comic strips inspired by the Doctor Who and Broadchurch television shows, and has plenty of ABBA-related fan art. She never ceases to amaze me with her artistic talents!
- Scribbles – My friends on Young Writers Society, Sarah and Malachi, blog about all things writerly and lighthearted. They’ll share your fiction submissions and love having your input on what color fish should go in their sidebar’s virtual fishtank. 🙂 (Interestingly, we have the same banner image right now.) Go check them out, they’re awesome!
For Young Writers
- Young Writers Society – YWS is an online community for writers ages 13 and up. I think YWS is well-moderated site, and is great for young writers looking for peer review. They also organize several fun, writing-oriented activities, like a monthly “Review Day,” where the community competes to see who can review the most stories in 24 hours. (Many will enter, many will win.) Stories with mature or otherwise potentially offensive content are often marked accordingly, which is a plus if you want to avoid seeing that sort of thing. There is the occasional “uh-oh” moment, but if you bring it to a moderator’s attention, they’re quite diligent in getting back to you with a solution.
- Figment – This is another website for teens to post their writings for peer review in an interactive community. There are monthly contests, daily writing prompts you can sign up to receive via email (I think), and now online Q&A sessions with professionals in the writing world. I’ve found this site to be popular with trolls and spammers, and not every story posted there is fit for ten year olds (or prudish teens like myself :P), so please browse responsibly.
- Createspace – Createspace is an Amazon company, and enables independent authors to publish their stories as trade paperbacks that are distributed on their e-store, as well as big places like Amazon (well duh) and Barnes and Noble. You can also release CDs and DVDs through Createspace, which might come in handy if you’re producing an audiobook or a movie based on your book. 😉
- Lulu – Self-publish your stories as hardcover and softcover books to sell and print on demand.
- Blurb – Blurb does pretty much the same thing as Lulu and Createspace, but they have some really neat software to help you format the interior of your book attractively. (I’m going to keep this in mind for my big project….)
- Podiobooks – Podiobooks is a great site for independent authors to post audiobooks of their stories. This is where Mark Jeffrey, author of the Max Quick series, originally released his fabulous stories in audiobook format.
- Kindle Worlds – Kindle Worlds is a platform for publishing your fanfictions as Kindle books and actually getting paid for it! Kindle Worlds limits you to specific franchises or “worlds” they have secured licenses for and all that jazz. I have yet to try it for myself, but it sounds really fun.
- Morguefile – Terms and conditions apply, of course, but this site is great for finding nice pictures to use in creative projects, like DIY cover designing. I designed my own cover art using images from Morguefile, and I’m incredibly satisfied with the result!
For Conscientious Families
Movie content filters (which use programmed re-editing):
- EnJoy Movies Your Way – You can see my review of their services here. In a nutshell, EnJoy lets you program skip and mutes for your DVD movies while prescreening for your family; if you don’t want to do this yourself, they also have a nice library of downloadable, ready-made filters for a wide variety of titles, including several of the X-Men movies, Les Miserables, and Skyfall . Yes, you can now watch James Bond with your kids! 😀
- VidAngel – Filters streaming movies and TV shows (such as Sherlock) that have been purchased from sites like GooglePlay, Netflix, and YouTube through a Google Chrome browser extension (I think). They also filter viral YouTube videos, which is pretty neat. Their filters are crowdsourced, and their library of filtered movies has grown to over 700! Their services are free – all you have to pay for are the movies you want to see, which you’d have to do anyway.
- VLClean Player – This one just came out in November, and it’s run by two tech-savvy brothers. You can play your filtered movies with this VLC Media Player extension of sorts (hence the fantastic name). They are charging money for their premade filters, but the software itself is free. I’ve found it’s pretty easy and cool to learn how to program your own “clean files” of skips and mutes.
Multimedia parental advisories:
- Internet Movie Database – For most of the movies listed in this extensive database, there’s usually a detailed Parents Guide section which flags potentially offensive content in a variety of categories, such as Sex and Nudity, Violence, Frightening/Intense Scenes, and Drug/Alcohol Use. These guides are written by IMDB users, and are usually pretty accurate. (Caveat lector, there’s a lot more than just parental advisories on this site that chronicles every motion picture known to mankind. Please browse responsibly.)
- Common Sense Media – This site organizes its content advisories similarly to IMDB, but they don’t limit themselves to movies. They also review books, music, mobile apps, and video games.
- The Literate Mother – Run by a group of conscientious moms, this site provides content reviews for popular books, from classic to contemporary. Just beware, some of their advisories can be very detailed when it comes to describing exactly what’s wrong with a book. (Let’s just say that after reading their review for Ender’s Game, I neither wanted to read that book nor eat anything for a few hours.)