Links to Sites Worth Visiting

Mainly other writers' sites, and sites of interest to writers



SHORT STORIES & FICTION WRITING

Do you write short stories? If you do you'll probably know how difficult it is to get them (paper) published,and how little you will be paid even if you do, so it probably makes better sense to enter your best stories in one of the larger Short Story Competitions, where your chances of success won't be that much different but the reward will be a great deal larger if you're successful. Even the second and third prizes in competitions like the Fish and the Bridport are likely to beat what you'll get for publication in a small magazine.

You'll find a very extensive list of publication outlets for short stories, with a UK bias, on the Jacqui Bennett Writers Bureau site. There are several competitions (with small entry fees) operated from the same site, but I have never tried these so can offer no advice. On a general word of caution, there are a large number of seemingly genuine sites operating poetry and short story competitions where quite substantial entry fees are charged, sometimes called "reading fees" or the like. I would avoid a site where a fee is charged unless there is definite evidence that the competition has been running for some time and the people running it have an off-Net presence of some kind. It's a harsh world out there and the Internet is awash with people keen to relieve you of your hard-earned cash!

If you are just looking for publication as distinct from income or competition laurels you can submit on-line to the American literary quarterly Glimmertrain. At one time there was a flat rate payment of $500 for each story published (12,000 words maximum) and they still claim to pay for anything they publish, but the size of the payment is no longer mentioned on their website. They also run a number of competitions, with nominal entry fees. The main disadvantage for European writers is the strong American bias of the site stories lacking an American dimension won't be accepted.

Alternatively, if profit isn't your immediate aim, you can publish on the Net. The obvious way is to set up your own web page as I have done (and if you can't do as good a job as I have you should perhaps consider suicide) but it isn't necessarily the best option for everyone, as it is time-consuming and can "take over" so that making web pages becomes the dominant activity and writing stories the secondary one (although of course I wouldn't know anything about that). If this path interests you take, a look at some of the writers' sites that you will find in the various Web Rings linked to the Rings Page of this site. Bear in mind though that even a very good writer's home page will get no visits if people don't know it's there. You need to find ways to promote your website, and this is far from easy. A very good example of a writer's personal site is my friend Jo Copsey's Home Page This is an example of a straightforward, well-designed page set up by a talented amateur.

Claire Nixon is someone just starting out as a writer and her web site is growing from day to day. She has now started a literary magazine of her own, Twisted Tongue. Have a look by clicking on the banner:-

Simply Claire

Another option is to submit your work to one of the special sites that function as free access facilities for people who like to write stories and people who like to read them. The number of free sites available for writers to display their work is staggering, and I will only mention a few that I think have some merit, or no merit at all and should be avoided! I began this way and my novel SIRAT first saw the light of day on a site called Elfwood, which is a dedicated fantasy and science fiction site, but has since become hyper-sensitive about "bad language", and veered away from adult fiction towards fairytale and children's stuff. SIRAT is no longer there, as I would have had to filter out all swear-words, but it's still an attractive and well-run site.

A rather better science fiction and fantasy site is Quantum Muse, which vets contributions prior to publication and maintains a high standard. A recent off-shoot of Quantum Muse is a general interest news/satire/humour magazine called The Frantics which also accepts reader's contributions. The flavour is strongly North American but the wit is universal.

ABC Tales, run by the same people who publish The Big Issue magazine in the UK, was once the pick of the bunch for Brits wanting to web publish their stories, but is now somewhat in decline. The editors award "cherries" to the stories they like best, which is a frequent cause of friction and discontent. The ABC forums unfortunately attract a lot of the wrong kind of contributors and have no effective mechanism for getting rid of them.

UK Authors, my current undoubted favourite, is a workshop, resource and discussion site mainly (though not exclusively)for authors working in the UK, offering showcase examples of writers' work and allowing readers a space to comment. To cover costs it now asks for an annual subscription of 10 (or foreign currency equivalent) to become a full member. It has a friendly club atmosphere and a feature called SHOUT BOX, which is something I haven't seen before, giving users access to a front page banner message board that all the other visitors are able to see. You will find many of the ABC Tales writers here, using the same log-on names.

UK Authors.com

UK Authors has recently expanded into the world of publishing, giving birth to UKA Press, effectively a non-profit-driven writers' collective, offering a path to print for top quality work which would be unlikely to be taken up by the more "commercial" publishing world. They are one of the very few places where a poetry or short story collection can reach non-vanity print publication. Each year the Press publishes an anthology of the best writing from the UK Authors web site, democratically selected by the members of the site. The idea has now been copied elsewhere but UK Authors were the first to do it as far as I am aware. Andrea Lowne, the co-founder with Richard harris of UK Authors has a very impressive and rapidly expanding writer's site of her own which is well worth a look:

Andrea Lowne's home page

Another ABC Tales and UK Authors writer who has an interesting site of his own is Allen Murray, a civil airline Captain and veteran aviator, who writes hilarious short items about his experiences and has collected his reminiscences into a much awaited book, Skytrucker. You can get to his web site or to the book's sale page on Amazon UK by clicking on the icons below.

Allen Murray's Home Page           Skytrucker Book

Tales Etc. is a site that doesn't automatically accept everything submitted and therefore doesn't become littered with material that only the author could love. A little bit serious in tone for me but make up your own mind.

The Speculative Fiction Centre is another new site that is selective and publishes fiction of a high quality that the editors feel comes within the "speculative" category. They have also published an anthology of the best writing on the site and plan to publish more. As well as the stories the site is worth a visit for its highly original and imaginative artwork.

The Speculative Fiction Centre

Storymania is a big American free fiction-publishing site where readers do seem to take the trouble to review your work and give you feedback. Submitted items are, the site owners claim, automatically assessed for possible print publication, though the actual process is a bit unclear. ABC Tales and indeed most sites make similar claims but I think they should be taken with a pinch of salt.

With the demise of Inkspot, the huge writers' resource site run by Xlibris, the smaller scale operation Fiction Factor has taken over as a general resource center for writers of all kinds. Their links page is particularly good, and they provide a listing for free fiction on the Net, and for paper and electronic publishing opportunities of all kinds.

"Interactive" stories of the cumulative kind, where sucessive visitors add a bit to carry the plot forward, have become very popular on the Net. It can be fun to join in, but the end product is usually pretty unreadable. Valerie Mates is a woman who has come up with a particularly sucessful program to allow people to contribute to a story. It makes use of two-way branching (a bit like my Multiverse story) but the options are set up by the readers. You can find a good example of her story software in action Here

Writing.com is perhaps the best-known and longest established interactive story centre on the Web, but it also provides the most dreadful examples of all the shortcomings of the format: complicated, rambling multi-branched stories that really only exist to exploit the possibilities of hypertext links. There must be at least one gem in there somewhere but I haven't found it yet. Nevertheless, the site is thriving. You can submit ordinary stories and poems there as well, but with close to one million items on offer the site is so overpacked that the chances of any individual item getting read are almost zero. Bigger isn't necessarily better where writers' sites are concerned.

Sci Fi Dimensions is a good all-round science fiction site, with book reviews, original fiction, interviews and a monthly short story competition. Good looking, easy to navigate, and always of a high standard.

Another international writers' showcase site is Footsteps to Oxford, which has been around for about three years but which I have only come across lately. It has a friendly and welcoming atmosphere and a down-to-earth commitment to good writing and high artistic standards. Click the banner to pay a visit:

Footsteps to Oxford



FILM LINKS

1. GENERAL

The core database and and reference source for film information on the Internet is The Internet Movie Database, often abbreviated to "IMDb", which is operated by Amazon.com. If you use the Internet at all for film inquiries you probably already know about it. There are a number of other sites such as Movie Review Choices, and Reel.com that fulfil similar functions but none in the same class as IMDb.

Here are some more useful film links with a brief explanation of what they are:

Virgin Net Cinema is a good place to go for up-to-date British cinema listings, and reviews of current British releases.

Movie Review Query Engine should be your first stop if you just want a review. It's database seems to be even bigger than IMDb for reviews (though it doesn't have the full range of information on a film that you would find at IMDb) and it's very well designed and easy to navigate.

MovieWeb is a smaller scale site than some of the others but it is particularly good for details and reviews of films before they come out.

CNN.com has an excellent Entertainment section that gives independent reviews on whatever new movies are about to be released in the 'States. It lets you know what's on the way and doesn't pull its punches.

AllMoviePhoto.com

AllMoviePhoto.com is a site where you can download thousands of stills from recent movies free. Well designed and easy to navigate. A great site for movie lovers.

BadMovies.Org is a site devoted to the very worst in filmed entertainment. Recommendations for inclusion are welcomed.

Science Fiction Film Archives are the speciality of this excellent review site which is part of the Swedish Lysator organization. It's one of the few places where you can find science fiction separated-out as a genre and not bundled together with horror, supernatural and the like. An excellent source of reviews and information.

KillerReviews.com

KillerReviews.com is a great site to go to to find reviews of horror films. You can join and become one of their reviewers too.

Dennis Schwartz is one of the best individual film critics about at the moment (which means that I agree with him about most things).

The UK Critic is the name Ian Waldron Mantgani has chosen for himself on the Net (I wonder if he thinks he's the only UK critic?). Anyway, he is, genuinely, very good. Even when I don't agree with him I have to admire the way he writes.

Two other independent critics who are worth a look are: Mike D'Angelo and Andrew Chan, possibly the youngest movie reviewer on the Net when he started out, but probably in his early twenties now.

2. CLASSIC & WORLD CINEMA

About Entertainment, once oddly titled "The Mining Company Classic Movies", offers a site that is an absolute delight for lovers of classic (including silent) cinema. Particularly good for downloading posters and images related to the classic movie world.

Full Alert Film Review is a new(ish) magazine-format site devoted to Independent and World Cinema. It's surprising how little there is outside of mainstream: this is one of the best.


GENERAL INTEREST

Cyberlife Research is the business site of the company set up by Steve Grand, the inventor of "Creatures" the artificial lifeform program, and his wife Ann. Read about Lucy, the robot orangutan they are building to test out some theories about the nature of consciousness and how it might be artificially created. You think I'm joking, don't you?

SETI, "The Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence" invites you to help at home by using the down-time of your computer to help look for patterns or signs of intelligence in signals they have received from space.

BBC News Front Page makes a very good home page for your browser. You get a quick overview of what has been happening in the UK and around the world since you last logged-on.

Click here for Internet Tips And Secrets! Learn what the webmasters know. Find out all of the special secrets. Discover safe surfing.

Internet Tips And Secrets This web site presents a series of articles about how to use the internet to your best advantage. Here are the internet tips and secrets about how to use guestbooks, message boards, banners, awards, home pages, search engines, metatags, asp, cgi, java, javascript and many other things. You'll also learn about the dangers, including viruses, trojan horses, hackers, scams and frauds. Worth a look - even if you think you already know it all.

Harry Leichter's Jewish Humor Site is the place to go for jokes with a Jewish flavor. Part of a bigger site called "Jewish Stuff". I think Woody Allen must visit here regularly.

The Birdhouse in Dr. Ashen's Soul is every bit as strange as the name suggests. Acres of weird humor of every description. You'll either love it or find it totallly incomprehensible. Take a pack-lunch when you visit (and a bag of bird-seed, of course).

Worst of the Web Dead links, pages with faults that make your browser freeze up, mind-numbingly boring information about somebody's pet goldfish, webcams of dripping taps, massive graphic overloads that have your phone company rubbing its hands in glee, turgid rubbish about the "chicken photo of the month" - look no further, it's all here. Chosen to make you feel a bit better about your own site!

Java for Jesus is a site beyond parody and almost beyond description. I wouldn't want to ridicule anybody's religious faith, for one thing there's no need when they do it so effectively themselves. Be honest, where else are you going to find a link with the invitation "Click here for the Crucifixion" followed by the options "Thunder On" or "Thunder Off"?

Franko's Trailer Park is a good place to go for an introduction to the rural American way of life. No doubt sponsored by the USA Tourist Board.

Tourette Syndrome Barbie is worthy of a visit for anyone with a sympathetic concern for the plight of the afflicted.

Love Songs for People Who Have Been in Love More Than Once is the name Paul Kruger uses for this expanding collection of his love-song lyrics, where you will also find links to complete librettos of his musicals on other web pages. Normally I wouldn't be attracted to love songs or love poems, I'm a soulless sort of creature, but these are really exceptional: full of irony, self-mockery, cynicism, realism, disillusion: these are love poems with a difference. Songs of experience, not of innocence. They really got to me. Give them a try and see if they do the same for you.

While we're on the subject of poetry Dragonslave is the home page of a poet where you can find some rhyming and comprehensible offerings of a very high standard, looking at many aspects of life and love. Well worth a look.

Those with aspirations towards English village life should visit the web site of the Metropolitan Borough of Wazzocks End, set up by writer Roy Bateman, where they may learn what it is about the countryside that makes rural living so attractive to the English gentleman of means. Or then again they may not.







SEND ME AN EMAIL  email