Friday, December 27, 2019

Fun Sites

As a belated Christmas gift, here are some of my favorite sites for writers and readers.

Fun Stuff

The purpose of CityLab is to tell the story of the world’s cities: how they work, the challenges they face, and the solutions they need. My favorite recent story is why kids love garbage trucks.  (Having something large and a little scary do the same chore each week is kind of magical, especially when a friendly driver always waves “Hi.” Also, kids love dumping stuff.)

Gizmodo is a design, technology, science and science fiction website. It has lots of neat articles and posts, cool maps, and links to the latest in science fiction TV and movies so you can get your Mandalorian fix. Gizmodo Design takes a people-centric approach to covering software, architecture, and more and analyzes why products and systems look and work in the way that they do. The section called Field Guides covers gadgets and how to make them work better for you.

If you write science fiction and need an idea for a spaceship or just like looking at cool stuff that zips through outer space, this is the site for you.

Want to know how your smartphone is listening to you or what apps steal your data? Check out Kim Komando’s tech website. It’s not scary but written clear enough for even those of us who still find our new microwave oven's controls confusing. Why are you looking at me like that? You know you can’t figure yours out either.

I love the sciency stuff and Science Friday is one of the best. It’s fun for the brain, an entertaining, informational show produced by public radio. The most recent show discusses the best board games and science books for the layman in case you need to spend that gift card. Then check out the 2019 Ig Nobel Prize Ceremony, a tribute to offbeat and quirky scientific studies. (The researchers who won the economics prize tested which country’s paper money is best at transmitting dangerous bacteria.)

Writing Stuff

This is a nifty site from Purdue University that’s open access for the public. It’s not just for academics. They have easy to understand explanations for grammar, word usage, and punctuation and good articles on the writing process.

From the blog by Suzannah Windsor Freeman, the title says it all. These aren’t just short tips, but links to blogs with a detailed discussion of particular issues.

For the writer and the hypochondriac in all of us. WebMD is written for the layman so it’s the perfect site to find just the right disease to inflict on a character.

Reedsy is great for writers looking for help. The site has professionals for hire such as editors, book designers, cover artists, and the like, especially helpful for self-publishers. Reedsy also produces an interesting blog and has lists of tools, book promotion sites and writing contests.

Speaking of tools…ProWritingAid
I was leery of writing tools, but ProWritingAid changed that. It has a lot of interesting features, a strong editing interface and is great for catching grammar errors. More importantly, I found it easier to use with a smaller learning curve  than Grammerley and Scrivener. Also, it’s reasonably priced. Grammerley has free a version to download or you can upgrade to premium. ProWritingAid and Scrivener both have free trials. Each site has pluses and minuses, so try before you buy. ProWritingAid and the others are no substitute for a human editor, but help to polish that first draft. If you’re thinking of a writing tool, check them out.

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