I devote a lot of blog space to artists and writers. But what this blog is really about is creating stories. And where would a story be without a reader? Every writer and illustrator I know cites a love of childhood books as the inspiration for their career path. So today's post features two opportunities for readers. Both have been mentioned in LikeWise before, but I felt they were worth a second look.
Are you the type who can't be without a good read? Do you stack books on your bedside table or in your Kindle? Would you like to be the first to read the latest books and best of all, get them for free?
Then check out Teenreads Teen Board. Teenreads.com provides books reviews, author interviews, previews of upcoming books, polls, a blog and newsletter. Their Teen Board consists of thirty volunteer teens who review books, write blog posts, provide feedback and answer a monthly "Teen Board Question." Volunteer hopefuls can apply this summer for the next session. Before you do, be sure you're willing to commit to a year of service, running from September 2016 through August 2017. Potential candidates should be avid readers and good writers. You have to live in the U.S to be eligible, but those outside the country are invited to apply as blog writers. It sounds like a great place to showcase your talents and meet other book lovers.
The second opportunity empowers readers. The Harry Potter Alliance connects readers and encourages them to make a positive difference in the world. They donate books to needy children, advocate for issues important to book fans and gather to share stories, motivate and inspire. There are chapters across the globe. If you can't find one near you, HPA gives you the tools to start one. And they do have a contest. Members are encouraged to join one of the Houses from the HP story: Gryffindor, Ravenclaw, Slytherin or Hufflepuff. The Houses accumulate points by completing tasks, like donating books. The current champion is Ravenclaw, whose members accumulated over 200,000 points in the 2015 Accio Books campaign. So what are you doing this summer? Got room in your schedule for a HP chapter?
LikeWise began in January of this year, as a search for online venues that connect teen artists, writers and readers with like-minded souls. For my final post of 2015, I'm reviewing what I found.
The most impressive sites were created by fans of authors John Green and J.K Rowling. Nerdfighters and The Harry Potter Alliance connect readers like never before. They've built a legion of reader activists who use their love of story to fuel positive changes, like sending a plane load of supplies to hurricane survivors, forcing corporate giants to practice fair trade, and battling ogres who threaten net neutrality. The Nerdfighters site offers seemingly endless opportunities to connect with all creative types. And The Harry Potter Alliance continues to reach out to the reader community. Next March, they'll present The Granger Leadership Academy, where teams will help attendees develop hero skills. So readers, if you haven't checked them out, what are you waiting for?
Sites for writers and visual artists are harder to find. NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) is by far the most notable. It offers young novelists support and a discussion forum. Since the focus is on penning an entire novel in November, I'm not sure how long the connections and support last beyond that month. But it's certainly a place to meet teen writers and those relationships could grow beyond the event. For artists, The Art Assignment is a a fun, interactive project hosted by John Green's wife, Sarah. Guest artists present challenges and creative fans post their results on YouTube. It's ongoing, so you can participate when time allows and when it doesn't, pop in to keep up with the projects of your new online friends.
In August, I presented a Plethora of Artistic Links, including contests and opportunities to submit writing and art for publication. When I couldn't find more venues for artists and writers to connect, I drifted toward sites for creative minds: The Maker Movement, inventors, young and old, using technology to fabricate wondrous things; Imagination Foundation, collaborators who create with cardboard, and TED, the place to view and hear people with big ideas. They're fascinating places that feed the mind and fuel creativity.
To be sure, I'm not the most experienced researcher, or the most patient. While fantastic websites may have escaped my feeble fingers, I was thrilled to find an abundance of regional programs, many of them offered through libraries and museums. Nothing beats physical connections. What's important is finding people you trust to share your work with. Whether it's in person or online, I wish you rewarding relationships in 2016.
I write middle grade and young adult books with a magical twist. And creatures, always creatures. I'm represented by the fabulous Leslie Zampetti of Dunham Lit.
Lorin Oberweger - Freelance Editor