Ah, writing.com. The first writing site I ever found and I maintain is still one of the best. It is a very large site, anything you can what to do is here. If you just want to read; you can do it. You just want to look through interactive stories; you can do it. Peotry, prose, fiction, non-fiction. Every genre under the sun is on here.
Some might criticize the size of the site. If you aren't paying attention you can find yourself very lost, not dissimilar to getting a new computer. But once you know what you want you're golden.
I am still on this site and I confess that I probably don't utilize it as much as I should. I use the features I like and for the most part ignore every thing else. I sometimes join in the chat. I review things every now and then. I race other users in the NaNo list every November. I use the mail.
But what I do most is post my work that is either not done or not through editing yet. Once something is getting close to being published I offer a reward for reviews and run with that.
It is a good community and a wonderful atmosphere.
They do have paid membership options (I have one of them) but it is not required to use the site. It does come with benefits for portfolio size and some variety of items. The rates are very reasonable and there is an "in site" currency of gift points if you will that if saved up long enough through doing "paid" review can be used to get a membership as well.
nanowrimo.org. A more recent discovery to me but not an unfamiliar one to other writers. This is a much more focused site dealing more with the annual occurrence of NaNoWriMo.
"And what," you ask, "is NaNoWriMo?"
nano, as we like to call it, stands for National Novel Writing Month. it occurs every year in November where the goal is to write a 50,000 word novel in one month. Not as daunting as you might think, it only takes a bit more that 1600 words a day to get there. If I 'm on a roll that I can do it in half a month and I know people that can do it in a week. It's kinda like a world wide writing game.
What might be it's criticize-able points, though they are still debatable, are that you can't store your work on it, so you can't read anyone else' or have them read yours for feedback unless you ask someone too and send it to them privately, I know it is good for copyright and all that but...anyway.
The nano counter is only active in November, while I can use the nano counter on writing.com at any time.
I don't know how active the forums are when it is not immediately before or after nano, but it is more of an event site as I said.
You see your progress and it is not lined up with anyone else, so you know your stats but you have to go looking for someone else. Makes a silent race more troublesome to carry out. But you could argue that nano is a contest with yourself anyway so to each their own.
They do list good resources in their forums and since everything is divided according to region it can be more close knit.
Good site, have fun in nano it can lead to surprises.
Webstarts.com is the site I used to originally create this website and host the domain name.There are lots of services that do this, this is just the one I used. A lot of people will try to tell you it is a scam because they will send you messages encouraging you to upgrade and saying that there is a sale on and that you should act not. I just filter those to spam the good news is that you can always get a deal on the first year and even after that the cost for a full website is still in the medial range for web hosting.
I used word alive for my first publishing. Good experience though I'm not sure that very new authors can afford their best package. They also have professional editing services and other tools for writers.