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    The Rise of YA Fiction

    Listen to our podcast interview with YA author and doctor Althea Liu from New York. We talk about romance novels, the rise of YA stories, and the appeal of dark horror elements (including vampires!) in her writing.

    Check out some of her stories on Wattpad, under her pen name Kate Lorraine:

    Once Bitten

    Bubble Tea Girl

    The Forbidden Life (Watty Awards 2012)


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    Hey there! To become someone’s fan on Wattpad, just visit their profile page and on the top-right corner, click on “Become a Fan.” 


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    Our newest featured writer on Wattpad, Adam Lowe, has been chosen as one of the official poets of Olympics 2012 in the UK! 

    Listen to the BBC podcast interview with Adam Lowe, starting from the 1:23:00 mark here: BBC Radio podcast - July 26, 2012.

    Read some of Adam’s writing on Wattpad:

      

    Plus: Check out Adam’s blog post on creating Troglodyte Rose.


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    Read the story and watch the web series on Wattpad!

    Which version of “Beat Girl” do you like better - 1, 2, or 3?


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    Wattpad brings you a guest post from Frank Coles, author of mystery thriller Dark Market (Assassins Rule #1):

    Want to publish a novel quickly and easily on websites and ereaders with no massive technical knowhow? Well, you’re in the right place. Here’s how to get your novel and cover up on Wattpad in the next ten minutes for simple documents or an hour for full novels. You want it to look good and read how it should after all. So, first thing we need to do:

    BACK UP

    Before we begin back up a copy of your final draft, you DO NOT want to lose all that hard work now do you?

    Then you’ll need a clean Word document. Ideally when you’re writing your book only use the ‘normal’ paragraph style, bold, italics, underline and use heading 1, heading 2 or bold for your chapter headings. Keep it simple.

    WHY WATTPAD?

    Wattpad’s simple formatting options allow you to publish your story to a number of platforms like Google Books, Sony and Scribd with minimal fuss. It’s also a social network and if you engage with other readers and writers you’ll find your reading numbers just go up and up. You won’t be able to charge for it however, for that you’ll need to look at Smashwords and Amazon, and if there’s enough interest out there I’ll write something on this as well. But hey, no more mucking about, let’s get started.

    PUBLISH IN TEN MINUTES OR LESS

    I’m going to use the first three sections my book How to Drive a Tank…and Other Everyday Tips for the Modern Gentleman for this.

    1. Open the word file of your final Word document.

    2. Select all text and hit copy. For PCs that’s Control+A, for Macs Command+A.

    3. Open Notepad on PC or TextEdit on Mac.

    4. Paste your copied document into the file: Control+V or Command+V.

    5. Save as a plain text file. That’s a file with .txt as the extension.

    6. Go to your Wattpad profile image and name at the top of the screen and hit the ‘My Works’ link.

    7. Select the ‘new story’ link in the upper right hand part of the screen.

    8. Hit the ‘Upload a file’ link in the lower centre screen.

    9. Enter your book title.

    10. Quick format your text using bold for Chapter/Section Headings.

    11. Save your META options on the right hand side of the screen.

    12. Hit ‘Save and Publish’.

    Okay, you’re done. You won’t have your book split into chapters, there’ll be no italics and no cover. For that, jump to the cover section below or use the more robust publishing option that follows, where you’ll keep your bold and italics, separate chapters, and set up a table of contents.

    PUBLISH IN AN HOUR

    I’m going to use my thriller Dark Market as an example here. It shouldn’t take long so just bash through these steps to get your perfect upload.

    First, please remove any images from the original text as Wattpad won’t display them. Then only use a symbol like * or *** for section spaces within chapters.

    IMPORT YOUR TEXT

    1. Go to your Wattpad profile

    2. Go to your name at the top of the screen and hit the ‘My Works’ link.

    3. Select the ‘new story’ link in the upper right hand part of the screen.

    4. Enter your book title.

    5. Go to your Microsoft Word document and select the first section of your book. In this case, for me, it’s the copyright page, but it could be the intro, author note, table of contents or chapter one for you. Copy the text and paste it into the content screen on the Wattpad interface.

    6. Hit ‘Save’ at the bottom of the screen.

    7. Copy and paste the rest of your book by chapter in the order you need. So if you want an author page followed by an intro at the front do that first and title each page as you want them: Author Note/Intro and so on.

    Note: This last step is what gives your book that nice drop-down table of contents.

    FORMAT YOUR TEXT

    When you’ve finished importing go to your ‘My Works’ link again. You’ll see your book with a basic temporary cover. Click ‘Edit’ on your story and it’ll take you back to the editing screen. You’ll now see that any centered formatting has disappeared and that everything is left aligned. Wattpad should have kept your bold, underline and italics in place. Wattpad is only a simple formatter however, so remember to keep formatting to a minimum in your original document. This goes for all other ebook formats out there. Here are the next steps:

    7. If there are excess spaces in your document hit the ‘remove spaces’ icon at the top of the text-input window - a curved arrow with a red line through it.

    8. Add in spaces where you want them, say between the chapter title and the first line.

    For those section breaks marked with a * symbol, if you’ve center-aligned them you’ll find them back over on the left and no way to format them. There are two options available to you, either:

    Delete them and add in 2-3 line breaks, this should be more than enough to indicate to the reader that there is a narrative switch or jump.

    Or:

    Leave them in but add spaces with the space bar before the symbol. You need about 30 spaces, Wattpad adds in about 30 more, but once you’ve got it lined up right, just copy the symbol including the spaces before (see image: select everything highlighted in blue) and paste it wherever you need it.

    You could of course do this for any other part that you want aligned in this way, say chapter headings. But it’s a lot of work. My advice, keep it simple!

    BASIC META DATA

    Ignore the META info on the right hand side when you’re uploading, it’s quicker to go through each file at the end as you can copy and paste the tags you need rather than having to type it out every time.

    Categories

    So when you’ve finished uploading go back through your files and choose your categories, is your book a mystery, a thriller, a romance? Make anote in a seprate file so you have a reference.

    Tags

    What about tags? For Dark Market, I use “action, adventure, assassin, conspiracy”. Wattpad only accepts one-word tags, so just type them in with a comma between each one and you’re done. Keep the tags copied on your clipboard as you go through each file and simply paste (Control+V/Command+A).

    Copyright

    Pick your copyright attribution.

    Rating

    Is your work kid friendly or so dark that only a serial killer would read it? Pick your age rating.

    Distribution.

    Where do you want to publish? Wattpad only or Google Books, Sony Ebookstore and Scribd?

    Each section is pretty self-explanatory but for full easy read guidelines go here: http://www.wattpad.com/guidelines

    ADVANCED META DATA

    Hit the link for advanced. Here you can add book links, YouTube videos and photosets to go with your book. Again keep these links in a separate file if you want to quickly copy and paste them on each chapter page.

    CHECKLIST

    Here’s my quick checklist to see if everything is as it should be.

    Chapter and section headings - are they all the same? E.g. Bold, left aligned.

    Spacer elements - are they all consistent?

    Are all the titles/chapter numbers correct?

    Is all the meta data there?

    THE COVER

    The cover might be the last thing we’ll do here, but it is the first thing your readers will see, so make it good. Have a look at what other people are doing, find a selection of covers that you like and then make your own version in a program like Photoshop. You can find free background or mood images on sites like http://www.sxc.hu/.

    Your final cover for Wattpad needs to be 245 wide by 400 pixels high (it’ll be different for other sites). To get your image looking right open a new file in your image editor with the above dimensions and drop your cover image into it. Resize to fit, save as a jpg and upload by going to ‘My Works’. Select the ‘cover’ link then, when the pop-window appears, choose your image.

    Right then, how does it all look? Good I hope. If not, go back and walk through the steps again, there may be something you missed. Feel free to ask questions in the comments below I’ll answer when I can. Happy writing, happy reading.

    Start reading Dark Market on Wattpad - free!


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    CHARACTER: THE PULSING HEART OF A GOOD STORY

    Welcome to the Wattpad Workshop Series!

    Start anytime.

    These are free workshops for Wattpad writers who want to be inspired and challenged. You’ll come away with new ideas, new techniques and, most importantly, you’ll generate lots of new writing. The workshops run every Monday on the Wattpad Blog.

    To join in: read the post and get writing – post your writing on the Weekly Workshop Series Discussion Thread!

    The workshops are run by Alice Kuipers, bestselling author of Life on the Refrigerator Door, The Worst Thing She Ever Did and 40 Things I Want To Tell You. Visit her at www.alicekuipers.com:

    Week 10 (Missed the earlier writer’s workshop? Join in with this week and go back to check out Week 1, Week 2, Week 3, Week 4, Week 5, Week 6, Week 7, Week 8 and Week 9!)

    This week we’re looking at the subtitle of this workshop: The Pulsing Heart of A Good Story.

    This is because I think that to tell a good story you have to have a character ACT and REACT. The way your character ACTS and REACTS makes your story change and move forward. What your character DOES is THE PLOT.

    It took me years and years to understand this concept.

    Here’s an example of what I used to think was a good story opening: A character is sitting in a room looking out the window, thinking about his lost love, re-reading a letter she sent him.

    Instead, now I think this is a good story opening: A character gets a letter from his lost love. He grabs his suitcase and starts packing.

    Which story is the one you’d want to read? In the first instance, the character isn’t doing anything. NOTHING HAPPENS. I’d pick the second story every time.

    I don’t want to hammer home the metaphor of the character as the pulsing heart, but indulge me for a minute. I believe if you make your characters ACT and REACT your story will be propelled forward as if the character is the one pumping the story’s blood through its body.

    When a character ACTS and REACTS it must change the events of the story. In the second example I’ve given above, because the character starts packing, the story has a place to go. The plot is impacted, the narrative moves forward.

    Try thinking of your character as the heart of your story. Remember, the word REACT means two things: responding emotionally and responding by taking action. Show me as your reader how your character reacts to the events of your book, how your character makes the story change because of the things they do, and I will be your reader for life.

    This week’s writing prompt:

    This week there are two components to the prompt.

    1. This is a thinking exercise. I want you to find your favourite novel and I want you to look at two key moments in the book when the main character ACTS and REACTS. How did this impact the plot?
    2. This is the writing part. Your character sees someone standing at the edge of a tall building. What does your character do? How do they ACT and REACT? Write up to 300 words.

    Post your writing here at the Weekly Workshop Series Discussion Thread! I’ll read and give feedback as often as I can. Next week we start a new cycle of five workshops: August 6th-Sept 3rd: Dialogue - Hear Those Voices On The Page

    Commit to your writing by joining in this and all the upcoming workshops:

    • Sept 10th-Oct 8th: Take It To A New Level - Fixes For Your Fiction
    • Oct 15th-Nov 12th: Kickstart Your Writing - Trying New Things To Fuel Your Writing

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    Legendary author Margaret Atwood continues to share new content on Wattpad with the latest addition to her Thriller Suite collection, a poem called Ghost Cat!

    Fan Margaret’s profile to get instant notifications every time she uploads something on Wattpad.

    This week, she revealed a new cover for Thriller Suite, featuring characters that represent the horror-inspired themes of her new poems.

    Margaret on her personal story behind the new Thriller Suite cover art:

    “The guy on the left is a giant. The one on the right is a ghost. They are part of the first play I did (in a cardboard box stage) at age 7 or so — it was a critical failure, as my older brother and his friends laughed at it. The threads are the strings by which the puppets worked (or didn’t). I had a later career in puppetry, as well. And the giant is bad.”


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  • 07/31/12--07:57: WHY I JOINED WATTPAD
  • Wattpad brings you a guest post from Adam Lowe, author of featured story Troglodyte Rose:

    In the past I’ve been a member of a various online writing workshops and social media networks for authors. For the most part, I never found that they offered what I needed: sound editorial guidance, advice about publishing, and readers keen to read more of my work.

    I think the problem was that too many of them were geared towards showcasing an author’s vanity. Instead of offering healthy critiques of each others’ work, most of the members just posted fawning drivel, and collected friends like badges of honour. It was never about the writing.

    In addition, most of the members considered themselves writers, but they weren’t readers. They wanted everyone to read their work, but didn’t read anyone else’s. I think it’s important for any writer to read the work not just of classic writers but also their contemporaries. Writers who don’t read usually don’t write very well.

    It’s also important to read outside your comfort zone. If you write paranormal romance, there’s nothing worse than just reading other paranormal romances. It means you not only write yourself into a ghetto, but that you also narrow the pool of ideas and styles you draw from. Good writers are like magpies—they pick a fragment here, a snippet there—from as wide a range of inspirations as possible. If you’re only influenced by a small clique, your writing becomes closed to what’s going on elsewhere.

    When I write, I draw upon conversations overheard at the local grocer’s. I draw upon the shaking hands of an old lady standing to get off the bus. I try to infuse the colours and smells and tastes of everyday life, because those things, which are rooted in the real and the tangible, are what allow our work to breathe.

    I had heard of Wattpad before, but since I now devote so much of my time to writing, editing and publishing, I rarely have time to contribute to online communities. So I hadn’t joined for that reason. More importantly, I wanted to see where the second generation of social media networks for writers were heading. Most of those I had joined when I was younger have either disappeared or evolved into something more specific. I needed to know what those new communities were before I could commit my time, because my time is very valuable to me now, since I have so little!

    Then I read that the sublime Margaret Atwood had joined Wattpad, and saw her comments about communities like this allowing writers to take risks and develop their talent. All this while allowing writers to build audiences of readers.

    I looked a little closer, and I was thrilled to see that Wattpad users are also readers. People use Wattpad not just to show off and build up sycophantic fanbases. They use Wattpad like they use Kindle—to find and discover new and original writing from a variety of voices.

    That’s important. That’s alluring. And it doesn’t hurt when it’s endorsed by a big name like Atwood, right?

    So I guess I’m here to learn from you, and to discover your work, as much as I am to share my own stories and to share my own experiences. I have been running Dog Horn Publishing since 2008. I’ve had small press publications and award nominations. I’ve had commissions from the BBC and Channel 4, here in the UK, alongside commissions from a range of theatres, festivals and arts organisations. My column in the UK’s leading free monthly magazine for the LGBT community has an audience of about 150,000 people a month. I now make a living from writing and publishing. That means I have something to offer as well as something to gain from being here. And that’s what I want. If I’m going to join a community, I want to be involved. That’s what communities are for. In Wattpad, I think I’ve finally found the right place to call home.

    I look forward to participating.

    Check out Adam Lowe’s poetry and dystopian fic on his Wattpad profile!


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    Wattpad Recruits Authors at the BlackBerry Playbook Experience


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  • 08/01/12--11:26: The Atty Awards Launches
  • Wattpad’s poetry contest has officially opened!

    Enter your submissions to The Attys at http://www.wattpad.com/attys.

    We’ve got a ton of prizes in store for the winners: $1000 cash, Nexus 7 Android tablets, and more!

    Find out more details on The Attys page!


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    The King of Ghost Writers 

    “Each chapter in Robert Harris’s book, The Ghost, begins with a quote from Ghostwriting, a guide written by the king of ghostwriters, Andrew Crofts. He is said to have secretly ghosted dozens of celebrity ‘autobiographies’.” - http://ow.ly/cFFAe

    Listen to our podcast interview with novelist and professional ghost writer, Andrew Crofts, who is said to be the inspiration for Ewan McGregor’s character in the movie “The Ghost Writer” (2010). He talks about the nature of ghost writing, his own experiences working with celebrities, fame, and why he’s decided to join the Wattpad community.

    Connect with Andrew and read his first fictional novel (under his own name) on Wattpad: The Fabulous Dreams of Maggie de Beer.


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    Wattpad brings you a guest post from Tom Andry, author of Bob Moore: No Hero.

    So you want super powers, huh?

    We’ve all thought about it. Flying around like Superman, turning invisible and finding out what our friends really think, having super strength so that bully on the bus thinks twice before coming after you…we’ve all imagined the possibilities. With the slew of comic book inspired movies hitting the big screen, who hasn’t considered how cool it would be to fly around in Iron Man’s armor or grab some thug by the shirt and growl, “I’m Batman!” I know I have.

    I grew up with comic books and super powers bouncing around my head. My brother and I would spend so much time at dinner talking about the latest comic books that my parents eventually banned comic book talk from the table. When I decided to write my first novel, comics and super beings were the first thing I thought of.

    But my question wasn’t, “How cool would it be to have super powers,” but “What would someone do if they DIDN’T have powers and everyone else did?” This question led to the creation of Bob Moore, a lowly Private Eye with no powers, dealing with supers on a daily basis. How does he survive? By being one step ahead of the supers, of course!

    Flying, invisibility, strength…these are all powers we’ve dreamed of. But, when writing stories set in a world of supers, I’ve had to think about a lot of other powers. And they can be pretty cool too.

    Universal Translator

    I’ve done a lot of traveling around the world (backpacking on just about no money) and I quickly realized just how cool it would be to be able to understand not only the language of every person on Earth, but their culture as well. Sure, it sounds like a one way trip to the United Nations as one of those translator people, but hear me out. If you could, instinctively, understand everyone around you, you could manipulate them. You would know exactly what sort of cultural pressures you could place on them in order to get them to do what you wanted. How many wars have been started because two cultures didn’t understand each other? Tons! I believe someone with a Universal Translation skill could be the greatest leader the world has ever seen (or, more likely, the villain most likely to try to take over the world).

    Shadow Walking

    Any fan of ninja movies would love this power. This is the ability to walk into one shadow and out of another using the darkness like doors. The ultimate stealth power, Shadow Walking would make you pretty much impossible to follow, nearly invincible at night, and only slightly less so during the day (there is always a shadow somewhere). With our instinctive fear of the dark, the Shadow Walker can be a nightmare come to life or the one that saves you when things look the bleakest. Plus…the cool-factor on disappearing into a shadow is pretty much pegged at AWESOME! Any power that lets you sneak up on Batman gets a thumbs up in my book!

    Breathing Water

    Aquaman may be the butt of every super joke but the fact is that breathing water would be awesome. Sure, maybe he isn’t Justice League material, but, in reality, there is a lot of potential in the ability to breathe water. James Cameron just spent a bazillion dollars to go to the bottom of the ocean. If you could breathe water, you could do that anytime. All those creepy, crazy animals of the deep? You’d know all about them. Colossal squid, Loch Ness Monster? No mystery to you. With a planet that is 2/3rds water; being able to breath it means you rule more square footage than any person in history. Ever.

    Absorption

    This power stems from the old childhood saying, “I’m rubber and you’re glue.” The person with Absorption cannot be hurt. Anything you send at them, be it bullets, speeding trains, or death rays, is absorbed and can either be reflected back or transformed into another power. Usually, this other power would be strength. So, the more you beat on them, the more you shoot them, the stronger they get. But it doesn’t have to be strength. What if they change all that energy into explosive blasts that they shoot from their eyes? The applications are endless. Plus, someone with that power is about as scary as they come. They could jump in front of a train to save a kid or rob a bank in broad daylight daring the cops to start shooting at them.

    Learning

    This is an oldie but goodie. One of Captain America’s arch-villains is the Red Skull, a super that can do any physical activity he sees. I’ve always thought this was the coolest power to have. How many times have you been to a sporting event (or seen something on late-night ESPN) and thought, “Man, I wish I could do that!” We all have! I wish I had taken gymnastics so I could do back handsprings (a lowly goal, perhaps). Maybe you’ve always wished you could dive like they do at the Olympics. Or archery. Or snowboarding. The possibilities are endless. And all these skills are only a YouTube video away!

    So, what are powers do you think would be cool to have? Let me know! I’d love to hear them.

    Read Bob Moore: No Hero on Wattpad!

    Super powered humans started appearing 30 years ago. Now, they are everywhere. Bob Moore, Private Eye, dares to investigate those who could incinerate him with a thought. When he is called to help a super from his past, however, he’ll be pushed to his limit. When supers and the police think there is no crime, can he get to the truth? Will he want to for the man that destroyed his marriage?


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    Which version of “Santiago’s Dream: the Prelude in The Little Church on the Mountain” by Henry Freeman do you like better - left or right?


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    DIALOGUE: HEAR THOSE VOICE ON THE PAGE

    Welcome to the Wattpad Workshop Series!

    Start anytime.

    These are free workshops for Wattpad writers who want to be inspired and challenged. You’ll come away with new ideas, new techniques and, most importantly, you’ll generate lots of new writing. The workshops run every Monday on the Wattpad Blog.

    To join in: read the post and get writing – post your writing on the Weekly Workshop Series Discussion Thread!

    The workshops are run by Alice Kuipers, bestselling author of Life on the Refrigerator Door, The Worst Thing She Ever Did and 40 Things I Want To Tell You. Visit her at www.alicekuipers.com:

    Week 11(Missed the earlier writer’s workshop? Join in with this week, then go back to check out Week 1, Week 2, Week 3, Week 4, Week 5, Week 6, Week 7, Week 8, Week 9, and Week 10!)

    WE’RE MOVING ON TO DIALOGUE! If you haven’t taken part in the workshop so far, you’re welcome to start now. This is the first of five weeks focusing on dialogue.

    Conversation is one of the key ways we get to know people in real life and on the page. When creative writing teachers, editors and readers say to you SHOW DON’T TELL, and you can’t quite figure out what they mean, one place to look is your dialogue. Dialogue gives you a perfect place to show the reader who your characters are.

    Clear, articulate, well-written dialogue gives sound and music to your writing. Your reader hears your characters’ voices in their mind.

    There is much to focus on when learning how to write better dialogue, but this first week we’re going to look at how to make your characters sound distinct from each other. Just because you’re the author, doesn’t mean you’re allowed to have every voice sound just like you. It seem obvious that each character you write has to sound DISTINCT, but take a quick glance through anything you’ve written recently where your characters are talking – are there words and phrases that you keep going back to as an author? Moments when it’s hard to tell exactly who’s speaking?

    Me too. As a writer, it’s hard to let go of those speech crutches. But my job is to make my characters sound like themselves, not like me.

    The best way to make everyone sound different from each other is to actively look out for and notice when your characters sound too similar. Notice words that are unusual that one character might use. Notice if one character speaks more formally and if another is more relaxed.

    Next, look for key words, verbal ticks, and ways of talking that fit each character. Use them.

    Like this:

    “Totally,” said Alissa.

    “I’m not sure.”

    “We have to. Like, right now.”

    “Alissa, you always say that… I’m not-”

    “I always say it cos I’m always right.”

    “Maybe.”

    “We’re totally doing this.” She grabbed my hand. “Stop wasting time.”

    Alissa is obviously (totally) enthusiastic and lively, self-confident and ready for anything. She interrupts, uses the words ‘right’ and ‘totally’ and is clear about what she wants. The other character is more hesitant. She pauses, uses words like ‘maybe’ and lets Alissa take control.

    Each character has their own way of speaking even though the dialogue is very short. See how writing dialogue is an opportunity for you to make your characters clear to your readers?

    One final thing for this week: make sure you USE A LINE BREAK when each different character speaks. It’s a visual clue to a reader that someone else is talking.

    This week’s writing prompt:

    Three characters – a janitor, a rich woman and someone else (you decide) – are in an elevator when it gets stuck on the thirteenth floor. Write the conversation that follows. Use up to 300 words. Make each character sound DISTINCT.

    Post your writing here at the Weekly Workshop Series Discussion Thread! I’ll read and give feedback as often as I can. Next week we start a new cycle of five workshops:

    Commit to your writing by joining in this and all the upcoming workshops:

    • Sept 10th-Oct 8th: Take It To A New Level - Fixes For Your Fiction
    • Oct 15th-Nov 12th: Kickstart Your Writing - Trying New Things To Fuel Your Writing

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    Wattpad brings you the newest addition to our featured story list, a humor teen fic by Vanessa Rose Lee:

    The Beauty Queen and The School Nerd

    Did you ever wonder what would happen if a beauty queen and a school nerd had something in common? No one would have ever guessed that seniors Jessica Richardson and Amanda Shaw could ever have anything in common. The two girls attend the ultra-exclusive Porter Academy in Atlanta. Jessica is a beauty queen with a glamorous life and tons of money, clothes, and make-up. Amanda comes from a lower class home and is the “school nerd” at Porter. Well, we’re about to find out what happens when the two girls meet and their secret past is revealed to the world! 


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    Wattpad Community Contests: Una Historia de amor y de Sangre contest:

    This contest is open for any Spanish-speaking entrants. You can participate from August 4th to August 25th. You’ll need to be a fan of the author, NataliaAlejandra and you’ll have to answer the following question here:

    “Imagine you wake up today in castle, in a different dimension, that you find out vampires are real, that you’re half fairy and have magical powers. How do you react?”

    The contest is for Spanish speakers, so only entries in Spanish will be accepted.

    You can win autographed prints of the four books of the Sangre Enamorada saga’s coverart, and Alejandra’s make-up set, consisting of a black eye-shadow, black mascara, black eye-liner, and black nail polish, all Cyº Zone products. The winner will be chosen using random.org’s randomizer list.


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    Wattpad brings you a guest post from DHCermeno, author of Rising Sunsets, which will join our Featured Story list tomorrow:


    “What have I done?”

    Those were the first words I uttered when I disembarked United Flight 1792 at Tokyo Narita Airport, exhausted and tremendously hung over due to the superfluous array and supply of alcoholic beverages. I had fallen down the rabbit hole, and ended up on the other side of the planet, not knowing why I had done what I had done. After months of planning this trip to move my life, what little I lived at 21, I was suddenly struck with the realization that things were going to be “upside down” for at least the next year. Not knowing any Japanese and relying on what I had heard from other people about this country, none of whom had ever set foot in Japan, I was going to be met with many new experiences that were going to be difficult and challenging.  Staring at the unrelenting curtain of rain and dreary black clouds, I feared it was a bleak omen for what awaited me. I knew no one and worried how I was going to survive on a daily basis, afraid of starving or becoming homeless. As time passed, I realized how ridiculous I, and everyone back home, was to categorize and stereotype an entire population.  Even though there were many things which were difficult to adjust to at first, such as the inability to read the signage and awkwardly stumbling over the language,  I came to realize that there are many things that make us similar and alike, despite our cultural differences.  But, all of my trepidation and absurd thoughts of getting sold into white slavery quickly diminished. Here were the top 5 stereotypes I heard or thought of prior to moving to Japan:

    All Japanese women look like geishas.

    Women in Japan have a definite allure, but they do not wear kimonos, stark white makeup, and have their hair fixed in a complicated arrangement donned with flowers and other accoutrement everyday.  Not everyone is dressed looking like they are acting out a scene from The Mikado. Rather, they dress as we do in the United States.  The only time those ostentatious and divine clothes are worn are for formal occasions. What Japanese women have, however, which they share with geishas, is that they take care of those around them, for they are the ones who listen, comfort, and try to make others comfortable, as geishas do.

    All Japanese (or Asians) look alike.

    I am sure other cultures think the same thing of westerners. In fact, in Flower Drum Song, when Benson Fong is asked to identify the westerner who robbed him at gunpoint, he retorts, “Don’t ask me what he looked like. All white men look alike!” And I found at first that all Japanese people did share a common look, but at the same time, I didn’t know anyone, so for me to distinguish one from the other was difficult.  But as time passed, I easily was able to identify people I knew and saw the differences in their face, stature, and demeanor. In addition, I found that each Asian population has a different look, which distinguishes them from every other population.

    All Japanese know karate and are black belts.     

    I also expected all of the men to be wearing the karate robes and to have them tied with a black belt and worried I would be challenged to a fight while walking down the street.  Men did not walk around town and randomly strike a pose like Jackie Chan or Ralph Macchio in The Karate Kid for that matter. Although some of my students did know karate, others preferred to excel in other sports such as basketball or track. Sports are very important to the students and it gives them both a break from their rigorous school schedule and allows them to bond with their fellow classmates.

    Japanese only eat sushi.

    If this were true, this is fine with me since I adore sushi, and eating it everyday would be a luxury and a pleasure. I found that even though the Japanese do enjoy sushi, their pallets yearn for other delicacies such as okonomiyaki, a delightful dish similar to an omelet served on a grill and eaten with a small chisel, and katsudon, a pork dish served atop a bed of rice. Meat and chicken are also staples that one will find frequently in Japan and are consumed on a regular basis.

    The Japanese are super intelligent and never get less than an “A” in school.

    I do have to say that I did have students who were not “A” students and some were lazy about doing the work.  However, what I did find that the Japanese students had was a desire to learn English and an unending respect for their teachers not only while class was in session but also when they saw them outside of school. They were shy about participating for fear of attracting too much attention to themselves, but they did try.

    My time in Japan did open my eyes to what that beautiful country has to offer, which inspired me to write Rising Sunsets. It made me a better person and allowed me to shed a lot of the original concepts I had about Japan and the negative stereotypes surrounding it. In Rising Sunsets, I do poke fun at my character, a westerner trying to survive in a country where the norms are unknown to him, which do lend itself to some comical scenes. But all in all, it allows him to truly appreciate the differences and embrace the culture. I hope it does the same for my readers. 

    Read the romance fanfic Rising Sunsets on Wattpad:

    Rising Sunsets is an enlightening journey through the mind of David Fletcher, a bright and ambitious young man who is determined to conquer the world and prove his unsupportive father wrong. When reality strikes and nothing works out as expected, an unusual opportunity to go to Japan to teach English to schoolchildren presents itself. There, he discovers his true self and finds an inner strength and independence he never knew existed. Throughout the story, David uncovers Japanese culture and easily embraces the traditions until suddenly, those age-old beliefs stand in the way of his happiness. And, through an unexpected encounter with love, the course of his life is changed forever.


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  • 08/07/12--14:57: Wattpad Meetup in Toronto!
  • Join us at the Word on the Street book & magazine festival in Toronto, September 23rd 2012!

    If you’re interested in meeting fellow Wattpadders and the Wattpad team, sign up on our official Meetup page. More details coming soon!


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  • 08/08/12--08:18: Too Cool For School
  • Too Cool For School:

    Enter the “Too Cool For School” contest on Wattpad!

    All right, everybody! It’s time to head back to school. It’s up to us to make this school year count the most! So, I want to know what your plans are to truly make this year the best one yet!

    Here are the main categories:

    Fitness/physical health: What sports or activities do you participate in to keep in shape and reduce stress? Do you plan to change or keep your existing diet? For example, do you think that by becoming a vegetarian, following a low-carb diet, or any other diets will help improve your overall health?

    Mental health: What can you do to change your schedule and manage time wisely? Do you practice meditation, yoga, pilates, or any other activity that helps reduce stress and anxiety?

    Fashion: There’s a famous quote that when “You look good, you feel good.” On top of getting enough sleep, exercising, etc.-we know that fashion plays a part as well in looking and feeling good! 

    So, what are these categories for anyways you may ask?

    Well, if you comment on this blog post from AUGUST 8th to AUGUST 20th, then you are entered to win a $20 gift card to your favorite department store of your choice. PLUS, win a kindle or physical copy of “The Beauty Queen and the School Nerd” or any of the four remaining book titles of mine.

    The other four titles can be found on my Twitter account in addition to online retailers such as Amazon and Barnes and Noble. Please follow me on Twitter, but ONLY post/enter the contest on this Wattpad story.

    Keep in mind that the more sections you write in about—the more chances you have of winning. For example, if you comment on TWO categories, then you are entered TWICE! TRIPLE your chances of winning and write about all THREE categories! It’s that easy!

    Here is an inspirational video (Vanessa Hudgens commercial for Sears). Be sure to enter my contest for your chance to dress to impress this back to school season! It’s time to get ready to be “Too Cool for School!”


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