Articles on this Page
- 11/06/12--11:32: _Wattpad Celebrates ...
- 11/07/12--06:00: _How To Host The Mos...
- 11/07/12--08:23: _Follow Margaret & N...
- 11/08/12--06:00: _Win two tickets to ...
- 11/08/12--13:00: _Cover-Off: "The Giver"
- 11/09/12--06:00: _Top 5 Reading List ...
- 11/09/12--08:13: _Wattpad at The Lite...
- 11/09/12--16:00: _Wattpad Community C...
- 11/10/12--08:00: _My 5 Favourite Fict...
- 11/11/12--07:00: _C.J. Archer's Mediu...
- 11/12/12--07:00: _WATTPAD WORKSHOP SE...
- 11/12/12--10:30: _Presenting the Watt...
- 11/12/12--13:00: _Can’t Buy Me Friend...
- 11/13/12--08:00: _AISLING ANNOUNCES F...
- 11/13/12--12:08: _A Literary Heroine ...
- 11/14/12--05:00: _What Did You Read T...
- 11/14/12--06:00: _Should I Serialize ...
- 11/14/12--13:00: _Listen to our newes...
- 11/15/12--07:00: _David Wallace Flemi...
- 11/15/12--08:00: _Collider World on W...
- 11/06/12--11:32: Wattpad Celebrates 6 Years
- 11/07/12--06:00: How To Host The Most Exciting Dinner Party
- 11/07/12--08:23: Follow Margaret & Naomi's Zombie Serial on Wattpad
- 11/08/12--06:00: Win two tickets to SociaLight entrepreneurship conference!
- 11/08/12--13:00: Cover-Off: "The Giver"
- 11/09/12--06:00: Top 5 Reading List for Sci-Fi Ensemble Lovers
- 11/09/12--08:13: Wattpad at The Literary Platform, UK
- 11/09/12--16:00: Wattpad Community Contests: What Spell Would you Cast?
- 11/10/12--08:00: My 5 Favourite Fictional Londoners
- 11/11/12--07:00: C.J. Archer's Medium Contest
- 11/12/12--07:00: WATTPAD WORKSHOP SERIES: WEEK 25!
- Before you ask for feedback, read through your work. There’s no point getting feedback on something you already know how to improve. If you can see something that needs fixing, then fix it first. It’s the things you can’t see that you want your readers to help you spot.
- Choose which readers to listen to. Sometimes readers have good intentions but the feedback they give is unclear or hard to implement. If they say, “This is really good/bad/boring/interesting it’s impossible for you to do anything with that. Those readers mean to be helpful, but it’s okay just to smile politely and move on to someone more constructive.
- Be wary of feedback that is so critical it makes you feel like giving up. If getting feedback is making you feel like your writing is worthless, pull back until you find your creative spark. One super negative comment can leave you reeling, trust me, I know. But it mustn’t derail you. That reader isn’t necessarily right.
- If there’s something you want to know about the writing, ask the reader. Ask clear questions, like, “What was this story about for you?” or ‘When did you realize so and so is evil?” Listen carefully to the answers: they may surprise you.
- Notice that some readers hone in on line edits whereas others are good at giving big picture ideas. You need both types of reader to get your work to the next level.
- 11/12/12--10:30: Presenting the Watty Awards Finalists Showcase!
- 11/13/12--08:00: AISLING ANNOUNCES FAN FICTION CONTEST WINNER
- 11/14/12--05:00: What Did You Read Today? Win Free Books!
- 11/14/12--06:00: Should I Serialize My Novel or Post It All at Once?
- 11/14/12--13:00: Listen to our newest podcast on Wattpad! Consequences...
- 11/15/12--07:00: David Wallace Fleming's Audiobook Contest
- 11/15/12--08:00: Collider World on Wattpad: Mad Scientists
On November 5th, we celebrated Wattpad’s sixth birthday! Our team’s already grown three times bigger since last year, and still growing! Find out more about life at Wattpad: http://www.wattpad.com/life.
Dinner parties are something grown-ups do to prove to their friends that they’re sophisticated and successful.
After I write that sentence I realise that I’m over thirty and really don’t have much to offer on the fine dining, conservative conversation, share ‘isn’t my baby the cutest?’ photo front.
Funnily enough, I’m good with that.
If I’m going to invite people to my abode (and if they’ve willingly accepted), then they know they’re unlikely to receive any of the above. Chicken nuggets are a food group; politics, religion and the right to life debate are all on the menu; and anyone with a baby knows better than to think that I’m going to ‘ooh’ and ‘ahh’ over images of oversized craniums and snot encrusted nostrils.
Nobody asks questions they’re not prepared to receive honest answers for. It’s not that I’m looking for a fight, though we’re going to have to work off all that ice cream somehow, I’m just of the opinion that conflict makes life interesting.
Nobody wants to read a book where everything proceeds exactly to design, where crises never happen and where the best laid plans are accomplished without a hitch. Happily ever after, every second of the day, would be nothing short of monotonous.
It’s for this reason that I’ve invited Tom Cruise to dinner. This largely revolves around his portrayal of Anne Rice’s vampire Lestat in ‘Interview with the Vampire’; back then, I’d have let him bite me any day of the week. The other reason is frankly Scientology; I have questions and even if he’s not inclined to provide answers, it will be entertaining to watch him attempt to dodge my inquiries.
While he’s trying to distract me with a glob of mashed potato that vaguely resembles Michael Jackson, two of my others guests have come to blows. I have invited them in order to solve the age-old question of ‘who would win in a fight between Batman and Superman?’
There isn’t a whole lot remaining of the left side of my house, and in five minutes time I’m sure to be reassuring police, the fire department and ambulance crews that the skirmish is all in good fun, but sacrifices must be made in the pursuit of knowledge.
I don’t know how Batman procured kryptonite, but I’m quietly cheering. I hadn’t considered ‘wedgies’ as a part of Batman’s combative repertoire, but I’m pretty sure that Superman is now considering the merits of wearing his underwear on the inside.
The commotion, however, is not quite enough to drown out the sound of screaming from the kitchen. I can’t repeat the colourful string of expletives that emerge from Gordon Ramsay’s mouth, but I can say that not even Batman wants to take responsibility for the curdled crème anglaise; it’s ok though, because I’m happier with banana splits anyway.
Clearly confused as to why he even accepted an invitation to such a dysfunctional dinner party, successful film director Christopher Nolan arrives to hear Ramsay yelling about Om Nom stealing his muffin; he isn’t to know that Om Nom is my miniature schnauzer.
I’m quick to make friends with him however, and offer him a seat that hasn’t been obliterated by laser eye-beams or explosive bat-charges, because sometime in the not too distant future someone is going to have to direct the film version of Reluctant Death.
Idly I mention the fact that in the days of ‘Top Gun’, Tom Cruise might have been a good choice to play Asher, but he is too busy jumping on my couch to notice.
- Briony Heneberry
Read “Reluctant Death” on Wattpad!
Micaela Godfrey’s life is thrown into disarray after the death of her unborn child; she loses faith in her God and her marriage falls to apathy and emptiness.
What she finds, however, is that her world is not limited to the personal tragedy she has suffered, and that whispers of the past draw her to a future of endless possibility.
What was once a clear line between right and wrong begins to blur, and reality, she begins to see, may be shaped by thought if a will is strong enough. For her, darkness now moves in the form of corrupted magic, that would seek in her a secret she does not remember, and her fated calling will test even the most stalwart resolve of which she imagined herself capable.
Good guys and bad guys, light and dark, the mundane and the magical: traditional roles get tested in a world like our own, but where truly opening your eyes may mean you see something that you wish you hadn’t.
Reluctant Death is not a fluffy bunny story; there are no sparkly vampires or shirtless werewolves strutting around, and the affections of the heroine cannot be won until she is truly a whole person in her own right. What she needs is to find something that was torn from her, and to find it in herself; what she needs is to remember the power that has always been hers, and the responsibilities that come with it; what she needs is to find the courage to accept who she is, and will always be, and walk that fine line of right and wrong in the name of something far bigger than herself.
Chapter 5 of “The Happy Zombie Sunrise Home” has just been uploaded on Wattpad! Every Wednesday, Margaret Atwood and Naomi Alderman will post a new chapter of their quirky zombie tale until the story ends in January. Add the story to your reading list to get instant notifications of new updates!
For a chance to win 2 tickets to this year’s SociaLIGHT Conference, share your entrepreneurial story on their Facebook contest page!
More about the conference + 50% off discount code below (in case you don’t win their awesome giveaway contest)!
Wattpad is excited to be part of Toronto’s Ultimate Entrepreneur and Leadership Event, The SociaLIGHT Conference happening this November 17. Join 1,000 other innovators and young professionals, 20 acclaimed speakers, and over 60 of the top business and leadership organizations for a day of empowerment and inspiration. Past contributors include Sir Richard Branson, Tony Hsieh, Robin Sharma and more. This year, the keynote is speaking at SociaLIGHT on Saturday and OPRAH on Sunday. Here is a special discount code WATTPADVIP(all caps no spaces) to get 50% OFF all tickets .
Here is a sneak peek of this year’s conference:
Which version of “The Giver” by Lois Lowry do you like better - 1, 2, or 3?
When I saw The Avengers this summer (along with the rest of the world) I fell in love with ensemble sci-fi all over again. Ensembles of any genre are fun – I can have five (or six or seven!) wonderful main characters instead of just one? Yes, please!
From Lord of the Rings to Ocean’s Eleven to Crash, I love them all. But my particular favorites are sci-fi ensembles like Independence Day or Inception. So, in their honor, I’ve put together a Top Five reading list for other sci-fi (and ensemble) lovers.
(For my purposes I’ve left out classic authors like Arthur C. Clarke or Isaac Asimov and focused on newer authors and books you may not have read yet.)
1. Robopocalypse (Daniel H. Wilson)
This book is an explosive collision of I, Robot and The Day After Tomorrow– big, crazy violence and big, crazy heroes. You’ve got conflicted, noble robots and super-scary evil ones, heroes you love and heroes you kind of hate (in a good way). The story starts when the main human character finds a “hero archive” compiled by the arch enemy computer – who, despite the fact that he’s been decimating humanity, is fascinated by the heroes who fight him. I’m bugging my husband to read it so I can talk to him about it!
2. The Ghost Brigades (John Scalzi)
This is the second book in the Old Man’s War series (which is generally fantastic) but this novel was the standout in my opinion, and could be read alone (though I bet you read the others, too!). In a cutthroat universe, the human military has developed a way to take the DNA of dead people (who’d volunteered for military duty but died before they could begin) and turned them into perfect clone soldiers. Following a group of these cold ghost soldiers as they come to life is a surprisingly emotional and satisfying read.
3. Bruiser (Neal Shusterman)
You might have read this in school in the last few years, but if you haven’t, put it in your to-read list! Yes, right now, I’ll wait…. Okay.
Told from four perspectives, this is the story of Brew, a young man who absorbs the pains and injuries of those he cares about, and almost destroys them in the process…Because without pain, you can’t learn and you can’t really live. And you can’t put down this book, either.
4. Agent of Change (Sharon Lee and Steve Miller)
This is one novel of the Liaden Universe, and although the authors began it in the 1980’s, it’s been kept alive by a small but fanatical fan base and now contains upwards of sixteen books. And they’re still going! The books are a mix of regency romance and space opera – lots of dancing, piloting, and matchmaking.
5. Revenge of the Sith (Matthew Stover)
It’s hard enough to write a good novelization of a sci-fi movie, but throw in a really lackluster script and angry fans, and you’ve got your work cut out for you. Incredibly, (some might say miraculously) this is an EXCELLENT book. I’ve never been a huge Star Wars gal, but this book converted me. Mace Windu and Yoda and all these people I’m vaguely familiar with suddenly came to life…and took my breath away.
I know this is woefully short, so tell me – what sci-fi ensembles do you love?
Read The Aspen Experiments on Wattpad!
When fifteen year old Dara is accepted into an elite boarding school, her first weeks are ruined by a strange illness… Throwing up in front of your crush? More than once? Emphatically not fun. As Dara gets to know her school and the school’s creepy doctor, she begins to realize that she wasn’t recruited for her grades, and her illness isn’t innocent.
John is only pretending to be a student, and he knows exactly why Dara is sick, but he can’t risk telling her. When someone is playing with time altering anything can be disastrous, and John has a very specific mission. But when Dara’s life is at risk, they both must learn to navigate the intricacies of time…before they destroy the school or lose each other for good.
Gavin, aka TheOrangutan, was an awesome rep for Wattpad at the Lit Platform event in London, UK yesterday! He participated in one of the writer panels, spreading the word about Wattpad, and “the merits of being able to get useful feedback on stuff you upload on Wattpad and how it’d helped me go from complete amateur numpty to Wattpad Featured and published in a few magazines over the space of a couple of years.” Some photos from the event, below:
Follow him on Twitter @GavWilsonWriter and say hello!
You may be familiar with Life’s a Witch by Brittany Geragotelis, a.k.a. BrittTheBookSlayer, which received more than nineteen million reads when she first introduced it to you right here on Wattpad. Thanks to your enthusiasm and Britt’s talented writing skills, she landed a book deal with Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing to release the Life’s a Witch saga. The three book series begins with What the Spell, the story of Brooklyn Sparks, a witch who has just come into her own powers.
Work your magic again! What spell would you cast if you came into your own power? Write a spell in 25 words or more. All entries must be tagged with “W.T.S.”
There will be seven winners chosen.
1. Britt’s Pick: One grand prize winner will be chosen by Britt and will receive a Cruz T301 Android Tablet.
2. Popular Pick: Another grand prize winner with the most reads will receive a $150 Sephora gift card and a WHAT THE SPELL Advance Reader Copy.
3. Popular Pick Runner Up: Five runner up prize winners will receive a WHAT THE SPELL Advance Reader Copy.
Write your spell & tweet, Facebook, blog all about it to get more reads and increase your chance of winning! Contest runs from November 9th through December 7th. Open to US residents only.
For more rules & regulations visit this page.
London has provided many great fictional characters, from those that cram the pages of every novel by Dickens to the murky spies of the Cold War, fabulous Victorian monsters like Dr Jekyll/ Mr. Hyde and fictionalised versions of real historical characters like Thomas Cromwell in Hilary Mantel’s prize winning “Wolf Hall” and “Bring up the Bodies”.
Since it was the glamour and history of such characters that formed part of the magnetic draw London held for the central character in my first Wattpad book, “The Fabulous Dreams of Maggie de Beer”, some of my top five are linked to either Maggie’s life or my own.
1. Dorian Gray from “The Picture of Dorian Gray” by Oscar Wilde. A story about the fleeting nature of beauty, full of decadence, glamour and vanity. Dorian sells his soul in exchange for keeping his beauty – just as Maggie gives away her child in return for a chance at fame - while a hidden portrait of him ages instead. It provides a dark and seductive picture of London at the end of the nineteenth century, one of its most glamorous periods.
2. Karim Amir, the mixed race teenager from “The Buddha of Suburbia” by Hanif Kureishi. Like Maggie, Karim is desperate to escape from the suburbs of London and immerse himself in the exciting centre of the city in the 1970s. “I am an Englishman born and bred,” he says, “almost!” The novel resonates with references to pop music of the time, particularly the work of David Bowie who recorded a soundtrack for the book when it was later dramatised for television.
3. Johnny Chrome, a talentless glam-rock star from the same period who, in “Johnny Come Home” by Jake Arnott, has one enormous hit single and struggles with the consequences of his unearned stardom – the sort of stardom that Maggie de Beer would happily sell her soul for.
4. Nazeen, the central character in “Brick Lane” by Monica Ali, who is actually born in a hut in Bangladesh but, through an arranged marriage, ends up living the bleak life of an immigrant in London, seeing the modern city through a totally different lens.
5. The unnamed ghostwriter at the heart of “The Ghost” by Robert Harris (played in the film by Ewan McGregor). Here I have a vested interest because Mr. Harris quotes me at the start of every chapter and the character is basically living a fictionalised version of my own life. It is not only an accurate portrayal of a ghostwriter’s life, but a tense thriller about the aftermath of Tony Blair’s reign, written by an insider of the period.
I would be very interested to hear other Wattpadders’ nominations for their favourite fictionalised Londoners.
Listen to our podcast with Andrew Crofts, “The King of Ghost Writers”!
You can also read Andrew Crofts’ stories free on Wattpad.
Wouldn’t it be great to be able to see ghosts and talk to them? In The Medium, seventeen year-old spirit medium Emily doesn’t think so, especially after accidentally releasing a demon during one of her séances. That’s until she meets the deeply troubled but impossibly handsome ghost of Jacob Beaufort.
The Medium is the first book in the Emily Chambers Spirit Medium trilogy and can be read here on Wattpad.
About the Contest
If you could communicate with spirits (maybe you already can!), whose ghost would you like to talk to, and what question would you ask them? Post your answer here. Entries are open from November 1st to 30th. Only one entry per person, please.
KICKSTART YOUR WRITING: TRYING NEW THINGS TO FUEL YOUR WRITING
Welcome to the Wattpad Workshop Series!
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!
Week 25 (Missed the earlier writer’s workshop? Check the links at the end for every single one!)
This is the last week of this first 25-week workshop series. Next week, I’ll be starting a new weekly prompt but for this week we’re going to finish with a little look at how feedback can help you improve your writing.
Writing is an isolated job. You sit and stare at a computer screen or sheet of paper with only your characters as company. I say only, yet I find hanging out with my characters thrilling. I never feel lonely or bored. But sometimes I need to check in with other people (real people, I mean) and see if what I’m doing is working as well as I hope.
It may surprise you to know that before I send work to my editors, I get feedback from a close group of readers. My dad is normally the first one, sometimes my mum. Then I turn to three good writer friends. Based on what they say, I rewrite a draft. Then I go for more feedback. This time I send the project to a friend who is a teacher and also to a teenager who I trust. Then I send it to my sister. In a later draft (I redraft carefully before using all my readers up), I get my boyfriend to give me a read. Some of my readers just say nice things – every writer needs those people. Some are very good at spotting all the parts that need work (uh, my boyfriend!). Every writer needs those people too, readers who say it just as it is, yet who leave you feeling like there are things you can do to make the writing better. Some of my readers give careful, considerate edits written on the page, either line edits or structural comments. All of them bring something to the table.
Wattpad gives all of you the opportunity to share your work with readers regularly. This opportunity is new to emerging writers, and it’s exciting. But it can also be daunting and even off putting if you don’t learn how to use it well.
So, here are my tips for dealing with feedback from readers so you can make your work the best it can be.
This week’s writing prompt:
This week, I’ll read up to 650 words of ANYTHING you’re working on. Find something you want feedback on – read the tips first! – and I’ll get to work.
Post your responses here at the Weekly Workshop Series Discussion Thread! I’ll read and give feedback as often as I can.
Here are the links to all the other workshops if you want to check those out too:
Welcome to the showcase period of this year’s Watty Awards. Browse around on the Watty page, enjoy and read the finalists’ stories before casting your votes!
The finalist showcase will end on December 31, 2012 to make way for the voting period from January 1, 2013 to January 31, 2013.
We wish all the finalists good luck!
When you find yourself, either intentionally or by accident, in the teen section of your local bookstore, you can’t help but notice an alarming trend – paranormal romance, vampire romance, fantasy romance, romance romance. Now imagine me saying “Romance, romance, romance!” in the voice of Jan Brady. Don’t get me wrong – I like a steamy romance as much as the next young person. But the prominence of romance in young adult media can be overwhelming.
Thankfully, over the last few years, a new trend has emerged – films, books, and television shows focused on the platonic relationships. Not just between males and females – there have also been movies like The Hangover or The Grey (which exclusively focus on the dynamics between men) and Bridesmaids or Mean Girls (which exclusively focus on the dynamics between women and girls).
Even shows like My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic have picked up on the emerging fad, focusing on the strange and often chaotic relationships between girls in their formative years.
That said, oftentimes, when novels or movies or television shows focus on the relationships between females, they almost always focus on the negative aspect of those relationships. Take, for instance, a show like Pretty Little Liars– while the show is (mostly) focused on the main four girls and their complicated dynamics, the show’s driving force is the overabundance of secrets between them, and the potential problems those secrets could (and sometimes do) cause.
When I first had the idea to write The Stories We Tell, I knew that romance would have minimal (if any) relevance to the main plot. And, I admit, that worried me – knowing how popular romance is in teen fiction (both as a reader and someone who studies children’s literature for a living), how in the world could I write a book without it? But as I kept writing and getting to know my characters, I realized that their priorities were to save their little fishing town and the people they already cared about – and that adding a romance would be inauthentic to their story. I also knew that, while the girls would struggle in their development as friends, that the book would not be focused on what so many teen novels about female friends do – cat-fighting, rumor-starting, back-stabbing politics.
I didn’t purposefully avoid these tropes, or set out to challenge them – but I do think that it’s important to tell stories that encourage positive relationships that aren’t defined by romance or name-calling. That sometimes, the story isn’t about sex or manipulation or rivalry, but instead about companionship and loyalty and trust.
Read “The Stories We Tell” on Wattpad:
”We tell these stories — to friends, family, most often to ourselves. Do any of them matter? Are any of them real?”
Addalynn doesn’t mind being the town witch. The rumors of her “gift” keep the religious gossip-mongers at a distance, and with her parents gone, it’s best for Addalynn if no one tries to get too close. As long as things remain as they are, Addalynn is content to live in her parent’s home with her sarcastic familiar, Makena, and watch sunsets fall on her prized snapdragon garden.
Elladine feels that something is missing. Her father’s incessant concern for the “state of her soul” has pushed her away from the church, and her mother’s increasing passivity has only encouraged her distrust of anyone human. But neither of these things is the missing link, and Elladine can’t wait for the day when she can leave her home forever.
When an ancient race of demons appear in the nearby forest, Addalynn and Elladine must work together to protect the town from impending invasion. But a mysterious stranger also arrives, looking for any reason to commit Addalynn to the Asylum.
The unlikely pair have no choice but to unite and save their home. Is salvation possible without sacrificing themselves?
Told from alternating perspectives, The Stories We Tell confronts the human fear of insignificance while embracing love that grows like snapdragons in the winter — unexpectedly, defiantly, magically.
I, Aisling Fitzsimons, am proud to announce the winner of Aisling’s Summer Diary Fan Fiction Contest:
dwagonfwy will get her short story published as an extra chapter of Aisling’s Summer Diary!
Please fan her and keep voting and commenting on her story.
A big thank you to everyone that joined the competition, commented and voted.
I’ll let you know when the book becomes available! In the meantime be sure to read my chapters and watch my webisodes online @aislingsdiary.
A big round of applause to Maggie Shipstead, winner of the £30,000 University of Wales Dylan Thomas Prize this year!
The Dylan Thomas Prize is open to any published author in the English language under the age of 30. The award celebrates the legacy of Welsh poet and writer Dylan Thomas who wrote most of his best work in his 20’s. This prize aims to recognise and support the literary heroes of the future.
[Photo credit: James Davies]
As the largest community of readers and writers in the world, Wattpad is used by many aspiring and professional writers to discover and share stories. Maggie Shipstead is a great inspiration for young writers who hope to be similarly recognized by their literary peers.
Today, we interview Maggie about her writing experience and any advice she has for aspiring writers:
1. When did you first become a writer?
It’s difficult to say—everyone has different notions of what it means to be A Writer. I started experimenting with writing fiction when I was nineteen and studying at Harvard and took a fiction-writing workshop on a whim. Of course, what I wrote was terrible, but the next year I applied to a workshop Zadie Smith was leading. A list of who got in was posted the day before the semester began, and I went and checked and saw I wasn’t on it and sort of thought, “Oh, well. That writing thing was fun while it lasted.” But later someone congratulated me, and it turned out I’d been looking at the wrong list. Zadie’s workshop ended up being important for me because she cut a very inspiring figure—being young and witty and wildly brilliant and all—and was also very tough on everyone’s work. For some reason, being held to high standards had a galvanizing effect on me, and I started to understand that writing was an extremely long and demanding road but possibly one worth investigating. And since then I’ve pretty much been following opportunities wherever I can find them. After Harvard I spent two years doing an M.F.A. at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop; then I lived on an island for nine months while I wrote the first draft of Seating Arrangements, and then I was at Stanford University for two years on a writing fellowship. I’ve been tremendously fortunate. I consider myself A Writer these days because writing is what I do and what matters to me, and I think it’s best not to complicate the label.
Continue below for more on eReading, social media, tips for aspiring writers:
2. Which writer has had the biggest influence on your writing?
I couldn’t possibly just pick one! In the context of Seating Arrangements, I would probably have to say John Updike and John Cheever, the great chroniclers of New England WASPs, especially in terms of content and tone. I love how Jane Austen manages to balance sharpness and gentleness in her novels. I’m awestruck by other writers’ dexterity with point of view: Virginia Woolf and Henry Green, for example. As far as contemporary writers, I love Jeffrey Eugenides and Michael Chabon—they’re both marvellous stylists but don’t overprioritize style relative to story and character, which is something I aspire to do as well. There are many more.
3. A lot of writers these days use online communities like Wattpad to find “beta readers” who will give them feedback on their stories. Do you think that this type of reader-writer relationship is helpful for aspiring writers?
Absolutely, assuming you’re able to ferret out readers you trust and respect. I’ve spent a lot of time in writing workshops, and typically in any group of readers there are a couple people who just don’t get or like your writing and a couple people who instinctively understand what you’re trying to do. A teacher of mine called these people “ideal readers.” Ideal readers won’t necessarily love every word you put on paper and constantly praise you to the heavens, but they will appreciate your general aesthetic and be on your side and can offer the kind of criticism that’s really about improvement and not about personal taste.
4. You spent the week with your fellow finalists, visiting schools in Wales to inspire Welsh youngsters and turn the literary spotlight on Wales and its own great legacies. What was your favourite part of that whole journey?
It’s a close race between the time I spent getting to know the other writers and the time we spent in the schools. We met some students in Wales who were so obviously and radiantly smart and insightful and alive that even though our visits were short, I know I’ll remember them for a long time. I was completely charmed. Students who were only twelve or thirteen talked about writing and writers’ mindsets on an amazingly deep and intuitive level. They also wanted to know about growing up in California and what kind of dog I have, and I love anyone who will talk about my dog with me.
[Photo credit: James Davies]
The shortlisted writers shared a house for a week, so there were lots of jokes about Big Brother and about The Hunger Games, but we formed a strong bond. I was the oldest of the group, and the poise and brilliance of the others blew me away. They’re also insanely productive. Chibundu Onuzo is only twenty-one, so she began The Spider King’s Daughter when she was seventeen. Seventeen! She was so casual about it, too. She just said, “Oh, I had a lot of free time at boarding school.” Tom Benn is twenty-four and has already finished two follow-up books to The Doll Princess. Andrea Eames just turned twenty-seven and has published two novels. D.W. Wilson has another book on the way, too. They’re miraculous people, and I hope our paths cross again soon. Just as an aside—I also loved seeing the Dylan Thomas birthplace in Swansea. The house has been beautifully, lovingly restored to the way it was in 1914. Highly recommended to sightseers.
5. How does it feel to be named a rising star of the literary world?
Anything that seems like a positive sign for me being able to continue writing books as my livelihood is an unmitigated good, as far as I’m concerned. But I think it’s in my best interest not to pay too much attention to what’s said about me, good or bad. It’s a mistake to interpret praise or awards as any kind of promise from the cosmos that your path forward is guaranteed. I happened to finish my second novel before Seating Arrangements came out, which was really lucky because I felt like I was writing a first novel for the second time. Now, embarking on a third novel, I’m having to work harder to shut out the secondary chatter and concentrate on writing a good book.
6. What do you think of the gradual shift to eReading and self-publishing in the past few years?
I don’t have an innate animosity toward either. Or, honestly, an affinity for either. I don’t happen to own an e-reader, but I see their appeal—portability, affordability, the potential for multimedia. My feeling is that they won’t replace books anytime soon but that people are already differentiating between the kinds of books they want hard copies of and the kind of books they’re content to just have in an e-version. There’s also the perk that no one can see what you’re reading on an e-reader. (Hello, Fifty Shades of Grey?) Of course, I think it’s essential that ebooks be priced fairly for authors and publishers, but generally anything that encourages reading and knits reading culture into modern culture is a positive development. Self-publishing I’m more sceptical about. Certainly there are some phenomenal self-publishing success stories, but those writers have eventually ended up with traditional book deals. For me, the thought of publishing my work before I’ve had editorial feedback is horrifying. I trust and rely on my agent and my editor at Knopf to help me identify problems in my writing; we all want it to be as finished as it possibly can be before it’s sent out into the world. Some people perceive the publishing world to be closed to outsiders, but I don’t think that’s true. In my experience, agents and editors are very open to work from unknown writers—they just have to like it. They also have to think it will sell, but that’s a basic economic truth, not a nefarious plot to suppress art. Also, the publicity and marketing machinery within publishing houses does exponentially more to promote books than I ever could on my own.
7. Many writers, like best-selling Canadian author Margaret Atwood, use social media to connect with fans and promote their new works. Are you active in social media?
I am, yes. These days, especially as a young novelist starting out, you’re expected to help out your publisher by establishing some sort of online presence. That way, if someone reads about you or your book, they can find out more about you through mediums like Facebook and Twitter. I’ve been on Facebook since early 2003, so that’s a platform I’m especially comfortable with.
8. What advantages or disadvantages do you think writers these days have, compared to years ago when Internet use wasn’t as prevalent?
It’s a mixed bag. The internet is a massively powerful tool as far as word of mouth, of course, and I’m generally pro-communication. The number and variety of channels available now for getting the word out about a given book and for people to recommend books are extremely helpful, if overwhelming. Some bloggers have done a great job establishing themselves as wise readers, and they have large followings of people who trust their taste.
As far as disadvantages, the internet can be an echo chamber for negativity, whether or not it’s well-founded, and I’m not convinced that systems like the Amazon star ratings are helpful on balance. Sometimes readers wage weird one-star wars against certain books, even for things that are outside an author’s control, like pricing. It’s so easy to go on the internet and anonymously say something cruel or uninformed. Browsing for books on the internet is still imperfect, too. Communities are forming where people direct each other toward books they might enjoy, but I still like to go into bookstores and look at the covers and stumble upon writers that way. I’m not sure there’s a digital replacement for that yet, and I suspect that’s part of why the internet is tough on mid-list books. I have no complaints about the way things went for my particular book, but, in general, big bookselling websites tend to promote bestsellers so heavily that they drown out good books by people who don’t necessarily churn out four a year with teams of minion-writers. I have qualms about accessibility, too. It’s wonderful to hear from strangers and friends who have read the book and enjoyed it, but keeping up with social media and being as friendly and open as I want to be can also be a drain on time and energy. I don’t know how writers with very big followings manage. I imagine they eventually have to sort of absent themselves from the whole cacophony, but then they run the risk of being criticized for being aloof. Seems tricky.
[Photo credit: James Davies]
9. How do you plan to continue your writing career after receiving such a prestigious award?
I’m really looking forward to getting back to work. I spent a lot of the summer promoting Seating Arrangements and writing short pieces for websites and things like that, and then I spent October deciding to abandon a novel I’d started. My editor has promised me notes on my second book (which I finished last spring) around the end of the month, so I’ll be busy revising soon. And I have a seductively new and shiny novel idea (to borrow a phrase from Andrea Eames) to replace the one that died on me. I feel purposeless when I’m not fully engaged with writing a book or a short story. I like to be free enough to get into a daily work routine. The Prize is such an honor, but I’m going to have to put Dylan’s little bronze head on a shelf and get on with things.
10. What advice can you give to young writers on Wattpad who aspire to be as successful as you one day?
Read. That’s always the first thing. Read as widely and diversely as possible, and not just fiction. I probably read more nonfiction than fiction, partly because I’m more forgiving and relaxed toward its style and also because I pick up all kinds of interesting tidbits that eventually get incorporated into my work. Be rigorous about your writing and never be self-congratulatory or complacent. But! At the same time, don’t be so hard on yourself that you become paralyzed. Everything is a work in progress. You can’t expect first drafts to be perfect (or even readable, sometimes), and you can’t expect the first story you write to be as good as the twentieth or fiftieth. No piece of writing, even if it goes through a million drafts, will ever be perfect, actually, so it’s better to do your absolute best and then give yourself permission to move on and not look back.
Find out more about the Dylan Thomas Prize on their website!
The National Reading Campaign, an unprecedented coalition of librarians, educators, booksellers, publishers, readers and writers, is launching its campaign to bring the joy of reading to Canadians.
Wattpad urges you to join us in supporting the National Reading Campaign and its ‘What did you read today?’ campaign. Public libraries and schools can win $1000 in new books for their library! To learn more on how to enter their contest, visit http://nationalreadingcampaign.ca/
When Wattpad let me know that they were interested in featuring Soulwoven on their site, they also asked me a question: since I chose to serialize the book (post a chapter every few days) rather than put the whole thing up at once, would I mind writing a blog post about the benefits of doing so? And could I talk about whether I thought I had reached new readers by serializing?
Being a glutton for an interesting project, I said yes.
The answer to Wattpad’s second question, by the way, is also yes. Serializing absolutely introduced me to new readers. And I’m not the only one it’s worked for.
Before I break down how and why I know that, it’s worth going into how I posted Soulwoven on Wattpad. When I started putting up chapters of the book in June, I had a pretty simple plan: post a chapter a week, along with some blog posts and videos about what I was trying to do. I wasn’t tracking any numbers at the time, but I remember noticing that every time I posted a chapter, I got a quick burst of new reads.
Shortly thereafter, Wattpad contacted me about featuring Soulwoven and asked how soon I would be able to get the whole story up.
Their request significantly sped up my schedule. For a while, I posted a chapter a day. A few months in, I started tracking my category rankings, new reads, and some other numbers as I posted.
Between then and its feature date, Soulwoven went from 956 reads to more than 18,000.
I didn’t do any promotional work to support it. I just wrote.
So I’m quite certain that almost every read I got came from serializing the novel.
The reason for that lies in the discovery engines that Wattpad uses. There are a lot of ways to find a story on the site, but one of the chief ones (for me, anyway) is the “Browse” page. And one of the options on the “Browse” page is to list the most recently updated books in a category.
I found out pretty quickly that people must use that list. Every time I posted a chapter, I would get six or seven new reads within the first few minutes. So I know I was driving discovery that way.
But I’m pretty sure that serialization also helps boost your Wattpad category rankings.
I’m not entirely sure how the ranking algorithms work, but I’m reasonably certain that they’re based on new votes received over a short period of time (like a few days). Most importantly, they seem to correct for an individual user voting multiple times during that period.
For instance, if three users all vote for a chapter of Soulwoven on the same day, I usually see my ranking go up. If just one user votes for three (or eighteen, or thirty) chapters of Soulwoven on the same day, my ranking tends not to move much at all.
But if the same user votes once every three days or so, I tend to maintain the rankings benefit from their vote.
Serializing a book takes advantage of that effect. The readers who become your biggest fans vote for each new chapter as it comes out, which helps keep your book higher in the rankings, which in turn introduces it to new readers.
Maybe most importantly of all, when I finished uploading Soulwoven, the number of readers starting the book dropped rapidly to zero. The bump I was hoping to see from people knowing that they could finish the story never materialized.
If I had posted every chapter on the same day, I might never have broken 1,000 reads.
So that’s that. Serialization helped me find new readers. Maybe more importantly, posting as I went let me gather feedback and support from the Wattpad community. People cheered me on at times when I really needed it and pointed out weaknesses that I hadn’t seen. The feedback led me to write a better book and finish it sooner.
Because there’s nothing like waking up after wrestling with a difficult chapter and thinking you’ll never make it as a writer, then finding out that a stranger in Pakistan loves your book.
If you want a fuller chronicle of my experience on Wattpad, you can check the series of posts on my blog entitled “The Grand Experiment.”
And if you want to read Soulwoven (which I hope you will—it’s got magic and mystery and dragons and dreams and true love and love lost and battles and earthquakes and giant worms and a whole lot more), you can start it here.
Read Soulwoven FREE on Wattpad!
(YA High Fantasy) Litnig Jin has spent his whole life yearning to be different. His best friend weaves the souls of the dead into magic. His brother runs with a gang of thieves in Eldan City’s seedy north side. But Litnig? Litnig doesn’t even dream.
Until the first day of spring in his 20th year.
Litnig’s dream of moving statues, shattered chains, and seething clouds of darkness sets him and his friends on a journey that will change them forever. A prince asks for their help. A necromancer hunts them. A dragon whispers terrible words in their nightmares.
And as they travel the world of Guedin seeking to prevent the god Yenor’s hatred from coming to life, Litnig learns that there are prices to pay for all power, and that his may cost more than he can possibly afford.
Listen to our newest podcast on Wattpad!
Doug Brownlie is currently writing a serialized novel on Wattpad: the James Bond-esque thriller romance “Consequences Unforeseen”. A successful businessman, novelist, and consultant in the areas of counter terrorism and surveillance, Doug has a very unique take on storytelling, which he shares with us in this podcast.
Read his stories for FREE on Wattpad!
Plus, this December 2012, Doug is hosting a cover design contest on Wattpad! Fan him on Wattpad to get instant updates.
Hello Wattpadders. My name is Peter Ansay and I’m @colliderworld on Wattpad. This is Part 1 of my guest post.
Today I found myself thinking about the great scientists that throughout history rocked our understanding of the world and the universe. Names like Aristotle, Ptolemy, Archimedes, Copernicus, Galileo, Kepler, Newton, Planck, Einstein, Bohr, Hawking and so many others came to mind.
Science evolves thanks to those who are ahead of their time, but that also means that most of those revolutionary and courageous pioneers were first misunderstood and only later recognized. Now they are praised for their amazing discoveries but they were once viewed as mad scientists.
Copernicus is a great example. He was the first to postulate that the sun is the centre of the solar system, displacing the Earth from the centre of the universe, as it was commonly believed at the time.
He was severely criticized. It was a revolutionary theory that striped the Earth of its astronomical importance and that simply did not make sense for people at the time. But the heliocentric theory introduced by Copernicus, though imperfect, was correct.
Galileo was able to support Copernicus belief by dedicating his life to the observation of planets and to the improvement of the telescope. And although his research lead to a life of persecution from the Church, Galileo was able to show that the sun was actually the centre of the solar system and that the Earth was round.
Kepler then corrected his predecessors by proving that the planets move around the sun in an elliptical orbit, rather than in a circular one. His three laws of planetary movement were paramount to Newton’s work on gravity and shaped the history of astronomy and physics.
Newton’s law of universal gravitation and his three laws of movement changed the path of science once again.
Until, two centuries later, the most famous mad scientist of all time proved that Newton was wrong in his premise that time and space were absolute. Einstein put the whole universe in question with his Theory of Relativity, shaking the foundations of classical physics.
As Einstein did, so did Bohr when he postulated about the atomic structure.
He realized that the rules of classical physics did not apply at a subatomic level, so he used Planck’s quantum theory to dissect the atom, giving birth to a whole new field of science – Quantum Physics.
I hope you understand that I’m not trying to give you a history lesson; I just want you to understand… The greatest geniuses of science were, in certain times of history, considered crazy. But they were the ones that dared to think differently, the ones that were brave enough to try new approaches.
They can call me a mad scientist all they want. The future – if it still exists – will be the truth teller.
All I can say is thank you. Thank you for reading and watching my story. I prepared this little video to tell you just that.
I know I can count on you to help me save the world.
If you want to know more about Collider, fan me on Wattpad and read my graphic novel on Amazon, iBookStore, App Store and Play Store. You can also get the first Comic Book for free on my facebook page.
The second part of my guest post will be released on Tuesday with an exclusive Wattpad interview with me. We’ll be talking about Time Travel.