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    Wattpad brings you a guest post from Erasmo Guerra, whose memoir “Once More to the River” is currently featured on Wattpad.

    Here, he talks about how his life experiences combined with his imagination to produce his unique writing style today:

    ————

    I spent most of my childhood living in books that hardly reflected my arid reality…

    Hunting the wooded area just beyond the ramshackle neighborhood where I grew up, I turned over rocks and poked sticks into the dirt, looking for the red and yellow salamanders I read about in books. I never did find the critters. And it was just as well. When I showed the photos to my mom, she shuddered and claimed salamanders squirmed into your body at night and laid eggs in your belly.

    Whatever. My mom just didn’t want me keeping animals in the house. 

    We lived in the wrong part of the country anyway. Or, at least, the climate was all wrong. In the desert and subtropical region of South Texas, all I came across were geckos—colorless house lizards that crawled up the walls at night and whose tails broke off and jumped around with a life of their own. There were also prehistoric-looking horned toads that skittered across the dusty roads, though my mom always warned that if you picked them up, you’d get a wart.

    After reading yet another field guide on keeping wild animals as pets, I lay awake at night and listened hard for the sound of flying squirrels gliding among the treetops. Or I listened for the hiss of raccoons and the howl of hunting dogs like the pair that trotted through the pages of the novel “Where the Red Fern Grows.” But the only thing I heard outside my bedroom window were buzzing cicadas the size of fists and the slow work of red ants chewing the tree bare in the front yard.

    I spent most of my childhood living in books that hardly reflected my arid reality. At some point the disappointment must’ve evaporated with the heat. Or it was distilled into determination. I began to observe my world, stocking my imagination with the native things I would come to sketch in my own stories, ultimately learning that where a red fern doesn’t grow, a cactus flower blooms. 

    So, like a reporter, now I take notes of everything around me. In my stories you won’t see backdrops of shady elms and maples, but of mesquite and huizache and spiny paddle cactus. I write stories I wish I had growing up, with the added hope that they offer a kind of map to readers navigating emotional landscapes in which they also find themselves dealing with disappointment and loss.  

    Read Erasmo Guerra’s non-fiction memoir, “Once More to the River” on Wattpad. 

    “Like the howl of an accordion—half sorrow and half joy, wondrous and exquisite—these stories squeezed my heart.” —Sandra Cisneros, author of “The House on Mango Street”

    In “Once More to the River,” Erasmo Guerra writes a moving account of his boyhood on the Texas-Mexico border.

    An award-winning novelist and journalist, Guerra explores present-day political and cultural realities, and recounts the shattering loss his family suffered when his teenage sister was murdered.

    Told with lyrical prose and a reporter’s ear for the “Tex-Mex” language of the region, these stories capture the voices of South Texas. By turns humorous and haunting, powerful and tender, this collection is an intensely personal chronicle of tragedy and the triumph of survival.


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    Vincent Lam's "Who Would You Invite to Dinner" Contest:

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    Wattpad quizzed Giller Prize winning author Vincent Lam about where he goes to find inspiration, which fictional character he’d most want to be and who he’d want to invite to his dream dinner party.

    He gave us his answers here and now we want to hear yours! In 50 words or less, tell Vincent which three writers (dead or alive) or fictional characters you’d most want to invite over to dinner and he’ll judge the entries, choosing 5 winners. The prize is a signed copy of Vincent’s most recent novel, “The Headmaster’s Wager” from Random House Canada.

    Click here to enter.

    Contest dates: December 11, 2012 to January 11, 2013


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  • 12/12/12--06:00: I Write Without Words
  • Wattpad brings you a guest post from John Chan, whose fantasy adventure novel “Tree of Life” is currently one of our Featured Stories.

    Here, he talks about one key element in storytelling, whether with music or with words:

    [Photo Source: Liverpool Daily Post]

    Over the last year, I have finally begun a journey to at last fulfill a long time childhood dream.

    I am taking cello lessons.

    Yikes!

    My expectations have never been grand. I have always and only wanted to be proficient enough so that on some rainy day in September and I had nothing better to do, I could pull up a chair, draw the blinds up in my study and play some melancholy tune, whilst I watch the neighbours go by and listen to the pitter-patter upon my rooftop. That’s all. I have never harboured hopes of playing some day in a grand concert hall somewhere, with thousands of people watching and listening to every stroke of my bow. In fact, that would probably scare me silly!

    Instead, I think that gazing out the window as I played, with a cup of coffee on my tabletop, piping hot, waiting for me there would do just fine. I would feel at peace. And accomplished, having come so far in my life and it would be good.

    My cello teacher is very nice. He has studied music all his life. He tells me that learning to play the instrument is important, but not the most important. The same is true of playing the right notes, and playing them clearly and cleanly and playing them so that they are neither sharp nor flat. These are all important. But not the most important. Just as each and every note is important, but none of them are important, all at the same time.

    What is most important, he tries to tell me again and again, and I try to understand though wisdom perhaps is in the half-understanding, is what is being said with the notes. And the emotions that the notes convey. The drama. The tragedy. The comedy. The love. The horror. The laughter and the tears.

    “What are you trying to say with them?” His eyes twinkle.

    “What?” I ask, my brows furrowed. “But there are no lyrics. There are no words. How can I say anything? Where is the meaning in that?”

    He sits back. He nods. He closes his eyes, the case closed. “Exactly,” he says. “That is exactly right.”

    These are the words I continue to chew on today.

    And when I sit down to write, when the morning light comes through my window just the right way, when the streams of vapor from my coffee cup swirls upward in just the right manner, then for a moment, just a fleeting moment, I think I might know what he meant. And that’s when I write the best, I think.

    That’s when I play without notes.

    That’s when I write without words.

    Read John Chan’s “Tree of Life” on Wattpad:

    This is a thirteen year old boy’s journey into magical healing. It is a time of awakening. Awakening to who you are, what you are meant to be, of friends and young love, of power and its use for good or evil. A short novella of fourteen chapters.


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    Congratulations to Beth Reeks, author of “The Kissing Booth” on Wattpad, for getting a publishing deal with Random House UK! 

    Watch her thank-you video for her fans and everyone who’s supported her throughout her writing journey.

    authorbethreeks:

    When I was first posting The Kissing Booth on Wattpad, I couldn’t believe the response I was getting, or how much people enjoyed my book. Then it won a Watty Award, and I was completely ecstatic. If I was grateful to the whole Wattpad community then, it doesn’t even begin to cover the gratitude I feel now.
    I’d never have had this publishing contract without the support from everyone on Wattpad - my readers, everyone who voted and commented, the whole Wattpad team. Thank you. Thank you so much for everything you’ve done to help me get such an incredible opportunity x

    (ps. sorry for the bad quality of the video!)


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    Which version of Mark Jeffrey’s “Armand Ptolemy and the Golden Aleph” do you like better - 1 or 2?


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    Wattpad brings you a guest post from Shane Joseph, writer of the short story collection “Lest They Be Forgotten”.

    Trying to break the romanticism created by previous generations of writers, and to provide perspective on the current reality of this profession:

    I was asked to deliver a motivational talk to a group of writers recently. Me? A guy who hangs between feast and famine (mostly famine) in his writer’s journey, and who self-medicates daily on the Bob Marley oldie, “Don’t worry, about a thing. Cause every little thing’s gonna be all right, yo!”

    I thought I was being set up for a fall and began to panic, seeking out my “three little birds”—even one would do, I prayed. Then I said to myself, “Wait a minute, son – you got into this gig willingly, no one asked you to be a writer. Besides, others have endured worst fates.” Let’s see:

    1. Rebelais, Cervantes and Defoe served prison sentences, and flirted with bankruptcy and madness.
    2. Balzac was eternally broke, and Flaubert and Kafka died unrecognized.
    3. Dostoevsky and Solzenitsyn ended up in Siberian prisons, while Pasternak was stripped off his writer’s union privileges and forced to decline the Nobel prize.
    4. Maupassant committed suicide brought on by venereal disease.


    5. Zola went bankrupt defending a Jew’s rights to a fair trial.
    6. Thomas Hardy sold less than 20 copies each of his first three books.
    7. Nietzsche paid to publish Thus Spake Zarathusthra that went on to sell all of 40 copies.
    8. Virginia Woolf dismissed Ulysses as “an illiterate and underbred novel.” She had husband Leonard publish her work. By today’s definition, wouldn’t we say that Joyce & Woolf were both self-published authors?
    9. Hemingway blew his brain out when it refused to produce brilliant prose anymore.
    10. Fitzgerald died an alcoholic, yadda yadda…

    “You are not alone,” my little bird said (she was present, after all), “greater ones, have suffered this mortal coil too.” So I decided to craft a new definition of today’s writer, one that might reflect reality rather than the romantic fantasy we were weaned on.

    The writer of today:

    • Writes daily – this is a commitment. Ray Bradbury said it takes about 10 years before what you have written becomes publishable. (I am in my eleventh year. Have I graduated?)

    • Has a day job or a retirement income or a wealthy spouse.

    • Writes a lot of free stuff, instantly published and sometimes instantly forgotten (try Facebook or better yet, read my stories on Wattpad and try not to forget them).

    • Is grateful when someone reads his work (Remember: Wattpad! Or did I tell you about that already?)

    • Writes to make sense out of her life and leave a legacy.

    • Writes to have fun and calm his active imagination. It’s cheaper than paying for a shrink.

    • Realizes that going viral is a like winning a lottery. So just fogetaboutit! And write!

    • Realizes that her reward is in heaven.

    Thus, armed with this epiphanic re-framing, I headed off to my presentation. Reframing is wonderfully therapeutic. It can make the impossible possible. Just don’t make the goal posts too narrow for you might get a swollen head at how successful you are and never try harder again.

    In a future blog post (if I am invited back) I will let you know whether I received laurel wreaths or rotten tomatoes after my presentation.

    Read Shane Joseph’s “Lest They Be Forgotten” on Wattpad:

    Once-told tales of losing home, wandering abroad, and finding home again.


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  • 12/15/12--11:00: Authors to Watch
  • Briony Heneberry shares her personal reading list of promising writers on Wattpad. Check out her reviews below!

    Briony Heneberry’s ‘Authors To Watch’ Reading List

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    Eva Wilde Vs The Zombie Apocalypse - jenmariewilde

    What I like about zombie stories, rather than vampire stories, is that generally there is a greater emphasis on the testing of humanity under stress. I’m no stranger to writing about the undead, but Jen’s ‘Eva Wilde Vs The Zombie Apocalypse’ is written from the perspective of a protagonist much younger than I’m used to.

    Aside from my growing interest in the story itself, what really drives me to watch Jen’s progress, is her genuine desire to improve the quality of her writing. It can be tough taking even constructive criticism when you start out, but Jen has already shown that she’s willing to take on board comments directed at making her writing more effective.

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    Return To Sender - seeMISARCHIST

    The expression in this short story is superb.

    It can be difficult to establish a realistic context for a setting in a short story because you’ve a limited amount of space for exposition. The motives and the rawness of this protagonist’s emotions, however, are poignantly, beautifully, and horrifically conveyed through rhythmic diversity, carefully selected adjectives, and often-distressing figurative language.

    It’s not a happy story, but it is a good one.

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    The Nothing Cupcake - EgoAnt

    There are an awful lot of emotionally cliché, sad-sack stories on Wattpad, about how horrible someone’s life is and how they wish it was over. I don’t buy into this because I have my own demons to deal with, but Aaron Clifford’s ‘The Nothing Cupcake’ caught my eye; titles are important.

    It starts quiet seriously, and has you wondering why on Earth someone would wish themselves erased from existence completely; it’s hilarity from then on. It’s not nearly as nihilistic as it first seems; there is clever humour in the way Aaron describes small details like counting out change, or noting the exact time an event occurs.

    You’re still left with questions by the end… questions and a craving for cupcakes.

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    (Title Undecided) - kaitbannan

    When I read a story, I like it to be about something. I’m not quite sure if I got that from kaitbannan’s as yet untitled story, but I know I got something: something enough for me to vote, and comment, and add it to my reading list.

    Though I’m not sure what plot might develop, I do know that kaitbannan’s character development and attention to detail in descriptions, will produce truly multi-dimensional images in a reader’s mind. In merely a page, she has shown that even something as mundane as getting up and going for a run can be interesting and immersive. 

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    Poetry in Motion - EmmaMillard

    Dun dun duuuun. Poems!

    It takes something beyond the ‘dark and crimson blood soaked, tragic, gloomy, wind swept, tear-streaked’ trite concoctions of so much poetry to impress the likes of me.  Don’t get me wrong, there is a place for the heart-felt and heart-string tugging, and I’ve certainly written my fair share, but Emma’s ‘Poetry in Motion’ collection will make you smile.

    Her poems have true ‘bounce’ and are not bound by any particular rules or form, which is perhaps what I like most about them. They’re sometimes silly, sometimes childish, sometimes serious, and sometimes sad; they’re diverse in theme and topic, accessible and entirely enjoyable, every one.

    Ready for more? Check out Briony Heneberry’s featured story on Wattpad, “Reluctant Death”:

    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.


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    IMPROVE YOUR WRITING EVERY WEEK WITH WATTPAD

    Welcome to the Wattpad Weekly Writing Prompt!

    Start anytime.

    These are free writing prompts 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 prompts are posted every Monday on the Wattpad Insider.

    To join in: read the prompt and get writing – post your writing on the Weekly Workshop Series Discussion Threadwhere I’ll give feedback as much as I can!

    The prompts are written 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 Five

    Remember, what your characters DO keeps your story moving forward and reveals who your characters ARE. You need a good mix of slow and fast pacing in your writing, so this week we’re practicing writing something fast paced and action driven.

    Imagine a character in a shopping mall.

    They hear someone start screaming.

    Thinking about action and pacing, (there’s no time for the character to think/reflect/ponder) write up to 500 words describing what happens next.

    Post your responses here at the Weekly Workshop Series Discussion Thread! I’ll read and give feedback as often as I can.


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    Wattpad brings you a guest post from Jamie Magee, writer of “Insight”, a paranormal romance:

    “A dream you dream alone is only a dream. A dream you dream together is reality.”

    ― John Lennon

    It is absolutely insane to me how just a few simple words written by someone I will never know could reach into my soul and bring to light a sacred and seemingly universal truth. How a single written point could so beautifully illustrate the idea that we are all somehow connected to one another - each of us a part of a larger whole that we’ll never truly grasp. That is, unless we dare to dream with others. Which is precisely what Wattpad allows us all to do, right? Share our daydreams and momentarily escape into the uncharted worlds that exist only because we breathed life into them.

    If you were to ask anyone who really knew me what my obsessions are (beyond music and Red Bull), they would tell you I love to seek and notice the connections in life - to take in those subtle and often fleeting glimpses, in which the universe shows how closely we can all truly relate to one another. But the noticing isn’t enough; I am obsessed with trying to express these connections in the form of vivid daydreams that eventually come to life in fate-driven love stories. All that to say this: my closest friends would tell you that I am obsessed with being a writer.

    When I first began writing I was given solid advice: “write what you love, what you have a passion for, or your readers will never feel passion for your words.” That one little gem was the catalyst that let me embrace the freedom that the written word was created to express.

    In that sense, it is easy for me to look back at my debut story, “Insight”, and see my passions: dreams, soul-mates, fate, and, of course, the Zodiac. Pepper those passions with anything mystical or magical and you have my attention. For the initiated, I should probably have just summed up that last bit by saying that I’m a full-blooded Scorpio!

    Anyway, in my story I was able to take a dream shared by two souls and weave them into a past, present and most importantly, a future. But writing about a love that stands in the face of fate was not fulfilling enough for me; I had to know why these souls were meant for each other. What mystical powers pulled their beings through space and time each night? 

    This is where the Zodiac came in. Don’t laugh; while I’m sure many of you know the Zodiac signs for yourselves and any potential significant others (you simply must check for astrological compatibility, right?), you will find that once you get past the egocentric side of the Zodiac, there lie innumerable twists, turns, and other mysteries that can cause your imagination to run wild. At least, that’s what happened to me!

    When you step into the pages of “Insight”, I hope to show you that the love of soul mates does not live in bliss but in unrest, that this life we live now is but a moment in the scope of our total existence, and that the Zodiac may indeed shape your characteristics or the mood of the air. However, when all is said and done, it is you who controls the outcome, you control your fate.

    In the end, isn’t that what we all want? To know that we can exhibit some kind of control over the path of our lives? And yet, very few of us realize we do indeed have such power; that with every breath, with every thought, we create and guide the world around us, just as diligently as we create our own fictional worlds.

    I’m very excited to share one of my passions with this amazing community!

    Read Jamie Magee’s “Insight” on Wattpad:

    Willow Haywood has always been trapped between the worlds of the Light and the Dark. Her waking hours are plagued by her ability to feel the emotions of those around her. No matter how inward she draws, she cannot shut out the feelings of others. Sometimes she will see images - echoes of other people and places - that she can enter to influence the emotions of people she has never met.

    By night, Willow experiences her only escape from this terrible insight - entering into the world of dreams. Most of these dreams are shared in blissful silence with a stunning blue-eyed boy. But every new moon she lives through something much darker: a horrific nightmare shared by another mysterious boy who is always shrouded by shadows.

    One night, this shadowy figure invades her dreams outside of his appointed time. In this new nightmare, Willow is marked; a mark which follows her into the waking world and sets her on a momentous path through light and darkness, through fragmented myth and half-truths, through past lives and disturbing family secrets, all in the face of the ever-dominant Zodiac. What she finds will endanger the lives of those closest to her and will force her to make a decision that will change her world forever.


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  • 12/19/12--11:04: Top Five Movie Mermaids
  • Wattpad brings you a guest post from Shana Norris, writer of “Surfacing,” Book One in the Swans Landing series. 

    Here, she shares with us her favourite fictional mermaids in film. Read her story “Surfacing” on Wattpad for more underwater adventures:

    I have always had a love for mermaids, which is a big part of the reason I wrote Surfacing and the rest of the Swans Landing series. As kids, my friend and I used to spend our summers in her pool pretending to be mermaids. (Trying to keep your legs together while swimming is not easy!) I mean, who wouldn’t want to be a mermaid? They’re usually depicted as being beautiful and magical, and they can swim to the parts of the ocean that us humans could only imagine going to. The downside would be smelling like fish all the time, but I guess it’s something you’d get used to after a while.

    Of course, I have a weakness for movies that feature mermaids. I just have to watch them! Here are my top five favorite mermaids from movies:




    1. Ariel from The Little Mermaid– You knew she would be in this list, didn’t you? I was nine years old when this movie first came out and I can still remember the lyrics to most of the songs. (That probably means I watched it a little too often.) Life is better down where it’s wetter, but Ariel decided to give it all up for a human life with her prince. Sigh! True love!


    2. Madison from Splash - I don’t know how many times I watched this movie as a kid in the 80s! The mermaid Madison saves Tom Hanks’s character from drowning and eventually goes on land to find him again. Except that she can’t let anyone know she’s really a mermaid. Which, of course, causes a lot of funny and awkward situations. It’s a great romantic comedy that’s still funny now.

     

    3. Aquamarine from Aquamarine– This is definitely a fun movie, targeted at the tween audience but older audiences can enjoy it too! It’s silly, but funny and heartwarming. Aquamarine can grant wishes and agrees to help two friends stay together if they can help her prove that true love does exist.

     

    4. Mermaids in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire– Yes, it’s not really a mermaid movie and the mermaids only have a brief appearance. But aren’t they kind of awesome? While other movies depict mermaids as beautiful, peaceful, and naïve, Goblet of Fire’s mermaids are fierce and kind of scary. Definitely a change from the mermaids we’re used to seeing! 

    5. Syrena and the other mermaids in Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides– Finally we get to see mermaids in this pirate series! These mermaids are like the darker tales of mer-people: beautiful, manipulative, and very dangerous, with the exception of Syrena, who is different from the others. I love watching the mermaids in this movie!

    Read Shana Norris’ paranormal fiction “Surfacing” on Wattpad!

    Sixteen-year-old Mara Westray has just lost her mother, and now, being shipped off to live with the father she doesn’t know is not how she imagined grieving. She’s already counting down the days until she turns eighteen and can leave the tiny island of Swans Landing.

    But from the moment she steps off the ferry, nothing is as ordinary as it looks. Whispers of a haunting song on the wind make her see impossible things, and she isn’t sure she can trust her judgment about what is real and what isn’t anymore. Maybe she can’t even trust her judgment about quiet Josh Canavan, whose way of speaking in riddles and half-truths only confuses her more, luring her deeper into the secrets hidden beneath the ocean’s surface.

    As she tries to unravel the events that led to her mom fleeing the island sixteen years ago, Mara finds that the biggest secret of all is only the beginning.


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    Wattpad brings you a guest post from John G. Lenard, writer of thriller adventure ”Murder in Steel”:

    Art imitates life.  In 1956, at the time of the unsuccessful Hungarian revolution against Soviet domination, Professor Lederer, the hero of my book “Murder in Steel”, is accused of murdering a Communist VIP. This premise was suggested to me when I read about the untimely death of a Communist functionary in 1973. During a visit to a steel mill, he fell – or was pushed? – into the hot steel and died in agony. 

    Lederer is a trained spy, he is a coffee addict, a professor of engineering, he loves good food and he is a seasoned traveler. He has learned to remain cool at all times regardless of danger or confrontation, all helpful traits when, in 2002, he faces interrogation, torture and kidnapping by a few frustrated agents of the former Hungarian Secret Service.

    Lederer knows karate, handy when needed to scare his enemies. His love of coffee allowed me to write about the cafés of Budapest. His background in research taught him to analyze seemingly disparate events and allowed me to write about the machinations of the agents, attempting to use him in their conspiracy to bring back the dictatorship of the proletariat. His extensive travels led me to write how to navigate in strange lands. He believes that Communism is a very bad idea, especially as it was applied in the country of his birth, Hungary. 

    I visit Hungary often. I visited while Communism and the dictatorship of the proletariat ruled and I visited after the change of regimes well over twenty years ago. The changes have been immense, especially where young people are involved.  Older people got used to the assurances of the state, (“you will be looked after”) and saving for their retirement wasn’t even considered. Young people have become dynamic, they plan for their future, they invest, they study languages, and they read the once forbidden and censored Western literature.

    The Gypsy music, the operas, the exquisite food, chicken paprikash for one, the old world cafés, the turn-of-the- 20th century architecture, and the swimming pools fed by hot springs all contribute to the special ambience of Budapest. My novel reflects life in Budapest today.

    I trust that members of Wattpad as well as others will enjoy reading my book, the first reviewer of which wrote that it is “a darkly entertaining page turner”. Let me know what you think.

    Read John G. Lenard’s thriller “Murder in Steel” on Wattpad:

    “Murder in Steel” describes the adventures of Professor Lederer who arrives as a tourist in Budapest in 2002, the city where he grew up. On arrival he is brutally arrested. The accusation: that as a young employee at a steel mill in 1956, he caused the agonizing death of a visiting Communist minister by pushing him into the molten steel. Lederer, determined to uncover the mystery behind this allegation, unravels the workings of a conspiracy to avenge the past and the re-establish the Communist reign of terror.


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  • 12/20/12--16:00: Cover-Off: "The Hobbit"
  • Which version of “The Hobbit” by J.R.R. Tolkien do you like better - 1, 2, or 3?


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    Wattpad brings you a guest post from Gytha Lodge, writer of fantasy adventure “The Fragile Tower”:

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    There’s something uniquely exciting and wonderful about the thought of another world just around the corner, or within touching distance of ours. With the launch of The Fragile Tower, which is my own other worldly tale, it seems like a good time to look at some of the greatest fantasy tales to feature other worlds.

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    [Photo via IMDB]

    1. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe  - C. S. Lewis

    C. S. Lewis’ series of adventures featuring Narnia started with the story of four children evacuated to a gloomy country house during the war. It was to become the trigger for their great adventure, after the youngest, Lucy, stumbled through the back of a wardrobe whilst playing hide and seek, and found a new world.

    What makes it great:

    It isn’t hard to understand why the series struck a chord with readers. In a time of hardship after the Second World War, finding something magical to come out of that war would have been powerful and consoling. There is just as much power in the idea of a figure who watches over us, testing us and acting as conscience, but in the end also saving us, as Aslan does for the children.

    What it meant to me:

    I was seven when I first read The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and I was captivated by the idea that there might be a strange and magical world hidden behind the ordinary one I lived in. I spent much of the next year peering through holes in fences and searching out gaps in walls in the hope that I would find the door to another world. I gave up on wardrobes pretty quickly after my poor mother lost her temper with my determination to empty everything out of them and clamber in. (Strangely, to this day I dislike putting anything into wardrobes and prefer to use “floor storage” as a method. My mother still finds this irritating.)

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    [Photo via IMDB]

    2. His Dark Materials – Philip Pullman

    Philip Pullman writes of not just one, but a multitude of other worlds. Lyra’s world, with its powerful church determined to stamp out what it sees as sin, its armoured bears, and the daemons which represent part of each person, is captivating from the first book. And the magic only increases as the series progresses, and we follow Will from our world into Citagazze, a place where awful beings called Spectres have chased all the adults away, and on into the world of the Dead and the land of the Mulefa, creatures which create their own wheels.

    What makes it great:

    The series doesn’t just provide well-realised and detailed other worlds, but a whole philosophy of existence that links them all together and reflects back on our own world and existence. The skill with which Pullman reveals that philosophy little by little is nothing short of extraordinary, and the scope of the tale (with wars between men and angels, witches and creatures) is equally vast. And yet, in the end, it’s really a very personal story about a young boy and a young girl, and at times it is heartbreaking.

    What it meant to me:

    The series was one I reached for whilst waiting for Harry Potter book four to come out, and I started with The Subtle Knife before going back to read about Lyra’s story in The Northern Lights. Any series which motivates you to do that is a good one, and I was itching for that final instalment for the next year (as well as talking about it incessantly to my poor, long-suffering school-friends. Fourteen-year-olds can be a lot more patient than you’d think).

    I don’t mind admitting that I cried buckets when I got to the end. For about an hour and a half. I can’t remember another book doing that to me except The Book Thief, which is one of my favourites of all time.

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    [Photo via Wikipedia]

    3. The Dark is Rising – Susan Cooper

    This is actually the second book in the sequence, but the first one I read, and remains my favourite of the five. Strictly speaking, Susan Cooper’s series is a re-imagining our world, but lifting up the corner of it shows a whole realm of wonder, with good fighting evil.

    What makes it great:

    Any child who dreams of becoming important is bound to love Will Stanton’s story. He wakes up on his eleventh birthday to discover he is the last in the line of Old Ones, powerful magical people who have been fighting a battle against the forces of dark for centuries. Like the Narnia series, Will (and likewise the Drew family who appear in the other books) is watched over by a wise old figure, Merriman Lyon (Merlin) but must fight his own battle to secure the six Signs which will help the Light to fight the Dark.

    What it meant to me:

    I discovered this book in the library at a new school age 11, where I was immediately miserable having left my friends behind, been introduced to a load of new and confusing subjects (like Latin) and then made the headmaster hate me about two weeks in by correcting him in a History class (don’t ever do this). Being able to escape into Susan Cooper’s world got me through a really hard few months. That’s got to be one of the best things about books.

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    [Photo via IMDB]

    4. Peter Pan – J. M. Barrie

    One of the very first other-world stories, Peter Pan is really the story of the Darling children, who are whisked away to Neverland using fairy dust after they meet Peter. There, they help him to fight the frightening figure of Captain James Hook and his pirates, before deciding to return home to their parents.

    What makes it great:

    The joyous imagination behind Neverland, and Peter Pan’s carefree adventures, have an enormous appeal. But the story also has elements of realism in it, with Wendy’s love of Peter which is destined to go nowhere, and with the Darling children’s eventual realisation that they have to go back to their parents. Peter also provides a surprisingly moving idea for those who have lost children. He is the boy who will never grow up because he is based on Barrie’s own brother, who died at fourteen.

    What it meant to me:

    I read Peter Pan at what was probably the perfect time. I was fourteen, writing books for myself, and caught between wanting to be adult enough to write about important things without wanting all the responsibilities I saw looming on the horizon. For a while, I could believe that I didn’t really need to grow up and face exams, university, jobs, etc. By the time I got out of this phase I had, naturally, become one of those teenagers who sighs about not being allowed to be independent.

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    5. Sabriel – Garth Nix

    This is the first book in the Abhorsen series, and has all the qualities of a wonderful other world book. Sabriel was born in the magical Old Kingdom, the daughter of the undead-fighting Abhorsen, but has been sent to school in Ancelstierre. The two worlds border each other, and Ancelstierre is much like our own world a few decades ago, one where technology is paramount. The Old Kingdom, in contrast, is a land where technology doesn’t work, and where magic takes its place. Sabriel is called into that other world to rescue her father from an evil creature, using his sword and bells to control the undead.

    What makes it great:

    Nix creates such a detailed and original world by combining different elements. He brings necromancy alongside magic, and makes the Abhorsen (who is sworn to protect the kingdom from the undead and the necromancers who try to raise them) someone who has to walk the borders between the world of the undead and the world of the living.

    He is also excellent at creating a feeling of threat, and his crumbling Old Kingdom feels a very dangerous place which Sabriel must navigate with care. Add in a touch of romance, and this is a fantastic read, as are the second and third books of the series.

    What it meant to me:

    Sabriel was released whilst I was at university, and immersed in a lot of serious literature which was both good and bad. Having something escapist to read was one of the few ways I found to really relax, and I spent many an hour in the bath with the book after freezing winter rowing outings. There’s something particularly satisfying about reading about cold, wild worlds from the comfort of a really hot bath.

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    If you haven’t read any or all of these, I can’t recommend them strongly enough. If your experience of life is anything like mine, I’m sure that you will have experienced the need to escape, and perhaps to look at your own life in a way a little removed, as several of these books encourage.

    All of them (and many more) have provided inspiration for The Fragile Tower. In fact, looking over this list has given me some interesting reflections on what I write. For one thing I note that I have chosen to write another world cloaked in snow, as both C. S. Lewis and Garth Nix have done. Perhaps there is something particularly powerful in a coldly glittering land. Or perhaps we all just like to read in the bath.

    Read Gytha Lodge’s “The Fragile Tower” on Wattpad:

    One girl; one quest; and a love strong enough to cross worlds…

    Grace Lane is a shy fourteen-year-old girl living in a small town in New York state. She has been looking for something to make her feel like she matters for most of her life. After a beautiful and exotic fair arrives on her street in the middle of winter, her brother vanishes during the night.

    Grace realises that getting him back is up to her, even if it means travelling to another world. She faces dark magics, the beautiful and dangerous sorcery of the Fragile Tower, and a Queen willing to risk anything to keep her world within her control. But in standing against her, she has to come to terms with the truth about her family, and her own feelings for the resourceful huntsman Afi who helps her in her quest.


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    Congratulations to this year’s winners of the very first Atty poetry awards on Wattpad! Thank you to everyone who participated for celebrating poetry with us; we’ll see you next year!


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    Writing YA: An Interview with RaShelle Workman

    Listen to our interview with RaShelle Workman, the bestselling author of “Sleeping Roses”, “Exiled”, “Aligned: An Immortal Essence Short Story”, the “Blood and Snow” series, and the newly released “Beguiled”, book 2 in the Immortal Essence series.

    We discuss writing Young Adult novels, Wattpad, and some tips for other writers of romance and paranormal stories. How does an adult writer create stories for a YA audience?

    Read her stories for FREE on Wattpad.

    Check out Wattpad’s podcasts here!


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    Wattpad brings you a guest post from Samantha Young, writer of “Blood Will Tell”, the first book in her Warriors of Ankh series.

    A short literary and film guide to getting into the Christmas Spirit:

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    [Photo source]

    I love Christmas. Not because of all the presents and the mad shopping trips. If anything, the mad shopping trips are enough to put a person off Christmas. No, I love Christmas because the concept of Santa is pretty freaking magical. And as a writer I love anything that is pretty freaking magical.

    Okay, I’m not going to lie, when I was kid I liked the presents part. Of course I did. Our family didn’t have a lot of money but my mum and dad scraped together everything they could throughout the year so that by Christmas morning we’d walk (run in a zombified state from lack of sleep) downstairs to the sitting room to find a pile of presents for each of us. But mostly the excitement was in where those presents had come from. I remember vividly on Christmas Eve waiting until my mum had closed the door to my bedroom and then tip-toeing over to my bedroom window. I’d peek out of the curtain and stare up at the night sky for ages, waiting to catch a glimpse of Santa and his reindeer. Sometimes I swore I even heard their hooves on the roof of our house, and I’d swap stories with my friends when I got back to school, each of us agreeing that yes, Santa’s reindeers did in fact land on our roofs!

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    Somewhere along the way the magical part, the part that really mattered to me, dissipated. It was kind of heartbreaking actually. So now, I have to look for inspiration to feel the magic at Christmas time. What better place to look for inspiration than in the imagination of writers and filmmakers?  Are you all expecting me to mention How the Grinch Stole Christmas? Well, I have but not because I know much about it. I’m from the UK and Dr. Seuss, and in particular, The Grinch, is more widely known in the US. I think that’s kind of unfortunate but we do have our own Christmas books—such as The Snowman. I grew up reading Raymond Briggs The Snowman, and I love it. I still remember finding it in my stocking when I was five years old—my parents having cottoned on to the fact that I already thought books were best. thing. ever.

    My number one series of books/films to get me in the Christmas spirit may be a surprise to some, and maybe understandable to others: The Harry Potter Series.

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    Yes. The Harry Potter Series. I will read those books and watch those movies without fail every December. One: they always have the Christmas scenes which in the movies make our own Christmas celebration look like utter crap in comparison, and two: the films came out at Christmas and for a few years there I had back that anticipation of expecting to see something truly magical around that time of year.

    And finally, let’s not forget A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. Whether you like the Dickens classic or not, you cannot deny that the Muppets pulled off one hell of an adaptation.

    I just don’t get that Christmassy feeling without watching Michael Caine converse with a dancing Muppet in a hula skirt.

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    Read Samantha Young’s “Blood Will Tell” on Wattpad!

    What would you do if you were born to be a predator? Would you fight your natural instincts or give in to your nature?

    Eden is a soul eater closing in on her Awakening. Her family has convinced her that soon she will have to take a life in order to save her own. It’s a decision Eden doesn’t want to deal with even as her hunger for souls grows stronger every day.

    To complicate her impossible position, new guy in school Noah Valois’ determination to befriend her puts Eden in touch with a humanity she’s never known. Addicted to his company, his friendship and affection, she becomes more and more terrified that giving into her hunger will mean losing him forever…

    … But when she discovers that Noah is not what he seems, his betrayal forces her to face two choices. One will offer her revenge and the destruction of a boy she loved. The other may offer her a life of eternal redemption…


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    IMPROVE YOUR WRITING EVERY WEEK WITH WATTPAD

    Welcome to the Wattpad Weekly Writing Prompt!

    Start anytime.

    These are free writing prompts 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 prompts are posted every Monday on the Wattpad Insider.

    To join in: read the prompt and get writing – post your writing on the Weekly Workshop Series Discussion Threadwhere I’ll give feedback as much as I can!

    The prompts are written 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 Six

    With the holiday season fully upon us, this week I want you to write a personal essay about a day when you have celebrated something. It could be Christmas, a birthday, an achievement, or something else.

    Remember, in a personal essay, you need to be open, honest, and keep yourself in the piece. Use the ‘Ivoice. Try to tie together a detail of the day with how the day changed you. Remember, it’s not only in fiction that readers look for characters to grow and change.

    Using up to 500 words, write about this day of celebration.

    Post your responses here at the Weekly Workshop Series Discussion Thread! I’ll read and give feedback as often as I can.


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    Win a Kindle Fire with The Fragile Tower:

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    Gytha Lodge’s Cold Lands fantasy series launches today on Wattpad with The Fragile TowerThe story follows shy fifteen-year-old Grace Lane who finds herself having to travel to the strange and magical worlds of the Cold Lands to rescue her younger brother. Read about her journey to the wonderful but dangerous Fragile Tower, a fantastical palace held together by the magic of boys bound and kept in a trance. 

     
    It’s a story about love and loss, and one girl’s desperate need to matter. 

    To celebrate the feature launch, we’re giving away a Kindle Fire to one lucky winner.

    Find out more!


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    Vincent Lam's Who Would You Invite to Dinner Contest:

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    Wattpad quizzed Giller Prize winning author Vincent Lam about where he goes to find inspiration, which fictional character he’d most want to be and who he’d want to invite to his dream dinner party.

    He gave us his answers here and now we want to hear yours! 

    Find out more about the contest!


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    WIN OVERNIGHT FAME - Just like Steffi McBride:

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    One day Steffi was slaving in a steamy restaurant kitchen, the next she was one of the most famous and adored faces in the country. With the fame, however, came the pitfalls; losing her privacy, her secrets exposed, hounded by the media and estranged from her loved ones.

    To enter the competition just put yourself in Steffi’s shoes and write the following here.

    Click here to find out more!


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