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Category: Wattpad

My Actual Writing Goals for November 2016

So I have already discussed that my goal during Nanowrimo is to post actual content rather than just writing it. And I won’t be counting my Wattpad chapters as contributing to this total. (It’s rather interesting that posting to Wattpad is not at all difficult for me. I get at least two chapters published there at a minimum each week.) 

But I am, of course, also working on various projects this month. And, as usual, I have one main one and several that I want to complete. (Some of these titles contain links to where the stories are posted.)

where-gryphons-mournWhere Gryphons Mourn — this is another dream story that I have been meaning to get out there for quite some time. So I am finally getting it done. In fact, my darling and wonderful friend, Stef, created a cover for me, so it looks like I will be writing it and posting it on Wattpad. Isn’t she massively talented? (Seriously, this woman is amazing! Check her out on her website, at Deviant Art, and Wattpad.)

Through the Paintings Dimly — this one is actually almost entirely done so I won’t be increasing my word count much through this, but there is probably about another 3 – 5k that needs to be added in addition to the overall editing. But it will be done and off by the end of the week.

The Insurgent Queen — another book in the Tue-Rah Chronicles, and so, of course, it will get a substantial portion of the word count. I write about 5 – 10k on the main series once a week. In a sense, this is my easiest and most difficult project, but it is the one I adore the most. My soul is always in this series no matter what else I am working on. I really hope that Amelia gets her voice back before the end of this month’s writing. It’s been a good long time, and the poor girl needs to start talking again. (Note: if you haven’t started this series and would like to, you should probably start with Identity Revealed.) 

In Darkness, Cower — now, once again, this story is mostly completed. In fact, it appeared in the Tenebris Somnia anthology on Wattpad. I plan to enter it into the TNT competition, but I want to expand it a little more to reach the 10k word limit. I had to trim it a bit to make it meet the anthology’s criteria. So that will be about 4k. It’s due by the end of the month.

thecelebrityThe Celebrity — this story is mostly completed, but I want to enter it into a competition on November 15 (can’t remember the name of the competition right now). It’s just about 8 k too short though and then it will be up to the required standards.

Untitled Story — I have been tossing around some titles for this story, but I haven’t settled on one. Cruel Frost, Frost Wolf, and Frost Strain are possibilities, but none of them really hit the horror genre nail on the head. The proper title will come eventually. This story is going to be approximately 8k. Another dream/nightmare story that I just want to have done. I may submit it to the TNT competition as well. It may also expand beyond the anticipated 8k.

Just a Kiss — a sweet romance for an anthology. It’s probably going to be about 5k, and it is due by the end of the month. I just have the ideas down for this one, and, in fairness, if another sweet romance story presents itself that fits in with the Christmas season, I will likely go with that. I’ll consider this goal satisfied so long as I have a sweet romance story down.

The Nameless One’s Plea —  This is another story for an anthology, and it’s great because this is part of the Ragnarok Undone novel or perhaps Ragnarok Untold, depending on where the end of the novel comes. It’ll be about 8 k. It’s going to contain some spoilers for the story but nothing too major, and hopefully it will help to draw additional readers to the Ragnarok series.

The Nightwalker Before Christmas —  a dark holiday/horror story that will hopefully stay short and sweet. (I’m really hoping that with this short story focus this month I will be able to do a much better job of keeping stories short and tight.) Hopefully about 3k. The title is a little off for me, but I’ll find a better one later.

Serpent’s Kiss — a fantasy adventure for another anthology that will be approximately 5k. It has to be done before the end of the month, but I have a fairly solid idea of where I want to take it. And if that idea doesn’t work, I’ve got another one that can work for the same title, which is good because I like having a good title.

Aquanos Feratu — a tight short story in the horror genre utilizing the breath vampire concept among other aquatic horrors. Probably about 10 k. If I have to prioritize and run out of time to finish projects, then this is going to be set aside until next month. (If I’m not careful with this one, it’s going to get a lot bigger a lot faster.)

Escaping Nowhere I started this novel last year for Nanowrimo, got to the required word count, and it was all quite great. But I didn’t finish it. I’d like to wrap it up, which will probably take about another 20 k. On the high end. It’s fairly easy to write though, and I have good notes to pull me the rest of the way along.

Parnimo’s Prize — oh yes, please, please, let me finally find the right ending for this novella. I have written the ending so many times, but it never quite seems right. I think I’m going to be done with this one within about five chapters at the most.

Now if I get to have my druthers this month, I would also add these. I’d love to also complete 5k SoulMates Pendanteach on The Red Dragon, Cursed, and Ragnarok Undone. 10k on Of Cruelty, Elves, and Sorcery would be fantastic along with completion of Of Course Not, Silas, I Know Best.

I’m also planning to send off my application for the SFWA, query letters for Lunar Realms, and send off a couple other short stories to some other professional markets.

These aren’t all my goals for the month, and I doubt that I’ll make them all. I make my goals difficult to reach and usually almost impossible, so don’t worry. We’ll just see how far I get on this.

In terms of my actual Nanowrimo writing, I’m doing all right. It has been a bit slow because I’ve had to do more editing and legal work than usual, so as of yesterday, I only wrote about 14k. I’m getting ready to settle in for a batch of fiction writing here after dinner. Hopefully that goes way.

The Tendency Toward Silence (The Quagmire of Mental Questioning and Self Paralysis)

cropped-Old-Typewriter1.jpgI wonder how many people silence themselves because they think their words have no value.

Some might say not enough people consider this possibility. The world is certainly a chaotic place, particularly in certain locations. Twitter and Youtube come to mind along with almost every site that includes politics and social commentary. In some places, a bit of silence would be more than welcome. It would be a great blessing. And there is certainly much benefit to choosing words, tempering responses, and sometimes simply allowing the silence to sit.

But the need for silence in one place does not mean that silence is needed in all places at all times.

Perhaps less anger. Perhaps more listening. And perhaps silence while gathering thoughts. Perhaps silence while contemplating the next step. Perhaps silence while choosing. And certainly not every thought must be spoken or every idea followed.

But those unspoken words and unfollowed ideas can swell inside us. They come to mind, and when we swallow them down, they lodge in our chests and smolder. Sometimes they choke us. Other times they vanish.

And there can be, I think, just as much a regret for not saying certain things as there can be for saying the wrong things.

I might be projecting.

Despite my recognizing that I have a bad habit of pouring out words and then locking them away, I have made limited progress in dealing with this bad habit (recognizing there’s a problem may be the first step, but it cannot be the only step). It’s difficult because so often I find myself holding back, and within minutes, I become mired in an intensive cycle of questioning.

keyboard-909156The same series of questions runs through my mind. “What value is this bringing?” “Are you really the right person to say this?” “Why should you say something?” “Are you sure this is the best way to say that?” “Is this really important to say right now?” “What if it comes across the wrong way?” “What if it’s misinterpreted?” “What if there’re errors that you missed even though you keep going over it?” “What if I’m showing off?” “What if I could do it better?” “Is this Christian enough?” “Is this anti Christian in some way?” “Am I Jesus juking?” “What if this comes across as insincere or inauthentic?” “Is this cliché?” “Does this really have any value?” “What if someone else has covered this and done it better?” “Is this taking away from someone else?” “What right do I have to say anything?” (Humorously enough, I go through the same agonizing cycle of questions when it comes to sharing posts, pictures, memes, and the like though sharing often adds a few additional questions to make the process even more fun.)

Add to that the people who police language and parse out what is acceptable and what isn’t and how wrong it is for some people to speak at all and how self indulgent the culture as a whole is. (Sometimes I can just hear the teeth sucking and tongue clicking.) And then I wind up with a massive slop of paralysis that typically results in abandonment.

The funny thing is that these questions and even an awareness of these individuals are not bad in and of themselves. In some cases, these matters can actually make the project stronger.

This sort of introspection becomes problematic when it results in paralysis and projects cast aside, particularly when those projects are finished in all but the finishing touches or the publication.

It is a sucking silencing spiral. As soon as I finish a post or a tweet or a story or a video, these questions form in my mind in rapid succession if I don’t send or publish fast enough. Wattpad has proven to be an anomaly but perhaps it also has the answer. I, for some reason, feel fairly free to post stories there.

Part of that is also driven by my fans and the fact that I know I would let them down if I didn’t finish the stories. But I am amazed that I was able to start writing on there at all. The fact that people are waiting for updates to the stories helps silence the questions and make me realize my mind’s foolishness when I get bogged into this mental quagmire.

Still I often find myself wondering who I am to speak. Particularly in the larger world or even on social media. Constantly measuring the value of what is to be said and then often dropping it for one reason or another.

It becomes easier to see how negative this is when I look at other people. When speaking with fellow heart-792179writers, students, artists, creators, and the like, I find encouragement falls from my lips easily because what I want so deeply is for them to create and share. To pour out and expand. To hone their skills and ply their trades. I want to hear their voices even when I don’t agree with them and even when it isn’t the best. It’s quite hard to have a conversation if they don’t speak because, even when silence speaks volumes, words and creations still have value, and it’s easier to connect when there is a combination of words, actions, and pauses.

I can’t think of anyone I would tell to be quiet forever. (Maybe a few whom I might ask to calm down or at least stop screaming.) Yet so often I shunt my own work into a drawer and decide what I have to say is irrelevant.

Silence can be a choice. It can be beautiful, beneficial, and much can be revealed within it, but we are not meant to always be silent.

No one has stolen my voice except those to whom I gave the power. Far too many times, I am the one who steals my own voice with incessant questions about my own value. I am my cruelest enemy. The harshest things my enemies have said of me reflect the worst fears of myself, and because I fear that it might be true, the words sting and have their power.

In the end, I suppose it doesn’t matter much. It’s only in the moment that it seems so massive. Despite all the questions I inflict upon myself, I want to speak and to write. It’s easier when I have a justification, but sometimes the desire alone may be sufficient justification. (Perhaps desire paired with recognition that people are free to respond and further dialogue may be necessary and that no one is required to listen or participate.)

We will never be perfect, but for some of us, there is a need to release our works to the world. And, more importantly, you are the only you that exists, and while you should strive to be your best, you cannot wait until you feel ready or perfect to share that voice with the world.

The fact is that I will always be able to find a few thousand reasons why I shouldn’t do something. Whatever that might be. I had hoped that my other habits and tasks would make it easier. But it hasn’t. What can be done I suppose is to recognize when the questions become irrelevant and then refuse to be silent when silence is not actually the best or necessary course. How well that works, we shall see.

The Thrilling Ride Continues

Life often seems like the world’s most terrifying rollercoaster ride. Sometimes when I look ahead, I cannot see how all of the moves will complete without severing limbs or chopping heads. Yet somehow, each time, all that must be done gets done.

Why Yes, Bluebeard, I’d Love To was completed on time. Those last 500 words (which ironically were scattered throughout to connect the scenes rather than in a single spot) were among the hardest, but after I got feedback on it, I wound up having to revise the ending almost entirely. But it became much stronger. Between my friend, Debbie, and my husband, James, I realized that the ending needed a stronger tie in with the beginning.

Having those trusted people whom you can rely on to give their honest opinion are invaluable. I am so grateful for them.

In the revision process, I realized that I have at least two other stories that will come from this. The first is what happens from Silas’s perspective with his djinn friend, Hupomone. The second is what happens when Hupomone intervenes and what happens to Peter after she finishes with him.

Until then though, I need to locate the final draft of Parnimo’s Prize. I wrote it in a notebook while in Reno, but I can’t find the notebook now. It’s somewhere. It has to be. Worst case scenario though, I’ll just rewrite it again. I’ve rewritten this ending almost twenty times. Only seven chapters. How many times can it be rewritten? Apparently at least twenty-one.

The time isn’t wasted though. Multiple rewrites used to frustrate me. Each one has value. And each draft gets saved. There are many ways to end this story, and I can’t use all the ideas. Playing with them to see which one works and which one has the best flow has been time consuming but invaluable. The ones I don’t use will get woven into another story. Or perhaps they’ll get their own spin off.

On the bright side though, I am nearly done with my Wattpad Block Party Summer Edition II. This will be my fourth party, and  my readers, once again, have given me insight into what they want. Diamond Dust also went live on Sun Kissed Romance today, and I can’t wait to wrap up that novel. It’s different writing a spy novel, but I’ve always wanted to, and I’m finding it delightful. Now, in addition to the other novels, I’ll need to find time to finish my fantasy story for the Sun Kissed Fantasy anthology.

Anyway, I hope to have an exciting announcement soon. We shall see. Have a beautiful day regardless!

Nanowrimo 2015 Day 01

Today is the first day of Nanowrimo as well as the first of a new month. New beginnings always excite me. They hold so much potential. November 1 is a particular favorite because of Nanowrimo.

I’ve been doing Nanowrimo since I was 11 though my parents didn’t give me permission to sign up on the official site till I was a fair bit older. It was a great experience with lots of fun along the way, and it stretched me. That first book was less than ideal, of course. It had so many holes and tons of problems. (I think one character’s name even changed halfway through, and many other details spontaneously changed or became contradictory, lol.) But I was glad that I did it.

I’d encourage all writers to give it a shot. While it is a great challenge to complete 50,000 words during one of the busiest months of the year, that isn’t the only reason to do it. There’s a spirit of camaraderie throughout this month as thousands of writers support one another in this endeavor. It’s about shutting off that inner critic, dig into the stories that you have inside you, and start exploring them. You can’t fail in this. You won’t do it perfectly. In fact, you’re going to miss some days. You’re going to fall behind. But that’s okay. The point is to get as far as you can and get as much of the story down as you can. Every year I have found material that I can use.

Now some of my tutees, students, and friends have asked me to consider doing an additional challenge this year: write my Nanowrimo novel live. I’ve received a lot of questions about my process as well as what it looks like when I write. And since I’m not comfortable with people sitting next to me and watching what I write, recording it through a screen capture along with commentary on what I’m doing and how I’m doing it seems like a better choice.

I finished conducting some tests, and it looks like I can do this. I’m a little concerned about the upload speeds because the Internet is often slow. It can take an hour to upload 15 minutes. So there may be some delays. My other concern is how long a video with an actual writing session is going to run. After all, writing a novel takes a lot of time. (Not really sure how long, but I guess we’ll find out.)

What I’ll do to offset this is doing a brief recap that details what I did, how it’s going, and what tools I used. That way if you don’t want to slog through the whole video, you can get the highlights.

To help facilitate this, I’ve come up with some rules for myself.

  • All the writing will take place in front of the camera. This is going to be the hardest thing for me. But when I’m not writing on the screen capture, I won’t be working on the story.
  • I’m starting entirely from scratch, and I will document the whole process.
  • If I use a notebook while on camera, I’ll be sure to show you what I’m writing if I can.
  • I will be doing minimal editing before uploading to Wattpad. I’ll include that as well.

Since I’m trying to document the whole process, I’m starting with a fresh story. I’ve had this title and cover rattling around for awhile, potentially going to one or four stories. But I’m not going to use a story that I have already started. The story will be based in part off a dream I had, but that’s more for the general premise. I don’t even have character names yet or the Scrivener files prepped.

Frankly, I’m rather nervous, but I’m also excited. This is going to be a great month. I hope that I don’t fall flat on my face. I imagine there will be a fair bit of dead space and staring at the screen because that camera is going to add loads of pressure, lol.

So what about you? Are you doing Nanowrimo this year? Feel free to let me know what your project is and leave a link if you like either here or on the Youtube video. Have a wonderful night!

 

Short Story on the Run: Thoughts on Beauteous Intentions

Short stories have always been my bane. With my mind leaning toward epic fantasies and tales that span the years, the shorter forms often elude me. Which is part of the reason I pursue them.

But here’s a surprising reality: the short stories can be just as shocking and have as many twists for the writer as novels.

The WattVampires announced their competition at the start of October. Competitors needed to write a short story between 1000 and 5000 words. It had to involve vampires, candy, and Halloween. Pretty open ended?

Well, I had just recently had a bit of a story dream that I decided to base this story on. Initially, I thought it would have to be a novel to adequately deal with one of the themes: living ethically and fully even at great cost and how far should one go with that cost and is it ever too much? And can it be dangerous?

The shorter length forced me to condense it. I decided to have three sections, each one focusing on the last couple hours of a Halloween night. What surprised me was how the most crucial scenes came into focus. And I finished the rough draft with 612 words to spare.

After a short break, I then edited it, polished it, summarized it, and shipped it off. A complete short story within eight hours more or less. Beauteous Intent is off to the contest!

This story will take place in a world where I’ve been developing a number of short stories. Don’t have an official name for it yet. But I’ll come up with something.

I can’t stop laughing though because Beauteous Intent is not at all what I intended. It was supposed to be spooky, chilling, much darker. But Aestan turned out to be a far more passive and gentle character than I expected and that changed everything. Despite the danger underlying his and Summer’s relationship, there was an idealism and romance that insisted on pressing through.

During the writing process, I did feel cold though. Sometimes I just don’t write with a lot of feeling, and I know that that shows through. It becomes far too intellectual (what a shock coming from the lawyer). I know what I want to feel just as I know what I should feel. And though I put myself in the character’s shoes and imagine myself in his position, there are times when it still doesn’t hold up.

However, instead of stepping away from this story and digging in later (after the deadline passed), I pushed through. And it represents one of the core questions I find myself mulling over more and more while always addressing the perpetual question of balance and too much.

I won’t win with this story (and that’s not a problem). Even though it meets the guidelines, I’m all but certain this isn’t what the judges are looking for. After all, who reads vampire stories for a story on ethical living, sacrifice, hard choices, and bad decisions? Not many. It’s more of the romantic sort of story that fits a darker Valentine theme, and it’s lacking the sensuality of most vampire romances. The other stories in this competition are spectacular and precisely what I imagine the judges are looking for without being cliché.

But there is one thing I remind myself of: let each story be what it is. There are so many stories to write. Struggling to force one story into something it is not will often just weaken it.

While I started off writing The Celebrity in the hopes of writing a story my mother could enjoy, Beauteous Intent turned out to be the better option for her. It’s funny that at a time when I feel in the most turmoil and the most frustrated something so sweet (and dangerous) would come out. But ah, such is writing. Such is storytelling.

 

The First Annual Story Fair Write Up

Story FairSo September 19 was quite a busy day. In addition to having some legal work that needed to be tended, I also had the privilege of participating in the First Annual Story Fair. This event was a joint project, created by Rebecca Sky, Malice Authors, Dilyana Kyoseva, and the Wattpad4. This kind of project takes a lot of hard work, so a very hearty thanks to everyone involved.

I was actually able to be involved multiple times, and the fair was what most fairs are: chaos and chatter with plenty of tasty options. Here are some of the highlights for me.

Fun Treasures I Came Away With

While I got to feature one of my own stories (a couple if you count the WPC2014 booth), I wanted to keep my eyes open for new authors whose stories I wanted to read. Qualifications: any author who wasn’t a fellow member of the WPC2014, lol. While there was a lot of competition, I narrowed it down to these authors of whom I had never heard:

Priestess and Dragon

 

The Priestess and the Dragon by Nicolette Andrews. This is to be released on Amazon October 17. Check it out here. If all goes well, I’m planning to read and review this book quite soon.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lost

 

Lost By J.S. Nox. This is a short story of travels available for free on Wattpad. Quite looking forward to reading this.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Catwalk

 

Catwalk by Nicole N. Gabor. While the farthest from my usual reading style, I love pushing myself to things, and this one fits the bill. It’s available for free on Wattpad.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Honorary Fourth Treasure

HelNow, I am adding a fourth, but it doesn’t seem entirely honest: Frost by E. Latimer. And it’s not because it isn’t a stunning book (because it is) or that the cover isn’t gripping (because it is).

It’s because I actually already planned to read this book, and I have already bought a copy (yet another upcoming entry to review!). But I do want to give Frost a shoutout.
It involves Norse mythology; and Latimer understands the agony of writing about mythology, making it your own and customizing it, and people assuming you’re trying to rip off Marvel (I have actually had some readers argue with me that Stan Lee created Thor and Loki.

So while the fair made me more intrigued about Frost, it didn’t convince me to read it anymore than E. Latimer’s launch, blurb, and spiel. But that’s more because you can’t convince someone who is already convinced. You can pick your copy up here if you like.

Tardis
If Stan Lee did create Norse mythology, then he must have hijacked the Tardis (or perhaps the Doctor wanted to take part) and gone back a thousand plus years to create the myths. Now there’s a story waiting to be written! Which incarnation of the Doctor do you think Stan Lee teamed up with?

The Corner Booth

Nat, the amazing host of The Corner Booth, decided to host an impromptu episode of The Corner Booth, and I had the privilege of participating in it. It’s been incredible to see how The Corner Booth has grown over these past couple months. I started off watching it, but then I had to stop because small groups met at that time, and I had a house full of hungry teenagers. I also ran into problems with watching the videos (nothing on their end; it The Corner Boothwas an outdated driver). So I went from watching the first couple episodes to watching the last ones, and wow, I liked it before, and I love it even more now.

Personally, I was quite nervous doing it. Just as I was on Episode [#]. But that’s part of the reason I do it, and what makes me even more grateful that Nat has allowed me to participate. He has always been so kind and encouraging, and he pours his heart into that program just as he does with his own story (Chlorine Halos: if you haven’t checked it out yet, try it now). It’s one of the most fun online writing programs I’ve ever participated in or listened to.

He gave some previews for what’s coming up on The Corner Booth. There’s going to be poetry coming up next time around, which I can’t wait to see. And as always, Nat sounds like he’s going to be pushing everyone to excel and become stronger. So make sure that you subscribe.

WPC2014 Banner

WPC2014

And then, at two different times, the WPC2014 members and I gathered together to host a booth. It was chaotic and fun, and the responses were great. The best part of it was seeing how well we actually worked together as a team. Generally speaking, I’m not fond of working with teams. But I found with this that there’s such a thing as a good team, and that’s what those who were able to make it accomplished.

One of our most popular attractions turned out to be this little game. So if you haven’t played yet or you just want to let me know what you are, feel free to comment.Quiz

We took advantage of this time to make several announcements. Here’s what you’ll want to know:

Weekly Twitter Chats with WPC2014 starting on October 13 at 8 pm (follow @amberkbryant for more details)

A Quarterly Wattpad Profile Makeover Contest (details announced on Twitter and on our Wattpad profile October 13 at 8 pm)

We offered some great prizes. In fact, you can still sign up for this if you want. It’s open until Wednesday at midnight here! (And make sure you pick up Sarah Benson’s fantastic case study on Wattpad. It’s to the right on that page.)WPC2014 There’s books from our members plus critiques, shoutouts, and swag.

The Celebrity

At the start of the day, I had the privilege of hosting my own little booth for The Celebrity. I have a bad habit of speaking of that story almost disparagingly, but that’s not because I don’t love it. I do. It’s just that it was such a divergence from my usual writing that it really challenged me, and I’m not confident I told a good story. I did the best I could. But it was this story that really convinced me that writing good contemporary romance does take great skill. I won’t get into this too much here because I think it deserves a post of its own.

The Celebrity Story Fair Submission 03Reading the responses and seeing folks add my little romance to their shelves delighted me. It won’t be the best romance they ever read, but if it helps them escape for a time and warms their hearts, I’ll be happy.

It still has some additional edits before it gets officially released. On the plus side, the Story Fair forced me to get promotional materials prepared in advance. (Once Parnimo’s Prize is done and Ragnarok Unravels, Little Scapegoat, The Celebrity, and Of Blood and Teeth and Magic are edited and published, I will be pushing hard on marketing. Up until then, Mermaid Bride will continue to float in the Amazon waters [though if anyone wants to write a review for it, it would be greatly appreciated].)

I’ll be announcing my prize winners tomorrow. Keep your eyes open. You might be one of the lucky winners!

Brief Update on the Competition

Now as some of you may know, I was pouring heart and soul into finishing one of my romance paranormals or romance fantasies in time for Harlequin’s So You Think You Can Write 2015. I’ll go into more details on this tomorrow, but short summary: in two weeks, I wrote over 120,000 words, but I only got one book done. Blessed? Battle for the Lunar Realms is now complete. It will need to be edited, revised, and then professionally edited, but I have arrived at the competition.

First Annual Story Fair

One of the things I love most about being a freelance writer, author, and an attorney who shares a firm with her husband is that I get a decent amount of flexibility. Which means that on days like today WPC2014-Giveawaywhen I have legal work that needs to get done, I can still take breaks and participate in fun opportunities like the First Annual Story Fair!

The first annual Wattpad Story Fair is today Sept. 19th at 12:00 – 12:30 and 3:30-4:00 PST. Join me and the amazing Wattpad Class of 2014 to learn about all the exciting things we’re doing for fellow Wattpadders! It’s going to be a blast!

The WPC2014 will be appearing at two time slots – 12-12:30 and 3:30-4:00pm PST. Learn more about our Profile Makeover Contests, Twitter Chats, Story Reviews, and awesome articles on how to succeed as a writer. We also have this amazing giveaway from the WPC2014 going on – Books, ebooks, interviews, chapter dedications and chapter critiques! So please stop on by!

https://www.facebook.com/events/1628644337393871/The Celebrity Story Fair Submission 03

Oh, and before I forget, I’m also being featured as an author! Yay! Today I’m focusing on my first ever sweet romance with no fantasy and no paranormal elements: The Celebrity. I’m also giving away some great prizes plus a special Reader’s Dream Package if you sign up for my newsletter http://forms.aweber.com/form/13/666935913.htm or answer questions on my Facebook page
https://www.facebook.com/jmbutler1728
 or at my “booth” at the fair https://www.facebook.com/MALICEAUTHORS/photos/gm.1634720403452931/905388482877091/?type=1 .

I hope to see you there!

 

 

The Corner Booth’s Debut Episode Summary and Review

So tonight was the launch of the Corner Booth. Natsaninja has been making quite a splash in the Wattpad community, and this looks like it will be a fantastic panel this evening. You don’t have to take my word for it, of course. You can check it out here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bYgFMXdmQ-0 . The #tcbwatt looks like the official hashtag for this project.

Overall Setup

So what’s in this? They started off introductions. This evening, the Booth held Mary L Tabor, Brittanie Charmintine, Jason Howell, Michelle Hayes, and Nat Bradford. Rita Kovach was supposed to be on tonight, but I think something happened (I missed the first few minutes, so that might have been mentioned; also the links will take you to their Wattpad pages where you can follow them and read their amazing books).

Then they had Cream and Sugar, where Nat let everyone give shout outs to the writers and readers on Wattpad they love. (I’m biased, but I absolutely agree with the shout outs for bnlfan’s Flawed and Redbank3k Sand. Such amazing people, good writers, and engaging stories! I’m sure that the other shoutouts will lead to good authors and stories as well, but these are the ones I have read. J)

Next came the Entrée. A great discussion called Start, Stop, and Continue. First, they discussed what they would do differently if they were starting again. Then they talked about pet peeves. The final bit of the entrée is what they will continue to do on the site.

After that came Pass the Salt, which is intended to discuss room for improvement on Wattpad, and then Check Please which is intended for closing thoughts.

Highlights

There’s some great content on the program. First of all, each of the speakers did a lovely job answering the questions and sharing insights into their journey on Wattpad and as writers. What’s even better is that their personalities shine through, plus you get some fun insight into who they are beyond the page. If you’ve read their stories (and I strongly recommend you do), you’ll certainly see that their personalities reflect just what you expected. Mary L. Tabor is elegant and articulate, Brittanie Charmintine is mischievous and delightful, Jason Howell is sincere and charming, Michelle is kind and thoughtful, and Nat is enthusiastic, engaging, and the perfect host. Oftentimes, people you know online don’t line up with what you expect from their writing, but that wasn’t the case here.

There were bits of wisdom from each panel member. In various forms, everyone on the panel encouraged generosity and graciousness. They also had plenty of tips, which I don’t want to spoil for you. One of the best points came from Mary when she said that people tend to look at their interaction on Wattpad as a zero sum game when that isn’t the case at all, and it shouldn’t be the case. Everybody can win. (Plus she gave a beautiful explanation of the importance of literacy, art, and heart and what emerges from Wattpad. If you only check out one bit, start at minute 49.)

Overall

The program has a great idea for the setup. The writers were fun to listen to. As a fellow writer and a voracious reader, I loved getting to hear some of the authors whose work I have so enjoyed sharing their experiences and interacting with one another.

I’ve seen a number of startup presentations, conferences, and talk shows on YouTube and in person. This was one of the smoothest I’ve seen. There’s good chemistry, good advice, and good flow. It lasted just about an hour, and time flew by. If this is where it’s starting, I can’t wait to see where it goes from here, particularly since the debut episodes are generally the roughest.

Wattpad is one of my all time favorite writing groups. I’ve met some splendid people, and the Corner Booth showcases why it is a great place. Not perfect but wonderful. So check it out! I hope you’ll enjoy it. The program was hosted live and will be running at 6:30 PM EST. It will be held on the Corner Booth for rewatching later.

Interview with Amber K. Bryant

Let’s put our hands together and welcome @Amberkbryant. As our first place winner of the Breathtaking Fantasy and Science Fiction Contest, Amber wowed the judges with a fantastic and yet sweet story of friendship, sacrifice, and love. She also agreed to participate in this interview, shedding some more light on her story, her skills, and her identity. If you’d like to check out her story, you can read it for free right here:  Every Day in May

 

What is your book called?

Every Day in May

 

Why did you choose that name?

I had the name picked out before I knew what the story was going to be about.  I wanted to post a story every day for a month, and so the name Every Day in May came to mind.  The story developed from the title, which is not how things normally proceed for me, but it worked in this case.

 

If you were to sum up your story in brief, how would you describe it?

EDIM is the Rapunzel tale turned on its head, wherein Rapunzel (Theo) is a male heir to a dictatorship, the tower is the imposing stone heart of that dictatorship, the evil witch is a ruthless leader, and the prince (Merryn) is a daughter of political prisoners.  The plot is driven by Merryn’s desire to save Theo from his prison by opening his mind to the wretched state of the land he is meant to rule over someday—if his father doesn’t decide to kill him first.

 

What do you see as the core themes in your story?

There’s definitely an underlying socio-political theme in EDIM. A famous quote from Aung San Suu Kyi states, “It is not power that corrupts but fear. Fear of losing power corrupts those who wield it and fear of the scourge of power corrupts those who are subject to it.”  When you read EDIM, you’ll see that my main character, Merryn, believes these words fully.  She lives this in fact, because she sees the damage the Leader’s desire to stay in power has done to the psyche of the people.  At the same time, she also fears the motivations of those who are fighting to take him down.  Power is always suspect in my work.  But this is balanced with another theme: Self-determination.  Merryn wants to free herself from the power structure she’s been intricately connected to her whole life, and she wants to give Theo the knowledge to free himself too.  Each of them has quite a challenge ahead of them in order to achieve this freedom, and each must persevere or they will fail in their efforts.  As you can imagine the ramifications if they should fail are pretty extreme.

 

What inspired this story initially? A single event? Multiple events?

Wattpad itself initially inspired this story.  It was mid-April and I’d only been on the site for a few weeks when I got it in my head that I wanted to create a story that would be conducive to daily updates.  It was an experiment, really, to see if I could hold readers’ attention through an entire month.  I chose a letter format because each day’s update could be more or less self-contained and as long or short as I saw fit (I only had two weeks to write the entire thing and do an initial round of edits before I began posting on May 1st).

 

What is your favorite part of the story, if you can share without spoilers? (If you have to use spoilers, just write SPOILERS at the start of it.)

I have several favorite scenes, but I’ll share the one that I feel has the least potential for spoilers.  Still, if you haven’t read EDIM, proceed at your own risk.  This is a small scene.  It doesn’t contain a major reveal.  It isn’t a crucial part of the overall story arch.  It is a simple memory from Merryn’s childhood, the memory of the first and only time she’s tasted ice cream, and to me, it’s very poignant.  I can picture her, wide eyed, dressed in school attire, sitting at a table in a line with other pigtailed girls.  She’s so excited!  She knew this rare treat was coming.  And then she takes her first bite.  Can you remember your first bite of ice cream?  I was too young to remember. But not Merryn.  What if right now, you were getting your very first taste of something so incredibly rich?  What if you knew it would also be your last?

 

I’ll let Merryn explain the experience in her own words:

I scooped up the first spoonful of creamy deliciousness and let it settle on my tongue.  I had never tasted such flavors—sweet and salty together in one bite.  The pistachios, we were told, came from one of the Leader’s closest allies.  It was a rare thing for a citizen to get a taste of them—this was how special, how important we girls were to the Leader.

Our teacher always said we should savor the things we love best.  I tried to eat slowly, but even so, it wasn’t long before my bowl was scraped clean.  My eyes watered, realizing this was an experience that wouldn’t be repeated. 

I do as my teacher says—I savor the things I love best in this world; the taste of pistachio ice cream licked from a silver spoon; the sound of my mother’s voice calling me in to dinner; my father’s arms wrapped around me.  I remember best the moments that will never come again.

 

Which character is your favorite and why?

Definitely Jeffers.  When I first wrote him into the story, I thought he would serve a purpose (not necessarily a big one) and when that purpose was done, he’d fade into the background.  But he didn’t fade.  He became one of the story’s most important characters.  He totally earned his place.  The story would have ended much differently without him.  Plus, he’s a warrior archetype who has no clue there’s a comedic genius hidden under his gruff, tragic exterior—think Jayne Cobb from Firefly.  I just can’t help but love him.

 

What authors and works most inspired you in the creation of this story?

I love that we continue to re-imagine folktales and am especially drawn to those that take the fairytale in directions you would never imagine. One of my very favorites of these is the Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer.  The third book in this sci-fi series, Cress, is also a retelling of Rapunzel, wherein the Rapunzel character is trapped in a satellite orbiting earth and the witch is a mind-controlling moon-dwelling mad woman.  It’s fabulous, and if you haven’t read this series, I can’t recommend it enough.  I hadn’t initially intended to retell Rapunzel, so I’m sure my subconscious was at work thinking about Cress when I began writing EDIM.

 

In my story, the witch appears as an evil dictator. The Leader, as he is called, is an amalgamation of many real life dictators, past and present, particularly the current leader of North Korea and his predecessors.  Last year I read a non-fiction account of life inside North Korean labor camps called Escape from Camp 14 by Blaine Harden.  That’s what inspired EDIM’s Red Camps as well as the general tone of life in the Land.  This is a devastating but eye opening read.  If you think the actions of the Leader in EDIM are farfetched, think again.

 

Finally, there’s Margaret Atwood’s masterpiece The Handmaid’s Tale. This is a dark, dystopian story where people are pressed into circumstances they would normally never find themselves in.  Theo’s mother, Francesca, is in some ways reminiscent of Offred, the narrator of The Handmaid’s Tale, as she is forced into a role someone else designed for her.

 

Do your characters ever surprised you? Or are you always in control? 

Am I always in control?  For several reasons, the answer is no. Firstly, to be in constant control over my characters, I’d have to have complete awareness of my own thoughts.  I’m just not there yet.  There’s a lot going on in that brain of mine that surprises me and therefore the characters I produce are pretty much just as flawed and unpredictable as I am.  Secondly, once a story is shared with anyone, those characters exist outside of myself and therefore outside of my sphere of influence.  They exist in the imaginations of readers.  And anything can happen to them there.

 

One of the greatest things about Wattpad is that it affords the opportunity to interact with readers and get a glimpse at how they imagine my characters to be.  I think as readers, we lay claim to the characters we identify with.  Several of my readers would like to date my male protagonists, for instance.  And, since as I’ve already stated I don’t have real control over them, I guess they are free to do so!

 

What are your plans for this book? Are you considering publication? Traditional or independent?

I’m not sure a traditional publisher would pick up this story since it’s already posted on Wattpad in its entirety.  Plus it’s not a full length novel, it’s a novella.  I wrote this story exclusively for Wattpad and I’m happy with it living on Wattpad.  That said, I might still pitch it to a few eBook publishers, and I have considered self-publishing it.  Maybe.  That might happen eventually.

 

What’s your favorite writing secret?

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about Octavia Butler’s words, “Forget inspiration…forget talent.  Persist.”

 

How I interpret this for myself: I am not a precious snowflake and neither is my writing…and that’s okay, as long as I keep writing!

 

I might think I’ve written the best line ever, but it’s not and I haven’t.  No line is too precious that it can’t be reworked or eliminated altogether. Even some good lines sometimes just don’t work in the context of a specific scene or story.  I am a lot less attached now to my initial sentiment about what I’ve written. I’ve also given up on the notion of being original.  We don’t write in a bubble, we build upon what’s already been created.  We make connections.  We can and should strive to be innovative, but originality is not important.  What is important is that we keep showing up—we keep writing, we learn to accept criticism, we write some more, we persevere.

 

What do you enjoy doing when you’re not on Wattpad?

My life revolves around books.  My husband is a bibliophile and I am a librarian as well as a writer, so our house is filled to the brim with them.  I have a young son, and I enjoy spending time with him.  While he is an active kid, if you ask him what he most likes to do with me, he’ll say reading, and I second that!  One of my favorite things about parenting has been to share so many awesome stories with him.  I also garden and I love experiencing life without Wi-Fi every now and then.  I live near several mountain ranges.  There’s nothing better than spending a summer day in the mountains hiking.

 

If there was one thing that you would like your readers to know about your story, what would it be?

I get asked a lot if there is going to be a sequel.  The answer is no.

 

It’s hard for me to say no to a sequel because I am probably more attached to this story than to any others I’ve written to date.  Last May was such an intense month—staying up late to edit before posting early in the morning, getting daily feedback on each update, the intensity building with each day as the story escalated and the stakes for its characters grew exponentially.  It was all so wonderful, and when June hit, I went through major EDIM withdrawal.

 

That said, I feel very strongly that a second story could not have the same emotional impact that this one had.  Plus, the truth of the matter is, the characters live outside of the narrative now.  They live wherever readers imagine them to be, and that’s where they belong.  I don’t want to take back the reigns.  I think Merryn and Theo and the others deserve better than that.  I’m happy with where I left them.

 

Any other exciting events you want to share with us?

I have a series on Wattpad called The Fold.  Book 1, Unseen, has been featuring since June.  When its six month stint ends in December, Book 2, Unheeded, will begin featuring, and I’m very excited for that.  I’ll begin posting Book 3 sometime around then, so that’s something to look forward to as well.  Until December, I’m working on contest entries, primarily, and, fingers crossed, will be finishing another manuscript to pitch to literary agents.

 

Thank you so much, Amber. It was our pleasure to have you here. To all of the readers, I can also tell you that The Fold is a splendid series that you should certainly check out as well. Really you can’t go wrong with any of these stories. Thank you again, Amber, and all the best to you.

Review: Every Day in May

The first place winner for Breathtaking was @Amberkbryant Every Day in May.  If you’d like to check out her story, you can read it for free right here:  Every Day in May.

This competition featured a number of strong writers with some fantastic stories. I know that I passed many a pleasant hour reading these adventures and tales of characters in settings of all stripes. The judges certainly had their work cut out for them, but I think it’s clear what sets this story apart from a stiff competition. For the review, I will try to avoid giving away any spoilers. On the analysis, which will be posted on my website, all bets are off.

Every Day in May is written as a series of letters from a young woman to a prince who is imprisoned in a tower. The country is in turmoil, and a revolution is in the works. Everyone has a role to play, but what is Merryn, our protagonist, doing? She is writing letters to the prince to give him vital information. You see, Prince Theo must make a choice. All his life, he has been sheltered, hidden beneath his tyrant father’s shadow. And, under normal circumstances, this poor young prince would probably be deemed a casualty of war. But Merryn risks her own life, slipping to his chambers each night to leave a letter.

The rules of this exchange are simple. She will answer one question, and, though Merryn sometimes cheats a little by helping to direct young Theo in the direction he needs to go, a relationship develops. The story is told entirely in the letters that Merryn writes back to Theo with only a couple exceptions.

Yet even so, a rich narrative develops with stories of Merryn’s past, Theo’s father, the reasons for the revolution, and a gradual revelation of the key players. It even has an element of fun to it as you the reader must guess what questions Theo is asking. Sometimes those questions are the ones that you yourself would ask. Other times, Theo’s personality and obstinacy is revealed as he asks questions that make you wonder what he’s thinking.

A clear personality emerges from Merryn. She is kind, mothering, and brave, despite her own fears. It’s unclear what all she is risking initially, but the twist at the end reveals just how much she has done and is doing to give the prince a chance. You can’t help but like her. Her articulation is quite clear, and sometimes she seems over mature for her age. Yet at the same time, given what she has endured and her education, it isn’t that surprising. I ultimately felt that it added to her character and gave us insight into what else she had endured.

Theo’s personality as well as his character is more shrouded. Merryn’s tone and the responses she gives offer the most clues about who he is. Yet that actually makes it feel more believable to me. I’ll get into this more in the analysis. But Theo himself works well as a more shrouded character. A clear perspective on him emerges from the narrative, but the fun is in playing with the person it’s coming from. Merryn is something of an optimist as well as an idealist. She wants to believe in him. She wants him to have this chance. So we are seeing this character through her eyes, though we are actually more in Theo’s perspective.

Not to give anything away, but not all goes according to plan. In fact, it gets quite tense. Amber makes the most of the medium, using it to build up suspense and play on the uncertainty. The epilogue ties everything up nicely, though you should note that there’s a timeline before the actual epilogue. So don’t skip over it just because you think it’s a bunch of dates.

The story is a fast read. You can probably finish it up in a couple of hours. And when you’re done, you’ll have a satisfied feeling that you read a good story with compelling characters and a sweet but sincere voice. Check it out, and enjoy. And if you’d like to know a little more about Amber, turn to the section and check out this interview!

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