A short story I wrote is being published in the seventh annual Insecure Writer's Support Group Anthology. This year's title is First Love: The Art of Making Doughnuts. My story is called "Clyde and Coalesce". The book should be out in the summer.
You can view the announcement here.
It’s time for another group posting of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group! The purpose of the IWSG is to share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!
The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer's Support Group day. Post your thoughts on your own blog. Talk about your doubts and the fears you have conquered. Discuss your struggles and triumphs. Offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling. Visit others in the group and connect with your fellow writers. This group is all about connecting!
January 5 question - What's the one thing about your writing career you regret the most? Were you able to overcome it?
I know my answer to this right away! My biggest regret is not starting sooner. If I'd gotten the rookie mistakes out of the way as a teen or twenty-something, I'd be much further along by now. So why didn't I write earlier? I could say I needed to gain life experience. I could say I needed to come up with a good enough story to tell. I could list a thousand reasons, but they'd be untrue. I didn't start writing because I didn't realize the daydreams and bits of stories fluttering around my head were worth writing down. I thought authors sat themselves at a computer, poised their fingers on the keys with resolve, and wove a tapestry of words from start to finish...something I wasn't capable of.
After watching a movie or reading a book, I'd lie awake at night and imagine myself as the main character, making different choices and taking the plot a different direction until the story was unrecognizable. Everyone does that, right? It's how we escape. It's where fanfiction comes from. One night, the scene taking place in my head wouldn't let me sleep. I could hear the characters talking. I could see the expressions on their faces. It took on such a life of its own that I reached for my tablet on the nightstand. After putting down those few hundred words, I laid my head on my pillow and slept like a log. I thought that was the end of it, but leaving things unfinished isn't my style. The story had its hooks in me. I wrote a little at a time, putting down whatever scene came to me. Within a few months, I had a finished novel. It was a mess and completely unreadable, but it was finished.
No one has ever seen that first book. I won't even tell you what it was about (at least, not in this post), but it turned me into a writer. These days, my stories are outlined ahead of time. That first attempt taught me I'm a planner, not a pantser. Who knows, maybe someday I'll go back, do some editing, and see if I can tame it into something publishable. Even if nothing ever comes of the book, it holds a special place in my heart. You never forget your first!
ps. Falling for the Villain is on sale for a limited time! Get the ebook for 99 cents on Amazon:
Also available FREE on Kindle Unlimited.
One of the leading free sites to find web novels is Wattpad.com. There are books in every genre, written by authors of all ages from around the world. Most books are free, but there are some that cost money to read. The quality of the writing varies greatly, and many books are left unfinished on the site.
Some people swear by the power of Wattpad to attract new readers, especially teenage readers. There are also those who argue that anyone who posts their content on the internet for free is throwing away their hard work.
Wattpad markets itself as an opportunity for writers to connect directly with readers, get useful feedback, and perhaps even make money from their writing. Programs like Wattpad Paid Stories, Wattpad Studios, and Wattpad Books provide the chance for select writers to see their work earn income, make it into print, and even make it onscreen.
So, what are the pros and cons? As someone who's been using the site for over a year, I'll take a look at the things I think work and the things that don't.
Pro - Get Feedback
Wattpad allows you to try out a story idea and get instant, line-by-line feedback from readers. When you ask friends to read your story, they might offer a few suggestions, but overall they're going to be polite with their feedback. They don't want to hurt your feelings and won't be as brutally honest as you need. On Wattpad, nobody knows you. Readers may not be kind, but they will be honest. If there's something in your story that doesn't work, they'll let you know. They'll also tell you when something has a powerful impact. As a writer, I try to have some humor in every story. Sometimes it's hard to tell if a joke lands the way I want. With Wattpad, your readers can tell you with a simple emoji whether your writing has the intended effect.
Con - Get Lost in the Crowd
Just like it's difficult to get people to buy your book on Amazon, it's hard to get people to read your book on Wattpad. Even though it's free, you still have to market yourself. Chatting with other users and leaving insightful comments on other writers' stories are some ways to be found, but it's an uphill battle. If you're going to put in that much work, why not put in the work on a site where you can SELL your book?
Pro - Gain a Following
Even though it takes some effort, getting readers on Wattpad is a good way to build a following. Dedicated readers who'll devour anything you produce are the foundation for a career. If you write good quality content, market it, and post updates to your stories regularly, you'll start building a fan base that will (hopefully) follow you for the rest of your writing journey. Even successful authors have started creating Wattpad accounts to reach readers they might not have attracted otherwise. Margaret Atwood is a good example of this. She has 113k followers!
Con - Low Odds
Wattpad talks a big game about its opportunities to get published and attract attention from TV and movie studios. However, the number of writers who have that kind of success from the platform is extremely low. You may as well buy a lottery ticket. Even if your writing is stellar and you manage to gain lots of readers, it's still a long shot.
Pro - Contests
This is where I get excited when I talk about Wattpad. The site runs periodic contests put on by big name sponsors like Tim Horton's, Maybelline, and Shaw. Usually, the contests require users to submit a flash fiction piece (about 500 words) on an assigned topic. Often, these serve to promote a new product the company is launching. For example, the #timscoldbrewstories contest told participants to write a story featuring Tim Horton's new cold brew coffee. Of the entries, ten were selected as winners and two were chosen as Grand Prize winners to receive $500, a Freewrite tablet, and a $100 Tim Horton's gift card. I entered that contest on a whim because it sounded like a fun writing prompt. I never expected to win the Grand Prize, but that's exactly what happened. In addition to the great prizes, winning the contest gave me a huge confidence boost. Since then, I enter every contest I can. Any prize money I win allows me to pay for book cover design and marketing for my novels. The contests are seriously my FAVORITE thing about Wattpad. My kids also love the contests. We've been eating a lot of apple fritters with the gift card!
What's my final verdict? Wattpad is worth it...as long as you use it wisely. I personally don't post books out there that I feel are good enough for me to publish on Amazon. I mainly use the site for fan fiction, short stories, and contest entries. However, I've seen others use the site as a place to write first drafts and get feedback. Those users then edit based on the feedback and publish their final version on Amazon. It's an interesting idea, but I don't know if their readers on Wattpad follow them to Amazon to buy the final version after reading the draft for free. Part of me doubts it. And anyway, my first drafts are so rough I wouldn't want ANYONE to see them.
For now, I'll keep posting stories to Wattpad whenever I can. I'll always be grateful to the platform because it's where I wrote my very first stories that I let anyone read. It's where I practice, it's where I gain confidence, and it's where I grow as a writer. If you're not on there yet, go make an account!
And just like that, NaNoWriMo was over. November was grueling. There were days when I didn’t meet my goals, but I made up the word count each time. Toward the end, I lost all motivation, felt no inspiration, and was sure the quality of my writing was abomination. The deadline looming at the end of the month was the one thing that kept me going. Somehow I pushed through, and I’m happy to say that I finished the first draft of my sequel today with a whole day to spare! Now that I know it can be done, the pressure is on to write book three in one month as well… Ugh.
After kicking NaNoWriMo’s butt, I’m taking a couple weeks to rest and edit some other projects before I start revising this novel. Let me tell you, it is going to need EXTENSIVE editing.
*The above photo is from The Return of the King, produced by New Line Cinema.
November is National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo for short. The goal is to write an entire novel in one month. I’ve never done it before, but this year I decided to take the challenge. I’ve been working on my sequel to Falling for the Villain since November 1st, writing a 4,000 word chapter each weekday. The book will be about 20 chapters long.
It has been exhausting to say the least! As of today (Friday, November 19), I have 58,000 words. It’s a tiny bit shy of my goal, but not half bad! I left some wiggle room at the end of the month, so I think I might actually make it!
This is an entirely different approach to writing for me. With Falling for the Villain, I edited constantly as I wrote, but in this first draft of the sequel, I’m not allowed to do any editing whatsoever. The focus is just write, write, write! I’m even using something called a Freewrite tablet which makes it literally impossible to edit.
I hope it will work out well…
In years past, our family dressed in a unified theme for Halloween. We did Cinderella, in which my daughter was Princess Cinderella, I was peasant Cinderella, my husband was the prince, and my son was the pumpkin. We also did Paw Patrol, in which my daughter was Skye, I was Katie the dog groomer, my husband was Ryder, and my son was a miniature Ryder. The two Ryders were so cute together! My husband called him Mini-me all day.
This year is a little different. My kids are old enough they both have their own ideas, so the family theme is out. Instead, we’re splitting into two themes. My daughter and I are going as Anna and Elsa. My son is going as Spider-man, meaning my husband needed to pick an easy superhero costume from the Marvel universe.
This year's Marvel blockbuster was Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, and my husband was really excited to see an Asian superhero. It was no surprise when he picked Shang-Chi for his costume. He told me, "I'm Chinese, so I'm already halfway there!" He even has a mole on his cheek in the same spot as Simu Liu! (The Shang-Chi actor.) The costume was meant to be.
Step by Step Instructions
A few notes:
Here is the finished product, modeled by my husband:
What do you think? Was there anything I should’ve done differently? Did you DIY a costume this year too?
Writing about superheroes has gotten me thinking about this question. There are some pretty amazing superpowers in comic books and onscreen: flight, invisibility, teleportation, mind reading, super speed…
With teleportation, I could visit my family abroad in the blink of an eye and still be home in time for school pickup.
With super speed comes high metabolism. I wonder how many packs of double-stuffed Oreos the Flash can eat before he gains a single pound.
Flight would be amazing too. Being able to fly is one of my most common recurring dreams. Then again, in the dream I usually have to flap my arms. It’s not the most dignified spectacle.
There are lots of good options, but for me, the choice is clear. I’d choose telekinesis. Then, like Jean Grey, I could move objects with my mind AND fly (by moving my own body with my mind). Who doesn’t love a two-for-the-price-of-one deal? Just imagine the possibilities.
...Maybe it's best I don't get superpowers. I'm starting to sound like a villain!
But that’s just me. What about you? What superpower would you pick?
As I write this first (and very brief) post, I'm putting the finishing touches on the website, building my Facebook author page, and communicating with my graphic designer. Falling for the Villain is launching on Amazon on November 1st. I'm both excited and nervous to start this journey. Before you know it, I'm going to start writing book two, which is already outlined.
Here goes nothing!