Why I Gave Up On Wattpad

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Community. It’s something I think every writer seeks to be a part of whether they want to admit it or not. We crave reviewers, feedback and opinions from others who may be more experienced in the field even though we may disagree with it at the same time. That’s why a place like Wattpad seems so appealing. It’s a community of other writers and readers who crave new stories, but who also crave being taken seriously as they write. There are downsides, however, to this kind of format and that’s what I’ll be exploring in today’s blog post. So let’s dive right into my thinking here with my Top 3 Reasons for Why I Gave Up on Wattpad.

1: Fan fictions
Now I’m not here to “dis” on fan fictions (and some readers of this blog may strongly disagree with me on this). Far from it. Writing fan fiction was partly how I got my inspiration to write an actual novel.  I grew up writing Star Trek stories (before I even knew what the term fan fiction actually was) and it morphed into Supernatural stories in my college years. There’s, most likely, more words in my Supernatural fan fictions than there were in four years’ worth of college papers combined. There is an overwhelming number of fan fictions for every fandom you can think of. Kpop bands? There’s fan fiction for that. Supernatural? Of course. Ninja turtles? Yep. Anime, manga and OST? Definitely.

Let me return to my original premise: I’m not here to “dis” on fan fictions. I had one, based off Supernatural, called Sam in Wonderland, that I thoroughly enjoyed writing. The problem with it, though, was that I could never seem to finish it. And since it was an un-publishable fan fiction, I just kept it going. But here’s a pro for stories such as these: there are some truly amazing ones out there. And Wattpad does give non-traditional writers a place to practice and find others who enjoy what they do as well.

Solution: If you want to get good feedback on a story you eventually want to publish either through traditional means or self-publishing, finding someone to critique your work who has been in the biz may prove incredibly useful. You may argue about scenes you love verses what they may see as not part of the story, but that’s what they’re there for. And fan fictions may even turn into a potential episode script (we’ve seen it happen before! Let’s face it, The Orville is basically one big Star Trek fan fiction within itself!)

2: Noise
Wattpad boasts a “large reading audience” but it can be very overwhelming and difficult to get “noticed.” Unless, of course, you write something that’s trending or popular. There’s a rather uncomfortable level of sexy stories with incredibly mature themes that anyone of any age can read. I love finding new stories, but I have the same problem with my Amazon Kindle that I do Wattpad – there’s a never-ending supply of new books and stories and sometimes ones with potential fall through the cracks. You can tailor your searches but I found myself browsing more than reading and never actually posting stories myself.

3: Potential for Theft
This is something that makes me nervous about posting something on a website – anyone can just copy-paste your story and try to pass it off as their own. Of course plagiarism exists even when a book is actually published and in readers’ hands (flashback to high school English class with the MLA Handbook for research papers and how to not plagiarize), and the website does require you to have an account before you can even browse for something to read. So I don’t think that I would ever want to have a story up on an unsecured site where anyone can just grab it for their own. Call me paranoid but unfortunately you can’t be too careful in today’s world with everything from debit card information to stories.

Final Thoughts
While Wattpad and other sites like it may be overwhelming for some they can be incredibly useful tools for others. Some have had success and Wattpad itself even has a list of books that started out as stories online. But there are those who, like myself, definitely prefer the “old school” way of publishing. Sometimes a place like Wattpad can be too “noisy” and other types of free software can help minimize distractions. Everyone has their own methods and what helps them write. If Wattpad is that for you, then by all means. If finding critique partners is it, go for it. The publishing world can be competitive but that doesn’t mean we have to stomp on anyone’s toes to get there. This blog may have been slightly tongue-and-cheek so I hope it made sense to someone out there!


The Complex Nature of Working Titles and Accidental Fan Fictions

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Working titles are just that: working titles. When I first started this journey into this novel (that’s going on two years now), I was convinced I wanted to name it Carrick. In Pittsburgh history, Carrick is a historic neighborhood founded in the 1700s and was not given the name Carrick until the 1853 when it officially became a borough at the request of Dr. John O’Brien. In the 1920s it officially became part of Pittsburgh suburbia and is the location of the historical Wigman house. The Wigman family may make a brief appearance in this novel, but who knows!

As I dove deeper into my research I came across mining terminology, and one such combustible item stuck in my mind. I don’t want to mention it here for fear that A: someone else would like the term or B: there’s already a book with the same title.

Not only did I end up with two working titles, I gained two separate story lines as well. Let me tell you – that confused me even more! It wasn’t until I was halfway through the first chapter of the second version that I realized I was fully basing it off one of my new favorite shows, When Calls the Heart, where the town begins life as, surprise surprise, a coal town. My mind’s eye was picturing their town houses, their families, and their geography. Several problems arose: Pennsylvania isn’t Canada. Pennsylvania didn’t have Mounties and Canada didn’t have canals. I was basically writing a glorified fan fiction.

That’s part of the danger right there: letting your mind become distracted from your original goal and allowing your fan fiction-writing past over influence your own novel. The first half of my writing “career” was mostly in the form of Star Trek and Supernatural fan fiction novellas – many of which I never finished – and I refuse to let myself get sucked back in. They were what helped shape my decision to actually write a full fledged novel. I’ll admit it right now: I’m scared. Scared of never actually writing it. Scared of the rejection letters. Scared of not having the funds to have a really good editor or someone having faith in the story to want to edit it in the first place. I’m not seasoned like many of my favorite authors who are able to crank out stories because it’s their second nature. They know their characters inside and out. I’m still just treading water, waiting to do that butterfly meter race and win with a published book.

Step one: Have confidence in myself.
Step two: Complete my outline.
Step three: Be brave enough to find someone to critique it.

When you write you pour a bit of yourself into each and every story. It’s like putting your heart on your sleeve and I haven’t had great results with that before. But this time. With this novel – regardless of if the name Carrick sticks or not – I will complete it.


What Inspired Me to Write #firedamp

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It was literally a dream. Without sounding prophetical or in need of being admitted to an asylum, that is exactly how the idea for Firedamp came about. A dream. The kind of dream that was so vivid that you wake up after and you have to wonder if it actually happened or not. So I had the idea but it was the execution of it that perplexed me at first. Then it dawned on me:  what better way than to combine something fantastical with historical fact? Not only that, but center it in a place you love and where you grew up? We’ve all heard the phrase, “Write what you know.” What I know is Pennsylvania.

The American Keystone State of Pennsylvania is one of the oldest colonies in the United States. From Fort Pitt to Gettysburg to Homestead and beyond, events in these places helped establish Pennsylvania as an integral force throughout history. But also in Pennsylvania, it became an industrial hub for the blue collar working class. With their lives being dictated by old money and those who controlled it. All these factors will come to play in Firedamp in one way or another, and I hope I somehow do it justice.

While I admit that it has been an on-again-off-again project, I am constantly thinking of it, constantly researching, constantly writing and constantly outlining. Firedamp is a historically-driven novel that combines several big events where hopefully readers of all ages will not only enjoy but learn something new in the process about the past that should not be forgotten.

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Apparently “Beta Readers” Are a Thing

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When I first ventured into this new phase of my life I never knew there was such a thing as a “beta reader.” As I looked more into it the more I realized that maybe I should find a few of my own. But then that “fear” crept up again. You know…the fear

Of course in Rachel’s case it’s fear of quitting her job and making something of her life, but I think the same concept applies here. I’ve been afraid of showing others not only what I’ve written so far but how little of it I’ve actually produced.

But then I realized that that is what I have been craving. I needed input. Someone to tell me whether they like it or hate it. Whether it’s a storyline they’ve read before or not. Whether it’s something they think is marketable, relevant, or fresh. I think it’s something every writer has to face some day – the criticism. I think that that is what’s been causing the mental block in my head from continuing with what I have already. Now thankfully I think I’ve found someone with whom I can share these fears, a fellow writer who is also working on her first novel as well.

There’s still that trepidation though, of whether or not you’ve chosen the right person, but beta readers are a necessary part of the writing process, and there’s only doing, not just trying. (Though I’m sure I’m butchering that phrase just now!)


It’s Okay to Take a Break

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For the past six months I have been researching. Researching so much that I felt overloaded with information and that overload caused me to have to take a break. I find myself still staring at four library books I’m praying are not overdue. But that’s when I realized, two weeks ago, that I needed a break. I felt boxed in by my own tiny office and desktop. I felt the drive leak away. I really had burnt myself out.

But with Spring in the air, a new laptop, and new resolve, I know I need to keep going. I need to finish at least one story I’ve started in my life. I’ve always found that to be my weak link. I get an idea. Start it. And then complicate it so much that I don’t think I’m good enough to get myself out of it.

That’s when I realized that I absolutely HAVE to keep going with Carrick. I need to keep chasing this dream I’ve had since I was a child. My biggest problem is I don’t have a proper outlet. I don’t think I mean outlet. I have the social media outlet. I suppose I mean like-minded folks in my own town with whom I can relate, but the introvert in me is rearing its head. So please excuse today’s ramblings. It’s time to get back to work!


Writers and their Habitats

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Habit. When I typed that out just now I wanted to keep going and write “habitat” instead. But the two can go hand-in-hand, depending on the way you look at it. Now I can only speak for myself, but I think each individual writer builds their own “habitat” or “nest” for when they write; their own creative space that allows them to get into that special mode for putting ink to paper.

My own habitat is still in-the-works. It’s such an odd space filled with windows and doors on every wall. I want to do something more with it but time and budget are both against me. I almost bought a shelf earlier this year that would have finally taken care of replacing a mishmash collection of storage units I gained from my mother. Half the time a pile of papers ends up on either side of my chair on the floor because my desk isn’t big enough. And the other half of the time is spent cleaning that pile up.

But isn’t that how many of us are? We’re so focused on our projects that we ignore the habitat we’ve created for ourselves. It’s become…habit. There are, however, other aspects of my writer’s habitat I do love. I love my constant stream of kpop, big band or soundtrack music to keep me inspired. I love the various posters on my wall of things that keep me motivated. And I even love the slight mess that is always constant.

One of these days I’ll truly have my habitat sorted out. In the meantime I’ll continue to dream.


A #WriteTip for Fellow Novel Virgins

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Short #writetip for my fellow #novelvirgins

I have been researching my first novel for seven months. Seven. Granted, I took a break over the Thanksgiving/Christmas period because it just became too much with normal life. But that’s the trick, isn’t it? Knowing when too much is just…too much?

I don’t know how it is for other first-time novelists, but I have found that I can’t research/write every single day. This past weekend I went through three volumes of non-fiction on the Homestead Strikes of the 1800s in one day. To quote the Wheel of Fortune game, THAT’S TOO MUCH!! (points if you know what I’m talking about!)

I have found my research and my epiphones come in waves. One line of research can inspire a whole paragraph chicken-scratched in the next page of my journal that had originally been earmarked for, well, more research quotes.

Knowing when to take little breaks has been learned the hard way. As a first-time novelist you know you are working at your own pace. You don’t have an editor or a publicist asking you for your next set of chapters, or if your book is going to be a trilogy, or potential readers (yet!) asking you questions you don’t know the answers to yet. Don’t let yourself burn out before you get to the meat of your idea.

It’s okay to take your time, you novel virgin! You’ll know when you’re ready to pick it back up!

#keepcalmandwriteon


Lazy Language: A Short Analysis of Linguistic Pet Peeves

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Picture it.

You’re sitting in a café, in your favorite spot on the patio with your favorite drink when someone says it. That. Phrase. The phrase that sends chills up and down your spine. The phrase that your friends can’t understand why it makes you uneasy. I am sure that there is a psychological study out there that sufficiently explains why our bodies react the way they do but I am no neurobiologist who can find that easily. I can, however, sum it up into two simple words: Lazy Language. The problem is that everyone uses it, and everyone has their own pet peeves when it comes to it.

The “Delish” Culture 

Advertising is everything. Companies will be forever pushing the next season of products long before the current one has finished. When television shows coin their own terms, like “delish,” we all embrace it. Advertising has become so engrained in our American culture that it is almost expected. Catch phrases are so commercialized that companies spend millions to have theirs air during major sporting events. Can the think tank behind this be appeased by all of us turning our devices off to it? Most likely, no. But it is by no means lazy. Scores of research and debate goes into what is eventually put out. And while it’s not always steeped in proper grammar it gets stuck in your head. That’s why I consider advertising a pet peeve because every one of us buys into it on some level. The key: don’t let the ever-constant consumerism overtake your daily life and influence your decisions in the wrong way.

The “Thank You Much!” Culture

It is no secret that language changes with everything else. No one speaks Shakespearean anymore unless they’re in a literature class, an artist, or an aspiring play write. Who would walk up to a complete stranger and start using wherefores and thereofs? While it is completely romantic to fantasize about that period, it is rather impractical.

“If I profane with my unworthied hand
this holy shrine, the gentle fine is this:
My lips, two blushing pilgrims, ready stand
to smooth that rough touch with a tender kiss.”                   ~Romeo~

Undoubtedly romantic, but outdated nonetheless. It’s been replaced by shortened phrases spoken out loud that should remain in text form, i.e. LOL, ROTFL, OMG, just to name the acronyms. “Thank you much,” in this writer’s mind, is just as cringe-worthy. We are starting to sacrifice daily conversation in the interest of getting things done more quickly. And in my mind, it just doesn’t work.


What are some words or phrases you hear in your daily lives that make you cringe? Perhaps it would be prudent to find out why they cause you so much angst. What’s worked for me is taking steps to eliminate the habits from my own life. I constantly resist the urge to use “lol” overbearingly in Tweets and texts (though not always completely successful), and I think carefully before I speak to make sure I don’t make any more linguistic faux pas to better verse myself in varied word choice.

But to each their own, I suppose. We can only focus on our own habits; we cannot force the world to always use proper grammar. Heaven knows this casual blog attempted to do so at 10 PM on a Sunday evening.

Happy reading.
Happy writing.
Keep Calm and Research On.


Puddled in Your Head

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Does it feel like you’ve been researching way too long without producing much?
Does it feel like way too much information has puddled in your head with no relief?

Earlier this week I felt the same way. With one-third of my journal filled I was feeling overwhelmed until I decided to bite the bullet and sticky-note it all. So I dug out my old college supplies, found those skinny Post-It strips, and got to work. Halfway through all the jumble I found my synopsis. And then halfway through the synopsis I found my characters’ route and from that I am finally able to start formulating my plot.

So don’t let the writing process frustrate you. That’s why it’s called the writing process; just give yourself time…especially if it’s a historical novel!


Why You Should Research Your Historical Novel

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Every writer has to start somewhere. Every potential author needs to know that they don’t know everything. That, quite honestly, is one of the cold hard truths of the fast-paced publishing world. When I started this book last September, all I had was one tiny idea. One tiny element that would eventually grow to be this beast of a project where I am consistently learning new things.

If you’re going to write about a certain time period, KNOW that time period. You can’t write on the mid 1800s if all you’ve seen on the subject is a single film version of Jane Eyre. You have to immerse yourself in it. Be analytical of the content you find and be extremely picky of what you choose to include in your own nonfiction.

For first-time writers the task can be daunting at first. It was for me when I realized how little I knew. Some authors can pick up their pen and crank out half a novel in a night. Don’t let yourself become discouraged if you find yourself getting stuck. That’s what the research there is for! If you’re not sure what type of hat your character could have worn, or why they believe what they believe, or if the town you chose for your backdrop is the proper setting for your climax, research it.

Another truth: readers will know, and want to know, why you chose the details you put in. Your readers will also be able to pick up on false facts, especially if you’re writing something historical. Granted, it will be your take on events that actually happened, but be prepared to be able to explain the why.

Is research daunting? Yes. But you will not only find connections in the process but gain a wealth of knowledge on your subjects that you may otherwise have never known.