I worked until 2am last night (this morning) and was able to retrieve one file off of my crashed hard drive before it died completely. Fortunately, it was the most important file- the latest manuscript. I lost all of my cover work, though. Hopefully, I’m not going to need those files in the future, or I’ll have to spend a couple of days recreating everything from scratch again. The good news is I finished chapter 2 before turning in. On to chapter 3 today!
All that is trying and portentious. I had a hard disk crash. Now, I’m waiting for software to recover those important files. My last backup was a week ago. Let’s just say I’ve done a lot of work since then. Sigh!
I did it! I surpassed the 200k reads mark on wattpad.com. The bright red numbers should draw readers to my book like moths to a flame (forgive the overused cliche). Ok. Not really. But it does look nice. I also passed 1,000 followers this week. Not a bad showing for nine months of hard promoting, interacting, shamelessly self-promoting in the most clandestine way possible.
Really, it’s a game. You have to advertise without advertising. You have to circumvent the trolls and ignore the know-it-all’s professing they know the publishing industry in spite of the fact that they’ve self-published novels no self-respecting publisher would touch if their manuscript was the one left following Fahrenheit 451 like apocalyptic massacre of every other book. It’s a game of shadows trying to make one’s dreams into substance.
What has been the key? I believe my understanding of my market has propelled my recent success. One of my cohort members from Stanford recently said, “Girls buy books.” How true she was, and how lucky I that I wrote THE FRUIT OF THE FALLEN with the teen female in mind. Women are much better communicators and, frankly, share much more about their lives than men do. We all know this. Sure there are exceptions to the rule, but if one wants to be successful outside of the fantasy and perhaps spy-espionage genres, the teen girl reader must be considered. I can share an example from a recent trip to Europe with a group of teens. One girl was reading THE FAULT IN OUR STARS. Before we had boarded the plane, every other girl in the group had their own hardback copy for which they payed premium retail at the airport book store (and they got a nice bag to boot). Word of mouth. Being a part of the group. Not being left out of the conversation. These are key points to understanding why girls buy books. Guys just don’t talk as much about what they are reading (unless Khalessi is involved, over course!).
I can’t tell you how hard I tried to write a butterfly theme into my novel so I could use the beautiful blue butterfly on the cover. Why? Because girls like butterflies. They’re pretty. Girls will click on my book just because of the beautiful cover. That’s the first step. The writing is the second step.
So, it has been a week of milestones. 200K readers. 1,000 followers. Plus, I finished the extended version of the novel and am doing a final proof before submitting it for republication. A chapter in my own writing story is closing. Thank goodness! I can’t wait to start the next one.
Mangos, finger bananas, pineapples cubes and fresh papaya scooped out with your fingers and eaten so that the juice dribbles down your chin and hand. What’s culinary protocol when you’re sitting in a canoe six degrees above the equator with a basket of handpicked fruit at your feet and a wriggling fish in your lap that you speared just minutes before? No need to cook him either. I made five slices down his side and the tore his flesh away from his bones, rinsed each morsel in the ocean water and enjoyed the best sushi I’d ever tasted.
This was Ponape, a small island in Micronesia six degrees above the equator north and slightly east of Australia. If you take a flight to Hawaii from Los Angeles and keep going another three thousand miles you’ll be there. I was in between my second and third years in college taking seven months to be a student missionary. I taught music in a church sponsored elementary school children, which basically meant I played the piano an hour a day while they sang nasal renditions of summer camp favorites. It was a good gig. I was young, in love with a fellow missionary, and fearless. Well, almost.
My roommates and I had decided to go snorkeling in a place where the water was so warm you needed to get out to cool off and so blue that it was made transparent. I could see the colored coral below our canoe and my roommates’ snorkels bobbing up and down and their fins splashing as they motored around.
“I’m going across the channel,” I yelled when a mask appeared. A thumbs up was the response.
The channel looked no wider than maybe a hundred feet, as if I knew what a hundred feet looked like back then. I spat in my goggles to keep them from fogging, rinsed them out, slipped on my flippers and rolled out of the canoe.
Talk about HD clarity. Colors blended with colors- fish and coral, little Nemos peeked out from within their anemones, parrot fish with kissing beaks played chase, some blue, some yellow, some green, and some striped all colors of the tropical rainbow. Breathtaking. So beautiful. But I left them behind and swam towards the channel watching the bottom fall away.
When I was half way across I paused to consider how far I had come. Everything seems farther away when you’re in the water, and I thought I must have already come at least a hundred feet. But I was half way. No reason to turn around- except that I couldn’t see the reef ahead. Fearless. I swam on.
The water was not so warm all of a sudden. The bottom had disappeared completely. I couldn’t see the other side nor the reef from where I’d come. I was alone in the open channel feeling small and insignificant. But I wasn’t alone. Oh, no. I was definitely not alone.
From the direction of the open ocean I caught a glimmer moving towards me. I wiped my goggles and peered into the darkness. It was enormous. Then, it …they, were all around me. Hundreds, even thousands of tuna swimming under me and in front of me, behind me. I could reach out and touch them, they were so close. Then they were not close at all. They were scattering.
I’ve scared them, I thought. But it was not me they were afraid of. It was the shark swimming through the open channel directly towards us. I saw him. Black eyes on gray skin. He was big. Six feet? Thirty? I froze. Couldn’t move. My mind told me to swim. My legs froze? I was to be the sushi.
But he did not eat me. He turned and followed the tuna, leaving me alone floating in my own pee. I forced my legs to kick like I never had before until I reached the highest bit of corral I could crawl upon. I yelled for my friends to pick me up. They laughed nervously when I told them what had happened. The locals rolled with laughter when I told my story. They said it was only a reef shark. Not dangerous unless you have a string of fish hanging from your waist, and then a bite is only an accident. But it did not matter. Reef shark or not, that moment changed me.
Which stories stand out among the flotsam and jetsam that is wattpad?
I have sifted through the profiles and complied a list of stories I find worthy of your attention. These authors have written words others might have overlooked without having realized their merit. So, I intend to give them their due attention.
These are not professional authors. Their stories might not even be complete. But, I will assure you, they are worth a moment of your time.
Why have these stories been selected? They show promise in one of the five following areas:
Voice – Individuality is timeless. Clichés die young.
Plot – Turn me on my head and spin me until I’m dizzy and giddy.
Artistry – Poetry in prose.
Technique – Some writers just know how to do it right.
Title/Cover – Catch my eye. Draw me in.
DIRECT LINKS TO STORIES: