See You In 2017!

 

Fresh starts and positive changes come to mind as we bring in the new year, and I know many are thrilled to say goodbye to 2016. Instead of focusing on what went wrong this year, I’ve been trying to remember all of the things that went right. In addition to making some wonderful new friends, I feel I’ve grown – not only as a person but as a writer. So as we celebrate 2017 and all it has to offer, I’ll be counting my blessings and wishing you more. May the new year bring you much happiness and good fortune!

Love Always,

Darly

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What Makes A Good Romance?

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When I was younger, I used to borrow books from the library. No, no — I don’t mean check them out with my library card. I mean borrow them. You know: stuff one inside my book bag before anyone noticed, smuggle it out of the library and into my house then read it underneath the privacy of my covers by the dim yellow glow of a flashlight swiped from my father’s work bench. When I put the book up for the night, I’d carefully conceal it underneath my mattress where my parents would never find it. And when I finally finished it, I’d return it to its rightful place on the library shelf and find another.

Borrow, read, return, and repeat.

What genre was I so secretive about? Romance, of course. Something eleven-year-old me wasn’t allowed to read, and something adult me still can’t get enough of.

On January 31st, 2017, my very own romance novel will be sitting on book store shelves. True story! But between you and me, I never intended to publish. Not that I didn’t want to. It had always been something I’d fantasized about, even as a child. I just didn’t think something like that could ever happen to someone like me. So when I wrote Strawberry Wine, I wrote it for me. I wrote it for the story that played over and over inside my head every time I heard the song by the same name on the radio, performed by country singer Deana Carter. I never actually thought anyone would read it! And now, as I contemplate my second published novel, I’m left to wonder: what makes a great romance? Here are my thoughts:

  • The main ingredient is … you guessed it. Romance. Romance has to be the main plot. Not just sex. I mean, sex is good. Very good. But I want the whole will they or won’t they end up together? I want the slow burn of infatuation that inevitably builds into a raging inferno of love (so cheesy, I know!).
  • I want meaningful connections with secondary characters. They help make the story more believable. And above all else, authenticity is a must. Secondary characters give the story depth and can be an excellent way to introduce a bit of contrast or comedy. Even tragedy, if you must.
  • I want conflict. Not in real life, of course, but in books. The best way to do this is to make sure at least one of your main characters is fighting the relationship. Do they have a history of failed affairs? Are they damaged in some way? Suffering from a horrific loss? Is the romance forbidden? Internal conflict is more important than external conflict (and yes, you need both) because the reader needs to be left wondering will they or won’t they end up together? It’s especially successful if the internal conflict and the external conflict come into play simultaneously. It gets me every single time!
  • Perfection is for chumps! I don’t want perfect characters, I want them to be flawed. I want them to be human; to be real. I want them to make mistakes and I want consequences to their actions. Imperfect characters make for better storytelling, and writers want readers to experience emotions through the characters they’ve created. Not only that, but by the end of the story, your characters need to have grown. They can’t grow if they have no weakness.
  • I, myself, want that happy ending. At least in a romance. It’s a must! By the end of the book, I want to have fallen in love with the couple and their journey, and I want them to end up together. But this isn’t always the case. A happy ending isn’t guaranteed, and some readers are okay with that. It’s all a matter of personal preference. Happy endings are mine. What’s yours?

These are what make a good romance for me, but what makes a good romance for you? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

How To Get Your Story Featured On Wattpad

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So you’ve written a story and you’ve posted it in full to Wattpad but you’re just not getting the reads you expected. You’ve done everything within your power to generate interest: you’ve written a story you’re proud of, you’ve mingled in the clubs, you’ve read and commented consistently on other authors’ stories, you’ve joined a gazillion book discussions and still … nothing! What’s a writer got to do to find some readers?!

I’m going to tell you. You can put in a request to have your story added to the Featured List.

What’s the Featured List, you might be asking yourself? According to Wattpad, every story that is featured is carefully hand-picked by Wattpad’s own Community Engagement team to be placed in a special, more visible spot that makes it easier for readers to find (because sifting through millions upon millions of stories to find what you’re looking for can be very overwhelming!).

That being said, not every submission is going to be granted. Serious thought goes into selecting each story. Why? Because being on the Featured List is both a privilege AND a responsibility. The Featured List will potentially put you and your story in front of millions of eager readers ready to vote and comment on each one of your chapters and expect you to comment back. Wattpad is an extremely interactive experience, one that encourages communication between an author and a reader. So if you’re not up for the challenge, don’t even think about submitting that story. Wattpad is more than just a reading and writing website. It’s a positive and supportive community all coming together to engage in something they love.

Still interested? Then let’s move on to the rules. Yes … the rules!

What Wattpad is looking for:

  • Stories that have good grammar, spelling, plot development, characterization, a distinct tone of voice, etc. So give that story one more edit before you apply!
  • Stories that are full-length and complete (or nearing completion).
  • Stories with a clear and compelling cover (sized 512×800), story description, and relevant tags.
  • Stories that will appeal to the diverse readership of the Wattpad community.
  • Stories that are distinctive and unique in plot and style.

What they’re not looking for:

  • Excerpts, teasers, sample chapters, or works intending to remain incomplete. Sorry, but it’s gotta be completed or near completion.
  • Stories that cannot standalone (i.e., sequels).
  • Emailing us PDFs, ePubs, or Word documents containing your story. Stories must be posted on Wattpad.
  • Unedited works. First drafts are absolutely fine, but stories should have a level of polish to them.

Who Wattpad is looking for:

  • Wattpadders like you! (Don’t have an account? Don’t worry, it’s easy to get started. Just sign up HERE for FREE and get posting!)
  • Engaged Wattpadders (This means writers who are also readers, commenters and voters. Writers who support other writers are the best writers, because they help each other succeed. Writers who want to be an active part of the community. No one likes a writer who posts a story and then never comes back to thank their readers.)
  • Kind and considerate Wattpadders (Trolls may stay under the bridge where they belong.)

What to expect if your story is featured:

If you’ve been selected for featuring, Wattpad will contact you to let you know the official day your story will be added to the List. Your story will then be placed at the top of the list for around one week or so, and afterward will be mixed in at random among the other stories to give everyone an equal chance at getting the limelight. You can expect an increase in reads, votes and comments, although Wattpad makes no guarantees about the number of reads your story will get.

After your week at the top of the list, your story will begin to randomize among the other stories in your genre and will change position daily. You could go from the top to the bottom and then back to the top again!

Wattpad receives several feature requests, so submissions could take up to four weeks or more to be reviewed. Just be patient, they’ll get to you!

So are you ready to take the next step in your writing career? Then apply to be featured today! Click HERE to fill out a request, and best of luck to you all!

How to Write a Book Blurb: Reblog of The Blurb Queen

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Need help writing a book blurb that will make readers stop and take notice?

“A good blurb is NOT a mini-synopsis. A blurb is AD COPY. 

In other words, you don’t want to tell the reader about your book, you want to make the reader buy your book. The point is to show the reader in as few words as possible, ‘Hey! Look at this–if you read this book, you are guaranteed a certain experience.’

Read more here: Seekerville Welcomes The Blurb Queen

Introducing Wattpad Studios – Aron Levitz will lead new division as head of Wattpad Studios

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One more amazing thing to look forward to from Wattpad!

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At Wattpad, we believe that the future of entertainment will be driven by communities of storytellers and backed by powerful data and insights. Today, we are one step closer to this future with the introduction of Wattpad Studios.

Operating like a multi-channel network (MCN), Wattpad Studios will partner with the entertainment industry to co-produce Wattpad stories for print, film, television, and digital platforms.

With insights on approximately 250 million original story uploads and access to over two million creators, Wattpad is in a unique position to partner with the entertainment industry. Wattpad stories reflect what people love in life, on the screen, and in the depths of their imaginations; and as a result, Wattpad stories are always culturally relevant. With Wattpad Studios, entertainment executives can keep their finger on the pulse of pop culture and also reduce the guesswork involved during the traditional development process.

Aron Levitz has been promoted…

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Sayonara, RT Booklovers Convention 2016!

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Wow, what a ride. For my very first writers’ convention ever, I really hit the jackpot (no gambling pun intended)!

For those of you who do not know, I attended this year’s RT Booklovers Convention in Las Vegas, Nevada—six fun-filled days where I had the opportunity to mix business with pleasure! There were over 200 workshops readers and writers could attend featuring a wide range of topics, from YA Spooky Slumber Party to Charmed by the Cowboy (and everything in between). Feel like discussing New Adult trends with the very writers you read? There was an event for that! Are you an aspiring author ready to pitch your book to several eager agents and publishers? There was an event for that, too!

You could literally hob-nob with your favorite authors at one panel then go straight to another where you’d receive a gift bag full of goodies, including books—yes, FREE BOOKS! It doesn’t get any better than that (just make sure you have plenty of room in your suitcase to take them all home)! It truly was an amazing experience. And on the final day of the convention, more than 625 authors gathered at the Giant Book Fair to sign their books, including Brenda Drake, Jennifer Armentrout, Shayla Black, Sylvia Day, Kiera Cass, Eloisa James, Tessa Dare, Anna Todd … and the list goes on and on. Talk about a fan-girl experience! As an avid reader, this convention was a dream come true. And as an author, I found it to be very inspirational.

Participants could either register for the full six day event, which included several after-hour parties, or purchase individual day passes. Basically, it was a giant party where you could mix and mingle with readers, authors, bloggers, editors, agents and publishers. In fact, there was so much to do you had to pick and choose! It was impossible to fit everything in.

My advice to anyone hoping to attend a future event—besides wear comfortable shoes—is to go over the schedule very carefully and decide which workshops are most important to you. Every hour, new events and panels begin and often times there are several interesting topics taking place at once. You’ll need to know in advance which ones to hit so you do not miss out on something you really want to do. And don’t forget to leave room to eat or before you know it you’ll have missed meals!

After it was all said and done, I left Las Vegas feeling exhausted yet motivated. I met new friends and found something I would love to participate in every year—and plan to! Next year the convention will take place May 2nd—May 7th in Atlanta, Georgia. Who knows … maybe I’ll even be signing my very own book at that one. Eek!

So mark your calendars now! I promise—you won’t regret it.

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Authors Lindsey Summers, Ali Novak, Sarah Benson and me … living it up at RT Booklovers Convention 2016!

Countdown to the RT Booklovers Convention

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So, I’m counting down the mere hours until I head to my very first writers’ conference. And while I should be feeling like this:

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I’m feeling more like this:

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Don’t get me wrong. I am super—and I mean super—excited to have the opportunity to attend. Seriously, this is a dream come true. There are going to be so many talented authors there, authors whose books I’ve obsessed, and in some cases, down-right drooled over.

And then there will be me.

Gulp.

I will be flying into Las Vegas and stepping foot inside my very first convention one year to the day that I found out my story Strawberry Wine would be published. One year to the day. Woah. Talk about a crazy coincidence. And when I think about how much my life has changed over the past twelve months, I’m left speechless.

I’ve been told I’ll have a blast, and I am quite certain I will … especially since I’ll be meeting some writing friends (who I have only corresponded with online) for the very first time face to face. That alone is surreal.

But what have I gotten myself into? I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t scared out of my mind.

I have no idea what to expect. None. But I do have my business cards. Can you believe it? Me … with business cards? I never would have guessed I would need business cards. I also have an itinerary: meet as many people as I can. I’m in the mindset to make connections. Networking equals knowledge, and I am prepared to soak it all in.

One thing I do know is that if it weren’t for Wattpad and Kensington Publishing I wouldn’t be facing this new experience at all. The amount of gratitude I feel toward them, my family for supporting me, my friends for their consistent encouragement and the lovely people who call themselves my “readers” takes my breath away.

So, to those of you I have mentioned … thank you. This is a gift not many people are given but for some crazy, wonderful reason I have received.

I promise to make the most of it.