Wattpad Wednesday Featuring Author Nikki D. Allen

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Hello and welcome to Wattpad Wednesday! Today’s featured story is called Words a Mother Never Heard by author Nikki D. Allen. This author is relatively new to the writing platform and already her story has made waves within the community. Having read it myself, I can say it is quite possibly the most touching piece I’ve encountered on Wattpad to date. It’s a cross between a memoir and poetry, with alternating viewpoints between a mother and her deceased daughter. Words a Mother Never Heard switches back and forth between the author’s memories of her daughter and the poetry she found in her daughter’s room after her unexpected death. It is currently being featured in the poetry genre and has over 228,000 views. When I first asked the author’s permission to feature her story, I didn’t realize that today is the day her daughter passed away twelve years before. Out of deep respect for her, this post is dedicated to the author and her daughter. Thank you for sharing your story with us.

Words a Mother Never Heard story blurb:

A young woman who was always the life of the party, quick to tell a joke, always smiling and happy, tragically dies at the age of twenty-three. What her mother found after her death reflected a very different woman than who she’d come to know and love…her poetry. Her words showed a young woman crying out to feel loved, wanted, beautiful and worthy. Struggling to accept herself as the wonderful, happy, beautiful woman everyone else saw her as. Her words reflected the pain and torment she allowed another to cause her. 

It is her mother’s most heart felt desire to reach even one young person struggling to accept themselves. To encourage them to open up and talk to someone, to know they are never alone, to know their feelings are validated. She also hopes to reach a mother that perhaps feels her daughter is perfect and completely in charge of her life, as mothers often do. After reading her poetry, hopefully it will facilitate conversation, confirm unconditional love and help to end words that a mother never hears.

I am her mother and these are her words…

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Welcome to Camp NaNoWriMo!

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April is right around the corner and you know what that means: it’s Camp NaNoWriMo time!

What is Camp NaNoWriMo?

Well if you’re familiar with NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), where you commit to writing 50,000 words during the month of November, you’ll find that Camp NaNoWriMo is somewhat similar, only a little more laid back. At camp, YOU get to set your own writing goal! Whether you want to write a novel, edit a first draft, tackle a script or maybe some short stories, Camp NaNoWriMo will be there to encourage and support you along the way.

How does it work?

During the month of April (and then again in July), you will challenge yourself to write every single day. That’s the first step to establishing a habit that will last throughout the entire year (and with any luck result in a completed manuscript).

Camp NaNoWriMo offers several online writing groups, which they cleverly call cabins (to give you that whole camping vibe). You’ll meet other “campers” by being sorted into a cabin based on your age, genre, or writing goals.

Already have a group of writers you’d like to bunk with?  You can create a private cabin for you and your friends to share! How cool is that?

According to the Camp NaNoWriMo website:

To join a public cabin, you must first make sure you’ve:

  1. Created a writing project for the current session of Camp
  2. Filled out your profile.
  3. Set your preferences on the Cabin Settings page:

If you want to be sorted into a cabin randomly, select the “Surprise me with random cabin mates!” option and click “Submit.”

If you’d prefer being in a cabin with writers that share similar interests, select “I’m looking for campers that match specific criteria.” Then, you’ll be able request cabin mates within your age group, writing in your genre, and/or with similar word-count goals in mind. Once you’ve selected all the preferences you’d like, click “Submit.”

Cabin assignments will begin shortly before the start of the event and will continue throughout the month on a rolling basis.

Joining a private cabin is a little different:

  1. If you’re acting as the cabin administrator, go to the Cabin Settings page and select “I want to create a private cabin.”
  2. Once in your cabin, you can invite your friends by typing their usernames into the invitation field. You can invite up to 11 Campers. A Camper must have created a profile, a novel, and deselected “I don’t want cabin invitations this session” to be eligible.
  3.  First, make sure you have defined a project for the upcoming event.
  4. On your Cabin Settings page, make sure you have: 
    • Selected “I don’t want to be included in a cabin” so you are not sorted into a random cabin. 
    • Deselected the “I don’t want cabin invitations this session” option.
  • When you’re invited to a private cabin, the invitation will pop up the next time you log in to the website or refresh the Camp NaNoWriMo page. “Join Now” will take you to your new cabin home and “No Thanks” will delete the invitation.

You’ll find all sorts of inspiration and conversation on the Camp NaNoWriMo website and there’s even a camp store where they sell a variety of merchandise, from t-shirts and hoodies to pencils and books.

Not enough? Visit Camp NaNoWriMo on Facebook and Twitter and start networking!

One of the great things about the NaNoWriMo community is that you’re never alone. Whether you’ve been writing for years or just getting started, you’ll have the opportunity to meet other authors and forge friendships with people who share the same interests as you.

So, what are you waiting for? Pack your bags, grab your bug spray and head on over to camp!

Self-Editing for Dummies

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Self-Editing for Dummies:

Hey now, don’t be offended! I’m a dummy, too. But I’m continuously striving to improve.

Some lucky people are born storytellers. They have a good sense for story structure and the ability to create seemingly flawless sentences. They make it look as if they came out of the womb with a pencil and notebook in their tiny little fists weaving tales together like nobody’s business!

But what about the rest of us?

What I’ve found most beneficial is to writewrite, write. Write every day if you can. Write and then edit. Take those precious words you slaved over and look ’em right in the eye.

This can be very difficult. No, it can be downright painful. But there are some tips and tricks I’ve learned along the way that actually help take the edge off.

That being said, not all of my work is edited.

Wait, what? True story. But there’s a reason for that. I mean, I always try to make certain there are no spelling or grammar errors…and no matter how many times I go over a piece I still tend to miss a few. But the reason I do not dive right into a hardcore edit is because after I write something I need to step back for a moment. I need to take a break from that story, those characters, that plot so I can go back and look at it with fresh eyes. It’s amazing the mistakes and weaknesses that pop out after you take a mini vaca from the manuscript you spent X-amount of time working on.

First of all, let me be the first to congratulate you! Do you know how many people dream of completing a manuscript? I read somewhere it is more than eighty percent of the population. Eighty percent! Wrap your brain around that for a moment. And you did it. YOU. DID. IT. Go on; get that extra scoop of ice cream—you deserve it!

Okay, now it’s time to edit. Here is my disclaimer: I am in no way perfect or anywhere close to. I’m just as flawed as the next guy…if not more so. But I have discovered a handful of gems on my quest to improve and I would like to share them with you.

1.)  Like I said before, take a break. After you’ve completed a project, put some distance between yourself and the words you wrote. When you come back from your vacation, be it a day, week, month (you get the picture) you’ll be more likely to spot the mistakes.

2.)  Read your story out loud. Go ahead; no one is listening (unless you’re reading it at Starbucks). It will be much easier to catch the awkward words and phrases when you hear them out loud with your own ears. You can do this yourself, enlist the help of a friend, or use an app that will read your manuscript back to you. Yes, apparently there is such a thing!

3.)  Pay attention to dialogue. Does it sound natural? Would you speak the way your characters are speaking? If it sounds choppy, repetitive or just plain weird chances are it’s not right.

4.)  Watch out for adverbs and adjectives. It can mean the difference between telling the reader a story and showing them. And you want to show them. It’s not as easy as it sounds; I struggle with it myself. But it’s getting easier to pick up on the more I write.

Here’s an example of telling: Jake’s fingers moved slowly down Addy’s back.

Here’s an example of showing: Addy’s heart raced as Jake’s fingers slid down her back.

See the difference? Which sentence do you prefer?

5.)  Almost always use the word “said” as a tag after dialogue. Stay away from words like laughed, spit, giggled, etc.

Example: “I don’t know what you mean,” she laughed.

Your character can’t really laugh something. Nor can they spit or giggle, etc.

Try this instead: “I don’t know what you mean,” she said, batting her eyes at him.

The “said” becomes silent, that is, the reader doesn’t even notice it. Occasionally it is acceptable to throw in something else like “asked” or “answered”, but use those sparingly.

6.)  Did you know there are lists upon lists of words to avoid when writing? Seriously, it’s true! And I’ll be first to admit I am guilty of most of them (I’m sure I’ve even used some in this post). I’m only going to touch on a handful of them, the ones I find to be the most overused.

My biggest pet peeve is the word that. Sure, sometimes it’s necessary, but most of the time it’s not. If you pay close attention you’ll find you can exclude it without any loss of meaning.

Other filler words include just, really and very. If you eliminate these words often times the sentence becomes stronger.

Try to avoid using words ending in “ly”. These are adverbs which are typically a big no-no (this is the telling not showing I mentioned in #4). It’s the lazy way to write.

Stop using the word got—it’s ugly. Just don’t do it. Please.

And was…don’t even get me started on was. Was is a passive voice, which you want to stay away from. Rewrite the sentence to make it active. Brittanie Charmintine, an insanely talented author friend of mine, once said, “Good writing is all about the verbs. If you feel the urge to use the word was try to come up with another way to write the sentence to get the same thought across.” Please note there are times when it’s okay to use a passive voice. I’ll save that for a different post.

There are many more words which could easily be cut with various reasons as to why, but I’ll let you do the research.

7.)  For goodness sake, do not be afraid to hit Spell Check. It’s there for a reason and I promise—it is your friend. Make sure you use it.

Sounds like a lot of work, right? Yes, it is. But it’s all part of the craft. After the blood, sweat and tears you’ve already put it, you owe this to yourself and your manuscript. Happy writing!