Wattpad Wednesday featuring author Farah Oomerbhoy

This week’s Wattpad Wednesday post (although technically it’s almost Thursday—sorry!) is the very talented Farah Oomberbhoy! Farah’s journey on Wattpad began in March of 2014, when she first began uploading her Watty Award-winning Young Adult Fantasy, The Last of the Firedrakes. I had the pleasure of reading Farah’s story as she posted it in real time and I was completely captivated by her storytelling abilities! This lovely author went on to publish The Last of the Firedrakes in hardback, paperback and eBook formats. I’m proud to say I own a copy of my very own, which I hope to one day have Farah sign in person. Not only is she a future bestseller, but she is an amazing person I am honored to call a friend!

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About the Book:

The Last of the Firedrakes, book one of The Avalonia Chronicles.

A fantastic adventure story that will transport you to a dazzling world of myth and magic.

16-year-old Aurora Darlington is an orphan. Mistreated by her adopted family and bullied at school, she dreams of running away and being free. But when she is kidnapped and dragged through a portal into a magical world, suddenly her old life doesn’t seem so bad.

Avalonia is a dangerous land ruled by powerful mages and a cruel, selfish queen who will do anything to control all seven kingdoms—including killing anyone who stands in her way.  Thrust headlong into this new, magical world, Aurora’s arrival sets plans in motion that threaten to destroy all she holds dear.

With the help of a young fae, a magical pegasus, and a handsome mage, Aurora journeys across Avalonia to learn the truth about her past and unleash the power within herself. Kingdoms collide as a complicated web of political intrigue and ancient magic lead Aurora to unravel a shocking secret that will change her life forever.

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A map to Avalonia

Please enjoy an excerpt of The Last of the Firedrakes by Farah Oomerbhoy:

Chapter 7

The Midnight Market

     Later that night, after I had eaten well and rested, we set out for the midnight market. I followed Kalen along the small path, from Pixie Bush into the very heart of Goldleaf Forest.

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     It seemed to me that we had been walking for quite a while when I could suddenly hear voices and noises quite clearly in the quiet forest. We came to a large clearing, and the delightful sight left me spellbound. The forest was alive, radiant and subtly lit by pretty, different-colored lanterns hanging from the towering trees. Beautifully decorated stalls and multicolored tents had sprung up all over the place. Some were nestled between the tall trees, and some were haphazardly placed around the edge of the clearing, forming a slightly wonky circle. Fae of all sizes, shapes and colors wandered around, having a marvelous time. There were dryads, naiads, brownies, and little pixies with wings who flitted about the place in groups, laughing and eating at the food stalls.

     We came to a stall, which was manned by a small, funny-looking fae with a pointy nose and long ears. Kalen identified him as a gnome. He was selling some strangely colored liquid in glass bottles and was haggling unashamedly about prices with two old ladies, whom I thought were very sweet.

     As we walked through the market, Kalen chattered on.

     “Although some of the larger towns have shops that sell magical ingredients for potions,” Kalen was saying, “this is the only place you can find some of the really rare items.”

     I followed Kalen, who was entering a green tent, where the sign outside read: “Buy a plant for your home and garden.” That sounded quite interesting. Maybe I could buy a plant for Kalen’s mom—she had really helped me, after all—but I remembered I didn’t have any money.

     The tent was not what I expected at all. The inside was bewitched to look like a large green house; like the forest, it was much larger inside than it appeared from the outside. The moonlight shone through the glass ceiling, and rows of plants and flowers lined the sides of the tent. We decided to explore.

     I walked through the rows of plants, looking at the labels that were written next to them. There were strawberry plants in a small tray, growing wonderful, juicy strawberries, each one of which had a dollop of cream on the top. The sign near it said: “Grow your own strawberries and cream.”

     “Try one,” said Kalen. “No one is watching.”

     I couldn’t resist; I loved strawberries and cream. I popped the whole strawberry into my mouth. It was delicious and the cream was thick, fresh, and sweet. It was wonderful.

     “Lovely, yes?” said Kalen.

     “I nodded, since my mouth was full.

     “Ms. Herbchild is wonderful at growing things. These strawberry plants with cream are one of her new inventions, but you can only grow them on trays inside the house, or the gnomes lick off all the cream.”

     I made a face at the thought of eating a strawberry that had been licked by a gnome.”

About the Author:

Farah Oomerbhoy is a young adult writer with a master’s degree in English literature from the University of Mumbai. Farah loves the fantastical and magical and often dreams of living in Narnia, Neverland, or the Enchanted Forest. Her debut novel, The Last of the Firedrakes, Book 1 of The Avalonia Chronicles started on Wattpad where it received a Watty Award in 2015 and over 1.5 million reads. Since publication, The Last of the Firedrakes has gone on to become a finalist in the USA Best Book Awards and an international bestseller. Farah lives with her family in Mumbai, India where she can be found checking for magical portals in every closet.

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Connect with Farah:

Website  Twitter  Facebook  Google+  Instagram  Pinterest  Goodreads  Wattpad

Purchase:

Amazon  B&N  Apple  Kobo  Smashwords  txtr  Itasca Books  Book Depository  IndieBound

Awards:

Finalist in the Teen: Fiction (13-18 Years) category of the 2016 Benjamin Franklin Awards

Finalist in the Best Cover Design: Fiction category of the 2015 USA Best Book Awards

Winner in the Collector’s Dream category of the Wattpad’s 2015 The Wattys Awards

Awesome Indies Approved

What People Are Saying:

“…the narrative components echo the classics; the Academy of Magic at Evolon could be Hogwarts, while the Shadow Guards are reminiscent of Tolkien’s Ring Wraiths or Rowling’s Dementors…a beautifully drawn fantasy world.” Kirkus Reviews

“THE LAST OF THE FIREDRAKES is a magic-filled romp that carries you back to the fantasy stories of childhood…Lovers of classic fantasy will likewise gobble down Oomerbhoy’s scrumptious story.” – Dr Vic James, author of the Gilded Cage trilogy

The world building is beautiful…That really made the book more complex for me…it is the journey of discovery for Aurora and the reader that makes this an interesting story.”  Readers’ Favorite

The Last of the Firedrakes has all the elements of popular fantasy – an orphaned princess, Magical powers, an alternate sphere with seven kingdoms, a young girl with a destiny to fulfil. They are all elements of the Narnia Chronicles, The Faraway tree, The Harry Potter series, Lord of the Rings and a bit of Enid Blyton fun.” – Mid-Day newspaper

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!