There’s still time to enter the Hopelessly Imperfect giveaway! Keep reading to find out how!
This week I’m excited to introduce a Watty Award-winning author who has found a massive following on Wattpad, an online writing and reading community. She’s an extremely talented writer and is also one of the nicest people I’ve had the privilege to meet! Her first story The Cell Phone Swap took the writing platform by storm and is all set to be published next year under the new title Textrovert!
Lindsey Summers, otherwise known as DoNotMicrowave on Wattpad, currently has more than 187,000 followers and The Cell Phone Swap has nearly 77 million reads! Her current work in progress is a romance called Bottled Promises and is already well on its way to be her next big hit.
Bottled Promises story blurb:
His future is shackled by the past.
Her past is driving her future.
Growing up, Cameron Scott longed to break free from her controlling childhood. Now a freshman at Alden University, she’s finally able to live life on her terms…or so she thinks. Forced to take the only room left on campus, one in the substance free program, Cameron signs a contract promising not to drink, party or do anything illegal.
The only positive is Alaric St. James, a boy whose disdain for the program rivals her own. But unlike Cameron, Alaric isn’t there by chance. A judge has ruled Alaric must participate and stay out of trouble. As the two develop feelings, they grow conflicted. Both have made promises, but as Cameron soon discovers, sometimes you break promises, and sometimes they break you.
About the author:
Lindsey Summers (@DoNotMicrowave) joined Wattpad in 2012. Her story, The Cell Phone Swap, is one of most-read stories on Wattpad. Inspired by a chance encounter, Lindsey’s story has gone viral. Through Wattpad, she has also written commissioned stories for major brands like Mondelez and 20th Century Fox.
Lindsey credits the positivity and support of her fan base as her motivation. Her fans insistence on updates for her serialized story kept her on track and fueled her creative streak.
When not on Wattpad, Lindsey can usually be found on the beach, reading on the sand, and always in open-toed shoes.
You can connect with Lindsey on:
Instead of my typical weekly Wattpad post, I’m doing something a little different today. This is more of a self-interview by author Christopher L. Buono, or @ChrisBuono as I have come to know him on Wattpad. Chris is a fantastic storyteller with a very interesting background that you can read all about on his Wattpad profile page. Not only is he extremely talented, but he is supportive of everyone in our writing community. It’s such a treat when you discover a writer who’s not afraid to try different genres (he has both Romance and Horror posted at the moment), but one who doesn’t shy away from offering advice and is there to cheer on his fellow authors whenever they need him. So, without further ado, let’s get started!
A Novel Approach: Christopher L. Buono, a Self-Interview
Chris Buono had never heard of Wattpad.com until he entered Harlequin’s “So You Think You Can Write” competition in 2015 ( #SYTYCW15 ).
“I’m forever grateful to Harlequin for, indirectly, having turned me onto Wattpad,” Chris says. “I believe that the teaming of Harlequin and Wattpad was/is a wonderful pairing of the two writing ‘platforms.’ Joining Wattpad has opened doors for me and my writing—and it continues to do so.”
Chris had not been new to writing in 2015. He (Christopher L. Buono) had been both the Effective Screenwriting columnist for, and a contributing editor to, the now defunct quarterly periodical WRITERS’ Journal magazine. In 2000, he had brought to fruition WJ’s first writer’s anthology: The Writers’ Journal Guide to the Writing Life.
Christopher had also been the publisher and editor-in-chief of his own writing magazine: Writer’s Guidelines & News. Although WG&N had been a short-lived publication for him, he had worked with the late, great actress Ruth Warrick. She had been one of his columnists.
“The first time that I had met Ruth,” Christopher says, “had been at a New York City theatre reading of a lost work of Orson Welles’s—The Big Brass Ring. “I had written a full-length stage farce, and thought that Ruth could play the mother’s part well. Long story short, Ruth didn’t see herself in the role. Still, she’d given me her personal information that day. I had the pleasure of meeting with her several times in her NYC home, to discuss writing, and her column in the magazine. She was a very nice woman.”
Having stepped away from the writing magazine life, Chris is now concentrating on romance and horror writing.
“I find that it’s a good balance/mix for me,” he says. “Romance is universal and I feel that my ideas/storylines fit in well with that genre. Then, when things become ‘too sweet,’ so to speak, with romance writing, I can get a full dose of the darker side of things, by submerging myself in writing some horror.”
And Chris has been doing just that and more, at Wattpad.com. His romance novel Her Boss’s Surprise—a boss/employee crush romance—now has 65K reads and rising (check out his book trailer HERE). His #JustWriteIt novel @Wattpad The Midnight Visit—a veterinarian doctor romance—is at 11K reads, and that number continues to climb.
Still, Chris divides his time by writing short tales, too. His two anthology sweet romance stories (A Paper-Tree Christmas—in the November/December 2015 Mistletoe and Mischief Wattpad anthology (story trailer HERE) and Blue Sneakers, Red Heart—his Valentine’s Day sweet, in the February 2016 Hearts on Sleeves romance anthology (book trailer HERE) both now have 11K reads, and that number continues to go up.
His other material—aside from in anthologies that can be found on his Wattpad.com page—include his “five-minute romance” short stories: Sightseeing Love—a second-chance romance—and, In a Puff of Smoke—a magic-filled tale of love.
“I’ve always enjoyed the short-story format and what it affords its author, as well as its reader,” Chris informs. “If done correctly, a short story can present an author with a solid base for a fuller tale; it can also win the heart of a reader in an instant, whereas, with a novel read, it may take longer to gain a fan.”
But Chris hasn’t stopped with romance shorts. He’s also now trying his hand to write with the ever-popular Youtuber Grace Helbig—via her #FreakWeek #novella writing competition @Wattpad . As of this writing, Chris has entered four of his original chapters to that contest: Chapter Two (without title); Chapter Three: Dylan the Villain; Chapter Four: Grabbing for Gravity and Chapter Five: Here Come the Clones.
“I’m having a blast trying to capitalize on what a previous author of a winning Freak Week chapter had published in Grace’s virtual book,” says Chris. “I think it’s fab that Grace has teamed with @ATTHelloLab for this interesting/intriguing story competition. I’m glad that I can take part in it, and I wouldn’t be able to do so, if I were not a Wattpad member.”
While Chris’s romance and “freaky” work continues to entertain Wattpad readers, he’s also found time to pen some nonfiction material.
“During Harlequin’s SYTYCW15 competition,” Chris reveals, “The Pink Heart Society editor, Ali Williams, had asked me—via Twitter—if I’d be interested in writing a guest post for her blog, regarding my SYTYCW15 experience. That was something I had accepted to do without batting an eyelash, and my article posted on October 19, 2015. I have always been one for trying/wanting to help aspiring writers. Ali’s offer was going to enable me to do just that. For me, a bonus had been that I’d also be able to spread the word, with my article, about Harlequin’s SYTYCW competition. SYTYCW is a contest in which I wholeheartedly believe. It is a wonderful opportunity for aspiring romance writers.
“I’d also done a nonfiction piece—Ten Questions Aspiring Authors Frequently Ask Him—that I had included with my #WattpadBlockParty —Winter Edition II, February 2016 post.”
In addition, Chris had also done an author takeover (January 2016) for Limitless Publishing romance author Trinity Hanrahan, during her and Michelle Jo Quinn’s Harley Pivotal Moments release party.
“Trinity had contacted me on Twitter regarding that takeover and, the rest is history. Recently, Trinity had also asked me to do a guest post for her blog. Now another nonfiction work of mine—Five Tips on How to Avoid Writer’s Block (April 7, 2016)—appears in the virtual world, via Trinity’s platform.”
But wait, there’s more.
On April 17, 2016, Chris had his #AskBailee question answered via video reply on Twitter by @BaileeMadison , star of the hit magical show #GoodWitch on @hallmarkchannel : https://twitter.com/hallmarkchannel/status/721818799029129216
Chris also had his writing question answered by the mega-talented author @NicholasSparks , via an @Wattpad #AskNicholasSparks Twitter video response on January 22, 2016: https://twitter.com/CBuonoWritesU/status/690674869529382913
USA Today bestselling author Kelli Anne Blount had also answered Chris’s “writing collaboration” question, live, on The Corner Booth ( #tcbwatt ) episode 30 “Orange and Black and Read all Over” (October 25, 2015). Check out Kelli’s response to Chris’s question at the 35:52 video play point HERE.
Popular and featured Wattpad author Rosa Aimeé had also answered Chris’s “how can you best amp up horror” question, live, on that same The Corner Booth ( #tcbwatt ) broadcast (episode 30 “Orange and Black and Read All Over,” October 25, 2015). Check out Rosa’s response to Chris’s question at the 47:50 video play point HERE.
Speaking of horror, Christopher’s fear-filled material is also on his Wattpad.com page.
“I had great fun recently writing a #100WORDSCREAM horror one-shot tale for Wattpad’s paranormal community,” Christopher says. “It’s called, Things Are Never as They Seem. It’s, what I think, a chilling scene, where playing ball outside of an abandoned house, is my child character’s first mistake.
“To sweeten the horror pot, where my novel, The Lake is concerned, I recently penned an Imagine one-shot story. It’s titled Stephen King and the Birth of The Lake. I had a blast writing it, and great fun incorporating Wattpad’s new multimedia function within the text of that tale. The basic plot is: I’m suffering from writer’s block, as I write The Lake, when I meet, or, rather, come across, the master of horror—Stephen King—in a most unusual way.”
As we have learned, Christopher doesn’t only pen “short” tales of scary. His current horror WIP, The Lake, is a full-length, dark, disturbing, mature novel of evil that you can read at Wattpad.com.
The Lake story blurb:
The Lake just wanted life. When Amanda Colberg gave it a taste of love, it needed more.
Struggling to stop a painful death into nonexistence, The Lake holds out hope for Amanda to save it once again. But the sexually-abused eighteen-year-old girl is running for her life—from Hal, the town bully, and her stalking, drunkard father.
Having comforted each other in every crisis—in the twisted, backward town of Baskanville—Amanda and The Lake are the horror-romance of the century. But when Amanda does something inconceivable to The Lake, will all Baskanvillians pay the price…and, to Amanda’s demonic delight?
You can watch The Lake book trailer HERE.
You can find Chris on:
You can also read Chris’s nonfiction work here:
SYTYCW guest-blog post (click “older posts,” after clicking link/scrolling down)
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:
I’m feeling more like this:
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.
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.
ShyGabs, or Gabriela Cabezut as she’s known in the publishing world, joined Wattpad as a brand new writer back in 2011 and has since produced several stories. Her romance, Prince with Benefits, topped the Hot List at number 1 on numerous occasions and has racked up over 47 million reads! Because of that story, Gaby was contacted by several different publishers via Wattpad and she eventually signed with Summit Books, one of the largest publishing houses in the Philippines. Her second novel, Hopelessly Imperfect, will be released in May with Limitless Publishing then followed up with two additional novels to complete the series. Gaby’s most recent achievement came when she was invited to join the Wattpad Stars program. And here’s another fun fact about Gaby: English isn’t her primary language, but it’s the only language she writes in! Her current Wattpad work-in-process is called Take-out Chef. Click here to check out that story and more!
Take-out Chef Story Blurb:
Jessie is enrolled in a new experimental program to help young delinquents find a job. Only she isn’t really a delinquent. She goes along with the plan in order to meet her life-long crush Tom, a TV chef who inspires her to love cooking. But Tom’s not alone. Bryan, his partner in crime, is as arrogant as he is handsome and Jessie is intrigued by his mysterious character. He spices up her life in unexpected ways.
She embarks on a life-long journey where she discovers that sometimes, things aren’t always how they seem … they’re even better.
In my humble opinion, if there is one thing that matters most to your success as a YA writer, or any type of writer for that matter, it would be story structure. Story structure is what authors use to create stories that entertain readers.
Whether you realize it or not, no story goes from start to finish without structure. It is either something the writer purposely designs before writing their manuscript or something that just happens along the way.
I consider myself a novice writer, so I spend a great deal of time trying to learn more about the craft. Not too long ago a friend of mine, who happens to be an experienced published author, introduced me to something called The Seven Sentence Story.
But, Darly, how can I tell an engaging story in only seven sentences? Don’t worry…I asked the same question! And the more I researched the method the more it made sense.
The Seven Sentence Story is an exercise to help a writer design a framework for their story. There are four basic parts to every story: the setting, the problem, solving the problem and the conclusion. These four parts can be told in seven different sentences. I have found this method to be a golden nugget in the world of writing and I’m going to share it with you.
The Seven Sentence Story
- The first goal is to introduce the who, what, where and when. Introduce the main character and let the reader know what he/she wants and the first action he/she takes to accomplish their goal.
- Something has to happen to upset the balance of the character’s life, and the result of the action the character takes to fix the problem only makes the situation worse. Now the character should be farther away from meeting the goal.
- Based on this new situation, the character makes a second attempt to fix the problem.
- The result of the second action the character takes once again makes the situation worse.
- Based on the new situation, the character makes a third and final attempt to accomplish the goal.
- The third action either accomplishes the character’s goal, fails to accomplish the goal, or there is an unusual but oddly satisfying different result of the last action.
- The conclusion. This sentence wraps up the story. It can tell the reader how the character felt about the results, provide a moral, or tell how the character’s life continued on afterward.
If you do your own research into The Seven Sentence Story you’ll most likely find different variations. Make sure to use the one that makes the most sense to you, and as you write your story continue to ask yourself these questions:
- Did you force your protagonist out of his/her comfort zone?
- Has each obstacle pushed the plot of your story and its characters forward?
- Are the consequences of failure critical enough at each stage of the plot?
- Does each scene in each chapter contribute to the chapter’s overall goal, and does every chapter contribute to the character’s achievement of his/her story goal?
- If you take your protagonist as he/she is in the final scene and drop him/her back into the first scene of the story, has he/she matured enough to handle the initial conflict so well this time around that your novel wouldn’t even be necessary?
I am by no means an expert, all of the information I have shared with you can be found online, but I have discovered that many new writers do not utilize the many resources available to them. If you have a question about writing or want to learn different methods for accomplishing what you hope to, never be afraid to look it up. Your story—and your readers—will thank you!
The summer edition of the Wattpad Block Party is starting to wind down—have you mingled with your favorite authors yet?
I was invited to participate in this epic event created by USA TODAY Best Selling Author Kelly Anne Blount. My post was featured earlier this month, but it’s not too late to check it out! Just click here to read my Strawberry Wine Bonus Chapter! Plus I’m giving away a strawberry charm necklace to one lucky reader in honor of my debut novel Strawberry Wine! Click the link to enter (it’s totally free) Free Giveaway! Deadline to participate is July 31, 2015, winners will be selected shortly thereafter. Enter now before it’s too late!
As a new writer, I feel like I’m a stranger in a foreign land. I don’t have a clue where I’m going, nor do I have any idea how to get there. I’m making wrong turns left and right, and am completely unnerved traveling these roads unknown.
Before I started writing; I was a confident, self-assured woman. Now, I feel lost, as if I’m (cringe) back in high school. And my high school experience was a little more traumatic than most. I grew up in private school, where the only thing that changed year after year was the room number. I had the same twenty-five kids in my class from kindergarten through eighth grade and knew all the teachers by their first names. We didn’t change classes, like most schools do today. We didn’t have a cafeteria to eat lunch in. We were nestled in between the same four walls the entire year, staring at the same faces, listening to the same voices, smelling the same smells—eww. The kids in my class were unusually comfortable with one another—maybe a little too comfortable. Admittedly, we shared a strange bond. When you can refrain from shaving your legs for an unspeakable amount of time and no one bats an eyelash, you know you’ve reached the “too comfortable” zone.
Then came high school. Public high school, no less. Where the teachers hung paddles on their walls to intimidate you, and the upperclassman ate freshman for breakfast. If you felt fearless going in, you quickly retreated with your tail between your legs. No longer were you king of the hill. You were a very tiny fish in a very big pond, and there were piranhas lurking around every corner. Scared. Alone. Longing for someone, anyone, to smile at you…even if it was the creepy kid you sat next to in math. You learned to navigate the chaotic teenage maze by making mistakes, trial and error, and some days it felt as if you were making more mistakes than anything else.
That’s pretty much how I feel right now. I am beyond excited to have this opportunity to publish my romance novel, but I can’t help but feel way out of my league. It seems like everyone around me knows what they’re doing. They know exactly how to revise their story, where to network to learn the most valuable information, and they work the several social media platforms like a pro. And then there’s me.
So, what mistakes have I made so far? Probably the same as every new author (at least, that’s what I keep telling myself).
Mistake #1: So, you’ve written your first draft. The hard work is over!
Ha. Hahaha. Hahahahaha! Please child, the hard work is only just beginning. That manuscript you think is pretty darn good for a newbie is about to be ripped to shreds. Everyone has an idea about how you should revise, from your best friend, to your Aunt Betty, to your editor. Listen to your editor, they know what they’re talking about. But don’t be afraid to have an opinion. It is, after all, your baby. You gave that story life, and you can certainly speak your mind (politely) and the editor will listen. With any luck, you’ll both be on the same page.
Mistake #2: Setting up an author’s website.
Now, don’t go into debt creating a website. There are tons of “free” places where you can connect with readers. And while you may end up investing a little bit of moola to get it started, it should be relatively inexpensive. I recommend you find someone to help you who has either dabbled in websites before, or maybe even hire a local company to do it for you. From what I’ve been told, that route is not terribly expensive. Now, this is from my own personal experience – do not, I repeat, DO NOT do it all on your own UNLESS you have plenty of time, patience and technical know-how to sit and mess with it until you’ve gotten it just right. You will make mistakes – LOTS of mistakes. A lot of blood, sweat and tears went into creating my website (not that it shows), and it still isn’t quite finished. That’s what happens when you have no clue what you’re doing. A big, fat “thank you” goes out to my supportive hubby for stepping in to help out when I was on the brink of insanity.
Mistake #3: Promotion! Promotion! Promotion!
I had no promo strategy in place. And that’s because I did not actually believe I would win the writing contest. But I did win, and now my manuscript, Strawberry Wine, is going to be published. I seriously need a Promotion 101 class to learn about all the little things I should be doing, but I’m not sure there is such a thing. Instead, I’m learning as I go. I’ve discovered I need to take advantage of every single digital platform available. Marketing your book starts way before your book is published (who knew?), and the publishing house WILL expect you to do your part. Make certain you know what that is. Yes, networking is time consuming, and yes it takes away from the time that could be spent writing, but it’s necessary. Not only necessary, but vital.
Mistake #4: Going solo.
You don’t have to do this all on your own. In fact, you really can’t. When you have to juggle the many facets of life, i.e. family, the day job, chores, homework, sporting activities/events, etc. etc., it gets to be pretty crazy. There’s going to come a point where you either do not know what to do or how to go about something, and you’re going to need to ask for help. Help can come in the form of a friend who knows a helluva lot more than you, reaching out to total strangers to ask for advice, or hiring someone to get certain jobs done for you. I’ve already had to step out of my comfort zone more than once to get the answers I need. Be prepared to call in the troops.
While my list of mistakes continues to grow and my confidence is somewhat shaky, I remain optimistic. I have been gifted an opportunity that so many writers only dream of. And I will persevere. Through the new and strange, through the scary and overwhelming. I will meet my goal.