Flying high on Wattpad

wattpad-reviewWattpad, the social media site for readers and writers, began featuring Beneath the Surface on Wednesday, 7 January and a week later Beneath the Surface reached eighth position in Wattpad’s top 1,000 of their Fantasy chart — and I’ve received over 600 votes and many comments.

It was extraordinary to watch. Every time I refreshed my browser more votes magically appeared. I found it amazing to think that while I sat at my computer screen, about the world people were sitting before their screens, reading my writing. And many voting and commenting.

So — forgive me! — I want to share two of these with you. I’ll be quick, I promise. 🙂

There are so many wonderful comments I could tell you about, but I’m singling out these two, both received yesterday, as I like how they respond toBeneath the Surface the story more broadly, not just at the chapter level. I received the first in the morning, the second at the end of the day. So I was on a high all day!

The first, from a London reader, has commented after reading Pt.1, which takes the reader through to the beginning of the adventure. Here it is, I’ve cut-and-pasted it in…

Wattpad feedback 1 (1)

You can find it at the bottom of chapter 7 here.

What more could you possibly hope for in a reader’s response? Hooked into the story. Loves the main character. Compares my writing style to a favourite book. Wow. Thank you! I don’t know Jenny Downham’s book, but I’ll sure be seeking it out.

And here’s the second quote I would like to share with you. All I will say about it is, this is my very first response from anyone anywhere regarding my book as a whole, so, as I’m sure you’ll agree, it’s feedback of critical importance…

Wattpad feedback 2

You can find that one at the bottom of the very last chapter, Chapter 95.

The comments and votes are still coming in. And — human that I am! — I remain apprehensive as I click open each and every one of them.

Thank you all, for your votes and comments of endorsement for my little fantasy novel about an unwell boy who enters a world beneath his garden. And thank you for permitting me this moment of pride in telling you how things are travelling for Beneath the Surface. Which I will end now.

Except to say, Beneath the Surface will be available to read in its complete form on Wattpad for a limited period. The story starts here.

My final manuscript is complete. So what now?

Beneath the Surface

My 60,000 word novel manuscript — Beneath the Surface — is now fully posted to Wattpad. It’s about a young boy who enters a fantasy world under his garden. While writing the fantasy story, I partly drew on my experiences working as an HIV/AIDS social worker in the 80s and 90s.

Publishing the book chapter by chapter to the social media site Wattpad as I reworked it has been quite an experience. There wasn’t a moment when I didn’t brace myself before opening an email with a new comment from a reader. What if this one blasts the hell out of my story? Yet, all of the readers’ comments have been positive — many confirming they were enjoying the story, and some special ones offering thoughtful, constructive advice.

Wattpad offers writers something very special. The chance to hear directly from readers what they think about your book. And my book has changed in certain ways because of the feedback. Often these changes were descriptive details — things that were not as clear as they could be. The one that comes most to mind is the description of the moment when Christopher first enters the fantasy world of The Underplane. The use of ‘micro-chapters’ also received plenty of support. This approach led to many ‘upbeats’ in the story’s rhythm, as I like to finish a chapter on an upbeat (with a sense of actively moving forward). I enjoyed writing in this style and plan to try it again, no matter what my next story may be.

Other aspects of my story may change as I now progress to the next stage of manuscript development. The title, for instance, may change. It used to be Under the Garden, and for one brief moment it was Christopher from the Middle Bit (only I seemed to like that one!). Who knows what it might be called in the future. And new feedback may lead me to alter key moments in the story. We shall see!

But where to now for me with this book? That’s what I have to decide. The idea of seeking out potential interest in the more traditional way does entice me. I thoroughly enjoyed the formal editing process that my first, traditionally published novel underwent. I am also looking forward to engaging others in professional consultation about the story.

I will give myself a little break and begin to explore the options for Beneath the Surface soon. And I’ll most certainly let you know when I have any news.

I also need to decide just how long I should keep the complete manuscript of Beneath the Surface posted to Wattpad. I have no idea how traditional publishers will respond to that — yet visibility on the internet is crucial in this new world of ours.

If you’re interested in checking out my story while it’s complete on Wattpad — some holiday reading of a brand new novel before it’s even published! — here’s where it starts: Beneath the Surface on Wattpad.

‘Beneath the Surface’ is featured on Penned!

penned app_icon

I’m happy to report the workshopping of my Beneath the Surface draft manuscript is going brilliantly. I’m receiving excellent feedback from where I’m posting the draft chapters on Wattpad and Widbook. And now — trumpets! — I have been approached by the marvelous Penned saying they would like to feature Beneath the Surface on their book app. I was quick with a Yes, please! and so you will find my first four chapters there too. But what and where is Penned? Not heard of them before? Read on below to find out more…

So just what is this Penned thing?

Penned is a literary app — it’s a writing app and it’s a reading app. You use it from your smartphone. Simply type ‘penned’ in the search field in your app store and up it will pop (for free of course). Beneath the Surface is a novel for teens (and the young in us, that’s me) and this is the absolutely latest way to read. You may or may not like it — it’s very different — but it’s fun to check it out and make up your own mind. I’m liking it…

Penned and Beneath the Surface

From the start I have been writing Beneath the Surface expressly to be read from an e-reader. (Do you like that adverb expressly? Suits what I’m saying exactly.) I have not allowed myself to write a chapter that bubbles over a 1,000 words. If one does, I split it, and rewrite the two new chapters afresh. I’m calling them micro chapters and often a single scene will track over a number of these little blighters.

Beneath the SurfaceIn my head, I’ve been thinking of each chapter as a bang from your e-reader. Something with zip and punch, even in the slow setting-up-the-plot moments. Something that feels right to be read from a glowing screen while your other hand clutches onto a train handrail. Or an ice cream. What the hell, anything — life is like that these days. The modern world is a bullet train speeding, multitasking world: hold onto the rail, eat your ice cream, text ur buddy, listen to the debut Bleachers album and read from Penned). A smartphone book app feels absolutely right for the micro chapters of Beneath the Surface and the whizz of today’s  world.

And before anyone says, What about print books? (some might still be saying that? as if reading from a kindle means you object to print books), I’m talking about workshopping my book with the world. Not the finished ebook and traditionally published print book. What better way to workshop your draft novel than through a mobile device?

So if you do check out Beneath the Surface — be it through Penned, Wattpad or Widbook — as always, I’d love you to tap on ‘Comment’ and let me know your thoughts. Without readers, a book is not a book.

Here’s the Penned website about the App, where you can find out more. And here’s their Twitter page if you want to follow them.

I’m looking forward to hearing from you soon…

 

Workshopping with the World

Beneath the Surface

My new novel is called Beneath the Surface and it’s about a 14-year old boy who, not long after his mother’s death from a mysterious illness called Radar, enters a fantasy world under his garden. The boy’s name is Christopher Reuben and he suffers from the same illness that took his mother’s life.

I know this sounds a bit gloomy! But — as with all of my writing — I work hard to make sure there’s fun and action in there too. As I wrote the first draft, I imagined stories such as The Wizard of OzSpirited Away and The Lion, the Witch and the Wardobe. And I also mixed in some of my own experiences from working as a social worker with people with HIV/AIDS.

Beneath the Surface is still a draft manuscript (I’m hoping it will be ready for a professional editor’s structural edit come December — for those of you interested in the writing process), and I’m trying out something different this time around. Something that has me a little nervous, but also excited. I’m posting my manuscript chapter by chapter as I redraft them further in the hope I receive good honest feedback from others. I want to make this story the best I possibly can. I’m really hoping fellow readers and writers — you! — will tell me what you think. Nicely.

There are a number of social media sites available for writers these days, and I’ve decided to post Beneath the Surface on two: a well-established one (Wattpad), and a reasonably new one you may not have heard much about (Widbook). Both of these ‘writing e-communities’ allow me to post my manuscript in an ebook style (Widbook is particularly good on this score), and they allow for comments from others. They also have things like ‘votes’ and ‘numbers of reads’ etc, which are all fine but I’m more interested in hearing from interested others about my story as I write it. And of course, I’ll make sure to acknowledge all helpful advice givers when my story’s finally published (indie or trad).

You’ll see from the picture above that I have created a cover for the manuscript. Creating a cover is not something a writer would normally do at this stage, but as I’m pushing my little story out into the world, it needs more that than the usual plain, typed front page of most manuscripts. I hope my effort will suffice until the book is finally published and I pay for a professional cover design.

In the hope it will stir your interest, here are the opening sentences (at least, they are at the moment, feedback may suggest changing them)…

I was ready for my dad when he approached the daisy bush, big plastic spray bottle held up like a gun, like he was going to put something down. I stood before the bush, arms folded, doing my best not to trample on his precious damned flowers. 

‘Christopher?’ he said. ‘What are you doing?’ He spoke slowly, worn out. His voice matched his slumped shoulders and his tired eyes.

Now, don’t bother hanging around here anymore. What I’d really love is for you to check out my draft and tell me what you think. Thank you!

You can find it on Wattpad here.

And you can find it on Widbook here.

I have been busy on Wattpad

wattpad-review

I have been busy on something called Wattpad (not absolutely sure why it’s called that, but there you go). And at last I’m back and writing a post about it.

Wattpad is a Canadian-based online reading and writing community that has been around since 2006. And it’s a very busy place! Many are there as readers, but many others are also posting their own writing efforts — articles, stories, poems… And you are able to comment and like stories or join discussion groups.

 Just who is on Wattpad?

wattpad3

I have been dabbling on Wattpad for a few months now and it’s quite clear that most users — readers and writers alike — are women. Though I have come across men too, including a male video game designer. And many are teenagers. It’s terrific that so many young people are keen to explore their writing abilities. There are many good story ideas and I’ve spotted some pretty impressive writing.

Perhaps not surprisingly, there are plenty of stories written in the young adult romance genre, though sci-fi and fantasy seem very well represented too. I have also come across a fair bit of  fanfic, which I have to admit I am not so keen on. I am not that interested in reading imaginary stories about members of One Direction or about Justin Bieber. However, if someone on Wattpad grows into a great writer through writing about their favorite pop stars — that’s fine by me! (And besides, if the story’s good enough — they can always alter the characters a bit later.)

What have I been doing on Wattpad?

keep-calm-and-write-stories-on-wattpadMy main reason for being on Wattpad right now is to establish a presence with those who may be interested in my writing, i.e. young adult readers into sci-fi and fantasy. My hope is, if I establish some kind of presence on Wattpad, I can upload the draft of my next book there first. If I’m lucky, I may attract some interest in the story and receive some useful feedback prior to publication. Hence, maybe I can use Wattpad as a giant feedback workshop.

To gain some visibility before I introduce my next book, I have so far uploaded one short story, MotherCraft, which currently has just over a thousand reads, and I am in the process of uploading my first published novel, EleMental: A first-person Shooter. I am up to Chapter 20 in that book, so only 10 chapters to go. It currently has a little over 4,000 reads.

Just on this ‘read’ business, by the way, before you get too impressed. I doubt very much if over five thousand have assiduously read the short story and novel chapters I have uploaded to Wattpad. It’s all software-based counting remember. It has no idea what the ‘reader’ is really doing. But at least they’ve had a peek, eh? No matter how fleetingly. And some have gone on to read it, surely. (Tell me that’s true!)

When I have put all of EleMental on Wattpad, I will effectively be offering the ebook version of that first novel of mine for free through Wattpad. I will then make it free elsewhere also, and upload the first few chapters of MonuMental, my sequel to EleMental.

How to get to Wattpad

keep-calm-and-wattpad-on-3Here’s where you will find more info about Wattpad (complete with a Margaret Atwood endorsement): About Wattpad.

And here’s one of Wattpad’s many writers writing about how to use Wattpad (she gets 14 votes):  Wattpad instructions.

And here’s where you will find my Wattpad page: my exciting page on Wattpad.

Or you can go straight to a story:

  • MotherCraft – A father leaving home can be painful at anytime. Leaving the planet, doubly so.
  • EleMental – The future. It’s all about friendship, young love … and dangerous video games.

Keep on Wattpadding!

Steven O’Connor writes young adult fiction. His writing is influenced by Douglas Adams, CS Lewis, Tolkien and just about every sci-fi and fantasy film and TV show you could possibly think of. His ebooks EleMental: A First-person Shooter and MonuMental: The Hack’s Back are available through Amazon. (Just Google ‘Amazon’ and ‘Steven O’Connor’ to see). You may also like checking him out at one of his hangouts:

Website ¦ Wattpad ¦ Twitter ¦ Facebook 

My books now available in the brand new Libiro store!

My books in Libiro

I am very happy to announce that my ebooks are now available in the brand new ebook store Libiro as epub files (readable on all other ereaders beside Kindles, such as kobos etc).

mothercraft - final cover (300 dpi) (no ss)

MotherCraft is free on Libiro

And MotherCraft is at last a free ebook. I have always wanted this little ebook to be free, but it was not possible through Amazon. There I had to sell it for a minimum of 99c, with a number of days where I was allowed to make it free for promotional purposes.

About Libiro

The name Libiro is a combination of libero and library. Libero is an Italian word meaning ‘free’ as in ‘independent’. (It was also the codename for the World War II partisan leader Riccardo Fedel, but that’s another story.)

Libiro, then, is an ebook store devoted to selling nothing but indie books by indie authors. Their aim is to be the No.1 place to shop if you want to buy self-pubbed. Publishing yourself, they say, is not tied down to market trends or a publisher’s business plan. Indie authors can write what they want, when they want. The result? A different breed of writing.

‘Indie authors can sometimes have trouble standing out on huge stores like Amazon, and constantly work hard to make sure their books are discovered. Here at Libiro, we want to make sure that indies have the best chance of being found, read, and enjoyed.’

Here’s where you can find my books on the brand new Libiro:

If you have a moment to spare – feel free to leave a quick review. I have none so far. 🙁

You can check out Libiro’s homepage here.

And they’re on Twitter here: @LibiroAtLarge

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Like to find out more about my books? You can check out my Amazon pages here …

And now also as epub files in Libiro: EleMental ¦ MonuMental  ¦ MotherCraft (free)

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I’m featured in Books Direct!

ElementalCampaign update

Before I get to Books Direct, I want to give you a quick round up on my current promotion. No doubt you know I’m bang in the middle of a promotional campaign? Goodness knows I have gone on about it enough. I am happy to say it is going very well. Better than I would have imagined. As I write this, EleMental is No. 1 on Amazon in two book categories:  ‘TV, Movie, Video Game Adaptations’ and ‘Hard Science Fiction’. The book has held those positions for two days, and also reached No.1 in ‘Hard Science Fiction’ in Canada. Needless to say, I don’t think EleMental is hard science fiction, and it certainly is NOT an adaptation of any film or video game. And hey! What do I care! I’m just happy the book has reached No.1 in some categories. It has also reached No. 50 in Amazon UK’s ‘Children’s Fiction’ (a very big, and therefore hard, category to rate in) and No. 5 in ‘High Tech Science Fiction’.

The book also rated very respectably in Germany’s and France’s Amazons.  You might be thinking, Wow, he must be making some nice pocket money. Nope! These are all free downloads, don’t forget. And the goal here is about telling the world about EleMental. Visibility! And I’m very happy with the results.

Come tomorrow, I fully expect the book to have dropped away. But right now, it’s king in its own little world. So mission more than accomplished.

Not once on Books Direct! But twice!

Many bloggers and websites have been terrific in their support of my promotion. And none more so than the classy Books Direct website. I recommend checking the site out. They have not only jumped in right behind my current promotion, they have also interviewed me about my new book MonuMental, featured excerpts from both books and are hosting a giveaway of my early print edition EleMental (make sure you enter –  instructions in both Books Direct posts). 

The first post, introducing my promotion and featuring an excerpt is here.

In the second post, they have gone out of there way to find a reference to the very first book I ever read as a child. I was amazed to find a link to it. I thought that book, from 1968, only remained as a memory in my head — but no, there are second hand library copies available through Amazon. (Read the interview to find out which book!). This second post has a rather extensive interview with me and features the first chapter from MonuMental (though note, in the book a short intro precedes the chapter).

You can access the second post here.

Well, back to my promoting… Seeyalater.

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Like to find out more about my books? You can check out my Amazon pages here …

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EleMental new cover. Help me pick!

Help me pick EleMental‘s new cover

EleMental is scheduled to be free next week (from Friday 7 June) and as a part of my the promotion I have decided to come up with a new cover. I’dd love your thoughts. You can let me know either in the comments below or tweet me at @StevenWriting here.

And of course you already know MotherCraft is free right now? You can get it here:

Amazon

Amazon UK

Amazon Canada

Here are my choices …

No.1

 

Pic 1

No.2


Pic 2

No.3

Pic 3

 

No.4

Pic 4

No.5

Pic 5

 

I know which way I’m leaning, but let me know your thoughts!

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Like to find out more about my books? You can check out my Amazon pages here …

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Free sci-fi short story: 31 May

Mothercraft: A short story by Steven O'Connor

Free ebook

I plan to offer my humble sci-fi short story free from 31 May 2013 for five days. I would love this story to be free all of the time, but – alas! – Amazon disagrees. They will only allow me to make it free for five days every three months. So here it is once more within that allotted time, free for all downloads. (Well, come Friday, 31 May.)

More free stuff coming

This small offering is my little build to the main event. EleMental, my young adult sci-fi novel, will be free a short while later (from 7 June). And that will be the last time Elemental will be free. But more about that in a later post. For now, simply note 31 May in your diary and prepare for this little entrée before the main course. (MotherCraft, by the way, is based on a deleted scene from EleMental – a scene deleted by my previous editor, but which yours truly continues to like. And others too – thank you to those who have sent me feedback in the past.)

A quick word about the above cover

I have always loved the cover for this short story, which was put together by a graphic designer who based it on a picture by my son. The picture depicts a table at ‘The Lunching Pad Restaurant’. A fictitious restaurant at the (obviously) equally fictitious ‘Little River Spacedocks’. The cover features one of the better tables at the restaurant. That is, by a window with a view. And what a view! Rockets launching into space, to dock with their MotherCraft waiting in orbit about the Earth.

I included my son’s original picture inside the book.

If you don’t want to wait, the short story is available for 99c right now from Amazon here. And from Amazon UK here.

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Like to find out more about my books? You can check out my Amazon pages here …

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Your chance to get Tracy R Atkins’ ‘Aeternum Ray’ for free!

It’s always good to tell you about worthy promotions from fellow writers, and so I want to tell you about Tracy R Atkins’ debut novel. It’s a huge work. But one thing I must say right up front – apart from being futuristic, this is nothing like my writing. The emphasis here is on hard sci-fi.

That’s not to say it isn’t readable!  It certainly is. If you like your sci-fi hard, or if you like reading something with a difference, this is definitely worth checking out.

It’s written in the form of a futuristic memoir through the letters of someone who has gained immortality. And through this intriguing way of telling a story, Tracy R Atkins leaves no detail out. His examination of how mankind becomes immortal is thorough and his imagination is boggling. You truly can see how it’s possible, perhaps even probable, eventually.

I won’t tell you more, it’s a story best left to the reader to experience slowly, as it gradually reveals itself. In fact, for me, it’s a book for slowly discovering. I am enjoying dipping in and out of it while reading it in parallel with more traditional writing (like Hunger Games!).

If Plato had written sci-fi, this is what it would have looked like. My favorite Line: The medics had seen the same look on countless bodies over the years; the stare of eternity.

Aeternum Ray is free right now, You can get it here at Amazon, and here at Amazon UK.

And if you are reading this late – no problems! Tracy R Atkins has very kindly informed me he has four more free dates for the holiday season. So you can also find Aeternum Ray free (US times) on:

  • Dec. 24 – Christmas Eve
  • Dec. 26 – Boxing Day (why is it called Boxing Day? I prefer the more traditional St Stephen’s Day!)
  • Dec. 28
  • Dec. 30.

All that’s left for me to do is give you Tracy R Atkins’ website for those of you interested. You can find him here.