Text message storytelling - Tap by Wattpad

24 February 2017 / Leave a Comment
chat style story Tap Wattpad

Tap is a new app created by Wattpad featuring short chat-style stories. Yesterday, I was invited to join the early access of writing for Tap chat stories. I'm always curious about how technology is changing the way we write and read and this looked like a classic example of how new technologies can influence storytelling.


So I logged on last night with my 9-year-old daughter to check out these chat stories. I liked the interactive experience; one taps the screen and a message pops up, taps again, the next message pops up, it's message by message, as if you're actually receiving a text.


The first story we read was great. 'Get a shovel' was literally a message from the grave. In true mystery/horror style, the two of us were feeling tense and hooked by the story. It was short and punchy and an excellent example of how these stories could work.


The next two stories weren't so great; they were too long, meandering and tedious, and didn't work as text messages. Like why, if someone's fleeing from a threat would they stop and send long text messages?!!


But the last one we read in the comedy category was brilliant. In 'Text for a Good Time' someone finds a 'text me for a good time' message on the back of a toilet door and sends a 'wanna have a good time?' message. We see the exchange between these two people, the other saying they're always getting these messages they don't want and where can they take that note down. The twist at the end is unexpected and had us both giggling. 


So yeah, the chat stories are a style of their own and authors are going to have to think cleverly about how to use this platform as a story can sink or swim on it. It's microfiction at its best, readers have to be dropped right into the action of the story, there's no time for character development or setting up the plot. 


The fact that characters are texting becomes an important feature of the story and needs to be believable. Just like a writer needs to write good dialogue by listening carefully to the intricacies of speech, so does a chat story writer need to write authentic sounding text messages. And of course, we're going to see txt-speak creep into these stories like idk (I don't know), the dreaded lols, 2night, minimal punctuation and a splattering of emojis.


Wattpad will be curating the stories, with many on the home page already receiving hundreds of thousands of taps (see that - taps not reads!). In the coming weeks the writing functionality will be available to all users.


The app is available globally through the App Store and Google Play Store and people can purchase paid weekly, monthly or yearly subscriptions.


chat story text message Wattpad Tap


text message Tap Wattpad story


It will be interesting to see how this app takes off. Will it be a fad or does it have literary staying power? And will someone be able to come up with the iconic chat story to rival Hemingway's legendary 6-word story - For sale: baby shoes, never worn.


It's yet to be seen. But worth keeping an eye on.


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Why Radish fiction is the next big thing

14 February 2017 / Leave a Comment
authors radish fiction

In January this year I was invited to publish my stories on Radish Fiction after someone noticed my stories on Wattpad. Radish is a short-form serialized fiction platform where people make micropayments of roughly 4 cents to unlock each chapter.


I'd previously interviewed Takatsu on this blog and found out about the popularity of cell phone novels in Asia, so I knew a little about the potential for apps like this. While my stories have attracted a big audience on Wattpad, I haven't been able to cash in on those reads. For me, it's been like street art - I've put my stories out there and it's been a gift to those who have discovered it.


So I received this invitation to Radish in my inbox and it sounded interesting. But I wasn't quite sure what to do with it. I'm very grateful to Wattpad and I didn't want to start ripping my stories away from that platform on a whim.


Then I remembered a story I'd written early last year called Permission to Touch. I live in a suburb that is rumoured to have been the swinging capital of Australia back in the 1970s. Still, everyone around here seems to know someone who knows someone who is a swinger. (I'm not talking swing dancing, I'm talking the other sort of swinging.)


Anyway, a friend told me a story about someone she knew whose teenage son came home and found a swingers' party going on at his home. And it sparked my imagination ... imagine coming home and finding your parents hosting a swingers party ... that was all I needed to get my fingers flying across the keyboard.


I wrote the story, I was reading Anaïs Nin, so I turned up the heat on those sex scenes, I wove in some ideas about the importance of young females knowing about pleasure - I thought I'd send it out to publishers and agents and people would be all over it.


But ... I have never gotten such quick, harsh rejections for a story in my life. I had one rejection, pretty much 30 seconds after I sent the pitch, basically saying no way, not today, not ever, are you kidding?!


So, this is the story I decided to trial on Radish.


There's 3 pricing models authors can choose from:

  • Premium: where readers pay per chapter to read a story, must be exclusive to Radish and must remain on the site for 3 months after the final chapter is posted.
  • Freemium: readers pay to read the latest chapter now, or wait one week to read it for free.
  • Free: as a way of building an audience.

I went for the Premium model and within a couple of days I was starting to earn coins for my chapters and people were subscribing to the story. A novel that had been widely and brutally rejected was starting to attract readers and, like a miracle, people were paying for it.


Radish has raised $3 million in seed funding from investors including UTA, Bertelsmann Digital Media Investments and author Amy Tan and have expert advisors such as former Penguin Random House CEO Alberto Vitale. Early financial backers have invested in Uber, Spotify, AirBnB, Dropbox, and other iconic technology companies.


My novel Permission to Touch was accepted into Radish's editorial program and has been professionally proofread - so chapters can be uploaded without the fear of embarrassing typos. And I've just been accepted into the Daily Featured List where the story will get an extra boost through their social media and promotion channels.


Radish genres include Romance, Fantasy, Paranormal, Teen, Mystery, LGBT, Sci-Fi and General.


Readers can download the app on iOS or Android.


Writers can apply to join the platform here: https://www.radishfiction.com/writer.html Writers retain rights to their work published on the site.


You can read 3 chapters of Permission to Touch for free here (try before you buy!): https://radish.app.link/jhI7pd9ZJA (after that, chapter purchases are dead-easy, one click, in-app payments. Readers can buy bulk coins at a time, the more coins you buy, the cheaper they become ...)


This is my totally hot book cover of Permission to Touch:

Permission to Touch Radish fiction ebook cover


This is my app-friendly image:

Permission to Touch book cover Radish fiction

Subscribe to my blog so I can tell you how to make awesome covers like these in under 15 minutes for absolutely free in my next post! http://eepurl.com/bzm6az
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How planning your blog and social media better will keep you on track

16 January 2017 / Leave a Comment
epic blog planner create if writing

Confession: I've been a slap-dash blogger. Sure, I've been blogging since 2012, and the National Library of Australia are archiving Out of print writing, but it's been like my stories - I make it up as I go along. I'm a big time pantser, not a plotter.


But I've been listening to Kirsten Oliphant's Create If Writing podcasts and she talks about intentional blogging - like, having a plan for things!


I signed up to her newsletter and got her The Epic Blog Planner & Strategic Goals Guide. The Guide asks you to look at blog and social media stats for the past year, to see what worked and what didn't and then to set goals for the coming year.


It was a great way to reflect on what I've been doing for the last few years with my blogging and social media and to plan better for 2017. Many things have surprised me.


Firstly, according to Google analytics, my blog audience is younger than I would've thought (25-34), and more males than females (55% male, 45% female).


My most popular blog posts have been on topics like how to do #bookstagram on Instagram, best poets on Instagram, publishers publishing novellas.


Going through this process has reminded me that Wattpad has been my most successful platform by far. Shamefully, I've really neglected Wattpad this past year. Perhaps I was receiving sooooo many comments, I began to feel overwhelmed. It was hard keeping up that level of engagement. But now I've realised I'm crazy! I'm hoping to find a home for my YA novels, and where's that YA audience? On Wattpad.


I've recently returned to Wattpad and started engaging again and I've discovered that even though I've neglected that platform, people have still been there reading my stories quietly. Those readers are dedicated, even though I've been a lousy friend.


One of the best things about doing this guide was Kirsten prompts us at the beginning to outline our long-term goal, yearly goal and specific tasks for the yearly goal.


For me, my long-term goal is to write meaningful books that are purchased by a wide audience.


My yearly goal is to prepare two already written books for publication, write a new YA novel, continue to build my author platform, sell more copies of The Replacement Wife, find homes for older stories and develop my youth audience for YA novels. I've further written down specific tasks for how to achieve this.


And then, importantly, at the end of the plan, Kirsten suggests that one does a pie chart. Luckily, I'm a bit of a nerd when it comes to Excel and I love a visual overview. So here's what I've come up with for the year ...


When someone has so many tasks to complete it's easy to get sidetracked ... but the blue portion of the pie chart reminds me my main goal is to write stories ...



Sign up for Kirsten Oliphant's newsletter and receive The Epic Blog Planner & Strategic Goals Guide

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6 free life-changing resources for writers

30 December 2016 / Leave a Comment
free writers resources authors

These free resources will change your writing life. Discover helpful tips for writing and marketing, free ebooks, superfood recipes to help with brain mush and yoga and hypnosis for clear, creative thinking!


1. Create If Writing - podcast and website
Kirsten Oliphant's catchphrase is 'this is the podcast for writers, bloggers and other creatives who want to build an online platform without feeling smarmy'. She's a writer, blogger and authentic platform builder and I trust her! I'm now listening to everything on her podcast feed and her website is also full of helpful resources for writers and bloggers.


2. Gutenberg Project - free ebooks
I still can't believe all these books are free! If it's a classic and it's out of copyright, it's probably available here. Kafka, Austen, Dickens, Tolstoy and Bronte, if they don't need a first name, their stories are most likely on the list. Dead easy to download on your tablet or to read on your phone.


3. Howlarium - website
I've been a fan of Jason Howell's writing and this website for a long time now. Instead of doing the usual Q&A of predictable questions with one writer, Jason asks one unusual, thought-provoking question of many writers.


4. My New Roots - food blog
Sarah Britton has changed the way I think about food. I learn so much about nutrition from reading the introductions to her recipes. If you're sitting at your keyboard trying to squeeze words out of brain mush, go and cook one of her healthy recipes full of brain foods - think nuts, chia seeds and other superfoods! Her food is colourful, tasty and each bite feels as though it's a magic potion doing something good for you.


5. Tara Stiles Yoga - YouTube videos
Tara Stiles's yoga videos have become an important part of my daily routine. Her videos are fast-moving, so you don't get bored, and easily explained. She has videos from as little as 5 or 10 minutes a day for beginners through to advanced. Try her programs for focus and productivity!


6. Absolute Mind - podcast
Struggling with staying focused, negative thinking or motivation? Then this is the podcast for you. Paula Sweet of Absolute Mind delivers hypnosis, meditation and mindfulness podcasts to address many different issues. Get into an altered state of being and have her work peacefully and powerfully on detangling your mind.



I'm Rowena. I'm an author and blogger. My latest novel is The Replacement Wife, HarperCollins. 


Subscribe to my newsletter for tips on reading, writing and publishing in the digital revolution and receive a free ebook of Love Potion, featuring my flash fiction and a short story about stitching the heart together again ...





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My ultimate reads 2016 - not what you think!

23 December 2016 / Leave a Comment

Sure I've read some awesome books in 2016. I've ploughed through Anaïs Nin's collections of short stories, I've discovered Miranda July, I've been reminded that writing should never get in the way of living in Phillip Roth's The Ghost Writer, I've loved Lois Lowry's The Giver, Neil Randall's The Butterfly and the Wheel and Olga Grushin's The Line, but the two pieces of writing that have touched me the deepest are by my two children.


Above is a little poem my 9-year-old wrote about a convict girl coming out on a ship to Australia. Her teacher told me 'I had to read it'. My heart almost burst with pride when I read her line 'Little hands smudged on the window' ...


And then below is a little story my 6-year-old wrote, titled 'The hot Christmas'. He has only just finished his first year of school. He started the year writing his S's and his Z's and his 2's back to front. Sometimes an S was a 2.

But by the end of the year, he can write descriptions like '... I heard a scatter in the dark. It was like an airplane crashing in a thunder storm ...'




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Book review: The first bad man by Miranda July

13 December 2016 / Leave a Comment

The First Bad Man is such an original tale. It's been called quirky or oddball, but that doesn't do it justice. Each turn of events feels meticulously planned out. So many original ideas and stories, it delves into the underbelly of our strangest desires; so-called 'adult games', fight simulations, unorthodox relations between the young and the old. Miranda July is an artist, film-maker and actress, and she has a very different way of looking at the world. It was nice to step into July's world for a while, to feel uncomfortable, yet comforted by other people's strangeness, to feel shocked and surprised, but ultimately I felt enlightened by her clever writing style and excellent characterisation.




Miranda July book review

There's still time to enter The First Bad Man ebook giveaway! Subscribe to my enewsletter by 18 December to go in the draw to win an iBooks copy of Miranda July's The First Bad Man. Every subscriber will also receive a free ebook of my flash fiction and short story collection Love Potion. Enter here: http://outofprintwriting.blogspot.com.au/p/subscribe.html

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