Wattpad and me

So, I’m doing this Wattpad thing, and I’m not sure what to make of it at this point.  While I’m writing Book Six of the Oz Chronicles, I am posting completed chapters of another book in progress, The Tree Readers, on Wattpad two times a day.  To date, I have about 79,000 words written, and each chapter is about 1,000 words long. It’s a book I started about two years ago, and I work on it in between other projects.  It’s actually a very special book to me because I started it while my mother was ill, and I would send her chapters that my sister would read to her.  Apparently, she enjoyed the story.  It’s a little difficult getting back into with a lot of enthusiasm knowing she won’t be able read the finished product.

That aside, Wattpad is a foreign concept to me, and I’m not sure what will come of it.  I’m not expecting much because I am a stranger in a strange land.  I’m about 30 years older than the typical Wattpadian from what I can tell, and after reading the forums, I discovered that it’s common practice for writers to “vote” for their own work.  I’ve been doing it, but it feels a little self-indulgent.

There’s no danger in me becoming a bright shining star on Wattpad because The Tree Readers is about 800,000 reads behind the top science fiction story.  If you are so inclined, and you want to see what The Tree Readers is all about, I encourage you to join Wattpad and read along.

And yes, Book Six is coming!

New book project here I come

I’m taking my usual Oz hiatus (except for the Lou diary entries) by working on a non-Oz project.  This one is a dark Young Adult book about an alien invasion called Tree Readers.  I actually started this story months and months ago but lost my focus when I had to jump back on the Oz bandwagon.   I’m planning on wrapping TR and sending it off to my secret agent man to see what he thinks.  In the meantime, here’s a little sample (typos included).

The messages are in the trees.

.

Stanley Keenan was six the first time he helped his father kidnap someone.  It was a kid about his own age named Bobby Darden.  His father spent weeks training him how to win the kid’s trust.  They’d go to the park every Tuesday and Saturday at the same time Bobby would be there with his mother.  Stanley slowly got to know Bobby.  He liked him.  He was fun.  In a lot of ways, he was Stanley’s best friend.  In fact, he was the one who first called Stanley Key.  It was a nickname he would use for the rest of this life.

After six weeks of becoming Bobby’s buddy, Key lured him to a line of trees on the North side of the park, and his old man appeared with a couple of ice cream cones.

Bobby was in the back of Key’s father’s RV before he knew what was happening, lapping up the ice cream like it was his last meal.  For all Key knew, it was.

Bobby and Key played in the back of the RV while Key’s old man drove out of town.  Bobby was assured that his mother had asked Key’s father to take him on a trip to Six Flags.  She wanted to come but couldn’t because of work.  Bobby thought his mother was the coolest parent on the planet at that moment.

Little did he know that she noticed her son missing ten minutes after the abduction.  She told herself that he had just wandered off.  That she would find him soon.  She was sure he would be just around the corner, doing something he shouldn’t be doing because that was his nature.  If there was trouble, Bobby could find it, but it was usually harmless fun.

The minutes passed and she grew more and more anxious.  The volume of her voice got louder.  The urgency in her tone was more pronounced.  The other parents started to take notice at this women darting from tree to tree calling out her son’s name.  Their hearts began to pound.  A mother had lost her child. Could anything be worse?  They all scooped up their own children and began to help in the search for the poor woman’s child.

They wouldn’t find him.  He was growing restless in the back of Key’s father’s RV.  He had been happy and content with the thought of going to an amusement park at first, but several hours had passed, and he began to miss his mother in spite of himself.  He had never gone so long without so much as a phone call from her.  Looking out the window of the RV, he could see that it was dark outside.  Darker than he had ever seen it before.  Something was wrong.  He was only five, but he could feel it.  Key tried to keep Bobby’s mind off his mother by showing him his comic book collection, but Bobby couldn’t even pretend to care about the stupid comic books.

“I want to go home, Key,” Bobby said.

Key gripped his latest Superman comic.  “Don’t you want to go to Six Flags?”

Bobby shook his head.  “Not anymore.”

Key’s hands began to sweat.  His father told him that this might happen.  He warned him that Bobby would beg to go home, but it was his job to keep him happy and quiet.  “What about the roller coasters?”

“We can’t ride ‘em.  We ain’t tall enough.”

“Sure we can,” Key smiled.  “My dad said so.  He knows the guy who built all the roller coasters.  They got us special passes.”

Bobby looked down.  “I don’t care.  I just want to go home.”

“Don’t say that so loud,” Key said.  He looked at his father to see if he heard.  If he had, he knew that was it for Bobby.  They’d pull over and his old man would make sure that Bobby stopped asking to go home.  One way or another.

“Tell your dad,” Bobby said.

“I can’t.”

“I just want to go home.”

Key covered Bobby’s mouth with his hand.  “Shhhh.”

“Everything alright back there boys?” Key’s old man asked.

“Yes, sir,” Key answered.

“We’re just about there.  Just talked to Bobby’s mom on the phone.  Good news.  She got off work and she’s waiting for us near the gate.”

Key breathed a sigh of relief.  “There, you see.  Your mom’s waiting for us.”

Bobby managed a smile.  “Good.” His eyes darted from Key to Key’s dad.  “Does your dad really know the guy who built the roller coasters?”

Key nodded.  “Says he does.  They served in the army together.”

“Your dad was in the army?”

“Still is.  That’s why we move so much.  He’s always going on secret missions.”

“Wow,” Bobby said.  “Cool.  Does your mom go on secret missions, too?”

“Nah,” Key said.  “She died when I was born.  It’s just me and my dad.”

The two boys felt the RV slow and eventually come to a stop.  Key’s father unbuckled his seatbelt and moved to the back of the vehicle.

“You boys wait here.  I’ve got to do some business.”  He moved to the door and then turned back to the two boys.  “Don’t even think about going outside.”

Both boys nodded.  They slowly moved to the front of the RV after Key’s father exited.  They watched him through the front windshield as he approached a black four-door car.  Key’s father turned back to the RV.  Bobby and Key ducked down so they wouldn’t be seen, but they weren’t sure why.  They had been instructed not to leave the RV, but Key’s old man didn’t say anything about not looking out the windows.

They watched intently as Key’s father leaned inside the car.  He appeared to be talking to someone, but the boys couldn’t see anyone.   Bobby reached out and grabbed Key’s arm.  He scooted closer to his best-friend.  His grip on Key’s arm got tighter as his father raised his voice.

Key’s old man stood up and wiped the sweat from his brow with his sleeve.  He headed back to the RV and the boys could hear him mumbling.   Both boys yelped and jumped when he opened the side door.

“Bobby,” Key’s father said.  “Can you come here, please?”

Bobby Looked at Key.  What should he do?  He didn’t want to go outside.  It was dark out there.

“Bobby,” Key’s father said.

“I don’t want to go,” Bobby whispered.

“It’s okay,” Key said.  “My dad’s in the army, remember?  He’ll protect you.”

Bobby considered Key’s logic and then stood up.  He ever so slowly stepped toward the door.

Key’s father reached out his hand and gave him a reassuring smile.  “It’s okay.”

Bobby reluctantly grabbed his hand and allowed himself to be guided out the door.

Key crawled into the passenger seat and watched as his father placed his hand on Bobby’s back between his shoulder blades and walked him to the black car.

Bobby looked back once and Key was sorry he did.  He was scared for him.  Key didn’t like that feeling, being scared for someone else.  It tied him up inside, and he wanted to roll down the window and beg his father to bring Bobby back, to take him home where he belonged, but he didn’t.  His father told him he would feel that way. He told Key that doubt was normal.  But he promised him they were doing the right thing.

“The greater good,” he called it.

Key’s father opened the trunk of the car, bent down, and whispered something in Bobby’s ear.  The small boy hesitated and then to Key’s amazement crawled into the trunk without so much as a gentle shove from his father.

That was last time Key saw Bobby Darden, but it wouldn’t be the last time he saw that black car.

Lou’s Diary – Entry 3 (text version)

This morning I woke up and there was another pack of crackers lying on the ground next to me.   I would have thought it nothing more than an incredible stroke of luck or some intervention by the Storytellers if it hadn’t been resting on top of a note that read, “You are being watched.  F.T.”

I ate my crackers with a knot in my stomach.  I’m guessing this F.T. person… I hope it’s a person… thought they were doing me a favor by giving me a heads up on being watched, but frankly, I’d rather not know. What good does it do me?  I don’t have any weapons.  I’m weak from hunger.  I’m pretty sure my insides are frozen solid.  Worrying about being watched is just one more layer of crap I’ve got to deal with.

And what’s with this F.T.?  Why don’t they just show themselves?  It’s creepy and rude to sneak up on me at night, even if you’re leaving me food.  So, help me God… if I catch up to this F.T. and they’ve got something better to eat than stale, frozen crackers, I’m going to punch them in the face.  I guess I should be thankful, but screw that.

I’m laughing at my lack of gratitude.  It’s really all I have the strength to do right now.  This F.T. probably expects a big hug and kiss from me if we were ever to meet, but instead he’ll get a good dressing down from a bratty little made-up girl for failing to recognize that I needed a good sight more than crackers and a warning.

I need someone to end my misery.

Is it bad for me to talk like that?  I don’t think so because no one is around to care… except for F.T., and they only care enough to spare some barely edible crackers.

I hear something.  And this time I know it’s not the wind.  It’s a grunt… almost a growl.  I want to shut my eyes and pretend none of this real.  I just want it all to go away… The growl again.  It sounds big.

It’s a funny thing about being scared.  I’ve completely forgotten about being cold and hungry.  I don’t know who F.T. is, but they were right.  I am being watched.

Lou’s Diary – Entry 2 (text version)

I don’t know where I am.  I’m still in the mountains.  I’ve been following a path, and I’m pretty sure I’m heading north… pretty sure.  I may not be real, but I’m hungry.  That doesn’t seem fair. There should be some advantages to being a fictional character.  I shouldn’t have to eat or sleep or… other stuff.

I slept under something that looked like a park bench made out of sticks and logs off the side of the trail last night.  I must be in some kind of national forest or something.  There are mile markers all up and down the trail.  This morning when I woke up there was a pack of crackers under the bench.  I couldn’t believe it.  I don’t know how old they were or how they got there, but I have never tasted something so delicious in my life.  They were stale, frozen, and insanely good.

The only problem is they just made me hungrier.  I haven’t seen a store or house or…. Anything at all in days. If I had my crossbow, I could hunt, but I don’t even know if there’s anything to hunt.   I hear noises, especially at night, but I’m pretty sure it’s the wind.  That’s that I tell myself, anyway.

Why didn’t I keep the crossbow?

I know why.  I thought I’d be dead by now… no, not dead.  That’s the wrong word.  I thought I’d stop existing.  What’s the point without the others… without him?  I miss oz…

No.  I can’t go there.  I won’t be able to breathe if I do.  If I have to live for another second without him, I have to forget about him.  That’s the way it has to be.   I am not real.  I can’t be a part of his world.  It will cost him his life.  It will cost the others their lives. I know it.  From this moment on, I have not past.

Banshee Worm King – Early Feedback

"Screw you for killing ______ I get it, but still, screw you…" – Brian

Okay, I wanted to wait until I heard from all the readers who received the first shipment of ARCs of the Banshee Worm King: Book Five of the Oz Chronicles before I posted any comments they sent my way because I didn’t want them to influence each other’s opinions of the book.   I thought it would be weeks before I heard back from all of them.  I’m happy to report that in just a little over a week, I’ve heard from all of them.  Here is what they had to say (minus any spoilers):

Got it yesterday. Finished it this morning. YOU’RE HEARTLESS. But this is the best one yet.  – Kinser 

…. I instantly started reading it. Several hours later I had finished the book. I enjoyed every page and every sentence of it. The book was by far the best you have written in my opinion. It was amusing, suspenseful, and exciting all at once. – Jacob 

Great job on book 5… I’m always a fan of your action scenes and this one didn’t disappoint… Screw you for killing ______ I get it, but still, screw you… – Brian 

Logan Has Finished ‘Banshee Worm King, Book 5 Of The Oz Chronicles’ And Has Now Allowed Me To Read It. He Won’t Say A Word, Per Your Inscription, Other Than “That Was The BEST One Yet!” I Am Only Halfway Through It And So Far I Completely Agree! KUDOS! – Christina 

I swore them all to secrecy in regards to who dies in the book, but as you can see, a couple of them were a little upset with me.  I learned from Charlotte’s Web as a kid that no one is safe in the world of fiction.   I’ve got more feedback from other readers, but I’m waiting on their permission to post their comments.  I am, to say the least, pleased with the feedback so far.