As part of my adventure looking into the world of art and self-publishing I got to meet some very peculiar individuals;
a swearing chef with a taste for art, a break dancing fox, a secret society I happened to stumble across which turned out to be a humble writers group, a class of super eager creative writing third year university students, an evil “Artificial Intelligence” that builds websites, an Avengers type group of writers working on a seasonal magazine.
I discovered New Amazon – a multitude of probably 8 million fan girls, and I embarked upon a challenging league of writers scribbling to the death.
Have I piqued your interest? There will be more about my exploits, including the ones I’ve embarked on Wattpad. But in the meantime, all you need to know is that Amanda Nichols is a bubbly and feisty self-published author on Wattpad who is making tsunamis in the self-publishing seas.
Having managed to prise her away from the posse of fandom causing traffic jams on the internet highway, I got to have a lovely chat. We talked about her art and self-publishing … but mainly her art.
She is the author of “On The Couch,” which is hilarious because we aren’t even sitting on one.
Amanda Nichols: I have always been a literary person even as a young child. The first time I really got encouraged or told I had a talent for it was in the 6th grade by my teacher, Mrs. Condos. One of our assignments was to write a 3 page story on anything we liked for our “English hour” being that elementary/grammar school didn’t have separate periods for separate subjects. I wrote about my hamster. She liked the story so much. I thought it was so creative and the fact that I was so enthusiastic about writing. She encouraged me to continue with it and I haven’t stopped writing since.
KOR: Who is you favourite author? Do you have one? (It’s not a sin to not have one)
AN: There are way too many favourite authors of mine but number one is Frank Herbert. I absolutely adore the Dune Saga Series and own all the books physical and digital. There are so many facets to the whole story that I still read them over and over again to try and figure it all out it’s timeless and endless. I can only dream to be as brilliant an author as he is/was. Ironically enough, I don’t write science fiction, but it is my favourite genre to read. I do have a bunch of ideas for the genre though. … Maybe someday …
KOR: Do you have a favourite room in which you write? (I know I do, it’s called nowhere in my house!)
AN: Hahahaha, not really. My office is pretty much my living room/couch/coffee-table/desk. I can’t write sitting at a desk or the first draft on a computer. I have to be comfortable. So I lounge on my couch with my notebook (writing by hand with pen and paper is an old habit from when I was younger and there was no such thing as personal computers) on my keyboard and write. I usually have some TV show on I have seen a dozen times for background noise and periodically have to do something taking care of my son when I happen to be writing. The chaotic noise in the background helps me focus, oddly enough – and music, which is usually the opposite for most writers, distracts me.
KOR: With 262,299 reads, 6,088 votes, and 605 comments, how important has Wattpad been to your current level of popularity and what do you see it doing for you in the future?
AN: I couldn’t be more grateful for Wattpad and its format for up and coming authors. While it has been annoying and frustrating at times, I have never known about any other website or platform like this to put my work out there. Prior to Wattpad, no one has ever read a word I have written. So it was quite interesting to see all these strangers from around the world reading my work. I re-read some of my first works and see how far I have come just from continuing with it, no matter what, and my technique and style being polished as I continue. Wattpad has been a great place for me to develop my talent.
KOR: Social networks have been known to harbour trolls, have you ever had the misfortune of encountering such fiends or have you been lucky enough to avoid them hurling insults at your work?
AN: You know those things and type of people are simply inevitable/unavoidable. I have had a few, and I completely ignore them. No one is immune to that type of scrutiny and it’s just best to let the flame die out. Fueling the fire is just going to cause you trouble that you don’t need or want. I am quick to anger, so yes, it takes a lot sometimes to hold my tongue when these trolls pop up, but luckily I have been blessed enough with very few of them on my writing.
KOR: What’s your advice to budding writers out there who are trying to become better at their craft?
AN: Keep writing and reading! You only get better at something by doing it. I find reading improves your writing just as much with new ideas picking out things you like from other authors and moulding it into your style or technique. Do your research, brush up on your grammar and editing (something I need to do), and don’t give up. Being an author seems to be a very critical business and I can’t tell you how many times I have given up here and there, and kept coming back. If you really love it, no matter what your success is, keep doing it.
KOR: When you aren’t writing what do you do? (Personally I read comics but we can’t all be geeks)
AN: I read hahaha. Mostly I am probably taking care of or yelling at my son. He is a spitfire like me. I love hockey so I am always watching the sport. GO Detroit Red Wings! Or I could be caught playing a video game, being crazy silly on my Facebook, I am not shy so tend to be quite outspoken. I do some arts and crafts like plastic canvas or crocheting, my life is quite boring outside my writing mind, being a mother and housewife. I am a huge movie/TV buff so there is always something I am watching on the TV, new and old. I am quite a big nerd myself and used to run a guild on a video game called World of Warcraft so no worries on the geek thing, hehehe.
KOR: Sounds rather cliche but one must ask, what are your inspirations? (be as cheesy as you like, this is a cheddar allowed zone)
AN: At the deepest level, I am in love with the idea of being in love, and a hopeless romantic. YES VERY MUCH CHEDDAR CHEESY THERE! Usually it’s an experience I have had that I would like to indulge or embellish. For instance with “On The Couch,” it’s a therapist and patient romance right? Well, I have been in therapy many times and I thought one day, over a year ago, what if they fell in love? You always hear about all the do’s and don’ts when you are in therapy about the relationship with the therapist, so let’s break those rules, I thought (was never much of a rule follower myself). One time a simple picture inspired a whole science fiction idea I haven’t written much of, but there is a ton of notes and a few chapters around here somewhere. Life experience is a huge inspiration for me. I am simple and like to stick to the basics. Write what you know or love.
KOR: What’s the worst review you ever got if any?
AN: I am not too proud to say I get told a lot if anyone even still reads my atrocious vampire series (something I started writing when I first joined Wattpad, just to get back into the swing of things) that it is way too much twilight/vampire diaries/true blood etc. I am not afraid to say that it is, but it is not a fan fiction. I leave it up there to remind me of what not to do and that to succeed, sometimes a failure is needed. I am just as proud of what I have written that does not work as much as the successes. It all makes me who I am today, and I continue to learn. You gain nothing from constant success. You cannot grow and/or improve if you’re already always being told you’re great. But yes, my Cailyn Chronicles series has the worst reviews, about how it’s too much of all that vampire stuff. Thank god I got over that!
KOR: What’s the nicest? (sweetest)
AN: Anytime anyone tells me this is so original, or they have never read anything like this, how unique is this. It really means the world to me (especially after the previous question about comparing my crappy vampire series to twilight) it shows me how far I have come and still can go with my writing. It really is the only dream I have ever had or wanted. More than anything I want to be an author.
(I’m usually the bad influence amongst my friends and family so to be asked about advice for new budding writers is quite humbling and surreal).
KOR: What do you think of self-publishing and where do you see it going in the future?
AN: Honestly, I think it’s the wave of the future when it comes to publishing. I would love to traditionally publish, but with the influx of technology, such as kindle, Wattpad, nook, etc for digital books, it makes it a lot easier for authors to publish on their own and get their name out there. It omits the whole process of years of rejection letters. While I still love traditional publishing, being from the generation of a fresh leather bound book, I think it’s going to take over print. I have already said that print is dying, and it is sad to me, but to move on to new eras, change is inevitable and unavoidable (as well as trolls hehe).
You can catch all of “On The Couch” on this Wattpad link.
As for my journeys through the world of art and self-publishing keep your eyes peeled for my next story.