Monday, September 8, 2014

"Watt's Up?" A Look at Wattpad and How it is Helping Authors Find Readers

What is Wattpad? 

If you haven't heard of Wattpad, you haven't yet fully joined the era of Internet and social media savvy readers and writers.

Wattpad is the Internet sensation and brain child of friends Allen Lau and Ivan Yuen; who each dreamed of using social media to revolutionize how we tell and share stories.
"Their realization: that user generated content, social networking and mobile phones were all that was needed to enable the future of storytelling." ~ Two minds: Allen Lau and Ivan Yuen. One idea: to use social media and mobile phones to build a network of readers and writers.
You can learn all about how they got together in 2006, to take advantage of the changes in technology, and the building of Wattpad in the article, Two minds/One Idea, through the link above.

The end result, or should I say the beginning, of their collaboration became Wattpad, an online community using social networking and mobile smart phone technology to advance, share and enjoy the written word.
Wattpad is a writing community in which users are able to post articles, stories, and poems about anything either online or through the Wattpad app. The content includes work by undiscovered and published writers. Users are able to comment and like stories or join groups associated with the website.  ~ Wikipedia 
Authors are always searching new methods of reaching a reading audience and Readers are always in search of new and exciting books. The idea of bringing the two together and of harnessing technology to facilitate their joining is brilliant.
All this started 7 years ago before social networking and media took over our telephones. Today, Wattpad is one of the largest social networks going and they are entirely devoted to sharing and discovering literature! That’s right, a whole forum of interaction devoted to writing and reading.

How many times have you as a reader chewed your finger wishing you had something to read; and how many times have you authors agonized about getting your book under the nose of a reader?

Today's readers aren't just looking for a good read, they are looking to engage, contribute, and connect in ways that readers of yesteryear did not. Some of the best and most well known writers of this century are those who have embraced a two way conversation with their fans. Social media is not only a marketing tool it is a creative tool allowing writers and readers to interact, communicate and grow together.  Writers are able to test ideas, and improve their work using fan based feedback and comments. Readers become personally attached to their favorite books and authors, they share with their friends at the click of a link button those authors and books they enjoy.  A match made in heaven, or in this case, Toronto Canada, the home base of Wattpad.

In the words of Wattpad . .

  • All You Need are Words: You don't need a publisher, editor, or finished manuscript to write on Wattpad. Anyone can share their writing. Anything you post on Wattpad can be published in as many other places as you like. We don't demand any rights to your work, or any control over where you share it.
  • Writing Socially and Serially: One of the greatest benefits of Wattpad is a direct connection between writers and 30 million readers, all over the world. Readers receive notifications whenever a new chapter of a story is posted. Many writers share their work serially: posting stories one chapter at a time, so readers keep coming back. 
  • Amplifying Authors: Published authors use Wattpad to amplify their online presence. They post short stories and drafts, or attract new readers by sharing the first part of a series. Our readers are socially engaged, and the writers who prosper on Wattpad are the ones who embrace this direct social connection with their fans.

According to Wikipedia, as of April 2014

  • 85 percent of Wattpad's traffic and usage comes from mobile devices [13]
  • 25 million unique visitors per month [13]
  • over 1,000 story uploads per day [14]
Friends of Ink Slinger's Whimsey found on Wattpad . . .

Friday, September 5, 2014

Sacrificial Ceremonies of Santeria - A Review

Skilled as an orator, writer and priest, Ócha'ni Lele brings a deep love and understanding for Santeria to his readers. The excellent writing and composition style of Sacrificial Ceremonies of Santería: A Complete Guide to the Rituals and Practices
lends itself to an ease of understanding and imparts a depth of knowledge that is invaluable to those who are seeking growth in the religion. The sacred stories come alive, while annotations broaden without becoming dry and academic in tone. With so many seekers and so few available teachers, Sacrificial Ceremonies of Santeria is by far the most in-depth and skilled presentation of the sacred rituals and practices available. Anyone interested in the religious history and traditions purely from an academic standpoint will be pleased at the level of attention given to cross referencing information with the diloggun, patakis, and other scholastic records.

As the daughter of a fundamentalist minister, I was vastly intrigued and greatly impressed by the incredible dedication author Ocha'ni Lele gave in presenting the sacred rituals in Sacrificial Ceremonies of Santeria. I found this book to be deeply enriching. As one who was raised in a religion which no longer participates in ritual blood sacrifices, outside of symbolic practices, I found it enlightening to be presented with a living example of ancient sacrificial rites. In learning about the sacred rituals and practices of Santeria, I found a new level of understanding for the value and significance of blood ritual. I think this book would serve serious students of Christianity well in understanding the impact ritual sacrifice and the cessation of such practices has had on the development of their own religion and culture. I am sure each reader will be impacted differently, based on their personal level of understanding and spiritual inclinations; however, there is great room for growth and healthy discussion to be enjoyed through broadening one's perspective.

Alive with rich imagery, sacred storytelling, and detailed analysis, there is no better transmittal or loving record of this vital information available to friends and family of the Orishas, than that which is being transmitted through their vessel, Ócha'ni Lele, in Sacrificial Ceremonies of Santeria: A Complete Guide to the Rituals and Practices.

Author: Ócha'ni Lele
Publisher: Destiny Books (August 22, 2012)
ISBN-10: 1594774552
ISBN-13: 978-1594774553
Rating: 5 Star

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Ritual Sacrifice and the Regla de Ifa

Havana and

Artists borrow inspiration from life to express themselves. The worlds of arts and entertainment have often borrowed from Ifa –the religious traditions of the Yoruba, and its American cousin –Santeria. Most often found are sensationalized settings depicting images meant to inspire horror for dramatic effect. American film audiences are both thrilled and terrified by symbolism that seems frighteningly familiar and violently primitive.

It is no wonder that practitioners of these faiths meet with difficulty as they become more visible in American culture and society. Rarely depicted are core spiritual principles which include peaceful co-existence, the personal and spiritual goals of attaining balance in life, and of taking personal responsibility for one’s circumstances and actions. It is true that ritual sacrifices, ecstatic trances, spirit possessions, and ancient divinatory practices are all very alive within Ifa and Santeria. However, understanding the religion more deeply adds layers of symbolic meaning to which Hollywood images and depictions merely hint, but our instinctual minds respond.

Modern practitioners, those who come to Ifa and Santeria without previous heritage and familial ties, have many social taboos and indictments to overcome. Often, they find it difficult to study the sacred teachings or find spiritual mentorship. Even so, the number of initiates in this age of science and skepticism is on the rise.

By tradition Ifa and Santeria have been historically secretive in sharing their ways and practices. This is born out of a need to protect initiates from persecution by other religions –most notably Christianity. The majority of practitioners come from “word of mouth” Oral traditions, where teachings are passed down within a family or casa de santos (house of saints), also known as an ilé. Those coming from outside cultures seeking to learn the ways and practices of Ifa and Santeria often meet with mistrust and hostility, as they seek out information and attempt to interact with seasoned initiates.

Neophytes most often run into trouble when their understanding of the practices come with little or no practical example, or trust worthy guidance. Those coming from outside the tradition often lack the cultural background and experiences which would otherwise assist them in deriving deeper meaning and reverence for the ways and practices. This lack of understanding does create fissures between new initiates and those who have grown up in the faith. However, it is no surprise that cultures dominated by Christianity find the religious practices of Ifa and Santeria difficult to understand let alone accept. Christianity left behind ritual blood sacrifices, with all the cultural and symbolic implications, when it embraced the idea of a “final sacrificial savior,” and created the symbolic enactment of the Eucharist. The ensuing passage of time has alienated many Christians from their ritual past and from other cultures and faiths that retain blood rites and practices. The deeper symbolism and meanings associated with ritual animal sacrifice are easy to dismiss, or reject as horrendous, when there is no personal context associated with shedding blood. The entertainment world takes advantage of these cultural rifts when choosing images, and depicting distorted, or even honest scenes of ritualized animal sacrifice, ecstatic frenzies, spirit possession, and other practices.

Industrialization of the food industry has further estranged modern societies from the bloody business of slaughter. Gone are the days when killing and plucking a rooster for Sunday dinner was an American family norm. Modern American's, especially those removed from rural life, are often repulsed and confused when slaughter occurs as part of religious practices. People from cultures where industrialized farming and Agribusiness are the way of life, often have difficulty conceiving of or witnessing any form of slaughter. In cultures where the slaughter and butcher of meats in the home remains prevalent, people have very little difficulty accepting ritual sacrifices as part of religion. "We feed ourselves and we feed the Gods." For these people ritual sacrifice is often part of everyday life. These are the kinds of cultures where Ifa, and Santeria are well established and visible.

Whether the entertainment industry has benefited these religions through increased exposure, or harmed them through negative depiction, is a matter of debate. What is certainly true. . . the worlds of arts and entertainment will continue to derive inspiration from them, religious scholars will investigate and share their findings, and dedicated initiates will continue to practice.

For information on the ritual practices of Santeria, refer to Sacrificial Ceremonies of Santería: A Complete Guide to the Rituals and Practices
, authored by Ócha'ni Lele , published by Destiny Books.

  Come back and read our review Friday, 9/5/2014.