Everything Will Be Dark / The Returned

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A second blog post from me in two days….I know, right? I’m clearly high on Easter eggs and Ben-Hur.

A couple of months ago, one of the lovely people from Wattpad HQ contacted me and asked whether I would be interested in writing a story inspired by the A&E television network’s new series, The Returned.

‘We need about 15,000 words,’ they said. ‘And we’ll need weekly instalments every week for four weeks. You’ll be asked to sign a contract and if you don’t meet all the contractual agreements, we’ll send the boys round to cut off body parts and stick your head on a pike.’

Okay, so the last bit might be a lie and I might just have been watching too much Game of Thrones, but to be fair, being asked to write to order, seemed almost like putting my head on the block. I was about to start writing the third book in my Wattpad series The Whitechapel Chronicles AND I was pretty stressed out at work and the last thing I needed was to put myself under any additional pressure.

‘We’ll pay you!’ Wattpad said.

‘SHOW ME THE MONEY, you crazy Canadians!’ I replied with gusto. Yes. Gusto.

And so, I found myself signing up for my first PAID writing job. AND they were going to pay me in actual real money. REAL MONEY. Not that Monopoly stuff my older brother used to pretend was real money when we were kids (and that he used to steal from the bank whenever we played – YES, I STILL REMEMBER THAT BROTHER!)

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not all about the dosh. I’ve been more than happy to write for free on Wattpad for the past three years but to get the opportunity to earn a one-off salary for writing a 15,000 word short story, well, I wasn’t about to turn that down.

Not only that, but the story itself was to be commissioned by the A&E Network and that was an opportunity I knew I’d be insane to turn down.

I’m sure many people think it must be easy to write knowing you’re going to get paid for it, right? WRONG. It was hellish. I struggled with every chapter. The pressure was immense. The first chapter went down really well and then the pressure built to the point where I might have cried a little. Okay, I may have even sobbed. I almost missed the final deadline. The final chapter screwed with readers heads so I sobbed some more. It wasn’t pretty. All in all, it was much, much tougher than I ever imagined it would be.

But…if asked, I would do it all again in a heartbeat.

Call me a masochist, if you will, but I really would. And no, not just because of the money (although getting paid for creating stories is always a bonus) but because it was an experience I will never forget and one that I was really proud to be involved in. I was honoured to be asked by Wattpad because to me, it meant the great powers at HQ knew who I was and trusted me enough as a writer to do a decent job. On a site with 35 million users, it’s not easy to get noticed. But somehow that’s what happened, and now my story entitled Everything Will be Dark has amassed close to 90,000 reads, which is way more than most of my other short stories, barring The Fan and it reached the top three in the mystery/thriller list.

If you fancy checking out just what made me sob like a baby for four weeks, here it is.

http://www.wattpad.com/story/32744515

Thank you,

Linz xxx

 

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I’m Your Biggest Fan

Back in February 2014 I published a short story on Wattpad about a drug-addled rock star who gets stuck in an elevator with an obsessed fan. It was a story about obsession, paranoia and how people react in extreme situations. 

If I’m honest, I never expected it to amount to much. I’d posted short stories on Wattpad before but they had tended to attract a much smaller audience than my paranormal romance series Dark Sanctuary and far less interest my dark fantasy series The Whitechapel Chronicles. I get why that happened. For a start, you either like short stories or you don’t. I never started reading shorties until I picked up a Stephen King collection that had been languishing on my bookshelf for months and although I loved it, even now I’d pick a full-length novel over a short any day. Secondly, my short stories find their roots more in horror than in dark fantasy or paranormal and to be fair, most of my followers on Wattpad are there for the vampires – not for the zombies, the serial killers and the the guy who flips and chokes his wife on her own lovingly-made cupcakes. 

So when I posted The Fan, I figured it would go the same way as the others and accumulate maybe five thousand reads or if I was lucky, ten thousand at a push. Feedback was pretty good, people seemed to like the story but most of the reads were from my loyal bunch of regulars as opposed to new readers. 

Then in March 2014 Wattpad made the decision to add The Fan to their Featured list and what I thought was just a little short story that would most likely drift into obscurity, suddenly took upon a life of it’s own. Those five thousand reads turned into ten, fifty, hundred and it continued to snowball until today where it’s now sitting just above the four hundred thousand mark.

Of course, getting Featured brings some demons your way – if you’ve ever been Featured on Wattpad you might just understand where I’m coming from with that!  I’ve been plagued with comments from readers who were clearly expecting some kind of Fanfiction and discovered it was anything BUT that, which often makes me chuckle when they reach the end and you can just imagine their jaws dropping and mouthing ‘WTF???’ over and over in disgust. I’ve been chastised for using swear words too much (I swear too much? Well fuck, I never knew that!). AND I got dragged over the coals by American teens who had no idea that another version of the English language existed and accused me of not knowing how to spell (Hey author, FYI it’s gray not grey!) *inserts Ace Ventura WELL REAAAALLLLLLLLLY gif*. However despite all that guff, there’s no doubt that without that helping hand, The Fan wouldn’t be well on its way to the half a million mark. 

And just when I thought that maybe the story was dead, Wattpad have again revived it like the proverbial Franenstein’s monster that it is and have added it to their promotional list in conjunction with the new film Unfriended. Overnight the reads have spiked once again and suddenly the little short story that I thought would never amount to anything, is alive and kicking, with a shiny new promotional sticker to boot. 

So huge thanks to Wattpad for continuing to support my out-of-control little shortie and thanks to those who have read, voted and commented. Yes, even  you guys who told me to stop swearing. I fucking love you all. 

http://www.wattpad.com/story/12686127-the-fan-featured-by-wattpad-2014

  

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Lycans, vampires and serryns – oh my! Review Time: Blood Torn by Lindsay J Pryor

So this review has been a long time coming!

And when I say a long time, I mean eight months to be exact, a fact that I feel quite ashamed of as there really was no excuse not to shout this book from the rooftops as soon as I finished reading it. But as usual, I was distracted by life in general and this review is now LONG overdue, so I hope Lindsay will forgive me.

I’m a huge fan of the Blackthorn series, I just happen to be terrible at writing reviews so I’m just glad to be finally getting around to reviewing Blood Torn, the third book in the series and the one I was probably most eagerly anticipating, which is a little strange seeing as I’m not a huge fan of Lycan books. I’m a vampire girl and with the exception of Kelley Armstrong’s Otherworld series, I’ve never really delved into the world of the fictional Lycan.

But this is Blackthorn, after all, so Lindsay could probably throw me a B-movie zombie and I’d be happy, plus of course, there was the teeny tiny matter of the main character Jask having been inspired by my favourite Followill, Kings of Leon’s Caleb, so for me this was always going to be a no brainer.

We start out where Blood Roses left off, with Sophia, the AWOL sister of Leila and Alisha, who also happens to be a member of The Alliance, the human vigilant group intent on destroying the third-species underworld rule of Blackthorn, captured by Jask, leader of the Blackthorn Lycans and having to explain just why she’s been found with two dead vampires at her feet.
With Leila’s serryn powers switching over to her sister when she fell in love with the vampire Caleb, Sophia now finds herself prisoner of the hot-tempered, fierce Lycan who just so happens to be one of the very underworld figures she should be hunting.

Taken back to the Lycan compound with its fifty-foot barb-wire topped fences, Sophia decides to use her incarceration to her advantage, learning what she can about the Lycans and about the mysterious Jask himself. What she learns is far more than she ever bargained for: a leader fighting to keep his pack alive, despite imminent threats from the Lycan Control Unit and the Third Species Control Division, a leader fiercely loyal to his pack and yet strong enough to punish those who step out of line and a Lycan who she can’t help but be fascinated by, despite the fact as she is a member of The Alliance, Jask is the one person she shouldn’t be interested in. What ensues is a battle of wills between the feisty, strong-willed serryn and the tough Lycan, with both trying to second guess the other and both vying to be the one who ends up on top.

As always in Blackthorn, the twists and turns will have you eagerly turning each page in anxious anticipation and Lindsay’s canny ability to have you guessing right up until the end is very much evident in Blood Torn. Lycans might be the minor third-species in the dark, grimy streets of Blackthorn, but Lindsay makes them stand out, worthy to sit side by side with the vampires in a way that makes them completely believable, utterly engaging and always intriguing. For me, the vampire girl, I fell completely in love with the Lycans struggle, their intra-pack relationships, their fight against those who would wipe them out and let me tell you, it definitely surprised me, because as much as I knew I would love the book, I never thought I would love the Lycans.

So am I converted? Yes okay, I admit, I’m a Lycan-lover. Just don’t tell Caleb Dehain or Kane Malloy that I said that, okay?

Five stars for this wonderful third Blackthorn instalment!

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Blackthorn Does It Again!

Sequels so rarely hit the mark. I remember reading books two and three in the Blackthorn series and wondering how on earth Lindsay had managed to successfully pull it off. But to reach book four Blood Deep and to find it is even better (if that’s possible?!) than the first three? Surely it can’t be done?

But yes, I’m VERY pleased to say that Blood Deep is very much the crowning glory of the series so far. Before now, we’ve seen Lindsay weave the threads of her plot very expertly throughout the first three books, although she always maintained each could be read as a standalone and not necessarily in order (although I’d urge you to ignore that and go for the sequence read!) and now, in book four, it still amazes me how she can still surprise with each new turn of event, each new twist, whilst also adding into the mix completely new characters who keep the reader hooked from the word go.

It’s a skill to keep readers interested when you get them invested in characters, just to then switch characters in the next book, but somehow, magically, Lindsay manages to do this and quickly you find yourself torn over which ones are your favourite – personally my loyalties lie with Jask AND Eden, and I just ADORE Jessie. She’s another fabulous female character to bring the men to their knees – as do ALL of Blackthorns’s leading ladies – feisty, strong, courageous and with the right amount of vulnerability to make them believable and real.

It’s never easy to work out just where Lindsay will take us in Blackthorn – more supernatural creatures, new villains, wonderful twists and harsh revelations (not to mention the uber sexy scenes!) but I am more excited than ever to read the next book – bring on Blood Dark 2015!

Well done Mrs Blackthorn – five stars!!

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O Captain My Captain!

I’ve no doubt this blog post will be one of the many thousands written today, motivated (because I hate to use the word inspired here, after all, it doesn’t seem quite appropriate to be inspired to write following somebody’s death) by the passing of the great Robin Williams. And I’ve no doubt that the web is being inundated with an outpouring of affection for this funny man, who it turns out didn’t feel quite as funny on the inside as we all saw on the outside.
I never met Robin Williams. I didn’t know him personally. I, like many others, was a fan, having been raised on a diet of Mork and Mindy, Hook, Good Morning Vietnam and many more, but I did not know him. I did not know that he was a man plagued with depression and afflicted by addiction. And yet today, I found myself looking at pictures of him in a very different way. I found myself feeling a connection with this man that I never knew and probably would never have met, even if he had not made the tragic decision to take his own life.
My brush with depression was fleeting compared to Robin Williams. In fact, my experience of this horrible illness was brief compared to the many thousands who have battled with it for most of their lives.
I spent the first two years of my son’s life struggling with this ‘other person’ that I had become, the one that I hid behind smiles and constant reassurances of ‘I’m fine, I’m just tired‘ or ‘I’ll be okay, I don’t need help.’
If you have never suffered from depression or have never been close to someone who has or does experience it, none of this will make much sense to you. You might even think, of someone like Robin Williams, ‘he had everything anyone could wish for. He had wealth and he had fame, what right did he have to feel a bit sad’. I can even understand why you might think that, which might sound a bit strange, but if you’ve never experienced it for yourself, you will think it’s a case of someone feeling sad or down in the dumps.
Of course, I can’t talk for Robin or any other sufferer of depression, but I can try to explain it from my own personal perspective.
Imagine if you will, waking up one day and feeling like a completely different person. Imagine thinking completely differently, most of which is totally irrational (although you convince yourself otherwise). Imagine convincing yourself that everyone around you is against you. Imagine starting to think you are against them, some of them you might even start to hate a bit. Imagine getting in your car everyday and thinking about just putting your foot down and driving somewhere, anywhere, as long as it is far away from everything and everyone you know. Imagine getting up each day and planning your escape, where you will go, what you will do, how you will change your name so nobody can find you.
You can imagine that, but for me, that was my reality and it was my reality every day for at least two years.
And yet every day, I got up, I ironed my husband’s work shirts, I made his lunch, I looked after our young son, I did the grocery shopping, I met friends for lunch, I did the laundry, I chatted to neighbours, I went for walks in the sunshine and I smiled. Sometimes I even laughed out loud. To the outside world I was the same as I ever was, and yet I knew I wasn’t. I was somebody else.
And that’s just how it is. That’s depression, in a very small and very simple nutshell.
Just by coincidence, I bumped into an old friend today. If she ever reads this and realises I am talking about her, I hope she forgives me for writing this, but after I saw her, I thought about her all day, mainly because it had some connection to what I had been feeling since learning about Robin Williams and the memories stirred up by his death. This friend, who I haven’t seen for maybe four or five years, was always the friendliest, bubbliest girl, someone who could talk ten to the dozen without barely coming up for air and who could light up the room with her funny stories and lighthearted chat.
When I saw this girl today, she was sat on a park bench in a children’s playground as her kids played happily around her. Everything about her seemed different. She sat, staring into space, her hands clasped tightly together in her lap and I think if she could have made herself invisible, she would have done so. I watched her for a couple of minutes, in fact, I almost wondered whether I had got it wrong and it wasn’t even her. Maybe I was mistaken? It didn’t seem like her and yet it was.
As soon as she saw me, her whole face changed. The grin appeared, her body language changed, she jumped up and gave me a hug and then she began talking again, ten to the dozen, chatter, chatter, chatter almost as if I were the first person she had spoken to all day. Maybe even all week. We talked about life after children. She mentioned she had been ‘ill’ and didn’t go out much. She didn’t say the actual word at that point but I knew what she meant. I had heard from a mutual friend that maybe she had been suffering since the birth of her children and had become somewhat reclusive. When I looked at her and listened to her talk, I realised she was the person I had been three years ago.
Now I don’t mind talking about having depression, it’s not anything I’m ashamed of, but I know it makes plenty of people uncomfortable when I talk about it. That doesn’t bother me either, that’s more their problem than it is mine. In fact, I think it’s vitally important to talk about it. Because you see, for the most part, people don’t talk about it. They’re scared to talk about it. They’re ashamed to admit they’re not quite coping with life. They’re afraid people will look at them differently.
I get that. I really do. The simple facts are that as a society we don’t cope well with people who don’t cope well. There’s still a huge stigma attached to any form of mental illness and the less we talk about it, the longer that stigma will remain.
And so, I somehow slipped into the conversation with my friend that I had suffered from depression after my son was born. I’m not sure what she thought about that. I’m not sure whether she walked away feeling a little less alone. I’m not sure whether by saying it out loud it made her realise that it was actually okay to say it out loud. I hope so.
Because it is okay. It really is.
And it’s okay to say you’re not coping. Say it to whoever you feel comfortable saying it to. Say it to you parents. Say it to your brother or sister. Say it to your best friend. Say it to your doctor. Pick up the phone and say it to the Samaritans or Mind.
Just say it to someone. Please.

http://www.mind.org.uk/
http://www.samaritans.org/

RIP Robin Williams, your smile will never fade.

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39 Wattpad Wonders for You to Feast on

Evening friends, bloggers, writers and weirdos,

I am sitting here on the Eve of my 39th birthday, otherwise known as ‘that one that’s a little too close to The Big 4-0′ and I’ve had a number of work colleagues today ask me what my plans are for tomorrow’s celebrations.

‘Oh, you know, try not to lament the loss of my youth, buy a pair of mum jeans and slather myself in anti-wrinkle Q10.’

Of course, that’s not quite what I said.

‘A bit of shopping and maybe a spot of dinner.’

Which is very tame, I know, but whatever I do, I thought that maybe a good way to celebrate my birthday, would be to celebrate the talents of my fellow Wattpad writers. Thirty-nine of them to be precise. And why not? One Wattpad wonder for every year of my life so far.

So, if you’re a Wattpad reader and you’re looking for something new to read this Friday 13th, or if you just enjoy seeking out new stories in general, then why not take a peek at this lovely bunch and see if you can find yourself a new favourite author?

By the way, this list comes in no particular order and is not exhaustive, I could easily name many many more. Just saying ;-)

1. @deathofcool
2. @hellvis
3. @alysarden
4. @LaDameBlanche
5. @Lana_sky
6. @AuRevoirSimone
7. @AuthorGMichelle
8. @DavidJThirteen
9. @RodneyVSmith
10. @KateHauxwell
11. @xXSMXx
12. @Kuronoshio
13. @LovinLife808
14. @CaptainDecus
15. @garyjarvis1975
16. @Imogen_Isles
17. @DrSocks
18. @nekohonabara
19. @The-Dark-One
20. @Lydia161290
21. @Reese_Kelly
22. @Sexyglamoruz
23. @MartinDouglas
24. @LizzytheBrit
25. @keepaustinweird
26. @StephanieOlivia
27. @misslittleDHP
28. @CaoimheGrace
29. @northernlights136
30. @Katrina_Crane
31. @ReynaAlvarez
32. @lolly80
33. @CatRyer
34. @CaptainHope
35. @ELatimer
36. @KatherineArlene
37. @Onadustyrock
38. @TaureanDelight
39. @KeathenWench

Go on, take a peek. And if you find any new faves, be sure to come back and let me know!

Enjoy Friday 13th. I shall be eating copious amounts of cake and congratulating myself on buying those mum jeans with the elasticated waistband.

Linz xxxx

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The Rules of Write Club

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Okay, so the first rule of Write Club is……

You’re waiting for the list, right? Hmm. The problem is, I don’t have one. I’ve never had one. I probably never will.

You see the things is, I’m one of these weird writers that simply hates to follow rules. I’ve never understood it. All those ‘How To Write A Novel’ guides. All those ‘Do’s’ and ‘Do Not’s’. There’s something about all those instruction manuals that just scream at me to run in the opposite direction.

When I first started writing (which wasn’t that long ago, as contrary to popular belief, not all writers pen their first novel when they’re barely out of nappies) it was a fairly insular affair. Prompted to do something during the early stages of post-natal depression, I started writing and randomly ended up writing something that resembled a novel. I had an idea I wanted to work on, something which held my interest, and I sat down each day for about an hour and just wrote. I didn’t make notes. I didn’t plot. I didn’t write endless character outlines. I just did it. And that’s pretty much how I still work today.

During that time, I also began to dip my toes into social media more than I ever had. I connected with other writers on Twitter and on blogs and of course, came across the inevitable ‘How to Write’ guides. They’re everywhere, you can’t miss them. Give me a writer, and there are ten more out there telling everyone how to do it. “You want to be a writer? Then buy my book and I’ll tell you how it must be done.” “You want to write a best selling novel? Here’s the guide that you must follow or be cast into the pit of penniless failed writers.”

Okay, I’m being ever so slightly flippant, I know. But, if truth be told, I just don’t get it. And don’t get me wrong, I’m always keen on hearing advice from my fellow writers who have made it in the trad publishing or indie publishing world. That’s important. Crucial, even, because you’re talking to people who can give you a wealth of valuable information. That’s not what I’m talking about here. I’m talking about the people who claim there are hard and fast rules on how to write.

And again, I’m not talking about rules on grammar, sentence structure etc. That is something you should never stop educating yourself about. But I am talking about those who will say: You must do this. You must do that. Look, I’m not saying these people don’t have good advice, in fact, I’m sure some of them have great advice. But you have to remember that what works for one, doesn’t necessarily work for the other. You have to find your own way as a writer and if you catch onto a method that another writer uses and you find that works for you too, then great. But, don’t beat yourself up if it doesn’t. It doesn’t mean you’re doing it wrong and don’t let anyone tell you that you’re wrong.

I’m prompted to write this following a recent conversation with a friend of mine who expressed an interest in joining Wattpad. She wants to start posting her work online, but she’s understandably anxious. Of course, it’s bloody nerve-wracking posting your work on a public forum for the first time. Will people like it? Will people even read it? However, in my friend’s case, her fears have been doubled and why might this be?

She’s currently finishing a creative writing module at college.

Now I studied a creative writing module at university too. Well, actually it was a women in literature poetry module with creative writing elements and yeah, it was scary as hell having to write poetry and read it out loud to the class, but I was fortunate in that we had a very supportive tutor. My friend, however, doesn’t seem to have been blessed with the same. In fact, her tutor sounds exactly like the type of tutor NO creative writing student needs because she’s a ‘it’s my way or the highway’ kind of person. The result? My friend now doubts herself and her abilities. And that just makes my blood boil. Advise. Educate. Support. But don’t damn someone because they don’t want to do things your way.

Another friend of mine, a successful writer who I admire greatly, once told me that she was astounded to learn that I never really plot. But she wasn’t saying that in a negative way, she was merely surprised, because she always plots. It’s her thing. She didn’t berate me at all for not plotting, because she understood clearly that everyone follows their own rules. Again, I reiterate: what works for one doesn’t necessarily work for the other.

Okay so I’m not going to sit here and say that first novel I wrote would win any awards, far from it, and I’m not here to say ‘hey look at me writing a novel and NOT following the rules, you should do that too.’

I’m saying, make your own rules. Take what you think will work for you. Mix and match rules if you need to. Or don’t. It’s up to you.

It’s your Write Club.

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