Wattpad

The Open Novella Contest – Interviews

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I was honoured recently to be asked to take part in an interview with the @CoffeeCommunity profile on Wattpad, all in aid of the fantastic Open Novella Contest – a multi-genre contest to write a 20k novella. The contest has been a huge hit so far, with hundreds of entries and is being featured by multiple profiles across the site, with a chance to win big prizes, including signed books, e-books and the chance to have your story critiqued/polished by experts. The @CoffeeCommunity profile have been reaching out to various Wattpad Stars, Ambassadors, Watty Award Winners and emerging talent, to ask them about their writing process, editing, inspiration and top tips and I was thrilled to be included in the list of some amazing, inspiring Wattpadders.

Hi, Lindsey, thank you for taking the time to get involved with the Open Novella Contest on Wattpad. It’s great to hear from authors like yourself and get to know a little bit about what motivates you to write longer works of fiction.

LC: You’re very welcome! Thank you so much for asking me to join in on the fun and good luck to everyone participating in the contest!

So, to begin, tell us a little bit about yourself as an author on Wattpad. For anyone who hasn’t met you before, how would you describe your fiction?

LC: I’ve been writing on Wattpad now for about five years. My short story The Fan was Featured about three years ago, which is when it pretty much blew up for me and I really started to get noticed, and not long after that I was asked to join the Wattpad Partnership Program (now known as Wattpad Stars) which enabled my work to be paired with brands such as Universal Pictures and the A&E TV network in the States. Somehow along the way I’ve managed to achieve almost 7 million reads across my combined works, including over 2 million alone for my #1 Featured novel, Playing Dead. I’m probably best known for my urban fantasy novels and have two series’s on Wattpad, the very amateur Dark Sanctuary, and the hopefully less amateur The Whitechapel Chronicles, plus I’ve recently started a new UF standalone Hedoschism. I would describe my fiction as dark fantasy with a disturbing edge. My first love was horror fiction, so if you’re looking for a sizzling urban fantasy read, don’t be too surprised if I throw a few unsettling and gut-churning moments your way! I love to take fantasy elements and entrench them into a real setting, whether that be vampires living in the underbelly of modern-day London or spider-eating Grandma’s picking victims at county fairs in the Deep South. 

Writing for sustained periods is a hurdle that every writer, beginner or experienced, faces from time to time. What powers you through those longer bursts of creativity and keeps you focused?

LC: Goodness, great question and I wish I had some secret formula to reveal to all those budding writers out there, but the truth is I am the WORST procrastinator, particularly when writing novels, which can be mammoth projects to undertake. Writing a novel or indeed, a series, can be a hugely daunting thing, especially when you’re desperate for it to take off like a firework, rather than fizzle away like a damp squib, and the tendency to lose focus is something that still haunts me with every project. It’s easier to give up than it is to keep writing. One thing I have discovered recently and would advise to anyone who, like me, has the uncontrollable urge to give up and procrastinate instead, is this: TURN OFF YOUR PHONE. Hide it in your underwear drawer. Let the battery run down to zero. Throw it into an oubliette. Okay, maybe don’t do that, but, if you’re a big social media fan or get distracted by the internet, ditch the damn phone. Phones are a serious risk to creativity, social media is the path to Hell and Hell is a place where people post pictures of their dogs wearing Halloween costumes, where ordinary citizens become raving lunatics and where Trump hangs out when he’s not at the golf course. Seriously. Turn off the phone and just write. I did this recently and was shocked at how much I wrote in just a few hours. For me, it’s definitely going to be the way forward to boosting my creativity and productivity.

What top tips would you advise for getting a novella or a longer piece of fiction off the starting line? What kind of story developments motivate you to see it through to the end?

LC: Now, this is an interesting question because five years ago, I would have just said wing it, sit down and start writing and see where it takes you. I did that with my first series, Dark Sanctuary, but to be fair, I think the disastrous consequences of that is evident in the story itself. These days, things are a little different. Every writer is unique, so I’m kind of loath to tell anyone to do this or do that, but I don’t write anything now without at least some semblance of a plan. For me, getting a novella or novel off the starting line, is all about being able to see the finish line in the distance and know exactly where I’m heading. I start by plotting my first and last chapters and then it’s about how to arc the story through from start to finish. Sounds easy when I say it like that, and of course, it’s not easy at all and things will always change as I’m writing, but I find that having a plan is invaluable, as is fleshing out your characters before you start. You can’t write a novel if you don’t know who your characters are. What do they look like? How do they move/walk/gesture? How do they speak (a good tip here is to ensure they all sound different so that if you removed dialogue tags, would your reader know who was talking – try it, it works, honest!)? What’s their back story (you don’t have to tell your readers this straight away, but it’s important that YOU know)? Get your characters and plot bedded down and you’re ready to don your running shoes and get off that starting line like the Mo Farah of the literary world. 

How much do you edit on the fly? Or do you prefer to edit after you’ve finished the initial draft?

LC: Oh, I edit ALL THE DAMN TIME. I can’t actually move on to writing the next chapter without re-reading and editing the previous one. I haven’t quite decided whether it’s actually a failing of mine that I do this, or whether it’s a good thing to strive for perfection, but it doesn’t seem to be a habit I’ll ever be able to break. I must admit, however, that sometimes I think it cripples me a little in that I struggle to just sit down and keep writing, because I’m too focused on editing a previous chapter. Trust me when I say that every Wattpad chapter I upload has been through a gruelling journey of at least five-ten edits before I post, which is probably why it takes me so bloody long to write a book!

Personally, what kind of novella — be it any style, theme, or genre — would you like to see emerge from the Open Novella Contest?

LC: I’m going to forgo the whole question of theme or genre, because to be fair, I am obviously a big fan of anything paranormal/fantasy/horror, but to me, that’s not the most important thing here and these days, I’m discovering I’ll read just about anything as long as the writing is good. What I would like to see are brave writers. Writers who, no matter what genre they chose, are brave enough to buck trends and not strive for the popularity route, writers who dare to be individuals. Wattpad is a place where trend and popularity is key and I see many wannabe writers falling into the trap of chasing popularity by churning out clone fiction of what they think is popular, I also see well-established writers switching genres or writing particular themes, because they want to chase the reads and capture a certain audience. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with wanting to be popular and gain reads, but if you’re going to do it, do it by being yourself. Be daring with your novel, be willing to push boundaries, challenge your readers. I want to see brave fiction by brave writers!

Lastly, because we’re always curious… What was your first ever experience with the power of the written language?

LC: Okay, this is probably going to sound weird, particularly as I don’t even remember the name of the poet or the poem itself, but I remember reading a poem in the school library when I was a kid that has NEVER left me to this day. The poem was about a boy who hated the moths that came into his bedroom at night, and I vividly recall the part where the moth forced its way into his mouth, which yeah, is a pretty damn freaky poem to be hanging around in a school library, and absolutely contributed to my life-long fear of moths and my life-long love of horror. I’ve never forgotten that poem. I’ve never forgotten how petrified I was, but how utterly fascinated I was by it at the same time. To me, that’s the ultimate power of the written language – poetry or fiction that pulls you in, captivates you and stays with you for your whole life.

It’s been great hearing from you, Lindsey, and thank you for sharing your valuable knowledge in storytelling.

Best wishes in your future endeavours from the Open Novella Team.

Find the interview here plus interviews with other wonderful Wattpadders.

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Random stuff

Negative Feedback for a BLOGGER

So this is an interesting perspective! Book fans attacking bloggers for not leaving favourable reviews. I understand fandoms. I’ve ever been involved in a few and trust me when I say that SOME fans can get ALL KINDS of crazy. Why would you attack a blogger for not liking a book you never wrote yourself? Well, I wouldn’t personally, but I can see why ‘some’ fans would. Passion and obsession do funny things to people … But let’s be honest: it’s just an opinion and yeah, it might not be one that you agree with, but wouldn’t life be dull if we all liked the same shit? (And I say this coming out of a day of opposing views in the UK where 16 million people are pissed AF, me included).
My advice: know where to draw the line. Disagree, sure. Debate even. But don’t resort to name-calling, abuse and downright offensive behaviour just because someone disagrees with your point of view. Otherwise you’re one step away from being known as Trolly McTrollface.

paranormal romance · urban fantasy

Review time! Blood Instinct by Lindsay J Pryor

Logging onto my WordPress blog in what was simply forever, I couldn’t help but smile when I realised the last blog post I made was a review for Lindsay J Pryor’s last instalment of the deeply delicious Blackthorn series. I should, of course, blog here more often, but if I only ever venture into the world of WordPress to review Lindsay’s books, then that’s totally fine with me and well worth the visit. 

So in my last review of Blood Dark, I made a point of declaring that it was Lindsay’s best work to date and that no doubt, I’d be saying the same thing for the next release and guess what? Yup. I was right. I’d love to say that I hold some supernatural psychic abilities to predict the future and THAT’S how I knew the sixth instalment in the series would be the best yet, but I’m afraid it has more to do with Lindsay’s talent and far less to do with my superhero spidey senses. The plain facts are that Lindsay is to writing, what Helen Mirren is to acting – a freaking do-no-wrong goddess!!! 

Having been a fan since Blood Shadows, I don’t think I could ever have predicted just how the story would unfold. For me, it’s gone from a dark and gritty paranormal romance set in the dangerous backstreets of a fictional world, to something that has reached epic proportions, where the sizzling relationships between our characters sits alongside key themes of social inequality, segregation, prejudice and supremacism. Now I know that might seem a little heavy for your average PNR, but the facts are that Blackthorn has NEVER been your average PNR and I believe, it’s part and parcel of what has kept me desperate for more after each release. What’s intrinsically powerful about Blackthorn is that it creates incredible empathy and passion in its readers – the world that Lindsay has created in Blackthorn, with its devilish politics, power plays and twists, had made a massive difference to the allure of the series and Lindsay’s world-building skills, in my opinion, are not praised nearly enough. Yes, we know she can write captivating characters. Yes, we know she can write hot scenes to rival JR Ward. Yes, we know she can inspire FEELS by the bucketload. But it’s the world that she has created behind all that, which provides the whole backdrop to the story – this is what makes it so blooming REAL. Quite frankly, open up a Lindsay J Pryor book, and you’re opening up a three-dimensional feast for the senses and if you’re going to step into that world, well, you’d better be prepared to start running because the action in Blackthorn never stops. 

This is definitely the case with Blood Instinct. Back to everybody’s favourite lycan, Jask Tao (he’s certainly mine!) and his partner Sophia, we find Jask battling to prevent his pack from being unjustly slaughtered by the powerful political forces at work in Blackthorn, while Sophia is battling forces of a very different kind. I loved the dark turn their relationship took in this book, it was at times difficult to stomach but captivating none-the-less, when being together became far more risky for them – Jask and Phia have always been effortlessly hot, but Blood Instinct takes things to a much darker and more gut-wrenching level. Combined with the ever present threat of the vampire prophecy and the sinister presence of the fourth species lurking in the shadows, the action in this book was so exciting and so thrilling that I almost wished I could strap myself in, just in case I fell off the sofa in shock of it all. In fact, I’m not even sure how I managed to reach the end without turning blue and passing out, because I definitely felt I should be holding my breath throughout!

As usual, I’m not going to say too much else regarding the plot, mainly because by book six, it’s REALLY hard to discuss without hitting everyone around the face with big fat spoilers, so I’ll just say that if you want an intoxicating read that will leave you breathless and reeling for days afterwards, then Blood Instinct is the book for you. 

Just don’t forget the safety harness. 

Five beautiful big glittery stars for this wickedly wonderful read! 

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Blood-Instinct-Blackthorn-Paranormal-Romance-ebook/dp/B01DWURCFU/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1462481615&sr=1-1&keywords=blood+instinct+lindsay+j+pryor
  

Short Stories · Wattpad

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

 

Short Stories · Wattpad

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

  

paranormal romance · urban fantasy

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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paranormal romance · urban fantasy

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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