deadlyeverafter

The Writing Adventures of The Undead Duo–Julie Hutchings and Kristen Strassel

This one will burn your pasties off!

deadlyeverafter:

I did an awesome interview with local author JC Stockli. Keep reading, and then go pick up her book, The Nothingness! I know you already want it from that title! Manson or Bust, JC!!

Originally posted on J.C. Stockli:

Damn! Is it July already? I was not prepared for that.

Ah well, in the meantime, I’ve been writing and reading like crazy. I managed to finagle fellow New England Chapter Romance Writers of America member, Kristen Strassel, to swing by the blog. She’s recently released this wicked sexy vamp book (THE FIRE DANCER), the first book in the CIRQUE MACABRE series. I was instantly drawn in to the first page, and now she’s by the blog. So, yay!

As noted above, Kristen is a member of NECRWA and writes paranormal and contemporary romance. More than that, she’s also a make-up artist with some fantastic hair. A girl after my own heart, Kristen’s a bit of a music junky. And if you’ve ever checked out her bio, you’d now she has a sparkling smile J  I know, staulkery, right?  But seriously folks, she writes what she knows and loves… and…

View original 1,657 more words

MONDAY GRATITUDE with Julie

TODAY’S BREW: The bottoms of the bags of coffee. If this were a sandwich made of the last pieces of all the meat, it would be called a hoffaloney sandwich. This is a coffaloney.

By Julie

My little world is weird, and it’s very funny in the right light, but also I’m subject to a day now and again where I say WHAT THE HELL THIS ALL SUCKS SO MUCH CAN I HAVE ONE NORMAL FRIGGING DAY PLEASE?

Yesterday was that day. Today is the day I take a page from one of my closest friends, Jolene Haley, and write a Monday Gratitude blog. I feel better already.

First, a short list of some of the things that have happened in the past two weeks:

  • car broken into
  • covered in black sticky mud after saving Sam from low tide. Mud so thick that a passerby said “nice tattoos!” regarding my legs but IT WAS MUD which I then washed in a public bathroom sink, in a skirt, while the town officials wandered around the property doing assessments.
  • insurance turned down the med that Sam absolutely needs and is perfect for him but approved TWO meds that are absolutely wrong.
  • my phone dies if it isn’t plugged in
  • I don’t want to change diapers anymore.
  • Pizza man walked in my back door, into my house. I hadn’t ordered pizza.
  • I’m boring myself already, let’s get to the good stuff.

MONDAY GRATITUDE

Ten things that make me happy.

  1. The kids asking me as soon as we wake up if we can stay home today.
  2. ANYONE CAN MARRY WHOEVER THEY WANT TO AND THERE’S NO SUCH THING AS GAY MARRIAGE ANYMORE, IT’S ALL JUST REGULAR MARRIAGE.
  3. I have two eighties robots that I rescued from eBay.
  4. Finished writing a story, the first short piece I’ve done in a loooooong time and I really like it.
  5. Had an apocalypse dream starring Ryan Reynolds. Awesome.
  6. https://youtu.be/6JCLY0Rlx6Q
  7. My friend Brett Jonas sent me a bunch of awesome goodies from her family’s farm, http://goatmilkstuff.com/ and she just rescued a stuck kitten also.
  8. People that make movies asked about my book and even if none of them ever pick it up, that alone is more joy than I can even stand.
  9. Bennett got all Outstanding on his report card after going through THREE teacher changes in second grade.
  10. We rescued a fish at the beach the other day.

The awesome thing is that I have SO MUCH MORE than ten things to list, far more than the other crappy list. As a matter of fact, I might write one of these every damn day for a while.

As always, I have the most incredible people in my life, people who inspire me as a mom, people who encourage me as a writer, people who support me as a friend, people who love me as a Julie.

Cover Reveal! LINK by Summer Wier

TODAY’S BREW: *pulls up bucket of grounds*

By Julie

I’m sooooooooooooooo happy to reveal the cover for LINK by Summer Wier! I know this book very well and can’t WAIT for the rest of you to hold it in your grubby hands. Without further ado:

link-final-front

About LINK:
For seventeen-year-old Kira, there’s no better way to celebrate a birthday than being surrounded by friends and huddled beside a campfire deep in the woods. And with a birthday in the peak of summer, that includes late night swims under the stars.

Or at least, it used to.

Kira’s relaxing contemplation of the universe is interrupted when a piece of it falls, colliding with her and starting a chain of events that could unexpectedly lead to the one thing in her life that’s missing—her father.

Tossed into a pieced-together world of carnivals and gypsies, an old-fashioned farmhouse, and the alluring presence of a boy from another planet, Kira discovers she’s been transported to the center of a black hole, and there’s more to the story than science can explain. She’s now linked by starlight to the world inside the darkness. And her star is dying.

If she doesn’t return home before the star’s light disappears and her link breaks, she’ll be trapped forever. But she’s not the only one ensnared, and with time running out, she’ll have to find a way to save a part of her past and a part of her future, or risk losing everything she loves.
Dreamy, fluid, and beautiful, LINK pairs the mystery of science fiction with the minor-key melody of a dark fantasy, creating a tale that is as human as it is out of this world.

Add LINK on Goodreads! https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/23111822-link

About The Author:

Summer Wier

Summer Wier grew up spending Saturdays with a maxed out library card and her nose in a book. But as much as she loved reading, and even writing, both took the back seat when it came to career choices. With her sights set on law school, corporate greatness, and even a hankering to become the first female president, she set off to conquer the world. As life would have it, though, she didn’t attend law school, nor did she become president (although, one day, your vote may be appreciated), finding her strengths, instead, in accounting and business management. After finishing her MBA, she revived her love for reading and began writing with dreams of finishing a book of her own. When Summer isn’t working, reading, or writing, she’s trying to keep up with two energetic girls and her husband, and dreaming of the mountains of Montana.

LINK is her debut young adult sci-fi novel, the first in THE SHADOW OF LIGHT trilogy.

Find more of Author Summer Wier on her website, twitter, facebook, or goodreads.

Accidental Themes & Being Human: a Guest Post by Cassandra Page

TODAY’S BREW: Whatever Sammy wants. He’s sad school is out.

By Julie

I’m a character writer and editor. I strongly feel that your story’s plot can be the most original and exciting thing to grace the book pages since The Bible and if the character doesn’t drive the story and make you feel, nobody will care. Coincidentally, your plot can be very straightforward and something that’s “been done” a million times, but if the character is complex and rich, that keeps a person reading. Of course, the gold star we all search for is the melding of both things, which requires a lot of research, a lot of editing, and a lot of heart.

This is something our good friend and gifted author, Cass Page, knows a little something about. So I asked her to tell me about how Isla of ISLA’S INHERITANCE came to be such a thoughtful and exciting character. (Also, follow Cass on Twitter https://twitter.com/CassandraPage01 and enter to win an e copy of the book! Tweet #IslasInheritance!)

Accidental themes and being human

by Cassandra Page

I am an unrepentant geek. I play computer games, have a crush on the Doctor and was sorted into Ravenclaw. My geek t-shirt collection is formidable, my coat is kind of a brownish colour, and I role-play—including the bastion of geek awesome that is Dungeons and Dragons. Before I had my son, I used to live action role-play too, dressing up as a vampire or werewolf and physically acting out my characters.

All that role-playing—especially the live-action stuff, which by its nature is immersive—gave me a great foundation on which to build when I sat down to write my first novel, Isla’s Inheritance. Coming up with role-playing characters in games you’re invested in is a lot like coming up with characters for a novel. In both cases, you can spend months or years getting inside the character’s head, thinking about what drives them, living with them through their triumphs and their failures. When my first live-action character died, I cried for days. It was like losing a friend. Like the world’s most epic book hangover.

Of all the characters I’ve created, Isla from my Isla’s Inheritance trilogy is one of my favourites. She’s not as crazy as the berserker teenage vampire I had, and she doesn’t worship dark gods like the Egyptian priestess who wanted to sacrifice the world to Set. She can’t shoot an arrow through someone’s eye at ridiculous distances like my ranger, and she’s never run a brothel while looking like an eighteenth century school mistress.

What Isla has is heart.

I didn’t set out at the beginning of the series with a theme like a compass in my hand, partly because it was my first novel and I was too busy worrying about whether I’d packed water and if my shoes were too tight! I knew I wanted to tell a coming-of-age tale, explore how a sceptical seventeen year old copes with discovering the father she adores has been keeping secrets from her that will change her life.

And I wanted to have fun doing it.

It only slowly dawned on me, after I’d finished the second book in the series and was plotting the third, that the underlying theme to Isla’s story was being human. The discovery reminded me of Stephen King’s observation in On Writing that the story is like a dinosaur’s bones, just waiting to be unearthed.

There are so many books with paranormal protagonists out there; I read a lot of urban fantasy, and I love a good story about people who think the world is normal discovering there is so much more to it. Discovering they have hidden superpowers.

Isla is a half-fae whose powers manifest largely as empathy. Together, she and I got to explore morality, love and what she is willing to sacrifice of herself to save those she cares about. We got to see what makes a person who they are. My books are about people struggling with what it is to be human and other, and to become an adult, all at the same time. And that’s kind of cool.

Although maybe not for my characters. ;)

Three covers together

About Cassandra 

Cassandra

Cassandra Page is a mother, author, editor and geek. She lives in Canberra, Australia’s bush capital, with her son and two Cairn Terriers. She has a serious coffee addiction and a tattoo of a cat. She has loved to read since primary school, when the library was her refuge, and loves many genres—although urban fantasy is her favourite. When she’s not reading or writing, she engages in geekery, from Doctor Who to AD&D. Because who said you need to grow up?

All three books in the ISLA’S INHERITANCE trilogy are now available: http://cassandrapage.com/islas-inheritance/

JULIE ANNOUNCES ALL THE THINGS!

TODAY’S BREW: The Vanilla of France

By Julie

Holy mother of all Hell and creatures of many shapes and sizes, I HAVE THINGS TO SAY. So many of them, I cannot fit them all here but I will goddamn try.

First. FIRST. There’s this amazing podcast, Haunted Nights Live? Yeah, Christopher Rice was on last week. You know, CHRISTOPHER RICE. Go ahead, go listen:  http://t.co/vn8mGyiVeW. Then in a couple of weeks? Laurell K. Hamilton will be on. OH YOU KNOW, LAURELL K. HAMILTON. And right in between them, this Thursday, June 11th? OH IT WILL BE ME ON HAUNTED NIGHTS LIVE, BETWEEN THOSE FOLKS. You know, just Chris Ricey and ol’ LKH. Holy Christ.

Annnnyway, it’s on Thursday, June 11th at 9pm EST. Like Thorne & Cross: Haunted Nights Live so you can get the heads up when I talkeroo: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Thorne-Cross-Haunted-Nights-LIVE/360703350753608 and/or also at Authors on the Air here: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorsOnTheAir.

PRETTY PLEASE LISTEN TO ME! I’m giving away a couple of signed copies of RUNNING HOME, and I have things to yap about and you know me….I have OPINIONS.

Also, I’ll probably talk about OH NOTHING, JUST THAT FINALLY, FINALLY THE HARPY HAS FOUND A HOME AND IT COULD NOT POSSIBLY BE A BETTER HOME I COULD NOT BE MORE EXCITED.

REUTS Publications has given the bitter, brutal, anti-Batman, Charity Blake a go. You guys. This is really emotional for me. Charity is close to my heart because she’s close to nobody’s heart. But you want her on the page. You guys are going to love/fear/want to hang out with/run fast from her.

For the full press release, and to read a little more about what to expect, here’s my new publishing home!  http://blog.reuts.com/julie_hutchings_signs_the_harpy/

But if you want some quickies, which Charity isn’t afraid to give, she’s a little of this:

charity burlesque

Maybe not that sweet though, she’s got a lot of this:

steampunk charityboozin

But with more booze and raw meat? Oh, there’s also some of this:

EvanRobbieBut also a place kind of like this:

harpies danteBut more fun than THAT, for crying out loud. Like this:

red hellAnd with folks like these:

harpy hell

harpy skull

But to lighten the mood, there’s one of these:

canary

You guys will be into it, I promise! Go add that girl on Goodreads! https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/25665403-the-harpy?from_search=true&search_version=service_impr Support that you don’t always want the good girl to win.

Anyhow, thank you guys for being here when I want to blab at you and please listen on Thursday! YOU OWE ME. You totally don’t, but listen anyway.

THE HARPY IS COMING TO LIFE WITH REUTS PUBLICATIONS!

TODAY’S BREW: champagne.

By Julie

I’ve been waiting to give this news for a long time. Another day will be ALL MY FEELINGS about it. There are so many.

Read the full press release here: http://blog.reuts.com/julie_hutchings_signs_the_harpy/

Julie Hutchings Signs Dark Fantasy/Horror Mythology with REUTS

Posted by on Jun 4, 2015 in Press Release | No Comments

a-harpy

It’s about to get dark and twisted up in here. That’s the life Charity Blake lives in the newest addition to the REUTS collection—THE HARPY, by the lovely Julie Hutchings. In this incredibly moving and imaginative tale, Julie brings the mythology of the harpy to life in a way you’ve never seen before. We’re thrilled to bring this amazing story to the world! And trust us, it’s all parts dark and all parts twisted to become 200% awesome. It’s not for the faint of heart, that’s for sure, but it will have you holding your breath, choking back tears, and vigorously turning pages until the very end. Read a little bit about it:

“Hutchings beautifully breathes life into anti-heroine Charity Blake in a way that punches your gut and pulls at your heart at the same time. When eternity in Hell is more appealing than the life she’s made, Charity has to question if it’s possible to fix what–and who–she’s broken. The Harpy delivers a powerful story of hurt, revenge, and redemption, with emotion-filled prose and gripping imagery.”

Worldbuilding: Preparing to Build Your World with Julie

TODAY’S BREW: Fancee coffee from Mistobox because Sam won’t let me go to the store to get cheap stuff, and hasn’t for 3 days.

By Julie

A friend suggested I write a post on worldbuilding. My immediate response was, “I’m not good enough at it yet.” So, this is exactly why I’m writing a post on it.

It would be easy to write only about things I know, just like someone famous said about writing book, actually. If you know it, you have something valuable to add. Well, I think writing about things you’re unsure of is what drives you to become an expert in them. You try harder. You have to, or you’ll look like a jackass.

I didn’t think I built worlds all the time, but I do actually, and have a hell of a process for doing so. I’m going to do a short series of posts on what I do to build a world, because it’s hard work and something anyone can do if they put the work in. This post is about getting ready to build your world.

Even though I forge ahead and dive into my work as if I know exactly what I’m doing, I PREPARE to build a world.

I look to the greats: Chuck Wendig is always the first place I look. http://terribleminds.com/ramble/2013/09/17/25-things-you-should-know-about-worldbuilding/

I take notes. On important stuff like know the world’s rules to adhere to them, but the reader doesn’t need to know them all. Oh wow, that’s important. You know how you keep reading articles and lists about the things you didn’t know about Hogwarts? Because Rowling knew the rules, but we didn’t have to. You WANT to tell the reader everything…..but it’s “masturbatory,” as Chuck says. I realized that in exposition of a world you’ve made, the same rules still apply….. if it doesn’t move the story forward, it has to go. Not to mention that yeah, it’s cool to have a world where the author has thought of everything and goddamn do you know it, but I want to create worlds that INSPIRE and have tone. I want my worlds to have mystery. There’s a fine line between having mystery and coming across as half-cooked.

How do you not appear to be half-cooked? Chuck also says to know how the real stuff works in your fancy-land. Do your research. I know what vegetables and fruits grow on the mountains in Japan in winter, for instance. Add in the flourishes of realism that make your place real. You can only do that by knowing them.

The other guy I pay attention to is John Scalzi, who said something that I won’t forget. Make sure your world is 2 questions deep. http://whatever.scalzi.com/2009/08/21/worldbuilding-briefly/  On every page, if a reader asks why, I should have answers for that, and a backup answer for it. Again, if  the reader asks. I don’t have to give all the answers first. Let their imaginations wander.

I pay attention to video games. I’m not a gamer, but video games have worlds as complex as any novel on a good day. There’s a lot to be learned from video game worlds for a writer:

  • They’re visual. I can see the world. The trick is to look at the game like a writer. Everything is both complex and simply done. Lighting creates a scene. How would I describe the lighting, as a writer? Watch a bunch of YouTube clips of games and ask yourself questions. Just from looking at him, what do I know about that character? How would I say it in my words? That kinda thing.
  • Video games suck you in. So if I jump into a game mid-story, what keeps me there? How can I make my reader feel like they’re already part of a story that’s been going on all along? How can I make my world easily understood, but still deep? Games show you that.
  • Read articles written by gamers and designers. They tell you things.

Stop me if you heard this one, but I read books. Read like you’re looking to learn. This is why I read so strategically–I have an agenda. I read a book looking for something in particular. With THE HUNGER GAMES, I wanted to know how Panem was so convincing and steeped in so much history, without us being hit over the head with backstory. With DIVERGENT I wanted to see how the world shaped the way characters spoke, how mannerisms were a product of their environment. With Valente’s Fairyland series I look for the ways in which the world is painted so richly that I can see it but never feel inundated with description. So on and so forth. Take notes.

Make your world all over you like a cheap sweater. Notebooks forever. For THE WIND BETWEEN WORLDS, I have two 5 subject notebooks PACKED, a 3 subject notebook, a scrapbook, an inspiration board, a million Pinterest boards….. I keep track. I surround myself with the world as much as I can so it’s bursting onto paper when I’m ready.

I make the minutiae central, but only to me. Goddamn do I have fun with this. If my MC wears a piece of jewelry to represent her place in the world, I search for the damn thing. Etsy, Pinterest, Amazon, art shops, craft stores…. until I have the vision of the thing I want so deeply ingrained and have turned down so many options that the one I’ve created in my head is more real than anything I’ve seen. I hunted down a decades old magazine for a photo I saw on some website because the tone of it was exactly what the tone of a particular scene was. I gather up bits and pieces of things that contribute to my vision like a frigging bobcat making a nest or whatever bobcats do. I like to see it all in front of me so I can make it REAL.

Then when I start to write, I boil down the feeling of it all into very careful wording so YOU feel that it’s real. Building a world has purpose: to give the reader someplace they feel they know, or to give them somewhere to escape to. Sometimes both. So take it seriously and get yourself ready. Commit to it so the reader will be committed, too.

The Night Songs Collection is on SALE!

Today is:

by Kristen

Happy Chocolate Chip Pizza Party Day!  Here’s where vampire month gets fun.  If you haven’t checked out my vampire books, now is the time!  Every title in The Night Songs Collection is 99 cents each through May 20.  Some of these have never been on sale before.

night songs sale 2

Because the Night: http://amzn.to/1H6H5WO

Sex, Blood And Rock n’ Roll 

Immortal Dilemma is the hottest band in the Las Vegas vampire rock scene. They draw insatiable fans from around the globe, thanks to a supernatural attraction called Bloodlust. Tristan craved such an opportunity to fill his empty mortal life, and now he has eternity to earn his place along the legends of rock n roll debauchery.

Callie always feared that Tristan’s excesses would get him into trouble, but she never thought they’d lead him to immortality. To reconnect with him, she must weave her way through a world not only she had no idea existed, but does not welcome her.

Blade turned down a spot in Immortal Dilemma after learning what he must sacrifice for that lifestyle. He finds Callie a refreshing change from the girls in the vampire rock scene. When Callie drags Blade back into the world of Immortal Dilemma, his resistance drives her into the waiting arms of Tristan, who shows her the true meaning of Bloodlust.

But the very things that Callie fights so hard to save are the very things that fight to destroy her.

Night Moves: http://amzn.to/1EKmS7A

We bonded in darkness, over darkness.

Melanie Vaughn’s job ruined everything. Her social life, nonexistent. Her relationship with her boyfriend, a hostile roommate situation. She resolves to fix everything one snowy afternoon, but instead comes home to discover her boyfriend is already exploring other options. Blonder, bustier options. Rage drives Melanie to do the unthinkable.

When Soul Divider was on the top of the world, so was Ryder Maddox. When the band faded into obscurity, Ryder’s luck plummeted with it. In a last ditch effort to rekindle the band’s heyday, Soul Divider teams up with powerful vampire clan leader, Talis de Rancourt. In return for her services, the band pays the ultimate price for never ending fame.

Now on the run, Melanie meets Ryder in a middle of nowhere hotel. She never expected her teenage rock star crush to be as lost and as in need of a companion as she is. Their connection is all consuming, even before they find they share another kinship: murder.

The newly turned vampires in Soul Divider still have a lot to learn. The police and public begin to connect the girls that go missing or die in sync with the band’s tour schedule. Back at home, clues are also adding up against Melanie as well. Between constant media coverage and unrelenting attention from the authorities, Melanie and Ryder find themselves in uncharted territory.
We Own the Night: http://amzn.to/1ICbnX7

The Ultimate Manipulation.
Callie Chabot would stop at nothing to save her ex-boyfriend Blade Bennett from the clutches of vampire clan leader Talis de Rancourt, even if means becoming immortal herself. What she doesn’t know is that Blade has already defeated Talis, and he’s waiting for Callie in the afterlife.
Now Callie only has her creator, Tristan Trevosier, to turn to for guidance. But he’s too wrapped up in the debauchery of the Las Vegas rock scene to give a damn about the particulars of being undead. That’s enough to drive Callie crazy on its own, but female vampires are automatic clan leaders.
Not only does Callie have no idea how to wrangle a vampire clan, but her would-be followers have more to gain from her failure. They instead choose to follow Blade—and he’s hell-bent on making Callie pay for her bad decisions. Since he took out the existing clan leader, that automatically puts him at the helm of what should be Callie’s new clan.
A Master of Deception.
That’s when seasoned rogue vampire, Cash Logan, shows up, shrouded in magic and mystery. No one is sure which side Cash is on, but Callie needs to take a chance on the one vampire who is willing to give her the answers she needs, no matter how dark and frightening they may be. Callie must trust her instincts and form alliances that may backfire. Cash shows Callie that playing nice is no longer an option, and that fixing her wrongs won’t always make everything right.
To take control of her clan, Callie must look to her rival to discover exactly what makes her a leader.
Silent Night: http://amzn.to/1PKnxfk

This Christmas isn’t about celebration for eighteen-year-old Kyndra, it’s about survival. Grieving the loss of her grandmother and struggling with the indifference of her family, Kyndra now splits her time between her dead-end mall job, her junkie ex-boyfriend’s bed, and the streets. Longing to be close to her grandmother one more time, she wanders into Christmas Eve mass and prays she’ll find the place she belongs. Home.

Aidan isn’t ready to let go of the past either, even though he’s had nearly three hundred years to do it. He chronicles the search for the reincarnation of his beloved wife as the vampire romance author Allison Duprois. Aidan knows the wife he mourns is out there, but fears writing their story is as close as he will get to her.

At Christmas Eve mass, he finally finds her. Alone, with no place to go.

Aidan brings Kyndra into his home, and gives her the safety, comfort and love she longs for. Though he gives her second chances she never thought she’d have, Kyndra still can’t get over Aidan’s mysterious past. Not to mention that he claims that he’s a vampire. Life alone on the streets is dangerous enough without handing her trust and love to the wrong person. Can Aidan break through the walls around Kyndra’s hardened heart to convince her that she belongs with him, forever?

What I Read When I Write by the Magnificent Jen Lillis

TODAY’S BREW: It’s Mother’s Day. WHATEVER I DAMN PLEASE.

 By Julie

Jen Lillis is the most unique person I’ve ever met on Twitter. Let that sink in. She sent me stinky vintage cookbooks from a basement complete with her own personal notes. So that’s impossible to top. Want to know what else she’s reading and how it helps her write? WELL HERE GOES.

This was a great idea for a blog series (though honestly, it’s Julie, so I’d have participated even if the topic was METAPHORICALLY COMPARE YOUR NEW BOOK TO THE ZONING LAWS OF YOUR HOME STATE).
I’m so grateful to the books I read during the drafting process. All of them–even the ones I don’t connect with–either teach me something, yank me out of a funk, or help me solve a problem in my WIP.
This one’s been a bear. So I’ve been reading a lot.
My latest YA novel (still untitled) is narrated by Barrie: pop-music obsessive, dogged optimist, and super-ambitious singer-songwriter. Her number-one goal is to win an American Idol-type reality competition called Pop University–but when she’s booted off early in favor of a devious neo-folk chick with tons of natural talent, she comes up with an…ah, unusual Plan B for achieving her dream.
Here are the books that have helped me the most while I spin this weird little story:

Joan Bauer, Squashed

If you’re writing a snarky, cynical YA heroine, there’s no shortage of strong narrators you can turn to for voicespiration. If you’re writing a wildly ambitious optimist, literary role models are harder to come by. I dug deep in my vintage YA archive, bypassing a 7th Heaven novelization called Winter Ball, and decided to revisit this gem from 1992. Joan Bauer proves that goodhearted, glass-half-full narrators can still be goddamn funny, and so many of her books are master classes in writing offbeat heroines with big ambitions. She takes goals that could be perceived as silly–growing a giant pumpkin, for example–and infuses them with gravity and urgency. That’s just what I’m trying to do with Barrie, and I hope I can pull it off as well as Bauer does.

Peter Shaffer, Amadeus
Since I started this book, I’ve been joking that it’s like Amadeus with female singer-songwriters. So I picked up the play again–hadn’t read it since college–and took another tour of Salieri’s jealous heart. Barrie is in kind of a similar position: a musician with noble goals who’s toiled and sacrificed for a shot at greatness, and then gets effortlessly upstaged by a true natural. (The music is probably better in Amadeus. I’m trying.)
David Levithan, Hold Me Closer
It’s tough to write a book about music. If you describe something visual well enough, your reader can see it; if you describe food, readers can almost taste it based on past experience. But it’s harder to make readers “feel” a song they haven’t heard before–even if you quote lyrics, you’re still giving them a skeleton without flesh and blood.
I’ve been looking for good, innovative examples of how to communicate the power of song within a novel, and Hold Me Closer is a book that’s kind of emboldened me. It’s a novel in the form of a musical script, and the story unfolds in the lyrics and sharp, funny stage directions. I’m not sure it completely works, but it definitely opened my mind to creative new ways of weaving music into a narrative and illuminating its significance to a character. Tiny Cooper isn’t just in love with music–he’s practically made of music. That’s what I’m trying to get across with Barrie, and I hope readers will feel that.
A.S. King, Ask the Passengers
This is my first f/f romance, so I’m turning to a master for inspiration. I’d be thrilled if my book turned out half as good as an A.S. King; she’s one of the best YA authors around. Her MC talks to planes and Socrates and it’s awesome instead of annoying. LIKE HOW DOES THAT EVEN HAPPEN.
June Foley, It’s No Crush, I’m In Love
jen lillis post
the FABULOUS, 1982-tastic cover of one of the books I mentioned (photographed in its natural habitat on my vintage YA bookshelf
I have an unreasonable amount of love for this severely underrated treasure from 1982. Describing this book does it a disservice, because it sounds like the B plot of an old Who’s the Boss? episode (young teen girl nurses massive unrequited crush on hot English teacher), but the odd-couple friendship between reserved main character Annie and the candid, uproarious Susanna Siegelbaum is more than worth the price of admission. I reread parts of this every time I need to write snappy banter between my two MCs. It’s my aspirational blueprint. (Seriously, this book is so charming–if you ever see it at a library or garage sale, pick it up. It should have won all the prizes, including Best Cover Mustache.)
Bob Stanley, Yeah! Yeah! Yeah!: The Story of Pop Music from Bill Haley to Beyonce 
My two MCs are really well versed in the history of pop music, though they approach it from different angles. So to fill the gaps in my own knowledge, I’ve been slowly digesting this thick, engaging history of pop from 1955 to present. I don’t think Barrie would approve of how cheerfully Stanley lobs spitballs at sacred cows–he describes Talking Heads as “a bunch of male musicians trying to impress Tina Weymouth with their chops”–but she’d certainly like his passion and intellectual engagement with pop in all its forms. It’s the most fun I’ve ever had doing book research.
In the words of my favorite guitarist, the forever-underrated Lindsey Buckingham, that’s all for everyone. Hope you liked this peek at my reading list–stay tuned, ’cause when the book is finally out I’ll probably be back here doing a random interview about jello molds and my favorite hats of 1994. Thanks to Julie for having me over!
Jen Lillis is the YA author of HOW TO REPAIR A MECHANICAL HEART and WE WON’T FEEL A THING. Lover of geeks, robots, villainous queens, haunted dollhouses, & argyle socks. Follow her https://twitter.com/jclillis and http://t.co/v43Zp75D0e.

Meet Cash Logan (Snippets from The Fire Dancer)

Today is: National Coconut Cream Pie Day, National Have A Coke Day,National Military Spouse Appreciation Day,
National Provider Appreciation Day.

Coconut Cream Pie. Yes. (And a side note, tomorrow is Lost Sock Memorial Day and Butterscotch Brownie Day. Plan accordingly)

If you’ve read We Own the Night, you’ve met Cash Logan. Alluring, cunning, and unpredictable, the vampire who helped make Callie a true clan leader was never supposed to be in that book.

I’d come up with the idea for Cash around the same time as Holly Octane blew into my life, which is probably how they became intertwined. I’d been writing all these pretty boy vampires with dirt on their souls. Don’t get me wrong, I like my pretty boys. A lot. Tristan oozes sex his long hair and tattoos, Ryder has that chilled out older dude thing going on, and then there’s Blade, my fallen angel. I might have a type. Whatever. This isn’t about me, it’s about Cash. I wanted more than a pretty face. I wanted a character that plunged straight into darkness with no apologies, that I had to go against my better judgement to trust, but still convinced me to trust him. That character was Cash Logan.

rob zombie

I’ve always pictured Cash to look similar to Rob Zombie. I never asked myself, “What would Rob Zombie be like if he was a vampire?” because there’s the outside chance he might actually be a vampire. I actually hope he is. The musical connection to a dark fantasy rock n roll cirque book is pretty strong. Holly would totally dance to this song:


And if Julie and I ever made a movie, it would probably be close to a Zombie production. Say what you will about those movies, but they kinda spoke to me.

So many of my vampires were created in the last few years, but Cash is much more of a classic vampire. Created in the eighteenth century by Aidan to satisfy Talis de Rancourt, he wasn’t suited for his original purpose. Talis  delighted in tormenting her new toy, ultimately committing him to Bethlem Royal Hospital in London.

Images jumbled in my brain as if someone spun a wheel. I saw Cash, bound, bloody, and burned, surrounded by laughing onlookers. His hair was shorter, and it was a different time, but I knew him. His eyes. No matter what humiliation was bestowed upon him, they remained proud.

Cash may have been beaten, but he didn’t go down without a fight. He wanted revenge. He used his immortality to his advantage, putting the weak out of their misery and forming a troupe of performers that would become his first dark magic show.

Bethlem also led him to Holly.

But now, Talis has created a modern troupe of vampires to revive her Las Vegas empire, and Cash Logan is pissed.  His magic show has made him famous, but he’s never come out publicly as a vampire. In Cash’s dark world, nightmares are real. What Talis has done with Immortal Dilemma threatens to disrupt the balance that immortals have created for centuries.  Cash needs to destroy Talis to protect his way of life. Cash needs revenge.

Which leads him back to Holly.

“Gone are the days of the two-headed dolls and the men with the forked tongues. Science can take care of that now. But where does that leave people like us? Exposed. All we can rely on is exploiting the darkness within our souls, and the rare individual who has a special talent. Exceptional strength. Mind control. The ability to control the elements. That’s why I need Blade.” Cash tipped my chin up so I met his eyes. They were almost solid gold, metallic. “The two of you will make an exquisite team, both of you able to do something that science has yet to figure out.”

Cash and Holly have much in common, and they agree on one thing for Cirque Macabre: they want a return to classic entertainment.  Only problem is, they don’t quite agree on what that means.

Cash shook his head, dismissing my outburst. “Why not? People have been attending public executions for centuries. I’m sure you’ve been to see gladiators in your time travels. Maybe you went to the witch trials? I’m sure you’ve seen a hanging or two. You were one of the performers who wanted a return to classic entertainment. You should have been more specific.”

All I’d wanted to do was wear a headdress.  “We’re better than that, now. As a society.”

Cash laughed. “Are we? We might have more laws, but I think you can agree with me that people are no different now that they were in the past. They hide their darkness now, but it’s still there. Evil doesn’t die.”

The Fire Dancer is coming May 21!  It’s available for preorder now!

Post Navigation

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 485 other followers