deadlyeverafter

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

The Tethering by Megan O’Russell

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Today, Megan O’Russell stops by to ask some interesting questions about building paranormal worlds, and talk about her new release, The Tethering.

Purchase through (Click on the Appropriate Link):

Silence in the Library Publishing
Amazon
Barnes & Noble
Smashwords

Vampires that sparkle. Vampires that fly. Are werewolves victims of a disease, or is it a hereditary trait usually found in biker gangs? Do fairies have wings? Are they human size or tiny? These are the questions fantasy authors have to ask themselves. Are ghosts allowed in your world, or do they not exist? Are witches and wizards found in castles or walking the streets? Do you have vampires but not centaurs?

When I found myself writing a fantasy novel, one of the most enchantingly fun things I did was decide what paranormal and magical rules needed to exist in my world.

All sixteen-year-old Jacob Evans wants is to win the heart of Emilia Gray, but with order in the magical world crumbling, war threatening, and Emilia’s boyfriend living across the hall, he may never have the chance.

Jacob Evans loses everything he has ever known and is tossed into a world of magic. The Dragons, a group of rebel wizards, are threatening to expose the existence of magic to humans. Jacob is determined to find a way to fit into Emilia’s family, but as his powers grow, so does the danger. With the death toll mounting, Jacob is accused of acts of rebel terrorism and must fight to stay in a world he’s only just beginning to discover.

When Emilia’s life is threatened, Jacob must risk everything to save her. Does he have the power to rescue her in time? And what could their survival cost?

Jacob is a wizard in a world of cell phones, and a big part of his story is his finding a way to live in both the world he knows and the magical one he’s just discovered. Allowing him to learn about what werewolves might be and if fairies exist helped me to define the world of The Tethering. But even as he learns, all the secrets of the world are not revealed. Magic and places that have been lost through time are found and change everything.

So how do you decide what rules your characters live by? How do you show your readers? And how often do you cheat?

Answer here or on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/ORussellauthor  or Tweet your answer to @MeganORussell

And don’t forget to order The Tethering and learn about Jacob Evans’s world.

INTRODUCING FALLEN SON, DARKEST NIGHT by Melissa Petreshock!

TODAY’S BREW: Godiva Pumpkin Spice, for I am the Fall Queen

By Julie

Our dear friends over at The Dragon Blog have given us the opportunity to share with you THIS by the darling, no matter how fresh, Melissa Petreshock, author of FIRE OF STARS AND DRAGONS. You can find my very own review of this story next week right here.

FSDN Cover Art

FALLEN SON, DARKEST NIGHT by Melissa A. Petreshock

After four millennia of waiting for change, the Mother Goddess sees no other recourse but to summon Theo Pendragon to perform his sacred duty as one of the Dracopraesi, imprison her only son in the Underworld, and save her people.

​Given the​ vast destruction Dante has caused ​in the Earthen Realm, Theo is prepared to fulfill Dana’s request​ without hesitation​, but ​when confronted with ​unexpected events and a plea for mercy, will the dragon ​find him worth redemption, or is it too late for this dark soul to seek forgiveness?

FALLEN SON, DARKEST NIGHT is a ​short story companion to FIRE OF STARS AND DRAGONS (Stars and Souls Book 1). ​Three thousand years before Caitriona Hayden is even born, Dante’s actions and Theo’s decision impact the destiny that awaits them all.

Available October 21, 2014 on Wattpad http://www.wattpad.com/72617517-fallen-son-darkest-night?d=ud

FSDN - Fate at birth promo teaser

About The Author

Melissa A. Petreshock is a full-time writer and member of the Romance Writers of America with past experience in the medical and educational fields, though she has primarily devoted her adult life to raising a family. Born and raised in Kentucky, Melissa spent a number of years in Massachusetts, living outside Boston and in Springfield before returning to her home state where she now resides on a small farm. She enjoys quiet married life and the silliness of her three children, indulging hobbies of music, Zumba, and a minor television addiction in what little free time she finds. Melissa’s interests include causes demanding social change such as mental health awareness and teen suicide prevention. FIRE OF STARS AND DRAGONS is her debut NA Fantasy Romance novel.

Melissa A. Petreshock_ smaller file

You can find Melissa on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and Goodreads.

Being an author IS a job. And it’s the BEST job.

deadlyeverafter:

I think anyone who is self-employed can identify with this. Just because you happen to wear pajamas while you work, doesn’t make what you less of a job.

Originally posted on Tammy Farrell:

I’m tired of being told (usually in thinly veiled statements) that being an author isn’t a job. Any writer that writes on a full-time or regular part-time basis will shout from the rooftops–IT IS!

One time, not too long ago, I was feeling overwhelmed with the projects I had on the go. I had more than one manuscript in the works, I had lots of editing to do (both for myself and someone else), and I was still trying to navigate the world of author marketing for my published current novel. I must have been complaining. I usually don’t mean to. I know I’m incredibly lucky to have the ability to commit my time to fulfilling my dreams. But sometimes, I just need to vent.

So there I was, bitching about all the things I had to do and the little time I had to do them in, and someone…

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We need to talk about…

deadlyeverafter:

Publishing is a dirty business at times, and often at the expense of us doe-eyed authors that are just excited to see publishers that are excited about their books. I was incredibly lucky that Books of the Dead Press took interest in me because James Roy Daley and the press itself are not just honest but respectful of their authors, respectful of the business, and do this thing for all the right reasons. Reading the posts about Permuted Press is crucial if you’re a writer in my opinion.

Originally posted on Graeme Reynolds's Blog:

something-stinks_165Over the past year, something has been bothering me. It’s not something that has affected me directly, but it is affecting an increasing number of my friends. I need to be very careful about this blog post and I need to state up front that some of this post is speculation, because I don’t want an army of corporate lawyers descending on my arse. So, I am not going to name any  names and I will make very clear what the facts seem to be and my speculation on what this might mean.

In the middle of 2013 a very well respected small press changed hands. The original owner was highly regarded within the community, was trusted and respected. I actually dealt with him briefly before Moonstruck came out because he wanted the High Moor series, although I eventually walked away from the deal. This, it seems, was the best…

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The Undead Interview: The Undead Duo Regroups

TODAY’S BREW: Kristen and I will begin consumption of alllll the Godiva Pumpkin Spice

By Julie

But really both of us

I’m just the one typing and it’s at my apartment.

Kristen and I became the Undead Duo when we started writing our vampire books together three and a half years ago, though we’ve been friends since we were both frizzy haired pre-teens living in the same apartment complex. We started this blog to document our writing journey as friends, as then unpublished, unagented writers starting from scratch.

Life changed. So we’re going to do a series of blog posts, a Then and Now-er to show you a few things:

  • There is no worse mistake than not trying.
  • When you don’t like the rules, change them. Scowl at those who protest.
  • The Undead Duo is still a duo, baby.
  • There’s more than one way to skin a book. You get it. You know what I mean. Stop that.

So, we’re kicking this sucker off with a Duo Interview. A few questions we came up with that we’ll both answer.

How is writing going now that we don’t get together 2 or 3 times a week to beat each other over the head and motivate one another?

(paraphrased, because we’re sitting together on my couch right now discussing this.) We’re both a lot busier than we used to be, and so our writing dates are rare these days. We both miss getting together, having a beer or 4 and writing until the wee hours together, but these days Kristen has two full time jobs between makeup and book writing/marketing. I’ve got two kids on two different school schedules, one of which has OCD and hyperactivity, plus I’ve been doing developmental editing consistently in addition to always writing a book.

The point of all this is WE STILL ALWAYS ARE WRITING BOOKS. Circumstances have changed, but we got each other into routines, and we know that if the other isn’t writing for a period something is wrong. Usually we see that in more ways than one, because if you’ve ever taken writing away from the writer, you’ll see that it gets ugly reeaaallly fast. Writing is a part of our professional lives now, and it’s because we made it that way. While we still hang out together and still have our hands in the other’s work, we have a routine in our own lives now that we created together.

As Kristen said, “I no longer need daily goals, that if I don’t reach I know you’re going to kick my butt, I do it because these characters are kicking the inside of my skull.  The words come pretty easily, as long as I can sit down and write them. Where before I would have been really proud of a 200 word day, 2000 words is more the norm now.”

How is your writing approach different now than it was a few years ago?

Kristen: “Before if I hit 1000 words it was an event, something to be congratulated. Now it’s part of my daily life, the words need to come out.”

Julie: “I lived on a 1000 word a day diet for quite some time, getting up at 5 in the morning to get my word count in, or going to Kristen’s to have some quiet. Now my words happen at different times of the day, and there’s no way to have the utter concentration I once did. So I edit, I revise, I commit to getting it on paper throughout the day.”

What’s different and what’s the same?

Kristen: “The delivery method. I’m no longer looking for an agent or a publisher, I’m seeking no one’s approval. Self-publishing is a small business that I’m running. I have a lot more responsibility now that circles around the writing.  I commission my editors and designers.  I set all release dates and approve all marketing.  If something isn’t working, I don’t have to lump it any more. I change it. I can try new things.  I’ve always been a bit of a control freak, and this is perfect for me.  I’m much happier on my own than I was chasing an ideal that I’m not convinced really exists.”

Julie: “What’s the same is that I write what I want, what’s speaking to me no matter what the trend. What’s different is now I know that I don’t need to kiss agent ass in order to find one. My agent saw spark in my work, and he was into it and into me. It had nothing to do with trying to impress. I also know that there are a lot of ways to get a book out, and every book might require a different way. The Shinigami series is published through Books of the Dead Press. The Harpy is being marketed to larger publishers through my agent. The Animal has a different path and timing. And who knows about the one I’m working on now? What I do know is that my books will come out one way or the other. There is no try, there is only do.”

We began taking every step of the writing journey together, from first draft to querying agents, to posting our books online for critique, but we’ve ended up in very different places. Why do you think that is?

Kristen: “I think different opportunities presented themselves to us at very different times, and we had different needs and goals even if we didn’t realize it. We both wanted our books out but that meant something different for both of us and we didn’t know what we didn’t know. And once we were both published, success looked very different to each of us. And in some ways we were both so grateful to have books out that we never dared to talk about what else we wanted. We both found success to be in different things.”

Julie: “I agree. I think we needed the support and it was hugely helpful to go through publication being able to see the differences between my path through small press at that time and yours through being put on submission with larger publishers through an agent, then self-publishing. It’s helped me learn allllll the options out there and make a more educated decision for each one of my books. Starting together and taking parallel paths made me realize that the rules are always changing in publishing and I can make that work for me.”

Well, that’s it! Our Undead Interview for this week and next week we’ll dive into what our expectations were up until this point and what we actually got. We’ll pick over our choices and mistakes and maybe get a little ugly. See you then.

Introducing ISLA’S INHERITANCE by Cassandra Page!

TODAY’S BREW: I’ve filled my cheeks with pumpkin spice and that’s going to be all day long.

By Julie

I’ve been waiting for this book for what seems like the length of Hulk Hogan’s longest hair. (It’s super early. Check in later for a better metaphor later. A betaphor.) I’m very excited to see my good friend Cassandra Page’s gorgeous book come to life finally!

Isla

HOW STUNNING?!

Isla was content to let her father keep his secrets, but now she can’t stand the touch of iron and her dreams are developing a life of their own. She must discover the truth — before it’s too late.

Seventeen-year-old Isla Blackman only agrees to participate in a Halloween party séance because Dominic, an old crush, wants to. She is sure nothing will happen when they try to contact the spirit of her mother. But the séance receives a chilling reply.

SHE IS NOT DEAD.

Isla doesn’t want to upset her father by prying into the family history he never discusses. When the mysterious and unearthly Jack offers to help her discover the truth, Isla must master her new abilities to protect her loved ones from enemies she never knew existed.

Goodreads | Amazon | Smashwords

OH, WHAT YOU WANT AN EXCERPT NOW? *EYE ROLL*

“Okay.” Emma rolled up her sleeves so they wouldn’t trail on the table. She slid the upturned scotch glass so the pentagram was centred within it. “Everyone put a finger on top of the glass.” We did. “Ready?” Without waiting for a response, Emma tilted her face towards the ceiling. “Is anyone there?”

Nothing happened.

“Is anyone there?” Emma asked again. She didn’t seem worried. I glanced at Dominic, whose face had fallen.

“Is anyone there?”

The glass began to inch along the surface of the paper, picking up speed as it slid towards the YES. Tamara gasped, going white under the makeup; that pale, she looked like a porcelain doll. Emma smiled, enjoying her moment. The guys watched with wide eyes.

“Welcome.” Emma smiled. “What’s your name?”

I studied the glass in its nest of fingers as it spelled out D-A-N-I-E-L. My eyes narrowed, searching for the whitening around the fingertips that would indicate someone was pushing the glass. Was that why Emma had turned off the light—to hide the tells?

“Hello, Daniel.” Emma smiled again. “Daniel’s my spirit guide,” she added in an aside to the rest of us as the glass slid across to HELLO.

I watched with a frown as the others asked questions of Daniel: where he was born, how he’d died, that sort of thing. I didn’t pay much attention; I was busy trying to see how the trick was being performed. It was a normal scotch glass and, if anyone was pushing it, they were being discrete. Emma was good.

Finally, she looked around the table at us. “Daniel can act as our intermediary to the afterlife, protecting us from evil spirits. Do any of you have relatives who have passed over that you’d like to contact? A grandparent or anything?”

“My grandpop’s dead, but he was an old bastard.” Kurt laughed. “I don’t want to talk to him. Besides, your Daniel wouldn’t let him through if he doesn’t like evil spirits.”

Tamara shook her head; Dominic turned to me. “Isn’t your mother dead?” he asked softly.

“Yes.” I looked away. I’d never known my mother. She’d died giving birth to me. But I didn’t like the idea of turning her into a parlour trick.

Dominic saw my hesitation and looked sheepish. Emma brightened, though. “What was her name?” she asked.

“Melanie,” I said reluctantly. “Melanie Blackman.”

“Hey, we don’t have to do this if you don’t want to,” Dominic said.

“It’s all right,” I said. It wasn’t real. It didn’t matter.

“Melanie Blackman, are you there?” Three times Emma repeated the call, and, as before, the glass didn’t move until the third time.

NO.

“No?” Emma looked surprised—which was itself surprising, given she was the one moving the glass. “Melanie Blackman, are you there?”

The glass circled away from the word and back again, rattling across the paper.

NO.

Obviously that wasn’t meant to happen. “Daniel, are you there?”

There was a long delay while I imagined a sheet-covered ghost handing over the receiver of a telephone. YES.

“Why isn’t Melanie Blackman there?”

It wasn’t real. It didn’t matter. But I still held my breath as I watched the glass spell out the reply.

S-H-E [SPACE] I-S [SPACE] N-O-T [SPACE] D-E-A-D.

I KNOW, RIGHT? Cassandra Page is a wonderful writer, friend and human being, and she’s so wonderful she’ll let you enter to win a $50 Amazon gift caaaard! (insert Oprah voice)

<a id=”rc-d0425123570″ class=”rafl” href=”http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/d0425123570/” rel=”nofollow”>a Rafflecopter giveaway</a>
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Isla_mirror

Author bio

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 — which is ironic, as she’s allergic to cats. 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?

Author links

Blog | Twitter | Facebook | Google+ | Pinterest | Goodreads

Happy Book Birthday, Secondhand Heart!

Aaaah!  It’s here!  There are so many steps to completing a book, and the release day always seems so far in the future. But it always sneaks up on me.

I’ve been talking a lot about this book lately, of course, and I hope that you enjoy reading it as much as I’ve enjoyed writing it. This is a book of firsts for me. It’s my first contemporary romance. It’s also the book that made me decide to go totally indie. It’s scary to go in a completely new direction, but it’s really exciting, too.

SHH - Teaser 3

I hope you’ll check it out. It’s available on Kindle Unlimited, and of course, to own. If you like it, please tell a friend. All of your friends, actually. And a few strangers.  I’ll leave you with another excerpt, and later this week when I’m done with this movie (we’re finishing up with overnights, even tonight), I’ll be able to crack open some champagne!

**

“I need to say this to you now, because if I’ve learned anything from this week, it’s that keeping my mouth shut is the worst kind of poison. The kind that festers and kills from within.” He walked towards me and took my hands in his. His felt clammy, he was nervous. “I love you. I love you because you’ve shown me what a real relationship is supposed to be like. I love you because you care about everyone else more than yourself. But I wish you could see in yourself what we all see in you. I love you because I knew you were scared as hell to take a chance on me, and you did it anyway. I love that you’re smart and funny, but you admit what you don’t know. I love you because you’re totally comfortable being you, and it’s sexy as hell. And I love you because I thought I was coming back home to die, basically, but I’ve never felt more alive than I have since I’ve met you.”

I didn’t think anything else could shock me this week. I had so many things I wanted to say right now, but as they crashed together in my head, they didn’t work when I tried to say them. “I love you, too.” His face brightened at my words. It was true, I loved him for some of the very same reasons he loved me. I always thought when I finally said it out loud, I’d feel like I was leaving Jordan behind, but I didn’t. He was coming along for the ride. And Cam was okay with that.

 

 

The Undead Duo Do Smart Things Sometimes

TODAY’S BREW: Tim got this Godiva pumpkin coffee and it’s almost gone and I might eat the bag.

By Julie

Holy hell, it’s Monday. Hey you guys know what’s available now?

Running Away Final Cover

THIS IS. IT’S THIS. THIS IS AVAILABLE.

That thing came OUT. Oh, you’d like to read it, you say? HERE, PLEASE DO. Amazon:

http://t.co/nDVwNx3b9z

OR OVER HERE.

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/running-away-julie-hutchings/1120408618?ean=2940046196108

I couldn’t be more excited at how well it’s been received, but I’m even more excited about how soooooo many people I respect and love came rushing to my aid to spread the word. (My Million Page Thank You Post will be coming soon when I can do it without crying.) This release was so much different from releasing RUNNING HOME, and I can barely type this without crying SO NOT RIGHT NOW. HERE IS A FUNNY THING SO I WON’T GET TOO EMOTIONAL.

Finally. Someone writes my biography.

Another important piece of literature, my biography.

I’ve had one of those dreamlike weeks that make me so stupidly happy I’m intolerable at best. The most recent of my HOLY JESUS, THIS HAPPENED moments was that I, Julie Hutchings, the person who sat on the edge of a bouncy house bumper last month, sunk to the floor on it and rolled onto the ground, me, I was on Chuck Wendig’s blog. If you don’t follow me on Twitter, you may not know that I command an army of raccoons in Chuck’s driveway and live in his trash cans. He’s my HERO. And he, (quote, unquote) “hands me the keys to Terrible Minds” this one day. If you want to know how surreal that is, go look. Go ahead: http://terribleminds.com/ramble/2014/10/02/julie-hutchings-do-the-thing-that-makes-you-bleed/

I feel like I’ll be riding the high of putting out a second book for a while, but that’s not what I want to yap about right now.

I want to yap about this gal:

IT'S KRISTEN, YOU KNEW THAT.

IT’S KRISTEN, YOU KNEW THAT.

This broad is publishing, by herself, her first contemporary romance, vampire-free. Not that she had a problem or anyth– well, it was a manageable situation with vampires, but there were a LOT of vampire books. So this is a huge change for the other half of the Undead Duo. The book is about people, and it’s close to home in a lot of ways, and it is very close to her heart. I’m wildly proud of her for putting books out period, let alone THIS book, and at a time when she’s working so hard at her other job that she can barely see to feed her bird. Not to mention that both of our lives have been so FULL lately that we scarcely see one another, and to not have that physical, in person support from the other makes publishing a difficult thing. I’m not even doing it alone and it’s hard for me. I don’t know how she does it.

Sometimes we text each other this when asked “whatcha doin’?”

Questioning all my life choices. You?

This is not one of those times. There’s no doubt in my mind that this book is going to be the one that turns a whole different set of heads. God, that sounded weird.

SECOND HAND HEART is going to be a stunner. It’s bringing something totally different to the world of New Adult, and I expect no less from Kristen. She never gives you something you’ve seen before. And I’m overjoyed to be a part of her blazing trails again.

I love you, heterosexual life partner. We did this thing, and we’re doing it still.

Secondhand Heart Preview and Excerpt

Secondhand-Heart-FOR-WEBTime flies when you’re releasing books.  I started Secondhand Heart on Valentine’s Day, sitting in Barnes and Noble in Hyannis, eating cheesecake with Julie.  The words came fast, one weekend alone brought ten thousand. I never thought I’d be releasing it eight months later. This book changed a lot of things for me. It was the book that made me decide to become a true independent author. It’s my first contemporary romance. So even though it’s my fourth full-length book, I feel like this is a new beginning for me. It’s scary and exciting and totally fitting for this book.

Secondhand Heart is a book about new beginnings, ones the characters never expected and really never wanted.  Daisy had married her childhood sweetheart, but he was killed in the line of duty.  Cam had won reality competition The Spotlight, or so he thought, anyway. His wife, daughter of the show’s producer, fixed the results. Once word of the fix got out, Cam’s music career unraveled.

The great thing about life is you don’t only get one chance to do something. It’s not about how many times you get knocked down, it’s about how many times you get back up. Even though Daisy doesn’t think she’s ready to move on–especially not to start a serious relationship with someone–Cam makes her feel something she hasn’t since she lost her husband. Alive. Ready to take chances again.

If you’ve read any of my Night Songs books, you’re used to vampires and rock stars. Secondhand Heart brings you a country singer, Cam Hunter. I set the Night Songs books in Las Vegas because vampires, rock stars, and Sin City had so many similarities, but Secondhand Heart takes place in my hometown of Plymouth, Massachusetts.  I originally wanted to set it in Nashville, hence the country singer. But as I figured out who the major players were in this book, I realized it was a story about coming home, and I couldn’t set it anywhere else.  Later this week, I’ll be sharing some of the places featured in the book. I loved using the town as a setting, and even more, a character.

Sex, blood, and rock n’ roll?  It’s all still there, just in a different way.  It’s a sexy book, a sweet book, but it’s not a straight line to Happily Ever After Town. I won’t give anything away, but not everyone makes it to the end.

I hope you’ll add it to your Goodreads TBR list, or maybe even pre-order it.  Keep reading for an excerpt, and check back as I’ll be blogging about the book all this week.

Secondhand-Heart-print-FOR-WEB

Bree was my best friend, but she couldn’t keep a secret for shit. That’s how I knew that my sister Evelyn’s surprise plans for my twenty-first birthday couldn’t have been that exciting. Bree hadn’t slipped at all. And she loved gossip. Any time I had news I didn’t want to share with the world, I simply didn’t tell her.

“What did you do last night?” Ev laughed at me when I rolled down the stairs at the crack of noon. Her skin was glowing, probably from sunrise yoga or something. I still had sleep crumbs in my eyes. “Did you have a date?”

“Shh.” Perfect example. I let Bree sign me up for an online dating site a few weeks ago, and of course, she told Ev. I got way more hits than I expected, and certainly more than I wanted. Turns out older dudes are really into chubby chicks. Some of them I talked to, because I didn’t want to look like an asshole, but I always blew them off before we could actually go out. “I didn’t go anywhere. I watched baseball with Dad and drank a six pack of blueberry beer.”

I didn’t have to tell her that I spent the night missing Jordan, my husband. She knew. He’d been killed in the line of duty a year ago in Afghanistan. That roadside bomb took everything from me. His dog tags clanked against the counter as I made my coffee. I never took them off.

“Oooh. Bunker Hill?” Ev asked and I nodded. “I love that stuff. But it’s got a higher alcohol content than the swill Dad likes to drink, so it will kick your ass if you’re not careful. No wonder you look like hell. I figured you’d be out partying it up.”

“Thanks a lot.” I ran my finger under my eyes, not remembering if I washed off my makeup last night. I’m sure I’d cried it all off, anyway.  I needed grease to kill this hangover. I pulled out the frying pan and cracked some eggs.

“We have a birthday cake shake, Daisy,” my mom almost sang as she danced around me making my eggs and toast. Now that Mom worked for Lifedrinks, a weight loss shake that among other things, promised world peace, she judged everything I put in my mouth. “All you need is skim milk, chocolate pudding mix—“

I couldn’t take this shit before my coffee. “Why would I want that when I can have real birthday cake for my birthday?” Wait a minute. “In what universe is pudding better for you than eggs?”

I didn’t have to turn away from the frying pan to know that my mother was sputtering. Ev giggled. I’d asked her something that wasn’t covered in the sales brochure. “It’s about feeling satisfied. And in control.”

“Ma, stop it. It’s Daisy’s birthday weekend.” Ev shook her head. Mom’s sales pitches had been making us bristle for years. She’d run the gamut of home party products, including sex toys, which I’d discovered, much to my horror, when I moved back home. I hoped she didn’t hear Ev ask me about having a date. I didn’t need her butting her nose into that. Or making suggestions.

Shake in hand, Mom left the house in her nuclear green spandex pants without saying another word.

“What’s with the glasses?” I motioned towards Ev’s face.

“Oh! Aren’t they great?” Ev pushed the glasses up on her nose. “One of my clients made them. She uses recycled water bottles for the frames.” Ev was a publicist for independent artists. Unfortunately, most of them didn’t make much money, so Ev often swapped her time for product.

I brought my breakfast over to the table, and Ev joined me. “They’re fabulous.” I lied, not asking her if there was a prescription. I knew she could see just fine. They were way too big for her face, and after this weekend, I’d probably never see her wear them again. “Stop changing the subject and tell me what we’re doing.”

“You asked about my glasses!” She whacked me. “So mom and I went to the farmer’s market this morning on the way home from the commuter rail, and—“

“If this has to do with organic radishes, I may never talk to you again.”

“Let me finish! I made an awesome salad with all organic veggies while I was waiting for you to get your ass out of bed,” she giggled when I rolled my eyes. “You better eat some of it. And Dad wants to barbeque tonight.”

“You’re just going to eat salad? Sucks to be you.”

Evelyn only loved animals, she didn’t eat them or wear them. I loved them too, and I admired her conviction. But damn, I loved hamburgers, especially from the grill. With pepper jack cheese. And tomato. “We picked up some veggie burgers.”

“This is all good, but Dad barbeques like three times a week. What are we doing tonight?” The suspense was killing me. What could it be? I hung on to hope that it would make me feel better. Everyone tried so hard, and I couldn’t tell them their efforts just made me miss Jordan more.

“We’ll barbeque first. Bree’s going to come over with the kids so mom can watch them.” Ev continued. That was the other reason I knew Ev’s plans couldn’t have been so great. Any time Bree got out of the house without a diaper bag on her shoulder was monumental. She would’ve spoiled the surprise on account of that alone. “Do you remember Cam Hunter?”

“How could I not? Is he going to jump out of my birthday cake?” Before Ev became Evelyn, the hipster determined to save the world one recyclable at a time, she was Evey, an aspiring country singer. And she was damn good. When she was a senior in high school, she tried out for The Spotlight, a talent competition. She made it all the way to the television part, but nerves got the best of her when the show went live and she flubbed the lyrics in one of the early rounds. I still think she would have won if that didn’t happen. Cam Hunter was also on The Spotlight that season, but his nerves were just fine. He won the whole thing.

“Kind of. Did you hear about the bar he’s opening?” Ev bounced up and down in her seat with excitement. Obviously she still had a giant crush on him. I’d tease her about it later, but right now, I wanted to know what his bar had to do with my birthday.

“Oh yeah, I think I did.” Cam was from around here, too. Bridgewater, about a half an hour away. It had been really unusual that The Spotlight had two country singers from Massachusetts that season. Because he was local, and Ev had it bad for him, I’d sort of paid attention to his career, but he’d fallen off my radar lately, along with pretty much everything else.

“Guess who’s handling the press for the bar? We’re going to the grand opening!” Ev’s face fell when I didn’t share her excitement. I wasn’t into country music and I really wanted my surprise not to be one of her work things. “It’s invitation only, red carpet and everything.”

That did sound cool. Maybe a little too cool for me. “What the hell am I going to wear?”

“It’s not formal like the Oscars or anything, just wear something cute that you’d wear out.”

Ev was either in denial or oblivious about how much weight I’d gained since Jordan died. Or how much I hadn’t been out since then. “I don’t have any cute clothes.”

“Jeans and a top. You have jeans and a top,” Ev insisted. “Do you want go shopping?”

I wasn’t that concerned about it. “Hell no. This is a beach day. And all the kids have already worn out their parents. We’ll have the place to ourselves.” I prayed Ev had brought her suit. She’d know I’d want some sun time.

“It’s like you planned it this way.” Ev pulled over the strap of her tank top, revealing her bikini underneath. I didn’t correct her. Sleeping until noon and nursing a hangover was a perfectly sound life plan. Plus it gave her a chance to do all those adult things I wanted nothing to do with before I woke up, and then spend the afternoon at the beach with me.

 

THE DARK CARNIVAL IS HERE

TODAY’S BREW: Dunkin’s dark roast because FREEEEEE. HAPPY NATIONAL COFFEE DAY, PEOPLE I LOVE!

By Julie

Soooooo, you may or may not be able to get a couple of killer stories from Ye Olde Undead Duo for free in the coolest anthology ever soon. AND MBY MAY OR MAY NOT I MEAN MAY. YOU MAY. Not to mention some of the most amazing short horror pieces I’ve ever read from many of our friends. I CANNOT WAIT FOR YOU TO GET IT.

dark_carnival-cover-banner

LOOK AT HOW EERIE AND SUBTLY HOLY HELL THIS IS.

October approaches. Autumn leaves are nearly falling. The Dark Carnival is calling, calling. Will you answer its call? Will you heed the beckon?

 The doors are opening.

 Will you leave with your life?

In this anthology, several authors and illustrators explore the dark and hidden dangers that lie within a carnival that has come to town. But it is no ordinary carnival. It’s The Dark Carnival.

And when The Dark Carnival comes to town, there’s no promise that anyone can leave…alive.

Edited by: Jolene Haley, Kristen Jett, and Jessi Shakarian

 LOOK AT THIS LINEUP.

Contributors include: Kat Daemon, Kristen Strassel, Julie Hutchings, C. Elizabeth Vescio, Mark Matthews, Brian W. Taylor, Kim Culpepper, Eli Constant, Mari Wells, J. Elizabeth Hill, Nicole R. Taylor, Ashly Nagrant, Kristin Hanson, Calyn Morgan, Tawney Bland, Roselle Kaes, Ken Mooney, Emily McKeon, Bobby Salomons, Ezekiel Conrad, Sheila Hall, Michelle Davis, Lucas Hargis, Vanessa Henderson, Ryan Bartlett, Debra Kristi, Jessi Esparza, T.A. Brock, Ruth Shedwick, Brian LeTendre, Amy Trueblood, Gregory Carrico, Jamie Corrigan, Kate Michael, Tyle Anne Snell, Alicia Audrey, Meghan Schuler, Jamie Adams, Wulf Francu Godgluck, J.C. Michael, Suzy G., Kristin Rivers, and Claire C. Riley. *Final lineup subject to change

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Add it to Goodreads here:  https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/20495362-the-dark-carnival

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