deadlyeverafter

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

Archive for the tag “Julie Hutchings”

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

Getting Sappy About Sequels With Julie

TODAY’S BREW: The bottom of the barrel. Seriously, it’s the bottom of all the coffees, mixed together.

By Julie

Weeeelllll, maybe I personally haven’t done so well in the Back To School Book Beatdown. HEY, THIS WAS AN EXPERIMENT, AND I HAVE A LOT GOING ON AND BESIDES I HAVE A BOOK COMING OUT FRIDAY WHAT THE HELL DO YOU WANT FROM ME.

YES, RUNNING AWAY is finally coming out THIS VERY FRIDAY. But I already wrote that book. AND I MUST NEVER STOP.

I should be disappointed with myself that THE WIND BETWEEN WORLDS is suffering this month, but I’m not. I haven’t wasted a minute. And I deserve a little time to be excited about the sequel to my first book and prepare for that.

I’ve been doing some interviews and guest posts to get ready for the release of RUNNING AWAY this Friday, and it makes me FEEL things.

When I wrote RUNNING HOME, all five of those years, it was miraculous to see it evolve and be published. I’ve written since I was a kid. I went to college for it. It went from a hobby to a THING. And I made it that way. I wrote after working all day and taking care of my babies, and I finished it, FREEHAND. Didn’t even own a laptop. UPHILL. BOTH WAYS.

I went from sneaking around the stock room, telling my co-workers shyly about my book to shouting about it from the rooftops on this blog, at conventions, to agents, to publishers. I beat the world to death around me with it until I made it come out. I told the story of a woman who knew she was meant for something more, and how difficult finding out what that is can be.

And that character, and that book, changed my entire life.

The sequel somehow means as much if not more to me. Because I didn’t just do it, I kept doing it. I did the thing I wanted to do, and I was RIGHT goddammit. This is what I’m supposed to be doing. Taking the risk wasn’t just worth it, it was everything. This means everything.

Writing at home with my kids by my side, this is all I’ve ever wanted. I couldn’t ask for more than this. And yet, it keeps getting better. I have a fantastic agent, and that feeling of HE PICKED ME! never goes away. I have more books in the works than I can fit in my head. I have incredible friends in this business that give me the most selfless support I’ve ever had in my life. So yeah, I live the dream a little bit. I made the dream.

I know my kids will see that I worked for my dream. I started with nothing, I created it over and over and over, and I built on it and tore it down, and pushed it out the door then pulled it back in and never let myself stop. Some things are worth working tirelessly on. I will forever write the books that I need to write, and trust that the need will come across on the page. I want them to live lives with that much need. Hunger. Passion and energy.

So, yeah, maybe I didn’t get a lot written on the newest book this month as I wanted. I was being mommy A LOT, and that’s where my material comes from. And a couple of weeks over the course of my lifetime isn’t going to break the streak. The streak goes on.

*streaks*

ADD RUNNING AWAY on Goodreads! https://t.co/pYpl6swa8I

Book Beatdown: Being Brave in the Battle of the Book

TODAY’S BREW: PUMPKIN SPICE. Oh, it’s happening.

By Julie

The Back to School Book Beatdown has really heated up. We have more writers committed to this than I EVER thought we would!

Side note: Prepare, beta readers ad crit partners. October will be busy for you.

I’m so proud of all of you. I know how hard it is to get the kids to school, sit your butt down and make yourself THINK and FEEL and WORK when you might be able to watch a movie and fall asleep 6 or 7 times through it. Putting the pedal to the metal on your book is goddamn hard. Even when you’re in a flow and totally into it, you’re always questioning yourself, always feeling like you have no business writing. Plugging forward through that feeling is one of the bravest things I think a person can do. I absolutely mean that. To push yourself forward when you have no idea if you’ll finish, if anyone will care, if it will make sense or if you’ll fail your own standards can be soul crushing. And yet writers not only do it every day, they FIGHT to do it every day.

Bravery come in many forms but this one can grab your heart and make you think things of yourself you wished you never did. And then you push to find out just a little more. It’s knowing there will be pain involved, and that you absolutely will not be well received by many, but saying, “I’m doing this thing no matter what.” Goddamn, that is the kind of bravery I want my kids to have.

My buddy Matt White, who will hate me for putting him on the spot this way, I know feels inadequate about his writing. And this week he tweeted out that he read some of his own work and thought to himself that yeah, he’s on to something here, that he can write some damn good stuff. I already knew this because I know Matt, but what I think doesn’t matter when he sits down, feeling crappy and plow through his words to come out on the other side. I’m wildly proud of Matt for this.

Felicia Anderson is a writer who I begged to let me edit for her because her work is that frigging amazing. (she’s @Fifi_the_Ninja on twitter.) This girl browbeat the crap out of her work in progress this week, giving me writing days of over 3000 words sometimes. I MEAN, HOLY CRAP.

Peter Damien, Book Riot contributor and ginger, made some killer progress on the most intriguing haunted house idea I’ve heard since House on Haunted Hill, AND he found an actual haunted mansion he can visit all the time that will fuel his words and keep him focused. So exciting.

There were a lot of writers that reached out to me to tell me how well their work was going. There were some that didn’t quite make it, too. Who ducked when I showed up on Twitter looking for them. You know who you are. Looking at you, Adam Dean. I say your name not to shame you, but because even though you didn’t get done what you wished to do, you still reported in to me. That shows commitment. This isn’t a race–it’s creation. It cannot be timed.

I’m holding myself accountable, too. And I’m not where I want to be on THE WIND BETWEEN WORLDS. I had something else to attend to: approving the final edits on RUNNING AWAY, which has been done completely inches from publication. And I have a cover. A COVER. But I’ve been reading THE WIND BETWEEN WORLDS, and I’m so happy to have taken the time from it that I did. I’m eager to dive back in. I love it and I’m not afraid to say so. Having the encouragement from my early readers on it, particularly Jolene Haley of Pen and Muse, has kept me rigid in what I demand from this book. I want something utterly different, but familiar feeling, and I wont settle for les than glee when I finish it. It’s also wonderful to have my ever-supportive agent and personal Esquire, Eric Ruben telling me that there’s no pressure and to take care of myself first. He remind me that taking care of myself means finishing this book.

So while some are pushing limits every day word-wise, others are pushing by not letting themselves off the hook and not doing what’s easy. What’s easy is to just not do it. Don’t do things the easy way. Sneak up on your book when it thinks it can get away. Never let it get away.

The WereMerUnicorn That is the Perfect Writing Time

TODAY’S BREW: Pumpkin Pie Coolatta! THAT IS A THING.

By Julie

Oh, summer. Your blazing death rays and constant reminder that I should be Doing Things is nigh.

This girl is a lover of rain and cold. The hoodie and the hot coffee, curled up with a book or a movie, scribbling away in a notebook about all the new ideas that the bright colors outside framed against the iron gray sky sparked in me.

Things that do not mix well with me: HOT, BRIGHT AND LOUD.

Not to mention that I am the twenty-four hour entertainment system in place for Bennett starting in 5 days. Any semblance of a writing schedule I had is as lost as the sweatpants I won’t be able to bear for the next three months. That being said, I’m actually…..looking forward to summer a little this year??

The kids are of the age where we can do things together that don’t necessarily involve me carrying a caravan of supplies with me. Parents, you know what I’m talking about. This also involves not having to carry a child. This is the first year I haven’t had to do it in too many.

But the writing and editing. This needs to have a place in my life every single day. My former go-to schedule of waking up at 5 to get things done before the kids wake up is not going to work every day this summer, what with Sam’s sleep habits which are another story altogether. I’m too exhausted at the end of the day to write anything of quality, but I can edit at that time. I have the senses about me to do that well.

But if I can’t write in the morning, and I can’t write in the afternoon because I’m Doing Things, and I can’t write at night–

WHEN THE HELL DO I WRITE?

I love a schedule. Routine and me are the best of friends. Change and me? Not as much. But you not what I love more than routine and what is more important than holding a grudge against change in my day? My writing. This book that I’m working on. They’re critical in my life.

I’m coming to realize that having a cut-out writing time is something I may not have the luxury of this summer. Then I realized–I haven’t had cut-out writing time for a looooooong tiiiiiiime. But I still write.

THEN I realized that like parenting and eating and breathing, writing finds its way into my day one way or another, forcing itself out there like that cougar neighbor of yours who never quits.

AND THEN I realized that the perfect writing time is just like having the perfect writing space–free of toys, clear of a stack of bills, with your favorite comfy blanket and your favorite pen and your favorite songs playing and your favorite unicorn riding into the sunset while you have your favorite piece of pizza delivered to you by your favorite Robert Downey Jr. THIS IS ALL A LIE THAT WILL NEVER HAPPEN AND IF IT EVER DID YOU ARE SO LUCKY. The Perfect Writing Space is a MYTH, people. Even if you are lucky enough to have this tranquil nook that you can escape to in order to spill out the words, once you get there, the words are GONE. Or you’re too tired to do it. Or you’d rather read and be on social media. I KNOW IT’S TRUE, I SEE YOU ON TWITTER.

My routine this summer is going to be digging for the treasure of that 1000 words a day between going to the park, the beach, Walmart, Anywhere Air Conditioned, not to mention the Things That Keep Your Home Somewhat Liveable. So, I’ll be the mom at the park writing like a fiend under a tree BECAUSE MY KIDS CAN PLAY FREELY NOW. I’ll be writing notes that I can type in faster than fast later that night while they eat dinner. I’ll be reading, because reading is the first half of writing–at the park, in line, in the car while they nap after all that playing and having fun with Mama.

This book I’m writing is non-negotiable. It’s screaming for air. And I’ve long since learned that showing your kids that you have a passion is as important in parenting as playing Legos with them. They need to see me say when we get home, “All right, Mama needs one half hour (which will become 15 minutes) to write. Time me!” And I’ll be running word sprints with them. Reporting into them what I’ve gotten done as much as I do Twitter. It’s all an experiment, but so is writing and parenting.

The moral of the story, those of you who dread summer as much as love it, is that your feelings on how much you need to write or do whatever it is that makes your heart tick, needs to be weaker than your determination to do it. Get yourself into Creation Survival Mode. Be Spartan in what you need to get it done. And see how bare your art comes out and how clean you feel when it’s done.

Making Feelings Go Away: Undeaditing Advice

TODAY’S BREW: The end of the Coconut Crème. So, run as fast as you can.

By Julie

I’ve been having a blast doing Undeaditing. Reading the works of others is an inspiration in itself, and having the opportunity to take those voices and really exploit them the way the writer wants to do, but needs help with is an amazing feeling. I get grossly enthusiastic about it. There’s a lot of swearing and all caps and all the good kind that make everyone happy.

I’m grateful to be asked for editing advice often, and a friend suggested I start giving some here. Just in casies. So here’s a quickie:

SHOW VERSUS TELL: THE UBER BITCH.

There’s always a way to make your work more visual without describing everything. That’s not exactly what I’m talking about here. This is about your characters, and how you can show me how they feel without telling me how they feel, and not have to revise your entire goddamn book.

The two biggest offenders of telling about feelings in my opinion are it felt like and it seemed like.

It didn’t feel like there were a hundred rain clouds pouring on her; “a hundred rain clouds poured misery on me.” Boom.

It didn’t seem like they never wanted him around; “Every turn of their shoulders when I came near, every dark stare when I opened my mouth told me all I needed to know about how wanted I was.”

Eliminating it felt like and it seemed like from your manuscript is a lot easier than you’d think. Simplify it for yourself. Don’t overthink it. If the sentence is, “It felt like my heart would burst with love for him,” a simple “My heart burst with love for him” will suffice.

And as in writing, also in blogging, conciseness is key today. Now, go my little chickens, and take out a thousand it felt likes and it seemed likes out of your book until you have a CHRIST IS OUR LORD-sized pamphlet left.

 

My Writing Process about Juuuuuulie

TODAY’S BREW: Margaritas. From the second I awake. I’m probably drunk now.

By Julie

I met the fantastically delicious Mary Lynne Gibbs, author of  JERICHO RISING, at Penguicon when we both exhibited the same bewildered and exhausted face that said we needed to be friends. She’s a kick ass vampire author and actor and I think I had a dream about us hanging out together at the end of the world. It was awesome. Go check out her stuff at http://t.co/nwzs2a2NiL and follow the young lady on the old Twitter machine at @MaryLGibbs. Aaaaanywho, she asked me to participate in this writing process blog, and you guys know me—happy to yap my flapper about my work, so here goes!
WHAT AM I WORKING ON?

I’m uber protective of the book I’m working on right now. Never felt like this about my books before. It even has secret Pinterest boards so I can hoard all the ideas for myself. But FINE, I AGREED, SO HERE. It’s a young adult novel called THE WIND BETWEEN WORLDS, about 5 witches from 5 warring families that are indebted to tether The Chains–the veil over the world that hides magic from humanity and prevents the demons of The Gone from invading Earth.  When the Demon Prince who’s the 7th son of a 7th son comes to power he shows the witches that oppression is in the eye of the beholder, and power takes many forms.

HOW DOES MY WORK DIFFER FROM OTHERS OF ITS GENRE?

This is my first YA novel and I’m looking forward to giving some complexity in the way the young witches think of their parents. There’s a fine line between the normal rules given to them as teenagers and the form of slavery they’re subjected to. It’s dark, but uplifting, hopefully thought provoking and very romantic, with a little bit of a Shakespearian prettiness thrown in there. I want it to be as layered as the teenage mind is, and isn’t always given credit for.

WHY DO I WRITE WHAT I DO?

I write urban fantasy because I love to see the ordinary made extraordinary. I love supernatural characters with very human choices to make. I love characters that don’t have black and white lives, and who never do exactly the right thing, because there is never a right thing for them or anyone else. I want to feel like there’s something more out there, while still being very grounded in reality. Urban fantasy for me is creating the most realistic superheroes ever.

HOW DOES YOUR WRITING PROCESS WORK?

This novel is different in that I’m actually OUTLINING. Though the novel will be in the point of view of the Witch of Stars, Celeste, I like to write books where the secondary characters think it’s about them, and this book is going to be a shining example of it because what teenager isn’t fighting for their voice to be heard? I need to know every one of these incredible witches/teenagers and the way they see the world in order to make the complete story perfect. I’m making a huge inspiration board that involves all of the witches and my Demon Prince, Lux, so that I can see all of them in one place, and how their characteristics work together. I have a monster 5 subject notebook to get every detail into. I have a separate (secret) Pinterest board for each character and one for the novel as a whole. I need this world to scream REAL and that can only be done with a lot of forethought and research. Then I dive into 1000 word a day diet.

The Witch of Stars, my MC

Celeste, The Witch of Stars

Next week I picked 3 gorgeous authors to tell us about their work. SO YOU GO FIND THEM:

Carey Torgensen, “The Torg,” is a long time friend, and the author of THE PRINCESS PARADOX, coming out in December. She loves writing kiss scenes a lot. Like a lot. And she’s always asking me to Jell-O  wrestle. I always say yes. @CareyTorg on Twitter.

seattletfiles.blogspot.com

 

Jered Meyer is probably the most hilarious person in Alaska, as exhibited by his live tweeting of Dora the Explorer and his terrible job. But he’s also brilliantly complex and sweet and has a helluva voice, and is just a wonderful friend. Go buy his books or I’ll hurt you. http://t.co/IznHZS93B3 and check out his blog which is better than ours a little. http://t.co/dCDa75nRTv @The_KJM on Twitter.

 

And I feel sorta awesome about making you check out Erik Hofstatter, whose MORIBUND TALES is getting killer reviews: “These tales of dark fiction have a true Gothic style tone to them, with influences from Poe and Stoker very much alive, mixed with the writer’s own unique twist.” – The Strange and the Curious 
He’s also a martial artist, making him better than most people, and I just plain like him very much. Go check out his blog http://t.co/9WPsxmmLGu and MORIBUND TALES http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00GACB9ZC?ie=UTF8&camp=213733&creative=393177&creativeASIN=B00GACB9ZC&linkCode=shr&tag=booofthedeapr-20&qid=1393108112&sr=8-1&keywords=Erik+Hofstatter+Moribund+Tales.

 

 

 

 

 

My Opinion and My Advice and Listen To It: Paranormal and Supernatural Stuff

TODAY’S BREW: Red Velvet Rainforest. (It’s the last of both bags)

By Julie

We’ve all heard how very dead the undead are in literature. Vampires, zombies, there’s not a spin that hasn’t been put on them, no depth of ridiculousness that hasn’t been explored. Then you’ve got your paranormal, supernatural what have yous. I have something that’s never been done before! It’s a hybrid monkey wereselkie dragon that turns cyborg!

I’m not fool enough to deny the constant warnings from agents and publishers that paranormal isn’t selling. We’ve been hearing it for YEARS. I’m not arrogant enough to crow from the rooftops that they’re wrong. THEY AREN’T. Agents are having an impossible time selling paranormal for mass market. Publishers seem to both want something that’s wildly different and stands out from the crowd, and yet when you look at the “shelves” it appears to be more of the same, over and over again.

Monsters are classic. They never go away. From the Grandfather of Soul, Dracula, to the creature from the Black Lagoon, to every obscure werechickenselkiewolf..ahem….harpy to grace the limitless minds of readers who forever want a little monster in their brains and beds. Because they’re classics, icons, everyone wants in on them. Hence, the barrage of supernaturals and angels and all the fancy froo hahahas. Some are fantastic. Some are–not. Imitation and all. Imitations of something beautiful when done over and over and over are bound to have shining stars among them and also a lot of rocks you have to sift through to find the gold. Not everyone is going to write this generation’s Interview With The Vampire or be the next Maggie Stiefvater. That does not mean the entire subject matter is dead, but that those who have to sort through the subject matter are both desensitized to a degree and over the entire thing.

In the meantime, more and more supernatural and paranormal stories burst into the sunshine through all the slush piles of the world.

So, do I think the future of supernatural and paranormal romances and horrors are dead? Absolutely not. Here is what I say to summarize:

  • WRITE THE BOOK YOU HAVE TO WRITE. Don’t let trends sway you. Writing is a mini revolution. If you write the book in your heart, it doesn’t matter what’s going on around it, it’s going to make itself known. A book that is felt strongly by the author will come through as something that needs to be read. Period.
  • PAY ATTENTION. What is the common thread that unites every successful paranormal and supernatural work? Don’t repeat it, but model after it. FINE, I’LL TELL YOU WHAT IT IS.
  • THIS IS WHAT IT IS. Your amazing new take on the supernatural means NOTHING if you don’t have a character that we NEED to know. The “thing” about your book needs to be the character that makes the thing interesting. You know what I mean? Your monster may have the most wildly innovative backstory and premise in the history of such things. It doesn’t matter if that’s all there is. The thing that sells your book is the character that makes it happen. I REPEAT. THE CHARACTER MAKES THE BOOK HAPPEN. Now I make this sweeping general statement:

THE THING A SUPERNATURAL OR PARANORMAL NOVEL NEEDS IS NOT PRIMARILY AN AMAZING PREMISE; IT IS AN AMAZING CHARACTER THAT DRIVES THE PREMISE.

The supernatural and paranormal novels will never die as long as have characters that MAKE the story happen. Think of it this way; name your top three favorite paranormal, supernatural, whatever you want, romances and zombie stories, you know what I means, and describe them or say what your favorite thing is about them.

My favorite thing about Frankenstein isn’t the premise–which I LOVE, obviously–but it is the monster’s character and Dr. Frankenstein, and what they do. My favorite thing about Beautiful Creatures isn’t the love story between a witch and the boyfriend who’s too close to her history,  but Ethan and Lena themselves. What I love about Shiver isn’t the werewolves; it’s Grace and Sam and how in love with THEM that I am.

These are a few instances of novels I love, that couldn’t be more different. But the thing that makes them all so utterly DELICIOUS is that they have very cool stories, but the characters are what make the story extraordinary.

IF YOU HAVE AN AMAZING STORY, DO IT JUSTICE WITH AMAZING CHARACTERS THAT BRING THE STORY TO LIFE. A book that does this well will always prevail, regardless of how saturated the market is. The future of paranormal and supernatural in literature isn’t dying, it’s waiting. Waiting for the next character that gives us something we need, and a story to back it up that gives us something we want.

Write the CHARACTER that haunts you and it will force itself into the world.

How To Not Be Stupid at Conventions

TODAY’S BREW: Red Velvet from Target. God, I do love Target.

By Julie

Penguicon was my first convention for writerly stuff. It seemed like everyone on the frigging planet knew everything there was to know about conventions before I went, and there’s these badges and ribbons and everyone knows their way around, and I’m just sort of a “take a left at the tree” kind of girl.

But being brand new to this, I wanted to come away with something from this convention, and I always will. Here a few things I knew for certain that I taught myself, and they might help you out, too. Conventions are an investment, and should be treated as such unless you’re a trust fund baby or a high priced call girl. If you don’t have unlimited cash and want to treat your weekend like a giant party, go for it. If you want it to mean something to your writing career, these are my suggestions:

  • GO WITH THE INTENT OF GETTING SOMETHING OUT OF IT. Sounds basic, but yeah. Make it your mission to go home with more than a hangover, a pile of books, toys and bruises. I wanted to come away having met some people that are important to my writing, and inspired to work on my newest book. Mindset changes everything.
  • MAKE YOURSELF USEFUL. Volunteer to help out. Not only do you meet some folks, but you learn about the con fast and you loosen up really quickly. I worked at Penguicon like an animal. I helped set up the con suite, refilled all the food for the guests, answered questions, all that stuff. Trial by fire. I threw myself into the middle of it, and put my resources to work. It made me feel like I was giving something back.
  • LOOK AT THE DAMN PROGRAM AND MAP, AND STRATEGERIZE THE PANELS. I was psyched to put my two cents in at the Obligatory Undead Panel, talking about whether or not the undead are really a dead topic. A kick ass worldbuilding panel helped me figure out what exactly I need to keep in mind while building the world for my new book, and taught me something I should probably already have known; building convincing worlds for games is a different aspect of complexity than building worlds for novels, and there’s a lot to be learned there. (Now I get to play games for “research.”)
  • INTRODUCE YOURSELF IN THE DEALER ROOM. Those folk working at the tables? YEAH, THEY’RE AWESOME. The tee-shirt guy writes, the comic illustrators and writers are selling their stuff, and probably sitting there a little awkwarded out at the idea of selling shit like a mall kiosk nightmares. Introduce yourself. Talk. Now the comics and other things I got came straight from the hands of the people who created them and I talked shop with those folks. FOR THE WIN.
  • OH YEAH. INTRODUCE YOURSELF IN GENERAL. For real, put yourself out there. My agent, the illustrious Eric Ruben, Esquire, will say all day long that writing is showbiz. People want to connect with the author. YOU’RE THE AUTHOR, ASSHAT. CONNECT. I saw a lovely lady in a super short elevator ride that had the same expression on as me. I mentioned it. We got coffee and hung out and she’s goddamn awesome, and an author of the same stuff as me, and was later on a panel with John Fucking Scalzi and Holy Shit It’s Cory Doctorow. Yeah. Speak up, introvert. These are your people.
  • ALSO MAKE EYE CONTACT AND SMILE. I don’t mean like a politician, but walk with your head up and smile at everybody. These are some of the friendliest, most talented people I would never have met if I didn’t walk around like I owned the place. Not only that, but you have so much to learn from each other, and I learned that I’m not as dumb as I thought about stuff, too.
  • KNOW WHO YOU WANT TO MEET AND MEET THEM. I was fucking determined to meet John Scalzi, so I did. I went up to him after Ask the Author and introduced myself. I looked like an ass, sure. But next year, I won’t have to do it again with as much flourish. I was still too scared to talk to Cory Doctorow, but he tweeted me and I felt like a million bucks
  • PLAN FOR NEXT YEAR OR NEXT CON. I already have put the feelers out to speak on panels at the next Penguicon. I wrote a quick list of do’s and don’ts for next time.

Now that I’m home, I’ve referred to the few notes I’ve taken a million times, and feel re-energized like nobody’s business. This is what I needed, and now I’m full steam ahead. Basically, grab your convention by the balls and run with it.

PENGUICON PENGUICON PENGUICON

TODAY’S BREW: All of It. Don’t mess with me, it’s all mine.

By Julie

THIS IS PENGUICON. http://2014.penguicon.org/about-penguicon/

http://2014.penguicon.org/about-penguicon/

And that looks cool, but THIS YEAR WAS THE BIGGEST ONE YET AND IT WAS TEN TIMES FUCKING AWESOMER THAN THAT AND EVEN THE SIGNS WERE BIGGER AND MORE EXCITING.

Here’s some dream-come-true crap right here. The Head of Hospitality for Penguicon read RUNNING HOME, and fell so in love with it that she asked me to come to the convention and stay in the hospitality suite and just be me, and work in the ConSuite. (For all of you who know me, you know what they were in for.) I realize this was a run-on sentence. MY WHOLE WEEKEND WAS A RUN-ON SENTENCE OF ENTHUSIASM.

I’ll be doing a few posts on Penguicon, because it was that monumental, but today I’ll focus on some of the cooler shit that springs to my fuzzy, exhausted mind. In no particular order:

  • MET JOHN SCALZI. Yeah. I KNOW. Cannot wait for REDSHIRTS, the TV series. I said I was going to find him, and I did.
  • Liquid Nitrogen ice cream made by a dude in a kilt named Phil. APPLE PIE MOONSHINE LIQUID NITROGEN ICE CREAM. It’s as awesome as it sounds.
  • Cory Doctorow tweeted me. That happened.
  • I hung out with, talked shop, handled various meats and cheeses and on occasion slept next to some of my most beloved Twitter people. It’s not as filthy as it comes across.
  • Bump into this lovely lady in the elevator. We just look at each other and know that we need a little more quiet than we’re getting. I ask her if she’s getting coffee before heading where she’s heading, force her to get one with me, and discover she’s awesome Mary Lynne Gibbs, author of the same kind of stuff I write, and soon to be sitting on a panel with John Scalzi, and we exchanged phone numbers and now we’re friends and this happened in like, four seconds flat.
  • I got to serve so many hot dogs in the Con Suite. This is my other calling in life. Bonded over hot dog love for 3 days with author Jim Leach. Best friends now.
  • PANELS. It’s like being in school but for fun, and that guy next to you is dressed like Boba Fett.  One of my favorites was The Obligatory Undead Panel where we got to talk all about the irritation of “X Undead subject is SOOOOO overdone” and why society always needs an undead mascot of sorts. (Also came up with THE BEST FUCKING ZOMBIE BOOK IDEA EVER WITH AUTHOR MARK MATTHEWS WHO WAS SITTING RIGHT NEXT TO ME. No, won’t tell you.) Killer Worldbuilding panel with Kevin Siembieda, creator of—well, Jesus Christ, so much, look at all this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kevin_Siembieda. Figured out a ton of shit that’s going to make this book I’m working on burst into life and could not be more excited about it. (I scribbled notes on the plane that made me look like a lunatic to the dude next to me.)
  • Being thanked by 8 million people every time I moved for feeding them in Con Suite and for all our hard work. So thoughtful and appreciative. (Not to mention the number of volunteers that throw themselves at us staff members, begging to help. Amazing.)
  • THE DEALER ROOM. I all but peed my pants in the Dealer Room where I got to not only walk around with my pseudo little sister from Twitter that I died with excitement about meeting, but THE BOOKS AND THE COMICS AND THE TEE SHIRTS AND THE JEWELRY AND ARTWORK AND THE BOOKS BOOKS BOOKS AND I GOT A 1984 TOTE BAG WITH BIG BROTHER ON IT AND ALSO A HANDFUL OF TINY RUBBER CHICKENS FOR BENNETT AND I COULD HAVE STAYED THERE ALL DAY AND YOU GET TO TALK TO THE CREATORS AND WRITERS AND BAAAAAAAAGH I WANT TO LIVE THERE.
  • I got to work beside some of the most amazingly hard working, good natured people in existence, including Twitter buddies J. Liz Hill, Rhiannon Llewellyn, and the incomparable Lithie Dubois, who is the most determined and dedicated woman in history.

There is so much more, but I can’t still quite feel my brain after this weekend. I’ll be doing posts on how to make a con work for you when you have no idea what to expect, behind the scenes con stuff and some more stuff when I can think again.

THANK YOU TO ALL OF THE UNBELIEVABLE PENGUICON STAFF AND VOLUNTEERS AND THE MOST INCREDIBLE HOTEL STAFF I’VE EVER SEEN, AT THE WESTIN, SOUTHFIELD, MI

How To Be A Mad Scientist

TODAY’S BREW: Cinnamon Pecan Pleasantries. (I added the “Pleasantries.” It sounds better.)

By Julie

I’ve been in the house A LOT. Between editing THE ANIMAL immediately after finishing RUNNING AWAY, and editing for clients the whole time, along with a new schedule around here, I’ve been grounded. Kristen has felt the same way, and with the weather warming up, it makes us both restless on top of it.

With every edit I do, I’ve been getting the itch to write something new, desperate for that clacking of the keys for an extended time, instead of just the occasional line here or there. Being trapped in the house doesn’t exactly lend itself to creativity always, but it doesn’t have to detract from it either. The job of the writer is to make the ordinary into something deliciously new. Make the flatline start beeping again. Kick over the anthill to see what’s inside. (It’s ants.)

The creative person needs to change their world, not wait for their world to change for them. Such is my epic hatred for the “finding of the muse” that so many talk about. You control your creativity, no fucking mythical bitch is going to bring it to you. The creative type is a warrior, fighting for their voice to be heard, not the princess waiting to be saved. You want inspiration? Look for that shit. You don’t have to drive across country to get it, do some life-threatening thing like hangliding or whatever, you can get it by looking at the stuff you look at every day differently.

I’m somewhat of a militant when it comes to writing. My creativity works for me, not in spite of me. I want that spark of inspiration, and so I look for it, actively and with venom in my veins. I scout through Pinterest as a job. Not a hobby, a job. I searched “empty containers” the other day for probably an hour and a half, and from it gleaned an entire storyline that I WANTED. My idea was vague and I researched every aspect of what would go into it in order to make it come to life. That means the dull stuff, too. Because dull stuff made magical is what writing is all about. Be inspired by stupid crap as a choice, not a stroke of luck. Make your art sing for you. Be the composer, not the conductor.

Here’s a little trick that I practice when exercising my brain to write. Because, indeed, you have to work the muscle that is your mind. I like to find an ordinary picture of a thing and another picture of something that really speaks to me, and try to weave them together. Now, you get a little sneak peek. A picture like this:

The Witch of Empty Things. She's a serious motherfucker. Stares at these empty frames for hours, picturing them full. You don't want to know of what.and what it would mean to this person:

Stunning portrait.Now, how could I fit in something like this?

The Witch of Empty Things needs a container to carry. Could our MC give her a new one to keep her good thoughts in, ones like this? "I know you're afraid to look at the sky, so I wanted to bring some of it down to you." 5 Tiny STAR shaped clear glass vials with cork and free eyehooks on Etsy, $5.50What do they have in common? How would she see them working together? How do they challenge her, and what does she do to rise to the challenge? Who’s the person that throws a wrench in her thoughts of them?

Creating is a process, and like any process it needs to be altered, added to, and be reshaped for new purposes all the time. Making a story is like being a mad scientist…putting things together that nobody else thinks of, making explosions and rebuilding, thinking of things that are so far-fetched they make people stare at you with gaping mouths, and then making them see it with as much gusto as you do.

Now, I have a crazy ass book to write, if you’ll excuse me.

 

 

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