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

Archive for the tag “Julie Hutchings”

Lego Movie Life Lessons or How to Create an Awesome Shit Show

TODAY’S BREW: Little o’ this, little o’ that.

By Julie

For Bennett’s birthday we brought him to see THE LEGO MOVIE. Now, Tim had his reservations about it because the toys make no sense. There’s like a flying ice cream truck, and weird dream land with a cat/unicorn, and the Old West and construction sites, and Batman? My response was that they make all these intricate, gorgeous Lego sets that we bust our asses to buy, and Ben rips them apart in a week to make some shit that doesn’t make sense anyway. Kids don’t make sense, that’s how they roll. Coincidentally, we all bitch that kids can’t make a toy out of 2 rocks and a handful of bottlecaps like we did as kids. Maybe it’s because we fucking hand them toys with intricate instructions that they have to try to insert their imaginations into, right after WE spend 10 hours building it for them.

The other thing is that the characters aren’t even remotely close to being in the same realm of possibility. It’s like that nightmare I have about having Barbie play with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and G.I. Joe battle Go-Bots, and Tonka Trucks can rescue the Weebles from Grayskull. THIS SHIT DOES NOT GO TOGETHER.

I mean, look at this shit show.

As a child, I refused to mix toys as such. Thank God this didn’t make me a racist. I refuse to teach my kids that there’s some people you just don’t play with, some toys that you just aren’t allowed to like, and interests that can’t coincide with other interests. (I am beaming proudly because my kids are pretty awesome about getting all this stuff right.)

Kristen came with us to the movies, of course, and she was a little worried in the beginning that “everything is awesome” when it’s built according to exact instructions and everyone works together all the time and never uses their imaginations. (I was okay with “everything is awesome” because the only other motivational phrase in toy-related media I can think of lately is the “anything is possible” motto that goes along with fucking Dog Poop Barbie. Literally, it’s a Barbie with a dog that actually poops, and Barbie gets to pick it up with a pooper scooper. THE FUCKING MOTTO IS “ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE.” Go for the gold, Barbie!) ‘ll try not to spoil the movie for you, but suffice it to say that the message is clear to think outside the box and use your imagination. And it sure as hell changed my mind about Legos.

Because I spend so much goddamn time building magnificent Lego contraptions, I get irritated when the kids want to take them apart. Obviously. And I spent all this money on this particular set because he NEEEEEDED it, only to destroy it into unrecognizable pieces a day later. I tried to tell myself that the joy was in building it together with my kid, but that gets to be stressful, too. and sometimes takes on the feeling of Forced Fun that say, cruise ship party nights would do.

You’d think in a creative family, with Tim being an amazing artist and me with the book stuff, we’d encourage making shit up more. What the Lego Movie showed me was that we all still have boxes to break out of. (I know, deep shit, for a kid’s movie, but you know what, grown ups are always learning, too or else you suck at life.) Besides, it’s not all that adulty to realize that there are always more rules to break and re-mold into something better. And better by YOUR standards, not according to what has been decided is better. (For fuck’s sake, this post is not about editing, but in my head it is now.) The point is, even if you think you don’t put yourself in a box, you do without knowing it sometimes. You have to go back to the most basic elements and build from the ground up, rule-free, and with childlike enthusiasm. Everything that was ever built was just an idea someone had, and you have ideas, too.

Now, go wreck some awesome thing and make it even awesomer.



Building The Poop Robot

TODAY’S BREW: Mocha Mint S’mores because I mixed them together. AS I AM A GENIUS.

By Julie

You may or may not have heard, but I’M EDITING FOREVER AND EVER AND EVER. The sequel to RUNNING HOME is a lengthy summabitch, and extremely involved, because I’m so deep and stuff. This leads me to sit for 12 hours at a time in front of my laptop, messing with it in a series of highlighting and scribbling and swearing processes that absolutely delight me.

Writers complain about editing all the time, and I get it. You can’t believe this word puke came from your previously-believed-to-be-at-least-averagely-intelligent brain. You have things to FIX. Stuff that should have worked, doesn’t, so now you have to change all this other stuff, and make sure it all works together like a bunch of gears you found at the junkyard. At first you just make this half-robot-half-poop thing that you throw your hands up and say “TA DA!!” at, then you realize that it’s going to fall apart any second, so you have to build it again. And again. All while convincing yourself that a Poop Robot is absolutely necessary and a good idea.

I’m here to tell you that even if your work is the suckiest thing on Suck Mountain, working on it IS a good idea. You thought it was a good idea to write it, (though this can apply to whatever artsy fartsy or non-artsy fartsy thing you do), so stand behind it. Don’t give up on it until the horse is so dead, kicking it hurts your foot more than anything.


Remember that. Every idea was something that some dude thought up, just like you. There is no wrong way to perfect your art, whether that art is coal mining, writing, chicken training or parenting. The one thing YOU can do for your art is do it your way, and stand behind what your way is.

Until your way doesn’t work. Then, try a new way.

The point is, enjoy the learning process. Even if you SUCK at it, you’re still learning. You need to try to learn. Every mistake you make, every thing you do that isn’t quite right, is all part of growing. Enjoy it. The moment you stop enjoying it, is the moment you either think you know fucking everything, or the moment when you realize you’re doing the wrong thing after all. But don’t give up because you think you can’t do it. STOP if you think you don’t want to do it. That’s all part of trying, too.

Of course, in the next blog post I’ll probably tell you to stop trying and just fucking DO IT, like the militant bitch that I am. :) Prepare.

Be My Valentine!

Today’s Brew: Caramel Hot Cocoa. Because it’s a special day. Hallmark SAYS SO.

by Kristen

I was at work, bored out of my mind listening to people rave about a new platform to sell investment banking, and I came up with a brilliant idea.  See? Good stuff can come out of sitting in a cubicle.

I decided to ask some of my author friends what their main couples would get each other for Valentine’s Day.

I think Mr. Jacob Farrish would whisk Lady Eleanore Barnaby off for a few days to Bath or Cornwall, to spend time alone. He’s a busy barrister! ;) She would most likely give him a set of new law books, and a more…um, PRIVATE present later.
–Olivia Kelly, The Heart of a Duke

Corbin would get Mara a new bow and Mara would get Corbin a silver shield. Lol.  Not as fun in the middle ages.
–Tammy Farrell, The Darkness of Light

Beau would get Jack something sarcastic. A slogan tee with ‘If I were chocolate, I’d eat myself‘ written across the front. Or maybe, ‘James Bond 2.0‘  Jack would get Beau a limited edition Yoda doll to replace the one that was broken during the chaos. Or, all things considered, he may get her one of those squidgy stress balls with his face printed on it…
–Louise D. Gornall, In Stone
For their first Valentine’s Day together (if they make it that far, because you’ve got to remember a. They got together two months before graduation and we all know how that usually works out, and b. Tash is kind of an emotional land mine), Grant would most-likely spend weeks stressing over what to get Tash and then eventually ask his mom for guidance. She would tell Grant to get Tash a sweater or something, and Tash would hate it. Tash, on the other hand, would probably be so uncomfortable about the mere thought of taking part in Valentine’s Day that she’d attempt to lighten the mood with some kind of gag gift, and Grant would be horrified because he’d wonder if deep down Tash secretly believes that he would be caught dead wearing a “Female Body Inspector” T-shirt. After a few moments of extremely creative cursing (on Tash’s part) and painful politeness while inwardly violent self-kicking (on Grant’s part), they’d both admit how socially awkward they are and have a good laugh about it together. And then they would make out. The end.
–Isobel Irons, Promiscuous

Abel will give Brandon a customized heart-shaped guitar pick stamped with I PICK YOU, plus a hoodie with the Castaway Planet logo. His valentine card will be very large and festooned with smooching robots, and it will play a tinny “Let’s Get It On” when opened. Brandon will give Abel a limited-edition Captain James P. Cadmus action figure and a giant tin of cinnamon jelly beans, because cinnamon jelly beans will remind him of their road trip always and forever. Also, his construction-paper valentine will look handmade by a monkey with extra thumbs, but Abel will put it under his pillow anyway.
–J.C. Lillis, How to Repair a Mechanical Heart

Tavis would create a special corner in the hedge maze at the Imperial Palace for Faylanna, one with some of her favorite plants from the Gardensia Exotica planted there. It would be secluded, so she could have time to herself if she wanted, or with just Faylanna, Tavis, and their daughter.  Faylanna would secretly arrange with Tavis’ steward to clear several days of commitments and tell him to spend the time any way he wanted, so long as it had nothing to do with being the Crown Prince. They’d end up leaving the city, taking no one but themselves for the week.
–J. Elizabeth Hill, The Nine
 Cerise would give William a doctor costume and he’d go rent a wing of some hospital.
Torren has always loved literature and spent a lot of his free time reading, so as a romantic gift, Lilly would get Torren something book-related, such as an autographed first edition of a book he adores or a new book he hasn’t read yet but which she knows he’ll love. Torren’s romantic gesture for Lilly, on the other hand, would lean toward the experiential rather than the material. He would plan a romantic date and not tell her where they were going. Something super special like showing her a spectacular view she’s never seen before or taking her to a production of Turandot, which was the opera they saw on their first date together and which captivated her and stirred her emotions.
–Jeanie Grey, Awakening 2
Eliza would get Nicholas something ridiculous and so wrong it was right like a plant stand. Nicholas would get Eliza a crazy amount of food, not fancy especially but a lot. Like lobster and stuff. And an onyx necklance. He’d say it was pretty and deathy like her.
–Julie Hutchings, Running Home
Tristan would get Callie an antique sewing machine and some really pretty fabrics, like crushed velvet with a funky dye to it, because she’s been sad she hasn’t been able to make anything since she’s been in Vegas.  Callie would get Tristan a journal, a leather one with a cool cutout pattern for his songs. Then one of them would say something to ruin the whole thing, but they’d make up and have a great night.
–Kristen Strassel, Because the Night

Fighting For Unsuckitude: Editing

TODAY’S BREW: Mocha mint and probably beer.

By Julie

Editing RUNNING AWAY looks like this:

That’s me, in the middle, with the glasses.

I LOVE THIS PART. Right now I’m in the phase where I dig through my Terrifying Binder for bits that didn’t make it into the first draft that I think still have relevance. Before that I went through my notes from hearing Donald Maass speak with Kristen at Backspace Writer’s Convention during Hurricane Sandy last year. And I found this:


When I first started to write RUNNING HOME, Nicholas was fated to be Eliza’s creator, her Shugotenshi. That was the extent of their bond. I wanted it to have an intimacy, but not be just your happy go lucky love story. So I darkened it up, and I made their story as complex and questionable as it should be. Think about what he’s telling her, what his appearance in her life means to who she is and what’s happened in her life. (Trying not to spoil it for anyone who hasn’t read. But it’s happening.) So, I did this:


  1. Shinigami have scents that tailor especially to the victim or person they’re trying to lure in. Nicholas’s becomes a scent of comfort, home, being with people who love you. Appeals to the thing she wants most and never has.
  2. Ellie is never sure if Nicholas really cares for her, or if he just has a duty to her.
  3. The Shinigami have their classic vampire thrall that even they don’t realize they’re using, and Ellie may just be a victim of it and not be in love with Nicholas at all. She questions it.

After making this list, I found myself questioning things about how Nicholas felt, too. Naturally, he would wonder if Eliza was actually in love with him, or if she was just under a sort of spell that he himself placed on her unwittingly. He’d wonder if he was feeling love for her, or if he was just feeling the draw between vampire and their fated offspring, their unmei fumetsu. There should be as much insecurity on his behalf as on hers, no matter how much of an egotistical thing he can be.

Apparently I'm volatile, self-obsessed, don't play well with others.

Apparently I’m volatile, self-obsessed, don’t play well with others.

The great thing about editing for character development is seeing the domino effect of what one little change can make. (It’s how I realized I wanted to start Editing For Cash, also known as Undeaditing.) How would the feelings of both the characters affect what happens next? What will these feelings make them do? (Remember, characters make the action happen, the action doesn’t happen to the characters.) And the most fun; how can I make it worse?

So, for those of you in Editing Land, give this a try, and for the love of Jesus, read one of Donald Maass’s books. First, read all of Chuck Wendig’s blog at THEN read the Maass book. Prepare for this edit like you’re going into battle. Fight for the Unsuckitude of your book. Believe in it with unconditional love. Give it the A at the start of the class, and make it earn the A. Delve into all the aspects of your plot and characters and think of 3 more ways you can make it more intense.


Cutting The Crap: How to Make the Most of Your Time

TODAY’S BREW: Mocha mint something or other that smells like a goddamn Thin Mint and makes me cry with joy.

By Julie

For 10 years I was a panty peddler. One of my jobs as Upper Tier Panty Peddler was my weekly office day. Monday. And holy Christ, you cannot imagine how much there is to do behind the scenes of panty peddling. My office day started at 8 and ended around 6 or 7 with nary a meal or break to be seen, and work still to be done. What it makes me do is assess my time in a very clinical manner. Let me tell you how, because anybody can do this for whatever your form of panty peddling is. These days, it’s going to work for my writing, blogging, and doing developmental editing for cash.


What I did to get my office days under control was this. Open up the notebook. Write down every goddamn thing you do all day. Better yet, get index cards, title them with the the stuff you spend your time on. TWITTER, WRITING NEW WORDS, EDITING, WATCHING TV, PLAYING WITH KIDS, READING, PLAYING GAMES, TEXTING, etc…. and you’ll see quickly which cards fill up the fastest and which are left completely blank.

As Chief Panty Peddler, my notebook would look something like this:

8:00-8:15 supposed to be management meeting but is actually me watching co-workers wake up.

8:15-9:30 management meeting which is actually me talking for sooooooo looooooooong

9:30 starts the schedule! I OPENED THE SCHEDULE!

9:45 takes first phone call from another manager who hates office days

10:00 makes sure doors are open even though I’m in sweatpants and it’s not my job today and the only way I can make sure it’s not my job that day is by wearing inappropriate sweatpants but I do it anyway.

10:10 still on salesfloor dicking around with numbers

10:15 needs the coffee


10:22 takes phone call

10:30 tells all the incoming employees how happy I am to see them. Listens to sob stories forever.


11:15 Is proud of self for a half an hour of work that I’m supposed to do. Answers shipment door. DEALS WITH SHIPMENT FOREVER.


12:05 does 10 incline pushups in tiny office to stay awake during conference call

12:30 speaks on conference  call like I haven’t been texting another manager about how bad this conference call is.

1:00 says “fuck this” and opens schedule again

1:15 gets phone call from another manager about how bad that conference call was

1:20 gets phone call from boss asking how bad that conference call was.

1:30 seethes.

You get the idea. It was actually a lot more in depth than this, and I realized how scattered my days were, how much time I really spent in bits and pieces doing things that didn’t work toward my goal, and I realized that some things had to go entirely.

These days, it’s going to look a lot more like how many minutes I actually spend on Twitter. Right down to the minute. Who I’m talking to. How many minutes I spend making meals, getting snacks, getting drinks for growing boys. How much writing I’m doing as opposed to re-reading. How many times I check e-mail, text, take phone calls. What time I stop writing my book and start Editing For Cash. How much time I spend planning side projects, doing interviews, writing guest posts.

Because working at home, man alive do your days get away from you. It’s noon and showering is nowhere on the horizon. You have not worn actual pants in several days. You have made 6 meals but not eaten one. You’ve given probably 2 hours worth of unpaid for advice while taking away from the work you’re doing. You may be answering one line emails all day, but when you record the minutes that you do so, what that does to your concentration, and how many times you say after, “now’s a good time to make a cup of coffee” I bet you’ll find that those emails add up to about 4 hours in a day, and your book is getting only 2 strong hours of attention. And by you, I mean me. But you’ll have something like this, too. You may find that you’re spending 4 hours on email and Twitter, and 3 hours playing with your kids. Or no hours playing with your kids.

So, I tell you guys. Give this plan a try. I haven’t done it since I eneded my career as Panty Peddler, and look forward to getting a grasp of my day doing it now, so I can give all the attention to the things that matter most. This is where being militant works out. Because in a week when you do this little time log again, you’ll be able to see the changes you made, how much more focused you are, and how much YOU GET DONE.

Inspirational/militant speech over. Now get to work.



Today’s brew: Blueberry awesomesauce

by Kristen

It’s been a great week for The Undead Duo! Julie finished RUNNING AWAY, and RUNNING HOME  is finding new fans with it’s 99 cent sale.

I’ve been waiting about as long as it look Julie to write Running Away for BECAUSE THE NIGHT paperbacks to be available.

You know, about this long.

And on Thursday, they came to be!!  You have several options. You can order your very own copy on Amazon. Or, if you fill out the form below, I will send you an autographed copy. Same deal for Julie. $15 each including shipping, US only. I love you outside the US people, but dude, it’s like pay my rent or pay shipping.


But wait! There’s more!  Julie and I tend to start and end things at the same time, and I typed THE END on the latest installment of The Night Songs Collection, a little ditty called SILENT NIGHT. It’s sort of a Christmas Story. It’s new vampires in the same world that you all know and love from Because the Night. I’m billing it as Pretty Woman meets Dracula at Midnight Mass. It’s still far away from seeing the light of day, but as we all know, you can’t edit nothing.

And even more!!  NIGHT MOVES, the next book in The Night Songs Collection, is coming SOON!  I don’t have the exact release date yet, but SOON!  The cover reveal is March 11, and if you’d like to participate in the party, click here to sign up.

Phew! I’m tired just telling you about all of this! I’m taking a sort of break before I start the next project, which is something totally new for me. And I have a gigantic pile of edits patiently waiting for me. Oh, who am I kidding. You all know I never take a break.


TODAY’S BREW: Mint chocolate coffee and  BOOZE.

By Julie

I started writing the sequel to RUNNING HOME around this time:

AND NOW. IT IS COMPLETE. Like my organs and brain development. I’ve come a long way since the above photo.

Now I shall embark upon the journey of editing and wondering if this thing is worth a goddamn or not, but I think it is. I do. But I’ll still wonder if the last 6 months were really just a lot of ALL WORK AND NO PLAY MAKES JACK A DULL BOY.

Me, maybe.

While you wait for the this sequel that features a boiling hot Irish rebel, a defiled saint, a god of creation, my friend Chynna Blue Scott, and all of our old friends that are now experiencing the dark night of the soul,


That’s right! For the price of a cup of coffee, and not even Dunkin Donuts coffee, but that sub-par Cumberland Farms gas station coffee, you can own the fruits of my first labor! (Sidenote: I quite enjoy Cumberland Farms coffee & all of its glorious creamer options.)  (Second Sidenote: “The fruits of my first labor” refers to my book, not my child.)


“Running Home has a dark beauty which entwines the mundane and the magical.”
~ J.C. Michael, author of Discoredia

“I can’t remember a time I’ve enjoyed a vampire novel so much. The blend of self-aware characters and unique, fresh mythology made for an engaging, addictive read. I believe I have found my new favorite urban vampire story.”
~ Frances Button, Opening Line Literary ‘Zine

IF YOU ALREADY OWN A COPY OF RUNNING HOME, THANK YOU!!!! Thank you for buying it, reading it, hopefully leaving a review on it (hint hint), and for believing in me. Writing is the thing that makes me me. You make it worthwhile for me. You help me show my kids and other writers that there’s value in this storytelling thing. You make it true that the greatest investment you can make is in yourself.

Now, I have some celebrating to do. Thank you all! Happy reading!

(P.S. If you want a signed copy of RUNNING HOME, leave me a comment, tweet me or email me.)



Taking Your Time Takes Time

TODAY’S BREW: S’more to Love. Seethe with your jealousy. Embrace it.

By Julie

Giving myself time is something I am just plain not accustomed to doing. I do everything on a minute to minute schedule because I work at home and because I’m a stay at home mom. These things make me feel like even though I’m doing the most difficult things I have ever done every day, that I’m still not doing anything because I’m in my pajamas. This is ridiculous.

I read a study once that said when you wear comfortable clothes you take something insane like 350 more steps in a day. And yet, if you work a sit-down job, you gain an average of 10 pounds per year even if your diet and excercise routine are strong. So, if you’re running around with kids but sit on your butt a lot in front of a computer and go to the gym on the regs, YOUR HEAD WILL EXPLODE FROM TRYING TO FIGURE THAT EQUATION OUT.

Also, when I don’t go to 100 places per day, or bring in an hourly wage, I feel like I don’t get to ever take a break. This is dumb. Working in jobs where time is money, you don’t ever fully recover from that. And when you entirely adore everything you’re doing, it doesn’t feel like work, no matter how important it may be. Making lunch for your kids is important. Making up wild stories to share with the world is important. Playing Chutes and Ladders is important. Helping people hone their art through editing is important. Working out is important. Reading like a writer and an editor is important. And taking a break is important.

I’ve been busting my ass on the sequel to RUNNING HOME. Today, I put the finishing touches on it, and then IT IS FINISHED. I took some time away from my writing schedule to do developmental editing for some incredible authors, and working this into my schedule means that not only do I have less time to write, but it means I’m working harder. So that means I need to rest sometimes.


Yes, rest. Because doing a lot of things you love is hard because you put all of your energy into them every minute of the day. And it isn’t until I say, “Jeeez, my legs feel like if I stood up right now, I may fall down,” that I realize it is okay to take a day off to screw around playing video games and watching TV. EVEN IF EVERYTHING ISN’T DONE.

I write first drafts in 3 months. That’s what I do. Until I don’t. RUNNING AWAY is going on 6 months! P.S.   I AM WRITING THE FINAL CHAPTER TODAY. I let it sit for one day so every word will be absolutely perfect. Also, not as planned, this book is the longest thing ever written since THE BIBLE. 

But everything unfolds with purpose, in the proper amount of time without being overindulgent and without being rushed. Every word is carefully plotted. And if it took one hundred thousand words before editing, then that’s how long it took. And if it takes the same amount after editing, that’s how many it takes.

I guess taking time applies to more than just the clock.

Time is something we need to use to our advantage, not just something we need to use. Take a break before you break.



This Ain’t Your Momma’s Pinterest


By Julie

I love Pinterest.

But how can that be, Julie? you say. You can’t cook worth shit, and you don’t crochet, and you’re possibly the most inept crafter in existence.

Well, THANK YOU VERY MUCH, and maybe you’re right, but if you’re looking for inspiration, let me tell you, Pinterest never fails me. Just before I wrote this blog I texted Kristen “What am I gonna blog about? I’m so boring.” She didn’t answer me, so point taken, Kristen. WHAT THE HELL EVER. So, I popped on Pinterest and found THIS the second I opened it up:

Byronic by Boris Pelcer

And I said, “OOOOOOOHH!” And I pinned it to my RUNNING HOME board, because OH MY GOD, IT’S ALMOST PERFECT FOR NICHOLAS’S HOMECOMING SCENE, AND IF YOU DON’T KNOW WHAT I’M TALKING ABOUT PLEASE BUY MY BOOK. And immediately I was pumped to write. (Sidenote: For those of you wondering, the RUNNING HOME sequel will be finished in the next 2 days. EEEEEEEEEE!)

But anyway, Pinterest kindles a spark in me for a lot of reasons. I’ll share with you some of my favorite pins in posts from now on. Today, I give you  a smattering, things that stick in my mind and light my imagination up. Go play on Pinterest, you might be shocked what you find there.



Imagine waking up to that landing on you.

LOVE. Jessica Harrison, "Karen" (2013), Found ceramic, epoxy resin putty, enamel paint

I don’t know what else to say except I want one.

Cottage in the Woods

I want to live here forever.

metamorphosis by Natalie Shau 08

Black Swan meets vampires meets creep.

Icicle cave at Misotsuchi, Saitama, Japan (三十槌の氷柱)!

Actual place in Japan. Did you know this was real? I didn’t know this was real.


Imagine what happens in that city above. Who tht girl is, where the animal came from. Why they’re below the city. It just makes me swim with plot lines.

watercolor by darcy

What a love story here.

Okay, that’s enough of me being a creep for now. This is so not even a one hundreth of what I have pinned to refer to. I saved you from the creepiest stuff, because I know my mom looks at this. But what I think the moral of the story is, don’t rule something out that you think won’t give you inspiration. I’m proven wrong time and again when I think “there’s nothing for me there” or in doing this, that or the other thing. Find inspiration wherever you go. Don’t just stumble upon it, seek it out. It keeps your mind alive.

That being said, go spend the next four hours staring at Pinterest recipes.

Wahlburger’s & Personal Assistants & Things That Don’t Go Together

TODAY’S BREW: Chocolate Capuccino. Not actual capuccino. Capuccino flavored.

By Julie

So, I’m watching this episode of Wahlburgers, because naturally, I am a Burger Broad, and I love burgers. Side note: Mark Wahlberg used to work out at my gym. Also, it’s right around our stomping ground, just about a half hour away in Hingham, where I used to work as a personal assistant to an artist and local businesswoman, as well as a long time friend.

Yeah, that’s right. I was a personal assistant. Imagine that.

Paul Wahlberg was forced into getting an assistant on the show, and the poor girl did a lot of what I felt like I did a lot of in that position, too. “Standing around like a weirdo.”

When you are a personal assistant, your mind wanders often to what you would have your own personal assistant do. In the event that I become a rich douchebag, by the way, this job as my assistant is already promised out to one Jennifer Wesson, my former co-manager at Victoria’s Secret. This has been set in stone for years. This is the same Jenn that is the basis for Jenniveve in RUNNING HOME.

Being an assistant was pretty kick ass. My employer hated food shopping. So I did it. She had a closet that had a life of its own, it just erupted in clothing heaps and dry cleaning bags and shoes and I would spend countless hours in there organizing for her. I loved this, by the way. Loved it.

But if I had an assistant? That poor thing would be going to the post office. And the bank. I hate that shit.

My assistant would be getting me so much food, it would basically be me, getting fatter by the second, handing cash to this assistant every half hour, and seeing what else they could bring me.

More things I would have my assistant do:

  1. Drink on the job. I have a solid belief that most jobs are performed just a little bit better with one beer in you.
  2. Claim I have a strange disease. This would get us into restaurants faster and get me better seats at sporting events.
  3. Cry in public. I would maybe just pinch her now and then so she would tear up, and I could be seen comforting her. “That Julie Hutchings is a real hero.” You’d hear that everywhere.
  4. Go the the movies with me. Like once a week, seriously.
  5. Pair the clean socks out of the laundry. Come on, I’m a fucking hero now, and I still have to do this?
  6. Wear knee pads. Because guess what, assistant girl? You’re playing Legos a lot and you’re probably going to get kicked in the knees by Sam a lot.
  7. Dig through Chuck Wendig’s trash. I need a day off now and then. The raccoons just don’t do the job they used to.
  8. Force me to get my hair cut. I will do anything to avoid getting my hair cut, because it is SO. FUCKING. BORING. Even though Kristen does it, and we drink, and I’m in my pajamas, I hate getting it done. The dull is too much.
  9. Play air hockey with me. All the time. We’d do this to relieve stress probably daily, and then once a week there would be drunk dodgeball tournaments. The assistant of course would have to arrange the details.
  10. Bring coffee to random people. This is something I want to do, just bring cups of coffee to people at shitty jobs. People I don’t even know. Now I can have an employee in her shitty job bring these coffees to people in their shitty jobs, and say it was from me, the author of RUNNING HOME. Hero points–Boom.

I hope we all have the opportunity to have an assistant for a week. In all seriousness, I would really just go out of my way to make it the most pleasant, fulfilling time I could. I’d have her do stuff I do with my family, and make her wear her pajamas. She’d get a tiara to wear around “the office” which is “my apartment.” And I would get to write, like, a book a second.

What kind of boss would you be in this situation? Tell me the things you hate to do.

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