Deadly Ever After

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

Archive for the tag “Julie Hutchings”

Julie Gets Sorta Medical Up In Your Face

TODAY’S BREW: Candy Cane, because I don’t like candy canes but I like candy cane flavored stuff.

By Julie

When I whine-texted Kristen asking her what I should blog about she said I should blog about what’s on my mind.

Know what’s on my mind? Fibroid tumors.

I’ll do my bestest to not make this too graphic or give you all my nitty-gritties, but as I learn more about this “large fibroid” and “some other vascular growth,” I’ve realized how many irritating issues are a result/symptom of the goddamn things. I thought some of you out there would be happy to hear from someone just now dealing with them some of the things that I’ve been experiencing. Things I had NO IDEA could have to do with the tumor. (BY THE WAY, THESE TUMORS ARE ALMOST ALWAYS BENIGN.)

First of all, you should know that up to three quarters of women between 30 and 40 are estimated to have fibroids. Here is some crap that I’ve dealt with and some that I haven’t that are all indicators of fibroids:

  • Restless Leg Syndrome or leg pains
  • extremely heavy menstrual periods (sorry, gentlemen) attributed to my age
  • abdominal pain
  • urinary or bowel problems
  • pain during sex
  • lower back pain
  • fever
  • fatigue
  • headaches

Not much information is out there saying that fibroids link to depression, anxiety and severe mood swings, but it IS out there. And it makes perfect sense, especially if the fibroids grow large enough to interfere with other organs. (It seems there are not usually many symptoms until they’ve grown enough to contact other organs.) It also makes sense that fibroids are often caused by a hormone imbalance.

I’ve been struggling a LOT with anxiety, and yeah I have a lot to be anxious about, but my panic attacks have been debilitating, astronomical in number, and far worse during my cycle. My moods change drastically from minute to minute and I can FEEL that it’s irrational, that they’re without trigger. I’ve known for a long time that something was off in my body and that it was doing something to my mental state. I am on medications for anxiety which I’m a big fan of and don’t expect the treatment of the fibroids to change that. But I do expect to feel RIGHT again. And just knowing that there’s a physical cause for the extremely tell-tale hormonal surges makes me have more hope than I’ve had in a long time. Hope I didn’t realize I’d lost.

So, I say all this stuff as just a person who’s had this/these tumors for what appears to be a very long time. Everyone tells everyone else to get checked for this, that, and the other thing, all important. What I’m saying is that I’ve had some seriously difficult issues that are due in large part to this at one time minor issue. I just want you to pay attention to your body, don’t brush off its messages to you, and don’t always assume that the seemingly unlinked things are just that. Treat yourself well. You’re needed.

Making Rejection Easy With Your Host, Julie

TODAY’S BREW: Target brand Candy Cane. It was less than $3.

By Julie

Writers put themselves through the ringer. We beat ourselves to hell getting words on paper to give to critique partners and welcome their line by line shredding. Then we do it all over again. And as if finishing the book isn’t enough, now we have to put it out into the world and seemingly beg for rejections. From advanced readers, from agents, from editors and publishers, and eventually readers. This thing that you’ve bled into, and you’ve sent it out to be


I watch writers sob, question their talent, their self-worth, all of their choices over ten or twelve pints of ice cream and booze after those rejections start rolling in. It kills me to watch. I have to say that one thing I am wildly proud of in myself is my ability to handle these rejections. I never let them get me down, and can count on two fingers the number of times I’ve cried over them. This is how:

    • I prepared to be rejected. Rejection is part of the process. Not everyone is going to love your work the way you do, and querying takes practice. You’ll think that your query is perfection and look at it in a month and think what in hell crap is this that I’ve conjured up? Knowing that, I didn’t query my dream agents first. I had practice agents, if you will. So when those rejections showed up, they were part of the plan. I felt in control. Those first queries are the pawns in this game of chess. I viewed that first wave of rejections as Step One, and I checked off that I’d done it. Easy.
    • I don’t give my work ultimatums. I of course have dream agents and dream publishers. But if they don’t like my stuff, or if they do but can’t sell it, I refuse to see it as the end for my book. I stand behind my work unfalteringly, and have had this attitude from day one: My books are coming out, one way or another. So shoot for the stars, the dream agents and publishers, but don’t hit the ground if they don’t catch you. Write what you want and if you believe in it, it will find its way out into the world.
    • Don’t take the rejection as a personal blow. Sure, some of the rejections baffle me. I have publishing houses on Twitter that follow me and rejected my books. But it isn’t ME they don’t connect with, it’s that they don’t think the project is safe enough for them to make money off of. That’s okay. Watch Shark Tank. Those folks like a lot of people and products but know when they can’t do the project justice and pass on it.
    • See the thing that gets you rejected and make it your point of pride. I’ve got a list of these bitches. Vampires. Paranormal. Abrasive female characters. Risky. Too cerebral. “Dangerous.” Well hell yes! All of this sounds like my favorite stuff. So if I do this to the point that it overtakes the tone of the book, then boom, I’ve done exactly what I wanted and you’re scared of it. I’m not. This is the voice I want to see in the world; mine.
    • Have backup plans from the start. This is important part for me, so listen, because I feel like it’s helped me keep my sanity. I’ve known from the first day I started querying that my book was coming out because I’d make it come out. The dream was everyone’s: Get an amazing agent, have said agent sell you to an amazing publisher, become famous. But this was the dream. And dreams can come true, but if they don’t I plan on creating my own reality that looks pretty damn close. I queried a million agents, and I knew that if I never landed one, I’d go to small presses. If small presses wouldn’t have me, I’d self-publish. My safety net was that the book was coming out.
    • Don’t let them tell you anything you don’t already know. I got rejected by all of my dream publishers, even the one that I was really sure would love me. But all of these big press rejections told me something I already knew and I took great pride in it: my work is too different and unsafe to be a sure thing. So when those rejections came, it was just what I needed to show me that indie was probably best for me anyway. If they’d come back saying the writing was poor, I would have been surprised. But I looked at my work from every angle and knew that it might just not be right for traditional publishing as it is right now. They more or less agreed with me. Know your work well enough to not get any surprises.

So this is all my stuff. Rejection is a sure thing in the publishing industry. Know you aren’t above it, and you’ll learn to work around it. But always remember: Write what you have to write, and that will show through in the manuscript. A book like that always finds its way into the world.

Dry those tears and make a path for your work. Look past the trees to see the forest.

Kristen and Julie’s Favorite Books of 2014!

Today’s brew: Caramel Chai tea

by Kristen

Happy New Year! Yeah, I know I’m a day or so late on this, but whatever. You know we’re on Undead Duo time.

I’m not a huge fan of year end nostalgia. I don’t need the news to remind me about Ferguson or Ebola like it’s a new story. But I love these year-end book lists. There’s a lot of books out there. A lot. There’s no way to keep up with them all. I’ve discovered some new interesting books these past couple weeks.  I hope you guys will with our lists, too.


Julie reads differently now that she’s an author and an editor, but it hasn’t changed what she likes. Sci fi, dystopians, vampires, horror, stories of warriors and stories of romances that will never end. “These days the character has to drive the story for me without question. A good idea isn’t enough. A character that I want to see more of is the critical element that I demand as a reader, writer and editor. I read with an open heart as author David James once said. I don’t go in looking for what I personally could do better, or what doesn’t work,” she says. She reads more carefully now, because she doesn’t have the time that she did before. “But I must read for my sanity and for my job as author. I read with strategy now. First I like to read something that relates to what I’m writing so that even when I’m reading, I’m in the mood to write. It can be as simple as that I’m working on a YA so I read YA.” She likes to see how authors make their reputations, and how they make a story their own.

Yes, she sees more typos now. But as long as the story and characters are captivating, she can overlook them.  “I’ve seen works that had an incredible premise, and the character wasn’t complex enough or the themes fleshed out enough for me to buy into it. That’s the editor and the writer in me that wants every story to work. The editor in me wants to take the great idea and make it come alive the way the author intended it, in their voice, and it saddens me when that hasn’t happened,” she says.

FairylandThe Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne Valente: Yes, the world is stunningly imaginative and vivid with Neil Gaiman-like depths and Oz-like creepiness/beauty, but what makes the series is September. September is a less than likely heroine, because she’s twelve. But man alive is she self-aware, self-possessed, and while she’s afraid of her choices, she makes them with conviction. She’s entirely believable as all of these things because of Valente’s gorgeous writing style that is breathtakingly poetic when she tells us things like September is a child, and therefore mostly heartless. The relationships that the child forms are solid, thoughtful, full of plausible, sweet love and ones I want to revisit in every novel in the series. Another thing Valente does incredibly well– she keeps the relationships interesting and fulfilling while still giving us loss and realism. Just an amazing feat of literature.


poisonprincessPoison Princess (The Arcana Chronicles) by Kresley Cole: I’m a sucker for dystopian novels, as well as for new and exciting paranormally/urban fantasy stuff. Cole gives us both of these things plus a great heroine with a bitchin’ dark side, a cast of delicious characters and a love triangle for the ages. As far as page-turning, can’t-get-enough stuff, this was by far my favorite book this year. Cole roped me in with references to the world’s end that this seemingly ordinary young girl managed to survive, and as if that isn’t enough to keep me reading, Cole throws at us this amazing mythology of the Arcana and our heroine’s place in it, the worldly and otherworldly loves that she falls into, and then puts this nice girl in a bunch of death traps that test her and make her grow on each page. I’m in love.



matchedMatched by Ally Condie: This one surprised me. At first I found it stiff, didn’t see what was exciting about the main character that would make me want to follow her story. But Condie had a plan, and it came to light quick. The stiffness lent to the Orwell-ish setting, but I wanted emotion, a breakout hero from that dystopia. It was when Condie ocassionally hit me with gorgeously poetic and hopeful prose that I saw there were more layers to this novel than I originally thought. And when Cassia’s voice seeped through those layers, hidden by the Society even in the very wording, I found myself truly excited by her. Her willingness to learn, to be different, while very quietly remaining a part of the Society. And as the series (which I devoured fast) moves forward, we see Cassia emerge more and more from the text and the story becomes truly complex, heartbreaking, and powerful. Condie hooked me.


sinnerSinnerby Maggie Stiefvater: This was an easy one. Stiefvater is one of my favorite authors, and the Wolves of Mercy Falls is my favorite series of hers, so when this unexpected addition to the series came to life, I was the first one at the book store smelling my copy. Don’t judge me. This novel is not just a shut-up-my-fans book (something I don’t think Stiefvater would be capable of). She takes characters that another author would make vapid and dull, and gives them gorgeous, loveable depth. Isabel, the fashionista rich bitchy girl, has serious trust issues and Cole, rockstar werewolf back from the dead, is an egomaniacal drug addict with poetry in his heart and a monster sense of humor. It was love at first sight with this book. Stiefvater never steers me wrong. (Note from Kristen: I need to read this.)



wonder showWonder Show by Hannah Barnaby: I’ve got a thing for circus stuff, despite having never been to the circus. Writing a story about a freak show that’s not ALL FREAKS at the heart of it is a feat. This is the story of how Portia ended up at the freak show, her heartwrenching story and the strength it gave her to go to a place where she didn’t belong among a bunch of people that don’t belong. She’s clever, brave, calculating. And yet we love her for what she’s lost, for her hopes, and for the sweet little love story that barely forms throughout. I just love this book and plan to read it again and again.





Writing has changed the way  I read this year. If you’re wondering what my Achilles’ heel is, it’s reading. I haven’t read nearly as much as I’ve wanted to this year, and I’m making a concentrated effort to catch up. I’ve been reading for research lately, but not non-fiction. I’ve been reading a lot of book by popular romance authors, a genre I never paid enough attention to before I branched into writing straight romance. Don’t get me wrong, like Carrie Bradshaw, I am in love with love, but it had been a long time since my first choice wasn’t paranormal, biographical, or even literary fiction.  Needless to say, it’s been an up and down year. I’ve picked up some things I normally would not have. Some captivated me and I still can’t stop talking about them. Some had me muttering curse words under my breath.  I’m not as afraid to abandon ship on a book. If it’s not working for me, I’ll find something that does.

Regrettably, there are some books I can’t read any more. I have a hard time with classics. I’m horrified by this. But some of them are just too slow for me now. Blame it on my ADD, I guess. Like Julie, I notice typos more, and I’m okay with that. I know how hard it is to make something flawless.

I don’t think my taste has changed, like Julie, I’m pickier now, but I’m still all about a good, smutty, fantastical story at heart.

poisonprincessPoison Princess by Kresley Cole. First of all, I should be on Kresley’s payroll for this book. I’ve sold it to random strangers in Barnes and Noble. But silly Kristen did not want to read this book when Julie so kindly offered me something for my plane ride to Vegas. Stop me if you’ve heard this before, but I’d been working like a dog, and I didn’t have a chance to pick anything up. So I took her Kresley Cole book. I was alright with Kresley’s vampire stuff, but it was nowhere near my favorite. And this was YA? Dystopia? Ugh. Julie. But it’s six hours to Vegas, so this girl begrudgingly opened the book. Then I could. Not. Put. It. Down. I almost threw it out the plane window in the beginning, while Evie’s still in High School, but once the Flash hit, holy crap. Buckle your seatbelt. I could not put this down. The story reached up and grabbed me with both hands. The world, the struggles, and Jackson Deveaux. He was my first book boyfriend in a long time (although he’s sharing the throne now, keep reading). Cole nails the alpha male. I drove around Vegas like a maniac looking for the second book, Endless Knight, because I COULD NOT WAIT to have it.  Book three, Dead of Winter, comes out Tuesday, and all I can say try not to need me because this chick has a date with Jackson.

stormStormby Carian Cole. This book is the proof to me that blog tours work. I found this book as I scrolled through my Facebook feed on my author page, and a blogger had a release day blast. I mean, look at this guy. If you’re wondering what the men in my brain look like, it’s that. Storm Valentine. So I totally bought this book based on its smokin’ hot cover. And Storm was just as hot on the inside as he was on the outside. I’m wary of rock star romances. Some of these guys get written like brainless sex machines, but Storm was written with complexity and emotion. Three months later, I’m still captivated by this guy.  He was the one who managed to unseat Jackson. I could totally identify with Evie as well, settling for the safe things, afraid to take a chance. Readers get down on heroines like that, and I think it’s because they can hit a little close to home. Book two, Vandal, comes out in February, and that’s another day you can’t need me, because I need to get to know Storm’s brother.


promiscuousPromiscuous by Isobel Irons I offered to beta this book, and man, was that a good decision. This book showed me what New Adult literature could be. Brash, unapologetic, and raw. This book shies away from nothing. Tash gets labeled as the school slut, and she’s fine with that. But she’s actually a virgin. Her best friend is wilting under high school pressures, and dying from an eating disorder. They live in a trailer park, and come face to face on a daily basis with the uglier things in life. Also, I loved Margot’s grandma and aunt. A+ old ladies in a young persons’ book. This book woke up my writing. Instead of writing a story, I let my characters tell the story in their own voices. I owe a lot to Isobel Irons for that. Reading this book liberated me.

alone with youAlone with You by Debbi Rawlins Yeah, this one surprised me, too. I got it for free at the NECRWA conference, and opened it because I needed to something to read in a pinch. I judged it for looking a little cheesy. And I’d read plenty of genre Harlequins, historical, erotic, what have you, but never a straight one! Yes, this is true. I was really impressed with this book. Sure, it followed a formula, the poor little rich girl and the bull rider (Tanner! Fans self), but they had complexity and I was really into their story. Again, I enjoyed Tanner because he was alpha without being demanding or abusive. He was a man who was sure of himself.  So if you turn your nose up at these kind of books, do yourself a favor and give one a try.



TIE: LOVE, CARLY by Rosemary McElhannon and AND SCENE by Nikki Rose. I can’t link you to any pretty pictures or buy links on these ones. Why? These books aren’t out yet. They were both submitted to me when I mentored Pitch Wars.  I chose Love, Carly as my top pick and turned down And Scene because there was nothing I could do to make it better. They’re both movie star books, which is another genre I usually steer clear of. I work in the industry, and I’m going to spot bullshit from a mile away. But both Rosemary and Nikki nailed their movie stars. In Love Carly, Devon Hayes is on top of the world and Carly Klein is straight out of a stint in rehab. They’re costarring in a movie. Can they make it through without scandal? Do they want to?  Devon is hot. In And Scene, Preston’s a Dom who’s looking for a sub who can keep his A list sized secret. He finds Mina, and they even have the same hard limit: love. I know an agent or two reads this blog, and if you’re reading this, please consider these books!  They’re well written, well developed, and they made this list ahead of a lot of other well read authors.  Get in touch and I’ll point you in the right direction!

Julie Takes the Gloves Off For 2015

TODAY’S BREW: Trader Joe’s Winter Blend. I love this stuff.

By Julie

You guys know me pretty well. What you see is what you get here, so if you think you don’t know me, then you haven’t seen anything. In any case here are some solid truths about me that are important these days:

I’m a determined, will-do sonofabitch. Nothing stops me, I don’t make excuses and I make damn sure that I turn every slip-up, every “failure” or rejection into a building block. I make plans, I change them, and I trust my gut. I’m true to me, I believe in myself and I make my own luck. Even when I lose, I win. And I have a helluva time doing it.

I firmly don’t believe in bad days. I’m a resilient motherfucker, and part of that means not getting bogged down by a string of bad moments, but brushing them off and creating the day you want. This also works for week, month, year, life.

If you know me REALLY well, you know that these things weren’t true of me in 2014. This year was a ballbuster. Hardest year of my life. And it beat me down. I’m one that’s quick to say that things can only beat you down if you let them, and more accurately I exemplify it. I’ve had a lot of experiences that change lives, and I’ve made a lot of life changing choices. I NEVER let my circumstances decide my life for me.

Then New Year’s Eve 2013 came. And my husband suddenly didn’t have a job. We already lived pretty goddamn minimally, and were perfectly happy about it. But this? This removed all of our steady income. Not to mention that we’re creatures of routine and habit. We like familiarity around here. Tim had worked at that job down the street from us since we were in high school. Imagine that feeling at 40 and what it does to a person. But as poor as we were, we’d be lying if we said we didn’t love being at home together all the time! The kids, Tim and me? We rarely got irritated by each other, we genuinely enjoyed our time. But it was hard because money and the inevitable depression of unemployment as hard-working people.

Not long after Tim got a new (wonderful for the heart) job, our then 3 year old baby began…. losing himself. WE were losing him. He was always a wild card, earning himself the nickname “Frats” because he was a walking frat party from birth. Without getting too in-depth, his spirit took a turn for violence, debilitating habits that had us walking on eggshells at best, and holding each other sobbing in parking lots at worst. Long, draining story short, we saw (and continue to see) several psychologists, psychiatrists and counselors, finally determining that our boy is not only extremely hyperactive, but has OCD and we need to be on the lookout for bi-polar disorder. Just keeping up with it, the medication, the constant shifting of gears, the effect of changing lots of rules in a house of routine and trying to be fair, nurturing, FUN, and a warrior for my kids’ health while one thrived and grew and the other struggled…. it tore me to shreds. A million times over. The whole time I was virtually isolated due to the new work schedule and my exhaustion. A dark night of the soul indeed.

The hits just kept coming, all year long, one after the other right up until this very week when I found out I have a large fibroid and some other vascular growth to be meddled with.

All of this put my writing and editing jobs into a flummox, and that last of my very own routines was demolished. The thing that was all my own that kept me sane, gone. Sure, RUNNING AWAY came out, and I’m grateful for that, but I wasn’t able to give it the attention it deserves upon publication, and the new book I’m working on has been recently shelved just to give myself a break. (Not for long. I start work again second week of January, so Jolene Haley, don’t freak out. THE WIND BETWEEN WORLDS is still very much alive.) In other book news, THE HARPY, which was being pitched to traditional publishers by my agent was determined overall to be too dangerous, too risky, too unorthodox and too “abrasive.” Rejections rolled in. But that is a story for another post.

In any case, this post for as little as it touches on our troubles this year, would have had me shuddering and scream-crying even a couple of weeks ago. Not now.

We were determined to give my boys an amazing Christmas. Sam, with all of the hard work he put in this year as just a baby, to simply be happy with himself deserved everything in the world for all his incredible progress. Doctors are shocked that he is so fantastic in public, so wonderful with other kids, so communicative and incredible in his first year of preschool because it must be exhausting for him. This baby tries so hard, most adults will never know how to control their emotions the way this child does. In the meantime, Bennett at 7 years old, is being asked to bend the rules over and over for his brother. He sacrifices, sees violence that he shouldn’t, and yet is happiest when he’s at home. He won an academic achievement award at school, not to mention countless little good behavior tickets from teachers. He’s sensitive, thoughtful, kind, hilarious, and loves his little brother more than I have ever seen any kid love their sibling. He taught him how to write, for chrissakes.

So these kids get ALL THE CHRISTMAS PRESENTS. Because if there’s one way to reward a kid for a great year, it’s that way. Simple. Fun. The final pat on the back of the year. Not to mention that our family was all together, when work has not permitted it as much, and we were so happy. Best Christmas ever.

I wanted a Christmas that kicked 2014 in the ass and said, “YOU’RE OVER. YOU CAN GO NOW.” It was my favorite Christmas ever, and Christmas vacation is still as amazing as the days leading up to it. We’re so happy. That’s all I want.

2014 knocked me to the ground and kicked me over and over. I was defensive. There was no plan, only reaction. There was little personal victory because I was always just trying to get up on my knees again.

Those days are over. I’m a warrior at heart, always have been. Any warrior worth his armor takes serious beating before their greatest victory.

Watch out, 2015. I’m coming for you.

Some Bargains To Help You Fill Your New Kindle

Today’s Brew: I learned today that Cinnabon’s cinnamon bun K cups are exceptionally delicious.

by Kristen

Yay! Santa brought you a new ereader!  Let’s fill that bitch up!  I know a lot of people are running sales this week, so I wanted to bring your attention to some great reads. This is a great chance to catch up on your reading and try out some new to you authors.

If you find something you love, tell a friend. Hell, tell all your friends. (Do you know how many people I’ve convinced to read Poison Princess by Kresley Cole?  I’ve sold it to random shoppers in Barnes and Noble. I don’t work there. Read it. No one is sorry yet. #teamjackson, yo.)  And nothing says love like leaving a review. I know it can seem intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be a magazine quality piece. Just a sentence or two on what you think is fine.

Prices are accurate as of posting the evening of 12.25.14, even if they’ve gone up by the time you have a chance to read this, check these books out:

Julie’s Shinigami books are both on sale for 99 cents:

Running Home
Running Away

A little me time. The Night Songs Collection 1-3 Box Set will be 3.99 through December 31, 2014.  Not ready to take a bite (see what I did there?) out of three books? Start slow, they’ll be around forever. (I’m hysterical tonight).  Because the Night is 99 cents.

Kat Daemon’s Taming Darkness is 99 cents.

Kaira Rouda’s In the Mirror is 99 cents, and A Mother’s Day is FREE!

All of S.P. Cervantes’ books are 99 cents right now, including the just released His Jar of Hearts.

The Request by Marquita Valentine is FREE!

Karen Erickson’s Wicked Weekend is FREE! Vegas in the house!

Enjoy these books!

How Wearing a Tutu Was a Business Decision by Julie

TODAY’S BREW: Chestnut Praline Latte. (It has replaced the Peppermint Mocha for me. Also, I’m just drinking my crappy home coffee.)

By Julie 

The Undead Duo had our first book signing TOGETHER this weekend at Penny Watson’s Holiday Book Bash. It was also a Christmas party, so there were gorgeous alcoholic drinks AND NO I WAS NOT THE FIRST ONE TO BUY ONE but maybe the second.

But this was a business event. Forty authors, lots of publicity around Boston for it.

And I, Julie Hutchings, knew ahead of time I would be out of my element. Here’s why:

  • I knew two people there. Everyone else knew each other.
  • It was a romance writers’ party. I don’t typically read romance, I don’t write it, and forgive me for saying so, but I don’t come across as one either.
  • Everyone there would have a half dozen books published and know self publishing from the inside out. I have two out, the rest working their way through traditional publishing and small press.

Kristen has told me some of what to expect at a Romance Writers of America function, and I knew it wasn’t necessarily my crowd. But that has never stopped me. In a crowd that size with names more known than mine, a person could easily fade into the background.

Operation: Stand Out Like A Sore Thumb

Trying to fit in doesn’t work for me. Never has and I don’t want it to be something I ever do. Being as ME as possible is what works for me.

How to Be Julie For Business:

  • I bought a goddamn tutu for this event. Go big or go home. THIS IS IT (lovely lady pictured not me):

my tutu

It was my intention to walk in there and have all eyes on me. No shyness allowed.

  • We took the first table, right next to the food, across from the bar.
  • When Penny’s microphone died, I stepped up in front of the room full of strangers and said in my voice which is WOW, “PENNY IS DOING A GIVEAWAY NOW.” Then I announced the names for the giveaway with her.
  • I showed up with party favors. If my book wasn’t the thing sought after that day, I was going to make them remember it. So I thought of the thing that makes my book stand out to EVERYONE which is the strong scent theme. (The Shinigami vampire scent is tailored to appeal to specific people.) I made tiny stockings with a malted milkball and French Vanilla marshmallow “shooter,” a candy cane Hershey kiss, a Christmas cookie tea light with a sticker on the bottom that has a quote from Running Away on it, and a peppermint tea bag with a bookmark and all my links attached. “This tastes and smells like Running Home reads,” I said and handed them out to everybody. I didn’t wait for people to come to me, I went to them.
  • I STOOD UP. I didn’t sit behind our table full of books and stuff. I stood up and spoke to people. I did it first. I said, “Hi, I’m Julie,” and shook hands with a big smile on my face. (Sidenote: The next sentence out of everyone’s mouths was “Your tutu is amazing” or something close to. Easy conversation starter.)
  • When talking about going through a small press, I was loud and proud about having been the only woman published through Books of the Dead Press that summer, and still only in the company of a handful. It makes me different, special, and I’m proud of it. (There’s no such thing as a man’s world, baby.)

You know what? My plan worked. I sold books, gained some new followers, made friends, learned a bunch. I owned the crowd the only way I know how.

Writing a book is hard, publishing a book is harder, selling it is hardest. So sell what makes it unlike anything else out there: YOU. This works in all walks of life. Find the thing that makes you like nobody else in the world, and the thing that makes your product that way, and make the world know it. Be proud. Be you.

Come See Us At The Book Bash!

Today’s brew: There’s some sort of Christmas Cookie martini thing that’s going to be at the book bash tomorrow. If you come, you can have one too.

Tomorrow is Julie and I’s very first book signing together!  Come see us and 40 other authors in Needham, MA.  Admission is free. There’s a cash bar, so you know that’s going to make everything one hundred percent more entertaining.  I made my infamous drunken peppermint brownies.  There will be a raffle for some awesome prizes, and oh yeah, books for sale!

If you’re not sure it’s us, I’ll be the one with the ombre hair that fades to bright pink. Julie will be in the tutu. So basically, everything you ever expected.

I hope to see you there!

Penny Watson's HOLIDAY BASH new ad

Getting in Your Face About the Holidays by Julie

TODAY’S BREW: Breakfast Blend. It’s December!

By Julie

Thanksgiving was great. Busy as hell and totally not busy at the same time. Never made it to the freezing cold parade, which is a big deal here in America’s Hometown, but me and the boys went to the Lego store to celebrate Ben getting an Academic Excellence award and Sam just being awesome. Had gourmet grilled cheese, listened to Christmas songs and were generally goofy together. And having everyone together for Turkey Day was lovely. We truly were all able to forget all of our troubles just be happy together with Gramma and Grandpa. It was fantastic to hang out the entire day at home on Black Friday and even have Tim home until noon. That has NEVER happened. Then the kids and I blew off the rest of the weekend at book stores, toy stores, the park, an awesome off-season drive down to Cape Cod and watching movies. Perfect.


First off, if you’re one of those ball-busting I can’t wait until it’s all over folks, good for you. Don’t ruin it for everyone else. Take a kid’s name off the tree at the mall, buy the kid a coat and a toy and shhhhhhut up. Nobody WANTS to be miserable…. make an effort not to be. This isn’t me being preachy, this is me demanding a good time.

My demands of having a good time get me in trouble. For instance, we are poor. Still buying Christmas presents though. Still adopting a kid or two for charity. Still bring the kids out because it makes them happy. Still got a tutu for Penny Watson’s Holiday Book Bash this weekend in Needham, MA. Because screw it. This was the hardest year of my life, and that’s saying something. I don’t generally say I had a bad DAY even, let alone a bad year, but hay-zoos, I’m not in denial. Regardless, bad circumstances won’t determine my future, and they sure as hell won’t determine my present. I live like I’m on a constant sitcom that may turn into a tragedy at any second. But it’s never dull and I’ve accomplished something by living through it some days. And at the end of that day I still am surrounded by lots of love.

When you’re aggravated about shopping, snow, your bank account and all the things you don’t have, remember the things you do have and the things you could make happen. Remember what Christmas means to YOU. If it means nothing, change it. Make everything mean something. What else are you doing here?

(I don’t mean you, Greg. What are you doing here?)

In the meantime, come drink with Kristen and I and 40 other authors this Saturday if you’re in town.

What I’d Rather Hear Than I’m Beautiful: A Rant by Julie

TODAY’S BREW: Butter Rum and then Pumpkin Spice and then back to Butter Rum

By Julie

I’ve got a bone to pick. There has been a lot of discussion in social media on feminist issues recently, more so than usual I feel, and I think that’s great. THAT’S GREAT. To be clear, either you’re a feminist or you’re not. Either you demand equality or you don’t, male or female. I’m a feminist. I’d like to think you guys are too.

The #YesAllWomen hashtag became a movement that brought to light and proved that every woman you know has endured some kind of inequality, from everyday irritations to tragedies. Every woman. (One I thought was amazing was this one: because I was taught to scream “fire” instead of “rape” because it increases the chances of someone coming to help.

On a more positive note, I’m bursting with joy that Keira Knightly posed topless. (see the article here. WARNING, PEOPLE WITH BREASTS ARE TOPLESS. Keira Knightley Goes Topless For Interview Magazine (NSFW) )  And yes, read the comments. I love the message that just because she’s seen as beautiful doesn’t mean that she doesn’t feel inadequate when it comes to photoshopping. Bodies aren’t to be judged by what the ideal of perfection is, no matter your personal preference, and to me that means men and women alike. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again…. I feel judged by women based on my body far more than I do by men, and bodyshaming is an issue we all have a hand in.

But Julie, I thought you were going to confess your unpopular opinion!!

On the other hand, I have to say I got pretty pissed at the appearance of this hashtag, and subsequent overuse of the hashtag the other day: #WhatIdRatherHearThanImBeautiful. Some of them were funny. Hell, most of them were funny. Like”Would you like free donuts with that?” Funny. Some were touching. One woman said a man once told her she was the most resilient person he’d ever met. But in general I was pissed. Here’s why:

A) Just because a woman has a million wonderful attributes, does not mean she can’t be beautiful TOO.

B) I don’t care who you are. You make an effort to be physically attractive by your own standard. If someone tells you that they see it, too, it feels good. Deny it.

C)A person’s physical beauty is only enhanced by their other attributes. See also: every “regular” woman that has ever been fawned over in the company of a “more beautiful” woman.

D) Most of the time if you’re told you’re beautiful it’s because you’re approachable enough to be told so. THIS IS GOOD.

E) Being told you’re beautiful is not on par with receiving 100 catcalls in a 10 hour period.

F) Suggesting that man shouldn’t feel comfortable to tell a woman she’s beautiful takes feminism and twists it into exactly the thing that feminists don’t want: to be viewed as complaining for the sake of complaining and to be seen as a certain type of feminist often referred to as “the ballbuster.”

G) If you mean to tell me you’ve ever been insulted for being told you’re beautiful, I want to hear this story.

H) Yes, you have other qualities. Let one of them be knowing how to take a compliment.

I) A man approaches you say, at a bar. If that man tells you he approached you because he can tell what a caring person you are, HE IS PROABABLY LYING. I get it, you don’t want to be approached just because you’re at a bar. I’m here to say LIGHTEN UP. If you’re not interested, say thank you and smile, and walk away. OR TAKE IT IN STRIDE AND BE UP FRONT WITH HIM NICELY. If there’s more to you than your beauty and that’s the point you’re trying to prove, then show it goddammit.

Or maybe talk to the guy. YEAH, YOU CAN ALSO JUST TALK TO THE GUY. What you look like doesn’t have to be all that he sees.

J) If you have to tell a person what to say and not to say when approaching you or speaking to you in any sort of situation, then maybe you are the one who needs to dig a little deeper. If you’re so sick of being told you’re pretty that you start to wonder if there’s any more to you than that, perhaps it’s not being told so that is your trouble.

K) How many times have you as a woman, started a conversation with something like, “I like your shirt/hair/shoes.” Did the woman say, “THERE’S MORE TO ME THAN MY SHIRT/HAIR/SHOES!” No. Probably not. Same thing.

L) In a relationship of any kind, all a person can say about you is that you’re beautiful? Yeah, that spells trouble in that relationship. But I’m willing to be that if the person didn’t know there was more to you than outer beauty, you would have had the hutzpah to leave the relationship.

M) Feminism has bigger things to deal with. Take a compliment ladies, and show where your real beauty lies.

Here endeth my rant for now. FOR NOW. Feel free to add/yell at me/hate me forever. AND REMEMBER. BEING TOLD YOU’RE BEAUTIFUL IS ROMANTIC. IT IS NOT MEANT TO DIMINISH YOU.

Julesenstein’s Monsters: Breathing Life Back Into My Monstrosities

TODAY’S BREW: All of It.

By Julie

I did a thing I haven’t done in a long, long time. I read a chapter of THE HARPY. Forget what that book was? I nearly did, too. It’s been on submission with publishers through my agent, Eric Ruben, Esq. for a long time. I’m fine with the length of the submission process for a few reasons: I know that the world of traditional publishing is going through a lot of transition and isn’t the most stable we’ve ever seen. I know that Eric is doing as much as he can to get the book into reader hands. And my writing career isn’t stagnant because I continuously write books, all the time, while I wait.

But in my persistence to move forward and my constant reminder to myself that writers write, and to go to work every day like a good writer should, I’ve forgotten how much I loved that book. THE HARPY makes me happy. (If you want to read an excerpt of THE HARPY, you can go HERE ) I even searched #TheHarpy on Twitter to read some of my tweets from writing that book and I was grinning ear to ear.

Related, I’ve been totally overwhelmed with book stuff. RUNNING AWAY was released, a year in the waiting, and I barely stopped to breathe….. or promote it before jumping into writing a new book. I have another book just sitting around, too.

I need to slow down. Shit.

One of the reasons I don’t do NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) is because I cannot conceive of writing an entire book in one month and making it worth anything or enjoying a second of it. Yet, I’ve kept up a different kind of breakneck pace to try and cover every base possible in the writing world over the short time I’ve been a published author. (This of course doesn’t include working as an editor in the meantime, being a full time mom and trying to hold my head up straight.)

Writing is my job, but it needs to be savored once in a while. I feel disconnected from a couple of my books because I have put too much distance between us. We are estranged. And in effort to not put all my eggs in one basket, I’ve filled about FORTY BILLION BASKETS, and cannot keep up. Constantly writing and not stopping long enough to give justice to the books I have out is giving me a feeling of self-defeat that I just plain should not have.

So what am I doing about it? Scheduling time for promotion of RUNNING AWAY. Revisiting my intentions for THE HARPY and THE ANIMAL. Making sure I didn’t write them off too quickly in my effort to keep moving forward. And writing my new book at a pace that is fair to me.

I work my ass off to make sure every one of my books is something to be proud of. I deserve to see their titles up in lights, to celebrate them and give them their day in the sun. Because as rewarding as it is to finish a novel, it should be more rewarding to see it come to life.

Time to give my Frankenstein’s monsters a little mouth to mouth.

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