deadlyeverafter

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

Archive for the tag “Julie Hutchings”

Painfully And Unapologetically Yourself: How To Do It Without Being A Jerk

TODAY’S BREW: Tastes like coffee. I think it’s coffee. It’s hot and I need it. That’s what she said.

By Julie

I wear a shit ton of hats. They don’t all always work together. Sometime preschool teacher’s aid at my son’s preschool, former Panty Peddler In Chief and corporate propaganda monkey, PTA member and writer of vampire books, lover of offensive horror and smut and punk rock and fishnets and leather and I also read to first graders. I’m watching Bubble Guppies while writing scenes about threesomes with strangers. I looked like a pretty, pretty princess in my wedding dress and my bridesmaids were covered in tattoos, my guests consisting of former bosses and pro BMX riders and elderly aunts and a dude wh0 makes his own leather body armor that he never removes. I drink like a fish sometimes, but I’m the most responsible person you know.

Talking with The Undead Intern Sara and Kristen about how much of yourself do you let leak into public, I’m a little extreme. Twitter, for example. I talk regularly with everyone from my friend’s little sister who’s obsessed with Nikki Minaj or whoever the hell she is to one of the most successful literary agents in the UK to gamer geeks to kids to old dudes and renowned authors to dominants and submissives and everything in between. I like who I like. Everyone has something to offer, and I connect with a lot of different people. Because I have a lot of different conflicting qualities in myself.

One thing that never ceases to make me say “hmmmmm” is that THE ANIMAL is pretty dirty. THE HARPY is edgy, racy, offensive at times. I’m sure I’ll write something else that makes the world shudder. That’s sort of my thing. I don’t plan to ever use a pen name because my brand is that I keep you guessing, that I give you what you wouldn’t expect, that I make you think and be uncomfortable, and find comfort in places you wouldn’t dream of.

What do you think my kids will think of that when their friends are old enough to know what I think about and write about for a living? I never want to HURT anyone, least of all my children. I never want to cause them embarassment or make them uncomfortable. I still haven’t worked out what exactly that will mean when my kids are in middle school. But I try to keep in mind that I shouldn’t underestimate the ability of people to handle what you give them. If I raise my kids to know anything, I want them to know that they should like what they like and make no apologies for it. They should pursue what makes them happy, no matter who disapproves. That appropriate is a state of mind, and handled intelligently and conscientiously, is both honest and accepting. That being who you want to be doesn’t always mean you’ll have to defend yourself.

I’ve gained more acceptance from people I would never expect by being unapologetically honest in what I say and do. I don’t hold back, but I don’t offend. I think before I act, but I don’t restrict myself. I make sure that what I say and do matters, and that I don’t just release the inner idiocy for the sake of FUCK YOU, I DO WHAT I WANT. There’s a difference between being offensive, inappropriate, and a leader. A leader has reasons. A leader has a greater vision and a duty to themselves. and wants you to come along for the ride. A leader accepts the faults in themselves, the chinks in the chain, and revels in yours, sees your oddities as assets, as beautiful. Your weirdness intoxicates the right people, inspires them. Be the person that sees the inner freak and says, “I like it. Keep it coming.” You, yourself are a work of art before you create one. Own your eccentricities and remember that the person you’re looking at, talking to? The middle grade kid, the IRS agent, the dog walker, the cashier, the CEO, your own kid…..they all have a thing that makes them wince to reveal. Be the person they want to reveal it to. Be that leader by doing it first and smiling when they show you theirs.

I’ve learned that putting every aspect of myself in the open for all to see shows me a lot about others. I don’t ever want to be the saleslady that says “I’m not showing you this, it’s out of your price range” to the grungy kid in jeans. That grungy kid in jeans might have a pocketful of cash from their super rich mom. You don’t know anything about the person you’re looking at until you open yourself up to it. By underestimating the people you interact with, you limit yourself. Don’t be an asshole. Know that the world is full of complexitites, and every single person in it has warring identities inside them, looking to come to a peace agreement. Get to know every one of them. There was a time when if some well-to-do sophisticate asked me what my book was about, I’d find any way I could not to say “vampires.” How the hell do I know that the suit doesn’t have a secret love of classic horror? I DO NOT. So, I don’t cringe anymore based on what I think will be the reaction. Because if I do that, the other guy will do the same thing about the thing he’s self-conscious about, and it’s one more nail in the coffin of being honest and confident in who you are.

I may have answered some of my own concerns in writing this. When I inevitably go to the parent-teacher meeting where my stuffy neighbor says “What filth have you written this time, Juie?” I’ll probably say, “the kind of filth you and a lot of people want to read.” It doesn’t mean that I even have interest in doing the things I write about. I don’t want to have a threesome with strangers in a restaurant bathroom. But I do want to write about the darkest corners of my characters’ minds, push them and make them utterly real in that they do things they’re ashamed of, do things that they regret.  I’ll apologize for hurting someone, but I will not apologize for who I am and what my interests are, and where my imagination takes me. I hope that translates well when some kid shows up with a copy of THE ANIMAL in Bennett’s high school classroom.

How To Get Your Crap Done And Not Hate The World

TODAY’S BREW: Red Velvet Coconut, AKA The Bottoms Of Two Coffees

By Julie

I’ve been asked a thousand times how I multi-task to get the number of things done that I do. If you’re not a multi-tasker by nature, and more someone who has to focus on one thing until it’s done, then move on to the next, having a fistful of crap to do seems really daunting. I’m a little of both of these, so I need to compromise in my life a lot to get what I want out of it.

What I want to give you today is not a life plan of how to multi-task forever, but things you can do now to help you. Because coming up with a new life plan to get your shit done is a task in itself. Here’s some stuff I do that helps me:

  • KNOW WHAT PART OF YOUR DAY IS THE BLACK HOLE. I’m going to get reeeallly tired around 3:30 and need a break. Don’t try to work through it, you’re just going to make yourself more tired and pissed off. Take the break. Take a 15 minute nap so you can work faster when you’re conscious again. Drink the coffee. People may say take a walk, but if I do that, I probably will never start my stuff again. I suggest doing 10 arm circles forward and 10 backward which is proven to increase creative thinking. Do that shit. But know you can’t do All The Shit if you try to muscle over the part of your day that never works out. Also known as: The Time Of Day Sam Freaks Out. Give in to it. You ain’t accomplishing nuthin’.
  • DON’T DEMAND PERFECT CONDITIONS. We all have our perfect working conditions in mind. I’ll never get those. But I can arrange for my non-negotiables and let the rest slide. I need to have a cleared up workspace. Would I like to work in a house that is clean top to bottom? Yes. Can I? Never, not even once. If I try to make it that way before I get moving, I’ll never get work done. Clean your area, and get your shit done. That’s your oasis, your corner of the world, don’t let anyone defile it.
  • FIGURE OUT IF YOU’RE A “GET THE SHIT DONE AND RELAX” PERSON OR A “DO THE SHIT AT YOUR OWN PACE AND RELAX IN BETWEEN” PERSON. Again, you may have a little of both like me. Editing jobs are a “get the shit down at your own pace” kind of work. So to make up for the time I might lose doing that, I pick a couple of other things I’ll do until they get done, fast and furious, so they don’t all loom ahead of me. This could be a blog post, the laundry, the gym, whatever. I’ll say “I’m going to get all this shit done in an hour,” and then I race myself basically. Voila, shit done. Now you can slow down a little. A little.
  • INSTEAD OF COMPLAINING THAT YOU HAVE TO GET YOUR SHIT DONE SO YOU CAN’T PLAY CONNECT FOUR RIGHT NOW, JUST PLAY CONNECT FOUR. I feel better after doing the kid thing instead of pawning it off to muscle through my work. Sure, I’ll sometimes end up doing way too much kid stuff and not enough work and vice versa. I don’t say yes to every kid game, but I’ll give myself 10 minutes an hour or somesuch to do it. Then I don’t feel like a jerk, and I’m more productive, too.
  • EAT YOUR DAMN MEALS OR AT LEAST SNACK NORMALLY. Don’t starve yourself because you don’t have time to eat. Eat the meal. You’ll feel better and maybe won’t eat that entire package of cookies. Or maybe you will. I don’t know.
  • KNOW WHAT KIND OF EMAILER/TWITTERER/FACEBOOKER YOU ARE. I do best answering my emails as they show up, tweeting as I see fit, facebooking never. I don’t save it all up and do it in one fell swoop. You might do better giving yourself 10 minutes an hour to do this stuff. Or an hour at the end of a day, or whatever. But know what makes you happiest to do, and do that. If you’re happy and comfortable, you’ll work better.
  • SHOWER WHEN YOU GET OUT OF BED. Don’t do all the other crap first, except make the coffee. Always do that first.
  • WRITE IT ALL DOWN. You guys make lists of your shit to do, right? You have to do that. Even if your shit is the same shit every day, you’ll feel a lot better crossing some of that stuff off. If you have GIANT things to do, break it into smaller segments. EDIT BOOK is not a do-able task. COMPLETE 5 PAGES written 6 times though on the list gets you 30 pages done, and look, you get to cross stuff off. BOOM.
  • TAKE 2 MINUTES AND READ A BOOK. Like, a few times a day. Feel better about life. Recommence work.
  • SHUT THE TV OFF AND PUT MUSIC ON. They both affect mood. TV makes your mood relaxed and sedentery. Music pumps you up, even slow music. Do that thing, then. NO TV.
  • SMILE AND LAUGH. It’s a fact that even if you fake smile and/or fake laugh, you’re happier. If you’re happier, you work better. I do this all day. If your day sucks out loud, laugh about it or it will suck forever.
  • TELL SOMEONE HOW MUCH YOU LIKE/LOVE/ADMIRE THEM. A friend on the phone, on Twitter, in your face right now. Tell them what awesome thing they do or say or whatever that makes you happy, and they half the time will say something you do that makes them happy, and suddenly your day isn’t so out of control. Suddenly, you feel pretty awesome, and you made someone else feel awesome too.
  • FREAK OUT IF YOU HAVE TO. I freak out all the time. Take the time to freak out. As much time as you need. Then get your shit done. If you give yourself what you need, you’ll get what you need to done. Sometimes I need to freak out over all the stuff I have to do. So I vegg out for a few minutes, cry if I have to, play a video game and then get my shit done.
  • WHEN YOUR LIFE IS TOO MANIACAL TO EVEN BELIEVE, PRETEND IT’S A SITCOM. You think I don’t do this? I do. I pretend there’s a camera somewhere with some audience on the other side thinking this whole thing is pretty goddamn funny, and then I do, too. Then I get my shit done.

What I’ve come to realize writing this is that the things that make me a good multi-tasker are not the nuts and bolts of getting it done, but the mindset I do it in. The mental capacity needed to do a crap ton of different things in one day is enormous. So I try to take care of myself mentally all day long, rather than burn myself out and reignite after I’ve done what I need to do. Don’t put a Band-aid on your mental injury from doing too much. Create an environment in your head that supports you in what you need to get done. Know what makes you happy, whether it be endless coffee, lots of laughter, unicorns, wearing sweatpants with great panties underneath, or whatever, and make sure that it sets the pace for the day for you, doesn’t become another thing to do. Be good to yourself, and your day will be good to you. Super-Confuciusy, I know.

Senora McBrag Gets Bragadocious about Bennett

TODAY’S BREW: All Of It.

By Julie

I have this kid, Bennett. He’s 7, and the most perfect child that ever was. This week is his Star Student Week at school. Every kid in his class gets a week dedicated to them with an activity that centers around them every day. A big poster we made to show all the things that are important to him, I get to go read to his class one day, the class puts together a scrapbook of things they love about Bennett, stuff like that. Today I get to write a letter to him that gets read aloud to the class by his teacher, telling him all the things I love about him. SO HARD. Because the Amazing just rolls off this kid like rain off a windshield that’s had that Rain-X stuff put on it recently.

I SHALL LIST SEVERAL THINGS THAT ARE INCREDIBLE ABOUT THIS KID IN A HALF-LIST, HALF-RANT THING POST HASTE.

1) Every night at bedtime the kid says he’s thankful for me, “Dada,” his dog and his brother, even if his brother has been absolutely awful to him all day.

2) The child is exceptional in EVERYTHING on his report card. EVERYTHING. He’s gifted with graphs, understands social studies at an advanced level, reads like a voracious dinosaur eats humans, writes and revises at 7. AT SEVEN. He has exceptional team playing abilities in gym. He has above average understanding of science and how it applies to his world. He has great computer skills. He’s a pleasure to have in class as a role model. That’s my kid.

3) The boy has no trouble telling me he does not want to go to school functions or do extracurricular stuff. He does so without whining. He tells me like an adult would tell you that’s just not their bag, baby.

4) He’s a leader in school, stands up for his friends, and is loved by every kid in his class.

5) The child is obsessed with Lemony Snicket. He doesn’t want to read this Magic TreeHouse bullshit, which we both found dull. The kid likes books with strife, complexity, not always the happy ending, and smart, multi-dimensional characters. Little mastermind.

6) THIS IS IMPORTANT. The child has said the word “asshole” once. This is the context in which he did, at age 5:

“Why did the dog kick the turkey?”

“Why?”

“Because he was an asshole.”

Tell me that’s not the best joke you’ve heard all day and you’re lying to yourself.

7) The child will hug and kiss everyone in the family so much that it’s overwhelming.

8) He shares like a summabitch.

9) He’s so sensitive he’ll actually turn off the TV and entertain his brother so that “Mama can have some peace and quiet,” WHEN I DON’T EVEN ASK FOR IT.

10) He curls up under a blanket in fuzzy pajamas with me whenever he can.

11) He threatened the life of a child about twice his size at the Pump N’ Jump for calling his baby brother a jerk.

12) He’s obsessed with As Seen On TV products. His latest obsession is the Chillow.

13) He does these crazy awkward dances because he knows they make people uncomfortable, and he laughs about it.

14) The child will go to the toy store just for fun and never ask for a toy. Now his brother does the same thing.

15) He loves pizza as much as I do.

16) He looks like the lost Kennedy and makes girls twice his age blush with his beauty.

17) He goes to bed every single night without a fight.

18) He’d rather be home. Whatever the thing there is to do, he’d rather be home with his family, watching movies or playing Legos.

19) He works like an animal on his homework to make it perfect.

20) He calls marshmallows “smarshmallows” still.

21) He’s an amazing artist. Another place he’s been called “gifted.”

22) He cuddles with his brother constantly, and kisses him and hugs him every chance he gets.

23) He’ll tell you all day that whatever you’re eating smells great, but he’ll never try new foods. This fascinates me.

24) He makes the right decisions at the right times. He saves his wrong decisions for crap like making the most annoying noise ever when we’ve asked him not to 78 times.

25) He’s unbelievably, beautifully, wholeheartedly his very own person and is determined to be just that.

Bennett and I are ridiculously attached to each other, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. There’s no better person on earth to be attached to, and he’s only getting better.

Ten Things That Made My Goddamn Day

TODAY’S BREW: Coconut Cream made right in Boston.

By Julie

TEN THINGS THAT MADE MY GODDAMN DAY

It’s 11 in the morning, and it might be an ordinary day, but I’m a happy bastard most days, and today here’s why I have a smile on my face that might annoy other people without one.

  1. I woke up to the people that make me happiest.
  2. Bennett being excited about watching The Lorax and Frozen like a little kid, when sometimes he already seems so grown up.
  3. I made muffins because Sammy kept asking for them. For muffins that I specifically make. We all know I can’t cook.
  4. An old song found new meaning and a new song makes my belly tingle.
  5. The IKEA catalog
  6. Someone posted my first tweet ever which was “If writing a book was as hard as writing a pitch for said book, I would still be selling panties,” in September of 2012. A) Someone cared enough to do this thing.  B) Look what I’ve done since then.
  7. Warm, fuzzy pants.
  8. Light rain, cold breeze in the window and warm blankets.
  9. My plants are still alive.
  10. All the hugs I’ve already had.

If you can’t do this by 11 AM, make some changes, folks, but I’m thinking you probably have even more things to be happy about than this if you really think. If you don’t GO MAKE SOME REASONS TO BE HAPPY.

The Most Exciting Thing You Can Do Sitting Down or A Day With Julie

TODAY’S BREW: Rainforest Crunch. This is a delightful Green Mountain flavor that my mother in law has made all nostalgic for me.

By Julie

Things in Julie Town have been EXCITING. Sitting on your bum in sweatpants, making stuff up and yet still being a part of this humongous, ever-changing literary world all day is intense. Here’s what’s happening in a frantic monologue indicative of my mind right now:

HEY WORLD, I FINISHED THE SEQUEL TO RUNNING HOME (now available for the price of a Cumberland Farms cup of coffee) AFTER 6 GODDAMN MONTHS OF TIRELESS WORK! HEY, HERE’S MY 6 MONTHS OF WORK FOR YOU 10 PEOPLE, PLEASE TELL ME WHAT YOU THINK BUT BE NICE BUT NOT TOO NICE BECAUSE I WOULDN’T WANT ALL THAT WORK TO SUCK! I’LL BE OVER HERE, EDITING THIS OTHER BOOK ABOUT SEX GODS AND OCD WHILE YOU READ! WHAT? YOU’RE ALREADY DONE? OH, YOU LIKED IT? LIKE, A LOT? LIKE MORE THAN RUNNING HOME? THAT’S FUCKING WONDERFUL! (Jumps for joy, hurts self several times). I HAVE TO SIT DOWN FROM THE INJURY AND I HAVE THESE BLOG POSTS TO DO. WAIT, WHAT, SOME REJECTIONS HAPPENED ON THAT OTHER BOOK, YOU SAY? THAT’S COOL, PAR FOR THE COURSE BUT WHAT IF I SUCK? NOPE, NONE OF THAT, NO SUCKING. BUSINESS, BABY. SHHHH NOW I HAVE TO EDIT MY OTHER OTHER BOOK AND THIS OTHER BOOK FOR THIS AWESOME WRITER WHO’S AWESOME. WAIT I’M DESPERATE TO READ THIS OTHER BOOK BY CHUCK WENDIG WHICH COUNTS NOT ONLY AS FUN BUT AS RESEARCH BUT NOW THAT I GOT FEEDBACK ON RUNNING AWAY I HAVE IDEAS FOR THE THIRD BOOK IN THE RUNNING HOME TRILOGY BUT WAIT SHUT UP BECAUSE THAT’S NOT THE NEXT BOOK I WRITE, THE NEXT BOOK I WRITE IS THIS YOUNG ADULT WITCH AND DEMON BOOK THAT I’M DYING TO PUT OUT. BUT WHAT IF I DON’T BECAUSE THE NEXT BOOK COULD TOTALLY BE THIS YOUNG ADULT HORROR I’VE ALREADY STARTED THAT PEOPLE LIKE! WAIT, THOUGH I HAVE TO EDIT THIS SEX GOD BOOK, STILL, SHUT UP! I WANT IT DONE BY THE END OF THE MONTH! BUT, BUT, BUT…..

Aaaaaand repeat a bunch of times. My points are these:

A) When treated like a job, writing and publishing becomes your job, not just your passion and hobby.

2) Rave reviews, rejections, glimmering pride and disgusting self-doubt happen all at once. Continue to see through the creative to the business end of what your creativity is worth, and the ups and downs won’t drag you into a depression; they’ll make you feel like every minute gets more exciting.

Next) Through the overwhelm, both good and not-so-good, moving forward is progress. Keep going. Move forward. Don’t allow yourself to be anything less than what you want to be. My advice to a friend today was FIND WHAT MAKES YOU SPECIAL AND EXPLOIT THE MOTHERFUCK OUT OF IT.

Next Things Last) Don’t forget what you’ve already done. I’ve got a long way to go, but I’ve written all these books, and I got the agent, and I got the one published, and it’s done really well, and I got reviewd by FEARNET.com for Chrissakes, and I made all these amazing friends and I love it. BUILD ON WHAT YOU’VE DONE.

Second Things Next) I wrote the books I had to write, no matter what happens next.

End Note First) RUNNING HOME IS CHEAP AS HELL RIGHT NOW! If I don’t sell you on it, let this review on The Bookie Monster do it. http://t.co/5BIhfZEYvN. And THEN go buy RUNNING HOME before the sequel comes out and you have to catch up, because guys. I hear that through my mania I wrote a pretty cool book. http://t.co/wXBPE87nMX.

Running Home by Julie Hutchings

http://t.co/wXBPE87nMX.
“I wanted to high five the author after reading the last line,” makes me happy, happy. (Mark Matthews, author ON THE LIPS OF CHILDREN).

Sin Is The Writer’s Element

TODAY’S BREW: The blood of Juan Valdez

By Julie

SIN IS THE WRITER’S ELEMENT

–Francois Mauriac

I love sin. That undeniable darkness of the heart that makes a good person turn to their worst selves and indulge them. These are the best characters, and often the best people. The kind who understand that there’s no straight line in the world, only lines that get you to your endgame faster.

Probably too often, I’ve said how “nice” people don’t generally do anything for me. Anyone can be nice. I want real. I want every imperfection of the people/characters I care about laid out to me. It’s that kind of exposure of the inner demon that makes me trust people, makes me a better person for seeing their honesty with their flaws and the struggle to accept them.

Loving sinners is why I’m a writer, in part. I want to see the dark and dirty of everyone, and when I can’t get it, or need to put my own out there in not so many words, I create that persona. I do my best to make a sinner that’s just like you, in one way or another.

I’m doing a deeper round of research on Obsessive Compulsive Disorder for Trent, the main character in THE ANIMAL. My initial research gave me all the facts I needed to make sure that his disorder was realistic, and respectful of those who suffer from it. This round, though…..I’ve been reading OCD forums online, hearing the horrors that some of those who are afflicted with OCD suffer. Their bravery in the face of their own irrational thoughts of violence is more painful than I can wrap my head around. My heart was ripped in half plenty of times as I observed these conversations, making me tear up even now. People who get stuck on a terrible image of some awful act they would never probably do, and the guilt that literally keeps them awake at night. Living with thoughts of murder, pedophilia, bestiality….more unimaginable things than you could conceive of….it makes me think harder about the nature of OCD. In every one of these forum chats, the people who suffer these thoughts despise them. They have often just as many obsessive thoughts that cause them to check in constantly with loved ones to be sure they haven’t been hurt. It’s the difference between the people that commit these crimes and those who suffer the thoughts of them. There is no temptation to actually commit them. The sufferers are revolted by the images that overtake their minds, like they’ve been forced to watch the most disturbing part of a movie about themselves over and over and over. Naturally, this leads to extreme guilt and the questions of am I a pedophile if this vision pops in my head over and over? Am I a murderer if it’s all I can think of doing? 

The other symptoms of OCD, the ones we all know of like compulsive hand-washing, for instance, provide only the most momentary relief from the obsessive thought. Committing the crime wouldn only make the afflicted feel worse. Most sufferers of OCD work hard at keeping their obsessions and compulsions a secret, lending to it worsening over time. The folks that I’ve read in the forum chats were desperate to tell someone about their thoughts in hopes it would help expel them, some even asking if they could turn themselves in to the police for crimes they haven’t, and would more often never, commit.

Their heart-wrenching stories have helped me see deeper into Trent’s obsessions and compulsions, and exposed his heart to me even further. I already loved him for his duality, his reserved depth, his fears and memories, and learning more about the disorder has made me wildly protective and closer to him. (Not to mention making me cry uncontrollably for the sufferers of OCD more times than I can say.) Knowing the sins in Trent’s heart, and more so how he wants to triumph over them, makes him a hero to me in his fictional life that’s not quite fictional in my mind.

Sin has a different meaning to everyone, but for all of us it holds a trepidation of what one could do, what we may be capable of. The writer’s job is to explore the worst case scenario of sin. Sure, we need to commit plenty of sins, too. (SIDENOTE: I HAVE NOT AND WILL NOT COMMIT ANY OF THE SINS/CRIMES IN THE ANIMAL.) Being all good all the time is A) zero fun  B) the worst kind of dishonesty with yourself  C) inhibiting and painful. So, yeah, a little debauchery is perfectly fine with me. Doing the wrong thing sometimes, yep, totally cool. But what if it went further? What if it became a monster in your own heart? This is the fear that the writer examines, and what makes for a character that we feel for.

Giving into the sinful side and being oppressed by thoughts of committing sins that disgust you are two different things. One is choice, and one is illness. It’s where these two things intersect that have helped me create THE ANIMAL. But there are plenty of sins out there to see, and writers, don’t turn your back on them.

If you need to talk about obsessive thoughts and compulsions, contact  1-800-950-NAMI (6264), the National Alliance on Mental Illness. Or search OCD forums to talk to others who can help you.

Immersion vs. Obsession

TODAY’S BREW: More coffee than you can even believe exists considering I have to deal with this dinosaur laptop.

By Julie

Since finishing the edits on RUNNING AWAY, a book that took me 6 months to write, all in all, I’ve been able to look up from the laptop and really enjoy the world around me without those characters fighting for my attention in my mind. It’s been great to read a book without all but timing myself to make sure I don’t waste too much editing time, to go to the park with the kids and Tim and not feel like I was taking an unauthorized work break, to watch movies and play games and enjoy the simplicity of my life outside of my head.

Hacking away at the jungle that was RUNNING AWAY was incredibly involved and time consuming. I’m not accustomed to having to dig through so much information without just starting from scratch, which is so much easier. I was a missing person on Twitter, have not checked Facebook for weeks, missed working out at the gym a few times, haven’t returned phone calls, and haven’t been what you’d call Susie Homemaker around the house. I pored over every sentence in that book, careful to make sure nothing seemed transitory, a means to an end, or superflous. I committed myself until I felt like I might need to be committed, if you know what I mean.

I entirely own that my editing and writing process borders on obsession. Such is the way of life when you live inside your own imagination.

“Bordering” on obsession for me means that I do and can stop myself, eventually from letting the process consume me. I read for an extensive time to my boys every night, I make sure to eat meals and not snack like a fiend, to work out pretty regularly. I take time all day long to hug my kids, talk to them about what they’re doing, to cuddle with Tim, and be part of this family. I make sure that while my family knows I’m entrenched in my work, that it’s making me better, not deteriorating me. That’s the difference between being immersed in your work and obsessing with it; does it improve you and and itself, or does it tear you apart?

Now that I’m working on THE ANIMAL again, it feels like spring is all around me. The timing has been perfect. RUNNING AWAY begged for me to be trapped inside with snow piling up against the windows, delving deep inside my head. This book is streamlined, and only asks me to tell the reader more, show the inner workings more, not weed through a tangle to pull out what’s necessary. Writing Trent Dixon feels like a release, for both him and I. He’s a character with more inside him that needs expulsion than just the god that’s possessed him. He suffers from OCD, deeply rooted in his painful past, and being along for the ride that he brings us on is intense. Trying to free Trent’s obsessions is the best way to immerse myself in my work without letting my work pull me apart.

I’m happy that my work isn’t something I just HAVE to do, it’s something I WANT to do. The need to write these books and perfect them is only seconded by my desire to do it. It doesn’t run away with me, I’m the one in control. I can be obsessed with immersing myself in them, and never have to tell the two apart, and I ache to do it for the rest of my life. Healthy or not, it’s a passion I can’t live without, and one I don’t intend to.

 

Hard and Fast Ahead

TODAY’S BREW: Coconute Creme Cheap Stuff that tastes like caffeinated rainbows.

By Julie

I AM SO EXCITED IT’S LIKE THAT TIME WHEN YOU FIRST DISCOVERED ATARI GAMES AND YOU DIDN’T LEAVE THE HOUSE FOR LIKE 6 MONTHS OH IS THAT JUST ME?

PEOPLE. The editing on RUNNING AWAY is oooovvveeeeer.

This book took way longer than I expected. I came to terms with the fact that it was going to take as long as it needed to. I made sure not to slack on it, I worked on it every day with the occasional necessary break. It was a long-hauler, but I think the product of it was worth it. I worked hard at expanding the Japanese mythology without letting it run away needlessly on me. I introduced new characters with real precision and purpose, some of which you’ll love, some you’ll hate, and some you’ll wish you didn’t love quite so much. And I think I’ve set up some trails to follow into the final book of the trilogy.

Of course, the debilitating fear that I’ve written ALL WORK AND NO PLAY MAKES JACK A DULL BOY 120,000 times is on high frequency.

SO, WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING NOW, JULIE?

Don’t look at me like that, I don’t ever stop.

RUNNING AWAY is being read by a few folks who I desperately seek the opinion of. You know who you are. While I throw up hourly awaiting their reactions, I’m busting out ye olde manuscript, THE ANIMAL, and fine tuning that dirty thing to send to my illustrious agent, Eric Ruben, Esquire. Then, I shall throw up again, awaiting to see what he thinks of it.

For those of you unfamiliar with THE ANIMAL, it’s a little different from RUNNING HOME. A little bit. *clears throat* *checks for mother’s whereabouts on internet*

THE ANIMAL is about Trent Dixon, a womanizing Boston banker with OCD, who becomes possessed by a defiled Egyptian fertility god. Filth ensues.

Filth is part of the story, but it is not THE story. And I think you’ll fall in love with Trent the way I did, and suffer from PTSD….Post Trent Stress Disorder…when you finish with him.

If you want to meet The Animal, you can be offended here: http://wp.me/p2x7oj-hc.

Getting down and dirty with Trent requires a little bit of a gear switch, so I’m giving myself a day to recuperate from Eliza and Nicholas and all our new buddies in RUNNING AWAY, and then I’m diving into the dirt. Prepare yourselves, Trent brings you for many bumpy…rides.

My fear of what The People will think of both of these books is trumped by my excitement over having written them. A firm believer in WRITE THE BOOK YOU HAVE TO WRITE OR EVERYTHING BREAKS, I have to think that anything I feel so passionately about will find an audience. That my intensity over these projects will show through. I get only more intense about my work the longer I do it, so to give you THE ANIMAL, and then to start by the end of the month work on my first attempt at Young Adult is really exciting for me, and I hope it will exite you all, too. Not in a sexual way. Not all the time. Sometimes in a sexual way.

All The Undead News You Can Use!

Today’s Brew: Blueberry. I bought 2 boxes yesterday

by Kristen

Things have been busy around here, and it’s the good kind!  Julie is wrapping up edits on Running Away. My Night Moves will be out in less than a month.

But that’s not all we have to tell you about!

  • Running Home and Because the Night are now available at The Book Shack in The Independence Mall, Kingston, MA! If you’re in the area, please stop by and visit our books! We’re working on distribution in additional indie bookstores as well, but you always remember your first.
  • We have an intern!! We’ve known Sara forever, but it had been a while since we’d seen her. Now she’s back in our lives, and she’s a little bit Kristen, and a little bit Julie. Just like the Donny and Marie song but clearly so much cooler. Not only is she going to be helping us out with The Things, but she is writing as well! Her ideas are unique, well developed, and they will blow you away as much as they did to me and Julie. The coolest thing about when we asked her to share her stuff with us was she wasn’t the least bit shy about it. It took Julie and I a long time to get to that point.  I know you don’t believe it, but it’s true.

Without further ado, meet our intern, Sara!

Tell us about yourself. I’m a TV and media producer and costume designer, and sometimes a bellydancer, and now a writer.

What are you writing? Fantasy/sci fi, strong female characters in worlds that are fantastical and familiar.

 Fave food: I’m a total foodie, but Japanese food is my favorite.

 Fave movies: Chick flick: Fools Rush In. I’m Salma Hayek obsessed.  Under the cherry moon with Prince, and he talks in it. And best movie ever made is Malena. It’s Italian. Just watch it, don’t read the back or the reviews.

Fave band: Can I pick 5? Doro Pesch,System of a Down, Rage Against the Machine, Incubus, Pat Benatar. If you ask me tomorrow it will be slightly different. I feel single right now, not having one favorite band!

Describe your perfect day:  One when you  wake up naturally with sunshine, lots of sleep, see cool people, have cool conversations, go to the beach, and have an inventive meal.

I told you she was awesome! Stay tuned to see what Sara’s got up her sleeve!

And Julie will have more news to share tomorrow!

Branding Vs. Bite Me, I Write What I Want

TODAY’S BREW: A lot.

By Julie

Edits on RUNNING AWAY will be finished by March first, and while my beta readers dig in, I move on to the next project.

And with that, comes the initial worry of, “Well, shit. My readers aren’t ready for this.”

RUNNING AWAY feels very cohesive in character to RUNNING HOME to me, as well it should. The few people who have read THE HARPY, which is currently on submission to publishers, got an eyeful of Charity Blake, who, shall we say, has quite a bit more edge than Ellie Morgan. Charity would as soon give you the finger as make out with you in public.

March’s project is final edits on a book that I’ve let sit for a while, waiting for me. And it’s as different from THE HARPY as that book is from RUNNING HOME. There has been an excerpt or two on Deadly Ever After of THE ANIMAL, and it’s certainly not going to be for everyone. Erotic, aggressive, and in some parts probably offensive, it very well may not appeal to the same readers as RUNNING HOME. I have to wonder if I’m broadening my horizons or upsetting my readers by giving them Trent and Min, and all the debauchery the two are capable of.

The best part? Today’s plan is plotting my newest book, and man alive have I struggled with whether or not I should write this. Because naturally, the progression from Japanese vampires to a bitter, vengeful, punk Harpy, to an obsessive compulsive man possessed by a defiled sex god is straight to young adult. Naturally.

Yeah, that’s right. The adventures of an Egyptian sex god and the beginning of a young adult novel, all in the same month. Right after that, I might be making INSCRIPTION, my short horror story series that never seems to go away into a full length novel. And THAT features a teenage boy. So YA horror.

My mantra is to write the book you have to write. Don’t listen to what the trends are, don’t worry about what the Joneses are writing. Write the book that itches at your soul like a wound that won’t quite heal, and there will be an audience for it. Anything that ignites that much passion in you is going bleed onto the page, and that kind of power gets heard. I firmly believe it.

But then you’ve got the other side of life, which is branding. Am I making myself unpredictable? Is that a good thing or a bad thing? Am I right in relying on my voice and unique style to carry me through these wild ideas I have and make them have mass appeal based on that alone? Am I right in thinking that if the author connects with readers now more than ever, then my readers will expect me to write something unexpected, wild, often brash and always strong? Is it me selling the story, or the story running off without me?

What are your thoughts on sticking to the straight and narrow as opposed to giving all your work the attention you think it deserves? HELP ME, PEOPLE, I’M DYING.

 

 

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