Deadly Ever After

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

Cover Reveal! (and so much more) PRETTY WICKED by Kelly Charron

 

TODAY’S BREW: It’s 95 degrees. I AM a cup of coffee

By Julie

SO EXCITED FOR THIS BOOK. I don’t tell you guys enough what I’m reading. I’ll do that soon, but for now THIS BOOK.

Pretty Wicked Printable 330 6x9

 

About PRETTY WICKED:

The daughter of a local police detective, fifteen-year-old Ryann has spent most of her life studying how to pull off the most gruesome murders her small Colorado town has ever seen.

But killing is only part of it. Ryann enjoys being the reason the cops are frenzied. The one who makes the neighbors lock their doors and windows on a hot summer’s day. The one everyone fears but no one suspects. 

Carving out her own murderous legacy proves harder than she predicted. Mistakes start adding up. And with the police getting closer, and her own father becoming suspicious, Ryann has to prove once and for all that she’s smarter than anyone else—or she’ll pay the ultimate price. 

Praise for Pretty Wicked: 

 

“This creepy novel places you inside the mind of a twisted teen killer, which is even more unsettling because of how familiar and normal she seems. Be prepared to leave the lights on and look at the people around you in a whole new way.”

 

-Eileen Cook | Author of WITH MALICE

 

 

“Dark and haunting, this witty thriller with its petite feminine anti-hero is an American Psycho for teens. Be prepared to sleep with the lights on.”

 

Lisa Voisin | Author of THE WATCHER SAGA

 

 

“Pretty Wicked is fresh, thrilling, and deeply haunting. I’ve never read anything like it! The story escalates from page one and will leave your pulse pounding as you wonder just how far Ryann will go. 5/5 stars.”

 

Tiana Warner | Author of ICE MASSACRE & ICE CRYPT

 

NOW I WILL LET YOU READ SOME, LOOK:

 

I heard the bell ring in the distance. Lunch was over. I leapt up to go when I was struck with panic. What if someone had seen me walk out there with Veronica? No one could know what I’d done. My breath hitched.

I ran as fast as I could back to the yard and to the first teacher I saw.

“Mrs. Hopkins! Come quick, Veronica’s really hurt!” I pretended to be hysterical so effectively that she couldn’t understand me the first few times.

She bent down so we were at eye level. “Where?”

“We went into the woods at the far end of the property. I’m sorry. I know we’re not allowed, but she fell and she’s not moving! You have to hurry!” I sobbed, shoulders shaking, snotty nose. I don’t know how I’d managed to look so distraught, but I nearly convinced myself.

Mrs. Hopkins turned to a kid named Austin, who was in the grade ahead of me. “Go get Mr. Chute. Tell him to call 911 and to come out and meet me in the woods.”

Austin, who was paper white, nodded and took off like his ass was on fire.

I ran back with Mrs. Hopkins to the rocks where I’d left Veronica. She was in the exact position I’d left her. Thankfully there was no miraculous recovery waiting for us.

After she was taken away in an ambulance, Mrs. Hopkins and Mr. Chute walked me back and called my parents.

My dad showed up to the school, hugged me, and told me how brave I was.

After my mother had finally stopped fussing and checking on me every twenty minutes, I sat on my bed and thought about Veronica. It would be weird not to see her in class every day or hang out with her at lunch, not that we hung out that much. I was usually with Bao-yu anyway, but sometimes she came along. Maybe now B and I would be better friends. She wouldn’t have to share me anymore.

I wondered what I was feeling—if I was missing Veronica. But I didn’t think that’s what it was. The twinge in the bottom of my stomach didn’t have the achy hollowness that people refer to as a pit. It was more like butterflies.

 

 

 

Link for Amazon: 

https://www.amazon.com/Pretty-Wicked-CharronKellyebook/dp/B01KAX8VLQ/ref=sr_1_6?ie=UTF8&qid=1471040176&sr=8-6&keywords=pretty+wicked#nav-subnav

 

Link for Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/31394680-pretty-wicked?ac=1&from_search=true

AN INTERVIEW WITH THE WONDERFUL LADY WHO WROTE THIS SCARY-ASS BOOK!

 

Questions about Pretty Wicked:

 

  1. What inspired you to write such a dark character?

 

I’ve always been fascinated with psychology and human motivation. Whenever I read a novel or watched a movie or television show, I was drawn to the villain. I wanted to understand what made them act the way they did––delve into what happened in their lives or minds to make them the person they had become.

 

When there was the odd story from the “villains” point of view, it seemed to characterize them as “misunderstood” and usually spun them into a likeable character who was the hero of that new version of the story. I wanted to write something unique and portray the villain realistically. What would the story look like if they were a true villain? I got the idea for a teenage serial killer who was unapologetic about who she was and what she wanted and thought it was really interesting to explore what her point of view would be if she drove the story and the “villain” was the detective trying to stop her.

 

  1. Is this your first novel?

 

Pretty Wicked is the second book I wrote and the first to be published. I have been writing for ten years. My first book was a YA urban fantasy that took me seven years to complete because I kept stopping for huge chunks of time while I completed my degrees (English Lit and Social Work). I finally got serious about writing in 2013 and have just completed my fourth novel.

 

  1. Why did you choose to self-publish?

 

I did query it to literary agents and received a lot of positive praise for the book. In the end I kept hearing the same feedback: it’s a fascinating concept, the writing and voice are great, but we don’t think we can sell such a dark book to a publisher. I completely understand this. I know this book is going to be very polarizing. People will either love the concept of hate it. So far I have had overwhelmingly encouraging feedback from readers who understand that this is a fictional story that is trying to do something different from most novels. There was some interest from small publishers but the wait times were longer than I was comfortable with. I decided if I wanted to see this book out in the world I was going to have to do it myself. It was an intimidating process, but luckily I have an amazing and brilliant support group who helped me along the way.

 

  1. What genres do you write in?

 

Psychological thriller, urban fantasy, and horror. I have two YA urban fantasy books, though one may never see the light of day. It’s my first book and would need to be rewritten before I decide its fate. The second (currently titled Wilde Magic) is the first in a planned series that I am very excited about.

 

Here is a short blurb:

 

The novel follows fifteen-year-old Ainsley Davenport as she moves from her life in Maine to attend a prestigious boarding school in Massachusetts after her widowed mother marries a wealthy man that she can’t stand. At Ashbury Academy, Ainsley meets a group of students whom she finds more sophisticated and exciting than any kids she’s ever encountered. Ainsley is pulled into a world of wealth and extravagance, but it isn’t long before she realizes some things aren’t adding up and there is more to Ashbury than meets the eye. One of the oldest covens in history, The Wildes, is hidden beneath the school grounds. Magic is alive and well, and the coven is actively training new witches in this secret enchanted society. Ainsley soon recognizes that she may be in over her head when she uncovers secrets that she was never meant to know. The magical kind. The deadly kind.

 

  1. Is Pretty Wicked a standalone novel?

 

The Pretty Wicked series will continue with adult books. The sequel, Wicked Fallout, is currently going through editing and the third book in the series is brewing in my mind. I have some very fun ideas for Ryann.

 

Wicked Fallout takes place twelve years later when Ryann is 27 years old. That’s all I can say right now as to not reveal spoilers.

 

  1. Ryann is not a very likable character. Do you like her?

 

I actually do. I really enjoyed writing her. I don’t agree with anything she does at all! In that sense, Ryann is deplorable! But what I like is her humor and wit and the way she owns who she is. She was a fun character to write because she is so different to most characters out there. It’s like when you see a Hollywood actor discuss their favorite roles. Often they say the villain roles were their preferred because it was more fun and exciting to play. There are forbidden elements that make it a bit more exciting than the standard hero. It’s no different for me as the writer.

 

  1. What is your writing process?

 

I have a day job so writing usually happens in the evenings and on weekends. I work in a school so I am fortunate to have shorter days, two vacation break periods, and summers off which really help me carve out the time needed.

 

On a writing day (Saturday or Sunday) I will get up, shower, eat breakfast, procrastinate with some TV and then get to it. I’ll make a coffee and park myself on my couch (even though I have a beautiful desk in an actual home office). I’ll write for about 2-3 hours (about 1500-2000 words on average). I may do another session later that evening if I’m really inspired. I watch a lot of television and read widely to inspire my creativity and ideas.

 

I also have an amazing group of friends who are writers as well and we meet up to have writing and brainstorming sessions, which is fantastic!

 

kelly charron

 

Kelly Charron is the author of YA and adult horror, psychological thrillers and urban fantasy novels. All with gritty, murderous inclinations and some moderate amounts of humor. She spends far too much time consuming true crime television (and chocolate) while trying to decide if yes, it was the husband, with the wrench, in the library. She lives with her husband and cat, Moo Moo, in Vancouver, British Columbia. 

 

Connect with her:

 

Sign up for her mailing list or check out upcoming books at: http://kellycharron.com

 

Twitter: https://twitter.com/KellyMCharron

 

Facebook: https://goo.gl/UNkH3g

 

Goodreads: https://goo.gl/rf4NlM

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ALL MY OPINIONS ON WRITING by Julie

TODAY’S BREW: So much water, all the water I can find except toilet water

By Julie

Oh, some people probably won’t like this.

I’m seeing on Twitter lately an awful lot of writers feeling down on themselves for a variety of reasons. This is probably as ranty as you’ll ever see me. PREPARE FOR THE ALL CAPS. Were you ready?

A lot of people say, “Stop putting it off. Stop looking for the right time. Just do it.” Then a lot of other people say, “So if I can’t write every day I’m not a real writer? Stop telling me what to do. I have REASONS.”

FIRST OF ALL, WRITING ADVICE IS LIKE PARENTING ADVICE. LISTEN TO SOME, BLOW OFF WHAT DOESN’T WORK FOR YOU. THERE IS NO NEED TO DEFEND YOURSELF. THERE IS NO NEED TO LIST YOUR REASONS. YOU HAVE NOTHING TO PROVE TO ANYONE BUT YOU. NOBODY IS SAYING YOU HAVE TO DO IT X WAY.

Next, I see a lot of people skulking in the shadows about a certain pitch contest IT’S CALLED PITCH WARS. I HAVE OPINIONS. (shocking)

First, I have a problem with pitch contests in general. Publishing is a beast. You’re the tiny wave in the big ocean no matter what you do. It’s a fact. You’re one of thousands doing exactly what you’re doing, fighting to be heard, to be represented, to see your book on shelves, to just FINISH YOUR BOOK sometimes. Adding to that a peer-driven contest in a fight that we’re all TOGETHER in adds a layer of stress that just doesn’t need to be there. There are lots of success stories, lots of them, I’m sure. But I find that the people entering are scared to death more often than not, if they don’t get picked they feel like failures, and it’s all over Twitter constantly, in a positive way consistently, but if you’re one of the folks not entering? IT IS ALL YOU SEE. It creates this behind-the-eight-ball feeling at best. For me, it’s a struggle to see mentors talking about all their likes and dislikes personally while everyone else waits to see if it’s them they’re talking about. We are each other’s peers. Support comes in many ways, and I find adding competition to it to be the exact opposite of how I feel: that writing isn’t a competition. There’s room for everyone to write.

Which brings me to my next THING TO RANT ABOUT. Writers worry about failure. We worry about failure constantly, then put ourselves out there in a world where failure is fairly inevitable much of the time. You can feel to finish the book. You can fail to start it. You can fail at querying, at self-publishing, at traditional publishing, at NaNo, at revising, at getting agented, at your own goals every day. AND YET WE DO IT.

In regards to pitch contests, this works against us. Because there are a lot of folks that worked their asses off that didn’t get picked to be on the dodgeball team. They took a lot of hits, and still didn’t make it. Two things about this:

  • WHY IN HELL WOULD WE PUT EACH OTHER IN THIS POSITION WHEN WE GODDAMN LIVE IN THIS POSITION??
  • YES, MANY OF US WILL NOT BE CHOSEN ONES. BUT WE DID NOT START WRITING TO GET A TROPHY FOR PARTICIPATION.

Failure is in the eye of the write-holder. (I made up “write-holder.” *jazz hands*). Did you start writing because you wanted a trophy? Because you wanted to prove yourself to a bunch of people you met online? Because you thought it would make you rich? Because you thought it was easy? Because you were looking for an award for just showing up? NO. YOU DIDN’T. YOU WRITE BECAUSE YOU NEED TO WRITE. YEAH, THAT’S RIGHT, I’M SAYING “YOU,” BECAUSE I AM NOT JUST SPEAKING FOR MYSELF. SHOW ME THE WRITER THAT DOES IT FOR ANY OTHER REASON THAN THAT THEY NEED TO, AND I WILL SHOW YOU A PERSON THAT HAS SPENT TOO LONG OUTSIDE THEIR OWN HEADS.

Do NOT let other writers and mentors, or agents and editors or ANYBODY ELSE make you feel like a failure. WRITE THE BOOK YOU WANT TO WRITE. IT MAY NOT BE AN AWARD WINNER, IT MAY NOT BE SOCIALLY RELEVANT, IT MAY NOT BE AN AMERICAN CLASSIC BUT IF IT IS THE BOOK YOU WANTED TO WRITE, COMING ACROSS THE WAY YOU WANTED IT TO IN THE END, THEN NO AMOUNT OF AGENTS, PEERS, REVIEWS, ANYTHING CAN MAKE YOU FEEL LESSER ABOUT WHAT YOU’VE CREATED.

YOU WRITE BECAUSE YOU HAVE YOUR OWN VIEW OF THE WORLD AND IT’S ONE THAT HASN’T BEEN SEEN YET. DON’T LET ANYONE MAKE YOU FEEL LIKE IT’S NOT GOOD ENOUGH.

AND ANOTHER THING. *YOU* CAN CONTROL THIS FEELING. NOBODY ON THE OUTSIDE IS GOING TO MAKE ME FEEL LIKE THE THING I CREATED ISN’T GOOD. NO CREATION IS BAD. NO. CREATION. IS. BAD.

*breathes deeply* *coughs*

So, I would also like to say that no matter what stage you’re in of writing, you are no less a writer than published ones, famous ones, self-pubbers, traditional pubbers, none of them. You’re a writer if you write. Every writer has moments of self-doubt. That’s good. Self-doubt makes us work harder. I had the conversation earlier today with a writer that said she was starting a book that was so ambitious it was inconceivable even to her. I said that’s the work that’s always best because we worry over it so much that there’s no chance of anything slipping by. But you do have to write it to find out.

And we come full circle. Telling writers that they have to write is like saying you’re not a student unless you go to school. You’re not an architect unless you build. You’re not a Subway employee, especially if you just go behind the counter and start making sandwiches and get removed from the building. What.

It is a fact. TO BE A WRITER YOU HAVE TO WRITE. Nobody is trying to make you feel bad about yourself when they say it. They’re trying to encourage you to create the thing you want to create, even if maybe you don’t feel like it. I don’t feel like going to the gym a lot but I always feel better after I did it. Unless I didn’t eat first, and then I mostly pass out. But anyway, don’t fail yourself by looking for ways out of writing. Whether it be every day, every week, only on Christmas, whatever. Coincidentally, if anyone tries to tell you that your process of writing is the wrong one? They suck. We are writers because we suck at sticking to rules. Because we were tired of looking for approval. Because we create, and do it our own way.

THE ONLY STEADFAST RULE THAT CAN’T BE BROKEN BECAUSE IT IS GODDAMN SCIENCE IS THAT TO BE A WRITER YOU HAVE TO WRITE.

No one is better than you at telling your story. Nobody else can do it like you do. Write it for you, not for anyone else’s approval, and you’ll shrug when even the most disappointing of “rejections” or bad reviews roll in. Above and beyond anything else, writing doesn’t have to be solitary, but it starts there. Trust yourself, writers. You know what to do.

Julie’s Version of a Strong Female Character

TODAY’S BREW: Chocolate Mint until my heart grows legs and runs away

By Julie

joss whedon quotes

This quote from the almighty Whedon makes me swell with pride. That strong women are on the radar, that we’re moving forward. Also, like Joss, IT INFURIATES ME AND MAKES MY INSIDES BURN LIKE A FOREST FIRE.

I’m overjoyed–OVERJOYED–to be writing fresh words again (ahem, the mark of a strong woman), on the sequel to a book that I finished (strong). The main characters are five witches. I’m going to account for here, what makes them strong, and there probably won’t be anything about magic.

  • they’ve all faced oppression, abuse, questionable (gently worded) parenting methods, and still face every day
  • they make lots of mistakes, and keep moving forward
  • they learn to support each other despite coming from a place where they were taught to hate each other
  • their sexuality and identifications. Enough said.
  • they’ve been called failures and fight to prove to themselves that they’re not–even when they fail
  • they break rules that don’t work and make new ones, that sometimes work but often don’t and they keep making more
  • the way they fight their Big Bad has yes, a lot to do with magic, but a lot more to do with overcoming their fears and thinking outside the rules set for them
  • they get back up
  • they all have vices, none of them are solely “good,” and none of them are “the bad girl with a heart of gold,” or the villain. They’re all more than one thing.
  • they’re seventeen–and hold a world together out of necessity. They’re afraid and they still do it. They do it because they’re afraid. They look for answers to find a way out of it. They screw up a lot, sometimes irreversibly. They move on. All traits of what strong adults do, and what strong adult women do. It starts somewhere.

None of them know karate. None of them are trying to prove themselves to a boy. Some of them have body issues, some of them have drug problems, some of them are smart-mouthed but it’s not the only thing that defines them. They’re more than one thing. I didn’t write them with the intent of being “strong female characters,” I wrote people. I wrote people I’d want to know, people with thick stories, opinions, journeys within themselves to take. I didn’t write them “as teens,” I wrote them as people.

IT’S TRUE, TEENS ARE PEOPLE AND THAT’S NOT THE ONLY THING THEY ARE.

The thing about each of these young women that I think is cool is that if you were to ask them what makes them strong, their answers would be widely varied, if they thought they were strong at all.

What we think of them is not necessarily what they think of themselves. Not everyone will agree on what makes a person strong–or a girl strong–or a woman strong. One thing that is true without question is that it will be questioned whether or not they’re strong female characters.

To that, I say, I don’t have to prove a thing to anyone.

 

 

 

Not Giving Up Saves Lives …by Julie

TODAY’S BREW: Are popsicles coffee?

By Julie

I’m not quite sure how to start this, even though I wrote an outline, because I FEEL it so much. I feel all of the obstacles lying flat beneath my feet, the signs all pointing the way I led everyone to go, and this is what not giving up is about.

Sammy has made so much progress recently it’s unbelievable. Truly unbelievable. A few things have gotten us here: the right diagnosis, the right medication, the right commitment, the right amount of help and the right kind, and a child that lets nothing put him down. All over the past month or so, Sam has gone from NEVER using the potty, to ALWAYS using the potty. He’s learning to separate himself when he feels angry and asking for quiet moments with me reading when he’s ready. He’s speaking really, really smoothly, with zero to minimal jabber, or “word salad.” His attention span is spectacular. This child is a miracle, and he made himself that way.

I hear an awful lot that most mothers would not go this far to support their child. I’ve suffered a lot–but we have suffered a lot. And I cannot let my child suffer. I don’t have the ability. I don’t have the ability to quit some things. Growing, helping, loving, teaching my children is one of them.

Because if I teach my kids that there’s a time to quit, they’ll see nothing but the limits to reach.

If I teach them that their happiness is negotiable, what chance do they have of pushing limits to find it?

If I teach them to stop the harder it gets, I’ve taught them that what they’ve pushed through was unnecessary.

If I teach them to give up, have I taught them anything at all? I’ve only taken from them. Taken their light at the end of their own personal tunnels, taken the depth of their feelings and made light of them, taken their ability to ask “what if” and think of all the other boxes to think outside of and break through. I’ve taken their ability to stop at nothing because I’ve shown them that something can stop me.

We’ve been watching a lot of America’s Got Talent, and I love these people that will stop at nothing, no matter how unconventional their dream. For some people, the dream is just to be happy. But this one made me cry harder than the rest.

I saw this when Sam was just sitting beside me, playing a building game on my tablet, something that would have been too dangerous (yes, dangerous), he wouldn’t have had the ability to sit and do anyway. Pato, because of his OCD, was unable to leave the house, couldn’t ask for help, resorted to begging for money to support himself. To make it where he has is incredible, but all I could think was, my Sammy will never have to experience that because we fought to combat OCD. First.

It’s easy to yell at a child who dictates who goes in what order up the stairs when you’re carrying armfuls of groceries and he’s been making your life hell all day. But seeing what the alternative does to him makes it non-negotiable for me. Imagine that such a trivial thing could throw a child into a wild-eyed sobbing episode for an hour, that he’d remember this moment for days. Imagine facing that every day, having to fight not only himself, his own brain, but to fight for understanding, too. When he can’t understand it himself. Can barely tell us what he wants.

How do you not help that child? How do you not put his needs first?

Because we did this, because I knew what Bipolar Disorder looked like when I brought him to the pediatrician at barely four, because we treated what we could then–OCD and Hyperactivity Disorder–and we were “on watch” for a mood disorder, because we knew what was happening when that mood disorder became real, because we didn’t stop, Sam has every chance of not going through the hell that so many other people have. We got this. That is what not giving up is.

NOW ABOUT ME. ME ME ME ME ME ME.

This summer so far was not about me and my needs, and I knew that going in. I had a strict timeline of what I wanted for Sam, what I needed from professionals, what I needed to see in changes due to behavior therapy and medication, and I needed to see what I could do having him home during such immense changes. July 15th was my deadline for a lot of things. I also was doing editing for clients and trying to have FUN with the kids, because I refuse not to have fun. (We have had so much fun.)

Now is the time for me to focus on my work. What *I* need. So as not to stretch myself too far, I had to suspend working on my own writing because I don’t want to hurt myself (think nervous breakdown, ulcerative colitis, debilitating panic attacks), and I refused to do my best I could do without it being my best.

I made all the right choices.

I have a new list of agents to pitch THE WIND BETWEEN WORLDS TO….a book whose query is now a shining thing of magnificence that begs for reading, and a book that I am now finally able to finish the sequel to! I’m halfway through the sequel, and have a good start on the prequel and had to stop in May to concentrate on other things. My time has come.

Wait, weirdo, you’re writing a sequel and a prequel to a book that isn’t even being published yet?

YES I AM BECAUSE I DON’T STOP AND THIS BOOK WILL NOT GO UNNOTICED.

I don’t write because of what anyone else wants. I write for what I need. And every moment of my life is teaching something to these two amazing kids. They will see that my passion is what drives me and I drive it right back. That I give all I have to get more, and what I want is dependent on nobody but myself. There is no magic number of rejections, no “almosts” in my world. There’s always another way. There’s always more roads to travel. I’ll dig relentlessly making my own if that’s what it takes. And because this is who I am, it is now showing my kids who they are. What they can do and what won’t stop them on their way to it. It’s why Sam remembers little things I say like, “You like what you like. If you like the Alice in Wonderland tea set and you want to offer tea to everyone while doing ninja moves, then hey. You like what you like. Nobody can stop you.”

Be you, everyone. Stop at nothing to be who you want to be. Define your own happiness. Make your own rules–they’re just ideas anyway. Rules about publishing, rules about how young a child can be to show a certain illness, rules about what to say and who to say it to, rules about gender, rules about love, rules that we make for ourselves…. Reshape your world to be what you need. That’s what not giving up is about.

 

Kelly Charron Shares Your Querying Feels

TODAY’S BREW: The Julie Jam, 8 O’clock Coffee, Hazelnut in a hazelnut colored mug.

By Julie

Author Kelly Charron, in her own words “loves to write about murder, mayhem and magic.” Her amazing list of works is enough to make me ache to hold all the paperbacks ever in my hand. (Look here: http://kellycharron.com/?page_id=12) But she also has been through the querying wringer, and she knows all too well how it feels. This is a reminder, from Kelly’s mouth to my blog to your face, that we all do this together. Art doesn’t have to be solitary. Now I’ll let Kelly tell her story and I’ll shut up.

Querying is exciting and nerve wracking. A part of me is hopeful and basks in the magic that each time I hit send could mean an agent will fall in love with my book and then me. I will sign my glorious contract, she or he will sell my all my books to the Big Five publishers and I will wait, luxuriating in a field of flowers as the cheques come rolling in.

 

This is not what happened. (At least so far- but I’m still hoping.)

 

Always an eager student, I wanted to absorb everything I could before I even started the process. All the do’s and don’ts. All the agent likes and dislikes. I wanted to make sure I didn’t make any mistakes that could thwart my success. I learned to always research the agent, tailor the query to the agent (never using generalizations such as Dear Agent or Dear Sir or Madam), and to actually write a decent query. I had many beta readers and author friends read the various reiterations, eventually giving me the coveted thumbs up. I learned that it was good practice to send out five to ten queries at a time so I could apply any valuable feedback to the manuscript before sending more out and possibly ruining a chance. And so I did this.

 

I was ready! Soon they’d be calling!

 

This is not what happened. (At least so far- have I mentioned I’m still hoping?)

 

I waited and waited and waited some more and soon the rejections came trickling in. That’s okay, I told myself. Everyone gets rejections. I’ll have a great story later of having 30 or 40 rebuffs before I found my agent.

 

Soon it became cleat that five to ten queries every two to three months could take a very long time so I began to query a bit more widely. The trickle of rejections began to pile up. That’s okay. It’s only my first book, I told myself. Many authors don’t get agented on their first book. It’s my learning manuscript. Time to write book number two!

 

And off I went completing the first draft in six weeks. I loved this book. My writing critique group, beta readers, indie and Big Five published friends loved this book––“way more than your first book” they cried in unison. “This is the book! This is the one to get you an agent!” they all told me.

 

I wanted to believe them.

 

It has not been the book. (At least not yet- have I mentioned I always have hope?)

 

I received ten full requests and an additional seven or eight partials and was told that my writing was “really good,” “you clearly know your craft,” “I love this concept, but it’s going to be a hard sell,” and “great idea, but not for us. Please send us your next manuscript.”

 

These are all amazing rejections! They liked my writing. They thought I had a decent story. They saw potential and wanted to see my next book. These are all wonderful things to hear, especially from very busy agents who took time out of their hectic schedule to write me specific feedback and I am grateful.

 

But I discovered something I wasn’t fully prepared for during this process.

 

“Getting closer” is not necessarily easier. It can be more heartbreaking. If you run a race and you come in last, your expectations wouldn’t likely be high. You know where you stand in the competition. You might think, wow that was fun. If you come in third or second all you can ruminate on is how close you came. You have worked hard for this. You can taste it, you can feel it, you’re almost there and then you don’t quite make it.

 

It can be disappointing. I’ve lost hope from time to time. I’ve allowed myself to pout and whine (temporarily of course) until I gain perspective because I believe that it could be the next book, or the one after that. There is no one way to get published. No magic formula or series of TEN EASY STEPS! for getting an agent or book deal.

 

I’ve spent a lot of time asking agented and published writers what the secret to their success is and their answer is always the same: they kept going. Kept writing and querying new books. For some, book number two was the lucky one, others needed five, some found success at number seven or eight.

 

I don’t know what the future has in store, but I am happy we live in a time where traditional and indie publishing co-exist. I have been writing for ten years. I have written four novels. I continue to work on my craft. I have 140 odd rejections, but I know that if I keep going, one way or another, my time will come. YES!!

kelly charron

 

Kelly Charron is the author of horror, psychological thrillers and urban fantasy novels. All with gritty, murderous inclinations and some moderate amounts of humor. She spends far too much time consuming true crime television (and chocolate) while trying to decide if yes, it was the husband, with the wrench, in the library.

Follow Kelly on Twitter https://twitter.com/KellyMCharron

 

 

Red, White and BOO! FREE BOOK.

TODAY’S BREW: mucho coffeo

By Julie

HAPPY HOT, BRIGHT AND LOUD HOLIDAY, EVERYONE!

As a reminder of when we can once again pumpkin spice the very blood in our veins, the anthology I was a part of for Halloween, (ahem, currently ranked #8 in horror anthologies on Amazon, cough cough), HALLOWEEN NIGHT: TRICK OR TREAT is FREEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE FOR YOU AND MEEEEEEEEEE!

Red, white, and boo!

So go grab yourself a copy and shudder through the works of some amazing authors, including LIL’ OL’ ME. Get it right here: https://www.amazon.com/Halloween-Night-Trick-Amy-Giuffrida-ebook/dp/B017E0Z27O/ref=pd_sim_351_3?ie=UTF8&dpID=510kfeF7eGL&dpSrc=sims&preST=_UX300_PJku-sticker-v3%2CTopRight%2C0%2C-44_OU01_AC_UL320_SR200%2C320_&psc=1&refRID=E8SFAXYSH63TNFWTEQ7X

Enjoy! And tell your friends! READ A BOOK, SAVE AN AUTHOR.

 

 

An Ode to Ryan at Register 4

TODAY’S BREW: Water. My skin is like lava.

By Julie

I don’t get out much these days, and I’m good that way, but last night an old friend and colleague and a woman I admire more than I can say took me to dinner.

She said she wanted to celebrate my success.

What the hell did I do? I thought. My first book is 3 years old, my THE HARPY is behind schedule with my new publisher, THE WIND BETWEEN WORLDS has yet to be picked up…. I don’t do things. What the hell success is she talking about?

Well, it wasn’t what I did that makes me a success for her, it’s what I do. My fight for Sam, finally diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder, while still editing for clients consistently, continuously writing and revising, being involved in the school and being the mother I work to be for my boys and the wife I try to be…. it’s success. Every day it’s success because it’s exactly what I want to be doing, and it isn’t easy but I will damn well do all of it.

It made me remember that everyone is a hero to someone. Accomplishments don’t make a hero, actions do. It’s not always the big things you’re a hero for, and everyone’s visions of what the big things are is different.

You mean something. You aren’t just anything–you’re important. Someone remembers you for something you did, said, stood for. Chances are it’s for something you’ve forgotten entirely.

My latest hero is Ryan at Target in Hanover.

target receipt

You all know my family has been contending with our baby’s mood disorder. We’re doing wonders with it, but there’s always going to be bad moments, triggers that can’t always be avoided, new ones that come. Well, on June 12th Sam had a serious episode in the Hanover, MA Target. We weren’t there long, we didn’t need a lot, and everything was going fine, and then SNAP. He started crying, hiding, didn’t want anyone near him as we were checking out. I gave him his space, we made it to the doorway and he crumpled. Sobbing, begging me to leave him there, that he couldn’t be near people, that he couldn’t even stand up to leave because someone would see him and he shouldn’t be near people. So me and Ben and Sam sat in the corner in front of the big glass doors, for as long as it took, as loud as he needed to be, as much of a spectacle as we had to be, to make Sammy okay. A number of people stopped on their way out and said things like, “you’re doing awesome,” “can I do anything to help?” and “my child has x disorder and I know what you’re going through.”

It was the young man that cashed us out, Ryan, who had seen Sammy breaking down before we made it to the door, who told me he understood and why, who was so thoughtful and connected that particularly made me feel supported. All of the folks who stopped were amazing, one coming to tears with me, but this cashier didn’t just stop at getting me out of his line. He went to the Starbuck’s and got me a glass of ice water, and brought it to me as I sat on the floor with my kids, with Sam howling aand Ben just doing anything he could to help. I heard the lady at the Starbuck’s counter say, “That was so nice, Ryan,” and I haven’t forgotten.

Eventually we were able to comfortably get Sammy out of the store and he was fine within an hour of the episode’s start. We work hard as a family to ensure that he is okay. Nothing is more important. And Ryan at register four was a part of making it okay. He made a difference. He helped us get through another five minutes when–well, when I needed it. We all suffer with Sam, and let me tell you, I cry in public like it’s my job. It’s part of the reason why I can fight as hard as I do, why I can endure the unpredictability and be strong. I don’t hide from anyone, because I’m human, and because I want my boys to know that it’s okay to be human. It’s okay to freak out, and yeah, it’s okay to cry if you need to. Whenever it happens.

But it can be very isolating, even amidst all of these wonderful people that were at Target that day, I needed that ice water hug. Ryan saw that and he helped. He wasn’t just a cashier that day, and he isn’t ever just a cashier to me. I keep that Target receipt, and I called the store to ensure he was recognized, because he was a hero to me. And he reminded me that there are heroes all over the place, suffering and saving and hurting and helping. Being there for each other, even/especially strangers, makes you mean something.

And Ryan at register 4? You mean a lot.

 

Welcome to the Shadow World of the Blood Courtesans!

Meet Corynne and Nash!

I was so excited when Michelle Fox asked me to be a part of this multi-author project. We wrote in her world, but came up with our own characters and scenarios. Each story is a standalone, and the series can be enjoyed in any order.

My story is Wanted.

Wanted Blood Courtesans Kristen Strassel

Welcome to the shadow world of Blood Courtesans…where vampires are real and blood is a financial asset. This is the world I live in.
I don’t care about the money I’ll make as a blood courtesan. I need the vampires to protect me from other humans. And more than that, from myself. Any time I think about getting revenge against the bullies who’ve tortured me, the thing I imagine happens. I have no way to control it. And the latest incident has put me in the middle of a murder investigation. I have to convince them to turn me into a vampire. I can’t be tried for murder if I’m already dead. Or…undead.

In the vampire world, blood is money and sex is everything. But when my power catches the attention of the oldest, most powerful vampire in the coven, he’ll do anything to make me his.

Nash doesn’t have to look me in the eye to cast a spell over me. And I don’t even have to look at him to know he wants me.

I’ll either be Nash’s secret weapon–or the downfall of his coven.

Available on Amazon and as part of Kindle Unlimited.

Wanted Blood Courtesans Kristen Strassel

Don’t miss the rest of the books in the Blood Courtesans series!

Reborn Michelle Fox
Marked Gwen Knight
Bitten Kim Faulks
Ensnared Rebecca Rivard
Needed Ever Coming
Hooked Selena Kitt

Defeating the Dunk Tank with Julie

TODAY’S BREW: A reasonable amount of coffee, it was perfectly reasonable.

By Julie

For many weeks now, I’ve felt GOOD.

It’s been a long time. A long time since I was the woman who could take on the world with a smile on her face. A long time since I wasn’t exhausted by the thought of leaving the house. But suddenly, everything fell into place. First and foremost, my INSANE HORMONES are under control, and have been consistently for about two months. This is the lynchpin in everything else being manageable, because my hormones? They’re monstrosities that could guarantee I would be questioning my will to live–seriously–for a couple of days every few weeks. My doctor’s last ditch effort to get them under control was the 1977 Dear God, It’s Me, Margaret, rainbows and tube socks and wood paneling version of the birth control pill. Three months later, I’M FIXED.

I’ve been fairly up front about what I go through with my baby, Sam, and how normalizing life for him is a constant activity. He’s been diagnosed with hyperactivity disorder and OCD. After a LUNATIC CRAZY VIOLENT PUBLIC DISPLAY OF WILD HATRED from him two Fridays ago, I did some research and uncovered Oppositional Defiant Disorder. After nearly two years of therapy and much longer of COPING, I’d found the thing that described Sammy better than anything. And we talked about it, and I put a reward system in place that I just knew was going to work like nothing else has consistently. And it DOES. We’ve had the longest period of peace in the house in five years, and more progress in understanding and lasting behavioral changes than I’ve ever seen with my boy.

Suddenly the sun shines a little brighter. Again.

Things have been getting better for some time now, and all the time it seems to be improving. I’m HAPPY. More than that, I’m me. I’m my old self again, and feel like I can conquer anything.

It was no light decision to write this blog. It meant that I was giving in to the idea that this is really happening. That things are good, that I’m healthy, that life is being fair to me as it should be for someone who works so goddamn hard to do it right.

I compare my life since the start of 2014 to a carnival dunk tank. I went from being the clown that volunteered to sit at the target, laughing, to this dirty, sad clown swimming at the bottom of the dunk tank, trying to get to the top. Every morning instead of starting in the seat and wondering if I’d fall in, certain that I’d just climb out again feeling refreshed, I started out at the bottom. I swam for the surface, I floundered from the second I opened my eyes. I fought for air and the balls kept getting thrown at that target.

I was never the clown that lost a bet and ended up in the dunk tank seat. I volunteered for it. I put myself in the risky spot, I put my money where my clown nose was before anybody, and I went to bed at night in fresh clown pajamas feeling pleasantly tired after a lot of swimming, and climbing and laughing.

Being the dunk tank bottom feeder doesn’t suit me. And I’m not that person anymore. I’m the ringleader again, and the sideshow is me, burning a clown suit and exploding a dunk tank with about a thousand pounds of explosives that all smell like my power source, strong coffee and kickass books and the ability to take on anything. The world is once again, my dunk tank.

Not the one I just exploded, but a different one. One maybe filled with ice cream.

Twitter for Authors

I hear authors say it all the time.

I have no idea what to do with Twitter.

But still, they’re there, because everyone else is. And as a result, they share mostly promo posts.

This is not how to Twitter.

Would you operate heavy machinery without reading the instructions? No. I hear you—Kristen, stop being dramatic. Twitter is not heavy machinery. I disagree. If it’s so important to your author platform that you simply must be there, that sounds pretty heavy to me.

In order to make Twitter an effective tool in your platform, treat it as the social network it’s meant to be.

Think about Twitter like the cocktail party that your friend invited you to. She’s the only one there that you know. Since she’s the host, she’s busy. You’re left standing by your onesies at the hors d’ oeuvres table shoveling cheese in your mouth like it’s the last supper. And you’re probably drinking way too much wine. I see you. *clinks your glass*

Awkward as, right? You have two choices—you can sneak out and hope no one notices, and salvage the night once you get home binge watching Outlander with your cat, or you can make the most of it and talk to people.

You already put the effort into showing up. Make the most of it.

awkward

First, you need to talk to people you don’t know. At the twitter cocktail party, the easiest way to do this is by following people that not only look interesting, but will probably answer and follow you back. For me, that meant other authors. You can find people by using hashtags. #amwriting is the biggie. You can narrow that down even further, to #amwritingromance or whatever your genre is. #amediting will also lead you to writer folk. Pay attention to what they have to say. If you have something to add, tweet at them. If you want your whole twitter universe to see your reply, put a “.” Before their name.

As you start to gain followers, you want them to get to know you. We’re back to the party. If you were making small talk with someone who migrated over to the snack table, would you spend the whole conversation hitting them over the head with a sales pitch? Hell no. They’d excuse themselves and get as far away from you as they humanly could. No amount of snacks is worth listening to that all night. Instead, you’d make small talk—about the party, what you have in common, you know the drill. I don’t have to teach you how to make friends.

elaine dancing

I think of Twitter as the Seinfeld of social media. Small, in the moment observations are gold. After all, you only have 140 characters to express yourself. Want to make friends on Twitter? Talk about coffee. Seriously, coffee is the lifeblood of Twitter. Talk about the little things that happen in your everyday life.

Like….

how to use twitter for book promotion

how to use twitter for book promotion

I didn’t mean for these to both contain F bombs, but whatever.

 

 

Don’t overload these with hashtags. I used a couple, but it was more for humor than anything else. Hashtag abusers look like that guy who has to give this business card to everyone in the room. They’re best used tastefully.

Now, look around the room at my imaginary party. Say the friend who invited you to this soiree is a writer. Who else is there? Probably a lot of other writers. Maybe a few industry people. In my experience, that’s who hangs out on Twitter. Not a lot of readers. I hear you again—Kristen, if there aren’t any readers at this big Twitter party you’re making me go to, why the hell am I bothering with this?

Simple. The same reason you go to any work event. You’re networking. I’ve met some of my best writing friends on Twitter. Twitter is a great place to talk about craft and the writing process, find people to sprint with you, read blogs about writing and the business of writing, and keep up with trends in the industry. There’s #writeclub, which is writing sprints all day Friday, facilitated by people all over the world. #1linewed, hosted by @rwakissofdeath, where they give a word and you post a line from your work in progress that includes that word. Looking for an agent or a publisher? Follow @brendadrake. She runs query contests and builds some pretty great writer communities.

Twitter is awesome for current events. If I need to know what’s going on with a news story RFN, I go to Twitter before I’d ever check CNN. The Oscars? The Superbowl? Sharknado? The live tweeting of these events is nothing short of epic. Follow the hashtag, join in the conversation, and laugh your ass off all night long.

And like a cocktail party, it’s okay to get tipsy on Twitter. A little drunk tweeting never hurt anyone.

Okay—so now this Twitter party is fun. You know everyone here, and you’re beyond making small talk. It’s easy to add people to your conversation and network, because they’re friends of friends. You’re sharing funny, interesting stuff. It’s not so painful anymore. You might not make excuses about why you can’t go next time. You might even start liking it.

Now you can do some promo.

Yeah

Why now? Because now people will care. You won’t just be one of those guys who stands out in front of the apartment complex with the sign—buy now! Deals here! Blah Blah! Or even worse, one of those sales people who puts you into a near-hostage situation when you’re walking through the mall, minding your own business…that’s if you actually still go to the mall. Now you’re someone cool, smart, and funny—dare I say—a friend who has this really amazing book coming out. Now people will click on the links to check it out and share it, and maybe, maybe even buy it.

They’re not buying just a book. They’re buying you. As corny as it sounds, it’s true. Twitter isn’t as static as Facebook or some other platforms, and things move and disappear fast. It’s easy to be forgettable there unless you make people remember you.

People who hang out on Twitter are very particular about what they want to see in their timeline. You can’t treat it like Facebook. Hardcore Twitterazzi throw holy water at Facebook. They make proclamations like those X amount of days since a workplace accident signs about how long they’ve avoided Facebook. And they loathe drive-by promo posts. They will mute the fuck out of you. Or worse, unfollow you. Then you’re just talking to yourself. Which is worse than not being there at all.

So go forth and tweet. But like at any good party, tweet responsibly.

 

 

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