Deadly Ever After

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

Archive for the month “June, 2012”

The Hardest Paragraph To Write: The Synopsis

Trying to sum up 300 or so pages of months and years worth of blood, sweat, and tears in one paragraph is not an easy task-especially when the purpose of that paragraph is to entice people to want to read your book.  That is exactly the task at hand when writing a synopsis, what you find when you read the back cover, what is probably the driving force behind whether or not you decide to commit to reading the rest of the novel.  Therefore, it needs to be a concise and well-oiled machine.

Julie and I struggled with these single paragraphs more than we did writing any other parts of our whole books.  We have always prided ourselves on being able to work through writer’s block, singlehandedly or together, but finally, we seemed to meet our match!  We’ve spent so much time with these characters, and now in just sentences, we need to make you love them as much as we do.

So, here are our sales pitches–do they make you want more?

Immortal Dilemma
(Kristen)

College freshman Callie can’t wait to leave the confines of her sheltered life on Martha’s Vineyard to reconnect with her first love, Tristan.  Finding him is easy–he is the face of the explosive Vegas vampire rock scene and the star of his own reality show.  Getting close to this larger than life rockstar is more of a challenge.  Callie must weave her way through a constant stream of insatiable groupies, security guards, paparazzi, and all the other complexitites of Tristan’s fame to try to save him from himself.  She finds herself drawn to him by some inexplicable force, and finds what she’s looking for where she least expects it.  What is she willing to do for her happily ever after?

Running Home
(Julie)

Ellie Morgan is used to losing everything.  She thought she was comfortable with her life as an advertising executive, until she and her best friend both became captivated with newcomers to their secluded New Hampshire town.  When fate connects her to Nicholas French, she is enthralled by his supernatural allure and his belief that she is meant for so much more.  Ellie struggles to reconcile falling in love with the vampire who gives her the home she longs for, while being forced to make impossible choices, and sacrifice the unthinkable.

Fried Fish, Cupcakes, and Jager Girls: Our Humble Writing Beginnings

Today’s brew:  chocolate coffee

(We apologize for the delay in this post, Kristen’s house was struck was by lightning.  Yeah, really.  Thankfully, it didn’t catch on fire but hot fireman did come just in case they had to save the day. But the phone and internet is fried. So, the moral of this story is, no internet for you, Kristen!)

The Undead Duo’s First Writing Adventure:

One summer night we set up with a plan to write.  We met in our native downtown Plymouth.  Yes, that Plymouth that you might have gone to on your 4th grade field trip and left sorely disappointed after viewing the Plymouth Rock.  Our life is that field trip, but we like it here.  We had notebooks in hand, well in bag, and were ready to go!  But first, we needed to fuel ourselves with fish and chips.

We sat on a bench overlooking the harbor under the setting sun and scoffed down our fish and chips.  We contemplated Cupcake Charlies, but decided beer would be more fitting in the near future.  We brainstormed and shot off at the mouth about our ideas how to bring Kristen’s characters to life.  (Julie’s had already been in deep workings on her own).  We had always traded stories and made up scenarios from way back, so this was a natural joint juncture.

However, beer was crucial.  Beer is more Julie’s thing.  Kristen is a girly drink aficionado.  This time felt a little more personal and intimidating to bring these characters to life.  We walked up to the British pub and sat all by our twosies at a table upstairs where we would have utter privacy (and because this was a British pub, it is “privacy” with a short “i”.).

This worked for a while and we instantly reverted to our original writing format, each of us writing a paragraph and then giving the notebook to the other one to add to it.  (Actually, that is what we are doing right now.  Go us, old school and internetless!)

OK, so you will never, ever see that early introduction to Callie’s life.  Why? Because it was wretchedly awful.  But more about that in another post.  At least that first session was a jumpoff to get the story going.

We weren’t alone for long.  Our privacy (short “i”) was eventually interrupted by a couple on a date.  Not a big deal.  Then a middle-aged bachelorette party invaded our room.  They were inevitably followed by some forty-year old career drunkards.  Now that it was a party, the scantily clad Jager girls joined us to really shake things up.  The career drunkards were flittering back and forth between trying to hook up with the bachelorettes and leering inappropriately at the Jager girls.  And man, did we feel dumb drinking and writing with the Saturday night bar hoopla in full swing.

The Jager girl, possibly looking for an escape from the creepy old drunk guys hitting on her, suddenly put us on the spot to explain what we were writing.  It was too soon.  We weren’t ready for that.  We’d only had two beers each.  She may have given us some lovely promotional parting gifts for making us so uncomfortable.

At that point decided to call it a night.  We only got that one wretched chapter done, and man, we were proud.  We felt like we’d come up with some really solid material.  Like I said before, you will never see it, but it gave us a place to work from.

And so it began.  And we committed.  We vowed to find more appropriate places to write.  Julie had read somewhere that only 30% of novels that are started get finished.  Let us give that other 70% a tip:  write with someone else who will challenge you and motivate you.  Have fish and chips to really set the stage.  Hold each other accountable, every week, and talk every day.  Have someone help you by confirming that your creation is worth something.  And then just turn your back on Jager shots and middle-aged career drunkards.

The Voices In My Head

Kristen

Many nights I would lie awake and pray for sleep, calculating how many hours of good sleep I would get if I fell asleep right there and then.  I couldn’t get my brain to stop churning with all the things that had happened in the day or needed to happen the next.  So as a way to get my brain off that crazy ride, I would make up characters and basically tell myself a story to put myself to sleep.  Believe it or not, it worked most nights.  And if I was still unable to sleep, at least I was enjoying what I was thinking about.  That is how the early versions of Callie, Tristan, and Taryn were born.  Blade didn’t come to being until I was writing the chapter he was introduced in.  He literally walked into my story unannounced, which I was psyched about as his character developed because he added a level to the book I wouldn’t have had without him.

I wrote the book with a loose outline, but I found during many interactions, the characters literally told me what to do.  As the story unfolded, they took control.  At the end of the book, I was really surprised with some of the roles that the characters wound up playing since they were so different than I originally intended.  It was a challenge to shape the story using the outline when the characters had really developed a mind of their own.

Now that the book is done, I find that using those characters in their original occupations, sandmen and sandwomen, doesn’t relax me as much as it used to.  Most of the time if I am thinking of them in the middle of the night, I have to get up and write down whatever comes to mind before I lose it to oblivion.  So I will have to come up with new characters to entertain me, and maybe you someday.

Julie

I was inspired to start writing my book 5 years ago right after my first child was born.  Do not worry…this is not a book about vampire babies.  But I did feel a depth of emotion I had never felt before, and it had to come out…this is one of the many ways it did.  Lots of things happened during my maternity leave that lent to this book, and made it come to life, all seemingly unrelated.  One of which was walking half asleep through Walmart, as I found myself doing several times a week with an infant, and realized at the checkout that I had nothing to read….and there it was, the book I irrationally planned on never reading based on the fact that everyone else had.  Twilight.  I was instantly in love with everything about it.  I also realized that I could totally write that style of novel…accounting just the everyday and making it a new, fairy tale world.  After starting to write something I wouldn’t perpetually feel too old to be reading, I also had the pleasure of seeing Iron Man come to life in the most fantastical actor ever, Robert Downey Jr.   This was the kind of vampire I was missing in fiction!  Nicholas was born.  Kat is totally Isla Fischer, who is just cute enough to not be annoyingly likeable, just really fun.  Roman is definitely Leonardo DiCaprio in my head, and Chris Lynch, who sucks pretty much, would be played by that guy on the delightful USA program Burn Notice.  Jenniveve is based on my former co-worker Jenn, still currently doing the honest work of panty peddling.  All of my characters have a face somewhere, except my main character, Ellie, who is a compilation of so many people that I can’t even picture her anymore.  Another huge inspiration at that time was Kings of Leon’s “Closer,” and if you haven’t heard it, you should before reading my book.  (I promise to post the scene that has that song for background music in my brain.)

You can imagine how deep this storyline goes in my heart and head after 5 years of messing with it, so you will probably get to hear more of who’s who and why than you care to, but I am dying to tell someone other than the imaginary interviewer that asks me questions on long car rides.

Welcome to Deadly Ever After!

Though capable of many things, we do our best work on the sofa in carefully selected pajamas.  By “carefully selected”  we mean whatever is clean because we are doomed to temporary lives of laundromat-going.  Meet Kristen and Julie.  We have been friends since awkward childhood, and continue to enjoy many of the same foolish things.  For instance, we were both kinda born to watch vampire movies, read paranormal, sci fi and lots of vampire books, and unwittingly entertain people without always meaning to.  Coincidentally, we have finished our very own first vampire novels! Surprise!  And now, we thought you would want to know all about it, so we are starting a blog to share all the gory details with you.  Literally.  Stay tuned for excerpts from our books, tales of our ridiculous writing journeys, and all the trash we will go through to get these babies published!  You can also check out the About section to learn more about us or email us at undeadduo@hotmail.com.  Enjoy!

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