Deadly Ever After

Archive for the month “April, 2013”

An Evening With Tiffany Reisz

Today’s Brew:  Marylou’s Creamy Chocolate Coconut.

by Kristen

Before you get too excited– no, we were not at the 8th Circle (although this would be a much more interesting blog post if we were).  Tiffany came to area for the New England Chapter Romance Writers of America conference.  The night before the conference started, she did a book signing and reading at River Run Bookstore in Portsmouth, New Hampshire.  A chance to hear about my favorite new series from the person who wrote it and check out and support an independent bookstore?  Sold. Julie and hit the road.

I first discovered Tiffany’s books through my agent.  Of course she has fabulous taste in books!  If you’re a fan of erotica, check The Original Sinners series. If you’re a writer and you haven’t discovered these yet, read them.  Tiffany’s created a complete world with characters so believable, you forget you aren’t reading about real people.  Tiffany does all of her own research, and she’s not afraid to show the good, the bad, and the ugly in BDSM.  Because she’s very open about what she writes and the authenticity of her subject matter, she feels that it would be dishonest to write under a pen name.  You can ask Tiffany anything.  In fact, she encourages it.

Kristen and Tiffany

The first Sinner Tiffany created was Zach.  This shocked me.  I would have bet money that Nora was the character who inspired this series. Tiffany is proud that even though Nora is a proud connoisseur of men, women, and any sort of sex you can come up with, no one thinks of her as a slut.  I think that is a testament to the strength of Nora’s character.  Her sexuality is so much a part of who she is, you don’t question it.  Many of her characters are based on people that’s she’s met in her life.  Wesley is real.  Michael is real.  Even Soren is inspired by people in her past.  (Julie thinks Tiffany’s next project after The Sinners is complete should be an autobiography).  It should probably come as no surprise to readers of the series that Tiffany’s favorite Sinner besides Nora is Soren.

Julie, Tiffany, and Kristen….the smut queen in an undead duo sandwich.

As this was a reader event, (we even got a sneak peak reading from The Mistress), Tiffany didn’t share any writing advice.  You’ll have to stay tuned for my post about the NECRWA conference for that.


Take A Frigging Vacation

TODAY’S BREW: Some ungodly Cinnamon Maple coffee I got cheap. It tastes like something I would get from an airport vending machine.

By Julie

You all know I finished The Animal.  And since then, I have been lost. Accepting my breakup with Trent, I gave myself the mourning time I never expected I would need. I thought I would finish it, and feel nothing but joy but that was not the case. I literally couldn’t listen to the song that had become my soundtrack to writing the book. Total basket case.

2 weeks was what I gave myself off. Not from writing, just from The Animal. I took some time to work on the long neglected Running Home, querying it and reading the beginning again. I wrote some short stories. I even got up for 5am Writers Club on twitter, just to keep routine and give myself some structure.

None of this helped.

I wanted my book back.

I started to edit The Animal 2 weeks to the day that I finished it. I did do some good to it, I think, but it didn’t feel like I had really taken a break from it. It was kinda like listening vs. waiting for your turn to talk. Knowing this, I realize that I am still too entrenched in Trent to be objective in my editing process. So again, I step away.

I buy shoes.

I eat candy bars.

I relax.

And I realize something else. While taking writing as seriously as any job, I never give myself an actual vacation. Think of a job you really enjoyed, and when your boss said “You should take some time off, Johnson,” and you were all “No, I feel great!” and you did, but then you CRASHED. Because throwing yourself into something you love is as draining as it is to throw yourself into something that’s difficult.

As soon as I decided that I would take a little vacation from writing, one that I totally resented, I immediately became inspired with a fantastic new idea for my short story that is evolving into some sort of novella, Inscription. It was the first time I had been truly fired up to write anything in the past two weeks. Just the thought of taking time off, making myself aware of the need to refuel was enough to make me stop looking for the next thing to do.

While determination and commitment to your craft is critical to writing being a habit, beating a dead horse is a horrific way to treat your passion. Knowing when to back off and knowing when to “just write” is a fine line. One is a copout, the other a surrender. And what do we do as writers but surrender? We surrender all of ourselves to write something that feels alive.

If we don’t let ourselves live outside of our own self-imposed deadlines and guidelines, how can we ever evolve as artists? Stopping is part of facing our fears. It is the fear that maybe, just maybe, we won’t ever start up again.

And when you have no fear left, create a new one.


Taking Myself Out of a Teeny Tiny Little Box

TODAY’S BREW: Chocolate Hazelnut. Or “The Kristen Killer.”

By Julie


Stuff has been weird! After finishing The Animal, I had a countdown until the day when I would open it back up to start editing, 2 weeks later.


This is waiting for the moment when you can admit you never really wanted to finish it in the first place. This does not give you clarity of thought with which to face the second phase; this is never really finishing the first phase.

I only realized this when I picked up Running Home  again, which I have been allowing to collect dust for a few months. No revisions, no edits, no reading of excerpts, no querying. Just sitting while I focused on the very demanding Trent Dixon.

Querying is my arch nemesis, or at least it had been for Running Home, and I didn’t even give it that much of a chance, being able to count on 2 hands the number of them I sent out. But I just couldn’t feel the query, couldn’t make it work the way the storyline did, couldn’t capture my voice in it.

It was not until I gave myself this long break, wrote another novel, wrote countless short stories and blogs that I understood I did not even know exactly what my voice was to write the query. If I was asked what my writing style was like, I couldn’t have accurately answered. That’s all changed and changing now. I needed some more experience. And I needed to beta read for some other people, to make comparisons.

So, sitting down on our Monday drinking night with Kristen and a batch of homemade brownies, we took a fresh look at the query for Running Home. I surprised myself by realizing that it wasn’t a hard novel to write a query for. I was looking at the structure of the story as some convoluted mess of conflicts, which is ridiculous when I know better than anyone that it is about a series of events caused by my characters’ decisions in a world where there may not be any real choices.

All in all, I was too close to the frigging thing, and I am probably still too close to The Animal  to do it justice, too.

Now I am toying with the idea of leaving The Animal alone for a month to pursue a different project, as yet TBD. There’s no set time limit that’s right to let your work alone. For me, it has to feel like it went away to camp. Like I sent it off somewhere, missed it, didn’t know I missed it, but was really happy to see it come back.

Time to open up my mind and take the unplanned path again. Time to be a creator, and know that in creating new things, I will see a different side of my finished works. It’s a learning process. So, Trent, sit back for a while. Be ready to be ignored.


New Beginnings

Today’s Brew:  Blueberry and French Vanilla.  Why stray from the best? As a side note, I think Julie is rolling around naked in coffee grinds today.  The Undead Duo is nothing if not classy.

by Kristen

I’ve started a new manuscript.  It’s weird.  For the last two years, I’ve been full speed ahead on Immortal Dilemma.  I’ve seen those characters lives through their eyes, I’ve known what they’d say and do in every situation (even though they still managed to surprise me, even at the very end.).  They’ve become my children.  Right before my vacation, I passed in my latest round of edits to my agent.  They were pretty radical.  I took a little break from writing while I geared up for my vacation and of course while I was away.  I didn’t jump right back in when I came home, either.  A terrorist on the loose  in the state tends to be a little distracting.

Who are these new people?  Their story presented itself to me a couple weeks ago, but I’ve only been able to dive in these last couple of days.  When I started Immortal Dilemma, I had done quite a bit of pre-planning.  It had been a long time since I’d written anything, so I approached it from the way I’d become familiar with: story boards and character studies a la film.  Now that I write all the time, I just dove into this new thing. Yeah, that’s actually what the file is titled on my computer.  This New Thing.  I didn’t bother with character profiles or world building or research.  Just jumped in, head first.  Over the weekend, I’ve probably got down about four thousand words.  But now I feel like I did when I took snowboarding lessons.  How do I control this thing?  Someone give me the instructions!  I’m going to go back and do a little more investigation into why I need to tell these character’s story.  They’re going to be on tour, I can tell you that much, so my world will consist of cheap hotels and tour buses.   I haven’t even totally settled on my MC’s name.  If you have any cool, classic, but not crazy girl names for someone in their mid 20’s, let me know!  (Twitter boys, be nice.  You already razzed my male MC.)

I read a lot while I was on vacation.  I usually can devour a book a flight, and then need something to bury my nose in while I’m out of my element.  My favorite two that I completed this week were the Johnny Cash autobiography, Cash, and Sherrilyn Kenyon’s new paperback release, Time Untime.  If you’re not familiar with Kenyon’s work (I just started reading her stuff), she is influenced heavily by Greek mythology.  Regrettably, my working knowledge of ancient mythology and the classics is piss poor. Upon coming home from the Worcester Art Museum, I asked Julie if she knew their were Indian mythological gods.  Of course she did, she studied classics in that thing called college that I hardly bothered with.  For financial and scheduling reasons, finishing my degree is impractical at this stage of the game.  But I found a way to fill my brain with things I think I might find interesting.

There are tons of free college level courses you can check out online.  Did you see that free word I put in there?  There are two great resources, coursera which offers a variety of courses from all over the world, and MIT Open CourseWare, which is pretty self explanatory.  Even if I had all the time and money in the world, this girl is never getting accepted to MIT.  So how cool is that?  I signed up for Greek and Roman mythology through the University of Pennsylvania.  I’m pretty stoked about it.  I’ve also found a class that breaks down literary relationships that is running this summer, taught by a Brown professor.   Check it out.  You never know what you’ll find!

Web: A Short Story by Julie

TODAY’S BREW: Any caffeinated thing I can reach.

by Julie

I wrote this little  bugger this week in one of those “just write” moments. Have fun.



She was a black addiction that made me vomit inside. Every breath a miraculous barbarity, every touch full of sadistic affection. I would never want for anything with her. She was my everything and I was nothing in her eyes.

I didn’t know what she was, and I never bothered to ask. It didn’t matter when she had me pinned, a spider and fly, webs holding us together rather than words and names.  I could feel her twisting black nails in my heart, and I loved it. I loved her poison more with every scream.

When we met, Chloe looked like every other Goth chick at the club, with her fishnets and shiny leather, hair dyed to match her eyeliner, to match her nails, to match her jacket. But when she looked at me, me who looked no different from her in black all my own, her eyes were the lightest green, like jade in the sun, and darker than anything I had ever known.

Even though I could do better I came back to her no matter how much pain wracked me. Maybe that was why I went back; I thought she would mercifully take it away. The most vicious of circles.

“Marcus, come inside.” Her voice was so ordinary, her body thin and small like just about any fifteen year old girl’s. She hung her head a little, embarrassed by acne, shy about her black lipstick, hiding in her screaming clothes. But once she caught me, I saw a thing so primal it was impossible to believe she cared.

“You don’t always need to tell me to come in; I know by now.” Chloe shot me a hard look and I smirked. I was all pomp and intimidation until she got me in her grasp.

No one was home but her, nobody ever was. We’d been doing this for weeks now.

Her room was predictably painted black, the predictable posters on the walls. I knew underneath that it meant we loved the same bands, the same scene, but since we started meeting like this, everything changed. All of that goth stuff didn’t matter. Only she did. And this.

My chin was in the air even now, even though I knew what was coming. She came in behind me, timid and quiet, still afraid of how “guidance counselor-abrasive” I was.

But we both knew who was really in charge here.

Her shoulders hunched still as she crossed the room, making her tinier. I put my shoulders back, pushed my chest out.

She turned around with a terrifying slowness, chin lowered, glaring up at me. I shook from that look in her black rimmed eyes.

“Tell me why you come here,” she said in the voice I’d come to fear.

“For you.”

“And who am I?” she asked, head cocked, lips peeled back into a disgusting smile.

My head hung, chest caved in, all that attitude withering in her wake.

“Who am I?” she asked again with a hiss.

“You are the Only One.”

A terrible clacking noise with her sudden approach, making me wince, fearing her touch.  I knew it wouldn’t be the same soft hand that had held mine, such a short time ago.

A spiny, hairy talon sort of thing dug into my chin, forcing it up, to make me look at the eyes again.

Every time it got scarier. I was proud of myself that I only pissed my pants the first time. The creature Chloe became was a spider. There was no other way to describe it, though it felt ten times scarier than any spider I could think of, even those bird eating tarantula things. She was huge, black as hell, shark fin barbs on the eight legs clacking excitedly against each other. The bristly hair on its body stood on end, and it was hunchbacked, making it able to look me right in the eyes despite its size.

That face. All spider except for that face. A little girl’s, even younger than Chloe looked at school, like a child trapped in the monster’s body, made into a monster herself with her imprisonment. Finger-long fangs dripped. Chloe’s translucent green eyes bore into me, hideous, cold. Human, but no human ever wanted something so repulsive.

None of that was as bad as when it spoke.

“Do I need to make a new web?” Broken glass and fingernails on a chalkboard, a demon voice. That’s all this thing could be.

I shook my head quickly. Waiting for the web to be spun was agonizing, watching your torture chamber created.

“Get on the bed then.” I didn’t need to be told.

My wounds were itching, just starting to heal, but I resisted clawing at them under my tee shirt. They would be handled soon enough.

Before I could lie on the bed, the Chloe spider flipped me onto my back, crouched over me, venom raining on my face from its teeth. It ripped my shirt off with one of its awful talons, putting a new scrape on my chest. I cried out, and it laughed at me.

There was a mirror on the ceiling. It hadn’t been there the first time I laid here, but Chloe noticed how hard I stared straight up, trying not to know what was happening to me. Causing pain is more fun if your victim gets to watch. I saw six gaping wounds across my ribs, so big I couldn’t believe I survived them. But I did, over and over again. They hung open like smiles, scabbing over just enough to not bleed.

Faster than any bug I had ever seen move, it stood on its two back legs and slashed at me with the other six, simultaneously ripping open the cuts with its barbed legs. I screamed so loud my ears popped, and I could see straight down my throat in the mirror. My eyes were so wide, I didn’t miss a thing.

It hurt so much more than when I cut myself, what an idiot to do it to myself, what could it be in comparison to this, what could it mean next to this? What an ass to think I could ever find a way to feel. Searching through pain for something that would never be mine.

It was hers.

She hovered over me, sticky web wound round her limbs, and darted an all too human tongue into one slash, the venom stinging and breeding pain inside me. Her tongue was a hot knife to remind me I was alive. And alone, so alone, until she showed me that alone is the only way to survive.

After drenching my insides with her poison, the web was threaded into the wound, filling it and closing it, only enough to keep me alive. Her ice eyes on mine while the pain took hold. Finally, bound to something that would never let me go.

I screamed as the poison took hold, made me shake again, spit frothing in my mouth, my own eyes strangers to me. My own heart a stranger.

She leaned into my ear. “I will devour you alive.”

“Not fast enough,” I choked out. And no faster than I would devour myself.




Still Boston Strong

by Kristen

I wasn’t home when the bombings occurred. I was in Nashville, on Broadway, buying cowboy boots.  This might sound like a trivial association to you if you didn’t know how excited I was about those boots.  It’s been one of my bucket list activities to get a genuine pair of cowboy boots.  As that bastard pushed the button, sucker punching my city, I had that rush of adrenaline we all get we when do something that makes us feel alive.  Reminds us why we work so hard.  Why we keep our friends close (I was in town visiting a friend who just moved there.)  Why we believe in what we do.

Had I not been on vacation, there’s a very good chance I would have been working in the city that day.  The thought makes a chill go down my spine.  I’d told my booker I’d be out of town, but I still got some calls from regular clients I turned down.  Where would I have been?  What would I have seen?  How would my life had changed if I hadn’t booked that trip?

It was a strange, helpless feeling, being so far from home.  All I could rely on was the news from friends back home, national news, and internet coverage.  All of it was about the same.  As I write this, we really still no nothing about the coward who attacked so many innocent people.  The strangest part was how life went on when I wanted to tell everyone I saw MY CITY WAS JUST ATTACKED.  Of course, flags were at half staff and signs sent best wishes to Boston from all over Nashville.  Flying home was no different from flying there.

The day after the attacks, I visited the Carnton Plantation in Franklin, Tennessee.  It’s the battlefield site of The Battle of Franklin, a pivotal battle that took place in 1864 that devastated the Confederate Army.  A simple cemetery was erected for all the southern soldiers that lost their lives there.  (Although, I have to wonder what happened to the bodies of the slain Union soldiers.  There was no mention of them on site.)  A folder with a list of names of the soldiers from each state disturbed me.

Many of the soldier’s identities were unknown.

As we seek comfort, strength, and some sort of closure from this awful attack this week, think of all those families who never heard of what happened to their loved ones.  Many of the reasons the states divided and fought against each other aren’t resolved today.  Economic differences.  States rights vs. Federal Rights.  Racial Divide.  The President.  Sound familiar?  One hundred and fifty years later, can’t we see that we are one nation and stand together? Can’t we find a way to move past these things that divide us? Monday shows us we need each other, and we don’t have time to check political affiliations when someone is lying on the ground bleeding.  It sickens me that people automatically assume that a Muslim is to blame, if they are even educated enough to know many Arabic people are Muslim.  It will sicken me if it turns out to be someone we would normally presume to be all American citizen.  The person who did this has one face, and one face only, no matter what they look like.  Enemy.

I didn’t know what I’d find when I came home on yesterday.  The weather has been absolutely perfect, peaceful since my return. Like nature knows we need the beauty.  The city isn’t totally up and running yet, but it will be.  Everyone’s scars are still visible, whether they were at the marathon or not.  But they’ll heal. We all will.  I’m proud of my city for coming together and carrying on in the face of attack.  Whoever did this truly did pick the wrong city.

You don’t mess with Boston.


Boston Strong


By Julie

I’ve not done a blog post on the Boston Marathon bombings until now for a lot of reasons.

First and foremost, this awful thing that has happened to my city, where my parents grew up and met and were married, where I was born, where my entire family lives, where I’ve worked and spent so much time throughout my life and never moved away from since the day I was born, has always  been an untouchable place. Nobody fucks with Boston.

Except now, somebody has. And there are no words.

Secondly, and no less important, this isn’t about my, yours, or anyone else’s fucking blog.

Third, it still hurts now that I wasn’t there to give my shirt to stop the bleeding, to throw myself on someone’s kid to shelter them from the blast, to pull a man to safety, to tell someone that it’s going to be alright.

Bostonians may put their heads down when you walk by them, they may swear at each other, among other things, but we know each other. We don’t put on airs for each other. Bostonians love each other and we love our city.

We are Boston, we are strong, we are proud. And we are not afraid.

Eric Ruben, Esq. Shows Us Why Publishing Lives On & Eats BBQ With Us

TODAY’S BREW: Double Chocolate Something Or Other Who Cares Just Bring Me More

By Julie

Wednesday night, Kristen and I crashed the Mystery Writers of America meeting. Out of place doesn’t begin to describe us there, but we made friends fast and these folks have wine and chocolate. We successfully Twitter stalked one of our most favorite people there, literary agent Eric Ruben, Esq., a man who has more charisma packed into several high profile occupations and stair master mastery than you could probably pack into one of those things.

Eric was talking about the state of the publishing industry, and I was excited to hear what I knew would be a unique take on it. I was not disappointed. Eric always speaks of publishing as being part of the entertainment industry, which at first seems a little….wrong. You read for entertainment, I certainly write for entertainment, but don’t we do these things to escape the noise of television, loud, often bad, music, movie titles that explode when read out loud, and just people in general? True, but writers are just like any other celebrity that entertains us. We want a connection with them. We’ll read anything our favorite novelist writes, won’t we? Just like watching every crappy movie that your favorite actor puts out when they can afford to do so. It’s the reason we watched Angel after the last season of Buffy, and why Joss Whedon is a household name.

We want to spend time with these characters and the minds that created them.  

Simon R. Green is my favorite author. I read everything he writes, even if a series isn’t particularly my favorite. I search for him on Twitter, facebook, want to see more from the man behind the world he created. No longer is an author someone who can hide behind being an introverted shut-in that occasionally graces a book signing or interview. Not when Stephenie Meyer is making cameos in Twilight movies. An author needs to have a public face, make connections, and make nice with the public.

Like all the other forms of show biz, publishing is the last domino to fall to technology. It isn’t disappearing, it’s evolving, like radio, TV, movies, music.  A recording artist needs to have a song played something like 100,000 times on Spotify to make the same money as having it played once on the radio. You can DVR any TV show you like and watch it commercial free with the same technology that allows you to never have to go to the movies again and squeeze your ass into a rock hard chair for two hours. And publishing is the same. The ninety nine cent book is part of the package of self-publishing, and advances with traditional publishing are often non-existent with the promise of higher royalties on the flip side. These are stepping stones in a form of entertainment that has stifled itself with narrow views of the industry.

As disheartening as it is that book stores are disappearing by the hour, all while writers seem to be popping up out of the woodwork, literary agents are still offering representation and making deals with publishers. Eric Ruben, Esq. has other options, and yet still pursues this one avidly. These are the two overriding reasons I came away with:

“The current issues in publishing are not permanent. The thing that scares people is uncertainty.”

Nobody knows what’s happening next for publishing, including the Big Six. A writer writes not to be published, but because the need to write. As long as the writer still exists as an artist, there will be call for publishing. Art history changes every day, but art doesn’t ever go away. It changes, reflects the society that produced it. Publishing and writing will only become obsolete if they don’t do the same. Leading me to….

“No matter what the changes to publishing, the most important thing is to write a great book.”

Technology will change, but a great book won’t. Write great characters that readers want to spend time with, that can sustain a series. Identify your voice and make your work something that nobody else can write.  Write the book that needs to be written by you.

You have Eric Ruben, Esquire’s take on things, with my frenzied runoff at the mouth now. After this, we went out for BBQ and beer.

The End.

Follow Eric Ruben, Esq. @RubenAgency on Twitter.

“The Cherry” by Julie Hutchings

TODAY’S BREW: So much. So much.
I wrote “The Cherry” based partially on a dream I had that wanted the perfect venue, and there could be no better than the amazing blog series done by Josh Hewitt, World’s End. Please, do yourself a favor and read every inch of World’s End. I have never seen a blog series with so many different styles of writing, so much talent, and put together with such thought and precision as my wonderful friend The Hews has done. And now, for my part….The Cherry.

Breaking Up With Trent: Finishing The Animal

TODAY’S BREW: Coffee, coffee, more coffee until my heart screeches and my fridge begs me to stop taking out the creamer because I always knock something over.

by Julie


Yup, yesiree Robert.

This happened on Monday, when Kristen and I have our first writing date of the week. We have another on Friday, but tend to drink a lot more on Monday. (This time it involved events like “I bet we can still do back bends.” We can. We totally can.) But we’re all business, too and I knew this was the night I would write the last chapter of The Animal. Nothing stops me.

Disbelief on Tuesday morning. Then JESUS MARY MOTHER OF GOD I DID IT AGAIN I WROTE ANOTHER BOOK. And then, it happened.

I had post partum word baby depression. I felt like I broke up with my manuscript.

I decided to force myself not to write anything Tuesday. I don’t even know why, but I know I should step back, let ideas well up. That’s what people do, right? I played with the kids a lot, read some stuff, relaxed, but I kept thinking about Trent. Had I done right by him? I couldn’t listen to Blood Red Shoes all day, because Lost Kids somehow became one of Trent’s theme songs. It hurt to think of listening to it. When I broke down and did it, I had to go to Ghetto Gym to work off my angst.

This all felt good. Really good. While every other writer I know agonizes over what their characters tell them to do, I always tell my characters what to do. I am the boss. They work for me. To miss Trent this way, showed me that my creations are more than my employees.


Also, I learned that it is not in me to need a break from writing. If I need a break, something is wrong with me. Before I finished The Animal, I knew that I would dive right into querying Running Home. I can only give attention to one of them at a time, this is the other thing I now know. My needs are to totally immerse myself in one project, with side salads of short stories. That’s my thing. But I can’t ever stop. Not ever.


And neither is my work. I will not have a book that sits. I wrote it for a reason. Running Home is having its time again, while I give Trent and The Animal the space it deserves. We’re just on a break, this isn’t for good.


So you all know what I’m doing, and that I do, indeed have a plan, I’m querying my first novel now. Again. Because I got scared and stopped before. In two weeks I will redraft The Animal and give it out for beta reads. In the meantime, I will be doing short stories for submission and for the blog. I have a story going up tomorrow on Josh Hewitt’s blog for his World’s End series, a sci fi bit that’s different for me, no matter how much sci fi I read.

Know this. I won’t stop writing, I won’t give myself a break. Writing is my break. And breaking up is too hard to do for me to rest.

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