Deadly Ever After

Archive for the month “May, 2013”

Mother By Julie Hutchings

TODAY’S BREW: Chocolate Cappuccino Chunk. Not Walmart brand.

By Julie

 

Her eyes spoke of merciless things, wild and unrepenting, but only if you were looking.

“The wreckage is….” Mayor Whitley couldn’t finish his sentence. It didn’t seem like he’d finished one yet since he arrived at the tornado site. A war could not have created such unrecognizable rubble, such smoldering destruction. The occasional scream was still heard when a victim was moved the wrong way, or when some child was spotted that an aching mother never thought she’d see again. The mayor flinched with every human noise.

The woman stood next to Mayor Whitley, the two of them alone amongst throngs of emergency workers and police. The tornado had brought volunteers from counties within a one hundred mile radius. Ironically, the same span the tornado had ravished.

This woman was no emergency worker or even a do-gooder busybody, of which the county had plenty. The mayor didn’t ask who she was, why she was there, or why her face was so serenely peaceful at this tragic time. It never occurred to him.

“This path of destruction,” she said, her voice sea-glass smooth, “is one that your people will recover from.” She never looked at him, only out across the flat expanse of land, leveled to newness.

This made Mayor Whitley search out her eyes, disbelief dropping his jaw, head shaking slowly. “Recover? Ma’am, we’ve already found twenty-two dead. How will they recover? Their children, their wives?”

Her eyes were the shade of freshly turned earth and blossoming with as much life. “There are no answers for some questions,” was all she said.

Mayor Whitley took his eyes off of the wreckage long enough to look at this woman. She was both a part of the land and completely apart from it. Hair the color of beach sand cascaded in waves over her shoulders, which he noted with shock, were covered in a fox stole, under the sweltering sun— the head was still attached. Its beady eyes were humbly downcast. She was dressed in a gown of brilliant blue, transluscent , and marked like a peacock. No, when Whitley looked closer, it was overlaid with what had to be real peacock feathers. He had no doubt the snakeskin flat shoes she wore were real, as well. And the huge, raw jewel rings she had on every finger. She noticed the way he stared, and smiled warmly, like clouds being parted.

Her teeth were sharp, like a wild animal’s.

“How can you ask for such beauty that this world offers each day without a willingness to see it end? What gives you the right, my child?”

“Um. Um.”

She observed him sputtering with  detachment.

“There won’t be any more dead,” she said, and it was like an ancient tomb breathed the words. They came from a time and place where good and evil were the same. Where humans knew their place, cringing from desert storms and towering tsunamis. Where nature was king.

Mayor Whitley felt like he had been punched in the gut by  something beautiful and terrifying, like he was being smothered by a million roses. “Who…who…?”

The woman leaned over to him, her whisper louder than the trucks and falling debris. Her face shimmered in the heat, becoming a thousand different images at a sickening speed; the serene Madonna, fearsome Cleopatra, a painted whore, a goddess with elk’s horns and tree leaves surrounding her head and a smile full of unassuming malice. Mayor Whitley fell backward, scrambling away like a scuttling crab, spitting and drooling, dumbfounded.

“Do you really want to know?” she said, her voice a storm in itself.

Mayor Whitley shook his head furiously.

She stood upright, her chin in the air, a vision of gorgeous cruelty and insurmountable power that hushed the air. A halo of pitch black moving clouds whizzed in the air behind her, and Mayor Whitley was terrified another tornado was coming out of thin air. But the closer he looked over her shoulder at the moving mass, he realized it was thousands of black birds, in synchronized motion, taking over the sky. One of them broke from the horde and came to land on the woman’s shoulder, twittering softly into her hair, nuzzling her ear.

“It’s called a murmuration,” she said, nuzzling the bird back, gesturing to the black wasp-like buzz of wings behind her, ominous and stunningly lovely. “It’s how the starlings communicate where to feed, and it’s a defense against predators.” All of the maternal softness she showed the starling evaporated as she focused on the mayor again. “But the starling population is declining, and murmurations are fewer. Because no amount of the birds together could preserve them forever. They are uniquely beautiful, but not eternal. Nothing is.”

Mayor Whitley looked slowly to the bodies behind him being moved into ambulances for no reason. They would not be any more alive with medical teams grasping for life for them.

Cold as a snowstorm, she said, “Nature must endure change to survive. Your sacrifices are not unique.” The starling flew off, back to the swirling black mass of its family. The woman gritted her teeth and looked out over the sadness that had engulfed the county. “But a mother’s sacrifices are. A mother makes the hardest choices.”

“A mother….”

The murmuration was gone, quick as it came, the birds flying in a hundred different directions. The woman watched it go, tears in her eyes. Her voice was thick with emotion. “Creation always begins with destruction. And balance begins with creation.”

She began to walk into what was left of the woods, and the mayor would have sworn on a Bible that the trees bent to follow her.

A starling lay dead at the mayor’s feet.

 

 

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When To Stop Listening

Today’s Brew:  Iced anything.  Dear Lord Jesus, it’s hot out there. Ain’t nobody got time for that.

by Kristen

“That one was not my fault, Ellie. How was I supposed to know he was a cokehead?”

“I don’t know, Kat. The constant bloody noses, the five inch long pinky nail, the bag of coke he always carried…”

–From Running Home

Our Twitter buddy Rob Kristofferson (@kristoffrable) posted these lines from Julie’s book today.  It pleased me for two reasons:  It’s one of my favorite scenes in the book because I feel like you learn a lot about Ellie and Kat’s relationship in this conversation. And someone told Julie to take this scene out.

Thankfully, she didn’t listen.  The person suggested it was an info dump, and that friends would never talk like that.  So maybe her friends didn’t talk like that.  But I know that my friends talk like that, so I suggested that the scene stay.  I’m glad Julie agreed.

I had entered my query for Because The Night, then Immortal Dilemma, in a critique form.  It got ripped to shreds.  Ripped.  Not only did the reviewer hate my query, she hated every aspect of my story.  I was dumbfounded.  I had sent the query out to an agent and entered it in another contest.  I finished second in the contest, and got a full request from the person who wound up being my agent, Pam van Hylckama Vlieg.  Now what if I totally changed that query around, or even worse, lost confidence in what I had to share?  Where would I be now?

Vampire books don’t sell, we all know that right?  Okay, so tell Julie that.  Tell my agent that.  Tell the publisher that I talked to who said “you can never be too thin, too rich, or publish too many vampires.”  Shitty vampire books don’t sell. I even take that back, since I’ve read some clunkers.  Right the best story you can, no matter what speaks to you.  It’s your voice that will find you an audience, not the hot genre of the moment.

Critique partners, editors, Authonomy reviews, contest leaders…everyone means well.  But it’s all just an opinion. Figuring out which ones to listen to is the hardest part of editing.  Because one person feels a certain way about your work doesn’t mean that everyone does.  It doesn’t even mean anyone else does. There aren’t any real answers to who has the best advice.  You need to follow your heart and do what is best for your story.  No one knows the story in your heart better than you do.

Meet The Muses

Today’s Brew:  Vanilla Caramel Creme, but it’s going to be laced with Benedryl soon. Because pollen.

by Kristen

As writers, we all hope that as we sit down in front of our keyboards or notebooks that our muse will join us, whispering her genius into our ear.  Without her, we are not as creative or prolific.  Our songs are flat and whoever is listening will probably change the channel, looking for something more interesting.

Muses have partnered with story tellers since ancient times.  In Greek  poetry,  many bards such as Homer and Hesiod thank the muses for helping them tell such epics as The Odyssey and Theogony.  In Greek mythology, the muses are the nine daughters of Zeus and Mnemosyne.

Each Muse represented a different art, which most of their names can also be “associated” with:

C-all-I-o-PE …. epic poetry/song (CIPE=epic rev.)
C-lio ….. history (C.=circa/century)
euterpe ….. lyric poetry/song
t-HA-lmia ….. comedy
m-ELP-omene ….. tragedy
terpsi-CHORE ….. choral dancing
ER-at-O ….. erotic (ie.love) poetry/song
poly-HYMN-ia ….. sacred poetry/song
URAN-ia ….. astronomy

The muses speak to me often.  They’re my main characters.  It started very subtly, with Callie, Calliope if you’re trying to get on her nerves.  I picked the name simply because I liked it.  As Because The Night unfolded, I realized that she drew musicians to her, and made them more creative.   She was their muse.  What a happy coincidence.

Instead of working on a linear series, I decided to make a collection of stories about rockstar vampires and the muses they’ve drawn to them, The Night Songs Collection.  In my current project, Night Moves, I am working with three muses.  Melanie (my modernization of Melpomene) is trying to put her life back together after a tragic event changes everything.  She reconnects with her friend Erin (my update of Erato) who is up to some saucy activity, and they have a run in with Polina (or Polyhymnia) who belongs to a secret organization.  That’s all I can tell you right now.  I have plans for two more right now, with Leah (instead of Clio) a historian, and Rayna (Urania) a fortune teller.

Since all of these lovely ladies become entwined with musicians, their patron saint is a real person.  Pamela Des Barres, a famous groupie from the 60s and 70s who wrote many books about her adventures with various bands.  This weekend, I’m headed out of the country to Toronto to attend one of her writing seminars.  I think it’s important to my muses that I meet the woman who made it all possible for them.

I will have a full report next week when I come back!

Memorial Day Sappiness With Julie

TODAY’S BREW: Memorial Day Margaritas. Don’t judge me.

By Julie

 

Memorial Day is literally the only complete day my husband will take off from work this month, and only because he has to. Liquor stores have to close. Tim works tirelessly because it’s what allows me to be home with my babies. He does it so I can write, so I can do what my brain and heart itch for. He does it so our kids can see that this is how you pursue happiness. And he does it because he believes that I can make my dream a reality.

Now he’s right. My first book is becoming a real live book, the way I wanted it to be done. Every minute I think it, which is every minute, it seems surreal. Walking through BJ’s Wholesale Club the other day with my family, the six year old, Bennett, was looking at books with me. And he asked me “Your book is going to be like these?” I could say yes. It must have seemed almost impossible to him, and I hope that everything he thinks is impossible can be possible for him and his little brother, and I hope that I am much of the reason why they believe.

I hope that I have given some of that same hope to my husband, who has given me so much belief in myself. To be told that someone believes in you is one thing, but this man shows it to me every single day with the smile on his face after another countless work day, with the way he holds his children and plays with them. He looks to me like a man that is perfectly happy and knows the best is yet to come. I could not be more proud to be a part of that.

This Memorial Day meant something a little different to me. People who sacrifice for others aren’t just limited to the armed services. They are the people in your life that trust you, compromise for your happiness, and don’t take the easy way out because they know that risk sometimes pays off if you believe in the cause hard enough.

My husband is my cause, his belief my reason, and our children the force behind them. And soon, the fruits of my labor will be in your hands, and I hope you feel the force of the words, too. Thank you for always reading my work, and encouraging me. Don’t ever think that I forget a word of what you say to keep me writing. Thank you for believing in me.

 

Running Home Is Now On Goodreads!

We don’t have an exact release date yet, but it won’t be long until Running Home is available.  We don’t have a cover yet either.  But you know what we do have?  A Goodreads page.

Please make Julie  a happy girl and mark it as “Want To Read.”  We’ll keep you updated on when Running Home will be available for everyone’s reading pleasure!

Click here to add Running Home to your Want To Read list.

NEWS

Here is where the fantastical Beau Barnett attributes to me the reason why he is an amazing writer. For those of you who do not know Beau, you can speak to this man once and see the honesty and warmth that he would put into his writing. He is a singular man with a singular ability, and I love him dearly.

Beau Barnett's blog

As I’m sure all of you have heard by now, recently Clean Teen Publishing (of all places) chose a short story I wrote for publication in their Wonderstruck anthology, which is being released this coming Friday, May 31st. They provided 5 pictures, and asked authors to pick one and submit a story based on the photo. Amazingly, they selected mine. I am excited and honored to be a part of it; this is my first publishing credit. *flails*

There are a whole bunch of people that made this possible. Everybody who ever gave me an encouraging word after reading some of the atrocious crap that spews forth from my brain onto the page played a part. The constant love and encouragement and general good times offered by the crazy folks who take part in #writeclub each and every week.

There is one person in particular, however, that without whom I…

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Vegas Is A City Of Decaying Beauty; Just Like You

Thought Catalog

Vegas is a city of decaying beauty; Just like you. Vegas is fast, fickle and a mess of girls who are beautiful with men who are no such thing. But they can afford it. You, you are faster though, more fickle and you hang off the arm of a different man every week. Vegas is a city with beauty used as a concealer, to hide the blemishes of the darkness in the cracks. You, you are the same but you are so much more as well.

There is a lot I know about you, I know that you like your kisses rough and your coffee strong. I know that you think we deserve to live in a house with marbled floors with too many bedrooms to count. You say ‘I’ll make it one day, you’ll see.’ and I nod because this is you. This is you believing that what we…

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Sweet Oblivion

Today’s Brew:  I’m almost out of coffee!  I’m always out of food, but this is a real emergency!

by Kristen

There are many beginnings to Because The Night,  but here is an account of the night Tristan met Talis.

Sweet Oblivion

Tristan, Los Angeles, 2010.

All I could see through my haze was blonde hair. I was already well on my way to oblivion that night, but I couldn’t let this one get away.

Who was this chick?  She stared me down, but didn’t approach.  I didn’t chase women.  They chased me.  Numb to the burn, I finished my drink in one gulp before I made my move.

“I can make you a star in your own right, Tristan,” she whispered in my ear as she ran her hand lightly down my chest.  I shuddered as her cool fingers trailed down to my stomach.

This I had to see.  I could wipe my ass with my father’s money.  What could she have that I needed?
I closed my eyes, moaning as she nibbled at my neck. Whatever she offered, she had my attention.  I savored her scent.  Sunshine.  Familiar.

I had to be tripping.  She wasn’t here.

As my lips met hers, I led her to the dingy backstage area, just like I did after every show here. My post show ritual never changed, not even for her. I navigated down the hallway, lit only by blacklight, careful not to bang up against the sticky walls.  I eased her down towards the couch, which had seen plenty of action of this kind, and kicked the door closed behind us.

“What’s your name?” Just a formality.

“Talis,” she pulled her cool mouth away from my body long enough to respond.  “I’ve been watching you.”

She had made her way down below my stomach, licking and playing with the hair that trailed down below my belt buckle. I arched my back, unable to take much more. Was she trying to make a fool out of me? I had started to undo my pants to free myself, but she slapped my hands away, like I had done something bad.  This wasn’t right. I was supposed to be in control.  But with her, this was almost a relief.

I’d do whatever she wanted.

Somehow, she had my on my knees, kneeling on the couch cushion.  She crawled back up my body, wrapping her arms around my shoulders and placing herself in my lap.  Her hair and smile glowed in the darkness, blurry with her face so close to mine. “I’m going to be your whole world.”

“Show me, baby.”

She pushed my shoulders and pinned me down. Now she had my attention. This chick was strong. Maybe it was just the dope messing with me.  She leaned over me, her cold eyes demanded an audience.

“This is going to be everything you ever wanted.”

Kissing me again, she worked her way down to my neck.  She licked and nipped it, sending a shiver through my body.

I could get used to this.

The Five Spot: Pam van Hylckama Vlieg

Today’s Brew:  I’m on straight Starbuckian Goodness.  Early day today.

by Kristen

We are unveiling a new feature on Deadly Ever After:  The Five Spot.  We ask people you care about five questions, and they answer.

To kick off this series, we chose my agent, Pam van Hylckama Vlieg of Foreward Literary.  Foreward is a new agency with a new attitude, so she was the perfect person to ask about what the heck is going on in publishing these days.

Many publishers are adopting a “hybrid” philosophy, but Foreward seems to be one of the first literary agencies to embrace this.  Can you tell us what a hybrid agency is what the advantages are?

We realize that clients want to publish in a myriad of different ways. Traditional, audio, self publishing, digital only, heck even video games. We want to make sure we can meet our client’s needs no matter what area of publishing they want to pursue.

Tell us about Fast Forward.

Fast Foreword is a digital short program. The books are almost novella length ranging from 15,000 – 25,000 words. We have a team in place to work with distributors and to get pesky things like covers and formatting handled. We believe that works like this are easy to produce and polish and can help build a fan base for a debut or an author who is already published. 

Do you think it’s more risky to be ahead of the trends or behind the trends as an agent or a publisher?

I think all things that are worth something are risky. But I think not keeping up with the times is dangerous. You don’t have to always be the first to do something, but being the very last usually means you’re losing whatever game you’re playing.

How do you feel that your background as a book blogger contributes to your success as an agent?

I think that as a blogger I came into agenting hyper aware of the market and who the key players are. I believe it gave me a different kind of education.

Publishing is changing rapidly.  What do you think we will see more of in the future?

More ways to exploit subrights!

Many thanks to Pam for these great answers!

About Pam van Hylckama Vlieg:

pamfeatured

Pam van Hylckama Vlieg started her literary career as assistant to Laurie McLean in early 2012. By April Pam was promoted to Associate Agent at Larsen Pomada. In January of 2013 after selling twenty-one books in her first year of agenting Pam was promoted to agent. When Laurie McLean mentioned creating Foreword, Pam jumped at the chance to follow her mentor and create a new agency together.

Pam blogs at Bookalicio.usBookalicious.org, and Brazen Reads. She partners her blogs with her local bookseller Hicklebee’s where magic happens daily.

Pam grew up on a sleepy little Podunk town in Virginia. She’s lived in the UK, several US states, and now resides in the Bay Area of California. She has two kids, two dogs, two guinea pigs, but only one husband. You can find her mostly on Twitter where she wastes copious amounts of time.

Julie’s Big News!

Books of the Dead Press Sign Author Julie Hutchings

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Today’s Brew:  Champagne, Bitches!

Books of the Dead Press are proud to announce that we have signed Julie Hutchings to a one-book deal, and we will be releasing her debut novel “Running Home” in the coming months. She was also featured a short while ago on Books of the Dead with her flash fiction piece, The Threat.

Julie is the wildcard and muscle behind the Undead Duo – a two person writing team that includes Julie Hutchingsand Kristen Strassel. She is also a life-long New Englander with an obsession for the dark mysteries of the backwoods of New Hampshire. When the inspiration struck to write her debut novel, she found the opportunity to blend her love of Japanese culture with her love of vampire mythology.

Welcome aboard, Julie!

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