Deadly Ever After

Archive for the month “August, 2013”

Bad Reviews: Nothing Personal, Just Business

Today’s Brew:  All the coffee.

by Kristen

One star reviews blow.  There’s no way around that one, but there’s no way to prevent them, either. You wrote the book you had to write.  Not everyone is going to agree that it’s a masterpiece.  That’s fine. I have read plenty of much hyped, best selling books that I can barely stand to finish.  I usually just don’t review them.

As more of my friends release books, I find myself spending more time paying attention to the reviews books in general receive.  Everyone has some clunkers.  Like I said, nothing wrong with that.  A one or two star review with valid reasoning of why someone did not enjoy the book is helpful to other readers.

A mean spirited insult fest is not.

There seems to be a crop of these mean reviewers online who enjoy doling out these spiteful reviews. It’s pretty easy to do, sitting anonymously behind a computer screen using a screen name.  I have to wonder if they put themselves out there at all or attempt anything creative.  It’s pretty easy to criticize when you have no idea what goes into a creative process.

What really got me hot was a recent one star given to a fellow writer.  It had 22 comments.  I clicked on it, figuring it would be people disagreeing.  I was absolutely disgusted by what I found.

The thread developed into a personal attack on the writer. Making fun of her and her bio.  What. The. Actual.  Fuck.  I can’t even begin to tell you how uncalled for this is. And if it’s a surprise to you that this behavior is considered piss poor, get off my blog. Now. Really, I’ll hold the door for you. If you want to be considered a professional book reviewer (this person had an advanced copy of the book), you need to pay heed to that first word. Professional.  Personal attacks are disgusting in middle school and even more deplorable from adults.  I hope the publisher of this book bans this reviewer from getting any more advance, FREE copies of their books.  Again, not because of the bad review, but because this person doesn’t deserve the perks of their job until they learn how to express their opinions in a professional manner.

For all the people who joined in on this attack, shame on you.  You write a book, you put yourself out there, and then after it’s all said and done, go back and read what you wrote.  I’ll wait.  You should be ashamed of yourself if you’ve participated in this.  Dislike the book all you want, but don’t attack a person you know nothing about.

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Book Review: ‘Running Home’ by Julie Hutchings

DEAR LORD, I LOVE THIS REVIEW, AND NOT ONLY BECAUSE THE WORD ‘WHORE’ IS IN THE FIRST SENTENCE. Thank you, Rob. Dream come true stuff.

Team Hellions

The main theme of fiction, of writing in general, is that nothing is original. That everything is exploitation, and all ideas are available from the corner whore. I’ve never subscribed to the idea, though one cannot help but notice trends at times. If I had to boil it down, the current trends include Young Adult fiction, zombies, dystopian worlds, and fairytale retellings. Vampires have also been a particular trend that has rode the wave of Twilight furry, and still remains steady today. In the case of Julie Hutching’s vampires, though, you’re in for a treat, as the reader becomes exposed to the most original concept in vampire fiction in some time.

Running Home

The stand outs in vampire literature are so because they are clearly defined by originality, using and manipulating established standards to make the reader feel like they’re experiencing something completely new. For example, in I Am Legend, the…

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Running Home Available NOW!

Today’s Brew:  Champagne!

by Kristen

Picture it, Whiskey Tango Boulevard. Not as you know and love it today, but in the late 1980s.  Two teenage girls with bad hair, a love of fantasy, and a notebook pass their free time.  They filled that notebook with ridiculous stories about their friends and rock stars.  When they weren’t in the house, the dark haired girl would tell the blonde stories of her “dreams” to entertain her. They would pass notes between classes full of more of the same.  Their wild imaginations could not be stopped.

Move forward a few years, to when the brunette tells the blonde that she’s going to major in business in college.  The blonde thinks this is the most ridiculous thing she’s ever heard.  You don’t want to business, she tells the brunette.  You want to write.  The brunette majors in creative writing and still manages to go on to have a successful career in business despite the blonde’s advice.

I’m sure you can figure that Julie is the brunette and I’m the blonde.

Today, the culmination of all of Julie’s hard work is out for the entire world to enjoy.  Running Home is finally available.  Little more than a year ago, this book only existed in long hand writing, spread out between multiple notebooks.  Now, it fits nicely into your electronic reading advice.

Being so active in the writing community, it’s easy to forget what a giant accomplishment this is.  First of all, Julie wrote this book by hand while her oldest son slept.  Then, barely computer literate, she not only managed to transform it into a viable manuscript, but she built a giant, adoring community of friends and found Running Home a home.  Seventy percent of books that are started are not finished.  A single digit percentage of those finished books get published.  It’s like hitting the lottery.

This very moment is what Julie has always wanted.  One of the reasons she quit her management job to pursue this dream is so she could show her sons that you could accomplish anything if you worked hard enough at it.  They might be too young to understand that now, but that is a lesson I wish anyone bothered to instill in me as a child.

So please join me in congratulating my best friend, my hetrosexual life partner, and McGee’s favorite auntie on the release of her debut novel.  And would you please go buy it?

 

 

J. Liz Hill Is The Best Now Go See Why Because I Said So

TODAY’S BREW: Pumpkin is as pumpkin does. I have no idea what that means.

By Julie

If you’re all up in my face on Twitter, then you know that I talk to J. Liz Hill all damn day. I adore her. One of the kindest, most generous and thoughtful people on the planet, and she will destroy you with her writing habits. I mean this girl writes all the time. And never complains that ughgh my muse has been kicked in the face and can’t get up or I’m just too tired from living life to create as I am supposed to do. She is an inspiration and a half.

AND YET SHE NEVER TALKS ABOUT HERSELF AND NOT ENOUGH PEOPLE KNOW ABOUT HER BOOK, BOUND, AND NOW THE SEQUEL IS UPON US ALMOST AND YOU NEED TO KNOW.

So first, this:

http://t.co/TPAOhxcNQC

1. Give us a quick few lines to sum up Bound and Possession.

BOUND

Faylanna graduates from the academy where she learned magic only to find her father has made some sort of deal that involves her, though she’s never been apprised of this. When she flees from his men rather than go along with this, she meets Tavis, who’s on the road himself in search of his long-vanished mother. They help each other through difficult events, and all the while, Faylanna wonders whether she should at last give in to the pressure to make a choice that will be with her for the rest of her life: To bind her magic to that of another.

POSSESSION

Faylanna and Tavis face new challenges, each learning things about themselves that have been kept secret from them by everyone around them. The truth changes the nature of their lives. When Tavis’ mother is kidnapped in an effort to resurrect old plots they both thought finished, the race is on to save her. As the secrets pile up, their weight might destroy Faylanna and Tavis.

2. What’s your favorite supernatural/mythological species to write about and why?

Angels, hands down. I love anything with wings, really, but the idea of angels has always fascinated me, especially the fall from grace that they’re capable of. Come to think of it, that might explain my next project.

3. Tell me your favorite line or paragraph from Bound or Possession.

This is one of my favorites that doesn’t give anything away. It’s from Possession, part of a scene between Tavis and Faylanna.

The light from the hall had ruined his ability to see in the darkened room for the moment, but he heard her cross to him. When she was close enough, he reached out, put his hands on her slender waist and pulled her closer. His own relief was overwhelming as he slid his arms around her. Laying his head on her chest, he listened to her heartbeat and it reminded him that there was still one constant in his world. She tangled the fingers of one hand in his hair and her other arm went around his shoulders. He loved that no words were necessary with her at that moment.

4. Tell me a little about your writing process, and how you maintain such a rigorous schedule.

My writing process. Well, it usually starts with an idea or a character and I make notes as more of it comes to me. I write everything down, no matter how crazy it seems or unlikely. Eventually, the idea feels more like a story than disconnected notes and at that point, I organize the notes in a program called Omni Outliner. Once I’ve done that, I outline the whole story from beginning to end, covering all the major events. These things often happen while I’m editing other things and making notes on other stories by the way. Note-making never stops.

Then I start writing. Well, I start the first draft. Everything else (except the occasional note) stops at this point. Everything is about writing the draft. I put in long days (5-6 hours after my day job, all day on weekends) of writing. Over time my average words per day has increased, but these days, it takes me about 20-30 days to write that draft.

After that, I leave it alone for at least a couple months before I start revisions. I typically go through three rounds of revisions. One for major story stuff, one for wording and continuity and a final one that I do out loud. It’s good for catching repetitive wording and anything that’s leftover from previous edits (I call them the ghosts of edits past)

How do I keep it up? I never stop. Momentum is a key part of this whole thing, and that’s easier to maintain than have to rebuild, so I just keep rolling from one thing to another. Don’t ask how many novels I’m juggling through this process. The number scares me if I think too much about it.

5. What’s going to make readers fall in love with Bound and Possession?

I think readers will love how Faylanna and Tavis negotiate their relationship, not to mention how they each try to cope and help each other cope with the trials they both face. For them, falling in love with each other is just the beginning in many ways.

6. Now you. Tell us your favorite thing to do when you aren’t writing. Twitter doesn’t count. 😉

Playing video games. I love anything with a good story, so I mostly end up playing roleplaying games, but I loved the storyline in the Halo series. I find there’s a lot to be learned from them anyway, on a craft level, but I just plain enjoy them as a way to get my mind off working.

7. What’s the thing you’ve never done that you wish you had and/or plan to do?

I’ve never been on a vacation to anywhere tropical and beachy. I’d love to stand on the beach with the sand in my toes and the ocean lapping at my feet. That’s not in the current budget, but maybe in the next couple of years I can do that.

8. What’s the coolest thing you’ve ever done?

The problem is that I rarely think the things I do are cool. I mean, it’s just me doing them, right? I guess going to Norwescon earlier this year was pretty cool. I did it all on my own, without knowing anyone else who was going. It was scary and I may have ended up texting a friend in a panic at one point (I totally did), but I went and participated in stuff. I ended up having fun and I’m going back next year.

9. Dinner party, and you can invite 6 people, living or dead. Who are they and why?

Anne McCaffrey – Because she was the author who inspired me most to start writing myself.

Carol Berg – Because she’s my favorite living author. I met her briefly at Norwescon and she’s fabulous. (I somehow maintained my dignity and didn’t turn into an brainless fangirl)

Julie and Kristen – Because we really do need to hang out. Seriously. IRL.

(Side note: We eat a lot. This may be something the host of any dinner party may want to rethink.)

Trent Reznor – My all time favorite musician. How could I not have him there?

Keanu Reeves – For a long list of reasons, particularly that I find him fascinating and would love to have a conversation with him.

10. Describe your perfect day.

It’s going to sound kind of corny, but writing. A day where the story’s flowing like a torrent and it’s raining outside. Good music playing. A hot coffee at my side. That’s perfect to me. Since I live in Vancouver, you can imagine, I get these from time to time. 🙂

 

 

A Literary Tour Of The UK

Today’s Brew:  Cherry Chip Swirl with French Vanilla.

by Kristen

When a veteran boy scout leader is at the helm of your trip, you can guarantee one thing:  you are going to see a lot of stuff.  And do a lot of walking.  (Okay, two things.)  My goodness, there are a lot of stairs in the United Kingdom!  Everyone in our group left the country with thigh muscles worthy of a Radio City Rockette.

Not only did I get to meet the fantastic and beautiful Chynna-Blue Scott, I got to see the royal birth announcement.  The Cliffs of Scotland. Stonehenge! Big Ben. Parliament. I saw men in kilts.  I ate fish and chips. I drank tea in a tea room. I saw more royal jewels than I can shake a stick at.  The 13 year old boy in me will forever giggle at “royal jewels.”

uk 6

I also saw a lot of cool literary stuff I didn’t expect to see.  We spent a few days in the tiny town of Wincanton, in the southwestern part of the country.  A beautiful, classic English farm town, they don’t get a lot of American tourists.  So imagine what happens when five models, me, and a photographer show up.  Some old man kissed my hand while he proclaimed his drunken man love of John Wayne.

Wincanton is Terry Pratchett’s hometown.  I knew of Pratchett, but I didn’t know much about him before the trip.  Even before I knew it belonged to him, I was curious about the Discworld boutique on Wincanton’s main street.  Inside, in addition to some very friendly rescued cats, you will find everything Pratchett.  All of his books.  Discworld merchandise.  And one of his assistants, working the shop that day.  We wound up chatting for a while, which was fascinating.  He helps with Pratchett’s research, makes props for movies, and helps run the store.  He was an expert of all things Pratchett.  We talked a little bit about the state of publishing, since I mentioned I wrote too.  He credited the internet and digital readers with spreading the world about Pratchett to American readers.  He also acknowledged what a mess publishing is right now. Since I’m a newb to Pratchett’s work, he pointed me in the direction of the The Truth, which is about a newspaper editor.  I liked the fact that you can read the Discworld novels in any order.  I’m pretty sure everyone in the group left with a new book.

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As some of you know, I’ve never read Harry Potter.  I’ve only sort of seen the first movie once.   So when I had the chance to go on the Harry Potter backlot tour in Watson with some of the ladies in my group, I declined.  Not only would all the references be lost on me, I work in film.  A backlot tour would be a busman’s holiday for me.  I did see Platform 9 3/4 at King’s Cross station, but didn’t get a picture like some of my traveling companions.

UK 3

When exploring Edinburgh, some of the girls and I got the bus day pass so we could hop on and hop off as we wished.  We were looking for somewhere to have dinner on a cool rainy evening, and when the bus drove by The Black Medicine Coffee Shop, it was a unanimous decision to hop off the bus.  It looked so cool, with totem poles painted on the side of the building.  We didn’t expect to see this plaque:

uk 7

The Black Medicine Coffee Co. was closing for the night when we went inside, so I could only hope to soak up some JK Rowling mojo from this incredibly cool looking cafe before leaving.

UK 2

We also went by The Elephant Cafe, another favorite writing haunt of Rowling’s.  Edinburgh, which by the way is everything I expected London to be (London seemed very much like Boston to me), also offered Literary walking tours.  I didn’t have a chance to go on one of these, as we were only in the city for a little less than 48 hours, instead opting for the Necrobus Ghost Tour of the city.

20130728_210657

#4. Rezerection by J.C. Michael…

JC Michael is a great friend and my brother at Books of the Dead Press. He doesn’t do this short story thing often, so I eat it up when I can. Watch for his novel, Discoredia, coming very soon. I mean me first, but then.

Putting Your Money Where Your Stupid Mouth Is

TODAY’S BREW: Still celebrating the 5 star review, so I think there may be a Cinnamon Dolce Latte in order.

By Julie

I’m a bit of a jerk, as you all may know. Kristen is a bit of a girl. When she acts like a girl, my jerk tells her so, and when I overstep my jerk bounds, her Feelings side bring me down to size.

I’m on Super High right now over Running Home’s cover, and the edits, and the fact….yes, FACT, that it will be available any moment now. Right, Roy? ANY MOMENT NOW. The book got a 5 star review from Opening Line Literary ‘Zine, and I have never felt like that in my life. The Harpy edits are still progressing, slower than I want, but I have to give my brain a little time occasionally.

Still got an idea for a book, though. Kristen made me say it out loud on Undead Duo Live on Monday night. No, I gave no details because I’m still rolling it over in my heart, feeling it out. But I have this thing, where if I come up with an idea for a book, I act on that bitch. Rarely do I put it aside. So I’ve come up with a bit of structure for it, and I’m feeling it. I am.

Leave it to Chynna Blue Scott, Jolene Haley and Josh Hewitt, incredibly supportive Twitter friends, to drag out of me what this idea is. I emailed them my thoughts, and they loved it. That got me excited AGAIN, and then, then I sent it to Kristen.

Her response was “I’m not into it.” She said it feels like it’s been done. She is going to hate me for this post, by the way.

I got immediately fucking pissed. We were sitting on the same couch when it happened, and we didn’t talk for an hour. We made up, we always do, and I could have not taken such offense, and she could have been more gentle. I’ve become so accustomed to positive encouragement, and haven’t had anyone tell me my idea sucked for a long time. And the high sank at the speed of….me running towards a pizza.

I thought what the fuck have we been preaching about vampires not being a done deal, and doing them in a unique way that nobody has seen before for? Why are we saying anything you write is worth writing because you created it and your idea is unique no matter what? What a bunch of bullshit, if at the end of the day the gut reaction isn’t “what kind of spin are you putting on this to make it yours?” This talk of having a voice that stands out in a saturated genre is just talk.

And then I got annoyed that I wasn’t standing behind my own convictions. Just because someone says it might not be the best thing they ever read, does not mean you buckle and move on. Write what you want to write, and damn writing for someone. I’m passionate about my work, and that is what will make it stand out. You can’t be passionate about something that you don’t stand behind. Of course I’m sensitive about people liking my work, I don’t care what anybody says, we all are. But after I get over the little tidal wave of criticism, I stand up and jump into the waves. Because fuck it, writer’s gonna write.

WRITE THE BOOK YOU HAVE TO WRITE OR EVERYTHING BREAKS.

This is my favorite quote, and it works in a couple of ways. Write what itches you, or you’re going to feel it forever, in a bad way that no amount of hydrocortisone can fix. But also, if you find you don’t have to write it, chalk it up to a cool idea for another time, and write the book that breathes fire into you.

I don’t know which one of these categories this book falls into. But if Kristen hadn’t challenged me on it, I wouldn’t have the urge to dig deeper into the roots of why I want to write it. That purpose in writing it, that is what makes a book a good one. That tangible emotion that sweats onto the page from an author who had to get the story out. Otherwise, a good idea is just a good idea, and not a living, breathing thing begging to be let out.

I still don’t know if this book needs to be written by me or not, but now I have the kick in the ass to find out.

Tonight! We Are Back in Full Technicolor Blog Radio!

Today’s Brew:  Still ginger ale, but I’m gonna live, guys.

by Kristen

You are cordially invited to join Julie and I at 6:30 PM EST on whatever internet transmitter you choose.  We’re back on blogtalkradio.com.

See? An actual engraved invite.  Don’t say I never gave you anything.

Tonight’s topics may include but are certainly not limited to: Running Home’s impending release. Kristen’s European adventure. Pen and Muse Summer School. And whatever McGee wants to add his two cents about.  Which will probably involve me getting him nice, fresh water. Right now. That’s how he rolls.

We’re still not taking calls, but we will. Soon. Last time, it worked great that you all used #undeadduolive on twitter.

Here’s the show link:  Show link.   Remember, we do this for you. And if that’s not enough to guilt you into listening to us, well, tell me what is.

RUNNING HOME COVER REVEAL & The Best Review EVER

TODAY’S BREW: PUMPKIN LIKE NOBODY’S BUSINESS, BABY!

By Julie

Every author has fantasies about being on talk shows and red carpet events for their books. You can’t even tell me you don’t, I wouldn’t believe you. This, this right here, is one of those dreams for me. A 5 star review from people who know stuff about books, with a picture of my cover on it.

BECAUSE HERE YOU GO FOLKS! THE COVER OF RUNNING HOME IS IN YOUR FILTHY LITTLE GRASPS RIGHT NOW!

Along with a review by @OpeningLine Literary ‘Zine that I am printing and having framed and shall make sweet love to whenever I want.

Running Home by Julie Hutchings 

5 Stars

Review by Frances Button

Running Home is a book that has been missing from my shelf for many years. A new release from author Julie Hutchings, it is an urban fantasy novel full of addictive charm, engaging, self-aware characters, and a well-researched, powerhouse plot. In truth, the recent craze of urban fantasy novels has largely passed me by, as those I have read have left me dissatisfied. This is not the case with this story. It may not be my typical genre, but Running Home is definitely my kind of book.

It tells the story of Eliza, a small town girl in backwoods New Hampshire. On the plus size of the clothes rack and the wrong side of twenty-five, her life is simple, steady, yet ultimately dull. A pragmatic girl with an unhappy history, Eliza accepts her lot in life, mainly because she’s afraid of losing the one thing she still has: her best friend, Kat. As unremarkable as Eliza thinks herself, she manages to catch the undivided attention of the local bookshop owner, Nicholas French, and their whirlwind not-quite-romance takes our girl’s life down an entirely different path.
Pithy, tongue-in-cheek and adventurous, Hutchings has woven a world you can believe in: a new way of seeing the ordinary. Her villain, Chris Lynch, is delightfully repulsive and I wouldn’t kick her Nicholas French out of bed for all the money in the world. Her protagonist, too, is my kind of girl.
It is rare for me to really connect with female protagonists but, with Eliza, it was effortless. I loved her snippy, self-deprecating remarks about how well she was taking the revelation that vampires existed. I loved that she sucked in her stomach the way woman (myself included) are wont to do when they’re in a dress that’s a shade too tight. I loved that she had a backbone, and that romance didn’t reduce her to a quivering wreck of helplessness. I loved her.
The magical blend of character sensibility and unique mythology sucks you into the world of Running Home and doesn’t release you from its thrall until the last page. Although, at times, the reader will be screaming for Eliza to take just one. more. step. in her assessment of her relationship with the creature-comfort-loving Nicholas, the book carries you on a fast-paced, believable journey of self-discovery and fantastical fates. When the Sophie’s Choice of endings reared its ugly head, I was genuinely worried as to how it could possibly resolve itself in the way I wanted it to.
This is a book that is pure fun and definitely worth your time. This is a book you will care about. This is a book you want to read.
While some might compare Running Home to another, well-known urban vampire fantasy franchise, for me, the choice is clear. Never a fan of the book-that-shall-not-be-named, I was reserved when picking up Hutchings’ latest work. I will never regret that I did. I honestly can’t remember a time when I’ve enjoyed a vampire novel so much. In my opinion,Running Home far exceeds its genre’s peers in imagination, quality of writing, character development and every other category you might hope to name.
I stayed up all night to finish it.

School Is In Session!

Today’s Brew: Ginger Ale.  I think I’m going to live.

by Kristen

The Internet.  It’s more than lunch pictures on Facebook and cat memes.  Why, it’s the home of this blog.

Beyond that, you can actually learn stuff!  The fabulous ladies at Pen and Muse are offering week long writing seminars to help you with getting your book out in the world, start to finish. Did I mention they’re free?  Because they are.  You literally have nothing to lose.

Here’s the lineup, brought to you by people who know what they’re talking about:

Week 1: Blogging 101 – August 5th – August 11th
Week 2: Starting a Novel – August 12th – August 18th
Week 3: Editing for Champions – August 19th – August 25th
Week 4: Marketing 101 – August 26th – September 1st

So sign up!  Here. Polish your craft and learn something new!

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