Deadly Ever After

Archive for the month “September, 2013”

New Adult: Mall Edition

Today’s Brew:  Blueberry Angel Dew

by Kristen

In hell, I’ll have to work at the mall.

In my former life, I was a retail manager. That’s the dignified way to say I worked full time at the mall.  The jobs themselves were soul sucking and not rewarding.  But I loved a lot of the people I worked with.  Many of them I’m still friends with.  I met my godson’s mother working at Piercing Pagoda in 2001.  I’m going to be a bridesmaid in my old manager’s wedding next spring.

Very few people say “I want to work at the mall full time when I grow up!”  So for many people, it was a stop along the way, to get to the next place.  Many of the people I worked with would be considered new adults, age wise they fit, and they were trying to figure out who they were.  Most of the time I worked at the mall, I was deep in the ‘burbs, so we didn’t have a lot of serious college students like we did at city stores.  The ones who studied to be doctors and scientists always fascinated me, because of the work and dedication that went in to it. I couldn’t commit to anything so completely at that age, which is how I wound up working at the mall.  Because of that, the coworkers I felt the closest to were the ones who weren’t making the best decisions.  Or the ones who couldn’t follow the “high school college marriage” path because their childhoods hadn’t set them up for that kind of success. They had to do the best with what they had to work with.

One girl’s parents didn’t have their shit together enough to take care of her.  She had to move in with her boyfriend when she was 18.  Later, another boyfriend got her pregnant, and she had to live with his family for years after the baby was born, even though they broke up when she was still pregnant, because she simply couldn’t afford to live anywhere else. God, that guy was such a shithead. Another girl’s mother was murdered when she was in High School. She was beaten to death by her drunk boyfriend. Later, her brother was also murdered.  She really wanted to be a makeup artist and work fashion shows in New York, but instead she wound up marrying her first boyfriend and working in a local salon.  On a brighter note, another girl worked in restaurants and stores until she was in her late twenties, and now is going for her doctorate in her mid thirties.

I cringed when I watched them make the same mistakes I had made, and cheered them on in their successes.  Sometimes, you have to lose everything to find out how strong you really are.

I don’t want to write about people who have everything.  I don’t know those people. These are the people I know.  It killed me to watch these girls screw things up and squander great opportunities.  That’s life. But they all came out OK. And they’re striving for better.

My mall coworkers and I used read. A lot. We actually had a little book club going, and wound spend hours talking about books.  We read Laurell K. Hamilton, Charlaine Harris, and of course Stephenie Meyer among others.

I’ve participated in a lot of New Adult chats and many of them talk about college students. Not everyone goes to college. It’s just not realistic. If you want to talk about coming of age and making hard decisions on your own, the best place to look is at The School Of Hard Knocks.  Or your local mall.

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My Dumb Sick Day

TODAY’S BREW: Water. I am feeling a little punched in the face today.

By Julie

Today, I feel like crap. I think this soul-sucking tetanus shot that I was due for did it to me. Let me give you a brief overview. I go to the doctor for an innocent little physical. Moments later, I’m having blood drawn, being jabbed mercilessly with a needle while the tech tells me it’s coming out really slow, until I get really light headed and start hurking into the trash can while saying how embarassed I am and eating tiny peppermint patties for comfort/nourishment/condolences. WHATEVER, STUPID SHOT, IT’S YOUR FAULT, YOU HAPPENED FIRST.

These are the things I want for my sick day that isn’t even really a sick day but I feel like crap and even napped, so here, indulge me because I came home with clothes in a biohazard bag from the doctor’s office today, and that’s real.

1.  A hot water bottle like old people use

2.  A Twilight movie marathon. No joke, I want that.

3.  To never move from under this fuzzy orange blanket.

4.  Someone to rub my feet and tell me I’m a pretty, pretty princess.

5.  One and one half gallons of Earl Grey tea.

6.  A Sears Christmas catalog to leaf through. Not the new one which is a glorified pamphlet. The old one, the one that mattered. The Wish Book.

7.  After the Twilight marathon, The Golden Girls.

8.  Six naps.

9.  A bunch of people to go buy J.C. Michael’s Discoredia right here http://t.co/UZXLvCqGcD

There is no number ten. I’m not greedy, just wanty.

Taking donations of above items now.

How To Not Be A Starving Artist

Today’s Brew: I feel like I should just go sit in a tub of coffee.

by Kristen

On occasion, Ramen Noodles are a tasty treat. But they are nothing short of depressing when they become a staple in your diet.

Life is short and you absolutely need to spend it doing things you love.  That includes work.  But life is also expensive, so you need to make some money doing those things you love.

My real job is being a makeup artist.  I work on feature films, commercials, TV shows, and weddings.  Making a living doing makeup is almost as much as a long shot as making a living writing, especially when you live in suburban Massachusetts. I notice a lot of parallels in the two careers.  I also notice a lot of people in the trenches of both the makeup and writing camps getting frustrated they haven’t “made” it yet.  Here is what I have learned in seven years as a working freelance artist.  Warning: there’s a healthy dose of reality coming.

You’re going to work for free a lot in the beginning. It’s exhausting and people are going to keep asking you “when are you going to get paid for this” until you’re embarrassed about it.  If you think you’re going to start a creative career simply by making a declaration and snapping your fingers, you’re just the cutest little thing I’ve ever seen. And delusional as all get out.  You need a portfolio, a body of work that people judge you by. And your early stuff, yeah, it sucks. You need to practice in real life scenarios and work out all the kinks.  One of my friends summed it so well: building your portfolio is like an internship. You don’t get paid, but you get a ton of experience and meet a lot of people.

You got paid! Yeah. Don’t quit your day job. It takes a while to get the ball rolling.  Longer if you have a full time job, kids, etc.  In the beginning, paying gigs are few and far between.  You need to know that you can survive at the standard you live already at doing your creative endeavor before you get all starry eyed about giving notice. Art isn’t a 9 to 5 job. There’s no paycheck fairy that delivers without fail every two weeks. And even if you do get a regular paycheck, there’s no way to guarantee how much you’re getting. You need to save up. There will be lean times in the beginning. Learn the  meaning of the word budget, and learn to love it. I worked at Supercuts and Piercing Pagoda when I started makeup freelancing. Three jobs. I was exhausted and frustrated, and I didn’t want to do either of those two jobs anymore, but I had to. I held on to the Pagoda because they worked with my freelancing schedule (oh yeah, you never know when the work fairy is going to call, either).  I left movie set of major feature films to go close the god damned Piercing Pagoda.  Because I could depend on that job, when I couldn’t depend on makeup work.  I kept that job for 5 years into my makeup career.

You think you made it? Keep working. You’re only as good as your last job, or more importantly, your worst job. People might buy your books like hotcakes on release day, but will you be raking in that income eight months from now? Eight years from now? How are you going to make that momentum last?  When someone told my mom that I was “so lucky” to work as a makeup artist, she said, “She’s not lucky. She works her ass off. She’s up at 3 AM for work, she’s always networking. Luck has nothing to do with it.” Truer words never spoken.

Say yes to everything. You don’t know where it’s going to lead.  I got a call 4 hours before a job to please come work on a movie. I almost didn’t go. It was an overnight, 60 miles away, and I was scheduled to close the Pagoda. I went. It was the job that changed my career.

Sick days, vacation….oh, you’re funny. All time off is unpaid time off.   And insurance, that’s totally your responsibility now.

You are never less your own boss than when you are your own boss. You rely on people to buy your product, be it your book or your skill. They aren’t going to wait until you feel like doing work, or when it’s convenient. You do it when they want. There is no time clock. You work until you’re done.  I often work 14 hours on a makeup job, come home and dive into writing until I can’t see straight. It’s not easy, but I love it. And I never want to have a “real” job again. God bless you, cubicle warriors. God. Bless. You.

If you’re in the trenches, keep working your ass off. It can happen. None of this is meant to discourage anyone. I hope it encourages people to see hard work pays off. This is how I did it.

 

Paranormal Week; A List of Paranormal Must Reads and a CONTEST

AWESOME CONTEST AND YOU CAN WIN RUNNING HOME SO GO GO GO GO

Gabi Daniels

New folder

This week was full of giveaways.

But your free ride has come to an end, my friends…

Are you a fan of Paranormal novels?

Yes?

*snorts*

PROVE IT!

NAME THAT BOOK CONTEST

List your answers in the comments below. Listed by number.

OR, click on this link.

                                                                                                      a Rafflecopter giveaway

THIS CONTEST IS INTERNATIONAL, FOLKS!

You don’t have to get them all right to enter. I will give you a hint: ALL quotes and scenes can be found in the books listed below. Not much of a hint, but it’s a start.

PRIZES

Winner will be picked at random.

Any ebook of your choice under $10.00

PLUS ebook copies of

Running Home by Julie Hutchings

Incendiary by Amy Bartol (or an IOU from me for Iniquity, your choice)

I’m super competitive. And I have to say… I’m not sure anyone will be able to get all 9 right. 😉

Let…

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BECAUSE THE NIGHT Cover Reveal

Today’s Brew: Harpoon Cider

by Kristen

I am so pleased to share this with you!

BTNweb

Please add Because The Night on Goodreads!  

Paranormal Week; Who Is Your Hero?

Music is very close to me when I write, and I LOVE Gabi’s take on Nicholas and his relationship with Ellie. This song is amazing for them and RUNNING HOME.

Gabi Daniels

WHO IS YOUR MAN??

I have a few…

If you have a man that wasn’t in this post, tell us about him. I tapped into my inner teenager in this post and dedicated songs. If you’ve got a song you’d like to share, please do!

Please see this post from yesterday on Sean & Cooper from the Caged series. I gave them their own post because unlike the rest on this list here– I had never talked about them before.

Aiden St. Delphi

From the Covenant Series by Jennifer L. Armentrout

aiden

Aiden is a Pure– meaning Pure Blood descended from the Gods. He is also a lethally trained Sentinel and sworn to protect the Pures, Half-Bloods (half-Pure, half-human), and humans from our world’s secret problem; Daimons

Our Aiden lives and breaths Sentinel. He follows the laws of the Covenants. He will stop at nothing to ensure those laws are not…

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Flash Fiction Friday: PLANCHETTE by Meghan Schuler

TODAY’S BREW: Caramel Apple Coffee and it is as good as it sounds

By Julie

IT’S FLASH FICTION FRIDAY! And I have to say, I’m pretty psyched out of my mind for today’s story, because Meghan is a writer in a league of her own. This girl’s imagery and jarring vision just cut me to the core, and I love it and her. Without further ado, read Planchette.
Then, completely smitten with her like I am, follow her here:

Free Reads: glitterandkerosene.com/shortstories/

Twitter: @1girlvaudeville

YouTube: glitterandkerosene

PLANCHETTE

A single printed word:

hello.

Five tiny, whispered letters, the ghost of a lonely breath.

His hands hovered over the keys, round buttons still shining after years of use. The paper wound through the bar stared blankly white at him, clearly new, but the word felt old with an age that reached in and plucked something from his soul. The tiny slip of paper hooked to his beloved bore a price he could not pay. He turned his hand, stroking the metal carriage and let his fingers light on the keys.

hello.

He hesitated, fearing the weight of his hands, afraid to mar that delicate page, though it was hardly perfect. He gently pressed the keys, one by one.

hello.

how i have missed you.

He stared at the page, covered now in black and red, irrevocable ink spelling out nonsense. He knew which message had been left for him alone, isolated. His heart shuddered.

what is your name?

emmaline.

The name laced through his blood, instantly entwined with his heart. These absences were toxic. He longed for her so much it felt like illness, voodoo needles in his brain and limbs. Contact was the balm he craved and he reached for her, though she wasn’t there. Emmaline.

i am deeply in love with you.

where have you gone?

The words burned. His weekly pilgrimage had ceased its frequency, and now his return brought shame into his bones, rotting, corrosive. He could hear the sorrow, the anger, the pain. It seared his eyes and lungs. The words barely came, pleading.

forgive me. we shall part only once more.

His heart could not pump harder without bursting. He ran to her, finally able to take her away.

She was not there.

The fierce pace of his blood plummeted, knees suddenly unstable. In a nauseous wave he hit the floor, illness and needles breaking flesh. The lack of blood upon his clothes, upon the floor were unrealities, a wrongness he could not correct.

He scrambled up, shaking, tore through the shrinking rooms and raced over narrow flights of stairs. A flash of green in the corner of his eye, a young woman bent over a table in the darkest corner. He scrambled back.

In the shadows and dust she appeared, and he nearly collapsed again, her words printed just for him.

it is so very dark in here.

The message could hardly be seen, through gloom and more ink carelessly left on his missive. He turned the barrel, seeking a clean place for his words, no longer able to reply directly. He turned the page but found more of the same, the black and red smears that did not belong.

At last.

He rolled the page into place and gathered her things.

you will be safe now, i swear to you, my love.

He left alone, needles twisting deeper.

Someone had torn out her heart in his absence, ribbons of red and black ink left tangled against her carriage. Sorrow burrowed deep in his chest. He rewound her, fitted her together and sealed her back up. If there had been a message, it was lost, the page no longer pressed in her grasp. He gathered her things again, gently closed the black box around her. He would take her away from this darkness and dust. He lifted her, but set her down again when the page slipped free. He held it delicately between his fingers.

why have you not returned?

He stroked her shell and held her close. He carried her through the dark and forgotten rooms. He didn’t care who had abused her. She would be safe. She would be his.

He was denied.

we are forever kept apart.

He felt the burning deeper now, eating away at his bones and his sinew, stripping him down. Time poured out and he could not collect it fast enough.

this is our fate, my love. will this be enough?

The words were printed on the paper bar, barely visible.

no. i want you, always.

Choking pain. He would never have her, though still he sat beside her, longing to hold her in his lap and run his fingers across her keys.

i remain deeply in love with you, but i fear for us. they will not let you go.

A girl stood on his patch of threadbare carpet. She gazed at his beloved with a look he knew all too well; for the last of this eternity he’d worn it as his own. Her fingers pushed the bar back into place. She straightened, her hair brown and dull and cut short, bobbed above her shoulders. Her dress pulsed black, part of the gloom and in contrast with her skin. She was too white.

He watched her from the threshold, jealousy surging in his veins. She moved away. He stared at her retreating form and sought his message.

then take me by force.

A blush flared in his cheeks. She must have read his words, this beckoning meant for him alone. He sickened, removed and turn the scrap, now thoroughly saturated, their words overrun by words not theirs. Other declarations that did not belong.

He set his words atop hers.

it shall be done as you wish.

He hid. The back door would be his best bet and he crouched in the confines of an old chifferobe. The wood creaked as he stepped out, the building dark, and stole her away.

The messages stopped. He paced, waiting, longing, but no reply came. New sheets stayed blank, the old one bore no new marks. His heart shattered at every misheard click of keys.

He turned away, eyes burning with tears. The typewriter’s bell chimed. He turned again.

A girl, head tilted, hair a curtain brushing her shoulder, looked over at him. He felt a stirring in his soul. Old and familiar. Aged and ageless as the ghost at his machine. His blood flowed, painfully slow.

A single word, a whisper, a click.

hello.

Click.

emmaline.

Riding The Waves Of Feedback…And Nausea.

Today’s Brew: Caramel Apple Something or other.

by Kristen

The first advance copies of Because The Night are in the hands of my street team and reviewers.  Many people have read this book before, but having it out there, almost for real, is nothing short of terrifying.  Every time someone says they’re reading it, my stomach twists up and I forget to breathe for a second.  It’s like that dream when you show up to high school without your clothes on.

 

This isn’t just any book I’ve asked for an opinion and a review on, it’s mine.  They are the characters I created and nurtured.  It’s the story I wrote.  In short, they’re judging my imagination. Kind of what makes me, well, me.

Next month, I’m the featured author in Opening Line. Unless they decide my book is an unpromotable piece of slop and rescind their offer.  They’re reading it now.  And live tweeting it. A literary magazine.  Nothing to see here, move along.

A street team member tweeted that he loaded his kindle with “Kristen Strassel and Stephen King.” IN THE SAME SENTENCE. He said that.  How can I compare to the God forsaken master?

Most of the feedback I’ve had so far has been very positive, and I love everyone who has enjoyed it.  The thing that’s the most surprising is how strongly people feel about the male lead characters.

Some are very strongly into Blade.

Blade (Christopher Brown)

 

And others enjoy Tristan.

Totally Tristan.

 

I always worry when someone expresses a strong preference in one of the other, because I know how the story turns out and I wonder how each camp will feel about the ending.  At first, I was upset if someone really liked one of the guys and disliked the other, but then I realized that the party lines were splitting kind of evenly. That’s cool!  You guys are good!  Now we have something to talk about.

There’s nothing that can prepare you for this.  It’s strange and scary and the coolest thing ever.

I should buy stock in antacid before release day.

Paranormal Week; Interview With A Vampire

The most innovative and entertaining character interview ever and a great giveaway for RUNNING HOME and a bunch of other books!!!

Gabi Daniels

RDJ

His name is Nicholas French

and I want him to suck my blood you are about to add him to

your all-time favorite book boyfriends list!

He’s at the TOP OF MINE!

???????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????   His eyes were the warmest shade of brown, like melted dark chocolate, swirls of caramel throughout… They looked so intently into my own, I felt bare. Until I heard that voice, that rich, husky, velvet voice speaking to me, thank God to me. Wait, to me?” — Ellie

Running Home by Julie Hutchings

I am so excited to sit down with Nicholas French, Shinigami ( badass vampire) for an interview.

Nicholas French  opens the front door of his cabin and before I can swoon, the scent of baking brownies hits me. I close my eyes and take it in, repeatedly sniffing the air, wondering how it is possible that I am able to smell all his delicious… am…

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Shutting The Hell Up

TODAY’S BREW: Pumpkin Spice Lattes. Because everyone deserves something nice.

By Julie

I’ve had a fucker of a few days. This happens to me a lot, and when I see it, I laugh because I know that it’s just fate having its dirty way with me, and it always goes away quickly. I’ll have a 3 to 5 day stint of small, unrelated catastrophes that are just big enough to screw with me. Some highlights:

1.  A goat at the prison farm ran at me and headbutted me in the thumb, and wow, did it hurt.

2.  My showerhead broke. And it was a good one.

3.  The 3 year old ripped the wiper off the back windshield of the car in a rage. THESE are the kind of rages he has, and it lasted for days.

4.  Walmart processed my order wrong, taking $65 I didn’t really have from the wrong place.

5.  There were doctor things. Leave it at that.

6.  The cherry on top: I dropped my brand new iPhone in a cup of coffee.

The phone thing really threw me over the edge. The only reason I had such a nice phone was out of necessity because my husband left his crappy phone in the rain. So we got upgraded because it had been so long since we got new phones.

It was like, THE nice, new thing I have, and no, I’m not getting a new one because we can’t afford it.

I don’t really care about stuff. I don’t like expensive purses, or super pricey shoes. I don’t get manicures or pedicures, or buy new clothes, like ever. My car has stickers stuck all over the windows from the kids. My bedroom has been taken over by the kids. My 12 year old purse broke a month ago, and I don’t get a new one. The hose in my sink doesn’t work, the bathtub is falling apart, my laptop works when it wants to. Everything we own is half broken, or is some hobo castoff thing. And you know what? Every once in a while, it pisses me the fuck off.

I left my job 3 years ago, and it was still the best choice I ever made. When we have these week to week paycheck moments, which is every week, I feel bad about it for a while, but then I remember…. when I worked full time, I still didn’t have nice things! The hose in the sink was broken then, too! We still had a crappy car! My bedroom was still a romper room! I didn’t even have a laptop until a year and a half ago, and having a cell phone was a necessity because I was pregnant and driving 40 miles a day back and forth to work.

We aren’t Nice Things People. But we love each other, and even if we want to kill each other at times, we have each other all the time.

Today is 9/11. And there are people that will never see their husbands, wives, kids and friends again because of what happened on this day. Some of those people we lost probably woke up and were pissed that they didn’t have enough money, or that they had a shitty phone, or something like that, but at the end of that day it didn’t matter, did it? And that may be a nasty thing to say, but Jesus Christ, it’s true, right?

While I’m a big proponent of feel how you feel and fuck ’em if they don’t like it, sometimes you need to slap yourself in the face and say shut the crap up. Right now there are people who can’t afford to feed their kids. That’s a thing happening right now. And yes, all problems are relative, but nothing trumps that one for me.

Moral of the story: I am a better person than this. I am better than moaning about my technical devices. I’m living the dream, writing and staying home with my babies for a living. Seeing my husband every single night, and off and on all day. It’s all I ever wanted.

Even if I can’t call a person and tell them how happy it makes me, I still have those people, and that’s what makes the day worthwhile.

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