Deadly Ever After

Archive for the month “December, 2013”

Why I Love the Christmas Stuff You Hate

TODAY’S BREW: Chocolate Cappuccino and Christmas cookies because breakfast.

By Julie

I’m sooooo annoying. All those things people get irritated with at Christmas time, I LOVE THAT SHIT. I try and I guess I see why people get annoyed with the holidays, but honestly, I can’t get annoyed with them. We miss people at the holidays, of course. I wish my Dad (who I lost the week before Christmas at 16) was here to celebrate with us. He would have loved our family, and my kids would have been obsessed with him. There are plenty of people I miss dearly, but I’ve trained myself this way; those family members would be pissed off beyond words if I boo-hoo’ed about Christmas when they can’t be here to enjoy it themselves. They’d want me to appreciate everything I have, which is so much.

ENOUGH OF THAT.

These are the things that piss you off and make me giggle with glee. Glee giggling, if you will. I will tell you why.

  1. CROWDED MALLS. Appreciate that everyone at the mall is there for the exact same reason as you. For once, everyone is in this together. Have a sense of fucking community! Smile at the angry shoppers. They smile back, I swear to God. At a store the other day, where my kids ran around like jackasses, I had no fewer than 6 people tell me how nice it was to see us enjoying our kids, and one old woman said how nice it was to see someone happy. THIS SHOULD BE THE HAPPIEST FUCKING TIME OF YEAR. LOOSEN UP.
  2. ALL THE NOISE, NOISE, NOISE, NOISE! I have a crippling anxiety when surrounded with all things hot, bright and loud. And yet, Christmas parties at Tim’s Aunt Terri’s house, where you get all 3 in spades are one of my favorite things. I know what I’m getting with this Hutchings Family Event, so I have time to mentally prepare and remind myself that the weirdness and hilarity that will ensue is worth any amount of anxiety I could suffer. THIS IS ALL OF DECEMBER, FOLKS. Mentally prepare for it. And remember what you love about it, why you celebrate it at all.
  3. DEBT. Fuck it, it’s only money. You’ll make more.
  4. SO MUCH CHRISTMAS MUSIC, ALL DAY, EVERYWHERE YOU GO. People, singing “Santa Baby” is getting as old as the sexy cat costume at Halloween parties as far as Reasons To Be Slutty go, but screw it! Drink a shit ton of spiked cocoa and sing that whore song everywhere you go. Did I mention I drink before Christmas shopping? Me and the husband both do, and I do it with any friend I get to go with me, too. Hit the bar before you hit the mall, and every Christmas song hits you right in the heart as you buy those socks and underwear for Uncle Mike.
  5. TRAVEL. Hate holiday traveling? Don’t fucking go anywhere. Whether that be to your sister’s house down the street or on a bona fide plane trip, don’t go if you don’t want to. How hard was that? Oh, you have to? Go in your pajamas. I haven’t gone out on Christmas in Real Pants since Christmas was invented.
  6. WRAPPING PRESENTS UNTIL THE WEE HOURS. Get over yourself. Put on The Grinch, spike the coffee, spread your shit out all over the floor, eat all the chocolate, make a couple of prank phone calls, wrap like a fool, and then maybe have some kind of sexual encounter on the wrapping paper scraps. Suddenly, it doesn’t seem so bad with that prospect.
  7. DECORATING THE CHRISTMAS TREE. A) Make mimosas. B) Do it as you watch The Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show. C) Throw away ugly ornaments. D) Wear long sleeves so the branches don’t stab your arms off.
  8. MAILING CHRISTMAS CARDS.  It’s expensive, and time consuming, and so I don’t do it, generally. Does this make me suck? No one has ever told me so, therefore I assume I am okay and will still go to Heaven.
  9. IT’S COOOOOLD. Put a fucking sweater on. You knew all along it was going to get cold, Scroogey Motherfucker. Snow and cold are how you know it’s Christmas. Shut up about it. You complain when it’s hot, too. OH MY GOD, THERE’S WEATHER OUTSIDE. Yeah, don’t go out then. See how easy that was?
  10. IT’S ALL SO COMMERCIAL. This one is my favorite. Christmas is commercial. I LIKE IT. There’s a commercial for peppermint scented Angry Birds volleyball nets, and your kid HAS to have it, and he gets all giddy every time the commercial comes on. SO FUCKING GET IT, PAY AN EXORBITANT AMOUNT OF MONEY FOR IT, WATCH HIM ENJOY IT LONG ENOUGH FOR YOU TO TAKE THE PICTURE, LET HIM STEP ON IT TO GET TO THE NEXT PRESENT, PLAY WITH IT ONCE THAT YEAR, AND THEN DO IT ALL OVER AGAIN NEXT YEAR. Not everything has to have a fucking purpose and be used to its fullest extent. Sometimes it’s okay for your kids to get the thing that doesn’t matter just because they really want it and it’s your kid. CHRISTMAS IS THAT TIME. Make his half-assed wish come true. No kids? Buy that incredibly stupid thing that costs too much money for that friend who won’t get it for themselves. Buy them that thing YOU want, then keep it. IT’S OKAY, IT’S CHRISTMAS. Drink it off, fools! Commercialism is fun at Christmas. It’s part of the package. Enjoy the damn package. Stop overthinking it. Sure, the true meaning of Christmas isn’t about buying a cashmere sweater for your boss so she won’t fire you. But the meaning of Christmas isn’t about obsessing over the shit that you don’t like, either. Get over it. Embrace commercialism.

Again, I realize I may be annoying for loving all the things that piss you off, but once again, nobody has ever told me so. That makes me right. Have a wonderful Christmas whether you want to or not.

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Happy Book Birthday, SEASONS IN THE SUN!

Today’s brew: I will blow bubbles in my coffee and pretend it’s champagne.

by Kristen

Today SEASONS IN THE SUN comes out into the world. It seemed like just a month ago I was releasing my first book, Because the Night

Seasons in the Sun available 12.4.13

Seasons in the Sun available 12.4.13

Seasons in the Sun is the prequel to Because the Night.  It wasn’t part of the original plan. Hell, who am I kidding, there was no original plan. I just wanted to complete a book. I never thought it would snag me an agent, or become a thing. Seasons in the Sun came to life when I asked my friend Liz to read Because the Night. It was the first draft, and of course it was absolutely perfect and nothing like the version available to you today.  Liz was a tough critic.  She liked it, but she saw holes. It was the first real criticism I ever got and it was a reality check.

Her biggest beef? She just didn’t buy that Callie would be so hung up on Tristan that she’d go searching for him years later.

Oh yeah, Liz?  Instead of weaving some details into Because the Night, I wrote a prequel based on Callie and Tristan’s summer together.

Now she buys it.

So if you run into Liz Washer, makeup artist extraordinaire, somewhere in the wild, you can thank her for inspiring me to write Seasons in the Sun.

A little Night Songs Collection inside info for you.

All the titles are song titles. Seasons in the Sun  doesn’t have “night” in the name because there are no vampires.

BUY ON SMASHWORDS!  OR BUY Seasons in the Sun ON AMAZON! DON’T LET ME TELL YOU WHAT TO DO.

And here’s a little hot first chapter action:

My bike skidded into the alley beside the café.  I knew I was late.  I leaned it up against the building, pulled my damp braid away from my neck, and fanned out my shirt.

“Where have you been, Callie?  Your shift starts at nine.  No excuses.  I’m not going to treat you differently than anyone else on the staff.  It sets a bad example.” My mom was rolling out dough on the table. There was flour on her apron and in her hair. It had obviously been a busy morning. She barely looked up from her work as she acknowledged me.

I looked at the clock on the wall.  9:15. “Sorry.”  I mumbled as I grabbed my apron.  “Where do you want me today?”

Mom sighed, pausing for a minute to think strategy.  “Barista station.”

Not so bad. I figured she’d give me something I hated to punish me for being late. My mom ran a tight ship. The Magnolia Café was her dream in action and she wasn’t about to let anyone, including me, screw it up. But I loved making the coffee. It was what we were known for. I liked helping the island wake up.  The regular faces became more recognizable each day.

This was my first summer as an official employee.  I’d worked behind the scenes for years.  I was thrilled to be old enough to be a real part of the team. Even if it I was working for my mom, I wanted to make a good impression.

“Guess what?  I met the twins.”

“What are you talking about?”

“Caroline’s niece and nephew.  Taryn and Tristan.”  We rented the guest house on Caroline’s sprawling property.  I’d been hearing stories about Caroline’s family my whole life.  Her sister was a model, married to a movie star.  Did it get any more glamorous than that?

“Oh.”  Recall was written all over her face.  My mother found Caroline’s family less impressive than I did.  We didn’t even have a TV in the house, that’s how much she cared about Hollywood. “Were their parents there as well?”

“I don’t know.  I just saw the twins.”

“Did Caroline say anything about the party?”

“What party?”  I had no idea what my mother was talking about.

“Never mind.  She wouldn’t say anything to you, anyway.” I felt like a little kid for the second time this morning.

I headed out front to relieve Olga, the early morning barista.  Keisha, my cousin, was tidying up behind the counter and restocking the muffins and bagels. She came every summer from Jamaica to work with us at the Magnolia.

“What’s going on, girl?  You’re late.”  She hip checked me playfully as I walked passed her to the coffee station.

“So I hear.  Good morning to you, too.”

“Ha!  You were fired, you know.”

“Yeah I’m sure.”  Where else was my mother going to find such willing, well trained, underpaid labor?

“You missed the hot Australian dude.  That man can eat his croissant in my bed any day….”

I giggled and swatted at Keisha. “Oh!  That reminds me.  I met the twins.”

“What twins?”

Apparently I was the only person who was excited about this.  I was starting to feel a little foolish telling everyone so enthusiastically about my meeting.  “Caroline’s niece and nephew.  Tristan and Taryn.  From California.”

“Oooooh, the movie star kids.”  Now I had Keisha’s attention.

“Yes.”

“Tell me all about them.”

“I don’t know, it was quick.  We didn’t say much.  But Tristan is really good looking.”

“Oh yeah?  How old are they?”

“Gosh, I don’t know…Caroline said they weren’t much older than me, but they looked like they were about twenty five.”

“All those famous people have botox and nose jobs and boob jobs…did the girl have a boob job?”

“I didn’t know I was supposed to check out her chest for you.”

“God, I’d love a boob job.  Instead I got a big ass.  So how good looking are you talking?”

I blushed a little bit as I started making a nonfat caramel latte for Janis, one of the regulars.  “Really good looking.  Like I didn’t know it was possible to be that good looking.”

I could still feel where Tristan squeezed my hand while he looked me right in the eyes, making my knees knock.  I could still smell the spiciness of his cologne.

“He must be gay then.”  I was a little mortified by that.  I shot a quick look at Janis, who was smirking at our conversation.  I added her extra whipped cream before she even asked.

“What?”

“Anyone from California who’s that good looking has got to be gay, girl.  Get used to it.”

“How many people have you met from California?”

“None.  But I know.  I read Perez Hilton.”

Who? “Is he on NPR? Because that’s all I ever get to listen to and you know it.” My mom ran a tight ship at home too. We didn’t have cable and I got homeschooled. My pop culture knowledge was embarrassingly nonexistent.

“Oh yeah, I forgot I was back in the stone ages for a minute.” Keisha rolled her eyes. “I’m just saying, that’s how it is.”

It was just easier to agree with her. “Whatever. He didn’t seem gay.  Not like I’d know if he was anyway.  But I don’t think so.”

“I guess between the two of us, we’ll find out, right?”

Eliza and the Bethlem Royal Hospital: Julie Gets Choked Up

TODAY’S BREW: Something from Costa Rica. Or Target.

By Julie

THERE IS A BIT OF A RUNNING AWAY  SPOILER IN HERE. IF YOU ARE AFRAID, TURN BACK NOW.

I’m hot and heavy into the sequel to RUNNING HOME, and RUNNING AWAY has become a part of me. Eliza has grown, transformed, and her new life has been forged in a lot of suffering. When writing this book, I needed to pay close attention to keeping the tone and themes of it as dark and complex as Eliza has become, so when I wrote the scene of her first feeding as one of the Shinigami vampires, I needed to make it more than just a bloodfest. Embracing a little darkness when writing a vampire scene isn’t always hard, but keeping it a thing of beauty and depth without any form of eroticism is a bit more difficult. It needed to be significant, symbolic. The first feeding needed to carry a lot of the tone of the book, and so I took my sweet ass time working on it.

I knew where I wanted her first feeding to occur, and there is plenty of reason for it which I won’t be so cruel as to divulge to you now. It had to be a place that had patched-over horror, hidden ugliness in plain sight. It needed to be dank, riddled with ghosts, melancholy and be the variety of dirty that can’t be cleaned. And I wanted a pinnacle of light and glistening freshness in the middle of it that couldn’t escape her fate, no matter how brightly she glowed in its dimness.

http://stlawrencesbodmin.files.wordpress.com/2013/10/kitchen.jpg

Inspiration for my Bethlem Royal Hospital scene. The Kitchen. http://stlawrencesbodmin.files.wordpress.com/2013/10/kitchen.jpg

I was so disturbed by the research I did on the Bethlem Royal Hospital of London (http://wp.me/p2x7oj-j7 ) for our March Madness blog series last year that it never left my thoughts. I wanted to do more to commemorate what had happened there, to show my respect for this terrible piece of history the best way I knew how; to write about it. When the idea hit me to make it the scene of Eliza’s first feeding, it worked itself in so perfectly that I breathed a mental sigh of relief to write it. Now that it’s done, and the end of the book is just a series of falling dominoes, my pride in this scene is a little overwhelming. I mean, I’m kind of a jerk about it in my head. I love this scene and all the subtext to it, the meaning it has for all the characters–I just can’t wait to share it.

This Flash Fiction Friday, I’ll let you see it. I’m desperate to share it, and also entirely horrified about letting go of it. It still feels so much a part of me, entrenched in me. But I promise to loosen the grip, and give you some of this scene come Friday. Unless you don’t want me to. Then say so and I shall cling to it like a tiny life preserver for a while longer.

I Said The Wrong Thing (and a giveaway!)

Today’s brew: Lime seltzer. I’m going to Las Vegas in 18 days. I need to lay off the bread and the beer if I expect to look cute in my party clothes.

by Kristen

Write what you know. It’s the most common advice people give writers.  It’s a security blanket for new writers. While we’re working on our pacing, plot, and conflict, we don’t have to worry about researching details about character traits.  It’s why Julie’s Nicholas practices Karate, and her book is set in New Hampshire.  It’s why I wrote about rock stars and reality shows, and set my books in Las Vegas in Massachusetts.  We know these things inside and out. We can incorporate insider details to make the characters and setting feel authentic.

But what happens when things you know are considered opinions by other people?

Because the Night had many beta readers, rounds of edits, and early readers.  As it was in production to go live, a reviewer pointed out that the way I referred to Callie’s hair and skin color might be considered offensive to some readers.

Oh. My. God.

In cosmetology school, we were taught to use food references when talking about hair color. How many times have you gone to get your hair done and not get what you ask for? Well, everyone knows food. It’s an easy way to communicate what you want. Butter and caramel are two totally different colors, and shades of highlight. Callie is biracial, and she has unusual coloring. It seemed natural to refer to these in my go to food terms, so everyone would know exactly what I pictured her to look like.  Apparently, that’s not politically correct.

*please pause while Kristen dies a little inside*

So one faux pas. We’re all allowed that, right? Well, I did it again.  In Seasons in the Sun, a huge gala that takes place. The book is set on Martha’s Vineyard, in super liberal Massachusetts. To me, it seemed natural to make it a fundraiser for President Obama, since his family vacations on the island every year. It wasn’t meant to be a political statement at all.  For the ending to make sense, I needed an over the top event. Unless aliens landed on the island, the President was as big as I could get.

Well, I underestimated people’s strong feelings about Mr. President.  Some people thought it was a political statement.

*Kristen dies a little more*

I know the place for my opinions is not in my books. Even though the main characters could care less about the political implications, the secondary characters do. This isn’t a post about not having opinions. We should all have strong opinions, and we should be able to respect each other’s differences. I just never thought I’d ruffle feathers that way in my romance novels.

I’m giving away my politically incorrect novels! And lip gloss. Because if you’re going to put your foot in your mouth, you should be properly glossed.  Click below and win stuff!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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