Deadly Ever After

Archive for the month “February, 2014”

Fighting For Unsuckitude: Editing

TODAY’S BREW: Mocha mint and probably beer.

By Julie

Editing RUNNING AWAY looks like this:

That’s me, in the middle, with the glasses.

I LOVE THIS PART. Right now I’m in the phase where I dig through my Terrifying Binder for bits that didn’t make it into the first draft that I think still have relevance. Before that I went through my notes from hearing Donald Maass speak with Kristen at Backspace Writer’s Convention during Hurricane Sandy last year. And I found this:


When I first started to write RUNNING HOME, Nicholas was fated to be Eliza’s creator, her Shugotenshi. That was the extent of their bond. I wanted it to have an intimacy, but not be just your happy go lucky love story. So I darkened it up, and I made their story as complex and questionable as it should be. Think about what he’s telling her, what his appearance in her life means to who she is and what’s happened in her life. (Trying not to spoil it for anyone who hasn’t read. But it’s happening.) So, I did this:


  1. Shinigami have scents that tailor especially to the victim or person they’re trying to lure in. Nicholas’s becomes a scent of comfort, home, being with people who love you. Appeals to the thing she wants most and never has.
  2. Ellie is never sure if Nicholas really cares for her, or if he just has a duty to her.
  3. The Shinigami have their classic vampire thrall that even they don’t realize they’re using, and Ellie may just be a victim of it and not be in love with Nicholas at all. She questions it.

After making this list, I found myself questioning things about how Nicholas felt, too. Naturally, he would wonder if Eliza was actually in love with him, or if she was just under a sort of spell that he himself placed on her unwittingly. He’d wonder if he was feeling love for her, or if he was just feeling the draw between vampire and their fated offspring, their unmei fumetsu. There should be as much insecurity on his behalf as on hers, no matter how much of an egotistical thing he can be.

Apparently I'm volatile, self-obsessed, don't play well with others.

Apparently I’m volatile, self-obsessed, don’t play well with others.

The great thing about editing for character development is seeing the domino effect of what one little change can make. (It’s how I realized I wanted to start Editing For Cash, also known as Undeaditing.) How would the feelings of both the characters affect what happens next? What will these feelings make them do? (Remember, characters make the action happen, the action doesn’t happen to the characters.) And the most fun; how can I make it worse?

So, for those of you in Editing Land, give this a try, and for the love of Jesus, read one of Donald Maass’s books. First, read all of Chuck Wendig’s blog at THEN read the Maass book. Prepare for this edit like you’re going into battle. Fight for the Unsuckitude of your book. Believe in it with unconditional love. Give it the A at the start of the class, and make it earn the A. Delve into all the aspects of your plot and characters and think of 3 more ways you can make it more intense.



I’m Watching the Olympics!

Today’s Brew: Cup #3 of coffee. I’ve already met a nice gentleman today who’s going to fix my teeth in exchange for all my money. Hurk.

by Kristen

Yeah, I know, if I was cool I’d be boycotting the Olympics. Russia is stupid about human rights, and they couldn’t get their shit together to build a proper Olympic village without dangerous face water, and the weather is too warm and the tracks are all screwed up. Everyone’s bitching, no one’s happy, the coverage sucks, and the press is looking for for human interest stories to make us care, or as they call it, “story lines.”

Screw all of that.  I’m watching it for the athletes.

Imagine, if you will, that you’ve been training your whole life for something. Dedicating every day to be the absolute best at what you do. You spend tons of money, sacrifice free time and “fun” to train. And now, you have your chance to shine.

And no one watches. It’s fucking tragic. When they started their journey, they didn’t know they were going to go to bass akwards Russia. They just wanted to compete. For them, it’s not about the politics or the media. It’s about the sport.

If you’re one of the writer types reading this post, imagine spending years on your book. Blood, sweat, and tears. Money to promote. And it comes out in the wrong place at the wrong time, so no one buys it to make a statement that has nothing to do with you.

Or, more simply, you put out a book and no one cares. Beside you, of course. You care a lot.

So I care. And I’m enjoying watching it. Especially the snowboarders.

Snowboarders are hot. I don’t think we really need to elaborate on that. A bunch of ski bum dudes with rockin’ bodies. Sign me up for that. But on top of that, I think of the Olympics as this stuffy, government run thing with a lot of RULES and regulations. Snowboarders don’t really care about that. They’re like the punk rockers hanging out at school. They don’t care about fitting in, they make up their own language, they do their own thing. And they’re hot.






Cutting The Crap: How to Make the Most of Your Time

TODAY’S BREW: Mocha mint something or other that smells like a goddamn Thin Mint and makes me cry with joy.

By Julie

For 10 years I was a panty peddler. One of my jobs as Upper Tier Panty Peddler was my weekly office day. Monday. And holy Christ, you cannot imagine how much there is to do behind the scenes of panty peddling. My office day started at 8 and ended around 6 or 7 with nary a meal or break to be seen, and work still to be done. What it makes me do is assess my time in a very clinical manner. Let me tell you how, because anybody can do this for whatever your form of panty peddling is. These days, it’s going to work for my writing, blogging, and doing developmental editing for cash.


What I did to get my office days under control was this. Open up the notebook. Write down every goddamn thing you do all day. Better yet, get index cards, title them with the the stuff you spend your time on. TWITTER, WRITING NEW WORDS, EDITING, WATCHING TV, PLAYING WITH KIDS, READING, PLAYING GAMES, TEXTING, etc…. and you’ll see quickly which cards fill up the fastest and which are left completely blank.

As Chief Panty Peddler, my notebook would look something like this:

8:00-8:15 supposed to be management meeting but is actually me watching co-workers wake up.

8:15-9:30 management meeting which is actually me talking for sooooooo looooooooong

9:30 starts the schedule! I OPENED THE SCHEDULE!

9:45 takes first phone call from another manager who hates office days

10:00 makes sure doors are open even though I’m in sweatpants and it’s not my job today and the only way I can make sure it’s not my job that day is by wearing inappropriate sweatpants but I do it anyway.

10:10 still on salesfloor dicking around with numbers

10:15 needs the coffee


10:22 takes phone call

10:30 tells all the incoming employees how happy I am to see them. Listens to sob stories forever.


11:15 Is proud of self for a half an hour of work that I’m supposed to do. Answers shipment door. DEALS WITH SHIPMENT FOREVER.


12:05 does 10 incline pushups in tiny office to stay awake during conference call

12:30 speaks on conference  call like I haven’t been texting another manager about how bad this conference call is.

1:00 says “fuck this” and opens schedule again

1:15 gets phone call from another manager about how bad that conference call was

1:20 gets phone call from boss asking how bad that conference call was.

1:30 seethes.

You get the idea. It was actually a lot more in depth than this, and I realized how scattered my days were, how much time I really spent in bits and pieces doing things that didn’t work toward my goal, and I realized that some things had to go entirely.

These days, it’s going to look a lot more like how many minutes I actually spend on Twitter. Right down to the minute. Who I’m talking to. How many minutes I spend making meals, getting snacks, getting drinks for growing boys. How much writing I’m doing as opposed to re-reading. How many times I check e-mail, text, take phone calls. What time I stop writing my book and start Editing For Cash. How much time I spend planning side projects, doing interviews, writing guest posts.

Because working at home, man alive do your days get away from you. It’s noon and showering is nowhere on the horizon. You have not worn actual pants in several days. You have made 6 meals but not eaten one. You’ve given probably 2 hours worth of unpaid for advice while taking away from the work you’re doing. You may be answering one line emails all day, but when you record the minutes that you do so, what that does to your concentration, and how many times you say after, “now’s a good time to make a cup of coffee” I bet you’ll find that those emails add up to about 4 hours in a day, and your book is getting only 2 strong hours of attention. And by you, I mean me. But you’ll have something like this, too. You may find that you’re spending 4 hours on email and Twitter, and 3 hours playing with your kids. Or no hours playing with your kids.

So, I tell you guys. Give this plan a try. I haven’t done it since I eneded my career as Panty Peddler, and look forward to getting a grasp of my day doing it now, so I can give all the attention to the things that matter most. This is where being militant works out. Because in a week when you do this little time log again, you’ll be able to see the changes you made, how much more focused you are, and how much YOU GET DONE.

Inspirational/militant speech over. Now get to work.



Today’s brew: Blueberry awesomesauce

by Kristen

It’s been a great week for The Undead Duo! Julie finished RUNNING AWAY, and RUNNING HOME  is finding new fans with it’s 99 cent sale.

I’ve been waiting about as long as it look Julie to write Running Away for BECAUSE THE NIGHT paperbacks to be available.

You know, about this long.

And on Thursday, they came to be!!  You have several options. You can order your very own copy on Amazon. Or, if you fill out the form below, I will send you an autographed copy. Same deal for Julie. $15 each including shipping, US only. I love you outside the US people, but dude, it’s like pay my rent or pay shipping.


But wait! There’s more!  Julie and I tend to start and end things at the same time, and I typed THE END on the latest installment of The Night Songs Collection, a little ditty called SILENT NIGHT. It’s sort of a Christmas Story. It’s new vampires in the same world that you all know and love from Because the Night. I’m billing it as Pretty Woman meets Dracula at Midnight Mass. It’s still far away from seeing the light of day, but as we all know, you can’t edit nothing.

And even more!!  NIGHT MOVES, the next book in The Night Songs Collection, is coming SOON!  I don’t have the exact release date yet, but SOON!  The cover reveal is March 11, and if you’d like to participate in the party, click here to sign up.

Phew! I’m tired just telling you about all of this! I’m taking a sort of break before I start the next project, which is something totally new for me. And I have a gigantic pile of edits patiently waiting for me. Oh, who am I kidding. You all know I never take a break.


TODAY’S BREW: Mint chocolate coffee and  BOOZE.

By Julie

I started writing the sequel to RUNNING HOME around this time:

AND NOW. IT IS COMPLETE. Like my organs and brain development. I’ve come a long way since the above photo.

Now I shall embark upon the journey of editing and wondering if this thing is worth a goddamn or not, but I think it is. I do. But I’ll still wonder if the last 6 months were really just a lot of ALL WORK AND NO PLAY MAKES JACK A DULL BOY.

Me, maybe.

While you wait for the this sequel that features a boiling hot Irish rebel, a defiled saint, a god of creation, my friend Chynna Blue Scott, and all of our old friends that are now experiencing the dark night of the soul,


That’s right! For the price of a cup of coffee, and not even Dunkin Donuts coffee, but that sub-par Cumberland Farms gas station coffee, you can own the fruits of my first labor! (Sidenote: I quite enjoy Cumberland Farms coffee & all of its glorious creamer options.)  (Second Sidenote: “The fruits of my first labor” refers to my book, not my child.)


“Running Home has a dark beauty which entwines the mundane and the magical.”
~ J.C. Michael, author of Discoredia

“I can’t remember a time I’ve enjoyed a vampire novel so much. The blend of self-aware characters and unique, fresh mythology made for an engaging, addictive read. I believe I have found my new favorite urban vampire story.”
~ Frances Button, Opening Line Literary ‘Zine

IF YOU ALREADY OWN A COPY OF RUNNING HOME, THANK YOU!!!! Thank you for buying it, reading it, hopefully leaving a review on it (hint hint), and for believing in me. Writing is the thing that makes me me. You make it worthwhile for me. You help me show my kids and other writers that there’s value in this storytelling thing. You make it true that the greatest investment you can make is in yourself.

Now, I have some celebrating to do. Thank you all! Happy reading!

(P.S. If you want a signed copy of RUNNING HOME, leave me a comment, tweet me or email me.)



Not Always What You Expect

Today’s Brew: All the hot stuff. Snow day number, what? 16? 20?

by Kristen

FreePort [No. 007]: Céleste Boursier-Mougenot

I’m a dork. I love museums. Yesterday Liz and I went to the Peabody Essex Museum to see from here to ear. This modern art exhibit features 70 zebra finches playing electric guitar. What did I just say? Yes, they play guitar. The birds land on the strings, hop around, preen, chirp, sing, even bicker, and their movements turn into music. All of the guitars are set for different effects. The birds can also land on a couple of bass guitars, too, and they eat birdseed out of overturned cymbals.

Bad ass.

The amazing part of the exhibit was how melodious music from the pitter patter of little birdie feet could actually be. It was one of the most fascinating exhibits I’d ever seen.  Now I’m trying to get McGee to start a band.  Believe it or not, he isn’t interested.

One cool thing I realized while looking at the other exhibits was that art can make me angry. These things that people come up with! Beautiful and bizarre. I’m jealous that others have big brains that can see things than no one else does. Why do we conform? Why do we except less than spectacular in our lives? We’re all capable of so much.

After Liz and I parted ways, I had two choices: sit in traffic or go to the mall for a while. I know, art just pissed me off because it was so fabulous and I go to the mecca of mediocrity. Had I not needed a few odds and ends for my makeup kit at Sephora, I probably would have opted for traffic. I took my time at the mall, went through all the stores to see what was happening. Most of my makeup jobs are commercial or corporate, very natural, no makeup looks. Vogue Italia is not knocking down my door for any crazy avante guard shit. But still, I should keep up with trends.

My eyes.

I’m pretty sure all the old supply closets from 80’s sitcoms and soap operas exploded, and the debris made its way to the mall. I saw high waisted jeans. Belly shirts. More polyester fibers than I can tell you about without breaking into a sweat. Chain patterns. I like to consider myself pretty open minded to fashion, but these clothes weren’t just ugly, they won’t flatter anyone who’s ever had a cookie. Thank God for online retailers, because that’s where I’ll be replenishing my closet this season.

Today, as I mentioned, it’s snowing, and I love these days. I don’t have to worry about driving in the nonsense and I get to write all day. I’m putting the finishing touches on one first draft, then I’ll be diving into promo and edits on the other books in the pipeline.

Speaking of promo, you may or may not have been aware I had a short story, more of an expanded scene from Because the Night, available for free on Smashwords. All I kept hearing was how FREE was the gateway to success, but I’m not comfortable making a full length novel free forever. My solution was this short story. I figured it was just a teaser, and if the reader wanted more, they’d buy my full length books.

Notice I said HAD. People didn’t like it. It confused them. They thought it was too short. They didn’t get what it was supposed to be. So I took it down. While I’m surprised that it didn’t work, I’m not sorry I tried it. Like the birds on the guitars and the clothes at the mall, you never know what is going to be beautiful and what is going to send you running in the other direction.

Taking Your Time Takes Time

TODAY’S BREW: S’more to Love. Seethe with your jealousy. Embrace it.

By Julie

Giving myself time is something I am just plain not accustomed to doing. I do everything on a minute to minute schedule because I work at home and because I’m a stay at home mom. These things make me feel like even though I’m doing the most difficult things I have ever done every day, that I’m still not doing anything because I’m in my pajamas. This is ridiculous.

I read a study once that said when you wear comfortable clothes you take something insane like 350 more steps in a day. And yet, if you work a sit-down job, you gain an average of 10 pounds per year even if your diet and excercise routine are strong. So, if you’re running around with kids but sit on your butt a lot in front of a computer and go to the gym on the regs, YOUR HEAD WILL EXPLODE FROM TRYING TO FIGURE THAT EQUATION OUT.

Also, when I don’t go to 100 places per day, or bring in an hourly wage, I feel like I don’t get to ever take a break. This is dumb. Working in jobs where time is money, you don’t ever fully recover from that. And when you entirely adore everything you’re doing, it doesn’t feel like work, no matter how important it may be. Making lunch for your kids is important. Making up wild stories to share with the world is important. Playing Chutes and Ladders is important. Helping people hone their art through editing is important. Working out is important. Reading like a writer and an editor is important. And taking a break is important.

I’ve been busting my ass on the sequel to RUNNING HOME. Today, I put the finishing touches on it, and then IT IS FINISHED. I took some time away from my writing schedule to do developmental editing for some incredible authors, and working this into my schedule means that not only do I have less time to write, but it means I’m working harder. So that means I need to rest sometimes.


Yes, rest. Because doing a lot of things you love is hard because you put all of your energy into them every minute of the day. And it isn’t until I say, “Jeeez, my legs feel like if I stood up right now, I may fall down,” that I realize it is okay to take a day off to screw around playing video games and watching TV. EVEN IF EVERYTHING ISN’T DONE.

I write first drafts in 3 months. That’s what I do. Until I don’t. RUNNING AWAY is going on 6 months! P.S.   I AM WRITING THE FINAL CHAPTER TODAY. I let it sit for one day so every word will be absolutely perfect. Also, not as planned, this book is the longest thing ever written since THE BIBLE. 

But everything unfolds with purpose, in the proper amount of time without being overindulgent and without being rushed. Every word is carefully plotted. And if it took one hundred thousand words before editing, then that’s how long it took. And if it takes the same amount after editing, that’s how many it takes.

I guess taking time applies to more than just the clock.

Time is something we need to use to our advantage, not just something we need to use. Take a break before you break.



How 12 Different Authors Write a First Draft.

Tammy Farrell

I have an AMAZING post for you today! Since there was such a huge response to my “How Did You Write a Book” post, I started to wonder how my experience differs from other writers. I was lucky enough to pick the brains of some incredible authors to find out how they write their first drafts. Writing a first draft is the first and MOST important step to becoming a published author and it can also the hardest.

The questions each author was asked:

  1. How long does it take you to write a first draft?
  2. What does your first draft writing process look like?
  3. What are your first draft stumbling blocks and how do you overcome them?

The authors answering these burning questions are: Lane Heymont, Becket, Kristen Strassel, Summer Wier, Brenda Drake, Greg Wilkey, Jamie Grey, Melody Winter, Kat Ellis, Julie Hutchings, Mark Mathews and Louise D. Gornall.


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How Did You Write A Book?

I love when an author can tell me their process in such clear words! It’s such a mind-mess, to be able to articulate it is kick ass.

Tammy Farrell

I get asked this question A LOT, so I figured it was time to write a post about it.

A Bit of Background

Well, first let me say that I’m not new to writing. I would say I’ve been a writer my entire life. I’ve always written short stories and attempted to write novels. When I was 25 I started writing under the pen name, Dahlia Knight. I had a website and wrote short erotic serials. I even had a few published on a Canadian sex therapy ezine :P. I also became a freelance writer and wrote various business reviews, web content, and ad copy for a few years.

Around the same time in 2008 I started to develop these characters that just wouldn’t leave me alone. They were Mara, Malcolm, and Corbin (the main characters in The Darkness of Light). I didn’t know their story at the time…

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