Deadly Ever After

Archive for the month “March, 2014”

Happy Book Birthday to WE WON’T FEEL A THING!

Today’s Brew: Never skimp on creamer. I feel like I lost two perfectly good days of my life to half and half.

by Kristen

Julie and I frequently fangirl over JC Lillis. Why? Because she’s smart and effortlessly funny. Smart and effortlessly funny are two things that translate into her writing. Today, her new book, WE WON’T FEEL A THING, is available for you to fangirl (or fanboy) over. Tell me this blurb doesn’t hook you:

Seventeen-year-old best friends Rachel and Riley are in forbidden love.

Their situation’s. . .complicated. And their timing couldn’t be worse—in just one month, he leaves for California and she starts college in New York. The absolute last thing they need is a reckless secret-love confession mucking up their perfect plans.

There’s only one logical option: scientific intervention.

Desperate for a quick fix, they sign up for WAVES, an experimental self-help program led by mysterious scientist David A. Kerning. He swears his Forbidden Love Module can turn passion back to safe platonic friendship in “six easy steps.”

But when you arm yourself with an untested program, side effects are unpredictable.

And sometimes when you fight love—love fights back.

We Won't Feel a Thing

We Won’t Feel a Thing

All of this can be yours! Just click this link. Go ahead. I’ll wait.

Today, on ye ol’ blogola, Julie and I have the pleasure of interviewing JC! Guys, she’s into retro food. And fan fiction.  Read on:

Did you base WAVES on any real life program?

I didn’t, but I’ll tell you where I got the idea. Years ago, this friend of mine—he was a brilliant scientist, very much wedded to the logic-before-emotion philosophy—was giving advice to a mutual friend of ours who was having a hard time. And he said, in a very calm and common-sense kind of way, “You know, you wouldn’t get yourself in situations like these if you’d just learn how to engineer your emotions.” Which of course is a bizarre thing to say to someone in pain, right? But I kept turning it over and over, picturing him starting up his own “emotional engineering” lab and setting us up as test subjects. So that was the beginning of the David Kerning character. And at the same time, I was also kicking around this story about two (unrelated) teenagers who grew up in the same house and are wrestling with all these inappropriate feelings for each other just as their paths in life start to diverge. So David Kerning and Rachel & Riley careened into the same story orbit and sort of crashed into each other and made a giant lovely mess for me to clean up.

Do you see more of yourself in Rachel or Riley? Is there anything that either of them do that you would never, ever be able to bring yourself to do?

I see a lot of myself in both of them, though neither one is completely me. Rachel’s perfectionism and Riley’s anxiety are both dimensions of me for sure, and they totally share my sense of humor. (They’re much, much quicker with a quip than I am, though. The benefit of being a fictional character.)

Rachel in particular definitely does stuff I would never dream of doing, especially not when I was her age. She’s a planner, but she’s a BADASS planner. Like, I never would’ve had the balls to take the SATs early on the sly and apply to my dream school hundreds of miles away without my family knowing. I’ve become kind of a stealth badass in my old(er) age, but as a teenager I was definitely more like Riley—quiet and deliberate, someone very unlikely to stare down a challenge. I get in staring contests with challenges at least once every two months now, so there’s hope for him yet.

Riley is a worrier. What does Rachel worry about? What do you worry about?

Rachel is a girl with a plan; she has a very clear vision of who and what she wants to be. So she’s petrified of anything that’ll knock her off course and make her lose control. That’s why she’s so desperate to resolve her feelings for Riley—love feels very overwhelming and unwieldy, and she sees it as a direct threat to her goals. Like she says in one of the early chapters—”there’s only one kind of girl I can tolerate being, and it is not the Girl Who Gives it All Up for Love.”

As for me—the real question is, what DON’T I worry about? I can look at a paper clip and see eight ways it might cause an accidental death. You wouldn’t want to live inside my head. Here there be monsters. (And also lots of words and plots and characters and things, which is the only reason I haven’t applied for a brain transplant.)

You share my obsession with borderline repulsive mid century recipes, and I love that you actually make these masterpieces. How did this happen to us?
Well, I’m not sure what happened to YOU, but one night I dreamed I was chased through a forest of jello molds and mauled by a pack of pickled meat loaves, and when I came to, I immediately craved a library of vintage cookbooks. They’re just addictive, aren’t they? There’s this sad, heartwarming innocence to the way we ate then. The fact that women regularly constructed things like “Creamed Corn and Wiener Roasts” and served them with a straight face on the good china…I mean, that whole postwar chapter of cultural history is just endlessly fascinating to me.

And by the way, aspic is mightily offended that you called it “borderline repulsive.” It wears its mantle of revulsion PROUDLY.


You are a self described fan girl. If someone was to write a Rachel and Riley fan fic, what would you love to see happen?

Oh, yeah, I do love fanfic. I can’t tell you how thrilled I’d be if someone loved Rachel and Riley enough to write more stories about them. I could give you some ideas of stuff I’d love to see, but it wouldn’t really be about what I want. Once I write a book and put it out there, I figure the characters belong to the readers. So if anyone wants to write steampunk AU or pterodactyl porn about Rachel and Riley, HAVE AT IT. Just send me a link, okay?

Riley never wears pants with less than 5 pockets. What the hell are in these pockets?
Very small effigies of his enemies. No—he’s a mosaic artist, so he’s always picking up things he can use in his projects. Pretty stones, pieces of glass, bottle caps. He sees beauty in a lot of ordinary things, so he needs a lot of pockets to hold it all.

If you had a scientist willing to remove one thing from you so you wouldn’t feel a thing, what would it be?

Overinvestment in fictional characters. I just read some super-gross spoilers about the new Game of Thrones season, like stuff they nonsensically changed from the books, and I’m not a book purist when it comes to adaptations but these were like a horse-kick to the chest. I care way too much about the characters I love and I dearly wish there was a Distancing Button I could press to zap it away when necessary.
I love the image of the blown glass wishing hearts. What significance do they hold in the book?

OMG, you went on the Pinterest board. HOW MUCH DO I LOVE YOU. The wishing heart is given to Rachel and Riley by the very lovely, somewhat irritating Tilly Merriam, who is David’s colleague and travel partner. Riley hangs it in their window and it becomes kind of a talisman as the story unfolds.

What are Rachel and Riley’s biggest pet peeves?
Rachel plans to become the most feared and respected copy editor in New York, so grammatical errors chap her hide. Misused apostrophes are her #1 peeve. It’s really hard for her to look at a specials chalkboard in a restaurant and not make any adjustments on the sly.
Riley’s peeves: when he can’t get a mosaic to match the picture in his head, and when Rachel watches hospital dramas in his presence even though she knows he’ll end up diagnosing himself with a rare strain of pig flu.
If Rachel and Riley could run away together somewhere that none of these problems would be problems, where would they go?

You know at the end of Splash, when Tom Hanks jumps in the ocean with Daryl Hannah and becomes a quasi-merman through the magical power of handholding and they swim to the bottom of the sea in like thirty seconds flat and they see the glowing lights of her vast mermaid kingdom in the distance? That place.

I totally just spoiled Splash for everyone who wasn’t around in 1984. Wow, I’m a bastard.

I stalk you because of your casual, slightly deranged, intelligent humor, your fearless originality, and also because of your cooking skillz. Please tell me what the funniest thing is you can think of.

Okay, first of all, THANK YOU. Second of all: Jump-roping toilets. Ever since we did Harry Potter Mad Libs at the kid’s birthday party, I haven’t stopped thinking about jump-roping toilets. Mad Libs with First Graders needs to be a Comedy Central show.
Runners-up: The phrase “hand-cranked wiener warmers,” the video for “Frontier Psychiatrist” by the Avalanches, and that part in Waiting for Guffman where Christopher Guest goes “I JUST HATE YOU AND I HATE YOUR ASS FACE!” (Seriously. I want it as my ringtone: http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=Ra_X0QXfeW4)

What is the coolest thing you’ve ever done?

Besides gestating a small human who’s now at least five times cooler than I am…I gotta go with “becoming an indie author.” That and the book trailer for We Won’t Feel a Thing.

What’s the weird thing you have to do every day?

Check my heater five times before I go to bed to make sure I unplugged it. I also go into my daughter’s room to make sure the pillows aren’t too close to her face while she’s sleeping. I’ve done this since she was a toddler. SHE IS SEVEN YEARS OLD. There’s basically no chance of her escaping young adulthood with no therapy bills.

Four people you can invite to a dinner party and not one of them has to be a family member. Go. Also, what will the table linens look like?

I’m immediately disqualifying all friends from real life and Twitterlife, because there’s no way I could choose. And I’m not inviting any world leaders or Nobel Prize winners, because I want to serve spaghetti and watch Hot Fuzz and not have to polish the oyster forks.

So: I’d invite Jemaine from Flight of the Conchords, because he doesn’t get enough love, and his awkwardness would offset mine.

I’d invite Lena Headey and Janelle Monae, because they’re my primary woman crushes and they’d be so radiantly awesome that no one would notice I burned the garlic bread.

I’d also invite Wes Anderson and beg him to make a movie version of We Won’t Feel a Thing. I’d show him all the tiny pencils I made out of toothpicks for the book trailer. We would love each other so hard.

The table linens would be the finest Egyptian cotton, but would also be printed with misbehaving robots, because I spoil my guests but am not Gwyneth Paltrow.

And now, to do to you what you did to me.
1. Describe your favorite pair of shoes.

Gotta go with my light brown leather boots with antique gold buttons. They’re very steampunky. I’m not in love with steampunk, but I most definitely have unplatonic feelings toward these boots.

2. Tell me a dirty joke.

An elderly couple is getting ready for bed at night. The wife wants to spice things up, so she dashes out of the bathroom in nothing but a red satin cape and shouts “SUPER PUSSY!” The husband looks her over and says “…I’ll have the soup.”

3. What movie makes you angry?

That goddamned Kevin Spacey movie — what’s it called, The Life of David Gale? I think that’s it. I refuse to look it up because I’ll just get mad at it all over again. It’s just smug and manipulative and deeply, deeply silly, and not the good kind of silly.

4. What book makes you cry?

I’m not a huge book-crier, but the end of Don’t Think Twice by Ruth Pennebaker absolutely gutted me. It’s an older YA book and I almost hate describing it because it’s about a pregnant teen so it sounds like a Problem Novel, but it doesn’t read like one. It’s gutwrenching specifically because the girl is so sharp and funny and guarded with her emotions, and then at the end when she gives her baby up and all these real feelings start pouring out, you’re blindsided right along with her. I recommend it if you need an ugly-cry.

5. If you had to write a short story inspired by a song, which one would you pick?
“St. Louise Is Listening” by Soul Coughing, just to see if I could make something cohesive out of the lyrics. It would be a fun puzzle. (I almost said “The Night You Can’t Remember” by the Magnetic Fields, but that’s pretty much already a short story.)

6. What do you think about at night when you’re trying to fall asleep?

Usually whatever scene I’m planning to write next. Or I write scenes for my favorite fictional characters, especially if they’ve been needlessly abused by their creators. I patch them up and listen to their woes and give them cookies and good love scenes.

7. When you meet someone new, what’s the first thing you notice about him/her?
The sincerity of his/her smile. I sound like Linus, don’t I? I always wanted to sit in a sincere pumpkin patch with him. (I think there’s a lot of Linus in Riley, come to think of it.)

8. What do you think Oscar the Grouch does on trash day?

Hides out in Bert & Ernie’s apartment and instigates lovers’ quarrels.

9. As a fellow Ali G fan, I must know: Does you believe in mahogany?

 

I do, because it believes in itself. Self-belief is infectious.

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How To Get Your Crap Done And Not Hate The World

TODAY’S BREW: Red Velvet Coconut, AKA The Bottoms Of Two Coffees

By Julie

I’ve been asked a thousand times how I multi-task to get the number of things done that I do. If you’re not a multi-tasker by nature, and more someone who has to focus on one thing until it’s done, then move on to the next, having a fistful of crap to do seems really daunting. I’m a little of both of these, so I need to compromise in my life a lot to get what I want out of it.

What I want to give you today is not a life plan of how to multi-task forever, but things you can do now to help you. Because coming up with a new life plan to get your shit done is a task in itself. Here’s some stuff I do that helps me:

  • KNOW WHAT PART OF YOUR DAY IS THE BLACK HOLE. I’m going to get reeeallly tired around 3:30 and need a break. Don’t try to work through it, you’re just going to make yourself more tired and pissed off. Take the break. Take a 15 minute nap so you can work faster when you’re conscious again. Drink the coffee. People may say take a walk, but if I do that, I probably will never start my stuff again. I suggest doing 10 arm circles forward and 10 backward which is proven to increase creative thinking. Do that shit. But know you can’t do All The Shit if you try to muscle over the part of your day that never works out. Also known as: The Time Of Day Sam Freaks Out. Give in to it. You ain’t accomplishing nuthin’.
  • DON’T DEMAND PERFECT CONDITIONS. We all have our perfect working conditions in mind. I’ll never get those. But I can arrange for my non-negotiables and let the rest slide. I need to have a cleared up workspace. Would I like to work in a house that is clean top to bottom? Yes. Can I? Never, not even once. If I try to make it that way before I get moving, I’ll never get work done. Clean your area, and get your shit done. That’s your oasis, your corner of the world, don’t let anyone defile it.
  • FIGURE OUT IF YOU’RE A “GET THE SHIT DONE AND RELAX” PERSON OR A “DO THE SHIT AT YOUR OWN PACE AND RELAX IN BETWEEN” PERSON. Again, you may have a little of both like me. Editing jobs are a “get the shit down at your own pace” kind of work. So to make up for the time I might lose doing that, I pick a couple of other things I’ll do until they get done, fast and furious, so they don’t all loom ahead of me. This could be a blog post, the laundry, the gym, whatever. I’ll say “I’m going to get all this shit done in an hour,” and then I race myself basically. Voila, shit done. Now you can slow down a little. A little.
  • INSTEAD OF COMPLAINING THAT YOU HAVE TO GET YOUR SHIT DONE SO YOU CAN’T PLAY CONNECT FOUR RIGHT NOW, JUST PLAY CONNECT FOUR. I feel better after doing the kid thing instead of pawning it off to muscle through my work. Sure, I’ll sometimes end up doing way too much kid stuff and not enough work and vice versa. I don’t say yes to every kid game, but I’ll give myself 10 minutes an hour or somesuch to do it. Then I don’t feel like a jerk, and I’m more productive, too.
  • EAT YOUR DAMN MEALS OR AT LEAST SNACK NORMALLY. Don’t starve yourself because you don’t have time to eat. Eat the meal. You’ll feel better and maybe won’t eat that entire package of cookies. Or maybe you will. I don’t know.
  • KNOW WHAT KIND OF EMAILER/TWITTERER/FACEBOOKER YOU ARE. I do best answering my emails as they show up, tweeting as I see fit, facebooking never. I don’t save it all up and do it in one fell swoop. You might do better giving yourself 10 minutes an hour to do this stuff. Or an hour at the end of a day, or whatever. But know what makes you happiest to do, and do that. If you’re happy and comfortable, you’ll work better.
  • SHOWER WHEN YOU GET OUT OF BED. Don’t do all the other crap first, except make the coffee. Always do that first.
  • WRITE IT ALL DOWN. You guys make lists of your shit to do, right? You have to do that. Even if your shit is the same shit every day, you’ll feel a lot better crossing some of that stuff off. If you have GIANT things to do, break it into smaller segments. EDIT BOOK is not a do-able task. COMPLETE 5 PAGES written 6 times though on the list gets you 30 pages done, and look, you get to cross stuff off. BOOM.
  • TAKE 2 MINUTES AND READ A BOOK. Like, a few times a day. Feel better about life. Recommence work.
  • SHUT THE TV OFF AND PUT MUSIC ON. They both affect mood. TV makes your mood relaxed and sedentery. Music pumps you up, even slow music. Do that thing, then. NO TV.
  • SMILE AND LAUGH. It’s a fact that even if you fake smile and/or fake laugh, you’re happier. If you’re happier, you work better. I do this all day. If your day sucks out loud, laugh about it or it will suck forever.
  • TELL SOMEONE HOW MUCH YOU LIKE/LOVE/ADMIRE THEM. A friend on the phone, on Twitter, in your face right now. Tell them what awesome thing they do or say or whatever that makes you happy, and they half the time will say something you do that makes them happy, and suddenly your day isn’t so out of control. Suddenly, you feel pretty awesome, and you made someone else feel awesome too.
  • FREAK OUT IF YOU HAVE TO. I freak out all the time. Take the time to freak out. As much time as you need. Then get your shit done. If you give yourself what you need, you’ll get what you need to done. Sometimes I need to freak out over all the stuff I have to do. So I vegg out for a few minutes, cry if I have to, play a video game and then get my shit done.
  • WHEN YOUR LIFE IS TOO MANIACAL TO EVEN BELIEVE, PRETEND IT’S A SITCOM. You think I don’t do this? I do. I pretend there’s a camera somewhere with some audience on the other side thinking this whole thing is pretty goddamn funny, and then I do, too. Then I get my shit done.

What I’ve come to realize writing this is that the things that make me a good multi-tasker are not the nuts and bolts of getting it done, but the mindset I do it in. The mental capacity needed to do a crap ton of different things in one day is enormous. So I try to take care of myself mentally all day long, rather than burn myself out and reignite after I’ve done what I need to do. Don’t put a Band-aid on your mental injury from doing too much. Create an environment in your head that supports you in what you need to get done. Know what makes you happy, whether it be endless coffee, lots of laughter, unicorns, wearing sweatpants with great panties underneath, or whatever, and make sure that it sets the pace for the day for you, doesn’t become another thing to do. Be good to yourself, and your day will be good to you. Super-Confuciusy, I know.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY KRISTEN AND ALSO NIGHT MOVES!

TODAY’S BREW: Beer For Breakfast. (only in my mind)

By Julie

TODAY IS KRISTEN’S BIRTHDAY 

AAAAAAND

IT’S THE RELEASE OF NIGHT MOVES

Night Moves (Night Songs Collection, #2)

SO PRETTY, RIGHT?

I say this about it on Ye Olde Goodreads:

From the driven-to-the-brink and pushed off the brink Melanie to sextastic Erin, from sure and steady Ryder to self-important jerk Drake, these characters push you to keep reading to see what the hell they’ll do next. A cast that somehow manages to fit together with an incredible realism, they drive each other to do things that keeps the pages turning. Part love story, part fish out of water, part vampire sexiness, part wild crime adventure, this is a book with a plot so interweaved and twisted together, you’ll be happy to be its next victim.

Kristen deserves you to buy her book for these reasons, among others that she won’t tell you because it would sound sucky coming from someone other than her best friend. BUT THESE REASONS:

  • She is drained like a dirty pool at the end of summer from writing these books because she busted her ass, her brain and her heart to do it.
  • She works hard at EVERYTHING. And people who work hard deserve your support.
  • It’s a good fucking book.
  • IT’S HER GODDAMN BIRTHDAY FOR CHRISSAKES.
  • Every time she goes on a trip, whether it be a day trip or to Vegas for “research,” I tell her to buy me a present, and she does.
  • One time when as teenagers, we waited outside for concert tickets for too long and still didn’t get them, Kristen told the cashier that this “sucked big hairy dog balls.” You want to read this book for that reason.

HERE IS HOW YOU DO IT:

ON THE AMAZON MACHINE: http://www.amazon.com/Night-Moves-Songs-Collection-ebook/dp/B00J7YSU5W/ref=la_B00GFY14O6_1_5?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1395792704&sr=1-5

AT THE BARNES AND THE NOBLE: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/night-moves-kristen-strassel/1118909138?ean=2940045761086

FROM THE SMASHING OF WORDS:http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/418092

In short, HAPPY BIRTHDAY AND BOOK BIRTHDAY, KRISTEN! Nikki Sixx/Tristan wanted to wish you one, too.

And I made you this cake! Not really!

the bachelor party cake I made for my fiance. ;)

I love you, Kristen, and I hope both your birthdays are wonderful ones. Long live the cougar.

Pre-Release Day Jitters!

Today’s Brew: Trying to decide when to start the birthday celebration. Until then, Pumpkin Spice.

by Kristen

Tomorrow is kind of a big deal.

It’s my birthday.

It’s NIGHT MOVES’ book birthday, too.

Release day always seems to sneak up on me. Forever it seems like it’s months or weeks off, and then it’s holy shit, I have a book coming out tomorrow. What the hell am I supposed to do now?

I know, I know, enjoy it. But these are my babies. You guys don’t know Melanie and Ryder yet, so they’re taking their first wobbly steps out in the world. It changes things.

NIGHT MOVES started as a short story, and when I wrote it, I don’t know if I ever planned on making it an actual book.  But something about it spoke to me, and I kept asking “now what?” I do remember the moment when I realized this story belonged in The Night Songs Collection, it was one of those warm fuzzy feelings that I get when it all comes together. From there, I guided the story to The End. I say guided, because I always let my characters take the reins. I’m boring, and they’re not. I just record what they tell me.

Before you’re like WTF Kristen, I have QUESTIONS about what happened at the end of BECAUSE THE NIGHT. What do you mean new characters? Melanie, Ryder, and everyone else you’re going to meet cross paths with Callie, Tristan, Blade, and Talis.  They’re all going to join forces to move on in the new world you have so many questions about. I just have to ask you to trust me on this one, it all works. You will get all your answers, not wrapped up in a neat little bow, because homey don’t play like that, but you’ll get them.

The series doesn’t move in a straight line, I took some chances to tell the story the way it needed to be told. I mean, hell, it starts as YA contemporary and moves into vampire smut.  I’m pretty sure I wasn’t supposed to do that, but I did it anyway.  All of the things that seemed like grand ideas as they flew out of my fingers on the the screen, the things that the betas liked, and my editors, will readers like them?  How will they like these new characters? I have one vision of my book in my head, but is that how it comes across to everyone else?

It’s revoltingly terrifying.

I could never do this alone. It truly takes an army to release a book. Everyone on Twitter has been so supportive, my agency as made sure everything has gone smoothly, and honestly if it wasn’t for all of you guys, I don’t know if I would do it. When I say thank you, it doesn’t seem like enough. Any time someone tells me they enjoy something I wrote, my heart swells. Sure, they’re just words on a page, but that’s my imagination. That came from me. It’s not a skill I can hone, it’s something that just is. It’s a very vulnerable thing to share.  Artists have to believe in themselves A LOT to put their work out there. Critique is scary. But the praise is worth it.

I’m humbled any time anyone thinks anything I have to say is worth reading. I hope you all love NIGHT MOVES, because without you, it wouldn’t exist.  And I’m grateful for every single one of you.

XX
Kristen

 

Senora McBrag Gets Bragadocious about Bennett

TODAY’S BREW: All Of It.

By Julie

I have this kid, Bennett. He’s 7, and the most perfect child that ever was. This week is his Star Student Week at school. Every kid in his class gets a week dedicated to them with an activity that centers around them every day. A big poster we made to show all the things that are important to him, I get to go read to his class one day, the class puts together a scrapbook of things they love about Bennett, stuff like that. Today I get to write a letter to him that gets read aloud to the class by his teacher, telling him all the things I love about him. SO HARD. Because the Amazing just rolls off this kid like rain off a windshield that’s had that Rain-X stuff put on it recently.

I SHALL LIST SEVERAL THINGS THAT ARE INCREDIBLE ABOUT THIS KID IN A HALF-LIST, HALF-RANT THING POST HASTE.

1) Every night at bedtime the kid says he’s thankful for me, “Dada,” his dog and his brother, even if his brother has been absolutely awful to him all day.

2) The child is exceptional in EVERYTHING on his report card. EVERYTHING. He’s gifted with graphs, understands social studies at an advanced level, reads like a voracious dinosaur eats humans, writes and revises at 7. AT SEVEN. He has exceptional team playing abilities in gym. He has above average understanding of science and how it applies to his world. He has great computer skills. He’s a pleasure to have in class as a role model. That’s my kid.

3) The boy has no trouble telling me he does not want to go to school functions or do extracurricular stuff. He does so without whining. He tells me like an adult would tell you that’s just not their bag, baby.

4) He’s a leader in school, stands up for his friends, and is loved by every kid in his class.

5) The child is obsessed with Lemony Snicket. He doesn’t want to read this Magic TreeHouse bullshit, which we both found dull. The kid likes books with strife, complexity, not always the happy ending, and smart, multi-dimensional characters. Little mastermind.

6) THIS IS IMPORTANT. The child has said the word “asshole” once. This is the context in which he did, at age 5:

“Why did the dog kick the turkey?”

“Why?”

“Because he was an asshole.”

Tell me that’s not the best joke you’ve heard all day and you’re lying to yourself.

7) The child will hug and kiss everyone in the family so much that it’s overwhelming.

8) He shares like a summabitch.

9) He’s so sensitive he’ll actually turn off the TV and entertain his brother so that “Mama can have some peace and quiet,” WHEN I DON’T EVEN ASK FOR IT.

10) He curls up under a blanket in fuzzy pajamas with me whenever he can.

11) He threatened the life of a child about twice his size at the Pump N’ Jump for calling his baby brother a jerk.

12) He’s obsessed with As Seen On TV products. His latest obsession is the Chillow.

13) He does these crazy awkward dances because he knows they make people uncomfortable, and he laughs about it.

14) The child will go to the toy store just for fun and never ask for a toy. Now his brother does the same thing.

15) He loves pizza as much as I do.

16) He looks like the lost Kennedy and makes girls twice his age blush with his beauty.

17) He goes to bed every single night without a fight.

18) He’d rather be home. Whatever the thing there is to do, he’d rather be home with his family, watching movies or playing Legos.

19) He works like an animal on his homework to make it perfect.

20) He calls marshmallows “smarshmallows” still.

21) He’s an amazing artist. Another place he’s been called “gifted.”

22) He cuddles with his brother constantly, and kisses him and hugs him every chance he gets.

23) He’ll tell you all day that whatever you’re eating smells great, but he’ll never try new foods. This fascinates me.

24) He makes the right decisions at the right times. He saves his wrong decisions for crap like making the most annoying noise ever when we’ve asked him not to 78 times.

25) He’s unbelievably, beautifully, wholeheartedly his very own person and is determined to be just that.

Bennett and I are ridiculously attached to each other, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. There’s no better person on earth to be attached to, and he’s only getting better.

New Adult: Decisions, Decisions, Decisions

Today’s Brew: I have this giant box of K cups and you can’t stop me from drinking all of it today.

by Kristen

Melanie, my main character in Night Moves, has painted herself into a corner. She let other people, like her mom and her teachers and councilors, convince her to do something she didn’t want. Instead of majoring in history in college like she wanted to, she let them talk her into taking business classes so she can actually make some money and amount to something.

What does she become? An angry person with a job she hates and blood on her hands. And that’s where our story begins.

Melanie thought she made all the right decisions. On paper, they looked great. Her bank account was pretty sweet, too. But they weren’t the right decisions for her. She ignored all of her passions and wants because she was told what she wanted was, in essence, wrong.

In High School, I was told I couldn’t take art classes because I needed to go to college. As an adult, you might say, “Well, Kristen, why didn’t you just say F you and sign up anyway?” The person who told me no was my guidance counselor, the person who actually put the classes in to the computer for final scheduling. His say was pretty final. And as a HS student on a college preparatory track, he had a strong point. I bought it. But history proved him wrong. It took me fourteen years to get an Associates Degree I don’t use, and I support myself as an artist. Our very own Julie told me she was going to study Business in college. Um, Julie? Business? You’re a writer, bitch. That’s what you want. Julie did get her degree in Creative Writing, and for a long time, I felt a little guilty about helping influence her to study what she really loved while she worked in management. But look at our little Julie now. SHE’S A FUCKING WRITER.

Night Moves meets Melanie as a 24 year old, which puts her at the tippety top of New Adulthood.  She graduated from college two years before our story starts, and is now really feeling the repercussions of giving in to what society wanted her to do. She’s a cubicle monkey who brings work home, and is losing sense of self so much she’s completely alienated her friends, her boyfriend, and most importantly, herself.

 “Are you happy, Melanie? I’m fucking everything up. I’m sorry I can’t be perfect like you. But look, we both wound up in the same place, didn’t we?”–Erin, Night Moves

Last night, I participated in NALitChat on Twitter. Elizabeth Barone posted a link to her excellent blog post about her thoughts on theNew Adult category. I retweeted it, because I agree with with this article, and I think it’s important to address some of these things in the infancy of a movement so it can gain the right traction. A kick ass discussion started about the conceptions of NA, that it’s just smut with college students in it, and about what we, as NA writers, wanted it to be. Quite a few people joined in the discussion.  Many people said that NA wasn’t exploring exactly what it meant to be in your 20’s, and expressed a desire to see characters who weren’t in college. Finally, Elizabeth, a few others, and I bonded over both having written homeless main characters. (You’ll meet Kyndra soon, don’t worry. Her story has a happy ending.) Elizabeth and I didn’t even discuss the fact that we both wrote rock star books.

I thought a lot about our chat after it ended. Many people say that New Adult books are coming of age stories. That’s true. Even more so, they’re about decisions.

Sure, the sex is fun, too, but there’s more than that.

When we take the training wheels off and step out of high school on the the giant game board of LIFE, sure, there are rules and guidelines. But now we have to decide how we’re going to get to the finish line. No two people do the same exact thing. Not everything is a great idea, as good as it seems at first. Not everything is a success. There are people who want you to do well and there are people who want you to fail horrendously. There are people who are prepared to support themselves and flourish, and there are people who don’t even want that. Everyone has something different that makes them happy.

But when we’ve all been cranked through the same system, we don’t get to experience all of that until a certain point.

I struggled for a long time to find my thing, the one I was supposed to be doing. So I got to spend a lot of time at the mall, working with other people in the same boat I was. So many people with talent and potential weren’t doing anything with it. Maybe because they didn’t have the money to pursue their dreams, maybe because of other circumstances, maybe because they didn’t care to do anything about it. Not everyone has to conquer the world. Some of them just didn’t believe in themselves. These were the people who fascinated me. Because their journeys weren’t straight lines, they stepped on landmines, but they got up and kept going.

And these are the people my stories are about.

Ten Things That Made My Goddamn Day

TODAY’S BREW: Coconut Cream made right in Boston.

By Julie

TEN THINGS THAT MADE MY GODDAMN DAY

It’s 11 in the morning, and it might be an ordinary day, but I’m a happy bastard most days, and today here’s why I have a smile on my face that might annoy other people without one.

  1. I woke up to the people that make me happiest.
  2. Bennett being excited about watching The Lorax and Frozen like a little kid, when sometimes he already seems so grown up.
  3. I made muffins because Sammy kept asking for them. For muffins that I specifically make. We all know I can’t cook.
  4. An old song found new meaning and a new song makes my belly tingle.
  5. The IKEA catalog
  6. Someone posted my first tweet ever which was “If writing a book was as hard as writing a pitch for said book, I would still be selling panties,” in September of 2012. A) Someone cared enough to do this thing.  B) Look what I’ve done since then.
  7. Warm, fuzzy pants.
  8. Light rain, cold breeze in the window and warm blankets.
  9. My plants are still alive.
  10. All the hugs I’ve already had.

If you can’t do this by 11 AM, make some changes, folks, but I’m thinking you probably have even more things to be happy about than this if you really think. If you don’t GO MAKE SOME REASONS TO BE HAPPY.

Fame < Infamy

Today’s Brew: I’m drinking the French Toast Coffee I bought for Julie. Because I feel like it.

by Kristen

ONE WEEK UNTIL NIGHT MOVES!!!

I’ve always been fascinated by musicians. When I was really young, like kindegarten, first grade, my dad used to bring his favorite records into my room and play them for me on my Bee Gees record player. We listened to Johnny Cash, Buddy Holly, The Kingston Trio, and Waylon Jennings because my favorite song was The Dukes of Hazard theme.

Do you see the groundwork that was being laid for my life? You take out the Australian Disco sticker on our delivery device and I was being set up for a lifelong love of outlaw musicians. Buddy Holly seems tame now, but in the 50’s, he was a trailblazer. Not only did he set the standard for what we know as the recipe for a rock band: 2 guitars, bass, and drums, but he helped blur the racial divide in popular music. The Kingston Trio helped lay the groundwork for the folk rock movement in the 60’s.  I loved these nights.

Fun Fact: I’ve seen Johnny Cash live!  In 1995, at the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame Concert in Cleveland.  My friends and I were on a mini tour and actually there to see Bon Jovi. Every time I said I was excited to see Johnny Cash, people gave me funny looks. Take that, hipsters. I am thirty years ahead of you.

I’m addicted to the way I feel when I think of you.–Fall Out Boy, Fame < Infamy

As time went on, music became a part of the fabric of my life. I’ve gone to hundreds of concerts, maybe even into quadruple digits, I don’t know anymore. These people have become my friends, and more than that. I’ve seen the good, the bad, and the ugly. Because the music is magic, I’ve always been fascinated by the world that revolves around a single note plucked from a guitar string. The amplifier calls us to gather, and we watch and listen, beginning for something original and outrageous. We ask these people to take us away from our lives for a song or an evening. The musicians are the conductors of our fantasies, not just physical, but emotional. Tell me your mind has never wandered to imagining a better life while you’ve listened to your favorite band. I’ll call you a liar.

And that’s why I write about musicians.

I am God’s gift but why would he bless me with
Such wit without a conscience equipped–Fall Out Boy, Fame < Infamy

But it’s not just the fantasy I’m interested in. I love juxtaposing it with the reality. In Because the Night, Callie knew Tristan before he was famous, and she has a hard time dealing with the changes it’s caused in him.  This wasn’t exactly fiction. A friend of mine struggled in years, playing in cover bands and tribute bands (because that’s all that really makes money if you’re playing the local circuit), and finally got a chance in a band that became successful. I’m not naming names here, but if you went to any high school anywhere in America, you’d see this guys face on at least one T-shirt. I make very subtle references to the band in Because the Night. I went to see him in this new band, and was shell shocked.  He wasn’t even the same person. Shallow, self absorbed, and just generally a jackass. It was hard to deal with, especially knowing what a funny, sweet person he used to be.

In Night Moves, you’ll meet Soul Divider. Soul Divider’s heyday has passed, but don’t tell their singer, Drake Bonham. I can’t tell you who I based him on, because like Drake, this person’s lawyers are much better than mine. He still thinks he deserves his place on the A-list, and will do anything to stay there. The rest of the band, his employees, have been forced to come along for the ride. Riding a wave to the top is fun and exciting. Trying to climb back up after falling off is soul sucking and degrading. If you’re a writer trying to get your work out there, you know how it feels to think no one gives a shit. It’s awful. You do all this work, and everyone’s all like “hey, Dino erotica!” Soul Divider understands your pain.

As these guys get older, some of them are tired of sewing their wild oats. They just want to settle down, buy a house, have some kids, and play gigs. But they’re trapped in other people’s fantasies. It’s hard to make those things agree. I have friends in this situation, too. One rock star girlfriend can’t even have a Facebook account under her own name. Fans have broken through every security feature she put on it, and posted her private info on public forums.  I blended a few musicians together to create Ryder Maddox. The guy who loves the music, but is tired of the fame. What else can he do? He’s been playing in bands his whole life. I’ve read many interviews with musicians who have had to move on. No one wants to hire them. They have no marketable skills in our world. Because they’re artists, they’ve figured out a way to persevere. But some of them have a love hate relationship with the fantasy.

These guys have everything that we mere mortals want, but does it make them happy? Not always. That’s what makes the story.

Get ready for Night Moves!! Because the Night is 99 cents until March 25!

The Most Exciting Thing You Can Do Sitting Down or A Day With Julie

TODAY’S BREW: Rainforest Crunch. This is a delightful Green Mountain flavor that my mother in law has made all nostalgic for me.

By Julie

Things in Julie Town have been EXCITING. Sitting on your bum in sweatpants, making stuff up and yet still being a part of this humongous, ever-changing literary world all day is intense. Here’s what’s happening in a frantic monologue indicative of my mind right now:

HEY WORLD, I FINISHED THE SEQUEL TO RUNNING HOME (now available for the price of a Cumberland Farms cup of coffee) AFTER 6 GODDAMN MONTHS OF TIRELESS WORK! HEY, HERE’S MY 6 MONTHS OF WORK FOR YOU 10 PEOPLE, PLEASE TELL ME WHAT YOU THINK BUT BE NICE BUT NOT TOO NICE BECAUSE I WOULDN’T WANT ALL THAT WORK TO SUCK! I’LL BE OVER HERE, EDITING THIS OTHER BOOK ABOUT SEX GODS AND OCD WHILE YOU READ! WHAT? YOU’RE ALREADY DONE? OH, YOU LIKED IT? LIKE, A LOT? LIKE MORE THAN RUNNING HOME? THAT’S FUCKING WONDERFUL! (Jumps for joy, hurts self several times). I HAVE TO SIT DOWN FROM THE INJURY AND I HAVE THESE BLOG POSTS TO DO. WAIT, WHAT, SOME REJECTIONS HAPPENED ON THAT OTHER BOOK, YOU SAY? THAT’S COOL, PAR FOR THE COURSE BUT WHAT IF I SUCK? NOPE, NONE OF THAT, NO SUCKING. BUSINESS, BABY. SHHHH NOW I HAVE TO EDIT MY OTHER OTHER BOOK AND THIS OTHER BOOK FOR THIS AWESOME WRITER WHO’S AWESOME. WAIT I’M DESPERATE TO READ THIS OTHER BOOK BY CHUCK WENDIG WHICH COUNTS NOT ONLY AS FUN BUT AS RESEARCH BUT NOW THAT I GOT FEEDBACK ON RUNNING AWAY I HAVE IDEAS FOR THE THIRD BOOK IN THE RUNNING HOME TRILOGY BUT WAIT SHUT UP BECAUSE THAT’S NOT THE NEXT BOOK I WRITE, THE NEXT BOOK I WRITE IS THIS YOUNG ADULT WITCH AND DEMON BOOK THAT I’M DYING TO PUT OUT. BUT WHAT IF I DON’T BECAUSE THE NEXT BOOK COULD TOTALLY BE THIS YOUNG ADULT HORROR I’VE ALREADY STARTED THAT PEOPLE LIKE! WAIT, THOUGH I HAVE TO EDIT THIS SEX GOD BOOK, STILL, SHUT UP! I WANT IT DONE BY THE END OF THE MONTH! BUT, BUT, BUT…..

Aaaaaand repeat a bunch of times. My points are these:

A) When treated like a job, writing and publishing becomes your job, not just your passion and hobby.

2) Rave reviews, rejections, glimmering pride and disgusting self-doubt happen all at once. Continue to see through the creative to the business end of what your creativity is worth, and the ups and downs won’t drag you into a depression; they’ll make you feel like every minute gets more exciting.

Next) Through the overwhelm, both good and not-so-good, moving forward is progress. Keep going. Move forward. Don’t allow yourself to be anything less than what you want to be. My advice to a friend today was FIND WHAT MAKES YOU SPECIAL AND EXPLOIT THE MOTHERFUCK OUT OF IT.

Next Things Last) Don’t forget what you’ve already done. I’ve got a long way to go, but I’ve written all these books, and I got the agent, and I got the one published, and it’s done really well, and I got reviewd by FEARNET.com for Chrissakes, and I made all these amazing friends and I love it. BUILD ON WHAT YOU’VE DONE.

Second Things Next) I wrote the books I had to write, no matter what happens next.

End Note First) RUNNING HOME IS CHEAP AS HELL RIGHT NOW! If I don’t sell you on it, let this review on The Bookie Monster do it. http://t.co/5BIhfZEYvN. And THEN go buy RUNNING HOME before the sequel comes out and you have to catch up, because guys. I hear that through my mania I wrote a pretty cool book. http://t.co/wXBPE87nMX.

Running Home by Julie Hutchings

http://t.co/wXBPE87nMX.
“I wanted to high five the author after reading the last line,” makes me happy, happy. (Mark Matthews, author ON THE LIPS OF CHILDREN).

NIGHT MOVES Meet the Characters: Erin

Today’s Brew: Water, it’s Sunday evening and I have to be up at 4 AM for the first time in a long time.

by Kristen

One of my favorite parts of releasing new books is introducing you to the characters. They’re people who lived inside my head for a better part of a year, talking to me, helping me tell their story. Now they’re ready for the world to meet.

NIGHT SONGS comes out March 26, so I’m going to introduce you to all major players in the book in the next few posts. If you can’t wait to own the book, which I totally can’t blame you for, it’s available for pre-order on Smashwords and Barnes and Noble!

First up: Erin Monticelli

Pink hair and tattoos Erin

Who the hell is she? Erin is Melanie’s long lost best friend from childhood, and she’s also Drake Bonham’s other woman.

What does she do? Erin is a travelling fetish model, a job she created so she could support herself while she traveled with Drake.

Travelling fetish model, you say. Yes. A photographer friend of mine that I’ve worked with forever does fetish work. He tends to work with a lot of the same models, and over the years they’ve become my friends. A lot of the girls book work all over the country, doing videos, photo shoots, conventions, and club appearances. Some of them are pretty famous in the genre. I love their confidence, not only in their bodies, but to pick up and go to where the work is. These are business women. Go ahead, tell me they can’t possibly be making any money. Sex sells, remember? And that trip I took last summer to the UK, you know the two week one? Paid for with the profit from these fetish videos.  I find the whole thing so intriguing, that I created Erin in tribute.  All of the fetishes Erin mentions in NIGHT MOVES are indeed real.

Why I love her: Erin is unapologetically the person she wants to be. Tattooed, pierced, pink haired, and hot, Erin uses this to her advantage to get what she wants. Being a sex bomb takes confidence, and Erin’s got it. It doesn’t always win her a lot of female friends, but the guys certainly don’t mind. Erin also knows that she’s working with a ticking clock. She knows she’s not going to be able to model forever, and she understands what she means to Drake, whether she likes it or not. Erin truly lives in the moment.

Erin from Night Moves. :)

Enough of me telling you about Erin, here she is in action:

“Um, yeah. Mel, you don’t know about the blood?”

“Sort of. I don’t know.” I sighed. “Tell me.”

“Have you drank from Ryder yet?”

I almost spit up my drink. “What?”

She pushed harder against my ear and spoke slowly. “Have you drank his blood?”

I pulled away from her, horrified. “Seriously?”

She dissolved into a fit of giggles. “Girl. Don’t knock it until you try it. It’s like traveling to another dimension.” She almost swooned. I still hadn’t recovered from the shock. “Words don’t describe unless you’ve experienced it. It’s like what ecstasy wishes it could be.”

“I thought people stopped doing E years ago.”

Erin rolled her eyes. “Not the drug, silly. The real thing.” Welcome To The Jungle began to blast from the PA, and the lights fell over the room, delighting the crowd. Erin grabbed my arm a little too hard. “Showtime!”

Erin got up to dance in front of the table, but I wasn’t in the mood. Ryder was in perfect character, joking and teasing the fans in front of the stage, playing the happy band mate, but it seemed obscene knowing how miserable he really was.

And the blood! How could I think about anything else? I could hear my own thrumming through my veins, my muscles clenching at the thought of drinking from Ryder.

“Let’s put on our own show.” Erin snapped me back to reality by grabbing both my arms to guide me out of the booth. I wrestled one hand free so I could bring my fresh drink along. It had been a long time since I’d put on a public performance. Who was I kidding? Before Ryder, I wasn’t even wearing cute underwear anymore.

God. Poor Jamie, he probably wished for death just so he could be rid of me. I had practically been a corpse myself.

Erin raised my hand in hers, spinning me around underneath it. She’d managed to clear out a space near the stage for our dance floor. The guys that surrounded us leered as their girlfriends looked disgusted. I wanted to run back to the table, but I knew Erin wouldn’t let me. She’d drag me right back. She shimmied down the side of my body, placing her hands on my waist to slide back up. I swayed back and forth with the rhythm in an effort to not look like a total ass.

I looked up at the stage. Drake couldn’t take his eyes off of Erin. Of course, four feet above us he had the best seat in the house. Erin’s cleavage swelled out of her black lacy corset top. A big pink bow held her in place like she was a present. I snuck a look back at her, but her eyes were locked on Drake as she nestled her butt into my hips and we rocked back and forth in unison. I looked over at Ryder and rolled my eyes. He just laughed.

I followed Erin’s routine for the rest of the concert. Our dance floor had closed in a bit, as people tired of watching our show and went back to viewing the one they paid to see. After the band took their final bow, a group of girls lingered near the stage, presumably pleading with the roadies to help them meet the band.

“They’re so stupid.” Erin threw her legs over mine. We were back in the booth, finishing off our drinks. The band usually did some sort of meet and greet after the show, so there was no need to hurry back to the bus.

Only three days into this and the bus already felt like a coffin. Windowless, airless, cramped. Of course, I was traveling with the living dead, so it made sense. Maybe Erin didn’t have it so bad in her own car. At least she could open a window.

“Hey, Erin!” A skinny, pretty girl in an off the shoulder T-shirt and torn jeans approached the table, flanked by three of her nervous looking friends.

“What’s up, Catelyn?” Erin’s body language screamed for this girl to go away louder than the fake smile she plastered on her face. “Great show, huh?”

“As always.” Catelyn looked at me, trying to figure out how I played into things. “We were just wondering if you knew about any after parties or anything.”

“Now why would I know something like that?” Erin sat up straighter. I couldn’t tell if she was offended or surprised.

“Well, you know, since you and Drake—”

Erin leaned forward, placing her hand over Catelyn’s. “Drake and I are just friends. Nothing else. I don’t know what he does. I’m just spending time with my girlfriend, like you ladies are. You know, girls’ night out.” There was a bite to her words.

Catelyn’s friends looked at each other, sharing disappointment and maybe a little disbelief. Whatever it was, they weren’t getting what they wanted at this table.

“Right, girls’ night,” Catelyn repeated, her face falling a little. “Have fun, ladies.”

The group left us to our own devices.

“Who the hell were they?”

Erin fell back, drink still in hand, rolling her eyes. “Oh they’re Soul Divider super fans. I’d call them groupies, but even Tommy won’t touch them. The band hides when they see them. They’re so pathetic. They’ll sit outside anywhere they think the band is, for hours.”

“Like we used to do?”

“Fuck no. Mel, we were never pathetic. Those girls are in their thirties. I think some of them still live at home. This is all they’ve got. I mean, at least we have reaped rewards for our hard work. They must love being frustrated. Unless they’re doing one of the roadies, gross, they certainly aren’t getting anything here.”

“Maybe that’s not what they want.”

“What the hell else would a bunch of cougars follow a band around for? I mean, don’t they want their fantasy to come true? After five or so years following them around like pathetic little puppy dogs, they should have moved up from the meet and greet line or moved on.”

“Well–” I don’t know why I felt like I should defend these girls I didn’t even know, but for some reason, I kind of felt bad for them. They obviously wanted something. From somebody. “Maybe this is their fantasy. And there are five guys in the band, and how many women trying to get in their pants? Not everyone can be successful. If everyone could have them, no one would want them.”

“I guess you’re right.” Erin slid out of the booth and smoothed her denim mini skirt. “But it’s still pathetic. I’m going to call it a night. I have a shoot in the morning.”

“In Milwaukee?”

“Nope, just outside of Chicago. That’s where you’re headed in a few hours.” She kissed my cheek. “Have fun tonight. I’ll meet up with you at the hotel tomorrow.”

“Promise you’ll be careful? This all scares the hell out of me.”

“I will. I’ve worked with this producer before.”

“Producer? Are you sure it’s not porn?”

“Porn doesn’t really have a definition.” She giggled. “You just know it when you see it.”

I gasped. “Erin!”

“No, it’s just some silly little video. You’d be shocked what gets guys off.” She turned to walk away, but looked back and me and smiled. “God, I love the sickos.”

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