Deadly Ever After

The Writing Adventures of The Undead Duo–Julie Hutchings and Kristen Strassel

Archive for the month “June, 2014”

Welcome to WIDOW TOWN by Joe Hart

joe hartTODAY’S BREW: Life Is Good S’mores Brew. Seethe with your jealousy.

By Julie

Joe Hart is my internet roommate. We would have a sitcom-worthy lifestyle. However, we settle for being wonderful friends and loving each other’s work, so I’m proud as a sonofabitch to introduce you to his latest, and Jesus H. Christ if this blurb isn’t fantastic.

In the future there is no such thing as a serial killer.
A breakthrough research project has detected an active gene present in all known psychopaths and developed a vaccine to make it completely dormant. People are inoculated at birth. Society has rejoiced the extinction of the sociopathic mind. 
There hasn’t been a serial killing in America in over forty years. 
Sheriff MacArthur Gray resides in the future but lives in the past. His world views have chased him from a large metropolis to his home town, but there is no sanctuary to be found after he arrives. 
Because people are dying and only he can see the truth. 
A sociopath has somehow survived and is thriving in the new world. Soon Gray is thrust into a nightmarish race against the killer where no one is safe, and everyone is a suspect.
Get yourself a copy of WIDOW TOWN here. http://t.co/q5NOsVfgfc and then love me for what I’ve told you to do.
Then go follow him on Twitter @AuthorJoeHart and check out his blog for some of the best flash fiction you’ll ever read http://t.co/Y0U66xfRMP. YOU’RE WELCOME.

5 Ways To Dodge Missiles In The Querying Trenches with Emmie Mears

TODAY’S BREW: Coconut crème in a can. It comes in a can, it’s so awesome.

By Julie

My delightful buddy Emmie Mears gave me the extreme pleasure of doing a guest post today, and she’s so smart it makes me look a little dumb. Please, enjoy her insight. Following this, buy her book. Go.

5 Ways to Dodge Missiles in the Query Trenches

Most writers going into querying know that rejection is involved. They even realize that it’s ubiquitous; a badge of honor among writers because it happens to everyone. Even so, when many writers start out, they don’t realize that they’re stepping onto a minefield whilst wearing snowshoes.

 

Here are five ways to ensure you’re not going in blindfolded as well.

 

5. Know what you’re up against.

 

The average agent gets between 100-1000 queries…per week. Yeah, you read that right. Per WEEK. Agent Suzie Townsend, when she used to do weekly query roundups, regularly reported between 500-900 queries each Friday. That’s just her. Not her whole agency. Because of that, agents read queries really quickly, which means you have to do a few things. At a bare minimum, you have to not immediately turn them off. Then you have to hook them. The former is simple enough; the latter can be tricky. The biggest thing to wrap your mind around as a new querier is that no matter how life-changing you think your book is, it’s competing against thousands of others.

 

4. Know what you have.

 

My debut was “Adult urban fantasy, complete at 88,000 words.” That one sentence told agents a lot that they needed to know. Which category (adult), which genre (urban fantasy), that it was indeed finished (it MUST be finished), and the word count (not 500K). If you can’t wedge your book into a statement like the above, you will need to assess why. While sometimes genre-bending books will sell huge and quick, the more common reality is that agents and editors all know that booksellers have to shelve books somewhere. If you’re going traditional, there are word count norms for each genre that new authors especially ought to keep in mind.

 

3. Know who you’re querying.

 

This ties into the whole “not immediately turning agents off” thing. This means doing your research. There are fantastic resources out there, from Query Tracker to the Absolute Write forums and blogs as well as Writer’s Digest’s Guide to Literary Agents. Once you know what you have, make sure you research agents who are looking for just that. My own agent has told me that she gets a huge percentage of queries each week that just aren’t things she represents, like middle grade when she only reps YA and adult.

 

2. Follow directions.

 

Agents will all have submission guidelines. If they ask for the first five pages in the body of the email with the query, send exactly that. Don’t send an attachment unless they explicitly tell you to. Follow exactly what they say to do, because your query is the very first impression they have of you. If you’re querying agents, it’s because you probably want a traditional publishing deal. Going against guidelines tells them that you either didn’t care to read them, or that you read them and ignored them. Neither of those things make a good first impression in this business.

 

1. Write an excellent book.

 

Then do it again. The best way to be successful in querying is to write a fantastic book. Write something fresh and unique. That means knowing what’s out there in your genre so you know yours has a place and doesn’t retread the same paths other books have taken. It means learning your craft and being willing to revise and rewrite. It means being willing to take criticism and rejection. It means trying each day to be better.

 

Once you feel confident that the book you’re going to query is the best it can be, it’s time to write the next one. When I got my agent, I not only had the book in hand that she signed me for, but I had another manuscript finished (well, technically, three other manuscripts). When we got the offer on my debut, we were able to immediately start subbing my other manuscript. I have another one in the wings now. If you want to make noveling your career, you have to keep doing it. Sometimes first books don’t sell. Often, actually. And when they do, you want to have something else ready.

 

While the advice here might seem simple, any agent will tell you that a huge number of queriers don’t follow it. Simply doing these things sets you apart from thousands of writers in the query trenches — and means agents will associate your name with professionalism and respect, even if they pass on your manuscript.

 

Bio:

Emmie Mears was born in Austin, Texas, where the Lone Star state promptly spat her out at the tender age of three months. After a childhood spent mostly in Alaska, Oregon, and Montana, she became a proper vagabond and spent most of her time at university devising ways to leave the country.

Except for an ill-fated space opera she attempted at age nine, most of Emmie’s childhood was spent reading books instead of writing them. Growing up she yearned to see girls in books doing awesome things, and struggled to find stories in her beloved fantasy genre that showed female heroes saving people and hunting things. Mid-way through high school, she decided the best way to see those stories was to write them herself. She now scribbles her way through the fantasy genre, most loving to pen stories about flawed characters and gritty situations lightened with the occasional quirky humor.

Emmie now lives in her eighth US state, still yearning for a return to Scotland. She inhabits a cozy domicile outside DC with two felines who think they’re lions and tigers.

 

You can preorder THE MASKED SONGBIRD here (http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00JD7TWZK)! Released in a box set, you get four great paranormal and urban fantasy books for less than $4!

 

Follow Emmie on Twitter @EmmieMears and join her on Facebook!

 

 

Emmie Mears

 
 
Author of THE MASKED SONGBIRD (Harlequin 2014)

The Night Songs Collection: This Is The Remix

Today’s Brew: I’m off coffee for the rest of the day. I’ll be setting my alarm for 3 AM, because my job is just that glamorous.

by Kristen

I have a confession to make.

I’ve been keeping things from you.  Not bad things, I just wasn’t ready to spill it yet.  But now I am.

I separated from my agent. My decision. Nothing bad happened, we’re still on good terms.  I will always appreciate the fact that Pam gave me my writing wings, and I know I wouldn’t be in this place if I never had her as an agent. I just wanted to take things in a different direction. The more I explored writing and publishing, the more I realized that right now, indie publishing is best for me.  I’ve known this for a while, but when I really wanted to self-publish a book more than even try to shop it around to publishers, I knew I had my answer.

Will I try the traditional route again? Maybe someday, if it’s right. Will I want another agent?  Not right now, but again, I’m leaving all my options open.  It’s exciting.  I have a lot of news to tell you about.

  • BECAUSE THE NIGHT and NIGHT MOVES are temporarily unavailable right now. BECAUSE THE NIGHT was re-edited and both books are getting new covers. Guys, they’re fucking awesome. I can’t wait to show them to you.  (Want to participate in the reveal?  Click here.)  Hang Le designed the covers and she knocked it out of the park. The books will rerelease July 12, and I’ll be doing a ton of fun promo that day.  I’ll tell you more about it that week.
  • WE OWN THE NIGHT is still releasing September 1, to correlate with the Audible release.  The cover reveal is also July 12, and you know, you should really sign up to participate.  🙂  It’s on Goodreads now.
  • Remember that book I said I wanted to self-publish?  Yeah, that’s happening.  It’s a contemporary romance, a new genre for me.  It’s called SECONDHAND HEART, and I’m looking to release it in October.  It features a 21-year-old military widow and a failed reality show star who’ve both come home (to my hometown) to start over.
  • That doesn’t mean the end of The Night Songs Collection.  In November, SILENT NIGHT, a book with new characters in the Night Songs world, will be released.  My elevator pitch for this book is Pretty Woman meets Dracula at Christmas Eve Mass.

So like I said, I had some news. It’s going to be a busy few months and I can’t wait to share it all with you.

 

The Education of Intern Sara: Self Reflection Maya Angelou & Rereading Old Favorites

I feel fortunate to have experienced many of life’s joys and privileges and yet I still want more. Enter reading. Reading is that gift that the world has offered us that allows us to fill in those gaps and allows us to experience things that we wouldn’t experience otherwise. We are able to see places, learn things, and react to moments that weren’t meant for us. Maya Angelou’s life was exceptional, beyond what most of us will ever experience, and although I’m glad that I haven’t experienced her pain, there’s something to be said for being able to take that journey with her.

 

I read Maya Angelou’s first book, “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings,” in my late teens and was completely captivated by her words and her story. Decades later, I can still see many of the images she painted in my mind as if they were my own. Some of her memories are full of heart and charm while others are haunting and painful, but all are vivid and will forever live alongside my own memories.

 

I was heartbroken, last month when I heard that she had passed away. I also felt a little guilty. Before I ever finished her reading her first book, I knew I wanted to read it again. I felt that way about all of her books and had promised myself I would at the very least reread “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” and “Singin’ and Swingin’ and Gettin’ Merry like Christmas” because they were my favorites. At several points every year, I tell myself I will do it. I used to own all of Maya’s autobiographies and in my desire to share her words with others, I lent them out never to see them again. I wondered if I should repurchase them or borrow them from the library. Should I get paperback or hardcover? Should it be a hard-copy or digital?” Decades had passed and I was still asking myself those questions. I had yet to reread either book.

 

Within days of Maya Angelou’s passing, I decided I just needed to go to the library and get them. “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” was waiting for me on the shelf. The library gods had decided that I should start at the beginning and as soon as I got home, I started rereading.

 

Her words were as beautiful as I remembered but in spite of this, I knew that I wasn’t going to finish reading her book. I only read five chapters and then put it down. I may not remember everything, but I know that a lot of terrible things happened to her as a child and I wasn’t ready to re-experience that. I put the book down and haven’t picked it up since. I’m not sure that I will, at least not for a while.

 

I guess as much as I love this book, and as much as I’d like to read it again, there is something inside me that knows that I’m not ready yet. It is more powerful than I am and I need to respect that. Maya Angelou and her caged bird will have to wait. Perhaps I will have better luck singin’ and swingin’ with her, only time will tell.

 

I may not have reread Maya Angelou yet, but I did make good on two other promises. There are four books that I count as my favorites. In addition to Maya Angelou’s autobiographies are Mick Fleetwood’s, “My Life and Adventures in Fleetwood Mac” and Dolly Parton’s, “My Life and Other Unfinished Business.” I made good on my promise and reread them both, one after the other.

 

Are they still great books? Absolutely. Are they still my favorites? I’m not sure. I experienced them so differently this time. They were wonderful, but there was nothing shocking or new about them. These were stories that I had read before. Perhaps that’s why I was afraid of rereading them and perhaps that’s why it took me over two decades to do so. It’s only new the first time and two decades of life experiences will alter your opinion about things.

 

Perhaps when I reread Maya, hers will no longer be my favorite books either. Who knows? I just know that I am not ready to find out. Perhaps I’m meant to discover new favorites or perhaps this is my time to just write.

 

Here’s to making time for writing, making time for reading, and finding new favorites.

Cover Reveal: DRAWN TO YOU by Angi Black

Today’s Brew: Blueberry Bliss

by Kristen

Angi Black is awesome for many reasons, but there’s one that I can lay claim to that only one other person can: she was my roommate at RT. Angi lived in Louisana, and I couldn’t ask for a better tour guide for my trip to New Orleans!  Although, now every time I think of her, I think of those bourbon milk shakes we had as soon as we got to the city. Sigh.

Enough about me and booze. Angi’s got a book coming out.  Today we reveal the cover.

Drawn To You Ebook Cover (1)

College life is a breath of fresh air for 20 year old Ellie Baylor, a painfully shy but beautiful art major. She has her canvas and charcoal and that’s more than enough. Her choice to go to school far from home and the watchful eye of her strict parents seems like the perfect thing for smooth sailing into an easy life. But when River Daniels, a charming artist with eyes the color of hot chocolate, asks her to join him in a project for class, Ellie may get more than just an A. She might find out how to live.
DRAWN TO YOU comes out August 19th anywhere and everywhere ebooks are sold.
Author bio:
Author shot
Angi Black is a dancer, a singer, a pirate, a poet. One of those is a lie. She writes New Adult and Adult and owns her own editing business, Wise Owl Words. She also teaches dance and theater all while baking treats and greening up the world around her. She loves music and donuts. She’s Team Damon and her muse is Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Gene Kelley. Whedonite. Coffee. Ambassador of Awesome. Bourbon. Beatles. Zeppelin. Mraz. Queen of useless trivial knowledge. Betty White is her spirit animal. Her patronus is a chorus of back-up dancers singing Don’t Rain on my Parade. Angi blogs at The Writer Diaries, All The Write Notes, and Indie Ignites. She even has a fancy website.
Links:

The WereMerUnicorn That is the Perfect Writing Time

TODAY’S BREW: Pumpkin Pie Coolatta! THAT IS A THING.

By Julie

Oh, summer. Your blazing death rays and constant reminder that I should be Doing Things is nigh.

This girl is a lover of rain and cold. The hoodie and the hot coffee, curled up with a book or a movie, scribbling away in a notebook about all the new ideas that the bright colors outside framed against the iron gray sky sparked in me.

Things that do not mix well with me: HOT, BRIGHT AND LOUD.

Not to mention that I am the twenty-four hour entertainment system in place for Bennett starting in 5 days. Any semblance of a writing schedule I had is as lost as the sweatpants I won’t be able to bear for the next three months. That being said, I’m actually…..looking forward to summer a little this year??

The kids are of the age where we can do things together that don’t necessarily involve me carrying a caravan of supplies with me. Parents, you know what I’m talking about. This also involves not having to carry a child. This is the first year I haven’t had to do it in too many.

But the writing and editing. This needs to have a place in my life every single day. My former go-to schedule of waking up at 5 to get things done before the kids wake up is not going to work every day this summer, what with Sam’s sleep habits which are another story altogether. I’m too exhausted at the end of the day to write anything of quality, but I can edit at that time. I have the senses about me to do that well.

But if I can’t write in the morning, and I can’t write in the afternoon because I’m Doing Things, and I can’t write at night–

WHEN THE HELL DO I WRITE?

I love a schedule. Routine and me are the best of friends. Change and me? Not as much. But you not what I love more than routine and what is more important than holding a grudge against change in my day? My writing. This book that I’m working on. They’re critical in my life.

I’m coming to realize that having a cut-out writing time is something I may not have the luxury of this summer. Then I realized–I haven’t had cut-out writing time for a looooooong tiiiiiiime. But I still write.

THEN I realized that like parenting and eating and breathing, writing finds its way into my day one way or another, forcing itself out there like that cougar neighbor of yours who never quits.

AND THEN I realized that the perfect writing time is just like having the perfect writing space–free of toys, clear of a stack of bills, with your favorite comfy blanket and your favorite pen and your favorite songs playing and your favorite unicorn riding into the sunset while you have your favorite piece of pizza delivered to you by your favorite Robert Downey Jr. THIS IS ALL A LIE THAT WILL NEVER HAPPEN AND IF IT EVER DID YOU ARE SO LUCKY. The Perfect Writing Space is a MYTH, people. Even if you are lucky enough to have this tranquil nook that you can escape to in order to spill out the words, once you get there, the words are GONE. Or you’re too tired to do it. Or you’d rather read and be on social media. I KNOW IT’S TRUE, I SEE YOU ON TWITTER.

My routine this summer is going to be digging for the treasure of that 1000 words a day between going to the park, the beach, Walmart, Anywhere Air Conditioned, not to mention the Things That Keep Your Home Somewhat Liveable. So, I’ll be the mom at the park writing like a fiend under a tree BECAUSE MY KIDS CAN PLAY FREELY NOW. I’ll be writing notes that I can type in faster than fast later that night while they eat dinner. I’ll be reading, because reading is the first half of writing–at the park, in line, in the car while they nap after all that playing and having fun with Mama.

This book I’m writing is non-negotiable. It’s screaming for air. And I’ve long since learned that showing your kids that you have a passion is as important in parenting as playing Legos with them. They need to see me say when we get home, “All right, Mama needs one half hour (which will become 15 minutes) to write. Time me!” And I’ll be running word sprints with them. Reporting into them what I’ve gotten done as much as I do Twitter. It’s all an experiment, but so is writing and parenting.

The moral of the story, those of you who dread summer as much as love it, is that your feelings on how much you need to write or do whatever it is that makes your heart tick, needs to be weaker than your determination to do it. Get yourself into Creation Survival Mode. Be Spartan in what you need to get it done. And see how bare your art comes out and how clean you feel when it’s done.

The Education of Intern Sara: Lessons Learned from Tom and Jerry [part one]

I’ve had many favorite cartoons over the years, He-man, Jem, and the one with that little boy Simon who had a piece of chalk (if you’re old enough you’ll know who I’m talking about). All fantastic, truly, but there’s one show that I’ve always adored and have never stopped watching and that show is “Tom and Jerry.”

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, there’s something to be said for a tiny little mouse that has been outwitting a cat nearly twenty times his size for seventy-four years. Seventy-four years!!! What is it about this duo that makes them so compelling. The thing that really blows my mind is that neither Tom nor Jerry speak (okay, I remember a voice coming out of Tom once or twice, it always surprises and me and always kinda bums me out). You do hear dialogue from b-characters like Spike the Dog, (and another dog called Butch who looks suspiciously like Spike), faceless humans, little ducky, and that cute little baby mouse but don’t ever speak and they are the ones telling the story.

So here’s the thing, this show has been on in many iterations for over seven decades, with little to no dialogue, relying on a visual story, and often some pretty great music. As a TV producer (what I do in my other life) I’m always in awe of fellow producers, writers and directors who create such iconic characters and keep them fresh generation after generation. It’s a feather I would love to have in my cap so I’ve decided that “Tom and Jerry” is worthy of a good study. I’ve also decided that whatever I learn MUST be useful to me not only as a producer, but also as a writer. After all, dialogue or no dialogue, someone has been writing these episodes for a very long time. I’m on the hunt for a connection between writing a script for a non-verbal animated television show and writing a book. Hopefully it won’t be a fool’s errand.

So and exciting thing happened a couple of weeks ago. I was watching my daily dose of the mouse and cat duo (see how I did that, I noted the mouse first, he’s where it’s at) and I saw what was possibly the coolest episode of “Tom and Jerry.” Even better, it looked like a really old episode that I had never seen before. I can’t even remember the last time that that happened. I feel like I’d seen all the classics. At any rate, the universe smiled upon me and gifted me an airing of an episode called, “The Tom and Jerry Cartoon Kit”

It starts with a narrator saying,

“Anyone can now enter the lucrative field of animated cartoons with the new Tom and Jerry cartoon kit.”

Oh my God! I’m dying. I sooooo want this kit! It’s a cartoon box (naturally) filled with the following;

ó A cat aka Tom

ó A mouse aka Jerry

ó A cartoon slice of watermelon (why does cartoon food always look like it tastes so damn good?)

ó Assorted tools/weapons (a hammer, some dynamite…)

ó A tea cup and saucer filled with steaming hot tea, along with a packet of sugar and a spoon for stirring (again, why does cartoon food always look like so damn good?

ó And what looks like a pack of cigarettes (can you imagine adding that to a cartoon nowadays? Sheesh!)

The narrator continues, 

“This kit contains everything needed for quiet, sophisticated humor. One mean, stupid, cat, one sweet, lovable, mouse, and assorted deadly weapons. The coffee and cigarettes are for the cartoonists. Just follow the simple instructions.”

I’m dying. The secrets to their success are about to be revealed. Ready for it?

The narrator continues once more,

“Just follow the simple instructions. First put the sweet, lovable, mouse into a simple situation expressing a natural human need, such as eating a piece of watermelon contained in our kit.”

Oh, that’s what the watermelon is for. Gotcha.

“The result may not make sense but it will last long enough to make you comfortable before the feature begins.”

Thank you very much Mr. Narrator, I will take over from here… 

Jerry eats said watermelon and spits the seeds out machine gun style hitting Tom in the head with every last one (remember watermelon seeds, you don’t really see those much anymore do you, I digress).

Tom then goes after Jerry with the hammer supplied in the kit, but instead of hitting him with the hammer, he flicks him in the butt with his finger (weird, I know) and this causes Jerry to accidentally swallow a mouth full of seeds.

Soon he realizes his body is making maracas type sounds and he starts dancing to generate said sounds to accompanying music. He dances his way into a canister being held by Tom who decides it his turn to do a short dance sequence. When his homemade maracas stops working, he opens it up to see what’ happening and Jerry sprays him with the seeds that were just in his belly (gross).

Next there’s a chase which leads Jerry to a book called, “Judo For Mice” which he speed-reads. There’s some cat-and-mouse judo action, followed by a short scene where Tom goes to a boxing gym, and trains to be a great boxer, and then there’s some cat-and-mouse Judo/Boxing action. Actually, that never really happens, Tom showboats all his fancy boxing moves and wears himself out before he ever hits Jerry.

Next Tom pulls a knife on Jerry but he is unsuccessful. Finally he decides to fight fire with fire and goes to Judo school and graduates with degree in hand.

Now it’s on!

Jerry demonstrates his Judo skills by breaking a wooden board with his hand.

Tom takes it to the next level and breaks a brick with his hand.

Next, Jerry breaks a cement block with his hand.
Finally, Tom tries to outdo Jerry by attempting to break a massive piece of marble in two with his hand.

Sadly this never happens because the floor caves in from the weight of it all.

The narrator returns and tells us,

“Our next film will be for the kiddies and will demonstrate a new poison gas. Thank you and good night.”

The audience gets closure when Jerry finds the lid of the cartoon kit box and slaps it on a defeated and nearly passed out Tom.

HILARIOUS! Not to mention wildly inappropriate for children. Maybe it’s better that I don’t remember seeing this episode as a kid. At any rate, we have a few tips here about what it takes to set up a great story and how to keep the audience entertained but I’ve decided that this requires further study. For one thing, paying attention to an episode to break it down kinda takes the joy out of it but if it gets me the answers I’m looking for, the sacrifice will be worth it. I’ll also say that I realize that reading a play-by-play transcript of a cartoon show was probably equally, if not more painful to you my reader and for that I apologize. That being said, I still believe that there’s something to be learned here. For one thing, if I had intended to write this episode as a book, instead of just giving you a play-by-play of the action, I would have had to think A LOT more about what was happening between these characters and describe it much more differently. I would have to SHOW you what they were doing so you could conjure the images in your mind instead of just telling you what happened. I would also have to give you a sense of who they are, and why they are there together. I took the liberty of assuming that you know who Tom is, what he looks like, how he feels about Jerry and so on.

If there’s a connection to be made between a television script for a no-dialogue program and a book that relies entirely on words to tell a story, I will find it. I don’t have all of the answers right now, but I’m taking the journey, and I’ll send you postcards along the way. Oh, and I also promise to spare you the play-by-play on any more episodes. 

Fun Facts About this Episode

The age rating on this cartoon according to my satellite provider is “5” and notes that it may be “iffy for 5+” 

This episode had a copyright date of MCMLXII (which I believe is 1962)

Kristen’s Work At Home Survival Guide

Today’s Brew:  Iced Blueberry, because the humidity is at least one hundred and fifteen percent.

by Kristen

workathome

Working at Home. It’s the new American Dream. Rolling out of bed, drinking  all the coffee, answering calls and sending emails in your pajamas. Making your own hours, and not answering to anyone. Everyone I talk to thinks their lives would improve infinitely if they were able to do this. I’ve been doing it for eight and half years now, running my own makeup business, and now I’m starting all over again with writing.  If you’re published or looking to be published, congratulations, you are a small business owner, even more so if you’re indie publishing.

Sure, I’m my own boss. But working for myself I’ve never less been my own boss. A lot of people want to strike out on their own as a way to stick it to The Man, but the reality of life is The Man has money. Even if  extreme wealth isn’t your end goal, I can guarantee survival is. You need to build a clientele, or a readership, and your schedule is very likely going to reflect the needs of whoever you are working to attract.  At first, because things like food and a place to live are sexy, you’re going to be working around the job that provides those things for you.

Here are my tips for keeping yourself sane and productive on your own schedule:

  • Take care of yourself. The difference between “OMG I don’t have to wear PANTS!” and “OMG my armpits smell like that?” is approximately twenty four hours, not that I’d know for sure, of course. If you’re not seeing clients on a regular basis, it is easy to slip into extreme personal laziness. Why does this even matter? Because when you feel gross, you’re not going to do your best work.  Some people suggest getting dressed in regular clothes every day that you’re working from home, but I won’t go that far. Just take a frigging shower. And stay out of the kitchen. Eventually, you’re going to have to wear pants again, and it would be nice if they still fit.
  • Set a schedule. This might be easier said than done. As a freelancer, I have to be available all the time. Jobs come in last minute. I’ll get text messages or phone calls about work, and if I’m not the first one to answer, I might not get the job. But there are things I can control. If it’s not urgent, it can wait. Between the two jobs, I will start days I’m not on location by doing makeup work first, answering emails, sending invoices, and taking care of my kit. I like to take a break between switching gears to writing. Sometimes that means doing things around the house, getting out of the house, or my absolute favorite, taking a nap. My boss lets me sleep on the job. Once I go into writing mode, I’m not doing makeup stuff, and vice versa.
  • Hold yourself accountable. If you work for yourself, no one cares if you don’t get things done. I hate doing bookkeeping, and I will push it off until it’s this big nasty chore. If I keep it manageable, it doesn’t suck so much. I could write every day, or I could wait for my muse to show up. The time is going to pass whether I’m productive or not. But–
  • Take time for yourself. When you’re chasing your dream job, it’s easy to get so wrapped up in it that you don’t do anything else. First of all, all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. Secondly, you will burn out. This one goes hand in hand with making a schedule. You should be either on or off. But—
  • Learn to say no. You know those “what everyone thinks I do” memes, well when you work at home, everyone thinks you do nothing all day. It doesn’t matter if you’re pulling in six figures. You’re home, which means you are available. To them. Not so fast. Sure, the occasional lunch is fun (take time for yourself), but when it includes two martinis, and a trip to the mall, you’re not taking yourself seriously, and no one else will, either. As a second piece to this, you don’ t have to say yes to every work opportunity that comes your way, either. Not everything is going to move your business forward. But–
  • Take chances. You’re doing this because you want better for yourself than other people you can give you, right? Well, then you need to seek new opportunities and find new ways to solve old problems. Do what’s right for you, and don’t worry what other people, as long as your work is getting done.
  • Stay organized. A dedicated office might be a pipe dream. I have an office, but it’s also my guest room, and my storage room. Julie’s office is a table in the living room.  Make sure your work space works for you. Receipts are the bane of my existence, and I don’t always have the chance to record them, or file invoices until I have a bookkeeping day. You know how I feel about those. File folders and manila are my friend. I can keep everything in one place until I can get to it, and I can also find it when I need it. Just like the shower thing, you’re not going to do your best work in clutter.
  • Enjoy what you do.  Dude, you could get hit by a bus tomorrow. If you don’t like what you’re doing, find what makes you happy. And do that instead.

 

 

 

Top Ten Tuesday: My Best Books for 2014 (So Far)

THIS PREVENTED ME FROM THROWING HOT COFFEE INTO TUESDAY MORNING’S FACE. So happy I could cry.

Cassandra Page

toptentuesday

Today’s Top Ten Tuesday theme is the ten best books I’ve read so far this year. This is a hard one, you guys, like they’re asking me to choose between my children. (Of course, in reality I only have one child, but that’s NOT THE POINT!)

So, grudgingly, here they are — listed in alphabetical order. I mention this because it’s hard to make this list as it is; asking me to prioritise it internally is just too cruel.

Now, two of these books are not currently available, due to the collapse of a certain, lame small press earlier in the year. I realise this sucks for you, because they are awesome — but I fully intend to shout from the rooftops when they come back to us. And one of them is already on the way.

CinderCinder by Marissa Meyer. Take Cinderella, stick her in a future Earth and…

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Making Feelings Go Away: Undeaditing Advice

TODAY’S BREW: The end of the Coconut Crème. So, run as fast as you can.

By Julie

I’ve been having a blast doing Undeaditing. Reading the works of others is an inspiration in itself, and having the opportunity to take those voices and really exploit them the way the writer wants to do, but needs help with is an amazing feeling. I get grossly enthusiastic about it. There’s a lot of swearing and all caps and all the good kind that make everyone happy.

I’m grateful to be asked for editing advice often, and a friend suggested I start giving some here. Just in casies. So here’s a quickie:

SHOW VERSUS TELL: THE UBER BITCH.

There’s always a way to make your work more visual without describing everything. That’s not exactly what I’m talking about here. This is about your characters, and how you can show me how they feel without telling me how they feel, and not have to revise your entire goddamn book.

The two biggest offenders of telling about feelings in my opinion are it felt like and it seemed like.

It didn’t feel like there were a hundred rain clouds pouring on her; “a hundred rain clouds poured misery on me.” Boom.

It didn’t seem like they never wanted him around; “Every turn of their shoulders when I came near, every dark stare when I opened my mouth told me all I needed to know about how wanted I was.”

Eliminating it felt like and it seemed like from your manuscript is a lot easier than you’d think. Simplify it for yourself. Don’t overthink it. If the sentence is, “It felt like my heart would burst with love for him,” a simple “My heart burst with love for him” will suffice.

And as in writing, also in blogging, conciseness is key today. Now, go my little chickens, and take out a thousand it felt likes and it seemed likes out of your book until you have a CHRIST IS OUR LORD-sized pamphlet left.

 

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