Deadly Ever After

Archive for the category “Running Home”

The Not-Really Death of the Duo by Julie

TODAY’S BREW: the delightfully artificial Dunkins Hazelnut, home brewed

By Julie

NOBODY DIED, BE QUIET.

And the Undead Duo are still the best of friends, Hangover-style.

three best friends.gif

….but there’s two of us. But like that. I think I’m Bradley Cooper.

Kristen and I still hang out all the time, we text hourly, I babysit her bird, she deals with me. But this blog started when we decided to embark on the journey of publishing together, many moons ago.

Then we did that.

Now we both are still all in with publishing, but we took different routes. Kristen went indie far sooner than I caught on to do. Because guys. You guys. Traditional publishing is not my bag, baby. I just plain cannot deal with trying to please people that aren’t my readers. Kristen figured out a long time ago that indie was better, more in contact with her readers and actually made her some money.

I never claimed to be the smart one.

While Kristen forayed more toward romance and paranormal (check her out here: http://www.kristenstrassel.com/), I went weirder. Big shocker, I know.

Part of our journey together was kicking the baby out of the nest. Wait. You know what I mean. Now it’s time for me to stop clinging to Deadly Ever After, and acknowledging myself as an indie author! Which I’m excited to do! Because while Kristen and I are still a duo in every sense of the word, as an individual, I’m THIS:

my pretty scary logo

I AM PRETTY SCARY. I AM BOTH PRETTY AND SCARY AND PRETTY SCARY. AND I WRITE PRETTY BOOKS WITH SCARY INSIDES AND SCARY BOOKS WITH PRETTY INSIDES.

COME TO MY NEW BLOG, PLEASE. https://juliehutchingsauthorblog.wordpress.com/  There will be cake and sharks and swordfights.

Here be my newsletter, which I think you should sign up for, but go THIS WAY because if you go THIS WAY through Instafreebie, you can get a RUNNING HOME companion short story for FREEEEEEEEEEEEEE.

Instafreebie is awesome, by the way.

Pretty Scary Author News will tell you everything I’m cooking up, and guys. It’s coming along super fantastically. But it takes a little time, so be patient. Still going a helluva lot faster than traditional.

Still bother me @HutchingsJulie on Twitter. You can get all the links you want from me personally if you so desire.

This is not the end of things, it’s new things. And I’ll probably still pop by here because NOSTALGIA. But I’m also a don’t look-backer. Get that damn newsletter, and chase me around like a butcher and a turkey on Thanksgiving.

Love you all and thank you for continuing to be a part of my party!

The Joy of Not Playing Well With Others by Julie

TODAY’S BREW: End of April Vacation Quadruple Shots

By Julie

It’s been a very long time since I gave attention here, and I’m not sorry.

What I am is pleased with myself, overwhelmed and afraid in the best way, and focused, and that means eliminating things that draw my attentions away from THE THING. And THE THING is all-encompassing, my path has a solid plan that relies on pretty much all ME. What I didn’t expect is that taking control of my publishing career by myself with the extreme helping and guidance of Kristen, is LESS overwhelming than publishing traditionally. Sure, there’s lots to do–but I control it, I choose who helps me, who I outsource, the direction we all take.

It lets me be the leader I am while being the artist I am, and it brings a calm that no amount of THINGS TO DO can undermine.

I separated from Books of the Dead Press in January, taking back my rights to RUNNING HOME and RUNNING AWAY. Another publisher tried harder than hard to buy out those contracts, but Books of the Dead wasn’t having it. Now that I’ve taken them on my own, I find that I don’t want to go through a publisher with them–I want to do it myself. I wouldn’t finish the trilogy because of my displeasure with my contract, and now? I can. CRAWLING BACK will be coming out the end of the summer. I’m making it happen. And that doesn’t have to be the end of that world, I can do whatever the hell I want with it.

WAIT I CAN DO WHATEVER THE HELL I WANT PERIOD THE END OH MY GOD.

And that was when I decided that I was going to stop shopping around for agents with my YA, THE WIND BETWEEN WORLDS, which had a lot of success as far as querying goes, being requested in full by a lot of agents that made me go EEEEEEEEEEE, but it was never quite right for them. I harbor ZERO resentment for that, by the way–I have long since said, since the start of writing, that getting an agent, publishing, is a business. Whether or not an agent feels the connection with me, with my books, is crucial to their ability to sell it. If they can’t sell it, what the hell is the point?

Confession: I hated from day one pandering to agents. The minutia of knowing their likes and dislikes personally, the confines of it all…it’s doesn’t sell books for me to know how many cats the agent has. These are representative of some of the reasons I left retail. It reminds me of regional manager visits: HURRY THE HELL UP, THE STORE LOOKS GOOD FOR ME BUT THE REGIONAL MANAGER LIKES A DIFFERENT SCENT CLEANER AND ALL THE BRA STRAPS TO FACE LEFT I KNOW THE LAST ONE LIKED THIS SCENT BUT THAT SCENT IS DEAD TO YOU NOW YOU HEAR ME MINIMUM WAGE WORKER THIS REGIONAL MANAGER LIKES LEMON GODDAMMIT AND THE COMPANY WILL FAIL IF WE DON’T DO WHAT SHE LIKES.

I don’t like that. I do not.

Aaaaaanyway, the fact of the matter was, even with agents still reading THE WIND BETWEEN WORLDS, I started planning on releasing it myself. It will be out on Halloween of this year–the birthdays of the five witches that this book is about, and I cannot wait for you all to love them. Not to toot my own horn, but my early readers like this book a lot. Like, a lot. (side note: if reviews roll in when I publish saying THIS BOOK IS THE WORST THING, THESE CHARACTERS ARE EVERYTHING I HATE IN LIFE AND I HATE EVERYTHING, I will still stand by it being a damn good book. It’s the way I want it. This is why reviews and rejections have never bothered me. I only put out the book as I want it. The end.)

I’m sick of goddamn waiting. I don’t write to play by someone else’s rules, I write for readers. I write for me. I write to connect with that person who needs my special brand of soap-box-standing, I do not write for an agent’s cat or an editor’s preferred scent of cleaning materials. You know what I mean.

I say this still having a book with a publisher. (You all may remember mention of a book I couldn’t get enough of writing, THE HARPY? Yeah, it’s still not out.) Have I mentioned that I’m tired of waiting? HINT HINT TO ANYONE WHO MAY BE READING.

Publishing traditionally is the dream. It is for every writer, I don’t care who you are. You dream of the phone call with the big contract news, the interviews on talk shows, the movie deal. You do. But for me, my dream changed. I control it now. The thing about self-pubbing that I love, that became the new dream for me, is that it means I believe in my ability to do it. It has RISK. A couple of years ago I wouldn’t have dreamed of putting out money for my own cover, my own editing, my own formatting. What if I didn’t sell a single copy and never made a penny back? Now? I know that just plain isn’t going to happen to me. I believe in my ability, my voice, my potential, my plan, my determination, my vision, my stories, my power. It doesn’t require a backup plan. THAT is my dream.

So now, yes. I undertake all the things that have frightened me in the past about putting out my own work. Formatting? What? Terrifying. Cover artists? There are so many, and what the hell do I know and how do I narrow it down to them? Algorithms? That sounds like math. Mailing lists? I thought people hated that. But now I choose what works for me, I choose the timeline and I give work to freelancers that I want to support. It’s all me, bro.

Of course, because I’m me, I do nothing halfway. I have planners that detail every second of my publishing path (which, by the way, I plan time for to update and mold every month, because nothing goes according to plan), I read every book that I love, every indie author’s advice (which I then pick over accordingly), all while still editing for clients and writing books and being Mom and Scholastic chairperson, and reptile owner. It leaves little time that I want to dedicate to other stuff, and I’m perfectly fine with that.

However, I do miss the following things:

  • haircuts
  • eye exams
  • physical exams
  • the gym
  • meals

(my next post will be on self care and how I try sadly to do it and fail.)

In conclusion, I’ve been absent because I’ve changed my path, and with that comes a change in ways. And I’m so happy about it. But I want to include you, and now I feel like I have enough of a handle on things that it can be done. So thanks for sticking around, because you guys. I have good stuff on the way. My plan? My end result? By the end of the year, I’ll have out a minimum of 5 books.

  1. RUNNING HOME as I wanted it to be. (June 30th)
  2. RUNNING AWAY and you’ll actually be able to hold it in your hands. (July 31st)
  3. CRAWLING BACK which has been withheld from you for so long (August 31st)
  4.  THE WIND BETWEEN WORLDS (October 31st)
  5. THE DEPTH OF OUR DARKNESS Book 2, The Wind Between Worlds (November 30th)

And this doesn’t account for THE HARPY which frankly, I have big plans for that may not come to fruition until 2018, as well as a couple of novellas in the RUNNING HOME series that I want for my mailing list folks. When I make a mailing list.

I am not without fault, folks. Mailing lists SCARE ME. (All mailing list advice welcome.)

The cool thing is, this is all going to happen, people. It IS happening. Thanks for supporting me and my books, and I promise not to let you down.

 

The Zen of Kicking Ass with Julie

TODAY’S BREW: I took Juan Valdez’s donkey and I just squeezed.

By Julie

I missed you guys.

Blogging for me was a business strategy. Kristen and I wanted to make it as writers and knew we needed a platform. I had no idea that blogging would bring out a new side of me as a writer, one that connected to a community sometimes with my ugliest side(s).

So stepping away from blogging for so long, when I had been meticulous with the schedule was very, very difficult. But I couldn’t do it all anymore. I couldn’t blog once or twice a week, write a book–no, two books!–no, three books! I CAN WRITE A HUNDRED BOOKS AT ONCE!, edit for clients (which is the same amount of energy as writing a book), run the Scholastic book fair, be Most Involved Mom Ever and survive. I had a nervous breakdown, which I did a post about. My last post, actually.

But guys, things are better. Not just better–they’re GOOD. I see a therapist now, just for ME. Not for my marriage, not for my child, but for me. I realized that not blogging would not end time as I know it. I wouldn’t lose anyone. I missed deadlines. For interviews, editing, my own for writing…. And everyone was like, “yeah, that’s okay, just be better.” I thought for sure I would be screwing up; everyone’s lives. I gave myself a goddamn break. And everything is better because of it.

Even my books are fine. They’re still there, waiting for me to finish up all in good time. I don’t need to produce at the fastest rate humanly possible. I NEED to enjoy the process. I can be tired to write. I wrote all of RUNNING HOME and half of RUNNING AWAY after 10 hour shifts in retail, after being awake since the crack of dawn with an infant. But I can’t write well when I’m spent. I shouldn’t say I can’t write well–I do, I do write well, but I don’t write at my best, even when I think I am. THE WIND BETWEEN WORLDS is a good damn book, one I’m uber proud of and was so sure was ready for an agent. A lot of agents thought so, too. Amazing agents, including my dream agent read the full manuscript, and all were torn, but all of them just found something MISSING.

One would think this would be heartbreaking for me, and sure, the dream agent passing on the book was. But I got over it, and I’m revising the book–based on what I think it should be better at–and I realized that the book was the best I was capable of AT THE TIME, which is still goddamn good, but I was spread too thin. It’s difficult when your best work isn’t your best but still damn good because you can’t recognize the troubles within. It’s the A+ student who suddenly gets a B and has a heart attack–still good, but not good enough. It breaks you for a minute, but you take the next test. Because you have to. Because being that good is a commitment.

Totally off the subject–I get to do that because this is the first blog I’ve written in months–yeah, I just said a few times that I’m a good writer. I am. IT’S NOT JUST OKAY BUT ACTUALLY RECOMMENDED TO CHAMPION YOURSELF. Being your own worst critic is fine or whatever–I prefer to be my own best friend. I wouldn’t be nasty to a friend about their writing, and I won’t do it to myself. Not for that or anything else.

ANYWAY. I’ve felt really well-balanced for two weeks today. I count it like someone sobering up would. Two weeks where I didn’t feel like I was hanging on by a thread. Where I woke up happy instead of feeling like I was fighting against my life from the second I opened my eyes. I’m starting to feel like I can do anything again–a dangerous feeling if I didn’t learn a lesson so well.

So, you’ll be seeing more of me ’round these parts. Talking about writing, dropping wisdom and stuff, telling you my dark and uglies. You know, I never got the appeal of Howard Stern until I started working at becoming a public figure. He HAS to be himself, let the ugliest sides of himself show and highlight them like it’s the best fucking thing ever. I kind of get it now. I mean, he’s still a pig? But he refuses to be ashamed of anything about himself, and that’s awesome. I think of him sometimes when I talk about my raging hormones, my crippling anxiety (which is doing much better), being the poster girl for Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder, mistakes I’ve made, the weird crap I like. This is me. I like myself a whole lot, and I do what I want to do. I can apologize for mistakes I’ve made, but I won’t apologize for who I am. Who I am is pretty goddamn fantastic, dark and uglies and all.

Thanks for sticking around, folks. I look forward to kicking some ass for you on the regular.

 

 

 

NOT TODAY: The Benefits of My Nervous Breakdown by Julie

TODAY’S BREW: Crème Brulee. It may taste nothing like crème brulee, I would not know

By Julie

I had a nervous breakdown.

In retrospect, it had been coming for a while. I slowed down editing, writing was getting harder, and I was surviving tragedy after minor tragedy left and right in addition to the eighty million things I manage to fit into my days. I couldn’t even blog and claimed it was a “holiday vacation” when it was really that I was burnt, but still burning. I knew I should have seen it coming because I’d been waiting every time I went out in public for the time I would be alone so I could cry for no real reason. I’d been reaching out to crisis lines, unable to enjoy anything I normally did.

One day the week before school vacation, it just hit me. I couldn’t handle any noise whatsoever. I was holed up in my bedroom’s silence; a bird flew by outside, and cawed. It sent me into a convulsive jump and I couldn’t stop shaking for hours. Doing ANYTHING made me cry–getting a glass of juice for the kids, the steps to get in and out of the car, listening to the dog whine for scraps…. I had nightmares that wouldn’t quit. My panic attacks immobilized me but for the need to stay in one place and bounce my leg or rock back and forth. I’d shake for hours afterwards. I woke up shaking and wouldn’t be able to even hold a drink without spilling it until after 5 at night. I bit my cuticles until they were bloody, a really lovely complement to the bleeding psoriasis that cropped up all over my palms. I was gritting my teeth so consistently that my jaw ached.

And I had to STOP. Everything. I sat on the couch and watched Shark Tank because it required zero emotional investment. I read in short spurts. I got off all social media. I couldn’t let the kids watch cartoons while I was in the room. I stopped everything.  And I admitted to my doctor and to a therapist’s office that I was indeed having a nervous breakdown and needed immediate help. I didn’t minimize it, saying I was having a rough patch. I said what I knew in my heart was happening.

What followed was a sense of peace that I hadn’t felt for a long time.

Finally, I hit my limit. It was freeing to finally say, “Well. That’s that. I finally found my limit.” And then I had to stop. I had to let the machine rest and clear the smoke.

I’ve always been told YOU CAN DO IT, JULIE.

The trouble with that is that I KNOW. I won’t stop until the thing I want to accomplish is achieved. I won’t say no to someone who needs my help. I multitask to a fault, and boy are those days over. I always could do it.

Nobody was telling me I didn’t have to. I need that, so much.

When the breakdown hit, there was no denying that I was out of commission. My husband was absolutely incredible, just letting me be, confirming that I didn’t have to do everything, that I needed to be first. Not just first, but only. Just for a while.

It’s now been a couple of weeks, and I am back to editing at a less grueling pace. I’m taking control of my environment in that when I say I CAN’T HANDLE THIS, I don’t. I DON’T. If I can’t handle the noise or brightness, I leave. If I can’t handle any more thinking, I stop. I don’t force myself through it. I had my panic meds increased, am getting therapy, and I’m cutting back on social media a lot. I read more, I’m writing longhand the way I did when writing RUNNING HOME. I’m meditating and going back to my roots. I even put a sticky note on the back of my phone that says NOT TODAY: meaning no social media, primarily, but also extending to not adding to my manageable to-do list. It doesn’t all have to be done today. I use that post it note a couple of times a week.

Having a panic disorder is rough. Not giving myself the space I need to cope with that and dealing with the number of responsibilities and pressures and need for taking charge that I have is a disaster waiting to happen. Well, the disaster happened, and now I can move forward. And I’m really okay. I really am. More than I have been in quite some time.

What I’ve learned overall is that I CAN do it, but I don’t HAVE to do it unless I WANT to. No matter what I tell myself, apart from the fires that I put out being the parent of children that require a lot of investment from me, there is not a goddamn thing that I HAVE to do. It’s all choice. And I’m smiling as I say that having choices is something I LIKE again.

Thank you all for your support. And speaking of support, if YOU have anything, anything at all weighing on your mind, there’s an amazing text support that I go to, and they are so helpful. Text SUPPORT to 741-741 and a trained counselor will listen.

Take care of yourselves, readers. Take care of each other.

Then and Now: The Evolution of the Synopsis

Today’s Brew: Iced Honey Vanilla Tea. The obsession continues.

by Kristen

For some reason, this blog post always gets a ton of hits. We get a lot of searches for “the hardest paragraph to write.” The hardest paragraph to write is actually the one I’ve been dicking around all day instead of really concentrating on what I’m supposed to be doing, but whatever. This particular post is about writing a synopsis.

Twelve books later, it still sucks. Twelve books! You guys. Anyway, I know there are a bunch of contests going on, and constant querying and book readying, so I thought you may enjoy a comparison of what our synopses were in 2012 for our first books and what they became.

JULIE::RUNNING HOME
Then–
Ellie Morgan is used to losing everything. She thought she was comfortable with her life as an advertising executive, until she and her best friend both became captivated with newcomers to their secluded New Hampshire town. When fate connects her to Nicholas French, she is enthralled by his supernatural allure and his belief that she is meant for so much more. Ellie struggles to reconcile falling in love with the vampire who gives her the home she longs for, while being forced to make impossible choices, and sacrifice the unthinkable.

Now–
Death hovers around Ellie Morgan like the friend nobody wants. She doesn’t belong in snow-swept Ossipee, New Hampshire, at a black tie party––but that is where she is, and where he is: Nicholas French, the man who mystifies her with a feeling of home she’s been missing, and the impossible knowledge of her troubled soul.

Nicholas followed an abomination that is one of his own, but finds that fate has driven him to New Hampshire. He is a being of the Shinigami, a heroic vampire order that save their victims from more tragic ends. And he knows why Ellie is human repellent… why physical agony grips them when apart.

KRISTEN::BECAUSE THE NIGHT
Then–(it was called Immortal Dilemma)
College freshman Callie can’t wait to leave the confines of her sheltered life on Martha’s Vineyard to reconnect with her first love, Tristan.  Finding him is easy–he is the face of the explosive Vegas vampire rock scene and the star of his own reality show.  Getting close to this larger than life rockstar is more of a challenge.  Callie must weave her way through a constant stream of insatiable groupies, security guards, paparazzi, and all the other complexitites of Tristan’s fame to try to save him from himself.  She finds herself drawn to him by some inexplicable force, and finds what she’s looking for where she least expects it.  What is she willing to do for her happily ever after?

Now–
Sex, Blood And Rock n’ Roll

Immortal Dilemma is the hottest band in the Las Vegas vampire rock scene. They draw insatiable fans from around the globe, thanks to a supernatural attraction called Bloodlust. Tristan craved such an opportunity to fill his empty mortal life, and now he has eternity to earn his place along the legends of rock n roll debauchery.

Callie always feared that Tristan’s excesses would get him into trouble, but she never thought they’d lead him to immortality. To reconnect with him, she must weave her way through a world not only she had no idea existed, but does not welcome her.

Blade turned down a spot in Immortal Dilemma after learning what he must sacrifice for that lifestyle. He finds Callie a refreshing change from the girls in the vampire rock scene. When Callie drags Blade back into the world of Immortal Dilemma, his resistance drives her into the waiting arms of Tristan, who shows her the true meaning of Bloodlust.

But the very things that Callie fights so hard to save are the very things that fight to destroy her.

How Wearing a Tutu Was a Business Decision by Julie

TODAY’S BREW: Chestnut Praline Latte. (It has replaced the Peppermint Mocha for me. Also, I’m just drinking my crappy home coffee.)

By Julie 

The Undead Duo had our first book signing TOGETHER this weekend at Penny Watson’s Holiday Book Bash. It was also a Christmas party, so there were gorgeous alcoholic drinks AND NO I WAS NOT THE FIRST ONE TO BUY ONE but maybe the second.

But this was a business event. Forty authors, lots of publicity around Boston for it.

And I, Julie Hutchings, knew ahead of time I would be out of my element. Here’s why:

  • I knew two people there. Everyone else knew each other.
  • It was a romance writers’ party. I don’t typically read romance, I don’t write it, and forgive me for saying so, but I don’t come across as one either.
  • Everyone there would have a half dozen books published and know self publishing from the inside out. I have two out, the rest working their way through traditional publishing and small press.

Kristen has told me some of what to expect at a Romance Writers of America function, and I knew it wasn’t necessarily my crowd. But that has never stopped me. In a crowd that size with names more known than mine, a person could easily fade into the background.

Operation: Stand Out Like A Sore Thumb

Trying to fit in doesn’t work for me. Never has and I don’t want it to be something I ever do. Being as ME as possible is what works for me.

How to Be Julie For Business:

  • I bought a goddamn tutu for this event. Go big or go home. THIS IS IT (lovely lady pictured not me):

my tutu

It was my intention to walk in there and have all eyes on me. No shyness allowed.

  • We took the first table, right next to the food, across from the bar.
  • When Penny’s microphone died, I stepped up in front of the room full of strangers and said in my voice which is WOW, “PENNY IS DOING A GIVEAWAY NOW.” Then I announced the names for the giveaway with her.
  • I showed up with party favors. If my book wasn’t the thing sought after that day, I was going to make them remember it. So I thought of the thing that makes my book stand out to EVERYONE which is the strong scent theme. (The Shinigami vampire scent is tailored to appeal to specific people.) I made tiny stockings with a malted milkball and French Vanilla marshmallow “shooter,” a candy cane Hershey kiss, a Christmas cookie tea light with a sticker on the bottom that has a quote from Running Away on it, and a peppermint tea bag with a bookmark and all my links attached. “This tastes and smells like Running Home reads,” I said and handed them out to everybody. I didn’t wait for people to come to me, I went to them.
  • I STOOD UP. I didn’t sit behind our table full of books and stuff. I stood up and spoke to people. I did it first. I said, “Hi, I’m Julie,” and shook hands with a big smile on my face. (Sidenote: The next sentence out of everyone’s mouths was “Your tutu is amazing” or something close to. Easy conversation starter.)
  • When talking about going through a small press, I was loud and proud about having been the only woman published through Books of the Dead Press that summer, and still only in the company of a handful. It makes me different, special, and I’m proud of it. (There’s no such thing as a man’s world, baby.)

You know what? My plan worked. I sold books, gained some new followers, made friends, learned a bunch. I owned the crowd the only way I know how.

Writing a book is hard, publishing a book is harder, selling it is hardest. So sell what makes it unlike anything else out there: YOU. This works in all walks of life. Find the thing that makes you like nobody else in the world, and the thing that makes your product that way, and make the world know it. Be proud. Be you.

Julesenstein’s Monsters: Breathing Life Back Into My Monstrosities

TODAY’S BREW: All of It.

By Julie

I did a thing I haven’t done in a long, long time. I read a chapter of THE HARPY. Forget what that book was? I nearly did, too. It’s been on submission with publishers through my agent, Eric Ruben, Esq. for a long time. I’m fine with the length of the submission process for a few reasons: I know that the world of traditional publishing is going through a lot of transition and isn’t the most stable we’ve ever seen. I know that Eric is doing as much as he can to get the book into reader hands. And my writing career isn’t stagnant because I continuously write books, all the time, while I wait.

But in my persistence to move forward and my constant reminder to myself that writers write, and to go to work every day like a good writer should, I’ve forgotten how much I loved that book. THE HARPY makes me happy. (If you want to read an excerpt of THE HARPY, you can go HERE https://deadlyeverafter.com/2013/06/14/letting-the-harpy-out-of-the-bag-first-excerpt-from-my-new-book/ ) I even searched #TheHarpy on Twitter to read some of my tweets from writing that book and I was grinning ear to ear.

Related, I’ve been totally overwhelmed with book stuff. RUNNING AWAY was released, a year in the waiting, and I barely stopped to breathe….. or promote it before jumping into writing a new book. I have another book just sitting around, too.

I need to slow down. Shit.

One of the reasons I don’t do NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) is because I cannot conceive of writing an entire book in one month and making it worth anything or enjoying a second of it. Yet, I’ve kept up a different kind of breakneck pace to try and cover every base possible in the writing world over the short time I’ve been a published author. (This of course doesn’t include working as an editor in the meantime, being a full time mom and trying to hold my head up straight.)

Writing is my job, but it needs to be savored once in a while. I feel disconnected from a couple of my books because I have put too much distance between us. We are estranged. And in effort to not put all my eggs in one basket, I’ve filled about FORTY BILLION BASKETS, and cannot keep up. Constantly writing and not stopping long enough to give justice to the books I have out is giving me a feeling of self-defeat that I just plain should not have.

So what am I doing about it? Scheduling time for promotion of RUNNING AWAY. Revisiting my intentions for THE HARPY and THE ANIMAL. Making sure I didn’t write them off too quickly in my effort to keep moving forward. And writing my new book at a pace that is fair to me.

I work my ass off to make sure every one of my books is something to be proud of. I deserve to see their titles up in lights, to celebrate them and give them their day in the sun. Because as rewarding as it is to finish a novel, it should be more rewarding to see it come to life.

Time to give my Frankenstein’s monsters a little mouth to mouth.

Getting Sappy About Sequels With Julie

TODAY’S BREW: The bottom of the barrel. Seriously, it’s the bottom of all the coffees, mixed together.

By Julie

Weeeelllll, maybe I personally haven’t done so well in the Back To School Book Beatdown. HEY, THIS WAS AN EXPERIMENT, AND I HAVE A LOT GOING ON AND BESIDES I HAVE A BOOK COMING OUT FRIDAY WHAT THE HELL DO YOU WANT FROM ME.

YES, RUNNING AWAY is finally coming out THIS VERY FRIDAY. But I already wrote that book. AND I MUST NEVER STOP.

I should be disappointed with myself that THE WIND BETWEEN WORLDS is suffering this month, but I’m not. I haven’t wasted a minute. And I deserve a little time to be excited about the sequel to my first book and prepare for that.

I’ve been doing some interviews and guest posts to get ready for the release of RUNNING AWAY this Friday, and it makes me FEEL things.

When I wrote RUNNING HOME, all five of those years, it was miraculous to see it evolve and be published. I’ve written since I was a kid. I went to college for it. It went from a hobby to a THING. And I made it that way. I wrote after working all day and taking care of my babies, and I finished it, FREEHAND. Didn’t even own a laptop. UPHILL. BOTH WAYS.

I went from sneaking around the stock room, telling my co-workers shyly about my book to shouting about it from the rooftops on this blog, at conventions, to agents, to publishers. I beat the world to death around me with it until I made it come out. I told the story of a woman who knew she was meant for something more, and how difficult finding out what that is can be.

And that character, and that book, changed my entire life.

The sequel somehow means as much if not more to me. Because I didn’t just do it, I kept doing it. I did the thing I wanted to do, and I was RIGHT goddammit. This is what I’m supposed to be doing. Taking the risk wasn’t just worth it, it was everything. This means everything.

Writing at home with my kids by my side, this is all I’ve ever wanted. I couldn’t ask for more than this. And yet, it keeps getting better. I have a fantastic agent, and that feeling of HE PICKED ME! never goes away. I have more books in the works than I can fit in my head. I have incredible friends in this business that give me the most selfless support I’ve ever had in my life. So yeah, I live the dream a little bit. I made the dream.

I know my kids will see that I worked for my dream. I started with nothing, I created it over and over and over, and I built on it and tore it down, and pushed it out the door then pulled it back in and never let myself stop. Some things are worth working tirelessly on. I will forever write the books that I need to write, and trust that the need will come across on the page. I want them to live lives with that much need. Hunger. Passion and energy.

So, yeah, maybe I didn’t get a lot written on the newest book this month as I wanted. I was being mommy A LOT, and that’s where my material comes from. And a couple of weeks over the course of my lifetime isn’t going to break the streak. The streak goes on.

*streaks*

ADD RUNNING AWAY on Goodreads! https://t.co/pYpl6swa8I

How To Not Be Stupid at Conventions

TODAY’S BREW: Red Velvet from Target. God, I do love Target.

By Julie

Penguicon was my first convention for writerly stuff. It seemed like everyone on the frigging planet knew everything there was to know about conventions before I went, and there’s these badges and ribbons and everyone knows their way around, and I’m just sort of a “take a left at the tree” kind of girl.

But being brand new to this, I wanted to come away with something from this convention, and I always will. Here a few things I knew for certain that I taught myself, and they might help you out, too. Conventions are an investment, and should be treated as such unless you’re a trust fund baby or a high priced call girl. If you don’t have unlimited cash and want to treat your weekend like a giant party, go for it. If you want it to mean something to your writing career, these are my suggestions:

  • GO WITH THE INTENT OF GETTING SOMETHING OUT OF IT. Sounds basic, but yeah. Make it your mission to go home with more than a hangover, a pile of books, toys and bruises. I wanted to come away having met some people that are important to my writing, and inspired to work on my newest book. Mindset changes everything.
  • MAKE YOURSELF USEFUL. Volunteer to help out. Not only do you meet some folks, but you learn about the con fast and you loosen up really quickly. I worked at Penguicon like an animal. I helped set up the con suite, refilled all the food for the guests, answered questions, all that stuff. Trial by fire. I threw myself into the middle of it, and put my resources to work. It made me feel like I was giving something back.
  • LOOK AT THE DAMN PROGRAM AND MAP, AND STRATEGERIZE THE PANELS. I was psyched to put my two cents in at the Obligatory Undead Panel, talking about whether or not the undead are really a dead topic. A kick ass worldbuilding panel helped me figure out what exactly I need to keep in mind while building the world for my new book, and taught me something I should probably already have known; building convincing worlds for games is a different aspect of complexity than building worlds for novels, and there’s a lot to be learned there. (Now I get to play games for “research.”)
  • INTRODUCE YOURSELF IN THE DEALER ROOM. Those folk working at the tables? YEAH, THEY’RE AWESOME. The tee-shirt guy writes, the comic illustrators and writers are selling their stuff, and probably sitting there a little awkwarded out at the idea of selling shit like a mall kiosk nightmares. Introduce yourself. Talk. Now the comics and other things I got came straight from the hands of the people who created them and I talked shop with those folks. FOR THE WIN.
  • OH YEAH. INTRODUCE YOURSELF IN GENERAL. For real, put yourself out there. My agent, the illustrious Eric Ruben, Esquire, will say all day long that writing is showbiz. People want to connect with the author. YOU’RE THE AUTHOR, ASSHAT. CONNECT. I saw a lovely lady in a super short elevator ride that had the same expression on as me. I mentioned it. We got coffee and hung out and she’s goddamn awesome, and an author of the same stuff as me, and was later on a panel with John Fucking Scalzi and Holy Shit It’s Cory Doctorow. Yeah. Speak up, introvert. These are your people.
  • ALSO MAKE EYE CONTACT AND SMILE. I don’t mean like a politician, but walk with your head up and smile at everybody. These are some of the friendliest, most talented people I would never have met if I didn’t walk around like I owned the place. Not only that, but you have so much to learn from each other, and I learned that I’m not as dumb as I thought about stuff, too.
  • KNOW WHO YOU WANT TO MEET AND MEET THEM. I was fucking determined to meet John Scalzi, so I did. I went up to him after Ask the Author and introduced myself. I looked like an ass, sure. But next year, I won’t have to do it again with as much flourish. I was still too scared to talk to Cory Doctorow, but he tweeted me and I felt like a million bucks
  • PLAN FOR NEXT YEAR OR NEXT CON. I already have put the feelers out to speak on panels at the next Penguicon. I wrote a quick list of do’s and don’ts for next time.

Now that I’m home, I’ve referred to the few notes I’ve taken a million times, and feel re-energized like nobody’s business. This is what I needed, and now I’m full steam ahead. Basically, grab your convention by the balls and run with it.

PENGUICON PENGUICON PENGUICON

TODAY’S BREW: All of It. Don’t mess with me, it’s all mine.

By Julie

THIS IS PENGUICON. http://2014.penguicon.org/about-penguicon/

http://2014.penguicon.org/about-penguicon/

And that looks cool, but THIS YEAR WAS THE BIGGEST ONE YET AND IT WAS TEN TIMES FUCKING AWESOMER THAN THAT AND EVEN THE SIGNS WERE BIGGER AND MORE EXCITING.

Here’s some dream-come-true crap right here. The Head of Hospitality for Penguicon read RUNNING HOME, and fell so in love with it that she asked me to come to the convention and stay in the hospitality suite and just be me, and work in the ConSuite. (For all of you who know me, you know what they were in for.) I realize this was a run-on sentence. MY WHOLE WEEKEND WAS A RUN-ON SENTENCE OF ENTHUSIASM.

I’ll be doing a few posts on Penguicon, because it was that monumental, but today I’ll focus on some of the cooler shit that springs to my fuzzy, exhausted mind. In no particular order:

  • MET JOHN SCALZI. Yeah. I KNOW. Cannot wait for REDSHIRTS, the TV series. I said I was going to find him, and I did.
  • Liquid Nitrogen ice cream made by a dude in a kilt named Phil. APPLE PIE MOONSHINE LIQUID NITROGEN ICE CREAM. It’s as awesome as it sounds.
  • Cory Doctorow tweeted me. That happened.
  • I hung out with, talked shop, handled various meats and cheeses and on occasion slept next to some of my most beloved Twitter people. It’s not as filthy as it comes across.
  • Bump into this lovely lady in the elevator. We just look at each other and know that we need a little more quiet than we’re getting. I ask her if she’s getting coffee before heading where she’s heading, force her to get one with me, and discover she’s awesome Mary Lynne Gibbs, author of the same kind of stuff I write, and soon to be sitting on a panel with John Scalzi, and we exchanged phone numbers and now we’re friends and this happened in like, four seconds flat.
  • I got to serve so many hot dogs in the Con Suite. This is my other calling in life. Bonded over hot dog love for 3 days with author Jim Leach. Best friends now.
  • PANELS. It’s like being in school but for fun, and that guy next to you is dressed like Boba Fett.  One of my favorites was The Obligatory Undead Panel where we got to talk all about the irritation of “X Undead subject is SOOOOO overdone” and why society always needs an undead mascot of sorts. (Also came up with THE BEST FUCKING ZOMBIE BOOK IDEA EVER WITH AUTHOR MARK MATTHEWS WHO WAS SITTING RIGHT NEXT TO ME. No, won’t tell you.) Killer Worldbuilding panel with Kevin Siembieda, creator of—well, Jesus Christ, so much, look at all this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kevin_Siembieda. Figured out a ton of shit that’s going to make this book I’m working on burst into life and could not be more excited about it. (I scribbled notes on the plane that made me look like a lunatic to the dude next to me.)
  • Being thanked by 8 million people every time I moved for feeding them in Con Suite and for all our hard work. So thoughtful and appreciative. (Not to mention the number of volunteers that throw themselves at us staff members, begging to help. Amazing.)
  • THE DEALER ROOM. I all but peed my pants in the Dealer Room where I got to not only walk around with my pseudo little sister from Twitter that I died with excitement about meeting, but THE BOOKS AND THE COMICS AND THE TEE SHIRTS AND THE JEWELRY AND ARTWORK AND THE BOOKS BOOKS BOOKS AND I GOT A 1984 TOTE BAG WITH BIG BROTHER ON IT AND ALSO A HANDFUL OF TINY RUBBER CHICKENS FOR BENNETT AND I COULD HAVE STAYED THERE ALL DAY AND YOU GET TO TALK TO THE CREATORS AND WRITERS AND BAAAAAAAAGH I WANT TO LIVE THERE.
  • I got to work beside some of the most amazingly hard working, good natured people in existence, including Twitter buddies J. Liz Hill, Rhiannon Llewellyn, and the incomparable Lithie Dubois, who is the most determined and dedicated woman in history.

There is so much more, but I can’t still quite feel my brain after this weekend. I’ll be doing posts on how to make a con work for you when you have no idea what to expect, behind the scenes con stuff and some more stuff when I can think again.

THANK YOU TO ALL OF THE UNBELIEVABLE PENGUICON STAFF AND VOLUNTEERS AND THE MOST INCREDIBLE HOTEL STAFF I’VE EVER SEEN, AT THE WESTIN, SOUTHFIELD, MI

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