Deadly Ever After

Archive for the tag “Penny Watson”

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.


Come See Us At The Book Bash!

Today’s brew: There’s some sort of Christmas Cookie martini thing that’s going to be at the book bash tomorrow. If you come, you can have one too.

Tomorrow is Julie and I’s very first book signing together!  Come see us and 40 other authors in Needham, MA.  Admission is free. There’s a cash bar, so you know that’s going to make everything one hundred percent more entertaining.  I made my infamous drunken peppermint brownies.  There will be a raffle for some awesome prizes, and oh yeah, books for sale!

If you’re not sure it’s us, I’ll be the one with the ombre hair that fades to bright pink. Julie will be in the tutu. So basically, everything you ever expected.

I hope to see you there!

Penny Watson's HOLIDAY BASH new ad

Getting in Your Face About the Holidays by Julie

TODAY’S BREW: Breakfast Blend. It’s December!

By Julie

Thanksgiving was great. Busy as hell and totally not busy at the same time. Never made it to the freezing cold parade, which is a big deal here in America’s Hometown, but me and the boys went to the Lego store to celebrate Ben getting an Academic Excellence award and Sam just being awesome. Had gourmet grilled cheese, listened to Christmas songs and were generally goofy together. And having everyone together for Turkey Day was lovely. We truly were all able to forget all of our troubles just be happy together with Gramma and Grandpa. It was fantastic to hang out the entire day at home on Black Friday and even have Tim home until noon. That has NEVER happened. Then the kids and I blew off the rest of the weekend at book stores, toy stores, the park, an awesome off-season drive down to Cape Cod and watching movies. Perfect.


First off, if you’re one of those ball-busting I can’t wait until it’s all over folks, good for you. Don’t ruin it for everyone else. Take a kid’s name off the tree at the mall, buy the kid a coat and a toy and shhhhhhut up. Nobody WANTS to be miserable…. make an effort not to be. This isn’t me being preachy, this is me demanding a good time.

My demands of having a good time get me in trouble. For instance, we are poor. Still buying Christmas presents though. Still adopting a kid or two for charity. Still bring the kids out because it makes them happy. Still got a tutu for Penny Watson’s Holiday Book Bash this weekend in Needham, MA. Because screw it. This was the hardest year of my life, and that’s saying something. I don’t generally say I had a bad DAY even, let alone a bad year, but hay-zoos, I’m not in denial. Regardless, bad circumstances won’t determine my future, and they sure as hell won’t determine my present. I live like I’m on a constant sitcom that may turn into a tragedy at any second. But it’s never dull and I’ve accomplished something by living through it some days. And at the end of that day I still am surrounded by lots of love.

When you’re aggravated about shopping, snow, your bank account and all the things you don’t have, remember the things you do have and the things you could make happen. Remember what Christmas means to YOU. If it means nothing, change it. Make everything mean something. What else are you doing here?

(I don’t mean you, Greg. What are you doing here?)

In the meantime, come drink with Kristen and I and 40 other authors this Saturday if you’re in town.

You’re Not The Customer: Is This Why Your Book Didn’t Sell?

Today’s Brew: I’m making some new vanilla Starbucks Kcup for tomorrow morning that smells heavenly. I’m going to mix that up with my peppermint mocha creamer and just be happy at 4:30 AM.

by Kristen

At the beginning of the month, I attended the Independent Author Symposium hosted by NYT best selling author Marie Force and Penny Watson, who you might know from her beard lovin’ blog, I’m not going to do a total write up about the seminar, because KT Grant already did a great job of  that, and you can read it here.

I’m going to share the three things I found most interesting about the seminar:

1. There were many traditional multi published authors in attendance, as well as many authors pursuing the traditional route.  When I asked why they came, they said that made business sense to understand all facets of the industry.  Just because you have a contract for this book, doesn’t mean the next book has a home. Things are changing fast in the industry. Kudos to these authors who have the business acumen to explore all avenues.

2. Some authors who are getting their rights back from their publishers for back catalogue or publishers that no longer exist are choosing to self publish these titles.  Why? Money. The authors retained control of the books and a higher profit margin.

3. My big Oprah A-ha moment of the day: According to Marie Force, publishers aren’t buying with readers in mind. They aren’t selling to readers. They’re selling to distributors. The distributor is their customer. Distributors placing books in Barnes and Noble, Walmart, Target, Supermarkets. Now all the “YA is over!” “Paranormal is dead!” hysteria made sense. I’d never thought of it like that before.Of course the distributors only have a finite number of spaces for each genre. I even got a rejection from an editor that started with “I can see this doing well in the NA market….”  So, then buy it! Or…this.

So, in this light, whether or not our books sell is determined by a shrinking and dying model. I am hoping that indie publishers that are selling digitally direct to customers and self published authors will change this model. Now, for the first time, we know what the readers really want because they have access to all of these titles that there was just no room at the inn for before.

(Oh my God, that coffee smells amazing! But I digress)

The one thing that’s been repeated at this seminar as well as last springs NECRWA conference is this is a great and exciting time to be an author. Don’t be discouraged because the old system doesn’t work.  Things are changing fast. You’re an artist. Rules don’t apply to you. Kick down those doors and find a home for yourself.

Romancing the Writing Conference

Today’s Brew:  Blue Moon Agave Nector Ale.

by Kristen

This is a great time to be a writer.

Yes, you read that right.  In the face of the gloom and doom of the demise of the big box book retailers, the self publishing revolution debate, and the frigging recession that just never wants to quit, that was my biggest takeaway from this weekend’s New England Chapter Romance Writers of America conference.

You are only limited by your imagination and the effort you are willing to put into your writing.

We all need to embrace the changes that are happening to the publishing industry.  If we don’t, we will be left behind.  The small press and self publishing revolution are giving control back to the readers.  They are saying loud and clear what they want to read.  We need to be ready to deliver.  And that doesn’t mean quantity.  You won’t get a second chance if you put out crap.  No matter what happens, you need to write the best story you possibly can.   That is the one thing that will never change.

So what are the things that readers are asking for?  Romance.  Erotica.  LGBT.  Male/male romances.  When I first started researching publishing, last year, short stories and novellas were dead.  Unsellable. Now they are hot, hot, hot.  So write what you are passionate about.  Don’t worry about trends.  They change just that fast.

My brain was so full of information by the end of the conference, it hurt.  The roster of great workshops and speakers never seemed to end!  Even though conference veterans suggested we take breaks, how could I miss any of this great information??

Julia Quinn spoke to us about writing great dialogue.  It never ceases to amaze me even though we all talk (some of us more than others), so many people struggle writing realistic dialogue.  Have someone else read your dialogue out loud.  Add personality with dialogue.  Next was Penny Watson, who talked about workin’ your bad self on social media and turning lemons into lemon martinis. The original cover for Lumberjacks In Love wound up on Lousy Bookcovers.  Instead of getting mad about it, she celebrated it.  And got a new cover.  Instead of becoming a joke, she turned her love of cheesiness into new fans for her writing.


Penny Watson


After telling folks the story, everyone wanted to buy the “lousy” book cover edition of LUMBERJACK IN LOVE at book fair.

After dinner, Marie Force, who is truly a force to be reckoned with, told us how after she got seven books rejected by traditional publishing, she self published her books and earned seven figures last year.  SEVEN.  That’s a million dollars, kids.  I am navigating my way through the traditional route, but I did not make a million dollars last year.  Or in my lifetime.  I want what she’s having.

ATTENTION!  If you never listen to another word I say, listen to this:  If there is a conference kind of near your house and you think you can save money on the hotel and go home in between days….no you can’t. You will be so much more exhausted than usual because your brain simply isn’t used to all that new,exciting information.  Get a room.

The next morning was also chock full of panels.  I actually started my Saturday (as well as finished my Friday night) with some impromptu pitches to editors.  Aaah!  Nothing like flying by the seat of your pants to get the blood pumpin’.  Both editors dug my idea, and my manuscript is in their hands.  Pray, kids, pray.

Something else heard during pitches…you can never be too young, too thin, or publish too many vampires.  Looks like the vampire publishing moratorium has been lifted!!

I started my workshops in the historical research talk.  Even if you don’t write historicals,  you probably need to do research for your book.  Sometimes you have to think outside the box of how things will apply to your work.  The big takeaway was to contact experts as well as doing your own research. They can cram years worth of their passion into a coffee date!  Also, think of pop culture references:  cookbooks, fashion magazines, comics, you name it.


Then I headed to the paranormal chat with Kate Cross.  Kate is so fabulous looking I almost fist pumped when I saw she was the presenter.  We discussed alpha males, and how to mate humans and alpha creatures.  Kate gave me an ARC of her Steampunk Romance, Breath of Iron to review.  My very first ARC!  It is the third book in the Clockwork Agent series and will be out in August.  Keep an eye here in July for the review!

Last up before lunch was Tiffany Reisz’s Erotica 101. Of course, I wasn’t going to miss that.  I probably learned the most in this workshop.  The biggest marker of a romantic romance, besides the sex being an integral to the plot, is that it doesn’t have to have a happily ever after.  Romance needs to have a happy ending.  This is also the panel we spoke about fisting and cock. Professionally, of course.

After lunch I checked out Lori Perkins’ Writing Smut for Fun and Profit.  Lori’s advice:  take your ideas and run with them!  A small idea can pay off big.  Short stories and novellas are back.  And if you play your cards right, in a few years, if you write good books you can make more money than you were making at that god foresaken day job.

NECRWA was my second conference and I’m so glad I attended.  I could measure the growth I’ve had since Backspace in November.  I met some great authors, who I’m sure we will highlight on the blog in coming weeks, and made some great friends.  If you have a chance to go to a writer’s meeting or conference, GO.  Get out from behind that computer, meet people, get inspired, and learn something.

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