Deadly Ever After

Archive for the tag “reviews”

Relishing Rejection with Julie

TODAY’S BREW: Target brand anything. It’s my favorite morning coffee.

By Julie

This week begins the dreaded querying. This is the process by which a writer boils down the book they’ve poured their heart into for a bunch of months into a letter that is one part storytelling, one part ass kissing, one part making yourself sound like you somehow enjoy writing query letters.

Yet, this is not what writers seem to overall hate about querying. That actual letter, that is the thing that makes me cringe. For most others, it’s the inevitable wait of six to eight weeks as you watch a thousand other books be born, all to be told nine times out of ten (or more appropriately 59 times out of 60) that:

  • while your storytelling is unique, I didn’t quite connect with the character
  • the story seems too much like XYZ book
  • in a crowded genre, the story and character would not stand out enough
  • it sounds wonderful but isn’t the right fit for me at this time
  • I wish you the best of luck

Rejection is the reason why writers generally hate querying. It’s disheartening to say the least. It’s not only a matter of “I didn’t like your book,” it feels like, “I don’t like YOU.”

I feel like a jerk saying that rejection doesn’t bother me. It really doesn’t and it never has since I began querying RUNNING HOME years ago. I’m not bragging. I hope to give you some of the same outlook for when you get that sonofabitching email in your box. This is my mindset:

I expect it. Rejection is part of the game. Just is. It’s low-level hazing. But know this as the rejections continuously roll in…..it only takes one agent to love it.

I wrote the strongest possible book I could write. This is more helpful when it comes to getting reviews. I just got a one star review a week ago. I harbor zero resentment. It wasn’t that reader’s cup of tea, but it is mine. If I wasn’t confident in my book, I’d hurt over every bad word said against it, but I love the book, know that it was the best book I could have put out then, and that’s why I write. Not to please everybody else. (Sorry, everybody else.) Now, when it comes to querying to agents, you really want them to love the book. Not just any ol’ reader but this specific person who you’re trusting with your life’s work. With that in mind, I submit the strongest book I can, and I listen to alllllll the feedback I can get. I take what works for me and I apply it. And what I don’t find useful for me, I discard. This isn’t a yes/no test. You won’t ever just GET IT RIGHT. There’s always something that can be tweaked in a concept, the delivery, the writing style….it’s evolution for every writer. But in the end, same rule applies…..the book is YOURS. Make it to suit you, nobody else. Be confident in what you’ve done and that means knowing when to listen to how it could be better as well.

Querying is a process of elimination. This is the most important element for me. This is the one thing I remember above all else, to the point now that I don’t have to remember it, it just IS.

MY BOOKS ARE COMING OUT. ONE WAY OR ANOTHER. REJECTIONS JUST MEAN THAT IT ISN’T THAT WAY WITH THAT AGENT OR PUBLISHER.

The agent is round one. If I don’t pick up an agent, or if I don’t find the right one for me, I go to small press. If I don’t find a small press (highly unlikely, as I love small presses and one in particular WINK WINK), I will self-publish. The book is coming out. All of the books.

BE DETERMINED TO GET YOUR BOOKS OUT WHEN THEY’RE UP TO YOUR STANDARD, AND REJECTION BECOMES PART OF THE PATH, NOT THE END OF IT.

Having an optimistic outlook doesn’t just mean that you think, “This is the agent that’s going to love me and they’ll land this publisher that I’ve wanted all my life and I’ll get the biggest deal and I’ll be on the red carpet in two years.” That’s the dream, and don’t get me wrong, LOVE THE DREAM. FANTASIZE ABOUT THE DREAM, STRIVE FOR THE DREAM. But I don’t make my dream my measure of success. If it happens, it will be the most lovely thing that I can ever, well, dream of. But success comes in steps and it comes in hard work. It comes with mistakes. It comes with burnt bridges. It comes with trouble and sadness and small victories and excitement and exhaustion. To me, success means I worked for it until I was absolutely satisfied with what I’ve made and I feel as though I’ve grown. Rejection can’t touch that feeling. The best part? You can feel that over and over and over again until you achieve the dream, or the dream changes.

Don’t reject yourself. Looking at that rejection letter, do not take the words “not for me” and make them in your tired little mind into “not for anybody.” Don’t turn “crowded genre” into “not a chance in hell, little person.” Don’t make “characters I couldn’t connect with” become “I couldn’t connect with YOU and nobody ever ever will.” Be honest with yourself IN BOTH DIRECTIONS….if the criticism is that the characters seemed one dimensional, ask yourself if it’s true for you. Do you think they could be deeper, really? If it’s not quite a standout concept, is there something you could do to make it MORE STANDOUT? But also, be honest in your own favor, too. Maybe the characters are deep enough by your standard. Maybe the concept is solid enough, and this just isn’t the right agent or publisher for you. Be a good friend to yourself. Be honest.

The triple bitch. I use this in everything that has to do with a book. IF I HEAR THE SAME CRITICISM THREE TIMES, I WILL FIX THE PROBLEM. If I hear it once, unless it really rings true, I don’t change a thing. I made the mistake before of listening to EVERY opinion and catered to them. It violated my honesty rule: I didn’t honestly think the changes made the book better and so I ended up going back to my original plan. And yeah, the majority can still be wrong, you could still feel absolutely the same about the way you did whatever the thing is that nobody likes. Again, be honest with yourself….would it hurt you to change it to be more appealing to the masses? Maybe. Maybe you want it your way and you’ll defend it. Or maybe it’s a little thing and if you change it, it might mean one less rejection and it didn’t affect the story or the characters for YOU in a bad way. I might be repeating myself here, but THE BOOK IS YOURS. MAKE SURE YOU’RE HAPPY WITH IT OR YOU’LL NEVER BE HAPPY WITH WHAT HAPPENS WITH IT.

Now get out there, writerlies. Be brave. Be ready. Be awesome.

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Julie’s thoughts on FALLEN SON, DARKEST NIGHT by Melissa Petreshock

TODAY’S BREW: Tea. Oh stop it, I can have tea sometimes.

By Julie

When someone can give me writing reminiscent of Anne Rice (when Anne Rice was Anne Rice and not “oh, her again), this is a major accomplishment. It’s not every writer than can create a world so rich that the reader is taken completely out of the moment and inserted into the novel. Melissa Petreshock manages to do this not only in her debut novel, FIRE OF STARS AND DRAGONS, but in this incredible prequel short story she does it again. More importantly, the darkness and intensity of the characters really shines in this story, putting me head over heels for Dante, who I am definitely not supposed to find as alluring as I do. But he says stuff like THIS:

“Perhaps you can teach me to be like you, to feel sorrow rather than rage, to desire sacrifice rather than seek revenge.” His voice drops low. “Save me.”

And then you throw at me mythology that is unparalleled in its depth, and I can’t resist. Vampires, dragons, gods, you name it, you get it and it’s done so seamlessly and cohesively that I am in awe of her ability to mesh such beings into one storyline.

FSDN - Cannot escape promo teaser

Introduce yourself to this amazing world through FALLEN SON, DARKEST NIGHT.

FSDN Cover Art AVAILABLE NOW ON WATTPAD http://www.wattpad.com/72617517-fallen-son-darkest-night?d=ud

After four millennia of waiting for change, the Mother Goddess sees no other recourse but to summon Theo Pendragon to perform his sacred duty as one of the Dracopraesi, imprison her only son in the Underworld, and save her people.

Given the​ vast destruction Dante has caused ​in the Earthen Realm, Theo is prepared to fulfill Dana’s request​ without hesitation​, but ​when confronted with ​unexpected events and a plea for mercy, will the dragon ​find him worth redemption, or is it too late for this dark soul to seek forgiveness?

FALLEN SON, DARKEST NIGHT is a ​short story companion to FIRE OF STARS AND DRAGONS (Stars and Souls Book 1). ​Three thousand years before Caitriona Hayden is even born, Dante’s actions and Theo’s decision impact the destiny that awaits them all.

Melissa A. Petreshock_ smaller file

Melissa A. Petreshock is a full-time writer and member of the Romance Writers of America with past experience in the medical and educational fields, though she has primarily devoted her adult life to raising a family. Born and raised in Kentucky, Melissa spent a number of years in Massachusetts, living outside Boston and in Springfield before returning to her home state where she now resides on a small farm. She enjoys quiet married life and the silliness of her three children, indulging hobbies of music, Zumba, and a minor television addiction in what little free time she finds. Melissa’s interests include causes demanding social change such as mental health awareness and teen suicide prevention. FIRE OF STARS AND DRAGONS is her debut NA Fantasy Romance novel.

 

You can find Melissa on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and Goodreads.

 FSDN - Fate at birth promo teaser

 

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

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

By Julie

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Running Home by Julie Hutchings

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

Spitting in the Face of Battle and Kicking Ass in the War

TODAY’S BREW: Water. I’m moving furniture.

By Julie

I shall tell you a short story. I have yet to determine if it is a sad or happy story.

We’re poor as dirt, right? That’s fine, I’m okay with it, my husband’s okay with it. We knew it would happen when I quit my job. We don’t need a lot, we have what we want. But of course, Christmas is around the corner, and this is the first time we won’t be able to just get what we want to get the kids. We have to plan, borrow and beg, make sacrifices, more of them, and hope for the best. We aren’t looking forward to Christmas any less, that’s for sure. Actually, I am super excited for this holiday, more than ever.

This is the part where I wonder when I’ll start seeing money from the sales of RUNNING HOME. Because, writer and reader buds, I don’t know if you know something nobody I know does, but there is no way in Hell to know what you’ve sold until that check shows up. It could be enough to pay for a car, or enough to buy the gas you’re putting in it. You just don’t know. But based on my Amazon rankings, where I rank relatively according to what others have sold, and the reviews, I thought I had a pretty good idea.

Apparently, I was shit wrong.

I never expected to get rich, or do much more than come out of the red, but to find out that I may not have even earned out my advance is like having a steamroller filled with demon blood run over my heart and then suck it out and pour said demon blood inside the aching cavity it left.

I am a positive, do it and do it well kind of person. I’m super easily pleased. I know there’s more I can do to sell books, that it’s a marathon, not a race, that it’s continuous and limitless. I have great faith in what I’ve built, the support I’ve had from the most amazing people on the planet, and I know that this is a stepping stone. Everything is going according to plan.

What troubled me about this figure was how much work I already did put in to promoting the book. The incredible blogs I’ve guested on, the contests, the reviews, the street team that busted their ass for me. Not to mention the revisions, the edits, the 5 plus years of working on my first novel. All that for a couple of hundred bucks?

FOR THE FIRST TIME EVER EVER EVER I WONDERED WHY I BOTHER WRITING.

I’m agonizing over a sequel to a book nobody cared about? My husband works 7 days a week so I can do this? That’s not fair. This is a charade, a fun hobby with a solid pipe dream attached. I had my fun, and now it’s over.

Writing is not the hardest work you’ll ever do, I don’t care who says so. It’s gut wrenching, has thrown me into depressions that last for weeks, has challenged me to find out things about myself I never wanted to. But lifting shelves over my head at 3 in the morning with a bunch of 18 year old girls trying to build a bra display, knowing that your regional manager who fucking hates you is going to say it has a scuff mark on it when she shows up the next day in her bitch scarf and pampered fucking Ann Taylor suit with her $200 hair cut that still looks like shit when you have bags under your eyes, your feet hurt from running in heels to fit old people for bras, and you miss your kids and husband because you’ve only slept for 3 hours is worse. That’s worse. (run-on sentence, anyone?) It’s worse to make phone calls at 8 in the morning to southerners who don’t want to pay their phone bills and call you horrible names is worse. Done that, too. Wondering what you’ve done wrong to make your 3 year old such a raging tyrant is worse. Worrying that you’re not giving your kids enough attention because you’re too worried about keeping your shit job is worse. Having to fire a 7 year veteran whose husband is out of work because she gave a discount to her neighbor is worse. Lifting literally hundreds of 50 pound bags of gravel in and out of a Jeep is worse. Getting sunburned and bitten by mosquitoes weeding someone else’s yard for 8 hours straight is worse. I’ve done all this stuff and then some. Writing is the second easiest job I have ever had.

Pet store manager is the easiest. And the most fun.

I have no right to complain that I’ve worked too hard to have earned hardly anything this early in the game. I realize RUNNING HOME has only been out for a couple of months. I am eternally grateful for every single person who ever picked it up, said “this ain’t half bad,” and am humbled that people connect with it. It’s all I ever dreamed of. I kid you not. It’s all I ever wanted.

Unfortunately, that doesn’t buy Christmas presents. So, I’m sent into the pit of despair where I wonder what the fuck I was thinking when I said this was the best thing I could do for my kids. My kids won’t go without presents, don’t think that. We’ll find a way to get them what they want, and what we want for them. We’ll still adopt a family for Christmas, because no matter how poor we might be at a given moment, there is always someone worse off.

BUT WHAT THE FUCK, I CAN BE DISAPPOINTED NOW AND AGAIN, CAN’T I???

You guys love this book! And you tell me so, to my face, on Amazon, on Goodreads, on Facebook and Twitter!

AND THAT IS WHY I WILL CONTINUE TO WRITE THE SEQUEL. I created something people are connected to, and that’s what my passion is.

So, I’ve done what I should do. I took a few days off writing. I moved all the furniture in the house to make it more Zen-like. I played with my kids, spent time with my husband, and read. And now, I’m ready to win the war, whether I lost a battle or not. Losing is all in the eye of the beholder, and it’s all relative. I’m still living the dream, even if I woke up faster than I wanted to. This is one stone in the path of a long road, and I’m ready to pick my head up and keep walking.

Thank you, everyone who supports me and all the writers out there that kick ass every day and create. I love you all for making it worthwhile.

Lindsay Cummings Makes Me Giddy: A Review of RUNNING HOME

TODAY’S BREW: Tea. I need to calm down from all of my ridiculous giddiness.

By Julie

I adore Lindsay E. Cummings, formerly known as Lindsay Pate, and really admire her writing abilities. Go read the short story series. THE MECHANICAL HEART she wrote with Corey Seeley, and see what I mean: http://lpate85.blogspot.com/2013/01/mechanical-heart-part-1-by-corey-seeley.html?spref=tw
So when she gushed like THIS over my book, I was jumping for joy. Thank you, Lindsay. I couldn’t be prouder to have you in my corner.

The Splendor of “Running Home”

By: Lindsay Cummings

I will begin this entry by apologizing for my ridiculously long departure from my blog and everything social media. My excuse is my wedding. It had to be planned and perfected, requiring much attention and love. Now I am back and so is my voracious appetite for reading and writing.

Recently the ever amazing and brilliant Julie Hutchings released her debut novel, “Running Home”. I promptly downloaded it. Being a fan of hers and genuinely liking her as a person, it was a no-brainer for me to read her book. Low and behold the same day I downloaded her novel, another book I had pre-ordered revealed itself on my Kindle. Normally this would not deter me; however, I had been all but salivating over its arrival.

I ogled both titles, knowing I had a decision to make. The pre-ordered novel glistened and coaxed me to read it first. I regretfully put Julie’s novel aside…Just for one more week.

I read the pre-ordered book in a matter of two days. I was completely let down. An author, that will remain nameless, had released a new Paranormal Romance novel. Though this genre differed from her usual Contemporary Romance books, I had extremely high hopes. As I finished the last few words in the novel, I was utterly disenchanted.

I bitched and moaned to my husband that after all of my waiting and patience, the book was rushed and underdeveloped. A crime if you ask me.

Hoping to cheer up my despondent heart, I picked up Julie’s book. Not really knowing what to expect, my eyes immediately latched on to her words and did not let go. She had me hooked from page one until the end.

Honestly, I am a lover of all genres. I do believe that Paranormal Romance is probably one of the hardest to perfect and make distinctive. Julie achieved this and then some. She found a flow that crossed between Horror and Paranormal Romance. It provoked thoughts and feelings, while sending shivers down my spine. The novel kept me guessing at mostly every turn, and was so beautifully created that I sighed in relief.

Running_Home

This novel was what I had been looking for. Running Home is everything I had wanted to feel from the other book and then some. I was so proud of my dazzling friend for writing one of the most unique and well written books I have read all year. Her ideas were exceptional and so were her exquisitely developed characters. Just enough fear, lust and wonder to keep me hanging on every word.

The furtive Nicholas French and the distraught Eliza Morgan find themselves drawn together in a sea of inexplicable awareness and adoration for one another. The blending of modern day vampirism and ancient Japanese culture is imaginative and vivid.

*This may not be a traditional review, as I am not by any means a book reviewer. But as a reader and a writer, I had to give credit where credit is due. Thank you Mrs. Hutchings for renewing my faith in Vampires everywhere.

Please click the link to purchase Running Home on Amazon…NOW! : http://t.co/wXBPE87nMX

RUNNING HOME COVER REVEAL & The Best Review EVER

TODAY’S BREW: PUMPKIN LIKE NOBODY’S BUSINESS, BABY!

By Julie

Every author has fantasies about being on talk shows and red carpet events for their books. You can’t even tell me you don’t, I wouldn’t believe you. This, this right here, is one of those dreams for me. A 5 star review from people who know stuff about books, with a picture of my cover on it.

BECAUSE HERE YOU GO FOLKS! THE COVER OF RUNNING HOME IS IN YOUR FILTHY LITTLE GRASPS RIGHT NOW!

Along with a review by @OpeningLine Literary ‘Zine that I am printing and having framed and shall make sweet love to whenever I want.

Running Home by Julie Hutchings 

5 Stars

Review by Frances Button

Running Home is a book that has been missing from my shelf for many years. A new release from author Julie Hutchings, it is an urban fantasy novel full of addictive charm, engaging, self-aware characters, and a well-researched, powerhouse plot. In truth, the recent craze of urban fantasy novels has largely passed me by, as those I have read have left me dissatisfied. This is not the case with this story. It may not be my typical genre, but Running Home is definitely my kind of book.

It tells the story of Eliza, a small town girl in backwoods New Hampshire. On the plus size of the clothes rack and the wrong side of twenty-five, her life is simple, steady, yet ultimately dull. A pragmatic girl with an unhappy history, Eliza accepts her lot in life, mainly because she’s afraid of losing the one thing she still has: her best friend, Kat. As unremarkable as Eliza thinks herself, she manages to catch the undivided attention of the local bookshop owner, Nicholas French, and their whirlwind not-quite-romance takes our girl’s life down an entirely different path.
Pithy, tongue-in-cheek and adventurous, Hutchings has woven a world you can believe in: a new way of seeing the ordinary. Her villain, Chris Lynch, is delightfully repulsive and I wouldn’t kick her Nicholas French out of bed for all the money in the world. Her protagonist, too, is my kind of girl.
It is rare for me to really connect with female protagonists but, with Eliza, it was effortless. I loved her snippy, self-deprecating remarks about how well she was taking the revelation that vampires existed. I loved that she sucked in her stomach the way woman (myself included) are wont to do when they’re in a dress that’s a shade too tight. I loved that she had a backbone, and that romance didn’t reduce her to a quivering wreck of helplessness. I loved her.
The magical blend of character sensibility and unique mythology sucks you into the world of Running Home and doesn’t release you from its thrall until the last page. Although, at times, the reader will be screaming for Eliza to take just one. more. step. in her assessment of her relationship with the creature-comfort-loving Nicholas, the book carries you on a fast-paced, believable journey of self-discovery and fantastical fates. When the Sophie’s Choice of endings reared its ugly head, I was genuinely worried as to how it could possibly resolve itself in the way I wanted it to.
This is a book that is pure fun and definitely worth your time. This is a book you will care about. This is a book you want to read.
While some might compare Running Home to another, well-known urban vampire fantasy franchise, for me, the choice is clear. Never a fan of the book-that-shall-not-be-named, I was reserved when picking up Hutchings’ latest work. I will never regret that I did. I honestly can’t remember a time when I’ve enjoyed a vampire novel so much. In my opinion,Running Home far exceeds its genre’s peers in imagination, quality of writing, character development and every other category you might hope to name.
I stayed up all night to finish it.

Mountain Home Kicks the Ass Off Of Your Ass

TODAY’S BREW: Back to the Keurig. My coffee pot broke, and now I’m a single serving motherfucker.

By Julie

You guys may have heard, my book, Running Home, is being published by Books of the Dead on July 22nd. Hold your applause. THIS guy’s book is first up of the 8 authors being published this summer with Books of the Dead. I got to read his book in super secret before the world got to see it. And what a privilege it was.

Bracken MacLeod
 Image of Bracken MacLeod
Bracken MacLeod has worked as a martial arts teacher, a college philosophy instructor, at a children’s non-profit, and as a criminal and civil trial attorney. While he does his best to avoid using the law education, he occasionally finds uses for martial arts and philosophy. His work has appeared in Sex and Murder Magazine, The Siren’s Call e-zine, and twice in Every Day Fiction. He also has stories in the anthologies, The Alchemy Press Book of Pulp Heroes, Anthology: Year One, and most recently in Femme Fatale: Erotic Stories of Dangerous Women from Go Deeper Press.His first novel, MOUNTAIN HOME, is available from Books of the Dead Press.

Mountain Home blew me away from the start. I’m a sucker for strong imagery and witty wordings, and Bracken not only gives me this, but he makes literally every page tense with constant…and I mean constant action. This book reads like a Tarantino movie watches. Smart action, with immediate consequences and longtime effects on the characters, choices that are life-changing from the inside out. What I really love about Mountain Home is that the characters are so incredibly real. Bracken manages to do something that I find all too rarely; he makes complex characters that you have strong feelings about, and I don’t just mean “she’s so nice, I don’t want her to die” feelings. You hate the sonofabitch restaurant manager that doesn’t deserve to live. You admire the heroine, Lyn, who has more than just heroism to offer us. She’s an artist, with opinions and really believable feelings. She’s courageous, not just ballsy. The girl makes hard choices that affect people she doesn’t like and doesn’t know, and she’s undecided about them. That is what makes her someone I can identify with. She’s not a toughass chick with something to prove. She’s cornered into making a lot of difficult choices, and makes them with conviction, even when she isn’t sure it’s the right thing to do. (Clearly, I love this girl.)

The “villain” we meet is also one we can identify with and understand. One we sympathize with, and fear a little bit, because we see the reality of her a little too easily.

I am honored to keep company with Bracken MacLeod at Books of the Dead. Read Mountain Home and you’ll find a truly unique voice, and one you’ll want to hear again. http://t.co/n5udtkE4Mn

Let’s Get Ready to Randoooommmm!: Julie’s Ramblings on Breaking Dawn

TODAY’S BREW: Hazelnut, then pumpkin, then hazelnut, then beer.

I am especially psyched out of my mind for my midnight adventure with Kristen to go see Breaking Dawn 2.  We have been to all of the Twilight movies together at midnight, with all the teenage girls and their boyfriends, and the housewives and the occasional dad.  This time, Kristen will be drunk, though.  That last movie put her right over the edge.

So, I have heard several people’s thoughts on both Breaking Dawn the movie, and the novel.  I will not recount them for you here, so don’t change the channel.  This is just about me and Kristen, like all good things.  As far as the novel, goes, I loved it as much as Twilight, though for different reasons.  I enjoyed the gruesomeness of Bella’s pregnancy.  I also thought this was done really well in the movie, I mean she looked wretched.  And that scene where her back breaks?  Good stuff.  I loved meeting all of the other vampires, and learning about their individual stories and powers.  The mythology is original and I thought the relationships between the vampires was interesting.  I thought it gave credibility to the bigger picture of the Volturi, and took you out of Bella and Edward’s relationship just enough to be refreshing.  I mean, after that honeymoon, I needed a break.

Kristen hates all of that.  She doesn’t care.  Fair enough.

When it came to the movie, I was personally offended by the werewolves speaking to each other like people, mouths moving and all.  Kristen did not mind this.  I find this fascinating, as Kristen is annoyed by the idea of werewolves in general, and this is the cherry on top for me.  (Side note: If you don’t hate werewolves, go read Jason Starr’s The Pack.  It is super fantastic.)  Other things that gave me issue:  Apparently, in one day it is possible to travel from Washington to Brazil.  Impressive.  And do I have to mention that everyone except Bella gets uglier in every movie?  Jesus Christ, leave their hair alone.  Except Jasper–just fix it.  Make it normal.  I have high hopes for his hair in the last movie.  They have tried everything else, please get it right this time.  Esme, the poor thing, started out gorgeous in underfunded Twilightand they just destroy her more in every film.  Not nice.

And now for the moment you’ve probably not all been waiting for…WHAT DO THE UNDEAD DUO THINK OF RENEESME? Or Renesme, or however it is spelled.  Kristen is mortally wounded by the entire thing.  She wants nothing to do with the little creep.  She hates the name, she hates the power the kid has, she hates that she is the offspring of Edward, who she has avid dislike for, and mousy Bella.  I like the weirdness of the whole thing.  I love weird.  I like the creepy kid.  Talking infants that can make you see shit?  Fun.  If this were a horror novel/movie, that could be killer.  Case in point, it is not, so it is just creepy, which is good enough for me.  Four books just about Bella and Edward would be dull as hell.  The whole imprinting thing with the baby and Jacob can’t be anything but weird.  It is a baby.  Come on.  But I find it to be an absolutely brilliant solution to all of the conflicts in the series, from why Bella and Jacob can’t be together, to why the wolves have to have a truce with the vampires, and why the baby can’t be killed.  That’s some mastery and complexity to aspire to.  (I do aspire to this in Running Home, as well as the rest of the trilogy in the works.  I like complex.  Kristen prefers the Keep It Simple, Stupid approach in the Immortal Dilemma series.)

(Kristen’s note:  my approach simply refers to me preferring to stick to one mythology, i.e. vampires.  I do not believe that just because you have vampires you need to have werewolves and brownies and fae.  Pick one and make it as rich as possible.)

I will let you know in no less random format what we think of the movie on Friday.  I will have to write it because Kristen will still be nursing a hangover.  Let us know your thoughts on Breaking Dawn, the first one, the second one, the movie or all three.  We love this crap.

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