Deadly Ever After

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

Archive for the tag “Self Publishing”

Cover Reveal! (and so much more) PRETTY WICKED by Kelly Charron

 

TODAY’S BREW: It’s 95 degrees. I AM a cup of coffee

By Julie

SO EXCITED FOR THIS BOOK. I don’t tell you guys enough what I’m reading. I’ll do that soon, but for now THIS BOOK.

Pretty Wicked Printable 330 6x9

 

About PRETTY WICKED:

The daughter of a local police detective, fifteen-year-old Ryann has spent most of her life studying how to pull off the most gruesome murders her small Colorado town has ever seen.

But killing is only part of it. Ryann enjoys being the reason the cops are frenzied. The one who makes the neighbors lock their doors and windows on a hot summer’s day. The one everyone fears but no one suspects. 

Carving out her own murderous legacy proves harder than she predicted. Mistakes start adding up. And with the police getting closer, and her own father becoming suspicious, Ryann has to prove once and for all that she’s smarter than anyone else—or she’ll pay the ultimate price. 

Praise for Pretty Wicked: 

 

“This creepy novel places you inside the mind of a twisted teen killer, which is even more unsettling because of how familiar and normal she seems. Be prepared to leave the lights on and look at the people around you in a whole new way.”

 

-Eileen Cook | Author of WITH MALICE

 

 

“Dark and haunting, this witty thriller with its petite feminine anti-hero is an American Psycho for teens. Be prepared to sleep with the lights on.”

 

Lisa Voisin | Author of THE WATCHER SAGA

 

 

“Pretty Wicked is fresh, thrilling, and deeply haunting. I’ve never read anything like it! The story escalates from page one and will leave your pulse pounding as you wonder just how far Ryann will go. 5/5 stars.”

 

Tiana Warner | Author of ICE MASSACRE & ICE CRYPT

 

NOW I WILL LET YOU READ SOME, LOOK:

 

I heard the bell ring in the distance. Lunch was over. I leapt up to go when I was struck with panic. What if someone had seen me walk out there with Veronica? No one could know what I’d done. My breath hitched.

I ran as fast as I could back to the yard and to the first teacher I saw.

“Mrs. Hopkins! Come quick, Veronica’s really hurt!” I pretended to be hysterical so effectively that she couldn’t understand me the first few times.

She bent down so we were at eye level. “Where?”

“We went into the woods at the far end of the property. I’m sorry. I know we’re not allowed, but she fell and she’s not moving! You have to hurry!” I sobbed, shoulders shaking, snotty nose. I don’t know how I’d managed to look so distraught, but I nearly convinced myself.

Mrs. Hopkins turned to a kid named Austin, who was in the grade ahead of me. “Go get Mr. Chute. Tell him to call 911 and to come out and meet me in the woods.”

Austin, who was paper white, nodded and took off like his ass was on fire.

I ran back with Mrs. Hopkins to the rocks where I’d left Veronica. She was in the exact position I’d left her. Thankfully there was no miraculous recovery waiting for us.

After she was taken away in an ambulance, Mrs. Hopkins and Mr. Chute walked me back and called my parents.

My dad showed up to the school, hugged me, and told me how brave I was.

After my mother had finally stopped fussing and checking on me every twenty minutes, I sat on my bed and thought about Veronica. It would be weird not to see her in class every day or hang out with her at lunch, not that we hung out that much. I was usually with Bao-yu anyway, but sometimes she came along. Maybe now B and I would be better friends. She wouldn’t have to share me anymore.

I wondered what I was feeling—if I was missing Veronica. But I didn’t think that’s what it was. The twinge in the bottom of my stomach didn’t have the achy hollowness that people refer to as a pit. It was more like butterflies.

 

 

 

Link for Amazon: 

https://www.amazon.com/Pretty-Wicked-CharronKellyebook/dp/B01KAX8VLQ/ref=sr_1_6?ie=UTF8&qid=1471040176&sr=8-6&keywords=pretty+wicked#nav-subnav

 

Link for Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/31394680-pretty-wicked?ac=1&from_search=true

AN INTERVIEW WITH THE WONDERFUL LADY WHO WROTE THIS SCARY-ASS BOOK!

 

Questions about Pretty Wicked:

 

  1. What inspired you to write such a dark character?

 

I’ve always been fascinated with psychology and human motivation. Whenever I read a novel or watched a movie or television show, I was drawn to the villain. I wanted to understand what made them act the way they did––delve into what happened in their lives or minds to make them the person they had become.

 

When there was the odd story from the “villains” point of view, it seemed to characterize them as “misunderstood” and usually spun them into a likeable character who was the hero of that new version of the story. I wanted to write something unique and portray the villain realistically. What would the story look like if they were a true villain? I got the idea for a teenage serial killer who was unapologetic about who she was and what she wanted and thought it was really interesting to explore what her point of view would be if she drove the story and the “villain” was the detective trying to stop her.

 

  1. Is this your first novel?

 

Pretty Wicked is the second book I wrote and the first to be published. I have been writing for ten years. My first book was a YA urban fantasy that took me seven years to complete because I kept stopping for huge chunks of time while I completed my degrees (English Lit and Social Work). I finally got serious about writing in 2013 and have just completed my fourth novel.

 

  1. Why did you choose to self-publish?

 

I did query it to literary agents and received a lot of positive praise for the book. In the end I kept hearing the same feedback: it’s a fascinating concept, the writing and voice are great, but we don’t think we can sell such a dark book to a publisher. I completely understand this. I know this book is going to be very polarizing. People will either love the concept of hate it. So far I have had overwhelmingly encouraging feedback from readers who understand that this is a fictional story that is trying to do something different from most novels. There was some interest from small publishers but the wait times were longer than I was comfortable with. I decided if I wanted to see this book out in the world I was going to have to do it myself. It was an intimidating process, but luckily I have an amazing and brilliant support group who helped me along the way.

 

  1. What genres do you write in?

 

Psychological thriller, urban fantasy, and horror. I have two YA urban fantasy books, though one may never see the light of day. It’s my first book and would need to be rewritten before I decide its fate. The second (currently titled Wilde Magic) is the first in a planned series that I am very excited about.

 

Here is a short blurb:

 

The novel follows fifteen-year-old Ainsley Davenport as she moves from her life in Maine to attend a prestigious boarding school in Massachusetts after her widowed mother marries a wealthy man that she can’t stand. At Ashbury Academy, Ainsley meets a group of students whom she finds more sophisticated and exciting than any kids she’s ever encountered. Ainsley is pulled into a world of wealth and extravagance, but it isn’t long before she realizes some things aren’t adding up and there is more to Ashbury than meets the eye. One of the oldest covens in history, The Wildes, is hidden beneath the school grounds. Magic is alive and well, and the coven is actively training new witches in this secret enchanted society. Ainsley soon recognizes that she may be in over her head when she uncovers secrets that she was never meant to know. The magical kind. The deadly kind.

 

  1. Is Pretty Wicked a standalone novel?

 

The Pretty Wicked series will continue with adult books. The sequel, Wicked Fallout, is currently going through editing and the third book in the series is brewing in my mind. I have some very fun ideas for Ryann.

 

Wicked Fallout takes place twelve years later when Ryann is 27 years old. That’s all I can say right now as to not reveal spoilers.

 

  1. Ryann is not a very likable character. Do you like her?

 

I actually do. I really enjoyed writing her. I don’t agree with anything she does at all! In that sense, Ryann is deplorable! But what I like is her humor and wit and the way she owns who she is. She was a fun character to write because she is so different to most characters out there. It’s like when you see a Hollywood actor discuss their favorite roles. Often they say the villain roles were their preferred because it was more fun and exciting to play. There are forbidden elements that make it a bit more exciting than the standard hero. It’s no different for me as the writer.

 

  1. What is your writing process?

 

I have a day job so writing usually happens in the evenings and on weekends. I work in a school so I am fortunate to have shorter days, two vacation break periods, and summers off which really help me carve out the time needed.

 

On a writing day (Saturday or Sunday) I will get up, shower, eat breakfast, procrastinate with some TV and then get to it. I’ll make a coffee and park myself on my couch (even though I have a beautiful desk in an actual home office). I’ll write for about 2-3 hours (about 1500-2000 words on average). I may do another session later that evening if I’m really inspired. I watch a lot of television and read widely to inspire my creativity and ideas.

 

I also have an amazing group of friends who are writers as well and we meet up to have writing and brainstorming sessions, which is fantastic!

 

kelly charron

 

Kelly Charron is the author of YA and adult horror, psychological thrillers and urban fantasy novels. All with gritty, murderous inclinations and some moderate amounts of humor. She spends far too much time consuming true crime television (and chocolate) while trying to decide if yes, it was the husband, with the wrench, in the library. She lives with her husband and cat, Moo Moo, in Vancouver, British Columbia. 

 

Connect with her:

 

Sign up for her mailing list or check out upcoming books at: http://kellycharron.com

 

Twitter: https://twitter.com/KellyMCharron

 

Facebook: https://goo.gl/UNkH3g

 

Goodreads: https://goo.gl/rf4NlM

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Happy Anniversary!

Today’s Brew: lemon zinger iced tea

by Kristen

A8

Today is the one year anniversary of the day I hit publish on Because the Night and Night Moves. These books had been available before, but I took the rights back to my work and published them on my own.

Night Songs 12

This day will always be special to me, because it’s the day I took complete control of my work. My future in publishing. Before that I was bumbling along, learning all that I could, waiting for other people to make decisions that impacted the course of my career, hoping for some snippets for advice that could take me to the next level. We all know that no means no in traditional publishing and getting a why is a luxury. I was frustrated. I wanted more but I wasn’t sure how to get it. I believed in what I was doing. I kept writing, but I had no idea if I was growing because I wasn’t getting the right eyes on it, or more importantly, the right feedback on what I was producing.

The more I talked to authors who were going on it their own, the more I liked what they had to say. They were putting out beautiful books on their own terms and were totally in control of their own destinies. If you’ve hung around here for a while, you know I like having control over things. I wanted what they had. So I went out and got it.

It was terrifying. I surrounded myself with good, supportive people who were familiar with indie publishing. I made myself a student of the business. And then I jumped in the water.

Making the decision to self-publish means that I’m now able to communicate my vision for my story in the way that I intended to share it.

  • Editing is the thing that elevates a writer’s work, the lessons from one project carrying over to another. If a writer never gets that opportunity, they can’t grow. They’ll be stuck in purgatory forever, wondering where they’re missing the mark.
  • I’m fully involved with my cover designs, and I’ve had the opportunity to work with a team of amazing cover designers and graphic artists. The covers are just as important as what’s happening on the inside, because we truly do judge a book by its cover. As I write that, I think it’s an interesting analogy. Were we so conditioned to terrible book covers that we had to look past that to get to the story inside? Not anymore. Covers are more than images and words. They’re marketing tools that have to instantly convey message, mood, and theme. They’re art.
  • I have the power to market my books in the way that’s best for them, in that moment. I’m not waiting for a publisher to change a price or buy promo. I control the destiny of each book. I can experiment with new marketing, change prices, and get the word out about my stories. If I learned anything in my journey, it’s that no one cares about my books more than I do.
  • If something doesn’t work, I change it. Covers, price, editing. It’s easy. Not a ten step process that I hope someone approves.

Since July 8, 2014, I’ve released ten additional stories. Why did I release so often? I had inventory of stories waiting for someone to finally look at, I wanted to build my brand in a crowded market place, and the best reason of all: because I fucking can. Once I had my team in place, I there was no reason not to share these stories with readers. I took chances on stories that a publisher would never look at and released the Colorado Shifters series, a collection of shifter novellas that are some of my best sellers. I write in more than one genre, sometimes at the same time. I tell the story that’s in my heart. I might write a lot, but I’m absolutely smitten with every character I create. Speed doesn’t change that. It just means I have more kids to love.

Traditional publishing is notorious for moving slowly while indie publishing moves so fast that even I have to stop and catch my breath every so often. I love that. It’s exciting. New things are happening all the time, and I’m happy to take part in it. I talk a lot about right now, but this is a long game. My books are available to discover and enjoy forever. I have a plan, but it’s flexible. I can always choose to do what’s right for my books and my readers, and abandon what’s not working.

I haven’t had a breakout hit, but each release gets better and better. The Fire Dancer hit #1 in its category on its release weekend.  It’s a vampire book that may have never seen the light of day if I had to wait for a publisher to buy it.

Sure, there are drawbacks. My books aren’t in Barnes and Noble, but when was the last time you bought a book from Barnes and Noble?  I have a harder time getting bigger press or the attention of foreign markets or movie makers.  But it’s not impossible. It just means not now, not never.

Going indie was a scary decision. It meant abandoning everything I had been working toward and starting over. I cried a lot and lost sleep, and I still do. I don’t think that will part ever go away, no matter how the stories come out. Going indie was the best decision for my career. I’m in complete control of my destiny, I know what I’m working toward, and I have to stop blogging now because I’m itching to get back to writing the story I’m working on. I’ll share it with all of you soon. (very soon!)

To celebrate, Because the Night is part of the OMGReads Stuff your Kindle sale. Close to 50 titles on sale for 99 cents. There are some sweet box sets in there, too!

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.

 

Postcards From Self Publishing Island

Today’s Brew: So much coffee I’m going to be digging my car out of a foot of snow with my bare hands.

by Kristen

If you’ve been following along with the Undead Duo the last eighteen or so months, you’ll know that we don’t do anything the traditional way. We do it our way.

 Julie’s got a publishing deal with a small press, but I had to go straight into the unknown. I chose agent assisted self publishing. Before you get out your pitchforks, enough people are doing this that Amazon has dedicated a service to agent assisted published books.  They just aren’t talking about it. I am, because I don’t think it’s anything to be ashamed of. It’s the best of both worlds. I have total control, I get professional guidance, and my agent still has interest in the book.  An agent’s job doesn’t end when the book sells, and that’s why I chose to include her in this journey. For my first series, I wanted my hand held as much as possible. It may not be the best decision for everyone, but for me, it’s working.

When you have a publisher, you have a team. People do stuff for you. I am the president and CEO of The Night Songs Collection. I write, I hire editors, I am actively involved in choosing the cover art, I do the publicity, run the contests, oh yeah, and write books.  There’s still publicity going on for Because the Night and Seasons in the Sun. Night Moves is getting its final touches put into place, and it’s coming out soon, so publicity needs to start for that. We Own the Night is in the first round of editing. And Silent Night is still being written. That’s five books. Going on at once.

My head is spinning. They’re all my children and they all deserve an equal amount of attention. But already, Seasons in the Sun got overshadowed by Because the Night.  Eventually, all the books will sell each other, providing people are interested in reading on, but for now, they all still need a push out into the world. No one knows about me or my books, and right now, I need to tell them why they care about my awesomeness.

Because I’m still freshly hatched into the published world, getting people to care was tougher than I thought. Even when I wanted to hire people, it wasn’t always a guarantee they wanted to work with me. I offered my book for review and was politely declined. Rejection doesn’t end when you publish your book, kids. My first instinct was the climb back inside myself and do everything myself.

It’s impossible. Remember I wanted my hand held? You need a team, even if you’re self publishing.

And even when people do agree to help, they aren’t always the best fit for your books. Julie and I have talked many times. You make your mistakes on the first book. It’s painful, because your first book is your first child. You want everything perfect, but perfect takes time. It’s like the editing process, it takes a couple of tries to get it right. And you don’t always know things aren’t right until you find the right fit.

Now my team is falling into place, and the weight has lifted off my shoulders. For the first time in a long time, all I have to really worry about is writing. 

It’s glorious.

Not only will I reap the rewards, but my readers will, too.

Please, God, let there be readers. 

 

 

 

Reading The Genre You Write

Today’s Brew:  Blueberry Mountain Goodness

by Kristen

Victoria Frances

Artwork by Victoria Frances

I read a lot. I’m not one of those 5 books a week kind of girls, but I devour a few a month. I don’t go anywhere without a book.  And I’m open to trying just about anything, although I tend always leans towards paranormal and a lot of my books come from the YA section of Barnes and Noble, simply because it’s the best merchandised section of the store. Presentation does matter, kids.  I really enjoy biographies and I’m trying to catch up on some of the classics.

Lately I’ve made an effort to read more vampire romances, since my books feature romance with vampires.  As a writer, I look at books now differently than when I read before I cracked open my manuscript.  Much more critically. I’m aware of tropes, character development, and conflict.  I miss just reading without my inner editor pointing her finger at things.

I noticed a few themes emerging.  Tiny, spunky, usually virginal heroines that are master flirts and usually unbearable cockteases.  Big burly vampire kings from Scotland or some other super white place who haven’t had sex since Jesus walked the earth. They are all rich, rich, rich. One doesn’t want the other, but they can’t resist each other.  Once our two heroes finally wind up in bed, somehow our heroine winds up with super powers! She singlehandedly takes down whole army that vampire king has battled unsuccessfully for centuries.

Prologue:  Two years later, She-ra can’t believe that Thor is her actually husband. They look out onto the sunset with their two babes, Baby She-ra and Thor Junior and live happily ever after. Awww.

You guys, this so isn’t my book. My vampires aren’t old,they have sex on the regular, my characters aren’t all white, they aren’t royalty, they try to save the day, but….well, I’ll let you find out what happens.  As publication day looms, I find myself getting nervous about things that shouldn’t matter.  Like, is there a secret formula I’m supposed to follow when I write my book to guarantee people like it? I read like three of these books described above in a row. All by different authors. Do people want to read about characters that are more like them than royalty? Will readers be open to something different?  Will they be mad if they pick up my book, expecting something like that and getting my story instead?

Everyone says they’re looking for something different, yet these are all best selling books, and they’re all very similar. I’m not saying they’re bad AT ALL, I just noticed a very clear theme.

Julie made a great point the other day.  She’s noticed agents are looking for something fresh and new, but publishers want a sure thing.  I think this is where self publishing has the biggest advantage. Books that don’t quite fit in the neat little genre boxes get a chance for the public to know and love them.  Then the public can get what they really want, not what someone else has already chosen for them.

Because The Night: It’s Happening!

Today’s Brew: Champagne!

by Kristen

I am pleased, okay, over the moon to announce that my debut novel, new adult paranormal romance Because The Night, will be available in November.

It’s being published by (drum roll please)…me.

The time is right for this to happen.  I’ve already been doing publicity for  this book, even before the decision to self publish was in stone.  Seasons in The Sun, the prequel to Because The Night, will be published by Fast Foreward Publishing this fall.  Night Moves is the companion novel to Because The Night.  The book is being polished just as if it was being released by a traditional publisher.  This is not a case of being lazy or impatient.  Simply, it’s a case of moving forward.  I’m ready.  Self publishing wasn’t the path I planned to take, but the more I looked at things, the more sense it made for this series.  The best things in life happen when you take a chance. Nothing happens if you don’t.

This doesn’t mean I’m giving up on traditional publishing. When I told my agent, Pam van Hylckama Vlieg, about my plan she thought I was an excellent candidate for self publishing. Since Pam was a book blogger before she was an agent, she’s got a good feel of what the public will be interested in.   Pam is going to help me with publishing this book as well as the next two in the series.  Publishing a book is so much more than just putting a book out, and I’m thrilled to have such talent in my corner.

Here’s what you can expect:

November 2013: Because The Night
Fall 2013: Seasons In The Sun (YA Prequel)
2014: Night Moves (Book 2) and We Own The Night (book 3)

A little more of what you can expect: a taste of Because The Night:

Instead of bringing us out to seats in the audience, Tony led us to the side of the stage to a spot just behind the curtain, feet away from Tristan. When he spotted me, he only winked at me like we shared a private joke, and continued with his performance. I sucked in my breath and held on for the ride.

It felt intimate to be so close to the band as they put on their show. I felt the heat of the flash pots and saw the sweat on the faces of the background dancers. We moved out of the way as the roadies scrambled to change instruments for the band. I could see all the notes plastered on the stage. I peeked around the curtain every so often to see the crowd, who were completely enthralled with everything the band did.

But mostly, I just watched Tristan. Tonight he wore his signature black leather pants, which clung dangerously low below his hipbones. They ended in black combat boots that were casually untied. He topped the outfit off with a black T shirt adorned with an intricate white pattern that clung like a second skin. His eyes were heavily rimmed with black liner and his hair hung in his face, down on his chest and back. It swung around him as he roamed all over the stage. His fingers moved over his guitar seductively, teasing it, bringing it to the brink of hysteria then coaxing it back down to a purr. Almost as if he was making love to it.

The thought made me flush all over. I could hardly bear to watch him, but I couldn’t look away.

The show seemed to end before I was ready to stop watching. Tristan came right over to me as he walked off stage.

Look who’s my date tonight,” he grinned triumphantly as he approached me.

You have a date tonight?” For a moment I was oblivious to the fact he meant me.

Yes,” he reached out and put his hands on my hips. Even after running around on stage under those bright lights for over an hour, he hadn’t so much as broken a sweat. Even his stage makeup was still perfect. He leaned in so he could speak close to my ear. “And she looks fabulous in her little black dress.”

Thanks,” I managed, but it didn’t seem like enough. It was all I could say though, looking up at Tristan, with his eyes just inches from mine. In the distance—it might as well have been in another universe–I realized the music on the stage had resumed. “Don’t you have to go back out on stage?”

He shook his head, his eyes never leaving mine. “It’s just his solo. And truthfully, Callie, the show will start again whenever I decide to go back out there. They can wait.”

Oh,” I gulped so hard it hurt. What was he going to do?

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