Deadly Ever After

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

Archive for the tag “The Harpy”

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.

 

An Ode to Ryan at Register 4

TODAY’S BREW: Water. My skin is like lava.

By Julie

I don’t get out much these days, and I’m good that way, but last night an old friend and colleague and a woman I admire more than I can say took me to dinner.

She said she wanted to celebrate my success.

What the hell did I do? I thought. My first book is 3 years old, my THE HARPY is behind schedule with my new publisher, THE WIND BETWEEN WORLDS has yet to be picked up…. I don’t do things. What the hell success is she talking about?

Well, it wasn’t what I did that makes me a success for her, it’s what I do. My fight for Sam, finally diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder, while still editing for clients consistently, continuously writing and revising, being involved in the school and being the mother I work to be for my boys and the wife I try to be…. it’s success. Every day it’s success because it’s exactly what I want to be doing, and it isn’t easy but I will damn well do all of it.

It made me remember that everyone is a hero to someone. Accomplishments don’t make a hero, actions do. It’s not always the big things you’re a hero for, and everyone’s visions of what the big things are is different.

You mean something. You aren’t just anything–you’re important. Someone remembers you for something you did, said, stood for. Chances are it’s for something you’ve forgotten entirely.

My latest hero is Ryan at Target in Hanover.

target receipt

You all know my family has been contending with our baby’s mood disorder. We’re doing wonders with it, but there’s always going to be bad moments, triggers that can’t always be avoided, new ones that come. Well, on June 12th Sam had a serious episode in the Hanover, MA Target. We weren’t there long, we didn’t need a lot, and everything was going fine, and then SNAP. He started crying, hiding, didn’t want anyone near him as we were checking out. I gave him his space, we made it to the doorway and he crumpled. Sobbing, begging me to leave him there, that he couldn’t be near people, that he couldn’t even stand up to leave because someone would see him and he shouldn’t be near people. So me and Ben and Sam sat in the corner in front of the big glass doors, for as long as it took, as loud as he needed to be, as much of a spectacle as we had to be, to make Sammy okay. A number of people stopped on their way out and said things like, “you’re doing awesome,” “can I do anything to help?” and “my child has x disorder and I know what you’re going through.”

It was the young man that cashed us out, Ryan, who had seen Sammy breaking down before we made it to the door, who told me he understood and why, who was so thoughtful and connected that particularly made me feel supported. All of the folks who stopped were amazing, one coming to tears with me, but this cashier didn’t just stop at getting me out of his line. He went to the Starbuck’s and got me a glass of ice water, and brought it to me as I sat on the floor with my kids, with Sam howling aand Ben just doing anything he could to help. I heard the lady at the Starbuck’s counter say, “That was so nice, Ryan,” and I haven’t forgotten.

Eventually we were able to comfortably get Sammy out of the store and he was fine within an hour of the episode’s start. We work hard as a family to ensure that he is okay. Nothing is more important. And Ryan at register four was a part of making it okay. He made a difference. He helped us get through another five minutes when–well, when I needed it. We all suffer with Sam, and let me tell you, I cry in public like it’s my job. It’s part of the reason why I can fight as hard as I do, why I can endure the unpredictability and be strong. I don’t hide from anyone, because I’m human, and because I want my boys to know that it’s okay to be human. It’s okay to freak out, and yeah, it’s okay to cry if you need to. Whenever it happens.

But it can be very isolating, even amidst all of these wonderful people that were at Target that day, I needed that ice water hug. Ryan saw that and he helped. He wasn’t just a cashier that day, and he isn’t ever just a cashier to me. I keep that Target receipt, and I called the store to ensure he was recognized, because he was a hero to me. And he reminded me that there are heroes all over the place, suffering and saving and hurting and helping. Being there for each other, even/especially strangers, makes you mean something.

And Ryan at register 4? You mean a lot.

 

The Muse Can Suck So Many Eggs by Julie

TODAY’S BREW: Pumpkin spice. Like you had to ask.

By Julie

I’m a huge Chuck Wendig fan, and one of the greatest reasons I love him is because of his JUST FUCKING WRITE policy. Like this one: http://terribleminds.com/ramble/2015/09/15/dear-writers-and-creative-types-you-dont-need-motivation/

I make no bones about how much I hate this elusive goddamn muse everyone talks about.

“I can’t write today, my muse is missing.”

“I have no inspiration to write, my muse is being lazy.”

“I could be writing but the muse wants to watch ten episodes of whatever this tv show is.”

This inspiration that has to punch you in the frigging face in order for you to write your book is an illusion. That broad works for you. You call the shots.

This isn’t a post about how you have to write every day or you’re not a writer. This is a post about how I make the muse show up for work and half the time I send her home because I don’t need her.

“How do you come up with your ideas?” We get this one a lot, right writers? Few of us have an answer. Our brains are built that way, we think in stories. I fuel the brain to make the stories. If you have a tough time finding inspiration, try this stuff. Because getting the inspiration is great—that blast of dream sequence brilliance that suddenly turns into a book? Love it. It’s fun. But writing is my job. So I work for it. I earn that inspiration by searching for it. Here’s some stuff I do to keep the ball rolling:

  • I get a scrapbook. One of my favorite places to get a really beautiful one that begs to be touched is https://www.etsy.com/transaction/1029658438. I fell on the Halloween one pictured and it took my breath away—how perfectly it fit THE WIND BETWEEN WORLDS. Now I have a spot to put all the little things that remind me of my characters, and build upon. THE WIND BETWEEN WORLDS started with one picture in a magazine. Then I built upon them by asking questions. What’s the relationship between these six girls? What’s different about them? What do they DO? Who’s the strongest, meanest, funniest, etc…? And I gathered things that spoke to me about each of them and putting them together in a scrapbook helped me keep them all distinctly different, but with an overall tone, a feeling that united them.
  • Coincidentally, I didn’t FIND stuff to put in the scrapbook–I SEARCHED for stuff. Celeste is the Witch of Stars. Suddenly I was looking everywhere I was for stars to put in the scrapbook. Then it became that I was looking for the colors associated with her—silver, purple, blue. I’d bribe the kids to let me dig through the clearance bins at the craft store, I’d look through things I’d saved over the years that could fit in. I search eBay, Etsy, Amazon, Pinterest of course….. Things that struck me I’d ask myself why they did, and how it related to the book. Sure, maybe I’d fall for a dinosaur soup ladle and that had nothing to do with anything. But a lot of times I’d come across something I knew would be in Celeste’s bedroom, a lipstick shade I knew one of the Witches would wear, a map, a piece of jewelry, all kinds of things that would be in their world. And the scrapbook filled up. More importantly, I was ALWAYS looking for things to put in it. Every place I went provided an opportunity to add ideas, to thicken the soup. Oh, maybe the ladle had something to add after all.
  • I think about words. No, I’m not kidding. Words that sound good together, pretty poetry, gross words mixed with beautiful words, and I write them down. And I build around them. I heard once that you buy a piece of art and build the room around it. I do this with words. The line, “I swallowed a Hell splinter,” spawned THE HARPY. THE WIND BETWEEN WORLDS was a phrase that showed up in my head after seeing the magazine picture that gave me the idea, and I wrote around it. Write all the words down, whether they mean something or not. Then MAKE THEM MEAN SOMETHING IF YOU LOVE THEM.
  • I read magazines LOOKING for something to spark interest. Good interest, bad interest. A phrase, a look in the eye, colors that do or don’t go together, a picture I HATE and ask myself why, then make a character that would hate it too, etc…. But I never read a magazine just to read it. I’m LOOKING.
  • When I can’t think anymore and I do Buzzfeed quizzes? I take them from my characters’ points of view. You’d be shocked at what this does for me.

I have tons of this crap that I do. I won’t go into all of it here, but what I want you to get from it is that if you WANT to write, everything you do, see, think, don’t think, is story fodder. It’s all in the pot. Store shelves, movie theaters, commercials, tourist traps, museums, zoos, the post office, they all offer something. Because I want them to. No minute is wasted, but it doesn’t feel like work even though it is. I want to do it too damn badly. The muse can take notes.

I CAN WRITE THREE BOOKS AT ONCE OR MAYBE NOT by Julie

TODAY’S BREW: Pumpkin anything.

By Julie

SUMMER IS OVER. Also known as The Dark Night of the Writing Soul, at least for me. Our summer was awesome. My little boys were happy most of the time just being home. So wonderful and weird. Last year we had a difficult summer—okay, it was an absolutely torturous summer—and this year it was twice as easy. But tiring. My days were a tumult of park visits, querying THE WIND BETWEEN WORLDS, endless games of chess, Uno, Rummy, doctor visits and therapy appointments, playdates, editing for clients, readying for THE HARPY release, maintaining a sort of working household….. so many things.

And also plotting books.

Every summer I say, “By the end of the summer I’ll have X Book’s first draft finished!” I never do. Then I put this wild deadline on myself to finish the project in the first month of the school year. Too hard. So this summer I gave myself a break and didn’t pressure myself to write 1000 words a day. Instead I planned. I planned a lot.

Turns out I planned three books, all of which have equal space in my head. I’ve been trying to figure out which one to write first: the final Shinigami vampire book, the prequel to THE WIND BETWEEN WORLDS, or the sequel to THE WIND BETWEEN WORLDS. (We need not mention the post-apocalyptic badass character that keeps popping up in my head.)

I tried, and tried to figure out which to write first. They all have a good argument. So guess what?

I’M WRITING ALL THREE AT ONCE.

Yeah, you heard me. A lot of it will probably be on paper, and one will emerge victorious in the race, but right now I’m feeling all three books.

NEVER SLEEP AGAIN.

DON’T YELL AT ME, I HAVE REASONS. HERE:

  • My writing routine changes with every damn book anyway. Why not make MASSIVE CHANGE? I make the damn rules around here.
  • For the first time ever I will have 2 hours five days a week to myself, now that both Sam and Ben will be going to the same school—five minutes from home. This is a luxury for me.
  • Editing business is strong. I’m busy. And the more I edit, the better writer I become. Also, as nuts as it is, the more I have to DO, the more regimented I become. The less likely I am to let free time slide.
  • With three books to work on, my 1000 Word A Day Diet will be easy to achieve. It will probably become 2000 words or more on some occasions. This keeps my mind healthy, and keeps me IN the books. And finally….
  • If it doesn’t work, IT’S OKAY. I will let it be okay. There are no mistakes in creativity. And if I find out there are, well, I’ll make better mistakes tomorrow. And trust me, I know mistakes. I could write a fourth book on HOW TO MAKE PUBLISHING MISTAKES. But there is one indisputable fact: I couldn’t fail unless I try.

JULIE ANNOUNCES ALL THE THINGS!

TODAY’S BREW: The Vanilla of France

By Julie

Holy mother of all Hell and creatures of many shapes and sizes, I HAVE THINGS TO SAY. So many of them, I cannot fit them all here but I will goddamn try.

First. FIRST. There’s this amazing podcast, Haunted Nights Live? Yeah, Christopher Rice was on last week. You know, CHRISTOPHER RICE. Go ahead, go listen:  http://t.co/vn8mGyiVeW. Then in a couple of weeks? Laurell K. Hamilton will be on. OH YOU KNOW, LAURELL K. HAMILTON. And right in between them, this Thursday, June 11th? OH IT WILL BE ME ON HAUNTED NIGHTS LIVE, BETWEEN THOSE FOLKS. You know, just Chris Ricey and ol’ LKH. Holy Christ.

Annnnyway, it’s on Thursday, June 11th at 9pm EST. Like Thorne & Cross: Haunted Nights Live so you can get the heads up when I talkeroo: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Thorne-Cross-Haunted-Nights-LIVE/360703350753608 and/or also at Authors on the Air here: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorsOnTheAir.

PRETTY PLEASE LISTEN TO ME! I’m giving away a couple of signed copies of RUNNING HOME, and I have things to yap about and you know me….I have OPINIONS.

Also, I’ll probably talk about OH NOTHING, JUST THAT FINALLY, FINALLY THE HARPY HAS FOUND A HOME AND IT COULD NOT POSSIBLY BE A BETTER HOME I COULD NOT BE MORE EXCITED.

REUTS Publications has given the bitter, brutal, anti-Batman, Charity Blake a go. You guys. This is really emotional for me. Charity is close to my heart because she’s close to nobody’s heart. But you want her on the page. You guys are going to love/fear/want to hang out with/run fast from her.

For the full press release, and to read a little more about what to expect, here’s my new publishing home!  http://blog.reuts.com/julie_hutchings_signs_the_harpy/

But if you want some quickies, which Charity isn’t afraid to give, she’s a little of this:

charity burlesque

Maybe not that sweet though, she’s got a lot of this:

steampunk charityboozin

But with more booze and raw meat? Oh, there’s also some of this:

EvanRobbieBut also a place kind of like this:

harpies danteBut more fun than THAT, for crying out loud. Like this:

red hellAnd with folks like these:

harpy hell

harpy skull

But to lighten the mood, there’s one of these:

canary

You guys will be into it, I promise! Go add that girl on Goodreads! https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/25665403-the-harpy?from_search=true&search_version=service_impr Support that you don’t always want the good girl to win.

Anyhow, thank you guys for being here when I want to blab at you and please listen on Thursday! YOU OWE ME. You totally don’t, but listen anyway.

THE HARPY IS COMING TO LIFE WITH REUTS PUBLICATIONS!

TODAY’S BREW: champagne.

By Julie

I’ve been waiting to give this news for a long time. Another day will be ALL MY FEELINGS about it. There are so many.

Read the full press release here: http://blog.reuts.com/julie_hutchings_signs_the_harpy/

Julie Hutchings Signs Dark Fantasy/Horror Mythology with REUTS

Posted by on Jun 4, 2015 in Press Release | No Comments

a-harpy

It’s about to get dark and twisted up in here. That’s the life Charity Blake lives in the newest addition to the REUTS collection—THE HARPY, by the lovely Julie Hutchings. In this incredibly moving and imaginative tale, Julie brings the mythology of the harpy to life in a way you’ve never seen before. We’re thrilled to bring this amazing story to the world! And trust us, it’s all parts dark and all parts twisted to become 200% awesome. It’s not for the faint of heart, that’s for sure, but it will have you holding your breath, choking back tears, and vigorously turning pages until the very end. Read a little bit about it:

“Hutchings beautifully breathes life into anti-heroine Charity Blake in a way that punches your gut and pulls at your heart at the same time. When eternity in Hell is more appealing than the life she’s made, Charity has to question if it’s possible to fix what–and who–she’s broken. The Harpy delivers a powerful story of hurt, revenge, and redemption, with emotion-filled prose and gripping imagery.”

Julie Takes the Gloves Off For 2015

TODAY’S BREW: Trader Joe’s Winter Blend. I love this stuff.

By Julie

You guys know me pretty well. What you see is what you get here, so if you think you don’t know me, then you haven’t seen anything. In any case here are some solid truths about me that are important these days:

I’m a determined, will-do sonofabitch. Nothing stops me, I don’t make excuses and I make damn sure that I turn every slip-up, every “failure” or rejection into a building block. I make plans, I change them, and I trust my gut. I’m true to me, I believe in myself and I make my own luck. Even when I lose, I win. And I have a helluva time doing it.

I firmly don’t believe in bad days. I’m a resilient motherfucker, and part of that means not getting bogged down by a string of bad moments, but brushing them off and creating the day you want. This also works for week, month, year, life.

If you know me REALLY well, you know that these things weren’t true of me in 2014. This year was a ballbuster. Hardest year of my life. And it beat me down. I’m one that’s quick to say that things can only beat you down if you let them, and more accurately I exemplify it. I’ve had a lot of experiences that change lives, and I’ve made a lot of life changing choices. I NEVER let my circumstances decide my life for me.

Then New Year’s Eve 2013 came. And my husband suddenly didn’t have a job. We already lived pretty goddamn minimally, and were perfectly happy about it. But this? This removed all of our steady income. Not to mention that we’re creatures of routine and habit. We like familiarity around here. Tim had worked at that job down the street from us since we were in high school. Imagine that feeling at 40 and what it does to a person. But as poor as we were, we’d be lying if we said we didn’t love being at home together all the time! The kids, Tim and me? We rarely got irritated by each other, we genuinely enjoyed our time. But it was hard because money and the inevitable depression of unemployment as hard-working people.

Not long after Tim got a new (wonderful for the heart) job, our then 3 year old baby began…. losing himself. WE were losing him. He was always a wild card, earning himself the nickname “Frats” because he was a walking frat party from birth. Without getting too in-depth, his spirit took a turn for violence, debilitating habits that had us walking on eggshells at best, and holding each other sobbing in parking lots at worst. Long, draining story short, we saw (and continue to see) several psychologists, psychiatrists and counselors, finally determining that our boy is not only extremely hyperactive, but has OCD and we need to be on the lookout for bi-polar disorder. Just keeping up with it, the medication, the constant shifting of gears, the effect of changing lots of rules in a house of routine and trying to be fair, nurturing, FUN, and a warrior for my kids’ health while one thrived and grew and the other struggled…. it tore me to shreds. A million times over. The whole time I was virtually isolated due to the new work schedule and my exhaustion. A dark night of the soul indeed.

The hits just kept coming, all year long, one after the other right up until this very week when I found out I have a large fibroid and some other vascular growth to be meddled with.

All of this put my writing and editing jobs into a flummox, and that last of my very own routines was demolished. The thing that was all my own that kept me sane, gone. Sure, RUNNING AWAY came out, and I’m grateful for that, but I wasn’t able to give it the attention it deserves upon publication, and the new book I’m working on has been recently shelved just to give myself a break. (Not for long. I start work again second week of January, so Jolene Haley, don’t freak out. THE WIND BETWEEN WORLDS is still very much alive.) In other book news, THE HARPY, which was being pitched to traditional publishers by my agent was determined overall to be too dangerous, too risky, too unorthodox and too “abrasive.” Rejections rolled in. But that is a story for another post.

In any case, this post for as little as it touches on our troubles this year, would have had me shuddering and scream-crying even a couple of weeks ago. Not now.

We were determined to give my boys an amazing Christmas. Sam, with all of the hard work he put in this year as just a baby, to simply be happy with himself deserved everything in the world for all his incredible progress. Doctors are shocked that he is so fantastic in public, so wonderful with other kids, so communicative and incredible in his first year of preschool because it must be exhausting for him. This baby tries so hard, most adults will never know how to control their emotions the way this child does. In the meantime, Bennett at 7 years old, is being asked to bend the rules over and over for his brother. He sacrifices, sees violence that he shouldn’t, and yet is happiest when he’s at home. He won an academic achievement award at school, not to mention countless little good behavior tickets from teachers. He’s sensitive, thoughtful, kind, hilarious, and loves his little brother more than I have ever seen any kid love their sibling. He taught him how to write, for chrissakes.

So these kids get ALL THE CHRISTMAS PRESENTS. Because if there’s one way to reward a kid for a great year, it’s that way. Simple. Fun. The final pat on the back of the year. Not to mention that our family was all together, when work has not permitted it as much, and we were so happy. Best Christmas ever.

I wanted a Christmas that kicked 2014 in the ass and said, “YOU’RE OVER. YOU CAN GO NOW.” It was my favorite Christmas ever, and Christmas vacation is still as amazing as the days leading up to it. We’re so happy. That’s all I want.

2014 knocked me to the ground and kicked me over and over. I was defensive. There was no plan, only reaction. There was little personal victory because I was always just trying to get up on my knees again.

Those days are over. I’m a warrior at heart, always have been. Any warrior worth his armor takes serious beating before their greatest victory.

Watch out, 2015. I’m coming for 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.

Branding Vs. Bite Me, I Write What I Want

TODAY’S BREW: A lot.

By Julie

Edits on RUNNING AWAY will be finished by March first, and while my beta readers dig in, I move on to the next project.

And with that, comes the initial worry of, “Well, shit. My readers aren’t ready for this.”

RUNNING AWAY feels very cohesive in character to RUNNING HOME to me, as well it should. The few people who have read THE HARPY, which is currently on submission to publishers, got an eyeful of Charity Blake, who, shall we say, has quite a bit more edge than Ellie Morgan. Charity would as soon give you the finger as make out with you in public.

March’s project is final edits on a book that I’ve let sit for a while, waiting for me. And it’s as different from THE HARPY as that book is from RUNNING HOME. There has been an excerpt or two on Deadly Ever After of THE ANIMAL, and it’s certainly not going to be for everyone. Erotic, aggressive, and in some parts probably offensive, it very well may not appeal to the same readers as RUNNING HOME. I have to wonder if I’m broadening my horizons or upsetting my readers by giving them Trent and Min, and all the debauchery the two are capable of.

The best part? Today’s plan is plotting my newest book, and man alive have I struggled with whether or not I should write this. Because naturally, the progression from Japanese vampires to a bitter, vengeful, punk Harpy, to an obsessive compulsive man possessed by a defiled sex god is straight to young adult. Naturally.

Yeah, that’s right. The adventures of an Egyptian sex god and the beginning of a young adult novel, all in the same month. Right after that, I might be making INSCRIPTION, my short horror story series that never seems to go away into a full length novel. And THAT features a teenage boy. So YA horror.

My mantra is to write the book you have to write. Don’t listen to what the trends are, don’t worry about what the Joneses are writing. Write the book that itches at your soul like a wound that won’t quite heal, and there will be an audience for it. Anything that ignites that much passion in you is going bleed onto the page, and that kind of power gets heard. I firmly believe it.

But then you’ve got the other side of life, which is branding. Am I making myself unpredictable? Is that a good thing or a bad thing? Am I right in relying on my voice and unique style to carry me through these wild ideas I have and make them have mass appeal based on that alone? Am I right in thinking that if the author connects with readers now more than ever, then my readers will expect me to write something unexpected, wild, often brash and always strong? Is it me selling the story, or the story running off without me?

What are your thoughts on sticking to the straight and narrow as opposed to giving all your work the attention you think it deserves? HELP ME, PEOPLE, I’M DYING.

 

 

How Not To Write Meaningless Stuff

TODAY’S BREW: Spiked Eggnog. Basically, I’ve been drinking it for a month

By Julie

I’m lucky enough to be reading THE SHADOW OF LIGHT by Summer Wier, a YA novel that I cannot wait to be published. We’re working on doing something you don’t hear much about—ADDING text, as she’s a sparse writer, something that I can identify with after writing THE HARPY and THE ANIMAL, and something I have to loosen up on in writing the sequel to RUNNING HOME, as that series is written with a bit more flourish.

Summer does a great job of still giving little details that tell you so much about  the characters without hitting you in the face with backstory and a lot of “she was this” and “she likes that.” Here’s the example that made me need to write this post:

“We brought your favorites—black olive and jalapeno pizza and strawberry cake.”  Faye was the only other person I knew who liked jalapenos on pizza.

I winked.  “You know me so well.”

This could have so easily been:

“We brought pizza and cake.” Faye loved pizza, and I didn’t care what I ate as long as it was edible.

“God, I’m starving.”

This is a tidbit that is absolutely meaningless in the long run. They got pizza and cake, whatever. But in Summer’s version, we see that our main character likes strong flavors, implying that she has strong opinions and probably isn’t a quiet onlooker about much of anything. I love the cheeky little wink. You also see that Faye is very close to her, that they know each other well without her having to say so.

In the two liner I wrote, it says nothing specific. It implies nothing, except that maybe this character is passive.

Take the interactions and transitions and seemingly unimportant lines in your work and make them actually say something. Remember the books you’ve read where you breeze over the more humdrum action, the cooking of things, the driving to places, the going to class or work or whatever. How could the author have made that part that probably bored them to write into a bit that has significance to the character?

An English literature major with a creative writing minor, I take this shit a little too seriously. It also means that I look to add depth where there could easily be none.

I do shit like this to keep me thinking. There’s a brown bowl on the table in front of me right now. I could say “I looked at the brown monkey bowl and lacked the initiative to put it in the sink again.” Or I could say, “the only reason I’d bother to put the bowl in the already sky-high sink was because the monkey on it looked at me like I was doing something wrong. Like my entire life revolved around what it thought, and like I should be doing something to wash the brown out of my life in general.”

Sure, not fucking Shakespeare, but I haven’t even had a second cup of coffee. You see what I mean, though? Of course you do, Smarty Pantalones.

Your work as an author is to write something that nobody else would have written. Not just could have written, but would have written. It’s your job to come up with stuff that makes us see inside the character’s minds and their hearts. There’s a level of thinking that you naturally let us in on, but what does the character feel without saying “it felt like I sucked at life.” You get it.

Thank you, Summer, for giving me inspiration again to write with more depth and complexity, and for learning about characters in the most obscure ways.

Here’s an idea. Try this with like, regular people. When you’re cashiering at Stop and Shop, what does the crappy Boba Fett Velcro wallet say about the guy in the suit who’s carrying it? That lady who never smiles no matter how many times you smile at her, what would make her smile? Who took it away from her?

Long story short, be active in your work and interactions. It’s more fun that way.


You can find Summer at http://t.co/MgTqtKYFe6 and follow her on Twitter @SummerWier.

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