Deadly Ever After

Archive for the tag “Undeaditing”

In Which You Learn About ALL SMOKE RISES by Mark Matthews and He Gushes About Me But I Didn’t Ask Him To.

TODAY’S BREW: Blizzard Brew by New England Coffee and it is STRONG.

By Julie

As an editor, I get to play with books before anyone else, and sometimes I feel like I’m finding treasure. ALL SMOKE RISES by Mark Matthews, a long-time friend published alongside me at Books of the Dead Press, is one of those glinting jewels. Visceral, beautiful, horrible, speaking of the human condition and of what it could be for both good and bad, frightening and hopeful and destitute. In this post that I SWEAR he asked me to put up, I didn’t as HIM to put up, he raves until I’m in tears about how awesome I am as an editor, but let me tell you that Matthews has a style and unique perspective on his subject matter and in his craft that gleams like a shiny apple. Not to mention that I got to spend time with him at a convention once and it was awesome. He’s just the most genuine, thoughtful and hilarious guy, and it shows in this book.



All Smoke Rises releases this week, a follow up to my last novella, Milk-Blood. While it takes place just weeks after Milk-Blood ends, it also serves as a stand-alone read. *Hi, this is Julie. It totally stands alone. It will beg you to read MILK-BLOOD, though.* The book tackles drug addiction, urban decay, mental illness, and a host of other real-life horrors.


Even though it’s a story, it doesn’t mean it’s not true. The material is not fiction. It’s happening, right now. Addicts are roaming the streets, craving heroin the way a vampire craves blood. Children are living in urban squalor, with poverty so deep their best meals of the day come when they go to school. As Kealan Patrick Burke so generously wrote in the introduction, “All Smoke Rises perfectly encapsulates horror as a reflection of real life.”


The inspiration for writing All Smoke Rises came from my own work as a substance abuse therapist. For nearly 20 years, I’ve worked with hundreds of addicts from the Detroit area, many of them indigent. Before this time, I spent years in my own addiction. I woke up each day and my daily efforts were how to get high and get by. I now have 23 years clean and sober, and will never forget the immense power addiction has over the human soul.


All Smoke Rises is a book I’m damn proud of, but certainly did not create it on my own. I’ve got a long list of beta-readers and an incredible editor. Julie Hutchings. The most demure woman in the twitterverse. *It’s true, I am.*

I should point out, before I go on, that it was my idea, not hers, to guest blog and thank her for what a great job she did in editing my manuscript.


Readers would thank her, too, if they could, for the book they would have read would have been a much lesser piece had not Ms. Hutchings poured her own heart into the story.


Nuts and bolts were tightened. Extra parts were thrown away as needed. Paragraphs were reshaped, certain sentences were turned into stand-alone paragraphs, others were ended on a different note to keep the plot flowing. Overused phrases and words were smashed over my head until I saw stars. Rewording these descriptors made me work harder as a writer and created a better product.


If you’ve ever had a word document edited, you’ve come to know those little comment bubbles on the side. Well, Julie’s comments were different. They came alive. They spoke to me, made me laugh, or reached out from the screen and gave me nugies. If a nugie wasn’t enough, they grabbed me by the neck and squeezed until I heard my own esophagus crack. All of this to challenge me to be the best version of myself, and I responded in kind best as I could.


I’m so incredibly excited for this book. The producer of Monkey Knuckle Films is reading it now, and I hope some of the plot-line will be included into the movie adaptation of Milk-Blood. John F.D. Taff said, “All Smoke Rises makes Milk-Blood look like a freshman writing assignment.” Kealan Patrick Burke agreed to do the introduction after giving it a read, and seeing what he wrote was a highlight of my writing career.


But I did not write it alone, so thank you, Julie, for your invaluable contributions. Worth adding that, if you are only a digital friend of Julie, she is exactly as you would think in real life. I spent just a few hours hanging with Hutchings at a convention, and it was like swimming in a pool full of her tweets. She’s genuine good people, with genuine editing skills that I’d recommend to anyone who listens.





Ten year old Lilly is the victim of a terrible house fire and a wretched family. Her father is an addict with mental illness, her mother was murdered and then buried across the street, and her uncle got her addicted to heroin. Lilly’s tragic story has been told in the book ALL SMOKE RISES, and it may be true, for the author has broken into your house, and placed Lilly’s body on your kitchen counter. He demands you read the manuscript, before cutting his own wrists and bleeding out on your floor. Now you have decisions to make, for Lilly’s body may not be dead, and her family is coming for her.


“Make no mistake, when it comes to citations of true horror, you will be hard pressed to find a deeper and more challenging example than you will here. Matthews knows the heartbreak and tragedy of his subject. By the time you are done reading this, you will too.” ~KEALAN PATRICK BURKE, Bram Stoker Award winning author of KIN and Sour Candy



ADVANCE PRAISE “Heartbreakingly sad, overwhelmingly disturbing, creepy, violent and poignant. Highly recommended.” ~JOHN FD TAFF Bram Stoker Finalist “Filled with such dread and depravity that even the most desensitized among us will feel the pain. Matthews’s prose vividly shows the viciousness and hopelessness of drug addiction, and the beautifully horrifying images will stay with you long after the final page is digested.” ~JON BASSOFF, author of Corrosion, winner of the Darkfuse Reader’s Choice Award “True reality horror, with supernatural elements that only serve to make it more believable.” ~MICHAEL BRADFORD, Executive Producer, Monkey Knuckle Films.


Check out ALL SMOKE RISES on Amazon. Just $2.99 for kindle


Making Feelings Go Away: Undeaditing Advice

TODAY’S BREW: The end of the Coconut Crème. So, run as fast as you can.

By Julie

I’ve been having a blast doing Undeaditing. Reading the works of others is an inspiration in itself, and having the opportunity to take those voices and really exploit them the way the writer wants to do, but needs help with is an amazing feeling. I get grossly enthusiastic about it. There’s a lot of swearing and all caps and all the good kind that make everyone happy.

I’m grateful to be asked for editing advice often, and a friend suggested I start giving some here. Just in casies. So here’s a quickie:


There’s always a way to make your work more visual without describing everything. That’s not exactly what I’m talking about here. This is about your characters, and how you can show me how they feel without telling me how they feel, and not have to revise your entire goddamn book.

The two biggest offenders of telling about feelings in my opinion are it felt like and it seemed like.

It didn’t feel like there were a hundred rain clouds pouring on her; “a hundred rain clouds poured misery on me.” Boom.

It didn’t seem like they never wanted him around; “Every turn of their shoulders when I came near, every dark stare when I opened my mouth told me all I needed to know about how wanted I was.”

Eliminating it felt like and it seemed like from your manuscript is a lot easier than you’d think. Simplify it for yourself. Don’t overthink it. If the sentence is, “It felt like my heart would burst with love for him,” a simple “My heart burst with love for him” will suffice.

And as in writing, also in blogging, conciseness is key today. Now, go my little chickens, and take out a thousand it felt likes and it seemed likes out of your book until you have a CHRIST IS OUR LORD-sized pamphlet left.


Switching Gears Between Projects

Today’s Brew: Blueberry, my beloved

by Kristen

Couple of fun announcements first: Please check out my new author website and follow me on Tumblr! I WILL Tumbl for you. Please get the 80s music reference. Please.

It’s well documented that I’m a blonde. It’s more than just a hair color, sometimes, it’s a state of mind. When Kathie Lee and Hoda retire, I would hope someone will have the good sense to hire Julie and I to replace them. Who better to take over day drinking and inappropriate behavior on network TV than The Undead Duo? I dare you to find a better pair. And then please let us all go out drinking together. I’ve already got my role on this new TV show all set up: the bimbo sidekick. Sometimes I can be the funny one, sometimes the serious one, sometimes the smart one, but god damn, I make a great bimbo.

Bimbos get distracted easily. Never have I found this to be more true than when I try to juggle multiple projects. I’m starting to feel like one of those tired old mammas who yells at you for whatever sin you’ve committed but then calls you by the dog’s name.

Of course, you know NIGHT MOVES is out, so I’m doing promo for that. People are asking questions about Melanie, Ryder, and the rest of the characters and I have to think of them in ways I might have not considered before. It’s awesome to see my creations through other people’s eyes.

I just finished up a book that is vampire free. It’s in the hands of beta readers now, and I anxiously await their opinions. Notice I’m not telling you anything about this book? I feel like there’s just too much right now, and I’m even getting confused. I’m a big believer in keeping it simple. You’ll know everything about it all in due time.

Now that the book that shall not be named is done for now, I’m diving into final edits on WE OWN THE NIGHT. I’m psyched about this, because I miss Callie and Tristan. This book has been done since December, and this is the longest I’ve been away from these characters since I created them. Getting back into Callie’s head space is refreshing, a little shocking (if you’ve met Callie, you know how she rolls) and a little like welcoming home a long lost friend. She’s just met Melanie and Ryder at the point I’m working on now, it’s a Night Songs reunion.

Editing is stressful! When I draft, there’s no pressure to make things perfect because there’s always going to be another draft, revision, a chance to improve. But this is the round of work with the spit and the shine. This is the one you’re all going to see. It’s got to be 100%. I also have to consider the best interests of the book when making changes. Julie is my editor, which is a blessing because 1. she knows these characters inside and out 2. if this book sucks, she will pay for it dearly in buying me alcohol to mask the pain and 3. we get to discuss the edits as she applies them. That’s a luxury not many people get. Sometimes, Julie will be like WTF about a scene, and I can talk her through it. It doesn’t mean we leave it like that. If Julie didn’t understand it, neither will you, but we can make the absolute right edit that is true to what I’m thinking and what she understands. It makes me much more confident about making changes to the manuscript.

I had a hard time walking away from WE OWN THE NIGHT when I finished it, because it closed the door on this story. With SEASONS IN THE SUN, it’s technically the fourth book with these characters and this story line. Callie and Tristan didn’t want to say goodbye, either. I wonder how it will be to pass it in and really come to THE END. I didn’t close the door completely on these characters, so they might make another appearance sometime in some form. I haven’t decided yet.

I do want to continue The Night Songs Collection. My original idea was to have it as a universe instead of straight line story, with characters that might connect in different points in their lives. Kind of what Sherrilyn Kenyon does, but my way, because I don’t like to follow rules ever.

So there will be more books. Book 4, which will have new characters but is in The Night Songs world, will be coming to you this fall. This will be my first totally self published project, and holy shit, am I nervous. Julie is editing in now. I’ve got an amazing cover artist working on the art for it. I’ve got the formatter lined up. Everything is pretty much ready to go. Once I’m done with WE OWN THE NIGHT, I move straight into edits on this one.

See why I’m not throwing around titles? It gets confusing, fast. I took the “keep writing” thing to heart. Now I’m finishing up these projects, letting a few of them come down the pipeline so I can breathe and not work on four books at once.

Then….who knows?

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