Deadly Ever After

Archive for the tag “witches”

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.

 

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Julie’s Version of a Strong Female Character

TODAY’S BREW: Chocolate Mint until my heart grows legs and runs away

By Julie

joss whedon quotes

This quote from the almighty Whedon makes me swell with pride. That strong women are on the radar, that we’re moving forward. Also, like Joss, IT INFURIATES ME AND MAKES MY INSIDES BURN LIKE A FOREST FIRE.

I’m overjoyed–OVERJOYED–to be writing fresh words again (ahem, the mark of a strong woman), on the sequel to a book that I finished (strong). The main characters are five witches. I’m going to account for here, what makes them strong, and there probably won’t be anything about magic.

  • they’ve all faced oppression, abuse, questionable (gently worded) parenting methods, and still face every day
  • they make lots of mistakes, and keep moving forward
  • they learn to support each other despite coming from a place where they were taught to hate each other
  • their sexuality and identifications. Enough said.
  • they’ve been called failures and fight to prove to themselves that they’re not–even when they fail
  • they break rules that don’t work and make new ones, that sometimes work but often don’t and they keep making more
  • the way they fight their Big Bad has yes, a lot to do with magic, but a lot more to do with overcoming their fears and thinking outside the rules set for them
  • they get back up
  • they all have vices, none of them are solely “good,” and none of them are “the bad girl with a heart of gold,” or the villain. They’re all more than one thing.
  • they’re seventeen–and hold a world together out of necessity. They’re afraid and they still do it. They do it because they’re afraid. They look for answers to find a way out of it. They screw up a lot, sometimes irreversibly. They move on. All traits of what strong adults do, and what strong adult women do. It starts somewhere.

None of them know karate. None of them are trying to prove themselves to a boy. Some of them have body issues, some of them have drug problems, some of them are smart-mouthed but it’s not the only thing that defines them. They’re more than one thing. I didn’t write them with the intent of being “strong female characters,” I wrote people. I wrote people I’d want to know, people with thick stories, opinions, journeys within themselves to take. I didn’t write them “as teens,” I wrote them as people.

IT’S TRUE, TEENS ARE PEOPLE AND THAT’S NOT THE ONLY THING THEY ARE.

The thing about each of these young women that I think is cool is that if you were to ask them what makes them strong, their answers would be widely varied, if they thought they were strong at all.

What we think of them is not necessarily what they think of themselves. Not everyone will agree on what makes a person strong–or a girl strong–or a woman strong. One thing that is true without question is that it will be questioned whether or not they’re strong female characters.

To that, I say, I don’t have to prove a thing to anyone.

 

 

 

The Stories Inside the Stories: Research with Julie

TODAY’S BREW: Anything I can get my hands on

By Julie

BIG NEWS at least for me. I finished editing THE WIND BETWEEN WORLDS, the young adult novel I’ve been working on for a long, long time. You guys, I’m so ridiculously proud of and in love with this story, I hope you all are too when it finally sees the light of day. Next step, it goes out to a select few readers, I query it to a few places, and I bounce in my seat until I can’t breathe with excitement.

There’s a theme of morning glories in the book. I had a lot of fun doing research on them, their symbolism, how they grow, stories about them. Here is one story that I fell in love with, that felt a lot like my characters, Celeste, the Witch of Stars, and Lux, the Demon Prince of Lust. I had no real opportunity to use this folklore in the novel, but wanted very much to share it.

The Morning Glory in Chinese Art

The star-shaped morning glory is symbolic of a single day each year in which the Chinese lovers, Chien Niu and Chih Neu, are allowed to meet. According to Chinese lore, Chien Niu was a boy start who was entrusted to take care of water buffalo in the heavenly kingdom. A girl star named Chih Neu was put in charge of seamstress duties. They fell in love, and the romance caused them to neglect their duties. In anger, God forced the young lovers to be separated on both sides of the Silver River and allowed then to meet only once during the whole year.

morning glory black

morningGlories1

Between the morning glory growing in the driest dirt, harshest light, against all odds and the star-crossed lover theme that doesn’t quite work for Celeste, who refuses not to grow, and the silver river and silver is ALL OVER THE PLACE in this book, and the star shaped blooms and the colors of the flowers which symbolize love and reaching for the unreachable, and what Celeste has to do with her coven of Witches whose mothers are doing all they can to prevent them from growing AAAAAHHHHHHH INSPIRATION OVERLOAD.

I luck out a lot and things that I’ve already worked into my novels turn out to have these amazing stories behind them that weave right into my story. It happened a lot with RUNNING AWAY, with the stories of Izanagi and Izanami, the mythological creators of Japan. Izanagi, god of death fit right into my needs in the sequel, as did the “shadowy land of the dead,” Yomi, where the god’s wife was trapped, for which Izanagi was much at fault. The end of their terrible story, where Izanami in her fury promises to take a thousand lives every day and Izanagi promises to create fifteen hundred more, gave me all too much material to create a fresh new vampire story in RUNNING AWAY.

Izanagi

Anyway, it just goes to show you how much I overthink my writing and how every goddamn word has probably too much meaning in my books. Enjoy.

Kristen’s Supernatural Stamp Of Approval

Today’s brew:  Seasonal Nog.  It’s soy “egg” nog and quite delicious. It’s amazing with Kahlua, but it’s Monday for the love of God and I have to be up at 4:30 AM. You need to know when to say when.

Since Julie told you about all the supernatural things I hate yesterday, I thought it might be wise to to follow up with the supernatural creatures that send my heart pitter pattering, or at the very least, don’t make me roll my eyes in disgust and say “not again!”

1.  Vampires.  Big surprise here.  I will never get my fill.  I prefer my vamps to be dark and a little scary. For me, some of the lure of vampires is that they are those dangerous creatures you just can not resist.  There are so many different legends to pull from, but at the core they all hold certain similarities.  There’s also many unique ways to interpret these legends while staying true to tradition.

2.  Witches. Let’s face it, witches kick ass.  It helps if you have some supernatural talent, but anyone can learn to be a witch.  Get a spell book and the proper supplies, and believe.  It’s like a religion.  I would love to see a witch who really just sucks at her witchness, and watch the mayhem and foolishness ensue.

3. Gods.  Greek Gods, Roman Gods, Chinese Gods.  All fascinating.  I recently read Kylie Chan’s White Tiger and found the Chinese mythology to be far more intriguing that the romantic plot.  Just because of that, I would be interested in reading the further in the trilogy.  I’ve also read some of Anne Rice’s Christ the Lord which is rich a thick and fascinating.

4. Historical Figures.  File under the same category as Gods.  Education was wasted on me when I was young.  My mind wasn’t ready.  Set any of these figures in any historical period and I’m interested.  I admire anyone who tackles the historical research needed to get it right.

5.  Astrology.  No one loved Vicki Pettersson’s Signs of the Zodiac series as much as I did, and that’s your loss.  I loved the thought of the astrological signs holding powers and having significant events shape the signs of the Zodiac.  I was so sad when these books ended after only six signs of the Zodiac.  I was down for twelve of these books. Are you listening Vicki?

6.  Rock Stars.  Sigh.  Okay, so I know they’re mostly mere mortals, but they have the ability to hold us in a supernatural spell.

7.  Real People.  If you can get me to fall in love with a character who’s just plain old human, then you, dear author, posses super powers all your own.

 

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