Deadly Ever After

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

Archive for the tag “writers”

ARTISTS ARE LOUDMOUTHS. OWN IT. By Julie

TODAY’S BREW: Trader Joe’s Gingerbread AND I AIN’T TRADING THIS COFFEE, JOE.

By Julie

So 2016 was a cloven hooved kick in the ass, and the election has all of us praying for death, I get it.

And I commend every artist out there that’s stuck to creating when everything looks so bleak. So uncertain. Lots of authors have spoken out about this recently, and it’s because we know we have voices that are heard, and voices we CAN’T SHUT THE FUCK UP.

What I want to say here is that yes, artists–and I speak to authors in particular because that’s what I know bestest–have a responsibility. We need to speak out, we need to be the loudasses, but not so everyone knows our political opinions, but because the act of speaking out is one that we can support best.

EVERYBODY NEEDS TO SPEAK OUT AND SPEAK UP. Authors are the masters of this because our heads and hearts are so full that it just spills out onto the page and onto our families at Thanksgiving.

An author’s duty is not to splay their opinions out, necessarily. I mean they’re important, and it’s a wonderful thing to be able to identify with and feel united with our favorite authors. But the author’s job when times are tough and the world feels beaten, is to exemplify that having a voice–no matter what it’s saying–is important. Is needed. It’s what creates society, and takes societies down, and changes things. Saying something changes things. That’s what I stand for. That’s what I feel my job is as an author. To move forward, say what I need to say and stand behind it, and encourage the world to be brave that same way. That’s my job.

And what I REALLY want to say is that your work does not have to have political undertones. It does not have to echo what society is today. It does not have to be built on fear or mass opinion. It isn’t what you say that always matters, it’s that you said it.

Sure, I’ve wondered if my work should have more society-reflected themes, undertones that speak of the real world. Maybe they will one day. I’ll let the book make the call. As of now, my work does have all the undertones and themes that any self-respecting English major’s work should have, and they’re important. To me. And they speak of things that II hold close, that make a difference in the individual, like not letting anyone or anything decide your fate for you. (Seems pretty relevant after all, doesn’t it?) THE WIND BETWEEN WORLDS focuses heavily on not limiting yourself to being one thing, not only being what others see you or expect you to be.

We’ve made such progress with the LGBT community, women are making such headway, racism continues to be an eternal fight, and individuality and value is so highly focused upon in our country right now. And we now face oh, a guy who thinks conversion therapy–something actually used on GODDAMN AMERICAN HORROR STORY A FEW SEASONS BACK–is an option. We have Nazis and KKK members openly supporting our president-elect. And that same man treats women like property, degrades and debases them continually, and will be the person to shape a generation.

Everyone has an opinion on these things. Everyone is afraid. Speak out about your political views and your fears, if that’s what helps you. It will help others, too. Others who might be afraid to do it themselves.

But if your way of speaking out is by focusing on things that matter to you internally and not externally, that matters, too. Books that reinforce who we want to be as people, that have morals and show human change and growth all help, too. They speak to the individual just as much, in a different way, and by writing to explore morality, we affect lives on a different level, by declaring who we can be to support the world we want to live in. We inspire change, and having the courage of our convictions.

Whatever you write, write. Make it, or it won’t exist. Say it or it never is said. Confirm your idea, lest it dies. Be part of a world that speaks.

Kelly Charron Shares Your Querying Feels

TODAY’S BREW: The Julie Jam, 8 O’clock Coffee, Hazelnut in a hazelnut colored mug.

By Julie

Author Kelly Charron, in her own words “loves to write about murder, mayhem and magic.” Her amazing list of works is enough to make me ache to hold all the paperbacks ever in my hand. (Look here: http://kellycharron.com/?page_id=12) But she also has been through the querying wringer, and she knows all too well how it feels. This is a reminder, from Kelly’s mouth to my blog to your face, that we all do this together. Art doesn’t have to be solitary. Now I’ll let Kelly tell her story and I’ll shut up.

Querying is exciting and nerve wracking. A part of me is hopeful and basks in the magic that each time I hit send could mean an agent will fall in love with my book and then me. I will sign my glorious contract, she or he will sell my all my books to the Big Five publishers and I will wait, luxuriating in a field of flowers as the cheques come rolling in.

 

This is not what happened. (At least so far- but I’m still hoping.)

 

Always an eager student, I wanted to absorb everything I could before I even started the process. All the do’s and don’ts. All the agent likes and dislikes. I wanted to make sure I didn’t make any mistakes that could thwart my success. I learned to always research the agent, tailor the query to the agent (never using generalizations such as Dear Agent or Dear Sir or Madam), and to actually write a decent query. I had many beta readers and author friends read the various reiterations, eventually giving me the coveted thumbs up. I learned that it was good practice to send out five to ten queries at a time so I could apply any valuable feedback to the manuscript before sending more out and possibly ruining a chance. And so I did this.

 

I was ready! Soon they’d be calling!

 

This is not what happened. (At least so far- have I mentioned I’m still hoping?)

 

I waited and waited and waited some more and soon the rejections came trickling in. That’s okay, I told myself. Everyone gets rejections. I’ll have a great story later of having 30 or 40 rebuffs before I found my agent.

 

Soon it became cleat that five to ten queries every two to three months could take a very long time so I began to query a bit more widely. The trickle of rejections began to pile up. That’s okay. It’s only my first book, I told myself. Many authors don’t get agented on their first book. It’s my learning manuscript. Time to write book number two!

 

And off I went completing the first draft in six weeks. I loved this book. My writing critique group, beta readers, indie and Big Five published friends loved this book––“way more than your first book” they cried in unison. “This is the book! This is the one to get you an agent!” they all told me.

 

I wanted to believe them.

 

It has not been the book. (At least not yet- have I mentioned I always have hope?)

 

I received ten full requests and an additional seven or eight partials and was told that my writing was “really good,” “you clearly know your craft,” “I love this concept, but it’s going to be a hard sell,” and “great idea, but not for us. Please send us your next manuscript.”

 

These are all amazing rejections! They liked my writing. They thought I had a decent story. They saw potential and wanted to see my next book. These are all wonderful things to hear, especially from very busy agents who took time out of their hectic schedule to write me specific feedback and I am grateful.

 

But I discovered something I wasn’t fully prepared for during this process.

 

“Getting closer” is not necessarily easier. It can be more heartbreaking. If you run a race and you come in last, your expectations wouldn’t likely be high. You know where you stand in the competition. You might think, wow that was fun. If you come in third or second all you can ruminate on is how close you came. You have worked hard for this. You can taste it, you can feel it, you’re almost there and then you don’t quite make it.

 

It can be disappointing. I’ve lost hope from time to time. I’ve allowed myself to pout and whine (temporarily of course) until I gain perspective because I believe that it could be the next book, or the one after that. There is no one way to get published. No magic formula or series of TEN EASY STEPS! for getting an agent or book deal.

 

I’ve spent a lot of time asking agented and published writers what the secret to their success is and their answer is always the same: they kept going. Kept writing and querying new books. For some, book number two was the lucky one, others needed five, some found success at number seven or eight.

 

I don’t know what the future has in store, but I am happy we live in a time where traditional and indie publishing co-exist. I have been writing for ten years. I have written four novels. I continue to work on my craft. I have 140 odd rejections, but I know that if I keep going, one way or another, my time will come. YES!!

kelly charron

 

Kelly Charron is the author of 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.

Follow Kelly on Twitter https://twitter.com/KellyMCharron

 

 

Relishing Rejection with Julie

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

By Julie

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

MONDAY GRATITUDE with Julie

TODAY’S BREW: The bottoms of the bags of coffee. If this were a sandwich made of the last pieces of all the meat, it would be called a hoffaloney sandwich. This is a coffaloney.

By Julie

My little world is weird, and it’s very funny in the right light, but also I’m subject to a day now and again where I say WHAT THE HELL THIS ALL SUCKS SO MUCH CAN I HAVE ONE NORMAL FRIGGING DAY PLEASE?

Yesterday was that day. Today is the day I take a page from one of my closest friends, Jolene Haley, and write a Monday Gratitude blog. I feel better already.

First, a short list of some of the things that have happened in the past two weeks:

  • car broken into
  • covered in black sticky mud after saving Sam from low tide. Mud so thick that a passerby said “nice tattoos!” regarding my legs but IT WAS MUD which I then washed in a public bathroom sink, in a skirt, while the town officials wandered around the property doing assessments.
  • insurance turned down the med that Sam absolutely needs and is perfect for him but approved TWO meds that are absolutely wrong.
  • my phone dies if it isn’t plugged in
  • I don’t want to change diapers anymore.
  • Pizza man walked in my back door, into my house. I hadn’t ordered pizza.
  • I’m boring myself already, let’s get to the good stuff.

MONDAY GRATITUDE

Ten things that make me happy.

  1. The kids asking me as soon as we wake up if we can stay home today.
  2. ANYONE CAN MARRY WHOEVER THEY WANT TO AND THERE’S NO SUCH THING AS GAY MARRIAGE ANYMORE, IT’S ALL JUST REGULAR MARRIAGE.
  3. I have two eighties robots that I rescued from eBay.
  4. Finished writing a story, the first short piece I’ve done in a loooooong time and I really like it.
  5. Had an apocalypse dream starring Ryan Reynolds. Awesome.
  6. https://youtu.be/6JCLY0Rlx6Q
  7. My friend Brett Jonas sent me a bunch of awesome goodies from her family’s farm, http://goatmilkstuff.com/ and she just rescued a stuck kitten also.
  8. People that make movies asked about my book and even if none of them ever pick it up, that alone is more joy than I can even stand.
  9. Bennett got all Outstanding on his report card after going through THREE teacher changes in second grade.
  10. We rescued a fish at the beach the other day.

The awesome thing is that I have SO MUCH MORE than ten things to list, far more than the other crappy list. As a matter of fact, I might write one of these every damn day for a while.

As always, I have the most incredible people in my life, people who inspire me as a mom, people who encourage me as a writer, people who support me as a friend, people who love me as a Julie.

Cover Reveal! IN STONE by Louise D. Gornall

TODAY’S BREW: There’s Cookie Dough Coffee in this world and I will consume it ALL.

By Julie

Our delicious friend, Louise Gornall wrote this killer book, IN STONE, and there’s GARGOYLES, so get it. It has this monstrously gorgeous new cover that I want to lick.

Book blurb:

 

Beau Bailey is suffering from a post-break-up meltdown when she happens across a knife in her local park and takes it home. Less than a week later, the new boy in school has her trapped in an alley; he’s sprouted horns and is going to kill Beau unless she hands over the knife. Until Eighteenth-century gargoyle, Jack, shows up to save her. Jack has woken from a century-long slumber to tell Beau that she’s unwittingly been drafted into a power struggle between two immortal races: Demons and Gargoyles. The knife is the only one in existence capable of killing immortals and they’ll tear the world apart to get it back. To draw the warring immortals away from her home, Beau goes with Jack in search of the mind-bending realm known as the Underworld, a place where they’ll hopefully be able to destroy the knife and prevent all hell from breaking loose. That is, provided they can outrun the demons chasing them.

 

 

About The Author:

 

 

Louise is a graduate of Garstang Community Academy. She’s currently studying for a BA (Hons) in English language and literature with special emphasis on creative writing. YA aficionado. Brit bird. Film nerd. Identical twin. Junk food enthusiast. Rumored pink Power Ranger. Zombie apocalypse 2012 survivor, and avid collector of book boyfriends.

Facebook|Blog|Twitter |Goodreads

 

 

ConFusion, Here Comes Julie

TODAY’S BREW: Eggnog, filled with boozeahol.

By Julie

I should go to conventions. I don’t know how the rest of you folks know about all these magnificent gatherings of writerly folks from all over, what secret society you formed that you somehow think will be better without me, but I want to be the fucking treasurer of it, and I don’t want to do any math.

I LOVE CONVENTION-LIKE SETTINGS. When I became a manager for Victoria’s Secret, it was pretty much so I could go to the annual convention about all the Christmas stuff.I love it all, the milling of people, and the mingling, and the noise and the stuff. And if I don’t have to wear a suit, even better.

So, when I was asked along for the ride to ConFusion (http://confusionsf.org/) in January, I pretty instantly started with the “what will I wear” squealing and jumping up and down to talk about RUNNING HOME and be among grownups that will find me delightful. Or even these grownups.

NO. Kristen won’t be coming with me, I’m traveling by my lonesome, but meeting friends there. IF YOU’RE GOING TO BE THERE, PLEASE DO SAY SO. I WOULD LOVE TO LET YOU BUY ME SIX DRINKS.

Here’s how I get people I don’t know to buy me drinks:
*sidles up to bar*
“Oooooh, what are you drinking there? It looks good.” (Imply that it is actually the drinker that looks good if the odds are not in your favor.)
“Oh, I’m having a Willowisp Party Knocker. Can I get you one?”
*smiles charmingly* “That would be so nice.”

Use this foolproof formula as you wish. Be warned: If you don’t smile and touch the drinker’s arm, it may not work.

Anyhoo, ConFusion promises to be amazing. I greatly look forward to meeting other authors, seeing all their stuff, making a general menace of myself, and hopefully making some connections with which to ensure a lovely future for myself. This can happen in a number of ways, to small and large scale.

Though I am an animal, and the life of any party-like situation, I plan to work this crowd like a headhunter. I want to meet people, all kinds of people. I want your business cards and stuff. I want to make connections. This is showbiz, folks, and I want my name up in lights.

Mother By Julie Hutchings

TODAY’S BREW: Chocolate Cappuccino Chunk. Not Walmart brand.

By Julie

 

Her eyes spoke of merciless things, wild and unrepenting, but only if you were looking.

“The wreckage is….” Mayor Whitley couldn’t finish his sentence. It didn’t seem like he’d finished one yet since he arrived at the tornado site. A war could not have created such unrecognizable rubble, such smoldering destruction. The occasional scream was still heard when a victim was moved the wrong way, or when some child was spotted that an aching mother never thought she’d see again. The mayor flinched with every human noise.

The woman stood next to Mayor Whitley, the two of them alone amongst throngs of emergency workers and police. The tornado had brought volunteers from counties within a one hundred mile radius. Ironically, the same span the tornado had ravished.

This woman was no emergency worker or even a do-gooder busybody, of which the county had plenty. The mayor didn’t ask who she was, why she was there, or why her face was so serenely peaceful at this tragic time. It never occurred to him.

“This path of destruction,” she said, her voice sea-glass smooth, “is one that your people will recover from.” She never looked at him, only out across the flat expanse of land, leveled to newness.

This made Mayor Whitley search out her eyes, disbelief dropping his jaw, head shaking slowly. “Recover? Ma’am, we’ve already found twenty-two dead. How will they recover? Their children, their wives?”

Her eyes were the shade of freshly turned earth and blossoming with as much life. “There are no answers for some questions,” was all she said.

Mayor Whitley took his eyes off of the wreckage long enough to look at this woman. She was both a part of the land and completely apart from it. Hair the color of beach sand cascaded in waves over her shoulders, which he noted with shock, were covered in a fox stole, under the sweltering sun— the head was still attached. Its beady eyes were humbly downcast. She was dressed in a gown of brilliant blue, transluscent , and marked like a peacock. No, when Whitley looked closer, it was overlaid with what had to be real peacock feathers. He had no doubt the snakeskin flat shoes she wore were real, as well. And the huge, raw jewel rings she had on every finger. She noticed the way he stared, and smiled warmly, like clouds being parted.

Her teeth were sharp, like a wild animal’s.

“How can you ask for such beauty that this world offers each day without a willingness to see it end? What gives you the right, my child?”

“Um. Um.”

She observed him sputtering with  detachment.

“There won’t be any more dead,” she said, and it was like an ancient tomb breathed the words. They came from a time and place where good and evil were the same. Where humans knew their place, cringing from desert storms and towering tsunamis. Where nature was king.

Mayor Whitley felt like he had been punched in the gut by  something beautiful and terrifying, like he was being smothered by a million roses. “Who…who…?”

The woman leaned over to him, her whisper louder than the trucks and falling debris. Her face shimmered in the heat, becoming a thousand different images at a sickening speed; the serene Madonna, fearsome Cleopatra, a painted whore, a goddess with elk’s horns and tree leaves surrounding her head and a smile full of unassuming malice. Mayor Whitley fell backward, scrambling away like a scuttling crab, spitting and drooling, dumbfounded.

“Do you really want to know?” she said, her voice a storm in itself.

Mayor Whitley shook his head furiously.

She stood upright, her chin in the air, a vision of gorgeous cruelty and insurmountable power that hushed the air. A halo of pitch black moving clouds whizzed in the air behind her, and Mayor Whitley was terrified another tornado was coming out of thin air. But the closer he looked over her shoulder at the moving mass, he realized it was thousands of black birds, in synchronized motion, taking over the sky. One of them broke from the horde and came to land on the woman’s shoulder, twittering softly into her hair, nuzzling her ear.

“It’s called a murmuration,” she said, nuzzling the bird back, gesturing to the black wasp-like buzz of wings behind her, ominous and stunningly lovely. “It’s how the starlings communicate where to feed, and it’s a defense against predators.” All of the maternal softness she showed the starling evaporated as she focused on the mayor again. “But the starling population is declining, and murmurations are fewer. Because no amount of the birds together could preserve them forever. They are uniquely beautiful, but not eternal. Nothing is.”

Mayor Whitley looked slowly to the bodies behind him being moved into ambulances for no reason. They would not be any more alive with medical teams grasping for life for them.

Cold as a snowstorm, she said, “Nature must endure change to survive. Your sacrifices are not unique.” The starling flew off, back to the swirling black mass of its family. The woman gritted her teeth and looked out over the sadness that had engulfed the county. “But a mother’s sacrifices are. A mother makes the hardest choices.”

“A mother….”

The murmuration was gone, quick as it came, the birds flying in a hundred different directions. The woman watched it go, tears in her eyes. Her voice was thick with emotion. “Creation always begins with destruction. And balance begins with creation.”

She began to walk into what was left of the woods, and the mayor would have sworn on a Bible that the trees bent to follow her.

A starling lay dead at the mayor’s feet.

 

 

Inscription 4: The Dedication by Julie

Today’s Brew:  I’m sure Julie is enjoying her cheese flavored coffee.

Inscription 4: The Dedication

It was the first time Edgar had been able to stand long enough to look out the bedroom window. His mother had taken care of the swollen gashes on his legs, sewing book bindings over the open wounds filled with precious book pages, bound to him with his own blood. Ever closer to those masters, so that he may become one himself.

He ran a dead finger over the windowsill, having long since forgotten that he could no longer feel anything with it. The everpresent flies landed on his hair. He waited. Edgar didn’t remember what time school let out; it had been so long since Mother had removed him. ‘A prodigy needs isolation, not the company of half wits,’ she’d said.

He did know that at 3:20 each afternoon he could hear Liv’s voice, laughing and saying goodbye to the other kids on the bus. Liv’s sparkling cheeriness in his bloody cobweb world was the only thing to awaken him lately. He would force himself to the window to see her today, even though he had not eaten for days and was so tired he could barely move. Hearing her had been the only reason he’d not succumbed to death when inspiration left him. If he could not write, he was a flaw in this world.

But she was perfection. To see her face would spark his passion and ignite his genius to finish this great American novel. He had nothing else.  The pages stuffed in his legs could not carry him to excellence anymore. The book spines that held those words inside him did nothing to keep their brilliance in his heart now.

He stood, shaking, waiting to hear her through the grimy window that was the only sunshine he could stand. Only three more minutes to first hear the rumble of the bus, the screech of the door opening, the kids jumping down the stairs.

He tapped the windowsill with the ballpoint pen protruding from his fingertip. Breathing heavily with nerves, exhaustion and his own stench, he patted his hair, the matted and oily mess that it was. As if she could see him. As if she would ever see him.

“Well, look at you.”

Edgar jumped, making his legs falter and his wounds screech.

“I didn’t hear you come in.”

His mother looked out the window with him, her hand on his shoulder. “You got up. And the first thing you did was look outside? Not write?”

He hung his head, his mop of hair falling over his face. “I’m ashamed to say I feel too weak to write. My thoughts are not clear. I have nothing left to live for.”

“Edgar, poverty and self-denial fueled some of the greatest writers in history. You have more heart than even they do.”

The sharp sound of the bus coming to a halt jolted his head back up. Fighting back dizziness, he watched the high school kids get off, yelling to their friends in voices louder than Edgar’s had ever been. Then, there she was.

Liv bounced down the steps. Bright yellow hair shone in the sunlight, her silver headband glinting. It would have been painful to Edgar’s eyes if he had been closer. Violet and magenta flowers lined the sidewalk, bees buzzing around them with unhurried urgency, both purposeful and serene. Liv did not swat them away, but walked right through them.

Edgar jumped as his mother smashed and killed one of the flies on the window.

He forgot his mother next to him as he pictured sitting next to Liv on the bus, eating lunch with her, holding her books for her.  In his visions, his legs were normal, his ribs didn’t stick out, his hands were just hands. He wasn’t this thing.

“They are less than you. None of them could endure what you have. Their only genius is that they can survive each day in their utterly average world. Yours is something divine.”

His mother’s voice was cold and far away. As far away as Liv was.

“Why can I not be part of both worlds?”

A chill trembled down his body as his mother turned to face him. She put her hand on his side, her fingers nearly sinking in between the ribs. “Edgar. Roses cannot flourish when surrounded by weeds.”

Sunlight streamed in the window, highlighting half of the boy’s face, grimy and ashen. Gaunt. Edgar’s eyes glowed with fervor and he looked at his mother with a pain-filled fury. “Roses die, and accomplish nothing before they do. They are meant to be seen and loved for that brief time they live, and that is all that’s expected of them. Nobody urges the rose to be more than beautiful.”

She bent down to eye level with the hunched over boy, gray eyes boring into his ocean blue ones, the only color in the room. “You were right the first time. Roses do nothing but die.” Her heels pounded the dark wood floor as she stormed towards the door.

“Mother,” Edgar called to her.

She turned, a bitter smile darkening her face. “Something you’d like to say to me, Edgar?”

Edgar watched Liv close her eyes and tilt her head back to feel the sun on her face. He brushed away a cobweb on the windowpane and smiled.

“Yes. I think I would like a sandwich before I work.”

Eric Ruben, Esq. Shows Us Why Publishing Lives On & Eats BBQ With Us

TODAY’S BREW: Double Chocolate Something Or Other Who Cares Just Bring Me More

By Julie

Wednesday night, Kristen and I crashed the Mystery Writers of America meeting. Out of place doesn’t begin to describe us there, but we made friends fast and these folks have wine and chocolate. We successfully Twitter stalked one of our most favorite people there, literary agent Eric Ruben, Esq., a man who has more charisma packed into several high profile occupations and stair master mastery than you could probably pack into one of those things.

Eric was talking about the state of the publishing industry, and I was excited to hear what I knew would be a unique take on it. I was not disappointed. Eric always speaks of publishing as being part of the entertainment industry, which at first seems a little….wrong. You read for entertainment, I certainly write for entertainment, but don’t we do these things to escape the noise of television, loud, often bad, music, movie titles that explode when read out loud, and just people in general? True, but writers are just like any other celebrity that entertains us. We want a connection with them. We’ll read anything our favorite novelist writes, won’t we? Just like watching every crappy movie that your favorite actor puts out when they can afford to do so. It’s the reason we watched Angel after the last season of Buffy, and why Joss Whedon is a household name.

We want to spend time with these characters and the minds that created them.  

Simon R. Green is my favorite author. I read everything he writes, even if a series isn’t particularly my favorite. I search for him on Twitter, facebook, want to see more from the man behind the world he created. No longer is an author someone who can hide behind being an introverted shut-in that occasionally graces a book signing or interview. Not when Stephenie Meyer is making cameos in Twilight movies. An author needs to have a public face, make connections, and make nice with the public.

Like all the other forms of show biz, publishing is the last domino to fall to technology. It isn’t disappearing, it’s evolving, like radio, TV, movies, music.  A recording artist needs to have a song played something like 100,000 times on Spotify to make the same money as having it played once on the radio. You can DVR any TV show you like and watch it commercial free with the same technology that allows you to never have to go to the movies again and squeeze your ass into a rock hard chair for two hours. And publishing is the same. The ninety nine cent book is part of the package of self-publishing, and advances with traditional publishing are often non-existent with the promise of higher royalties on the flip side. These are stepping stones in a form of entertainment that has stifled itself with narrow views of the industry.

As disheartening as it is that book stores are disappearing by the hour, all while writers seem to be popping up out of the woodwork, literary agents are still offering representation and making deals with publishers. Eric Ruben, Esq. has other options, and yet still pursues this one avidly. These are the two overriding reasons I came away with:

“The current issues in publishing are not permanent. The thing that scares people is uncertainty.”

Nobody knows what’s happening next for publishing, including the Big Six. A writer writes not to be published, but because the need to write. As long as the writer still exists as an artist, there will be call for publishing. Art history changes every day, but art doesn’t ever go away. It changes, reflects the society that produced it. Publishing and writing will only become obsolete if they don’t do the same. Leading me to….

“No matter what the changes to publishing, the most important thing is to write a great book.”

Technology will change, but a great book won’t. Write great characters that readers want to spend time with, that can sustain a series. Identify your voice and make your work something that nobody else can write.  Write the book that needs to be written by you.

You have Eric Ruben, Esquire’s take on things, with my frenzied runoff at the mouth now. After this, we went out for BBQ and beer.

The End.

Follow Eric Ruben, Esq. @RubenAgency on Twitter.

Obligatory Thankfulness Post: AKA Pat Yourself on the Back

TODAY’S BREW: Mimosas! It’s Thanksgiving, baby!

 

I love Thanksgiving.  Huge fan of turkey, as big a fan of stuffing.  I love watching the Macy’s parade on tv over several mimosas with the kids.  It always happened at my house growing up, minus the mimosas.  For someone who doesn’t love football, and that is how you know Kristen isn’t writing this post, I like the sound of it in the background.  It means the people I love are with me.  Granted, I would like to know that over the sounds of say, a decent movie, or Duck Dynasty, but I will take what I can get.

I will not bore with you with my thankfulness for my family and shelter and food, blah blah blah.  (But I am thankful for those things, and make a point of saying it every day.)

I am thankful TO BE A GOOD WRITER.

There, I said it!  Writers have a really bad habit of self-doubting.  I get it, your imagination and uniqueness is out in the open for all to see and reject.  Case in point, if you put it out there to begin with for people to see, you are already a good writer!  You already love your own work enough to think someone else will.  Chances are, you’re right.  Remember in school when they would tell you to ask the dumb question because someone else will have the same question and is too afraid to ask it?  It’s like that, but with writing.

I am thankful that I know the difference between my best work and my worst.  I am thankful that I have good grammar.  I am thankful for ideas that are completely mine, whether they be based in popular culture or not.  I am thankful that I can envision a character and create a world for them.  I am thankful that I can stick out a story until the end, and never give up on it.  I am thankful to have an amazing writing partner and a husband that encourage and support me and tell me the truth.  Which I often ignore, granted.  I am thankful that even though I have completed my first novel, I am not afraid to make revisions on it to make it stronger, not because anyone said it was weak, but because I think it makes it better. Just me.  I am incredibly thankful to have the time to write.  It’s that simple.

Most of all, I am thankful that I need to write.  This is what makes me a good writer, the need I have for it.  I am willing to bet, it is what makes you a good writer, too.  I need to express myself on paper, yes good old-fashioned, tree-killing paper, or the whole world suffers.  I am so thankful that I have been given a gift like this, that I recognize and act on.

Having written all my life, like many of us, once again, I never really thought it was anything all that special.  It came to me so easily.  When I told the first person on the outside that I was writing a novel, my assistant manager at one unnamed lingerie retail store, she was in shock.  She said she didn’t have the imagination to even be able to read something like Running Home, let alone write it.  My way of thanking her for helping me realize that I had a talent was by making her a character.  She asked to be a bitch, and boy do I deliver.  Enjoy, Jenn, I will post an excerpt with you in it.

My point is, be thankful that you have an ability to even want to put your words on paper!  Don’t wait for anyone else to tell you that you are a good writer.  YOU ARE A GOOD WRITER BECAUSE YOU WRITE.  So there.

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