Deadly Ever After

Archive for the tag “ya”

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: 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




Interview with Summer Wier, author of Sci Fi YA, LINK!

TODAY’S BREW: More than you can imagine.

By Julie

Last week was the release of LINK by Summer Wier, a book near and dear to my heart. I had the divine pleasure of editing this book, and to see it come to life from start to finish is wonderful. It’s almost as near and dear as Summer herself, who is one of the greatest champions of my work and the one who insisted THE HARPY become a REUTS Publications book next year. I knuckled my way into Summer’s busy schedule to ask her a bunch of questions about LINK, which is one of the most unique YA sci fi books ever.


  • I love the unique way stars are used in LINK. Different than any sci fi or fantasy I have ever read. Where the heck did that come from? Are you a science geek or did you have the idea and need to find a way to make it come alive?
Why thank you! That’s such an amazing compliment. I think I’m definitely more geeky now than I ever would have admitted growing up, but I’ve always loved astronomy and astrology (two very different takes on similar things). When I set out to write a book, my original idea had nothing to do with stars or space, but focused on the connection between two characters who were separated by something I hadn’t figured out yet. It took me forever to even start writing because I didn’t know what I wanted the book to be or what would make it different from so many young adult stories that were already on the shelves. One day, I stumbled across this NASA clip “Black Hole Eats Star, Beams Signal to Earth” ( and I was so fascinated by it, I swear I watched it a hundred times. As I played the video over and over, it was like I’d found the piece I was missing for my story. LINK’s world, partly based on real science, partly imagination, mapped itself out in my mind, and at that moment I knew exactly where my story needed to go.
  • Kira’s relationship with her mother and her views on her mom’s life fascinated me. Tell me a little about how their relationship evolves in this book, if you could without giving too much away. 🙂
This is one of those areas where I used perspectives from my youth and parenting experiences, and blended them together. As a parent, I thought about how many things happen in life that children are completely oblivious to, or if they are aware of “things” they don’t always know the truth behind the story. In LINK, we see Kira’s perspective of what she believes is “truth” based on her experiences with her mother, and also what she’s created in her mind so that she can cope with what she thinks has happened between her mother and father. As the story evolves, Kira begins to piece together clues that shed more light on the events contributing to her parents’ past. And when she learns the “truth,” she gets a peek into her mother’s perspective and the reasoning for everything she did to protect Kira. With secrets revealed, Kira gains a new look on life and grows closer to her mother!
  • You created a really cool dreamscape sort of alternate world, which you managed to make unnerving and a little scary without any monsters. How did you do it?
I think black holes carry an uncertainty that contributed to the natural mystery of the world I created. I mean, what the heck is inside there?! No one really knows. There is so much left to discover in our galaxy, universe, and beyond—anything is possible! As my theories evolved from the NASA video, I let my imagination run wild with the kinds of landscapes one might see in a world pieced together in the way they’re fabricated in LINK, how this world would sustain itself in such an atmosphere, and who would inhabit it. Mix in the disorientation from traveling by starlight and who wouldn’t be a little creeped out with what awaits on the inside?
  • What is the message you want your readers to take from LINK?
Science changes everyday; life is ever-evolving. When I started writing LINK, so many of my ideas went against everything science believed about black holes (hence the fiction part). Take this simple definition of black holes from Wikipedia, “A black hole is a region of space-time exhibiting such strong gravitational effects that nothing—including particles and electromagnetic radiation such as light—can escape from inside it.” The NASA clip I shared earlier was a first look at a celestial event that totally changed that definition. And now, leaders in the science community have totally changed their positions on what’s possible when it comes to black holes, even so far as to share theories remarkably similar to those I created for LINK! (See article here: So my message to readers is: Anything is possible. Nothing is written in stone. Question. Explore. Create. The sky’s the limit.

Thanks so much for having me today! ❤
YOU GUYS PLEASE BUY LINK AND LOVE EVERY SECOND OF IT.Dreamy, fluid, and beautiful, Link pairs the mystery of science fiction with the minor-key melody of a dark fantasy, creating a tale that is as human as it is out of this world.

Available now from Amazon, and other retailers.


TODAY’S BREW: Caramel Apple Spice!

By Julie


Graveyards, spirits, witchcraft, black cats, candy, and haunted houses.  

Strange things happen on Halloween. All Hallows Eve is the single night where the veil between the living and the dead is opened. And now spirits, monsters, and candy will collide!  

Seventeen authors and illustrators set out on a horrific journey to set the record straight. What really happens on Halloween night? Trick or Treating is not all fun and games. There are more tricks than treats scattered through these pages. Sure, All Hallows eve can be a scream. But sometimes, it’s straight-up murder. 

Halloween Night: Trick-or-Treat is a middle grade and young adult horror anthology that falls on Halloween night.  

Read if you dare! You’re in for a scare! 


Stories & Illustrations Include: 

Big Brother Zombie by Evan Purcell

Give Us Something Good to Eat by Rie Sheridan Rose

Halloween Ritual by Amy Giuffrida

Haunter by Ryan Bartlett

Hello Annie by Tiffany Morris

It’s All a Bunch of Hocus Pocus by Violette Ulalume

Knock, Knock by Jennifer Moore

Ms. Holstein’s Special Halloween Treat by Chad P. Brown

Night of Monsters by Matthew Wilson

Something Good to Eat by Patrick Hueller

The House of Sam Hain by Betty Rocksteady

Sweet Nothing by Julie Hutchings

The Ghost by David N. Smith and Violet Addison

The Peeping Trick-or-Treaters by Kevin Lewis

Tricks and Treats, and Chicken Feet by Shawn Anderson

What Lurks in the Darkness by Kathleen Palm

Halloween Night: Trick or Treat on Goodreads: Available October 27th!

More from the Publisher

Hocus Pocus & Co. believes in in all things scary. We are a small publishing house that wishes Halloween was all year long and loves what goes bump in the night.

Hocus Pocus & Co. is headed by Jolene Haley, who noticed that horror was an unrepresented category in MG, YA, and NA and is working hard to change that!

Hocus Pocus & Co. on the web:

Hocus Pocus & Co. on Twitter:

Cover Design by Cara Vescio

Join the book buzz using hashtag  #HocusPocusReads

COVER REVEAL AND GIVEAWAY! Young Adult Horror, HARROWED by Jolene Haley and Brian LeTendre

TODAY’S BREW: Pumpkin spice! Get used to it.

By Julie

I’m so excited for this cover reveal. For this book. For my dear friends Jolene Haley and Brian LeTendre, folks with hearts of gold that write like the dickens. Not Charles Dickens, just some other dickens. And WE NEED YOUNG ADULT HORROR. Anyway, LOOK:


Young Adult Horror coming 9/22/15 by Horror Twins Press! Harrowed on Goodreads:

Woodsview Teaser _1



Journalism Rule #1: Always report the story. Never become the story.

Avery Blair has accepted the fact that nothing exciting ever happens in her small town of Woodsview, Massachusetts. As the editor of the high school blog, she prays for something—anything—to come along that would make for a great headline.

When Beatrice Thompson’s body is found in the girls’ bathroom, Avery has her biggest story ever. The rumors circulating the school say that Beatrice took her own life, but Avery doesn’t believe it for a second. Her instincts prove true when the next day brings another body bag.

The tiny community of Woodsview has become the hunting ground for a killer known as the Harvester. The killer targets Avery and her classmates, stalking their every move and terrorizing them with morbid messages.

With the help of her boyfriend Jason, her best friend Quinn, and an aging detective who can’t keep her off the case, Avery dives head-first into her own investigation. She discovers that the secret of the Woodsview Harvester is buried in the town’s history and its annual Harvest Festival celebration. With every clue she uncovers, Avery grows closer to unmasking the killer—and becoming the next victim.

Avery Blair has finally found a story to die for…if she can stay alive long enough to write it.

Harrowed on Goodreads:

Brian LeTendre Author Pic

Brian LeTendre is the writer of the Parted Veil horror series, which includes Courting the King in Yellow, Lovecraft’s Curse, and Lovecraft’s Pupil. Brian currently writes a webcomic called Mo Stache, which can be read for free online and will be collected in print in 2016.  Brian lives and works in Massachusetts.

Brian on Twitter:

Brian’s Blog:

Brian on Amazon:

Brian’s Podcasts:

Jolene Haley Author Pic

Jolene Haley is the author of the Woodsview Murders series, Harrowed (out 9/22/15) and Haunted, coming fall 2016. She’s also the curator of the best-selling horror anthology The Dark Carnival through Pen & Muse Press.  She runs a YA horror blog The Midnight Society, the author resource site Pen & Muse, and Hocus Pocus & Co., a small horror press.

Jolene on Twitter:

Jolene’s Blog:

Jolene on Goodreads:

Jolene on Facebook:

Woodsview Teaser _5

Happy Book Birthday to WE WON’T FEEL A THING!

Today’s Brew: Never skimp on creamer. I feel like I lost two perfectly good days of my life to half and half.

by Kristen

Julie and I frequently fangirl over JC Lillis. Why? Because she’s smart and effortlessly funny. Smart and effortlessly funny are two things that translate into her writing. Today, her new book, WE WON’T FEEL A THING, is available for you to fangirl (or fanboy) over. Tell me this blurb doesn’t hook you:

Seventeen-year-old best friends Rachel and Riley are in forbidden love.

Their situation’s. . .complicated. And their timing couldn’t be worse—in just one month, he leaves for California and she starts college in New York. The absolute last thing they need is a reckless secret-love confession mucking up their perfect plans.

There’s only one logical option: scientific intervention.

Desperate for a quick fix, they sign up for WAVES, an experimental self-help program led by mysterious scientist David A. Kerning. He swears his Forbidden Love Module can turn passion back to safe platonic friendship in “six easy steps.”

But when you arm yourself with an untested program, side effects are unpredictable.

And sometimes when you fight love—love fights back.

We Won't Feel a Thing

We Won’t Feel a Thing

All of this can be yours! Just click this link. Go ahead. I’ll wait.

Today, on ye ol’ blogola, Julie and I have the pleasure of interviewing JC! Guys, she’s into retro food. And fan fiction.  Read on:

Did you base WAVES on any real life program?

I didn’t, but I’ll tell you where I got the idea. Years ago, this friend of mine—he was a brilliant scientist, very much wedded to the logic-before-emotion philosophy—was giving advice to a mutual friend of ours who was having a hard time. And he said, in a very calm and common-sense kind of way, “You know, you wouldn’t get yourself in situations like these if you’d just learn how to engineer your emotions.” Which of course is a bizarre thing to say to someone in pain, right? But I kept turning it over and over, picturing him starting up his own “emotional engineering” lab and setting us up as test subjects. So that was the beginning of the David Kerning character. And at the same time, I was also kicking around this story about two (unrelated) teenagers who grew up in the same house and are wrestling with all these inappropriate feelings for each other just as their paths in life start to diverge. So David Kerning and Rachel & Riley careened into the same story orbit and sort of crashed into each other and made a giant lovely mess for me to clean up.

Do you see more of yourself in Rachel or Riley? Is there anything that either of them do that you would never, ever be able to bring yourself to do?

I see a lot of myself in both of them, though neither one is completely me. Rachel’s perfectionism and Riley’s anxiety are both dimensions of me for sure, and they totally share my sense of humor. (They’re much, much quicker with a quip than I am, though. The benefit of being a fictional character.)

Rachel in particular definitely does stuff I would never dream of doing, especially not when I was her age. She’s a planner, but she’s a BADASS planner. Like, I never would’ve had the balls to take the SATs early on the sly and apply to my dream school hundreds of miles away without my family knowing. I’ve become kind of a stealth badass in my old(er) age, but as a teenager I was definitely more like Riley—quiet and deliberate, someone very unlikely to stare down a challenge. I get in staring contests with challenges at least once every two months now, so there’s hope for him yet.

Riley is a worrier. What does Rachel worry about? What do you worry about?

Rachel is a girl with a plan; she has a very clear vision of who and what she wants to be. So she’s petrified of anything that’ll knock her off course and make her lose control. That’s why she’s so desperate to resolve her feelings for Riley—love feels very overwhelming and unwieldy, and she sees it as a direct threat to her goals. Like she says in one of the early chapters—”there’s only one kind of girl I can tolerate being, and it is not the Girl Who Gives it All Up for Love.”

As for me—the real question is, what DON’T I worry about? I can look at a paper clip and see eight ways it might cause an accidental death. You wouldn’t want to live inside my head. Here there be monsters. (And also lots of words and plots and characters and things, which is the only reason I haven’t applied for a brain transplant.)

You share my obsession with borderline repulsive mid century recipes, and I love that you actually make these masterpieces. How did this happen to us?
Well, I’m not sure what happened to YOU, but one night I dreamed I was chased through a forest of jello molds and mauled by a pack of pickled meat loaves, and when I came to, I immediately craved a library of vintage cookbooks. They’re just addictive, aren’t they? There’s this sad, heartwarming innocence to the way we ate then. The fact that women regularly constructed things like “Creamed Corn and Wiener Roasts” and served them with a straight face on the good china…I mean, that whole postwar chapter of cultural history is just endlessly fascinating to me.

And by the way, aspic is mightily offended that you called it “borderline repulsive.” It wears its mantle of revulsion PROUDLY.

You are a self described fan girl. If someone was to write a Rachel and Riley fan fic, what would you love to see happen?

Oh, yeah, I do love fanfic. I can’t tell you how thrilled I’d be if someone loved Rachel and Riley enough to write more stories about them. I could give you some ideas of stuff I’d love to see, but it wouldn’t really be about what I want. Once I write a book and put it out there, I figure the characters belong to the readers. So if anyone wants to write steampunk AU or pterodactyl porn about Rachel and Riley, HAVE AT IT. Just send me a link, okay?

Riley never wears pants with less than 5 pockets. What the hell are in these pockets?
Very small effigies of his enemies. No—he’s a mosaic artist, so he’s always picking up things he can use in his projects. Pretty stones, pieces of glass, bottle caps. He sees beauty in a lot of ordinary things, so he needs a lot of pockets to hold it all.

If you had a scientist willing to remove one thing from you so you wouldn’t feel a thing, what would it be?

Overinvestment in fictional characters. I just read some super-gross spoilers about the new Game of Thrones season, like stuff they nonsensically changed from the books, and I’m not a book purist when it comes to adaptations but these were like a horse-kick to the chest. I care way too much about the characters I love and I dearly wish there was a Distancing Button I could press to zap it away when necessary.
I love the image of the blown glass wishing hearts. What significance do they hold in the book?

OMG, you went on the Pinterest board. HOW MUCH DO I LOVE YOU. The wishing heart is given to Rachel and Riley by the very lovely, somewhat irritating Tilly Merriam, who is David’s colleague and travel partner. Riley hangs it in their window and it becomes kind of a talisman as the story unfolds.

What are Rachel and Riley’s biggest pet peeves?
Rachel plans to become the most feared and respected copy editor in New York, so grammatical errors chap her hide. Misused apostrophes are her #1 peeve. It’s really hard for her to look at a specials chalkboard in a restaurant and not make any adjustments on the sly.
Riley’s peeves: when he can’t get a mosaic to match the picture in his head, and when Rachel watches hospital dramas in his presence even though she knows he’ll end up diagnosing himself with a rare strain of pig flu.
If Rachel and Riley could run away together somewhere that none of these problems would be problems, where would they go?

You know at the end of Splash, when Tom Hanks jumps in the ocean with Daryl Hannah and becomes a quasi-merman through the magical power of handholding and they swim to the bottom of the sea in like thirty seconds flat and they see the glowing lights of her vast mermaid kingdom in the distance? That place.

I totally just spoiled Splash for everyone who wasn’t around in 1984. Wow, I’m a bastard.

I stalk you because of your casual, slightly deranged, intelligent humor, your fearless originality, and also because of your cooking skillz. Please tell me what the funniest thing is you can think of.

Okay, first of all, THANK YOU. Second of all: Jump-roping toilets. Ever since we did Harry Potter Mad Libs at the kid’s birthday party, I haven’t stopped thinking about jump-roping toilets. Mad Libs with First Graders needs to be a Comedy Central show.
Runners-up: The phrase “hand-cranked wiener warmers,” the video for “Frontier Psychiatrist” by the Avalanches, and that part in Waiting for Guffman where Christopher Guest goes “I JUST HATE YOU AND I HATE YOUR ASS FACE!” (Seriously. I want it as my ringtone:

What is the coolest thing you’ve ever done?

Besides gestating a small human who’s now at least five times cooler than I am…I gotta go with “becoming an indie author.” That and the book trailer for We Won’t Feel a Thing.

What’s the weird thing you have to do every day?

Check my heater five times before I go to bed to make sure I unplugged it. I also go into my daughter’s room to make sure the pillows aren’t too close to her face while she’s sleeping. I’ve done this since she was a toddler. SHE IS SEVEN YEARS OLD. There’s basically no chance of her escaping young adulthood with no therapy bills.

Four people you can invite to a dinner party and not one of them has to be a family member. Go. Also, what will the table linens look like?

I’m immediately disqualifying all friends from real life and Twitterlife, because there’s no way I could choose. And I’m not inviting any world leaders or Nobel Prize winners, because I want to serve spaghetti and watch Hot Fuzz and not have to polish the oyster forks.

So: I’d invite Jemaine from Flight of the Conchords, because he doesn’t get enough love, and his awkwardness would offset mine.

I’d invite Lena Headey and Janelle Monae, because they’re my primary woman crushes and they’d be so radiantly awesome that no one would notice I burned the garlic bread.

I’d also invite Wes Anderson and beg him to make a movie version of We Won’t Feel a Thing. I’d show him all the tiny pencils I made out of toothpicks for the book trailer. We would love each other so hard.

The table linens would be the finest Egyptian cotton, but would also be printed with misbehaving robots, because I spoil my guests but am not Gwyneth Paltrow.

And now, to do to you what you did to me.
1. Describe your favorite pair of shoes.

Gotta go with my light brown leather boots with antique gold buttons. They’re very steampunky. I’m not in love with steampunk, but I most definitely have unplatonic feelings toward these boots.

2. Tell me a dirty joke.

An elderly couple is getting ready for bed at night. The wife wants to spice things up, so she dashes out of the bathroom in nothing but a red satin cape and shouts “SUPER PUSSY!” The husband looks her over and says “…I’ll have the soup.”

3. What movie makes you angry?

That goddamned Kevin Spacey movie — what’s it called, The Life of David Gale? I think that’s it. I refuse to look it up because I’ll just get mad at it all over again. It’s just smug and manipulative and deeply, deeply silly, and not the good kind of silly.

4. What book makes you cry?

I’m not a huge book-crier, but the end of Don’t Think Twice by Ruth Pennebaker absolutely gutted me. It’s an older YA book and I almost hate describing it because it’s about a pregnant teen so it sounds like a Problem Novel, but it doesn’t read like one. It’s gutwrenching specifically because the girl is so sharp and funny and guarded with her emotions, and then at the end when she gives her baby up and all these real feelings start pouring out, you’re blindsided right along with her. I recommend it if you need an ugly-cry.

5. If you had to write a short story inspired by a song, which one would you pick?
“St. Louise Is Listening” by Soul Coughing, just to see if I could make something cohesive out of the lyrics. It would be a fun puzzle. (I almost said “The Night You Can’t Remember” by the Magnetic Fields, but that’s pretty much already a short story.)

6. What do you think about at night when you’re trying to fall asleep?

Usually whatever scene I’m planning to write next. Or I write scenes for my favorite fictional characters, especially if they’ve been needlessly abused by their creators. I patch them up and listen to their woes and give them cookies and good love scenes.

7. When you meet someone new, what’s the first thing you notice about him/her?
The sincerity of his/her smile. I sound like Linus, don’t I? I always wanted to sit in a sincere pumpkin patch with him. (I think there’s a lot of Linus in Riley, come to think of it.)

8. What do you think Oscar the Grouch does on trash day?

Hides out in Bert & Ernie’s apartment and instigates lovers’ quarrels.

9. As a fellow Ali G fan, I must know: Does you believe in mahogany?


I do, because it believes in itself. Self-belief is infectious.

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