The How and Why of Being Important

TODAY’S BREW: National Coffee Day doesn’t end for me.

By Julie 

I’m excited–unreasonably excited–about my next book release. I admit this. It’s coming on Halloween.

But people in Puerto Rico have no water. And Trump is inhuman, and people are suffering, people we can help, yet all he does is insult them and leave them to die.

My book isn’t important the way that is important. It’s important that I write, words create a better world, a more intelligent world, a more caring world, but right now? Getting glittery bookmarks isn’t important. Puerto Rico is important. Don’t get me wrong, what’s happening in all of our lives is important, and disaster elsewhere does not make our own issues disappear, but it’s a different kind of important. My stuff goes to the backburner in this political, this human condition. I think we all feel that way to a degree. WHY THE HELL ARE YOU BITCHING ABOUT WHAT KIND OF JUICE YOU WANT WHEN IN PUERTO RICO THEY HAVE NO FUCKING JUICE NOW DRINK THIS GODDAMN CAPRI SUN AND BE THANKFUL. Right? The natural feeling that our joys and our pains are important gets in a bar brawl with the knowledge of how horrible other people have it right now, at this very minute. Leaves us with a lack of focus, doesn’t it? This feeling that nothing matters sometimes, but then that everything matters because we can only control what we can control and this all ends. That thankfulness for what’s good in life has to drive us in times of crisis. And gratitude for the time and the privileges we have somehow helps those who are suffering so.

It is a lack of focus. It is. It’s a mess, a tornado of anger and guilt and gratitude that we all feel, that brings us all together. At least those of us with HUMAN HEARTS and normal hair.

I’m here to say that your stuff IS IMPORTANT. Yes, Puerto Rico is experiencing something that we are just fucking lucky to not know, and it’s happening every minute, real time, while we complain that we have to get up to do laundry or make an appointment. Your stuff is still important, too. Life as you know it is important. Your laundry, your appointments, your feelings, your exhaustion and your happiness and the things you look forward to.

I look forward to a lot this time of year. Halloween soothes me, all of the Halloween everything. The decorations, the music, the air, the colors, the apple picking, the pumpkins, the movies, Halloween Wars on the Food Network, the Spooktacular at the zoo we go to every year…. This is the stuff I live for. And to have a book coming out, one that is so close to my heart, THE WIND BETWEEN WORLDS, makes it all even better. I can’t stop thinking about it, wanting to do more for it. That’s okay. I should be excited. I won’t feel guilty about telling my happy news in a timeline full of crippling news retweets and shares. I have to do what I can do in my world to make my world better.

I spent last week every day running my kids’ school’s Scholastic Book Fair. I do this a few times a year, and I throw myself into it like a lunatic. I do everything humanly possible to make sure every child gets the book they want, no matter what their financial situation is. There’s nothing more important than that to me, to give these kids OPPORTUNITY. To show them that reading what they like is important. To give them choices. And when they see my paperbacks in a stack next to me, they just light up, it’s amazing to watch. These kids have hopes and dreams and you know what? Me showing how important reading and writing is to these kids is what will make future generations more understanding than the Trumpies. This is how I can matter. So I run with it. I run a writing club/class for a month or so every year at the school, and I talk to any class that wants me about writing, and I help the kids who need it with putting their words to paper and feeling okay about it not being perfect, because words can change everything. Maybe not this second, but sometimes this second. I was able to give one little girl a pricey craft kit from the book fair, a crocheting thing or something, I don’t know, I just write books, but the next day I saw her 3 times walking around with the pillow she was making, carrying the book and the materials under her arm.

I gave her that kit, one she wouldn’t have had otherwise, and maybe it sparked something in her. Maybe this is something she’s passionate about. And I helped. It MATTERS.

So remember that the things you do make a difference. The smile you give at the grocery store, the way you brush off the anger when someone cuts you off, the kind word you give to someone who needs it, this stuff creates a world one piece at a time. Hopefully a world where people help each other without expecting anything back, and where everyone shares the same concerns.

I also want to say that taking care of you matters too. If you need help, ask for it. If you feel hopeless, reach out. Know that your happiness matters to someone, that your life matters to someone. People feel beaten these days. Be the person who lifts others up when they need it, tell them how crucial they are to you. And these same people will be there for you when you feel beaten. Because that emotional storm of anger, guilt, helplessness? It comes back again and again. The confusion and disbelief has us all on a roller coaster. But you are no less important among the debris this storm is slinging than anyone else. Your life matters, your life is important, and we are all important together. Be passionate about your life, and it will inspire others to be the same. Together we can change so much if we believe in ourselves and each other first, and show that we SEE each other.

I know this has gone ranty, but for me, it makes sense. Be good to each other under the foot of a dirtbag overlord that doesn’t know how to care about anyone. It is what we do in the small moments that will create a strong environment, a brighter future. Be important.

Why RUNNING HOME’S Nicholas is a Helluva Lot Like Robert Downey Jr.

TODAY’S BREW: I’d like to mix the new St. Ives Coconut and Coffee face scrub with milk and drink/chew it, but today it’s just Folgers.

By Julie

First, I promised you a Julie Factoid every new post, so here you go:

JULIE FACTOID:

IRON MAN IS AND HAS ALWAYS BEEN MY FAVORITE MARVEL CHARACTER AND WHEN ROBERT DOWNEY JR. WAS CAST FOR THE MOVIES IT WAS LIKE MY WHOLE LIFE FELL INTO PLACE. Also, huge comic geek. More on that another day, because I can’t get a Batman story out of my head and will probably write a book about it.

OKAY THAT’S ENOUGH.

What I’m here for today is to ruin whatever you may have imagined my first book, RUNNING HOME‘s hero, Nicholas French, to be based on. YOU GUESSED IT, ROBERT DOWNEY JR./IRON MAN because they’re the same person.

Nicholas is a celebrity among the Shinigami vampires. (If you don’t know who the Shinigami are, you probably haven’t read the book, so, HI NICE TO MEET YOU BUY MY BOOK.) He’s a classic ‘men want to be him and women want to be with him’ golden boy that does everything just a little better than everyone else, and never lets you forget it. One of those guys that everybody likes almost as much as he likes himself. Sincere underneath the sarcasm that will bite your face off, what you see is what you get with Nicholas, once you dig deep enough, if you get that close. You might think you’re that close, but you’re not.

nicholas

He may look really good in a tux, but he’s a lot more of a thermal shirt, t-shirt, shirtless guy, living deep in the woods in a cabin he and a few of his fastest friends built, filled with a bunch more stuff that he built, all of which help hide him away when he can’t take being Nicholas French, public spectacle anymore.

His connection to Ellie is evident right away. Only he knows why, and he’s not telling. It makes things agonizing for Ellie, a damn fine introvert, having to trust Nicholas when he says the complexity of their feelings will make sense one day. Nothing ever makes sense for Ellie, but Nicholas doesn’t underestimate her for a second. Oh look, here she is now:

Ellie

Demeanor: “And then this bitch.”

 

So when Nicholas shows up, filling all the gaps she lives with, she wants answers and doesn’t believe them half the time. This is pretty smart because Nicholas loves a vague and self-deprecatingly pretentious riddle.

Nicholas 1

As usual, Nicholas knows what’s best, and the rest of us are just along for the ride. Well, we’re driving, but he’s telling us where to go.

 

 

 

So, if you had another vision of him, sorry. But this charming, painfully witty, well-read, martial artist extraordinaire is Nicholas French in every aspect, right down to his voice and eyes that can almost make his snarky comments for him. He’s perfect. And like any perfect man, he has depths that stay hidden even from him at times, making him not just another pretty face. And arms. And hands and abs and thighs.

Wait, what was that? Oh yeah, blog post!

I love that Nicholas believes so much in Ellie, that he refuses to treat her as the nobody she’s tried to become so she won’t have to face the feeling that she’s actually somebody important. He won’t let her fail herself that way any longer. And I love that he doesn’t hit her over the head with constant flattery. He knows she’s better than that. Compliments don’t go far with her. Their relationship is odd, ugly at times, but to make it anything less would be an insult to two such thoughtful characters.

Nicholas 2

Are you not entertained?

 

I don’t want to tell you about Nicholas’s life here, or why he’s a vampire, or what the Shinigami truly are. I don’t want to tell you what tortures my Nicholas….Ellie’s Nicholas, whatever, but I promise you won’t soon forget him.

Nicholas 3

(If you want to get to know Nicholas a little more, go get yourself a FREEBIE STORY called STANDING STILL. https://www.instafreebie.com/free/IBPMb.

Seriously, free. The site is called Instafreebie, for Chrissakes. JULIE STANDING STILL

REVIEW YOU! Julie’s Opinions on Criticism

TODAY’S BREW: All of it.

By Julie

HEY GUYS HOW’S EVERYONE GOOD THAT’S SO GOOD.

It is legitimately autumn. I was able to wear sweatpants as I drank my coffee on the porch this morning. DREAMS DO COME TRUE.

I’m writing today about reviews, but I’ll try to keep it general life advice that can apply to any criticism. Though I’ll probably not accomplish that. RUNNING HOME has been out for 10 days this go ’round, and is basically new to the world at large. Today, I got my first mean review.

YEAH, THAT’S RIGHT. I SAID “MEAN.” We’re all children in the face of criticism.

Things like this book makes TWILIGHT look like a masterpiece, no action, it was all about a girl who can’t live without a man, blah blah blah.

To which I reply, “SO?”

The tone of the criticism is vicious, which is not my way, but does RUNNING HOME have a TWILIGHT-esqueness to it? Damn right it does. I wrote this book in the wake of reading TWILIGHT in its hey day. (hay day? hai dai?) RUNNING HOME is not a brand new book to the world. It took a long damn time to write, it saw traditional publishing, it went to conferences, it met agents…. It made me quit my job and devote all my creative energy to it. And let me tell you a thing–it was worth it.

I can talk all day about TWILIGHT. This is a book that caught the world’s imagination, every age group, transcended demographics, it’s known to all. It changed the face of Young Adult novels. And I loved that it WAS mundane. It wasn’t the pomp of Anne Rice, the stylized stories of Dracula, or even the glory that was Buffy the Vampire Slayer. It was utterly ordinary. An ordinary girl, a dull-ass girl, living her ordinary dull life and the extraordinary is inserted into it. Extraordinary lives in the ordinary of it. I fucking loved that. Still do. For whatever is to be said about Meyer’s writing, there is no debating the fact that she has reached with her work more people than any of us probably ever will, and it has meant much to many of them.

I could only hope to affect people the way that book did.

When I read that series, I thought, I want this for adults. I want the ordinary infiltrated by the extraordinary, a fresh love that isn’t sex-centric, has all the butterflies and timidity of new love. Where the action is in the emotion and humanity, fated love and personal destiny, punctuated by enormous change. And I can write that. So I did. I’m damn proud of it.

AND ANOTHER THING. If all reviews were good, if I knew they all would be, what risk would there be? What would I be giving my readers that they can’t get anywhere else, even if they hate it? I want something strong enough that it causes FEELINGS. Good or bad. And I want to hear them. If we thought we’d get nothing but praise for our work, it wouldn’t be BRAVE to do it. I’m not cut out to be a coward. And I don’t need everyone to like what I do, or understand it. It’s mine, but I’m sharing it with you.

The popular opinion about bad reviews is to take the high road and ignore them–in the sense of not retaliating or being a baby about it. I won’t be the writer that says I DON’T CARE WHAT YOU SAY JERKS and hustles off to eat a pint of ice cream. I’ll eat a pint of ice cream, don’t get me wrong. But I DO care.

I write for readers. I care what they think and I will listen. If there’s a pattern to criticism, I’ll act on it probably. But if I feel strongly about the path I’ve taken, I won’t. Because it’s mine, and I’m sharing it with you. It’s my heart on the page, and if it speaks to me it speaks to someone else, and that is who I write for. The person that needed this particular book. The one looking for it.

I’m passionate about my work, and therefore it does matter what readers think. But I won’t let it ruin me, I will only let it improve me. If I want it to.

MAKE YOUR PASSION MATTER. Don’t let it be swayed by opinion. Don’t be blind, but don’t take it all in. Make your passion matter to the right people.

Okay, that’s today’s unsolicited life advice. NOW, I promised you a fun fact about me with every blog post as you get to know me, so HERE.

JULIE FACTOID: I worked at a collection agency for three whole years.

Yeah, absorb that one. Calling debtors on the phone. I was THAT person.

 

My Vampire Book is on the Loose, People!

TODAY’S BREW: Folger’s! FOLGER’S HAS GONE GOURMET AND IT IS SO GOOD. It ain’t just your grandmother’s coffee now.

By Julie

It’s strange having a new blog, getting to know all new readers when I feel like HERE I AM, REMEMBER ME? Don’t worry, you’ll all get to know me soon enough. I’m pretty much LIKE THIS all the time. I’ll hug you and frighten you in one fell swoop. To get you gradually and weirdly acquainted with me, I’ll give you a Julie Factoid every blog post.

JULIE FACTOID

I met Donald Trump backstage at the Victoria’s Secret fashion show many, many years ago. Aren’t I the lucky one.

All right, enough of that. SO GUESS WHAT. My indie career has officially begun! I’m really excited. REALLY. EXCITED. *jumps out a window, rolls down the street laughing*

The book that changed my life is ready for you to own right this second. Or borrow, or page-read, or whatever it is you do. I hope you’ll fall in love with RUNNING HOME and stick around to learn more and more about these characters and how the book came to life. This is the book that made me quit my ten year retail career and all my family’s benefits to throw myself into. But that isn’t what this post is about. This post is about BUY MY BOOK.

PFFFT, I SUPPOSE YOU WANT TO KNOW WHAT IT’S ABOUT….

Death hovers around Ellie Morgan like the friend she never wanted. The snow-swept town of Ossipee, New Hampshire, is the perfect place for Ellie to detach herself from a world where she doesn’t belong. She certainly doesn’t belong at a black tie party at a mansion in the woods, but that’s where she is, and where he is: Nicholas French. The man who mystifies her with a feeling of home she’s been missing, and impossible knowledge of her troubled soul.

Nicholas is one of the Shinigami, a heroic order of vampires that “save” their fated victims from other tragic ends. And while he followed an abomination of his kind to New Hampshire, he finds that fate drove him there for another reason. Nicholas knows why Ellie is human repellent…and why physical agony grips them when apart.

But as Ellie’s quest for belonging finally nears an end, she’s forced to choose between two unfeasible sacrifices: love and the destiny she’s longed for, or the sole companion who tethers her to the only world she knows.

Frances Button of Opening Line Literary ‘Zine says, “I can’t remember a time I’ve enjoyed a vampire novel so much. The blend of self-aware characters and unique, fresh mythology made for an engaging, addictive read. I believe I have found my new favorite urban vampire story.”

Damn right.

Yeaaaaaah, anyway, lots of people say stuff like that about this book *shrugs* but you know, it was no big deal.

It’s such a big deal.

Aaaaanyway, maybe you want to look at some of my storyboard pictures on Ye Olde Pintereste perhaps. Just for funsies. Here you go, darling. https://www.pinterest.com/hutchingsjulie/running-home/

Okay guys, call me, I’ll be around or just, you know, buy my book or tell a friend or something like that but definitely I’ll be around all day. THANK YOU FOR CARING ABOUT ME AND MY BOOK!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SMELL AWESOME, BE AWESOME: Support Trans Rights

 

TODAY’S BREW: It feels like fall, so it should be pumpkin spice but it’s not. BUT I WILL SMELL LIKE COFFEE.

By Julie

I’ve got strong opinions but I’m not one to THROW THEM IN EVERYONE’S FACE. Not all the time. Some of the time, yes. A lot of the time, but not all the time.

The abhorrent Trump ban on the transgender community entering the military is based on nothing but bigotry, and that’s not my opinion, that’s a fact. I’m so happy to see the hashtag #TransRightsAreHumanRights on Twitter, glad to see celebrities speaking out on it, pleased to see that this terrible step backwards is a volatile conversation everywhere. I cannot believe that this is even a thing. That we can have moved forward so much on LGBT issues, and then our “leader” punches a hole in it with one unfounded belief that transgender people are “distracting.”

I’m not here just to voice my opinion (that’s not an opinion at all), but to show you something you can do to help benefit the transgender community and smell awesome.

Yeah, I said that.

Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab is super cool anyway, guaranteed to make you smell completely unique and alluring, if I do say so myself. (I wear “Red Queen” myself.) Following the ban, BPAL released two limited edition scents that weren’t slated to come out until next year to benefit the National Center for Transgender Equality and the American Civil Liberties Union.

Only 26 bucks!

You can also get Irish Coffee Buttercream: https://blackphoenixalchemylab.com/shop/limited-edition/irish-coffee-buttercream/

AGAIN, AS IF THEY AREN’T WORTH BUYING ANYWAY, BUY THEM BECAUSE IT BENEFITS THE TRANSGENDER COMMUNITY IN THIS TIME OF NEED.

I feel that authors have somewhat of an obligation to speak up and offer what they can to the world. We are people that people listen to.

YOU ARE ALSO SOMEONE THAT PEOPLE LISTEN TO. Speak your part, be clear on your beliefs, and most importantly, be kind. JUST BE KIND. JUST BE A GOOD PERSON, SOMEONE YOU’RE PROUD TO BE. And support others who are proud of who they are. And are proud of this country. Who want to fight for this country, whose leader has turned his back on them.

Okay, smell awesome, be awesome. Love you guys.

 

 

Hi! It’s Julie’s Pretty Scary Author Site!

TODAY’S BREW: Nantucket Blend. If I’m not going there, I can sure as hell taste it.

Hello readers and soon-to-be readers!

welcome to jurassic park gifTHIS *sweeps arms wide* is my new website. You may remember me from Deadly Ever After, the blog I shared with my heterosexual life partner and fellow author, Kristen Strassel, where we went on ridiculous adventures, wrote books, and lived lives. We’re still the best of friends, but over the years our writing paths have evolved, and we’ve thrown each other out of the nest. While Kristen has moved on to more romantic pastures (as exhibited at http://www.kristenstrassel.com/), I’ve gotten weirder. So while the Undead Duo still rides, we ride different dinosaurs around the park. (Because Jurassic Park. You get it.)

And now I’ve chosen to take my books back from the small presses they were with, stop working with agents, stop waiting on publishers and go indie. And guys, I’m so happy.

I AIN’T A WRITER BECAUSE I PLAY BY ANYONE’S RULES, RIGHT?

*carefully reads every rule of Candyland prior to playing* *plays with Bertie Bott’s Every Flavor Beans anyway*

This is where you’ll find out all about my book announcements, about vampires and harpies and witches and demons and mooooooore. I have a lot up my sleeve. (*is wearing a tanktop*) You’ll also get a lot of ME because I absolutely cannot keep my life quiet. I always want quiet, and rarely give it.

THERE IS SO MUCH MORE TO COME THAT I CANNOT STATE IT ALL RIGHT NOW, but you guys. I’m so ready to share it with you. As of right now, sign up for my newsletter, and get a freebie companion story to my first vampire novel, RUNNING HOME!

I hope I write the books that keep you up reading too late, that you cling to in uncomfortable waiting rooms, that you read over and over. I want you to fall in deep, and never get out again.

Not creepy at all. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Love,

Julie