Happy Holidays! And some other random stuff

Happy Holidays, everyone! I’m getting really excited for Christmas this year. It will be the first year I’ll be spending the holidays in South Carolina. While I will certainly miss my family back home, I’m glad to avoid the Canadian cold (Sorry, guys).

This will likely be my last post before Christmas. I have a lot of things to do and house guests to tend to. I’m sorry to say that I won’t be meeting my December 23rd first draft goal. I think that goal was a little too ambitious. You can’t rush these things, you know.

I think I’ll take a step back from writing for the next couple of weeks, focus on Christmas and do some reading. I have two books on the go right now. One is a novel by Lane Heymont called The Freedman and the Pharaoh’s son. I’m about a third of the way through it and it’s really good! I can’t wait to review it and Lane has agreed to do an interview with me in the new year. He’s also a literary assistant, so it should be a good one! 😉

I’m also currently reading a YA manuscript by Summer Wier. I’m really enjoying it. I can’t wait to see it in print!

I have some author interviews scheduled for the new year and one potentially BIG one that I’ve been working on locking down. I can’t jinx it, but I think it’ll happen.

This has really been a whirlwind kind of year for me. I’m still a little shocked by how well things have gone for me this year, and I am SO grateful for the people who have helped me, supported me and cheered me on all the way through. My book will be released January 28th, 2014. I’m hoping to do a VLOG either shortly before or on release day so I can personally thank those who’ve been by my side.

Aside from reading, I also have a ton of interviews to complete for my blog tour. It’s strange being the interviewee instead of the interviewer. I’m learning a lot about what kind of questions work and don’t work.

Anyway, HAPPY HOLIDAYS, everyone! I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Sharing my book after publication is called lending. Sharing my book prior to publication is called stealing

I wish I was writing a “Happy Holiday” post, but there is something that’s been bothering me, and I need to get it off my chest.

It has come to my attention, a few times, that my book has been shared with others, by those I trusted to read it. I know the reason for this isn’t malicious, it comes from excitement. But let me assure you, that sharing my book (at any point prior to publication), and without my consent, is essentially stealing. After publication, sharing a book is fine. Loaning it to a friend, signing it out at a library, or lending the ebook on Kindle are all acceptable. It’s a finished copy available to the public, so I have no problem with loaning books. But doing any of these things with my rough drafts, or ARCs (advance reader copy), is NOT okay with me.

I have shared The Darkness of Light with others throughout the writing process. Some have read first drafts, while others have current advance reader copies. Not one of the drafts I’ve shared is the absolute final copy. The first drafts differ greatly from the ARCs I have now, and the ARCs given out still have some changes to be made. I don’t want these copies shared around like a youtube video. This book has taken me a long time to write. I have spent countless hours working on it. This book is not free, so why is it okay for someone to share it around like it’s some short-story I wrote in an hour?

By sharing my novel without my consent, you are also taking money right out of my pocket. Authors make money by SELLING BOOKS! If those I’ve trusted with my work share it with someone, who then might share it with someone else…and so on…they are taking potential sales right out from under me.

And it’s not just me that’s affected by this. What about all the hard work put in by all the other people who’ve worked on this book: the editors, formatters, proofreaders, and cover designer? Their work does not deserve to be passed around like a cat meme.

For any artist, writer, etc…there is nothing worse than knowing your work is being seen–without your consent– before it’s complete. It really is a terrible feeling.

Whether you have an ebook or print version of my novel, I feel compelled to remind everyone that it was given to you, by me, for you ALONE! Please DO NOT share it with anyone.

I hate to say it, but this has given me a bit of anxiety about sharing my next novel before it’s completely ready. I think I’ll have to keep it to myself longer, and be very selective about who reads it.

ebook GIVEAWAY! The Darkness of Light – Advance Reader Copy

There’s a giveaway happening right now over on my facebook page Tammy Farrell, Author

Like the page, share the post, type “enter” in the comments section and BOOM! You’re entered to win a free ebook of The Darkness of Light.

The drawing will happen on Friday December 13th. It will be a lucky day for somebody! 😀

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Ed Sheeran writes the soundtrack to my life!

Have you heard Ed Sheeran’s song from the new Hobbit film? I’m completely obsessed with it! I have it on repeat as I write and I wish I could find more songs that inspire me like this one does. As I said yesterday, I still haven’t compiled the right list of songs for my next book, but this one is certainly the first on the list.

I wish I could hire Ed to write songs just for me. But sadly, that’s never going to happen. In case you don’t know just how much I love Ed, I’ll tell you. I discovered him in August 2011 because I downloaded the UK top 40 and heard The A Team for the first time.  It was insta-love. I became OBSESSED and would listen to nothing else. I even bought a Little Martin Guitar like the one Ed plays.

In February 2012 I rounded up my husband and best friend and dragged them all the way to LA to see Ed play at Hotel Cafe. It was a small venue, maybe 200 people, and it was such an incredible experience. I got to meet Ed, he signed my guitar and after the show, a group of us ended up in a bar where I somehow ended up giving an impromptu concert of Ed Sheeran covers with the newly signed guitar. I am very shy when it comes to playing music, so this was a real milestone for me. I met some amazing friends in LA that I still speak with and it was probably one of the most amazing experiences of my life.

I wish there was a way to go back and relive it just one more time.

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The music that inspired me to write

Hallelujah! I’ve finally figured out how to insert videos in my posts. I’m fairly certain most writers use music to inspire them as they write. I am no different. And from my experience I’ve learned that I don’t pick the music that inspires me, the music picks me.

I’ve always loved the band Within Temptation. I wouldn’t say I’m a fan of symphonic rock, but Within Temptation has always been one of my favorites. As I wrote, I discovered that many of this band’s songs captured the way I was feeling as I wrote.

And of course, Ed Sheeran was on repeat for most of my writing days.

I still haven’t found the right soundtrack for my current writing project, but here are the songs that carried me through the first.

I love this song. It’s so powerful and I always imagined Mara’s strength as I listened to it.

This is one of my favorites and the video is absolutely gorgeous. Once again, I found this video really captured Mara’s struggle through the book.

This is another beautiful video. I usually listened to this while writing as Malcolm.

I am a HUGE Ed Sheeran fan, and so it’s no surprise that this song always brought me to Mara and Corbin

This one always reminded me of Corbin

Questions writers get asked that drive them to drink

I’m sure any writer reading this might already know what I’m talking about. It’s those well intentioned questions non-writers ask us that turn our insides into puddles of flaming hot lava. I know those who ask me these kinds of questions mean well. And before I continue, let me say just how much I appreciate the support. I really do. But for the love of GOD! Please stop asking me these questions!

Question #1 – How is the book coming?

I’m never quite sure how to answer this one. I usually say, “Good,” and my stomach does a flip-flop. When writing a novel, it’s almost impossible to judge progress in the first draft phase. More than half of it could end up in the trash by the 2nd draft. So if I say, “Great!” Then I am setting myself up for disappointment.

The God’s honest truth is, I have no damn clue how the book is going. I’m not building a shed. It won’t be finished by the end of the week, or the end of next week, or the week after that. I have no idea when it will be done or how many drafts it will take. I JUST DON’T KNOW! I know I write every day! I know my keyboard is soaked in tears! I know I feel like half the stuff I’ve written is crap and maybe I’ve accidentally inserted a line from Dr. Phil while I was watching it AND WRITING –‘Just ’cause you put kittens in the oven, don’t make ’em biscuits.’

Asking me how the book is coming feels akin to someone standing outside the bathroom door and going “So how’s it coming?”

It’s shit! It’s coming like shit at the moment.

So the simple answer to this questions is: I DON’T KNOW HOW THE BOOK IS COMING. BUT THANK YOU FOR ASKING. When I have something exciting to report, trust me, the whole entire fucking world will know about it.

Question #2 – Can I read it yet?

The short answer to this is: NO! Asking me to read it before it’s ready is like asking to watch a surgery in progress. Writers get really excited when they feel like their draft is readable. We WANT people to read our stuff. We love that people care enough to want to read our stuff. But there are many, many stages to writing. This is a long, uphill battle. It takes a long, long time. So you can rest assured that when we get to the top of that hill, holding a readable manuscript in our hands, we are NOT going to refuse to let others read it. We WANT you to read it….WHEN IT’S READY! Trust me, we’ll let you know!

**I also warn new writers to be careful who you send your manuscript to. I know for a fact that mine was sent out to others without my authorization! Never underestimate the excitement of those you trust.

Questions #3- You HAVE to send me a copy!

Ummm. No. No I don’t. I have a lot less compassion for those who ask this question. Saying I HAVE to give you a copy is like me walking over to Joe the Roofer’s house and saying, “You HAVE to do my roof…for free.” No…no he doesn’t. If you wouldn’t tell your roofer friend he has to work for free, why are you telling me that I have to?

I think if people realized how much work went into writing a novel, they wouldn’t say this…I hope. Selling books is how I get PAID for the WORK I’ve done in WRITING this novel. Some authors don’t even get free copies of their books, others get a discounted rate. So are they supposed to pay for you to have a copy? No. No. No.

The simple answer is: NO. I won’t be sending every person on my Facebook friends list a copy of my book. I might have giveaways, I might send some copies to certain friends and family, but no, John Smith, who sat behind me in 9th grade English, I cannot send you a copy.

Question #4 – How many books have you sold?

I find this question a little uncomfortable. It feels the same as being asked how much my salary is or how much I earn an hour. It’s not hard to figure out that, on average, authors make somewhere between $1 to $3 per book (not including any kind of royalty advance). So if I say I’ve sold 100 books or 100,000, you’ll either think I’m broke as hell or rich (depending on how you define rich). Unless the author is a New York Times Bestselling author, who’s sold millions of copies, asking this question is a bad idea and will almost certainly make the author cringe inside.

A more appropriate question might be, “How well is your book selling?” This gives the author a wide range of answers to choose from. They can say how many books they’ve sold, they can tell you whether they’ve made any kind of best seller list, or they can simply say “Good” or “Not great.”

So before you go asking a writer for the details of their tax return, maybe consider how you’d feel if you were asked how much you make in a year?

I’m sure there are many more questions writers get asked that makes their skin crawl. These are the 4 that have affected me. As I said earlier, I am grateful for the support and people that believe in me. But I’m telling you with the utmost certainty that if you ask me any of these four questions one more time, my eye might begin to twitch.

Interview with Author, Jamie Grey on writing, indie-publishing and the rules of writing

Okay, you guys! I’ve got another great interview for you. I’m lucky to have had the opportunity to interview all these great authors. I’m starting to feel like the Oprah of books! (Side note, I breathed the same air as Oprah once and she gave me a lip gloss. So we’re practically friends).

Today I bring you an interview with the talented indie-author, Jamie Grey. Jamie’s debut novel, Ultraviolet Catastrophe, is a YA Sci-fi that is a MUST read!

You may notice I’ve asked Jamie some of the same questions that I’ve asked other authors. Let me assure you, this is not lazy interviewing; there is method to my madness. It’s fascinating to see how every author answers the same questions differently. My hope in doing this is to help new writers see that every author’s writing process and experience is different.

So now I give you…Jamie Grey.

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When did you know you wanted to be a writer?

Always? I remember writing down stories as a kid, making little books for my parents and illustrating them. Then about five years ago I stumbled on a critique site, joined and started getting feedback on my writing. I realized that maybe I could actually write things that people wanted to read. I’ve been hooked ever since!

What drew you to the sci-fi genre?

It’s funny, I actually started out writing fantasy. I loved those kinds of books as a kid – getting lost in different worlds, meeting new people. But then I started watching a few sci-fi TV shows a couple of years ago and realized the two genres were actually similar, just with different settings. Somehow when I started writing sci-fi everything just clicked, I felt comfortable and at home. It was surprising, but I’m just going with it for now J I have to say, I’m kind of a genre chameleon so I’m sure I’ll be trying out something new soon!

I’ve read your novel Ultraviolet Catastrophe and some of the concepts in it are pretty impressive. How did you come up them, and how did you make them so believable?

Thanks so much! I actually did a ton of research in physics and science in general to try to grasp some of the concepts (I understood some things better than others. There’s a reason I never stuck with that science degree!). But once I felt like I had a base of knowledge, I played the what-if game. I’m sure real scientists would be appalled with the liberties I’ve taken with the laws of physics! I also just tried to think of cool things I’d like to see in real life.

What made you decide to publish as an indie-author?

I’ll be honest, it was a tough decision. I’d always thought that I’d be traditionally published, but with all the changes going on in the industry, and after some great feedback from agents, I decided the best thing for my career right now was to go indie. Everything is in so much flux that I wanted to see what happened before taking that leap. And honestly, I haven’t regretted it once! I’m actually mad at myself for not self publishing sooner. It’s so much fun to see a book from start to finish, to pick the cover and design the interior and make sure everything is just the way I want it. It’s perfect for my control-freak self! And the instant gratification is fantastic!

Most readers only get to read a finished, polished novel. And this can be somewhat confusing to new writers, who find that writing the first draft is not always so simple. What does your first draft really look like?

Ha! My first drafts are always one big mess. I fell in love with fast drafting back during my very first NanoWrimo, and that’s basically the process I use to draft every book now. I usually create an outline to make sure I know where to go, but once that’s down, I just get out of my own way and write. It also means that there’s lots to fix once that first draft is finished. I write fairly lean, so I usually have to go back and layer several times – character arc, sensory details, internal thoughts, plot points.

I’m also a habitual offender of using “story research” to procrastinate, so I’ve taken to leaving myself notes on things I’ll need to research later, names I need to create, or bits of dialogue I’ll need to add. If it slows me down, I skip over it and come back later. But that also means I have plenty of little gems like “insert sex scene here” or “find science-y device to use here” scattered throughout the MS.

How many drafts do you write before you have a finished novel?

I think it depends on the book. Most of the time, I have my draft zero, the word vomit draft. Then I’ll do a pass to fix plot points, add descriptions and characterizations. I usually send it to my first round betas at that point. Once I get their feedback I do another edit before sending it to the next round betas. Usually I’ll do at least one more full edit after I get those comments back, sometimes two to make sure I’ve added in everything.

So that’s, um, 3-4 drafts/edits, and then the copy edit.

Do you use critique partners or writing groups?

I’ve done both actually. Right now I have critique partners that I’ve connected with online who are invaluable to me in getting my work where it needs to be. But when I was first starting out, I was part of an online writing group that was really helpful in learning how to critique other people’s work and accept feedback on my own. It was a great experience for me just starting out as a serious writer.

Do you have any strange writing habits?

Not really. I try to sneak in writing at work or whenever I can, so I’m pretty good at just diving in. I usually have to go back and read a few pages from the day before, but other than that, I just start writing. I will admit I have a pair of lucky fingerless gloves sitting beside my computer at all times. I can’t type at ALL if my fingers are cold. And they’re cute. An added bonus 🙂

What has been the most exciting moment in your writing career thus far?

I have to say there have been tons! I think the most exciting moment was when those first reviews for Ultraviolet Catastrophe started to come in. Strangers had read my book. And liked it! Such an amazing feeling. And connecting with fans was so humbling.

I have to admit, getting that first royalty check, as small as it was, ranks right up there too!

What has been the most challenging?

I think the whole publishing/writing process is so full of subjectivity and unknowns it can cause a lot of stress. Should I self publish or try for a traditional deal? Why don’t people like my book? Why isn’t it selling more? I don’t always deal well with ambiguity, and in this business that’s pretty much all there is. What works once may never work again and what’s right for one book, could be completely wrong for the next. So staying flexible and keeping my options open has been a huge challenge.

How do you measure success as an indie author?

That’s a tough one. I think it’s different for every book. For Ultraviolet Catastrophe, just getting the book published and out made it successful to me. Sure I wanted sales, but since it’s my first published book, I didn’t expect it to become a blockbuster. I think my ultimate measure of success is if I break even on what I spent to publish it. I’m more than half way there J

What are the most important steps to take before publishing independently?

Since I’m still new at this, I’m still trying to figure it out myself! I think learning the craft of writing is crucial. Writing a good book is the base for everything else. I think lining up resources is also a good idea – find a good editor, copy editor, cover artist, proofreader, book designer, etc. You need to trust them and be able to work well with them. It’ll make your life easier. And it will make your book better. Don’t skimp on editing!

I also think promotion is important. Don’t spend a ton of money, but do try to request reviews, do a cover reveal, write some articles. Let people know your book is coming. I still struggle with that myself, so I get that it’s tough, but it will help in the long run.

And I think most importantly, be grateful to everyone who helps you along the way, who leaves a review or kind comment, or just takes the time to congratulate you.  Everyone’s busy and they took time out of their day to do that.

Let’s talk about “The Rules of Writing?” We see them so often—agents, editors and writing-gurus all want to offer their helpful and sometimes confusing tips. But then we see our favorite authors break these rules time and time again.

What are your thoughts on:

Adverbs – Oh adverbs. Everyone loves to hate them. I try not to use them over-much, but sometimes, an adverb is the only word that will work. I think they have their place,  just don’t use them as a crutch. I think people go too far in hating those poor little words J

Using anything other than “said” to carry dialog –  I rarely use anything other than said, but I don’t use said that much either. I’m a big fan of using action or movement to indicate who’s talking. A tip I learned from a fantastic editor a few years ago. It’s made a world of difference in my writing.

Avoiding detailed descriptions of people, places or things – There’s such a fine line with description, especially in science fiction. You want enough so that people can picture the scene and what’s going on, but too much can make readers’ eyes glaze over. I don’t actively avoid descriptions, I just try to be smart about it and weave it in seamlessly rather than being info dumpy-about it.

Character thought exposition “He knew”, “She thought” etc… – I wrote my current book in 3rd person and I worked hard to keep those out of my writing when at all possible. I know that it can reduce the immediacy and connection between the reader and story, and there’s usually another way to get the point across. But like all rules, there are always times when you’re going to need to use those kinds of exposition.

Who or what do you look to for inspiration when writing?

Hm. I get inspiration from all over. I’m a visual person, so images or pictures are big for me. Video games and movies have sparked story ideas. A good soundtrack can get me inspired to write. And I think my friends and critique partners are pretty good at keeping me motivated and writing when I don’t want to.

What can we expect in 2014 from Jamie Grey?

ALL the books! LOL, ok, maybe not all of them. I’m publishing a science-fiction space opera trilogy this year. The first book – The Star Thief will be out February 4th. I also want to write a few short stories set in that world. And I’m toying with a new adult contemporary story idea. With spies. So yeah, I’m going to be busy this year! I can’t wait.

Jamie’s debut novel, Ultraviolet Catastrophe is available now in ebook and paperback (I have the paperback because the cover is simply gorgeous)  http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00FBP2YRG/ref=cm_sw_r_tw_dp_WDDOsb1C5NCNN

Find it on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18041050-ultraviolet-catastrophe

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Quantum Electrodynamics. String Theory. Schrödinger’s cat. For sixteen-year-old Lexie Kepler, they’re just confusing terms in her science textbooks, until she finds out that her parents have been drugging her to suppress her outrageous IQ. Now Branston Academy, a school run by the world’s most powerful scientists, has tracked her down and is dying for her to attend – as a research subject.

She takes refuge at Quantum Technologies, a secret scientific community where her father works as a top-notch scientist, and begins her new life as girl genius at Quantum High. But the assignments at her new school make the Manhattan Project look like preschool – and Lexie barely survived freshman algebra.

Her first big assignment – creating an Einstein-Rosen bridge – is also her first chance to prove she can hold her own with the rest of QT’s prodigies. But while working with the infuriatingly hot Asher Rosen, QT’s teen wonder, Lexie uncovers a mistake in their master equation. Instead of a wormhole, the machine they’re building would produce deadly ultraviolet rays that could destroy the world. Now Lexie and Asher have to use their combined brainpower to uncover the truth behind the device. Before everyone at Quantum Technologies is caught in the ultraviolet catastrophe.

And coming February 4th, 2014 by Jamie Grey, THE STAR THIEF.

She might only be twenty-three, but Renna Carrizal is the most notorious thief in the galaxy. There’s just one problem – all she wants is to get the frak out.

But when Renna rescues an injured boy from the warehouse she’s casing, she finds herself on the run from the mob instead of enjoying retirement on a garden world. Turns out, the kid was a plant to lead her to MYTH, a top-secret galactic protection agency. MYTH needs Renna’s special skills and they make her an offer she can’t refuse – declining will send her straight to a prison ship for the rest of her life.

To make sure she does her job they shackle her with a MYTH watchdog, the handsome but arrogant Captain Finn. A former mercenary-turned-galactic-hero, Finn happens to have his own dirty secrets. Secrets that Renna wouldn’t mind uncovering for herself. Together, they discover the attacks are an experiment to develop illegal cybernetics that will create an unstoppable army.

The intended target? The human star fleet.

Now Renna must use her skills as the Star Thief to pull off the biggest job of her career – saving the galaxy. And herself.

Find it on Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/19146092-the-star-thief

Interview with Julie Hutchings, Author of Running Home, on writing and publishing

There’s a new word of the day–Twauther–which is twitter + author. You love it, right? I wouldn’t have come up with this gem of a word had I not had the chance to interview one half of the Undead Duo, Julie Hutchings (You better know the other half is author, Kristen Strassel).

My first encounter with Julie was on twitter. I found her on the release day of her debut paranormal/horror novel, Running Home. I bought it right away and luckily had my kindle with me while I waited hours at the DMV. I loved Julie’s book and when I tweeted her to let her know, I was blown away by just how humble and appreciative was to all of her new fans. Since then Julie has become one of my favorite writer friends. She is hysterical, witty, and has let me into her world of writing.

Julie was kind enough to answer some questions for me about her writing process, her experience as a published author and her views on chocolate equality–trust me, it’s a real thing. 🙂

Me

You used Japanese folklore in your novel. How did that come about?

I love obscure mythology, and have a black belt in a Korean and Japanese martial art mix. I’ve always wanted to go to Japan to study martial arts there. I have a bit of an obsession with the almost harshness of the Japanese language, the directness of their fighting techniques, the sparse beauty and yet incredible richness of all things Japanese. So when the Japanese death god mythology fell in my lap, I had to make it part of me and mine.

What draws you to vampires?

Immortality. I want to live forever and want everyone I love to do the same. Not to mention I just like the grim eroticism of blood.

You seem to have a very successful blog going at deadlyeverafter.com. How valuable has blogging been for you? Do you think it helps market you as an author?

Blogging has been incredibly valuable to me. Something I never expected to come of it was the friendships I’ve made there! It started last year when we did The Nightmares Before Christmas blog series where we featured writers to do a horror Christmas themed flash fiction piece, and some of my closest friends now came from that. Aside from that, it definitely helps market me as an author, but not because of all the blog views or anything, but more because people know my voice from there and either love or hate it. As you know, I have a mouth on me, and I’m my most passionate and outspoken about writing. You want a lot of swearing and abrasive opinions? Feel free to visit my blog.

How did you find your publisher and what has the traditional publishing experience been like for you?

I wrote a flash fiction story called THE THREAT (http://www.booksofthedeadpress.com/2013/04/flash-fiction-by-julie-hutchings.html?spref=tw) for the Books of the Dead blog, and James Roy Daley piped up and said, “Hey, don’t you have a full length novel?” I was querying agents and hating my life at the time, and though I knew Books of the Dead had an open submission at the time, I never thought Roy would want RUNNING HOME. I didn’t think it was something he would be into, but he grabbed it up!

Traditional publishing is what I always wanted to do, it was my Plan A. So, to get to do it at all, with my first book, is still such an Easter basket of happiness for me, that the roadbumps along the way don’t put me down for more than a minute. Every time some little thing goes awry, I say “yay, look at my bookie!” and I’m happy as hell again. Also, I really want to focus on the creative end of writing, and have no idea how to do the other stuff. So I’m endlessly thankful to have someone to handle that for me. Roy’s cool to deal with for me because we can say just about anything to each other, and we’re fine. It’s like when two men get in an argument and then punch each other in a parking lot. All’s well in the world.

Many of us twauthers (See what I did there, twitter + authors) follow, Eric Ruben, who has recently become your agent. Congratulations, by the way. How did that partnership come about?

Eric and I were just friendly from the start, and tweeted for a long time. I guess I have a pattern, because I didn’t think he would want my work either, for some reason. But one day I tweeted that I’d just written the grossest thing I ever wrote, a chapter in THE HARPY. His client and my wonderful friend, Jessie Devine, piped up asking to read it, and then another friend, so I sent it to them to read, and they started chatting about it on Twitter. Eric wanted to know what all the fuss was about, so he read it, too, and not long after that we were talking contracts and I was having a heart attack. I also had met him at a Mystery Writers meeting that I crashed with Kristen Strassel, specifically to meet him because we loved him so much. It helps to make personal connections, as long as they’re genuine. Friends first, business partners next.

I’ve seen you refer to Eric as a chocolate racist because he dislikes white chocolate. Are you a proponent of chocolate equality?

I am a total proponent of chocolate equality. I’ve been known to give up my seat on the bus for white chocolate, and even to have white chocolate friends. Don’t get me wrong—if white chocolate didn’t taste as frigging fantastic as it does, I would turn up my nose at it in a second.

What is the writing process like for you? Are you a planner or a pantser?

Total pantser. I probably couldn’t stick to an outline if I was glued to it. For my last two books, I just knew I needed to write something, and literally sat down and started writing, just to see what fell out. Then THE ANIMAL, which has yet to be even shown to Eric was born, and THE HARPY not long after. RUNNING HOME was my first, and the sequel I’m working on, RUNNING AWAY, was actually the end of that book originally, so the process is a little different with them. I devote myself to writing every day, with the rare break of a few days when I need it. I treat it like a job, there’s no waiting for some muse to show up. Those books work for me, and I write like the world will end if I don’t.

Many new writers get caught up in trying to perfect their first draft. But seasoned authors know that the first draft is almost always a complete mess. What does your first draft look like and how many drafts do you usually write before you consider your novel finished?

My first drafts are different than a lot of other writers’ I think. Rather than write to get a bunch of words on the page, I write sparingly, and go back and embellish what I think needs more. My first drafts tend to be short rather than long, so I don’t have too much to cut. I end up planning out my drafts, so that I do one edit for character voice—does this sound like my characters, or do they sound all alike? Do they have distinctive voices? I’ll do separate drafts for details—additional research, doing my first draft with basic research. I’ll do a half dozen different drafts just to make sure I can concentrate on one aspect of the book at a time. Then, I feel good about it. I don’t love having a complete mess of a book, it just doesn’t feel right to me. I want as much order as I can have to it. The book works for me, I don’t let it overrun me.

Do you use critique partners or writing groups?

I don’t really have a writing group, unless you count #writeclub on Twitter, but I do have actually just a couple of critique partners that I rely on with every novel. They get me and my intention entirely, and so I trust their feedback implicitly. But I sort of listen to myself first. Big fan of trusting my instincts.

Do you have any strange writing habits?

I think writing the stuff I write is a strange enough habit, but probably the weirdest thing about me is that when I start a book I need to have a new big, weird binder, and folders in it, and notebooks I can take out and carry with me everywhere I go, and new post-its, and special pen pockets, and ripped out magazine pages for inspiration, and color swatches, and stickers…..I mean, it is readable only by me. It’s nuts, and I love it. I’ll send you a pic of RUNNING AWAY’s notebook. It’s madness.

How do you find the time to write with little ones running around?

I get up with 5am Writer’s Club on Twitter an awful lot to have those few hours before they awake to myself. And I write all day. I carry a notebook and jot notes waiting in lines. I’m lucky that my three year old is really independent, and wants to discover things on his own, and he loves to hang out with me on the couch and watch movies, so it gives me a lot of time while my oldest is at school.

What has been the most exciting moment in your writing career thus far?

Oh, jeez. There’s so many. That first review I received from Opening Line Literary Zine, with the cover of RUNNING HOME’s reveal….that was surreal. The kind of thing you dream about. Signing a contract is insane. A ridiculous feeling. And I cried when my paperbacks showed up in the mail. Every bit of it is exciting. I love writing so much, it excites me that people are interested in what makes me so happy.

What has been the most challenging?

Without a doubt, the financial burden of me not working a full time job. Emotionally I feel better than I ever have. I’m happier than I’ve ever been, home with my children and husband, letting my creativity lead the way. I love helping other writers, inspiring people to plug away. And yes, there can be an emotional toll sometimes from writing, but I feel more myself now than I ever have in my life. Now, if only I could buy some clothes, that would be great.

I’d like to ask you a question I ask many authors. What are your thoughts on “The Rules of Writing” – those handy and sometimes frustrating little bits of wisdom that seem to bemoan the writing techniques that we see famous authors use all the time.

What are your thoughts on:

Adverbs: I was a huge adverb offender when I started writing, and didn’t know it was a no-no. Now I write pretty sparingly, and have to say, I’m not a huge adverb fan myself. Less is more.

Using anything other than “said” to carry dialogue: Only occasional. It’s not about how clever you can make your damn word, it’s how intriguing the words are that you’re having your characters use. Don’t make it all flowery and stupid.  

Avoiding detailed descriptions of people, places or things: Again, I was a big offender. Not of overdescribing people and things, but places. I wanted so much to convey how places felt to me. The book store, Birch Tree Books, in particular, in RUNNING HOME. God, I fought tooth and nail about describing that place in my opening chapter for four pages, and didn’t want to listen to anyone when I was told over and over not to do it. It’s one thing I eventually caved on, and now I know why it’s so distracting.

Character thought exposition “He knew”, “She thought” etc…: I’m cool with it. Though I try not to do it too much, it happens, and I try to be aware of doing it when it’s needed, not just because I’m too lazy to find another way.   

Who or what do you look to for inspiration when writing?

Movies. I draw a lot from movies. And I’m a firm believer in finding inspiration in new things and places all the time, or else you can’t create something new and better. You have to push it.

I know you’re working on Running Away, the sequel to Running Home. How many more books do you have planned for the series?

Three of these bad boys. CRAWLING BACK is the end of the trilogy.

What wisdom have you gained as a published author that you would like to impart to those just starting out?

It may sound cheesy, but be thankful for every single sale, review, retweet of links, pictures of the book people send when it shows up in the mail. I have high hopes for my work, but it starts with those individuals who get so excited when they reach that one spot in chapter 45, and the ones who squeal when it shows up on their doorstep. It isn’t about amazon rankings, or making a bunch of money, or even how perfect the book looks, it’s about having done it at all. I choke up every time I hold the damn book in my hand. Be grateful for it, and never forget that no matter what little publishing bumps you run in to, and you will, that you did it. It happened.

What else can we expect from Julie Hutchings in 2014?

Ooooh, lots! There’s another novel of mine kicking around the publishing world called THE HARPY, and mother of Christ, I love that book. I can’t wait for it to meet the world. I’ll soon be working on submitting a novel I’ve been sitting on, THE ANIMAL, too, and that’s unlike anything I’ve ever written. I’ll let you in on my secret, too…. I have a YA dying to make it onto paper, too. It already has its own crazy notebook. Haha. Aside from that, lots of blogs on www.deadlyeverafter.com and my new side project blog with a handful of other writers, The Midnight Type. I’ll get myself into a wild chasm of mayhem that puts my sanity at jeopardy and probably write some new monstrosity I haven’t dreamed up yet, too. Just the way I like it.

Running Home - CoverRunning Home is available in ebook and paperback http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00EEG42IM/ref=cm_sw_r_tw_dp_8nmNsb0BH8SBN

And you can find Julie on twitter @HutchingsJulie

Or you can follow her blog at http://www.deadlyeverafter.com