The things I didn't do

So as my time here in the U.S. comes to an end (as a resident, not a visitor – can't get rid of me that easily), I find myself placing extra significance on things I might not normally think too much about. The day after Halloween, for instance, I said mournfully and quite dramatically, "That was my last Halloween here." To which my friend said, "So? You worked the whole day and night, anyway. You missed it."

She's right. I did miss Halloween, and the rest of the year, too. My head was buried in launching CREEP and writing FREAK. Damn those little monsters. And now I'm bummed at how fast the time went. There's so much I wanted to do here, and had I known I'd have only four years to do it, I wouldn't have put it off.

Here are a few things I always meant do, but never got around to doing:

(The Seattle skyline at night.)

Realizing all the things I never got around to doing is an important reminder that time is short. There isn't enough time to do all the things we want to do unless we make time. I have no regrets about how my writing career progressed this year, because it was a great year for me in that regard. But on a personal level, there's a lot I didn't do. A lot I neglected to do. And a lot that I wanted to do.

What about you? Is there anything you want to do that you haven't made time for yet?

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Going home, and leaving home, all at the same time

So. I have some personal news to share.

I found out last month that my husband's company is transferring him back to Toronto at the end of this year. Permanently. Which means we're moving. In six weeks.


Look at this map. It's about 2,600 miles, or 4,200 kilometers, from Seattle to Toronto. Did I mention we move in six weeks?

Needless to say, since we found out, life's been a little hectic.

Yes, Toronto is our hometown, but I'll be straight up honest: I wasn't exactly excited about the news at first. It's not that I don't love Canada – I freaking love Canada and am fiercely proud to be Canadian. But I became a writer here, in Seattle. The Northwest has been endlessly inspiring, and I'm not sure I'm ready to leave. But it isn't up to me. And it isn't all about me.

So in between finishing the second book and working on preparations for the CREEP Canadian launch earlier this month, I've been making arrangements to relocate. The week I spent in Toronto turned into a house-hunting endeavor. Thankfully, we found a house, but it was a frantic search, and there a hundred more things still to do. Canada and the US may be neighbors, but they're two totally different countries, and moving back is more complicated than I can explain here.

As much I'm looking forward to being close to family and friends again, I am going to miss Seattle like crazy. I love it here. Life is quiet here. I've had huge amounts of time to myself which allowed me to write at the pace I do. I love the rain and mist and trees, which turned out to be the perfect setting for CREEP and FREAK. I love how it never gets too hot or too cold. I love the easy pace of the Northwest, where people talk slower and move slower and traffic is one-fifth what it is in Toronto. I love the Craftsman style of my house. I love how there's a coffee shop on every corner.

I will miss the place where I became a writer.

I will miss going to Seahawks games. Canada has the CFL... but yeah, we won't talk about that.

I will miss Saturdays at Pike's Place Market...

... where I'd buy big bunches of flowers for ten bucks, and they'd last two weeks.

This is so random, but I will miss the guys who sing Doo Wop, a Capella, outside the world's very first Starbucks.

I will miss Powell's in Portland, Oregon. It's about a 3-hour drive south, which I was happy  to do because it's pretty much the world's greatest bookstore.

I will miss going to the Tulip Festival in Skagit Valley.

I will miss Teri, the very first friend I made here. I snapped this pic of her holding what I think might be the world's largest  cat ... don't ask.

I will miss lunches with Nancy, my first writing friend here. Wish we'd met sooner.

And I will miss the hell out of Micheleen, one of my best friends since childhood, who lives a bit north, but we made it work. It's going to be a little harder to meet her for dinner every month once I move to the other side of the continent. 

I feel like I'm leaving a lot behind. I promise to do a post soon about what I'm looking forward to about moving back to Toronto, but for now, if nobody minds, I just want to be emo and wallow for a bit.

Have you ever moved some place far from home?

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All the way from London, England...

I love it when a big box o' books arrives on my doorstep. And I love it even more when the box is filled with my books.

This is the first package I've ever received from the UK. It was very exciting, indeed!

My CREEP UK paperbacks! They're big! And... flexible!

I love how CREEP looks in paperback. Love love love.

Welcome to the family, paperback CREEP! (Yes, I realize I photograph my books like they're children, but I can't help it. They're gorgeous, if I do say so myself.)

Big thanks to Sphere, my UK publisher, who've been so wonderful to work with. My editor, Catherine Burke, is absolutely lovely, and you should follow her on Twitter (@CathBurke_Ed) because she's so sweet and funny and I love how she says "Hurrah!" instead of "Hooray!". CREEP will be out on December 22nd in the UK. You can pre-order it now from Amazon UK.

Oh! And in other news (please excuse all the exclamation marks in this post, but sometimes periods just don't adequately convey my enthusiasm), look what's available for pre-order on Amazon: FREAK! Which will be released in hardcover on August 7, 2012.

Got good news to share? Or just news? Do tell!

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CREEP launch in Canada! With pictures!

I'm back! With pictures, as promised. This is a compilation of photos from six different cameras. Thanks so much to everyone who snapped pics for me.

The launch at Chapters Queensway was more amazing than I could have imagined. Though I can't lie – I was SO nervous that night. I rehearsed about a hundred times that day. I don't consider public speaking my strength, so that's why I practice.

Pulling up to the store was a bit surreal. I hadn't been to this Chapters in about five years, not since I moved out of Canada. I used to live five minutes away from this particular store, which was why I was so happy to have the launch here.

Chapters Queensway, Etobicoke (West Toronto)

When I arrived, two lovely ladies were waiting for me just inside the main entrance. April Gibson, my publicist from Simon & Schuster Canada, and Lisa Winstanley, the marketing manager for Indigo Books, made me feel very welcome. If I wasn't so nervous, I might have felt like a rock star as they guided me back to the "green room". But my knees were shaking way too much!

The setup looked amazing.

My poster! Yes, I kept it. 

The signing table. Look at all those books! Lisa, from Indigo Books, is on the right.

Love this photo. Thanks, Brian.

I relaxed (ha ha, RIGHT) in the back room with my two best friends (Annie and Dawn) while I waited for the event to begin. April and Lisa had me sign a bunch of books, some for the store, and some for S&S.

About twenty minutes later, it was showtime. I heard my name announced over the loudspeakers. "Attention, Chapters Indigo customers. The event with author Jennifer Hillier is about to begin." NO JOKE, I thought I was going to throw up! (I didn't.) Nevertheless, Annie and Dawn were rather delighted at my nervousness, having never seen me like that before, and I'm sure I won't live it down anytime soon.

Lisa introduced me to the audience, and then there was applause, and then I walked out. For a minute it felt very slow motion and dreamlike, but I snapped out of it when I saw exactly how many people were in the audience. Family, friends, old neighbors, former coworkers, even classmates I hadn't seen since high school! I was so moved by the turnout. I think it took me a minute to find my voice.

The audience early on in the evening.
Knees shaking, I spoke to the audience about my publishing journey for about fifteen minutes, and then I read from the new book, FREAK, for another ten minutes. As I spoke, the audience kept growing. Did I get less nervous? Unfortunately, no.

Thank goodness for still shots. You can't tell I'm shaking.

After the reading, there was a Q&A session which lasted about fifteen minutes. I answered questions about CREEP, my writing process, where I get my ideas, why I write thrillers, and even what I dream about.

So many people looking at me!

Then everyone started lining up to have their books signed. I don't know how many I signed, but my hand was cramping towards the end. I apologize to the folks who got their books signed later in the evening. I hope my writing was legible!

The first person in line was a friend I hadn't seen since high school. Hi, Andrea!

More high school friends! Shellon and Fiona. Had a lot of fun with these two back in the day.

I'm a hugger. If you ever meet me, brace yourself.
Another friend from high school. Eric used to bug me in tenth grade science class.

My personal paparazzi guy behind me. Thanks again, Brian!
The cutie pie beside him is Annie, his wife and my best friend.

I always worry I'm going to spell someone's name wrong.

Signed everything with my favorite purple pen. 

Lovely people waiting in line.

Me with a former colleague, Liz. We hadn't seen each other since 2002!

One of my bestest friends, Junior, and his beautiful girlfriend, Lisa.

My stepbrother, Jonathan, and his aunt, Jennifer.

Signing a book for my publicist, April. WHO ROCKS, by the way.

I don't know who this is, but I like what she's holding!

End of the night and only close family and friends are still lingering.
My mom chatting with my other best friend, Dawn (who'll kill me when she sees I posted a picture of her).

My mom and I with my brother John, my sister-in-law Liz, and their kids, Sean, Shayne, and Ashley.

Steve carrying my poster to safety. I'll probably frame it.

All in all, a fabulous night. Huge thanks to Chapters Queensway for hosting the event! And to the amazing folks at Simon & Schuster Canada for making this happen.

Most definitely a dream come true.

* * *

STRING BRIDGE by Jessica Bell

Today is THE day to help Jessica Bell's debut, STRING BRIDGE, hit the bestseller list on Amazon, and receive the all-original soundtrackMelody Hill: On the Other Sidewritten and performed by the author herself, for free!

All you have to do is purchase the book today (paperback, or eBook), November 11th, and then email the receipt to: jessica.carmen.bell(at)gmail(dot)com

She will then email you a link to download the album at no extra cost!

To purchase the paperback:
To purchase the eBook:

To listen to samples of the soundtrack, visit iTunes.

If you are not familiar with String Bridge, check out the book trailer:

Rave Reviews for String Bridge:

Jessica Bell’s STRING BRIDGE strummed the fret of my
veins, thrummed my blood into a mad rush, played me taut until the final page,
yet with echoes still reverberating. A rhythmic debut with metrical tones of
heavied dark, fleeting prisms of light, and finally, a burst of joy—just as
with any good song, my hopeful heartbeat kept tempo with Bell’s narrative.
~ Kathryn Magendie, author of Sweetie and Publishing Editor of Rose & Thorn Journal

“Poet and
musician Jessica Bell's debut novel String Bridge
is a rich exploration of desire, guilt, and the
difficult balancing act of the modern woman. The writing is lyrical throughout,
seamlessly integrating setting, character and plot in a musical structure that
allows the reader to identify with Melody's growing insecurity as her world
begins to unravel …
String Bridge is
a powerful debut from a promising writer, full of music, metaphor, and just a
hint of magic.” ~ Magdalena Ball, author of Repulsion
and Sleep Before Evening

Jessica Bell is a brilliant writer
of great skill and depth.
She doesn't pull back from the difficult
scenes, from conflict, pain, intensity. She puts it all out there, no holds
barred, no holding back. She knows how to craft a scene, how to develop
character, how to create suspense. This is an absolutely brilliant debut novel.
I look forward to reading her
next novel, and next and next.” 
~ Karen Jones
Gowen, author of Farm Girl, Uncut Diamonds and House of Diamonds

Please TWEET and/or FACEBOOK this post using #StringBridge!

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Canadian girls do it better

I kid, I kid!

I know most of you guys aren't from Toronto, but should you happen to find yourself wandering into the area on November 7th, you will find me in my hometown celebrating the launch of CREEP.

If you're around, please do stop by. Would love to meet you. If not, I'll be back the week of the 14th, with pics!

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