A conversation with D.A. Confidential

I'm chatting with Mark, an assistant district attorney in Texas – yes, a prosecutor! – over at D.A. Confidential. Come and eavesdrop! Hopefully I didn't say anything that will incriminate me.

Click HERE to go THERE.

* * *

T minus 6 days

I suspect there are things I'm supposed to be doing in these last few days leading up to CREEP's release, but I honestly have no idea what they are. I've got a bunch of interviews and guest posts scheduled for next month (Suspense Magazine, BookTrib.com, ITW's The Big Thrill, Chuck Sambuchino's Guide to Literary Agents blog, and a few more, I hope). I'm writing my speech for ThrillerFest in New York next week, where I'll be on the Debut Author's Breakfast panel. I'm tweeting and Facebooking as much as I can without annoying people. I've given away all my ARCs in various contests on other bloggers' blogs. So I'd like to hope that if you've been reading my blog for longer than a week, you already know I have a book coming out, as it's all I've been barfing talking about lately.

(And if I've seemed kind of vomitous about the book, I'm sorry. I actually hate it when personal blogs turn into book promo frenzies, and no longer resemble the places that drew you in as a reader in the first place. I sincerely hope that hasn't happened here, or that would be a big blog FAIL on my part.)

So what else should I be doing? I'm not sure... because, see, they don't give you a manual on this stuff. There's no book you can buy called "What To Do The Week Before Your Debut Novel Is Released FOR DUMMIES".

There should be, though! That would be very helpful!

When I look back at where I was this time last year, all my energy was directed toward CREEP selling. That's all I wanted. I never once considered all the stuff that would need to get done after the book sold, because I never thought about anything beyond Getting The Book Deal. But this deal happened a year ago. A year! Ago! Where did the time go?

How could the book be coming out already?

Why does it feel like the release date is RUSHING to meet me? Isn't releasing your first book supposed to feel more like the start of summer vacation, when those last few days of June drag on agonizingly slow, because you just can't wait to get out of school? Why doesn't it feel like that?

How is it possible to want something so badly and yet feel TERRIFIED that it's actually happening?

Why does it feel like it's happening and I'M NOT READY?

Releasing a debut novel... it isn't like I thought it was going to be. Nobody tells you how scary it is. Not that I'm complaining, because the joy definitely outweighs the anxiety. And there has been SO MUCH JOY on this journey so far. I have cried tears of happiness on this journey so far.

But I can't lie.

I'm freaked as all get out.

* * *

An excerpt of CREEP

Nice words! About CREEP!

This just in from My Bookish Ways:
The author really knows how to keep the tension humming, and creates a sense of urgency that will keep you breathlessly turning the pages all the way to the shocking climax! To read the entire review, click HERE.

And this one is from The Mystery Gazette:
Creep is a fascinating yet terrifying psychological thriller mindful of the movie Fatal Attraction. To read the entire review, click HERE.

(I still can't get over the fact that are people are actually reading my book. Crazy. T minus 8 days...)



Okay, now for an excerpt. Here's the elevator pitch to give you some context: In CREEP, a psychological thriller, a sexually addicted college professor is stalked and terrorized by her teaching assistant, who's also her former lover.


* * *

A trio of students still lingered in the lecture hall, chattering loudly in one of the aisles. Hesitating, Sheila walked toward Ethan, her insides tight.

She couldn't put it off any longer. It was time.

"Professor Tao," Ethan said as she approached. His light gray eyes crawled over her face, missing nothing. "Great lecture today. Very engaging. Even learned something new, though of course I took this class as an undergrad. You have such a refreshing take on classic theories."

Always the terrific bullshitter. He usually got away with it because of his good looks and cocky demeanor. But today, the very sound of his voice made her want to throw up.

"We need to talk." Her voice was low. She was hyperaware of the three students still chatting about twenty feet away in the otherwise empty hall.

"Oh?" He continued to study her. "About anything in particular?"

"You know exactly what this is about."

"Let me guess. Leanne Armstrong tattled on me." He finally broke eye contact to glance at his watch. "Can this wait?"

Unbelievable. He knew damn well this wasn't about Leanne. Fine, he wanted to play it that way, so be it.

"No, it can't." Her voice was still quiet, but she spoke with authority. "Whatever the hell's going on between us, you still work for me, and you still need to do your job."

Ethan laughed, and the sound echoed in the large auditorium. He didn't care who might be listening. "You're ballsy. I always liked that about you. Always so professional."

"Ethan—"

"So why don't you do my job as well? From now on, I'll redirect all student concerns to you. You can handle that, can't you?" He cocked his head to one side. "I know how much you care about your students, Dr. Tao. You'd never let them down. Especially me."

The three students still chatting in the lecture hall were watching them, perplexed looks on their faces. Sheila didn't think they could hear anything from where they were standing, but there was no way to know.

Ethan leaned in closer and she could smell his cinnamon breath. "I watched our video again last night, Sheila, and I am this close to making you famous. Go ahead. Push me."

* * *

10 reasons why a writer's life is NOT sexy



* * *

When I was in Toronto last week, one of the guests at my best friend's wedding very breathlessly said to me, "Oh, Jenny. Your life must be so glamorous! Being a writer... that's so sexy!"

I laughed. HARD. Now in fairness, the woman had been enjoying the open bar all night, and perhaps she didn't realize the hilarity of what she was saying. Because as we writers know, a writer's life is so NOT sexy.

And here are 10 reasons why: 

10. You're in pajamas all day. Which is fun, but not definitely not sexy (especially if the ones you're wearing are ten years old, with holes and permanent stains).

9. You get food stuck in your teeth because you're not paying attention to what you're eating. Gummy bears are a particularly bad snack choice. Never mind the sugar – they make your smile unattractively colorful.

8. You make ugly faces as you write. If you write thrillers (like I do), your facial expressions will be of repulsion,  horror, and shock. All brow-furrowing and wrinkle-inducing.

7. Your eyes are bloodshot and buggy from staring at the computer screen for hours at a time.

6. Your breath is stale, thanks to the mugs of coffee you drink.

5. Your hands look like you tried to claw your way out of a well because you chew your nails obsessively as you re-read scenes. (It puts the lotion on its skin or else it gets the hose again...)

4. Your hair is in a stringy ponytail or messy bun, if you're a girl. If you're a dude, it's probably short and sticking up all over the place because you didn't put anything in it.

3. And your hair smells, since you probably forgot to wash it.

2. You're covered in spilled food and coffee stains, but you don't bother to change, because you're wearing pajamas anyway (see number 1).

1. You get intimate views of your cats' butts as they try to entice you away from the computer to feed or play with them. Cats' butts are not sexy. (And if you think they are, stop reading this blog immediately and go get help.)

Sadly, this is not far off from how I look any given day of the week. Name this movie!

Got anything else to add? 


* * *

Once upon a time, I was a Killer Chick...

... and thankfully, they still let me hang out over there!

Today I'm being interviewed by JB Lynn over at Killer Chicks about  – what else!  – CREEP! Find out why I love flawed characters, why I relate to my villain so much, and what my last meal would be if I was on death row. You could win an ARC!

Click HERE for the interview.

CREEP will be out in exactly two weeks. Holy $%*&!

* * *

Tag! I'm it! And another CREEP giveaway!

Breaking announcement: I'm being interviewed at Melanie K. Santiago's blog today, YA for the YAt Heart. She's giving away an ARC of CREEP! I have the coolest writer friends EVER. Click HERE to go THERE.

And!

My super cool blogger buddy D.U. Okonkwo tagged me to answer the following five questions. What's funny is I've seen this floating around the blogosphere for a bit now, and I think a couple of the questions changed?

Here we go...

1. Do you think you're hot?
Only when I've had a really, really good writing day. On a really good writing day, I'll allow myself to feel like hot sh*t for about five minutes before going back to feeling like the insecure, neurotic writer I actually am.

2. Upload a picture or wallpaper you are using.


Yes, lame, I know, but I can't stop looking at it! It's mighty pretty.

3. When was the last time you ate chicken?
Yesterday, I think. But maybe it just tasted like chicken.

4. What were you thinking while doing this?
That I could go for some chicken.

5. What songs have you listened to recently?
Pitbull's "Give Me Everything" is my current earworm and feel-good song.



6. Do you have any nicknames?
Jenny Bean, Pistachio (a play on my maiden name), and Jensen (what my mom calls me, though neither of us are sure why).


I'm not going to tag anybody (I know! I'm breaking the chain! OMG!) but I would like to know what your favorite song is at the moment! I'm always looking to update my playlists. Happy Monday, everybody!


* * *

We have a winner! And, the spotlight's on me...

Congratulations, Milo James Fowler! JB Lynn has informed me that you are the lucky winner of her book, THE FIRST VICTIM! Woo hoo!



And, in equally exciting news, I'm being interviewed for Deana Barnhart's Friday Spotlight! Go, check it out! (Psst... I'm giving away an ARC of CREEP!)

AND!

If you "like" my Facebook Author Page, you could win a book that way, too! Please, don't make me beg. ('Cuz I just might, and it's really pathetic... I'm shamefully good at it.)

* * *

Dead End Follies, Fresh Fiction, and Goodreads! Oh my!

Disclaimer: I've been feeling totally weird about posting good reviews of CREEP on this blog. I know I have to get over it because part of the job as a new author is being able to talk about your work in a positive way. But that's not as easy as it sounds. I've been blogging for two years about this journey, and I'm way more comfortable talking about the challenges, not the triumphs. I desperately want to come across as confident, but I'm worried I'll come across as boastful... or worse, arrogant. When in reality, I'm still stunned any of this even happened. (And yes, I'm still struggling with whether or not I deserve any of it. Did I just get lucky?)

Okay. Uncomfortable moment of brutal honesty over. Moving on.

* * *

I didn't get a chance to post a link here to pop culture blogger Benoit Lelievre's very thorough review of CREEP before I left for Toronto. Here's a taste: 

When I was a teenager, I read thrillers a lot. For me, they bridged the gap in between Young Adult fiction and Stephen King novels, which were my target back then. By the time I was seventeen, I have read so many John Grisham books that I still since when I see them on the shelves, at the store. Thriller is a genre that has been beaten into the ground by a streak of mediocre writers and abuse of Hollywoodian clichés, so I was a little worried when I picked up Jennifer Hillier's Creep. Fortunately, she was able to work her way around the majority of clichés of the genre and write a solid psychological thriller about psychology scholars. I know it sounds a little weird when said like that, but it's a story that gets under your skin. The characters of Creep are complex, compelling and most important, they are human. Click HERE for the full review at Ben's blog, Dead End Follies.

* * *

And here's another one by Tanzey Cutter from FreshFiction.com:

Debut author Jennifer Hillier gives thriller fans a quick-paced, smartly written psychological suspense that will surprise readers with not only its content, but with its shocking ending. I never saw it coming, and it takes a lot to blow me away. I can't wait for Hillier's next thriller! Click HERE for the full review at FreshFiction.com.

* * *

Finally, I want to take a moment to thank everyone on Goodreads who has taken the time to review advanced copies of CREEP, and all the folks who've added it to their to-be-read lists. I can't express enough how much your support means to me. Whether you loved it, liked it, or it wasn't for you, you took the time to read it, and that's all any writer can ask for. THANK YOU SO MUCH.


* * *

Ain't nothing like the real thing, baby!

I'm home. I had a whirlwind ten days in Toronto with family and friends, doing all things wedding. I'm happy to say that not only did I survive my best friend's Big Day, I also had a blast! The bride was beautiful, the groom was giddy, my dress fit (hey, who needs to breathe?), my speech didn't suck, and we danced till we dropped. The whole event reaffirmed why I believe in soul mates. It was a happy, joyous day all around.

But I'm happy to be home. BECAUSE...

I woke up this morning to the best UPS delivery ever. Today was better than Christmas morning.

The doorbell rang at 9 a.m. The UPS man left a padded envelope on the doorstep. It was from Natasha, my editor's assistant in New York. What could be inside? I honestly had no idea. I was too tired this morning to wonder, so I ripped it open.


I believe my exact words were, "Holy shit, Steve! I made a book!" I can't even lie – it looks and feels about a thousand times more amazing than I imagined. The cover is embossed. EMBOSSED! You can actually feel the title, my name, and the handcuffs. WOW.


The inside jacket flap and copy. I love the red. It just pops.


The title page. Look, another pair of handcuffs!


The back jacket flap. There's my author photo! IT FREAKED ME OUT to see it there, even though that's where it's supposed to be.


The back cover contains an excerpt. What's crazy is that I still remember the day I wrote this page, sometime back in November 2008. The scene takes place in a tuxedo shop and I had to close my eyes for about twenty minutes to visualize it. And now here it is, on the back of my book.


Aw, my little CREEP family! I thought the ARC (on the left) looked pretty damned good... until today. Now, sitting next to the Real Thing, the ARC sort of looks like the "still cute but slightly less good-looking" twin sister. That stack of papers to the right are my first and second-pass page edits from last fall and winter.


Viewer discretion is advised. You might want to avert your eyes, because this is what CREEP looks like naked! I'm sorry, but I just had to undress it. I was curious to see what it looked like without the cover. It's cute without clothes!


Where's Waldo CREEP? I organize my books alphabetically by author (but not by author and title – I'm way too lazy for that). And look where it gets to sit. Smack dab between Joe Hill (an author I love, and who also happens to be the son of *cough cough* Stephen King *cough cough*) and my friend, David Hilton, whose debut novel KINGS OF COLORADO just came out this past January. Not bad company to keep!

Holy cow, guys.

I MADE A BOOK.

It really happened. I am so happy. (insert big, goofy, slightly teary grin here)

* * *

Interview with JB Lynn, author of THE FIRST VICTIM

I'm excited to welcome author JB Lynn to The Serial Killer Files! Her debut novel, The First Victim, is out TODAY from Carina Press!

About JB: 

Although fascinated by things dark and twisted, JB Lynn is also enamored of tales of love conquering all. These dual interests manifest themselves in her stories as dangerous villains, and the heroines and heroes who must defeat them.

She has a great love of her husband, dog, coffee, purple ink, spiral notebooks, running gear, hot showers and 80’s music. Given enough time, all of these things will eventually show up in her books.


The First Victim
by JB Lynn

She was like all the other victims. Naked, flawed, helpless...

Fifteen years ago, Emily Wright barely escaped from a serial killer dubbed the Baby Doll Strangler. She wants nothing to do with the small town where she was abducted, but when her father is hospitalized she reluctantly returns home to care for her teenage sister.

When her sister's friend is killed and left in front of Emily's house, Emily begins to relive the nightmare she endured long ago. Soon she realizes that her sister, too, is in danger from the killer—and the only person who can help is the man Emily left behind: Deputy Bailey O'Neil. Together, Emily and Bailey must discover the killer's identity before he claims his next victim...


* * *


Welcome, JB! The First Victim is a dark, twisted novel. Consider your cover copy: She was like all the others. Naked, flawed helpless…. Because we're friends and I can take a few liberties, I'm going to start with the question all writers hate: Why do you write what you write?

JB: I write what I read. I love thrillers, suspense, mysteries! I’m a huge fan of creepy villains. I adore trying to solve a puzzle. I love the thrill of justice being carried out.


I love "How I Got Published!" stories. How did The First Victim find a home at Carina Press?

JB: I’ll give you the short version since the long one goes on for years (literally…YEARS). I submitted my manuscript to the editor-in-chief of Carina Press, Angela James. I’d met her a number of times over the years at a writing conference and while I really liked her, I never had anything I thought would be a match for her sensibilities. When I submitted The First Victim to her, I made sure to tell her that I didn’t think it was her cup of tea and that it was similar to the work of Allison Brennan. Through a strange twist of fate/luck/what have you, Charlotte Herscher, the editor who worked on Allison’s early novels, now works for Carina Press, so she ended up being the one to read my manuscript. Even then, the book didn’t have a home. Charlotte sent me a fairly extensive revision letter. It was only after I’d made the changes she’d requested (which included some drastic cuts, lol) that she sent the manuscript through the rest of the acquisition process.


The First Victim is classified as a romantic suspense. Which do you enjoy writing more – the romance, or the suspense?

JB: If it was up to me, it would be classified as "suspense with romantic elements". I enjoy writing both parts because they each have their own unique challenges. I LOVE writing from the villain’s point of view… it’s the only part of the process that’s "easy" for me, probably because there are no "rules" when it comes to bad guys.


Which authors have influenced you the most?

JB: Early James Patterson, Stephen King, Ed McBain, Robert Parker… all the authors who got me hooked on the genre as a reader… plus those who I’m always waiting to read their next books: Allison Brennan, Chelsea Cain, Harlan Coben, Lisa Lutz… that list just goes on and on, lol.


What has been the best thing about your publishing journey so far?

JB: Hmmm it may very well have been when my editor, Charlotte, told me my book creeped her out. I got such a thrill from that, knowing that she knows creepy well, considering how many of Allison Brennan’s books she’d edited. Getting that kind of visceral reaction from someone… knowing I’d managed to do what I’d set out to do, was so freaking exciting! I’m really eager to hear from readers as I think their feedback may very well be the best part of the whole journey!


What has been the most challenging thing?

JB: Waiting. So much of the publishing business revolves around waiting… actually it’s more like: Wait. Wait. Wait. HURRY UP! Wait. Wait. Wait. FOR GOD’S SAKE GET IT DONE NOW! Wait. Wait.


As writers, we're told how important social networking is. How much time do you devote to it?

I’m really struggling with finding the right balance of social networking and writing. Some days I think I haven’t done enough online and others I’m convinced I’ve done nothing else all day, lol. I blog a few times per week at Killer Chicks and my own blog, and I’m on Twitter and Facebook.


Your best advice for aspiring authors – go!

JB: I’m not sure I’m qualified to be dispensing advice, but I’ll give it a try. Writing "rules" are guidelines... just guidelines. Figure out what works for you. Find a system that works for you… some people (like me!) just aren’t built to get up at four a.m. to write, but maybe you can squeeze in thirty minutes during your lunch break. Maybe your creativity is stunted by the computer and you need to write your first draft by hand (I do!). Learn how to finish a book. It’s much, much, MUCH harder to finish a book than to start one.

Thanks so much for having me, Jenny. I’d like to give away a copy of The First Victim to one of your followers.

To enter all they have to do is leave a comment telling me their favorite villain(s) of all time. I’ll announce the winner (who will be chosen at random from the entries) in the comments section on June 17th!

To celebrate its release, I’m running multiple contests this week, so everyone should check out my blog to find other ways to be entered to win a copy of The First Victim.


* * *


Thank you for being here, JB! Congratulations on your release! I've had my copy pre-ordered for a few weeks now and I cannot wait to dive in.

So tell me, readers... who is your favorite villain of all time? Leave your answer in the comments and be entered to win a copy of The First Victim!