My first vlog!

So please be kind!

I'm trying to step out of my comfort zone, which is scary as hell! I thought it would be good for me to try something different, but I'm a total newbie at this video stuff. And I did this at night, so the lighting's a bit serial killer-ish (strangely appropriate?), and I tried to make the volume louder but couldn't... ah well, eventually I'll figure it all out. But for now...



Any questions about CREEP, blog friends? Go for it, before I chicken out and realize how terrified I am of vlogging!

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I. AM. CANADIAN. CREEP is in the National Post!

Okay, so I wasn't going to blog this weekend, but I can't help myself. CREEP was reviewed in Canada's National Post today (yes, an actual newspaper, and a "serious one", as my cousin Mel just exclaimed) and I'm once again doing cartwheels. I was pretty damn excited about Chatelaine, but this is incredible news, too!

Screenshot:

Link: http://arts.nationalpost.com/2011/07/29/book-review-creep-by-jennifer-hiliier-the-witch-of-babylon-by-d-j-mcintosh/

I love this article because reviewer Sarah Weinman talks about a lot of the great Canadian crime fiction writers, and to even be mentioned in a conversation alongside such amazing authors is a dream come true.

That is all. Hope you're having a fabulous day. Happy long weekend to my Canadian peeps and I'll see you guys next week! Assuming I don't wipe out from doing all these cartwheels.

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Little Brown/Sphere UK is publishing CREEP!

It's dancing banana time! There's nothing emo about me today...

Photobucket

Sphere, an imprint of Little Brown UK, will be publishing CREEP in the UK, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand (as well as their other export territories) in paperback this December. I'm so excited!

Have a fabulous weekend, everyone!

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The pressure of expectation

One of my best friends is single, and the one question she hates – but gets asked all the time – is, "Are you seeing anybody?" She still hasn't come up with a witty answer, because let's face it, the question sucks. When you're in your thirties, people expect you to at least be dating somebody. And once you're dating, they'll want to know when the wedding is. And once you're married, when you're going to have kids. And once you have a kid, when you're going to have another.



Being single is like being an aspiring author. My first book just came out three weeks ago (so officially, I'm no longer "aspiring"), and although I'm still basking in the glow, the question I've been getting several times a day is, "When does your next book come out?" On the one hand, this question causes me great joy, because hey, I'm an author now! People are asking for my next book! But at the same time, it causes me great anxiety, because holy shit, I'm an author now! People are asking for my next book! 

Writing a second book is nothing like writing the first. The first was all about me. Nobody was asking for it. I didn't have an agent. I didn't have a publisher. I didn't have a deadline. The only thing I had was a story I desperately wanted to write, and so I wrote it, for myself, exactly the way I wanted to. And lo and behold, it got published! There is no prouder feeling than seeing that book on shelves, because succeed or fail, that book is the best book I could have written at the time.

With book two, there is a contract. The contract is for a book I haven't finished yet. I do have a deadline, and now there are all kinds of expectations. It needs to be like CREEP, but better. It needs to be like CREEP, but unique in its own way. It needs to be like CREEP, without being CREEP. Which is hard to do, because I'm in a different place now. I'm no longer writing for an audience of one. I'm no longer writing from a place of desperation. I'm writing from a place of expectation, and that's an entirely different kind of inspiration, because now I have readers, and they want more.

As writers, we have to get used to this, especially if we want a career. As soon as one book comes out, there will be pressure to produce another. And another. And if you're a thriller writer like me, that pressure means a book every year, lest you risk losing your audience. That's the job I signed up for. Rather happily, I might add. Expectations are not a bad thing. On the contrary, it means people are interested, and that's a good thing.

But I can't pretend there aren't days when I still wish I was single.

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CREEP is a Chatelaine "Summer's Best Reads" pick!

Click to enlarge

If you're Canadian, and female, you might have found yourself leafing through an issue of Chatelaine magazine at some point in your life. I know I have... which is why it's so crazy-amazing that CREEP was selected as one of Chatelaine's "Summer's Best Reads" picks in the July 2011 issue! I only found out a few days ago (yep, I'm totally late to the party as the August issue is already on newsstands), but I'm still freaking out. A few of my girlfriends back home have subscriptions to Chatelaine and they've offered to mail me their copies. I can't wait to see the issue!

Speaking of good summer reads, I just finished two books which are not my usual fare: Good in Bed by Jennifer Weiner and The Help by Kathryn Stockett. I totally enjoyed them both. I'm going a little bit nutso revising my next psychological thriller and would love to keep reading books outside my genre to maintain some sanity.

Got any good women's fiction titles you can recommend?

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Interview at Night Birds

I hope you're all having a fabulous weekend and not melting from the crazy heat I keep hearing about! Come visit me over at mystery author Todd Ritter's blog today, where I'm talking about CREEP, my favorite books, and how I became a writer.

Click here to go there.

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How do I feel?

For the past two weeks, since a certain book was released, the question I've been asked most frequently is, "How do you feel?"

I have an auto-reply (which I verbalize) and the honest reply (which I don't verbalize, but which I secretly think).

Here's the auto-reply:

"I feel amazing!"

Here's the honest reply:

"I feel _____ ."

I left it blank because the honest reply changes every day. No, scratch that, it changes every minute.

In the past two weeks, any one of these adjectives could have applied to me, at any given moment:

Fabulous
Nervous
Happy
Unworthy
Fulfilled
Anxious
Joyful
Crazy
Content
Terrified
Guilty
Euphoric
Lost
Triumphant
Stressed

I could list another thousand words here, but you get the idea.

Releasing a book is more than I thought it would be, and nothing like I thought it would be, and everything in between. Seeing a pile of my books in a bookstore is exhilarating. Seeing that same pile of books not deflate after a few days is disheartening. Reviews are terrifying no matter what they say. Trying to write the new book while promoting the debut novel feels almost impossible. Self-promotion sucks (and thank you for saying that, Nathan Bransford).

When I was in New York last week, I was chatting with a NYT bestselling author, a very nice man who was once a debut novelist himself some years ago. He congratulated me on my book, and asked me how I felt.

For some reason, I hesitated. Maybe because I knew I couldn't lie to him.

He finally said, "It's amazing, but it's scary as fuck, isn't it?"

"Yes," I said. "Exactly."

What are you feeling right now?

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Tuesday Tidbits

Happy Tuesday!

I don't know about you, but my brain aches from writing. I really do think the writing part of our brain is like a muscle, and when you haven't used it in awhile (and I haven't written any fiction for close to three weeks now), it gets sore the first week back. Totally struggled with my revisions yesterday.

I'm guest posting over at the Guide to Literary Agents Blog today (Chuck Sambuchino's blog), talking about what I told my family about publishing. Stop by if you get a chance! It's a tongue-in-cheek look at what my non-writing, well-meaning family thought about publishing when I first ventured down this path.

I also received a great review for CREEP from Quill & Quire! I've been really fortunate that CREEP has received such good editorial reviews so far, but this one is extra-special to me, because Quill & Quire is a Canadian magazine. I'm so, so happy my book is in Canada and that my hometown peeps can walk into a Chapters Indigo and buy it. That's a dream come true. Thank you, Simon & Schuster Canada!

Here's a portion of the review:
Despite the apparent prurience of the book’s subject matter, Hillier handles Sheila’s addiction with subtlety; the novel is more interested in the nature of addiction than in sex itself. Hillier’s unembellished prose moves Creep briskly along, resulting in a page-turning read. (Read the entire review HERE.)

All right, time to get back to my brain workout. I'm working on my third draft, chapter three today. What are you working on?

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"She'll CREEP you out!"

I forgot to announce a winner from Friday's giveaway! The winner of a signed hardcover of CREEP is...


Awesome! Nancy, please email me at jennifer (at) jenniferhillier (dot) ca with your mailing address so I can get your book out to you.

Now for bits of miscellaneous good news...

Last week I was given screen shots of my feature/review in Suspense Magazine, which means I can now share the article here. Many thanks to the wonderful folks at this ultra cool magazine for featuring CREEP (and me) in their July issue.

If you'd like to read the whole issue, you can click HERE to download it to your Kindle (like I did), or HERE to download it to your Nook. It's only $2.99. If you're a fan of suspense/mystery/thrillers, please do support this magazine. It's terrific.

Click to enlarge images:






Are you on Goodreads? Gallery Books is giving away 15 copies of CREEP. Click HERE to enter.

Lastly, I guest posted over at BookTrib.com, discussing why I write such dark fiction.

So, how are you doing? Anything exciting going on in your world? Tell me tell me tell me!

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My CREEP playlist

The marketing gurus at Simon & Schuster suggested that I add a playlist to this site. Duh. How did I not think of this myself? After all, I might be a huge fan of Radiohead, but not everybody's heard "Creep", the song that inspired my book. I talk a lot about music and how it fuels my writing, so yeah... of course there should be a playlist.

Thanks to Grooveshark, I now have a playlist in my sidebar. Totally up to you whether you hit "play", of course. ;-)  I listened to these songs over and over again during the year it took me to write CREEP. If you've read the book, tell me if you think this soundtrack fits.

If you're writing (or have written) a book, what's on YOUR playlist?

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ThrillerFest 2011 - Day 2

Warning: this post contains a ridiculous amount of pictures. But before I get to them, yesterday's winner of a signed hardcover of CREEP is:


Yay! Jenny, please email me at jennifer (at) jenniferhillier (dot) ca with your mailing address and I'll get your book to you pronto.

And now, day two of ThrillerFest...

I woke up on Saturday morning nervous as hell. I mean, my first book had only just been released 4 days before! And there I was, in NYC, at ThrillerFest with some of the greatest thriller writers in the world, and I had to give a speech at the Debut Author's Breakfast? In the Grand Hyatt ballroom? At 8 a.m.?

I don't even like being awake at 8 a.m., let alone speaking, let alone speaking in public, let alone speaking in public in front of a ballroom full of people whose opinions I totally care about.

This was my view of the left side of the room from the panel dais:


And here's the view of the right side from where I was sitting. And the room wasn't even filled up yet.


And here are a few of my fellow debuts. From closest to farthest: Hilary Davidson, Ethan Cross, Sandra Brannan, and James Barney. Do they look nervous to you? I didn't think so, either. Cool cats, these guys.


Sitting on my left was the feisty and fabulous Alma Katsu, author of The Taker, and fellow Gallery Books girl. Alma worked for the CIA for 29 years! Oh, yes. Though she be but little, she is fierce. (Neither of my pics with Alma turned out, so I'm stealing one of hers. Thanks, Alma!)


And another pic of the debut panel:


And here's a vote of encouragement from Carla Buckley, ITW's Debut Author Chair and also a nominee for ITW's Best Debut Novel for her book, The Things That Keep Us Here (I've borrowed this photo from Hilary's Facebook – thanks, Hilary!):


Each of the debut authors were introduced by Kathleen Antrim. Here I am giving my speech! Thanks again to Hilary for the photo. Do I look nervous? I was so nervous.


Clearly I survived my debut author's speech, since I'm sitting here blogging about it. We had one minute to talk about whatever we wanted. While most authors spoke about their books (a smart choice, obviously), I chose to talk about Jeffery Deaver. His endorsement (which appears on the cover of my book) meant the world to me. The sixty seconds went by faster than I thought it would! Thankfully I did not stutter, faint, or vomit. Whew.

After the debut author speeches were over (there were 21 debuts this year), Douglas Preston gave a short speech.


And then he introduced Karin Slaughter, who gave the keynote address. I loved listening to Karin speak. She was so funny and so real. She talked about how she got started, what it's like to write for an audience with expectations, what it's like to be a full-time writer.


After the panel, I was volunteering again. And as luck (or fate?) would have it, they assigned me to be a timekeeper for Jeffery Deaver's panel, What Lies Are Spies Telling? AWESOME! Yes, I got to talk to Jeffery. And this is more or less how the conversation went:

I approached him, my book in my shaking hand. "Hi, Jeffery."

Jeffery sipped from his coffee cup and said, "Hello."

Thrusting – yes, thrusting! – the book toward him, I pointed to my name. "This is me." And then I pointed to his name. "And this is you."

(Are you cringing at the stupefying lameness of my introduction? Because you should be.)

Luckily, Jeffery Deaver is a gracious, gracious man, and he smiled and said, "Oh yeah! Creep! Great book. Really suspenseful. I'm glad you got the email."

"ThankyousomuchI'mahugefanofyourworkandyourquotemeanttheworldtome." Yes. All one word.

"No problem, it was great read. What are you working on now?"

"The sequel," I said, trying to smile without scaring him.

"That's good. Readers love series characters. Good for you."

And then I went back to my seat. And died.

Later that day, all the debut authors plus the authors from the other morning panels signed at the bookstore. Here's Alma signing my copy of her book:


And me signing my book for Alma:


And signing some more:


And Hilary signed her book for me. Look who she got to sit next to!


I snagged a picture with super nice author Alan Jacobson, who told me that after 19 years and so many bestsellers, he still reads all his reviews... and yes, the bad ones still sting. Grrrrreat.


And finally, pictures with Jeffery Deaver.




And one with my book next to Jeffery's new 007 James Bond book, Carte Blanche (which, according to my Gallery editor-in-chief, is "selling like f***ing hotcakes!"):


I know this was a long post, but can I just say this one last thing?

Everything I've worked for and everything I've been through was worth it for this trip to New York.

I still have stars in my eyes.

Comment on this post and be entered to win a copy of CREEP!

* * *

ThrillerFest 2011 - Day 1

Before I get to the details of the conference, I need to say a big THANK YOU to Alexia Chamberlynn, who took the cutest photos of CREEP on the beach! Go look! So cute! And I won her contest. Sigh. It doesn't get much better than that.

And yesterday's random winner of a signed hardcover of Creep is... drumroll, please...


(So weird. Yesterday Random.org came up with #1, and today it came up with #2. Will tomorrow be #3?)

Ricky, please email me at jennifer (at) jenniferhillier (dot) ca and I'll send your book out ASAP!

So it's no secret that I love ThrillerFest. Know why? Because these are my peeps. Nobody thinks it's weird that I write what I write. They just know... because they write the same stuff I do.

Friday, the first day of ThrillerFest, was a bit of a blur. I volunteered to help ITW out with a bunch of different things over the course of the day, which kept me busy, and in between I slipped into a few of the panels.

I got to watch my former-Twitter-buddy-now-Real-Life-buddy Dan Friedman speak on his panel called  How Do You Thicken the Plot: Subplots and How to Make Them Shine. It's always so interesting to hear published authors talk about their process – that never gets old for me.

Afterward, I saw a bit of the Scalpel Please: How Do You Find the Heart of Your Story? panel. The panel master was D.P. Lyle, MD (who has a seriously fascinating blog, if you haven't visited it yet), and this one was really fun. There was a lot of discussion about forensics and cool ways to kill people. (Like I said, these are my peeps.)

I volunteered at the "bookstore" (which is a room at the Grand Hyatt on the Conference floor reserved for selling books and hosting author signings), and got to help out with the Robert Crais lineup. I was the girl writing people's names on a sticky note so that Robert wouldn't have to worry about spelling. This was a pretty cool gig, because I got to have conversations with everybody who lined up (and it was a very long line).

And while I was volunteering, Dan was being interviewed on camera, so I snapped a pic:


They had two big bonus sessions at noon. One was called Revolutionary Products in Publishing: A Demonstration of Virtual Signing Products, hosted by Margaret Atwood and Tom Waters. Since I already learned quite a bit about how ebooks are signed at dinner the previous night direct from Margaret Atwood herself (insert SQUEE here!), I thought I'd pop into the other bonus session, Ask the CIA: Insights from the Undercover Life. It did not disappoint.

Volunteering at the bookstore later that day, I got to meet Joseph Finder. He's written one of my favorite thrillers of all time (and no, I'm not exaggerating – Paranoia is a great book!). He just released Buried Secrets, and he signed my copy (and psst... that's Lisa Gardner sitting right beside him). What a nice guy!

Thanks to Dan for snapping this pic for me with my iPhone.
I don't remember doing anything particularly interesting on Friday night, because I was too nervous about my panel speech, which was scheduled for 8 a.m. in the Grand Hyatt ballroom the following morning. Did it go well or did I faint? Stay tuned...

In the meantime, comment on this post to be entered to win a hardcover of Creep!

* * *

New York City!

I'm back! And I need a vacation from this trip, because So Much Happened!

But before I get to all the awesomeness, I have a winner from last week's giveaway to announce. Thanks to random.org, the winner is:


Yay! So.Cal.Gal, please email me at jennifer (at) jenniferhillier (dot) ca and I will mail out your signed copy of CREEP.

But for the rest of you who commented with the right answer (CREEP!), don't worry if you haven't won anything yet. There will be plenty more chances this summer. In fact, if you comment on this post, you'll be automatically entered to win. 

My trip to NY started with a visit to Simon & Schuster...



... where I got to meet my editor, Kathy Sagan, for the very first time. It's crazy to think how much impact one person can have on your career and yet you might never have met. Till now.


There aren't enough words to describe Kathy's passion and enthusiasm for my book. And look! Doesn't her office look just how you'd imagine an editor's office to be? Books everywhere! I left with no less than 12 free books from fellow S&S authors such as Mary Higgins Clark and Lisa Genova.

My assigned publicist, Stephanie, was on holidays last week, but I was well taken care of by Ayelet, another publicist with Gallery. She's beyond adorable. Seriously.


Ayelet and Kathy took me down to Studio 4 to make my author video.



And here I am getting miked up...


I was so nervous! I've never spoken on camera before, and to answer questions about my book in front of two cameras and five people was a little scary! So you have to promise that if you ever see this video, you will not make fun of me (at least not to my face).

And guess who I met after the taping? Fellow blogger buddy Ghenet, from All about them words! She popped in to say hello. She's adorable, too. I'm thinking that's a requirement for working at S&S. ;-)


Next thing I knew, it was lunchtime. Kathy, Jennifer Bergstrom (editor-in-chief of the Gallery books imprint) and the Gallery sales team took me out to a gorgeous seafood restaurant called Oceana.


Can I just say that for one day, I felt like a rock star? The folks in this picture are some of the friendliest, funniest, kindest people I've ever met. I laughed the whole time. I got to hear lots of interesting stories about fellow Gallery authors (many of whom are actual celebrities, so I won't name them). But clearly, publishing is never boring.

After lunch, it was back to the hotel to officially register for ThrillerFest.


Then later that night, I got to meet my agent for the first time! She's sold two books for me in the past year and a half. It's about time I got to hug her.


Victoria Skurnick is the reason all of this happened. I get all warm and fuzzy when I talk about her, but she's used to it by now. We went to dinner at a Greek restaurant called Ammos, along with two of her other clients, Dan Friedman and Bobby Rotenberg, and the head of Levine Greenberg, Jim Levine.

Bobby brought along a very special dinner date...


The Very Special Guest's face is kind of hidden, but you can see who she is in the next shot...


Yes. Margaret Atwood. I studied her in school. High school AND university! It doesn't get better than that! She and Bobby know each other because she was his camp counselor when he was 8 years old. How awesome is that?

After dinner, Dan (@danfriedman81 for those of you on Twitter) and I headed off to meet another fabulous writer for drinks. Here we are waiting for her at the bar, which is kind of a secret bar inside of another bar:


Yes, we're hot and sweaty. Because New York City in July is hot and sweaty! I am so not used to the crazy humidity!

Wonder who we're meeting? Here's her book, sitting beside the world's most ridiculously strong drink (well, for me, anyway, since I hardly drink):


It's Lisa Brackmann, author of Rock Paper Tiger!


All in all, a fabulous day in New York! In my next post, I'll give details about ThrillerFest, where I met so many more amazing people.

Remember, comment on this post for a chance to win a signed hardcover of CREEP!

AND! You can go HERE to my finance blogger buddy GYC's blog to win one of SIX copies of CREEP if you correctly answer his contest questions!

* * *

Official release day! Albums that inspire me! And a giveaway!

THE. BOOK. IS. OUT! I'm doing the Carlton dance today! Come on, do it with me! Happy birthday, book!



A while ago, I wrote a post called the The soundtrack of my life (1980-1989). Music has always inspired me (if my book's title is any indication). One day I'll do a 90s soundtrack post, but today, let's talk about ALBUMS.

I still buy albums, but admittedly, not as much as I used to. Thanks to iTunes, I can buy songs individually and create my own playlists.

But remember how back in the day we didn't have that option? You bought the album, whether you wanted all the songs or not. Actually, you bought lots of albums... and then made yourself a mix tape (which is really the old school term for playlists, right? Ha!).

Here are ten of my most favorite albums ever:

10. Like A Virgin by Madonna

First album I ever bought. I was afraid to show my parents for fear they'd be horrified by Madonna's cleavage on the cover, so I hid the tape in my underwear drawer.

Favorite song on this album: Dress You Up. I did a gymnastics routine to it in fifth grade. Yes I did.


9. All She Wrote by Chaka Demus & The Pliers

Ah, reggae. Reminds me of college days, summer nights, and going clubbing.

Favorite songs: Murder She Wrote and Tease Me.


8. Back to Black by Amy Winehouse

I packed up my entire life for a move from Toronto to Seattle while listening to this album. I said the f-word a lot (moving to another country is stressful, yo!). Which was okay, because Amy says it a lot, too.

Favorite songs: Rehab and Me and Mr. Jones.


7. Thriller by Michael Jackson

I was 9 years old and at a birthday party when I saw the video for Thriller for the first time, and I thought it was scary as hell.

Favorite songs: Billie Jean (infectious) and Thriller (of course).

6. Disc One: All Their Greatest Hits 1991-2001 by Barenaked Ladies

I know, I'm cheating, because this is a greatest hits album. But they were the first band I ever saw live, and I'll never forget the energy at the Sky Dome when they played.

Favorite songs: Call and Answer, because it's so moving, and Be My Yoko Ono, because it makes me laugh.


5. Faith by George Michael

1988, baby! Every song on this album reminds me of school dances, cafeteria food, MuchMusic (Canada's version of MTV), and guys who play football.

Favorite song: One More Try, because it was soooo angsty.


4. Best of Blondie by Blondie

I'm cheating again, but I didn't get into Blondie until high school. Bell bottoms had just made a comeback in '91, as had platform shoes, and yep, you bet teenage me totally rocked them both.

Favorite songs: Heart of Glass (pure disco heaven) and The Tide is High (because it reminds me of my mom).


3. Songs About Jane by Maroon 5

Probably the sexiest album I've ever listened to. It doesn't even pretend not to be sexy. It's unashamedly and unabashedly sexy.

Favorite song: She Will Be Loved. Because it's sad and beautiful... and sexy.


2. Purple Rain by Prince

Do I need to explain this one? I didn't think so.

Favorite song: Purple Rain. Do I need to explain why? I didn't think so.


1. The Best of Radiohead by Radiohead

Another cheat! But I can't apologize, because this greatest hits album is SO GOOD. I bought it when it came out in 2008 and listened to it incessantly. And guess which book I started writing that year?

Favorite song: I'm not going to tell you, because you already know it! NAME MY FAVORITE RADIOHEAD SONG in the comments and be entered to win a HARDCOVER of my book!

Also, tell me what albums inspired YOU!


I'm off to New York for ThrillerFest! I'll be back Tuesday, July 12th, with a winner AND details about the conference. Have a great week!


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