You probably think I hate social media

I don't actually hate social media. I think what I have is an aversion to the obligation of it. I remember back in 2007, jumping into Facebook, and being really excited that I actually knew 30 people who also had Facebook accounts, and that there was a place where I could talk about myself in a way that didn't seem narcissistic because everybody else was doing it, too. I wasn't trying to get published back then. I had no writer friends. It was just a place to hang out online with people I already knew in real life. 

And then I got into blogging, and then Twitter, and then Instagram, and now there's this thing called Snapchat which I've also joined (but only to send pictures of myself with animal face filters to my girlfriends, because we find that shit funny). We're told – no, encouraged – no, expected – as writers to have an online presence, to make ourselves accessible to our readers. And yes, I see the importance of that. 99% of the time, hearing from readers is a joy. Every so often, though, I'll get a mean email, from someone who didn't like something I wrote, and they'll come at me with their metaphorical fists up, wanting to fight. It comes with the territory, and I totally get it, but I'm still a person, and when someone goes out of their way to make me feel bad, it's hard to not actually feel bad.

Social media is bigger and louder than it was back in 2007; more personal, but less intimate. It's the #1 place for me to get my news about the world, but there are days when it seems like all of the news is terrible, and I can feel myself buckling under the weight of it. People share a lot of information about their kids and their dogs and last night's dinner and the movie they watched that I already know I'll never see. I share that stuff, too. Occasionally I'll see a really good meme that makes me laugh or ponder, but I can't bring myself to hit the share button because your was used instead of you're, and hello, I'm a writer and can't share shit that has grammatical errors.

I'm equal parts introvert and extrovert, and it's a finely-tuned balance that requires adjustment every single day. There are days when I crave the noise and camaraderie of social media, because it makes me feel valued and included and not alone. But there are days when I need to fully retreat. Especially when I'm writing something new. I write best when the space around me is silent.

I just finished exporting all my old posts from Blogger, and got to skim over the stuff I wrote back in 2009, long before the first book was even finished. It's easy to see how much I've grown, and not just as a writer, but as a human. I used to be so focused on outcomes. On end results. On getting to where I wanted to be. Not anymore. Why? Well, because the goal post keeps moving, and the endless pursuit of "success" (whatever the fuck that is) is exhausting, and it makes me miss everything else that's happening around me. But also because – if I've learned anything in publishing so far – it's that you can't control the outcome of . . . well, most everything. 

Except the book, as you write it. That's where the magic is. That part hasn't changed, not even a little bit. I need to be reminded of this occasionally. Sometimes I get so caught up in listening to what other people are saying, I can't hear my own voice. Because that voice doesn't shout. It whispers.

What's the point of this post? I guess I just wanted to say that I'm still here, still writing, still living, still doing my thing. And also, it's really good to see you. Your kids are cute and so is your dog, and whatever it was that you had for dinner last night, can I have the recipe? 

Have you snagged your copy of WONDERLAND yet?

"A fast-paced, razor-sharp thriller that is impossible to put down. Jennifer Hillier is a stunningly-talented author and Wonderland is her best yet."
~ Mark Edwards, bestselling author of The Magpies and Follow You Home

"Wonderland is a tightly woven mystery by Hillier, reigning mistress of the freaky and creepy . . . this one leaves a mark with outstanding suspense and a shocking ending."

"This is not only Jennifer Hillier's best novels yet, it's one of the stronger novels I've read in 2015 . . . Wonderland is a labyrinth that'll both awe you by its complexity and gradually freak you out of your mind." 

"Hillier has the tremendous talent of creating the most horrific and terrifying individuals . . . I sat back in awe when it was all revealed."
~ Jenn's Bookshelves

"This story is scary, and the fears are real. Grab it and settle in for a good read."
~ Random Book Muses

"Good luck figuring out whodunnit . . . bombshell after bombshell."
~ By Hook or By Book

"A wicked ride. From the downright strange, to ultimate creepy–this book has everything."
~ Little Miss Trainwreck

"A killer ending. Wonderland by Jennifer Hillier kept me turning the pages and is a suspenseful read."
~ Author Cherie Reich 

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Bouchercon 2015 was, in one word, EPIC

I have to admit that I had mixed feelings about attending Bouchercon 2015, mainly because the thought of leaving my 11-month-old for the first time made me a tiny bit sick to my stomach. In the end, though, I went, because the only thing worse than not going to Bouchercon is having to see all the pictures your friends post on Facebook and Twitter with you NOT in them.

Plus, Bouchercon is my tribe.

So I cried saying goodbye to my baby (for the record, I was a wreck, while he was completely fine) and boarded my flight to Raleigh, North Carolina. And to be honest, once I got there, I had the time of my life. I made a ton of new friends, turned online friendships into real-life friendships, caught up with old friends, talked about all things writing and publishing, had some drinks, ate some good Southern cuisine, and learned a whole lot.

Here are the highlights:

Hugs from my dear friend, Alice Loweecey! Alice and I met years ago, and critiqued each other's work before either of us was published. Her new book, the fifth in her nun PI series (yes, an ex-nun who's a PI!) is called SECOND TO NUN, and it's out now. Go buy it, it's fabulous (and I'm not just saying that because I got to read an advance copy).

Aymar. My buddy for the week. Ed Aymar (E.A. Aymar to those of you who haven't had the pleasure of eating chicken and waffles with him) is the author of  I'LL SLEEP WHEN YOU'RE DEAD and YOU'RE AS GOOD AS DEAD. Ed is currently the managing editor of The Thrill Begins, ITW's blog for debut authors (which I'll be contributing to every other month). He's also a fantastic writer and a great friend.

And this dashing man is Mark Pryor, author of the Hugo Marston series (five books now!) as well as his newest book, the standalone HOLLOW MAN. I've known Mark a long time, and I can really say - with absolute authority and not a trace of sarcasm - that he really is the most dashing man I know. It's the British accent combined with the cowboy boots, I think.

And this is other Mark I've known for a long time. You might see his name, Mark Edwards, on my WONDERLAND promo, because as busy and successful as this guy is, he still made time to read my book! I was so happy to finally meet him. We've been online friends for years, and he's as nice in person as he is online (which is why you should follow him on Twitter).

Ah, the Marriott bar. This is where the magic (and alcohol-induced awesomeness) happened every night after the panels and dinners were done. Be there, or be talked about! This picture only shows maybe a fraction of what it actually looked like, because in reality the entire bar and lobby were always packed, and the sound was like one giant wall of noise as soon as you stepped off the elevators. I spent most of the weekend shouting, which is why my throat hurts now.

Here is a completely horrible shot of the K-9 Dreyfus and his deputy at the "What the Dog Knows: The Science and Wonder of the Working Cadaver Dog" panel. I love panels like this, where you know you're going to learn something completely new. Dreyfus finds dead bodies! He showed us how he does it! And of course he's as cute as can be.

This the Raleigh Rickshaw driver (rider? pedaler?) who took Aymar and me to Beasley's Chicken and Honey for dinner. I would have had him take our picture, but Aymar is camera shy.

Some people are true artists when it comes to photographing their food. I'm not one of them. But this plate of fried chicken and waffles was to die for! I mean, literally to die for. I think a need a detox from all the fat... but considering it was the first time I'd ever had chicken and waffles, it was worth every calorie.

Still mildly bloated from the huge dinner the night before, I took a quick shot of my panel as the room was filling up. They put us in THE BIG ROOM! Which really shouldn't have surprised me, considering the powerhouse authors I was on the panel with, plus the topic (which most people seem intrigued by).

Here's a shot of us in action, talking about "Serial Killers, Psychopaths, Sociopaths, and Human Monsters within Literature." Look at how captivated I am. I honestly would have been content to have been in the audience, listening to these guys talk.

And finally, here's a shot of me with my fellow panelists: Moderator Debbi Mack, Michael Robotham, Steve Hamilton, Reed Farrel Coleman, and me.

I have lots of photos still in my phone, but it's hard to fit them all here. Overall, it was an amazing weekend, though I'm happy to be home with my boys. Looking forward to Bouchercon in New Orleans next year!

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