How To Summer by Julie

TODAY’S BREW: still hot coffee despite the heat that even my lizards hate.

By Julie 

The school year is overrrrrr! I do a lot with the school, so this is like quitting a part time job, not to mention that I’m probably over-involved to the point of smothering with my boys so that’s taxing. For me. AHAHAHAHAHA no seriously though.

But this year ended with Bennett getting a presidential award for his academic achievements in elementary school, one of only a handful of kids, and it’s a big deal. I’m sodden with happy mom tears. And Sammy got a Best Effort award at the last ceremony, his first award in two years, and that’s a huge deal too–because the amount of effort he puts in on a daily basis is staggering, and harder to see. I could go on all day about a child with mood disorders and OCD and their struggles, but that is not what I’m here for today.

What I’m here for today is to say SCHOOL IS OUT FOR THE SUMMER.

This for me means…

person holding clear glass ball with flame

…if you look closely enough you can see me screaming in the blaze deep in the little hamster ball.

Nooo, not just heat beyond my wildest imagination, but TIME.

Generally I’m so CAMP MOM-like that writing falls to the side. Coincidentally, during the school year when I’m very involved there, writing falls to the side. Because I am a mom first. A very dedicated mom. But this summer is different. Sam is 8–old enough and stable enough to leave with his 11 year old brother for an hour or two even. They occupy themselves a lot. They understand completely that I have something to do and SUPPORT me in that. They’re proud of my writing, of what I do. So it’s going to be a productive and yet also relaxed summer! ALL MY YEARS OF HARD WORK TO CREATE WORK/LIFE BALANCE MIGHT PAY OFF!

To be able to chill out with the kids after writing, to be able to write after a day out somewhere (we’re huge advocates of a day trip), to be able to say “grab something for a snack, you won’t die, and I’ll make dinner in a half hour” is incredibly freeing.

I most certainly pat myself on the back for these, and the extraordinary amount of other measures I’ve taken, to give my kids and myself some supported freedom.

I’ve also learned that the if only approach is complete bullshit. If only I had help for one more day a week, if only the kids could go outside on their own right now, if only I wasn’t the one in charge of all the household duties, etc… Tough, life doesn’t stop for that stuff, and life isn’t ideal all the time, but I LIKE IT. I’m happy as hell, to be honest. Wishing for more time, more help, more energy, it doesn’t work. Ironically, it saps time and energy until I can’t even ask for said help.

JUST DO IT AND DEAL WITH THE CONSEQUENCES LATER.

It’s like the whole “ask forgiveness, not permission” thing. Except it’s for and from myself. And it’s also ass backwards. I can and will do all the stuff I have to do, I’ll put my head down and actually enjoy it despite its challenges, and I’m okay with not getting to write for a day because there was too much laundry, I wanted to hang out with the kids, I wanted to do something else, anything else!

Accepting all the circumstances of my life and living it is pretty nice.

Striving for better is great. Wishing for better sucks.

Enjoying what I have is awesome. Optimism rules. I’m lucky to be the person that’s always known this.

What I will work on though, is setting boundaries for myself–not goals exactly–boundaries. Saying no sometimes. No to writing, no to cooking (gladly), no to a day trip, no to saying I’m too tired and don’t feel like it. It’s a balance of knowing when I’m slacking and when I’m living and when I’m doing too much.

Will this go super smoothly? Probably not. Will I get a book out in July and another in September? This is the plan.

It is not a plan of WRITE 1000 WORDS A DAY OR SEVER A LIMB, it’s a plan where I take into account that I’m a PERSON, that I don’t fit into a rule-box, even if I’m the one making it, and a plan to put books out my way. They may not make me rich, but they’re exactly as I want them, though not always as fast as I want them. And I’ll do it while loving and living life, though I may not fit into the indie schedule and production life that would make me “successful.” Success is many-layered. I’m okay making the bulk of my income from editing rather than writing. It may not always be that way, but so far? It works. And they’re both part of my same dream WHERE I FALL INTO A BOOK AND IT EATS ME ALIVE.

So folks, give a little. Live a little. Shut up and work a little. Thank yourself sometimes, and kick yourself in the ass sometimes, but not too much of the latter. Be present. Stop. Say no. Do what you want. Be who you are.

And hide in the air conditioning and cry until the heat goes away.

Julie vs. Apartment and Sparking Creativity (and a ghost story)

TODAY’S BREW: smooth as silk Guatemalan good stuff. You can’t have mine but get your own. Ground Roots Coffee Roasting Co.

By Julie 

HI EVERYBODY. You’re like, who the hell is this person, she wrote a book a dozen years ago and now she thinks I have time for her. I’VE BEEN BUSY WITH SO MANY THINGS I COULD DIE, FOLKS. Renovated my kitchen by myself. I’m super goddamn proud of that. Did it from the moving of all the furniture, building the new stuff, retracking drawers, stripping and painting all the walls and cabinets (including having to climb a shelf, step INTO the freezer, and sit on top of the fridge to paint up there), re-hardwaring and hanging all the cabinets, re-doing the entire backsplash…. and I did it in a month. ME. I didn’t do the floor, that was some other guy. My before pics include such things as an actual wall-mounted cream colored Dixie cup holder, wood paneling, and the most unsanitary floor to ever grace an apartment.

This one has my Small Mexican Dog, Penny in it. She has since passed away. I am not ready to discuss.

The work in progress was a thing of nightmares. But my finishing up result was just what I like.

Now that it’s been lived in a while, it’s even better. lived in kitchen

I want to be home all the time.

Until I remember that I’m still working on the bathroom. I’ve provided short videos for your viewing pleasure.

Julie vs. Bathroom 1

Julie vs. Bathroom 2

It’s looking more lived in too! Maybe a little extra lived in today. This is real time, so no judgment. And when school gets out I’m installing a sink and a new floor by my onesies!

What this all tells me–and this isn’t even all the reno I’ve done–is that I needed a creative outlet besides writing. I needed more, and I let myself fall into it completely. It felt great to do this stuff, to pay attention to every little detail and put in stuff that I loved. All of it matters to me, from the spray bottles to the spraypainted insides of $1 store glass bottles. Our apartment is truly ours.

YOU DID THIS ALL IN A RENTAL, JULIE?

I did, and I don’t feel bad about it. This is my home. It’s okay! The joy of the sweating and building and trips to Lowe’s until I had an actual Lowe’s Guy of my own, the stripping of the old to make it mine, it felt so grass roots and really brought out all the resourcefulness I’ve got penned up. I may or may not have obsessed a little. I’ve now moved on to rooms that probably didn’t need reno.

The best part is now that I feel even more at home in my home, my writing bug is back, and so I wrote a weekender short story for you guys! A little ghost story that I thought you might like. You deserve it after being ignored for so long. Have fun, it should take you like, 5 minutes (click title): YOU DON’T GIVE ME FLOWERS

And remember to do something creative today. Make a thing. Do a thing.

 

The Lazy Lie

TODAY’S BREW: Chocolate something or other by New England Coffee

By Julie 

Truthfully I’ll be drinking as much coffee as humanly possible today without floating away, seeing as I jumped up from an unintended nap exclaiming, “The kids went to school but I didn’t! What did I do?!”

Aaaaand so begins my battle/race to wake up once a week or so, where I wonder all day did I drink enough water? did I drink not enough coffee? what have I eaten? is this hormones? until I eventually just go to bed and start over.

ANYYYYHOOO, what I’m writing this post about today is the joke, “hahahaha I was just being lazy.”

Fuck this joke.

This post means a lot to me because it’s a realization that I’ve never ever ever had before in any sense. I dive into everything with 110% of my being. I can’t do anything halfway and I never know when to quit. It’s not always an endearing feature. I will beat a dead horse until I am dead and horses all wish they were dead too. The entire equine community will fear my name. And I’ll cry in my grave for not having stripped and eaten the horse because it left some shred of opportunity that I didn’t take advantage of.

So when I dove into indie publishing, it was hard and fast. I tried to do everything right off the bat even when I didn’t entirely understand the market, didn’t understand what success would look like… There is SO MUCH involved, it’s wild. So many intricacies, so much knowledge that only experience can bring, organizing of typographer/cover artist/proofreader/formatter team, constant speed requirements that frankly, I couldn’t fulfill.

Even now, it pains me to say that I couldn’t do it.

Will I be able to do it? Sure. But I couldn’t then.

I was not capable of putting out 5 books last year like I planned, while writing short stories monthly to post on Instafreebie (LOVE Instafreebie), edit for clients, promote my books, search out venues to promote the books, blog, emails… Just learning how to physically do all that, building all that stuff is a challenge for me. I am not good at tech things. I may love robots, but I am not one. I can barely live without Cortana and I’m proud that I know what Cortana is. Then throw in all my life stuff.

Everyone has life stuff. I have more life stuff than anyone. THERE, I SAID IT. I WILL NOT DOWNPLAY HOW MUCH I DO. Here’s a brief, and I mean  basic list of stuff I’ve done in the past couple of months.

  • had a hysterectomy. recovered FAST.
  • ran a weekly writing workshop at the elementary school starting 4 days later.
  • launched THE WIND BETWEEN WORLDS 2 weeks later
  • OWNED Halloween, complete with costume, trick or treating twice in one day, ending with a party. Two weeks after surgery.
  • edited 5 books for clients
  • OWNED Christmas like nobody ever has.
  • immediately planned the world’s largest birthday celebration for Bennett.
  • worked at the holiday shop at school
  • mommed a child with multiple disorders, who has excelled in school and grown exponentially in an emotional sense while struggling with BPD.
  • mommed a child who gets multiple awards at all times and had a piece in the Plymouth Center for the Arts show last month and is generally amazing.
  • attempted wifery. It is as much as an achievement as it is a crime the way I do it.
  • renovated my entire kitchen. MYSELF.
  • planned, staffed, worked 40+ hours of a week-long book fair that produced thousands for underprivileged kids. So, there’s that.
  • lost my 16yo puppy
  • continued to do all the shopping, quality time, cleaning, Ambassador of Fun in my House projects and outings, constant presence at school, reptile caring, family stuff, multiple therapy and doctor’s appointments for Sam and I, and then just basic life stuff.

This is the past few months.

Is it a big surprise that I didn’t have the passion to write? That even though I felt physically better than ever after my surgery that I just didn’t feel like writing? That it didn’t have the feeling of fulfillment it once did? And of course, the longer I went without doing it, the harder it became to do.

And you know, after surgery it felt AMAZING to physically be up to doing the things my brain and heart always used to be able to handle. And I enjoyed just being me without hurting and being tired. It’s wonderful to enjoy my life, my family, my home. And my kitchen, which I renovated in A MONTH, by myself (oh yeah, that gets its own post), is such a hub for the family now that I am enjoying just doing dishes, and sweeping, and doing kitchen stuff. Goddamn, it feels good to have a clean home, a thing that suffers when doing everything in the world also.

It feels good to just live life. Without expectations of ACHIEVING EVERYTHING.

So the other day, I started coming to terms with it. I’m not failing by not writing consistently right now. It occurred to me that burnout doesn’t just happen after a marathon of doing stuff then you need a day to recupe… That is called a DAY OFF. Not the same thing. Burnout can mean doing too much forever and then just stopping.

I stopped.

And I tried to force myself to write, and it burned me to have to try so hard. It gave me so many FEELINGS that I wasn’t ready to handle. I don’t know if I’ll ever handle the feelings well, but hey, that’s what makes a good writer. I learned that the world wouldn’t end if I took not just a day to never look at my planner, but if I took MONTHS and disappeared. The amount of work to build everything back up is pretty monumental, but hey. Any months-long vacation will produce that. Doesn’t make the vacation not worth it.

Now that I started to feel better, to feel ready, I’ve been saying, “Yeah, I’ve stopped being lazy.”

I HAVE NEVER BEEN LAZY. Taking a break for as long as I need is not laziness.

Also? And I hadn’t intended on exploring this here, but hey, that’s how a story goes, my entire EVERYTHING doesn’t work the way the rest of the world works. I have absolute panic over keeping a schedule. The idea of having to work at a certain time for a certain amount of time, of fitting into that slot literally gives me continual nightmares. My stomach is clenched right now thinking of that lack of flexibility. It terrifies me. Debilitatingly so. I regularly talk with my therapist about the absolute terror I feel at the prospect of ever working a job where I have to check in and be there when the rest of my life is happening around me. Christ, I’m choking up. THIS PART OF THE POST IS NOW OVER.

But laziness is not taking a break. Laziness is saying it’s easier not to. 

I looked at my planner going back a year, and I swear, it made me dizzy. That’s not living, that’s overcompensating for a fear of being lazy. I never want to not contribute, and the thought of sitting on my ass while my husband busts his kills me. But laziness is not the same as taking a break. Resting is not the same as screwing off. Enjoying life and not just being determined to live it are not the same things. Achievement and surviving are different.

And so, I dive back in. I do it without constant goals and without setting myself up to fail and without letting what everyone else thinks define my success. That new kitchen? Success. Writing books that make me dozens of dollars instead of thousands right away but that MATTER to people? Success. Being here for my family when they need it in every way, when need it? Success.

What I haven’t needed was writing books. Not right now.

That doesn’t make me not a writer.

And it sure as hell doesn’t make me lazy.

One thing that isn’t easier to not do, is live. Be spontaneous, stop and smell the roses, say no, say yes, do all the stuff that I like, that enriches me. Which is what writing once was for me, and will be again. Does that make me a hobbyist? Maybe. For now. But I don’t have to be only one thing. And I sure as hell don’t have to be everything at once.

 

 

Getting Scary with Love Notes

TODAY’S BREW: Target Brand Hazelnut For Fancee Folks

By Julie 

It’s been hard, but even though I’m busy busy busy, I would be lying if I said I wasn’t a little afraid of writing this book, CRAWLING BACK, the last of the Shinigami vampire trilogy. So I’ve been putting it off. There’s no other excuse. I’ve been hiding from it.

The trouble with hiding from your own words is they’re in your head, and unless you have a lobotomy, the suckers gotta come out. Not to mention I get constant questions about where the hell this book is, and I owe my readers that. I owe it to myself. Time to face the reaper.

This book actually got an OUTLINE. Unprecedented. I never outline my books. I’ve tried, and then it just fizzles away, like so many coffee grounds down the sink. (Don’t tell my landlord.) But this series isn’t just close to my heart, it’s right in there, right in the veins, the first characters I ever really wrote, and they’re me in so many respects… Trying to tie up my own story in a sense is scary as a mutha. And like all hard things, sometimes you just sorta pretend they’ll happen all on their own and then you can take credit for them.

No, I’m finding out.

And now the words are flowing, I’m working through the scary parts inside where I’m supposed to, and I have clear direction so I cover all of the bits and pieces that want to flay me alive. It’s got me deep, this book. It reminds me of when I first began writing RUNNING HOME, when I was post-partum and exhausted and crazed and in love and overjoyed and terrified and feeling things I never knew I could. I was alone and never alone, those first 8 weeks after having my first baby, and raw in all the best ways. And Eliza and Nicholas and Roman and the rest of them came to life out of that surreal time, and they never went away. They didn’t go away after working all day, or when the baby and Tim went to sleep. I wrote in every spare second, all by hand, no end in sight, just getting it all out and reveling in it.

CRAWLING BACK is like that but more honed, scarier because I know what’s at stake, fighting to come out and stay inside all at once. I feel like the book is attached to me, a conjoined twin. I’m not sure which of us is the ugly one at this point.

I love this feeling. It’s morbid in every way, but I do, I love it. It’s a poetic state to be in, and along with that there FEELINGS and leftover words that don’t fit anywhere, but want to be heard. I can blog here, and it is intimate and friendly and safe…but that isn’t what I need. I can’t be safe with this story or the residue it leaves behind. Then I discovered Tiny Letters, and it felt perfect for those of you who like to be along for the ride with my craziness and want to get closer. For those of you who’ve lost yourselves in RUNNING HOME, and don’t quite want to get away from it. Tiny Letters is where I’ll be putting the more intimate thoughts and emotions that have no other place, and I really hope it feels like you’re right next to me writing this book, screaming and crying with me. It’s where I’ll be dropping the sunny bright Julie you see on Twitter or the funny Julie you get on Facebook, and the thoughtful Julie you get here. Tiny Letters will be the falling apart Julie, and the consumed Julie. Those letters will be the kind I wince before sending. The very first one I’ve composed scares me. It’s more stream of consciousness and vulnerable than anything I’ve put out publicly. It’s what I need to do.

Tiny Letters is where I see myself going for release.

If this doesn’t feel entirely self-absorbed and pretentious, which I assure you, it is, subscribe to it. I’ll make a fool of myself probably, and I want my die-hards there with me, to get this inside scoop. I want the ones who read these letters to be the people that hug me without a word when we meet.  So, before I delete this draft right here and delete Tiny Letters from my world before it ever begins, I’m pressing publish, and hoping this endears me to you more than deters you. But hell, I’ve never been for everyone.

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Sexual Misconduct and My Damn Opinions

TODAY’S BREW: As much as I can get my hands on. I’m remodeling the kitchen.

By Julie 

This post is not about me remodeling the kitchen.

This is about sexual misconduct and my damn opinions.

Everyone has opinions on the big ones: Weinstein, Woody Allen, Bill Cosby, for starters. This is my opinion on James Franco and Scarlett Johanssen, both of whom I like very much. Long story short, James Franco claims to be a proponent of #TimesUp, and yet he himself is accused of sexual misconduct by 5 women. Scarlett has spoken very clearly against Franco’s hypocritical behavior.

And it is hypocritical.

When asked about Woody Allen’s sexual abuse of his adopted daughter,  “It would be ridiculous for me to make any kind of assumption one way or the other,” Johansson said. She’s worked on 3 of Allen’s films, and said this in 2014, the same year Allen was accused by Dylan Farrow. Fellow co-star, Rebecca Hall, was offended by Johanssen’s attitude, and she gave her own wage to Time’s Up after working with Allen. She was not alone in Hollywood in condemning Johanssen’s view.

This post isn’t about accusing anyone, whether it be Franco for his clearly inappropriate behavior (and let’s be honest, I like Franco a lot, but even I get the sense he’d be looking down my shirt if I talked to him), or Scarlett for not being supportive of accusations and then being a champion for the cause.

We are all hypocrites, people. All of us.

We have all looked back and said, “something was wrong,” in one way or another. We have all slut-shamed or been slut-shamed and gone to sleep that night and continued life the next day. We’ve all had a friend or knew of a friend that had trouble at home. We’ve all loved movies like Teen Wolf, when re-watched now, shows homophobia really clearly. We’ve all said bitch, we’ve all heard jokes about strippers and prostitutes, we’ve all watched Pretty Woman. We’ve all seen women get stared at, we’ve all heard “locker room talk,” we’ve all seen sexist commercials and not written to authorities. We’ve all not taken action when we could have. We’ve all judged. WE HAVE ALL JUDGED SOMEONE, OR TURNED THE OTHER WAY.

We’ve all not listened.

It’s  not okay, it’s wrong.

More wrong? (wronger? most wrongly?) is condemning people for trying to become better. 

Was James Franco a dirtbag? Probably. How about Matt Damon and Ben Affleck, and did anyone else see the clip of Jason Momoa saying it was great that he  “got to rape beautiful women” on Game of Thrones? YEAH, YOU ALL LOVE THAT SHOW. I’VE HEARD YOU TALK ABOUT IT. AND EVERY DIPSHIT IN THAT BIG CONFERENCE ROOM LAUGHED HYSTERICALLY. I DIDN’T HEAR OF ANY APOLOGIES FROM THOSE JACKASSES. 

How many people still saw Justice League after that?

Franco is attempting to be better, if you ask me (and by reading this, you have asked me.) Momoa later apologizing for saying something so nonchalantly when you know he doesn’t feel sorry is not the same thing. Johanssen feeling unable to give an opinion in support of a victim then later having the balls to speak out against Franco (whether you infer “having the balls” as a good or bad thing, I think it’s both), what bullshit.

We’re all hypocrites.

I’ve said things I look back on and cringe at. I’ve also been the woman that feels eyes from both men and women, been catcalled, and been assaulted. I’ve said, “I should have known.” Do I consistently work harder? Do I apologize? Do I teach my children to be better than the world was, than the things I lived and learned growing up? Do I speak out and speak up? I do. Did I always? I didn’t.

If you claim to be enlightened, you had to have been part of the dark at one time.

If you don’t admit to having room to grow, you won’t.

If you aren’t willing to change, you’re blind.

So that’s all the stuff I want to say right now, okay bye, and women, LGBTQ community, victims, supporters, I am with you.

Slowing Down and Scaring Folks

TODAY’S BREW: Dunkins Peppermint Mocha made in my warm kitchen

By Julie

We’ve had a couple of (fantastic) snow days, during the bomb cyclone, or cyclone bomb, or “Cyclone Bob” as I typo’d one day. THIS IS MY ANNOUNCEMENT OF MY LATEST NOVEL IN PROGRESS, CYCLONE BOB DOES PLYMOUTH. 

No, no, what this is really about is how I’m doing what I learned I wanted to do this year. I’m writing that third vampire book I’ve long since promised everyone, (despite having yet to get the second one on shelves, but hey, this stuff costs money), and I’m doing it the way I want to.

By enjoying it.

It’s only been a couple of days, but I’ve slowed down, not striving for a specific word count daily yet, not killing myself over deadlines, but taking time to–now, hear me out–PLAN.

Despite it being the end of many stories I’ve written in the Shinigami world, I’m doing writing activities to prepare for it properly that are for first novels. (currently using Writing the Breakout Novel Workbook by Donald Maass.) Because you know what? Every novel is a launch novel. Every one is a breakthrough. And this ending of the trilogy will not be “the wind-down,”  or the gentle easing off the mountaintop. I want it to be the fall off the mountaintop that we all fear.

I won’t lose fear in this book, just because I’m used to the world, or because it’s the end. I want my readers to be afraid, not necessarily just in the classical sense, but I want them to be afraid of what the hell will they do now? How the hell does she redeem herself now? What in holy Christ is happening, this is supposed to be our happy ending! That’s the element I want. Pretty goddamn sure I’m getting it, too.

Where every other minute of my life I’ve always strived to maximize my efficiency and getting the words out. I even had myself a 1000 Word a Day Diet that I stuck to super-closely. If I wrote 1000 words a day I’d get a book in two months and I wouldn’t get annoyed or burnt out with the story daily.

Well, I want more than not burnt out. I want to thrive on writing, like I’ve always dreamed. So that’s what we’re doing.

This doesn’t mean you’ll all be waiting while I smell the flowers or push up daisies or what have you, writing a sentence here and there and patting myself on the back with accomplishment prizes or anything. Once planning is complete, or as close to not-pantsing as I’ll ever get in writing, I’m on double-time. I will immerse myself in this book like I did when I first started writing this series, in a notebook on break, or at midnight after a long day of panty peddling. I want to spend my time waiting for the next time I can add to it. That’s what you deserve as my readers. That’s what I deserve as someone who’s realized their dream.

So, take it easy, folks. Enjoy your snow days. Let the deep freeze settle into your bones until you’re near extinction, then drag yourself out for another cup of coffee in the slightly colder kitchen, and remember that life is about enjoyment, and all your hard work has to come to a series of I made it moments, where you get to smile and chill out, and know that this is what you were meant to do.

No? Just me then?

Of course, Credit Karma may not agree that I’ve reached a sweet spot yet, though they did take the time to wish me a happy new year and point out that my credit is poor. Thanks, guys! But sometimes? Um, screw it. I’m working on it, and I have a philosophy, and a lack of a five year plan, and I’m giving my family a fantastic life and a fantastic vision that doesn’t always depend on working as hard and fast as you can to make a buck. And that too, will one day reach the I made it moment. Success is a journey, not a destination, and I plan to enjoy every moment of it in 2018.

On Strength and Presence and Refusing to Wear Shame Like a Crappy Shirt

TODAY’S BREW: “Regifted Brew,” which is an actual thing I got at Big Lots.

(the biggest of lots, the greatest of lots, the lots that’s gots more than any other lots gots)

By Julie 

HI. I fall off the planet all the time, and like all bloggers and writers and people, it seems, I always apologize for it, like I have to SHOW UP TO LIFE or something. Even now I want to give a reason why I don’t blog on a regular schedule, or make excuses about why my social media presence has been spotty at best, or even why I’m not writing consistently.

But I don’t have to do that.

Nobody does.

You don’t owe someone your presence. Presence by its very nature requires that you ignore all the other things considered a constant presence. Like Twitter and Facebook and Tumblr and blogging and emailing (non-urgent), and all that garbage that does indeed serve a purpose, but makes us servants to it. 

Presence is living your life, the thing that fulfills you so that those other “presences” are not a responsibility or time owed.

There’s a term, “shadow of a leader.” Means that the culture is that of the leader. Means when that the team (in this case, my readers and followers and friends, people I affect), feel the leader’s influence even when the leader is looking the other way. A sort of “what would Julie do” overall feeling.

Now, I am an egotistical bastard, but even I know the world doesn’t usually think “what would Julie do,” but I work at being an inspiration, a motivator, through my words, my books, my actions. So yeah, it matters to me that people look to me as a guide. That’s what a leader is–someone who cares how their people live. And you guys are my people. And I am a leader.

A good leader isn’t always on A game. Because people aren’t always on A game. (or else A game would just be “the game” and LIFE ISN’T A FUCKING GAME, PEOPLE.) A good leader reflects the team just as much as the team is influenced by the leader. They learn from each other. They take care of each other. A family. A human goddamn family. 

So in this last period of falling off the planet, it wasn’t because of anything, as much as I feel like I should explain myself. There was nothing wrong–in fact, everything is great. Christmas was the best one yet for our kids. Truly magical. I feel FANTASTIC. That surgery has made me whole by taking things out. My family is happy, my home is cozy, and I’m enjoying the hell out of it. It’s not always about doing things. For someone who is always doing things, this is a little odd sometimes. Because I did stop doing things. I haven’t written, haven’t done much in the way of promotion, my book schedule is totally off…

And looking for the first time in too long at my book sales, I found that yeah, they obviously suffered, but you know what? Nobody died.

I stopped doing stuff and nobody died. The planet still turns. The birds keep chirping, the air keeps…airing. Then my buddy on Twitter did THIS.

shadow of a leader

I said at one point that I’m not failing–I’m learning what I can do. The state of the universe doesn’t rely on “launch day.” Life is a launch.

It’s fabulous to feel like all the doing of things eventually means like I don’t always have to be doing things. That the doing has led to done.

 

 

 

Oh, I’ll never be done with promo and writing and editing and writing more and the world of the indie author is stuffed to bursting with the things that can be done. But I can do it at my own pace, and eventually it will lead to the resting period where I’m enjoying the journey as much as I’m working to trespass it.

There’s a difference between being lazy and taking a break, I’ve always said. I’ve taken a much needed break. But instead of getting back to the grind until I’m falling over myself to take a break again, now I can do my business at a pace where I’m okay to work myself to the bone, let myself fall into the wonderfully taxing writing where I can’t think or breathe anything but that book, and then take a day or a week off to do all the other stuff. The world won’t end if I’m not doing all of it at once. On the contrary, the world of the Shinigami vampires has, in effect ended, because I was juggling too many balls to give the last book all of the obsessive, filthy-haired, pajama-wearing, crap-eating attention it craves. crave. A day where I just write. I haven’t had that in….I can’t remember the last time. Where there was no time limit or word count limit so I could move on to something else. I don’t want to give my world 50%. I can’t and expect it to be a world of limitless proportions.

I’m so frigging excited to CREATE Crawling Back now, and I haven’t been. I confess, I haven’t been. But this time of refusing direction has put me in the spot again where I’m begging to write a damn good book.

So for 2018, which I, like everyone on Earth, have longed for, my resolution is to be. Be present in whatever I’m doing, stop self-induced juggling. Take the long, steady road instead of building a mountain and trying to climb it at all costs, fighting to face a demon of my own creation on the other side.

My new year isn’t about changing. It’s about being, and being better at being.

And I want that for all of you, too. I want that to be the shadow I cast this year. Be the beast you can at being. Be good–not just okay–with not pushing. Be happy at succeeding, in all its stages–not just at being a success. Treat yourself like an adventurer, not a slave.

God, that’s really good, isn’t it. I write stuff, obviously.

OH, if you like that little motivational reminder, I put one like it on a coffee mug. A quote from my dark fantasy, THE WIND BETWEEN WORLDS. 

wear_a_crown_and_pearls_not_chains_and_fear_mug-r872c56d13d304e7082fef982f12db672_kfpv9_650

wear a crown and pearls, not chains and fear

Let this be your reminder in 2018 to be exactly who and what you want to be, even if–especially if–you’re that person already.

(if you’re so inclined, and do be, because reading is how you get better at every damn thing, here’s a link for THE WIND BETWEEN WORLDS: The Wind Between Worlds by Julie Hutchings https://www.amazon.com/dp/B076PXGHQT/ref=cm_sw_r_tw_dp_U_x_5qPsAbBW81N59  )

2018 is a year where we fight back. A year where being who we are matters. A year where change is made by staying constant. A year where we become who we are, and stand behind it.

Be brave.

Be constant.

Be who you are.

 

 

And you get a Favorite Things list, and YOU get a Favorite Things list…

TODAY’S BREW: Peppermint Mocha made at home so Not That Good Peppermint Mocha

By Julie 

I WANT TO MAKE A LIST OF THINGS I WISH I COULD GIVE TO EVERYONE SO HERE WE GO. Granted, I could make 100 of these lists, but these are the ones I can think of right now, so go. Because you have gifts to get, and the majority of this stuff will be totally cheap because I am cheap. Not like that. Creeps.

Click on anything in bold to connect to the site.

  1. Star Wars Galactic DiceThis game is small, so you can keep it next to you to play spontaneously for quality time when your kids look at you and say they have nothing to do. It’s totally fun, there’s math so learning, and if you’re awesome you can get the R2D2 tin. Best thing ever.
  2. Thirty-One Double Duty Caddy. I have approximately 749 different Thirty-One bags around my house because they are endlessly useful, super cute, and really sturdy. They hold all my things. Files, books, severed heads, art supplies, animal supplies, animal art supplies, school supplies, small toys with nowhere else to go, big toys with nowhere else to go, socks, makeup and stuff… They’re a good spot for throwing all your stuff at the end of the day, like keys, pocket pickins’, your phone, gloves, all that stuff.
  3. Folger’s Simply Gourmet Coffee. Folger’s is not just your elderly great-aunt’s coffee anymore! As one who is endlessly seeking the just-standard-enough coffee to be delicious but not fancy pants, for everyday use, I was totally blown away by the Folger’s gourmet line. Even the bags are pretty. It’s insane. Sorry, there is no Chock Full o’ Nuts coffee I can recommend still. That’s still your chain-smoking uncle’s coffee.
  4. Burt’s Bees Lip Crayons. Oh my god, I’m so pretty in this it’s ridiculous. These things have great color, they’re hydrating, and I can’t live without Redwood Forest. They’re the perfect lipstick/balm.
  5. Brave Soldier Anything Ever. But particularly the antiseptic healing ointment. We are constantly hurting ourselves or having surgery or something, and this stuff heals you instantly basically and takes away all your pain, except the emotional damage. Nothing helps that, not even time.
  6. St. Ives Coconut & Coffee Scrub. This shit saves my life daily. I cannot explain what it does, but there’s magic involved. A friend told me it literally takes a layer of skin off your face, but my argument is that this was a used layer of skin anyway. Do yourself a favor, man, woman or beast, use this stuff.
  7. THE LANGUAGE OF THORNS by Leigh Bardugo. If you read anything from fairy tales to cereal boxes, you’re getting this book for Christmas. If you go to a Barnes & Noble store, you can probably score yourself a signed copy. It’s the most stunning collection of short stories/original fairy tales that I’ve ever seen or read. Reading them out loud to my oldest son every night now. And it smells so good. And don’t try to touch my copy.
  8. Woot.com Nutcracker Crapvent. I adore Woot.com because of these things: A) Daily Tees. $8-11 t-shirts that are awesome. B) The Derby. They host a themed t-shirt contest a couple of times a month or so, and artists submit art for tees. You can vote for as many as you want, and hopefully they’ll get made and sold for the Daily Tee.  C) Daily Deals. On all kinds of weird crap. (see also the Nutcracker Crapvent.)
  9. The Raskog. This 3 tier rolling cart is not just a charming Swedish product–it is a way of life. I don’t know how I evened before the Raskog. I sing it songs. “Julieeee does like it/ build the Raskog/ build the Raskog.” My entire workstation is now mobile. It is covered in magnets, and bins and hanging folders, all kinds of clever little ways to dress the sucker up so that you never have to find anything again. I have two now. I want 5.
  10. Piece of Cake cupcakes. This place doesn’t get the attention it deserves because the delightful Cupcake Charlie’s is basically across the street. But while the selection and the cute-itude of Cupcake Charlie’s is fantastic, I like the actual cupcakes at Piece of Cake far more. Not to mention that it’s a little delicate sort of tea shop and just soothing and charming.
  11. Cupcake Charlie’s. So, this place. It has incredible cupcakes with frosting that might make your teeth fall out? But so what. And the shop has a Willy Wonka-ness about it that’s just so much fun, and we love hanging out there at the little outdoor tables.
  12. Konditor Meister Since this whole thing is about cake now, this is the only cake shop I would actually travel to just to get a damn cake. We’re talking the awful exit where you have to cross three lanes of traffic in .5 seconds and will most certainly sit in traffic on the way home for 45 minutes. But this place. This cake.
  13. Artsonia Kids Art Gift Shop. FINALLY, kids’ art products made cool. You can get your kid’s artwork made into jewelry that has interchangeable snaps to feature whatever artwork you want. You can become fans of specific kids’ artwork, so it gives them great encouragement and 20% of sales go to the child’s school art program. I love this place.

OKAY, I think that’s enough for now. We can resume with all the stuff I love another time, but until then order from these places and be happy.

oprah

stop talking