You, Me, and Barrel House Z

TODAY’S BREW: coconut laced with…cream. Yeah, cream.

By Julie 

HARPY HOLIDAYS, FOLKS!

(See what I did there? I won’t ever let it go #buymybook.)

This Christmas/I’ll give you my harp/ee

The very next day/You’ll read it away…

Okay, seriously though, I’ll be at the Holiday Market Place at Barrel House Z in Weymouth, MA THIS VERY SUNDAY, THE 16TH from 2 to 8. And they’ve got some awesome local vendors lined up, like Townie Frozen Desserts and The Pretentious Pickle Company (Whiskey pickles. Beer pickles. Come on). And Barrel House Z is a class act in itself.

But I WILL BE THERE with a Christmas tree covered in Harpy chocolate ornaments and a bunch of gift bundles of books and I will talk at you all day if you want. Come along and get your Christmas shopping done, but more importantly,

SHARE A BEER WITH ME, JULIE HUTCHINGS, PRETTY SCARY AUTHOR.

 

 

 

When So Much Good Happens You Feel Pukey From Smiling and Happy-Crying: The Holly Jolly Hedge Fund

TODAY’S BREW: Dunkins dregs

By Julie 

It’s occurred to me that blogging falls to the wayside A LOT, and that my blogs lately are about doing things for literacy and kids. Well, today that’s what I’m writing about, so suck it up.

A truly amazing thing has happened.

You all know how I run Scholastic Book Fairs as if it’s my life-long dream. It became about more than being a part of my boys’ education, became more than being about having book fair fun… I know these kids now. I wanted to do something for them that was more than books this time.

Then my friend-since-forever Jill said, “You should do something that Wayne would be proud of.”

Jerk. She said that, can you believe it? She said the thing that slapped me right in the gut-heart combo.

Wayne is my stepdad who passed away just a few weeks back. He was one of the most generous of heart people I’ve ever known, and he loved Hedge. This was the first year he wasn’t able to make the Veteran’s Day celebration there, where he gets to sit up in front of all the kids and be honored for his service, and he loved that. So this just worked out.

Ben and Grandpa 2017 veteran memorial

Grandpa Wayne and Ben, Veteran’s Day at Hedge Elementary

The oldest school in Plymouth, Hedge Elementary is the also the smallest school in Plymouth (and there are a lot of schools here). The charming old community of North Plymouth is tiny, and all the students are within walking distance of Hedge–we don’t even have a bus! And it’s the lowest income part of town, too. Its students have plenty of challenges, and the holidays can be one of them. We’re talking about a school where the amazing nurse set up a program where many kids go home every single weekend with a backpack full of food. A school where the PTA head and mother of 5 Hedge students over the years makes an enormous Thanksgiving feast every year and serves it so that she knows every one of those children will have a Thanksgiving dinner.

I did this thing: Holly Jolly Hedge Fund

My mission is to fill these ridiculously cute and incredibly useful little Thirty-One totes:

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with Something you want, something you need, something to snuggle and something to read.

Yep. ONE HUNDRED AND SEVENTY-FIVE OF THEM. No pressure. Nope. *dies a little on the outside and a lot on the inside,* but that fear wasn’t going to get it done.

All I could do was START.

I put together a massive THING with Thirty-One because I need the bags, right?

But then I gotta FILL those suckers. For something they want, I found these awesome little gingerbread men from Oriental Trading Company that it will take them a little time to make, and they won’t get thrown away in two days. Found their somethings to snuggle there too. For something to read, I SHOULD have enough Scholastic Dollars to get books for all the kids free. (Scholastic Dollars is credit earned as a percentage of book sales.) For the something they need, I found the least expensive gloves I could–because I still had no idea how to pay for them aside from my side commission–and they’d still be more than a lot of these kids would have for winter. But then my sister piped up and said she’d make hats.

And hats she made. I think she’s on like number 25.

Then my wonderful aunt heard about it and she mailed me 11 more.

My wildly talented writer friend from Twitter, Eva Gibson, mailed my sister some yarn. And a buddy from my hometown is bringing my sister yarn today. And people are offering up their yarn and their time to make these kids hats with love instead of some crappy stuff from Walmart. People from all over started rallying around it and I’d barely said a word.

Then the Go Fund Me suggestion happened, and I just did it. Even though asking for help even for something not for me is hard, I did it. But I wouldn’t post it to Facebook because it affected so many of my friends there. Lucky for me, the Twitter community and the friends I’ve made there are incredible people. Once the Go Fund Me caught a couple of retweets, in less than an hour it raised over $1000. I had only asked for $600 as a high estimate, because again, asking for money is like UGH. In minutes, 50 people or something had shared it, directly asking people I didn’t know to do the same. I tried to thank every single one but 150 degrees of Kevin Bacon later, I lost everyone. There were donations of everything from five bucks to five hundred. The guy who made Lore?! AARON MAHNKE? Yeah, him. And a woman I’ve never seen or spoken to gave more than I could have believed anyone would. People I know have nothing extra, and people I don’t know at all. Then someone on Twitter I know not at all shows up and she’s from Plymouth too, and SHE donated…it’s just been so wonderful to see.

There are good people out there, folks. You’ve got to be one of them to surround yourself with them.

Now I can give the kids even better stuff, and instead of looking at cheap crayons, I’m looking at Crayola 24 packs. Instead of the cheaper but still adorable stuffed animals, I’m looking at plush teddy bears.

It went from seeming impossible to OH MY CHRIST, WE HAVE TO PUSH THIS SO MUCH HARDER NOW BECAUSE LOOK AT HOW CLOSE WE ARE!

And I raised that Go Fund Me goal. Because we can make this AMAZING.

And the thing that just about everybody thought couldn’t be done, IS BEING DONE. AGAIN.

If you want to help out, here’s how:

  • SHARE THE GO FUND ME OR DONATE. Every dollar helps, every share helps, which sounds cliché, but in a half hour we went from not being able to do this to OH MY GOD IT CAN BE DONE. Holly Jolly Hedge Fund.
  • LOOK INTO DONATING A THIRTY-ONE LITTLES TOTE. Get your Christmas shopping done (or get something awesome for yourself because IT’S CHRISTMAS) and donate to the fund at the same time. Message or email me: juleshutch at outlook dot com. (and you might even win a thing).
  • MAKE A HAT OR FIFTY. We still need hats! Nothing fancy necessary!
  • GOT A BUSINESS OR A BOOK YOU WANT PUSHED A LITTLE? Help me out with this and we’ll put flyers, coupons, greeting cards from your business (I will personally fill them out from you, for them) into the bags, on the blog, all over FB and get you as many likes as I can… Hell, I’ll write you into my next book. YOU KNOW WHERE TO FIND ME.

Do something for someone who needs it. This campaign is just big enough to be more than I can do alone, but small enough that every single helping hand makes it achievable TODAY. And thank you, all of you who’ve given of yourselves so far where you can, in any way you can.

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Doing Things About Literacy With Julie

TODAY’S BREW: Pumpkin Peppermint Gingerbread. It’s mid-season, what do you want from me?

By Julie 

I had the extraordinary pleasure of participating in our Community Literacy Night hosted by my Bennett’s middle school on Thursday, and let me tell you, I loved it.

Pretty sure I was the only author with a child in that middle school present, and as you know, I take literacy as seriously as a heart attack. Hence, three Scholastic Book Fairs a year at Hedge Elementary, where last year…

In a school of less than 200 kids

In the lowest income neighborhood in Plymouth

In the school with the highest percentage of children with English as a second language

In a community that doesn’t even get a BUS

WE SENT HOME NEARLY 1,500 BOOKS FROM THOSE BOOK FAIRS ALONE. 

The Book Fair has become such an event at this little school that the kids just see me and start asking when it’s coming. And they see me a lot. Sometimes I haven’t even recovered from the last fair yet.

The last book fair looked like THIS:

 

Not pictured: endless mushrooms, fairy lights, the Adopt An Enchanted Animal Fundraiser, the Fairy Photo Booth…

Have I mentioned my book fair team is UNBELIEVABLE?

In any case, when the opportunity to be a part of a literacy event for the town and all of its many schools came up, AND was at the school where I went and Bennett just started at in September, I jumped down their throats and clung to their tracheas. Community literacy is hugely important to me (and should be to you), and I really prioritize making a mark at my children’s schools. It’s great for them, great for me, and if I’m being braggardly, great for the school.

Great readers insert themselves into understanding other viewpoints and ways of life. They seek to understand other people’s reasons and mistakes and priorities. They want to know about other people and places, real or imagined. Readers bridge gaps in differences. Readers open their hearts because they know how to listen and think beyond themselves. That’s where acceptance, tolerance, celebration of others begins. Kids who read promise us a better future. I want to help make that happen.

Community Literacy Night was so cool. A bunch of authors were there, a bunch of kids from one of the high schools ran a café, there was live music from the band ever 15 minutes, the planetarium did shows… The best part for me though was the many middle and high school kids that helped run the event. Getting to talk to these kids just made my entire dream come into perspective. You know, this thing wasn’t a “book signing,” it was about literacy. Writing, reading, inspiring growth in those things.

I GET STUPID SHY TAKING PICTURES AT EVENTS, so mine are all bad. I don’t just mean selfies… I get shy taking ANY pictures. It’s the silliest thing in the world. But trust me, that sign has my name on it and I was there.

literacy night 2

That little stack of books in the middle with the ribbons around them are 5 copies of THE WIND BETWEEN WORLDS that I put research and inspiration and personal notes throughout, hoping they’ll inspire some kid to be who they need to be. (I still have a couple! Message me if you think you’d like one!)

I made these damn cookies for days! They say “Reach higher. Don’t let the stars stand in your way.” (Because inspiring as all hell. And because stars. Like Witch of Stars. Buy my book.)

literacy night 4

Here I am, looking partly drunk and partly sweaty and partly as if I’ve eaten many of those cookies myself. But I’m talking to this lady who is worked her tail off to write a book and is afraid of publishing. And I’ll tell you what I told her: YOU ALREADY DID THE HARD PART. YOU’RE A HERO. YOU WROTE A BOOK. But are you gonna listen to a lady who looks that drunk?

literacy night 6

You can see my book fair All For Books donation box loud and clear because that Scholastic program is amazing. 100% of collections go straight to buying books for kids who can’t get their own at our book fair, and Scholastic matches our collections for another school in need on top of it. Wonderful.

This here is the organized chaos I threw together about writing, and I have to tell you, I think it’s pretty cool. A pile of hand-drawn pictures, post-its, 5 subject notebooks, crossed out garbage and highlighted trash… ART CAN BE A MESS. There is no process aside from finding your own. And you can see my pretty stack of THE WIND BETWEEN WORLDS over there. (I kept THE HARPY hidden because kids.)

literacy night3

Getting to talk to all the kids who write and have questions about writing was KILLER. They’ve got direction and they’re not afraid, and they TRY. I’m such a freak I gave a couple of them my phone number to text me questions. NOT WEIRD AT ALL. But what’s important is that I made my passion matter.

This is my catchphrase now. I say it all the time, I write it all over the place and now it’s like my “did I do that?”

MAKE YOUR PASSION MATTER. I love reading and writing and kids. THROW THEM ALL TOGETHER AND BOOM, LITERACY SANDWICH. I think I have something to say. I think what I put out into the world matters. I make sure it does, dammit. So I run creative writing classes when I can at the elementary school, and I give advice, and I run the book fairs, and this year I plan to focus more on doing in person events than anything else, because this is the stuff that makes a better world.

Anyway, I have all the answers and stuff, so hit me up if you want to know how to be awesome, I guess.

Truly though, thank you all for helping me make my passion matter. Without your support, writing books would always be an expensive hobby and not my life.

Because of the interest I had in THE WIND BETWEEN WORLDS there’s going to be a countdown sale on the Kindle version for $1.99! Starting November 6th for 3 days! I’ll post more about that next time, because these characters have a lot to say. It’s a witch book, but it’s about oppressive families. The heroes have been abused, slut-shamed, silenced, have undiagnosed disorders… There’s a lot about them that SPEAKS, and I’m proud of it. Go check it out  HERE.

61NZfQ1WokLAnd if you’d like a hard copy sent to you with my notes inside, signed by me, one of only 5 proof copies, hit me up.

Talk soon, but until then, be awesome. Be you.

 

JUST FUN STUFF with Julie

TODAY’S BREW: HARD CIDER OUT OF THE SKULL OF A THESTRAL. It’s time to go to the Pumpkin Spectacular!

By Julie 

You’re like, WHAT. This is a thestral, if you aren’t a Potter nerd. A black skeleton-bat-horse that only people who have seen death can see:

Pretty sure that’s my patronus.

And the Pumpkin Spectacular at Roger Williams Park Zoo is a tradition we have every year and it is the most Halloweeny thing a person can do. If you’re in the Northeast, I highly recommend you meet me there and we can drink pumpkin beer as we wait in line and look at the elephants in the dark and finish it off with hundreds of incredibly carved pumpkins and creepy music and there’s swan boats and a foggy pond and it’s just the best. I’ll take pictures. *gasps for breath*

In Other Fun news, I had a bitchen book signing this weekend, coincidentally on my 17th wedding anniversary, at Dirty Water Distillery, the first-ever Spooks and Spirits horror author whoop-de-doo and liquor event hosted by Inebri-Art.

(I did a podcast interview with Andy Driscoll over there, and here it is if you want MY VOICE.  Julie’s Inebri-Art podcast).

 

Here I am with badass Steve Van Samson, author of  The Bone Eater King, post-apocalyptic vampires with African mythology (I KNOW, RIGHT?), Marcia  Lynch (prettiest) and Mark Lynch of BAM! SMACK! POW! . It was as much fun as it looks.

Image may contain: Maria Lynch, Oldman Wade Sho, Julie Bennett-Hutchings and Steve V. Krikorian, people smiling, people standing

And whatever, you missed out on freshly-ripped-from-chests heart chocolates that I actually MADE, like in the cooking part of the house.

spooks tablespooks table 2

They’re blurry but hey, I write books and look good, I’m not a photographer.

ANYWAY, go check out all those little clicky links, and enjoy the final days of the Halloween season! I’m having too much fun to write anymore. Love you guys and HARPY HALLOWEEN oh my god, how much do you hate me now.

 

 

 

 

Dark Love Poems

I am nothing if not emo, and this just gets me right in the gut. It’s words like these that get my juices flowing over writing my new novel, INSCRIPTION.

irevuo

Penning the perfect love poem is one of the most difficult of artistic endeavors — yet we have a special place in our hearts for those writers who effortlessly conjure the darkness of lost and unrequited love.

View original post 433 more words

Artist Dan Kern and KITTY.

TODAY’S BREW: I MADE ANATOMICAL HEART CHOCOLATES AND THAT’S NOT COFFEE

By Julie

This is my friend Dan’s cat. Dan Kern is the artist I plan to collaborate with to make THE HARPY a graphic novel, so SURPRISE. Neither of us have ever done such a thing, but you learn by doing, right? Check out his art HERE and get 10% off!

LOOK AT THIS KITTY PIE.

Image may contain: cat

The incredible artist, Dan Kern who is a gentleman and genuinely awesome guy is giving 10% off his artwork because his poor little Belle needs help he cannot pay for alone.

GET YOURSELF SOME DAMN ARTWORK AND HELP SAVE A KITTY. 

Dan makes stuff like THIS:

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And THIS:No automatic alt text available.

 

Here’s Dan Dan’s Facebook post from today. Look at how nice he is:

This is Belle. She’s been my little furry rock for 8 years. After a few weeks of trips to the vet and today the oncologist, the tumor growing in her mouth ( Squamous Cell Carcinoma ) cannot be removed and I was told that radiation and chemotherapy are not only not really great options, but they may make things worse. So for now, its more about managing discomfort and making sure she’s a happy lady. Now, if know me, you know I don’t like asking for help. But, my friends, I need your help. As you can imagine, the bills from her visits, her surgeries, and medications are a bit steep. But instead of outright asking for money, I decided to put up a little sale on my store and if you pick up some artwork and enter the code “FORBELLE”, it’ll give you 10% off your purchase. Art is the only thing I have to offer, it’s the only thing I’m kinda good at. Its the only way for me to thank you for helping me and in turn helping her. Thanks for taking the time to read this. It means everything to me. You can find my store here:

Daniel Kern Art

The world is ugly. Buy some art. Help an artist and an animal and feel good about yourself. OKAY BYE.

#IndieAuthorDay

TODAY’S BREW: caffeine mainlined into each eyeball

By Julie 

First, thank you to everyone who’s reached out or thought of me and my family in the passing of my stepdad, Wayne Nelson. He was the most generous soul in the world and is sorely missed.

I’m not ready to talk about that yet. What I am ready to talk about is strength. Strength in the face of opposition, grief, anger. I’ve felt all these things in plethora especially over the last few weeks. Exhausting doesn’t begin to describe it–from Wayne’s stroke and the subsequent days of hospital visits and travel arrangements and all the emotion of that, to having shingles and setting me back for a week or two, to starting a side business while trying to edit for clients and get kids back to school and to regular therapy appointments while maintaining FUN, and running the enormous Scholastic Book Fair for our little school (YAY HEDGE, we earned over $2500 to spend on books and other school needs), yeah, stuff is tiring. You could say I do it to myself–I would say that I volunteer myself to do it.

tribute

One of the things I’ve done for myself is becoming an indie publisher. These last several weeks have been grueling–but through it all I was determined to have THE HARPY out by October 20th no matter what. See, I absolutely HAD to be a part of a big ol’ book signing and beer guzzling event I learned of, Spooks and Spirits right here in my hometown of Plymouth at Dirty Water Distillery. You can click on those things, guys.

OH YEAH, COME SEE ME AND GET A SIGNED COPY OF THE HARPY FOR THE FIRST TIME OUT IN THE WORLD

October 20th

Dirty Water Distillery 

10 Water Street, Plymouth MA

12-6pm

So I got my act together in the midst of all the emotional turmoil and dinosaur fights and I got the perfect team together to make the release happen. Now enjoy this tiny video:

The Perfect Team

The extra pressure of getting the book out wasn’t MORE tiring than what I was already doing–it added strength to it. It reinforced my backbone, reminded me constantly that not matter what else was going on, what I was doing for others, what was happening that was out of my control, what I was watching being taken away from me, this was all mine to handle. This was a hell beast that I created and gave name to and released at my own whim. I had utter control here in every way. And while I was getting a little lost amongst doing All the Things, THE HARPY was always right there staring at me, counting down its minutes to birth, and saying, “You did this. You’re doing this. Even now.”

Indie authors are heroes. All writers are. But the world of indie publishing puts everything in my grasp, while also, PUTS EVERYTHING IN MY HANDS. It’s wild responsibility, incredible pressure, powerfully humbling (even as we brag about it), and leaves us both vulnerable and stronger. Above all, the indie author is the one who says, “This goddamn creation is getting out into the world no matter what.”

As a developmental editor as well, I get to work with so many indie authors that lay out their heart and soul to me and say without reservation, “Tell me what’s wrong. Don’t be shy.” That’s a strength that I admire to the pit of my gut. (By the way, folks, editing is not to tell you what’s wrong. A good editor should highlight what’s knock-you-on-your-ass amazing and show you how to leverage it to strengthen your weaknesses.)

*winks at camera* Contact me for Undeaditing, writerlies.

So to all the indie authors out there who inspire me, congratulations, and above all, thank you. Thank you for fighting through the self-doubt and Impostor Syndrome. Thank you for taking chances. Thank you for producing art for you. Thank you for producing art for the rest of us. Thank you for standing behind what you create and showing the world what’s really important. Thank you for showing our kids that there is more than one way to be a success. Thank you for showing them what a labor of love looks like. Thank you for shaping a new world where books can keep up with our brains and our chaotic lives. You matter to me. You’ve got a life outside of your books, and to have the self-discipline that you do to not get lost in that life and ignore the hard stuff that you so easily could is what real power looks like.

Fight on, indie authors. Be the strength you want to see in the world.

If you’re so inclined, I’d love you to preorder THE HARPY for only 99 cents.

Cover Reveal: The Harpy

TODAY’S BREW: Iced coffee with cinnamon and a pumpkin donut

By Jolene

Huge thank you to everyone who signed up to join Julie’s email list to be the first to see the cover for The Harpy. Many of you have been feasting your eyes on it since this morning. The feedback has been amazing and I agree with those of you who have said it’s your favorite cover yet. It’s my favorite cover too!

For those of you not on Julie’s mailing list, I’m here to share the cover with you too!

Are you ready?

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Here you go!

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The Harpy

Charity Blake survived a nightmare. Now she is one.

Punk-rock runaway Charity Blake becomes a Harpy at night—a treacherous mythical monster who preys upon men just like the ones who abused her. Struggling through an endless stream of crappy coffee shop jobs, revolted stares, and self-isolation during the day, Charity longs to turn into the beast at night. Doing the right thing in all the wrong ways suits her.

But a Harpy’s life belongs in Hell—the gruesome Wood of Suicides, where the Harpy queen offers Charity just what she’s looking for: a home where she can reign supreme and leave behind the agony of her past. The choice to stay in Hell would be easy, were it not for a rock-and-roll neighbor who loves her for the woman she is—even when he discovers the creature she becomes—and unexpected new friends with their own deranged pasts and desires who see Charity as their savior. But salvation isn’t in the cards for Charity. Not when her friends see through her vicious attitude and fall in love with her power as the Harpy.

Struggling between the life of an injured outcast and the grizzly champion of a blood-red hellscape, Charity must thwart her friends’ craving for her power enough to fear her corruption—and determine once and for all where her salvation lies: in eternal revenge or mortal love.

Add The Harpy on Goodreads

Pre-order The Harpy on Amazon

 

Isn’t it gorgeous?! I’m so excited for this book to come out. And I’m especially proud of my friend Julie who has stuck by this book for years, through trials, troubles, and setbacks. But it’s all worth it because it’s here. It’s amazing. And it’s about to knock your socks off.

Release date is October 16, 2018!

Pre-order your copy now for a special pre-order price of 99 cents.

 

What do you think of the cover? Let us know in the comments below!

YOU can see The Harpy cover first!

TODAY’S BREW: Kind of gross tea. What?! I’m sick.

By Jolene

Hello friends and enemies (and frenemies). Some exciting stuff has been happening around here. You see, there’s this book called The Harpy that my insanely talented friend Julie has written. It also happens to be coming out THIS MONTH.

You have the chance to see her GORGEOUS cover first. All mailing list subscribers will get the first look at this gorgeous cover. So make sure your cute butt is on the mailing list!

I hope you love The Harpy. I know that I do.

CLICK HERE TO SIGN ME UP TO SEE THE HARPY COVER FIRST BECAUSE I’M SPECIAL.

Charity Blake survived a nightmare. Now she is one.

Punk-rock runaway Charity Blake becomes a Harpy at night—a treacherous mythical monster who preys upon men just like the ones who abused her. Struggling through an endless stream of crappy coffee shop jobs, revolted stares, and self-isolation during the day, Charity longs to turn into the beast at night. Doing the right thing in all the wrong ways suits her.

But a Harpy’s life belongs in Hell—the gruesome Wood of Suicides, where the Harpy queen offers Charity just what she’s looking for: a home where she can reign supreme and leave behind the agony of her past. The choice to stay in Hell would be easy, were it not for a rock-and-roll neighbor who loves her for the woman she is—even when he discovers the creature she becomes—and unexpected new friends with their own deranged pasts and desires who see Charity as their savior. But salvation isn’t in the cards for Charity. Not when her friends see through her vicious attitude and fall in love with her power as the Harpy.

Struggling between the life of an injured outcast and the grizzly champion of a blood-red hellscape, Charity must thwart her friends’ craving for her power enough to fear her corruption—and determine once and for all where her salvation lies: in eternal revenge or mortal love.

Add The Harpy on Goodreads

My Stepdad

TODAY’S BREW: This apple crisp stuff, the bag was pretty.

By Julie 

Hello dumplings.

I hope you’ve seen THE HARPY blurb that my darling buddy Jolene posted here! It’s on the Goodest of Reads as well, and will soon be up for PREORDERRRRRR

See the source image

This book is right back to my horror roots, and I’m happy to be there.

My life has been filled with plenty of horror lately, unfortunately. My stepfather passed away this week after a stroke two weeks ago. I’m not ready to talk about it. I’ll filter that energy into the book I’m working on in October.

I’ve done plenty of good, too, however. Ginormous book fair went amazingly well. I love to run the Scholastic Book Fair for our tiny school–the kids were absolutely awed by this one. I was awed by the help I received from other moms at school and their wonderful kids. During Open House we had no less than 12 people working the book fair alone, and it was PACKED. $1300 in only two hours. Our school doesn’t even have 200 students! With the earnings we made this week we filled every teacher’s wish list and we’re re-furnishing the library.

The book fair is good for the soul and I sure needed that last week. I toil hours away there, all day for five days and a couple of nights and it fills me with such happiness that I can barely express it. The greatest thing for grief is doing good, I’ve found out. Something immediate to turn to that is undeniably life-altering for someone changes my perspective, gets me out of my head and out of the hospital and off the phone and all the things that go with the tragedy of a stroke. And wow. Strokes are indeed the most horrendous thing I’ve ever seen.

In any case, you always get me at my most flayed, and I got up the little energy I could to touch base with you all, let you know that even now, my readers are wildly important to me. You help me through the trials of life.

My stepdad wanted THE HARPY out in the world more than anyone. He’s the only family member to have read it. One of a handful to read it at all. Let this be a lesson to you: don’t dawdle on putting your dream into action. Make sure the ones who want to see your creations get to. Do it for them and do it for yourself.

Reading was a connection I had with my father, who passed away when I was 16. He instilled a great love of books for me. And my stepfather loved to read, was my biggest fan. I loved talking books with him, and he loved to support me. I’ll never forget it. I’ll never forget him. He was the most genuine, kind, thoughtful, generous person you could meet and laughed with me until the very end.

Thank you, Wayne, for being the only man who could step into my dad’s shoes. He would say nobody should step into his shoes because he only had toes on one foot.

Be who you need to be in this life, folks. Nothing else matters.