EIGHT BOOK GIVEAWAY

TODAY’S BREW: This new Pink Velvet Mocha at Dunkins that I would slay someone for

By Julie 

HI GUYS! I bring you the opportunity to win EIGHT DAMN BOOKS right now. An Inked Entertainment…uh…entertainment package brought to you by my fellow book babe, Carrie Harris in celebration of her selling 8 goddamn books in one month. Yeah you heard me. Check out this one about a teen superhero with the lamest power ever:

BUY ON THE WALL NOW WITH THIS VERY LINK

 VISIT CARRIE’S 8 BOOK GIVEAWAY RIGHT NOW  TO WIN BOOKS FROM LIL OLE ME, CARRIE HARRIS, LEAH CLIFFORD, JACK MCSPORRAN, ELIZA GORDON, THE LIST KEEPS GOING.

 

 

 

Time’s A-changin’! Sucky Seasonal Affective Disorder and My Kid

TODAY’S BREW: Cinnamon Hazelnut by New England Coffee which actually tastes like both cinnamon AND hazelnut.

By Julie 

Time’s are a-changin’!

In this house that means shortly, Seasonal Affective Disorder will back right the fuck off.

For those of you who don’t know, my youngest little guy, Sam:

sam 3rd grade
Hi, I’m Sam and this picture is over a year old. 

has Bipolar Disorder and OCD. Super fun in itself in a child of 9, but this year we’ve finally figured out and had diagnosed (with two separate psychiatrists for those out there who dare to argue this) with Seasonal Affective Disorder, or commonly known as seasonal depression. I’m telling you guys this for a few reasons:

  1.  Mental health awareness and transparency gets rid of the stigma.
  2. Many of you surely know seasonal depression too well.
  3. This is my life day-to-day and I want you guys to be a part of it.
  4. Sharing my experiences with mood disorders in a child might help someone else out there recognize it in their own kiddo. And I’m insanely passionate about proper treatment and proactive treatment.
  5. Sometimes I just need to talk about shit.

Sammy was diagnosed with OCD before he turned 4, and with a mood disorder not long after. This post will run for tens of thousands of years if I go into the specifics here, so we’ll stick to what the hell does that mean when we’re talking about this other shit, Seasonal Affective Disorder? 

SAD in adults is a common occurrence, it seems to me. The time change brings with it a screwed-up sleep pattern, lack of consistent sleep brings on poor eating habits which equals weight gain or loss, then comes the anxiety and irritability with the highs and lows of the physical manifestation, and a bunch of headaches that could be either I drank too much coffee or not enough or maybe I’m tired or maybe I slept too much and that’s why I’m so foggy but at the end of the day who gives a shit I just want to go to bed, along with a whole bunch of other Feel Like Shit symptoms. Doesn’t seem to get better until the sun is shining. (Total opposite for me, btw. The sun goddamn kills me.) All of these coinciding domino-effect issues combined with “misfiring” parts of the brain that assault us with anxiety and depression anyway means that it’s pretty tough to see ONE thing that we can give a name to and treat.

The thing is, figuring out SAD in our kid was a new ballgame. It’s not just feeling sad and withdrawn like you usually assume when you hear the word “depression.” I hope this helps someone see it in themselves or a kid who might need their help because it can be helped. It can. 

For the third year in a row, our December parent-teacher conference around report card time strung a few things together, though it changes in some ways as he grows:

  • Sam suddenly stopped participating in class.
  • He was hazy. It starts not long after school starts. Haziness that would often lead to actually falling asleep in class or going to the nurse’s office for a nap.
  • Irritability. Something a classmate says or does one day that’s funny is a personal attack the next.
  • ODD. Not oddness. Oppositional Defiant Disorder. To put simply, it’s doing things the opposite of what he knows to be right and annoying people even if it doesn’t benefit him at all. It only shows up this time of year.
  • The need for constant attention, good or bad. And the need to be entertained every second of the day until he goes to sleep.
  • Constant need for closeness. He wants to be on top of a person at all times. Won’t stop talking to us. Or at all. And yet he feels so distant, disconnected.
  • Spike in fear of abandonment and obsessive thoughts of death.
  • nervous tic.
  • Sudden couple of weeks of mania.

(At this very moment I finally said, for instance, “Baby, I’m right here. If you don’t stop talking for a minute I’m going to die.” Probably not the best choice of words but man alive, I’m trying to do a thing here. Or as I like to blurt out, “Nothing going on here, so I’m just gonna WRITE A BOOK, I CAN DO THAT RIGHT NOW, YEAH?”)

As you can see, it has everyone a little edgy.

SO JULIE. This looks like a hell of a lot of disorders. What, you have some weird-ass Munchausen where you want to give your child a lot of problem titles? Or my favorite, HEY JULIE, HE’S PROBABLY JUST AUTISTIC.

That’s for another day.

Yes, this is a lot of disorders–and all of them fit together in one not-so-neat little blob of patterns and overlapping symptoms. PLEASE, ALLOW ME TO SAY THIS AGAIN.

SEASONAL AFFECTIVE DISORDER IS AN OFFSHOOT OF BIPOLAR DISORDER WHICH IS COMPACTED WITH OCD AND OPPOSITIONAL DEFIANT DISORDER IS A SYMPTOM OF SEASONAL AFFECTIVE DISORDER. REARRANGE THOSE WORDS A FEW DIFFERENT WAYS AND THEY STILL FIT TOGETHER. THEY ALL ARE A VENN DIAGRAM OF CRAP, NOT SEPARATE PIE CHARTS. 

Subtitle: IT ISN’T “JUST ADHD OR AUTISM.”

What I’m getting at is this. Some stuff on the autism spectrum DOES manifest in a kid with a mood disorder. Some ADHD symptoms ARE the same as a kid with OCD. Non-verbal Learning Disorder fits in all of them, too! They all have common threads, and they have their own separate traits too. Treatments can overlap, behavioral plans can overlap, that’s okay! The name of the disability isn’t what matters, it’s the digging in and finding the not-so obvious answers to help that matters.

Seeing the pattern over 3 years that emerges as soon as the clocks change has helped us take on a whole new plan to help the kid. Is this reinventing the wheel? No. The kid is growing. Years of behavior therapy are becoming second nature. He’s hitting a pubescent stage (commonly happens early with kids who have mood disorders), he’s got new responsibilities as a 4th grader… all this coincides and contributes to the big picture, just like that headache that could be caused by ten different things. All it means is you have to try different stuff. The kid isn’t a sedentary disorder. Treating these symptoms like they’re SOMETHING and not just conforming to the HE HAS ADHD OR AUTISM BECAUSE THERE IS NOTHING ELSE plan of attack school sometimes takes is what mental health awareness is all about. What’s happening to the kid is REAL. And he knowing this is what will help him succeed as a happy person. 

Digging into the not-so-obvious pattern has given us new tools to help him. AND THEY HAVE HELPED HIM IMMENSELY.

  • a minor, temporary, seasonal increase in his anti-depressant.
  • 15 minutes to an hour a day with The Happy Light which I cannot recommend enough.
  • absolutely transparent communication with the school–and occasionally taking on a…*ahem*…supervisory role with his teachers to ensure he doesn’t fall behind.
  • weekend rest time. We do next to nothing on Saturday. It’s a proactive MEASURE, not just It’s Saturday and I Ain’t Doing Shit measure. He knows it’s for rest and then he actually makes the choice to be active on Sunday. This is huge. He prepares himself to snap out of it.
  • Acknowledgment. “We understand you feel like [whatever thing]. Remember the disorder is telling you that–but it’s not true.”

Since implementing this stuff, Sam is uncharacteristically energetic after school–not manic–energetic. He’s involved in ensuring he doesn’t fall behind academically. He can laugh at his over-the-top symptoms like paranoia and oversensitivity. He has direction. He’s waking up easier and getting motivated quicker. And he doesn’t feel so distant. 

I’m not saying he’s magically cured. Far from it. But we’re in a better position to help him and right now it’s working in a lot of ways. Our end goal is to make sure Sam is a happy, understood person. He’ll always have a mood disorder, just like some people might always have arthritis–it doesn’t have to cripple them. Treating it like WHAT IT IS instead of acting like it’s something it’s not to make it easier on everyone else’s mind is how the stigma gets squashed and how the child who suffers it doesn’t feel ALONE. Imagine being told that you’re different but that the way you’re different isn’t really a thing. We run that risk because mood disorders are so taboo to diagnose in children. Doesn’t mean they aren’t there. It’s not that Bipolar Disorder suddenly manifests at the magic age of 14 like has been believed all this time. That’s the time that a kid speaks for themselves, that they aren’t written off as being “just this age” or “hyper” or whatever else. Acknowledgement, education, preparation, expectation… these things are what I insist upon so that my child isn’t one of the countless people with a mood disorder that have suicidal thoughts. He won’t feel alone, and he won’t feel misunderstood.

To finally shut the hell up, I’ll finish by saying, dig deeper if you feel like something is off. Listen to your gut and be absolutely clear with professionals who can help. Listen to your gut and take control when you know you’re right. And don’t be afraid to try something new.

I hope this rant did something for someone out there! Remember, just because it’s in your head doesn’t mean it isn’t real.

 

 

Milestones According to Me

Today’s brew: Eggnog flavor. Because not only did I actually FINISH a carton of eggnog for once, but I longed for more.

A few things let you know you’ve arrived as an author. If you are me and those things are incredibly subjective and change all the time. Anyway, some really excellent stuff has happened to me recently, and I can’t hold in how grateful and proud and overjoyed and humbled and a little terrified I am.

I say an awful lot to folks, be your own biggest fan. Everyone is their own worst critic–but you’ve got to be your own biggest fan too. You have to stand by your work, your vision, and admit that yeah, you love your book! It’s not snooty, it’s TRUE and if it’s not then you should love your book. That way the not-so-super reviews don’t hurt, and the rejections roll off a little easier, and the imposter syndrome fades now and again.

And yet I cringe writing this because HOW SHOWOFFY DO I SOUND, RIGHT? WHAT A JACKASS. It’s a struggle for me to talk about myself, to be honest, and that’s what therapy is for. But I want to share with you guys some of the coolest things that have happened to my book world recently that I just cannot shake the surreality (surrealness? surrealitude?) of:

  • I HAVE HOLLYWOOD AGENTS. That’s seriously true. WME, who reps the NHL and the NFL, Oprah, and you know…me.

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  • A MARVEL WRITER REPS ME. Yeah, you heard me. Brendan Deneen at Assemble Media reps my vampire books. I read Night, Night, Groot to my kids, and wake up to the author being my agent. So, basically I’m a member of the Marvel universe now.
  • I HAVE A HARDCOVER BOOK. Seriously, this to me is pretty indescribable. To grow up treasure hunting through a dusty library basement for that feeling of a good hardcover in my hands to having one with my name on it… Well, you can get one if you want: The Harpy
  • I SPOKE TO A TON OF MIDDLE GRADE STUDENTS AT THE MIDDLE SCHOOL I WENT TO AND MY SON GOES TO NOW. Despite the implications of the #nofilter pic above, I was neither cool nor popular in middle school. I was WEIRD when it wasn’t cool. My favorite book was Rambo. I had really, really bad hair. I got beaten up and spit on and bullied in a hundred ways. To stand up and talk to a group of kids that age, my kid’s age, in the place where it happened, and to say, “No matter what you think of yourself now, your voice matters. To someone out there, and most of all to you,” to think I’d have the confidence or even something to say at all, was life-changing. I mattered that day a lot to all the right people. 
  • I GOT AN AMAZING PIECE OF FAN MAIL. Someone told me that after a traumatic loss, my book was what made her able to read again. I think I’m the big fan of hers now for doing that for me. 
  • I HAVE AN AUDIBLE DEAL! I got an actual payday is what that means and I got to audition voice actors?! What? Who gets to do that? You can preorder The Harpy, narrated by the perfect Helen Laser for another day or two before it’s live! PREORDER THE HARPY AUDIOBOOK HERE
  • BOX SET! My vampire books have a box set! You can get it, too. If you want. Running Home and Running Away box set. This is my Artist-Formerly-Known-As The Shinigami Vampires series, and my new publisher said, “Julie. Nobody can even say that word.” Same books, new more normal title with The Vampires of Fate. 
  • NEW PUBLISHER! I tell ya, it was fate that this wonderful writer, David Purse, and I started gabbing about collaborating on something and before I knew it, his publishing company took me under their wing and put all my dreams into action. Inked Entertainment is a genuinely noble organization that I’m incredibly lucky and honored to be a part of. 

In addition to all this amazing book stuff, I’ve also happened upon the perfect part time job–like the perfect part time job for another noble company with a noble vision, and I put together an incredible Christmas event for the school I run the book fairs at that brought our community together in a beautiful way. And in another crazy twist of fate, I won a raffle at my brand new job–getting a healthy donation for a non-profit of my choice, and it happened to be this wonderful little school! Everything has fallen into place. 

In a moment of being my own biggest fan, I will take my own advice: Good things happen to good people. I work at being a good person, and I like to think goodness finds me. In the people I know, in the way my work is received, in the lives that touch me. And more is to come. 

But I’m still a scary frigging fruitcake, so trigger warning on that Harpy book, there, folks. 

 

THE FAMILY DISMEMBER

by Julie Hutchings 

Two huge boxes loomed from under the tree.  One as red as glistening blood, the other silver like an ice pick.

Uncle Ebner hung over my shoulder, whiskey pouring off his breath, excitement shaking his words in my ear.  “Which one you want, son?  Which one has your name on it?”

“Ebner, shut the fuck up!  Let Roy pick in peace!”  Ma yelled at him from her armchair.

“You can’t have both, Roy,” little Chrissy whined from a pile of wrapping paper, sucking on a candy cane, red goo smeared on her cheeks and hands.  I frowned at her and she stuck her gooey tongue out at me.

Pa pounded in from the kitchen, taking over the doorway in size and ugliness.   “Roy!  Pick one, now, boy, or I will make you wish you were never born.”  He raised a dirty glass of something to his mouth, wetting his massive beard and dripping it on his flannel shirt sleeve and overalls.  I shook looking at him.  “You are a part of this family, and you will do as we do.”

“I…I don’t know which one.  Maybe you should give them to Cousin Willie or Jenna.”  Even my voice cowered under Pa’s glare as his boots slammed across the room, killing ribbons and wrappings in their path.  He snarled in my face, worse than that coyote that grabbed Chrissy’s arm last summer, eyes glassy.

“You are fifteen.  You have waited long enough.  This is the year you pick one.”  Each word was a death sentence, each syllable punched me with ferocity.  Pa’s eyes got colder with every passing second.

Ebner’s laugh screeched through the room.  “Your time has come, Roy!”  He jumped up from the floor and did a barn dance, arm in arm with Chrissy.  She laughed, dirty, tangled hair trailing behind her.  “Merry Christmas, son, your time has arrived!”

The silver box whimpered.

Pa kicked it hard, ripping the paper in one corner, exposing the cardboard box underneath.  “Shut the fuck up!”  Sobs rolled out of the box, and a moan from the red one.

“Careful, Pa, don’t ruin Roy’s gift, now, it took me days to get them in the house,” Ma nagged, still in her armchair.

My knees buckled, but I caught myself on the edge of the red box.  When I touched it, it screamed.  I smelled sweat from inside it.  My stomach lurched.  “I don’t know which one to pick,” I said so softly, I couldn’t believe anyone heard.

“I don’t know which one to pick,” my brother mocked.  “Just pick one!  It don’t matter, they all look the same in the end!”  He threw a tennis ball at the boxes, hitting the silver one hard, and making it scream.

“You want a hint, boy?”

“I guess, Pa.”

“Straighten up, boy!  Be thankful for what we got you!”  he yelled, shaking the room as much as he shook me.  “The red one you know.  The other one you don’t.”

I felt my eyes widen in fear, and tried to stop them before Pa smelled it on me.  “I….know…one of them?”

“OOOOH, Roy!  That’s right special!” Chrissy said, running to my side.  “I wish I knew mine!”

Pa’s laugh was as terrible as the rest of him.  “Hahahaha!  That’s my little girl!”  Chrissy smiled wide at his approval.

“Stop being a pussy, Roy, pick one.”

“Shut up, John,” I said meekly to my brother.

“Take the red one, it’s prettier!” Chrissy squealed.

“Not for long.”  John loved how afraid I was.  He swaggered over to me, meat on his face and breath.  “Take the one you know, Roy, or I will get it, and I’ll make it stick around longer.”  His grin exposed gristle in his teeth and evil in his soul.

“ENOUGH!  PICK!”  Pa bellowed, making Chrissy cry and me shake.

I reached forward, John giggling wildly next to me, my hands trembling, and touched the red one.  It was as warm as an infection.

“Yes!  Good choice, Roy, good choice!”  Ebner patted me on the back.

“Bring it downstairs,” Pa spat.

I tried to budge the box, but it was too heavy.  “No, no, no,” it cried from inside, fear making the voice unrecognizable.  John’s laugh made it cry more.

“I can’t move it.”

“You’d better get that thing downstairs, boy, or I’ll tan your hide!”

I pushed up the bottom with the toe of my shoe, and wrapped my arms around it as far as I could, jostling it here and there.  It was crying uncontrollably now.  My eyes clouded with tears, and I pushed them back.

I shimmied it across the old rust-brown carpet, unable to pick it up.  The eyes of my family bore into my back.  When I opened the basement door, the stench of blood and rot met me.  I retched.  Pa slapped me in the back of the head.

“Go.”

“I can’t, Pa.”  Tears coursed down my cheeks.

“Disgraceful.”  Pa kicked the box with one mighty foot down the basement stairs, shaking the tools hanging from every inch of wallspace; saws, hammers, picks, machetes, screwdrivers, knives, hacksaws, chains, all rusted with blood.  The box smashed, spilling its contents.

Patty Ann Riley.  She sat next to me in Geography.

She fell in a heap of bruises and broken bones at the bottom of the stairs, crimson box underneath her stained with her blood.  She was soaked in it already.  Her right arm had been hacked off.  Blood streamed from the ragged stump into a puddle of gunk in the wrapping paper.  More bubbled and seeped from countless punctures and cuts all over her.  She groaned through semi-consciousness.

“We gave you a head start, Roy.”

I sighed deeply, my shoulders curling, my back weak.

It was time to start unwrapping.

Exploration of Insanity, i.e. my week

TODAY’S BREW: Cinnamon Hazelnut New England Coffee, courtesy of Walmart.

By Julie 

For retrospective humor and gaping mouths I shall recount my week in bullet points:

TUESDAY

  • am offered two jobs through Freelancer that sounded completely legit, complete with interviews, offer letters, no info requested that I felt uncomfortable with, job duties listed, details of equipment allocation discussed, legitimate websites linked of actual companies with history, zero scams detected through multiple searches, start dates determined, solving all of our money problems to find out that both of them were elaborate scams that I still cannot see the reason for since neither one of them got anything out of me and never even asked for anything. But Freelancer is very grateful that I brought it to their attention. So there’s that.
  • help clean Mom’s basement and the American Pickerness of it brings about these books I had to bring home from my childhood:books from moms
  • husband brings child twenty minutes away for doctor’s appointment that apparently never existed.
  • Husband returns and plays four square with my husband, kids, elementary school kids and another awesome mom for hours. Was delightful. New rules include Spearing: when one person stands on the outside of the square and just throws sharp shit through it.

WEDNESDAY

  • awesome four square mom friend feels bad about my fake jobs. Brings me lemon soap I will not buy for myself as consolation prize as I wait for Sam outside school after play practice. Beautiful thing.

THURSDAY

  • WINDSTORM OUT OF NOWHERE. Lose power. I may or may not have told you that we lost power overnight last month too. We spent half the night sleeping on the porch in a tent because it was so hot in the house–until the rain began. This is another story for another time. See also: cops are called on me by the crossing guard about my inspection sticker. Vicious fever. Week of book fair. THIS TIME it was cold. I carry lizards in all my pockets and against my body for warmth.

FRIDAY

  • Power will apparently be out until SATURDAY NIGHT AT 8:00. I cannot even. Get kids off to school and go to a friend’s house a few streets over. Carrying with me: 1 laptop, 1 Jango Fett costume for Sam later that night for school Halloween Howl which I will be setting up, unshowered and disoriented from lack of routine, 1 chuckwalla lizard, 1 heat lamp.
  • driving to said friend’s house (a fellow Hedge school  mom), my car’s brakes go. I roll up in front of ANOTHER Hedge school mom’s house and text her that my car is there but I am not.
  • THAT Hedge mom comes to the first mom’s house to help determine my next course of action because Hedge moms be like that. I go to her house with her down the street to meet AAA and have them tow the car to my house .3 miles away. (note: as soon as I stepped out the door a moth flew INTO my mouth. Hilarity ensues. Just not for me.)
  • While Pete Davidson the tow truck driver is with me, first mom texts me that Gila has gotten out of his cage:gila at cory's
  • Gila is returned to cage. Displeasure occurs. gila imprisoned at cory's
  • Almost time to pick up all of our kids, and stay at school to set up for the Halloween Howl. Put together a bunch of bags of treats with second mom for bake sale within.
  • Set up tons of decorations with a bunch of kids for this killer party at the school along with a bake sale and craft room and I am still unshowered and disoriented. Get ride home for about 20 minutes to eat cold pizza in impending darkness but SURPRISE! WE HAVE POWER! It was only almost 2 days.
  • Because why stop now, back to Halloween Howl for all the fun ever. Dance party with Jango Fett and a bunch of hilarious children and with pizza and cake. Unfiltered, unshowered proof: howl
  • Get home, cannot find the car key from the tow truck driver. Must call because at one point I said to Pete Davidson in face and demeanor to “leave it in the igniton” and he thought I said “throw it in the ocean” which is literally on the way to my house at the end of my street. True fear. But alas, it was under the seat.

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

I Can Have As Many Halloween Posts As I Want

TODAY’S BREW: less than I’d like because apparently my blood pressure rises with caffeine. Like the sun does.

By Julie 

HALLOWEEN APPROACHES and I couldn’t very well call myself Pretty Scary Author if I wasn’t totally immersed in it. Obvs it evolved from running short story showcases every October and wanting to celebrate Women In Horror month but never getting around to it to all the kiddo fun–but god I am still such a creep, and I try to PG-13 myself down so I don’t become a total freak in my kids’ eyes. Though, my kids are pretty weird too. LOOK, Samuel as Eleven last year and Benny as Dustin in the Ghostbusters costume!

Halloween 2018

For now I still get to trick or treat and go to all the family Halloween things and pumpkin picking–which I’ll probably always do. LOOK, WE FOUND A CONJOINED TWIN PUMPKIN:

Though I really want to call it a bubble-blowing double baby reminiscent of SpongeBob.

The place I’m super dying to go to for Halloween as a dream date (hope you’re paying attention, Tim), that I just discovered yesterday is Ravenwood Haunted Farm.

Image may contain: 1 person, text

It’s everything my heart desires. It’s worthy of wearing my orange tutu…to.

My scary read right now is the SHADOW HOUSE series by Dan Poblocki. Fun on their own, not to mention with covers that I adore, but the app makes it soooooo worth it. Haunted house plus scary orphans and pictures a la MISS PEREGRINE books, like this:

There’s a sigil on these photos that you link to the app:

See the source image

 

and you get to do a choose-your-own-adventure horror story. SUPER FUN. Buy these books. Shadow House

My favorite Halloween decorations this year:

halloween 2019

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Show me some of your favorite decorations, because I know you guys are dying to. Now if you’ll excuse me I have back to back Halloween baking shows to watch.

My Mind is Alive

TODAY’S BREW: What kind of a middle-aged white woman would I be if I didn’t say Pumpkin Spice?

By Julie 

So, what happened was…

I went away from regular stuff. Not in the locked-up sense, I just sort of ignored everything. Not sort of, I did. I ignored the email list, the blog, the FB page, the Twitter to an extent. I wish I could say all the things that happened in the time I’ve been away; truth is there’s too much to write, and not all stuff like my kids are growing up and I hit the wall and life is too short but also just life day in and out. I guess I blacked out on trying to be someone and just was someone for a while there.

There’s a chance my mentals ain’t stable all the time.

Then I of course get this complex that the world is pissed at me for not blogging like a bitch all the time, and then I get this alternate complex that nobody would even care or read this if I never drew attention to it. Stuff gets sad, stuff gets hard, stuff is easy and happy and free-flowing, and it all happens all the time. So far you guys are getting an amazing picture of where I’ve been all this time. OKAY I’LL SAY REAL THINGS NOW in a faux-interview style.

Hey Julie, do you have anything of value to say to people who think you’re a solid writer or are you just drunk?

I am not JUST drunk, I do have things of value to say! You know, I always have this attitude of keep pushing and shit will turn around for you when it comes to writing. It doesn’t always work out for me. I’ve written a bunch of books, tried every manner of publishing and not and agenting and all the happy horseshit that goes with it. It’s constant, yeah. Then I caught this lucky break not too long ago. I found myself suddenly signing on with David Purse at Inked Entertainment pretty much out of nowhere. Long story short, he reached out to me about co-writing a thing, and next thing I knew he was the guy representing THE HARPY primarily (though it’s become more since).

Hey Julie, it’s not even easy to find your books right now. Are you just drunk or where did they go or what huh?

You’re drunk, and we’ve taken down the books for some rebranding and whatnot. Though THE HARPY is going through some big and small changes on its own. HERE’S THE FUN STUFF.

So I signed on with David, right? And then immediately we got television and film interest on THE HARPY. This has happened before. It never went anywhere, it might not again. But the thing that’s different this time is that it keeps getting better. I signed with Audible for THE HARPY and a series of Harpy books not even written yet! Of course, then Audible like, disappeared in a flurry of legal stuff, and I’m still currently poor. But THEN, in a THIS IS NOT YOUR LIFE moment, I got picked up by WME in Hollywood.

Yeah, you heard me.

I have a couple of Hollywood agents, because that’s what happens when you’re a 40-something wife and mom of two and live in a two-bedroom apartment with like, a dozen lizards.

WME is the kind of agency that doesn’t waste their time. So this is real, right? Right? Here’s more about them, and oh my goodness. The WME Story.

So they want books, and fast, so I’m writing like the wind because YOU CAN’T HAVE A TV SERIES WITHOUT A SERIES, FOLKS.

PS, BEST NEWS: I wrote a HARPY sequel! Currently being edited by the aforementioned David Purse, tentatively named H2: EVOLUTION which I thought was just sorta funny at first but then I was like, wait, that sounds badass.

Let me tell you. That book started out as a 1000 word flash fiction piece about a totally unrelated character from Charity Blake, and then 83,000 words later that character is a powerhouse that I can’t get enough of. I can’t wait for YOU all to meet her. Rose Preston. Child prodigy gone wrong. You’ll love her.

In the meantime, I’m just living my best life which includes dwelling in a pit of despair at times. That time was the last couple of days for me. I ran the book fair last week at the elementary school. (For those of you who don’t know, I’m a book fair freak. I stick around that school for over 40 hours three times a year to make sure every kid in this low income school gets a book). In a No Deed Goes Unpunished scenario, the other things that happened to me last week are as follows:

  • crossing guard calls the cops on me because my inspection sticker is bad. Has seen my car minimally twice a day for seven years, claims he didn’t know it was mine, actually stated that because it was unlocked and the sticker was bad that he “had to check it for bombs.” The story about this just rattles my brain.
  • had a fever that sent me to bed in a complete sweatsuit with socks included, covered in quilts in 80 degree weather
  • went without electricity for a night and slept on the porch in a tent with the kids for fun and fresh air. Which was awesome until it rained.

In any case, my books aren’t up for sale right now really but for the few paperbacks still kicking around on Amazon, and bills are hard to pay. So now I’m facing the reality that something awesome could happen tomorrow but when tomorrow comes I might live in a van down by the river. Yet can’t get a “real” job that works with my kids’ needs too and also I have crippling anxiety. My solution is to look for a crap ton of freelancing editing jobs and to write this blog post. Because you guys know me, you guys like me, and the blog is a rare comfort.

And it means I’m building up to something. That things mean stuff. That I have something to say.

I’m back to blogging consistently, I’m committed to it. This is the one thing that has always worked for me, when email became fucking intolerable and signings come and go and books sell and don’t. So YOU GUYS are the ones I hope still listen. Because I plan on saying stuff.

For now I’d like you to watch this video of Taylor Swift after Lasik surgery, and I’ll be back at you guys soon. Give ’em hell out there, readers.

Jimmy Fallon and Taylor Swift

 

 

 

A String of Unrelated Wonderful Things to Make You Feel Good

TODAY’S BREW: Target Coconut, also the name of my new band

By Julie 

The following is a bunch of unrelated things that make me happy and will do the same for you, just to remind you I’m here. Writing books, being Julie. OKAY GO

  • I penned the editing note today, “Don’t be on the receiving end of your own bad attitude.” Take that.
  • I am not ashamed to have cried openly at the Stranger Things 3 trailer. MY OTHER CHILDREN ARE BACK. Stranger Things 3 is all my life needs
  • The YA novel series, Dead Beautiful by Yvonne Woon is the Twilight I needed without vampires but with actual dead people. Do it, folks. Don’t hold back.
  • I probably don’t need to tell you to see Captain Marvel (which I saw on #InternationalWomensDay and wished every woman I saw there a happy one), but this is the movie that women deserved. And for anyone who says it’s “in-your-face-feminist,” well, YEAH. I ask you to give ten bucks to a woman or girl to see it that might not otherwise. Imagine, ladies, if you’d had a Captain Marvel movie as a kid.
  • The Scholastic Book Fair is nigh! Setup is Friday night, and I have a collection of the most amazing women on the planet that help me do it every single time–three times a year–no matter what else they have happening in their very full lives. Their commitment to literacy, to each other, to me and these kids is what dreams are made of. Also, this tiny school with more children with English as a second language and more children with special needs than any other school, AND the lowest income community with less access to the books in my huge town had truly remarkable results in English language standardized testing last year. SUPER. HEROES.
  • This sled dog:Boo James Frye
  • I have an amazingly solid plan for The Harpy book I’ve been working on, and I’m about halfway through my first draft. And this book opens up a whole world into the Harpyverse that I intend to explore to its every bloody inch. So look forward to that. And buy The Harpy right now.

OKAY I HAVE TO GO. Tell me things about YOU and YOUR LIFE that are wonderful in the comments! Share your joy and be a badass.

 

 

The Language of Fear: a Women in Horror Guest Post with Harli V. Park

TODAY’S BREW: Mocha something from Target

(this part) by Julie 

A self-described squid, this talent-tentacled force somehow manages to cohesively put her work into the world through so many ways, I don’t even know how I can give her justice. Harli’s blog (click here) gives you plenty to dive into, but follow her on Instagram and where I found her, Twitter because she is a veritable whirlwind of art and subconscious brilliance come to life.

harli

The Language of Fear 

By 

Harli V. Park 

The entirety of fiction is based around the Known.

I’m sure its expected that as a horror writer, you think I meant the unknown and that’s just a type. Nope. The known and how we compartmentalize it is something that has and always will be staple in how we as writers create. The best part of being a writer is translating the known with our imaginations into this unique language that transcends perspective. Some of us accomplish this in the fantastical, some in the thrilling, and some in the language of love. Then there are writers like me; those who speak the language of fear, who transform the known into the unknown.

As horror writer, my dialect of fear is almost exclusively psychological often with tones of the sociological. My current manuscript reflects this in the psyche of a little girl – an avatar who has no autonomy and is forced to become something vile in order to obtain it. That premise alone probably resonated with dozens of internalized fears and sent very real chills up spines. That’s what I love. I who speak the language of fear don’t take what you don’t know and try to frighten you with it because the unknown is only a transcendental fear. While it is no less effective, it’s power lasts for only as long as it takes to understand it.  No, to me, the most horrifying scenarios that speak to us on a deeper and decidedly more tangible level are the monsters we know by heart.

I take an extreme amount of joy in being able to portray those monsters for those who may never once have seen them but recognize their shape, recognize their feel which allows them to understand the perspective of someone else who has seen the monster repeatedly. The monsters are ones we’re all haunted by but believe we’re the only ones who see them when, in reality, they just take on different shapes for different eyes.

So why do I choose monsters? Why do I choose horror? Why do I choose to translate the language of fear for human consumption when there is already enough “negativity” in the world at large? Well, why does anyone creative do anything?

Because I’m fluent in the language.

I am African American. I am female. I am nonbinary. I am pansexual. I live with a mental illness called schizoaffective disorder.

When presented with that profile, I believe many can pick out the reasons why the language of fear may as well be my native tongue. The world itself has never been a safe place for me and it became even more intensely dangerous for me as I grew up and discovered more of the person I am and more about the world around me – about people. It is not an overt fear of violence as, while valid, I’ve come to terms with the risk of it since I occupy this planet with other people. No, the greatest fear I’ve faced is invisibility.

The very idea that what I think, what I say, what I desire, and what I personally experience, not only doesn’t matter, but is actively invalidated by not just by those who are hateful, but by those who want to help. This invisibility is such a monster in my life in that it doesn’t allow for connection with my fellow humans and, thus, doesn’t allow for understanding. This fear doesn’t just encapsulate me, but everyone who feels unseen. It’s being told you’re overreacting, its being told you should consider others more than your own issues, its being told that you are paranoid, that you’re simply misunderstanding. This fear doesn’t just apply to me, but it encapsulates everyone who just for moment has their power taken away by the words “Well you’re just…” It’s not a desire to be special but to simply be considered. Invisibility is a fear known to all and its monster is ever shifting before the eyes of those it clutches, and in effort to be heard, we pretend the monster doesn’t exist. In effect, we slowly become invisible to ourselves.

So being so fluent in the language of fear – my everyday a plethora of subtle shadows in my peripheral – I seek to use it to tell stories that have meaning in a way that touch a much baser level than just allegorical retellings of the now and things that only one group of people can truly understand. I write horror and monsters because we all know them. We all know what they cause. How they shape us… and how they save us.

While being confronted with monsters – with something horrifying, we come to realize that we are not the only ones. That the monsters are real for someone else just like it is to you. In that moment, we who fear are no longer invisible. In my opinion, fear defines what we love and knowing that fear is shared and understood, allows for us to take the risk of sharing what is loved and conquering the monsters together. So I write horror. So, I write monsters. I speak the language of fear and I wait for someone to speak back, so that they know that someone sees them.

Why Being a Woman in Horror is a Triumph

TODAY’S BREW: Butter Rum from Target, one of my favorites. (If you have not had Target coffee, well let me just tell you.)

By Julie 

IT’S FEBRURARY, has been for 16 days, and once again I’m ashamed to do this:

“CRAP, IT’S WOMEN IN HORROR MONTH!”

Every year I want to do a GIANT THING for Women in Horror Month and every year I don’t get to it. And isn’t that just a metaphor for women in horror right there? We may be thought of as horror authors but the feat of being a woman in the horror genre isn’t celebrated widely, and at worst we might be considered kind of a pity pick in the Boys’ Club.

But the reason Women in Horror Month gets neglected by ME of all people every year is because of the same reason why women in horror all over the world are viewed as secondary in the genre:

Because we’re women first.

Women who are mothers with so many hats to wear that are all of equal importance that we need more heads to put them on.

We constantly hear about self-care because women forget all the time to take care of themselves, as busy as we are taking care of everyone else. *cue eyeroll by a bunch of men, YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE* *and even if there is no eyeroll WE FEEL LIKE IT. We feel like we should be able to handle all of it and that we’re just bitching*

The AMAZING thing about women in horror to me is that we switch gears every second of the day. Every day I go from being kick some frigging ass mental health advocate for both my children, one with anxiety and the other with bipolar disorder and OCD, to doing the family’s laundry, taking care of all my lizards, taking care of my mom who’s alone now, doing the food shopping, the Other Stuff shopping, all three meals, picking the youngest up at school every day, running to therapists’ appointments 4 times a week sometimes, doing homework with two kids who have disorders, running the book fair, teacher conferences, going to the park, spending family time (which I feel the need to make A MAJOR EVENT every day), handling the oddly frequent flat tires and other car issues which had me driving my husband to and from work every day for weeks, running the school store, editing for clients…. The list is neverending and gets switched up all damn day.

Then I sit down after being Mom of the Year and LET’S WRITE ABOUT VISCERA AND THE MOST VILE OF HUMANITY AND MONSTERS AND EVIL.

How does a person just get into that headspace after a day like this? Or more often, DURING the day. I’m usually answering math questions (not my forte), and watching over some thing I’m burning in the oven as I write.

Then let’s talk about promoting my work and the utter failure that is because I just plain don’t have time.

EVERY WOMAN IN HORROR HAS A VARIATION OF THIS. EVERY WOMAN HAS A VARIATION OF THIS.

I shame myself a bit right now, because in my head I’m saying, Well, men have things to do too, and Switching gears and being the world’s greatest caretaker then turning around to be the most gruesome and disturbing imagination the horror community has ever seen is like, not that big of a deal. And I think to myself how I’ve never been treated as a girl in the Boys’ Club, and how being a woman in horror is no different than being a man in horror. I tend to undercut that I have difficulties to overcome because of my gender in this profession. But it’s not true. I do have difficulties that I don’t recognize, that I brush over, that I don’t hear about. And as a strong woman, I’m the one who could have a leg sawed off and say, “I was looking for a way to lose weight and THERE IT IS.”

Put-a-Smile-on-Your-Face-While-You-Nurture-the-World-and-Handle-More-Emotional-Burden-Than-Anyone-Ever-Should-and-Be-Pretty-While-You-Do-It-But-We’ll-Still-Call-You-Fragile-Because-Your-Muscles-Aren’t-Visibly-Monstrous is a mantle women have had to hold for, well, ever. To be groomed into this be pretty and shut up vision that we have seems to by nature work against writing horror. Blood, guts, perversion, disturbing and provocative terror that undercuts the most base moral ground doesn’t really coincide with this:

fifties housewife

To think that this woman might ever have say, cannibalism and zombies on the brain seems implausible. But hell, we came from somewhere, didn’t we?

These days you’ll find me just as often helping a PTA bake sale (and still feeling guilty I don’t do more for them) as I am reading something blood-curdling. The interesting thing about it is that–get ready for it–

WOMEN ARE MORE THAN ONE THING.

We’re capable of being powerful and the best at everything we want to do, especially the things society doesn’t think we can do. I think every woman has a rebel streak somewhere that wants to just goddamn show everyone that she’s a war goddess as she shops at Market Basket. It’s that struggle young mothers have where they lose themselves in being just Mommy. It’s the struggle of the woman who wants to be the perfect wife but has a dark side that shames her. It’s the struggle of the woman who doesn’t think the same way as the other parents at the playground. It’s the struggle of the woman who’ll be the trophy wife regardless of her capabilities. We’re fighters, every one of us. The women who write horror take that struggle and smash it onto paper and smile with a mouthful of teeth at any man who dares to question it.

Write what scares you. Be the monster you want to see. Read horror written by women.