Sneak-Teach! I Gift You a Lesson Plan

TODAY’S BREW: My daily ration of Cinnamon Hazelnut

By Julie 

So any of us with kids are homeschool teachers now, right? Pandemic Parenting Class is not a real thing, and schools are doing their best to give us a lot of resources to teach at home–but weeding through them all takes about six hours per day. I mean, it’s like walking into Market Basket (or your version of the most Thunderdome-like supermarket in your area) on the day before Thanksgiving: you went in for the ONE THING, but with everyone around and all the noise and bright lights and is Christmas in 4 weeks? you end up leaving with six things you didn’t go there for and not the thing you did need, as well as the strange urge to cry and take a nap.

A GIFT FOR YOU, PARENTS.

I put together a couple of these resources, sprinkled it with Pretty Scary Magic, and made an actually interesting lesson plan you can throw at your child for Less Than 20 Minute Learning AND you’ll feel like a good parent. Maybe even get a minute for a shower. The majority of this one is from one of my favorite resources so far, SCHOLASTIC LEARN-AT-HOME.

NUMBER A) Probably Science and Social Studies and Emotional Awareness 

Follow the link and read this super quick, interactive and visually pleasing article about an incredible kid: Nothing Can Stop HerSN4020419_Jordan-Medium-1B

SECTION B) I Made Up Well-Rounded Questions Like A Smarty Pants

Mine were:

Sammy pandemic lesson age 9

**I’ve also asked him to draw his dream prosthetic limb for “art class” but that hasn’t happened yet. It might not. These are uncertain times.

NEXT) Every Kid Likes A Video And I Learned Something Too

The “Dream It, Print It” 2 minute video at the bottom of the article. (I did NOT know they could 3D print food.)

SORTA FOURTH) Throw In A Superhero/Hot Celebrity 

In this ABC News Link, Robert Downy Jr. presents 7-year-old Alex with a prosthetic Iron Man arm. Basically a dream come true for anyone, whether you need a prosthetic arm or not.

 

If you want to add a second lesson I HAVE THAT TOO.

OTHER PART) Follow up on Jordan’s Story And How She Became a Marvel Girl

The kid not only made a shirt with her personal slogan on it, DON’T STARE. JUST ASK, but went on to be part of Marvel’s Hero Project to help kids feel strength like she did when she wore her shirt–even though it didn’t work the first time and didn’t help her. She went on to help design a Barbie with a prosthetic limb. I love this kid.

KEEP IT UP) Create Your Own Marvel Comic Hero of Your Own. 

The site even provides a graphic novel template. Here’s Bennett’s though, and I might cry every time I look at it.

Bennett's heroes age 13

Bennett's heroes part two

And then for happy fun times, we’ll find a movie that I can like, tie into it. Which means watching Iron Man again, probably. But if you say WHAT HAVE YOU LEARNED after watching, it’s teaching.

OKAY, folks, give yourselves a break. Don’t expect too much of yourselves. We are living in a historic time, and as horrible as it is, observations of it are important. Talking about it, writing it down, saving the memes, all of it matters. Don’t think that you aren’t DOING anything because you’re not the most productive creature that exists right now. BEING is learning. EXISTING is prodcutive. You are not what you do, you are who you are. Ghandi said that, I’m sure of it, or at least he thought it maybe.

Stay safe, stay home, flatten the curve, my friends.

 

 

Document Your Stories With Me

TODAY’S BREW: COVID-free Caffeine

By Julie 

It’s a beautiful, slightly snowy morning to be quarantined!

Checking in: How ARE you guys? For real, tell me. I have to thank Princess Chuck Wendig for asking the public every day, how ARE you guys?  It makes me think of how I actually am, and to listen to how people actually are instead of just thinking about the goddamn virus and what I can DO.

I’ve been thinking about how historic this terrible time is, and how we should be documenting our personal accounts, as mundane as they may seem, or as panicked and incoherent as they might be because these are the true-life historical stories our kids and grandkids will read one day, and so on and so on.

So how ARE you guys?

I want you very much to email me at juleshutch@outlook.com or tweet me @HutchingsJulie your one-line thoughts, your extensive journal thoughts, whatever you want to say about our COVID-cation, etc… I’d love to post them here every day, anonymously if you specify. We get through this by supporting one another. This is one small way to do it.

Tell me your stories and I’ll tell you mine. Stories are the best kind of contagious.

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.