Slowing Down and Scaring Folks

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

By Julie

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

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

By enjoying it.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

No? Just me then?

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

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

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

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

By Julie 

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

But I don’t have to do that.

Nobody does.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

shadow of a leader

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

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




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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


wear a crown and pearls, not chains and fear

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

(if you’re so inclined, and do be, because reading is how you get better at every damn thing, here’s a link for THE WIND BETWEEN WORLDS: The Wind Between Worlds by Julie Hutchings  )

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

Be brave.

Be constant.

Be who you are.



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

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

By Julie 

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

Click on anything in bold to connect to the site.

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

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

stop talking



This Most Unholy of Days and How to Make It Simply Frigging Delightful.

TODAY’S BREW: Dunkins’ Hazelnut made at home, which is not surprisingly better

by Julie 

If you needed further proof of my insanity, I actually look fondly back at retail management on Black Friday. YOU HEARD ME. The excellent thing about being a manager on This Most Unholy of Days was that I could make a difference by just being myself. You can do this, too, as just like, a person.

Here’s what I did to make Black Friday fun at my stores:

  • TINY SANDWICHES AND COOKIES. All the product will be on the salesfloor for This Most Unholy of Days, so there’s SPACE in the stockroom to hide. I’d put up a long table, and we made a buffet. Tiny sandwiches, cookies forever, Aunt Marge’s leftover unnamed casserole, soda, water, soda water, hot chocolate with marshmallows, pasta salad, all the things, right? And let them sneak it in their pockets on the salesfloor if they have to. Everyone loves a pocket full of tuna.
  • ACKNOWLEDGE THAT EVERYONE NEEDS A BUNCH OF FUCKING BREAKS. In my constant rushing around the store, I’d stop for 3 minutes and send a girl out back for food and just QUIET. They appreciate this.
  • PLAY CHRISTMAS MOVIES. A constant stream of Christmas movies playing by the buffet. Sit down, watch a movie snippet and forget that the world is run by money-mongering.
  • GIFTS ARE NICE. Buy a box of ornaments, glitter glue their names on that shit. Put in basket. GIFTS.
  • DON’T THROW THEM TO THE WOLVES. Prepare the poor things. Make sure they know what the hell they’re doing. When they walk in, give them a thank you card for their time, and slip in an index card with a couple of reminders: when their long break is, specials running, that you love them, one good/bad joke, and how to address a bunch of people at once.
  • CHALLENGES. Yeah, give them YET MORE CHALLENGES, right? I’d fill up a tote bag with little things, tell them to sell it all and give them a prize when they emptied it. Candy, $5 coffee gift cards, get to leave 5 minutes early pass, that kind of stuff.
  • OH YEAH, ACTUALLY LAUGH AND SMILE. I always said that if my life ran as smoothly as Black Friday, I’d be the happiest person alive. I prepped for that day for weeks, and it always went off without a hitch. Are you gonna run out of stuff? Yeah. It’s Black Friday, people are used to it. Laugh, tell them the monsters were out early, and show them something just like it in a different color, for fuck’s sake. Laugh, smile, it’s only retail. And if you make it feel like home for your customers and your employees, they’ll treat it and you like home. It is the beginning of Christmas, after all.

I know, not everyone is in this position, and it’s tiring to be in this position to begin with, but it’s pretty amazing how energizing it is to treat people well when nobody expects to be treated well.

THIS GOES FOR SHOPPERS, TOO. Be nice to employees even if they aren’t nice to you. You don’t know what they went through a minute before you got there. You can be the person who turns their day around by just smiling at them, making eye contact, thanking them. Hell, if you feel really nice, in your maniacal spending of every dime you own on overpriced shit, pick up a couple of $5 gift cards and give them to someone who helped you, who had a smile for you, or who just looks like they need a little kindness after being bullied by a thousand nightmare shoppers. Think of how it feels when a stranger does something kind for you. Ever have a guy in the drive-thru buy your coffee for you? Makes your day. BE THAT GUY. I mean, don’t be a frigging creep about it, but you know, be nice.

OKAY, THAT’S MY RANT. Have some fun out there, and be the kind of person that people like.


“Long day, huh? I bet you can’t wait to be *wink at camera* RUNNING HOME this afternoon?” *show them picture of your favorite author, Julie Hutchings. 

“Wow, I bet you wish you could take a quick break. Perhaps if you were the Witch of Stars from the young adult dark fantasy THE WIND BETWEEN WORLDS, you could wish for everyone to take a break, right?”

No, you don’t really have to do this, but I won’t stop you. I won’t. You COULD send someone the nice gift of an e-book for $2.99 though, couldn’t you?! You could do that. WHY WOULDN’T YOU DO THAT? I mean, I’m not telling you what book to send, but I am though. I am.

OH HEY, YOU KNOW WHAT? IF YOU SEND SOMEONE THE GIFT OF ONE OF MY BOOKS THIS HOLIDAY SEASON, EMAIL ME AT JULESHUTCH(AT)OUTLOOK.COM OR TWEET ME AT @HUTCHINGSJULIE! I’ll give you a prize. Because that makes ME feel good. So go on now, happy holiday it, and remember to be awesome.

My Fave Books This Year and a GIVEAWAY

TODAY’S BREW: Not quite peppermint mocha time yet

By Julie 

Let’s talk books. Because the world is terrible maybe, and let’s just talk books, okay? Okay! Here are some of my recent favorites that you guys should read. Click on the titles to get them on Amazon.

  • HOUSE OF ASH by Hope Cook. This is just a good old fashioned haunted house story, but it’s more than that. In dual points of view, present day and Victorian, with two characters that you really understand and root for, it’s got some great family dynamics (that are actually pretty horrible for them, but great reading), and a lot of eerie tonality that I appreciate.
  • DEAD GIRLS OF HYSTERIA HALL by Katie Alender. A really unique ghost story, with a super unique point of view (I won’t give it away), and cool ghosts. Along with mystery and even a ghostly love interest, which I was on board for.
  • BAD GIRLS DON’T DIE also by Katie Alender. I read this first and immediately bought DEAD GIRLS, I was so in love with the story. A haunted house and haunted girls and haunted relationship and haunted history…. And the characters, just like in DEAD GIRLS, are dynamic. These books aren’t just fluffy scary stories with a teen twist. They have great depth. You can bet I’ll be reading everything Katie writes.
  • NEVERNIGHT by Jay Kristoff. My favorite book of the year. Gruesome, heart-wrenching, mysterious, enticing, disgusting, horrifying, indulgent and sexy. This book has it all. Mia is a force to be reckoned with on the page, and the characters she surrounds herself with, the circumstances she puts herself in, are all so riveting and multi-tiered, I couldn’t stop turning pages. I got the limited edition sequel on release day–it was written in my planner–and I’m waiting to read it for exactly the right moment. Like, I don’t want anything to touch this experience for me. Go read The Nevernight Chronicles. Then tell Jay Kristoff to be my friend. I don’t understand why he isn’t my friend. I need him.
  • DEATH TROOPERS by Joe Schreiber. I’m picky as hell about books in the Star Wars universe. Can’t tell you how many I haven’t finished. I need my Star Wars books to read like the movies. This is why I love Chuck Wendig’s AFTERMATH. Not only because I’m mentioned in the acknowledgements, basically making me a sith, but because it reads in short, candid sections, just like you’re watching the movies, where you pan out to another point of view, leaving you thinking about the former, but anxious to learn more. So get the Wendig’s Star Wars books. But DEATH TROOPERS is different. Still reads quickly, as I want it to, but this is a mix of Star Wars universe and zombies. I don’t need to say more than that, you just go get it now.
  • HUNGRY GHOSTS by Stephen Blackmoore. I love the Eric Carter series, because necromancy, and he’s so sharp, and I need that, but this is my favorite one so far. Blackmoore treats Santa Muerte in a way I’ve never seen before, and the Aztec King of the Dead is badass. But Eric is the best badass of all. I love an antihero, and Carter is class act in this sense–noble purpose, destroying his sister’s murderers, but  man alive, does Eric Carter do some dirty deeds along the way. HUNGRY GHOSTS has a couple of my favorite scenes in this series in it, and I anticipate reading it again. Reminiscent of Simon R. Green (who some would say is reminiscent of Jim Butcher, but Simon R. Green is BETTER, JUST BETTER, FIGHT ME), the Eric Carter books do antiheroes RIGHT.
  • THE CAVENDISH HOME FOR BOYS AND GIRLS by Claire Legrand. I read this with my 10 year old, who loves Lemony Snicket’s Series of Unfortunate Events deeply, and never found anything quite that creepy with quite that much depth since. This book did it. I found myself thinking of CORALINE quite a few times too, that sinister side of middle grade that I find alluring. I’m a huge Legrand fan, and can never get enough of WINTERSPELL, which you should also read.

Okay! I think I’ve rattled on enough and I beg you to go read and review one or more of these books. COME TO THINK OF IT….


Vampires And Water

This is just fun, and vampire flash fiction is hard to come by. Happy reading.

Momus News

Photo by: Roger Bultot

Shannon and Nils escaped across the river. The vampire glared at them from across the river.

“We’re safe,” said Nils. “Vampires can’t cross running water.”

“Are you sure?,” shuddered Shannon. “Maybe they just don’t like it?”

Sure enough, the very hungry vampire began swimming across.

The two watched it, slack-jawed.

“I didn’t expect that,” said Nils.

“It does explain a lot. Maybe it stays that way if wet. Lets put it in a water bucket.”

Days later Nils called her.

“I put the vampire/fish in with my piranhas,” said Shannon.

“How cruel!”

“I know. My piranhas have stomach aches.”
Written for the Friday Fictioneers:

Author’s Notes:

Part of the vampire myth is that they cannot cross running water. I wondered what the reason was…

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By Julie

I’ve been so goddamn sick this week, it’s annoyingly inspirational. Taking me out of the game enough that it slowed my readying of the next book to get out, slowed down my editing on the side, all unacceptable. But it is a great feeling to be so pissed about that, you know?

Instead I began a for-profit non-organization called #PoemsForSickPeople. All proceeds go to….me. But you can also just BUY MY BOOKS, THEY’RE GOOD, I SWEAR. Please, do be entertained by my illness.

Did all the laundry

Changed all the sheets

I can no longer breathe

I’m going to sleep




I drank coffee


I’m stronger than yesterday

*coughs into oblivion, watches more Lifetime movies*


MY PERSONAL FAVORITE….. I call this one “Must I Really? With the Clothes?”

Must I, really?

With the clothes?

While inside, nobody knows

Of the sweatpants worn for days

In my sickly, worn malaise.

Must I? Really? With the clothes?



The cough.
It displeases
Far more than the sneezes



Less poetic is how I am finally old enough to take baths in Epsom salt for my aches and pains, and yet not wise enough to NOT throw instant oatmeal into the tub for my skin. Don’t get me wrong, my skin feels fantastic, but I brewed myself in a cup of oatmeal.

Anyhow, that’s the kind of stuff I do, and I thought that you would just LOVE to hear all about it from my nest of blankets and heating pads in the corner of the couch. Stay well, all! And if you want more of this kind of literary ingenuity, do please purchase my latest novel, THE WIND BETWEEN WORLDS. Okay, love you guys, byyyyyyyye

CLICK HERE if you want to read about the 5 Poison Witches and their insane mothers!








TODAY’S BREW: Cider! It’s Halloween weekend and New England Wildlife Center’s Night of a Thousand Faces.

By Julie 

HI EVERYBODY. I promise I won’t get over-emotional. *bursts into tears, kicks a pumpkin down the street, climbs a tree*

THE WIND BETWEEN WORLDS is finally out in the world, and it’s everything I dreamed it would be. LOOK.

Sixteen-year-old Celeste is the Witch of Stars and leader of her coven, the Five Poisons. But Celeste feels her greatest powers are in chewing anxiety pills and stress-eating. Uniting the vicious witches who share nothing but their unique forms of magic and a list of family dysfunctions is fruitless. The Poisons see only weakness in Celeste, for stifling her magic upon her mommy’s request. Using magic drains their mothers, the Elementals, but Celeste is the only one of the Poisons who doesn’t want her mother dead.
When a demon breaks through The Chains, the magical veil into the human world, Celeste tries proving herself to her coven by confronting him on her own. Through his eyes she discovers that the Elementals have been feeding the Poisons lies about demons, magic, their heritage, and the coven’s purpose. Worse yet, the abuse, manipulation and oppression Celeste’s coven has suffered at their mothers’ hands was more than tough love; it was to strengthen the girls’ powers for a Halloween harvest, to weave their souls into The Chains that they serve.
Celeste will do anything to save the Poisons, from traversing the wicked realm of The Gone, following the demon who’s shown her the truth, to waging war upon the Elementals. But to end the grisly cycle the Elementals have created means the Witch of Stars must either show her mother mercy and live in the false world she knows, or sacrifice herself in ways no magic can reverse.

A deadly concoction for readers of Leigh Bardugo and Maggie Stiefvater, with ingredients of American Horror Story: Coven, and The Craft.

This book was my first venture into young adult writing, and it was the most natural thing in the world to me. Funny thing is it’s edgier than RUNNING HOME and the whole Shinigami series. Teenagers get a bad rap for having little depth I think, and it’s simply not true. The Five Poisons live with different varieties of abuse, drugs, drinking, slut-shaming, emotional blackmail, anxiety, stress-eating even…. And yes, they swear, and there’s sex, and guess what? This is real life.

And on Amazon, I listed it as a book suitable for 7th grade and above.

Yes, I’m a dedicated and very involved mother of two young boys, and I protect them and nurture them to possibly an overbearing degree, but it would be foolish of me to assume they don’t see the growing-up coming, even at their tender ages. Angst isn’t the only thing they know. Teenagers and pre-teens should be acknowledged as children capable of making decisions and living their lives under guidance beyond whether their homework gets done on time. We’d be fools to assume they aren’t far more advanced and exposed to and curious about much more than their parents were at their ages. I was an….adventurous…young lady, and I’m pretty scared about what kids these days are in the path of. Technology has made all the rebellion we lived as kids into something far more dangerous. (There’s hardly any technology-based stuff in this book, because of the nature of what it’s really about, which has nothing to do with social interaction in that way.) Do we seriously think swearing is beyond them at say, even age 10? Not to mention that we let them play video games, watch YouTube, see endless violence (in a world full of it, naturally), and yet we change the channel when there’s a sex scene on TV. Who are we really shielding?

This went far more on a tangent than I thought it would. Which should show you how much I FELT this book, this series to come (one of which is finished already), and how important I think it is for kids to read.  While it isn’t an “IMPORTANT” book, immersed in any one of a hundred thousand million causes, it’s important. I stand by that. It puts important feelings, issues, experiences in a book that’s FUN. Because this book is fun, as emotional as I find it to be, and as imaginative as it needs to be.

Reading is as much an expression as writing is. It helps us identify with our own feelings, helps shape us throughout our entire lives. And kids should read what the hell they want.

I say this knowing that more adults read YA than teenagers probably do, and are looked down upon for it.

*stands on soapbox, throws air punches*


Reading inspires imagination, and without imagination, you cannot do a goddamn thing worthwhile. I don’t give a crap if you’re an accountant–if you can’t think outside the box, and don’t actively do so, your life is not what it could be. And if you’re an adult who reads a lot of young adult novels, I ask the world this:


For me, imagination. Optimism. Reality. Freshness.

If adults had had more young adult available to them in this more mature strain as kids, rather than pretty exclusively SWEET VALLEY HIGH, what maturity level would we have had? What about those of us who read those books but also read Dracula and VC Andrews, and horror, and Jackie Collins, and Mary Higgins Clark?

Just me then? Oh.

There’s more than one level of emotional need at every age, and we’re capable of holding ALL OF THEM AT ONCE. And we should.

I’m super super super proud that a 10 year old boy at my kids’ school came up to me on the playground a couple of weeks ago. “I read your book, and it was awesome,” he said, about RUNNING HOME, a book about a 26 year old woman. Kids can read above grade level. As a matter of fact, the way they get there is by READING ABOVE GRADE LEVEL. That’s a whole other post.

Anyhoo, I’m incredibly passionate about this book, and I hope one or more of these characters will resonate with readers, and that they all walk away thinking a little differently because of them. So do yourself a favor, buy a book, and make it this one because the Poisons were all born on Halloween and it leads up to Halloween and IT’S HALLOWEEN.

For some visuals, go through the hundred Pinterest boards about the book and the witches and demons in it. Pinterest

Friday the 13th and my Uterus.

TODAY’S BREW: Cinnamon something, just lots of whatever it is.

By Julie 

All the time I get asked to tell my stories of my weird ailments and my struggles with my period and PMDD (premenstrual dysphoric disorder). I speak very openly about it because I refuse to feel YUCKY about my body.

I’ve had horrid trouble with my period my entire life, but after my second child, the mood swings became extraordinarily unbearable. My brain became someone else’s. Someone that would contemplate suicide, that found fault in everything they did, that was so paranoid about her relationships that it undermined them horribly like clockwork. I also struggled with having a high level of prolactin, a hormone associated with breastfeeding and is usually attributed to a benign brain tumor. I had odd, searing, burning pains in my stomach and sides, and my stomach would swell into a hard mass that made me look the same as I did when I was 7 months pregnant. This is a very short synopsis of the worsening conditions that entirely disabled my life increasingly until new pains began about a month or two ago. And the bleeding was incredibly unhealthy, the kind nobody could live through for long.

I’d known I had a couple of big ol’ fibroid tumors, just like almost every woman does, but these ones were now getting out of control. My fantastic doctor had them measured, did all the stuff he needed to, and we opted for a partial hysterectomy because they “couldn’t be allowed to take over,” he said.


So we did. Turns out my uterus had somehow been pushed up so goddamn far, that it not only dragged my cervix along like an unwilling cat on a leash, but it attached itself to my stomach lining in the front and pushed my bladder into a corner, and put pressure on my diaphragm. My doctor told my husband that surgery was like walking into the kitchen and finding your table glued to the ceiling. It was totally unexpected.

Unfortunately, unexpected medical cases and me are super good friends. See also: aborting fibroid tumor. Or don’t, if you value your last meal.

The point of all this is not to tell you my scary story, but to tell you to PAY ATTENTION TO YOUR BODY.

I go to the doctor regularly. I have a fantastic OBGYN, who finds things that no other doctor does and fixes them. I’m very thorough in tracking my symptoms because *I* need to know what to expect the following month so I can say, “ah yes, this is about the time I called the suicide hotline last month.” I don’t mess with my menstrual cycle because I refuse to be unhappy and I refuse to not help myself.

And all along, I knew all of these crazy symptoms that I suffered were all connected in some way. And I was right.

While I took chaste tree root, magnesium, anxiety meds, a mood stabilizer, and occasional panic pills, as well as birth control to deal with my PMDD, I still knew there was something more. I even took tumor shrinking pills for this possible benign tumor that affects the pituitary gland and the prolactin level, though I did not have the tumor. This was after seeing endocrinologists, and getting MRIs and starting therapy…. I stopped at nothing to fix these problems.

I did do my own research, because of course I did. I read, that’s what I do. But I balanced it with going to all the right specialists so we could come to the right conclusions. The conclusion was that the fibroids (dubbed “the Utermelon,” and “the Ovarian Orange”) caused it all. Fibroid tumors–and again, one fourth of women of reproductive age have them–are in a chicken and egg game with hormones. They multiply when they’re all around each other too much. In my fibroids’ hostile takeover, they spiked my prolactin level, causing me to feel almost like I was pregnant every few months. The fibroids gave me the unhealthy bleeding, the pains in my back, legs, stomach, as well as a fantastic exhaustion that comes with fighting your own body three weeks out of the month. But the worst thing these fibroids did was give PMDD a stage to play on and a standing frigging ovation every time it did.

I’ve met more women that have been diagnosed with PMDD or feel they may have it than I thought possible. PMDD is a sort of Hulkified PMS–and PMS is bad enough. PMDD symptoms show up 10 days prior to the period. It comes with an overwhelming hopelessness that is usually out of character, like mine, but can also link to depressive disorders. This feeling strains relationships, creates conflict where there is none, paranoia, a decrease in self-esteem and exaggerated poor self-image that again, is out of character and just SHOWS THE HELL UP LIKE THAT UNCLE THAT EATS ALL THE PEANUT BUTTER. Mine would often come too with almost a nesting instinct–a need to feel in control of change. And I’d move everything in the house for days, finding myself in tears and unable to stop. Sleep interruption and exhaustion, lack of interest in things you normally do, intense anger and irritation at nothing…. This all occurs with PMS, but with PMDD it is debilitating. It interrupts life. Makes the sufferer have to stop everything because the feelings are in control. I would suffer absolutely terrifying panic attacks that had me screaming like I was being murdered, unable to stop, I’d sleep for an entire day, I’d wake up in the night starving, unable to feel full and then have days of not wanting to eat at all. My most frightening moment with PMDD had me so upset after a failed sledding outing that I felt that it was a metaphor for my entire life and I could just die and everything would be easier. That was the day I called the suicide hotline. Because as entrenched and overcome in the REALITY of those feelings as I was, I also knew that they were invaders. This was not me. This was not how I would have thought days before. It felt like being possessed.

I tell you this because I want you to know that you’re not alone, that your problems are not just yours, and that there’s help. You’re not crazy. This is real.

I worked tirelessly at solving my PMDD problem. I went for therapy, took the supplements that help with hormone health, started a mood stabilizer that worked wonders in tandem with birth control and other anxiety meds. I didn’t miss doctor’s appointments. I didn’t brush it under the rug. I didn’t minimize it as “a period issue” because period issues are actual issues.

I say these things because you don’t have to live with it. I’m still healing from my exorcism of the uterine orchard only 3 days ago, but I have a strong feeling that I won’t have to trap my hormone issues in a prison of pills and therapy anymore. Maintenance will still need to happen, because I only had a partial hysterectomy, so my hormones will still exist, and also because I don’t think anything is ever just SOLVED with me. But I have a really good feeling about this, guys.

What I want you to get from this is a few things:

  • Talk about your stuff. Lady stuff isn’t a bad thing.
  • If you think something is wrong, it is. If it’s “all in your head,” that is still something wrong! Find the doctors that believe you. Ask for the referrals and tell those bitches right to their faces that you want to see someone who takes you seriously.
  • You are not alone. There are resources and you deserve to be happy.
  • Keep track of your symptoms.
  • Put yourself first. Take care of yourself. Do what you need to do, even if you have to say NO to someone else.

There are resources that I have used often for help with PMDD, anxiety, and hormonal issues.

I hope this helps someone, and I hope you hold your head a little higher when your uterus comes at you like Rowdy Roddy Piper, and know that there can be an end to it.