Deadly Ever After

Archive for the month “February, 2015”

Size Matters: Novellas vs Full Length Novels

Todays brew:  hot water with lemon and honey

by Kristen

Is it just me or does it seem like more books than ever are coming out lately?  A lot of you have accused me of forgoing sleep to write, or of being a machine, but some authors are even making me say how do they do that?  There are people putting out new stories every couple of weeks. And readers love it.

So how the heck do they do it?

Novellas. Novelettes. Short stories.  Call them what you want, but under 50K is the new black. Tor is starting a new imprint for novellas. Kindle Unlimited is making short stories profitable for many authors. Some authors are only writing short stories now. A huge change from when I first began my publishing journey and there was no market for novellas. And again, readers love them. They’re priced competitively and they don’t require a huge commitment. A couple weeks ago, I had a lot of down time on a job. So between talent, I read. (I do all my best reading on the clock.) I wound up checking out three novellas that day.  It was cool to just have this little nibble of a story that was tailor made to the time I had.  A full length book can take me weeks to finish, if I ever do. My attention span isn’t what it used to be. Chances are, yours isn’t either.

You may have noticed I’ve written a few of novellas as well. My Colorado Shifters stories are all under 30K.  I decided that I wanted to supplement The Spotlight Series with shorter stories dedicated to the sidekicks. The Trouble With Bree was born.  I found that paranormal readers are a little more open to the short format, but with recent serial releases from bestselling authors such as Elizabeth Lee and Marquita Valentine, I think that contemporary readers are soon going to find these stories fit into their busy lives nicely.

Writing a novella takes similar planning to writing a novel. The main difference is that the characters will be dealing with one main conflict, and not as many subplots.  With only 30K (or less!) words, every single one of them has to be a part of a well-oiled machine. Just because your story is short doesn’t mean you can skimp on character development or plot. I also find that my novellas have fewer characters, and the story takes place over a shorter span of time.

The biggest challenge came to me after I wrote three novellas in a row and it was time for a new full length story, The Fire Dancer, which will be the next Night Songs book.  The words were coming, but something wasn’t right. I had to go back and spend some more time with my story and my characters. It was okay to follow with the characters while they went for coffee or watched a movie, as long as something else was happening in the scene. In a novella, that kind of scene would have been shortened to just a mention of the activity. I had that chance to get to know my characters, and develop their personalities in other ways.  It didn’t have to be go go go all the time.  In my novellas, there are usually only two main characters and they usually want the same thing. In my novels, there’s a bigger cast, and they all have their own interests in mind.  Subplot city, baby.

Once I let myself slow down and explore Holly’s story deeper, the story flowed at the correct pace. When I say slow down, don’t think for a minute that I wrote less. I just spent more time with each scene, or let it have more complex parts.  The beauty of that was the characters took over. There are a few twists in that book that I didn’t see coming until they happened, and those are my favorite, because I think they make the book.

After The Fire Dancer, I returned to novellas. It was time for another Colorado Shifters story. I’d had the concept, an older woman working with a younger personal trainer, in mind for a long time. I’d planned to write it as a full length contemporary, but with a title like Cougar and the Lion in mind, it was perfect to adapt into this series.  This time, I incorporated some subplots. I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to tell the story in under 30K words, but I told myself it didn’t matter how long it was, just write the story as the main character, Arielle, tells it to me. My girls haven’t wronged me yet.  The story wasn’t exactly the one I’d expected to write, but it’s Ari’s story, and I hope I did her proud.  The subplots actually drove the story. Had I not given some of the secondary characters time to appear in the story, it would have never worked as well as it did.

I want to keep writing both formats.  It’s a good challenge for me, and hopefully changing things up makes me a stronger writer.  I have three series I’m working on now, and the next story I have on tap is shorter, and then I’ll return again to a full length novel.  The shorter books are a great way to keep readers engaged between longer books, and as they’re a fun way to tell stories in a different style.

My novellas tend to land at 27K words and my full length books at about 68K.  What’s your sweet spot?  Have you tried your hand at shorter fiction, or will you be sticking to strictly novels?


March Madness Feelings Time!

TODAY’S BREW: All of it.

By Julie

The start of the March Madness flash fiction series is approaching quickly! If you don’t know what I’m talking about, HERE.

I was excited to offer our blog as a forum for people who matter to me to post their words. We’ve done this before and it fills me with such happiness to help other writers that this is really more for me than it is them.

But I never anticipated how much good this blog series would do for so many. So many writers that haven’t posted here before. So many that have never let their work out before AT ALL. (You know who you are, girly. And your writing is spectacular. I had no idea I was the only one who got to see it.) Writers that haven’t been able to write for months or more, that finally found inspiration in this project.

Goddammit, if you people make me cry, you will all pay.

Writers that have been down on their luck with submission processes, writers that suffer depression among a myriad of other health issues…. I couldn’t be more proud of every one of you, more honored that you’d share your work and your feelings with me and our readers.

What I really wanted to say here today is that EVERY SINGLE PERSON participating in the March Madness blog series has reached out to me about how nervous they are, that they’re stuck, that they’re excited but maybe they shouldn’t do it….. and all of you have found it in you to do it anyway.

While I’ve been proud to host writers in all stages of their careers here, this one is special to me because all of you feel vulnerable about your work in some way. I’m overjoyed that you’ve come out of your shells, found faith in yourself to do this. I can’t wait to share your work and see the support you all give each other.

To put him on the spot, our good friend Beau Barnett posted his first piece on our blog two years ago. He was the most nervous of everyone I think, it really shook him, and since then Beau has been published, submits work regularly, writes all the time and cheers on so many other writers, he’s been an invaluable asset to the writing community. Make A Wish still gets searched and read on our blog, two years later. Here it is:

And I urge you to reach out to Beau on Twitter to ask him how he felt submitting this story, because nobody tells it like he can. You can find him at (@INukeYou)

There’s still time to join in with March Madness! (And if you miss the deadline and still want to be a part, I’ll never turn you away.)

Best of luck to all of you. Dig deep and have fun!

Get Edited!

Today’s Brew:  All the tea in China. I’ve been nursing a serious tea addiction lately. I hardly even drink coffee anymore.

by Kristen

Hi!  I haven’t posted anything here in a while, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been around. As you know, we are pretty much snowbound in Massachusetts, with 8 feet of snow falling in something like 3 weeks. Public transit is crippled, giant snow drifts make driving dangerous, and my downstairs neighbors now live in an igloo.


The windows you see are on the second floor. The first floor is completely buried.


So I’ve been behind the screen, typing madly away during my slow season at the day job. I mean, what production in their right mind would want to try film under these conditions? (There are a couple happening in town right now, but all my jobs have been inside lately. Thank GOD.)

I’ve completed two new projects! Yes!  The next book in The Night Songs Collection, and a new novella in Colorado Shifters.  I’m currently working on a sexy shifter short (say that five times fast) for box set.

But enough about me, I want to talk about you.

After a busy fall, I took some time to catch up on social media to see what ya’ll are up to. Yeah, I stalked you. Get over it.  It’s awesome to see the books that I remember you guys outlining coming out in the world!  It’s like watching people’s kids grow up.

But I also see some people who are faithfully revising the same manuscript they were working on when I met them a couple years ago. You guys are the ones I want to talk to today.  Or maybe you’re a new writer, and you’re nervous about showing other people your work.

I want to encourage you to take the next step. Let’s get some eyes on this puppy. I don’t mean your friends, I mean critique partners and developmental editors. Yes, I know your heart might stop beating for a minute when you hit send, and you’ll freak out like Julie and I used to when we were working on Because the Night and Running Home. But dooooo eeet.

Some of you might be published for the very first time when you submit to Julie’s Flash Fiction Showcase next month. Fuck yeah. Julie and I are very proud to be your first. That didn’t sound creepy at all. We’ve been the home of many first timers, like Beau Barnett and Zoey Derrick, who is now a publishing rock star!  I want to be Zoey when I grow up. For real.

Everyone says keep writing! More words will make you better! That’s true, but more editing is where you’re really going to grow.

Getting edited made me a better writer.

You might know that I write a lot. The word machine has been thrown around once or twice. So how do I do it?  Yes, butt in chair, of course. Now that I’ve had ten books (full length and novellas) edited, I am aware of my weaknesses. I love to put a comma after dialog when there’s no dialog tag. For example: “Kristen sucks at grammar,” She sipped her tea. I want an app that will give me an electric shock every time I do that. I love, love, love the word just. I used it four times in two sentences once. Call Guinness, please. I used to have my characters make their way places instead of walk or enter or simply (I almost typed just) go.

These are all things my editors have had to break me of like a wild mare.

Now, I don’t do them anymore. Well, I still love just. Me and just are BFFs. What does that really mean for my manuscripts? My editors can concentrate on things that really matter, like character development, plot, and flow.

When those notes come back, I work on strengthening those things. The next story, I’m aware of what I did wrong last time, and I can correct it in the first couple of drafts.  Now, my editors can go even deeper.

I can say with absolute certainty that the first draft of the story I’m working on now is light years better than the first draft of Because the Night. (God, that thing. I found the print out of it when I was cleaning my office, and I wanted to die of embarrassment reading it to myself.)

Another thing that will make you a better writer is critiquing your peers’ work. Everyone’s got their own personal just and making their way. Seeing other people’s work in this raw stage was so helpful for me. Helping other people weed out passive wording or repetitiveness made me aware of when I was slipping that shiz into my own work. I was able to obliterate it in draft one.  I learn more from doing this than I do from reading masterpieces.

You might not think you’re ready for editing, but what do you have to lose? A fresh, honest set of eyes are going to help you get ready for the next step.  You write alone, but you publish with a team.  If you’re thinking of submitting to the March Madness Flash Fiction Showcase, do it.  Let’s get these stories out in the world.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got lion smut to write and zumba to do.



TAKE BACK YOUR WRITING LIFE or Make a Damn New One with Julie

TODAY’S BREW: Fancy Mistobox blend with green apple and milk chocolate top notes. I KNOW.

By Julie

I used to pride myself on my 1000 word a day diet to get a book done. 1000 words every day no matter what, whether done from 5 in the morning to 7 or done in snippets of a sentence here and there all day, it’s how I got both THE HARPY and THE ANIMAL completed, as well as much of RUNNING HOME. But with RUNNING AWAY that structure didn’t work. And with my current novel, THE WIND BETWEEN WORLDS, there was just no way.

I was so proud of putting myself somewhere near the top of the priority list and not letting that 1000 words a day get brushed under the rug that when that structure didn’t work–because hey, things change and different books require different processes– I fell apart. My personal life was falling apart, and my writing life did the same. I’m talking for months on end. My writing was inconsistent, and for someone who knows that I need to write every day that’s baaaaad.

Just as fast as the routine fell apart, my world started to come back together again. I’m healthy (er), all my other things and people are stable. The time came to pick up the book I hadn’t given attention to for so long. The book with no outline, a 5 subject notebook full of research, dropped off at over 50,000 words. In the meantime it feels like everyone I lay eyes on is putting a book out, getting great reviews, writing 5000 words a day and complaining it’s not good enough.

Not daunting at all. Nope.


I had no excuses. Time to get to work if I wanted to be in league with them again.

Guys. I did it. I’m steadily doing my 1000 words a day again after not having done it for probably a year, and I’ll tell you how.

I changed my thinking.  My rules had been flushed down the toilet, and I made the suckers anyway. Time to let them go. The first thing to go was the rules for my sticker chart. The lovely Victoria Schwab inspired me to have a sticker chart for my writing accomplishments. Small sticker for 350 words (this is the minimum I allowed myself because in the words of my hero, Chuck Wendig, if you can’t do 350 words a day, 5 days a week, you don’t want to be a writer; you don’t GET to be a writer. (Note: I’m not knocking either of these thought processes, they’re the foundation on which I’ve built my writing routine, and like any system, it should evolve to stay relevant.) After looking at months of a sticker here and there, and general failure by my own standards, I decided that writing at all when I haven’t been is an accomplishment. BIG FUCKING STICKER for getting down 150 words when I didn’t think I had one in me. 4 stickers if I damn felt like it for 300 words. Maybe I only want one sticker. FINE.


Remember that your work has value.  I felt irrelevant. I’m sitting on a book that I pulled from my now former agent that I finished over a year ago. Still unpublished. I’m sitting on a book that’s been called “dangerous,” and not right for me right now. My vampire series isn’t new anymore by my own standard. So what the hell good was I in the writing community? Then a couple of things happened.

  • A few readers reached out that had just discovered RUNNING HOME and fell in love with it. Remember, fool. Just because the book has been out for a while doesn’t mean it’s not new to people who don’t know your work.
  • It gave me the courage to ask a couple of folks to read THE HARPY for me, now that it’s back in my own hands seeking publication. I just needed to hear from SOMEONE that it was worth reading.
  • A dear friend has been asking me for almost a year to read THE ANIMAL, at which I always claimed it wasn’t good enough, after it had been shot down by my agent. I finally said screw it, it has to be good enough because I’m not perfect and perfection isn’t real. I gave it to him to read and he loved it. Called it “amazing.”

Just because YOU feel down on your luck with your writing doesn’t mean it loses its value to others. Get excited to mean something to people again.

Screw the getting-to-know-you phase.  How do you just pick up a book you haven’t messed with forever and start writing again, especially if you’re a classic pantster like myself and don’t work with an outline? Of course, you need to re-read what you wrote, go back over your notes, watch all the movies that inspired you, take long walks and go to museums and climb a mountain for inner peace first.


I realized if I took the time to refamiliarize myself with the first 50K of THE WIND BETWEEN WORLDS that it would be another month before I started writing and by then I would have built up the pressure so much that I’d stumble and fall in the first paragraph.


So I just started writing. A paragraph or two here and there. I didn’t clean the desk first, buy all new pens, demand extreme quiet, none of that. I sat down and just did it. IF I MAKE WRITING AN OCCASION THAT REQUIRES FANFARE EVERY TIME I WILL NEVER GET TO IT. If you want it to be a routine, it has to fit into your life like all your other ones….toothbrushing, making coffee, checking your email. You don’t “get ready” for that stuff, you just do it. JUST DO THE WRITING.


I reintroduced rules when I could reach them.  Once I wrote a couple of chapters over a couple of weeks, I realized I was about 15,000 words from finishing this book! That sure happened fast! And if I DID sit down and do 1000 words a day, I could finish it in two weeks!

Don’t let your own rules hurt you.  When you look at 1000 words and it seems like a million, DON’T LOOK AT THE WORD COUNT. JUST WRITE STUFF. Put a piece of tape over the word count for chrissakes. Just write.

Be a better friend to yourself.  If a friend told you they only got 100 words written that day would you say to them that it sucked? No. You’d tell them “hey! 100 words more than yesterday!” Give yourself the same credit. Give yourself the same pat on the back. Treat yourself like you treat the ones you love. Make yourself a priority. Give yourself that 1000 words a day when you feel ready. It’s your gift to you. You’ll feel better afterward.

Speaking of feeling better….  The cookies I’d eat as a pre-comfort to writing? They made me feel like I was already nursing my wounds after failing at writing. I stress eat. So you know what? I stopped. Yeah, that’s right. I stopped. I EAT, man. I love to eat. But eating the crap I was while I was writing was not setting me up for success. It made me feel crappy, and when you feel crappy you think crappy. Then I’d get crappy results. Do I still eat cookies? Yes. But because I want them, not because I’m stressed out and feeling bad for myself. And when I got up from my laptop I felt good. And I wanted to go back to the laptop and do it again.

There you have it, guys. I hope it helped. Now get to work.

Happy Book Birthday, TOO MANY REASONS! Excerpt and Giveaway

 TMR - RDB Banner


TOO MANY REASONS (A Spotlight Series Novel) by Kristen Strassel is here! Check out the excerpt and giveaway below!


Title: TOO MANY REASONS (A Spotlight Series Novella)

Author: Kristen Strassel

Age: NA

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Release Date: February 9, 2015

Goodreads Page




Abby Gauthier is close to getting everything she’s worked so hard for. The band she manages, Sinister Riot, has been offered a major record contract. But it comes with a catch: the band must add Eli Jamison, winner of the talent show The Spotlight, to the lineup.

Devon Sinclair is the singer of Sinister Riot, and he’s Abby’s best friend. She’s in love with him, but fears she’ll lose him if she makes the first move. Devon knows adding Eli to the band is a mistake, and he’s right. Eli’s interested in more than just making an album. He wants to take control of the band, and he wants to get to know Abby better. A lot better. When tensions between Devon and Eli threaten to destroy Sinister Riot, Abby must act on her true feelings or lose everything she’s ever wanted.

“What the hell are you doing here? You scared the shit out of me.” He had a key, so it wasn’t like he didn’t have a permanent invite. But tonight? Come on.

“I wanted to make sure you got home safe.” He laid on the futon, one leg thrown over the back cushion. It didn’t appear that he was actually doing anything, but waiting for me. The cat was curled up on his stomach. Thank God Mallory still hadn’t come back. Or maybe not. She would have sent his ass packing.

“You could have just texted.” I took off my jacket and tossed it at him. Ziggy took offense, disappearing into some dark corner. I refused to sit next to him, instead I sank into the bean bag chair to unlace my boots. After dancing for a good part of the night, my feet were begging me to take them off. I hadn’t noticed until now.

“You didn’t answer me earlier.” He watched my fingers free my legs from the ties. Once I was only in my socks, I curled my legs under my body, but sitting practically on the floor made me feel too small and Devon too big. He was acting like an irrational asshole and I didn’t want to give him any more power. I practically jumped to my feet.

“Because I was out. With someone. And I didn’t want to be rude like some people and spend the whole night on the phone texting someone else.” Like Devon did with Lexi when he went out with me. I filled a glass with water and drank it all in one long sip. “Did I need to be concerned? Was I out with a serial killer?”

Devon scoffed. “No.”

“So what you really wanted to do was make sure I didn’t bring him upstairs with me.” I crossed my arms and started pacing in front of him. I wanted to ask him about all the things Eli had told me he’d said, but it just seemed petty. “What would you have done if I had?”

“You can do whatever you want, Abby.” He sat up, raking his fingers through his hair. “Where’d you go?”


“Shrimp and grits? Hurricanes?”

I nodded. “Then I took him to—“

“The Apple Barrel.” Devon finished my sentence as he sat up. “All the things we like to do.”

“All the things I like to do, with any good company.” I stopped, arms still crossed. “Would you even be here if I’d gone out with anyone else?” I wondered if Devon had known about my date before he’d texted me tonight.

“I don’t know.” Our eyes locked in fury and frustration. “He didn’t even kiss you.”

“That’s not true.” My whole body shook.

Devon’s lips turned upward, a half-smile. “Your lip gloss is still perfect.”

“Maybe I put more on.”

“To come upstairs?” He shook his head. “No, you didn’t.”

“Why do you even care? Do you want to kiss me?” I couldn’t believe I actually said it. Out loud. A couple of drinks and one date and I was feeling really cocky.

In slow motion, Devon pushed himself up off the futon so he stood just inches from me. I didn’t move, or even uncross my arms. He rested his hands on my elbows, and looked down at me in a way he never had before. Like he was seeing me for the first time. My heart slammed against my ribcage for the second time that night, and I was glad my arms were there to keep everything in place. He ran his teeth against his lip ring, drawing my eyes to the motion. He closed his eyes and leaned forward.

I’d pictured this moment a thousand times, so some of it seemed very familiar to me: the chunk of hair that fell in his eyes as he lowered his face to mine, the way his bottom lip moved against his teeth when he felt unsure of himself.

No. It wasn’t supposed to be like this.

I turned my head and his lips brushed against my cheek. “Don’t.” I could barely speak.

“Abby.” His fingers moved against the back of my arm and I shivered. His words were so soft, if we weren’t so close I might not have heard them. “You asked me what I wanted.”

Frozen in place, I stared at my shoes next to the bean bag. “I don’t want you to do this because you’re pissed off that I went out with Eli,” I whispered. Eight years I waited for him to finally make that move, and I think I had the right to lay some ground rules. If I was going to kiss him, it wasn’t going to be cheap and full of regret. “That’s not how I want this to be.”








$10 Amazon Gift Card

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TODAY’S BREW: Coconut Justice. (not what it’s really called but I like this better.)

By Julie

We’ve run many flash fiction series over here, and it’s been too long. I love love love giving a supportive, fun environment for all writers, especially new ones, to put up a snippet of their work. I love having a place where writers feel safe enough to put up their work and show us what they’re capable of, many for the first time ever. The amazing Zoey Derrick, erotic and paranormal romance author put up her first piece here! Our good friend Beau Barnett cried when he put his first piece up on Deadly Ever After and has been published since. My own brother in law came out of his shell and put up a short story for our Nightmares Before Christmas series. And what I love the most is how all of these writers congratulated each other, commented on the stories, shared them on Facebook and Twitter, and made sharing their imaginations feel as good as it should.

Related, lately I’ve been given an incredible amount of support from people regarding my struggles with Sam and his OCD, as well as my recent surgery and alllllll the mental and emotional backlash from this stuff. Specifically my friends on Twitter have been relentlessly at my side with incredible words of encouragement, reminding me that I matter to them, sending me gifts, for crying out loud, praising my books…. It’s amazing, and I’m DESPERATE to find a way to thank everyone.

This is for you.

Next month, get all your non-sports related March Madness fun right here in the form of boatloads of flash fiction stories (1000 words or less) about MADNESS. Madness can mean a lot of things. Insanity, naturally. Madly in love, obsessive, crime stories, Alice in Wonderland-esque worlds, anything your little heart desires.

No rules. Except madness, less than 1000 words. Get it to me by 2/28.

Maybe you write romance and want to put a spin on madness. Maybe you write horror and want to try romance. Maybe you write erotica or sci fi and want to try something totally new. Let me be your host to give it a shot. Maybe you’ve not written a damn thing in two years. Give it a try again. Maybe you’ve never written ANYTHING but you want to. Let me be the one who helps you.

I want to make you guys feel as good as you’ve made me feel. And for those of you who don’t know me, know that I want to help you get your voice out there. I just do.

Remember when you send me your story to give me links to your books, or your blog, or your Facebook and Twitter, or nothing at all if you like. But I’d love to say, “GET MORE OF THIS INCREDIBLE PERSON RIGHT HERE.”

I believe in you guys.


Julie Becomes a Self Help Guru or Something

TODAY’S BREW: Mistobox Colombia Banexport. Coffee that makes me feel as important as the person who gave it to me does.

By Julie 

One month into this year and I’ve already had a boatload on the agenda. Surgery, a million doc appointments, recovery from said surgery which is more mentally draining than physically, a hundred and fifty snow days from school, Ben’s birthday, a lot of emotional (and A LOT of hormonal) trouble.

And yet, though it’s already been an incredibly taxing year, one that I’ve emotionally hit bottom in a little, I feel better still than I did in all of 2014 probably.

But in 2014 I TRIED so hard, I set so many expectations of myself, tried to stay ahead of the curve of all the things that were assaulting me and my family, and I failed. I. Failed.

I’ve refused to let that follow me into 2015. I have intended to make this year as good as last year was difficult.

I’ve grown to realize a lot this week alone. One thing I knew going into 2015 was that perfection is not going to occur. But how I deal with my difficulties and traumas can change. My reactions and my expectations can change. So I’m changing them:

  • I recognized an emotional descent into Hades and I called a hotline. Trying to work it out myself has not done me any good. It may have saved me until the next 5 minutes, but it didn’t HELP me. So I called a hotline that could help me just by acknowledging that I KNOW I’m in trouble. And that alone felt brave and proactive. (I’ll talk a helluva lot more about that in another post.)
  • I listened to doctor’s orders. Had surgery. I feel (physically) GREAT and did literally the day after. But I’m not to exercise, lift anything heavier than 30 pounds (including Sam, which I do by the minute usually), and I’m to get plenty of rest. Though I heal with Wolverine speed, I’m shutting up and listening. I’m not a doctor, and pushing myself is only going to have me working at half-Julie in some capacity again sometime soon.
  • I’m listening to my own self-diminishing thoughts. And purging them.  Having had such a hard time recently, and being one who likes to help people as much as I can, I’ve felt like an absolute life-suck for some time. I’ve tried to convince myself that asking for help and not being the one to help everyone is okay, it’s smart, it’s courageous. But it doesn’t feel that way. It feels like my life is one big emotional handout. I can’t get past it. So I have to start doing what I can do which is LISTEN when people say that I’m important in their lives and try to give back the way I am accustomed to.
  • Purging self-diminishing thoughts, continued: Every time I think something like “I don’t deserve to be sitting here, reading,” “All I do is crybaby and people still talk to me,” “I can’t do anything right (spurned by something as simple as not getting a stain out of a shirt)”, I’ve started writing it down in a pretty pink notebook. I’ve already started looking at those words and seeing how INSANE some of them are. But they’re mine and they’re mine to get rid of.
  • Realizing that because the world sees me as strong that I assume responsibility for every. little. thing.   Just now, Bennett was bored. That’s my fault. Sam has to nap after his meds, my fault. I say the wrong thing, I’ve ruined everything and nobody will want to talk to me again. The wallpaper is peeling, I’m a terrible mother. I spent time alone in my room and felt awful that I was wasting family time. Seriously. I’m crying right now because my kid is seeing me cry and I think it will do some irreparable damage to him. I have to try to realize that every single thing I do does not mean life or death for everyone, and that just because I’m important doesn’t mean the world will end without me.
  • I asked people to read an unpublished work.  It’s being resubmitted now and I don’t need critique on it, but I wanted someone to know the book like I did and be able to say sometimes, “this is good. This is important. You’re not just Ellie Morgan and Nicholas French and that’s it.”
  • Eating what IS better for me, not just what will FEEL better for me.  I’ll push myself until I feel “well fuck this, I deserve to eat an entire cake.” Tastes good, doesn’t feel good. So I’m working hard to make smart food choices which has helped a lot. Lettuce instead of bread. Water and ginger ale (a comfort food I’ve really clung to recently) instead of all coffee all the time. Instead of a cookie every time I walk in the kitchen, a couple of tiny cookies with a cup of coffee. And letting myself have what I want when the time is right because I don’t want to feel like I’m punishing myself for not being as thin as I was 10 years ago.
  • Sitting up straight, taking deep breaths, having mini meditations all day, and wearing lipstick even when I’m home. 
  • Realizing that my own writing deadlines may be doing me more harm than good. 
  • Drinking.  Yes, drinking. I had champagne last night and just picked up my laptop and started writing. I haven’t had a casual drink for a long time. All it’s done is add to my irritation when asked by a doctor if I drink, smoke, do drugs, have any history of x diseases and I say “no” only to find out I have some uber weird physical shit wrong with me anyway. That champagne felt GOOD. And yes, I said some risky stuff on Twitter, and felt guilty about it later, but then I realized IT’S OKAY. When have I EVER been afraid to say what I feel like saying as long as I’m not hurting anyone? So yeah, a drink here and there is on the agenda. Hell, Kristen and I used to drink ourselves silly every Monday night and we got so much writing done it was crazy. I need to loosen up the brain muscles, let myself create instead of letting myself “work.”
  • Helping people.  I feel like a better person when I’m helping people. So as soon as I called that hotline the other day, I contacted someone I knew was having similar issues and told her I was thinking of her, and that I think we should blog together about our experiences. I want to run a short story series again like we did in the good old days on the blog (surprise, Kristen) and help some new writers get their feet wet. I want to give back so I don’t always feel like I’m taking.
  • Surrounding myself with people when I’m at my worst.  I spent 7 hours at a playdate the other day because I knew that being alone would only open me up for more overthinking. And I was right. I played Twister, had pizza with friends, talked to adults, connected outside of my home. And I said out loud, “there is nothing else I can be doing right now. Only this.” And it felt damn good.
  • Finally, recognizing that my harmful thoughts are very much a product of my physical state post surgery and not “just my head.”  And vice versa. Just because it’s triggered by my hormones doesn’t mean it isn’t real. The depression is there no matter what right now, despite its causes, and that’s important. Letting myself accept that I’m a work in progress is a big change.

I’ve always been of the mind that any change is good. Trying anything is a good idea. Not staying stagnant is smart. And so far, I’ve been goddamn right. This isn’t me telling a depressed person to “cheer up” or sending them funny memes of a cat eating celery or something. It’s me saying that you can be part of your own change to get better. Growth should never stop, you owe that to yourself. Remember that you don’t have to have all the answers, but you can try to come up with them. You can make up your own. And for just that one simple thing, you are important.

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