Deadly Ever After

The Writing Adventures of The Undead Duo–Julie Hutchings and Kristen Strassel

Archive for the month “January, 2016”

When Compromise is Fear by Julie

TODAY’S BREW: Chocolate Mint now and forever

By Julie

So last time we talked, I was feeling pretty grim. Looking at a reality where I might not be able to write for a living, looking at an end date when I would finally have to admit I couldn’t live off of what I love. It looked like facing reality but what it was really something else.

Fear.

Fear that once I had MORE time to write, with both kids in school full-time, that even then I wouldn’t be able to call it a job and be able to pay a bill with it.

Fear of going back to a job where I can’t be me all of the time. Every single second of the time.

Fear of not being able to give my kids THINGS, giant things because explaining to them that are better gifts than things feels like failure.

Fear of not being able to write another book.

Fear of changing my jump in with both feet approach to writing into a next-stage serious commitment to make it work no matter what.

Fear of being selfish.

I’ve always prided myself on being flexible, on being able to not look at one choice as the only choice. Being able to compromise and not let it feel like defeat, it’s part of what makes me a leader and a person that people look to when they feel despair.

It doesn’t mean that I’m not prone to despair, too. But no matter how grim things can get in my mind, I face them. Expressing my fear, my desperation and hopelessness, but still staying the course is my strength. Looking at that in times of difficulty as beating a dead horse rather than seeing it as unwavering dedication is okay–I’m human. And being human, vulnerable, is what makes me a good mom, a good leader, a good writer.

So it’s in this knowledge that I say there is a time when being flexible isn’t an option. As a leader, it is my job to see the forest for the trees, and to look up from the rocks at my feet and climb over the boulder in front of me. As a mom it’s my job to show my kids that having a bottom line that is absolutely solid and unquestionable is courageous. It’s okay for me to say, “No. This is what I need for me. My self-care is crucial for me to keep being the me that you need, and the absolute pinnacle of my self-care is knowing that there iare some things that I not only can’t give up, I won’t give up.”

Writing and being the person to challenge ideas and rules and make my own is at the core of my being. It is who I am, not just part of who I am. Everything else stems from those things.

The idea of sacrificing those things was me internally saying I would die for my family’s betterment. Because stopping this passion to go back to an environment that stripped me of myself is a death sentence–it physically nearly killed me before, more than once, and mentally I still survived. Emotionally I bottomed out, long-term, and yet I still managed to write. I couldn’t stop.

I actually thought in my head and gave in for a few days there, that I would just work myself to death because I gave it a go, and writing didn’t work. But I was wrong to think that a dream has an expiration date. I refuse to allow it to. I’m Wolverine when he faces the torrent of wounds that Dark Phoenix throws at him, and still he trudges forward, knowing there is no other way. No compromise. I’m some historical general that drove his soldiers to near extinction and utter hatred of him, and still stayed the course. Fanatical, maybe. Driven. Determined.

Unafraid.

Absolutely.

When the Dream Is Still a Dream by Julie

TODAY’S BREW: Dunkin Donuts White Peppermint Something or Other

By Julie

I’m lucky enough to hear often that I inspire people. To hear that makes me stronger, and I’m already pretty strong. But I feel weak often, and that’s okay too.

For all the wonderful people that tell me how much my optimism in times of difficulty is inspirational, know that there are many times I don’t want to go on.

Know that there are many times I get impatient with waiting for an agent to love my book.

Know that there are days I spend more time crying than not crying.

The worst of this is that I truly do not get saddened by rejections from literary agents. I write what I need to write, and I’m not looking for approval. Same goes for my occasional bad review. That stuff is par for the course, and I love the course! The hardest part of being a writer for a living is that it’s not always a living. It’s like any self-employed person goes through, of course. You don’t turn a profit for a while. I’M okay with that. Seeing what it does to my family because we aren’t financially stable is what hurts. Knowing that I can’t throw the big birthday party for my kids  partly because I’m working for the greater good, but partly because I’m selfish and afraid NOT to write for a living. The idea of going back to work is absolutely terrifying to me. I’ve only recently seen my nightmares subside about working. So when seeing that my husband works more because I can’t, it hurts. When I don’t run things fantastically well at home all the time, I feel horribly guilty and wonder who I’m helping by being at home with the kids. Not being able to have enough money in the bank to see my husband be able to breathe a sigh of relief is partly my fault, and at one point I will need to remedy it–get a full-time job and stop writing–because I cannot do both and pay proper attention to my family–or make writing work.

When it’s impossible to see what MORE I can possibly do to make my writing career succeed, it hurts to acknowledge that there has to be a time when I say it’s affecting my family the wrong way. That quitting my job to live the dream would have been nice if the dream came true. That I tried. God, I hate TRYING. Do or do not, there is no try. And I don’t want to stop, but it looms overhead that someday I may need to. I hate that with more fire inside me than you can imagine.

The moral of the story is, writers’ lives aren’t easy. Sure, it can be rough to get rejections and bad reviews, but quite honestly I love all of it! I love that stuff because it means I’m making a mark, and that I’m progressing. I’m meeting my quota, getting my initiation. I would be perfectly happy having my cult following forever, never getting a huge book deal if my family didn’t suffer for it. I don’t write to be rich, but I do need to contribute. It’s a sad feeling, but sadder is that contribution has to be monetary no matter how much work you put in that has no price on it.

So writers, and all of you who have a bigger plan out there, I understand. I see the guilt, I feel the heartbreak of not having great news for your loved ones, I see the sacrifices. And yes, keep trying. I’ll not stop until I absolutely must. All parts of my fight won’t be pretty ones. But it’s my fight and until it starts falling to my family’s responsibility, I will be happy to wear my armor.

Happy Book Birthday, Shelter Me!

Today’s Brew: who ever knew I’d prefer black coffee???

by Kristen

It’s the new moon, and another Sawtooth Shifter finds his mate. We haven’t heard from the Channings in a few months, and there was no way I’d leave Dallas hanging.

Dallas and Lyssie have been in each other’s sights for a while now. They were together at the shelter when Dallas was rescued, and spent some quality time together while the threat from Ryker loomed large, but they were both gun shy about making a commitment. Let’s be plain about what they were actually doing: being stupid. They were waiting for everything to be perfect before they moved forward, until they learned there is no perfect, there’s only forward, whether we’re ready for it or not.

Sometimes when I read over a story in editing or for whatever reason, I’m in shock that I actually put those words together in that exact way.  Shelter Me is one of those stories. I didn’t realize how much I would identify with Lyssie when I sat down with this story. Like Lyssie, I’m guilty of waiting this perfect thing that doesn’t exist. I like to think of myself as this fearless badass, but sometimes I get punched right in the face with the reality that I’m not.

In the middle of writing Shelter Me, someone tried to burn my apartment building down. There were two small fires intentionally set. No one was hurt, and the fires were caught in time that we didn’t lose any material things. No arrests were ever made.

I couldn’t stay there anymore. That morning, I lost my home. I’m in a new place now. I know I’m lucky, because I was able to move to a nicer place that technically makes a lot more sense for me (much closer to the city for the day job, and no more trips to the dreaded laundromat!). But that feeling of coming back at the end of the day and being able to simply exhale and let go hasn’t followed me here yet. I’m hoping it’s just taking the scenic route, because I miss that feeling. A lot. While I’d known I had to move for a long time, I kept putting up with a lot of unnecessary shit because the devil I knew seemed easier than taking a chance on something new.

That fearless badass is still here. She needed a little kickstart. Just like Lyssie. Making the best of the worst is what makes us appreciate all the little things that make life great.

Shelter Me Teaser 1

Shelter Me isn’t a downer, I promise you. There are tons of light-hearted moments and appearances from our favorite wolves and the Forever Home crew. And of course, some smokin’ hot sex. The Sawtooth Shifters never disappoint in that department.

And if you don’t believe me, here’s some more teasers:

SHELTER ME TEASER 3

SHELTER ME TEASER 2

My next move is definitely to Granger Falls, Idaho. There’s got to be a couple of unattached wolves still roaming Sawtooth. (If only the town really existed!)

ShM_F

Amazon: http://amzn.to/1Qh7uuJ
Amazon UK: http://amzn.to/1Z91FAY
Amazon AU: http:// http://bit.ly/1ZelODY
Amazon CA: http://amzn.to/1OccGwy
iBooks: http://apple.co/221P3hj
BN: http://bit.ly/1PiRgeW
Kobo: http://bit.ly/1Z88zWZ
ARE: http://bit.ly/1SCXz2c
Google Play: http:// http://bit.ly/1N0IUqz

Check out an excerpt from Shelter Me here.

Haven’t started the series yet?  Forever Home is free.

My Fight

TODAY’S BREW: Starbucks with Kristen

“I’m so sick of having something wrong with me. I don’t even want to talk to anyone, I feel like it’s all they see.”

This was my text to Kristen this morning, and the real reason why I haven’t been blogging. Yes, a vacation to enjoy the holidays with my family–which I did, I really, really did. Despite All The Things Wrong With Me.

You don’t see it here much. And I try not to talk about it much, because even though every woman on the planet has a period, I still feel like it’s something we hide. And of course we feel that way, but that’s another blog post.

This one is about how I forever have some weird goddamn thing wrong with me, often related, sometimes not, nobody knows and it keeps getting worse. And now it’s just plain crippling. Let’s give you the December Weirdness which brought it to a whole new level.

The week before Christmas I had a hairy-feeling throat. Like someone had waxed their legs and somehow that wax strip ended up in my throat and I had the sniffles. Didn’t hurt, I could swallow, eat, but my tongue was white and it felt like Chewbacca throat. Weird enough that I went to the clinic, afraid it was a thing I could give to my kids. My throat was all red, but my tonsils were good, I didn’t have strep, no fever, was hydrated, taking allllllll my vitamins (of which there are many), and had a good temp and blood pressure.  That lasted for two days. Then gone, like none of it ever happened. Throat all better, nose clear.

The next two days I had such physical soreness on both sides that I couldn’t be touched. The kids couldn’t hug me, it hurt to wear clothes. I had the occasional stabbing pain in my left side. Figuring kidney infection? Though I had none of the other symptoms at all, I called the doctor who insisted I go to urgent care. The lovely, wonderful doctor there (who said something to me I’m not likely to forget: “you’re minimizing your pain. Don’t minimize your pain.”), tried so hard to figure out what was wrong. I had the best blood pressure I’ve ever had, no temp, no other pain, same as before. But because of my shortness of breath the two days earlier, he ordered me to immediately go to the hospital and get a chest x-ray, bloodwork, and a kidney ultrasound. Made me an appointment for an hour after, and boy that was fun, getting the kids from school and finding someone to watch them through that. By the time I got to the hospital the stabbing pains in my side had me crying out in pain while waiting for my stuff to get done.

And guess what? Everything was normal. Yaaaaaaay, right?

Then I figure out that it all happened with the timing of when I usually suffer PMDD. This is a Feels Like It’s Made Up premenstrual disorder that I am the absolute poster girl for, right down to the occasional thoughts of suicide coinciding with my period. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Premenstrual_dysphoric_disorder

My symptoms generally start about 10 days before my period and disappear like magic after it. But this? Pain that lands me in the hospital for 5 hours the day before Christmas eve? And this time, the emotional symptoms didn’t go away, when surprise, two days after they started, the kidney thing did go away.

Every month like clockwork I suffer debilitating anxiety and depression for two days at the start of my period or the two days before. It causes me to villainize the people I love most for the most minor thing, which then convinces me they don’t love me, and then I tell them to go away and find someone better to spend their time with. Often this leads to suicidal thoughts, it always leads to utter hopelessness, where everything contributes to my sadness from the washing machine leaking to getting a rejection letter. All of it adds up to not having a life worth living except for that people depend on me. It’s not how I feel any other time of the month generally, and even though I see it coming, I can do nothing to stop it. I guess that happens when you have “an unhealthy amount of bleeding” monthly that just plain comes with having a fibroid in your uterus that nobody wants to remove.

If it seems like I’m rambling, it’s because the anxiety still has not dissipated and I can’t focus on anything at all. Making me more anxious. Usually getting out of the house helps, but this month it made me a disaster. I was twitchy, nervous, kept dropping things, couldn’t concentrate. Still feel that way. I had an actual dream of dropping the peanut butter jar and woke myself jumping up to grab it. I can’t slow my head down. And to this minute I’m taking the 800mg ibuprofen prescribed to me for the kidney pain to deal with the breast tenderness that is worse than the kidney pain was.

This all can be attributed to my hormones, maybe? But then I start thinking of the extensive list of other things that have gone wrong with me that have doctors rubbing their hands with experimental delight when I enter the office. Things I’ve never gotten answers to. High prolactin levels that had me getting brain scans and taking tumor shrinking meds–when I didn’t have a tumor. The sudden appearance of an uber rare fibroid tumor that had to be removed immediately. A sickening burning pain under my ribs that we inspected with tubes in every part of my body, to find nothing. Rectocoele, which happens during childbirth, not to be discovered often for months or years later–except I had my kids by C-section.

Emotionally, this has left me feeling like The Girl Who Never Shuts Up, The Girl Who Never Has Good News, The Girl Who Cries Medical Problem, and The Girl Who Feels Really, Really Happy Just Being Who I Am, But Is Constantly Kicked In The Lady Parts.

I’m finally now getting to a point where the illness is my life, not just part of it. I’ve always been very proud that I can smile through sickness, of which I’ve had plenty not even listed here, and that it doesn’t stop me. Now, it’s stopping me. Stopping me from feeling like a worthwhile human. Stopping me from being unstoppable. I can deal with any amount of pain if I can see the end in sight, if I know it’s being solved. Now, I just wait to see what will happen next. It’s making me a sad person. I get sad, like all people do, but I’ve never been a sad person. I don’t want to be.

There’s no uplifting message to this blog, guys. There’s not a moral or a joke at the end. I’m feeling defeated, and the only thing holding me down is that I don’t want to live like a wounded person. I want to be strong. And I can’t. Hopefully for the next year on this blog you’ll see that disappear and see the old Julie come back. But fighting is something we all have to do, and this is my fight.

 

 

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