IT FALLS APART e-book cover reveal!

 

Are you ready for it?

I'm thrilled to share with you the shiny, new e-book cover for IT FALLS APART

 
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I hope you love it as much as I do! We have just over a month to go before the e-book launch of IT FALLS APART and I can't wait for the entire novel to be bundled up in one fun, flirty, little package :) 

If you haven't already, please find me on social media (I'm now on Instagram @authorkatpaws), and/or sign up for email updates (in the sidebar -->) to keep up with the latest, and stay in the loop on when the e-book edition of IT FALLS APART hits Amazon for pre-order. I'm hoping anyone who's read the book already (or even just checked it out) will consider leaving a review at that time since, good or bad, reviews are worth their weight in gold to indie authors and it would mean SO MUCH to me.

That's all for today! I'll be posting more fun, e-book-related news in the coming weeks, but in the meantime, I'd love to hear what you think of that shiny, new cover! Come @ me with your reactions! 


IT FALLS APART

By: Kate Pawson Studer
E-book release date: June 28, 2018
Publisher: Kindle Direct Publishing

About the Book

There’s no one more tempting than the person you’re not supposed to touch…

When Harper Donnelly’s best friend, Chloe, moves out-of-state halfway through their senior year, she figures things can’t get much worse. But then Nan, her grandmother and sole guardian, falls ill, throwing Harper’s life into chaos. Hoping to lighten Nan’s burden, Harper dives headfirst into helping with the family business, shuttling tourists from the airport. The job itself is easy enough, except it brings her into regular contact with Chloe’s ex-boyfriend, Luke, who's been kinda broody since Chloe left—and kinda gorgeous since forever.

Harper has never been particularly fond of Luke, but with Chloe gone, she starts noticing a different side to him, one that makes her pulse race, and soon their stumbled-upon friendship evolves into something far more intense. Keeping their relationship a secret isn’t so hard—it’s even kind of exciting—until Chloe unexpectedly returns for the summer, leaving Harper torn between the guy she’s definitely falling for, and the best friend she swore she’d never betray.

 

inspiring IT FALLS APART

Hello again! Two blogs in a row? What is this, Disneyland? No, it's not. And no, that didn't make much sense, so let's move on. As I mentioned at the end of yesterday's exciting announcement about the release date for the e-book of IT FALLS APART (June 28th) and the shiny, new cover coming on May 21st (have you signed up for email updates yet? --->), today I'm going to treat you to a little taste of how things appeared in my mind's eye as I wrote IT FALLS APART. Often, when I start a new story, I have a very rough idea of what I want my characters to look like. Sometimes they're based on specific actors or fictional characters while other times they're closer to some composite of elements I've formed in my brain. Sometimes they're a little fuzzier and less well-defined, but start to take shape as I write, leading me to later identify them with someone in particular. In the case of IT FALLS APART, I had a pretty clear idea of what one particular character looked like, but the others were more in that fuzzy zone, where I had a rough idea, but not a specific person in mind. So to help me with the process, I started to look for images that might help me fully flesh out the characters and settings in the book, so I could turn to them whenever I wanted to get a strong visual.

When it comes to "casting" characters in my books, I tend to avoid really mainstream blockbuster actors and actresses who've already made too strong an impression on me, especially if they're already in big YA franchises that have left them as someone very specific in my head. In other words, as lovely as she is, it's unlikely any of my protagonists will ever be the spitting image of J-Law. That said, there are times when someone is just the right match, and as long as my brain can make the connection without seeing the a-lister as someone else, they end up being a good fit. 

So, how do I (roughly) picture Harper, Luke, Chloe, and Meera? Let's take a look:

Alicia von Rittberg as Harper Donnelly

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Honestly, I don't know much about Alicia von Rittberg. I just know that when I saw some pictures of her, I said, "That's what Harper looks like, except Harper has darker hair." Sometimes casting my main protagonist is hardest because she's the most like me of all the characters, and I want my readers to be able to identify with her too. I often don't include detailed physical descriptions in any of my books because I really do like my readers to be able to picture the characters however they want to. I'll give little hints about hair color or length, but if the reader wants to picture Harper as a different ethnicity, I want them to be able to do that without too much trouble. It's hard. I know some people like a lot of physical description so they can really picture the characters as I do, but I suppose this post is for them! This is Harper to me. A pretty girl-next-door. Casual, confident, and beautiful, without looking too-unrealistically-Hollywood gorgeous.

Jeremy Irvine as Luke Coleman

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Of course, Luke has to be a babe. But he also has to capture that boy-next-door quality too. Casting the heroes in my books is also often a challenge because again, I want someone who is definitely hot enough to be a supermodel, but doesn't look like he was born to walk the runway. Jeremy Irvine captures the Luke look to me. Very cute, gorgeous lips, but you could still picture him working in the barn at the inn. Not a "pretty boy", though he is very pretty to look at. I think Harper would more than approve :)

Tanvi Ganesh Lonkar as Meera Chabra

 
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With Hollywood still coming up short with regards to casting diversity, there isn't exactly a large selection of young, Indian actresses to consider when it comes to casting someone like Meera. Hopefully one day there will be a significantly larger pool of Indian actresses to consider, but I did do some research into Bollywood films to see if I could find someone who fit the image of Meera I had in my head. In the end, nobody quite clicked until I found Tanvi Ganesh Lonkar, who actually is of Hollywood ilk, playing in Slumdog Millionaire. As soon as I saw Tanvi, I knew she was Meera, right down to her mostly sweet, but a little bit sassy smile.

Chloë Grace Moretz as Chloe Pascal

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Chloë is Chloe. She's always been Chloe. She's the reason Chloe was named Chloe. I think CGM is a very cool young woman (having loved her since Kick-Ass) and I think my Chloe is a very cool young woman too. Yes, in a story where we're rooting for Harper and Luke, there may be an underlying desire to see Chloe as the enemy, but really, she's not. She's Harper's BFF for a reason. She's sweet and funny with a big heart. It would have been easy to write her as a bad person, or someone Harper could easily have a falling out with to pave the way for her and Luke hooking up, but no. Whether it's Harper and Chloe or Harper and Meera, strong female friendships were an important component of IT FALLS APART as I set out to write and I hope Chloe comes across as lovely and likable even if she is a pretty big obstacle for Harper and Luke.

So, that's it for casting. I almost never bother to cast the adult characters in my books (Nan is every awesome grandma you've ever met all rolled into one), and I haven't yet taken the time to cast side characters like Yuvin, Carter, Lewis, or Eden. I have images of them in my mind, but they're still in that fuzzy state. And like I said, I really do like my readers to be able to imagine the characters for themselves. In fact, if you've been picturing them a certain way, I'd love to hear about it in the comments!

Before I sign off on this post, I'll share a few more bonus images with you, which I also had saved in my inspiration folder for IT FALLS APART:

The main house at the Coleman Country Inn

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A guest cabin at The Coleman Country Inn

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Harper and Nan's cottage-like home

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Berne Harbor, based on Bar Harbor, Maine

I've never been to Bar Harbor (or Maine for that matter--YET), but I based the fictional town of Berne Harbor on it because it perfectly captures everything I wanted Harper's touristy hometown to be.

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Harper's prom dress

I'd love to include Meera's prom dress too, but that one was 100% from my brain and I'm yet to stumble across an image that captures it. 

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exciting e-book news!

 
 Pre-release promo cover for radish

Pre-release promo cover for radish

 

Hello blog followers and friends! I can’t believe IT FALLS APART has been out in the world (okay, not in its entirety YET) for over a month now. I can't believe it's been a #1 bestseller on the Radish YA/TEEN list for the past 15 days in a row! And I can’t believe we only have SIX more episodes to go! For those who’ve been reading, thank you so much for devoting a portion of your precious reading time to my words and for supporting me as an indie author. I appreciate it deeply and hope you’re enjoying the story so far! For those who haven’t had a chance to check it out, or are waiting for the e-book (or are reading it on Radish AND want to further support me by adding the ebook to their collection), I have some exciting news to share! 

The e-book of IT FALLS APART will officially be available for your reading and re-reading pleasure on Thursday, June 28, 2018. And in addition to capturing the entire novel in a single volume for the first time, the e-book will also feature an all-new cover (i.e. NOT the one pictured above) that I’m very excited to share with you SOON. In fact, the lovely new cover be making its debut here on the blog on Monday, May 21st. BUT WAIT! THERE’S MORE EXCITING NEWS! Newsletter subscribers are going to get to see it even sooner! That’s right, anyone who’s signed up for my (exciting updates only, I promise) newsletter will get a sneak peak of the e-book cover on Wednesday, May 16th, almost a full week ahead of everyone else! How cool and exclusive is that? The answer is very cool and very exclusive. Maybe even too exclusive, but hey, I like you guys, so it’s all good. And of course, in addition to getting early access to the cover, you’ll also never miss an update about what’s happening with future releases, including firsthand scoop on when the IT FALLS APART e-book becomes available for pre-order on Amazon—AND I may have a few other exclusive goodies up my sleeve as well...

So, if you’re so inclined, please take a moment to sign up right here on the site. On desktop, you can find the super-easy signup box right there on the righthand sidebar of this page. If you’re on mobile, you will probably have to scroll down a bit until you see it, but once you’re there, you’re just a few keystrokes away from never missing out. 

I’ll be back here on the blog tomorrow to share some of the images I used for inspiration while writing IT FALLS APART. Dream casting anyone? Come back tomorrow to see how Harper, Luke, Chloe, and Meera all appeared in my mind's eye as I brought them to life on the page. 

first kisses to melt your everything

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There's a bit of kissing going down in this week's chapters of IT FALLS APART--okay, there's A LOT of kissing cause, come on guys, KISSING. Fun fact: There is a folder on my computer called "Kissing". It's a wonderful place, where kissing-related images and inspiration go to make out. 

ANYWAYS, in addition to all the kissing (did I mention there's KISSING?), IT FALLS APART also hit #1 on the YA/Teen list last night AND flew past 50k views this morning! I AM DEAD. 

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You guys. That's a lot of views! I'm not-so-kinda blown away. You guys are the best. Seriously. You're right up there with my kissing folder. Okay, you're better than my kissing folder.  I can think of no better way to celebrate these milestones (and the kissing) than with a rundown of some of the best TV kisses to ever lock lips. If you're not swooning by the end of this list, you're dead inside. Or a robot. Or something. 

(Disclaimer: I wanted to include even more swoony first kisses, but couldn't find all of them online so if your fav kiss is missing, I apologize!)

In no particular order, let's get romantic:

Logan and Veronica, VERONICA MARS

Tim and Lyla, FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS

Fitz and Simmons, MARVEL'S AGENTS OF SHIELD

Mindy and Danny, THE MINDY PROJECT

Chuck and Sarah, CHUCK

Jeff and Annie, COMMUNITY

Chuck and Blair, GOSSIP GIRL

Hanna and Caleb, PRETTY LITTLE LAIRS

Cosima and Delphine, ORPHAN BLACK

Josh and Donna, THE WEST WING

Pacey and Joey, DAWSON'S CREEK

Blaine and Kurt, GLEE

Betty and Jughead, RIVERDALE

Castle and Beckett, CASTLE

Luke and Lorelai, GILMORE GIRLS 

Jim and Pam, THE OFFICE

Mulder and Scully, THE X-FILES

What's your favourite TV kiss?

exciting news!

If you're checking out IT FALLS APART in the next week or so, you may notice something a little different about it. Radish has reached out to me about featuring it on the homepage of the app as part of a spring-themed promotion, which is VERY EXCITING! except my cover isn't very spring-like. So for the duration of the promotion (and maybe beyond?) IT FALLS APART will have a new cover on Radish! Check it out on the app and let me know what you think! Should I go back to the old cover after the promotion--or keep the new?

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only just begun

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Holy meatball sandwiches, you guys. The past (nearly) two weeks have been a nonstop whirlwind of excitement, ambition, surprise, and more gratitude than my heart can contain. I've said before that writing with the goal of being published (but not yet being published) can feel very isolating at times and it's so true. If you're lucky, you have a small, but dedicated group of loved ones and beta readers cheering you on, but at the end of the day, it's a lot of work with very limited feedback. You can feel like you're on the right track, but when you're faced with rejection after rejection, it starts to wear you down. You start to wonder if the track ever actually leads anywhere.

The decision to self-publish IT FALLS APART wasn't an easy one for me to make, and I still find myself wondering if I've taken a huge misstep, but I'm starting to worry less about that because apparently, people are reading it, and as far as I can tell, they're liking it. And with over 3.5k views and hundreds of subscribers (people who WANT to be notified when a new chapter comes out so they can keep reading), this is the first time since I signed with my extremely awesome agent years ago that I've felt like I've accomplished a little more of what I set out to do. Obviously, this isn't it as in goal accomplished. I still want an editor to fall in love with my writing, my books, to take a chance on me the way I've decided to take a chance on myself. But...people are reading one of my books. And based on the numbers, it's no longer just friends and family. It's strangers. It's people who aren't only reading because they know me. It's people who seem to be enjoying my characters, my voice, this story I hope both touches and entertains. It's an incredible thing. And it's far from over.

If you've been reading IT FALLS APART, even if you just checked it out and haven't continued, THANK YOU. From the very bottom of my heart. Your support means so much, I can't possibly express it. Working in publishing, I know writing novels is far from a get-rich-quick scheme. Most writers don't make enough to quit their day job. Many never will. That's not why they write. That's not why *I* write. I write because there are stories in my heart. It's full of characters, jokes, arguments, heartache, confusion, passion, and beauty. I write because I want to put that out in the world. I write because I want to share it with people who might read it and say, "Yes, this. I can relate to this." That's why reviews often mean more to authors than sales. Writers don't seek fame and fortune. They seek voices who've read us and feel compelled to say, "Yes. Yes to all of this." 

I'm hoping to have more concrete details to share with you all soon regarding the e-book release of IT FALLS APART. As we get closer to that date (it will be in late June), I can promise an exciting new cover reveal, more fun teasers and excerpts (for those who haven't had a chance to read on Radish--or just need a little reminder of why they probably want to own the e-book too), more behind-the-scenes tidbits about my process in writing the book (storyboards and inspiration), and maybe even a giveaway or two :) Self-publishing this book has been a very big deal for me, and I want to find ways to share that with you guys. 

For now, I'll leave you with a little tidbit about where the title, IT FALLS APART, comes from:

It's a phrase that felt right the first time it popped into my head, very early on in the writing process. Not "She Falls Apart" or "Falling Apart", but "It Falls Apart". It had to be "it" because it's more than just this girl navigating this messy, forbidden romance. It's Harper's entire young adult life. Her future plans, her home life with Nan, her understanding of the past, her friendship with Chloe. These are all things she's carefully crafted and cared for--until an unexpected and earthshattering attraction to a boy sweeps everything out from under her feet. But there's more to the phrase than that. There's a reason it popped into my head in the first place. There's a Canadian rock band called Odds who released a song back in 1993 called--you guessed it--IT FALLS APART. It's a catchy tune, a bit of an earworm, and it came out at a time when my own young adult heart was beating to a profoundly memorable soundtrack. Long story short, it's one of many songs that made an impression and the lyrics are kinda perfect, even if the video is so 1993 it hurts ;) 

how to radish on release day

Hello, my lovelies! As I announced yesterday, my YA contemporary romance, IT FALLS APART, is making its pre-release debut on an app called Radish THIS EVENING at 7PM. So, what is Radish and how can you find my book on there?

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Simply put, Radish is a free-to-download fiction reading app that launched a few years back which enables users to read books in little bite-sized "episodes". It's great for when you’re looking to kill a little time on your commute (assuming you’re not driving) or when you’re waiting around and find yourself staring at your phone with nothing specific to read. Think Netflix for books. You can enjoy one chapter at a time or you can binge, binge, binge, and (dons best Michael Jackson impression) don’t stop till you get enough. But similar to how some shows are set up on Netflix, there is a bit of a catch—episodes (chapters) are released in a serial format, which means you can only binge so much at once before you have to wait patiently for more. Thankfully, you don't have to wait more than a couple days. Radish has a nice little promo video that demonstrates the basic concept here:

Radish is available for download on your handheld device in both Apple’s App Store and Google Play:

 
 

If you’re interested in reading more about the app, Medium did an article on it last year, which you can find here.

So, that’s Radish 101 for you. Now let’s talk about IT FALLS APART on Radish specifically. I’ve been using the app myself for a while now and it’s fairly intuitive. You can search for my book by author name (Kate Pawson Studer) or by title (It Falls Apart). Once the book comes up, you can add it to your personal reading library by tapping on the + in the upper right-hand corner. Beside the + there are also some options for sharing the story on social media, which I would appreciate immensely.

When you scroll down, you can check out individual chapters by clicking on them. IT FALLS APART will appear on Radish as a Freemium, Frontlist Pre-release. "Freemium" means that initially, you’ll be able to read the first few "episodes" of IT FALLS APART for free (the free in freemiumand then the remainder of the book will be released episode-by-episode, three times a week (Monday, Wednesday, and Saturday at 7PM). When a new chapter comes out, the app will notify you (assuming you've got my book added to your library) and readers then have the option to pay to unlock it right away or wait a week until it's released for free. It’s very flexible that way, and should you choose to pay, the end cost is on par with most e-books, so each chapter is reasonably priced.

After you’ve finished a chapter, whether you paid to access it early or waited to read it for free, you’ll notice a big heart at the bottom of the text. If you enjoyed what you read (and I hope you do!) you can click on this heart to let the Radish community know you think it’s a book worth reading.

Those are the basics. If enough people check out IT FALLS APART on Radish, we might even able to get it trending on the app’s home screen, which would bring more visibility to the story and make me a very happy author.

As I mentioned in my previous post, IT FALLS APART will also be coming to Amazon/Kindle in June as a full, pay-one-price upfront e-book that you can read easily on your Kindle, computer, or other handheld devices via the Kindle app. That’s why the release on Radish is called a Frontlist (it’s new) Pre-release (it’s exclusive to Radish before it comes out on Kindle). More details about that release are coming and if you want to make sure you don’t miss out, please take a moment to pop your name and email into the subscriber box in the sidebar of this site to sign up for my (I promise it won’t be too frequent or spammy) email news updates and/or follow me on Twitter and Facebook.

If you have any questions about Radish or how you can read IT FALLS APART, please feel free to comment on this post or send me a message on social media or via the contact form on this site.

Thank you again for all your love, encouragement, and support. This is an exciting day! The first seven episodes of IT FALLS APART will be hitting Radish this evening at 7PM! I believe the app adjusts for time zones so that should be local time for you, wherever you are. Please check it out! 

IT FALLS APART release dates and excerpt!

WOW. I am absolutely blown away by the amount of excitement and encouragement my big news was met with over social media last week. I said it then and I'll say it again, THANK YOU SO MUCH! I am being completely and utterly sincere when I say I would not be where I am today on this long, winding publishing journey without the amazing support of friends and family. When you're writing with the goal of being published, but haven't yet been published, you so often feel like you're working inside a bubble, but last week, I felt like that bubble burst, and this week, I'm excited to finally get to invite you all inside the bubble with me :)

Speaking of my bubble (okay, admittedly this analogy is getting a little weird), I've just launched a new module here on the site that will enable you to sign up for news and updates about me and my books, delivered right to your inbox! That's right, just enter your name and email address right over here-ish in the sidebar (unless you're reading this on mobile) and you’ll never miss an update. ------>
I promise I won’t spam you. Just a few updates a year when something truly exciting is happening and you can unsubscribe anytime.

Now for today's big news: IT FALLS APART will officially be published in e-book format in JUNE of this year (specific date still TBD), just in time to help with your summer reading needs. But I know you guys probably don't want to wait that long so I'm super excited to announce you will be able to start reading it as early as TOMORROW, Wednesday, March 28th, when it makes its pre-release debut in serial format on the fiction reading app, Radish. Odds are, you've never heard of Radish before, but that's okay. I'll be posting everything you need to know about the app and how it works and most importantly, how you can find my book on there before the book is officially launched tomorrow evening. So, stay tuned! MORE TO COME ON THAT.

In the meantime, I want to leave you guys with a flirty little excerpt from IT FALLS APART, to say thank you again for all the love and support:

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“Dancing is so overrated,” I panted, sliding my hands up to cup his face and bring his lips down on mine. He pulled away just long enough to huff the word, “agreed,” then continued the kiss, his fingers skimming beneath the bodice of my dress.

This had gone so far off the rails I had no idea how to get things back on track. But honestly, I didn’t care. The prom that was happening out there, beyond the stairwell we’d secluded ourselves to, had been fun and all, but this was So. Much. Better.

“As much as I appreciate the urgency,” I said when his lips slid down to my collarbone. “This isn’t exactly the most covert locale. What if another couple gets the same idea?”

He stopped kissing me and straightened, breathing heavily. “What do you have in mind?”

I quirked an eyebrow. “Wanna get out of here?”

He kissed me again, then we headed back into the main hall, so I could grab my purse and say a quick goodbye to Meera. I found her and Yuvin at our table, drinking the punch he’d gotten earlier.

“Oh hey,” Meera said. “I was looking for you. Where did you—why do you look so flushed?” Her eyes went wide, then briefly flickered to Luke standing behind me. “What were you just doing?”

“Nothing,” I said. “Please don’t ask. I think we’re gonna get out of here.”

Meera smiled knowingly. “I see. Okay, that’s cool. Anything you need from me? An alibi maybe?”

“We’re not burying a body,” I deadpanned.

“And what exactly will you be burying?” she teased, a mischievous glint in her eye. “The hatchet?” Again, her eyes shot to Luke. “Something else?”

“Hey, it’s not my fault your parents never had the talk with you.” I leaned over to give her a hug. “I’ll see you at Eden’s party later, yeah?”

Meera shrugged. “Assuming Yuv and I don’t skip off to Vegas, sure.”

“Please don’t get married without me.” I turned my attention to Yuvin. “Please don’t let her marry you without me.”

Yuvin clearly hadn’t been paying attention. “Huh?”

“Nothing,” I said. “Don’t worry about it.” I glanced over my shoulder at Luke. “You ready?”

The look in his eyes was hungry. “Definitely.”


If you'd like to read more about IT FALLS APART, you can find the cover blurb along with a link to another excerpt here. And don’t forget to use that little box over in the side bar to sign up for news and updates. I’ll be back here on the blog tomorrow with all the details you’ll need to find IT FALLS APART on the Radish App!

the time comes

When people find out I’m a writer, one of the first questions they usually ask is, “Where can I read one of your books?” and my answer has always been, “I’m not published yet, but I have a kick-ass agent and we’re working on it. Really, really hard.”

Publishing is a land of talent and timing—and a little luck doesn’t hurt. I’ve been told, by editor after editor, that I have the talent, but the timing has never worked out. It’s frustrating. I’ve written seven novels. I WANT people to be able to read them. Self-publishing one of my books while we pursue traditional publication for the others is something I’ve thought about many times before. But self-publishing is scary. It’s a lot of hard work with very little return. But I’ve been chasing the dream for so long that I’ve reached a point where I need to put something out there. So, I’m both terrified and excited to announce that yes, you will soon be able to read one of my books. I’m going to be self-publishing my contemporary YA romance, IT FALLS APART. Details on where, when, and how you can check it out (and I really hope you do) will be coming in the next few days. For now, I just want to thank you all for supporting and encouraging me over the years.

Thank you.

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let's talk

When I was twenty-five, my now-husband-then-boyfriend and I moved into our first apartment together. I'd moved before, of course, but only ever as a single person moving some of her own stuff (while the rest stayed at her parents' house), usually with the help of friends and family. This was different. This was two people combining all their stuff--pretty much everything we owned--into a 5th-floor apartment in a new city without any help. 

I had no idea what we were in for.

It's in my nature to push myself. I often tackle things head on and do what I must to get the job done. Load boxes, unload boxes, stack them, move furniture, keep going. All day, I pushed and pushed and pushed. It had to get done. The plan was to return the U-haul truck that same night. But as the day wore on, and the sky got dark, my power-through-it attitude started to falter and my body started to fail. I felt weak and light-headed. We hadn't stopped to eat dinner. Unloading the truck was taking too long for us to take a break. But I wasn't moving quickly anymore; in fact, I really needed to sit down. I tried to convince myself it was mind over matter. I just needed to keep pushing. But I was wrong. What I needed was help.

We finally reached the last item in the truck--a massive, recliner couch full of heavy, metal parts. It was a beast I was in no condition to slay. 

"I don't think I can do this," I said. But I knew it had to be done. So I tried to do it anyway.

I started crying. My end of the couch in hand, I had to stop every few feet, every muscle in my body on fire as tears streamed down my face. I was physically and mentally exhausted. But still, I had it in my head that I needed to carry on. We were moving into a large building in a busy area of the city. We could've flagged somebody down, offered them $20 to help. Hell, offered them $100. We could've left the couch in the truck and paid the extra money to keep it overnight. Try moving it in the morning. We could've even left the couch in the loading dock and chanced it. Honestly, if it was gone when we went to retrieve it the next day, I would've been fine with that. I didn't even like the damn thing in the first place.  

We didn't do any of those things, though. It took a long time, but we got it from the truck, through the loading dock, down the hall to the elevator where we carefully maneuvered it inside, rode up, and then lugged it down the long hallway to our apartment. My head pounding, my knees shaking, I felt like I was going to die. After we got it inside, I headed straight to our new bathroom, used the last, remaining shreds of energy I had left to hang up the shower curtain, and took a long, hot shower, continuing to involuntarily weep, sitting in the tub with my back against the tile I'd ideally have cleaned first. I sat like that for a long time. My first night in our new apartment.

I felt a bit better after my shower and the pizza we ordered and devoured, but some part of me still felt broken. I'd pushed myself way too hard. I should've acknowledged I'd reached my limit. I should have asked for help. 

The above story is mostly about physical pain, though my mental state was definitely also affected. When our bodies start to fail us, be it through illness or injury, it's never wise to push through the pain. That only makes it worse. Most people know this. Most people go to the hospital when something isn't working the way it should. And yet, we treat our mental health the way I treated my body that day, like it's some mind-over-matter thing we can overcome if we just keep pushing. But our brains are part of our bodies too. And like every other part of us, they need help sometimes. They need maintenance. They need time to heal. It's perfectly normal and human and we need to stop seeing it as anything otherwise. We need to stop seeing it as a weakness. Someone who's carrying a heavy box, then has more heavy boxes loaded on top should be able to say, "This is too much. I can't carry this alone." And the same is true for our brains. Sometimes it's too much. Sometimes we can't carry it alone. And when that happens, please don't be afraid to ask for help. It's the only way you can feel better. And you deserve to feel better. 

I'm here. Let's talk.

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dear oliver

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Hey buddy,

I'm sorry this took me so long. Most of this has been sitting in a note file on my phone for over a month. Some of it was written on that last day I held you. Some a week later. Some a week after that. It's been a process, a helpful one. It's lessened the fear I'll one day begin to forget you. But it's never really felt finished, or ready to be shared. Still doesn’t. But I owe you a tribute. I owe you more than that. So here goes. 

I have all these thoughts, these memories, these feelings, and I don’t know what to do with them but write. You know this. You sat by me on many a day as I sat at my desk and wrote. You were my constant companion. My shadow. Your sister has taken on that role since you left us. I feared she'd withdraw with your loss, but instead, she's done the opposite. Sitting in all your old favourite spots, hanging out with me while I work (she's on my lap as I type this). I know people who don't live with pets won't fully grasp a pet-owner's grief when they lose one. That doesn't really bother me, though. They can't understand what we do. That the love you receive from a pet is like no other, though it comes at a very steep price. Or that losing a pet is more similar to losing a close family member than losing a plant you've kept alive for years. That's unfortunate; this is heart-wrenching.

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I take comfort in the fact that you didn't suffer. That you didn't have some long, drawn-out illness. That we didn't have to make the difficult decision to end your life. But the unexpected manner in which we lost you was so abrupt. So unfair. Like somebody flicking off a light before I was ready for the darkness. I kept thinking, this can’t be real. This can’t be happening. Of all the many things I know about you, one of the biggest is that you’re supposed to be alive. 

You're not the first animal I've had to say goodbye to. I lost family dogs growing up. I cried. I missed them. I wished I could have them back. But you--you were my baby. You and your sister were only eight weeks old when we brought you home, and after a decade together, you fully owned a piece of my heart. Still do. They say a cat will never love you like a dog does. But you did. You were my boy. 

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The pain of your loss lessens every day, though not for lack of missing you. I'll forever feel lucky for the time that we had, and the pure, unconditional love that we shared. I don't think we'll ever stop wishing we'd had more weeks, months, and years. But I'm learning to live with my grief. Learning to miss you without feeling broken. The process feels familiar, reminding me less of extended family I've lost, and more of the first time I had my heart broken. Of how impossible it feels--the devastation of having something tremendous torn from your life. Of how powerless I was to stop it.

But this isn't just about sadness and loss. It's about you. About what a huge personality and an awesome buddy you were. The house feels so much quieter without you. You were tirelessly aggressive in your affection, purring and snuggling, combing your paws through my hair while I napped, always sitting on me, or beside me, or in your favourite evening spot, behind me on the couch. Your constant purr sometimes drowned out whatever show we were watching, but it was such a comfort, knowing you were with me and you were happy. 

From the day you curiously popped your fuzzy little head out of the crate we brought you home in, you always wanted to be involved in everything, from laundry to odd jobs around the house. I think you inserted yourself into the construction of every piece of furniture I've ever built. Every room I've painted. I have no doubt that some of your fur is even painted into the walls. And oh, how you'd play. You loved that green caterpillar toy so much. The way you'd pull it back and launch it across the room instead of just letting it dangle. You were so clever and so cute.

Even when our family began to grow, always a wild card with pets, you embraced the baby stuff as it appeared. You were interested in the babies when they appeared too, often keeping watch over them, recognizing they were an important part of our family. And as they grew, you were endlessly patient with them, always lingering as long as you could stand to indulge their desires to pet and squeeze you. It feels like fate that I showed them your namesake, Oliver and Company, that morning, mere hours before you left us. I'm glad we got to sit all together on the couch one last time, snuggling with our Oliver.

Explaining your loss to the kids has been one of the hardest things I've ever had to do. I think Henry still doesn't get it. Emmeline had trouble falling asleep those first few nights. She drew pictures of you and asked questions I either didn't know how to answer or didn't want to have to. Why did he have to leave? Will anyone ever be able to fix him? Should I still put food in his bowl in the morning?

No, he doesn't need food anymore. I'd have to remove the matching blue food dish from beside Huntley's pink one, which now sits alone. She still makes room for you though. When she eats, she positions her body to the one side of the placemat, leaving a space. It's what she's always done, though I think she's come to realize  you're not coming back.  I can't imagine what it's like for her, to have had you by her side every day of her life, her brother and constant companion, and then suddenly, you're gone. I wish I could explain it to her. What I can do is cuddle her and comfort her. We're taking good care of her, as you always did.

Cooper has been taking good care of her too. He'll never replace you as her best animal pal, but he's been keeping an eye on her, sitting with her when she'll let him. Two days before you died, it seemed you were becoming friends with Cooper too, going so far as to rub up against him and let him lick you. Oh good, I'd thought at the time. They're starting to like each other. And then you were gone. I'm sorry you didn't have more time to get to know him. I'm sorrier he didn't have more time to get to know you. 

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There was a moment, maybe a month before you left us, when I went to feed all three of you, and you knew it was coming, as you always did, leading the charge with the other two in tow. I remember thinking, wow, there's three of them now. It felt like you were a herd, moving through the house with such excitement. It made my heart feel full. For years, it was just you and Huntley running along, and now it's only Huntley and Cooper. But even with Cooper's jangling collar, the two of them feel quieter than the two of you ever did. You were such a presence in our lives. 

I think one of my favourite things about you was that you apparently adored Bill Paxton. Never one to watch TV, it was pretty unusual when you'd suddenly sit up and stare at the screen every time we watched Big Love. At first, we thought it might be a coincidence, but then it kept happening, even when he guested on Agents of Shield years later. You knew Bill's voice when you heard it, and you always came running.

It occurred to me, about a week after you passed--hey, didn't Bill Paxton pass away this year too? He did, back in February. Problems with his heart. Just like you. Kindred spirits, I suppose. I don’t know where you are, Oliver. I know in my heart that you’re still with me because I can feel the weight of carrying you. It’s one I’m happy to bear. But I hope you’re somehow also somewhere kickin’ it with your hero, Bill. 

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Taking out the Christmas stockings was hard, removing Huntley's from the tote and leaving yours behind. I didn't know I'd have to do that this year. Of course, nobody knows these things. They just happen. I still think I can hear you sometimes, moving through the house the way you did. Sometimes I get the sensation of your fur brushing up against me. I can still remember what it felt like to pick you up and hold you.

Whenever we'd return from a trip, you'd march into your crate and demand to go home, punishing us for all of five minutes before snuggling me, purring incessantly, begging me to never leave again. I wish I could've begged you to stay.

I feel like this hurts even more because I know how much you loved me. In a way, I feel like I let you down. But I take comfort in knowing you probably only loved me that much because you knew how much I loved you. 

We are so lucky to have had you in our family, Oliver. Thank you for loving us.

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firefly5

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In honour of Firefly's 15th anniversary, I was planning on doing a special Firefly edition of the Friday5 last week, featuring five of my favourite moments from the show's all-too-brief run. But then I ran into two problems: 1) a bunch of freelance contracts came in and I had no time, and 2) it's basically impossible to choose only five favourite moments from Firefly. That show owns a piece of my heart, and choosing favourite moments is like choosing between children. My love belongs to all of it. That said, I wanted to do something to mark the occasion. So here are five of my favourite moments from Firefly, in no particular order, and not necessarily my top five (I was somewhat limited by what I could find online), because as much as I'd like to say I've done the impossible (and that makes us mighty), I have too much love for this show to make a favourite moments list that isn't hundreds of points long. I also left Serenity out of it because then the list would be even longer and I had a draw the line somewhere! 

So, without further ado, you can't take the sky from me...

1. Mal's alright, SHINDIG

So many good Mal moments. Far, far too many to have to choose from. This one makes me smile every time.

2. The Hero of Canton, JAYNESTOWN

Jayne is the perfect anti-hero. So bad, and yet, so damn good. This clip captures his essence pretty well.

3. Zoe chooses Wash, WAR STORIES

I love Zoe. I love Zoe and Wash. I love Zoe and Mal. I love the dynamic between the three of them. I had a really hard time finding a clip of this, one of my favourite Zoe scenes in the series, so here it is in the full episode of War Stories, marked to start at the scene in question.

4. Big damn heroes, SAFE

Not my favourite episode overall, but it featured some iconic scenes, including this one.

5. The crew and their ship, OUT OF GAS

My favourite episode of Firfely--also not an easy thing to say, but I think I'm confident enough to say it's true. There are so many awesome moments in this episode (the flashbacks!), but a lot of them are hard to find online, so I'll leave you with the warm and fuzzy reunion, and the first time Mal sees Serenity.

BONUS: Simon and Kaylee, SERENITY

Okay, I couldn't not include a clip from Serenity, so I'll keep it simple and leave you with this lovely moment of fanservice that finally happened on the big screen.


Tracey: When you can't run, you crawl, and when you can't crawl - when you can't do that...
Zoe: You find someone to carry you.

Thank you for everything, Firefly.

waiting is the hardest part

I don't know anybody who likes waiting. I mean, anticipation is one thing--anticipation can be lovely, especially in a steamy, deliciously slow-burning romance. But in general, waiting kinda sucks. Especially when you don't know how long you're gonna be waiting for.

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I'm currently in a big old state of waiting and I'm not quite sure what to do with myself, which is why I'm blogging. The server I need for work is down, and I don't know when it will be up again, so I'm trying to figure out that balance between finding something productive to do while I wait, and not getting myself so involved in something that I can't tear myself away when the server is back online.

I had my work for the week all planned out, taking deadlines, timelines, peak usage times for our rural internet, and my own typical energy levels into account. Suddenly having to wait on one thing kinda throws everything else into chaos, and it puts me in a position where I have to slow down long enough that I start thinking about something else I'm waiting on--my latest novel. The entire time I'm actively working away on new projects and freelance work, I'm also perpetually in a state of waiting because I've got a book on submission right now, and any author who's been on submission will tell you that's some of the hardest waiting in the world. Hopes and dreams are resting on that wait. Big ones. And it doesn't get any easier. Not with your 2nd book, and not with your 5th, 6th, or 7th. But there's also nothing you can do about it BUT wait. And distract yourself. And keep writing. And that's what I do. I work. I write. I distract. Until something else forces me to wait and the cumulative sensation of waiting starts to feel heavy. Maybe too heavy. But again, there's nothing I can do but wait.

And wait.

And wait...

we need to talk about joss

I didn't want to write this. Not because I don't have anything to say, nor because I think it would be wise to stay silent. Quite the opposite in fact. I think, given my history of public adoration of Joss Whedon, staying silent now would feel somewhat disingenuous, even if the argument can be made that this is none of our business. Our business or not, he is a public figure with a large following, and so we're allowed to have thoughts. And we should have thoughts. We've looked up to this man. We've followed him. We've trusted him. But I still feel weird about writing this. I don't feel equipped with the context I'd need to form a strong and fair opinion. But I do have some thoughts, and like I said, as a Joss fan, I think it would be weird not to say something, especially when so many other Joss fans are trying to figure out their own thoughts and feelings. So here goes.

In case you have no idea what I'm talking about, Joss Whedon's ex-wife, Kai Cole, recently dropped a bombshell of an open letter over on The Wrap. I'm not going to spend any time analyzing the details of what Kai said. It's her letter. It was her decision to share it with the world. I don't think it's inaccurate to say Kai is going through some stuff right now, and I sincerely hope publishing this open letter has helped her on her journey to good mental health. If this has truly helped her to feel free, then I say, good for her. I'm glad she was able to lift this burden from her shoulders. I wish her nothing but the best. And in case you're wondering--I believe her. If she says Joss cheated on her, I believe he did.  

But here's the thing: I don't think that necessarily makes Joss a bad feminist. Nor does this revelation cause me to see Joss's work under a different light. Let me explain. 

We're raised on fairytales. Perfect love, perfect family, perfect career. But as we get older, it hits us like a ton of bricks: real life isn't a fairytale. The American dream is a sham. I'm not saying happiness isn't possible--I don't doubt for a moment that many people find happiness or at least enough happiness that they lead "happy lives", but a true fairytale life is an impossible pursuit. Life is too messy for that. Too complicated. The baggage we all carry only gets heavier. The decisions we face only carry more weight. It's not straightforward and it's never perfect. Marriage is hard. Family is hard. Career is hard. And as I understand it, fame and success are brutal on relationships. There are people who survive it, but let's be real; celebrities, even ones we look up to, aren't built stronger than the rest of us. They aren't wiser by default, or more honorable. If anything, they have less time and fewer resources to help them sort their shit out. So why are we still surprised when their flaws are revealed? People cheat. It happens. A LOT. And for a lot of different reasons. And you know what? It's not the end of the world. Teenager-me probably would have told you different. Her privilege kept her from understanding shades of gray. But adult-me kinda gets it. I don't have any personal experience with cheating, but the older I get, the more I observe of the world, the more I can see how it happens. Yes, some people cheat because they're douchebags, but sometimes, people are just going through something personal and cheating unfortunately ends up being part of it. It makes them shitty partners, and yeah, sometimes people who cheat actually are bad people, but it's not always so straightforward. And in this case, I don't have enough context to judge Joss with any certainty. So without more information, I'm not going to.

To say Joss and his work have influenced the person I am today would be an understatement. He's perhaps one of the biggest creative influences in my life. He's one of the reasons I do what I do. One of the reasons I write the way I write. Does him cheating on his wife erase that? Does him projecting one message while (some would argue) living another make me question myself or the values I personally hold dear for even a moment? No, it doesn't. Because regardless of what was happening in his personal life, the art and messages he's put out into the world still are what they are. The influence they've had over me is real. And I don't think Buffy, or Angel, or Firefly, or Dollhouse, or Dr. Horrible have made me a bad person. I think their various influences have made me a stronger, smarter, funnier, more thoughtful person. If he'd been outright abusing his wife, or sexually assaulting women, we would be having a different conversation. And at this point in time, I don't see any evidence of that. But cheating? Struggling in his relationship? Struggling with his identity and perhaps mental health? I personally don't think that erases all the good he's done. I don't think it even taints it. I think it's natural and normal to feel at least a little betrayed when you find out someone you look up to isn't who you thought they were, but I also don't think fidelity is a requirement of feminism. And even if you can argue that it is, I don't think you have to be a perfect feminist to call yourself a feminist or promote feminist views. I don't think it necessarily makes him a hypocrite. I think he tries and fails like all of us. I think he's weak. I think he's flawed. I think he's human. And yeah, I still think he's more feminist than not.

Regardless of who he is behind the scenes, his work is still powerful. It's not perfect--it's never been perfect. But what's wrong with us that we keep expecting perfection? That we blame others for not achieving it when we damn-well know we can't manage it ourselves? That doesn't make any sense to me. And neither does shunning Joss's work. I can lose some respect for the man and still hold his creations in high regard.

My feelings about this aren't finite. New info might change them. New perspectives might too. Please feel free to share yours.