Welcome to the wide crazy world of TJ Klune

As you can see, this is a blog (a blog, you say? You're like the only person in the world that has one!). Here are my promises to you: I promise to up date this as much as I can. I promise that at some point, you will most likely be offended. I promise that I may show naked dudes (but honestly? I've been told that my taste can be a little... strange). I also promise to make this some place where you can see how my mind works.

You've been warned.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Pre-Release Thoughts on The Lightning-Struck Heart; Or, How I Learned To Like Myself Again







On September 21st, 2014, I texted author S.A. McAuley:
So, this morning I started writing a medieval fantasy comedy that uses modern language and has a sassy gay unicorn named Gary and I just stopped. It is already 12K words and is so far beyond crack that it might was well be black tar heroin.
She responded, Please tell me there will be plague jokes.
To which I had to say, I ALREADY WROTE TWO.
Black death for the literary win. Lambda repeat here you come!!
            This same time a year ago, I was in a very rough place. I was spiraling down into this strange and constrictive abyss. I had just released The Art Of Breathing the month before and did the re-release of John & Jackie.
            I was tired. I didn’t want to be on social media. I didn’t want to have to promote. I didn’t want to interact. Everything was a chore and I was tired. The fact that BOATK3 was any success at all is thanks to all of you as I didn’t really do anything for it. It came out and I just left it there to do what it would.
            And by that point, last July, I hadn’t written anything since December 2013 when everything went to shit. I can’t be blamed for that, obviously, as my priorities were elsewhere. I didn’t even think about writing the first part of last year, and when BOATK3 was released, the idea of writing anything new was so exhausting that I couldn’t even be bothered.
            So, last July, I stepped away from everything and just allowed myself to breathe.
            It helped. It really did. It was a slow and painful process that I’m still going through to this day, but it helped.
            And randomly, one September morning, I opened up a word doc and started writing again.
            Funnily enough, this book exists because of a throwaway line from Tell Me It’s Real. In it, Paul is commenting how Sandy snorted while eating radicchio, and it was pretty. The color of the radicchio, not Sandy’s snort, because Sandy wasn’t a unicorn, after all.
            And I remember thinking, okay, but what if there was a unicorn?
            Which, honestly, should have been my first clue just how crack-tastic this book was going to be. Because who in their right fucking mind thinks what if there was a unicorn?
            Apparently I do.
            And apparently I did.
            The Lightning-Struck Heart is what followed.
            Or, as it was originally titled, Unicorn Star Fucker.
            (Which, sadly, I wasn’t able to keep the original title. Because of reasons.)
            (Those reasons being that apparently you can’t put FUCKER on your cover.)
            (Whatever.)
            The Lightning-Struck Heart (TLSH) is not going to be your typical fantasy novel. Obviously. Because I sure as shit am not Tolkein or Pratchett, and I will never, ever be. I don’t want to be, either. This is the first time I’ve written a fantasy novel of this sort, because I don’t ever want to be pigeon-holed into writing contemporary or mystery or historical or any other subgenre that’s out there. Every book I write, I want to have it be different than the one before. If it wasn’t, if I chose to write the same book over and over and over again (Coming Soon, TJ Klune’s Werewolf Mates of Love and Butt Stuff #37!!!!), I would go out of my fucking mind. And you probably wouldn’t forgive me for being so lazy.
            What can I tell you about the TLHS?
            Sam Haversford, the wizard and narrator, is brilliant, smart, snarky and so completely convinced he can never have the one person he wants.
            Ryan Foxheart, a knight with a secret and a boyfriend who is not Sam (in fact, his boyfriend is the douchy Prince Justin, the same Prince who Sam will one day serve when Justin ascends to the throne.)
            Gary, the hornless gay unicorn, will steal every fucking scene he’s in, the same way Sandy did in Tell Me It’s Real. I am very well prepared for him to be the favorite, along with his partner in crime, the half-giant Tiggy. It’s fitting, really, since Gary was the reason I started writing this book to begin with.
            And it’s comedy, of course, because when I started writing it, I needed to laugh. I love comedy and the wordplay that goes along with. I love super-quick dialogue with snarky banter that zips and zings. I love characters who accidentally blurt their feelings in a way that is both extraordinarily awkward and endearing.  I couldn’t have written another BOATK book at that moment, or another book along the lines of Burn or River because the angst alone would have been such a turn off and I know I wouldn’t have been able to finish.
            I told myself this wasn’t going to be that type of book. I wanted to write a full out crack novel with snarky humor, a hero that was prone to blurt his feelings, and a knight who was the dreamiest thing ever.
            And it worked!
            …at least at first.
            Because then the angst happened.
            Oh, it’s not of the soul-crushing variety, not like the BOATK books. Apparently, I’m quite incapable of writing a book that has a sexually aggressive dragon in it without adding some motherfucking angst. I don’t even know how it happened. It just did. I didn’t even realize it had happened until my editor starting leaving messages in the manuscript accusing her of making her cry and have feelings in a book called Unicorn Star Fucker, for fuck’s sake.
            So.
            Wookie cry face?
            Yes. Probably.
            But it’s okay!
            Because I keep my promises.
            And I promise that there is a happy ending here. Of course there will be, because this is a fairy tale (however fractured it might be) and everyone knows they have to live happily ever after.
            But up till that point, there will be gay fairy kings who want to gay fairy marry Sam, a drag queen named Mama who runs a gay brothel in a dark city, a bard who sings a twelve verse song called “Cheesy Dicks and Candlesticks”, Dark Wizards who want revenge, inappropriate obsessions with corn, questions on whether rimming is as awesome as it sounds, a dragon’s keep, a meeting of the Ryan Foxheart Fan Club City of Lockes Chapter, deep discussions about whether riding horses is racist to a unicorn, and a half giant who never gets to be naked when he wants to.
            And all the while, you’ll get to see two guys who are so fucking oblivious about the way they feel about each other that you’ll want to knock their heads together and scream at them to JUST FUCKING KISS!!!!!!!!!
            So.
            By the time you read this, you’ll be only two days away from going on this stupidly epic (or epically stupid) journey of mine. I know it's taken us a while to get here. The dedication in the front of this novel reads as follows:

To those that have patiently waited for me to find my footing again, I say thank you. 
This book is for you.

            I hope it’s worth the long wait.
            I know it was for me.
            (Oh, and FYI—you want to know how I pitched this book to my publisher? Legit, this is the complete email I sent:
            Hi!
            I have a new book for you.
            It has gay unicorns and 170K words.
            They are going to take my Lambda Award away from me for this.
            I regret nothing.
            Happy reading!
See, kids? Dreams really do come true!)
                       
           
           

Saturday, June 20, 2015

First Look At The-Lightning-Struck Heart

So!

Hi.

How are you?

Good, I hope.

It's been a long time since we've been in this position, huh? The one where I'm about to release a book and get to relentlessly tease you about it for the next thirty days.

God, how I have missed that feeling.

Don't lie. I know you have too.

What can I tell you about The Lightning-Struck Heart?

It's the first thing I wrote after the shit storm that was life last year.

It's the fastest I've ever written anything of this length ( 170K words in 2 1/2 months).

It's a romantic comedy.

It's pure crack.

And, surprisingly angsty, at least in parts. I say surprisingly because I didn't mean for it to be. Honestly. I wanted something light and sweet and uncomplicated.

Then I accidentally world-builded, created rules for magic, made a gay unicorn, and wanted to play around with the oblivious trope to the point where people would probably punch me in the face for how dumb these boys are going to be.

And then came the angst.

Not soul-crushing, mind you. This isn't BOATK or Into This River I Drown.

But still.

You will have Wookie Cry Face.

And I regret nothing.

Thanks for waiting for me to find my bearings again. I know it's taken awhile, but I have so many thing in the pipeline, that you'll probably get sick of how many books I have coming out.

Anyway.

I'll have more to say as we get closer to the release on July 20th, 2015. But for now, I thought I'd give you a little taste of what to expect.

So here: have the entire first chapter.

Love, TJ

Click For Pre-Order!!!!

Click To Add On Goodreads!!!!

 
    








Chapter 1. The Villain Monologues

“AND NOW, I will tell you of my plans to take over the Kingdom,” the evil wizard and total douchebag Lartin the Dark Leaf said with a cackle.

“Please don’t,” I said. “You really don’t have to.”

Of course he didn’t listen. Villains never do. That’s why they suck. A lot. It didn’t help that my arms and legs were bound with vermilion root. That shit is hardcore. No lie.

“You see, back when I was a child, I always knew that I was different. That I was meant for greater things than what my father had planned for me.” Lartin looked out toward the cave entrance almost wistfully, as if thinking of his childhood days. What a dick. “He always looked down on me with scorn because I never wanted to be an ironsmith. He always said that—”

“Do you think he realizes we don’t care?” Gary asked me. He sounded really bitchy when he said it, but if you were a hornless gay unicorn, you’d be bitchy too. “Like, seriously. Don’t care. At all.”

I shrugged as Lartin looked at us in disbelief. “He has daddy issues.”

“I don’t have daddy issues,” Lartin said, sounding annoyed.

“So that gives him the right to monologue?” Gary snorted. When he did, little pink and purple sparkles shot out his nose. Being a unicorn is awesome like that.

“He’s a villain,” I said. “It’s what they do. They have to broadcast their entire plan when they think they’ve won because no one else will ever listen to them.”

“Lame,” Gary said, glancing at Lartin. “Girl, I really don’t care. Unbind my legs before I scratch your eyes out.”

“You don’t have fingers,” I reminded him. “You can’t scratch anything.”

“He’s lucky I don’t have my horn back yet,” Gary muttered. “There’d be so much goring, it’d be unreal. It’d be like Gore City up in here. These roots are chafing. He should undo them.”

“Are you going to undo them?” I asked Lartin.

“Uh, no?” he said. “You know I captured you and you’re my prisoners, right?

“Did he?” I asked Gary.

“Well, we are tied up,” Gary said. “And not in the fun way.”

“I don’t want to know when you’ve been tied up in the fun way,” I told him.

He rolled his eyes. “Sam, you are such a prude.”

“Guys?” Lartin said. “I have a plan? That I need to tell you about? You need to listen.”

“I am not a prude,” I said to Gary. “Just because I don’t talk about… you know. Sex stuff. That doesn’t make me a prude.”

“Your face just turned red when you stuttered on the word sex,” Gary said. “I almost believed you.”

“I didn’t stutter.”

“You kind of stuttered,” Lartin said. Because he was an asshole who I was totally going to kick in the balls before the day was up. “Can I get back to my story? I really think you’ll appreciate the many facets of my character once you hear it. I’m dynamic and—”

“When were you tied up?” I demanded. “Unicorns aren’t allowed to be whorish. You’re supposed to be all virtuous and pristine!”

“Oh please,” Gary said. “How do you think I was created?”

Huh. “Honestly? I always thought unicorns were made from sunshine and rainbows and good feelings. Like you just appeared one day in a field filled with flowers and a big fat sunbeam falling all around you. And there’d be butterflies or something.” That sounded way pretty. And realistic for unicorn creation.

Gary squinted at me, nostrils flaring. “Seriously? No, you idiot. My parents had hardcore unicorn sex. Like boned for days. They’re very adventurous that way. Up in trees, down by rivers, near graveyards at midnight. There really isn’t anywhere they haven’t spread the love.”

“Oh my goodness,” Lartin whispered. “Is this really happening?”

“Gross,” I said. “That’s just gross.”

“Hey! Unicorn sex is a beautiful thing!”

“Yeah, but that’s your parents you’re talking about. That’s wrong on so many levels. And why haven’t I met them? Or heard about them?”

“They’re touring the Outer Reaches with their swingers group.”

“Swingers?”

“Yeah. Like partner swapping. Maybe orgies. I don’t know.”

I was horrified, and I’m sure it showed on my face. “Dude! What!”

“Prude,” Gary said.

“I’m not a prude! I just don’t see why we have to talk about sex all the time. Or your parents being in orgies!”

“Well, I guess you can’t understand what you’ve never had,” Gary said, a mean little curl to his stupid unicorn lips.

“You’re a virgin?” Lartin said.

“You bitch,” I said to Gary. “And no, I’m not a virgin.”

“You so are,” Gary said, because apparently this morning he’d eaten sass for breakfast. “A twenty-year-old virgin.”

“No! There was that one guy! At that thing! With the people!” My argument was sound.

“That didn’t count. He kissed you, and you came in your pants, and then you proceeded to tell him how his hair reminded you of your father.”

“It did. It’s not my fault he had dad hair!”

I’m not even a virgin,” Lartin said, sounding smug. “The ladies all want up on Little Lartin. There is so much sex to be had when I’m around.”

Gary glared at him. “You call your dick Little Lartin? Dude. Wrong.”

“I don’t have time for all the relations and courting and wooing bullshit,” I said. “I’m a wizard. I have quests.”

“Uh, you’re an apprentice,” Gary said. “And you’re sent on errands.”

“You know how you wanted to dye a strip of your mane purple?” I said.

“Yes. Because I’d be beautiful.”

“Well, too fucking bad,” I said savagely. “I’m not going to do it. You’re just going to have keep it white. Forever.”

“You promised!”

“That was before you were a jerk!”

“Oh my gods,” Gary said. “Lartin. Get over here and untie me. I want to kick Sam in the fucking face.”

“No! He’s going to untie me so I can hex the shit out of you. Lartin. Get your ass over here and untie me.”

“Um,” Lartin said. “I don’t know if you guys understand the point of being captured. Like… I captured you? Right? And so—”

“No,” Gary said. “Not right. You caught us off guard because we were looking for wormwood in the Dark Woods, and we just happened to stumble into your camp, and you took advantage of a situation. That doesn’t count as capturing. That counts as being an asshole.”

“When were you tied up?” I asked again.

“You’re still on that?” Gary asked. “Ugh.”

“You brought it up.”

“Fine! It was that centaur we met last year. In the elf realm.”

“You said you were just friends!”

“We were. We were just the kind of friends that tied each other up and pushed our penises together.”

“What was his name again?”

“Octavio,” Gary said with a dreamy sigh. “The hands that half man had.”

“I have hands,” Lartin said. “I’ve tied you up.”

“Is he hitting on me?” Gary whispered loudly.

“Are you hitting on him?” I asked Lartin.

“No! I was just pointing out similarities of the situations.”

“I think he was hitting on you,” I told Gary.

Gary looked back at Lartin and sized him up. Then he did that thing that I swear only unicorns can do. His blue eyes got impossibly big. His eyelashes lengthened as he fluttered them at Lartin. His mane was luminous in the darkened cave, and he purred, “Well aren’t you precious.”

“Ew,” I said. “Seriously.”

Lartin blushed. “Oh, stop it.”

“Does Little Lartin want to come out to play?” Gary asked, batting his eyes.

“I wish I were anywhere else but where I am,” I said to no one in particular

“Maybe,” Lartin said, trying for coy but somehow landing on straight-out creepy.

Gary giggled. He giggled. “Well, maybe I should tell you that my tongue is fifteen inches of the best thing you’ll ever have.”

“Yuck,” I said. “That just sounds excessive.”

“I’ve never done it with a horse,” Lartin said. “Sounds… illuminating.”

“Oh, you shouldn’t have said that,” I told him.

Horse?” Gary snarled. The pretty unicorn act dropped immediately. Red sparks shot from his nose. “Did you just call me a horse? Listen here, you two-legged bag of shit. I’m not a motherfucking horse. I am a unicorn, and I am magic and a beautiful creature made of fucking sunshine and rainbows and good feelings.”

“I knew it,” I whispered.

“Get your ass over here so I can stomp on your face,” Gary said to Lartin. “Untie me, lie down on the ground, and let me stomp your face.”

“You don’t have a horn,” Lartin pointed out.

“That’s just rude,” I said. “I didn’t point out that your nose is really big. Why would you say something like that?”

“Sam,” Gary said tearfully. “He called me a horse.”

“Hey,” I said. “Hey. Look at me.”

He did. His eyes were wet, and I wanted to punch Lartin in the spleen.

“Who is the most beautiful unicorn in all of Verania?”

“Me,” Gary sniffed.

“And who has the prettiest mane?”

“Me.”

“And who is a badass motherfucker who’ll gut a bitch?”

“Me!”

“Damn right.”

“Sam?”

“Yeah?”

“We’ll find my horn, right?”

“I promise,” I said. Because we would. It was important to him so it was important to me. It’d been stolen long ago, years before I’d met him. He couldn’t even look himself in the mirror without cringing. That was unacceptable.

“And we can dye my mane purple when we get out of here?”

“First thing,” I said. “I already bought the dye before we left the city.”

“You love me,” Gary sighed.

“I do.”

“Okay, I feel better now.”

“Good.”

“So, are we going to finish, or what?” Lartin said.

I rolled my eyes. “Fine. Do your villain thing.”

“This is so stupid,” Gary muttered.

Lartin’s eyes lit up. He posed in front of us again. “So it was my father that—”

“Daddy issues,” Gary coughed.

Lartin glared at him.

“Sorry,” Gary said. He wasn’t sorry. “I had something in my throat.”

“My father said that I would never—”

“We didn’t lose that bag of wormwood, did we?” I asked Gary.

“Nah,” Gary said. “It’s still in the satchel on my back.”

“Good. Morgan would be pissed if we forgot that.”

“He’s going to be pissed already. We were supposed to be back yesterday.”

“We would have,” I said. “If some people hadn’t decided to tie us up in a cave.”

Gary and I stared at Lartin.

“You guys are the worst prisoners ever,” he muttered. Then his eyes went wide. “Did you say Morgan?”

“You shouldn’t eavesdrop,” Gary said. “That’s rude. We weren’t listening to you, so you shouldn’t be listening to us.”

“You’re apprenticed to Morgan?” Lartin squeaked. “Morgan of Shadows?”

I grinned at him. “The one and the same.”

“Oh no,” Lartin moaned. “You’re Sam of Wilds.”

“Such a sexy name,” Gary sighed. “Have I ever told you that?”

“Thank you,” I said, pleased. “It sounds very rugged, doesn’t it?” I’d worked very hard on earning that name. It’d change again when I was a full-on wizard, but it was good enough for now.

Gary laughed. “Yeah, but then people meet you and you’re all skinny and adorable, and they’re all like whaaaa?”

“I think you meant to say muscular and dangerous,” I said. “You got your words confused again.”

“No, I’m pretty sure I got them right. As I always do. To be muscular you have to have muscles.”

“I have muscles!” I tried to flex, but my hands were bound behind me, and it didn’t work out so well. “Okay. Shut up. But I am dangerous.”

“Yeah, okay,” Gary said.

“I am!”

“Honey, you’re pouting. That’s not dangerous. It’s adorable.”

“I’m not pouting,” I said as I pouted.

“Aww,” Gary said.

“Aww,” Lartin said.

“Shut up, Lartin!”

“Okay, so can we leave?” Gary asked.

We both looked at Lartin.

“You’re Sam of Wilds,” he said.

“No shit,” I said.

“Do you know how much you’re worth?”

“Oh, not again,” I groaned.

“I could totally ransom you!” Lartin said excitedly. “It would fund my world domination plans for the next six years!”

“Morgan’s going to be so mad at you,” Gary said to me.

“It’s not my fault!”

“Well, you do get captured a lot.”

“I suppose.”

“And everyone knows your name.”

“Right? How weird is that?”

“Totally weird.”

“So much gold,” Lartin said as he paced back and forth. “Pounds and pounds of gold.

“Hey, Sam?”

“Yes, Gary.”

“Has Morgan ever paid a ransom for you?”

“Nope. Not once.”

“And why is that?”

“He said that if I was dumb enough to get caught, then I’d have to figure my own way out.”

“Ah,” Gary said.

Lartin stopped. “Never paid?”

“Not once,” I told him. “Can you let us go now?”

“No!” he snapped. “I am sick of this! You are going to sit there, I am going to tell you my plan, and then I’m going to get so much gold that I won’t be able to carry it all.”

“Then how are you going to move it?” Gary asked.

“Move what?” Lartin looked perplexed.

“You just said you were going to get so much gold that you weren’t going to be able to carry it,” I said. “So how are you going to move it if you can’t carry it?”

“Oh,” Lartin said. “Well, shit.”

“Wow,” Gary said. “If that’s how well you think things through, I can’t wait to hear your plans for world domination. I’m sure they’ll be positively riveting. And well thought-out.”

“Burn,” I said. “You just got so burned. You’ll have scars from all the burn.”

“I’ll buy a cart!” Lartin exclaimed. “And a horse.” Then he went back to being a complete douche. “Or I’ll just keep the unicorn here and he can pull it for me.”

“Oh, bitch, say that to my face, bitch,” Gary snarled. “Come on. I dare you.”

“I wouldn’t say that to his face,” I said. “Even if he dared you.”

But Lartin the Dark Leaf was an idiot. The wizarding clan of the Darks usually were. So it was no surprise when Lartin stepped forward and said, “You’ll pull my cart. Horse.”

That’s when the nine foot half-giant named Tiggy roared and burst into the cave.

“Sam,” he rumbled. “Gary.”

“You’re so dead,” Gary said to Lartin. “You don’t even know. Tiggy! Smash him!”

And since Tiggy loved Gary so, he moved forward to do just that.

“Wait, Tiggy,” I said.

And since Tiggy loved me so, he waited.

Gary looked murderous. “Sam,” he growled. And if you’ve never heard a unicorn growl, let me tell you: it’s delightfully frightening.

“Your angry face is awesome,” I said to him.

He preened. “I’ve been practicing. Watch.” He glared at me, eyes narrowing, teeth bared. “See?”

“I got chills,” I assured him.

“I smash now?” Tiggy asked.

Of course, Lartin tried to mutter off some defensive spell. Little green lights arced around Tiggy before they dissipated.

“You’re not a very good wizard, are you?” I said. “Giant, dude. Their blood is like the antimagic. Come on. You learn that on your first day of wizard training!”

“I smash now.” Tiggy looked very pissed off. He usually was when his two favorite people in the entire world were captured. Come to think of it, maybe it did happen a lot.

“Just hold on, Tiggy,” I said.

“No, don’t hold on,” Gary said. “I want to see his insides on the outside.”

“So bloodthirsty,” I said in awe.

“I would prefer there to not be any smashing,” Lartin said. “If I’m being totally honest.”

But Tiggy was done with the situation, so he smashed Lartin the Dark Leaf. Multiple times. Into a variety of objects. Like rocks. And cave walls. It wasn’t a very pretty sight. What with the blood and stuff. And the brains.

When the smashing was complete, Tiggy came over and snapped the vermilion roots that bound me and my magic. As soon as the roots fell, I felt a surge of green and gold and yellow flow through me. “So much better,” I muttered.

“Always get caught,” Tiggy grumbled as he tended to the roots at Gary’s feet.

“Now that’s not specifically true. I’ll be honest, though. I’ve grown as a person this time around and will pledge to avoid capture in the future.” That was not the complete truth. I would most likely get captured again. It was sort of my thing.

“Who’s my big strong man,” Gary cooed at Tiggy.

Tiggy blushed. “Me.”

“Yes, you are. I knew you’d come and rescue me. I was like a princess waiting for her hero!”

“So pretty,” Tiggy said, running his big hand gently through Gary’s mane. “My pretty princess.”

“Can we leave the cave now?” I asked. “You guys can flirt later.”

“It’s okay, Tiggy,” Gary said. “Sam’s just dealing with some issues. He recently came to the realization that he’s a twenty-year-old virgin prude.”

“I am not!”

“I told him about Octavio,” Gary said. “Sam couldn’t even say the word sex without stuttering.”

“Sam never gonna find a boyfriend,” Tiggy said. “No one gonna take his flower.”

“Don’t talk about my flower!” I snapped at them as I checked the satchel on Gary’s back. The wormwood was still wrapped safely where I’d left it. So at least this wasn’t a complete loss. “And I don’t need a boyfriend. I am an independent man with priorities. I’m going to be the youngest wizard to pass his apprenticeship, and then I’m going to do great things. Big things!”

“Oh?” Gary said. And he grinned evilly. Evil unicorn smiles are the sign of wicked things about to be said. I hated them. “So I suppose a certain knight doesn’t factor into those priorities whatsoever? Like maybe you want to be the youngest full wizard just to impress him?”

“You shut your whore mouth,” I growled, trying to not sigh dreamily at the thought of bright green eyes and a beautiful smile. And wavy blond hair. Like, the waviest. I wanted to touch it with my face. “I don’t even know what you’re talking about.”

“Uh-huh,” Gary said.

“You want mouth full of knight,” Tiggy said. “Knight take your flower and eat it.”

“Tiggy!” I shouted, scandalized.

“Such a prude,” Gary muttered.

“I hate you both. So much.”

And to prove my point, I stormed out of the cave.

But they obviously didn’t believe me, because they followed me.

Like I knew they would. I’m lucky that way, I guess.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Beauty In The Breakdown: A Redux

Things are different now.

I last wrote on this blog ten months ago, right at the time when I was at my bleakest.  It was a culmination of events that began in December of 2013 and led to me not recognizing myself anymore, or even in a position capable of doing so. I felt lost, unsure of what I was doing or where I was going. 

I tend to not take care of myself during highly stressful times. Usually, I'm so focused on making sure everyone and everything else is okay that I don't stop to think about myself. It's how I'm conditioned. To this day, I still feel some guilt over the my perceived selfishness at shutting down and walking away for as long as I did.

It was necessary.

I know that.

But that still doesn't mean that I was okay with it.

My body, however, had had enough and I just collapsed within myself.

I wasn't a very good friend to people during that time. I was even worse (and really, still am) at responding to the hundreds of messages I'd received.

I knew, though, that I couldn't keep going as I was.

So I stopped. Stepped away.

Took some time to breathe.

Things are different now.

I went to therapy.

It helped. Sort of.

I was diagnosed with PTSD, which, honestly, sounds as ridiculous now as it did in August of last year. I was not in a war. I have never been a victim of a violent act.

I told the therapist this.

She laughed slightly and said, "It's not about what you have or haven't done,. It's about what's happened to you. You're smart. Don't act dumb about this. It's trauma plain and simple."

God, I hated that.

It made sense. I still hated it.

Full transparency: Eric won't be coming to live in Virginia with me. Logistically,  it's just not possible. In Indiana, he has his family that is able to provide the care he needs. If he came here, it would just be me. I can't give him what he needs, and it wouldn't be fair to either of us. Medicare doesn't pay for as much as you might think it does, meaning a round the clock nurse, which he would have to have if he came here as I work 50 hours a week and write another 20 hours a week on top of that.

It sucks. We were dealt a very shitty hand. I have raged at the unfairness of it all to the point where I didn't even know what to think anymore.

But things are different now, okay? I've taken the steps needed to find even footing again. I've put myself first, even if it felt wrong the entire time I was doing it. My last therapy appointment was in February and I've been doing okay.  That doesn't mean I'm 100% fine, of course. I am still coming to terms with the repercussions of everything that happened. Some days, I think I have a grasp on it. Some days, I am the happiest I've been in months.  Some days, I have to force myself out of bed.

"What do you like to do?" the therapist asked me.

"About what?" I said.

"Anything. What's something you love?"

"Reading.  Writing. Watching movies."

"Writing? What do you write?"

"Books."

She was surprised at that. "You've written books?"

I shrugged, because I always get weirdly shy when people find out that I'm an author."

"When was the last time you wrote?"

"November 2013."

So she told me that I should start again.

And so I did.

I wrote.

And wrote.

And motherfucking wrote.

In September, I started writing The Lightning-Struck Heart.

I finished it in November.  You get it in July.

I finished Withered & Sere and Crisped & Sere. You get them in 2016.

In February, I started How To Be A Normal Person.

I finished it in April.  You get that one in October.

Five weeks ago, I started the sequel to Tell Me It's Real, tentatively titled The Queen and the Homo Jock King. I will be finished with it by June.  You will see that one this winter.

Then it's BOATK4.  Then it's Burn II. Then it's the sequel to Lightning. The third and fourth book after Withered and Crisped. Then TMIR3.

Do you see where I'm going with this?

Writing, man. It's saved me.  It's done more for me than anything else could have.

Things are different now. 

And they always will be.

But I am a goddamn motherfucking writer, and I am going to tell my story, and other stories, and I am going to do it for as long as my fingers can press the keys.

Life isn't what I thought it would be.

But, at least right now, I can tell myself that it'll be okay.

Because there is beauty in the breakdown.  And that beauty comes from the pieces that are left. They may not fit together like they did before, and the shape might not be the same. But it's still recognizable and that's what matters now.

I know who I am. I know what I'm going to do.

I have plans. 

And I can't wait to show them to you.

Love,

Tj




Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Beauty In The Breakdown



 It's all right 
'cause there's beauty in the breakdown
--Frou Frou 


It started with a pressure behind my eyes a couple of months ago.  I should have recognized it for what it was.  Maybe part of me did and I just chose to ignore it. Fake it until you make it, I think the saying goes.
It was probably inevitable, really. I am just surprised it didn’t happen sooner.
When I was nine, I was diagnosed with a form of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.  When I was eleven, I was diagnosed with a form of Panic Disorder.  I am…disordered.  Obviously.  The meds helped, once we figured out the right dosage and combinations.  I was one of the lucky ones, though, in that as I got older, the symptoms got less and less.  It also helped that I learned how to breathe, those little techniques that make up the art of breathing. I don’t take pills anymore. I haven’t in years. Every now and then, I could feel the pressure build slightly behind my eyes and my little quirks would come out when particularly stressed (counting syllables in the words I spoke by tapping a finger against my leg and trying to make sure the sentence I said ended on either my pinkie or my thumb—it doesn’t make sense, I know, but then tics like these never do), but I was able to hold it back and breathe and breathe and breathe until it went away.
But sometimes it’s not enough. And sometimes, it can come out of nowhere and it’s like getting hit by a train.  That rarely happens.
So, when I was hanging a painting in our new house a few weeks ago, I think I knew the pressure was there, but with everything else that has been going on, I didn’t have time for it.  And that was a mistake because I got hit by the train.
One moment I was hanging the painting (thinking about where it’d hung in our previous house), and the next I was on the floor, unable to breathe, the painting broken on the ground.    Unless you’ve had a panic attack before, it’s difficult to understand what they’re like.  Breathing is an involuntary action.  Your body does it for you.  But when you’re in the middle of an attack, your body is used against you. Your mind is just as constricted as your lungs and throat, and it’s damn near impossible to get but the smallest amounts of air in.  It’s not rational.  It’s never rational. But it’s like drowning and until the water recedes, there’s not much that you can do but ride it out and hope for the best.
When the water did recede, I was sweating and crying and my body hurt, but I was finally able to admit something that I should have figure out quite a while ago: I am not okay.
That’s hard to find that out.  It’s damning to say out loud.  It’s difficult to believe. I am supposed to be the strong one.  I am supposed to be in charge. I am supposed to know what to do, to take care of me and mine. I am supposed to be okay. I am not supposed to break.  But that’s the problem, now.  I am breaking.
I am not okay.  I am not okay.  I am not okay.  I don’t think I have been for a while. I don’t sleep much anymore. I don’t eat. I look like shit. I’ve had purple lines under my eyes since that first night Eric went into the hospital and I didn’t sleep.  I don’t have energy for much of anything anymore. I’m listless and apathetic.  I snap at people at the drop of a hat. I go to work. I come home from work. I pretend to unpack. I go to bed at eight. I fall asleep around one or two. I get up. I go to work. I come home from work and on and on it goes. That pressure building. The pieces cracking.
I am not okay.  And it pisses me off.  Everything pisses me off.  I had plans.  We had plan.  We were supposed to live happily ever after.  We were supposed to ride off into the sunset and be happy in our little corner of the world and nothing would ever bother us ever again.  How fair is it that we only got six weeks in our new house in a new state before Eric was admitted to the hospital for three months? How is it fair that he is now paralyzed from the neck down and most likely will be for the rest of his life? How fair is that we should be planning our wedding right now instead of worrying about what future we could possibly ever hope to have?  How is any of this fair?
It’s not, and I am not okay.
I just got back from Indiana yesterday.  It was the hardest trip I’ve ever had to make, because of the hardest things I had to say.  I had to tell Eric I am not okay. That I am cracking. That we couldn’t get married in November because I’m not in the right place mentally because I am not okay.  He understood, of course. He always does.  It still crushed us both.  I knew it would and I was dreading every moment of it.
Eric needs a positive environment to promote healing and well-being. I cannot be the positivity he needs right now. I’m in a very toxic place.  I can’t and won’t allow that to spread to him.  Plans have to be on hold because I have to be selfish right now, no matter how much I hate it and no matter how much it kills me. But you can’t ever hope to take care of others if you can’t take of yourself.
And it’s because I grieved for him when all of this occurred. I grieved for him like he had died, and I don’t know that I’ve ever reconciled the fact that he didn’t.  I am haunted by it and the pieces that broke off of me that won’t go back to the shape they once were. I can’t get them to stick at all. 
I have been faking it, but I haven’t made it.  I will, but that won’t be today. Or tomorrow. Or even the next day.  I am not okay, and that is the first sign that something needs to change. That I need to do something different before it gets any worse.  The panic attacks come quicker now. My quirks and tics are more pronounced.  I have to fix this before I can’t anymore and I need to do it now.
            So.  You won’t be hearing from me for a while.  Maybe a long while.  I thought about shutting down all my social media pages, but that’s not fair to my fans and readers who interact with each other on my FB or on GR or my blog.  You Klunatics can continue on for me while I go off to find what it will take to make me better.  I will be back.  Of that, I have no doubt. But I have to be selfish right now and make things about me, even though I hate it. I have hundreds of FB messages I haven’t responded to. Hundreds of emails. I’m sorry about that. I hope to read them all someday soon, so I hope you’ll forgive me.
            And I’m sorry this is so heavy.  If you’re reading this, there’s a good chance you’ve been with us on this journey for a while now. I wanted to make sure you knew that I appreciate you very much. Without all of you, I wouldn’t be here today.  There is hope.  I just have to find it again.
            I am not okay.
            But I will be, because I am greater than the little parts of me that break.
            I'll see you on the other side, and remember to love each other no matter what.

            Love,
            Tj