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S. Jen in the news

May 2024

What started as a Facebook post marking my four years of an alcohol-free lifestyle turned into a piece on the OpEd page and website of FLORIDA TODAY.

The Space Coast Health Foundation caught wind of my brutally honest post and asked if I'd be up for a Q&A story between me and my oldest child. And given I posted about my struggles already on social media, I was more than happy to share my story, which was a gut-wrencher to write with my child. 

It's not pretty. And the original post, in part, was in reference to the alcohol abuse that is a theme in my novel, Boomerang. Some readers have questioned the drinking scenes as being over the top. But to me, they were realistic. Because that's how I used to drink. I had one goal in mind. And that was to get buzzed (which always became drunk) so I could feel better about myself and tune out the negative thoughts in my head. 

The original post can be found here but is also provided below. The screenshot of the story at left is the follow-up Q&A. 

If you or someone you love is battling an addiction with the bottle (or perhaps something else), know you're not alone. There is hope — and others who want to help you. 

If I can clean up my life and win the respect of my children back, so can you. I'm rooting for you. 

xoxo,

S. Jen

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"So much vomiting!"

That's what "Boomerang's" editor said when she finished reading my debut novel's first draft. While I cut some scenes and details out (because, yes, the masses don't want all that), I wrote from the heart.

And experience.

The excessive drinking was real to me. Because that's how I drank, from the first time I picked up alcohol.

My book revolves around two people who drink heavily -- and the why behind it. Because, there's always a why.

There was for me.

The photo at left shows me in 2019, allegedly "living my best life." But I was not. I was miserable.

I was desperately trying to find love after a divorce. I was working, but still feeling rejected and lost after a layoff from my dream job -- being a journalist was my identity, my passion, and one day, it was gone. (The first thing I did after I left the office was head to my parents', where I promptly began drinking Mai Tais. Even though it was 10 a.m.)

My kids were teenagers, and they would grumble about my constant cocktails. I knew I was setting a bad example. But I didn't want to stop. I couldn't. Even after being hospitalized with pancreatitis, I kept drinking after a five-day breather. I couldn't envision my life without the "fun" of alcohol in it.

Since day one, I drank to get a good buzz. Which turned into something more as time marched on. While I contained my drinking to after work (I did get another job) and on weekends, I knew in my gut that I was over the top. Regular hangovers, a handle of vodka and a box of wine a week, and six dirty martinis a night were not healthy. Or normal.

Falling and slicing my face open in a 2009 drunken stupor didn't stop me. (Thank God for an amazing plastic surgeon who made my chin and eyebrow area normal-looking again.) Neither did a 2018 bout in the hospital with pancreatitis. I just took a five-day breather.

Men I dated told me I drank too much. So, I'd tell them where to go.

But it wasn't until after my last bad bender, on a Saturday night several weeks into the COVID-19 pandemic, that it clicked. One of my children, eyes filled with tears, begged me, "Mom. Please stop drinking."

It broke me.

So, the next day, I got rid of all the alcohol in the house, found an AA meeting, and began my alcohol-free lifestyle.

It was one of the hardest things I've ever done. It literally was day by day. I struggled with the notion that I could never have "fun" again.

My friendships changed. And understandably so. I imagine if you know your booze-pounding friend is suddenly not drinking, Happy Hour invites aren't a good idea. But almost everyone I used to drink with, when I told them I stopped drinking, didn't question it.

"Good for you," was the regular response I got.

They saw it, too.

It hasn't been an easy journey. But it's been so worth it. Just LOOK at what a mess I was in the height of my alcohol abuse. Compare that to today.

Today, April 26, 2024, I mark FOUR YEARS of being alcohol-free. I am a published author. I am a happily married woman with a wonderful extended family I adore. My children are happy and amazing humans (and forgiving). I am healthier. I own a business. I am in grad school and incredibly proud to be a Gator! And I am at peace with the things that transpired in my life, even if they really crushed me at the time. I always hated the saying "everything happens for a reason." But, turns out, it's absolutely true. I was meant to be on this journey, bumps and bruises included.

And I'm happy.

Once I started concentrating on making myself a better person, the positives kept coming. Clarity. Focus. A drive to finally finish writing the book I kept putting on the back burner because drinking had been more of a priority for me. I found the love of my life, which I truly believe was a gift from my Higher Power for getting my act together. He's on the same journey, and we support one another with getting through life's challenges, one day at a time.

I share my very vulnerable story for two reasons.

One, I want my readers to know that the drinking scenes in "Boomerang" were inspired, in part, by my own horrible habit. Some people do unfortunately drink like that. I sure did.

Two, I want others who are in the same spot I was four years ago to know that all is not lost. You CAN make a change. There is a better life out there for you if you want it -- and work for it. And plenty of support out there from people like me who have been there. We're all rooting for you. Because we've been there. And we know better things are on the other side of this battle.

If my story inspires you to make the change you need to in your life, my potential public embarrassment is worth it. Because others' stories were the fuel propelling me to keep going when I wasn't sure I wanted to.

You're not alone. And you don't have to be. If I can do it, I know you can, too. #4years #alcoholfree #alcoholfreelifestyle #noalcohol #alcoholfreelifestyle #sobrietyrocks #SobrietyStrength #sobrietyjourney #youcantoo #CatchBoomerang #BoomerangBookBuzz #amreadingthrillers #amazonbooks #bookworm #author #unputdownablebook #mysteries #boomerangbook #book #pageturner #Taryn #domesticthrillers #psychologicalthrillers #readingislife #authorlife #suspensebooks #psychologicalthriller #booklovers #booklove #today #authorsoffacebook

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Hot off the press! Check out media coverage of S. Jennifer Paulson and her domestic thriller, Boomerang

March 2024

  • S. Jen was featured in a Florida Today story about her upcoming novel. Click here to read it!

  • Access the print edition story by clicking the button below.

Excerpts on publishing Boomerang on S. Jennifer's 49th birthday:

 

“I couldn’t think of a better gift.

 

That way, I will always remember it took me 49 years to have the guts to finally go for it.”

 

“I was determined I would finish this book, no matter what.

 

I even kept a thumb drive of its updates over the years, and told my husband that if something happened to me, please still make sure 'Boomerang' gets published."

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Web images courtesy of Florida Today

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  • Check out S. Jennifer's feature (on pages 20-24) in the March 2024 edition of The Worlds of S.E. Smith magazine. Click here to read it online.  Or view the PDF of the interview by clicking on the photo of the actual interview.

Coverage of past event

Reader event! Come mix and mingle 

Join me and nearly 40 other authors at "An Evening with the Stars," a reader and author event set for Friday, April 5 in Viera. 

Check out the Florida Today article here.

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