Help us, Kenny Chesney

Did you miss seeing Victor and me answer a million ridiculous questions while I wore frozen ice packs because being anxious makes me overheat? If so you will not understand this piece of fried gold that my friend Michael Nachoff sent:

But you are in luck! Because the whole ridiculous evening was recorded so just click here and you can watch it unfold. Also, we accidentally opened it too early but it worked out because we had time to waste so Hunter S. Thomcat got to make a cameo until he got terrified and knocked over everything.

ENJOY!

PS. Visit Scissorland. Unless you live here. In which case, you’re soaking in it.

PPS. Special thanks to Anderson’s Bookshop, Gibson’s Bookstore, Northshire Bookstore, Avon Free Public Library, Half Price Books, Old Firehouse Books, Bookery Manchester, Kepler’s Literary Foundation, Scrawl Books, Bookshop Santa Cruz, Left Bank Books, Square Books, E. Shaver Booksellers, Magic City Books, Towne Book Center and Holt for making this all possible!

TONIGHT…ONE NIGHT ONLY…

So tonight I’m celebrating the paperback release of Broken (in the best possible way) by having a free virtual tour stop where I will do a bit of reading and then be in conversation with Victor. I think this may be the first time any of you have ever heard Victor in real life and I am both excited and absolutley terrified.

I’m not sure what questions he will be asking but last night I had an anxiety dream about it and his questions were:

“Why do you keep buying scissors when we already have scissors?”

“Who turned down the air conditioner?”

“Why are you a maniac in a hotel room?” (Not sexually)

“If you were a mermaid would you rather be top half fish or bottom half fish?

“Do you smell that?”

and

“Why do you keep running over the trash can?”

And I would like to say that, 1. Do you smell that is a terrible question for a virtual event, and 2. if I had a nickel for every time I’ve run over the trash can I would have three nickels, which isn’t very many nickels at all thank you very much.

I do quite like the mermaid one though, so well done, Dream Victor.

Anyway, my point is that I’m a little worried so please leave a question for us in the comments below and if things get weird I can pull those out instead.

PS. It’s not to late to join. (And I’m told it will be close-captioned.) Just click here and pick a wonderful place that’s partnering with us and they’ll set you up. They’re also selling copies of my books if you want to help support them! You’ll get a link to join the zoom later today if you haven’t already. See you tonight!

Come see me on tour without ever leaving the safety of your couch.

So last week the paperback of Broken was released and I did my first live book tour stop in literally years. We did it at Nowhere Bookshop (naturally) and it was also our first ever live reading at the store so it was terrifying on both accounts, but also amazing.

Please note Beyoncé the giant metal chicken staring at me from the back of the room as if she also cannot believe we’ve come so far.

(Insert mental image here of Paul Rudd saying, “Look at us. Who would have thought? Not me.”)

We kept it really small, which was nice for everyone concerned and it held many nice surprises including this gift from a sweet woman who thought I’d enjoy it, and she was very right. I assumed it was soap in the shape of a dental mold but later when I opened it up to shower with I discovered it as an actual teaching model and I was even more pleased and also thankful that I hadn’t tried to loofah up with actual teeth because that seems dangerous.

But if you missed that you’re in luck because I’m doing a free virtual book tour stop in conjunction with my publisher and a bunch of lovely places, and it will be the first time ever that I will be appearing in conversation with...Victor.

This may be a terrible idea but it will at least be entertaining. So click here to see all the places offering a zoom spot and then pick your favorite bookshop/library/foundation from the list to sign up and they’ll send you a link for next Tuesday night. Also, several of these wonderful places have special bookmarks or bookplates or other things that they’re offering if you also buy a copy of the book from them so just check their descriptions for more info.

They asked for a bio for Victor so I sent them this:

Victor Lawson has been married to Jenny for 25 years and still hasn’t figured her out.  Some would call that “keeping the mystery in a relationship.”   He agrees but would still like to know a few things, including why he just opened a box of eyeballs.

Jenny Lawson would like to clarify that it’s a box of old dolls eyeballs (THAT BLINK WHEN YOU MOVE THEM).  Not just random human peepers.  That would be ridiculous because real eyeballs need to be stored in jars, not cardboard boxes.  She would also like to point out that if Victor didn’t want to find a box of eyeballs he shouldn’t be opening her mail.  This is all basic common sense.

Victor would like to point out that the box of eyeballs was actually addressed to him and also wants to know why Jenny is currently in his bio rambling about human eyeballs in jars.

Jenny is reluctantly admitting that yes, the eyeballs *were* in Victor’s name but that’s only because she bought them using his ebay account because she’s forgotten her password again.  And also, it can be scary being a woman in the world who is buying a box of eyeballs from a stranger on the internet and so using a man’s name on the packaging makes it less likely that she will be stalked by some kind of eyeball-collecting maniac.

Victor is sighing deeply and considering pointing out that the maniac buying eyeballs on the internet is literally her, but is deciding that discretion is the better part of valor and is changing his eBay password as soon as he writes this.

Jenny is wondering if it counts as “discretion” if you actively mention the thing you’re supposedly not mentioning, but is willing to drop it because she is too busy making Victor a bunch of fantastic rings with blinking eyeballson them because that way he’ll see how amazing they are.

Victor is wondering if this whole event is a terrible mistake.

Jenny is certain it probably is.  A wonderful, wonderful mistake.

They did not end up using that bio because I guess people don’t want to learn about the correct way of shipping eyeballs, or maybe it was too long but I’m including it here because it’s a good idea of what you’re getting yourself into.

Click here to sign up.

Let’s talk about books, baby

I’ve been a bit behind but I’m about to open up the facebook discussion page for The Fantastic Strangelings Book Club to discuss Kaikeyi by Vaishnavi Patel. (And if you haven’t read it yet I suggest you move it to the top of your TBR list because I found it a strangely encouraging read during all this Roe V. Wade bullshit, and maybe you will too.) If you don’t do facebook I’ll leave my thoughts in the comments below.

(And check your email because we’re going to do a live zoom book discussion with Vaishnavi Patel next Tuesday!)

And this month’s book? The Hacienda by Isabel Cañas.

Mexican Gothic meets Rebecca in this debut supernatural suspense novel, set in the aftermath of the Mexican War of Independence, about a remote house, a sinister haunting, and the woman pulled into their clutches. Suspenseful, fast-paced, interesting 19th century Mexican history, fascinating folklore, a strong female protagonist…it explores religion, colorism, class, and haunted haciendas.   So good. And it’s not too late to get your copy if you want to join the club this month. Click here for details.

We do also have a limited time Fantastic Strangelings shirt on offer at Bonfire (celebrating Dorothy Barker and all the books we read last year) and that campaign ends after this weekend, so don’t miss it. 🙂

And if you’re anything like me and you need more than one book to get you through the month you are in luck because May was one of those months where there were a lot of good choices.

Some of my favorites:

You Made a Fool of Death with Your Beauty by Akwaeke Emezi – A complicated but entertaining romantic novel about finding love (and lust) after loss.

The Children on the Hill by Jennifer McMahon – A novel inspired by Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein that explores the eerie mysteries of childhood and the monsters among us.

The Premonitions Bureau by Sam Knight – an enthralling true story of science and the supernatural as a psychiatrist investigates whether premonitions can prevent disasters…including the premonition that he was about to die.

Siren Queen by Nghi Vo – A lush historical fantasy set in the glittering world of old Hollywood, where stardom sometimes comes with dark bargains and literal soul sacrifices.

The High Desert: Black. Punk. Nowhere. – by James Spooner – A formative coming-of-age graphic memoir by the creator of Afro-punk.  Set in the late 80s.  SO MUCH NOSTALGIA.

Magic Season by Wade Rouse – a poignant, funny and heartbreaking memoir about caring for a complicated (and sometimes toxic) parent

The Cherry Robbers by Sarai Walker – Like if The Virgin Suicides and the Winchester house had a baby.

Happy reading! ~ Jenny

WRITING WITH PETS.

Today is the pub date of the paperback of Broken (in the best possible way) and I’m so excited and nervous because today people will be able to read the new bonus chapter and tonight I’m doing my first live tour stop in SO MANY YEARS. It sold out in two hours but I’ll be doing a virtual one for all of you in a few weeks. More on that soon.

And to celebrate the book, I wanted to share a little bit of behind-the-scenes magic of me actually writing it:

SO. FUCKING. GLAMOUROUS.

Giant thanks to everyone who has ordered a copy or is going to visit their local bookshop to pick one up this week or is going to read it at the library or pass it on to others. Honestly, the best book advertising comes from you guys passing on copies of my books to others and saying, “READ THIS TO UNDERSTAND ME” or sharing your thoughts on it online and I can’t thank you enough for being part of my strange and wondrous community.

Click here to get a copy for yourself.

Listen

So, listen. Tomorrow is the release of the paperback edition of Broken so I should be writing about that but instead I’m writing something imperfectly that I need to get down and that maybe you need to read.

If you’ve been here long enough you already know I battle with depression and probably always will. This last week has been filled with wonderful things, like school plays, Indie Bookshop Day, Hailey’s first prom and book releases. And I’ve loved all of those but I’m also dealing with a medium-sized bout of depression that I’m hoping will just hover and pass soon rather than stay. It’s light enough that I can still function and enjoy life but numbing enough that I wish I could pause these good moments so that I could feel them fully as they are meant to be felt. I surreptitiously record these plays and moments so that the future me who will one day wake up from this fog can appreciate them fully. This sounds insane, I know, but I suspect if you’ve dealt with depression you might understand.

This weekend Victor got tickets for us to see Tori Amos in concert. Tori is probably my favorite performer ever (the person who got me through so many bad teen breakups and hard, lonely times). The fact that Victor owned a Tori Amos CD when we met was a giant contributing factor to me giving him a go, and the first concert we ever went to together was Tori, decades ago.

So it was very sweet when Victor surprised me with tickets for us and for Hailey and their partner and I immediately didn’t want to go and began making every excuse to cancel.

When I’m in a depression I can’t listen to music. It literally hurts because I know the emotions a normal person would feel and the cognitive dissonance of not feeling those emotions makes the depression even more obvious, and the idea of a concert of emotional songs that I won’t be able to appreciate was something I was not looking forward to, and honestly if Hailey and their sweetheart weren’t already excited about it I probably would have just begged off.

But we went, and luckily I’m still at that high-functioning level of medium depression where I have access to most of my energy, even though my emotions are turned down to a muffled sort of noise, and as she started to sing I felt so incredibly lucky to be at a wonderful event with people I love and so incredibly bad about not being able to fully appreciate it and so incredibly selfish for having so very much and not having the ability to live in that moment with the joy that it should have been afforded.

And then a few songs in Tori sang Bouncing on Clouds and I don’t know if it was the music or the moment or a synapsis in my brain spasming or a boost of serotonin from the depression gods, but suddenly I felt something.

She sang, “Is there a lone lost-and-found? Make it easy…we could make this easy…it’s not as heavy as it seems. I think we decide where we take our lives” and I felt it in my heart. And I cried. I cried so much and I was so thankful that Hailey and their partner were sitting behind us and that my mask covered most of my face and that the music was so loud that no one could hear me sobbing so loudly.

I cried for lost time and I cried for joy at coming so far and I cried from an incredible relief at being able to cry and feel, and I cried for how selfish I feel for being depressed even when I’m so lucky, and I cried for thinking it’s selfish to be honest about battling a debilitating disease.

I don’t know where it came from, but afterward I felt clean and like I’d finally put down a heavy weight I’d been carrying. And I thought, I need to write about this now while the memory is still bright, but I also can’t write well when I’m in a depression and I worried (I still worry) that I won’t find the right words. So I stayed quiet.

And then a fellow treatment-resistant depression sufferer who I have admired lost her battle. And I saw people saying, “But why? She had everything. She was just about to go back on tour and accept a giant award” and I had people reach out to me to say, “Sometimes it’s like we’re slowing being picked off” and I see others online saying, “Check on your friends even if they seem happy!” and all of those are valid things but the ignore the fact that we win more than we lose. Even when we battle depression, or cancer, or abuse or a million other things that try to take us out, we fight and win and love and are loved. Every battle won is a victory and every wonderful memory is golden and worthwhile, regardless of how it all ends. We fight and we love and we wait for the world to come back and each time that is worth celebrating. It is worthwhile. It’s easy to paint people by their last actions, but remember that they are so much more than that. They are more than what they battle. They are more than just their struggle. And you are too. And if you are reading this it means that you have lived. And I’m so glad for it. Right now. Right this second. I’m happy that we are here together. Even if we’ve never met, know that you are not alone. Know that if you’ve lost someone to the darkness they were more than their end. Know that if you are thinking dark thoughts it’s okay to reach out…to friends or family or crisis lines or therapists. And if they don’t understand or you think they don’t care, remember that depression tells you terrible lies and keep fighting. Even if you feel alone right this moment I promise that there would be an empty spot in life without your light. There are future friends who can’t wait to meet you so they will feel less alone as well. There will be a time when you come out of the darkness and can breathe again and all of this will look so strange to your eyes.

And until then, I’ll wait in the lone lost-and-found with you. Quietly. But there. Waiting for the music to work again. Because all of these moments are worth it.

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