We’re haunted

So I was working and I kept hearing this incredibly loud stomping like there’s a Frankenstein upstairs and Victor is out of town so it had to be Hailey so I called her and was like, “What are you doing?  Clogging?  Stomping spiders?  Because it’s incredibly loud” and she was like, “I’m in bed reading” and obviously she was lying and was ashamed of clogging (because frankly, it was really not great) so I was like, “Ok, whatever” but then 30 seconds later it started again so I went upstairs to catch her in the act but she was totally in bed and she was all, “What are you stomping on out there?” and I was like, “Dude.  We’re haunted.”  So I started recording on my phone as we tiptoed around the house following the sounds of the footsteps and suddenly there were creepy mumbled voices and so Hailey picked up a vase and held it menacingly over her head because I guess she doesn’t understand how ghosts work and then I stuck my head out of the window and turns out there were a bunch of dudes on the roof so I told Hailey, “There are dudes on the roof?” and she was like, “Ghost dudes?” and that’s when I realized I really needed to expose her to more horror films because obviously I’ve failed as a mother.  Also, turns out Victor just forgot to tell me that he’d scheduled people to check for roof damage while he was out of town and honestly, I’m relieved to know what it was but also just a little bit disappointed.

Well, helloooooo there.

Last week I found this old antelope with a broken ear in a thrift shop and it looked at me as if to say…

“Really?”

And the “Really?” I heard was like, “Really, you’re going to pass me by when you have a bookshop wall that probably needs magical taxidermy?  I’VE BEEN WAITING HERE FOR DECADES” and I was like, “OMG, you are my everything”.   Victor heard the same baffled “Really?” except it was out loud and coming from his own mouth as saw me cradling my new sister as I walked through the store.

I’ve spent the last week deciding how to recreate her majesty, trying all of my wigs and hats on her.  Antelope Margaret?  Antelope Brontë?  Farrah Fawncett?  Goldie Fawn?  Fawn Solo?  Antelope of Green Gables??  They were all good, but one name rose above the others as I pulled out my padded headbands and scarves and costume jewelry.

May I introduce…

Antelope dressed as Anee Boleyn

Antelope Boleyn.

Long may she reign.

Fucking nailed it, y’all. I can’t even tell which one is which.

Is today hard?

Is today hard?  It feels hard.  Maybe it’s just me.

Maybe it’s the weather.  Or the stress of Hailey doing her finals and me being overwhelmed with everything.  Today feels like everything is wrong and dusty and too much and not enough.  Today feels like everyone hates everyone else because they feel like they were hated first, even though probably none of this is even real…it’s all just me and my fucked up brain chemistry feeling like everything is about to fall apart.

I know it’s not.  Logically.  Rationally.  I know that things are going well.

My editor sends me a third round of edits and loves what I’d done with the book.  It’s so close to being done and a year ago I thought I’d never finish it.  The bookstore is overwhelming and terrifying and Elizabeth and Victor are on edge with the impossible amount of what still has to be done but realistically this is normal and expected and the incredible support of the book club membership has saved us during these extra months of paying rent and construction on a building that won’t be ready until February or March.

There is far more good than bad but still I feel underwater today…panicky.

I take Hailey to a local university so she can take her finals for her online high school courses.  It’s pass or fail, these seven tests, and it means a half year of work could go up in smoke during a bout of test-taking anxiety and I try not to let my contagious anxiety rub off on her.  While she sits in the room with the proctors I wander the grounds of the convent that started the university.  I walk through the cemetery of women buried 100 years ago under the names they chose as nuns.  Everyone for what seems like a mile is Sister Mary.  Then a Joan of Arc.  The graves from the last 30 years are smaller as the cemetery starts to run out of room.  The bodies are buried three to a grave, one on top of the other.  I wonder if that will be a problem during the resurrection but I suspect if there is a resurrection you’re probably safer with a bunch of tough-ass zombie nuns around to make sure everyone is out.

I say a little prayer asking forgiveness for laughing about zombie nuns in case there is a God, and then I say another one for wondering if there is and then I realize I’ll be there forever asking for forgiveness if I don’t stop and besides, I’ve known a few nuns and former nuns and most of them had a fairly strong sense of humor so it’s probably fine.

I sit on a bench and read about the women here who battled with bishops and cardinals over control of the places they made their own, and about this convent that focused on education and on helping those less fortunate.  I read about how they insisted on integration in their schools long before desegregation began and about the women laying here who struggled in their own ways…who died far too young in many cases…whose stories I can’t research because they are buried under the names of women who came before them…and who were known for their struggles as well.

Something landed on my foot.  A dead butterfly.

Only it wasn’t.  It was hard and beautiful and fragile and in the exact shape of a butterfly or moth.  Like something hand-crafted from the pages of an old book.

And then there was another one.

They were everywhere, suddenly.  These tiny, rustling, not-quite- butterflies that were picked up in the wind.  I followed them to a garden owned by one of the nuns. There were dozens of birdhouses hanging from trees and little fairy-like-houses and finally a climbing vine reaching toward the sun, thick with green clusters of flowery seed pods.

 

And underneath, dozens of butterflies.  When the seed pods dry up they wither and fall and turn into butterflies, and fly away to begin again….or to land on someone’s foot when they need some sort of distraction….like some sort of sign that everything will be okay in the end.

It will.

For me and for you.  Whether we are fighting a seemingly impossible battle with something real or with the terror in our own heads, it will be okay.  We will fight and we will win and sometimes that victory will simply look like laughing in a graveyard.  The battles last forever.  Longer than we will.  But victories can last just as long.

We are all climbing….looking for the sunshine…blooming wherever we can.  We light up the world if it’s looking. We will not last.  We will wither eventually.  But it’s not the end.  We fly on and leave behind strange and beautiful things that grow anew.  You and me and Hailey and the women beneath my feet and everyone else you know and will ever know.

But right now you are green and beautiful in your own specific way that is unique to you and I’m so glad to know you, even if only through a screen.

And suddenly, somehow, the day feels just a little less hard.

I hope it does for you too.

 

Thanks for coming to my TED talk.

A few months ago I finally did the TEDx talk that I’d been a nervous wreck worrying about.  I ended up having an actual anxiety attack in the middle of it.  One so bad that I stopped talking and stood in silence for a terrible minute trying to breathe.  I was told that if I really fucked up I could leave the stage and come back and start all over again but I knew at that point that if I walked off I would never go back so I stayed there.  And people were kind and waited with me.  And when it was done I got a standing ovation, which I didn’t really see because I was too busy running away, but Victor said it was amazing.

When they were editing the video they asked if I wanted to leave the anxiety attack in and at first I thought we should because it was a real look at life with mental illness.  And then I remembered how many people, like myself, can fall into a panic attack when they see someone else have a panic attack in that contagious sort of way that broken minds work and so I told them to make their best judgement.  In the end they cut out the awkward minute and I think maybe that’s for the best, although you can tell the changes in my voice from before and after.

Today the video went live so you can see it for yourself.  It is not polished and pretty.  I say “um” a million times.  I almost cry more than once.  But I’m proud of it.  It’s the best I could do with what I was at the moment and sometimes that has to just be enough.

And if you want to watch it, it’s right here:

Thank you for listening.  And for telling your own stories as you see fit.

Introducing the first book pick for the Fantastic Strangelings Book Club!

Hello and welcome to the first month of the Fantastic Strangelings Book Club!

If you’ve already become a member of the book club you got an email yesterday telling you what our first book pick is.  Yay!  (If you didn’t get that email check your spam filter and if it’s not in there email us at orders@nowherebookshop.com so we can make sure you’re in the system.  This post will cover most everything in the first letter.)

If you’re reading this and going “THERE’S A BOOK CLUB?  HOW DID I MISS THIS?” then yes, there is and you should click here if you want in.

So first off, THANK YOU.  I honestly was crossing my fingers that there would be at least 50 people in this strange little book club.  At present?  There are over 1,100 of us.  WTF, y’all.  That is amazing for a lot of different reasons but here are just a few:  This enables Nowhere Bookshop to stay in business even during these months where the building is being gutted and costing a fortune.   And secondly, an author selling 1,000+ books unexpectedly can make such an incredible impact.  It helps in ways you can’t possibly imagine and it helps grow the industry so that more people are able to tell their stories.  It encourages publishers to take chances on authors and that means more stories for all of us.  Everyone wins.

The only downside is that because I so drastically underestimated how many of you wanted in to this amazing club it means we need to switch over to a different payment system because the one we were using would require us to print out each one by hand and then our hands would fall off.  So, if you’re a member you’ll be getting an email from us via Zoho Subscriptions (sometime between now and Wednesday) with your subscription info that you just need to enter your payment info into.  Sorry about the growing pains here.  Using Zoho will simplify billing for us going forward and will make it easier for you to manage your subscription without having to contact us first.  (PS.  You’ll be billed on the 10thof each month in case you’re wondering.)  If for some reason you haven’t received the Zoho email by Thursday reach out to us at orders@nowherebookshop.com and we’ll help you.

So now for the exciting announcement.  The first book will be going out to you later this month and it’s so good.  It’s called Follow Me to Ground by Sue Rainsford.

(Synopsis:  Follow Me to Ground is a haunted, surreal debut novel about an otherworldly woman and her father who are touched by the power to heal illness and live on the edge of a village where they help sick locals – or “cures”- by cracking open their damaged bodies or temporarily buying them in the reviving, dangerous Ground nearby. Slim but authoritative, Follow Me to Ground lingers long after its final page, pulling the reader into a dream between fairy tale and nightmare, desire and delusion, folktale and warning.)

I’m not sure if it’s horror, sci-fi, fantasy realism, folklore, or all four but it’s really haunting and weird and strange and beautiful and as soon as I read it I immediately gave it to my mom to read so I could discuss it with someone and I can’t wait until you read it because someone needs to talk it through with me.

The book isn’t released in America until the very end of the month but we reached out to the author and publisher and they were so thrilled to have so many of you wanting to read it that they agreed to send us copies early. Also, as a bad-ass surprise thank you the author is personally signing 1200 bookplates for the first 1,200 members so if you get in early enough you’ll see that in your package along with your pin and book.

WHOOP!

There is a facebook page for the Fantastic Strangelings Book Club but if you don’t do facebook and still want to discuss the book you can totally do that here.  Each month when the book ships I’ll announce it on the blog the comments on that post will stay open on that post for discussion. Also, if you just want to read the book and not discuss anything you are not alone so no worries if your favorite part of the book club is just reading and then avoiding all contact.

A few of you were concerned about what the costs were going to be each month since all books have different cover prices and that can be hard to budget for so we’ve decided to just charge a $25 flat fee for each book (plus tax if you’re in Texas, and shipping) each month.  Most hardbacks are $23-$27 a month so we’ll eat the extra if it’s more and if we end up with a less expensive book that month we’ll add something extra (like Nowhere postcards or magnets or stickers) to make sure you always get your money’s worth.  (Shipping is $5-8 if you’re in America but outside America it’s $20, which is sort of insane and makes me want to open a tiny outlet in Canada in the future.)

The books and nameplates should come in the next week or two (the author is in Ireland signing her little fingers to the bone right now) and as soon as they get here we’ll start packing them and whisking your lovely packages off to you.

Happy reading, you magnificent lovers of books!

PS.  I just devoured the book for February and it is SO GOOD, y’all.  It’s non-fiction true crime history and so fascinating.  And I haven’t read the book I think I’m picking for April yet but what I’ve seen is hilarious and you are going to love it.  I don’t want to give out any titles until we’re sure we can get enough books to fill all the orders but I’m so excited.

PPS.  Are you overwhelmed by this long post?  No worries.  Here’s the TLDR: If you’ve already signed up for membership you should have an email telling you that you’re gonna be getting an email which will tell you how to sign up for the subscription service in the next few days.  If you didn’t get that first email from us within a day of signing up just let us know at orders@nowherebookshop.com.  If you don’t get the second letter from us via Zoho subscription by Thursday just email us and we’ll make sure you’re taken care of.  If you haven’t signed up yet but want in then just go here to sign up and you will get the welcome letter from us (basically everything in this post) within a day or so (we’re doing this all manually so please be patient) and then the zoho email later to complete your stuff.  If you want to sign up now but can’t afford it at the moment you can be an honorary member and read along with a library copy.  The Facebook page is open to everyone.

PPPS.  For real, thank you.  I super crazy love you.

 

 

 

 

I should make people sign an acknowledgement before they come in the house.

So the exterminator came over and asked to use the bathroom and I was like, “Sure” and then I heard him yelling and assumed he was yelling at someone on the phone in the bathroom but he was getting more upset and then I realized he was yelling, “I SAID, THERE’S SOMEONE IN HERE” in a really panicked sort of way and that’s when I realized that Ferris Mewler was mad that someone was peeing without him and was doing that thing he does where he tries to open the bathroom door and if it’s locked he hangs on it and aggressively stomps on the door jamb so it sounds like a maniac is pounding at the door while trying to force the door knob and I was like, “SORRY, HE DOESN’T SPEAK ENGLISH OR HAVE PERSONAL BOUNDARIES” and I realized that he would never believe that a cat could open doorknobs while pounding on the door so I took a picture and then I thought it was probably even weirder that he could hear someone trying to break the door down while someone else took pictures and that’s why I have to hire a new exterminator.

Happy New Year!

Last year was hard.  Lots of personal struggles and mental illness bullshit and seven family deaths in the last six weeks.  I had some wonderful moments but I also often felt like I was slogging through life and that I would never finish anything.  But in the last few weeks the depression that slows me down so much lifted and I was able to work again like an almost normal human being and last night, just hours before the new year rolled in, I finally finished edits on my next book.

MAY I REQUEST THE LOUDEST OF WHOOPS?

Of course, it’s possible that I will need more edits and even if the edits are accepted I still have to do copy-editing and legal review and a million other things but it is such a relief to know that right this moment my next book is close to being done.  And hopefully this year it will find you in the world.

I’m writing this to remind myself that it can be done.  That even when life and the world and your broken brain seem to collude against you things will brighten again.  I’m writing this to remind myself that even when I feel like a failure these small steps forward eventually add up to something.  And I’m writing to remind you of that too.  It’s okay to struggle, to feel worthless, to fail and to question…but you will get through this.  I will too.

My amazing friend Adele Morse agreed to read some of my book as I was struggling to finish it and it inspired her to create an amazing faux-taxidermy mascot for the book:

Her name is Shirley and she’s misplaced her glasses, her wine glass is empty and she has a giant bowl of comfort macaroni and cheese that is not sharing with anyone and I have never felt more seen in my life.

So here is to full glasses and more macaroni and finishing books and to remembering that it all works out in the end.

Probably.

Happy 2020, y’all.  Shirley and I are toasting you right now.

Happy birthday to us all!

Hello and happy birthday to us!

If you too are born in the perineum of no man’s land that stretches from Christmas to New Years I salute you and recognize your struggle.  But today is going to be different because today is now your birthday too and if you are reading this my birthday wish is for you to do something really lovely for yourself or someone else today.

Go out for pie, watch your favorite movie, buy that thing you’ve been thinking about, take a lovely long bath, bring donuts to a friend and re-watch your favorite movie, go snuggle animals at the shelter, rob a bank, go to the park, whatever makes you happy.

And then when someone says “Why are you doing all this nice stuff for yourself” you can say, “FUCK YOU, ASSHOLE.  I DESERVE IT.”  Or you can just say, “It’s a birthday gift…because I’m a good friend“.

Happy birthday, us!

PS.  Unrelated but fun:

Revenge is a dish best served…meowing.

I was going to write about this, but then Xmas happened and I got distracted so in case you didn’t see it on twitter…this bit of magic happened:

*********

Victor:  Why do you keep calling the cat by different names?

me:  Because there are so many good ones and I can’t pick just one.  Margaret Catwood?  Jules Purrn?  Emily Lickinson?  Purrman Meowville?  Jane Pawston?  Holden Clawfield?

Victor:  Terry Scratchett?

me:  Never change.

 

 

 

 

 

Book-Loving Strangelings Unite!

Have you ever wanted to join a group of well-read, like-minded weirdos who have your back and aren’t afraid to stab a bitch in the thigh with a fork if things get out of hand?

Have you yearned to join a book club because you love reading but you have misgivings because it would require you to leave your house and put on pants and talk to people in real life?

Have you ever read a book and thought, this is the best thing I’ve ever read but I’m not sure anyone else in the world will get it and then later you find someone whose favorite book is also about murderous dwarves or true stories from morticians or hilarious essays or some other thing you thought made you a total weirdo but actually made you just the right kind of weirdo?

If the answer to any of these questions is yes, then your presence is formally requested at the Fantastic Strangeling Book Club.

badge for the club. includes image of bloggess, hamlet von schnitzel and books

WTF is a Strangeling?

A strangeling is a word I made up to describe those people who are strange and unusual in the best possible way.  They often feel like outsiders or misfits until one day they find their strange tribe of others and then realize that they are not alone.  Additionally, your spellcheck will try to change it “strangling” and that actually makes things very interesting when you email your dick boss that you can’t stay late because you have work to do for your strangling club.  EVERYONE WINS.

What is the Fantastic Strangeling Book Club?

It’s a monthly book selected by me delivered right to your front door.

What does it cost and what do I get?

There’s a $10 enrollment fee to get set up.  Then you’re charged the list price of the book (plus tax if applicable) and shipping every month when the book ships out. All books will be brand new that month – some hardcovers and some trade paperback originals.  You can cancel at any time.

What else do I get?

Each new enrollment gets a bad-ass Nowhere Bookshop enamel pin in their first shipment. We’ll also include little gifts randomly throughout the year.

When will the book club actually meet?

HAHAHAHAHA.  Oh, you’re serious. This is a book club made by introverts for introverts so you never have to actually leave your house unless you totally want to.  We have a special facebook group where we can discuss the book and make friends and feel social even when we’re hermity and maybe sometimes we’ll even be joined by the author.  If you live in San Antonio I’m guessing there will be meet-up by members all the time so if you want to come out and have a drink when the store opens that will totally be amazing.

But what if I’ve already bought this month’s book? 

These will all be new releases so hopefully that won’t ever happen but if for some reason you have a weird conflict (like the author looks like the girl who stole your Lisa Frank notebook in 7thgrade) then you can email us before we ship and we’ll try to send you something else or you can skip that month and pick back up next month.

I already have too many books.

I’m sorry.  I understand these words separately but not in that order.

I can’t afford a membership and now I’m sad.

I totally get it.  If you can’t afford to be an official member of the club you can still be an honorary member.  I’ll be announcing the book of the month online so you can join our discussions there.

Can I buy a membership as a gift for someone else?

Yes you can!  And just like your own membership you can cancel at any time so if you want to just give a membership for 3 months or a year or whatever you can do that without fear of being locked in.

So what do I do now?

Click here to join the crew now.  Or if you have questions, just email us at orders@nowherebookshop.com.

Did we just become best friends?

Yup.