BIG GIANT ANNOUNCEMENT

So! This Tuesday the paperback edition of Broken (in the best possible way) comes out and there’s something very special about it that I want you to know.

First, it has a whole extra chapter in it (called For Real Though, Where Exactly Are the Murder Hornets?) just to make it worth buying it again in case you already had the hardcover.

I’m really happy that I wrote that bonus chapter because of what happened when I turned it in. It went to editing and the editors were like, “We noticed that you’re using “they/them” pronouns for your kiddo, but it doesn’t actually match the rest of the book” and I explained that when I submitted the book Hailey wasn’t publicly non-binary but now they are and the editors explained that this was a problem of inconsistency and I was worried they were going to tell me they needed to change it, but instead they were like, “How about if we go back and edit the entire book so Hailey’s pronouns are correct throughout?” And then I literally cried a little.

Books are sort of set in stone once they’re published, even if you later dislike something you wrote it’s usually there for good…they’re like a slice of life of who you were at the time. So to have the entire publishing team on board with a rewrite even though it meant a lot of extra work and pushing the pub date back a little is a big deal. For me. For Hailey. For others who may see themselves in the story. It’s a small thing, but it means a lot.

The other exciting thing is…that I’m going to do a tiny tour with one actual IN PERSON READING/Q&A/SIGNING. It’s at Nowhere Bookshop (duh) and it will be very small since we want to be safe (masks are optional if you’re fully vaxxed, but I’m happy to wear a mask when I sign your book if you like. I’m quadruple vaxxed at this point and am still waiting for my second tail to grow). This will be the first ever physical book event at Nowhere and so I’m doubly excited. (And if you follow Nowhere on instagram we’ll try to show it on instagram live so it’s like you’re there even if you’re not.) Click here to get your ticket.

And if you can’t make it to Nowhere, no worries because I’m also doing a virtual event in coordination with several indie bookshops and it will be absolutely free to attend, and I’ll have links to that soon. And they have lots of books to sell (and more…see details below) so you can order from them too. I needed a moderator for that event so I went on twitter a few weeks ago to ask who y’all would most like to see me in-conversation-with and the overwhelming and incredibly surprising answer was…

Fucking Victor.

I can only assume Victor paid all of you because this is actually happening and this might be the first time anyone hears his side of the story and he is literally rubbing his hands in glee at the surprise questions he can’t wait to grill me about and refuses to tell me in advance. This will either be horrific or hilarious (probably a bit of both) but certainly something to see. I’m a little nervous because in real life Victor is the funny one and I think it’s possible people will watch and go, “Fuck Jenny. When’s Victor’s book coming out?” but it’s a chance I’m willing to take. We won’t be able to see you since it’s virtual but please wear your Team Jenny or Team Victor shirts from the comfort of your home.

And I’ve sent fabulous bookmarks and signed bookplates to a bunch of indie bookshops, so if you buy a book from one of the places hosting the event you may get one of those.

We have tons of bookmarks at Nowhere as well so if you pre-order a paperback we’ll be slipping bookmarks into your signed copies (And yes, I will happily personalize copies to send to your friends or family or even your enemies through Nowhere, and yes, of course I will write “knock knock motherfucker” or implicate you in a crime or anything else you want, and we ship everywhere.) We also just found a box of Broken oracle cards so if you pre-order soon enough it is entirely possible that you might open your paperback Broken and find that I’ve stuffed a random oracle card inside as I signed your book.

And if you can’t snag a ticket to the in-person event, don’t worry because I’m also planning an in-store signing at Nowhere sometime soon that will be open to everyone, where you can bring in your books or boobs or taxidermy or whatever you want signed. No babies please. (I mean you can totally bring your babies, but I won’t sign them because they can’t give consent. A girl’s gotta have her standards.) More on that later.

So the main point here is to say thank you to everyone who has bought a book and thank you to everyone who will buy a book. Preorders make such a difference and they help show stores if they should stock your book and I really hope it does well because I desperately want to thank all the people at my publisher who did so much to make this book release something special. It’s not been an easy time to live in Texas during this time of LGBTQ+ backlash against our youth, and this made me remember there are so many more good people out there who not only accept, but also embrace and protect others…and I really needed to see that. Maybe you do too.

Whether you buy a copy of Broken or get one from the library or just say, “That’s not quite for me” and leave it in a little free library, know that I am grateful for you. You have saved me over and over. Thank you.

I’m fimes.

So Victor was in California visiting some friends and he’s not a big drinker normally but he always drinks too much sake with them, so I was only slightly surprised by this text that came in that night.

Bit concerning…but all of his friends are much older than he is so I wasn’t afraid that they were out at some wild, midnight octogenarian party, but still a bit worried that he was somewhere in California drunkenly wandering the streets.

I reached out:

No answer.

This is when I start to panic a little because I am a chronic over-worrier. I reach out again.

Gentle reader...he was not fimes.

No idea what that meant but I try to call and he doesn’t answer but instead sends this:

Which I assume means “Can’t answer because I’m in an Uber from San Francisco” but then he follows it with “Weird texts” like I’m the one sending the weird texts and at that point I’m certain he’s been kidnapped and was trying to signal for help but couldn’t type because his hands were tied behind his back and now the kidnapper has his phone and is like, “IT’S ALL GOOD HERE. DON’T SEND THE POLICE. I LOVE YOU. WE’RE FIMES.” And so I decided to respond with that quote from that Liam Neeson movie where his daughter gets kidnapped and he’s like, “I have a very specific set of skills and will rip your nut sacks off, kidnappers” because if it was just drunk Victor he’d think it was funny and if it was the kidnappers they’d be like, “HOW DID SHE KNOW?” but I couldn’t remember the exact quote so I googled it but then this came up:

And then I was like, “Is Liam Neeson missing kidneys? Or does he have too many?” and so I clicked on it and turns out it was Liam from One Direction that’s missing a kidney and I was a little pissed at google changing the subject when my husband’s life is on the line, but then the phone rings with a FaceTime call from Victor and I open it expecting to see either a kidnapper or Victor back in his hotel room but instead it’s Victor at a brightly lit Japanese restaurant surrounded by his sweet, smiling older friends all toasting me and it’s very sweet except that I am now on screen in front of mostly strangers while literally having a panic attack with bed-head and pajamas with no bra on and now I have to switch from angry Liam Neeson to happy wife who was not planning to murder their kidnappers but is maybe planning to murder her husband when he gets home for doing an unplanned FaceTime at midnight.

And when he got back home I had a talk with him about responsibility when drinking and he was like, “What are you talking about?” and I was like, “You can’t drink so much you can’t type. You’ll loose a kidney like Liam Neeson!” (I couldn’t remember the other guys name in the heat of the argument) and he was like, “I wasn’t even drunk” so I showed him the texts and he was like, “Oh. Wtf” and I was like, “EXACTLY” and he was like, “Well, you’re overreacting. Clearly I was fimes. I said so myself.” And honestly, I can’t argue with that.

But I can make him this t-shirt and insist he wear it next time he’s with his friends as a reminder to be kinder to his kidneys and to never FaceTime me without prior warning again.

Inheriting a murder mystery

If you’ve followed me long enough you know I have an obsession with collections. Taxidermy, dolls, tarot cards, books, pulp fiction, art, Hagen-Renakers, buttons, and more. Victor collects books and Japanese swords, and we both collect comics but I collect them to read them over and over until they fall apart and Victor collects them to seal them hermetically away from the world. Our latest favorite thing is having a drink while watching Facebook live auctions because it’s all the fun of going antiquing while never leaving your house, but we’ve sort of become those people watching QVC at midnight except instead of buying gold coins of Presidents we’re buying Victorian funeral paraphernalia and skeleton keys and, recently a giant collection of coverless comic books that I had to have because they were so cheap and because vodka exists.

Apparently when comics didn’t sell the shop could just mail back the cover to get credit so I guess this is all the unpopular stock from a shop that closed in 50+ years ago. I currently have 5 full long boxes of basically the same 15 coverless comics and I plan on wallpapering the entire bathroom of Nowhere Bookshop with a box of campy romance comics and leaving all the rest on a table outside for fellow hoarders, comic lovers, crafters. (I’ll keep you posted.)

But for every possible miss there is a glorious hit like the one I got this week.

I collect B&W vintage photos and create books with them. Some are artistic. Some are sad. One entire book is just vintage snaps victor and I have been captioning for our own amusement since we met in the 90s:

So when a giant collection of photography was being auctioned I bid on this enormous tintype (like 6 times bigger than the normal tintype) that had this glittery background because it was beautiful and I’d never seen anything like it. And I won! And then another 3 giant tintypes of people from the same family came up and I was like, “That’s a lot” but the other bidders were like, “THIS FAMILY HAS BEEN TOGETHER FOR 150 YEARS AND THAT CAN’T END NOW” so I adopted the entire family. Most of the time tintypes aren’t labeled because they’re printed on black metal you can’t write on but two of these had some identifying info and my favorite thing is to try to identify the people so that I can find their descendants and send copies of the the images. (More than once I’ve been gifted with this myself and it is magical. Genealogists are angels.) And I was especially interested because this lot came from a larger set labeled “MURDER VICTIMS”.

Tintypes and murder? Yes, please.

(Don’t judge me. This is not me saying I like murder. I just like old stories. Especially the murdery ones. Okay, you can judge me a little.)

The two daughters had their maiden names and “Kent, Connecticut” written in yellowed paper taped to the back. The parents only had the tape, but between Ancestry, Newspapers.com, The Kent Historical Association, genealogy death records, and Find-a-grave, I was able to find them, their history, their fascinating past and their (now long gone) possibly haunted house.

Why would you want to hear a story about perfect strangers who I adopted from photographs? If you are asking yourself that you should stop here because you probably wouldn’t. If you are saying, “SHUT UP AND GET TO THE MURDER” then I am here for you and let’s do this.

(Marge, curator of the Kent Historical is verifying my work so I may update things but I think this is all accurate.)

The Benedict Family of Kent Connecticut – pictures from 1880s, probably

This is German Benedict, the father, who died not long after this photo was taken (can’t find a cause of death).

And this is Flora Louise Benedict, his wife.

Flora had a daughter (Frankie) when she was 19 but didn’t marry German until she was 25 so Frankie was either born out of wedlock or to a previous husband. When Frankie died at age 12 (can’t find causes) her gravestone only listed her as the “daughter of Flora”, so it could be the first although that’s really unusual for the time. Frankie died before these photos were taken.

This is their daughter, Sarah Belle Benedict Bigelow, who got married but didn’t have children and died at 49. (This is the picture I originally bid on.)

And this is youngest daughter, Cora Elnora Benedict Page, who also married but had no children so the family line will die out with her.

This is usually about as far as I can take things and I’ll publish them to Ancestry so people can find them but then I came across this story:

Here is that story. So basically Flora was widowed and then Sarah died, and then Cora was widowed and Flora’s sister was widowed too so Flora, Cora and the sister decided they’d just live together with girl power in their old age and run their farm with the help of two hired hands, until one of them, Sidney Ward, ruined everything.

This is Sidney Ward, total dick.

Sidney was constantly getting drunk and acting the fool so Flora and Cora fired him and he got mad and started shooting his pistol into their window and was like, “Are you ready to die?” and they were like, “Uh, no” but the cops apparently didn’t take it seriously I guess because they were women and their hysterical wombs made them unreliable or something so he came back again with a rifle this time and waited until Flora went out to feed the chickens and killed her. Cora woke up as Sidney barged into her bedroom but Cora was like, “NOT TODAY, MOTHERFUCKER” and beat the shit out of him and pushed him down the stairs and when she screamed for help he left, but turns out he was just lying in wait outside where he’d staged Flora’s body (creepily crossing her arms like you did to bodies back then) and when Cora and the other hired hand found her he shot Cora (but just in the arm) and shot at the other guy but missed. Then he went to their neighbors house with his rifle to ask for tobacco and was like, “I killed two this morning and there’ll be more soon” and the neighbor was like, “Okay, drunkie” and assumed he meant deer or something and shrugged it off. Then he took off into the woods and a bunch of people were like, “Oh, that bastard’s gonna kill me too,” including his brother, and that same brother’s son spotted Sidney out in the woods at the house of the lady who sold everyone moonshine, who was known only as (I shit you not) “old one-eyed John’s wife”. So the nephew tells the posse that are out looking for him and when they find him he tries to grab his gun but they shoot him in the foot and he gives up and is like, “Ow. My foot. Y’all want some moonshine?” and they share a “quart” which seems like a lot of alcohol to share with a wanna-be serial killer but you do you, I guess.

Sidney is taken to jail and a Harvard “alienist” (what shrinks were before they were shrinks) comes to see him because Sidney wants to plead insanity but the alienist is like, “Nah, you’re just a dick” and so Sidney is all, “Fuck it. I did it. No regrets, mother fucker.” (I’m paraphrasing all this, btw.) And the judge sentences him to life in prison and cuts his leg off. (The judge didn’t cut his leg off but when he got to prison they were like, “This leg is gross” and that’s pretty much the only treatment for medically gross legs 100 years ago, but they did say they were going to make him a wooden leg and that seems pretty progressive at the time. But then it gets weird because he’s sentenced to life in jail at Wethersfield State Prison but according to their records he never went there and then he just disappears.

Cora lives on, relatively alone it seems, for another 50 years at the same house where she dies age 99. She was known for sitting on her porch and after she died children would bring sleeping bags and camp in her abandoned house (ah, the 80s) and hear ghosts (that their parents told them were probably just loose cattle) until finally the house was demolished.

And that is the story of the Benedict family.

I might have screamed a little bit.

So guess what came in the mail?

It’s the UK paperback edition of Broken! And if you’re in the UK you should preorder it now because it comes out on Thursday and you not only get the smiling face of Fleece Witherspoon staring into your very soul, you also get a brand new bonus chapter entitled,

For real though, where exactly are the murder hornets?

If I lived in the UK I would do a UK giveaway and give out copies but I don’t so I can’t afford the shipping, but I still want to do a giveaway so if you live in the US and want a UK copy of Broken with Fleece Witherspoon on it just leave me a comment and I’ll randomly send a few signed copies out. (Make sure you use a valid email because that’s how I’ll contact you. I promise not to use it for anything else because I am way too irresponsible to do newsletters or marketing or other professional bullshit.)

And if you live in the UK you can get your copy right now by clicking here. And giant thanks for your support because preorders make SUCH a difference.

The North American version of Broken comes out in a few weeks and I’ll have details on that really soon, including a virtual tour stop with an absolutely insane special guest and maybe even an actual in person event like in the before times. (And of course it’ll also have the bonus chapter in it too.)

PS. In case you’re new here, Fleece Witherspoon died of natural causes, and I only adopt and dress taxidermy that is either older than I am or was ethically sourced from roadkill, etc. Please don’t throw blood on me.

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