I’m doing a virtual tour in support of my new novel, ROAD OUT OF WINTER. Upcoming on Tuesday 9/22 at 7pm EST is a reading sponsored by A Novel Idea, an independent bookstore in Philadelphia. You can find out more and register to attend (it’s free!) here.
A Balm to the Season
I actually felt relieved after my book release. There was so much pressure leading up to that day. There was much that needed answering—on social media, on email—and promoting and organizing. There was a launch party. To my amazement, my friends showed up. I couldn’t see or hear them, but I saw their names in the corners, their questions in chat. What better metaphor for the way we live.
Now I’m back to waiting.
I wrote a book to the absolute best of my ability. It got good reviews. And still, nothing. What will it take to change your life? I’m not sure, except continuing. I’ve had two tattoos in my mind for awhile. I want to get them once it’s safe—and now I have a new idea for a tattoo, a couple of lines from Octavia E. Butler, one of my touchstones. The only question is where on my body to put them and when.
I watch my son humming as he recreates his mansion in a video game destroyed by fire, a fire caused by the massive fireplace he built in the game. I guess I just have to remake my mansion. I guess I have to build it and build it, no matter the fire— and maybe someday people will show up to a party, maybe they’ll return to the older rooms and see how grand they are; they have always been this way, people just overlooked them in a street of other houses.
So much of publishing is utterly out of your control. You do your part, beyond it, and then … you do it all again, mostly in silence—the only sound, your own humming. You start with a brick.
So much of our lives is just waiting now for this current time to end, to endure and hopefully survive it. I’ve never wished for time to go by so quickly, to erode what is already eroding in my life, to get there faster, even to a year in the future, when we might have a vaccine (I hope!), when it’s safe to be together again in the sun.
What is a balm to this season? Its ending.
I love fall, I love Halloween. I love the trees turning colors. I love the turning of the wheel. Cooler nights, stuffed pumpkins, darkness, ghost stories, horror movies, costumes, early night, soup. I have always loved running around in the shadows. I have always loved haunted things. Now I’m trying to plan for my child’s and my favorite season without knowing if we can leave the house, go out or receive trick or treaters, wear costumes for anyone but ourselves.
There is a fire ban in the state where I live. How can I make things glow without flame? How can I make magic for my child who barely still believes in it? I’m planning to decorate early and a lot, trying to use what we have, making things dark and magic with a glue gun, construction paper, wire.
And to write. To build a new mansion, as dark as the book I wrote before it—but this one is strung through with winged things. It’s set in a river town in Ohio. It has deep secrets, and like the first book and everything I write: it has my whole entire heart.
The best cure for publishing a book is to write another book. The best cure for time is just time.
I feel I talk about herbs for anxiety a lot, but that’s what we need now more than ever. So lemon balm is a good herb to have in your arsenal. It tastes sweet with honey. It’s gentle enough for children. Lemon balm is easy to remember for anxiety, because it rhymes with calm. Interestingly, it’s also called Melissa. You can find it in tea or liquid extract, or grow it easily in your own garden.
I’ve been trying to plant one of those, though we’re in a new place with a new climate, and have limited space for growing. I’ve been trying to give it time.