Getting Excited

Yes, I may have had the kind of day perfectly encapsulated by a gross soap booger, but then I got in my car and I drove home and the Butcher made me laugh. And I cried a little, because it was such a relief to come to a place untouched by the stupidity of my day.

I also did a really good interview, I think, about the book. So, that makes me happy. And tomorrow! Tomorrow the new stories start here. So, if you’re not sure about whether you’d like the book, prepare to see half of it role out all October long. I really like these stories. I mean, I love last year’s too, but I’m excited to tell you these stories.

And, even if you have read them in the book, I hope you’ll still swing by to talk about them in the comments. I know we don’t get to “The Purple Impala” until late in the month, but I’m really curious to know if anyone thought he was full of shit. Not that he was making it up, but that he was having a little bit of a breakdown and that his encounters weren’t real.

I’ll be interested to hear.

I’m also glad the Devil’s back. He’s a fun character to write.

Ooo, and don’t forget that there’s a story every Friday night at Pith. I saw today that the first one is scheduled to actually happen, and that gave me a little thrill.

A Fitting Metaphor for My Day

I was in the bathroom, washing my hands, when I squooshed down on the soap dispenser, as you do, and out came some soap and, at the tail end of it, so way up in there, came what I can only describe as a giant booger.

I have been trying, with my whole imagination, to convince myself that it was just congealed soap.

But damn.

It flopped into the sink looking like a bloody loogey.


Yeah, I walk the Cat and the Dog Some Mornings

We were walking back across the AT&T yard when I saw the orange cat all pissed off waiting for us. Like, “Christ, people, I have been looking everywhere for you.”

Then he walked us home.

I think he was a German Shepherd in a former life.

You can’t really tell it in this picture, but Mrs. Wigglebottom was all excited because we saw a possum in the road. She really wanted to sniff it, but I noticed that it was lying there unsquooshed. So, I wasn’t sure it was actually dead. I made the dog come clear into the middle of the road with me to circle around it.

I mean, sure, it would have been amusing for you if I’d been attacked by a possum, but terrifying for me.

And possibly deadly.

Or so I imagine.

What If Everybody Hates It?!

One of the Goodreads contest winners did not think the book was that great.  Like kind of medium bad–the stories too short, some of them pointless. Ugh. What if it does suck? What if folks don’t get what I’m up to because I don’t do it well?

I may not be cut out for this part. I feel like I should write that person an apology. But what if my apology sucks?

Bleh. It’s weird how a ton of people telling you they like it is so easily unbalanced by a person being like “this is not great.”

Edited to add: Here. Ugh. Here. I promise, I won’t do this every time. The first one is just strange.

Not “Seduction” nor “Sex Stunt”

This is quite possibly the most bizarre story I’ve heard all day. James O’Keefe, of ACORN pimp fame, was going to lure a CNN reporter onto a boat stocked with handcuffs, dildos, and lube and attempt to “seduce” her, whether or not she wanted it, and keep her on the boat as long as possible.

Is it because it’s O’Keefe that we’re taking his word that this is a joke? A man and his friends conspire for weeks to get a woman on a boat where there are handcuffs and sex toys and cameras and the media goes along with his framing of it as a “seduction” or a “stunt“? Really?

That doesn’t strike anyone else as strange?

People really think that, when a person misleads another person about the place they are supposed to meet (she thought they were going to meet in an office, he was going to switch it to the boat), plots to get her in a small, confined space it would be hard to escape from, where he has restraints, that she’s going to, if she did get onto that boat, be all “Oh, James, you bad boy. Of course we should fuck.”


Not that she would be terrified and feel, and rightly so, that she was in the process of being kidnapped and possibly raped?

And this is a joke or a stunt how?

Because O’Keefe says so?

It was skeezy enough that Izzy Santa risked her job to warn Boudreau off. That doesn’t sound like Santa was sure nothing bad was going to happen to Boudreau.

So, why are we acting like this is just a joke gone awry?

The New Kitty is Learning Too Much from the Orange Cat

I think I told you about the time I accidentally bit the orange cat, right? I was innocently watching TV and eating some popcorn chicken when all of a sudden, I had a mouth full of cat, because he was going for the chicken in my hand at the same time I was putting my hand into my mouth?

I mean, it makes me envy people whose cats beg for food. I’m sure it’s annoying, but at least they’re not trying to steal it out of your mouths.

Anyway, so we’re sitting here last night, eating our burgers, when who should brave the dog, jump right up on the couch, and get right into the Butcher’s business and eat off the far end of his burger?!

I can haz cheezburger, indeed, new kitty.

Oh, Tennessee Dems

It’s crap like this that makes you understand why they’re going to loose. You can’t just make a set of rules that makes your buddy into the only person qualified for a sweet job and not have people kind of grossed out at you.

Honestly, I am perplexed as to whether they just thought this stuff was their due, like some folks think the per diem is, or if they just thought that, if they did this, the inevitable payback would be so awesome it would be worth the risks.

I just don’t know.  It’s really disgusting and demoralizing.

It’s going to be very bad living under Republican rule, but the reasons we ended up here are just blatantly obvious.

I’m glad they’re having hearings into this.

A Few Things Worth Thinking About

1. I’m getting really excited for y’all to see this year’s ghost stories. Yes, those of you who bought the book and read it will have already seen them, but you can still come here and talk about which ones you like and which ones you hate and why.

2. I’ve scheduled my five for Pith! I think I have a good mix over there. I’m hoping the Nashville Feed guys will do “All the Same Old Haunts” (which reminds me, I need to get with them), which I used as my last story at Pith (I also did “Laura,” the Baptist Sunday School Publishing one, “Lucy White,” and one I’m not remembering off the top of my head) but, other than that story, I’m going to try to tell different stories different places so that, if you bump into publicity for the book, it doesn’t suck because it’s just the same stories over and over.

3. Speaking of Pith, I think I have a couple of good ones over there today. One on how unrealistic it is to assume that Muslims get along better than other religious folks and the other on witches infiltrating Belmont. I especially appreciate them letting the Parsons/Hubbard crack go through, because Hubbard’s links to Crowley are really fascinating to me.

4. Barry Mazor linked to this awesome story on his Facebook page, so I’m sharing it with you.

5. This awesome thing that Mick Foley wrote about Tori Amos will break your heart. I believe professional wresting is an art, an amazing art that takes a lot of skill. Foley was an amazing artist. The thing for me is that so was Chris Benoit. It takes no effort for me to picture him coming off the top rope, his arms spread, his legs straight behind him, the mat far below him, and, for a second, you thought he might never come down. And then his brain turned to mush and he killed his family and himself. Because, we’re learning, that’s what happens to folks who take repeated, even minor, head injuries–wrestlers, football players, even Lou Gehrig probably didn’t die of the disease named after him, but instead, of this brain mushing.

I love wrestling, but I just can’t watch it any more. I feel like I’m watching drug-users commit beautiful, slow-motion suicide in front of me and I have to turn away.

I’m afraid for Mick. I hope he stays okay.

Another Thing that is Different

I already knew this about books at, but I didn’t really realize it about authors. Books at bookstores, especially big chain bookstores, end up on tables or facing out or on endcaps because someone has paid to put them there. Books at Amazon are ordered by algorithm. Any book can appear just as important as any other book in the results. This has been really nice for small publishers whose books appear to have equal value to the big guys in terms of the consumer’s experience.

On a side note, did anyone else see that article about how independent bookstores seem to be making a small comeback precisely because people have come to value them for their curatorial role? How will I find a book I might like? I go to someone I trust to tell me.

Anyway, at Amazon, I look like a real author. I’ve got some dates. I’ve got a book trailer (the same one I posted here, but I changed the ending to say “Available wherever books are sold” instead of “coming soon”). I’ve got  a picture and a bio. People, I have not even told some of the people invited to the book launch party that I’ve written a book, just that they should come hear me tell some ghost stories. “I wrote a book” still seems like something kind of ridiculous. I wrote some stories, for this blog, and y’all liked them and convinced me to collect them.

It wasn’t hard. I didn’t suffer (at least in the writing part. This part has been a mess). I had great, great fun. I didn’t drink too much or need to go off to the woods to get it done. I certainly didn’t bleed all over the page. Shoot, if writing were always like this, I would write books all the time.

So, I feel a little fraudulent. I think a lot of creative people do. Best to just ‘fess up to it and move past it.

Still, if one of the barriers to entry for self-publishers is “you don’t seem like a real author,” Amazon doesn’t have that barrier.

Being a Minister’s Kid

When I was at the AMA meeting, we ended up, beforehand, briefly talking about what it’s like to be a minister’s kid. I tell people it’s a lot like being a military brat, because that’s the easiest answer, but the truth is that it’s not. Military kids are good friends to make if you’re a minister’s kid, because they know what it’s like to so often be the new kid, but they don’t really know what it’s like to feel like the pet of some large group of people.

In an interview I did, which y’all will be able to read at the end of the month, the interviewer asked me what brought me to the supernatural genre and this light went on–I have never not been in the supernatural genre. Literally, my whole worldview, from the time I was born, was shaped by stories of supernatural beings.

One of the things I’ve been wondering about with this whole Bishop Long thing is what, exactly, is the nature of his calling? I know callings take all kinds of forms. But did he literally hear a voice? Did he just feel called? Was he always just looking for a con he could run?

I sometimes think there is a distinction Christians could do a better job of making for themselves. There’s a difference between being tapped into supernatural energy and being in communication with God, I think. One is the static you get when the radio is working. The other is the station coming in.

I suspect a lot of ministers mistake the former for the latter. Of course, how could you know?

How do you know if you’re crazy? Worse, how do you know if you’re wrong?

It’s funny, I was over setting up a reading for the book and I had heard that the woman who runs the place has great ghost stories. And they were! And I was telling her some stuff and, half way through, I thought, is it weird that I accept, no, know, that places have a vibe, a kind of energy and that I just talk about it like it’s completely apparent to everyone?

It’s so true to me, like if you walk into a room and it’s cold, you don’t really doubt that it’s cold. If you walk in and it feels comfortable or not, I also don’t doubt that. It just seems like available information. I don’t even think of it as supernatural. But it’s woo woo crap–vibes. Places having vibes.

Anyway, I think the only people who really know what it’s like are other ministers’ kids.

Then Let’s Tax the Per Diems Like Extra Income

Seriously, even if you’re too cowardly to vote on what you think you should be paid and are instead basically proudly embezzling from the state so that you can pay yourself what you think you deserve, taxpayers, voters, and other state employees who’ve not had a raise in years be damned, if you’re going to say that it’s income, then let’s tax the per diems as income.

We need a good tax lawyer here, but I have to wonder, at what point does the IRS get involved when legislators start publicly admitting that they’re using per diems as income even though it’s not taxed as such?

Edited to add: Ha, well, so much for shooting off my mouth before I read the whole article. The per diems are taxed. Kind of. The article makes it sound like only the legislators living within 50 miles of Nashville have their per diems taxed. So, they’re income for some folks but not for others? I still say this looks like something the IRS should look into.

When I Start to Think You Have Skeletons in Your Closet, So to Speak

It’s not the discomfort with gay people or even the preaching against gayness. I hate that, but I get it. It’s when you reach for the “cutsey” insults–“in the interest of promoting sanctimonious notions of “tolerance” and “diversity,” we dress up our military like Poochie poodle in a pink sweater.”

I’ve been thinking a lot about the allegations against the Bishop in Atlanta and how it’s worked for years–people who get off on exploiting people who have way, way less power than them preaching against homosexuality because it gives them cover. I really think that the reason they’re preaching so hard against homosexuality now is that they know that, when people have good models for same-sex relationships (both friendly, platonic relationships and sexual), their fucked-up relationships become easier to recognize. It’s one of the reasons they preach so hard about the “proper” roles for men and women. They don’t want their fucked-up relationships being seen for what they are.

And to me, it’s that need to get the extra dig in that just says “I’m deflecting you from looking too closely to what I’m up to.”

Burning Down the House

One begins to wonder if a goal of the McWherter campaign isn’t to demoralize liberals so much that they stop voting. Or maybe to bait some prominent lefties into supporting Haslam, so that they can pounce and be all “See! He’s really the liberal!”

But have they not considered that a. There are no prominent lefties in the state and b. McWherter has no credibility with conservatives.

Plus, here’s the thing. The state legislators have been saying to lefty-er groups “Oh, you have to vote for us, even if you think we kind of stink, because otherwise the Republicans will redistrict us out of existence and then you’ll have no allies.”

Well, when your gubernatorial candidate carries on like McWherter does, we don’t believe we have allies in the Dems in general.


What’s the threat of not voting for you exactly?


Y’all read me, so you know how I am, how easy for me it is to just get frozen with fear and not be able to do the things I need to do, or even remember what those things are. It’s good to get to an age where you know this about yourself, because I have done two things–one, created a to-do list and I put everything related to the book on it, no matter how obvious or difficult to forget, and I check things off when I have done them. Sometimes, I open up my to-do list just to look at the checked-off things and feel the soothing relief that things are getting done. When you are self-publishing, and hence doing your own marketing, it is important to be the cool, collected person you need to order you around when you are able, so that you can be ordered around by someone cool and collected when you need it. Eh, truthfully, even in traditional publishing, you need to do a lot of your own publicity, so it’s good to develop a strategy for dealing with yourself when you are at your most ridiculous.

And two, the dog and I went out to Bells Bend this morning and walked until I heard singing. I heard singing, because I was singing, but I didn’t realize I was singing when I started because my head was finally empty of worry, of anything, really, except the sound of the crickets popping off the grass like quiet snaps at a beatnik poetry reading and, eventually, a woman singing and that woman was me. It is important when you live too much in your head to find ways to clear your head completely. Walking can do that for me.

We startled a turkey, who in return, startled us. He flew almost straight up out of the tall grass, his head this shocking blue, and then he seemed to dive, in slow motion, clear across the field. I screamed and the dog took off into the field, as if she might get lucky, as if she might grow wings. And then I laughed.

I know I say this all the time, but I cannot believe how beautiful this place is.

And, finally, the breeze is cool again.

My First Review!

Rachel did an off-topic book review of A City of Ghosts over at Women’s Health News. And it is awesome.

I know, self-published, right? I think many of us have preconceived notions about what self-publishing is and who does it and the quality of self-published material. Betsy has proven us all wrong.

That’s not really the heart of the review, but that’s the heart of where my anxiety about the book lies, so I’m glad she addressed it up front.

Some Book Dates to Mark!

People, I have actual events! Holy cow. And this may not be all of them. But they are exciting, nevertheless, and I hope you will come to one or both or some other one that may shake out here in the next little bit.

Book Launch Party

October 20th, 6:30, Ri’chard’s out in Whites Creek (corner of Old Hickory Boulevard and Whites Creek Pike)–Ri’chard’s is this cool Cajun place around the corner from me. The food is delicious and Ri’chard will let us have the patio as long as everyone orders $7 worth of food or drinks. I’ll read a couple of stories, say a couple of nice words, and we’ll eat and drink and carry on. I need a loose head-count on this, so, if you are coming, let me know.

Book Reading and Signing

October 22nd, 6:00, The Goddess and the Moon in Nashville (on 8th, next to Arnold’s)–We’ll sit around, I’ll read some stories, and it’ll be nicely creepy. This is free.


October 28th, 12:30 (Chattanooga’s time) This & That with Don Welch. If you’re in Chattanooga, watch it on your tv. If you’re not, we have to hope someone puts it up on YouTube.

And you can check out my exciting author page at, with this same stuff on it.


It’s weird in a way I had to laugh about in the way into work. I know how to get through adversity. I know the panic before hand, the complete ridiculousness, the crying, and the putting one foot in front of the other until it is far enough behind you.

But going through an incredibly cool thing is also something. It’s also a challenge. Like a race with your sibling is a challenge. Or holding three puppies at the same time is a challenge.

I wonder if I’ve just never been happy enough in my whole life for this long to notice this?

You know what I’m saying? I’m not sure if I’m making any sense, but it’s strange. Cool, but strange.

Edited to add:

This is an actual artistic representation of how I feel today:

Someone Always Knows

One cool thing about living in Nashville is that you get to meet really talented folks who have really broad backgrounds. I have, for instance, met a number of people who have worked for a long time in the music industry here in town, both in the secular music industry, which is huge, and the Christian music industry, which is also enormous. Some folks might only be on one side of the divide or the other, especially if they are “the artist.” But a lot of artists–back-up singers, producers, musicians–work both industries.

And I have heard from lots of people that, while each industry has its share of debauchery and each side has its share of bad people and even though there is indeed really shady stuff going down in country music, it’s nothing like the coercive, exploitative evil that happens on the Christian music side. I know people who have gotten out of Christian music to work in country music because it is less toxic.

I’ve been thinking about that in terms of the Eddie Long situation down in Atlanta. The Black Snob says in her post, “I recently spoke with a friend who has ties to the gospel music industry about this issue and he is adamant that the Long accusations are true and have been known in the community for years.” [emphasis mine]

I’ll admit my biases up front. Obviously, for my own reasons, when a pastor is accused of something, I’d like for him to be given the benefit of the doubt until all the facts are in.

I also know that there are folks who have figured out that, if they put themselves into positions of leadership in the church, the cover that position provides them is so great, that they can carry on in ridiculous ways for years, it can be a widely-known open secret, and still, they are protected at the expense of their victims.

And this is something the Christian church, by and large, has failed to effectively protect itself against–across schisms, sects, and denominations.

Honestly, I don’t know how you close that loophole.

Maybe you don’t have to. Maybe you just have to know that it’s there.

But the thing that strikes me is that someone always knows. Someone always knows that the pastor was carrying on with a parishioner or that the youth pastor was molesting kids or that the treasurer was lining his own pockets from the collection plate or that the CCM producer needs a blowjob from you before things can get started.

Maybe they don’t know for sure what’s going on (though I’m always struck by how clearly a lot of folks know the score), but they know something’s not right.

It’s never as secret as folks need to pretend it was when it comes out.

The Book Lump

As I’ve said, I feel good about my marketing efforts to people I know. I told y’all about it. I told Facebook about it. I told Twitter about it. If you know me and don’t know about the book, you just aren’t paying attention.

As you remember, my sales goal is 333 copies. To date, I’ve sold 63 paper books and 18 books on Kindle.

I am now incredibly conscious of the lump. I don’t know what the lump is, exactly, but it stands between me and people I don’t know who might like the book. So, now, the trick is to get over the lump. For some reason, I’m imagining a lump of jelly. It doesn’t matter. It’s just a metaphor. But it’s like a fifty-foot wall of jelly between me and folks who might like the book who don’t know me.

So, how to get to them?

–I’m hoping for print media coverage of some sort. This is something of a long-shot, at least in terms of reviews, but maybe someone will write something about self-publishing and mention my book. There have been some “maybe”s and “possibly”s in this direction, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed.

–Events. This is shaping up. First, there’s going to be a book launch on the 20th of October, I think. I should get those details named down tomorrow, but, if this seems like your thing, pencil me in. Bring a friend. And buy dinner or beers. I probably won’t have books for sale here, because I don’t feel like learning how to remit sales tax to the state. If you can’t afford dinner, no worries. Things seem to be shaking out so that there will be at least one free event (possibly on Halloween), and maybe three.

–Radio. Unless I get bumped, a story will be on WPLN the Friday before Halloween. And there may be something else, we’ll see.

–TV. So, this is crazy fun! I’m going to Chattanooga on the Thursday before Halloween to be on Channel 9. Anyone who has any tips about make-up for TV should please chime in in the comments, because I’m afraid I’m going to look like a shiny ghost.

–Internet. The new stories, in their old, unedited form, will run here throughout October. Jim Ridley is going to let me run 5 stories (one each Friday night in October) over at Pith. I’ll need to pick those this weekend. I also need to get with the Nashville Feed guys and ask them if they still want to have a story on a podcast. I hope so. That would be cool. The interview I did will run the Thursday before Halloween.

Um, and I think that’s it. I gave away 25 frees. The good news is that, adding my Kindle money and my regular book money together, I have already earned back all I spent to put the book out, plus a little more that will cover the trip to Chattanooga.  So, that was a pleasant surprise.

I keep thinking, while doing this, about what the implications are for publishing and whether I think just anyone could do this herself. I’m becoming more convinced that we won’t see the end of publishers, though I think we’ll see publishers radically transform. I also think that bookstores and wholesalers and review media are going to have to adapt to the rise of half-way decent self-published books. The royalty rates are just too good for people who think they know how to reach their audience to not keep trying it themselves first.

But there’s going to be an important role for people who will provide support to the people trying to do it themselves.

I don’t know.

I’m pretty excited about October and interested to see what happens. But I also feel anxious. I can’t help but wonder if I’m doing the right thing or enough or what.

I don’t know. But I’m doing all I can do, so that’s what I can do.

Ha, just be prepared. If you self-publish, you will be comforting yourself with a lot of strange platitudes.