The Wolf’s Bane Details, As I Know Them

The book launches May 22nd, with a thingy that evening at East Side Story. I don’t know the time yet. But I will read, maybe we’ll watch the trailer again, perhaps we’ll all sing an a capella version of “Long Black Veil” so beautiful the moon weeps. Books will be for sale.

Here’s the deal on the books. There’s one edition that is what they call an artist’s book–a handbound art object that comes with actual prints of the artwork and a box and probably other stuff I don’t know about. They’re doing 30 copies of this book and it’s $300. If you want one, if I know anyone who can afford that, I’d recommend not waiting to buy it, because now is before the libraries and collectors start laying claim.

Then there are 300 copies of the $30 paperback, hopefully being printed as I type. On the one hand, I expect it may take a while for those 300 to sell. On the other hand, if every artist involved’s family buys ten, that’s a fourth gone right out the gate.

Anyway, here’s the link to buy online again.

Things Happen and then You Break Out the Jameson

The motherfucking New York Times is recommending people read what I wrote. The guy, the guy of “that guy who’s writing the Isaac Franklin book” whose name I never could find out, even he motherfucking contacted me and told me he liked my piece. .Even my dad is bragging on Facebook. I’m texting and emailing people and telling them I love them. Because I do, dear readers, love you. I don’t know why this is happening. I mean, the I love yous are because I’m fucking drunk. But why? Who knows? Let’s just enjoy it.

NYTimes pick

The House in Harmony with Fairies

stone house

Oh, you guys! I totally forgot to tell you the awesome, strange thing I learned while in Gallatin. This house, up in the Bledsoe’s Fort park, was built by an Irish guy. The two doors are not the front of the house, but the side. Back in the day, all of the doors, they think, were double-paned–so you could keep livestock shut out and still have a breeze.

And everything about the house is set up to be in harmony with fairies. They have a big book explaining it. But the house is only one room wide–apparently fairies like (or used to like) that. Every window is across from another window or door so that, if a fairy came in one, he or she could easily pass through the house and back out. Apparently, from what I can gather, fairies like (or liked at the time) to be able to flow freely through a place without getting lost or stuck in it. You also enter right in the bedroom of the house. The back of the house was the dining/work room (dude was a weaver). And apparently this was also important, that guests be welcomed into the heart of the home and the front door open onto the hearth.

I immediately texted a picture to local author, Sara Harvey, for reasons.

Who Tells the Story?

I was feeling so good yesterday that I thought I’d start Ashland. So, I did, three times. And, you know, I don’t think I have the right point of view. I’d thought that I wanted first-person from someone in the house. But I think that’s not going to work.

I think I need someone telling the story from a more omniscient perspective.

Usually, when I write, I have a good sense of who’s telling the story and then we just go along to see what the story is. This is the first time I’ve ever felt like I know the story, I just don’t yet have a good sense of who’s telling it, or why.

So, This is What It’s Like

All day long, people complimented me on the Isaac Franklin piece. And it felt wonderful. If anyone didn’t like it, they didn’t tell me. Which was also wonderful.

I feel proud.

And relieved.

I kind of want to cry a little bit, but I can’t articulate why.

Isaac Franklin!

It’s up! Holy shit. The art is incredible.

I worked so hard on this, rewriting it and rejiggering it and reworking it, that my feeling upon seeing it live is almost tears of relief.

I think it’s good. One point that I would make, in retrospect, is that Franklin was considered at the time the epitome of a good slave trader. If you were going to “ethically” buy slaves, Franklin & Armfield was your best option. And this was Isaac Franklin.

There was no firm moral high ground to stand on as a slave owner. But one of the most important points that Ed Baptist makes is that there was no firm moral high ground to stand on throughout the whole cotton industry. An abolitionist wearing cotton shirts was a compromised man.

Anyway, fair warning, it discusses slavery and all that is entailed in that.

Sweet Misery

My parents’ visit was both nice and grueling. We had a nice time. We went to the Dylan/Cash/Nashville Cats exhibit at the Hall of Fame. We had a lovely time. We got ice cream. We got a ton of stuff that I needed done around the house done. We spent all day with the Butcher’s girlfriend and her kids (when they call me “Miss Betsy” it does something to my insides I can’t even explain.) and we saw more of Gallatin than I even knew existed.

And I caught my dad on the phone with his friend explaining why I’ll never be married. I’m too mean. And, I don’t know, it just stung. Not that I want to be married. I just don’t want the people who I love to view my not being married as something that needs to be explained away with some untrue character defect. Say I hate to leave the house, that I don’t like to meet new people, that I am often the last person a man dates before he meets his wife or that I have occasionally sent men home to their wives and so I just, apparently, am the kind of woman who reminds men what they want in a wife who is not me.

But mean?

Sweet Jesus. If I were mean things would be a lot different in this family.

I’m miserably sunburned. And I pulled my shoe apart on accident this morning, like some kind of Hulk. It was good to see them, though. I miss them when they’re not around. I just wish, after all this time, we’d have learned how not to step on each others’ toes.


I found this picture of my niece on my dad's phone and I immediately texted it to myself, because I recognized that it may be the greatest picture ever taken.

I found this picture of my niece on my dad’s phone and I immediately texted it to myself, because I recognized that it may be the greatest picture ever taken.

As Expected, The Hill House Afghan Takes an Unexpected Turn

Experienced yarn workers will tell you–always buy as much yarn as you need for the project ahead of time. They say this is so you can be sure to get all the same dye lot, which is handy. But it’s also because, when you’re in the middle of a project, you’re a jackass. Like me.

I was like “Oh, right I totally remember what yarn I bought for the Hill House afghan.”

And now the new yarn has arrived and some of it is right and some of it is not a yarn that has heretofore appeared in the Hill House afghan.

The tan? The crucial tan? Not in the box.

Instead, I picked out for myself a more vivid brown.

So, it’ll be interesting to piece together. I’m going to have to lay it out on my bed and move things around to make sure they’re evenly distributed. But I had 29 squares of a 48 square afghan. And I bought a whole lot more yarn than I had for the 29 squares. So, in my head, I’m already planning on bumping it up to 6×9. If I still have yarn, I might go bigger.

That makes me laugh, too, that I thought I was through over half the House and now I’ve discovered that’s not the case.

I Have Many Feelings

1. The Butcher’s vehicle broke down in Gallatin, so I had to get up before dawn to go get him. I am wired on coffee and exceptionally tired.

2. I got some out-of-left-field news yesterday, unexpected and good, but also, unexpected.

3. I’m reviewing edits on a story and I am a little startled by how angry I’m getting at the copyeditor. I don’t often have the chance to be copyedited except when K. does it. The thing I guess I’m realizing is that I trust K. implicitly. I don’t trust this person I don’t know, because I don’t know him/her (I think it’s a her, but I’m not sure). And the thing is that her/his edits are fine. This is not about his/her work. This is some weird thing about me being all “NNNOOOOO!!!” (with growling bear noises) and then having to step back and ask myself if this is truly about the editing suggestion or about me. 90% of it is this weird feeling of wounded defensiveness. If I had a therapist, I guess I’d talk it through. Since I don’t, I’ll just mention it on the internet.

4. My parents are here. I’m taking them to the Country Music Hall of Fame tomorrow.

5. On Friday, I have to take dog poop to the vet.

6. So, you know, mixed feelings.

Gun Shots

I woke up to the sound of gun fire, five shots in quick succession. There might have been a shot that woke me up. I don’t know. I sat there in the dark waiting for any sign that I needed to do something–crying, screaming, voices of any sort, a car driving off. A little while later, a car honked, but I have no idea if they were connected.

My first thought was, “Well, that has to be the end of the red dog.”

But the Butcher says he doesn’t see anything out there. He also thought, if the shots came that close together, the person might not have been aiming that well.

Busy, I’m So Busy, My Head is Spinning (You’re Welcome for the Earworm)

Every winter, I should just put a reminder on my calendar that I am morose during the winter. And that I will swing wildly the other way once I see the sun again. I have been really busy getting shit done. I love the Hill House afghan. I can’t wait to see it all laid out, but I really like how the part I have done feels.

I only feel a tiny bit bad about calling it the Hill House afghan because I do think it will be cozy and wonderful and I hope C&M don’t feel any weird, bad vibes off it.

I think I edited that Isaac Franklin piece harder than I have ever edited anything in my life. I am getting prouder of my willingness, at least in non-fiction, to write something as a way of getting started, and then cutting it away when the general shape of the piece clearly calls for a different kind of beginning.

But I only saw two people I wasn’t related to this weekend, which is good for getting shit done, but not good for feeling like you’re connected with the world.

My parents arrive very soon, so I spent some time cleaning. I was hoping the Butcher would also spend some time cleaning and then the house would be clean, but he spent the weekend helping friends get their house ready for sale. So… yeah. Butt I hope to have a nice visit with them and then I hope to see people I haven’t seen in weeks.

And I hope to get sincerely started on “Ashland.”

We’re a month out from the release of The Wolf’s Bane. We shall see, dear readers, we shall see.

Hill House Afghan, Evidence of Lack of Ends

I have tucked all the ends I have to tuck. I am now squashing them under the book that contains the motif I am using for the squares. Squashing serves to purpose except to unsettle the squares, which you have to do when you're creating an afghan based on a haunted house.

I have tucked all the ends I have to tuck. I am now squashing them under the book that contains the motif I am using for the squares. Squashing serves to purpose except to unsettle the squares, which you have to do when you’re creating an afghan based on a haunted house.

Good Newses!

1. The yarn to finish up the Hill House afghan is on its way.

2. The editor loves the Isaac Franklin piece.

3. I sold “The Four Gardens of Fate” to Apex magazine. Yes, there’s a Borges reference in there. And yes, I’ll have more details as I know them.

Strange Things

One thing about “Ashland” is that, even as I’m daydreaming about it, I feel like it must have been done a hundred times. A million. Everything seems so cliched. Of course X. Which lead to y.

Which is why it keeps weirding me out that I can’t find any Southern haunted house stories.

It’s my favorite grad school phrase! “Always already!” It seems like there always already had to be a story like this.

Its absence is eternally confusing to me.

Corduroy Roads

Last night I went out to OZ, which is this huge artistic event space out by the Tune airport. It used to be a cigar factory. It’s pretty ordinary looking from the outside, but it’s extraordinary inside. Wow.

I was there to see William Tyler’s “Corduroy Roads.” It was fantastic. Ha ha ha. You can tell I’m just writing this for my own blog. Saw this. It was amazing.

But so the deal is that Duke University has opened its library’s special collections to artists and commissions works based on the things in it. Which, damn, man. I wish there was some way to make happen here.

So, Duke has these two old books of Civil War images. And William Tyler is a guitarist who’s worked with Lambchop and Will Oldham who is a Southerner. And the piece was… well, there were two movie screens that showed Duke’s photos and moving images made from Duke’s photos. Tyler moved around the stage playing music and ruminating on what it means to be a white Southern man who feels some great desire to make sense of the Civil War but who isn’t one of the boys Faulkner describes as dreaming it’s… I can’t remember… the second day at Appomattox or whatever.

It was really interesting to hear him talk about how even Shelby Foote seemed to not quite get at what Tyler needed someone to try to get at. He had a great quote from Robert Penn Warren’s “The Legacy of the Civil¬† War, 1961.” But mostly he played music, incredible music, while these pictures moved in the background.

I guess because when scholarship can’t scratch your itch, you turn to art to try to get at it.

The part I found most amazing and moving and discombobulating was that, since so many of the images were old photographs, there were a lot of “ghosts,” people or animals who had moved during the exposure time. And so there was a whole portion of the show devoted to looking at those “ghosts” in the photos. It had this effect of making you feel like you were looking at pictures of dead people.

Which, of course, you are.

It was so amazing and the people at OZ were really lovely.

But, for all my talk of what a small town Nashville is, I only recognized one person there. Which is nice and humbling. Here are all these people with interests similar to mine who do things I might be interested in and I don’t know any of them. Not quite so small-townish after all.

Anyway, I think they said it’s touring, so, if you get a chance to see it, I highly, highly recommend it. I’m glad the Butcher insisted I go.

I Have Long-Standing Artistic Concerns

This morning, I was rifling through my documents folder to see if I had “stupidly” made a file containing my gmail password. I had not. But I did find a file entitled “What makes things scary?” It was pre-A City of Ghosts.

Maybe I’m not any better at figuring it out.

I’m really excited about The Wolf’s Bane. My head says to be cautious and to expect at least one more disaster. My heart says, “A month, a month. It’s out in a month!”

It’s even getting a real review, which I am completely nervous about.

Time to Write

I feel like it’s time to get started on the book. But I have about two weeks worth of other stuff to do instead.

Yesterday, my co-worker brought her puppy in. A poodle. He immediately ran over to me, fought with my shoe, and fell asleep at my feet.

I felt like Sonnyboy had given me a pretty awesome gift, because, certainly, the reason I seem puppy friendly is that I smell like a friend to dogs.

I’d like to put that on my resume–friend to dogs.

The Grid

I started a grid for “Ashland.” A spreadsheet that maps out each characters’ crises and the things leading up to them. I’m going on a model of “build-up,” “scary thing,” “crisis,” “new circumstance,” with each character experiencing roughly four crises of various intensity. This should, I think, give me a lot of scary things happening.

It already gave me a good idea of the kinds of things that need to happen in the middle of the novel.

Plus, my goal is not to have everyone hitting their plot points at the same time, but to make sure that they’re hitting them–that they have their own narrative arcs and aren’t just interactive scenery for the main character.

The thing I’d like to figure out is how to leave them in the grid so I can be sure I like each character’s arc, while also somehow ordering them so that I can see what has to happen in what order. Like, the church lady can’t come to the house to help one character until the other character goes to church and meets her.

I’m thinking about some kind of color coding, I guess? I don’t know. Maybe I’ll just number things?

Anyway, the thing that I’m still wrestling with is how to plot to ratchet up the creepiness.

I don’t really know what I’m doing, I guess I what I’m trying to say.