The Shabby Shining

where the world comes together

This week we’re working from the Sheraton Hotel in Framingham, MA while visiting Kevin’s parents. This Tudor-Castle themed hotel, a fixture of Kevin’s adolescence, is as empty and creepy as the Overlook Hotel, if slightly less glamorous. Grass is growing out of the pool cover. The kitchens—where Kevin cut his teeth as a prep-cook back in the day—have all been shuttered, and the bar is dark. There is a Starbucks, but it’s only open for three hours a day and is definitely run by a dog-loving ghost.

In the past, I would have been creeped out by the idea of staying in a haunted hotel, but a year+ of itinerant living with other people’s possessions has rendered this environment almost…restful? Cleansing. Definitely neutral. Freddie is very happy because we’re letting him sleep in the bed, and I am too. It feels like a sleepover.

I was wondering why it’s so comfortable, and then today it struck me that so much of the past year has felt like staying in a ghost hotel with Kevin and Freddie, that actually staying in a haunted inn—even as things open up, even as they return to “normal”—alleviates a certain amount of cognitive dissonance.

It is, after all, one of life’s great luxuries to have one’s actions align with one’s feelings. I would know; I’m a guest at the Sheraton, “Where the world comes together.”


Now that Ursa Tour has concluded, I’m going to dial back newsletter again, probably to once a month or as needed (aka when I have news!). I so appreciate all the support I’ve received on the way up to and during the book’s release. It’s been a blast to be in touch with so many of you again, and I look forward to continuing to check in as the summer progresses. Until next time!

xx

the olive pool

do i love you because you're beautiful

Every year around this time, the heat makes me maniacal about swimming. I’ve been known to take a four-hour round trip C train to get to the Rockaways, rent a zip car (ok fine, join zip car) to drive to Jacob Riis beach, and bribe the Williamsburg Hotel to go in for a dip. Historically, I always end up back at the McCarren Park pool, an Olympic sized public pool where all you need to get in is a towel and a padlock. It’s heaven.

Right now, we’re living in upstate New York beside a body of water described by local signage as a creek, but which seems to be more of an ever-present puddle. I don’t know. Fly fishers engage with it, but no one seems to use it for swimming. I’ve gotten as far as the edge; the water gurgles by suspiciously, depositing faint pink sediment on the dinosaur-egg-sized rocks of its banks. Birds of prey fly overhead at a high velocity, like a raptor highway. It’s jurassic.

Which is why I’ve become obsessed with the highly exclusive Olive Pool. Olive is the next town over, and as far as I can tell, their entire municipal presence is organized around maintaining and protecting this pool, which is, to put it mildly, a utopia. Nestled into the crux of a winding mountain road, the pool’s crystal clear waters and pristine white recliners are guarded by a scarlet-clad army of teenagers who only care about one thing: whether or not you really live in Olive.

For $100 a season, Olive residents get unlimited access to this glorious pool, where they can swim and sunbathe unencumbered by grasping, conniving non-Olive residents like me. All it takes to get a pass is an Olive mailing address. Or a letter vouching for you from someone from an Olive mailing address.

Is it insane to buy property in a town because you want to be a member of a pool? I think probably, but it’s important to make a distinction in life between things we can’t do and things that are distasteful to us. Is it insane to rent an airbnb in Olive and ask for the electric bill and also a letter vouching for your “residence” from said airbnb host? Also probably. Should I steal the mail out of an Olive resident’s mailbox? That’s elegant. KIDDING. (or am I?).

What is it about the Olive Pools of this world that make us lose our minds? Are they really so glorious that submerging our toasty bodies in their cool waters would literally transform us into the people we always knew we could be? Or is it simply that we’re just wired to want what we can’t have? I have a theory, but I’ll need access to the Olive Pool to confirm.


Next week, I have the last event of Ursa Tour, but we’re going out with a real bang—I’ll be speaking with author extraordinaire Dawnie Walton courtesy of A Great Good Place for Books at 7 pm PT (10 pm ET).


Wishing you a safe and happy week—may we all be as steadfast and productive as Freddie, in his attempts to find someone to play with him and his pink octopus.

Dog Days

swimming in a heat wave

My mom tells this story about growing up with a dog named Christopher Columbus. Apparently, he ran away a lot—probably a stand against his problematic namesake. As the story goes, my grandmother would have to regularly go around the neighborhood shouting for “Christopher Columbus.”

My dog’s name is Freddie Mercury, which is a nice name, a cute name. But in the depths of pandemic isolation, Kevin and I got in the unforgivable habit of calling him Pupu, short for puppy (I guess?). But yeah, it sounds exactly like poo poo. So when I go out with Freddie, I sometimes hear myself calling for poo poo. #gothiccycle

Opening up again is weird for many reasons, but weirdest of all is realizing what a bizarre creature I’ve become. Our offices announced yesterday they’re re-opening in September, and it feels like waking up from a strange dream. The idea of meeting in person, of sitting at a desk, in pants now seems very exotic.

Certainly a far cry from rolling out every morning in PJs calling for Pupu.


I’m continuing to be the recipient of an amazing amount of love for Songs in Ursa Major, and am so so grateful to everyone who has bought a book or shared their experience of reading the book with me. Next week, I’ve got a virtual event coming up on 7/8 with the legendary Paula McLain, courtesy of Literati Bookstore in Ann Arbor, MI. Should be very fun, I hope to see you there!

Register Here


I’m also very proud of this music video produced by PRH and my brother, Ben, alongside his longtime producing partner Charlie Danner, and their super talented friend, vocalist Nicole Chaffin. It’s for “Wallflower,” a song from Jane’s album, Songs in Ursa Major, which is her equivalent of “Little Green.” You can check it out here:


Last, if you’re looking for a signed copy of the book, any of the stores I’m doing events with will have them. Or, if you already have your copy, I’m happy to pop a bookplate in the mail for you—just message me the best address.

Wishing everyone a lovely July 4th holiday—stay cool!

xx

Thank you

and you! and you! and you!

This week, Songs in Ursa Major went on sale—on Tuesday in the US and today in the UK. Having your first book out in the world is unlike anything else, and the outpouring of love and support the project has received from friends, family, and complete strangers has been humbling and thrilling. I want to extend a heartfelt thank you to everyone who:

pre-ordered the book • bought the book • took a photo of the book • wrote a review of the book • posted about the book • asked me a question about the book •  came to an event •  cracked a glow stick • wore a flower crown • wore a peace sign • laughed at something I said • traveled from a different state to celebrate with me • texted congratulations • emailed congratulations • called me • sent me a video greeting •  made a crowd source account • inquired about signed copies • listened to a podcast • hosted me on a podcast • interviewed me • wrote something about the book • took a video of the book • sent me flowers •  sent me balloons • sent me a Joni Mitchell poster •  wrote thoughtful questions about the book • moderated an event with me • eyeballed my lipstick • walked my dog • held my hand • read the book


Next week, I’ve got a couple more *virtual events* coming up:

6/29 @ 9 p.m. ET I’ll be chatting with Lauren Fox, author of Send for Me via Book Soup in West Hollywood, CA

Register Here

6/30 @ 7 p.m. ET I’ll be chatting with Emma Gray, author of A Girl’s Guide to Joining the Resistance via Brookline Booksmith in Brookline, MA

Register Here

As always, the wonderful Indies that host these events all have signed copies for sale.


If you can’t make any events, but are interested in learning more about the book, here are some of the amazing podcasts that have featured Ursa Major:

Author Stories

Thoughts from a Page

Marginalia

And for my Dutch fans:

Rock and Roll High School


I still have a ton of Scary Jane pins, so if you have a copy and want a pin, just shoot me a quick note and will send along right away!

A Prayer for Writers

on the Eve of Publication

A Prayer for Writers on the Eve of Publication

May your books arrive on spec and on time.

May the reviewers be flattering and in possession of the final text.

May your conversation partners not cancel at the last minute.

May the indie-booksellers embrace you with open arms.

May your loved ones not take offense at being excluded from the acknowledgements.

May your coworkers and colleagues be supportive.

May everyone just agree to not talk about your sex scenes.

May bloggers not tag you in their negative reviews.

May the non-returnable accounts pick you up like a hot stranger in Vegas.

May the jerks and non-believers be caught in a flurry of targeted ads.

May the TikTokers find your book, and may their tears fall like rain.

May you sell out your events.

May you be surprised by a fairy god parent. Or two.

May you take a moment to sit in the quiet with your book. You made this.

May you find the courage to release it, with gratitude.

Because it’s gone. Elvis has left the building.

May your book move and shake like Elvis.

Amen.


New York friends…

We’re having a little in person (!) launch at Power House on Monday. I’ll be in conversation with the *brilliant* Rebecca Fishbein, author of Good Things Happen to People You Hate, and there will be wine and glow sticks.

RSVP Here

And if you can’t make that, NO WORRIES—there’s more where that came from:


Only six more days to pre-order Songs in Ursa Major…then it’s just a regular order. Hark, these early sales really do help a book find its footing and are very much appreciated. If you send me proof of purchase, I’ll send you a cute bag or a scary pin!

Pre-Order Here

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