March 9, 2020 § 6 Comments

La Push, WA., March 4th, 2020.

It’s the early morning of my birthday and I’m sitting here in our camper, tremendous waves pummeling shore thinking about our beautiful earth and what if we don’t come together because we’re too weary too separate and now the corona virus and where is the point when the sky ends and the ocean begins, and maybe I write because I can’t face death.

Yesterday, I saw an eagle carrying a tiny creature so limp so still in his talons and where is the point where destruction returns to transformation.

There is something about this place where Raven is the main character where wind spirals and I could social distance here forever in this expanse of water and sky and the deeper yes of rock everything oriented toward ocean

except the internet is spotty which wouldn’t be a problem except that I like to talk to my boys on my birthday, and there’s only one place here with good reception, in a tiny room by the main office but it’s usually filled with kids not used to being without internet, which makes me think about how I’m part of the last generation who had an entire childhood without social media, I mean, can you even imagine and how ironic that with all our relentless curating of selves we might actually be losing selves

and another thing I will remember about this year is it’s the year I dreamt the tsunami dream and how I was smashed by a massive wall of water and swam way down under the wave and wasn’t afraid I was ecstatic because I could breathe under water and I kept saying go with it don’t fight it go with it don’t fight it and it was the most present I’ve ever felt with myself except when I was very young

and after a long time I crawled up onto shore and found a house full of everyone I loved except only one person saw me, an old woman holding a baby and she said Anna right now you’re a ghost and only other ghosts will see you

and what did this mean, was I in the past or present or future tense and where is the point between erotic gaze and erasure, and none of this has happened suddenly which makes it less alarming and I seem to be forever in liminal space anyway but I’m leaning towards believing it’s a new self emerging in this sixth decade of life

and there’s something terribly rebellious and sacred and more interesting in the ambiguities so happy birthday to me and let’s take good care of each other and remember to always wash our own hands before touching others.

THE TRUTH IS: a post book tour reflection

September 9, 2018 § 18 Comments

I step up to the microphone. There’s an audience of maybe thirty people here to listen to me read from, and talk about my first novel, The Night Child. Sometimes there are more, sometimes fewer. Once there were only three people and one was my husband, and the other two were booksellers.

I fumble with the microphone. I always fumble with the microphone. I hate the shape of them and how I can never get them to be where they need to be.

Hours before every event, I believe I won’t be able to speak—like seriously not be able to form words, which is a little strange because I’ve been a teacher for decades, and I’ve rarely had this kind of anxiety. But topics in The Night Child are personal and talking about them to strangers has tested me in all the ways.

To draw closer to calm, I tell myself things like: be brave for the child within, be brave for all those bright, imaginative, inventive children hiding under beds every night hoping no one will hurt them again.

Once the microphone is steady, I welcome everyone, thank them for coming, and somehow, I deliver enough of the words I’d hoped to say, even though I sometimes stammer and feel slightly dissociative the entire time. I tell them about the origin of the novel, and why I chose to write my story as a novel instead of a memoir. I’ve written about that here:

But then comes the scary part—the Q&A.

I told my therapist before I left for the book tour how much I dreaded the Q&A, not because of questions about writing or publishing, but because of the questions about the book. The themes.

“You’re in charge,” he says. “You can skip it. You don’t have to do anything you don’t want to do.”

But in the end, I couldn’t skip the Q&A’s—because, I don’t know—it seemed like I’d be letting the children down, and I don’t know how to change things if we don’t talk about them.

From the audience, a young woman in the second row raises her hand.

“Anna, you said your book was informed by your own life. So…was it…was it…hard to write?”

Her black hair falls across her face, but even from here, I can see the sad in her eyes.

I tell her yes, it was hard. Sometimes, excruciating. But not writing about it was worse. I’d fallen in love with the characters—Nora, Fiona, Margaret and Elizabeth, and I so badly wanted to give them a voice. To have them finally heard.

 The young woman has a follow-up question:

“Was it…ummm…was it hard to tell people? You know, when you told people what happened to you? I mean, it just seems like, well…that sometimes it’s harder to tell a secret than to keep it?”

I am asked this question at almost every event. In one form or another. I’ve received hundreds of emails asking this question. I know people need to know things turned out ok when I told, I know they want to know that if they tell, they’ll be okay. I know because I’d asked myself this question millions of times before I finally spoke out.

I tell her that the truth is I don’t know if she’ll be okay. I don’t know if her loved ones will stay with her. I don’t know if breaking silences will save another child from being hurt, will keep another child from holding in a horrible secret. In my gut, I think it will, but I don’t know.

But I do know that breaking the silence changed me, in a way I’m still reflecting on—it’s a good way, a strong way—a way that’s allowed me to love better and more expansively. Allowed me an authenticity I’ve never before experienced. Without sounding too corny, I felt kind of new.

Also, breaking the silence allowed me to place the shame where it belonged—with him.

I say that breaking the silence was one of the most terrifying things I’ve ever done in my entire life. Breaking the silence meant inviting the possibility I wouldn’t be believed, or I’d lose people I cared about, or I’d be shunned, called a liar, called crazy, dismissed, disappeared.

Some of my fears came true. I did lose people I cared about. Some couldn’t forgive me. Some worked hard to discredit me, some turned away—people I would have bet my heart on, wouldn’t have turned away. But they did. We weren’t able to find the healing language, and so we had to leave each other.

Thankfully, I had people who believed me, who believed in me, but I think every day of survivors without support systems. Every. single. day. I want to work to change that.

The young woman’s eyes fill with tears as I speak.

In her eyes, I see a hero. She sends me a tremble smile and I send her one back. In my heart, I wish her all the light, all the strength.

A woman with white curly hair, and a gentleness in her eyes raises her hand.

“Anna, you’ve been out on the road for months. What’s it like to talk about abuse over and over and over again?”

I tell her that I try to speak from the lens of healing rather than the lens of abuse, and that overall, it’s been an extraordinary experience, a positive one, that talking about Nora’s story, my story, has been a good thing.

Which was true.

Except when it wasn’t.

I tell her I thought I was prepared for it all, the talking about it, people listening, people taking me seriously, but I kind of wasn’t.

Before publication and the launch and the tour, I’d spoken with other authors about what to expect when you send a book out in the world, let alone one that contains painful personal subjects. I’d felt geared up, psyched, ready. I knew to avoid reading reviews and following rankings and “best of” lists. I believed I had strong coping skills— I was prepared to create safe spaces wherever I went. Diagnosed with PTSD from childhood sexual abuse decades ago, I knew my triggers, my strategies. I knew to go directly to my hotel room after each reading and have a quiet dinner (preferably something that involved pasta and wine, and maybe brownie a la mode) with my husband, and read poetry in a place where I could lock the door and feel my boundaries again.

I was all set.

And the truth is, I was fine most of the time.

But then, sometimes, once I was back in the hotel room, I wasn’t fine. I was wrecked. Sometimes I couldn’t stop crying. Sometimes I’d numb out. I’d have nightmares and wake up, screaming.

In another audience, an older man in a black tee shirt and jeans raises his hand.

“Hi Anna. I don’t have a question. I just wanted to thank you for your book. Watching Nora navigate adversity…tremendous adversity…well…it helped me. And some of the topics turned into family conversations about how we talk about difficult topics. Also, I think what happened in your ending is probably the hardest thing for any of us to do. Anyway.” He folds his hands in prayer over his heart.

I bring my hands together too, and send gratitude back to him.

A woman in a flowered sundress and dreadlocks wrapped up in a bun, says, “I’ve been thinking a lot about why Nora’s mother didn’t protect her. I mean, I grew up in that sort of family, you know where the patriarchy is set up from the start, where the men can’t be wrong, so you must be…” She hesitates while we wait for the rest.“ That’s all,” she says, choking on her words. “I…I…just wanted to say you can’t really underestimate the power of patriarchy.”

People nodding.

I might have said, more than once to audiences this past year, we need to smash the patriarchy and smash it fucking hard. 

In another audience, a young woman asks, “Anna, I’m curious, how do you handle all the reviews?”

I say I try not to read them, because they hurt my health and creativity, but the truth is, sometimes I do read them and I begin to feel like that woman, Lacie, in the Nosedive episode of the Black Mirror series—the episode where everything Lacie does, every action she takes is scrutinized and rated from 1.0 to 5.0.

Many of The Night Child reviews are insightful and beautiful, but a few are cruel, and those reviews sometimes cut my heart and I can bleed for days because I’ve not yet learned to shrug them off. And when I say “cruel” reviews, I’m not talking about constructive commentary, I’m talking about harsh things you’d never say to someone’s face unless you truly were an asshole.

Cruel reviews make me recommit over and over again to kindness. There’s enough hurtful energy in our world and I’m going to try not to add to it. Also, the last thing I want to do is be part of someone else feeling insecure or defeated about creating art.

Sometimes, I read this quote by author Janet Frame:

“…a writer must stand on the rock of herself and her judgment or be swept away by the tide or sink in the quaking earth: there must be an inviolate place where the choices, however imperfect, are the writer’s own…what was the use of my having survived as a person if I could not maintain my own judgment?”

A young woman with a guitar leaning against her chair, and tattoos up and down both arms, raises her hand.

“Hi Anna. Without spoiling anything, I just want to say how much I loved David, (the therapist) and James (the brother) and John (Nora’s friend). I loved the things they said—you know, that they didn’t just tell her to let it go, you know?”

She sits down abruptly, stares at her Doc Martens.

For a moment, my brain flips into the intellectual part—the part that understands traumatic experiences are encoded in our brain—the part that makes it nearly impossible to let it go.

But then I see the way the young woman is looking at me now, her watery eyes, and my brain flips to the emotional part, which isn’t hard, because let it go is a trigger phrase for me. After taking a huge breath or two, I say, “Yeah, sometimes people who say let it go are well intentioned? but mostly it’s a silencing thing—they need you to let it go so they can be comfortable again—it’s part of the argument invested in keeping us quiet. It was part of keeping Nora quiet. And Maeve. And Margaret. And Elizabeth. And millions of woman before them. Listen, who doesn’t want to move forward with their lives? Recovering from trauma can be extremely fucking hard. And childhood sexual violation?”

Now, my eyes begin to fill. My eyes always fill when I say childhood and sexual violation in the same sentence. “That kind of violation runs soul deep. Not everyone makes it. There were times when I didn’t think I would. I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to let it go. I’m learning to manage, that’s all.”

The young woman is sitting so still. I worry I’ve said too much. The wrong things. I look at her guitar. Wonder what music she plays. If she sings. What she sings about. Someone in the audience coughs and I realize I need to wipe my eyes, and say something. Eventually, I say, “All I know is to take all the time you need—no matter how long it takes. There are no short cuts. Everyone’s trauma experience is different. Surround yourself with people who understand you, who listen, who would never say you are broken, or damaged, or a liar, or crazy.”

She nods, whispers thank you.

A woman who has been knitting the entire time, raises a silver needle and asks, “Anna, you mentioned advice your author friends gave you…can you share something with us?”

I will be forever grateful for the support and wisdom of my writing tribe. Forever. Grateful. Someday, I want to write all their words in one place. During all these events though, there’s one piece of advice I’ve repeated to myself often. It’s from my dear friend, Rikki Ducornet. Right before I left on the tour she took my hands, looked me straight in the eyes and said, “Anna, trust your story will take care of you, like you have taken such deep care of it.”

And the truth is, she was right. Even when I broke apart, forgot shame wasn’t mine, wondered if I could go on, I could feel my story—built upon thousands and thousands of other survivor stories—had wings strong enough to carry the all of me back into safety, and with any luck, carry another child too.











When Your Memoir Wants To Be A Novel

December 26, 2017 § 6 Comments

In our “Breaking In” column in Writer’s Digest magazine, we talk with debut authors—such as Anna Quinn, author of The Night Child—about how they did it, what they learned and why you can do it, too. Discover more in the February 2018 issue of Writer’s Digest.


When Your Memoir Wants To Be A Novel by Anna Quinn

The Night Child, a novel, was born from my memoir—a narrative of my personal history with dissociation, sexual abuse and survival. For more than a decade, with the support of my psychotherapist and trusted writing mentors, I wrote to make sense of what happened, to understand the impact, and if I was lucky, to finally live a life free of deep hypervigilance and detachment—to believe I had a life worth saving.

Writing the memoir was revealing and agonizing and achingly healing, but in the end, something was missing—an emotional truth I could vaguely sense, but not articulate. A truth that I needed if I was to thrive, a truth I needed if I was to contribute to the larger conversations of mental illness and sexual abuse—conversations that meant everything to me. Well aware of the research conveying how trauma can physiologically distort the functioning of the brain, how our brains can hide and erase memory to protect us from unbearable pain, I worried I had forever blocked elements I needed to fully access those necessary truths.

Frustrated, I let go of the memoir, and began to explore the themes of dissociation, memory, sexual abuse and resilience, using different forms—poetry, essay and fiction. I wrote hundreds of poems, dozens of essays—I became obsessed with finding the missing conceptual knowledge. Perhaps this drive was related to Freud’s suggestion that traumatized people will attempt to revisit the injury in all its complexity and form, in order to master its terror and regain emotional control, or maybe at some level I still didn’t feel completely safe telling my entire story—no matter what though, I kept writing—my way of working into and toward truth.

Writing poetry and essays inched me into new and startling depths, and there were moments when I thought, Yes! This is different! This is something! But it was only when I began to describe my earliest experiences of dissociation and betrayal through fiction—through imaginary characters—that an unexpected story began to insist itself, began to push out beyond my singular experience, beyond the story I’d been telling—images, sights and sounds began to stream out faster than my fingers could write. First, the image of a young mother sitting on a cold kitchen floor, late at night, swallowing spoonful after spoonful of artificially sweetened ice cream. And then a young girl dressed in an orange sweatshirt, jeans and red Keds with purple laces appeared, ready for Thanksgiving Dinner. Next, a teen girl, in a classroom, drawing skulls on the cover of her notebook and darkening the eyes sockets, her fingers thins as pencils, her nails bitten to the quick, the stubs of them painted pitch black. Character after character walked onto the stage, announcing themselves and presenting scenarios, conflicts, attitudes, and beliefs without scripts—some of which were familiar to me, and others, unsettling and mystifying.

And I sat there onstage in the middle of it all, invisible, yet feeling their hearts beating in my chest and viewing everything through their eyes. I tried not to think about who they were or why they were appearing—I only wrote what I saw, heard, smelled, tasted, touched. It was bizarre and fantastic: I’d passed through some kind of portal—a place of a calming clarity—a place of beholding a story beyond a story.

That’s when I realized the memoir wanted to be a novel—or some genre blurring the edges of memoir and novel. Virginia Woolf, who often drew from her own memories, once wrote: “I have an idea that I will invent a new name for my books to supplant ‘novel’. A new—by Virginia Woolf. But what?” (Diary 3: 34) Yes, what should we call The Night Child, Virginia? It’s not an autobiographical novel—i.e. the changing of names and locations, and dramatization of real events that happened to the author. Only two of my characters—Nora and Margaret are modeled after real people. The central plotline and settings partially mirror my life, but much of the narrative was unfamiliar to me. The Night Child had its own life, its own magic and its own intelligence. It urged me to write forward as a witness and without exerting control over the arc’s trajectory. I watched as each character, including Nora and Margaret, answered my memoir questions, but this time from a separate and shifted consciousness. What do you want? What do you feel? What do you carry? What do you most want me to know? What are you most afraid of? Why? What do you have to gain by changing? What do you have to lose? Their stories consumed me—the characters insisting themselves into being, as if to say, I want out, I want to breathe, I want to live.

The lens of fiction freed me.

Fictionalizing my work wasn’t new for me. As a child and a teen, I didn’t write stories about my life, I wrote myself into the stories I wanted to live in. In my childhood stories, I wore black cowboy boots, fought monsters with a shiny silver sword and rode a flying white horse named Brigid (named after Saint Brigid of Ireland who stole her father’s possessions and gave them to the poor, turned a fox into a pet, and prayed to be ugly so no one would marry her). In my teen-aged stories, I wore Doc Martens, smoked Marlboros and wore a black leather jacket. I was fearless and no one dared mess with me. This is how writing saved me. This is how I survived.

The transmutation of lived experience into fiction for further introspective work isn’t uncommon: Sylvia Plath did it in The Bell Jar, Alice Munro in The View from Castle Rock, Carrie Fischer in Postcards from the Edge, Dorothy Allison in Bastard out of Carolina, Tim O’Brien in The Things They Carried, and Virginia Woolf in To The Lighthouse—I could go on.

These authors used their personal experiences as seeds for stories, but most of the characters and events were intentionally changed for purposes of a deeper exploration—they separated out their own narrative and used it as part of a larger, more universal story.

Changing point of view also mattered. Switching from first person to third person limited, allowed me to explore fears from a new frame of reference—fears that often paralyzed me—the relentless possibility of a mother’s death, an abusive father lurking in the shadows, a husband’s betrayal, thoughts of madness and suicide, and the dominance of patriarchal culture. Fiction allowed me to explore trajectories different than my own, particularly the impact of being believed and listened to with intent and love.

Best of all, turning to fiction to unlock story allowed me to finally draw closer to my emotional core. I’m not all the way there, probably not even close—that’s lifelong work, but fiction helped me uncover at least two truths, which I cannot write about here without spoiling the book. The bottom line is that opening to the form where words flowed most naturally through my bloodstream led me to the story I most wanted to tell. As Doris Lessing said, in her novel, Under My Skin, “There is no doubt fiction makes a better job of the truth.”

Trust Me

April 28, 2017 § 15 Comments


Strangely, I’ve had a good amount of good news lately. I say strangely because the negative political energy right now is thick as a skull, and it’s hard to imagine anything good squeezing its way in.

Anyway, in late December my agent called to say we had an offer for my novel, a good offer. From Blackstone. I was thrilled, but enough of me doubted the deal would actually go through, that I just went on about my business. Weeks later this came out in Publishers Weekly:



Publishers Weekly.

I couldn’t stop smiling. I couldn’t stop saying holy shit. My husband made a lobster dinner. We drank a great bottle of wine. Tiramisu for dessert. I couldn’t stop smiling. He couldn’t stop smiling. Friends congratulated me on social media. I called my kids. The pride in their voices.

That this could happen.

To me.

But then, all I wanted to do was hide.

For some of us, building confidence is no small thing. It can be exhausting really. And if you grew up hearing who do you think you are, if you grew up in a home where calling attention to yourself could get you broken apart broken into, the realization of large scale public exposure is enough to send your body flying to the ER where there’s a nurse who will hold your hand and call you honey and remind you to breathe deep and give you a bunch of little white pills to take home just in case.

I’ve been writing this novel for a long time. Over a decade. Sometimes I tell people it’s because I write slowly—which is partially true. I’m kind of like a haikuist novelist. But the bigger truth is, it’s taken me this long to believe I could handle the reader’s judgments and interpretations of my imagination my mind my body my heart.

My birthday was the day after the Publishers Weekly announcement. March Fourth. Yeah, ha, I was born with a directive: March Forth.

I woke up that day remembering the Publishers Weekly photo. Mouth dry. Cramp in my gut.

March Forth.

I took a long hike along the ocean. The sky a pale gray. March air snapping at my face. A gull pecking at a crab broken on the sand. For some reason I remembered then, how the little girl inside me used to march around the yard of childhood yell-singing The Battle Hymn of The Republic, a stick sword in her hand, yell-singing as a way to safely rage at a mother who used a daughter to rage at a husband, who used his daughter’s body to soothe his rage.

I’ve promised to protect this little girl. I owe her. Putting my book out there and basing a character on her, felt a little like throwing her to the wolves, because you know, people can be, well, cruel. Look at the way the world kills children every single day.

When I arrived back home, my husband handed me an official looking envelope. On the corner it said “Blackstone Publishing.” “Pretty sure that’s your advance,” he said.

I kid you not, the check for the book advance arrived on my birthday.

Too much real all at once. Fear like a large hand covering my mouth and whispering in my ear, Trust me. I won’t hurt you. Trust me.

I sat down hands covering ears.

My beautiful earnest husband, kneeling in front of me saying “Hey. Hey. You know, Gordon (my agent) asked to represent you because he loved your book. And Blackstone offered you a contract because they loved your book. He taps the check. “They believe in you. Big time. And I think maybe you can trust them. And respect their integrity. And also? The integrity of the people who will read it.”

Stopped me in my tracks.

One thing my therapist would often say to me: My wish for you is that someday, you’ll see yourself the way others who love you, see you.

I took the envelope from him. Opened it. The check. The weight of it. The way it looked at me—as if it too, was gauging my worthiness.

“You’ve been writing all your life,” my husband said. “You’ve worked so hard. I’ve never seen anyone work so hard. You deserve this. You’re allowed to feel good about it. ”

March Forth.

“So hey, you want to dance?” he said.

I laid the check carefully on the table as if it were glass but not fragile glass more like window glass. Stared through it for a minute, and said, “Hell yeah,”—suddenly knowing bone deep,the safest place for that little girl, was on my shoulders.
















let us soften

September 22, 2016 § 1 Comment

Fear, anger and uncertainty are escalating, and lately, I find myself caught between extremes of being scared shitless, profoundly sad, and trying to hold onto enough courage to stay present, listen, and take action.

But this I am certain of:

Abusers and misogynists and bigots count on our silence. They count on our fear. In our silence and fear lies their opening for greater intimidation and exploitation.

PLEASE do not allow yourself to be silenced. We have struggled to claim our voices and no one has the right to shame us for having found them. In telling our stories and claiming our voices we’ve had an epic impact in claiming equal rights and will continue to do so until equality holds all our names. Please let us not become divided against ourselves and retaliate with assumptions, combative words and aggressive actions. Please let us go out of our way to help each other and convince each other we are resilient and extraordinary. Please let us stay the course, however uncertain, and raise each other up with gentleness, sensitivity, and love.

PLEASE let us soften, and trust our fundamental goodness.






This Is Who We Are

June 13, 2016 § 8 Comments

who we are

(in response to the mass shooting in Orlando, Sunday morning, June 12th, 2016)

This is who we are:

WE are thousands lined up to give our blood to the wounded.

WE are first responders, grief counselors, doctors, nurses and friends who carried dying friends and lovers out of a bloody nightclub.

WE are millions of human beings who cried and screamed and raged and hugged and spoke up yesterday as if we’d lost our own children, friends and lovers.

We are millions who love our LGBTQ sons and daughters and friends and lovers fiercely and don’t you dare hurt them again.


WE are millions who are profoundly sorry we didn’t’ wake up sooner, who are only now recognizing the sleep in our privilege, the blood on our own hands.

We are millions signing petitions, calling legislators, voting, protesting, writing, painting, filming, creating, and speaking up to stop the bleeding.

WE are millions who won’t stop loving each other hard, until everyone is safe and sound.

We are survivors desperately trying to find a language that might somehow bring us all a little closer together.

THIS IS WHO WE ARE.     -anna

trust your writing

March 30, 2016 § 2 Comments

girl writing


trust your writing.


even if you don’t want to go there

even if you don’t know where the beginning is

or the middle or the end


even if it’s hard

because there will be days

when it’s fucking hard


that thing you want to censor?



that’s where your art lives


writing is a a powerful thing

allow it to take you somewhere

allow it to care for you


trust your writing.


the upside

December 30, 2015 § 3 Comments



i want to take a moment before it turns into next year and note all the beautiful things that happened this year, because if i don’t note the good things, i can get a little fraught and fraught sometimes makes me stuck, so hence the need to remember the good things.

here we go.

the supreme court made marriage a right for all sexual orientations under the us constitution. love wins and all we want is to be loved and so this is a big wonderful tremendous thing.

members of congress introduced a bill that would update the civil rights act of 1964 to fully protect people based on gender and sexual orientation under a new Equality Act.

we’re finally having serious/uncomfortable conversations about systemic racism and its impact globally, culturally, individually.

the number of people in the world, below the poverty line has fallen from 1.75 billion in 1999 to 836 million.

gambia, a small west african nation where 76% of the girls have undergone female genital mutilation, has banned the brutal practice.

the nobel prize went to three researchers fighting diseases of the poor.

africa went a year without any new polio cases.

women voted for the first time ever in saudi arabia.

justin trudeau appointed canada’s first cabinet to have equal numbers of men and women.

scientists discovered liquid water on mars and the presence of waterlogged molecules, called perchlorates—living organisms!

humans built and launched a space probe and flew by Pluto and beheld ice mountains as tall as the rockies! and blue skies! in my mind: mother of oceans, what else is going on up there?

there were diplomatic breakthroughs and negotiations between the united states and cuba after FIVE DECADES.

195 countries came to an agreement on climate change—remember when this seemed impossible? cooperation is happening.

a racist bully and a compassionate socialist stand at the forefront of a political campaign. i left the racist bully part in, because i think he’s here to shake us the fuck out of our lulled state.

obama has protected more land than any other u.s. president.

the world wildlife foundation announced the discovery of 211 new species in the eastern himalayas, including 133 plants, 39 invertebrates, 26 fish, 10 amphibians, one reptile, one bird, and one mammal.

scientists used gene-editing technology to modify mosquitoes and potentially eradicate malaria.

researchers in sweden developed a blood test that can detect cancer from a single drop of blood.

a team of geneticists finished building the most comprehensive map of the human epigenome and mapped more than 100 types of human cells, which will help us understand the links between DNA and diseases.

stanford university scientists discovered a method that may be able to force malicious leukemia cells to change into harmless immune cells, which could lead to transforming human cancer cells into macrophages, which can then digest and destroy cancer cells and pathogens.

scientists have developed an implantable artificial pancreas that could help patients with type 1 diabetes control their blood sugar.

over a million people, including world leaders, converged on Paris to march against extremism.

social media continues to grow, giving more people a voice who might not have had a voice before, and not only a voice, but a global voice.

i know i’ve left out thousands of things, so please add in your good things ok?

and here’s to doing the most revolutionary things of all: paying attention, speaking up, listening differently and creating things that will generate new pathways of conversation.



thank you

November 24, 2015 § 7 Comments

nancy botta picture of our shop

I’ve been a hot dog vendor, a shoe salesperson, a middle-school teacher, and a catholic school principal, but owning a bookstore has given me moments with the most eclectic tribe of humans of all.

There’s the crime scene cleaner who talked to me about the delicate line between detachment and sensitivity while I rang up her pile of fantasy books,

and the human statue who paints himself silver by day and writes poetry by night,

and the teen girl who builds wells in Uganda every summer and keeps a journal in her back pocket.

There’s the molecular gastronomist who began her career as an ice-cream tester (gah!),

the organic farmer who lives in a school bus and donates her harvest to a food kitchen,

the six-year old botany expert who arrives each month to buy the latest plant book,

and the bingo manager who fights for housing equality.

There’s the Iraq soldier without arms who still believes the world is ‘awesome’ and before he goes to college next year he wants to read one book every week,

and the father who resolved in 2015 to read to his children every night and hasn’t missed a night yet.

There’s the 14-year old playwright who had her script about a transgender teen accepted by a local theater,

and the grandfather who brings his six grandchildren into the bookstore each year and gives each one a book bag to fill with books of their choice,

and the locomotive engineer who doesn’t wear a watch.

There’s the eleven-year old who organized a youth empowerment book club,

the soil conservationist who fell in love with a snail farmer,

and a photographer who films sea creatures I’ve never heard of,

and the twenty-two year old man, who chose to communicate only through writing for 365 days and when we met, he was on day 224 and feeling like his entire mind and body had changed—in a sacred way.

There’s the child who sat by me for an entire hour and told me about the rare birds she’d seen in Puerto Rico and how someday she’ll be an ornithologist,

and the clown who struggled to be taken seriously,

and the firefighter who worked at ground-zero for three months and read Emily Dickinson every night she was there…

so many stories…

and I am beyond grateful for every single one of them, and each of you. Your words matter more than you know. Thank you from the depths of my heart for walking into our tiny bookstore and believing in books and making the world we work and play in a little less chaotic and a little more beautiful.

September 25, 2015 § 5 Comments

red pencil


dear sweet writer who recently dipped your pen back into the word waters and joined a writing group—i know you were nervous because it was your first writing group ever…i know you were worried about your grammar and that your 8th grade English teacher with her BIG FAT RED pen still loomed large on your shoulder, ready to stab your incorrect use of “its” (gasp!) and your overuse of adverbs (double gasp!)—her relentless scrutiny feeding your self-doubt—but let me tell you,

we are not her.

we heard the shooting stars in your story, we felt the sentences that sang a new perspective, we witnessed what mattered to you and we thank you for taking the chance with us. we’ll read your stories as clean or dirty as you bring them to us… and when you are ready, (and there’s no rush) we can help you refine them too…but only you can tell your story and you did it today, beautifully.



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