Celebrating my Writing Buddy

A photograph of my bookshelf displaying my friend Jack Lelko's book with a cartoon finger pointing at it.

I first met Ophelia O’Leary several years ago. She was smart and complex and a little bit sassy – not unlike her creator, Jack Lelko (who you all know as my writing buddy). I’ve had the chance to revisit her world a few times over the years – most recently when I set her published pages on my waiting bookshelf (the same shelf I’d been pointing eagerly to every time he and I FaceTimed while I was in my office, going – see, right here is where your book is going!).

It’s been such a joy watching my friend Jack go through the process of self-publishing his book. Not everything went smoothly, mind you – but he was going for it, and I was so happy to see him believe in himself and his story so much. This was a labor of love…and blood and sweat and tears and, allegedly, a sacrifice or two. But Ophelia is out in the world – meeting people and causing chaos, as she was designed to do.

Photograph of a display shelf at Nook & Cranny Books in Seattle - displaying a copy of my friend Jack Lelko's book.
Jack’s book on display at Nook & Cranny Books in Seattle, WA (USA)

She’s been out in the world a couple of months, now, but yesterday was the first time I’d been able to see my Jack in person (I live in the Midwest; he’s on the coast) – and I couldn’t let the occasion go without a celebration of this special story.

If you like Christmas, chaos, and cheekiness – with a bit of magic realism and whimsy thrown in – I encourage you to visit Ophelia and her friends in Nollag. You can find Christmas Bitch in many places, including at BookShop.Org.

To celebrate properly, we of course needed a cake*:

*So, I’m not going to say where I got this cake. Because when I went in the first time to ask about pricing, no one said anything about the use of “bitch” in the title. Then I went in to place the order, and I was told that they couldn’t do it because it’s not ‘family friendly.’ I was given the option to have it done but with “bitch” covered over in red. (I asked if they had any recommendations of where I could go to have it done, and they listed off places that wouldn’t do it because “they’re moral, too.” [strained smile]) I realize I should have considered this was a possibility – but, again, no one said anything when I went in to have a consultation about it. At this point, I was out of time, so I said fine, figuring I’d buy some icing and write it in myself. Then, when I went to pick it up, I saw the moment when the person going through the cooler looking for my name on a cake realized which cake I was picking up – they glanced around, came over to me with the cake in a cardboard box (instead of the normal see-through plastic), and whispered – “So, I did it anyway. Please don’t open the box in the store.” To the person that “did it anyway,” thank you – there’s no way I wouldn’t have ruined this cake trying to write it in…

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