Weekend Update

Well, Happy Easter Weekend to all of those who celebrate it and Happy Weekend to those who don’t. The mydangblog household doesn’t observe Easter particularly, but we do give each other chocolate according to pagan tradition, and chocolate is one of the few life’s pleasures left to us as we’re currently under yet another “lockdown that’s not really a lockdown”. As someone on the interweb succinctly put it: “I can go to Costco, but I can’t go to my barber. My barber can go to Costco but can’t give me a haircut. We can both be in Costco at the same time—maybe he can cut my hair in Costco.” People aren’t allowed to gather in groups of more than 5 people, but come Tuesday, classrooms will be full of 30 kids per room. Ultimately, I’m never sure if this is a pandemic or just a really bad Monty Python sketch.

At any rate, before I begin, I have three updates. First, an update on the quilt. I have, as of this day’s reckoning, cut 121 squares of denim with about 300 to go. I will be attempting to purchase a rotary cutter today on the advice of my many quilting friends (you never know how many you have until you tell people you’re making a quilt), if I can find a store that’s open.

Second, thanks to all of you, I did indeed win Spillwords Press Publication of the Month, and I am very thrilled and grateful to everyone who voted or tried to vote (that site is super-finicky) or even just clicked on it to read it because that counts too.

Third, and this ties into number 2, I’ve begun the sequel to The Seventh Devil. It’s called The Devil You Know, and now I have lots of names for the characters thanks to my promise to name them after anyone who voted for me.

And off we go on another foray into the strange world of Facebook Marketplace.

1) Drama: Free

You can just tell by the photo that Amanda is a very dramatic girl. It’s amazing to me that she isn’t charging more for her drama but maybe the lockdown is getting the better of her and she’s so bored she’s just willing to give it away. So I contacted her and asked about a sample:

Me: What kind of drama are you offering?
Amanda: Low level best friend drama, mid-range passive aggressive wife, and crazy ex-girlfriend.
Me: Can I try the crazy ex-girlfriend?
Amanda; I WILL SLASH YOUR TIRES, YOU BASTARD!!
Me: Wow, that IS intense. I think I’m good.
Amanda (sobbing): So that’s it? You’re just going to leave? WHY??!! I LOVE YOU!!
Me: Okay, have a good weekend.
Amanda: You too!

2) Bookshelf: It is issued.

It wasn’t so much the bookshelf in this ad but the description, which reads “Good bookshelf. We are moving. It is issued. Has a lot of place. It is useful.” So, these people are moving due to some kind of decree? Is there a dude whose job it is to randomly evict people with bookshelves, like, “I see you have a good, useful bookshelf. I must demand that you move immediately. Leave the bookshelf behind in this place. I have spoken.” I hope he doesn’t find out how many bookshelves I have—I have no intention of moving.

3) Self-portrait: 5 dollars

This is an excellent example of a post-modern charcoal sketch in the style of a young Matisse. Personally, I would title it “Artist Holding Boom Box”, but those could be boobs. And that’s the joy of art.

4) Custom Handmade Boat: $100

What a lovely, idyllic scene: A peaceful living room with birds merrily chirping in their cage, a puppy snoozing on his pillow, the sunlight spilling in through the cracks in the boat—wait, what? I’m guessing that the genius who handcrafted this boat has never actually been in one and is unaware that the key to building a seaworthy vessel is to ensure that the water STAYS ON THE OUTSIDE. Now, you may be thinking that the person meant a good bookshelf SHAPED like a boat, but the description below simply reiterates “Custom handmade boat”. This is the stuff for which relocation decrees are issued, my friends.

Enjoy the weekend, everyone—now I’m off to cut some denim.

Creative Wednesdays – Spillwords Press Author Spotlight

For today’s Creative Wednesday, I’m very grateful to the wonderful people at Spillwords Press, who contacted me in February to ask if they could do an author spotlight on me. Here’s the link to the article, which includes a poem I wrote for my daughter–I hope you enjoy finding out more about me:

https://spillwords.com/spotlight-on-writers-suzanne-craig-whytock/

Creative Wednesdays – Feasting Upon The Bones

I’m not one to ever make New Year’s resolutions but I did a thing on New Year’s Day that kind of counts as one–I submitted the short story collection I’d been working on for over a year to a publisher. Then, last week, like a bolt from the blue, I got an email from the wonderful people at Potter’s Grove Press, telling me they had accepted it and would be publishing Feasting Upon The Bones this year! I was so excited that I started to cry when I showed Ken the email. But the best part is that Potter’s Grove is super-efficient and have already created a cover mock-up which I’m excited to share. And they were also lovely enough to allow my daughter Katelyn’s original cover concept to be used as artwork for one of the section divider pages. So here’s the cover mock-up and the synopsis for my first short story collection–I think it’s gorgeous and I hope you do too. 

“Step into the world of the unexpected, where things aren’t always as they seem. From disturbing jigsaw puzzles and portentous stones to mysterious notebooks and ghostly encounters, Feasting Upon The Bones is a collection of twenty-seven short stories that delve into the themes of love and loss, revenge and retribution, and mortality and immortality. Told with imaginative flair, and the occasional touch of dark humour, this intriguing series of twisted tales has something for everyone. Time’s a-ticking, as Mr. Death would say, so open the cover and wander around.”

Creative Wednesday – The Seventh Devil

I know I mentioned my newest novel, The Seventh Devil, back in October with a couple of cover mock-ups, but last week I finally signed the contract with my publisher, Bookland Press. They had a different idea for the cover, so we agreed to a compromise. The best part is that the book is available for pre-order on Amazon, Chapters/Indigo, and a lot of other places, with a release date of June 15, 2021. I like the new cover, but I really loved the original concept that my daughter had designed, so I’ll be using that one for the short story collection I’m putting together, which is why I haven’t been submitting to any journals lately—they all want first electronic rights and I’m trying to keep the number of previously published pieces to a minimum.

So my new challenge for 2021 is to find a publisher interested in a collection of 30-35 spooky, weird short stories/flash fiction complete with its own cover (see below for the mock-up). I don’t know about ‘twisted tales’, so if you have a better idea, let me know:

Creative Wednesdays: Defying Gravity

I haven’t posted anything for Creative Wednesdays for a while because I’m working on a short story collection that I’m hoping to get published some day, and does anybody know if publishers will take collections where some of the pieces have been published in online journals? Anyway, I love writing poetry even though I’m not particularly good at it and it’s my birthday dammit, so today, I’ve decided to share a poem with you that I wrote recently. It’s called Defying Gravity and it’s about love and hope.

 Defying Gravity

We spoke of death and life,
Me and you, my child
(More precious to me than a single perfect seashell
Or the vast ocean contained within it)
And you asked, Why carry on?
I remember that you etched futility into the earth
With clenched fists
And said
Fall the petals, fall the leaves,
Fall the tears, fall the knees.
And I replied
But the flowers still turn their faces to the sun,
The trees still strive for the moon,
Winter is the prelude to spring.
Dry your eyes,
Lock your knees; defy gravity.
I scuffed the earth clean
With an open palm
And etched both our hearts into it
So deeply that they couldn’t be erased
By neither you, my child, nor me.

Simple Distractions

There’s a particular meeting we have every week at work. And because it happens every week, there’s a rotation schedule identifying the two co-chairs, which changes every three months. So imagine my surprise last week, having failed to look at the rotation chart in A VERY LONG TIME, that I was now one of the co-chairs. But I made a deal with my partner—he would organize the meetings, and I would take the minutes. Now, this sounded great in theory, but I had forgotten that I am literally SURROUNDED by things designed to distract me. And I’ve found that, as I’ve gotten older, I’ve become more easily distracted, not that it’s a bad thing:

Ken: No, I don’t agree.
Me: Oh, for god’s sake, Ken! Why can’t—ooh, is that a bottle of Chardonnay?
Ken: Yes. Yes, it is. Would you like a glass?
Me: I’d love one. Now what were we talking about?
Ken: Who knows.
Me: Cheers!

So anyway, there I was at the virtual meeting, cleverly taking notes by typing everything into Word and then copying and pasting into the shared document that everyone could see. That way, I could proofread first and correct any errors before the rest of the group could notice them. Also, I took a certain amount of pleasure in the thought that my colleagues, seeing the blocks of text magically appear, would now believe I could type incredibly fast, like it was my superpower or something. But then, just like a superhero, my kryptonite happened. One of the group began adlibbing about something that WASN’T EVEN ON THE AGENDA, and because I was in the shared document, I was scrambling to follow along and type as he spoke. Simultaneously, I looked up and realized that there was a GIGANTIC F*CKING INSECT on the curtain directly in front of my laptop and I didn’t know if it was a cricket or potentially a cockroach because I’ve never actually seen a cockroach except on Hoarders and it looked like it MIGHT be one and how the HELL did it get into my house, and I completely stopped listening and began frantically texting Ken for ‘Hep!!”:

And Ken, being the excellent husband he is, came charging down the stairs, cupped his hands around the giant bug and carried it outside, at which point, the person in the meeting who had gone rogue with his agenda item said, “Uh, Suzanne—that’s not what I said” and I kind of stuttered, “Oh sorry, I was just…doing something” and I’ve never been so happy that my camera was off in my life. Which it has NOT been on several occasions, including later last week when a mosquito flew into my face and it took me several attempts to kill it, much to the amusement of the other people in the meeting I was attending who had stopped speaking to watch the spectacle. “Did you get it?” asked one of the directors. I had, in fact, so at least there was that.

And so, I leave you with the profound wisdom of this saying that I saw on the side of a truck the other day as I was driving down the highway: “Geniusness is not a flavour, we claim it by our own experience.”

I have no idea what this means and I’ve been trying to think that, if it’s a literal translation from another language, what might the original be? Just like when the Chinese translate American movie titles and they come out sounding both weird and hilarious, and some of them completely spoil the plot:

Seabed General Mobilization (Finding Nemo)
Interstellar Special Ability Team (Guardians of the Galaxy)
One Night, Big Belly (Knocked Up)
Satan Female Soldier (GI Jane)
Earth And Comet Collide (Deep Impact)
He’s A Ghost! (The Sixth Sense)

There are a ton more of these you can google and they’re all stellar.

In other news, I’ve mentioned my new novel, The Seventh Devil, a couple of times so here’s an update: my publisher, Bookland Press, loved it and they currently have it available for pre-order on all the Amazons (including Brazil and Japan) with a release date of June 15th 2021. And because I’m a control freak and have an aversion to stock images, I’ve been toying around with a couple of cover ideas. Luckily Kate is really a whiz at Photoshop, so she combined photos of my cousin, the daughter of a friend of mine, and a picture that Ken took of a swamp road. I really like the first one, but the publisher said they’d prefer something more “devilish, so here are the two options. Let me know what you think!

Also, here’s the updated synopsis if you’re interested:

When nineteen-year-old runaway Verity Darkwood, flat broke and devastated by guilt, takes refuge in a bar to escape the unwanted attention of a stranger, she doesn’t expect to meet Gareth Winter, let alone become business partners with him. They discover that they each possess the ability to interact with the world “beyond the veil” and, with the help of Horace Greeley III, editor of the fantastical online journal The Echo, Verity and Gareth spend the next two years on the road, helping the earthbound spirits who haunt their clients to cross over, or exorcising the demons that plague them. But when they stumble upon a series of unsolved child abductions spanning decades which are eerily similar to the circumstances surrounding the disappearance of Verity’s younger sister, they embark on a pursuit that will take them across Canada in their quest to find The Seventh Devil, the dangerous and mysterious figure who may be behind it all.