Thanks to my good friend Willow Croft of Willow Croft: Bringer of Nightmares and Storms for her unique and very fun interview with me for The Horror Tree’s Spooky Six Interview Series. I hope you enjoy finding out more about me, especially the reason why I never dangle my arm off the bed. You can read it here on The Horror Tree!
A couple of weeks ago, I was getting ready to set up a WordPress post, and I suddenly noticed that below the place where it says, ‘Add title’, there was some faint text. I looked more closely and the text said, “What are your feelings about eating meat?”
And I was like, Are you judging me, WORDPRESS? Because the post I was setting up was fairly bacon-heavy, and how the hell did they even know that, let alone start pestering me about it? For the record, I would prefer NOT to eat meat, but I’m realistic in that a) I like the taste of most of it (organ meats aside, because they are extremely gross), and no one has yet to discover a vegetarian bacon that tastes as good as the real thing. On the other hand, I had an experience not long ago when I called a government agency to complain about the way that a truck I was following on the highway was transporting turkeys, presumably to the slaughterhouse, and it was so awful that I called Ken crying. The so-called veterinarian that answered my call was less than helpful, and told me that the turkeys were “probably huddled together for warmth rather than being stacked on top of each other”, and that didn’t make me feel any better AT ALL.
But I don’t want to get into the complexities of eating meat versus being vegetarian, because WordPress is still doing that weird thing right now. I started to set up my post for this week, and right below ‘Add title’, it says “Tell us one thing you hope people never say about you.” And my response is “Who the f*ck is US?!” Is this WordPress trying to make some extra cash by blackmailing random bloggers?
Random Blogger: Ooh, good question. Hmm. Well, I hope people never say I’m a murderer, because THAT was in self-defense.
WordPress: Self-defense, you say? We’ll see about that.
5 minutes later…
WordPress: According to our investigation, it was NOT self-defense. You owe us twenty-five thousand dollars to keep quiet about this.
Random Blogger: Damn.
All I can think is that WordPress is playing the long game, hoping that some blogger desperate for a topic will fall for their ploy. Does anyone really open up the site without a topic in mind, just praying that WordPress will provide inspiration? And yes, I see the irony in this whole debate, because I wouldn’t have a topic MYSELF if it wasn’t for these bizarre WordPress prompts. So with that in mind, here are the things I hope people never say about me:
1) I’m good at math (because that would be a LOT to live up to).
2) I’m not funny (but I’m not actually that funny in person so it’s ok).
3) I have too many clocks (I just bought another one at the antique market where I work and it’s so gorgeous and it was so cheap that I carried it downstairs cradling it in my arms like a baby).
4) My nickname is NOT Player One (because it totally is, even if I’m the only one who thinks so).
5) I’m too old to dance like no one is watching. (I regularly dance behind the till at work when no one is watching, although sometimes customers see me and give me a thumbs-up, and yes there’s music because we have a radio playing behind the till just in case you thought I was one of those people who dance to music in their own heads, which I also do sometimes but just not at work).
Screw you, WordPress—I’ve fallen for your little game.
In other news, if you read my post last Monday, you’ll know that my new short story collection At The End Of It All is now available for pre-order but I posted the wrong link. It would be a great Christmas gift for you or someone you love, so if you want to order it, you can go here: At The End Of It All. Also, in honour of the new collection coming out soon, Potter’s Grove has put my first short story collection, Feasting Upon The Bones, (which got some very good reviews and would also make a great Christmas gift) on sale for a limited time and you can find it here: Feasting Upon The Bones
Just a quick surprise post to let you all know that my new short story collection, At The End Of It All: Stories From The Shadows is now available for pre-order from Potter’s Grove Press! I’m super-excited about this collection, which features a foreword written by my friend and writer extraordinaire, Steven Baird from Ordinary Handsome, and if you haven’t read him or follow his blog, you definitely should–he’s the kind of writer I love to read. His work leaves me breathless, every single time.
At The End Of It All has been my heart’s work for the last year; I started writing it not long after Feasting Upon The Bones was published. It contains 27 short stories, some flash fiction, some a little longer and some shorter, and I’m extremely proud of it. And I’m especially thrilled by the cover image that Potters Grove has chosen–they really are the best, and possess a tremendous creative vision that aligns perfectly with my own. As you know, Christmas is coming and what a perfect gift a spooky collection of stories makes! So if you’d like to give the gift of literature, you can pre-order here: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0BPTQC5DM
It’s been a hectic week and I didn’t think I had much to write about, but then I remembered that I hadn’t told you about my new tattoo. You may remember that over a year ago, I promised that I would get all my books tattooed on me, and I’d made a good start but then I got sidetracked. Until finally, three weeks ago, I finally got an appointment with my favourite tattoo guy, Nathan S. of New Rise Studio. He did what he always does—I arrive, he says “What were you thinking?” then I say, “A steampunk pocket watch with the words ‘Time’s a-ticking under it”, and he says “Okay”, then he draws something fantastic on the spot. Here’s the end result:
I’m super-happy with it, because the image commemorates Feasting Upon The Bones, my first short story collection (Potters Grove Press), featuring the character Mr. Death and his catchphrase “Time’s a-ticking.” I’ve expanded that character and he also now appears in a couple of other places, which you’ll hear more about down the road. But for now, Feasting is immortalized on the back of my calf.
I was scrolling through the pictures on my phone, looking for something interesting to go with a story that was going to be published on DarkWinter Lit (I only use original images, taken by either me or Ken, except in rare circumstances, because I like to customize a unique image to the individual story or poem), and I came across this image, which you might recognize:
Yes, it’s from WordPress and it’s the image you see when a post has no comments. I’ve seen it hundreds of times, but I only looked at it closely the other day and then I was really confused. Seriously, what the hell is it? Here are two options:
a) A girl carrying a giant tennis racket, accompanied by a boy awkwardly holding a small oar. Are they attending the world’s weirdest summer camp? I went to summer camp once, and all I remember is shooting arrows at targets and crying because I got stung by a bee in my ladyparts. Needless to say, I hate camping to this day, especially if it involves playing tennis in high heels or rowing a boat with one hand. Or bees.
b) She’s a detective with a magnifying glass the size of a hula hoop and he’s her trusty sidekick, ready to gather evidence in his crossbody bag. Someone at the summer camp died, and now they’re looking for clues. Maybe there’s one behind that mostly invisible plant. Actually, THAT would be a summer camp I’d go to—a murder mystery adventure camp where the counsellors are all robots, and it would be called MurderCampWorld, kind of like WestWorld but without the sex, violence, misogyny, and racism. Okay, there’d be a little violence but it’s just the one murder.
Regardless of what the image actually is, I have no idea why it’s the one chosen to encourage people to post comments, and if I were customizing an image for this page, I’d encourage discussion with this cute little guy that I found on Facebook Marketplace. I’m not sure what he’s supposed to be, but I’m certain he would make people really want to open up:
In other news, I had a tarot card reading the other day on Zoom, done by my good friend and fellow blogger Willow Croft, Bringer of Nightmares and Storms at willowcroft.blog. It was fantastic and fun, and her insights have really helped me center my energy around the things that matter the most to me. I highly recommend her—she charges a small fee, but it’s completely worth it, and she can do it over Zoom, telephone or even email. If you’re interested in supporting a fellow blogger, you can contact her at email@example.com for a full reading, or if you’d like to try it out, use the code mydangblog in the email subject line for a $5 USD three-card reading.
This past April, I joined my friend Jude Matulich-Hall, author of The Eversteam Chronicles, as a guest on the first episode of her new video podcast called “Bad Juju & J Bone Presents…” I was her first guest last year on the original iteration of the show, called Titles, Talk, & Tipples, and you may remember that we had a lot of fun, thanks to the tippling, although we did talk about books. This time, the show has expanded quite a bit—here’s the synopsis:
“In this episode you’re going to see some incredible photography by Suzanne’s daughter Katelyn Whytock, hear some poetry and excerpts from Suzanne’s written works, and get a peek into her new books coming out in an interview I recently had with her. Storytime isn’t just for kids! You’ll also get some adult storytime with Bad JuJu as she reads Suzanne’s short story “What’s My Name?” from Feasting Upon The Bones (Potters Grove Press), see a vintage film by Georges Méliès, another short film with Bad JuJu & J Bone, and some creepy, kooky fun interspersed throughout.”
Just like last time, it WAS a lot of fun, especially seeing Jude as her alter-ego Bad Juju reading my story accompanied by Gnossienne 1 by Erik Satie, a piece of piano music I’m completely obsessed with right now. So if you have some time, watch it and give it a like and/or subscribe—I know she’ll appreciate that as much as I appreciate her promoting my work. Here’s the link–I didn’t embed it so that she’ll get the views on her channel:
As I’m writing this, sweet little Ilana is lying on the chair next to me, basking in the sunshine. Sadly, sweet little Atlas is in the kitchen behind a baby gate because he still doesn’t know what to do with her. We’ve been keeping them separated, giving Ilana the run of the upstairs, but the other day, she was sitting in our bedroom window enjoying the spring air when Atlas suddenly appeared (somehow the gate downstairs got moved). He rushed in and before I could do anything, he tried to jump up and sniff her, causing her to freak out. By the time I had yelled to distract him, she’d managed to rip a large hole in the window screen in her desperation to escape, but was able to retreat to her own end of the house before he realized she was gone. It was time for a conversation:
Me: Look what you’ve done!
Atlas: Not me.
Me: Well, if you hadn’t charged at her, it wouldn’t have happened. Leave her alone!
Atlas: But is squirrel. I chase squirrel.
Me: She’s not a squirrel. Squirrels are black.
Atlas: Is black.
Me: She’s black and white. She doesn’t look anything like a squirrel. Stop chasing her.
Atlas: I love her.
Me: You have a weird way of showing it.
And speaking of weird ways to show admiration, the other day one of our more “quirky” customers was standing at the counter. Suddenly, he looked over at me, where I was helping a woman decide on a ring, and yelled across the store, “Hey! You have a clean face!” I kind of muttered “Thank you,” and he followed up with, “Are you married?!” at which point, my young boss told him very sternly to stop harassing the staff. Clean face? I guess that criteria is as good as any other…
Christmas is one of my favourite times of the year. Twinkly lights (which Ken calls “twerking lights”), home baking, holidays, and of course, presents–for those of you who know me well, you are well aware of my love of presents, both giving and receiving them. But the thing that really captures the spirit of the season for me is Christmas music. I start playing Christmas music on the first of December, and I drive Ken crazy by listening to A Charlie Brown Christmas almost continuously (and when the music for the party scene comes on, I always dance like Snoopy. It’s FUN and I also do it at the antique market where I work–they have the radio tuned to the Christmas station all day long, so I get to do my Snoopy dance several times a day. Great cardio.). We also have some beautiful traditional Celtic Christmas stylings, as well as some instrumental stuff we got years ago with cool sound effects in the background, like birds chirping, sleigh bells jingling, or the sound of skates on ice. So as you can tell, I love a lot of Christmas music. But on the other hand, there are some really creepy Christmas songs out there.
1) One of the songs that’s been playing on a loop at work is the version of “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” with Idina Menzel and Michael Bublé. And wow, this is one hella creepy song. It sounds perfectly pleasant and festive but if you listen carefully to the lyrics, you start to wonder how this EVER made it onto anyone’s Christmas playlist because it’s about a woman who wants to leave a man’s apartment, but he’s refusing to let her go. At one point, he convinces her to stay a little longer, and pours her a drink, prompting her soon after to ask, “Say, what’s in this drink?” I’ll tell you what’s in your drink—DRUGS. Here’s a newsflash, lady—if you have to ask that question, your next move should be running for the door. But no. As he takes off her hat, she tells him she really ought to say “No, No, No”, at which point he “moves in closer”. Then she explains that her mother will start to worry and father will be pacing the floor. DUDE, SHE LIVES WITH HER PARENTS—LET. HER. GO. HOME. This guy obviously doesn’t understand CONSENT. Then he tells her that she’s “hurting his pride”. Is this not the epitome of a man who is about to be involved in a major #MeToo scandal? How did this song even get to be a “Christmas carol”? It’s not about Christmas; it’s about a guy trying to get into a girl’s pants. I think Jesus would have a serious objection to a song like that being used to celebrate his birthday. (I was going to say, “because Jesus never tried to get into anyone’s pants”, but then Ken just reminded me that some people say that Jesus was married to Mary Magdalene, and that’s why he appeared to her first when he was reincarnated or whatnot. Still, Jesus would never have been like, “C’mon baby, I’m not pushy, I’m just opportunistic”). But there are other carols which are actually more Christmas-y which, when you think about them, are equally ridiculous. Here are a few:
2) Jingle Bells: In what possible world is it FUN to dash around in an open sleigh? This song could not possibly have been written in Canada, where it’s regularly -30 degrees. If you’re dashing around without some kind of shield from the wind-chill, you’re going to get frostbite and your nose will fall off. This is only Christmas-y if you put a little bow on the nose and hang it on your Christmas tree. On second thought, that’s not actually festive, it’s just kind of gross.
3) Last Christmas I Gave You My Heart: This is a contemporary tune by George Michael. The first two lines are “Last Christmas I gave you my heart/The very next day, you gave it away.” Is this not the ultimate in regifting? I myself have been known to pass on a mug or something equally inconsequential, but even I wouldn’t stoop so low as to regift a human heart. This is the worst Secret Santa gift ever, like “It’s decomposing a little, but if you keep it on ice for a few days, you can hang it on the tree next to that piece of nose you’ve got there. It’s a nice theme.”
4) God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen, The Shark Version: I googled this one and I can’t even find it on the internet, but it was on a compilation of Christmas songs called Santa Jaws that my brother and I had when we were little. The only lyrics I remember are:
God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen
You’re not so merry now.
The seaside signs said not to swim,
But you swam anyhow...
Moral of that Christmas song–never ignore seaside signs.
5) Honorable Mention: Christmas Tree by Lady Gaga and Space Cowboy: This one doesn’t get a lot of airplay because it’s just a tad raunchy. Thanks to Gaga, the phrases “let’s fa-la-la-la-la” and “underneath my Christmas tree” are now sexual innuendo. If she got together with the guy from “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” I doubt there would be a lawsuit pending—there would just be one very merry gentleman.
At any rate, I wish you all a very Merry Christmas, and Happy Holidays if you don’t celebrate Christmas. And if you’re looking for a last-minute gift (shameless plug coming as fast as a one-horse open sleigh), don’t forget that you can go to the Potters Grove Press website and download my short story collection Feasting Upon The Bones in either PDF or Kindle version and give it to someone you love. Tell them you know the author personally and that she’s weird, but nice.
Thank you so much to award-winning writer and blogger D. Wallace Peach for a wonderful review of Feasting Upon The Bones! Diana is incredibly supportive of authors and the blogging community and if you’re not following her, you should be! You can read all of her reviews here: Myths of the Mirror August Book Reviews: Part 2 , or the one specific to Feasting below:
For anyone who wasn’t able to attend my live reading last night, here’s the recording:
I hope you enjoy it. It didn’t work right away and I had a moment where I thought I would cry, but Kate and Ken were there troubleshooting and it all worked out in the end, with almost 30 people joining in. And there was wine.
Do you have 45 minutes to spare tonight? Just a reminder that I’ll be doing a live reading from Feasting Upon The Bones on Facebook from 7:00 to 7:45 pm Eastern Time. I’ll be reading 4 pieces from the collection and discussing a little bit about the stories and what inspired them, and then, if there’s time, I might read a piece from the new collection I’m currently working on, Night Terrors. I hope you can join me. Here’s the link: https://www.facebook.com/108877348159254/live_videos/
Well, it’s been an exciting week at the mydangblog household. First, I got it into my head suddenly, and I mean VERY suddenly, that it would be an amazing idea if I did a live reading for my new short story collection in August. And if you know anything at all about me, you’ll know that like most things I do (e.g. the quilt), I went into it with a lot of determination but without a single clue about how it should be done. I messaged a couple of friends (thanks Susan and Cecilia!) and got some advice, but still ended up spamming all my friends, not once but twice, with Facebook invites. I really have no idea what I’m doing and whether or not it will work, but if you’d like to join me on Wednesday, August 11 at 7 pm Eastern Time, you can access the reading by either going to the Feasting Upon The Bones Live Reading Facebook page or join via this link even if you don’t have Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/108877348159254/live_videos/
I hope some of you will come, either to see me read some stories and drink wine or watch dead air and imagine me frantically trying to figure out how to get the live stream going whilst simultaneously drinking wine. Either way, there will be wine.
And I’ve been getting great feedback on the short story collection, so again, I’d super-appreciate if anyone could leave even a short review on Amazon or Goodreads or whatnot, or even just some stars. I know a couple of you have already and it totally made my day.
In other news, we took down the old side porch on our house last week because the columns were rotting and discovered that most of the old side porch structure was also rotting, so it was extremely fortunate that we’d embarked upon this particular reno project before one of us fell through the balcony. As Ken was dismantling the roof, he found a champagne cork sliced open with a penny stuck in it tucked next to one of the rafters:
Ken: What do you think this is for?
Me: Some kind of weird superstition? A sacrifice to Dionysus?
Ken: I’ve never heard of that. Let me google…champagne cork with—oh, it autofilled. Guess it’s a thing after all.
Me: Well, we have to keep it and put it back once we’re done. Ooh, we could pop another bottle and do it with a second champagne cork for double the luck!
Ken: And drink the champagne.
Me: Obviously drink the champagne, KEN.
And in honour of our rotten porch, I present to you three other inanimate objects that have attitudes of their own, according to these ads:
1) This birdhouse looks really cute and rustic but apparently appearances can be deceiving:
Me: Ooh, I love your birdhouse. Could I offer you twenty-five dollars for it?
Birdhouse: Twenty-five dollars?! F*ck off, lady.
Owner: I’m so sorry. My birdhouse is a bit of a dick.
Birdhouse: You can f*ck right off too, JANICE.
Me: What an obnoxious bird house.
Owner: Hence the ad.
2) In the same vein, this little bike is adorable but…
Buyer: What a lovely little bike. And only ten dollars!
Buyer: What’s wrong?
Seller: Oh, don’t mind the bike. He’s in one of “his moods”, that’s all.
Buyer: Does he get like that a lot?
Seller: He’s just a little huffy because I wouldn’t take his training wheels off for the ad.
Bike: I don’t NEED THEM, STANLEY.
Seller: Yes, but they make you MORE MARKETABLE, BRIAN.
3) And finally—I’ve seen warehouses with self-esteem issues but this bathroom is a bit of a drama queen:
Customer: Excuse me, but I think your bathroom needs some attention.
Staff person: Good lord, what’s it doing now?
Customer: It’s a little weepy. But when I asked what was wrong, it said, “Oh, nothing. Don’t worry about ME. Obviously I’m JUST FINE”.
Staff: Sigh. Yes, it can be quite passive-aggressive when it’s unhappy. Look, I hate to pry, but were you in there for a…(whispers) poo?
Customer: I—uh—well, yes. But it was just a small one.
Staff: That explains it. Time for the lavender air freshener. That usually does the trick.