Christmas Carols

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.

Creative Wednesday: A Great Review

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:

Thursday Surprise: The Recording From My Reading: Feasting Upon The Bones

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.

Live Reading Tonight!

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/

It’s All About The Attitude

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.

Photo of a cork with a penny in it.

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:

Photo of a very nice bird house with the description Obnoxious bird house - make an offer

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.

Photo of a child's bicycle with the description Huffy bike

2) In the same vein, this little bike is adorable but…

Buyer: What a lovely little bike. And only ten dollars!
Bike: Hmph.
Buyer: What’s wrong?
Seller: Oh, don’t mind the bike. He’s in one of “his moods”, that’s all.
Bike: HMPH.
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.
Bike: HMPH!

Photo of a sign that says "Please inform one of our staff if this room is in need of some attention."

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.

Creative Wednesday: Where I Write

I had the great pleasure of being featured on author Gabi Coatsworth’s official website as part of her series on authors and where they write. My writing space is really precious to me, and I appreciate having the chance to share it with you. If you want to see it and find out more about the place where I wrote Smile, The Dome, Feasting Upon The Bones, and The Seventh Devil, you can read about it here: Where I Write

It’s Puzzling

I, like many people, have adopted new hobbies during the long cold never-ending winter that was the lockdown. I had always been disinterested in jigsaw puzzles, didn’t understand the thrill of putting a piece in its rightful spot, and certainly couldn’t see myself spending hours on something whose only end goal was to finish it then take it apart again. What a fool I was. Having now spent those many hours doing exactly those things, I, Ken, and Kate have completed numerous jigsaw puzzles, and the quest for new puzzles online when all the stores were closed has kept me plenty busy. We’ve done some beautiful puzzles, some easy, some hard, and some near impossible. And they’ve all been very normal in their own way—until now.

Not too long ago, I wrote a short story about a creepy jigsaw puzzle (it’s called “A Surprise In Every Box” and you can find it in my recently released short story collection Feasting Upon The Bones*, and I apologize for that shameless plug) but I never imagined I would find an insidiously creepy puzzle of my own until Thursday. My parents quite often prowl around thrift shops looking for cheap puzzles too, and they brought us one last week, a seemingly typical Dowdle puzzle of Peggy’s Cove in (she googles ‘where is Peggy’s Cove’ because even though she’s Canadian, she has a terrible knowledge of any country’s geography) Nova Scotia. I started to piece the edge together as one does and immediately discovered that one of the pieces was all chewed up and distorted, like a dog had eaten it and spat (or sh*t) it back out. Oh well, I thought, at least it’s not missing, because I HATE when a puzzle has a missing piece, and I think I’ve written about suspecting Atlas of stealing puzzle pieces before. But it got worse. See, there are a lot of tiny human (?) figures in the puzzle, and as I started to pull them out, it became clear that the artist who designed it was, perhaps, really more into horror stories than pastoral scenes of a harbour town.

Like, OK, it’s bad enough that there are 4 dudes standing on a rock looking like they all want to talk to me about Jesus, and numerous people are hoisting lobsters in the air and swinging them around like that’s a completely normal activity (and maybe it is in Peggy’s Cove) but then there’s this guy:

What the absolute f*ck is this guy doing, crawling out over a rock towards you like that girl from The Ring?! You don’t notice him at first, because there’s so much else going on, what with all the proselytizing and lobster waving, but once you do, HE’S ALL YOU SEE. And then suddenly it seems like maybe instead of an idyllic fishing village, this is a zombie town, and all the figures are now ominous and the lobsters are screaming for help. So far, I’ve only found his face. In the poster that comes with the puzzle, he appears to be wearing large, weird mittens on his hands, and I really don’t think I want to find the rest of him in case he comes to life and starts crawling over the back of my couch.

And why do you have so much time to do jigsaw puzzles? Don’t you have a quilt to finish?” I hear you ask. In fact, I don’t. Partway through row 11, when my second sewing machine once again lost its mind and refused to work, I threw down my denim patch in dismay and announced that I was going to find someone to finish it for me. This is not “giving up”. This is simply a recognition that there are things I’m good at, and things I’m not. So I went in search of someone who was better at sewing than me. I posted an ad on the local Facebook page, and that was a bit of a bust, giving me only advice on how to fix my machine. I did get one offer to come over and “consult” because the quilter in question was “very particular” about her projects and didn’t want it to look like two different people had done the quilt and I didn’t realize that was even a thing, because I am not particular AT ALL. But then Ken mentioned that the lady across the street had said she taught sewing once, so on Monday, I walked over and interrupted her mowing her lawn to inquire about her willingness to help me out. A long shot, some might say, but she immediately said “Sure”, that she could try a few rows to see.

I bundled some up and gave them to her in a bag. Less than half an hour later, I saw her coming up my sidewalk carrying the bag, and my heart sunk. She’d changed her mind, obviously. But no. As it turned out, she’s a VERY GOOD sewer, unlike me, and had done the three rows in the time it took me to sew one patch and swear at my machine like a sailor. The next day she called me over to look at all the now-completed rows, laid out on her living room floor, and I was a little overwhelmed and very grateful. Also, my carefully/haphazardly chosen pattern looked awesome. She’s going to finish the whole thing for me, and if she gets it done by Christmas, that’s still faster than I would have been able to do it.

*Speaking of kind things that people do, and speaking of Feasting Upon The Bones, if you bought it and liked it, could you leave a review? In exchange, I’ll name a character after you in the next collection, which I’m already working on now that I’ve contracted out the quilt and have all this free time.

Nailed It

So I’m feeling a little anxious right now for a couple of reasons. First, I DID manage to find two chairs that were not cocaine-related, so I quickly set about painting and reupholstering them and fixing up the table, and made a very cute set complete with a piece of wall art that I advertised for sale. Almost immediately, a woman contacted me and asked me to call her. I did:

Me: Hi, you were asking about the table and chairs set?
Woman (thick Russian accent): Yes. I will take. Sandra will call to arrange pick up.
Me: Um…okay…

And then I had several questions, the first and foremost of which was “Who the f*ck is Sandra, and how am I once again back in this weird chair/cocaine loop?” I so badly wanted to say “This really is a table and chairs, not anything else, IF YOU KNOW WHAT I MEAN”, but what if she didn’t know what I meant and then I lost the sale? Or what if she DID, and then I lost the sale? So I figured I’d play things by ear. On Thursday night, somebody named Ray messaged me: “It’s Sandra. I’m on the way.” But then the phone rang, and it was Sandra, telling me she couldn’t come because it was raining. This made little sense until she explained that she had an open pick-up truck and didn’t want the set, which she was picking up for the Russian woman, to get wet. Ultimately, Ken and I delivered the whole thing to her because, as it turned out, she lived just one town over and she was a very nice woman and had no interest in cocaine, or at least she was polite enough not to mention it.

Not cocaine

The second reason I’ve been feeling anxious is because Ken has embarked upon yet another home improvement project involving the dismantling and rebuilding of our side porch. He had previously done the same with the front porch and it’s amazing, but it took him TWO YEARS. And remember the gazebo that started out as a simple deck with a roof for the inflatable hot tub but ended up being something akin to the Taj Mahal? The issue is that we use the side porch as our main entrance, so I’m more than a little concerned about the pace and scope of this project.

In addition, I have certain irrational fears about elements of the construction industry, like being afraid of stepping on a nail sticking out of a wooden board, falling onto a table saw, and other highly improbable things involving dangerous power tool-like objects. I can usually quell these fears, except that I’m married to a man who takes extreme delight in making them worse. Case in point: I have a morbid fear of nail guns. Ken was using one last weekend, and I had to keep going into the other room because I was afraid of getting shot with it. When Ken pointed out that it was absolutely impossible that he could shoot me with a nail gun because of its safety guard, I reminded HIM that that was exactly what he said about the electric staple gun, right before he shot a staple past my head and that I didn’t trust ANY so-called “safety technology” regarding sharp, missile-like objects when it was in his hands. Sure enough, not much later, he dropped the nail gun on the floor, tip-down, and came close to shooting a nail into his foot. He will claim that I am exaggerating in a “lying” kind of way, but I’m just telling it like I saw it.

In other news, because I’m retiring at the end of September, the job ad to replace me was posted on Friday, and when I read it, my first thought was “Holy sh*t, is that what I actually do?!” And then it occurred to me that if I applied for it, I wasn’t even sure that I would get it, because it made me sound very fancy and experienced, and not at all afraid of Russian cocaine dealers or power tools.

And in other, other news, Feasting Upon The Bones, my debut short story collection from Potters Grove Press (which is currently sitting at #1 on Amazon’s Hot New Releases for Horror Anthologies), is now being delivered and my parents were the first people as far as I know to get their copy. And don’t think I’m a terrible daughter—I offered to give them a copy for free but they insisted on buying one, which I signed for them yesterday, because they really are the best and most supportive parents a girl with irrational fears could ask for.

Creative Wednesday: Feasting Upon The Bones

I’m really excited to share the news that my first short story collection Feasting Upon The Bones is now available for pre-order! You can find it on the following websites:

Potters Grove Press (Paperback, Kindle, ePUB, PDF)

Amazon.com

Amazon.ca (also available on Amazon UK and others)

The Stories In Between (website of Potters Grove Press editor, River Dixon)

And if you buy it, read it, and like it, I’d love if you could give it a review! And for those of you who’ve voted for me for various things over the last couple of years, you might just find your name in one of the stories as promised!

Creative Wednesday – Titles, Talk and Tipples Part 2

Here’s the second part of my incredibly fun interview with Jude Matulich-Hall. Don’t know why it took me so long to post this, but you can watch me get slightly tipsy as we talk about my upcoming short story collection Feasting Upon The Bones (Potters Grove Press), cassette tapes, and meeting my idol Gary Numan. You can watch it here.