Creative Wednesday: The Seventh Devil is here!

You may or may not have seen on my social media that my latest novel, The Seventh Devil, has finally been released after several delays due to Covid backlog at the printing plant. I’m really excited about it, except for the fact that Amazon has been causing so many issues with making it available. My publisher reached out to them, and this is what they said: “Last Summer, Amazon ordered as normal throughout and we heard reports that processing delays resulted in trucks sitting unreceived for up to 2 weeks at Amazon facilities. This summer, Amazon is aggressively triaging their stock orders to manage what is moving through the warehouses. This is resulting in gaps between when Amazon runs out of stock, and when they reorder a book, because books, barring the best sellers, are still deprioritized.”

“Barring the best sellers”?! Well, maybe it would BE a best seller if Amazon bothered prioritizing books instead of socks, which I can get the very next day after I order them. The Dome has been suffering the same fate, showing up as unavailable or out of stock at various times as well. But here’s the great news–if you want a copy of The Seventh Devil, or my other Bookland Press books, Smile and The Dome, you can order them through All Lit Up, (click the link and it will take you right there) a much better distributor who ships to anywhere in Canada AND the United States. Otherwise, for my friends outside of North America, let’s hope Amazon gets its act together soon.

And just to refresh your memory, here’s the synopsis for The Seventh Devil:

“When nineteen-year-old runaway Verity Darkwood, homeless 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, successfully crossing over the ghosts who haunt their clients, or getting rid of 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.”

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/

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 – 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:

A-Muse-ing

This week, D. Wallace Peach of  Myths of the Mirror challenged her readers to write about their muses. She has many, all with distinct personalities, and the one who appeared to her cut quite an imposing figure. My muse, on the other hand, isn’t corporeal, doesn’t have a name, and annoys the hell out of me.

Cue frenetic electric guitar.

A screaming howl rising to a crescendo.

I can’t stand it, I know you planned it…

Me (groggy): What the f*ck…?
Muse: Hello!
Me: Why are you making me listen to Sabotage at 3 o’clock in the morning?!
Muse: You weren’t asleep anyway. You had an idea and you need to write it down.
Me: No, it’s fine. I’ll remember it in the morning.
Muse: No you won’t. Write it down.
Me: It was only two damned lines. I’ll remember it.
Muse: That’s what you said last time. Then you went back to sleep and when you woke up in the morning, you couldn’t remember the fantastic idea you had. It was only mediocre, if I’m being completely honest, but you were still really furious with yourself.
Me: But I’m all warm and snuggly.
Muse: WRITE IT DOWN.
Me: Fine! Where’s my damn phone? There…are you happy? And since we’re both up, any ideas for the blog this week?
Muse: Two words. Weird clock.
Me: Oh right! You’re the best muse.
Muse: I know, right? Now that you’re wide awake, do you want to discuss the sequel to The Dome? Any more progress on Chapter 2?

Luckily, I was saved from the rest of that conversation when Atlas decided to throw up. As for Weird Clock, no, it’s not one of mine. Get ready for more Facebook ads that make no sense:

1) Weird Clock

I can only imagine the conversation regarding the existence of this particular item:

Guy: Hey honey, I think I’m going to sell this weird clock. It’s so small that I can’t see the time from over here.
Wife: Well, it’s no use to us. Do you think anyone would even pay good money for it? I mean, the only way you could even see what time it is would be to wear it on your arm or something.
Guy: On your arm?! What a ridiculous idea. Who on earth would want to do THAT?
Wife: We’ll be lucky to get 2 dollars for it.

2) Room For Rent in a Workout Basement

And you thought a gym membership was expensive! $550 a month and be forced to work out on top of that? No thank you! My only question is “Where’s the workout equipment?” All I see are two boxsprings and two mattresses. Is it a trampoline workout? Because that ceiling is REALLY low.

3) W.w.1 Gift Box

Is it the shadow of a grenade? Is it an extreme close-up? Is the person being purposefully mysterious? Because there’s another picture and it’s exactly the same as this one. Even the description below just says W.w.1 gift box. Is it a box that contains a gift from World War 1 or—hear me out—is it a box that CONTAINS World War 1?:

Guy 1: Hey, I got you a present!
Guy2: Ooh, what is it?
Guy 1: Well, you know how you’re always talking about how much you like war?
Guy 2 (excited): Yes…
Guy 1: I got you one of your own!! It’s an original!

4) Jullery Box

Perfect for holding all your jullery.

5) Brass candle holders for carriage or hearse with eagle tops

Not only is it the longest title for an ad, I think it’s a little misleading. That puppy is NOT made of brass and I don’t see any damn eagle tops anywhere. I know you’re not allowed to sell pets on Facebook Marketplace, but if you’re going to try anyway, couldn’t you just advertise the puppy as Con Rear Stairs? Or a Temporary Sheep/Goat Fence?

Driving By The Numbers

I’ve picked up several new followers lately, many of whom are NOT vitamin bloggers (but if you are, I take a LOT of vitamins so welcome!), and I thought it might be time to let you all know what to expect when you follow this blog. Today’s entry is short and sweet because I’m one chapter away from finishing my new book—it’s the denouement so it needs careful thought and a few solid hours of writing time, which I’ll be doing the second I wrap this post up.

So this is me.

In 2015, I bought a cute little car. It was a 2013 model but it had only been used for car shows and demos, so it had very low mileage; in fact, I think when I got it, the odometer (I just googled “thing on car that tells you mileage” in case you were thinking I was super-knowledgeable about cars) was below 2 000 kilometres, which is like 10 000 US miles or something, and I thought that was really cool. As I was driving it places, I would look at the ODOMETER every once in a while to see if I’d hit a mileage milestone and if I did, I would pull over and take a picture. Here’s the first one I took at 11 111:

Here’s 12 345 from a few months later:

There was a lull in my odometer fascination for a while, but then I reached this milestone:

All those 4s look really cool, I think. Although the number 4 is apparently unlucky to some cultures, it isn’t to mine—I’m half English and half Scottish, so 4 is simply the time we have more tea and haggis.

Then I reached a more scary number—notice that I didn’t drive the extra 5 kilometres to round out the shot, on the off-chance that it might stir up some kind of negative universal energy (as an aside, I participate in a Zoom group occasionally and the password for the room is 666, and whenever I see that number, my first instinct is to yell, “Ah! The number of the beast!” But I don’t do it out loud, just in my head and usually to an Iron Maiden song. The first time I entered the password, I was worried that I would be transported into one of the 9 circles of hell, but no, it was just a group of friendly Asian people, so Dante was way off there).

Anyway, last week I was driving and I realized that my odometer read 79, 972. “That’s so close to 80,000,” I said to myself. “Only a little more than a thousand kilometres to go and I can get another cool picture.” And if right now, you’re saying to YOURSELF, “I think the math is really, really wrong here,” you would be absolutely correct.

So I got to my destination, glanced at the odometer and gasped in dismay to see that it read 80, 007 and my first instinct was to yell “What the f*ck!” And I did that out loud, not in my head. I was well and truly furious with myself for once again being completely stymied by mathematical calculations, and I drove home in a snit. At least for the first 5 minutes, because my odometer, as you can see, is digital. The 8 looks like a capital B, and the zeros look like capital Os, and the 5 looks like a big-ass S and I realized, with a sudden thrill, that if I waited another seventy-some-odd kilometres, I could spell out the word BOOBS and that made me smile all the way home.

So, to sum:

I’m terrible at math.
There will sometimes be swearing.
I’m a 54 year-old woman with an adolescent sense of humour.

Welcome to my world.

(Update: I finished my new novel, The Seventh Devil, yesterday. 177 pages and 51, 370 words. Now those are some numbers!)

Creative Wednesdays – Keeping Faith

This is a piece I wrote a few months ago. It’s deeply personal, but I’d like to share it with all of you. For a little context, if you’ve followed me for a long time, you’ll have noticed that the name of my child has been changed in all my posts to Kate, my wonderful daughter, who told me she was fine with me sharing it:

Keeping Faith

I stopped believing in a higher power
A few years ago
But sometimes I wonder if I’m wrong
Driving down a dark road
There’s something coming with flashing lights
I pull over for ten seconds but
It’s only a tow truck and
I’m mad
In a hurry
Then I wonder if there was a reason
Like a deer up ahead that I just missed by those ten seconds
And I think about the deal I made with somebody’s god,
A long time ago
That if I could finally have a baby
I would love it forever no matter what
And when my beautiful boy came to me
Crying, saying
I’m in the wrong body
I’m really a girl
I didn’t think about the deal
Or anybody’s god
I just answered I will love you forever
No matter what
Then up ahead I see a doe and her fawn crossing the road
About ten seconds away
Enough time to slow down and remember
It takes two to make a bargain.

Voyage of Discovery

Well, it’s been another exciting week here in the house. Last week, I spoke of being like Magellan, and once again, I’ve been on a voyage of discovery:

1) I discover a solution

After 15 years of having a small sitting room, which is a misnomer in that it only seats three, and which is completely useless since anyone who visits us always comes in pairs, I looked around it on Tuesday and said to Ken, “You know, if we turn the loveseat so it’s perpendicular to the fireplace instead of facing it, sell that big-ass armchair no one ever sits in, buy a smaller chair, and move that wing chair over here, we could seat 4 people in this room.” Ken turned to me with the long-suffering look of a man who has suffered too long from impromptu furniture rearranging schemes. “Sure,” he said, “but all the stores are closed. Oh well. Maybe in a month.”

“But wait,” I said, and his long-suffering look turned into one of resignation, the resigned look of a man who knows that his wife has been perusing the local Buy and Sell sites. “I just saw the perfect chair on Facebook Marketplace. We can sell ours and buy THAT one.”

And that’s exactly what we did. The whole scheme was accomplished using social distancing, of course, which meant that the old couple who bought our big-ass chair refused any help as they staggered down the 100-foot long walkway to the sidewalk carrying it, and loaded it into their SUV. It was snowing and I felt awful, but they waved off any offer of assistance and then e-transferred me once it was safely stowed. Then Ken and I drove to a neighbouring town where the newest member of the family room awaited us on a porch.

“It’s beautiful,” I whispered.

“It’s heavy,” Ken answered.

Nevertheless, we/Ken got it loaded up, drove it home, and it now resides in our sitting room, filling me with the kind of joy you only feel when you’ve been locked inside your house for weeks. The new (pre-owned) chair is the one on the left. I don’t know about you, but I have no issue buying furniture second-hand—in fact, we got the loveseat in the picture from the Habitat For Humanity Restore Store for 80 bucks, and Ken and I made the coffee table out of an old pallet we found. 

2) I discover an impossible task

When I was a child, I suffered from a nasty skin condition called dyshidrosis that only affected my hands. The causes of dyshidrosis are still not-well-known today, but for some reason, 50 years ago, dermatologists thought that the oil in orange peel was one of the triggers and as a result, I wasn’t allowed to touch oranges. I’ve talked about my obsession with orange things before, but the one thing I never mentioned was my undying adoration for canned mandarin oranges, you know, the ones that come in the syrup. I long ago realized that orange peel wasn’t really a problem, so usually at work, I have a bag of mandarins in my office so I can have one with lunch every day and avoid scurvy. But then I was at the grocery store a couple of weeks ago and I realized that you can still get the canned ones, only they aren’t in cans anymore—they’re in these plastic cups with peel-off lids. I was super-excited, and at lunch the next day, I took one out of the cupboard and started to peel off the lid, which resulted in mandarin orange syrup squirting out all over me. “I’ll have to be more careful tomorrow,” I thought to myself, undaunted.

Tomorrow came, and again, despite my care, the syrup shot out. I’d learned my lesson and had it pointed away from me, so it ended up all over the floor, much to the delight of Titus.

Me: What the f*ck?!
Ken: You’re squeezing it. Don’t squeeze the cup when you peel off the lid.
Titus: You should totally squeeze the cup when you peel off the lid. This is yummy.
Me: I’m not squeezing it! And stop licking the floor!

The last part was for Titus, not Ken, just in case you’re worried that the furniture rearranging had finally sent him over the edge. Anyway, it doesn’t matter. There is no possible way to open a Del Monte Mandarin Orange Cup without having the f*cking juice jet out of it. But it’s still delicious.

3) I discover something new to worry about…

…because I don’t have enough things to worry about already. Anyway, I’ve been spending a LOT of time in online virtual meetings, on-camera most of the day, which is fine because I only have to look fancy from the waist up. From the waist down (no, I’m NOT naked!) I’m wearing pajama pants, fuzzy socks, and slippers. So I’m like a modern-day mullet: business up top and Netflix down below. Time has currently become a noun for both Ken and me:

Me: I’ve got a 9 o’clock.
Ken: Me too. Then I have a 1 o’clock.
Me: I’ve got an 11 o’clock, and then maybe a 2.

But on Wednesday, my 3 o’clock was cancelled, which gave me a chance to grab a snack. I had my phone in my pocket and I was on the way to the kitchen when the doorbell and the phone simultaneously rang. My reaction to this sudden ominous turn of events was to yell, “What the absolute f*ck is going on here?!?!!” as I went to answer the door at the same time as I put the phone to my ear. There was a man backing away from the door who called out, “It’s just your Staples order” as I heard people talking and laughing through the phone. I smiled and waved at the man, then took the phone away from my ear and realized to my horror that I was on a VIDEO CALL and that instead of seeing my face, everyone had a great close-up shot of the INSIDE OF MY EAR. And now, on top of everything else, I have to worry about whether or not the insides of my ears are clean, which I would hope they ARE, but how the hell would I know?! So in consolation, I opened my snack, wiped the mandarin juice off my pajama pants, and sat in my new chair.

As a postscript, I’m happy to tell you that my publisher has finally made both my novels available as Kobo e-books, which is great news because for the last two weeks, The Dome has been showing as “Currently Unavailable” on Amazon.ca and has disappeared completely from Amazon.com since somehow the title has been changed to “Dome” and the search link is broken. The word count for both Kobo e-books is completely wrong and less than half the actual words I wrote, unless a) Canadian words convert differently to American, like kilometres and miles or b) over half the words are actually missing, which will make it a real treat for readers to try and follow the plot. Here are the links in case anyone is interested:

The Dome: https://www.kobo.com/ca/en/ebook/the-dome-11
Smile: https://www.kobo.com/ca/en/ebook/smile-57

Creative Wednesdays – Dryad

I know it’s late but it’s still technically Wednesday and I’m kind of excited about this. A couple of weeks ago, I posted a poem here for Creative Wednesday. I’d never done that before, being kind of a closet poet and not very confident about my skill in that area. Your response was so wonderful and supportive that I thought, Why not? So I submitted a couple of pieces, and the wonderful people at Mineral Lit Mag accepted one of them. It’s called ‘Dryad’ and you can read it here.

I couldn’t have done it without all of you. You’re better than Chardonnay. But since you’re not at my house, I’m drinking the Chardonnay.

Creative Wednesdays – Resurrection

It’s Creative Wednesday! If you have a moment and you’d like something short to read, one of my flash fiction pieces is currently featured on Spillwords Press. It’s called “Resurrection” and you can read it by clicking here. If you like it, maybe you could give it some stars. Thanks!