Monthly Archives: November 2021

I don’t normally jump on …

… any controversy bandwagon, but can I just say how thrilled I am that almost NO retail stores (other than basics, which I still feel should also be closed) were open on Thanksgiving for “early Black Friday”? I don’t have anyone in my family that works retail, I DID work one year at Bath & Body Works and it was actually fun (it was a side job, so I didn’t have much choice, and for me it was a novelty), but I was against the idea from day one. I found it really rude that places wouldn’t let their workers spend a day with their families at home, and I NEVER shopped on that day for that reason. Maybe it’s another good thing that came out of this pandemic, and I hope it sticks.

On a side note, it always seemed like it “killed” the Black Friday idea anyway. Lots of people I know made a family tradition of getting up early and going as though it was a separate holiday, and it just seemed like it took some of the air out of that balloon (I work my day job on Black Friday, so this doesn’t affect me, but still … )

Stores Staying Closed on Thanksgiving 2021: The Official List


Happy Thanksgiving, from our house to yours! We hope you have a wonderful day celebrating!

— Kristi, Charles, Nathan, and Mikey (and Kristi’s cousin, Maryanne, who will be joining us this year)

For those of you who enjoy easy craft projects, these are table cards I made a few Thanksgivings back. Just get wooden tags/shapes at a craft store, a couple of three dimensional stickers, a marker, and a few pine cones. Decorate the tags the way you like, then you just “stick” them in the cones. This wasn’t my idea–I think I found this on Pinterest or something, but every year, someone asks how I made them.

So … are these new “turkey stuffing potato chips” any good?

I’m not sure if these were out prior to this year, but everyone seems to be making these now–I’ve seen a few different brands.

I bought them as a joke, thinking, ‘these will be disgusting.’

Turkey and Stuffing Chips Blog Post Art

I WAS WRONG. THEY ARE GOOD. In fact, they are FANTASTIC. If you like a richly-flavored chip that has a “bottom” to it (if that makes any sense), then these are absolutely delicious. In other words, if you enjoy any of the following flavors: Sour Cream & Onion, Garlic, Dill Pickle–then you’ll probably enjoy these; the flavor is robust, but not heartburn spicy, and not “thin” like some of the barbecue flavors can be.

I plan on serving them alongside the antipasto on Thanksgiving (it’s just going to be me, Nathan, Charles, and my cousin, Maryanne). I bought four bags just so I’d have some to last the holiday season–if you want to try them? Better hurry! They seem to be Limited Edition no matter who makes them.

Give us an hour, we’ll show you new worlds — today at 5pm!

Hello all!

End your work day right — a Strong Women-Strange Worlds Quick Read is happening today at 5pm!

**6 Authors * 8 Minutes Each!** Check out the line-up of fabulous women and non-binary science fiction, fantasy, and horror authors at this VIRTUAL live reading. Bring a beverage, relax, and let them entertain you. There will be prizes/giveaways as well. You won’t want to miss this! The program is FREE via Zoom, but you must sign up here:

Strong Women - Strange Worlds 11-18-21

I’ll be sharing the beginning of “Attempted Delivery,” which appears in The Shadows Behind.

One randomly chosen winner will get a free copy of Shadows, and anyone who attends and signs up for this blog will get a randomly chosen chapbook–which I only send out to my Holiday mailing list (if you’re already signed up for this blog and you attend, no worries, I’ll send you one too!) All writers are offering prizes, so this is a great opportunity to find something new or grab a gift!

Give us an hour, we’ll show you a new world. Hope to see you there!

THAT GOLDEN GIRLS SHOW! is not to be missed!

There are very few sitcoms that make me honest-to-God fall out of my chair. The Golden Girls has been one of them since I watched it first-run as a teen in the 1980s.

A friend of mine wanted to treat me to an evening out—and when she saw That Golden Girls Show!: A Puppet Parody was coming to The Palace in Waterbury, she surprised me with tickets.

That Golden Girls Show! Art

I wanted to write a specific review to encourage everyone to go if it comes to a nearby city, but this 80-minute show, composed of three “episodes,” is honestly more fun if you go into it blind. There are some awesome surprises Read the rest of this entry

34 ORCHARD Issue 4 is LIVE!


Issue 4 is up! You can get your copy here:

There is so much fine work in this issue, our largest yet. Don’t miss it!

I just watched DIANA: THE MUSICAL …

Diana - The Musical Poster Art

I’m not a ga-ga person when it comes to celebrities or the royals. I honestly couldn’t care less. However, Princess Di was integral to my teen years, so I’ve seen just about everything there is on her and her life; she was just part of the Gen-X experience. Diana: The Musical was taped and is on Netflix, so I gave it a watch.

I’ll start by saying that I knew critics were crapping all over this, but if you know me personally, you know I don’t much listen to critics if I’m interested in something—I can make up my own mind, thank you, and that goes for movies, too. This time around, I only partially agree with some of what the critics had to say.

So, if you are interested in Princess Di—or at least curious and wondering if it’s worth two hours of your life—then yes check it out, if nothing else to take in the spectacular performance by the woman playing Diana, Jeanna de Waal—she was absolutely awesome (I strongly feel she deserves to at least be nominated for a Tony; that’s how great a job she did). In addition, seeing Diana’s famous outfits come to life again was magical, and in many places, so impressive I wondered how they did it (the wedding gown swap—you’ll understand what I mean if you see this—is particularly mind-blowing. I still can’t figure out how the hell they pulled that off). The costume designers deserve awards, as far as I’m concerned.

Diana - The Musical Wedding Shot

The wedding scene in DIANA: THE MUSICAL.

I was enamored with Erin Davie as Camilla—she was honestly one of the most interesting parts of the show and a joy to watch; in addition, I actually felt a little sympathetic toward her, and I’m sure that’s in Davie’s performance, not in the book. I also enjoyed seeing extended interactions between Diana and her sister, which doesn’t get highlighted too much in biopics or documentaries (I’ve not seen Spencer yet, but plan to, so I don’t know if that one touches upon it).

However, emotionally—and for me that’s key in a show—there’s nothing going on here. It’s rather flat. In fact, the whole thing feels like a docudrama; I didn’t cry when Diana died at the end. I cried for days after the real one passed, so … that tells me the writers of this show screwed up. It doesn’t seem to have any emotional draw, in fact, until the last two numbers, and even then, it’s kind of like, ‘well, so what. Required big finish.’

If you can see it on Netflix for free? Do it.

The perfect accompaniment to “Carving Grace” …

Acapella group VoicePlay performs "Hoist the Colours."

Acapella group VoicePlay performs “Hoist the Colours.”

Our month of celebrating figureheads has come to an end. If you’d like to know more about real figureheads and their mythology, there are loads of resources—I didn’t spend any time this month talking about the real things because honestly, there are experts out there who have researched and published information that is much more eloquent and accurate than anything I could’ve written; there’s no point in paraphrasing something someone else did much better.

Here are some links if you’d like to learn more about figureheads and what it requires to make them:

The Historic England Blog: A Brief History of Ships’ Figureheads

Martin Jeffrey—Ship’s Figurehead Carving (he’s a real figurehead carver)

Daily Art Magazine: Wild Women of the Waves – Art of Ships Figureheads

Need a little bit of atmosphere to take with you? Here’s an acapella version of “Hoist the Colours” by a group called VoicePlay that’s absolutely unforgettable.

VoicePlay’s rendition of “Hoist the Colours”:

“Hoist the Colors,” while many think it’s a legitimate sea chantey, is not. It was written by Hans Zimmer for one of Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean films, but that doesn’t make it any less creepy. It’s so good it’s really hard to tell it’s not authentic—and I think it’s a perfect fit with “Carving Grace.”

Haven’t read “Carving Grace” yet? If you’d like to—and you’d like an anthology full of lots of other fun creepy creatures—you can pick up a copy of Wicked Creatures here:

Dark Thoughts of the Ladies of Salem: Lady Mermaid

Sponsor: Salem Beautification Committee

Artist: Shella Billings

Lady Mermaid Salem Beautification Committee -- Shelia Billings

Lady Mermaid

I will never go home.

About this Series

In my dark love story “Carving Grace,” figureheads wander the streets at night in pursuit of happiness—yours. In honor of its publication in NEHW Press’ Wicked Creatures this month (get your copy here:, I’m celebrating figureheads for 2021 Poe Season!

In Salem this summer, I discovered a collection of figureheads called The Lady of Salem Maritime Public Art Celebration, I took photos of as many as we spotted, and thought if, they were figureheads in my story, what would each be thinking? I made up their names (except for where indicated) and included sponsor and artist names if they were legible.

Announcing the Table of Contents for the Fall 2021 issue of 34 ORCHARD!


We’re thrilled to announce the Table of Contents for the Fall 2021 issue of 34 Orchard, which will be released on November 10, 2021!

This is our biggest issue yet. Here’s what we’ve got in store for you: Read the rest of this entry

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