Storytime! feat. Whidbey Island and birthdays

Chapter One: Whidbey Island

A few weekends ago, The Great Husbando, the Director of HR, and I ventured out into the wilds, otherwise known as… the outdoors. Just for two days. My family wanted to go to Whidbey Island to spend some time together and go on a short adventure. So, we all donned our masks, kept our hand sanitizer handy, and packed our car for a 48-hour excursion.

Whidbey Island is as beautiful and peaceful as it is… boring. Don’t get me wrong, I have my favorite stops: The Purple Moon, Whidbey Coffee, and The Book Nook. But once you’ve seen the local parks and have visited your favorite shops, what else is there to do? Have a surprise hike, up a mountain, in denim jeans, with absolutely no water, in the hot sun, wearing a face mask, and with your 70-year old parents.

When the DeVore trio arrived back at the hotel, we spent the rest of the night looking for dinner but since businesses were still on a limited schedule, all of the restaurants were closed. What an end to a weird and painful day.

The Director of HR had never looked so tired before. He was sprawled on the bed and didn’t move for quite a while. I would occasionally poke at him. He acknowledged my presence with a grumble and an eye-roll. I’m sure I did the same to The Great Husbando.

When we arrived home, I realized that I had my fill of “peopleing” that weekend. I think I’ve finally recouped after two weeks of holing up in our house. I’ve realized that since quarantine started, it takes a lot more energy to be social, even though I miss it. The idea of going out and seeing my friends is still exciting to me but I know it will take a lot out of me. I wonder if anyone else has felt their introvert-tendencies grow in this time, or if it is my experience alone.

Until things go back to normal (I have a feeling this is the new normal, though), I am content to work on personal projects and surround myself with plants. Plants which I have not yet accidentally murdered. Gold star for me!

Also, I made them a conference table out of craft wood so now they can properly plan out how to take over the world.

Chapter Two: Birthdays

My birthday is on July 12th and my mom’s is on July 14, so we usually spend an afternoon with the family, doing some sort of barbecue-picnic-family reunion thing. It’s one of my favorite times of the year. This year was no exception. Mom made lumpia. We all arrived at her house with gifts and food in hand. The Director of HR was excited to not have a tie on.  We got to watch my niece pester one of her younger brothers (as is her right as the older sibling).

One of the most notable presents I received this year was a Costco membership from my brother and sister-in-law. Yesterday afternoon, I donned my mask and headed down to get our first Costco membership. Now we’re like real grown-ups. And (of course), my first purchase was a pack of moleskin notebooks and a 5 1/2 lb jar of Red Vines. You know. Like grown-ups do. In my defense, I wanted my first Costco purchase to be something that screamed “writer” and “private investigator” so I figured Red Vines would serve as a nice substitute for cigarettes.

Oh. Did I not mention that I want to get a private investigator’s license? Yeah, that’s also a thing.

*hugs*

Joy

Teleseryes… Podcasts… Pride… Mules…

I wouldn’t say that I’m in a creative rut. On the contrary, I’m buzzing with excitement and creativity. The problem is I don’t know where to focus it. I

Hardwood floors made of Popsicle sticks, creepy Victorian wallpaper, and one of my characters appearing in a dumbwaiter.
STORY: “The Traveler”

have a non-writing creative outlet (I’ve been working on a few dioramas of scenes from some old short stories). However, when it comes to writing, I… don’t know where to focus my energy.

 

Unnamed Filipino Teleseryes Project

I’ve slowly (too slow, I might argue) been creating a Filipino soap opera -style novel, or novella. I’ve only been working on it for about a week but it’s been really fun and I love the twists and turns that I’ve come up with. I’m even debating on turning it into a serial to publish here on the site. Just a thought.

 

Short Story Collection

I have short stories and flash fiction pieces. I have a lot of them. I’ve been meaning to compile them into a collection for publication. The only problem is that… Well, what I really have are three different short story collections (if I categorize them by themes):

  1. Epistolary stories
  2. Lovecraftian stories
  3. Misc.

Yeah, okay, the last one isn’t really a theme. But I do have a handful of stories that don’t fit in either of the other formats. So there’s that.

 

Podcasts

I’ve been flip-flopping between creating a:

  1. Writing podcast called “Just Add Ninjas”. I even have the cover art ready. This would mostly a write-with-me style podcast where I would be working on a 70,000-word novel (or a collection of short stories). As I went through the process, I would do writing challenges and would encourage the listeners to write along with me.
  2. Introvert podcast. Or a Friend-cast? Or a …okay, the idea is that The Great Husbando, a rotating group of friends, and I would chat “with” the listeners (basically talking to the listeners like we’re friends) and do “friend-style” activities “with them”. Note all the quotation marks. It’s a rough idea to explain aloud but it works well in my head. I would record movie commentary (that could be played alongside a movie), we’d have book club episodes with children’s books, and we would otherwise chat and do other fun activities you normally do with IRL friends.

While I had already created the cover art for the writing podcast, I have created a trailer for the second option. I’ve also bought a couple of lav mics to use with our phones for either write-with-me episodes for “Just Add Ninjas” or for the movie commentary for the introvert podcast. I just don’t know which I’m more passionate about and which would help/entertain listeners more.

 

Pride Parade

I was happy to hear that (while a festival isn’t an option this year) pride events aren’t *fully* canceled here in our county. The local pride organization has set up a “vehicle” parade for the 18th. I’m super excited! I bought one of the “Pride Boxes” filled with memorabilia to proudly show our support for the community! A friend offered to pick me up but The Great Husbando said he wants to show his support too so we’ll happily meet our friends there. I want to create a couple banners or posters as well, to show my support for the LGBTQ+ POC community. In these crazy times, sharing our love for one another and spreading happiness is so important. We’re all human and we all deserve love and support. It shouldn’t matter what shade of beautiful your skin is or who you love. What matters is what’s in your heart and soul.

 

A Drink Recipe from the Two-Headed Calf:

Backstory: The Two-Headed Calf is the dry bar we inherited from The Great Husbando’s grandparents. While it’s not healthy to romanticize the “drunk writer” lifestyle of yore, it’s still fun to do. Not be a drunk. That’s not fun. But romanticizing your passion or career can be fun if no one is getting hurt. Besides, a little libation can (sometimes) get the words flowing when I find myself feeling hindered. Please drink responsibly.

 

The Moscow Mule Two-Headed Calf

 

The Great Husbando and I have been enjoying the heck out of good ol’ fashioned Moscow Mules lately. Of course, we don’t have those snazzy copper mugs to serve them in. Something to add to my birthday wishlist for next week, I guess.

 

What you’re going to need:

  • A shot and a half of vodka
  • A half of a lime
  • A cup of ice cubes
  • A half of a cup of ginger beer

What you’re going to do with those things:

  • Fill a chilled glass or a copper mug about halfway with ice
  • Pour in the vodka
  • Squeeze lime over the vodka and get as much of the juice out as you possibly can
  • Top with ginger beer (I recommend around three ounces of ginger beer)
  • You can optionally garnish with the lime wedge, some mint, or a ginger candy

Whoops. Time for the Lightening Round Update.

Hey, so it’s been a hot second. Instead of my normal, super-long blog post, I’m just going to update you lightening-round-style. Ready? OKAY! Let’s do this!

  1. I had to let my snails go back into the wild. But I was glad to have one of my best friends go out snail hunting with me. She was such a trooper, going out in the drizzle/rain and poking under pots at our local nursery. I’m glad to have been able to spend some time with her, even if I was unable to keep my little snail buddies.
  2. My plants have taken over the Molluskatonic University brownstone facade I made for my snails. So at least nothing is going to waste.
  3. STAR MOTHER bloomed! SHE WILL CONSUME THE WORLD!
  4. I.T. Friend and I are doing a, sort of, short story challenge where we send each other prompts each week and then send each other the completed short stories (12 pages max) each week.
  5. I’m still bad at roller skating cause I haven’t been practicing (due to a health issue). But I feel much better now so no excuses now.
  6. I will be starting a new podcast. It’s either going to be “The Introvert Friend Party” Podcast or “Just Add Ninjas” a writing podcast. That content will replace my long weekly blogs. Instead, I’ll just be posting the audio for the podcast. I often just drop projects but this time around, I’ve already bought some extra lav mics so… Money is now involved. Speaking of which…
  7. I was doing great with my “Not going to spend any extra money” in June until I bought the lav mics. In my defense, that has to do with a project and isn’t just, like, something I won’t use. Does that count? *sigh* I think I failed my June challenge.
  8. I think I have adult-onset ADHD which is one of the reasons why…
  9. I started a bujo again. YAY!
  10. I deleted the Facebook and Twitter apps off my phone and… It. Feels. Amazing.
  11. My July challenge is to successfully complete Camp NaNoWriMo and I am STOKED. It’s been a while since I was this excited about a NaNo event. Maybe it was because I was so drained last November. Maybe it’s because I feel like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders since I stepped down as ML.
  12. I got another succulent. Meet Lizzy.
  13. I got a promotion with one of my clients. That means I can focus on that I don’t have to look for supplementary contracts to pad my paydays. That also means I can really focus my spare time on my own personal writing/podcasting projects. WOOO!
  14. I’ve been spending a lot of time watching and attending AuthorTube Livestream write-ins lately and it’s really boosted my enthusiasm for writing.
  15. Finishing a short story for my critique group has also helped boost my enthusiasm.
  16. I got in a tiff with a local author on my FB about one of my FB posts. Oops.
  17. I’m really excited about my CAMP NANO PROJECT.

So much has happened in the two weeks between posts. With the new audio format for “blogging”, things are going to get shaken up here on the website.

 

In the meantime, be kind to each other and read up.

 

Hugs,

Joy

Creatives… Snails… Updates… Coffee Liquor…

The Bloggy Part:

Today I wanted to share some great POC creatives. Fair warning, I spend a lot of time on YouTube, so a lot of these creators are YouTubers. No shame, just letting you know ahead of time, where you will be spending too much of your time.

Kelly Stamps is a hilarious, straight-forward, tiramisu-loving YouTuber. I’m not just subscribed to her YouTube channel because of her sense-of-humor and her love for Law & Order SVU. I’m subscribed because her content feels genuine and she gives off this wonderfully confident and badass vibe that I admire. Her channel is mostly about her journey as a YouTuber, unique vlogs, travel videos, and inspirational videos where she talks about topics like self-care. I love her “Kelly’s Food Stamps” playlist. My favorite video is the one where she tries to make tiramisu. It was so honest. A lot of YouTubers just show their best takes in the kitchen (with a couple of bloopers at the end). You just have to watch it. I was rooting for her the whole time.

Tamara Woods is an Authortuber. On her channel, she talks about grammar, books, other writing topics, and #ProjectAuthortube. I have to gush her weekly write-ins. Virtual write-ins are my jam! I can write in my pajamas, listen to other writers talk about topics, and be productive all at the same time. Her write-ins are always super diverse, welcoming, and I love her energy.

It’s also through Tamara (and her write-ins) that I’ve found The Naked Firefly and KaShay Warren. All three of these wonderful ladies post writing content on a regular basis. I’m super new to subscribing to The Naked Firefly and KaShay so I can’t share too much. As far as I can tell TNF writes under the pseudonym Kierra L. Rose and has a debut novel coming out next month (how exciting!) and has write-ins every Friday morning. KaShay’s last live stream was a Self-Care Sunday Crochet chat. I absolutely LOVE that idea and I hope she does it often so I can join in. (SPOILER: she does Self-Care Sundays every week.)

I’m really new to roller skating and I don’t know much of the culture too much. I have followed a few skaters on Instagram, however:

Asia Eryan: @sk8galpozzi

Toni Nicole: @gr00vyquads

Missy Savage: @missysavage68

 

Something I’m OBSESSED About:

One word (kind of): SnailHaus.

The more formal moniker of this new development is named after the “Miskatonic University,” which exists only in H.P. Lovecraft’s fiction. Our snail habitat is called the Mollusk-atonic University Faculty Dorm.

This is just the facade of their habitat.
Their actual habitat has two floors (I don’t think I need to add a ramp (because snails), but we’ll see.
Here is one of mah widdle bebehs. I’ll take better pictures of all my little guys later.
Right now the Molluskatonic University Faculty Dorm sits on my desk. That little peek-a-boo snail is a clay one made by my friend, DeltaSierra. ISN’T IT THE CUTEST THING?!

Yes. That’s right. We now have snail tenants. Welcomed snail tenants, not the unwanted kind. I have given them the most prosperous, pretentious names I could think of. Since the cardboard facade I built (to go around their habitat) was meant to look like a brownstone, I decided our new tenants were going to be 3 Mollusk-atonic University professors living together:

  • Fredrick Teague SHELLby III, Professor of Archeology
  • Earnest DIGby Whitaker V, Professor of Art History
  • Ansley Margaux WHORLington IV, Water Polo Coach

I also have five teenie tiny Myosotella myosotis who are, of course, four Molluskatonic University students:

  • Charles
  • Dexter
  • Ward
  • Herbert
  • West

You might be thinking, “Joy. Isn’t this the hobby of a six-year-old?” And while you wouldn’t be wrong. You are… so very wrong. Apparently.

A few months ago, I happened upon one of those cute pictures of tiny snails doing adorable things in the wild by macro-photographer, Vyacheslav Mishchenko. I thought, “This must be why kids keep snails as pets.” And this thought kept nagging at me.

Why couldn’t I do it? Adults have all sorts of pets. I keep Teddy, Director of Human Resources as a pet, for goodness sakes. I should be able to keep a couple snails, if I want. It turns out, plenty of adults do this.

Most snail owners keep their mollusk friends in vivariums (an enclosed area, maintained to keep and raise plants and animals for observation). Though most of you might be thinking terrariums, which often have artificial elements for their residents. Then of course there is a paludarium which is a mixture of terrestrial and aquatic elements. Not to get confused with equilibrium which is both a state of rest of balance due to the equal action of opposing forces and a movie starring the great Sean Bean.

The difference between the six-year-old hobby of keeping snails in shoeboxes and my construction of the Mollusk-atonic University Faculty Dorm is the fact that I have put time and money into this and my parents won’t release my snails in the wild, under the cover of darkness, after they’ve grown tired of them.

 

30-Day Challenge Update:

Writing: I have been writing (and rewriting) scripts for the writing podcast I have been preparing for so I’ve been neglecting the whole “writing fiction” thing. In all honesty, that is really what I should be focusing on when it comes to writing every day. So from this point forward, I’m aiming to only count “narrative writing” for this challenge.

Skates: This last week, my time in skates has been a little sporadic. Between spending all of last Saturday with my in-laws and feeling under the weather on Tuesday, I’ve been slacking. But I still have 2/3 of the month left and I plan on spending the rest of it on wheels.

Spending: I’ve refrained from superfluously spending my money since May 31. Whoop whoop!

 

A Drink Recipe from the Two-Headed Calf:

Backstory: The Two-Headed Calf is the dry bar we inherited from The Great Husbando’s grandparents. While it’s not healthy to romanticize the “drunk writer” lifestyle of yore, it’s still fun to do. Not be a drunk. That’s not fun. But romanticizing your passion or career can be fun if no one is getting hurt. Besides, a little libation can (sometimes) get the words flowing when I find myself feeling hindered. Please drink responsibly.

 

“The Call of Kahlua”

 

I need a comfort drink. The world is on fire and I’m never uncomfortable anymore. When I’m craving a comfort drink, I don’t turn to hot toddies, I turn to my first go-to drink: Kahlua and Coke. I used to order these all the time because I could just drink them all night without having to worry about getting drunk. They’re sweet and satisfied my sweet tooth. Also coffee flavor. And caffeine from the soda. I mean, it has it all. Unless you want to get s***-faced. Then, you’ll want something a little stronger than these. Anyway, for our purposes, I’m calling this one: The Call of Kahlua.

 

What you’re going to need:

  • Two parts Kahlua (or your favorite coffee liqueur)
  • Three parts Coca Cola (or your favorite dark soda)

What you’re going to do with those things:

  • Fill a Collins glass halfway with ice.
  • Add Kahlua to the glass
  • Add soda to the glass
  • Gently stir
  • (Optional) Squirt in a splash of lime juice to top it off.
  • Drink responsibly. 
  • Educate yourself.
  • Get a snail.
  • Get your snail a snail friend cause they’re happier in groups.

I know I just posted yesterday. Today is something a little different. I still plan on highlighting some great P.O.C. artists during my Monday blog post next week but I wanted to share something else today. It comes too late and just couldn’t wait any longer.

If you’re looking to do something for the Black Lives Matter Movement and can’t go to a protest or don’t have the extra funds to spare, please look into signing some of these petitions. Read the story, sign the petitions, share the links, donate if you can.

Justice for George Floyd

Justice for Ahmaud Arbery- Pass Georgia Hate Crime Bill

Fight for Breonna

Mandatory Life Sentence for Police Brutality

Investigate the killing of Tamir Rice

Reopen Kendrick Johnson’s Case

Justice for Regis Korchinski-Paquet

Find more petitions here.

In yesterday’s post, I said the smallest of things. It was even as PC as I could make it and that was wrong of me. I was afraid of saying something offensive since I’m filipina and not black. I didn’t want to make it about myself. I didn’t want to accidentally say something that would make it worse. But then, as I watched a video put up by one of my favorite Authortubers, I thought, “Why didn’t I say it?”

There are so many things that I want to say. About how the word “unfair” doesn’t even begin to explain the centuries of discrimination and racism against black people in this country and in other countries as well. No, I can’t understand what that level of racism might feel like, but I am trying to educate myself. I’m trying to learn about what I can do. Even if I can’t make a huge difference, trying to live an honest anti-racist life is the least I can do. I urge you to do the same by:

  • looking into where your money goes
  • not turning a blind eye to the racism around us
  • reading up on the issues

Stay safe.

Stay educated.

Love one another.

Words… Wheels… Mail… Whiskey

The Bloggy Part:

So my new story has a bit of a backstory. We’re going to hop into the Wayback machine for just a quick jaunt. Poplar Cove: The Podcast was written after a good friend suggested that we write stories that mash-up two opposing genres. I chose Lovecraftian and Soap Opera. I loved how much I could toy with the different elements of each genre. I toyed with the stereotypes and got to see how they worked together.

For this story, I wanted to try something similar so I’ve mixed up workplace drama with Lovecraftian-slasher-horror. Yes, those are probably three separate genres but… eh.

In other news, the world is an absolute dumpster fire. Seattle is a violent mess. People in Forks are being discriminated against by chainsaw-wielding, gun-toting racists (I’m not even being facetious right now). I’ve been trying to do what I can at home. I’m not going to bore you with what I’ve been doing (cause I don’t want this to be about me patting myself on the back) but I do want to share one tiny aspect: I’ve started actively looking for awesome African American artists, writers, and skaters to follow.

What I have realized, when looking at my various social media feeds, is that (other than my friends and family), most of the people I follow were just Caucasian. In addition to the wonderful people I already follow and admire, I’ve been looking for amazing POC creatives. Mostly African American and Filipinas. Hopefully, next week I can compile a list of all the wonderful new people I’m following and supporting!

 

Something I’m OBSESSED About:

I love my skates so much. Yes, I still wobble like Bambi on ice but I’m getting better.

After I’ve been upright for a few minutes, I get out of my head (or lazier, thus less tense) and I start to get the hang of it. It is a careful balance of “my feet don’t know what’s going on” and “my feet are too tired to care.”

Some ankle support and pads, just in case.
My pretty blue helmet and inline skates
I put a white toe-cap on my white quad-skates and changed the light blue laces (which matched the wheels) to the pretty purple-teal ones I had bought from Derby Laces.

30-Day Challenge Update:

I’ve been writing every day, which is great, except that it’s only been a week so… nothing too exciting. But it is nice to get back into the swing of things.

I’ve also been in skates every day so far, despite the fact that I can only really skate 20 feet at a time on the Pergo. Baby steps… Er, baby gliding-across-slick-floors.

I have also not spent any money, which has been difficult since there are beautiful wheels, laces, and other accessories I would love to buy for both my inline skates and my quad skates. There is also… Well, that story is for a different day. Specifically, next week’s edition of “Things I’m OBSESSED With”. What I will say is that this project has been a bit more difficult now that I can’t buy anything. However, I binge-bought a number of things at the end of May so items have slowly been trickling in.

 

A Drink Recipe from the Two-Headed Calf:

Backstory: The Two-Headed Calf is the dry bar we inherited from The Great Husbando’s grandparents. While it’s not healthy to romanticize the “drunk writer” lifestyle of yore, it’s still fun to do. Not be a drunk. That’s not fun. But romanticizing your passion or career can be fun if no one is getting hurt. Besides, a little libation can (sometimes) get the words flowing when I find myself feeling hindered. Please drink responsibly.

 

“Whiskey in the Darkness”

Let’s be honest. This is just a Jack and Coke with a Lovecraftian name, but who doesn’t love a classic drink with a surprise ending that may or may not have metal cylinders in the dark that may or may not contain [CENSORED FOR SPOILERS] in them. Have a “Whiskey in the Darkness” and listen to “Whisperer in the Darkness” as read by HorrorDrabble.

 

What you’re going to need:

  • Two shots of Jack Daniels (or your favorite whiskey)
  • Ten ounces of Coca Cola (or your favorite dark soda — I also like whiskey with Dr Pepper)

What you’re going to do with those things:

  • Fill a collins glass, halfway with ice
  • Pour in the soda and the whiskey
  • Stir
  • Enjoy responsibly
  • Don’t mess with aliens.

Cubicle… Crate… New… Yellow…

*I’m not affiliated or working with this company or any other company in this post.

The Bloggy Part: 

The DeVore Business and Industrial Park has been thriving in these last few weeks. The Great Husbando has been working as a trainer for a new set of cubicle drones. I’m not using this phrase in a malicious manner. Actually, I often romanticize certain things because I watch too much TV. “Cubicles” are one of these things. Since I don’t work a 9-to-5, the idea of working in one intrigues me.

You have your own space while also working with others? Fantastic!

You can put hilarious passive-aggressive notes on your cubicle wall when you don’t want to see others? Sarcasm at its finest!

You can decorate your space to show off your personality? How creative!

When you get lonely, you can poke your head into other cubicles, then run to your own when you don’t want to see people? That’s the right amount of “social” for me!

Of course, this is coming from someone who doesn’t have to deal with the fishy-smelling microwave, burnt popcorn smell from the hallway, mandatory-yet-pointless meetings, and the actual 9-to-5 work. My enthusiasm is probably misdirected.

 

Something I’m OBSESSED With:

Storytime! Okay, so I’m going to try my best not to spoil the riddles of the parcel I received from The Mysterious Package Company.* Instead, I will omit the contents of the package, while still telling you the sweet, sweet story behind it.

A couple weeks ago, I mentioned it was my five-year anniversary with The Great Husbando. Our actual anniversary was a roller coaster of emotions. Sadness (when we found out our friend had passed away), happiness (at being together for over a decade and married for five), and fear. A surprising amount of fear.

Both of us had to work that Friday but I finished my workday early. I was nearly snoozing on the couch when we heard someone on the front porch. The creaky steps. The thud of a package. The knock on the door. Then more creaky steps as the person walked away.

I pondered over what embarrassing 3AM Amazon purchase had suddenly arrived on my doorstep.

The Great Husbando wondered also. He opened the door and brought in a heavy cardboard box with my name on it. I looked up at him with wide eyes.

“Nope,” he said. “I didn’t get it for you.”

He placed the box in front of me. Other than my name and address, it was unmarked. So I opened it, only to see a [REDACTED] sitting on top of a wooden crate. The [REDACTED] looked [REDACTED] and it read [REDACTED]. Mysterious, no?

Excited, I tried to open the crate but found it nailed shut. It was actually nailed shut.

With actual nails.

We tore through the garage to look for a crowbar. When we finally got it open, There were a number of things inside including a [REDACTED], a [REDACTED], and a [REDACTED] holding a [REDACTED] [REDACTED] [REDACTED] [REDACTED] [REDACTED]. My hands were shaking.

I read the [REDACTED] out loud. Halfway through the [REDACTED], The Great Husbando actually got up and waved his hands around while chiding me. “WHY ARE YOU READING IT OUT LOUD? YOU’VE SEEN HORROR MOVIES? WE’RE ALL GOING TO DIE!”

But, I mean, I had already started so…

I finished reading the [REDACTED] out loud and continued to paw through the [REDACTED] [REDACTED] [REDACTED]. Then, underneath it… Would it be cliche to say that the [REDACTED] was indescribable? Maybe that’s why Lovecraft “described” his gods and monsters as such–because he had received crates from the Mysterious Package Company and didn’t want to spoil the surprise for his readers.

Seriously, the amount of detail in the experience and the actual items in the package are amazing. If your family or friends aren’t much for horror, they have other themes as well. Highly recommend. 10/10 would scare again.

So now the [REDACTED] sits on my desk alongside the wooden crate, which I love because it fits the aesthetic of my office. I even have my Miskatonic University class ring sitting on it, as well as my Cthulhu pendant. Before I die, I want to bury everything in a metal tin (or something) so archeologists in the future can dig it all up and my ghost can laugh and laugh as I watch them try to figure out the puzzle.

I digress. Honestly, I think part of the fun was seeing The Great Husbando’s reaction to the whole thing. I’m sure my reaction was interesting too but the look on his face… Hahaha!

I was convinced he bought it for me but he adamantly denied it. “I wish I could take credit for this.”

I messaged a number of friends to figure out who had done this wonderful deed. I even gave some of my friends on Discord a live unboxing (snapping pictures as I went along since I had no idea what was going on).

It turns out that it was sent to us by the voice actor behind the voice of Elizabeth Cushing-Birch on Poplar Cove. She messaged me later in the day, asking me if I had “checked the mail lately.” She had ordered the packages weeks in advance and it was just a coincidence that it arrived on our actual anniversary. Coincidence? Fate? Conspiracy? A message from the gods? Tomato, tom-Ahhhhhh!-to.

 

30-Day Challenge Update:

It’s June which means that I have a new 30-day challenge for this month. This time around, I have two things I want to focus on. Both of these things require that I set up some healthy habits:

  • a writing habit (write every day)
  • a physical activity habit (where I do something active every day)

That doesn’t sound so bad, right?

For my writing goal, I want to work on a new story. I really wanted to do my Lovecraftian cozy mystery but that story is tied to some negative emotions. Every time I sat down to write last week I froze. Maybe I’m not ready to pick it up yet? So… What am I ready for?

I guess it’s time for a new project, eh?

More about that next week. This post is long enough as it is.

Secondly, I received my skates in the mail (along with neoprene ankle supports and a pack of cushions/pads/arch support socks, just in case) so my physical activity habit is mainly going to focus around skating. Skate each day (quad or inline), at least a half an hour each day. That might mean that I just roll around on the carpet or Pergo. Or maybe I can be brave and unabashed and go… out… side… Heh. Crazy talk. (Even though our county is technically in Phase 2 now, so I might be about to go out with a friend.)

Oh, and I want to also tack on: No spending money frivolously in June. That’ll be a good habit to reintroduce my wallet to.

 

A Drink Recipe from The Two-Headed Calf:

Backstory: The Two-Headed Calf is the dry bar we inherited from The Great Husbando’s grandparents. While it’s not healthy to romanticize the “drunk writer” lifestyle of yore, it’s still fun to do. Not be a drunk. That’s not fun. But romanticizing your passion or career can be fun if no one is getting hurt. Besides, a little libation can (sometimes) get the words flowing when I find myself feeling hindered. Please drink responsibly.

 

“The Kamakaze in Yellow”

In celebration of the mysterious package I received in the mail, today’s drink is called, “The Kamakaze in Yellow.” So you can probably tell that the theme for my particular package was “The King in Yellow”. While they no longer have this particular package for sale, they do have some other ones available.

What you’re going to need:

  • 3/4 of a shot of lime juice
  • 3/4 of a shot of triple sec
  • A shot and a half of vodka
  • Some ice
  • A lime wedge

What you’re going to do with those things:

  • In a shaker, combine all of the liquid ingredients. 
  • Add ice.
  • Shake.
  • Strain into a rocks glass and garnish with the lime wedge.
  • Enjoy while reading The King in Yellow by R. W. Chambers. (optional)
  • Slowly go insane. (optional)
  • [REDACTED] (optional)

Raise… Writing… King… Apple…

*I’m not sponsored by the CBC Writing Workout or any other links.

The Bloggy Part:

I officially resigned from NaNoWriMo as the municipal liaison for my region. I loved doing it and still intend on participating in the events every year.  It’s run by some great people and I love the organization. However, I had been pondering this decision for the past couple years. I was getting tired and my projects every year were feeling a bit lackluster (despite the word count). It seemed like the right time. I didn’t know how much of a difference I was making in my region and (as hard as I worked last year), there wasn’t a huge turnout at each of the events. Perhaps my region needs a new face. After all, I have been the ML for eight years already.

This year has felt like a turning point in my writing career. I realized that I had been in this profession for nearly ten years and because of that, I raised my rates for the first time. It was a frightening thing for me to do but it was the right thing because:

  • My time and expertise are worth it
  • I need to take my job seriously
  • It’s time to grow up and not think like an entry-level writer anymore

With this increase in price, I also intend on working harder on honing my craft. Writers should always be working on their skills and reading about industry standards and techniques. I also intend on focusing on my own fiction more this year. My own fiction goals are to:

  • Finish writing and editing a novel-length piece
  • Begin publishing a piece of serialized fiction for my website (this website)
  • [insert another goal here]

My list of goals is a work in progress.

 

Something I’m OBSESSED About:

I don’t spend a lot of time on Twitter. However, I have been trying to post regularly. I’ve rejoined the #5AMWritersClub try to make an appearance in the morning as often as I can. The goal is 5 days a week, so I can work on my own fiction before I have to work on other people’s fiction.

One of my favorite things about Twitter is the writing community. A few weeks ago, after I posted about being in a writing rut, a fellow member of the #5AMWritersClub replied with:

Writing workout? It piqued my curiosity. Upon researching it a bit, I was so happy to have found it.* The Curtis Brown Creative website is a wonderful resource for writers and their Weekly Writing Workout is a helpful, free resource. You do have to send them your email address in order to gain access to their four-week writing course. They emphasize that it’s not a creative writing course. It’s a writing course, to help get your pen moving and your fingers doing that… tappity-tap-tap thing.

I’ve also rediscovered Brendan Sanderson’s BYU lecture on YouTube. When I first discovered it, I made it through a few of the videos before I was promptly distracted by something shiny. This time, though, I intend on watching all of them and applying the information in these videos to one of two unfinished projects:

  1. Lovecraftian Cozy Mystery
  2. Culty Soap Opera

Spoiler alert: I chose the Lovecraftian cozy mystery. I’ve since started the rewrite of the story outline. It looks a little like this:

You can’t see the red string leading from one plot point to another, but it’s there. Because it’s Lovecraftian as well as a cozy mystery, I’m debating on whether I should be wearing a fedora or a tinfoil hat with my tan trenchcoat. Maybe I should just make a fedora out of foil…

 

30-Day Challenge Update:

Books are definitely a thing I should pay more attention to. With my sudden craving for more writerly advice and knowledge, it might be the perfect time to pick up either On Writing by Stephen King or The Productive Writer: Strategies and Systems for Greater Productivity, Profit and Pleasure by Sage Cohen. I’ve read both of these already but they’re both worth a reread.

I’m also looking for some suggestions for cozy mysteries. I’ve been reading M.C. Beaton’s Agatha Raisin series and loving it, but I should branch out.

 

A Drink Recipe from The Two-Headed Calf:

Backstory: The Two-Headed Calf is the dry bar we inherited from The Great Husbando’s grandparents. While it’s not healthy to romanticize the “drunk writer” lifestyle of yore, it’s still fun to do. Not be a drunk. That’s not fun. But romanticizing your passion or career can be fun if no one is getting hurt. Besides, a little libation can (sometimes) get the words flowing when I find myself feeling hindered. Please drink responsibly.

 

“Apple-thoth”

This week, I’ve got my own twist on an apple martini. I call it the Apple-Thoth. Because Azathoth, but really, it just sounds like you’re trying to say “applesauce” after you’ve had one too many apple martinis. When you’re making this, remember that each brand of green apple schnapps taste different. Some are more tart, others are sweeter. Because of that, you’ll need to adjust the level of lemon juice accordingly. That’s one of the reasons why I suggest starting off with a splash first. You can always add more lemon juice but when you have too much lemon juice, well you can’t take that away. The pucker power can be intense. Yes, I’m writing this from experience.

What you’re going to need:

  • Two shots of your favorite vodka
  • A shot and a half of green apple schnapps
  • A splash of lemon juice

What you’re going to do with those things:

  • Fill a shaker halfway, with ice.
  • Add all of the ingredients and shake 
  • Strain into a chilled cocktail glass

 

Until next time

Joy

Hardcopy… Moneys… Yoga Mats… Gin…

The Bloggy Part:

I’ve been in a bit of a creative rut lately. That is, until I was chatting with Dark Overlord the other day. During the course of the conversation, two great flash fiction prompts presented itself like peacocks at the peak of mating season.

Feathers out, strutting their stuff.

“Look at me!”

“Tell me I’m pretty!”

Yes, they were pretty. No, I didn’t write them.

They’re still sitting in front of me, written on a couple of sticky notes. I don’t know if I’m still scared to write or if all of my emotions are still busy scrubbing me clean of any motivation but… There they sit. Waiting.

At the end of March/beginning of April, I went through a difficult time. I had a bad experience with someone concerning things not said (specifically “things not done”). It took me a while, but I think I’m over both the pain and have moved on. Looking back on the experience now, I suppose I should have learned a lesson or two from it:

  • (Cynical Lesson) Don’t trust people. Only dogs. Dogs are the only living things worth my trust (in addition to The Great Husbando).
  • (Real Lesson) I wasn’t yet ready and my lack of determination and professionalism about the experience led me to get hurt. Instead, I need to rely on people who are more serious about the matter and who take writing seriously.
  • (Something Else) I reach out for writing buddies regularly when I feel lonely and need motivation but what I really need to do is focus on writing.

With those lessons in mind, I’ve once again joined the #5AMWritersClub on Twitter. Yes, I originally joined to just meet other writers. I’ve joined again for a different reason. In the course of my early morning writing sessions, I’ve learned I am more creative in the morning.

Getting up at 5AM made me realize schedules are what keep me functioning when I’m awake. Schedules and coffee. During these last few weeks, there were a few things which may have added to my creative rut:

  • I wasn’t keeping to any sort of routine or schedule.
  • I wasn’t talking to anyone other than Husbando, especially about writing topics.
  • I rely too much on “hoping my writing friends will ask me about my writing” instead of motivating myself and just writing already.
  • I no longer turn in work to my Saturday morning critique group since we’re not meeting during the lockdown.
  • Not writing has made me miserable.

At the height of my productivity (when I pumped out short stories every week) I meticulously micromanaged my routine. That’s one of the reasons why I loved keeping a Passion Planner. I made sure every hour between 5AM and 11PM were accounted for. It feels a bit over-the-top to think about it now, but it helped me see how I spent my time.

My current hardcopy calendar won’t allow for that. Don’t get me wrong. I love my “Get it Together” planner from Sarah’s Scribbles. I might just use a different system next year.

 

Something I’m OBSESSED With:

The Great Husbando and I have recently found the joys of grocery delivery. I know we’re a little late to hop on this train but we’re here none-the-less, huffing and puffing at the back of the train cause we had to chase it down.

In one day, we ordered from Safeway and Total Wine (because we were surprised to see it as an option). Three hours later, lo and behold, there was a knock on our door. Fresh vegetables! What was this madness? Then, another hour later, a cardboard box filled with booze showed up. Why? So we could:

  1. Test out the InstaCart app’s Total Wine delivery.
  2. Make sure our bar is totally packed for the end of lockdown and we can (once again) have people over.

So The Two-Headed Calf is now stocked with vanilla vodka, Midori, and a couple more bottles of specialty booze we won’t drink often. Other than the judgemental look from the delivery guy when he dropped off the booze, it was a pretty pleasant experience!

In the midst of all the chaos and COVID madness, a Sprouts opened up nearby. I’d never been to one and I figured I could give it a go. After a couple tappy-tap-taps on my phone, a stranger came to our door. She dropped off bags that had things which said “Organic,” and “Gluten Free,” and “Coffee,” and “Kale” on them. It was glorious.

Anyway. I now had kale chips without having to make the entire house smell like a broccoli’s butthole. I had healthy snacks… which were actually healthy. This must be the height of luxury.

Honestly, though, I’ve been doing a lot of retail therapy for the past couple weeks and I should stop. I know it’s not sustainable, nor is it a healthy form of stress-relief. I am trying to at least keep my purchases to:

  • Things which will benefit the household (kitchen supplies, plants which clean the air),
  • Things which will save us money in the long run (I bought reusable boba straws so I can start making boba at home instead of going out and buying some each week),
  • Things which are good for my health (inline skates, quad skates, skating accessories, and bandages/ankle wraps–just in case)

The only exception to this rule are the doggy neckties I bought for the Director of HR. Necessity.

 

30-Day Challenge Update:

I’ve been listening to audiobooks while I do core exercises. I would like to develop a core muscle. Just one. That would be great. Hopefully, this will help me stay upright when I finally get to go out and practice skating on concrete.

Did you know I have a yoga mat? No? Me too. It was sitting in my closet, patiently waiting for me like Jim, patiently waiting for Pam until he didn’t want to wait any longer. Then my yoga mat will follow me to a gas station in the rain where it will ask me to marry it. I will say no because my yoga mat is not Jim. Also because I’m already married.

 

A Drink Recipe from The Two-Headed Calf:

Backstory: The Two-Headed Calf is the dry bar we inherited from The Great Husbando’s grandparents. While it’s not healthy to romanticize the “drunk writer” lifestyle of yore, it’s still fun to do. Not be a drunk. That’s not fun. But romanticizing your passion or career can be fun if no one is getting hurt. Besides, a little libation can (sometimes) get the words flowing when I find myself feeling hindered.

 

“The Gin on the Doorstep”

Yes, this is another gin drink. I’m sorry if you don’t like gin.

A couple of weeks ago, I messed with/butchered/altered a few cocktail recipes and Lovecraftian-ized them for Husbando and my five year wedding anniversary. Because of lockdown, we weren’t able to go out and travel like we normally do. Instead, my goal was to bring exotic locations to us.

Then tragedy struck. We lost one of our dear friends. We’re still reeling from it.

While the original plan was to “spend one day” in Japan, one in the Philippines, and one in R’lyeh, my energy level was depleted from all of my crying. So, I just put the effort into one place: R’lyeh.

I decorated with paper lanterns and set up marine animals everywhere.

Of course, there were ingredients for drinks at the bar, including these “cultist sacrifices.”

I inflated the air mattress and set our picnic blanket on it for comfy movie-watching. It was approved by the director of HR.

I made a YouTube playlist with some ocean and marine life ambiance.

I also set up Elder Sign: Omen from the Deep at the kitchen table, and wrote up specialized drinks for The Two-Headed Calf (temporarily renamed The Cth-hula Tiki Bar and Lounge). The Gin on the Doorstep was one of those but wasn’t Husbando’s favorite. I thought it was pretty okay. Try it if you’re adventurous.

What you’ll need:

  • Two shots of gin
  • One shot of lemon juice
  • Four shots of root beer
  • A teaspoon of simple syrup
  • A jar of maraschino cherries 

What you’re going to do with those things:

  • Shake everything (except the root beer) until chilled
  • Half-fill a collins glass with ice
  • Strain over the ice. 
  • Top with the root beer
  • Garnish with a maraschino cherry or fifty. Because cherries.

 

Shopping… Wheels… Audiobooks… Gin…

The Bloggy Part:

This morning I found myself thinking, “When I look back on 2020 and the pandemic, what sorts of things will I remember about this experience?”

  1. I’ve found comfort in plants and online shopping carts.
  2. We now get our groceries delivered to us like we are pharaohs. (Now to find someone to feed me grapes.)
  3. I never know what day it is. Or what time.
  4. Every day is an emotional rollercoaster, dipping down into loneliness and then back up to bursts of creative inspiration.
  5. SGN is my favorite news source.
  6. I snack too much and now I need to discover the joys of healthy snacks.
  7. We have stocked the bar and have rediscovered Elder Sign and can’t wait to hang out with friends agai–OH WAIT.
  8. Sarcasm and tone-of-voice are hard to read when you’re texting someone who doesn’t normally text you.
  9. Actively avoiding watching too much TV is much more difficult when you add another TV to a small townhouse.
  10. I like lists with nice round numbers.

 

Something I’m OBSESSED With:

One of my good friends started sending me snaps of ADORABLE rollerskates because she was thinking of buying herself a pair. Since then, she’s asked me about going out and skating together after the quarantine is over. My sense of balance is horrible and I’ve never successfully roller-anything-ed, which means I answered her with a resounding, “YES THIS IS A WONDERFUL IDEA!” Thus, we both ordered adorable death-wheels online. She got the idea off of cute Tik-Toks and (I think) wants to make her own as well. Meanwhile, all I can think about is going to see a roller derby match. Also, buying cute band-aids for my knees. ‘Cause I will need them.

My skates should look similar to these.

Being the impatient person I am, I ordered a pair of skates online but soon found out they are on backorder and I wouldn’t get them until late May. This would not do. Especially because The Great Husbando wanted to get some rollerblades as well. I did the responsible, adult thing, and shopped for rollerblades with him. Now I have a pair of blades now and have quad-skates coming in… later? They’re not in stock yet so who knows.

These have a surprising new use as well. A couple days ago, I found myself at a place where I was having trouble focusing on work. Instead of sitting in my office chair like a responsible adult, I found myself running around the house trying to finish some (albeit much needed) housework. So, I sat in my chair, strapped myself into my blades, and was trapped in them. This was under the guise I wouldn’t be able to get up and go downstairs without falling over. And it worked! Kind of.

Since then, I’ve been rolling my way around the (carpeted) upstairs of our home with ease. The Pergo laminate flooring downstairs is a different story. Much like Mario Bros, the smooth, slick underground level is much more difficult than it is here in the carpeted topside world. You see, down in the depths of the first floor, there are plenty of sharp corners and I have yet to get elbow, knee, or wrist guards. What can I say? I’m a fragile, delicate human with the stability and muscle strength of cooked pasta.

 

30-Day Challenge Update:

I am reading and listening my way through my TBR list but I still need to curb my TV-watching habits. It’s a work in progress.

 

A Drink Recipe from The Two-Headed Calf:

Backstory: The Two-Headed Calf is the dry bar we inherited from The Great Husbando’s grandparents. While it’s not healthy to romanticize the “drunk writer” lifestyle of yore, it’s still fun to do. Not be a drunk. That’s not fun. But romanticizing your passion or career can be fun if no one is getting hurt. Besides, a little libation can (sometimes) get the words flowing when I find myself feeling hindered.

 

“Gin and Tonic”

I didn’t think I used to be a fan of gin until one of our friends mixed up my first gin and tonic. Since then, this has become one of my go-to drinks when it’s warm out or if I want something refreshing and cool. He had the heart and the cooking prowess of an Asian mom, however, and concocted the recipe “by taste.” With no actual recipe, I’ve had to fiddle with a few of the generic recipes a bit. As far as I can tell, this is as close as I can get to what he served us.

Things you’ll need: 

  • A couple of fresh mint leaves
  • A couple of lime slices
  • A couple of medium-sized ice cubes or one large ice cube
  • One ounce of gin
  • Four ounces of tonic water

What to do with those things:

  • Muddle the mint leaves and one of the lime slices in a collins glass.
  • Add the ice cubes and the gin. 
  • Add the tonic water.
  • Stir.
  • Squeeze the last lime slice into the glass.
  • Swipe the fruit around the rim of the glass and then drop it in as a garnish.
  • You can also garnish with more mint leaves. If you squeeze or pinch the mint leaves, you’ll be able to get a whiff of the mint essential oils while you drink.
  • Enjoy responsibly with a couple of cocktail straws. Unless you have a penchant for chewing on small mint fragments.