Midnight Murders in the Building

I love being able to watch a new show and feel inspired to write. Not necessarily inspired to write something similar to the show. Just something. Create something. When there’s a show that is so creative and so inspired and it forces me to go, “Why didn’t I think of that?!”

That is the best feeling.

This past week, I finished watching both Midnight Mass and Only Murders in the Building. I loved both and they both left me with that same feeling. If you feel like something incredibly atmospheric, thought-provoking, and dark, I highly suggest Midnight Mass. If you love true crime podcasts, watching things a little off-beat, and feel like you want to be a part of something bigger, I suggest Only Murders in the Building.

Only Murders in the Building made me feel pangs in my heart, I didn’t realize were there. I think the line I want to eventually speak (even now) is “It’s been the most alive I’ve felt in a decade.” I don’t want to sound morose. I’m complacent but not unhappy. I’m finding ways to try new things. I do feel alive. But I know that I will eventually fall into another rut. And I hope that I happen upon something that makes that line ring true for me too.

Aaaanyway, I hope you find something that makes you feel that inspired as well. So it’s back to the word mines for me. It’s a little early for Preptober, but I’m really excited for NaNoWriMo this year. I hope I can come up with something amazing.

Love,

J.

Routine is a Drill Instructor

I like routines. I like spontaneity. I like fingerless gloves. I like old dime store novels. I like–Oh wait, there was a point to this. Routines are something I need to establish in order to be more productive. Because in order to knock out a few of those bucket list items, I need to be able to produce results.

*smacks desk to show I mean business*

Remember a couple weeks ago when I said, “This is not a vow“? This isn’t one of those either. Instead, consider this a letter of intent… which sounds much more ominous than I planned. Each week, I want to:

  • Publish a blog post
  • Publish a vlog
  • Have takeout without feeling guilty
  • Spend an entire day reading books
  • Finish a short story
  • Adopt a dog
  • Maybe sometimes publish one of those short stories here on my website

Now, I won’t be able to do all of those things, but I’d love to do at least two of those each week. I’d love to publish either one vlog or one blog each week, for example.

This is when my Passion Planner Daily will come in handy. I’ve been spending the last quarter getting used to it and trying to find my own system.

Tomorrow is October. It is a glorious time where I don’t have to feel guilty about doing all things Halloween. It’s also the start of a new month, which means a new 30-Day Challenge. Now, I’ve been spending most of September thinking about what to do for October. In addition to it being Preptober (the month before National Novel Writing Month, which is dedicated to planning out your NaNoWriMo project), it will also be my month to:

“spend 30 days stepping away from toxic relationships”

Why not spend my favorite season surrounding myself with positivity and people who make me happy? Instead of being around people who make me feel bad about myself, due to some misplaced sense of (blind) loyalty?

I’ve been feeling a little lonely lately and I think it’s because I am waiting for and watching toxic friends instead of focusing on myself and on the other healthier friendships in my life.

I do want to note that while I’m stepping away from these relationships, I’m not cutting ties fully. From past experience, I know that each relationship has its boundaries. Sometimes, depending on those relationships, the boundaries change. I just need to find where the boundaries of these relationships are. That’s not usually difficult but, when those boundaries shift a significant amount, it can be much harder and take more of an emotional toll. So that’s where I am now.

Since I’ve already come to terms with this, I feel like October should be easy on me. This initial realization (which happened about mid-July) was heartbreaking. But such is life.

In addition to the 30-Day challenge, it’s a new quarter which means new quarterly goals! I’m currently finalizing those so more on that later.

TL;DR – October 30-Day Challenge is to shoo away toxic relationships. Routines are hard but I have my-

-handy dandy Passion Planner Daily. Also, Q4 goals!

Hugs!

J.

Old Filipina Woman: Level One

I have begun my transformation into my final form. It’s not quite as majestic as, say, Sailor Moon.

Believe me, I wish it was. The process has started, however. It began with the blazer. I wanted it to say, “I am a grown-up writer. Look at me! I have stuff to say!” But instead, it says, “I am a grow-up Filipina woman who may or may not be a stockbroker in the day. And at night, I just change from slacks to jeans to show you that I am one of the regular folk.”

Now, that doesn’t seem bad, does it? But with the addition of my new affinity for glasses chains, well. I am at Old Filipina Woman: Level One. I heard the level up noise in the distance.

I’m not going to lie, I love those chains. In my defense, they don’t have big gaudy beads and baubles on them. Right now, they’re just thin chains (yes, I have multiple), with a few minimalist beads or charms on them. And yes, I made them myself. My current fave is my autumn chain. Rose gold with four maple leaves of various autumnal colors: red, brown, yellow, and orange.

You may be wondering, “Gee, Joy. What exactly are the levels of old Filipina woman?” I’m glad you asked.

Level One: Attire screams ‘Business savvy.’ Stern demeanor? Maybe, but not necessary. Round cheeks and cherubic face? Yes.

Level Two: Attire screams ‘Business professional.’ Stern demeanor? Yes. Round cheeks and cherubic face? Yes.

Level Three: Attire screams ‘I own my business. Look at all of my gaudy bling.’ Stern demeanor? Yes. Round cheeks and cherubic face? Yes.

Level Four: Attire screams ‘I have passed down my business to my children. All of my outfits are coordinated in the colors of the Filipino flag.’ Stern demeanor? Yes. Round cheeks and cherubic face? Yes.

Level Five: Attire screams ‘I walk around the neighborhood each morning in yellow slickers and a matching rain hat or in a track suit.’ Stern demeanor? Not necessarily. Round cheeks and cherubic face? Yes, but wrinkled.

Anyway, time to shop for rain slickers.

Hugs!

J.

Buckets for Words

When it rains, it pours… blog posts edition.

You’ll have to bear with me as I flood my website with blog posts. I have a lot of stories to share. After all, before this week, it had been a year since my previous post.

For example, there was that time that I accidentally bought single-ply toilet paper for the house and the bathroom experience was the most depressing thing for nearly an entire week, before I could no longer stand it. So now we have a whole bag full of single-ply toilet paper just sitting in the cabinet. Of course, I have since picked up the hobby of papermaking. The thought of using the single-ply to make paper, and then binding said paper into a guest book for the bathroom, had crossed my mind. But then we saw a bathroom guest book at Cost Plus World Market, and it was much prettier than anything I could have made. So here we are. With a bathroom full of single ply paper and a guest book for you to record your pooping experience in.

Then there was the time that I hired Fabio to work our dry bar and now he just spends all his time there. It’s like we can’t get rid of him. Not that we want to; he’s part of our family now.

Also, Cornelius Bones.

Yes, our family has grown quite a bit since I stopped posting regularly. But this post isn’t about any of those things. Those stories are for a different time.

Anyway.

The other night I was pondering my existence (as one does) and I was suddenly reminded of my bucket list. I hadn’t thought about that list in so long. Since then my goals and dreams have changed. So I started a new list from scratch. It has the typical “skydiving” entries but also:

  • Host a monthly poker night with friends
  • Cross country train trip with Husbando
  • Midnight picnic to look for UFOs
  • An entire section devoted to 30 Day challenges
  • Get my private investigator license

…just to name a few.

However, the portion I want to talk about today is the writing section. I have accomplished some of the things on the list already. I’ve done the spoken word poetry thing. I’ve published short stories in magazines. I’ve written and published an audio drama. There’s so much more I’d love to accomplish, though:

  • Compile and publish a book of short fiction
  • Publish novels in the weird fiction genre
  • Write a mystery
  • Write a book of personal essays
  • Write a book about creativity or writing (in hopes that it will inspire someone)
  • Write an over-the-top satirical trashy romance novel
  • Get published in The New Yorker

And that’s only a third of what’s on the list. I know I just have to work at it, one story at a time. There is one thing on the list. It’s far-fetched. Quite the pipe dream. But why not have a pipe dream?

  • Have a writing career which will pay for our lifestyle, so Husbando no longer has to work, and I can spend my time writing novels.

It’s been done before. Not by amateurs, but by people who know what they’re doing. People who hone their skills. People who live and breathe the written word. I want to be one of those. One of the chosen.

What about you? What are your writing goals? What sorts of things are on your bucket list? Would you like to purchase a basket full of single-ply toilet paper?

Hugs,

J.

I bought a blazer.

On a scale of “pajama pants at noon” to “owning a blazer,” how adult are you?

I’m at a solid five since I am currently wearing pajama pants at noon but I also just got a blazer in the mail. My very first blazer. Like a freakin’ grown up. Now all I need is a pair of (non-pajama) plaid pants and I’ll be set. Yes, this comes with a story.

The other day, I was talking with a few writery friends about what an author’s uniform would look like. We looked up a number of “author lookbooks” and I noticed that the one thing they had in common was… plaid pants. Is that the equivalent of a badge? Maybe the pattern or color depicts what type of writer you are. Does the red/black plaid mean you write horror? And the beige/black say you’re a literary writer? But then I thought, What kind would I wear?

Why… these, of course:

But then, What type of writer would I be?

The comfortable type.

So what color/pattern of plaid would you wear? Do you have a blazer? Where are you on the pajama-blazer scale?

Time Machine

This video is sponsored by Squarespace.

Except that this isn’t a video.

Also a WordPress website so…

I was thinking about my various creative outlets and remembered that I had a blog once. One that had been filled with words, purged, then filled again. Over and over. This never-ending cycle of wordvomit and embarrassment. Then I thought, Is blogging still a thing? No. I don’t believe it is.

So here I am! While the world is enamored with TikTok, I chose to jump in my time machine and start blogging instead. Maybe I’ll bring it back. Maybe I’m a hipster at heart and I love all things old and quirky. Maybe it’s just me that’s old and quirky.

Anyway.

The other day I was thinking about my writing goals and realized that most of my goals have been long since forgotten, having been replaced by the complacency of having a regular job. I’m still working freelance but as far as freelancing gigs are concerned, my current contracts are ones I’ve held steady for two to three years. This is as “regular” of a job that I’ve had in a long time since I normally opt for short contracts so I can test waters and experiment with writing styles.

But these steady gigs have also made me realize, since I have regular paychecks coming in, I should have a regular routine. One which is filled with the type of creativity I crave. Right?

…yes?

I am fortunate enough to be able to write every day. I have the time to read every day. If I so choose (and if I can stay off YouTube–my social media poison of choice these days), I can spend valuable time honing my craft. So why hasn’t that happened?

I’ll tell you why… It’s because I’ve become complacent. Oh wait, I said that already, didn’t I? Well, I guess we all knew the answer then.

It’s around January 1st when I aim to dedicate valuable time to this website. I’ll post weekly blogs, I say. I’ll steadily post on social media, I say. I’ll write like the wind and I’ll finally get the guts to query and submit. Then, after failing to meet one of those goals, I’ll just give up on the lot.

This isn’t a vow.

I can’t tell you that I’m going to do those things now. I can say that I will try. I’ve been working hard at trying to maintain a steady schedule for work, writing, and for vlogging. It’s been six weeks of vlogging each week. A fellow creative and I have been practicing and trying to strengthen our vlogging muscles with videos (kept private, while we experiment with technique, content, and style). This week has been my favorite video by far. If it turns out right, I might even make that video public.

So look forward to random updates, an occasional vlog, maybe a short story or two, and me.

Hugs,

J.

Oh Hai There

It’s been a while since I’ve written a blog post. While I’m not super consistent about posting on this blog, know that there is always a lot going on around me.

Just to help this go by faster, let’s do another lightening round update!

  1. Our house may be haunted by a ghost. In reality, it’s probably just a hallucination from lack of sleep because I just did a 20-hour writing challenge. To clarify, it was actually supposed to be a 24-hour writing challenge but I am lame and crashed at around 4:30AM and took a four hour nap before finishing off the challenge. Seriously though… The Director of HR and I both saw the ghost in the hallway. Just a big mass of white moving from one end of the hallway to another.
  2. The air plants have upgraded to an office with two floors. I’m debating on whether or not I should add a third floor before I start building cubicles for them.
  3. Remodeled my office including: smart bulbs, smart outlets, cleaning off my desk, adding snazzy glass monitor risers, getting a stand for my fountain pen collection, and adding a wiretap (an AI assistant) for my desk. I think I mentioned last time that I also got a new desktop and speakers. And if I didn’t mention that…. I got those things.
  4. I’m continuing to write short stories with a couple of friends. We’re having a ton of fun with the whole prompt-swap-critique thing and I am slowly amassing a collection of short stories which (hopefully) I can compile into two or three actual collections for sale. YAY!
  5. I FINALLY came up with a novel idea that I love.
  6. The podcast is officially in the works. I’ll be posting a trailer or two here this week. Episodes will be available here, on Podbean, and on YouTube as well. Episodes will go up on Tuesdays. I’ll put up two teaser trailers this week and next week, I’ll put up my first official episode. Yay! I’m so scared.
  7. The Great Husbando, The Director of HR, Husbando’s parents, and I went out for a hike a few weekends ago and saw some beautiful waterfalls. It was so nice to go out in nature once again.
  8. I’ve started using the HB90 planner system and I’m loving it. I’m still trying to find my groove with some of the set-up but so far my productivity has increased and I’ve been feeling a lot better about my goals and direction.

As far as posting here on the blog, it’ll probably be a little sparse but I’ll also be replacing written content with weekly or bi-weekly audio content. I really need to come up with a posting schedule and a plan for what I want to do. I’ve been watching a lot of Authortube vlogs because I like the feel of a vlog versus other types of writer-y content. My hope is to emulate that enthusiastic, personable, friendly writer energy in my podcast.

Hugs!

Joy

“July” 30-Day Challenge

The other day, I gave The Great Husbando a big hug and while in this warm embrace he said, “Your heartbeat is really fast.” Now while I could have just dropped an “It’s because I’m near you,” I didn’t because I knew the reason why: heart disease, hypertension, and all of those other worrisome cardiovascular illnesses and diseases that in both sides of my family. Also, I’ve been struggling with anemia.

The past few days, my average resting heart rate has been in the high 90’s. While it is in the normal range, it’s on the higher end. Happy 35th birthday indeed.

At the start of July, my 30-day challenge was to win Camp NaNo. But, something a little more important seems to have come up. While numerous artists have been recognized posthumously, I haven’t finished and published anything yet so I should probably extend my life a little. Otherwise, there will be nothing to recognize after my death.

With that in mind, I’m changing my 30-day challenge from “Win Camp NaNo” to “My Heart Will Go On” otherwise known as the Mediterranean Diet. I’m going to go strict-Mediterranean for the first 30 days. Then ease up just a little, incorporating a few cheat meals here and there afterward.

Vegetables! Tomatoes! Fish! Chicken! Olive oil!

*sigh*

I’m not a big chicken fan. So I’m on the hunt for a few chicken recipes that I don’t mind having on a regular basis.

The Great Husbando has been incredibly supportive and even says that he’ll join me in my healthy eating quest. I’ll have to rehome my newly acquired jar of Red Vines (The Great Husbando’s dad is a Red Vine fan luckily), and I’ll have to start looking around for the best places for bulk veggies and–Oh, wait! I have a Costco card like a real grown-up now.

Besides, I bought a book on the basics of private investigations and have been trying to find a good system to start memorizing RCWs. Private investigators shouldn’t have heart disease. It tends to interfere with all of the investigating and fence-hopping and adultery-proving and saving cats from trees.

*overly fast heartbeat hugs*

Joy

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