Thursday, March 31, 2016

Sisters Doing It For Themselves | The Female Mystery Lead Haul

Remember that Eurythmics and Aretha Franklin song “Sisters Are Doin’ it for Themselves”?  Good if you do.  Because I believe it's a suitable theme song for my recent book haul.  A haul where I unintentionally visited three different bookstores in an afternoon, led mostly by divine inspiration.  I know how "divine inspiration" sounds.  But what else describes visiting one bookstore and–in passing–somehow three-point turn your way to stop by another?  Just because it was there to catch your eye.  In lunch hour traffic.  Imagine.  So while everyone else was lined up at Chick-Fil-A's drive-thru, some of us were chewing on organic brownie bars and throwing down at the local bookstores.  It had to be done. 
So I attribute the song to this collection of recent purchases–because they’re mysteries carried by women leads.  You know, just about the only gender class in mysteries I raise up to read about.  I mean, a time or two I’ll give the guys a chance.  It’s just male characters in this genre seem so outmoded.  Or, for the sake of sounding redundant, passé.  In the future I may have to eat my words.  Still, unless the male character is gay, I’m less likely to find genuine interest in his story.  And, subsequently, the investigation.  And true there are self-published Kindle books nowadays with a gay male solving crime.  I just need to do a little more research to find good ones.  You know, because the book still has to tell a great story at the end of the day.  But on the general tip: I need a good, kick-ass female to pull me through a mystery.
So with the chatter bucket out of the way, I’m here to share four new crime novels centered on the female sleuth.  As well as a lot of deserts in Arizona...
First there's Firestorm, book #4 in Nevada Barr's park ranger extraordinaire Anna Pigeon series.  This is one of those books–after reading book three–I legworked used bookstores for months to find.  Not until I went over the mountains to a Barnes & Noble did a copy surface (I finally found a used copy later the same day.  The irony.).  

Nevertheless, my experience with Anna Pigeon’s debut, Track of the Cat, was everything.  Here was this flawed, borderline alcoholic who remade her life after losing her husband in a freak accident.  So in a stretch of parallels, she took herself out of the concrete jungles of New York and into Texas back country as a park ranger.  However, the Texas back country is only her first locale.  In proceeding books, Anna's new career takes her to a variety of other National Parks.  So her surroundings are always fresh to her and the reader.  As well as the murders she finds herself wrapped up in.  After the first book, Barr's blend of National Park studies and murder ticketed me for Anna's line of adventures without further convincing.
Unfortunately, the following two books, Superior Death and Ill Wind, sold me lukewarm feelings.  I was still grinding on the Anna train; I just wasn’t there completely after those reads.  Regardless, I knew I wanted to dedicate myself to this series, and have since kept an eye out for Firestorm.
In Firestorm, Anna's stationed at the California Lassen Volcanic National Park.  Sounds pretty cool, right?  Until a forest fire erupts, leaving Anna to confront it.  

Within the blazing chaos, two men are found dead.  One a victim of the fire.  The other stabbed in the back.  The kicker: a winter storm is descending on the park, leaving the remaining ten forest fire survivors stranded.  That’s Anna, eight other people, and one killer in the mix.  Anna’ll have his (or her) ass for sure.  And I must say, I feel like Firestorm will breath another life into the series.  One in which I have no intentions of giving up until I see Anna through to the end, anyway.  Her story and adventures are too unique to pass up.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

#MarchMysteryMadness | Challenge #7: The Baggage Claims

2015 saw no indulgence in the late Elizabeth Peters' infamous Amelia Peabody Egypt-romping mysteries.  A mild disappointment for an even better savory return.  You see, I was a little disheartened when I wrapped up Peters’ Jacqueline Kirby series last year (Naked No More post).  And I unsuccessfully turned over three bookstores for the first book in Peters' Vicky Bliss series–to fill Kirby's void.  And yet I’ve–for whatever reason–neglected Amelia Peabody all the while.  That's kind of bad when it was her character who got me into Peters' writing in the first place.  
If I confused someone, Peters wrote three individual series with three different female protagonists.  And each with an equally independent background.  And it’s the background these women peruse to solve their given mysteries.
Ex-librarian, Jacqueline Kirby, chain-smokes while delivering "innocent" snarks.  Yet, she has an observational majesty like no other.  Sometimes, I believe she knew the given culprit before the first page of her four adventures.
Vicky Bliss–from my researched understanding–is an eccentric blond who often isn’t taken seriously.  Until one takes into account her doctorate; she’s an art historian.  (I have yet to experience her character and how she performs in a mystery.  INSERT SAD FACE HERE.)
Then there’s Amelia Peabody, Peters’ most popular lead and long-standing series star.  Coming from an esteemed and wealthy Victorian family, Peabody is the sole heir to her deceased father’s fortune.  She uses her inheritance to flip between the high falutin Victorian life and hollow Egyptian tombs.  Her passions lie in Egyptology, and she's the first to let the reader know all about her study.
So what do these three women of Peters’ have in common?  I mean, besides intelligence and the self-appointed credence to attach themselves to solving murders?  What makes a reader craze each of their individual stories?  
It’s their dry wit and humor, wrapped in murders and history.  But let's picture "dry wit" so I can give an idea of what anyone new to Peters' work could look forward to.  So, you ever criticize someone and have that individual laugh at the criticism because it goes far above his or her head to recognize the verbal stab?  That's one display of dry wit.  Or have you ever slashed someone with sarcasm which slipped out as if it was a joke?  Only... you weren't really joking.  That's another.  Or, to just get down to the nitty-gritty, do you THROW SHADE without flinching?
Now granted–as I said–I haven’t read any of the Vicky Bliss mysteries.  However, I know Elizabeth Peters and I know why I love reading her books.  It’s because she writes these type of women characters; witty, strong-willed, hyper-intelligent, and courageous.
And that’s what I miss.  So I'm taking Challenge #7 to get back into Peabody’s humorous adventures.  Picking up where I left off with the third book in her series, The Mummy Case.

Mystery Madness
Mystery Madness 2 members 2016 March Mystery Madness Challenge Group. More details to follow.

Books we've read

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Monday, March 28, 2016

He Needs the Michael's (Crafts Haul)

Beware: another Michael's haul.  This was the first place I hit today.  Mainly after expressing how aggravated I was with myself for not picking up crafts glue on my last visit.  I got something close this time–and it was on clearance ($5.49 to $2.99).  Elmer's X-Treme School Glue should do the trick.  The question is whether it dries near-clear or as a puff of white.  We'll see.  Probably wouldn't matter at the end of the day.  

Now this may sound silly, but I'm kind of sad the crafts glue I've held on for over ten years is now finished.  It got me through many a drawing project over the years.  (Yes, I get attached to inanimate things like that.  What about you other cartoonist out there?) 
Anyway, I mentioned in my last drawing post how I originally wanted to give the character a black background.  Unfortunately, my acrylic ink was not a thing but dust.  I got this Winsor & Newton tube for about $4.  I like its color's name: Mars Black.  Pretty neat name.  Though I don't associate black with Mars.  Cool name anyway.

Now.  On to scrapbook paper.  My favorites. Each of these slices of scrapbook paper costed me .19.  Wait, only the Yellow Rose slice was .59.  Nonetheless, ever so natural for me, they all came out of the clearance well.  (For real people, don't sleep on the clearance racks.)  Still, I was glad to find the dark, masculine slices.  What looks black is called Bitter Chocolate.  The brown: Mocha Divine.  (You can't tell, but they're stocky and lightly ribbed.)  The two grey pieces are called Gray Floral Scroll.
Seems like Michael's employees are always issuing out coupons, so I saved $2.
Still didn't find that acid-free tape, though.  After about twenty minutes, I had to make a run for it before I really got started picking up whatever caught my eye.
So, until later, we'll see what I come up with for these goodies.

#MarchMysteryMadness | Challenge #6: The Pet Detective

Well, #MarchMysteryMadness is coming to an end in a couple of days.  Color me sad, especially with two and half challenges still stuck in my lane.  I took a break from reading mysteries to take in Ruth Pointer’s autobiography, Still So Excited!  It was a necessary, necessary task to take.  And one I enjoyed.  If anything, the autobiography re-charged me to tackle the remaining challenges.  Beginning with the 6th #MarchMysteryMadness challenge, The Whispering Pet Whisperer mystery.
Of course Rita Mae Brown is my go-to for reading pet detective mysteries.  I adore her window into the perspectives of animals, with their given abilities used to help their human companions solve crimes.  So the idea was the read the first book in Brown’s Mag Rogers series.  The series is about an ex-Wall Street employee who decided to make a break for her aunt’s Nevada ranch.  In turn, the two–along with their pet dogs–solve a local crime.  The crime begins with someone pipe-bombing the community’s water pumping station.  Knowing Brown some level of politics comes in hand.  But it sounds interesting, right?  
Well, it was.  Then I realized I would have to take on a new cast of characters populating a new community with new dynamics.  You see, Rita Mae Brown packs her series with characters.  Lots and lots of them.  So many she includes a mini List of Characters dossier before the story even starts.  You know, for the reader to revert to during the story's progression.  Should the reader become disorient during a scene where many characters, with different purposes, converse and perform.
Really, I wasn’t in the mood to take on a whole new cast.  No ma'am.  Not this late in the game.  I had my heart set on the book at first, though.  Yet, three chapters in, I was already flipping back to the mini dossier.
It was just too much work trying to warm up to this new crew.  So this is where my emergency care package fell in.
Hell, I went back to pick up where I left off reading Brown’s Mrs. Murphy series with book #10, Catch as Cat Can.  And I picked it back up with a sigh of relief.  It was a familiar stage.  Familiar climate.  Familiar tone.  Hell, even the damn streets' layout was already embedded in my brain.  Yet, most of all, the cast of characters were fictional friends.  I’ve already spent 10 books getting to know them (had trouble in the beginning, but obvious managed).
I devoured the book over the weekend and enjoyed every second of it.  Tiger cat Mrs. Murphy and corgi Tee Tucker saved me on this one.  Had I not sprinted back to their territory, I believe I would’ve been stuck in Brown’s A Nose for Justice.  And, subsequently, furthering my slothfulness this late in the challenges.
Lord, forgive me.
Man, but seriously.  This cozy mystery series is such a treat to me.  I get excited every time I start a new book.  And I long to pick the book back up when I'm away from it.  Maybe it’s because I don’t have pets but always wanted one.

Mystery Madness
Mystery Madness 2 members 2016 March Mystery Madness Challenge Group. More details to follow.

Books we've read

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Saturday, March 26, 2016

The Girl Who Channeled 80's Branigan

Oh what an interestingly long break I took from actually drawing a cartoon.  Ridiculously long, rather.  Actually, chalk my inactivity up to laziness.  But I’m back in form.  Spurred by my new found freedom to do what I want to do with my immediate time.  (We’ll save that story for another day.)  I’ve been sitting on this no-body character for months, before I lit a fire to do something with it.  Lots of sketching, erasing, playing around with different poses took place.  Soon I got to this selfie-taking, disco-spinning point.  My original inspiration was this picture of singer Laura Branigan.  I’m a huge fan of this long-gone and underappreciated singer from the 80s and early 90s.  So, spinning through her records (well MP3 files), I searched for a picture of her to embody in my own cartoons.  And I liked this one.  So I got started, took that long no-drawing break I mentioned, and never actually broke through to my inspired thought.  Except for sketching the tousled hair, I abandoned the drawing.  I had a hard time getting her body down.  Then again, I’m not great at bodies.  But I gave it a good go...

The pencil and sketching part is where I usually spend most of my time–and expelling frustrations.  As mentioned, lots of erasing, redrawing, and standing before a mirror to calculate proportions.  Which is beyond my skill as far as I’m concerned.  But I love a good challenge.  Good or bad, sometimes I just brush my frustrations aside and just go for it.  I’ve long stopped battling drawing insecurities.  Really, you have to close the lid on it after a point.  Or you’ll never get anything done while stuck in the process.  I’ve mentioned this before, but your love for the craft will always be inside searching for another opportunity.  Another burst of inspiration to express.  So if you find yourself battling with insecurities about your skills, ignore it.  Draw anyway.  Go for it.  And give your next effort your best.  And the one after that.  And after that.  And so forth and so on.

I never really have a direction once I get pass the sketching phase–color and material wise.  I don’t know which character speaks to me.  Meaning, what hair/eye color I’ll need.  As well as who fits what I kinda-sorta have in mind to convey the drawing (as well as which personality fits).  I love combining crafting materials with drawings–with is apparent to those familiar with this blog.  But something about this glittery sheet called me.  I bought it two years ago, and I suppose for a occasion such as this.  Seeing how the imagine draws inspiration by Brangian, it makes a fantastic 80’s disco-jammy top.  The tousled hair from performing and the endorphin-heavy selfie to boot!  

Notice I gave her bottom eyelids some sharpness ala Diana Ross's album cover for Surrender.  Not too much, but just a touch.  (Hair was a bright, canary yellow watercolor.  Shading done with "Baked Clay" Copic Marker.) 

Speaking of Diana Ross, before I get into the next step I decided the character would be my girl, Towel.  (My original baby.)  They’re cartoons, so I give them any kind of name.  With that said, a lot of people who’ve asked me about her thinks she’s a tanned white girl.  The truth is actually the opposite.  She’s black, having dyed her hair (her cousin Brooklyn’s idea.)  I’m not into conventions and traditions when it regards appearances.  I love individuality and differences.  Things that aren't suppose to fit.  Besides, Beyonce and Tamar has done the same with their heads.  Now I'll proceed forward speaking on the usual, triple-layer gradient effect for her brown eyes.  I didn’t use a blending pencil this time.  
Per normal, I kind of struggled with chalk pastels when it came to nailing her complexion.  I used a clay and a peachy blend–which is the safest balance for her tone.  Balance is necessary; the darker the complexion, the less you can get away with blotchiness.  And my drawings come LOADED with missteps.  As seen.  I would later have to go over her complexion with another round of pastels to even everything out.  
I did her hair different this time.  Instead of using a chalk pastel one tone up from the yellow base coating, I used a tan.  (Carved the simple shirt outline out.)

I’ve had one bottle of craft’s glue since 2001!  And when I went to glue the glittery sheet behind the board, nothing came out the bottle.  No more glue.  Which was a good thing because it would’ve been a pain.  So I just taped the sheet down, which was a pain as well because my tape is so old it breaks as I peel.  And to think, I left Michael’s last Saturday knowing I needed more than what I left with.
I added the third layer to her hair through a blend of three color pencils.  Well, four counting the black I used to fill her roots.  But I had concerns during the process.  One: her hair was tousled and uneven.  I didn’t know whether to regret it or fix it by adding more to her right side.  Eventually, I said forget it.  Perfection sucks and the story is she just left a performance where she was serving all kinds of vocal tease.  Two: I couldn’t find its movement and flow as I added more streaks.  So I did what I could.  As for her cell phone: black marker for the back and a silver color pencil for the boarder.  I knew I would embellish it later.  A nice shade a pink filled her nails and lips.

Now, I got to remember what I added to this part of the process.  OH!  The background.  I thought about a black background with a light effect via chalk pastels.  I thought about adding another scrapbook sheet.  Then, which happens often, I thought about how much I wanted to keep working on her instead.  So I just painted it canary yellow and used pink chalk pastels to give her a iridescence that’s not so.  To give her outfit form, I used a black marker to show the curve and folds.  Then realize another round of disproportions and said “F” it and kept going.  Telling you guys, you gotta just keep going.

The embellishing part is my favorite.  I don’t know if I mentioned this before, but I once had an art teacher tell me to stop adding stuff to any of my drawings.  I told him I’ll do what I please.  I'll make mistakes and change my mind accordingly.  If possible.  In this case, I pulled those black chalk stickers off.  It just… didn’t really work.  I wanted to use them, but found it unnecessary for this particular drawing.  Yet, I left the bejeweled necklace and earrings (all my girls have to wear jewelry).  Of course, I added some to the back of her phone as well.

Okay.  Okay.  Okay.  The not-so final product.  Or almost.  There’s so much I have to say about how I got here.  Changes and all.  So I’ll bullet point them for my own organization of thought.
1.       My scanner only scans so much.  That’s right.  This was as much as I could capture.  I’ve had the scanner for years and just never upgraded.  You know, money and all.  But, fact is, I like it.  I’m all about face in the drawings, so I served.  I had to choose between showing her hair or the cell phone more.  Obviously I picked hair!  As I live for a girl with locks and flow.  
Now I tried to take the image on my phone (like the ones I shown of the process) and work from there.  Yet, it didn’t turn out how I liked so I stuck with the scanned image.  Until I can upgrade, I just have to use this.  I lost a lot of the story, but still gave face.
2.      As always, I revived its color in its digital format.  Also, as mentioned, I went back and added more to her complexion.  My first blending wasn’t that great in the original digital image.
3.      I darkened her outline on the computer.  I kept looking at the image knowing something was getting lost in digital translation.  It was her outline for sure.  I may continue to add this step to the process of future drawings.  Add digital gloss to lips/nail/phone and brightened up the eyes more.  Computer work is out of my field, but I use it for the smaller things.  Convenience.
4.      I didn’t clean up the areas where I removed the stickers.  We’ll claim "added style" as the results.
I believe that’s it.  What do you guys think?  I was up and down about it for various reasons.  Part of it consisting of insecurities speaking.  But then I looked.  And looked.  And realized I loved the pronounced dark outline and the way I blended her hair.  She looks like a Barbie doll.  And her shirt makes me want a strawberry crisp popsicle.  Later down the line I'll look into making changes. 

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Saying Good-bye | Final Fantasy Type-0 HD Final Mission LIVE STREAMED

While I hate to depart with the game, the truth is I Platinum'ed it.  So some of you like-minded gamers know I'll never pick this one up again.  You know how you have some games you can't get rid up, then some–let this–can make room for future titles?  Well, that's the case.  Along with a slew of other old games, I'm selling them out of my Amazon Marketplace Store to spring clean and make room for new games (but mostly new BOOKS!).  Check 'em out below...

Monday, March 21, 2016

I'm So Excited | Ruth Pointer & Da Chen READS

"Still So Excited!: My Life in the Pointer Sisters offers an engaging, funny, heartbreaking, and poignant look at Ruth Pointer’s roller-coaster life in and out of the Pointer Sisters. When overnight success came to the Pointer Sisters in 1973, they all thought it was the answer to their long-held prayers. While it may have served as an introduction to the good life, it also was an introduction to the high life of limos, champagne, white glove treatment, and mountains of cocaine that were the norm in the high-flying '70s and '80s. Ruth Pointer’s devastating addictions took her to the brink of death in 1984. Ruth Pointer has bounced back to live a drug- and alcohol-free life for the past 30 years and she shares how in her first biography. Readers will learn about the Pointer Sisters’ humble beginnings, musical apprenticeship, stratospheric success, miraculous comeback, and the melodic sound that captured the hearts of millions of music fans. They will also come to understand the five most important elements in Ruth’s story: faith, family, fortitude, fame, and forgiveness."

I’m so excited.  And how appropriate for this book-receiving occasion.  First I want to bitch about how I missed singer, Ruth Pointer, releasing her autobiography in February.  Where was I!  Where!  As a strong supporter and fan of her band, The Pointer Sisters, I’m disappointed in myself.  Especially seeing how she was my favorite vocalist in the group.  She had (well, still has) that smoky, contralto voice that just throws me over.  Not familiar with it?  I’ll leave a Youtube video of the group’s song “Automatic”.  Ruth sings lead as she pulls you into the cosmic bliss of her voice.  Now let me disclaimer my enthusiasm by stating how all the sisters’ voices were different, and added something magical to their music.  Especially if you sit back and catch their three-part (at one point four) harmonies.  Which are absolutely amazing, especially for listeners like myself who love to active the conscious to pay attention to back vocals and such. Still, I suppose I’m just bias because I live for a female singer who can master the lower registers.  Maybe because it's so unique for female singers.  That dark, rich contralto tone is why Brandy (who actually shifts) is my favorite artist of my specific generation.  Ruth was definitely my favorite during her time.  Which of course the concept of "time" in music is moot.
Anyway, so yes.  Ruth was my favorite Pointer.  Going by the synopsis of her autobiography, I’m taken aback by what she’s willing to reveal.  Well, to be accurate, her story.  Now I'm familiar with her baby sister June’s drug addiction, as well as June's passing in 2006.  (From what I've read so far, Ruth's autobiography takes a brief moment to address the tragedy June faced which led to her later struggles.)  But I always saw Ruth, the eldest sister, as the responsible and forthright sister.  An illusion we tend to give any of our eldest siblings.  I myself being one.  Even so, she was in the same mess as June–using drugs and alcohol to cope with her own demons.  On the other hand, the use of drugs and alcohol were almost par for the course, given the 70's and 80's when the group took off.  Either way Ruth is revealing her struggle with addition and rise in the music industry, but with so much more in the vein of inspiration in Still So Excited!

FYI: Let me gush for a split-second and mention how my absolute favorite Pointer Sister song is "If You Wanna Get Back Your Lady."  Pure damn gold!  Do yourself a favor and familiarize yourself with the song.

"When Samuel Pickens’ great love tragically loses her life, Samuel travels the globe, Annabelle always on his mind. Eventually, he comes face to face with the mirror image of his obsession in the last place he would expect, and must discover her secrets and decide how far he will go for a woman he loves. 
Da Chen immerses the reader in the world of the Chinese imperial palace, filled with ghosts and grief, where bewitching concubines, treacherous eunuchs, and fierce warlords battle for supremacy. Da takes us deeply into an epic saga of 19th century China, where one man searches for his destiny and a forbidden love."
~ Synopsis taken from Goodreads
Let me tell you.  Anytime I go to the Dollar Tree/General/Store, I make a move for the book section.  It’s usually a mess in the area, but I enjoy hunting for something new to read for a single dollar.  And that’s just what I found with Da Chen’s My Last Empress
I read Da Chen’s book, Brothers, back in 2006.  Considering it’s been awhile, all I can say is I liked the book okay.  Hard for me to remember the exact details other than two brothers in China separated at birth.  One got the privileged life, the other got a bad deal.  The twist is they both fell in love with the same girl.  Then I forgot the rest.
But no, the author’s name still sticks with me.  Which is why I grabbed this copy of My Last Empress out of an avalanche of Sudoku puzzles and paperback Westerns.  Dish washer liquid in hand, I pumped on to the register in delight.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Blog Haul: Saturday's LIFE & DRAWING

needed Saturday.  I needed that time with my cousin and her daughter.  Driving around town with some generally nice (a touch breezy), sunny March weather to lead us.  For me, spending a Saturday out and about is one of my favorite ways to appreciate this day of the week.  As a kid, that's just what we did.  J. C. Penny's, the mall, Wal-Mart, bookstores, and eating out all took place on Saturdays.  From late mornings until early evenings.  And after breaking out of winter and into spring, I was up for it.  

Yet I needed this past Saturday for a specific reason.  The truth is I suffered an anxiety attack Thursday afternoon at work.  You see, I think I finally hit a wall in that place.  A heavy, soul-sucking, and burdensome wall at that.  There's nothing pretty about feeling caged in for three years until you find yourself holding two choices: unsheathe your claws or make a run for it.  I did a balance of both.  And it was frightening for me to be so out of control of myself physically and mentally.  And all the sweet but low key narrow-minded platitudes from others who've never been in my position don't mean a thing.  Matter-of-fact, I'm tired of being around people who subscribe to systems over their own inner compasses.  But I digress.  Maybe I’ll write more about the incident later–outside of my journal that is. 
I want to share Saturday’s haul with the Comic Towel readers.  To just talk about a few of the things I got to fill the “LIFE” tag to my blog, as well as the “DRAWING” tag.
LIFE: Metaphysics to the Rescue

The day started when I asked my cousin if she wanted to visit the metaphysical gift shop, The Dream Maker, with me.  A month ago my powdered incense caught her interest, so I invited her to come along with me when I went to get more.
I ran out of Anna Riva's incense powder Thursday, after using my last to get myself together post that disastrous work shift.  I’d already made up my mind that I wanted to grab some new powder anyway, so the timing was right.  Metaphysically, I can’t give an exact answer on the powder's effectiveness.  However, the smell (and the placebo influence) is fine with me.  It’s all about charging a positive environment and mindset.
This time I got the green powder for Horn of Plenty.  According to the Wiki, the definition of this familiar phrase is: Cornucopia, a symbolic, hollow horn filled with the inexhaustible gifts of celebratory fruits.”  So I see this powder as a catch-all tool for generating plenty wherever your focus lie.  Yet, seeing how green is a color representative of money and abundance, the obvious intentions are truth.  It has a low, musty but citrus scent to it.  The other powder is red, a color with a multitude of spiritual and metaphysical meanings.  Still, in the case of this bottle of powdered incense, it represents attraction.  Nothing specific to its aim, or focus.  Still, like many things in metaphysics, you’re open to apply your own intentions.
Doing a little research on the powders beforehand, I came across a book written Anna Riva.  It’s call Power in the Palms.  I don’t have the book, but from what I’ve researched online, it does mention the use of candles in our prayers.  So I bought the appropriate candles with the addition of a small pink one.  (Could that be for attracting love?)  I’ll get into praying the Psalms at another time.  Just know it’s a fascinating discovery that I plan on utilizing in the future.
That’s all I got this time at The Dream Maker.  For once, I didn't spend over $20.  Which is easy to do in this place.
DRAWING: Crafts Please Take Control
All you crafty and art people out there, ever find yourself in a creative funk that lasted months?  What do you do to re-energize your lust for the creative?  If you’re like me you go to Michael’s or Hobby Lobby to load up on inspiration, tools, and ideas.  And even further, you tackle the clearance section for some crafting deals.  Which is what I did with these items I got from Michael's.  
My brain going into creative overload, I grabbed these Jolee’s Boutique breaker and test tube stickers.  Captivated by the glittery colors, I knew I could think of something to use them for in the future.  So I grabbed this pack quick, led by the $1.79 clearance sticker.  I also got these black chalk tiles for 79. a pack.  Stirred by another idea for their use.  Last, I snagged these letter crafting beads.  Which, if I was thinking, I should've grabbed craft glue to go along with them.  I believe I'm almost out of my 10+ year old bottle.  Anyway, a little mini haul at Michael's is just what I needed to bring me back to me just a little more.  Some do therapeutic shopping through clothes, I beeline for the art stuff!
She's in Progress
I’ve been working on this character for a month or two (of course see image on your right-hand side).  I guess I'm lazy about taking my time to give her more shape and direction.  My hopes is that some of these recent crafting goods will get my juices flowing so that I can finish her up.  I remember I used to nail myself down to draw something every day.  God willing–with everything I’ve gotten over the weekend–I hope to find myself back in the drawing mood.  Hopefully, more often so that I can flush out my ideas routinely.  And in a way that only allows peace and tranquility to fill my voids.  There's a certain catharsis I get from watching colorful characters come to life.  And with all that's been happening in my immediate surroundings, I owe myself a session.  Or two.  Or three.  Or infinitely!
Let go and let God...
Anyway, a small little weekend haul I wanted to share.  How do you go about rejoicing and honoring your spirit and creativity?  Share your thoughts below!

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

#MarchMysteryMadness Video Challenge #1

Welcome, guys.  #MarchMysteryMadness is still in action!  I'll leave all the links to the challenges below.  But first I need to share the host of #MarchMysteryMadness, LizziefayeLovesBooks.  She is the originator of this tag and the link to her video follows:
The #MarchMysteryMadness VIDEO CHALLENGE #1 TAG questions/instructions/answers:
For this challenge lets do a book tag for the words March, Mystery, & Madness. Here are the prompts (Amazon affiliate links): 
A. March #1 Pick a book that is green.
~ The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley (  My written thoughts:
B. March #2 Pick a book with a Leprechaun or other tiny person.
~ Dead Witch Walking by Kim Harrison (
A. Mystery #1 Recommend a mystery.
~ How about my March TBR video?
B. Mystery #2 Pick a mystery from your TBR.
~ No Rest for the Wiccan by Madelyn Alt (  This is book #4 in the series, but I have my thoughts on book #3 HERE:
A. Madness #1 Pick a psych. thriller or a psychopathic character.
~ Silence of the Lambs by Thomas Harris (  Written thoughts HERE:
B. Madness #2 Pick a book with a sports theme.
I ain't got a thing.  At least that I feel will uphold this question.  Maybe next time.
THANKS AGAIN LIZZIE FOR TAGGING ME!  I'll tag anyone who wants to participate!  GO!

Sunday, March 13, 2016

#MarchMysteryMadness | Challenge #5: The Syndicating Spell-Caster

(Taken from my Goodreads #MarchMysteryMadness post announcing my choice for this challenge.)

With the beginnings of every series comes a personal story. Comes a reason why we pick them up. And another reason why we decide to keep reading book after book. A lot of that dedication has to do with our interest in the character. And sometimes, we don’t even have explanations of how/why we connected.

I found this happening with Madelyn Alt’s witch character, Maggie O’Neill.  I decided to pick up the first book back when I was shelving books at this bookstore. It was a mystery involving a witch–which was intriguing enough. But then I thought it could help me with my own writing, seeing how Alt was another cozy author blending genres. It’s taken some years, but I’m slowly making my way through this series about this low-key witch solving murders in a small Indiana town. Maggie is not exactly flashy and quick-witted like, say, Kinsey Millhone. She doesn’t have the legal brains or athleticism of V. I. Warshawski. And she certainly doesn’t have an ugly/dark past like Eve Dallas (though it looks like her family is making a profound appearance in this fourth book). But I like Maggie. Maybe because she isn’t all those things. Yet she’s a witch in the subtlest sense because she doesn’t look at herself in terms of power. She’s just a woman who happens to be able to do small, little witchy things that helps her solve these murders she falls into.

The books are harder and harder to come by, and I think Alt no longer has a contract. But I had to use this Challenge to order and read the 4th book, NO Rest for the Wiccan. If anything, I want to see more of Maggie (and secretly find out how she’ll resolve her relationship issues with two men.)

Relate with me; does anybody have a series you love diving in and out of but isn't sure what is it that resonances with you?

Mystery Madness
Mystery Madness 26 members 2016 March Mystery Madness Challenge Group. More details to follow.

Books we've read

View this group on Goodreads »

Monday, March 7, 2016

Akiba'Strip: Undead & Undressed LIVE STREAM

"AKIBA'S TRIP: Undead & Undressed is an open-world action RPG in which players undertake numerous missions in a virtual recreation of Akihabara, Tokyo's popular ”Electric Town” district. The player's goal is to identify vampires called “Synthesizers” with the help of an in-game smartphone app, then engage them in battle to strip their clothes off so their bodies are fully exposed to sunlight. Boasting a unique combat system in which everyday objects become weapons, multiple story routes, a varied cast of characters based on common anime and video game tropes and a narrative dripping with social satire and subtle nods to Japanese pop culture, AKIBA'S TRIP is a present-day supernatural adventure for the gamer in all of us."

I have no idea what I'm playing. Heard about the game. Was interested in it when it released in the West. But just didn't quite get it. Finally I ate my curiosity, buckled down and bought the game. The girl who checked me out at Gamestop insisted on repeating (quite loudly) that the game was about stripping vampires of their clothing. She told me that about four times–within the crowd–before I finally swiped my card and gave her that tight-teeth grin (you know, the 'I know and get it' grin.) The whole stripping thing I already got via my research of the game.  I guess she just wanted me to feel some type of way for buying the game. 

Now I'm really not into fan service anime/manga unless the guys get a dose of the humiliation too.  Which happens in Akiba'Strip! So, bored out of my mind, I got the game and am now streaming pieces of my gameplay. All I can say is that it's... well... frankly Japanese.

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