My Pull List

thepulllistA friend asked me how many books I was reading the other day. I asked if he was talking novels or comic books. He said both, and there were so many on the list, it was hard to give him a good number. I think I said something brilliant like “I dunno…maybe 20?” So…here’s a more concrete list. New things keep getting added, but nothing seems to get taken off. In my New Year’s Resolution post [link to post]. Something I didn’t mention was that I’m reading every evening for at least 30 minutes, and it has to be something that isn’t on a screen. (See…I’m trying to get better at actually sleeping too, but that’s a whole other story). That 30 minutes comes in helpful, because my pull list is massive, and that doesn’t include the to-read stack in my bookshelf. My favorite local comic shop closed, so I found my second favorite…which isn’t local at all, that will ship my books to me. New comic books day isn’t every Wednesday for me anymore, because…mail is slow, but I do get to look forward to a box each week that holds worlds and wonders. Here’s what’s on my list as of today. (These are in no order whatsoever.)

  1. Doomsday Clock
  2. Scarlet
  3. Suicide Squad: Black Files
  4. Coyotes
  5. Gideon Falls
  6. Oblivion Song
  7. Magic Order
  8. Paper Girls
  9. Realm
  10. Redlands
  11. Skyward
  12. Witchblade
  13. Baby Teeth
  14. Beyonders
  15. Sparrowhawk
  16. Vampironica
  17. X-Men Red
  18. Shadowman
Novels…well that’s another post in and of itself.
If you have questions or want me to review a particular book for you, just let me know.
‘Til next time,
Jessica

New Year, New Resolutions?

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The last couple of years I’ve made New Years Resolutions. I feel like I’ve done a decent job of keeping most of them. However, that’s not the case for them all. What I like about resolutions is that it pushes boundaries, it helps you learn about yourself, and I’m an advocate for self-exploration and learning.

Sometimes, what you learn is that you’re not cut out for everything, and that’s okay. One goal I’m giving up is the idea of running a 5k. Running is not the thing for me. I keep getting hurt, and I…I hate it. Like really hate it. I don’t see the point in being miserable just to accomplish an arbitrary goal.

Just because I’m giving up on the 5k doesn’t mean there aren’t physical milestones to reach. I just don’t know what they are yet. Maybe it will be riding a bicycle again or actual yoga classes instead of self-instruction, I don’t know yet. My plan is to do a bit of exploring this year and find out what I enjoy.

My other goal is to re-evaluate and create the next steps in my plan. I mentioned in my post Breathe, that I’ve been so diligently pursuing the early steps of my plan that I never figured out what happens now that I’ve accomplished those things. I also want to take more time for me, writing, drawing, reading, spending time with family and friends, getting out into the outdoors…so much of these were things I had to give up to get another degree while I worked full time and then to get my house ready and sell it.

Part of me feels a little lost now that I don’t have a life filled with deadlines and timetables, but…that’s okay. I’m hoping that my life is what’s waiting for me in that space that feels lost. It’s only been two months since I sold my house, but I’m already beginning to feel rejuvenated and renewed. The itch to create is back with a vengeance, and, wow, it feels good.

So…the 2019 list.

  1. Breathe – Take time for me. I’m instituting Pamper Me Sundays filled with bubble baths, pedicures, face masks, and hopefully professional massages.
  2. Think – Life gets so hectic and so filled with television, music, and social media that we forget to take the time to just think. I need to leave more time to think, because the best ideas and plans spring from that time. Saturday mornings spent in the quiet with a cup of tea and maybe a journal will do nicely. Hopefully, once I get in the habit of giving myself time, I won’t need to schedule it anymore.
  3. Get Outside – Walk the dog, go camping, see if it’s true that you never forget how to ride a bike.
  4. Make More Art – Finish at least one story I have outlines for, paint, take photos, draw…whatever…just make more art. Scratch the creative itch.
  5. Read – Read books, comic books, short stories, articles…whatever.
  6. Grow stuff – I have houseplants that have survived the last four months, which is a record for me. Maybe add to that. Kitchen herbs, an outdoor garden in the spring…stuff like that. I like being surrounded by green growing things. Maybe I can  convert my black thumb to a green one…with some help.
  7. Take a class – Art, yoga whatever. Just take a class.
  8. Learn a new coding language – I don’t know which one yet, but I’d like to be able to write the server side code for websites as well as the front end code. This one is a big fat maybe, but I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately. (Suggestions are welcome!)
  9. Make time for what’s important – My family, my friends, the things I love.
  10. Be Spontaneous – Say “yes” more often. Yes to day trips, road trips, outings with friends and family…just say “yes” instead of “no” or “let me see what’s on my schedule”.

As someone who’s done training on goal setting…my list doesn’t begin to meet the requirements. It’s kind of vague and lacks time frames for things, but that’s part of what I  want to learn this year. How to live without a rigid structure, because that was what got me through the last few years. Spontaneity is a good thing, and I could use a bit more of that in my life. So next time a friend asks me to take a day trip, I don’t say “no” because it doesn’t fit in my schedule for the day.

Do you make New Year’s Resolutions? Do you manage to stick to them? How do you do it?

‘Til next time,

Jess


Riced Cauliflower?

chickenfriedricedcauliflowerI’ll admit. I’m a skeptic. Okay, I was a skeptic. However, there’s a possibility I’ve been converted. Here’s the deal, I had roommate who was doing the whole Keto thing. I’m not discussing the pros or cons of the Keto diet. I’m here to talk about Cauliflower. Not my favorite vegetable. Not my least favorite vegetable either. Cauliflower is the one I’m never excited to see in my steamed veggies at a restaurant, but I don’t not eat it. I can’t say I’ve been on board with this whole riced cauliflower, cauliflower pizza crust, mashed cauliflower craze I’ve seen all over my social media. However, I tried the riced cauliflower, and I…didn’t hate it.  Okay, fine, I went back for seconds.

I made chicken fried rice with frozen riced cauliflower. It tasted like…chicken fried rice, and it was quicker and easier to cook. I’m still unsure about the cauliflower pizza crust or the mashed cauliflower, but I may be less hesitant about trying it.

If you’d like to try chicken friend riced cauliflower, do it! The recipe is below.

Ingredients:

1 package riced cauliflower with peas and carrots (you can get plain and add frozen stir fry vegetables, frozen mixed vegetables…whatever you think would be tasty)

2 boneless skinless chicken breasts

2 Tablespoons butter

1 egg

Soy sauce to taste

Directions:

In a large skillet, melt your butter. I like to use real butter, because you can brown it and add a bit of a nutty flavor. Dice chicken and cook in hot buttery skillet until done. While the chicken is cooking, thaw the riced cauliflower and spread on a paper towel to drain. Remove chicken and pat the cauliflower to remove as much moisture as possible. (if you don’t do this, it gets chewy) Gracefully dump the cauliflower in the same skillet you cooked the chicken in. Don’t worry about any butter or pieces of chicken left in the skillet. This is what gives it extra flavor! Add your frozen vegetables and heat the veggies through before adding the chicken back into the skillet. Make a hole in the center of the skillet by pushing the rest of ingredients to the side. Crack an egg in the center of the hole you just made and scramble it. Once the egg is cooked, slowly mix the rest of your ingredients in. Start with the bits nearest to the egg, and work your way to the edge to make sure the egg is evenly distributed. Add a bit of soy sauce to taste, and voila! Chicken Fried Riced Cauliflower!


Enter Sandman

Now that I have a bit more free time on my hands I’ve reinvigorated my interest in reading novels, and I came across a great series by accident. I wandered into a cute independent book store near my office, Magic City Books. Since I wasn’t looking for anything in particular, I just picked up random books with interesting covers. sandmanslimI don’t know what about this cover grabbed my attention, but the blurb on the back “Resurrection sucks. Saving the world is worse.” made me want to read more.

I’d never heard of the novel or the author, Richard Kadrey, before, but, man, he’s got a tight story and interesting characters. The main character, James Stark, is a foul-mouthed, irreverent guy who, for all that he spent eleven years in hell, proves relatable. He reminds me a bit of Jim Butcher’s Harry Dresden from the Dresden Files, but more hard-boiled and disillusioned. (Did I mention eleven years in hell?) The face-paced story heightens tension with its lack of chapter breaks. In all reality, I was halfway through the book before I really noticed, and I had no intention of putting it down any time soon.

Since I didn’t want to put the book down, I was a little sad when I finished it. I mean, you only get to read a book for the first time once, and now that experience was over. My faith was restored when I discovered it was a series.

I went out the next day to buy the rest of the titles provided by my closest book store. Unfortunately, they only stocked number two and number…I don’t know seven maybe. Now, I’m waiting for number three to come in, because I tore through the second book Kill the Dead even faster than Sandman Slim.

I thought maybe I could read The Kill Society without reading the intervening books. I do not recommend it! Things happen in the intervening books that are alluded to in the first handful of pages, and now I need to know how these things happened! That, my friends, is the hallmark of a good series. When you are angry at the bookstores for stocking the first two titles and the most recent two titles but none of the intervening books.  Have I mentioned that I need to know what happens?

If you couldn’t tell, I highly recommend this series. Also, if there’s anyone who has any pull on what gets stocked in my bookstores….stock the whole freaking series! Please! Now, excuse me while I go outside to wait for the postman to deliver book three.

‘Til next time,

Jess

 


Breathe

The last handful of years have been a roller coaster ride…or maybe a merry-go-round.

abandoned grass light merry go round

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You know the kind that we used to play on that spins you around in circles so fast you puke…or fly off and possibly sustain an injury worth of a trip to the ER. The ride’s been fun, but now that I’ve hit the most important of  the goals I’d set when I started down this road just over three years ago…I don’t really know what’s next.

So, I’m taking a little time to just breathe and recharge my batteries. Part of that includes giving some TLC to relationships I’ve neglected too long, and allowing myself time for…fun stuff. Reading, writing, cooking, and walking the dog come to mind…and that should give you an idea of what my life has looked like the last few years.

First on my list was sleeping a lot. Turns out, I’m not great at that, so the sleeping all day I imagined didn’t happen. At least I’m getting a regular night’s sleep…most of the time…well, sometimes anyway.

This actually worked out because it gave me a lot of time to read a few novels. I started out with rereading a few books before I moved on to new material, and boy have I found a couple of good ones! I’ll be writing about one of them, Sandman Slim, when I finish this post.

According to my friends and co-workers, there are also a lot of movies and television shows I’ve missed out on, so I’m working to rectify that too. I’m making a list…feel free to add to it in the comments. I’ve knocked out No Country for Old Men, Sideways, and Aquaman…okay, I didn’t miss out on the last one, I saw it opening weekend. I’m also watching Rick & Morty while I write this. A staycation is great for catching up on this like this…and naps. Speaking of naps…

‘Til next time,

Jess


Snippets & Treasures on Memory Lane

I’m preparing to sell my house, which is a moment I’m looking forward to with a great amount of joy…and a bit of sadness. In between bouts of menial labor, I need to sift through all of my worldly possessions. You know, go through the whole keep, donate or trash process. Wow! Let me tell you, I’ve accumulated a lot of stuff. There are a lot of memories tucked away in this house.

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Among those memories are notebooks. I used to write…a lot, and the notebooks are filled with snippets of stories.  I’ve been reading through those snippets, and a couple of things caught my attention. First, I still like reading my stuff, and I wrote a lot of this years ago. That tells me I’m not half bad. Second, I didn’t finish anything. All of the notebooks are filled with unfinished pieces. None of the notebooks are full. I just kept buying new notebooks, writing a few scenes and moved on. Third, maybe it’s time to finish writing something.

‘Til next time,

Jessica


What Does New Comic Book Day Have For Me Today?

NewComicBookDayPicking up the gems from my pull list feels a bit like my birthday or Christmas, because its always a bit of a surprise. I’m terrible at keeping track of the dates books are released, so I never really know what’s coming…unless I remember to read my email, but that kind of takes the fun out of things. Doesn’t it?

I’m excited about this week’s haul.

  • X-Men Red #5
  • Justice League #1
  • Rise of the Black Panther #6
  • Infinity Countdown #4
  • Paper Girls #21
  • Isola #3
  • Kaijumax Volume 3 (I’ve been waiting and waiting and waiting!)

 

JusticeLeague_1_JimLee

By Jim Lee (My photo does NOT do it justice)

I was too busy reading to post my list last week, but with a list like this, who could resist?

  • Vampironica #2
  • Barrier #5
  • Grass Kings #15
  • Doomsday Clock #5
  • The Realm #6

 

Vampironica2-768x1181_1024x1024

By Greg Smallwood

I’m really loving Vampironica. The Smallwoods are knocking it out of the park with this one.  The Realm hooked me from the first issue, and I’m thrilled to see a new issue from this team. So…things to read and all. With a pile of books like this, can you blame me for hiding myself away and reading instead of writing a longer post?

What are you reading that you’d recommend?

‘Til next time,

Jess


Failed Artist?

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Today I had someone call me a “failed artist”. Before you get all irate on my behalf, I’m not offended by this. I’d rather be what this person defines as a failed artist than a successful…I don’t know, pretty much anything else. This person’s definition of a failure is anyone who has the audacity to share less than perfection with the world. All of you creators hear me when I say, we never attain perfection. If we’re waiting on that, no one would ever get to view anything, and that would be a tragedy.

Every piece is a constant work in progress, at least in our minds. The amount of fantastic art left mouldering in someone’s attic, office, or under the bed must be phenomenal, because presenting your art to the world takes bravery.  The first attempts are never easy or even good, and I got a reminder on recent trip to Crystal Bridges Museum in Bentonville, Arkansas.

Even the great masters needed practice sketches, warm ups, and failed attempts before their masterpieces came to life. I’m not aspiring to be John Singer Sargent here, but seeing his preliminary sketches for one of his paintings along with those of other world renowned artists was like turning on a lightbulb. Everyone practices. No one ever starts out perfect, wonderful or even good. It doesn’t matter. Make art.

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Learn a new skill? Show it off! Got a new camera? Post your pictures! Picked up a pencil or a paintbrush for the first time since you were a kid? I want to see it!

Here’s the thing. Too many people live their lives trapped in “I’m not good enough to do that”. So what? Do it anyway. (Disclaimer: we’re talking art here, people, not death defying stunts. Leave those to the professionals.) Then do it again, and again, and again.

I don’t believe there’s such a thing as a failed artist. There are only those who decide not to try.

Show me what you’re made of.  I’d love to see your work too. Post pics or links in the comments.

I’ll go first. Here’s are links to my Portfolio and my Behance.

‘Til next time,

Jess

 


Itchy Fingers

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You know the feeling you get when you’re enthused, inspired, and energized to do something or make something? I call this “itchy fingers”. That’s where I am.  This isn’t an uncommon phenomenon. As a matter of fact, it happens all the time.

Usually, it signals the end of a creative dry spell. Not the case this time, my friends!  No, this is the direct result of attending the 99U Conference in New York City last week. For my first conference of creative professionals, I picked a doozy.  I mean wow.

Please allow me to gush about the location for just a moment, attending an event at the Lincoln Center provides a special kind of inspiration all on its own.  Walking by the building with “The Julliard School” displayed in simple silver metallic lettering made me a little giddy. There’s a secret little dream the I held during the years of piano lessons that I would be a virtuoso to one day grace those halls. Since I was neither dedicated nor talented enough to do more than daydream, this was as close as I’ll ever get.  Alice Tully Hall’s light, airy feel and comfortable theater seating made the perfect setting for the truly wonderful speakers. Layer all this on top of the frenetic energy of New York City, and you have a recipe for something wonderful.

The stunning lineup for this event…I hoped to glean a handful of useful tidbits to take back to energize both my professional and personal work, but I didn’t expect to spend the bulk of my time furiously taking notes. As much as I really want to list all of the inspiring speaking and a nugget of what each one taught me…that would make for a REALLY long blog post.

I will tell you that in two days, I didn’t get bored once…that’s saying a lot for me. Hopefully, I’ll take the energy of May and carry it on into the rest of my year. I’m really glad I got to attend, and now…I’m off to make something!

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Photo by Marko Blazevic on Pexels.com

‘Til next time,

Jess


My Top 10 Comics…Today

 

books-bookstore-book-reading-159711.jpegWhew! This is a long one, but…sorry? Not sorry. There are so many good comic books out there right now. I used to feel a little weird about making recommendations, because I’m not one of those people who’ve been reading comics since I was a kid. About 4-5 years ago I jumped into comics with both feet, and by both feet I mean Neil Gaiman’s Sandman. After that I was a little lost, but I got some great recommendations from a good friend, and eventually I ventured out on my own.

Most of my reading comes from independent publishers like AfterShock and Image, because finding entry points into some of the historic characters of the big 2 was a little intimidating….I’ve gotten over that now, but I still lean heavily toward the books the independent publishers release.

These are my Top 10 Books as of…today. They’re listed in no particular order. Think I missed something? Let me know. I’m always looking for new books!


bookFUJITSU

1. Fu Jitsu – Published by Aftershock Comics, written by Jai Nitz & art by Wes St. Claire

Fu Jitsu is the world’s smartest boy, and has been for the last hundred years. Wait, what? Fu is an un-aging genius, and has had adventures around the globe and around the galaxy. From Einstein and the Wright brothers, to Gandhi and Johnny Unitas, Fu has met everyone in history while protecting Earth from Robert Wadlow, the world’s tallest man, and his dangerous magi-science.

TheRealm_01-12. The Realm – Published by Image Comics, co-created by Shaun Peck & Jeremy Haun

Fifteen years ago, our world was overrun by creatures of myth; orcs, dragons, and other nameless horrors threw the entire planet into total chaos. Today, the shattered remnants of civilization must fight just to survive in a deadly new era of violence and mayhem. While a powerful sorcerer marshals his forces, a group of warriors embark on a journey to reclaim our world from the growing darkness. An all new post-apocalyptic high-fantasy adventure series from co-creators SETH M. PECK (X-Men) and JEREMY HAUN (THE BEAUTY) featuring colors by NICK FILARDI and letters by THOMAS MAUER.


ImaginaryFiends1

3. Imaginary Fiends – Published by Vertigo, written by Tim Seeley & art by StephenMolnar, Quinton Winter, & Carlos M. Mangual

Agent Melba Li and her imaginary monster partner, Polly Peachpit, continue their search for a missing child, as a twisted conspiracy unfolds in the small town of Maiden Springs. What is the Fraidy Cat? And how can a woman who lives in fear defeat something that lives on it?

Doomsday_Clock_Vol_1_14. Doomsday Clock – Published by DC Comics, written by Geoff Johns, pencils by Gary Frank, colors by Brad Anderson

Doomsday Clock is a twelve-issue comic book series written by Geoff Johns and illustrated by Gary Frank. It began on November 21st 2017, at three minutes to midnight. It is the sequel to Watchmen, written by Alan Moore and illustrated by Dave Gibbons.

Coyotes_01-15. Coyotes – Published by Image Comics, written by Sean Lewis, art by Caitlin Yarsky

Underworld meets Sicario in this new series from SEAN LEWIS (SAINTS, THE FEW) and amazing new artist CAITLIN YARSKY. Hunted by a legion of wolves that roam the border, women are disappearing. The survivors band together to wage war. Detective Frank Coffey is trying to understand this mythic-level bloodbath when he comes across Red, a little girl with a secret and a sword. Ultra-violent and smart as hell, COYOTES transforms the everyday into a myth we can rally behind.

BatmanWhiteKnight16. Batman White Knight – Published by DC Comics, by Sean Murphy

In a world where Batman has gone too far, The Joker must save Gotham City.

He’s been called a maniac, a killer and the “Clown Prince of Crime” but “white knight”? Never. Until now…

Set in a world where the Joker is cured of his insanity and homicidal tendencies, The Joker, now known as “Jack,” sets about trying to right his wrongs. First he plans to reconcile with Harley Quinn, and then he’ll try to save the city from the one person who he thinks is truly Gotham City’s greatest villain: Batman!

Superstar writer and artist Sean Murphy (PUNK ROCK JESUS, THE WAKE) presents a seven-issue miniseries of a twisted Gotham City with a massive cast of heroes and villains that, at its heart, is a tragic story of a hero and a villain: Batman and The Joker. But which is the hero—and which the villain?

GrassKings017. Grass Kings – Published by BOOM! Studios, written by Matt Kindt, art by Tyler Jenkins

From The New York Times bestselling writer Matt Kindt (Mind MGMT) and Peter Panzerfaust artist Tyler Jenkins comes a rural mystery series chronicling the tragic lives of the Grass Kings, three brothers and rulers of a trailer park kingdom, a fiefdom of the hopeless and lost, of the desperate poor seeking a promised land. Eldest brother Robert leads a grief-stricken life, having lost his daughter to a tragic accident, followed by his wife disappearing one morning never to return. When an enigmatic young woman named Maria flees to their community in search of safe haven, Robert takes her in. Will his decision lead to ruin and retribution dooming the Kingdom? Perfect for fans of True Detective Season One or Scalped?

Maestros_01-18. Maestro – Published by Image Comics, written by Steve Skroce, art by Steve Skroce, Dave Stewart

he Maestro and his entire royal family have been murdered. Now, his banished son from Earth will inherit the Wizard King’s throne along with a spell that turns its user into GOD. With enemies everywhere, will this Orlando-born millennial be able to keep his new magic kingdom? From STEVE SKROCE, the storyboard artist of The Matrix trilogy, the artist and co-creator of WE STAND ON GUARD and Doc Frankenstein, the writer / artist of Wolverine, and the artist of Amazing Spider-Man and ALAN MOORE’s YOUNGBLOOD.

Redlands_01-19. Redlands – Published by Image Comics, written by Jordie Bellaire, art by Vanesa R. Del Rey

A brand-new horror book from the minds of Eisner Award-winner JORDIE BELLAIRE (PRETTY DEADLY, Vision, Batman) and critically acclaimed artist VANESA R. DEL REY (ZERO, Scarlet Witch, Constantine) brings you to the sleepy, sunny town of Redlands, Florida. The police are failing to maintain control of their old-fashioned town, and a coven of killer witches plan to take everything from them. This summer, hide your bibles.

GodComplex_01-110. God Complex – Published by Top Cow, written by Paul Jenkins, Bryan Lie, art by Hendry Prasetya

In the futuristic city of Delphi, a young digital-forensics investigator named Seneca finds himself embroiled in the bizarre murders of three church acolytes. Guided by his cryptic mentor, the Ruler named Hermes, Seneca uncovers a stunning conspiracy and a mystery that will turn his entire world upside down. From writer PAUL JENKINS (Inhumans, Wolverine: Origin) and artist HENDRY PRASETYA (Mighty Morphin Power Rangers) comes a unique vision of a digital future powered by mythological gods.

‘Til next time,

Jessica