5 Favorites for June 2024: Practical Pens, a Purrworthy Plaything, and music to help you PUT FOOT TO TASK!

“5 Favorites” is a new feature here at Pixelvania Publishing. On the last Friday of every month, I’ll be posting 5 FAVORITE THINGS I’ve recently (or not-so-recently) enjoyed, in case you’re looking for something neat to experience.

โœ๏ธ Papermate InkJoy Ballpoint 700RT Retractable Ballpoint Pens

Everyday pen+

If you want an upgrade to your usual stick pen, consider this smoothie!

A few months back, I tried out a new pen–not for writing novels, but a cheap one for writing my Morning Pages.
I liked this new stick pen: I felt the ink wrote smoother than the Bics I previously used. BUT! the triangular barrel was an uncomfortable match with my hand’s grip–a dealbreaker for me (if a triangular grip won’t bother you, I strongly recommend this pen).

I browsed around and discovered they were using the same ballpoint ink in this multi-colored pen. I loved its chonky round barrel but I drained the black ink in, like, a WEEK. (I’m trying it out now for color coding things in my checkbook.)

Finally, I discovered this pen, the 700RT. Its white barrel is round (though not as chonky as the multi-colored pen, which I would have liked) and the ink is smooth and dark, same as those stick pens, but with a much comfier barrel. Bonus! No lid to lose!

๐Ÿพ The Original Cat Dancer Toy

A-meow-zing cat toy

I bought this and the “Pro-Model” Cat Dancer, which comes with a handle.
At 17 years of age (that’s like, 80-something in cat years), I thought Pixel J. Cat was totally OVER all toys…Then I brought the Cat Dancer into our house. He attacks it like he’s a kitten again, not just batting at it for close paw play, but bounding around me to attack! (Of course, I knew our soon-to-be-three-year-old cat Barnaby Jones would love it.)

The extra length on this model keeps the toy within the cats’ reach even when I’m standing upright. Or I can get down on the floor and play with them. Very versatile! It’s an extra-terrific toy for those with joint or mobility issues, because very little movement is needed to generate erratic, mesmerizing motions for the kitties.

My husband had an old screwdriver handle lying around and used epoxy to attach it to one end, which is what I’d recommend, because right now it doesn’t have much of a handle for the human. (I also bought the model with the handle, the “Pro” version, but the shorter length means it’s not half as versatile as the Original.) Highly recommended if you have a kitty!

โ—ป๏ธ Underground Blossom

Game. Steam, app stores

Somehow I missed that Rusty Lake put out a new game?? I really enjoyed UNDERGROUND BLOSSOM, it’s a gently spooky (and sometimes surreal-bizarro-funny) point-and-click puzzle game, one in a series I’ve enjoyed for years. Do I grok the lore? No. Do I have a great time when I click the right code and a fish drops out the end of a busker’s trumpet? YES.

I imagine it’s probably best played on your tablet but since my app store kept acting up, I got it on Steam and had just as much fun playing it on PC.

โ–ถ๏ธ Pogo Sticks (Animusic)

YouTube music video

Rad music with ’90s-PBS-trippy visuals. Easy for me to picture it playing after WHERE IN THE WORLD IS CARMEN SANDIEGO?

๐Ÿ“ป๐Ÿ‘Ÿ ONE. ANGRY. REPTILE. (The Anger Foot Medley)

Music (please note: thumbnail is very chaotic and contains stylized gore).

Can’t bring yourself to get a chore done? Assuming it’s not a cerebral chore (like balancing your bank account or writing thank you notes), throw on this tune and put FOOT. TO. TASK!! (Powered by the game Anger Foot.)

A Book Birthday Two-fer: A BUREAUCRAT turns 7 and a goat mage turns 4

I’ve got two book birthdays for you today!

Cover for THE CAPRAMANCER NEXT DOOR: A laughing woman wields a glowing shepherd's crook while a goat leaps through a portal overhead
For the fantasy fan, we have The Capramancer Next Door, which has become a reader favorite. It turns 4 this year! This is one of my favorite books to give to newcomers because it’s got adventure, comedy, and talking goats, and if you’re down with that, you’re probably game for my other work.

Get your copy of THE CAPRAMANCER NEXT DOOR

 

 

 

 

Cover to THE BUREAUCRAT - A creepy office worker stands grinning with blank eyes in front of a wall of spooky blank eyes.

Not into sweet and furry? Like Kafka more? You should check out my story The Bureaucrat: An Uncanny Satire. Especially if you’ve recently been trapped in a phone tree that made you want to punch a wall. This story can help you feel better (well, maybe not your fist, but your soul, sure).

Learn the fate of THE BUREAUCRAT

 

 

Book Birthday: Disturbing-yet-uplifting Christian horror short story THE ACCUSER is turning 1 today??!

The Accuser (cover) - A shadowy monster has its hands on a tough looking man in tattoos, seated in front of a bed. A cat sits besides the man.

Can you spot the kitty?

I think the long Crooked Neck Kickstarter and even longer work writing the second Fashion Frenchies novel has distorted my sense of time, because when my records showed this short story was only a year old I did a double-take.

Just a year ago(!), I published The Accuser, which is both an R-rated horror story and an uplifting Christian tale at the same time.

There’s also a kitty in it named Dozer. I based him a little off our cat, Pixel, in that they both have a history of frightening large dogs with a mere look. Dozer, however, is built like a bulldozer (hence the name), whereas Pixel (at 80-odd cat years old) looks at this point more like a furry orange basketball.

I digress.

This story hasn’t gotten much love since its release (probably because Amazon will NOT pull up this story if you use their search bar UNLESS you select the category โ€œKindle Storeโ€ first. Does that mean it’s shadowbanned? Heck if I know!).

If you’re a horror fan, don’t let the Christian stuff scare you, this is basically a biker dude and tough cat buddy story cranked to 11, with a little humor mixed in.

If you’re a Christian, don’t let the R-rating scare you, I promise it’s not just shock for the sake of being transgressive. It ends with warm fuzzies and might even build your testimony!

Get this short story and show a tough biker man and his little kitty buddy some love!

 

 

 

5 Favorites for May 2024: Helpful, Refreshing, and Funny!

“5 Favorites” is a new feature here at Pixelvania Publishing. On the last Friday of every month, I’ll be posting 5 FAVORITE THINGS I’ve recently (or not-so-recently) enjoyed, in case you’re looking for something neat to experience.

My May got wrecked by a nasty…cold? That kept me KO in bed and eepy-sleepy when I finally got to walking around. So some of these favorites are just going to be silly GIFs that gave me a smile while I was ill. I hope you enjoy them nonetheless.

๐Ÿณ Pots and Pans Organizer, Expandable Kitchen Organizer Rack Holder with 11 Dividers

Under Cabinet Storage for Pots, Pans, Lids, Bakeware

Grilling season is upon us, so maybe this item can make your side-dish-prepping life smoother.

I have a number of pots and pans that lived under a cabinet. By nesting them inside one another (using towels so they wouldn’t get scratched up), I was able to fit them all in the space I needed. Granted, I had to dig around all the time to get the pan I wanted, but it worked well enough.

Until I got a big honkin’ wok. Suddenly, I had to make more space inside that cabinet.

I did some research and finally picked this contraption. Install didn’t take long. And, true to the reviews, the actual gizmo was much smaller than I envisioned. But by the time I was done, all 7 of my previously stacked and nested pans were organized, with their lids, AND there was extra room to spare! I DON’T KNOW HOW I LIVED WITHOUT THIS BEFORE! My pans are so much easier to access and see! No more rummaging and knocking pans into one another!

So if you have some cookware languishing in a cabinet of chaos, I recommend you get this to help sort them out!

๐Ÿน Steven He’s Emotional Damage by GamerSupps

Instant beverage powder
Also comes in decaf!

I’m not the target audience for GamerSupps, but I’m in love with this flavor…it’s sort of a peach-strawberry concoction, and once I add a squeeze of lemon juice to add some tartness, it’s absolutely heavenly! I make one before my workouts to motivate me.

If you end up liking Supps, I recommend getting one of their shaker cups, since they mix the powder completely.

๐ŸŒฎ The Cube Rule

Food categorization rule???

I don’t know what this is
or even if I like it
but someone had to hear it

(Dedicated to Brooke.)

๐Ÿงœ๐Ÿปโ€โ™€๏ธ “Ursula is a businesswoman!”

Short video

One mom’s deliciously hot take on The Little Mermaid makes my heart explode with delight.

๐Ÿ˜บโœˆ๏ธ “Here comes the airplane!”

Cat vid, extra short

This adorable CAT is LIFE.

That’s all from me for now! I better go rest up cuz I’m STILL not feeling 100%. Have a wonderful rest of your May!

5 Favorites for April 2024: Sidesplitting, Savory, and Sneaky!

“5 Favorites” is a new feature here at Pixelvania Publishing. On the last Friday of every month, I’ll be posting 5 FAVORITE THINGS I’ve recently (or not-so-recently) enjoyed, in case you’re looking for something neat to experience.

Whew! Since the Crooked Neck Kickstarter ended, I’ve been busy fulfilling items for my backers. But I didn’t want to leave you hanging this month! Here’s five things I REALLY enjoyed in April 2024.

๐Ÿ“– The Africa Files (The LawDog Files Series 2)

(Ebook and Paperback, available at Amazon)

Okay, confession time. I haven’t actually read this book YET. But my husband read two excerpts to me and I laughed my head off both times. Now I’m waiting for my paperback copy to arrive so I can read it on paper. I don’t usually buy books but I already know I want to own this one!

The Africa Files are memoirs by a gentleman who goes by “LawDog”. This book is a collection of his memories of growing up in Africa. For example, when LawDog was a kid he and his brother accidentally trapped a honey badger in a hole they had dug.

If that does not intrigue you, I do not know what will.

If you enjoy the humor stylings of Dave Barry but have maybe read all of his books and have most of them memorized (not that I’d know anything about that…), you’ll probably want a copy for yourself.

๐Ÿ Chef Boyardee’s Spaghetti

(Recipe and educational history video)

After watching the Chef Boyardee episode of TASTING HISTORY WITH MAX MILLER, I had to try making the sauce myself. IT WAS INCREDIBLE. It both tasted like the canned sauce (which was a bit of a trip), but so much fresher and yummier, without a lot of extra effort.

Pro Tips:

  • Instead of crushing the tomatoes manually, I use a 28oz can of crushed tomatoes along with a 6 oz can of tomato paste. You can also use lightly dried basil (in the cold area) instead of buying super fresh if your home (like mine) is where fresh herbs go to die. (plz link store)
  • To do the carrots, I throw some baby carrots into a food processor and the blades turn it into flakes/chunks. That way I don’t have to buy regular carrots special and do all the knife work.

๐Ÿ‚โ–ถ๏ธ Gaming Historian: The Story of the Oregon Trail

(Documentary, YouTube)
A fantastically executed longform documentary about the making of the OREGON TRAIL video game. Chill, upbeat vibes and informative, too. I’ve enjoyed Gaming Historian’s videos in the past, but he’s really outdone himself with this one!

๐ŸŽฎ Batman: Arkham Asylum

(Game, Steam, and probably some other places)

I know, I know, I’m tardy to the party…But Arkham Asylum is everything I ever wanted a Batman game to be, full of action, actually fun(!) stealth and puzzling. Plus, Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill returning to voice Bats and Joker respectively? Be still my heart!

If you haven’t played it, I can’t recommend it enough (though it’s definitely PG-13/T-rated).

And I’ll just leave this here for the Deck users…

๐ŸŒถ๏ธ๐Ÿณ Lao Gan Ma Hot Chili Sauce

(Condiment) (My local grocery store carries it, though, so you may want to check yours before ordering online)

I heard about “chili sauce” a month or two ago. When I asked my husband to bring some home, he brought me this. At first I thought it was the wrong thing since the sauce was chunky…then I started eating it with eggs and now I CRAVE IT.

This sauce is not punishingly spicy, but it’s extremely flavorful–the crispy/chunky bits are soooo savory and yummy.

This has become my new favorite breakfast:

  1. I warm about 1 Tablespoon of the sauce in a small frying pan.
  2. Once it starts bubbling, I add 1-2 eggs, (fuming if I break a yolk because I like them over easy).
  3. While they cook, I spoon the sauce them gently.
  4. After the whites are set and I flip them (over easy, remember?), I serve them over some air-fryer roasted potatoes. (I tend to make a big batch of those and reheat them as needed.) The runny yolks plus the roasted-creamy potatoes and the crispy bits of the sauce…just heavenly!

 

My Kickstarter ends in a few hours!

Just a few hours left in the Kickstarter campaign for The Guests of Crooked Neck!

CROOKED NECK Kickstarter "Ending Soon" banner

If you’re a science fantasy fan looking for a dramedy that’s a little off the beaten path, you’ll want to pledge ASAP. Otherwise, you’ll have to wait till the wide release in November.

Back THE GUESTS OF CROOKED NECK now

Plus, if we reach our $550 stretch goal, every backer at every level will get an ebook copy of my lighthearted fantasy rom-com DEBUTS AND DRAGONS. (As of this writing, we’re very close, but not quite there!)

OR pledge $2 and grab one of my add-ons, like this adorable Jaguar habit tracker!

Please back or share with a science fantasy reader now! We’re close to hitting our stretch goal, but haven’t met it…YET!

And if you’ve backed already, THANK YOU!! I appreciate it!

5 Favorites for March 2024 (Belated!): Upbeat and squeaky-clean!

“5 Favorites” is a new feature here at Pixelvania Publishing. On the last Friday of every month, I’ll be posting 5 FAVORITE THINGS I’ve recently (or not-so-recently) enjoyed, in case you’re looking for something neat to experience.

Whoops! In all the Kickstarter and Easter excitement I forgot to post this on the correct day!

๐ŸŽฎ Regency Solitaire II

(Game: Itch.io, Steam) This game is my happy place. Cheery, gentle music, engaging solitaire play (with fun little tricks and twists), not at all taxing (versus, say, defeating a boss in TUNIC or something)…a cozy casual delight. Beware, though–it’s easy to get sucked in! ๐Ÿ˜€ …Just one more round…!

๐Ÿ’ค Manta sleep mask

https://mantasleep.com/

I didn’t go looking for a fancy sleep mask…but I was in the market for one since my last cheap one from Amazon was getting tired (no pun intended), the fabric splitting apart and whatnot. Then I watched a man reviewing his cat after one year and he advertised for this in the middle of the video. I half-listened…then, later that day, realized it might be an answer to my failing cheapo mask.
I bit the bullet and got it–and it’s a HUGE improvement over my little cheap one. The build quality is superb, it’s HYPER-customizable, and it doesn’t get near as hot on my face. If you like it 95-100% dark when you sleep and don’t like your eyelashes brushing anything when you wear a sleep mask, I recommend you try it. (Their LED-light-blocking stickers are also pretty great.)

โ–ถ๏ธ Jim Varney: The Original Viral Star

Upbeat and short YouTube documentary on the actor who played Ernest.

๐Ÿ‘• Gull Wing Drying Rack

From Amazon.

Okayokay. After almost 10 years, I upgraded from a shorty plastic drying rack for hanging clothes to this big boi and I’m in love with it. It holds an INCREDIBLE amount of laundry, including shoes (or, if you’re me, freshly-washed carpal tunnel braces that need air drying) and lay-flat items!!

You know what? Since we’re talking laundry upgrades, I’ll just suggest this, too.

๐Ÿงฆ Aluminum Square Hanger for Socks

From Muji

If you have socks (or bras! or swimsuits!) that dry better hanging, this fella holds A LOT of them in not much space!!

 

Stormy science fantasy novel THE GUESTS OF CROOKED NECK just funded on Kickstarter

Cover for THE GUESTS OF CROOKED NECK

Cover painted by the author

THE GUESTS OF CROOKED NECK, my latest novel and sequel to Steel City, Veiled Kingdom, just funded today on Kickstarter!!

Whoopee!

Thank you, backers!

If this story interested you, now’s a great time to back.

Here’s just 3 benefits you’ll get if you back Crooked Neck:

  1. You’ll get to read the book months before the general
    public.
  2. You’ll get discounts on other ebooks in this series.
  3. You’ll get the chance to actually OWN the original illustrations I drew for the book cover. I’m not offering these drawings anywhere else ever again! If they’re not spoken for by the end of the campaign, they’re going back in my archives!

Visit CROOKED NECK’S Kickstarter page

Thanks also to anyone who shares this link–it helps me out A TON!

 

Science fantasy fans craving compelling characters will love my new Kickstarter project!

Cover for THE GUESTS OF CROOKED NECK

Cover painted by the author

THE GUESTS OF CROOKED NECK, my latest novel and sequel to Steel City, Veiled Kingdom, launched Tuesday on Kickstarter!!

Meet a struggling holdout, a fearsome hivemind, and a SUPREMELY PUNCHABLE hustler in this imaginative dramedy set on a tropical world.

Back it now to read the ebook early, at a discount, PLUS get a bunch of digital goodies.

Not into sci-fi/fantasy? There are also cool add-ons, like tropical productivity printables, tutorials for aspiring artists and authors, and digital wildlife art featuring adorable jungle animals so you can still support the project and get something useful.

You can find out more about those add-ons, the story, and pledge levels over at Kickstarter.

Visit CROOKED NECK’S Kickstarter page

If you could pledge, I would love that (just $2 to get those printables!).

And it’d be FANTASTIC! if you could share the link to social media–that’d help me reach more potential readers, which is currently my biggest career challenge.

 

In chicken years, this book is 40 years old now!

Cover for "Hello, Wizard": Eerie blue flames burn a piece of parchment paper atop a stony background.

Everybody loves blue fire

Four years ago today, I published my dark fantasy short story Hello, Wizard with an ugly cover. (Last year, I changed that.)

Why am I mentioning chicken years with this book?

Because even though it’s a dark fantasy, there are chickens in it.

DISTURBING chickens.

That’s just the way I roll.

Find out what the heck chickens are doing in this short story