A Dessert For At-Home Sushi Makers…

I love rolling my own sushi at home! It’s fun and a great way to entertain if you are having guests over for dinner. And while we are quarantining (and even when not), it’s also just as perfect with family or simply solo.

I want to share a dessert I would make at the end of a sushi dinner which also involved using the rice and seaweed. Until now, I hadn’t thought of naming this dessert, so I guess I’ll just call it ‘Dessert Roll.’

Here’s what you do:

You’ll need a banana, mango, grapes, dark brown sugar (firmly packed), rum, and butter.

Any fruit variation can be substituted, but I found these three worked great. Mango and banana are key for the taste, but I sometimes substituted blueberries for the grapes if they were sweet enough. I strongly recommend using a fresh mango over buying the pre-sliced mango in the store. I don’t recommend orange slices (or apples), but the canned tangerines that were already sweetened are also nice.

In a pan, melt 1/4 cup butter and 1/2 cup brown sugar, then add about 1/3 cup rum. Stir and heat with the rum added, but don’t boil. The rum is not necessary, just adds a nice kick. You can add less if you wish. Substitution for the rum is banana liqueur or I bet the rum extract might work, but I haven’t tried it myself. If desired, you can also add a tiny pinch of ground cinnamon. Basically you are making a version of banana’s foster sauce.

Once the sauce is to your taste, set it aside and prepare a sheet of seaweed on your roller and add a thin layer of rice. Slice the banana into long thin slices about 1/2 inch wide. I cut mine the way green beans are cut. Slice your mango the same, and cut your grapes in half.

Lay your banana, mango, and grapes on the rice (stacking them works best) and roll it just like you would your regular sushi roll, then slice. Use your rum-buttered-brown sugar sauce for dipping and enjoy!! If your guests weren’t already full before hand, they will be after these.

Make sure to use your chopsticks!

Bittersweet Symphony, the movie

Last night as I climbed into bed, I clicked through my Amazon Fire apps to see what new movies I wanted to add to the “watchlist” and came across a movie with Jennifer Grey and Suki Waterhouse called Bittersweet Symphony (2019)…

Ya’ll! Ya’llllllll…..

I haven’t seen JG since Dirty Dancing and it was my first time watching Suki Waterhouse, and I was on the edge of my seat from the get-go.

There was more than one story going on. SW’s character, Iris, appeared to be creating the music for a movie (I wasn’t clear on that one but a movie was involved) and was having difficulties with writer’s block. Her agent sends over music legend JG’s character, Eleanor, who happens to be Iris’s idol…but it appears Eleanor had already spotted Iris and maybe had plans of her own. (I’m pretty sure Suki Waterhouse was really singing but I haven’t checked as I write this, but either way, I loved the folksy songs)

What mesmerized me was the interaction between the two. Excellent deliverance of lines…showing all the awkward and vulnerable things that occur when one meets their idol and each is feeling a little something toward the other, meanwhile there is an age gap and IDK, should we? shouldn’t we? I simply loved watching Jennifer and Suki nail it as they danced through all their scenes together, talking over one another, trying to find their tongue in groove fit.

Meanwhile, Iris (Suki) is having a horrible family crisis as her mom returns home from the hospital with devastating news. This other story brings us together with the rest of the characters who easily become family to the viewer. I won’t give it all away, but I found this part of the story just as endearing as the exchange between JG’s Eleanor and Suki’s Iris.

And to top it off, Jennifer Grey looks more stunning than ever.

I’ll admit I couldn’t take my eyes off of Eleanor’s sister, “Abbs”, played by model/actress Poppy Delevingne…

If you have the chance to watch it, I’d love to hear your thoughts also, in the comments below! 🙂

Just Like That! (How I went from being bored with my MC to can’t stop writing)

At nearly fifteen thousand words in, and at the cusp of the first big turning point for my story, I lost my will to move forward.

Often when I am writing I struggle not to rush right into the first big revelation or turning point, where things start to unfold, make sense, and get juicy. I can feel myself breathing into the turns, gripping the wheel (er, pen…ok, keyboard) to maintain a smooth transition from introduction of key characters to revealing the belly of the story.

I could not wait to get from “this is Sue” to “see Sue run”. I even gave myself permission to cut some of the background stuff out, figuring I could add it later in dialogue, etc. But dammit if I didn’t start bringing in the good stuff and find myself hating the content!

I’ve experienced writer’s block before, but this was more along the lines of a lack of interest in my main character. I was writing too many words without feeling and it was crippling my normal urges to keep going. This bummed me out because I had been waiting for several months to even begin this story…

So here is what I’ve done, and it has been like a new fire in my spirit: I changed the p.o.v. of my story. From conception, I was determined the story needed to be told in 3rd person. I hadn’t been able to imagine it in any other way. But this morning I saved a copy of my original story then did a “find & replace” of all the times I used the MC’s name and replaced it with “I”. And so, first person it is!

I now have the task of changing all the pronouns to match my new first person modification, but while doing so I am hearing the story in a completely new light. And since I like to do revisions every ten pages or so, it gives me the chance to make them with a fresh pair of eyes.

I now feel more in tune with my MC. I’m also not worrying about head hopping, as I am tempted to do when I write in 3rd person.

I hope this provides a tip for you to try the next time you find yourself suddenly without interest in your main character. Since this particular story entails yucky things, I will enjoy the challenge of working through them as I write from “I” and not “she”. I don’t know about you but it’s played tricks on me in the past when I find it difficult to make my characters do things I wouldn’t personally do.

What do you do to fall in love with your characters again?

**Featured image photo credit to Bongkarn Thanyakij**

Phoebe Waller-Bridge: Killing Eve, Fleabag, Crashing…

I’m just going to say it here…I frigging love her work! Tonight, season 3 of Killing Eve started (don’t worry, no spoilers here), and I am beyond excited.

After watching S.3-E1, all I can say is, “Holy sh@t, I didn’t see that coming!”

As a writer, I can’t help but to obsessively watch, re-watch, break down, over analyse, and then desperately try to find someone to discuss characters with. And I’m not one who reads or watches a broad range of books/movies – well…I might be able to say I watch a broad range of movies, but I definitely don’t read as much as I wish I was read. Like, I wish I was really well read, but sadly, I’m not... I am working on it though.

With that said, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed attempting to break down the many faces of Villanelle. And by faces, I mean literally. Jody Comer is masterful at expressions. Between heartless and hopeful lies a rainbow of moods that switch in a blink by a simple movement of her eyebrow, the tiniest flinch of her mouth, the sudden watering of her eyes. And speaking of eyes, Sandra Oh would never have to speak another word and could still get her message across.

I’m not here to review Killing Eve. I’m simply here to express how brilliant the show is and to exclaim my super happiness to have season 3 with us! And to express my love for Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s masterful mind!! You are my writing shero. Rock on, sis!

Writing About Dark and Evil Things: How are you coping with the "real" world outside while creating horror in your head?

Moving away from love and fate (well, somewhat sort of), I am currently writing something more dark and sinister. I’ve recently received notice that my workplace (I’m a barber) has been ordered to shut down for the next 30 days for the corona virus pandemic we are facing.

My first thought – before assessing my finances and refrigerator – was: Thirty days of undisturbed writing??? Yessss!

For the last month I’d been gathering info, creating charts, getting to know my central characters (Jessica and Meghan), and researching the hell out of things I can’t tell you about yet.

It takes mental exercises to get oneself into the mindset of writing about things that make people cringe, shudder, and shake. And I haven’t even gotten to the scary parts yet. But in-spite of all the prepping, there isn’t much going on outside my window that feels all that better from the mode I put myself in while writing my book. Yes, it is two different ‘genres’: the real world pandemic and my made-up disturbing story, but I confess the weight of both sides of my universe is heavy.

So I am blogging to see how other dark writers are maintaining mental balance in this time?

My personal actions have been this:

  1. Create a schedule: Organize free time by scheduling writing time -and all else. When you have the whole day to yourself (as I do), it is helpful to separate ‘creative mood’ from ‘the rest of the day mood’. Normally going to work or pottery class does this for me. But now I found myself not getting out of ‘creative mood’ and going to bed with feelings of burden and my stomach in knots. Not a good way to fall asleep or start a day.
  2. I’m not getting any kudos or am affiliated in any way with her, but this girl is saving my life in so many ways. 30 Days of Yoga is so cool!!!! And I suck at yoga, but it’s ok! So if you are worried that 14 days of isolation is going to turn into 14 lbs, try this video as she teaches you yoga and helps improve your mind and body. Namaste ya’ll.
  3. Super cleaning my house: Fun, right? Well, believe it or not it really can be in a time like this. I have scheduled an hour a day of cleaning (along with really loud music) and it’s a great feeling when I walk into an area that I know has been cleaned from the floor up. Every table and chair leg, every inch of anything in view… just one hour is all I spend so it’s not overwhelming. It’s a nice feeling of accomplishment.
  4. Fresh air: If there is a place to walk, I walk it. A school track, a trail in the woods.
  5. Vitamins!!! I can’t believe how good I feel on those. I was never a vitamin taker and started doing so to boost my immune system. Good stuff!
  6. Watch movies, read, listen to audio books: I love movies as much as I love writing. It didn’t take long for me to fill up on movies, so during my time home so far, I have been setting aside two hours in the evening (which means going to bed earlier than usual) to read from one or two books. It’s been fun to see what my indie family have been writing about and supporting them. I’m also including well known books that I never looked at before. I have to say it has been a rewarding experience to get involved in another author’s works. I’m going to confess something I feel embarrassed about… growing up, I avoided reading books while I wrote because I feared that I would see something similar to my own ideas and I would become disheartened that I hadn’t thought of it first (or that someone would think I stole the idea). Silly, I know. I didn’t want to know if others wrote about the same thing, and I didn’t want to have their stories in my mind as I wrote mine… But that’s not my case anymore. I have a lot of reading to catch up on 🙂
  7. Turn off the news and stay off of Facebook: This is probably the smartest choice I made. I can fill my space with better things right now when I stay off or severely limit my time on FB. I refuse to watch any big news stations and keep everything local. Politics has no business in this health crisis, yet “some people” can only give information coated with a political opinion. I’d love to see a huge boycott of the big news corps until they stop their b.s…

So, writers of the dark and deadly… what are you doing to manage your psyche while writing of dark and creepy things during this time? Even without the pandemic, what are your secrets to keeping a healthy mind?