Shit I’m Digging: The 2020 Edition

Well, hellloooooooooooo there! New year who dis?

If this is your first time visiting my blog, welcome! If you’ve visited in the past and wondered WTF happened to me and why I went radio silent, mild depression coupled with disillusionment and 2020 happened. Mid-December 2019 was a glorious time period. My mental health was back on track, and self-care was working in my favor. I was done with my VP of Communications position on the board of RWA-NYC. I was looking forward to my Christmas vacation and spending time with my family. I was super excited about the next steps and plans the incoming board wanted to put forth concerning our chapter. Peeps, the ladies on our board were ambitious in all the best ways possible. Our chapter was doing phenomenally, and it was only going to get better until RWA-National imploded. Well, it didn’t, but it did.

If you weren’t on the interwebz during this time, count yourself grateful you missed the cray. Those last two weeks of December are mostly missing from my memory bank, and I’m pretty sure I spent about 6-7 hours of the day on Twitter trying to keep up with all the bullshit. There’s no sense in rehashing any of it because the past is the past, and those days are behind us, but because of choices I didn’t agree with made by the President and the Board of Directors, I left the organization. It wasn’t the right fit for me moving forward, and it didn’t represent my values as a Black woman writer. 

C’est la vie. You live, you learn, you grow.

Fast forward… there’s a new National board now, and there are many great women I know and love serving on the board. I wish them well, and I truly want them to succeed as I know RWA 2.0 can be amazing if they’re allowed the space to showcase their creativity and implement lasting change. I wish them nothing but the best. 

So, in a nutshell, that was the end of 2019. 

2020 came in like a wrecking ball, and I was ready to start anew! I took a trip to Atlantic City to see Lisa Lisa, Jody Watley, and Taylor Dayne in concert in February. BUCKET LIST ACHIEVEMENT UNLOCKED! During Super Bowl weekend, to be exact. Pro tip: Don’t ever travel to Atlantic City during Super Bowl weekend. The regret that comes on Monday morning ain’t worth it. Anywho, if you missed all the fun, there are pics and videos on my Instagram account. Check ‘em out!

Then… the COVID-19 pandemic hit.

I started working from home the second week of March, which was a HUGE adjustment. I work in medical research, and I basically couldn’t do 50% of my job because we had no idea how to handle COVID+ patients. Information wasn’t widely available, and the shitshow that was 45’s administration wasn’t much help. I stumbled at first, but eventually, I managed to find a groove. I returned to work in June, far more knowledgeable and armed with PPE.

Let’s not talk about the mental toll work and being isolated from friends, and family members took on me… hell, on a lot of us. Blogging was the absolute last thing I wanted to do. But I’m back now… and I’m going to try my best to interact with my audience more (hey audience, haaaay 👋). So, without further ado, here are some of the things I enjoyed in 2020 that filled me with joy:  

Books

Kennedy Ryan’s Queen Move

THIS WAS MY FAVORITE READ OF 2020. I’m late to the Kennedy Ryan game y’all. I’ve heard she was a talented writer, but listen, the way this woman weaves a sentence is *chefs kiss.* If you follow me on Goodreads, you can read my rambling gushy review here.

Katee Robert’s A Touch of Taboo Series

I never knew how much I liked Daddy kink until I read Katee Robert. Your Dad Will Do was definitely my favorite of the three-book series, but you can’t go wrong with Katee’s brand of erotic romance.

Sidney Bell’s Bad Judgment

It’s been a long while since I’ve read an M/M romance, and it’s usually my jam, but I hadn’t found one I connected with. Welp, Sidney Bell changed that. Embry and  Brogan’s opposites attract schtick kept me engaged. Bad Judgment is a fantastic debut and because I loved it so much, I also bought Sidney Bell’s entire backlist and pre-ordered her latest release, This is Not the End, which dropped earlier this month. It’s a poly love story. Whew. 😍 

Tracey Livesay’s Sweet Talkin’ Lover

If you’re into Hallmark movies, I dare you to read this book and not imagine it on your TV screens. Tracey has created a wonderful story and what’s sure to be a fantastic series. I’ve been waiting to get to book two in the Girls Trip series, but life won’t let me be great! I’m looking forward to cuddling up with Like Lovers Do the minute I get an extended period of free time.

Mia Sosa’s The Worst Best Man

I needed to laugh when I picked up Mia’s book. I had no idea how much it would brighten my day. Heck, my life! I love a messy story, and Carolina, the heroine, is up to her eyeballs in a mess. When I finished reading the book, I tweeted Mia telling her I could totally envision this story on Netflix, and I guess someone was listening because… WUT?!  Y’ALL, I HOLLERED WHEN I READ THIS ARTICLE! IF YOU WISH FOR THINGS THE UNIVERSE COMES THROUGH, NEXT UP THAT MILLION DOLLARS I’VE BEEN PATIENTLY WAITING ON. I couldn’t be happier for Mia. Now, grab the book and get a taste of the goodness before it comes to the small screen.


Visit my Goodreads shelf to see what other books brought me joy in 2020!

Music

I could be here all day. ALL DAY. According to Spotify, I discovered 284 new artists and 367 genres, with 85 new to me. When I tell you music is my life, it’s 100% true. Here are some songs that got me through 2020. They either made me dance or get words on the page. I count both as wins! 

Savage Remix - Megan Thee Stallion ft Beyoncé 

Don’t Start Now - Dua Lipa

Fue Mejor - Kali Uchis, PARTYNEXTDOOR

Peppers and Onions - Tierra Whack

Dive - Victoria Monét

Damage - H.E.R.

Toxic - Kehlani

Man - JoJo

Ungodly Hour - Chloe x Halle

WAP - Cardi B. ft Megan Thee Stallion

Of course, I made a Spotify Playlist! 

Honorable Mentions:

Black Parade - Beyoncé 

Rain on Me - Lady Gaga ft Ariana Grande

These songs aren’t on the playlist, but both are worth a stream!

Fave Albums of 2020:

Lianne La Havas’ Self-Titled Album - Listening to this album is like injecting pure happiness into your veins. It’s beautiful. 

Fiona Apple’s Fetch the Bolt Cutters - I’ve been a Fiona stan from day one. I’ve missed her so much. The production on this album is magnifique!  

TV

Who wasn’t glued to their television throughout most of 2020? Streaming services gave us some reprieve, and I was finally able to watch shows I’d been putting off forever.

Absentia - I had no idea what I was in for when I started streaming this show, but if psychological thrillers are your catnip, indulge! You can find it on Amazon Prime.

Bones - I’ve been a David Boreanaz superfan since his Buffy the Vampire Slayer days (#teamANGELforever), and I was curious about him playing an FBI agent. I now have an odd fascination with forensic anthropology. You can stream Bones on Hulu and Amazon Prime.

Steven Universe - This cartoon saved me, and that’s not an over-exaggeration. The news got pretty heavy in 2020. Between the administration’s oppressive antics, the killing of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, and countless other Black people by police, something had to give. Whenever I wanted to curl up into a ball and cry, I’d stream Steven Universe on Hulu. It’s the most lovely and queer-friendly cartoon ever. Also, the songs are bangin’. LOL, I even have a Steven Universe playlist I listen to on Spotify when I want a mood boost. You can find the series streaming on Hulu and HBO Max. HBO Max only has the first three seasons, but they also have the Steven Universe movie I only found out about while writing this post. I know what I’m doing later!

Hannibal - I watched this over Christmas break, and this show made me FURIOUS. F-U-R-I-O-U-S.😤🤬 Mads Mikkelsen was superb as Hannibal Lecter, and Hugh Dancy played the hell out of Will Graham. I truly hope now that it’s airing on Netflix, they will revive it for a fourth season. The possibilities are endless. You can stream the series on Netflix or Amazon Prime. Fun fact, the brightness has been turned up on Netflix, so you can actually see most of what’s happening.

Designated Survivor - Who needs more politics? I DO! I’ve been a Kiefer Sutherland fan since 24, and I enjoyed Maggie Q in Nikita. I wanted to see how well they worked together. Verdict? Designated Survivor was great when it was on ABC, HORRIBLE when Netflix revived it. Watch the first two seasons and skip the third. Trust me. Now streaming on Netflix.

Evil -  This show is batshit. Most anything Michael Emerson stars in is bound to be batshit. If you watched Lost and remember him as Ben, you know exactly what I mean. Evil is now streaming on Netflix, and apparently, season two is filming. I’m very intrigued because that season one ending was a whole lot of WTF and HUH?!?!

Rise of the Nazis - If you have PBS Passport, I highly suggest watching this. The service is worth it, and the amount of great content you can stream is jaw-dropping. Rise of the Nazis is a three-part series that keeps you on edge with the bated breath despite knowing how it ends. Experts weigh in and share commentary on how Hitler rose to power. What’s scary is how eerily close the United States was (is since the GOP is still complicit) in following in Germany’s footsteps. You can purchase the episodes on iTunes or stream them via PBS if you donate $60 or more to your local station. Again, you get so much bang for your buck, and you’re contributing to the arts. That alone earns you cool points.

Hacking Your Mind Us vs. Them - Again, another PBS gem. This documentary shows how easily influenced people are by the media and the internet. It’s fascinating and explains a heck of a lot when it comes to how people get sucked into conspiracy theory rabbit holes. The episode can be purchased on iTunes or streamed through the PBS app/website with Passport access.

The Blacklist - This show truly is a thrill ride, and although season seven was cut short due to the pandemic, it was still highly entertaining and extremely creative! You can stream the series on Netflix.

Barry - I never imagined I’d be interested in this show, but Bill Hader is truly a delight. Episode five of season two made me laugh so hard I started hyperventilating.😂  I’m sure my neighbors thought a demon or something possessed me. You can stream Barry on HBO Max.

Honorable Mentions:

Ballers - I blew through all five seasons of this show. I have issues with some of the storylines and how Black women are portrayed, but the Rock and Rob Corddry were a great team.

Big Little Lies - PEEPS, THIS LIMITED SERIES WAS AMAZEBALLS!!! Terrific casting, great soundtrack. I highly recommend watching it.

You can stream Ballers, and Big Little Lies on HBO Max.


And that’s all, folks! May your streaming adventures in 2021 be entertaining and bountiful with fantastic discoveries! May the books you read keep you distracted and full of joy. The year is off to an interesting start. It may very well be a repeat of 2020, but this time, we have an idea of what to expect. With that said, take care of yourselves as best you can. 

Live, laugh, love, and please get your COVID-19 vaccination when it’s available to you.  ❤️


Release Day Author Spotlight: Joanna Shupe

PEEPS, WHAT A WEEK! 😭 

IT’S ONLY MONDAY BUT IT FEELS LIKE EIGHTY-THREE YEARS HAVE PASSED SINCE LAST MONDAY. Just when you thought 2019 couldn’t possibly get any crazier, the Romance Writers of America pulled a “hold my beer” moment. If you haven’t caught up with all that’s transpired, might I suggest starting here? BE FOREWARNED ISSA LOT. In any case, Joanna has a book out today, so let’s focus on her, shall we? What we need right is a whole lot of love, and she’s got the perfect remedy if you’re feeling out of sorts. She’s truly a fabulous woman who deserves all your coins! 

Take it away, Joanna…

I always find author interviews kind of boring. We only get to see one side of an author, the polite side. If you had an evil doppelganger, what detail about you would they enjoy revealing to the public that people would find surprising and possibly questionable?    

I am ridiculously lazy. Like, ridiculous. My entire family teases me about everything being “just good enough.” I am by no means a perfectionist. I’ve always wished I could have a little more attention to detail, but I was perfectly content to get B’s in school.

Finish this sequence:

I’m good at sports

I’d like to learn the piano.

I’d like to meet Michelle Obama.

When was the first time you felt sexy? 

Not until my mid-twenties, probably, when I matured enough to realize that no one cared about the size of my thighs or butt.  

How do you prioritize when you have an overwhelming amount to do? 

I’m a list maker. It has to be on paper, not electronic. And written in all caps.

What’s the best book you read this year? 

I think the book that has stayed with me the longest this year, the one I could just cry even thinking about, is Kennedy Ryan’s LONG SHOT. I rarely write fan letters to authors, but I had to write to her as soon as I finished it. What bravery and poetry Kennedy has in her soul. She just pours it onto the page, and I am in awe.

Share a quote that you love, and that gives you strength and peace. 

“Comparison is the thief of joy.” Be happy for others. Their success does not make you a failure.

What should it cost to rent Central Park for commercial purposes? 

One hundred billion dollars. It was designed as a public space and should never be used by corporations or developed in any way.

What are your top three albums of the 90s? **Btw I love how Joanna was like, “Screw your rules. Nobody puts me in a corner! I SAID WHAT I SAID, HARPER! FIVE IT IS.”**

I narrowed it down to 5: Fiona Apple, Tidal; Pearl Jam, Ten; Soundgarden, Superunknown; Liz Phair, Exile in Guyville; Beastie Boys, Ill Communication.

How old were you when you learned about the birds and the bees? 

Probably 5th grade, and it wasn’t from my parents! 

Which do you think should have the final say in decisions - logic or emotions, and why? 

Logic. That’s why some people struggle to believe facts…because they don’t WANT to believe them. Or believing a fact makes them feel bad. If you rely on only emotion, you can be easily manipulated, lied to. Tricked. Vaccines are a perfect example, how the link to autism has been disproven many times over. Yet many people still choose to believe it. Science and reason aren’t always perfect, but it is the best information available at the time. 

**Bonus Question**

Ever tried BDSM? If not, would you?

I am always up for anything, as long as all parties consent. When I met my husband, he didn’t have a goody drawer; he had a goody closet. That was when I knew he was a keeper! Me after reading this response: 👀😏😂  That’s a good man.


Bio:

Award-winning author JOANNA SHUPE has always loved history, ever since she saw her first Schoolhouse Rock cartoon. In 2013, Joanna won Romance Writers of America’s Golden Heart® Award for Best Historical. Since then, her books have appeared on numerous yearly “best of” lists, including Publishers Weekly, The Washington Post, Kirkus Reviews, Kobo, and BookPage.

She currently lives in New Jersey with her two spirited daughters and dashing husband.


Social Media:

Website

Instagram

Facebook

Twitter


Books:

Activate your one-click finger and snuggle up with Joanna’s latest release, The Prince of Broadway


Shit I’m Digging This Week: Volume Eight

Hey Folks,

Happy #GivingTuesday! Its been a while since I’ve done one of these posts, but it made sense to compile one with the Christmas holiday quickly approaching. Many of you will undoubtedly have lots of free time to binge-watch new shows in addition to clearing out your TBR pile. Allow me to share a couple of things I’ve enjoyed the hell out of as of late; they just might become your next obsession too! Get ready for some pop culture deliciousness…


Watchmen

I abruptly canceled my HBO Go subscription after Game of Thrones concluded, and I had no guilt over doing so. Eight fucking years of my life wasted. If you can’t tell, I’m still very bitter about the final season, LOL. #shadefordays #Benihoff&Weisscansuckit

Maybe they’ll win me back someday (I doubt it), but crazier things have happened. I’m giving Damon Lindelof a second chance after the fiasco that was Lost. Watchmen is his redemption.

Anywho, my internet provider had free previews for HBO over Thanksgiving weekend, and I decided to stream Watchmen. I read the series some years ago, so of course, it made absolute sense to plow through all six episodes. I finished just in time to catch episode seven on Sunday night. The Dr. Manhattan twist at the end was everything. REGINA KING, y’all. 🗣️I SAID REGINA KING! I will watch anything with that woman at the helm. Even if you’re not a fan of graphic novels, you want to tune in to this show. It’s incredibly relevant to our current political climate. Watch the trailer below for a great summary of what you’re in for. Did I mention the badass casting? If Jeremy Irons is included, you already know it’s going to be off the charts.


Books

Being Neighborly by Meka James

If you follow me on Goodreads, you know I’ve been on a reading streak as of late. I’m primarily a non-fiction reader, but I’ve been trying to work my way through my romance backlist and keep up with what’s current. Back in July at the RWA National conference, I acquired a USB stick from Carina Press with upcoming releases. Meka James’ Being Neighborly was one of the books on the stick. I love a good novella. I love a dirty novella even more, and Meka hits my sweet spot. Peeps, this novella was so lovely! It’s published under Carina’s Dirty Bits line, and it lives up to the category. Jesslyn catches her neighbor Ryan masturbating, and hijinx ensue. Looooooved this so much. Mutual masturbation romances are my jam. *bow chica wow wow*😏

Pumpkin Pounder by Laura Lovely

If you haven’t read Laura’s work, you’re missing out. If you haven’t had the opportunity to meet this lady, you’re also missing out. SHE IS FANTASTIC. If pure and wholesome fun were to ever manifest in human form, it would take the shape of Laura. Pumpkin Pounder is the second book I’ve read of hers, and it was just as enjoyable as the first. Daisy is a gal who loves her some red-headed men. When she encounters Jack on Halloween night, things get very interesting. Also, I haven’t come across many novellas where the MC is in therapy. Laura wrote the scene with a lot of care, and I’m here for it. Give this woman all the stars, folks. 

California Secrets by Jules Bennett

I am not one for category romance, but lately, I’ve been devouring books from the Harlequin Desire line. Rarely do I come across a book written by a white author who writes her black heroine with a sense of purpose. Jules made Harper (yes, the heroine’s name is Harper 😁) three-dimensional. The lady has layers, and I adored her. Of course, being that it’s a Harlequin book, tropey goodness abounds. 

✔Evil relative 

✔Accidental pregnancy 

✔Revenge by any means necessary

Dive in! I promise it’s worth every moment of your time. Also, THAT COVER. YAAASSS!

These Engaging Articles

Now that I’ve discovered Flipster, I am alllllll over catching up on my favorite magazines. My wallet is also happy since I no longer have to renew my subscriptions. Here are a couple of interesting articles I’ve read the past couple of weeks:

Social Media Habits to Give Up in 2020 
Sterling K. Brown Wants the Conversation Around Diversity to Shift from ‘Inclusion’ to ‘Celebration’ 
Lin-Manuel Miranda on The Role of the Artist in the Age of Trump
Looking Back at a Decade of The Fame Monster, the Album That Made Me Gay

*Couldn’t list the last article without the visual accompaniment of Bad Romance. You need to see the video to really understand the beginning of the article in context*


Jack Ryan

I’m a person who bitterly subscribes to Amazon Prime. Not for the quick shipping but for the vast amount of TV shows and movies the Zon has on tap. I’m not particularly into many of the original series, but Jack Ryan has sold me on the power of Tom Clancy. I mean, technically, Harrison Ford did this years ago when he starred in the role, but John Krasinski reinvigorated my interest. If you’re a fan of espionage, government conspiracies, and lots and lots of action, you’ll want to dive in. The plot for both Season One and Season Two is outstanding. Check out the trailer for Season Two below!


Showing Support

Lastly, as I mentioned above, it’s Giving Tuesday! Who doesn’t love giving? (Aside from the political demons who tirelessly work at trying to take healthcare away and think locking children up in cages is appropriate, but I digress). I donate not for tax purposes, although the write off is nice, but because it feels good to do good deeds for people and organizations in need. Organizations that try their damnedest to honor and uphold the truth. In case you’re looking for suggestions on where to lend your support, might I recommend: 

Reveal | from the Center for Investigative Reporting

The New York Public Library (you can choose which branch you’d like your donation to assist)

Southern Poverty Law Center

PBS: Public Broadcasting Service

And this concludes shit I’m diggin’ this week. See you in a couple of weeks for my year in review. Till next time, folks! 😉

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