Internet Woes, #AmReading, and #AmWatching

Our internet was down for the majority of last week.  Some websites took over 45 minutes to load and others I just gave up on.  Streaming Netflix or Prime was out of the question.  It took several hours of speaking to 9 different AT&T reps spanning Tuesday through Saturday before the problem was resolved.  The first 7 told me they couldn’t help me at all and transfered me from one department to another.  What it all came down to was when I received help via esupport chat a couple weeks ago, the rep made our WiFi modem into a cell phone, voice only.  Not by my request, obviously.  It’s a complicated story that makes absolutely no sense.  However, my new best friend is AT&T rep Michelle from Oklahoma City who got me up and running on Saturday in about 20 minutes.  I was on hold for 30 minutes before I got her, but she was well worth the wait.  Now I have lots of blog visits to catch up on.

Over the weekend, I finished A Boy Named Rabbit by Marcia Meara.  And I want to join the family in that book.  It was the perfect heart-warming, feel good read to take my mind off everything going on in the world right now.  Other readers have commented on how much they loved Rabbit, and I fell head over heels for him.  I still need to write the review, but it absolutely will be a 5 star!

Now that we have WiFi again, hubby and I were able to watch more NYPD Blue on Prime.  I watched the series when it was on years ago, but he never did – and he loves it.  We’re still in the first season, and it’s just as fantastic for me watching it a second time.  We’re also watching Ride with Norman Reedus (Daryl from TWD).  Hubby isn’t a fan of The Walking Dead, but he enjoys Norman’s motorcycle adventures with guests as he visits different states and countries learning about the local culture and sampling some pretty tasty food.  It’s on late night Sundays, so we DVR it.

Friends, we’re one week closer to the end of this pandemic.  Everyone take care and stay healthy!

 

 

#SubjectA36 Sequel, Critique Groups, and Discerning Eaters

Now that Subject A36 has been released, it’s time to focus on the sequel.  I attempted NaNo (and epically failed), but knew I wouldn’t win this time.  My goal was to check in with my characters and hear their thoughts three months after Subject A36 ended, which is where the sequel picks up.  They told me in around 9K words.  Today, I start my own kind of NaNo.  My plan is to re-read what I’ve already written – I haven’t opened the file since November – and go from there.  I’ve been jotting down ideas and have a good bit of the story in my head, but it’s time to strap in and get started.

How many of you belong to critique groups or have a critique partner?  I’ve never had one, but SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators) started a chapter locally several months ago, and I’m meeting with my group for the first time in a couple weeks.  Which is another reason I need to get down to business with the new book.  Neither of the other two writes YA or reads YA to my knowledge, so I don’t know if that will be a factor, but I’m eager to see where this goes.

Hubby and I just finished season 3 of Jon Favreau’s The Chef Show on Netflix.  If you’re a foodie, I recommend it.  The first season, some of his guests were Marvel actors he’s directed.  When it comes to food, there are four basic things I don’t care for – mustard (the smell makes me sick), mayo, peppers, and onions.  Now, imagine you’re me in a restaurant perusing the menu.  Trust me when I say those four ingredients are usually included in about 80% of the offerings.  Many times, onions aren’t even listed as an ingredient, so I always have to ask.  While watching The Chef Show as yet more peppers and onions were added to a dish, I remarked to hubby how it seems like chefs could be a bit more creative and not rely on those four things so often.  He disagreed, of course – he’s a fan of all four.  Maybe I should issue a personal challenge to chefs everywhere to create more dishes for people like me.  We’re discerning, not picky.

Happy Reading and Writing this week!

Our #Canada Trip and #PennedCharleston

So, we’re back from Canada after a long weekend in Calgary.  We lucked out with the weather.  According to a couple of Canadians, we arrived just in time for their heat wave with temps in the low to mid 40s.  And I was fine with that.

We had such a wonderful time!  On Friday, after a tasty dinner at an oyster house, I saw my first hockey game between the Calgary Flames and the Boston Bruins.  Four goals were scored in the first five minutes, so that was really exciting.  I also got to see the obligatory fight between players – also exciting.  The whole game wasn’t red, that was just the pre-game lighting.

Saturday involved a trip to Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise.  What a gorgeous place.  My son warned me the hotel reminded him a little of The Overlook Hotel in The Shining.  And he wasn’t kidding.  With snow blowing sporadically and several snow drifts around it, the resemblance was more than passing.  Stunning ice sculptures were also displayed around the grounds.  The lake was frozen over and people were playing hockey, pulling their kids around on sleds, and generally just having a fantastic time.  That’s hubby and me in front of the hotel and my son and his girlfriend in front of an ice sculpture.

From there, we went to Banff and enjoyed walking around the town (left) before enjoying another scrumptious dinner.

After a memorable brunch on Sunday (a perfect day for grilled cheese and tomato soup), we enjoyed a brewery tour and visited three different distilleries.  I like beer, but don’t drink it that often.  My preference is a dark beer, but I sampled everything on this tour and discovered I’m not an IPA girl.  Didn’t care for any of them.  Maybe there are some out there I’d enjoy, but I have yet to meet them.

Something hubby and I both commented on was how downright nice Canadians are.  Everyone we encountered was polite, helpful, and eager to share information about their city.  Our son will most likely be moving there in the next six months or so, and we’re thrilled to have the opportunity to visit again.

If you’re in the Charleston, SC area this weekend, I’ll be signing books at Penned Charleston.  We lived in SC for many years, but I haven’t been to Charleston in quite a while, so I’m really excited to experience the city (and food!) again and meet some new readers.

Email Black Hole, Canada, and Furkid Friday

Last week was some week.  I’m still tired.  Releasing a book is exciting, but also exhausting.  And then there was the whole Gmail debacle where I lost around 200 emails on release day – that’s always a good feeling.  They just disappeared out of my inbox and weren’t in my trash.  Out there in cyberspace or that inbetween world where all the socks go that never return from the dryer.  Luckily, I have a techie friend (thanks, Susan!) who immediately came over and helped me find them.  We still have no idea what happened.  Four hours of my life I’ll never get back.

Moving on to less stressful things, hubby and I are traveling with our oldest son to Canada to visit his girlfriend and her parents.  This will be my first trip to Canada, so I’m really excited.  My son has been several times, and the pics he’s sent show incredible scenery.  We’ll be going to Calgary and Banff.  I was expecting some pretty frigid weather, but unless something changes, temps should be in the mid 40s during the day.  Weird, but welcome.

This past Friday, my cat, Bond, was interviewed by Lilie (a Westie) on Tori Zigler’s Friends of Furkid Friday feature.  He’s still getting fanmail.  If you missed it, click HERE.

Happy Reading and Writing this week!

#AmWatching, #SubjectA36 on #NetGalley, #Excerpt

Hubby and I had a fun weekend.  We have friends over every Super Bowl, and it’s always a good time and way too much food.  I didn’t really care about the teams this year, but I always look forward to the commercials.  My favorites this year were the ones featuring Jason Momoa (don’t even remember what he was advertising because I was laughing so much), Sam Elliott for Doritos, and MC Hammer for Cheetos.  I also caught a little of the kitten bowl – so much cuteness!  I’d adopt every one of them if I could.

Friday night, we watched Rambo: Last Blood.  Unless you’re a Rambo fanatic or just want to see what becomes of the guy at the end of the series, don’t bother.  Basically, bad things happen, Rambo goes after the guys, lures them back to his home turf, and then it plays out like Home Alone, only with a much higher body count.  Still, Stallone moves pretty well for a 73-year-old.

Subject A36 is on NetGalley!  To all you bloggers and reviewers, if you have a NetGalley account and would like to read and review it, email me at tpolen6@gmail.com and I’ll send you the widget to download the book.

Now for another excerpt!  In this scene, Asher and Brynn are in the middle of a rescue mission and encounter two guards.  Asher has already taken care of his and turns to watch Brynn.

The guard spun around to face her, as his hand reached for the gun holstered at his side.  But before he could draw the weapon, she took a running leap and used his thigh as a springboard to propel herself up.  She hooked her right leg around his neck then used her momentum to take them both to the ground.  With his air supply cut off, he was unconscious in seconds. 

She was so graceful – it was like watching a deadly ballet.

“Very nice.”

“He went down quicker than you.”

Brynn had practiced the move on me over the past few weeks, wrapping her legs around my neck dozens, possibly hundreds of times.

I grinned.  “Maybe I enjoyed it more.”

She smirked in reply.

 

#TheGentlemen, Writing, and #SubjectA36 Excerpt

Hubby and I had a good weekend.  Friday night was spent at our son’s concert (orchestra) – he cleans up pretty well and looks snazzy in a tux.  On Saturday, we saw The Gentlemen.  The first twenty minutes, we were pretty skeptical.  Not one laugh in the whole theater, and it was soooo slow.  Despite the movie having a fantastic cast, I prepared for disappointment.  But then it really took off, and received two thumbs up from us.  For me, Charlie Hunnam and Colin Farrell were standouts.  Check it out if you have time.

Something I saw on social media gave me a good laugh, and for all you writers out there, I’m betting you’ll have the same reaction.  Someone new to the industry – he’d never written a book, but had plans for one plus a sequel – stated he’d just live off the royalties for the first book while writing the second.  I’ll wait while you get a tissue to wipe away your tears of laughter.  It may come as a shock to some people, but none of us are in this business to get rich.  The majority of authors, both traditional and indie, have day jobs.  For a lot of us, writing is as necessary as breathing.  We can’t rest until the words are on the paper – or the characters won’t let us rest until their stories are told.  I hope it works out for him – it’s good to have goals – but talk about rude awakenings.  Poor guy.

Time for another teaser from Subject A36!  In this scene from Asher’s perspective, the Insurgents are in a strategy meeting planning their next mission, when they’re interrupted by a radio communication to Noah.  If you read my post from this past Friday, you know Noah is the Controller of this sector of Insurgents.  He’s just received information that several incoming vehicles have breached the outer barrier of their compound.  And they’re not Insurgents.

“How many vehicles?”

His radio crackled again.  “Ten trucks.  And I picked up five helicopters on radar.”

Noah stared into space, his eyes unfocused.  I knew the decision he warred with, and it’s something we’d planned for, a protocol Patrick had put in place but hoped would never be necessary.

He took a deep breath.  “Evacuation Protocol.  Send it out immediately.”

We’d drilled the Evacuation Protocol on a regular basis in the event our compound was infiltrated and we were forced to fight or withdraw.  First Patrick, and then Noah, made sure we were prepared if the time ever came.

And that time was here.

My gaze shot to Brynn.  Not all of us would escape this.  

Some of us would die.

 

#TheExpanse, #MarriageStory, and #SubjectA36 excerpt

Wasn’t it just Monday?  Seems like it to me, but here we are again.  Other than blog posts and book reviews, I haven’t been writing.  I owe an interview and a guest post to a couple of people (I’m working on them today, Marcia and Tori!), but nothing on the sequel to Subject A36 yet.  Still, that hasn’t stopped me from thinking about the plot and characters.  Lots of things floating around in my brain.

On recommendations from a friend (thanks, Diana!) and my brother-in-law, I started watching The Expanse on Amazon Prime.  One of the leads, Steven Strait, I remember from Sky High, a cute movie my boys watched years ago.  The story involved a high school for superheroes and their sidekicks, and Strait played Warren Peace (get it?).  I’m about seven episodes in and already hooked.

Hubby was at a work function Saturday night, so I decided to watch Marriage Story on Netflix and see what all the fuss was about.  It’s received numerous award nominations, and I’m a fan of both Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansson.  Every one of those nominations is well-deserved.  Both actors turned in powerful, phenomenal performances, and I was captivated.  Watch it if you get a chance.

I’ve got another excerpt from Subject A36 for you today – only a few more weeks until release!  In this scene, two Insurgents were due back from a supply run hours ago, and Asher hasn’t heard from them.  They’ve never deviated from protocol in the past, and Ash has to make a decision on what to do.

It was time to take action.  Just as I was ready to gather a search party, the low growl of a motor reached my ears.  The glow of headlights splashed over me as a truck bounced along the dirt road leading to our compound.  Relief flooded through me.  Paige, Jonah, and I rushed over to meet them.

My relief melted away when I noticed the reckless manner of the driver.  The truck swayed from side to side and changed speeds erratically.  I grabbed Paige’s arm to pull her out of its path just before it jolted to a stop.

The driver remained a mystery until the door flung open and moonlight fell upon Mason’s close-cropped copper hair.  He tumbled from the driver’s seat, gripping the doorframe as he struggled to stay on his feet.  An inky blackness dripped from his hairline and trickled down his face.

Blood.

Greek Food, #YouSeason2, and #SubjectA36 Excerpt

Happy Monday!  Monday is probably the least popular day of the week for most people, but for me, it’s an opportunity to get started on my to-do list for the week.  I’ve mentioned it before, but if that list isn’t plastered to my face, I tend to wander around aimlessly like Dory in Finding Nemo.

Last week hubby and I celebrated our anniversary and his birthday, which is one day before – no way he can forget it, right?  Anyhoo, we went out with friends Saturday night to a local Greek restaurant.  It’s one we frequented several years ago, but then it closed.  Luckily, six years later, it reopened in a new location, and I couldn’t wait to dig into the tzatziki sauce (which I’ve tried to duplicate, with one epic fail after another) and the oozy honey goodness that is baklava again.  Good food and great friends – a fun night for everyone.

I finished the second season of You on Netflix.  It was just as good as the first season – even darker, but completely addictive.  It takes a talented writer to make you loathe nearly everything Joe has done (killing numerous people in his quest for love), and yet somehow you still want him to get his happily ever after.

It’s time for another excerpt from Subject A36!  Last week the ebook preorder wasn’t available, but it’s live now HERE.  To set up the teaser, Asher and Brynn practically grew up together, but their friendship evolved into a romantic relationship in their early teens.  Their relationship was fun to write because they challenge each other, are competitive to a fault, enjoy witty banter, and share an unusually deep bond.  In this scene, they’re considering adding a new member to their team of Insurgents and are observing him while he trains.

The way the other female recruits, and some of the males, looked at Declan made me wonder if he’d be a distraction in the field.  He was a few inches shorter than me, had a muscular build, startling blue eyes, and dark, wavy hair.

My gaze slid in Brynn’s direction to gauge her reaction.  “Well?”

Brynn considered Declan, tracking his movements about the training course.  “He’s a pretty boy, but he’s got the skill set.”

I grinned.  “Prettier than me?”

Brynn stood on her tiptoes, nuzzled my neck, and then whispered in my ear.  “No one’s prettier than you.”

And then I was distracted.  Focus, Ash.   

Vacation and Holidays

Once again, I’m playing catchup on blogs and comments.  Actually, I’m not sure I ever caught up after Bad Moon Rising.  Anyhoo, it was for a good reason.  Hubby and I took a long weekend and traveled to Marathon, FL and Key West!  The weather was perfect – and if you knew our history with weather and vacations is a miracle in itself (hurricane during a cruise, a week in Hawaii with temps in the 40s).

We stayed in a new resort in Marathon (it was gorgeous), then drove down to Key West on for the afternoon on Monday.  With it being a weekday, it wasn’t too crowded, and only one cruise ship was docked.  Yes, we took a pic at the southernmost tip of the US.  Gorgeous views of the ocean.  I don’t have the words to describe the many shades of blues and greens.  Just look at that gorgeous sunset in the first pic.  The second is a little blurry, but you can barely make out the boats in the marina decorated with Christmas lights.  The third is the view from our hotel room the one night we spent in Miami before flying out.

Yes, I also did some reading – finished one book and only have 100 pages or so on another.  And remember when I said the weather was perfect?  It was also a little humid, and I forgot to pack my hair defrizzer.  This is live footage of how I looked at the beach for most of the trip.

This will be my last post of the year.  We’ll have both boys home for a few days, so I’m excited about that.  The youngest will be traveling to Dallas with his university’s marching band for a bowl game, so we’ve had to make some schedule accomodations, but the four of us will be seeing The Rise of Skywalker on Christmas Eve and then having dinner with friends who are really more like family.  Wishing all of you peaceful holidays spent with family and friends!

NaNo, ARC #Giveaway, Interview, and Star Wars

I didn’t win NaNo this year, but I’m happy with my 9K words.  We were traveling and spending time with family, but I also figured out some plot points over the holiday.  The characters were talking, and that’s always a good thing.  With so much going on this month, I don’t expect to get many words on the paper, but I’m still mentally planning, so that’s progress.  With Subject A36 being released February 13, 2020, I’m spending a lot of time prepping for that.

Speaking of Subject A36, the ARC giveaway is running through this Wednesday.  If you haven’t entered yet, the details are HERE.  Tell all your friends!

I was featured yesterday on Sci-Fi and Scary for their Women of Sci-Fi.  Lilyn and her team of reviewers give some awesome recommendations on books and movies and very generously feature indie authors.  Check out the interview and excerpt from Subject A36 HERE.

Do you have your tickets for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker?  I got mine last week.  It will be a family outing (both sons will be here!) on Christmas Eve, although not being a real fan, hubby will probably snooze through it.  Have a great week!