Easter, #AmWriting, and #AmWatching

It occurred to me yesterday evening that I hadn’t prepared my Monday post – so this will be a brief one.

What a gorgeous Easter weekend! The weather was warm, sunny, and perfect, and I took the opportunity to clean up the patio area and add some new outdoor rugs. Yesterday we hosted friends, our youngest son, and a niece who recently moved an hour away for Easter dinner, and we had a wonderful time. Hubby makes a mean fried turkey. If you’ve never tried it fried, I doubt you’d ever go back to the traditional roasted turkey again if sampled it. We were hooked after the first taste many years ago.

My publisher renewed the contracts on my books through 2023 – so that’s good news! Still adding words to the sequel to Subject A36 and plan to write a couple of important chapters this week. One in particular contains some pivotal moments, and I’ve let the characters know they need to be prepared for this. Of course, they may steer it in an entirely different direction. Wouldn’t be the first time.

I recorded the first episode of a new series (it originally aired a year ago in the UK) last night on AMC (after the season finale of The Walking Dead!). Gangs of London looks intriguing, and Rotten Tomatoes rated it 90%. Here’s a brief description: Gangs of London is a British action–crime drama television series produced by Pulse Films & Sister, following struggles between rival gangs and other criminal organisations in present-day London. The first series aired in the UK on 23 April 2020 on Sky Atlantic.

Have a safe and healthy week – get those vaccinations!

Last Concert and Hauntings

This past weekend was bittersweet. The youngest son graduates in about a month, so Friday and Saturday were his last college concert performances. We’ve truly enjoyed going to all the symphonies and orchestras over the past four years and experiencing the music. Made us feel a little more cultured! Plus, he cleans up well and looks pretty good in a tux. Hubby knew practically nothing about music or instruments when our son began pursuing his love of music in middle school, but he’s learned quite a bit over the years. Even after he graduates we still plan on attending future events.

Most of the concerts have been held at Van Meter Hall on campus. It was constructed in 1910 and is a beautiful example of a historic theater. With its white columns on the exterior, a lofty two story lobby, brass railings, sculptures, and marble arches and staircases, a person could spend hours just touring and appreciating the building.

It’s also haunted. According to several sources, anyway. Stories vary about exactly who died in the theater and how. In one scenario, a construction worker fell through the skylight in the lobby and was killed. Another says a student was hanging lights about the stage and fell to his death. Still another version says there are caverns beneath the campus and a hermit living in the caves found a secret passageway into Van Meter Hall. He carries a blue lantern that explains the blue light associated with the ghost.

Being fascinated with anything supernatural, I’d love to be alone inside the hall. I’d sit on the stage and listen to whatever story the building wanted to tell me. Hubby says I’m crazy (he’s not a believer – a tragic flaw I graciously overlook). If you’re interested in reading more about the ghost haunting Van Meter Hall, click HERE and HERE.

Have a safe and healthy week!

Vaccine, Alex P. Keaton, and #AmWatching

Hubby, both sons, and I have all had our first vaccine – yay!!!! We go back around the second week of April for the last one and other than sore arms, we have no side effects to report. Vaccination appointments seem to be plentiful around here right now, which is a blessing. Hoping it’s that way everywhere soon. I heard that after having COVID and then receiving the vaccine, some people’s residual effects are disappearing. I’ve noticed a slight increase in my ability to smell, so maybe there’s something to it.

Hubby and I spent Thursday evening watching Harlan Coben in conversation with Michael J. Fox. I’ve been a Fox fan since Family Ties, and Coben’s Myron Bolitar series is one of my favorites. If you’ve read those novels, you’re familiar with Myron’s friend Windsor Horne Lockwood III, aka Win. This new spinoff series is from Win’s perspective – and he’s a morally gray character at best whose heart is in the right place most of the time – maybe? Our signed copy should be here this week. Coben and Fox have been friends for over a decade, and we spent a humorous hour listening to them talk about their new releases, Alex P. Keaton, golfing trips, and writing. A fantastic way to spend an evening.

For those of you who know what a big Marvel fan I am, you shouldn’t be surprised that I watched The Falcon and the Winter Soldier on Disney+ this weekend. It’s also no surprise that I loved every minute of it. The two of them didn’t share screentime yet, but I’m looking forward to that snarky relationship between them. Hubby and I also watched the movie Let Him Go starring Kevin Costner and Diane Lane. All I’ll say is that it was a waste of talent, and we’re thinking about emailing the production company and requesting a refund of our $6.

Can anyone explain what happened to Gutenberg editor in the past few days? When I create a post, the font is extremely small, and images are out of whack when I insert them.

#GameNight, #AmWriting, #AmWatching

Who likes game night? We received Blank Slate and Scattergories as Christmas gifts and had friends over for a fun-filled game night on Saturday. These are friends we’ve known for over a decade, so playing with people you know so well is a definite advantage in Blank Slate (LINK). We’re all pretty competitive, so that also makes it even more interesting. In playing Scattergories (LINK), I encountered epic brain fail. If you haven’t played, I’ll give a quick description. You’re given a list of categories (example – name a toy, weapon, movie, fruit, etc.). A die containing letters of the alphabet is rolled, and your answer to each category must start with that letter. Sounds simple, right? Not for me. Put a word in front of me and I can give my partner/team numerous clues to help them guess it. But when it comes to Scattergories, I’m horrible. It’s like the doors slammed shut and my brain hung out a sign that said closed for business. It’s very weird – there must be a short circuit in there somewhere.

I feel like I turned a corner with the WIP last week. I’ve mentioned that I write out of sequence – last week I put every chapter/file in order and created a concise roadmap to the end. It’s still very rough, and I need to write two big chapters and add word count to others, but I’m further along than I’d expected. Going into this sequel to Subject A36, I had a tentative title for it, but then the characters surprised me. I’d expected a certain character to carry the bulk of the story, but instead, another one stepped into that role. And it makes sense. I guess sometimes the characters know what works better for the story than the author. Has that happened to you before?

Has anyone watched Coming 2 America, the sequel to Coming to America? Hubby and I hadn’t seen the first one in years and wanted to do a rewatch before seeing the new one. We were shocked to see the release date was 1988! I’d figured twenty years maybe, but over thirty? Eddie Murphy and Arsenio Hall have aged well. It was still a fun movie after that many years and we’re looking forward watching the newest one this weekend.

Have a safe and healthy week!

Cheesecake, #Writing, and #AmWatching

No recipe to share today. Hubby and I were out of town visiting the oldest son this weekend. It’s been a couple months since we’ve seen him – and his cat – so we were excited to spend some time with him. He lives just a few miles from a Cheesecake Factory, home of my utmost favorite dessert, Reese’s Peanut Butter Chocolate Cake Cheesecake, so we had brunch there on Sunday before going home. I got a piece to go, ate every single bite of it that afternoon, then felt miserable. But it was so worth it, guys. Haven’t had that chocolatey-peanut-buttery goodness for well over a year. What’s a little suffering compared to that?

A couple weekends ago I attended (online) the Juniper Writing Conference hosted by authors C.J. Redwine and Mary Weber. It began Friday night and continued into Sunday afternoon. So many fantastic guest speakers and educational workshops, as well as “meeting” other writers in the chat section then following each other on social media. If you’re interested in staying informed on future workshops, resources, and events, click HERE to be added to their newsletter.

Did anyone see the debut of Debris last week? Once I saw the trailer – floating people in fields! – I knew I had to watch it. It’s along the lines of X-Files or Fringe. Two agents are partnered together – he’s CIA, she’s MI6 – but neither quite trusts the other, thinking their respective countries aren’t entirely forthcoming with information. They’re investigating unusual events occuring after debris from an alien spaceship crash falls to Earth. Reviews have been mixed, but I’m intrigued enough to keep watching.

Have a safe and healthy week!

#BookClub, #Cooking, and a #BookReview

Happy Monday! A week ago we were just clawing our way out of snow. Today? Flooding all around. Part of our street is blocked off, but the good news is that there’s no more rain in the forecast.

My book club met last week. Remember, our club doesn’t read the same novel – we have a monthly theme and each of us choose our own books in that category. The theme for February was Pick Your Poison: YA Romance or Horror. Do I really need to tell you what I chose? I was surprised at the number of folks who chose horror since some of them are diehard romance fans, but they decided to step out of their comfort zone. I wasn’t one of those people. Below are some of the choices for the month.

Hubby and I tried another new recipe Saturday night – Grilled Chicken Breasts with Satay Sauce. Satay sauce has a peanut butter base with some other ingredients mixed in. I admit I was skeptical – peanut butter and chicken? It’s like chicken waffles – it makes no sense to me and seems like an unlikely combination. The verdict? We both decided it was a keeper. Chicken breasts never turn out well for us – they tend to be too dry no matter what we try, but having this sauce made a huge difference. If you’d like to give it a shot, the link is HERE

I had a wonderful surprise last week! Author Jacquie Biggar reviewed Subject A36 on her blog HERE. Great minds were thinking alike I guess because I just finished reading Virtually Gone, her techno-thriller released last year. It was full of suspense and characters I immediately embraced – the review will be posted here later in the month.

Have a safe, healthy – and warm – week!

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#AmWriting, #Cooking, and Escape Rooms

I’ve mentioned how I write out of sequence then put the chapters in order and fill in the holes. For the past month, I’ve been focused on getting the first several chapters to my beta reader. On Saturday, I looked at the other files I haven’t touched in months and did a double take. I’ve written a lot more than I thought! Considering I feel like I’ve been working on this sequel to Subject A36 since the dawn of time, I felt like doing a Snoopy dance. I don’t know how much I’ll keep or change until I dig into the files, but at least I’ve made more progress than I thought. Yay me!

Saturday night cooking continues. Hubby makes fantastic steak, whether on the grill or using a grill pan. I’m a chef’s worst nightmare – I prefer mine closer to the well side of medium well. After experimenting with different techniques, hubby perfected my steak a few years ago, and I honestly prefer his to most I’ve had in restaurants. Steak was the main course for Saturday’s dinner, and he wanted a mushroom sauce to go with his filet. I tried a new recipe with mushrooms, garlic, olive oil, and gorgonzola, but it wasn’t a flavorful as he’d hoped (I still can’t taste much of anything). Maybe we’ll try to tweak the recipe if we give it another chance.

I’m a fan of escape rooms and have done several with my family. They can either make you feel like your IQ is genius level or you’re the dumbest person alive. My oldest son and his girlfriend shift into beast mode before entering an escape room, and I haven’t seen anything stump them yet. With her in Canada and him in KY, they haven’t been able to see each other much over the past year (stupid pandemic!), but they found an escape room company online. I had no idea it was possible to do them virtually, but they gave it a try. If you’re into game nights with family or friends from a distance, maybe you’d want to give it a try HERE.

Stay safe and healthy and have a great week!

#Cooking, Snout Therapy, and an Interview

Hope everyone had a wonderful Valentine’s Day weekend! Hubby and I stayed in and tried another new recipe – actually a couple of them. The main course was Boubon-Glazed Salmon – recipe HERE. I didn’t have fresh ginger (although it would have been better), so I used ground ginger instead, and we didn’t add onions. I don’t like onions of any kind, so I usually omit them in most recipes. Instead of tossing the marinade, we saved half of it to pour over thie salmon before serving. I still have no sense of taste (more on that below), but hubby gave this one a big thumbs up. It was an easy recipe to put together and had tons of flavor, but we used a grill pan instead of broiling the salmon and even though it was nonstick, cleanup took some scrubbing. For the side dish, we tried hasselback potatoes. It was a simple recipe of olive oil, minced garlic, rosemary, salt, and pepper brushed over the potatoes, but neither of us cared for it. No flavor at all for me, and hubby said it needed something, so I’m not even listing the link.

Last week, after a commenter mentioned articles about physical therapy for the nose for folks who still haven’t regained their sense of smell after COVID (thanks, Tessa!), I did some research and bought essential oils. A few articles suggested buying four different types and smelling them twice per day. A lot of people must be trying the same thing for their snouts because the two stores I went to had pretty slim pickings. I could only find peppermint, orange, and lavender, and so I added in a bottle of cinnamon spice for the fourth. While walking through the parking lot back to my car after leaving one of the stores I wrinkled my nose because someone was smoking – then realized I could actually smell the cigarette smoke. Not my first choice of aromas, but at least it’s progress.

A little bit of self promotion! Darlene Foster, author of the delightful children’s series, Amanda Travels, interviewed me on her blog Saturday. Click HERE to read. After visiting Canada last year, I read Amanda in Alberta and enjoyed learning more about some of the places we visited while there.

Have a safe and healthy week!

#AmWriting and Blog Visits

Finally got a couple of chapters to my beta reader last week and she promptly returned some feedback. I just glanced over it, but plan to dive into it today. Her suggestions and comments have always been helpful, and she’s one of the reasons a certain character will have a more prominent part in the Subject A36 sequel.

Last week, Marcia Meara graciously hosted me on her blog for Guest Day Tuesday. I interviewed myself using a few writing questions I asked of Bad Moon Rising authors. It was fun! Click HERE to go to Marcia’s blog. While you’re there, check out her books. If you haven’t met a certain boy named Rabbit in her Wake Robin Ridge series, you’re missing out on one of my favorite characters I’ve ever read. He’ll steal your heart.

The cover of Subject A36 also made an appearance at Teagan Riordain Geneviene’s blog on her Thursday Doors Within Doors post HERE. I adore how she “Teaganized” my cover along with Robbie Cheadle’s Through the Nevergate and Mark Bierman’s Vanished. The first novella of her new serial/series, Dead of Winter, released earlier this month. It’s in my TBR, and the reviews have been amazing!

Have a safe and healthy week!

#AmWriting, Celebrations, and #AmWatching

I got some work done on the sequel to Subject A36 last week. It’s really the first time I’ve sat down with it since before Christmas, and the characters were talking. I think they’ve been tired of waiting for me. I asked my beta if I could send her some chapters this week, and she’s excited to read them. I’ll be grateful for the feedback. Seems like I’ve been working on this sequel for so long, but still don’t have a complete first draft, although these first four or five chapters feel finished. Each of my books has been written with a different process, so why should this one be any different?

We celebrated hubby’s birthday Friday and our anniversary Saturday with close friends. Our youngest son came over and cooked (barely) a tuna appetizer for him (both of them are foodies) on Friday, but no way will you get me to eat medium rare tuna. Not happening. Instead of a birthday cake, I went to a local bakery and got an assortment of cupcakes and cookies, then took the leftovers to my son and his roommates yesterday. Needed to get those sweets out of the house!

After a friend recommended it several times, I started watching Hannibal on Netflix last week. It’s fascinating. I assumed it was about him being hunted and tracked down, but that’s not the premise. This series is set when Lecter is still practicing medicine and works with FBI profiler/instructor Will Graham. The scenes with the two of them are absolutely riveting. I’d read a quote somewhere that the series was visually stunning, and it truly is. Plus, the food Hannibal prepares for his unsuspecting guests is totally Instagrammable – you just have to overlook what the “meat” actually is, lol.

Have a great week!