Masks, Beta Readers, and #AmWatching

It’s a dreary Monday here, but things are happening in my area. Our governor announced KY will follow the new CDC guidelines saying those who are fully vaccinated no longer need to wear a mask in most public places. We went to a restaurant with friends Saturday evening to celebrate a couple of birthdays and although the tables were still spaced, servers and most customers weren’t wearing masks. I’ve had Covid and have been fully vaccinated, and it felt almost like walking around naked without my mask! Guess this means sales for lipstick/lipgloss will go up now. Hubby and I still wore masks at the grocery store yesterday, as did most other patrons, but it sure is nice to see some restrictions easing up and things getting back to normal.

I have a new beta reader! My previous one is in the process of relocating several states away and starting a new job (all with a little one at home), and the last thing she needed was added pressure. She was with me through two books and was reponsible for one of my characters having a larger role than planned in Subject A36. I hate to see her go, but I’m so excited for this new chapter in her life. I have no doubt my new beta reader will make significant contributions toward the sequel and keep me in line when it comes to my more than occasional lack of description and hiccups that come with my habit of writing out of sequence.

After seeing a rec for Big Shot on a friend’s blog (thanks, Tessa!), hubby and I tried it. I’ve mentioned before how hard it is to please him when it comes to TV shows and movies, so I’m always looking for something to try. The premise is about a temperamental college basketball coach who gets fired from his job and must take a teaching and coaching job at an elite all-girls private high school. We were afraid it might be kind of dorky, and at times it is, but we’re both enjoying it. John Stamos does a great job at portraying a single dad out of his depth with a teen daughter. If you’re looking for something light, sometimes awkward, and a little humorous, give it a try.

Have a great week!

Mother’s Day and #AmWatching

Happy Belated Mother’s Day to all you moms out there! I spent my day unpacking (hubby and I visited his parents for only the second time in over a year due to Covid), then the youngest son came over. He asked if we could help with a DIY project, and I said sure. I had no idea what it was until he got here, but we spent a couple hours repurposing vinyl records. He’d found some YouTube videos, so with some old albums he’d collected, we reshaped them into bowls, shelves, and bookends. He plans to use them in his new apartment.

Which brings me to new life news. He and two other friends are moving to Austin, TX in early June. It’s something they’ve talked about for several months, and he plans to take a year off before starting grad school. We’re sad to see him go, but excited for this new chapter in his life. Plus, we’ve never been to Austin and plan to stay a few extra days and check out the city after helping him move.

Speaking of repurposing old vinyl, here are some pictures of what my sons got me for Mother’s Day. Aren’t they awesome? The artwork is painted on KISS Alive II records. I’ve been a KISS fan for years (and what a coincidence I just mentioned them in my Monday post a couple weeks ago) and plan to have these framed. Aren’t they awesome? Youngest son ran across them at an art festival. I know it may not be the typical Mother’s Day present, but my sons know me pretty well.

Hubby and I finished this short, four episode series of Secrets of the Whales last week. The show explores the cultures of orcas, belugas, narwhals, sperm whales, and humpback whales. What amazing, beautiful footage! We enjoyed every minute of this incredible series and learned a great deal about the whales, their communication skills, and social structures. If you have access to Disney+, I highly recommend watching it.

Derby and Graduation

What a fun, eventful weekend we had! It was Derby weekend here in KY, and after several years of mostly rainy weather, the sun shone down Friday and Saturday, and the temps were in the mid 70s. We went to parties hosted by friends for the Oaks on Friday and Derby on Saturday where we always have far too much food and eat way more than we should. My oldest son even won some money on a horse this year – around $425 maybe? He always seems to win something, but this was the highest amount to date.

This was also college graduation for our youngest son. Because of Covid, the ceremony was held in the football stadium and each student was only allotted four tickets. The weather cooperated (a good thing since there was no backup plan in case of rain), and the students. their families, and friends seemed thrilled to have their graduation in person. Students who graduated in spring of 2020 will have their ceremony next weekend. You may remember our son was fortunate to be able to study abroad both summers before Covid hit. This picture is of the stole he wore during the ceremony showing the flags of the countries he visited. I’m hoping he’ll eventually have it framed for a keepsake.

I’m still in catchup mode but hoping to get around to blogs this week. Hubby and I are going out of town this weekend. He’ll be able to finally visit his parents after only seeing them once in over a year – again, due to Covid.

Have a great week!

Another Concert and #AmWatching

You might remember several weeks ago I mentioned our youngest son had his final college concert. Well, there was another one this past Friday – but it was really his final concert. I told hubby it was like the KISS Seriously-This-Is-The-Last-Time-We’re-Not-Kidding-No-Clowning-You’ll-Never-See-Us-On-A-Stage-Again Farewell Tour. We were just thrilled we had one more chance to see him play. And I’d also still see KISS again if they were in my neck of the woods.

If you’re a fan of author Leigh Bardugo, you know that Shadow and Bone dropped on Netflix Friday. The show blends two of her book series into one story. I haven’t read the Shadow and Bone trilogy, but the Six of Crows duology (soon to be trilogy) remains one of my favorite fantasy series. When reading, most readers form an image in their minds of what the characters look like – I certainly do. Six of Crows features one of the most intriguing characters I’ve come across – Kaz Brekker. When I saw pictures of the actor cast in his role, he looked nothing like what I expected, but I decided I’d wait to pass judgement until I’d watched a few episodes. I’ve seen two, and he hasn’t won me over yet. I feel like they nailed Jesper’s and Inej’s characters, so maybe that will make up for it.

We’ve got the youngest son’s graduation coming up this weekend and family arriving mid week, so I may be scarce around the blogosphere this week. The graduation is being held outside at the football stadium, and there’s no backup plan in case of rain, so I’ve been keeping an eye on the weather. It’s looking good so fa – keep your fingers crossed. Have a great week!

Social Media, Vaccinations, and #AmWatching

I’ve tried to post something on Instagram three to four times per week for the last several months, but last week was an epic fail. It’s not that I didn’t have anything to post, I just never got around to it. I’ve been trying to build up my followers, so I’m pretty sure this isn’t contributing to that goal. This week I’m trying something new. I created four posts on Canva, so all I need to do is download them – maybe that will push me to keep a more regular schedule. I learned in a social media workshop that commenting on a few posts both before and after publishing your own will make it visible to more folks. No matter what, those algorithms will always remain a mystery to me.

I forgot to mention last week that hubby and I and both sons are now fully vaccinated – yay! It’s funny that our sons qualified for receiving their doses before we did. The oldest is a geologist working in hydrology (don’t ask me how that qualifies, but it did) and the other is working part time in the food service industry while still in college. My in-laws assisted living facility just opened up to visitors, so hubby and I will be flying to see them for only the second time in over a year. Being fully vaccinated sure makes me feel better about getting on a plane.

A new series dropped on Amazon Prime recently that I’m excited to watch. Here’s the description: A black family moves from North Carolina to an all-white Los Angeles neighbourhood in 1953, where their idyllic home becomes ground zero for malevolent forces. Mention malevolent forces in a home and it’s automatically on my list. I’m trying to finish some other series (For All Mankind and The Falcon and The Winter Soldier) before starting it.

Have a great week!

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!