Cooking and #AmWatching

Cooking isn’t really in my skill set – I’m the first to admit it. It’s a miracle hubby and I didn’t starve the first year we were married. Since then, my skills have improved, and I’ve learned enough to keep us fed. Still, unless it’s something very basic – spaghetti (jar sauce), chili, tacos, etc. – I have to use a recipe. I’m not one of those people who instinctively knows what a dish needs, although my youngest son is. From an early age, he’s been interested in food and cooking – and he surely didn’t get it from me. My oldest son considers food an energy source and doesn’t venture much out of his comfort zone. I do enjoy subscribing to a couple of cooking magazines and trying new recipes. Some are winners (a peanut butter pie recipe I got from a magazine ad) and others completely inedible (a tragic waste of prime rib). Hubby is kind of a foodie, so we decided to try something new. Every weekend, we’ll take turns choosing a new recipe to try and work on it together. This past weekend, we tried Spaghetti alla Carbonara. We turned on Pandora, opened some wine, and split up the cooking duties. Although the recipe had fantastic reviews, we weren’t that thrilled with it – probably three stars. Since I still can’t taste much or smell at all (two months now – thanks, COVID), I had to rely on hubby’s opinions. If you’re interested in trying it yourself, here’s the LINK We plan to continue this every weekend (unless we’re out of town), so this could become a regular update on Mondays.

I’m a fan of the TV show Supernatural. I haven’t watched all the seasons yet, but I’m working my way through them on Netflix. When I saw Jared Padalecki was starring in a remake of Walker, Texas Ranger, I decided to check it out. Not that I ever watched the original, but I like the actor and figured it’s something hubby and I could watch together (it’s like an act of God to get him interested in anything). While the show’s not going to win any awards, after three episodes, we’ve decided to stick with it. It’s already been renewed for a second season, so it might be around for a while.

Hope you have a great week – stay safe and healthy!

A Peek Into My #BookClub

I’ve mentioned before that I’m in two book clubs. Due to the pandemic, one hasn’t met for nearly a year – I’ve forgotten what book I was even supposed to read for the next meeting. The Pardon My Youth club is through our local library, and we’ve continued our monthly meetings through Zoom. The club focuses on YA books for the young and young at heart (ages range from 20s through 70s). It’s not your standard club where everyone reads the same book – we have monthly categories instead. This month’s assignment was to read a YA book published in 2020. I thought I’d give you a partial list of some of the books selected.

We enjoy having the freedom to choose different books, but occasionally a couple members have coincidentally read the same one and will give joint reviews. Most of us are also friends on Goodreads and the day after book club you’ll see several members adding titles discussed the night before to their TBR lists. Below are our categories for the rest of the year – you can see we’re committed to reading diverse books. I like being able to plan my reads for the rest of the year, and I always try to choose something from my backlist.

  • February Pick Your Poison – Romance vs. Horror (of course I’m choosing horror)
  • March Realistic Fiction Set Anywhere but the US, the UK, or Canada
  • April Books Featuring a Found Family
  • May Books By/About Latinx Folks
  • June Pride Reads
  • July Books Set During the Summer
  • August Books With a Female or Non-Binary BIPOC as the Main Character
  • September Banned Books
  • October Retellings/Reimaginings
  • November Books By/About Indigenous Peoples, First Nations, Peoples, or Native Americans

Maybe I’ve inspired you to create your own book club or ask your library to form one. Our club’s fourth anniversary is coming up in a few months, and most of us have been there from the beginning. In addition to making some wonderful bookish friends, it’s also helped maintain some sanity and continuity for all of us during 2020. Hopefully, my other club will be able to meet again this year – but someone’s going to have to remind me which book to read.

Hope you enjoyed a peek into one of my book clubs. Have a safe and healthy week!

#AmWriting, Workshop, and #AmWatching

The writing progress continues! Planning on sending another couple chapters to my beta today. I keep telling myself the small steps add up – I just need to stick to the plan. Meanwhile, the next book keeps niggling at the back of my mind. I’ve made notes and have some ideas, but haven’t fleshed out the whole story yet. But I will say I’m heading back into the horror/supernatural genre after the A36 sequel.

I just completed a two week writing class entitled Becoming the CEO of Your Creative Life hosted by authors C.J. Redwine and Mary Weber. It involved goal setting, scheduling, vision boards, career crafting and more. I got some really helpful tips about productivity, which I totally need. I’m a total Dory (Finding Nemo) if I don’t have a clear plan for the day. Ironically, my life mantra also comes from Dory – just keep swimming! I just need to remember to swim in the right direction.

Last week I signed up for a free seven day trial of AMC+ so I could watch the second season of A Discovery of Witches. Then I found out only three episodes had been released so far. So now I’ll have to cancel this trial and sign up with someone else when the whole season drops. The two episodes I’ve watched so far seem to be sticking with the book, just like the first season did, so I’m happy about that.

Have a safe and healthy week!

New Series Launch — Dead of Winter: Journey 1, Forlorn Peak

I’m a long time fan of Teagan Riordain Geneviene’s books and blog. She’s known for her whimsical imagination and creativity when fashioning a story around random items named by readers and her UF Atonement, Tennessee series (Lilith!). She has a new release of monthly serial novelettes featuring a blend of fantasy and magic that I can’t wait to dive into!

Teagan's Books

Saturday, January 2, 2021 

(All new video trailer for Journey-1)

Happy New Year, one and all! 

For weeks I’ve been giving hints and making little shout-outs for a new serial/series, but uncertain of when I would be ready.  The day is finally here.  Presenting Dead of Winter: Journey 1, Forlorn Peak!

Dead of Winter: Journey 1, Forlorn PeakDead of Winter: Journey 1, Forlorn Peak

Dead of Winter will be a serial/series available through Amazon. (Maybe other sites as well, for the anti-Amazon among us.  If those sites cooperate, that is.  I have little patience for their shenanigans). 

I call the installments Journeys, because the characters travel across the complex world I built, experiencing new cultures and meeting new people. These journeys will publish approximately monthly.  Length will range from 30 to 60 pages, or so.

Here’s the Blurb

Dead of Winter takes place in a fantasy world that resembles some countries in the past of…

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Rona, #AmWriting, and Secret Santa

So I was officially released from quarantine last Friday – woo hoo! Thanks to all of you for the positive thoughts and well wishes. Hubby is getting tested again today, so keep your fingers crossed for a negative result. He’s still showing no symptoms.

One good thing about quarantine? I mean besides cleaning out the closet. All kinds of time for writing – which I did last week. Things are moving along for the Subject A36 sequel. Muses, inspiration, and characters working together for the common good – finally.

For one of my book clubs, our December meeting typically involves sharing lots of food and receiving gifts from our Secret Santas. Obviously that’s not happening this year – the food part anyway. We still drew for Secret Santa through Elfster.com, and I found a basket of goodies on my porch yesterday. Han and Chewie will be perfect additions to my nerd cabinet! I’ll find out who my Santa is at the Zoom meeting tomorrow evening.

While we’re on the subject of Star Wars, the season finale of The Mandalorian absolutely blew my mind. No spoilers here – but holy crap! Soooo good.

This is my last post until next week. Wishing all of you a peaceful, safe, and healthy Merry Christmas!

#BookReview – Subject A36 – Teri Polen #scifi #dystopian

Happy Friday! Jessica Bakkers posted a wonderful review of Subject A36 on her blog that absolutely made my month! While you’re visiting her, check out her new debut novel, Guns of Perdition. It’s a delightfully sinister mix of western, dark fantasy, and horror. Grace is at the top of my list for favorite heroines.

Jessica Bakkers

Subject A36 (The Colony Series Book 1) by [Teri Polen]I’m not usually a big reader of young adult fiction, but I’d read extracts of ‘Subject A36’, and could tell in the first few pages it was going to be a book I’d enjoy. And I was right.

‘Subject A36’ by author Teri Polen, is an extremely well-written story, set in a dystopian future/alternate timeline. Slightly reminiscent of the bleak unjust future in the Hunger Games series, Polen pits the Insurgents – a morally good group of people trying to survive – against the Colony, the overlords of this region, with superior tech, and a penchant for the finer things. Unfortunately, those finer things involve the very genes of the less fortunate being literally stripped from their living bodies. This so the Colony populace can have access to talents and traits they find desirable (such as blue eyes, intelligence, blonde hair). It’s a shudderingly gruesome concept that instantly…

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Christmas and Rona

Not much to report this week. Last week was spent catching up on tons of things after our long weekend away – laundry, errands, Christmas shopping, etc. No matter how much I try to get done ahead of time, it always seems like I’m rushing during the holiday season. One evening I was able to slow down and listen to A Charlie Brown Christmas soundtrack for the first time this year. It’s my absolute favorite, and no Christmas is complete without it.

Did I add to the word count last week? No, I didn’t. I made a few notes in my phone, but at this point, I’ve lost what little momentum I had before Thanksgiving and need to review the past few chapters, new notes, and dive back into it. But over the next week I should have plenty of time to write. Why?

Because I tested positive for COVID. Mild symptoms started last Monday (no fever, just sore throat and a little achy) and I assumed it was the same cold I usually get around this time of year. By Wednesday, I felt fine and assumed it was over. When I woke Thursday morning, I knew I needed to get tested (but still no fever). Hubby is negative – how, I have no idea – but I’ve got another week to quarantine, and he’s back to working from home. I’m very fortunate my symptoms have been mild so far, and I’ve been taking it easy. The worst thing is I lost my sense of smell, and I’ll miss the aroma of the pumpkin bread I’m making later today!

Stay healthy and wash those hands!

Thanksgiving, #AmWriting, and #AmWatching

Not much to report here, other than we’re still recovering from eating too much. Hope your Thanksgiving was as wonderful as ours. We were fortunate to be able to spend it with family and were thrilled to have our sons with us. I like to try new recipes – sometimes they’re a keeper, other times we’re struggling to choke it down. Without a test run, my youngest son and I made a Bourbon Chocolate-Walnut Pie and it was absolutely a keeper. The only thing we’d change is to add more bourbon next time around. We might have cheated a little by buying a pie crust, but I wasn’t ready to tackle one from scratch.

Did I write during the holiday? That would be a no. But I did get some plot ideas while walking and listening to music, so I don’t feel completely unproductive. I have plans today to dive back into the WIP.

Is anyone watching the new season of The Crown? I’ve enjoyed every season, but this might be my favorite yet since I remember the wedding of Prince Charles and Princess Diana. If you haven’t watched this series and you’re looking for something new to binge, I highly recommend it.

Thanks From #BadMoonRising!

I’m always a little sad when BMR is over because it’s so much fun (and books!), but then August rolls around again and prep work begins. As of Saturday afternoon, BMR had nearly 5K views – that’s a 25% increase from last year, and it’s because of everyone who shared the posts on their social media – your efforts are deeply appreciated. I want to thank everyone who stopped by to comment and support the thirty-one authors who participated – hugs to all! Next year will be the seventh year – hard to believe.

Wishing high word counts and active muses to all of you doing NaNo! I’m not participating this year, but I’m going into the third week of an online writer’s retreat, and my goal is to come out of it with a completed first draft. Wish me luck!

#BadMoonRising Matching Costumes by D.G. Driver #childrensbooks #Halloween #picturebook

Today we have another book for the younger crowd, and it’s a new release with an adorable cover! This author has published works in the YA and children’s genres, but also has a MG fantasy and a women’s fiction she’s shopping around with agents. When it comes to sleeping in a coffin or spending the night in a haunted house? She’s done both. Welcome D.G. Driver!

Would you rather sleep in a coffin for one night or spend the night in a haunted house?

Back when I was 21, I was in this terrible play called Countess Dracula, and I played a crazy vampire. My first appearance was rising out of a coffin, so I had to get in it before the audience came in (no curtain at this theater) and lie in there for a good forty-five minutes. It was not fun. I have also spent the night in a haunted hotel doing a ghost hunt, which was scary but also fun. So….. I’m going to pick the haunted house and hope for the best.

If you were in a horror movie, would you rather have a loaded gun or a car that wouldn’t break down?

Definitely the car. Ghosts and zombies don’t die when they get shot, and murderers and monsters always get back up. I vote for escaping.

Would you rather put your hand in a box and feel something slimy or furry?

Gritting my teeth and timidly speaking: Furry?

What was the hardest part of writing your author bio?

Deciding what to leave out. I’ve had a few things published now, but I don’t like bios to be long. For the bio at the back of Matching Costumes, my first picture book, it felt strange to mention all my YA books. Not the same audience. So, I focused more on the themes of my writing rather than the titles.

Which comes first for you – plot or characters?

The first thing that comes to me in the premise or situation that the character will be facing. With that in mind I come up with a basic plot. Then I decide who the characters are and adjust the plot to fit these people. Matching Costumes has less than 60 words to it and was based on this premise: a child wants to make costumes for her dog and herself, but the dog won’t keep the costume on. The point was to create a pattern and then give a solution that breaks the pattern. I didn’t even name the girl or the dog.

What are you working on now?

In a total change of pace, I just finished writing my first women’s fiction novel and am shopping it around to agents. I’m also seeking representation for a middle grade fantasy novel called Dragon Surf that I’ve co-written with Jeni Bautista Richard. I’m in the process of recording and editing a musical story called Songwriter Night with a wonderful composer named Caleb Dinger that is going to be sold as a full cast audiobook.

Finding a costume to match a pet dog for Halloween isn’t easy. You have to be creative. Some ideas are funny, spooky, or pretty. Getting the dog to keep a costume on is the tricky part. Matching Costumes is a great picture book for infants-PreK

Matching Costumes is written by D. G. Driver and illustrated by Cason Rome. It is published by Huskies Pub, an imprint of MacLaren Cochrane Publishing. It is available at MCP Store and at Amazon https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1643721607

Author Bio

D.G. Driver is an optimist at heart, and that’s why she likes to write about young people making an impact on the world. You’ll find among her books a teen environmental activist, a young girl teaching people about autism acceptance and to stop bullying people with special needs, a princess who wants to be more than a prize for a prince, a boy who wins a girl’s heart by being genuine and chivalrous, and a girl who bravely searches for a friend lost along the shore of a dark lake. She is an award-winning author of books for teens and tweens, but you’ll find some romance and horror stories published in anthologies, too. When Driver isn’t writing, she’s a teacher at an inclusive early child development program in Nashville, TN. She might also take a break from writing once in a while to strut the stage in a local theater production. You’re guaranteed to find her belting out Broadway show tunes anytime she’s driving. Learn more about her books at www.dgdriver.com

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