MJ’s Musings-Book Bingo: Art for Love’s Sake

Art for Love’s Sake. I read Barbara Freethy’s Don’t Say a Word. and used it for this square.  Lots of art in this romantic suspense: heroine is a DJ, hero is a photographer and the son of a photographer. There are ballerinas involved in the story, too. The arts abound. The first clue is a photograph. Nothing is as it seems.

I really wanted to use Fiona Davis’s The Masterpiece for this square, but it isn’t a romance. It’s the story of two women, fifty years apart. Clara is an artist and teacher in the Grand Central Station School of Art (this was a real thing) in the 1920s; Virginia is a woman in the 1970s who is working to save the building from demolition. Both are hobbled in their pursuits by being women. In many ways, Clara was far more liberated than Virginia, but Clara had a clear sense of self and her goal. Virginia, a recent divorcee, was drifting. Having come of age in the 1970s, there were many times in the story when I wanted to scream at Virginia for her naivety. Wanting to scream means I cared.

Both books were good reads.

MJ’s Musings: The Creativity of Writers

Sometimes an author’s creativity isn’t in only her writing.

Twice a year, I go out of town on a long writing retreat. A fellow author’s family has a cottage on a creek in the woods they let us use.

The first time we walked in (and oohed and aahed )and noticed there wasn’t much shelf space–certainly not enough for the wine. One of my companions turned to me and said, “Did you bring a baby?”

“No.”

“Neither did I.”

I wasn’t sure what she meant–until I spied a wooden high chair in the corner. That became our wine bar. For many years.  I have  lost the photo I took of this innovation.

This year, we didn’t bring as much wine as usual for many reasons. We no longer needed the a wine bar. But I was deep into revisions and needed something to prop my printed pages so I could input my changes.

The high chair-wine bar became something totally different.

Wedging the bottom of my binder against the tray while using the back to prop it upright worked like a charm.

But the high chair isn’t the only thing with multiple uses.

The weather turned wonderfully balmy and most of the attendees opted to write outside. Most also prefer to stand as they write. Enter: the Grill.

That’s right. The arms on either side of the gas grill are the perfect size and height for laptops  and writing.

The heat of creativity isn’t only on the page.

 

 

MJ’s Musings: My Obsession with the Sky

I have been obsessed with sky nearly all my life. I blame my dad. When I was very young, he woke me up in the middle of the night, carried me outside and pointed to a light in the sky and told me it was Sputnik, a satellite. When I didn’t understand that, he explained it was like a big basketball in the sky.

Whenever a jet contrail appeared in the sky over the house, he would point it out to me and my sibs. It was years before I realized the contrails were a miracle to him, because they didn’t exist in his childhood. My own children looked at me oddly and said, “so what?” whenever I point out contrails to them.

Then there was a solar eclipse for which he made a “viewer” out of a cardboard box one wore over one’s head. There was a pin hole in the back that let in the light from the sun. One watched the eclipse projected on the front of the inside. He let all of the neighborhood kids take turns wearing the box so they could “see” the eclipse.

I once bought a child’s book on the constellations, allegedly for my children. I still use it for me.

One Labor Day weekend, there was a gorgeous full moon. I took my son’s toy telescope outside for a better look. A few hours later, a derecho blew through town, becoming one of those weather events that are legends in your area. I remember waking up in the middle of the night with lightning strobing like a rock concert of my youth. Foolishly,  I went out on my upstairs back porch to watch, not realizing it was a derecho and what that meant. People died that night.

Then the Internet came along, and I found a site that would tell me which star I was seeing every morning before my family and life descended on me. I used my link to that site for years.These days,  I can’t even remember the name.

Now I have an app on my phone: Sky View Lite. It’s an amazing app. The first time I used it on a writing retreat, while we were sitting around a fire pit, my fellow authors were blown away by the way we could “see” the constellations and stars, even through the cloud cover.  Several of them downloaded it then and there.

My obsession with the sky continues.

 

MJ’s Musings: Thistle Dew

A friend of mine owns an 1809 former stage coach inn in the foothills of New York’s Adirondack Mountains.

Her dream has always been to create a warm, welcoming place where her author friends could retreat and write. She has succeeded.

For several years, personal situations kept me from attending, but about two years ago, my circumstances changed,and I became a Thistle Dew regular. I always stay in the same room. I usually write in the dining room, although sometimes I move around to keep myself fresh.

The thing is, I can write here. I am so much more productive than when I am home. At home, my husband wants to spend time with me. The house needs me to spend time with it.

A few weeks ago, when I was desperately trying to finish a book due a month later, I planned an entire weekend at home, writing. HAHAHAHAHA.  The following weekend, I went to Thistle Dew, which is about 90 minutes from home, and I wrote over 10,000 words Friday afternoon/night, all day Saturday/Sunday morning.

Two weeks later, I finished the book at Thistle Dew .

Thistle Dew isn’t all work. There is plenty of eating (always) and laughter. I love getting to know people from my local RWA chapter with whom I might not interact at our monthly meetings. We forge new friendships and learn other writers’ strength and generosity. In warmer weather (i.e. no snow), we spend evenings around the fire pit outside and watch the sky while creating fond memories. And then there was the one night three of us encountered a ghost. Nothing bad. Nothing scary. Nothing threatening. But yeah. A woo-woo filled night. (A building constructed in 1809 is bound to house leftover energy.)

I am so lucky my friend had this dream and was able to make it come true.

 

 

MJ’S Musing: The Allure of Jeans

When I was a teenager, I loved jeans. Even as a young adult, jeans were my wardrobe of choice. Lately…not so much. I guess I’m getting cranky in my old age.

At Day Job, any day we can wear jeans is greeted with much elation, especially among the younger set. But I don’t find jeans comfortable anymore, maybe because I purchase my professional wardrobe to be comfortable.

The more I think about it, the more I realize jeans have never been comfortable. They bind. I remember when I was able to abandon snow pants for jeans–and discovered jeans didn’t really keep you warm in the snow. They’re too hot to wear in the summer.

So what is the allure of jeans?