MJ Monday: Manuscript

As I type this blog, New York State is still “paused,” although that is scheduled to begin easing in some parts of the state at any moment.

I shared my day job situation in an earlier blog post.  One of the things I deal with every day at the day job is despair. Some of the accounts I handle are scared they won’t survive the Pause.

My husband comes home every night and turns on the news to hear the latest on the Pause and global reactions to the pandemic. More despair.

I am in despair overload. I cannot face the despair of my characters as they struggle to overcome adversity in the story, even though none of it is real.

I reached out to my editor and my publisher and explained the situation to them. They, being the wonderful people they are, completely understand.

I hope that you, my readers, will understand, too.

This doesn’t mean Besieged by the Moon has been abandoned. It means I want it to be the best book it can be, and right now, my brain isn’t in a place where I can make that happen.

MJ Monday-Music: Needing Silence

Sometimes, a person needs silence. That need, in today’s society, is treated as an aberration. I love music. I have eclectic taste. But sometimes the music has to stop.

My day job is working in an office. A cube farm. Phones ring and telephone conversations are constant. The climate control system roars most of the day. And yet if there is even a nook of silence in all that, someone will call out, “Hey! Turn on the music!”

I have often said there was no music in the 80’s. I was only slightly wrong, and I can prove it. The only radio station we can get (the office location is in a low spot) plays music of the 80’s, 90’s, and forward. It is owned by a huge, national company, and the playlist is set. The same songs play every day. Every. Single. Day.  Apparently only 30 or so songs survived from the 80’s and 90’s. I rest my case.

Years ago, when I worked in retail, the store playlist would drive the employees crazy because of the repetition. This radio station playing in my current workplace does the same thing. At least to me. The only difference is the play list is mixed up. “Shallow” isn’t always followed by “Drops of Jupiter” or “Heaven is a Place on Earth.”

Heaven is really a place where a woman can hear herself think.

MJ Monday-Movies: People Will Talk

Someone on Facebook recently mentioned People Will Talk was airing on TV. I mentioned it to my husband, who recorded it. Neither one of us was familiar with the film. A few weeks later, we sat down to watch and were more than pleasantly surprised.

It stars Cary Grant, Jeanne Crain, with Hume Cronyn and Walter Slezak along with and uncredited appearance by Margaret Hamilton in one of the early scenes. It’s billed as a romance/comedy/drama. All three categories are correct.

I didn’t realize the complexity of the movie until after I watched it. The plot lines are so finely woven together the stories make complete sense. One plotline involves a doctor (Hume Cronyn) trying to discredit another doctor (Cary Grant). Another is  the romance Cary Grant carries on with an unwed mother.

You read that correctly. This movie was released in 1951, after the Hayes Code was put in place. An unpunished heroine unwed mother?  Even the family of director Joseph Mankiewicz aren’t sure how he slipped that one past the review board.

There are several laugh-out-loud moments.  The romance is delightful. There is political intrigue and honor.

Five stars.

 

MJ Monday-Meals: Potato Pie with Hamburg Gravy

Every year, my mom makes a birthday dinner for each one of us. This year, I requested something different. Something from my childhood. Comfort food. Except my mom couldn’t remember how to make it, even though it was a regular meal at our house while I was growing up: Potato Pie with Hamburg Gravy.

Please note: this is NOT Shepherd’s Pie. Whenever we tried to Google or Pinterest a recipe, we always came up with Shepherd’s Pie. NO. The dish is similar but not the same thing.

My sister had modified the recipe for her family, although she hadn’t made it in years, so Mom further modified her version for my birthday dinner.

There are three key components:

  • baking powder biscuits
  • mashed potatoes
  • gravy with onion and ground beef.

The way I remember the dish is with the biscuit crust, filled with mashed potatoes, then baked. When the pie was done, one ladled the gravy over it.

We ended up breaking open a biscuit on our plate, topping it with mashed potatoes, then with the gravy. It was so good. My daughter asked for the recipe a few weeks ago.

If anyone knows or remembers how to make the pie–is it only a bottom crust or both? How long do you bake it? –please reach out to me. This is an entree that shouldn’t get lost.

MJ Monday-Manuscript Excerpt

Besieged by the Moon (tentative release date July 8, 2020)

The cool night air felt light, as opposed to the heavy, humidity-laden summer nights of Phoebe’s home. Nothing weighed her down, not even the awkwardness of her mating with Parker.

“Are you okay to walk?” Parker asked, as if she hadn’t already walked to the diner.

“It’s not the walking that has me dawdling,” she admitted. “Your friend’s mate gives off a lot of negativity. I’m not in the mood to deal with attitude.”

“Well, you and Ethan were giving off some strange vibes,” Parker reminded her.

“You thought they were strange?” Phoebe’s voice rose half an octave. “Try being on our ends.”

“I still don’t understand it.”

Phoebe studied the overhead sky. Too much ambient light in town dimmed the stars, even though she viewed them through the shimmer of tears filming her eyes. “He reminded me of . . . someone. I don’t want to talk about it.”

They walked in silence, their footfalls scuffing on the uneven sidewalks. Most of the houses they passed were dark. Here a backyard light was on; there the pale bluish glow of late-night TV illuminated a window. A string of early Christmas lights twinkled on the eaves of another dwelling. Dog droppings scented the air.

They rounded onto the block on which Ethan’s house sat. Phoebe noted there was only one other house on the block, and it seemed to glitter in the feeble beams of the corner streetlamp.

Help me. Please.

Parker’s head jerked up. “Did you hear that?”

Phoebe nodded. She tilted her head to get a better sense of the direction from which the plea came.

Please. Somebody.

“Over there.” She pointed to the sparkly house across the street from Ethan’s.

“Helga,” Parker muttered, and sprinted toward the house.

Phoebe followed.

“Helga?” he called out. “It’s Parker Rowe, a friend of Ethan’s. Are you okay?

“I fell,” came the weak reply.

He tried the doorknob. Locked. “I’m going to have to break down your door,” he said.

“Wait,” Phoebe said. Wasn’t it just like a male to be destructive when a little finesse would do?

She didn’t have her tools on her, so it took about sixty seconds to disengage the lock rather than the fifteen it should have taken, but nothing was destroyed in the process.

The look Parker gave her as she opened the door, was quick but disturbing. He rushed past her to the occupant, who was sprawled in the middle of the living room floor. “What happened?”

Phoebe followed, nose prickling at familiar scent of burnt sage clinging to the air.

“The batteries in my TV remote are dead, and I haven’t had a chance to get to the store,” an old woman whined, as Parker knelt next to her. “I was going to turn on the TV and fell. I hate getting old.”