MJ Monday-Manuscript: Excerpt

From my current work in progress, BESIEGED BY THE MOON, currently scheduled for July publication.

Phoebe wished she knew of a way to make Parker angry enough to stalk off and brood. To leave her alone. She didn’t want him around while she meditated. His presence was too disturbing, too disruptive to her calm.

She turned to face the hiding moon. Turned her back on her mate. He was throwing everything off schedule, off kilter.

Velvety ribbons of mist twined in the trees at the back of Helga’s yard. The air was heavy with a storm warning. The night should have been cool, but left-over heat from the day further weighted the atmosphere.

A sign, Phoebe thought. An omen.

“I’ll leave you alone to meditate.”

There might have been disgust in his voice. Distrust. He was one way with his friends, his pack, all show, but when they were alone, he changed.

She could let that bother her. They were mated. Neither of them could do anything about their status.

Inhaling deeply, she settled on the damp grass for a short meditation session. The neighborhood skunk had made his rounds and left his calling card. She placed her quarterstaff next to her. The meditation would purify her, remove the stain of her conflict with Selena. Many tasks needed to be accomplished this night. She’d sloughed off enough.

MJ Monday-Music: Simon & Garfunkel/Paul Simon


Paul Simon wrote a good portion of the soundtrack of my life. From The Cyrkle’s hit  “Red Rubber Ball” to his solo album Graceland, I was a fairly steady Paul Simon fan. (I lost track after Graceland. I’m not sure why.)

My favorite years are, of course, the Simon & Garfunkel years, and his first two post-Garfunkel solo albums (he recorded a solo album before S&G “hit”, The Paul Simon Songbook).

In high school I wrote a term paper comparing the lyrics of Paul Simon with those of Bob Dylan. I found many parallels.

Even now, when I am officially older than dirt, I continue to sing snatches of his lyrics as situations warrant. One of my favorites is “I’ve got the paranoia blues…” which is from his first post-Garfunkel solo album,  Paul Simon.

A younger generation was recently introduced to the power of his lyrics when Disturbed covered “The Sound of Silence.” Does it make me a traitor to admit what Disturbed “did” to the song is far more powerful than Simon’s version?

 

 

MJ Monday-Movies: The Big Sick

The first time I viewed The Big Sick I was with my husband. My critique partners and I watched it again on a recent retreat. It’s a good movie. It’s a true story that takes the larger issues we in the US are facing today and brings them down to the personal level.

It’s the story of an aspiring comedian/Uber driver whose family came to the US from Pakistan and an all-American girl who meet and fall in love. But his family and heritage create problems that hurt the heroine. The heroine becomes deathly ill and is hospitalized, bringing her parents into the story.

We see how prejudice often stems from not understanding and that with effort–sometime a lot of effort–we can overcome our preconceived notions. All of this is wrapped up in a romantic comedy with laugh-out-loud moments and a happy ending.

Five stars.

MJ’s Monday-Meals: Mexican Lasagna & Mexican Slaw

This meal started with this recipe for Mexican Slaw. A friend had made it on retreat and I loved it. I had made it for something–I can’t remember what now, but there were leftovers, so I decided to invent something to go with it.

Over the years, I have read and tried many recipes for “Mexican Lasagna.” I’ve even liked some. But on this night, I had to work with what I had on hand.

  • Chicken  (a pound or so)
  • 1 14-15 oz can corn, drained
  • 1 14-15 oz can diced tomatoes with chili seasoning
  • 1  14-15 oz can seasoned chili beans, drained BUT NOT RINSED
  • 1 envelope taco seasoning
  • 2 8″tortillas
  • 8 oz shredded Mexican Cheese blend

The first thing I did was preheat my oven to 350F.

Then I sprinkled the chicken with about a tablespoon and a half of the taco seasoning and cooked it in a frying pan.

While the chicken cooked, I drained the can of corn. I mixed the corn with the can of chili-seasoned diced tomatoes (something my supermarket sells). Then I drained the can chili-seasoned beans–I think they’re pinto beans with chili seasoning. The key here is to drain BUT DO NOT RINSE. I almost always rinse canned beans, but not in this case. I added the beans to the corn and tomatoes, then added the rest of the taco seasoning packet.

Once the chicken was done, I shredded it with two forks and added it to the vegetable mixture.

I sprayed a square glass baking dish with cooking spray, then laid in an 8″ toritilla.

I topped the tortilla with half the veggie-chicken mixture, then covered with half of the shredded cheese, then repeated the process.

Bake in the 350F oven for thirty minutes or until heated through and the cheese has melted. Let it sit for 5-10 minutes, then cut into 9 squares (I have a large pizza cutter I use for this).

Serve with the slaw.

MJ Monday-Manuscript: Confession Time

No excerpt this month. I’ve been struggling with the final book of the Service for Sanctuary trilogy. I like the hero. I like the heroine, although I still don’t know her as well as I need to. I took time off around the holidays to open my mind to her. That’s why my publisher graciously agreed to push back the publication date.

I want the book to be the best one I can write for my readers.

It will be worth the wait. I promise.