MJ Monday: MJ’s Music–The Monkees

Another of my teenage idols passed away recently. Peter Tork of the Monkees.  I vacillated between Mickey Dolenz and Peter Tork being my favorite. Some of my earliest forays into writing fiction included Monkees stories, which would now be called fanfic.  Mrs. Sherman, my sixth grade teacher, caught me passing stories to my friends. She called me up to her desk. I just knew: So. Much. Trouble.

Instead, she complimented me on my writing, but asked me to not share the stories during class.

Here’s a song from the Monkees’ third album, Headquarters. Vocals are by Davy Jones, who passed away several years ago,  on the first verse; Peter sings the second verse.

You can also hear Peter at the end of the chorus, sounding lonely, singing , the title of the song: “Only Shades of Gray.” The lyrics are just as relevant today as they were when the song was released.





MJ’s Monday–Meals: Vegan Buddha Bowl #2

Here’s another vegan variation on a Buddha Bowl my friend Kris shared with us.

Again I start with quinoa (instead of rice). 

While the quinoa is cooking according to package instructions, I drain a can of sliced beets.

I place them in a dry cast iron skillet and chop them.

I cook them on medium high heat, stirring frequently until bits are blackened.

While everything is cooking, open a can of mandarin oranges and drain them. Or peel an orange. I’m lazy. Canned mandarin oranges are shelf friendly.

Drain the quinoa.

Mix the quinoa, oranges, and beets together.

If you want, you can add precooked chicken, but quinoa is a complete protein, so adding more isn’t necessary.

Then I add my handy-dandy Sesame Ginger salad dressing

And voila. A colorful, flavorful complete meal.

MJ Monday: MJ’s Motivation–How Badly Do You Want It?

How badly do you want it?

That’s the most important question you can ask yourself when you’re going after something. Because if you want something badly enough, you will work your tail off to obtain your goal.

I have written almost all of my life. I always considered myself “the Writer” of my elementary, junior, and senior high school class. Imagine my shock when I went to a class reunion and discovered that not one, but two classmates had published books. My high school class was small–I attended a rural school district. There were maybe 100, 110 of us.


My entire identity was at risk.

Having my self-definition of who I was threatened made me reconsider what I wanted to do about my dream. Did I want to continue slogging along, trying to get another agent or a  contract with a Big Five publisher or did I want to be a published author regardless of the route? How badly did I want to retain my personal status of class scribe?

How badly did I want to  say, “I am a published author?”

Eight published books later, with contracts for three more, I confess: I wanted my identity bad enough to revise my dream to suit current publishing reality.

What’s your dream? How badly do you want it?




MJ Monday: MJ’s Manuscript-Betrayed By Moon Exceprt

I’m pulling pieces of the manuscript before revisions, so these selections may change in the published version.


Selena stopped next to a neon cowboy hat advertising roast beef sandwiches and lifted her face to the night sky. Light pollution from the city cloaked most of the stars, although a few planets pierced the haze. The moon, waxing her way to the Milk Moon of May, begged for a song.

Selena sniffed the air as a precaution. No danger mingled in the hint of rancid grease from fast-food franchises, a rotting Dumpster, or the dog droppings someone hadn’t scooped. A smoldering cigarette added to the potpourri. Faintly, indiscernible to most humans, lilies of the valley leant their fragrance to the night. 

Selena resumed her jog. College town, the area around Warwick College, was safe enough. Still, she remained alert, her nose, her ears, and her eyes at the ready. She’d been careless once. Never again.

MJ Monday: MJ’s Music–The McGarrigles

Back in the last millennium, I was introduced to a duo of folk singers named Kate & Anna McGarrigle. Their voices were unusual; their music–most of which they wrote–was unique. Kate was married to Loudon Wainwright III of “Dead Skunk in the Middle of the Road” fame (whom I saw in concert  with Bob Dylan). Their son is Rufus Wainwright, who has carried on the family’s musical heritage.

They wrote songs other artists covered: Linda Ronstadt’s “Heart Like a Wheel” is a McGarrigle composition.

They covered other artists, too. I love their Cajun version of Bob Seger’s “You’ll Accompany Me.”

Kate passed away in 2010.

I purchased digital versions of my favorite McGarrigle albums a few years back. Now, a lot of the music sounds kind of whiny to me, but some is still fresh and delightful.

This is probably my favorite McGarrigle song.