MJ’s Musings: My Log

For many years, my parents heated their house with wood.  One of the many chores my siblings and I had to do involved stacking firewood.

I’ve always been one to notice details. One day, while stacking logs, I noticed several that appeared to have been etched. I asked my father if I could have one of them. He said yes. He explained that insects between the bark and the wood had made the marks. I didn’t care. I was fascinated by patterns.

I carried the log with me through many moves while I was in my twenties. Most people thought I was weird. Then I met TV Stevie, who asked me about the log. Turns out he had one, too. Something about it appealed to him.

We still have both logs, careful not to burn them in our own wood stove. Our logs predated “The Log Lady” on the TV series Twin Peaks. We never received cryptic messages from ours, but who knows? Maybe the etchings on mine reveal the secret of life.

MJ’s Musings: SEP-Dream a Little Dream

Dream a Little Dream is my least favorite of the Bonner brother/Chicago Stars books. I don’t like Gabe (hero), I don’t like Rachel (heroine), I don’t like Edward/Chip (Rachel’s little boy). I don’t like that a favorite character from Nobody’s Baby But Mine  was dead. Maybe Rachel and Gabe’s respective backstories are too bleak and dark and need the comic relief the dead character provided in Nobody’s Baby. I don’t know.

The humanizing of Gabe is well done. My heart breaks for him. But he’s not a romance hero. Rachel’s return to the scene of her late-husband’s crimes is well-motivated, but I still can’t warm up to her.

I’m the first to complain when so many romance novels conflicts seem trite (to me), so I’m not sure why the grim premises of this story bother me so much. It is a testament to the author’s skill that I feel this so strongly.

There were things about the book that I did like: I liked that the evangelical huckster got his (before the story opened); I liked that Gabe’s parents weren’t in the book (Jim & Lynn Bonner from Nobody’s Baby But Mine), and I loved Gabe’s brother Ethan and the subplot involving him and his secretary.  I love that God speaks to Ethan with Oprah’s voice.

Three stars.

MJ’s Musings: My Favorite Mugs

There are too many coffee/tea mugs in my house. There are boxes of them in the basement. They are stacked in the cupboard over the stove. They reproduce faster than guppies.

Four of my most favorite mugs have been broken: two oversized bright yellow mugs, a cobalt blue one from the 2000 RWA National Conference Chapter Presidents’ Retreat, and one my parents brought me back from Florida–a lovely gray and purple beach scenes with the moon rising over star fish in the dune grass.

Here are four of my current favorites:

I call this my SARK mug because of all the brilliant colors. I like to drink tea from it. It was a gift from a critique partner one holiday when we drew names.

I purchased this mug at the Margaret Mitchell House Museum  when I attended the RWA National Conference there in 2006. It was the last one I’ve attended. The legend at the bottom says, “In a weak moment I have written a book.” I also have the matching refrigerator magnet.

This is my favorite tea mug. I purchased it from an import store in Syracuse that eventually became Pier One–but the mug predates that. My then-room mate and I each bought one. This mug is older than most of my co-workers at Day Job.

Captain Planet! When I worked in local TV, I was given a lot of mugs by program vendors (see previous comment about boxes in the basement, although I did leave many at the station when I left).  This was always my favorite. The reverse side reads THE POWER IS YOURS. The interior is a fabulous periwinkle blue. How can you not love Captain Planet?

MJ’s Musings: Book Bingo-Self Published Author

I live under a rock when it comes to popular culture. A total and complete rock.  I freely admit I don’t watch a lot of TV and I rarely read outside of my comfort zone. That’s why my RWA chapter’s Book Bingo is good for me.  My competitive nature loves a challenge.

I failed this year. Miserably.  I read many category squares but didn’t achieve even a single bingo.  Part of my lack was from being busy writing. Three books coming out in less than a year is challenging. No excuses. I agreed to the schedule. And it hasn’t kept me from reading. According to my Goodreads challenge, I’ve read over 100 books this year. I’m not ashamed of that number.

I did read a self-published author. Actually, I’m sure I’ve read many. My reading is really random. When the #copypastecris scandal broke out–a major plagiarism case–and Nora Roberts got involved, I checked out the list of authors whose work was stolen.  Many favorites were included, but there were other names on the list with whom I was not familiar. I settled on the author whose fan was the first to discover and report the plagiarism: Courtney Milan.

Now, I don’t know if she is exclusively self-published (and this is one of frustrations I have with Book Bingo–the time spent trying to locate books that qualify for the square), but I decided The Duchess War (the plagiarized book) would fit the bill.

I loved it! I loved it so much, I read the rest of the series. (Thank goodness for my local library and Kindle downloads.) Milan’s heroines are so different than the usual historical heroine. As much as I love historical romances, sometimes they get tiresome. Not so with the ones in this series.

Five stars.

MJ’s Musings: Early Bird or Night Owl?

I am what is known as an early bird. I get up early. It’s my best time to think because the distractions of the day haven’t yet attacked.

But I often wonder if I am naturally an early bird or was my circadian rhythm warped by my upbringing. When I was a child, even a teenager who often babysat until the wee hours of the morning, my mother made sure I was out of bed by 9AM every morning. People who lingered in bed were lazy and slothful.

Part of this could be my dad having to get up at 4AM to work in a factory every day. So naturally bedtimes at our house were early.  I get that.

But since being an adult and with my children adults, too, when I’m not bound by the alarm for the day job, I do tend to stay up later at night–and to write and write well.  So perhaps my natural cycle is that of a night owl.

Maybe when I retire I’ll find out.