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 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 Musings-Book Bingo: Best Selling Romance: JAK Promise Not To Tell

The Book Bingo category is BEST SELLING ROMANCE and what better book to fill that square than Jayne Ann Krentz’s 2019 release Promise Not to Tell. This story is the third in a trilogy revolving around adults who, as children, survived an intentionally set fire in a cult compound where their mothers were hostages.

Three of the male survivors were adopted by the local cop. As adults, they formed a detective agency. Each story of the trilogy revolves around finding the cult leader who tried to kill them so many years ago. Each heroine has a different issue for which she needs a detective’s help.

If you’re a fan of romantic suspense, I highly recommend the entire trilogy.

 

MJ MJ Monday: MJ’s Movies-ROB ROY (vs. BRAVEHEART)

Many years ago, a friend  who headed up the local cinephile society told me Rob Roy with Liam Neeson contained the best sword fight scene ever filmed. Being a huge fan of The Scarlet Pimpernel (MFTV 1982 with Anthony Andrews and Jane Seymour), I sincerely needed to check out Rob Roy.

The film came out the same year as Braveheart (1995), and was seemingly lost in the flash and dash of Mel Gibson, and that’s a shame. Yes, both motion pictures are historical Scottish stories, although they are set in completely different eras. Both portray the forever conflict with the “English,” but they are not at all similar.

I’ve seen Braveheart only once and remember being  not especially impressed with it. It was big. All encompassing. Broader in scope. Epic. Rob Roy tells the story of one man and his family and how the “English” occupation impacted them. The story is more intimate.  More personal.

And the sword fight scene my friend praised? Oh, wow. Again, no flash and dash. One man, weary to his soul, fighting for his honor.  The key word here is weary.

If you haven’t seen it, make an effort. Thoroughly enjoyable movie.

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.