MJ’s Musings: If Her Nora-ness Can Write…

I have been reading Nora Roberts’ Chronicles of the One and enjoying every word. Can’t wait for book three, The Rise of Magicks to come out in a couple of weeks.

Book one, Year One, reminded me of Stephen King’s The Stand on so many levels. Of course, every other reader of The Stand said the same thing. That doesn’t make the trilogy any less compelling. After all, there are only between six and 1,462 plots in the world (depending on who’s speaking). Everything else is a variation on a theme.  Story ideas, especially from the best, are going to overlap.

A couple of years ago, I had a disturbingly vivid dream. Upon waking I transcribed  the  dream as the opening scene of a novel and read it to my RWA chapter’s critique group later that morning.  One member said, “It sounds kind of like A Handmaid’s Tale.” I had heard of this book, but hadn’t read it. The series had not yet been shown on TV. It may have been in production at the time, but if so, I wasn’t aware of it.

I wrote the book in a couple of months. It’s a dystopian tale that went through several title changes before I settled on The Eleventh Sybil.  I thought the story was powerful. My critique group agreed. I started shopping the book to agents.

By this time, A Handmaid’s Tale was airing. Sales of the novel surged.  A sequel was in the works. I read Atwood’s book while I was writing mine. They are not the same story.

Yet one agent wrote back: “I’ve read this before.”

If I were Nora Roberts, submitting Year One, would the agent say the same thing?

Okay, I get it: she’s Nora,and I’m not. But that doesn’t mean my story doesn’t deserve a fair reading.

MJ Monday: MJ’s Movies-What’s Cooking?

I’ve seen this movie only twice, but that doesn’t stop it from being my favorite Thanksgiving movie of all time.

It is the story of four ethnically different families preparing for  then participating in Thanksgiving dinner.  As one reviewer said, “There’s stress, there’s food, and there’s stressing over food.” The ensemble cast is wonderful.

My favorite part is the variety of textures. Textures in stories matter a lot to me, and this movie sets the tone for each of the cultures by using textures.

I’m truly surprised the movie isn’t better known.

MJ’s Musings: SEP-Lady Be Good

Lady Be Good is not one of my favorite SEP novels. I don’t particularly like Emma (the heroine) or Kenny (the hero). I’m not a fan of golf.  The plot is absurd.  A prim-and-proper British schoolmarm wants to create a scandal to avoid marriage to a stuffed shirt back home, while the disgraced golfer she’s decided to use as a boy toy is bent on changing his image so he can resume his career on the green. Good goals, good motivation, nice conflict. But for some reason the story doesn’t do it for me. Of course the novel is well-written, laugh-out-loud funny at times, but I don’t care enough about either of them to care if either one succeeds.

My favorite character is Kenny’s sister, Torie. She’s strong, she’s quirky, she has baggage. Her love interest, the geeky Dexter, is wonderfully sexy.  I wish more of the story focused on them.

MJ Monday: MJ’s Meals–Sloppy Joes & Sweet Potato Fries

This is a simple meal my family always enjoyed.

Preheat oven, then bake frozen sweet potato fries per the package instructions.

While that happens, make the Sloppy Joes:

  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 2 Tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 2 Tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 3 Tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  1. Brown the ground beef and onion over medium heat. (If you want you can add green bell pepper and/or chopped celery at this stage, but I don’t know why you’d want to).
  2. When the pink is gone from the meat and the veggies are tender, drain.
  3. Add the rest of the ingredients and simmer for 15-20 minutes.
  4. Serve on a roll of your choice, along with the sweet potato fries.


MJ’s Musing: A Halloween Memory

Halloween can be cold in my neighborhood. Some years there’s snow on the ground. The weather can play havoc with costume plans.

One year–I must have been six or seven–my mom made me wear a winter coat over my costume. How humiliating! The matter got worse when the nasty old lady three or four doors down answered her door and said, “Where’s your costume? That’s no costume.” As if she couldn’t see the snow swirling around us.

She had a point. I should have worn my costume over my winter coat.