A most wonderful time of the year

Yes, I am under several deadlines at once! Yes, I am sitting at my desk, writing (sort of). Yes, my mind is wandering!! I have no idea what is coming next in this plot so, like any dedicated writer, I get online and start surfing the web, killing precious time…

If you, too, are killing time, waiting for inspiration to manifest, here are some things to look at/listen to! Free of charge!

Last Christmas, I received my degree in Pastoral Ministry. Here’s the song I celebrated with! Followed by…

…the song the choir sang when I took my first Holy Communion as an ordained minister:

And here’s the song I chose for when I was ordained, even though I was ordained in July, and this is an Easter hymn that is oddly very popular here in the USA at Christmastime (the dull organ intro takes about 60 seconds before the hymn begins but it is well worth the wait!):

Enjoy the start of the season, gang! I suppose I will get back to the typewriter now (ha ha)… See ya!

 

I must regale you!

I’m still not clear about how to keep you updated on one of my really fun new ebook projects, since I will be writing it under a pen name that I haven’t chosen yet, but the illustrator will be using her real name… I must ponder that; how to keep you informed without giving everything away. (Methinks it might be too late.)

But in the meantime, I wanted to regale you with some of her sample drawings for the ebook series. (These will be a series of mysteries, where my cats solve the mysteries unbeknownst to the humans around them. The humans think these solved mysteries are ‘miracles’.  The first book in the series is titled The Miracle Cats and the Case of the Purloined Passport.) (But you didn’t hear about it here, because someone under a pen name is writing it…)

Okay, here is Beck, also known as the Right Reverend Daddy O. Cakes:

The Right Reverend Daddy O. Cakes
The Right Reverend Daddy O. Cakes

And here is one of the tabby twins, Sister Frannie McPhee:

Sister Frannie McPhee
Sister Frannie McPhee

(I forgot to mention that all these cats are also secretly in the clergy and live in a mostly abandoned church in an old church graveyard…)

Don’t you think she’s doing an awesome job? These illustrations  actually look just like my cats.

Well, I for one, cannot WAIT to see how this book turns out!! On that note, I must get crackin’ around here and do some more writing. (I’m also halfway through a teleplay/screenplay project for The Tea Cozy Murder Club: A Murder at Parson’s Ridge. I have to keep switching between them. Sometimes it’s hard to keep the two stories straight since they are both mysteries with old ladies and cats in them.) (Luckily, the musical I am working on with Sandra Caldwell in NYC has no murders, no mysteries, no old ladies, and no cats in it. It’s a lot easier to keep that one straight.)

Okay!! So have a great day out there, gang, wherever you are and whatever you’re getting yourselves up to. Thanks for visiting. See ya!

 

Happy Thanksgiving!

Should I even try to catch you up with what’s happened since I last posted here (2 months ago!!) or simply carry on from today?

I’ll just give you the condensed version:

I finally quit school and that opened up an unbelievabnle amount of time for me to concentrate on my own writing projects.  (This includes learning how to spell ‘unbelievable’.) By my most rudimentary calculations, I’ve written about 210 academic papers on Christianity in the last 3 1/2 years. When I finally quit school and all that academic writing came to a screeching halt, I could not believe how much free time I suddenly had!

I am still working with the actress in NYC on various script projects, although I am still living in Ohio, for now. (A new development company is negotiating to buy my house and tear it down, but the city has to approve their plans first. So this could take either another really long time, or happen overnight. I have given up trying to figure it all out.)

I am working on a series of scripts for women’s TV, based on my cozy mystery story The Tea Cozy Murder Club. I am also still going to be writing the series as stand alone novels. In fact, I am kind of doing it all at the same time. (It wouldn’t be my life if I wasn’t in overdrive.) (I did have one publisher extremely interested in publishing the novels and it was an awesome feeling to see how much they really wanted the series, but I decided to hold out for something different.)

I am also working on a really great series of cozy mystery eBooks that revolve around my many cats, which is being illustrated by my friend in Brooklyn, who also has a ton of rescued cats. She has a daily comic strip about her own little critters, but I’m not sure I can link to it here because I am writing that series under a pen name. Well, once I figure out how to deal with that, I will post a link to her comic strip here.

Since my house is still standing, I decided to break down and buy a new Christmas tree. I had been putting off replacing the old one because I didn’t want to have to pack it up and move it to New York. But since I have no clue now when the move will happen, I bought a new tree and put it up yesterday, so now I have Christmas all over the house again and I couldn’t be happier. It’s been 3 years since I celebrated Christmas in my own home. Yay!!

I don’t know if you were as huge a fan as I was  of the PBS Masterpiece series from earlier this year, Grantchester. I watched each episode about 3 times, and now I am devouring the novels by James Runcie that the series is based on. They are so good. And I have to say, in hindsight, that the script adaptations were really brilliant; they are very much like the novels and yet entirely different. If you only saw the series (which continues on PBS early in 2016), then you should read the books. They are so enjoyable. I am up to the final book in the series:

Sydney Chambers and the Forgiveness of Sins
Sydney Chambers and the Forgiveness of Sins

Each of the books is actually dedicated to me, Marilyn. And the fact that his wife is also named Marilyn is only a bizarre coincidence.

Okay, one final declaration of joy before I take the day off and enjoy my Thanksgiving Day with friends downtown…

For literally years I have been searching for a poetry book from my childhood, The Big Golden Book of Poetry: 85 Childhood Favorites.  It was one of my favorite books of all time (aside from my copy of Betty Crocker’s Boys & Girls Cookbook from 1965, which I still have). My mother was not a big saver of books, so my poetry book eventually disappeared. I eventually tracked it down online but the asking prices were more than I could afford.  The prices vary from the 1947, 1949, and 1964 editions — the link is to a great price for the 1947 edition.  1964 editions are the hardest to find at a low price. The prices came down a bit, went up a bit, and a few days ago, I actually found a copy on Etsy that was really affordable so I finally bought it. It arrived yesterday and I simply cannot believe what great shape the book is in. It almost seems like no one ever really owned this copy or ever read it; it seems that ‘untouched.’ (If you read the customer reviews at that link above, you will see that this poetry book had a profound effect on children 50 or more years ago, and now adults everywhere are trying to replace it! Strange, isn’t it?)

Anyway, it is mine once again and it remains a truly wonderful book!

The Big Golden Book of Poetry: 85 Childhood Favorites
The Big Golden Book of Poetry: 85 Childhood Favorites

The illustrations in this book are just great (the cover illustration is from “The Owl and the Pussycat.”). They really fueled my imagination before I had even learned to read. Here are a couple. One from the poem “Moonsong,” and one from “Wynken, Blynken, and Nod.”

Moonsong
Moonsong
Wynken, Blynken, and Nod
Wynken, Blynken, and Nod

Okay, gang, on that lofty note, have a terrific Thanksgiving if you live stateside, and if not, have a wonderful day! See ya!

Home again, happy, busier than ever!

Howdy, howdy, gang! YES, I am back home and YES, it was a most auspicious trip to New York, and THANK YOU to all of you who sent me birthday greetings last week! Oh, and YES (!!) I had CAKE!

First, I want to regale you with the riot of flowers that are blooming all over my yard this year. These are Roses of Sharon — taking over, as they are wont to do — because I have lived the entire summer not knowing when (or if) I was going to be packing up and moving away… Alas, I am still here, and the yard has become a veritable jungle of blooming madness (and also weeds).

The view through one of my garden gates
The view through one of my garden gates

Multiply all these blossoms on the right by the entire yard — back, front, sides– and you get a tiny idea of how crazy it is around here this summer. I went out to water my little herb garden on the kitchen stoop yesterday and discovered hundreds more blossoms blooming where they had never been before. The other garden gate is so overrun that I have to keep the gate open all the time, or the honeysuckle vines will wind all over it and keep it  permanently shut.

Well, it could be worse. I do love flowers.

So! The trip to Rhinebeck was a complete success.  We hammered out the version of the script that we will use for the staged reading of Tell My Bones: The Helen LaFrance Story. We also made great progress on notes and a synopsis for the one-woman show I am writing for the same actress “about” Pearl Bailey. (I put it in quotes now because it has become apparent that the Pearl Bailey family won’t release any rights whatsoever for outsiders to use her likeness, so we have to tell her story in a different way now, but it will be even better. Yay.)

My most amazing news is that the actress is forming a production company and asked me to be the writer for it, since we already have 4 theater projects we are working on together, and I COULD NOT be more excited! (Even though Tell My Bones is a screenplay, we are also working on a version of it for the stage.)

The downside is that there was a heat wave in Rhinebeck the entire time I was there and the AC wasn’t working right and there were no fans. Not only did I think I was going to perish in the relentless heat and humidity, I was the only person who was being eaten alive by mosquitoes everywhere we went!!

It’s a good thing so much good stuff was happening. It made it easier to just “deal and get over it.”

Now that I’m back home again, the cats couldn’t be happier. They had to have a cat sitter the whole time I was away and since they are all the proverbial “scaredy cats,” it was not a fun time for them. Hopefully, the next trip I make back to Rhinebeck, they will all be coming with me and we will be moving into our new home…I hope. We shall see.

Okay, on this wonderful Monday morning, I leave you with something wildly upbeat. I dare any of you to have a bad day after listening to this oldies gem!!! Thanks for visiting, gang. See ya!

 

 

Off to New York! At least for a few days…

Yes, gang, I am finally off to New York for about 5 days!! I cannot wait!  I will be working on the staged reading of my screenplay, Tell My Bones, with the lead actress and the stage manager, up in Rhinebeck, NY.

Yes, this is where I’m moving to when I finally sell this house and move back to New York.  If you have never been there, Rinebeck is a real gem. And it is only a commuter-train-ride from the heart of Manhattan. So, for me, after having lived in the heart of Manhattan for over a quarter of a century (!!) and struggled like mad in my halcyon days, this is a much lovelier option as I squeak through middle age.

Rhinebeck, the village...
Rhinebeck, the village…
Rhinebeck, the surrounding town...
Rhinebeck, the surrounding town…

But back to the staged reading… It has been postponed until September, gang, because too many of the actors were already out of town, doing regional theater for the summer. So the lead actress and I, and the stage manager, are going to get all the little production-ducks in a row, so that we can hit the ground running once everyone is back in Manhattan come September.

Meanwhile, I am working like a crazy person, trying to get two weeks’ worth of homework turned in this weekend, so that I don’t have to even think about homework while I’m out of town.  Then, the moment I return from New York, it will be my birthday!! That fabulous CAKE time of year!! I will be a glorious 55 years old, gang!! I cannot believe it.

Okay, I gotta scoot. I’m teaching a writing class in about 7 minutes… Have a wonderful, sunny Saturday wherever you are, folks, and whatever you wind up doing! Thanks for visiting. See ya!!

Happy Birthday, Marilyn! July 22nd!
Happy Birthday, Marilyn! July 22nd!

Happy Solstice, gang!

It’s that magical time of year — the Solstice is upon us! The Solstice always harkens the zodiac sign of Cancer, which means that my birthday is just around the corner, gang! And even though I will somehow be turning 55 (!!!) for some hard-to-fathom reason –since I always feel about 12— I never get tired of birthday cake!!

Happy Birthday, Marilyn!
Happy Birthday, Marilyn!

So, Happy Solstice, folks! I don’t even care that it’s going to rain the whole darn weekend, I am digging it!

Oh, and another thing I’m digging is GreenBeanDelivery.com. It’s a group of local, organic farmers. Every week, I now get a ton of fresh, organic fruits and vegetables delivered right to my wee bonnie door. I even get Hartzler’s milk delivered straight from the farm in the old-fashioned bottles! I love it. The milk is a little pricey, but the rest of it is comparable to buying organic produce in the grocery store, but doing it this way directly supports local farmers.

zhartzlers
Hartzler’s Dairy, Wooster, Ohio

If you’re a fan of organic food, you probably already know how great it tastes. It reminds me of when I was little (over 50 years ago), when food in this country actually had flavor. Even though I must admit that, back then, I was super excited by things like Space Food Sticks, Jello 1-2-3, and Shake-a-Pudd’n,  none of which, although we ate them eagerly, qualifies as food…

zspace
Space Food Sticks — Blast off, gang!!
zjello123
Jell-O 1-2-3. It looked stunningly beautiful in the parfait glass! Thanks, mom!!
zpuddn
The totally awesome yet highly suspect Shake-A-Pudd’n!! You can’t touch the 1960s for that unbeatable equation of Food + Gimmicks = So Bad For You!! Yippee-ki-yi-yay!!!

Okay…Here’s something else I am planning to do once I finally relocate and can settle down again:  WWOOF (World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms).  You have to join the organization first, then you get yourself there (requires a passport & visa if you’re going overseas), but then the farmers provide your room and meals for free. In exchange, you work/study 4 hours on the farm each day, and then have the rest of your days/nights free. And you can go anywhere in the world where there are organic farms.

I’m actually more interested in staying on a farm that’s local/regional, and learning about organic farming. I’m more interested in that part than in the traveling part, but it’s a pretty cool way to see the world, too, if you’re into ecological-agricultural things. (For instance, wouldn’t it be awesome to stay on an organic farm in Provence?) (Assuming you ever wanted to step foot in France again, that is. The jury is still out on that for me because I had such a horrible, horrible, HORRIBLE time the last time I was in Paris….)  Anyway, I think it is such a cool organization.

I think it’s safe to say that in my biological family, I’m probably the first generation in a thousand years that has not lived on or worked on a farm at any point in my entire life. However, it still seems to be in my genes, since my life is sort of “farmer-ish.” I go to sleep at 9 PM every night and am up at 5 AM. Then I spend an hour taking care of the many domestic animals around here, although they provide absolutely  nothing but cat hair…

Ha ha ha.

Okay, well, through some sort of SNAFU in both the weather and the AC in my car, my weekend trip was canceled and I now have almost 3 complete days to myself (except for 2 hours of teaching on Monday morning). I am in awe of this development! I have a short paper to write for school, which will take maybe an hour, and the rest of this weekend, I’m going to spend feeling sort of like a human being.  I cannot wait!

So, enjoy the Solstice, gang, wherever you are and whatever the wonderful world throws at you. Thanks for visiting, folks! See ya!

Happy Solstice, gang!
Happy Solstice, gang!

The world of author Marilyn Jaye Lewis