Tag Archives: The Tea Cozy Murder Club: A Murder at Parson’s Ridge

Another touching moment in the hinterlands

I am awestruck anew!

Now that the weather is inching ever Spring-ward, I take a walk in that nearby park almost every day. Today it felt seriously spring-like, once the dense FOG lifted, that is, and I felt like I wanted to spend all morning in the park.  [Do not confuse my early Spring Fever with any desire whatsoever to flee from my freakin’ DESK — Ed.] (ha ha)

Anyway. It was really lovely out there, and I know that as soon as the weather gets really nice, the park is going to get crowded with people. So I’m trying to get as much of that alone-time with nature as I can right now.

To prolong this morning’s walk, I decided to walk up the big hill in the park and go take a close-up look at the Vietnam War memorial at the top of it. (Here is a photo of it that I found online. You need to click on it to see it better.)

Vietnam War Memorial
Vietnam War Memorial

If you are not from a place like Ohio, then the shape of the war memorial might prove elusive to you. However, it is in the shape of a giant stone arrowhead. This whole town is nothing but ancient Indian burial mounds, and Native Indian artifacts, etc. , not to mention Native Indian ancestry among its population so an arrowhead makes reasonable sense. (My own Native American ancestry is, oddly enough, from Montana — a long, long way from here.)

So I walked to the top of the ever-upward-sloping hill and, of course, the view was really lovely from up there. But what really took my breath away was when I discovered that the war memorial had been built to honor 3 soldiers who had died in Vietnam. Three.

I’m so used to war memorials that honor many dozens, hundreds, and sometimes thousands of soldiers, that to find one dedicated to 3 took my breath away. 2 had been Marines and one had been in the Army.

To give you some perspective on that number: about 3,400 soldiers from Ohio died in Vietnam.

This particular war memorial has not only the stone statue, but also has permanent floodlights on it, 2 park benches, 3 flags, and it’s landscaped with paving stones and various shrubbery. It is also meticulously maintained without a single bit of litter anywhere.

That, to me, speaks volumes about how much a town can grieve for the lost lives of 3 young soldiers, nearly 50 years ago, in what became a really unpopular war.

As I was making my way, teary-eyed, down the hill, it occurred to me that every single park bench and every tree in the park, except for the various copses scattered around the edges,  was put there or planted in memoriam of someone beloved who had died. Each park bench has a memorial plaque, and every tree has a plaque describing what kind of tree it is, along with who donated it and to whose memory it was planted. The tree plaques date from the mid-1980s up to a few months ago.  In fact, one Middle School class, back in 1998 planted a tree to the memory of an infant boy named Steven who lived only 7 days.  The tree is mature and strong now and blossoms every spring… No mention of who the parents of the baby were. But what a tribute from the young teenagers — all of them grown now — of such a small town.

I am much more accustomed to living in big cities — and sometimes massively huge cities — where this kind of space just isn’t available.  Most memorials are put in place by rich people, otherwise, it’s just done out at the cemeteries.

I guess this is one of the reasons why this particular park overwhelms me with such good feelings every time I walk in it. And in the summer will come the local baseball games, the volleyball games, the cookouts, and the fireworks on the 4th of July.

Who knows if I will still be living here then, but if I am, I’m looking forward to it.

Okay. Back at it around here, gang.  Plenty of re-writes await. Have a great Monday, wherever you are and whatever you’re up to! Thanks for visiting. See ya!

c - Emily Cooper
c – Emily Cooper

What a relief!

Finally, last night — just mere moments before the airing of the newest episode of Riverdale on the CW — I finished my revisions of Act One of Cleveland’s Burning.

I think I’m happy with it, but I’ll know better once I go over it again here this morning. Last night, however, I was extremely happy with it.

As an aside, I want to say that I really loved how, at least for now, they’ve done away with the pesky problem of pedophilia in Riverdale [Spoiler Aert!!] by simply forcing Miss Grundy to leave town… I guess we’ll see how that pans out. (And, you know, back in the day when I was in high school, they never asked heterosexual teachers to leave town; they basically just told the teenagers who were sleeping with their teachers to “knock it off.”  Ah, the 70s! Gotta love ’em!) (If you were a gay teacher, however, your life was essentially over and they would have put you on the front page of the newspaper.)

Anyway. Back to the topic of re-writes. It is a strange phenomenon, and one I go through with every single project I write — I know exactly what I want to say, yet getting it onto the page can take, literally, forever. At first, I go merrily along, typing, typing… And then suddenly, I hit an impasse and wonder how on earth to get words onto the page. I don’t know why that happens, but it always does. It’s not as if I suddenly lose my vocabulary, or my sense of how grammar is structured. I can see what the characters are doing. Yet I just can’t get the words out!

It makes me INSANE.

However, I can look at all my completed, published projects (of which I have many), and see the proof there that the condition is always temporary, so I stick with it, grueling as it is.

What tripped me up yesterday was having my character go into a diner and order a cup of coffee at the counter. It felt wrong. At first, I thought it was the counter attendant’s age — so I changed him from a teenager to a 50-year-old. Then I had my character pay for the coffee with a dime. (In 1963, a cup of coffee cost a dime.) Then I had him leave a tip. Then I deleted the tip because it was taking up precious screen time. But then the neighbor girl puts a nickel in the jukebox! Suddenly all this screen time is being “spent,” as it were, on dimes and nickels.  It was really just ridiculous. So I stopped everything and walked away. I flopped down on the bed and read several chapters of Peril At End House, c -1932 by Agatha Christie and all was right with the world again.

So back to the desk I went and I realized that the character is simply at the counter drinking a cup of coffee! For heaven’s sake, just get rid of the counter attendant altogether, along with all the dimes and nickels. And finally, the rest of the scenes came and the act was over! Commercial break time!! Yay.

And last night was a great feeling — to finally finish Act One.

Act One in a one-hour TV drama is the longest chunk. Everything else after this gets shorter and shorter, so I really do feel a great sense of relief. Especially since, this coming Tuesday, a mere 5 days away, the notes for Tea Cozy Murder Club will be coming my way… And the final, final, FINAL edits for the one-woman musical I’m working on with Sandra Caldwell in New York are sitting atop my desk, awaiting my attention…

It’s no wonder I wake-up tired.

Okay!! Have a happy Friday, gang, wherever you are and whatever you’re doing! And, as always, thanks for visiting! See ya!

No trick left unturned!! Gotta love it!
No trick left unturned!! Gotta love it!

 

 

Okey-dokey! It’s finally that time!

I got the email from Bohemia Group last night, alerting me that the live table read for my movie-length TV pilot, The Tea Cozy Murder Club: A Murder at Parsons Ridge will be held Tuesday night, Feb. 21st, at a venue called Geeky Teas & Games in Burbank, California.

Bohemia Group is the same production company that is helping me develop my TV pilot script for Cleveland’s Burning (also less popularly known as “Untitled Cleveland Drama”).

I’m so excited about the table read for Tea Cozy Murder Club because it will be a chance for me to hear professional actors (!!) reading the script. (Yes, they read it out loud! They don’t just sit around a table and read it quietly amongst themselves…) (ha ha)

Anyway, this is a chance for me to get feedback on the characters as well as the overall pacing of the script. Then I will get input on suggestions for revisions (not from the actors).

Why, yes! This does in fact mean that not only am I now knee deep in re-writes for Cleveland’s Burning, I will soon have notes for re-writes for Tea Cozy Murder Club on my desk, as well!

But, hey! I’d rather have this kinda problem, right?

For those of you new to Marilyn’s Room, this is the logline and the synopsis for the pilot script:

The Tea Cozy Murder Club:

The members of a small town book club that delights in solving cozy old whodunits suddenly find themselves with a very real not-so-cozy murder to solve. Murder She Wrote meets the Golden Girls.

The Tea Cozy Murder Club: A Murder at Parsons Ridge (Halloween):

Halloween approaches and the days are growing colder; as the leaves are changing to gold and orange, an actual murder takes place at the College at Parsons Ridge. A single, attractive, yet very unpopular teacher is found dead at the foot of her stairs. She is in stocking feet and had clearly been drinking wine alone, so it is assumed she slipped down the stairs and broke her neck in the fall. The members of the Tea Cozy Murder Club are not so sure it’s an accident – they believe it is murder. With the help of Mona’s daughter, Natalie, who is a rookie officer at the local police station, and her boyfriend, Blair Overfield, the man who owns the local inn (an historical inn that is allegedly haunted), the women of the book club decide to put their sleuthing skills to work and solve the murder themselves.

Also, later today, I will be getting editing notes on my revisions to most of Act One of Cleveland’s Burning from the lovely and talented poet/writer/New Yorker, Iris N. Schwartz! I am very eager to hear her feedback. She edited the first draft of the script a couple years ago…

Okay, gang! Enjoy this merry Valentine’s Day, wherever you are and whatever you’re doing! (And here’s my very favorite Valentine from yesteryear!!):

c - 1993 Greg Gorman
c – 1993 Greg Gorman

Thanks for visiting!! Love ya!!

Blessed & restored in the hinterlands!

Yesterday, it was cold here but really sunny. It was one of those February days in which you begin to remember how Spring feels. In fact, when I opened the front door early yesterday morning, I heard birds singing.

After tangling with Cleveland’s Burning revisions well into the afternoon, I decided to go out and take a walk. I really needed to refresh my mind and it has been months since I was able to just go out and walk. (In days of yore, when I lived in the old house, I used to walk 2-3 miles a day. I really missed doing that.)

At the end of my street, here in the hinterlands, is what I had thought was a small playground. Yesterday, I thought to myself: Self, I thought, go walk to the playground and back. Your mind will feel better!

So off I went. The “playground” is less than a 5-minute walk from my house. But when I got there, lo & behold, I discovered that it was a huge municipal park! It had 2 playgrounds, 2 baseball diamonds, a couple of paved walking paths, a huge sand lot — and tons of beautiful tall trees, rolling hills, and green grass that went on for quite a distance.

I  was so filled with joy.  It was like God dropped this amazing piece of solitude right into my lap! There were very few people in the park, partly because it was cold out and partly because it was honing in on the magic hour of Superbowl Sunday.

As I walked over hill & dale & through the wooded areas in absolute tranquility,  fondly recalling the wonderful park my Grandma used to take me and my brother to that was at the end of her street (way back in the early 1960s), it finally came to me that the reason I was struggling with the script is because I needed to take the scene I was revising and really polish it, make it sparkle, even though it will only be a few seconds of screen time.

With that realization, my mind felt free and I felt completely blessed and restored.

There is a lot about my life these days that confounds me — mostly the limbo of it. However, there is so much about it that makes me feel blessed when I take the time to stop and look at it.

For instance, my friend being willing to rent me her 2000-square foot house for next to nothing, so that I can save up money to move back to New York. (Technically, I have enough money to move back to New York right now, but it is so expensive there, I worry that I would be broke in about 2 months…) Plus, she is giving sanctuary to my colony of 8 semi-feral cats.

Not many people would do that. And not only does she allow them to live here, she actually likes them and engages with them when she comes to visit.

I love living out here in the hinterlands (in Tea Cozy Murder Club country — the other TV show I’m writing). Yes, there are farms, and cute alpacas, and cows, and beautiful, pastoral parks, but there are also book stores and plenty of non-chain restaurants, and farmers’ markets around.  So it’s not like it’s the Land that Time Forgot. It’s a little lonely, but these days, I basically need to sit in my room and write, so that’s okay.

Here is a photo of the park. I didn’t take this photo myself, I found it online. So thank you to whoever took it:

The park from the top of the hill. Looking away from the playgrounds and baseball diamonds.
The park from the top of the hill. Looking away from the playgrounds and baseball diamonds.

If you click on the photo, you’ll get a feel for the expanse of it. It is almost impossible to believe that directly on the other side of this park is a huge mall, complete with an AMC multi-plex movie theater!

All right, gang, I gotta scoot! Have a lovely Monday, wherever you are and whatever you’re doing! And remember: Everyday, in every way, it’s all getting better and better!

See ya!

Moving Day is just around the corner!!

As anyone who has ever had to pack up an entire house by themselves and get ready to MOVE knows: My life has been total chaos now for a couple of weeks.

Moving Day is officially this Saturday, 10/22, but on Friday, I move all the cats out to their new temporary home. (I’m renting a friend’s  house for a couple of months until I can find a house I really want to buy and can afford.)

I’m not exactly moving to the middle of nowhere, but it is really far away from everything I normally do. It’s actually out in “Tea Cozy Murder Club” country– my fictional town called Parsons Ridge, which is liberally based on Granville, Ohio. I’m not going to be living in Granville, but in Heath, Ohio, which is about 3 minutes from Granville. Yes, my beloved 2001 Mercury Sable LS Premium Sedan is going to be doing a TON of driving for a few months.  I’ve been getting some work done on it just to ensure it is actually able to withstand the constant trek from the hinterlands into the ‘burbs.

After 10 years of struggling, financially, with this (albeit, wonderful) house, I’m emotionally ready for the move, and I have psyched myself up for the necessity of having to move again in a couple of months, but I just want to make sure that this time, I will be buying a house I can actually afford all on my own.

So, even though I will be in a nice 3 bedroom, 2 bathroom ranch house with a full finished basement come Saturday, I won’t be unpacking anything that I don’t absolutely need. I want to be ready for my dream home the minute it comes on the market!!

Okay. I gotta scoot because I have to start packing up my entire basement today. Just wanted to drop in and say hi! By the way, here’s my living room (click it to enlarge it):

If you look closely, to the far left, you'll see Doris working really, really hard...
If you look closely, to the far left, you’ll see Doris working really, really hard…

All righty! Thanks for visiting, gang! see ya! (OH! I almost forgot! The production company out in L.A. is doing a table read of my script, Tea Cozy Murder Club: A Murder at Parsons Ridge in a couple of weeks. With actual actors! Yay! And they also asked to see my TV Pilot proposal for Cleveland’s Burning… Things are getting exciting again, gang.) Okay, see ya!!

 

Yep! You know what that happy driving dog means!

It means that I’m going to regale you with what I’m currently listening to at top volume while driving along in my prized 2001 Mercury Sable LS Premium Sedan with the killer sound system!

It’s one of my all-time favorite big band numbers, Begin the Beguine, as played by the BBC Big Band Orchestra.

It’s a very upbeat little Cole Porter tune, with surprisingly bittersweet, not so upbeat, lyrics. It often reminds me of my marriage as well as the ending of said marriage. Even though we were not married on a tropical island. Nor were we married under the stars while palm trees were swaying. Not even close. Still, it reminds me…

That said, though, most of the time, when I listen to this song, I recall exceedingly fondly the 5 years I worked with Gus Van Sant Sr. in the business office of Gus Van Sant Jr.’s movie production company. Gus Sr. is probably the most endearing, compassionate, generous, interesting, and kindest man I ever met, let alone worked for.  And while we worked together in his office, he always played big band and swing music on the cable tv radio channel.  Begin the Beguine would often play (that, and Skylark!!) and since it was a favorite song of mine, it made for an even more memorable  & delightful atmosphere. For me, anyway.

Gus Sr.’s wife died last year and he moved back to Seattle to be closer to his kids. I miss him a lot. I miss that job! I miss a lot of things. And though life does indeed go on, I occasionally get nostalgic for the life I used to have, on so many levels.

But there are  some really cool things happening with my writing career right now, gang, so I’m not feeling entirely bittersweet! Sandra Caldwell, the actress that I’ve been working with on that one-woman musical in NYC, recently read my TV script for The Tea Cozy Murder Club: A Murder at Parsons Ridge and she is extremely interested in playing one of the lead roles — the role of Mona Bell. So she has sent my script, along with my script for Tell My Bones: The Helen LaFrance Story, to her new agent in Toronto. (She and I have actually been trying to get that Helen LaFrance project off the ground for a couple years now.  Plus, it’s a script that has a lot to do with my relationship with Gus Sr., so we have come full circle, gang.)

Anyway! All’s good here, if only a tad bittersweet. I now regale you with the BBC Big Band Orchestra’s rendition of Begin the Beguine, followed by the lyrics, in case you’re interested in reading them.  Play the song at full volume!!!! And have a super-duper day, folks, wherever you are! Thanks for visiting. See ya.

When they begin the beguine
It brings back the sound of music so tender,
It brings back a night of tropical splendour,
It brings back a memory evergreen.

I’m with you once more under the stars,
And down by the shore an orchestra’s playing
And even the palms seem to be swaying
When they begin the beguine.

To live it again is past all endeavour,
Except when that tune clutches my heart,
And there we are, swearing to love forever,
And promising never, never to part.

What moments divine, what rapture serene,
Till clouds came along to disperse the joys we had tasted,
And now when I hear people curse the chance that was wasted,
I know but too well what they mean;

So don’t let them begin the beguine
Let the love that was once a fire remain an ember;
Let it sleep like the dead desire I only remember
When they begin the beguine.

Oh yes, let them begin the beguine, make them play
Till the stars that were there before return above you,
Till you whisper to me once more,
“Darling, I love you!”
And we suddenly know, what heaven we’re in,
When they begin the beguine

Written by Cole Porter • Copyright © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc

Life, Unexpected

You may recall that I recently wrote a post about my art project — a “Chore Chart” I made for my cats (see somewhere below) in order to get help with the housework around here and about how poorly the cats were doing with keeping up their ends of things.

Finally, it all came to a head the other day, when I unhappily discovered that all my cats had fleas and all the housework had to be done, by me, alone, posthaste. Yes. Cats that never go outdoors; cats living in a house that has had the central AC on all summer long; a house that sits on a property that has had professional lawn care (including certain insecticides) all summer long. And still all 10 cats had fleas.

8 of the 10 cats are either feral or semi-feral rescues that no human being on earth can touch because they are terrified of people touching them, including me, so they require oral, tuna-flavored, meds that I have to buy in bulk from out of state. Luckily they arrived within 2 days.

Friends tried to comfort me in all this by assuring me that it wasn’t somehow “my fault” and that “fleas are really bad this year,” but it didn’t make the chore of getting rid of the fleas any easier. It took about 4 1/2 hours to  launder all the various bed linens, furniture throws, throw rugs, etc.; then vacuum everything, wash down the floor, and then spray everything with Knockout flea spray. (Oh, the things you learn while eternally fostering a feral cat colony in your home. It used to take me several months to get rid of fleas, now it takes me about a quarter of a day…)

When I was finally done, and after I’d taken my shower and collapsed on the bed, ready to get lost in a terrific Erle Stanley Gardner Perry Mason mystery that I’d gotten from the library, my little cat, Fluffy, the one who has cancer, promptly had a stroke right there next to me on the bed.

The immediate after-effects of the stroke lasted nearly 2 hours and required two more loads of laundry from all the projectile vomiting and temporary loss of bladder control (hers, not mine) and then she settled down into a very deep sleep.

However, in the middle of the night, for two nights running, she woke up with a burst of energy and was doing weird things around the bedroom that she hadn’t had the energy to do for several months and it kept me from getting any decent sleep. At every weird sound she made, or every unexpected thing she collided with and knocked over in the dark, I kept lurching awake, saying, “Oh my God, Fluffy, why are you doing that?” as if her little bewildered self needed to explain to me that she’d very recently had a stroke and was also dying from cancer.

She has since settled way down and is somewhat “back to normal,” all things considered.

Then, yesterday, it was my turn to crash. I didn’t wake-up until 9 a.m. — I  am usually up by 5 a.m.  Twelve hours of sleep. And I was still exhausted. So, unexpectedly (and rather happily, as it turned out) I stayed in bed all day, read my library book in its entirety — The Case of the Stepdaughter’s Secret-– and even began re-watching a series of Midsomer Murder DVDs. I watched 3 of them — a total of 6 hours’ worth of Midsomer Murders in one lovely, rainy summer day. I’d been wanting to re-watch them because I’d recently read Caroline Graham‘s terrific mystery that launched the Midsomer Murders TV series, The Killings at Badger’s Drift.

So it was a day full of mysteries on every front — and I found myself making all kinds of notes for The Miracle Cats series, the series I’m writing with my friend, Val, in Brooklyn. (Sadly, her dad passed away over the weekend after a really long illness, so our series has been on hiatus.) As well as notes for my current novel-in-progress, The Tea Cozy Murder Club: A Murder at Parsons Ridge.

I also managed to eat an entire 14 ounce container of Häagen-Dazs Chocolate Peanut Butter ice cream. All by myself. While spending an entire day in bed.

I have to tell you, gang, it was not the worst way to spend 24 hours! I had a blast. And thanks to the flea infestation, I had an extraordinarily clean house to waste all that time in. I couldn’t have asked for a more delightful day.

kittensleep

Yippee ki yi yay, pt. 1!

In my obsession with cats, both  hither and yon,  I neglected to post here that the much anticipated meeting in L.A. to pitch my TV script/series, The Tea Cozy Murder Club: A Murder At Parsons Ridge, had been re-scheduled for this past Thursday (7/28) and the meeting went SPLENDIDLY!

You may recall that the producer (who is agenting the script for me) (you’ll note that the word “agent” is not only a lowly noun, but also becomes a highly active action verb, simply by adding “ing”) had injured himself pretty badly while working out in the gym a while back, and so the first meeting had to be postponed.

However, as I just said, the meeting was re-scheduled and it went great and so I am sending the script off in the mail on Monday!!

Yippee ki yi yay! (part 1 — the” part 2″ part comes when the production company gets the script, reads it, and swoons, “WE LOVE IT!!”) (“swoon” being not only an action verb, but also a type of speech when used incorrectly in a sentence!)

Okay, gang! I’m off to tinker with my show bible, before sending it along with the script on Monday morning. Have a wonderful Saturday! Thanks for visiting, see ya!

pensivelady
Moi, tinkering!

All this physical fitness must cease!! Pronto!

For the love of Pete!

The producer in L.A. was working out at the gym on Tuesday — yes, the very day of the much-anticipated meeting with the production company on Hollywood & Vine re: my script for The Tea Cozy Murder Club: A Murder at Parsons Ridge — when he tore something in his knee, ended up spending the entire day at the hospital, only to be released on crutches and so he had to POSTPONE the meeting!!

Ay caramba!!

What is this madness for physical fitness?? I’m only partially physically fit and I’m doing just fine. And while I was considerate enough to express concern, to say things that denote “empathy” and not dwell on the totally self-centered elements of this development, I am also searching high & low for a Get Well card that reads:

For Christ’s Sake, Get Better Already!

Meetings, meetings, meetings. When will my lousy knee get better?
Meetings, meetings, meetings. When will my lousy knee get better?

Finally! I really do write!

The final revisions were made yesterday to my TV movie script, The Tea Cozy Murder Club: A Murder At Parsons Ridge, AND I did the highly implausible: I wrote a logline that the producer said was “excellent”.

That’s a first.

Normally, my loglines suck. I usually marvel in awe at writers who can come up with a decent logline right off the top of their heads — or even right after they tinker with it for several days, laboring slavishly. I thought the one I came up with for Tea Cozy Murder Club was serviceable, at best. I imagined the producer would tinker with it until it was better than serviceable.

When he emailed me back and said it was excellent, I was dumbfounded. (“How can that be?” I wondered. “If I was the one who wrote it?”)

This is the logline (drum roll, please): The members of a small town book club that delights in solving cozy old whodunits suddenly find themselves with a very real not-so-cozy murder to solve.

Yes, you guessed it! The Tea Cozy Murder Club: A Murder At Parsons Ridge is a cozy mystery. (So is The Miracle Cats and the Case of the Purloined Passport — see numerous posts below.) Even though everyone the world over knows me for my super-duper killer award-winning literary erotica, I haven’t written in that genre for nearly 10 years, and I only read it now when I’m hired to edit it. Nowadays, I only read religious tomes (this one is jaw-droppingly awesome and needs to be read by everybody you’ve ever known), or cozy mysteries. (I’m currently reading this one, by Louise Penny.)

So, the great news is that the producer will be taking The Tea Cozy Murder Club to a meeting with a production company in L.A. next week! I will keep you posted on how much they love it.

Yippee-ki-yi-yay!

On the Fluffy front (see post below about how my beloved Fluffy has advanced cancer): she is still with us and that makes it a great day! She is quite frail, though. This morning, at dawn, I scooped her up really gently in my arms and took her over to the screen door so that she could see the beautiful world that was awakening outside. It really was lovely out — and cool! 57 degrees! Fluffy was so alert and entranced by the outside world. The greenery everywhere, the flowers blooming and, most importantly, the happy birds chirping like mad.

I just love Fluffy. I will deal with my grief when I have to. For now, it’s just a perfect day.

Well, okay. On that note…Thanks for visiting, gang! Have a perfect day, too, wherever you are and whatever it finds you doing! See ya!