The Mommy Files: Names

When X-Chromo was very first learning to talk, we discovered something interesting. We played the standard game with her: point at something and ask her, “What’s that?” or at a person and ask, “Who’s that?” The latter was quite common at the dinner table every night.

I would point at my husband. “Who’s that?”


He would point at me. “Who’s that?”


One of us would point at her older brother. “Who’s that?”


Y-Chromo’s given name is nowhere near “Hmph” in sound. Neither were his many nicknames. But night after night, she would respond: “Dada, Mama, Hmph.”

If you look up the definition of “hmph” you’ll see that the sound indicates annoyance or indignation. Traits that set the tone of their relationship for next several years.

MJ Monday-Manuscript: Finding Nuggets

As I type this, I’m “between” projects. I’ve turned in the last book I have contracted with my publisher and have gone through a couple of rounds of revisions. All good. My editor makes my book better.

I’ve been noodling around with an idea I first had back in 2010. I have the notes to prove it. Periodically I would think of something and add a note.

This past spring, ideas started coming fast and furious. New twists on the original idea.

I picked up a book belonging to my husband that I thought might be helpful. Reading it turned out to be a “gold” mine of ideas. So many nuggets! A basic plot started coming together in my head. A little more research revealed I had a “six degrees” relationship to the idea. Actually a second six-degrees relationship.

All I’m going to say right now is that I’m deep into research on something I think is going to be wonderful. I’m fairly certain it’s not a romance.

Here’s another confession: the nuggets I found weren’t gold–they were silver.

Thursday Thought: A Weird Moment

A couple of years ago, my husband and I (and maybe a chromo or two) were heading downstate.  We stopped for lunch at a major fast-food franchise. Nothing unusual.

We were sitting in a booth by a window, keeping an eye on our vehicle. What I saw next astounded me.

A big truck pulled into the parking lot. It was a cattle truck. The cows were mooing.

“Is that a cattle truck?” I asked my husband.

“At least we know the beef is fresh,” he replied.

Which is weird because I’ve always heard the burgers weren’t made from real meat.


Thursday Thoughts: On Being Essential

My day job is working for a beverage distributor. According to the Department of Homeland Security and the governor of my state, I am essential. My employer takes this seriously. Not because they can make money, but because we are a business-to-business industry; we help other business stay in business. (My internal editor is cringing at all the “businesses” in this paragraph!) My company has donated to a bartender relief fund.  When ventilators were donated to my state from another, Jet Blue provided air transportation  and my employer donated the ground transportation.

My employer takes the safety of its employees seriously. We have been given masks. Hand sanitizer–we’ve even made our own. Our temperatures are taken every morning before we enter the building. Social distancing is strictly enforced. People have been hired to do nothing but walk through the office and wipe down the surfaces with sanitizer several times a day.

My particular team has the option of working from home. Several of my co-workers have taken advantage of this.  I have not. Other than my hours being changed, my routine hasn’t been drastically altered. And yeah, I like getting out at 4:30 instead of 5:30. If and when I have to start working from home, I’m afraid I will never want to leave my house again.  It’s the downfall of being an introvert.

I order in food when I can, and am as generous as I can be when tipping delivery people. I want my favorite restaurants to stay in business.

The toughest part of being essential has been talking to restaurant and bar owners who have been forced to “pause”. Some of them will be okay. Others are scared they will lose everything. Some cry. Others curse. All I can do is listen and assure them I will work with them once the state is off pause. We want them to stay in business.

I’m not a health care professional or a first responder. I don’t work directly with the public. But I’m proud of what I do to keep the economy going.

MJ Monday-Manuscript: Excerpt

From my current work in progress, BESIEGED BY THE MOON, currently scheduled for July publication.

Phoebe wished she knew of a way to make Parker angry enough to stalk off and brood. To leave her alone. She didn’t want him around while she meditated. His presence was too disturbing, too disruptive to her calm.

She turned to face the hiding moon. Turned her back on her mate. He was throwing everything off schedule, off kilter.

Velvety ribbons of mist twined in the trees at the back of Helga’s yard. The air was heavy with a storm warning. The night should have been cool, but left-over heat from the day further weighted the atmosphere.

A sign, Phoebe thought. An omen.

“I’ll leave you alone to meditate.”

There might have been disgust in his voice. Distrust. He was one way with his friends, his pack, all show, but when they were alone, he changed.

She could let that bother her. They were mated. Neither of them could do anything about their status.

Inhaling deeply, she settled on the damp grass for a short meditation session. The neighborhood skunk had made his rounds and left his calling card. She placed her quarterstaff next to her. The meditation would purify her, remove the stain of her conflict with Selena. Many tasks needed to be accomplished this night. She’d sloughed off enough.