Ian Sings to Maggie: Mercy of the Moon

Maggie Wilson is a serious woman. She’s a midwife in the 18th Century, and all she’s ever known is Work and Duty. The first time she meets Ian, he’s singing. When they work together to save her sister, he’s singing. When she’s angry, he tries to calm her with his music, and makes her feel things she’s never felt before: Longing. Desire. And he makes her laugh. So to celebrate his ability to charm and uplift her, I give you a passage from Mercy of the Moon, book 1 in the Rhythm of the Moon seriesShe is extremely angry, and he is accompanying her on a walk:

“She felt like an instrument of the devil, full of poison and a heartbeat away from screaming like a harpy and clawing her way through town.

He held her upper arm firmly, and she felt his fingers through her cloak, cool, calm. A deep rumbling arose from his chest, and he began humming, then louder, to match the ferocity of the wind. That was the preamble, apparently, for suddenly he released her arm, leaped in front of her and began to sing.

‘”My woman, when she’s angry, puts Medusa’s hair to shame.

She rouses all my senses and sets my soul to flame.

When she unleashes fury, a virago gone insane,

I’m only very thankful I am not the one to blame.'”

                                                 COPYRIGHT ©2014 Jennifer Taylor

The song has the desired effect on Maggie. More on that tomorrow, when I talk about passion.

Mermaids and Music

Happy Musical Monday.

My heroes have always been musicians, so it’s no surprise my novels would feature a hero whose blood hums with music every minute of the day. Ian Pierce was probably born singing. Throughout the series, he has a habit of bursting into song, composing ditties to amuse and defuse. It comes in handy in an 18th Century port town, like when he performs his apothecary duties. Let me share this passage from Heartbeat of the Moon (book 2 of the Rhythm of the Moon series) where he’s trying to distract rickety old Captain Jenkins:

“I came upon a mermaid,

Whose hair as white as pearl

It swirled around the water,

She was a buxom girl.

Her eyes they looked upon me

And softened up my soul,

But hardened up my nether parts,

And therein was the goal.”

COPYRIGHT © 2016 by Jennifer Taylor

Ian adapts his music to whatever audience he entertains. Show me a sailor who doesn’t like a mermaid!  But when he entertains his lady Maggie, he sings an entirely different tune. I’ll tell you about it on Thursday.

Thanks for joining me. I’ll be talking about Ian and music all week.


The Power of Music Amidst Chaos

Music has always been a comfort to me in times of stress. Remember when the only way you could listen to your favorite song was on the radio? There was only one radio station I listened to, the one that had Casey Kasem’s Top 40 every Saturday morning.

This was the 70’s. Either you listened to your song on the radio or you bought the single, or if you were really lucky, the whole album. We weren’t wealthy, and to buy an entire album was a huge deal. In those days, I spent a lot of time deciding which album would be mine.

I loved Elton John from the very beginning. Around 1972, I saved my allowance to buy his Friends album. I listened to it constantly. “Madman Across the Water” on Tumbleweed Connection made me cry. My friend Diane and I saw him in concert during his big eyeglasses stage. More than anything, I wanted to be one of his backup dancers. I still do.

Back then, I used music to escape the tumultuous world around me. There was a lot of unrest going on in the world, and although I lived a sheltered life, I could feel the waves of rebellion around me. I hid with my music and my books. Music was a way for me to manage my emotions. Remember the scene from Cameron Crowe’s Almost Famous, when they’re in the bus, mad at each other? Then someone plays “Tiny Dancer,” and they start singing? It was like that.

Nowadays, music continues to be a comfort. But it also enables me to make connections between the many songs in my head and what’s going on in the world. If a song is running through my mind constantly, it’s usually because it can be applied to what’s happening around me.

This last week, the Elton John song, “Madman Across the Water” is ever-present. The mood and melody of the song reflect the fear, hate, and uncertainty in the world, and the manipulation of those emotions by opportunistic individuals and groups vying for power. It’s gut-wrenching.

Why listen to a song if it makes me cry? Because it’s beautiful. Because it offers a release, as music always does. And most of all, because it reminds me that despite the upheaval in the world, there is beauty in the creation of melody and lyrics and the power they possess to move and uplift. And that gives me hope. I hope it does the same for you.

Does music move and inspire you? What do you listen to when you need shelter?



Close to You: Music and My Mom

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Like most twelve-year-old girls in the seventies, I had my ears glued to Karen Carpenter’s smooth, evocative voice. I spent hours in front of the mirror in the privacy of my bedroom, hairbrush in hand, belting out her songs with the emotion they deserved. I wanted to be just like her. One big problem: I was shy. It seemed likely the mirror would be the only audience I’d ever have.

Mom had a different idea.

My mother, now eighty-something, is a talented lady. Back in the forties, she was a first class dancer who gave up a career in NYC to marry my father. She was a minister’s wife, a job which encompasses the roles of politician, ambassador, hotel manager, entertainer, and on and on. Most daunting of all, she raised five children. After we were all in school, she also worked outside the home. And she’s an artist:


                                                         She likes to paint on old bottles

My Lady Mother is still one of the most modest, humble people I know, and has never lost her creative spark.  She tap-danced until the age of eighty-five, with a grace and elegance right up there with the great ones.

She can also sing, which brings me back to my awkward years. It turns out Mom volunteered the two of us for a duet at the church’s mother-daughter tea. My big-time balking was no match for her calm, matter-of-fact reassurance, so I agreed to sing the Carpenter’s “Close to You” with her.

I worried about it for weeks, imagining all kinds of heinous scenarios. I would open my mouth and screech. I would trip and fall, dragging Mom down with me. I would lose my skirt. (This last one actually did happen in front of a much larger audience years later, but that’s a story for another day.) No amount of practice tamped down the embers of anxiety in my stomach.

The moment arrived, and I walked with her to the piano, knees wobbling. The whole world watched. I looked down, chock-full of fight or flight, too scared to look at the audience. Her hand clasped mine, gave it a reassuring squeeze. I lifted my eyes to hers, took courage from her smile, and the music began. She began singing, and I followed along, her beautiful soprano voice like a gentle tug on my hand, guiding me out of my fear and into the world of music I loved so much.

Thanks to the gentle guidance of my mother, I discovered I could sing in front of an audience despite my shyness. It was the first of many performances.

Mom still provides a feeling of peace and reassurance. I am beyond grateful for the gift of her nurturing, knowing how precious it is.