This weekend, a friend came to town for our first post-vaccination visit. I am embracing these moments of being together after such a long stretch of not seeing the people who mean so much to me. We took the opportunity of reuniting to attend two art exhibits, and I wanted to share how immersing myself in someone else’s artistic creation affects my writing.
First, we went to see the Obama Portraits at the Chicago Art Institute. Kehinde Wiley’s portrait of Barack and Amy Sherald’s portrait of Michelle not only capture the two important leaders but also tell powerful stories about their presidency, backgrounds, and race in America. I was moved to deep emotion. I had a hard time pulling myself away from the portraits to continue to enjoy other artwork at the gallery. I felt as if the Obamas stood in front of me, explaining the significance of their lives.
Second, the following day, we attended the Frida Kahlo Exhibit at the College of DuPage here in the Chicago suburbs. The curators packed a ton of important information and stories into telling her history – and then you experience a number of her paintings and portraits. Seeing her life as expressed through art was as moving as the Obama portraits but in a much different way. The gender, race, and art history were profound.
I wish I could command everyone who reads this blog to go to both exhibits! How does such art weave into my writing? Because viewing the images tapped into my emotional center, prompting thoughts about the human condition and the meaning of an individual’s life. All of the artwork inspired me with the creativity and power of the artist’s brush, much like a writer uses a pen to tell a similar story. Sometimes as a writer I must step away from the actual craft and experience life and art to renew and inspire myself. Three amazing artists in two days certainly energized me anew.
As many of you know, I love Christmas! Decorating, celebrating, preparing for winter – all fun! So of course I enjoy a bit of Christmas in July, such as getting my new ornaments at Hallmark’s Keepsake Ornament Premiere or taking advantage of Christmas in July sales.
All of which prompts me to remind you: if you’re still wondering about a good summer read and want to connect this desire to Christmas in July, don’t forget about Santa Is a Vampire! Simon the Elf will chill you on the beach this summer with tales about the true nature of Santa!
Paul and I returned from our first vacation since August of last year. Because of the pandemic, we have stayed home until now. After we were both fully vaccinated, we did inch out to have dinner with friends, ate outside once, and began to return to some normal activities. And we had family and friends visit our house, which was exciting! Both his parents and my side of the family came for visits. Being close again to family was fantastic and emotional!
But Paul and I thrive on getting away for a little while, and therefore really missed vacation. We stayed with super close friends of ours, who own a house of Chautauqua Lake. It was good for the soul to be with long-time friends, to get away from daily routines, and to do nothing but chat, laugh, drink, eat, and enjoy life!
Time away for us rejuvenates out spirits. As a writer, I find the opportunity to walk away from my work routine refreshing – I return with an eagerness to dig back into my stories. So much of the tales I write involve relationships and navigating the world around us in community that gathering with friends and family help to tap into the feelings and experiences I imbed in my novels.
I’m off to write some more – feeling renewed and energized, glad to be with loved ones again after a long pandemic induced absence.
I am venturing into new territory these days with getting myself to do video interviews and such. Full confession: I am NOT comfortable hearing my voice on a recording, let alone seeing myself in a video! But alas it’s the twenty first century and social media and the like kind of demand it.
Thankfully, I found someone kind and gentle for an interview! Nichi, the host at Dark Between Pages, is a lovely human and had me in for a visit. She made this painless and fun! Thanks to Nichi, and I hope you enjoy! The link is below.
While I am still busy promoting my recent release of The Vampire’s Witch, I am also plugging along on three current projects! Here is a round up of my current works in progress:
The Vampire’s War: Book V in the Realm of the Vampire Council! I have two sections of the final chapter and the epilogue remaining to write on the fifth installment in my vampire series. Then I will edit the manuscript and send it to my beta readers for comment. A dangerous foe threatens the vampire world. Jaret Bachmann wants to fight but finds himself stonewalled by the Vampire Council. Tragedy and danger lurk at every turn, as well as a forbidden lust . . .
The Easter Bunny Is a Werewolf. In Santa Is a Vampire, Santa manipulated Simon the Elf to reveal Santa’s true nature as a deadly vampire. Now he wants to loan Simon out to the Easter Bunny because the fuzzy fellow has a secret of his own to share. The dark humor of Simon the Elf returns in this grim springtime tale.
Untitled. I grew up as a HUGE Star Wars fan, and remain so to this day. My brother once asked me why I never wrote a space adventure, given my fandom. I said nothing ever inspired me the way my other stories have . . . until now. I just started a new young adult novel in which alien spacecraft invade earth. Sorry – that’s all I can tell you right now!
I shared these links previously on social media and my blog but wanted to give you a round up of them: in the last couple weeks, I did an interview with Wrote Podcast and appeared on two panels at the International Queer Authors and Readers Uniting Stories Convention. I had a lot of fun in all three of these, so please check them out!
Hey, Everyone – I have super exciting news! I am participating on two different panels this weekend (May 8th) at the IQARUS: International Queer Authors and Readers Uniting Stories Book Con! Please click this link for information about the entire virtual conference, which I think is super exciting and fun: IQARUS Info!!!!!
Here are my specific appearances on Saturday, May 8th:
I will do a reading with the panel: The Queer Character Doesn’t Die in the End: Queer Horror at 3:00 p.m. Central Time (i.e. Chicago Time). Please go to the conference website this Saturday for the link!
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I am super excited to be participating in the IQARUS Conference on May 8th! Some amazing queer authors have put together an international, virtual conference, with all sorts of exciting panels and discussions and readings, oh my!
The Vampire’s Witch welcomes readers back to the world of vampires, witches, and magic. Jaret Bachmann’s life spins out of control after a handsome stranger saves him from an attack along the bike path on Lakeshore Drive. His estranged high school sweetheart stalks him, the enraged ghost of his ancestor destroys his family, and his bike path savior-cum-lover abandons him after learning Jaret is a powerful witch, all of it sending Jaret into deep depression. Struggling to find his way afterward, Jaret searches for comfort in the unlikely friendship of a secret vampire community. Xavier, Thomas, Anthony, and Catherine return in this, the third book in The Realm of the Vampire Council series and a sequel to The Bachmann Family Secret. Over time, Jaret’s friendship with the vampires strengthens and he forges a new family connection with Xavier, Thomas, and Catherine. But he and Anthony are estranged and though their souls are entwined, their hearts are another matter.
My blog seldom ventures into my role as a historian. I tend to stick to news about my writing, other fiction, or general information about myself and the world around me from a cultural perspective. I decided to break from my typical blog posts because a story in The New York Times this week struck me in a profound way.
For obvious reasons, news about Covid 19 dwells on the danger, loss, and overall fear associated with the pandemic. The overwhelming number of those we lost, the devastation to the economy, and the tragic way protecting ourselves became a political issue dominate our attention.
But history will also record heroes who came to humanity’s rescue. The article about Dr. Kati Kariko offers one such magnificent example. Dr. Kariko dedicated her life to laying the groundwork for what became the mRNA vaccines. I’m not a scientist so please read the article, linked below, for a much more eloquent, accurate, and succinct summary. However, my eye as a feminist/historian noted something else: she accomplished this feat while working in the STEM fields, long the dominion of men and riddled with prejudice. While the article itself shies away from the gender analysis, it jumped out at me. The words Mitch McConnell fired at Elizabeth Warren came to mind while reading Dr. Kariko’s history: “nevertheless, she persisted.” And because she toiled away in relative anonymity, she has forever altered the course of history. She saved lives. Her story moved me to tears. Thank the heavens, she persisted.