Friday, December 21, 2012

A New SIte That Matches You Up WIth Books!

I am so excited about this new site. It is the coolest book site ever. Here's how it works:

You go to and fill out your preferences for genre, types of characters, subplots/genres, etc and they show you which books are your best fits. Then you get a sample and buy links where you can go and read reviews, a bigger sample and purchase.

So far, they have over 550 books and 23 genres.

Seriously, you can't lose. It is free to use and easy, too!

While you're at it, give their facebook page a "like" if you would:

Their grand opening is this weekend, so any social media you can use to spread the word would be appreciated by Steve, the owner of the site.

If you tweet it, please use the hashtag #bookmatchers at the end of your tweets.

I don't have ownership in the site, but I am very excited about it's possibilities for both authors and readers. Will you please join me in helping go viral?

Thank you and Happy Holidays!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Growing Gideon (My Love Is Alive)

Today I am taking a break from my "Those Crazy Bohemian" series of blogs. Most of you know that we are grandparents by love to the child next door: Gideon. Most of you know that we are childless by choice and have never regretted it.  And, most of you were probably gobsmacked to find out that - not only are we crazy about the baby next door - I am babysitting weekday afternoons.  Yeah, I know. This crazy bohemian has gone least in this area.

I had babysat on Fridays last year, along with some evenings. This past September I started babysitting for them "full time". Since Gideon does not come over until 11:30, I can write in the mornings, and I also write while he naps in the afternoon.

There is something holy about babydom. Jen, Gideon's mother, calls him magical.  I have to agree. He has changed me (and I would also include Dave) in many ways; all for the good. I have loved deeply before in my life. But this? This love is so powerful, so mind blowing that my eyes fill with tears just watching him take his next breath. Everything he does is magic. Every breath he takes I thank God for. If something happened to him, I would never again be the same.  Not even close.

Since I had no younger brothers or sisters, I never got to watch a child develop on a day by day basis. This spring I pushed him in a stroller and watched as he saw flowers for the first time. Just imagine that. What does the mind think, that very first time our eyes see the intricate beauty of flowers? This fall he was no less impressed with the dried leaves, pods, and grasses.  He could touch them for who knows how long...I stopped and let him touch and wonder, but couldn't stay for as long as he could probably just process. All of a sudden I, too, could see the magic in a single blade of dried prairie grass.

He not only walks now, he runs.  And walks backward. And twirls. The past two weeks he has been walking on tip-toes, and quite proud of it, thank you very much. Every single day he learns something new, becomes a little more advanced. Yesterday he realized that the large Lego blocks didn't just fall apart, he could take them apart piece by piece after Gamma put them together. His brain knew that somehow they go back together. He pressed them together, wrong parts. Any day now it will click. The round part goes into the part where there is emptiness.

He talks, too. No sentences or phrases, but words. More words all of the time. At fourteen months, he is a virtual learning machine. He no longer wants to sit on the floor and play with toys where you press levers. Now it is all about action, about walking, running, being chased, hiding. Balls are a big hit. Of course, when not feeling well (new teeth, cold, etc) he will revert back to less ambitious playing, but that's okay.  It is nice to go back six months every once in awhile, although I would much rather he felt good.

I am so honored to have this brand new person to the planet in my life. It is a privilege to care for him, protect him, and teach him.  I make sure to treat him with not only love, but dignity and respect. His soul will thrive in his body only if those who care for hm do so to the best of their abilities.

Yes, my love is alive. I have known love in many forms. The love I have for my husband is so deep, so timeless that I thought nothing could match it. Believing we have been together several lifetimes, I know we are always together. But this? This love for a child is just as profound, just as deep.

In short, Jen's right: it is magical.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Those Crazy Bohemians (Party at Au Lapin Agile!)

One of the two most popular places for artists to hang out during the whole bohemian era was a notorious, raucous  cabaret named Au Lapin Agile. Au Lapin Agile was located close to Place de Tertre in Montmartre and had been in existence since around 1850. It had always been a place where people gathered for sing-alongs. Sounds innocent enough, right?

The Au Lapin Agile attracted all kinds, however. Wagoneers with their knives stuck in the table tops as they drank, local villagers, artists, writers, pimps, down and outers, and anarchists all gathered there.In fact, the original name was Cabaret Das Assassins because a band of assassins broke in and killed the owners son.The songs sang were often either political and inflammatory or sexual in nature.

In 1875 an artist named Andre Gill painted a sign that hung outside the building showing a rabbit in a chef hat jumping out of a saucepan; a tribute to one of the dishes served there. People soon started calling the place Le Lapin a Gill, which meant "Gill's Rabbit". It evolved into Cabaret Au Lapin Agile (The Nimble Rabbit Cabaret). Most simply called it Au Lapin Agile or Lapin Agile. Once the name changed it became even more popular with artists, still drawing the same questionable crowd in addition to well off bourgeois slumming it for an evening of ribald fun.

There is conflicting information on who owned this cabaret for a time. Some information shows that a woman owned it for awhile (in fact during the time the sign was painted). I can't recall her name, but I believe she was a singer in another venue for awhile. Other references indicate that the artist who painted the sign (Andre Gill) actually owned it for a time. Whoever owned it did little to discourage riffraff from frequenting the place, but they were also very kind to artists.

Paintings were sometimes accepted in exchange for a meal. There was also an unspoken rule that at the end of the night any artist who had no money to eat would be given soup. Artists also had total freedom to become as drunk as they wished, fight, and pass out in a chair at one of the tables. They were not to be disturbed when they did so. Police were not to be called, either. In the morning they would simply wake up and stumble away.

Toward the end of the nineteenth century it was constantly packed with painters, writers, comedians, sculptors, poets, musicians and singers who all thrived on the energy and sharing of ideas there. Also, ownership had changed and a man named Frédé ran it. He had owned a previous cabaret and also pushed a wagon of goods around town. Because of that he owned a donkey, who would often ramble around the various tables in front of the cabaret, along with a flea bitten dog. Many nights Frédé played his guitar or cello as patrons sang.

In the early 1900's Picasso made Au Lapin Agile a favorite haunt of his.  He did a painting titled Au Lapin Agile in which he was represented as a harlequin and Frédé is shown playing the guitar. It belonged to the cabaret and Frédé sold the painting in 1912 for $20! In 1989 it was auctioned for $40.7 MILLION dollars.

Just think about how many drinks and dinners that would have bought all of those crazy bohemians! (More to come later on this era of artists)

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Those Crazy Bohemians! (What is Impressionism Anyway?)

Impressionism. We have been talking about it for awhile now on this blog. Most people have heard of it even if they aren't particularly into art or painting. But for many it remains just a word.  What defined Impressionism? Why was it so different from previous painting style?

We already established that artists knew they had to do something different in order to still be valuable.  The camera had seen to that. Impressionism was essentially freedom. It had started a few years earlier, but it's first "launching" was in 1874.  The Cooperative and Anonymous Society of Painters, Sculptures and Engravers decided to have a showing at the studio of Felix Nadar, a journalist who was also a photographer. Thirty artists (among them Monet, Degas, Pissarro,Cezanne, Renoir, Sisley, and Morisot) exhibited together eight times between 19874 and 1886.

It was a rebellion against Academie des Beaux-Arts. The Academie was considered the authority in the realist styles of French painting. If you didn't paint like they insisted, you were nothing in their eyes. The Salon de Paris was their annual art exhibit.  For new artists and struggling artists it was extremely important to get into this show. They could win prizes, earn commissions, get reviews, and become a known artist with a good reputation.

The Impressionists were painting with different brush strokes, using brighter colors, and paying much less attention to detail.  Instead, they were interested in how light affected a subject during different times of the day or season. They also were painting landscapes and community life instead of religious, mythology, or family portrait types of paintings. Some of them also decided to stop trying to give depth to a painting.  A canvas was two dimensional and so they painted their buildings flat. The artists mentioned above were routinely getting rejected over and over again. Can you imagine Monet or Cezanne being seen as "not good enough"?!

In 1863 the Academie rejected Manet's painting Luncheon of the Grass because of the nude woman in it. This rejection was considered ridiculous by Manet's fans, even those who were traditional arts patrons. That year so many artists were rejected that Napoleon II decreed the start of the Salon of the Refused. The reviewers, however, were rabid. Cezanne and Monet got verbally beaten up the worst. Their work was called "unfinished sketches" and "impressions". Here is what one said:

I"mpression—I was certain of it. I was just telling myself that, since I was impressed, there had to be some impression in it ... and what freedom, what ease of workmanship! Wallpaper in its embryonic state is more finished than that seascape."

Regardless, these painters kept painting, accepting the name Impressionist for themselves and Impressionism for their work.  This style of painting would go on to affect not only painting, but literature, photography, and film making. This avant garde painting style, and the artists who worked in it, were eventually embraced  widely by the public. Unfortunately, for many of them it would not be until after their death.

Don't let the word Impressionism fool you.  There are a wide variety of art forms that were born from this style of painting, making it more diverse and stylistic than at first glance. I dare say that all of modern art owes its existence to those crazy bohemians who embraced the term "Impressionism" and painted as they pleased, regardless of the consequences.

Thank you for reading this. We will learn more about these artist's lives in future blogs.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Those Crazy Bohemians (If you can't join 'em, beat 'em!)

The rise of Impressionism didn't happen easily. Paris was known as the capital of the art world, and the powers that be of that great city were not happy that a bunch of "misfit" artists had the gall to paint outside of the lines. The art schools and the people who sat on the committees for art shows in Paris had very strict rules.

Those rules dictated how one painted. They expected - no, demanded - that an artist followed those rules if they ever hoped to get in a public show. From how to apply paint on a canvas to subject matter and style, these people governed how art should be made. When the Impressionists began ignoring those rules it was not seen as a good thing.

In fact, these powerful people made sure they did everything to squash Impressionism from the start. No artist that painted in this style was allowed in any of the highly renowned public shows. This hurt the artists quite a bit. Without the public becoming aware of their work, how were they supposed to make a living?

No matter. These bohemian rebels started their own shows. Finally Napoleon II gave permission for a show of the misfits. This was known as a show for all of the artists who had been rejected entrance into the more prestigious shows. Not a very enticing advertisement! At first, not many came to their shows; and those who did came to laugh. The term Impressionism was originally a slam to the movement, a derogatory term.  The journalist and critic Louis Leroy looked at one of Monet's works and snorted "Impression!" and then went on to say, "Wallpaper in its embryonic state is more finished." Thanks to him, one of the greatest movements in the art world was given its name.

Impressionists were interested in landscapes and contemporary life, not religious, mythological or historical scenes. Capturing light and how the same scene changed during different periods of the day was an important part of their painting. Many of them also refused to try to make a painting look three dimensional.  Since the canvas was two dimensional and they were not trying to "trick" people into seeing their work as real, but as a painting, they painted the scenes flat.

Yes, a new movement in art was born, thanks to those misfits. Things would never again be the same in the art world. We will continue to look into the lives of those crazy bohemians in future blogs here.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Giselle: Keeper of the Flame (Book 4 of The Gastien Series)

I am pleased to announce that book 4 of The Gastien Series is now available for Kindle, NOOK and kobo.  It will be available for paperback by the end of November.

Europe is full of dark memories. Giselle's love is forbidden; her chance to be a mother destroyed. She flees to New York where she becomes the haute couture fashion designer to the wealthy, high-society Grand Dames of New York. After all, she had been mentored by the legendary Charles Worth himself.
Giselle’s past remains cloaked in shadows, increasing her allure. Her heart is engaged by a man who comes to her only in secrecy, drawing her back to her mysterious past.

When her brother dies and his wife abandons their child, she takes on the care of her infant nephew. Giselle decides she has to stop and take stock of her life. She has been given her one chance to be a mother, but the cost will be the end of the few moments she can still have with her one true love.
Yet love is not easily destroyed for those who are strong enough to survive its pain. For Kindle readers (Book 4) For NOOK readers (Book 4) For kobo readers (Book 4)

Please sign up for email notifications of future releases by Caddy Rowland:

Thanks for bearing with me while I announce this new release.  We will get back to Those Crazy Bohemians with the next blog. 

Monday, November 5, 2012

Why give permission to take advantage of you? VOTE!

Tomorrow is the day we elect a new president, new members of congress, and vote on various amendments. Are you going to bang that same old drum and not vote? You know, it isn't protesting when you simply don't vote.  I am so tired of hearing people say they aren't going to vote because it doesn't matter. You know, it's not rebellion if you choose to stay home from the polls.  It is stupidity, and it is surrender.

The people in positions of power (on both sides of the coin) are counting on you to feel powerless. If you feel powerless, they keep their power.  Their power is the power to change your life, and by staying home from the polls you give them permission to do just that. We live in "the land of the free", but some of you willingly give up your freedoms by not voicing your opinions.

There is an old saying that you shouldn't talk politics.  Bullshit. You SHOULD talk politics and you should talk it loudly and often.  That doesn't mean you don't give the other side equal time.  It doesn't mean you have to be rude and hateful.  It DOES mean you voice your opinion loud and clear, no matter what people think about it.  Polite people don't talk politics?  Ummm, no.  Ignorant people don't.  People who want to be doormats don't. The powers that be are hoping you actually believe that you shouldn't talk politics.  Why?  Because then they can run your lives in whatever way they wish.

Don't like lobbyists?  Don't like oil companies getting huge payoffs and tax breaks?  Well, what are you doing about it? Whispering in the dark to yourself and staying home from the polls?  That won't help. Voting isn't the only thing you need to do.  You need to get involved with others who are like minded and work for change.  Protest.  Go to Washington and fill the lawn with you and others like you.  Especially young people.  I am old and tired.  My voice is not nearly as strong as those that are young.  MAKE A DIFFERENCE instead of just bitching!

You have a right to complain even if you don't vote.  The only trouble is, you look very foolish doing so. It ain't rape if you bend over and hold your cheeks apart.

You know, my generation made a huge difference in the 60's.  We protested.  We yelled.  We got angry. Women saw huge gains in equal rights (something that many now want to take away).  A war was exposed for what it was. Minorities started to see change.  Then, for some reason we baby boomers went from being a force for change to becoming the worst bunch of materialistic asshats that society has even seen.  Young people, the future of politics and of this country is in your hands. Don't follow our lead and give up. Take your ideals and make them reality. It isn't easy, but wouldn't it be worth it?

Women, minorities, gays, lesbians, artists...where will you be tomorrow? Sitting in a corner bitching about things or at the voting booth?  There are some very real social issues at stake for you. If you care about your freedom, how can you stay home? Click here to find your voting location.

Hey, I am a flaming liberal, but I don't care if you are tea party.  The point is, you need to follow up your belief with action. Get loud.  Get angry. Get out there and vote! If you don't, you have once again bent over.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Those Crazy Bohemians! (Place du Tertre)

As an indie author, I can appreciate the new found freedom the Impressionists found when they started painting outside.  How nice to be able to get out of the confines of a studio and be out in the fresh air! I know that I enjoy writing outside during the months that weather permits.  There is just something about being outside that inspires me. Regardless of if the Impressionists were in a busy city setting or out in the countryside, I am certain that they found it to be inspiring, too.

The most popular place to paint outside in Montmartre became Place du Tertre. Sitting in the heart of Montmartre's elevated area, this tiny cobblestone square became a hub of artistic activity. Men painted frantically, new ideas coming faster than paint could dry. Those ideas were shared and tested, sometimes to great success.

Place du Terte had some trees, but was surrounded on all four sides by village life going on about its business. Many people would stop and watch those bohemians, shaking their heads either in wonder or in confusion as to why anyone would try to paint a street scene in "those" colors! What the villagers couldn't know was that history was happening right before their eyes.  This era is now seen as one of the most influential, if not the most, periods in art history. Oh, you crazy bohemians. You were just trying to find a way to keep eating.  In the process, you set the world of art on fire.

It didn't hurt that Place du Tertre was only a few blocks away from the infamous Au Lapin Agile, a favorite watering hole for the artists. Au Lapin is so steeped in history that a future post will be devoted to it.

Artists still gather to paint at Place du Tertre every day.  In fact, it grew so packed with artists that one now has to apply for a permit to paint there.  The permit, of course, costs you money. The day is divided into two parts, with some artists jealously guarding their extremely small space until lunch, and others coming in after lunch to claim those small areas. Dining tables have also been crammed in, taking space away from artists.

Now it is commercial.  Now, many of the artists overcharge and - quite frankly - don't paint nearly as well as they should in order to ask the prices they seem to think they are entitled to.

But back then?  Ah, back then they painted for the love of it.  They painted because they had to, and only hoped they would sell a piece before they went hungry too many nights. Overcharge? Hell, some would  give a painting away in exchange for a small piece of cheese, a baguette, and a small bottle of the cheap red wine the nunnery in Montmartre produced.

And if they got those things, they usually didn't hesitate to share with their friends. After all, what is a good glass of vin worth, if not shared in the company of others?

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Those Crazy Bohemains! (At last, painting en plein aire)

As both an indie author and a painter, I completely relate to the excitement and fear the nineteenth and twentieth century bohemian artists of Paris felt in regard to their new found freedom.  Now they could paint what they wanted, yet they were not guaranteed any income! The same is true for indie authoring/self publishing. It is a roll of the dice. But, oh, what freedom!

This freedom to paint whatever they wanted was joined with the need to paint in new ways. This was not the only freedom that these artists had for the first time, however. Something very simple and basic to us had just started to exist for these artists.  Paint in tubes.

For the first time, artists did not have to spend hours painstakingly mixing their colors from raw pigments mixed with medium of their choice. This took hours and confined them to studio painting. It was simply too difficult to be portable. When painting in tubes became widely available the game changed. Now artists could pack up and paint wherever their hearts desired! Imagine the excitement of painting for the first time en plein aire (outside)!

Now artists could paint landscapes and street scenes in new ways, capturing the glow of sunrise or sunset, the glare of full sun, the shadows as they moved across the buildings during different parts of the day. The colors of things changed depending on the weather and time of day. Artists had always known that, but now it was even easier to capture on canvas. Gone was the desire to paint picture perfect. Instead of worrying about making a two dimensional canvas appear three dimensional, many Impressionists allowed their painting to look flat. They concentrated on showing us something different: The brightness, the glow, the shadows, the color. Show me something different indeed!

These Impressionists found they had a new problem when painting outside. Now they needed to work quickly, and oils take time to dry between layers. They began to work alla prima, or wet-on-wet. This technique not only allowed them to work faster, it demanded they do so. It was imperative to get the layers on before the first layer dried.

These artists shared techniques and ideas constantly, both at popular painting sites and at cabarets, such as Au Lapin Agile and Chat Noir. One of the most popular places to paint en plein aire became Place du Tertre in Montmartre. Although technically part of Paris, the village maintained that it was independent of the city, and it was the place where Impressionism truly began. We will talk more about these famous places, and about the bohemian artists and their lifestyle in later posts.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Guest Post: Author Molly Greene "Five Things I Know Are True"

Today I have the pleasure of hosting Molly Greene, who has written a contemporary fiction book that is also a mystery. She joins us to give advice for coping with the ups and downs of self publishing.  I found that her advice not only applies to the writing/publishing part of my life, but to having a happy, enjoyable life in all areas. Like Molly, I won't always succeed in following this advice, but I sure will try.

Five Things I Know Are True
by Molly Greene
Upfront disclosure: Perfection remains below my sightline, out of reach. I don’t pretend to know it all, and I am not trying to give advice about the best way to cope with life. However, as a self-published author in the midst of a wild indie rollercoaster ride, I have found that good life coping skills can also be used to smooth the path. These behaviors and beliefs work for me.
Humor helps Laughter smoothes the rough patches and highlights the wins. I appreciate people who make me chuckle, and I cultivate relationships with friends who value a sense of fun. Drama is something to be avoided. Since there are lots of opportunities for drama in the publishing world, I try not to take it all too seriously. I said “try.”
Almost all bad luck leads to something better There’s an old saying that goes something like, “Great good fortune is disguised as extreme bad luck.” Does that mean we’re supposed to get excited about a flat tire, flooded basement, computer malfunction? No. What I try to do is focus on solution and wonder how the Universe is going to turn the chaos into a benefit. It’s tough, I don’t always manage, but I do cultivate the ability to ask myself what good may come of the crappy things that happen. Bottom line: Release disappointments and focus on what’s good.
I am responsible I am responsible for my behavior and the choices I make, and my decisions – good and bad – helped form the person I am. I can’t blame anyone else for sad, bad, or angry outcomes. I choose the way I view opportunities, people and events, and these choices help determine the quality of my life. I can’t control things that happen or other people’s reactions, but I am in the driver’s seat when it comes to choosing my response. And I am proud of the moments when I catch a glimpse of the individual I aspire to be.
Whatever I’m avoiding is most often exactly what I need to do The conversations I don’t want to have, the patience I don’t want to summon, the approach I don’t want to take, the feelings I don’t want to acknowledge, the tasks I don’t want to begin: whatever I’m sidestepping is usually a red flag. If I just do it, it’s seldom as bad as I thought it would be. The benefits reach beyond the obvious. For instance, when I began to tackle my hardest work projects first thing each morning, I developed better self-discipline overall and my life worked better.
Perseverance is key Life – and self-publishing – is often frustrating and disappointing. That’s not going to change. When I was younger I was a quitter, but eventually I found that walking away for good is just as unsatisfying as dealing with problems. So now I simply choose to persevere. I give myself permission to close the computer, take a drive, and avoid a given situation – until I feel strong again, or regenerated or renewed or once again equal to the task. Then I take a deep breath and start over. It’s okay to take a short vacation, but never, ever give up on your dreams.
Buy Now @ Amazon & Smashwords
Genre – Contemporary Fiction / Mystery
Rating – PG
More details about the book
Connect with Molly Greene on Twitter & GoodReads

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Those Crazy Bohemians (Why Impressionism?)

The period of Impressionism saw artists begin to paint in new and exciting ways.  For centuries artists had been painting realism, making paintings exact reproductions of the subject matter.  Strict rules had been followed and subject matter often was religious or portraits of family members of the upper class.  There was also still life and landscape.  Every painting had been done to "perfection" rendering an eternal picture of how a person or place actually looked.

What changed artists and their visions in the nineteenth century?

The answer was simple.  It would be romantic to think it was all about artistic vision and the desire to always create something new.  While those things were definitely part of the equation, the main driving force behind artists painting in a new way was one of the most basic: survival.

You see, the camera had been invented and was becoming more and more effective at taking photos. What use would there be for artists who took weeks and months to finish a portrait when a photographer could be hired? True, the photographs were not in color.  But artists realized that it was only a matter of time before that would no longer be true and, if they did not change their style, they would become obsolete.

Another problem compounded the dilemma. Class structure had changed.  Now there was a middle class.  The lower middle class was called proletariat. The lowest of these proletarians were the artisans. All of a sudden, more and more artists who painted found themselves on their own and struggling to put food in their mouth.

You see, for centuries artists had been employed by the very wealthy to paint family portraits and history, many times staying on permanently as a staff member to continue to paint that history over the years.  They had a place to sleep, food, and sometimes were even treated like a family member.  It really depended upon the family how the artist was seen.  Some families considered the artist another servant, and provided minimal lodging, food, and a small wage.  Others loved their artist and had them sit with them at family meals, gave them a room in the main house that was luxurious and paid them quite well.

The trade off? The artist had no freedom to paint what their soul cried for them to paint.  All of their time was taken up painting for the family. Many artists mourned the fact that they spent their life painting things they would rather not be painting, just to make a living.  Still, the fact that they had food, shelter and a wage was nothing to turn one's back on.

Then the camera came. All of a sudden, it became more and more rare for an artist to have permanent employment with a family.  Sure, they could be hired once in awhile for a painting, but even that was not guaranteed. Now they had the freedom that all people blessed with artistic ability long for...but no money! No place to live and, very often, nothing to eat. Artists began living in squalor, sometimes going door to door with paintings begging for buyers at any price, just so they could eat. Even Renoir and Degas had to peddle their paintings just to make rent at times.

It seemed there was no happy medium. Artists today still struggle to make it.

These artists began gathering and talking with each other. Ideas fed off of each other and soon the images that were talked about began to appear on canvas. They knew everything that they painted going forward had to have something different about it or it would never sell.

I, for one, am happy that all of this change occurred.  Realism generally bores me. Look, anyone who can paint can do a vase of flowers exactly how it looks. All artists can create a still life in exact replica of the items places in front of them.  So can a camera.  If you want a reproduction, for God's sake just take a picture.

The new mantra for these bohemians was "Show me something different".  And did they ever! We will talk more about those crazy bohemians in future posts.  For now, I will just end by saying this: If you want real art hanging on your walls, go for the piece that shows the ordinary in an extraordinary way. As those bohemians realized, THAT is what art would and should be, moving forward. Once art becomes stagnant it ceases to be the driving force it is meant to be.

Art should always be fresh and alive. Art should always strive to reinvent itself; to be something different. Anything less tarnishes the very definition of art.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Those Crazy Bohemians! (Why Montmartre?)

What made the artists of Paris leave the city and move to Montmartre in the nineteenth century? The first answer is the most common reason that artists are always on the move.

Napoleon III wanted Paris "beautified" and so he gave most of the prime land in the city to wealthy friends.  It was their responsibility to develop it. Develop it they did, and rents soared. The original inhabitants had no choice but to leave.

Montmartre was officially made part of Paris in the 1850's but the city did not develop it, and the village considered itself very much separate. It was free of Paris taxes and had a nunnery that made cheap red wine. Those alone were good reasons to move to Montmartre.  Add the facts that Montmartre sat at the top of a hill that overlooked the whole city of Paris, and there was an abundance of light (hard to find in the city) and you had the perfect location for painters to gather.

Johan Jongkind and Camille Pisarro were some of the first artists to inhabit the area in the mid-nineteenth century. It was not until toward the end of that century and the beginning of the twentieth that artists really began to flock there.

 Vincent van Gogh, Pierre Brissaud, Alfred Jarry, Gen Paul, Jacques Villon, Raymond Duchamp-Villon, Henri Matisse, André Derain, Suzanne Valadon, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Edgar Degas, Maurice Utrillo, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Théophile Steinlen, and African-American expatriates such as Langston Hughes worked in this village and found artistic inspiration there.

Pablo Picasso, Amedeo Modigliani, and other artists living in poverty worked in a commune, a building called Le Bateau-Lavoir, during the years 1904–1909. Composer Satie (who was a pianist at Le Chat Noir), also lived in the area.

The last of the bohemian Montmartre artists was Gen Paul. He was born in Montmartre and a friend of Utrillo. Paul's calligraphic expressionist lithographs, sometimes memorializing picturesque Montmartre itself, owe a debt to Raoul Dufy.

In fact, many of these artists painted scenes of the village. More and more artists flocked to the area in order to draw inspiration from each other. It must have been quite a scene, and one that I would have loved being part of.

Stay tuned for more information about the bohemian artists of Montmartre and Impressionism.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Guest Post: The Challenges of Writing Techno-Political Thrillers by John Waye Falbey

Today's guest post is by an author who writes in a genre I would be clueless about.  I can only imagine the research that goes into this genre.  Historical fiction is research enough! Let's welcome John Wayne Falbey!
The Challenges of Writing Techno-Political Thrillers

by John Wayne Falbey

There are two areas that I consider to be especially challenging in writing a current techno-political thriller. The first involves the technology part. It’s critical that the author gets the science right; otherwise, it’s science fiction, and that’s another genre. To get the science right, research is key. That raises questions, such as: When to conduct the research – before starting the book or during the writing of it?, Where to conduct it? and How much is sufficient?

When? Obviously it needs to be done before you begin writing about the subject to which it pertains. Jim Rollins, the noted NYT best selling author, does most of his research up front. He gives himself 90 days to complete it, and then begins writing the story. With my novel, Sleeping Dogs: The Awakening, I did the bulk of my research on genetics – an underlying theme – up front, then researched other topics, such as the toys of the über wealthy, sophisticated weaponry, etc., as situations developed during the writing of the book.

Where? For my first novel, The Quixotics, written before the technological revolution, I did most of my research in the library. Now I do most of it online. Caveat: don’t rely largely on a single source. For example, Wikipedia is very easy to use and covers just about every topic you can imagine. But it’s open-source, meaning that anyone can contribute to it and those contributions may not be accurate or current.

How much research? You should be able to discuss the topic intelligently and in some depth with experts on the subject. Your readership may include some of those experts. Readers don’t praise or patronize authors who have no real grasp of the subject.

The second challenge in writing thrillers is to blend reality with fiction. Most authors with whom I’ve discussed this topic admit that they have a tendency to base characters on people they know. It’s a better policy to build your individual characters from a composite of people – ones you may know well and others whom you may only have observed somewhere or read about. I did this with the personalities of the six members of the black ops unit in my novel Sleeping Dogs: The Awakening. Interestingly, many people I know think they recognize themselves as one or the other of these characters.

When basing characters on other people, the writer has to use caution not to openly commit libel or callously invade the privacy of a fellow human being. That’s not always as easy as it may seem. There’s something of an exception in this area, however, and that’s the public figure. Part of the price of fame and glory is the surrender of a portion of your right to privacy. I would not suggest you go so far as to use the same name for your character as the person on whom he or she is based. That may be crossing the line.

As for blending reality into the story line of the thriller, that’s relatively easy. Read newspapers and magazines, tune in to the news media on radio and television, and follow blogs and online forums. Despite the bias inherent in much of what you see and hear, there’s enough political intrigue in the world today for any serious writer to craft a good techno-political thriller.

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Genre – Techno-Political Thriller

Rating – PG

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Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Losing a Mother

Last week we got the news that Dave's mother had suddenly passed away.  While unexpected on one hand, we also knew that she was in her 80's and had not been talking for several weeks.  That had happened before, though, and so it was not really cause for concern.

When I found out I waited for Dave to get home from work and then told him. Plans were made to find another sitter for Gideon and we got ready to leave the next afternoon.

Dave seemed fine.  He didn't cry and he didn't seem to be stressed.  What he did seem to be was relieved, and happy for his mother. She had not had an easy life.  In fact, most would say it was mostly unpleasant. He had grown up in a family that struggled constantly with money issues, moving from one house to the next, never knowing how long they would stay before the rent was raised or they got behind.

His mother, Mary, suffered from schizophrenia. She had been in and out of the mental hospital since Dave was about age 8.  That was the age he was when she tried to commit suicide.  Dave found her, with her arm blown off from the shotgun she had held to herself. Religion was the trigger that sent her down that path, and it would remain the trigger for future break downs.
Needless to say, Dave is not a big fan of organized religion.

She lived with a false arm, no money, and six children to care for. Her husband was an extremely hard working farm hand, with no hope for a better future. He worked as long as there was daylight, six days a week. Saturday nights he drank, and Sunday he rested. It may sound like he wasn't much of a man, but I am here to tell you that he was, and is to this day. Not many would have lasted in his position.  They would have abandoned the family, the wife, the job, or possibly all of them. Not him. He was a faithful, steady worker and strived to keep the family together even during Mary's stays at the state hospital. Most of us could learn a thing or two about perseverance from Dude.

Mary was intelligent, kind, and beautiful.  Yes, she had been quite a looker. She could also paint. Dude had been handsome and would sing on the back of a tractor on the main street of town. What a promising couple.  What a cruel hand was dealt to them. Their oldest got polio. Another was legally blind. The children kept coming, as the Catholic church forbade birth control. Even though they didn't go to church, that stuck in Mary's head. It would eventually drive her crazy.

Mary was always upbeat, though. She always joked, always cared, always was glad to see her children do well. She was one hell of a cook, and would not hesitate to get up at two in the morning if a boy came home late and wanted to eat.  She seemed to wake up the minute one of them arrived, ready to nurture them in the way she knew best.  Food.

Six kids...and not one of them turned out badly. No money, no real religion, a mentally ill mother and a father that drank. Social workers would tell you that the children should have been headed for trouble.  Should have been, but none ended up there.

That's because Dude and Mary had love.  Sometimes, love and persistence trump everything else. Sometime, just sometimes, life is kind to your children even if it wasn't so kind to you. I think Mary would have said that she would prefer her children to have a good life over her own. 

I bet Dude would say that, too.  He is 88 now, almost 89. Every day he picked up Mary at the nursing home and brought her back home for part of the day.  Toward the end, he was the one that prepared lunch for the two of them.

A few commented that Dave might be hiding his grief.  Others say it will hit later.  I don't know.  I think I know my husband better than anyone ever has. I know he will feel moments of sadness that he can't talk to his Mom again, but I am betting that he is honest when he says he is happy for her being finally released to peace.  I think he gets it better than most. Perhaps lack of organized religion has helped him see more clearly the beauty of life, and the beauty of death. Yes, perhaps that was Mary's final gift to him.