Illuminate the Beautiful


“…Josh had developed an eye for seeing art in everyday things. In his life, he had seen both beauty and ugliness and he had documented both very well, and he learned to see the beauty in ugliness and the ugliness in beauty.” (from The Reality of Being Lovers by Gail L. Winfree)

Art and beauty surround us, existing in the most insignificant places and ways. They are our interpretations of the world.

Live to Write - Write to Live

On the multiple roles of The Artist …

My Instagram feed @suddenlyjamieI have made no secret of the fact that my worldview has been irreparably changed by bearing witness to the recent U.S. election and the ensuing fallout. As someone who has spent most of her life avoiding political discussions because it “wasn’t my thing,” I am now engaged in a self-guided crash course in civics so that I may speak and act responsibly and proactively in the days ahead.

That said, I am and always will be a writer – an artist – at heart. While I feel an urgent responsibility to actively engage in standing up against tyranny in all its forms, I do not want that battle to consume my every thought, or indeed, my ability to appreciate all the beauty and magic the world has to offer.

Earlier today, a friend of mine posted on Facebook inviting friends to…

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All Hallows’ Eve 2016 – Dysfunctional notes from my journal

“If I cannot inspire love, I will cause fear!”

Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley – Frankenstein

 Gail Vampire

Monsters are as real as you and me,

lurking in the darkest corners of humanity.





I live in a tower overlooking a lake on the edge of a village not far from nowhere. From my tower, I ponder the possibilities of human nature, the universe, life and death, life after death, love eternal, redemption denied.

Then a plan. Some say a dream, but indeed a plan.

I will create a creature in my own image and he will be the thing I’m not. I will name him Gogad, after the great nomadic Gogadian warrior. I will make him a rock star with tacky tattoos and a Fender Stratocaster swung across his body. I will teach him Russian so that he can know the language of deceit and revenge. I will deny him certain pleasures to justify his rage. I will make him neither human nor beast, but something resembling both in the worse ways. That’s how creation works.

And when the time is right, I will release him upon my enemies and therefore destroy all who have wronged me. And though he may call me Papa, he will loathe me for what I have done to him. And when he finds the time right, he will one day return to the tower and destroy me as I have created him, and the villagers will mourn my death and call me a great man, a visionary whose only sin was being a man with a vision.

And this is how the story goes. As destiny unfolds, so is destiny foretold. And more is evermore.

But before I am destroyed, I will create a wife for Gogad so that he may know the difference between love and hate. I will call her Gogoishe. She will be big, beautiful and brash—created from the remains of graves of castle lords—with the mind of a rock star groupie lifted from an asylum basement. I will also teach her Russian so that she can understand and fulfill the desires of her mate. In her creation, I will fail to give her the joy of music, and she will never understand the joy of life.

And as Gogad has destroyed me, so will Gogoishe destroy him.

And as I write this, I see that the monster hiding in the closet is wearing my clothes, telling me to sleep with the lights on.

Is your writing a hobby, an art, a business, a vocation, a profession? Let’s discuss

After I published my first book, an ex-friend felt she had to explain the perils of publishing to me. I’ve heard it before. She went on about all the books being published today and that most of them never sell and so on and so on. Doom and gloom. You’ve heard it before, too. She was trying to make a point that I’ve never make any money writing books. Then she asked me how I ever expected to sell my books in such a competitive market?

First of all, I told her, I don’t sell books, I write them. Maybe my books will sell, maybe they won’t. I hope they do. I hope I can make money writing books. But if I don’t, I can feel good about creating something that will outlive me and perhaps make a difference in someone’s life a hundred years from now.

“The arts are not a way to make a living. They are a very human way of making life more bearable. Practicing an art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow, for heaven’s sake. Sing in the shower. Dance to the radio. Tell stories. Write a poem to a friend, even a lousy poem. Do it as well as you possibly can. You will get an enormous reward. You will have created something.”― Kurt Vonnegut, A Man Without a Country

When I’m writing, I feel good. When I’m writing good, I’m lost in a wild dream where the story, the words, and I travel freely across the universe on cloud 9. And sometimes, I’m so lost in my writing, I lose control of the words I’m writing. They laugh, sing, dance on the page, play hide and seek, musical chairs, ring around the rosy, somersault over sentences and across paragraphs, leaving me exhausted and exuberant and that’s when I know I’m doing my best writing.

“Success is a finished book, a stack of pages each of which is filled with words. If you reach that point, you have won a victory over yourself no less impressive than sailing single-handed around the world.”
— Tom Clancy

Authors ultimately measure their success in book sales. But I agree with Mr. Clancy. Just completing a book is a success. I’ve done a lot of things in my life just to say I can do this. I believe one of the reasons I started writing books was to prove to myself I could do it.

I’m not a best selling author. I’m not an award winning writer (though early in my career, I did win a few journalism awards). People aren’t clamoring to buy my books. Did you know that the great Bruce Lee never won a martial arts competition? He never held a belt. He didn’t compete. He was too busy improving his art and developing his own style of martial arts and becoming one of the greatest innovators the martial arts world has known. So I may never be an award winning, best selling author, but I will continue to write and improve on my writing and do my best to be an innovator of my own writing style.

Nail Your Novel

van_gogh_-_starry_night_-_google_art_projectThis question was raised in a Facebook group this week: if you’re not earning much from writing, does that make it a hobby rather than a serious pursuit? My gut reaction was ‘no’, and I’d like to examine why. What follows will be a few attempts at definitions, a few assumptions – and I want this to be the start of a discussion rather than the last word. So do let me have your thoughts at the end.

Here goes.

A hobby?

First, let me state that when I use the term ‘hobby’, I’m not suggesting a pastime that isn’t serious. I have hobbies that matter greatly to my enjoyment of life. I ride horses and I attend dance classes at Pineapple Studios in London. My weekly schedule is constructed to accommodate these activities. They are essential outlets in a cerebral, sedentary life and they ensure my general wellbeing. I…

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After the Storm — The Outdoor Co-ed Topless Pulp Fiction Appreciation Society

 Bravo to a group of bold young ladies who displayed more than just their talents to celebrate Shakespeare with a nude performance of The Tempest in Central Park. The group is known as The Outdoor Co-ed Topless Pulp Fiction Appreciation Society, and you can read more about them here.

Well! That was an adventure. It’s not every day that we’re the #1 trending topic on Facebook. Or written about by the Daily News, the Associated Press, three British newspapers (the Independent, the Guardian, the Daily Mail), New York Newsday, Metro New York, and countless websites (among others, Huffington Post, Salon, and Jezebel). Oh, and did we mention NBC News? What caused that storm […]

via After the Storm — The Outdoor Co-ed Topless Pulp Fiction Appreciation Society

Changing Jobs

I’ve decided that in three years, I’m not retiring, I’m not quitting my job, but I am CHANGING JOBS. The term “retirement” has never set well with me. I also don’t like to say “quitting my job.” Either way, I will continue to stay active in my new job as a FULL-TIME WRITER. Monika and I are already looking for a new home in Bulgaria, a place with few people and a lot of nature, the near perfect place to write in my opinion.

Yes, changing jobs. I like that.

Weeping Over a Beer: A Lost Manuscript 2


Good news. I was able to restore my lost file of random notes (read my previous post).  After trying everything, including a couple of file recovery programs, I was unable to recover the file. It had been corrupted in some way (with Windows, you never know for sure what that means). Then I had an idea. I went to my temp files and located one dated approximately the time I lost my original file. I opened it in Word and—you guessed it—there was my original file. I had lost a couple of hours of work that I was able to recreate, but I had my complete file back.

I do save often when I’m working, but I don’t back up my files as often as I should. I learned my lesson. Whether you back up in the cloud, on an external or thumb drive, memory card, disk, whatever, do it. BACK UP at least once a week. Daily would be better. How often you back up files depends on how much work you have to back up.

Weeping Over a Beer: A Lost Manuscript

I know how Hemingway felt when Hadley (his first wife) lost a suitcase filled with his manuscripts at the Gare de Lyon as she was traveling to Geneva to meet him on that day in December 1922. The suitcase contained original and carbon copies of the early Nick Adams stories about Michigan and short stories he had been working on for months.

In “A Moveable Feast,” Hemingway describes the encounter:

“I had never seen anyone hurt by a thing other than death or unbearable suffering except Hadley when she told me about the things being gone. She had cried and cried and could not tell me. I told her that no matter what the dreadful thing was that had happened nothing could be that bad, and whatever it was, it was all right and not to worry. We could work it out. Then, finally, she told me. I was sure she could not have brought the carbons too and I hired someone to cover for me on my newspaper job. I was making good money then at journalism, and took the train for Paris. It was true alright and I remember what I did in the night after I let myself into the flat and found it was true.”

The suitcase and manuscripts were never found.

Yes, I know how Ernest must have felt. This morning at 4 a.m., I lost a Word file of “Random Notes,” which I’ve kept for many years. I tried everything possible to retrieve the file, but it’s gone.

So I did what any self-respecting author would do: I had a beer and cried. Then I wrote this post.