Friday, June 2, 2017

Pride, Cycles, Seattle and a Soundtrack

[Image via Instinct Magazine]

Since it's Pride Week here in KC, I thought I'd celebrate by sharing a bit about my lesbian coming-of-age drama/romance, Cycles.

Cycles is set in Seattle, where I lived from 2005-2007, getting my Master's Degree at the University of Washington. I did, actually, fall in love with a woman there, with tragic results. My experience there essentially informs much of the novel. Though it is filtered through a great deal of fiction, the story is, in some ways, true.

I used it as an opportunity to talk about a few of my favorite things in Seattle. Kris, the novel's heroine, frequents my favorite coffee shop (Sureshot); eats at several restaurants that I enjoyed in the University District, Green Lake, and on Capitol Hill; communes with my favorite painting in the Seattle Art Museum Museum (#10 by Mark Rothko); visits the museum I interned at for a semester (Bellevue Arts Museum) and sees a couple of exhibitions that I greatly enjoyed, and I could go on, but I'll stop there.



The novel opens as Kris bikes down The Ave, which is actually University Street, near the University of Washington. Here's an excerpt:

Kris pedaled down “the Ave” in Seattle’s University District on her still-shiny-like-new gloss white Simply City 8W bicycle. Her short blonde hair brushed her chin, and her wiry, boyish frame balanced delicately on her seat. A bus trundled along in front of her, stopping frequently to let passengers off and on. The morning rush to get to campus had passed and the lunch rush had yet to begin, so only a few people disembarked. Kris steered slowly down the street, weaving back and forth behind the bus until she reached Sureshot, her favorite coffee shop. 
Sureshot was owned by a local couple who also owned a bakery. They’d turned the everyday business of the shop over to their twenty-something daughter whom Kris liked for her brusque friendliness. Besides offering the most imaginative and delicious drinks (the Pink Elephant was a particular favorite of hers), Sureshot had perfect lighting, comfortable sofas, and a back room full of pin-ball machines that she had never used, but enjoyed knowing they were there all the same. Good music was always playing, but not too loudly, so she could study, people watch, or read a book from their little lending library, if she wanted.

Just for fun, I put together a "soundtrack" for Cycles, using a YouTube playlist, that starts, appropriately with The Blue Scholars singing "The Ave."


The playlist follows along and compliments the story, featuring many bands from Seattle, songs about Seattle, and also bands and songs mentioned throughout the novel by the main characters.

Track listing:
"The Ave.", The Blue Scholars
"Learn to Fly," Foo Fighters
"Pike Street / Park Slope," Harvey Danger
"Welcome to Seattle," Boom Bap Project
"Every Shining Time You Arrive," Sunny Day Real Estate
"Sadness Is a Blessing," Lykke Li
"Queen of Apology," The Sounds
"Loyd, I'm Ready to Be Heartbroken," Camera Obscura
"Living In America," The Sounds
"Aurora," Foo Fighters
"Head Down," Soundgarden
"Mass Pike," The Get-Up Kids
"Lunatic to Love," Presidents of the United States of America
"Ringway to SeaTac," The Wedding Present
"Where Does the Good Go?" Tegan and Sara
"Don't Take Me Home 'Til I'm Drunk," The Wedding Present
"Seattle," Jason Walker
"This Scene Is Dead," We Are Scientists
"Claiming the City," Macklemore
"My Maudlin Career," Camera Obscura
"Sirens," Pearl Jam
"Fell on Black Days," Soundgarden
"Forests and Sands," Camera Obscura
"Sunny in Seattle," Blake Shelton

You can listen to the playlist here, and find Cycles on Amazon or in the Kindle store.

If you listen, let me know what you think of it. And even better if you read along!

Related posts:

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

May's Summer Reading Sale

Well it's only been just over a year since I last posted, so I won't pretend that I'll be good about updating at all anymore. But I wanted to share what I've been creating this year!

In February I had another beautiful baby boy:

He's so precious!

And I have also brought into the world, three books, which are available as paperbacks or eBooks from Amazon/Kindle. From June 1-15, 2017 I'm having a Summer Reading Sale! All eBooks are just $2.99 or FREE with paperback purchase. And the paperbacks are on sale for either $4 or $5, depending on their length.



The Jewel's First Flight

On a world divided into Royals and Commoners, Young Lord AlgĂ­en is brilliant, petulant Prince. His obsession: The Jewel, a massive sky ship being built to colonize other planets. The Jewel's construction has loomed over his entire life, and when he finally sneaks aboard, he embarks on an adventure he'd never expected, with companions he would never have chosen. This steampunk/sci-fi story takes you to the stars and back, examines relationships between the Haves and Have-Nots, and is full of surprises for both the characters and the reader.

eBook
paperback



Sarah Jane and the Time Traveling Fairy

Sarah Jane expects to have a terrible summer staying with a grandmother she barely remembers. Instead, she is drawn into a magical mystery by a lonely fairy, who has spent hundreds of years imprisoned in a grandfather clock. Together the girl and the fairy piece together clues from across time and space, revealing the way fae beings responded to the spread of human settlements, a secret about Sarah Jane's family, and more. Sarah Jane learns the value of friendship, hard work, family, and nature in this modern-day fairy tale.

eBook
Paperback



Cycles

Kris is on the cusp of adulthood, and is just discovering herself. As she explores Seattle and attends the University of Washington, she is introduced to many people and aspects of herself that she never expected to uncover. Part romance, part coming-of-age story, part drama, this novel uncovers the painful awakening of becoming oneself.

eBook
Paperback


Related posts:
The Poetry of Spring
Fantastic Summer Reading
A Novel Accomplishment

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Chalk Force Five at the Raymore Summer Scene

The Raymore Summer Scene was a neat festival! I'm glad we were invited to chalk there. The music was great, the community-decorated Adirondack chairs were lovely, and, best of all, we got to work in the shade all day, which made the heat much more bearable!! As a bonus, I got to see an artist friend who lives in Raymore, Heather Gambrell. She and her family painted the beautiful, oversized Adirondack chair that says "Raymore," pictured below.


I'll show you more chair pictures later, but first I want to get up pictures of our chalk mural. We based our image on this Lisa Frank drawing, which we found on Pinterest. (Forgive the poor quality, it's the only size available).

 Image via Pinterest

We switched the type of chair pictured in order to keep with the festival theme, and otherwise altered the design to suit our whimsy, like each making a starfish.















Ta-DA!!

And now, as promised, here's more pictures of the other chairs, as well as the chalkboards available for the kiddos to draw on.









Related posts:

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Tinkerbell in Chalk / Save the Date

Hello all!Here's a super fast chalk drawing I did at the North Kansas City Public Library's summer reading program kick-off this past Saturday:


I would've futzed over it more if I hadn't had a very impatient preschooler waiting on me to finish so he could get inside the library! (For instance, I later realized I misspelled "magic" and I didn't chalk white in the second wing, so I fixed that before I went home.)

Image Credit: City of Raymore

And don't forget to mark your calendar the upcoming Raymore Summer Scene, where I and my chalk crew - newly named Chalk Force Five - will be creating a Lisa Frank-inspired image. It's Saturday, June 11th; check out the details here. There will be enormous chalk boards for visitors to chalk on as well! See you there!

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Florence + the Machines at the Venue Formerly Known as Sandstone

 Seeing Florence in 2011 (L) and 2016 (R) with Darcy Bloss
Image Credit: Darcy Bloss


TWO blog posts in one month -- WHA--??!!!!????!! Yes, indeed it is so. Be amazed!!

Last night I saw Florence + the Machine at the venue formerly known as Sandstone.* It was the first time I've seen a non-local artist perform in concert twice (I first saw them in 2011 at the Midland), and it replaced the RJD2 show I saw in 2006ish at Seattle, WA (during grad school) as my favorite live music show.

Because of a scheduling conflict, I wasn't able to catch the opening act. My friend Darcy and I arrived just in time to claim a patch of grass in the front of the lawn area and chat for a bit before Florence et al took the stage. The band has grown significantly since the last time I saw them, now including people playing a baby grand piano, trombones, a harp, and two backup singers (in 2011 she was the sole singer). She said she would've liked to have a chorus touring with her, but it wasn't logistically feasible. Instead, she invited the crowd to be her choir, and we were happy to oblige.

As with last time, I continue to be happily surprised by the diversity of Florence + the Machine fans. Teenagers, middle aged couples, dudebros, and all other sorts mingled and danced and sang at the show. Which, by the way, was technically gorgeous and perfect. Florence wore a sheer gown, which showed off her slim figure in the bright stage lights, and made the most of the sweeping pink fabric as she swooped, swirled, danced, bounced, leaped and completely owned the stage.. and the audience. As Darcy said, "she seemed more herself somehow" than when we last saw her.

The contrast between her speaking and singing voices also seemed more dramatic than I'd remembered. Of course, she sounds 1000% more amazing when she sings (we couldn't stand to listen to her CD on the ride home because it paled in comparison). I do not know how she is physically capable of  belting out songs like that with all the awesome moves she was doing. But when she spoke to us between the songs, her voice was so soft and gentle, it seemed even more magical that this woman had just been making such large, lovely sounds mere moments before.

She sang all the songs I wanted to hear (some during the intermission), including "What the Water Gave Me," "Shake It Off," "Rabbit Heart [Raise It Up]," "Dog Days Are Over," "Sweet Nothing," and "How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful." The last one, Florence called "her big blue sky" over her, keeping her safe and happy, and she said she wanted that song to also be our blue sky that we could carry over us.

Around then, she asked everyone to put away their cellphones and just BE with each other, and afterwards she said we were probably the only crowd that didn't have one or two people pulling devices back out before the song was over. The amphitheater was noticeably darker without all the screens lighting it up! Later on, Florence told us that she felt so much love present, and so much love in the crowd. She encouraged us to take that love out and spread it in the world, because the world needs love.

Such a sweet, powerful, impressive, beautiful show! So glad I was able to be there.

*A note for the non-local readers: this venue keeps being re-sold and gettings it's name changed and I literally didn't even know it's real name until this week.

Related posts:
Concert Review: Florence + the Machine
Concert Review: Celtic Soul Experience
MU Music at the Kaufman Performing Arts Center

Monday, May 16, 2016

Chalking Awesomeness


 Image Credit: Beth Bogenreider Hall

A couple weekends ago, my friend and fellow chalk artist, Nicole, drove with me to Topeka where another member of our chalk alliance, Beth, lives, to participate in the Two Block Chalk Walk in the NOTO Arts District. They were going for a record-breaking event, and it was fun to be part of it. You can watch a video interview with Beth and Nicole:



My drawing

Nicole's drawing

Beth's drawing

We, and another chalk alliance member, will be drawing a Lisa Frank-inspired image at the upcoming Raymore Summer Scene: Arts, Music, Food, Saturday, June 11, 2016. Another attraction on display will be community-decorated adirondack chairs from the Raymore Arts Commission's first Pop-Up Art Project.

Finally, I'll leave you with this awesome interactive CandyLand board that my chalk alliance gal pals and I created during the 2015 KC Chalk & Walk Festival (that I was a bad blogger and never posted before). Enjoy! And don't forget to save the date for this year's event: Saturday 10-11!

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Reflecting Class in the Age of Rembrandt and Vermeer at the Nelson-Atkins


Photo op at the end of the exhibit

Recently my Dad and I went to see “Reflecting Class in the Age of Rembrandt and Vermeer” at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art. Honestly, I went because he asked me to; I probably wouldn’t have gone of my own accord. And for the same reason, I went on my first guided museum tour, which would have made me feel very grown up, if I hadn’t been the youngest person on the tour.

The exhibit is broken into several groups of painting types, showing the highest, middle, and working classes, as well as spaces in which all three intersected in 1800s society in the Dutch Republic. The most impressive and stunning works were those commissioned by the aristocracy, including the only Vermeer painting ever to be exhibited in Kansas City.

That painting, “A Lady Writing,” which I’ve seen repeatedly pop up in my FB feed to advertise the exhibit, is actually the reason why I wasn’t interested in going. The pictures of it simply do not do it justice, and I thought the image rather boring. Until, that is, I saw it in person. I was absolutely stunned. It seemed to glow from within, like a stained glass window or an LED screen, and it was so perfectly executed that there was a 3D holographic effect. The lady seemed to rise towards me from the past, perfectly shining with contentment. I’ve never seen any representative painting that came close to affecting me that way. It alone is worth a visit to the exhibit!

The other paintings for the aristocracy were also beautiful, with lush detail and exquisite rendering. The upwardly mobile middle class paintings were also well done, although without the impressive scale of the aristocratic paintings, and with less extravagant costuming. Both the aristocracy and the rich commoners’ faces were portrayed with loving treatments. (It was exciting to see, "Street Musicians at the Door" in the middle class section. It was a painting I'd seen and liked [extremely attractive color scheme!] at the St. Louis Art Museum last year, and it was like running into an old friend.)

However, the next section, featuring the poor working class was a striking difference. These paintings were also commissioned by the rich, and to elevate the viewer above the rabble, the poor were depicted roughly, with ugly, almost inhuman faces, rough clothing, and sometimes gremlin-like characteristics. It was astonishing. The contrast was especially striking in paintings that showed the classes mingling in spaces like the market, etc.

It was refreshing to see an examination of class in a museum setting, and also to have a new lens through which to view older, representative paintings. This exhibit certainly increased my appreciation for them, as well as the symbolic language they use, and helped me become more imaginatively and mentally engaged in a style of painting that I have tended to discount as less interesting than others.

You can see “Reflecting Class in the Age of Rembrandt and Vermeer”  through May 9, 2016, and I may just go back again myself. It’s that good.

Related posts:
Trash or Treasure? at the Toy and Miniature Museum (Event Pics)
My Visit to Lawrence (Photo Blog)
Read My Latest Arts America Post