Musings on Pets, Art, Vampires, and Trying to Make Sense of Anything At All.

It started out as one of those days where the dog ate all of the cat food, the squirrels at all of the bird food, the cat tried to eat a bird that flew into my house, I’m trying to take photographs and the fall lighting is all off, then the cat barfed on the carpet. The other cat is asleep out on the deck. He never causes me problems aside from his yearly “I am an idiot and got myself gravely injured again,” vet visit. Today, I am also feeling a great sense of loss that has come over me in a wave.

A sense of loss and melancholy isn’t uncommon for Vampires. I just had to throw that out there.

I put on some sunscreen and decent clothes and went out in search of art supplies. I didn’t need any. I thought it might inspire me to try to put pen or pastel to paper. That is to put it to paper without fear of disappointing myself.

At the downtown art supply shop, the one that had been there for decades, I wandered the isles looking at brushes, textures, tools, and colors. I was drawn to all of the shades of gray, then got sort of perturbed that some asshole decided to write a bad porn book of that name that became oh so popular with bored middle aged women who didn’t date enough when they were single. Still I looked and imagined what I might create.

I felt a cold hand upon my arm, then looked to my left. “Connie,” I said upon seeing my old friend. Constantine Jones, the very one I wrote the story Night Dogs about. He’d told me about that night a few years back. I valued his friendship because he matched my love of art, both in creating it, and in studying it.

“Juliette. Pastels today?”

“Maybe,” I said.

We talked of art and our lives. He asked about my children. I asked him what he was up to. I purchased pastels and paper. He picked up a few brushes and oil paint. Then we walked down the tree lined street to a small independent coffee shop.

As we sat in the shade sipping our coffee nobody would have suspected that we were Vampires who’d know each other for over a century.

No, dear reader, this isn’t a story of fangs, dripping blood, or darkness. All creatures, even the most ardent predators, the lions, the hyenas, the wolves, and the wolverines, still need their times of peace. We are always aware, but sometimes we just need to take a break from what keeps our bodies alive and think about what keeps our passions alive.

Even more so it is the small things that matter. It is things we do for tangible reason like having coffee with an old friend. We talked about art, as kindred spirits do.

Connie touched took my hand in his. It was warm from holding the coffee. I thought how odd that was to have a warm touch from another Vampire.

“Your heart is heavy,” he said to me.

“I don’t know what it is right now,” I told him. “I’m fine.”

“You’re not.”

“It shall pass. I just have too much BS that I have to deal with.” That is true, but isn’t that the case for a lot of us.

Standing across the street I saw a lone figure with dark hair and a black suit with the tie loosened. Connie looked as well.

“A ghost,” he whispered. “Why is he looking over here?”

“I know him. He lives at my house most of the time, but he’s buried near here.” I motioned for my ghost, Nigel, who was an artist in life, to come join us.

I pulled up a chair for a friend that nobody but Constantine Jones and I could see. I ordered coffee for Nigel. He sat in the chair holding the cup and letting the aroma pass through him. He can’t drink it but he can smell it, which is a small comfort for a ghost.

We talked more of art, and the weather, and small things that friends talk about.

After two hours Connie went his own way and Nigel came home with me. As we drove down the freeway Nigel changed the radio station about thirty times. I finally yelled at him to stop it.

And now I’m home. I don’t know where Nigel got off to.

From my window I cans humming birds in the lemon and orange trees. The calico cat sits snoring in a chair. I can hear the other cat scratching a piece of wood outside.

I feel better. Sometimes we just need to get away from ourselves for a while, or at least get into a different place where we can be the selves we need to be, and deserve to be.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Short Story Sunday: Night Dogs

Tangled Tales

 

Night Dogs

Constantine Jones sat on the bottom of the museum steps wondering what just happened.

Earlier that evening he’d put on his best Armani suit, a Hermes silk tie, and was feeling good about the outcome of the evening. It was to be a charity event. Beautiful people would be there dressed up. Everyone would be relaxed, and happy, and it would be delightfully fun.

After discussing art and drinking champagne he’d lured a few well-heeled patrons to remote galleries to see some unusual modern art. There he took a few pints of blood from wrists and left his donors with no memories, except those of a delightful conversation with a well dressed, nice looking young art expert. Well, a 165 year old art expert, but that was besides the point.

Then in the main gallery, the California Room, he saw her standing in front of the Thomas Hill grand painting of Yosemite Valley. She wasn’t the most beautiful woman in the room but she was attractive in a cute sort of California girl way, and had that delightful look of both shyness and playfulness. Her olive green dress shimmered along the neckline with iridescent beads. As she turned her head towards him it was like a lightning bolt had hit his heart. First sight.

Second sight as well. A smallish dog of unknown breed stood next to her with a service dog vest on. A service dog. Why did she need a service dog?

With his usual ease, Constantine approached the woman. He asked if he could pet the dog. She said yes. She told him she’d had a head injury when she was in Afghanistan. She’d been in the Army. He would never guessed. The dog could detect seizures.

They talked for an hour about art, and life, and it seemed as if he’d met his soul mate. It was the best hour he’d ever spent. Then she was gone. He hadn’t even asked her name.

So like Prince Charming, he sat at the bottom of the stairs wondering where Cinderella had gone. All he had of her was one of her earrings he’d found on the steps. It was a gold strand with a single diamond on the end. The diamond was real.

I might as well walk home he thought. It was just a couple of miles. He’d clear out his mind. The full moon, and lights from late night downtown bars and restaurants lit the way.

Out of the corner of his eye he thought he saw a large dog wearing a back pack. A service dog? A smaller dog in a vest followed. Around the next corner, in an alley, he saw three more large dogs in the dark, all wearing packs.

Maybe it was a training exercise. The dogs could have been German Shepards looking for drugs or a missing person, or even bodies. It was weird, but at this point he didn’t care. He just wanted to go home. He was a Vampire so weird and unusual was over rated anyway.

Constantine thought about the woman he’d met. She’d been a nurse in a convoy, and there was a bomb. She didn’t say anything else except that her dog was named Tess. She liked Jazz music, indie films, and indie books. Of course she liked art too. She was a high school art teacher now, having moved on from nursing. But sometimes she helped out the school nurse. Weird how he got those details. He’d told her… what had he told her about himself? Not much. He was a Vampire so he never told much, at least not at first. He’d told her that he ran a philanthropic foundation that supported the arts, and other causes. He told her he had two cats and liked astronomy. She also was a watcher of the moon and stars. Then she kissed his cheek, excused herself, and a few minutes later he saw her walking out the front door of the museum.

As a Vampire he usually had a good feel for people but he couldn’t get a final read on her. Again, he thought about the fact that he didn’t even get her name. But the dog was named Tess. Tess the service dog.

Constantine thought about war. He could imagine the horrors she’d been through. He was a child during the Civil War or the War Between the States, whatever they wanted to call it. Those weren’t memories he cared to relive. He’d come out to California as soon as he was old enough to be on his own, as soon as he’d become a Vampire, and stayed there.

As he walked along the dogs with packs stayed in the alleys and shadows. Looking at the local news feeds and police scans from his iPhone he found nothing. One of his neighbors was a K-9 cop. Constantine would ask him about it tomorrow.

Arriving home at his craftsman style bungalow he noticed a few dogs in packs at the end of the street. This was getting weird. Odder, and a nice surprise, was that a woman in a slightly wrinkled olive green dress, and a single diamond and gold earring was standing on his front porch.

Tess the service dog stood beside her. Hanging off of her shoulder was a back pack.

No. It couldn’t be. She wasn’t Cinderella. She was a Werewolf.

They introduced themselves, again, but this time with names. Her name was Diana. Like the goddess of the moon.

“You have my earring,” she said smiling and holding out a hand.

“You have my heart,” he heard himself saying, much to his surprise.

Then he kissed her under the full moon, as Tess sat at attention and wagged her tail.

~ End

 

Tangled Tales

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

More Vampire Art From Jason Kemp (I absolutely LOVE these)

If you’re visiting Vampiremaman.com, and especially if you like Halloween and Vampires, you’ll love the art of J. Harrison Kemp aka my friend Jason Kemp of Tenkara Studios.

I posted the first batch of Vampire Art of Jason Kemp earlier this month. Here is the second group. SQUEEEEEEEEE. OMG I love these SO MUCH. Thank you Jason. xoxoxox.

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I have to stop for a second and admit in my cold Vampire heart that the top four images have my heart (especially the top two). Oh my goodness. Ask any Vampire. That said, the rest are utterly fabulous too.

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Tenkara Studios are presently the sole domain of author and illustrator J Harrison Kemp, or Jason as the dust bunnies call him. Within the halls of his labyrinthine workspace, a sprawling Wunderkammer, or wonder-room if you will, we find the artist surrounded and overly influenced by the many intricate objet d’art of a bygone age, a multifarious miscellany of complex curiosities that only the foolhardy would call toys. Brimful but charming, the antiquated atelier is commingled with an athenaeum housing only the greatest of literary treasures and books about things from outer space. Yes, it is here that the self-taught artist and writer draws from his surroundings that little bit more everyday and applies that inspiration to new and ever evolving graphic and fictitious projects.

Jay is currently the sole inhabitant of Tenkara Studios, a.k.a. the office and is busy with a variety of commissions, short stories, incidental projects and a soon to be realized anthology of horror fiction.

Contact: tenkarastudios@outlook.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/tenkarastudios
http://tenkarastudios.weebly.com/

Jason has also designed the covers of several of our themed anthologies for WPaD (Writers, Poets, and Deviants.) Yes, and I have to add I am SO HONORED to have worked with Jason. Wow. I love these covers. AND as a writer Jason tells a damned good story too.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

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Weird Tales_Marla_11x17_Signed

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The Vampire Art of Jason Kemp

If you’re visiting Vampiremaman.com, and especially if you like Halloween and Vampires, you’ll love the art of J. Harrison Kemp aka my friend Jason Kemp of Tenkara Studios.

 

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Bela by Jason Kemp

Tenkara Studios are presently the sole domain of author and illustrator J Harrison Kemp, or Jason as the dust bunnies call him. Within the halls of his labyrinthine workspace, a sprawling Wunderkammer, or wonder-room if you will, we find the artist surrounded and overly influenced by the many intricate objet d’art of a bygone age, a multifarious miscellany of complex curiosities that only the foolhardy would call toys. Brimful but charming, the antiquated atelier is commingled with an athenaeum housing only the greatest of literary treasures and books about things from outer space. Yes, it is here that the self-taught artist and writer draws from his surroundings that little bit more everyday and applies that inspiration to new and ever evolving graphic and fictitious projects.

Jay is currently the sole inhabitant of Tenkara Studios, a.k.a. the office and is busy with a variety of commissions, short stories, incidental projects and a soon to be realized anthology of horror fiction.

Contact: tenkarastudios@outlook.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/tenkarastudios
http://tenkarastudios.weebly.com/

Jason has also designed the covers of several of our themed anthologies for WPaD (Writers, Poets, and Deviants.) Yes, and I have to add I am SO HONORED to have worked with Jason. Wow. I love these covers. AND as a writer Jason tells a damned good story too.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

COVER_11x17 (1).jpg

 

Weird Tales_Marla_11x17_Signed

WPAD_11x17 poster (1)

Unknown-2

51DPaulo5KL._SY346_

Art (an extremely short Vampire story)

Counting down to Halloween!

Tangled Tales

Art (an extremely short Vampire story)

He never tried of looking at the Thomas Hill painting of Yosemite. Behind him he could hear the museum docent talking about the Guilded Age and the massive woodwork behind him.

As a child he’d come here for musical events, and even roller skating. Not exactly here, the new wing of the museum opened in 2010. He’d been in the original building and even in the private residence next door.

When you’re born in 1957 and still around in 2018 sometimes time seems to stand still.

A woman came up next to him and put her hand on his shoulder. He kissed her cheek.

“You look like a woman in a portrait I just saw,” he said.

“I am the woman in the portrait you saw,” she said. It was a long running joke with them.

“Glad you could make it Mom.”

“So am I. We need to do this more often.”

“October is almost here.”

“Indeed. Four of my children have birthday’s this month.”

“And Halloween.”

She gave a little snort. “It was easier to be a Vampire before Halloween was such a big deal.”

“Maybe.”

They roamed the galleries looking at both familiar and new art pieces.

She took her son’s arm and gave it a gentle squeeze. “I loved those times, when everything here was new. It was a new city. You were all children. So much was happening. I miss people, but I look forward. I don’t dwell on the past. That keeps us young. If you keep looking towards the future and live in the present it will keep you from being a Halloween Vampire. I shutter to think that any of my kids will be musty old beings who don’t have enough sense to keep their fangs in and blood off of their chins.”

“You’ll never have to worry about that,” said her son. “But I know what you mean.”

As they walked along they could see other in contemplation looking at the art, which like them, was timeless.

~ end

crocker-art-museum

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

2019 Summer Reading: Four Novels and An Art Book. Fun Summer Reading.

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I’ve got a pile of books waiting for me to read right now. I’d whittled my pile down but built it back up over the past few months.

All I hope for are books I can finish. Damn, I’ve started to read three books this summer that I could not finish because they were either stupid, boring, or just difficult to follow.  I don’t need amazing literature. What I do need and crave is a good story – a well told story – with interesting characters.

The books I’m posting today aren’t books I’ve read already. These are books I’m going to read over the next few months. Read along with me. I hope these are all entertaining and a lot of fun to read.

RIGHT NOW, I’m reading

Field of Bones
by J.A. Jance

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This is the first book I’ve read by this author. It is the fourth in the Joanna Brady series, and the first in this series I’ve read. I didn’t even know it was part of a series until I started. I’m only on chapter 8, and so far it has captured my attention.

Description from the back cover:

While on maternity leave, Sheriff Joanna Brady is dragged into a far-reaching investigation to bring down a sadistic killer in this chilling tale of suspense from beloved New York Times bestselling author J. A. Jance

Though she’s still recovering from a series of tragedies, Joanna Brady’s life has never been busier.  Her older daughter is off to college, her five-year-old son is full of energy and boundless curiosity, and she’s just given birth to a new daughter—on the same night she won her third election as Cochise County sheriff in a squeaker of a race.  In addition, her husband, Butch, is away on an exhausting book tour.

Despite her devotion to her work, Joanna is determined to see her maternity leave through this time. But in this beautiful desert landscape, home of Wyatt Earp, Tombstone, and the shoot-out at the OK Corral, a monster is roaming free—a serial killer who has transformed Joanna’s small corner of the Southwest into a field of bones.

When a teenager turns in a human skull found on the far side of the San Bernardino Valley in the Peloncillo Mountains between Arizona and New Mexico, it is the beginning of a multiple homicide case. As much as she would rather stay home with her newborn and lose herself in the cold cases to be found in her father’s long- unread diaries, Joanna instead finds herself overseeing a complex investigation involving multiple jurisdictions and an FBI profiler.

Some of the online reviews are sort of odd, stating this book is just a Republican tool and that they don’t like the authors stance on women or border control. We’ll wait and see. I think there might be some trolling here. At chapter 8 I’m going to give the author a benefit of a doubt.

Eat Only When You’re Hungry
By Lindsay Hunter

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This is a short book, only 208 pages, but it look like it is going to be a big story. I looks different. It looks fun. It seems like it just might be really really good.

Official Description:

Finalist for the 2017 Chicago Review of Books Fiction Award and a 2017 NPR Great Read

Recommended reading by Nylon, Buzzfeed, Vulture, Lit Hub, Chicago Review of Books and Chicago Reader

With this novel, Hunter establishes herself as an unforgettable voice in American letters. Her work here, as ever, is unparalleled.” ―Roxane Gay, author of Bad Feminist and Hunger

Achingly funny and full of feeling, Eat Only When You’re Hungry follows fifty-eight-year-old Greg as he searches for his son, GJ, an addict who has been missing for three weeks. Greg is bored, demoralized, obese, and as dubious of GJ’s desire to be found as he is of his own motivation to go looking. Almost on a whim, Greg embarks on a road trip to central Florida―a noble search for his son, or so he tells himself.

Greg takes us on a tour of highway and roadside, of Taco Bell, KFC, gas-station Slurpees, sticky strip-club floors, pooling sweat, candy wrappers and crumpled panes of cellophane and wrinkled plastic bags tumbling along the interstate. This is the America Greg knows, one he feels closer to than to his youthful idealism, closer even than to his younger second wife. As his journey continues, through drive-thru windows and into the living rooms of his alluring ex-wife and his distant, curmudgeonly father, Greg’s urgent search for GJ slowly recedes into the background, replaced with a painstaking, illuminating, and unavoidable look at Greg’s own mistakes―as a father, as a husband, and as a man.

Brimming with the same visceral regret and joy that leak from the fast food Greg inhales, Eat Only When You’re Hungry is a wild and biting study of addiction, perseverance, and the insurmountable struggle to change. With America’s desolate underbelly serving as her guide, Lindsay Hunter elicits a singular type of sympathy for her characters, using them to challenge our preconceived notions about addiction and to explore the innumerable ways we fail ourselves.

Someone Knows
by Lisa Scottoline

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Official Description:

Allie Garvey is heading home to the funeral of a childhood friend. Allie is not only grief-stricken, she’s full of dread. Because going home means seeing the other two people with whom she shares an unbearable secret.

Twenty years earlier, a horrific incident shattered the lives of five teenagers, including Allie. Drinking and partying in the woods, they played a dangerous prank that went tragically wrong, turning deadly. The teenagers kept what happened a secret, believing that getting caught would be the worst thing that could happen. But time has taught Allie otherwise. Not getting caught was far worse.

Allie has been haunted for two decades by what she and the others did, and by the fact that she never told a soul. The dark secret has eaten away at her, distancing her from everyone she loves, including her husband. Because she wasn’t punished by the law, Allie has punished herself, and it’s a life sentence.

Now, Allie stands on the precipice of losing everything. She’s ready for a reckoning, determined to learn how the prank went so horribly wrong. She digs to unearth the truth, but reaches a shocking conclusion that she never saw coming–and neither will the reader.

As you all know Lisa Scottoline has been one of my favorite authors since I first picked up one of my favorite books Dirty Blonde.

Tight Rope
By Amanda Quick

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Amanda Quick is one of the many pen names of Jayne Ann Krentz.

This book is the newest in the Burning Cove series. These books are light mystery, ROMANCE, total Summer Reading fluff and a lot of fun. I’ve been hooked on her books for a while. Don’t even ask me why. These aren’t literary, but sometimes we need something more than meat and vegetables.

Official description:

Former trapeze artist Amalie Vaughn moved to Burning Cove to reinvent herself, but things are not going well. After spending her entire inheritance on a mansion with the intention of turning it into a bed-and-breakfast, she learns too late that the villa is said to be cursed. When the first guest, Dr. Norman Pickwell, is murdered by his robot invention during a sold-out demonstration, rumors circulate that the curse is real. 

In the chaotic aftermath of the spectacle, Amalie watches as a stranger from the audience disappears behind the curtain. When Matthias Jones reappears, he is slipping a gun into a concealed holster. It looks like the gossip that is swirling around him is true—Matthias evidently does have connections to the criminal underworld. 

Matthias is on the trail of a groundbreaking prototype cipher machine. He suspects that Pickwell stole the device and planned to sell it. But now Pickwell is dead and the machine has vanished. When Matthias’s investigation leads him to Amalie’s front door, the attraction between them is intense, but she knows it is also dangerous. Amalie and Matthias must decide if they can trust each other and the passion that binds them, because time is running out.

Edwin Deakin
California Painter of the Picturesque
By Scott A. Shelds, Ph.D.

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This beautiful book has been calling out for me to read the entire thing from cover to cover for a long time. I’ve spent time with the pictures, and looked up bits and pieces. Now is the time to read all of it. Scott A. Shelds is an excellent writer who always makes art read like an adventure – he is never dull or overly academic.

Official description:

The paintings of Edwin Deakin–beautiful, romantic depictions of California’s early architecture, particularly its missions, as well as picturesque and nostalgic scenes of California wilderness–are regarded as major achievements in early California art. Deakin’s trip to Europe in 1877 also inspired breathtaking canvases, notably of Notre Dame in Paris and the Castle of Chillon on Lake Geneva. Later in Deakin’s career, his brush captured the uniqueness of San Francisco’s Chinatown and the destruction of the 1906 earthquake. Deakin (1838-1923) was equally gifted at still-life painting and produced magnificient compositions of fruits and flowers. Edwin Deakin: California Painter of the Picturesque is the first book to survey the artist’s vast accomplishments, bringing together examples from all the genres in which he worked–including all twenty-one of his paintings of the California missions.

Born in Sheffield, England, Deakin first came to San Francisco in 1870. The next year he established a studio in the city and began exhibiting regularly. His later years were spent in Berkeley, where in 1890 he purchased a large tract of land and built a mission-style home. Today a street in Berkeley is named in his honor.

The Crocker Art Museum in Sacramento, California, developed this book in concert with an exhibition of the artist’s paintings. Edwin Deakin has long been admired by aficionados of California art, but wider recognition of his accomplishments is overdue. This publication, with illuminating text by Alfred C. Harrison Jr., president of the The North Point Gallery, and Scott A. Shields, chief curator at the Crocker Art Museum, strives to further the painter’s legacy as an important contributor to the canon of California–and American–art.

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Until next Monday, happy reading.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman