It MUST STOP. We are writers. We will not keep quiet.

In light of today’s shooting at the Capital Gazette newspaper in Annapolis, Md we need to all watch and speak out for writers, editors, and journalists everywhere.

From NPR: “On Thursday night, Anne Arundel officials released the names of the Capital Gazette employees killed in the shooting: Rebecca Smith, sales assistant; Gerald Fischman, editorial page editor; Wendi Winters, special publications editor; John McNamara, staff writer; and Robert Hiaasen, an assistant editor and columnist.

 In a Facebook post Hiassen’s brother Carl, a renown novelist, described Robert as “one of the most gentle and funny people I’ve ever known.”

Journalists, nonfiction writers, bloggers, or writers of fiction have long been targets. Jails around the world are full of bloggers and journalists sent there for speaking out on subjects we would consider no big deal. Writers of fiction and nonfiction have long been threatened by extremists. In the US, in France, and in other countries journalists have been targeted by crazy ass insane hateful ignorant people.

In today’s climate of crazy ass madness and blind hate we need to keep our voices loud and support writers all over the world. No writer should live in fear. Not from some crazy ass shooter. Not from their government. Not from stalkers and trolls. We must stand together.

We don’t need useless thoughts and prayers. We need action. We need to speak out for the freedom of thought and speech for everyone on this planet.

I don’t feel like my government will do anything. Thoughts and prayers are useless and will not fix the problem. Ignorance and hate must not be embraced. We can’t ignore anymore shootings. Politicians are useless. It is up to us to figure out a way to CHANGE. I wish I had the answer – help me out.

Keep your voices loud. Keep your voices clear. Support all writers be they journalists, bloggers, writers of fiction, and nonfiction.

To the assholes of the universe: YOU CAN’T KEEP US QUIET. YOU CAN’T STOP OUR VOICES. WE WILL WRITE. We will write. We will write. And those who don’t write will READ and talk and share.

We are writers. We will not go away. We will not be quiet.

 

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

Note: One of my all time favorite authors John Sandford said this better than I could have. This is his heartbreaking FB post.

Screenshot 2018-06-28 22.26.16

 

Fear and Change

Most Vampires get paralyzed by fear and self-doubt. Oh forget the blood taking and seductive ways that helped romanticize us.

You know what I’m talking about. Even the most confident of us feels that way more than we would like.

We jealously guard our own versions of our memories.

Something taken away.

Something given.

Something found.

Something lost.

It is that sense of loss and identity that finds so many climbing into crypts or under floorboards to sleep forever.

It is that inability to know there are others and that there is something to look forward to. Things change but not for better or worse – just different. Hell, things usually change for the better if you want them to be better. If you make them better. I didn’t say it was easy. It isn’t anything you’ll find in a self-help book. There aren’t self-help books for Vampires. There aren’t self-help books for most things that really matter.

Reaching inside where your old soul used to be and pulling up your new self isn’t easy. Your old self is still there – you will never lose that. You will always be yourself – like it or not. But you can change. You can become better. You can refurbish your old self.

You can shine like the full moon on a clear winter night.

Where you miss the warmth of your skin you will find coolness of nerves.

Where you miss those who grew old you will treasure the memories.

Where you miss the innocence of your existence you will find something else.

You aren’t a monster or an outcast – you are just different. Everyone is different. Accept it.

You’ll taste blood, but you’ll give back contentment in your donors – or give nightmares – it is your choice. Nice. You never had that choice before.

You’ll learn how to get blood stains out of anything.

Change or lack of change are both things we want and something that we fear.

Nobody said any of this was going to be easy. Then again, nobody said it wasn’t going to be exciting and wonderful.

Contentment isn’t just something for a few. It is something we can all strive for. Content but still moving forward, never forgetting where we have been or where we are going.

The other day I spoke to my friend Cody who has been a Vampire for almost four years. He never asked for it but he accepted the changes in his life. There will be hardships ahead along with triumphs. He didn’t struggle like some do. He has had a lot of questions and questioned a lot of things. He has learned.

But he told me, “You know that old expression about a door closing and a window opening? The roof came off for me. I can see the whole world of possibilities now. Anything is possible as long as I keep reminding myself of that.”

Yes, Cody, anything is possible.

 

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

We’re Marching Today

Later this morning my seventeen year old daughter and I will head downtown to the steps of the California State Capitol for the Women’s March Rally.

My twenty year old son will be going to an event with his college friends at another university town.

Earlier this morning, around 5:30 a.m. my brother Val stopped by for coffee and a chat. He will also be there today with his friend Lilly, and a few others in his circle.

Val looked like any other exceptionally well-groomed and charming hipster to his friends. They know he is different but has no idea he is a socially aware, involved, evolved, and active 158 year old Vampire. Not that it should make any difference to anyone. I admit to some people it would be uncomfortable, but hey, you know, we’re not going anywhere.

Many of our friends will be there – friends of all backgrounds, ages, beliefs, and biology.

Now is the time, as one journalist put it, “we can’t let ourselves be held prisoner in the basement of a Hobby Lobby.”

We can’t let our hearts, or our minds be held prisoner anywhere.

Val is charming, but can be objective and cold. That said, he has been an advocate for the homeless, and mentally ill. As with all of my family, he has always been an advocate for equal rights for women, and the LGBT community since before there were any rights for women, or LGBT people.

So we’re talking over coffee this morning and Val had a few thoughts. “You’ve been fighting this battle for so long. The forces of evil are trying to undo all that has been accomplished. We must keep fighting. I’m with you all the way. We are not the evil ones. Vampires and Werewolves, and things that live in the night are not what people need to fear. It is their own kind that they must rally against.”

I listened to him for a while, preaching to the choir. That was alright. Like I said, he is usually pretty cold and unemotional about these things. Val is always the nice guy who gets along with everyone. Today there is a cold resolve in his eyes. He sees beyond what is, and sees what could be. He sees what has been in the past and knows there is no such thing as the good old days.

I’ll have an update on today’s events later today, or tonight.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

 

What we’re talking about over coffee this morning.

Coffee with Vampires

Even during the holidays we try to keep daylight hours, more or less, but I sometimes have that pull of my nocturnal biology and don’t sleep. I don’t sleep anyway. Most Vampires sleep like the dead (duh) but, well, good for them.

In the wee hours of the morning of December 28, 2016, just past midnight, my house shook with the force of an earthquake. Then it shook again.

At first Teddy thought it was the dog scratching and yelled at her. I told him it was no dog. Outside of Hawthorne, Nevada, close to the California/Nevada border the earth shook not once, but twice, at 5.8 and 5.6. It was enough for us to feel it 160 miles away (as the crow flies.)

Everyone else fell asleep but I kept awake. I feel like I’m still awake. I have coffee.

This morning it was quiet, despite the crowd staying at my house. Almost everyone was asleep this morning, just before the sun came up, so I took the dog for a walk. It was cold and wet but that can’t stop a one year old German Shepard. The nose of a dog knows no limits to what it can smell. When I got home I found my brother Max in my kitchen.

He’d come in late last night. Now he was leaning against the island counter with his eyes closed and his headphones on. He was as still as stone with no obvious signs of life. I walked up to him and gently took the headphones out. I listened. Strumbellas We Don’t Know. It was fitting for Max but a surprise.

Max opened his eyes and smiled a rare dazzling Vampire smile.

“Morning. Your coffee is getting cold,” I said handing him his cup.

“Thanks.”

“Do you think your demons will be gone today?”

He shrugged. “It might take a while.”

Over the holidays Demons had infested his home in San Francisco. He went to a party and when he came back they were there tearing the place up. Like just about everything else in this universe of ours they are attracted to Max and just can’t seem to stay away. He tried to take care of the problem himself but ended up with a black gash on his arm, and a major headache. He had to call a professional and move out for a few days.

Our great great great great Grandmama Lola came in, also staying for a few days (because the kids are on break) and made tea. She has been nervous since the election and all of the right-wing religious talk. Unlike Max and I who have had relatively safe lives, all things considering, Lola has not. She is ancient and has seen those she loved strapped to poles and burned alive. She has seen our kind torn apart and beheaded for no other reason that the fact they were different.

Lola warns us and my children again that they must stay quiet and trust no one. Of course. She is right.

“Not just us, but others as well. Do not forget the lessons of history, or those of your elders,” she tells the younger generation.

I hear my kids upstairs laughing now. Garrett has that joyful sort of horse laugh that so many young men have. Clara’s laugh is deep and rich, but still the laugh of a typical teenage girl.

Lola doesn’t look much older than my two but her eyes show the centuries. Sometimes it is the same look one finds in war zones and refugee camps. It is that look that politicians and religious leaders can’t see from their high pulpits – it is a look they close their own eyes to.

But now I’m starting to sound like a schlockie Vampire novel, or something from Oprah’s Book Club. Actually, take that back, I’d love to be in Oprah’s Book Club, as an author.

My brother Val showed up, then my husband Teddy came downstairs so it was a regular party.  So much for binge watching Twilight Zone, Botched, and Leah Remini in a quiet house (where nobody knows what I’m doing.) Insomnia got me through West World, and Worst Cooks in America. I found the other three this week by accident because I just did, and I couldn’t sleep, and my brain turned off for writing, or art, or anything else.

The discussion over coffee and tea included:

  • “The Curse of Oak Island” is the fact that they aren’t going to ever find anything.
  • A guy I know is going to audition for “America’s Got Talent.”
  • We were all impressed by the movie, “Hell or High Water.”
  • Juliette only read a few books in 2016, and that is a shame. And in 2017 we’re all going to read, “The Stranger” by Albert Camus, some for the first time, and some of us again.

Just like any other family we talk about movies, silly TV stuff, and books when we get together. That is something most of us can agree on.

We also talked in length about Max’s Demon problem. I swear there must be a portal near his house, or it must be him. I think they’re attracted to him because they see him as such a powerful Vampire. He says that isn’t the case. He says we’re all powerful in our own ways, then tries to be the good uncle and tells the kids that. Val and Lola went off into a corner to discuss his new girlfriend. Teddy gave me a kiss and went off to work.

Tonight Teddy and I are going to the Kings game. It will be my first time in the new Golden 1 Arena. Woo Hoo. We’ll go to Magnolia’s (a blood bar) for dinner first. Woo Hoo. Yes, that is the Sacramento Kings (just like my name) Basketball. Woo Hoo.

Football does nothing for me but I like Baseball and Basketball. Go Kings. Go Giants. My other sport is Artistic Roller Skating. Woo Hoo.

More on all of THAT later this year.

I sat by Lola and Val, and took Lola’s hand. I wanted to tell her that it will all be alright but I said nothing, and listened to Val tell about the girl he is falling in love with.

Happy New Year again everyone.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

Lola

Lola

 

 

Short Story Sunday: Morning at the Vineyard

Morning at the Vineyard

Andrew didn’t remember much when the door opened with blinding light waking him from his sleep, much less the voice that said “You aren’t dead.”

“Of course I’m not dead.” Andrew lifted himself up on his elbow and looked around at the bedroom.

“You were so cold. We couldn’t hear your heart.” A slim woman with long slightly graying hair stood near the bed.

“That’s what all the girls say.” No response. “That was a joke.”

“Oh. Ha ha ha. Good one.” Uncomfortable laughing.

There was the taste of blood in his mouth, but not his own. It must have been a Hell of a night. He looked at the woman again. She was pretty but not young, standing there in a flowing sundress and pretty light summer sweater. Nice. This would be fairly easy staying here for a few days, but he would still be cautious. Sometimes the most easy ones turned out to be the most dangerous.

Andrew started to get up and realized he was naked under the sheets.

“Your clothes were soaked and also covered with blood. We thought about calling the police but my husband Ian said to wait until morning. My husband Dennis said the same. I don’t agree with them. We should have called the police as soon as we found you.”

“Where was I?”

“In the vineyard, face down in the dirt. Your car was in a ditch with four flats and the front end smashed in. We pulled it out.”

The Tesla. Quiet and fast and expensive. Then he thought about what she said. “Husbands? You mentioned two husbands.”

“We practice polyandry. Two husbands, one wife, one family. It isn’t legal or common or accepted by most people but…”

“I don’t have a problem with it. As long as it works for you.”

“It does.”

She took a stack of clothing, jeans, a shirt, etc, from the top of the dresser and gave it to Andrew. “Clean clothing. Breakfast will be ready in about a half hour. And we’ll discuss who you are and why you’re here and where all the blood came from.” Then she turned and left the room.

What a night. The fog started to clear from Andrew’s brain. He staggered up out of the bed and closed the window shades. Damn sunlight. Looking in the mirror the reflection looked back showing a well built man with alabaster skin, long chestnut curls flowing down his back, a classically handsome face and hazel eyes the color of the blue green southern seas. His mouth twitched showing fangs. He quickly gained his composure and hid the teeth and rubbed his tired eyes.

“Shit. What the crap happened to you Andrew,” he said to himself. There was wine, a lot of wine. There were women. There was a guy named Brant and his friend Chet. There was the girl Ginger…she had AB + blood, Chet had O. Oh no. Why didn’t he remember? And how’d he end up face down in the middle of a vineyard? Zinfandel. He knew what kind of grapes they were.

Taking a 3 minute shower, he towel dried his long locks, pulled on the clothes the woman had left him and went down the stairs. He could smell food cooking and coffee. He gripped the banister to prevent himself from throwing up everything inside of his stomach. He’d over done it for sure, blood and wine. Wine and blood. Sex too but that was a blur. Food might do him some good.

In the kitchen were two men and the woman, along with half a dozen kids in who ranged from about 8 to 17.

He looked at the men. A large blonde man who looked like a former football player introduced himself as Ian. Dennis was shorter with the look of a History Professor or some sort of thing like that. They called the woman Carrie. One big happy family.

Ian poured Andrew coffee and welcomed him. They all welcomed him. This was getting creepy. Then again, Andrew was the Vampire, but he was sitting in the home of a farmer and wine maker and her two husbands and six kids. It was weird. But hey, he decided to make the best of it.

They made small talk. He thanked them for taking him in. Carrie put plates of eggs and fried tofu and toast and fruit and bacon and mushrooms on the table.

The teenage girls thought Andrew’s hair was great and asked him if he was in a band. He smiled minus fangs. He must have had at least five cups of coffee.

“Last night I thought you had some nasty scratches on your face,” mentioned Ian.

“I, uh, heal fast.” Andrew said that then wished he’d kept his mouth shut. He healed fast because he wasn’t like them. He took the blood and energy of regular normal people and in return, he made them feel good – like a rush that would last at least a week. Well, if he liked them and made a connection.

“Where’d all the blood come from? Except for the scratch on your face you didn’t have a mark on you.” As Carrie said that she gave him a long cold look.

“Blood? On me? I guess I drank too much. Too much of everything and threw up. I don’t know. My friends drank a lot and someone was doing some sort of recreational drugs or maybe prescription pain killers, I’m not sure, but I over did it. Listen, I’m so sorry about this and I really appreciate your hospitality. I’ve imposed on you. I wish there was something I could do to pay you back. Let me know.”

Ian gave him a pat on the arm. “We know what it is like to be different.”

“You’re a Vampire aren’t you?” Dennis asked as the kids all looked on.

Andrew brushed a damp lock of hair out of his face and suddenly felt a little warm. “Yes, but…”

“How long have you been a Vampire?” Carrie was asking now.

“I’ve always been one. My parents were Vampires. Um, I was born just down the road from here. October 22, 1851.”

The children were transfixed.

“We don’t have a problem with Vampires. Some food might settle your stomach Andrew,” said Carrie. “And you’re welcome to stay as long as you like. We found your phone and called your sister. She’ll be here in a couple of hours.”

This was all too strange for Andrew. He’d spent the past 100 years or thereabouts avoiding families and any kind of normal human lives. Years had passed traveling, and performing and enjoying wine and women and wild nights. But now he sat with a nice family with no pretenses. And rarely had he ever met humans who knew or even knew about real Vampires. It was so unusually weird.

“I sing opera,” he said to the kids. “Mainly opera but I can sing just about anything. Just got back from Patagonia and learned a bunch of folk songs. I can do metal too. That comes naturally.”

“I can imagine you do a great power ballad,” Carrie said with a smile, then she told the children to leave the room.

Andrew had to smile. This as so weird but he could get used to this. He looked at Carrie’s golden brown eyes. A positive blood, just like his. She’d make a good Vampire, or even just a snack.

He thought about his sister. It had been forever since he’d seen her or her children. It would be nice. More than nice. Maybe she’d get another husband too. He might suggest it. He smiled. That would be funny.

“What happened to my friends? Did you see any of them?” Andrew looked from Dennis to Ian then to Carrie. “Did they say where they went?”

Carrie looked him in the eye as Dennis and Ian flanked her side. “We buried them in the garden behind the carriage house.”

“Don’t worry,” said Dennis “Nobody ever found the other bodies we’ve buried, so they won’t find your friends.”

Andrew took another gulp of coffee and hoped his sister would arrive soon.

And that was the entire truth just as my brother Andrew told it to me

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

Note: This story has been posted several times before and was the inspiration for my short story collection.

 

Morning at the Vineyard

Fear and the Creative Soul

I opened the door and imagined I was on the coast.

This morning brought in cool air and overcast skies. It was one of those “at the ocean” days. Granted I’m more by a lake and a river, but the ugly mood the drought has brought was lifted for a few hours.

Today I was also feeling inspired then had a boost from my muse. Yes I have a muse, in the form of a dear friend who has encouraged my creative endeavors for the past 140 years.

Yes, there are friendships that endure and last. Now I feel guilty for letting so many years of fear and confusion hold me back when she and others have told me to keep going and to never hold back. Sometimes I wish their gentle encouragements would have been hard swift kicks.

Yes, I have had wonderful and lucrative success in the past as a creative professional but now it is time for a new chapter. It is time for everything to finally come together and for me to be where I want to be. Where I need to be.

So yes, my dear friend I heard you loud and clear. I am listening. Finally. I mean, I listened before but now I’m DOING.

I’m the Princess of saying I’m going to do something and then not coming through. Fear. Yes, Vampires do sense fear. Not fear of the dark or of things that go bump in the night or a terror in a dark alley or crypt. It is the fear that all creative creatures have. You know what I’m talking about. I dare not express it.

It isn’t just rejection. I can handle that. I’m an expert at rejection. It is much much much more. It is terror deep down inside of every cold icy pore of your existence.

Orchids

The Orchid Show (with Vampires)

The past weekend my teenage daughter Clara and I took the elders, Eleora and Tellias to an orchid show. Yes, a garden show.

From time to time we take the ancient pair out in public, least they sit around at home getting into trouble, or worse, wandering off on their own. They don’t look much older than my own teens (15 and 19) but they were born before the birth of Christ.

A young girl, college age, with long blonde hair and cheerleader looks was pushing an old woman in a wheel chair up and down the isles of flowers. They would pause and discuss the plants, heads close with smiles on their faces. The girl would take the older woman’s knotted arthritic hands in hers as they discussed the plants and took notes. Another woman, the girl’s mother walked ahead, then walked back to the other two, obviously glad for her few moments alone. Three generations of women all together, but one a little apart, by choice.

Orchid Orchids are amazing flowers. They come in every shape and size. Some look like they have fallen from the gowns of angels, while others look like deadly spiders of the night. I love them all, as do those who grow them. My own mother grows them and I’ve only started to collect (I have two.) Eleora and Tellias have grown orchids in their greenhouse at least a hundred years.

Like I said before, Tellias and Eleora look young. Tellias with his white blonde hair pulled back in a pony tail and Eleora with her brown waist long curls and 1950’s wiggle dress looked like just another hip young couple. They were cute and exceptionally well-behaved. I’d warned Eleora that she was not to take anyone to back rooms of the Masonic temple where the orchid show took lace. She was not to act like the Vampire she is. We were here for flowers and flowers only. We would have lunch later, with someone else.

Orchids

Tellias turned and looked at the three women I mentioned early. He took my arm.

“I know her Juliette. She was just a child, but would know her anywhere.” He let go and went to the old woman in the wheel chair.

They spoke, then hugged, then he kissed her cheek. They held hands and went to a quiet corner of the hall. The young woman, her granddaughter went with them. At first the women thought Tellias was the grandson or great grandson of someone she once knew. Then she realized that it was her parent’s old friend, the man who had given her drawing lessons during a summer at a beach house during the 1930’s when she was a child. He and his wife (Eleora) had the house next door. He’d spend a lot of time with the children, telling them fantastic stories – stories that only she knew where real. The last time she saw him she was only twelve but they recognized each other right away. She never questioned that he still looked the same because she obviously knew. Some people just know.

She had been an artist and still painted when she could. Now she said her art was her flowers. The younger women, her daughter and granddaughter were also her flowers in a way. She’d nurtured them until they both blossomed into beauties and thrived.

Eleora, in her sometimes shy way, went over and said hello as well. It was a sweet moment.

I stood back, not to make things uncomfortable. Too many Vampires can do that to people, even people who know what we are. As you know very few people do know we’re different (as in Vampires.)

My eye met the eyes of the middle-aged daughter. We both knew that bond of once being the child and now being the adult – but still in a way, always the child.

Back at the farmhouse of Tellias and Eleora we brought the new orchid plants to the greenhouse. It was a good day. A rare daytime outing for the ancient Vampires.

I thought about all of the stories I have yet to pry out of those two. I’ve yet to find the secrets of their origins and centuries of … centuries of everything they have done and seen. In the meantime I just enjoy them for the silly old Vampires they are and for their weird wisdom and the joy they bring.

And I can appreciate the way they nurtured me the way they nurture their orchids – with care and love.

Sure we’re Vampires, but sometimes we come out of the shadows and bloom and grow and remember.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Orchid

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Orchid Show, Sacramento 2015