Banana Cream Pie

Today I spent some time thinking of different things I might do for the official release of Storms of Malhado on September 8th. One idea I came up with is maybe having an old fashioned pie recipe contest – with judges who are foodies. I figured that could be fun, since Betty eats so much pie in the book.

Also, look at the adorable baby frog John sent me a picture of. He’s so cute! Look how tiny he is.

It’s the season for frogs – which also makes it the season for night herons who go out hunting for our sweet amphibian friends. Tonight I saw the night heron again. I’d been hoping for a sighting since this time last year. And now he was back, majestic and surreal, standing in the same place where I last saw him, a good reminder of the healing power of nature, of the way in which things always come full circle.

After I calmed my hyperventilating dog and got back home, I looked up the symbolism of the night heron again. Apparently he’s meant to tell us we’re exactly where we need to be. A heron sighting is also an invitation to slow down and contemplate.

Minnows

Today our friend came by and did a curbside masked drop off of a special treat for Holly: freeze-dried minnows. They look like these teeny tiny fried fish I used to eat heads and bones and all in restaurants in Spain. I thought it was fun to paint one. It reminds me of the grilled fish I painted on Good Friday, only this little minnow is sitting on a tiny Buffalo China dessert plate and making it look huge.

Holly likes the new treats, and I’m hoping they help supplement her omega3 intake.

Also, I absolutely cannot stop making Canva collages for Storms of Malhado. Today’s collage includes the two horses that survive the 1900 storm.

Something Big

Y’all know I love my watercolors, but sometimes I need to make something big and to put all my energy into it. The other day I saw on social media that John challenged one of the Escapists to create a large abstract painting in under an hour. I love that type of challenge, as it’s meant to bring out the spontaneity and playfulness in the artist, to eliminate overthinking, self-doubt, and the desire to control the outcome and turn the art into something perfect and contrived. So I set my timer for an hour, and painted furiously over Facebook Live. It was so much fun and people really enjoyed it! At the end of the show I successfully auctioned off the painting. It was all magical and extremely satisfying. Will definitely try this again.

Also, I keep making all these Canva collages to advertise the official release of Storms of Malhado on September 8th – the anniversary of the Great Storm of 1900.

Jin Chan

I woke up this morning to find that the energy had shifted. While I really felt this full moon – tiredness, unexplained sadness, weird dreams, the works! – I felt that today everything would be different. I also felt a powerful need to tidy up my space, to get rid of stuff. Remember the monster made out of clothes that was in my bedroom underneath my beautiful new painting by Sarah Rimboch? I slayed it this morning, then decided that maybe the old tattered papasan chair I dragged here from Galveston needed to go too. It was a gift from my favorite redhead, and so I texted her about my need to clean, the full moon, and other important matters. She said she’d been feeling the same, plus also inspired to feed the Jin Chan. The Jin Chan is a powerful Feng Shui symbol – the Money Toad. She has a statue of it from the Witchery. Apparently it’s very auspicious if the Jin Chan manifests itself in your life around the Full Moon. It means you will get good news and money.

So I decided to paint the Jin Chan over Facebook Live in order to manifest it for everyone watching. John came on and said he wasn’t aware of the symbolism, but that last night a frog was in the gallery and Ryan called him and asked him to take it outside. John has a pond full of frogs. But there has never been one in the gallery before. We took this as a very good omen.

As to my own Jin Chan, I placed it by the door, so money can come into the gallery. And I am really happy with my tidy bedroom with its happy art – sans papasan chair.

Also, I’m having some really good ideas about promoting Storms of Malhado and getting ready to celebrate it properly on September 8th.

White Rose

Highlights of the day: Being interviewed and my work being featured on this Australian blog. Also, I think I’ve made a new friend in the author of the blog.

Today’s painting : a white rose John gave me along with my goodie bag for last night’s virtual White Linen party.

Other fun stuff: Here’s the “making of” video for my Bathing Beauties contest submission. You can see that Bogdan and I had lots of fun! And paint ended up everywhere!

And now that the Bathing Beauties contest is behind us, you may wonder what’s next? I’ve been thinking of this all day, and having a little bit of that type of blues one gets when an important milestone has passed. The answer, in a way, came from the Bathing Beauties contest itself. I remembered during the contest, that back when I’d applied, I thought Storms of Malhado would be published on September 8th, on the anniversary of the Great Storm. By publishing it early I’ve won five months of readers, reviews, and other adventures. But what if I were to make a really huge deal out of the September 8th launch date? I’m so much better at hosting online events now. I could organize various online release parties around that date! It could be fun and something to look forward to!

From Bathing Beauties to White Linen

Today was the day of the Bathing Beauties Contest! I woke up to people sending me good wishes and even a snapshot of an article from the Houston Chronicle about the Beach Revue. Watching it online was for sure different than being on the Seawall – sigh! – but I’m glad the Galveston Historical Foundation had the contest anyway, and glad I participated.

You can now see the little video Buburuza Productions made for me, and which I submitted to the contest, on YouTube. It did not win, but it was well received and extremely fun to make, and I’m really grateful to all the wonderful people who supported me. If you want to take a peek at the winner, check out @_sunshinecharlotte_ on Instagram. You can see her video there, which I really love! She owns an old house on the Island, has a cute cat, and we became friends on social media, so I hope I will get to meet her one day when this stupid pandemic is over.

Also, I really enjoyed some of the historical pictures that were included in today’s Beach Revue. One of them inspired today’s painting. And I learned some interesting things: Did you know that women wearing bathing dresses such as mine circa 1900 would wear bathing stockings and bathing shoes to the beach, including in the water? That detail has to make it into my next novel.

After the Beach Revue, tonight held another fun online event, the epic yearly White Linen party hosted by my mentors. I only wish we could have had it in person, but we sure had a lot of fun online! Earlier in the day I drove to John’s to pick up my bottle of champagne and snack pack for the occasion – also a beautiful white rose.

I also picked up my new painting by Sarah Rimboch, from her Latrice series. You can see it below, on the right hand side, next to MoNique Leroux’ big blue and gold painting I bought last year. On the left in the golden frame is a painting by Thaddaeus Arvie. I have to say that Sarah’s painting has a big personality and really changes my experience of walking into that room. It has gold on it too and shines in beautiful ways when the lights are low. I really love it and am happy I bought it.

As to the big pink monster… I’ve no idea what that is or what it’s hiding. But the new painting does make me want to tidy up the room. Maybe.

Holly’s 10th Birthday

I was in the middle of a Zoom photo shoot with an international photographer, who was trying to teach me how to shoot pictures of myself riding an imaginary horse, when there was a knock on my door. I went downstairs wearing my silver fox over a tiny nightie, and a face mask of course, and there was a lady delivering a birthday cake for my dog – a gift from my top collectors. In case y’all had any doubts that I’m living my best life.

Later in the evening we had a Zoom Party for the birthday dog. She spent most of it sitting pretty, staring at the cake on the table, hoping for another piece. Although dogs don’t really love Zoom, I hope she could feel that attention was being paid to her. Though I doubt she cared for anything besides that cake.

Tomorrow is the Bathing Beauties contest! I’m so excited! Y’all please watch it live at 1pm CST at BeachRevue.com and root for me!

Edwardian Dress

With the Beach Revue around the corner, I felt inspired to paint the intricate top of an Edwardian dress I saw on Instagram. I also got some good news from the Island: A few copies of Storms of Malhado have arrived and are now available for sale at Tippy-Toes, the most charming little store, housed in the beautiful historic Trueheart-Adriance Building. Because a historical novel set on Galveston Island belongs in a historic building on the Island, n’est-ce pas?

Meanwhile, here in Houston, I’m planning my dog’s Zoom birthday party and continuing to edit The Glory Days of Aimée Bonnard. We’re reaching the part of summer I really love, where the crepe myrtles are beautiful and pink, insects buzz loudly in the trees in the evenings, and I’m enjoying long swims at sunset. It’s all quite wonderful, but I do miss the Island breeze.

Haunting Mansion

Today I spied on Instagram that my historical expert paid a visit to the League House – the Galveston mansion, currently on the market, that inspired the house in Storms of Malhado. I was befallen by Island nostalgia, and it stayed with me throughout the day. The League House did not so much inspire as haunt me, my visit there on a cold winter’s day memorable both through the majesty and beauty of the house as well as through its spookiness. It was cold inside, and large African sculptures decorated vast rooms where, for all the eclectic decor something vital seemed to be missing – a person, perhaps, who would lovingly restore the mansion to its former glory. Birds looked at me from frames in the walls. They scared me a little. I don’t know why. My friend and I went up to the third floor, the place where Josephine would have lived. I think some of the rooms were empty up there, but later, my friend Robert Kuhn, the talented singer-songwriter would stay there on occasion. He referred to the League House as “the mansion,” which I always liked.

Cava in the Rain

In which my friend came by to pick up her watercolor commission and we wore our masks inside like good civic-minded citizens, then decided to sit outside at a safe distance from each other and drink cava. It was drizzling just a little bit, but it was still nice to be outside and nice to be together yet at a safe distance, to drink some bubbly and laugh. I was still buzzed when doing my Facebook Live show, but it was funny, and at the end two people wanted the cava watercolor. My friend who actually drank the cava with me was the one who got it.

There have been some good writing-related incidents as well. The collector who purchased Mary Star of the Sea wrote to say she really enjoyed Lost Path to Solitude. There was a chapter in particular she really liked, and last night I went back and reread it. It was interesting to remember all that, the feelings I experienced while writing that book, as well as the things that were going on in my life at the time. Also, I found that I too, really love that chapter. I might have forgotten that for a moment, and it was nice to remember.

I also did more editing on Glory Days, and made this little Instagram post using a quote I find funny. It wasn’t a very popular post, possibly because it uses the word “whore” – not a word I usually like. In fact, the only context in which I find it relevant is in referring to someone who trades sex for money, and even then I prefer “prostitute” or “sex worker.” But, as a luxury prostitute in 1888, Aimée sometimes refers to herself as a whore. She also likes calling herself a courtesan, which is charming. In any case, she does not internalize the judgement some bestow on her chosen profession, and she’s a fun girl with a good sense of humor. I find that the quote represents her well.