After successfully dropping off the dog today I proceeded to having the most lovely day hanging out with my friend in Galveston, then doing historical research at the Rosenberg Library. The weather was glorious, we had a great lunch at Maceo’s, a stroll on the beach (including a visit to Murdoch’s), we talked about my plans for Storms of Malhado, and we laughed and joked a lot. We even bought scratch-offs and a lottery ticket at Bob’s Grocery – which was satisfyingly seedy – because we decided it was a lucky day. We won nothing in the scratch-offs, but that’s ok. I was feeling light and playful, the way I used to feel back when I was living in Galveston and life seemed in many ways simpler. I really miss those days, and sometimes I still long to move back.
Later, I went to the Rosenberg Library and perused the City Directory from 1900 as well as the one from 1961. They were very interesting to say the least.
A lot happened today. I started having second thoughts about leaving my dog with my friend – not because I don’t think that would be the cutest, cuddliest arrangement for my little four-pawed diva, but because I have a prior arrangement with her vet and I value that relationship. Also, the little diva needs a mani/pedi and that’s hard to organize on short notice. I was counting on her vet for doing that – and then some. Plus, they stock her food and save me from other preparations I don’t feel up to right now because I have things to do. Things like packing for New York and having a promotional photo shoot in my 1900 bathing dress! I might have judged myself a little for making this such a priority, but once I got to the photo shoot, the photographer (Bogdan of Buburuza Productions) and I had so much fun! It was definitely the moment when I forgot my travel anxiety and was able to just be my happiest most playful self.
So yes, check out these photos! I will be sharing them over several posts, to prolong the suspense.
Also today, my editor sent me the revised blurb she’s been working on for Storms of Malhado. Check it out (below). What do you think?
Three women. Three hurricanes. One haunting truth …
Katie doesn’t believe in ghosts.
And she certainly doesn’t believe the rumors that her family’s old mansion in Galveston, Texas is haunted, despite its tragic history: two young women who lived in the house in different eras both died in hurricanes – one during Hurricane Carla in 1961, and one during the Great Storm of 1900, the greatest natural disaster to ever befall the United States.
But that was the past. A fact Katie reminds herself of when she returns home to Galveston to await Hurricane Ike with her parents and boyfriend in her family’s old mansion on Broadway, hoping to rekindle her flailing relationship. But while Katie may not be afraid of the ghost stories she’s heard, she is afraid of the monster storm approaching the island. And as even the most die-hard islanders evacuate, Katie’s fears grow. Fear of the looming hurricane. Fear that she’s talentless as a painter. Fear that her relationship with her elusive boyfriend is already over. And as Katie struggles against her fears, the past whispers to her of the women who died there, and the haunting similarities they share with Katie’s own life. And as Katie’s fears grow stronger, she must decide if she has the strength to break the cycle of the past, or be doomed to repeat it.
Through three different timelines, Storms of Malhado weaves a story of Galveston’s past, underscoring its danger and isolation, as well as its remarkable resilience, its capacity for both nostalgia and reinvention. Full of contradictions, at once insular and open to the world, magical but stifling, stuck in the past yet determined to overcome, Galveston Island is as much a character of the novel as Katie, Suzanne, Betty, their lovers, and their confidantes.
Today I had a little event to say goodbye to my collectors before leaving on my trip. For the first time ever I baked bread for an event, and I was quite pleased with how it turned out. But otherreally good things happened too: A friend who is dogless but loves dogs offered to take Holly while I travel. Note: I have not trusted anyone except professionals with my dog in years, but I think it’s time to open up to this type of help and support. My friend is always playful and sweet around Holly, and her home would be a warm loving environment for my little Poochie.
It’s interesting, considering I’ve been such a rolling stone for years, and that not long ago I was feeling very much alone here in Houston. But, as I embark on this trip, it turns out I have friends who are taking me to the airport, friends I’m traveling with, a friend who volunteered to look after my mail and plants, friends who took the orchid they gave me a few months ago so they can coax it into blooming again. And a friend who wants to love on my dog while I’m gone. But, let’s not forget the most important of all: a friend who truly gets me and talked me through some of the heavier feelings I’ve been dealing with. For a travel blogger, I must admit I have a lot of anxiety about travel – up until the moment when the trip actually starts. I think that is the moment of letting go, which is always hard for me to do. But with a good support system perhaps this time it’ll be easier. Or so I hope.
I’ve always found the Louvre very appealing, from an architectural point of view, that is. There’s something about the building that I really love. So I’ve always wanted to draw some of the intricate sculptures adorning it. Today I got my chance, as the first part of my day involved waiting.
It’s been a complex day, torn between my tendency to overthink things and over-worry, and a sense of pleasant anticipation and optimism for the future. How I can make such contradictory emotions coexist I don’t know, but somehow I manage.
Tomorrow I’m baking bread and having a few friends and collectors over. My Christmas trees are still up – but I do like to leave them up longer than most people in this country do. I’ll take them down before leaving for New York next week, considering they’re a fire hazard and all that, but I feel like I’ll miss them. And then I realized that when I go see my old ladies later this month – because I will go see my old ladies and I’m a bit afraid of the encounter, afraid of finding them older and frailer than I left them – they’ll probably still have their tree up. My old lizard likes to keep it around extra long because she says it helps her not get the winter blues.
Today was a good day. I had breakfast with John in the Heights and we talked about some very exciting stuff for the future. Afterwards I sat in EQ, my favorite coffee shop with my art on the walls, and wrote.
I wrote a little bit about the horses, made them more present in the story, included their names and their temperaments, the way Suzanne feels about them. I think this adds an important element to the story.
When I got to painting in the evening I ended up making something that’s very different from what I usually do. It’s the oil stick on top that makes it so different.
Today my 1900 bathing suit arrived, complete with its white pantaloons, which are quite fetching! It arrived early, which was a good thing, as I was afraid it’d get here while I was in New York.
I’m still having quite a lovely time reaching out to readers and telling them about the possibility of ordering pre-release copies of Storms of Malhado. It’s so satisfying each time someone actually does!
Working on the manuscript is also still fun. The editor’s comments got me thinking about agency a lot. Do my heroines make their own choices or do they just react to what happens? I know Miss Vulpe certainly made her own choices – however dangerous or controversial. But does Betty? Does Suzanne? I think they do. Suzanne chooses to write to Desmond. She chooses to meet him. And although Cornelius seems to be at times making the choices for Betty, she does indeed choose to be with him too.
Today I was invited to celebrate the new year with a fabulous lunch at John and Ryan’s. Alexander Ross was the centerpiece on the table, which made me very happy. After the meal, there was a fire, and we all participated in a ritual where we wrote down our wishes for the new year and burned them. I like that ritual very much.
Afterwards I drove home, painted, and made bread. I’m getting back into baking – another ritual that I really like. It seemed like the perfect day for it too. It was rainy outside, but not really cold, and I really felt like it was one of those days where I fully enjoy the scent of everything – the fire, the bread, the rain. I’m about to get into bed with my little dog, who smells like a newborn piglet, sweet and delicious, and read a book and call it an early night.
I don’t really remember ever feeling so peaceful, happy, and optimistic on New Year’s Eve! It’s usually fraught with some kind of anxiety – am I having enough fun? Bla bla. Well, this year I was perfectly content to have no plans and treat myself to a restful day and evening. Of course, one thing that helps with that is having a fabulous lunch to look forward to on New Year’s Day and wanting to be fresh and well hydrated, bright eyed and bushy tailed for it!
What also helps is that I’m feeling that, after a few rather difficult years, my magic is finally back. It simply is. And if you’ve only met me during the past two years, then get ready! Things will get so much more fun in 2020 now that I’m finally back to being myself and being happy and sparkly. If you’ve known me longer and hung in there waiting for me to re-emerge you are very special to me and I can’t wait for all the fun we have ahead of us!
Though mostly what I feel is an energetic shift, there are good things that happened today to confirm it – the return of the magic. John texted me early in the morning with an idea for how I could sell art today. The last day of the year is fantastic for it, as I’ve just learned. I followed his advice and sold a very magical painting. I also continued to reach out to my favorite readers and sold another pre-release copy of Storms of Malhado. These are so special to me! Each one I sell is meaningful, a sign that I’m on the right track, that people love my writing and are looking forward to this new book.
What else? I saw an old man in Randall’s buying grapes for good luck. I was there later than I wanted to be out, on a last-minute errand. I hate last-minute errands, but the store and parking lot were full of last-minute shoppers such as myself and I found this to be comforting and nice. Grapes for good luck, cigarettes, Neosporin, a sandwich, whatever. People were getting that last item they needed to slide into the new decade either festively or seamlessly, and I was grateful we were all there. Ten years ago I lived in a town where it was scary and lonely and weird to go to the supermarket after dark. A town where the store would have been closed the evening of December 31st. Ten years ago I had no dog, didn’t paint, was clumsily writing the tenth draft of my first novel, and hadn’t met most of the wonderful friends I have today. Defining moments, interesting experiences, great adventures and close friendships still lay ahead and I didn’t even know it. I was sad over something and I felt old because society loves telling young women they are aging. A decade later I look the same – hydration is not overrated! – but I am much more authentically myself and feel young and hopeful. I’m curious and excited to see what this new decade has in store.
Today a friend came over and we painted together. We talked about art and things we hope to achieve in the new year. I made this deer inspired by my friends’ trip to Ruidoso.
I also continued reaching out to people who have loved my books in the past to tell them about the possibility of pre-ordering the new book. This is turning out to be very special, catching up with readers one by one, seeing that they’re excited about the new book. It makes me happy and hopeful. It really makes me feel like this whole adventure in writing and publishing is worth it.
Today was a really fun day. I went to John and Ryan’s for Open Studio, and Ryan had a gift for everyone on the New York trip: a cozy fleece vest. I think I’ll wear it all winter. Then I went to my friends’ house for dinner. They have lots of animals and lots of my paintings – some of their animals, some of other things. We had a really nice dinner and even music: old school country, my favorite. I felt very relaxed. I’ve been taking a break these past few days, and it’s been really good for me.