Archive for November, 2014

Sarah Bernhardt / Poster by MuchaIt was just before Christmas in 1894 when the production of Gizmonda, starring the most revered actress in Paris, Sarah Bernhardt, needed a poster.  As the story goes, no one was around to draw it.  So a little known artist, Alphonse Mucha (the ‘ch’ is pronounced like ‘Bach’) rose to the challenge.  By channeling traditional Slavic popular art, he played a large part in creating the image of the ‘nouvelle’ woman.

It didn’t fail to impress the huge star’s ego when the posters were printed so large (2 meters tall) that pedestrians stood eye-to-eye with them.  They became a part of the street scene.  And with this campaign, the Art Nouveau movement was born. It would soon dominate the everyday lives of westerners as the flowing interlocking patterns would soon cover nearly every practical space and everyday object around.  And you can see the allure.

Society was moving quickly.  There were airplanes overhead; cameras recording everything; the Eiffel tower brought a festival of lights to Paris and forms blended together in dizzying, psychedelic speed.   It is no wonder that Mucha’s designs were an instant hit.  The hair is a sexy beast in itself.  The neoclassical dresses of the slender, young, erect figures, seemed just about to fall away.   His works were often peeled off walls and collected by fans.  It wasn’t long before his fame eclipsed that of Toulouse-Latrec, whose Moulin-Rouge posters seemed amateur and slapstick next to Mucha’s delicate tapestries of fluid, pastel forms.  Men didn’t fashionably wear long hair then, so the roles were clear.

This was the idealized western woman.  She’s sexy, but not vulgar.

He’s the man in the background.  Supporter, or sometimes, voyeur.

The Parisian, and soon American public, loved this “macaroni hair”.  His style began making its way into advertising and this overnight success got him into a new studio to experiment with the emerging art of photography. He produced a book called ‘Documents Decoratifs’, a bible for Art Nouveau, which spread his style across the world.

It is clear to see how a humble artist from Moravia (modern day Brno, Czech Republic) was able to conceive of the earliest sex symbols of the 20th century.   Even though most people have never heard of him, we have all likely seen one of his images.  His influence has resonated throughout the century, reemerging in the late 60’s as the major influence of Bob Masse’s psychedelic rock posters and at home in tattoo studios for years to come.








romance novel teaser

The coming months are busy ones with American Thanksgiving, then Chanukah, Christmas and New Year.  Like everyone else, we have a lot on the go.

The third book in the trilogy A Cloud of Hawthorne is nearing completion, but then there is the lengthy editing process and the even more lengthy publishing process.  I regret the book will not be out for that fabulous stocking stuffer you had hoped for.  However, for me gift giving happens year round, so make sure you save a little something for the new year.

As promised, here are a couple short romance novel excerpts from the book in progress, teasers to whet your appetites.

Oliver woke immediately and met Henley at his hut, the centre of their community and the primary meeting place.  The wind was fierce and rain was starting to pelt down hard and fast. It was like a sudden typhoon had hit.

“What the hell’s going on?” asked a concerned Brawn as twigs and forest debris blew around his feet.  A large branch came crashing down beside the hut and clipped a shingle off the roof.  Another tree, a tall cedar, crashed to the soft forest floor with a gigantic thud, kicking up a cloud of dirt and leaves in its wake.

“In all my years I’ve never seen anything like it,” said Henley.  “It just came out of nowhere.”

“Not much we can do now,” affirmed Brawn, his voice barely audible in the din.  “It’s blowing in from the north.  Best ride it out and assess the damage in the morrow.  Batten down the hatches.”  Just then a large hawthorne branch fell from the tree they were under.  It hit Oliver square on the left shoulder.

“Jeezus Criminey,” yelled Brawn.  Oliver was lying on the now wet ground.  He was out cold. 

“Hello.  Anybody here?” he called again.  He heard a door creak and Lavinia appeared in the doorway to the main room.  She wore a fitted bodice that exhibited her exquisite full figure and her dark skin gave her an exotic look, like her mother’s.  Slim ankles could be seen from beneath a layered skirt and she had the tiniest feet adorned in embroidered slippers.  Her dark, wavy hair was piled atop her head in a messy, disheveled up-do that Jeremiah thought looked extremely sexy.  He didn’t realize his mouth was hanging open. 

“Hello,” she said.  “Who are you?”  

“Oh, I’m Jeremiah.  Mr. Brawn just hired me on as a worker – handyman if you will.”

“Really? I didn’t know we were looking.”

“And you are the housemaid?”  Lavinia was taken aback but then decided to play along. “Actually, I’m Oliver’s nurse.  I’m in charge of his daily needs and his overall care.”

“Lucky Oliver. Do you bathe him? He must enjoy that very much.”  Lavinia placed her hands on her hips and scrunched up her face in a look of annoyance.

“Pardon me, but that is very impolite of you, nor is it any of your business.” 

“I do apologize, M’lady.  It was rude of me.  I-I just thought you might find some humour in it, being that you’re a servant girl and all.”  Lavinia softened a little to properly play out her role.  She wanted to be authentic in order to keep toying with this handsome young know-it-all.

Oliver grabbed her around the waist and pulled her down onto the bed.

“Olly, what are you doing?” she laughed.  He reached over and kissed her.  At first it was a small, quick peck but after a moment their lips hung on to each other’s and lingered in a long tasty kiss that both had dreamt of but had never followed through.  Lavinia felt soft flutterings in the pit of her stomach and a warm tingling between her thighs.  Oliver gently pressed his tongue into her mouth and hers opened to let him in, enjoying his texture and taste.  Her tongue ran along his straight white teeth, discovering every delicious detail.  His own tongue twisted around hers playfully yet erotically.  Lips explored, seeking earlobes, chins, noses, then back in mouths again.

You can read the first chapters from book 1 and 2 in this romance novel series: A Cloud of Hawthorne here, and from Where Daffodils Grow Wild here.

Love and gratitude,

When In Mexico…

Posted on: November 25th, 2014 by Madison Lake No Comments


I’m not sure what it is about travel and drinking – if you’re a drinker that is.  Whether on vacation or not, we (who drink) somehow feel that it’s 5 o’clock somewhere or, if in Mexico, it’s noon somewhere.

Between Pacifico and Dos Equis midday and Tequila in its many forms and functions later in the evening, it’s a wonder I can get any work done.  But I do.

As at home, morning and late at night have always been my prime writing times.  So I wake early, have my coffee, then Pippa and I walk to the beach for a stroll along the white sandy shoreline before our swim in the Sea of Cortez.  Heaven.  On return I get right to work and write for as long as I’m inspired to do so, usually about an hour at one sitting but with breaks, well into the afternoon.  Then it’s time for another swim and another walk, someone might stop by, and when you least expect it, it’s tequila time.

It’s early to bed around here since I’m up with the sun.  If I still have enough steam in me, I’ll finish my day with another bit of prose – reading or writing – and if I’m being sensible, a tall glass of water.

It’s a good thing I don’t live here.



Taylor Swift took home the Dick Clark Award of Excellence at the American Music Awards 2014! The legendary Diana Ross presented it to her.

Hola and happy Monday!

I’m enjoying my writer’s retreat here in Baja, and am so excited to share with you that writing my book number #5 is going very well!  It seems that the sun and beach walks are an incredible booster of imagination and creativity.  There are some new unexpected twists and turns and I am loving how the story is evolving!

I am also preparing for holidays – Thanksgiving is coming up, and after that December and all the parties and celebrations are lining up as I am writing these lines!  That’s why I also loved the latest video by Taylor Swift, Blank Space;  a wonderful inspiration to the upcoming holidays with unicorns, stunning gowns, glamour, luxurious mansions, a handsome date, and more…

Love and a fabulous week!

girl-who-played-with-fireIf you were a reader of Stieg Larsson’s Millennium trilogy and are excitedly waiting the second movie, The Girl Who Played With Fire, you know that Sweden has its problems with underground prostitution, and its issues with immigration.  Something that many regard as a fixture in every human society, prostitution even gets called ‘the world’s oldest profession’.

To this end, Sweden has decided to make a stand.  In Stockholm, the number of women in street prostitution has been reduced by about two thirds, and the number of johns has been reduced by 80%.  In other Swedish cities, they are gone.

In 1999, when they passed their groundbreaking law, the Parliament was 50% female.  Being at the forefront of women’s rights in Sweden since the mid 60’s they decided to adopt the ‘Nordic model’: since prostitution is nothing but age-old male violence against women and children – by making the buying of sex illegal but selling it legal, they go after the johns while decriminalizing the workers themselves.

imagesThis model claims that the guilt or moral weight of the crime would shift onto the shoulders of the real criminals, where it belongs.  Feminist groups endorsed it as it benefited the rights and role of women in that sad state.  The number of victim-sex-workers would drop and the public opinion would shift.  Although slow to show any signs of progress, it has shown the world what they had predicted.  It has been heralded as progressive, with other nations saying ‘why didn’t we think of this?’

While these laws have attracted international ‘it’s too good to be true’ attention, the problem is that it likely is.

The number of women on the street in Sweden has decreased since the Sex Purchase Act (Sexköpslagen) was introduced, but there is no reason to believe that other forms of prostitution, hidden from view, are not still going on.  Since 2000, mobile phones and the internet have largely taken over the role that face-to-face contact used to have – meaning a decline in contacts with women selling sex in the traditional way on the streets of Sweden cannot tell the whole story.  The Swedish police add that there has been an increase in Thai massage parlors, commonly known to be brothels — from 90 in 2009 to 250 in 2011.  It just makes sense to say that if you drive the problem underground, it makes the price go up and when that happens, trafficking becomes even more lucrative than before.