Thursday, June 14, 2018

CELEBRATING JAMES

Everybody asks me if there will be some sort of public event in honor of James Aschbacher.

In a word: yes!

A dedicated team of Wonder Women, all very close to James and me, are planning this event with their usual wit, poise, good humor, and passion. And I am utterly thrilled they have invited me to be part of the project!

Fear not; event planners extraordinaire Ann Griswold Ostermann, Linda Bixby, Jana Marcus, and Donna Mekis are on the job. Ladies, you rock!

Celebrating James will take place on Saturday, August 25, at the Rio. (We're expecting a crowd!)

James' longtime friend and former business partner, Joe Ferrara will sing. Speakers will speak (including any audience members who wish to chime in), and a slide show of candid photographs from my vast archive will be on a loop upstage.

And of course there will be bubbly! Doors open at 6, and festivities begin at 6:30.

How can you (yes, you!) get involved? The instigators have set up a GoFundMe page to underwrite this event, and keep it FREE to the public!

We've almost reached our goal already, but believe me, it warms the very cockles of my heart to view all the notes of support and encouragement all of you in the community are leaving on the page in honor of my Art Boy!

He would be so touched! And so am I. Big time!

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

AUDIBLE BEAST


This just in: Beast: A Tale of Love and Revenge has a new cover!

No, I don't mean the fabulous Candlewick cover for the print edition. Nobody is monkeying around with that one!

This is the new cover for the audiobook version — available for pre-order from Audible, STARTING TODAY!

Sorry, I wasn't able to grab a bigger image of it, but you get the idea. I admit, I'm surprised at the rose under the bell jar. There is no such device in my book as the petals falling off the enchanted rose like the sands of time in an hourglass; that's a Disney invention.

But I think the brooding mood of this image is just right!

What do you think?

Monday, June 11, 2018

BEAST TRANSFORMED


One more month until Beast: A Tale of Love and Revenge is unleashed on the world!

In the meantime, let's celebrate with one more — well, actually two more — Beasts of the Month.

These two vintage images may help to illustrate why my book is different from more traditional versions of Beauty and the Beast.

Take a look at these two views of the transformation scene.

This is what I call the moment that all thinking women dread — noble, soulful Beast transformed back into a (yawn) handsome  Prince!

The first is an Art Nouveau postcard from 1906, illustrated by Sophia May Bowley.

I do like the little beast-heads decorating his tunic and sleeve.

But isn't it a little weird that he's shrugged off his Beast persona like a cheap suit?

Over here, we have an illustration by Peter Newell from the book Favorite Fairy Tales, published in 1907.

Now, this is more like my reaction would be if I suddenly saw that the extraordinary Beast I'd fallen in love with had turned into an ordinary prince!

Wait, what? Where's my Beast?

Beast did all the work of wooing Beauty. Why should the Prince get the girl?

Beast (and his Lucie) get a much more satisfying ending in my book!


(Beast: A Tale of Love and Revenge lopes onto bookshelves and devices everywhere on July 10!)

Sunday, June 10, 2018

NOURISHING





Had a lovely time last Sunday at Pajaro Valley Arts Gallery.




It was the reception for the annual membership show, "What Nourishes Us," in which member artists pay tribute to the things that inspire and/or nurture their work.








For the last two-and-a-half years, James Aschbacher sat on the PVA board and managed the in-house Gallery Store.




So now, for the run of the membership show, (through July 15), they've turned the Gallery Store into a tribute room to my Art Boy!





The entire store space is full of art loaned to the gallery from the private collections of PVA members.



It's the biggest collection of his work you'll probably ever see, outside of my house!




Talk about nourishing! I was basking in the glow of his upbeat energy just being in the room!




(Okay, maybe it was the bubbly they plied me with . . . )

Art Boy-painted chair for a Shakespeare SC auction




And while you're there, of course, don't forget to stroll around the rest of the show to see what inspires more than 70 local artists.





Cheers to James!









Big thanks to PVA!





Wednesday, June 6, 2018

FOUR STARS!


Received this 4-star review from the online book blog, Rajiv's Reviews, over the weekend!

He says, in part:

There are lots of twists and turns, and I found myself glued to the book. I also loved the climax of the book and was satisfied with how the characters were treated.

Lisa Jensen has written this story in a beautiful and majestic manner. Her words are like fine wine and compliment to the setting and timelines of the story.


Thanks so much, Rajiv!

Saturday, June 2, 2018

UNCOUPLING

Midnight In the Garden. But I think of it as Letting Go




On her melancholy Blue album, in a song about the aftermath of a painful break-up, Joni Mitchell sings, "The bed's too big/The frying pan's too wide."

Here's what I would add to that checklist:

It takes twice as long in the morning to make half the breakfast. There is less to prepare (yogurt, fruit, toast, tea for one), but also less time, since I have to do all James' morning chores as well — feed the kitty, bring in the paper, open the shades, turn on the tea kettle, haul the bucket out of the shower to water the plants outside.

When I get out of the shower, I have to remind myself to take the plug back out of the drain and hang the wet bath mat back on its rack; nobody is coming in after me to use them.

A single crossword puzzle might last me weeks! Some couples might come to blows if one found the other trying to horn in on his or her puzzle, but crossword puzzles are one other thing that James and I always did together. Each of us had different bits of arcane information to contribute — although my main job was to spellcheck his answers!

Family and Friends   
We used to work on crosswords at meal times, as a way to eat more slowly, and also savor a few laughs before heading into the business of the day — or, later in the evening, confronting the (dreaded) news hour. Little victories, like finally figuring out a particularly knotty clue, or getting irate over a particulaly "specious" answer, aren't as much fun on my own.

Until I started walking around our life in his shoes, I had no idea how time- consuming his half of our couplehood could be. I'm getting a whole new appreciation for the hard work he did evey day just to keep our life going — and for the unfailing good cheer with which he approached every task.

Now, without him, I have to line up movie dates, yoga buddies, people who do yard work and home repair, as well as indulgent friends willing to take me on errands. It takes a village of wonderful friends and neighbors to replace one Art Boy!

And then there's housecleaning. Either one of us might have occasionally picked up the vacuum, or a broom, or a dustrag in random moments, but neither one of us was ever obsessed with keeping things spic-and-span. So, a little benign neglect around here will be considered okay — at first. (We're "creatives;" nobody expects spotless.) But I have to monitor the situation, now that I'm on my own. Navigating some charming artistic clutter around the house is one thing — as long as I don't degenerate into Miss Havisham!

James loved every nanosecond of this life we worked so hard to build together. His enthusiasm for life was enormous. And so, now, even though I'm stuck in a kind of half-life without him, I can't let my own enthusiasm for life diminish by half. That wouldn't be fair to James.

According to an old Wiccan proverb I read recently, "They are dead, so we must live."

That's the spirit!


(Paintings by James Aschbacher. But you knew that!)

Sunday, May 27, 2018

PRESENT TENSE

If a designated "thriller" doesn't have E-ticket action, it had better come up with some other way to keep its audience riveted. The dark, edgy drama, Beast, manages this, big time; it has thrills to spare, not from violent action, but from the deft accumulation of detail.

For his impressive debut feature, writer-director Michael Pearce crafts an eerie mood of unspecified menace, in which anything might happen — and anyone might be capable of the most heinous actions. Trying to figure out whodunit — that weary cliché — is a puzzle that keeps us on the edge of our seats in Pearce's capable hands.

The tale is set in a contemporary village community on the isle of Jersey, off the southern coast of England. The town is on edge over a series of murders of young women. The serial-killer-on-the-loose motif is standard for the genre, but Pearce uses it as a launching pad to examine the tensions (emotional, psychological, cultural) already at work beneath the placid surface of this middle-class community.

At the heart of the story (and Pearce's nesting-doll design of inner tensions wrapped around each other) is young, twenty-something Moll, skillfully played with both presence and vulnerability by Irish singer and actress Jessie Buckley. She is ably partnered by Johnny Flynn — unsettling, and dynamic — as Pascal Renouf, a reclusive young handyman living in a stone cottage inherited from his parents far out on the edge of town.


Not every question is neatly wrapped up, but the stylish look of the movie, its dark heart, and the fascinating complexity of leads Buckley and Flynn, make for a highly provocative thriller.

(Read more in next week's Good Times)

Saturday, May 26, 2018

MORE ART BOY LOVE

Just found this tribute from the newsletter for Pajaro Valley Arts (PVA), where James Aschbacher, (aka Art Boy) served as a board member for the last two and a half years.

(He also applied his business skills and artistic eye to running the Gallery Store at their Watsonville gallery!)


It is with heavy hearts that we say goodbye to our dear friend James, who left this earth with a suddenness that created a huge hole in our community.

Board President Adrienne Momi wrote "James was a very important part of our PVA family, not only a Board member, but the guy who didn't hesitate to roll up his sleeves to get the rocks shoveled into the hole in the garden and to put the railing up so we complied with the (ADA) rules.

"He was a 'doer.' James' commitment to PVA included the annual Membership drive - and although he didn't want to take credit, his efforts produced more than 15% of our annual budget." 

James managed our gallery store, and filled in with whatever tasks at hand needed to be done. He worked with humor and directed focus. Judy Stabile, Board Member wrote. "Saying goodbye is so difficult, especially to someone so vibrant and joyful. James, you made PVA a better place to create, and a happier place to be."


The tribute concludes: "During our members' show, What Nourishes Us, you will find the Gallery Store filled with James' work from our private collections, as a dedication to his life, so well lived."

Hear, hear!

Thanks, PVA!

Thursday, May 17, 2018

STARRED REVIEW!

Great news, faithful readers! 

The folks at Publishers Weekly just awarded a STARRED review to Beast: A Tale of Love and Revenge!

The review says, in part;

In this compelling reimagining of “Beauty and the Beast,” Jensen integrates a new plot thread in the form of a third protagonist into the familiar fairy tale. Jensen includes all of the tale’s most significant elements, while still adding new twists and depths. Haunting language and lush descriptions (“the petals are long-dead; they have lost their bright color and velvety texture and curled into crisp, dry cinders...”) engage the senses, making this a memorable, worthy addition to the canon of “Beauty and the Beast” retellings.

This is my first ever starred review from PW, and I couldn't be more thrilled!

Beast unleashes (at last!) on July 10! Meanwhile, read the full review.

Thanks, PW!


Wednesday, May 16, 2018

CITIZEN RUTH

Superhero Ginsburg fights for justice for all in smart doc RBG

Forget The Avengers Infinity War. Here's a movie that's really worth cheering about, entering the marketplace with the same quiet, unassuming, yet  determined demeanor as its subject — legendary Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

As cunning as Loki, as grounded as Black Panther, she wields her opinion with the impact and precision of Thor's hammer, and achieves actual change, fighting for gender equality under the law as she has for five decades of groundbreaking decisions.

And nary a special effect in sight — unless you count her incredible stamina to keep fighting the good fight at age 84.

According to Gloria Steinem, Ginsburg is "the closest thing to a superhero I know." An opinion shared by many in this smart, sly, and heartfelt documentary, RBG, by directors Julie Cohen and Betsy West.

The title references the recent biographical book, Notorious RBG (inspired by the moniker of the late rapper Notorious B.I.G), a nod to the younger generations of fans who have discovered RBG on social media and weren't even alive when she was fighting for things like equal pay and equal social security benefits in the workplace.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg: pop culture heroine

"Whenever she writes a dissent," notes one of the younger observers in the film, "the Internet explodes!" It's sad that in these troubled political times, the actions that have recently made RBG such an unexpected social media icon are the clear and vigorous dissenting opinions she's written in opposition to recent Supreme Court rulings.

The Court has been shifting gradually to the right since RBG (nominated by Bill Clinton) was confirmed in 1993. In the current so-called administration, RBG is one of the few voices of sanity left on the bench.

But what a lot of people don't know about RBG (particularly her younger fans) is the hard work and determination with which she chose a legal career, and how the obstacles she faced shaped her views on society and the law. This is the story told most persuasively by filmmakers Cohen and West.
(Read more in this week's Good Times)