Monday, July 9, 2018


Hey kids!

Tune in your earbuds for all things Beast this week as I take to the radio airwaves to talk about my brand new book — Beast A Tale of Love and Revenge!

Lucky me, I get to visit two of my favorite local radio folk in their natural habitats.

Tomorrow, Tuesday, July 10 — my publication day! — I'll be the guest of my longtime pal and frequent co-conspirator, the inimitable Bruce Bratton on his show, Universal Grapevine, broadcasting from high in the redwoods overlooking the UCSC campus.

Showtime is 7 pm, at KZSC, 88.1 on your FM dial, or listen online.

Bright and early the next morning, Wednesday, July 11, I go live with the effervescent Rosemary Chalmers at KSCO (AM 1080, or online).

My segment starts at 8:40 in the morning, and continues until they drag us off the air for having too much fun!

Please, support local radio and lend an ear!

Sunday, July 8, 2018


And the Beast of the Month for July is (ta-da!) —

My Beast! The true hero of Beast: A Tale of Love and Revenge.

To celebrate the imminent publication of my novel (this Tuesday, July 10!), I am thrilled to offer up the prologue of my story. Just to get you in the mood.




It wasn't all the witch's fault.

    She was just the one he saw as his spine hunched forward, as claws sprang out of the furry paws that had been his elegant hands only moments before, as long tendrils of mane erupted out over his eyes.

    "What have you done to me, Witch?" he bellowed, although it was difficult to understand him with the lengthening of his snout.

    "I have done nothing," she told him, with a coolness I had to admire, as if he weren't crouching before her with animal horns and shaggy pointed ears sprouting from his head and long rows of raptor feathers cascading down his back. "This is the truth of who you are inside."

    "Change me back!" he thundered.

    "I cannot," she told him. "That power lies with you, not me."

    Well, that wasn't the whole truth. I had something to do with it, although even I didn't know it at the time. So I was surprised when the witch suddenly turned to me in her awful majesty. "And you, girl. What do you want?"

All I wanted then was my revenge, to see him groveling on all fours, his handsome face and manly form reduced to beastliness. Things might have been very different had I left it at that, run off with the other servants on that terrifying night, taken up a new life in some other place. But as soon as I had what I most wished for, I found I craved more.

    "I want to see him suffer," I breathed. I was drunk on my own hatred, more powerful than anything I had ever felt before.

    "As you wish," she said, and that was the end of it. And the beginning.

    I didn't know then the journey I was on, could never have imagined any power that burned brighter than hate.

    I had so much to learn from the beast.

    My Beast.

    Until she came.

Tuesday, July 3, 2018


Mystic Portal by James Aschbacher. What lies beyond?
There was an old movie with Sandra Bullock as a young wife whose husband is killed suddenly in a car accident.  She suffers the shock of loss and despair, endures the funeral in a trance, and finally begins to face the awful reality of a new life alone.

Then, one morning, she wakes up to hear her husband in the shower, warbling away as if nothing has happened.

I don't think I'm in that movie.

Brendan Fraser stars in another movie as an underground cartoonist in a coma who goes on a series of wild adventures with the nutty characters teeming inside his brain in a desperate effort to manifest some kind of visible brain activity before his grieving wife can be talked into pulling the plug. Finally, at the last possible second, he succeeds.

I'm not in that movie either.

(Although it's delightful to think of my Art Boy in some unknowable limbo, cavorting with the creatures of his imagination — pink bunnies, hula kitties, and all!)

I'm not expecting James to start talking to me through Whoopi Goldberg, or pouring me nips of bubbly like George and Marian Kirby in the old Topper TV series. (Although that would be just like him!)

And I can't quite imagine him perched broodingly on a rooftop somewhere, gazing down at the bustle of human activity below, like Bruno Ganz in Wings of Desire.

James never brooded!

So what do I imagine instead?

I don't know.

No one knows what lies beyond the mystic portal after you leave this life. Way smarter minds than mine have grappled with this question, and they don't know any more about it than I do.

Friends and family of a Christian nature tell me that God called James early because He needed some laughter around the place. But it's difficult for me to think of my Art Boy draped in a sheet, playing a harp, joining the Heavenly Host.

Besides, I wasn't done with James yet. Couldn't God have waited His turn?

Some Eastern cultures believe that soul mates journey endlessly through time, living out entire new lifetimes — from infancy to old age, over and over again — hoping to meet up with each other again. But reincarnation seems like an awfully long and arduous process to me.

(I mean, who wants to keep going through the eighth grade?)

I recently caught up with Coco, in which a living child crosses the bridge into the land of the dead to find a non-stop party going on — feasts, flowers, mariachi bands, the works!

But there's an expiration date for the dearly departed. If the time ever comes that no one alive remembers them, the party's over: they vanish forever. The child has to get back to the land of the living in time to honor his ancestor on the Dia de los Muertos altar so he won't be forgotten.

That's is my idea of an afterlife — music, food and fun! A place where the beloved departed are kept eternally alive by the memories of everyone who loved them.

Monday, July 2, 2018


Fashion-wise, designer Vivienne Westwood is the real deal. The intriguing story of her life and work is told in the frisky documentary Westwood: Punk, Icon, Activist, directed by former model-turned-filmmaker Lorna Tucker.

The movie not only celebrates Westwood's revolutionary clothes, but her rebel spirit as well — along with her fascinating career.

While she started out making confrontational stage clothes for the Sex Pistols, Westwood nurtured her craft and her fashion identity over the next four-plus decades, going on to win Britain's prestigious Designer of the Year award for two years in a row.

Westwood: then
Westwood may not have invented punk (as one interviewee claims), but she certainly dressed it.

A working-class English girl who couldn't afford to go to art school, she ditched an early marriage that was too confining, and, with two young sons to support, starting selling hand-made clothing out of the back of a record shop on King's Road in London.

Her partner (business and otherwise) in this venture was provocateur Malcolm McLaren, who would go on to manage the New York Dolls and the Sex Pistols.

Westwood: now
They believed in outrageous clothing and behavior, "confronting society" to initiate social change. (In one ironic clip, we see a Westwood stage outfit from this era, a torn and grimy T-shirt with a graphic political message, handled with great delicacy by a curator in white gloves from the Victoria and Albert Museum.)

As Westwood says, "Everything I design has to have a story."

When Westwood saw her impudent designs and spiky haircuts being copied on the runways in Milan and New York, she realized that punk was over as a cultural moment.

She decided that if anyone was going to succeed with her distinctive clothing style it was going to be herself, and entered the fashion business on her own terms.

Today, her smart mix of fabrics, textures and patterns, and a new androgynous line to be worn by any and all genders, are right on point with the times. Westwood is proof that fashion and political audacity have no age limit.
(Read more in this week's Good Times)

Sunday, June 24, 2018


 At long last, Beast is on the way!

The official publication day is looming — July 10 — after which you can expect to find Beast: A Tale of Love and Revenge arriving in your mailbox, on a bookstore shelf near you, or a reading device of your choice.

And then, one week later — July 17 — please join me at my reading/book-signing event for Beast at our own, beloved Bookshop Santa Cruz! Help me get Beast properly launched into the world.

I'll be sharing stories of how and why Beast came into being, the rocky road to publication, the peculiarities of a writer's life, and why my Beast is most emphatically NOT the Disney version!

Showtime is 7 pm, Tuesday, July 17.

Hope to see you there!

Saturday, June 23, 2018


Behold, friends and readers!

My first hard-cover copy of Beast arrived this week!

It's photographed in situ on my desk, so you can see how the gold foil lettering and scarlet rose design catch the light. Pretty cool, huh?

I am utterly stoked, of course, to finally hold his beautiful production in my hand!

Yet it's a bittersweet moment for me, that James isn't here to share the excitement.

My Art Boy knew better than anyone everything I went through in the two-year editing process to get to this point. We went through it, together.

He would be so delighted that all my hard work — and his unflagging patience and encouragement — had finally paid off.

Thursday, June 14, 2018


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


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


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


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!