Wednesday, May 28, 2014


Short Bio: I create all types of art, traditional fine art, digital art and photography. .. and these styles change rapidly.  It might be a bit "hectic" and seemingly chaotic for my followers on my blogs, FB, Twitter and Google+ and friends on various art sites but that's me. Spontaneous, following my feelings , my muse.  I have lived in many different countries, on different continents, speak several languages, have enjoyed living in various cultures – so I see myself as a kind of meltingpot for all the different flavours  I have been exposed to! I have integrated them in to my Self, all this has joined and has formed me – all this IS me.

I am self-taught. As a child I spent hours drawing and painting.. then lost my artsy connection for many years.. and during my long reconvalesence after a serious car accident, I re-discovered art - or it me. Starting with "traditional" art.. moving on to digital art.. and also re-connecting with photography.


You have asked me how I create my art. Actually... I don't know. Or should I say.. i go with the flow. Sometimes I work on several pieces of art more or less at the same time. In any case what is important is to follow my feelings. The moment my mind starts trying to take over by "guiding" me, that's it. You can bet on it that I will botch it..

The piece I have chosen for this blog is "Stormrider" .. a Digital Art creation, one that could be called a photo-manipulation, which is not quite correct though, as I did not work with a photo. So let's call it.. image-manip(ulation). For this kind of digital art it is important to have stock - photos, textures, brushes... all this is available on the net.. some for free.. some you pay for. I make a point though of using mostly my own stock.. I make my own textures, brushes, backgrounds.. and use my photos that are too good to be thrown out.. but not good enough to be uploaded into one of my photo art galleries.

However, Stormrider was  a bit different. The Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam - -  has opened its internet gates to artists.. they allow you to use their art to create new art. A fascinating project and a great oportunity. I have visited their site several times already and have downloaded images for further use. One of them is "A Ship on the High Seas Caught by a Squall" known as "The Gust" by Willem van de Velde (II) c. 1680 - .

Now I am not really into "marine" images but I saw this and liked it.. and not being "into" something art-wise offers a nice challenge. So i downloaded it, and opened up the image in my graphic program.

And then the muse took over.. i made a cut-out from the ship.. so that it would be more prominent, flipped it, so that it was travelling from left to right.. and then started using my graphic program.. changing the background, adding a different colour, making it more into a ghostly ship - The Flying Dutchman comes to mind. But the title changed when i started hearing "Riders on the Storm" by the Doors in the back of my mind. See, another go with the flow thing. Finding titles can be real tough... and music can be very helpful.

Well basically, that's it.

I do not have an image in mind when I start on something new - that goes for all my art. I just start and see where I am being taken. The whole process is "trying out" ... what filter to use, what hue, what texture - it is experimenting and playing to a certain extent. The most difficult part for me is to know, when to stop. Often there is a feeling of insecurity.. is it done, should i tweak a bit more, add something, change something.. or is it good as it is? If that happens, I turn to something else.. minimize the graphic program ... take my dog for a walk, read for a while.. anything to let go of the image.. Getting too involved in the image can cause this kind of blindness.. insecurity.. When I come back to the pc .. and open it again, my mind is clear and there is that inner voice that can say yes.. it's done.. or.. no, continue.

The last act is to sign the image.. once that is done.. that's it. No more changes.. only size adjustments to upload to my various galleries.

Stormrider is available as prints in my Fine Art America gallery ... but also in my Society6 store on tote-bags and mugs etc.

If you want to stay up-to-date with my art... I suggest following my blog on WordPress .. or my Twitter @mimuluxArt or FB accounts - or my homepage at and/or subscribe to my newsletter.

Sunday, December 15, 2013


TerraNova storms the world from the Emerald City (Seattle U.S.A.) A love for performing live, and a crushing guitar-driven engine featuring Dawn Lindsey & Tori Farrow - vocals, Doug Samn - lead guitar, David Salwitz – Bass and Rico Ybarra on drums leaves all but a few stone-deaf or dead fans begging for another hit.

 I caught up with Dawn Lindsey near a back-door alley after a concert. The lovely crooner refused to talk to me at first ... until I showed her the ten pounds of C-4 plastic explosive taped under my "dripping" trench-coat. (It pays to be aggressive!)

Then it was like … sure I’d love to.



*You have two female vocalists in your band. Does this ever cause cat fights within the group or with doggedly persistent fans? 
Only at rehearsal when Dawn gets bossy - then Tori wants to kick her ass.  


*Your group hails from the Emerald City (Seattle) home of Rock Gods like Hendrix etc. Who? What? are the major influences you try to avoid? 
Mackelmore & Hole and being/sounding too commercial, we want to express ourselves thru the music and be authentic. 


*Say the hotel you stayed in after a performance has just burnt (or been torn) to the ground. What do you tell the cops /investigators when they arrive? 
Rico got tired of playing the rods instead of sticks and lost his mind. He's feeling much better now though.  


*Your band has been kidnapped by satanic worshipers from Brooklyn or some other doorway to hell and they demand a member of your band as a sacrifice … who will it be? 
Dawn because she needs new material similar to UFO but closer to earth. 


*Where was the most outrageous place you’ve ever played? … and when are you going back? 
The Rock N Roll Marathon 2012 - we were on the back of flatbed truck about 50 feet in the air on Seattle's viaduct. Windy rainy and dangerous!  


*No rock band I’ve ever known is ruled by committee. Who decides whether a member of your group lives or dies professionally speaking (No, not Mafia!) 
Dawn & Doug hold the veto power in TerraNova since they founded the band. But other than that, their careers are their own!! 


*Describe your best three minutes (excluding sex) … unless you provide a tape. 
The first 3 minutes of live radio doing an acoustic set ... was very cool!  


*Are any of your group vampires … can you prove it? 
Yes, Tori is! We have a picture of her trying to eat Dawn's face.  


Thursday, October 3, 2013



Julia Hughes is the creator of “The Celtic Cousins’ Adventures”.  Book two “A Ripple in Time” has recently been re-edited and will be available to download from October 10. Or you can win your own special paperback edition simply by leaving a comment, or for more details visit Julia’s site:

How old were you when you wrote your first story? What was it about?

My first story was written when I around nine. Title: “The Sensational Six” It was about six cousins who find a mysterious cave while on holiday, and was a complete rip-off of Enid Blyton’s “Famous Five” adventures.

A Ripple in Time deals with family ~ Carrie’s grandmother etc. How much has your own family influenced your writing?

The main theme of “A Ripple in Time” derives from something my own gran used to say: “Everything happens for a reason”. Bad things happen to good people, you have to deal with it, and hope some positive comes from a negative. When I’m casting around for characters’ details, I tend to use characteristics from my own family. I’ve got a wide range to choose from!

What’s the most unusual thing you’ve ever done researching a book?

In “A Raucous Time”, the Celtic Cousins “borrow” a light airplane. I badgered our local aerodrome with questions, and received some stony silences in response. A son who shall remain nameless banned me from picking him up from Air Cadets. But I did blag a couple of rides in motored gliders!

You’re a perfectionist - always revising and rewriting. Describe your writing process from concept to publication.

As you know, it all begins with one idea, and a few little words: “What if…or if only.” The IDEA is quickly followed by “What would happen next?” I started out on “A Ripple in Time” by imagining how brilliant it would be if only we could go back in time and warn our grandparents of impending disasters. Maybe because I want to do this so much, I then developed a storyline which demonstrated that tampering with the past can lead to an even greater disaster for future generations.

What advice do you have for beginning authors?

Read, read, read. Write, write, write.  What works for me is sketching out first drafts in the first person. I find it helps me get inside a character’s skin. Find a good critique partner, someone sympathetic to your writing, and learn how to take what suits your story from their advice. 

If you could die and be reincarnated as any fictional character what book would you live in?
What an amazing idea! The child in me shouts out Lucy Pevensie, known as Queen Lucy the Valiant in the Chronicles of Narnia, or maybe her sister, Susan, who gets it on with Prince Caspian – at least according to the film version!
Describe your worst day ever … then your best.

If I were to go into detail, I’d totally bore the pants off your readers. Really. Plus they’d think I was making up stories. Briefly: We were on a cycling holiday in Europe. My friend got us lost. We ended up in a small French town nestled at the foot of a mountain range. That’s when I bumped into …no – I’m going to skip that part. Anyhow, we started out of town, and this road went around a mountain. So far, so pretty – think of the scenery in “The Sound of Music”. The road continued, now climbing halfway up the next mountain. We’re leaving civilization behind. The next mountain, the road went over. It was a bright sunny warm day, and there was snow at the top of this mountain. A pickup truck swept by, the first vehicle to pass us (every sane driver used the convenient tunnel that ran through the mountains). The driver stopped to talk to my friend, who was about two hundred yards ahead of me.  Wheezing and pushing my bike, heavy with camping gear, I rushed up to them just as the pickup truck drove off. “What did he want?” I puffed. “Oh, he asked if we wanted a lift. I told him we were okay.” My friend said casually. As he spoke, the sun dropped behind the horizon and the air froze. I don’t think I’ve ever been so cross with anyone in my life. Especially as my friend thought it was hysterically funny and kept singing “Come down from the mountain, Julia dear”. I could have chucked him over the side. Although, the pickup driver could have been a mad serial killer in search of cycling tourists, so maybe it was for the best that my friend declined for us to climb inside his nice warm truck and ride in comfort to the next town. I remember the darkness was complete, and there was an eerie crackling sound of glaciers moving, and I was terrified. Too scared to keep on moving yet far too frightened to stop and pitch camp.
After that experience, every day of my life has been the best, although the day Wonderdog Sickem swum across the Atlantic to visit London stands out as a real dazzler!

Thursday, September 12, 2013


Rochelle Jewel Shapiro, author of Miriam the Medium (Simon & Schuster) and Kaylee’s Ghost (Amazon and Nook), and I Dare You to Write (Authorlink) is a psychic who has chronicled her psychic experiences in Newsweek (My Turn), and The New York Times (Lives) which can be read on her website at Shapiro’s poetry has appeared in such publications as the Iowa Review, Moment, Harpur Palate, Inkwell Magazine, and the Los Angeles Review. Besides her psychic practice, she teaches writing at UCLA Extension.    
1.      You have successfully produced novels with major publishers “Miriam the Medium” (Simon & Schuster) and also independently “Kaylee’s Ghost” (Amazon and Nook.) For those authors looking for guidance and direction, could you briefly give the benefits/disadvantages you have found in each form of publishing.


Destiny placed my first novel, Miriam the Medium, with Simon & Schuster. In 1985, before I began writing, a famous psychic, Vincent Ragone, told me, “You will publish a novel about a psychic like yourself with Simon & Schuster.” It took eighteen years and a ton of “coincidences” for it to happen, but the day I signed the contract with Simon & Schuster, I had the unmistakable shiver of fate. With a big publishing house, you have to hand in at least a first draft of a new novel within a year. Although I’d been devoted to writing Miriam the Medium, it took me five years to write. I wanted my books to be “meant to be written” not “forced to be written.” It took me a few years to finish my second novel, Kaylee’s Ghost. Upon reading it, my eminent New York agent, Jack Skovil said, “This is a book everyone will want to read.” Then, before he got to send it out, he died. Another well-known agent was eager to read it, but she held onto it for nine months, which isn’t atypical. It can take as much as a year for an agent to sell a book and then the big publishers can take another year or more to get it on the shelves. I had just turned sixty-five. Girl, I asked myself, what are you waiting for? I got a top professional editor (with publishing houses closing, there’s so many available), a cover artist, a book designer, and published on Amazon and Nook. It was fun making all those choices on my own.

            But I bless Simon & Schuster every day. When I published with them, I was reviewed by The Washington Post, Library Journal, and other major venues. Self-publish and you mostly get peer reviews, and even that is after a lot of outreach. Miriam the Medium was published in the Netherlands as Miriam Het Medium and in the U.K. Thanks to Simon & Schuster and destiny, I have a worldwide fan base and respect as a writer. Self-publish and you would have to pay a translator yourself. When I think of the army of folks at the large publishing houses who make deals with bookstores and Costco and online sources to sell your book and I compare that to techno-ditz me, I am awestruck that I dared do this. You really have to be a computer whiz and a marketing guru to do all that is required or have the money to hire someone who does.

            My conclusion is, if you have a chance to publish with a large house, go for it. Or work your way toward it by posting chapters of your book on Wattpad and using social media to get readers to comment on it. Video yourself or some actor reading exciting scenes from your book and get it on YouTube and other video sites.  Create ripples and wakes at least six months before your self-published book sets sail. Publishers are always peering in chat rooms, on twitter, and high-trafficked blogs. These days, before a major house takes you, you’ll be asked, “What is your platform?” which means how many twitter followers do you have? Facebook friends? Blog responses? What will your answer be?    


2.      Describe what a typical work day (writing) is for you. Do you employ any Rituals? Muses? Superstitions? Special coffee?  A workout?

            As soon as I open my eyes, I scrawl in my dream journal to catch wisps of night. Carl Jung knew that dreams contain precognitive material. Sometimes dreams provide insights into my life. It could be the smallest thing, such as having dreamed a friend was wearing an orange top, then emailing her later to ask, “What color top are you wearing today?” “Orange,” she says and your day is made. Or I get information about my clients or even lines for poems, or plots for stories. Then I do seven laps around my apartment, shower, get dressed, and meditate. Meditation calms the mind, helps you focus, and like dreams, can bring inspiration and answers. I begin writing in a notebook with a marbleized cover as I did in elementary school. I have a greater hand-mind connection if I write longhand and using the kind of notebook that I used to in childhood makes my senses as alive as they were back then. Once I get going that way, I switch to the computer. I write an hour or so before the phone rings with a client asking for a reading. Between doing phone readings, I check into the online course I teach at UCLA Extension, Emotions into Art, and go over my students’ work. Then I do errands, laundry, and all other life demands. Midnight, the witching hour when the world quiets and the phone doesn’t ring is when I really get going, sometimes writing until 2:00 a.m. or later.

            You have to find what works for you. Pulitzer-prize winning, Robert Owen Butler, wrote his first novel on a yellow legal pad as he commuted to and from work. New York Times bestselling novelist, Caroline Leavitt, before she switched to full-time writer, wrote on her lunch hour at her job and on weekends. William Carlos Williams, a practicing physician, sometimes wrote lines of poetry on a prescription pad. If it’s meant to be, you’ll find your way.


3.      Paranormal ability runs deep in the family of Miriam Kaminsky.  As a real-life psychic, how much of your writing comes from your own life experience? Do you also have a history of cognitive ancestors?


            Because both Miriam the Medium and Kaylee’s Ghost are written by a psychic, the reader can see how psychic visions arise in the mind. And since the grandmother mentors Miriam, besides diving into poignant and rollicking family dramas, the reader, too, learns to develop his own ESP.   

            I inherited my psychic gift from my Russian grandmother. When she lived in her small village in Berdichev, people came from all around for her predictions and her potions. She offered up their futures along with mustard plasters and senna tea. She could massage a baby’s head until it was well-formed instead of lopsided and repaired hernias by pushing them back in place and taping them down. By looking into a person’s eyes or the whorls on their fingertips, she could tell if they were pregnant, if their hearts were healthy, if they suffered from indigestion or even piles. She looked just like the Russian grandma in both of my books, but my own grandmother was quiet from being traumatized. In my novels, I imbued her with the feisty personality that she might have had if she hadn’t lost five children in a pogrom when Cossacks on horseback galloped into her village, swinging their sabers and if she hadn’t suffered starvation when she and her five remaining children had to hide in the woods and feed on berries while the Cossacks’ dogs barked and plumes of smoke rose from her burning village. I believe I see her right now, sitting at my kitchen table, drinking tea from a glass, a sugar cube held between her teeth, the steam from the cup rising, fogging her small silver-framed glasses.



4.      What is the most personally satisfying thing you have ever written, and why?


            I had a friend from El Salvador who could barely speak English and had gone through many hardships in her country. Although she is a decade younger than I am, her calmness and faith reminded me of my grandmother. We became close. I enjoyed practicing my Spanish with her. Then she had a baby boy who was so desperately ill that he wasn’t expected to survive. The ammonia was too high in his bloodstream. Because it was such a rare condition, the drug to control it cost $4,000 a month and wasn’t covered by Medicaid. He wasn’t expected to live to her first birthday. On her behalf, I wrote an impassioned letter to then President Clinton. It described my friend, the perils she went through in her country, the dream she had always had to come here. I described her son, his glossy black hair and shining dark eyes, his swollen face, the smile he managed to give people despite the pain he was in. Within a couple of months, my friend received a reply signed by President Clinton, granting Medicaid coverage for her son’s drug. Her son is nineteen now and whenever I even think of him, I remember the letter I wrote, and I understand the power of a writer, what a gift it truly can be.   


5.      Do you write from an outline or just jump-in typing and see what happens?

            I get a scene in my mind that makes me the sizzle you get from sticking a fork into the hot coils of a plugged-in toaster, and I get that scene down as fast as I can. I am often not sure whether it’s the beginning, middle or end, and sometimes won’t know until I’ve written a few hundred pages. When I’m stuck during a scene, I turn off the lights, light a candle, and visualize my characters in a scene. I might ask one what he has to tell me. At those moments, writing feels like transcription.

            I spend lots of time writing things that will never be in the book, but help me get to know the characters deeply. I might have one character write a letter to another or do scenes from a character’s childhood. This process makes my characters real to me so that they will be real to my readers. Indelible, I hope.

            Once I know the characters, I spread out a long roll of freezer paper and write time lines for each of them so that I can see what one character was doing or where they were at the same time as another character. This leads me to all sorts of connections between them and plot ideas.

            After I have a sense of who everyone is, what their conflicts are, which I write out, then I formulate the all-important (to me at least) what if question.

            For Miriam the Medium it was What if a psychic who could help all her clients had a family who wouldn’t listen to any of her advice?

            For Kaylee’s Ghost it was what if, against her daughter’s wishes, a psychic grandmother mentored her granddaughter to become psychic the way her own grandmother had done, and then the gift backfires, bringing terrible danger to those she loves?

            That “what if” question will help you shape the material into the book you have always longed to write.


6.      You obviously immerse yourself in the things that you love, and it shows in your work. What advice would you give to starting writers in this most competitive vocation?

            I seem to need to have something real to hang my writer’s beanie on. Miriam Kaminsky lives in Great Neck, Long Island as I do. She has a pharmacist husband as I do. She has a Russian grandmother who is psychic as I did. (Or had depending on your sense of afterlife.) But then my imagination is free to leap. New characters come on the scene. Situations that never happened in my life happen. My heroine is so real that readers have begun to call me Miriam and I have stopped correcting them.

But please don’t think that this you must follow the old “write what you know.” Stephen Crane wrote the classic, The Open Boat, without ever going to sea and The Red Badge of Courage without ever having gone to war. No matter how meticulous your research, if the feelings aren’t right, the story will not be worth reading. When Author Maxine Hong asks her students what they feel about what they’ve read or written, she finds that they give analyses instead. She teaches them to work on feeling scene by scene so that the reader can have feelings inside himself. If you have felt intense sibling rivalry, you could write a book about alien brothers who go to war with each other and it will feel as if you came from another planet. If you have felt that a fling with a married man should have made him yours, you could write a credible Fatal Attraction without stalking or trying to murder the cad. Mine your feelings and you’ll come up with gold.   


7.      Did you know what questions I was going to ask before I did? If you say yes, I probably won’t get much sleep tonight! Thank you Rochelle.


            A psychic doesn’t know everything, and psychics who believe they do or try to make others believe they do are in the “pride goeth before the fall on the rump” category. But reading Kaylee’s Ghost or Miriam the Medium, you can see what a challenge it is for a psychic to interpret correctly the images that she is given, which, in this humble psychic’s opinion, come from Universal Intelligence postulated by Carl Jung or sometimes by a person’s Aunt Nelly.