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Archive for January 2011

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Mature Heroines in Romance Literature


During my travels in promoting The House on Black Lake I have spoken to many women frustrated that most romance novel authors cut off heroine age at around 36, an age when most women have only begun to fully mature into their innate beauty and strength. Yet a good number of these authors are well into their 40s, 50s, 60s, 70s, and even older.

When I set out to write The House on Black Lake I could not imagine featuring a woman who was not fully mature in my book. All of the women featured in my novel are over forty, and there is an extremely seductive character well into her sixties. In the course of the trilogy that constitutes the entirety of the story of heroine, Alexandra Brighton’s journey, she and the women in her sphere will age with incredible beauty, dignity, strength, and romantic passion.

I do not promote a social structure that demeans women in their prime because they pursue what nature deems their best course, including mating with a young, healthy male. I say no, and so does my heroine.  Alexandra is desired by all of the conflicted males in the tale, and torn between the seductiveness of the younger male and the depth of her intellectual , sexual, and emotional equal, Ramey Sandeley. The elder patriarchal elite, represented by Roger Sandeley, find her both a treasure and threat, as she carries the ultimate power.

 We learn in the prelude to Alexandra’s story that she was a beautiful young woman taught to accept the role society had laid out for her. When she suffers a disfiguring affliction after child birth, she makes a vow at St. Andre’s Shrine, “Truth for Beauty” – a promise to follow her divine destiny in return of an unblemished face. As she attempts to follow her chosen path she finds herself demeaned and diminished by society. And when she leaves her powerful, wealthy, controlling husband, the court strips her of her children and financial security. Ultimately, she is left broke and alone. The journey into the underground of Black Lake is her only hope of salvation.

 The greatest fear of most mature men is abandonment and failure, and that is why mature women are stripped of their power when they choose to compete with, leave an older man, or cast eyes at younger men.  What is more inconsionable is that women strip themselves of their own and other women’s power by buying into stereotypes and myths, competing with other women, and accepting that beauty and money alone have value. And yet, it is the patriarchal elite who have the most to lose, for they squelch their only hope of a soulmate to nurture them at home and unite to govern the world with humanity and grace.

The House on Black Lake is a woman’s journey through the underground of society, subsequent transformation, and empowerment. The men and women who do not live by society’s rules, the gypsies, witches, and mystics, are Alexandra’s tutors in redefining what constitutes power and beauty.

Strange female creatures are being created in operating rooms all over the world as women accept a twisted notion of what allures, while the guile and determination that defines charm is further buried. Many mature women give up altogether  and live through their daughters. The opposite should be the norm, as young girls must learn from the vibrant females of our world, and not the opposite. They shall earn their place when they have passed through the trials of financial struggle, work, motherhood, sorrow, loss, and as well as travel, adventure, and passionate love.

 I yearn for the guidance of the goddesses of the past, and strive to become one worthy of following. I say it’s time for revolution, a revolution of mature heroines storming into modern society, a new breed to lead the younger generations.

Writers need to know what their followers desires. Contact them on their websites if you seek to learn more about powerful females and their adventures.

Scene from trailer/novel where sexy young artist Andre Labat (Tosh Yanez) seduces heroine, Alexandra Brighton, (Anastasia Blackwell)  a mother of two and well into 40's. He is one of three successful and powerful men who vie for her attention.

Another character, Luna Sandeley, is in her 60's with a wealthy husband, a younger lover, and the adoration of many others


Anastasia Blackwell Reads Chapter Sixteen From "The House On Black Lake"

Oral interpretation of chapters from "The House on Black Lake" are provided in a series of segments on blocktalkradio. Chapter sixteen may be accessed on link. Also, all previous chapters are archived on site. The entire book will eventually be archived, as well as discussions about themes and the road to publication and creation of cinematic trailer and music videos.


Gothic and Fantasy Artists

Ann Stokes is one of the premiere artists of gothic and fantasy. Her portfolio and pictures of tattoos may be found at

In the fantasy realm I also love Michael Parkes and Boris Vallego . They have both inspired me with their drawings of powerful female figures. Toward the end of writing "The House on Black Lake" I began to move into elements of fantasy.  I find myself drawn to both  gothic symbols and fantasy as they expand how we view nature and humanity, and most importantly protray women, and their interaction with men and wild mammals in a manner that is supremely sensual, exotic and powerful.


A Journey Into Montreal Underground

Many readers of "The House on Black Lake" have expressed interest in taking a trip to Montreal and surrounding areas described in the novel. A good site to check out is Once you have arrived in the French Canadadian city it is possible to follow the blueprint of the book, and then seek out your own, never to be forgotten, adventure!


Trapeze Artists In Rehearsal for Music Video for "The House on Black Lake" at Trapeze Pro in Sonoma

Trapeze artists Tany Hoover and Marek Kaszuba of Trapeze Pro in Sonoma are in rehearsal for a music video based on a scene from the novel. The piece titled "Dangerous Games" will integrate an intoxicating new song and music  by Peter Busboom along with special effects. Actor's  will recreate scene culminating in trapeze act. The rare combination of static and flying trapeze is a sensuous interpretive movement piece that illuminates the dangerous game of love.


Sundance Film Festival - New Frontier Exhibits - 2011

Sundance Film Festival – New Frontier Exhibits- 2011

I attended the opening week-end of the Sundance film festival and found it to be an exhilarating creative experience. More information about the festival may be found at

Highlights of Visit to New Frontier, including being in attendence with Robert Redford onsite:

The New Frontier at the Miners Hospital on Park Avenue in Park City opens new doors of creativity. Artists in the venues explored narrative structure, three-dimensionality of the cinematic image, and innovations in transmedia storytelling.

Pandemic 1.0

Lance Weiler

“A mysterious virus begins to affect the adults in a small rural town, and the youth soon find themselves cut off from civilization, fighting for their lives. How fast is the virus spreading? It is confirmed – the virus has hit Park City. Pandemic unites film, mobile and online technologies, props, social gaming, and data visualization, enabling audiences to step into the shoes of the pandemic protagonists anytime during the day. Mission Control is the only way to learn where you stand in the face of the spreading pandemic.”

We were informed that 20 festival goers were given cell phones and told to transmit photographs and data, props were hidden in town that would diminish spread of pandemic, and twitter data was analyzed, all in the hope of curtailing the epidemic. We did not find a prop and were not handed phone during our stay, but enjoyed the experience and returned unharmed nevertheless.


Lynn Hershman Leeson

“Lynn Hershman Leeson employs transmedia storytelling to create a seminal history of the American Feminist Art Movement. Expanding the scope of her documentary !Women Art Revolution RAW/WAR is a live, user-generated, community-curated video archive that documents the achievements of women artists. RAW/WAR reconceives history as an ongoing project of collaborative authorship where participants enter an interactive environment to upload new material and use Wii powered virtual flashlights to illuminate invisible histories. RAW/WAR is created by Lynn Hershmanm Leeson in collaboration with Alexandra Chowaniec, Brian Chirls, and Gian Pablo Villamil.”

I downloaded my cinematic trailer and music videos to site to be archived in their library.


Daniel Canogar, Spain

By transforming electronic detritus into stunning sculptural installations, Dabnikel Canogar’s work externalizes the hidden structures of media technologies and explores the short lifespan of the hardware that encrusts and defines our modern lifestyles. Spin projects the copied contents of discarded DVDs back onto their surface to reveal the moving images trapped within the discs. Hippocampus 2 is constructed from tangles of electric cable refuse. Light is projected on the sculpture in such a way that it seems to free the energy stored in the electronic waste, awakening in it memories of the past.

Both Multimedia sculptures were both beautiful and fascinating.  On each DVD were remnants of their story. Most chilling was a murderous clown.


Takehisa Mashimo, Akio Kamiksato, and Satoshi Shibata, Japan

“The sublime and elegant work liberates the pixel entirely from its usual proscenium format and reshapes our encounter with the moving image by using steam as a screen and an interactive interface.”

If you plunge your hands into the steam quickly a virtual butterfly will fly away and disappear. If you hold your hand in the steam for a while, butterflies will flock around and play with you.


Bill T. Jones, U.S.A. 3 D Video Installation

Bill T. Jones dances a series of original and haunting choreographic sequences accompanied by his own vocalizations as Open-Ended Group captures and portrays the movement using a customized technique. “After Ghost dancing” expands to in corporate 3-D technology.


Squidsoup, UK

“Pixels become independent creatures that move through time and space. It uses projection to visualize virtual bugs that participants can interact with in a real sandpit. The bugs are aware of their surroundings and respond to the shapes in the world around them. Viewers can pick bugs up, dig holes, and create mounds that the bugs must react to. If the bugs are squashed, they die, but if they live, they evolve to become butterflies.”

I helped a few mate, squashed a few accidently, and helped a few turn into butterflies.


“The project invites participants to create individual drawings that ware woven into a collective, animated music-video tribute to Johnny Cash, set to his song “Ain’t No Grave.”


“All That Is Solid Melts into Air powerfully juxtaposes two documentary videos, which are projected on opposite sides of the room – one depicting a Nigerian guerrilla group battling the colonization of petroleum recourses on their land, and the other showing Chicago stock traders speculating on energy futures. The view, caught between the two videos, negotiates these two scenarios. As the films play, the stakes rise, and the intensity crescendos to an uproar.

This was an absolutely astonishing project. Extremely powerful! It was only shown eight times during festival but is a must see for everyone in the world.


“Our prolonged and increasing exposure to dramatic entertainment shapes our imaginations, our aspirations, and the way we reference our memories and structure the time in our day. How does a television show have such an impact on our lives” In Three’s Company: The Drama, James Franco examines the classic TV show. Breaking out individual elements of narrative character, composition, and set design to reconstitute them and create an immersive experience of the story world through which we may consider how this definitive 1970s sitcom connects and organizes our memories.”

It would be my guess that James was included here due to his celebrity status. I sat in the parlor and watched an old episode of “Three’s Company” projected onto wall. James did voice over to portray all characters. Two guys sitting next to me thought it was quite funny, but I didn’t get it, and was not moved or transformed by experience in the way I was with other installations.


Avish Khebrehzadeh

“Avish Khebrehzadeh’s works integrate painting and video to evoke fairy tales and dreamscapes, which are often inspired by her own dreams and memories. In Theater III and Edgar”, three loosely linked vignettes unfold on a massive painting of a grand theater with a proscenium screen. The film tells the story of three men carrying a pregnant woman past a village into the desert, where they leave her. She then disappears down a hole with the man who has been digging it. In the last act, the drama transgresses many boundaries, including the very screen where it is being presented.

It was very intriguing to see video installed into a painting of a theater. I would have liked video to be more sophisticated. It may be the way of the future with film installed in paintings covering museum walls.


The ambulance/hearse is a vehicle designed for emergency response and ceremonial lament. In this work, the vehicle’s chassis lies astride a fresh piece of asphalt – a corpse on clean sheets. Possessed with satirical humor and dark patriotism, “We like America and America Likes Us (The Corpse) becomes an allegory of American consciousness that embodies a great contradiction: a national character with a gift for survival despite its movement toward implosion.



Blast Theory, UK

“To start your adventure, you arrive on a deserted street corner with your cell phone. Keep your eyes peeled for traps. Other people seem to be in on what’s going on. The phone rings, and your journey through the underbelly of the city begins. A Machine to See With mixes documentary storytelling, stolen thriller clichés, and the films of Jean-Luc Godard to create a 75 minute experience that invites you to play a part, take risks, engage in games, and make the ethical decisions we all, in the end confront.”

I did not choose to engage in this project. However, I was told that the decision you make tell you a lot about yourself. And in the end you will be required to commit a crime – will you follow your instructions? Well, that depends on your integrity, bravery and ability to decipher right or wrong within the context of a unique circumstance.

I did not see the following three screenings, but heard positive reviews.


Mkiwa Matreyek


Miwa Matreyek


Deke Weaver


Braden King


RAW/WAR - Women Art Revolution


I had the great pleasure of being present at the opening of RAW/WAR on January 20, 2010 at the Sundance Film Festival.  My videos and images have been downloaded to the site and I can be assured that my work is stored in their archives and will not be lost.  Women and their histories must be acknowledged and heard if we are to gain the collective strength we need to prosper as a vibrant and whole society.
About RAW/WAR from their site:

The RAW/WAR project is generated from the idea that history is about access and authorship and that we, as a global digital community, can now all participate in its creation and change the way history itself is constructed. Using new technologies, current and future generations can create their own histories, breaking the cycle of omission and erasure.

RAW/WAR takes the form of an interactive, community-curated archive and an accompanying installation that provide a forum in which users can come together, share their stories and collaboratively contribute to the history of women�s art.

The project emerges from the documentary !Women Art Revolution. While the film provides a personal perspective of feminist activism in a national context, RAW/WAR opens up this dialogue to a global audience, connecting women and their histories worldwide.

An ongoing partnership with Stanford University Libraries (SULAIR) houses the !Women Art Revolution Collection in a publicly accessible online archive for study and research. The collection, acquired in 2008, holds the interview footage and transcripts from the film. Because of the retrievability of this information, there are no outtakes, subverting traditional notions of filmmaking. RAW/WAR is about continuing this ongoing lineage into the future and allowing users to add, and ultimately, remix, their own stories.

RAW/WAR is self-curated. This is achieved by rating and meta-rating and is intricately linked to the whole thesis of !WAR: shedding light on who is left out and why.

The RAW/WAR installation is a live participatory environment that allows users to �bring light� to the lost or invisible histories of women in art with virtual flashlight controllers accessing the interactive, community-curated archive.

The RAW/WAR project is a project by Lynn Hershman Leeson, in collaboration with Alexandra Chowaniec, Brian Chirls, Gian Pablo Villamil and Paradiso Projects.


Contemporary Gothic Jewelry

A unique line of contemporary gothic jewelry was inspired by "The House on Black Lake" . The unique items were created by Bella Ciccarelli.



Grovel Scene From "The House on Black Lake"

Readers have requested I offer  page number and a taste of grovel scene in "The House on Black Lake". The scene is near end of book, on page 226. It shouldn't be read by those who prefer to not know what's coming - go straight to Amazon link.

Excerpt from Chapter 29 - "The Struggle Before Dawn":

           “Will you remain still if I move off you,” I hear Ramey ask me. My eyelids flicker open to view him slide off and move to the edge of the blanket, where he lowers his head to his knees and covers his face with his hands. Woozy and light-headed, I lie still and wait for the dizziness to pass. A strange choking sound issues from him, and I open my eyes to a sight I would never have thought possible, not in a thousand lifetimes.

             Ramey Sandeley is crying.

          “Did you bring me to the lake to kill me?” I ask him in a hoarse whisper.

          “I’m sorry if I frightened or hurt you. Please forgive me; forgive me for everything. I never meant to harm you. I only wanted to stop you from leaving me", he says, and lifts his head to look at me through streams of tears.  “The first time I saw you was the first time I felt myself come alive. Your eyes pierced through mine like fucking razor blades and I saw in you all the wonders of the universe. I felt I’d found my mate, someone I could share all the crazy fantasies, ideas, and dreams. And in the darkness, every night, I wished you close to me, to stave off the monstrous evils that dogged me. It was you, only you . . .” 

          He wipes his tears with the back of his hand, takes a deep breath, and pushes himself up from the ground. His face contorts as he appears to struggle against an insurmountable force.   “Sacrifice means nothing unless you are willing to give up something you can’t live without. I brought you here for a purpose. But things have changed . . .”


25 Best Grovel Scenes In Romance Novels



It is a well guarded secret that  many women desire to see men grovel.  Even better is to see a strong man grovel, and even better a strong, handsome, sexy man groveling. Crying, on knees, begging, is best.  If he is wearing a knight' s clothing, gladiator get-up, wears fangs, or a kilt, all the better.

When I began writing The House on Black Lake it was clear to me that charismatic Ramey Sandeley, who had never heard the word "no", would have to fall hard, and grovel to have any hope of seducing Alexandra Brighton, who had left a controlling husband, and made a vow at a sacred shrine to be true to her manifest destiny.  I wanted him down on his knees, in tears, begging for forgiveness, like a little boy who has gotten in big trouble. But I had created more of a challenge than I had imaged. There is nothing more sexy than a powerful man who gives over to his vulnerability. When seen raw, naked,and  stripped of the confines of power, men are such gorgeous creatures.  But, the problem is getting them there - especially for the alpha variety.  Also, be careful what you wish for - he can use "the grovel" to take you straight to his goal. Is it true emotion, or merely a tool to maintain his control? It depends on the nature of the beast.

In the process of marketing my novel The House on Black Lake, I have spoken with women woman about their favorite grovel scenes in novels, and have enjoyed their comments in the romance forums. Following are the most commonly mentioned novels with grovel scenes.

1. Until You by  Judith McNaught ( apparently she is the master of "the grovel")

2. Something Wonderful by Judith McNaught

3. Simply Love by Catherine Anderson

4. Sullivan's Woman by Nora Roberts

5. That Scandelous Evening by Christine Dodd

6.To the Ends of the Earth by Elizabeth Lowell

7. The Lover by Nicole Jordan

8. Heaven, Texas by Susan E. Phillips

9. If You Dare by Kresley Cole

10. Truly, Madly Yours by Rachel Gibson

11. His Every Kiss by Laura Lee Guhrke

12. Sinfully Sexy by Linda Frances Lee

13. The Duke by  Gaelen Foley

14. The Wedding Survivor by Julia London

15. Loving Julia by Karen Robards

16. Duncan's Brideby Linda Howard

17. Splendid by Julia Quinn

18.  Gone With The Wind  by Margaret Mitchell. Rhett butler is probably one of the most ideal male heroes every written, as he is decidedly alpha, yet his vulnerability is powerful when his heart is involved, and his grovel scene is very touching, indeed.

19. Wicked Angel by Julie London

20. The Dangerous Gentleman by Julie London

21.  The Master of Seduction by Kinley MacGregor

22. Lady Gallant by  Suzanne Robertson

23. Coyote's Mate by Lora Leigh

24. Fire and Rain by Elizabeth Lowell

25. Fired Up - Book One of the Dreamlight Trilogy by Jayne Anne Drentz

House on Black Lake  He's beginning to losing his composure - but will he break and grovel?