Thursday, February 28, 2019

ART-SCULPTURE: The Horse at Heller House, UCCS

On a recent trip to beautiful Colorado Springs, Colorado, we visited a wonderful little house nestled in the woods behind the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs.

The Heller House is a lovely adobe building with a history of fostering the arts and humanities 
in the Colorado Springs region.

Although there were many items of interest, we were fascinated with the horse sculpture. It is a a must-see if you are in the Colorado Springs area. 

These photos don't to it justice. And I tried! It captures the spirit of the West.

The grounds are dotted with landscape sculptures, bird houses, and native plants like this gorgeous Indian Paintbrush.

I've added some pages from the Heller Center Master Plan for expansion and restoration, as well as the link to the university for those who want further
information and a map to get there.

It was a lovely afternoon well-spent in the beautiful Colorado sunshine. 

Link for further information:

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

INTERVIEW:Sci-Fi and Cozy Author Loretta Johns

Loretta Johns 
The Potteries Area of England

Good morning, Loretta, and welcome to Vision and Verse, the site that loves art and books and the people who write them.What have you written?
Oh, goodness. I currently have out 4 titles of a sci fi romance series but I also have a PNR series and a set of sci fi cozies in the works.

What is your favorite genre to write? 
I adore science fiction and I’ve always loved a good mystery, so I’m really excited about the cozies. The main sleuth is a shape shifting alien who finds herself catching an unexpected ride on an astronaut’s return vehicle after he leaves the International space station. It’s set in a fictional alternate universe where after the 1969 lunar landing, the space program forged full steam ahead and the Cold War came to an end in the spirit of joint co-operation.My sister, Sarah Johns, and I decided to write it in the spirit of a 60s TV show.

Favorite food.
Bulgogi. One of my godmothers was Korean and she gave my mother their family recipe for Bulgogi and it was always something I looked forward to having, preferably with a nice helping of kimchi.

Tea or coffee? 
Coffee, though I have tea throughout the day as well. I’m in England, after all :)
Pizza or ice cream? 

Wine or beer or soda? 
Soda or a mixed fruit cider. I am particularly fond of Swedish pear cider blended with strawberry and lime.

Where would you like to visit? 
Ohhh, now, traveling is in my blood! I have a very long list of places I’m slowly working my way through, haha. Top of my list are Hawaii (all islands), Japan (each region), China (Great Wall) and I def. also wish to visit Shanghai and Hong Kong, and South Korea.

Favorite musical artist.  
I don’t have one particular favourite and have rather eclectic tastes. 

Do you listen to music when you write? 
I do.  

That often depends on what I’m writing. For the sci fi cozy, I listen to a 60s lounge playlist with Don Ho, Sammy Davis Jr, Elvis, The Monkees, Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Bobby Darrin, with some Motown sprinkled in. For my scifi romance series, The Brides of the Mylos, and The Dade sisters series, I listen to a shuffled mix of 50s, 60s, 70s, and 80s pop with the odd 90s favourite tossed in. 
What makes you laugh? The antics of dogs and cats and Far Side type cartoons.

Favorite work of art or sculpture.
My favourite painting is Renoir’s Girl with a Watering Can and my favourite sculpture is the Kelpie one in Scotland.

How old were you when you started writing? 

Do you plan out your book with outlines and notecards? Or just write? A bit of both. I hash out a general outline and character list on a sheet of blank paper and then develop it further when I begin the project and transfer it to a note card in Scrivener. I then sit down and just write and if the story takes a turn, it does. With my co-written books, my sister and I sit on Messenger and make up the outline and occasionally hash out ideas for scenes which I then organize on a notecard in Scrivener and then I dash out the words. 

Describe your perfect evening.
Following a nice dinner, curling up with a good book or sit down with my laptop to write, dogs at my feet, cats lounging nearby. A nice cup of hot tea or coffee on the table next to me, my playlist playing softly, and the view outside the window somewhere new that the next day I will venture out to explore, with someone I love by my side (husband, child, friend, sister).

Where do you get your inspiration?
I have to admit that the characters generally start whispering their story at me. I was once in the shower rinsing my hair when the idea for one came to me. It wouldn’t leave me alone until  jotted the premise and main character down.

What do you do when you get a writer's block? 
I go for walks, watch some TV, go out for the day, or take a trip.

Who is your favorite author?
C.J. Cherryh

Best book you ever read. 
Downbelow Station

Last book you read. 
Night Kisses by E.T. Malinowsky

What would you do for a living if you weren’t a writer? 
I’ve been a soldier, translator, retail clerk, fast food worker, and switchboard operator for the DoD (in no particular order), so who knows?

Who is the one person who has influenced your personal life the most and why? 
My other half. He encouraged me to follow my dreams and tags along for the ride. 

If you could sit down and have a conversation with ONE person, living or dead, real or fictional, who would it be and why? 
My godmother Park. After several military moves, our families lost touch. I’d love to find out where she was from in SK (my mother doesn’t know or has forgotten) and see how my childhood friend Jason (her son) is doing.

What advice would you give someone who aspired to be a writer? Read a lot of well written books, write stories to hone your craft, learn grammar, study book marketing., and network with other authors on social media. Then go full steam ahead. 

Do you have some links for us to follow you?


Tuesday, February 26, 2019

BOOK: Book Review, Death at Sea by Andrea Camilleri

I first fell in love with Inspector Montalbano when I saw the series on MHZ. The beautiful Sicilian coastline, a terrific script, and amazingly talented actors. I loves Salvo Montalbano, the Italian police chief. I also loved Detective Mimi, the handsome womanizer, and Detective Fazio, who has an eye for details. Truly, I could take Fazio home! 

Salvo's long-suffering girlfriend, Livia, is also a wonderful character, as is the cantankerous old forensic pathologist. 

So I was pleasantly surprised these Montalbano books at the Warren Public Library. This was a  wonderful read.  If you like solid, flawed characters, a plot so tight it bounces, and lots of Italian-isms, you'll like this book.

Sunday, February 24, 2019

SCHEDULE: February 25 - March 1, 2019

Tues., Feb. 26 - BOOK: Book Review, Death at Sea,
A Montalbano Book by Andrea Camilleri
Wed., Feb. 27 - INTERVIEW: Sci-Fi and Cozy Author
Loretta Johns
Thurs., Feb. 28 - ART: Sculpture,
The Horse at Heller House, UCCS

Friday, February 22, 2019

BOOK: Red Sarah by Carol Ann Kauffman

Sarah is a beautiful redhead who works for a special agency that fixes broken timelines and rescues historically significant people who are in trouble. 

She has a special set of skills that allow her to 'tap' someone out of a dangerous situation. Her present assignment is to find and rescue a prince whose son eliminates hunger and disease on his island nation. 

“Save the Prince; save the King; and save the Reds. In doing so, Red Sarah may just save herself, who knows, but what might be the cost? Moving from modern day wisecrackery to a time of romance long ago, Carol Ann Kauffman’s tale is filled with majesty and bravery. This time travel story is a gift for all.” - Amazon Review 

“Sarah has one job and that is to rescue Crown Prince Lucas of Mist from captivity in a dungeon. Yet everything is not as it seems and will Sarah be able to stop an upcoming war? 
This was an interesting book about time travel and trying not to disrupt the time continuum. I liked Sarah and it was interesting on where her and Lucas ended up.” 
-Amazon Review  


Chapter One

Look What I Found in the Dungeon

Sarah approached the lifeless figure huddled on the floor. The prisoner was shackled to the wall in the small, dark, damp cell. She reached down toward his throat to make sure he was still alive.
“No,” he growled as he pulled away from her.
“Shh,” whispered Sarah. “I come to help you, not to hurt you. But you must be quiet. I cannot be detected in here.”
“They will kill you… or worse,” he whispered, “for trying to help me. I am not some poor unfortunate soul. Do you have any idea who I am?”
“Yes, I do. You are Crown Prince Lucas of the Mist Kingdom in the highland of LaMere. Let me touch your neck.” 
He moved toward her as much as he could. 
She gently touched his bearded neck. “You are very warm, Prince Lucas. I fear you have the fever.”
“I am Prince Lucas, yes, but not the Crown Prince. My eldest brother Marcus is the Crown Prince and heir to the throne of the Mist Kingdom. I wield no power, here or in the highland. If you help me, I can do nothing for you in return. Leave this rotten stink hole at once. You only put yourself in extreme danger. There is nothing you can do for me.”
“Oh, really?” Sarah laughed as she put a small flask to his lips. He sipped, then swallowed and sighed.
“Ahh, good. Thank you,” he whispered. “What is that?”
“Herb and honey infused whiskey. It will induce a deep and heavy sleep. If you are chained to the wall in here, you may as well get some rest.” Sarah gave him more of the strong, sweet liquid. “Sleep now, Prince Lucas. I will return tomorrow night, when the guards are fast asleep. I will bring you bread and cheese. Is there something else you crave?”

“Freedom from these bloody chains. A bath. Warmth. Clothing. Sunshine. Strawberries.”

“Strawberries, I can do. And maybe something for the fever.”
“Why? Why do you chance danger to bring me real food and medicine?” Lucas eyed her warily.
“Because you need to regain your strength if I am to help you escape.”
“Escape?” squealed Lucas with a surprisingly hearty laugh for a man in his depleted condition. “Are you daft?”
“Shh,” whispered Sarah. “Be quiet.”
Lucas nodded.
“You have quite the sense of humor, lovely one,” whispered Lucas. “I am chained to the wall in a filthy dungeon in the miserable, hellish depths of Marlow Castle. There is no escape for me. And where would I go? I am too weak to even make it to the drawbridge, let alone up the rugged terrain of the mountainside. I am alone. My people have abandoned me. And, in case you did not notice, this cell is locked.”
“So then… how did I get in here?” Sarah smiled.
The prince looked around in confusion.
“Now, close your eyes.”
Lucas closed his eyes.
Sarah disappeared.

The next night, Sarah appeared in the locked cell once again. “Is there anyone in here who is hungry for real food?” she whispered to the sleepy prince.
“Ahh, there you are!” He smiled at her. “When I awoke refreshed from my deep and restful sleep, I was not sure if you were real or simply a lovely vision of my imagination.”
“I assure you, I am real. Here,” she handed him a small cloth pouch with berries and pieces of bread and cheese and a flask of water. 
“I am most grateful,” said Lucas, “although I do not know why you do this.” Lucas lifted the cloth pouch to his nose and inhaled. “Smells wonderful.” He picked a strawberry from the pouch and ate it. “This is the best thing I have tasted since...since…”

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Thursday, February 21, 2019

ART: Russian Artist Wassily Kandinsky

Wassily Kandinsky

Colorful abstract painting with buildings and a church in the background

"Wassily Kandinsky's creation of abstract work followed a long period of development and maturation of intense thought based on his artistic experiences. 

He called this devotion to inner beauty, fervor of spirit, and spiritual desire inner necessity, it was a central aspect of his art.

Kandinsky was born in Moscow, 
the son of Lidia Ticheeva and 
Vasily Silvestrovich Kandinsky, 
a tea merchant.

His family comprised German aristocrats, and from his maternal 
side he also had Tatar origins, to which he ascribed the "slight Mongolian trait in his features".

Kandinsky learned from a variety of sources while in Moscow. 
He studied many fields while in school, including law and 

Later in life, he would recall being fascinated and stimulated by colour as a child. His fascination with colour symbolism and psychology continued as he grew. In 1889, he was part of an ethnographic research group which travelled to the Vologda region north of Moscow. In Looks on the Past, he relates that the houses and churches were decorated with such shimmering colors that upon entering them, he felt that 
he was moving into a painting. 

This experience, and his study 
of the region's folk art 
(particularly the use of bright 
colors on a dark background), 
was reflected in much of his early work. A few years later he first likened painting to composing 
music in the manner for which he would become noted, writing, "Colour is the keyboard, the eyes are the hammers, the soul is 
the piano with many strings. The artist is the hand which plays, touching one key or another, to cause vibrations in the soul".[8] Kandinsky was also the uncle of Russian-French philosopher Alexandre Kojève (1902-1968).

In 1896, at the age of 30, Kandinsky gave up a promising career teaching law and economics to enroll in the Munich Academy where his teachers would eventually include Franz von Stuck. He was not immediately granted admission, and began learning art on his own. That same year, before leaving Moscow, he saw an exhibit of paintings by Monet. He was particularly taken with the impressionistic style 
of Haystacks; this, to him, had a powerful sense of colour almost independent of the objects themselves."

I claim nothing here. All images and data are from wikipedia. 

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

INTERVIEW: Supernatural Horror Crime Thriller Author Suzi Albracht

Suzi Albracht
Bowie, Maryland

Good morning, Suzi, and welcome back to Vision and Verse, the site that loves art and books and the people who write them. What have you written?
An OBX Haunting Series:
A Love Haunting
The Siren of Diamond Shoals

The Devil’s Due Collection:
Death Most Wicked
The Devil’s Lieutenant
Scorn Kills

Coming Soon:
The Ghost Fixer
The Reluctant Angel of Death

What is your favorite genre to write?
I have two favorites – Supernatural Horror Crime Thrillers and Paranormal Romance/Ghost Novels. The first one allows me to be very, very bad. And the second one, allows me to love like I have never loved before. The funniest part is that in the first one, my characters love to swear and mutter outrageous things. So when I switch to writing the second genre, I have to find other ways to express pain when a character stubs his toe on a doorjamb. 

I have two books in the works, one for each of my genres.

Favorite food.
Since I live in Maryland that has to be steamed crabs with Old Bay Seasoning and served with clarified butter and fat onion rings. Oh my, I am so hungry now and it won’t be crab season for months. But we did find a new place for crabs this year off I-70, do you think they’ll have crabs? Maybe from Louisiana? 

Tea or coffee?
Neither, I am a Pepsi girl, totally. Been one since I was a baby. My mother used to put Pepsi in my bottle. I’m sipping on one right now. With lots and lots of ice. 

Pizza or ice cream?
Neither really get me going but if I have to make a choice, I would say Blue Bunny Ice Cream Sandwiches. They are the creamiest you have ever had. Plus they have these individual Salted Caramel Pretzel Bunny Snacks… Yummy.

Oh, Suzi! I love those little Blue Bunny Salted Caramel Pretzel ice cream squares. I hide this in the freezer under the Brussel sprouts. Wine or beer or soda?
Strictly Pepsi. Not the other one… coke. However, I do like a creamy, super cold Pina Colada topped with a bright red, crisp cherry. Mostly, I’ll have them on vacation. On those same vacations, I’ve been known to have Mimosas for brunch.

Where would you like to visit?
If it is somewhere I have never been, then I choose Hawaii. But if it is a favorite vacation spot, I choose Key West. If you haven’t been, you should definitely go. Beautiful beaches, awesome restaurants, interesting people, a cool art district. There is so much to see and do that you have to come back again, and again. 

Key West is great. And you're right, it's never the same place twice. I actually like Key West and other parts of Florida better than Hawaii. 
Favorite musical artist.  Do you listen to music when you write?  
I don’t listen to music. I normally listen the television while I write. Even then, I only half listen to what is on. When I write, I tend to lose myself in my words. So, if I am writing about my favorite ghost guy in the Outer Banks, I’m down there beside him with my toes in the sand and the sun kissing my face. If he has popped into his living wife’s condo because he desperately needs to see her even if he can’t touch her or hold her… or even let her know that he is there. In that moment, I’m there too, holding my breath, praying that he’ll be able to walk away because he has no choice but to walk away.

What makes you laugh?
Irony makes me laugh. I love things that start out in one direction and then twist around and go in completely different direction. If I giggle, it’s good. If I burst out with an unexpected laugh, it’s great. 

Here is a scene from A Love Haunting that shows you what I mean. Jordan, the newly dead ghost, is at the beach with his friend, Luke, a skateboarding surfer angel.

Luke transported us to a section of beach where the surf was ‘tubular.’ And then while Luke went to find his nirvana, I put his backpack down and set up my umbrella and chair. I settled back to watch him and the rest of the surfers, both dead and living. Yes, there were others like us. No one came to talk to me, butI could tell which ones didn’t have a heartbeat.

Not ten minutes in, I was standing a few feet away from my chair, looking at the waves crashing on shore when I heard someone huffing and puffing. I looked in that direction and saw this rather largewoman waddle right up to my chair and umbrella. She took a quick glance around as if looking for the owner. I noticed right away that the woman’s eyes were like tiny beads of greed and sweat dripped off her brow. It came to me that I had seen that look before. In the third grade, Byron Reilly was the class bully. He always got that look when he was snatching some kid’s lunch money.

Holy crap, she’s going to take my stuff.

I hurried over and touching the backpack with my foot, I put my hands on the umbrella and chair when the woman was looking the other way. I have to say the look on her face when she turned to grab her newly found booty was hilarious. Her eyes were shining like new pennies under eyebrows that looked like McDonald’s arches, andshe was licking her lips. The woman was so eager she tripped over her own feet inches away from my chair and landed on her bum. I cringed because I didn’t know if she would crush my now invisible chair. Anyway, she narrowly missed it. I watched her scramble to get to her feet, dust herself off and head back to wherever she had come from.

Whew! I won’t forget that lesson.

After that near disaster, I decided I better start acting like an octopus with extra tentacles. I pulled my chair closer to the umbrella,so they were abutted against each other, andLuke’s backpack was shoved underneath, touching the chair’s legs. Don’t ask me how but I managed to sit in the chair without losing my death grip on either the umbrella or chair.

Looking out at the water, my eyes caught sight of Luke sitting on his board, laughing his ass off. I gave him a thumbs up. Then I guess the Devil got a hold of me for a second because I grabbed his backpack andheld it out as if I was about to toss it out onto the sand. Luke began to frantically wave at me to stop.

I grinned until I noticed that lady was heading toward my chair again. Shoving the backpack under my chair, I plopped myself down and held onto everything like my life depended on it. I could hear Luke’s chortles the entire time. I began to wonder if I was ever going to be good at this whole dead experience.

Favorite work of art or sculpture.
I love Monet. His work makes me feel as if I am floating.

How old were you when you started writing?
I was very young. Probably six. I kept all my little stories to myself and hid them under my bed. I didn’t want to share them with anyone because they were my personal thoughts put into story form. I wish I still had those stories. It would be fun to write about them today. I wonder what little me had to say.

Do you plan out your book with outlines and notecards? Or just write?
I am pretty much a free-spirit index card chick. For me every book begins when the story pops into my head. I could be anywhere when that happens, so I keep index cards with me at all times. Whenever I think of another piece of the story, I jot it down and add it to the stack of cards. Sometimes, that addition is a scene, sometimes, descriptions of characters. I keep adding to my stack of cards until I feel like I need to get something on paper. At that point in the process, I have a form I made that includes beats and plot points. I insert the contents of the cards where they make sense onto the form. Then I add in more scenes until my head is spinning from the desire to write the actual story. After that, I write the scenes I listed and wing it for the rest until I have a completed script.

Describe your perfect evening.
I love the beach. A lovely evening would begin and end with my guy holding my hand. We would start with dinner at a restaurant on the beach, preferably at a table with a view of the ocean. Better still, at a table on the deck. After dinner, we’d enjoy a nice stroll on the beach with shoes in hand. The evening would end with us sitting closely together in beach chairs, listening to the waves roll in and wonder what cool adventures might await us.

Where do you get your inspiration?
I am very sensitive to my surroundings. My imagination is stimulated by people, places, things. I like to people watch and imagine what has happened to those people earlier in the day or year. I love to visit places and imagine people who may have lived there at one time. Sometimes, even a small, seemingly insignificant item such as a worn dress or highly polished old car speaks to me. My OBX Haunting Series came when I heard about T.L. Daniels. He had been shot and killed at The Black Pelican in the Outer Banks. I read about several rumors written on how it all went down and felt he got a raw deal. I wanted to right that wrong if I could. Anyway, from there, I came up with Jordan, my newbie ghost, and Luke, my skateboarding, surfer angel who’s favorite word is ‘Dude’ and the others. T.L. is not the lead character but he plays a major role.

What do you do when you get a writer's block?
I seldom get writer’s block, I get writer’s procrastination at times. But when I do get stuck, I interview my new characters. I ask them things like what they think of the story and how they feel about the other characters. It’s always surprising what they come up with.

Who is your favorite author?
To be honest, that would be me at this time. I am consumed with writing. And to be honest, I love my books and my characters. If you happen to read my books Death Most Wicked and The Devil’s Lieutenant, there is a character who I relate to in many, many ways. If you read my books, look for Mikael Ruskoff. The truth is that I fall in love with almost all of my characters. They don’t always do what I think they should do and some of them are not very nice at times, but I still love them. Even my villains were loved by their mothers. And they had their hearts broken at some time in their lives. Yes, when you meet them, they are at their worst, but they still hold pain inside them that pushes them to make those bad choices.

What would you do for a living if you weren’t a writer? 
That’s hard to say I have written all my life and I was a technical writer in my outside job. But there was one job that would pop into my mind from time to time. A forensic investigator. It’s probably the writer in me, but it would be interesting to try to connect the dots in a murder case and help bring closure to the family.

Who is the one person who has influenced your personal life the most and why?
I had two people. My mother’s father and the mother of one of my stepfathers. Both were kind people who treated me like I was precious. My grandfather would take me on train rides when I was little. We visited all the zoos all over Illinois. It was always just he and I. And my step-grandmother always treated me as if I were her blood grandchild. She always had time for me. Whenever I am nice to someone else, I think it is her, at my elbow nudging me along. Both of them loved me unconditionally in the short time we had together.  

If you could sit down and have a conversation with ONE person, living or dead, real or fictional, who would it be and why?
Now this will sound sad but it’s really not, just wishful thinking. I would like to talk to my father. He and my mother divorced when I was six months old. My mother had a world class talent in holding grudges so I was never allowed to even meet him even though he lived just across the river in Iowa. Thanks to the internet, I now know that he died in 1987, so all chances of meeting him are gone. I think it would be cool to just chill and chat over Pina Coladas.

What advice would you give someone who aspired to be a writer?
Not only do you need to be open to learning new information and new ways of completing tasks, you need two more assets - patience and a thick skin. Patience because everything seems to take too much time. You must learn to be patient or your head will explode. And a thick skin because not everyone will think you are as great as your loved ones do. And there are a lot of mean people in the writing world. Just ignore them and be yourself and you will be fine. 

As always, Suzi, it's been a pleasure. Give us a peek at those new books when they come out. Hugs.

Do you have some links for us to follow you?
             My Amazon author page is
·                  My FB page is
·                  My handle on Twitter and Instagram is @SuziAlbracht

          Individual book links:

          Suzi Albracht