Hello Everyone and a warm welcome! It has been some time since I last posted and I have missed you. Today I have a treat for you. Author Morgan Elliot has a new book out, ‘Stroke of the Brush.’ It has been receiving some good reviews. Come meet this amazing woman who created this masterpiece!
Hi! I’m Morgan and I live in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Prior to that, I lived all over the U.S.A., South, and Central America consulting on long-haul telecom networks and writing operating practices and procedures. I had an opportunity to retire early and try something new. My friend Erin Wade convinced me to write and incorporate some of my experiences into Lesfic novels, and so I did.
My first novel, “Kidnapped Hearts” was a joint co-author venture with Erin Wade. The book introduced highly-sought-after forensic psychologist Alex Martini and hard-charging, globe-trotting Jules Law working together to solve a kidnapping of a young heiress. It was published in August of 2020. While I was happily settled in Santa Fe, my traipsing days were not over—they simply were taking place in books!
Have you heard the saying about the “best laid plans of mice and men…?” Well, my plans went awry this summer while I was working on a sequel to “Kidnapped Hearts,” called “Heart of a Murderer.” I had lunch with an old friend who reminded me of an experience we had a decade ago when I first settled in Santa Fe.
I was trying to slowly fill the house I had just bought with furniture and art work and she had been dragging me around to galleries for months. While visiting one on a snowy evening, a painting caught the corner of my eye. It was a stunning piece of work and I found myself moved to tears as I took it all in. At the time I thought I would one day research why a painting could evoke so much emotion, but then life happened and I never got around to it. That day at lunch when the experience in the gallery came roaring back, “Stroke of the Brush,” my new book, was born.
Click on picture to purchase ‘Stroke of the Brush’
Riley is a fifty-year old eye doctor, smitten with a painting of a dancer, which sets in motion a deeply intimate journey across three countries in search for the one thing missing in her life.
Young, hip Sara turns Riley upside down and inside out, challenging her views of age-gap relationships and what she really wants from life. In the end, Sara sacrifices everything for love.
Quinn is the mysterious artist who painted the portrait that now hangs in Riley’s bedroom. She has suffered a heart-breaking tragedy and continues to protect a secret by keeping herself isolated until Riley writes to her. Quinn brings unexpected challenges, forcing Riley to make tough choices she will have to live with the rest of her life.
Ana, a seventy-five year old quirky mother-figure to Riley, drives her to the brink of insanity daily. She has never been with a woman and her surprising foray into a lesbian dating situation with Riley as her “wing woman” is hilarious. Ana will crack you up and keep you guessing.
These remarkable characters share the landscape of the story and influence the action, making the narrative one that could only happen to them. They represent all the times we have felt misunderstood, not heard, and not loved in the way we needed, yet they point the way to enduring friendship, second chances for romantic love, and opportunities for redemption.
Excerpts from Stroke of the Brush
Here are a few short excerpts to give you a flavor of “Stroke of the Brush” and the characters.
This is how the main character, Riley Raynor, felt when she first saw the painting that sparked multiple changes in her life.
Out of the corner of my eye, a flash of movement grabbed my attention. I walked a few steps away from the gorgeous blue Japanese modern painting I had been considering buying. Now I stood squarely in front of an oil painting that took my breath away. I could describe it as stunning, extraordinary or glorious, but even if I used hundreds of words in an attempt to describe the magnificence of the painting, it would have been an abject failure. No description did it justice.
In its simplicity, it was powerful. The woman in an airy dance dress swirling around her thighs was exquisite. A backdrop of muted grays, blues, and white served to frame the dancer as she pirouetted across the canvas. The graceful sweep of her arms, the slight bend at her wrists, her tilted head, and the absolute bliss on her face evoked a heightened emotion in my body. My heart was pounding and my breathing quickened. I felt flushed and slightly dizzy, certain I was going to faint.
Here is another when Riley is listening to her best friend, Ana talk about her dissatisfaction with dating men.
I never should have agreed to meet him but he is the uncle of a friend of my daughter-in-law, so I could hardly say no.”
“Of course you could have said no,” I quipped, knowing this would probably send Ana off the tracks.
She huffed again and spat out, “You know, Riley, I have been on dates with many men the last few years and not one holds my attention for more than a minute or two and that is only because they have yet to open their mouths and talk! I’m considering changing my focus and becoming a lesbian!”
I choked on a sip of wine, coughed, and tried not to laugh because I knew she was partially serious. Instead I responded evenly.
“Ana, it doesn’t work that way. You just can’t choose. I think there is a lot of research that scientifically concludes a person’s sexual orientation is determined while the fetus is developing in the womb.” I put my wine glass down on the counter and waited for her to answer.
She spun around and leveled her gaze at me. Sighing deeply she responded, “Isn’t there something called ‘Rebirth’?”
I tried hard not to give her a snarky retort about the charlatan phycological practice of “Rebirth.” I kept quiet, rolled my eyes, and shook my head.
“What? All my friends are women. I like women. Why couldn’t I have a relationship with a woman?”
I teetered between telling her to go ahead and try it and attempting to explain why that wouldn’t work. I was a glutton for punishment, so I charged ahead with my plan to convince her she couldn’t just up and get involved with a woman.
“Well no, but I wasn’t trying.”
“Okay, fair enough, but now that you are thinking about becoming a lesbian, what do you think about kissing another woman?”
She did a good imitation of me and rolled her eyes so far back I thought I might have to do surgery. “Riley, I have kissed lots of women over the years.”
This was news to me and I was about to take off in a different direction, but then the light bulb in my head went on. “You mean on the cheek, right?”
“Yes, of course. What did you think I meant?”
“Umm, Ana, if you were with a woman romantically, she would expect you to kiss her on the lips and many other places.”
“Yes, I know that,” she said impatiently. “I have seen several lesbian movies and have a pretty good idea. Riley, I don’t find it distasteful at all and certainly not as offensive as kissing a patently arrogant man with a Fu Manchu mustache who smells like a cheap cigar!”
Well damn! What was left to be said except to tell her that if she really thought she wanted to dip her toes into Sapphic waters, to go ahead and try? Ana was a classic beauty. There were plenty of women who would find her very attractive and desirable despite her age. “Hey, Ana, go for it. Have some fun exploring.”
“So, Riley, how do I find someone?”
“Dearest, if I knew that, I wouldn’t still be single.”
This excerpt is when Riley is on her medical mission in Honduras and she is talking to Sara in Santa Fe about Ana’s and her new love interest, Marjorie’s, first time together at a romantic resort.
I wanted to call Sara and see what she knew. She was an early riser, so I dialed her.
Her phone rang three times and I thought she was still ignoring me, but she picked up on the fifth ring.
“Hi Riley. What’s going on? Is something wrong?”
“Everything is fine. Have you heard from Marjorie?”
“She called yesterday afternoon to tell me she and Ana were staying an extra day and asked if I could pass by her house to make sure everything is cool.”
“Oh yeah. She sounded like a crazy cloud merchant. I think if she had tried to make a turkey sandwich, she would have forgotten the turkey as well as the bread and been left with a jar of mayonnaise in her hand not knowing why it was there.”
“You are colorful this morning. Do you think they were smoking or popping gummies?”
“Nah. They are way too conservative. I think they had too much sex and not enough sleep.”
“I’ve never witnessed Ana so giddy. It is like she is a different person.” I lay there trying to recall a time when she even approximated her current mood. Never!”
“Do you have details? The only thing that Marj told me was that neither of them slept much.”
“All I am going to say is that Ana asked me if I knew about multiples.”
“Multiples? Do you mean orgasms? Oh my God!”
“Yes. Oh Sara, I couldn’t stop laughing. She also asked me if I had experienced them. I just about split a gusset laughing, but what killed me was that she was actually indignant that I had never shared that mystery of life with her.”
Finally, here is an excerpt from the enigmatic Quinn. She is answering a letter that Riley wrote her to express her delight with the painting, which is called the “Dancing Queen.”
You are right. I receive letters all the time from patrons and people who have purchased my paintings, but never one quite like yours. Most people write to ask how they can acquire another painting without having to go through my agent or sometimes they want me to make a personal appearance at their hoity toity local art appreciation club. Truly, I don’t have much of a tolerance for those types of inquiries. In a few instances, I have even had marriage proposals, mostly from older, wealthy men, though on occasion I have been propositioned by a woman or two.
I loved your letter. It had a sweetness and sincerity to it and I very much appreciate how you want to know more about the painting as well as discover why it moved you so. I am beyond thrilled that the “Dancing Queen” affected you so deeply. I think I really like that you ended up with the painting and I shall do my best to answer your questions.
First, I have found that there is a mystery to art’s emotional power. The right piece of art can make a person weep. He or she can feel it welling up in their throats and brimming in the corners of their eyes. They either fight it or let it come. I don’t know if you are a fan of William Shakespeare, but he once wrote, “To weep is to make less the depth of grief.” What do you think about that? Is there grief that you still need to let go? Or perhaps it helped you release emotions and feelings that you have consciously or unconsciously suppressed. Truthfully, no one really knows for sure, but I think it is a catharsis, or cleansing of some sort, even for those people who live a balanced and satisfying life.
You wrote that you were neither an artist nor dancer. My dear, you don’t have to be either of those to feel an emotional connection to the “Dancing Queen.” You simply have to accept that your tears were tears of recognition, though I can’t answer for sure what or why. Perhaps the color combinations sparked a long forgotten subconscious memory, though I have a feeling it has something to do with the dancer herself. Are you missing bliss in your life?
On a Personal Note
My wife and I are dog lovers, cats too, but I sneeze a lot when they are around. We had a little scruffy rescue dog, Louis, for several years, but he passed away last year from severe pancreatitis. On the left, is Louis.
We have been looking for a while and found this adorable pup between four and five months old at a rescue agency yesterday. She was perfectly comfortable in my arms. We are thinking she might be the one. We are trying to come up with a name for her. She is tri-colored, they are guessing an Australian Shepherd cross, but that face looks a little Corgi to me. She is smart, as she knows how to sit on command, walk on a leash, and sort of “stay.” If you would like to help us name her, you can write to me and suggest a name for this little girl.
Lastly, I wanted to share this little tidbit from “Stroke of the Brush.” In the book, Ana bakes cookies for a young woman who is stranded in the hospital after a terrible accident. I thought you might like to try them out now that the weather is getting colder and the oven brings welcome warmth. Don’t forget, if you are at a high altitude, over 3000 feet above sea level, add the following to the recipe: 1 extra teaspoon of flour and 2 teaspoons of water.
Thank you for letting me share my book with you and also our quest for a new puppy.
*Recipe adapted from Quaker Oats’ recipe. **All photos are properly licensed. ***All reviews verified
Ana’s Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Recipe Mentioned in “Stroke of the Brush.”
2 sticks of butter, softened
¾ cup of firmly packed light brown sugar
¾ cup of white granulated sugar
1 teaspoon of vanilla (you can leave this out if you don’t have any on hand)
1 ¾ cup of all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon of baking soda (Soda, not powder)
½ teaspoon of salt
2½ cups of any quick or old fashioned oats (uncooked)
2 cups of semi-sweet chocolate chips (if you love choc, you can add another ¼ cup)
1 cup of chopped nuts (I use pecans, but you can use anything you want or none at all)
2 large eggs
2 Tablespoons of milk (cow milk is better, but you can use goat if you want)
Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit (190 degrees Celsius).
In a large bowl, beat butter and sugars until they are creamy.
Add eggs, milk and vanilla, beating well.
Add flour, salt, baking soda and mix well. (Add high altitude ingredients here.)
Add oats, chocolate chips and nuts. Mix well.
Line cookie sheet with parchment paper.
Drop the dough by large rounded Tablespoons on to a cookie sheet.
Make sure your rack is in the middle of the oven.
Bake between 9 – 11 minutes for chewy cookies or 12 – 13 minutes if you like crisper cookies.
Cool for a minute or two on the cookie sheet, then remove with a spatula to a wire rack.
I want to thank Morgan for being my guest today. It was a pleasure having you. For more about Morgan, check out her social media sites and website:
Until Next Time,
Photos subject to copyright.