Sunday, July 31, 2011

The Vampire meets the Academic

I’ll have you, and own you
Be hard and cold to you
I’ll be your dark angel
I’ll be your worst nightmare
--Vampyre Erotica by Inkubus, Sukkubus
Welcome to what I hope becomes a regular installment on the blog--Sunday Myth Busting.  I’ve always been a fan of folklore--there are so many fantastic tales that shaped many of my favorite novels.   However, I admit that this mythic mission came up because I was watching a rerun of CSI, not because I was pouring over classic literature.  But I do find inspiration in all things Grissom:

Vampires, whether you like them gnarled and ugly or muscled and sparkly, are one of those cultural icons that are immediately recognizable.  It’s difficult to really pinpoint the origin of the vampire myth, as there is folklore about the undead in all cultures.  Some believe that Cain was the first of all vampires, and his children then populated the world.  Other vampire myth started as an explanation for paranormal activity.  The upir of Russia and k’uei of China actually took root in tales of poltergeists and incubi.  The notion of a reanimated corpse with a dark soul was popularized by Slavic lore, and by the 1700s, the word “vampyre” entered the English lexicon.  For the Slavs, vampires were believed to be the result of not tending to the dead correctly, thereby tainting the soul or allowing a wicked soul to possess the body.  Vampires could also be those who died violently or before their time.  Their souls could not rest, and sought to continue with the life taken from them by feeding from the living.  In fact, Romanian lore described vampires shape-shifting into butterflies (not bats), which represented the soul connection.  
Could Eric Northman really morph into........

Now I know where the sparkly comes from!  Butterflies are pretty!

Whatever the origin, the vampire has become a pop culture craze, with new myths taking root via fiction and movies.  Even academics have gotten into the debate, and that--in combination with my CSI rerun--led me to my myth in need of busting.  Back in the 80s, a biochemist by the name of David Dolphin proposed in a paper for the American Association for the Advancement of Science that vampires may have actually been people suffering from a disease called porphyria.  Porphyrias are a group of rare hereditary blood diseases in which the individual lacks one of the enzymes necessary to produce heme, a component of hemoglobin and blood cells.  Without these enzymes, the chemical precursors to heme build up and cause variety of symptoms.  Patients suffer from abdominal pain and skin rashes, as well as neurologic and psychiatric manifestations, including seizures or frank psychosis.
The “scientific” basis for Dolphin’s assertion came from a few observations about these patients: 

1.  Porphyria victims are exceedingly sensitive to sunlight, and exposure can produce severe burns and even scar.
2.  Facial skin is very friable and fragile, the lips and gums stretch and thin out, allowing the teeth to project.  The gums can become quite red and the teeth themselves may have a red brown stain.
3.  Traditionally, porphyria was treated with ingestions of animal blood and organ meat.
4.  Garlic causes excessive heme production and would make porphyria worse--thus the garlic aversion.
Unfortunately, Dr. Dolphin might have been better suited for a career in fiction.  Vampire scholars--and yes, they do exist--were quick to point out that the whole sunlight plus vampire equals fiery inferno was not in traditional vamp folklore nor in pre-20th century vampire literature (i.e. Dracula).  It seems to have come on the scene as a creation of the movies in 1922’s Nosferatu.  
Also, the porphyrias are a set of 8 different types of disease, and no one type has all of these symptoms.  Drinking blood would do nothing for people with this disorder; the chemicals needed are destroyed by the digestive process.  Hence my issue with CSI, in which the episode claimed that a serial murderess had porphyria and was cannibalizing her victims to self-medicate.  
As of yet, no medical condition has been described to explain vampirism.  And David Dolphin (as well as Grissom) inflicted a lot of unfair scrutiny on people with a rare and often devastating disease.
What are some of your favorite myths?  Are any rooted in fact?

Monday, July 25, 2011

Colloquial Conundrum Contest

Sleep delays my life.
--Get Up, REM

It’s been an amazing few weeks of being a newbie blogger.  I’ve had a blast meeting so many talented and fascinating people.  In honor of my new friends, I decided to hold a little festival.
The inspiration for this celebration is my father.  Occasionally I get an artsy bent, and usually enlist my dad to help me out because he owns many tools and is crazy enough to let me use them.  On Saturday, we went garage sale-ing looking for cheap crystal bowls and such.  On Sunday, we courted electrocution and horrific eye injury while drilling through our trinkets.  Drilling through glass is unsafe enough--doing it while the object is submerged in a roasting pan full of water to keep the drill bit cool may be bordering on Darwin Award territory.  Here’s a sample of our final product:

I love flowers! And these don’t need water!
But the best part of the day was listening to my father’s never ending litany of clever colloquial phrases and metaphors.  These fantastic bits of speech just roll off his tongue; a completely normal part of Bob’s lexicon.  When I was a kid, I was mortified when dad would greet me and my friends with exclamations of how it was hotter than a popcorn fart outside.  My mother perfected the evil one eyebrow raised scowl when he would call her latest concoction tougher than boiled owl.  During election years he’d yell at the TV about the latest politician sounding like a shit salesman with a mouthful of samples.
Except for Dan Rather’s truly unique election night coverage of 2004 and episodes of Swamp People, these verbal gems are sorely under appreciated.  In literature, many novels are peppered with colloquial sayings, especially Mark Twain’s works and Catcher in the Rye.  I feel compelled to give them the spotlight they deserve with the Colloquial Conundrum Contest.
I don’t want to get too technical in terms--I consider colloquialisms to encompass many things others may call slang, metaphor, aphorism, or hyperbole.  If it’s a figure of speech you’ve heard said in your part of the world, that’s what I’m looking for--even “y’all” could be considered a colloquialism.  In its broadest application, it’s simply the manner in which a group speaks.  Here’s how to play:
1.  Put your favorite colloquialism of any type in the comments.
2.  The winner will be chosen at random, but I will give added chances for mentioning this contest on your blog or Twitter.
3.  Following my blog is not necessary, but it would be cool if you did.
The prize?  Well, it involves a literal twist on one of my dad’s sayings.  This one’s a little less colorful than the others, but I use it as inspiration almost every day--at work, at the store, while waiting in line at the DMV. . .
  You’ll get more flies with honey.
The winner will receive a gift basket from It's All About Bees, this fun little store down the street from me that focuses on using bee products in food and beauty items.  Included in the basket is:
Local honey, zesty honey BBQ sauce, Bee Butter body cream, Bee Magic Salve, Buzz off Insect Repellent, Honey sticks, Raw honey (3 flavors), Bee Lip Balm, Honey Almonds, and Choke Cherry Honey Jelly.

The contest will end Sunday, July 31st at midnight, central standard time.  Then I’ll tally and alert the winner on Monday.  Anything goes, after all, there’s more than one way to skin a cat.  And sometimes soda is really pop, except when it’s a Coke.
***Did a quick search of customs rules for food and glass containers, as well as international shipping costs, and unfortunately I will have to keep this one limited to folks in the U.S.  Sorry!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Top Ten Things Romance Novels Oversell

The sparkle in your eyes, keeps me alive
--She Sells Sanctuary, The Cult

Disclaimer--not for those uncomfortable with images of sexy times.
It’s no secret I am a huge fan of romance novels--I love to read them and write them as well.  I even love the “bad” romances, embracing every cliche as I sink happily into HEA bliss.  However, I don’t think it has altered my perception of reality, as some would assert.  Susan Quilliam says just that in her recent article, which falls into the same tone as the YA argument that examining darkness breeds darkness.  I tend to disagree; I think most readers enjoy a good romance novel for the temporary suspension of the real, not-so-titillating parts of actual relationships.  Like laundry.  And paying bills.  And being dog-tired after a day of work but still having to make dinner and change diapers.  But I’m confident those readers are well aware of what is real, and what is artistic license.
Some of the fantasies portrayed in romances are good--the strong, self sufficient heroine who meets the hero on equal ground, demanding respect and orgasms.  Some are not so good--unrealistic physical ideals, coercion, or unsafe sex.  Some are just unbelievable as hell--the brooding male scoundrel suddenly transformed into a sensitive white knight faster than you can say throbbing manroot.  But I believe I’m far more likely to become disillusioned by watching the five o’clock news than I am by picking up the latest NYT bestseller.
I would like the pseudo-intelligentsia to stop assuming that readers are silly feeble-minded lemmings who cannot possibly discern fiction from day-to-day living.  That a woman with a romance novel is a slobbering porn addict unable of creating a fulfilling relationship outside of fiction central because she’s looking for Mr. Perfect.  Hogwash.
So I made this list, just in case anyone out there is having difficulty separating reality from the realm of romancey goodness:

Top Ten Things that Romance Novels Oversell:
10. Men with long hair.  I’m a huge fan of this image, and there’s definitely some Hollywood long hairs that make me swoon.  But in my experience, most hirsuit Joe Blows either resemble the sensitive ponytail man that Singles made famous or one of the dudes from Sons of Anarchy.  And not Jax or Opie.
9. Funtimes in the shower.  My hubby is 6’4”.  I am 5’3” on a proud day.  Sharing a shower always results in one of us (i.e. me) nearly drowning and the other shivering in the periphery of the shower spray.  And if you don’t have those plastic appliques that your grandma used in her bathtub on the floor, hip fracture is a real possibility.  
8. The heroine and hero getting it on in the middle of a fight/escape/apocalyptic scene.  Really, if you have enough time for sexual banter and a quickie, things can’t be that bad.  If the world is coming to an end and the dude I’m with is thinking about his pulsating loins, bring on the zombies, because the new civilization is so screwed.
7. The heroine has just gotten her ass kicked by avenging vampires/shape shifters/mall cops and upon sight of the hero, the first thing she thinks of is her raging lust.  Jeez, I get a hangnail and that’s enough for me to say “Not tonight, honey.”  If I just went jujitsu on someone, pretty sure I’m wanting a massage or an ice pack, not a hot beef injection.
6. Chicks with super long hair fighting like warriors.  Or doing other things that require another human in close proximity.  I have hair that is almost to my waist.  My husband hears the words “You’re on my hair” probably as much as “I love you.”  Long hair goes everywhere, gets yanked out by wayward elbows or stuck between butt cheeks or wrapped around vital parts like a hair tourniquet.  If you’re into acrobatics, I suggest a good tight French braid. 
5. Men who are vocal.  This scares me.  Romance heroes often cry out or shout or give a hedonistic war whoop during sexy times.  No one just grabs the headboard with white knuckles and makes a face that could be confused for seizure activity in any other situation.  For the longest time I thought there was some button I was missing that would make a man lose his mind and speak in tongues.  While a little sound is normal, I think most men are on the quiet side.  It’s bred in them from years of hiding the girlfriend from mom and dad in the next room and then years of trying not to wake the kids.
4. The hero picks the heroine up in his bulging arms and heads for the bedroom, but is so overcome that he can’t even wait to be horizontal.  Sex standing up--unless you have a partner who has He-Man quadriceps--is inviting a charley horse from hell and coitus interruptus via herniation.  After he stops screaming, the mood is kind of killed.
3. The virgin thing.  This still permeates a lot of romances--you know the scene--the heroine goes from quivering neophyte to raging porn queen in sixty seconds flat.  Always gives me a mental flashback of my own deflowering, in which I stared at the popcorn ceiling in my parents’ house and thought, “When does all the shouting for God start?” and “I’m missing COPS for this?”  
2. The overdeveloped olfactory systems of heroes.  The heroine always smells like jasmine or bergamot or rose water.  The hero’s nostrils are tantalized and somehow his nasal passages are connected directly to his groin.  Hmmm, guess I missed that nerve pathway in medical school.  Unless he’s a perfumer, the likelihood of a man being able to identify your smell without coaching is fairly slim.  My hubby is equally as enchanted by the smell of my deodorant as by my favorite scent.  And that’s OK.
1. Sex in the Great Outdoors.  Maybe this has to do with location, location, location.  I’m sure somewhere there is a beautiful field of daisies or a secret waterfall where lovers are transported into a perfect sexual landscape where no one sweats or risks attack by small rodents.  In reality, sex outdoors during a Nebraska July invites a plethora of blood thirsty arthropods to suck out your marrow.  So unless you would like the added sensory pleasure provided by hives on your nether regions, you slather on the OFF, realizing too late that citronella is a lousy aphrodisiac.  So now you smell like a candle, sweat’s dripping in your eyes, and one wrong move puts your ass in a patch of sandburs or worse.  You know the saying: leaves of three, let it be. 
Happy Friday, everybody!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Retro Summer Blogfest

I’ve got too much energy to switch off my mind
But not enough to get myself organized
--Infected, The The
I’m very excited to be participating in a blogfest that is right up my alley.  Amy over at The Ramblings of Amy created the Retro Summer Blogfest, dedicated to examining a forgotten mix tape.
I think John Cusack truly captured the meaning of the mix tape with this quote from High Fidelity:
  Now, the making of a good compilation tape is a very subtle art. Many do's and don'ts. First of all you're using someone else's poetry to express how you feel. This is a delicate thing.”
I hear you, Mr. Cusack.  I have always been drawn to the allure of the mix tape; my friends and I exchanged them all the time in high school, and I still make them for myself.  I have to listen to music when I write, and generally each of my characters has their own special song that defines them.  By the time I finish a novel, the playlist is as much a part of the book as the characters are.  Go figure that most of my mixes are a bit bizarre and tangential.
Creating the name for a mix tape is almost as much of an art as picking the songs.  Some of my favorites have been:
Music for the Socially Repressed (the very first mix tape I ever had, made by my friend Jill)
Encephalopathy (filled with sad songs to hide in the closet and cry to--not that I really ever did that.  At least not often.  Okay, weekly, but I was an emotional teen.  And an emotional twentysomething.  And thirtysomething.)
The Non-pharmacologic Treatment for Depression (entirely made up of Beatles‘ songs)
William Shatner Will Steal Your Soul (songs with a good beat that were easy to dance to)
Picking just one was difficult, but the mix tape that I listen to the most has to be Morning Coffee with a Ritalin Chaser  (I like to run to this one).  Here's the list:
Lucretia My Reflection by Sisters of Mercy--hard driving bass that sets my pace when I run, and was my first real introduction into industrial music

Blue Monday by New Order--I danced like a heathen to this song in the day

Stop Me If You Think That You’ve Heard This One Before by The Smiths--love me some angsty Morrissey.  He had really good 80s hair, too.  And then there's this blog.

Dead Set on Destruction by Husker Du--Best. Band. Ever.

I’ve Been Tired by The Pixies--just a funny song, all of their music is like hearing a Dali painting

Judy is a Punk by The Ramones--I discovered the Ramones in high school and they led me into everything Punk and Goth.

Hey Julie by Fountains of Wayne--obviously, a song with my name!  There are others--(I’m Not Lisa, My Name is Julie by Jessie Coulter and Julie Do Ya Love Me by Bobby Sherman, but this one is just so lovely)

Roam by The B-52s--makes me want to pick up and drive

No Rain by Blind Melon--who couldn’t identify with the Bee Girl?

Everywhere I Go by The Call--gives me a little spiritual lift

What’s My Scene? by The Hoodoo Gurus--total high school song

Rattlesnakes by Lloyd Cole and The Commotions--I love the movie On the Waterfront, and this song references it

Rhiannon by Fleetwood Mac--straight piano version is best, always wanted to name a baby girl Rhiannon, but alas, I had boys

I Love Your Lovin’ Ways by Nina Simone--first blues CD I bought.  She’s amazing.

Misguided Angel by The Cowboy Junkies--my soul mate’s song

Jasmine and Rose by Clan of Xymox--reminds me of summer lust

Blush by Razed in Black--goth techno, what more could you want? Must dance and wear black lipstick, now

Supernova by Liz Phair--the original song about pretty sparkly boys

Why? by Bronski Beat--reminds me of my best friend in high school, his amazing blue eyes and his incredible strength of character

Space Age Love Song by Flock of Seagulls--I’m a huge John Hughes fan, and this is the quintessential Pretty in Pink/Some Kind of Wonderful/Breakfast Club song

Verdi Cries by 10000 Maniacs--Natalie Merchant has the voice of an angel.  That’s all.
The sad thing is that most of the songs on my mix tapes are the same darn things I’ve listened to since high school and college.  Here’s hoping that through this blogfest I find some new bands to obsess over for the next twenty years.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Poetry Schmoetry Blogfest

When routine bites hard, and ambitions are low
And resentment rides high, but emotions won't grow
And we're changing our ways, taking different roads
Love, love will tear us apart, again
--Love Will Tear Us Apart, Joy Division
I do not write poetry.  I love to read it, but the closest I’ve been to actually writing the stuff was a blatant rip-off of “Twas the Night Before Christmas” in my holiday letters from 2005.  I blame my high school English class; they voted to read Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People in lieu of dissecting the works of Walt Whitman.  I never recovered, and I forgot all those ways to make people like me anyway.
When I saw the Poetry Schmoetry blogfest via Summer Ross's blog, I realized that this was my chance for redemption. The power of rhyme compelled me.
The hardest part was settling on a subject.  I’ve been a little discombobulated about life lately--at a crossroads some would say.  So I chose to write about the anxiety that plagues me at times and trying to defeat it.  I’m not sure if it made me a poet, but the process did force some raw introspection, which might be the point.  Plus, it was pretty darn fun.  So here you have it, my white wedding to poetry.  

Feeding the fear
She is here, with her taste of metal and brackish stink.
My heart strains against sinewy confines but it won’t escape.  
This I know, I studied the book and the white coats say it’s impossible.
Yet still I wonder.
Her touch not real, a product of my overloaded brain trying to organize, compartmentalize.
Some days my swagger is impaired, the facade of calm ragged and I worry she will notice, she will finally claim me.
She taunts me.  Hunts this poor white trash that got an education; drinks my claustrophobia in that coat decorated with serpent’s staff. 
And she bloats larger.
Gorging on doubt and hot shame of failure to fulfill my different gypsy destiny.
The rush of blood in my neck drowns my stuttering pulse, the waves fill my throat to cease empty bartering for time wasted.
But I am of the air.
I rip myself from her sodden arms and suck the sweet taste of a blue sky.  With caustic eye/I push her down, crush her larynx to silence her siren’s calls. 
Mistress panic, you will go hungry today.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Top Ten Observations made at the local water park over the 4th of July

No, you know you're not really alive--you're just a shadow falling behind.
And no matter how hard you try
You can't make the sun shine all the time
--Shine All the Time, Blue Moon Ghetto

I am still recovering from the holiday.  My skin has finally faded to a schoolgirl pink as opposed to a harlot red.  This year, hubby and I took the kids to the local water park, that bastion of coconut scented terror disguised as wholesome family fun.  In honor of this truly American rite of passage, I give you:

Top Ten Observations made at the local water park over the Fourth of July weekend:
10.  Although spray tans are all the rage, Oompa Loompa is not a color to emulate.  Unless your name is Snooki.
9.  My five year old in his Scooby Doo board shorts with plumber butt is damn cute.  Guy with the cut-off sweat pants in the wave pool?  Not so much.
8.  It is not patriotic to wear the American flag as swimwear.  When I gaze at Old Glory, I want my inner soundtrack to play Francis Scott Key, not the Milkshake song
7.  For men only:  wearing a cotton t-shirt in the pool only accentuates the part of you that you are trying to hide.  Doubly so if that t-shirt says Budweiser.
6.  Unless the Olympics are in town, Speedos are wrong.  Save the money in manscaping and spare fellow swimmers the banana hammock. 
5.  If there is a band-aid floating in the water, the nearest leg draws it like a tractor beam.
4.  There are no Cabana boys in Nebraska.  There are, however, a plethora of men who wear tube socks with sandals.

3.  The giant water slide has been sadly overlooked as a horror villain.  He Who Gives Enemas of Death would make an awesome Stephen King character.
2.  The girl who wears the bikini best is the one with the beautiful attitude.  But dudes will still stare longer at the woman with the biggest floatation devices.  

1.  Lifeguards are actually Cylons. There’s thousands of them across the world, yet they all resemble the same 8 people.  

Have a beautiful day, and go get some sun!  And don't forget the SPF.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

I was promised this would involve a mortal sin, nudity and legal problems. It may be even better than all that.

     As some of you may know I have this amazing crit partner named Jennifer Armentrout.  Not only is Jennifer the proud author of the kick-ass Half-Blood series coming out in October 2012 with Spencer Hill Press, but today she has another awesome announcement--Spencer Hill will be releasing another one of her works!
      If you like YA, Jen should be on your reading list.  She's got strong female characters, smokin' hot tortured love interests, and a new twist on mythology in Half-Blood.  And if you like a story about possibilities when things seem impossible--mixed with zombie hamsters--you'll love Cursed.  Here's a little taste of what you can expect when it is released in 2012.  

Dying sucks--and high school senior Ember McWilliams knows firsthand. After a fatal car accident, her gifted little sister brought her back. Now anything Ember touches dies. And that, well, really blows.
Ember operates on a no-touch policy with all living things--including boys. When Hayden Cromwell shows up, quoting Oscar Wilde and claiming her curse is a gift, she thinks he’s a crazed cutie. But when he tells her he can help control it, she’s more than interested. There’s just one catch: Ember has to trust Hayden's adopted father, a man she's sure has sinister reasons for collecting children whose abilities even weird her out. However, she’s willing to do anything to hold her sister's hand again. And hell, she'd also like to be able to kiss Hayden. Who wouldn't?
But when Ember learns the accident that turned her into a freak may not've been an accident at all, she’s not sure who to trust. Someone wanted her dead, and the closer she gets to the truth, the closer she is to losing not only her heart, but her life. For real this time.

2012 is going to be a very good year.  Assuming the world doesn't end, of course.  But if you got to go, what better way to do it than with great fiction?  Congratulations, Jennifer!  But beware the zombie hamsters. 
 Image from

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Bohemian versus bohemian

The air tastes just like you, it's the smell of June
A sensory shock that jolts my spirit, I slowly swallow you
--Jasmine and Rose, Clan of Xymox

When you say “bohemian” to people,  many conjure up images of fringed boots, floral skirts, and kohl eyeliner.  Or perhaps Jack Kerouac with his notebook, drinking a jug of wine, cursing the hippie counterculture swirling around him during its Haight Ashbury height.
Me?  I think of beer.  Guns.  A community bucket of vinegar-soaked radishes passed around at a sokol auditorium while polka plays in the background. 
So who has the true image of a Bohemian?

The answer requires a bit of a history lesson.  The only thing that qualifies me to give this lesson is some hand-me-down family information and self-study at the public library, so be aware that none of this may be accurate.  I blame Wikipedia and red wine for any errors.  Also, writers tend to embellish, but apparently that’s okay nowadays, even in memoir.  So here goes.
Bohemia is one of the historical lands that make up the current Czech Republic.  Its ancient roots are linked to a Celtic tribe that settled the area in B.C. times.  It was overrun during the Barbarian Invasions by Slavic tribes and eventually became a kingdom in the Holy Roman Empire.  At some point there was an uprising against the Roman Catholics and a period of rule by the Habsburg-Austrian empire.  During the mid 1800s, internal rebellions caused the first of three main waves of Czech immigration to America.  During WWII, Bohemia became a Gestapo-run puppet state of Nazi Germany.  Years of brutal oppression and extermination of Czech patriots and intellectuals thankfully came to an end with the Allied victory.  A few decades of communism followed, overthrown in the pleasantly named “Velvet Revolution” that resulted in the dissolution of Czechoslovakia.  Tah-dah, say hello to the current democratic Czech Republic.
So how did we get from a bunch of Slavic marauders to the modern day image of flower children?  Or the more disturbing question, why do the tabloids lump the Olsen twins into my heritage?  Back to the historical drawing board. 
In the 1800s, there was an influx of Romani nomads into France, and they were thought to be from Bohemia, although this has been disputed.  As artists and writers settled in the same poor areas that these “Bohemians” did, they were also included under the umbrella of this moniker.  As their artistic work spread, so did the name.  Some think that Balzac was the first to embrace “bohemian” as a catch term for artists and intellectuals, especially those seen as unconventional in their work.  He said:  
"This word 'boheme' is self-explanatory. Bohemia possesses nothing, yet contrives to exist on that nothing. Its religion is hope; its code, faith in itself; its income, in so far that it appears to have one, charity."
Eventually when Bohemian nationals started immigrating to America during the revolutionary times of the Austrian empire, “bohemian” became synonymous with radicals and those who questioned the status quo.  American writers influenced by both types of European bohemians created a cultural group in New York in the 1850s.  When the Civil War took many of these journalists for war correspondence, they were referred to as bohemians.  By the late 1800s, groups of like minded literati in San Francisco started using the name as well.  Even Mark Twain at one point identified himself as bohemian.  
The culture and environment of this period in American history was founded on the principles of unconventionality; the idea of a community of free souls--free thinkers.  Bohemianism became the identifier for those with intellectual or artistic focus.  That idea has persisted through the decades, interpreted by each new group of artists--the beatniks, the hippies, zen counterculture, even punk.  All could be considered a genre of that original case of potentially mistaken origin.
My great great grandparents were born in Bohemia.  In 1884, they took a boat to America with their six children and then traveled inland to the Nebraska prairie to claim a tract of land they’d never seen.  Their progeny still owns that land and the home they built is now on the National Registry of Historic Places.  If you’re in to history, here’s an actual PDF about it.
I don’t know why they came to America, some say it was due to religious persecution.  I do know that the house my double-g grandpa built was reminiscent of the homes wealthier Czechs lived in, not immigrants.  I like to think it was his way to show there were no constraints on what he or his family could become in America--there were no boundaries of class.  It amazes me to imagine the hardships they faced obtaining the necessities for life in a foreign and often harsh new land.  I doubt if my grandparents ever read any of the authors that identified themselves as bohemian.  But they certainly were unconventional people who didn’t care about society’s perceptions of them.  They were determined to create and live life on their terms--free thinkers.
So maybe Bohemians really are equivalent to bohemians.
The novel that earned me representation is all about my Bohemian roots--with a bit of artistic license, of course.  It’s the story of a family that essentially is the Czechoslovakian mafia of a little farm town in the middle of Nebraska, running everything via the local carnival.  It was my effort to be a little bohemian about being Bohemian.  It gave me great pleasure to research my heritage and give it another dimension.  I only wish that I would have had the opportunity to speak directly to my great-great grandparents to know their true motivations.
Someday I want to get to Bohemia to see what my ancestors left behind in order to start over.  Until then, I carry a bit of Bohemia with me.
Have you ever included a piece of your heritage in what you write?
I must thank Illumielle, who designed this tattoo, and the artists at Grinn and Barrett Tattoo who brought it to life.