All About the Bass

julie-machadoA string bass, a library and quilting are three things that seem to have little in common, unless you’re talking about Julie Machado, Managing Librarian for the Spanish Springs Library and bassist for the Reno Philharmonic.  Her passion for music and literature extends well beyond the concert hall and library walls.  An October performance with guitarist, Tim Gorelangton in their duo, Shiloh, was an evening under the stars benefiting the Hidden Valley Wild Horse Protection Fund.  She also performs with her husband, Larry Machado’s jump jive swing band Brassakwards.

If you ask Machado “What’s new?” expect an interesting answer.  During the “Home Means Nevada”  Shiloh, toured the state with Mark Twain impressionist, McEvoy Layne.  She is currently editing a book on the 50 year history of the Reno Philharmonic and performed in the orchestra for the Western Nevada Musical Theater Company’s production of “Little Mermaid” in November.  She loves playing musicals “the feeling of sitting in an ensemble with a big choir and orchestra pieces like you’re part of something bigger than yourself.”

Performing with Shiloh gives her opportunity to engage with the audience as well as to experiment with different music genres. “When I play with my duo, I want that symbiotic relationship with the audience,” she explained. She estimates that they perform one new song at each performance. At one gig they even did a gypsy-style version of Robert Plant’s “Darkness, Darkness”.


With Tim Gorelangton during a Shiloh performance

Machado manages her multi-faceted life with excellent organization skills and by focusing on one thing at a time. At the library she is devoted to the patrons and staff and continues to expand her knowledge through classes and articles and blogs. A voracious reader herself, Machado is particularly drawn to non-fiction and as well as memoirs like Michael P. Branch’s Raising Wild.  “People’s real lives are fascinating,” she notes.

She is equally focused on her music and is adamant about the importance of practice. “If you want to be creative, you have to practice at it.” She practices in 45 minute blocks after work honing in on what she wants to accomplish.  Machado explains that whether working on a classical piece or show tunes, “You need to put your whole heart and soul into whatever you’re doing—the end product is worth all the hardship.”


Three “Basseketeers” from the Reno Phil-left to right Engrid Barnett-Whisenant, Lani Oelerich & Julie Machado


Machado has a vibrant sense of humor as well as a keen sense of professionalism. She has a bright yellow bass dubbed Miss Sunshine. The quilt she designed for a journalist friend incorporated words along with the colors, black, white and red. What else besides a newspaper is black, white and “read” all over?

During her career, Machado’s planning skills she honed for performances have also supported her implementation of projects at the library. Managing the people, books and building of a library, organizing a performance or designing a quilt—all require attention to detail of each individual piece as well as the ability to see the big picture.


Playing With Fire

img_0430As kids we were often told “Don’t touch the glass” and “Never play with fire.”  But Julia Tachihara does both (wearing the appropriate safety goggles of course).  Her well-lit studio in Sparks, Nevada is reminiscent of a magician’s workshop with colorful glass sheets and rods neatly lined up awaiting to be transformed into Lampwork beads and whimsical creatures.


There’s something magic about watching her form a bead in the fire. Julia admitted img_0431working with glass has been a kind of escape for her, though she opts for knitting or crocheting while watching TV. While the open flame is mesmerizing it also requires complete attention.

As passionate as Julia is about her craft, she graciously shares it with others through demonstrations and workshops.  These photos were taken during a demonstration at her studio at Reno Open Studios.  Workshop details and times are available on her website:

Julia has been an active part of the local arts community participating in the Y’Art Sale in July and recently Reno Open Studios. This fall Julia and her work will also be at the Reno Gem & Mineral Society Fall Artisans Craft Fair. img_0433November 11-13th. Reno Town Mall 4001 S. Virginia Street, Reno.


Artists in Their Native Habitats

city-skyline-reno-with-flag-and-textThe first full weekend in October is Reno Open Studios.  From September 30th through October 2nd visual artists throughout Reno and Sparks open their studios to the public. The line-up includes an impressive array of local artists working in media ranging from gourds to textiles. It’s an amazing opportunity to see how the magic happens.

As with any creative endeavor, you never know who you’re going to meet or what is going to happen. I was fortunate to meet Katherine Case of Meridian Press at the Reno Open Studios.  I’m pleased to report she’s a participant this year too.

Even if you can’t make the road trip this year, do check out their website and mark your calendar for next year (October 6th-8th 2017).

Indie Author Day

“Writers aren’t exactly a pself-e_indieauthorday_logo_tshirt-01-e1462823856596erson a whole bunch of people trying to be one person.” Scott Fitzgerald

I believe Fitzgerald’s quote to be especially true for indie published writers. Not only do you have a cast of characters in your head vying for attention, as an indie writer you are the CEO, publicist, finance director and tech support of your own business.  Even if you hire out for some of the heavy lifting jobs (like editing), the success or failure of your enterprise rests squarely on your shoulders.

That’s why I’m thrilled to announce the inaugural Indie Author Day  taking place in libraries across the country on October 8th with a live webcast scheduled for 2:00PM EST.  My local library, Washoe County Library-Spanish Springs, will have their event on Sunday, October 9th from 2:00-4:00PM PST. The Spanish Springs event will host about a dozen local writers (including yours truly).  Authors will have their books available for purchase and there will be an author Q&A from 2:30-3:30.

Curious if your local library is participating? Check out


A Tale of Two Talks


With Ellen Hopkins after Microtalk event at Grassroots.

I recently attended two events featuring local writers.   Both intended to illuminate the journey of community movers and shakers in hopes of inspiring others.  While both events were well-attended only one was a success, the other a disappointment.

The flop was held at a trendy bar to a standing room only crowd.  A local author would interview four  Reno-well-knowns about their creative journey.  The main event was held in a room adjacent to the bar which was packed well before the event started.  Those at the bar could watch the interview unfold on the TV screen. While there’s nothing like watching a playoff game in a crowded bar, a talking head interview doesn’t have the same intensity.  I could have just have easily watched the same interview while settled in my favorite chair with better popcorn at home on a public access channel.

Adding to the disconnect our host gave such an in-depth introduction of his first speaker, that when she finally spoke it seemed like old news.  Or maybe it was the slow pacing of the Q&A format.  In any case, despite the fact that the saison on tap was delightful, I couldn’t stay for another speaker or even a second round.  I expect according to the bar receipts this event was a success, but in terms of human connection it was a failure.

The Microtalk event at Grassroots Books was a completely different story (not just because I had the chance to meet Ellen Hopkins-though that was a highlight for me).  The event was free, but required reservations which allowed Grassroots to gauge crowd control and adjust logistics if needed.

The speaker line-up featured  Molly Sheridan, from Desert Sky Adventures,  Rebekah Stetson of Urban Roots and NY Times Best Selling Author, Ellen Hopkins.  Their host gave a concise intro for each speaker. Each speaker had 15 minutes which allowed them to share their stories with time for questions from the audience.  With the speakers touching on such topics ranging from running in the Himalayas to organic farming to addiction’s impact on families –how could you not want to learn more?

The pacing of the event allowed plenty of time for audience members to chat with the speakers afterwards (and book signing). And for those longing for even more discussion, Grassroots hosted an after party off-site open to all.  I drove home after the Microtalk feeling engaged and inspired.  Sometimes the less is more approach is what works best.

Writer Interview-Rachel Leigh Smith


Tell me about your latest book.

My newest book is the fifth novel in my A’yen’s Legacy paranormal sci-fi romance series, Hidden In Ashes. It does stand alone, but I recommend starting with the first book, My Name Is A’yen. It’s free everywhere.

The series is set in the far distant future, after we’ve made contact with a humanoid alien species. As is humanity is wont to do, we stole from them and enslaved them. A’yen’s Legacy is the story of their fight to regain their freedom.

 What’s next for you?

In the fall, I’m joining the world of shifter and mythology-based paranormals with my first shifter romance, To Hold A Siren’s Heart. Sirens from Greek mythology, shifters created by the Egyptian gods, and a blood feud between the Greek and Egyptian gods of war. It’s a lot of fun to write.

 Who are your writing role models?

I don’t know that I have role models so much as me being a serious fan girl of both  Nalini Singh and Sherrilyn Kenyon. I’ve met Nalini twice. Her especially, if I can write half as good as her one day I’ll be over the moon thrilled. Her imagination astounds me, and I love her almost poetic dialog descriptions. That woman can capture more emotion in a handful of words than any other author I’ve read.

 How do you balance your day-to-day commitments with your writing life?

I actually have a very charmed life. I’m single, no kids except for my cat, and live at home with my parents. Due to chronic health issues, I only work part-time. I’m also a pretty extreme introvert, so I don’t go out much. I don’t have much difficulty balancing things most days, mostly because there’s not a lot to balance right now.

When I do have to balance things, it’s because of the aforementioned health issues. Fibromyalgia to be specific. That’s what steals my energy and makes life interesting in a bad way sometimes. I learned a long time ago to guard my down time and not bend my schedule to others’ whims. The physical price is never worth it.

What are your other passions outside of writing?

I don’t really have any, to be honest. Not ones that I’d qualify as a passion. I have several hobbies I enjoy, including counted cross-stitch, knitting, and coloring. And in the summer, floating in the pool with my mom and sister. We talk about all kinds of stuff out there.

I’m part of multiple pop-culture fandoms ranging from Doctor Who to Star Trek: The Next Generation to Sherlock to Orphan Black, but I don’t actively participate in any of them online. I just enjoy the shows a lot. Though I have been to a comic con to see Matt Smith from Doctor Who, and Alan Tudik from Firefly. And the opening night midnight showing of Star Trek: Into Darkness.

But passions? Nope, just writing. Putting words on the page, dreaming up characters, learning more about the craft, it’s truly my happy place and where I’m most fulfilled.

Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?

If you have a dream, go after it. Don’t let work commitments or any other kind of time suck derail you. Chase it until you catch it, then hold on for life. You won’t regret it.

You can find out more about Rachel at her website:

My Name Is A’yen, A’yen’s Legacy #1MNIA 200x300-7-30-16

They’ve taken everything from him. Except his name.

The Loks Mé have been slaves for so long, freedom is a distant myth A’yen Mesu no longer believes. A year in holding, because of his master’s murder, has sucked the life from him. Archaeologist Farran Hart buys him to protect her on an expedition to the Rim, the last unexplored quadrant of the galaxy.

Farran believes the Loks Mé once lived on the Rim and is determined to prove it. And win A’yen’s trust. But she’s a breeder’s daughter and can’t be trusted.

Hidden rooms, information caches, and messages from a long-dead king change A’yen’s mind about her importance. When she’s threatened, he offers himself in exchange, and lands on the Breeders Association’s radar. The truth must be told. Even if it costs him his heart.

Four to Tango

IMG_0263The month of July is beloved for long summer days and the birth of our country. I’m particularly fond of July since it is my birth month that I share with one of my favorite writers. Maybe I should say he shares with me since he arrived first.

In Reno July is also the time of Artown, a month long celebration of the arts. Every day in July the Biggest Little City features concerts, workshops, art walks and all kinds of live performances in dance and theater.  Some events are ticketed, many are free.

What is best about Artown is that you can count on the unexpected. Yes, the local artWine-Ing Cats Reno galleries would feature new exhibits for July, but would you expect to see the Sierra Watercolor exhibit at Renown Medical Center? Or discover Wine-ing Cats at Wild Garlic

The Sweet Vibrations concert at First Methodist Church was filled with surprises. Naturally a string ensemble calling themselves The Red Tango featuring members from the Reno Philharmonic would wear red and perform tango music. You might not expect the playlist to span worldwide including “Blue Tango” written by the composer best known for “Sleigh Ride”. Or for audience members to be encouraged to participate. Once couple danced for several songs, their faces rapt with joyful reverence.

There is plenty to see and do, but only until July 31st.