I have a friend, Nicole Schindler-Jeffords, who is fabulously talented and creative. She is an artist who paints portraits in oil. She is also a published novelist and a born storyteller. She has many circles of friends. I’ve known her for at least a decade through the Austin ecstatic dance community.
Here’s are two of Nicky’s self-portraits:
What’s amazing to me is the way Nicky combines her talents and interests in a unique and creative way: She is currently sharing a novel, a few short chapters at a time, online — and she includes some of her artwork (as well as well-chosen credited art by others), and some of her friends are both subjects of her paintings and serve as characters in her current novel.
She also paints a few famous people… Had you ever realized how much Bernie Madoff looks like George Washington?
Anyway, Nicky hosted a party that, besides serving delicious hors d’oeuvres in her beautiful home, featured a gallery of portraits of the novel’s characters as well as personal appearances, in character, by a few of them. That’s when I realized how many circles of friends Nicky has. Art friends, dance friends, Jewish friends, and more.
Her novel-in-progress is called A Secret Grave. Set in Austin, Texas, where we both live, Nicky is both the author and the narrator, an artist under whose backyard studio the body of a controversial, charismatic healer who disappeared 10 years ago may or may not be buried.
Her character, who’s way more of a busybody than Nicky is in real life, has a big mystery to solve, amidst a large cast of characters that include a psychic, a blind math professor, a teenage boy with a healing gift who may secretly be the son of the healer who disappeared, a beautiful cellist who had an affair, a housekeeper, a receptionist, an art dealer, a psychotherapist/Nordstrom pianist/compulsive gambler, a chauffeur/crack shot, a light-skinned black woman passing as white, her darker sister whom she abandoned, and many more, all with secrets.
I subscribe and have enjoyed receiving an email with the latest few chapters every so often. The story is really heating up!
If reading an online serial murder mystery with art and videos appeals to you, click here and scroll all the way down to Chapter 1 of A Secret Grave to start at the beginning. I recommend catching up, chapter by chapter, and then subscribing for the rest of the story as it unfolds and arrives in your inbox. At the bottom of the page, you can subscribe to the newsletter.
You can also check out Nicky’s previous online serial, The World of Franyo, her memoir of growing up the daughter of two glamorous European art collectors who fled Hitler’s Germany and ended up in New York raising a family. You can also read it as an e-book on Amazon.com for $2.99.