Monday, November 30, 2009

Monday's Montage: Casablanca

I hope you all had a great holiday! Mine was lovely. I even won cookie cupcakes from Penny over at Penny Lane. Yea for me!

Last night my husband and I watched Casablanca with his parents. Now I've seen it before and liked it, but never got why it was such a phenomenon. Last night for whatever reason the stars aligned (it probably didn't hurt that I only got interrupted once and then we paused the show so I didn't miss anything), and I understood why people far and wide love this movie. I'm thinking that I never really got the whole story, and this is one movie where you have to get the whole story to appreciate it fully.
It's funny and sad and poignant. It's historical and personal. If you haven't seen it, you should, but make sure you can give it your full attention. It's worth it. Here's a trailer for it.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Friday's Photolife--Multiple Shots

Sorry this is a little later in the day. I got so caught up in my rewrites (that are going well--boom chicka wow wow!) that I forgot I was supposed to post today. Hello, Lois, it's Friday. Thank heaven for my new schedule. At least I know what to write about. Whew!
How about some fun action shots. Digital photography has revolutionized action photography for me. I'm from the age of using film and worrying about the cost of it when you have to take a lot of pictures to get one shot. Now, if I want to take 300 pictures of something, no problem. All it costs is the extra energy to push down the button (and maybe putting in a new memory card).

If you're working with action shots, your best bet for getting good pictures is taking a ton of pictures. Here are a few photos I got of my incredible nephews on their trampoline.
Total, I probably took 250 pictures of them while they were playing around. The thing is with action shots, there will always ALWAYS be blurs, especially in waning light like I had that evening--even professionals have them. One of the differences between an amateur and a pro is how many pictures they take. (Skill would be another one, but still...) If you take enough pictures and you get some of them in focus, you're bound to have something good.

Then you can get them at the height of their jump.
Leaping the trees.
You can decide if it's better that he's looking at the sky...
or looking at the tramp.
Because with action you can get anything and sometimes they work and sometimes they don't.
Take plenty so you can delete the blurs.

Application to writing? I think we have to do multiple versions of some scenes to get the right one. Some will work and some just won't, and sometimes we don't know until we do them.

Happy weekend everyone.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Wednesday's Wonders--Thanks

Most of you who know me, know that I love me some music. Last week I led a choir of young women ages 12-18 in a performance. They had practiced the song for about a month and a half. In the first practices, it was disastrous, but, little by little, they improved and eventually the song was quite lovely.

One of those young girls came up to me after the performance and said, "Thank you for leading us and helping us learn the song." I was surprised. I often get praise from an audience for how good things sound, but the kids rarely come forward and say anything. They are the receivers of compliments and thanks not the givers. This girl's unexpected thanks made my heart soar.

At this time of year when we think about Thanks and what it means to us, let's remember to voice it to others at unexpected times and make "when you least expect it, expect it" a positive thing. We might make someone's day.

I'll follow my own advice and thank all of you for sticking by me and continuing to read my blog and comment. I've been amazed at how supportive the writing world can be. There is a lot of dog eat dog going on out there but not in the blogging trenches. Thanks! Y'all are a wonder.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Monday's Montage: Netflix

I love a good story. It can be as a novel or on TV or in a movie. The nice thing with movies/TV is that they combine the visual along with the story for the photographer side of me. I get so excited about cinematography. I practically hyperventilate at the camera angles and framing.

I used to love renting movies, but I was bad at returning them on time. Late fees adored me. The stores were not very convenient to where we lived. The selections often did not include the obscure movies that I love. So after a while I rented less and less. I would trawl stores and buy, or order and buy, but that was always a crap shoot. It was so hard to know what would be good. A lot of wasted money ensued.

Netflix has been a panacea of sorts for me. No more reluctance to try a movie or TV show. The selection is so broad I have found things I would have never thought of on my own. The shows come and go right in my mailbox. Hurray! And the latest thing that I love is instant viewing. I can check a lot of shows out instantly online--watch them right there, order the dvds to watch on the big screen at home, or drop them like hot potatoes. I've discovered several wonderful TV shows this way. I think, "Hey, I've got half a hour. Let me see if this is any good." Sometimes they are and sometimes they're not. If I don't like them, I just cut them off and move on.

There's a new thing where you can order shows direct to your TV, but that requires an extra fee, and I really only have so much time for watching. Plus, I don't mind waiting for the DVD to arrive in the mail. It is nice for those instant gratification junkies though.

I can search for shows a myriad of different ways. There are the standard routes like Comedy, Thriller, etc. But I much prefer checking for specific actors I like or BBC things that I haven't seen. I like that I can arrange by MPAA ratings and by how many stars viewers give them and see reviews immediately by people like me. The system has its flaws. I don't like the Unrated or Not rated way of ranking movies. It's hard to tell if the movie is really an R or a PG-13 that is the director's uncut version or a TV movie that doesn't have a rating.

The big up side, though, is that now I only buy movies when I know I will love them. It's fabulous.

So, how many of you are Netflixers? What do you like about it? Dislike?

Friday, November 13, 2009

Friday's Photolife--Reflections

The picture I used in Wednesday's post (the flags reflected in the WWII memorial) made me think of talking about the importance of keeping the possibilities of reflections in mind when taking pictures. Personally, I love reflections. They make great abstracts or often increase the impact of the original. (Pictures from our recent trip to DC)
Any reflective surface will do. Here's one from the Air and Space Museum of the Smithsonian.
An airplane engine reflecting the trees outside and the museum across the mall.
The capital.
Sometimes the reflection alone says something lovely.
The Washington, DC temple. Combining the juxtaposition (ode to Candice's post) of natural and geometric/man-made elements and reflections.

Applying it to writing? Is it nice to use a reflection in our writing when appropriate? We need to be careful not to overuse them, but I think they can be effective. I understand that agents don't like them at the beginning because they are kind of cliché, but how about later? I have one later in my WIP when my MC is freaked out and runs to the bathroom, splashes water on her face and looks at her reflection. What do you think? Does that sound okay?

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Wednesday's Wonders--Veterans

For my inaugural Wednesday's Wonders post, it is fitting that I should start on Veteran's Day.
(Taken at the WWII Memorial in Annapolis, MD)

It's always been an extra celebrated day in my house. I have a brother whose birthday is November 11 and an uncle as well. I have many relatives who have served in the armed services. (My father being one.) I have an uncle who died in WWII, one who died as a result of injuries sustained in WWII, and other uncles injured in WWII and Korea. Okay. I'll grant you I had a lot of uncles. My father had 5 brothers and 2 sisters. 4 brothers and one sister (as a nurse) served in WWII. Odds were pretty high that someone would be lost, and someone was.

It's interesting that I never knew how he died until a couple years ago. No one wanted to talk about it, and the only reason my father finally did talk about it was that he didn't want his sacrifice lost to posterity. If you are interested, last year around Veteran's Day I posted about one uncle who told us how he was shot in the war. He totally lied. Here's that post.

In my home we always honored veterans, especially from our family. The sacrifices they made and make for us fill me with wonder. I'm grateful for those who saved us from the likes of Hitler and continue working to make this world a safer place to live.

No matter what our politics we should honor those who give their time and talents and sometimes their lives to keep us safe.

Bless you, Veterans! You are a wonder.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Introducing... My new plan

I thought it would be fun to try some official structure on my blog since eliminating my book reviews. As long as it's working this will be my plan.

Monday's Montage: A mixed-bag of whatever strikes my fancy--like today introducing my new blog plan. This is where I'll make recommendations of things I love. (For those who will miss the book reviews and want to know what I think about certain books join me on

Wednesday's Wonders: Things in the world that inspire me. Here I'll include stories or ideas about nature or man's inventiveness, whatever makes my heart sing.

Friday's Photolife: Photos I take (how and why) and what I think writers can draw from them.

What do y'all think so far? Am I on the right track? Is this stuff you'd like to hear about?

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Wednesday≠Book Review Time

I've been writing so much this last week that I've not read a book to review. I've actually been toying with the idea of discontinuing my book reviews and only writing recommendations when I have them. I would recommend whatever strikes my fancy. Shoes. CDs. Movies. Recipes. TV shows. Paints. Books, of course. Whatever. Something like Friday Fabs. What do y'all think?

BTW: Huzzah for the writing! It is moving along swimmingly. *Cue the Hallelujah Chorus*

Monday, November 2, 2009

Candy explosion

I'm looking for good ideas of what to do with all the candy I have left over from Halloween. There were hardly any trick or treaters because of the rain, and I can't have it staring me in the face any more. I'll just eat it. It keeps calling to me from the cauldron.

Yesterday, a friend was telling me she plans to chop it up, freeze it, and use it as ice cream toppings. Great idea, huh? I plan on doing that with some of it, but there's way too much for just that, so I thought I'd throw the question out there to my bloggy friends. You guys are very creative. What else should I do with all this candy?