Friday, February 26, 2010

Friday's Photolife--Taking the taker

One of the things I love doing is taking pictures of people taking pictures. Maybe it's because 99% of the time I'm behind the camera. There are fun things going on with the photographer and her/his assistants. I love my niece's face here.
It's especially fun when they're going at it with multiple cameras.
or viewing what they've taken
or in crazy positions to get just the right shot
or in the end smiling for a camera. (My niece swiped my camera and took a picture of me. It's one of the very few recent ones I have.)

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Wednesday's Wonders--Followers

Yesterday, I hit a milestone. 100 Followers. Woohoo! *Throws confetti*

I feel the need to mark the occasion with a prize, sooooo... Susan R. Mills, you're the lucky follower. You win a $20.00 gift card from Barnes & Noble for being my 100th. Just send me your address to lacmoss (at) gmail (dot) com, and I'll whip that right out to you.

Blogging has been such a great thing for me. I started it to have that web presence agents say we need and found that it has given me so much more. I've met so many wonderful friends. I've learned so many important lessons about writing and publishing. I've found beta readers and a crit group. I've hopefully helped some of you along the way. I've discovered that the writing world is full of helpful, friendly, supportive people. It's a nice thing to know that even though the competition is stiff most writers are cheering each other on rather than cutting each other down.

So... Thanks to the followers out there. The supporters. You are a wonder.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Friday's Photolife--Doing it in the dark

When it gets dark out, don't put those cameras away. You can get some seriously cool shots in the dark, and don't think you have to use the flash. Taking pictures of things that are lit up in the night generally doesn't need a flash. With these fireworks, it was almost like daytime.
Go with the strengths of the darkness--glowing flames reflecting on a lake. If you're worried about blurring (which is always a concern in the dark without a flash), put the camera down on a solid surface. I used the fence around the lake to help me hold the camera steady for this shot. It works like a charm. A tripod is great, but it's not always convenient to carry around. Just work with what's there.
Sometimes I might use a flash when I'm far enough away that the light won't bounce back just so I don't get any blur when the subject is in motion like this ferris wheel.
Sometimes the blur is just what I'm going for. In the Tower of Terror--the blurs look almost like ghostly presences.

To get good blur pictures the point is to move the camera. Duh, eh? After years of working to keep the camera still, though, it was a revelation to me. Move the camera? On purpose? Yep. Totally. It can be really fun. Just play. Probably 1 shot out of 10 will be really cool.
Move the camera in wavy lines, in circles, squares, spell things out (if it's dark enough, you'll have time to do it).
Just go for it. Embrace the blur.
Application to writing? Don't think you can't do something a new way because you've always done it differently. Experiment. It might turn out great, just like taking blurry pictures in the dark.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Wednesday's Wonders--Good boy books

My 13 year old son is all about action. He doesn't like to sit still even for a minute. He exercises while watching TV. He practices katas (for karate) and slings around swords and bo staffs. He plays basketball, baseball, ping pong and can't leave a ball sitting alone in a corner for even a minute. He is in constant motion on the wii, even when he doesn't have to be.

It probably comes as no surprise, then, that he's not a big fan of reading. It's a concept that I have a hard time fathoming.

It broke my heart when he was little and wasn't interested in me reading him bedtime stories. He didn't even want to sit still long enough for that. I'd come in with a stack of books, and he'd shake his head. It was such a shock since his older sister was a "just one more" pro. Five or more books a night was the norm.

I'm telling you about this just to say that I am so thankful for books that make him sit up and take notice. Friday he started The Percy Jackson Series and has been completely hooked. He started book 3 this morning. To me that's HUGE! Thanks to Rick Riordan and all the writers out there like him who are writing engrossing things for our boys to read. You are a wonder.

Now that I see it's possible for him to choose reading over everything else, I'm on a mission to find other books that will keep him engaged. Suggestions are always appreciated.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Monday's Montage: Who's right for me?

I'm finding that trying to find the right agent to query is like trying to pick someone to date (but not just someone to date, someone you can love forever--work with an entire career) without knowing anything about them except that they like blondes (represent YA). I'm blonde, so does that mean they'll like me? Maybe I find out from some research that they also like blue eyes (paranormal). I have blue eyes. Does that mean they'll like me even better? Maybe it just means they are more open to what I have to offer, and that's my best shot. Research is helping me, but so many agents don't put much out there about what they like and don't like. (Some do, but a lot don't.)

I've been reading a lot of books lately that I wouldn't normally chose because agents I'm considering represent the authors, and, quite frankly, I haven't been that impressed with a couple of the books. Does that mean I don't want that agent? Does that mean I just don't like that author's style, and it doesn't mean much about the agent? Is this a waste of time?

I've been reading a book over the weekend that is very similar to my book in a lot of ways, and I really like it. Does that mean the agent that reps it would be perfect for me? Or would my book be too similar to what she already has on her list? For that one I suppose I'll just have to send a query and see. I'm hoping it will mean that she likes what I've got.

For quite some time I have been making lists of agents who represent books that I really like even though they are not exactly the same genre as what I write. Is this the right approach? Should I rethink this? What's y'all's take on it?

Friday, February 12, 2010

Friday's Photolife--Clouds

Here's a revisit of a post I did last year. Since most of you weren't following me then, I thought it would be a nice thing to bring back up.

I love photography, as those of you who know me, are already well aware.

The thing with taking pictures is that when the sky is clear and the sun is bright is one of the worst times to take pictures. Shadows are harsh. There is a lot of glare. People are squinting. I'm not saying that you can't get good shots then, but generally it's not ideal.

Some of your best shots happen when the light is coming or going--early or late in the day and, if you're taking nature pictures, when the sky has texture--when there are clouds.

The picture above was taken during a thunderstorm before dawn at the beach last summer. The noise woke me up, and when I went out onto the balcony and saw those clouds, I ran back inside to get my camera. Cha-ching! Clouds rule!

Writing is very much like that. The clouds/trials give texture to our stories. They add drama and beauty. Without them there would be very little to tell. As writers our own trials and stormy times help us write them better for others. They may be awful to go through, but, at least, we can look at the positive side and say they help make us better writers.

Hurray for clouds, eh?

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Wednesday's Wonders--Electricity

The wind whipped through the enormous sycamore snapping branches into the power lines...

Or some such nonsense. Earlier today our electricity blinked on and off for about 10 minutes and then was gone. Nooooo! I had computer work to do. Plus, I hadn't posted, and there would be no more working online until the power came back. It effectively changed the nature of today's post. I began pondering the wonder that is electricity and what we're left to when it deserts us. My son even resorted to picking up a book. (Gasp! Maybe I should sabotage the fuse box sometime.)

So I've been cut short on my time for posting this lovely Wednesday afternoon, but, just so you know, I'm not taking my power for granted today.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Monday's Montage: Publishers Marketplace and some other great things online

Hello again, everyone! I had a pretty productive week off from blogging. I got some serious editing in and did some good research on the agent front, and I think I'm ready to send things out. *Crosses fingers and hopes*

One of the resources that has been incredibly helpful in this process is Publishers Marketplace. I joined there about a year ago and have been enjoying reading the updates and deals news ever since. It's especially exciting when I see friends' books listed. I actually have been known to squeal out loud when I've seen their names--even if I already know about their deals.

The things that I have found most helpful lately? 1) The searches that show what agent reps what author or a particular book. It's been nice not to have to scour the house for the books I love (especially since some of them are lost in the black hole that is my daughter's room) and hope that the author gives a shout out to his/her agent. 2.) The individual agent pages that show what they are looking for with links to their own websites and what publishers they are working with mostly. 3.) The top dealmakers page has been really helpful too.

I could keep going. I've been up and down and around the PM site finding what I could. Not everyone updates their deals regularly, but that's a good thing to know too. It goes to personality.

Some of the other sites I've found particularly helpful are AgentQuery and QueryTracker, but there is no substitute for agent interviews in knowing what they are really looking for and what they are like. A special thanks to Cynthia Leitich Smith at Cynsations for all the marvelous interviews and Casey McCormick at Literary Rambles for all their fabulous agent info and links to interviews.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Final polish before...

I'm taking this week to work on my final polish before I have a published writer friend reading my MS at the end of the week. I won't be blogging, so I can focus on what I've got to get done. Wish me luck.

I'm planning on starting the query process next week. *Crosses fingers that all will go well with that*