Friday, March 26, 2010

Day 3 of Where in the World is Lotus Girl?

We have a winner.
I meant to have you guessing for the city, but, since I didn't specify, I'm going to have to take the state.
It's Arizona. Congrats to Mary Campbell.
The problem is that I have been to Arizona before--to the Grand Canyon.
I've just never been to this city. Any guesses for what the city is?
Yat-Yee had the Frank Lloyd Wright connections right. His influences are everywhere. (Good call. I was very impressed.)
The Botanical Gardens has a butterfly exhibit right now and
always the most incredible collection of succulents around and right now they're blooming.

Mary, send me your address to lacmoss (at) gmail (dot) com, so I can send you your prize.

Today we're heading out to the red hills of Sedona.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Day 2 of Where in the World is Lotus Girl?

There were some good guesses so far,
but it's not Florida
or Hawaii
even though there are tons of palm trees.
There's art

and a lot of trees like this one that I don't ever remember seeing before. What is the deal with that bark?

Hint: Today I'm going to a unique botanical garden.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Where in the World is Lotus Girl?

We interrupt our regularly scheduled post for a game of Where in the World is Lotusgirl? It's back by popular demand.
Remember that the first day the pictures are vague,
but they will get more and more specific with each post.
The first person to guess where I am wins a $2o gift card from Barnes and Noble.
You must be a follower to win.
Good luck. I'm sorry I won't be commenting much on your blogs this week, but, you know, I'm sort of occupied with my trip. If you've been told where I am (family and super close friends), please don't play.

Hint: I've never been here before.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Friday's Photolife--Rule of Thirds

There are certain rules in taking pictures that instantly make for more visually appealing shots. One of those is the rule of thirds. Divide the image in thirds vertically and horizontally. If your main image is on one of the lines, it will be more pleasing to the eye.
It's even better if your main focal point is where the lines cross like my niece's face in the shot below
or the overflowing flowers in this urn in the gardens at Versailles.
Our eyes (for whatever crazy reason) are naturally drawn to that spot in any visual image and it feels good to have the subject there. I might even say it is comforting.

See what I mean? Our daughter's face is where the lines cross. Try putting your subject off center. You may be surprised at how good the pictures turn out. Just make sure you lock your focus on the subject.

Application to writing: There are certain rules in writing that make a story more satisfying. The three act structure is one of those (I picked this one since we're talking about threes). I didn't think it would make my book better if I used it, but, when I applied it to my story, it got much better. It felt right. I might even say that it was comforting. Go figure! What other rules have you found that made your novels better?

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Wednesday's Wonders--Friends' successes

On Monday, Beth Revis announced her book deal. A major, 3 book deal. Congrats Beth! You really deserve it! She's hosting a contest at her blog with lots of celebratory prizes. You should all check it out.

I love seeing my friends succeed. It's one of the best things in my life. I'm a cheerleader by nature, and I get a great deal of pleasure from the joy of those around me. In this writing world the successes are hard to come by, so, when they do come, it's extra important to take note.

I remember when Beth was working so hard on her former book and was frustrated with things and the process. Then she had this cool idea for a sci-fi book (not her usual genre but she went with it) and worked at it and worked at it. She continued building her web presence and networking. Then she found an agent. Then she got a book deal. I'm so excited for her success. On top of that, I'm really inspired by Beth's journey.

She is a consummate professional. She pushes herself hard and doesn't let the frustrations inherent in writing hold her back. When her former book didn't sell, she didn't give up. I'm sure she might have felt like it at times, but in the end she kept plugging away, and that is a lesson to all of us who have the same dream. It takes more than just talent and skill (which she has in abundance). It takes work and determination to make this dream happen.

So here's to my friends' successes. Here's to Beth and Tess and Kami and Stephanie and Kiersten and Jenni and their debut novels. Y'all are wonders.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Friday's Photolife--a little petting

Health update: Girls=thumbs up, Boys=thumbs down. My husband is still not over what we had last week and earlier this week, and my son, who is over that, broke out in hives for the first time last night. Talk about freaking a mother out! We went to the doctor this morning. He's on benadryl and once that wears off zyrtec. Hopefully we can figure out what caused it.

Anyway, back to the regularly scheduled program.

Look at that sweet face. She's the best dog ever. Some might even say an angel dog except she's very stealthy (My daughter calls her a ninja dog. She'll just appear next to you without warning.) and I tend to trip over her.
My daughter actually took this picture. Very nice, eh? She has a good eye, but then again she's an artist. The white in the bottom left corner is her sketch book. She was trying to draw a picture of aforementioned angel dog who wanted to see what she was up to and wouldn't stay posed. Photographs are a much easier way to capture our four-legged friends. Here are a few tips. (Shown above: Get close.)
Take shots of them enjoying a warm spot in the sunshine. It's best if the light is coming from the left or the right with the animal facing the sun. I love this shot because of how the sun makes angel dog's white fur glow and how the puddle of leaves next to her matches her darker fur not to mention her expression of contentment.
Profiles rule. I love them. Try them sometime. They're great for people too.
Get down on the animal's level or even below them. Wild dog was standing atop a retaining wall, and I was on the ground below. He looks very angelic, doesn't he? Let's just say it's a good thing he's cute.
Catch them showing off. (Okay, so not technically a pet, but when I was little I played with them like they were. There were a lot around our house. This was taken at my parents.)
Be patient. I waited a long time for that crazy crab to come out of the hole. Animals are not going to cooperate a lot of the time even an angel dog. (This was my daughter's "pet" at the beach.)
Get them in action and don't be afraid to take a lot of pictures to get one that works. That's how action photography is.
Get shots of people with the pets. (I wanted to include this one of my mother when she was 8 with her dog. When I was younger, it helped me identify with her. That dog was special. He could climb trees.)
People as pets works too.

Application to writing? Don't forget that animals can highlight personality characteristics. How does X treat his pet or some random animal on the street. What is his reaction to a dangerous animal attacking? Is he scared of shellfish or creaped out by cats? It's just a thought. Plus, depending on your genre, animals could be the characters.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Wednesday's Wonders--Health

We've been battling the galloping crud around here this week. It felled one daughter, then the son, then me and another daughter, and finally the hubby. It's been a real germapalooza. We're finally coming out of it, and it makes me thankful for many things: indoor plumbing, a microwave, extra soft tissues, takeout, an insanely comfortable bed with fresh sheets--to name just a few. But most of all, I'm thankful for my health that is returning.

There is nothing like sickness to remind us how much we appreciate health. So, on this day of returning to the ranks of the hale and hearty, I celebrate health. It is a wonder.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Friday's Photolife--Obsessing on Streetlights

Sometimes I wonder what it is that draws us to certain elements of landscapes, cityscapes, home decor, stories, poems, music, etc. The things that capture our imaginations are as varied as we are. Mantel clocks have this appeal for me that I'm sure not everyone shares. A beautiful turn of phrase can send my heart into palpitations. I've already shared how cello music can make me cry. I'm sure it doesn't do that for everyone.

As a photographer, streetlights fascinate me. They rise up illuminating the world. There are so many shapes and sizes. Some loom over a gray city alone.

Some pull together in threes

or fours.
Some hold their own in the blurs of the night.
Some are patriotic. What else would you expect in Washington, DC?

Some look like sentinels. See the helmet held on by the straps?
Some are imposing and geometric.
I just can't resist them.
--Thanks to Lady Glamis for this picture she took of me while I was obsessing over one particular streetlight at the Smithsonian.

Application to writing? Go with what you love. It may not be for everyone, but, if it moves you, it will find an audience. (Most likely people like you.)

Someday I may have to do a book on the streetlights of the world.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Wednesday's Wonders--GPS

Where would I be without my GPS? Lost in the nether reaches of some back country holler no doubt.

I love being able to see alternate routes and feel confident that I can always find my way. Moving every 3-4 years keeps me on my toes, and the GPS has revolutionized getting to know a new city. I'm not constantly lost at the beginning. Very nice!

I'll grant you, they do have their downsides. Sometimes roads are labeled wrong and new roads aren't added (at least not to mine--I need to get the updated CD, but the price is zaa-zaa-zing and not guaranteed to cover my area.) causing confusion. Sometimes its routing is not the most efficient way of getting places. There are even "unverified" areas that don't seem to compute and other areas where I end up driving roadless across the screen.

Whatever. I'll take it. Warts and all. It has made my life so much easier. It is a wonder.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Monday's Montage: Me and my Danskos

While some people love shoes like these, I just can't wear them any more. Ever since I had foot surgery a few years ago, I've had to seriously alter the way I wear shoes. Eventually I found out the original surgeon left a screw across a joint and had it removed, but meanwhile I was floundering around trying to find something cute to wear that didn't scream "Grandma" but also didn't bring tears to my eyes.

Enter my Dansko fairy. The owner of a local, independent shoe store. I was looking at the Børns, the Clarks, the Naturalizers. All very comfortable and often cute. He suggested I might want to try Danskos. I did and (cue the Hallelujah Chorus) heaven. I could walk mostly pain free. There were quite a few styles--most of them cute--in his store and even more in the Dansko catalog.

I'd always just thought of Dansko as clogs for horsey people. I saw folks wearing them at the barn. Those clogs are tough enough to protect your toes if a hoof lands on your foot. That's for sure.
The standard clog
I'll grant you that they ain't cheap, but they last so long they are worth it. The very first pair I bought about 7 years ago looks great and I still wear them. And seriously, I was in so much pain at the time I would have paid just about anything to have a comfortable shoe.
Some alternative styles.
SophiaLolita in Honey Veg-TanCelina in Mushroom Nappa
Now (post the 2nd surgery) my feet are in much better shape, but I still LOVE my Danskos and wear them all the time.

How many of you are wild for Dansko? I couldn't believe I'd never thought of wearing them before the pain drove me to them. How many of you have never heard of them?