Tuesday, May 31, 2011

En Route to Mordor...by car.

Okay, okay, so we're not REALLY going to Mordor. No doubt there are similarities:  hot fumes, rocky terrain, and a giant, yellow eyeball sun looming in the sky, watching your every  move. And to get there you have to pass obstacles like giant mammoths, lakes of salt, Ents, a canyon of kings, the treacherous white mountains, and a valley of death**. But at least Phoenix doesn't have any Orcs. :)

No, I'm looking forward to it. But I'm REALLY excited about the drive. We're taking the "scenic" route, depicted by that pretty purplish line below (click on the photo to enlarge...). This route is also adding 4 hours to our overall drive time, but we'll be breaking it up. We're spending one night near Mt. Whitney (west of Death Valley), and the second in Las Vegas, with lots of scenic detours in between!

There's some gorgeous countryside along the way and I'll be sure and take loads of photos. :D Assuming the weather holds...it's been a late winter for the Sierra's!

I hope to return to the blogosphere in the next few weeks. In the meantime, hope you all had a fabulous Memorial Day weekend!

**A key to aforementioned locations (links are above):
mammoths = Mammoth Lakes
lakes of salt = Mono Lake
Ents = Bristlecone Pine Forest
canyon of kings = Kings Canyon National Park
white mountains = White Mountains!
valley of death = Death Valley

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Me: Up close and...cellular!

Packing's been great! I think we've dumped about half our assets. Really, where do these things hide? Hermione must have snuck in and performed her undetectable extension charm on our closets.

Aside of all the junk and clutter, I've stumbled across some cool things, including this. When I was but a wee lab scientist in the making, I had a rotation through Cytogenetics in which I was able to harvest my cells and extract my own DNA!

So, what you're looking at is me, quite literally. There's the messy slide version, or the pretty, well-organized-chromosomal-pair version.
And please, no wise cracks about a missing 21 chromosome... :D

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Would You Read Your Own Story?

With Ben's graduation (SO proud!), I've been thinking a lot on the topic of ceremonies. Why we have them and what their purpose really is. Why we, as humans, find the need to mark the stages in our life with grand events. Graduations, weddings, showers, retirement parties, 21st birthdays, etc. Why not just do them in private and forget the big to-do? Are the ceremonies really necessary?

I believe they're critical in understanding who we are.

If you look at your life as one giant, multifaceted medieval castle (yes, I have a fascination with castles), with leaning towers and hidden staircases (and trolls with oversized heads), those ceremonies are like the huge, wooden doors to each room. Sort of like an access point. It's a marker for our brain, a way to remember the significance of a certain point, to quantify a stage in our life, and stuff it full with appropriate memories. It marks the end of one chapter, and beginning of the next. They are the binder tabs for quick reference to a very, very detailed chapter. Without them, our life sort of blurs together and those events turn into a blob of homogenous green goop. But even more importantly, they outline who we are.

We are a culmination of our life experiences. And the way they all fit together is our story. Each is unique to us, each has its own voice, its own supporting cast, its own setting. Each has its own villain, its own mystery. Some are so exciting we live on the edge of our seats, some are filled with things that go bump in the night (I don't like those kinds), and some still are content to have none of these and spend their evenings watching birds (*clears throat*)...

It's the very same with the characters we write. There should be visible markers along the way, of progress and/or regress. A way to track a character arc. Show the "ceremonies" of society and how our characters interact with them if you really want to know who they are. Do they graduate or not? Does your world even have graduation ceremonies? Do they marry or does your culture not recognize it? These little markers, however you use them, are items we can attribute to "character", and it helps us understand what kind of person your character is. The ceremonies you use may or may not be the traditional sort, and the way you do them may be totally out of order.

The more I write, the more parallels I seem to find between my MC and my own life. Not that I'm on some grand adventure (though many times it feels like that), but realizing our MC's aren't the only ones with a story to tell. We do, too. We all have a beginning and an end, and lots of pages in between with little ceremonial tabs to mark the chapters. It is our legacy. So then my question is, do you like what you're reading?

Also, for you writers, do you employ the idea of ceremonies in your world-building?

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Flying over the Sierras...

...is one of the most unique and interesting of flights! I love seeing the Earth's changing topography, and this particular flight shows off some of the most drastic.

Below that lovely airplane wing is the Sierra Mountain range. It houses Mt. Whitney, the highest summit in the contiguous United States with a height of 14,505 ft (4,421 m for my metric friends :D ). And just 85 miles northwest is the lowest point in North America, Badwater in Death Valley National Park at a DElevation (no, that's not really a word) of -282 ft, or -86m.

Our dear pilot flew us over the Sierras, Death Valley, Hoover Dam and Lake Mead, and we landed in Phoenix. Ben and I will be making that drive in a few weeks *wipes brow*. At that point I hope to share some photos from a different perspective...the ground.

One thing I always contemplate while flying is perspective. Everything seems so small and insignificant from the air - even mountain peaks like Mt Whitney. But when you're down in the thick of it, you see things like Mt Whitney as a looming, impassable obstacle.

It also reminds me of the stories we write - omniscient vs first person POV. Overall story arcs vs the little chapters and skirmishes along the way. And why it's so important to step back and see the/your world as a whole, and appreciate how magnificent and complex it is. You can't understand what makes Death Valley a "deadly" desert without realizing the highest mountain peak in the US is right beside it, blocking it's rain :)

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Hot Bloggers!..amidst other things...

Hello everyone!

It's been a crazy week(s) and, unfortunately, my blog has suffered for it. No time to post and read and comment on all of your wonderful posts. :( Please forgive me! Moving and transitioning between jobs is catching up with me. Thought I'd let you know that I haven't fallen in a hole somewhere, nor have I been held hostage by my characters (though they've tried...they're sorely neglected at the moment).

Aside of all things crazy, I wanted to say "thanks" to Kristine Asselin over at Writing. For Real. for giving me this very HOT award... *sweats*

And now I shall pass it onward to some great friends and followers!

Christine Arnold
PK Hrezo
T.D. McFrost
Julie Tuovi
Sari Webb
Alex Azar

Happy writing & blogging, and I hope to join you all again soon!

Monday, May 2, 2011

3D Street Art by Edgar Mueller

Something unique for you today...

Sure, you've seen street art. But you haven't seen how Edgar Mueller of Germany uses the street as a canvas. (Or maybe you are one of the lucky few!) He travels all over Europe, gracing the public with his extraordinary talent. If you stand in the right spot, his three-dimensional paintings become an optical illusion.

I just thought these were so incredible...I had to share them. See for yourself!

I don't know about you, but I'd probably drive into oncoming
traffic to avoid this...

***If you like YA Fantasy, check out my book, GAIA'S SECRET. The sequel is coming soon!

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