Is a Thousand Words

Still the Value of a Picture?

By Jeff Salter

Topic: Looking at the photos on your phone (or camera, if you still use one), what place or type of event do you tend to photograph most often?

Some background / context before I attempt to respond to the actual topic:

In my household (as I was growing up), the only camera we had was one of those 1940s box cameras with the parallax mirror — you looked DOWN into the camera to see what the lens was going to depict in FRONT of you. Usually the framing was whacked and the pre-set focus was typically awful. Furthermore, we never had a flash attachment (so indoor pix were kaput)!

Consequently, when I was between my sophomore & junior years (high school), I bought a cheap – all I could afford – Kodak Hawkeye camera, so I could take my OWN pix and actually SEE what I was filming (through the viewfinder). Since it had a built-in flash (which required me to insert a small bulb before I used it), I was able to take far better photos, with much more detail, than had ever been possible (by me) with that old, clunky box camera. However, it still did NOT have any adjustable focus or variable shutter speed.

This is quite like I remember my own camera

I was a real shutterbug that summer (1966) – and thereafter – because it was MY camera and I could take it anywhere I wanted. These were the days when you used actual FILM, had to leave the exposed film at the drug store, they shipped it – by bus, I think – to New Orleans (where it was developed and printed), it was bussed back, and the drug store called you to say your pix were in. It was costly, time-consuming, and you never knew if your photos “came out” until you opened the envelope and flipped through the prints. [Often there would be a print of an empty frame, or a double exposure, or something completely out of focus because somebody’s hand jerked when snapping the shutter.]

I used that camera for a year or so. Not sure exactly why, but during my senior year, I don’t recall taking any / many photos with it. Hmmm. At any rate, it did not accompany me out of state for my freshman college year.

Step up to 35mm

Fast-forward to the summer of 1969 (after my first college year), when I got a job with a local daily newspaper in Hammond LA. They taught me how to use their Honeywell Pentax Spotmatic SLR 35mm… and I also learned how to develop the B&W film in their darkroom, and print only the frames we needed. With the enlarger, I also had the ability to crop the print to fit what the editor wanted.

I took lots of photos for that paper – and a few for personal use – and for the weekly paper I moved to the following year. Then, in the military, I worked on three different base publications, where I also was a photo-journalist and editor. In all, at least 100 of my bylined photos were published, in addition to many that went to press without my byline.

Along the way, I finally purchased my own 35mm camera (at the base exchange) — Mamiya-Sekor 1000 DTL. Used that for both work (Air Force) and family photos. Sold that camera before I shipped overseas, knowing I could purchase a discounted upgrade when I reached my new duty station. There (in Greenland) I purchased an Asahi Pentax Spotmatic II in 35 mm… and eventually collected a few additional lenses.

For a few years after my military hitch, I’d take occasional pix of the kids, but eventually, I just lost interest in camera work. For one thing, those were very LEAN years (economically) and the cost of film, processing, and prints was just one luxury we had to do without. One additional problem was that I didn’t have a reliable flash attachment for indoor work.

The Age of Digital Photoraphy

It wasn’t long afterward that FILM-based cameras were obviously on the way out. The other HUGE development (over my Pentax) was the ability to let the camera AUTOMATICALLY adjust both the focus and the shutter speed (vis-à-vis light conditions). Our daughter had the first digital camera, I think… and my wife soon followed with one of her own. From that point forward, there were enough digital photos being snapped that my trusty (manually-adjustable) Pentax was basically obsolete and completely neglected. Shortly before I retired and relocated (2006) I finally sold my Pentax, the extra lenses, and whatever else I had in that camera bag to a friend whose daughter was interested in “old-timey” photography.

Now, my actual response to this week’s topic

All that was simply to bring y’all up to speed — how my photographic interests started, what it went through, and how it waned.

Now the issue is: what have I recently taken pictures of?

The short answer is “not much.”

Usually whenever family shots are to be taken, there are at least two other people with fancy phones snapping pix. Rarely is there a need for me to get involved.

Furthermore, until last autumn, I had an older model phone (3G) which COULD take photos… but I had difficulty working it. And it was a hassle to transfer images from that old phone to my email… where I could make use of them.

[Before last autumn – and the 3G /4G switchover – I had a little cheapo Canon digital rig that stored images on a SIM card. To make use of them, I’d have to remove the card, insert it into my PC tower drive, then upload the images, etc. I had little control over the resolution… or much of anything else.]

New Horizon — phone camera

It’s only been a few months since I’ve finally joined the rest of youse guys… in shooting pix with my cell phone. Things changed a lot when our phone carrier forced me to “upgrade” to 4G and I received my wife’s “old” phone. Now I can snap my own images, easily send them to my email addy, and quickly upload them to my PC hard-drive.

But what do I photograph now?

A lot of it has been pieces of my fairly extensive collection of military gear, uniforms, and miscellaneous. Over the past couple of years, I’ve been downsizing that collection… selling items here and there. Anything I try to sell must have enough pictures to show its features and condition.

I also shoot photos of Bojangles and Mister – our pets – and various scenes around the farm.

Other than those – unless I’m somewhere without my wife (and her phone camera) – I don’t typically have much need to take my own pix.

Seems a shame to turn my back on all those previous years – professional, amateur, and personal – as a photographer… but these days I’m far more occupied using those THOUSAND WORDS that each picture would otherwise convey.

Question:

What about YOU? Do you snap a lot of photos? On your cell phone, presumably… but what do you shoot?

[JLS # 603]

Posted in art, author's life, hobbies, Jeff Salter, memories, Random thoughts | Tagged , , , | 15 Comments

Pictures, Pictures, Pictures

Looking at the photos on your phone (or camera, if you still use one), what place or type of event do you tend to photograph most often? 

I have to confess that I haven’t taken many pictures lately. I see people snapping shots all the time, but unless it’s something really nice I usually just let it go. One reason for this may be the fact that the camera on my phone works well, but it’s really hard to retrieve the pictures. I’ve had several people look at it, and no one can figure it out. I can look at them on my phone, but it’s super hard to share them with others.

I expected that most of the pictures would be of my grandchildren, and several years ago that was true. However, as time passed I’ve taken fewer pictures of them unless it’s in a special context such as a holiday.

I do take lots of pictures on vacation. Some of them turn out well. I’ve watched our family grow and age just by looking at vacation pictures. I do promise that there will never be another vacation picture of me in a bathing suit, though.

I have lots of pictures of my pets. They’re all so cute, and when they do something funny or sweet I grab for my phone. You can’t tell a dog or cat to stay still so I miss a lot of nice shots.

If you go just by quantity I think I’ve taken more pictures of the holidays than anything else. With everybody together I make sure to take plenty of pictures. I like to take pictures of my Christmas decorations too. I do more for Christmas than any other holiday. I used to decorate for all of them, but it’s just too hard to do now. That’s a shame because I have some beautiful Easter decorations.

What about you? Do you take lots of pictures during the holidays?

Posted in Miscellaneous | 6 Comments

Hardly Any Really

This week we’re talking about photos. I hate to admit that I do not take as many pictures as I used to which is strange considering that I have a camera on my phone and it is always with me. My phone is rather slow so by the time that I get my camera to open what I wanted to take a picture of has already passed.

I used to carry a camera with me nearly everywhere when my children were little. I loved taking photographs of them. I especially loved black and white photos. I think there is something romantic and nostalgic about black and white photos. When my digital camera broke I wasn’t able to replace it. A few years later I purchased a 35 mm camera but it is a little bulky to carry around all the time. I tend to use it for special occasions.

I was searching through my camera roll on my phone and found that it is mostly filled with Wyatt and Jessica. Wyatt likes to take my phone to take goofy selfies for me to discover later. They usually crack me up at just the right time. Jessica is usually snuggled up to a cat in pictures of her.

There are a few pictures of things that I see at the store that I think my kids will like or things that I want to try to make. Of course there are some screenshots of recipes that I want to try as well.

But really I think my gallery on my phone only has about 30 pictures in it.

Do you take a lot of photos?

Posted in Miscellaneous | 5 Comments

Yes, I’m a Shutterbug

At a recent scrapbooking retreat

This week’s topic is one I suggested: Looking at the photos on your phone (or camera, if you still use one), what place or type of event do you tend to photograph most often?

I’ve been an avid scrapbooker for over twenty-five years, and I love going through the pictures I’ve taken. Now that I’ve upgraded to a phone that takes great pictures as well as video, I take even more photos than I did before. So recently, I took stock of the pictures I’ve taken during the past few years. Here’s what I found.

Things that are NOT in my pictures:

  • Unless it’s a special meal someone made for me, or something that’s really unusual, I don’t take pictures of what I’m eating.
  • I’m not much for selfies, but after looking through albums I realized that I’m not IN any of these pictures, so lately I’ve been attempting to take them more often. There are hundreds of pictures from my trips to London, Paris, the Greek islands, and Tokyo, but I’m in very few. In addition to bad selfies, I’ve gotten better about handing my phone to someone and asking for a picture to prove “I was there.” 

Things that ARE in my photos:

  • My activities, such as band and orchestra concerts, scrapbooking retreats, and writer events such as book signings and workshops I attend.
  • My kids’ and grandkids’ activities. I’ve always made it a point to attend as many of their activities as possible: band, choir, all sports, theater, whatever. Among my nine grandkids, I’m known as “the grandma who always takes pictures.” 
  • Places I go and unusual things I see: For a while after retiring, I took a major trip every other year, but the pandemic and my husband’s health issues put a stop to that. Now, I look forward to short road trips and weekend gatherings, such as my three day road trip to Shipshewana, Indiana.
  • Screenshots of things I see on the internet also appear in my photo files. Sometimes I share them, and sometimes I pull them up just for a laugh.

But to answer the original question about what appears most often, I’d have to say that honor goes to my two youngest grandkids. They live closest to me, and I’m often called upon to take care of them. And in between babysitting calls, I look for places to take them. They enjoy going to plays and concerts as well as the usual kid stuff. I’m blessed. I try to take pictures so that when I’m at the point where I can’t go, or they grow up and move on, I’ll have the pictures to remind me of the fun times.

Posted in author's life, blessings, Daily life, Family, hobbies, Life, Patricia Kiyono | Tagged , , | 10 Comments

Review: The Rosie Project

With all that has been going on in the world, (and I watch a lot of different news sources), with what is going on with the family, (it changes by hour), and with what is going on with my new and old health problems, I looked for something light-hearted to listen to as I did things slowly around the house.

“The Rosie Project” came up on YouTube as a recommendation.

Although I do not agree with everything that is held in opinion in this book, our difference are mentioned very lightly,(and indeed, one is treated with more respect than when the subject was introduced). I would say this story is rated PG-13. It’s pretty discreet with just a little ‘talk’, and really no swearing.

I laughed out loud right away,
and did so quite a number of times through the book.

We meet Don Tillman, an Australian college professor, a geneticist, who was just asked by his only real friend and fellow professor to give a talk on Asperger’s Syndrome. It is obvious that Don could easily be diagnosed with this condition. He doesn’t see it in himself, and when asked if this reminded him of anyone, he mentions another professor in another department.

The story is told in Don’s POV. Don is so clueless and Obsessive-Compulsive that you have to laugh as to how matter of fact he takes his life, his self-imposed regulations, and his compulsions.

Don’s professor friend is a terrible womanizer. Don doesn’t approve, but decides that he is going to believe that if it works for Gene and his wife, Claudia, who is he to worry about it? He thinks that he shouldn’t have feelings about it.
Gene and Claudia are psychologists. Claudia counsels Don, but does so as a friend, and she tells her husband everything, since there is no client-counselor confidentiality. She thinks that Gene, as Don’s friend, can help him.

How much does she really know about Gene is a question that comes to mind. How much of her husband’s behavior is really okay with her is another.

In the course of the story, we find that Don realized at a young age that he was ‘different’. He believes that he has a disconnect to people, but we hear his thoughts and know that it is not completely true, even though he seems unable to understand when the Dean asks him to please tone down his black -and-white, wrong-and-right, views of the world in dealing with students of different beliefs and cultures.

Don shows great sympathy for an older woman neighbor who has had to put her husband in a nursing home. He befriends her and shows her incredible kindnesses. He enjoys her company. He realizes that he has gained a lot from her. When she also succumbs to Alzheimer’s, goes into the nursing home and ceases to recognize him when he visits, in his logic he simply stops the visits, but he takes her words to heart: she had told him that he would make a good husband.

Don tries online dating. He makes up his own detailed, (and impossible to meet), requirements on a questionnaire, which he actually hands to women. Don and Claudia try to get him to lighten up, but without much success. Gene sends to him a young woman named Rosie whom Don considers very unsuitable right away, but he finds her situation compelling. She wants to know who her biological father is. Gene, as a geneticist, can handle that.

In the meantime, he hasn’t completely stopped “The Wife Project”, but now “The Rosie Project” takes up most of his thoughts and time.

Frankly, I thought that I saw how this would end right away, both with Don and with Rosie’s project. (I did get thrown a curve for a while.)

What happens, how they accomplish narrowing down of the father-suspects, their crazy schemes for surreptitiously collecting DNA samples, Don’s continued search for wifely candidates and his problems with his college and students, is all terribly amusing.

You gotta love Don, and as unusual as it seems, I liked Gene, Claudia, Rosie and the Dean.

Trying not to give spoilers here is difficult. If they would bother you, skip to the next break.

We watch as Don realizes that he isn’t as disconnected as he, (and possibly the attitude of others), have convinced him that he is, and we see what Don doesn’t want to admit that he sees: Rosie isn’t quite as free a spirit that she seems to be.
Don also realizes that he gains more control by loosening up and letting himself be himself, and not live in the parameters which he and others’ opinions had made him form about himself. He then helps his friends as much, if not more, than they have helped him.

Whether those are spoilers or not, whether you see on your own what is coming or not, I think that you will laugh and be a bit touched while you get to know and love Don and Rosie as I did with Graeme Simsion’s “The Rosie Project”.

I heard that there was a movie made of this. I have no intention of trying to watch it. I will, however, seek out more works of Graeme Simsion, the author.

[FYI, I listened to Simon and Schuster’s version read by Dan O’Grady, which is read with a clear, but soft, Australian accent. It contains the original British/Australian terms. It’s easy enough to understand, although I heard that they changed some of the wording in Americanized versions. As in Harry Potter, they changed “jumper” to “sweater”, and the term “wanker” is used, but I have no idea what they substituted for it in the American reading. Although this word had quite a vulgar beginning, it is a common enough phrase which now pretty much means “loser”, as now few Americas blanch at the phrase that something “sucks”.]

Posted in America, audiobooks, authors, book review, Books, characters, contemporary, Daily life, Dealing with stress, Family, foreign languages, foreign publications, friends, Friendship, helping others, imagination, inspiration, inspirational stories, medical, Miscellaneous, movies, Random thoughts, reader interview, reading, teaching, Tonette Joyce, using talents | Tagged , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

The Streets of Shadow

By Leslie McFarlane

Reviewed by Jeff Salter

Though Leslie McFarlane published uncountable adult [meaning “NOT juvenile”] stories in magazines and papers – including several novel-length pieces that were serialized – this is the only adult title I could find that was later released as a complete monograph. Originally appearing by installments in Munsey’s Magazine during 1929, this was later published in early 1930 by Dutton. It was certainly the most successful of McFarlane’s adult novels, going through three printings.

My copy was republished in 2018 by Fiction House Press and features the original artwork which accompanied the magazine installments in 1929. I wish more of McFarlane’s adult novels survived in monographic form.

For those of you who do NOT know, McFarlane was the first – and most critics agree – the best of the ghost writers [collectively, Franklin W. Dixon] for the venerable Hardy Boys series. Working from outlines supplied by the Stratemeyer Syndicate, McFarlane wrote 20 of the first 26 HB titles — thereby bringing to life the characters, settings, and tone of most of the titles that followed in that franchise’s lengthy publishing history. [NOTE: all of the first 36 HB titles – including McFarlane’s 20 – were drastically revised and shortened beginning in 1959. So if you’ve only read a “newer” version of these old titles, you haven’t truly experienced the full flavor of McFarlane’s writing artistry.

And the “full flavor” is what we see in The Streets of Shadow — McFarlane’s novel for adults. What sets apart this adult fiction title is that McFarlane worked from his OWN plot outline, with his OWN characters and settings.

It’s a marvelous detective tale, set in Montreal [Canada] some hundred years ago. The characters – whether civilized or sinister – are fully drawn and the settings are vividly depicted. After the plot shifts into high gear, the suspense becomes intense.

Central to this story are two murders, for which an ex-con [Hinkey Lewis] is framed. Attorney Michael Brent agrees to defend him, but Lewis was caught at the scene of one crime after interacting with the victim and a cop a few minutes prior to that murder. Case closed. And he’s linked to the other murder elsewhere.

What can Attorney Brent do with such a hopeless defense? Well, he has to find the real killer or killers, of course. For that, he must prowl around the seedy criminal underbelly of Montreal society with danger on every dark, shadowy corner. During this investigation, Brent happens upon a beautiful maiden [Norah], just arrived from England after her mother’s death. It’s too complicated to explain here, but Norah traveled here believing her step-father [Midge Tapley] was in good stead. Imagine her horror to discover Midge not only lives in a trashy flop house, but he’s a flunky for a small time crime boss [Raoul Laboeuf].

Once Brent encounters Norah, he can’t get her out of his mind… and as things develop, he suspects she’s in dangerous proximity to Laboeuf and his nefarious activity… possibly including those two recent murders.

Should Brent descend into this seamy Montreal ghetto alone and unarmed? No!

Does he go anyway? Yes.

All in service to his innocent client [Hinkey] and in search of the lovely maiden [Norah].

To relate much more would spoil a dandy detective tale that rivals the travails of Sam Spade, the Saint, the Falcon, Mike Hammer, and other Private Eyes of that literary generation. Suffice it to say that Brent gets himself into inescapable danger. How he copes and if he survives leaves the reader guessing… and I’m usually pretty good at figuring out the whodunnit and howdunnit.

I especially liked two of the supporting characters: Minton (Brent’s dutiful and insightful clerk, advisor, and confidant) and Dryborough (owner of a second-hand book shop and Brent’s regular drinking buddy). It’s through interactions with these two that we learn a lot about Brent and his new murder case… details that would otherwise likely unfold in dreary exposition.

Two caveats:

1. There’s a lot of slang – 1920s Montreal criminal culture – that takes some getting use to. For example: a watch that’s stolen and hocked is called a “turnip.”

2. In the beginning several chapters I found Attorney Brent to be rather UN-likeable. He was far too cocky and lazy … and he knowingly took advantage of his long-suffering clerk, Minton. But by the middle of the book, I was rooting for him anyhow.

Highly recommended if you enjoy good hard-boiled detective adventures. Additionally recommended — just so you can experience the writing craft of McFarlane when he’s working with his own characters, settings, and plots… and aiming for an adult audience. It’s terrific.

[jLS # 602]

Posted in Miscellaneous | 6 Comments

Book Review: She’s Up To No Good

Blurb:

For two women generations apart, going home will change their lives in this funny, poignant, and life-affirming novel about family, secrets, and broken hearts by the author of For the Love of Friends.

Four years into her marriage, Jenna is blindsided when her husband asks for a divorce. With time on her hands and her life in flux, she agrees to accompany her eccentric grandmother Evelyn on a road trip to the seaside Massachusetts town where much of their family history was shaped.

When they hit the road, Evelyn spins the tale of the star-crossed teenage romance that captured her heart more than seventy years ago and changed the course of her life. She insists the return to her hometown isn’t about that at all—no matter how much she talks about Tony, her unforgettable and forbidden first love.

Upon arrival, Jenna meets Tony’s attentive great-nephew Joe. The new friendship and fresh ocean air give her the confidence and distance she needs to begin putting the pain of a broken marriage behind her.

As the secrets and truths of Evelyn’s past unfold, Jenna discovers a new side of her grandmother, and of herself, that she never knew existed—and learns that the possibilities for healing can come at the most unexpected times in a woman’s life.

My Review:

This book was part of the Kindle First Reads program for either June of July. I can’t remember which. Anyway, I didn’t see anything that especially appealed to me so I took a chance on this book, and I’m glad I did.

I’ve never gone through a divorce, but I can understand how life can beat someone down until they’re incapable of moving on. That’s the point where Jenna is at in her life when her grandmother Evelyn demands that she take her to the Massachusetts seaside town where she was born. I thought this was probably going to a whole book about a road trip, but it wasn’t. Lots of the story took place after they got to Massachusetts.

The book is set in the 1950s and the present. Evelyn tells the story of a past love in the 1950s while Jenna talks about the present. One chapter will be from Jenna’s viewpoint, the next from Evelyn’s.

I liked both of them, especially Evelyn. She was a true free spirit who almost always lived her life the way she wanted to. There was one exception, though, and he’s part of the reason she came home. Evelyn is the one who pushes Jenna out of the rut she’s fallen into since her husband asked for a divorce.

There was some nice humor in the book that I think you’d like. I also think you’d like the lessons Evelyn imparted to Jenna with the story of her ill fated romance in the fifties. She grounds Jenna and teaches her to move on and love again.

It’s a nice read that I enjoyed very much. Do you think you’d like it?

Posted in Miscellaneous | 6 Comments

Under the Tulip Tree

This week I decided to post a review for a book that recently made me cry. Recently I have been in the mood for historical books. I suppose that a lot of it is that I am so tired of all the ugliness that is going on in our world today. It is nice to have an escape and to be able to time travel a little bit. I had just finished reading a series by Janette Oke that I had picked up at my favorite used book store and had another one of her series that I had downloaded to my tablet but I wanted something a little different to read in between. I came across a book that was recommended on Goodreads called Under the Tulip Tree by Michelle Shocklee, I had never head of this author before but the book sounded great. Here’s the blurb…

Sixteen-year-old Lorena Leland’s dreams of a rich and fulfilling life as a writer are dashed when the stock market crashes in 1929. Seven years into the Great Depression, Rena’s banker father has retreated into the bottle, her sister is married to a lazy charlatan and gambler, and Rena is an unemployed newspaper reporter. Eager for any writing job, Rena accepts a position interviewing former slaves for the Federal Writers’ Project. There, she meets Frankie Washington, a 101-year-old woman whose honest yet tragic past captivates Rena.

As Frankie recounts her life as a slave, Rena is horrified to learn of all the older woman has endured—especially because Rena’s ancestors owned slaves. While Frankie’s story challenges Rena’s preconceptions about slavery, it also connects the two women whose lives are otherwise separated by age, race, and circumstances. But will this bond of respect, admiration, and friendship be broken by a revelation neither woman sees coming?

This book captivated me. I was so emotionally invested in it that I found myself staying up late into the night and falling asleep reading just so I could find out what happened next. I kept a box of tissues near me and found that I often needed it while Frankie was telling Rena all about her life as a slave. This book is absolutely powerful. It doesn’t sugarcoat anything. It tells the truth about what happened during a dark point in our nation’s history. While reading this story I could see how there were attitudes of “it’s in the past, just leave it there.” then and I know that that attitude is still very much present in our world today. But we can’t leave things like this in the past. Just because something is unpleasant does not mean it should not be taught, discussed, and shared. If we never talk about it then how in the world are we ever going to learn about it and keep from making the same mistakes again? Ms. Shocklee did an absolutely wonderful job with this book, it is well researched and each and every one of the characters is well developed. You didn’t ever feel like someone was just dumped into the story to fill a space.

I’m buying a physical copy of the book and will be having Wyatt read it for school. I do enjoy historical novels but so many of the ones that I read are romance. This book while it has a hint of romance isn’t anything like what I am used to. If this book isn’t already it really needs to be added to high school reading lists.

Have you read a book lately that made you emotional?

Posted in Miscellaneous | 4 Comments

Guest Author: Sarah Westill and Nicole Zoltak

This month I’m featuring two more of the thirteen authors who joined me in the paranormal romance anthology Gateways to the Paranormal. Sarah Westill, author of the story “Frozen Flowers Fallen” is already known to many of us as the talented cover designer Elaina Lee. Under this newest pen name, she’s written a series of books called Gen-Heirs: The Guardians of Sziveria. “Frozen Flowers Fallen” is apparently a companion story to the series. Nicole Zoltak is a prolific author in several different genres, all while raising six young children! Her story in the anthology is called “Love’s Fortune.” I asked both ladies to share their inspiration for the story in the new anthology, so we’ll get a double treat this month!

****

Let’s Start with Sarah. Here’s the blurb for her story “Frozen Flowers Fallen”: In a country obsessed with genetically inherited gifts, Bella Fenwick is no one special. Then a handsome Ruthenian walks into her life, a wolf at his side. He won’t let Bella hide behind her desk and discredit the evidence she’s discovered that could help him find a murderer.

Here’s what Sarah had to say about her story:

My fictional main characters Bella and Markus came to me as a fun idea when I met their son, Deklan, in course of writing my current The Guardians of Sziveria series. Through Deklan I learned this couple had been very blessed in their union and he was one of eleven children. I also knew, through their oldest son, Darius, that they’d been very involved in solving murder crimes as a team. Their children however, were far more powerful in their paranormal abilities than either of them, which begged the question, how did their story begin?

I’d been toying around with the idea of serial series following the same couple for over a year, but I wasn’t sure who would be a good fit. The anthology gave me the push I needed to decide, and to start, Bella and Markus’s journey. They come from different countries and different cultures, and learning about them has been so much fun for me as I world build. 

As for their first story itself, “Frozen Flowers Fallen,” the inspiration came to me from a song. Specifically Type O Negative’s “Burnt Flowers Fallen.” Now, I should caution listeners about the band (which name probably gives a lot of what one can expect from them, ha!), they are a dark, gothic rock style. “Burnt Flowers Fallen” tells the story of a man who has lost the love of his woman, and in the process of their disintegrating relationship, she burns all the flowers he’s ever given her. I loved the idea of flowers being the catalyst to a story. Instead of burning, the flowers are frozen. And instead of a woman leaving a man, I have a secret stalker who obsesses over his victims by leaving them flowers. The eventual death of his gift is what spirals him into taking their lives. 

I have had such a wonderful time creating Bella and Markus’s relationship. So much that I’ve been struggling to write two of their children’s stories, which will finish out the Guardians series. I have to keep reminding myself they aren’t going anywhere, and I can write them for years to come if I wish, as eleven kids means a full, happy marriage! *grin*

****

Here’s the blurb for Nicole’s story, “Love’s Fortune: Elizabeth needs a job, but being a fortune-teller for a traveling circus seems iffy.

Nicole says:

What little kid doesn’t think at one point about running away to the circus? I’m not a little kid anymore—I have six of my own now! Three boys (13, 12, 10) and now three girls (6, 2.5, and almost 2 months)

It was because one of my boys mentioned the circus to me one day, thankfully not with plans to run away to join them, that made me think of the idea of a circus that had a paranormal slant. A lion shifter was the first thing I thought of, and it was from expanding on this idea that my short story, Love’s Fortune, came about! Can you imagine being an ordinary young woman, getting a job at a traveling circus, and then learning that the circus is far more extraordinary than you ever could have thought possible?

To read “Frozen Flowers Fallen” along with thirteen other great stories, order Gateways to the Paranormal at Amazon!

Posted in author interview, book series, characters, fantasy, futuristic, Guest author, Guest author post, paranormal, Patricia Kiyono, romance | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Top Spots

Do you have favorite spots in nature, such as a view, the wood, a sea or lake shore?

(I am rather sorry that this topic/post rather overlaps with one just a couple of weeks ago.)

The ocean was generally my favorite spot in nature, whether sitting watching the waves, floating around in them, or on a boat, going to corners of islands where there were no other people, picking up driftwood, shells, nice rocks.

 It’s been far too long since I have done that, though.

I used to love to go to all of the small parks around where I lived, especially since most has at least a spring, (if not bigger water). I always found them peaceful.

In Colorado, we used to go to the mountains very, very often. If a month went by and we didn’t go, it was unusual. We had several places which we liked to go and since we went on weekdays,  we often had the places to ourselves, whether it was among great rock outcrops, scrub pines, mountains with trees, or above the timberline, in great weather or in cold wind. The mountain lakes in the Summer, with its mountain flowers and small animals were fantastic…it’s been a long time since those, as well.

Even in Denver and the busy suburbs, we had a number of parks that were unusual as there would be beautiful hidden ones with an incredible number of birds and animals right in majorly populated areas.

Here, we don’t get out and about. There is very little public land and we don’t travel anywhere near as much. We stopped when The Sons were in Scouts and I went to some when they were still Cubs, but The Husband took over when the travels got farther and the activities got crazier,(rock climbing, repelling, white-water kayaking!). There is a lovely large ‘forest’ about 20 miles or so away, but it is built  up, and popular. It is planted with unusual trees, plants, and flowers. There are hiking trains and walking trails but I simply don’t get there as often. It can be crowded, and I am not up to hiking around like I used to.

It is still fairly rural here. There are places that I pass all the time which have yet to be built up and are lovely. When the trees are in leaf, like now, it is incredible how many shades of green  there are and how very many different shapes of leaves and trees there are, in fact, I commented on it again this week, just going to the grocery store about six miles from my house.

In the Spring, we have many trees that blossom, which is also lovely, as many grow along the sides of the roads.

However, the one thing this place, and the yard which we had when I was 13-19, is that there is a line of trees and plants between the house and the fence line in the backyard, and in the place in between, where there is a canopy of trees, it is so very peaceful. Different plants grow there, it is often quite quiet.

(It’s peaceful, unless the neighbor’s chickens get through the fence!)

I even can see much of it from my large, glass back door and the matching window next to it, although it is nice to just be under there.
I also see our other spots which are much overgrown, which are havens to birds, bunnies, chipmunks  and occasional raccoons, possums, woodchucks and maybe even a skunk or so. We have snake visitors and skinks, although generally, I only see snakeskins for proof of those.

I miss other places like the ocean, but I find beauty and peace where I can.

Posted in chicken, Daily life, Dealing with stress, descriptions, experiences, Family, imagination, Life, memories, Random thoughts, Tonette Joyce, Travel | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments