Sunday, July 26, 2015

The Best Pictures I Never Took

Have you ever had one of those encounters where someone wounds you with a cutting remark, and you’re tongue-tied? You know they’re wrong, that you should be able to defend yourself, but you can’t think of anything to say that doesn’t make it worse. Then later your think of the perfect comeback? I know I have. One of the perks of writing fiction is the ability to use these moments, to rewrite life so that this time, I come out on top. And in my writing, I can capture other missed opportunities.

Photography is a long-time hobby of mine. My father taught me to use a twin-lens reflex camera with manual focus and light settings. It produced a 2 1/4 inch square negative that made developing and printing a breeze. But I missed a lot of shots trying to adjust the focus and aperture/shutter speed on that camera. Besides, the thing was huge, not something you’d carry around casually. Nowadays, the high-quality camera in my cell phone means I can snap a picture whenever something catches my interest, but I still miss some great opportunities.

Chugach Range
I once saw a double rainbow stretched across the Chugach range, but by the time I grabbed a camera, it was gone. Just imagine the photo here, but with green instead of snow and a double rainbow above it. 

One autumn night, a harvest moon had just risen above the almost bare white branches in a grove of birch trees when a raven flew by. For just an instant, the shape of the soaring bird was silhouetted against the golden moon. I still feel a shiver when I remember it.

On a corner I drive by frequently, a man sells moose planters he makes in his workshop. He usually has a half-dozen or so in various sizes displayed on his lawn. One day when I was passing, a real bull moose crossed the road in front of me and stopped to sniff one of the moose planters. Now that would have been a great photo.

There are so many others: the bumblebee on the fuchsia flower, the laughing face of a child on a sled, the glimpse of an old bridge, visible for two seconds from a busy highway. These photo ops will never come again, but it’s okay because I can use them in my writing. I can paint a picture based on what I’ve seen and share it with my readers.

Are there pictures you wish you’d taken? Things you wish you’d said? Will they end up in a story?

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Cover Dogs

I believe I've mentioned a time or two that I love dogs, both real and fictional.  Some of my earliest memories of reading involve dogs. The dog in my first grade reader was named Tip. I don't remember the names of the children in the story.

Old YellerSavage Sam,White Fang, The Call of the Wild, and Where The Red Fern Grows were all favorites I read again and again. 

I'm still a sucker for a good dog story. Five of the six stories in my Choices series feature dogs as significant characters. So do three other stories I've written since, but so far, none of my dogs has made it to the cover of a book. 

Eventually, that has to change, because I'm suffering from cover envy. I look at the beautiful covers like the ones below, and I want one. I have an idea percolating in the back of my mind right now involving a pair of inseparable dogs who will bring two people together who normally wouldn't have given one another a second glance. That one is up next to be written, once I'm done with my current WIPs.

 That's one of the ways I motivate myself when the writing process bogs down and I feel like I'm slogging through the manuscript. Just keep writing everyday, and before long I'll have a first draft. Then I can rewrite and edit and polish until I have a story. And once that one is done, I'll have another fun story waiting in the wings to be written. 

And someday, I'll get an adorable cover dog, too.