Monday, January 31, 2011

The Ice Photo Challenge

My friend and talented photographer, TimInMich, suggested this antidote to the winter blahs. The rules are simple. Photograph ice and email the pictures to each other. The categories are:
  • Prettiest Ice
  • Best-Lit Ice
  • Cropped Ice (before and after)
  • Close-Up Ice
  • Manipulated Ice (involves human intervention)
  • Weirdest Ice
  • Melting Ice*
Tim sent me seven photos within a week of the challenge. So far, I have one photo that might qualify. Ahem.

To add to the fun, I’m posting Tim’s pictures here if and when I take a photo in the same category. Tim’s photos will go up on Wednesdays and mine will be part of my Sunday nature series**. So brew hot cocoa and stay tuned for some chilling photography.

*This was my suggestion (ever the optimist)
** Disclaimer: If I don’t manage to find photos in all the categories before spring, Words and Pixels will host a TimInMich photo expo with all of his remaining pictures.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Overheard #130

"If I’m the computer expert around here, we’re in deep digital doo-doo."

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Revision Technique

This idea came from one of my Write Night exercises. It worked well for the other participants, although I’m having a hard time with it. The technique is simple.

1. Print the manuscript or a section of it.
2. Consider how the voice could change to express a personality trait: tougher/gentler, more/less educated, warmer/colder, outgoing/reserved, aggressive/passive, confident/insecure, younger/older etc.
3. Highlight words or phrases that could be strengthened or changed to express the personality trait.
4. Consider what words or phrases that would improve the highlighted sections.
5. Revise.

Step 3 is a problem for me because I continually put down the highlighter, pick up a pen and rewrite, cross out, rewrite again. I shall persevere.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Contest Announcement

Check out this contest. The prize is a free MG or YA fiction manuscript edit from Deborah Halverson. It's a wonderful opportunity, easy to enter, and the winner will be announced soon (Feb. 1).

Sunday, January 23, 2011


crabapple fusion



the upside of freezing rain

Friday, January 21, 2011

Overheard #129

"I’m hurryin’, almost scurryin’."

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Wise Words

This morning I received some brilliant advice from Lori Van Hoesen.

"Imagine telling your story to the one you'd share any secret with, that intimacy will transmit to the reader and make them care."

This will definitely be a focus for the next draft.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Raising the Stakes

I haven’t posted much lately because I’m revising madly and critiquing a manuscript for a friend I met at a workshop. It’s got me thinking about raising the stakes. Sure it’s important to make the situation worse, to add layers of complication so that a happy ending seems impossible.

But raising the stakes is secondary to creating a character the reader cares about. The protagonist doesn’t need to save the world. He only needs to save his world, and make the reader believe this world is worth saving.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Overheard #128

"You just haven’t found the silver lining yet."

Sunday, January 9, 2011


I find water interesting. Note the little animal footprints near the top.

Yesterday afternoon I saw some ice sculptures forming above the river, but I was too late to catch the light.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Overheard #127

"Zombies are the unleavened dead."

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Civil War Code

The Washington Post ran a fascinating article on a newly deciphered Civil War message. Believe it or not, the Museum of the Confederacy had this message in a bottle since 1896, and it remained unopened, un-deciphered and unread until collections manager Catherine M. Wright decided to investigate. The other thing that amazed me was retired CIA code breaker, David Gaddy and Navy cryptologist Cmdr. John B. Hunter, solved the code by brain, not by computer. It goes to show that spies like to play as much as anybody.

The description of the Vigenere Cipher isn’t completely clear in the article. A Vigenere Cipher is not a simple substitution or Caesar cipher (a frame shift). A Vigenere Cipher is a series of shifts based on a code word or key. This makes decoding the message by frequency analysis much more complicated because the most common letter is not necessarily E. Frequency analysis is how Sherlock Holmes decoded messages in “The Adventure of the Dancing Men.

I loved finding out about this newly deciphered code. I wish the picture of the message was more legible and that they’d told us what the key was.

Thanks to Debbie Diesen for the link.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Color My World

Jeremy needed some paint for a project, and I told him I could buy it while running some other errands.

Me: What colors do you need?
Jeremy: Rainbow and silver.
Me: Rainbow paint?
Jeremy: Yeah, all the colors in the rainbow plus silver.

Monday, January 3, 2011


1. Add fun.
2. Sooner is better than later.
3. Dance.
4. Make a positive comment about my writing every day.

Sunday, January 2, 2011


This picture was taken in the early afternoon, although it looks like evening. I’d used the automatic landscape setting, and the camera compensated for the reflected light off ice and snow. To me it speaks of winter in the north woods.

I resized the image using photo editing software that came with the camera. Let me know how it looks on your screen.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy New Year!

photo by Z.F. Burton 7-4-08

I wish you health, happiness and many brilliant ideas.