Friday, September 26, 2014

Overheard #296

"You had me at bathroom cleaner."

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Mackinac Dahlias

The gardens on Mackinac Island were also an inspiration for me. I don't have the space, sunlight or time to recreate such lavish displays, but I did get some ideas for color combinations for next spring's annuals. One of the B&Bs on Main Street had gorgeous dahlias. 

I don't grow dahlias. In Michigan, the bulbs need to be overwintered inside, and that seems like too much trouble. I am fond of the flowers at least partially because they remind me of Aunt Dahlia from the P.G. Wodehouse stories. 

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Mackinac Butterflies II

I had too much fun at the butterfly house.

another orange one
hanging by one foot

Mackinac Butterflies I

The Somewhere in Time conference included a plein air painting session with Lori McElrath Eslick. Due to inclement weather, we met in the butterfly house on Mackinac Island. I took lots of pictures and will post my favorites over two blog entries today. 

Some species of butterfly pose better than others. There was a beautiful striped green one that simply could not stop beating its wings while it slurped nectar. Some butterflies had electric blue on the tops of their wings. We could see them flying around. When they rested, they shut their wings so only the brown outsides with an eye pattern showed. We got to see a defensive mechanism in action. 

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Mackinac Meadow

I think that's a little spider. 
a touch of purple in the fall palette 
I'm probably never going to photograph a fly in perfect focus.

Mackinac Island

I just returned from SCBWI-MI’s fall conference, “Somewhere in Time,” on Mackinac Island. A huge thank you goes out to all who worked to set up this conference. I’m feeling inspired and motivated. 

My YA fantasy novel, THE WIND DJIN, won second place in the mentorship competition. My pitch for an old trunk novel, GEEK AND CAPTAIN BONZO STEEL, received positive comments from the panel of experts. I couldn't be more thrilled.

I took almost 200 pictures, and I’ll be posting a few of them over the week. Today’s selection includes the bridge that connects Michigan’s upper and lower peninsulas, the ferry and a couple lighthouses. As I sort through the pictures, I’ll post some wildflowers and insects, some dahlias and formal gardens, and butterflies from the butterfly house. Please stay tuned. 

from the ferry

funny effect through a lake water-splattered window

I was fooling around with a very deep depth of field. A different lens would have worked better. 

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Begonia Leaves and Blogging

In the fall, the sun comes through the window by these begonias around lunch time. I like the way the red undersides of the leaves light up. 

I am still unable to post comments on other blogs. I can't figure out what settings to change on this blog or how to contact Google Blogger. I'm thinking about switching to my WordPress site. If I do change, the past posts on this blog won't be transferred to WordPress because the formatting issues are likely to be gigantic. Certainly, nothing will happen before I leave for a writing conference at the end of the week. 

Friday, September 12, 2014

Note to Other Bloggers

I'm having trouble posting on several blogs. I write a comment, do the little number/word puzzle if necessary, hit post, and my words evaporate. So, to my friends on Swagger, The Writer Interview, Frog on a Dime and several others, please know I've stopped by. 

If anyone knows how to fix this problem, please let me know. 

Overheard #295

"He has a crazy brain."

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

September Dragonflies

I checked. These are dragonflies, not damselflies. 

The brick wall in the background is on the west side of the house. It catches the afternoon sun and radiates heat to warm resting insects.
Photographic evidence that a few hosta flowers escaped the deer. 
Photographing white flowers in full sun is tricky, so I fiddled a little with brightness and contrast.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014


Yesterday, an acquaintance asked me how a writer like me could have taught chemistry. I explained about my former career. She asked if I’d minored in writing, and was surprised when I told her no. The conversation got me thinking – again – about how we learn things.

We learn by teaching ourselves.

Instructors are important, often essential, to the process. They present an organized set of ideas and a logical thread to use when solving problems. Students must learn to follow that example on their own. I tutor students in math. It may help them to see me work a problem and observe steps I use, but if they can’t independently apply that technique to a different problem, they haven’t learned.  

Writing is the same. I can learn by reading how-to books, by getting feedback, and most importantly by reading. The only way to improve my writing is to teach myself. I must experiment, decide which techniques work for me, and learn how to use them effectively.

Would a formal education have improved my writing? Possibly. I certainly would have become a better writer more quickly, and I’d have an eye-catching sentence to put on query letters. 

Friday, September 5, 2014

Overheard #294

"Pi being three has pretty serious consequences."