June 29, 2013

Novels and Ships

So instead of blogging yesterday...

...I worked on my novel.

Which looked kind of like doing Internet research on ships.

I found one that might end up in my final draft. It was known as a packet ship of the Black Ball Line, active from 1817-1878.

Cool, huh? Fast, spacious, well-armed. I won't tell you what it's for, but let's just say it's making a cameo in this book so it can possibly reappear in the sequel.

And here's a snippet of what I was working on yesterday:

Ellie took the pen and let it hover above the page. Fill the words with light. Where on earth to start? She closed her eyes, remembering the story. Instead of curly black letters, she saw sailors fleeing from giant waves, a salty hurricane of spray overwhelming them. But then the clouds broke, and the white gull came wheeling down in a shaft of late golden light. The fearsome waves were turned to turquoise mountain peaks, capped with snowy foam--and gilded with light like the Legend in her visions. She dabbed her pen in the dish of blue ink and began to draw. 

Getting excited? So am I. I've only got about 45 pages left to revise!

June 21, 2013

Signs of the Southwest

I get such a kick out of road signs. I grew up with the habit of reading anything with words on it (including the backs of cereal boxes at breakfast). So now it's hard to stop. And sometimes, especially while traveling, the habit leads to laughs. 

For example: where else but the Grand Canyon will you see a "Mule Crossing" sign? Let alone one that gives them the traffic right-of-way? 

I liked this one in Bryce Canyon, Utah. I thought maybe standing close to it would be good for my creative juices.

This one, at Hoover Dam in Nevada, was especially beautiful. I didn't expect to find a giant lump of concrete so interesting, but it takes on a different meaning when you realize that this giant dam redeemed a desert wasteland. Because of Hoover Dam, arid stretches of Arizona, Nevada, and southern California are now fertile and life-supporting. And more than a few workers during the Great Depression gave their lives to make it happen. 

Sometimes, grammar is just funny. (If you're wondering, the correct conjugation is "bitten.")

Some wise and artistic person decided to complement the beauty of the Grand Canyon with the beautiful and praise-giving words of the Psalms (I found these plaques scattered at various viewpoints along the South Rim).

And the moral of the story is: do not--do NOT--attempt to buy gas in Death Valley.

Seen any wise, wacky, or hilarious road signs lately? 

June 14, 2013


Canyons are a bad idea.

As my family and I roadtripped around the American Southwest at the end of May, we saw a lot of them. They're fissures in the earth, weird yawning abysses. I thought of Dante's Inferno or C.S. Lewis's The Great Divorce. In fact, it looks like I wasn't the only one:

A sign from the Grand Canyon shuttle route
Canyon hiking is an especially bad idea. Besides the abnormal elevation at the rim, the increasing temperature as you descend, the arid landscape that sucks out your body moisture, the sheer drops at every turn, the risk of poisonous snakes and scorpions, possible claustrophobia, and rapidly changing weather conditions, you have to deal with this fact:

Down is optional, up is mandatory
Unlike with mountain hiking, in a canyon you hike downhill first, while you're fresh. But you'd better hike to only about 1/3 of your energy--because then it's twice as hard to come back up. When you're already tired.

So canyon hiking is a really bad idea.


...if we never took risks...

...if we never ran with an idea that might fail...

...if we never did anything just a little bit crazy...

...we'd miss out on this.

Bryce Canyon, Utah

And this.

Grand Canyon, Arizona

And this.

Antelope Canyon, Arizona

Sometimes risks aren't worth the payoff. And of course you have to plan for them accordingly. But sometimes...maybe unexpectedly...risks can reveal life's beauty.

Ever taken a risk that made you glad you did? 

June 7, 2013

Inner Beauty Photo Shoot

Yesterday I had the privilege of photographing two lovely young women, both of whom recently graduated from college. (It's that time of year when it seems like everyone is transitioning from one life stage to another!)

Kristin has a smile that could dazzle the socks off of you. She's also got this incredible long blonde Rapunzel hair (not quite 70 feet long yet, but getting there).

Jasmine has these stunning eyes that kind of change color to match whatever shade of blue she's wearing. And a great sense of style. I mean, seriously.

What I enjoy most about these ladies, though, is their personality and sense of adventure. I always enjoy interacting with women who exemplify a sense of inner beauty. You can't always catch that sense of sincerity on camera, but occasionally it comes out. For instance, Kristin wasn't afraid to play on the corkscrew fixture at the playground. No, sirree.

And Jasmine cleverly repurposed that pink scarf she's wearing from another piece of clothing. You can't see it in this shot, but she then repurposed it again as a dance ribbon.

Loveliest of all is the friendship between these two, which I've been blessed to participate in over the many years we've known each other.

Happy graduation, Kristin and Jasmine! Here's to two young women who are beautiful, both on the inside and outside!

Next week I'll be starting a series based on my family's roadtrip around the American Southwest. Be sure to check back in for some crazy pictures, stories, and traveler tips!