Archive for September 2020

Picture this. To the ends of the Earth.   Leave a comment

Richard Dee’s article

Posted September 28, 2020 by aurorawatcherak in Uncategorized

Windows on My World   17 comments

Show us a photo (Or photos) you took that you’re most proud of. Tell us about it (them).

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A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

I’m primarily a writer, but I take photos in my private life and I live in a beautiful corner of the world.

You’re familiar with my photography. It shows up on my blog and almost every book cover I create has a portion of one or more of my photos as part of the collage that creates the image. In my most recent cover reveal, the headlights in the background are my contribution.

Yes, look up at the top of my blog page and you’ll see this photo, which I (or possibly my husband or my daughter) took from a friend’s deck one frigid Alaska night. We set the camera on a tripod and we wandered in and out of the warmth hoping to get just the right shot. Aurora photography is tricky – you essentially block the aperture open and shoot frames at periodic intervals. You manually count the seconds of exposure, varying them to try and get the perfect shot. You can overexpose it, underexpose it or jiggle the camera just slightly and ruin an amazing shot. So, even though I don’t know exactly which of us took this photo, I set up the camera so it wouldn’t jiggle, so I’m taking credit for it. And it’s an amazing picture.

Chena Hot Springs Resort on a sunny day and, yes, I stood in a snow bank to get the shot. It’s COLD here in the winter, but it was probably a warm day because of the lack of fog and I willingly got out of the water. I just love the tones in this photo. The shot wasn’t taken with a filter, but the tones are so perfect some people assume I did. I just picked the right time when the sun dodged behind a horsetail cloud. Although this is our unwinding place, the photo itself is the essence of adventure photography, letting the environment dictate the shot rather than technological manipulation.

I’m pretty sure that’s my husband with the net. Could be our friend Nate who accompanied us on that trip. It’s a place called Chitina and it’s where we harvest our winter fish supply (note the salmon in the net). I climbed to another rock like what he’s on to get a good shot. If you look down to the lower left, you can see a dip in the water — that’s an eddy that could eat a large car. Fall in that river and you die. Life preservers would just allow you to circle the eddy one or twice before it sucked you under. The dark-humor Copper River joke is “Tying off to the bank just makes it easier to recover your body.”

I love that I juxtaposed the gray of the river (looks icy, doesn’t it – about 35F degrees) and the subtle brown variations of the rocks, catching a hint of green in the background, but I’m mostly proud that I went there to take the photo. I caught salmon on that trip too.

My husband always points out that a lot of our photos of him engaging in risky behavior were taken by me, which means I was doing dangerous things. It’s an Alaska thing. We weigh our risks, but we live life. We try to mitigate the dangers which are sometimes pretty scary, but we don’t stay home because we’re afraid. We live life.

The large version of my author photo. Taken using a backpack as a tripod, I set up the shot with a timer. My husband stood beside me (he got cropped for the author pic) and I’m laughing because he’s cracking jokes. The pipeline behind me is the Davidson Ditch, a 48-inch aqua duct built in 1922 to supply water to the gold dredges north of Fairbanks, my home town. It’s defunct now (as are the dredges), but is still an incredible piece of engineering and served as a model for the TransAlaska Pipeline. Where this shot is taken is a quarter-mile hike on snowshoes from the highway. It’s about 50 miles out of town over two pretty impressive uplands. We’re just on the edge of our cabin-site at that point. Although it looks like it was winter and therefore cold, it was a warm late-March or early-April day and above freezing, hence why I’m not bundled up. Those black straps on my shoulders – I was armed against spring bears.

That’s another example of living life.

This snap was taken along the Denali Highway – which is really an unpaved one-and-half lane 130-mile-long goat trail, but you can drive on it with a passenger vehicle so Alaskans call it a highway. I took the snap because my son – age 2 (he’s now 21) — was riding in the truck and had been silent all the way from Fairbanks (he really didn’t discover talking until he was 3). My thoughts focused on stopping for the night and setting up camp, so I took the sunset for granted when he pointed out the window and said “Oh, wow!”. The kid was right. It needed to be recorded. In the couple of minutes it took to park the truck and get out the camera, the wow had already faded a little (the mountains were brighter when he proclaimed their glory), but it’s still an amazing shot — not so much because of how I took it (it was a lucky snap), but because Alaska is God’s artistic playground. I’m proud I got it, but I’m prouder still that we were there. My husband’s leave from working the Pipeline got canceled when we had this trip planned, so I packed the kids (age 8 and 2) and the dogs into the truck and went anyway. We had a great time with a different pace than if my husband had been along and I count it as one of my fondest memories of living life.

I turn 60 this winter and while I don’t intend to stop living life, some of the things I used to do effortlessly are becoming more difficult, so I recognize that some of these photos may not be attainable by me in the future. I’m glad I’ve lived my life and set fear into a back corner of my mind so that I could see, photograph and write about some of the incredible places just around the bend.

Posted September 28, 2020 by aurorawatcherak in Blog Hop

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What I Believe   Leave a comment

Posted September 27, 2020 by aurorawatcherak in Sunday Morning

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Coming October 20   Leave a comment

Dumpster Fire

Dumpster fires burn hot and show a tendency to spread.

After his red-kryptonite-fueled crash-and-burn last summer, Peter’s walk to redemption is rocky and full of stumbles. Exhausted and fed-up with himself, he hopes returning home to Port Mallory will provide an opportunity to repair his damaged friendships.

Has he earned a second chance?

Ben doubts he’ll ever trust Peter again. Alyse’s new best friend, Lily, sees a lot to admire, but people keep warning about Peter’s bad-boy past. Trevor and Alyse are keeping secrets. Cheyenne doesn’t appreciate the plastic surgery. And, red kryptonite still makes him feel strong while making him oh-so weak.

Peter desperately wants a second chance, but he may not have what it takes to extinguish the dumpster fire his life has become.

Now on Pre-Order for 99 cents.

Finish Line?   9 comments

Do you set business goals as a writer? What are they for the 4th quarter, and have you started planning 2021?

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Goals are Good, but….

Writing is still a side gig for me, so I’m not treating it like a corporate takeover. My goal has always been to make my books profitable, but it was a long-term goal, not something to be focused on down to the quarter.

Last Quarter was Good, but….

They always say the secret to selling books is to write the next book and that appears to be true. My ongoing series, Transformation Project, sees an uptick in buys and reads every time I publish the next book in the series. The last two books paid their initial costs in their first quarter of publication. Yay! That felt good. The entire series is in the black with minimal marketing.

My fantasy, Daermad Cycle, has a different profit profile. The Willow Branch was published in 2014 and it wasn’t until 2019 that it finally paid for its publication costs. But now it’s making a profit and the reads are good. Mirklin Wood is slated to pay for itself this year. I’m starting to feel like it will be worth it to write the third book “Fount of Wraiths” because it’s fairly obvious from the read pattern that once they read The Willow Branch, they read Mirklin Wood. These being fat fantasies, it takes them a while, but it is happening, so completing the third book is making financial sense as well as creative sense now.

It gives me hope that if I publish the next book in What If Wasn’t series, it will get some attention on the first book, Red Kryptonite Curve. Sometimes, a book just doesn’t sell and you don’t know why. This is a new genre for me – Young Adult/New Adult — so I might not know how to market it right. But, I learned how to do the other genres, so I’ll learn this one too. But maybe I just need to publish the next book. And I’ve learned from Daermad Cycle that a book can take a long time to catch on and then you don’t really know why it does. “Dumpster Fire” will launch October 20. Today’s article acts as a cover reveal.

Maybe someday I’ll have long-term goals and quarterly reports, but currently, those live in my “real” job and my ‘next goal” is to publish the next book — at least one per year (Covid has made 2020 especially productive — there had to be a bright side to the whole country being in the timeout corner. Even teleworking full-time, I had a lot more time to write.

Here’s hoping that 2021 sees a return to normality.

Posted September 21, 2020 by aurorawatcherak in Blog Hop

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Til the Day I Die   Leave a comment

Posted September 20, 2020 by aurorawatcherak in Sunday Morning

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NVDT #57 – Hangin’   1 comment

Phil’s Blog Post

Posted September 15, 2020 by aurorawatcherak in Uncategorized

Falling In Love with My Own Writing #OpenBook Blog Hop   Leave a comment

Source: Falling In Love with My Own Writing #OpenBook Blog Hop

Posted September 15, 2020 by aurorawatcherak in Uncategorized

They’re just figments, but they’re mine. And I love the places they take me.   Leave a comment

Richard Dee’s blog post

Posted September 15, 2020 by aurorawatcherak in Uncategorized

Characters Shine   6 comments

Tell us what you love the most about your work(s) in progress.

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Plural

I always have more than one work in progress. At the moment, I think I have three — okay, four. The second book in the What If Wasn’t series is a completed draft just awaiting editing. You could call that my primary Work in Progress at the moment. The third book in that series has already been started because it wants to be written. The next book in Transformation Project series is also just getting underway. Both have about 20,000 words written.

So, What Do I Love MOST About Them?

I love characters that talk to me and both series are character rich. In Red Kryptonite Curve, I built Peter up as a rich kid with problems that were bound to affect the people around him. In “Dancing the Centerline” — well, doesn’t that title tell you something about the character’s evolution? At heart, Peter’s a nice kid, but I’m going to put him through hell because he earns it and I think the readers will enjoy the ride. I love his conflict. Peter wants to do better and I keep throwing obstacles in his way. How will he overcome them? Will he overcome them? Or will he fail? I mean, why wouldn’t he? Being a nice kid doesn’t solve his foundational problems. He needs to grow beyond that. What I think I love most is that Peter is conflicted and will not have an easy time of growing up. He gets to be both the hero and the villain of the story because he is his own worst enemy. So how is it going to turn out? Well, you have to read the books to find out. The third book is called “Pocket Full of Rocks”. Yeah, there’s a hint in there. But I always leave the reader and Peter with hope for the future.

In Transformation Project, there’s an ensemble cast to draw from, which may be what I love most about writing this series. I’m not stuck in one head all the time. Shane has been primary in every book so far. He can get a little dark to write because he’s a depressive with PTSD. Some of those issues were confronted in Winter’s Reckoning, but there’s deep trauma that won’t be resolved immediately, plus I left him with some severe injuries to heal from, so other characters are going to step into the spotlight for this next book. Shane will be around, but Cai and Alex will get to shine a bit and, since “A Death in Jericho” involves a murder mystery, who better than an attorney to tackle the project?

I’ve also got a very tertiary WIP in trying to write a romantic thriller again. Yeah — glutton for punishment. I like that I’m three-quarters of the way through blocking the scenes and the characters are still talking to me. Usually, when I try to write a romance, I get to a place where the characters decide to go to sleep. We haven’t reached that point yet. YAY!

Posted September 14, 2020 by aurorawatcherak in Blog Hop

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