Saturday, July 19, 2014

"I bet you have a really good camera..." and other things not to say to a professional photographer

So I was asked for a head shot for advertising at an author reading upcoming at the end of July.

Crap. I desperately needed a haircut, I wasn't sure where my make-up ended up, (or even the last time I wore make-up.) and there was no way that any studio was going to be someplace I could go and get a picture taken with two small children in tow.

Luckily, the master stylist at the Regis Salon had an opening in her schedule, and the only downside was having to occupy the children for 45 minutes beforehand. She cut, she styled, she pretended my children were delightful. (They were fairly well-behaved, but still. An eight month old and a three year old? Not cool.)

And I took a picture with my phone! (Just to record what it looked like fresh from the stylist.)
Hey look, I'm a mommy sitting at the playground in the mall taking selfies! (I hate myself so much right now..)
Okay, I think we can all agree that a) I need to wear make-up, and b) I have no knowledge regarding the art of taking pictures.

Luckily, I know a VERY talented photographer named Charlotte Hayes of Shutterbug Creations.  If you need a head shot in the Raleigh-Durham area, call her. You will be soooo glad you did. Experienced, professional, and amazingly relaxing to be around.

We chatted about some of the rude things people say to professional photographers. 

"I bet you have a really good camera."  - Translation: Skill, experience, talent? Pfui. Just get a really expensive camera, and YOU TOO CAN BE ANSEL ADAMS.  Don't say this. A good photographer can get a good shot with a dollar-store click-n-point. They're not GOING to, but they COULD.

"Well, it's not like a real job." - Translation: Why are you charging me so much money? This is a real job, with a real skill and a real talent. You know this, that's why you called the professional in the first place, remember? If you can't afford the professional photographer at their valuation, then you can't afford the professional photographer.

"How about you come do XXXX for free? It'll be (say it with me class) GREAT EXPOSURE."  Translation: I don't want to pay you, but I want better pictures than my Aunt Louise can take with her phone. News flash: Photographers can not pay the rent with exposure. And Harris Teeter won't take it, even on triple coupon weekends.

No. It is not the camera. It is the person behind the camera who knows how to position you so that the background provides the right light and shadows, which side to shoot from so the uneven features of your face somehow look normal, how to catch that second where you relax from rictus-grin into normal smile. And that is worth paying for.

Hey, I look NORMAL. And my lips have reappeared. No one would say, "Hey look at that poor woman, I bet she hasn't brushed her hair in two weeks." about THIS person.

And, the other fantastic thing about Charlotte? She came to MY house, where my children could occupy themselves without damaging incredibly expensive lighting equipment, gave me advice on clothes and makeup for the photo, scouted out her shot location, and from start to finish, she only needed fifteen minutes of the minimum hour to get the perfect picture. In fact, I would have been ecstatic with any of the pictures she took.

She also cropped and centered the photo properly, cleaned the lipstick off my teeth and softened some of the frizz in Photoshop, and probably did a lot of other titchy, fiddly things that made this photo so amazingly good.

So yes. If you need professional pictures for anything, call Charlotte of Shutterbug Creations.

...What do I normally look like?

While I'm not always in armor, I usually do eat with my hands. Who has time for plates and forks?! Getting a plate is enough time for a toddler to get into the play-doh and try to fill the holes in the door knobs because "They're broken mommy!"

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

First Publication Credit and Book Signing Party!

11 of the 19 authors - I'm the second from the right in the back row, next to Polly Iyer. Photo courtesy of Robin Mizell
So this last Sunday was the book Launch party for Carolina Crimes: 19 Tales of Lust, Love, and Longing, in which my short story, The Bad Son, can be found on page 10. Margaret Maron wrote the introduction to the book, and selected my story to be the first one, as well as mentioning it in her introduction.


The husband had to work, but thanks to a VERY good friend, who ended up mostly watching my three year old and seven-month old for me, I was able to attend. It was a very well attended party, with over 80 people there!

Karen Pullen introduced the book, (our fabulous editor and fellow author AND President of the Sisters in Crime chapter), and the three-year old blew a pigtail and started to freak out. I was trying to put it back in place when I heard, "And our first reader is Britni Patterson!"  Everyone turned around to see me fumbling with a pigtail and a deer-in-headlights look.

Luckily, I have much practice in reading aloud, since I do it every night, so I introduced myself, bounced about it being my first publication credit, and read the first page, since I wasn't sure how long it would take. (Karen had asked everyone to time their "speech/reading" for five minutes. I didn't have time to practice beforehand, so I decided to go short rather than risk it.)

Then there was a poopy diaper, so I missed the next two readings, but got back in time for the rest. It was so cool meeting everyone and putting faces to names. Afterwards there was a chaotic signing of books, with 11 authors and various readers all trying to get all 11 signatures on their books and trying to remember who was an author and who wasn't! There was also a carrot cake of much deliciousness, and a lot of food including a cheese board, smoked salmon platter, wraps, crudites, and a fruit plate. Also some Prosecco of deliciousness.

WOOO HOOO! I'm all published! Now to get the novel published...

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

This is worth reading.

I love Seanan McGuire.  Someday if I write something as powerful and moving as this, I will feel like I have accomplished something in this world.


Wednesday, February 13, 2013

This article is awesome for writers

I gotta tell you though. Mornings? I am not a morning person. It is going to KILL me when the bug starts school and I'm going to have to get up regularly at six to get her butt on a bus.

I am a write at night person.  My daily routine looks like this.

7:00 - 8:30  - Cuddle the buggit who wakes up cranky when Daddy leaves the house.
8:30 - 10:00 - Either errands or Zumba
10:00 - 11:30 - Try to convince the baby to eat lunch, try to remember to eat lunch myself, start laundry.
11:30 - 3:30 - Somewhere in here is babysitting time, where I watch a friend's toddler of similar age/size to my own.
3:30 - 5:30 - Baby naptime.  Prepping dinner / Cleaning house.
5:30-6:30 - Write club on Wednesdays.  More dinner prep / cleaning otherwise.
6:30 - 7:30 - Weight lifting on MWF, other errands that didn't get done earlier.
7:30 - 8:30 - Dinner time
8:30 - 9:00 - Screw around on the internet time!
9:00 - 10:00 - Baby bath and bedtime ritual.
10:00 - 12:30 - WRITING TIME.  Which is also emailing queries time, writing blog status time, writing other emails I hadn't finished previously, other projects like my calligraphy & illumination work, and generally anything else I want to do sans baby.

Sometimes when I get on a hot streak, writing time gets extended to 2:30.  However, since the baby wakes up three or four times a night, this is a dangerous, dangerous tactic.

This too will pass though.I just have to keep telling myself that.  What are your favorite writing times?

Thursday, February 7, 2013

New member!

So I'm excited! Our writers' group, called Write Club!, may soon have a new member. When I first floated the idea of a writers' group on the classroom forum of my creative writing class, I admit I was terrified. There are so many stories of the "bad" sort of writers' groups.

For example...

Or this...

"What's wrong? "
"The group said they hate the Oxford comma! I'm never going back!"
I do not blame you seal. I do not blame you.

And Google will give you a thousand more links to similar stories. And yet, when only two people responded, I was still disappointed. But we were lucky.  We met for the first time two years ago, established a set of guidelines for meetings, and have been meeting regularly ever since. 

We're tiny, which helps. There are only three of us which makes it easy to act like adults, but we also have very distinct perspectives so there is no "echo chamber" effect.  We talked early on about going public, but one of our members had attended several other writers' groups with the more toxic results. So we set a rule that we would go to an "invitation only" status instead of Public Russian Roulette. We wanted to maintain the quality of our group, and while there was some worry about becoming stagnant, we figured the risk wasn't worth the reward.

But at my latest meeting of the Triangle Sisters in Crime chapter, there was a lady who was looking for a critique group. She was interesting, engaged, and I could smell the "serious writer" on her. She also made insightful comments during the meeting, and displayed a sense of humor, and I think she'll make a great addition, if it works for her. (She has about a 45 minute travel time one way, which is a bit much, but we'll see.)

I will also say that we have one member who meets long distance via Skype, and that works out fine for us, because we email our submissions and critiques out before the meeting, so we have all the notes and the face-to-computer discussion works well. We may have to look into some more web-conferencing stuff like Google hangouts.

Also, we are in favor of the Oxford comma and will defend it to the DEATH.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Balancing the Priorities

Daily Word count : 1,107
Total Word count on the WIP : 9,411

Sometimes I think the most difficult thing in life is setting priorities. Setting the direction you want to spend each moment of your life.  Balancing all the things we want.  I've figured out three things about the balance in my life.

1.) I require other people to keep me accountable. 

I tried going to the gym by myself for two years. I went sporadically, but  would often skip weeks at a time. When I made a commitment to go lift weights with a friend, I manage to go, even when she doesn't, because in my brain it is marked down in permanent marker as "Go to Gym with Friend Lizardface." 

(She doesn't look like a lizard. But she had a bad reaction one day to eating shellfish, and she called me to wail, "I have a face like a LIZARD. I have lizard-face!" The name has sort of stuck, but in my defense, she posted THIS picture of me to Facebook and is therefore not a good person.)

Seriously? I was trying to grab some lunch before I went back out to fight, and I was starving. Who takes a picture of a friend when they look like that?!  Lizardface. That's who.

That is the singularly most awful picture of me ever taken. Also, I leave the hyphen out of Lizardface because she is a librarian and it makes her nuts.

I didn't get much done on my novel until I joined a writer's group. We meet weekly, and take turns submitting. So every three weeks, I have to have SOMETHING done. And sadly, it usually gets done the day or so before I'm supposed to submit. 

But it gets DONE. That's the thing. The progress is slow, but there IS progress. And it's all due to other people keeping me honest.

2.) I admit that I only have room to prioritize four things at once.

The problem with this is I have about seven things I'd LIKE to prioritize.  Cleaning the house, making healthy meals and eating regularly, going to the gym, writing, armored combat, caring for the Buggit, and my calligraphy & illumination artwork. 

What do you mean we're out of bananas?!
Three of those slots are filled at the moment with baby care, cooking food, and the gym.  That means that writing fights with the other three for my time and attention. And the house does NOT get cleaned nearly enough. (Though cleaning a house with a 19 month old is sort of a Sisyphean task anyways.)  It means if I wanted to focus as completely on writing as I SHOULD, that the other things that make me happy (and keep my marriage functional) would suffer. So I've had to accept that even though I should be spending an hour or two a day on submissions, and at least two hours a day on writing, (about the time to get 700 words on an average day.), it's not going to happen, because SOMEONE has to do the dishes, and my husband works 12 hours a day so I can stay home with the Destroyer of Worlds.

When the baby is bigger perhaps I'll have more room for priorities, but right now, that is all there is.

3.) Trying to squeeze more time for extra priorities by sacrificing sleep, healthy meals, or regular exercise is REALLY STUPID counter-productive.

Turns out when I don't get enough sleep, my mood tanks, and I get more susceptible to fears, worries, beating myself up, depression, and other stupid stuff. The baby has had me on a regimen of sleep deprivation for the last 19 months, because she simply does NOT sleep through the night. Never has. At this point, I don't believe she ever will. Any further sacrifice of sleep is punitively painful the next day. If it happens two days in a row, I'm almost unable to function the third day. So staying up late to write until 2 a.m.? Can't happen for my own sanity. There are writers with kids who can do it, and I applaud their superhuman abilities. I can't. And I have reluctantly come to accept that.

Eating junk food? Affects my mood severely. I like cooking, and I'm an excellent cook. Sacrificing going grocery shopping and making dinner for time and Wendy's tends to send me into moody tailspins. I don't know why, but fast food with lots of grease and salt really screws with my emotional stability. Guilt over eating the fatty food? Neurotransmitter reactions? Don't know.  Had to accept that too.

Not exercising.  This was the newest epiphany, and it took me two years to really come around to believing, but when I make it to the gym regularly, I'm generally more productive over all for the rest of the day. Serotonin, endorphins, more neurotransmitters? Could be, but I've accepted that I get more done and am generally happier when I exercise regularly. Also, the gym has free daycare for 2 hours a day. So I get some non-baby sanity time. Also very good for me. :D

What hard lessons did you have to learn about priorities in your life?