Sunday, August 24, 2014

Oregon Mystery House Adventure

I've finished decorating the lodge and had the first batch of house guests visit, so I thought it was time 
to do a little site seeing of my own. I've always enjoyed strange phenomena, and what better place to visit than the Oregon Mystery House.

The house is situated on a vortex and the things that happen there are pretty cool. Are they real or fake? I can say for myself a lot of it is fun optical illusions, but you definitely get a feeling something is off in the vortex. When I stood on the spot where magnetic north and south converge I tried to keep myself from swaying but couldn't. Even some of the myth busters can't explain all the phenomena that happens there. Animals don’t want to enter the vortex. They tried riding horses onto the property and the horses stopped and turned around. Their compass didn't work right, as if giant magnets where buried underground. I'm a huge fan of roadside attractions, so I was more then happy to find out for myself.

As you can see the mystery house is pretty darn crooked. Whether it fell down a hill as the guide said, or they built it that way, it's still a fun experience. 

  The inside is crooked too. The handrails definitely come in handy.  

Look at the way you have to stand so that you feel upright. He's leaning to the left big time!

This side of the house is enough to make you seasick! See how the pendulum is hanging. That's how off plum the house is. 

Because of the angles of the house it looks like the water is running uphill. It's not. It's actually following gravity and running downhill, but it's still a fun illusion. Then there is the broom illusion. The broom seems to balance all by itself in the crooked house. 

Check the angle of the bristles. I think this is what makes it stand so straight and not fall. But again, a cool illusion. 

 Then there is the height change demonstration. The person who stands to the left, magnetic north, looks shorter than the person on the right, which is magnetic south. In this case the girl on the left is actually shorter than the girl on the right so when they switch places the difference is really impressive. 

Look how much taller she looks! Pretty cool! The myth busters couldn't explain how this works either.

I had a really great time at the Oregon Mystery House. I'm glad I stopped in. Visitng fun attractions like the mystery house brings out the kid in me. Who cares if it's real or fake? I enjoyed the ride! 


Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Genies Rule!

I've been so busy I haven't had a chance to post on the blog. Besides setting up a new house and learning about my new home town, I’ve been finishing up my latest YA book. It’s based on one of my favorite subjects when I was a kid genies. I loved to read about the story of Aladdin. Watching I Dream of Jeanie reruns was one of my favorite things.

My genie is a bit different than the ones I liked when I was a kid. My genie isn’t blue like this:

He doesn't wear a funny costume like this:

He’s quite handsome and from a totally different era:

Yes, I’ve had some fun with the genie myth and created my own. The wonderful thing about writing fiction, especially with fantasy elements, is you can do whatever you want. So though I loved all the wonderful genies of my childhood, I wanted to do something different. A Victorian genie? Why not! 
I’m in the final stretches of editing and rewriting the story. Revisions always take twice as long as I plan. But nothing feels quite as exciting as wrestling a story into shape. Next I'll be sending it out to my Beta readers. I hope they enjoy reading it as much as I’ve enjoyed writing the story! 

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Bear Crazy

I'm finally settled into the lodge and had a chance to explore my new home town. On the drive into town I began to see signs of a major invasion. Bears! Whimsical painted bears had taken over Grants Pass. Eighty in fact. Starting in May the bears roll in to town and stick around until late summer. Thankfully I have plenty time to see them all. 

Turns out there are some very talented artists in Grants Pass. The bears range from farmers to Egyptian Pharaohs. Here's a few of the ones I've seen so far. 

 Farmer bear waiting for a ride


Backpacking Bears

Kung Fu Fighting Bear

Portrait Artist Bear

Sphinx Bear 

King Tut Bear Cub

I can't wait to discover more bears in the coming weeks. Makes going to the grocery store an adventure. Just another thing I love about my new home town. 

Friday, April 25, 2014

New Life Phase One

I can finally sit down and write after being buried in boxes for weeks. Still have some left to unpack but the house is finally set up. The lodge has come together nicely. Decorating it has been a blast. My over the top Victorian furniture fits right in with the huge logs that frame the walls. I call the homes style, lux gothic lodge with a little Game of Thrones thrown in. The living room is a prime example of the look. 

My Victorian parlor chairs look quite at home in the master bedroom.

The dining room is almost as over the top in the lodge as it was in the Victorian. Just need to add my 1880's chandelier to finish it off. 

The inside isn’t the only thing getting a new look. My SIL’s house warming gift looks great on the pool house. It’s temple bell sound reverberates down the hill all the way to my neighbors a few acres away. I love that it’s made from recycled metal parts.

Life in the country is good. From picking up fresh produce at the farmers open market, to hearing the neighbors sheep baa in the distance, to the planetarium-like star filled sky at night, to the amazing sunsets that blaze across the Rouge River valley. It‘s everything I hoped for and more.   

I’m still running a bit on city time and need to learn to slow down. But I’m sleeping better than I ever did in the city. No more helicopters buzzing or sirens blaring at all hours. Amazing what a little peace and quiet can do. I look forward to writing up a storm in my new office. I’m sure the beauty of the countryside will be a big influence on my writing. I can’t wait to see where my new life journey leads me!    

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Change is Good!

 I’ve been MIA from the blog for far too long but I have a good reason. I’m making a huge life change in 2014. I’m moving to Southern Oregon! In the spring my husband and I are packing up our antique filled Victorian home in the big city and moving to the country. 

We’ve lived in Pasadena California for over 15 years and we’ve been itching for a change. We went up to Southern Oregon on vacation in September and it’s been a whirlwind ever since. We fell in love with the friendly people and the beautiful countryside. We went up again in November to look at houses and flipped over a beautiful lodge home high in the hills of Grants Pass. We put in a low offer not expecting the seller to accept it but she did!

I’m a country girl at heart so the move is something I’ve been dreaming about but never thought would actually become a reality. The last couple of months have been filled with a few “OMG we did it” moments, and several major to-do lists. During the holidays I’ve been squeezing in time to say good-bye to some wonderful friends. It’s tough to leave a place I’ve enjoyed for so long but I knew it was time to do something big. From the moment we drove around the countryside of Southern Oregon it felt like home. Parts of it reminded me of Colorado, where I lived for seven years, and the other of upstate New York where my family is from. It also has a little bit of California thrown in so there isn't a ton of rain like in the northern part of Oregon and the winters are mild. Southern Oregon seemed like the perfect place to start a new chapter in my life.      

I have a lot of work ahead of me purging years of stuff tucked up in the attic. I also have a house full of collections and antiques I need to pack. But I wanted to let my faithful blog readers know I’m alive and well. I’m crazy busy but I’m looking forward to my new life in the country. My office has a view of a small stream with a waterfall. It’s going to be a wonderful place to write.

My husband will be in heaven in the huge barn aka ultimate man cave.    

2014 is going to be a great year!

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Dreaming of Tuscany

I had plans to head off to Tuscany in October but unfortunately I’ve had to push out the trip to 2014. That doesn't stop me from dreaming about one of my favorite places. Florence is such an amazing city and I think I’ve only scratched the surface of all the amazing churches and palaces it has to offer. I long to return to the over-the-top rooms of Palazzo Pitti. I wasn't able to tour the royal apartments or see the costume exhibit on my last visit. I want to hop in a tiny Fiat and hit the road and explore the wonderful hill towns. One of my favorite things to do is focus in on the little details that make each town unique. In Assisi the churches and cathedrals like the Basilica di San Francesco take center stage. But as I wandered the streets I became fascinated by all the intricate wrought iron lamps and posts that jutted out of the stonewalls. 

 They were held up by the most spectacular gargoyles.

I found myself looking up to make sure I caught all the wonderful creatures that loomed above me.  

In Poppi, the town is centered around the huge medieval castle that sits high on a hill. When you enter the castle a massive stone staircase commands your attention. The shear scale of the castle is impressive enough, but what really caught my eye was the immense ballroom. The walls and the massive vaulted ceiling were covered in faux painted marble panels and wonderful stenciled designs. A decorative painters dream. Having faux painted quite a few walls myself; I could appreciate the amazing skill the painters used to complete such an enormous space.    

I continue to dream of Tuscany. Next year can’t get here fast enough.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

The Making of the Tokyo Dare Book Trailer: Soup to Sushi

When I was writing Tokyo Dare I had a movie playing in the back of my head for every scene. So when it came to making the book trailer, I thought I had a head start. : ) Then I realized it's not easy to capture the essence of a book in under two minutes.

The first thing I did was find the right person to put my words into action. I really liked the work Jeffery Somers did for fellow author Amanda Brice. The trailers he did for Codename:Dancer and Pa de Death really made me want to read her books. And I did! I wanted people to feel the same way after watching the trailer for Tokyo Dare. So I contacted Jeff. I'd never written a trailer script before so he kindly gave me a kickstart by sending me a script based on the short synopsis I sent him. After a bit of tweaking the script for the trailer was born.   

Next, I broke down what kind of imagery I wanted for each scene and Jeff set out to hunt down the perfect match. After several rounds of rough cuts we finalized the video, photos, and graphics for the trailer. Then I needed to pick a voice over artist who sounded like Erin Van Horn, the lead character in the book. After listening to several girls voices (one was actually named Erin) I settled on Hana. When she read the script I could actually see Erin talking. Gave me goosebumps!

Next came the music and sound effects. I'm lucky enough to have a husband (David S. Bateman) who composes music for TV and film. His music brought the imagery to life with the perfect accent to every scene. I thought a JPop song would work well to end the trailer. He did a great job of nailing exactly what I wanted. Usually one to shy away from an opportunity to get in front of a mic, I dove right in and wrote and sang the lyrics to Tokyo Dare. Have to say it wasn't easy to sound like a Japanese teenager but it sure was fun. 

The final step was to send the trailer off to my husband's friend, Will Tabanou, to work his sound effects magic. I wanted him to play up each scene so I outlined what I thought might work. He did a fantastic job of taking the humor and running with it. His effects had me laughing out loud.      

After a lot of hard work, and some awesome help, here is the trailer for Tokyo Dare!