Tag Archives: photography

Bird-Brains, My Butt

I love living out in the country where the air is a tapestry of birdsong and our little feathered friends forage busily in our gardens.  We have everything from the drab but melodic Hermit Thrush to the brilliant Western Tanager; the giant and crazily prehistoric-looking Pileated Woodpecker to the tiny Anna’s Hummingbird.  But unlike my blogging buddy Elephant’s Child, I don’t have any beautiful bird photos to show you.

And that’s my beef, right there:  No photo ops.  In fact, half the time I can’t even get to the binoculars.

I’d comfort myself with the knowledge that they’re wild birds so they never stay in one place for long; but that’s not actually true.  They’re not flitting around, alert to the slightest threat.  No; they’re flaunting themselves within full view of my windows, sitting there only a few yards away and preening.  Even the hummingbirds perch for minutes at a time.

But no matter whether they’ve just landed or they’ve been snoozing there for five minutes, the instant I head for the binoculars, the birds fly away.

One might argue that they’re getting spooked when they see my movement through the window.  I’d like to believe that… but I don’t. I can walk over and stand inches away from glass watching them, and they never ruffle a feather.

But just let me reach for the binoculars that live permanently in the corner of the living room, and the birds zip away, never to reappear until I’m at least ten paces away from the optics.

Reaching for the camera is even more futile.  That doesn’t even require any movement on my part — all I have to do is think about the camera and the birds take off.

So not only can they tell the difference between me casually crossing the room on my own errand, and me crossing the room to pick up the binoculars; but they can also read my mind.

Bird-brains, my butt.  Those little suckers are smart, and probably telepathic.  I just hope they don’t decide to organize and attack like Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds.

But if there’s no blog post next week, you’ll know what happened.

*

P.S. Speaking of bird-brains:  Last night I had a great time presenting Write Your Book At Last at the Qualicum Beach Civic Centre.  But… at the end of my talk, I forgot to ask if anyone was interested in more in-depth workshops.  I’ve posted topic outlines on my Workshops page, but I won’t set dates unless there’s some interest.  Please drop me an email if there’s a workshop you’d like to attend.  Thanks!

Exciting news:  The audiobook for Book 2, The Spy Is Cast is now in production!  Its tentative release date is in October, and the rest of the series is scheduled to follow it into audio format ASAP.

And… I’m starting Book 15 this week!  Hooray!  🙂

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…And That’s My Cover Story

Woohoo! The cover art and blurb for Book 11 are finished! As with any process where I’m involved, there have been some giggles along the way.

Rick Hand of Hand Crafted Images always makes it fun to shoot the cover photo, and luckily he’s got a great sense of humour. He needs it when he’s working with a so-called model like me.

I’ve mentioned my uncanny knack for twisting my face into the world’s goofiest expression at the precise moment the camera clicks. (At least I prefer to think I only look goofy for that instant. If it’s all the time, please don’t tell me – I prefer to cling to my illusions.)

But apparently I also have a gift for twisting my body into poses that make a photographer (and everybody else) go “WTF?!?”

For example, Rick was testing the lighting levels when I did this:

I don’t know what the hell I was thinking but apparently it was something like, “‘Scuse me while I stick this cardboard gun up my own ass. And if I place my left hand just so, it’ll look like a giant schlong hanging out the front of my jeans.

Yep, I’ve got a real gift for modelling.  It’s a lucky thing Rick’s good at arranging me because my sole talent is holding still once he’s got me in place.

Moving on to the title selection:

You probably already know that my geeky OCD personality requires spreadsheets for everything, including titles. I’ve itemized every word that rhymes with ‘spy’, along with a list of common phrases that include those words. So when it’s title time, I consider the themes in the book I’ve just written and try to match up a phrase that works.

But apparently there’s an easier way:  An app at portent.com generates titles automatically based on user-supplied keywords. So I entered ‘female spy’ and sat back to wait for the perfect title for Book 11.

Here are the contenders:

“How Female Spies Make You A Better Lover”: I do my best to make my sex scenes hot, but I didn’t realize I was providing such a valuable service to society. Go, me! *buffs fingernails against shirt and looks smug*

“Doing Female Spies The Right Way”: Is it me, or does Portent seem to have a one-track mind?

“True Facts About Justin Bieber’s Love For Female Spies”: Okay, now they’re just scaring me.

“The 12 Biggest Female Spies Blunders”: This one’s pretty appropriate since Aydan does tend to blunder into situations, but it’s not really the catchy title I had in mind.

“Why Female Spies Are The 51st Shade Of Grey”: Why Portent, you kinky thing! You’ve been peeking through my blinds again, haven’t you?

“Why Female Spies Are Scarier Than Dating Taylor Swift”: I’m not sure what level of fear we’re talking about here. It seems reasonable to be more afraid of female spies, but then again I don’t know Taylor Swift.

“Shocking Ways Female Spies Will Make You Better In Bed”: I’m sensing a theme here…

“How To Fight Lex Luthor Using Only Female Spies”: Superman, are you paying attention?

“How Female Spies Killed Kenny”: I’ve never watched an episode of South Park but apparently Kenny has died in all sorts of creative ways, so this seems plausible.

But I guess I’m just set in my ways. Despite the stellar appeal of Portent’s shortlist, I decided to stick with my spreadsheet even though one of the above titles could probably have made me famous. (Or infamous. It’s a fine line.) So voilà, Book 11:

Secret agent Aydan Kelly is hoping to resume her peaceful life as a bookkeeper, until her director issues an ultimatum: Go undercover as an arms dealer or go to jail for life. But when Aydan realizes her co-worker’s son has been taken by a serial killer, she defies orders in an attempt to save the child.

Neglecting her undercover assignment may cost more than just her freedom. When the gunrunner she’s been baiting threatens her loved ones, Aydan must choose between protecting them herself or entrusting their safety to geriatric amateur vigilantes while she closes in on the killer.

How much will she risk for a child who may already be dead?

* * *

The release date is March 18, 2016, and The Spies That Bind will be available for pre-order in about a week. If you’d like to receive an email notification when it’s available, please click here to sign up for my New Book Notification List.

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Automotive Heaven Can Wait

Last week I was in automotive heaven… and it turned out to be more of a pain in the butt than I’d anticipated.

Rick and Sandy (of Hand Crafted Images) and I were doing the photographs for Book 2’s updated cover.  Car buffs may recall that Aydan drooled over an Audi R8 in THE SPY IS CAST, and wonder of wonders, I got up-close-and-personal with a real R8 this week thanks to the generosity of Doug S. and the staff at Glenmore Audi.

As with most undertakings that involve me, there was inappropriate laughter.

The dealership is a pristine building featuring bright white ceilings and sleek grey floors.  Other cars were scattered throughout the showroom, but two Quattros crouched protectively beside the R8, their feral headlight configurations watching us like predatory beasts.

Yes, I was slightly intimidated.

At first we trod reverently around the R8, not approaching it too closely so our heated and unsteady breathing wouldn’t fog its gleaming paint.

We were completely freaked out at the thought of being close enough to damage an automobile that costs more than twice what I paid for my first house.  We checked and re-checked the tripods that held the backdrop, cringing at visions of the metal poles toppling onto the car.

At last we had the backdrops in place and the moment of truth arrived:  It was time to unlock the car.

Then I would strip down to my ignominious outfit of stiletto heels and gym shorts (because I didn’t want to wear a skirt and accidentally emulate the Basic Instinct leg-crossing scene) and… yes… I would actually sit in the driver’s seat.

That’s where the giggles started.  In the first place, a woman wearing makeup, gym shorts, and stiletto heels just looks ridiculous.

Also, this woman wearing stiletto heels looks slightly ridiculous anyway.  The R8 tops out at four feet.  In heels, I’m 6’-2”.  I towered over the car (and everybody else in the dealership).

The next issue was that the stilettos give me a 38” inseam.  Try stuffing those long legs into a car while holding your breath in case a lethal heel scratches something that costs more than your entire car.  But I managed.

In short order, the next issue surfaced.  The R8’s seats are set in quite far from the exterior body panels.  If I sat in the driver’s seat, my legs barely made it out of the car.  To get the shot we wanted, I’d have to perch on the rocker panel.

For the record, the R8’s rocker panels are not designed to comfortably accommodate a human ass.  (Nor a human posterior, for that matter.)

It got worse.  On the original cover, the model’s lips are parted.  It looks as though she’s pronouncing the letter ‘D’, and it’s supposed to look pouty or sensuous or something.

My pout looked more like ‘Duh’.  I stared vacantly into space, slack-lipped and clutching a cardboard cutout of a Glock.  I only managed a few minutes of that before dissolving into helpless laughter.  Thank you, Sandy and Rick, for your infinite patience!

But at last we packed up the equipment and vacated the premises with relief, leaving the fabulous car unscathed.  (Which was more than I could say for my aching ass.)

It was only afterward I realized that my butt was the only part of me that ever touched the car.  I never even put my hands on the steering wheel.

I guess I’m just not cut out for automotive heaven.

* * *

P.S.  Unedited proofs are always good for a chuckle.  Note my alter-ego in the reflection beside me:

My inner werewolf sneaks out when I least expect it…

My inner werewolf sneaks out when I least expect it…

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