Lee-Sickels Wedding

I’m still pretty terrified when people ask me to shoot weddings, but I’m grateful that people like Sarah & Jason trust me with such memories. Capturing love like theirs makes my heart swell. <3

 

8831e

 

(Click the image above to see the album on Flickr!)

Milan Family Spring 2015

I’ve been shooting this family since before Luciano was even born. I’m so lucky they keep coming back for more! I love watching them grow. :)

 

(Click the image below to see the whole set on Flickr!)

 

6778e

Thrappas Family Spring Shoot

Pretty girls in trees and family cuteness overload!

 

(Click the image below to see the entire album on Flickr!)

 

 

Thrappas Family Spring Shoot

Works-In-Progress (or maybe: Projects I *should* be working on)

It’s been a long time since I really talked about writing. I mean, sure, I’ve moaned about my lack of time for it and how creatively dead my brain has been, but when is the last time I really talked about the books themselves? I think it’s been ages, to be honest. Like, possibly years even. Perhaps you don’t even really know anything at all about my completed novel Dreamsters, except that it’s in the horror/thriller category. And so, with the help of some awesome art I commissioned artist and friend, Heather R. Holden, to do, I’m going to talk about my writing – what it’s about, what I’ve got, what I need, and where I’m going with it – and maybe it will not only intrigue you, but help me get back into, you know, actually working on them again. :)

 

 *Click the images to see them larger!*

 

Dreamsters (not an actual title – that is still undecided)

 

About: This story is about a creepy old lady, a girl with a nightmare curse, and a foolishly kind boy who feels compelled to get involved with them both. I consider this story a nod to one of my favorite horror films A Nightmare on Elm Street, though more thriller than horror, maybe. 😉

 

What I’ve Got: A completed manuscript at around 70K words.

 

What it Needs: A completed 2nd draft. I’d started on this a couple months after I finished the 1st draft last year, but there are still major portions of the book, particularly at the end, that need heavy rewriting to finalize a 2nd draft.

 

Where it’s Going: Publication? I hope. It was my intention to have this 2nd draft sharp enough to start looking for an agent this year, but so far this unfortunately hasn’t been the case.

 

2015_Commission_Dreamsters

 

Picture background: This comes from the end of Chapter 2. Milo’s stayed up late to get ahead on some homework and just before going to bed, glances out his window at Mrs. Womack’s house across the street. This is the scene he sees and the lines from the book look like this:

 

Illuminated by the street lamp is a girl in a red plaid, pleated skirt, with black tights and clunky boots, and a black leather jacket being destroyed by the rain. And a boy significantly shorter than her, holding her hand, in a hoodie and cargo pants that look too big for his small frame. Each of them carry just one bag, hardly large enough to hold any decent amount of personal possessions, and they stare at Mrs. Womack’s front door from her gate.

 

I don’t need to see their faces to know who they are.

 

 

Crack the Sky

 

About: I’ll let the main character tell you what Crack the Sky is about. 😉

 

My name is Tilian King and I found a girl in the woods one night. I sound like a fool for saying it, but I swear the lightning led the way.  She was covered in blood; I’m *practically* a saint for saving her. 

 

She claims she’s my guardian angel and that demons took her wings so she can’t protect me. From what, she won’t say.

 

She also claims my girlfriend and father are demons and that my dead mother is an angel like her. I asked her what that makes me, but again, she won’t say.

 

I think she’s f@$%ing insane. Escaped from the looney bin or some shit. It’s somehow both annoying and hilarious to me.

 

Still, and I’d never admit it out loud, it is sort of nice having someone to share the lonely mansion I call home with now, since my dad’s never around. Plus, who doesn’t love poking fun at naiveté? Leilani’s chock-full of it and I’m as rotten as they come.

 

If you’d like to see a few examples of scenes from Crack the Sky, I’d actually posted some when I started this book in 2011 for NanoWrimo. Click HERE! (Note: these scenes were roughly written and have since been polished so they aren’t the final product by any means.)

 

What I’ve Got: About 18K words, or just shy of 1/3 of the story.

 

2015_Comm_Torn_Small

What it Needs: The rest? About 50K more words? No, in all seriousness, it needs the meat of the story. Crack the Sky is an intense sort of story, with a great deal of tough decisions and bloodshed. This first 18K has been the introductory phase, the buildup of backstory, and the planted seeds of character growth. Next, things get crazy. 😉

 

Where it’s Going: Oops, I think I sort of answered that above? I guess I could add that it’s not going to have a happy ending. Okay, so it won’t be super awful, but not the happily ever after type of ending that’s all too common these days because life doesn’t always work that way so why should make believe? 😉

 

Picture background: I’d told Heather that if this picture were titled I’d call it, “Torn,” because that’s the feeling I wanted to come across for Tilian. So that it’s not too spoilery, I won’t tell you much about what’s going on in it outside of TORN, but I will tell you who you’re looking at! (L) Mackenzie, Tilian’s Girlfriend (M) Tilian King, POV of the book (R) Leilani, Tilian’s Guardian Angel.

 

 

So, those are my current, big works-in-progress. I have another novel idea that springs up every summer, but never produces much words and another that I hope to eventually return to one day, as it was the first story I ever wanted to make into a novel, but both require a lot of world building and I’m just not sure I’m a good enough writer for that just yet.

 

——————–

 

If you’ve enjoyed the art accompanying these descriptions and think you’d like some of your own, head on over to Heather’s site for commission guidelines and prices! Or if you’re just a fan of the art and don’t need any for yourself, give her web comic Echo Effect a shot. She’s an excellent storyteller, too!

 

Parker Family Spring Shoot

Unfortunately it appears that Flickr has done away with their album sharing feature, so in the meantime (until I find another way to share albums via slideshow), click on the picture to go to the album on Flickr to see more from this shoot! :)

 

 

Parker Family Spring Shoot

 

ALL Lives Matter

suspect-dies-baltimore

(Image Source: PATRICK SEMANSKY/AP)

 

I try very hard to avoid spouting my opinions on matters that don’t directly have to do with me, especially the more sensitive topics like race or religion or politics, which almost always end in a heated state, but I find myself in a such a disturbed state today that I just cannot keep quiet about this.

 

Baltimore is under attack by it’s own citizens, in the foolish name of Justice, and I can’t even handle how sick this makes me feel watching from the sidelines. I’ve never been so glad to not live directly in the city, but even on the outskirts of it, I’m afraid. Afraid for my friends and family that live and work there, afraid for all the business owners whose lives are being turned upside down, afraid for all the citizens who don’t want anything to do with what’s happening but don’t have the option of escape, afraid to see Charm City lose all it’s goodness in a handful of days and for what!?

 

I am all for people being properly punished for unjustified crimes. If those police officers are truly guilty of murder then they deserve the worst. But only them. Not the police department as a whole; certainly not the entire city. One bad seed does not equal a bunch. Bad seeds exist everywhere, in all walks of life. They don’t represent the greater majority. I want to understand how rioting and scheduling “purges” equals justice? What is justice in this case anyway? A man died; nothing will bring him back. This out-lash of violence and destruction only makes you an ugly person, not the hero you seem to think you’re being in the name of Justice. Two wrongs never made a right.

 

I know someone will read this and say, but Black Lives Matter!, but I counter that ALL Lives Matter! Why do people feel so entitled in reacting this way, hurting innocent people who never wronged them in the first place, stealing things that aren’t yours, ruining other people’s property – property they worked hard for? Someone else will probably say I must be racist then for not supporting this supposed justice being sought, to which I’ll just roll my eyes. This has nothing to do with race in my opinion; it’s become more than that now. Those peaceful protests at the start, they were about something real. The mania that’s going on now, that’s not about anything of value. It’s just pure insanity and it needs to stop.

 

There is injustice all over the world: Race vs. Religion vs. Wealth vs. SO MUCH MORE. It’s not a fire to be fought with fire, it’s a battle to be won with intelligence and patience and steadfast. I’m positive the path to peace isn’t a violent one. How have we not evolved enough to understand this yet?

 

The governor has just issued a State of Emergency and the National Guard has stepped in. It’s unreal and terrifying how fast this has escalated. I truly, truly hope people start using their heads and realize what they’re doing to their own home. That this doesn’t help their initial cause, it just makes it worse. There is a better way, people. Wake up.

 

If you’re the praying type, please pray for Baltimore. :/

 

UPDATE: Yesterday, tons of volunteers poured into the streets at the break of dawn to start the clean-up process from the wreckage the night before. Something like 144 cars were burned and 7 buildings, one of which was a brand new 16 million dollar community center about to open to help the city, which is just so sad to see. By the days end the crowd had returned to the peaceful, purposeful protesting it started with before everything got out of hand – with legit chants and drums and even dancing. It was such a refreshing sight to see. The mayor had put a curfew in place and there was a bit of turmoil as 10 pm hit, but for the most part everyone went home and stayed there until the curfew lifted in the morning. Really glad to see people getting their heads on straight over this. They have every right to want answers, but answers can’t be found with violence. I’m so glad people are choosing the higher ground right now. I pray it remains this way.

 

Addiction: On YouTube & Toys

Can we just talk about how weird it is to suddenly be so addicted to YouTube? It’s not like it’s new to me or anything and yet, it’s become the first form of “social media” I check every day now. Weird. In the history of YouTube, I’d only ever tuned in to link to music videos or to view the occasional shared video via other social platforms. I had an account solely for the purpose of uploading an old home video to post elsewhere (and also because google basically makes you have an account to all their things once you sign up for one), but otherwise, I didn’t spend much time there.

 

I can’t say that anymore. I spend SO much time there now. Too much maybe.

 

I suppose the addiction was born when my friend Akoss started a BookTube Channel. It was just a baby addiction then, mostly toward unboxing videos of various nerd-themed monthly subscription services, but somewhere along the way, whenever I’d log in to check her latest video, I’d find myself watching several other “similar” videos and then somehow I was subscribed to a bunch of toy channels. Toy channels that feed my already existing toy collecting obsession in dangerous ways.

 

If you would like to fall down the toy channel rabbit hole with me, here are some of my favorites and why!

 

maxresdefault (1) Toy Box Collectibles – I love this channel partly because I love Cupquake (and Red) on other channels (such beautiful, cool nerds), but also because they (along with Hannah sometimes) get so excited about the products it’s impossible to not get excited about them too, even if they’re new to me (they’re totally responsible for so many of my latest addictions). I also like that they really do review a great variety of collectibles, not just the standard ones everyone else is doing and they’re honest about them. While they do tend to like a lot of the “cute” things they find, they don’t pretend to love it all when there are obvious flaws in the toys.

 

 

maxresdefault (2)Unboxing Rocks – This channel is especially awesome because of the Daddy/Daughter dynamic between Jay and Cyan. Sure, Mixx is great too, but there’s just something really special about dad’s getting excited over their daughters girly things. Also, Jay and Mixx are the kind of adult figures I imagine myself being if/when I have children – still into rock, tattoos, and toys (in other words: still being themselves and exposing their kid to a variety of awesomeness instead of solely kid-related coolness).

 

 

hqdefaultRadioJH – This channel frequently also has an awesome Daddy/Daughter dynamic, when Jason decides to do the videos with Audrey, but even when he’s not in front of the camera you know he’s behind it and I just love that he supports his 11 year old daughter’s desire to make a YouTube video every day (and I mean every day) and play with all her toys. Plus, Audrey is just too adorable for words with her funky colored hair and huge excitement over each new toy she reviews. She also sometimes does videos with her little brother, proving to be a fun, good big sister. This channel is another example of good parenting in my opinion.

 

 

1271128_555966037804558_1597091231_oChad Alan – Boys who love dolls FTW. Chad and Audrey are “internet siblings” (that’s a joke, btw) and so it was through her that I discovered him. I’m quite smitten with his politeness, the perfect organization of his collection, and how completely unashamed he is to love dolls the way he does. I’ve read in the comments how much he’s made younger boys unafraid of also liking dolls and I am just happy they have someone like Chad to look up to. Toys are toys; they shouldn’t only cater to one sex over the other.

 

 

maxresdefaultBeardy Nerd – This channel isn’t necessarily a toy channel, but does feature toys often in a different way than the other channels. The Beardy Nerd subscribes to a crazy amount of nerdy monthly subscription services and does individual unboxing reviews of each and then a combined review, rating them against each other. I find this to be super useful if you’ve been considering testing out other subscription services because he doesn’t just showcase what each box offers, he also breaks them down in value vs. the cost of the box too.

 

 

I follow a few other, non-toy related channels for music and laughs, but let’s be real, I spend the bulk of my time on YouTube getting addicted to new toys. And maybe you think addicted is a strong word, but just glance through all the toys I’ve acquired just this year so far in the slideshow below and see what I mean. I’m seriously out of control.

 

 

 

 

 

Boudoir Shoot

I tried my hand at boudoir photography for a friend a couple weeks ago. I’m not sharing all of the pictures from the set as I’m not sure she’d want her face all over the internet with these pictures, but I’m pretty impressed with the results because she looks HOT!

 

(Warning: Theses pictures were shot with the intention of being framed art for her bedroom so I believe they are tastefully sexy, however, they may still be considered NOT SAFE FOR WORK.)

 

(Click through the slideshow below!)

 

 

Holleman Family Spring Shoot

Super sunny, super windy, but adorable little kidlets nonetheless! :)

 

(Click through the slideshow below!)

 

 

 

The Greatest Show On Earth

So, maybe the title is a slight exaggeration. Surely there are other great shows out there, but I don’t fault them for using the phrase. It really is one GREAT ass show.

 

If you haven’t already figured it out by now, I’m talking about the circus; Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey LEGENDS to be exact. And it was AMAZING! I don’t know when the last time I went was, I was probably so young that the memory is too fuzzy to recall, and so being there yesterday was almost like the first time. It didn’t matter that I am about to turn 33 and had no children in attendance with me, for one night I was 5 all over again and completely captivated. No, seriously, my mouth was dry from hanging open in amazement for so long. There was so much to see, my eyes could hardly keep up.

 

IMG_20150402_204634

 

We had excellent seats, which helped enhance the event, though I don’t think there were really any bad seats necessarily, just better ones. We had the better ones. The entire show is a burst of color, covered in glitters that catch the lights perfectly and draw you in. Actual performance aside, it was just visually stunning. The level of talent and bravery these performers have just blows my mind; they don’t miss a beat and thank God for that because several times I was equally amazed and horrified that I was about to watch someone meet certain death… like for instance the maniac motorcyclists in the video below. This video isn’t even the final count, we just wanted to watch the last round with our eyes instead of the phone lens, but they literally had 8 bikes in there! EIGHT! The program I bought says they ride at 60 mph, 4″ apart. That’s just insane.

 


Other bits of insanity involved the Big Cats. Now, I love cats, especially the big ones. In my mind, I think: Awww, wouldn’t it be so awesome to hug one of them! But I’m not stupid. Their mass and ferocity is terrifying and I know better. But Alexander Lacey doesn’t. He’s like, 11 big cats? YES, put me in a cage with them! This is where the line between brave and stupid blurs in my opinion. Thankfully, I didn’t have to witness the man be mawed to death, but I will say there were moments when I wasn’t sure. And while I loved seeing the Big Cats, I have to admit they didn’t seem happy.

 

When I was excitedly telling people I was going to the circus, I was met with a touch of nastiness like, “How can you support an event that is so cruel to animals?” There were actually even picketers there. I hadn’t even thought it that way. Only a small portion of the circus includes animals and all of them, with the exception of the big cats, seemed to enjoy their role in the show. Call it silly on my part (re: crazy imagination that believes animals have minds like us), but I think that some animals actually enjoy being used in something so spectacular. Dogs definitely enjoy learning tricks and getting treats for successfully pulling them off. No one hates on trainers who enter their talented dogs in Dog Shows, right? And horses seem to love to be ridden; they’re runners by nature so how much cooler is it for them to have a rider who gives their run a direction and purpose? I know the circus just recently announced their phase out plan for the elephants by 2018 and I understand and respect the decision to focus more on their preservation than on the money they help bring in, but I have to say that even the elephants looked like they were having a good time. The only animal I felt didn’t want to be there were the Big Cats and that did make me sad for them. However, the program I bought has a section on Alexander Lacey and his Big Cats and apparently his family has been raising them for decades, so these aren’t wild cats turned circus, they were born for this. Maybe this is just their usual demeanor? I don’t know. I suppose the cats will eventually go with the elephants and maybe they’d be happier? Or maybe that’d just put more of them in the wild for murder? Ugh, animal protection is such a tricky thing. :/

 

Back to the show, though… The drama kid from my past surfaced in me and I couldn’t help but also marvel at more than just the show itself, but all that I know has to go on behind the scenes for it to unfold so flawlessly. No one missed a beat. The lights, the music, the set changes, it just impresses me like you can’t imagine. How many hands go into making a show of this magnitude go on so successfully? I don’t know, but bravo to them. Every last one of them are stars in my opinion.

 

I’m sad to say we don’t have a ton of great pictures to remember the event by, but you can sort through the ones we did get in the slideshow below. I wasn’t sure they’d let me in with my good camera and phone cameras, while surprisingly decent these days, just don’t know what to do with all that light and movement. Still, I got a shirt and a program, and a hat with my cotton candy. Oh and a squeaker nose for good measure. 😉 It was awesome to take my mother-in-law (to be) and see her have such an awesome time herself, since lots of her days have been filled with sadness since Bobby passed. I’m still feeling the buzz of happiness today, that I had the whole ride home. So cool to get out and do something so fun for a change! If you’ve never seen the circus, I highly recommend it!