It has been a crazy week, but in a good way. I’ve been racing to create an arsenal of materials and am slowly letting my babies out into the world. It is heart wrenching, and like a child going off to kindergarten for the for time, I am frightened on what will happen. Will people like them? Will they get in trouble? Did I prepare them for the big day well enough?
This week was focused on closing up the old projects. Stalkers has been my baby for years and I have sat on it and prepared it and sat on it again. In the end, I refused to do much with it. I’m so scared that it will never be good enough, and it won’t be anything if I don’t release the whole thing into the wild. So… I am pulling up my big girl panties and sending it off like a submarine. Two books are done and shipped out, and I am hoping to have the third one complete by the end of the month at the latest (at the earliest it will be next week).
My other big project is my contribution to Kindle Vella. It is a new program created by Amazon that allows authors to publish their works as serialized stories. Some of the greatest stories of all times have been created this way and I hope to do the same. Stories like North and South, The Count of Monte Cristo, Vanity Fair, Treasure Island, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, and so many more. Now one of my stories called Ultramarine will be a serialized story as well. I will be releasing it one chapter per week. I don’t have the whole thing written yet, but I am hoping having this deadline will light a fire under my ….um….under carriage.
The last, but not least, item done this week was a photo shoot for our monthly shoot. This was our own version of a damsel in distress. We had a lovely damsel (Rebecca Munroe) and her knight in shining armor (Mark Longo) posing up on Bailey's Ravine Sunday afternoon. Then we switched it up and had our damsel save the knight. Even at 5pm in the evening, it was still a whopping 90+ degrees. Becky had on a long sleeve dress with layers attached to the back while Mark was wearing several pounds of heavy armor. There was a lot of sweat, but the two of them took the shots like troopers. Even Mike and I were layered in sweat by the end of the shoot. I'm so glad it is done as it was very hot, and I can't wait to edit the pictures. I've only had the opportunity to load them on the computer so far.
Projects completed for the week:
Stalkers: The Resurrection – Kindle is available for purchase (this was technically done last week)
Stalkers: The Resurrection – It is available on paperback but I have not approved final cover yet
Stalkers: The Illusion – Kindle is available for purchase
Stalkers: The Illusion – It is currently submitted and in review for paperback version on Amazon
Ultramarine – The first two chapter have been released and will be available on Kindle Vella when it opens! My goal is to release a chapter a week until it is complete.
Damsel in Distress photo shoot at Bailey's Ravine in North Franklin, CT with Rebecca Munroe and Mark Longo
Hanfu Princess photo edits are complete
-I am currently doing final edits for Stalkers: The New Covenant. Adrian was getting a little wiry in the book and I have to clean him up a bit.
And all this was done with multiple dentist appointments, unexpected half days due to heat, zoom calls to old colleges, field days at school, and the wrapping up of the school year! I feel so happy and accomplished!!!!
The lights are low as the meal presses on. There are five plates piled high with food at the dining room table, but only four people are present. A single candle stands in the spot where the fifth person should be seated. No one speaks a word, but mischievous smiles are aplenty. We are all waiting to see who can make it through the entire meal without making a single sound.
The meal is called a “dumb” supper, but it has nothing to do with being stupid. In fact, dumb is an old English word that means that you are mute and/or unable to talk. Unfortunately, it was used so many times as slang for stupid – especially since many people believe that lack of communication meant stupidity – that the words became synonymous.
As All Hallows Eve (aka Halloween, Samhain, November Eve, etc.) is supposed to be the night when the veils between the words are the thinnest, it is also the time to show respect to those that passed on and can no longer converse with the living. The dumb supper, aka mute supper, is a tradition in my family where we put one extra place setting out (and a candle to represent those that have departed) at dinner time to let our loved ones know that we love and miss them (It is also a wedding tradition to leave a candle out on the welcome table to symbolize the same concept). We try our best to eat the entire meal in silence, but we slip up sometimes and it becomes a fun game during the holiday meal to see who can make it the longest.
After the meal is over, we place the remains outside. It is an offering to those that passed before us. It is similar to leaving cookies out for Santa on Christmas Eve. It is neat to go back out the next morning with little ones and see how excited they get when the food is gone (and some fox or raccoon is very happy back in the forest). We keep a white candle in the window at night to invite in the good spirits of our loved ones and a carved pumpkin to scare away the bad.
Halloween is arguable my favorite holiday of the year. My biggest reason why I love it so much is because I like making costumes and it is my excuse to wear my crazy outfits all day long. I also love the fact that Halloween is the one of the only holidays that is about community. Christmas is as well but, for most families, Halloween is the one time a year when you go door-to-door and say hello to your neighbors on your block while your children are trick-or-treating.
Have you ever hear someone say: “once in a blue moon?” It is actually in old saying that meant once a year. It was the way people told time passing long ago. In fact, there are thirteen full moons a year in our present calendar and only one lucky month a year gets to host this grand event. It actually changes months each year. This year it is in October. The first full moon will be on October 1st and is called the harvest moon (the full moon that is closest to the autumn equinox is always called the harvest moon because…well…it was a heads up that it was the time to harvest the crops). The second full moon is – ironically – on Halloween and is called a Blue moon.
So…once in a blue moon, there is a blue moon on All Hallows Even, when the holiday is seated on a weekend…and anything could occur! Hahaha! (Enter my evil laugh here)
Aka Changing a 40-year-old woman into a 14 year old anime character
About a month ago, Mike and I decided that we were going to do a test shoot once a week to continue in our craft of photography. The only time we took off was the Memorial day holiday weekend as it was too busy. This shoot was going to be our forth test shoot so far this year and since we were having a tough time getting a model (covid-19 social distancing), I had to be the model.
This was not going to be cool.
Me. I. Oh God! The model?
Sailor Moon was one of my favorite animes as a teenager. In fact, you could say it was how I met Mike Donatello in the first place. Back in the mid-90s, products couldn’t be bought as easily as today. If I wanted Sailor Moon paraphernalia, I had to go to Hot Topic or Sarges Comics in New London. Well, I started to go to Sarges a lot and that is where I met Mike. Long story short, the owner (Bob) pointed out that we were both photographers and we’ve been friends and business partners since.
Now, back to the ugly part. I was going to be Sailor Moon and it was going to be extremely tough because I am now 40-years-old and am the heaviest I’ve ever been in my life (188 lbs)other than right before the birth of my son (203 lbs). I also have a large tumor (non-cancerous) on my uterus so I look heavier because it protrudes. My apologies, I’m not saying this to be gross. I’m just trying to point out how impossible this shoot was going to be.
We had to be very creative with the shoot due to these factors, so a plan needed to be made. The concept was to photograph me from behind so that my stomach was not seen. We also wanted to show a scene instead of a girl standing there looking at a camera. There are way too many pretty pictures of Sailor Moon cosplay on the internet and we wanted to be different. We also decided to use a very old outfit that I had for Free Comic Book Day. It was missing pieces but that was okay because we wanted her dirty and appearing at the end of a battle.
The end decision was taken from a Sailor Moon episode itself. There is a moment after her first battle where she watches the sun rise from afar. Although we were using the Eternal Sailor Moon costume instead of her traditional one, we decided to do something similar to this scene.
We wanted to shoot on a day where there were a lot of dark clouds. These were supposed to symbolize an oncoming battle. Our decision for the shoot was made in less than 24 hours as we were hopping on the earliest day of clouds with no rain in the forecast. Unfortunately, we did not get the full clouds we wanted because the fog rolled in, but it was still close enough.
The day was Friday, May 29th of 2020 and we decided to go up to Rocky Neck State Park as our location. Aaron took the photos with my camera (and my son Connor took an epic shot while we were there) and Mike took photos with his. I was twitching as I stood as the model. I wanted to be behind the camera so bad but I took it for the team.
We had to unfortunately leave the beach earlier than expected as a group of teenagers came and started to make the worst comments I had heard in a long time. I was saddened by this but also knew that people are bored during this pandemic and acting out of character. Most of the group was just having fun but three broke off from the group and they appeared to be vlogging. They saw our shoot and went into detail on what they were going to do to me. Mike, Aaron, and I exchanged looks. Although normally we would change to a different location in the park if we had a client and something like this happened (ironically, we’ve never had something like this happen before), my son was with us and I did not want him to hear it. We chose to quietly pack up and go. Luckily, Connor was having a field day building a sand castle and wasn’t paying any attention.
The edits involved quite a bit of liquifying but they came out better than I thought. I was the most excited about a photo that my son took that I thought was amazing. I didn’t even edit his shot. I was a particularly proud Momma Bear. As for the other photos, I wanted to give a fine art feel to them because they were inspired by anime. I didn’t want them to just be a photographic take on the show. I needed more. I fell in love with a couple of them and am pretty proud of the shoot.
Someday, I would love to lose a little bit of this weight and retake the shoot. I would also love to add in Chibi Usa and make it more of a hand-off of power. It would be neat to have an older version of Sailor Moon passing the torch onto the younger hero.
Blue Knight / Blue Guard
The blue guard was our second photo for our test runs and we did it on Mother’s day. It was a decent sunny day and I was so glad that Mike asked us to do the shoot because, if it was only me, I wouldn’t have done it. I was definitely feeling lazy that day. The inspiration for the shoot was the seige of Gondor from Lord of the Rings. Aaron (our model) was supposed to be an officer.
That is part of the beauty of being part of a team. If I was doing half of this stuff just by myself, I don’t know if I would be able to get it all done. Being part of a team means that I have to be accountable and get my butt outside, even when I don’t want to.
My son didn’t join us this time so Aaron and I drove together to Fort Trumbell in New London, CT. Originally, this was going to be part of the wraith shoot from the previous weekend but we thought that it would be too much to travel between the towns, locations, and costume changes with the same model. It was split up into two weekends to make it easier.
There was not much for people at the location and we were able to suit Aaron up in all of the armor for the shoot. It was bittersweet to see some families meeting in the parking lot to spend the holidays together while maintaining social distancing. They sat in small groups at the backs of multiple cars, wrapped in blankets and smiling at one another.
We suited up and made our way over to the Fort itself. I was immediately disappointed to discover that the inner courtyard of Fort Trumbell was closed. My original game plan for the shoot involved the stairwells inside the outer walls. It didn’t cross my mind that the Fort would be locked up as I consider the inner courtyard to still be outside.
This put a large damper on our plans but we shot at the front gate and the side of the building to make it work. They sun was harsh and I tried to use it to my advantage in some shots and avoid it altogether in others. It made the shoot shorter for time, but left us a little wanting for some of the shoots. Although we were able to improvise and get good shots, this was a valuable lesson that I always need to check the location before the shoot. I try to make this process part of every shoot, but sometimes things just happen.
Part of the armor was actually created by Mike. I know that he created the shield for this shoot although he has created the armor in some of our previous works. It is always neat to get the opportunity to photograph his work and we hope to shoot more in the future.
We definitely want to do this shoot again once the Fort is open. It also inspired me to do some sword shots in the future as well, especially Excaliber ones. I find it intriguing how, even though we got a lot of decent shots, my favorite photo was a perception shot with a sun flare.
Running Across the World
When I think of running, this fantasy image of a huntress running through the woods comes to mind. She would be wearing a short toga and would have a bow and arrow strapped to her back. She wouldn’t be running from anyway. She is the hunter, not the prey. The name Artemis (Goddess of the Hunt) comes to mind and she would be running either during the day or with patches of moonlight filtering through the thick woodland treetop. She would not wear shoes and her run would be parkour as she bounds across rocks, forest floor, and nearby trees. She is like a gazelle and the terrain of the forest does not faze her in the slightest.
When I think of myself running, I think of sweat, pain, and not getting enough breathe in my lungs. If you had asked me two weeks ago if I wanted to go on a run, I would’ve probably rolled my eyes and grunted in response. Running was not my thing. Don’t get me wrong, I used to be part of track…but I hated running even back then. It was the feeling of not getting even breathe that used to scare me. I even used to run in small marathons with my family but as they got hernias and surgeries one-by-one, I lost interested and quickly gave it all up.
Now, I am on day three of running and loving it. I haven’t done it outside yet with all of the reports on the Corona virus and my fear of being run over by a car (the roads by my house are very curvy and busy), but I did find my own fun thing to do. I run around the world each day. Today I ran at Angor Wat in Cambodia. Yesterday I ran the London Bridge, and I didn’t leave the comfort of my home for either one of them. There are tons of other locations to choose from as well.
There have been spin classes for years, but when the Peloton came out, it changed things a little. Ironically, I don’t own one. I have a bike, treadmill, and elliptical. When the ads for the Peloton came on tv, I started to notice more items for running on places like the internet and Youtube. There are a ton if you look up things like virtual run for treadmill, virtual hike, etc. There are a lot of them that are 4k and high definition.
I hope to run outside someday. I would like to become that warrior goddess woman in the woods with her long hair blown back by the wind of her own pace, but until then I’m pretty happy in my workout clothes, slugging it along as I watch the shores of Tulum at sunrise on my television.