Elizabeth Ogle: Blog https://www.elizabethogle.com/blog en-us (C) Elizabeth Ogle elizabeth@elizabethogle.com (Elizabeth Ogle) Wed, 08 Sep 2021 11:29:00 GMT Wed, 08 Sep 2021 11:29:00 GMT https://www.elizabethogle.com/img/s/v-12/u157787300-o141027760-50.jpg Elizabeth Ogle: Blog https://www.elizabethogle.com/blog 120 120 NYC & DC https://www.elizabethogle.com/blog/2018/5/nycdc In April I took a solo vacation to the always wonderful east coast. I traveled to Washington D.C. and NYC. I initially thought about staying a whole week in D.C. but knowing I was so close to NYC, I couldn't help but split my time. It was my first time to D.C. and second to NYC.  

D.C. Highlights: Making a new friend on my first day, Kenny Garrett Quintet at the Blue Alley Jazz Club, playing a Friday the 13th escape room with a family from Bellevue, WA, Lincoln Memorial, MLK Memorial, seeing Julia Child's kitchen at the Smithsonian

NYC Highlights: Brooklyn Bridge, impromptu photoshoot with Rory Ross, record stores, student walk-out against gun violence (I almost did not have my camera for that) 

Enjoy my memories below...

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elizabeth@elizabethogle.com (Elizabeth Ogle) https://www.elizabethogle.com/blog/2018/5/nycdc Wed, 02 May 2018 06:17:05 GMT
Authors: Stories Behind the Books, Sean Beaudoin https://www.elizabethogle.com/blog/2016/9/seanbeaudoin Sean Beaudoin is the author of novels such as Wise Young Fool, Going Nowhere Faster, Fade to Blue, and his newest novel, Welcome Thieves. I first met Sean at the opening of Third Place Books in Seward Park this past summer and a few months later we were setting up the place and time to get him in on my Author project. In Sean's interview he talks about his genre, physical books over e-readers, and not taking himself too seriously. 

How did you choose Young Adult genre for your niche or did it choose you? What do you want to communicate and make your readers feel that they can relate to your characters?
YA definitely chose me. At least in the respect that I was trying to sell an adult novel without much success, and then sold two YA novels without really trying. As Mother Theresa once said, "A paycheck is a powerful motivator." But I came to really respect and enjoy working in the genre, because in some ways you never really feel things as intensely as you did when you were fifteen. Fear, love, crushes, confusion, despair. All about things that probably seem a little foolish now. It's an interesting dynamic to explore. My YA tends to run on the older end of the spectrum, but I get letters from 12 yr olds all the time who claim to love them. Oddly, over fifty percent of people who buy/read YA are adults. So go figure.

You seem to prefer physical books over e-books (me too), can you talk about why that is? E-books have made a huge impact on the publishing industry and local bookshops, what are your thoughts on that?
I like to hold something in my hand. Just the tactile sense of it. The solidity. I know a Kindle counts as "holding something", but I mean one not mainly comprised of silicone. Also, I stare at my laptop screen while writing all day, so I try to cut out other screen time whenever possible. My favorite rooms in our house are filled with bookshelves, which are filled with books. Being surrounded by them makes me happy.

Can you talk about you book covers. They look to have a consistency of design and theme, do you work with a graphic artist on your book covers?
Well, they come from three different publishing houses and six different designers, so it's interesting you would say that. In almost all cases, the publisher chooses the designer, either in-house or freelance. Authors rarely have a lot of say in the matter, aside from making comments about comp designs, which may or may not be heeded. Steven King can demand a certain cover, or major changes, but most of us get what we get.

 

You market yourself with funny, homemade videos of why people should go out and buy not one, not two but three copies of your books! You show a side of yourself that doesn't take yourself too seriously. Can you talk about that aspect of yourself and how it may play a part into your writing process or finished books?
Well, I try not to take myself too seriously in any respect because, you know, we're all going to die soon. What's there to be self-important about in the meantime? The notion of the Very Serious Author is pretty much a cliche in my mind, something that went out with Norman Mailer and Phillip Roth. Both of whom, as it turned out, weren't all that serious anyway. I like comic writing in general, particularly as it comes from tragedy. For instance, I think Beckett is hilarious. Beckett would have made excellent Vines and pretty much ruled Snapchat.

Sean BeaudoinSean Beaudoin

When you interviewed Daniel Kraus back in late 2015, you talked with him about the "emotional costs" between an artist and their art and the exposure of receiving criticism. How do you deal with negative or positive reviews on your work and how would you rate your own criticism during your process?
Being a writer is essentially a perpetual experiment in being told you're not very good. From agents, publishers, readers, reviewers, other writers, sales figures, and Twitter. And when people are complimentary, you tend not to believe them. Or at least I don't. I believe taking criticism, and using it to get better, is a true talent. Something you have to work at, and practice, just like playing a guitar. Taking things personally is a doomed game.

What are you working on next?
I have an adult novel called Cornelius Wrathbone that I hope will be out next year. I'm also working on a new YA called Maximum City Blues, and another adult novel to follow. Also, all the usual essays, rants, political statements, and various mercenary projects.

To find more about Sean Beaudoin and his work, you can check him out on his website, Facebook, and Twitter. Don't forget to pick up a copy, or two or three, of his new novel, Welcome Thieves.

Website: http://www.seanbeaudoin.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/seanbeaudoin

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SeanBeaudoin?ref=ts

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Welcome-Thieves-Stories-Sean-Beaudoin/dp/1616204575/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1442273343&sr=8-1&keywords=welcome+thieves

Thank you to the management and staff at the Stone Way Cafe for letting me photograph in their space and, of course, thank you to Sean for being a part of my project.

 

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elizabeth@elizabethogle.com (Elizabeth Ogle) https://www.elizabethogle.com/blog/2016/9/seanbeaudoin Wed, 14 Sep 2016 12:00:00 GMT
Authors: Stories Behind the Books, Andrea Dunlop https://www.elizabethogle.com/blog/2016/8/andreadunlop This week I am featuring Andrea Dunlop, author of the novel Losing the Light. Andrea's 2016 debut novel is the story of a woman, Brooke, who unexpectedly has a piece of her past catch up with her and Dunlop's readers are transported to France where it all started. Her book is heavy with adult themes and major topics for a coming-of-age character that we can all relate to either on a small or big level. Typically it is our early twenties that we try new things, make mistakes, and experience unforgettable moments can help shape our lives when we are trying to figure ourselves out. 

In her interview, Andrea talks about the length of time it took write Losing the Light, Brooke's character development, and what is next. 

Losing the Light is your first novel and it took you quite a bit of time to write. Can you talk about the process of when the story first developed to seeing it in print?

I began writing it when I was still in college, so the book was in my life all throughout my twenties and into my thirties (I was thirty-three when it was published). I went through a similar shift that my main character Brooke goes through as the novel's plot encompasses that same time period in her life. That gave me a great perspective on how her ideas and memories of her relationships would change over time. Finally having this book in print is tremendously gratifying because I worked on it for so long and it was very close to my heart. I wrote lots of other things during those thirteen (!!) years, but certainly none as close to my heart. 

In an interview you made it clear that your main character's experiences are not based on real events from your own life. However, were there parts of the novel that you felt you couldn't write about until you had experienced them during the course of your 13 years writing it?I don't know that I consciously thought that, but I think the time it took to write the novel was absolutely to the story's benefit. I feel in some ways as though this novel holds within it my own coming of age. And certainly, my perspective on love, friendship, and envy--the book's major themes--was quite different at thirty than it was at twenty.  

At what points in the story did you feel you had to take a break, put it down, and return? Any specific chapters or character moments that you were not ready to write or you got blocked on writing?

Not specifically. I worked on the book during three major periods--the first in college, the second once I'd move back to Seattle, and the third after I'd tried unsuccessfully to publish two different novels. It was more that the book just kept calling me back. There have been other novels that I put down and never went back to, but this one I couldn't stay away from. 

During your 13 years of writing, did you ever feel any personal pressure to get it done, did you originally have a goal set for yourself on a timeline? Or did you believe that the novel will present itself overtime? 

I thought it WAS done several times. But it turned out it wasn't. I always give myself deadlines to finish a manuscript, but the industry doesn't care whether YOU think you're ready, it will decide if your work is ready. I'd already shopped this once before, which made it easier to walk away for awhile and then come back to it with new eyes--this by the way, is sometimes crucial to do with one's work, but if you're goal-oriented (as I am) this is the hardest thing to do unless your hand is forced. 

Why did you choose to start the novel at Brooke being 30? How do you feel the structure of the book would have been different if you started it at introducing Brooke at 22?

Well, again, life looks very different at thirty than it does in your early twenties. I wanted Brooke to be able to really have some perspective on the choices she'd made all those years ago, and on Sophie and Alex. Meeting someone you knew in your youth later on in adulthood can be really surreal, and I wanted to capture that. Also, there are those things that happen to us when we're young that just change us. It wouldn't be as meaningful to know that it still affected her two years later, but ten years? That's different. 

Who are your influences for this story or your work? 

I love Patricia Highsmith's Ripley novels, and really anything that deals with young Americans abroad who get in over their heads: Ian McEwan's The Innocent and the cult classic The Dud Avocado. 

You talked about rejection and the personal hardships that authors go through working to get their books published. Who was there for you when you went through that? How important is it to have a support team for those moments?

It's so important to have friends. Certainly the professionals in your life (agent, editors, publicist) can be a supportive team once you get going, but it's important to also have people to cry to who have no professional stake in the whole thing and will just say "Screw them, you're brilliant and wonderful!" I have lots of great friends, lovely parents, and wonderful partner, so I'm very well set up. My mentor, Pat Geary, was also crucial to me, especially in my early writing life. But at the end of the day, no one can want it for you. If you do give up, you were probably just meant to do something else. 

What are you working on next? 

My next novel, She Regrets Nothing, is scheduled for 2018, so I'm working on the edits for that currently. It's the story of a woman who reunites with estranged family members after her mother's death and ends up wreaking havoc on their lives. I'm also working on a novella about a group of women who go to an island for a bachelorette weekend, and the bride-to-be goes missing. 

You can find Andrea's debut novel, Losing the Light, on her website, Amazon, and major bookstores. http://www.andreadunlop.net/

In addition, Andrea is a Social Media Consultant. You can also find her on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, and Instagram... 

https://twitter.com/Andrea_Dunlop

https://www.facebook.com/AndreaDunlopauthor

https://www.instagram.com/andreadunlop/

Thank you Andrea for being a part of this project! 

 

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elizabeth@elizabethogle.com (Elizabeth Ogle) https://www.elizabethogle.com/blog/2016/8/andreadunlop Mon, 22 Aug 2016 18:55:42 GMT
Authors: Stories Behind the Books, Sanae Ishida https://www.elizabethogle.com/blog/2016/8/sanaeishida My Author project continues to go strong and the support as been tremendous. However, I am starting the next stage of the project and that is display. Before I close this project temporarily, I do have a couple more Authors to share with you. I hope you all have been enjoying the Authors that I am spotlighting, they have been some of the nicest, interesting, funny, and creative people I have come in contact with other this past year. For this post I photographed Sanae Ishida (pronounced '"Sun-Eye"). Sanae is an author in two genres, children's and crafts-sewing specifically. Below Sanae talks about her influences, her love for both illustration and sewing and how it helped her get on a more stable path for her life. 

You have written books for two different genres, children's and craft. Which one came first for you?  I wrote the children's book, Little Kunoichi, The Ninja Girl, first. While I was working on that book, I signed the contract for Sewing Happiness, which is the craft book/memoir.

When we chatted on the phone, you initially talked about how your mom was a great influence to you. How so?
My mom is a prolific artist and I can't remember a time when she wasn't painting or knitting or experimenting with sculpture, etc. She sewed all of my and my two brothers' clothes and could build a stellar playhouse out of whatever she had on hand. She's also a phenomenal cook. She basically did all of this while working as the breadwinner for our family, first as a waitress and then as a silk screen color technician for Disney and other fine artist reproductions. I believed (and still believe) that she was a hybrid of Wonder Woman and a magician and seeing that constant flow of creativity made it normal for my siblings and me to try various "artistic" endeavors too. I don't think it's an accident that both my brothers are comic artists and that I'm writing and illustrating books. 
 
You had to go through some really difficult times to eventually rediscover your passion for sewing (and painting?). Can you talk about that part of your life and what did you learn most from it? 
Now that it's been over four years since I went through the "debacle" as I think of it, when I was fired and sick and in bad shape all around, the specifics surrounding the time have faded in my mind. I'm so glad I've recorded them in the book to remind myself! The lessons are still front and center however: the importance of the basics. And by basics, I really just mean taking care of myself first and not in a self-indulgent way. I learned how vital it is to figure out what my body and mind need to stay healthy, to cultivate positive relationships, to make time to use my hands to create things I find beautiful. I didn't actually want the book to be solely about sewing, but about finding meaningful aspects of life and wholeheartedly pursuing them.
 
What skill level can one expect from Sewing Happiness? Any general advice for someone who is thinking about taking up sewing? 
It's a book targeted for beginners, but the projects have enough customizability for more seasoned sewing enthusiasts to add their own flair. At least that was my hope. If you're thinking of taking up sewing, I would recommend first borrowing a sewing machine, or purchasing an inexpensive one, or trying out a class at a local fabric shop. Like any craft, your pocketbook could easily be emptied out with all the various equipments available and you want to make sure that you enjoy it. My first sewing machine was a $50 Singer from Target and I made so many tiny baby dresses and fell head over heels in love with sewing. I eventually upgraded to a nicer machine but still have that Singer!
Little Kunoichi, The Ninja Girl has beautiful, vibrant colors to help illustrate the story of Little Kunoichi. How fun was the process to work with different color palettes and sketching out the ideas to create her world? 
So much fun! I often talk about how the story of Little Kunoichi pretty much rolled into my mind like a silent movie reel. I mentally saw all the illustrations first and then added text. The whole process was immensely enjoyable.
 
Is it true you based Little Kunoichi off of your own daughter? What characteristics does she share with Little Kunoichi?
Yes. My daughter's name starts with the letter "K" so there's that connection, but she's also a very persistent and hard-working little girl. And hilarious. I suppose you can never force humor, but I really tried to infuse the book with the sweet funniness that seems to naturally be part of kids.
 
What else is in the works for you? Any follow-ups to Little Kunoichi or Sewing Happiness? 
I'm currently working on the quasi-sequel to Little Kunoichi, which will be released Fall of 2017, and then the third book in the series will be released Fall of 2018. I just turned in the rough art for the next book and am deeply in watercolor painting mode for the final art at the moment. I'm loving it!

 

To learn more about Sanae Ishida, find her books, and follow her great creative projects, go to: http://www.sanaeishida.com/

Thank you Sanae for being a part of this project. 

  

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elizabeth@elizabethogle.com (Elizabeth Ogle) https://www.elizabethogle.com/blog/2016/8/sanaeishida Mon, 08 Aug 2016 19:33:01 GMT
Authors: Stories Behind the Books, Kate Lebo https://www.elizabethogle.com/blog/2016/7/katelebo I am very excited to share the next Author for my project. I was very fortunate to work with Kate for this project because of her fun style and her passion to work with delicious, natural ingredients. In addition to being a culinary author, Kate splits her time teaching at the Atrium Kitchen located inside the iconic Pike Place Market in Seattle, WA. With Kate's help I was able to get in touch with the Events and Programs Manager at the market to schedule a photo session at the kitchen. The result turned out to be as sweet as pie! 

What came first, the writing or the cooking?
The writing. I didn’t learn to cook until I had to. 
 
What was your dinner table like growing up as a child? Did you have a lot of experience cooking with your parents? 
Well, I can tell you that the actual table is still in my parents’ dining room, that it still has the protective covering on it to keep the wood nice, which means this piece of furniture my family has gathered around for three and half decades still has the most pristine top you could imagine—not that you’ll ever see it—and handsomely scarred legs. My dad is a woodworker, so anything in the house that’s made of wood has to be solid and beautiful, even if he didn’t make it.
 
I don’t remember cooking much when I lived at home. My parents let me off the hook as long as I helped clean up the table afterward. Then I did that thing where you move into your first apartment and realize, “Shit! I don’t know how to feed myself!” A realization that was fortunately followed up by,  “Wow, cooking makes me feel like a badass!” I would call home a lot to ask my dad for recipes, and I discovered that food was a language we could share. He and my brother had football. Now he and I had barbecue chicken and grilled salmon and mushroom soup. 
 
My mom has always been interested in nutrition and healthy eating. She makes amazing salads. That sounds banal, but trust me, it’s not. It’s easy to make salad but hard to make people care about salad. For a long time I wasn’t interested in any recipe unless it had all four food groups in it. That’s her influence. I eat my vegetables. Then I eat my pie.
 
You have this unapologetic yet charming way of expressing yourself through cooking, essays, and poems. Was that something that just came natural or did you develop this confidence overtime?
Thanks! You know, this is a hard question for me to answer because it’s asking me to break down the person I construct when it’s time to perform. She’s the person who teaches, talks to a camera, says something in a microphone. The person on the page is different, but related. They’re both me, of course. I know that the in-person person is made in part by my hearing problems. I have a tendency to look people directly in the eye and smile a lot to try to relieve the intensity of that gaze. Looking directly at people helps me hear what they’re saying. Maybe that’s what feels unapologetic. 
 
Unapologetic is an interesting description. What should I be not-apologizing for?
 
You briefly talked about how you are making a transition in your work and you don't want to focus on pie. Can you elaborate on that?
Not yet! But I can tell you something that contradicts what I said—in fall 2017, Sasquatch Books is going to release an anthology of pieces from the Pie & Whiskey reading I host with Sam Ligon. Pie’s not quite through with me yet.
 
In addition writing culinary cookbooks, you write essays and poetry that are have a lot of self reflection and pop culture observance . Do you write these more for yourself? 
I’m writing these like I’d write anything—because there’s something bugging me about something I’m attracted to.
 
Are you a writer who works better in isolation or in the company of others? 
I work alone and prefer to trade work with one person rather than belong to a writing group or workshop. But I need to feel connected to a community or I get pretty miserable, so it’s a balance of hiding and participating, writing on my own and collaborating with a group to make an event or program happen.
My last question is, what do you love about teaching at the Atrium Kitchen in the Pike Place Market? 
The Pike Place Market is amazing for all the reasons you’d expect, but are still surprised by when you visit. It’s full of people—so many people from so many places doing so many things!  One Sunday when I was loading in my baking equipment, I saw a couple get engaged in the plaza. Every Saturday when I teach a guy with a parrot hangs out in the Atrium, and the parrot makes these beautiful spooky sounds all afternoon. People come in during the middle of class to ask what we’re doing, can they have some pie, and I love that too, how this is a place where so much is happening, people don’t think to be shy about interrupting. Though please—not too many interruptions. To be able to make food with enthusiastic, cool people in a place that’s this alive is incredibly awesome. Even though I’m only there once a quarter, I still feel like I’m participating in the culinary history of the city.
 
To learn more about Kate Lebo and Pie School: https://katelebo.com/
You can also find Kate on tumbler, twitter: @mizkatelebo and Goodreads! 
To find out more information about the Atrium Kitchen at the Pike Place Market: http://pikeplacemarket.org/atrium-kitchen
 
I really want to thank Debra Benn, Event Program Manager at the Pike Place Market for allowing me to shoot in the Atrium Kitchen. Thank you to my good friend and assistant for this shoot, April Staso and last but not least, Kate Lebo for her wonderful participation.  
 
Extra bonus: Behind the scene shots of my shoot with Kate Lebo...(photos by April Staso)
 
 
 
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elizabeth@elizabethogle.com (Elizabeth Ogle) https://www.elizabethogle.com/blog/2016/7/katelebo Thu, 07 Jul 2016 05:47:13 GMT
Authors: Stories Behind the Books, J.L. Spohr https://www.elizabethogle.com/blog/2016/6/jlsphor Today is the first day of Summer! It is that time of year that is great for reading. There is nothing better than laying out on a blanket in the cool shade on a hot summer day reading a good book. It is absolutely one of my favorite things to do this time of year when I need to just slow down, take a break, rest my mind, relax. I have recently marked my one year that I started the Author Project and I want to celebrate on the first day of summer by sharing my shoot with J.L. Spohr. J.L. Spohr is a romantic, historical fiction writer who sets her stories in the 1500s, a time of lavish kings and queens, even though her characters go through less than lavish times. J.L. Spohr talks about her royal inspiration, the balancing act process of writing, and what is next for her. 

Stories of kings and queens, giant battles, and royal back-stabbings, were these the stories you read as young reader? Who or what did you read specifically? 

As a child I read everything from science fiction like L’Engle and Sleator to non-fiction about the African rain forests. I was the kid after bedtime reading with a flashlight under my sheets until my eyes couldn’t stay open. But as far as royal intrigue, I was at a very impressionable age when I watched Princess Diana marry, cementing the fantasy that some day, some prince could whisk me away from all my problems and I could have awesome outfits, live in a castle, and ride horses all day. And people would have to do what I say and not the other way around. Which sounds pretty darn fantastic to an eight year old. 

As I grew up, I still loved the outfits and the castles, but the history behind it all was the real fascination for me. Why the Tudor era and the early Renaissance, I’m not quite sure. Perhaps it was because Diana was British, perhaps because I studied in London for a time in college, perhaps it was because Henry VIII is morbidly fascinating and his daughter to this day remains one of the most successful rulers of all time. Ok, it’s just the outfits.

What kind of research do you go through (or one does) to write in a time period over 500 years old? How do you stick to traditions of the time? 

Sticking to the time is a fine line. The first draft of Heirs & Spares was so authentic it was unreadable with all the old English, the accenting. So, I had to make the dialogue readable for a modern audience. The funniest things to me are when, if people take issue with accuracy, they often take issue with something that was pulled straight from the pages of record from the 1500’s. So while it needs to be accurate, it also needs to be readable and believable. Human nature, human motivations, never change, lust, greed, love, loyalty, pride, jealousy, sacrifice, bravery, these all move us to sometimes unspeakable and sometimes beautiful acts and they always have. Many of my plots and characters are based on actual historical people and events. For example, the queen from Heirs & Spares is an amalgamation of Henry VIII’s six wives.

As far as the amount of research, for these it was much less than I’ll have to do for a book I’ll be writing set in the fifties and sixties, simply because I studied the European reformation extensively in graduate school. That doesn’t mean I still didn’t do quite a bit, just that I know the era quite well.

An example of what goes into the research: I needed a character to have an illness that often kills, but when it doesn’t it lingers in the body for years. So, not only did I need to find that illness, I needed to make sure it existed in 1569 and find out what they called it then. Then I needed to find out what herbs or remedies they would have used to try and treat it and whether or not they associated the years-long effects to the original illness. That alone could take half a day.

Heirs and Spares and God and King, take place in a very historic time period for art and discovery. Did any particular event or year influence you for your story? Inspiration?

The series is indeed set in an exciting time in history and I use as much as I can of that to inform the stories, mostly leaning on the chaos of the reformation as my country (which is fake, by the way, but set within a real Europe) is Catholic and surrounded by the Low Countries who are turning to Protestantism and France, which was fighting its own wars of religion. My country is too small to be of any influence, but big enough to be a trophy for either the Catholics or the Protestants, with even Spain and England trying to get a piece of it.

There were events, such as the St. Bartholomew’s Day massacre in Paris, that play important plot parts in the books, but I wouldn’t say anything in particular drove or inspired the story. I tend to be a character-focused writer, so for me, it’s the characters and how they react that matters, not so much the events themselves.

Can you talk about the process of getting your book published? 

I’m what has been coined a “hybrid” author, in that I have an agent, but have also published independently. Truth be told, I wanted to publish the Realm series (Heirs & Spares etc.) the old fashioned way, but when Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge, became pregnant, I figured the best time to market a book about royal heirs might be when the future royal of England was born. So I pulled all my queries and got to work publishing independently, hiring a great group of editors, designers and formatters at The Editorial Department. I was able to launch the book two weeks before Prince George was born and leveraged that into media appearances and articles. Start to finish, my first book took four years to be published. The editing and writing process are shorter for me now, so each book takes about nine months to write and maybe four more to edit, design and publish.

On the traditional side, my current book has taken two years: one to write and one to pitch to my agent, then revise and now she is pitching to publishers. Once it’s sold (fingers crossed) that’s probably another year until it’s on the shelves. So no matter which route you go, publishing is neither easy nor quick, and both have their pluses and minuses. For now, I’m content with both.

Writing comes with all kinds of difficulties to create a exciting plot and interesting characters. With Historical Fiction, is there a certain type of roadblock you overcome in this genre?

One of the roadblocks is trying to take away our modern sensibility of right and wrong. The religious persecution of that era was horrific and merciless. And, even though we had Queen Elizabeth, and for all intents and purposes Catherine Medici in France, misogyny was ordinary and expected. For a woman to speak her mind could mean death (just ask Anne Boleyn). And yet, there were men who treated their wives and daughters with deep love and respect, and there were women who owned successful businesses and controlled nations. Add to that, the story and characters have to be appealing to the modern reader, so, while the king in my story is a pretty affable guy, he makes some cringe-worthy comments that would be commonplace in that era. So I work hard at balancing the era and the reader, as well as the story I want to tell.

What are you working on now? 

Too many things! I’m currently writing the prequel to the Realm series called Sword & Shield, about when the future king was exiled and the future queen grew up in the country. I’m also finishing up the editing of Crown & Thorns, the final book in the series. I’m also researching the next two books I have slated to write, one, about Queen Jezebel and the prophet Elijah from the Bible, called Thrown to the Dogs will be sort of a Poisonwood Bible meets The Red Tent novel, and another about a group of five women friends in the fifties and sixties called Round Robin.

And of course, the book my agent is selling, with the working title Ghost of a Woman, is about a modern day mother who dies in her house and is doomed to haunt the inhabitants. It weaves family trauma, self-discovery, and fractious female relationships into a story about the bonds of love and sacrifice that run deeper than death. And oddly, it’s funny.

J.L. Spohr's work can be found online at her website, amazon.com, and your local bookstore. You can find more of J.L. Spohr's work and follow her on what she is workingon next...

Website: www.jlspohr.com     
Facebook: facebook.com/jlspohr
Twitter & Instagram: @jlspohr 
 
J.L. Spohr, thank you for being a part of my project. 
 
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elizabeth@elizabethogle.com (Elizabeth Ogle) https://www.elizabethogle.com/blog/2016/6/jlsphor Mon, 20 Jun 2016 19:20:43 GMT
Authors: Stories Behind the Books, Sheila Kelly https://www.elizabethogle.com/blog/2016/6/sheilakelly "I am a accidental historian," Sheila Kelly told me in her interview for the Author project. Sheila Kelly is a Washington native but has family ties to Treadwell, Alaska, the historical gold mining town on Douglas Island, not too far from Juneau. Sheila has spent over two decades researching her family's history and the people of Treadwell for her book, Treadwell Gold, An Alaska Saga of Riches and Ruin. It became important to her that she she learn where her family and the native people of Alaska came from, what goals did they accomplish in their life and how it help shape that particular corner of the United States. 

Describe your relationship with Treadwell. How did your interest of the town start? 
In the early 1900s, my father and four aunts were born and raised in Treadwell, Alaska, a hard rock gold mining town on Douglas Island across the Gastineau Channel from Juneau. For a moment in time, Treadwell was world famous, the largest gold mining operation in the world creating far more wealth than the flash in the pan Klondike Gold Rush. An unusual company town, complete with a country club, grew up around the mines. As I reached middle age, I was hungry for family history.  My father had already died. I sorely regret not having listened as a child when he tried to tell us about how things were “in the old days” when he was growing up in Treadwell where his father was a machinist for the mining company. But my aunts regaled me with stories about living a gracious life in a mining town up on the Alaska frontier. That is where my interest started.

What was the extent of your research when interviewing locals? 
I started out trying to write about my family, the Kellys of Treadwell who had lived there from 1899 to 1925.  But most of their contemporaries had died and the town no longer exists. I did track down, interview and share photo albums with a few friends, the son of the Swedish hoist operator, and two sons and one daughter of three superintendents. I became interested in their stories too. I scoured the files of the local newspapers and the archives of the Alaska State Library.  As I immersed myself in the treasure trove of historical photos of Treadwell, the town became a compelling character, not just the backdrop. Several historians in the Juneau area assisted me and gave me access to their files.

Did you have any difficult moments or roadblocks when you were researching Treadwell and/or what were some surprising moments for you? 
My goal in writing the book was to bring Treadwell to life through the true stories of those who lived there. With passing time, it became impossible to interview the people and I had to turn to books and articles for personal accounts from underground miners, and workers’ stories of struggle for better pay and working conditions. I also needed to know more about southeast Alaska’s indigenous population, the Tlingit. 
I started out focused on the human interest aspect of the good life in this company town on top of a gold mine on the Alaska frontier.  In the end I decided that the town itself should be given a leading role. Treadwell deserved to be recognized as the original catalyst for Alaska development. Just over a decade after the 1867 Alaska Purchase, the Treadwell mines began producing enormous wealth that preceded and outlasted the fevered Klondike Gold Rush. Treadwell created a base of jobs and commerce and drew thousands of adventuresome tourists, even in the late 1800s. Treadwell put Juneau on the map. I felt a growing sense of pride that my family had been a part of this bit of history. 

According to your biography, you have been studying Treadwell for the past twenty years, how have you seen it grow or change in that span of time? 
The mines of Treadwell caved in, flooded and closed in 1917.  The town gradually became deserted and in 1926 the remaining buildings burned. The first time I visited there was 1982. Today all that is left are remnants of buildings along the Treadwell Mine Historic Trail in a public park that skirts Gastineau Channel.  The local efforts to preserve the site have gained support because 2017 marks the 100th Anniversary of the Treadwell cave in as well as the  150th Anniversary of the Purchase of Alaska.  I plan to be part of both.

You have been in the process of turning your book into a theatrical production. How do you begin to turn Treadwell Gold into a theatrical production? Picking out the protagonist, writing conflicts, how do you go about writing dialogue to bring your book to life? 

As part of these two Anniversary events mentioned before, I envisioned a play that captured the drama of the story of Treadwell. Transforming an extensively researched (20 years!) non-fiction book Treadwell Gold, an Alaska Saga of Riches and Ruin (University of Alaska Press, 2010) into as 90-minute theater production required a different way of telling the story and a different set of writing skills. Everything has to be in dialogue, not my long and carefully-crafted pieces of exposition. Characters are conflated, or invented. The timeline is adjusted to increase the drama.  It is a challenge that activates other parts of my creative brain.  I am a non-fiction writer not a playwright. I am working with a playwright Rachel Atkins who will develop a script to adapt my book to the stage.  (..then maybe we’ll move on to Treadwell the Musical!)

What do you want readers to take away from your story as well as the stores from the people of Treadwell, Alaska? 

I encourage people to explore their own family background and the historical context in which it happened. I say “My family made history….and so did yours.”  It is the weaving together of personal stories that make up the fabric of history and tell the whole story, more so than dates of battles and events. A caveat.  Beware the seduction of historical research—aka the Rapture of Research. I became enthralled with archives and primary sources and was easily hijacked by intriguing side stories.  Yes, it all contributed to making my book more than a family memoir, but it also explains why it took 20 years to get it published. I am an accidental historian.  

Sheila Kelly's book, Treadwell Gold, An Alaska Sage of Riches and Ruin can be found on Amazon.com for purchase as well as your local book store. You can find more about Sheila Kelly and Treadwell, Alaska at http://www.treadwellgold.com/

Sheila, thank you for being a part of my project. 
 

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elizabeth@elizabethogle.com (Elizabeth Ogle) https://www.elizabethogle.com/blog/2016/6/sheilakelly Tue, 07 Jun 2016 17:13:18 GMT
Authors: Stories Behind the Books, Brian Dickinson https://www.elizabethogle.com/blog/2016/4/briandickinson I had first heard about Brian Dickinson while listening to The Mens Room on 99.9 KISW. After hearing Brian tell his story, I knew I had to include him in this project. His book is called Blind Descent, his story of how he summited Mt. Everest alone and his difficult journey back down. Mt. Everest is the tallest mountain in the world, located in Nepal standing near 30,000ft above sea level. In his interview below, Brian talks about his preparation and how it certainly was not easy. 

How long did you have your goal set on to climb Mt. Everest?

I’m not sure exactly since I’ve always been a big goal-setter and adventurous. I think the seed was really planted when I saw the Everest IMAX movie in ’98. I made a goal to climb the 7 Summits in ’08, which started making Everest more of a reality.

Can you talk about the window of time for climbing Everest? What time and how long is that window?

Everest is typically climbed in April and May, but some people have climbed it in the Fall.  Since there’s only 1/3 of the air above 26,000’ (Everest’s summit is 29,035’), it takes 2 months to climb. The first month is acclimating to the higher altitudes so that your body is prepared to make a summit attempt.  Once you’re fully acclimated you wait down at base camp for a 5 day weather window to make an attempt.  There are only a couple days during the year that allow climbers to reach the top since the summit sits up in the jet stream and creates it’s own harsh weather patterns.

How do you choose the right Sherpa to summit with you and why did you only choose to summit with one Sherpa and not a group?

There are a few options when preparing an expedition. A western guided trip will handle all of the logistics and is the more popular method.  I climbed independent, meaning I wasn’t part of a large team. I coordinated my Sherpa support and permits through a resource I know back in Seattle.  I chose this route because I’ve had a lot of experience on other mountains and didn’t want to be a part of a larger team. It was a very intimate experience to have that much solitude on Everest.

Did you think about turning back when your Sherpa became ill?

Absolutely. Pasang and I had a conversation at 28,000’. We weighed out everything we knew at the time.  We discussed the weather (good), how I was feeling (good) and most importantly how he was doing.  He assured me he was fine and could get down.  If I would have known what was going to happen I would not have continued, but in the mountains you live and die by decision.  Fortunately I lived to tell.

When you started to descend down the mountain you had one life threatening occurrence after another, you lost your vision and you were low on oxygen to name a couple. During these moments, did you feel a spiritual force or a presence that could be challenging you at that time or helping you along the way?

I definitely felt a presence around me, but not one that was challenging me. There were definitely life-threatening challenges, but I feel the presence was keeping me at peace to overcome the obstacles. Then at 27,000’ I ran out of oxygen and when I dropped to my knees to pray I truly witnessed a miracle that ended up saving my life.

When you finally reached the base camp and you were able to get medical aid, what was the process like to get your eyesight back? Are their any long term effects of being snow-blind?

My eyesight didn’t completely return for over a month. It was a very painful and frustrating process, but eventually I could see again.  I do have long-term damage in my left eye but it’s not too bad.  It could be a lot worse.

Would you ever want to summit Mt. Everest again or what is next after climbing the tallest mountain in the world?

One of the best parts of climbing is the descent. That’s when you get to see everything you endured on the way up since you typically climb thru the night and summit in the morning. I didn’t get to see anything on the way down.  It would be nice to see that amazing view on an uneventful descent, but I have no plans to return to Everest. There are no shortages of adventures on this earth and my kids are old enough now to explore the world with me.

How long did it take you before you decided that you wanted to share your story or what made you want to share your story?

As soon as I returned I was bombard with media coverage so the story quickly got out there. I was then introduced to my agent, Working Title Agency, and they got a contract with Tyndale House publishing.  It all kind of happened quickly. I was just trying to climb a mountain and the next thing I’m sharing my story of survival with the world. Life is certainly interesting.

 

To read more about Brian Dickinson and see/hear interviews about him, you can see all on his website at http://www.briandickinson.net/  You can also follow Brian on Twitter: @briancdickinson  His book, Blind Descent can be found on Amazon.com and your local book store. 

Brian, thank you so much for being a part of this project. 

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elizabeth@elizabethogle.com (Elizabeth Ogle) https://www.elizabethogle.com/blog/2016/4/briandickinson Mon, 25 Apr 2016 16:00:00 GMT
Authors: Stories Behind the Books, Boyd Morrison https://www.elizabethogle.com/blog/2016/4/boydmorrison As I continue this project I have been very fortunate to have met authors of different genres. The next Author I am happy to include in my project is Boyd Morrison.

 

You have an incredible amount of work published. How do you keep the ideas rolling? 

I really wish I knew how my brain worked (so does my wife). It would make things so much easier. But it works in a very haphazard way. It just throws story ideas at me whenever it wants, which is a lot of the time. When I read a news story or watch a TV show or when I'm simply walking around, my mind says, Hey! What would happen if...? Sometimes it becomes a story, but most of the time it just rattles around in there. 
Ideas are not my problem. I've got tons of those. Ask any writer, and he or she will tell you that it's getting an idea formed into a 400-page sensible plot with interesting characters and exciting events that is the hard part.

 

Can you talk about your collaboration with Clive Cussler. How did that creative relationship develop?

Clive has been incredible to work with. I’ve been a fan of his books for decades, and I’ve often said that Raise The Titanic! is the book that first got me interested in thriller novels. So it’s a real honor and privilege to be collaborating with him now. When he was looking for a new co-author on his Oregon Files series, he went to his local mystery bookstore and bought a couple of my books on the owner’s recommendation. He loved them and called my agent to ask if I’d be interested in writing with him. When she relayed the message to me, I was stunned to know he’d enjoyed my books and of course I jumped at the chance to work with him. Two weeks later we got together to plot out our first novel, Piranha.

 

Was there any one of your novels in particular you found difficult to write? You mentioned you have a tendency to be self-critical. Was that a factor?

I don’t know a single author who isn’t self-critical, so I can’t say I’m unusual. My wife will vehemently concur that about halfway through each book I write, I’ll come to her and say the story isn’t working and I don’t know how to fix it. She always talks me down from the ledge and I eventually figure it out, but it’s so painful at the time. When I wrote Rogue Wave, I had originally written much of the book in the first-person point of view, but when I finished the book, it just wasn’t working. So I had to go through the entire book and change every page to the third-person point of view. The end result was definitely worth it, but it was a real chore.

In 2011 you wrote an article for the Huffington Post about the timeline of eBooks and the unforeseeable future of print. If you were to write that article today, how do you think it would be different? What is your prediction in 2016?

That’s funny. I completely forgot I wrote that article! I agree with my 2011 self that it’s difficult to make predictions, so I don’t think I’d write it much differently except to note the major changes to the industry in the last five years. Since then Borders has gone out of business, ebooks are a large part of the market now but in no danger of decimating publishers or consigning hardcovers to the dustbin of history, and Fifty Shades of Grey and The Martian became massive hits after starting off as self-published books. I will say that it seems as if the huge technological and business changes to publishing have abated a bit. I wouldn’t be surprised if we see more Amazon brick and mortar bookstores in the coming year.

Speaking of that article, eBooks to pBooks, the rejection paragraph compares you to Dan Brown and your literary partner, Clive Cussler. Did this part in particular shock you? Were you offended or surprisingly flattered?

I’m very flattered to be compared to successful and beloved authors! Many of my online reviews from readers do exactly that, and I always appreciate it when I’m compared favorably. Given how readers find books, by getting recommendations from Amazon or their friends ("if you liked that, you’ll love this"), I can’t be too surprised when they make the explicit comparison. In fact, I think that’s why I'm such a good fit with Clive; many readers have said that if you like Clive Cussler, then you like my books, so writing with him seems like a natural progression.

You said after frustrations, you picked yourself up and started writing another story. Did you worry though about how to stand out from those authors or did you not worry?

I think all writers should spend some time thinking about why their story needs to be told. What makes this story different from the others out there? If it’s a slavish stylistic copy of a Clive Cussler or James Rollins novel, what’s the point? Those authors have scores of novels to read, so what are you adding to the genre? For my part, I hadn’t seen a story with an engineer who was an action-adventure hero, so as an engineer myself, I wanted to read that. And because I’m a scientist as well, I wanted my explanations to famous legends (Noah’s Ark, the Midas touch, the Loch Ness monster, the Roswell incident) to have a scientific, non-supernatural rationale while still retaining the air of mystery, which I thought would be unusual. But what I really think about now is that I want to write stories that only I can tell. If I do that, then I think I’ll be on the right track.

 
 
You can read more about Boyd Morrison and find his books at http://www.boydmorrison.com/   His books can also be found on store shelves at Barnes and Noble and Amazon.com. You can also follow Boyd on Twitter: @BoydMorrison
 
Thank you Boyd for being a part of this project! 
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elizabeth@elizabethogle.com (Elizabeth Ogle) https://www.elizabethogle.com/blog/2016/4/boydmorrison Tue, 19 Apr 2016 03:36:14 GMT
Authors: Stories Behind the Books, Kevin O'Brien https://www.elizabethogle.com/blog/2016/3/kevinobrien After meeting Seattle Author, Kevin O'Brien, I had to ask the cliche question of, "How can someone so nice and friendly as you write menacing thriller novels?". To which he laughed and said, "I just enjoy it." To be honest I shouldn't have been surprised or stunned by his answer. I consider myself to be a generally friendly, happy-go-lucky gal with an excitement for a good scare just as Kevin writes. We both share a love for Hitchcock films and cat-n-mouse story lines that send audiences on adrenaline rides all for a good scare. So to recap, I still feel silly for having to ask. Kevin O'Brien gives a great interview about his influences, his near non existent sleep schedule, and a detailed explanation of how one of his books almost made it to the big screen.

Let’s start with my cliché question…In person, you are very welcoming, friendly and upbeat; so what made you choose Thrillers as your writing niche?  I guess I am leaning towards when we talked briefly about everyone having a dark side, but how is it fun to make these cat-and-mouse plot lines?

People who read my thrillers are always surprised that I’m not like Hannibal Lecter.  “You’re such a nice guy!” they say in amazement.  But even as a kid, I was interested in Alfred Hitchcock movies, The Twilight Zone, and things that scared me.  I’m still a huge Hitchcock fan.   My first two novels weren’t thrillers.  The second one, ONLY SON, was a tough sell, but once it sold, it did really well—with a film option and a deal with Readers Digest in several countries.  My agent advised me to try writing a thriller, because genre books are easier to sell.  “Plus, you love Hitchcock!”  So—I kind of tapped into that part of me that likes a good scare, and I used it in my writing.  I really had to tap into some dark places sometimes—and ended up scaring myself.  But that’s when I knew I was onto something—when I made those little hairs stand up on the back of my neck.  I wrote THE NEXT TO DIE (1999), which it became a USA Today Bestseller, and that sealed the deal. I’d found my niche.   

When you explain to a new audience of what you write about, do you get a weird look? 

Usually, it’s when I tell someone the plot of one of my books that I get the strange look.  For example, someone recently asked me about the storyline for DISTURBED (2011), and I started to describe it: “Well, the police are trying to catch this guy they call the Cul de Sac Killer, because he murders people in houses that are on cul de sacs and dead ends. He puts their bodies in closets throughout the house, and he steals the ‘No Outlet’ sign at the beginning of the block…” That’s when I got the wary look, and the guy backed away a bit.

Who or what is your inspiration for your storylines, characters, and themes?

A good author is always observing and imagining.   Often, I get a plotline after connecting a couple of totally unrelated stories I’ve read or heard (fiction or non-fiction).  My editor often throws ideas at me that same way: “I was on the subway, and thought it would be interesting to combine Black Widow and The Stepfather.”  So—I came up with this notion of a woman who keeps marrying widowers, and then ends up killing them and their kids.  From there, I had to start thinking about how she’ll pull it off, how this killing pattern fails to get the attention of the police, what her motivation is, and who will be my hero or heroine—the one to stop her.  That plotline became my 2014 thriller, TELL ME YOU’RE SORRY.

When do you do most of your writing?  What is your schedule like as a full time writer?

I’m a night owl and write mostly late at night.   This is ideal for me as a thriller author.  It’s easier to imagine creepy situations and plot developments when I’m writing at one in the morning.  Plus it’s a lot quieter—and there are fewer distractions.  During the day, I work on administrative stuff—answering emails, arranging author appearances, and self-promotion on Facebook.  As I get closer to my book delivery deadline, I write day and night to get the damn thing finished—by then, that’s what it becomes known as, “the damn book.”

You mentioned to me that one of your books was close to getting a movie deal, which I am sure is very exciting! Can you elaborate on that experience?

ONLY SON was a hard sell, and my agent decided to switch strategies. She'd been shopping it to publishers, but began to pitch it to producers, stars, and production companies, too.  We had a few nibbles and then finally, a solid bite from producer/director and writer (THE OMEN), David Seltzer.  He told us he needed to show the book to a leading man he had in mind--and if the leading man came aboard, he'd make us an offer.  He wouldn't say who the leading man was.  But apparently, the guy became interested, because Seltzer took it to MGM, and they agreed to produce the movie. 

It was then that Seltzer told us the leading man who wanted to be in ONLY SON was Tom Hanks.  This was right after PHILADELPHIA--with FORREST GUMP about to be released.  Hanks was the hottest thing around at the time.  I was ecstatic.  I never talked directly to Mr. Seltzer or Tom Hanks.  But I did get a very nice email from John Pielmeier (AGNES OF GOD) who was writing the screenplay. I had nothing to do with it.  But I did get a sizable check, which allowed me to put a nice down-payment on my condo.

Meanwhile, the movie deal got publishers (who had been uninterested for over a year) to notice ONLY SON.  Kensington bought it, and really gave me the first class treatment (I'm still with them...they're fantastic).  Meanwhile, Holly Hunter (like Hanks, she'd just won the Oscar that year) was "interested" in playing the female lead.  In interviews, Tom was referring to his next film project as very "unusual" for him--and he even told a funny story from the book on The Tonight Show. I was in heaven.  

Then it all started to unravel.  They said the screenplay needed work.  Tom Hanks decided to write and direct THAT THING THAT YOU DO.  They started going from one "interested" leading man to another, and they all eventually lost interest.  MGM had a change in hierarchy, and the project was officially dropped.

At least I got to keep the money.  It's set up so that they "option" the book--so no one else can get it--for a year to 18 months.  If principal photography had started on the movie within those 18 months, I would have gotten A LOT more money. But they let the option expire, and no one else picked it up.

I never got to see the screenplay. It's my understanding that the book writer is always the low man on the totem pole in these movie deals--unless the book is a mega-hit.  

Over what span of time did it take you to write 15 thrillers? Are you a fast writer or do you go back and forth a lot?

I wrote my first two books (one published in 1986 and the next in 1996) while working full time as a railroad inspector. I started writing full time in 1998. So—I’ve churned out a thriller practically every year since 1999. I start out slow every time I begin a book, but as the delivery deadline looms closer, I write faster and faster. There’s lot of sleep depravity close to finishing up.

How do you feel when you are due with a story and how much time do you give yourself between books?  Is it like you have to shake the previous one out of your system?

Well, I delivered my next book, YOU’LL MISS ME WHEN I’M GONE, in early-December.  When I turned it in, my editor emailed and asked, “Have you given some thought to your next book?”   So—I pretty much started jotting down ideas around Christmas time (Ho-Ho-Ho!).  I’m now writing an extensive outline—which is more like a condensed version of the book I’m proposing (with dialogue and description).  It usually comes in at around 90 pages.  I want to get it to my editor by the third week in March.  And of course, it’ll be tough to shake off the last book, because this week, I’ll also be going over the copyedited version of YOU’LL MISS ME WHEN I’M GONE, and then I’ll be writing stuff about it to promote it on my website.  No rest for the wicked!

 

Do you tour much around the country or mostly local?

My book tours are mostly local, here in Seattle.  I’ll also travel to different spots in Washington and Oregon.  Every year, I’ll promote a new book in Chicago, where I grew up—and I do that on my own dime.  Occasionally my publisher will pay for me to go to some big event in another part of the country—and that’s always fun.  This August, I’ll be a keynote speaker at the Killer Nashville book festival.

Anything else I forgot to mention or anything else you would like to add?

Yes, be sure to check out YOU’LL MISS ME WHEN I’M GONE at your local bookstore or favorite eBook venue on July 26, 2016.

 

To find more of Kevin O'Brien's work, please visit his website at http://www.kevinobrienbooks.com/

You can find Kevin's books available for sale at Seattle Mystery Bookshop in Pioneer Square, Queen Anne Book Company on Queen Anne Hill, The Elliot Bay Book Company in Capitol Hill and last but not least, on Amazon.com.

I also want to thank my friends and professional peers for supporting me in this project as I continue along.

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elizabeth@elizabethogle.com (Elizabeth Ogle) https://www.elizabethogle.com/blog/2016/3/kevinobrien Tue, 15 Mar 2016 19:47:56 GMT
Authors: Stories Behind the Books, Elissa Washuta https://www.elizabethogle.com/blog/2016/3/elissawashuta My next Author I would like to present is Elissa Washuta. Elissa is the author of two memoirs, My Body is a Book of Rules, Starvation Mode, and various articles published in Third Coast, Salon, and Buzzfeed. In her memoirs, Elissa presents herself whole heartedly to the reader and doesn't hold back on discussing difficult topics such as rape, mental health, the pressure to fit in, and her ethnic identity. In her short essays, Elissa focus's on writing pieces based on her Native identity and experiences of being a member of the Cowlitz tribe. She challenges the representation of how Indigenous people are written in pop culture and how the movies get it so wrong. 

How did you begin to write My Body...? It is a brave thing to do to outline your personal history for an audience. What challenges did you face? 

It started with a single essay that I wrote during my first quarter of grad school. It wasn't meant to go anywhere, at first--it was just an aside to the fiction I was writing in the program. The writing process was draining--I was writing about rape, bipolar mood swings, Native identity issues--but it was exciting work because I was working on crafting my experience into art that I was intensely proud of. My biggest challenge was in finding a publisher. For a while, I thought the book might never come out.

Elissa WashutaElissa Washuta

What made you want to tell your story? 

I began writing My Body Is a Book of Rules after a few years as a fiction writer. Once I attempted nonfiction, it became clear to me that my fiction was flat and kind of bored me, and that was because the subject matter and the explorations of character didn't feel true. I was trying to write about subjects and characters that I thought would be interesting to readers, and I sort of lost sight of what was actually interesting to me. I realized that my life was good subject matter because I could use the things that I had done and experienced as vehicles to build myself as a complicated character. And I really wanted to find a way to depict the ways in which I had struggled. I don't really like to talk about those things, because I can only get the words right when I work hard to chisel them out as precisely as possible. 

Can you talk about the cover of, My Body is a Book of Rules? What is the symbolism and design behind the cover?  
Red Hen Press gave me the opportunity to send along images to give them a sense of my visual aesthetic as they were working on the cover. I didn't even know how to begin, so I Googled "art" and soon enough found Elle Hanley's amazing work. I sent the press a few of her photographs, and soon, they were able to license the image for use on the cover. The piece is called "Ondine's Choice," and I believe it is based on a Greek myth. For me, it resonates on a visceral level--the many wrapping arms, the weird fish.

For those who have not read Starvation Mode: A Memoir of Food, Consumption, and Control, how does it differ from your first? 
It's short--maybe a quarter of the length of My Body Is a Book of Rules. And while the first book is an interweaving of so many of my core concerns and conflicts, Starvation Mode is really focused upon my lifelong disordered eating. It's still structurally weird, but the focus is narrow.
 
 
After you write a essay or a next chapter, how many times do you look over it? Are you set on the words you put down or do you go through multiple drafts?
 
It varies. I always go through at least three drafts, sometimes dozens and dozens, sometimes fewer. My writing process is incredibly slow. I am painstaking in editing as I go. For that reason, a first draft is sometimes not too far off from the final. I sometimes write and discard entire essays, only to return to the subject matter later with a completely different approach. That feels like creating multiple drafts, even when none of the words are the same.
 
 
You have written essays about Native Americans being depicted in pop culture incorrectly. Would you change this?
Certainly, I would like to see representations of Native people as complex humans with our own trajectories, differences, and value independent of settler lives and aims. Movies with Native characters usually take place at least 150 years ago, and Native characters appear in support of (or as a threat to) a white character's goals. In most Hollywood depictions, Native characters get to be brave, noble, savage, lusty, doomed, unintelligent, or bloodthirsty, but they don't get to have complexity. Most representations of Natives in books and movies are created by non-Natives. I wish that were different. I wish the book-buying and movie-watching public had more interest in Native stories--the ones we tell about ourselves.
 
What are you working on now? 
I'm working on a new book. All I really know right now is that it will be nonfiction, and it involves a ridiculous amount of research. I don't really know what it's about--I never do until I'm done. I know that might seem like an evasive answer, but I've decided to stop talking about what the book is about and then changing everything.
 
You can find more about Elissa Washuta, appearances, and future publications can be found at http://washuta.net/
 
Thank you Elissa for being a part of this project. 
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elizabeth@elizabethogle.com (Elizabeth Ogle) https://www.elizabethogle.com/blog/2016/3/elissawashuta Thu, 10 Mar 2016 05:50:17 GMT
Authors: Stories Behind the Books, Carol Levin https://www.elizabethogle.com/blog/2016/3/carollevin I am so excited to have Carol Levin a part of the Author project. Carol Levin is a poet, a genre that I had yet to add to the project. When I arrived at her home I was in awe of it. She toured me around her charming home, most of it handcrafted by her husband. Bedrooms reconfigured with beautiful bay windows that overlooked Puget Sound. When I saw her office, I was in double awe of the bookshelves that surrounded her while she writes. But I couldn't resist getting a portrait in her living room with that beautiful PNW view. Below, Carol gives a very wonderful interview and talks about how life lead her to this path. 

Where do you find inspiration for your poetry?

One of the first jewels of instruction I had about poetry was that “anything can be a poem” (the more interests and experiences you have the more material is available to you) Often my poem begins with what I call a —riff-  words I have thought, or overheard, or read or dreamt. Then I can play with them developing content, music, surprise, narrative, etc. I never know where this fooling around will take me, it can continue for years. Sometimes the process is excruciating, sometimes exhilarating.

Poetry may not be written as linear as a full novel of character development with plot-twists. Do you have a timeline for writing or how do you know when a collection is done and you feel good about?

First, In my wildest dreams I can’t envision how a person can write a novel!!!! It is a totally different process.

When working on each of my four poetry collections I have been lucky enough to have had published, I had composed many more poems than were included in the final book. So creating the volume becomes an exercise of exclusion. Also I invite others to read my manuscript and offer suggestions. I have learned that the writer doesn’t see a lot of potential possibilities, blatant obstructions, repetitions, or cliches no matter how long, or how close the attention he or she addresses to it. Fresh eyes are important. I am grateful for the response I have been given, the comments always lead me to something I hadn’t noticed or thought of. Another other part of the process is time. I heard Tess Galllgaher say she and her husband Raymond Carver, “put their manuscripts in a drawer for two years, when they took them out, time had done all the work for them.” For me the sense of completion is a click. (Don’t ask me how to explain that, it is a sensation based on experience)

Have you always written poetry? When did you start being published?

The first poem of mine to be published was accepted in a journal in 1996. Many years ago I could have never imagined the occupations that now are the passions of my life. No I have not always written poetry. Even though I lived in books I never wrote. I couldn’t spell, (computers solved that.) However in high school I did learn to write a great business letter. As I say I couldn’t have imagined— it is so true you never know where life may take you. I love that.

You mentioned how you prefer a quiet room as opposed to "white noise" or background noise, can you talk about that for your process of writing? Why is that important to you?

I am an auditory reader, which makes me a slow reader. When I am writing poetry I hear  it. I’m usually saying it aloud, it is akin to composing music. Any other sound—any noise—any music in my space intrudes or shuts down this process. I can’t hear myself think.

Has there ever been a time where you thought of a idea that you had to get down on paper and thought, "I'll use that one day"?--kind of tuck it away for later.

constantly. Listening and watching for possibilities is like a hum that is my friend. I always have pen and paper, and at my reading chair I have a blank notebook that I jot down this or that. I usually transfer these to my file on my computer. I have two files I call Compost I have been adding to for years. Each has over a hundred pages. When I am stuck on a line in a poem I am writing, I just scroll through until something catches my attention. Often this will shift or expand the direction I had been thinking of. It is a kind of improvisation. Also works for prompts to start writing new poems. 

Who do you gather inspiration from? 

The answer to this question moves the way the sea moves and depends on the moment I am answering relative to what came immediately before.

I can explain that after I was introduced to haiku in an acting class and began writing haiku I also met Denise Levertov. We had lively conversations several times not about poetry and one day I said to myself I cannot see this woman again without having read her poetry. I began book after book. As I read I began to ask, how does she do this? By then I was writing, and reading everything in anthologies. Anthologies are wonderful sources because you encounter many voices and can begin to explore the differences and keep track of what appeals. I found a mentor/tutor, Patricia Fargnoli who lives in New Hampshire (she later became Poet Laureate of N.H.) We worked vigorously together online and by mail for several years. At one point she told me to start submitting my poems, and she told me to go to writing conferences. I said “Who Me!!!!!” but I did, I got published and accelerated my education. I say I am “grass roots educated” 

Who are your favorite authors/writers/poets? 

My favorite poets today: Pat Fargnoli, Edward Hirsch, Gertrude Stein, Shakespeare, Robert Wrigley, Naomi Shihab Nye, Wislawa Szymborska, Patricia Smith (Blood Dazzler) David Young. Of course Levertov. That is a small sample just at this moment. Although I am thinking of some others also now. Ilya Kaminsky (Dancing in Odessa), Shirley Kaufman, Evan Boland . . . But wait there are more— Stegner, Virginia Woolf, Ann Patchett, Robert Caro, Samuel Beckett, Lewis Carroll, Beth Alvarado (Anthropologies—Memoir) Philip Larkin, Thomas Mann, Thomas Hardy, Carol Shields, Stephanie Kallos—(Seattle novelist—http://stephaniekallos.com

What are you working on next? 

Since my most recent book, “Confident Music Would Fly Us to Paradise” was released I have been just writing poems willy-nilly getting a few published here and there in journals. However within the last month I have been experimenting with, and researching history, for poems relating to the subject of weddings and marriage. 

Receiving responses and discussions of my poems always reminds me how once a poem has flown into the world it belongs to the person who reads it, however they interpret it. 

 

Carol Levin is part of the Ballard Writers Collective. You can find her and more local writers and their works at http://ballardwriters.org/about/carol-levin/

In addition, Carol is a teacher for The Breathing Lab: http://www.the-breathing-lab.com/

Thank you Carol Levin for being a part of this project. 

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elizabeth@elizabethogle.com (Elizabeth Ogle) https://www.elizabethogle.com/blog/2016/3/carollevin Tue, 01 Mar 2016 18:04:59 GMT
Authors: Stories Behind the Books, Tiffany Pitts https://www.elizabethogle.com/blog/2016/2/tiffanypitts Tiffany Pitts is the twelfth author added to my series, Authors: Stories Behind the Books. Tiffany whole heartedly greeted me into her home where I took a portrait of her sitting at her desk, which also overlooks her neighborhood and garden. Tiffany Pitts is the Author of Double Blind and Wizzy Wig, the first two installments of the Thanatos Rising Series where in her story, the cat is the real hero.

What exactly is "Thanatos Rising" mean? Can you explain what the origin is and why you chose to name your series after this? 
 
Thanatos is the Greek personification of death. Toesy's full name is Thanatos. Delilah Pelham named him Thanatos when she first adopted him but it was quickly shortened to Toesy owing to his polydactylism. When he undergoes his..uh...transformation in Double Blind, he becomes this dichotomous figure that you want to cuddle but he's also really deadly. So depending on what side you're on, it's possible he could be a personification (felinification?) of death. He is, by far, the most popular character so I decided to name the series after him. After all, he transforms from cat to demi-god so it seemed like the right thing to do. Plus, he likes fancy titles.

Double Blind is your first book in the Thanatos Rising Series. Can you talk about the origin of your characters and how you developed them? Why did you choose the point of view of a cat?

Toesy is my favorite character to write. He is the only character I have based on an actual living being. All the other people in my books came after him. Many sprang to life because of him. Toesy is based on this big, bruiser of a cat we used to have named Katzuhiro (Katzu for short). He was this huge black and white monster—like a furry land-orca or something. Wherever he sat, the room sort of arranged itself around him so that he was always the first thing you saw. He had this joyous distain for everyone and everything, unless he loved you—and then he loved you endlessly. He was the most loyal cat I have ever met. And after he died, he never quite left. 

In college you didn't study writing, you studied Botany at the University of Washington. Did you write in college at the time or when did your develop an interest? 

Yes and no. Yes, I wrote things. I wrote papers and tests and reports and labs but none of that counted as writing because it was scientific. And scientific writing has to be passive. “Things happened. They were measured. These are the results.” And of course, I knew (because I knew everything back then) that it couldn’t be real writing because real writing wasn’t supposed to be passive like that. I also kept a journal – several journals, actually—but those weren’t real writing either because those were all just snippets of ideas and things that made me laugh. It took me 35 years to realize how ignorant I was. I can’t remember exactly when I realized I wanted to write, maybe (32? 33?) but I remember my exact thought. I had just finished reading a wildly popular book series and I was thinking about how ridiculous it was. I thought, “Pft, I could write a better book than that….HEY, WAIT A MINUTE…”

You grew up in Seattle, so naturally it is where your story takes place. Are there certain parts of Seattle that you find inspirational or that give you a plot move?

I love the details of this city that make it unique. There are strange little alcoves and occurrences all over the city that are pretty amazing. For example, everyone knows about the famous Seattle Gum Wall but did you know about there’s a Mysterious soda machine on Capitol Hill? Or that less than 2 miles down the road, you can visit the graves of Bruce and Brandon Lee? How about the view from the women’s rest room at the Columbia Tower Club? It’s locally known for having one of the best views of the city. It’s so famous that the staff put up a little sign outside the women’s room door warning that No, men are not allowed to go in the women’s room, for realsies, don’t even think about it. (I may be paraphrasing). That little sign is a story in itself. I’m sure every city has these little pieces of history that make it real but Seattle’s history is my favorite. 

What about taking the audience for a ride with twists and turns in the story do you enjoy most? 

I love showing a reader something amazing or heartbreaking through the lens of a character that does not understand all the nuances of what’s going on within the scene. The character experiences one thing but the reader understands that same thing on so many different levels. I love writing animals for this reason. Cats don’t really understand the complexities of human relationships but they do understand that when someone yells and slams a door bad things are happening. They also understand that if someone smells like tuna fish, you should probably follow them. This can lead to humorous situations.

Who do you write for? Is this a book series for the whole family can enjoy?

That’s easy, I write for my friend Candy.

Of course I write for other people too but coming as I was from years of scientific thinking and writing, I had to teach myself the art of writing (and finishing) a novel. My friend Candy has always been a writer so I’d ask her questions – does this work? Is this stupid? Stuff like that. I’d write all these things and send them off to her at work. She would proof them in the afternoons when she was bored. She always enjoyed the funny bits so I did my best to make her laugh. If I could do that, I was doing something correctly. 

As for Family Friendly, it never once occurred to me that a kid would want to read anything I wrote. I don’t know why I thought this. It just wasn’t on my radar. So the first time I heard of a kid reading one of my books I was terrified. Were they appropriate? Have I been setting bad examples? I wasn’t even sure what it meant to be Family Friendly. Was that like, no sex scenes? Because the Fault in Our Stars has sex. Does it mean no swearing? Because Holden Caulfield swore, a lot. So I read each book again and I can honestly say they are no worse than much of the YA out there. Still, every time a student tells me “Oh I’m reading your book!” I have a little panic attack.

 

What are you working on next? Does the story continue?

Currently, I am writing the third book in the Thanatos Rising series, Parallax. The second book left some characters irrevocably changed and I really wanted to see how everyone lived and dealt with that. So yes, the story does continue, but only so far as the character development. The plot is still developing. I thought it would go one way but so far the story is coalescing into something I didn’t know I was going to write.

 

Thank you so much Tiffany Pitts for being a part of this project! To read more about Tiffany or find her books, you can find her at http://www.snickerpants.com

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elizabeth@elizabethogle.com (Elizabeth Ogle) https://www.elizabethogle.com/blog/2016/2/tiffanypitts Tue, 23 Feb 2016 22:23:03 GMT
Authors: Stories Behind the Books, Suzanne Kelman https://www.elizabethogle.com/blog/2016/2/suzannekelman Over the past several months I have been so happy with the progress of my Author project. Each Author has shared some insightful details about their writing careers, short personal anecdotes, and there are some laughs for sure. My next Author is Suzanne Kelman, Author, Screenwriter, Playwright, AND Podcaster. That is quite a lot of titles for one person but Suzanne is able to balance it all in her charming studio that sits just off her house in Western Washington. With 23 noted Hollywood awards to her so far, Suzanne stays humble about her successes and enjoys sharing her positivity to others. Her interview is below...

Author, Screenwriter,and Playwright, AND Podcaster that is quite a job title...er job titles. How did you fall into all three of these categories?  Did you always have a strong passion for story telling? 

 
"Fall in" is a great way to describe my career twists and turns, because there never was a real plan, one thing in my life has always led to another. My background is in theatre, and I became a screenwriter because I was writing a stage-play that wouldn't lie down and be staged, I kept visualizing it on the screen. Eventually, I gave in as the story knew the direction it wanted to go in and I learned how to be a screenwriter in order to write it. I, in turn, fell in love with this form of writing and started writing for the screen. But alas, it can be a long time waiting for films to get produced. I then became an author to sustain my screenwriting "habit." Then, I became a podcaster in order to get more attention for my book, so I could continue writing for the screen and on and on it goes, it's a little bit like the song "I knew an old woman who swallowed a fly."  
 
 
You are based in Washington, which thanks to modern technology, you can easily communicate back and forth with colleagues and people you work with, but why not be in Los Angeles where screenwriters probably dream of being? How is balancing work with being two states away from Hollywood? 
 
I live and work in a studio in the middle of the woods on our beautiful property in the prettiest state. The place I live really feeds into my writing. My environment inspires me. Yes, there are some disadvantages to not being on the doorstep of the industry I work for, but I think the payoffs easily weigh out the disadvantages. I go to L.A. two or three times a year to meet with producers and industry professionals. I try and book a lot of meetings during that time. In between I do all of my meetings via Skype and through email. I am on Skype with producers around ten to fifteen hours a week depending on where we are in the process of the project.
 
 
When a new character or a plot of a new screenplay or play jumps in your mind, how long does it take you to get it roped down on paper and into a position that fits? This is speaking more about process. Do you see plots and characters crystal clear or do you have to write down and come back? 
 

This is a great question, and the real answer is there is no rhyme or reason to how story and characters find me, and it often happens that way round. I often will get a flash of a story, usually  at a most unexpected moment, a sudden picture gets my wheels whirrring. When I was writing my screenplay Illusion I had a picture flash into my mind from nowhere of a very eccentric person sat in a ramshackle room watching 30 clocks ticking on the wall as fire poured under the door of his apartment. I had no idea who he was, why he wasn't running for his life, or why the clocks were so important, but I started to ask questions until the story began to form in my head. This is very common for me. I see a scene and as if a have just arrived as a detective in an Agatha Christie mystery, I have to figure out the reason for everything that is happening. Once the idea is starting to form out of the fog, I start writing. I don't do much plotting because I don't know who the characters are until I start writing them, and it's their character traits that plot their journey. Once I start writing I'm a Pantser. I try to write between 1000-1500 words a day. 

 
We talked about your book, The Rejected Writer's Book Club, which has been reviewed as a very funny and delightful adventure but the title poke at the rejection letters artists of any medium get when we submit work. What was your motive for this? What is your experience with rejection letters and what do you think we can learn from them? 
 
I wrote the book because I wanted to turn something that is often painful or embarrassing for writers on it's head. I saw a shame as people discussed their rejection letters and I always think a writer should be very proud of them, they are stepping stones on your journey. They say I was brave enough to send my work out into the world. So, I created a club that celebrated rejection in style. 
 
We can't forget that you host a podcast, Blondie and the Brit - Writing, Publishing and Beyond. What is your podcast about? 
 
I started the podcast with my co-presenter and business partner K.J. Waters. We met on twitter about four years ago and enjoyed hanging out together on social media. One day K.J. who is also an author, approached me with an idea of creating a podcast to support authors and writers in their process and thought we might get a little exposure for our books along the way. So, each week we interview an author or someone in the publishing industry and learn all about what is working for them and their writing process. It has been really fun and we learned so much. It has been very successful with over 50'000 people visiting the home site and we get an average of 1000 listeners a week and at this time about 70 people signed up to hear our weekly show. 
 
 
You have 23 Hollywood award nods to you, including a People's Choice Award and winner for Best Script Overall at the L.A. Script-A-Thon. What was your first award and what was it for? How did that feel to win for work that you created? 
 
My first award was for my first screenplay, "Maggie the Brave" I won Best Comedy Feature at the L.A. International Film Festival. I was so shocked that I had won that I forgot my best friends name who had travel to the event with me. The most memorable accolade I had in the Fall of 2015 which I received from The Academy of Motion Picture, Art and Sciences. A script I co-wrote placed in the top ten scripts in the Academy's Nicoll Fellowship Awards, it beat 7500 other scripts to get there. I received a beautiful award certificate signed by Robin Swicord (screenwriter of Memoirs of a Geisha) who also happens to be my mentor, and also the Academy president Cheryl Booth Isaacs. I have it framed on my wall, and I remind myself every day that people at the Academy know my name and have read my work. I always feel blown away by that thought. 
 
Has a screenwriter/storyteller, do you watch TV much? Why/Why not?  Do you think television scripts are more or less being successful for modern audiences? (This is a lot of questions but I really liked when we talked about Netflix and streaming television shows verses cable television and how the two are competing in this day and age). 
 
I hardly watch any TV or cable. I prefer to binge watch shows on Netflix and Amazon Prime. This is because I often need to be truly submerged in a show to really understand it. So if a producer asks me to write something in the vein of a modern show, I will watch as much as I can so I can truly absorb the beats of the story and voice of the storyteller. But, I don't watch regular T.V. because there is too much on and I would easily get distracted. 
 
What is next in the works for you?
 
In my screenwriting career, I am working with a producer on a very exciting new T.V. show and pilot. It is still in development right which is my favorite stage; I love to create. In my author career, I am also working on book two of my Rejected Writers Book Club series. Then I'm preparing to do a big market push for promote my the first book in the series which is being published by Lake Union Publishing in March this year.  
 

To view Suzanne Kelman's work and every aspect of her writing career, you can visit:

Suzanne Kelman: http://www.suzannekelmanauthor.com/

Goody2Productions: http://www.goody2productions.com/

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Rejected-Writers-Book-Club-Southlea/dp/1484940113/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1454542765&sr=8-1&keywords=Suzanne%20Kelman

IMDB Profile: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm5882992/?ref_=fn_al_nm_1

 

Thank you so much to Suzanne Kelman for welcoming me into her home, studio, and being a part of this project.

 

 

 

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elizabeth@elizabethogle.com (Elizabeth Ogle) https://www.elizabethogle.com/blog/2016/2/suzannekelman Tue, 09 Feb 2016 17:54:17 GMT
Authors: Stories Behind the Books, Hillel Cooperman https://www.elizabethogle.com/blog/2016/1/hillelcooperman In the fall, when the weather was still decent for an outdoor shoot, I had the chance to photograph local author, Hillel Cooperman. He is the author of the young reader series, The Madrona Heroes Register. As a kid, Hillel fantasized about dawning a red cape or a shiny utility belt of tricks to fool the bad guys. He always wanted to be a super hero. Fast forward to today, Hillel may not have the red cape or the shiny utility belt but he is a super hero in his own way that he is a dad and dads have their own brand of super powers. For Hillel, his super power is that he takes the real-life, everyday anecdotes of being a father of three and turning them into novels that kids and parents of all ages can enjoy.

 
The main characters, Zach, Binny and Cassie Jordan, are based off your own children but where did the Madrona Heroes come from? Did you kids act in a certain ways or do certain activities that planted the seed of the story?
 
I always wished I had super powers when I was a kid, or more accurately, I wished I was a superhero. Batman, to be exact. So really it was transplanting my ""childhood" fantasies onto my own kids and seeing what would happen if they came true. 
 
From your public talks, websites, and books it is very clear you are a fan of superhero and illustration. Did you alway have such a vivid imagination as a kid? Did you happen to write superhero stories when you were young?
 
I'm really a very visual person and musical person. So if anything, i spent my childhood doing a lot of drawing, and my teens years and adulthood playing a lot of music. Writing was always something that seemed mysterious and impenetrable. Writing a book seemed like climbing Mount Everest to me. But I started writing non-fiction (food blogging, writing for work) and just did a ton of it. Once I'd done it for years, I knew I could actually put together a coherent English sentence, so that last hurdle was moving from non-fiction to fiction. The vivid imagination though, that's a curse I bear to this day. 
 
Author: Hillel Cooperman
 
Zach, Binny, and Cassie have some comical and serious moments with their father, Jay. Do Some of these interactions some from actual moments with your own kids?  
 
Once my middle daughter read an argument in the first book between Binny (the middle daughter in the book) and Zach (the older brother in the book). She said, "Oh you copied that exactly from our argument last night." I explained, "You would think, except I wrote that chapter last week." She was floored. I didn't have the heart to tell her how predictable they are. Instead I just explained that I know them very very well. 
 
The Madrona Heroes are not just for children, are they? Do you get a lot of adults who are "young at heart" reading your stories? If so, why do you think that is?  
 
The story is really for all ages, though it's wrapped in some of the trappings of young adult literature. I do get just as many adults as kids reading my books. I think it's because these stories really appeal to all ages, even if the subject matter is PG or PG-13. Key in that is adding sophistication by adults, while the kids can enjoy the main notes to the story. The kids don't have to appreciate the harmonies in order for them to enjoy the books, but the adults are drawn to them. 
 
What does it mean to you when you meet young fans of your books? What has been a memorable moment for you during your neighborhood tour? 
 
It's an absolute treat to meet fans of any age. The fact that people would take the time to read something I created blows my mind. When they get invested in the story, nothing make me happier. I remember, one young boy started reading the book for an hour on the grass right next to our booth at one of the neighborhood fairs. I was so excited to watch him react to the story as it went on. 
Hillel and his Madrona Heroes
 
The Madrona Heroes keeps on going! You have promised readers more exciting stories for the next year. What's coming up? 
 
There are plans for seven books. The third book in the series comes out no later than May 2016. I actually just finished it, but it needs to be edited and have the illustrations finished. It's hard to think about books beyond that. I think there's an audience for it, that would factor into the decision in a big way.  
 
Talk about the book covers. They are beautiful illustrations. Who designed them? 
 
I knew when I started the series that I wanted to work with Caroline Hadilaksono. She made the incredible Harry Potter and Star Wars travel posters that the internet fell in love with, and she has made the Madrona Heroes books look as distinctive as they do. I'm so honored to have her illustrations grace the books. 
 
Last words to add? 
People should not be shy about getting in touch with me. I love hearing feedback from readers and fielding questions and comments they have on the books. Writing is a bot of a lonely task, so interacting with folks who enjoy the work is always incredibly motivating. 
 
 
You can get in touch with Hillel Cooperman and see more of his talks, writings and a lot more work at http://hillelcooperman.com/
You can also follow him on Twitter and Facebook.
And of course, you can purchase The Madrona Heroes Register online and in stores. http://madronaheroes.com/
 
To see more work of Caroline Hadilaksono, visit: http://www.hadilaksono.com/
 
Thank you Hillel for being a part of this project. 
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elizabeth@elizabethogle.com (Elizabeth Ogle) https://www.elizabethogle.com/blog/2016/1/hillelcooperman Mon, 11 Jan 2016 18:15:00 GMT
Authors: Stories Behind the Books-Bernadette Pajer https://www.elizabethogle.com/blog/2016/1/bernadettepajer Starting off 2016 blog post with a new author added to my project. I had the pleasure of photographing Bernadette Pajer, author of the Benjamin Bradshaw Mystery series. Bernadette wonderfully pairs her passions of writing and engineering together in a exciting murder mystery series that is based on early 20th century discoveries and the inventions that everyday play a role in our lives today. Read her interview below.

Your books are set in the early 1900's in Seattle and they feature the history of electrical invention. How did you come to write this series?

Sometimes characters come to writers fully-formed, like gifts. Professor Bradshaw showed up one day, and I just knew him. I tried to convince him to be something other than an electrical engineer--because I am not one--but he could not be budged from his passion. Luckily, it turns out I have a passion for electrical invention too, and I love to research. I find it fascinating to explore the people and inventions that laid the foundations of the world we live in today. 

We talked about your educational history, can you talk about how it influenced your writing?

My first two years of college were right out of high school. I studied pre-engineering at the UW, aiming myself towards being a civil engineer with the idea that I would help develop modern transportation systems that would end congestion and pollution. Ha! Life and love intervened, I left school, got married, began to write, and twenty years later returned to the UW Bothell campus of UW to finish my degree, this time studying disciplinary Arts and Science. It turns out I'm a much better science writer than scientist. With the Professor Bradshaw series, I'm able to marry my two passions. 

Mysteries can be fun to write because you develop the plot, the clues, and the twists to entertain the audience, but what is hard about writing mysteries? Does the murder ever "stump" you in a sense when you write the story? 

Every writer finds different aspects of writing difficult. For me, detail is hard! I'm a "big picture" thinker. I love plotting stories, figuring out motivations, deciding whodunit and why they did it. It's challenging to weave all the layers together. You have the actual mystery and its clues, then you have the false clues pointing to the wrong people, then you have personal story-arcs that impact and alter the story and the character reactions. It's a balancing act, trying to keep the reader entertained and engaged whole not giving them quite enough to figure it out. All of these elements dance around in my brain and are brilliant in there--before they're written--but then I have to find the exact right words to put on the page to transfer my ideas to the reader's brain--and that's hard. There ought to be an app for that. The historical detail, the electrical detail, even the physical detail that reveal emotions in characters. For all of that I surround myself with research and spend much time at the revision and editing stages finding the right words.   

How many hours of research do you put into this series? What is your method of research? 

I don't know how many hours, but from start to finish, each book takes me about a year to research and write. I do most research at home using online sources like the UW Digital Archives and Google Docs Advanced Search to find primary sources and photographs. I visit the UW Special Collections and other in-person sources as needed, and I consult with experts who generously share their knowledge , and read my drafts, giving advice and feedback.

You also wrote a time travel-romance, The First Time, which stepped away from the historical mystery category. Do you plan on writing more in that genre or was it a creative break from the Bradshaw series?

That was actually a manuscript I wrote many years ago, before I wrote the Bradshaw series. Every so often, I'll peek at my older works to see if they have any life in them. When I looked again recently at The First Time, I still enjoyed the story and characters, so on a whim, I updated it and self-published. It was fun creating the cover, I hired a brilliant editor, did the layout myself (tedious!), and sent it out into the world. I have a couple other time-travel manuscripts I could follow up with one day, but have no immediate plans. 

What are you working on next? 

The fifth Professor Bradshaw is percolating. The story will jump to 1907, when they began to prepare the grounds of the UW for the 1909 AYP (Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Expo), but right now I'm writing a contemporary mystery which I hope will be the first in a new series. I'm also working on a mainstream novel that has been evolving for twenty years. Not sure when it will be done, but it's one of those sort of stories I feel good about letting develop at its own pace. 

Thank you so much for your answers!

My pleasure! 

 

Thank you so much to Bernadette Pajer for being a part of this project and being so generous with your time. You can find the Professor Bradshaw Series and more at Bernadette's website: http://www.bernadettepajer.com

You can find copies of her work on Amazon.com, Barnes&Noble, and wherever else books are sold. 

 

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elizabeth@elizabethogle.com (Elizabeth Ogle) https://www.elizabethogle.com/blog/2016/1/bernadettepajer Mon, 04 Jan 2016 18:03:46 GMT
Liz Donehue https://www.elizabethogle.com/blog/2015/11/lizdonehue I had a fun shoot with stand-up comedian and my good friend, Liz Donehue! Liz called me up saying she needed new head shots for her stand-up bills. Throughout our set there was no short of jokes. Liz wasn't shy to take a bite out of a doughnut or show her 12th Man pride! All for the camera. 


 

How sweet victory is. SEA...HAWKS!


Can't no-doughnut hold me down, oh no! 

 

Thank Liz for a awesome shoot! You can find Liz Donehue yelling in a standup mic in Tacoma Comedy Club and the Comedy Underground in Seattle.

 

If you are interested in booking a head shot session, feel free to contact me on my Contact page. 

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elizabeth@elizabethogle.com (Elizabeth Ogle) https://www.elizabethogle.com/blog/2015/11/lizdonehue Fri, 20 Nov 2015 04:18:04 GMT
Authors: Stories Behind the Books, Peter Mountford https://www.elizabethogle.com/blog/2015/11/petermountford Peter Mountford is the author of The Dismal Science, A Young Man's Guide to Late Capitalism and numerous short essays and short stories. His work has been praised by New York Times as having a "fierce imagination" and the Seattle Times has described his debut novel, A Dismal Science, very savy and entertaining. Peter is very much involved in the local writing community and I am very happy to add Peter Mountford to my Author project.

When you decided to work as a full-time writer, were there any specific risks/sacrifices you were taking to reach that goal?

The possibility of financial ruin and long-term humiliation were the main risks, I think. The sacrifices were related, like a feeling of security. That said, it's an enormously privileged choice, or the fact that I was able to make the choice, that it even occurred to me as an option, underscores the fact that I grew up within a community and culture of tremendous privilege. I'm definitely a white man who is very well-educated, went to a fancy private school, and so on. I didn't grow up rich, and I've never been rich, per se, I've never made more than $100,000 in a year, but privilege isn't that simple, of course.

It probably goes without saying that every writer knows the pain of a rejection letters. Do you think those rejection letters helped shaped your writing for the future or was it noise that you blocked out? Is there any specific remark that you remember or have that kept you going?

It's not attractive to say, but the truth is that the rejection made me angry, and that anger was in part what gave me the fuel to put all that energy into writing. The "I'll show them" thing was, for better or worse, quite a useful propellant. I remember an editor that jotted a hand-written note on a form rejection pointing out that there were one or two spelling errors in the first page of the story I'd sent. Oops! I remember the many encouraging rejections I got from the Paris Review. All carefully written personal letters, which was amazing -- I kept getting them for 10 years, or so. But they've still never accepted anything. 
 
Peter Mountford, author of A Dismal Science
 
In 2012 you won the Washington State Book Award in fiction for your first novel, A Young Man's Guide to Late Capitalism. How did you feel after receiving that award?
 
I saw this email from the Seattle Public Library, and I thought it was spam. The award was announced long after the book was published, like a year and a half later. I opened the message, I was tired after a long day of teaching, and I thought it was an announcement about the award, like I was part of a mass mailing. And then it occurred to me that no, it was actually for me, and it was saying that I had won. Although I was exhausted, I got up and went for a long walk.
 
In an interview you talked about needing to "put on a performance" for your readers. What do you mean by that? Do you have a "test audience" for your work or do you trust your gut most of the time?
 
I do have a test audience, in a sense. I tend not to do a great deal of research before I start writing, because storytelling is hard enough for me without having to contend with all these facts, but once I have a draft I spend a lot of time talking to experts who know about my subject. It's big undertaking. And then I re-write. So that's one audience, and then there are friends who are writers or editors, and I'm trying to include some booksellers in that group, too, but it's a lot to ask. So, although my gut has certainly become a more reliable gauge, I do definitely get numerous people's feedback before I send it out. In terms of performance, I think what I meant was that people show up hoping to be moved, or delighted, or heartbroken. As a writer, you need to aim high, in terms of what you hope to do to your reader. Or else why would they care? It's a big undertaking, reading a novel. You spend $15-25 on this object, and then you stare at it for 15 hours or more. That object needs to be pretty special.
 
 
You are a staff member at the Hugo House in Seattle, a place where writers of all ages and backgrounds can come and work with other new and established writers to help them with their voice. Is there any other place like Hugo House?

Other cities have similar organizations, namely Grub Street in Boston, The Loft in Minneapolis, Lighthouse in Denver.

What is next on your agenda?

I'm excited to be on faculty at Sierra Nevada College's low-res MFA. People can learn about it here:
http://www.sierranevada.edu/academics/humanities-social-sciences/mfa-in-creative-writing/
And I'm also honored to have an essay in this new anthology called "Extraordinary Rendition," which you can learn about here: http://www.orbooks.com/catalog/extraordinary-rendition/
You can learn more Peter Mountford and his work, listen and read countless interviews and reviews at his website:
http://www.petermountford.com/
Also, check out the Hugo House for upcoming writer events and classes. https://hugohouse.org/
 
 
 
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elizabeth@elizabethogle.com (Elizabeth Ogle) https://www.elizabethogle.com/blog/2015/11/petermountford Tue, 17 Nov 2015 19:22:50 GMT
Authors: Stories Behind the Books, Sarah Alisabeth Fox https://www.elizabethogle.com/blog/2015/11/sarahalisabethfox Sarah Alisabeth Fox is an over-educated waitress. She is also a  author of the new book, Downwind: A People's History of the Nuclear West. Since 2005Sarah has made it her mission to educate and tell the stories of individuals and families of the western United States who have been exposed and affected by radiation contamination from the Cold War nuclear testing. During the mid twentieth century, possible nuclear war was on the horizon and families across America were being told to prepare for the worst. But while testing for these nuclear weapons were being conducted, populations living near the sites had no idea to prepare for the type of health wars and battles they were going to have to fight for the rest of their lives. 

For this portrait, I photographed Sarah at her home surrounded by her research on the table and her inspiration hanging on the wall. 

You refer to yourself as an "over-educated waitress", which I think perfectly describes how you manage to carry a server job while dedicating time to be an author, mother, and teacher on this dramatic subject. Can you talk about how you came up with that term and how you balance between the two?

People love to ask their server what they "really do" and I've answered that question thousands of times. My go-to for years was "I'm an historian and a writer, which is why I'll be taking care of you tonight. Who needs a drink to get started?" People always loved that one, but inwardly I raged a little. There's this implicit judgement in the question, that "just waitressing" isn't real work, that we've got to have something better going on with the rest of our time. Part of the rage was probably also the punchline of the joke, that waitressing pays better than doing work in environmental research or the humanities.

 

To be fair, people don't mean any harm when they ask servers what they "really do," and sometimes the answers are pretty interesting. A lot of folks are in the restaurant industry because it can be made to fit around other priorities like going to school, traveling, raising families, or pursuing less lucrative work like the arts. I've used it for all of those things. You ask about balance- for years I parented during the day, waited tables in the evenings, and wrote late at night when the house was quiet. That's shifting now that my son is in kindergarten. I get to write during the day, which is bizarre and wonderful.  I'm not unusual in this industry. Its packed with fascinating and talented people. Many of them are simply trying to pay their bills, and have no interest in selling a story about themselves to the dining public in hopes of a better tip. That's honorable, and it should be enough. The first few times I dropped "overeducated waitress" tableside it was thinly veiled code for "none of your business." But over time the term has become deeply meaningful to me, because I see expertise and education at every socioeconomic strata of society.  The world is full of overeducated truck drivers, philosopher janitors, and ditch diggers who are poets and mathematical geniuses. I've worked with cooks who were absolute masters of chemistry, taking care of their families on 11.00 an hour. We are all of us engaged in something else besides what we do for money, but at the end of the day, there is tremendous honor in labor, and I'd like to see society treat its laborers with more respect.

This question of the expertise of ordinary people doing ordinary jobs is actually a big theme of my book, which examines the way citizens without formal training discerned the presence of toxic radiological contamination in their food and communities while doing work like sheep ranching, mining, parenting, and raising food.

 

Sarah Alisabeth Fox, Author and Over-educated Waitress. Painting: Dear Downwinder by Edward Singer

When and what was the seed that got planted into your brain that started your research about radiation contamination?

In 2004 I moved to Logan, Utah to pursue a master's degree in history. I had gotten a really amazing fellowship that was going to give me two years off of waitressing to focus on my craft as a writer and a researcher, and I moved there interested in looking at an issue related to community environmental politics. I stumbled onto the stories of the downwinders pretty much by accident. I started to read these stories in the newspapers about Utah residents who remembered seeing mushroom clouds as kids in the 1950s, and subsequently observed terrible health problems in their communities, and I just had to know more. When I found out we spent 40 years testing full-scale nuclear weapons in the Nevada desert I was shocked that no one had ever told me about this chapter in history, which I learned has ramifications for absolutely everyone.  Ten years later the book came out, and eleven years later, I'm still researching the topic.

Can you talk about the individuals and families you interviewed? Is there a person or particular story that stands out in your mind the most?

I have interviewed dozens and dozens of people about this topic in the last ten years: mothers, ranchers, miners, doctors, farmers, parents, LDS bishops, social workers, indigenous rights activists. What stands out the most about these people is their courage and their eloquence. They have experienced tremendous losses and betrayals and their willingness to tell their story over and over again has helped keep this massive historical and environmental event from being forgotten in the dusty corners of history.  Its impossible to choose the story that stands out the most, but I think about Bethany Peterson a lot. She was born in 1981, the same as me, and she died from leukemia as a child in the mid 1980s. Nuclear testing in Nevada had gone underground by then, which contained a lot of the contamination, but ten years of atmospheric nuclear testing during Bethany's parents' childhood had already sowed seeds for radiation-related disease in future generations. Childhood leukemia rates jumped in Utah after nuclear testing began, and we'd probably find increases in other areas as well if we dedicated the research to it. The contamination from nuclear testing made it all the way to the east coast, and pervaded our environment and our food system at points around the country. Its really easy to become disillusioned studying this, to throw up one's hands and say its just too big a mess to solve, but thinking about it in terms of individuals who have been affected counters that impulse for me. The Atomic Energy Commission knew health problems would arise in the populations downwind of their nuclear experiments, but they pushed ahead anyway, often deliberately obscuring the contamination of the environment and the food supply. The excuse was national security, that building and testing the bombs was going to keep the entire nation safe, a greater good than protecting the health of the people who lived in the path of the contamination.  We have been asked as a nation to feel comfortable with the concept of collateral damage and necessary sacrifices, but I believe we have a moral responsibility to examine these concepts for human faces. I got to grow up. Bethany didn't.   What happened was wrong, and we need to talk about the damage that's been done.  I reject a notion of national security that involves this kind of sacrifice.  It certainly doesn't make me feel safer.

The cover art is a painting called, Dear Downwinder by Navajo artist, Edward Singer. What or how does it symbolize or represent the people affected by the exposure? Why did you choose this painting for your book cover?

Ed's painting communicates something about Cold War nuclear contamination that my words can't begin to express. Its the only imagery I've ever seen that represents both nuclear testing (mushroom cloud in the top left corner) and the toxic threat of the uranium industry (symbolized by the yellow orb beneath the mushroom cloud.)  What's more, it puts the human observer in the forefront of the image, setting us up to think about how we've been affected by these dangerous forces we've unleashed (the slashes of paint that have been drawn from the contaminating forces across the man's body). Ed Singer is an incredibly talented artist, and his skill with color and composition brings this emotional content alive in a specific landscape: his family homeland on the Navajo Reservation in Arizona, near Grey Mountain and the Little Colorado River.  I was thrilled Ed agreed to let his art grace the cover of my book, and even more thrilled when my parents gifted me the original painting after the book was published. I stare at it every day. I'd urge folks to check out more of his work at http://edsinger.weebly.com/.

Did you happen to find or interview an individual was on the other side of this issue, such as a person who was in the testing process during that time? Was it helpful, frustrating, or have good/bad impact to your research?  
 

There are plenty of people out there, many of them well-established and reputable scholars, who argue there is no connection between radiation exposure from nuclear testing/uranium industry and environmental damage and health problems. I've had a few scholars make that argument to me directly. Its frustrating, because I'm convinced by the data I've seen, but I've also learned that you can get a lot of intelligent people together to look at the same research materials, and they will come to different conclusions. I think the doubters on this topic have gotten plenty of their analysis out there, and so I'll continue to dedicate myself to building a platform for the stories of the downwinders and the uranium affected people.  There's a huge need for further medical and environmental research on the implications of the toxic exposure created by the Cold War nuclear industry, and that research won't happen if we skip right over addressing these stories because of concerns about whether or not they're statistically significant.  


After speaking to college and university students and the general public about this subject, what do you want or hope that they take away from your research and recorded stories from the population that has been affected? 

Awareness, first of all, since the story of nuclear testing and uranium mining in the West was all new material to me as a college student. This is a big part of American history that's almost never discussed, and we need to reframe our conversations about the Cold War, nuclearism, and national security to include this knowledge.  I write in the book that "all wars happen in actual places, where actual people live, grow food, and raise children," and this is something I hope resonates with students.  The other thing I really hope people come away with is a respect for the notion that people are experts on their own lives. The downwinders and uranium-affected people I interviewed became aware of contamination reaching them because they were attentive to their surroundings, the production of their food, the way environmental forces like wind and water moved through their regions, the patterns of health issues that began to arise in their communities. We're all capable of exercising this kind of awareness and I believe that its really fundamental to participatory democracy. These people who have borne the dreadful consequences of life downwind have become powerhouse organizers, activists, and incredibly effective speakers, and they've achieved huge goals, like the moratorium on nuclear testing and the passage of the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act legislation.  
 

What is after Downwind? Do you think there might be a follow-up?

   Oh, I'd love to know what's next. For now, marketing and touring this book is a full-time project.  I'm going to be teaching at University of Puget Sound next semester as a guest faculty in Environmental Studies, so I'm looking forward to that. I would be honored if I had a chance to do a second edition of Downwind someday and include some more of the material I've gathered, but I'm also looking forward to diving into new topics. There are so many different issues and narratives that arise when communities confront issues of injustice and environment, and these stories are fascinating to me, and critically important in this day and age.  No matter what I do next, I will always continue to advocate for the downwinder stories.

Thank you to Sarah Fox for letting me to include her in this project. Thank you to Edward Singer for allowing me to include your painting in the photos. 

To find Sarah's book and to hear more interviews about her research, please visit her website and blog at: http://www.downwindhistory.com/

You can also follow Sarah Fox about upcoming information and speaking on Facebook and Twitter. 

To find more of Edward Singer's work, please visit: http://www.edsinger.weebly.com/

 

 

 

 

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elizabeth@elizabethogle.com (Elizabeth Ogle) https://www.elizabethogle.com/blog/2015/11/sarahalisabethfox Thu, 05 Nov 2015 22:10:37 GMT
Pulse Fitness https://www.elizabethogle.com/blog/2015/9/pulsefitness A few weeks ago, I had the fun time and pleasure to photograph the strong and awesome staff at Pulse Fitness in Seattle. Yogi, the owner loves making exercise fun and she sure does challenge her clients! I got winded just watching the workouts. Check out the head shots of the staff that work at Pulse Fitness! 

Yogi Johnson, Pulse Fitness Owner and Bogi the pup. 

Does your business need to spruce up your staff's head shots or you need to update yours? Feel free to contact me to inquiry about a head shots session! 

Special thank you to Yogi Johnson, the Pulse Fitness staff, and Amanda O'Neill for her assistance on the shoot. 

-Elizabeth 

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elizabeth@elizabethogle.com (Elizabeth Ogle) https://www.elizabethogle.com/blog/2015/9/pulsefitness Thu, 01 Oct 2015 05:51:43 GMT
Authors: Stories Behind the Books, A.J. Downey https://www.elizabethogle.com/blog/2015/8/ajdowney Ok, now I am going to introduce you to the author who I first pitched this project idea to, A.J. Downey. After having this project idea roll around in my brain for a week I finally was ready to get it out and ask the ultimate question: "So, does this sound like a good idea or am I fooling myself?" Apparently not because A.J. was completely supportive of the idea and volunteered right there to be a part of it. She was very excited to be a part of it and I was very happy to have her be a part of it.

How did you fall into writing in your genre? 

I was actually a big fantasy and mixed genre reader and I started reading some fantasy/paranormal based romance. I liked a good love story, and the next thing I knew I decided to dust off my old writing skills. Mostly because I was spending my paychecks like water buying books. At four to five bucks a pop, reading two to three books a day, it was killing me. So, I figured that if I started writing one, not only would it keep me occupied it would save me some money. I didn’t really care if I sold any of my writing or not. I thought it’d be fun if someone got to read them and if they liked them then all the better, but it was more for me and keeping myself entertained. I just kind of started with romance because it was easy and what I liked to read and I wanted to put more feel good stuff out into the world. A.J. DowneyA.J. Downey How many books have you written and in what span of time? With how fast you write, do you ever have doubt that maybe you are not writing your best? Do you feel you should take a moment before continuing? 

Okay, so this is going to be a bit of a lengthy response, because what I’ve written versus what I’ve published are two different stories. I’m going to list them out with their publication status then I will get into how long it takes etc.

Lyrical Hearts – Published February of 2014 – No longer in print.

Heaven, Hell, and the Love In Between – Published February of 2014 – Kindle Edition only.

Hunter’s Choice – Published March of 2014 – Kindle Edition only.

Shattered & Scarred (SHMC Book 1) – Published June of 2014 – Kindle & Paperback

Broken & Burned (SHMC Book 2) – Published September of 2014 – Kindle & Paperback

Cracked & Crushed (SHMC Book 3) – Published December of 2014 – Kindle & Paperback

Masked & Miserable (SHMC Book 3.5) – Published February of 2015 – Kindle & Paperback

Tattered & Torn (SHMC Book 4) – Published March of 2015 – Kindle & Paperback

Fractured & Formidable (SHMC Book 5) – Published July of 2015 – Kindle & Paperback

The following titles are written but have yet to be published:

I Am The Alpha with Ryan Kells – To be published August of 2015 in both Kindle & Paperback

Damaged & Dangerous (SHMC Book 6) To be published September of 2015 in both Kindle & Paperback

Airs & Graces with Jeffrey Cook – To be published October of 2015 in both Kindle & Paperback

Cutters Hope – The Virtues Trilogy Book 1 – To be published Winter of 2015 in both Kindle & Paperback

These titles are currently being written:

Omega’s Run with Ryan Kells

There But For The Grace with Jeffrey Cook

Marlin’s Faith – The Virtues Book 2

Okay. So all that being said, how fast do I write them? Well, I Am The Alpha was written in 19 days with Ryan Kells and tops out at 92,000 words – around 291 printed pages in a 6x9 paperback book which is the indie publishing norm but that isn’t my record. My record is for Cracked & Crushed which I wrote in 14 days and tops out at 110,000 words… I don’t know what that translates to in pages off the top of my head. Still, at any rate, you can see I write pretty damned quick if I am given the time to do it. What I mean by that, is when I was writing all of those titles I was writing an average of ten to twelve hours a day five to six days a week. I could crank out 10,000 words a day plus if I was having a really good day. My daily record for word count came in at around 16,000 in a day.

To answer the next part of your question, yes, absolutely there are times when I feel like I am not writing my absolute best, but usually that gets ironed out in the re-reads and re-writes later down the line. When I am in a hardcore groove like that and writing as fast as I can as hard as I can to get the story on the page, all those hours, all those days in a row, I make myself take a day or two off. I go see a movie, or sleep a lot or go out and about, just to make sure I recharge. There are totally times I feel like I run out of creativity, and like my well has run dry. I don’t want to call it writer’s block because that’s not it. I just feel tapped out and need to take a break and once that’s accomplished I’m back at it fast and furious all over again.

Do you get writer's block and how do you overcome it? 

I have never had writer’s block, or if I have, I didn’t know what it was. I always have ideas and they always come through. The extent of my writer’s block usually is how do I make the jump between point A and point B in a plot and keep the story moving smoothly? I’ll get stuck in the in between phases of a story between big key scenes, but usually I muddle through okay. It’s more like writer’s squeeze than block, like I’m trucking along this maze and come to a particularly narrow opening and have to squeeze through it to keep going. Not like running smack into a wall.

You go by A.J. verses Andrea, why, especially in your genre? 

When I first started writing in junior high, it was more fantasy type stuff than romance. Back then, it was a sad reality that if you wanted to sell you needed to be a dude. Or at least, that was the widely held popular belief. My first and middle initial and last name were pretty masculine and had a nice ring to it as a pen name. I wanted a name that sounded like a real name. Something that didn’t sound contrived. So when I went to hit the self-publish button all these years later, I figured I was going to be getting married soon. That the last name I have now wasn’t going to stay my last name, so why not? It looked good, sounded good and was pretty unisex, so I stuck with A.J. Downey.

What do you have next in the works for books?

I sort of answered this back there in the ‘what have you written’ question with the upcoming titles and such, but never one to waste an opportunity, please allow me to expand a little:

The Sacred Hearts MC series – Hot, alpha male bikers, a few damsels in distress, some really steamy love stories… In this series, the good guys wear black and the white knights’ armor is leather rather than metal. The series is wrapping up with Damaged & Dangerous, out in September, but that won’t be the last of these guys. Just the end of this particular story arc.

I Am The Alpha – The hero of this one puts the damsel in distress. Not only that, he turns furry once a month. Can William Reese, son of the murdered Alpha of the Pacific Northwest Territory make things right? He’s going to try, by kidnapping the daughter of the Pack’s sworn enemy… It was the perfect plan until it wasn’t. He never counted on falling in love with her.

Airs & Graces – This is not a romance. Addy’s having a record bad morning which goes from bad to worse when she walks into work to find her boss dying on the floor. Now she’s entrenched in the mother of all supernatural power struggles… What do you do when both Heaven & Hell want you dead and the only being on your side is The Angel of Free Will, who, by all accounts, just finds you to be a nuisance?

Lastly, Cutter’s Hope is the first book of The Virtue’s Trilogy which is a spin off from the SHMC series. In book three of the SHMC series, Cracked & Crushed, you met Cutter the president of The Kraken MC in the fictional town of Ft. Royal, FL. This trilogy centers on him and some of his crew. I don’t want to say much more than that because it might give away plot points to the final SHMC novel but for the fans of the SHMC series, Cutter’s story has been a long time in coming and I know for a fact people are super excited for it.

Who are your author idols? 

Laurell K. Hamilton and Tamora Pierce. I first stumbled onto Tamora Pierce in the 3rd grade. She’s a young adult fantasy author who writes strong female characters that I can relate to. Specifically, Alanna from The Song of the Lioness Quartet. I’ve read and reread all of The Song of the Lioness Quartet and still have those battered paperbacks from oh so long ago kept in a very safe place in my house. In late junior high, eighth or ninth grade, I found Laurell K. Hamilton when all she had published was her first, second and third Anita Blake: Vampire Hunter books. I loved Anita from the word go. Tough, savvy, sassy and able to stand up to anyone and anything she was one of the hardest core female characters I had ever read and spoke to me like no other. I’ve loved following her evolution and have been reading her pushing twenty years now through over twenty novels. I still fangirl and freak out every time new Anita is set to be released.

As a reader, do you always finish a book you start?

For the most part, yes, but not always. Some are just so poorly written that I can't continue and some, the characters just get to me so badly that I can't go on. Obviously the former is a bummer but the latter is awesome! Mostly, because even though it probably wasn't the author’s intention to write it to the point the reader stopped reading, they should still chalk it up to a total win for evoking that strong of an emotion in a reader. I always leave those books four and five star reviews, even though I don't finish them.

 

Thank you to A.J. Downey for your initial an continuing support with the project.

 

 

 

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elizabeth@elizabethogle.com (Elizabeth Ogle) https://www.elizabethogle.com/blog/2015/8/ajdowney Tue, 18 Aug 2015 07:08:00 GMT
Authors: Stories Behind the Books, Sechin Tower https://www.elizabethogle.com/blog/2015/8/sechintower Sechin Tower was the last author on my list before I fully kicked this project off the ground on into a gallery. I wanted to go a more conceptual route with Sechin but still sticking to my rule of this has to be an environmental portrait. Sechin Tower was described to me as a "character", a "mad scientist" type of writer. Sechin Tower was generous to let me flip his writing desk around, which as he described, "it looks like Optimus Prime vomited wires and transistors all over it"to take his picture. I wanted to show his calm demeanor but that inside his head, the "mad scientist" was working on his latest creation... 

Describe the genre you write. What got you into it?

To me, Science Fiction is the exploration of possibilities. I've always been drawn to the genre, probably because I grew up with Star Trek and Star Wars. Unlike the usual futuristic stories, I chose to set my books in the present day with the introduction of some disruptive technologies for those lucky—or unlucky—enough to know the secret. Because of the contemporary setting, sometimes my books have been called "technothrillers" or "super-hero stories," and I'm a-okay with those categorizations, too!

 

Who are you favorite writers for inspiration OR what are you influenced by for your novels?

My favorite contemporary sci-fi writer is probably Neal Stephenson because I love the way he writes very long stories and goes into incredible detail about technology and social systems. However, my writing style is almost the opposite: I work very hard to keep things extremely simple because I want my stories to be fast reads. Sometimes it means I have to fight my natural inclinations to completely geek-out, but I think it’s a mistake to let info-dumps get in the way of the story and the characters.

I think it’s a mistake for any genre-writer to read only in his or her genre because it spawns clichés and stagnates new concepts. I really like Mark Twain for his ironic humor, Arthur Conan Doyle for plot development, and Dostoyevsky for psychological conflict. Mark Haddon’s The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime is one of my all-time favorite books and is a huge inspiration for my character Soap Lazarchek. Sechin TowerSechin Tower

 

 

What is your process? How do you begin to draft out your characters, story-lines/plots?

I’m a meticulous planner because I want character arcs to feel as tight as a guitar string. I usually start with a character, figure out what they desire most in life, and then I figure out how to challenge everything they thought they wanted. From there, I get into the plot details by creating a spreadsheet with a tiny summary of each chapter. I work on that outline for weeks, but once the blueprints are done I can write drafts extremely quickly and without fear of losing momentum whenever life interrupts.

 

Do you struggle with writer's block, if so, how do you overcome it?

I never struggle with writer’s block, but maybe that’s just because I consider staring off into space an important part of the process. Many writers seem to think that if they’re not tapping the keys then they’re wasting time, but I find that turning the story over and over in my mind is a crucial step and must be honored.

 

What are some projects you are working on now?

I’m finishing some Mad Science Institute short stories. Next up is a contribution to an anthology of Edgar Allen Poe adaptations, which I’m very excited to be a part of. After that—I’m not sure, but I’m in love with the short story format right now, so I may focus on writing more of those before developing another novel.

 

You mentioned you recently found and joined the group of local authors that you collaborate with at events/signings can you talk about that "family/friends" aspect of being invited in the community? How has it changed your process of writing or as an author?

When I started, I didn’t know anyone who had ever published a book or even finished writing one. My friends, family, and readers were very supportive, but it often felt like I was exploring Pluto because I was so professionally isolated. After the success of Mad Science Institute, I met a few other writers on line, but it wasn’t until about a year ago that I had the great good fortune to fall in with a whole gang of people who are both great writers and great people—Jeffrey Cook, A. J. Downey, and Lee French, to name a few. It’s been eye-opening to see how they bring their novels to the public and they have proven to be tremendous generous with their time whenever I have questions or just want to talk about how to go about doing the things that writers do. Writing is sometimes a rough road, so it’s great to have such wonderful travelling companions.

 

Where can we find your books?

One of the beautiful things about the ongoing upheaval of the publishing industry is that distribution is easy for anyone. The Mad Science Institute series is available on Amazon, of course, as well as all other major book selling sites, and any book store, big or small, can order the paperbacks on request. The ebooks are available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble, and you can get any electronic format you like on Smashwords.

 

Lastly, as a reader, do you feel compelled to finish a book when you start it?

Never. The Library of Congress has over 3 million books in its collection, which means if you read one a day for a hundred years you wouldn’t even read half! Everybody likes different things and should seek out different books. I’m not offended if someone stops reading my book—life’s too short to stick with a book that’s less than exactly suited to your current preferences!

 

Many thanks to Sechin for being a part of this project.

 
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elizabeth@elizabethogle.com (Elizabeth Ogle) https://www.elizabethogle.com/blog/2015/8/sechintower Tue, 18 Aug 2015 07:07:00 GMT
Authors: Stories Behind the Books, E.M. Epps https://www.elizabethogle.com/blog/2015/8/emepps Something I didn't really take into consideration when I started this project was the actual publishing process and my next Author in this project gave me information to think about as I continue to move forward with this project. I introduce to you, E. M. Epps (who goes by Emma in the real world). E.M. Epps is a science fiction and fantasy writer, manager of the used/new bookstore Pegasus Book Exchange in West Seattle, book reviewer, and freelance fiction editor. I really enjoyed my interview session with Emma because she eloquently touched on a lot important points of being published, how fast she writes, and her history of being a "pantser"?! I'll let her take it from here....

 

What genre do you write?

Science fiction of the adventure/space opera type and fantasy that I will describe as "non-epic, non-urban." Which is to say - no battles between good and evil, and no vampires. A grounded setting with a bit of magic and a lot of dialogue is more my thing.

As a friend put it to me once, "Fantasy allows a huge canvas with an infinite number of colors - and you're painting these tiny Dutch portraits in chiaroscuro." And that's so true. I write because I am fascinated by humanity and how we interact with each other and with the society and environment we live in, whether that's a pre-industrial village on the edge of the Arctic Circle, or the far future.

Yes, the actions of my characters are sometimes important in their greater world - in my last novel my characters have to defend a kingdom from invasion - but even then the problems that inspire me are human-scale. Sure, there's a battle scene: but my characters don't get a pass on all of the preparation...or the clean-up. And they're never going to be entirely sure they're doing the right thing.

 

What are some of your books, and where can we find them?

Mrs Fromish's Guests, a novelette about a witch who was trying to enjoy her retirement, but did not reckon on a pesky demon knocking on her gate. http://www.emepps.com/mfg

The Interpreter's Tale: A Word With Too Many Meanings, a novel about a linguist/interpreter amidst diplomacy, culture clash, magic, and love in a variety of forms.http://http://www.emepps.com/it

The Portrait of Géraldine Germaine, a novelette about a writer in turn-of-the-century Paris whose kitschy magazine serials start to become real. http://www.emepps.com/pogg

You Made My Heart a Hunter, a novella about a sorceress who goes to a small village to figure out her faith and life's path after being widowed. http://www.emepps.com/ymmhah

To Hell and Back Again...With a Little White Dog, a novella about an accountant who has to rescue his stepdaughter from Hell with the help of two quirky magicians and their pet dog.http://www.emepps.com/thaba E.M. EppsE.M. Epps

 

How long does it take you to write and finish a project?

Well, there were the days in which I was a "pantser" - I did not outline. One novel took fifteen years. Another one took two years (in the middle of the fifteen-year book, you understand). Then I started outlining, and that allowed me to write a short novel in two months. After years of brainpower wasted on figuring out what order scenes should go in or what to write next, being able to sit down and start typing immediately is a miraculous thing!

 

You talk about being a “pantser” (what is that?) and now you are transitioning in to being a more methodical writer. Can you explain that difference?

A pantser is a writer who writes by the seat of his pants - making up the plot as he goes along. The opposite is "plotter," which means someone who poisons his uncle with arsenic to make his rightful claim to the throne......or...wait....

 

You talked about writing one of your book in just 2 months, which is a very short amount of time. Did you have any doubt of your story or were you very confident in this piece compared to your other books that you have written?

It turned out to be exactly the book I wanted to write, and it required very little editing. I think they call that Inspiration(tm).

 

Can you talk about the benefits and frustrations with self publishing and/or traditional publishing?

I had someone ask me this while I was working and I said "do you have an hour"? Instead of soliloquizing on the topic at large I'll just speak about my own choices. When I finish one of the novels I'm working on right now, yes, I'll pursue an agent and a publisher, because I think these works will have wide appeal. But, so far, I've self-published. One reason is length. There are two - count them, two - professional markets for fantasy novellas. I have an extensive relationship with the editor of one, consisting of my SASEs and his rejection slips. (To be fair, I don't much enjoy reading his magazine, either.) The other one has a reading backlog, so it is reputed, of as much as a year.

HAHAHA. No.

I also self-published a particular novel because I thought it would be a hard sell. The cover letter would have gone something like this: "Hello, friendly agent! I have written a short fantasy novel about an interpreter on a diplomatic mission, which I wrote to fill what I felt was a huge void of Fiction for Linguistics Nerds....

Again, no.

As a bookseller, I have the advantage of being familiar with the market, and I am averse to wasting my time searching for a venue or agent for work that simply doesn't fit what's desired. I write different types of stories. Some I think are suited to traditional publication. Others I think are better served by being self-published.

 

What is the response to your work?

Either dead silence or rampant enthusiasm. And that suits me just fine. I'd rather be the favorite writer of ten people than mildly enjoyed and then forgotten by a hundred. I could (in theory) write to the median, the widely-acceptable. But I'd rather have a distinctive voice and a point of view.

I write to please myself, so I use long words and colons and lots of snarky dialogue. I obsess over the languages my characters are speaking and never let them get too mushy, even when they fall in love. I don't make any promises about happy endings. I've spent an inordinate amount of time trying to decide whether the drinking vessels in one setting are glass or clay or metal.......and whether you just went "I get that!" or "you're crazy" probably tells you whether you would enjoy my work or not!

 

What are you working on next?

Thanks for asking, because I just started a new book and I'm very excited! It's a science fiction novel about a genetically engineered fox-woman whose brain implants give her the ability to subdivide her consciousness into multiple, fully functioning sections. She has no idea how she came to have this technology, and she has always kept it secret, so when someone shows up claiming to be able to do the same thing...hijinks ensue.

There is also a wolf. Not a werewolf. A wolf-man. A man-wolf? Anyway. He's a hot nerd. It's going to be great.

 

Lastly, I gotta ask are you the type of reader who picks up a book and always finishes it?

Oh, God, no. Far from it. In order to answer this truthfully I have to put on my bookseller hat.

If you're reading for pleasure - which is why most people read - I honestly don't think you should ever finish a book you don't enjoy. We all have limited time in our life and to waste it on something that's ostensibly an entertainment, but isn't giving you pleasure - simply, why? You should value your time more than that.

When you see as many books as I do, day in and day out, you come to realize that they aren't sacred. If the only reason why you're continuing to read a book is because you want to find out what happens, but you're not enjoying the interim, just read the last few pages and move on. That may sound like blasphemy to a lot of readers and writers, I'm sure. But there are more books in the world than you could read in ten lifetimes. Some of them will speak to you. Most will not. Kind of like finding a partner, actually. Why waste your time on a second date when you had no spark on the first?

Sometimes, I grant you, a book may build slowly and won't hit its stride for fifty or even a hundred pages. But that mainly has to do with the plot, and there are other kinds of chemistry. Perhaps you love the atmosphere, or the dialogue. Or he's not so much to look at but he has a great sense of humor.

That said, I personally have finished a lot of books I didn't enjoy. But I'm not strictly reading for pleasure. As a bookseller and reviewer, it's important that I'm familiar with the Western Lit canon; as a science fiction writer it's important that I'm familiar with the history of the genre.

And, when I don't like a book, at least I get the pleasure of giving it a bad review afterward!

 

 

Thank you E.M. Epps for being a delightful part of this project. 

 

 

 

 

 

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elizabeth@elizabethogle.com (Elizabeth Ogle) https://www.elizabethogle.com/blog/2015/8/emepps Tue, 18 Aug 2015 07:05:00 GMT
Authors: Stories Behind the Books, Jeffery Cook https://www.elizabethogle.com/blog/2015/8/jefferycook One of my most favorite things during the creation of this project has been learning about what specific component about writing is important to each author. Whether it be the location where they write, the time of day that they get their best work done, or who they work with. Collaboration is a huge part of the process when writing and publishing a book and my next Author, Jeffery Cook, explains how collaboration has helped him along the way....

Describe the genre you write. What got you into it?

I write all kinds of "speculative fiction" (sci-fi and fantasy), but my very first series is alternate history / Steampunk: specifically, what's called 'emergent Steampunk.' The Dawn of Steam books, in keeping with the title, are set in what we'd call the Regency period, some time ahead of the high Victorian setting of most Steampunk fiction, and as epistolary novels, they're written in that style. But it's still very much Jules-Verne-style science fiction.

What authors inspire you to write in this genre?

Frankenstein is probably my all-time favorite novel, and we managed to work a Mary Shelley reference into Dawn of Steam. In terms of broader inspiration, science fiction and fantasy have always been some of my favorite genres, but I chose to write a Steampunk series after two of the characters came to mind in a sort of waking dream. A Steampunk setting was the only place I could see them sharing a world. I woke up from a dream picturing the heroine of one of my latest novels, too, a Young Adult contemporary Fantasy. In terms of authors, in that case, it's dedicated to the late Sir Terry Pratchett for several reasons.

Jeffrey CookJeffrey Cook

 

Do you struggle with "writer's block", if so, how do you overcome it?

It can be a recurring problem sometimes more for reasons of distractions around the house more than anything else. It's why I now spend most of the day handling the business end of the book stuff, then do most of my writing at night, after everyone, even the dogs, has gone to bed. I sometimes also use music playlists, tailored to a particular story, while writing. Additionally, it really helps to kick ideas around with co-writers.

You collaborate with a couple other authors on projects, can you describe the process?

The process is different with every collaborator. For the Dawn of Steam books, Sarah Symonds went through the draft I'd written inserting footnotes from the point of view of a future character looking back. When I helped head up the Writerpunk Press charity anthologies, that was a lot of separate writers with their own stories to tell coming together and just needing a little coordination. In the new urban fantasy A.J. Downey and I have written, we literally traded off writing chapters.

My work that's co-written with Katherine Perkins, who's also my editor on nearly everything, starts as an outline developed between the two of us--an outline that will hold until such time as it doesn't and gets rewritten. Then Kate goes through and writes large non-sequential sections, especially dialogue. Then I go through and write the parts in between, then Kate gives that an editing pass and rewrites a few sections. There's a lot of back and forth.

Why is collaborating important to you? Besides writing, do you collaborate in other forms?

Collaborative storytelling has always been comfortable for me. When I was very young, I spent a lot of time on long road trips with my dad, and he'd talk me through little collaborative stories where I got to decide what the character did. That's probably part of why, according to my mom, I started announcing that i wanted to be a writer when I was six. I've also, for most of my life, been a big fan of role-playing games and all the ideas bounced around within them. So collaborative storytelling is also a big part of my time with friends.

What are you working on now?

Kate and I are currently working on the sequel to Foul is Fair, our YA contemporary fantasy, as well as a Steampunk short story for a charity anthology.

Where can we find your books?

Dawn of Steam: First Light: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00IOC6HNU

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/dawn-of-steam-first-light-jeffrey-m-cook/1118848789

Dawn of Steam: Gods of the Sun: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00N5D9BK4/

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/dawn-of-steam-jeffrey-cook/1120235204

Dawn of Steam: Rising Suns: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00UIL0TOI/

Mina Cortez: From Bouquets to Bullets (published by Fire and Ice YA Press):

http://www.fireandiceya.com/authors/jeffreycook/minacortez.html

Sound & Fury: Shakespeare Goes Punk (a charity anthology by Writerpunk Press benefiting PAWS animal rescue): http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00UIL0YP2/

Foul is Fair: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00XDPIA7O/

Airs & Graces: http://www.amazon.com/dp/1515127486/
 

As a reader, when you start a book do you always finish it or not?

If I get through about chapter 4, I'll tend to try and finish it. That's usually enough time for me to tell if a book is going to grip me or not. If it's by an author I know or work with, I make a serious effort to finish it, regardless.

 

Thank you Jeff for being a part of this project, it was a pleasure. Special thank you to the AFK Eatery in Renton, your staff was incredibly courteous to me and my good friend/assistant, Erin Segale.

 
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elizabeth@elizabethogle.com (Elizabeth Ogle) https://www.elizabethogle.com/blog/2015/8/jefferycook Tue, 18 Aug 2015 07:04:00 GMT
Authors: Stories Behind the Books, Chris Lundgren https://www.elizabethogle.com/blog/2015/8/chrislundgren This Author post, we take you over to the east side at a diner called, Lil' John's Restaurant where I continued my project to photograph local authors in their natural, writing environment. Once I saw this diner, I thought, "oh yeah...this is perfect." This is where my good friend and author, Chris Lundgren does his writing and he gave the most interesting answer why.....

For your photo we agreed on shooting at Lil' John's Diner off of I-90 in Bellevue. Why? What is it about this place that makes you most comfortable to write? 

Lil Jon’s is an island apart from Seattle. I work in Belltown and I live in Issaquah. The restaurant is roughly the halfway point between work and home and, in the evenings, I stop for dinner maybe three times a week for two reasons. They make the best dinner salad in the Western Hemisphere and it’s completely unpretentious. It feels like a roadside diner you’d find somewhere between Anytown and Nowheresville and I can sit and eat and read or write or stare out at the sky in complete silence. It’s extremely comfortable and I will probably die in a booth halfway through my salad.

 

Cancer of my Convictions was your first book. What was your intent behind it? What was your overall response to the book? 

The book started as a social experiment. I explain in the foreword that once Facebook became a thing I saw a lot of posts that featured pictures of meals, or kids, or kids having meals and lots and lots of adorable animal pictures. Throw in a little wrong-headed political discourse and a few off color remarks and there it was. Town hall for the modern era. It seemed to me; however, that it was and is a giant electronic playground offering very little substance and no one really seemed to be connecting the way humans should connect. It's very surface most of the time. It’s fake interaction. So I thought to myself “What would happen if I started posting these hellish introspective little thought pieces I write anyway and give them to the world without comment”?

Blast the landscape with the very worst I have to offer.

I had been writing as cheap therapy for a few years anyhow and I thought it would be a great barometer for my stupid brain to see how the material would be treated in this otherwise banal wasteland of computer based idiocy. So I started baring my soul one piece at a time by posting what I was feeling at the moment. I revealed my darkest fears and showed everyone the world view of a man who does not understand the world. At all.

A few people grew concerned but, more importantly, many more people read every word and encouraged me to keep writing. Asked me for more. Once I had a good number of these pieces out of my head and on paper I decided to publish them in book form through Amazon.

Buy YOUR copy HERE!!!  

http://www.amazon.com/The-Cancer-Convictions-Chris-Lundgren/dp/149274803X

Sorry. I've been accused of shameless hucksterism before. Cheap theatrics is the actual phrase if I recall. The title refers to my realization that the things I hold most dear are the very things conspiring to kill me or drive me clinically insane. There is an explanatory chapter in the book.

Chris LundgrenChris Lundgren

How did writing this book help you deal with what you were going through? Or did it not?

Giving these reports of self-doubt and rage to the world actually went a long way towards calming my soul. I’m still a giant mess but now I’ve got an instruction manual for anyone who thinks getting close to me is in any way a good idea.

In general, when did you start writing and what struggles do you go through?

I have always written in one form or another. I turned more seriously to writing once my diabetes took its toll on my hands and pretty much killed my ability to play piano or guitar anymore. I was damn good. Worked a lot with Jet City Improv here in Seattle and played hundreds of shows. Writing is my primary creative outlet now that I can’t charm the girls with my shredding anymore.

What are you working on now? Are you working on a follow up to The Cancer of my Convictions?

There will probably be a follow up to Cancer at some point but I seem to write less of those pieces at this time. Currently I’m writing two books. The first is a diet and exercise book called “I’m On a Diet and Why Don’t You Go Fuck Yourself”. It’s a literary tool get my fat diabetic ass to the gym and stop eating so much cake. Basically a sad attempt to keep myself both accountable and motivated in my quest to see my shoes again someday. If it helps some other pathetic indoor kid with glasses so much the better.

I’m also working on a novel about my dad and the disaster it would have been had I followed in his career footsteps. He owned a diesel engine repair facility in downtown Los Angeles where I fundamentally grew up and I then worked there full time for many years before he went bankrupt. The idea for the novel actually came to me in a dream, as corny as that sounds, and I’m compelled to see it through. And sell it. And get an agent and a publisher and become a real writer with deadlines.

Do you have any favorite authors you like to read that inspire you?

I find inspiration everywhere. I read mostly biographies and current events material although there a few writers I return to again and again. Charles Bukowski, Hunter S Thompson, Don DiLillo, Hemingway, William Kennedy, John Fante. I could spend the rest of my life just rereading each of their catalogs and be as happy as a person capable of happiness.

Thanks. Buy my book. I’m dead serious.

http://www.amazon.com/The-Cancer-Convictions-Chris-Lundgren/dp/149274803X

Question I am asking every author, as a reader, o you feel compelled to finish a book once you start? 

While I am usually determined to finish anything I start reading I have only stopped reading a book once and it was for a very good reason. When the Picasso show came to Seattle a few years ago I went fundamentally because I had never understood Picasso and I thought that perhaps seeing the work in person would give me a better understanding. The show was arranged chronologically and what I saw was a brilliant young artist turn into a grotesque cartoonist. The final few paintings were blatantly obscene primary color fuck yous to the people that viewed them. The last was a large canvas Picasso had painted late in life that featured his them 19 year old mistress. Naked. Exposed. Throw at you in a manner that said "I need to get back to having sex with her so enjoy these sloppy, massive brushstrokes"

Still convinced I was missing something I picked up a copy of Arianna Huffington's extensive biography. Halfway through this exhaustive tome, written by someone clearly mesmerized by the Picasso allure, I decided I had been absolutely right about this petty, miserable, mean little swindler and I vowed to stand by my initial assessment while hurling the book across the room.

 
Thank you for being a part of this project, Chris, and your honesty. 
 
Special thank you to management and waitstaff at Lil' John's Restaurant for dinner and letting an author and a photographer hijack your dining room for a couple hours.
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elizabeth@elizabethogle.com (Elizabeth Ogle) https://www.elizabethogle.com/blog/2015/8/chrislundgren Tue, 18 Aug 2015 07:02:00 GMT
Authors: Stories Behind the Books, Lee French https://www.elizabethogle.com/blog/2015/8/leefrench To kick off my project, I first photographed local author, Lee French. Lee is a superhero fiction and fantasy writer. She has published eight book with the ninth due in late September and her tenth in December in 2015. In addition to photographing, I interviewed Lee about her life as an author...

When did you get into writing? 

I've just always been a writer. From the moment I understood how to read, I made up my own stories and wrote them down. The thing that pushed me from amateur writer to publishing pro was a friend who told me he'd pay to read something I'd written. There's a vast gulf of difference between being told one is talented at something and being told one can possibly make a living by doing it.

Do you struggle with writer's block? 

I don't really get "writer's block" in the way many people describe it. What I've found is that when I can't figure out where to go in a story, it's because I made a mistake someplace along the line. My subconscious knows it was a mistake, and the rest of me has to catch up and figure out where I need to go back and change things. This is why I actively work on 2-3 projects at once: so I can shift gears and let the problem percolate in the background until I figure out where the story went wrong. Lee FrenchLee French

Who is your favorite author? Where do you gather inspiration from? 

I don't have any one favorite author. These days, because I'm an indie writer, I read a lot of other indie writers. The ones I like a lot have become friends. The writers who shaped me in my youth are primarily Mercedes Lackey, Dean Ing, and Michael Moorcock.

 

You designed the first edition cover to Dragons In Pieces, it has been revised since then but you keep it in close view to your writing desk. Why? What does it symbolize for you? 

I keep a copy of the very first iteration of Dragons in Pieces around as a reminder that I'm not as awesome as I think I am. Until people started giving me feedback about it, I never realized that books aren't produced by a single person. It takes a group: a writer, an editor, beta readers, friends, proofreaders, and an artist. This learning experience can be shocking and painful (and exhausting), but it's just another thing that makes every successive book better than the one before. Dragons In Pieces has been redone from stem to stern, a process that took about a year and a half.

 

Can you share more info about what you are working on now? 

My next book, Al-Kabar, is currently in (hopefully) final revisions with a planned release in late September. The story follows a young woman as her simple, ordinary life becomes--of course--tragically complicated. It's based on the Joan of Arc legend and set in a desert region based on Ancient Arabia. After that, I'm working on a young adult book inspired by singer/songwriter Ilana Harkavy's girl-positive music, and we're hoping to have that one out in time for Christmas.

 
Lastly, as a reader, do you feel compelled to finish a book once you start reading it? 
I abandon any book that hasn't grabbed me by the start of Chapter 2. Life is too short to read books I don't like. This is a major reason I love my Kindle so much: books are cheap! I don't feel bad giving up on a book that only cost me a couple of dollars. The effect of my Kindle has been that I'm much less picky about what books I pick up than I used to be. Twenty years ago, if I was going to spend money on a paperback or hardcover, I wanted to make damned sure I'd enjoy reading it. I'd read the blurb, examine the cover, and read the first chapter before committing, and often stuck with the same authors over trying new ones. Now, I'll pick up nearly anything that sounds interesting, just because it's only a few bucks.


Thank you Lee for being my first author for this project. Below are links where you can find Lee French's work.

http://authorleefrench.com/my_books/ 

 
 
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elizabeth@elizabethogle.com (Elizabeth Ogle) https://www.elizabethogle.com/blog/2015/8/leefrench Tue, 18 Aug 2015 07:00:00 GMT
A Lot of Legos https://www.elizabethogle.com/blog/2015/8/legos-for-life Meet Jeff Pelletier, architect, husband, father, Lego connoisseur. Nine years ago, Jeff moved to Seattle and the house that he gutted and remodeled symbolically told him where he was going to put all his Lego, 250,000 of them. In the basement part of the house, Jeff found a single Lego on the floor and it was no second guessing what that room would turn into. I saw Jeff's story on Komo News and wondered if Jeff would be interested in a portrait session. Yes he was. 

In addition to the straight on portraits, I had a pair of Lego hands made for Jeff because I wanted to shoot a portrait that symbolized his love for Legos and the fact that he was an architect, after all. 

We always have time for an outtake....

Thank you to Jeff for being a great sport and letting me photograph you! Special thank you to Alicia Beckerman for her Lego hand making expertise, Jason Guerra for helping me on this shoot, and Greg Colman for post-production support. 

 

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elizabeth@elizabethogle.com (Elizabeth Ogle) https://www.elizabethogle.com/blog/2015/8/legos-for-life Tue, 11 Aug 2015 03:04:00 GMT
Frank Anderson https://www.elizabethogle.com/blog/2015/5/frank-anderson This week's post is featuring another talented local artist by the name of Frank Anderson. Frank is a local jazz and blues singer whom I heard sing at Egan's Jam House in Ballard late 2014. He sang a mellow yet very soulful version of Proud Mary and I sort of followed him to wherever he was singing next. Soft spoken in person, Frank has no problem belting the blues across the audience to the back of the house and having a great time on stage.

When I contacted Frank for a photo shoot, I thought the best place to shoot was back at Egan's. Frank said yes and I was so excited. Thank you Frank for an awesome day of shooting! 

Special thank you to Ted at Egan's for opening the doors a little early on a Wednesday. Thank you to photographer, Josh Huston for working with me on this shoot. 

You can find Frank singing the blues at one these many great local spots in Seattle:

North City Bistro

Egan's Jam House

The Paragon

Capitol Cider

Luso

 

 

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elizabeth@elizabethogle.com (Elizabeth Ogle) https://www.elizabethogle.com/blog/2015/5/frank-anderson Tue, 12 May 2015 17:00:00 GMT
DAX https://www.elizabethogle.com/blog/2015/5/dax This week's blog post features an electronic musician by the name of Diogenes Alexander Xavier but everyone calls him Dax for short. Dax was so nice to let me in his studio to capture an environmental portrait showcasing his workspace and putting his passion for music, cassette tapes specifically, in the mix. Below is a Q/A session with Dax about his work, projects to keep an ear out for, a local music event, HISSSSSSS, and links to where you can hear his audible creations. Enjoy! 

https://soundcloud.com/diogenes23

http://diogenesisdead.bandcamp.com/

http://filthyfingersunited.bandcamp.com/

Can you describe the type of music you create? How you developed your style? 

Instrumental hip hop. Psychedelic electronic. "Beats". "Jawnts". Sample based collages of audio snips re-imagined. I've been messing with audio programs since I was 15. Started off making horrible techno and drum and bass. I mean horrible. I believe that's where everyone starts. Just kinda kept doing it for fun, started listening to more and more hip hop and the samples that my favorite songs were from, which led me to love Jazz, Soul, Psyche rock, foreign music... everything.
 
Why tapes? What is it about that analog technology that you like working with so much? 
Everyone asks me this question, like tapes are this archaic data machine from some ancient land, haha. MP3s are great for downloading, CDs are great if you own a car, records are great if you have a collection. Tapes are great if you want to do a limited release of your music but don't have the money for vinyl. I don't like CDs, they're flimsy and once they're scratched it's fucking OVER for that album... As far as collecting tapes, I just love the odd types of music you can find on tape, and the varying degrees of erosion they've gathered over the years.
 
What do you want others to know about the music you and your collaborators create? 
It's music, and you can listen to it. If you really care about music, you will do the knowledge yourself. Find a band, google them. All the information of the universe is on the internet. I'd like everyone to know that music still exists in the multifaceted Seattle underground, and it isn't all indie rock and dubstep. There are dark corners of the city where some of the nicest people i know get together and make weird noise and amazing music. You just gotta dig a little.
 
What is HISSSSSSS and what do you want the community to know about it?  
I have open slots for people to come with their own mixes or selections and play them. We have vendors selling their tapes and tape things, and t shirts and all sorts of stuff. Coldbrew collective is our awesome visual team who runs VHS's through analog signal manipulation boxes and they do some pretty amazing work, LIVE. it's a fun, weird experience. You don't even have to be stoned. 
 
What are the next projects you are working on? 
It's a long chaotic list, I have project with Graves33, Carradine Michael, Sendai Mike, my crew FFU (filthy fingers united) every month, I have a beat tape coming out as soon as I can finish it. We're playing Folklife, block party, all sorts of stuff. Sometimes you can find me at Cal Anderson playing beats out my boombox.
 
Do you go by the stage name Diogenes? Diogenes was a Greek philosopher who went against social norms and preferred the simplistic life. How do you relate? 
I grew up in Leavenworth Wa, and spent most of my childhood outdoors. Also my name, Dax, is an acronym for Diogenes Alexander Xavier, which I learned only 4 years ago, when I changed my stage name to fit. Dax-0-tronic was feeling pretty adolescent to me at the time, and I thought it was time to step it up. I also have an affinity for Sufism and many beliefs that parallel the thoughts of Diogenes, the Cynic.
 
Lastly, what else do we need to know about you and your music?
I dunno man, it's music... what's to know? Go feel it.
 
To hear Dax, check out the links below. 
http://soundcloud.com/diogenes23
http://diogenesisdead.bandcamp.com/
http://filthyfingersunited.bandcamp.com/
 
 
 
 
 
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elizabeth@elizabethogle.com (Elizabeth Ogle) https://www.elizabethogle.com/blog/2015/5/dax Tue, 05 May 2015 16:00:00 GMT
Mock Magazine #2: Wink with Madi https://www.elizabethogle.com/blog/2015/4/mock-magazine-2-wink-with-madi Well after much editing and a few revisions, I can finally post about this Mock Magazine with Madi Crowder and I couldn't be more excited. Graphic Designer, Kevin Calhoun and I teamed up again for another mock magazine project. I knew I wanted to get Madi in the studio for a photo shoot and I thought I would base this one around the colors, cobalt blue and sunflower yellow. With the additional and wonderful help from my good friend and aspiring make-up artist, Carolina Czaja, I passed her my color palette and examples and she definitely achieved what I was looking for.

Also in the studio with me was Greg Coleman, Graphic Designer and Digital Retoucher. After the shoot, Greg and I took turns working on the final images that you see. Post production took a lot of time and I really appreciated his expertise. So without further ado, I present to you, Mock Magazine: Wink. ;)

 

To view more of Kevin Calhoun's portfolio, visit his website: http://kevincalhoundesigns.com/

-Elizabeth 

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elizabeth@elizabethogle.com (Elizabeth Ogle) https://www.elizabethogle.com/blog/2015/4/mock-magazine-2-wink-with-madi Mon, 27 Apr 2015 18:57:41 GMT
Mock Magazine #1: Rolling Stone https://www.elizabethogle.com/blog/2015/3/mock-1-rollingstone Greetings! 

Recently, I have been working alongside with Graphic Designer and good friend, Kevin Calhoun. We have teamed up to create some really cool and fun mock magazine covers for ourselves. Shooting for print is something that I love doing and one of Kevin's favorite ways to design in layout and working with typography. We have had a lot of fun gobbling pizza, watching Golden Girls, and collaborating ideas on this cover. This is the first of quite a few we plan on working on together. 

For this first one, we decided to make a mock cover of Rolling Stone magazine featuring my musical friend, Michael Hunt who goes by the stage name Underbolt. He was gracious to come over and bring crates of props and pieces to play with. Too many in fact, that I decided to keep it simple and shoot him in a favorite pair of shades and one of his favorites synthesizers to create with. Thank you Michael for being our first subject to get this project off the ground.

Stay tuned to a lot more covers coming!

 

To view more from Kevin Calhoun, visit his website at, http://kevincalhoundesigns.com/

 

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elizabeth@elizabethogle.com (Elizabeth Ogle) https://www.elizabethogle.com/blog/2015/3/mock-1-rollingstone Wed, 18 Mar 2015 05:01:10 GMT
Merry Christmas! https://www.elizabethogle.com/blog/2014/12/merrychristmas Helloooo! Merry Christmas everybody! 

When Christmas comes in Seattle there are a few things in particular that I look forward to. All the beautiful lights around downtown, the abundance of fun Christmas shows and gatherings with friends, and the fantastic job my mom does making her house look like a Martha Stewart holiday dream house, AND the rad opportunity to create a fun photo shoot for this season.  

However, when it comes to Christmas I also immediately think of the boxes and boxes boxes of decorations buried in the darkest corner of my basement waiting to be unpack, the million mile lengths of lights to untangle and the crossing of fingers that they all work. If you get three out of five plugged in and glowing, you're a winner!

I hope you all have a wonderful holiday this year and a fun new year. See you all in 2015! 

Shot Notes: This shot took 45 minutes. I found a free box at a U-Haul shop that I could "fit" in. I raided my mom's basement for decorations and lights. There are about 8+ strings of lights plugged in. I kept telling Jason to put as many lights on me as possible. It was very toasty in that box. After making funny faces for nearly an hour, I had to be lifted out of the box because my left leg was stuck in place in the front corner of this shot. This was such a fun shoot and I hope you all like it! 

-Elizabeth 

Very much thank you to those who helped with this image: 

Jason Guerra, Assistant 

Greg Coleman, Digital Tech  

Galen Drew, Graphic Designer: http://galendrew.com/

 

 

 

 

   

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elizabeth@elizabethogle.com (Elizabeth Ogle) https://www.elizabethogle.com/blog/2014/12/merrychristmas Sun, 21 Dec 2014 17:00:00 GMT
A Very Dapper Gentleman-Galen Drew https://www.elizabethogle.com/blog/2014/9/a-very-dapper-gentleman-galen-drew Galen Drew, Graphic Designer, friend, and a dapper gentleman. This week I had the pleasure to do a photo shoot with him in my studio. Taking visual inspiration from G Dragon, La Roux, James Dean, and David Lynch, Galen put so much product in his locks that it stuck like glue.

Galen and I had fun playing around from dressing him up to be a classy gentlemen to going more casual as a classic rebel.

Thank you Galen Drew for a cool shoot!

-Elizabeth 

 

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elizabeth@elizabethogle.com (Elizabeth Ogle) https://www.elizabethogle.com/blog/2014/9/a-very-dapper-gentleman-galen-drew Thu, 25 Sep 2014 03:11:40 GMT
Titan 1 Missile Silo: Eastern WA https://www.elizabethogle.com/blog/2014/7/titan-1-missile-silo-eastern-wa East of the Cascade Mountains in Washington there are wide open blue skies with the beautiful contrast of the sun burnt desert and rolling hills. It feels like a completely different world driving through it, especially since I left a grey, down-pour rainy Seattle for Kennewick, one of the Tri-Cities. I had the absolute pleasure of being the Production Assistant with a production company, shooting a short segment featuring the Titan 1 Missile Silo in Royal City, WA. 

Just a little history lesson...the Titan 1 Missile Silo (one of many) located in Adams County, WA was built during the Cold War. It took three years for the government to build but only operated for a little less than two years. However, it was highly advised not to build in this area due to the groundwater that was below the surface. To overcome that obstacle, water pumps were constructed to keep the operation dry, not so much the case now. When the missile silo was abandoned, so were the pumps. The missiles have long since been removed but everything else is in tact, like an eye wash station and original lightbulbs. Today, the silo is now a hot spot for adventure diving.

I would love to say that I did get to dive but I didn't. Instead between filming, I took behind the scene shots of what is left of the silo. It was an amazing experience to walk through the facility with David Bruns from Undersea Adventures and diving guide for the silo.

Below the silo sits....

Beautiful color amongst the junk yard that sits above the silo.

Laura James, Diver and Assistant Camera, checking out the graffitied walls of the living quarters. Kids write the darndest things. Unfortunately, this is also a hot spot for teenage parties. To get to this part we had to walk through inches of pigeon poop...lots of pigeon poop. I don't think a photo of that is needed.  

 

  Laura James (AC) and David Schott (Diver and DP) looking down the rabbit hole to the entrance of the emergency outlet for the silo. Now it is the entrance to the diving excursion. 

Gearing up...

Descending into the abyss...

And returning...

This was a pretty amazing experience and to be able to see this part of history was unforgettable. Just another reason to love the state I live in and to love my job. 

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elizabeth@elizabethogle.com (Elizabeth Ogle) https://www.elizabethogle.com/blog/2014/7/titan-1-missile-silo-eastern-wa Thu, 31 Jul 2014 18:33:44 GMT
The Writer's Dilemma with Adam Winans https://www.elizabethogle.com/blog/2014/6/the-writers-dilemma-with-adam-winans Having a creative block is beyond frustrating. As a photographer, keeping the ideas flowing can be exhausting and challenging to come up with something new and not just for your audience but for yourself. As a creative, what I struggle with is trying not to over complicate ideas, lighting, styling, and the overall concept. I know that I want to continue to create and shoot but when I find myself asking "but what?!" maybe it is actually time for me to take a mental break. Usually my first idea is never the best one so I have to let it lie. Sometimes the best thing to do is take a break, stop thinking about it and have a little faith an idea will pop up that might work. Of course, there are times when you gotta just simply ask others for help.   

I wanted to do a photo shoot based around my buddy Adam Winans, a writer and recent contestant on the NBC show American Ninja Warrior. Yes, the reality show where everyday people who are physically capable to climb through obstacle courses to obtain the title of being America's next best thing to Bruce Lee. I racked my brain for weeks thinking about what to do. I was too focused on the America Ninja Warrior part that I was pinning myself in a corner. Eventually I just asked him about being a writer. I learned from him that having a creative block, specifically writer's block, is just as paralyzing for him as it is for me. 

"Lately, it's been non-existent. My biggest problem for the last few years is just an inability to sit down and right. One thing I do that's odd, though, is walk around and talk to myself. It's how I set up my last stand up set. I walked around and talked to myself until I said something funny."

Once he told me that an idea popped! Create a shoot based around creative blocks or in Adam's case, writer's block. Here are behind the scene shots of my set...

Amelia the Mannequin always makes a great stand-in. 

Adam getting to know Amelia the Mannequin before shooting. 

Ok Adam, that is enough! And here we go...

 

 

 

This was a very fun shoot and I am so happy I was able to get Adam in the studio before I graduated from Seattle Central Creative Academy. He did a great job and I look forward to working more with him in the future. Thank you to Erin Segale and Kevin Calhoun for giving me a hand on set. 

On a side note, this was my last in studio session for being part of the class of SCCA 2014. I am very excited and happy about what is to come. I look forward to seeing my work grow, evolve, and I hope you all like it along the way. 

-Elizabeth 

 

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elizabeth@elizabethogle.com (Elizabeth Ogle) https://www.elizabethogle.com/blog/2014/6/the-writers-dilemma-with-adam-winans Mon, 02 Jun 2014 18:54:04 GMT
The Port Townsend Diaries: Friday https://www.elizabethogle.com/blog/2014/5/the-port-townsend-diaries-friday Friday, May 9, 2014: The Aerialist

Over the past few months my work as been focused around local performers. Even though I have had the luck of finding jugglers, actors, and musicians I have been looking for an aerialist. My Wednesday model, Brandon Chappell introduced me to Sadie LeDonna. Sadie definitely impressed me with her acrobatic strength on set and I had a great time working with her. Using the same location as I did for Brandon's shoot, Sadie was so nice to rig up her hoop and silks that I used for a backdrop.  

BTS: 

Working with Sadie on poses I was shooting for.

Well she was upside down, I flipped my camera upside down to show her shots.

Although viewing the shots this way was easier. 

Well this marks the final blog post for my photo excursions in Port Townsend. I had a blast while I was up there working with my awesome models and the 1st years assistants that helped me with each shoot. Thanks again to Sadie LeDonna for her participation, her boyfriend Sean as a unofficial assistant and Jason Guerra for sticking around to be my official assistant. More thanks to Joey Pipia for The Chameleon Theater.   

Hope you all enjoyed reading these and look for more work to com every soon. 

-Elizabeth 

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elizabeth@elizabethogle.com (Elizabeth Ogle) https://www.elizabethogle.com/blog/2014/5/the-port-townsend-diaries-friday Fri, 30 May 2014 20:58:38 GMT
SCCA: Class of 2014 https://www.elizabethogle.com/blog/2014/5/leanne-and-dustin Bulletin! I interrupt my Port Townsend Diary posts to bring you two badass graphic designers on a a bike! Over the past year I have had the fun and great pleasure to work with many talented students graduating from the Seattle Central Creative Academy, Commercial Photography and Graphic Design programs. We are winding down to our final weeks before our portfolio show in June. There is no one word to describe my time here so I won't. Instead I would rather feature a couple of photos of two people (of many in the Academy who are awesome!) in my graduating class.

Leanne Padgett and Dustin Patterson called on me and said they wanted to recreate this photo... 

Don't ask me, I don't know where they come up with this stuff. Anyway, of course I was game. I love working with Leanne and Dustin. Here is the result...

Had to add this one because they are two baddasses on a bike and it is my favorite....

Thanks to Chris Kent, Graphic Designer (c/o 2014) for providing the wheels and Vintage Costumers in Seattle for Dustin's outfit.

A couple of behind the scene pics for fun...

Love working with you guys. Hoping to do more after school. Here's to life after college! Sound the trumpets!

<3 SCCA c/o 2014 

-Elizabeth 

 

 

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elizabeth@elizabethogle.com (Elizabeth Ogle) https://www.elizabethogle.com/blog/2014/5/leanne-and-dustin Wed, 28 May 2014 04:06:07 GMT
The Port Townsend Diaries: Thursday https://www.elizabethogle.com/blog/2014/5/the-port-townsend-diaries-thursday Thursday, May 8th: Mark Herring is an "Analog Man"

We could go ahead and call this one a "Throwback Thursday" photo shoot entry since it features artifacts of the past that have made a collectible comeback, vinyl records. Mark Herring owns and runs Quimper Sound, a small yet stocked full shop of music and memorabilia in the underground heart of Port Townsend. This was a shop I always visited when I made previous trips up. Mark became a subject of mine on accident. I needed advice on where were some good places to photograph for my shoot I was planning with Sarah Chrisman.

Mark was immediately intrigued by my project and gave me some great leads on some parks and buildings. Then we started to chat about music. As Mark chatted away on his favorite artists, his passion for vinyl stood out to me the most. He continued to talk about his shop and how it recently moved to the underground location of town.

Afterwards, I thanked Mark for his help and off I went to scout what he had told me but I couldn't help that I couldn't get over how he talked about how much he loved his shop and the contents in it. Long story short, I had to do a environmental portrait of him. 

Mark was very nice to close his shop an hour early so I could have enough time to shoot his portrait. However, even though I planned for this shoot to be a smooth running show, it almost wasn't. I ran into technical problems, such as a fuse blowing right as I was about to get started. I stayed calm on the outside but in my head I was racing to figure out how to get my light back on. Luckily I was able to get the fused changed quite fast. Soon after changing that, my battery for the light had ran out of power. What I am about to say is one of the best pieces of advice for photographers who are learning how to put a light kit together: bring a extension cord. It will save your shoot. It saved mine and finally I was ready to click away. 

I unofficially call this shoot "The Analog Man" after Joe Walsh's song. Mark was an awesome subject and I look forward to visiting his shop again when I make a trip back up to Port Townsend. In the photo below I told Mark to rearrange some of his favorite albums although I asked if I could throw in a favorite of mine, Paul's Boutique by the Beastie Boys. 

 

Check out Quimper Sound at http://totera.com/quimpersound/

Thanks to Jason Guerra for assisting. 

-Elizabeth 

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elizabeth@elizabethogle.com (Elizabeth Ogle) https://www.elizabethogle.com/blog/2014/5/the-port-townsend-diaries-thursday Tue, 27 May 2014 16:45:53 GMT
The Port Townsend Diaries: Wednesday https://www.elizabethogle.com/blog/2014/5/the-port-townsend-diaries-wednesday Wednesday, May 7, 2014: So I met this guy who was kind of a clown. It turns out he dresses the part too...

For this post I am featuring a very special fellow by the name of Brandon Chappell. I had contacted the Key City Public Theater looking for performers who might be interested in modeling for one of my shoots. Brandon was one of the first people to contact me saying he was interested. Good timing too because he got a hold of me the day before my giant scout day in Port Townsend to figure out what the heck I was planning on doing.  I felt a little embarrassed that I didn't have many ideas when I sat down with Brandon but I asked him to tell me about himself and what type of performances he does. 

"I have a sad clown act that I do..."

Like Phina's photo shoot, I decided to take inspiration from another past-time artist, Red Skelton as well as Chicago's "Mr. Chellophane" character. With help from Phina's dad, Joey Pipia, I was able to secure a theater to shoot in and have full range of the lights and space. This shoot was challenging for me because I was shooting on site unseen. However, I saw that I was able to have access to the catwalks above the stage floor and I took advantage of that high angle. 

BTS photos courtesy of photographer, Lou Daprile...

Small girl in a small space

I came down from my perch for a little chat. 

Modeling is hard! ;) Brandon was very patient waiting for me to get my darn lighting right. 

I took a lot lot lot of shots but these are my favorites of Brandon's clown character. 

FINAL IMAGES: 

Don't be fooled by his melancholy face in these photos, Brandon was of one of the most humble and nicest people I got to meet in Port Townsend. He is a talented writer and performer in his community. Many thanks to Brandon for getting up a little early in the morning to be a part of my Port Townsend Shoot Out 2014.

Thank you to Sadie LeDonna for make-up, Lou Daprile and Erik Skaar for assisting. 

-Elizabeth  

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elizabeth@elizabethogle.com (Elizabeth Ogle) https://www.elizabethogle.com/blog/2014/5/the-port-townsend-diaries-wednesday Fri, 23 May 2014 00:13:23 GMT
The Port Townsend Diaries: Tuesday https://www.elizabethogle.com/blog/2014/5/port-townsend-diaries-tuesday Tuesday, May 6th: Painting Recreation with Sarah Chrisman

When you visit Port Townsend, WA you definitely see the Victorian influences it has on the small, quiet town on the Olympic Peninsula and in one case, way more than others. Sarah Chrisman is a writer and resident in Port Townsend who doesn't just live in the historic Victorian town, she lives her life as if she is in the Victorian Era. I was introduced to her by a fellow photographer and I knew I wanted to work with her. When I made my scouting rounds up to Port Townsend, Sarah kindly invited me to her Victorian home for tea. I felt very nervous as I asked her questions and listened closely to how she and her husband, Gabriel, live their day to day life. The only noise that flowed through her house was a pendulum clock ticking back and forth. "It is the heart beat of the Victorian home," Sarah told me.

Sarah described many aspects of her life to me of how she is able to live this type of lifestyle. When she spoke, she spoke very pleasantly about the history of the Victorian era and what women and men did traditionally and how she applies it to her everyday life, such as making her own clothes, baking her own bread, only riding a bicycle to and from town, and, yes, lacing up a corset everyday is part of her routine. In her home, there is no television, no cellular phone, heating her home with kerosene lamps and no modern furniture. How was I able to get any communication to her at all? She is very good at responding to email. Being a writer, I am sure her publisher does appreciate the fact that she does use modern technology to write and send manuscripts for proofing.

To most this may seem very hard to imagine in today's world how to live without cell phone, the constant buzz of a television, and the reliability of a digital alarm clock. However for Sarah and Gabriel, they take the way they live seriously and it is not a joke or a gimmick, it is their life. So when I asked if she would be interested in doing a photo shoot she was very happy to participate. However, after learning about her, I knew I had to not create an image that would mock her lifestyle. Collectively, we thought about creating a portrait of Sarah but with a spin, there is always a spin. We decided to recreate a Victorian painting, "In the Orangerie" by Charles Edward Perugini.

This project really tested my post work production to work with blending modes, clarity, and using textures to recreate a look that was classic. The hardest part was trying to not make it look overdone. This was not an easy task. Below are some behind the scene photos of the shoot courtesy of photographers, April Staso and Jason Guerra. 

Below are before and after pictures of the process...

I added multiple textures, worked with warm tones, and modified the contrast, and cropped in a bit too.  

Meeting Sarah and Gabriel Chrisman was a treat and I enjoyed working with her. To learn more about Sarah and Gabriel Chrisman, please visit their site, http://chrismancollection.weebly.com/

and check out her book, Victorian Secrets: What a Corset Taught Me About the Past, the Present, and Myself.   

Thank you to Sarah and Gabriel Chrisman and my assistants, Jason Guerra and April Staso. 

See you Wednesday...

 

Elizabeth 

 

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elizabeth@elizabethogle.com (Elizabeth Ogle) https://www.elizabethogle.com/blog/2014/5/port-townsend-diaries-tuesday Tue, 20 May 2014 01:00:08 GMT
The Port Townsend Diaries: Monday https://www.elizabethogle.com/blog/2014/5/the-port-townsend-diaries-monday Hello and welcome to a special rendition of my blog where for the next few posts it will be featuring my on location assignments from Port Townsend Shoot Out 2014. My photography program takes a week trip up to Port Townsend every year and for this year's trip I can say that I had an absolute blast! I met some really cool people, orchestrated six shoots in five days, and partly left some down time for a much needed vacation on the Olympic Peninsula. For the next few blog posts, your going to behind the scene shots of the work that I created, before and after post work and overall my experience working with the great people I did meet. Hope you enjoy and now I will finally get moving on to talk about my first shoot.

Monday, May 5, 2014-Influences

My theme for this shoot was Influences. I had the pleasure of meeting Phina Pipia, actress, musician, writer, producer, and co-founder of the performing arts group, Generation Goat Rocket. A couple weeks prior, we sat down and talked about where she gets her inspiration from for what she writes and performs. She responded with many influences such as Laurie Anderson, the classic Marx Brothers, and James Thierree, Charlie Chaplin's grandson. When she mentioned Charlie Chaplin, I had a spark and I then I went to the drawing board after our meeting. I later called her and asked if she was interested in simply being one of her influences for her photo shoot. The twist was I wanted her to pose as herself for half of the shot and as Charlie Chaplin as the other half. Her response, "I love the concept, and am super excited about the shoot."  

With help from Vintage Costumers in Seattle, I rented all the needed pieces for Chaplin's classic Tramp look. We met the day prior to make sure the suit "fit". The best looking coat that I rented was not black, it was green. I added that to the list of post work I had ahead of me. Below are behind the scene shots of putting the final shot together, courtesy of photographer, Leesha King.

 

Anyone know how to tie a tie?

Practicing Chaplin poses. 

Applying the Charlie Chaplin Make-up

Getting the mustache set and here we go...

Shot 1: I asked Phina to pretend Charlie is sitting next to her and make faces at him. Notice how the sidewalk is saturated...

Shot 2: Then after a costume change...notice how the sidewalk is completely dry and her jacket is green! My frame did change slightly but it was not all a bad thing. 

Finally after much compositing magic and additional post work...

This was such a fun shoot and I am so grateful for Phina's help. She was a great Chaplin. To learn more about Phina and Generation Goat Rocket productions, visit: http://www.goatrocket.com

Costumes provided by Vintage Costumers: http://www.vintagecostumers.com/

Thank you to my assistants, Leesha King and Jason Guerra. 

 Stay tuned for Tuesday! 

-Elizabeth 

 

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elizabeth@elizabethogle.com (Elizabeth Ogle) https://www.elizabethogle.com/blog/2014/5/the-port-townsend-diaries-monday Thu, 15 May 2014 19:49:45 GMT
Sylvia O'Stayformore https://www.elizabethogle.com/blog/2014/4/sylvia-ostayformore Last Friday I had the pleasure of photographing one of my favorite Seattle personalities, Sylvia O'Stayformore. When she agreed to do a photo shoot with me, I was so excited! Sylvia always has something going on. She hops all over town hosting Rainbow Bingo at the West Seattle, South East, and Ballard Senior Center. She does private events, she hosts Tupperware parties, AND she has brought bacon to the stage for a delectable drag show, Bacon Strip.

For this photo shoot, I decided to feature Sylvia and her fabulous Tupperware. Below are some behind the scene photos of my set and the process...

I originally tried to scorch the shirt with the iron but since housewives have been wanting to avoid that for years and my Dad didn't want me burning the house down, I resorted to a good old fashioned lighter...and went outside... 

See that ladder? Yep, that is for me. Sylvia was one tall queen and I had to get above somehow. 

Toasting two loafs of white bread and melting three pounds of Veleveeta later...

Who's hungry?! 

And now my favorite part...

BEFORE: 

AFTER (FINAL IMAGE): 

I am very happy with how this session turned out and I hope you guys like it. Thank you Sylvia O'Stayformore for being a fantastic model. Thank you Kevin Calhoun for making toast.

To find where Sylvia will be next, check her out at her website: http://www.stayformore.com/

-Elizabeth 

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elizabeth@elizabethogle.com (Elizabeth Ogle) https://www.elizabethogle.com/blog/2014/4/sylvia-ostayformore Tue, 29 Apr 2014 02:28:18 GMT
Playing in a traveling band. Yeah! https://www.elizabethogle.com/blog/2014/4/playing-in-a-traveling-band-yeah There is no such thing as a break so during my spring break from classes, I had the fun opportunity to photograph Aaron Shay and Timothy "Strangley" Doesburg. They needed shots for promo pieces for their summer tour coming up and I was a happy to do the shoot for them.

The wonderful and fun thing about shooting a entertainment duo is that even though each individual has their own unique ability to play an instrument or tell a joke, when they play off of each other the shoot can go all sorts of directions and shots can come out way better than you could ever plan for. Probably my most favorite part is just standing back and watching the dynamic relationship of the two unfold in front of me, all I have to do is click the shutter...and make sure nothing technical goes wrong. 

After going back and forth through Facebook messages about setting up a time and date for the shoot (I shot it on my birthday actually, April 2nd. :D), I finally had the chance to meet the guys the day before the shoot. Aaron picked the location for it. This was done at the Washington Ensemble Theater and from then on, we enjoyed some eggs benedict and being entertained by Strangely's courageous stories of being on the road.

Check out Aaron Shay and Strangely on their sites to see when you can catch one of their upcoming shows.

Aaron Shay: http://aaronjshay.net/

Strangely and Friends: http://www.strangelyandfriends.com/

Thank you April Staso for your assistance.

 

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elizabeth@elizabethogle.com (Elizabeth Ogle) https://www.elizabethogle.com/blog/2014/4/playing-in-a-traveling-band-yeah Thu, 17 Apr 2014 01:48:15 GMT
Vitamin C Cycling Circus https://www.elizabethogle.com/blog/2014/4/vitamin-c-cycling Hello there! 

This week featured on my blog is a very talented couple of Sasha and Clay, two very multi-talented performers of Vitamin C Cycling Circus. 

In my search for a juggler for an assignment, I found two! I was out one day taking a walk with my buddy Kevin Calhoun, Graphic Designer as if my wish was granted, I saw Clay juggling five balls on the green grass at Seattle Central Community College. I left Kevin in mid sentence and ran over to Clay and introduced myself. He told me he had a partner and then the rest in in the photo shoot.

This was a special shoot in particular because I was shooting for composite, something that takes a ton of practice and certainly is not easy. Below are the behind the scenes pics.

Thank you to Clay and Sasha for being my models. Check out their blog to see about their travels. http://cyclingcircus.blogspot.com/

 

Special thanks to April Staso, photographer, for assisting. 

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elizabeth@elizabethogle.com (Elizabeth Ogle) https://www.elizabethogle.com/blog/2014/4/vitamin-c-cycling Mon, 07 Apr 2014 20:39:14 GMT
Bossy Sexy-Pants-Leanne Padgett https://www.elizabethogle.com/blog/2014/3/bossy-sexy-pants-leanne-padgett Watch your Ps and Qs, Leanne Padgett had stepped on set and she isn't taken $#*^ from nobody, except for me cause I am the photographer and she is the model...oops, just got the stink eye from Leanne.

Leanne Padgett, Graphic Designer, is one of the coolest and funniest people I got to know this past year. Witty, funny, and a not afraid to be bossy, she reminded me of other great funny women that deserve the spotlight for their persona. Inspired by the funny women of Saturday Night Live like Amy Poehler, Tina Fey, and Kristen Wiig, (I know there were plenty others that I love like Cheri Oteri, Molly Shannon, Gilda Radner, etc...). Women who are put their funny face first are found to be very attractive and that was my goal during this shoot. I asked Leanne if she was interested in being the boss-lady for this shoot and she was completely on board! 

She did have one request though, that Steven Nolen make an appearance. You remember him, his handsome face is getting a pie in the face. I gave Steven a call and of course, he was on board too playing the subordinate co-worker to Leanne's bossy, CEO alter ego. Here are some behind the scene shots...

Leanne is clearly excited to be here...

 

Tsk Tsk, drinking on the job...

These two...I tell ya...not a dull moment...

Borrowing plenty of office props just sort of lying around the 5th floor of SCCA. Thank you to Rion Manning for a few things and my awesome assistants on set: Dave Mackichan, April Staso, and Kevin Calhoun, you were awesome paper pushers, well paper throwers. Check out the photos on my In Studio page. Hope you like them! 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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elizabeth@elizabethogle.com (Elizabeth Ogle) https://www.elizabethogle.com/blog/2014/3/bossy-sexy-pants-leanne-padgett Fri, 21 Mar 2014 03:52:28 GMT
School of Fish Tank Heads https://www.elizabethogle.com/blog/2014/3/school-of-fish-tank-heads A few days ago, my buddy and Graphic Designer, Dustin Patterson asked me one day, "Hey, where are all those photos you took of us in the fish tank? Those were rad." 

In fact, they were rad and I did find them buried in my hard drive. I thought I would pull them out again and advertise the fun times the graphic designers and I had in the studio.

Inspired by Tim Tadder Photography, I loved his portraits what he did of people's heads in water but he manipulated them as if they were coming out of the water. I figured out closely to what I think he did to shoot that series and I thought I would try my hand at it. Here are the results...

Oh and this is Dustin Patterson, Graphic Designer...

This is Amanda O'Neill, my assistant and fellow photographer...

Cory Foster, Graphic Designer...

Chris Kent, Graphic Designer

2016_Softball_Murrah vs Forest Hill-1152016_Softball_Murrah vs Forest Hill-115

Jared Alfonzo, Photographer and Stylist...

Tim Haddock, Photographer

And me! 

 

Definitely got wet and wild in the studio. It was fun! If you see work that your really like by a fellow photographer, sometimes you just gotta try things out for yourself. Thanks guys for holding your breath for me. :) 

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elizabeth@elizabethogle.com (Elizabeth Ogle) https://www.elizabethogle.com/blog/2014/3/school-of-fish-tank-heads Tue, 04 Mar 2014 08:39:02 GMT
Comedy Ain't Easy https://www.elizabethogle.com/blog/2014/2/comedy-aint-easy Hey-oh! Side splitting laughter in the studio last week with a little help from my friends, Mike Murphy and Steven Nolen. They were gracious to come in and model for me and even get a pie in the face! Since I was working with two models, I wanted to give each one their own character.

Steven was modeled after a "Mr. Late Night" talk show host. I took inspiration from the classic styles of Jonny Carson and Jay Leno to the silliness of Jimmy Kimmel and Jimmy Fallon. For the pie shots, it took a little pie-free practice movements but when it came to the final moment of creaming the comedian, Steven was real trooper. Thank you Rachael for being a great pie-shover in the face. 

 

 

For Mike, I went the more stand-up comedian route. I took inspiration from one of my all time favorite comedic-actor, Chris Farley. I wanted to do a sort of tribute to him by mimicking "Fat Guy in a Little Coat" from the ever so funny movie Tommy Boy. Here are the results...

Thanks Mike for being a part of this shoot! I think Farley would be proud. 

 

 

Thank you Rachael Conley, Erika Scott, and Mac Holt for your help on this photo shoot. 

 

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elizabeth@elizabethogle.com (Elizabeth Ogle) https://www.elizabethogle.com/blog/2014/2/comedy-aint-easy Tue, 25 Feb 2014 02:04:04 GMT
Black Magic Woman https://www.elizabethogle.com/blog/2014/2/black-magic-woman Oooooo it is getting spooky in the studio with the gorgeous Megan Harris, friend, model, Graphic Designer. She can do it all and in fact, she can do a fantastic job on the make-up she applied to her face for this Black Magic Woman photo shoot for my Black series. For this photo shoot I wanted to go dark but again, not satanic or gory. Grabbing inspiration from Rick Genest, a model also known as Zombie Boy (you may actually remember him Lady Gaga's "Born This Way" music video), I asked Megan if she would recreate this look for me and she was happy to oblige.

The process for the make-up took a couple hours an the process for removing it took more than a couple face wipes. Megan even told me she accidentally scared a little kid. Eek! 

Also, I wanted to try a photoshop trick of making her portrait dark and into a movie poster. Here is the before and after...

After....

 

Hope you all like it, experimenting is fun! 

Thank you Megan for modeling for me!

 

 

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elizabeth@elizabethogle.com (Elizabeth Ogle) https://www.elizabethogle.com/blog/2014/2/black-magic-woman Fri, 21 Feb 2014 20:34:43 GMT
Voodoo Doll https://www.elizabethogle.com/blog/2014/2/voodoo-doll Hello Friends! 

Continuing my Black assignment for school, I decided to think more about Black Magic themed things. I didn't want to go satanical but just photograph elements of Black Magic and superstitions. I thought of Voodoo as element of black magic and at first I thought about scouring the earth for the perfect Voodoo doll, one that was classic looking, not the novelty one you find at Archie McPhee's or kitchen store but something that looked homemade. Then I thought about it and thought about it and thought about it a little more and it was simple, MAKE ONE! 

I have never made a Voodoo before nor do I partake in any witch craft but I know how to use a needle and thread and so I channeled my inner Martha Stewart and went to Stitches on Broadway for materials. Took me a couple hours but here is my little model...

Modeling is hard! This guy was a trooper though to be poked with all these pins. 

Not bad for my first Voodoo doll huh?

I decided to suspend the doll with fishing wire to make it seem like it was floating. Suspending anything with fishing wire is tricky to keep what you want stable. Of course the other tricky part is to not bump or disturb where your clear fishing wore is suspended...oops. Here is a quick snapshot of my set...

I put a red gel on the strip light that bounced on the wall. I chose a strip light because I like the spread better than a general gridded spotlight. I grazed the doll with the gridded spotlight above and had white card for fill on the camera left side. 

And this is the result!

 

 

 

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elizabeth@elizabethogle.com (Elizabeth Ogle) https://www.elizabethogle.com/blog/2014/2/voodoo-doll Thu, 20 Feb 2014 22:23:13 GMT
Snake Eyes https://www.elizabethogle.com/blog/2014/2/snake-eyes This week's assignment is to shoot anything that includes the color, black. Or as some graphic designers would argue, the absence of color, black. So many options to choose from but I decided to steer away from people for this one and do a little suspension and practice stop motion. I wanted the color black to be subtle. In fact, I am giving a few moments of suspense because the final image(s) is not finished.

I will just say that it got a little loud with my props for the shoot. Here are some behind the scene photos of my set up.

All this for a tiny pair of dice! Oh yeah, and you see that ladder? I should just take one everywhere I go. Tough being only 5 ft. tall. :) 

 

 

  

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elizabeth@elizabethogle.com (Elizabeth Ogle) https://www.elizabethogle.com/blog/2014/2/snake-eyes Tue, 11 Feb 2014 05:59:25 GMT
"Man-dy" https://www.elizabethogle.com/blog/2014/1/man-dy-photo-shoot My good friend and improv actress, Mandy Price, joined me in the studio yesterday for a bit of gender switching fun. This was a super fun and hilarious shoot. Mandy was making me laugh so hard between taking frames and she was just a natural at expressions and giving character. I asked if she would be interested in wearing suit and mustache and she was game! Oh and Russell, the skeleton, stopped by to get in on the action!

Here are some behind the scene snapshots of the shoot.

Hey there Russell, control yourself!

Feet planted and trigger happy! 

Shall we dance?

 

I am so proud of these shots. Enjoy! 

Thank you Mandy Price! 

 

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elizabeth@elizabethogle.com (Elizabeth Ogle) https://www.elizabethogle.com/blog/2014/1/man-dy-photo-shoot Thu, 23 Jan 2014 19:35:54 GMT
Jen Singer https://www.elizabethogle.com/blog/2014/1/jen-singer I had the pleasure to photograph this gorgeous girl, Jen Singer. Friend and co-worker, it was just me and her and one light or two. She was a great subject and for me it was all about her eyes. Look at those peepers! I worked on shooting this portrait on white and black. Even though high key has its beautiful advantages, I can't help but love the low-key lighting style. I love the drama, the gorgeous isolation of the subject. I feel this really tells the setting that it was just me, her, and my camera. 

 

Thank you Jen! 

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elizabeth@elizabethogle.com (Elizabeth Ogle) https://www.elizabethogle.com/blog/2014/1/jen-singer Wed, 22 Jan 2014 19:10:21 GMT
So I have to start blogging... https://www.elizabethogle.com/blog/2014/1/so-i-have-to-start-blogging Hello and welcome to my blog. For those of you who don't know me, my name is Elizabeth Ogle and I am a commercial photography student at Seattle Central Creative Academy. As a graduation requirement, I have to start blogging. This is something that is going to be quite hard for me to do because I have never done it before. I never kept a journal when I was kid, never wrote in a diary, never scribbled down thoughts that kept me up at night on a pad of paper (probably should have, would have gotten better sleep) like how Oprah always suggested. Nope, never blogged before but I think it will be helpful to get my work out there and for you to get to know me, and hopefully like me and my work.

I have been studying photography since I was fifteen, I started with black and white Ilford 35mm film and spent hours in the darkroom, at school, at home and at Youth In Focus, which is where I owe my start to. I couldn't get enough of it. In high school my grades suffered a bit cause I was more concerned with making prints than making A+s and I was goofball...still am. 

If you are still reading this, than maybe you will follow me from this point on as I continue to grow personally and professionally to develop my lighting technique, my photographic style, and my overall portfolio. I graduate in June of 2014 and I am scared as hell but going to keep pushing forward. I hope from what you have seen so far on my website that you are impressed and I look forward to sharing my future work with you. 

Later! 

 

 

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elizabeth@elizabethogle.com (Elizabeth Ogle) https://www.elizabethogle.com/blog/2014/1/so-i-have-to-start-blogging Wed, 22 Jan 2014 04:46:34 GMT