My Digital Photography Architecture Presentation

These are the final six photos I used in my digital photography presentation on architecture.  The buildings were all taken during my time at Dragon*Con in Atlanta, GA. The pictures in the cemetery were taken down the street from my house. Surprisingly, I haven’t come across many angel topped headstones. There were two in this particular place, right across from each other. There is a lot of really cool history in New England, and it’s part of the reason I do love living here.

The first pictureis a shot I did with the camera on a headstone with lots of foliage. I experimented with depth of field in this picture (incidentally, one of my favorite things to do with a camera.)

Second picture: Downtown Atlanta during Dragon*Con. It immediately caught my eye as we walked through the downtown area.

Third picture: The Carnegie Monument outside of the Hyatt Hotel in Atlanta. I used one of the artistic filters in the picture to give it a bit of a old painting feel to it.

Fourth picture: Sitting at the Corner Bakery, I was still looking for fun stuff to photography. I looked up, then behind me and saw the reflection. It came out beautifully.

Fifth picture:Angel in the graveyard. If you’ve followed my Facebook, you would have seen the other angels I took. Loved, loved, loved sitting in that place. I think I will go back and write there.

Sixth picture:There was a little mausoleum in the graveyard and through the doors I could see a Fleur de Lys through the barred window. I walked around to the other side and noticed the broken stain glass. It made sad that someone would destroy such a beautiful thing, however, within that destruction, it was beautiful and made it special.

Where I’ve Been

If you are a friend of this blog, you know that I’ve been over at John Scalzi’s site, being all managerial and stuffs. I’ve also been swamped with the real life day jobbe, the night life narration job and the raising of three kids.

Here’s a brief update on everything:

Site Management for katebaker.net

1.) I’ve updated the front page of katebaker.net. Now complete with monsters. My friend Pete says they are dinosaurs. I’m going with a pure logic thing here. They are attacking people and eating them. Unless you subscribe to the whole Creationism thing, they are monsters. Because monsters can totally co-exist with humans. Dinosaurs can’t. So there. Nyah.

2.) I’ve also put a link up on the front page to the book in which I was recently published. Sybil’s Garage is a great read if I may say so myself. Help support Matt Kressel and the wonderful job he and his associate editors do every year.

3.) I’ve updated the narration page. Whew. I’ve read a lot this year so far. I can’t wait until I do the tally at the end of the year.

Kids & Dad

1.) William is in his second week of football. I couldn’t be more proud of him for sticking with the tough practices and I can’t wait to see him on the field.

2.) Lexie and Allie are getting ready for school. Lexie has received her 4th grade room assignment as has Allie for kindergarten. I promise I won’t cry on the first day of school.

3.) Dad continues to be in good health and we continue to celebrate it. He’s been out flying his remote control plane and hopes to add another to his collection.

Me

1.) I will be doing a lot of traveling in the coming months. I have muliple meetings planned for the day jobbe. I’ll be in Boston, Vegas and probably Miami Beach again.

2.) Interspersed with that is the fun stuff.

  • On August 28th, I will be traveling to NYC to be on The Hour of the Wolf with the awesome folks of Sybil’s Garage. I might even be able to read my story on air if time allows.
  • On September 3rd, I will be traveling to DragonCon. I am participating in Stroll with the Stars, along with attending the Parsec Awards as a nominee, and will be getting up early on Sunday to partake in the Hugo Awards breakfast. It looks to be a very exciting weekend. Wish Clarkesworld Magazine and me luck.
  • In November, I will be going camping again in Southeastern Oklahoma.

3.) I start college classes again next week. Mondays will be Digital Photography. Tuesdays will be Lit & Comp. Online course consists of Children’s Literature. Wish me luck with an already very busy schedule.

I will definitely update here more often. I have learned through my stint over on the Whatever, that writing in general helps with the craft of writing. If I am to get any more stories published, I’ll need all the practice I can get.

The Fog of Surreality – (A.K.A. #Readercon) #fb

I’ve been waiting to write this post, because it means I actually have to convince myself that Readercon is over. I guess I can’t live in the fog of surreality forever. I must come out and enjoy the sun. It’s been a week, I know. Allow me my dreams!

I arrived on Friday and instantly met up with Neil Clarke. For some odd reason, I have that weird, “omg I must find a friend so I don’t look like a complete idiot standing around in halls pretending I’m taking a phone call, so no one realizes that I’m too timid  to just come over and say hi” hang-up.  In fact, every time I’ve seen the Goddess known as Cat Valente roaming the halls with her posse, I’ve wanted to go over and say hello and gush about how much I love her writing.  Instead, I end up staring like a jackass.

I have gotten better at this in general and will muster the courage. In fact, from a recent twitter posting — it sounds like she’s just finished a story for Clarkesworld! Yay! Perhaps I’ll have something with which to introduce myself!

Where was I? Oh! Friday night. So I meet up with Neil Clarke who hands me a box of Clarkesworld business cards! I don’t think I showed the first squee I had of the night properly. How cool is it that I’ve been an official member of staff for almost 11 months? I’m almost at the two year mark for narrations!

So as I’m saying hello to Sean Wallace and his most lovely wife, Neil then surprises me with a copy of Sybil’s Garage No.7 that he just bought at a neighboring dealer’s table. I squealed with delight when he showed me. I squeed even more when he asked me for my first autograph! That has to rank right up there with one of the coolest moments of my life. I danced with my book. I didn’t care who was watching.

I went to a “Futures of Magazines” panel at 8:00 that night that included the likes of Neil, K. Tempest Bradford, Liz Gorinsky, Matt Kressel and Michael J. Deluca.  I was going to run up and introduce myself to Matt after the panel but I caught his eye and shyly waved. Much to my surprise and delight, he jumped up, ran over and gave me a warm hug. If I could meet everyone like that, I would be so happy.

Later that night, Neil and I were sitting on the floor having wonderful conversation with whomever decided to stop by and join when, David Mercurio Rivera, Devin Poore, E.C. Myers and Rajan Khanna came over to introduce themselves. I can’t say enough how cool and welcoming these guys were. Devin confessed he was the one who pulled my story out of the slush and sent it on to the other editors. It doesn’t get any better than that! Trying not to be socially retarded, I tried to hide most of my excitement. I think I failed.

Saturday was equally cool. I got up and read for a roomful of people attending the Rhysling poetry awards. I read Susan Slaverio’s “The Reaper’s Wife”. The tongue tripped up on the word, “hagiographer” but it was smooth sailing after that. Special thanks goes to Susanne Reynolds-Alpert who introduced herself and calmed my nerves with some warm words of encouragement.

I caught Mary Robinette Kowal in the lobby, said hello to her busy self and got to hold her upcoming first novel Shades of Milk and Honey. It is a gorgeous book and I can’t wait to read it when it comes out.

John Anealio stopped by the Clarkesworld booth and said hello as well. It’s always great to meet someone who’ve you been conversing with on any online medium and I was delighted he hung out with us after dinner. If you haven’t taken the time to go listen to his music, go do it now!

I got to talk a little with the ever wonderful Charlie Stross and the lovely Margaret Ronald. I wish the time had not gone so quickly.

So by now, if you attended Readercon, you know about the not-so-secret party that Matt Kressel held in his room. A celebration of sorts for the release of Sybil’s Garage NO. 7, he asked if the contributors would read their stories at the gathering. Again, another inside snoopy dance for me. See, I read other people’s work. I can’t get over the fact that I was standing in a crowded room, reading my story! Holy crap. Lots of praise for both the narration and the story left me reeling. I was very nervous that the experience of reading into a microphone in a private environment where I could correct my mistakes would translate poorly to a live medium. I am happy to report I was wrong about that.

After a lovely breakfast with Nora Jemisin on Sunday, I participated in the Clockwork Phoenix 3 reading with a wonderful panel. Gemma Files, Ken Schneyer, Mike Allen, Nicole Kohner-Stace, Claire Suzanne Elizabeth Cooney and Amal El-Mohtar did wonderful jobs with their material. I read from the Cat Rambo story, “Surrogates”. I can only hope I did the story justice!

Afterward, I ran over to the  reading where Chang Terhune was reading along with other graduates from the workshop. It was fantastic! Now, I know I’m missing someone, or something I did. In all, every person I met made this convention truly amazing. It was an event in my life that I will never, ever forget so thank you to everyone who made that possible.

I can’t wait until next year.

(Picture above by Matt Kressel — more photos here)

BAMBOOzled Beliefs and Wishes

I must warn you. This is a cautionary tale of belief; of wishing for things and calling out for help to an uncaring universe.

2009 was a year that I’d like to forget. 2010 started off much the same way for both me and friends who are quite dear. I wanted things to change and found myself frustrated that good intentions and well-wishes only carried one so far.

As I perused the shelves of indoor plants at Home Depot, a thought crossed my mind that I could try to wield the power to change fortune. To beg for release from horrid fates yet to befall.

Lucky bamboo.

She was beautiful as she sat in her green pot on a top shelf. Twisted carefully at delicate angles with little leaves that seemed to wave hello.  At almost six feet tall I can usually reach anything, yet I had to stand on the tips of my toes to pull her down. A sister plant in a burgundy pot accompanied us through the checkout line and home.

She stood strong in the window, watered and ready to meet her new owner. I targeted this plant for Neil after a conversation at Boskone. The question that started this very unfortunate series of events went something like this:

“Out of every story that you’ve published for Clarkesworld, in which one would you call home?”

His answer — Nora Jemisin’s, “Non-zero Probabilities”.

A story where belief in things was a game changer. Whispered prayers and rituals around sentimental trinkets would protect from harm. If you wished hard enough to get well from disease, you would. Playing upon the theme of that particular universe, the gift was half gag and half sincerity. I wanted to believe.

Two days after I brought Lucky home, she showed me where I could shove those optimistic thoughts. As I packed for LunaCon, setting aside the plant for travel, I ran downstairs to get clothes from the dryer. It was then I tripped over my own feet, down the stairs and broke my ankle. No LunaCon.

I missed PAX East as well. I joked with Neil that the plant wasn’t working. Six months passed in the blink of an eye and despite my gross inattention,  Lucky survived. She grew. She waited patiently. Readercon was coming.

I placed her in the back seat of the CR-V with my bag and left for Massachusetts. As I rounded the corner of an on-ramp, she fell. Spilled her rocks all over the back seat and onto the floor. I think I actually heard her cry out. Pulling off to the side, I gathered as many of the small stones that I could and re-potted her. She came up front with me then, strapped into the seat. I played her music, she seemed okay. Perhaps it was the universe’s attempt at balancing the scales.

Now, I feel guilty for giving Lucky to Neil. I hope she lives. I hope she finally knows what she’s doing.  Maybe in the beginning,  I didn’t believe in her enough to work.

Hopefully, he will.

P.S. Burgundy says hi.

Trying To Be Healthy

I’ve rejoined a gym.

I didn’t want to announce it for the fear that I would get a whole bunch of praise, only to drop it when I didn’t like it. Or the lazy would kick in and I would give excuse after excuse as to why I couldn’t go. But, I’m happy to say, I’m working on week number three and I’m pretty damn proud of myself.

You should see the motivational poster I’ve put right in front of me. I sat down one day, tired of arguing with myself about my weight and my food choices and my lack of exercise, and wrote a list of why I need to be healthy.

Some of them consist of:

1.) I want to fit comfortably in an airplane seat. I have a lot of travel coming up starting in September and I don’t want to try to make myself as small as possible because my ass and hips are taking up a little more seat than they should.

2.) I want to stop making jokes about my size. I’ve dealt with my weight by engaging in self-effacing humor. While I’m laughing that I just made a funny about my hips and jiggly bits, inside, it hurts. A lot.

3.) I want to keep up with my daughters on hikes at Girl Scout Camps. Honestly, I think this is what set me over the edge. I am a co-leader of a local troop. I was winded and red-faced on a light hike through the woods on a recent trip. I was so embarrassed. It was bad enough that I couldn’t deal with it. As my girls get older, I’m horrified at the thought that I am setting a bad example and that they would get teased or feel ashamed of me.

4.) I want to ride a bike, ski, and go to amusement parks again. My weight constantly stops me from partaking in fun stuff that I enjoyed doing when I was thin. I want to throw on some “Smells Like Teen Spirit” while tackling a mountain on skis. I want to be able to bike trails with my girls and get outside for some fun. I want to throw my hands up in the air while in the first car of that roller coaster.

5.) I want to be social. You don’t know how many times I’ve stopped myself from going out, meeting up with old friends, engaging new ones, because I was worried what people might think. I know — people like me for the person I am and not the poundage. However, that doesn’t translate to me at all. I hear those words, I just don’t feel them.

These were only some of the reasons I wrote down on my big sky blue poster board. A picture of me at Christmas accompanies the words as well. I am doing a poor job of hiding behind my five year old daughter. I don’t want to do that anymore either.

Underneath that is this dress: The dress I hope to wear to a convention in the fall at a size 14 or 16.

Today — I did a half hour of strength and agility training and a hour of Zumba.  You know the pain that hits you and feel like you are dying? This pain is different. I finally feel alive.

Wish me motivation. I’m going to need it.

I Could Never Be A Pageant Mom #fb

 

Two weekends ago, a few towns away, there was a pageant. I was mixed when Allyson asked to participate, but she was excited at the possibility of winning a plastic crown and fake sash.

If you’ve seen Toddlers and Tiaras on TLC, you know what goes into putting a pageant girl up on a stage. Thousands of dollars are spent per pageant on hair pieces, make up and dresses. One grandmother from this clip on youtube  laughs off the fact that she bought her granddaughter’s first gown for $20,000.00.

Um, what? I think I barfed a little in my mouth.

As they introduced each little girl for the local pageant, Allyson ran forward, shouted that her favorite color was red and fidgeted the entire time she was standing there.

When they passed out the white chocolate, “thank-you-for-participating” lollipops to each girl as the judges marked their cards, Allyson asked if she could eat hers. While other moms said no, I unwrapped the pop and happily handed it to my daughter uncaring if the dress she wore got dirty.

Allyson laughed while other girls kept on their plastic smiles and held their hands at their sides like Barbies on doll stands.

Allyson struck funny poses while some mothers dragged little ones in front of judges screaming and crying.

As you can see, my fiery little redhead wore a simple strawberry patterned sundress, with no makeup except for lip gloss and a white ribbon headband that I made myself.

She was the least decorated one there and I really wish at this point, I could tell you in my perfect Katetopia, where personality comes before beauty, that she won. But she didn’t and frankly, I’m glad.

I won’t be that mother that bends over their child and reminds them to smile and wave and act like a Stepford child. I won’t be that mother who anxiously lip syncs the rehearsed line her daughter sweetly feeds the judges. I won’t be that mom who won’t let my daughter play in the mud or let her get branches and grass tangled in her hair. I don’t need to live vicariously though my daughter, and lament missed opportunities in my past.

In fact, I hope Allyson can forgive me one day for subjecting her to such a false circus. I will work hard to instill selfconfidence in all three of my kids. Ultimately, with proper guidance, they should be proud of who they are and not how they look.

I will never be a pageant mom. Ever.

My kids are beautiful with chocolate smeared on their faces and clothes. My kids are wonderful when they smile without cues. My kids are brilliant, fun and most importantly, kids. Why so many of these pageant moms are so eager to make their kids into adults with rhinestones and lip liner is beyond me.

I will revel in their youth and embrace both their successes and their failures. I will love them for being them.

Allyson did ask why she didn’t get a crown, and as I bought her a fairy princess wreath from a nearby craft vendor, I told her that she didn’t need one to be special or loved, because she was; without the sash, a title or a plastic crown that symbolizes beauty above brains. To me, that’s the most unattractive line of thought one person could have or pass on to an impressionable child.

Help Me Choose My Name

As most of you have seen, I’ve sold my first short story. I’ve always had a question as to what I should call myself should I ever get published and now, I need your help in deciding.

I originally thought going with Kate Baker would be the best, only because I’ve been using that name over at Clarkesworld Magazine for all the podcasts I’ve done. However, and its a good point — more than one person has commented how close the name is to the late Kage Baker. The last thing I would want to do is create confusion or look like I’m attempting to ride on such a wonderful author’s reputation.

So below — I’ve created a poll. These are the names I’m considering.

Choice 1 – Kate Baker (Again — name I’ve been using for CW Podcasts but nothing writing related.)
Choice 2 – Kathryn E. Baker – This is the name I legally sign
Choice 3 – Kathryn Nerys Baker – A name I came up with to sound like a writer 😉
Choice 4 – Kathryn N. Baker – A variation of the writerly name
Choice 5 – Kathryn E. Wittmer – My maiden name
Choice 6 – Kathryn Baker (Suggested a few times, decided to add it)

If you have a choice that may sound better (serious names only, please) leave them in the comments.


Welcome Back, Katers

Ugh.

Blogging.

I made a liar out of myself back in early March when I said I was back to blogging. I have just been dealing with a lot in all of my interconnected worlds. I’ve been swamped with the day jobbe. Having just recently returned from Miami Beach, which was more work than play, I realized I need to have more fun in my life.

Yet, other personal issues have cropped up that have prevented that revelry from occurring. While I sit back and worry, my drive to write ultimate suffers. I have been barely able to update my twitter and facebook accounts as well.

I had waved the white flag, thrown in the towel, given up on productively sitting at my computer to compose anything worthwhile. This post is the first step in the right direction. I want to get back on track and start creating again.

I can’t promise posts every day, and I’m not apologizing for the way my life has exploded in multi-faceted brilliant and terrifying ways, but I am going to try to be around here more often. I have been blogging for almost five years. I don’t intend to stop now.