Saturday, October 18, 2014

my hands

my hands etch down sighs, sketching this motion
along calligraphy nib on rag hair’s whisper,

my hands shape ancient arm break in air
my hands cup your phantom memory hip
--can you still them, flying away to you?

hands carving the energy forming impressions
of your need, on a night of talking with my hands 

© Christiane Lopez

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Get Your Kids to Go Outside and Play (a Game) This Holiday

Yet another assignment in my Future of Storytelling MOOC has spawned a terrific experience. This time it included a friend and her three-year-old daughter. 

The challenge
Using locations and original characters, tell a site-specific, location-based story. 

The Backstory
Melody Avise, former NASA scientist residing on the Space Coast of Florida in a post-apocalyptic techie commune, released daughter Blue to the world government's student dome in Virginia in preparation for Mars colonization. 

Blue's memory was wiped upon arrival at the dome, but before her departure years ago, Melody implanted her with a hormone-activated memory chip that would restore her memories. Meanwhile, something goes wrong with the program and Blue flees, using the memory map emerging in her mind to search for her Florida home. 

Melody's enhanced connection with her daughter (augmented intelligence resembling psychic ability) prompted her to leave concrete clues for Blue in case she returned. 

The Game
In order to help Blue remember, you will find the objects and post photos of them via social media in a public place Blue may view them to help jog her memory and bring her home. 

The first clue was left on Foursquare and shared via Facebook and Twitter.

A friend decided to pursue the game with her 3-year-old daughter.  Here are their photos posted on Facebook this morning:

Original Photo Set Above Copyright A. Anastasia 

The final cache contained a child's pearl necklace and was found under our community Christmas Tree. My friend's daughter wants to know when she can help Blue again. 

The success of the game is encouraging, and was simple enough for an adult-guided child to enjoy. The complications included unexpected crowds at the sites, making placement a bit difficult, and the limited number of possible participants. The share on social media was a huge hit, and conversations about the game are underway at the moment. This could lead to a much larger game, and an ARG is in the works!

Now it's your turn. If you want a story to get you started, you select elements from our mermaid tale below, or use an invented story or existing storybook to incite an adventure in your own neighborhood! You may be starting a new holiday tradition!

Friday, November 22, 2013

Face It, Gaming Is a Thing - A Good Thing For Writers!

Gaming. An emotional word. We are talking about playing digital games, either in an app, on a console, or online.

How do you feel about people who game? Teenagers who use TeamSpeak and collaborate with players all over the world, who team up to talk and yell online while killing zombies, are one scenario. 

Another way to play is via iPhone or Facebook, and involves apps such as Angry Birds, Farmville, Candy Crush, or my personal favorite mind break game, Flow. 

Lots of positive research is emerging about the happiness of gamers, and the increase in problem solving and social skills games teach. 

Yet gaming sounds rather bogus to some. It even makes some gamers' parents angry, because they believe that gaming does not serve as a valid activity, such as reading, watching TV, or going to a party. 

In fact many games involve all three of these things.

(Our philosophy is that mental downtime is a good thing for the brain. It's each individual's choice how to spend that time.)

What writers may not realize is that gaming relies on two very important elements, including 1. game play, or the feel of the game, and 2. story, or motivation behind the characters' action. 

If writers find publishing an eBook disheartening, there is another option now. Why not try writing a good story that gamers will want join?

We have one such story in the works. If you write science fiction, or any fiction, feel free to contact me at for more information.

There is still time to join this free MOOC, The Future of Storytelling, which I am taking with over 80,000 friends from all over the world! This week we are studying the future of computer game storytelling:

Saturday, November 16, 2013

I’m Dreaming of a Beige, no, RED Christmas!

Check out the HGTV Christmas blog, and you’ll find a disturbing trend. Perhaps we can blame anything from IKEA to the economy, but the trend toward beige as a holiday color has begun to take the festiveness out of the festivities. 

Somehow red has become too garish to those who seem embarrassed by many Americans’ favorite holiday of the year--?

Chanukah has its brilliant blue, and Christmas has its green and candy apple or beet red. That’s tradition! (So if you want to change that to boring beige, billing it as the new Christmas color, you don’t have that power, random designers.) 

Christmas red inspires my holiday cheer!
Add some silver, gold, or whatever you like, but the Christmas tradition of green and red endures in our Southern village.

Why am I so emotional about this tradition? The psychology behind a red Christmas has its basis in emotional payoff. Red is passionate and demands attention. 

Beige is neutral, lifeless, and easy to ignore. 

Are we trying to ignore Christmas? Will it make us happier or more engaged with our families and friends during the holidays to opt for a less obtrusive color?


Tell me how these holiday beads would be better in brown. Exactly. 

So you’re with me? 

OK, it’s time to deck the halls and paint the town red!

Monday, November 11, 2013

Beautiful Boats to Delight the Mermaid in You

Let's take a boating break, shall we? 

The photos above depict my son's 18th birthday voyage on our friends' Hatteras. 

The black and white photos are infrared, everything was shot with my Nikon D90. They look amazing printed on metallic paper. I'm creating a collection for our gallery at the Shoppes at Naples Bay Resort. 

Buoyant blessings!

Christiane Lopez

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Melody Character Study

As part of the Storytelling course and in the spirit of NaNoWritMo, here is the profile of one of the characters in our current project

Melody Character Profile

Melody, age 42, is the mother of the main character in a story concerning the near-future of life on Earth and other planets. She was a NASA scientist who was offered a special compensation package with the closing of the national space program in favor of an international pod of young scientists who are being housed in a dome in Virginia.

In anticipation of colonizing Mars, NASA scientists’ children are invited to live at a special boarding school that trains them as the first colonists. There is one caveat: The children’s memories of their families are wiped to eliminate “old world” thinking on the new planet. Melody created a hack she inserted in her daughter to restore her family memories when her daughter reaches adolescence.

Melody was part of a space program and was working in genetic modifications when she began to notice that the polluted air of increasingly radioactive Earth was interacting with the genetically modified plant life in such a way as to cause the plant life of Earth to rapidly die off. Her apocalyptic predictions of the future, corroborated by the findings of her peers, earned her the maligning label of “tree prophet”. Melody and her husband Frank, an astrophysicist from Japan, embraced the label and call themselves the Tree Prophets, as they try to solve the riddle of prolonging quality life on Earth outside the colonist boarding school dome until the time when (hopefully) third wave colonists will be invited to Mars.

When we meet Melody, her daughter has been at the training school for several years, and Melody has reason to believe the time has come for her daughter to go to Mars. She can only guess, as there is no contact between the school and other civilians. She does not trust the government, but wants what is best for her daughter, especially life in an environment that does not cause her lungs to fill with poison leading to illness and death, as is common outside the dome.

The Tree Prophets have cannibalized the old NASA stomping grounds outside of Titusville, Florida and are developing all sorts of technology in an effort to increase the quality of life for humans essentially abandoned on Earth. The east coast of the US is the safest place remaining on Earth and home to the elites and dignitaries also housed at the dome, further enforcing the covert behavior of Melody and her friends, who live on a science ranch of sorts on the Space Coast only a few hundred miles south.

Four sandboxes exist in the story, but Melody’s home is the only one she can access, while her daughter will experience all four as the first main character of the story. Melody has separate housing with her husband and dog, as part of the ranch compound which is home to several other scientists. Their projects include a community branch which Melody heads up that is responsible for food development and experiments in encouraging a canopy of new plants that will provide better air quality.

Religion and the arts are marginalized due to the intense focus on its mission, but the community has grown with the birth of a few children, which may be considered the first healthy generation on Earth in many years, thanks to Melody’s work with genetics and plant life. Her quest to stave off human extinction while awaiting a planet transfer is showing promise.

Sample Scene

Melody quickened. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw something flitter past the window. She chased it with her gaze and and found it was a blowing leaf. But it had hovered like a bluebird if only in her mind’s eye.

Frank looked up from his tea. “You’re thinking of her again, aren’t you, that Sarah Psyche look in your eye?”

Melody exhaled as the corners of her mouth fought a smile. “Mother’s intuition just might be a superpower, you know?”

Frank turned his cup in his hand as if in ceremony. “She’s fine. Up living the life at Virginia Beach, swaying on her weak stems, little hothouse flower. Spoiled by brilliance, coddled by technology.”

“Wow, Frank, you’re waxing snarky this morning.” Melody reached out for a handful of peanuts and returned to her diagram. “She’s fine, sure. Launch date for second wave is in a few weeks, rumor has it.”

“Rumor?” Frank smirked. “You have gossiping voices in your head, now do you?”

“It’s logical that the last launch cycle was for terraforming, and the next will be colonization, we’ve discussed this. Not everything is a feeling.” Melody smiled now, forcibly defensive.

“Just tell me when to look up. I’d like to catch a glimpse of our little bluebird as she blasts into space.” Frank smiled, too, his wincing, worried smile. 

Melody threw a peanut at his mouth. “Look up!”

“Har, har,” Frank picked up the peanut from the floor next to his chair and tossed it to Tucker, who raised an eyebrow before slowly and licking up the treat, then bathing the wood surface beneath with dog slobber for several moments. That process brought chuckles from his human family every time.