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 lopez@mermaidsbite.com 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.  

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Top 5 Makeup Treats: $ave Money while Saving Face

What girl doesn't want to look her best? 


That's my excuse for this post. This is my response to aging avoidance my way with an emphasis on remaining an advocate of natural beauty.


Let's put natural beauty to a vote

Which is your favorite artistic photo, meaning which photograph brings a sense of true beauty to the model?


  OR  

It's the same Swedish model, Mini Anden, in both photos. The black and white photo on the left, which features lots of freckles and very little makeup, has been repinned from my Boho But Natural Pinterest board 159 times. 

The second photo shows heavy makeup with Mini's freckles covered for a slick and cosmopolitan look. 

Most notably, she looks many years older in the second photo. 

The girlish quality of less makeup is more attractive on the majority of women, and it certainly has my Pinterest followers' approval. 

As we age, we need a fresher feel, as makeup tends to slide into the creases of our skin producing awful results, and visually emphasizing the downside of years of laughter and sunshine. 

A lifelong user of natural remedies and cosmetics, I find using less makeup becomes more of a challenge each year, but it's easier with the proper tools. 

Lifestyle Check

Run, drink lots of water, eat right, drink moderately, watch sugar intake, don't smoke, try to get enough sleep, and on and on... 

Even so, the sun exposure on my freckled skin has probably photo-aged me. Plus if you have sensitive skin, you must be choosy about products.

My aesthetician says "you're doing something right" because she thinks my skin is in excellent shape, and people seem surprised that I'm a mom of a teenager. Unless that's all just flattery, this skin care regime must be at least partly to blame. 

Here's my Top Five



  1. Skin Eternal Cream from Source Naturals with anti-aging ingredients DMAE, alpha-lipoic acid, C-ester, Coenzyme Q-10, MSM, and a kiwi scent--no fish oil smell,  yay! This is the night cream, but you can wear it all day even in the Florida heat. It protects and nourishes your skin despite exposure to the elements. Read the reviews, most women adore it.
  2. True Match by L'Oreal Paris doesn't come from the high end market, and it doesn't cover freckles completely, because it works with your natural color and beauty to enhance instead of hide your skin. Dab a little extra on problem spots in lieu of concealer. Rest assured you'll look your best in broad daylight. It's OK for a beach day, there is sunscreen in the formula. Promise: No breakouts from this product. Ever. 
  3. Nutrogena Healthy Volume Mascara lays it on thick, but without irritating your eyes. Mascara goes a long way toward natural beauty as long as you apply it so that no one can tell you're wearing it. This formula does the trick beautifully. 
  4. Nutrogena Nourishing Eyeliner creates a smoky eye without producing red eyes. Please choose any color besides black unless you're Joan Jett. Black eyeliner is great for the young and the goth, but not at all attractive on midlife clubbers. Besides, a color that matches your brow can do double duty as a brow enhancer!
  5. DMA Lipshine gives a little gloss and a lot of nurturing for a kissable mouth. No hard work here, just luxe lips!


Check out the look of Duality Makeup Artistry lips


(Yes, completely blown out porcelain skin before summer set in...)

If you have sensitive skin, troubled skin, aging skin or all of the above, you will love the natural nurturing of this beauty kit five. Total cost of this collection is about $70. 

Or you can skip everything but the $20 cream for a raw beauty regime, no makeup needed. 

Please add your natural makeup tips below. xo



Monday, November 4, 2013

After Contact: The Future of Storytelling


I had to wait a few days to answer the first assignment for The Future of Storytelling, which asked me to write about a favorite movie.  (With over 70,000 classmates worldwide, I doubt my response has been missed just yet.)  But while favorite movies may come along once in a lifetime, in a sci-fi focused family like mine, when a book series you've read all your life becomes a movie it can complicate things. 


My favorite movie is Contact, and my son's was, too, until yesterday. We saw Ender's Game and it was epic. Also it was true to the story, thanks in part to the young adult series author Orson Scott Card's heavy involvement, including rewriting the screenplay six times. 

When Carl Sagan's novel Contact was made into a box office hit film, it answered the second question of sci-fi, "Are we alone?" You cannot help but be inspired by Jodie Foster's intelligence and tenacity as Ellie Arroway, the scientist who holds out her father's hope that other beings exist and may be trying to make contact with humans on Earth. 

When my son was 8, we viewed the film together. That began an important conversation with my son that has lasted his lifetime thus far. 

That year I bought him the first book in the Ender series. Ten years later, Ender's Game was made into a film to answer the third pertinent question in sci-fi, "What happens after contact?" That's my son's favorite question, with possibilities as endless as the imagination. 



The military focus of Card's story arch peaks with the emergence of Ender Wiggin, a young boy who games his way to commander of an elite fleet set on destroying the alien enemy who has attacked and been defeated in a previous Earth battle. 


Every effort to isolate Ender fails, as the genius misfit wins over bullies to miscreants with his emotional intelligence and battle savvy. 



Spoiler alert: Eventually he connects with the leader of the alien enemy and creates a strange diplomatic solution to the genocide for which he was unwittingly responsible. 

Science fiction is always about connection in the story. More than any other audience, sci-fi fans want to relate deeply with their heroes, who are typically  misfits. One may conclude the need to belong bonds the genre, and in an age of arguably less real  human connection, sci-fi engages young and old alike around good storytelling. 

By creating alien nations, these stories cure the alienation of humanity and bond humans under the cause of survival and exploration.  

Perhaps Contact will remain our family's top film, but we have made room at the top for a story about young adults of the future who hold the future of Earth in their hands as part of Ender's Game.

3 Questions Sci-Fi Answers

  1. What is the future like?
  2. Are we alone?
  3. What happens after contact?

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Torching a Dream: Chris Sanderson's Lampwork

When Chris Sanderson and I met and began working together a couple of seasons ago, our clients fell in love with her glass beads for their serious rank as eye candy for the handmade minded. 

Artisan jewelry is the town and country standard for savvy women. You're sure to shiver with delight as we did exploring her shiny tradition of fine focal pieces for catching the Florida sunlight. 

It's like putting on a fashionable party to wear one of Chris's lampwork pendants. 

Her work brings joy to the wearer, and she says it’s fun to create, too. 

It takes years of practice and classes with the North American masters, such as Libby L. of the International Society of GlassBeadmakers gatherings, to accomplish such stunning beads made of six layers of glass. In some beads Chris incorporates sterling silver to produce a dazzling iridescent effect.



I was warned last season that a mermaid bead was on the way, and it arrived this week. My admiration for Chris just leveled up, she is a genius! 

Take a look at the mesmerizing lampwork process in the video Chris provided (below), compliments of her supportive husband, and set to smooth jazz. She makes it look so easy. 

And as for what she'll do for your look, let's just say her handcrafted pieces tend to attract the right kind of envy. 

A new fall bead Chris is producing involves etching the glass surface for a matte finish, as she explains:




Here is a new style of bead that I am really loving.  I especially like how this technique looks with opaque fall colors.  It involves etching the bead after it's made with a tumbling process and then to enhance and protect the glass it gets a fine coating of oil/beeswax and this part just makes all the striations pop! 



So if you want to wear the finest artisan conversation piece this fall, or give an incomparable treasure as a gift, here are a few reasons to place Chris' lampwork bead jewelry at the top of your list:
  • Beads handcrafted with up to six layers of glass sparkle with depth and quality.
  • Chris anneals her beads in a digital kiln to make them hard to break.
  • Chris Sanderson is a designer, artist and professional businesswoman with a stellar reputation, tons of talent, and experience studying under lampwork masters. 
  • Her limited edition beads are scarce. She can only make so many, they are unique and take time (watch the video above!).
  • Your purchase entitles you to receive special offers on all future beads.
  • Can you believe her prices? No one else will guess, either. Plus, you'll look like a princess wearing her artwork!