Weekly Photo Challenge: Reflections

Weekly Photo Challenge:  Reflections

They say you should never take a photo into the sun, but I often do. The effect can be interesting (just be sure your eyes are protected). At Lake Sylvan, New Zealand, I caught the reflection of mountains, snow, and sky in the water–as sun rays shone down onto my camera’s lens.

I tried to capture some of this adventure in my new book, “Fire and Ice.”  Where have your journeys taken you?

If you like my posts, please check out my books:


Mystical New Zealand

The color green represents New Zealand, and so does the word “mystical.”  I have traveled to many countries around the world, yet I took my best photos in New Zealand and wrote it into three of my books.  You can see the essence of mystical in the mountains, glaciers, lakes, rivers, valleys, and forests.  You can even see a sense of mystery in the native birds and the people who journey there.  Walk with me through images of my favorite New Zealand photos. Continue reading

New Zealand and the Color Green

Inspired by the Weekly Photo Challenge topic of the color green, I browsed through some of my old photos of New Zealand, the most beautifully green place in the world.  I edited the photos a little, brightening colors or sharpening edges, and here are some for you to enjoy.


My son Jonathan as a little Hobbit in Dart Forest


The sheep-farming hills of Fairlie


Fairlie with snow-covered mountains in the background


The blue-green water of Lake Pukake, which melts from Mount Cook’s glacier


An evergreen forest behind the autumny colors of Lake Tekapo and its church


The rocks at Banks Peninsula near Christchurch


More colors to explore on the open road


If you enjoyed my photos, read the adventures that go with them in my book “Fire and Ice”


Weekly Photo Challenge: Green

Weekly Photo Challenge:  Green

Once I owned real “Lord of the Rings” armor. I had a Sting sword and a winged Gondor helmet. I lived in New Zealand with my two children, in an old Maori village on the South Island. My children would play with the armor (under my supervision, of course), and I would take photos of them with the local children, creating scenes as in my fantasy novels.

In this photo, a young Maori boy poses as a silver warrior against a deep green fir tree. He seems ready for the battles of life.

I had to leave New Zealand with my children 5 years ago. We went back to California, and I lost everything to my ex-husband in divorce court (including my lovely mountain home and custody of my children). My life became a raging battle. I fled a mountain wildfire and then flew to Russia to teach English, landing in Turkey after that.

Read about my adventures in my book “Fire and Ice.”

Enjoy my epic fantasy story about how Selah the slave girl flees desert witchcraft to find love in the mountains–in “Selah of the Summit.”

Life can be a battle. How do you endure the fight?


Sonnet: “The Beating Wings”

Weekly Photo Challenge:  Solitary (Close)

Here is a close-up of the same white egret which stood in the waters of Milford Sound, New Zealand. My daughter Jessica, who paused at the water’s edge and watched the scene with me, loves birds. She lives in California now, while I teach English in Turkey.  She just turned 20 and studies languages such as Arabic and Spanish. I miss her and am writing my way back for a visit!  Turkey is half a world away from California, about as far away as New Zealand . . .

Here’s a poem I wrote about a girl, dying of cancer, who also loved birds:

“The Beating Wings”

(for Kristen

who died of leukemia

at age 12)

She sat, a scarecrow in a slit-back gown:

Trans lucent skin, her fingers stretched like nails.

She reached to me beside the silver rails.

And when she turned, her head bobbed up and down;

The blood shone on her teeth, like web spun ’round.

The thread, that pain, it wrapped her eyes–once pale–

And pupils swallowed blue in one dark veil.

I watched–she seemed to speak–there was no sound.

Kristen, I remember when we saw the birds

In cases, stuffed, their eyes unblinking glass;

An egret, its wings like crystal, seemed to rise.

You spoke its name, I leaned to catch the word;

It was yourself you called–Oh, you flew past–

I saw the beating wings behind your eyes.


From my true cancer survival book, Crossing the Chemo Room.


Weekly Photo Challenge: Solitary (Far)

Weekly Photo Challenge:  Solitary (Far)

A lone egret stands in Milford Sound in New Zealand. The white bird is surrounded by water, trees, sky, and the distant, misty mountains. I stood at this spot with my children Jessica and Jonathan, a few years ago. We could feel the peace of the place, solitary in a vast landscape–yet connected to each other. Now they are in California, and I am in Turkey, writing to get back to them.

If you like my posts, please check out my books:


Weekly Photo Challenge: Near & Far 2

Weekly Photo Challenge:  Near & Far 2

My son Jonathan in the Rees River Valley, South Island, New Zealand. He stands in the foreground, looking through binoculars, as the vast mountain valley spreads out behind him. I took my best photos in New Zealand. I wish I could take Jonathan (now 17) back there and stand at that very spot with him.

Selah and the Waterfall

I am obsessed with waterfalls.  When I lived in New Zealand, I traveled around both big islands, taking photos of as many waterfalls as I could find.  Back in California, I hiked in the mountains to find the highest waterfalls.  When I flew off to teach English in Turkey, I discovered Duden Waterfall–the best example of a waterfall in all its mysterious anatomy.  I took photos from all angels, even from the cave behind the cascading water.


My children, Jonathan and Jessica, at a waterfall in Peele Forest, New Zealand

My fantasy novel “Selah of the Summit” tells of a slave girl from the desert who can only look at the distant, snow-covered mountains and imagine lakes and rivers.  She must fetch water from a dusty, warm well and bring it to her evil Master.  One evening, as she serves guests in the Great Hall, a stranger gives her a surprising gift and a promise of freedom.  That very night Selah follows Micah out of the Keep, across the desert, and to the mountain’s edge.  Thus begins Selah’s journey up the mountain to the Summit.

At the Summit, Selah finds the river’s source.  In this scene, she jumps into the water and discovers something amazing:

Selah turned around and looked down at the spring bubbling out of the rock and into the river far below.  She stared into the water, clear and cool.  She could not see the bottom.

She knew what she had to do.  Without hesitating, she dove into the river. Continue reading