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Lisa “LJ” Cohen
Poet, Novelist, potter, Doctor Who fan, denizen of Night Vale
Poet, Novelist, potter, Doctor Who fan, denizen of Night Vale

Lisa “LJ” Cohen's posts

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Welcome to my home on the plus! If you don't want to wade through my longer profile, here's the speed read edition:

* author of 6 SF&F novels
* poet
* potter
* international spy

My novels are available in eBook and print editions in all the usual and some of the unusual places:

Barnes & Noble *iTunes*
Google Play
*Directly from me through my website*

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So they're all optional?

Good news; bad news.

First the good: The one thing I thought I'd lost in our housefire was the box of my early writing and the cards and letters my husband and I had sent to one another over our long distance relationship in the 1980s. We had one box of things salvaged from the very charred basement that we'd put on an enclosed porch 6 years ago an pretty much forgot about. I needed to look for something I thought might be in that box and found my childhood journals and all my early writing, letters, cards, etc.

Now the bad: the one thing I was sure was in that box was the file with my adoption paperwork. I've been through it twice and that folder isn't there. Which means it's probably gone forever and I have to rely on what I remember. One of the things in that file was a letter to the lawyer thanking him for his help from my biological mother. Losing that hurts more than I had anticipated and I'm not sure why.

Anyway, if I ever wanted to inflict enormous pain upon you all, I could scan and upload some of my really dreadful Star Wars or Doctor Who fanfic from the 1970s. 

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This utterly made my day.

My work here is done!
+Lisa Cohen​ I just finished Parallax. Let me see if I can adequately express myself.....
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No surprises in my DNA as far as my ethnic heritage is concerned. But when you're an adoptee, the question of identity gets tangled.

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Yes! This! Having a wide breadth of knowledge gives an advantage to creativity and problem solving. 
"At the deepest level, what we can learn from Elon Musk's story is that we shouldn't accept the dogma that specialization is the best or only path toward career success and impact."

This article was interesting and slightly inspiring for someone like me who is constantly dabbling in mixed education.

I feel like most writer's are like this. We learn and grow in so many areas to make our writing the best it can be. The most believable it can be. I learn so much just researching my imagination and making it real. Then I have to be able to mesh that information into another area that maybe a reader hadn't thought of before.

Read the whole article. I particularly liked the quote near the end.

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So amazing!
Dragon Mosaic
Today was the day. I was able to capture something I had been hoping for since the beginning of summer – a dragonfly glowing under ultraviolet fluorescence… and here she is. Read on!

This female Twelve-spotted Skimmer was in my garden. I recently purchased a large bug net to try and get one of these beauties to cooperate, as they decidedly wanted nothing to do with me. A quick swing of the net and she was mine. I was hoping she would be more cooperative, but I didn’t want to hurt her, so a quick dip into the freezer for 3-4 minutes made cooperation much easier. I’ve done this with other insects before to put them into a temporary “hibernation”, which gives just enough time to setup and take the photograph before normal activity resumes. I hate to do it, but this shot required a controlled studio environment that I wouldn’t get any other way.

When she awoke, I placed her on a Bee Balm flower – one that she had been hunting nearby outside. I knew from previous experience that these flowers would glow red, and it was my hopes that the wings here would glow blue in contrast. Like winning the lottery I was right – bam! I’m still a little giddy from the moment I first saw the results.

Some insects have wings that will fluoresce under UV light, but this is drastically in the minority. The only other insect I’ve seen this with is the cicada. Based on its larger size, I also tried to shoot bumblebees and damselflies in UV but their wings are still completely transparent. So are honeybees, house flies, hoverflies, and wasps – at least the species I’ve tested. Even a smaller species of dragonfly I looked at later in the day had non-fluorescing wings. You never know what you’re going to get until it jumps out at you!

This image was shot in nearly complete darkness so that there is no visible light that makes any impact on the image. Everything you see here is light that has entered the visible spectrum from the ultraviolet spectrum – fluorescence. This is a view of nature rarely seen and never seen outside of “laboratory environments”… yet it can be so incredibly beautiful. Of particular note is the pattern in the wings – like lighter blue tiles were chosen in the mosaic to radiate in curving lines away from the wing muscles, captivating patterns emerge.

My best guess on these patterns has to do with cell thickness – these lines would be thicker and offer support through the wing structure, similar to the frame of an airplane. It might have something to do with “fueling” the wings like human muscles have a blood supply, but I don’t think the wings are the active component here. I’m not an entomologist, but I’d like to hear from them on this!

This is a three image focus stack, which is very difficult to do in UV fluorescence due to the recycle time of the flashes. 2-3 seconds between shots in the dark? I took about 10 shots just to be sure, but the dragonfly was moving after the first few – thankfully I got what I needed to get wing sharpness from tip to tip. This in my top 5 of UVIVF (ultraviolet-induced visible fluorescence) images so far, with more to come I’m sure!

This kind of photography is an incredible small niche and required very specific custom-made equipment that… isn’t cheap. I’m happy to do one-on-one workshops with my gear however – if you want to learn this, just send me an e-mail –

If you want to see more of my work in action, check out the documentary film “Mosquito” on Discovery. If you see any fluorescing insects, that’s me. :) (content is US region locked, sorry everyone in Canada and elsewhere!)

Epilogue: Shortly after I took the image, this girl started to get really active and I quickly put her outside. She flew away, and is hopefully roaming the gardens again – unless I scared her off!

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I don't know what kind of creature this is, but it was clearly hiding and definitely frightened or startled. I wisely did not approach. 

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Mya is skeptical of water that moves. And she found a human to protect her.
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Happy me. Hanging with my dear friend +Ilyanna​. Life is good.
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