Friday, February 27, 2015

Nest Cam Watch Begins Again!

It's the end of February, which means it's once again the beginning of nest cam watch. This is when eagles and owls are beginning to lay their eggs. This can lead to a bit of drama, as the bald eagle couple in Decorah, Iowa, had to fend off a Great Horned owl couple that wanted to move into one of their nests. First one to lay an egg won, and the eagles now have control of the nest. They're now sitting on three eggs, and watchers are hoping the owl couple moved to the old nest (which still has a nest cam). Fort St. Vrain in Colorado has three eggs, as does the DNR eagle nest in Minnesota. A Great Horned Owl nest in Oklahoma City has three fuzzy hatchlings.

If you want to keep up with activities, there's a Facebook page for the Raptor Resource Project, which covers several nests (but the main news is usually the Decorah nest). There is also the Raptor Resource Project website with various links to nest cams. There's also a link to the discussion forums to keep up without having to watch the cams. Fort St. Vrain cam now has its own Facebook group. So does the MN DNR cam and MN Bound.

Peregrine falcons in the Midwest haven't returned to their nests yet, but Clara and Fernando in San Jose have three eggs already. They've had up to five in previous years, so they might not be done yet.

Until the eggs hatch, there's often not much to see, other than one or the other parent sitting on the eggs. But each nest is different. The Decorah couple usually has disagreements about stick placement in the "crib rails", and watchers have decided that Dad is a stick fanatic. He often brings in very large sticks. It's also interesting to catch the shift changes. In the video link Dad takes over from Mom, and you can see him carefully ball his talons so the egg isn't damaged. Since there are still snowstorms this time of year, it can sometimes be hard to watch. Fort St. Vrain has lost chicks to storms in past years and seeing the nest surrounded by snow can be worrying for many watchers.

The excitement for Minnesota watchers has begun with the first hatch at the DNR nest. That nest started in January. It usually takes 35 days until hatch, so for nests like Decorah which just finished laying eggs, fuzzballs won't appear until March. The next egg in that nest should hatch within a day or so, but meanwhile every feeding of this hatchling is watched and discussed.

I've been watching nest cams for a long time, and that experience plus knowing where to find answers to other questions came in handy when I wrote "Search And Rescue", a short story released last August by Amber Quill Press. In it, nest cam watchers report a chick fallen from an eagle nest, and the wildlife rescuer finds a bit more than she expected - a feathered being not seen outside of fantasy.

"Search And Rescue" can be found at Amber Quill Press in several formats as well as at Amazon for Kindle, B&N for Nook, and at Kobo.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

READING, WRITING AND ARITHMETIC!

Welcome!
 
Today I have a bunch of different thoughts. That's the way my brain is working lately.
 
How has your week been so far?
Has your weather improved? We went from spring to winter. A little snow, but mostly ice. I'm not complaining because it's nothing compared to other states. Most area schools closed Monday and started late Tuesday. I hibernated.
I also had some great news yesterday.I saw the galley for WEIRD NOISES IN THE  NIGHT.
This is a picture book mystery for ages 6-9, from Guardian Angel Publishing. I've been waiting a long time for this one. Watch for a cover reveal soon.

I've been busy reading, reading, reading.
Now I have to write, write, write reviews.
I'm way behind and hope to catch up by the first of March. We'll see.
I have several new books to read, looking forward to them.
I'm not sure where the arithmetic comes in.
Counting the books, maybe? Adding up pages read?
 
One more thought's rattling around in my head. Have you signed up for the A to Z April Challenge? I just did. My first time. If you're interested take a look. Here's the link.
 
 
Happy Reading.
 


Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Having Fun With Research

I've been rewriting a story that is primarily set in 1861. This requires a bit of research to get details correct, after all, I don't have any first hand knowledge of what life was like at that time.

I was trying to find out what it might be like to be at a ball in 1861, since most of my knowledge of that coming from Gone With The Wind, and I figured I should dig a little deeper.

I found this:

 In case you didn't catch the whole subtitle, it says:

A COMPLETE HAND BOOK FOR THE USE OF THE LADY IN POLITE SOCIETY.

CONTAINING
FULL DIRECTIONS FOR CORRECT MANNERS, DRESS, DEPORTMENT, AND CONVERSATION;
RULES FOR THE DUTIES OF BOTH HOSTESS AND GUEST
IN MORNING RECEPTIONS, DINNER COMPANIES, VISITING, EVENING
PARTIES AND BALLS; A COMPLETE GUIDE FOR LETTER
WRITING AND CARDS OF COMPLIMENT; HINTS
ON MANAGING SERVANTS, ON THE PRESERVATION
OF HEALTH, AND ON ACCOMPLISHMENTS.
AND ALSO
USEFUL RECEIPTS FOR THE COMPLEXION, HAIR, AND WITH HINTS
AND DIRECTIONS FOR THE CARE OF THE WARDROBE.

And it was published in 1860.
Perfect.
And now for your edification I will share several etiquette tips from 1860.
Under the topic of Conversation:
Never use the phrases, "What-d-ye call it," "Thingummy," "What's his name," or any such substitutes for a proper name or place. If you cannot recall the names you wish to use, it is better not to tell the story or incident connected with them. No lady of high breeding will ever use these substitutes in conversation.

Under the topic of Dress:
Shopping Dresses—Should be of such material as will bear the crush of a crowded store without injury, and neither lace or delicate fabrics should ever be worn. A dress of merino in winter, with a cloth cloak and[30] plain velvet or silk bonnet is the most suitable. In summer, a dress and cloak of plain mode-colored Lavella cloth, or any other cool but strong fabric, with a simply trimmed straw bonnet, is the best dress for a shopping excursion. 

Under Conduct on the Street:
What are you doing? Sucking the head of your parasol! Have you not breakfasted? Take that piece of ivory from your mouth! To suck it is unlady-like, and let me tell you, excessively unbecoming. Rosy lips and pearly teeth can be put to a better use. 

Under Miscellaneous:
Never affect a foolish reserve in a mixed company, keeping aloof from others as if in a state of mental abstraction. If your brain is so full and so busy that you cannot attend to the little civilities, cheerful chit-chat, and light amusements of society, keep out of it.  
Under Hints on Health:
With many young ladies, it appears to be a maxim to[267] do everything in their power to destroy the health which is so much wanted in the real business of life, and which forms so important a requisite to happiness. In the first place, as to hours—they never leave the ball-room until utterly exhausted, and scarcely fit to crawl to bed. The noon-day sleep, the scarcely touched breakfast, that most important meal, are followed by preparations for the succeeding night's pleasures, or in head-aching morning calls, driving about in a close carriage, or lounging on a sofa, in an over-heated room, reading novels.
Dressing follows; the warm wrapper or dress is thrown aside; over the tightly drawn corsets is fastened a flimsy dress, with an inch of sleeve; the neck laid bare; thin stockings drawn on, in place of thick ones, and the consumption-seeker goes forth to the ball-room again. 
And finally
Under Receipts:
Simple means of removing Tartar from the Teeth.—In these summer months, tartar may be effectually removed from the teeth, by partaking daily of strawberries. 

And I bet you thought research couldn't be fun!
Now, I'm off to read this book more closely!

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Beware the Little White Rabbit -- animated cover!

I can't believe it's been 12 days since someone posted here. I have to get more bloggers on board! But until then, dear readers, I have a little treat.

I had a story accepted to the Leap Book's anthology, BEWARE THE LITTLE WHITE RABBIT, celebrating the 150th anniversary of ALICE'S ADVENTURES IN WONDERLAND. It will be out April 14th!

As  a little fun bonus, I have an animated version of the awesome cover! Enjoy!


Be sure to add the book to your Goodreads TBR list! 

Friday, January 30, 2015

Preparing for Conventions

February is the start of convention season for me. January is when I start scheduling flights and making hotel reservations for upcoming conventions. And restocking promotional items such as pens, post cards and bookmarks for the freebie tables at conventions. I'm with a small press, so, unlike authors with a traditional big press, I can't count on book dealers at conventions having my books at their tables. That means I have to bring my books with me for book sellers in the dealers room to sell on consignment. So January is when I restock my book inventory as well.

If I'm lucky (and the convention is well organized), by late January I might begin to get panel topics for the February and March conventions and can start to prepare for panel discussions. For some topics I know those well enough and know the other panelists well enough that preparation is just a matter of having a few talking points to bring up and discuss. I've learned to have those written down beforehand so I don't suddenly draw a blank in mid-discussion and/or forget one. For other topics I might have a list (especially those panels on trends in YA or new titles/authors to know about). One of the advantages (or disadvantages) of being a librarian in my other job is that it's very easy for me to research a topic and come up with a useful list. Sometimes the list is long enough to be a handout that I can pass out to interested people at the end of the panel.

If I'll be doing any readings of my works at a convention, I usually decide on which pieces to read once I know how much time I'll have. Sometimes I'll be reading by myself, but other times I'll be part of a group reading, usually a Broad Universe Rapid Fire Reading. I'll usually practice the reading a week or so before the convention to know if it will fit the time period and to spot where I might trip over a phrase.

How does one find a science fiction convention? There used to be several lists of conventions, both online and in science fiction magazines such as Analog and Asimov's. Those lists have slowly disappeared. My friend Lin Daniel has begun one at http://www.lindaniel.com/conventioncalendar/. You can leave it at all genre, or it can be broken down to categories like anime, filk, sf, or combinations of several genre.

There are other posts at this blog (several by Gloria Oliver) as to what can be seen at a convention and why authors should consider attending. Here's Gloria's top 5 reasons. Promotion is one good reason. Networking with other authors, as well as editors and publishers, is another. I usually find at least one or two panels that I'm quite happy to be in the audience and learn something new.

Do you attend conventions? What preparations do you make?

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

DON'T GET IN A HURRY

The title seems to be my life, my writing life anyway.

How long does it usually take you from the start of a new story to finishing to submitting and seeing it published? I realize some work will take longer than others, depending on the length, research, and so on.

I've been fortunate to have two MG stories published in the past four months. It's been a long journey for both of them however. I checked to see just how long and couldn't believe it. The novel published in September, 2014, was started in 2005. That's ten years ago. It was accepted by a publisher in 2007, I believe, and boy was I excited. I filled out all the information, the blurb for jacket cover and other things, and waited. And waited. And waited. And ... the publisher went out of business.

My fault. I should not have waited four years before doing something. But I really liked the publisher. They turned out lovely books. I wouldn't wait like that again. Yeah, right. I put the manuscript away and worked on other stories. Some were published.  I don't know why, but one day I pulled my old story out of the files. I still liked it, so I tried again. And ... it's now published, with a new title. It only took ten years.
4RV Publishing
 
I said I'd never wait that long again, but I did. A different publisher held my MG historical fiction for four years. I finally asked for the contract back. A Family for Leona will be published by 4RV Publishing this year, no date yet. The illustrator is working on the cover now.
 
There's one more. Yeah, I waited. On January 6, 2015, my MG contemporary, I Live in a Doghouse was published by MuseItUp Publishing. The same publisher that had my historical under contract also had this one under contract for four years too. I asked for that one back. And here it is.
I


I have no one to blame but myself. I have learned a lesson though. I need to have more confidence in  my work. It shouldn't lie on a desk or a shelf and be ignored. I won't get in a hurry, but I no longer will wait an unreasonable length of time. My characters get antsy. So do I.

Happy Reading!

Monday, January 26, 2015

Cover teaser-- A CURSE OF ASH AND IRON

It's nearly here! 

The cover reveal for A CURSE OF ASH AND IRON is tomorrow!!!! After everything I've been through with this book, I am relieved to finally have a cover. And, people, it is AWESOME.

The reveal will be Tuesday, Jan. 27 on YA Books Central's blog, at noon EST. There you will also find a giveaway-- enter to win one of THREE posters of the cover art, signed by me! 

One hour later, the cover will go live on my own blog and about 20 other blogs owned by people who signed up to help with the reveal. 

Meanwhile, I have a little teaser for you all. Just a bit of the cover to whet your appetite. Ready?


That's all you get until tomorrow! Be sure to check my blog and YA Books Central and look around the web for the WHOLE picture!