Monday, April 21, 2014

In search of sun, warmth, and birds

Hubby got tired of pretending our living room was the Caribbean on sunny days with his eyes closed. Because Son1 was also pressing for a trip to south Texas to see birds and tree species that are found nowhere else in the U.S., we took a some-what unplanned, spur-of-the-moment trip down to Big Bend National Park and back.

We actually took a whole bunch of pictures (anyone who knows us would be shocked), about .4% of them included us (that's less than 1%; notice the decimal). :) Click on the photos to view a larger version. 
In LA, but still cold!
Ah, there we go...warm enough to go without a jacket at last (in TX).
Common Gallinules among the American Coots.
Tricolored Heron
It's not as lonely with two. (Black-necked Stilts)
Quoth the Boat-tailed Grackle, "nevermore."
One of these things (Northern Shoveler) is not like the others (Lesser Yellowlegs).
Killdeer always look so worried about something. I think I'm a Killdeer in disguise.
Birds not of a feather also flock together. (Roseate Spoonbill with a Snowy Egret)
Loggerhead Shrike
All by myself...Pied-billed Grebe.
Definitely not a bird.
I just love saying "Crested Caracara." It makes me giggle.
Vermilion Flycatchers are as pretty as Northern Cardinals and more fun to watch.
Black-chinned Hummingbird
Javelina on the run.
Common Black-hawks aren't all that common.
Canyon Wren
Hooded Oriole (stalked by a Black-throated Sparrow in the back)
Eastern Curve-billed Thrasher
Scissor-tailed Flycatchers are now hubby's favorite bird...sorry, Shrikes.
Harris's Hawk
Green Jay
Altimira Orioles (the immature one is on the left)
Long-billed Thrasher
Great Kiskadee, looking...great.
Plain Chachalaca, dinosaur in disguise (with a fun-to-say name too).
Ruddy Turnstones are masters of disguise.
Black-bellied Plover
American're unique, just like everyone else.
White Ibis, big honker
Sunshine in San Antonio.
At Seminole Canyon State Historic Park
Mesa Grande at Big Bend National Park
Claret Cup Cacti in bloom
Hiking the trails at Big Bend National Park.
More hiking at Big Bend
Boquillas Canyon at Big Bend...Mexico is just a stone's throw away!
We liked Seminole Canyon so much, we stopped by again on the way back from Big Bend.
From the petroglyphs overhang at Seminole Canyon
Prickly Pear Cactus, or nopal
Laughing Gulls, all in a row, more of less.
Hope you're feeling the warmth with us and that all the snow some of you got last week is gone!

"I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I needed to be." ~ Douglas Adams

Monday, April 14, 2014

To edit or not to edit? Definitely to edit.

Many of us are not gifted with the innate propensity for perfect grammar and spelling (Universal Grammar, indeed, Professor Chomsky!), but yet need to have good grammar in order to do our jobs.

Luckily, there are talented editors like Beth Stilborn who provide a much needed service for those who are grammatically-challenged. I highly recommend hiring Beth to help polish your manuscript or whatever other writing ails you. Check out her service (click on the photos to bring up a larger image)'ll be glad you did!

Next Monday, internet gods willing, I'll post photos of our recent road trip to Big Bend National Park. Come back for some virtual sunshine!

"I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I needed to be." ~ Douglas Adams

Monday, April 07, 2014

My Favorite Scene - an entire book

We're (the whole family) watching a DVD lecture series called "The Human Body: Introduction to Anatomy and Physiology" from The Great Courses. It's been 30 years since I took biology at university and it wasn't like we covered the human body in detail, so I'm enjoying learning about this topic, as is the rest of the family.

While watching it, the section on the nervous system reminded me of a course I'd taken back at U called, I think, "Brain and Behavior." The textbook for the course was one of my favorites, and I'm going to share that with you today.
What was your favorite class in school (high school, university, college, etc.)?

"I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I needed to be." ~ Douglas Adams

Monday, March 31, 2014

A rare blog hop post

I almost never play along for blog tags and blog hops. Really. I even shunned my poor sister's award tag. But this one seemed easy enough to do, so I'll give it a go.

I was tagged by a sweet, online writing friend, Catherine Johnson, who has published two poetry books, Weirdo Zoo and The Everglades.

The theme is "my writing process," which I've never really thought too much about. I suppose I worry that it'd be like the joke with the centipede. The centipede was ambling along, minding its own business. A butterfly asked him, "how on earth do you manage to walk properly with all those feet?" The centipede thought about this question...and was never able to walk again. 

I'm afraid that if I over-analyzed my writing process, I'll never be able to write again. Joking! Well, only sort of.

But anyway, here we go.

1. What am I working on?

Right now, I'm working on about 10 different picture book drafts in varying stages of revision and completion, going through some final edits on a middle-grade SF novel, and starting a YA steampunk novel that I'm rather excited about.

I'm also working on a number of adult science fiction stories to be included in The Minnows Literary Group's next few anthologies. 100% of the proceeds from these anthologies are donated to Doctors Without Borders. The first volume was Out of Time, and the second volume was In a Land Far Away.
Upcoming volumes will be Centauri Station (stories about space travel), and another one on time travel again, due to popular request.

2. How does my work differ from others of its genre?

Aside from having a voice that is uniquely my own, as every writer does, I tend to weave science facts into my work. In the adult pieces that I write, I sometimes make people work a little bit to "get" the story. For example, in In a Land Far Away, some of the things I mention in "Three Long Pigs" will make the story much richer if you looked them up.

I try not to write stories that are considered beach books. I may never attain Danielle Steele status with this philosophy, but I'm proud of my writing that involve a lot of research.

3. Why do I write what I do?

I write children's literature because I never stopped reading children's books even after growing out of childhood. A lot of what I read, whether children or adult books, tend to be science fiction or fantasy (I include fairy tales and folklore in this category) and science/nonfiction. So it's only natural that I should gravitate to those categories and genres when I write stories.

4. How does my writing process work?

Um, does it seem like it's working? If it were working, I'd have the fame and productivity of Stephen King. ;)

I try to write, on and off, a couple of hours a day, and revise for a couple more. I get interrupted a lot by household chores and homeschooling stuff. Inspired by my amazing science fiction critique group buddy, Russell James, I was getting up an hour or two earlier than my family last year so I could have quiet time to write, but when it got really cold in the winter, I stopped doing that because I can't type when my fingers are freezing (we keep the house pretty cold at night). Now that it's warming up again, I will have to get back on that schedule.

Thanks again, Catherine, and I hope I haven't bored you all to tears too much.

Per usual, I don't tag people, but if you feel like playing along, please let me know and I'll come read your post!

"I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I needed to be." ~ Douglas Adams

Monday, March 24, 2014

Northern Mockingbirds, the crazed clowns of the bird world

I have a very short post this week especially for my friend, Sheralyn Barnes (a.k.a. illustrator and musician extraordinaire) due to our Facebook conversation about mockingbirds. :)
 Anyone else thinking of Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds? Have you ever been dive-bombed by mockingbirds for getting too close to their nests?

"I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I needed to be." ~ Douglas Adams

Monday, March 17, 2014

Eggs, eggs, and more eggs

**Thanks to Yvonne for making me realize I spelled "yolk" wrong. In my defense, I had a loooong day out yesterday and found out at the end of the day that I never did finish writing my post and schedule it (I'd uploaded the photos and totally forgot about the post...genius), so I rushed to post it. Things are corrected now! How embarrassing. :)

We currently have 15 hens, the most we've ever had (well, 16 is the most we've ever had, but Brody was picked off by a hawk not too long ago).

Because our hens are a variety of mutts (even Ameraucanas are really "mutts"), the eggs they lay are nicely varied too, ranging from light pink to dark olive.
Not only do they have a range of colors, but they also have a range of sizes. Some measure longer than 3 inches!
Recently, we've had a couple of eggs that were not only long but also massive in girth. One is in the upper left of this photo:
We speculated that those eggs would be double-yolkers, and sure enough... See the middle egg in the pan:
In the 12 years we've owned chickens, we'd only gotten double-yolkers a couple of times. But within the past month, we've had 2 of them. Hmmm, methinks we have a mutant hen on our hands. Call Professor Xavier!

Have you had any double-yolked eggs lately?

"I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I needed to be." ~ Douglas Adams