Wednesday, April 13, 2011

What I Love About You Wednesday

Suzi McGowen

Suzi's a great gal who always has fun things to say on her blog. She's written some great books, including one called A Troll's Wife's Tale. How cool is that. 

Suzi has a great blog that mixes fun writing stuff, with personal tidbits that make her feel like a friend.

Thanks for checking out Suzi's blog.

 

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Zoosday Tuesday

Arctic Fox


Powder puff anyone?
The arctic fox is another animal that is beautifully adapted to life in the cold, cold north. The bushy tail, shorter nose, and small ears. Their fur is thick with a dense double coat, and they even have fur on the bottom of their feet. All these adaptations help them survive in the harsh cold of the Arctic Circle.


The blue represents the area where the Artic Fox lives
These little puff balls are opportunistic feeders. They eat small mammals such as lemmings, arctic hares, ringed seal pups, and eggs. They also eat any scraps left behind by polar bears.

My summer coat
During the summer, they grow a brown or grey coat, which they trade for a solid white coat when thick snow covers their territory.



Changing my coat

Arctic foxes form monogomous pairs that share the duties of raising and feeding the young. Litter size is typically from five -eight, but can be up to twenty-five (what! that's just crazy.) The kits stay with the parents for up to two years and may stay with the parents to help raise their younger siblings. When it's time to move on, the females head out while the males stay with the family. The kits are born brown, grey, or blue/grey, and turn white as winter approaches.

Babies at the Den
Arctic Foxes are doing well so far in the wild. They use all of their resources to survive. They are successful hunters, good parents, and ideally adapted to make their way in the harshest environment on earth. 

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

What I Love About You Wednesday

Meet Caz Williams

I was so glad to see Caz Williams back on the blogosphere when I returned from hiatus. She's from, check it out, Perth, Austrailia. Meeting bloggers from places like Perth just makes me want to pee my pants with excitement. (Not that you folks from the US don't make me want to tinkle, but seriously, I never thought I'd know someone from Perth, Austrailia.

And Caz is a writer who's in a similar place to me, so I can really relate to her. Last summer she visited the US and spent part of her time at the SCBWI Summer Conference in LA. (Society of Childrens Book Writers and Illustrators.) She shared so much of what she learned from that experience with her followers.

Check out Caz's blog to see everything she has to say about that wonderful and educational experience.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Zoosday Tuesday


Ringed Seal

I'm coming back to Zoosday Tuesday by picking up where we left off in February, in the Artic.

Isn't I cute?

These chubby little guys are the smallest of the seal species.  They get their name from the lighter colored rings on the dark grey or black background.

They are the main food source of polar bears, but before you feel too sorry for them,  keep in mind that they are super fast and sleek under the water. They stay close to the water at all times, by either floating along on ice floes, or digging holes in the ice that they can slip into when a big white bear comes prowling around.

During the winter, when the ice freezes solid the ringed seals are able to dig out holes deep under ice that other seals can't reach. They use their sharp front claws to dig 5-8 holes that they pop out of every 15-30 minutes when they need air.  They blow bubbles out of the hole before surfacing in the hopes that a waiting polar bear will give away his position.


Hope there aren't any polar bears around


They pack on the pounds by eating up to 62 different types of fish and shrimp.

whoops I'm not a ringed seal, but I do have blubber
Anyway they need the extra weight they pack on to get through the molting season. Every May and June ringed seals shed all of their fur and skin so they can grow a new coat.  During this time, they don't eat because they can't go in the water without thier protective coats.  Pupping females add two months to their fast because they don't eat or swim while their nursing their pups.  But pups are weaned after only two months and after four months they are able to fend for themselves.

Ringed seal pups are born with a white coat
They molt this first coat during their first months of life to be replaced by the grey rings.






I is molting, yuck!

These speedy little seals spend most of their life in the water; swimming, fishing, and breeding. They manage to evade their arch enemy the polar bears more times than not.

Monday, April 4, 2011

What I Learned on Hiatus aka I'm Better With You

Better With You

I decided to take a blog hiatus from the end of February - March. I needed to make some major progress on my new WIP, and felt that if I took some time off from blogging, I'd be able to focus on writing. So how did that work out? Not so hot!

I did manage to get around 5000 words written during the month, but considering I wrote 45,000 words during November while blogging, I was less than pleased.

What I found out was that even though blogging takes up time, I'm better with you.

When I'm blogging:
1) Writing is front and center every day. I'm hearing about your writing projects, and it motivates and inspires me to work on my own.
2) I'm part of a great group of people, who all share my goals and keep me motivated.
3) I'm able to chase away the "I'm never going to be a writer" self-doubt that plagues me. I hear about your successes and failures and realize that I'm not alone.
4) I'm getting new ideas and tips on ways to improve my own writing.
5) I'm avoiding other distractions, like the "Game of Thrones" obsession I picked up while on hiatus. (I really did not need to get hooked on new book series. But hey, I only have about 4000 more pages to read!)

So I'm going back to blogging three days a week. I'm going to pick up where I left off on Zoosday Tuesday, Why I Love You Wednesday, and Foenteic Friday. I'm going to focus on moderation and balance between writing, reading, and blogging.

I look forward to seeing all of you soon.

Monday, February 21, 2011

We Interrupt This Blog

I made an important decision last week. As much as I love my current WIP, I don't think I can sell it. But I have an idea for a MS that I think will be great. So to stay on track for my goals for this year, I need to put in some really focused time on my new idea. So I'll be taking a break from blogging through the end of March.

I'll miss all of you, but I plan to use my time well, and be back either April 1st, or mid-April.

Have a good month.

Melissa

Friday, February 18, 2011

Fixtureless Friday

"Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away."



- Antoine de Saint Exupery

Someone e-mailed me this quote today, and it's perfect for what I want to post about.
 
(I'm taking a break from foenetic friday again.)
 
I've always read that as a writer we shouldn't be afraid to "kill our darlings." And I totally agreed with that. My philosophy is that a great book is XX,000 perfect words, in the perfect order, with nothing added and nothing left out. So when people asked if I would be willing to "kill my darlings," I said, "sure, if they aren't part of the XX,000 perfect words, they've got to  go.
 
I never had any real darlings, but what I did find was a scene that had become a "fixture." You know, that ugly light fixture that you've just gotten used too. The one you don't even notice anymore, until the realator asks, "Are you going to replace that before we list the house?"
 
I finished reading the great book "Save the Cat," and after reading it, went through one of my older manuscripts. I found a glaring "fixture," a scene that wasn't terrible, but it was just sitting there taking up space. It was one of the few scenes that hadn't changed much from the earliest version. It just stuck around, doing less and less as the rest of the manuscript changed. Even after multiple revisions, it was the scene that I always just skimmed, not really looking too closely at it. After reading "Save the Cat" it was so clear that the scene was unneccesary. I had no trouble relegating it to the delete file. I'm just sorry it took me so long to recognize it as a "fixture."
 
So what about you, have you ever found a scene that has become a "fixture?"

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

What I Love About You Wednesday

P V Lundqvist was another one of my early followers. He's the author of the hillarious "It's Not Just For Breakfast Anymore." It's a Middle Grade story about a boy who gets a pet pig, instead of a dog or cat. It's right at the top of my too read list, and it looks great.

He has a wife and three darling kids, one of which is a two year old red-head. Can you get any cuter than that I ask you?

As always I want to thank PV and all my followers.

Not Just For Breakfast Anymore

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Zoosday Tuesday

***All opinions expressed on this blog are mine exclusively and are not endorsed by the Kansas City Zoo.

AP Polar Bears Concern
POLAR BEAR
Polar Bear- Ursus maritimus is the worlds largest land carnivore. Male polar bears can weigh up to 1300lbs, but females are only half that size.

Polar Bear Range
The polar bear lives exclusively in the Artic (which means with bear.) Polar Bears do not live in the Antartic (without bear). That means that polar bears and penguins could never be friends, because they live on opposite poles. (besides polar bears would eat a blubbery penguin in a second if they could catch them.)


Mother With Two Cubs
Polar bears are solitary in the wild, they only come together to mate, or occasionally when they are isolated in small areas during summer months when the ice has melted. The other time when they spend time in groups is a mother with her cubs. The mother ususally has one - three cubs. Singletons are becoming more and more common as food/ice becomes more scarce. The cubs are born in November in a den that the mother scrapes out of the snow and ice. The cubs weigh less than 2 pounds at birth, but they grow fast on the mothers rich milk. In February - April they all leave the den. Mom finally gets to eat again after 3-5 months of fasting and feeding her young. Unfortunately she only has a few short months to rebuild her fat stores before the sea ice dissappears and she has to fast again.
The black tongue and nose match all his skin under his fur
The polar bear is well adapted to life in the artic. They have four inches of blubber covered by black skin which absorbs any available sunlight. They also have hollow guard hairs that appear white, but are actually clear. The guard hairs do not conduct sunlight, but they trap warm air radiating off the bear and help conserve energy. Polar bears are far more likely to overheat than they are to freeze.

A dinner plate covered in tire tread

They are also well adapted to walking across ice. The feet of a male polar bear can be 12" in diameter (about the size of a dinner plate). The bottoms of their paw have black pads which are covered with papillae, tiny bumps that act like the tread on a snow tire. They also have thick fur that gives them excellent traction. This makes it possible for them to creep along the ice to sneak up on a ringed seal. Two inch long claws top off these formidable paws and can be used for traction, to dig in thick ice, and to kill or disable prey. The broad paws also act like paddles to help the "sea bear" swim through artic waters.

See full size image
The nose knows
The polar bears eye site is good, and his hearing is equal to a humans, but his nose puts a humans nose, and even a dogs in the... dust snow. The polar bear can smell a seal from a mile away under three feet of ice. They can smell a dead whale or wallrus on the ice from 20 miles away. ( Manhattan Island is only 13.4 miles long!) Their nose is attached to a long narrow head and neck that's good for swooping into seal's breathing holes, and makes them an aerodynamic swimmer.

Ice Bears
Polar bears depend on thick pack ice to hunt. The thick blubber and fur that keeps them warm, also makes them overheat when they try to chase prey over land for long distances. Even the sea bear can't swim fast enough or deep enough to catch a seal or fish in the water. The only way for them to get a meal is to hunt from the ice.

Ringed Seal Just Under the Ice
Seals spend the icy months swimming from air hole to air hole in the pack ice. When they have to haul out, they dig caves and tunnels in the ice. They are never far from a hole in the ice that they can slip into and disappear.   On land they're essentially a darling little tub of lard with flippers, but in the water they're like Michael Phelps.

Seal Comes Up For Air
Bear Waits Patiently for Seal to Surface

During the summer months when there is no ice, the bears can't hunt for seals. They have to be fat enough to survive until the ice returns. The ice has started to form later and melt earlier every year. This means that polar bears have less time to feed and more and more bears are dying of starvation. Mother polar bears are having more and more single births due to food shortages.

for more information on Polar Bears, check out the Polar Bears International Web Site.

Here's the video I took of our polar bear, Nikita at the Kansas City Zoo. He's a four year old bundle of energy, who already weighs 830lbs. He'll keep growing for another two years or more. He loves to swim up to the visitors at the window and push off.

video

Friday, February 11, 2011

Fonetic Friday: Word of the Day

I'm bored with Fonetic Friday so I decided to do something different today.

For some reason I just can't seem to get New Orleans out of my head lately. I dream of being able to pack up my stuff every winter and move down there for January and February. I've even started looking at houses for sale, (even though I can't in anyway shape or form afford it, let alone get off work for two months every year.)

So what about you? Do you dream of having a house in a warmer climate during the winter, if so where? Do you already have one? What about people in other countries, Do people have winter homes/summer homes? What are the "hot spots"?

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

What I Love about You Wednesday

Happy Wednesday. It's my pleasure to introduce you all to one of earliest followers, Sharon Kirk Clifton

This lovely lady is from Indiana. Not only is she a writer, she's also a storyteller. This is a skill that I'd love to develop myself, so I'm always interested in the art of oral interpretations of literature.

She's written two middle-grade novels, and teaches eight graders. I always tip my hat to teachers, they're the foundation of our society.

She infuses her blog with her love for Christ, writing, storytelling, kids, and Indiana.

Thank you Sharon for being a follower. Check out her blog here.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Zoosday Tuesday

My planned Zoosday Tuesday post is going to have to be postponed until next Tuesday. I'm having technical difficulties with my computer. I went to the zoo and got some great video of our polar bear, I'm going to get it transferred to my computer and get it posted for next week.

Thanks for visiting. Stop back next Tuesday for a post about polar bears.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Fonetic Friday: Word of the Day

Hey, you know those cool words they make you type when you comment on a blog, the ones that prevent spammers from commenting? If they were real words, what would they mean? See if you can come up with a definition and use it in a sentence.


Today’s word is: Herymor

This is a fabulous new hair replacement product. You just cover the desired area with the thick foam substance, let it dry, and within 24 hours you will have 5 inches of new hair growth.

I accidentally put my husbands herymor on my legs, now I have to french braid my leg hairs.

Have fun! HAPPY FRIDAY!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

What I Love About You Wednesday

Happy Wednesday!

I'm sending Love to Lynda R Young whose blog WIP It is totally amazing. Lynda is a marvelous woman from down under! I was so excited that one of my very first followers was from Sydney Austrailia! It's so cool to me that someone in Kansas has a blogging buddy in Austrailia. (And now I have several).

Anyway, Lynda is a fabulous writer, but also an artist and photographer. Check out her blog, not only does she always have great advice, she also takes great pictures and posts them. Read
her story, I know you'll find you have a lot in common with Lynda.

So check out Lynda's blog if you haven't already. And Thank You Lynda for being a follower.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Zoosday Tuesday

***Any opinions expressed on this blog are mine alone, and do not reflect the opinions of the Kansas City Zoo.***

MALAYAN SUN BEAR

I decided to do one last animal from Indonesia before moving to a different region of the world. The Malayan Sun Bear is the smallest of the eight bear species, with males weighing up to 140lbs. and females around 120lbs. They lie mainly in the Maylay peninsula, and the Indonesian islands of Sumatra and Borneo, but there are some small pockets of Sun Bears as far away as India.

Sun Shaped Crest on Chest
The Sun Bear gets it's name from the white or golden sun shaped crest on it's chest. These can vary in size and shape. They also have golden coloring around their eyes and muzzle.

See full size image
Check out that tongue
Like all bears the sun bear's sense of smell is very powerful, but this bear also has a very impressive tongue. They use their super long tongue to scoop tasty food like termites and larve out of trees. But they also use it to lap up their favorite food, HONEY. They are also known as the Honey Bear.

File:Sunbearskull.jpg
Oversized Canines


See full size image
Sickle-shaped claws
The sun bear uses his claws to dig into trees and fallen logs to extract insects and honey. They also eat fruit, leaves, and small animals like lizards and amphibians. The sickle shaped claws and over sized canines of the sun bear make them a formidable opponent for even the largest predators like tigers. They also have loose skin around their neck and upper back that make it possible for them to turn, even in the clutches of a predator and strike with their teeth and claws.

I'm sure you won't be surprised to find that these bears number one predator is man. They have have all of the same issues that plague the other Indonesian animals we've discussed, namely habitat destruction. But like the tiger, these bears are also hunted for body parts used in ancient Chinese medecine. Namely the bile, from the gall bladder of bears is believed to have medicinal properties, used to treat rheumatism.

Mother cradling baby
Sun bears don't hibernate like their cousins to the north, so they can reproduce at any time of the year. (Although they're difficult to study in the wild, there is some evidence that they may be monogomous, but the father is not involved in rearing the cubs.) The mother gives birth to one to two cubs after a 3 month gestation. The cubs weigh just under a pound at birth, and are blind and hairless. Within 3 months they are able to follow their mom around. Unlike most bears, the sun bear has been known to carry her cub by cradling it in her arms and walking upright.

Sun bears are primarily nocturnal and like to spend their nights foraging in trees. During the day, the spend most of their time sleeping in the trees.

Sun Bear Cub

Friday, January 28, 2011

Fonetic Friday: Word of the Day

Fonetic Friday: Word of the Day


Hey, you know those cool words they make you type when you comment on a blog, the ones that prevent spammers from commenting? If they were real words, what would they mean? See if you can come up with a definition and use it in a sentence.


Today’s word is: Scrulty

This is how I've been feeling all week, rather scrulty,  Sick, Crummy, and that's about the best I can do for today. But it's Friday, so hey, what's the worst that can happen?

HAVE FUN! AND HAPPY FRIDAY?

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

What I Love About You Wednesday

My new feature for 2011 is called "What I Love About You Wednesday". Each and every one of my followers has added something unique and wonderful to my life, and I want to reach out to each of you and share what I love about you and your blogs.


My plan is to go in order starting with my very first followers, and each week, highlight someone new. If you're a follower of my blog but haven't been blogging for a while, I'm going to wait until you get back into it. If for some reason you are following my blog, but I'm not following yours, please let me know. I tried to make sure I was reciprocating, but there were a few people I couldn't find.

This week I'm sending LOVE to Jody Hedlund.

Jody's blog was one of the first I ever visited. Her debut novel, The Preacher's Bride, was published on 10/1/2010 .  She shared every step of the process she went through to get her debut on the shelves. She has amazing insight into the publishing industry, and a heart of gold.

If you haven't checked out Jody's blog, I encourage you to do so. I get something amazing out of every post. And that's why I love Jody.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Zoosday Tuesday

***The opinions expressed on this blog are mine alone and are not endorsed by the Kansas City Zoo***



PROBOSCIS MONKEY


This is another one of the amazing animals found exclusively in Indonesia, and only on the island of Borneo. Although their nose is the most prominent feature, take a look at this guys eyes. And how about that tummy.

No, I'm not pregnant





This is a fairly large species of monkey, with the males weighing 53 lbs and females about half their size. The females also have much smaller noses. The male's nose can be up to 7 inches long and are used to attract females and amplify warning calls through the forest.  (Yes, in the proboscis world size matters, the bigger the nose, the bigger the... harem for the male.) One male usually controls a harem of 2-6 females and their offspring. They live in social groups in the mango forests of Borneo.
A male and his harem


The babies are born much darker in color than the adults. They start out a blue/black color and gradually change to the rusty red color of the adults.

Baby Proboscis
The Indonesian people once called this monkey Orang Belanda which means The Dutchman, because the primates long nose and round belly reminded them of European colonists.

Toxic Leaves
The round belly of the proboscis monkey is a result of it's digestive system which consists of multiple chambers that contain various bacteria, allowing them to consume toxic leaves and other plants high in cellulose.
30" tail

They also have a long non-prehensile tail which is used mainly for balance. They are equally at home in the trees or in water, being able to swim long distances, as well as leap long distances in the trees.

But sadly even though they are a versatile species, they are severely endangered. There are only an estimated 1000 left in the wild. They are threatened by the same problems that plague other Indonesian species like Orangutans, Elephants, Rhinos, etc. Habitat loss due to the inefficient management of palm oil production is driving more and more species toward extinction. So look for Orangutan safe palm oil, and you'll be helping their cousins the proboscis monkey's too.


Friday, January 21, 2011

Fonetic Friday: Word of the Day

Fonetic Friday: Word of the Day


Hey, you know those cool words they make you type when you comment on a blog, the ones that prevent spammers from commenting? If they were real words, what would they mean? See if you can come up with a definition and use it in a sentence.

Today’s word is: biblifang

HAVE FUN! AND HAPPY FRIDAY?

Biblifang- The retractable set of canine teeth grown by people who want to suck the words out of a book.
 
The librarian caught me with my biblifangs exposed and almost threw me out of the library.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

What I Love About You Wednesday

My new feature for 2011 is called "What I Love About You Wednesday". Each and every one of my followers has added something unique and wonderful to my life, and I want to reach out to each of you and share what I love about you and your blogs.


My plan is to go in order starting with my very first followers, and each week, highlight someone new. If you're a follower of my blog but haven't been blogging for a while, I'm going to wait until you get back into it. If for some reason you are following my blog, but I'm not following yours, please let me know. I tried to make sure I was reciprocating, but there were a few people I couldn't find.

For this week I'm sharing the LOVE with:

ANGELA ACKERMAN

I was lucky enough to have Angela Ackerman as one of my very first followers. I was new to blogging at the time, and she became sort of a role model for me. Her blog The Bookshelf Muse is an amazing resource for writers.

She has several "Thesaurus" that she updates on a regular basis. The Emotion Thesaurus, The Setting Thesaurus , The Color Shape and Texture Thesaurus, The Symbolism Thesaurus.

These are just a few of the amazing resources on Angela's blog, which is also hosted by Becca Puglici.

So if you aren't one of their 1430+++ followers already, you need to be.

They are also have a great contest this week, so if you haven't already done so, check it out!

Thanks again Angela for being a great resource for writers.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Zoosday Tuesday

KOMODO DRAGON



See full size image
In Low Land Habitat
I admit that I'm more of a mammal person, than a reptile lover, but I thought it would be interesting to look at a famous reptile species from the Indonesian islands. The Komodo Dragon is native to only a handful of small Indonesian islands, Komodo, Rinca, Flores, and Gili Montag. They are the largest lizard and part of the monitor lizard family.


File:Komodo dragon distribution.gif
Komodo Dragon Distribution

People are fascinated by their large size, and fearsome reputation. They can grow up to 6 feet long, with a muscular tail capable of knocking down large deer, and claws several inches long that are used to defend itself as well as disabling prey.
Toxic Slober

Although they often feed on carrion, Komodo Dragon's have been known to ambush live animals, using teeth and claws to disable their prey. It was once believed that the Komodo Dragon's live prey died from infection delivered through the saliva, but it has recently been proven that although their saliva does contain numerous bacteria and pathogens, they also have venom glands which deliver a hemotoxin to the victim.

Using it's tongue to locate prey

They locate their prey by capturing scent particles on their tongue and passing them over the jacobsen's organ on the roof of their mouth. Using their tongue, they can "smell" prey up to six miles away. Luckily, like most reptiles they eat about 40% of their body weight at a time, but only eat about once per month. 
I think one of the most fascinating things about these animals is their reproduction. Unlike most reptiles, Komodo Dragons are capable of forming bonded pairs that mate for life. On the other hand, if no males are available, female dragons are able to use parthenogenesis to reproduce. This means that a female can produce eggs which can hatch, even without the presence of a male. In this case all of the offspring will be male.

See full size image
Hiding from Mom and Dad in the Trees

However, they're not the best parents. Although the mother incubates her clutch of 20 eggs for 6-7 months, when the infants hatch she allows them to fend for themselves. Young Komodo Dragons, make up about 10% of the diet of the adults. For this reason, the young spend most of their early years in the trees eating birds eggs, insects, and smaller lizards.

Emerging From the Egg

Monday, January 17, 2011

Keeping The Plates Spinning



I've been thinking a lot about how to keep all the plates in my life spinning, which one's to let fall, which ones to spin faster. I came to the conclusion that one plate I'm going to have to manage more effectively is my blogging life. I've let it get quite out of control; and while I maintain, that blogging actually helps me focus more on my writing, I also believe that I need to cut back.

So one plate I'm going to let fall is my Monday blog post about revision. I need to revise, not write a blog post about revising. From now on I'll be doing three posts per week Zoosday Tuesday, What I Love About You Wednesday, and Foenetic Friday.

On the days that I'm not posting, I will be working on other aspects of my writing, such as revising my newest WIP, preparing querys for my completed MS, reading books on the craft of writing, and researching my  next MS. I probably won't be reading any blogs on M, Th, Sat, Sun.  So I'll have to catch up on Tues, Wed, and Fri.

I hope to find more balance and make more progess this way. What about you, does anyone have any advice?

Friday, January 14, 2011

Fonetic Friday: Word of the Day

Fonetic Friday: Word of the Day


Hey, you know those cool words they make you type when you comment on a blog, the ones that prevent spammers from commenting? If they were real words, what would they mean? See if you can come up with a definition and use it in a sentence.

Today’s word is: Tyfero


HAVE FUN! AND HAPPY FRIDAY?

Tyfero: A new disease characterized by a dry hacking cough, high fever, and weeping eyes.

I came down with tyfero and coughed up a lung.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

What I Love About You Wednesday

My new feature for 2011 is called "What I Love About You Wednesday". As of today 1/9/11, I have 87 wonderful followers. Each and every one of you has added something unique and wonderful to my life, and I want to reach out to each of you and share what I love about you and your blogs.

My plan is to go in order starting with my very first followers, and each week, highlight someone new. If you're a follower of my blog but haven't blogging for a while, I'm going to wait until you get back into it. If for some reason you are following my blog, but I'm not following yours, please let me know. I tried to make sure I was reciprocating, but there were a few people I couldn't find.

So without further ado, I'll introduce my very first follower:

Lisa Maliga: Notes From Nadir She also has a blog for her new book Leaving Nadir.
Lisa started following me when I was a baby in the blogging world and didn't even know what a follower was. She is a writer who has the courage to put her work on the internet. And now she's followed up Notes From Nadir with Leaving Nadir.

Thank you Lisa for being my first follower. Stop by and check out her blog, I dare you not to get hooked.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Zoosday Tuesday

The Clouded Leopard
Bornean Clouded Leopard


Clouded Leopard

The Clouded Leopard and the Bornean Clouded Leopard are two distinct species of cat that live in Southeast Asia.  Until 2007 it was believed that the Bornean Clouded Leopard was a subspecies, but DNA testing has proven them to be distinct species.

Both species of clouded leopard live in the jungles of Southeast Asia and like their distant cousing the spotted leopard, they are highly arboreal.

They got the name "clouded" from the large cloud like elipses of black over a tawny coat. This provides excellent camophlage in the dense forest. They also have a tail that is as long as thier body which gives them excellent balance in the trees. They have been observed hanging upside down in trees, and can decend trees head first.

Clouded Leopards are solitary, nocturnal cats who only interact when breeding or rearing young.  Mother leopards give birth the 2-4 young who are blind and deaf at birth.

Clouded Leopards and Bornean Clouded Leopards are considered endangered in the wild. They are also fairly rare in zoos. But if you live near any one of the following zoos, you should be able to see these beautiful animals.







Monday, January 10, 2011

Melissa's Revision Mondays

As always, my revision tips are posted in the hopes that new or beginning writers will discover the tools they need to do a thorough revision of their work, before sending it to agents or publishers. I am far from an expert on the subject of revision, and am learning as I go through the process myself. I call upon my more experienced collegues to offer up their wisdom and tips.

This week, I've been working on organizing my manuscript. Being a died-in-the-wool pantser, I wrote 80,000 words, with only the barest outline to guide me. Now it's time to take what I wrote and try to make some sense out of it. To uncover those plot holes that need to be filled in. To address changes to plot, setting, and character that evolved as the story unfolded.

I turned to one of my favorite reference books to help me bring some sanity to my crazy manuscript. It's called "Thanks, But This Isn't For Us." By Jessica Page Morrell. In it she suggests creating a blueprint of your story. So I deconstructed my MS scene by scene and put together a blueprint, that I can use to illuminate stuctural issues that need to be addressed. I have a long way to go on this, but hope to have a solid blueprint by next week.
Product Details

http://www.amazon.com/Thanks-But-This-Isnt-Compassionate/dp/1585427217/ref=sr_1_5?ie=UTF8&qid=1294602017&sr=8-5

Another great post that addresses this issue is Elana Johnson's post from Friday which talks about where to start your book. She has some awesome things to share about revision, so if you haven't seen it, check it out.

Do you have any tips for creating organization and structure in you manuscript?

Friday, January 7, 2011

Fonetic Friday: Word of the Day

Hey, you know those cool words they make you type when you comment on a blog, the ones that prevent spammers from commenting? If they were real words, what would they mean? See if you can come up with a definition and use it in a sentence.


Today’s word is: Zable

HAVE FUN! AND HAPPY FRIDAY?
Zable: a new forest dwelling animal, found deep in the jungles of Africa. It was once believed to be a relative of the elusive Okapi, but is now thought to be the sterile offspring of zebra and sable antelope.

I'm sure you guys can do better than that.




 
 
 

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Zoosday Tuesday

***The opinions expressed on this blog are mine alone and are not endorsed by the Kansas City Zoo***


Asian Small Clawed Otter


I've always loved otters. They are fun and playful, they like to swim around  in the water and cavort on land. As their name suggests, these are the smallest of the otter species, and live in Southeast Asia. Unlike other otter species, their feet are only paritally webbed and they have...you guessed it small claws. Their claws don't extend past their fingers, making their front paws very dexterous.
See full size image

This picuture gives a very good illustration of the paws that give the animal its name. Their main food is molluscs, crabs, and other crustaceans. They use their dexterous front paws to break and pull apart their food.

Another thing I love about otters is their social nature and close family ties. This species of otter lives in family groups that include the ranking couple and several generations of offspring.

The ranking pair mate for life and ususally produce two litters of 1-6 cubs per year. The older siblings assist in raising the young pups.

When they're not hunting and eating they spend most of their time grooming their luxurious double coated fur. Because they spend so much time in the water, they have to keep their fur neatly groomed to retain its water-proofing. But at least these guys don't have to deal with the cold, like thier North American counterparts.

We have three young male Asian Small Clawed Otters at the KC Zoo. They share a inter-species exhibit with the gibbons. While the gibbons swing overhead, the otters swim and splash in their waterfall. They are all a lot of fun to watch.