Science Tuesday: All of January’s Science News

Ok, so Science Tuesday is coming to you on a Thursday because I couldn’t get into my blog for two days (I’m not sure why, but it’s letting me today, so I’m just going to shrug and go with it). I know we’re all VERY EXCITED (or bafflingly pissed off) about the car in space, but there’s a ton of other cool science stuff that’s been going on, so let’s get to it!

Ancient writings in mummy cases seen via new scanning technique

Snakes’ venom can be used to learn more about pain

Research projects focus on artificial ovaries to help cancer survivors conceive

Disoriented sea turtle hatchlings exhibit a lot of stamina

Pacific Northwest’s mountains may have been shaped with help from salmon

New egg for long-lived albatross Wisdom (Ok, someone needs to rewrite this headline because it’s worded so poorly, so here we go: Wisdom, a 67-year-old albatross, laid her 36th egg, which is pretty damn impressive)

Metalens uses nanofins to focus almost all of visible light spectrum

Jazz musicians’ improvisation gives their brains a creative edge

UK’s new AI system could help find heart, lung diseases sooner

Jellyfish collagen promising in wound treatment (Yes! I want to be part-jellyfish!)

Ancient baby’s DNA reveals previously unknown Native American ancestors

Massive bubbles observed on surface of distant red-giant star

Male Australian peacock spiders court females with abdominal rainbow

Bacteria genetically modified to create ultrasound-detectable noise

Ancient clay stamp found in Jerusalem hints at city’s government structure

Bleaching events in world’s coral reefs accelerating

Genes linked to exploration in birds may help them adapt to climate change

Bonobos seem to prefer hinderers over helpers

New prime number record holder more than 23M digits long

Mice treated with gene therapy see temporary relief from type 1 diabetes

Device may offer long-sought relief for tinnitus sufferers

Astronomers use new technique to spot alien planets

Adventure book fragments found in wreckage of Blackbeard’s ship

Story of Earth’s creation seen in ancient Mexico stone structure

Cooling drool may help blowflies regulate their temperatures (I LOVE Scientists. They want to know everything, including how flies keep cool in summer)

Debris from asteroid indicates impact in Southeast Asia

Fungus behind deadly white nose syndrome in bats sensitive to UV light

Hole in ozone layer is healing

Researchers learning how El Nino affects Antarctica’s melting ice shelves

Ancient shark species possibly megalodon ancestor

Scientists concerned about dolphins dying in Brazil

Longer brain rhythms could be seizure indicator

Ingestible capsule examines gastrointestinal system

Amazon home to rare hybrid bird species

Shipwrecks, lighthouse found off coast of Mexico

Huge endangered water lily pads bounce back in Paraguay

Working human muscle created using skin cells

Immune reactions may make CRISPR-Cas9 ineffective in humans

Self-healing muscle could be used in prostheses

New clues about fast radio bursts emerge

Dolphins seem to recognize themselves in mirrors at early age

Walruses, flying foxes prefer to keep their young on their left sides

Oldest butterfly-scale fossils found in Germany

Ointment shows promise in treating drug-resistant bacteria

Areas of subsurface water ice on Mars revealed by erosion

Distant supermassive black hole observed burping twice

Astronomers to use Hubble observations to learn about Europa water plumes

Fossils of 113-million-year-old dinosaur found in Australia

Study finds evidence that world’s freshwater is acidifying

Space travel can hurt astronauts’ eye nerves

Ancient desert farmers may have used Silk Road travelers’ irrigation advice

Banquet hall find reveals clues about ancient Moche civilization in Peru

Scientists identify new lemur species

Genome size may have played role in flowering plants’ global dominance

New model sheds light on eyes of hurricanes

Fleas, lice on humans, rather than rats, spread medieval plague (the rats have been absolved of blame!)

161-million-year-old dinosaur boasted iridescent plumage

Illegal pot farms may be exposing Calif. owls to rat poison, researchers say

Private genetic testing for potential baby characteristics raises concerns

Creative thinking driven by key brain connections

Speed of stars at Milky Way’s center may help answer questions about bulge

Salmonella likely caused mystery 16th-century epidemic

Scientists chase elusive measurement of universe’s expansion speed

Scythian royals may be interred at ancient Siberian burial site

Tomb of Tut’s wife may be hidden in Egypt’s Valley of the Kings

Necropsy shows how dolphin was suffocated by octopus it was trying to eat

Gene encodes virus-like protein to transfer information between neurons

Prostate cancer’s spread may be spurred by high-fat diet

Small version of gamma ray burst created in lab

Pair of flooded cave systems join to create world’s largest underwater cavern

Images of DNA in action may lead to new cancer drugs

Periodic table created for 2D metals

Fluorescing bones discovered in chameleons

Environmental factors may have triggered antelopes’ mass die-off

NASA, NOAA scientists put 2017 in top 3 of world’s hottest years

Genetically modified yeasts engineered to not breed with natural plants

Distant stars may help spacecraft navigate in deep space

Hunter-gatherers can identify smells better

New swift moving robotic arm is composed of DNA

Changing weather in Arctic may threaten musk oxen

Researchers exploring use of self-healing fungi in concrete

Ancient Viking comb could hold clues to language evolution

Team works to re-create face of ancient woman (she looks familiar…)

Ancient underwater volcanoes revealed in 3D seismic reflection-produced map

Global sea level may be feature of Saturn moon Titan

West Nile virus lingers longer in sparrows exposed to light pollution

Microplastics pollution found on Scottish archipelago’s beaches

8 types of cancer found with CancerSeek (this is amazing! It can even detect cancers that currently have no screening test)

508-million-year-old worm fossil discovered

Eliminating dark matter DNA could solve scientific puzzle

Dust storms causing loss of water on Mars

Pair of research teams create ultra-thin mirrors with excitons

Rare blind golden-line barbel fish discovered in Chinese cavern

Device uses metamaterial to carry sound from underwater to air

Stars with extra lithium baffle astronomers

“Hot Jupiter” exoplanet’s winds blow in unusual direction

Scientists debate existence of pheromones

Scientists express concern that CWD will jump the gap from deer to people (cooking doesn’t destroy the prion)

Researchers clone monkeys for first time

Scientists rebuild rare mummified woolly rhino

Shape of human brains got more rounded over time

Battle between Irish fighters, Vikings described in medieval text

Researchers encouraged to look beyond oxygen for signs of alien life. “What’s exciting is that our suggestion is doable and may lead to the historic discovery of an extraterrestrial biosphere in the not-too-distant future,” said David Catling, a co-author of the study. (ALIENS YOU GUYS)

Distant dwarf planet Haumea boasts a super-fast spin

Ancient jawbone suggests earlier exit from Africa for modern humans

Plastics found on one-third of Asia-Pacific’s coral reefs

New population of rare red handfish found off Tasmania coast

Study finds hepatitis C drug sofosbuvir effectively treats Zika infections

Canadian study to use repurposed cancer drugs to treat cerebral malaria

Crystals within volcanoes may aid in eruption predictions

Storms may be exacerbated by airborne pollution particles

South Africa researchers concerned about city’s worsening water crisis

Book outlines benefits of swearing (Fuck Yeah!)

Milky Way’s dark matter could be forming in smaller clumps

Site of ancient temple found in China

Poor childhood sleep may increase obesity, cancer risk later

Food scientist to develop hypoallergenic peanut with $275,000 in grants

Rare dinosaur fossil uncovered in Egypt

Cats’ paw preference likely determined by sex

Birds conjure image of predator when they hear certain sounds

Small device used for human-genome sequencing

Proteins help cells pack chromosomes prior to division

Living in bat-filled caves may be spurring change of species in crocodiles

Killer whale displays ability to mimic human sounds (now get them out of the tiny pools and back into the wild, yes?)

Archaeopteryx fossil may be oldest of its kind ever found

New temperate conifer species found on Korean island

Rare super blue blood moon occurs

Brain-stimulation device may help slow progress of Alzheimer’s

Prenatal low-carb diet may increase neural tube defect risk, study finds


If you want to receive the same daily science emails I do, you can sign up for the Sigma Xi SmartBrief here.

Happy New Year (on day 10…)

Hi Aledan Merfolk *sheepishly waves* It’s been a while, yeah?

YAllFest Friends!

I have to admit, that compared to the first half of the year (baby niece, NYC, book contract, my mom’s new kidney), the second half of the year was not quite as exciting, with the huge exceptions of Nebo Retreat and YAllFest (any time a bunch of authors get together it’s exciting and memorable!). I met a bunch of new friends at YAllFest, and hung out with a bunch of old friends I only see once a year, so that weekend was a blast. The weekend before YAllFest, Hubs met his author idol, so November was a huge literary awesomeness month for us.

Most of October and November I spent working the late shift at the lab, so I listened to lots of books, but didn’t have the brain power for much else. I listened to and/or read AGE OF MYTH by Michael J Sullivan (CHOCK FULL OF AWESOME WOMEN), NOW I RISE by Kiersten White (oh Radu, I just want to give him a hug), COMMUNICATION FAILURE by Joe Zieja (which I’ve now listened to three times because it’s hilarious), THE BOOK OF SWORDS Anthology, PARADOX BOUND by Peter Clines (I love Clines, and I will literally listen to anything Ray Porter narrates), THE LAST WISH by Andrzej Sapkowski (it’s the first Witcher book – Hubs is obsessed with the game and now the book series so I tried it), DEAR MARTIN by Nic Stone (this was the most intense book I’ve ever read, and written in such a strange, stand-offish way that I have no idea how she pulled the intensity off. It’s amazing), ARTEMIS by Andy Weir (even better than The Martian), A PLAGUE OF GIANTS by Kevin Hearne (I was worried I wouldn’t like this one, because it’s so different from The Iron Druid Chronicles, but I think it was my second favorite fantasy of the year, behind The Stone Sky), and STRANGE THE DREAMER by Liana Taylor (which left me with a lot of conflicting emotions that I haven’t untangled yet).

Now I’m re-listening to the Red Rising Trilogy by Pierce Brown and reading EMPRESS OF A THOUSAND SKIES by Rhoda Belleza (who I met at YAllFest and had nails to match her book!)

Whew. Told you I did nothing but read this fall! Well, read and play WoW. I got my fellow author and pony fanatic, Courtney Moulton, into my guild and we’ve been playing almost every night. I even started doing raids *gasp* My hunter’s a badass now (her name is Kindra, duh), and I finally learned how to play feral druid! My baby druid, Karigan, is blowing through Northrend *sniffles* They grow so fast *wipes away tear*

As for 2018, it started with a snowstorm that shut down Charleston for FOUR DAYS. So instead of a week off between Christmas and New Years, I ended up with a second week off as well…and a horrible cold from playing in the snow without proper winter boots (they don’t even sell proper winter boots here). My cold is finally abating, and I plan to be around the blog a lot more this year, especially since I’ll be posting interviews with my fellow 2018 debut authors! I also plan to get a newsletter started, to keep you all updated on Speak the Ocean’s journey to publication! This is going to be an exciting year of edit letters and cover reveals and book birthdays ^_^

Until then, I’m working on Regina, my revenge-murder sci-fi that’s so much fun!

Have a wonderful week, Aledans! I’ll see you all soon <3

Happy Autumn!

Happy Autumn, Aledan Merfolk! It’s been an entire season since I’ve seen you (although I’ve been on Twitter, obviously), so I thought I’d update you on what’s been happening here. Let’s go in backwards order!

Nebo Retreat!

Last weekend I went to Nebo, NC for a writing retreat on Lake James, and I wrote an entirely new first scene for Fie Eoin! My agent read the first two chapters last month and sent back notes, one of them being that the book starts too late and I needed a new first chapter to set up the current first chapter. So I went back to the first day Kindra tries to join the trainees and started there (I tried to go back to when her father died, but I just couldn’t make it work). I actually really like the new beginning, and I’m going to try to get another scene in there if I can. If I can’t I still think it works better than the current first chapter. Of course, now I have to edit the current first chapter again to delete the info you find out in the new first chapter. Wheee editing!

Two days before Nebo, Hurricane Irma hit. And while we didn’t get the brunt of the storm, it was still extremely windy and rainy, and three tornadoes touched down within a mile of our house – scary! We all made it through just fine (even the chickens) with only one large branch coming down and a small lake in the front yard. This weekend is devoted to cleaning up the small stick debris in the backyard. Fun.

I was able to see my new niece twice this summer, the first time when I went home to visit my momma on her birthday (and because she got a new kidney!), and then when my sister came down Charleston way to visit for a week. So here’s some baby pictures, because you can never have too many baby pictures:

And speaking of babies…we had a baby! A baby squirrel! ^_^ “Puppy” was only with us for a few days before he went to the vet to continue rehabbing, but Hops the dog was absolutely in love with her puppy, and I was pretty fond of him too. Still, cats and baby squirrels don’t mix.

And last but not least, I’ve read a ton in the past two months since I’ve seen you! Last I posted, I was reading CITY STAINED RED and I finished that on the boat last weekend (yes, there was a boat at the retreat!). It was REALLY GOOD. I especially liked page 470, when Asper the super pacifist kicks someone’s ass (he deserves it). I read that page four times.

I also read STILETTO by Daniel O’Malley, THE OBELISK GATE and THE STONE SKY by N.K Jemisin (Holy Carp you guys, this series was one of the best I’ve ever read!), the BOBIVERSE series by Dennis E. Taylor (super fun sci-fi that I just re-started listening to yesterday), THE GENTLEMAN’S GUIDE TO VICE AND VIRTUE by Mackenzi Lee, and AGENT TO THE STARS and REDSHIRTS by John Scalzi.

Finally, I’ll leave you with this thought from Speak the Ocean. Being an author is weird.

Have a wonderful weekend, Aledans, and a wonderful autumn! I’ll try to update more often this season 🙂


What a Wild Spring! (pic heavy)

Happy Friday, Aledan Merfolk! We’re a little over a week into summer, and I’ve barely posted any updates this year. I was silent for pretty much all of spring, with the giant exception of my publishing news, so I wanted to catch you up real quick.

Spring started with the birth of my niece, who I absolutely adore:


Hubs and I spent a week visiting her, her extremely tired parents, and Mt. Vernon, where we made a new friend:

It was a windy day!

And for two months everything went back to normal. I read/listened to a bunch of books: The Vicious Deep series by Zoraida Cordova (I’d already read this series, but re-read it this spring), A Conjuring of Light by V.E. Schwab, The Grace of Kings by Ken Liu (I liked it until the ending, which was just disappointing for me), Mechanical Failure by Joe Zieja (TWICE! I listened to the audiobook and it was so hilarious and I started it over and listened again!), The Paper Magician triology by Charlie Holmburg (Emery <3), The Seafarer’s Kiss by my agent-sister Julia Ember (f/f Little Mermaid/Vikings!), Finnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta (which quickly became my FAVORITE BOOK EVER! It’s so beautifully written and feminist af), Binti Home by Nnedi Okorafor, When Dimple Met Rishi by one of my real-life BFFs Sandhya Menon (the most adorable meet-cute you’ll ever read <3), The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin (if you haven’t heard of this one, well I just can’t help you), and Our Dark Duet also by V.E. Schwab (that last chapter, guys, oof).

Now I’m listening to Stiletto by Daniel O’Malley (sequel to The Rook, which I enjoyed), reading The City Stained Red by Sam Sykes in paperback, and Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor in ebook. Why yes, I do read multiple things at the same time.

For much of the spring I was also working on editing StO into a YA, but that’s no longer necessary because Reuts bought it as an adult book! I actually found out about it the day before I left for NYC, and you can read all about that here. If you haven’t already, you can add SPEAK THE OCEAN to your Goodreads TBR list!

And the next day I left for NYC! It was overwhelming and awesome and I can’t wait to go back! We saw The Colbert Report and Waitress (with Sara Bareilles <3), ate at Delmonicos, Lupa, Russ and Daughters, and this amazing, tiny, Trini place called Trinidad Golden Palace (it was actually my favorite food of the whole trip!). We also wandered around the city and met up with one of my CPs, Natasha Razi!

Right before the trip I dyed my hair bright magenta with blonde streaks. I wanted to look like my mermaid Erie (she’s on the Home page, if you’re curious)

And last but not least, my mom got her new kidney! I’m going to see her in July, and my niece will be there too, so I’m sure I’ll be back with another photo-heavy post 🙂 Until then it’s time to finish editing Fie Eoin before I get my StO edit letter! MY FIRST OFFICIAL EDIT LETTER FROM AN EDITOR!

Me being super excited on the subway after WAITRESS!

You Can Add SPEAK THE OCEAN to Goodreads!

Hello again, Aledan Merfolk! It’s a big week around here (if you missed yesterday’s post, StO is going to be PUBLISHED!), and shortly after the announcement yesterday, a Goodreads Librarian made a page for Speak the Ocean! Which means you can add it to your TBR and it’ll email you when it’s published!

Check it out here: SPEAK THE OCEAN

Speak the Ocean is going to be PUBLISHED!

Happy Wednesday, Aledan MERFOLK! I know it’s been a long time since I’ve posted, but I haven’t updated because I haven’t been able to talk about the most exciting thing: SPEAK THE OCEAN is going to be published by Reuts!


Haven’t heard of SPEAK THE OCEAN yet? Here’s the Publisher’s Marketplace announcement:

Mermaids and Margaritas for everyone!

I actually found out the day before we left for our NYC trip (I know I still haven’t posted pictures from the trip…I’ve been kind of overwhelmed). I finished my work a couple hours early, went to the bathroom, and BAM! A text from my agent asking me to call him. That’s right, friends, I found out I was going to be published in the bathroom (this is why I didn’t call you immediately, Eric) ^_^

The past few weeks have been a complete whirlwind, but I spoke with my editor and signed the contract on Monday!


Why yes, that is a MERPONY t-shirt that says “I couldn’t get anymore magical if I tried.”

I’ll have more details later, like publication dates and whatnot, so make sure you follow the blog, my Facebook Page, or Twitter to keep up to date!

I’m an Auntie!

Happy Friday, Aledan Merfolk! It’s been a long time since I’ve updated you, and if you follow me on Twitter you know why. There’s been a lot going on, but I’m here today to tell you about the best of it:

Meet my niece, Sophie!


I have never been a baby person, but I AM IN LOVE <3 We spent last weekend with her, and the only time I put her down was when Hubs begged to hold her instead (he is also in love).

Here, have some more pictures:

We also spent some time with college friends, toured the Smithsonians, and hung out with the animals at Mount Vernon, but tiny Sophie was by far the best part of the weekend and I miss her so much already <3

Now that we’re home, I’m back on the editing train! It’s been a month since I’ve done any really good writing stuff (I’ve mostly been reading in preparation for editing), so it’s nice to be back on the horse pony (dolphin?) 🙂

Have a wonderful weekend, Aledans. I’m going to spend mine Skyping with my sister and niece!

Custom of the Week: Firebrand

Happy Sunday, Aledan Merfolk! I haven’t been around much lately, and if you’ve been keeping up on Twitter you’ll know why. There’s been a lot going on! Some good things, other not so great things, and I’ll tell you all about it soon. But for now I have a lovely little custom pony to keep you busy until the next update 🙂

Firebrand Eventide, by Nazegoreng

A fluffy pony! I love the fetlocks, and the beautiful color scheme of this one. And she looks so fierce!

If you have a pony that you would like featured as a Custom of the Week, please email me:

Custom of the Week: Ariel the Merpony!

Happy Sunday, Aledan Merfolk! I discovered a wonderful artist last week who hand-makes fillies/ponies, including seaponies and merponies. I was trying all week to decide between three merponies/seaponies to feature when she posted none other than the most iconic mermaid/pony hybrid ever. That’s right, it’s ARIEL.

Ariel, by WhisperFillies

Can I even say enough good things about this custom? I cannot. I love every detail, right down to her seashell and matching hooves. And her hair! I usually prefer brushable hair, but it’s so perfectly mermaidy that I can’t help myself.

Ariel will be for sale soon, and you can keep an eye on WhisperFillies Facebook page for updates on sales (she’s also selling a bunch of sea/mer-ponies on her etsy page soon).

If you have a pony that you would like featured as a Custom of the Week, please email me:

Contest: THUG, Wintersong, and YAllFest Swag!

Happy Thursday, Aledan Merfolk! I’ve finally gotten over the cold-that-turned-into-the-flu, and realized that THUG comes out in less than a week! I pre-ordered it last summer, but then I received a signed arc at YAllFest (and it is just as good as everyone says it is!). So now I have a pre-order that I don’t need. I also have an arc of Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones and a bunch of YAllFest swag (including two more arcs: The You I’ve Never Known by Ellen Hopkins and The One Memory of Flora Banks by Emily Barr), which means it’s contest time!

 Enter to win THUG

Enter to win WINTERSONG

Enter to win YAllFest Swag

You can chose one, two, or all three contests to enter.

Three separate winners will be chosen.

U.S. only

Contest ends at midnight 2/28.

(The blog keeps flagging comments as spam – I’m checking regularly, so if it happens to you please give it a couple hours to appear)