Cover Reveal: CHAMELEON (The Domino Project #1), by K.T. Hanna

Happy Friday, Aledan Merfolk! I have an awesome cover reveal for you today, for the debut novel of my friend (and #writemotivation creator) K.T. Hanna. But first, let’s hear a little bit about the book, shall we?

Chameleon (The Domino Project #1) is a YA futuristic science fiction story. It’s set in the wasteland of earth after a meteor shower devastates landmasses, makes seas rise, introduces the psionic gene into the human race, damages the atmosphere, and gives the gift of an alien parasite to the world.

The goodreads blurb is as follows:

After Sai’s newly awoken psionic power accidentally destroys her apartment complex, she’s thrown into an intensive training program. The only grades are pass or die.

Surviving means proving her continued existence isn’t a mistake–a task her new mentor, Bastian, takes personally. Her abilities place her in the GNW Enforcer division, which partners her with Domino 12, who is eerily human for an alien-parasite and psionic hybrid. When her assassination duties are revealed, Sai understands the real reason for her training.

On a mission to dispatch a dangerous Exiled scientist, she uncovers truths she never thought possible. Sai is unsure who to trust as her next mission might be her last, and a double agent seems to be manipulating both sides.

Without further ado – here is the cover, by the amazingly talented S.P. McConnell.

It’s finally here

CHAMELEON Domino Project Front with Text 2

Isn’t it GORGEOUS!?!?!

Sit back and bask in this for a moment.

It’s available for preorder for a special price of $2.99 from

Amazon Link

About the Author


KT Hanna has a love for words so extreme, a single word can spark entire worlds.

Born in Australia, she met her husband in a computer game, moved to the U.S.A. and went into culture shock. Bonus? Not as many creatures specifically out to kill you.

When she’s not writing, she freelance edits for Chimera Editing, interns for a NYC Agency, and chases her daughter, husband, corgi, and cat. No, she doesn’t sleep. She is entirely powered by the number 2, caffeine, and beef jerky.

Note: Still searching for her Tardis


To celebrate, we’re giving away 2 x $10 Amazon e-gift cards (open to anyone who can receive and use an Amazon e-card) Just click on as many options as you like and enter!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Becka’s Big Adventure (Picture Heavy)

Happy Monday, Aledan Merfolk! It’s been a couple weeks since you’ve heard from me, first because I was training a new girl at work and was brain-dead by the time I got home, and second because I was on vacation! It was full of whitewater rafting, bookstores, a St. Vincent concert, backyard chickens, and the best part: my BFF Juliana!

JB1JB2Juliana and I (and our respective boys) had a great time eating lots of good food, drinking lots of good beer, and hanging out at lots of good bookstores, including Battery Park Book Exchange (which has a bar!) and Malaprops.

Drinking wine and reading books at Battery Park Book Exchange in Asheville
Drinking wine and reading books at Battery Park Book Exchange in Asheville

On Sunday, Hubs and I went whitewater rafting on the French Broad River, tackling the rapids and even a couple category fours! I was terrified of whitewater rafting before the trip, but it was So Much Fun! No one fell out of the raft (although I did fall into the raft a couple times), and we came out on the other end of the river under musket and cannon fire, because they were doing a reenactment across the road. Let me tell you, there’s nothing stranger than hauling a blow-up raft up a path, only to step aside and let the Union Calvary through. Totally bizarre.


Hubs and I post-rafting
Hubs and I post-rafting

After Asheville, we headed to Charlotte for a St.Vincent concert. It’s the fourth time we’ve been to see her, and she was awesome as always. Then, on the way home, we stopped in Columbia, SC at a chicken farm and picked up two little chickens! We’ve been wanting chickens for a while, and the week off was the perfect time to get them home and acclimated to us (and us to them) before we had to get back to work. We bought a Plymouth Barred Rock who we named Mad Maxina, and an Ameraucana mix who we named Imperator Furiosa (I think you can tell which movie we went to see recently).

Mad Maxina
Mad Maxina
Imperator Furiosa
Imperator Furiosa
Fury meeting the dogs
Fury meeting the dogs
Max and Fury hiding behind the chicken wire
Max and Fury hiding behind the chicken wire

The chickens kept us occupied for the rest of the week. Max is just as mad as her name implies, and Fury is fearless. Max runs around like a madwoman, and screams bloody murder every time we try to pick her up, but she’s getting used to us and will sometimes even come to investigate. Fury walked right up to our bigger dog on the second day, totally not scared of anything. They get along really well – although Max sometimes chases Fury around, when it’s bedtime they snuggle right up in the same nesting box, and when Max can’t find Fury she runs around peeping for her until she finds her and can cuddle. It’s the most adorable thing I’ve ever seen.

And now it’s back to reality: dayjobs and editing (whoa boy do I need to finish editing!). But at least we have these cute, feathered reminders of the most awesome week ever :)

I don’t think I’ll have Science Tuesday up tomorrow, but expect it on Thursday. And I’m doing #WriteMotivation again this month, so keep an eye out for writing updates starting next week. Have a great week, Aledans!

Science Tuesday: Laser Cannons, Galaxy Strangulation, and a Warm Blooded Fish

[Photo: Opah, a warm-blooded fish, by NOAA Fisheries West Coast]

Happy Tuesday, Aledan Merfolk! We’re back to our normal weekly science news post, and there’s some really good stuff in here (seriously, check out the Lisa Frank Crayfish – it’s beautiful!).

Domestication changes genes in animals: Domestication results in genetic changes within animals, according to findings presented at the May 6 conference of the Biology of Genomes. In a DNA study, researchers found that genetic changes were present in 1,880 genes in domesticated Norway rats and in 525 genes in American minks. Scientists also studied domesticated and wild dogs, cats, pigs and rabbits and had similar results.

Each person has identifying set of microbes, study finds: Much like fingerprints or DNA, each individual has a unique set microbes that can be used for identification. “Each of us personally has a specific set of bugs that are an extension of us, just the same way that our own genome is a part of what defines us,” said biostatistician Curtis Huttenhower, co-author of the study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The findings may one day have applications in criminal investigations.

Latest Dawn images offer more detail about Ceres’ bright spots: The latest photos taken of Ceres by the Dawn spacecraft have given researchers the best view yet of the dwarf planet’s mysterious bright spots. What was originally thought to be two bright features in one place has turned out to be a series of many dots. “Dawn scientists can now conclude that the intense brightness of these spots is due to the reflection of sunlight by highly reflective material on the surface, possibly ice,” said principal investigator Chris Russell.

Researchers develop chicken embryos to grow dinosaur snouts instead of beaks: By blocking a pair of proteins responsible for beak formation, researchers have caused dinosaur-like snouts to develop in chicken embryos instead, according to a study published in Evolution. Researchers were surprised when there were dinosaur-like changes to the birds’ palates as well. “This was unexpected and demonstrates the way in which a single, simple developmental mechanism can have wide-ranging and unexpected effects,” said lead author Bhart-Anjan Bhullar.

Gut bacteria may play role in fossilization of soft tissue structures: Why some fossilized creatures are better preserved than others might have to do with its gut bacteria, a study published online in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B found. Looking at how microbes break down dead brine shrimp, scientists have learned that, under the right conditions, a biofilm forms on the surface of soft tissue and preserves the shape of the structure long after bacteria consume the soft tissue.

Gene activity factors into seasonal health changes, study suggests: Gene activity changes with the seasons, affecting a person’s immunity to illness and disease, a study has found. Gene activity spurs inflammation in the winter, revving up symptoms for related conditions, researchers say. “Given that our immune systems appear to put us at greater risk of disease related to excessive inflammation in colder, darker months, and given the benefits we already understand from vitamin D, it is perhaps understandable that people want to head off for some ‘winter sun’ to improve their health and well-being,” said John Todd, co-author of the study published in Nature Communications.

Cracks on Europa’s surface may be from underground ocean saltwater: The dark cracks visible on the surface of Jupiter’s moon Europa may be caused by irradiated salt seeping up from its underground ocean, researchers say. “That would be a simple and elegant solution for what the dark, mysterious material is,” said NASA scientist Kevin Hand, co-author of a study scheduled for publication in Geophysical Research Letters. Researchers simulated Europa’s chilly conditions in a vacuum chamber, testing various mixtures and subjecting them to blasts of radiation similar to those on Europa.

Laser cannons may be one way to clean up space: Japanese researchers have hatched a plan to mount a full-sized laser cannon on an orbital telescope as a means to zap trash left over from launches and defunct satellites. The technology could help clean up the 3,000 tons of junk orbiting the Earth, but is also likely to spark concerns. “Everyone is afraid you are going to weaponize space,” orbital-debris expert Don Kessler says.

New Horizons snaps image of Pluto with all 5 of its moons: A series of images taken by NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft shows Pluto and its five known moons for the first time. “Detecting these tiny moons from a distance of more than 55 million miles [88.5 million kilometers] is amazing, and a credit to the team that built our LORRI long-range camera,” said Alan Stern, principal investigator. New Horizons recorded the images of Pluto with Charon, Hydra, Nix, Kerberos and Styx between April 25 and May 1.

Fish oil supplements improve nerve damage in mice, study finds: A mouse-model study by researchers at the Iowa City, Iowa, VA Health Care System found that fish oil supplements were able to reverse some nerve damage caused by diabetes. “Our intent is to do more animal studies to demonstrate that fish oil can reverse the harmful effects of diabetes on nerves even after a long period of poorly controlled diabetes. After completion of this work, we hope to begin studies with diabetic patients with neuropathy,” said lead investigator Mark Yorek.

Rare particle decay seen in Large Hadron Collider: Using the Large Hadron Collider, two teams of scientists at CERN joined forces to observe the extremely rare decay of a strange B meson particle into a pair of muons after 30 years of searching, according to a study published in Nature. The decay was predicted by the Standard Model of particle physics, which somewhat shakes up theories about “new physics,” such as super symmetry, which are indirectly proven when the Standard Model fails. “We are very glad to observe the decay, but it’s still maddening. Nature is not helping us here,” said particle physicist Marc-Olivier Bettler.

Galaxy deaths caused by strangulation, study suggests: Galaxies are strangled to death when the supply of gas needed to form stars is choked off, according to a study published in Nature. Researchers looked at more than 26,000 galaxies to determine how so many had died, finding that higher quantities of metals existed in dead galaxies than in living ones, which is consistent with the strangulation theory. “This is the first conclusive evidence that galaxies are being strangled to death,” said astronomer Yingjie Peng, lead author of the study.

Colorful crayfish found in New Guinea a new species: A brightly colored crayfish found in a creek in New Guinea is a new species, according to research published in ZooKeys. Cherax pulcher has long been a staple in the aquarium business, and suppliers closely guarded where they got the colorful creatures, but that didn’t stop one independent researcher from tracking down its origins. Now that it has been identified, scientists are concerned about preserving its small habitat.

Ants use their powerful jaws to fling themselves away from predators: Trap-jaw ants can use their powerful jaws to fling themselves away from predators, according to a study published online in PLOS ONE. Researchers set up several antlions in individual cups of sand, allowing them to set up pits, then dropped the ants in. The ants would snap their jaws to spring out of the pit about 14% of the time.

Second-highest bee die-off numbers recorded: Almost half of the bee colonies managed in the U.S. over the last year have died out, the second largest number ever recorded, according to the Bee Informed Partnership. Beekeepers say 42.1% of colonies have been lost, with the highest die-offs recorded in Oklahoma and the lowest in Hawaii.

Newly discovered dinosaur had a keen nose for prey: A recently discovered dinosaur had a sharp sense of smell that made it a powerful predator during the Late Cretaceous period, according to a study. Saurornitholestes sullivani, whose fossil remains were found in New Mexico, was a member of the dromaeosauridae group of feathered carnivores and it sported a large olfactory bulb. “This keen olfaction may have made S. sullivani an intimidating predator. Although it was not large, this was not a dinosaur you would want to mess with,” said study author Steven Jasinski.

Long-term depression could raise risk of stroke, study suggests: People with a long history of depression may also have a higher risk for stroke, according to a study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association. People aged 50 and older who exhibited depression symptoms for two years or more were twice as likely to experience a stroke within two years than similarly aged people who showed no depression symptoms, the study found. “The exact pathway through which depressive symptoms may lead to stroke remains unclear, and is an important area for future research,” said Paola Gilsanz, author of the study.

NOAA identifies first-ever warm-blooded fish: Scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration have discovered that the predatory deepwater opah is a warm-blooded fish. The opah circulates warm blood throughout its body thanks to a set of blood vessels in its gills, and that keeps it moving swiftly while other predatory fish in its habitat, the darkest and coldest parts of the deep ocean, move languidly. “I think that it’s really exciting that we spend so much time studying especially these larger fish to find something that’s completely unique and has never been seen before in any fish,” said NOAA researcher Heidi Dewar, an author of the study published in Science.

Astronomers spot extremely rare set of 4 quasars: Astronomers have spotted an extremely rare grouping of four quasars within about 650,000 light-years of space, according to research published in Science. “The odds against finding four so close together are 10 million to one,” said lead author Joseph Hennawi. The rare quartet exists in an unusually bright nebula that has scientists scratching their heads as well.

Fermi telescope data may explain missing antimatter mystery: The Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope may have detected gamma rays that could offer some clues about a magnetic field that came to be just after the Big Bang that could indicate why matter outnumbers antimatter in the universe, according to research in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. “We think the most likely candidate for why this is happening is the magnetic field. And then, if it is the magnetic field, then it seems most likely to me it’s going to be this matter-antimatter asymmetry,” said researcher Tanmay Vachaspati.

Similar experiences motivate rats to help their struggling brethren: Rats work to rescue their comrades in peril, and do so even faster if they’ve experienced the same threat themselves, a study suggests. When researchers put rats into chambers connected to another enclosure with a rat struggling in a pool of water, the dry rat would aid the other by helping it through an opening, and it would do it even faster if it had been in a similar situation. “This suggests that knowing that soaking is distressing enhances the rats’ motivation to help their cage mate. We think this comes from empathy,” said Nobuya Sato, an author of the study published in Animal Cognition.

10,000-year-old Antarctic ice shelf may break up by end of decade: What’s left of the 10,000-year-old Larsen B Ice Shelf in Antarctica will likely be nothing but hundreds of icebergs by 2020, according to NASA scientists. “Although it’s fascinating scientifically to have a front-row seat to watch the ice shelf becoming unstable and breaking up, it’s bad news for our planet. This ice shelf has existed for at least 10,000 years, and soon it will be gone,” said NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory scientist Ala Khazendar. The findings were published in Earth and Planetary Science Letters.

Remains of ancient temple uncovered in Egypt: The ruins of an ancient temple have been rediscovered at Gebel el Silsila in Egypt, according to the Ministry of Antiquities. Researchers say the site dates back to the reign of Thutmosis/Hatshepsut, through Amenhotep III and Ramses II to Roman rule, but they haven’t discovered which deity it served. The temple’s existence was first uncovered sometime between 1906 and 1925, and archaeologists used a map from 1934 to help lead them to the site now.

Wreck off Panama identified as Spanish ship that sank in 1681: A mysterious shipwreck off the coast of Panama in the Caribbean has finally been identified, three years after its discovery. The colonial Spanish ship Nuestra Senora de Encarnacion fell victim of a storm in 1681 and came to rest at the mouth of the Chagres River, where archaeologists discovered it three years ago with much of its hull preserved. Encarnacion was a merchant ship known as a nao and was carrying sword blades, scissors and mule shoes, among other things.

Viking age may have started much earlier with trade, researchers say: The Viking age may have begun much earlier and more peacefully than previously thought, according to a study published in the European Journal of Archaeology. Researchers have linked the Vikings with the trade of combs made from reindeer antlers sold to merchants in the Scandinavian city of Ribe around 725, well ahead of the Vikings’ first raid near England in 793. “Now for the first time, we can confidently say that people in the more remote parts of Scandinavia were visiting places like Ribe, presumably for commercial gain, from a very early stage,” said Steve Ashby, the study’s lead author.

Strong friendships key in hyena clans, study suggests: Strong, lasting friendships are at the core of spotted hyenas’ sophisticated social structure, a study published in Ecology Letters has found. Researchers pored over 20 years’ worth of observations of spotted hyenas’ social interactions at the Maasai Mara National Reserve in Kenya, looking at the tight bonds formed between individuals. The scientists call these friendships “cohesive clusters.”

Salmon journeys recorded in bonelike structures in their ears, study finds: A bonelike structure made of calcium carbonate found in the inner ear canals of salmon is giving researchers information about all the places the fish have been. Otoliths grow along with the salmon and absorb elements from whatever waters it swims in, offering lots of information, including how old the fish is. “This is an underutilized tool. If you invest the time and energy to build a robust map, this is a good way to actually get at some of the fundamental questions about the movement patterns of salmon,” said Sean Brennan, author of the study published in Science Advances.

Deadly White-nose Syndrome in bats may be stopped by common bacterium: The common bacterium Rhodococcus rhodochrous may help bats with White-nose Syndrome. The bacterium can be found in almost all soil in North America, and when grown on cobalt, it produces volatile organic compounds that halt the growth of the fungus that’s been killing bats for years. “The amazing part about this is that these compounds diffuse through the air and act at very low concentrations, so the bats are treated by exposing them to air containing the VOCs (the compounds do not need to be ‘directly’ applied to the bats),” the U.S. Forest Service said.

Scientists waiting for globular cluster “Firecracker” to pop with new stars: Astronomers are watching a globular cluster called the Firecracker, one of the youngest of these ancient space objects. “This remarkable object looks like it was plucked straight out of the early universe. To discover something that has all the characteristics of a globular cluster, yet has not begun making stars, is like finding a dinosaur egg that’s about to hatch,” said Kelsey Johnson, lead author of the study accepted for publication in the Astrophysical Journal.

Study finds link between migraines, carpal tunnel syndrome: People with carpal tunnel syndrome are twice as likely to have migraine headaches than people without CTS, according to a study published in the journal Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery. “Based on the findings of this study and prior studies, it may be worthwhile in patients with migraine to perform an examination for peripheral nerve compression in the head and neck,” the researchers wrote.


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Happy Birthday to my Biggest Fan!

Happy Thursday, Aledan Merfolk! If you remember last week’s post, I’m happy to say that Boudin’s belly has finally calmed down. His official diagnosis was “Stress Colitis”. He was stressed out because of how stressed out I was, and then he started exploding all over the living room and waking me up every two hours, which stressed me out more, which stressed him out more. It was a vicious cycle of stress pooping that we just couldn’t break. Thank goodness that week is over ;)

This week is much calmer, both at home and at the dayjob. In fact, while I made a goal to edit two chapters a day this week, I ended up editing EIGHT chapters on Tuesday! And then I figured out a way to fix three weak areas with one tiny change! And then I decided to completely rewrite the first scene in Chapter 4, because that’s how my brain rolls :P I also bought The Emotion Thesaurus, because my characters “shrug” and “smile” and “frown” WAAAAAY too much.

Writing is hard, guys.

This weekend I read THE ASSASSIN’S BLADE, and the ending was so depressing that I started re-reading THRONE OF GLASS to remember that things get better. I mean, they get worse first, but then they get sort of better. The series isn’t finished yet, so I’m not sure how much better things will get, but at least there’s Chaol ;) I seriously wish they’d make this series into a movie, mostly so I can see the fabulous dresses Celaena wears.

Tomorrow is the last of Ocean’s Story, so make sure you return for that. And I have another merpony for you this weekend!

And last, but not least, it’s my little sister’s 30th birthday today. Happy Birthday, Mo!


Science Tuesday: A Malaria Vaccine, Solar Powered Desalination, and Captain Kidd’s Booty.

[Photo: Rising Sun, a 1917 shipwreck in Lake Michigan, US Coast Guard]

Happy Tuesday, Aledan Merfolk! I missed Science Tuesday last week, so we have a couple weeks of science news to get through. Let’s get to it!

Diverse, drug-resistant bacteria found on isolated Amazon villagers: Bacteria living in and on villagers of a remote area of the Amazon rainforest are highly diverse and may be resistant to antibiotics and synthetic drugs, according to a study published in Science Advances.

Body’s internal clock affected by color changes, study suggests: Color changes in the sky may affect the body’s internal clock, according to a study published in PLOS Biology.

Arctic sea ice measured with ESA’s Cryosat spacecraft: Arctic sea ice is a little thicker this year, according to measurements taken by the European Space Agency’s Cryosat spacecraft, but scientists say the trend is still downward.

Scientists find strange, massive supervoid 1.8 billion light-years wide: A massive supervoid has been discovered in space about 3 billion light-years from Earth, according to a study published in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. The area, about 1.8 billion light-years wide, is chillier than others and shouldn’t even exist at such a large size, scientists say.

Sea snails adapt to acidic conditions by getting smaller, study suggests: Tiny sea snails found living near volcanic seeps in the Mediterranean Sea are giving scientists a glimpse of what might happen to sea life if oceans became more acidic, according to a study published in Nature Climate Change. Researchers say that as the ocean becomes more acidic, creatures in it will become smaller to adapt to the dwindling oxygen.

Unique mating cycle may give vampire squid longevity: The mating cycle of the vampire squid may help the cephalopods live much longer lives that other kinds of squid or octopi, according to research published in Current Biology.

Old shipwrecks found in Lake Michigan by Coast Guard helicopter: A U.S. Coast Guard helicopter on patrol over northern Lake Michigan last week spotted the remains of numerous old shipwrecks resting deep in the chilly waters. Local historians helped identify some of the wrecks by studying the photos, including the James McBride, which sank in 1857, and the Rising Sun, which sank in 1917. Around 2,000 ships are resting at the bottom of Lake Michigan, the Michigan Shipwreck Research Association reports, and only about 300 have been found.

Metal detector finds artifact-filled grave dating to Roman era in U.K.: Well-preserved Roman-era artifacts were uncovered last fall in a small English village by a man with a metal detector.

Electromagnetic radiation seen coming off single electron, physicists say: Electromagnetic radiation has been detected coming off a lone electron for the first time, according to findings published in Physical Review Letters.

Latest atomic clock can discern extremely small changes in time: Scientists at the National Institute of Standards and Technology have developed an atomic clock that is so accurate, it can discern tiny changes in time between positions just centimeters apart.

Study looks at young marmosets to understand how human language evolved: Scientists are studying the calls of marmosets to learn more about how human language evolved, according to a study published online in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

Ancient documents found in Egypt describe treatments, including hangover cure: A 1,900-year-old text written in Greek and found among more than half a million such documents unearthed in an ancient Egyptian village has revealed a remedy for hangovers, according to researchers.

Study links timing of solid food introduction to leukemia risk: A study found that late consumption of solid foods among infants was associated with a greater risk of acute lymphocytic leukemia.

Tamed form of HIV used to treat boys with deadly genetic disease: Scientists have used a tamed form of HIV to treat six boys with the deadly Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome, a genetic condition that makes victims susceptible to infections and bleeding.

Scientists in China alter gene of human embryos: Scientists in China have genetically altered human embryos in an attempt to modify a gene that causes a dangerous blood disorder, according to a study published in Protein & Cell.

Studies examine effects of nicotine-based pesticides on bees: Bees may be becoming addicted to nicotine left on plants by pesticides and those neonicotinoids may have a negative effect on reproduction, according to a pair of studies in Nature.

Researchers break down how grebes run across water: Diving birds known as grebes use their lobed feet to run several meters on the surface of water to woo their mates, according to researchers examining how they manage that feat.

Genetically targeting protein may lead to macular degeneration remedy: Scientists in France have discovered a protein that contributes to the excessive growth of blood vessels in the retina that results in age-related macular degeneration, which can cause blindness.

Diagram shows newly-found giant magma reservoir underneath Yellowstone: A huge reservoir of mostly solid hot rock has been found underneath a magma chamber beneath Yellowstone National Park, part of the vast volcanic plumbing of the area diagrammed in a study published in Science. This system has been there for about 17 million years, and scientists are keeping an eye on it because an eruption there would be unlike anything ever witnessed by humans.

Ancient teeth may be evidence humans played role in Neanderthals’ demise: An ancient pair of teeth found in Italy belonged to a modern human and may be evidence that humans played a role in the extinction of Neanderthals.

Complete genome of woolly mammoth sequenced: The complete genome of the woolly mammoth has been sequenced, according to a study published in Current Biology.

Hubble telescope marks 25 years in space, plans for more: The Hubble Space Telescope marked its silver anniversary in orbit Thursday, still functioning and sending back astonishing imagery long after its projected useful life. The plan is to keep the scope’s infrared sensors operating through 2020.

Nepal more vulnerable to massive quakes due to ancient land collision: A massive collision of two land masses more than 25 million years ago resulting in a continued crash at a rate of 1.5 to 2 inches, or 3.81 to 5.08 centimeters, per year has made Nepal prone to massive earthquakes like the one that struck Saturday, experts say.

Scientists find second small pocket shark: A tiny, young pocket shark measuring 5.5 inches, or 14 centimeters, long was found in the Gulf of Mexico, only the second such creature ever to be discovered and identified. The first pocket shark, an adult female, was discovered three decades ago off the coast of Peru.

New technique allows researchers to genetically tell identical twins apart: Researchers have found a way to genetically differentiate between identical twins quickly and cheaply, a finding that has implications in law enforcement, according to a study published in Analytical Biochemistry.

Malaria vaccine study yields promising results: A vaccine for malaria could be available as early as the end of this year because of promising results, according to findings published in the Lancet. <–This would be amazing!

RNA-based Ebola therapy shows positive results in monkeys: An RNA-based treatment protected three rhesus monkeys from Ebola when administered 72 hours after infection, raising hopes for a therapy for humans, according to a study published in Nature.

Study assesses parasite drugs against MRSA infection: Researchers found that tapeworm drug niclosamide, in combination with veterinary parasite drug oxyclozanide, was able to treat and save 90% of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus-infected nematode worms.

Theropod species a patchwork of different dinosaur parts: A new species of theropod, a group of dinosaurs that includes the carnivorous Velociraptor and Tyrannosaurus, has perplexed researchers who say the parts of the rare vegetarian resemble those of completely different groups of dinosaurs, as a platypus resembles a duck and a beaver. Chilesaurus diegosuarezi “can be considered a ‘platypus’ dinosaur because different parts of its body resemble those of other dinosaur groups due to mosaic convergent evolution. In this process, a region or regions of an organism resemble others of unrelated species because of a similar mode of life and evolutionary pressures,” said Martin Ezcurra, lead author of the study published in Nature.

Feline seizures set off by various sounds, study suggests: Myriad sounds have been found to cause seizures in cats, according to research published in the Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery. Feline audiogenic reflex seizures are triggered by such sounds as the tapping of spoons on bowls and glasses, and crinkling tinfoil, paper or plastic bags. The seizures are most common in older cats between 10 and 19 years of age.

NASA brings together scientists to search planets for signs of life: NASA is bringing together researchers from many areas of science to help search for alien life as part of Nexus for Exoplanet System Science. “This interdisciplinary endeavor connects top research teams and provides a synthesized approach in the search for planets with the greatest potential for signs of life. The hunt for exoplanets is not only a priority for astronomers, it’s of keen interest to planetary and climate scientists as well,” said NASA’s Planetary Science Division Director Jim Green.

Extensive briny subsurface aquifer system found in Antarctica: Interconnected subsurface aquifers filled with briny liquid have been found deep in Antarctica, giving scientists clues about not only extreme habitats on Earth, but also possible life on other planets, according to a study published in Nature Communications.

Dawn’s study of Ceres begins in earnest: The Dawn space probe has officially begun its study of the dwarf planet Ceres. Using a series of increasingly closer orbits, Dawn will examine Ceres to get details about its surface, what it’s made of and other mysteries. The mission is due to end June 30, 2016.

Song changes detected in mountain chickadees depending on elevation: Male mountain chickadees in the Sierra Nevada mountain range have a different accent, so to speak, depending on what elevation they are calling from, according to a study published in Royal Society Open Science. Researchers studied the birds’ mating calls, and suspect that the females use the breeding song changes to tell the local males from strangers.

Fla. invasive pythons thrive in just about any environment: The invasive Burmese python is at home just about anywhere in the Florida Everglades, according to tracking data. Researchers tagged 19 of the reptiles to find out more about where they were living as a way to determine how to eliminate them, but what they’ve found is just how adaptable these creatures can be. “They can live in the freshwater environment and be fine, and they can live in the saltwater environment and be fine,” said U.S. Geological Survey research ecologist Kris Hart.

Sparrow-size dinosaur had wings like a bat’s: A tiny, feathered flying dinosaur whose fossil was found in China had wings similar to those of a bat and was about the size of a sparrow, according to a report in Nature.

New Horizons images suggest Pluto could have a polar ice cap: NASA’s New Horizons space probe has offered up images that indicate Pluto may have a polar ice cap.

Brains give up on making sense of bizarre dreams, study suggests: Our brains don’t bother to make sense of bizarre dreams, according to a study in the Journal of Sleep Research. Researchers in Italy asked volunteers to record their dreams, then, after a month, researchers monitored the volunteers’ brain activity as their strange dreams were read back to them. It was found that activity in one hemisphere of the brain decreased as the dream stories became more bizarre.

I guess I’m never finding out what last night’s dream was about then. Silly orca in the parking lot.

NASA’s Messenger mission ends with crash landing on Mercury: NASA’s Messenger probe crashed into the surface of Mercury, possibly creating a 52-foot-wide crater, officials said Thursday. The spacecraft had been orbiting the planet, the first to do so, since 2011, and ran out of fuel. During its mission, the probe mapped Mercury and discovered water ice there.

Bats snatch prey in midair with help of unique wing sensors: Bats use a set of special sensors in their wings to help them grab prey in midair, according to Columbia University researchers.

Bombardier beetles’ explosive internal defense mechanism explained: Bombardier beetles experience internal chemical explosions to produce a defense spray deadly to enemy ants, scientists at MIT have observed in real-time using X-ray imaging.

Satellite spots shifts in Kathmandu elevation due to quake: A satellite that detects elevation changes on Earth indicates the city of Kathmandu has risen between about 3 to 6 feet, or about 1 to 2 meters, after the magnitude 7.8 earthquake that rocked Nepal on April 25. The Sentinal-1, a European Space Agency satellite, noted a significant horizontal shift as well.

Study analyzes brain activity during out-of-body illusion: Researchers created an illusion that gave volunteers the impression they were having an out-of-body experience to study what happens in their brains, research published in Current Biology explains. Researchers saw activity in the hippocampus and the posterior cingulate cortex.

Radiation from long space flights could affect astronauts’ brains: Long-term exposure to radiation during lengthy trips to deep space, such as a mission to Mars, may have an adverse effect on astronauts’ brains, according to a study in Science Advances.

Sorry, Mark Watney ;)

Newfound giant exoplanet baffles astronomers: A newly discovered exoplanet about 500 light years from Earth is challenging astronomers’ beliefs about how planets are created. “We have found a small star with a giant planet the size of Jupiter orbiting very closely,” said Research School of Astrophysics and Astronomy’s George Zhou. “It must have formed further out and migrated in, but our theories can’t explain how this happened,” he said.

Monitors indicate eruption of undersea volcano near Ore.: A volcano deep in the ocean off the coast of Oregon is showing signs of a significant eruption, researchers monitoring the action say.

Medieval girl buried face down in Italy probably had scurvy: A teenage girl who lived in medieval Italy and was buried in a way that indicated she was ostracized by her community was suffering from scurvy, researchers say.

Researchers find low-oxygen dead zones in open waters of Atlantic: Scientists have located so-called dead zones, lethal areas with extremely low concentrations of oxygen, in open water in the Atlantic Ocean, according to a study published in Biogeosciences. The dead zones, where marine life can die due to lack of oxygen, were located in the North Atlantic not far from the Cape Verde islands near West Africa. “It is not unlikely that an open-ocean dead zone will hit the island at some point. This could cause the coast to be flooded with low-oxygen water, which may put severe stress on the coastal ecosystems and may even provoke fish kills and the die-off of other marine life,” said Johannes Karstensen, lead author of the study.

Scientists develop “4D” airway splints for children: Three infant boys with tracheobronchomalacia were fitted with 3D-printed airway splints that scientists are describing as “4D” because they will adapt as the children grow. The biodegradable splints are made of hollow, porous tubes that were sutured around the affected airways to hold them open.

U.K. researcher charts chemical path to Earth’s early life: Chemists at the University of Cambridge in the U.K. have constructed a scenario of how chemicals came together to create life on Earth about 3.8 billion years ago, according to research published in Nature Chemistry.

Genetic study suggests woolly mammoths died out on isolated island: The last woolly mammoths likely died out on an isolated island with a population hampered by inbreeding, according to researchers who have sequenced the creature’s genome.

NASA announces breakthrough in aircraft design: A new type of wing that changes shape in flight with no seams or gaps has been flight tested at Armstrong Flight Research Center in Edwards, Calif. NASA led the project, in collaboration with the Air Force and FlexSys. NASA is calling the project a breakthrough in aircraft design.

New test finds more women with ovarian cancer than previous methods: A new screening method to detect ovarian cancer has identified more women with the deadly disease than previous tests, according to a study published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

15th-century shipwreck may hold golden bounty, archaeologists say: Archaeologists say they have found the wreckage of a gold-laden ship that sank off the coast of Finland in 1468. They say the wreckage belongs to the Hanneke Wrome, a cargo ship believed to have been carrying gold coins and jewelry that could be valued at about $150 million today.

Damaged ancient village, temple still hold clues about life there: An ancient Roman temple and a nearby settlement in Lebanon dating back to about 200 A.D. are providing researchers with information about life there, despite being heavily damaged, according to a study published in Antiquity.

Strikingly well-preserved wading bird fossils found in China: Paleontologists in China have discovered a pair of amazingly well-preserved fossils of wading birds that date back 130 million years, suggesting that bird ancestry goes back even further than previously thought. The fossils, found with the feathers preserved, look much like birds do today, according to a description published in Nature Communications.

Graphene, carbon nanotubes help spiders spin stronger webs: Several spiders sprayed with mixtures of water and either graphene particles or carbon nanotubes went on to weave markedly stronger webs, according to researchers at the University of Trento in Italy.

Massive solar flares unlike any seen before are possible, scientists say: Scientists have spotted clues that the sun may release flares unlike any ever seen before, according to findings presented at a recent Space Weather Workshop in Colorado. Astrophysicist Kazunari Shibata said superflares are expected to occur every 10,000 years and are about 1,000 times more powerful than the strongest flares ever observed in the modern era.

Studies show new health benefits for green, black teas: Green tea could improve the image quality of MRIs, while black tea could reduce elevated blood pressure, according to scientists.

Ocean-dwelling microbes may hold clues to evolution of complex cells: Single-celled microbes dwelling in sediment close to a ridge of hydrothermal vents in the Arctic Ocean have a large number of genes capable of coding advanced cellular operations, much like eukaryotes, which make up plant, animal and fungi life, according to findings published in Nature.

Global levels of carbon dioxide highest ever recorded, NOAA says: Levels of carbon dioxide worldwide reached an average of 400.83 parts per million in March, a level that the Earth hasn’t seen in around 2 million years, and it’s continuing to rise, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Lava tubes behind recurring disappearance of Ore. lake: Oregon’s Lost Lake fills up during the fall rainy season then mysteriously disappears in the summer and becomes a meadow, all thanks to a pair of lava tubes at the lake’s bottom that act as a drain. “The lakebed begins to fill in the late fall, when the amount of rain coming in starts exceeding the ability of the lava tubes to drain off the water,” said Jude McHugh of Willamette National Forest. Where the lava tubes drain to isn’t clear, but experts suspect they move through volcanic rock cracks to become groundwater.

Flooding may have led to decline of ancient Cahokia civilization: A major flood of the Mississippi River that occurred in 1200 may have contributed to the decline of the once thriving Cahokia civilization that built mounds and plazas around what is now St. Louis, according to findings reported in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

System harnesses sun’s power to remove salt from water: A system developed by MIT brings water desalination to a new level. The system is completely solar-powered and small-scale, making it appropriate for use in the developing world. <–This. Is. Amazing.

Rapid telomere changes might signal risk of cancer, study finds: Telomeres, protective sequences on the ends of chromosomes, naturally shorten with age, but researchers recently found people who experienced a rapid shortening of telomeres that suddenly stopped and were likely to be diagnosed with cancer three to four years later.

Study links untreated gum disease with prostate problems: Periodontal disease treatment was linked to improvements in prostatitis symptoms in 27 men with moderate to severe gum disease, prostate gland inflammation and elevated prostate specific antigen levels, researchers report in the journal Dentistry. The participants’ prostate issues were not treated during the study, yet PSA levels decreased in 21 patients while they were receiving periodontal care.

Brushing your teeth – it’s not just for kissing anymore!

Brains of ancient arthropods give researchers clues about creatures’ evolution: Researchers are learning more about the evolution of arthropods thanks to the fossilized brains of an ancient pair of the creatures, according to a study published in Current Biology.

Silver bar found near Madagascar may be part of Captain Kidd’s booty: A silver bar believed to be part of pirate Captain William Kidd’s treasure has been found off the coast of Madagascar. “Captain’s Kidd’s treasure is the stuff of legends. People have been looking for it for 300 years,” said Barry Clifford, whose team found the bar. “There’s more down there. I know the whole bottom of the cavity where I found the silver bar is filled with metal. It’s too murky down there to see what metal, but my metal detector tells me there is metal on all sides,” he said.

Study: Enceladus geysers likely massive curtains of icy vapor, not jets: What were once thought to be jet-like geysers erupting on Saturn’s moon Enceladus may actually be optical illusions created by massive curtains of icy vapor.

Magnetic field began early on Mercury, Messenger data suggest: Mercury’s magnetic field is about 3.8 billion years old, according to data collected by the Messenger space probe, which crashed on the planet last week after running out of fuel.

NASA heartbeat-detection device helps find quake survivors in Nepal: A heartbeat-detection device developed by NASA and the Homeland Security Department was used to rescue four men buried under debris days after an earthquake struck Nepal on April 25. The FINDER, or Finding Individuals for Disaster Emergency Response, detects heartbeats using microwave radar.

U.S. working on vaccines for bird flu epidemic hitting poultry farms: The federal government is trying to develop vaccines to stop the march of a devastating avian flu epidemic plaguing poultry farms in 13 states, but vaccines may pose their own set of problems.

Study: Red wine improves good cholesterol in diabetes patients: Researchers looked at more than 220 type 2 diabetes patients following a Mediterranean diet and found that those who drank red wine with dinner had higher levels of good cholesterol, compared with those who drank white wine or mineral water.

Nascent star-making clump found in deep space: A newly formed star-making clump, seen in deep space for the first time by the Hubble Space Telescope, is giving scientists clues about star formation in the early universe. The clump, which is less than 10 million years old, is churning out stars at a quick clip, producing about 40% of the stars in its host galaxy.

Scientists: 11-billion-year-old star offers more evidence of extraterrestrial life: Astronomers say the discovery of a star more than twice as old as our solar system increases the likelihood that intelligent alien life is somewhere in the universe.

Researchers look into quake clusters in Texas: A magnitude-4 earthquake that shook Dallas last week is the latest in a series of cluster quakes that have sprung up in Texas since 2009, and officials want to know what is causing the increased seismic activity. The quakes have been linked to wastewater from hydraulic fracturing operations being pumped into faults, but whether the process of fracking itself is involved is unclear, according to federal geologists.

Many ancient Egyptian animal mummies don’t contain remains, researchers find: Of the more than 800 ancient Egyptian animal mummies scanned by scientists, about a third don’t contain any animal remains at all, researchers say. Animal offerings were a huge industry in ancient Egypt, and researchers have found about 30 catacombs filled to the brim with millions of mummies of dogs, cats, crocodiles, ibis birds and monkeys or, at least, representations of them.

Bats open their mouths wide to help them navigate tight spaces: Bats adjust the opening of their mouths to help them navigate in tight quarters, according to a study published online in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

How the microbiome affects us and how we affect our microbiome: Scientists studying the myriad microorganisms that live on and in the human body have linked gut bacteria with irritable bowel syndrome, inflammatory bowel disease, metabolic syndrome, obesity and mental health disorders. Diet and antibiotics can significantly affect gut bacteria, and a diet high in fruits and vegetables especially might encourage the growth of beneficial bacteria while inhibiting the growth of harmful strains, integrative medicine dietitian Robin Foroutan writes.

The cellular connection between mother and child: The cells of mothers and their children intermingle when the baby is in the womb, allowing each to carry a bit of the other long after birth, according to various studies discussed by researcher Laura Sanders. “Way back when you and your mom shared a body, your cells mingled. Her cells slipped into your body and your cells circled back into her. This process, called fetal-maternal microchimerism, turns both mother and child into chimeras harboring little pieces of each other,” she writes. Studies have found fetal cells in various organs throughout a mother’s body, including the brain, liver, lungs and heart.

Happy Mother’s Day!


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Level Up

Happy Thursday, Aledan Merfolk! It’s been another wild week around here. As some of you already know, my dad started chemo this week and I had a little trouble wrapping my head around it at the beginning of the week. And then I came home on Tuesday to a living room full of dog poo. Poor Boudin’s having some tummy issues right now, and he’s been waking me up every two hours at night to run outside :( I’ll spare you the disgusting details.

In all this madness, I did manage to finish my CP project for Juliana. And since she’s my sentence-prettier for StO, I studied how she wrote her sentences while I read her wip, and am now trying to apply it to StO (with her line edits). It’s slow going at the moment, and I’ve only finished the first three chapters, but once I get the hang of it I should be speeding along in no time.

I also read a book! Well, a novella. For those of you who’ve heard me gush about how great THE IRON DRUID CHRONICLES are, a new novella came out this week as part of THREE SLICES. It’s about tyromancy, which is apparently divination through the coagulation of cheese. And who doesn’t like cheese? Cheese that can tell the future?! And talking dogs! It doesn’t really get better than Oberon the wolfhound making cheese-y jokes :) I haven’t read the other two slices yet, but I plan to start the second one today…

On my new Galaxy S6, because challenging weeks require retail therapy. And also because my free update date was yesterday and my S3 stopped charging consistently months ago. The S6 comes with a wireless charger, and I’m head over heels for that feature. No more plugging my phone in until the charging port doesn’t work anymore! I also got a free tablet with the phone, so I have lots of new toys to play with (read: lots of new things to install the Nook app on).

Tomorrow the fifth part of Ocean’s Story will go up. Last week I threw a princess off a cliff, so you’ll want to return to see what happens to her (she hasn’t gone SPLAT quite yet!). And I have a beautiful merpony for you this weekend!

Finally: challenging weeks call for powerful music, and this song has gotten me through a challenging week:

if you are afraid, give more.
if you are alive, give more now.
everybody here has seams and scars.
so what. level up.

My Newest Project (Hint: it has nothing to do with writing)

Happy Thursday, Aledan Merfolk! This past week has been extremely challenging, emotionally, so once again I’ve gotten barely anything done as far as writing goes. I should finish my current CP project today or tomorrow, and I did manage to polish the sentences in the first scene of StO until they sparkle, but that’s pretty much it. I haven’t even read a book. I’m in the video games/HGTV portion of my writing cycle, and I’m really itching to play WoW but it’s been so long that I don’t want to pay $15 just to get my ass killed by pixelated bad guys ;)

All this non-writing doesn’t mean I haven’t been productive, though. I’ve just been working on something else. A new project that I’m very excited about. On Saturday, after two hours and multiple curses, Hubs and I finished the first stage of this project, and here it is:

coopThat’s right – we’re getting chickens! A couple of Plymoth Rock chickens, to be exact :) Now that the coop is ready, we need to get the feeders, feed, and nesting material (and maybe a couple wheels to move this bad boy around a bit easier), and then it’ll be chicken time! I promise to keep you updated on our progress with this fun new project, because who doesn’t want photos of cute chickens being all clucky?

Prepare for chicken picture bombardment. And don’t forget: Part Four of Ocean’s story will be up on the blog tomorrow, and I have an awesome custom for you on Sunday :) Have an awesome weekend, Aledans!