Reading and Writing and Butchering Chickens (Oh My!)

Happy Friday, Aledan Merfolk! How is it already Friday? I swear it was just Tuesday…of last week. I’ve been busy busy lately, first with work, then CPing, and now work again. Lots and lots of work. *breathes in the chemicals* The lab smelled like tomatoes this week and I wonder what kind of poison that is? Whatever it is, it made my face break out like crazy. Tomato chemical = acne.

As I said, I finished my CP project (and OMG I can’t wait for you guys to read it someday. It was so wonderful and tear-filled and just *le sigh*). I also finished listening to THE ROOK, listened to the entirety of THE IRON KING (ugh, Ash, go away), and started EMPIRE ASCENDANT. And I finally finished reading THE NAME OF THE WIND – it took me a little while to get into it, but once I did I loved it. It was bizarre and wonderful, and I can’t wait to read the second one (but I still have seven books to finish first). I started reading A STRANGER IN OLANDRIA, which has almost the same feel as NAME, but is completely different. It’s also extremely literary, which isn’t really my jam so it’s taking a while to read. I’m enjoying it though – the setting is beautifully described.

Fox notebook to finish Enfields someday…

As for Enfields? I still don’t know which of the three paths to choose, so I’m still letting it simmer. I’m going to play WoW this weekend, and if no path asserts itself, I’ll start working on Fie Eoin, because I figured out what I’ve been doing wrong with Kaye. I mean, I’ve known for a while what I’ve been doing wrong with Kaye, but I finally figured out how to fix it.


In sad but delicious news: we finally butchered the Littles. Well, Hubs butchered the Littles because there was no way I could even look at them without crying. We ate the first one last weekend, and it was delicious. It tasted like no other chicken I’ve ever had, not even the super-organic, pasture-raised ones we buy at Whole Foods. And we’re using every little bit of them, from the meat to the intestines (tripe tacos, yum!).


Hops the dog was so distraught over the Littles that she was depressed for the entire weekend😦 We kept having to show her the Bigs and tell her that we aren’t going to eat them because they’re her pets (she absolutely thinks that the Ladies are her pets – she helps feed them and everything).

Have a wonderful weekend, Aledans!

Glamping, the Monster Cold From Hell, and Camp NaNo Is Almost Over!

Happy Thursday, Aledan Merfolk! It’s been nearly a month since I last posted, and boy has it ever been a month. I started out strong with Camp NaNo, doing writing sprints with my cabin and staying on top of transcribing my handwritten pages into the computer. I knew I’d be taking a week off from writing to go glamping, so I wanted to get ahead as much as possible in those early days.

And then…Hubs brought the Monster Cold From Hell home from Alabama. On his birthday. We had plans to visit his grandparents the day after his birthday to kick off our week-long vacation, but when he woke up sick we postponed the trip, then canceled the first half of our vacation (we didn’t want to get the grandfolks sick!). By Weds he was feeling much better, so we decided to keep our reservations in Asheville. We stayed at a nice hotel on Weds night, complete with complimentary bath salts to help cook the last of the sick out of his body.

On Thursday, we saw my BFF and CP: Juliana!!! It’s been over a year since I’ve seen her, so I was terribly excited. We hung out at a local Asheville brewery and talked over a couple beers. Then we made plans to meet up downtown the next day, and Hubs and I headed just north of Asheville to go “glamping“.

What’s “glamping”? It’s glamour camping! We stayed in a yurt that had an actual bed (with memory foam mattress) and a mini-fridge. There was a private, open-air shower with hot water, a spigot, and the cleanest port-a-potty I’ve ever been in. And a firepit, of course. (There was also a propane grill, but we cooked dinner in a skillet over the fire)

Totally awesome experience…until I woke up Friday morning with Hubs’ Monster Cold. Still, I wasn’t going to let that ruin my vacation, so I slept in a bit and then we met Juliana for early lunch before heading to the bookstores (because you can’t go to Asheville and not spend the day at Malaprops and Battery Park Book Exchange!).

On Saturday we were supposed to wake up early and head to Juliana’s to go white water rafting, but I woke up feeling so horribly sick that there was no way I could get out of bed, much less keep myself in a raft. So I canceled the rafting plans with Juliana and we decided we’d meet the next day for lunch. Hubs and I headed to Black Mountain instead, since we plan to eventually buy a bit of land out there and raise chickens (and mini-goats, although Hubs still says no to that. I have time to wear him down😉 ). It was a sweet little town with lots of shops and eateries, and a used bookstore. So you know what we did!

By Sunday I felt so sick I just wanted to get home, so unfortunately we didn’t see Juliana again😦 I get to see her in two months for a writing retreat, but I was still super bummed the Monster Cold kept us from enjoying two days together! Stupid cold *kicks it* (Also: no proper bathroom when you have a cold is NOT FUN)

All last week I was fighting off that cold, and I didn’t get any writing done. So two weeks without writing for Camp has put me pretty far behind. I did hit the midpoint of Enfields this week, and I realized it’s actually a YA (goodbye sex scenes!), but now I have so many ideas for where to take it from here that I don’t know which to choose. It’s the opposite of writer’s block, but it still has me unable to move forward for the moment.

Which is fine, because I have a new project to CP🙂 I’m going to spend the next couple weeks working on that while I let Enfields simmer, and then it’s time to get back on the draft horse and finish that hot mess of a book. Then I’m heading back home to Fie Eoin❤

Have a lovely weekend Aledans, and stay away from the Monster Cold!

These flowers were all over the campsite!

It’s Time for Camp! (NaNo that is)

Happy Friday, Aledan Merfolk! Today is the beginning of Camp NaNo: a month-long, set-your-own-goal writing challenge! It’s kind of like the original NaNo, but you don’t have to write 50k to “win”. I’ve set the goal of finishing the rough draft of Enfields, or at the very least writing as much of it as I can and plotting out the rest so I can keep up the momentum in August. Considering I still haven’t figured out my worldbuilding problem from last week’s update, AND realized the scenes I’m writing currently are in the wrong order, we’ll see how far I get in Camp…

I have my trusty CP Mike to help me with the plotting this weekend, and he’s a superstar, so I’m sure we’ll have it all figured out by Monday🙂 In fact, I may have figured out part of it on my drive in to work…or I may have screwed up the order of the scenes even worse. We’ll find out at lunch break.

I finished listening to ANCILLARY JUSTICE last weekend and LOVED IT! I loved it so much I re-listened to the last chapter the next day, and as soon as I get through some of the other books in my que I’ll be buying the rest of the series. Mostly so I can hear Seivarden say “Breq” in that annoyed-yet-amused way the narrator does it.

I’m still reading NAME OF THE WIND, and I finally got my B&N credit last week so I bought eight books (I also had a coupon!): SEA OF TRANQUILITY, THE GHOST BRIDE, A STRANGER IN OLONDRIA, HUNDRED THOUSAND KINGDOMS, STORY FIX, THE CITY STAINED RED, A HARVEST OF RIPE FIGS, and BINTI. It’s going to take me the rest of the year to read them all! And I still have A DISCOVERY OF WITCHES from my last B&N shopping spree…

Have a wonderful weekend, Aledans, and if you’re in the US have a wonderful Fourth of July!

This cardoon thistle looks like a firework!


Science Tuesday: All of June’s Science News

Happy Tuesday, Aledan Merfolk! I obviously failed big-time at keeping up with weekly Science Tuesday posts, so I’m switching it up and posting this segment once a month instead of weekly. Enjoy all (ok, most) of June’s science news!

Ancient geometric symbols may have been basis for writing

Comet’s atmosphere contains amino acid needed for creating life

Bees’ fuzz helps pick up flowers’ electric signals

Antarctica didn’t protect dinosaurs from mass extinction event

Specially engineered nanoparticles take aim at atherosclerosis

Study ties prednisone use to elevated mortality risk in patients with RA

Meteor source of iron in dagger found with King Tut

Water on young moon likely came from asteroids

Milky Way has mass of 700 billion suns

Pluto’s terrain visible in great detail in latest New Horizons image

Skeleton of ancient dog-like creature still puzzles scientists

Study links migraines to cardiovascular problems in women

London excavation reveals Roman-era documents

Shapes on Pluto’s surface offer clues to geological activity

Scientists eye mantis shrimp for ideas to create new body armor

Male sparrows provide less for young if they suspect mate of cheating

Gene that colors butterfly wings linked to dark-colored moth mutation

Scientists closer to creating universal cancer vaccine

Youths on ADHD meds may have increased arrhythmia risk

Unusual underwater structures are geological, not ancient city

Study suggests quicker universe expansion

New radio maps of Jupiter indicate ammonia swirls below clouds

Researchers unveil synthetic human genome project

Dogs may have originated in both Asia and Europe

Young ocean fish eating plastic “Scientists say the fish prefer the plastic to their natural food the way teenagers eschew healthy food in favor of fast food.”😦

Reduced risk of colon cancer death linked to low-dose aspirin use

Rosetta probe back online after orientation snafu

New magma chamber found alongside New Zealand volcanoes

Risk of microcephaly as high as 13% among Zika-infected pregnant women

Study explores link between dopamine, memory function

Hawking, colleagues say information can escape from black holes

Photons’ quantum properties could be used to send uncrackable messages

Study links ancient European farmers with Stone Age migrants from Aegean Sea

Eels climb and send pulses of electricity into threatening creatures

Bison found their way to Americas about 13,000 years ago

Strange deep-sea mushroom is a part of a siphonophore

Archerfish demonstrate ability to discern specific human faces

Malaysian rainforest home to world’s tallest tropical tree

7 new species of peacock spiders identified in Australia So pretty!

Mammals began to thrive long before dinosaurs died out

Event Horizon Telescope will improve image of black holes

LISA Pathfinder captures almost-flawless free fall

Astronomers listen to sounds from ancient star cluster

New blood test could help personalize antidepressant treatment

New elements named for Japan, Moscow, Tenn. and Russian physicist

Satellites, drones help find huge hidden monument in Petra

Flores Island fossils appear to be from ancestors of Homo floresiensis (psst, these are the “real hobbits” you’ve heard about)

Black hole’s dinner of space clouds is in astronomers’ sights

Bioluminescence evolved many times in deep-sea fish

Scientists re-create ancient enzyme

Health, behavior changes likely in early humans due to ancient supernovas “The nearby supernovas would have brightened the night sky for about a year, leading to behavioral changes and hormone production, and increased radiation on Earth would have lasted 500 years.” (The most interesting part of this article is the discussion on radiation background levels and the dosage necessary to cause fatalities)

Female Cape honeybees exhibit invasive, freeloading behavior

Hummingbird hawk-moths staying in UK longer than usual

Carbon dioxide turned into limestone in Iceland

Breath test could warn of early return of lung cancer

Australian researchers creating allergen-free peanut

Scientists developing miniature multimodality endoscopic scanner

Mouse species has menstrual cycle similar to that of humans

Star ripping away young planet’s outer layers

Milky Way lost to light pollution for 1 in 3 people

Imperfections greatly weaken carbon nanotubes

Brain reward system changes seen in long-term marijuana users

Jupiter-sized planet found orbiting binary star system

Close-up shows boundary between Pluto’s plains and rocky highlands

NASA tracks Mars dust storms based on atmospheric temperatures

Autonomic nervous system activity during sleep helps with memory

Hoard of Roman-era silver discovered in Scottish field

More infections follow use of antibiotics during breast-feeding

Peptoids used to develop blood test for diseases without antigens

Scientists detect chiral molecule in interstellar space

NASA scientists to study behavior of fire in space with Cygnus blaze

2,000-year-old hunk of butter pulled from bog in Ireland

Part of humerus found from seabird as big as a plane

Climate change key factor in extinction of rodent in Australia

Rx drug contamination common in Southern streams

Researchers examine anaphylaxis risk in siblings of youths with peanut allergy

LIGO latches on to more gravitational waves

NASA uses space instruments to view methane leaks on Earth

New fish species found in Pacific during NOAA expedition

Amazon butterflies pilfer bamboo nectar from ants

Male banana fiddler crabs improve mating odds by trapping females

Birds’ small brains pack big neuron punch

New technique allows chemotherapy to cross blood-brain barrier

Birth defect risk low with 3rd-trimester Zika infection

Oxygen found in distant, early galaxy

Asteroid found orbiting sun alongside Earth

Strange meteorite found in 470M-year-old limestone in Sweden

New gene-drive process could limit testing impact

Researchers look for King Henry I’s remains on Reading Abbey grounds What is it with the English paving over their dead kings?

Female patients appear more prone to dry socket after extractions

Aquarium researchers seek to design whale-saving rope

Mass extinction 12,000 years ago brought on by humans

Researchers find rare eyeless catfish in Texas

Earth’s seabeds need modern mapping, ocean experts say

Distant planet being destroyed by star’s radiation

Algorithm may help predict an Islamic State-inspired attack

Supercomputers’ brain power could get boost from artificial synapses

Very young Neptune-sized planet found by Kepler space telescope

Zika vaccine approved for human trial

Early mammals’ eyes evolved to see better at night

30-second rub with sanitizer best to kill bacteria

Brain tumor-higher education link found “The 17-year study found that women with three or more years of college were 23% more likely to develop glioma, and men with similar education levels were 19% more likely to develop that type of tumor.”

Hippocampus grafts allow regeneration in aged brains “The researchers grafted neural stem cells into the hippocampus of aged animal models and found that the hippocampus of older animals accepted the grafted cells as well as that of younger animals, which may lead to helping treat age-related neurodegenerative diseases in humans.”

Powerful electrical field may have kicked water out of Venus’ atmosphere

Asteroid rings remain despite interactions with gas giants

Ancient figurine lost for 150 years found in Scotland museum

Blood flow into brain doesn’t happen right away in newborn mice

Zebra finches learn complex mating songs from their fathers

Device could capture energy for prosthetic limbs

Computer simulation shows how Pluto could have subsurface ocean

Early binary stars’ lifetimes charted to study gravitational wave creation

First high-energy physics experiment simulated on quantum computer

Chunks of land along Calif.’s San Andreas fault rising, sinking

Imaging technique gives scientists a look inside cat mummies

Researchers find contagious cancer among Canadian mussels

Drug may delay or prevent breast cancer

Hubble spots massive dark vortex in Neptune’s atmosphere

Earth’s gravity field detects strange Caribbean Sea sound <-Obviously mermaids singing…

Monkeys shrink their social circles as they age

Study examines self-destruct mechanism of paternal mitochondrial DNA

Heart attack patients with diabetes at 50% increased risk of dying

Youths with short sleep duration at increased risk for obesity

Ancient insects found in amber disguised themselves with debris

Common precursor found for scales, feathers and hair

Amphibious centipede found in Southeast Asia

Massive canyon on Charon described

Electric currents may reduce fat in chocolate, study suggests

Study evaluates PET prostate radiotracer for breast cancer imaging

Study examines intensive lifestyle intervention in black diabetes patients


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

Custom of the Week: Moira

Happy Sunday, Aledan Merfolk! The world has been a bit of a wild ride this week, so I wanted to bring you something beautiful this weekend to take your mind off it, if only for a few seconds. With the MLP Fair coming up in a couple weeks, customizers are putting the finishing touches on their projects, and this beauty caught my eye.

Moira, by Mana Mihara

The pictures don’t show it, but she’s a BIG pony – 8 inches tall! I absolutely adore the colors in her tail – that pop of magenta against the green is one of my favorite combos. And the feathers are a nice touch.

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

Little Eggs and Worldbuilding Issues

Happy Thursday, Aledan Merfolk! Every time I jump back onto the blogging bandwagon life decides to smack me with the busy stick, so it’s been a few weeks. I’ve decided to change Science Tuesday to a monthly post, so most of June’s science news will be posted next Tuesday (the 28th). But I’ll still be posting custom ponies every Sunday when I can find them. I have one for you this weekend and it’s so beautiful!

Last we talked, I was in my reading cycle (I’m now in my video games/HGTV/recover cycle, which is kind of backwards from normal…but I’m not complaining because I’ve been playing WoW for the first time since the Panda expansion came out!). I finished TAMING OF THE QUEEN and HALF A WAR. I really enjoyed both of them, but TAMING was really really really good. It gave me nightmares about King Henry VIII, and even though I already knew the history and what would happen, I was seriously on the edge of my seat in places. That’s how well done that book was. I definitely recommend it, especially if you’re a female author (Katherine Parr was the first woman to publish under her own name in English). I’m now reading THE NAME OF THE WIND by Patrick Rothfuss and listening to ANCILLARY JUSTICE by Ann Leckie.

I’m about to roll into the writing cycle, and as I was trying to fall asleep two nights ago I realized the issue I was having with Enfields. I’ve got two MCs who’re trying to fight the big bad guy, but the big bad guy isn’t fighting back. The MCs are too small to really be much more than an annoyance to him – he’s focused on something else until the end of the book. So it’s time to restructure this sucker, rip apart the worldbuilding and stitch it back together, and get the big bad guy to see the MCs as a threat and actively work against them.

And I still need to find a place for that sex scene I already wrote…

I’ve joined Camp NaNo next month in hopes that my cabin-mates will help kickstart my brain and make the pieces fall together so I can finally make some headway on this book. I also picked up STORY FIX by Larry Brooks (you may have heard me praising STORY ENGINEERING in the past, which I’ll also be re-reading with an eye towards Enfields).


Last but not least: the Littles have become Ladies! They started laying eggs this weekend! Little eggs, because they’re still half the size of Mona😛

<–Look how teeny the eggs are!

Have a wonderful weekend, Aledans! I’ll see you on Sunday for Custom of the Week🙂

Custom of the Week: Scorched Magic

Happy Sunday, Aledan Merfolk! Last week I told you I re-started Custom of the Week because Angela Wallace (one our #PonyFest14 winners) asked about it, and although she doesn’t make custom ponies, she does draw them. When her new book SCORCHED MAGIC released, she drew a beautiful custom pony for the book, and I wanted to share it with you today!

Scorched Magic
Scorched Magic, by Angela

I love that she draws her ponies in the G1 style! AND it’s a twinkle-eye pony!

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