Aug 31, 2011

Gangsta Cow Spotting

Clicking on any photo will enlarge it.

It'd been way too long since I ran into my buds, the Gangsta cows. This past weekend I shared many cow stories with visitors. Hey, it's the American West. Everybody has cow stories.

The paragliders came back in full force, too. Look at all of them.

And, I bumped into a pair of antelope on my way up the mountain last Friday. It's a very short video.

A beautiful sunset.

A waning moon.

Jupiter is rising. Here's a photo from week before last of Jupiter rising with the waning moon.

Here's a photo of Jupiter and its four Galilean moons: Callisto, Ganymede, Io and Europa. It's not a great photo. Hopefully as Jupiter gets higher in the sky earlier in the night, I'll get better photos of it.

Here's a video of a twinkly star. When they're low on the horizon, they change colors and brightness, like a holiday light. I enjoy watching them through the telescope. It's the atmosphere which makes them do that, the same effect which causes the sun to break into brilliant color when it sets. A twinkly start on a much larger scale. It's very short.

I met some really awesome people over the past few weeks. I consider myself fortunate that the observatory attracts so many interesting people. Quite a few young people came with avid interests in astronomy. More than one young mind told me they were going to grow up to be an astronomer. I love hearing kids with an interest in science and I do my best to get them even more interested.

Sometimes I feel the season is starting to get long, but it never fails that some fabulous people drop by to re-energize me and remind me why I have the most awesome job on the planet.

Look at what these awesome visitors did. They added yeti art to the yeti houses.

Aug 29, 2011

Rooting for the Little Guy to Win

I remember when I was single, longing for some guy I thought the sun and moon rose on to notice me. That's part of what my story Translations is about, but only part. Most times, I write about characters dealt a lousy deck of cards looking for a way out or just looking and not knowing what it is they're searching for. Somewhere along the line they come across something that changes how they think or perceive their world. Often I take my character from being insignificant to significant in some way. Maybe only in their own eyes, or through a distorted lens, and they might not get what they thought they wanted.

Are those the types of stories you enjoy reading? Not all of my stories are set in outer space. Neither Plantgirl, nor Translations is. Small Graces shares that same search by the main character who ends up finding something she didn't know she wanted. There are links at the sidebar to download these stories from Smashwords, Barnes & Noble and iTunes, and they aren't going to cost you any money. They're all free. Short and free. So, they won't take up much of your time either.

Translations covers this same theme of searching and not always getting what was wanted. Nora is desperately in love with Mitchell Allen. He's trapped inside a tomb. She's trapped by Mitchell's brilliance. She gets a small taste of what she wants, but only a taste, and not exactly the one she was looking for..

Last Thursday, I read my story Translations at an event sponsored by my local writers guild. It was my best reading ever. I met new friends and talked to old ones about my new decisions. A local fellowship of other authors is a great thing. A safe environment to learn to read to an audience is another great thing. I am doubly fortunate in that my local library and writers group both provide opportunities.

The story I have coming out this fall is similar. Leda has to overcome obstacles to get what she wants. Some are physical, some are mental and emotional. I hired an editor last week. Semper Audacia, a space opera novelette, will be my next release. Here's the cover I've been working on.

Here's the trailer, made by my wonderful friend, Kimberly Nicole. She's very talented and I'm very grateful to have her on my team.

I'd like to repay all you wonderful people who have supported me in this endeavor, and I'd like to say thanks with a special offer on Semper. There's one of two ways to get it. Either leave your email in the comments, or send me your email at

I'd also like to pay the rocking writing community back by helping you get the word out about you, your blog, your website, your story and/or your book. For more details, hit on the 'Guest Post' tab above.

Aug 26, 2011

Mbuwn, Relic by Douglas L. Preston and Lincoln Child

Today on Fantastic Friday Writers, we're writing about creatures. Yes, I love aliens. I also love giant, man-eating reptiles, Gamera, and large evil fish. Instead of any of those, I'm going to write about the Mbuwn from Relic, by Douglas L. Preston and Lincoln Child. This book has so much going for it. If you haven't read it, you should. It was creepy with archeology and history thrown into the mix. The creature, mbuwn, really scared me.

Named "Mbwun" (translation: "He Who Walks On All Fours"). Description, at best, is a "scaly primate." Characterized by an unusual smell and glowing red eyes. The DNA of this creature includes gecko genes. Is described as being "as fast as a greyhound with the intelligence of a human."

I'll leave the rest of the revelation about the creature to the book, because it will spoil the story if I go too far. I enjoyed the sequel as well. Definitely some fun reading.

See what other Fantastic Friday Wrtiers have to say: Alex J. Cavanaugh, Elizabeth Mueller, Anastasia V. Pergakis, J.D. Brown, Deirdre Eden Coppel and Jeffrey Beesler.

Upcoming blogfest: Worst Movies Ever, hosted by Alex J. Cavanaugh. Listing the ten worst movies you've ever seen. For more information and to sign up click on Alex's name.

What creatures have you run across which have impressed you? Any favorite creatures?

What about robots? I have a fun little robot game paying homage to our mechanical friends on my website. ODE TO THE ROBOT. If you'd like to stop by.

Aug 24, 2011

Books and Authors Which Led Me Down the Writer Path

As soon as I learned to read, I was a voracious reader. My mother took us to the library every week, and I think I read just about everything in the children's section. My favorites were stories about horses. Walter Farley occupied many hours of my childhood. My favorite book, Man O'War, I read about 5,000 times. The first story I ever wrote [I was about 8] was about a horse named Wesco. I don't recall anything else about it other than it was about a horse.

Wonderful as those stories were, they weren't what made me want to be a writer. The foundation was laid by such wonderful reads as Willy Wonka, James and the Giant Peach, Ramona the Pest, A Wrinkle in Time, The Phantom Tollbooth and Pippi Longstocking. I really loved Pippi. The spark came when my grandmother gave me a hard bound [which I still have and still read] Anne of Green Gables. Anne's adventures and imagination made me want to invent worlds like hers. It was around then stories began swirling in my head, inventing themselves over and over. Like they do now. Difference is, now I write them down.

The sparks which led me to science fiction were Arthur C. Clarke's 2001: A Space Odyssey. When I was younger I thought the title was 2001: A Space Oddity. lol Makes no difference. The story inspires me to this day. And, two of his short stories: The Nine Billion Names of God and Encounter at Dawn. More sparks came from Ray Bradbury and Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.

What about you? What author[s] / book [s] inspired you to write?

The Spark Blogfest, hosted by Christine Tyler of The Writer Coaster.

Aug 22, 2011

My Favorite Star Treks

If you're here for the Spark blogfest, I'll be posting for that on Wednesday.

Narrowing this down to just five favorite episodes was really hard. For me, the original series was the best. It had the best characters and I liked how the solutions were always within my grasp, so I could play along trying to figure out how Kirk and pals were going to get out of trouble.

City on the Edge of Forever

After accidentally overdosing on a powerful stimulant, Dr. McCoy acts erratically and disappears through the Guardian of Forever, a newly-discovered time portal on a remote planet. Kirk and Spock follow after learning that McCoy somehow changed history. Arriving in the 1930s, the duo meet Edith Keeler, a New York social worker who gives them a place to stay. As the days pass, and McCoy is nowhere to be seen, Kirk finds himself falling in love with Keeler... but Spock discovers that Keeler must die to restore the timeline. Spock built a radio in this episode, which one of my cats found exceedingly interesting. It was then I began suspecting she has a crush on Mr. Spock. The pointed ears maybe?

Trouble With Tribbles

Tribbles--purring, limbless, and fertile--disrupt the exploitation of a disputed planet between the Klingons and Federation. I especially loved Mr. Scott's line: "They called the Enterprise a garbage scow."

Amok Time

Kirk violates Starfleet orders in order to take Mr. Spock home to Vulcan to be married, only to find himself thrust into a duel with his first officer for possession of the bride. The ending is so classic.

Plato's Stepchildren

This episode never fails to make me laugh. The crew of the Enterprise encounters an ageless and mischievous race of psychic humanoids who claim to have organized their society around Ancient Greek ideals. Well known for the kiss between Uhura and Kirk.

Journey to Babel

While transporting dignitaries to an important peace conference the Enterprise is pursued by a mysterious vessel and an assassin is discovered among the passengers. This is my ultimate favorite episode. It had several different things going on, which made it more complex than usual.

Honorable mentions:

Space Seed -- Where we meet Khan.

Enterprise Incident -- where Kirk & Spock dress up like Romulans.

For the Earth is Hollow and I have Touched the Sky -- First off, I just love the title of this episode. It's a Dr. McCoy centric episode.

Mirror, Mirror -- Just love evil Spock.

This Side of Paradise -- classic.

Arena -- Gorn vs. The Kirk

Spock's Brain -- Come on, it was hilarious that Spock's brain got stolen. One of my favorite moments in Star Trek is McCoy telling the Kirk that Spock's brain was stolen.

Thanks to Ellie Garratt, host of the Star Trek Blogfest, blogging at Ellie Garratt.

What are your favorite Star Treks? Your favorite character?

Aug 19, 2011

Get Visible Off the Internets

I'm over at Wicked Writers writing about self-promoting off the internets. Pop over and we'll talk. HERE. Hope to see you there.

Aug 17, 2011

Atlantis's Landing Ends an Era, but Exploration Goes on Headed for Jupiter Finding Mud on Mars

It was sad when the space shuttle Atlantis landed, ending, for the moment, manned space flight for NASA. I was very young when Neil Armstrong walked on the Moon, but I remember that moment vividly. Still arguing with Robert Miller everyday whether the first day of the week was Monday or Sunday [I stubbornly insisted it was Monday], I could grasp that putting people on the Moon was an amazing feat. Made me gasp and stare in wonder, teased my curiosity which has lasted a lifetime. So, I felt it was a step backward to shelve the shuttle and start hitching rides on the Soyuz, while working on a new rocket system which seems more like Apollo and Saturn than a step forward.

Yet exploration continues on. Our robotic counterparts go where we can not and find amazing things. The Mars Orbiter found evidence of mud on Mars, indicative of flowing water.

Juno launched on Friday, August 5th, beginning its four year journey to Jupiter, where it will study Jupiter with the same intensity Cassini continues to examine Saturn and its moons.

Dawn has reached Vesta, one of the largest asteroids/minor planets in the Asteroid Belt. Once it has spent some time with Vesta, Dawn will move on to Ceres. Maybe the minor planets aren't as flashy as the main planets to most, but I find them fascinating and want to know more.

I'm definitely fascinated by what they keep finding and will stay tuned for what they find next.

Aug 15, 2011

Observatory Season Past Halfway Mark

I can't believe the observatory season winds toward finished. About six more weeks to go. August is always our busiest month -- weather is good and tons of objects to show off even in the smaller scopes. The Perseids meteor shower was obscured by the full moon this year.


Bad picture of me, but hey, here I am.

Waxing Moon, taken through my telescope, 8/5/11

Detail of the Seas of Tranquility and Serenity, taken through my scope, 8/5/11

Saturn through my scope w/ the new eyepiece. Saturn's getting low, so hard to see clearly at this point.
Moon 8/6/11

Moon 8/6/11

This past weekend was full Moon. I worked Friday night, peak of the Perseids Meteor Shower. We saw a few big, fiery meteors earlier in the evening, then nothing. The Moon even made part of the Big Dipper disappear, it was so bright. There was little to show through the telescopes except the Moon. Then clouds rolled in, adding insult to injury. I took Saturday off to be with the husband unit.

Sunset 8/12/11

Sunset 8/12/11
Moonrise 8/12/11

Almost full Moon, 8/12/11, taken through my telescope
Click on any photo above for a larger view.


Here's a little tidbit on a possible UFO found in the Baltic Sea in early AugustA Swedish treasure hunter found a strange formation on the floor of the Baltic Sea, speculating it could be an underwater “Stonehenge,” while others say it could be a UFO. In fact, ocean exploration experts tell PM, the sonar image in question may not be trustworthy, and the explanation for the formation (if it's real) is probably rather ordinary.

Aug 12, 2011


There's a marketing tactic that doesn't work all that well, continuously bombarding folks with a hard sell approach of what you're hawking. Folks get it from everywhere all day long, so it's not so difficult for them to tune you out. And they will.

Investing time and interacting with people works better, in other words selling you instead of your wares. And, there is a world beyond the internet. Get business cards printed with your web address and / or blog and / or email. I got a set without phone and address with my website, blog and email that I can hand out to whoever. I hand them out up at the observatory and around town. My husband passes them out, too.

I've only just begun promoting a product, so am no expert, other than just be visible as a reminder to folks that you're there. Lots of generous authors on the nets will volunteer to help you out. Be generous back. People like to help other generous people.

Most importantly, produce a great product. Reviews help, and the ones I've received from people who don't know me at all have been really rewarding. And those from people who do know me, too. They've said the nicest things. :D

It's about connecting with your fan base, a true connection. Those are the meat and potatoes of what you're doing. It takes time and effort, it's neither instant nor easy, like pushing a boulder up hill.

Thanks to all of you out there who have made the boulder a little lighter. You rock! I truly appreciate it.

How about you, any words of wisdom on promotion or marketing? Audience building?

See what other Fantastic Friday Wrtiers have to say: Alex J. Cavanaugh, Elizabeth Mueller, Anastasia V. Pergakis, J.D. Brown, Deirdre Eden Coppel and Jeffrey Beesler.

Aug 10, 2011

Blood and Chrome, Fall 2011 Sci-Fi TV

Syfy has ordered another Battlestar Galactica prequel called Blood and Chrome, takes place in the 10th year of the first Cylon war. As the battle between humans and their creation, a sentient robotic race, rages across the 12 colonial worlds, a brash rookie viper pilot enters the fray. Ensign William Adama, barely in his 20s and a recent Academy graduate, finds himself assigned to the newest battlestar in the Colonial fleet… the Galactica. The talented but hot-headed risk-taker soon finds himself leading a dangerous top secret mission that, if successful, will turn the tide of the decade long war in favor of the desperate fleet.

Here's concept art released for the series:

Yay on space opera, but I'm not entirely excited. I'm not enamored of prequels at all, for one. For two, Caprica was awful. At least in this one there will be some space battles. That's something.

Also coming up with sci-fi-ey themes:

Terra Nova. FOX. Centers on the Shannons, an ordinary family from 2149 when the planet is dying who are transported back 85 million years to prehistoric Earth where they join Terra Nova, a colony of humans with a second chance to build a civilization. I'm really looking forward to this despite the logic flaw of why they'd chose to send people back in time to this time period to save them. Maybe they explain that in the first episode though. Then there's the fact it's on Fox, where they enjoy screwing up the success of sci-fi shows.

Once Upon a Time. ABC. Centers on a woman with a troubled past who is drawn into a small town in Maine where the magic and mystery of Fairy Tales just may be real.

Grimm. NBC. Crime solving drama where the main character is a descendent of the Brothers Grimm. Latest reports say this won't be starting until November.

Fables. Based in a world where fairy tale characters have been forced out of their homes by a mysterious enemy known as the Adversary, and now live in a hidden community in New York City known as Fabletown. The series' first storyline followed Fabletown's sheriff, a reformed and pardoned Big Bad Wolf, who investigates the murder of Snow White's party-girl sister, Rose Red.

Untitled Star Wars TV Series. On hold for 3 more years due to budget problems reported June 2011. This could be cool if they can figure out how to produce it without a budget equivalent to running a medium sized country.

Seems fairy tales are invading the airwaves this fall.

This past Sunday was the season finale of Falling Skies. That was fast. It was pretty good. They wrapped up something I'd been wondering for awhile ... what happened to Karen. The gang of survivors had some successes and failures in their offensive against the aliens. Now we have to wait until summer 2012 to see where they're going with this story. 

So what are your thoughts on another BSG? The fairy tale shows? Anything interesting you? Anything not?

Aug 8, 2011

Dark Spell and Her Favoured Captain and Ereaders

Elizabeth Mueller's Darkspell is coming out this fall.

Winter Sky believes she is everything ordinary . . . until she is kissed by Alex Stormhold.

As seer of Stormhold Coven, Alex is sworn to be Winter’s protector against the darkness that hunts her.  Violently thrust into a magical realm she always thought impossible, she stumbles upon a disturbing secret of her own.

Will love prove thicker than magic?

Elizabeth is a fellow Fantastic Friday Writer. You can find out more about her and her wonderful book at her website and her blog

Francine Howarth signed a contract for a contemporary romance due out Fall 2012. Meanwhile, she has released Her Favoured Captain, a novella, on Kindle. 

It's 18th Century England and news of an arranged betrothal shatters Emerald Lady Penhavean’s dreams of one day wedded for love. Her instinct to rebel against marriage to a man more than twice her age causes severe conflict between her and her brother, but Lord Penhavean insists she will marry the Earl of Moorby no matter what: with or without her consent. To ensure her compliant to his bidding he resorts to cruel measure and destroys the one thing she loves above all others.

Distraught, she flees to the creek with intention of setting herself free from fate worse than death. There she encounters a stranger, a young buccaneer of wise if witty countenance. Something in his eyes and tone of voice stir feelings Emerald cannot ignore, and life once again seems preferable to that of death. But how can she now return to the house and the fate that awaits her, when she knows her heart finally captured by a man she could truly love? 

Available at Amazon. Francine blogs HERE

Congrats to Elizabeth and Francine, all success to you both.

Upcoming Blogfests:

The Spark Blogfest, hosted by Christine Tyler of The Writer Coaster, August 22-26. What book made you realize you were doomed to be a writer? What author was the spark of inspiration for your first ms?

Star Trek As We Know it Blogfest, August 22, hosted by Ellie Garratt. Posting top 5 characters and episodes and/or movies. Sign up HERE.

Lots of festing that week.

So, seems the birthday fairy [months away] will grant me the wish of an ereader. :) I should get through the ebooks piling up on my hard drive much faster then. Any thoughts on Nook vs. Kindle or another ereader?

Aug 5, 2011

Ghost Stories

Do you believe in ghosts? I discuss an experience I had with something 'out of the norm' HERE.

Pop over and add in any experiences you've had. Then if you care to, you can go to the home page and vote in the poll as to whether you believe in ghosts or not.

Your participation is greatly appreciated. :)

In the last poll, Serenity was the ship most folks wanted to travel on, followed closely by the Tardis and Moya.

Also spent some time moving things around on the website.

You all have a great weekend. :)

Aug 4, 2011

Self-Publishing as an Audience Building Tool

Writing over at Wicked Writers today.

The topic was the new role of agents ushering authors through the self-publishing process. Which I confess to not getting ... why would a writer need an agent to self-publish? I didn't find anything on the topic. If you've heard of this, please inform me.

I don't think an agent is necessary, other than they may be trying to maneuver into some role there as more writers go into epublishing. At any rate, I wrote about using epublishing as an audience building tool instead. If you care to pop by, you can read the article HERE

Aug 3, 2011

New Toys: Oxygen III Filter and Naglers

I confess, this is a nerdy astronomy post. The past two weekends up at Pine Mountain Observatory have been pretty much ideal -- clear nights, warm, and late rising or no moon.

Two weeks ago, another volunteer lent me his 11mm nagler, which is a very nice eyepiece, an eyepiece that made it seem like I had a whole new telescope. Amazing. Simply amazing. The magnification was outstanding. So much so, I told my fellow star guide I was willing to trade him my car for it. He was kind enough to let me borrow it the rest of the summer. :D Very, very nice toy.

The next day, the oxygen III filter I had ordered arrived in the mail. Yay! Another new toy. I'd been waiting on it and had gotten a great deal on it through Amazon of all places. An oxygen III filter makes certain nebulae pop and easier to see. Got my first ever view of the veil nebula on my own. It's very difficult to detect without a filter. Now I can see it in all its glory. Nice.

Because the weather improved so much, the observatory has gotten much busier, what I call crazy-assed busy. As long as the crowds have an interest, it's fun. But they get crazy with their flashlights and there's something about more people which makes people behave less ideally. I still want a bullhorn. The other volunteers thought I was kidding, but I wasn't. "TURN OFF THE FLASHLIGHTS. NO WHITE LIGHT! QUIT KiCKING ROCKS. QUIT THROWING ROCKS. GET YOUR DOG'S HEAD OUT OF MY TELESCOPE. SHUT OFF YOUR CELLPHONE OR GO DOWN TO THE GIFT SHOP! PUT OUT THE DOOBIE!" I'm not joking on the last one either.

Here's some photos:

Because Saturn is getting lower in the sky, the views of it aren't as clear. Heat and other atmospheric conditions interfere with clear viewing and a hot telescope. I took this through the 24" telescope.

Aug 1, 2011

Most Loved and Most Hated Film Adaptations

Books I've loved that were turned into movies I've loved:

1.  The newest Star Trek. I wasn't sure I'd like this, but I thought it was awesome.

2.  2001: a Space Odyssey. I saw the film first, which made me so curious, I read the book, and read it again and again. This is what turned me onto sci-fi. It made me wonder and made me think, and that's what I've always loved about it. I watch the movie again and again, and so, too, read the novel.

3.  Sense & Sensibility. I enjoy this film version as much as the book. Both of which I read / watch over and over.

Most hated film adaptations:

1.  Dune. I was skeptical that complicated book could be made into a 3 hour film and make sense. I sure was right. It couldn't. The only redeeming thing about it was the casting of Sting.

2.  I think it was in the 1990's when this version of Mansfield Park came out. Strayed too much from the intent of the original novel, which made me hate it.

Watching the Harry Potter films makes me want to read the books. One day, I'll get around to it.

I've also heard Logan's Run and The Postman were excellent books and differed from the movies, so I'd like to read both of those books one of these days. Will go add them to my list in fact.

There have been plenty of other books to movies I've seen, but these were the ones that stood out. Any movies you've loved / hated that came from books? Any movies which prompted you to read the book?

Novel Films Blogfest, hosted by Madeleine of Scribble and Edit, August 1-3. Listing of novels, comics and plays that you have BOTH read and seen the film/ TV adaptations.