Lands of Ash – speedpaint

I was reading H. L. Burke’s Lands of Ash and I kept thinking how I’d love to make a better cover image. So I started messing around with a stock photo model and a nice scribbly background.

Be vewy vewy quiet. We're hunting fiwe ewementews.
Be vewy vewy quiet. We’re hunting fiwe ewementews.

It came out all right, so I started refining it.

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…aaaand that’s when I dropped my tablet and broke its USB port. So here it sits, and I haven’t fixed the fire elemental yet, and it’s gnawing at my brain … I MUST FINISH IT.

So instead of a heartbreakingly expensive Wacom tablet (the one I just broke), I’m going to buy the cheapest of cheap off-brand tablets. Likely it will last a decade, like my last cheap off-brand tablet did. :-p

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Shark eaten by super predator–but not another shark

A while ago, there was an interesting story about a three-meter great white shark off the coast of Australia that got eaten by something.

Photo by Brocken Inaglory via wikimedia commons
Photo by Brocken Inaglory via wikimedia commons

It had been tagged by scientists, who later found the tag washed up on the beach. The tag recorded:

The shark was hanging out near the surface, when it suddenly dived 2000 feet.

The recorded temperature rose from 46 degrees to 78 degrees immediately, suggesting the shark was eaten very quickly, perhaps swallowed whole.

The tag rode inside the bigger animal at various depths, but mostly near the surface, until it was expelled 8 days later.

So! Apparently a documentary just aired saying that the shark was eaten by a bigger shark, possibly a megalodon. Which is pretty cool, but not entirely accurate. Max Hawthorne on Facebook wrote an excellent article dissecting the facts, and I’ve reproduced his article here, with permission.


SUPER PREDATOR – IT’S NOT WHAT THEY SAY IT IS by Max Hawthorne

I watched the documentary “Super Predator” recently. It’s the follow-up to last year’s “Hunt for the Super Predator.” I enjoyed both shows, but after having studied all the data, I find myself compelled to weigh in, because something’s not right.

Last year’s show (and I have no doubt they’ve set things up for a third episode for next year) ended with the premise that the creature that devoured a 3-meter great white shark (named “Shark Alpha” in the Bremer canyon off AU was simply a larger (i.e. 5-meter) great white. I thought this was rubbish. There was no definitive proof of the claim, and it was, IMHO, a fluff piece to quell the media storm and put people’s minds at ease.

In this year’s show, the filmmakers changed their story. Now they’ve presented the theory that a MUCH larger shark, i.e. a Carcharodon megalodon – one that inhabits the abyssal depths – was responsible for the attack on Shark Alpha. They backed this up with a photo of an 80-foot pygmy blue whale sporting a bite scar on its peduncle measuring a whopping 5 feet across. They also stated that the shark that unsuccessfully attacked the pygmy blue would have measured nearly 40 feet in length.

The facts dictate otherwise.

1- Per http://www.cwr.org.au/research/bluewhales.html, the pygmy blue measured 20-21 meters, i.e. a maximum of 69 feet.

2- Also, per the same site’s data, the bite on the whale’s tail measured a maximum of 1.2 meters across. That’s a smidgen less than 4 feet, not 5, indicating a shark around 32 feet long. A sub-adult Megalodon? Possibly. Or maybe just a really huge great white.

3- There is no indication that this pygmy blue whale was attacked in the Bremer canyon, so any insinuation that the shark that bit the whale is the same animal that devoured Shark Alpha is a stretch.

4- Per her satellite tag/tracker, Alpha’s body temperature, when attacked, was confirmed at 46 degrees Fahrenheit. Her body temperature, again per the tag, went from 46 to 78 degrees almost instantly after she was devoured.

5- White sharks have a body temperature that normally ranges from 10-14 degrees Fahrenheit above the surrounding water (the inside of the belly being the highest temp differential). Under extreme circumstances, the maximum differential has been listed at a difference of 25 degrees.

6- Based on body temperature alone, there is no way shark alpha was eaten by another great white. The temperature difference is too extreme. Moreover, if Megalodon is still alive, and has a body temperature anything like its relative, the great white, (a reasonable assumption), it would also fall within this range.

7- Megalodon was a shallow water predator. It makes no sense that it would loiter in the extreme deep where little food exists. Especially not when a banquet of whales waits at the surface.

8- The “Hunt for the Super Predator” special showed that the creature that ate Alpha remained at depths ranging from the surface to 300 feet immediately after feeding, and for the next 8 days, until the tracker/tag was excreted. This was ignored by the new show, assumedly as it would derail their “Abyssal Megalodon” theory. In fact, the “super predator’s” movements in the water column are, in actuality, similar to those of an Orca. It indicates an air breathing predator that does NOT live in the darkness of the abyss.

9- This fact is backed up by Alpha’s behavior, immediately prior to her being consumed. Once attacked, she dove to nearly 2,000 feet at high speed before she was caught and killed. This indicates an attacker that was both fast and capable of deep dives, as well as being able to accurately track fleeing prey in complete darkness (echolocation, anyone?).

10- Retreating/emergency diving to extreme depths when threatened or attacked is a documented tactic white sharks employ when one of their number has been killed by Orcas. This raises the possibility that Shark Alpha may have instinctively tried to employ this same tactic in an attempt to flee what she recognized as a large, air-breathing carnivore.

11- Per the tracker/tag, the digestive process of the “super predator” took 8 days. A great white’s digestive tract takes 24-48 hours, from what I’ve read. Something else digested Alpha – something that dissolves its meal slowly – and based on my experience keeping large crocodilians and such, that would seem to indicate a reptile.

Green sea turtle grazing sea grass, by P.Lindgren, via wikimedia commons
Green sea turtle grazing sea grass, by P.Lindgren, via wikimedia commons

12- Lastly, adult leatherback sea turtles have been known to have core body temperatures 32 degrees Fahrenheit above the surrounding sea water. If the water temperature around shark alpha was 46 degrees and you add 32 to it, you get the EXACT 78 degree body temperature of the Super Predator. Of course, leatherbacks eat jellyfish, not 3-meter white sharks. But the interesting thing about them is that they ARE marine reptiles. This implies that the creature that ate Alpha may ALSO have been a marine reptile of some kind.

(Note: Orcas, the other proposed predator here, have an internal body temperature of 97.5 –100.4 degrees F.)

SUMMARY: THE EVIDENCE SUPPORTS MY HYPOTHESIS THAT SHARK ALPHA WAS EATEN BY A LARGE, AIR BREATHING ANIMAL: ONE THAT COULD NAVIGATE IN TOTAL DARKNESS, SURVIVE THE PRESSURES OF THE ABYSS, CATCH A FLEEING GREAT WHITE SWIMMING AT 30+ MPH & SWALLOW IT WHOLE, HAD A BODY TEMPERATURE 32 DEGREES HIGHER THAN THE SURROUNDING WATER, HABITUALLY STAYED NEAR THE SURFACE FOR 8+ DAYS AFTER EATING ITS MEAL, AND TOOK 8 DAYS TO DIGEST.

CONCLUSION: SHARK ALPHA WAS CONSUMED BY A HUGE MARINE REPTILE: DISCLUDING UNKNOWN SPECIES AND FOCUSING ON THE FOSSIL RECORD, POSSIBLE CANDIDATES INCLUDE EITHER A GIANT MOSASAUR OR A PLIOSAUR. GIVEN THE DEPTHS THE PREDATOR DESCENDED TO IN PURSUIT OF THE SHARK, AND THAT MOSASAURS WERE SHALLOW DIVING, COLD-BLOODED REPTILES LIKE THEIR MODERN RELATIVES, MONITOR LIZARDS, I’M BETTING ON THE LATTER.

A Prognathodon saturator swimming in prehistoric waters.
A Prognathodon saturator swimming in prehistoric waters.

kronos_rising_hug_your_pliosaur_poster

Looks like KRONOS RISING may not be pure fiction after all.

Max Hawthorne, author
www.kronosrising.com


Very provocative article! Max has written a book that is essentially Jaws, with a mosasaur, so naturally he’s very interested in the idea of these dudes swimming around out there.

What do you think? Giant shark, or giant swimming lizard? Personally, I wouldn’t go swimming out in those Australian waters if you paid me.

EDIT: Please address all questions and arguments to Max Hawthorne’s Facebook page.

Gluten free–more or less

My hubby and I have been dealing with some health problems lately. I’m anemic and my thyroid is a bit hypo, while my hubby would like to lose some weight.

We’ve been taking Dr. Wallach’s Tangy Tangerine 2.0, and seen dramatic improvements to our health–more energy, higher sex drive, elimination of some other problems, like memory going blank at odd moments. Yet these other issues persist. So we started digging in to what we needed to do.

I was pointed to Dr. Glidden, another health and supplements expert, who has a list of foods to eat, and foods not to eat.

Bad foods are:

Wheat
Barley
Rye
Oats, oatmeal – even if it says that it is Gluten Free.
Fried Food
Oils—cooking or salad. Yes, this includes olive oil and coconut oil!!!
Well done red meat (rare or medium-rare is ok!)
Deli Meat / processed meats, any nitrates added to meat – tell your butcher NO NITRATES
Soda / carbonated beverages near or with mealtime
Skin of a baked potato (or yam, or sweet potato). If you boil a potato, you can eat the skins.

Good foods are:

Eggs—soft scrambled in butter, soft boiled, poached
Butter & Lard (rendered animal fat)
Salt
Fish, Chicken, Pork, Lamb
Beef—rare/medium rare
Veggies
Fruit
Mixed, Salted Nuts—no peanuts
Nut Butters—no added sugar & no peanuts
Couscous made from pearl millet only.
Pure Buckwheat (Isn’t wheat).
Beans, lentils and legumes
Rice, Millet, Corn & Quinoa
Coffee, Tea, Green tea, Red wine.
4-8, 8oz glasses of filtered water each day. Avoid soft plastic bottles.

Vegetables, by Elina Mark, via Wikimedia Commons
Vegetables, by Elina Mark, via Wikimedia Commons

There’s more details here. Anyway, as you can see, there’s far more good foods to eat than bad foods. (Who doesn’t love a diet high in fats, protein, and cholesterol?)

So this week we’ve gone off gluten. The funny thing is, neither of us really like bread anyway. We’re partial to cookies and desserts now and then, but we don’t really like sandwiches or toast. Both of those are merely delivery vehicles for the condiments and filling, anyway.

Instead of toast, we have a cup of cottage cheese or yogurt alongside our morning eggs. Often I’ll add a spoonful of homemade jam to the yogurt/cottage cheese, or top it with fresh fruit or frozen blueberries. That’s been our standby for a long time. It never occurred to us that it was gluten free.

This week, instead of the sandwich I usually pack in my husband’s luch, I’ve just broiled a steak or a chicken breast, cut it up, and put it in his lunch with a fork. I also add diced cheese (our favorites are cheddar and Gouda), grapes or berries, and a handful of almonds. He says it’s extremely filling and takes a while to eat.

For dinner I’ve been making things like Shepherd’s Pie, Beef and Broccoli (stir-fried in water), Taco-rubbed chicken tenders topped with guacamole, beef stew, and tacos in corn tortillas.

We’ve decided to splurge on frozen yogurt this weekend, but even that is gluten free (I think). Sugar free? Hardly! I know sugar is on the list of things to avoid, but all things in moderation, right?

Really, it’s a pretty simple diet, and we were mostly eating it anyway, due to my personal dislike of bread products. It’s not paleo, it’s not diabetic, it’s not anything else I can easily find recipes for. Paleo doesn’t allow dairy, for instance, and diabetic revels in the grains. So much gluten-free is also egg and dairy-free, so I’ve been wading through this strange wonderland of bizarre recipes full of even more bizarre ingredients. And all of them are freakishly expensive.

So I’m figuring out ways to eat gluten free (and get full) on the cheap. Anybody else following a diet like this? Any suggestions?

How to use Amazon Follow

We all have authors who we adore, and snap up their books whenever there’s a new one. Sometimes authors have newsletters that you can subscribe to, and they’ll give you special insider deals on new titles coming out. (I have one, too!)

Well, Amazon is getting in on the game, and I’ll show you how it works.

Amazon Follow is a new addition to the community software on the site. Not only can you discuss books and things with other customers, but now you can follow specific authors, and receive personal notifications from them when they release new books. Here’s how it works:

First, search up an author you like. Click on their author name to get their Author Central page.

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See the big yellow button under their picture? Click that and you’re golden.

Now, to find the list of authors you follow, go to My Account and scroll down to Personalization.

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There’s a nice list right there, which lets you add or remove authors with one easy click.

Now you’re all set to receive official emails from Amazon whenever one of your favorite authors releases a new book. Especially handy if you’re not sure if they have a newsletter or not!

If you’re an author, this is a golden opportunity to do business with fans. Set up your Author Central account posthaste!

Monsoons and stuff

This past weekend, we had parts of Hurricane (typhoon?) Dolores pay CA and AZ a visit. As I was driving, I snapped a few pics of the threatening clouds.

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You can actually see the rain falling out in the distance, there.

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Sure looks promising, doesn’t it?

As it turns out, the storm hit LA, the central valley, and western AZ. Phoenix got some clouds and nice breezes. It was lovely and cool, but we got zero rain. I thought it was kind of a dud, then I saw this news story.
knxv-I10-BRIDGE-COLLAPSE-2_1437363089118_21708378_ver1.0_640_480

I-10 bridge collapsed near Desert Center due to flash flooding.

So, I’m glad it didn’t hit Phoenix. If it knocked down bridges out in the desert, think of what it would have done to the metro area!

Otherwise, it was a very pleasant weekend. Any time we get a break from the sun is really nice, especially in July.

Amazon Prime day mega book sale!

If you are at all into Online Shopping, then I’m sure you’ve heard rumors of Amazon’s big “Prime Day” bash. July 15th only they will be hosting what they hope will be a bigger sales event than Black Friday. . .

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Well, of course most of us Indies are on Amazon anyway, so while you’re grabbing up big screen TVs or Kindles or whatever floats your boat, grab some Indie Books!

 

Here are some free and discounted Indie Deals for July 15th (all these promotions are subject to change so please check to make sure the price is still valid before you buy):

 

Her Imaginary Husband

HER IMAGINARY HUSBAND will be 99 cents ~ ★★★★★ How can Nikki date the campus cop with Her Imaginary Husband hanging around? Romantic comedy. Click HERE.

 

Second Son (The Minstrel’s Song Book 2)

THE SECOND SON will be Free!

In an attempt to manipulate the future, a nation is forced to decide between brothers. A family-friendly-fantasy novel for all ages. Long before Aom-igh needed a champion, Llycaelon had a second son. Click HERE.

 

Turned: A Werewolf Love Story (The Regency Shifter Series Book 1)

TURNED will be Free!

A Sweet Shifter Paranormal Romance. Click HERE!

 

The Bramblewood Werebear (The Regency Shifter Series Book 2)

THE BRAMBLEWOOD WEREBEAR will be Free!

A Sweet Shifter Paranomral Romance. Click HERE!

 

A Stitch of Honor

A STITCH OF HONOR will be Free!

A Science Fiction short. Click HERE!

 

Malevolent (The Puzzle Box Series Book 1)

MALEVOLENT will be Free!

A YA Paranormal Romance. Click HERE!

 

Chronocrime (The Spacetime Legacy Book 2)

CHRONOCRIME will be Free!

A YA Urban Fantasy. Click HERE!

 

Dragon’s Bride (The Dragon and the Scholar Book 4)

DRAGON’S BRIDE will be Free!

The fourth book in the Dragon and the Scholar Saga, a Sweet Fantasy Romance sees Dragon Prince Ewan travel into the past to regain his human form and reunite with his beloved. Click HERE!

 

The Place of Voices (TimeDrifter Series Book 1)

THE PLACE OF VOICES will be Free!

“Uplifting and entertaining” Historical Fantasy THE PLACE OF VOICES by Lauren Lynch FREE July 15! Click HERE!

 

Operation Dark Angel: The Rise of Nicolaitanes (The Apocalyse Series Book 1)

OPERATION DARK ANGEL will be Free!

How can one military operation bring about the downfall of the world’s governments? What happens when a single man attempts to take over the entire world? Christian Thriller. Click HERE!

 

House of Slide Hotblood

HOUSE OF SLIDE HOTBLOOD will be Free!

A YA/Paranormal Fantasy! Click HERE!

 

Whispers of a Faded Dreamer

WHISPERS OF A FADED DREAMER will be 99 cents!

A YA Christian Fantasy! Click HERE!

 

Beauty Within (Riley Family Legacy Novellas Book 1)

BEAUTY WITHIN will be 99 cents!

Could a parking ticket signal Katherine’s second chance at life and maybe even love? A contemporary Christian romance. Click HERE!

 

Waiting for Appa: A Science Fiction Short Story

WAITING FOR APPA will be Free!

An Award Winning Christian SciFi Short Stroy! Click HERE!

Liberty (Citizens of Logan Pond Book 2)

LIBERTY will be 99 cents!

When the financial collapse of America wipes out life as Carrie knows it, she finds the will to survive with a man determined to hate her. Dystopian. Click HERE!

 

Shatterworld

SHATTERWORLD will be 99 cents!

Amish wannabees flee to another planet, only to find conflict has followed them.

Christian Middle Grade Scifi! Click HERE!

 

Beggar Magic

BEGGAR MAGIC will be 99 cents!

This YA Steampunk Inspired Fantasy takes you into a world of musical magic where two girls from different backgrounds must fight to defend what matters most. Click HERE!

 

Aerisia: Land Beyond the Sunset (The Sunset Lands Beyond Book 1)

AERISIA: LAND BEYOND THE SUNSET will be Free!

In this fantasy series, Hannah Winters has gone from Earth to Aerisia, college student to prophesied savior. She must now contend with danger, betrayal, and romance, while mastering a new skill… magic. Click HERE!

 

The Amazing Adventures of Toby the Trilby (The Toby the Trilby Series Book 1)

THE AMAZING ADVENTURES OF TOBY THE TRILBY will be Free!

A Middle Grade Christian Dystopian SciFi! Click HERE!

 

The Devil’s Due (The Blackwell Files Book 5)

THE DEVIL’S DUE will be Free! A Thriller/mystery, former soldiers Alton Blackwell and Mallory Wilson are pulled back to Afghanistan to rescue a teenage friend whose Al-Qaeda uncle has nefarious plans for her. As they race to recover the teen, they battle Al-Qaeda terrorists, a resurgent cult, and a web of intrigue in which the label of friend and foe is not easily assigned.  Click HERE!

Homemade bows and arrows

It’s our last few weeks before school starts, and we’ve been packing in the summer fun. Swimming, baking, gaming, you name it.

A windstorm had knocked a bunch of sticks and branches out of the trees, so I decided to try making bows and arrows.

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They sort of got the idea. Without knives to whittle notches into the sticks, we had to make do with finding sticks that were broken or forked in just the right place to attach the string. They fired “arrows” about five feet, which is pretty good for a dry stick and some yarn.

Afterward, the kids untied the string and made them into fishing poles. Versatile!

Cover reveal: Forged Steel

A while back, I beta read a fun little story for a friend. It was about a computer nerd, who loves figuring out crazy number problems, getting sucked into solving an unsolved mathematical riddle that involves the Fey. It was a fun, action-packed Young Adult read with no objectionable content–just fairies, trolls, goblins, all running around in an urban setting.

Well, now the book is finally nearing release, and here’s the cover reveal!

Forged-Steel-cover

Summary:

Downton. Coffee shop. 2 AM.

One minute, Josh is firing off sarcastic remarks at his best friend Marc – the next, they’re running from shape-shifters. Apparently, even best friends don’t share all their secrets.

Now Josh is in danger. He can see the monsters among the humans.

When Marc is kidnapped, Josh finds himself pulled into the schemes of the fae courts, and throws in his lot with Marc’s allies: the lovely Larae, a human named David, and the fighter, Eliaster. But what began as a rescue mission becomes something much more involved…

And all Josh wants to do is get out before it’s too late.

Forged Steel is a new adult urban fantasy by H. A. Titus, releasing on July 17th. It will be available in print (Amazon) and ebook (Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, iBooks, and Scribd) If you’d like a chance to win free books, ask questions, and hear trivia about the writing/publishing of Forged Steel, there will be a Facebook event party on July 17th from 7-9 pm eastern time on the author’s page, H. A. Titus Author.

The first five chapters are available for preview on Wattpad.

July lethargy

Can you believe that it’s already July? Out here in AZ, school starts in a month. I’ve been planning our next school year … slowly … because it’s so hot, it’s hard to function.

This is one of the places I’d rather be right now.

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Welcome to Oregon! From InterfaceLIFT

Barring that, we’ve hit the pool every morning before it’s gotten too hot. That’s pretty much been it for summer activities … when it’s 110 every day, it’s just hard to summon the desire to leave the air conditioning. I see why these southwest societies sleep through the heat of the day and stay up half the night. That’s the only time you feel alive, man!

I read these homeschool books about exposing kids to wonderful music and art, and letting their creativity flourish. So I get these grandiose ideas about teaching my kids the ways of Mozart and Beethoven, and maybe having somebody be a breakout music protege … and we wind up listening to Raffi for hours. (Ring ring ring, bananaphone!)

I read about letting them be bored so they invent things to do with their imaginations. What that looks like in practice is play > arguing > fighting.

Me: Why don’t you guys play the new Terraria update?

Sigh. Good intentions.