Snowy Owls

It’s one of those strange days when I just couldn’t think of anything to write. These things happen to writers, and sometimes, we just have to force our fingers to begin randomly hitting the keys of our keyboards and hope what comes out will have some semblance of order, or failing that, that our editors can make heads or tails of what we’re trying to say. So as I was sitting here trying desperately to figure out what to say during this non-writing theme, sorta holiday concept blog hop, and staring out at the snow-covered hillside beyond my window, an idea hit. Write something about Snowy Owls. I have a wildlife rehabber in an upcoming book, snowies have been in the news of late, it’s winter, and owls are always awesome. So here we go—a quick blog about Snowy Owls.

snowy-owl

Now a fast note here, since I like to check some of my facts when doing blog post like this. I just found out that, per mitochondrial DNA studies, Snowy Owls are in the same branch of the owl family tree as horned owls. I can see it. Snowies are large owls with well-feathered feet. I personally have never dealt with a snowy owl, but I have dealt with several Great Horned Owls in both rehab and educational settings, so I can’t vouch for similarities in personalities. Maybe someone will be kind enough to comment on it. Basic facts: Snowy Owls range in size from 20-28 inches in length with a 49-59 inch wingspan and weigh between three to seven pounds. That’s a fair amount of owl. They start out white with black stripes/markings. Over time, the males molt out most of their black stripes and the females a few of them. This sexual dimorphism is unusual in owls as most cannot be easily sexed by color. Like all raptors, or birds of prey, they have differences in size between the sexes, with the female being about a third larger than the males.

snowy-owl-flying-across-a-field-in-falling-snow

For the most part, Snowy Owls are found above the 60-degree latitude north line. Depending on weather conditions, they are occasionally pushed south in search of prey and more hospitable conditions. Now when you consider that a Snowy Owl is an arctic species, things have to be pretty frigid to push them south for the winter. Like most owls, they are extremely opportunistic predators with a particular liking for lemmings. In fact, Snowy Owl populations follow a similar bell curve to lemmings. An average Snowy Owl can consume up to 1,600 lemmings over the course of a year. When the lemmings are in short supply, Snowy Owls head south in search of things like rabbits, rats, mice, ducks, pheasants, basically anything that fits in their razor-sharp talons.Snowy_Owl_2

The past few days, Snowy Owls have made the news as a major cold front pushed them down into the northern U.S. Folks are spotting the brilliant white birds in some unusual places. But what brought them out to the news is an order in New York to shoot them if they are spotted at airports. There’s been a huge public outcry to this and the order has been restated and they are now being trapped and relocated. This is a much better response to finding owls than shooting them. Not only is it a cruel and stupid thing to do, but all raptors are protected by the Migratory Bird Act and it’s illegal to kill them. For me, the fact that the authorities actually listened to the public outcry is a good thing. Sometimes those in charge really do hear what the people have to say. There is hope for people and the wonderful creatures that share our world.

I like owls. They are incredibly awesome creatures. The fact that I manage to work a few into my stories now and then is even better. There are others that also manage to work owls into their work. I won’t even bother mentioning the most famous Snowy Owl in the fictional worlds. So keep your eyes open, I know I am. We spotted a Snowy Owl a couple of years ago, and hopefully, we will spot more this year. If it’s going to be a frigid winter, these birds might be the bright spot in an otherwise dreary winter for many people. So let their white and black wings carry a bit of joy and happiness this holiday season.

oicchristmas

Now for the paperwork part of this blog hop. Here are the links for yesterday’s Blog with Caitlin Ricci and tomorrow’s blogs with Cari Z. (to be added at time of posting) Please stop by and see what some of my other author friends have to talk about during this awesome Colorado M/M writers winter holiday blog hop. Also there will be a giveaway. Be sure to check out the home page for more details.

 

Hop Against Homophobia and Transphobia

Hey Folks, It’s time for another hop

2013 2

For everyone who leaves a comment, you’ll be entered to win an ebook. Either a copy of “The Cowboy The Clown and The Fire” or “Passion’s Storm” your pick. For extra chances to win, be sure to follow me on twitter and Facebook. The drawing for winners will be May 27th.

Also, be sure to click the link in the picture above, or here to go to more awesome blogs that are participating in the hop.

Homeless LGBT Youth

The teen years are hard for nearly everyone. For LGBT youth is can be harder still. During this time, people begin to express their sexuality and sexual identity. There are a lot of people out in the world that aren’t prepared to great their children’s differences with anything but hate. Hate is the worst thing that people can do at any time, but during the formative years it can leave lasting scars. Many teens and younger, when they reveal their sexuality, become the targets of abuse and neglect which can culminate in complete abandonment.

It is estimated that up to forty percent of the upwards of 3 million homeless youth are LGBT. This number is higher than the national average of people with home, which is about ten percent. And the percentages of those teens who find themselves victims of further abuse both sexual and none sexual is much higher than their straight counter parts.

The sad part of this is that many of the homeless LGBT youth are actually cast out of their homes by parents or guardians that cannot accept their lifestyle due to religious beliefs. They turn their back on their own offspring because of the hate that they believe comes from the bible. They don’t stop to realize that there is no real basis for their fear. This is something that can and has been argued extensively over the years, so I won’t go into it here and now, but it is a plague of stupidity that has to stop if we’re going to save these lost teens and ultimately our world. (It’s going to take a lot more than clearing up false sexuality beliefs to fix our world, but it would be a start.)

I’m one of the lucky ones. My parents, although from religious families, aren’t religious. The same goes for my partner’s parents. They all believe that even if they don’t understand, we’re their kids and they love us, regardless of who we are and who we love. I’ve been told by many of my friends over the years that they wished they had my parents. I think that if more parents in the world were like mine, it would be a better place. I do have relatives that we don’t talk about certain subjects around, but it’s not something that is avoided around my parent’s home.

I never had to worry about being homeless due to my sexuality, due to my finances, that’s a totally different story. In our corporate-ravaged world, there’s a growing number of people who are homeless due to finances. A lot of these people have LGBT children and that complicates their ability to find shelter and aid. Many of the homeless aid charities out there revolve around religious groups. Again they want to force their world view on the already emotionally battered people that come to them for help. LGBT youth, who don’t want to be something they’re not, are not welcome in these places and many times their families are faced with the tough choices of what to do, because many times they have more children than just their LGBT ones. Families can be torn apart by this, it’s not fair.

As a writer, I take pride in the fact that my words can help shape people’s opinions and overall thought processes. Writing has been liked to a form of mental healing. We hold a lot of power in our minds, fingers and keyboards. That power can either be used for good or evil. I’m sure that there are a lot of religious zealots out there that think that what I do is harmful, but I hope that through my stories, I can help mend the damage their hate does on our world. Hopefully my readers will share the love of my stories with others and through that help open a few minds and maybe, over time, more and more LGBT youth and adults will find themselves in loving, caring families that understand the concept of unconditional love.

In my current work in progress, “The Falconer’s Lure” hopefully book four of Ren Fair Romances, one of my main characters is a homeless 19 year old who was thrown out on the streets at the age of 17 when his parents discovered he was gay. He’s survived a lot and wants nothing more than someone to care about him. That’s what most people want, is someone to care about them and that they can care about in turn. As humans, we can’t care about something that we fear. It’s time to stop being afraid of those that people see as different. It’s time to stop the hate.

“The Jouster’s Lance” Release Day

After lots of work, I’m thrilled to announce that “The Jouster’s Lance” was released today by Dreamspinner Press. It’s the first book of Ren Faire Romances. The second book “The Satyr’s Song” is under contract already due out in September or October. The third book “The Archer’s Arrow” is currently in review.

The Jouster's Lance

Blurb

Dale O’Toole, aka Diederik, the Demon Duke of Denmark, takes his Renaissance festivals seriously. He has been on the jousting circuit for five years and enjoys his gypsy lifestyle, traveling to faires around the country. It’s fun and he has good friends.

Austin Renfro has worked in a pirate gift shop at the Colorado Renaissance Festival for several years but has a life outside the medieval fantasy world. When Austin spies Dale during the first joust of the season, he knows he must find a way to meet him, even if the jousters and royal cast don’t normally associate with the working class.

Their first chance meeting causes more than a little embarrassment for both men, but they don’t let that stop them. They try to let their budding love find its place while keeping it from becoming common knowledge. But when a particularly conservative knight catches them in flagrante, it’s bound to cause problems. After all, jousts are dangerous….

The Next Big Thing Blog Chain

Hey Folks, today is my part in The Next Big Thing blog chain. Make sure to stop and visit the links on the bottom next week to see what they have to post at that point.

What is the working title of your book?

The title of the current book is “The Satyr’s Horn” it’s book two of Renfaire Romances, the first book “The Jouster’s Lance” was picked up by Dreamspinner Press and will be released this spring.

 

Where did the idea come from for the book?

Every summer, I spend a couple of months working at the Colorado Renaissance Faire and there are a ton of characters running around there just waiting to appear in books. After completing the first book in the series, I had already come up with titles for more books and then decided which characters I wanted to us. It really was an easy process for me.

 

What genre does your book fall under?

This series is really contemporary m/m romance but being set at Renaissance Fairs give the books an almost fantasy feel to them. I think it’s fairly unique

 

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie?

Wow, this isn’t something that I normally think about. We’ll need to get back to this at a later date.

 

 

What is a one sentence synopsis of your book?

When Adrian Mylonas takes a summer job at Scarborough Renaissance Festival, the concert musician does it for a change of pace, little does he know what awaits him in the arms of the hunky elephant trainer.

 

Will your book be self published or represented by an agency?

It is my hope that Dreamspinner Press will be interested in this book to go along with “The Jouster’s Lance” making a series that will hopefully continue into several more books.

 

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

Still working on that, so this will have to be another thing I’ll get back to folks on. Normally it takes me a month or so to finish the first draft of a book.

 

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre.

To my knowledge, there’s nothing else like this on the market at this time.

 

Who or What inspired you to write this book?

As I said earlier, working at the renfair in the summers inspired this series of books. So many of the people there are awesome characters, both in and out of their renfair personas. Is the book based on particular people…no. Most of the characters are from my own creative process, but some of the outward appearances ect are things that I’ve observed at the fair.

 

What else about your book might interest the reader?

I’m hoping the originality of it will inspire folks to read it. Also there’s the opportunity to learn a bit about elephants and the working behind the scenes of the renaissance fairs that most people who go and enjoy them never stop and think about. It takes a lot of work to craft that illusion, I give you a little peek into that.

 

Next week in this blog chain please stop by and visit these great blogs.

Fatma Alici naharavensari.WordPress.com

A.M. Burns www.amburns.com

Autumn Heat

So I want to start this by apologizing for it being short and I’m hoping it will make some level of sense. The flu is trying to take over my life and all I want to do it sit around and watch TV for a few days, but let’s do a quickie blog post about the favorite things about fall.

I happen to love autumn, it’s my favorite season, followed closely by winter. Having grown up in Texas, I know that summers can get unbearably hot, and overall you can only get so naked and you can still be sweating. Being a person who likes heavy clothes, this isn’t a good thing. Now come around to the colder months and flannel comes flying out of everyone’s closets. For me, there is something comforting about the feel of a nice heavy flannel. The feel of the soft fabric is awesome under the fingers, and where there’s a burly furry guy under the flannel, all the better. Curling up with a hot guy and running my hands under his flannel shirt, it just doesn’t get much better than that.

I hope everyone enjoys the Autumn Harvest blog hop lots of other blogs to visit. Leave a comment, with your email, for a chance to win an e-copy of either “Passion’s Storm” my gay superhero romance or “The Cowboy, The Clown and The Fire” my m/m cowboy romance. If you follow the blog, twitter, and like my facebook page you’ll get an extra entry for each like and follow you make. Winner will be drawn at random on 11/13/12. A side note here, I don’t use raffle copter, just keep track of everything via spreadsheet.

Be sure to stop by other blogs to have an opportunity for some of these great prizes.

1st Grand Prize: A Kindle Fire or Nook Tablet

2nd Grand Prize: A $50 Amazon or B&N Gift Card

3rd Grand Prize: A Swag Pack that contains 10+ paperbacks, ebooks, 50+ bookmarks, cover flats, magnets, pens, coffee cozies, and more!

Another awesome winner

Wow this blog hop has been just great. So many awesome comments, it’s a good thing that the winner selection is random, otherwise it would’ve been really hard to choose a winner. But it was random so we have a winner, MaryAnn I, just respond to the email you were just send and I’ll get your free ebook sent out. Thanks to everyone who stopped by, left comments, followed on twitter and liked on facebook. You folks are amazing.

Great Blog Hop and Awesome Weekend

The Alpha Males Blog hop is going great. Don’t forget to leave a comment on the previous post to be entered into the drawing for a free ebook. Wanted to share what a great weekend this is being, not only are a lot of great people visiting the blog and leaving wonderful comments, but I just signed a deal with Dreamspinner Press for the novel “The Jouster’s Lance.” The great folks at Dreamspinner have already published two shorts of mine, “Soul Survivors” which was part of their summer daily dose this year and “On An Eagle’s Wings” which was part of “Animal Magnetism.” My experiences with them so far have been awesome and don’t expect that to change. I will keep everyone up to date as more details on “The Jouster’s Lance” become available, projected release is spring 2013.

Crafting Alpha Males

What makes an alpha male? From cowboys to superheroes, werewolves to sasquatches, what are the things that make up an alpha male? Every man likes to think of themselves as an alpha in one way or another. Many people want to be with alphas. The term alpha means first. Alpha males comes from the animal kingdom, they are the leaders of a pack, a troupe, a herd or any other group of animals. In real life some people who think of themselves as alpha males, and even alpha females can be real assholes. I don’t like being around that kind of alpha personality, and in all honesty I don’t think they should be classified as alphas, they are bullies and nothing more.

As a writer, I like to craft alphas that are strong and compassionate. They are the type of characters that I like to be, and that I like around me. I love having strong people around me, people without tons of fears, people who can go out and get things done without worrying about every little thing. It makes life interesting. It makes characters interesting. If writers were to just write about characters that let every little thing interrupt them getting stuff done, in the end no one would read the books. I think characters need to have strengths and those strengths need to be tempered with compassions, not fears. Years ago I went to a gathering and they had a hottest man contest, now it was a close call as far as looks go but the guy who won found a small kitten to hold during the contest. Sure he was hunky, but so were some of the other guys, he showed a compassionate side by holding that kitten. I think about that when I’m crafting my alpha characters. What kind of kitten can I give my alpha males to soften their edges?

How hot is the hunky cowboy who rides in on a lathered horse that before he bothers to get a drink of water worries about his horse and grooms it, feeds it and sets it out to pasture, and then takes a long draw on the water hose and splashes water down his sweaty chest? The show of caring for his trusty steed makes the character a lot more appealing to me than the guy who rides up on the horse, yells for a groom to take care of it while he runs into the house to do some sweaty ravaging. Yeah I like sweaty ravaging, but I can’t get behind the guy who doesn’t show a little compassion, no matter how hot he may be, both literally and physically. If the alpha male is going to take time to show some caring for the critters in his life, he’s going to take the time to show some real feelings for the people in his life too.

Some of this also comes into the details of a person. As a writer, it’s important for me to give my characters lots of details. It’s easy to get a cookie cutter alpha male who sees what he wants and takes it without care of the people around him. The harder thing is to build a character that has the strength and power to do that while at the same time showing caring and feelings to those around him. Words like ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ hold a lot of power in our real world, they hold just as much power in the worlds we create as our readers enjoy them. Sometime we might not even realize they are there, but they register in the back of our minds. A ‘thank you’ from a rugged man who just had breakfast cooked for him, softens the hard edges and makes him even more enjoyable than the guy who doesn’t bother to say anything wither its by design or the writer wanting to move onto another scene. Alpha males can cuddle. Cuddling is sexy. Alpha males who cuddle can be really hot. Again it’s a little detail that shows they care and will make the readers out there root for your characters even more.

I hope everyone enjoys the Alpha Male blog hop lots of other blogs to visit. Leave a comment, with your email, for a chance to win an e-copy of either “Passion’s Storm” my gay superhero romance or “The Cowboy, The Clown and The Fire” my m/m cowboy romance. If you follow the blog, twitter, and like my facebook page you’ll get an extra entry for each like and follow you make. Winner will be drawn at random on 10/22/12. A side note here, I don’t use raffle copter, just keep track of everything via spreadsheet.

Here’s a pic of all the prizes available for the grand prize. Check it out on the main site.