Wednesday Wanderings: Fun Facts, Life In One Cubic Foot, Bear-Sized Alien Life, and Baby Goat Cuteness

A young goat jumps over a meadow during warm and sunny weather at Gut Aiderbichl in Henndorf in the Austrian province of Salzburg, Monday, April 7, 2014. Gut Aiderbichl is a place of mercy for rescued animals. Weather forecasts predict good weather conditions with mild temperatures for the upcoming days in Austria. (AP Photo/Kerstin Joensson)

Let’s start this week with some fun facts. Keep them around for your next trivia game:

Fun Facts

Photographer David Liittschwager has been taking a box, one cubic foot in size, to various locations around the world and photographing the life found in that space. Now, he’s helping students, from fifth grade to college age, do the same:

Life In One Cubic Foot

This is a kind of interesting theory on how big alien life forms may be. There are reasons to dispute the formula, but it is something to think about:

Alien Life

Finally, is there anything cuter than baby goats? I didn’t think so:

Baby Goats

(The photo is from the Huffington Post.)

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Six of One

Six of One: A Collection of Short Fantasy by M.A. Kropp is a set of short fantasy stories. Meet wizards, imps, gangster angels, and frogs in this group of varied tales of magic and mischief. Escape from the everyday into worlds of fantasy with Six of One: A Collection of Short Fantasy.

Download a free sample or purchase in your favorite ebook format at:

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/354855

Also available at:

Amazon: (Now also in paperback)

http://amzn.to/1brIXLN

 Apple iTunes Bookstore

 Barnes and Noble:

http://bit.ly/17DmCXz

Kobo:

http://bit.ly/16ZWZXf

Google Play:

https://play.google.com/store/books/details/M_A_Kropp_Six_of_One?id=C6N_BAAAQBAJ

Monday Musings: New Fiction Coming, What Happened to the Weekend?, and the Great Outdoors (or at least, My Yard).

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I’ve not been doing a very good job of getting the news out that I have new fiction coming out later this month (I hope!), but it is coming still. It’s a science fiction story, and could be called either a long short story or a short novelette, depending on where you draw your word count lines. Whichever way you go, it is a short, not novel length. It is called “Survival of the Fittest,” and it’s a bit dystopian, although it does have hope, since I am not the full-on gloom and doom type. Here’s the description:

A hundred years after Earth’s final environmental collapse, the human population is scattered, living in deep caves or underground to escape the heat and radiation that still ravage the planet. But some species adapted better to the changes. Sam, a genetically engineered lizard, is part of an ongoing program to discover what allowed his kind to evolve so quickly. Intelligent, able to communicate, and make decisions, is Sam a person or an experiment? When another survivor of the devastation threatens the promising food crops being developed, Sam may be given the chance to prove himself.

“Survival of the Fittest” is a short novelette, set in a future dystopian Earth, where humans have caused the destruction of much of the climate. It will be available from the finest e-book retailers soon.

Again, it should be available as an e-book toward the end of the month.

This past weekend was a good one, but I realized this morning it seemed to go by awfully fast. Not that this is surprising. Most weekends seem to fly by. Thing is, I’m not really sure what went on over those two days. Saturday was pretty much a lay-back and do nothing much day, and Sunday, we went on the pack walk with Lambeau, and the BaldMan mowed the lawn, but again, it was a quiet, slow sort of day. We did sit on the deck for a bit in the evening, having a snack and drinks, while we waited for the grill to get up to temperature. It’s nice to be able to do that again. At least until the mosquitoes show up.

We did not get out for a bike ride this weekend. Both of us were having some uncomfortableness, so we decided not to push it. I was kind of glad. I mean, I certainly could use the exercise, but this was just a weird sort of weekend and I had no enegy at all.

The garden is beginning to grow, finally. The pea vines are getting bigger every day, the beans are sprouting, and there are radish, lettuce, and greens shoots poking through. The tomato, pepper, and other seeds I started indoors are growing and waiting for their turn to be added to the garden proper. I planted flower seeds this year in the deck boxes and the front planter. They are growing, also. I transplanted the chives from the porch into one of the deck boxes. We have chives growing indoors, but I think the purple flowers of the chive plants are pretty, so I put them in the box to let them flower. The birds are at the feeders and the birdbath all the time. Glad to see both male and female oriole back this year. And the cardinal pair, also. I have also seen hummingbirds at the feeders occasionally, so they are back, also. We are getting red-winged blackbirds this year, as well. I also have the usual chickadees, blue jays, nuthatches, titmice, purple finches, and goldfinches, as well as sparrows and wrens. I like having the birds around. They add color and sound to the yard.

The pond is up and running now. I trimmed the dead stalks from the reeds, and they are greening up nicely. The Siberian iris at the edge of the pond are coming nicely, and, I think, will need splitting this year. I’ll just put in a few more bunches around the pond edge. I do like the color of those, and the yellow flag iris that are mixed in.

It’s really nice to see all the green and color out there now. After a long, tiring Winter, it is a welcome sight, at least to me!

Friday Interview: Ryan Nelson, Author of Gravity+

humanplus copy

Today, I am doing an interview with Ryan Nelson, a California writer whose YA novel,  Gravity+, is available now for pre-order on Amazon, with versions for Nook, Kobo, and other readers to follow. The pre-order link is below.

Ryan T. Nelson lives, primarily, in his own little world. One filled with Goblins, Ghouls, Monsters, and the Fantastic. But don’t worry, they know him there. When he isn’t creating monsters and fantasy creatures or building worlds and advanced civilizations in his head, Ryan lives in Southern California with his wife and children. He is a lover of books, fountain pens, pockets watches, and motorcycles.

About Gravity+:

When the ship landed we shouldn’t have gone near it. We really should have run away, called the police, the media, the FBI, anything other than what we actually did.

We were ten high school kids. Six friends and four bullies.

Now, after the ship, we’re so much more.

More than Human.

But the other four are dangerous, and unless my friends and I learn to control the powers that we have been given the others are going to hurt so many innocent people.

I don’t want to be a hero. I don’t want to risk my family and my friends. But the police won’t be able to handle what’s coming their way. If we don’t stop him, then no one else on Earth can.

A new species of the human race has begun.

The Human+ have arrived.

Gravity+ is available now for pre-order order on Amazon Kindle at the following link.

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00XK41H2I

1) Tell us a little about yourself.

My name is Ryan Nelson. I’m a husband, father, writer, and motorcycle enthusiast. I’ve lived my entire life in Southern California and couldn’t really imagine living anywhere else.

2) Where did you get the idea for your story?

That’s a little difficult to define. I was thinking about some old series from when I was younger in books and cartoons and I wanted to do something with superheroes. I’ve loved comic books my entire life so the story just gradually grew out of that love of the genre.

3) What was your favorite part to write?

Definitely the climactic fight sequence. That was a lot of fun and I loved the interaction between Richard and Carlos as they were coming up with their plan of attack.

4) The biggie (LOL): Planner or discovery writer?

A little bit of both actually. I outline chapters and individual scenes as ideas come to me. But when I actually get to writing, I rather quickly go off script and start making things up as I go.

5) Who are some of your favorite writers? Why?

Piers Anthony, Tolkien, Bruce Coville, Neil Gaiman, Patricia C. Wrede, Dean Koontz, Anne McCaffrey and more.

The common link is their rich imaginations. They create whole worlds and civilizations with structure and rules that make sense even in a made up world where the rules don’t HAVE to make sense.

That always inspired me when I was younger,  and they are among the examples that I strive to reach.

Wednesday Wanderings: Promoting Gender Stereotypes, Muppets Back on TV, Spring, and Bright Spots on Ceres

Muppets

Today’s list of stuff from around the Web:

I know I posted this on my social media this week, but it bears sending out again, to anyone who may have missed it. There are so many things wrong with this decision by these toy companies:

Black Widow Not Included

On a happier note, The Muppets are coming back to TV! Wheeeee! Here’s the trailer for the new show, which will be completely different from the original:

Muppet Show

Here’s a little essay about Spring, now that Winter seems to be gone for good:

Spring Defined

Bright spots on Ceres may be resolved soon, as the Dawn spacecraft gets closer to being drawn into orbit:

Ceres

Monday Musings: Knee Solution, Movie Time, Weekend Work and Play, and Writing Updates

IMG_0787

Went to see the D.O. at our doctor’s office on Monday for my knee. He thinks it is an arthritis flare, not the bursitis my doctor thought. He said he didn’t detect any bursitis or ligament or tendon issues. But there definitely is swelling and discomfort. He gave me a steroid injection, and, Holy Drug Test Failure, Batman, has it ever helped! For the first time in a long time, my knee does not hurt when I walk the dog. I even managed to kneel on it for a while outside today, and it feels pretty good right now. I am pleased. I just hope it lasts until I go back in a few weeks.

I will finally get to see Age of Ultron this week. Stephanie and I are going on Thursday afternoon. I like the fact that my Marvel movie partner has days off during the week. Afternoon show, nice quiet theater. Ah, yes!

Saturday was yard work day. The BaldMan did some fallen branch clean-up, put the mower deck on the tractor, and mowed the lawn. I planted a lot of stuff in the garden and watered it in, planted the container for the front porch and the back deck (I am starting a mix of flowers from seed this year), and did the first clean-up of the pond and got the filter and waterfall running. I need to wait until the filter cleans up some of the stirred-up muck off the bottom to see what else needs to be scooped out. I also transplanted some chives to a box planter on the porch. In the evening, I sat down with a nice drink and some chips, salsa, and guacomole, followed by steak, rice pilaf, and asparagus. It was a good day.

Sunday was another walk day for Lambeau with the group of dogs we’ve been walking with. It will be interesting to see how this week goes. I put him in a prong collar. Yeah, I know. I was reluctant to do it, too. But he is just too darned strong for me to be effective controlling him when he gets overexcited and wants to go. We were not really making much progress on teaching him to be calm around other dogs. We’ve been working with it for a week now, and he is responding to very light corrections, even with other dogs around. I hope it works to remind him to listen to me, and not lose control and try to take off.

And after the walk, we are hoping to get out on the bikes for the first time this year. That should feel good. It won’t be a long ride this time, since we haven’t been on them for months, and will most likely need to build up some strength and endurance. Still, I’m looking forward to it. Our trikes are fun!

For Mother’s Day dinner, the menu included sangria, smoked ribs, and potato salad. Mmmmmmmm!

If you follow my Facebook author page, you have seen this already. I am going to try to get more stuff out on the ebook sale sites from now on. Most of it will be shorter: long(ish) short stories, novelettes, maybe a novella. I want to try to get something out every month or so. And still work on the novel length stories, of course. With a goal of at least one every year. The first is (right now) scheduled for later this summer- maybe July or August. And the first short piece should be out at the end of this month. If all goes according to plan. If I figure out what I want for covers. If I finish the edits and revisions. Gah! That sounds like too many ifs!

(Picture is the pond from last year- all cleaned up and running, which it will look like again, soon.)

Wednesday Wanderings: Practice Smarter, Computers Writing News Stories, 3D Floor Tiles, and Nature Photos

interior-design-ideas-3d-ocean-epoxy-polimer-floors

Here are this weeks links from around and about. Enjoy!

An interesting article on how to practice smarter, not harder. It’s all in the mistakes:

Practice Smarter

Will our future news stories be written by a computer?:

News Algorithms

3-D tiles that turn floors into art:

3-D Floors

Last, how about a nice, relaxing slideshow of natural places in natural light. There is beauty everywhere in this world:

Pretty Photos of Nature

(Image from http://www.mirror.co.uk)

Monday Musings: Weekend Madness, Spring has Sprung, and May the Fourth Be With You

forsythia

We were in Somers, CT for the 30th annual New England Regional Chili Cook Off this weekend. We did not cook. I was scorekeeper and the BaldMan was Chief Judge for one of the cook offs. Yes, I said “one of.” There were two cook offs, both on Saturday. One in the morning and one in the afternoon. It was… interesting. It was also hectic, sometimes confusing, exhausting, and one hell of a lot of work. But it was also a gorgeous day, got a good crowd, and we qualified some really good cooks for the World’s Championship Cook Off. We got to CT on Friday and came home on Sunday. I am still brain dead, and physically tired. Even so, it was a great weekend. Although I have to say, I don’t think I ever want to do a two-fer again!

Spring is in full force here now. The forsythia at the back door is in all its glory, and tulips, daffodils, and hyacinths are popping up everywhere. The weather has warmed up nicely and I have a few things planted in the garden already. The asparagus is starting to get tall enough to cut. The grass is green and the birds are nesting. Yes, I think Spring is finally here!

Today is Star Wars Day. So when you see all the postings of May the Fourth Be With You, you will know why. I am looking forward to the new movie. So far, it seems like it is going to be pretty decent. I know a lot of people didn’t like the last set of films, but I found things to like in all of them. Perfect? No, but what is? And just because something doesn’t fit your headcannon, doesn’t mean it’s bad or wrong. Now, if it doesn’t fit MY headcannon that is another story altogether. (Just kidding. You can do what you want. I’ll just fanfic it to fit my idea of how the story should go. :) )

I think that is about it for this week. My brain is tired, and I can’t think of anything else I need to say. Have a good week! May the Fourth Be With You!

Author Solutions and Friends: The Inside Story

M.A. Kropp:

If you are considering self-publishing, read this. And beware.

Originally posted on David Gaughran:

ASandfriendsweboptAuthor Solutions has forged partnerships with a long list of famous names in publishing – from Simon & Schuster and Hay House to Barnes & Noble and Reader’s Digest.

Recent disclosures in various lawsuits, along with information sent to me by a Penguin Random House source, detail for the very first time exactly how these partnerships work and the damage they are causing.

Since a second suit was filed at the end of March, Author Solutions is now facing two class actions, with the new complaint alleging unjust enrichment and exploitation of seniors on top of the usual claims of fraud and deceptive practices. It also has a wonderfully precise summary of Author Solutions’ operations:

Author Solutions operates more like a telemarketing company whose customer base is the Authors themselves. In other words, unlike a traditional publisher, Author Solutions makes money from its Authors, not for them. It does so…

View original 2,915 more words

Wednesday Wanderings: German Castles, R2-Me2, Useful Hair Clip, and 25 Years of Hubble

R2ME2Dalek

This week’s collection of interesting stuff from around the Interwebs:

I love castles. All sorts of castles. Here’s a look at some of the best castles in Germany:

German Castles

As part of the Star Wars celebration, Sideshow Collectibles asked 90 artists to re-imagine R2-D2 in new ways. Some of these are quite clever:

R2-Me2

Someone needs to get me this:

Multi-tool Hair Clip

Last, a slideshow of some breathtaking images from the Hubble Space Telescope, which is 25 years old now:

Hubble Anniversary Photos

(Photo from Sideshow Collectibles)

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Six of One

Six of One: A Collection of Short Fantasy by M.A. Kropp is a set of short fantasy stories. Meet wizards, imps, gangster angels, and frogs in this group of varied tales of magic and mischief. Escape from the everyday into worlds of fantasy with Six of One: A Collection of Short Fantasy.

Download a free sample or purchase in your favorite ebook format at:

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/354855

Also available at:

Amazon: (Now also in paperback)

http://amzn.to/1brIXLN

 Apple iTunes Bookstore

 Barnes and Noble:

http://bit.ly/17DmCXz

Kobo:

http://bit.ly/16ZWZXf

Google Play:

https://play.google.com/store/books/details/M_A_Kropp_Six_of_One?id=C6N_BAAAQBAJ

Story Time: Five and Daemon, Part 2

pencil

I was supposed to get this up yesterday, I know. It was a long weekend, and yesterday needed to be a bit of a recovery day. But here it is, a day late, but here.

Here is the link to Part 1, in case you missed it or need to re-read:

Five and Daemon, Part One

Five and Daemon

by

M.A. Kropp

Part Two

The beat-up yellow two-door rattled down the main street of Carroll Fork.
“Hick town, for sure.” Cerise slumped back against the torn vinyl seatback. Johnny chuckled as he parked the car in front of Essie’s Eats. The building was painted light blue with bright white trim. Through the large front windows, they could see people sitting at tables. It looked fairly busy, a good sign in a small town restaurant. Johnny turned the car off, and climbed out. Cerise waited on the sidewalk as he came around the car. They walked up to the door of the diner under a navy blue and white striped canopy. Johnny pulled open the door to the jingling of bells.
“Just pick any empty seat, folks.” The woman who spoke from behind the counter smiled through bright red painted lips. “Someone will be right with you. You want coffee?” Johnny nodded and led Cerise to a booth along the front wall near the back of the room. Cerise sat facing the room and began scanning. The plump woman came over with two cream-colored ceramic mugs and a pot of coffee. The name tag on her shirt read “Essie.” She filled the mugs and dropped a handful of creamers on the table. The sound of crashing dishes made all three jump, and caused Essie to splash coffee on the table top. She pulled a towel from the pocket of her bright blue apron and wiped the spill.
“Sorry about that, folks,” Essie said as she tucked the towel back in the pocket and turned toward the counter where the crash occurred.
“Fran! That’s the third time this morning! What has gotten into you?” Essie set the coffee pot down on the counter and bent to pick up the dropped plates of food. “We’ll be out of eggs and plates before lunch if this keeps up.” The waitress who dropped the plates was staring down at the mess on the floor. One hand was twisted in the green scarf around her neck. She looked like she was trying to suppress a fit of giggles.
Johnny tipped his head toward her. Cerise nodded.
“The scarf,” she said. Johnny reached for the sugar canister. Cerise slapped a hand down on his arm.
“I wouldn’t use that, if I were you.” Johnny stopped, glancing up at her.
“Oh, you have got to be kidding me?” Johnny said, pulling his hand back. “The sugar?” Cerise grinned.
“Well, the container,” she replied. “The scarf. That hat sitting next to the old guy at the counter. And the god-awful necklace that woman is wearing.” Johnny followed her gaze down the line of tables to an older woman with stereotypical blue hair. Around her neck was a collection of large, brightly-colored shapes: striped, polka-dotted, and solid colors. It clashed with everything she wore. Cerise shook her head.
“Must be some fancy pants demon in that thing. Or it better be, ‘cause if she picked that out because she likes it…” Cerise trailed off with a shake of her head. Johnny glanced down at the coffee in his mug. “Coffee’s fine. So is the mug. But lots of stuff in here isn’t. Something very weird is going on here.”
Johnny picked up his mug and took a sip of the hot coffee. It wasn’t bad. He glanced around the diner. It seemed like a fairly normal place- small two and four seat tables arranged neatly in the larger room at the other end of the diner, a counter along the back wall on this side with swivel stools lined up in front, and tables with banquette benches along the windows across from the counter. A long open pass-through looked into the kitchen behind the counter. . The blonde waitress walked up to their table.
“Morning,” she said. “Sorry about the commotion. I have no idea what’s got into me lately. Had a chance to look at the menus yet?” Johnny looked up at her, but before he could say anything, the green scarf she had tied around her neck began wailing.
“You’ve been made,” Cerise said. Her green eyes were focused on the scarf. “And it ain’t happy to see you, Johnny.”
“Yeah, I gathered that,” Johnny answered. He slid off the bench and stood looking down at the waitress, who was clawing at the shrieking scarf. Her face was pale, and her hands shook as she tried to pull it off. The scarf was flipping back and forth, avoiding her hands. It pulled out to one side, dragging the waitress away from the table and toward the back of the restaurant.
“Cerise!” Johnny followed the struggling form of the waitress.
“Coming!” Cerise jumped from her side of the bench and ran to where Johnny had the waitress cornered in the short hall that held the restrooms. Cerise stopped next to Johnny, and grabbed his hand. She closed her eyes and went still. Johnny’s eyes unfocused for a moment. He blinked once and was seeing the hall through what looked like a distortion lens. Everything in the hall was stretched and slightly out of focus, except the woman standing with her back to the wall at the end of the hall. The shrieking stopped as Johnny started walking toward her. He could see the trail of daemonflash from the scarf around her neck to somewhere behind her. He stopped in front of her.
“Out with you,” he said. The only response he got was a giggle that sounded like it was coming from the wall. He spoke to the waitress.
“Can you take a step to the side, Fran?” He read her name from the tag she wore pinned to her t-shirt. He put a hand gently on her arm and moved her aside. The daemonflash drew out into a thin line as she moved. It ended in the hands of a small demon. It was only two feet tall, with long, thin horns, and gray, leathery skin. Johnny let out a long breath.
“Seriously? An imp? Well, that explains the dropped dishes.” He took one step closer to the little demon. It ignored him, spinning the thread of daemonflash into a thick rope.
“I said, out with you.” The imp didn’t move. Johnny sighed and reached into his pocket. He pulled out the silver yo-yo and snapped it out on its string to knock the imp on the head. It looked up at the blow, and the daemonflash cord faltered. Watching for the opportunity, Cerise darted forward and grabbed the waitress’ hand. She pulled her back down the hall toward the dining room.
“Toss the scarf!” Cerise shouted. The waitress pulled the scarf off and threw it back toward Johnny and the imp.
“Well, now that I’ve got your attention,” Johnny said, tucking the yo-yo back into his pocket. The imp bared short, sharp-looking fangs. Johnny laughed. “Yeah? I could do more damage with my yo-yo. Now, let’s see. Where were we? Oh, yeah. You were on your way out of here, and back under whatever rock you crawled out of.” He pointed his right index finger at the imp.
“Begonia, demon!” The imp raised its head and keened a long, high note. Johnny waved his hand at it, and it disappeared. Johnny spun on his heels, hands stretched out at his sides, and began a showy bow. He stopped short when he realized there was no one else in the hall.
“Hmph. What good is the show without an audience?” He walked back into the dining room, picking up the scarf as he went.

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Six of One

Six of One: A Collection of Short Fantasy by M.A. Kropp is a set of short fantasy stories. Meet wizards, imps, gangster angels, and frogs in this group of varied tales of magic and mischief. Escape from the everyday into worlds of fantasy with Six of One: A Collection of Short Fantasy.

Download a free sample or purchase in your favorite ebook format at:

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/354855

Also available at:

Amazon: (Now also in paperback)

http://amzn.to/1brIXLN

 Apple iTunes Bookstore

 Barnes and Noble:

http://bit.ly/17DmCXz

Kobo:

http://bit.ly/16ZWZXf

Google Play:

https://play.google.com/store/books/details/M_A_Kropp_Six_of_One?id=C6N_BAAAQBAJ

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