Monday, January 20, 2014

When patience pays off

Researchers have aerial footage of a penguin colony taken by none other than a caracara (a bird of prey) that thought it was stealing an egg. If you haven't seen this, you have to check it out.



(This is the work of John Downer Productions, one of a series of films made by placing cameras in the midst of a group of animals to record footage of behaviors we don't typically observe.)

Impressive, no? 

Footage like this reminds me how much I loved studying animals--of the incredible, unexpected things they sometimes do.

Of course, it also reminds me that in order to get this footage, someone had to spend countless hours sitting in a hide not far from the rookery. Creature comforts tend to be lacking, back muscles spasm, and a game of canasta (or any other activity that involves other people) beckons like the golden light at the end of a long, dark tunnel. But then, for a scientist or photographer out to capture something incredible, that's just part of the daily grind.

Sometimes, something happens to make all the waiting worthwhile.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Celebrating success

Confession time: I thought I'd be wrapping up 2013 with a big announcement. I had it written in my head. Things were about to happen. Then, in early December, it all fell through. After eight months of back and forth with a wonderful agent, she ultimately decided my work was too similar to those of her existing clients, and, well, it wouldn't behoove any of us for her to take me on.

It was devastating.

But she was right.

Now I'm trying to pick myself up and get my work out there again. It's not easy, not when I'd let myself get so invested. But I need to move on, and what better way to do that than to focus on recent successes!

Thames Festival Firework Display Blackfriars - geograph.org.uk - 40284
by Christine Matthews
I have two new stories out in Science News for Students:

Caught in the act looks at how animals adapt to a rapidly changing world. Humans are changing the world faster than ever (in fact, we are now considered to be THE driving force of change on the planet, the focus of another story that should be out in a month or two), and only animals that can adapt in time will be able to survive the transition. "Caught in the act" provides some hope on that front.

Why are bees vanishing?, out today, examines the latest scientific findings that are unraveling the mystery of colony collapse disorder. With one-third of the food on our tables requiring pollination by bees and other pollinators, their disappearance is nothing to ignore. And pesticide use--around the home and garden--might be a major culprit, even when used in moderation. You can find out better ways to control pests in my explainer, How to limit the need for pesticides.

Things are moving forward. As they should.

What successes are you celebrating?

Thursday, January 2, 2014

A fresh start

Happy New Year!


May you unearth treasure in the coming year!
It's a quiet time of year around here (if you don't count the invisible-nunchuck swinging children dancing around my living room as I write this). It's a time of reflection--looking back on the past year and taking stock of how well I worked toward my goals, devising a plan to further them in the coming year, and adding new goals to replace those I accomplished.

Here's hoping we all succeed in accomplishing what we set out for ourselves this year.

What do you hope to accomplish?

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Seize the moment

I was planning to post about something else, but that has to take a backseat to the exciting launch of this Kickstarter campaign by my dear friend and critique partner, Julie Hedlund.

Julie is an extremely talented writer, creator of award-winning storybook apps, and is now developing a hybrid publishing model for her newest book, My Love For You is the Sun. (As I said, she's talented.)



My Love For You is the Sun celebrates a parent's love for a child with lyrical words and stunning clay illustrations by Susan Eaddy. (See above!)

The only way this beautiful book will become a reality is through a crowd-funding effort to fund the initial print run. This unusual approach allowed Julie to choose her own illustrator (anyone familiar with publishing will know that's typically taboo). And as you can see, the results will be out of this world.

If you have any interest in books that celebrate the bond between parents and children, please consider supporting Julie's project. I, for one, can't wait to have the book in my hands.