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C is for Cook Strait

Thursday Thirteen

Thirteen Things About Cook Strait

1. Cook Strait is the body of water separating the North and South Islands of New Zealand.

2. The strait is named after Captain James Cook who sailed through it in 1770.

3. Maori legends says Kupe (an explorer) discovered Cook Strait when he followed an enormous octopus across the strait.

4. Between 1888 and 1912 a dolphin christened Pelorus Jack used to meet and escort ships across the strait. Someone attempted to kill Pelorus Jack and a law was established to protect him.

5. The lighthouse at Pencarrow Head was the first permanent lighthouse in New Zealand.

6. It can be a very rough stretch of water. Several ships have wrecked in this region, the most famous being the Wahine disaster in 1968. The strait is part of the westerly wind belt known as the Roaring Forties, and it acts like a huge wind funnel.

7. The strait is 22 kilometers or 14 miles across at the narrowest point.

Cook Strait

8. The Narrows Basin is the deepest part of the channel with depths up to 350 meters.

9. There is a regular ferry service between Wellington in the North Island and Picton in the South Island. When it’s a nice day,the trip is fun, but when it gets rough – not so nice. I’m a good sailor but the scent of vomit isn’t pleasant!

Ferry

10. Barry Devonport was the first man to swim across the strait in 1962. It took him 11 hours and twenty minutes.

11. The first woman swam the strait in 1975. She was from the US and took twelve hours and seven minutes.

12. Abel Tasman, the Dutch Explorer thought the strait was a bay when he entered the strait in 1642.

13. The passenger ferries started back in 1875.

Sources: Wikipedia, New Zealand in History

13 Things About the Mystery Genre

tt_minimal3

Today, in honor of the contest below, my TT is all about mysteries and mystery writing.

Thirteen Things About The Mystery Genre

1. Mysteries as we know them, weren’t available to the reading public until Edgar Allen Poe introduced his fictional detective, Auguste C. Dupin in 1841.

2. His book, The Murders in the Rue Morgue, is an example of a locked room mystery. This is where the murder victim is discovered inside a sealed enclosure of some description.

3. Katherine Anne Green became the first woman to write and publish a detective mystery in 1878. Her book featured a detective who investigated a murder that occurred within a small group of people.

4. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle introduced Sherlock Holmes and his friend Doctor Watson in 1887.

5. The golden age of mystery fiction arrived in the 1920s.

6. Agatha Christie is probably the most famous mystery writer with 50 plus books to her name.

7. Police procedurals entered the market in the 1940s.

8. Some of the most popular mysteries have been written for children such as the Nancy Drew Mysteries, the Hardy Boys, Famous Five and Secret Seven.

9. The mystery genre is a popular one, and there are many subgenres including cozy mysteries, hard-boiled detective, police procedural, whodunits, capers and some mysteries drift toward thrillers.

10. It’s said that the lack of mystery fiction before the 1800s occurred because there was no organized police force.

11. Fictional detectives usually fall into four categories: amateur, private investigator, police detective and forensic specialists.

12. Sherlock Holmes is very popular at present with two television series featuring modern retellings. There is Sherlock and Elementary. Other detectives such as Agatha Christie’s Poirot and Miss Marple have also made our screen.

13. My favorite on screen mystery show is Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries featuring Phryne Fisher. It’s set in the late 1920s and is based on Australian Kerry Greenwood’s books.

Are you a mystery reader, and if so, which type do you prefer? Do you have a favorite series?

Sources: http://kids.mysterynet.com

CONTEST: Whether you’re a mystery reader or not, I hope you’ll enter the Not Your Usual Suspects mystery contest below. Complete the rafflecopter below to enter the draw to win a mystery.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

13 Facts About the Tower of London

Thursday Thirteen

If you’re a tourist in London chances are you’ll spend some time at the Tower of London. I’ve wandered through the tower, gawked at the crown jewels and checked out the ravens and beefeaters. It’s a place that breathes and sighs history.

Thirteen Facts About the Tower of London

1. The Tower was originally build by William the Conqueror and used as a palace and fortress.

2. It was never supposed to be a prison, but the inhabitants discovered that the fortress kept people in as well as keeping people out.

3. During World War II the tower was used to house prisoners of war.

4. Ravens have always been kept at the tower. At least six ravens are kept and they’re replaced if they die. It’s said if the ravens leave the tower bad luck will arrive.

Tower of London Ravens

5. The Tower of London is home to the crown jewels and has been for centuries.

6. Every night at 9:53 pm the ceremony of the keys takes place where the Queen’s Guards and the Chief Yeoman Warder lock all the gates.

7. On 6th November 2012 the keys were stolen. *gasp*

8. Only 22 executions have taken place inside the Tower of London. Most took place at nearby Tower Hill.

9. The last execution was of Lord Lovet, a Jacobite, on 9th April 1747.

10. The Tower housed the royal menagerie, which included lions, an elephant and a polar bear. The polar bear was allowed to hunt for fish in the Thames while on a leash.

11. The Duke of Wellington closed the menagerie in 1853. The animals became the first in the London zoo, which is in Regent’s Park.

12. Several ghosts haunt the tower, including Anne Boleyn, Henry VI, Lady Jane Grey, the Princes in the tower and a grizzly bear. I didn’t see any of these during my visit.

13. The Tower has been a tourist destination since Elizabethan times.

Source: www.royalcentral.co.uk

Have you visited the Tower? If not, what would you like to see?

13 Facts About Baboons and Frogs

Thursday Thirteen

Recently I’ve been plotting and planning a new series called Middlemarch Capture. One of the fun things about writing is you get to research all sorts of interesting things. This week I’ve been researching baboons and frogs for the first two books in my series.

Thirteen Things About Baboons and Frogs

We’ll start with baboons:

Baboons

1. The muzzle angles very sharply from the braincase and the face is free of hair.

2. The buttock area is naked of fur too.

3. All fingers have fingernails.

4. They hang out in troops of varied ages. If threatened the adults will protect those weaker and there are marked ranks within the troop.

5. They have powerful canines and are fierce fighters. Their main enemy is the leopard.

6. They are omnivores and eat grasses, insects, young gazelles and antelopes and sometimes others within the troop. They have also been known to kill human children.

Frog

7. Frogs are found on every continent apart from Antarctica.

8. A worrying number of frogs are becoming extinct each year.

9. Frogs are amphibians. They hatch as tadpoles and change to frogs. There are some frogs which develop directly and this enables them to live away from water.

10. Scientists call frogs an indicator species since they help to show how an ecology is functioning.

11. Frogs eat insects.

12. Different species of frogs have different shaped and colored eyes. They can be catlike, round or even heart shaped and the colors can be brown, bronze, green and red.

13. Frogs breathe and absorb moisture through their skin. Some frogs secrete a mucous through their skin. Some frogs shed their skin on a daily basis, while others stick to weekly shedding of skin. By all accounts this looks pretty freaky.

I found some very cool facts to twist and fit into my sci-fi romances. A very productive day!

What is the strangest thing you’ve researched?

13 Mistakes I made on the way to publication by Martha O’Sullivan

I’d like to welcome a special guest today – Martha O’Sullivan. Like me, she is a writer, and today she’s talking about mistakes she made on the road to publication. I’ve made some of the same mistakes. Have you? Over to Martha…

Thursday Thirteen

13 Mistakes I made on the way to publication by Martha O’Sullivan

1. I thought I needed an agent.

2. I thought I had to go through traditional publishing and print channels.

3. I thought Harlequin ruled the world.

4. I should have brought The Emotion Thesaurus by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglist before I wrote my first book instead of when I was editing my second.

5. I underestimated how generous, supportive and welcoming writers were.

6. I should have gone to RWA Nationals the year I started writing. I should have joined TARA from the get-go.

7. I should have kept reading. I started writing at night instead of reading.

8. I should always write the last chapter first. I should have known this since I find myself reading the last few pages of a book midway through chapter two.

9. I should have joined a critique group.

10. I should have shouted that I was writing from the rooftops instead of keeping it to myself.

11. I should have known the last rejection hurts just as much as the first one.

12. I should have known that writing the book was the easy part.

13. I knew how bad I wanted it, so I should have known I would do it.

But the one thing I did right? I never gave up! And here I am!

Have you made any mistakes during your writing journey? Are there things you would have done differently?

The Chances Trilogy by Martha O’Sullivan

Second Chance Chance Encounter last chance cov

Second Chance, the Chances trilogy opener, is a reunion/love triangle romance that keeps the shores of Lake Tahoe blazing hot long after the sultry summer sun has set. Chance Encounter, the trilogy’s second installment, heats up San Francisco’s chilly days and blustery nights with white-hot passion and pulse-pounding suspense. And in Last Chance, the conclusion of the trilogy, the snow-packed Sierras melt into lust-fueled puddles despite the single-digit temperatures of the Lake Tahoe winter.

Please visit Martha’s web site at www.marthaosullivan26.wix.com/marthaosullivan for excerpts, reviews and more.

The Chances trilogy by Martha O’Sullivan (http://twitter.com/@m_osullivan26)  available at: www.marthaosullivan26.wix.com/marthaosullivan

http://eredsage.com/store/OSULLIVAN_MARTHA.html Also available on: Amazon, BN.com, AllRomanceEbooks, Kobo Books and Bookstrand

BIO:

Martha O’Sullivan has loved reading romance novels for as long as she can remember. So much so that she would continue the story in her head long after the last chapter was read. Writing her own novels is the realization of a lifelong dream for this stay-at-home mom. Martha writes contemporary and erotic romances with traditional couples and happy endings. She is the author of the Chances trilogy available now from Red Sage Publishing. Her current work-in-progress is a sweet and steamy Christmas novel set in Florida. A native Chicagoan, she lives her own happy ending in Tampa with her husband and two daughters.

13 Facts About Color Therapy

Thursday Thirteen

I like color in my life, and if I’m ever feeling down, something colorful always cheers me up. Some people swear by color therapy, so I thought I’d do a little research into the subject.

Thirteen Facts About Color Therapy

1. Color therapists believe that each of the seven colors of the rainbow relate to a chakra in the human body.

2. Light moves in waves and each wave varies in length. Because each color has a different wave length, we humans can discern the range of colors.

3. The color therapist looks at a person’s health and their mood and treats the corresponding chakra. i.e. where the ailment is located.

4. The treatment can consist of colored lights, which are beamed onto the afflicted part of the body.

5. Or sometimes colored silks are worn instead of using the colored lights.

6. In 1958, US scientist Robert Gerard conducted a study and concluded that red stimulates and makes us anxious, while blue promotes calm.

7. He also showed that colour could affect the appetite, blood pressure and have a bearing on aggression.

8. Ancient Egyptian scrolls tell of using color therapy to cure various ailments. Also ancient Chinese texts have mentioned color therapy.

9. During the 20th century color therapy came into its own. The Swiss psychologist Dr Max Lüscher developed the Lüscher-Colour-Diagnostic test. The recipient selects eight coloured bottles in order of preference. The results are said to reveal your worries and their solution.

10. Color treatment is safe because it’s non evasive and is able to be used on any age group.

11. After a session, the recipients are said to feel empowered and full of life.

12. The long winters in the Northern hemisphere often make people feel depressed and the use of lights is a proven cure.

13. Darkness results in the production of melatonin which is conducive to healing and a long life. If the melatonin production does not cease with the introduction of light then lethargy and depression can occur.

Source: International Association of Color

While a part of me remains skeptical, the use of color and light does make my mood lift. I like wearing my bright red shoes or my turquoise moccasins, and I like getting outside into the daylight at least once a day. Staying indoors makes me start to feel antsy.

Have you tried color therapy? Does color lift your mood?

The Coffee Break Guide to Business Plans for Writers

Today my special guest Amy Denim is doing my Thursday Thirteen for me. I know—score! She’s here to tell us about business plans and her new release The Coffee Break Guide to Business Plans for Writers. Check out her easy 13 point plan below.

Oh, and Amy is giving away a copy of her book, so make sure you leave a comment below.

Welcome, Amy!

Coffee Break Guide to Business Plans by Amy Denim

Thirteen Questions to Build Yourself a Business Plan or The Thirteen Minute Business Plan

Have you thought about putting together a business plan? But, oh, it’s such a long and complicated process. Ugh. Why bother, when you could spend your valuable time writing. But, wait, what’s this? A guide to help authors write a business plan on coffee breaks?

Okay, so I find when things get boring and staid that some humor and creativity makes it all much more fun. And let’s admit that a traditional business plan is anything but fun. But having one can be an important part of taking control of your writing career. To get you started I’ve created a quick and easy set of questions that hit all the main parts of a plan and it really should only take you about a coffee break to complete it.

Okay, put your thinking cap/top hat/beanie with the helicopter rotor /tiara on. It’s time to think about what you really want from your writing career.

These questions are to get you started thinking about your goals, but don’t go crazy and spend hours making lists and/or daydreaming about your success as a writer, I want you to do these on a coffee break.

I call this the Coffee Break Business Plan. This is all about basic goals, which you can expand on to create a full-blown business plan, so spend only a few minutes thinking about each of these questions. Write a couple of sentences to answer them or make yourself a nice bullet-point list. If you’d like a template to print out to help you with this exercise, you can download one at www.coffeebreaksocialmedia.com/Books/Resources.

Grab a cup of coffee and a pen

Write down the answers to these questions.

1. How many books do you plan to write? In what genre?

2. What’s your projected word count?

3. When will you finish each project? Or, how much time will you need to complete each project? (Don’t forget to build in time for critiques, beta readers, editing, and all those other activities… besides actually writing the book.)

4. How will you publish these books? Traditionally, self-published, a hybrid approach?

5. If you’re self-publishing, what services will you need and how much will you spend on those?

6. Who is your competition? Who else writes books like yours?

7. How will you sell and market your books?

8. How much money will it cost you to publish and market? What services might you pay for to help you do that?

9. How much money do you plan to make, and when will you see that revenue?

10. When do you plan to achieve these goals?

11. What resources do you need (like a budget template, word count tracker, a reference book about business plans) to complete your plan?

12. When can you review your goals to see what you’ve accomplished and what you need to revise?

13. What rewards can you set up for yourself to say “Job well done!”

There you go. You just created a basic business plan. For real. Laminate that sucker and put it up big and pretty in front of your computer. Every time you sit down to write, take a look and focus on writing to achieve those goals. If the IRS comes knocking, you can wave it in their faces.

If you’d like assistance expanding your business plan I can help with that too. Leave a comment on the blog today, ask questions about business plans or anything else you’d like and one lucky commenter will win a copy my new book The Coffee Break Guide to Business Plans for Authors: The Step-By-Step Guide to Taking Control of Your Writing Career. But, if you can’t wait to win it, it’s available now on Amazon.

Amy DenimAmy Denim writes business books for writers and contemporary romance. She loves hot heroes (like chefs and cowboys) and curvy intelligent heroines (like chefs and cowgirls.)

She’s been a franchise sales coordinator, a lifeguard, a personal shopper, and a teacher of English as a Foreign Language. But now she spends her days reading and writing at her local library or in her book cave.

Amy started out her writer’s life scared out of her wits because she didn’t have a business plan, hadn’t yet created an online platform, wasn’t on Twitter, didn’t have a Facebook fanpage and had never even heard of Goodreads. She just wrote books. So she spent a year becoming a publishing industry information fiend and now does consulting for creatives on how to use take control of their writing careers. She started Coffee Break Social Media to help writers and artists learn to use SM platforms effectively (without the scare tactics) but still have time to create. She believes business plans and social media can be every writer’s friend, sometimes they just need an introduction.

Visit Amy on her author website at www.AmyDenim.com or for tips and tricks on the writing business at www.coffeebreaksocialmedia.com.

Thirteen Facts About January

Thursday Thirteen

When I was wondering about a topic for my thirteen this week, I started thinking about beginnings. January is the beginning of the year, and I thought that would make a great topic.

Thirteen Facts About The Month of January

1. January is named after the Roman god Janus, a god said to have two heads. He looks back to the last year and forward to the new one.

2. The birthstone for January is garnet, which is said to represent constancy.

3. The flower for January is carnation.

4. The stars signs of Capricorn (Dec 22 – Jan 19) and Aquarius (Jan 20 – Feb 18) fall in January.

5. A Northern hemisphere January is the seasonal equivalent of July in the Southern hemisphere.

6. It’s national Thank You month.

7. Saxons sometimes called January the wolf month because hungry wolves would prowl towns searching for food during this month.

8. January is the only month when the North Pole is usually colder than the South pole.

9. January always begins on the same day as October, except during a leap year.

10. The polish word for January is Stycznia, which comes from the word joining. It joins the old year to the new one.

11. According to US census information, January is fairly popular as a girl’s name. It comes in at around 3200th most popular.

12. Originally the Roman calendar ran from March to December. Names for January and February were added later.

13. Mr Munro was born in January – on 8 January to be precise. The same day as Elvis, he likes to remind me.

Are you a fan of January?

Thirteen Food and Diet Snippets

Thursday Thirteen

I’m currently thinking “diet” after a cruising holiday in November and eating lots of Christmas treats. Hubby and I were reading The Fast Diet Recipe book by Mimi Spencer with Dr. Sarah Schenker and have decided to try several of the recipes during our mission to lose a few pounds.

Along with the recipes there are lots of nutrition tips. I thought I’d select some for this week’s TT

Thirteen Nutrition Snippets and Facts for Dieters

1. Almonds are a rich source of magnesium. You’ll get a third of your recommended daily amount by eating just ten almonds. It’s excellent for the nervous system.

2. Gram for gram, quail’s eggs have more iron than a chicken’s egg.

3. Asparagus is a rich source of folate, which is important for the production of healthy red blood cells.

4. Wild mushrooms often contain more selenium as they grow in mineral-rich soil.

5. Pork contains the zinc needed for a healthy immune system.

6. Pears are easy to digest and are one of the least allergenic foods around.

7. Scientific studies show that beetroot can help to lower blood pressure.

8. Avocados are a good source of antioxidant vitamin E, which is important for the immune system.

9. Kelp is an astonishing source of calcium – over a gram per 100 grams.

10. Nutmeg contains a substance called macelignan which can help protect teeth against caries.

11. There is growing evidence that cinnamon helps control blood sugar levels.

12. Celery is said to contain negative calories. One stick contains about 2 calories, but the energy cost of eating and digesting it outweighs this.

13. Studies show that soup increases satiation—and stops you over-eating.

Is anyone else joining me in a diet for the New Year? I’m working on celery sticks from Monday.

13 Types of Swimsuits

Thursday Thirteen

It’s summer here in New Zealand. The weather is hot and sunny, and it’s time to break out the swimsuits.

Thirteen Different Types of Swimwear

1. Bikini

2. Maillot

3. One piece

4. String bikini

5. Trunks

6. Wetsuit

7. Tank suit

8. Tankini

9. Burqini (covers entire body)

10. Speedos

11. Thongs

12. Jammer (worn by professional athletes and are like bicycle shorts)

13. Birthday suit (sorry – couldn’t resist)

I’m a bikini girl and these days I like boyshorts briefs and a tanktop. Very comfortable.

What type of swimwear do you favor?