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Thirteen Favorite Animal Encounters

Thursday Thirteen

Regular visitors to my blog will know how much I enjoy travel. When the travel is combined with seeing animals in their natural habitat, I’m there because there is something very special about viewing animals on their home turf.

Here are some of my favorite animal encounters:

Thirteen Favorite and Memorable Animal Encounters

1. Camel – I like camels, and I’ve met quite a few during my travels through the Middle East and Asia, but my favorite meeting was in Egypt. We met up with a herd of camels consisting of mothers and juveniles. Once we mounted our camels, we ambled along with the rest of the herd. It was fun and relaxing. This juvenile camel was very curious and wanted to investigate me at close quarters.

Shell's Camel, Egypt 

2. Giraffe – During a visit to Kenya we visited a giraffe reserve, not far from Nairobi. There you can feed the giraffes and observe them at close quarters. I’ll never forget their abrasive tongues and the feel of giraffe slobber. It was a fun visit!

Giraffe_nairobi

3. Whale – I’ve been whale watching in lots of different locations including Australia, New Zealand, Hawaii, Alaska and Maine. These huge creatures are majestic, and it’s always thrilling to see them in person. This photo of a sperm whale was taken near Kaikoura in New Zealand.

Sperm Whale

4. Baboon – We stayed in cabins in Uganda, and they had a small shop where they sold chocolate including Mars bars. The local kids selling slingshots at the gate should have clued us in. Those baboons went around in gangs, and the animals actually mugged some of the people in our group and stole their Mars bars.

5. Dolphin – I went for a day trip from Auckland to dolphin watch. Once we found the dolphins we spent ages watching them play and surf the bow water.

6. Alpaca – These guys just have so much character. I’d love to own one of these. I guess I need to get some land first.

ChattyAlpaca

7. Moose – Hubby and I came across a queue of cars when we were driving through the Grand Teton area. They had stopped to check out this bull moose that was calmly grazing while tourists clicked photos.

GrandTeton_moose

8. Rhino – When we visited Chitwan National Park in Nepal, we were privileged to see this rhino and baby. It was worth crawling out of our beds early in the morning.

Rhino & baby, Chitwan National Park

9. Snake – We don’t have snakes in New Zealand so any encounter is memorable. Hubby was playing a round of golf on Lindeman Island, which is in the Whitsunday group in Australia. We’d been told there were no snakes on the island. Someone should have told the snake I almost stood on while striding down the fairway! I started looking where I was walking after that.

10. Takahe – It was thought the takahe, one of New Zealand’s native flightless birds was extinct but they were rediscovered in 1945. They’re still very endangered, and are now mostly on offshore islands, which are pest free.

Takahe

11. Elephants – we’ve seen elephants in Africa and also in Asia. They’re such cool creatures. This photo of the baby elephant was taken in Kenya.

Baby elephant, kenya

12. Panda – We visited China two years ago. I wanted  to walk on the Great Wall, see the terracotta soldiers and visit the panda. Not only did I see the panda, I got to hold one. The money raised from tourists goes back into the care and research of pandas. It was worth every dollar.

Panda Shelley

13. Gorilla – My number one animal encounter was with gorillas in Rwanda. I cannot begin to express how magical this was but can still feel the awe and excitement as I watched these animals in the wild. I have an essay about our gorilla encounter on my website.

Gorilla, Rwanda

Do you have a memorable animal encounter to share?

Thirteen Facts about Terriers

Thursday Thirteen

Bella, our dog is a Jack Russell, and our first dog Scotty was a fox terrier. Both came from the Humane Society and were of mixed parentage i.e. they both have a mystery element in their background. Hubby and I like terriers because they’re small and intelligent with big personalities.

Thirteen Facts About Terriers

1. Most breeds of terriers were developed in Great Britain.

2. They were bred to catch rats, rabbits, foxes and badgers (larger terriers). They hunted both above and under ground.

3. They’re excellent for vermin control. Scotty was a champion mouser, and if any came inside she sniffed them out. I was the one who stood on a chair.

4. Terriers range in size. Our fox terrier was fine boned while Bella is a sturdy wee thing. You know when she plops on your lap.

5. The term terrier is latin and it means earth.

6. 26 types of terriers are recognized in the US.

7. Terriers are brave and confident and make great watchdogs.

8. They’re also stubborn!

9. Sometimes their bravery gets them in trouble since they won’t back down, even if the other dog is much bigger.

10. Terriers are intelligent.

11. They like to keep very busy and get bored if left alone with some sort of activity. The boredom tips over into chewing and digging.

12. They might be small, but they need a lot of exercise. I always get tired before Bella starts lagging.

13. They’re personality plus.

Bella cooling off during mid-summer

Puppy Porn!

Are you a dog person? If so, what breed do you prefer?

Thirteen Cinderella Facts

Thursday Thirteen

Cinderella is my favorite fairy tale. I like the idea of Cindy getting ahead of her horrid stepfamily and snagging the prince to live happy ever after. Recently I’ve written a contemporary romance that’s a modern retelling of Cinderella, and I thought Cinderella facts would make a perfect topic today.

Thirteen Factoids about Cinderella.

1. Charles Perrault first published the story in 1697. The Brothers Grimm later included it in their collection of tales—Grimm’s Fairy Tales (source: Wikipedia)

2. Cinderella is also known as The Little Glass Slipper.

3. When Disney released Cinderella they hadn’t had a hit since Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. If Cinderella hadn’t been a huge hit, it’s likely that the Disney franchise would have gone bankrupt.

4. Cinderella was released by Disney on Feb 15th in 1950.

5. In the original Cinderella story, the glass slippers were made from fur.

6. Cinderella’s original name was Ella. One night she fell asleep while cleaning near the fireplace and her face and clothes became smudged by the cinders. After that she was known as Cinderella.

7. Lots of countries have their own version of Cinderella. China has one of the earliest ones.

8. One of the original issued taglines was “Midnight never strikes when you’re in love.” ~ source: Yahoo

9. Julie Andrews and Whitney Houston have both played the role of Cinderella.

10. Walt Disney’s favorite scene is said to be when Cinderella’s torn dress transforms to the white ball gown.

11. Cinderella is a very popular choice with romance writers when it comes to retelling tales. I’m in good company.

12. Here’s my cover:

One Night of Misbehavior

13. Here’s my “Cinderella” blurb from my upcoming release, One Night of Misbehavior

He wears his scars on the outside. She keeps hers safe inside.

Charlotte Dixon ignores her stepmother’s edict and, in an act of disobedience, attends one of the social events of the year—a masked costume ball. Charlotte’s naughtiness escalates when she dances and smooches with a sexy masked man. The night of anonymous passion that follows makes her yearn for a different life, but the next day she’s back to her dull routine of household management.

Advertising tycoon, Ash Marlborough is about to set a private investigator on the trail of his mystery princess when she waltzes right into his place of work. Charlotte is shocked to meet her masked man in the flesh, and even more perturbed when he asks her out on a date. Despite craving another night of sexy loving, she doesn’t have time for a man, not when she wants to reinvent herself and grasp a new, improved life with both hands. But Ash knows what he wants, and he’s determined to win the heart of his princess. Let the dance of seduction commence.

Warning: Contains a conniving stepmother, selfish stepsisters, a grandmother with fairy godmother tendencies and a sexy masked man who is willing to face them all for the love of a good woman.

What is your favorite fairy tale?

13 Places to Visit in Sydney

Thursday Thirteen

In a couple of months hubby and I are visiting Sydney. It’s a great city with a gorgeous harbor and lots to do. I highly recommend a visit if you’re heading down this end of the world.

Thirteen Places to Visit While in Sydney

1. The harbor bridge. Walk across it, climb one of the pylons or if you have a head for heights, do the bridge climb.

Sydney Harbor Bridge

2. Do a tour through the Sydney Opera House.

3. Wander around Darling Harbor and have a snack or meal at one of the many restaurants.

4. Visit the Rocks area, once the home of convicts, but now full of shops selling crafts.

5. Catch a ferry and visit Manly.

Manly_The Beach

6. Wander through the botanical gardens and walk out to the point where Mrs. MacQuarie liked to sit, known locally as Mrs. MacQuarie’s Chair. It’s a bench carved out of sandstone.

Sydney Harbor View

7. Go swimming/people watching at Bondi Beach. Don’t forget to swim between the flags.

8. Visit Taronga zoo where the animals have one of the greatest views of the around.

9. Check out the art gallery or one of the museums. Lots of local artists.

10. Visit the Queen Victoria Building, an old restored building and now home to shops and restaurants.

11. Go to the Paddington Markets, which have been trading for 39 years. Open on Saturdays only and a perfect place to find that unique item of clothing or a souvenir.

12. Visit Hyde Park, the oldest park in Australia. There are loads of trees and plants for keen gardeners to exclaim over.

13. The Sydney Tower Eye, visible from most of the inner city and a great place to go for a 360 degree view of the city.

Of course, this is only a taste of the places to visit. There are lots of places outside the city such as the Blue Mountains and wildlife parks.

Which place would you visit first? If you’ve visited Sydney before what was your favorite part of the city? What would you recommend?

13 Ways to Look at a Situation

Thursday Thirteen

Whenever I’m in editing mode one of the words I cut/prune from my manuscript is “look”. Look isn’t a bad word, but my characters tend to look here and look there. They look all over the place.

Thirteen Words To Replace Look

1. Gawk

2. Ogle – I do love this word!

3. Contemplate

4. Peruse

5. Regard

6. Examine

7. Leer

8. Inspect

9. Peek

10. Observe

11. Study

12. Monitor

13. Glower

Writers, what word/s do you tend to overuse in a manuscript? Readers, does repeated use of the same word throw you out of a story?

13 Facts and Trivia about Pasta

dreamstimefree_58013 Pasta

I love pasta. It’s my go-to meal when I’m in a hurry. Guess what we had for dinner tonight? Winking smile

Thirteen Facts and Trivia about Pasta

1. They say Marco Polo introduced pasta to Italy after his visit to China, but pasta in Italy can be traced back to the 4th century BC. A picture in an Etruscan tomb shows a group of natives making something that looks like pasta.

2. Pasta is great for those on a budget and is very versatile.

3. Pasta can come in different colors. Squid ink colors the black pasta, saffron for yellow pasta, spinach for green, saffron for yellow and tomatoes for red.

4. It’s said that Thomas Jefferson introduced macaroni to America after he ate and enjoyed macaroni in Naples.

5. Flat pasta is best with cream sauces while tomato sauces will cling to pasta shapes.

6. Pasta is best cooked al dente. The literal translation is “to the tooth”. Pasta should be firm yet still be tender when eaten.

7. Pasta is a good source of carbohydrates.

8. Most pasta is made using wheat flour with high quality pasta being made from durum wheat.

9. The BBC conned lots of people with their April Fool’s trick in 1957. They told people that spaghetti grew on trees and that severe frosts could affect the flavor of the spaghetti.

10. The word pasta comes from the Italian word paste.

11. Pasta should be eaten with only a fork.

12. Italians eat more pasta per year than anyone else.

13. Trendy men during the 18th century were called Macoronis. They wore fashionable clothes with very “high” hair and all the latest accoutrements of the time.

Do you like pasta? What is your favorite sort?

Lets Take Tea With Jane Austen

Thursday Thirteen

During a recent visit to the local library, I came across a copy of Tea With Jane Austen by Kim Wilson. I’m a big fan of tea, so I picked up the book and checked it out.

Thirteen Things About Jane Austen and Tea

1. Jane Austen was responsible for making the family breakfast each morning and also the morning pot of tea.

2. Tea was very expensive during Jane’s time and was kept locked away to avoid pilfering by the servants.

3. Young ladies of the time used to decorate tea caddies with filigree work (rolled strips of paper applied in decorative patterns)

4. Jane took sugar in her tea, but probably not milk. The sugar was also locked up due to its expensive nature.

5. The sugar came in large cone-shaped loaves and someone had to break it up before it could be used. Sugar cubes came much later.

6. Shopping was different in Jane’s time. For example if she wished to buy tea she could buy it from a pedlar, she could walk to the local shops or wait until she visited a larger town or city.

7. Visits to the city were rare. Whenever Jane visited the city, friends and family would give her a list of their requirements and errands. Items such as jewellery and material were common additions to Jane’s list.

8. During Jane’s time a pound of tea sold for six shillings. Better quality tea fetched even higher prices. This was double the wages received by unskilled workers.

9. The quality of the tea varied widely. Legal tea was usually a decent quality as was smuggled tea, although it sometimes smelled a little of horse. Some tea was adulterated, which could be quite dangerous.

10. Some shops, such as dressmakers and milliners, offered tea to their customers. Tea contributed to a genteel atmosphere.

11. Twinings tea warehouse on The Strand probably hasn’t changed much in appearance since Jane’s visits to purchase fresh tea.

12. Riding in a carriage was considered exercise. Sometimes it was difficult to remain in a seat due to the bone-jarring roads. Tea was often the first refreshment called for on arrival at a destination.

13.  Gentlemen and some ladies too, took to spiking their tea with spirits, especially in the morning after a hard night. If that didn’t work to fix a hangover, they’d move on to normal tea.

Are you a Jane Austen fan? Which one of her novels is your favorite?

Thirteen Places On Shelley’s Visit Wish List

Thursday Thirteen

Regular visitors will know how much I love to travel. In fact on my last travel post several of you commented – “Where haven’t you been?”

This TT proves I still have plenty of places on my wish list.

Thirteen Places on Shelley’s Wishlist

1. Antarctica

2. Nelson, New Zealand (South Island)

3. Stewart Island, New Zealand (the island at the bottom of the South Island)

4. Broome, Australia (want to go camel riding)

5. Machu Picchu

6. Texas – one state I haven’t visited yet

7. Madagascar – would love to see the lemurs.

8. Vietnam

9. Darwin, Australia

10. Falkland Islands

11. River cruise down the Amazon

12. Chile

13. Scandinavia

Which place is top of your list?

13 Facts About NZ Green Lipped Mussels

Thursday Thirteen

New Zealand is known for its green lipped mussels, so I decided mussels would make a great topic for a TT.

Thirteen Factoids about Green Lipped Mussels

1. Their scientific name is perna canalicula.

2. Mussels are native to New Zealand and are found all around the coast.

3. They are also farmed on a commercial basis.

4. Mussels live on rocks in the intertidal zone and feed on phytoplankton.

5. The shells are a brownish/green color and the outer edges are green, which is where their name comes from.

New Zealand Green Lipped Mussels

6. The commercial farming of mussels is highly regulated. The mussels and the water they grow in are tested for toxins on a regular basis.

7. It’s one of the largest mussel species.

8. They contain a unique brand of fatty acids, which are not found anywhere else.

9. New Zealand produces over 140,000 tonnes of mussels a year.

10. At present the mussels cost $1.50 for a pound (NZ$2.99 for a kilo) at the supermarket.

11. The omega acids in mussels are said to benefit those with inflammatory diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis.

12. They are also said to be good for those with asthma symptoms and stomach ailments.

13. My husband loves mussels and eats them on a regular basis. I think they’re repulsive. I don’t like the texture or the yucky bits of the actual mussel. I’m alone in my dislike though because even Bella likes them. My husband tosses the shells out on the lawn and she spends days chewing the hinge bit that is left on the shell when the mussel is removed.

Do you like mussels? Have you tried New Zealand Green Lipped mussels?

13 Things That Inspired JL Hilton to Write the Stellarnet Series

I’d like to welcome my guest today—J.L. Hilton. J.L. Hilton is the author of the Stellarnet Series published by Carina Press, including Stellarnet Rebel (January 2012) and Stellarnet Prince (November 2012). Her artwork is featured in the books Steampunk Style Jewelry and 1000 Steampunk Creations. Visit her at JLHilton.com or follow her on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads and deviantART. Over to JL!

tt_minimal3

13 Things That Inspired JL Hilton to Write the Stellarnet Series

I didn’t plan to write a novel. Before May 2009, I devoted most of my time to homeschooling my children, volunteering, and designing jewelry. But thirteen things bubbled in the cauldron of my noggin and coalesced into Stellarnet Rebel, the first book of the Stellarnet Series, and from there came the sequel, Stellarnet Prince, released this week by Carina Press.

1) All five seasons of Babylon 5. G’kar is my most-est best-est favorite-est character ever. Just when you think he couldn’t get any more awesome than busting out of his chains after being tortured and losing an eye, he also helps King Fricking Arthur fight off a gang of space thugs.

2) I’m a Browncoat – a fan of Joss Whedon’s TV show Firefly and the movie Serenity. In 2006, I coordinated the first charity screening of Serenityin my city, as part of the Can’t Stop the Serenity (http://www.cantstoptheserenity.com/) program to benefit Equality Now. I’ve been involved in the event ever since, and this year am a global sponsor. (http://www.cantstoptheserenity.com/sponsors/)

3) Technology. I love the Internet, smartphones and video games.

4) Les Miserables by Victor Hugo. One of my favorite books of all time. I also listen to the musical. A lot.

5) Deadwood is another favorite TV show. I sometimes refer to Asteria Colony in my books as a “cyber Deadwood” on the edge of settled space, populated with criminals, outcasts, Net whores and obsessive online gamers (substitute those for the 19th century opium addicts, I reckon).

6) V for Vendetta. The character V is one of several inspirations for Duin, the titular character inStellarnet Rebel. (I could probably make a whole ‘nother list of thirteen inspirations for Duin, including Ben Franklin, Doc Brown, Madeye Moody and the crazy Irishman from Braveheart.)

7) My aliens known as Glin are based on dolphins. The first time I saw dolphins in real life was at the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago. They made me cry, they were so beautiful. Some biologists think that they were land critters who returned to the water, and that idea fascinated me. Also, like the Glin, dolphins have incredible hearing and natural healing abilities.

8) The BBC miniseries North and South, based on the Elizabeth Gaskell novel.

9) The first season of the BBC Robin HoodTV series. This, along with North and South, led to Richard Armitage being one of the inspirations for my Stellarnet character Belloc, and Lucy Griffiths being an inspiration for the heroine, Genevieve O’Riordan.

10) Twilight – in a sort of backwards way. While thrilled for everyone who enjoys paranormal romance, it’s just not my thing and I’m sick of hearing about vampires. I began writing the Stellarnet Series as much for myself as for readers – a this is what I want to read sort of thing.

11) Traditional Irish music. A study of Irish culture, history and politics has been a life-long hobby of mine.

12) Alex Steffen’s article “Science Fiction, Futurism and the Failure of the Will to Imagine.” (http://www.worldchanging.com/archives/001065.html) He quotes author Bruce Sterling: "There’s still plenty of space opera out there, with heroes running around in galactic Disneylands, but almost no one is addressing the nature of the 21st Century, or putting together, like, genuinely novel visions of life in the year 2050."

13) Finally, in May 2009, I awoke from a dream in which an interstellar news blogger met an alien freedom-fighter in the center of a space colony. From that one dream, I had a whole story that wanted to get out of my head.

Have you ever had an amazing dream, or one that seemed real? "I’ll sleep on it" is a common expression. Do you ever solve problems or get ideas in your dreams?


2012-jen

Promo info

Author website: www.JLHilton.com
Book website: www.StellarnetSeries.com
Publisher website: www.CarinaPress.com
Buy link: http://www.StellarnetSeries.com/shop/
Facebook:https://www.facebook.com/J.L.Hilton.author
Twitter: https://twitter.com/authorJLHilton
deviantART: http://jlhilton.deviantart.com/
Goodreads:

http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5344538.J_L_Hilton


Stellarnet

Blurb:

An otherworldly love. Human blogger Genny O’Riordan shares two alien lovers: Duin, a leader of the Uprising, and Belloc, the only surviving member of the reviled Glin royal family. Their relationship has inspired millions of followers–and incited vicious anti-alien attacks.

 
A planet at risk. A Stellarnet obsessed with all things alien brings kidnappers, sex traffickers and environmental exploitation to Glin. Without weapons or communications technology, the planet cannot be defended. Glin will be ravaged and raided until nothing remains.

A struggle for truth. On Earth, Duin discovers a secret that could spur another rebellion, while on Glin, Belloc’s true identity could endanger their family and everything they’ve fought for. Have the Glin found true allies in humanity, or an even more deadly foe?

Purchase Stellarnet Rebel

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