Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Creature Feature #277: Goose

There are numerous species of Goose, spread across three Genera, but the domestic goose is descended from this species, the Greylag. She is spread throughout the Northern Hemisphere, natively occuring across Eurasia with feral (and vagrant) populations in North America. She has been domesticated for 1,000 years. Her main diet is grass, grain and leafy vegetation. Due to the low energy component, she must graze almost constantly. Geese have a more cohesive family unit than ducks, with both parents guarding the chicks from predation. The family remains together throughout the year, joining with a larger flock to make the migration south or east for winter. They are one of the last migrants to depart, hence the inclusion of "lag" in their name.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Creature Feature #276: Golden Eagle

The Golden Eagle is an apex predator, capable of lifting prey as large as a hare, marmot or even a baby deer. She forms a monogamous, lifelong partnership with her mate, and together they perform an aerial courtship display in which the male drops a rock, then swoops to catch it. The female shows her aerial prowess in a similar manner - although often with a dirt clod or twig. Together they construct a large nest, called an eyrie, on a rocky ledge. This is created from branches and padded with grass.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Creature Feature #275: Goblin Shark

A strange monster of the deep, the Goblin Shark is rarely seen and little is known about his behaviour. His large, flabby body and short fins suggest that he leads a largely sedantary lifestyle, probably ambusing his piscian prey. When he bites, he expands his jaws using two specialised ligaments. This allowes him to seize his prey in his needle-thing teeth, before his bashyal, bones analogous to a tongue, descends, increasing his oral cavity and sucking the prey down his throat. . His long snout is likely to play a sensory role, and is capable of detecting electric currents in the water.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Creature Feature #274: Goat

I am saving the ancestors of our domestic goat for "I", as it is an Ibex.

This fellow is an American Mountain Goat. In fact, he is not even a goat at all, but one of the so-called "goat-antelopes" (thus meaning I may move him into book "M" - well, I had too many for G anyway, means I can draw a Gouldian finch).  He is a high altitude and sure-footed beast, making his home high in the alpine peaks of the Rocky and Cascade Mountain ranges. During breeding season, males compete for the females, engaging in some rather vicious head-butting. Afterwards, the males break off into small bands, leaving the females together in a herd to last out the winter and birth their kids come spring. Female goats, who also have horns and beards, are quite aggressive with one another as they jostle for positions in the hierarchy.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Magic in the City - an Anthology in the conceptualisation

Even within the gritty, urban streets, beauty can be found. A daisy, poking its head from a crack in the concrete, a bird, nesting in the eaves of a business's balcony. Children, playing games of make-believe in the gardens or along the river. There is magic to be found everywhere, in the everyday, and it is too often forgotten in the grim and grit of modern literature. When dystopia novels reign supreme, and urban fantasy is filled with inner darkness, treachery and monsters of the night. 

I am planning, in concert with the Christchurch Writers' Guild,  to create an anthology that celebrates the magical side of urban fantasy - the fairies that live in the garden, the imps that steal your socks, the dragon that slumbers beneath the university. Children's tales? Perhaps, but these are tales of a more innocent, whimsical age. An age when children played outside, having adventures in their own backyards instead of staring at screens or leaning over keyboards.

And I would like your help.

Initially, I wanted to have a Christchurch-themed anthology, showing the magic within our broken city, as it struggles to recover from the earthquakes that flattened so much of the central city and devastated the spirits of the community. However, this collection will be open to a wider audience. Here's the low-down:

* Theme: Magical Realism/Urban Fantasy
This does not need to be full-on magic or adding fantastic beasts to the modern city - for example, one of my story ideas involves a girl striking up a friendship with a wild animal - it just needs to be something out-of-the-ordinary and somewhat magical. If you are unsure if your story idea fits the theme, please do not hesitate to ask.
Defintion of Magic Realism:

* Your story must have a positive ending. That does not mean that it cannot have darkness or tragedy occuring, but ultimately the outcome must be the sort that will give the reader a warm glow of satisfaction. It can be funny, it can contain an important moral message, it can be the story of someone rising from darkness and finding a sense of hope and wonderment.

* Word Count: 1,000 - 6,000 words

* Intended Audience: I would like the stories to be suitable for ages maybe 10+, since the theme is likely to appeal to children. This may be changed if a number of submissions are received that lie outside these boundaries. Please limit your language to that which is appropriate for the 10+ market. Swearing or excessive use of "tamer" curse words (damn, bloody, hell etc) may result in your story being rejected or editing requests to be made.

* Your submission should be a highly polished final draft. It should be thoroughly proof-read and spell-checked.
Please note that we will be enforcing the following:
- single spaces after full stops (periods).
- double quote marks used around speech: "like this" (but curling inwards, which blogspot doesn't do).
- please use the double em-dash with one space on either side. —
- please save as a .doc file.
- font size and face does not matter, but book will be printed in Century Schoolbook, my personal favourite.

* Not all stories will necessarily be accepted. We reserve the right to reject your story or request an edit. To this end, we will offer a short critique for every submission.

* We cannot pay you. Proceeds from this anthology will go to help support the Christchurch Writers' Guild and help us to plan some events that you are welcome to participate in (should you happen to live in New Zealand). We can, and will, give you a free copy of the ebook and offer you reduced rates for printed copies, should you wish to purchase any for friends or family. You will also be given a full page biography, including a chance to link your website or promote your other titles, within the book.

* The book will be independently printed via Amazon's CreateSpace program and through Kindle Direct Publishing. I also have access to add it to (for epub) and SmashWords.

* Illustrators are also welcome to contribute. 

Submissions should be emailed to:

DEADLINE: September 30th
Whilst I would like to have this anthology ready for Christmas purchase, previous experience has shown that anthologies can take a long time from beginning to end. I will aim for a December release, but expect it shall be February at least.

Creature Feature #273: Giraffe Weevil

The Giraffe Weevil is a strange insect, found only in Madagascar and first discovered in 2008. The male is characterised by his long neck, which is not used to help him nibble on leaves - although he is a herbivore - but for mortal combat. The two males will battle for the right to mate with the shorter-necked female.  The female then creates a nest for her single egg by curling up the leaf of a very specific plant, weaving it together deftly before snipping it off and dropping it to the forest floor.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Creature Feature #272: Giraffe

So today, due to reasons, I almost didn't make my "Animal a day". It is now 11pm, and here (after 3 episodes of Writing Excuses) he is. Although I may have to do a better illustration later (not happy with the face, dagnammit).

The Giraffe is the tallest living land mammal, with males growing up to 6m in height. These long legs and long neck enable him to browse higher in the trees than other herbivores, and also afford him a good view of the surrounding terrain. Other ungulates will graze near giraffes, knowing that their tall companion will alert them if danger is near. His blue tongue is up to 50cm long and prehensile, perfect to wrap around leaves, and he also has a prehensile upper lip.  Such a long neck and legs does come at a disadvantage, however. To drink, the Giraffe must splay his legs and bend awkwardly to lap the water.