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Adjectives and Covid-19 by Elaine A Powers Author

illstration of covid-19 virus

The Oxford Dictionary describes an adjective as “a word or phrase naming an attribute, added to or grammatically related to a noun to modify or describe it.”

Okay, an adjective can add descriptive information to a noun.  This can be very useful in writing.  However, over the years, I heard what I considered inappropriate adjectives used in descriptions. I enjoy oceans and the animals that live within them.  I confess, I find it irritating when waters are described as “shark-infested.” Infested refers to a large number of animals present to cause disease of damage. However, the presence of sharks in ocean waters is not an infestation; it’s their native environment, where they typically live.  Infestation creates the illusion that all those sharks swarmed to the particular location only to attack people. Nope.

Recently, as we all struggle with the COVID-19 virus, I heard the virus referred to as “vicious.”  A virus can be virulent, and vigorous, but not vicious. Being vicious means that the virus was intentionally cruel or violent. A virus is not a thinking organism, but a piece of RNA (ribonucleic acid). Consequently, a virus cannot be vicious. There’s even debate on whether a virus is a “living” organism. That characteristic is reserved for organisms that reproduce on their own.  A virus requires the cellular machinery of another organism to reproduce.

Adjectives are very important tools in the English language. Being powerful, they should be used appropriately and wisely!

For interesting and fun science, check out Lyric Power Publishing’s Book selections, and the fantastic workbooks filled with fun and educational worksheets and coloring pages! 

 

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For Some of Us, Research is Fun! by Elaine A. Powers, Author

Book cover for the Night-Blooming Cereus

One aspect of writing science-based books is doing research, which is perfect for me because I’ve always loved reading about different subjects.  As a child, I read the encyclopedia. I wonder sometimes if younger people know the joy of pulling out one of the many books in a set of encyclopedias and flipping through those pages packed with information? When I needed details, I would go to the reference section of my local library and search through the many pages in the reference section.

book cover for Hickatee Turtles
The Cayman Islands have turtles that live both on land and in the sea. Hickatee lives on land and doesn’t belong in the sea, like the sea turtles. Do you know the differences? Come inside and learn about turtles, especially the marvelous Hickatee.

Nowadays, we merely search the Internet. My projects cause me to search for many subjects, such as the Night-Blooming Cereus and the Hickatee Turtle. I type in words that might lead to the desired topic, then branch out depending on the results. It’s truly amazing, the information you can find on the World Wide Web. I learn all sort of things. I find details about the animals and plants I am writing about, along with photographs. That way I can guide my illustrators.

It’s easy to spend hours following one line of investigation to another, but I don’t consider it time wasted. Any time you can learn new information is time well spent. I searched “time well spent” and this is what the Internet says: “Time well spent” is any time that brought you fulfillment, comfort and satisfaction, energizing you for your life goals (writing books, for me) with enthusiasm and drive.”

I hope this is as true for you as it is for me.

For some fun “time well spent,” please see our interesting and inexpensive workbooks chock full of fun activities and coloring pages.

book cover Greater Roadrunner grades 2-4

book cover my book about rocks

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Blurbist: New Word for the Day by Elaine A. Powers, Author

back cover of Time and the Garden

I was at a meeting where book publishing was discussed. One of the final touches to every book is the “blurb.” A blurb is defined as a short promotional piece for a creative work, like a book.  I refer to the tease on the back of the book as a blurb. The blurb can be written by the author, publisher or reviewer (a positive review is the best kind of blurb). Traditionally, blurbs are printed on the back or rear dust-jacket but today, they are also put on websites.

I found it amusing that at the publishing discussion, the presenter came up with a new word: blurbist. We all laughed at this creation of a new word.

However, it turned out that blurbist really is a word. As you might suspect, it does mean the “writer of a blurb.”

So, despite my friend, Gene, thinking blurbist was a new word, it wasn’t. I still think blurbist makes a great vocabulary word of the day.

The photo above shows “the blurb” for the Lyric Power Publishing Book, Time and the Garden by Jo Busha. Here’s the cover of the wonderful book of essays about gardening.

a book cover with a photo of a lush, Vermont garden
Jo Busha’s Book of Essays about life, gardening and the natural world

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Who was that Man with a Knife? by Elaine A. Powers, Author

Dark book cover showing a man holding a knife

A man stands in the median of a busy road, holding a knife, blood dripping from his hand. Who is he? Why is he in the middle of the road? What happened next? Arizona mystery writers create their own stories based on this real-life event.

When I started writing, I wanted to write murder mysteries. But a theater I belonged to needed scripts, so for several years, I wrote scripts. It was great fun to hear my words out loud instead of just in my head. I learned to write dialog and to keep the storyline trim. Of course, many of my scripts feature reptiles, especially lizards.

Then I was transferred out West and my mother came to live with me.  I couldn’t work all day and do theater at night, so I turned to writing books. I still held onto the dream of writing murder mysteries, but I fell into the science-based children’s book niche and that type of writing took off. Then someone suggested I could write short stories, so that’s what I did.  I wrote a few mystery short stories.

I am a member of the Sisters in Crime organization, and when a speaker had an emergency and cancelled her talk, we had to scramble. We had mystery writers in attendance who had paid expecting some sort of activity to help develop their craft.

One of our members had observed a strange sight a few days before: a man standing in the median of a busy road holding a knife dripping with blood.  She notified the police but never did find out what was going on.

Well, with a group of mystery writers, what else could we do other than write our own interpretations of the event? Recently, those short stories, including mine, were published in an anthology entitled Man With A Knife. Imaginations went to work, and the result is great fun!

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May I Have Some Privacy Please? by Elaine A. Powers, Author

roadrunner in sonoran desert wings spread

GREATER ROADRUNNER

I’m always trying to get an interesting view of the animals and plants I write about in my books and blog post. Roadrunners move very quickly, so I was having trouble getting a good photo. Then I came across this roadie at the Sabino Canyon Visitors Center near Tucson, Az. The roadie was hurrying along the sidewalk when I joined the bird.  Roadie tucked behind some rocks and an agave cactus, but I was still in sight.

Finally, the roadie decided it was safe behind a grouping of boulders and a large prickly pear cactus. Conveniently, the cactus left a window where I could observe the roadie as it spread its wings to expose its dark back to bask in the sun. I was honored by this opportunity to observe and share the bird’s behavior. I think the roadie got nice and warm.

You can read about this behavior and many others in the rhyming book I wrote, Don’t Make Me Fly!

A copper colored book cover featuring an illustration of a Roadrunner bird
“With vibrant illustrations by Nicholas Thorpe, this picture book is jam-packed with scientific facts about roadrunners, delivered in verse form to keep the narrative lively. Roadrunners “…grab their victim/behind its head/And bash it on/the ground until it is dead.” Want to know how to swallow a horned lizard? Keep reading!” AZ Daily Star

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Dec 31st is National No Interruptions Day by Elaine A. Powers, Author

A desk with paper, pencil, pen, cell phoneBack to my Writing! (Desk Image by Mediamodifier from Pixabay)

Sorry, I don’t have time to talk.  Tomorrow, December 31, is the last day to complete all the writing projects I told myself I would complete by the end of the year.  They’re not all done! Of course, most of these deadlines are self-imposed but that doesn’t make me any less eager to finish them.

I hope you have been more successful than I have in achieving your goals.  I also hope you have enjoyed this year’s many blog posts–I have certainly enjoyed writing about subjects near and dear to me and life’s adventures. Maybe you’ve also enjoyed one or two my science-based children’s books.  I thank you.

12 children's books published by Lyric Power Publishing

Happy New Year! Have a happy and healthy 2020!

Now–you guessed it–I have to get back to my writing.

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It’s Almost Pick A Pathologist Pal Day by Elaine A. Powers Author

As a mystery writer, a pathologist can be a very important pal to have. Pathologists do many important and interesting jobs, such as looking for disease within tissues, and determining causes of death. December 13th is Pick a Pathologist Pal Day and I thought I’d tell you about my friend, Dr. Dan Morse, MD, who was a forensic pathologist, meaning he determined the cause of death from skeletal remains. Talk about challenging!

He also tried to determine what the person looked like from remains of clothing, etc., found on or near the bodies. One of his favorite projects was discovering how animals dispersed the bones they scavenged, from large animals like bears and foxes to small field mice. He was the Florida State Forensic Pathologist and taught at Florida State University. The highlight of each year was his “body dig and barbeque.” Go out and find yourself a pathologist pal—you’ll be glad you did!

a dark book cover with skeleton in canoe
Two audio theater scripts that highlight danger can be found anywhere

Needless to say, when I featured a pathologist in my audio theater script, In the Swamp, No One Can hear You Scream, I chose Dr. Dan. This script is found in the collection Mayhem in Swamp and Snow. Danger can be found anywhere, and this collection contains two full-length mystery-themed audio theater scripts. The scripts require multiple actors and are well-suited for presentation by school and community theaters. (In the Swamp takes place in a south Florida mangrove swamp where skeletons are found, and is the story that features Dr. Dan.)

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Do Birds Flitter or Flutter? By Elaine A. Powers, Author

a yellow bird with brown and white wings landing on the side of a cactus
Image courtesy of B Wills from Pixabay

I like to write about word use and finding more interesting, active verbs for more exciting writing. For instance, did the lizard skitter or scurry? In writing about a bananaquit, a small bird that flies rapidly from spot to spot, the question came up: Is the bird flittering or fluttering? The same question could be asked of butterflies. Do they flitter or flutter? English is such an interesting language.

Flitter and flutter can both be used as verbs. Even though they are only one letter different, they do describe different motions. Flittering suggests movement in a quick and seemingly random manner. Fluttering, in contrast, suggests the winged creature is flying unsteadily or irregularly. So, even though both words indicate flapping (another similar-sounding word) of wings, fluttering means wobbly motion, while flittering means flying nimbly. So, in the case of my bananaquit, she is flittering from branch to branch.

You’ll get to meet this bananquit in the upcoming book, Curtis Curly-tail Goes to the Doctor. In the meantime, please enjoy the previous books in the series.

a children's book cover, blue and white, with several curly-tail lizards on the cover
Captured by poachers, Curtis Curly-tail finds himself on a boat full of native animals being smuggled out of The Bahamas. As he struggles to help the other animals escape, he realizes he may not be able to save himself.

a light green and dark green book cover with the image of a duck in waterColor eight different birds in this workbook, including the Bananaquit!

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Keeping It Real–Very Real by Elaine A. Powers, Author

 

a tangle of mangrove tree roots
Mangrove tree roots image courtesy of M W from Pixabay

Even though I primarily write children’s books, I wrote a book called Silent Rocks about the declining population of Rock Iguanas on the Cayman Islands, and another about the Sonoran Desert’s Night-Blooming Cereus.

cover of book "Silent Rocks." white background, rock iguana pictured in natural habitat on island Cayman Brac
The population of the endemic Sister Island Rock Iguana (Cyclura nubila caymanensis) on Cayman Brac is in serious decline. These vegetarian lizards are an important part of the island’s ecosystem. The reduction in population is the result of human activity on their habitat and the threats can only be eliminated by human action.

I also write murder mysteries and one is set in south Florida in a small coastal town. A lot of the action takes place in the mangroves. In fact, one scene regards a resort hotel being built within the mangroves. I thought I had included sufficient details with the tangle of roots and the wildlife flitting in and out. Recently, I had the opportunity to stay in a hotel actually built within the mangrove trees.

Who was it that thought this was a good idea?

Besides the senseless destruction of the protective trees, there are the people-consuming insects that consider the insect repellent to be seasoning. Guests slog through the muck to get to the steps of the hotel. The salt air seems to corrode everything metal instantaneously. The nesting and resting birds squabble day and night. And then there’s the smell–the omnipresent odor of hydrogen sulfide, which can be compared to odor of rotten eggs.

It’s time for me to edit the landscape descriptions in my story and really bring the location to life. In the case of a very strong setting like this one, it takes on importance equal to the charactersThis has taught me to be certain to use all the senses when writing the locationMy new motto: Get the details rights!

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Claiming Who I Am by Elaine A. Powers, Author

A collage of 12 colorful children's book coversLyric Power Publishing represents three authors at this time, though my books make up the largest quantity of LPP’s published works. Perhaps the parents and grandparents reading this will consider giving one or two of our wonderful children’s books (that are enjoyed by adults, too) this Christmas. With these books, kids learn that science is fun!~~EAP

I recently traveled to a foreign country (a pretty common event for me).  On the immigration form, countries often ask for your profession. During my life’s work, I put biologist. I was a laboratory researcher. On one trip to Africa, I think that admission got me thoroughly searched. Upon my return, I declared I had purchased some sine wood carvings. Every item and the suitcases themselves were thoroughly searched. They suspected I had brought back some illegal samples of something. Nope, just a few nice carvings done by a local craftsman.

After I took early retirement, I put down “retired” as my profession, even though I was actively writing and trying to build my book business.

The author Elaine A. Powers head shot against a green background
(Made by the author’s proud website staff for her. She is also a wonderful employer.)

So, for the first time, on this last trip, I put down “Author” as my profession. I don’t know why it’s been so hard for me to consider myself a professional writer. I have always loved science, and I recently realized that the enjoyment I get from writing and sharing about science has made my book business into a real business. I really, truly am an author.

Come join me in my adventure. Share your thoughts with me in a comment below and on Facebook here and here and here. Read my books that weave science into poetry and adventure tales, making science fun. Science should be fun! Check out Lyric Power Publishing’s workbooks, which tie into LPP’s books, and are so well made by a teacher’s teacher. We are very proud of them here. They are extensive, multi-subject with a focus–like iguanas! We say, “Why not do math counting iguanas?

a white and light blue book cover with an image of an iguana's headFor educators and homeschooling parents, LPP offers a 30-page workbook called My Unit Study on Iguanas designed for students in grades 2-4. It’s filled with fun and educational pages and puzzles, all about the iguana.

a light brown book cover with green lettering: Queen of the Night: Night Blooming Cereus, with illustration of a white flower
Biologist and Author Elaine A. Powers includes both scientific facts and the magic of this Southwestern Desert plant in her book, QUEEN OF THE NIGHT: THE NIGHT-BLOOMING CEREUS. Powers says being a musician helped her to weave into poetry the plant parts, the blooming cycle, the plant’s growing conditions, and its pollinators. This wonderful book about a very special plant in the Sonoran Desert is for all ages.