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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.

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What is it About the Ocean? by Elaine A. Powers, Author

turquoise and white ocean waves against an orange sunset
Image courtesy of Ruben Eduardo Ortiz Morales from Pixabay

What is it about the ocean that stimulates my muse? Sure, I can write at home in the desert, but I feel so much more creative with salty waves lapping at the shore, or crashing on the rocks. Maybe it’s the salty air blowing the cobwebs and dust of the mental doldrums from my mind. I have been noticing this more and more. I go to the ocean and I can’t write fast enough. There are times at home in Arizona where I have to fight for every word and then I throw most of it away.

Don’t get me wrong–I do love my desert home. Yet, somewhere in my soul, I need the ocean stimulus periodically. I shouldn’t be surprised by this, since my first book was inspired on an island while on a cruise. Curtis the curly-tail lizard of Warderick Wells climbed onto my sneaker and stayed there for a couple of hours! I don’t know if his adventure tale really happened to him, or if it was his dream, but when I got back to my cabin, his story poured out of me.

I am a biologist who now has 23 books in print! Children’s books based in science–even the fun rhyming books, and adventure tales, and especially, my pleas to save endangered species. It’s been a wonderful adventure so far, and I’m looking forward to wherever the waves of the muse take me, because I never know who I’ll meet that will inspire my next story.

What fun!

Here is Curtis’ second adventure tale. His new friendship is tested when his home island’s ecosystem is threatened.

A book cover with a Curly-tail lizard riding on the back of a Hutia, a rodent
Curtis Curly-tail and Horace Hutia become friends after the declining hutia population are brought to Warderick Wells Cay. But when the hutia damage the cay’s ecosystem, what will the scientists do? It’s a very difficult situation for the friends and the island. The reader puts him or herself in the shoes of the scientists and chooses the ending to the story.
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November is Full of Unique Celebrations! by Elaine A. Powers, Author

a company logo for author Elaine A PowersNovember is an exciting month for me. It includes National Author’s Day, to celebrate your favorite authors and perhaps try reading the work of a new one. Humility should prevent me from doing so, but may I suggest the science-based books by Elaine A. Powers? LOL.

Storytelling is a part of all human cultures. Today, authors provide us with entertainment, as well as information. November is also National Family Literacy Month. Celebrate by sharing books with your family members. Read to each other. Read with each other. Lyric Power Publishing offers workbooks filled with comprehensive, educational and fun activity sheets that could be colored together and enjoyed by the entire family.

Reading can build up an appetite, so while you’re making yourself a meal, cook something for your pets, because National Cook for Your Pets Day is also in November. Most of my pets’ meals are freshly prepared raw fruits and vegetables. However, once in a while, I do cook butternut squash for my iguanas and tortoises. It is nice and soft and they enjoy it immensely, shoving their faces into the squishy, tasty pulp.

head of rock iguana eating cooked squash

Once they have eaten their fill, they scrape off the residue; after all, they don’t want to be seen with squash on their face!

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Do Lizards Scurry, Skitter or Scamper? By Elaine A. Powers, Author

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.

Writers are continually encouraged to use active verbs. A verb is a word that shows action.  A verb can be either active or passive. A verb is active when the subject of the sentence is doing a specific action. For example, ‘The iguana ate the leaves.’  The passive voice of the same sentence is, ‘The leaves were eaten by the iguana.’

Verbs should also convey information about the action. Did the iguana walk over to the leaves or did she run or leap? So, choosing the correct word is important. Which brings me to the topic of this blog:  When describing the movement of a lizard, does she scurry or skitter?  I always thought a lizard scurried, as you will read in my books, like Curtis Curly-tail is Lizardnapped pictured above, but a friend suggested that a lizard skitters. What’s the difference between the verbs?

To scurry is defined as moving in a brisk pace. To skitter also means to move rapidly, but with frequent changes in direction.  So maybe my friend is right in saying that the characters in my books are skittering.

But wait, what about the verb, to scamper? A lizard could scamper with quick, light steps from fear or excitement.

There are so many interesting verbs I should be using in my books.  This was an interesting language study lesson for me.

Check my future books to see how my lizards move! Will they scurry, skitter or scamper?  

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Were They Scribbling in My Books? by Elaine A. Powers, Author

colorful children's book cover with illustrations of curly-tail lizardsThe Lime Lizard Lads, curly-tail lizards of Cayman Brac, seek an adventure up on the bluff. Their goal is to reach Nani Cave and meet the dragon that lives there. Gene and Bony soon realize how big and how dangerous the world really is. Leaving home is easy, but can the lads make it back?

In a previous blog, I wrote about the writer’s life and how satisfying it is to see your books on display in stores. I’d like to add to that a story of something very special that happened to me regarding one of my books set on Cayman Brac, The Dragon of Nani Cave. The story takes place on the island as the two lead characters, curly-tail lizards called the Lime Lizard Lads, have an adventure searching for ‘the dragon.’  I always enjoy books set in real locations and I love it when the author gets it right. The illustrations in Dragon were drawn from photos I had taken on my visits.

Children's books in a glass display caseThe merchants on Cayman Brac have been very gracious in putting my books out for sale, including a gift shop at the Brac Airport. I was chatting with owner at the counter where my books were on display, when two couples came up, looking for souvenirs for their grandchildren and children. They ended up buying my books, which, of course, I personalized for them. We chatted for a while and then we settled in to wait for our flight to be called.

I noticed each of them was reading one of my books. I glanced over, hoping they were enjoying the books, but I didn’t want to openly stare. Then they were writing on the illustrations on the books! What was going on?

One of them exclaimed, “That’s exactly what the lighthouse looked like!” They all agreed with her conclusion as they passed the book around. It turned out that they were adding their memories to the illustrations.  What wonderful gifts for their family members! I was so honored to be part of their trip to the Brac.

So, go ahead and write about your travels in my books! I’ll be delighted.

For educators and homeschooling parents, LPP offers workbooks jam-packed with fun activity sheets,  designed for students in grades K-5.  The following workbook coordinates with the above children’s book, The Dragon of Nani Cave.

a green and white book cover with the image of a book called The Dragon of Nani Cave

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A Writer’s Life By Elaine A. Powers, Author

Black bookshelf holding books on the Cayman Islands
It’s very satisfying to see your books on display in a store. So, don’t ever give up on your writing dreams!

I am often asked why I write books. Mostly, it’s due to the multitude of stories cluttering up my mind. I never thought I would publish any of them and create books, but you never know where life will lead you. I always hope people will enjoy my books, but I do derive a great deal of enjoyment from writing them.

So it is satisfying, and humbling, when I see my books prominently displayed in bookstores and gift shops. I have been very fortunate with the merchants of the Cayman Islands.

Not only it is exciting to see my books displayed for sale, but to see the company they keep! In Books and Books on Grand Cayman, they are hanging out with Pedro and Georgie. I like that they offer books on animals from around the world, but are generous with shelf space for books set in the Cayman Islands.

A glass case holding the books of author Elaine A. PowersDown the road at the gift shop of the National Trust of the Cayman Islands, my books are also featured, along with other children’s science-based books. I was able to stock them with the newest CI-themed release, The Lime Lizard Lads and the Ship of Sneakers. This book has proven to be very popular on Grand Cayman and it is challenge to keep them in stock. But my marketing agent, Bonnie Scott, and I accept the challenge!

book cover, with beach and ocean, a pair of sneakers, with curly-tail lizards in them
The Lime Lizards of Cayman Brac, Gene and Bony decide to see where the tourists come from. They set sail on their adventure in a ship of sneakers. Will they ever see the Brac again?

My books may also now be found in all the libraries of the Cayman Islands, through the Friends of the CI Libraries, who purchased the copies. Their support of books about the islands is very commendable and I appreciate their generosity.

At the CI Book Fair held at the Main Library in George Town, teachers and schools were enthusiastic about my books. I hope to work with them in developing lesson plans to enhance their STEM education efforts. Many of the fun and educational workbooks available on LyricPower.net incorporate the characters found in the storybooks.

a blue and turquoise book cover with an image of Cayman Islands passport cover

This passport craft is a fun way for students in grades 1-3 to learn about thirteen animals that live on the island of Cayman Brac in the Caribbean. Once the passport craft is put together, your students begin filling in their passports as they learn about the different animals! Assembly instructions included.

a white and blue book cover with an image of a desert tortoiseForty-seven pages of fun activities about tortoises. Includes a KWL chart, fact sheet and coloring page; label the parts or a tortoise; predators of the tortoise coloring page; color by multiplication and division, color by three-digit addition; reading comprehension, 3rd and 4th grade vocabulary; four vocabulary-in-context pages; dangers to tortoises; ecology short answer; fill-in-the blank reading comprehension; True-or-False; cut-and-paste life-cycle; cause-and-effect worksheet; project sheets for writing a fable; nouns, adjectives, and adverbs; ecology crossword puzzle and word search.

I am still writing science-based books that take place on three of my favorite islands in the world. I look forward to many more visits and whatever adventures come next!

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Monday is National Clean Your Virtual Desktop Day by Elaine A. Powers, Author

Image courtesy of Media Monk from Pixabay

Trust me when I say the odds are high that my virtual desktop will be cleaned on Monday, October 21, 2019. I don’t mind clicking delete to tidy up my file list, or cleaning out the computer cache, and I do like a tidy document file.

However, outside the computer, as my friends will tell you, I like clutter. I live in clutter. I thrive in clutter. And I certainly agree with the University of Minnesota study in 2013 that showed that people with a cluttered desk are more intelligent and creative!

Even Albert Einstein said, “If a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, of what, then, is an empty desk a sign?”

So, please, if you are so inclined, give your virtual desktop a good cleaning on Monday, but leave that cluttered physical desk alone.

If you’d like to see the results of a cluttered desk, please see the science-based and fun children’s books I’ve written in the midst of it all!
screenshot LPP webpage

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The Call of the Ocean May Not Be Denied by Elaine A. Poweres, Author

ocean off of Cayman BarcI live in Arizona, a landlocked state. I, like many other Arizonans, feel the need to visit an ocean now and then. Many Tucsonan’s head south to Rocky Point. I usually go a bit farther. The photo above is of ocean off the coast of Cayman Brac. This brings peace to my being.

The need to visit the ocean has been captured by a variety of poets. The one that most often comes to mind is Sea Fever by John Masefield. I find the second stanza the most appropriate to me.

I must go down to the seas again, for the call of the running tide

Is a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied;

And all I ask is a windy day with the white clouds flying,

And the flung spray and the blown spume, and the sea-gulls crying.

Watching the ocean always stimulates my creativity and I often wish I could spend more time there. As Helen Keller wrote: “I could never stay long enough on the shore; the tang of the untainted, fresh, and free sea air was like a cool, quieting thought.”

So I’m sharing this image with you so that you, too, might have cool, quieting thoughts.

However, in order to write the books inspired by the water, I have to go indoors. The salt in the island air is not good for a laptop. When I need a recharge of my muse, I’ll pull this photo out and hear that “clear call that may not be denied.”

I’ve written a couple of adventure tales about Curly-tail lizards called the Lime Lizards Lads. Their stories are set on Cayman Brac. You can enjoy a bit of this special place by going along on their adventures.

colorful children's book cover with illustrations of curly-tail lizardsThe Lime Lizard Lads, curly-tail lizards of Cayman Brac, seek an adventure up on the bluff. Their goal is to reach Nani Cave and meet the dragon that lives there. Gene and Bony soon realize how big and how dangerous the world really is. Leaving home is easy, but can the lads make it back?

book cover, with beach and ocean, a pair of sneakers, with curly-tail lizards in them
The Lime Lizards of Cayman Brac, Gene and Bony decide to see where the tourists come from. They set sail on their adventure in a ship of sneakers. Will they ever see the Brac again?