Friday, November 22, 2013

Patches the Polar Bear

Thought you might like to see the photos of Patches, the NC Zoo's new polar bear exploring her new home. She arrived at the zoo on Wednesday evening. No word yet on when the exhibit will reopen to the public. They will allow Patches some time to settle in first. So here are some photos to tide you over. And don't forget to stop by The Ravens Crossing today for some YA fiction fun with Wildwood Tides, my latest story. There are lions and tigers and bears in the story, even. Well, no bears yet, but they will make an appearance. I bet you people are not surprised. Have a fantastic day. You can find the beginning of this season at by clicking here.

Welcome to North Carolina, Patches!!

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Two Young California Sea Lions Rescued

My friends at The North Carolina Zoo sent me this fab photo of Dyson, one of two young rescued California sea lions the zoo took in last Thursday. The pups were rescued by Sea World of San Diego after being abandoned or losing their mothers. The two arrived without incident and I'm told are resting comfortably at the Zoo's Rocky Coast holding area for their required thirty day quarantine. “Storm,” the female, and “Dyson,” the male, are estimated to be sixteen months old and were both found stranded on La Jolla Beach near San Diego in June 2012. 

Sea World of San Diego, has saved more than 400 marine mammals over the past year--an average of 12 per day. Most of the animals are rehabilitated and returned to the wild. But a few, like Storm and Dyson, cannot be released for various reasons. These animals are owned by the National Marine Fisheries Service and, when possible, are placed on loan to accredited U.S. zoos and aquariums. I can tell you honestly, though it's sad they can't be released back into the wild, Dyson and Storm have found a good home at the NC Zoo. It's tempting to rush out to the zoo and get a glimpse of the youngsters, but for the best chance to view them, it's probably a good idea to plan your welcome visit for the spring. All the best to Dyson and Storm in their new home.

In other fantastic news, Season Four of The Ravens Crossing started last week with a whole new group of main characters. Stories will post three days a week this season with Andi Lea's Wildwood Knights on Mondays, West Thornhill's Wildwood Dreams on Wednesdays, and me on Fridays. Without giving too much away, my Wildwood Tides story centers around a Wild Animal Park. So, drop round for some new adult fiction fun.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

The Owl and the Pussycat, Strange Bedfellows

Apparently, Fum and Gebra have their own website. Look them up. My mother passed along the following video to me. I had to share it. Enjoy!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Oscar Has a Plus One

My family has a habit of calling every black rat snake they run across on our farm, be it in our garage, the attic, or the backyard by the name of Oscar. The original Oscar was named by my uncle after he got done screaming like a teenager at a One Direction concert, that is. The snake had crawled over the door frame that led from the garage to the house and wigged my uncle slam out. He had to be convinced that there were very good reasons to keep said black rat snake around. That took some doing, let me tell you.

Less mice and rats and general pest species that carry all manner of diseases around the house was one of the selling points. But, I'm fairly sure that knowing the black rat snake would establish a territory and thereby keep the other more venomous relatives away was probably the thing that finally convinced the uncle to leave Oscar alone. Well, that and bestowing upon him a name. That seemed to give the guy personality and suddenly the uncle was no longer so keen on killing him.

Over the years, the whole family has gotten used to "Oscar" and they often now come running, but rather than to scream and ask me to get rid of it, they are more interested in pointimg "him" out so I can see him whenever they run across him. I have kept it pretty close to the vest that there was probably more than one Oscar around judging by the variation in size and markings on the snakes they were finding. So far, that has been my little secret. At least until today.

This morning, my mother came rushing in from the yard to tell me Oscar had been spotted breakfasting in the rose garden. "Come quick and see." Sure enough, there Oscar was, all lumpy and obviously well fed. But, here's the clincher. While we were standing there watching him, Oscar's plus one decided to make an appearance and crawled right across the yard beside us. So much for stealth.

The mother wanted to know what this meant for her birds, and we had to have the whole snake has to eat conversation. But, otherwise she didn't seem too upset by the news. I am stoked that Oscar has a "girlfriend" and various other family members around. Others might not be so pleased. Since the cat's already out of the bag, fair warning Uncle. You might want to break out the girly voice and get it ready for the next run in. Luckily for Oscar and his friends, they can't hear you screaming. So go ahead and do your worst. It's all good.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Animal Moms and Ellen

This year, Ellen's Mother's Day show had an audience filled with expectant mothers and her opening monologue was right up my alley, since it was all about animal mothers from around the world. In case you missed it, I thought I'd share. Happy Mother's Day, everyone.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

The Cinco in Mayo Stands for Five Reasons to Love Your Dog!

Anyone who knows me knows that I found my little dog on this fateful day twelve years ago and named her Cinco de Mayo. It was fitting, not only because of the date, but because I grew up in Morelia, Mexico, and though I realize the holiday is more an American thing, still, it seemed like a name that suited us both.

Her puppy years were a bit rough, since she had been abused even in her short existence before I found her, so she suffers from a smidge of separation anxiety. I admit there were years where I said the Cinco stood for five reasons never to own a dog. But, she has become my best friend and faithful companion, and looking back I wouldn't change a thing.

Last year I told the story of finding her over on my other blog. You can read that here. I've blogged about Miss Cinco a lot, in fact. Check out her doggy diva days as a local celebrity here. Or, how about the time she helped the firemen promote the new Forest Fire Station. She gets around.

Anyway, all this is really just to say, Happy Cinco de Mayo to you all, and most of all, Happy Birthday, fabulous Cinco. I love you, my little nugget. Yes, I realize she can't read this, but it's nice to put it out there, anyway.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Edith Widder and the Giant Squid

When I learned it was a woman's innovation that first captured a live giant squid on camera, I had a throw two arms in the air, touchdown kind of a moment. Can't help it. This excites me. But, just wait until you find out the brilliant plan she came up with. I'm going to let her tell you in her own words. Here is a recent TED talk by Edith Widder explaining the science and filming behind the recent Discovery documentary, Looking for Giant Squid.

The Singing Cow Cracks Me Up!

What can I say. I love this freaking ridiculous commercial, and no I am not trying to sell you anything. Milk does not always do the body good, particularly if you are lactose intolerant. And happy cows might live in all kinds of places. I'm not sure why they would be so thrilled by the overpopulated state of California when they could perhaps choose more wide open spaces, but whatever. All that aside, I had to share this commercial because it makes me smile.. Hope your day begins with a little time for singing in the shower!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

'Tis the Season. Butterflies are here!

Today, I finally felt like spring was here. Yes, I know the Vernal Equinox has already passed, but it was snowing here the other day. You heard me. Snowing in Virginia in April. It's been a little trippy weird. Anyway, today I broke out the shorts and enjoyed some fun in the sun. Now that the day is done, I find myself looking through my photography from the past two years. I thought I'd share a few. I'm partial to winged insects, it seems. All of the photos appearing on this page are my own. Feel free to use the images in any way you see fit, as long as you attribute Amanda Corlies as the artist.
Happy spring, peeps!

Don't forget to check out the online young adult adventure over at The Ravens Crossing . It's a ton of fun!

Thursday, April 4, 2013

March Madness Brought A Plethora of New Species

Being a science nerd, I spend a good deal of time most mornings trolling the science blogs, news outlets, and magazines. Maybe it's just me, but March seemed to be the month for new species to come out of the woods, or whatever habitat they call home. And these aren't just in one area of the globe, but all over the freaking place. Heck, a highway being dug in California even netted us the remains of a new and previously unknown whale species. But, I'm not talking fossils here, people. I'm talking living breathing beings we had no idea existed until now. Isn't that amazing? With all our technology, we are still discovering. So, I give you some new wonders of the earth, ocean, and sky to ponder. Hooray for March Madness.

Photo Courtesy of Avi Klapfer
First, may I introduce a new, and apparently unnamed deep sea jellyfish. This was recorded by the submarine DeepSee while exploring around the island of Desventuradas off the coast of Chile. The discovery is being credited to Enric Sala.

Photo Courtesy of Peter Kappeler
And as usual, Madagascar just keeps turning out the wonders. There are now two new species of Madagascan mouse lemurs on the books. Here you have the Marohita mouse lemur caught on film for the very first time.

Photo Courtesy of Philippe Verbelen
Meet the Rinjani Scops Owl and, okay, I admit, this one is a little bit of a cheat. They've known about this little guy who lives only on Lombok Island, a resort island off the coast of Bali for, like, ten years. It has a very similar species it lives with, and scientists had to have time to verify that this is indeed a different species entirely. As it turns out, this little owl sings an entirely different song. So the truth is in the music. At last, it has been confirmed as it's own species.

Photo Courtesy of Ranil Nanayakkara

And not to leave out the insects, I give you a brand new giant tarantula who just happens to be venomous. Woot. Isn't he gorgeous? From Sri Lanka, it is on average the size of a human face. Wow! This guy lives in the trees of the forest and is now threatened by deforestation. Guess what people, when you cut down their trees, where do you think these babies are going to go? Under the house, perhaps? One more reason to leave their habitat alone, if you ask me. I mean, he's pretty, but I'd prefer he keep to the trees, thanks.

So, there you have it. A few new species making the official science books here and there. There are plenty more where these came from. Can't wait to see what April brings.

Monday, April 1, 2013

My New Position as an Internet Sommelier

I'm very excited to announce that I have been given a new and prestigious position on an up and coming project with Google. My former zookeeping experience and my contacts in the zoo community have really paid off this time! As of today, I am proud to be one of Google's Internet Sommeliers specializing in exotic animal scents. This is, of course, a new and unexpected turn for my career, but well, Google made me an offer that I simply couldn't turn my nose up at. If you haven't experienced the wonders of Google Nose, I highly recommend trying the Beta. And, I can promise you, just as soon as I am able, there will be all kinds of zoo smells for your senses to enjoy. Must go, have to begin gathering scentibytes. But, make sure you check out Google's video about the new project.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Lights Out!

Earth Hour happened yesterday, as I'm sure many of you already know. But, did you realize how seriously people around the globe took it. If you haven't already seen the video, check out some of the skylines that went dark to raise awareness about Climate Change.
After last summer's freak derecho, today I am sitting in Virginia on Palm Sunday in something like six inches of snow, and we don't get snow here in the valley that often, and very rarely this late in the year. So, I have a pretty big investment in raising awareness. If it takes a skyline going dark every now and then to get people to pay attention, then I'm all for it. Let's plan the next one!

In other news, I am being featured this coming week on True Colorz website along with my other co-creators of The Ravens Crossing, Andi Lea and West Thornhill.

Stop by and leave a comment and you are automatically entered to win our books. The Ravens Crossing, Book One and The Ravens Crossing, Books Two will both be part of the free giveaway.

Pop over to True Colorz and say hello.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

One Degree from the Cool Kids!

A long-time fan of all things Cornell, I recently discovered a friend of mine is now working over at their Lab of Ornithology. I went all geek girl, telling everyone about my one degree of separation, like this somehow meant I could now play with the cool kids who are doing amazing things for avian research. Anyway, said friend informed me she was working on the lab's new Bird of Paradise Project. So, of course, I've been over there snooping around for days. Now, they've unveiled the new site publicly, and it's amazing. 35 high definition videos of Birds of Paradise in their natural habitats in Papua, New Guinea. In case you don't know, that area of the world is vigilantly protected by natives (go natives), so getting westerners in to collect data isn't easy.  Check out one of the new vids from the Bird of Paradise Project website. Without further ado, I give you the most amazing sounding Curl-Crested Manucode. Make sure you watch for the bit on the anatomy that makes their wacky vocalizations possible. It's pretty wicked.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Love and a Kiss on the Head

Sending out love and peace and a kiss on the head this Valentines Day. 
Hope you all have a happy and safe holiday! As always, thanks for reading. =D

Friday, February 8, 2013

I Squee for Birds: Meet the Spoon-billed Sandpiper!

A long-time bird lover and ex keeper of birds, I admit to being a sucker. But, I have totally fallen in love with  the Spoon-billed Sandpiper, one of the most endangered birds on the planet. This is all Cornell Lab of Ornithology's fault. Well, them and Gerrit Vyn who trekked out onto the Russian tundra to film this fantastic footage. Stick with it and you will get to see the first ever film of the little fledglings coming off their nest. So amazing. Read all about it at the Cornell site! Sign up for their newsletter. They always share the coolest stuff.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

The Ravens Crossing Turns One!

Over the next two weeks, The Ravens Crossing is celebrating turning one with a giveaway to thank all of our fantastic readers. You are the best. Head on over to to enter and thanks for reading and for helping us spread the word about TRC! 

This past year has been a wild ride. When I look back, I'm shocked to see how much can be accomplished when friends come together to create something they truly believe in.  Exactly one year ago, TRC was born a small idea that grew into an amazing adventure. There are not enough words to thank my fellow writers and college alums Andi Lea, and West Thornhill, for making me a part of this project. We have managed to create a whole science fiction/fantasy world, present it in an innovative format, and provide affordable reading about diverse characters to young adults and people of all ages. All of the volunteers on this project have spent untold hours planning and writing our adventures and helping build and run a website to publish our serialized stores six days a week. The project is now in it's third season, and there are plenty more adventure planned. The future looks bright. For those who have just found us, you can purchase the previous seasons from the website in ebook format on Amazon and Smashwords.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

The Artful Dodger

Photo appears courtesy of the NC Zoo
With a heavy heart, I bid fond farewell to The North Carolina Zoo's Cougar, Dodger. This beautiful man lived fourteen years, but alas a severe degenerative joint disease got the better of him, and once treatments were no longer working, he had to be euthanized yesterday. I will never forget the day I first laid eyes on him. He came to the NC Zoo as a rescue with a somewhat sketchy past. He was found by firemen in an abandoned Detroit building. Eventually, confiscated by the Michigan Humane Society, Dodger came to the NC Zoo at three months of age. And let me tell you, he was so freaking cute, and seriously into everything. The king of mischief, this boy. I used to tell him about Max and the Wild Things, my favorite childhood story, and regularly threaten to send him to bed without his supper, though he knew my threats were empty, and he had all of us wrapped around his already sizable claws from the word go. Several of us were given the fantastic opportunity to assist in caring for this exuberant cub. We fed and entertained Dodger while he was in the zoo's quarantine facility. It was a full-time job and a bit more work than the veterinary technicians who usually care for the area could handle alone. So, several of us were able to sign up for shifts. I loved my hours spent with Dodger as a young man. We wrestled, and he chewed my boots, and every now and then, if I was really lucky, he would curl up in my lap and let me cuddle him, which if I remember correctly we were kind of asked not to do, but who could resist? Generally, the snuggle time didn't last for long, anyway. There was so much to play with, so little time. Dodger grew into a fine and fabulous cat. Here are a couple old photos of him I found in my stash. To all of you who loved The Artful Dodger, my deepest condolences.

Photo Appears Courtesy Amanda Corlies Sandos

Photo Appears Courtesy of Amanda Corlies Sandos