The Coral Snake is well-known for its bright red, yellow, and black hooped skin. Several other snake species have developed a similar colour scheme to mimic the Coral Snake, which is useful because it portrays the non-venomous creatures as dangerous.
There is a rhyme used to remind people how to tell the difference. The rhyme is based on whether or not the red and yellow bands are touching. In more recent years it’s been discovered the simple verse is no longer accurate because of the impersonators.
An accurate, if slightly dangerous method of telling the difference is the bands on a Coral Snake encircle the body, as opposed to being an upper-body decoration.
In respect of the strength of its venom this creature is regarded as second only to the Black Mamba.
Species: One of few creatures which have two distinct groups before considering sub-species.
The first group are ‘Old World’ where there are 70 species.
The second group are ‘New World’ in which there are 15 species.
Size:They’re a particularly thin creature, some sub-species being as narrow as a pen or pencil. In length they may range from 15 inches to 36 inches dependent on species.
Habitat: The creatures are nocturnal. Old World species will tend to spend daylight hours underground or under leaf-litter. New World species would normally be found in rocky areas of desert, with a tendency to burrow, like most desert-dwelling creatures.
Location:Old World species: Asia. New World species: The Americas.
Diet: Other small snakes, amphibians, lizards.
Predators: Birds of Prey, Foxes, Raccoons, Skunks, and Mongooses.
Info / Strange Facts: In many species, the Coral Snake has a black, bullet shaped head and, a black tail section, which means at first glance it’s difficult to tell whether you are looking at the head or tail. Like most snakes the tail is pointed, rather than bullet-shaped. Due the colour of the head it makes it difficult to see the eyes.
This snake is known to coil its head within its body and raise the tail when confronted, thus leaving a predator to attack the tail. The Coral Snake is more likely to avoid confrontation by slithering into a hole, or crack, or burrowing out of sight.
is for Basilisk, Barracuda and Buzzard. We’ll look at Basilisk.
There are many lizards but the Green, Plumed, or Double-Crested Basilisk is one of the best-known. The creature has a bright green skin and, distinctive yellow eyes. From head to tip of tail it carries an almost continuous fin, or crest.
There are stretchable areas of skin between its toes similar to, but not as pronounced as those on an amphibian like a frog, toad or newt. The Basilisk can swim underwater for up to 30 minutes.
Species:The Basilisk is a member of the Iguana family of lizards.
Size:The average length from nose to tail is 25cm, however they are known to reach 90cm.
Habitat:The sub-species can be found in tropical rain forest and, rocky formations, usually where there is a water source.
Location:Generally found across Central America: Western Panama, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Honduras.
Diet: Basilisk species are omnivores and will eat insects, small rodents, smaller lizards and, vegetation including flowers.
Predators:Snakes and birds.
Info / Strange Fact: The Basilisk is famed for its ability to ‘run’ on water in an upright stance on its hind legs and tail. Hence the creature is known in some quarters as the ‘Jesus Lizard’.
Produce a short story of 1,000 words or less inspired from a choice of supplied graphics.
My response is ‘To Go Boldly …‘, a story of desire and duty.
New York City, New York 1982AD
“Jim darling,” Penny Kirk said, her eyes misting. “Please be careful out there.”
“Don’t worry love, her husband said. “I’m equal to the challenge, and you know I must push myself or I can’t get through the day.”
“I think 25 years with the New York Police Department proved what you’re capable of, so you need to learn to take it easy.”
He leaned forward and kissed his wife. “I’m not with the NYPD anymore, so I can’t understand why you worry so much.”
“You might not be, but you’re one of the only independent Extra-Terrestrial Investigators in the country, so I wish you’d join a government team.”
“I’m onto something this time Penny,” he said, his eyes gazing into those of his loving wife. “I promise if nothing comes from this theory tonight, I’ll apply to join the government team out in Phoenix, okay?”
“Okay darling, but I’ll still worry until you come home.”
“Remember your promise.”
“I know, I know,” she said, and the promise always lifted her from her morbid mood about her husband’s obsession.
“If you ever disappear I have to ask James Jnr to swear to carry on your full names in the family line.”
He nodded. “That’s my girl,” he said and reached out to touch a framed scroll near the door. He winked at his wife, lifted his overnight bag and was gone.
Penny sat at the breakfast bar next morning drinking a black coffee. She stared at the scroll her husband had fitted on the wall beside the main door the day their son was born, and dimples appeared in her cheeks.
James Jnr had already left for school. Before leaving, he’d kissed his mother, and then as he’d left the house he’d touched the framed scroll and looked back at his mother with a broad smile. “I’m real proud of Dad, and I’m gonna be just like him.”
Penny lifted the remote control and flicked to the news channel.
‘This is Cathy Soames from NYRTV reporting from Central Park.’ The young blonde stepped back to allow the cameraman to pan around the area, and the broadcast continued.
‘It was on this bridge in the early hours of the morning when a bolt of lightning struck the bridge. There had been no rain, thunder, or lightning previous to the unprecedented broad flash of bluish-white light. Two eye-witnesses were sleeping rough in the park, and both said they recognised a man who’d been standing on the bridge prior to the flash.’
A photograph of Penny’s husband in NYPD uniform took up half of the screen, and alongside it, a recent newspaper article showing him with a large telescope.
Penny Kirk was unaware of the coffee dripping over the breakfast bar until it spilled onto her bare legs. As she listened to the reporter, the words became a mumbling message, and the TV screen blurred as tears filled Penny’s blue eyes.
“No,” Penny whispered. “Please don’t let it be-,”
The doorbell disturbed her plea to whosoever or whatever controlled these things. She went to the door in a daze, not bothering to deal with the damp front of her coffee-stained dressing gown. She opened the door and stared at the two uniformed officers.
“Hello ma’am, I’m Patrolman O’Brien, and this is Patrolman Jefferson ….”
Phoenix, Arizona 2255AD
Jim looked around his sparse but comfortable accommodation, and before leaving looked out across the vast complex of the Space Academy to the new ship. It was built near the academy so it would serve as an inspiration.
The magnificent craft was completed and awaited the crew – a select bunch of highly trained people who were prepared to tackle a five-year long mission into the unknown. They would be led by the youngest captain in Earth’s fleet.
Jim stopped at the door and gazed at the glass-framed scroll which had been handed down through generations. For the first time, he read it aloud.
“James means supplanter – the one who replaces. Tiberius was the strong Roman Emperor who ruled for over 20 years. Kirk, a family name derived from the ancient Church of Scotland, and earlier from the Greek for Lord’s House.”
“I will make you proud,” The captain said, as he gently placed a fingertip on the frame in the way he did every day. “I’ll strive to make you as proud of us, as we’ve all been of you.”
Jim placed his hand over his heart as he read the request at the bottom of the 280-year-old scroll, ‘Please bear this name with pride, remember the full meaning of your inherited name, and be prepared to go boldly toward the future.’
It was signed James Tiberius Kirk, New York City, USA – 1975.
is for April, and it will come as no surprise that the A to Z April Challenge is … a challenge held in April using the letters of the alphabet, from A to Z.
Is it free? Yes.
Is it fun? Yes.
Is it worthwhile? Yes.
Have I ever completed the challenge? Yes.
What is it all about – really?
Essentially, it’s about increasing your presence in the blogosphere. If you have a blog and you feel you don’t have many followers it can be down to several factors.
– You might have an interesting theme in your regular posts, but may not be relating it in an interesting way.
– You may find yourself wondering how to make your topics attract followers.
– You might even be new to the blogging idea and the best way to learn what works is to visit others – and comment.
– Make an effort to become a part of the international blogging scene.
I’ve provided a link if you click on the logo towards the end of this post. Or you can check out the details here: A to Z April Challenge 2016. You might well fancy attempting to complete the challenge this year. If you make the effort to try it, you have nothing to lose, and a lot to gain.
I heard about the A to Z April Challenge from writer, reviewer and prolific blogger, Damyanti Biswas.
I enrolled on the 2014 challenge and I chose to use the topic of writing as my theme for the month. As always, I had several projects on the go simultaneously, so fitting in a daily post and then reading and commenting on at least five other posts became a real challenge.
Okay, having said all of the above regarding my first attempt, I did enjoy my efforts and those of the other bloggers. My followers increased and I still visit some of those bloggers I met in 2014 during the challenge.
I admit, I am a writer who blogs, as opposed to a blogger who writes.
What does that mean?
It means that for me, blogging is a means to an end. It is an author platform.
For many, blogging becomes a social activity and in several years experience of the international community, I’ve found insights into many areas.
What did I do in my challenge posts in 2014?
As an example, I’ll provide the link here for my final post of 2014:
Do I have any advice for those are considering the challenge for 2016?
Yes. I’d have two pieces of advice, apart from suggesting you try the challenge.
1. Don’t use the first topic / theme that comes to mind. List about five things you’re really interested in, and then choose one.
2. Set up a file with the letters of the alphabet, and build a small catalogue of posts in preparation. It’s even better if you can prepare your entire month (26 posts) in advance. All you have to do then is either edit them or have a quick look before posting.
Why not check it out by clicking on the logo to the left, or if you like, I’ll happily field early questions. Better still is to contact Damyantidirectly.
Thank you for reading … and maybe we’ll see each other out there in April.
I’ve left behind a year which felt productive from beginning to end.
My primary objective for 2016is that it will be at least as fulfilling as last year.
I will continue to deal with my Work in Progress (WIP) simultaneously, and in that way each project will feel fresh at every session.
Codename: Koki is the debut novel by Malcolm Beadle. He is fellow writer and friend who is more comfortable scriptwriting, which is why he needs support to edit and fine-tune his first action thriller. Malcolm has a direct and entertaining storytelling style.
As mentioned in a blog post last year, I intend to visit each of my present novels in the order they were published. My intention is to revise each book, but using the reviews as my guide. I will amend the book covers as I complete the revisions.
TheIASD website / blog is now fit for purpose, but we are going to introduce new ideas and aim to achieve regular interaction for our members and visitors.
The Admin team will be driving the changes, but from this point onward, guided by the comments, suggestions and support of the whole group. There will be more on an update in January.
I’ve got some serious work ahead of me now, so I will thank you for dropping by and any comments.
Like many other writers, I enjoy turning a fresh page, whether it be reading, writing, or turning that page metaphorically. As we approach another year end / beginning, I’m taking a look back at my targets for 2015.
I published A Taste of Honey in December 2014, so I was delighted to begin my new writing year with great reviews of my latest title.
In that happy frame of mind, I set myself the following aims:
1. Update the ‘back pages’ information in all of my books. 2. Read and review more work by the members of the IASD writing group. 3. Step in quietly and offer assistance to new / novice writers wherever possible. 4. Update my author website, creative writer and artist website, and this blog. 5. Attempt a book or series for children. 6. Write a new novel. 7. Write a sequel to one of my present novels. 8. Write another anthology of short stories. 9. Work harder at my ongoing project of my fact-based fiction, coming-of-age story. 10. Work hard to make my blog topics interesting.
How did I do with my ten general topics?
1. I updated the information for the back pages of my published titles, and set out a standard document to make the process simpler as I moved forward.
2. I read and reviewed 15 books in the IASD.
3. I’ve given assistance to three novice authors directly from our group. At the time of writing I am editing a fellow writer’s debut novel. I’ll be formatting the finished manuscript, and producing the cover for him in 2016.
4. I updated my two personal websites and my blog, and in an ongoing effort to streamline and improve them, I’ve gone on to overhaul my secondary website and this blog twice more within the past year.
5. On my first attempt at writing for children, Ifailed on several levels, but rather than dwell on a specialised genre where I recognise I don’t belong, I decided to leave the genre to those who write it well.
6. A fresh novel was beginning to look like another thriller, but I decided to throw caution to the wind and based on the success of my erotica anthology – I wrote a novel in the same genre.
9. My fact-based fiction novel is now taking shape as my first attempt at a series. It is presently intended to be a five-part story. The first book is ready to be formatted. A Life of Choice – Part One will be published on Amazon in January 2016.
10. I’ve written blog articles on marketing, blogging, writing anthologies, and a few other topics. My official followers have now risen to the dizzy heights of 170+.
What else have I been up to?
I had an article in Writing Magazine in March, highlighting my writing successes to date.
I wroteGoals, a short story for the charity anthology, You’re Not Alone, being produced by Ian D Moore. Stories from 28members of the IASD were included and it went live on Amazon in July.
Since October, I’ve been working hard on the IASD website with fellow Admin guys, Paul Ruddock andIan D Moore. The restructuring is complete and the new, improved version of our website will be posted for public viewing in January, complete with our first Featured Author of 2016.
I’ve signed up to another couple of websites too, but whether they will prove useful in the long run is hard to predict.
My most recent trial has been signing up to BookLinker. This is a site where a regular Amazon URL can be transformed into a ‘universal’ link. I’ve been using the links on Facebook and I’ll be reporting my findings in January 2016.
That’s about it for this year, so I’d like to say a sincere thank you to all who have played a part in my writing journey over the past 12 months, whether it be in buying my titles, reviewing, offering advice, reading my blog, or any number of other things.
Have a great end to the holiday season, thank you for checking out my scribbles again, and I’ll see you all in 2016 with a new set of projects.
No, it’s not a question about bedroom antics – but I have written a few stories in that area. Yes, it is do with journeys, but not merely in space, the final frontier – some of the journeys are much closer to home.
How far are we prepared to allow our imaginations go?
A reader should enjoy more than one genre, even if they tend to lean more to a main one.
Yes, I’m a lover of adventure stories, and thrillers, but I’ve read and enjoyed romance, paranormal, horror, YA, sci-fi, dystopian, and a few more besides.
How does a variety of material reward me as a reader?
Apart from enjoying the variety, I believe it helps me to focus clearly when I return to the bedrock of my reading – the thriller, or adventure story.
A creative writer ought to try something similar. In my humble opinion, a writer should occasionally get out of their comfort zone, and stretch. They should exercise the main accessory in the toolbox of their craft – imagination.
In the previous section, I mentioned being able to focus clearly on my return to reading thrillers or adventure stories. Switching genre also aids me as a writer.
How can altering my reading assist me as a creative writer?
Until recently, I looked upon Science Fiction as a genre beyond my reach, but one day when my caffeine levels were particularly high, it struck me that it had more to do with imagination than knowledge of the genre.
I will tackle any genre for two reasons.
1– to find out if I enjoy the writing.
2 – to find out if I can entertain in that particular area.
In the same way a reader might choose to stick with what they know, so too can a writer, but if you’re a single-genre writer, let me, as a multi-genre writer put an idea to you.
Think about the excitement of setting up a new story. Now, imagine trying a new story in a genre you’ve never tried before.
Let’s go full circle, and get back to where we came in to this article.
How far should we go?
In my efforts to push myself and to entertain those people kind enough to try, or continue to support my brand – I am prepared to go to considerable lengths.
My thrillers and erotica are laced with incidents from my life, some big, some small, but my latest venture has taken me to the stars … and I’ve landed characters on some of them.
This is not only my work, but includes the efforts of a handful of guest authors who have each been kind enough to indulge me by donating a story.
Why did I invite guest authors?
I didn’t do it because I wasn’t confident to produce my standard 12 stories for a collection.
I didn’t do it because I wasn’t confident in writing a genre I’ve only dabbled in previously.
My aim was to produce the best and most varied collection I could on such a wonderful topic. I want readers of this collection to sit back and think about the stories and the theories long after reading our efforts. I know that my guests would echo the sentiment that we want readers of this collection to truly enjoy the journeys.
I sent out an open invitation a few weeks ago, to give fellow authors an opportunity to join me in this venture. At the time of this article, two of my six guests are novice writers, and four are experienced writers, but all will have their own take on what makes a good sci-fi tale, and for me, that is the exciting part.
This book will have three key components, apart from the running theme of the genre.
1– Six stories are penned by me.
2 – Six stories are penned by my guest authors.
3– Three ‘bonus’ stories by me will be added at the end. These three extra stories are already featured in other collections.
I will not be posting the guest authors’ names on the Amazon page when I publish, because this will connect us in the complexities of Amazon’s referral system. It’s not a topic to deal with here.
I decided it would be more beneficial to put those authors’ names where they belong – right there on the front cover, where I have my name. They will also be supplying personal contact information to be included in the book.
I feel that this is the fairest way to repay and market my guests.
How did I work out whose story goes where?
I considered the various hi-tech methods of dealing with this quandary, and in the name of fairness I’ve interspersed my work with my guests’ stories. I’ve placed the guest work in author / alphabetical order.
Whether or not you are a Sci-Fi aficionado, I would ask you to consider taking a look through your reading telescope at our joint effort when I publish – Sunday 20th December 2015. Perhaps having seen the sample in your telescope you’ll decide you’d like to take a shuttle to our many and varied destinations.
If you should decide to try our work, I’m sure I speak for all when I ask that you be kind enough to leave a review of your findings.
As always, you have my sincere thanks for reading my thoughts, plans and intentions. All comments are ‘Welcome’.
It might not appear so at first, but ‘refreshing’ items for a writer is a wide and varied area of responsibility. Refreshment is important – because it is for the writer’s personal benefit.
Let’s make a list …
1. Project list
2. Website, blog, and social networks
3. Personal bio and author photo
4. Book covers
5. Book supplementary content
6. Book pricing
8. To be Read (TBR)
9. Work in Progress (WIP)
10. Take regular breaks
1. Project List
As a priority, we must strive to maintain separate writing and domestic ‘to do’ lists.
A good way to deal with this is to differentiate between domestic and writing.
Refer to domestic ‘tasks,’ but writing ‘projects’.
In the domestic tasks list add in a heading – Writing Projects. To the right is an example of my present Writing Projects.
It’s a good reminder to treat it as a different part of the writer’s life.
2. Website, blog and social networks
In my articles I use my projects to give examples, and this is a recurring project for me.
I write an update for my author website every week. I write an update for my secondary website every month, and I write a blog post when a relevant topic comes to mind – like this one.
Remember if you have an Amazon Author Page – update it too. If you haven’t got one – get one organised.
In the last few weeks I’ve completely overhauled my secondary website and it’s had a few compliments. I’ve also given this blog a facelift and consolidated the main menu.
Here are items that many writers have issues producing. My suggestion would be to read up on the topic, and compose a bio. I have different bios, because I’ve found it useful. One is 50 words – when brevity is required, another is 100 words, which is sufficient to create a good personal writing history.
In my opinion, the bio for a website can afford to be longer, depending on the purpose of the website. A key point to keep in mind is – your writing bio should be clearly about your writing history and accomplishments – it is not about your granny, your rabbits, or your last holiday abroad.
If you’d like your writing to be taken seriously, take your profile and author photo seriously. My bios are both less than one month old, and my present photo is three months old. I don’t go to the extent of a ‘professional’ photo, but I trawl through several recent shots to get the best I can – and in cases like mine, that can be a task!
Practise your bio and give yourself a word limit. Produce two, three, or four so they can be adapted for a variety of purposes. If in doubt, send a copy to a fellow author you trust and ask for an opinion.
4. Book Covers
If you have a title out there which isn’t performing well, but has had a handful of good reviews, the lack of performance could be down to many things, among which is the cover – if you have any doubt – change it.
A few days ago I changed the cover of one of my books because it was stagnating. Within 48 hours of changing the cover, it sold again.
5. Book Supplementary Info
In the back pages of all of my eBooks I have supplementary information which includes: a short bio, and other titles.
We must ensure our bio is updated in all of our work as we produce another title, and we must ensure our latest title has all the others at the back.
Why at the back?
If you’ve published an eBook it will give more of a sample for prospective readers (customers), and the information is irrelevant if the prospective reader doesn’t buy.
This is marketing by stealth.
6. Book Pricing
Yes, we all love writing and we’d do it even if we weren’t paid. The flip-side of the coin is – while we can be paid, we don’t want to lose out. I abide by certain simple rules.
I have several titles out there covering a variety of genre and types of writing. I don’t consider myself a household name, so I price my work accordingly. Don’t set a high price on your first book, and don’t think a few five star reviews means you’ve made it and you can ask whatever price you like.
Keep in mind, there are thousands of e-Reader users who only download books which are free, or up to a certain price. We’ve all heard the phrase, ‘everyone has their price’, and it’s no different in the world of eBooks.
A few days ago I amended my pricing across the entire range of my catalogue. Always remember, it’s better to get 100 shares of a low price – rather than 2 shares of a high price.
Whether you made them or somebody else made them – keep them. At one end of the scale an ‘appointment’ might be the date you’ve set to promote a book with a low price. At the other end of the scale an ‘appointment’ might be a phone call or meeting with somebody who can influence your success – or failure.
8. To be Read (TBR)
I’m well known for my methodical approach.
On my Kindle I have a TBR – 1, and a TBR – 2. Apart from those, I have a TBR diary/journal which has all of the TBR 1 and 2 listed with genre and author name.
TBR – 1 is my priority list for reading and reviewing. TBR – 2 is my list of titles which I’ve collected as a matter of interest, but I’m in no hurry to get to them. Using my TBR journal I can decide which genre to switch to after a recent read. I tend never to read and review the same genre twice in succession.
9. Work in Progress (WIP)
When did you last look at your list of WIP?
I know there are many, who do as I do and work on various projects simultaneously, but we must set ourselves a time to remind ourselves what else we have and any ‘due dates’.
10. Take regular breaks
Yes, obvious isn’t it – but do you do it?
I work in retail part-time, so many of my days are hard-working, writing days. I enjoy a coffee while I work, but I am disciplined regarding breaks.
On an average writing day: By 7am – I’m already writing. By 10am – I’ve taken out an hour to deal with my first pass on social networking, so I take a 15-minute break (away from my writing). At 12noon – it’s lunch-time (for one hour).
At 3pm – I take my 15-minute afternoon break, and if my head isn’t in another world, I make a second pass on my social networking. At around 6 – 6.30pm I stop for dinner. I make a third pass on social networking in the evening.
Yes, that is the perfect day, but there are anomalies. I have the occasional coffee while I work. I will invariably come back to writing for an hour or two in the late evening, and I occasionally use a ‘break’ to catch up with social networking.
So my friends there we have it – we all need some refreshment in our writing lives.
I hope I’ve reminded, educated or inspired in some small way. As always, comments are appreciated and all will be acknowledged.
2. Dust off and get back to work on my fact-based fiction / coming of age story A Life of Choice, which I will now be producing in a series of books.
3. Continue to work behind the scenes to support and build on the success of the Indie Author Support and DiscussionFacebook group, especially with the restructuring of the group website.
4. Read and review titles from the IASD group website.
5. In December 2015 I will begin what I said I would do – commence a detailed revision and rewrite of all of my titles.
– Make a copy of the main manuscript.
– Read and make notes from every review, whether positive or negative issues.
– Locate and amend the negative issues as a priority.
– Read the story as a reader, and look out for the telltale signs of the novice. I will have a list of key words and phrases in front of me to locate and zap / replace.
– Subject each chapter individually to Grammarly to double-check punctuation, grammar, and so on.
– Amend the cover and inside information to have a subtle ‘Revised Edition’ with the appropriate date.
– Ask for beta readers in advance of completion.
– When all bugs are ironed out, republish and set up a Kindle Countdown Deal to kick-start interest in the title, and my brand.
– Move on to the next title.
How long will it take?
Time is not my major concern, because if I’m aiming to achieve a higher standard, it takes as long as it takes.
I’d like to think if I don’t touch the poetry series, I might be capable of dealing with the novels and short stories by next summer. It will be interesting. I’ve no doubt there will be many things which are fine, but there will be issues and it will be a test of my mettle to deal with them properly.
I will of course report back on a regular basis. Once underway, I will not give up.
Thank you once again for joining me on my journey. All comments are welcome.