Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Contest! Forthcoming! Involving pics of angry cats!

So it's been AGES since I've had a contest. And I want to have another one. And what better contest than one inspired by hilarious conversations with good friends?

Here's a quick breakdown. I like looking at pictures of angry cats. They make me laugh. And I want to see all your angry cat pics.

But not Grumpy Cat. Because Grumpy Cat is already a thing.

Now, because I am an animal care professional I do have to have an affidavit-- please don't hurt, scare, or otherwise be cruel to your cat to capture the picture of them angry. If there is evidence of such in any of the pics I receive I will disqualify them automatically.

This contest is more for fun than the prize, though there will be one (two).

Anyway. There will be two winners-- one for sending an angry cat pic, and one for participation regarding the angry cat pics, that will be announced later.

So this is a call for angry cat pics! They must be YOUR angry cat pics! Of your cat, or someone else's cat whom you have permission to use! Tweet them to me @LTHost or email them to my wickedmoon921 email at gmail with your cat's name, your name, and a point of contact (twitter name, blog address) so I can source the pics properly. I'll have your contact info when you send it to me so no worries there.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Mothra vs. ... Butterfly-ra?

Just a quick one tonight, lovelies. If you've ever seen a winged insect and wondered if it was a moth or a butterfly, then boy, is this the post for you!

There are many different varieties of butterflies and moths, so it can be a bit hard to tell. But here are a few easy ways:

Butterflies are active during the day, moths are active at night. This seems like a "Duh," but it's true.

Butterflies most often rest with their wings up, moths with their wings open. Butterflies will open their wings when sunning-- being cold-blooded, they can take in extra heat from the increased surface area of their open wings. But they still often have them canted slightly upward. A moth's open wings will lie flat.

Moths are fuzzy. Moths have fuzzy antennae and bodies. Butterflies are smooth in both places.

Butterflies tend to be more brightly colored, moths tend to be more muted. This makes sense when taken with their most active time of day. Darker, duller colors make it easier to blend in at night, and brighter colors aren't really visible in the dark, so why bother? Butterflies have a few reasons for being brightly colored-- self-species identification, poison advertisement, poison mimicry. Of course, there are both brightly colored moths and dull colored butterflies. But for the most part, this rule holds.

There you go! This isn't everything, but it's a good start.

Go. Identify. Be happy.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Responsible Animal Ownership

Yesterday, I happened to see one of my Twitter friends ask a general question about what kind of small animal she should get as a pet. The choices were two domesticated animals, and one wild animal. All small mammals, all common pets, but very different from each other.

Basically, when it comes to wild (exotic) animals, there's a point where I draw a line. To be fair, animals like sugar gliders and chinchillas (even though chinchillas are sold in the pet trade, they are still wild animals!) can make perfectly fine pets, if you do your research and understand what you're getting into. Hedgehogs are common pets in many areas, and, from what I hear, in Japan pretty much anything goes.

Small mammals, for a responsible, well-informed owner? Sure. The problem is anything outside of that.

My line? I draw it at carnivores/ predators, especially cats, birds of prey, wolves and wolf hybrids (most of which are just huskies, by the way), etc. Have people had these animals successfully as pets in the past? Sure. Should you? No.

I'm sorry to say it so bluntly. But I work with these animals for a living and I wouldn't want one as a pet.

Back to small animals.

If you do your research and understand what you're getting into, go for it. You have my blessing. BUT if you fall into any of these categories, please, do the animals and yourself a favor, and don't do it:

Not financially stable enough to provide proper veterinary care, housing, food, or enrichment. A lot of people don't realize that exotic animals = expensive animals. They often require special diets and housing, and vet bills, due to their exoticness, can be far more expensive. Really take a step back and assess your finances before you make the decision to purchase even a small exotic pet.

Not doing enough research to understand the species and their unique care. There's a reason certain domestic animals are popular pets. Cats, for example, are fairly self-sufficient. But a lot of exotics aren't exactly throw-in-some-kibble-and-go animals. Sugar gliders, for example, require fresh-- not frozen-- fruit every day, which must be cut into glider mouth-sized pieces. On top of that, gliders often succumb to a calcium/ nutrient deficiency if given a poor diet that can actually cripple them. If you don't do your research and know this before you purchase one, you could wind up with a very sick pet. Certain animals can't eat certain things: even things like iceberg lettuce and celery can be deadly to bunnies, but people often think that an animal that eats greens can eat anything . . . green.

Not in it for the long haul. Is this an animal that you can see being part of your life for the next (if you did your research you'll know how long the average lifespan is) years? Are you planning to have kids, or move to a state/ country where this animal is illegal? Can you find proper care for this animal when you go on vacation? A lot of times, this is where pets end up left behind. Purchasing an animal is an investment and commitment not to be taken lightly. Think about the other end of things. When you're done with this animal, what will happen to it? What if you can't find another home for it, and it has to go to an already over-crowded shelter?

Parrots can live as long as humans can. If you buy a bird when you're thirty, who will take care of it after you're gone? (I mean, we can hope you and the bird both make it your 100th birthday... but yeah).

These are all things to think about before you get into a commitment that's not as easy to get out of.

So there. Sorry for any rantiness but this is a subject close to my heart, which breaks a little every time I see an animal listed on Craigslist because they are too loud/ too noisy/ too smelly/ too aggressive/ too expensive/ too hard to care for.

As always, I'm an advocate for you, too. If you have any questions or want any resources on responsible animal ownership, you have but to ask.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Saying Things I Shouldn't: What I Want In An Agent (And You Should Too)

If you've been around the writing community for more than a few days, chances are you've run into something, somewhere, explaining the Rules of publishing. At every level of writing--aspiring author, agented author, on- submission author, contracted author, published author, and even all the way up to INTERNATIONAL BESTSELLING author--there are things you are simply not supposed to say or do. In public, at least. And these days, in public for most of us is online.

But there are some things that simply need to be said, regardless of these rules. Mostly because, as it turns out, we're all thinking them anyway.

So here's something that's a bit unorthodox. Agents are always posting about what they want from writers on their websites, blogs, twitter, etc. This is totally fair and acceptable and I have no issue with this whatsoever-- I like it, because it helps me get to know the agents better and figure out if they're someone I'd be interested in working with. But lately, after writing query after query, I've been doing a lot of thinking about what I want from an agent. Because, let's be honest: an agent-author relationship is a two-way street.

Let me say that again, in its own paragraph, to make sure everyone gets this:

An agent-author relationship is a two-way street.

Here's the thing. Agents are a bit like celebrities, especially if they have an online presence. The chances of getting one to represent you are slim to none. Being picked out of the slushpile and whisked away to Maybe Being Published Is Next Land is all very romantic.

But not every agent is right for you.

There's a lot of advice out there amongst the other Rules that says to query widely. I basically disagree. I think you should query smartly. Find the agents who are best for you and your work. The agents who represent not only what you've written, but what you want to write. The agents who work at agencies that do the things you want your work to accomplish. If you think it'd be nice to have your book turned into a movie, it would be a good idea to look at agents who work at agencies with a proven track record of film deals. If you want your book to sell internationally, the agents you query should have connections or be versed in foreign rights.

If you'd like an agent to keep you in the loop while on submission, you should look for agents who do that. Likewise, if you don't want to hear from them until or unless there's a deal on the table, you should try to research agents who do that.

And so on and so forth. Basically what I'm trying to say is that I think querying widely might not always be the best idea. Just because someone is an agent doesn't mean they should be YOUR agent.

In other words, the same Rules apply on the other side of the table. Do your research, but know what you want. Don't just query an agent expecting them to pick you because you Need To Have An Agent.

The right agent is more important than just any agent. I've seen several writer friends hurt and burned by wrong agents. These agents were completely awesome and perfect-- for other people. They made other clients happy. But they were wrong for my friends.

So, for me, the things I want in an agent are the things that I look for when I do my querying research. Do I need everything on this list? No. Of course not. I might be as surprised by an agent that doesn't do these things as an agent can be surprised by that one query in that genre they don't represent. I'm not closed to possibility. But I do exercise restraint.

As writers, we need to have some degree of restraint when querying. Sure, querying 400 agents ups your chances of getting represented. But are all 400 of them really the best advocate for your work?



I think you know the answer.