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Utilize Your Wonder and Respect for The Natural World Within Your Narrative…

April 14, 2014
mandyevebarnett


 articles

My upcoming children’s chapter book, Ockleberries to the Rescue, centers around two woodland sprites, who help all  the forest animals through illness and injury. The theme was inspired by my lifelong love of the natural world, whether it is exotic animals, such as tigers and red panda’s (my personal favorites) or the more common species, such as rabbits, squirrels or birds. The knowledge and wonder shared with me and my siblings by our parents, lives on in us and we have passed on the message to our children. Every single species has a purpose and is intricately linked to another. The ‘food chain’ is the basis for this but there are so many other relationships in the natural world that we are still discovering.

bee-flower

We have all enjoyed the fluttering of a butterfly but have you ever watched a spider make its web? Such industrious behavior is fascinating to behold, similar to ants rebuilding a damaged nest or a bee collecting pollen. These activities are born of instinct and self preservation. Even with all our technology we cannot manufacture a structure as fine and strong as a cobweb or create a completely natural substance from so few components as honey.

Beetle

The smallest bug or insect is a wondrous thing to watch. Did you know woodlice carry their young under their bellies? My daughter at the age of 4 taught me this one! You may not see or consider a beetle scurrying across your path. But look closer – see its colours, its antenna and its shape. There are many different kinds of animals and insects we ‘miss’ in our everyday lives because we are not looking. Sit on the lawn or near a forest trail and watch the tiny world that is so often under your feet and ignored. You will witness a whole new world of activity and renew your connection to nature.

Our interests can be a vital component of our narratives and will give depth to the story because of our knowledge and love of that particular subject. Delve into your depths and find those links to broaden and heighten your subject. It will show in your writing and engage your reader.

What interests have you incorporated into a novel (or novels?)

OckleberriesProof copy cover only. Illustrations and new cover in process.

 

Partnerships – A Lesson from the Natural World..?

December 3, 2013
mandyevebarnett


Benevolent – definition: marked by or disposed to doing good

There are many people, past and present, who have changed the course of conflict but today I am concentrating on the natural world and partnerships between different species. The correct name is  commensalism, which means one organism benefits and the other organism isn’t harmed by the partnership. It is a matter of conjecture how these partnerships began but once you realize the benefits for both partners it is obvious.

antelope

Impalas enjoy the ministrations of ox-pecker birds, whose name describes their role exactly. They peck off unwanted and irritating flies and ticks. In doing so the birds have plenty to eat without having to fly great distances and the impalas are freed of the parasites, which can carry diseases.

Ox-pecker birds and other similar breeds perform this duty on many animals around the world.

clown fish

Another mutually beneficial relationship is between clown fish; made famous by Finding Nemo of course; and anemones. The fish dances within the anemones tentacles until they are acclimated to their host. The clown fish’s skin has a layer of mucus, which makes it immune to the fish-eating anemone’s lethal sting. In exchange for safety from predators and food scraps, the clown fish drives off intruders and preens its host, removing parasites.

Snail

Hermit crabs and sea anemones share an unusual relationship, which can last for life. Young hermit crabs often pick up young sea anemones to attach to their shell . They even grow at roughly the same rate. When the hermit crabs outgrows its shell, they will take the sea anemone with them to the new one. Some sea anemones are known to cover most of the surface of the hermit crab’s shell so when the crab eventually outgrows the shell, they can remain and not move. The benefit for the anemone is particles of the crab’s food floating up to it and the crab’s benefit is having a stinging tentacled protector.

I would like to think that authors, whether published or not, will see the benefits of such a relationship and help their fellow writers. There are benefits to sharing knowledge, encouragement and support.

Have you given or received some sort of mutually beneficial relationship? 

Irrefutable Facts…

September 21, 2013
mandyevebarnett


Irrefutable – definition: that cannot be denied, refuted, or disproved

science

Some interesting irrefutable scientific facts:

1.  It takes 8 minutes 17 seconds for light to travel from the Sun’s surface to the Earth.

2.  The Earth spins at 1,000 mph but it travels through space at an incredible 67,000 mph.

3. Every year over one million earthquakes shake the Earth.

4. When Krakatoa erupted in 1883, its force was so great it could be heard 4,800 kilometres away in Australia.

5. The largest ever hailstone weighed over 1kg and fell in Bangladesh in 1986.

6. Every second around 100 lightning bolts strike the Earth.

7. If you could drive your car straight up you would arrive in space in just over an hour.

8. The Earth is 4.56 billion years old…the same age as the Moon and the Sun.

9. When a flea jumps, the rate of acceleration is 20 times that of the space shuttle during launch.

10. Micro-organisms have been brought back to life after being frozen in perma-frost for three million years.

11. The molecular structure of DNA was first determined by Watson and Crick in 1953.

12.  The thermometer was invented in 1607 by Galileo.

13.The tallest tree ever was an Australian eucalyptus – In 1872 it was measured at 435 feet tall.

14.  The wingspan of a Boeing 747 is longer than the Wright brother’s first flight.

15.  An electric eel can produce a shock of up to 650 volts.

15.  The earliest wine makers lived in Egypt around 2300 BC.

16.  An individual blood cell takes about 60 seconds to make a complete circuit of the body.

17.  The fastest speed a falling raindrop can hit you is 18 mph.

18.  Koalas sleep an average of 22 hours a day, two hours more than the sloth.

19.  One in every 2000 babies is born with a tooth.

20. Every hour the Universe expands by a billion miles in all directions.

21. The driest inhabited place in the world is Aswan, Egypt where the annual average rainfall is .02 inches.

22. The largest meteorite craters in the world are in Sudbury, Ontario, canada and in Vredefort, South Africa.

23.  A dog’s sense of smell is 1,000 times more sensitive than a humans.

24.  The mortality rate if bitten by a Black Mamba snake is over 95%.

What is your favorite scientific fact? Have you used any in your writing?

Will the Earth Become Defunct..? I Hope Not…

April 25, 2013
mandyevebarnett


David Attenborough 1

David Attenborough 1 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Defunct – definition: having finished the course of life or existence : dead, extinct

I was brought up to enjoy the natural world around me. My parents would take us on long walks pointing out and naming the trees, grasses, plants and the animals and birds we encountered. I have passed down to my children this love of nature. My daughter in particular is an animal whisperer – no matter what the living organism is, it becomes calm and peaceful with her touch. Many a time she has picked up a squirming bug, which has almost instantaneously become still. I have no idea why it happens but for all of her 17 years she has been this way. As a baby crawling on the lawn she would pick up beetles and spiders. I would cringe thinking it would be crushed but she never killed any of these little creatures. She most surely has the touch!

There have been, and are, numerous naturalists and presenters with shows on TV. Each have their own particular style and interest but for me the most endearing and informative is David Attenborough.  I have grown up listening to him describe a multitude of animals and plants. His dulcet tones whispering over the images we view with complete wonder, are something that will stay with me forever. He is a hero of mine.

David Attenborough 60 years  http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2223147/David-Attenborough-celebrates-Diamond-Jubilee-new-BBC-series-60-Years-In-The-Wild.html

It was with sadness that I realized after watching Sir David’s celebration broadcast, that in his 60 years, a great many flora and fauna have become extinct. That is unforgivable when in millennia without human destruction, the numbers were nominal.

This link gives us an idea of the losses: http://www.endangeredspeciesinternational.org/overview1.html

Destroying our environment and that of our fellow animals will have only one result – no where to go! We don’t have another Earth to inhabit.

Image converted using ifftoany

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