Just another helpful letter to the Internet

Dear Internet,

No, no, no. I just wanted to look at pictures of baby ravens. I didn’t want to buy one.

Not everything of value needs to be available for my personal purchase and ownership. You and your peeps might consider that sometime.


P.S. Also, am beginning to suspect there’s no search term on this earth that won’t make you toss up a link to a Naruto fanfic. But hey, we all have our quirks.

Things writers of shapeshifters think about #278

If an animal can eat carrion, will it, given a choice and access to affordable grocery stores? Is carrion-eating necessity or preference?

Possibly this varies by species.

Like, maybe a raven would prefer a rare hamburger and a strawberry smoothie. But maybe some species of vulture would actually choose that roadkill-of-indeterminate-age even when given other options.

Maybe not. I know far less about vultures than ravens.

Clearly I need to do something about that.

And then there are the canines and felines. I suspect they each have very different preferences, too.

Meanwhile, it’s been pointed out that I haven’t been posting enough wildlife videos lately, so here. Have a peregrine chasing a bicyclist:

“I am weary of being lost–that is not your concern. We have made a bargain, and I will keep it.”

Don’t miss Kathi Appelt’s lovely Writing for the Long Haul post on the power of story.

At Cynsations I talk about research for fantasy writers:

Besides, I’d read enough descriptions of coppery-tasting blood through the years. That many writers couldn’t all be wrong … There was only one way to resolve the question. I dug through my pocket, found a particularly clean penny, and tasted it.

At Tor.com I look at the question of “what’s a faerie?”

“Flitting nature spirits or inhuman bearers of dangerous magic. These two threads run through much of contemporary faerie fiction. The smaller, flightier faeries might seem the more benign, but even Tinkerbell, one of the most famous representatives of the type, tried to kill Wendy before putting her life on the line to save Peter Pan …”

Tor.com is also giving away copies of Faerie After this week.

Eve’s Fan Garden reviews Faerie After:

“Janni’s writing always leaves me sighing and wanting more, yet at the same time feeling complete and satisfied. It’s just the perfect mixture of dark and melancholy and loveliness and hope.”

At Eve’s Fan Garden you can also read a Faerie After excerpt and join me for a game of This or That.

Grumpy raven is grumpy

The raven landed on top of the streetlight in the morning light, making low noises deep in its throat, somewhere between a krawk and a purr, sleepy noises, irritated noises.

It was cold outside, just above freezing, and the raven seemed to take the cold personally. I moved closer, within the range where most ravens fly away. The raven didn’t move. It’s neck feathers were fluffed out in ruffled complaint, its talons firmly on its perch. It continued its clucking, clicking protest. What was a human, or that truck that had just rattled by, compared to this irritating weather?

I thought it a lovely morning, chill air scented faintly with frost, a layer of fog over the snowy mountains. Maybe the next raven over thought it was lovely, too. But ravens are individuals, and this raven–even when it eventually flew off, in response to no cue I could see–clearly did not approve.

So now we know!

An email sent to the San Diego Zoo last week:

Hi! I was visiting your mountain lion page at http://www.sandiegozoo.org/animalbytes/t-puma.html, and saw that its genus and species were listed as Felis concolor. My understanding was that the mountain lion had been reclassified as Puma concolor a couple decades back. Is there still debate about the correct species name, or is this merely old information that has not yet been updated?

Thanks so much for your reply!



And, in my inbox today (after an earlier email saying the question had been forwarded to the relevant staff), a reply:


Thank you for your e-mail.

Yes, we can confirm that the scientific name for mountain lions was changed to Puma concolor. The appropriate departments have been notified.

We appreciate your feedback given.

Customer Service Team
San Diego Zoo
San Diego Zoo Safari Park

So now we know!

The world is filled with secret cats

So this morning’s Panthera onca research is focused on the question of whether jaguars purr, to which the answer seems to be: yes, though in a quieter growlier way than the typical domestic housecat, and only when breathing out, not in.

Cheetahs, on the other hand, can’t roar but purr quite well, judging from this clip.

But the old notion that cats can either roar or purr but not both is no longer being considered true.

Meanwhile: The world also contains dozens of species of small wild felines who live in isolated and not-so-isolated populations around the world and aren’t nearly as splashy as jaguars and mountain lions. Today’s discovery (for me at least) is the Andean Mountain Cat, which lives at high altitude, rarely seen and little studied.

Wikipedia claims there are no Andean cats in captivity, a notion that makes me happy (for all that I’ve been studying cats in captivity these past weeks), but I’ve yet to find a source for that, so it may be as inaccurate as it is compelling. At any rate, there may in the future be captive breeding programs as part of conservation measures.

And lnhammer brings to my attention the Iriomote cat, a subspecies of leopard cat that lives on a single Japanese island.

Because the world is filled with secret cats.