Saturday, 30 August 2014

Butterflies Part 2

So... I have since seen four new (to me) butterflies since my last blog post and actually managed to get photos of them all!

brown argus
First  up, the brown argus. Spotted this one at Ham Hill in Somerset, it just came and landed on the ground right in front of me. I knew straight away it was a brown argus, even though they can be quite similar to female common blues. Managed to get some good shots before my dog Beau charged over and it flew away.

small copper
A small copper - just what I wanted to see! I hadn't expected to see this - I just came across it feeding on this plant and it stayed for a very long time, allowing me to take lots of photos. I hadn't realised how small they are. Super pretty.
small heath

This is a small heath on the right - just took this photo today actually, and as the weather's quite poor, I didn't even have my camera on me as I wasn't expecting to see butterflies. Luckily, I had my mobile phone. So the picture quality isn't great, but at least I do have a picture.

This is a holly blue. Bit of a scraggy one! Small blue butterflies with black around the edges of their wings. Photo taken at Thurlbear wood, Somerset.

On the right is a comma! Seen them before, so not new to me, but first time I've managed to get a photo.You can see the little white 'comma' mark on the underwing which gives them the name.

Bonus moth pics!

heart and dart
Heart and dart moth on the left. Big-ish. Has heart and dart markings on the wings, hence the name. You can just see the darts in this pic.

The photo below is of a garden carpet moth that came into our kitchen.

garden carpet

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

The World is Made up of Boxes I Don't Fit In.

I've just been out on a walk with my dog and, as dog walkers know, you usually see the same few fellow dog walkers and you have to stop and have a chat and let your dogs have a play. There's one guy with several Jack Russells who I often see and the dogs have to sprint over to say hello (and they're adorable). I saw him just now and we were having a chat and got talking about work and he said to me, "I can't place you." Meaning, he couldn't work out what I did for a job. I get this a lot - people not being able to place me, as if everybody fits neatly into a box. I've had a similar comment from another old dog walker. I guess it's because I'm (reasonably) young, I rarely wear make-up, I don't mind looking like a scruff or bellowing across the field for the dog, I don't mind wearing wellies and getting wet. I don't have children, I'm clearly not pregnant and I'm always on my own. I'm reasonably intelligent, yet I have a farmer's accent (not that farmers aren't intelligent, but whenever books/film/TV wants to portray a stupid, working class person, they usually get given a west country accent).

When I say I work in an office, it surprises people. I don't know if they were expecting 'kennel worker' (done that) or 'house keeper' (done that, too) or, I don't know. Farmer. Horsey person. I have no idea what's expected of me.

And it got me thinking about other things. How I am and what I like in general often surprises people. I don't fit with people's perceptions. I remember having The Shanklin Freakshow playing quite loudly in my car, pulling up to park and, when I turned the engine off and got out, having a guy come up to me to ask for a light. When I said I didn't smoke and had no light, he accused me of lying and said, "You can't listen to music like that and not have a light." I'm not sure what the implication was!

I watch Hollyoaks. Apparently, that surprises people. I have tattoos - again, something that's given people pause. I loved the OC. I hate horror films but love Most Haunted, or documentaries about autopsies. I listen to opera and classical music. And I bloody love Robbie Williams's 'Candy' song.
I have been to watch Shakespeare plays and cheesy musicals and The Circus of Horrors.

my eye
Psychics can't read me, Derren Brown can't fool me. I've got green eyes, along with the other 1-2% of the entire human population. I'm INFJ, says Myers-Briggs. I'm a supertaster, and I'm immune to the common cold. My surname is so rare that there's apparently one Tett per million people in the UK.

I don't smoke, I don't drink. I'm agnostic, anti-social, too-honest and too-angry. I love making people laugh. And I'm a blue belt in karate.

I have been called weird. And quirky. And "Not like anybody else I've ever met," but doesn't everybody think they're different? We're all special snowflakes.

The world is made up of boxes that I don't fit in ~ I Keep Myself to Myself by The Boy Least Likely To

Monday, 11 August 2014


This year so far has been amazing for butterflies. I've even seen my first ever clouded yellow! I made the decision to try to document all the different butterflies I'd seen by taking photos of them. I'm doing okay so far, but didn't do so well with the clouded yellow (more later!) and have yet to see another comma (usually they're pretty common here) to take a photo of it.

It's turned me into a bit of a butterfly geek. I can ID them, and in some cases, sex them. If you're interested in spotting butterflies in the south west, the best places I have been so far are Wych Lodge, near Staple Fitzpane (near Taunton) and Ham Hill (near Yeovil). Wayford Woods (near Chard) is also pretty good.

So, photos!

This is a brimstone butterfly. Photo taken at Wych Lodge. I just saw a flash of yellow and had to chase it for a bit before it would land. Apparently they're more attracted to purple/blue flowers. Their wings look just like leaves.

To the right we have a five-spot burnet. Which is actually a moth, not a butterfly, but they're so pretty I'm including it anyway. This photo was taken at Ham Hill. I'm fairly confident this is a five-spot and not a six-spot...

A common blue (male). I think this is my favourite butterfly - they're so small and really pretty. The males are this lovely blue colour and although the females are brown, they're just as nice, often having blue on them as well as the orange patches at the edges of their wings. Also, the undersides of the wings on these guys are super pretty too. Pic taken at Ham Hill.

Now I'm hoping this is an Essex skipper and not a small skipper. I've had a couple butterfly geeks agree with me on the ID. Super similar to the small skipper, but these guys have a splodge of black right at the tips of their antennae. Ham Hill, I think.

This is a male silver-washed fritilary. Pic taken at Wych Lodge. Really easy to spot as they're quite big and bright orange. Females aren't quite as bright and have slightly different markings on their wings - more spotty, less stripy. Both have a silvery sheen on the underwings.

On the right - a female gatekeeper. Females are prettier than the males, I think. They're more orange - males have brown marks on their wings (I think they're scent marks?) I don't actually remember where I took this photo. Possibly Wayford Woods. I also have a pic of a male gatekeeper with extra wing spots. So that's exciting.

A green veined white. Common as anything. This photo shows off the green veins on the underwing nicely.

This is a male large skipper, on the right. Bigger than the small skipper and they have patterned wings, rather than plain. Also, their antennae are hooked. This photo was taken at Powerstock, Dorset.

Female small white. Again, super common and responsible for eating my cauliflowers. (Also known as cabbage whites). Females are better looking than the males as they have these nice black wing spots. This one was trapped in our conservatory, so I took her photo before sticking her back outside to have another munch on my caulis.

A marbled white. Another fave. Look how pretty!! More common in the south west, apparently, so we're lucky. This one was taken at Ham Hill.

A boring old meadow brown. These are really common, along with the whites and the gatekeepers and ringlets. Brown mostly, but with orange patches on their wings. Females are prettier because they have a touch more orange on them. I do like this photo though. Taken in Ham Hill.

On the right is a peacock butterfly. Big and blousy, you can't miss them! Unmistakable. Very pretty, but quite dull (and very well camouflaged) when they have their wings shut. I think males and females are pretty similar, the females aren't quite as bright. There have been an absolute ton of these around this year. Pic taken at Wych Lodge.

A red admiral on the left. Also pretty unmistakable. Nice looking butterflies, fairly common. This one decided to wander around next to me on the ground for a bit, so I took about a hundred photos of it at Wych Lodge.

A ringlet. Plain brown butterflies, but they do have nice eye spots on the wings. Very common, not very exciting but I think they have a nice shape. I don't remember where I took this photo as I have a lot of ringlet pics!

Not sure if you can see this little one! A small skipper. Tiny and super cute. These little dudes have really sweet faces too.

Small tortoiseshell on the right. Very recognisable, garden butterflies. Will probably be all over your buddleia, next to the peacocks. Pretty. I have no idea how to sex these.

A speckled wood. Again, I can't sex these, they all look the same to me. Brown and spotty. Lots around this year - I see them all the time when walking the dog. This photo was actually taken in Boscastle, in Cornwall.

On the right is a male large white (these are also called cabbage whites, same as the small whites, and they look very similar!) Not a great photo and he's a bit scraggy too!

And... just to prove I did see a clouded yellow...

I chased this bloody butterfly all over the field, even ran through a bog, but couldn't get close to it. In the end I randomly fired the camera while it was flying away and managed to at least get the butterfly in the shot! The day after, I saw one sitting in a hedge just where I walk the dog - it even let me pick it up and then just sat calmly on the leaf again - and I didn't have my camera with me. Grr.

So, that's all I've seen so far. I'd like to get a better clouded yellow photo. I'd like to get a comma pic. And I'd love to see small coppers, any of the hairstreaks, pearl-bordered fritilary and painted lady. We'll see...

Thursday, 31 July 2014

The Angler Fish, or, Sometimes Ladies are Larger

I watched the film John Carter recently, and was quite pleased with the female alien characters because they didn't have boobs. (Boobs are great, but bear with me...)

But, my mind was wandering and I was thinking about it and yeah, it did annoy me that these female aliens were still weaker than the males.

When I went to BristolCon last year, I attended a panel called Humans are Weird. The woman running the panel (a doctor) spoke about all the ways that humans are biologically different from animals and was discussing the ways we could apply this to fantasy races or sci-fi creatures, but said that often, we as writers, still base our non-human characters on humans. So the females will still have boobs, the males will still be bigger and stronger.

I wish more writers would stop thinking 'human'.

There are loads of animal species on Earth where the female is the big, strong one. So even all these 'but it's realistic for the women to be smaller and weaker!' arguments I hear are just lazy nonsense.

One of my favourite animals is the angler fish. You know the big deep-water fish with the scary teeth and the light dangling over the front of its face like bait? Yeah. That's the female. Male angler fish are teeny tiny. They're basically just a pair of testicles. A male angler fish will attach itself to a female and she'll basically absorb it and just use it to make babies.

Hyenas are interesting too, if we want a mammalian example. It's difficult to tell males and females apart because the females have psuedo-penises (which they give birth through, ouch!), and they're as aggressive and nasty as the males. Hyenas are matriarchal animals - like elephants and bonobos..

So, next time you write a non-human fantasy character, or an alien, please be aware that even on our planet, there are species where the female is the big scary one.

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Blog Hop

These questions are hopping over to my blog from the gorgeous and sexy (she told me to say that) Jo Zebedee who answered them just last week on her blog. Jo's represented by Molly Ker Hawn of the Bent Agency and her first novel is out in Autumn from Tickety Boo Press. Go check it out.

What am I working on?

I'm currently working on an urban fantasy which is possibly the most complex thing I've ever written. So it's slow going! Lots of angst and real-life problems mixed in with the supernatural.

How does my work differ from others in its genre?

Well, the MC is an immortal lesbian, for a start. It's like Hollyoaks meets Lost meets Buffy, I guess. My style of writing is easily read and I'm hoping to get some humour in there too, I don't want everything to be all dark and depressing.

Why do I write what I do?

I write lots of supernatural and paranormal stories because I love that sort of thing! As you can see from my blog, I go on ghost hunts quite a lot. I'm not necessarily a believer, but I'm open minded and would love to see something for myself. My cousin's a medium too, and a few years ago now I used to sit with a group and we'd all learn about tarot and crystal healing and various things that I wasn't very good at.

How does my writing process work?

I usually get a feel for a character come into my mind and then I just sit down and start writing. I don't plot. I might scribble down ideas for future scenes in my notebook though. I have to have silence when I'm writing - no music, and the dog has to be asleep!

Who's next on the blog hop?

Stephen Palmer is the author of eight novels: Memory Seed (Orbit 1996), Glass (Orbit 1997), Flowercrash (Wildside 2002), Muezzinland (Wildside 2003), Hallucinating (Wildside 2004) and The Rat And The Serpent (Prime Books 2005). In 2010 PS Publishing published Urbis Morpheos. In 2014 Infinity Plus Press published his surreal slipstream steampunk novel Hairy London. Ebooks of Muezzinland, Hallucinating and The Rat And The Serpent are available from Infinity Plus, who also recently acquired the ebooks of Memory Seed, Glass and Flowercrash. His short stories have been published by Wildside Press, Spectrum SF, NewCon Press, Mutation Press, Eibonvale Press, Solaris, TFQ and Unspoken Water. Further short stories will appear in 2014.

Thaddeus White is the author of fantasy novels Bane of Souls and Journey to Altmortis, as well the fantasy comedy Sir Edric's Temple.

Hunter Frost is the author of What Can Brown Do For You? which features in Torquere Press's Men in Uniform anthology. Visit her site to see what else she's up to.

Friday, 11 July 2014

Living Again by Brynn Stein

Today I'm joined on my blog by writer, Brynn Stein. She's busy doing a tour to promote her novel Living Again, and I'm lucky enough to play host today.

Blog Tour for Living Again

Hi all,
Thanks for visiting the next stop on my blog tour.
I wanted to talk about one of my lead characters, Jonah Thacker, from my newest book, Living Again. Jonah is a private nurse with a bit more medical training than most. He went through medical school to be a doctor, but before he could start his residency, his sister had a severely handicapped baby, and her husband left her to fend for herself. Jonah stepped up and tried to help raise the boy, only to have tragedy strike again when his sister died while the boy was still young. Now he’s raising Ethan by himself and needed a more flexible schedule than he could get as a resident.
His newest client is Daniel Larson, a single amputee who subsequently broke his one remaining leg. Since Daniel also has other injuries, he’s going to needed help getting around for a while.
The problem is, Daniel is gorgeous and Jonah is instantly attracted. He’s a professional, however, and he knows he cannot pursue a relationship with Daniel while he is his client.
Jonah is hired by Daniel’s Uncle Lawrence, with whom Jonah is originally impressed, until he actually met him.

Jonah was so glad Daniel had someone taking care of the financial and logistical side of things. When he had gotten the call from the agency and had gone to the hospital to meet his new client, he’d been shocked to find that Daniel had just been admitted about four hours before. Usually, clients or family called the agency closer to their exit from the hospital, not the entrance. As soon as Mr. Thompson had found out that his nephew had broken his one remaining leg, not to mention his arm and ribs, he had set right out to find help for him. He had told the agency that the provider should start right away and call him when Daniel woke up.
A couple of hours after Daniel had gotten the gauze removed from his eyes, his uncle showed up at the hospital, having been called by the nurses.
“Hello, Daniel,” the uncle had said.
“Uncle Lawrence,” Daniel had answered.
Jonah was shocked by the lack of affection in the men’s voices. From the way the uncle had taken charge of all the paperwork and hired private help, he would have guessed that the two men were close. But thinking back, it had been unusual for an uncle who was close to his nephew not to show up even once during the two days Daniel had been unconscious.
“Thanks for… all this.” Daniel gestured to include Jonah and the newly arrived power chair. “You didn’t have to do that.”
“We’re family, Daniel,” Lawrence answered. “I know we haven’t been close, but I couldn’t let you fend for yourself. The missing leg is bad enough—God alone knows how you take care of yourself each day—but now this?”
According to the look on Daniel’s face, this was probably more like Mr. Thompson’s usual attitude. The distance in their voices made a little more sense now.

I’m having fun with my blog tour so far, though I’m still kind of learning how to do all this.
I want to raffle off a signed paperback copy of the book, as well as an electronic copy to two different people. The way it will work is this: Comment below and follow the tour to the other stops. Comment there too. Your name will be entered one time for each different blog you comment on. At the end of August, I will announce the winners.
Blog Schedule:
Blog Stop
Date of blog
Name of Host (or Name of Blog)
Address of Blog
Jessica Davies
Grace Duncan
Emma Tett
Tara Lain
Charlie Cochet's Tea House
Lex Chase

Anne Barwell
JP Barnaby
Tempest O’Riley
Kit Moss
Michael Rupured
Shae Connor

Charley Descateaux
 Elizabeth Noble
Grace Duncan
Topic for blog tour stop 4: Spotlight on Ethan Thacker

Blurb of Living Again:
Daniel Larson has walled himself off from any possibility of romance since his lover died violently five years ago in Afghanistan. The same bomb that ended his partner’s life took the lower part of Daniel’s left leg. The only support Daniel has, his Uncle Lawrence, is dead-set against anything homosexual, including Daniel.

Now, a popular language teacher at the local university, Daniel's suffering from a car accident that broke his one good leg. His uncle, who is much better at throwing money at things than offering emotional support, provides a rented power chair and a private in-home nurse. Unbeknownst to his uncle, the nurse comes in the form of a man named Jonah Thacker.

Instantly attracted, Daniel and Jonah fight their mutual feelings in favor of professionalism. They become friends anyway, and Jonah shares his life with Daniel, including his handicapped son, Ethan. As Jonah and Daniel grow closer, Daniel becomes more involved in Jonah and his son’s lives, even being there for Ethan when his medical conditions worsen. But when Daniel’s uncle finds out the nurse he's hired is male, he uses all of his resources to keep Jonah and Daniel apart.

Buy Links:
(links to other sites from the Goodreads page are not yet active)

Brynn’s Bio:
Brynn Stein has always loved to write. Fan fiction, original fiction, whatever. While Brynn wrote in numerous genres—everything from mystery, to contemporary, to supernatural—she had always tended toward strong male characters. And then she discovered “slash,” male/male romance, and all those strong male characters were finally allowed to express their love for one another. It seems that there are always at least two characters clamoring to tell Brynn their story.

Brynn lives in Virginia with one of her two two-legged children, and two four-legged ones. Her supportive family encourages her writing and provides a sounding board for fledgling stories. When she isn’t writing, Brynn teaches children with special needs. In free time, when such a thing exists, she reads anything she can get her hands on, and haunts bookstores. She draws and paints, and enjoys the outdoors—especially if she can get to the beach—and is always thinking about her next story.

Please feel free to contact Brynn at any of the following: