Sometimes, the Pearl IS the Oyster

Yesterday, while visiting the fish store to pick up another porcelain crab, I noticed a strangely-shaped frag of zoanthids in the “cheapie” section of the store. I noticed because zoas rarely grow in geometrically-regular colonies, and even when they do the colony “edges” are uneven, with independent polyps sticking away from the cluster at varying intervals. The colony I noticed was circular (almost ovoid), with sharply defined rounded edges. Upon closer examination, it also had an open mouth along the edge. What I’d found was a rare example of inter-species cooperation: a live oyster overgrown with at least two different

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Monday Blog Game: Music!

Today marks the return of the Monday Blog Game – I’ll pick a topic at random, and if you want to play along, feel free to leave a comment with a link to your post (if the spam filter traps it, don’t worry, I’ll pull it back out) or comment directly on the topic. Today’s topic: MUSIC. I listen to many kinds of music, from country to rock to classical. I like a selection for different times and moods. Before I started writing mysteries, I used to listen to music while writing. Since 2011, however, I just can’t do it,

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What’s in a Name? Sometimes, Confusion.

I’m continuing my “fact from fiction” series today with a look at samurai naming conventions and why they caused me a little trouble in CLAWS OF THE CAT. Most samurai received and used several names in the course of a lifetime. The childhood name was given at birth and used until the samurai completed his genpuku, the coming-of-age ceremony during which a samurai male received his swords and his adult name. In addition, samurai children often answered to various nicknames, either personal (like the ones we use for our children now) or numeric and based on the child’s age and

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Koromogae, Rethreaded*

This week has been the hottest so far in Sacramento this summer, so I’m thinking a lot about what to wear to keep the heat at bay. In medieval Japan, people wore lightweight clothing during the spring and summer, and heavier winter kimono through the colder months. The change from summer to winter clothing (and vice versa) was controlled by the calendar, not the weather. The Japanese have a term for this: koromogae, which means changing clothing at the turn of the seasons. During the Edo Period (1600-1868), koromogae took place on April 1 and October 1. Although the winter

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July 2013: Reef Retrospective

As always, the first week of the month gives me the pleasure of sharing the “best of the reef in photos.” Here’s what I saw in July. Seahorses will hitch to anything that offers a good enough grip, as this Mexican turbo snail discovered the hard way: Sun corals rarely extend their tentacles fully, due to the danger of getting nipped by a passing predator.  Once in a while, though, I have the pleasure of seeing these lovely corals at their photogenic best: Snail races. Brought to you by “dinnertime on the reef”: And another one from the snail files

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Tasty Summer Reads: Claws of the Cat

Thanks to fellow historical fiction author Kim Rendfeld (author of THE CROSS AND THE DRAGON) for tagging me in the Tasty Summer Reads Blog Hop! Here’s how it works: Each participating author invites other authors to answer five questions about their current summer release or work in progress and also post a tasty recipe that ties into the book. I’ve linked to all of the other participating authors, and my unwitting victims friends at the end of this post. Before we get to the questions, here’s a little more about my current release, CLAWS OF THE CAT: A Shinobi Mystery

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Fact from Fiction: Shinobi vs Ninja

At signings, I’m often asked why I refer to my ninja detective, Hattori Hiro (or Hiro Hattori to those who put surnames last), as a “shinobi” instead of a “ninja.” The answer is simple: the two are one and the same. Many Japanese words are written using Kanji, or characters, originally borrowed from Chinese. In Japanese, the word many English speakers pronounce as “ninja” looks like this: The Chinese pronunciation of those characters is “nin sha” – from which the English language derives the word “ninja.” That pronunciation is used in Japan, but more often, the Japanese pronounce those characters

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Congratulations, @DakotaRaeblog

The winner of the Shinobi Prize Pack – a signed hardback of CLAWS OF THE CAT and a fun ninja coffee mug – is @DakotaRaeBlog! Thank you to everyone who entered – your photos were fantastic (so good that it made me glad the contest involved a random drawing instead of a choice!). Here’s the winning tweet: #SHINOBIMYSTERIES pic.twitter.com/O610ULRyEk — Dakota Rae (@dakotaraeblog) July 17, 2013 Just look at that cute little ninja! Dakota Rae, if you’ll send me an email (or twitter DM) with the address where you’d like your prize pack sent, I’ll get it in the mail

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Endings, Paying it Forward, and the Other Side of Yes

Today, I’m sending you outward for content – not because I’m lazy but because I know I cannot do as well for you as I’ve already done in other spots today. Hazel Gaynor’s Whims & Tonic features authors talking about the difference between pre-publication and publication–“Now & Then.” I’m talking with her today about how it feels to be on “the other side of yes” and why I truly believe that every writer can get there. At The Debutante Ball, I’ve discovered why it is that I don’t like endings. The answer came as a surprise to me, and I

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