Word for the Day: Saurophagy (And Autophagy!)

Photo courtesy of Kaimuki Backyard on You Tube.

I learned a new term today. It’s not a word to be used in daily conversation but interesting, nonetheless. The new term is saurophagy. Its means “the eating of lizards.”

I was a little sad to learn this word in a report about one iguana species, C. similis, eating its cousin, C. bakeri. Normally herbivores, iguanas can be opportunistic consumers. C. similis seem to take the opportunity to eat the hatchling C. bakeri heading to the mangroves.

Like most people with access to the Internet, the first thing I did was search saurophagy. It’s apparently a well-kept secret. Google offered me autophagy which is very different. Autophagy is the destruction of cells during normal physiological cycles.

It took a while to find anything on saurophagy. Most of what I found was lizards-eating-lizards research, which makes sense in places with high numbers of lizards. But of course, lizards have many predators. Those predators are usually just called carnivores, nothing fancy like saurophagy.

Saurophagy is a fun word to know. You just might need it someday for a trivia contest or Scrabble game. And don’t forget, there’s autophagy, too.

To learn more about iguanas, check out this wonderful downloadable resource at Lyric Power Publishing, LLC. Nothing about saurophagy in it, but lots of other information about iguanas and wonderful activity sheets. Full description below.

Graphic image book cover about iguanas
Thirty pages of Iguana information and fun activity sheets for grades 2-4. Includes coloring pages, fact sheets, T/F about reptiles, parts of an iguana coloring page, compare animal traits, name matching, count and classify, reptile spelling page, life cycle of the iguana cut-and-paste activity, ecology word problems, iguana word problems, creative writing prompt, opinion writing exercise, mean, mode, median, and range worksheets, counting iguanas, histogram worksheet, grams-to-pounds worksheet, trace the words and color, short i sound, create an iguana puzzle.

Ever Heard of a ‘Book Iguana?’

Several animals have been associated with books, such as the book worm. In addition, many libraries have instituted “read to the dog” programs and they encourage children to read to their pets. I have neither worms nor dogs. Calliope is my book iguana.  Her name means the “muse of long poetry.” My picture books are long poems. Yes, she is definitely a muse for me. Her first enclosure was located beside my writing table. Now, she roams freely around the house, but she still supervises my writing.

An important part of writing is reading, which improves your craft. Calliope decided I had been working on the writing part too much and needed to do some reading.  She selected a book for us to relish. She selected Directing a Play by my neighbor and friend, Stuart Vaughan. Stuart and I shared a love of the theater.  And this is where I plug my theater scripts. When you buy a copy of the scripts, you get performance rights, as well. It’s a fabulous deal.

If you’re familiar with the theater scene in New York City, you might be familiar with Stuart. He directed Joseph Papp’s “Shakespeare in the Park” shows, in the famous Central Park, in case you didn’t know. We shared a driveway in New Jersey. You couldn’t ask for better neighbors.

When I moved to Arizona, my life situation didn’t allow time for theater, so I spent my time writing fun science-based children’s books. Even though the genre of my writing has changed, I still love creating stories. I enjoy writing these blogs, as well. I hope to bring both enjoyment and factual science to the readers’ lives.

Maybe someday I’ll be able to “act out” again, but I hope you’ll grab some fun for yourself and act out my scripts.

Performance rights are included with a purchase of my theater scripts.

Just Start!

Have you ever had to do something that you didn’t want to do or you just couldn’t get started? 

Author Elaine Powers at easel
I finally decided to start the painting with a little seed sprout.

It happens to all of us. It’s easy to find excuses not to start. Like when writing blog posts, I stare at the blank page and wonder what I should write. All that white space, staring back at me.

Today, I remembered when I was on Eleuthera, where the island’s artists had all come together to sell their work. As part of the event, a blank canvas was set up with paints. The idea was, artists and visitors would each add something to the painting. 

The canvas was set up right behind my table. I saw the hesitancy to begin and I encouraged every artist that went by to start the painting, but none of them would. So I did. I was there celebrating the publication of my new book, Grow Home, Little Seeds, which is about plants finding their homes and sprouting, so I painted a plant sprouting as it pushed up out of the earth.

Amazingly, that’s all it took. The artists each added something and, as you can see, created an amazing piece of art.

You can still see my original sprout, too! So you see, just a little effort can get things going and you just might end up with a masterpiece.

The book I was selling is set in the Leon Levy Preserve on Eleuthera. It’s a tale of seed-friends, each finding their own perfect place to sprout.

book cover about seeds finding a place to sprout
The graduating bundle of mixed seeds of the Leon Levy Preserve vows to stay together and form their own forest. Will they be able to remain together, or will their natures lead them in different directions? Will they find what the need to survive, to germinate, and to put down roots? Join these Bahamian natives on their adventures to find their places to call home.

Ground Squirrels: These Cute Little Burrowers Soon to Have Their Own Book!

When I lived in the Midwest and Northeast, I knew it was Spring when the crocus and daffodils raised their heads from the ground.  Here in the Sonoran Desert, I know it is Spring when the round-tailed ground squirrels, Xerospermophilus tereticaudus, which dwell in the desert of the US Southwest and northwestern Mexico, raise their heads from the ground.

The common name for these small mammals is derived from their long round tail and long fluffy hind feet. I think they look like small prairie dogs due to their uniform sandy color.

Instead of running up and down large, lush trees found in the more temperate areas of the country, these squirrels burrow into ground beneath mesquite trees and creosote bushes, plants tough enough to survive the harsh desert clime. They are active during hot summer days and stay underground during the winter, but they don’t hibernate.

Some people find the squirrels a bother because they are always digging holes in their yards, driveways and even streets. I think they make a new tunnel each day. I like to think of their efforts as aerating the soil and loosening the rock-hard ground. Going underground, they are able to evade their many predators: coyotes, badgers, hawks and snakes.

These cute little mammals do love their burrows!

Even though they live in colonies, ground squirrels like their space. Males like to be in charge during mating season, but the mothers dominate when they have young!

Why am I writing about these delightful squirrels? I am starting to work on a picture book about the local ground squirrels. This book was requested by an educator at a local park. There are no books about area ground squirrels. Another fun, science book waiting to be written in rhyme! Gosh, I love my work!

I’ve got to get back now to my burrowing into the world of ground squirrels.

Thanks for visiting!

I’ve written many books about reptiles, and am excited about adding mammals to my book collection. Here is a workbook on mammals from my publisher, Lyric Power Publishing, LLC, focused on making science fun. Their activity sheets and workbooks really help to pass the time in a fun way.

It Does Take a Village to Make a Book

I do write my science books, of course, but I don’t create the books by myself.  As the saying goes, it really does take a village. Where did I find Nora Miller, editor extraordinaire and designer of my books? At an editor speed-dating event! I had written, “Curtis Curly-tail and the Ship of Sneakers,” and my friend, Art Winstanley, had brought Curtis to life in the illustrations. But I had a problem: How would I get the text onto the pages with illustrations? That was beyond my technical capabilities.

Illustration of Curtis on boat looking at a sneaker
Illustration by Arthur Winstanley. Words on the page by Nora Miller!

As I was contemplating this situation, I read an article in the newspaper. The local editorial association was hosting an event to allow a limited number of authors to meet with editors who provided a variety of services.  Each author could meet with an editor for five minutes, then move onto the next editor—just like speed dating. If a connection was made, the parties exchanged information for a follow-up meeting.

I thought my need was straightforward and that I would have to choose between several editors. However, when I asked the editors if they could put text onto an illustration, the repeated response was, “No.” I needed a graphic designer, too. I was getting discouraged. Then I got to Nora’s table and her answer was, “Of course.”

This was the beginning of a wonderful relationship.  Not only does Nora compile my books, she tweaks the pictures, formats the files for the publishing types and she edits in at least three languages! She is truly versatile and indispensable in an industry requiring knowledgeable and thorough partners.

Thanks, Nora!

Scripts or Books?

I’m often asked how long I’ve been writing books. I have been writing mostly children’s science books–which I like to make fun to read with fantastic illustrations or by writing in rhyme. I’ve been creating mystery stories, as well, for a total of about five years.

A collage of book covers indicating the categories of books at elaineapowers.com

Before that, I wrote scripts. I was involved in several community theaters that often needed original scripts. I wrote a variety of them, many of which were performed locally. Performance rights are included when you purchase the scripts.

Then my employer transferred me to Tucson, Arizona, and my mother came to live with me. I no longer had time for theater, but the need to write had awakened in me. I met little Curtis Curly-tail lizard on a beach in the Bahamas and my book writing adventure began.

I am very happy in my unexpected, post-retirement second career.

Thanks for stopping by my website. This is the cover of one of my audio/theater book of scripts. You can see them all on the Theater Scripts page.

a gray book cover with an illustration of an iguana and a water monitor standing at a microphone