Thursday, March 31, 2016

"Blacky's Birthday" has been published on Smashwords!

Good news! A new "Adventures in Cottontail Pines" book is out. It is called "Blacky's Birthday" and it is available on Smashwords FREE OF CHARGE!

Here a link:

Also, here is a brief summary of the story as well as the new cover drawn by me and Coy Fields II:

Welcome to the magical town of Cottontail Pines, where animals talk, and there is always a friend around the corner. In this new story called “Blacky’s Birthday,” Blacky the skunk wakes up on his special day expecting to be lavished with attention… and cake. Unfortunately, nobody seems to want to talk to him at all, and worst of all… no cake! Have all of Blacky’s friends decided not to like him anymore? And most importantly, will he never, ever get to eat any cake?! Find out what happens in this cute new story by T.K. Wade.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Marsupial Spotlight: Quoll

About a year ago, I had a friend that I met on a rather silly website who liked to talk about quolls. "What is a Quoll?" I asked him, for I had never heard of one prior. He explained to me that it was a very large and cute rodent. My friend just about identified with these quolls, and I enjoyed his enthusiasm as well as the pictures he showed me. After talking about this quoll for at least an hour, I informed him that I was currently writing blogs about rodents called the "Rodent Spotlight" and also that I wanted to write one about this lovable creature. He expressed to me that he would enjoy a good blog about his favorite animal, and so I set off to do my research. Imagine my surprise and dismay when I find out that this animal was not a rodent at all! I couldn't possibly write my rodent spotlight about a marsupial, and so the blog was scrapped and my friend was told the horrid truth that his favorite animal was not what he thought it was.

And so my blog begins with this sad story.

The quoll is a rodent-like marsupial native to mainland Australia, New Guinea, and Tasmania. The adults have a body length of up to 29.5 inches with tails that can be as long as 13.8 inches. These tails are also quite hairy. Like many marsupials (and entirely unlike rodents), the quoll has a pouch for keeping its young; however, they are not macropods.

Quolls come in a wide array of colors and patterns. The most common usually have a sort of polka-dot appearance. These make the creature look very cute, and they are likely one of the reasons my friend took so sharply to them. Remember that human beings can be very shallow. We tend to appreciate pretty things when we see them rather then trying to learn more about them. In this matter, I am sure my friend's faux pas is entirely forgivable.

The quoll is mostly carnivorous. He loves meat of all kinda. Insects are the easiest to kill, but he will also go after various amphibians, lizards, and an occasional bird. One of the major problems for the Quoll comes in the form of an amphibian called the cane toad. Where it is true the quoll loves to eat these cane toads, it always--without exception--leads to their death by way of poisoning. The cane toad shares his habitat with the hungry quoll, and unfortunately, they regularly end up killing each other. As an act of conservation, the University of Sydney has been attempting to teach the quolls about the dangers of these cane toads. We should wish them the best of luck.

Quolls are mainly solitary creatures. They do not mind the company of other quolls; however, there is nothing social about it. They simply go about their business while ignoring one another. The only real social interactions occur during mating season. A female will bear up to 18 offspring in one litter; however, only 6 will survive the first two weeks. When a female quoll prepares to have children, her pouch will form and become usable. This is not something I read about a lot with marsupials. Usually the pouch is already there. In the case of the quoll, there are closed folds of skin that split apart to make room for the offspring when they are ready.

I could not find any major works of fiction involving the quoll. I get really peaceful vibes from them. Although loners, they live with with the land and are polite to those they meet. Non-social does not necessarily mean socially awkward. Some people are simply the type who wish to be left alone but mean no ill-will to others around them. This is how I saw the quoll.

Returning to my friend who thought he fell in love with a rodent: he is doing quite well now that he has come to accept that his one joy in life is in fact a marsupial. He still goes about singing the creature's praises. It pleases me to no end when someone proudly finds something he loves and will tell the world of its virtues. I too am a quoll fan, and that is why I am writing this blog. When you love something, you should be quite vocal about it. Let people see your joy, and perhaps, they will find joy in it themselves.

Thank you for reading my blog. If you enjoyed it, you can comment below, or you can email me at Peace.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Marsupial Spotlight: Tasmanian Devil

When I first saw a picture of the Tasmanian devil, I thought I was looking at a picture of a baby bear. On close inspection, there are some important differences. Apparently, I am not the first person to see this similarity though, so I did not feel too bad about it.

The Tasmanian devil can only be found in the Australian island of--of course--Tasmania. They are EVERYWHERE on this island, and despite being secluded to this one place in the world, there is no concern that these marsupials will go extinct. Physically, this animal has a body length of 22 inches and a tail length of 9.6 inches. The tail is interesting in and of itself as you shall find out soon.

I can assume anyone reading this is just bouncing in their seat waiting for me to get to the fiction portion of this blog, but you'll just have to wait. We all know where this is going to end up, but I think you may find the real Tasmanian devil to be a little different than expected. The first thing people think when they hear the name "devil" when referencing an animal usually has to do with heavy aggression. Well, Tasmanian devils are carnivores and they are very violent when it comes to killing their prey. They have to be if they want to eat. But what about with humans?

Surprisingly, these so-called devils are rather docile around humans. They will stand very still in the human's presence and shake nervously if the person approaches them. The devil turns into a kitten when it comes to humans, but I would still not try to pet it. A lot of the misconceptions about the Tasmanian devils came from old Aborigine lore. It was later disproved by the scientific community, and the species have been studied under different perceptions ever since.

As I said before, the Tasmanian devil is a carnivore. They really are not that picky about what kind of meat they eat. They will go after anything that can't capably fight back. They will also eat roadkill when given the opportunity. It is a common sight to see a number of Tasmanian devils eating off of one corpse, but that does not mean that they run in packs. These marsupials are actually loners, but there are so many of them in Tasmania that they often will bump into each other. Hey, at least they are polite about it. These animals have whiskers all over their face and head which helps them keep a safe eating distance away from one of the other feeders. Although loners, they were designed to live together anyways. Isn't that interesting?

Now, about their tails: All of the Tasmanian devil's body fat gets routed into its tail. That means that if one of them is getting a lot to eat, he will have a very fat tail. If he is being overfed, he has to drag the silly thing around. I think this is actually pretty funny, and I don't really know of a similar example found in any other animal.

In fiction, I think that everyone in the world has heard of Taz. Formerly known as simply "The Tasmanian Devil," Taz was first featured in ONLY five Loony Tunes shorts from 1954 to 1964. He was known for being absolutely the poster-child for chaos and violence and would spin himself like a mini tornado causing havoc with everything he touched--a sharp contrast to the real animal. His fame really picked up when the old cartoons began to appear in reruns on TV, and then he became a staple in the Loony Tunes cast of characters. In 1991, the world was introduced to the television show "Taz-Mania." This was really Taz's big break. They gave him a family and added a rather interesting extended cast of Australia-based characters. The show was very good. His family was entirely in contrast to him. They were civil and calm but they still accepted their crazy son regardless of his wild behavior and primitive form of speech.

I particularly loved the part of the father who was named Hugh. He was the most relaxed character in the whole show. He had a way of saying things that would just make you laugh. He was voiced by comedian Maurice LaMarche who in his own right is a very funny man. On the topic of voices, Taz was voiced by none other than Jim Cummings who was one of the voice-actor greats of the day.

As popular as Taz is in fiction, he does not represent the real deal. The phrase "together but alone" comes to mind when I think of these creatures as people. They are simply anti-social despite having to live together. You see something similar happen with humans in large American cities. They live in great bunches, but at the end of the day, they don't acknowledge each other. Isn't that fascinating? Based on the marsupial's reactions to humans, I see them as very shy. They don't really want trouble. They simply want to live peaceably with their environment.

Although not like the creature we knew from cartoons, the Tasmanian devil still has a personality that is fascinating. It shall go down in the marsupial hall of fame purely on the basis of a misconception, but what is wrong with that? It just goes to show you what the imagination can bring to the world.

Thank you for reading my blog. If you enjoyed it, you can comment below, or you can email me at Taz hungry!

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Marsupial Spotlight: Monito Del Monte

With the possums, we learned that not all marsupials originate in Australia. In the case of the monito del monte, we find that this species can only be found in southwestern South America--namely Chile and Argentina. The name monito del monte is actually Spanish for "little bush monkey." This is actually a very good name for them when you learn more about them. They are also sometimes called the colocolo opossum. They have other names too, but they are wholly unpronounceable. For the purposes of this blog, I will be calling them monitoes for the sake of brevity.

The term "little bush monkey" makes sense, and here is why. For one, they are quite tiny. They range in size from 3 to 5 inches. The younger ones can be almost as small as a large snail. [Picture provided.] Secondly, they live almost exclusively in trees. They have prehensile tails and paws which allows them to more easily navigate among the branches, and they do so with skill. There is a monkey-like aspect to how they live. But do they look like monkeys?

The monito actually looks like a fat mouse--a fat mouse with fingers. It is incredibly cute. You might actually mistake it for a rodent, and to be honest, there are a lot of really cool rodents in this area of the world. The monito doesn't look all that different than they do, if you think about it. They remind me a little of the chinchilla; however, they're personalities definitely differ.

Monitoes are omnivores; however, they love insects most of all. They also like fruit, but it seems to take second place to a good, hearty bug. They don't do a lot of food storing though. They make nests out of leaves within their favorite tree. They cover it with moss as a matter of camouflage. It is here they sleep... A LOT!

On the latter point, monitoes seem to have the same sleepy problem that koalas have. They love to sleep and only wake up to find something to eat. When they eat, they go at it hard and then go right back to sleep. It seems to be their favorite thing to do really. The exception to this rule is when there is abundance of food and a friendly temperature in the region. In this case, they wake right up and have a holiday consisting of eating, eating, and also eating.

Reproduction-wise: there are some unusual aspects worth mentioning. Apparently, the monito females are larger than the males. They are very monogamous when they mate, and can have from 3 to 5 offspring; however, here lies the problem. The mother can only take care of four of the children at a time, so when there are five offspring, she has to shew one of them away. Sadly, the odd one out will inevitably die. The young will remain in the mother's pouch for five months and then they will remain associated with their parents forever. Interestingly, both males and females of the marsupial reach sexual maturity after 2 years--which is rather long for a small animal.

You know, the big thing that stood out for the monito when I was thinking about fiction was their reproductive habits. They seem positively Amish. They are patient, quiet folk who court each other and remain with the family after marriage. It's all about family! Just imagine an Amish family living in tree-houses. The only problem is the mother--being very picky--doesn't want to take care of more than 4 children. Maybe, there is a chinchilla family who could raise him instead.

I think the monitoes are cute and mousy. Anybody who knows me well is very aware about how crazy I am for rodents. Here is another reason why I also like marsupials--because of creatures like this! More to come!

Thank you for reading this blog! If you enjoyed it, you can comment below, or you can email me at "Living in an Amish paradise!"

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Marsupial Spotlight: Bilby

Bilbies are tiny rodent-like marsupials who have a close relation to the bandicoot. They are very small; however, they can range from 11 to 22 inches long. Although, they still have the long snouts, the main thing that differentiates them from the bandicoot is that they have longer tails, softer and silkier fur, and much larger ears. As to the latter, the bilby's ears are very hot. NO! Not that kinda of hot. They actually radiate heat!

The bilby are also sometimes called a rabbit-bandicoot, a dalgyte, a pinkie, and it is often called by its scientific name macrotis. There are two kinds: The lesser bilby and the greater bilby. I am sad to say that the lesser breed has officially become extinct as of the 1950s. The greater bilby is alive and well in Northwest Australia. Their conservation status is listed as "Vulnerable," which basically means that they are in danger of becoming extinct if occasional action is not taken. Don't worry! I'm rooting for them!

Unlike the bandicoot, the bilby is extremely good at burrowing. They create complex tunnels that spiral downward. This shape makes it very difficult for predators to get in. They also only come up at nighttime for their own protection. Bilbies are omnivores. Their diets include seeds, larvae, spiders fungi, and different kinds of small animals.

These marsupials love to be alone; however, they will pair up in twos as a matter of safety. Yep! They use the buddy system! It is a bit more common for females to group up with another female. They will also assist each other with child care. On that note, bilbies have pouches. They do not have the correct kind of pouch in order to be called macropods; however, their pouch is still pretty cool. Unlike the kangaroo, their pouches face downward. Now, take a moment and try and figure out why that is. I have already said something earlier in the blog that explains this phenomenon.



Have you figured it out yet? Well, here is why. Because the bilbies are such skilled burrowers, they needed a downward-facing pouch so that it would not scoop up dirt on their way down. It would have likely suffocated the children inside.

I know of no fiction for the bilby. Americans rarely ever hear of the creature, but they are known well-enough in Australia. It is likely there has been a book or two about them for children. One of the reasons I think so is because Australia actually has a National Bilby Day held on the second Sunday of September. On this day, many people donate money to help keep the little pinkies from going extinct. Having a national holiday will likely acquire you at least one book deal.

Personally, I see bilbies as skillful and versatile farmers. They are pioneers who spread out in a country--sometimes in pairs--and farm the land for the good of civilization. When family matters become important, I see them helping one another for a time. Just imagine "Little House on the Prairie" but with bilbies.

I love the bilbies. They are very cute and definitely get a one-up over their cousins, the bandicoots. Their big, warm ears seem like a great gimmick. I would love to rub them between my fingers. The bilby is another example of the wide range of marsupials. Normally, they are very big, but they can also be very small as well.

Thank you for reading my blog. If you enjoyed it, you can comment below, or you can email me at "They're warm..."

Thursday, March 3, 2016

"A Kanga-tastrophe" has been published on Smashwords!

Yes! Another episode of "Adventures of Cottontail Pines" is out. It is called "A Kanga-tastrophe," and I recommend you give it a read. You can download it FREE OF CHARGE at Smashwords. Here's a link:

Also, here is a summary as well as the brand new cover drawn by me and  Coy Fields II:

Welcome to the magical town of Cottontail Pines, where animals talk, and there is always a friend around the corner. In this new story called “A Kanga-tastrophe,” the animals of Cottontail Pines come across a new very large visitor. A kangaroo named Ptooie has come to see the town that she had heard so many wonderful things about. However, she is so big, that she may be too big for the quaint little animals of the town. Can she pay a visit without stomping everything under her giant feet? Find out what happens in this cute new story by T.K. Wade!

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Marsupial Spotlight: Red Kangaroo

The red kangaroo is widely consider the most notable and common kangaroo in existence. They are also the largest terrestrial mammal native to Australia. But how about we go all the way and say they are the largest extant marsupial in the world. It's true! But where do you find these guys? Answer: Just go to Australia and look around. You will very likely see one hopping about.

As mentioned before, the red kangaroo is very large. It sports a body length of 5.2 feet with a long tail that adds another 3.9 feet to its total length. Its legs are very powerful for both fighting and leaping. As to the latter, the red kangaroo is amazing at leaping. It can cover almost 30 feet in a single leap sometimes reaching heights of 10 feet in a single bound. If Superman was an animal, he might be a red kangaroo.

Red kangaroos are herbivores and enjoy many of the plants in the bush. They like to group up into bunches; however, this activity is more common with the females and their offspring--called joeys. Like with the wallabies, they have a terrible time with cars. Car manufacturers in Australia usually offer special additions to the front of the car known as "roo bars" which prevent damage to the vehicle when they have an unfortunate collision with the animal. Apparently, it is a very common problem.

Red kangaroos are macropods; all kangaroos are. They have a large pouch that hold their young while they are being nourished and also while under the protection of the mother. But let me take a moment to talk about more sexual things. I'll keep it all in the next paragraph in case you want to skip it.

*Adult Content Below*

As I have said, there are a lot of weird things when it comes to marsupials. Red kangaroos--as well as other breeds--keep their testicles above their penis which is unusual in contrast to other animals as well as humans. The penis itself is prehensile which means they can move it at will. The idea of this strikes me as severely bizarre and even rather creepy.

*Okay, You're Safe Now!*

Since red kangaroos are the most common, they are generally the ones used in fiction. In 1899, music teacher Ethel Pedley wrote a very good book called "Dot and the Kangaroo." It was the only book the woman ever wrote, and might I say, it was wonderful. Dot was a little girl who was lost in the bush, and a red kangaroo felt sorry for her and decided to protect her. She gave the girl magical berries that allowed her to talk to animals and also let her ride in her pouch as they tried to find out where Dot's home was.

Although, Dot meets many interesting animals in the bush, the red kangaroo is a constant companion and really took over the job of mother to the poor girl. I think a lot of children love this book because of the wonderful idea of getting to ride in a kangaroo pouch. Doesn't that sound fun?! Additionally, I thought it was really cute how the kangaroo pointed out that kangaroos never think; they only "jump" to conclusions!

The book also clearly depicted how kangaroos fight--and even kill--in the wild. A poor dingo--a native canine breed--made a poor decision to attack the red kangaroo on his own. Dot actually watched as the poor canine was disemboweled by the kangaroos feet. Quite violent for a children's book; however, I still recommend it for reading.

In 1977, the book was adapted into a movie that was partly live action and part animated. I have not seen this film, but it must have been great because it had 8 sequels. Growing up, I had a betamax tape of the 5th Dot movie called "Dot and Keeto." This movie almost entirely revolved around insects; however, it still ended with Dot being saved by her old friend the red kangaroo. Highly recommended film for children.

Red kangaroos are big and powerful and not to be taken lightly. If I were to make a fictional character entirely based on their merits, I would make them a strong powerful people. I see them as survivalists and soldiers of fortune. I also see them as wise-crackers and practical jokers. Sure, they are extremely capable, but would you really be comfortable working with them?

The red kangaroo is a fun marsupial and really represents the bigness that we always think about when Australia comes to mind. Like many marsupials, they are both weird and wonderful, but there are so many more to come. Look forward to it!

Thank you for reading my blog. If you enjoyed it, you can comment below, or you can email me at G'day!

Illustration from Ethel Pedley's "Dot and the Kangaroo."