Roseate Spoonbill and a Milestone


Well, this is one of my last wildlife videos from Florida. I hope to be able to gather some more soon! They probably won’t be from Florida though 🙂

Anyhow, this is a Roseate Spoonbill (and you should recognize his Wood Stork companion), feeding in a pond in the Everglades. You can see his spoon-shaped bill – you’ll never guess how it got its name. It uses the flattened part of its bill to sift through mud and muck to catch little aquatic invertebrates and hunts mostly by touch, like the Wood Stork. The bald head is something else they share, and although there are several theories, no one knows exactly why this is beneficial for them, although we suspect it has something to do with how it sticks its whole face underwater. The side-to-side movement is a very typical feeding behavior for this species. Like flamingos, the pink coloration is a by-product of carotinoid pigments (specifically canthaxanthin and astaxanthin, if you want to get all scientific) in its diet.

They’re beautiful birds, and I was really lucky to see a few!

I hoped to have excellent news this week on the writing front – and I do! I’ve finished my list of changes for the King’s Mark revision, and I’m on to the final polish. I plan to have it complete by the end of the week, so my dad can read it on the plane when he heads overseas next weekend. However, all this work means I haven’t been doing much thinking about other things, like blog topics… so here’s an alligator!

Distracted yet? No?



On Pressure and Story Scope


This is a great blue heron, who happened to pose right next to us on Anhinga Trail.

Same heron, even closer. Isn’t he beautiful? And just a tad of a show-off?

And on to writing news!

I’ve had a couple days off work this past week, which has given me a chance to focus on writing. I’ve got two more days off, so I’m hoping to speed through my planned changes. If I can manage it, that will leave only the polish/line-edits. I got an actual deadline yesterday (instead of the fake ones I keep setting myself) of March 16, which is when I need to get it to my father for his comments before he leaves the country. I always work better with an externally set deadline, so I’m very hopeful.

I’ve also had some time to work on Thieves of Moirai, and I ran the first two chapters through critique group yesterday. I received some good feedback from the Wordslingers. So far, it’s pretty encouraging. Also, they gave me some stuff to work on – which is, of course, the point. Thieves is in first person present tense, which is completely opposite of King’s Mark. There are some limitations that come from this, one I’m still struggling with is fitting description in without screwing up the narrative.

In reality, the biggest challenge I’m facing right now is myself. For some reason, I’m feeling the pressure to write Thieves well. I never really felt this for King’s Mark, probably because I just wanted to make it all the way through the story.

I set out to keep King’s Mark small (although small is a relative term, and applying it to KM is somewhat debatable). I kept the history to a minimum, although it is there. Cultures and geography are simple, and rather than spend tons of time world-building I used existing cultures and places as a base. The magic system was contained. I wanted it to be a stand-alone book, with room for a second, and by the time I finish revising that’s what it will be. I’ll admit, having 4 POVs did not make for a “simple” book, although I started off with a very simple plan for each of my 3 main characters. That part grew beyond my expectations, but still. Overall, small.

Thieves is a much larger undertaking, although it only has one POV (which I haven’t worked with much before now) and takes place in one city. The world is completely my own, with predatory plants of my devising and a completely alien culture. The magic is common and widely used, and has complicated applications (although the rules are simple enough). My main character knows about things I don’t and has a personality vastly different than my own. By the second chapter, she’s already wrapped up in family problems, the criminal world, and politics. She’s lying to everyone, the very setting is hostile toward her, and she’s just discovered murder victims. And I’m pretty sure this is a trilogy, at least. So… bigger.

Thieves is my second attempt, and for some reason it seems important to do it right. Not to mention, I’m extremely excited about the story idea, and I’m a little afraid to screw it up. As silly as it is, I’m nervous that the general approval King’s Mark received was a fluke, or beginner’s luck. And for some reason, the positive feedback on the first couple chapters of Thieves intensified this feeling rather than diffused it.

So I have to keep reminding myself that I can’t write it perfectly. That’s what revisions are for. Plus, I’m a discovery writer, so if I don’t give myself leeway to play with the story, it will never grow into something I can shape. I have to have faith that I will make good decisions or be able to fix problems when the time comes. And I should remember all those other common writing gems – ideas are cheap! The story in your head is always idealized! Give yourself permission to suck!

Next week, I hope to have made significant progress on revisions AND Thieves, and I will definitely have a video of a Roseate Spoonbill foraging. In the meantime, here’s another pretty ocean shot.

Mockingbird Shenanegans


Well, I’ve been typing my fingers to the bone this week, working on King’s Mark revisions, and also on the first draft of Thieves of Moirai. I’ve made a lot of progress, especially this weekend, but my brain is now mush.

So rather than leave you with no exciting blog update, I thought I’d do a short one. Below is a video from my recent trip to Florida. It’s a Northern Mockingbird doing some sort of display. It’s a little odd, because although it looks a little like she’s drawing our attention away from something (many birds do this to protect their babies or their nests), it is both too early in the season for her to have a nest, and not an entirely typical display. Anyway, you can judge for yourself!

Interesting, isn’t it? Here are some random pics for you, also:

And here is a green anole – they are native, unlike the brown anoles that were introduced to the state.

This is taken just after a bottlenose dolphin jumped beside our boat. It was amazing to see wild dolphins up close, but they were surprisingly camera shy, and we couldn’t get video or a pic.

And this is a green heron, which are normally very shy small herons. This particular bird was right out in the open beside a boardwalk. He’s in his hunting position, ready to strike, and he didn’t so much as blink when I took this picture.

And that’s it for today! Hope you have a great week!

Willow’s 5 Lessons


This is Willow. She is my oldest, wisest chinchilla. She has many lessons to share, but here are five of her favorites.

Lesson 1: Exercise a lot! Don’t worry if you don’t get anywhere, the fun is in the running!

Lesson 2: Sleep a lot! And when you do sleep, COMMIT!

Lesson 3: It is always better to have a friend as a pillow…

Lesson 4: Don’t make fun of other people, even if they DO sleep funny… They might make fun of your odd habits!

Lesson 5: Explore and be brave! If you know there is another place behind a door, don’t give up until you open that door. You might have to run back into your cage, but at least you’ll know what’s out there.