Friday, May 12, 2006

Friday 20

Today's planned industry post was completely derailed by an intruder that I found sitting in the backyard this morning. She was alone, not particularly attractive, up to her knees in her own crap and completely incapable of dealing with her situation. Plus she shrieked at me the minute I approached her, wordless but adamant as she demanded that I do something.

The blue bird of unhappiness

No parents appeared to peck me in the head. She wasn't injured but she couldn't fly; she was so little she barely could hop. How she got in the middle of two acres of lawn with no trees within a hundred yards will likely remain a mystery forever (and I did look for her nest for about an hour, with no luck.) She showed no fear of me when I knelt down beside her, though, only opening up her mouth for food.

I had a million things to do, all of them fairly urgent, and none of them could accommodate her. Unlike my daughter, I tend to avoid wild things, and it wasn't like I put her there anyway. As she shrieked at me, I had to decide whether to let nature (and the outdoor felines, raccoons, foxes and possums roaming the neighborhood) take its course, or do something to help this uninvited, bad-tempered, belligerent little madam.

Screw nature, I thought. This chick and I were instant soulmates.

She didn't peck at me or freak out when I lifted her out of the grass to put her in the container. She sat on my palm and chirped, much happier. She seemed ignorant of the fact that I am a member of a far less trustworthy species, or maybe she figured I was her best shot at a chance to live. Which she has now, thanks to the folks at a local wildlife rehab/release center where she'll be residing until she's big enough to handle life on her own. All that cost me was three hours, several phone calls, a couple of bucks in gas, a disposable plastic container and the post I was going to write for today. Not a bad trade.

Now that I have answered the call of nature (Lord, you didn't see that coming?) I'll trade you answers for some questions. Got any for me?

39 comments:

  1. Here's an answer for you:

    Wax worms. They're rather tasty to the human palate, and their high fat content should be just the ticket for a growing bird.

    But seriously -- speaking as a bird person, thank you. I don't know if what you did is an officially recognized mitzvah, but it should be ;)

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  2. Curiously enough, I was about to say the same thing.
    No questions. Just thank you for what you did.

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  3. Being kind to our fellow creatures doesn't cost much.

    We have a bunny which visits our back yard most every day. He likes the dropped birdseed under our feeder. He pays for his meals with fertilizer. We have never and will never use lawn toxins either - it’s o natural for our four legged and feathered backyard friends. (Excuse me while I nip out and hug a tree . . .)

    One question. Do you write what you want when you want, or are you always under contract for say "the next Stardoc" novel which has strict deadlines imposed by your publishers?

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  4. I have reached what I call That Time of Project -- the one where I want to kill all my characters for being foolish, scheming or generally clueless.

    Do you ever give in to the urge to be horrible to a character rather than stick to your outline? (By the way, I'm a total wannabe at this point. I meet my word count every day -- or stick to my project plan if I'm world building or revising, but I have yet to sell).

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  5. Aaaaw PBW!! You did my heart so good today. In a chaotic whirlwind of emotional and legal crap that is my life right now, you made me smile and realize that none of that really matters. All that stuff will pass. What really matters is the one kind act that we can do for those who help us, furry, feathered or otherwise. Thank you so much.

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  6. Doug wrote: Here's an answer for you: Wax worms.

    I'd have to rejoin SFWA to find me some. :)

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  7. Raine wrote: Just thank you for what you did.

    You're making me shuffle, guys. I did get something out of it, too. Being able to hold her for ten seconds was very cool.

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  8. Thank you VERRA much! This was really sweet, and thanks for the photo. :)

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  9. Considering what we have to deal with at work every day at this time of year, it's very refreshing to see someone who knows exactly what to do and where fledlings need to be taken. *-*

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  10. My daughter (with Biology degrees) volunteers to do a local bird count at sunrise on this date every year. I was just telling her about your post and it made both of us smile. :) Thank you for your kind soul.

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  11. Do you dodge interviews? ;) Just curious.

    I've been doing interviews for a website. I thought about sending of questions in an email to you for it but then I thought... naw, she doesn't do that sort of author stuff. ;)

    And lovely about the bird! So cool. I used to work at an animal rescue. I do prefer nature to take its course, but not right in front of me. ;) I would have done the same.

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  12. What a sweet thing to do! You rock. :)

    My question is related to writing a series. I'm thinking of developing a series based on my current WIP. It probably won't have a chronology; I think it will just be standalones set in the same universe with the same core characters.

    Could you give me some hints on how to it? What's the biggest challenge? How to do make a smooth transition from one book to the next?

    Thanks in advance.

    Erin K.

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  13. Paul wrote: Do you write what you want when you want, or are you always under contract for say "the next Stardoc" novel which has strict deadlines imposed by your publishers?

    I pitch what I want to write (or audition for a WFH job I'd like to do) and the publisher and I negotiate the deadlines when we strike a deal. Occasionally WFH job deadlines are a deal breaker for me; I won't take a job that I know I'm not likely to finish on time for the publisher.

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  14. What sort of bird is that wee bundle of fluff, beak and legs going to grow into?

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  15. Noel wrote: I have reached what I call That Time of Project -- the one where I want to kill all my characters for being foolish, scheming or generally clueless.

    I'm in that place a lot; usually at 6 am on Monday mornings.

    Do you ever give in to the urge to be horrible to a character rather than stick to your outline?

    I've felt the urge now and then -- Joseph from StarDoc and Teresa from Bio Rescue and Afterburn were probably the worst temptations to date, because I hate both characters so much -- but I've always resisted deviating from an outline unless absolutely necessary to serve the story. My personal feelings about my characters don't often do that. :)

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  16. Trace wrote: All that stuff will pass. What really matters is the one kind act that we can do for those who help us, furry, feathered or otherwise.

    Amen, sister.

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  17. Heather wrote: This was really sweet, and thanks for the photo.

    She is a cutie, isn't she? (I called this morning and she had a good night; ate some mashed up bugs and seems to be settling into her new digs.)

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  18. Andi wrote: Considering what we have to deal with at work every day at this time of year, it's very refreshing to see someone who knows exactly what to do and where fledlings need to be taken.

    I can't take credit for it; my daughter, Miss Animal Planet, has educated me about handling wild things. We seem to get more snakes than anything else here; we've relocated about twenty since we moved in (and never handle a snake, folks, unless you're sure what variety it is.)

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  19. Nancy wrote: My daughter (with Biology degrees) volunteers to do a local bird count at sunrise on this date every year.

    That sounds neat. We're "collecting" all the birds who visit our yard by taking snapshots and making up a big album of them. It's fun to go through the field ID books with the kids and identify them.

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  20. Pixel Faerie wrote: Do you dodge interviews?

    I'll do them now and then for good friends, or for students or kids, but I'm leery of doing too many. Nothing is more boring than an author talking about themselves and/or their books. Really. When I can't sleep, I read author interviews. They're better than Lunesta. :)

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  21. Erin wrote: My question is related to writing a series. I'm thinking of developing a series based on my current WIP. It probably won't have a chronology; I think it will just be standalones set in the same universe with the same core characters.

    Good move. Chronological series are a pain in the ass, especially in the backstory department.

    Could you give me some hints on how to it? What's the biggest challenge? How to do make a smooth transition from one book to the next?

    For a long-running series of standalones, I think you need to build a solid universe with an suitable amount of potential conflicts and story possibilities. Your crew may change from book to book, but their universe should change at a much slower rate. Look at any civilization in history, and you'll see eras of slow growth and development, change through various social influences, and rifts created by natural and manmade disasters, plagues and so forth. Evolve your universe in the same manner, and you'll have a lasting stage for your players.

    Probably the biggest challenges with a standalone series is maintaining continuity for the reader while shaking things up on the character front. When you change your cast from book to book, the reader has to fall in love with a new crew every time. Crossover characters can help, but you don't want them to become built-in narrators and nothing more than that.

    Transitioning from book to book in a standalone series is also not a piece of cake, especially if you're not straitjacketing yourself with a timeline. You might consider using one baseline setting, event or conflict as a transition catalyst. A practical example would be a historical fiction author telling different stories about Rome while using the building of the Coliseum, the crowning of an emperor or the wars being fought by the Roman army in each book as a sort of story marker. If you're going to hop around a lot, you might use one secondary character in each book (think Anakin Skywalker from Star Wars) to give your reader a reference point.

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  22. That was too sweet!

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  23. Gabriele wrote: What sort of bird is that wee bundle of fluff, beak and legs going to grow into?

    We think either a blue jay or a scrub jay; we're waiting to hear the final word on what she is from the habitat people.

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  24. I just wanted to thank you for introducing me to AutoRealm, a totally excellent site for someone who can't draw a straight line with a ruler.
    Ann (fractured fiction)

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  25. Thanks for your answer to Gabriele's question, and Gabriele for asking it.

    I'm thinking about doing the same thing with my current WIP. I'm reasonably sure I won't be writing about the lead character again, but it seems like such a waste of the worldbuilding.

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  26. I'm tryin' to figure out what kind of bird it is. Looks like a starling, but it's hard to tell.

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  27. Awww! Made my day seeing that picture. :) Last August, we rescued a tiny kitten off of a major highway. He was supposed to go to the shelter, but he's still here. He's not so tiny anymore. :) We named him after the highway: Nimitz. Some say the original bearer of the name was self-centered, egotistical, and autocratic. This Nimitz is carrying on the tradition just fine. :)

    If I'd found the bird here, I'd say it looked like a Mynah. Do you have Mynahs there?

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  28. You are so sweet. (((Hugs))) I stand by that statement. :)

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  29. Eliza wrote: That was too sweet!

    Shhhh. Don't tell anyone. Will ruin my rep. :)

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  30. Ann wrote: I just wanted to thank you for introducing me to AutoRealm, a totally excellent site for someone who can't draw a straight line with a ruler.

    I was hoping that one would help someone like me. ;) When I get some spare time, I'm going to give it a whirl myself. I need to draw some maps and stuff for my Ravelin stories and I think it might be just the thing.

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  31. Milady wrote: I'm thinking about doing the same thing with my current WIP. I'm reasonably sure I won't be writing about the lead character again, but it seems like such a waste of the worldbuilding.

    Especially if you've had fun in your universe. I'm still writing short stories in a couple of mine to try out ideas I was never able to get to. Some of them will go nowhere further than my hard drive, but it's a good writing exercise for me, and helps me use more of my active universes.

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  32. Jpatrick wrote: I'm tryin' to figure out what kind of bird it is. Looks like a starling, but it's hard to tell.

    You'll be happy to know that the habitat folks just called and confirmed that she's a baby starling. :)

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  33. Lynn Raye wrote: Last August, we rescued a tiny kitten off of a major highway. He was supposed to go to the shelter, but he's still here. He's not so tiny anymore.

    Felines have a way of moving in the minute you bring them through the door, don't they? Lol.

    If I'd found the bird here, I'd say it looked like a Mynah. Do you have Mynahs there?

    Down in south Florida we had a lot of common mynas around the neighborhood, but so far I haven't seen one here in Central FL.

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  34. Jordan wrote: I stand by that statement.

    I'm never going to live this down, am I?

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  35. My office building has an utterly ludicrous and financially wasteful glass atrium extending from its lobby entrance. One day last summer, a colleague and I returned from our normal luncheon walk in the nearby woods to find a finch trapped between the glass walls of the atrium and a concrete planter. Its plaintive cries had gone unanswered by everything and everyone around it. We searched the area to find a suitable stick, and bought a newspaper which we then rolled up; using these instruments, we gently lifted the bird out of its trap and set it on its way under a bush.

    The next day, again returning from our Nature's soujourn, a group of finches gathered in a tree next to the sidewalk by the building and, facing us directly, bounced and chirped at us as we passed by.

    Most would call this projection. I call it awareness. :)

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  36. Anonymous3:50 PM

    A friend and I tried to same a baby bird when I was little. It had definitely been abandoned, and there were NO wildlife centers in our tiny town, but there was a university that had a large wildlife dept, and they told us to feed it wet cat food. (It was a mockingbird.) It did well for a week. Then it started looking a bit funny, but before it got really sick, a crow attacked it and killed it when it was outside and we were too far away to get to it in time. :-/

    --Lydia

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  37. I think it must happen to everyone at sometime in their lives where a helpless animal begs for help. We either answer or walk away. You did the right thing, and I'm willing bet a big karmic push will come your way soon.

    I took on the job of being the Mommy to a lost baby squirrel once. Our cat brought it home. He was the best fun, even if he did scratch me to bits, and insist on sleeping in my cleavage (which is why I'm sure it was a male), and to let him take his leaps up into the trees, and never return to the box again was sad, but it was the right thing to do.

    so what kind of bird was it?

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  38. Is it too late to ask a question?

    How do you structure your day? Has it changed over the years from when you wrote book #1 to when you wrote book number... um... the most recent one?

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  39. PBW wrote: I'm never going to live this down, am I?


    Nope! (wg)

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