I just heard a familiar “thwunk” sound at the dining room window, and as my heart sank I stifled my groan. By the time I looked, there was nothing to see, but I knew what I dreaded: that the mocking bird was back to attack my windows ceaselessly, driving me insane as it battered itself more and more senseless.
As I stood despairing, the sound came again. This time when I looked, a bird hung from the screen, staring inside. Backlit by the bright outdoors, it glowed a very non-mockingbird cinnamon brown. It made a startled “twit-twit” and darted off. I moved closer and peered out, to find it perched in a nearby tree branch. Yellow glowed under its tail feathers, and its crest was wide and puffy and definitely brown. This was no mockingbird!
I downloaded the Cornell University Merlin bird ID app, plopped in the relevant info, and viola! There was my bird, staring back at me. A Greater Crested Flycatcher. Now, I don’t have a life list of birds. But I do know I’ve never heard of this bird before, and never seen one before, so that makes it pretty cool–for me, at least.
This is also a nice bit of news since it gives me something quiet to be happy about. Dasher is still in recovery from his surgery, but he really doesn’t want to be. He will take any opportunity to remind me that he feels just fine and is more than ready to run and play, and he pterodactyl-groans if I’m too active and busy, wanting me to let him do all those forbidden things…which, um, no. No dog, you cannot re-injure yourself before you’re fully healed, no matter how bored you are. This is hard, and only getting harder. The end of May (and his activity release date) seems a long way off. Quiet, non-moving joys are very, very nice.
I’m working on Book 2 of the Jessamin Stow trilogy, and really loving it! Let me tell you one big reason why: I took an online class from UBC on edX (that basically means an online class from the University of British Columbia, offered through the edX online course program) titled How to Write a Novel, Part 1: Plan & Outline. This class was great. It was more than just “writing an outline.” It was different types of outline that different types of writers may use, thinking through your plot, charting the various bits so the story is balanced, and learning to use more scaffolding when it isn’t balanced, then putting it all together, and more. Long form writers will definitely benefit from this class, but the techniques can also apply to short form, as well.
I’m not sure when it’s being offered again, but I really, really recommend this class. The difference between writing Book 1 (before this class) and Book 2 (which I outlined during this class) is literally night and day. And I’m not slavishly following a rigid outline, either. There’s plenty of room for small surprises in the “path” I’ve chosen–as I discovered today while inserting a “cool tidbit” into the story.
Looking to level-up but can’t take a “destination” workshop for whatever reason? This may be the answer you’re looking for.