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  • J. Darris Mitchell

Bird Nerd

I managed to write 29,000 words for a new project between Christmas Eve and New Year’s Day! It’s tentatively titled “The Spade and the Dagger,” and is the origin story of Magnus and Vecnos, a pair of super-powerful characters that Adrianna and company meet in A Crown Of Cobwebs. When I started this project, I expected it to be about 50k words… now I think it’s going to be closer to 100k… Which is great! That means there’s meat to this story, but it is going to take me longer than expected, especially since I’m back to work, and need to be writing 20k words a week again for my ghostwriting gig.


Wait… have your read A Crown of Cobwebs yet? CHECK IT OUT!


What I should do, is revise The Crane and The Wolf first. That’s the story about the werewolf who can only be stopped from becoming a bloodthirsty monster by perfectly baked concoctions (basically fantasy murder Bake-Off). I want to get it out this year, because I think you’ll love it!



Personal Note


For the first time in a long time, we didn’t stay up until midnight for New Year’s Eve. I would have liked to, but our toddler continues to assault our sleeping hours, so it was neither wise, nor possible to stay up three hours past bedtime.


Still, I woke up at midnight to the sounds of fireworks going off in every direction, and—though I might have preferred a solid night’s sleep—it put a smile on my face. New Year’s is a time of rebirth and re-thinking, and never has that felt acute or more necessary than this year. Despite wanting nothing more than the comfort of the oblivion of sleep, it was heart-warming to know that my community has their eyes on the year to come, and were devoted to scaring away the spirits of 2020 with brightly colored explosives.


Bird of the Week


I finished 2020 as the 8th nerdiest bird nerd in Travis county, having seen 254 species right here in my home county. What a thrill!


I have seen 288 birds in Travis county, and am hoping this year will bring me to 300. My last bird of 2020 was a calliope hummingbird. I had tried to see this particular individual on two prior occasions and failed to see or hear it both times.


My third attempt came just hours before a massive cold front of wintry weather came through. I pulled up in some poor stranger’s front yard, and locked my binoculars on the hummingbird feeder in their front yard. Five minutes of stifling pre-storm humidity passed, and I saw nothing… but then I heard it. A chip came from deep inside a bush near the feeder. My breath held, I tried to recognize a pattern to the call in hopes of being able to identify the bird from the sound if I didn’t get to see it. Luckily for me, it emerged and drank from the feeder.


Calliope hummingbirds have throats streaked with gorgeous magenta feathers, but from my angle the streaks appeared grey on white, rather than magenta. Still, I was elated to see this winter visitor, especially when the rain broke, the temperature dropped, and I knew the other two people I had bumped out of 8th wouldn’t be able to venture out to reclaim their spot on the leaderboard.

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