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  • Writer's pictureJ. Darris Mitchell

I Literally saw a Black Phoebe

ON Desk


I have great news to share! I got A Crown of Cobwebs reviewed by Kirkus Reviews (yes, THE Kirkus Reviews) and they LIKED IT! I had submitted my book months ago and knew that I would hear back in January. As the days ticked by, I found myself growing more and more terrified of them simply not understanding the absurdly enchanting adventure tale I was going for, BUT THEY TOTALLY GOT IT!

You can read the whole review here but a few of my favorite highlights were:

A wild fantasy romp propelled by humor, horror, and heart.”

“Deliciously repulsive”


“Reminiscent of Terry [fucking] Pratchett”

(okay, so I added the [fucking] for emphasis).

Being called ‘reminiscent’ of one of the greatest masters of the English language absolutely floored me. To be honest, I would have been happy with ‘a poor man’s Pratchett,’ so this made my weekend!

To celebrate, get yourself a copy and drop me a review that I will read with just as much enthusiasm as I read the one from Kirkus! Or get a free ebook copy right now if you act fast!

Personal Note

My four year old son has learned the word, ‘literally.’ He uses it about as accurately as most adults do and it is literally the most annoying thing in the entire universe.

Me: time for lunch.

Him: It is LITERALLY time to play!

Me: Pick up your toys

Him: I am LITERALLY not picking up my toys

Me: Let’s go home now.

Him: I LITERALLY don’t want to go home

OK, so actually I guess he’s better at using it than most adults?

Bird of the Week

Long has a black phoebe lived at Hamilton’s Pool and long have I dreamt of seeing it.

Knowing I would need support, I called in the big guns.

My Mom.

We loaded the boys in the car, packed the stroller and snacks, and hit the road. We arrived only to discover that while the pool was only a quarter-mile from the parking lot, this was in fact distance that might as well have been measured vertically instead of horizontally (no, not literally!) The stroller abandoned in the car, we descended over rock and root, a four-year-old leading us at a pell-mell pace while the 1 year old perched on his grandma’s arm.

We reached the creek bed and headed upstream as the water flowed the opposite direction over a maze of cypress roots.

Black phoebes are supposed to perch on low handing branches that extend over water, so I checked every branch I saw that dangled over this meandering creek. Literally every. Single. One.

The bird was nowhere to be seen. Not over the creek, not over the stunningly gorgeous fern-lined grotto, nowhere.

So we played and explored (and avoided the bacteria-laden water) and had lunch. Desperate, I began to look farther and farther afield as Gigi minded the children and kept them out of the water. My eyes finally landed on the creek at the top of the grotto and the waterfall it fed.

Was that…? Could it be…?

High above the grotto was a tiny black bird with a white belly. Would I count this as a sighting? Yes. Shamelessly. Did I want a better look? You know it.

So, when the phoebe flew down and landed on the branch of a tree not twenty feet from me, I got a little excited. When it fluttered over to a guide rope and enthusiastically pumped its lil’ tail, I lost it. When it stuck around for the next half hour, flitting this way and though, catching bugs, getting sips of water, and just generally showing off to my sons, my mom and me, I deemed it a very good lil’ birb, and a very good day.

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