All posts by Marie Sexton

Adventures of a Newbie Birder

Like many of you, I found myself rather bored and tired of staring my own walls at some point this summer. And like many of you, I decided it was a perfect time to familiarize myself with birds. After all, birds are everywhere! Here was a new hobby I could enjoy from the relative comfort of my kitchen during Covid lockdown.

In theory, that is.

Whether due to bad timing, or because the birds had no particular reason to visit my yard, or a bit of both, my first few weeks of birding were rather uneventful.


Is it Birding, or Bird-Watching?

This seems like a good time to talk about “bird watching” vs “birding.” Personally, I think Matt Kracht summed it up very well in his hilarious book, The Field Guide to Dumb Birds of North America, when he said, “Today, in reality, the two terms are for the most part used interchangeably by laypeople, and the only substantive difference between a “birder” and a “bird watcher” is the degree of pretentious erudition versus competitive prick-ness.”

Being rather uncompetitive, I suppose that makes me a bird watcher, not a birder. So be it.


Where was I?

Oh, yes. I was telling you how it turns out that the heat of summer in Colorado is apparently a bad time to become a bird watcher. To begin my bird-watching, I hung out several different types of feeders. I then perched with some anticipation next to my sliding glass door. And I waited.

My first visitor, not counting the squirrels.

In those first few weeks, I fed a whole lot of squirrels, but little else. I was thrilled the morning I looked out and found a house finch using one of my feeders, and even more excited a few days later when I spotted two red-breasted nuthatches. Success at last! At least, a bit of it.

During this time, I also ran all over town to our various natural areas, trying to find more birds to add to my very sad little “life list.” Where in the world were they? Why were they all gone, now that I was looking for them?


The one place in my area that was sure to be lousy with birds was the reservoir/natural area a few miles from my house. Here, barn swallows were abundant, as were pelicans and red-tailed hawks. (And Canadian geese, of course. Those fuckers are everywhere. To quote Matt Kracht again, “Thanks a lot, Canada.”) And so I went back on a pretty regular basis, usually in the morning. I spotted a pair of collared doves building a nest and watched anxiously through my binoculars (that’s “bins,” for those serious birders out there) for their eggs to hatch. Alas, a predator must have found my doves and their eggs because one morning, they were there, and the next morning, they were gone.

Barn swallow
This guy sat on the wire every morning, scanning the fields for his breakfast. Check out those talons!
Pelicans and a couple of egrets in a totally grody corner of the reservoir. Apparently, they’re not picky.

And then…

And then I had foot surgery, which eliminated my trips to the reservoir for a few weeks. But through all of this, things were changing. Many birds, after all, are migratory, and so the beginning of fall meant a change in avian visitors. Suddenly, my back yard is abuzz. There are black-capped chickadees and my two red-breasted nuthatches, of course. There are the occasional woodpeckers. The biggest tree in my yard rustles with the flitting about of little warblers and sparrows, most of which I can’t yet identify. And the newest arrival, a hermit thrush who stays near the safety of the fence. There are also the blue jays, rather loud and rude, but so handsome, I forgive them.

Handsome blue jay, giving me the side-eye.

My daughter and I sat watching the birds through her lunch break today (her school is still 100% remote), and we marveled at the constant flutter of wings back and forth over our yard.

And suddenly I thought, if there are this many birds here, there must be tons of them at the reservoir!

So I jumped in my car, and off I went. But to my great disappointment, the reservoir was practically deserted. Gone are the mobs and mobs of swooping barn sparrows, and the scores of pelicans. A large flock of floating birds bobbed about on the water, too far offshore for me to get a good ID on (although I think mostly plebes and gulls of some kind). And there are still geese. Tons and tons of geese, but that’s about it. I’m not sure what I expected, but not this.

Now, I know that unfortunately, there was recently a huge die-off of migratory birds in this part of the country. You can read about it here, and here, and here. (And many, many other places.) It’s heartbreaking. But being an utter newbie at this, I have no idea how much or how little this plays into the lack of birds at my reservoir. If nothing else, I know the bald eagles will be back in the next month or two. They can frequently be seen circling over the reservoir in the winter. In the meantime, I’ll go check out some of those other natural areas and see if there are more birds there.

But I still have this…

My trip to the reservoir wasn’t a total loss today though. On the way home, I spotted this guy sitting on a fence post right next to the road. Red-tailed hawks are incredibly common around here, but in my mind, that doesn’t make them any less impressive. He was even nice enough to wait while I pulled to the side of the road and took a picture.

The Funniest Accidental Wedding Photobombs

I find the funniest things on this site. Or, maybe I’m just easily amused. Either way, I figured we could all use a laugh these days, so here’s one of my recent favorites. (These are only a few of the photos featured on the site. Follow the link at the bottom if you’d like to laugh a bit more.)



Source (with even more hilarious wedding photo-bombs): The Funniest Accidental Wedding Photobombs

And, don’t forget our big cover reveal for the Lost Ship of the Tucker Rebellion coming up on Saturday at Joyfully Jay’s!

Have a great weekend! 😁

Available for preorder

The Lost Ship of the Tucker Rebellion, co-written with Cari Z, is now available for preorder. You can find that here. We’re so excited about this book. It’s a fun, lighthearted, optimistic space adventure about twin brothers Denver and Laramie, their friend Marit, and their pop culture-quoting ‘bot, OPAL. It will be released on October 26th. We also have a GORGEOUS cover which will be revealed at Joyfully Jay’s at September 26th.

What are you searching for?

I just happened to look at my google analytics report for last month, and I found something surprising. Some of you are looking for porn! LOL. And others of you are apparently very dismayed by Zatairan’s discontinued rice. I’m sorry to say, I have neither porn, no insider rice information. I’ll be sure to let you know if either of those things change. 😂

All I can say is, that must have been some really good rice. I’m a little bummed now that I never tried it. 😉

Honestly, it gave me a good laugh. For those of you who were actually looking for ME, thanks so much for your support!

New and Upcoming

As usual, I have been completely remiss about posting updates here on my site. It occurred to me today that I have several things to catch you all up on.

No Good Deed

The Heretic Doms Club is finally complete! No Good Deed is now available in both ebook and audio. I can’t tell you what a relief it is to finally have this project finished. The only problem is, I don’t know what I’m doing next. Hopefully I’ll figure it out sooner rather than later.


I’m so excited to be able to re-release the Oestend series! Book one, Song of Oestend, is available here. Book two, Saviours of Oestend is available for preorder here. It will be released on September 1. And aren’t these new covers gorgeous?

Both books have been re-edited. Book one does not contain any significant changes, but I did make changes to Saviours (specifically to the Frances/Simon part of the story). Both books will also be available in audio later this year.

If you’d like more details on the changes to Oestend, consider joining my Facebook group. It’s the one and only place where I hang out and talk about my books, and it is 100% free of both drama and politics! I have several old livestreams you can check out. One of them is all about Oestend, and another is all about Coda.


Speaking of Coda and audio, John Solo recently finished re-recording the audio of Promises! Back when the current version was recorded, authors in my genre didn’t have many options for narrators. But these days, we have access to the best in the biz, like John. I’m so happy this book is finally getting an updated audio version! I will post links everywhere as soon as it’s available.

The Lost Ship of the Tucker Rebellion

Cari Z and I started this book together way back in 2016. We finished the first draft, then put it away while she had a baby and we both worked on other projects. But we recently dug it out of the trunk and polished it up. You can read the blurb here. We’re waiting on cover art (which we should be getting any day now), and then we’ll get a preorder link set up for you. This book is similar to The Well in that is not primarily a romance, but it does have a romantic subplot.

That’s everything for now! I hope you all have a great fall!

No Good Deed now available for preorder!

No Good Deed will be released June 22, 2020. You can preorder it here.

Charlie Garcia has spent his life helping others. For years, he’s provided free healthcare for his neighbors and served as a counselor for his friends and their partners. He loves being the go-to guy, except when it results in him falling for the wrong man.

Now, six years later, the one who got away is back in Denver to donate a kidney, and he has a request – he wants Charlie to marry him long enough to serve as medical power of attorney. Charlie’s happy to help, but in addition to a surprise fiancé, he suddenly has two huge problems: a neighbor with a grudge who wants to ruin his career, and a secret that may destroy his friendship with Warren, Phil, and Gray.

Bonus Content: Includes three new Heretic Doms Club vignettes.

20% of author’s ebook proceeds will be donated to the National Kidney Foundation.