Tag Archives: 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.

Wait.

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.

Anyway…

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?

Except…

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.)

Enjoy!

 

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.

Oestend

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.

Promises

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!

What’s up for 2020?

Happy New Year! Being the first day of the New Year, it seems like a good time to catch people up on what’s going on with me and my books, and what you can expect from me in 2020.

NEW

Spare the Rod has finally been released. You can find that here. The audio will be released sometime later this month.

Roped In has been re-released. This book was originally published by Amber, then by Riptide. It’s now been self-published by L.A. Witt. It has not changed from the Riptide edition.

CANCELED

In previous posts, I talked about a new Tucker Springs story. It was actually supposed to be the book where Matt and Jared made a visit to Tucker Springs to visit Bryan, who you met in Meant to Be. Well… I guess it wasn’t meant to be. Multiple issues have led to that book being shit-canned. I’d kind of still like to write that story, but there are a lot of behind-the-scenes issues to deal with, so I’m not sure it will ever happen.

UPCOMING

I’m finishing up a scifi story that I co-wrote with Cari Z. It’ll be called The Lost Ship of the Tucker Rebellion. It’s more of a scifi about two brothers than a romance, but it does have a romantic subplot. We plan to publish that in late March or April of this year. Stay tuned for more details.

In theory, Charlie’s book (No Good Deed, book 4 of the Heretic Doms Club series) will be released this year too. Not making any promises on that. If it happens, it’ll be late in the year.

Also, if my calculations are correct (which they only are about half the time), the contracts with Totally Bound for the Oestend series are up this year, in which case, I’ll be self-publishing those, with audio, possibly with new covers, and possibly with new stories to go with them. We’ll see.

KEEPING UP TO DATE

The absolute best way to stay up-to-date on my books is in my Facebook group. You can find that here. Even though it’s on FB, I promise it is 100% drama free.

That’s everything. As always, thank you for your ongoing support. I hope you have a wonderful year!

Spare the Rod available for preorder! (Finally!)

It feels like it took forever, but Spare the Rod is finally done! Well, it still has to go through edits. But from a writing perspective, it’s finished. I can’t tell you what a huge relief it is, knowing this book will finally see the light of day. And it’ll be out in time for the holidays, which is wonderfully appropriate.

***

Gray Andino is a Denver cop with a pain kink and a history of falling in love with the wrong people. He’s jealous of his friends’ newfound happiness, but with a brain that won’t shut up and a need to argue everything, finding his own soul mate seems impossible, so he settles for meaningless sex and doling out pain with willing subs.

Subs like Avery Barron.

When Avery asks to stay with Gray for a few weeks, Gray reluctantly agrees. Avery may be the perfect sub, but as an accidental roommate, he sucks. The younger child of rich, indulgent parents, Avery is an entitled slob with a disdain for rules, a lack of ambition, and an obsession with social media. Gray tolerates his presence, but when Avery breaks one of Gray’s ground rules, he punishes him and takes away his phone.

Deprived of his usual echo chamber, Avery feels lost until he discovers a local tap house, a piano, and his buried love of music. The more Avery plays, the more the community around him blossoms. For the first time in his life, Avery has a purpose and goals for the future. But the thing he longs for most — Gray’s love and respect — may be forever out of reach.

Preorder it here!

Promises 2nd edition now available for preorder!

The new and improved 2nd edition of Promises is now available for preorder!

Why a 2nd edition?

I’ve had a lot of readers ask what the point of second editions is. In many cases, the 2nd edition exists because the publisher of the first edition went out of business, or because the original contract is (for some reason) no longer valid. But the first edition is still the property of that specific publisher, whether they’re in business or not. So the author can choose to publish a 2nd edition, or to have the book out of print forever. Of course, most of us opt for the former. For almost every one of my books that has a 2nd (or even 3rd) edition, it’s one of those two reasons.

BUT, Promises is the exception. The 2nd edition of Promises exists because it’s now receiving mass market release. That’s exciting! The thing is, Promises was the first book I ever wrote, and boy, did it show. Plus, editing in the ebook world just wasn’t as good in 2009 as it is now. We (the publisher and I) wanted to fix it up before releasing it into the broader book world. Believe me, if I ever happen to see Promises on the shelf at Target, I want it to be the best version of the book it can be. And that meant new edits.

What about it is “new”?

The next question most of you will ask is, “Has anything changed?” The best answer I can give is, everything has changed, and nothing has changed at all. I deleted a billion exclamation points. I cut a lot of dialog tags and corrected filtering and passive voice as much as I could. I made tons of tiny changes. But the story you know (and hopefully love) is the same as it was.

All but one small scene.

See, back when I wrote Promises, I had no idea I’d be building a series around it. I certainly didn’t anticipate Jared and Cole’s friendship becoming the lynchpin of the whole Coda universe. But now that I know what I know, it seemed odd to me that Jared wouldn’t mention Matt to Cole until the next morning. So the scene with Cole has been expanded just a tiny bit, much to Cole’s delight. 😉

The 2nd edition of Promises also includes a brand new Coda novella, Meant to Be. This is basically a prequel to the Coda stories. I’m sure I’ll write a blog post at some point on why exactly I opted for a prequel. But not today.

Promises also has a brand new cover. I’m not sure if I’m supposed to share that publicly yet or not. But you can see it early by joining my Facebook group.

The audio version of the book will also be remade, this time with John Solo narrating!

Stop talking and give me the goods!

Oh yeah. There’s a new blurb too. 🙂 Here it is. Scroll to the bottom for the buy link.

***

Can a man who loves his small hometown trust it to love him back?

Jared Thomas has lived in the mountain town of Coda, Colorado, his whole life. He can’t imagine living anywhere else. But Jared’s opportunities are limited—the only other gay man in town is twice his age, and although Jared originally planned to be a teacher, the backlash that might accompany the gig keeps him working at his family’s store instead.

Then Matt Richards moves to town.

Matt may not be into guys, but he doesn’t care that Jared is. A summer camping and mountain biking together cements their friendship, but when Matt realizes he’s attracted to Jared, he panics and withdraws, leaving Jared all too aware of what he’s missing.

Facing Matt’s affair with a local woman, his disapproving family, and harassment from Matt’s coworkers, Jared fears they’ll never find a way to be together. But for the first time, he has the courage to try… if he can only convince Matt.

Includes the Coda series prequel novella, Meant to Be

Jared has simple goals for his freshman year of college: make friends, lose his virginity, come out, and maybe fall in love. He doesn’t anticipate getting caught between his friend Bryan and Bryan’s flamboyant ex. Through the awkwardness, Jared learns love doesn’t always mean sex and the most meaningful connections might have nothing to do with romance.

Promises will be released on May 14 by Dreamspinner Press. ORDER IT HERE