Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Birding Seed For Novel Idea

"When you have seen one ant, one bird, one tree, you have not seen them all." E. O. Wilson

It's estimated only one-fifth of U.S. citizens engage in the interesting and beneficial (both economical and environmentally) pursuit. Still that's a lot of people for an avocation once regarded as the domain of spinsters and eccentric old men.

Birding has been around since the late 18th century (see Gilbert White and others) and the term bird watching was first used in 1891.

I admit I'm not a list keeper or as dedicated/erudite as some. A nephew of Roger Tory Peterson was my biology teacher in high school and he inspired me to an early interest in this and all things nature. I've continued to enjoy observing, seeing and hearing birds. I've read my Peterson, White, Teale, Sibley and others.

Among my favorites (though not in order and not divulging reasons) are the cardinal, flicker, ruffed grouse, whip-poor-will and crow.

My interest in this avocation was the seed idea for Shares The Darkness, seventh in my Sticks Hetrick crime series, to be published Sept. 16 by Torrid Books, a subsidiary of Whiskey Creek Press/Start Publishing. My character Officer Flora Vastine insisted on playing the lead this time, and I allowed her to have her way. I'm rather pleased with the results.

Here's the blurb for the book:

Jan Kepler and Swatara Creek Police Officer Flora Vastine were neighbors and schoolmates, but never close.
When Jan, a school teacher, avid birder and niece of a fellow officer, goes missing and is found dead in a nearby tract of woods Flora finds herself thrust into the middle of an examination of the other woman's life, as she searches for clues.
As usual, the police have more than one crime to deal with. There’s illegal timbering and a series of vehicle thefts taking up their time. And there are other issues to deal with. Flora is concerned there’s some shakiness in her relationship with Cpl. Harry Minnich who seems to be making a lot of secretive phone calls.
Still Flora maintains focus on the murder. Despite evidence implicating other suspects, the odd behavior of another former classmate rouses Flora’s suspicion. Flora’s probing opens personal wounds as she observes the cost of obsessive love and tracks down the killer.
Sales outlets:
And major book sellers everywhere.


  1. I love when an author uses his or her own experiences and/or interests in a novel because I think it adds so much to the plot.
    Great title, J.R. I can't wait to read the book!

  2. Thanks, Pat. Your latest is on my over-long TBR list. Hope to get to it sooner rather than later.

  3. I like it! MY TBR list will outlive me but I keep adding to it. I guess I can leave it to a lucky friend or relative in my will.

    We do use our hobbies and passions in our work. It was my love of book groups that led to my current series.

  4. I know exactly what you mean. No more books until I finish these. Oh, this looks good. The list expands--again.

  5. Can;t wait for this to hit the "shelves"! Another good one, John.

  6. John, the book sounds great. As a resident of Cape May County, NJ, I see my fair share of birds and birders. We have two feeders right outside the kitchen window and we love to watch the birds, as do our cats. My personal favorite is the chickadee. So cool that your interest in birding led to your novel!

  7. Thanks for commenting, Amy. There are so many wondrous things in life (and so many we take for granted) I can't understand those people who claim to be bored so often. They need to open their eyes and pay attention--like the cats.