This is Isabel outside my office window, watching the Bewick’s wren nest.

I originally thought it was a house wren, but the song and behavior has me now convinced that it’s a Bewick’s wren. Apparently they’re easily confused. And, sadly, the house wrens are driving out the Bewick’s wrens, so much so that they’re pretty much gone from the eastern half of the country.

The males go around building several nests in cavities, like inside the cow skull on our front porch, and the female chooses her favorite. Our male worked away to build the nest and sings his heart out. But I’m not convinced he has found a mate, much less that there’s anything going on in that nest.

Isabel, however, is certain there is.

She spends her days watching that nest. With unwavering intensity. She never tires of it. It’s the same method she employs to catch mice or lizards. They hide and she sits and waits. For hours. Until they finally come out and she catches them.

Part of the reason felines sleep so much is because they’re such efficient hunters that they can. Among all predators, cats spend the least amount of time actively hunting. Part of this though, is that persistence. They never forget or lose interest. Isabel’s been watching that nest for two weeks now without much reward. If there ever are chicks, I’ll have to keep her inside, because she won’t rest until she gets them.

Writers talk about persistence all the time. Persistence to finish the book in the first place, to see it through the tough spots, in the face of ongoing rejection, to write the next book even as everyone apparently hates the one you’re trying to shop. People throw around phrases like “thick skin” and “hanging on to your dream” and “never give up,” which all sounds so grueling.

I wonder if it shouldn’t be more like a cat hunting. Work on it every day, never lose interest, always check the nest. For Isabel, watching the nest is just as fun as finding something in it.

For her, it’s not grueling. It’s just what she does.

House Woman

No, I didn’t take that picture. I wish!

I pulled it from here and I’m hoping no one will mind. Once I snap a picture of our own little house wren, I’ll swap it out.

He or she – apparently the males and females look much the same – has been busily building a nest inside the cow skull hanging outside our front door. She goes in the top, (we’ll just decide it’s a she), through the cannula where the spinal cord would exit and has stuff the brain cavity with hair, grass and bits of floss pulled from the seams of the patio chair cushions.

Pretty styling actually.

At first I thought this was a bad idea. Disaster waiting to happen. But it turns out she knows what she’s doing. House wrens will steal other birds’ nests. She’s tiny, but she’s aggressive. She doesn’t mind us coming and going and she tells Isabel off if she gets too close.

I like a bird who takes care of herself.

I finished and sent in my line edits for Petals and Thorns last night. That was the third and final editing pass. Publication date is July 13, if I haven’t mentioned. When we first discussed the editing process, I made a joke to my Loose Id editor that it was amusing to me to contemplate editing on a BDSM novella. Like, would the hero’s motivation be to tie her hands with rope at this point or would he use cuffs?

I thought it was funny.

But no. She didn’t even bite. So I mentioned it to Allison, who didn’t get why I thought it was funny, either. Now I know why. That’s exactly what the editing process was like. Was it one breast or both, which means it should be plural. If he’s busy with the one hand then he’s only holding one shoulder so he can’t release her shoulders. I swear – even UNM Press and Redbook didn’t line edit this exhaustively.

Or maybe that’s the beauty of getting galley proofs instead of a document marked with track changes. I miss my blissful ignorance.

Amusingly, many of the commas my content editor inserted, the copy editor removed. Comma placement comes down to a matter of opinion most of the time. Some people have very strong opinions on the topic. Me? Not so much.

At any rate, there I am, working my little tasks while the wren works outside my window. Bit by bit, adding to our creations.

Maybe I’m styling, too.