November 12, 2021
As long as I can remember, I’ve loved wrens: House Wrens (pictured here in Don Whitlatch’s masterpiece), Carolina Wrens, Sedge Wrens, and Winter Wrens, to name a few here in North America.
In Appalachia, I regularly see Carolina and House Wrens. It isn’t uncommon to find them nesting in outdoor hanging plants or hunting for spiders and other small insects in the cracks of deck planks. My favorite time to watch them is during their morning singing tour of my yard. One perches on a rhododendron limb and unleashes a brazen song, uncaring whether it’s early or not, then it zips to an azalea branch, or up to the tulip poplar, continuing to belt out its unrestrained melody.
Though not as frequently as Tit Mouses, Cardinals, and Chickadees, these pint-size birds descend on the feeders, and boy oh boy, they are fussy, picking through the seeds until they find something to suit their appetite.
Wrens are about as fussy with seeds as I am with words, forever searching for just the right one.
When it comes to nesting, wrens both fascinate me and break my heart. First, the heartbreak. They puncture the eggs of other wrens nesting in their territory. I should have known that these brassy birds have a wicked streak when protecting resources for their offspring. Among their many endearing qualities, though, is that Carolina Wrens pair for life, and they hatch about 2 broods each year.
Speaking of hatching...
This Wrenn (the Ana K. Wrenn variety) won’t be hatching that many per year, but I’m thrilled at the one that’s coming in 2022.
Like a fledgling, the latest version of my debut novel has temporarily left the nest, but it will be back. It’s gone to be the bird in the hand, so to speak, of an amazing copy editor.
First, though, my little chickie had to make it through the Winter. Lee Winter, that is.
The author of delicious crime novels, Lee Winter, lent her expertise and talent as content editor for my upcoming release, my precious hatchling, Strange Attractors. I can tell you, Lee’s as skilled at editing as she is at creating wonderfully complex characters and plots (my favorite being Requiem).
Because of Winter (the Lee kind), my hatchling has grown stronger and leaner, and I’m excited to say that it’s nearing time to release it into the wider, wilder world.
Of course, there’s more to do before that.
Last month, I began the process of working with the magnificent people at Ylva Publishing on designing the book cover. Now that I think about it, I find a curious comparison: the female wren’s mate builds several nests, giving her options. Then, she picks one and adds finishing touches. Similarly, Ylva’s design team “builds” mock-ups of my novel’s cover, and I’ll have a part in the choosing the final one. How delightfully wren of them. How delightfully lovely.
Wrens are curious, inquisitive, and dutiful when it comes to hatching their eggs. This Wrenn plans to do the same when it comes to caring for my hatchling, Strange Attractors.
Want to learn more about wrens, check out the Audubon.