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Common birds saga. Part One. The early days of nests.

Common birds saga. Part One:

The Birds. How I became their beloved.

The Common Birds Saga began long ago, when I first moved into my house. No birds lived and bred in the rafters of the carport though evidence suggested previous owners had discouraged settlement. Screening material blocked access to safe recesses. Misshapen and misfitted boards formed a haphazard barrier to nesting spots deep behind sideboards.

One day a bird flew in. “How cute.”

The bird, a common bird, a little sparrow all alone, perched on a beam and watched me standing in the side doorway that opened to the carport. There we were on opposite walls, peering over my Ford Focus. It occurred to me that we were doing exactly the same thing. The bird watching me, I watching the bird. She’d tilt her head, I’d tilt mine. I’d lift my arm, she’d raise her wing. We became pals.

She built a beautiful nest (I’m guessing about that) and laid her eggs. Soon the little ones were chirping for food and she’d fly in and and out, in and out from dawn till dusk. The cycle continued for years. Some nests were tidier than others, I could tell by the debris hanging or falling from above. I often wondered if the nest-builder was the same mama bird with whom I had so sweetly bonded.

Only a few times did I find a newborn nestling, fallen or pushed off the cliff. I’d try to leave the body where it landed and let nature (aka: the neighbor’s cat) take its course, but the idea of that poor mother bird seeing her baby on the pavement became too sad for me to endure for long. I’d scoop the body into a dustpan and hide it under the leaves of a daylily plant, out of mom’s sight, but not out of reach for the neighbor’s cat.

Beloved of the birds. A legend is born.

One day a distress cry shattered the quiet of my suburban neighborhood. At first I dismissed it, having learned enough bird language to distinguish between hungry kids; or squawks warning of cats, predator birds, or me. The cry was too persistent to ignore. I peeked outside and didn’t see any obvious threat. Yet the bird still wailed.

I found the location, but with the distance and the darkness of the high corner, I couldn’t see what was the cause of this bird’s alarm. I thought I saw slight movement, I squinted. Didn’t help. So I grabbed a flashlight and my eyeglasses and inched closer.

“Oh my gosh! Poor little bird.” How I became their beloved.

A large splinter of wood above the nest’s entry had slipped down and onto the mother bird’s neck, its little head poking out from the crack as if locked in a medieval pillory, or worse—a guillotine. The bird is trapped. I must do something. The bird wiggled and snapped its head, eyes wide as I approached. You can imagine the fear and panic of not understanding what danger might happen next—and the bird was freaking out, too.

I grabbed a long snow scrapper with a brush at one end. As I closed in, I comforted the creature, speaking in a quiet, soft voice. “Don’t be scared. I’ll save you. Be calm. It’s almost over.”

I wedged the snow brush underneath the loose splinter and eased it up. “Be free.” The bird flew away faster than an F-15.

For days, the bird flock spoke of me (tweeted about me)—Protector. Hero. Champion. “I am legend.”

That one family had been enjoyable to observe, the common birds enhanced this author’s life. But those joyous years of nest building, daring flight patterns, and bird songs were about to take a dark turn.

Common Birds Saga, Part Two will be posted sometime in the future.

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Full-length fiction with plenty of dark turns and nothing at all to do with this common birds saga: Asylum, a dark suspense saga.  Winner of IPNE Book Awards 2016 for Best Mystery.

Or see our Asylum page at DreamWatch Press for more buy links, reviews and endorsements, sample chapters, and more.

Thriller subplot idea. Downed bug or insect spy drone?

Unexpected fly-in lands a thriller idea in the driveway.

Thriller idea — There I was, minding my own business, when my sister and brother-in-law (secondary characters in my next book) pulled into the driveway to drop off a book (what else?). When I glanced down, something odd caught my eye. I bent to look closer. Couldn’t believe what I was seeing. A bug. Big. About three inches. Unlike any I’d ever seen. Its design—shape and coloring—made me think of a military transport plane.

My appreciation for visually compelling flora and fauna comes straight from my dad. Once when he was mowing the lawn, he spotted the most beautiful little snake that had ever crossed his path, and that would be sixty years of snake sightings. Unfortunately, he couldn’t react fast enough to stop the machine from running over the slithering beauty, a moment that haunted him with guilt, sorrow, and regret for the rest of his days. Twenty years passed and he never forgot that beautiful little guy.

Visual acuity serving the public for generations.

My entire family and I have a gift for keen visual observation. My sister used her talent to analyze crime statistics and connect criminal dots for a local police department. My brother’s skill served America in the U.S. Navy searching for Soviet subs during the Cold War. My daughter gained a reputation in fingerprint recognition for state police in their crime scene investigation unit, and my grandson aced his first Where’s Waldo? book.

A thriller idea at every turn.

I write fiction and compulsively edit and proofread, easily spotting that extra word space, unassigned font, or unintentional italicized word—not so much for public benefit, but hey, I’m the black-sheep-outlier, which by-the-way makes my novels intriguing with unexpected twists. My family sticks to facts. I prefer stretching facts, embellishing facts and making them more interesting. I don’t mind if imagination overrides.

Camouflage bug? Moth? Insect spy drone?So I’m looking at this bug and am relieved that it clings to life, though not moving fast. I run in for my camera. Now, my sister wants to get on her way and is getting more annoyed. She takes a quick look to humor me and drives away.

I dash inside my house, stash the book, and grab a camera with a telephoto lens. I don’t want my face getting too close to this thing in case it explodes.

Tiptoeing closer, I see the bug hasn’t moved, much.

Moth? Camouflage bug? Insect spy drone?

Hours pass and I’m still thinking about this bug. (My dad would be proud.) Is it stuck on its back? Should I flip it over? Place it on the grass? In the shade? Feed it a leaf? Take it to the vet? Will birds devour the poor, helpless thing?

  • I fantasize a noted entomologist will see this rare new species and name it after me.
  • Or a military intelligence service will send a unit to retrieve their experimental spy drone, obviously the victim of a bird collision. (A thriller idea)
  • Or I’m spending far too much time on this because Camo Moth is not so rare after all.

After a bit of Google searching, I learned the facts (my sister would be proud) about this insect thanks to BugGuide.net. It might be a Sphinx Moth: Eumorpha Pandorus or Pandora Sphinx. I like those names—Pandora and Sphinx—they conjure ancient, exotic, and mysterious images and ideas.

Woe is me.

I take my licks and reluctantly concede that Jacob Hübner, noted German entomologist beat me to it when around 1806 he identified this creature as Daphnis pandorus (so says Wikipedia).

A new dilemma. Pandora Sphinx or Spy Drone?

Now I’m torn, so I might use both in future novels. An Insect Spy Drone would fit nicely in my Premonition soon-to-be-series* of psychic thrillers featuring a reluctant psychic, her skeptical FBI brother, and his new boss, a legendary counterterrrorism agent.

But the Pandora Sphinx could work in a new contemporary mystery in which ancient writings are the only clue. Hmmm… I’m leaning toward writing both.

*Premonition of Terror began as a stand-alone thriller, but by the time I wrote the end, it begged for a sequel. And why not a prequel. I’ve recently re-read Premonition (for the zillionth time), sparking one thriller idea after another so we’re likely headed toward a Premonition trilogy.

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Premonition of Terror, a psychic thriller by Kathryn OrzechPremonition of Terror

International threats strike close to home in this psychic thriller. How far would you go to prevent an attack on our homeland if no one believed you?

Premonition of Terror is available in print and e-book where books are sold. Details, reviews, and Buy links on this site at DreamWatch Press.

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Finding my way in a high-tech world.

Finding my way post originally published July 13, 2017. The content remains sound. 

Finding my way — Writing a first blog post can be intimidating. I’ll begin with gratitude to you—readers, writers, visitors, curiosity seekers, or lost in virtuality after clicking the wrong Google link. Perhaps fate brought you here. Welcome!

Lost in a high-tech world, but finding my way.

This new site’s been live for a month and I’m still putting meat on the bones. (By the end of this post you’ll know why food is on my mind.) I’ve been finding my way around WordPress, themes, plugins, and widgets. My typical day is uneventful, often more tech-geeky than I ever imagined. A month ago I didn’t know what a widget was, but I’m finding my way. Tonight I installed a link-checker plugin and I’ll soon add an email signup.

Today was a typical day in an author’s life—nothing to write home about—yet here I am. 

  • I began the day watering my four houseplants when I wondered which of us was older, probably me, but the Christmas cactus was a close second. Hey, wait a minute. The antique lamp is definitely older, but the rocks and fossils take the prize for being millions of years old. Phew! I feel younger already!
  • I had one brilliant idea that will manifest in mid-August, and that led me to thinking about the banner on my YouTube channel.

I assessed my pantry supplies.

No milk. No eggs. No orange juice. No Arizona Green Tea. No food. Only frozen hot dogs and stale bread. I should have gone to the market, but nooo … I re-sized the banner for my YouTube channel (it’s true, I got that far), packed and shipped Asylum to a book blogger, decisions I will regret in the morning when my stomach pangs for food. Fortunately, one English muffin remains edible and there’s plenty of coffee, so I’ll be okay. I’ll try to get to the market early morning, before the heat gets me. I’d better start on my grocery list. Over and out.

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Best Memories Made of Simple Things

We welcome our special guest blogger, Dan Blanchard, award-winning author, speaker, and educator who has appeared on over 100 television and radio shows. Dan offers a father’s perspective to last week’s Father’s Day post, a daughter’s tribute: My Dad. My Hero. My North Star.  Both posts illustrate the best of good parenting with personal examples of simple things remembered.

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The Simple Things in Life are the Best Things in Life!

Enjoying simple things — Several summers ago my daughter and I were swimming in our pool. This day had been like most others, so I had no way of knowing that this one would go down in our family history as a memory we still talk about from time to time.

The sun was setting and the night was quickly approaching. From the shallow end of our pool, my daughter noticed it first. Right about eye level, building its life connections to the bottom of the freshly painted blue fence that surrounded our pool, was a spider spinning her web. It surprised me that my daughter wasn’t grossed out.

“We lost track of time simply having fun.”

Instead, she delightfully watched as the spider busied herself in the cycle of life. As we both gazed at this wonder of nature, a very simple thought hit me.

“I had lost track of time. I didn’t know how long we had been standing together staring at that spider building her web. We were simply having fun and we hadn’t really done anything special.”

Parent-child timeWe hadn’t saved the world or bought something expensive. We hadn’t even traveled on some big airplane to some exotic land. However, I believe we were both just as fulfilled as if we had done these things.

What we had done was to spend time together and appreciate the simple things in life. We laughed and talked about the circle of life, and what it means to die and what it means to really live. We talked about how precious our limited amount of time is on this planet and how we should pause to enjoy the simple things in life like the flight of a bird. And we talked about the importance of leading rather than following.

Lessons learned: 

  • the circle of life and death, and what it means to really live
  • our limited time on this beautiful planet is precious
  • pause to enjoy the simple things
  • the importance of leading the way to a better life
  • where, when, and how much it costs matters less than simply being together

Now let’s all get out and learn how to create memories with our children. Let’s teach them to lead, and lay the way to a better life in this great big world of ours! Finally, remember that the simple things are the best things in life, even our kids think so.

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Our thanks to Dan Blanchard for adding a father’s perspective to a daughter’s tribute in last week’s post: My Dad. My Hero. My North Star.

About Dan Blanchard

The Storm: How Young Men Become Good Men by Dan BlanchardDan Blanchard is an award-winning author, speaker, and educator who has appeared on over 100 television and radio shows. Check out Dan’s new book, The Storm:

The Storm: How Young Men Become Good Men 

An angry, struggling teen is changed when his estranged and mysterious Granddaddy appears and reveals his life as a former WWII fighter-pilot, his past, his famous friends, and how he escaped a meaningless life.

More about Dan on his website and blog at: http://www.GranddaddysSecrets.com

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My dad. My hero. My North Star.

My dad. My hero. My North Star.

My dad taught me to stand up for myself—and others. “But Dad, must we practice on concrete?”

My dad’s spirit lives in moral principles.

My dad’s spirit lives in my moral principles and my work ethic. If my dad thought the scoldings and lectures made the strongest impact, they did not. Hah! Those blew over with a fraction of the intended content reaching my brain. It was his actions that I observed and that I recall, even decades later.

My dad was a single father of three. 

I was five, my sister eighteen months younger, and my brother only six months old when our mom died. She dropped to the floor one morning with no warning, while he prepared to leave for work. She was gone at age twenty-eight. So I learned everything about life from my dad.

A night at the neighborhood tavern with my dad.

One evening when I was eight, nine or ten, my dad took us kids to the neighborhood bar. Yes, it’s true. He was a young widower in his thirties, had worked all day at the machine shop, commuted a half hour home, and fed us dinner. He never missed an evening dinner with his kids. He must have simply wanted a cold beer and adult conversation. We walked a block to the neighborhood tavern.

Too young to legally sit at the bar, we kids settled into one of several “Booths for Ladies” lined against the wall with our bottles of Coca-Cola and a couple of five-cent bags of State Line potato chips. What an exciting adventure this was turning out to be! At some point my dad joined us in the booth, and while we sipped from our straws and talked about our day, a few guys in the next booth loudly spouted foul words that made my dad cringe.

He said nothing to us kids as he slowly rose from the bench, turned toward the rowdies, and calmly and politely said, “Hey fellas, would you watch your language? I got my kids with me.” All the guys nodded, looking a bit ashamed and embarrassed, as if they knew exactly what they did wrong, what was expected, and why. (I knew that feeling, had been there many times.) 

Lessons learned: 

  • how good people resolved disputes
  • how I should expect to be treated
  • how men should behave
  • that I could say to a man or woman behaving badly “this won’t stand”
  • don’t curse in front of dad

A hero is born—or was he home all along disguised as my dad?

That night my dad was my defender, my hero. Bold and brave. I was never so proud or saw him in the same light as I did that night. I felt safer and more secure. And this incident at the neighborhood bar wasn’t the only time I saw him stand up for his kids—even when he was outnumbered four-to-one.

I’d lost my mom, but this guy wasn’t going anywhere.

Decades later, lesson learned and manifested in today’s works.

Asylum, book front cover #suspense #thriller #mustreadA father-daughter subplot in Asylum exemplifies my respect for my dad, and many of his characteristics are imbued in the patriarchal character of Antonio Delito and how he relates to his daughter, Maggie.

To this day, decades later, I do not use vulgar language—I don’t say it. I won’t write it. I can tell a story that will make a reader squirm without it. There’s nothing in my books I’d be embarrassed or ashamed to read to my dad—if he were here.

Asylum’s dedication reads:

To my widowed father,
a principled man, who without complaint,
shouldered a heavy burden
with dignity and forbearance.
I was his sunshine.
He was my North Star.

Coming Next Week: Special Guest, Dan Blanchard writes: Simple Things are the Best Things.

Next week’s blog post will continue to honor dads, when we present a father’s perspective by our friend, award-winning author, speaker, and educator, Dan Blanchard.

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Cover Reveal: Makeover for International Psychic Thriller

I confess. I resisted for five years, now, finally …

Premonition of Terror gets the love it deserves.

Before and After Makeover Cover Reveal.

Cover Reveal: Before and After Premonition Makeover

Cover Reveal: BEFORE (2013) on Left.  •  AFTER (2018) on Right.

“It was a rush to hold it in my hands.”

I loved this first cover, maybe because Premonition was my first published (though not first written) and it was a rush to hold it in my hands. I especially loved the shot of the Charles Bridge in Prague, Czech Republic, photographed by Frank Chmura. His website’s Travel Gallery is stunning.

A swirly, circular blur effect in Photoshop expresses the otherworldly mood I wanted, and I shifted the blue tones of the original shot (below) to purple, and made other size and shape adjustments.

Charles Bridge, Prague, Czech Republic

Charles Bridge, Prague, Czech Republic. Photo by Frank Chmura.

I must have read a thousand tips, dos & don’ts, and cover critiques by Joel Friedlander of TheBookDesigner.com. With a graphics background and inspired by the perfect image, I felt confident I could produce a cover, took a chance, risked receiving the brutal truth, and I entered the monthly e-Book Cover Design Awards competition. It’s free. Nothing to lose.

E-book Cover Design Award, TheBookDesigner.comImagine my surprise.

E-Book Cover Design Gold Star, May 2013, awarded to Premonition of Terror.

Now I wondered if I should I quit this writing gig and stay with graphic design.

Years passed and now and then other authors and friends would artfully criticize the cover design. I listened, considered all comments, but resisted. After all, if Joel Friedlander approved, who was I to disagree.

Unfortunate coincidence or authentic premonition?

Those who know me or have read the book know why Premonition of Terror never got the love it deserved. With limited distribution and no promotion, it merely existed. To avoid spoilers, I’ll simply say its release date was an unfortunate coincidence to a real life catastrophe—or it was an authentic premonition.

I knew the book deserved better. Especially after reading it again. Five years later it remains a fast-paced, thrilling read with characters you can relate to and care about. I missed them, I envied them, and I feel a pull to write a prequel and sequel to fill out a Premonition Trilogy—or more.

I resisted change until I realized, what worked five years ago, well, maybe needed a fresh look.

So with a few interior tweaks, proofreading in which I am confident (thank you Nancy Breininger), updated front and back matter, and a new cover that tells more story with a human connection, even if you can’t be sure if he’s walking away or coming toward you—even if you can’t know if he’s the danger you’ve been warned about in your dreams.

Premonition of Terror, a psychic thriller by Kathryn OrzechCover Reveal: Premonition of Terror.

I can live with this cover, at least for a while. I look forward to learning how readers react at upcoming signing events—the only vote that matters.

About Premonition.

International threats strike close to home in this psychic thriller when premonitions from around the predict the same catastrophic attack. How far would you go to stop it if no one believed you?

Available in print and e-book where book are sold. Book details and Buy Links on this site at DreamWatch Press.

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Welcome to Writings on the Wall blog

Writings on the Wall

Writings on the Wall. Welcome to my new blog. Catchy name, huh? It only took two years to think of it.

Writings on the Wall offers a peek into the life of a thriller author—this author—with personal blog posts and photos and whatever captured my interest to distract me from writing. I’m working on several book projects so posts might be brief, but will include photos and graphics.

Personal and author posts will no longer mix with supernatural stories on the DreamWatch Paranormal Blog. Though, fair warning—my paranormal experiences might show up here, there, anywhere—same as in real life.

Coming soon to Writings on the Wall blog.

Camouflage bug? Moth? Insect spy drone?

A bug spotted in the driveway made me wonder. Hmmm… Is it a camouflaged moth? Or a downed spy drone disguised as an insect?

Diverse interests. A must in an author’s life.

My interests are ever changing, some are compulsive. Here are a few, as I reveal in my author bio: An avid film fan, seasoned world traveler, news nerd. Other interests include history and geopolitics, society and culture, archaeology and psychology, earth science, and parapsychology, leaving few subjects off my literary table—or the subject of a blog post.

Count on it. On this Writings on the Wall blog, you’ll see my favorite rocks, ancient reptiles, a reincarnated plant, and a newly installed multi-pronged defensive perimeter to rid my carport of birds.

Writings off the Wall and on the pages.

Asylum, a dark suspense saga, though published second was my first novel, inspired by a ghost story told at a dinner party mere blocks from the Mark Twain House & Museum.

Online since the 1990s, DreamWatch.com, true paranormal experiences of everyday people, was the inspiration for Premonition of Terror. A prequel and sequel are planned.

Counting Souls, a contemporary mystery, is my work-in-progress, though progress goes slow. It’s inspiration was my sister who wanted to be a character in one of my books.

The Five of Cups will be a short story or novella. Finding this Tarot card on a path in the forest got me to thinking: This must be a sign, but what does it mean?

For more about my books and buy links, visit DreamWatch Press on this site.

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