Cindy Koepp

Writing on the Edge

The Bird's Word

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We've Been Moved

Posted by Cindy on April 30, 2014 at 12:15 AM Comments comments (0)

Hello everybody!


My human decided to put the blog on a site where I can get an even bigger audience!  Won't that be fabulous?  I plan to leave all the old blog posts here, but if you want to keep up with my new words of wisdom, go HERE.


See you over there!

Altered: The Bio, Blurb, and Links

Posted by Cindy on April 23, 2014 at 10:10 PM Comments comments (0)


This is the last of the three pieces of the spotlight on Dianne Gardner's Altered. Today, my human wants to tell you about the writer and give you some links of where to find the book. On Friday, I'll be returning to my usual dispensing of avian wisdom for humans.  Now, excuse me while I go splash in my water bowl.


What's This Book About, Anyway?

The Privatol invades American soil, and crops propel the engine. Uncontrollable tyranny has succeeded in dictating where people live, what they do, and what they eat. When Abree, a spunky twelve-year-old is taken away to learn the process of modifying seed to Newly Constructed Food she discovers an evil plan that could alter the fate of the human race, and a way out if only she can escape to tell the others.


Who's Dianne Gardner?

Dianne Gardner, an award winning author, is also an illustrator living in the Pacific Northwest, USA. She's an active member of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators, and the National League of American Pen Women. Her Ian’s Realm series is published by PDMI Publishing LLC along with four short stories in the "A Tale of the Four Wizards" series. Her most recent book, Altered, has been published by Master Koda Publishing. She writes for middle grade and young adults targeting boys and adventure loving girls, and the young at heart.


Where Can You Find Dianne Gardner on the Web?

 

You can see more of Dianne’s work on her website.

Facebook

 

Twitter

 

Blog

 

Amazon


Migration

My favorite human has found a way for my blog to make even more friends and help even more of you humans with avian advice. We might be migrating to a new site, but don't worry.  I'll leave you enough breadcrumbs to follow.

Humans and Their Holidays

Posted by Cindy on April 20, 2014 at 2:55 PM Comments comments (1)


You humans are strange creatures for many reasons. Here's one for you. You throw weird parties on certain days.  There are ones fixed to your calendars like July Fourth, Halloween, and Christmas. Then you have ones that stay in the same relative position even when the actual date changes like Thanksgiving and Memorial Day. You get some totally weird ones like Resurrection Day / Easter, which never seems to be in the same place twice. (My human tells me there is an actual pattern having to do with moon phases and the spring equinox, but I don't see the pattern, personally.) There are also the ones that vary for each human like your hatch days.


For each of these holidays, you do different things. Sometimes you give gifts to each other (and me! That's nice). Sometimes you dress up funny. Sometimes you blow stuff up to make a mess with paper, cardboard, sparkly lights, and noise. Then there's the food.  You usually have way more food than a whole horde of humans could eat in one sitting.


I have been studying you humans for a long time. (I won't tell you exactly how long because my age is my business, thank you.) I don't understand what makes these days different from the others.  The sun wakes up at its expected time. It spins throughout the day as it usually does.  Then it goes to sleep when it should.

 

 

 


We birds do not have such events. We take time each day to enjoy the day in our own happy ways. I personally enjoy whistling, shredding paper, and ringing my bell, but that's me. Some birds share some or all of my hobbies, but there are others who do different things.  Here's a bird who likes to dance:


Dancing Cockatoo


I'm not going to say that humans have it wrong. Your days are yours to do with as you want. If you want to have these holidays at times that may be random or scheduled, go right ahead.


Here, maybe one of your fellow humans said it best:


[Rom 14:4-6 NLT] 4 Who are you to condemn someone else's servants? Their own master will judge whether they stand or fall. And with the Lord's help, they will stand and receive his approval. 5 In the same way, some think one day is more holy than another day, while others think every day is alike. You should each be fully convinced that whichever day you choose is acceptable. 6 Those who worship the Lord on a special day do it to honor him. Those who eat any kind of food do so to honor the Lord, since they give thanks to God before eating. And those who refuse to eat certain foods also want to please the Lord and give thanks to God.

 

 


For next Wednesday, Part 3 of the spotlight on Dianne Gardner's Altered.


Altered: The Excerpt

Posted by Cindy on April 18, 2014 at 9:25 PM Comments comments (2)


Hel-loooo!  This is the second of 3 in the series spotlighting Dianne Gardner's Altered.  My human volunteered my blog for the tour, and that's fine by me. I needed more time for paper shredding..


I have only read the first few chapters of this book, but so far, it's pretty sparkly! (That's a good thing if you're a bird.) Definitely something to squawk home about. Here, you can read a bit of it for yourself!





There was only one hall, one dark gloomy path, and only one direction to go once Abree stepped out of the cell.  She cringed at the smell, a strong ammonia odor mixed with the mossy fragrance of an underground cave. Though the tunnel was dark Nam’s stark white uniform made it easy for her to see him. His stride was much faster than hers and she found herself panting as she raced to catch up.


Nam opened another cell down the hall. A boy dressed in a jumpsuit like hers stepped out. His wide green eyes rested on her for a moment. He brushed his sandy hair behind his ear and smiled.

“Hi. I’m Jaden.”


“I’m Abree.”


“Get along,” Nam interrupted. “This isn’t social hour. You’ll be testing together.”


“Testing?” Abree asked.


“There’s a regimen we go through whenever they have a new project for us, so as to keep a close eye on our intellectual progress,” Jaden’s language surprised Abree.


“Who are they?”


“Never mind who they is. That’s classified!” Nam barked.


Jaden zippered his lips with a gesture, but gave Abree a nod. She rolled her eyes.


When the three came to a junction, Nam stopped. “You know the process, Lab 042. Inform 067 what she needs to know.” He looked over his shoulder, giving Jaden a stern glare. “And only what she needs to know.”


Jaden nodded. “Yes, sir.”


Nam left them, jogging quickly back the way they had come. Once he was out of sight, Jaden smiled. “Let’s go inside.”


“I hope there aren’t any more freaks like him in this place,” Abree said.


“Nam is a cranky sort, but I assume he’s from a bad seed.” Jaden turned the latch and pushed.


“A bad seed?”


“Sometimes the experiments don’t always work.”


“Experiments? Nam is an experiment?”


“Of sorts,” he looked and grimaced. “So are we. Of sorts.”


Suddenly Abree’s stomach turned sour. The last thing she wanted to be was an experiment. She took a moment to study Jaden’s eyes as he held the door open. She looked for something unnatural in them. Maybe he was a clone or a robot. He acted older than he looked, and he didn’t look much older than twelve. His intelligence seemed advanced: his speech precise. He certainly didn’t act like the kids at school, but maybe that was from living underground.


“They’re keeping us here to experiment on us?” Abree took a cautious step forward, not sure if she wanted to proceed. “What kind of experiments?”


“Shh!” Jaden looked over her shoulder, and then down the dark hall to their right. “They don’t think of it as anything unusual. In fact they’re quite proud of their technology. They want us to feel honored that we’re part of their project. What they do in the lab isn’t much different than what they’re doing outside where you and I came from. Living is just a little more intense down here. They have to make sure their technology works before they use it on the masses. I guess we’re kind of their guinea pigs, so to speak. Don’t tell anyone, but there have been casualties.”


Abree’s mouth dropped.


“Not for a long time, though. I think they’ve corrected all the bugs. At least….” his voice tapered and he gave her a questioning glance.


“At least what?” Abree squinted.


“At least I haven’t heard of anything else going wrong. Come along. Let’s keep moving.” A twinge of fear crept through Abree as she watched Jaden latch the door shut.


“Wait a minute. Are you telling me they’re going to start experimenting on me?”


“Well, they actually already have.”


“And that the Grays are experimenting on people where I live? Like my mom and my brother?”


“It’s been going on for a long time. You see? What they’re doing is perfectly safe. So safe you didn’t even know!”

 

 


Preety good, huh?  You'll have to get the book to read the rest.


Human To Do Lists

Posted by Cindy on April 16, 2014 at 9:25 AM Comments comments (2)


My humans stays very busy. She's up about the same time the sun is and stays up until long after the sun has gone to sleep. That all by itself is a sign of insanity, I'm sure, but she's usually quiet enough that I can take my naps without interruption.


So, what does she do during all that time? She works on her To Do list. I have seen her compiling these lists and there is a bunch of stuff on them. She has classwork to do, which usually amounts to reading books and writing papers in between catching short episodes of Muppets, Red Skelton, Spike Jones, or some other burst of silliness. I like when she's getting into the silly videos. I add my own sound effects to improve the recording.


When all her school work is caught up for the week, she works on writing or editing novels. It's not hard to tell the difference between her editing To Do list and her classwork To Do list. She works for longer bursts on editing or writing. Classwork requires more comedy breaks, apparently.


I ask you, though. Where are the important things on her To Do lists?  Sure, there's classwork, editing, writing, squirrel-herding, and clothes-wrangling, but where are the critical things like preening, whistling, and paper shredding?  Surely you humans understand the real value of such things. I never see them on her To Do lists, but she appears to have her feathers in good order, so she must be taking time to preen when she's not in my room keeping me company. I have noticed that she joins me for whistling, so it's a good thing I'm here to remind her. As for the paper shredding, I only see her doing that once a year or so.  She might have more fun if she spread the paper shredding out, but different winds for different birds, y'know?


Perhaps those things are so important she doesn't bother putting them on her To Do list. They're givens in her day, like eating dinner and going to bed sometime before the sun gets up.


Well, it's been fun chatting with you, but I have paper that needs shredding. Just remember that when you make your own To Do lists, be sure you include the important things like preening, paper shredding, and whistling. If you take care of the important stuff in your day, the rest of your tasks should fall into place.

Altered: The Story Behind the Story

Posted by Cindy on April 13, 2014 at 9:55 PM Comments comments (3)


My human volunteered my blog to host a writer she works with. I don't think this book has a parrot for a character, but it sounds like an interesting story.  Here, see what the writer has to say about it.




Thank you Masika for having me as a guest blogger! And thank you for asking this important question for one of the first stops on my blog tour!

 

Where the story idea came from?

 

As some of my readers and friends know, I’m an activist at heart. Having spent almost twenty years living on the border of the Navajo Reservation in Arizona, and taken many excursions up to the Hopi reservation, which included attending some Kachina dances, and secret Kiva ceremonies, which few white people have had the opportunity to participate in, I am extremely concerned about the welfare of our planet and the health of the people on it.

 

I have grown blue corn in dry wash beds, herded sheep in the desert, lived in a mud hut and traveled by wagon. I am a firm believer that if modern man hadn’t dammed the rivers, built fences, polluted the air and poisoned the earth; human beings would still be existing peacefully and in harmony with nature.

 

Altered speaks my heart in this. It is a story about the future, the not so distant future. It’s a story that I see very easily coming into play if cooperate greed and world powers aren’t held at bay. How very easily television and other media already manipulate men, so too is our food being changed into something unrecognizable.

 

Every day I read the news and shudder.

 

Instead of predicting a hopeless dysfunctional world Altered offers a resolution.

 

 


Monster Flower

Posted by Cindy on April 11, 2014 at 2:40 PM Comments comments (0)


Well, today is Photo Friday. I will invite you to make comments about this picture.



My human says that hibiscus grows in her father's back yard. It was about the size of a dinner plate. 


I think the color goes nicely with my gray plumage, don't you?

What Is It?

Posted by Cindy on April 9, 2014 at 9:45 PM Comments comments (0)

Let’s play a game.  I’ll describe a familiar object.  Your job?  Figure out what it is and leave me a note in the comments.  If you are successful, I will whistle in your honor later.  Okay? Here's the object!


This object is devious. It looks totally harmless, but it's not. It tricks intelligent, innocent birds into thinking there's another bird -- a twin in reverse -- in the room. Then when the poor bird tries to interract with the intruder, she smacks her beak on a hard flat surface made of glass.  Horrible thing. Almost as evil as towels and poodles.


Think you have it?  Leave me a note!

Toxic Substances

Posted by Cindy on April 6, 2014 at 4:40 PM Comments comments (0)

There are many things that humans eat that are excellent for birds, too, but humans must have iron stomachs. Some of the things you eat would kill any poor parrot who tried to share.  Let me warn you about the most dangerous ones. I found a pretty good site on safe and unsafe foods. Check it out!


Avocado: Yes, that includes guacamole, too.  Avocados kill birds. They're especially toxic for African parrots like me. My human wisely won't touch the things. As a joke, she calls them "awfulcados."  Personally, I think that's a truer name than the real one.


Grapes: Years ago, a macaw who ate a grape died as a result, but I personally ate grapes, and I'm obviously still here.  So, is it a matter of ancestry? Macaws are from Central and South America, and African Greys are, well, African. That's possible, but my human came across another theory. The concern, I think, is less the actual grape and more the chemicals they're treated with. I'm not sure, personally, but my human knew the lady whose macaw died from a couple grapes. I like grapes, but not so much that I'd want to risk my life for one.


Caffeine: You humans like to ingest brown drinks that fizz and brown drinks that steam and brown food. All this stuff makes you more awake, more hyper. Birds, however, are quite hyper enough. We don't need chocolate or coffee or tea or soda, and in fact, it can be dangerous for us, so you can enjoy those snacks for yourself.


Fizzy stuff: Birds can mimic you mammals when you belch, but we are too sophisticated to actually be able to burp, so there's no way to let all that fizzy stuff out.  Keep that carbonated nonsense to yourself.


Sugary stuff: That's no good for you humans, either, so don't go offering it to some poor bird who thinks it might be good food.


Fake sugar: How could it possibly be good for us birds? Some of your fake sugars cause seizures in normal humans.  Some started off as a bug poison. You humans eat bug poison?  Gross! Less chemistry, more food.


Fatty foods: That's no good for birds or for humans, but in this case, maybe little amounts would be okay. Just don't overdo it. Some types of birds, like pionuses, have problems with keeping their trim physique in captivity, so for those sorts in particular, less fat is a good thing.


Alcohol: No, we do not become more interesting when drunk. We become dead.  Remember, we're very tiny relative to you humans. We reach toxic levels much faster than you do.


Dairy stuff: Whether its made from cow or goat or some other mammal, we do not have the digestive capacity to break that stuff down, so keep it for your other livestock. We might meow like a cat for fun, but we don't need milk.


Onions: Onions contain a substance that causes red blood cells to fail to do their jobs. We're small. We don't have many to start with.  Cooking the onion only makes it slightly safer. Incidentally, onions and other livestock like dogs?  Also not a good combination.


Apple seeds: We love seeds as a rule, but apple seeds contain cyanide or arsenic or something icky like that. So, if you're giving us apples to chow on, core those things first.


There are other non-foods, but those are the big ones.


Now, I know what's going to happen.  Someone is going to make some comment about how much his uncle's cousin's friend served his parrot an awfulcado, and she lived. Yes, sometimes we all eat stuff we shouldn't but it's still not a good idea. You should check with your veterinarian if you're not sure, but in the meantime, remember my advice when you go grocery shopping for your bird.

Writing Process Blog Hop

Posted by Cindy on April 4, 2014 at 10:30 AM Comments comments (0)



Celesta Thiessen tagged my human in a blog hop. That’s fine. I don’t mind giving up on my advisory role so my human can chirp. She’s a little shy about chirping about herself, so I’ll do it for her.


What Is She Working On?

She is one busy human, even if your question is just about her current writing projects. She has five novels under contract with three different publishers in various stages of development. Two of them contain characters that are avian, which is a good choice on her part. I’m not real sure where they are in the editor’s processes, so I can’t say much about their timelines.


One of them, however, is called The Condemned Courier. This was once a serial published by JukePop Serials, but after that adventure ended, PDMI offered a contract on it. My human is now involved in expanding the story, which had the attention span of a finch, into a novel. Very wisely, PDMI wants her to expand the information about the avian race. Brilliant leadership there! Truly! So, that’s one project my human is working on.


Another project is a collaboration with fellow writer Travis Perry on his idea Bond of the Sword. This one involves no birds, which is very sad. No, dragons do not count as birds, even if they fly. This one follows a man’s attempt to recount how a boy learns about the important things in life. That one’s on standby for her while Travis hashes out a couple chapters and my human gets caught up on her editing obligations.


She also has a couple other tales. One, The Loudest Actions, which is the sequel to Remnant in the Stars, is on hold, too. She said she needs a break from it before she goes back to editing it.


The last is the one I wish she’d get to. Why? I’m in it! Okay, so the bird’s name is Ahva, not Masika, but it’s me! It’s really me! Ahva and her boy help a dog *shudder* and his master figuring out where giggly, murdering crazies are coming from. So, she needs to hurry up and get to that one. It’s important!


How Does Her Work Differ from Others?

I don’t know. I don’t read much. If I can’t see it clearly from my apartment, there’s no chance I’ll read it.


I can tell you that her work often involves characters with some sort of disability – mental or physical – to overcome. Sometimes it’s the character’s disability that gives them the exact tool they need to solve the plot’s problem. Her stories are pretty convoluted, too. There are a lot of things happening, even with the “minor characters.”


Why Does She Write That?

I have a hard time understanding you humans as it is. You do so many weird things, but I do know that my human writes the stories she does because she often draws elements of the plot from her own life. When I think about some of the plots, I get a little chilly and have to fluff out all my feathers, but I don't think many of those parts come from her life ... at least I hope not. I also know that she gets really grouchy when she doesn't get to write for a while, so, she must get some satisfaction or joy from writing.


How Does Her Writing Process Work?

Now this one I know, because I see her doing it all the time. She comes up with ideas, often little more than a scene or two with a couple characters, then plays with the idea mentally. You’re wondering how I know that, right? No, parrots do not read minds, but sometimes I see her having a silent conversation with someone who isn’t there, so either humans are invisible, or she’s talking to the characters or for the characters or something like that.


Then, she writes down all the weird ideas in a notebook or on a computer file and starts developing the social, political, and cultural background of the world; all the character details and the histories of at least the major ones; maps; and then a scene-by-scene description of the plot.


What happens next depends on the projects she has going. She’ll either fly right into the story and start going on the first scene or it’ll sit neglected (like the story with ME in it) until she has time to get to it.


When she does get time for it, she writes the story up, edits it a couple times herself, gets some friends to look at it, edits it some more, and then it’s done for now, and she tries to find a publisher for it.


Well, that’s all the questions. I don’t know any other writers, and my human is very busy right now. When I asked, she gave me a link for this blog for Aaron DeMott.


So, if you’re a writer and you want to participate in this blog hop, here are the questions.

1) What am I working on?

2) How does my work differ from others of its genre?

3) Why do I write what I do?

4) How does your writing process work?


On Sunday, I'll get back to my usual observations and advice-dispensing roles. Okay?

 

 


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