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"Baby Birds" Comes to Roost

Thursday, April 21, 2016

One of four major shipment waves, executed since March 23. This was the biggest one, fer sure.
The right-hand pile is all doubles, from people who trusted they'd like the book enough to buy one as a gift! There have even been triplets, quadruplets and a few quints! And I'm going to hand-deliver a DEXtuplet set to Cambridge MA in a couple of days! Hodge wins the pickle!

I knew it would be big. I even figured it would eat about a month of my spring. And that was fine with me. But your response to the "Shop Local!" plea still exceeded expectations. My right shoulder keeps telling me so. By the time I learned to stop awkwardly skewing my right arm as I folded and taped the boxes, it was already bunged up. I was happy to get out of it without screwing up my lower back, which I did with the Fantasy Flock Jigsaw Puzzle Shipping Event. Which also exceeded expectations. 

This is All Good, as the airheads say. I know YOU know you could get my books a lot cheaper elsewhere. And I appreciate your buying from me very much. It's made a lot of things possible for us this spring. 

The whole venture has opened out beautifully, like Creole Lady does, day after gorgeous spring day. 

Just after sunrise--I love to catch her like this!

Per Houghton Mifflin Harcourt's request, we held all the books until a day before the official release date, which was April 12. I started processing orders when I finally had books delivered on March 23. It took me very nearly until April 11 to get them all signed, packed and shipped. As I would finish a wave of orders, I'd pack my car full and drive them down to Lower Salem. 

I don't lose sight of the fact that, when I'm all done with a wave of shipping, I then dump it at Miss Cynni's doorstep at the Lower Salem Post Office. And it becomes her thing to lift, sort and ship.

I try to soften the blow for both of us by taking Chet Baker along. I think it helps.

He's not your average customer. But Miss Cynni sees lots of above-average folks in her 4 hour day.

Chet Baker, however, is the only one who gets to stand on the counter.

And get kisses and a special all-natural cheezy bikkit (or three).

The books piled up in the little post office, and Cynni worked on them as she had time.

I'm afraid we made a mess of the place. There are books everywhere--under tables, and the first wave is stashed in the hall at the back of the room, so this isn't even all of them! All I can say is WOW. And THANK YOU. And look at that smile, despite it all. But who wouldn't be smiling, holding The Bacon, Hisself? If you click on the photo you can see he is doing a blep wif his tongue. Cynni came in on Saturday and Sunday, April 9 and 10, to sort and finish metering this enormous shipment. Her husband Marty came in with her, because he didn't want her picking up those boxes, which weigh anywhere from 4 to more than 20 pounds each. I am going to take the liberty of pasting a Facebook post Cynni made, because it says volumes.

And before any postal employees start wondering how I'm getting paid to work on a Sunday, I'm not. This was done on my time because I want to provide great customer service to my customers! It's not about the money for me but to keep my customers happy and keep them coming back. I love my little 4 hr office and all my customers. And for the record, since I am a 4 hr office, I don't have the title of postmistress, I am a PSE, Postal Support Employee and I love my job.

The next time you're tempted to take a swipe at the U.S. Postal Service, remember Miss Cynni, and all the terrific people out there who in many ways big and small make our everyday lives and businesses possible.

Creole Lady, the same blossom at 11 AM. Boom!

How the Post Office looked Sunday afternoon. They got'r'dun. Photo by Cynni Francis

Monday morning,  April 11, loaded into the truck for Columbus (right?) and thence to YOU, all over the country!
Photo by Cynni Francis

To be delivered to Lynne at the soothing side of Hasty Brook,  her refuge and inspiration in Minnesota

To Kim in Free Union, her home in Virginia (note orchid!)

To Kate and her sweet dog Radio, also in my home state of Virginia

Looking a bit battered, but with contents pristine, to Gail in Florida

To Anne in Bowling Green :)

to Janet in Greenback, Tennessee

To Judy, on a peaceful porch, also in Tennessee

and to Jayne in Ringgold, Georgia! That's what a SQUEE looks like!

My heart is overflowing. Full, spilling over, eyes too. Dammit, I have stuff to do!! Y'all stop!

Creole Lady at 1 pm.

It doesn't get any better than that, to be able to see this book land with a thump on the tables of beloved friends all over the country. And we have Miss Cynni and Marty to thank for that. 

 As if it all weren't sweet enough, Cynni finally had time to start reading the book I gave her in wholly inadequate thanks for her extra sweat and time. She started with the Acknowledgements, where I mention a woman named Gwen who, with her adorable young daughter, brought me five chimney swifts that had fallen down their chimney.  With them, I had five more absolutely beautiful models to draw.

                                 Gwen turns out to be Cynni's sister in law, Marty's sister.
Had I not thanked her in the Acknowledgements, Cynni and Marty never would have known that.

Oh, there's magic in simply saying thank you. The more you say it, the more magic you get.

5 pm. Dayum, girl! You aren't getting older. You're getting better!
Having said Thank You to all of you who have bought my new book, please know that this post is not a plea for more orders. I will be indisposed from now until May 2, traveling, speaking and signing books in Massachusetts, with one foray into New Hampshire. Details are in the left sidebar, "Julie In the Flesh."

For those on mobile cellular telephones,  who can't see the blog sidebar, you can find details here:

My talks kick off with Harvard Museum of Natural History on Saturday, April 23.
 I'm at Gibson's Bookstore in Concord NH April 25.
Mt. Auburn Cemetery April 26.
Fruitlands in Harvard MA April 27.
Drumlin Farm in Lincoln MA April 28.
And it all wraps up with a show of the ORIGINAL ART for Baby Birds on Saturday, April 30 at the Museum of American Bird Art in Canton MA.

Come see me, Northeasterners! I am locked, loaded and ready to talk!

So if you're moved to order copies for Mother's Day, just know that I will do my very best to get them shipped in the three days I will be home, and before I take off again for the New River Birding Festival on May 5, and the Great Salt Lake Birding Festival May 13. No rest for the wicked or the weary in April and May. 


Thank you for the fabulous effort the book represents. I am savoring it like really good chocolate. When I'm not reading it, the book frequently serves as a cat coaster...indoor cats absorbing bird behavior by osmosis. Safe travels! Evelyn in VA

I, too, am savoring your book, enjoying the evocative feeling that your writing brings, of being right there with you and experiencing these things for myself. I am learning so much about bird behavior and intelligence. And it is wondrous to see these small creatures at every step of their development... to witness how quickly they change in the course of a day. I am grateful that you have the perfect storm of a skill set to bring this book to us: writing, drawing, and avian rehabilitation. Only YOU could have created this. Thank you.

Your book arrived at my house last Saturday. An early birthday present to myself. It's gorgeous, and as a former songbird rehabber, touches my heart. But I cannot read all the little "pencil" notes on the nestling images like on the chimney swift, morning dove, house finch and chickadee. :-( I want to read it ALL!!

I've heard from someone else who wanted to read all of those, too. Please don't blame the publisher. It's extraordinarily difficult to pick up very light pencil inscriptions while preserving the integrity of the paintings. Tip: Don't even try to read them on the half-sized opening spreads. The same inscriptions are preserved in the body of the chapter text, next to the life-sized illustrations. The press "went light" on a few pages here and there, especially in the phoebe chapter. That should be fixed in the next printing (coming soon!) But mostly it's just because my pencil was hard, and didn't make a dark enough mark to be picked up. I'm honored that you want to read my scribbles, but they are what they are: historical documents, not always legible. At the time I made them I was not thinking they would find their way into a book!

thank you for sharing Creole Lady's day - amazing! Looking forward to meeting you in Canton.

I saw a nice stack of your books in the gift shop of the Nelson Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City recently. Congratulations!

If my deer didn't find hibiscus as delectable as they do roses, I would get me a Creole Lady in an instant! That's a seriously beautiful flower!

Major props to your local post office! I know when we thru-hiked the AT in 2010 as well as now in subsequent years, the threat of small town post offices closing has major repercussions on hikers relying on mail drops. Keeping post offices open is definitely an endeavor worth going for!

And our copy flew into Seattle/Bellevue, was read and thoroughly enjoyed before winging its way to Maumelle, Arkansas! So from Ohio to Washington to Arkansas - a migration worthy of the birds in the book :)

I am still savoring my copy of the book too. : ) Love that there are so many others who are doing the same thing. And I'm happy to say that my daughter is enjoying The Bluebird Effect as much as I have in the past.

Did you know that in the April 18 People magazine Baby Birds is one of their new in nonfiction mentions?

When I opened the box, the first page I turned to was the phoebe chapter and read the whole thing while standing up. Marvelous sketches throughout (OM Gosh the hummingbirds!) and I just use a magnifying glass to read your thoughtful scribbles. My small post office is very busy but they are always patient when I ask to see the commemoratives (I come from a stamp collecting family). Not sure if they have bikkits though as my pup is not as well behaved as your Chet Baker in public.

Ruth B.

Posted by Anonymous April 22, 2016 at 4:33 PM

Mother's Day! Thanks for the idea! I'll order tomorrow and will give her an IOU if it doesn't arrive in time! We also have a tiny post office. Every dollar spent there helps keep the doors open so you are helping the residents of New Salem keep their identity!

I wished I could see you sidebar. I don't know how to make it show up on iPad or iPhone. Can you put a link in your blog post?

Oh figured it out!!

Your book looks gorgeous and Cynni is a treasure.

This made me SO happy to read. To know that so much dedicated work and love for your craft over all these years is coming back to flow down around you makes my heart sing as well. Thank YOU for sharing so much of your life with all of us, and for filling the pages of your books with so much joy and passion. XO

Ah @Timothy Ryan I forget that many use a mobile cellular telephone as their reader! And never thought about the fact that the sidebars don't show. Derr! Here's a link to my website's "Meet Julie" section. Thanks for the heads up!

I love all the comments people write. Feels like a community of Julie Zickefoose fans. And most say what I think but they say it better than I could.

And wow, Cynni is a gem! Husband too. And that she in fact was connected to your book all along. You are so right about the magic of saying thank you.

Enjoy your wild next month or two going here, there and everywhere. I'm sure you could use a good rest about now, but birding doesn't wait.

I'm also very excited to send my copy of "Baby Birds" to the small-town library my parents used and volunteered for. (Small town post offices AND small town libraries need to be saved!) It will be the perfect gift for the library and I'm sure will be enjoyed by many patrons. Onward by all means.

Just yesterday I saw your book displayed in the "new books" rack at my small local county public library (Pender County, NC). I was so excited to see it "in the flesh" and drew it to the attention of one of the librarians. She immediately checked the index for "screech owl" (didn't find it :-( ) as she has an owl box in her backyard which currently has a nest of baby screech owls in it, who she loves watching. Now I must go order one for my stepmother for Mother's Day--she's a life-long birder.

Ok Julie,
...where the frickyfrack are you?!... :-(

Posted by Anonymous May 8, 2016 at 7:39 AM
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