Hidden Nuts, Sexy Feet and Unnecessary Apostrophes

How Do They Locate Their Nuts?

Sipping coffee from my back patio this morning, I watched as a squirrel buried a nut in the damp earth beside a row of arborvitae.

What a cliche, I thought. I actually muttered it out loud, to be honest. And then I wondered, how will he ever know where to find that later? It was a question I pondered for several long minutes. I became fixated on it because it was bothering me so much. Seriously, how will that squirrel ever remember the location of that particular nut? Do they possess some sort of homing instinct, like pigeons or salmon? Or do they just happen upon their buried hoard by pure, dumb luck? I was so perplexed I Googled that very question, and Ask Yahoo! says it’s either through the use of smell, the use of landmarks, or by possessing a really good memory. The article goes on to state that squirrels never find all the nuts they’ve buried, and their undiscovered stashes help new forests to grow and prosper. In a roundabout way, they are ensuring the survival of future generations of their own species. That’s kind of fascinating when you think about it.

I have a love/hate relationship with squirrels, by the way.

I was thrilled when they first moved into the neighborhood, marveling over their furry little gray bodies prancing happily through the grass, but glee soon gave way to resentment when I caught them robbing my feeder of birdseed. I then engaged in a one-man war against these rodents, chasing them away from the bird feeder with angry shouts and flailing arms every time they drew near. Invariably, they’d come back as soon as I went  inside the house, and the whole process would repeat itself. Had I really thought they were cute? Whatever. Squirrels are rats with bushier tails, that’s all.

Wacky Search Terms

I always marvel over the search engine terms people use to find my blog. In the past few days, these have included pacific northwest man action figure (bet he’s able to leap over tall lattes in a single bound!), clark griswold in lederhosen (better than Cousin Eddie in a wife beater), what’s that weird sound when the sun comes out (umm…huh?), and space vampires vs zombie dinosaurs (sounds like a great, cheesy B-movie!). I get hits from lots of people looking for the Smurfs, sexy pictures of Pippa Middleton, and – oddly – the Hot Dog on a Stick uniform. This stands to reason, as I’ve written posts that featured those topics at one time or another. Occasionally it’s just blind luck; I wrote a post about Icarus a year and a half ago, when nobody was reading this blog, and a few months later a Kid Icarus video game was released. Hence, “Icarus” remains my most popular search term, with a whopping 2,890 views.

There you go, fetishists: Piper's feet! Actually, they are pretty cute... (Courtesy of celebritybarefeet.net)

Interestingly, 4 people today searched for Piper Perabo feet. Why the sudden interest in the Coyote Ugly actress’s feet, I wonder? Have the fetishists of the world decided that her feet are particularly alluring? Or was this just one infatuated guy really hoping for a glimpse of her toes? As a guy who enjoys a sexy pair of feet as much as the next person, curiosity got the better of me, and in a weirdly ironic vicious circle found myself Googling Piper Perabo feet. Turns out there are websites devoted entirely to celebrity’s feet, and Piper’s are especially popular, a fact that would have escaped me had I never been recruited to write about guilty pleasures. You learn something new every day.

I suppose now I’ll get a lot of hits from people looking for “celebrity’s nuts” since I’ve mentioned both in this post.

My Own Worst Critic

With my book now officially for sale, this has been an exciting week for me! I have a bunch of friends who have bought copies already and are currently reading it. I wait with bated breath for their feedback. The early reports are promising, at least. I swear, I feel like a candidate on election night, watching as the results begin to filter in. It’s pretty nerve-wracking, actually. I am my own worst critic, and forever second-guessing myself.

I finished reading my copy of the novel yesterday. I’m very pleased with the story in general, and think it’s fast-paced and well-written, with a little something for everybody. I wouldn’t change a thing about it. However, there are a few minor errors here and there. An apostrophe or three that don’t belong. A missing page break between two separate action sequences that somehow disappeared during formatting. Plus, gosh, I sure do love commas. Like I said, nothing major, but the perfectionist in me bristles. I could correct these errors – already have in my original document – but any changes made now cost money. It’s amazing how many times I went through my manuscript and had others read it – and still managed not to catch a couple of things. I keep telling myself, most books I read contain an error or two, and those have undergone professional editing. It just proves that nobody is perfect, and I need to chill out about the whole thing.

It’s been fun looking up my book on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other places – even Powell’s! And interesting that not all prices are the same (something I have no control over). Amazon is especially cool; they really cater to authors, offering a bunch of services for free, like an Author Page where you can talk about your book, link to your blog and Twitter feed, etc. And while I’ve always considered myself anti-Kindle, I cannot deny it’s a popular format and there are some cool things you can do with your book, like adding additional content – say, more information about the settings and locations; in-depth character backgrounds; or even a discussion of the themes and symbolism in your work.

I may become a convert yet.

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Categories: Writing

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22 replies

  1. Squirrels are pretty smart and have unique personalities. First I got them to take peanuts from the back porch. As they got braver (or tamer) they would come into the bedroom, then get their peanuts from the hall and later all the way to the living room. Sneaky would dash to the pile, snatch one and head out. Shackey would shake them in his paws and after 3 or 4 assessments, he’d take one and split. Snatchy would take one from a squirrel already holding one, and crawly would inch his way in and hit and run. Emily was the alpha female and no squirrel took anything until she selected her peanut.

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  2. “Squirrels are rats with bushier tails, that’s all.”

    NO! NO! They’re not rats with bushier tails…they’re the cutest things in the world.

    OMG….I LOVE squirrels!!!!!!

    I know they can be little devils at times, but so can I. So, that’s probably why I love them – HA!

    “I keep telling myself, most books I read contain an error or two, and those have undergone professional editing. It just proves that nobody is perfect…”

    You’re absolutely right, Mark. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen quite a few errors in books that I’ve read, which kinda shocked me because I thought the editors checked all that before publishing.

    And yes, I also noticed the various pricing on your book when I went to the sites that are selling it. If I’m not mistaken, I believe Amazon was the most inexpensive.

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    • One thing squirrels have going for them: they’re not possums. Those animals are positively grotesque looking! And while we’re at it, they’re not skunks, either (although I secretly think skunks are cute).

      It’s been interesting to see the strategies deployed by the various online bookstores. Hell, it’s a kick just to see my name on there still!

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  3. I understand being bothered by the squirrels raiding your feeder. One of things I found to work, was putting out some unsalted peanuts near but not in the birdfeeder. They would go for the nuts and skip the seed. However, of course, that means buying nuts, but I got such a kick out of watching the squirrels with the the peanuts, it was worth if for me. They are amazing creatures.

    Hope you have a great weekend, Mark!

    Kathy

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  4. Becareful of those squirrels those little suckers bite! As for the shoes – they are quite lovely 😉

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  5. Chipmunks, squirrels, aren’t they all dangerously close to rats anyways!

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  6. Sara and I just ordered your book from Barnes & Noble. It should be here in a few days. It will, indeed, be on our shelf–after I finish reading it, that is. Can’t wait!
    Kathy

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  7. I considered myself anti-kindle…until I got one. Now I read more than ever and everywhere. When I travel I can take my entire library with me.

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    • Authors are probably the only ones really bitching about the Kindle – only because we want people to hold our books in their hands, to flip through the pages and marvel over the cover. A physical book leaves more of a lasting legacy. Still, anything that encourages people to read more often has my stamp of approval! Thanks for stopping by. 🙂

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  8. First to order, unfortunately, not the first to read it. Boo.

    It should be waiting for me when I get back home. I’ll consider it a well deserved reward for surviving this damn surgery and an extra week and a half away from home…that I’ll surely pay for as soon as I get back in the office.

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  9. Definitely don’t worry about a few errors. I’ve seen several errors in the very best, most professional books. If people are ethralled in your story, they won’t even notice 🙂

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