An owlish gift

I’ve always loved owls.

Owl sculpture


Here’s one I bought in England when I lived there as a girl with my family years ago.  I remember saving up my allowance (“pocket money,” the British call it) for it, and the satisfaction I felt when it was finally mine.  He’s been perched on my desk ever since, his plump little self a talisman of sorts who keeps watch over me as I write.  I often find myself picking him him up, my fingers idly seeking out the familiar contours of his smooth terracotta body as I ponder and dream.

I’m not sure what it is about owls that appeals to me.  Is it their sturdily elegant oval shape? Their expressive faces? Those beautiful, unblinking eyes that watch over the world in silence?

Maybe it’s the mystery to owls that I find irresistible — their haunting call, or the way they whoosh silently out of nowhere on those great, wide wings.

Which is exactly what happened to me last night at dusk.  I was in the back yard, playing with our dogs, when out of the corner of my eye I saw a dark shape soar overhead and land in the maple tree.  At first I thought it was a hawk.  We have a lot of those here in the Pacific Northwest.  But then I saw that unmistakeable silhouette.  An owl!

He was so beautiful that for a long moment I couldn’t breathe. Then I whipped my phone out of my pocket and took a picture. In the fading light, the first shot looked like a blob on a branch, so I turned the flash on, hoping to catch the reflection of his eyes…

Owl January 2012


Isn’t he gorgeous?  (For some reason, I’m convinced it was a he.)  I still can’t  believe he was right there in my yard!  It’s not like I live out in the country (I call our neighborhood “rural suburbia”).   What a gift!

I soon realized that he was indeed a gift — from my muse.  She (my muse is definitely a she) can be a lazy sort, who often skives off  heaven-knows-where when I most need her.  Like now, when I’m writing a book.

Last night, though, she delivered.  The story I’m working on at the moment desperately needs an owl, and I didn’t even know it. Until she sent me one.


72 thoughts on “An owlish gift”

  1. That’s an amazing photo! I love how the eyes are reflecting- it’s so majestic! 🙂 And the owl is adorable!

  2. That’s awesome!! My mom sells celebrating home and they have a lot of owl merchandise and whenever something owlish is new she buys it.

  3. Wow Heather! I love owls!!! And I can totally relate to the “muse” thing because I kind of have one to 🙂 I am an aspiring ballerina who LOVES to read and write. I have filled up 2 notebooks with stories, characters, and inspiration (quotes from my favorite books & words that I love) and you have been one of my greatest sources of inspiration! I just finished reading Wish You Were Eyre and I am sad that the series is over but I am soooo excited for all of the books you are going to write 🙂 Your writing is the kind of writing that sweeps you away and keeps you turning the pages until the book is done. Your writing is right up there with L.M. Montgomery, Louisa May Alcott, and all of the authors you wrote about in the Mother Daughter Book Club Series. Once Upon a Toad was also an amazing book that I loved!! I can’t sing your praises enough!! I could go on forever talking about how much I absolutley LOVE you and your books but I will stop now 😉 Keep writing!! Love, a huge fan, Juliette

    • How wonderful that you love to write, too! And with your dance background, you’ll have lots of material. So glad you’ve enjoyed my books, and I thank you for your kind words! 🙂

  4. Cool! Where I live you can hear alot of owls at night. I want to see an owl in person because I think it would be pretty cool but my Mom says it’s a Native American myth that seeing an owl is bad luck. I’m Indian that’s why she said that by the way. 🙂 Yay I finally posted the first comment on something! 🙂 He is gorgeous! Cool!!!!

    • Well, this owl definitely wasn’t bad luck. He was too beautiful for that — he was definitely bringing me a good message! It’s interesting how different cultures interpret things, though. And hooray for posting!

  5. I love owls! They are my favorite animal. I got a very special stuffed animal owl when I turned one and I love it!! My elementary school mascot was also an owl. I just love them–they are also so pretty!

  6. Heather,
    I just finished reading Wish You Eyre, and does it sound crazy to say that I started to cry? Like Megan said, there’s no place like home. Especially when The Mother – Daughter book club is home. I’m excited to read more of your upcoming success, but nothing will ever be as amazing as the mother daughter book club. Thank you for writing these books. These girls, and ever character in every book, will be in my heart forever. I’ve learned so many good life lessons that I’ll carry along with me as I go through middle school, (August!) and I’ll never forget Emma, Jess, Cassidy, Megan, and Becca. I’ll miss them so much, but I’ll continue to annoy my friends about reading them until they finally do! Thank you, Heather!

    • You’re so welcome, Emily! And if it makes you feel any better, I cried while I was WRITING the last chapter of WISH YOU WERE EYRE! Bittersweet to say goodbye, I know…

      • I was just reading it again(for the third time) and even though I know what happens I still cried. It is the same with Much Ado About Anne, it’s just so touching. You are such a great writer Heather!!!!

  7. Wow that is an amazing picture! I have never seen an owl outside of captivity, but i also love how mysterious they are. I started writing a book about an owl a few weeks ago (COINCIDENCE!!!). I have lots of time for writing nowadays because i am sick with the chicken pox… My sister got them on the EXACT same day as i did! Anyway, i really like that owl sculpture on your desk! I also love how you said ‘My muse is a she’ i think mine is too 😉 Good luck with your book, i cannot wait to read it.

    • Wow, that IS a coincidence! And I’m sorry about the chicken pox 🙁 but at least it’s giving you time to write…

  8. Wonderful! Reminds me of the walks I used to take in the cemetery in Hanover with our dog Molly. We had a resident great horned owl living in the woods on the esker there behind our house! You may recall my story about seeng a drop of blood on a leaf on the trail and when I looked up there was the owl sitting on a branch with a grey squirrel clutched in his claw, readying himself for a nice lunch!

  9. You are such a good writer even your blogs bring chills down my back! LOVE IT! So when do you think your new book is coming. I know your still writing it but any idea? I NEED more of your books!

    • The book I’m working on now (wrote another chapter this morning!) will be published in Summer 2014. A while to wait, I know!

  10. Heather, I want to send you a picture of my favorite reading spot… should I send the picture to the snail mail address you have on your contact page?

  11. This blog is so beautiful!! What a coincidence just the other day I was looking for animals around my yard and I saw little bunny-rabbit prints!! Eeeep! That isn’t really a coincidence now that I think about it. SORRY! Speaking if birds I have two! I have a yellow and orange-cheeked cockatiel and a Congo African Grey parrot. Their names are Lola (The African Grey) and Daisy (The Cockatiel). Lola can talk!! I mean ALL the time! Daisy just tweets- she’s probably jealous! Anyways that was totally off topic- I love the picture and the whole blog itself!!

    • Thanks, Mackenzie! I have no idea how to make the emoticons, though. I just type in a colon (:) and a closed parenthesis ) and that’s a smiley face, I think….

  12. so i just read dear pen pal again like the thousandths time. so i thought why dont i read daddy long legs and dear enemy which i did and they are sooo good, but ive got a problem, i want to read just patty and when patty went to collage but i dont know what order there in. can any one help. Especially you Mrs.Fredrick

    • I can help! Read “Just Patty” first, then “When Patty Went to College.” They’re not as good as DLL and Dear Enemy, but still fun!

  13. Love the owl! Funny about the pocket money because we call it both allowance and pocket money where I’m from 🙂

  14. Hello everyone!! I am an extreme bookworm who is always looking for new books to read so I was wondering what are your favorite books and book recommendations? Mrs.Frederick, besides the books from the mother daughter book club, what books would you recommend to read and what are your favorite books? Sincerely, a fellow bookworm 😉

    • I’d recommend anything by Shannon Hale and Ally Carter, for starters. I also absolutely love Joan Bauer’s stories. Anyone else want to chime in?

      • Yes! I love Out of My Mind by Sharon Draper – fantastic book and amazing for all ages, definitely! Please give it a go – it’s brilliant!

  15. my sister loves owls so we have like TON in our house!!!!!! pillows,bags,cups,hair stuff,shirts she even has a backpack!!

  16. Heather I made a comment. And people who posted AFTER me are getting their comment on before me! WHY???

    • Probably because I tend to log on and answer from the top (newest) to the bottom (oldest)! Simple as that. I get to everyone eventually, though, I promise!

  17. Oh! It’s beautiful! Did you name it? My mom always names the animals we find in our yard, especially the 3 tarantulas(George, Abe, and Shelia) and the frog(Puddles). We live by a big canyon type thing so we always get animals.

    • Hmmm. He didn’t linger long enough for me to think about naming it. But now you’ve got my mind working on it… 😉

  18. Hi Heather! So in my class, to learn new vocab, we read a segment of a story and pick out challenging words from it. This week, we read The Golden Fleece by Nathaniel Hawthorne. Is this where you got the idea for Mr. Hawthorne?

    • Nope — Nathaniel Hawthorne lived in Concord, just like Louisa May Alcott and Henry David Thoreau and a number of other writers. I’ve been waiting for a chance to put him in! (Although I wasn’t very nice to his book “The Scarlet Letter.”)

      • No, but it does NOT sound like an appealing book. I really miss MDBC! I wish there was an epilogue book or something…

  19. Hi Heather,

    What kind of owl was it? I have always especially wanted to see a great gray.

    This reminds me of one interesting occurrence. About two years ago Cooper’s Hawk got inside the Main Reading Room of the Library of Congress. It was flying around the dome.

    Ivan Shellenbarger

    • Hi Ivan —

      I happened to run into a staff member of the local Audubon Society at my branch library (blog post on that coming soon), and she suspects it was a Barred Owl. I’d like to see a great gray as well — and an elf owl, and a Great Horned Owl too. A hawk inside the Library of Congress sounds like QUITE an adventure. How on earth did they get it out?

  20. Coming back to this a long time after Absolutely Truly’s publishing. I am very glad you saw that owl because I can’t imagine Truly without owls (and the beautiful cover art too!) I mean, think what might have happened if you saw some other animal!

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