A Foul Fowl Deed–True Story

Hi, all, Sher here with a true story. You might wonder what it has to do with books or writing until I get that far. See, I moved to a house with chickens. Real live chickens. There were twelve, all white Leghorns except one grayish hen, when we moved from Fort Walton Beach to Crestview, Florida. Hubby and I took pity on the chickens all cooped up in a small coop with nothing to make the nesting boxes comfy. First, hubby bought straw and discovered the chickens would rather have it on the ground than in their nesting boxes.

Besides, they only nest in one box of six. If you look close enough, you’ll see the chicken roosting in the lower left box. I’ve seen two chickens race for that box. Once one sat on top of the other chicken rather than take another spot. Most of the time, the loser stands nearby and squawks. I wish everyone could hear the noise the loser was making when I took this picture. Talk about location, location! 

Time to diverge from the story to make a connection. Seems to me, writers all want the same spot–at the top. But few are willing to do what it takes to make their work stand out from the flock, so they squawk about competition and gatekeepers (agents and editors) rather than improve their nesting box, ahem, platform. Many don’t even know what a platform is. For help understanding the concept, read “What’s a Writer’s Platform? How not to fall off.”

This chicken didn’t get the idea, but don’t worry, no chickens were harmed in the taking of these pictures. After all, they have wings. Writers don’t, so good platforms are even more important. Of those writers who do build a platform, far too few build it strong enough. Many indies do better with the marketing aspect but don’t want to put out the money for good materials. Cover design. Book Design. How about editing?

From the sad state of many books I start to read and put down, I think some writers don’t even use critique groups. Believe me, genre specific critique groups are worth their weight in golden eggs! Good critiques will save a bunch of money when it comes time to edit. Even if the group doesn’t catch a single typo or misused word, they’ll improve characterization and story structure a ton. The book will be worth reading. Still, there’s no such thing as a writer who doesn’t need an editor’s help building that platform strong enough to support continued sales. Ask any writer who’s had another come along and sit on top, I mean write a better book.

Back to the chickens. Given the poor egg output when we moved here, one or two eggs per day, we knew the chickens needed more space like writers need a good environment to get their creative juices flowing. But writers have to avoid too many distractions or they won’t finish a book, let alone finish on time. So although we wanted to let the chickens free range, we thought we’d have to teach them not to run off. They might lay their eggs somewhere else or worse, get snatched by a predator.

Then the previous owners told us the chickens wouldn’t go far and would come back to their coop at night, but the owners didn’t let the chickens out often because they would scratch and peck the oak leaf mulch from the shrub and tree beds into the grass. Ever since we moved in, we’ve had a messy yard. Hubby decided to build a fence around the orchard because the chickens proved right away that they would lay more eggs if they got more freedom and more fun food.

Along with cracked corn and oyster shells, we feed them table scraps, bananas, leafy greens and whole grain bread from a local bakery. Their egg production went way up–from two or three per day to as many as twelve. We felt like our chickens were laying golden eggs, beautiful organic free range eggs fit for a king.

One more digression (or two) because I love analogies. Writing is also messy, but that’s fine as long as it’s clean before time to submit or publish. I equate critique groups and writer’s conferences to fun food. As for freedom, ask any indie if the rewards are worth all the extra precautions they take. Either way, indie or trade, all that work is worth it to me because I want to read good books even more than to eat good eggs. That means I’ll help those select writers build their platforms even stronger by promoting their books.

Back to the story. It only took one mistake and one foul deed to destroy our confidence and two fowl lives. The end–or not…

Sorry for the cliffhanger, but I felt it was important in light of the number of series books written this way. Does anybody out there like having to wait for a resolution? Not me. I prefer books with a resolution, a real end–in other words, a full story arc. It’s okay to introduce a new problem afterward to tempt readers, but don’t leave them hanging off a cliff!

To make up for my fowl deed (not foul compared to the one coming up), I’ll post the rest of the story sometime next week. You won’t have to wait a year.

As always, thanks for visiting and please leave a comment!

Share A Heart

Indie author-friendly freelance editor, children's book blogger for picture books through YA, kid lit, SF/fantasy lover with special fondness for middle grade, pun-loving SCBWI member, meter-maid for poetry and rhyming picture books.


  1. I’m taking pointers here for both chickens and writing – killing two birds with one stone! (Bad joke, sorry.) So letting them roam improved egg production. Got it. And I’ll try not to roam with my writing. Love this comparison!

  2. I like to think of myself as a good egg.


  3. Ending with a cliffhanger? Arg!!!!

    Of course, now that I think about it, I believe you already told me what happened. Oh, well…

  4. So far so good, now to go to the second part (reading this reminded me of the book Animal Farm – the parallel that was drawn with the Russian revolution)

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