Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Animal Symbology

There aren’t many places around anymore where, on the way to the post office, you can see a deer, a bald eagle and a murder of crows (actually it was more like a execution of crows, as there must have been 75 or more!), within the span of 5 minutes. ‘Course the deer was dead, hence the reason for so many scavengers, but still, I was one of just few people who saw the scene, as walkers scared all but a few of the hardy crows away from their meal. And, crows, being as territorial as they are, probably chased the eagle as he took flight from the human intruders. I have no doubt that all will be back, since it’s hard to pass up such a bounty in the middle of winter.

Imagine a superstitious person seeing such a gathering of our black-winged brethren. They would surely have turned and run the other way. After all, who would chance getting that much bad news from the messengers of the dark side! They really symbolize creation and magic, and are one of my favorite birds because of their intelligence. As for the bald eagle, it is said that they are symbols of spiritual power and illumination. We can all use a little of that in our lives, can we not? I feel it helps in my writing as a kind of go-ahead-and-do-something-different story line. So, of course I added it to a scene in the third book I'm working on. Catrìona just so happened to have see further without being seen. Thank you eagle!

I have always noticed birds and animals and tried to apply their symbolism in my life. There are those who live in Maine and have never seen a moose. I can’t fathom how that can be possible, but then I look at myself, who has seen a bear only once, even though I lived outside Yellowstone National Park for three years. Perhaps their meanings don’t pertain to us, therefore, why would we see them? Something to ponder.


b.h. mary said...

Greetings Mary,
Fascinating study..natural world beings. Do you know 'Animal Speak' by Ted Andrews, excellent resource for such. Thank you for the sneak peak from Cat. Enticing, vivid, gripping, "please Maam, my I have some more?" Congrats on publisher obtained! Keep on keeping on! Blog idea great, thanx for invite!
Yours, B.H. Mary

Mary Duncan said...

Hey Mary!

Glad you could join me!

Yes, I have Ted Andrews' book and refer to it often. Everything has a purpose and therefore a meaning, be it animal or circumstance. The universe is filled with synchronicity if you are looking for it. I needed Garnet to see something she couldn't as a human, and when I saw the eagle, I knew I had her quandary solved. This shape-shifting thing is pretty cool stuff!

I'm well into the third book now, after taking a brief hiatus to write the screenplay for Eyes of Garnet. That was very fun! I now just need a producer and/or Gerard Butler to stroll down the streets of Blue Hill (and me be there on that day! Synchronicity, remember), so I can pitch my movie idea and start the filming! In Scotland, preferably.



TerriRainer said...

After reading your post on Diana Gabaldon's site about the Highland Games and the kilt research (OMG that was GREAT!), I came to your site to see what other gems may be lurking!

I have then made several trips to Amazon to try and find any books that you have published, but no luck.

Do you have books available yet? If not, when?

I agree with your previous post about using the correct vernacular, it does make for a bit of a more tedious read on my part, but far more rewarding in the end!

Mary Duncan said...

Hi Terri,


Yes, well, the things we do in the name of research, eh? All in good fun.

As for my book, Eyes of Garnet, you can get it through Amazon, Barnes and Noble or directly from my website at The sequel, called Sightless, is still searching for a publisher, but hopefully will be out soon.

The creative process is very subjective. I am also an artist and graphic designer. But making a living at any of those venues is tough work. Right place right time is what it takes. Apparently, I haven't quite found that elusive spot yet. I'll keep trying, though, because it's what I have to do.


TerriRainer said...


I just purchased Eyes of Garnet and can't wait to read it. Good luck on Sightless.

I will be sure and leave a review on my blog, and also on Amazon after I read you mind if I put a link to your blog on mine?

Do you have a movie/tv deal already? That's soooo great!

Question....did you have an agent before getting a publishing deal? I think that is the "Did the chicken come before the egg" question in writing!


Mary Duncan said...

Hi Terri,

Thank you so much for your patronage! I do hope you enjoy the story.

No, feel free to link me to your blog. The more the merrier, I say.

I wish I had a movie deal, but alas, I have just finished writing it. and it's now in the hands of a theatre friend to see if it all makes sense. It was much more difficult than I thought because Hollywood really only wants a 2 hour movie. I went about 2.5 hours (on paper anyway), and had to cut out many scenes from the book. I can't even imagine how they wrote for the Harry Potter series. Those 800 page tomes would be quite a challenge to compress into standard movie running time.

As for an agent, nope, no one wants to play with me. So I found a small indi publisher who related to the story because his ancestors were booted out of Scotland during the aftermath of Culloden.

How about you? Do you have an agent?


TerriRainer said...


I am the world's biggest PROCRASTINATOR! That being said, I don't have an agent, although I do have my first novel written, it is just in need of revisions....which it has been for almost a year now!

Life does tend to throw a wrench in my wonderful plans of being published by now. However, I have been plotting my second book, which has turned out to be a good thing. I am now able to go back and change or ad things in the first, since my main character's in book two are also in book 1.

I have taken a writing course, and participated in a few writer's groups, but I think the most help for me has been to read. It shows you what you want to do, and even better....what you DON'T want to do.

I will admit that my book falls neatly into the historical romance category. It is by no means NEAR the caliber of the Outlander series, but I think it is far better than quite a few of the books that I have read recently.

From everything that I have heard/seen, it is so hard to get published without an agent. I have researched the crap out of agents/agencies. I have a whole file of sample query letters. I know how it SHOULD be done....I JUST HAVEN'T TRIED!

I suppose you can't fail if you just don't try, and once my revisions are done, I'll have NO EXCUSE....hence the hesitation.

I would think it would be easier for you to get an agent, having the first book published. Not that I would know of course, because I HAVE NO IDEA. But in the real world, I would think that an agent would look at that and say, "At least I know she can finish a novel", and they would know what caliber of work that you have produced.

I'll certainly keep my fingers crossed for you with the screen play, that must have been a daunting task. My friends and I often discuss the dread/desire that they ever make Outlander into a much will they leave out, will they change the story? Will Gerard Butler still look young enough to play Jamie by the time it happens? LOL

If you ever want to discuss agents, publishing, research or writing, feel free to drop me a line. I think you can learn so much from people, I know I do all the time.


Mary Duncan said...


To me, find an agent is just as difficult as finding a small publisher. I don't know what the secret is, but apparently, I haven’t found it yet. Not that I think an agent is going to further your career. It can still take a year or more to sell your book after it's in an agent's hands. Sure, you're able to get into the bigger publishing houses, but that's not all fun and games either. It's a tough business all around.

And you're right, reading other's work is the best way to learn. I tend to channel my work. My character, Catrìona Robertson is a powerful force. She tells me what to write, takes me on a journey I, myself, would have never thought to go, and ties up all the loose ends. It's rather like watching a movie unfold on paper. I never know what she's going to do next, and when I try to take over, there's nothing to write. The page remains blank. When I give the reins back to her, the story continues. I never have a plot, although I do suggest subplots that I would like to see in the story. Usually she lets me work them in, though never as I had envisioned.

I do write in chronological order and can't skip around like Diana Gabaldon. When research needs to be done, all writing stops until the answer is found.

For some really fun Scottish romance novels, try the Highlander series from Janet Chapman. They're great!


TerriRainer said...


I so love it when I hear things that sound like me!

My main character's name is Margaret...I DON'T LIKE THAT NAME (crazy ex mother-in-law's name)!

However, Margaret would NOT let me name her anything else. I tried, truly I did, but I would type the name Margaret, instead of the name I wanted her to have, over and over, and got tired of correcting it, so I just gave in.

I also can not write out of sequence. My friend who edits for me keeps using that darn Gabaldon kernel reference....I can't do it though.

As for a plot, I didn't have one. I thought I did, but during my first writing class, my instructor broke it down, and sure enough....NO PLOT!

I did come up with a really good plot, and during the writing, the characters added a few more sub-plots that I didn't see coming.

The book ended a bit differently than I had originally planned, but by the end, I had two more books that I HAD to write.

It's been really fun, and I love to write. My mom has told me that I wrote my first story at around 5 years old. The writing process to me is NOT work, it's the revisions that I see as work...ugh!

If you ever want any of the info that I have on agents and submitting, let me know. Through class, writer's groups, research, etc. I have quite a bit of info.

Even though it may take longer to get something published through an agent, I think it would be worth it not to have to try and sell your own work, it takes too much time away from the creative process I would think.


Mary Duncan said...


I'm at least allowed to name my characters! But, yeah, they are very bossy! Many times when I'm trying to see where Catrìona's going with a chapter (or paragraph!), I begin talking to the screen in phrases like, "I hope you're going somewhere with this, 'cause I don't see it."

Then sometimes I threaten her with the delete button. Never works, really, she just shuts down completely. Then it's time to read something by someone else. I get sparks of random ideas that way and then she'll (we'll) have more of a direction.


ps - who is that wonderful looking man on your site? Nice eyes!

Holly Y Rechel-Felmlee said...

Hi Mary,

I just came across your blog (via Tess G.). Living in Colorado most of my life, I've seen a lot of wild life, including bears. My most special (sorry about the bad English) sighting of all time was an ermine (a weasel in white fur), in the winter and sitting in the snow. As you may know, ermine are all white in the winter and therefore rarely seen. This one had the black nose and black tip on its tail.

I saw this ermine while waiting to watch a friend in his telemark race. A few years later that friend died in an avalanche. On the way to the funeral, an ermine, in winter white, ran across the road in front of our car. (Spooky music here) It truly felt as though he was there with us through this little rare animal.

I don't know what ermines symbolize, but I'm totally enchanted by them now.

What is a "group" of ermine called anyway. :)
Holly Y

Mary Duncan said...


Thanks for taking the time to visit my site!

Interesting story of the ermine. We see them here in Maine, as well, though we tend to just call them weasels. These sly creatures symbolize the power of silent observation. You know the old adage, still waters run deep? This is a perfect example.

People who have this animal in their lives are listeners, many times loners, and because of this, they tend to really know the people in their lives. They will dig deep to get answers, and will also attack if provoked.

Does that pertain to you in any way? If not, then the opposite could be true. In other words, you may need to gain those powers in your life.

A group of ermine, though unlikely to see, is called a BOOGLE.

Hope that helped.