Posted by: MaraPurl | August 6, 2011

A Hummer Hovers Near Your E-Reader

Hummingbirds are pure magic. Part helicopter, part jewel, they fly across thousands of miles from their winter homes to become an integral part of our summer. Their trilling songs and aerial ballets are a spice as sweet as the nectar they sip.

As far as I’m concerned, E-Readers are pure magic too. Now, instead of attempting to lug four books per flight, I carry one slim volume which inexplicably contains scores of titles, with no meaningful limit to how many volumes I can download.

Magic converges with magic for me today, as my first E-Book flies off the pages. When Hummers Dream is a short story that immediately precedes book one of my novel series, What the Heart Knows. It’s the story-before-the-story, a special preview that lets you into Milford-Haven before the launch of the novel.

Over the next few days, it’ll start appearing in Amazon’s Kindle store, Barnes & Noble’s Nook store, and will soon be available for any and every E-Reader. It’s free, or less than one dollar. You’ll be able to find links at And with it comes the glorious watercolor cover art by Mary Helsaple.

I had a real-life experience that sparked this story. While spending a summer performing in my favorite town of Cambria, California, a hummer flew into a glass wall. My companions at lunch that day thought the bird dead. But I spent a long hour in a privileged solitude with the tiny bird, my heart thrilling when it came back to life and flew off the palm of my hand. Each friend who witnessed the event later gave me a gift: a gold hummingbird charm; a hummingbird etching; a hummer of carved wood; a glass hummer that still hangs in my office window.

Most remarkable of all was the gift the local hummingbird community gave me. For the entire year following, each time I was in the vicinity, a hummer-messenger would buzz me, flying so close to my head I was sure he’d entangle his wings in my hair. “Thanks,” he seemed to be saying. “For saving our pal.”

People often ask me where I get my story ideas. The ideas come from many places, most of them located squarely in my imagination. Yet people and situations I observe or experience often inspire, even if from a distance. And then, there are the stunning up-close things that happen right before my eyes. How could I not write about the little bird who visited my heart?

The only other earthly creatures to make such an impression were the whales I helped to save on a Greenpeace voyage. And I write about them too, in essays, articles, and in my upcoming novels. The gargantuan and the minuscule, each have touched the heartstrings that bring forth a song of belonging, of intelligence, of transcendent communication.

Non-fiction writing is about facts. But fiction is about truth. So, of course, my short story goes beyond the events of that summer day, and carry the reader both into the heart of my artist-protagonist, and into the mind of the hummer she meets. His part of the story is—literally—a flight of fancy. But who’s to say it’s not just as real as the painter who does her best to capture enough of his essence to bring him back to life?

So enjoy a brief journey to Milford-Haven, just long enough to discover how the world might look . . . When Hummers Dream.

For more information on the changes that are taking place with The Milford Haven Novels, please read my newsletter. If you have not subscribed, visit to have my newsletter sent to your mailbox every month.


  1. We are in a drought stage here in Texas, but I am still able to water our fruit trees from the back yard well via hose and sprinkler. I love the times when the hummers come to hover in the spray, soaking up the moisture, taking a little natural bath, enjoying the cool relief from the rising sun. Such a miracle…as all hummer are…and Mara’s story is a fun read!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: