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Learning to Fly

A Novel

Learning to Fly is the story of a troubled young girl who aspires to become the world’s first female superstar birder. But before she can achieve this lofty goal she must face and overcome the severe psychological trauma inflicted upon her by abusive parents in her early childhood.

In this chilling tale of abuse and abandonment, rebirth and self-discovery, Phoenix “Fee” Finneman, through perseverance and sheer determination—and a little help from her friends—eventually slays her inner demons and takes control of her life, an achievement far more challenging, and rewarding, than she could have ever imagined. Learning to Fly is an emotional roller-coaster ride with a little who-done-it thrown in and a couple of shocking revelations in the final chapters. Strap yourself in and hold on tight!

Career scientist, professional bird brain, and born-again writer of fiction.

H. Lee Jones, PhD

Until recently my professional universe revolved around the environmental sciences, ecology, evolution, and avian systematics. While I have not abandoned these pursuits my passion for creative writing has grown exponentially in the past decade, resulting in my recently completed novel Learning to Fly, the first in a series The Many Faces of Fee starring intrepid Fee Finneman.

Published Books

Other Books

Birds of Belize

After nearly a decade and a half in print, Birds of Belize is still the definitive field guide and handbook on the avifauna of Belize, a small, but avifaunally rich English-speaking country in northern Central America. Birds of Belize is the indispensable birders’ “bible” for tourists and tour guides alike. Illustrated by renowned bird artist Dana Gardner.

Checklist of the Birds of the California Channel Islands

Co-authored with Paul Collins, A Checklist of the Birds of the California Channel Islands is a 50-page checklist of all the birds recorded on California’s Channel Islands, with separate columns for each of the eight Channel Islands and the coded status (abundance, seasonality, status as breeder or non-breeder) of each bird known to have occurred on each island.

Neotropical Owls: Their Diversity and Conservation

This book has individual chapters for most Latin American countries, including Belize. The chapter Owls of Belize, written with co-author Jan Meerman, has sections on taxonomy, habitat, distribution, and conservation needs and recommendations, along with species accounts for Belize’s 11 resident species and two vagrants. Accompanying each account is a map showing the distribution of the species in Belize. Edited by Paula Enríquez.

Wow, the ending was surprising, unexpected, and sad for her ‘parents’! I love how you touched on so many things in modern life, gleaning lessons and hearing societal issues in rap music, for example! Truly the future of humanity is in the hands of young scientists thinking outside the box and using technology to its maximum. I adore the story you wrote and I must say it screams for a sequel!

Teri Hoyt, Alaska birder

I do not commonly read ‘coming of age’ books but the sophisticated birding angle, plus the character development of Learning to Fly kept me solidly aboard.  The conclusion was very well done.  I see why some have suggested a screen play.  It is a dramatic book and the dialog was well crafted, realistic.

John Kricher, Professor, Wheaton College

You’ve written a compelling and absorbing novel that reads like a TV mini-series. So many fascinating characters with unusual personal stories that weave together beautifully in what is an intricate plot. Readers will relate strongly to the story and be deeply emotionally invested in its outcome. The ending is also unexpected. Wow!

Elizabeth Bruno, Book Editing Associates

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