I promised one of my blogger buddies I’d participate in a blog tour called Pawsibilities Are Endless benefitting Small Town Rescue. Check it out.
“Pawsibilities is a very tiny, foster-based rescue in Missouri. We do not have a facility; the dogs we take into our care are placed in to foster care while they await their forever home, this way we can learn about the dog’s personality and in turn adopt them to the right person/family. We’re here to share our stories, knowledge, and general love of those furry friends who keep our toes warm and our bellies aching.”
When I first considered participating in the Pawsibility blog tour, I couldn’t imagine having anything to contribute. I haven’t had a pet since I was a child. We always had outside dogs–my mom’s rule. Of course, the minute I took off to college, she got an (indoor) Pekinese.
As an adult, I discovered the “outside rule” was a good one as I’m allergic to hair and dander. Who knew? (Maybe Mom!) I could have a pet and take Benadryl or live vicariously through my sister’s pets. I chose the later.
The first of my sister’s pets I considered a true niece-dog was Scooter, a Chihuahua that could have passed as the Taco Bell dog’s double. Scooter yapped and napped at me during my visits—would have nothing to do with me. Then I got my surprise divorce and spent some time across the country in Seattle with my sister and her family. As I moped around, Scooter cuddled and snuggled me and helped me lick my wounds, literally. Hummm, maybe it was my ex she didn’t like. I know that was the case with my sister. Anyway, Scooter died at age seventeen and her ashes sit in an urn beside her photo. The plan is to mix them with those of my sister and her partner when all are deceased.
The mother of one of my sister’s professional friends died in 2001, and my sister and her partner were asked to help find a home for her beloved Toby. Of course, they kept him. Then, in 2003, they learned of Tara who was in an abusive situation and they rescued her. After Toby died in 2008, Tara became an “only dog” and that suited her just fine. This is where my story really begins. (So what were those first 250 words???)
A little over two and a half years later, in the spring of 2010, my godchild’s family, also in the Seattle area, decided to foster pets from the shelter near their home in Bremerton. With three young boys, at the time 10, 8, and 4, their mom and dad thought this would be a good experience for the boys. They already had one dog, Harley, the service dog for Xander, our godchild.
Xander was born here in Nashville with severe spina bifida. He and his mother participated in a clinical trial at Vanderbilt Hospital where they had pre-natal surgery when he was only twenty-one weeks old. He was born eight weeks later weighing a little less than three pounds. When he came home from the hospital, he came to our house until his family could travel back to their home.
So Xander’s family (in Bremerton) got a foster dog, Monty, and the whole family loved him–even Harley. Then…another emergency surgery for Xander. A big one. (I don’t remember which one this was, but he’s now had around twenty-five.) It was serious enough that I flew out there. His mother and father arranged childcare for his brothers. His dad went back home to pick up Harley, Xander’s service dog–he could stay at the hospital with Xander–and asked my sister if they could dog-sit for a few days.
Well! Apparently, that was a big a no-no. Apparently, Monty should have been returned to the shelter, but Xander’s mom–well, she likes to control situations and that’s not what she wanted. They liked Monty and wanted him to go to a good home (maybe theirs). If not theirs, perhaps one they could easily visit…and she did have a critically ill child at the forefront of her brain. Hey, Shelter People! She remembered to make sure Monty was cared for. I’m not sure I could’ve managed that. (Perhaps another reason I don’t have pets.)
Meanwhile, my sister and her partner pondered how to best introduce Monty to Tara’s domain. They decided one of them would take Tara for a walk in the neighborhood where she could “find” Monty on neutral ground (under the watchful eye of the other of course). It worked as planned and Tara took home a brother. It didn’t take long for them to recognize Monty belonged in their home. Of course, that meant, Xander’s mom had to ‘fess up to the shelter that she took the pet out of jurisdiction (a no-no), let unapproved people care for him (another no-no), and my sister had to go through a lengthy adoption process in another county that included a home visit, personal interviews, and all sorts of jumping through hoops.
Tara isn’t in the best of health these days, but she and her co-conspirator continue to romp in and out through their doggy door, ruling the roost. Hubby and I send treats for Christmas and the little munchkins have our number. When we visit, they’re on our heels whenever we walk into the kitchen, sit on their haunches, stare at the doggie cookie jar, cock their heads and beg with those big, sad eyes. We’re only allowed to give them 1/2 a cookie at a time and have to ask permission before we do that because somebody, one time, a long, long time ago, gave out lots of cookies…but only 1/2 at a time. Geeez.
Well, not having a pet story here in Tennessee for this non-profit in Missouri, one in Washington state about other people’s pets is the best I can do. Best of luck to the good folks at Pawsibilities and their noble efforts to secure shelter for our four-legged friends.
Here are some photos of Monty and Tara as well as Xander and Harley.
Hey, I just found out if you leave a comment, you’re eligible for prizes from the blog tour. Cool,huh?
TARA AND MONTY
One of the first things I do each morning is scan the two hundred or so blogs on my Google Reader. Often, on the days I post, I decide to change my content based on something on one of these blogs. Today is such a day.
Rachelle Gardner, one of the best bloggers and agents out there, had a post I adored. Perhaps it resonated with me because I recently completed the words to fuel the first year of the “word of the day” feature at the soon to be launched new and improved Killer Nashville website. Who knows?
Her post was centered around the word “paraprosdokian.” She kindly shared the website English Forums with me so I could make my own list of favorites.
First a definition: A paraprosdokian is a figure of speech where the latter part of a sentence or phrase is surprising or unexpected in a way that causes the reader or listener to reframe or reinterpret the first part.
Here are my top 25 (in no particular order):
Where do writers get their inspiration?
The list is so long, it’d never fit on a page, A writer’s inspiration comes from so many sources: nature, people, books, things… But to narrow it down a tad, what inspires writers to continue when they’re going through a rough patch (and we all do) or guides them when their muses are working overtime?
Books. There are many books about our craft, of course, but it’s also important for writers to read books for pleasure and let the strong elements of the stories and structure sink into their subconsciouses.
Blogs. Gee, I follow close to two hundred blogs of authors, editors, writers, readers and others interested in our world. It’s time consuming, but oh so educational. I have them on a blog roll so I can scroll through them, stopping to devour only the ones that really interest me and noting with a star (saving) those I’d like to revisit. I don’t comment a lot because I have to exit the blog roll and go to the individual website to do so, but I’m making an effort to comment on at least a couple of blogs a day. Now, if someone would make the same effort for mine — LOL
Online forums are another place where writers find inspiration, but be careful here because it can also be a place for discontent. Personally, I don’t participate in forums that are moaning and groaning about something–I don’t like the negative energy–and I don’t want it to flow into my writing. Don’t confuse lashing out and the constructive criticism of readers, critique groups, etc.–two completely different things.
For me, writing partners, critique partners, beta readers are all great sources of inspiration because they look at my work with fresh eyes and see things I’m too close to see. Because I know they care for me, I know what they offer is to benefit me, not hurt my feelings. I get multiple perspectives and have the opportunity to “give back” to the group which in itself is a learning opportunity.
My face to face critique group, Quill and Dagger, met last night which is why I have this subject on my mind this morning. One of the writers, a delightful lady, told me afterwards she hoped she didn’t sound “mean” when talking about my piece which she really didn’t like. Honestly, I’d noted her concerns and made mental notes of what changes to make and moved on, so her comment caught me off guard. In reflection, this pleases me because it means I’ve separated myself enough from the book to know the difference between it and me. For a long time, I didn’t.
I’m really lucky to be a part of Q&D. The “old-timers” can’t remember how long they’ve been around, but can track it to at least the early 1990’s. Two members are published through traditional houses with more books on the way. Some prefer writing short stories to novels, but all of them are incredibly talented. I’m probably in way over my head, but I’ve always liked to play “up”. For example, most of the members of my tap group have been taking lessons for four years. Since I’ve been there less than two, I’m taking an extra two hours a week of lessons each week just to keep up with them. I’m not there…yet…but I’m making more progress by challenging myself to dance with this more advanced group.
And then there is my greatest source of inspiration. The one I go to sleep beside each night and wake up next to every morning. Hubby. He is so loving and supportive of my quest. He believes in me and encourages me to follow my passion. How did I get so lucky to find him?
Some people say writing is a solitary activity. Maybe. But, for me, with the characters from my stories and the people who inspire me close by, I’m never alone.
Stumped over what a publishing term means? Janet Reid, literary agent extraordinaire, has complied a list to make your day.
I’m going to print it and post it on my bulletin board. And bookmark it. And do whatever else is necessary to find it when I need it. And if I hang around long enough, am persistent enough, believe enough, and find a fairy godmother, I might just need it.
Here it is:
Have a great weekend.
Yesterday was a day filled with Valentine’s stories—in the newspaper, on television and radio, and online. But, of course, I have one more. Mine.
As all folks of a certain age who are in a long-term relationship know, it’s difficult to conjure up something creative and wonderful for every gift-giving occasion. It just is. I’d decided to download a bunch of episodes of Car Talk to Hubby’s iPod for some upcoming trips until, out of the blue, an idea washed over me.
Last week we were getting pedicures at our usual place. Our normal routine is he’ll get a deluxe pedi, while I get a regular one because it takes so much longer to finish my manicure. Anyway one of the components of his pedicure involves this gelatin like substance, about the consistency of smushy Jello, only it’s hot. It’s made from a powder (like gelatin), but it beads up into finger-tip size nuggets that would resemble Jelly Beans if Jelly Beans were smaller and softer. He loves this part and always raves about it.
Before I go any further, you need to know how much we enjoy baths. The first “project” after we moved into this house was to pull out the standard-sized tub for two (which was maybe a tub for two children) and put in a giant soaking tub. While we were at it we ripped out the tile and placed heat coils under its replacement flooring. Yummy.
Anyway, as I was saying, we like our baths and we like to take baths together. It’s where we decompress after a tough day. It’s a place to work through issues, to discuss the kids, to reconnect. We’ve found it’s easier to have heart to heart talks in the tub for whatever reason—I guess it’s harder to have our defenses up with only bubbles between us. There’ve been times we’ve become waterlogged we’ve stayed in so long. And occasionally we’ve even had dinner in the tub. It works well—no need for napkins.
Back to the story … You can see where I’m going with this. I approached the owner of the Mani/Pedi shop about buying some of the ingredients they put in the pedicure bowl for our bathtub. After I talked them into it, four consultants and I tried to figure out how much we’d need if they used half a packet for a pedicure. (They cautioned me to only use a few inches of warm water.) We settled on ten packets, which I purchased, brought home and hid.
Hubby came home from work last night with flowers (he knows I don’t want flowers on V-Day—they cost too much—but he brought home roses and irises anyway) and a gift bag of goodies. We went out for dinner—nothing fancy, just a neighborhood Mexican restaurant. We got home an hour or so later and I suggested he change into his robe (his usual ritual) and wait in the den for his gift.
This is where the comedy of the evening began. I filled the tub with about an inch of hot water, then dumped two packets in. I’d brought a long spoon from the kitchen and started stirring. You can imagine how that worked. It set up fast and I couldn’t reach the whole tub, so I stripped, added more water, another packet, and got in to stir with my feet. Well. It seemed like a good idea.
You know, you how you never stand up during a pedicure. There’s a reason. I stepped in and my feet flew out from under me. (I didn’t get hurt, but blue pellets flew everywhere). I stood back up and held on for dear life as I stomped around. I probably looked like Lucy and Ethel in the grape smashing episode of I Love Lucy. I turned off the water and sat down as I tried to mix the concoction with my hands. I’d mix one side and the other would solidify. Eventually, I was stirring with my hands and with my feet as I spun round and round on my butt. All the while it was setting up and I felt like a giant piece of fruit in Jell-O. I called for Hubby, but he couldn’t hear me over the TV. After all, I’d turned the volume up and closed the doors in between so he wouldn’t hear the bath water running. I was flailing, yelling and about to start wailing when he finally came to check on me. Thank goodness.
He also slipped getting in (but wasn’t hurt either). After I covered him in the gunk (think mud bath), I was ready to get out and shower the stuff off, but that presented a whole new problem. I had to now get out of the tub. Somehow I managed … and so did he a while later after he’d played in it some more. The sludge even went down the drain. Well, mostly. I’m still working on that.
Hubby appreciated my resourcefulness but agreed I could add this to our “picnic list” — things that sound a lot more fun than they actually are. And no, I do NOT have pictures!
Did anyone else have a V-Day adventure they’d like to share? I’ll let you guest blog if you contact me.
Saturday Hubby and I went to a reading by Jaden Terrell from her newly released book RACING THE DEVIL. This was especially exciting for me because I’m now a member of the same critique group as Jaden, Quill and Dagger, but joined long after this book had gone to press. I had the book (of course) but had not read it…then.
The reading was at Parnassus Books, Nashville’s newest bookstore, opened late last year by best-selling author Ann Patchett and publishing guru Karen Hayes. In Greek mythology, Mount Parnassus was the home of literature, learning and music and the intent of this independent bookstore is to support local writers and artists and provide a venue for writers to connect with readers and readers to connect with books. This complements and adds to the rich cultural environment of Nashville, also known as the Athens of the South. But I digress…
The space for the reading was packed. All of the chairs were filled and people stood as far as I could see behind the stacks. (Of course I was sitting in a nice comfy chair.) Jaden began right on time (gotta love that!) and talked about the book and her process. She was articulate, funny, and smooth in her presentation. The passages she chose to read made me want to read the book–immediately–and I started it as I sat in the car while Hubby ran into the grocery for a few items. I finished it the next day.
It was a page-turner with a great story and a plausible plot. The characters were believable and because it was set in Nashville, I didn’t have to imagine what the settings were–I knew. It was a great read I’d recommend for any lover of mysteries–or any lover of a good story, for that matter.
But for me, as a writer, the book was much more than “a story.” From the page one, it was obvious how well written the book was. There was a hook. The first page drew me in. Backstory was done in small, succinct segments and carefully layered in. Character descriptions were brief and vivid. Her similes and metaphors weren’t overdone, but when she used them they were brilliant.
One of my favorite passages was, “Old habits die hard. Look at the metric system.”
The subplots were weaved into the plot in such a way I could hardly tell which was which. She touched on some socially sensitive issues and dealt with them in a respectful and responsible way. I could go on and on, but I won’t.
Will the author be offended I could spot these elements to recognize them as the great examples they are? I hope not. I’ve trained myself to search every book I read, and I usually locate this in one and that in another. Although I’ve tried, I’ve not found one single book possessing most, if not all, of the characteristics of a good novel…until now. This one won’t go on the shelf with my mysteries, but will be next to my writing reference books.
In conclusion, the book was a delightful read. However, the real value for me were its lessons on content and structure. Thank you, Jaden. Thank you.
RACING THE DEVIL is available at Amazon or your local bookstore.
Jaden Terrell’s second book, A Cup Full of Midnight is available for preorder and will be released in August.
I love to read…and write…and edit…and even critique as long as I can find positive things to say. But what happens when there really isn’t anything, anything at all, positive? I don’t want to begin a critique with “You capitalized the first letter of each sentence. Way to go!” But I was taught to start and end on a positive note and put the meat of the critique in between.
Fortunately, I seldom encounter such a work, but occasionally, I do. If it’s someone I’ve never critiqued before, perhaps it’s a fluke and I can say, “This doesn’t resonate with me. I don’t understand what you are trying to say.” That states my truth without being mean or discouraging.
If, however, it’s someone I’ve been writing with for a while, a critique partner, for instance, and they are ignoring every bit of advice I give, maybe the answer is to part ways. That might be the conversation to have instead of a critique. “I see you are still doing xyz though I’ve suggested for the last three weeks you try abc. Can you help me understand your rationale?” I will have to determine if I want to spend my time offering suggestions that are going to be completely ignored.
A critique needs to be specific. Instead of saying it didn’t work for me and is filled with clichés, it has to say “It didn’t work for me because…” or “Such and such is a cliché.”
I’ve gotten some brutal critiques, some which made me cry and stomp around sulking for a bit. But you know what? These are the very critiques that have helped me the most. And I know I can trust those readers. So if she says something is funny or cleaver or good I can take pride in that because it is.
A critique is an opinion—one person’s opinion and the author is still the author. The author is in control and has the final say. If the author disagrees she leaves it as is. But if there are multiple critiques pointing out the same thing, or saying the same section has a problem, even if different readers are identifying it as different problems, the author has a problem whether or not she wants to admit it. Boy, did I struggle with this one! But, once I accepted it and made changes, I could see the truth in their words.
The most important part of critiquing, in my opinion, is honesty—even when you know it will hurt. I know it’s much easier to write a glowing “this is great” critique, but that’s doing the author no favors (unless it really is great) and while it might be a momentary ego boost, it won’t help her further her craft like a candid critique will.
No, Hubby needn’t worry. I’m blind speed dating with LITERARY AGENTS. Yep! Real, live, in the flesh agents. Top notch agents. Woo-hoo!
I didn’t discover her until last month, but it seems in November of last year a new undercover sleuth, code name, Cupid, joined the blogosphere with Cupid’s Literary Connection. Miss Cupid specializes in bringing talented writers together with astounding literary agents in not so romantical but magical ways. It says so right on her website. She hosted her first event, Love Triangle, in January.
I discovered her site when one of the agents, whose blog I follow, was a judge for the inaugural contest and couldn’t resist trash talking with the other agent judge. Of course I hopped on over there (before I read another blog) and saw this Cupid chick was hosting an even bigger, better, badder contest in February. Yep! Cupid’s Blind Speed Dating. Be still my heart!
I have to tell you this is too cute for words. She took 100 entries during two extremely competitive windows of opportunity. I was sitting at my computer with my finger on enter waiting for the computer clock to change to get my query and first 250 words in as fast as possible. It wasn’t long before I got an e-mail telling me to sit back and relax, I’d made the cut-off. Whew. One hurdle.
The next round was judged by Cupid’s Bouncers. Four authors (Gennifer Albin, Anne Brown, Gabriela Lessa, and Marissa Burt) choose who makes it to the agent round by leaving a comment that contains the words, “You’re in.” The authors were given super-duper bouncer-code names so I don’t know which one passed me through, but a great big hug to the undercover judge Iheartbooks. The other code names are Blue Nimbus, Bookish Handygirl and Dorothy. Dorothy? That’s an undercover name? I can’t wait to hear the thought process on that one.
Fifty entries went up this week and 50 more will go up next week, then the agents will get involved after that. In the meantime, anyone is welcome to comment. My entry is #27, but read lots of them and comment often. You’ll find some good writing in the bunch.
After the two weeks of comments, judging and #TTT (Twitter Trash Talk), the AGENTS get will involved. Miss Cupid has a heart attack (her words) line up of twelve awesome agents: Laura Bradford, Vickie Motter, Sarah LaPolla, Meredith Barnes, Sara Crowe, Sara Sciuto, Weronika Janczuk, Halli MeInitsky, Molly Ker Hawn, Brooks Sherman, and Victoria Marini. All have websites and are on twitter and several have blogs.
Cupid hasn’t announced them yet, but the agents will also get undercover names (well, duh!), and won’t know who’s who. (That cupid has a wicked sense of humor.) Then, they’ll each get ten arrows — but not all at once. On Monday, February 20th, they’ll start with four and get two a day after that through Thursday for a total of ten each.
At this point, the agents will begin to reveal their archery skills. They may request a partial with one arrow, but no entry is allowed to have no more than two partial requests. If they want to request a full, they deplete their arrow supply by three. Of course, there is a twist: full requests can’t be be made until the last day (Thursday) and on that day partials go up to two arrows. By the way, a full request trumps any partial requests so those arrows will have been wasted.
Then on Friday, all will be revealed–winners, author and agent identities (but not Cupid’s) and Cupid will prepare for March Madness.
I guess I better wipe the dust off the manuscript and get out the polish in case I get an arrow or (wouldn’t it be wonderful?) three. See you Friday. Don’t forget you can check out all of the entries at Cupid’s Literary Connection.