Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Miss Sophie Writes - Reposted from Tara Joyner Haussler's blog "I Might Need A Nap"

Miss Sophie Ru
Note: Miss Sophie lives with Tara Joyner Haussler. This post was previously published on Tara's blog I Might Need A Nap. Tara was one of the authors in the anthology A Cup of Christmas, available on Kindle for $1.99. All proceeds go to First Book, a charity that places books in the hands of children in need.
A note from the paws of Miss Sophie:

     These people, I sure have a hard time figuring them out sometimes. They know my name, and yet, they call me “No” and “Stop it” almost more than they call me Sophie.
     It’s not like I picked out that name for myself or anything–they chose it. If I’d had my druthers, I would be called Geraldine. Yeah. I like that name.
     Anyway, yesterday they said, “Bed,” and I went and they gave me my treat on command. I’ve got them trained well. When I sit in my bed, I wait, and they give me a treat. It’s a pretty sweet deal actually. They left for a few hours and when they came home, I could hardly believe my eyes.
    And I have pretty good vision.
    The people brought a tree in the house. You know, one of those things that lives outside that I like to sniff around and eat things out from under. In. the. house. Well! I mean, these are the same folks who take their shoes off in the house and flip out if I go anywhere near the mud puddles way back in the yard behind our house.
    I don’t get it.
    It immediately started shedding, something I can proudly say I do not do. It was pretty disgusting. The Fella promptly vacuumed it up. I actually chose not to bark while he was vacuuming this time, and the people didn’t notice or anything. Really? Fine. Next time then…

    After all of the hullabaloo about getting this tree in the house, I watched as the Fella brought in a big box of things on the ends of green wire. (I like green wire. I like wire. Twist ties are my favorite, but they never let me play with one for long.) They spent much time discussing these things and untangling them. It was torture. They did all of this beside the tree which they put in the room I’m not allowed in. Honestly, you mistake a rug for a piddle pad once or three times too many…
     After things were untwisted, the people talked some more.  The one they all call Mama, the one who sits up with me late at night, kept saying the letters, “LED” over and over and wrinkling up her nose like she does when she tells me my toy is “nasty.” (It’s not, it’s delicious.) I don’t think she cares for whatever that LED thing is. The Fella took several of those strand thingies outside and the littles went with him. Then the one they call Mama twisted the rest of the wire thingies all around that tree.
    Can you imagine what that’s even about?
    When she was done, she stood back and then flipped a switch.
    They’ve been doing some pretty crazy things around here, like putting some lights in different places and putting these red and green things all over the place, but this was amazing.
    It was all lit up, that tree, only there was no fire like what the one they call Mama turns on in the living room at night. These were all sparkly and warm and I wanted to crawl right under that tree, drink from that big water bowl, and gaze up at the twinkly lights. And look for treats…
     Tonight they went through a box, each one of them, and they hung things on the tree. It’s the strangest thing I’ve ever seen. And they won’t let me anywhere near it. I can’t imagine why.
They keep me away from everything fun–the trash can, the mud puddles, and now this–this tree.
     I just don’t get it.

     But tonight I’m thankful my people are back home and that it looks like we’re going to bed a little earlier tonight.  I’m thankful for the food in my bowl and the water in my dish, but I still think that tree offers a lovely new eating venue.
     Most of all, I’m thankful for the happy faces and the singing of songs that keeps happening around here. It seems like they are more relaxed these days. And happy, relaxed people make for a happy Sophie.
     Love and barks to all. Sophie
That tree -  INSIDE the house with lights all over it! Have you ever heard of such?

A note from Tara: As I was stringing the lights on the tree this morning, I saw Miss Sophie watching intently from the other side of the gate. I wondered what she thought of all of the goings on, and she was more than happy to share. Tonight I’m thankful for that. And for a word my Daddy taught me long, long ago. Anthropomorphism. I love that word. Love to all.  
Tara Joyner Haussler
Visit Tara's : I Might Need A Nap Mama Said They Made Me Nicer

Throughout the adventures of my life, when I would get stressed or yes, let’s be honest, whiney, Mama would call me out. “You need a nap. Get some sleep. Things will look different after you get some rest.”


Saturday, November 22, 2014

Squeak by Jane-Ann Heitmueller


    Perhaps Methuselah would have been a more appropriate name for her, but at the time, we didn’t know she would live so long! Instead, we decided to call her Squeak, since that was the only sound she could utter around ten days of age when we found her.

     Even above the roar of the lawn mower, I thought I detected a strange, high-pitched noise. Probably just a bird, I rationalized to myself, but it certainly does sound like a tiny kitten in distress. Oh well, just my imagination I suppose. 

      However, when I finished mowing and turned off the engine, I knew, without a doubt,   what I heard was a frantic little kitten calling for help. This was not the usual meowing sound, rather an eeekkk, eeekkk, eeekkk, much like that of a squeaking rusty wheel. 

     There was no way I was going inside that hot August afternoon without locating the little critter. After all, she desperately needed me. I tried to call out and listened intently for her answer, in order to track the origin of those pathetic urgings. Quite soon, I discovered the sound came from under the barn floor. Stretching out flat, I peered under the boards into the darkness, and reached carefully inside calling, “Here, kitty, kitty. Here, kitty, kitty.”  

      Much to my delight, about ten feet away, I could faintly detect a tiny form wobbling straight toward me. There was none of the usual feline hissing, screeching, and scratching or hair-raising fear from this eager little character, who instinctively sensed I was not the enemy. She was absolutely correct. The two of us have been best buddies for almost twenty years now and “Squeak” has earned the well-deserved title of ‘Matriarch’ of our large menagerie of pets, with whom she has cohabitated or, in a few cases, simply endured over the years.  Clutching the fluffy little mite to my chest, I ran hastily into the house. 

       “Ray, Ray,” I excitedly yelled. “Look what I just found under the barn floor!” 

       He didn’t seem the least bit surprised by my joyous announcement. 

       “I know. I heard it a couple of days ago but didn’t tell you. I knew you’d find it sooner or later. That’s just what we need around here, another animal to look after,” he said with a sly grin. 

      “But it‘s so tiny and it’s all alone. I couldn’t just leave it there by itself. The poor little thing is hungry and scared.”   

      And so, as my sweet husband had done for me in so many similar instances over the years, he gave in and agreed to keep this squeaky little orphaned kitten. 

      But as Granny Johnson use to say, “There was a fly in the ointment.” 

      Although Ray puts up with my pets, I have always been their primary caregiver. He prefers to be simply an observer. It suddenly struck me that a slight problem might be in the works the next couple of days. You see, I had made plans to be out of town with a friend the coming weekend, but now I had this sightless, helpless little kitten to feed with an eyedropper every four hours. What to do, what to do? 

      “Dear, do you think you might be able to take care of Squeak while I’m gone? We’ll be back late Sunday afternoon. It’ll be easy. I’m sure you’ll do a good job.” 

      After the two of us negotiated the subject for a bit, he begrudgingly agreed to take care of the tiny black and white kitten while I was away. I knew he wasn’t keen on the prospect of this responsibility, but would do the best he could, thinking surely he could keep it alive for just two days. 

      Sunday evening I hardly said hello as I dashed in and abruptly dropped my suitcase with a thud by the back door.  

     “How’s the kitten? Is she alright? Where is she?” 

      Ray comfortably encased in his recliner reading the Sunday paper, nonchalantly glanced my way. 

      “Oh sure, she’s fine. She’s sound asleep over there in her basket, snug as a bug in a rug.” 

      “Did you get her to eat something while I was gone?”  

      “Yeah, she did just great. You can see for yourself. Her food bowl is empty.” 

       “Food bowl! What do you mean? Didn’t you feed her with the eyedropper? She doesn’t even know how to lap yet!” 

       “Oh, yes she does. After the two of us went round and round with that stupid eyedropper, I said… ‘To heck with this’. I put her milk in the saucer, stuck her face in it, and told her to eat or die. She’s been eating ever since. Squeak and I made it without any problem. Did you and Joyce have fun?” and with that he calmly resumed his reading. Stunned by his response all I could do was stand there in silence, not believing his words. 
     Yes indeed, Miss Squeak has been eating quite well ever since and has developed a personality definitely her own. I’m forever amazed at our ability to communicate with each other, not as simply cat to person, but friend to friend. I realize some folks might think this is weird thinking on my part, but just ask any animal person…they understand what I mean. This is her place and we are her people. After all, the choice was hers in the beginning. I sometimes wonder if her soul was here years before any of us occupied this old farm and it wouldn’t surprise me if it remains long after we are gone. 
About the author:
     An array of poems and short stories published by writer, Jane-Ann Heitmueller, can be read both on and off line. A few examples of the former teacher's work have appeared in Dew on the Kudzu, Nostalgia Magazine, Good Life Magazine, Stepping Stone Magazine, Yesterday's Memories, Ordinary and Sacred as Blood, Oxford So and So, Bodock Post, Nana's Corner and others. Heitmueller writes a monthly article for The Old Tennessee Valley Magazine and is presently putting the finishing touches on her soon to be released Kindle e-book Barnwood and Lace. She is part of the upcoming holiday anthology A Cup Of Christmas to be released December 2, 2014.

Read more about Barnwood and Lace on Genealogical e-Books web.


Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Author R. Leonia Shea, Legendary Magic, and The Dog Days Of Writing

It was a subtle transition.  At first, I dismissed it for a variety of reasons:  it's too hot, the ground is too damp, the humidity is too high.  I never thought it was just old age or the cataracts that clouded her big, brown eyes.  Instead of wanting to spend the days in the garden with her furry hip pressed against mine and her black nose twitching excitedly, she napped in her bed, sleeping contentedly while I read a book.  Every once in a while, she'd chase dream-rabbits with her small paws twitching, her ears pricked forward, and a doggy grin of joy flashing across her white muzzle. 

After a few weeks, I felt the need to do something and tried to coax her back outside.  She wasn't interested, so I had to find another way to amuse myself.  Soon, we replaced the chattering squirrels in the trees with air conditioned comfort and the clicking of computer keys.  I began writing to keep my dog company.    Between chapters, I would reach over and rub her belly while I thought up plot twists.  She would regard me with an interested expression, and I'd read snippets of my stories to her.  Listening to the words in my own voice gave me a sense of the cadence of my writing. 

My dog was the one who listened to my first manuscript.  She watched as I stared into space trying to come up with the next line, ever my patient companion.  As she grew older, we spent more days writing (okay, I wrote and she slept) and when we went out for walks she was my excuse to get some distance from a scene which just wasn't working.  When we returned home, I was refreshed and able to concentrate again.  She was ready for another nap. 

It is because of my dog that I finished several outlines and developed a few stories that I have since published.  The garden we once tended together has long since filled in with weeds, but I have found a new fertile ground to cultivate - my imagination. 

When the inevitable happened, my manuscripts went untouched for months.  Writing had become something that we did together and I found my grief paralyzing.  What had been routine became impossible, but eventually the impossible became therapeutic.  Writing soothed my lonely hands and I published the novel I had written on the living room floor years earlier.  It became Elementary Magic.

Naturally, there is a dog in that story.  The mythical trickster spirit Coyote is my tribute to my writing partner because she was indeed, my partner in everything.  She inspired me to be a better person than I ever thought possible, taught me compassion, patience, and fortitude.  She planted the garden in my imagination.

Although she was blind (almost overnight, as sometimes happens to diabetic dogs) she seemed unaffected by her condition.  In fact, she would sit in front of the window as if she were looking out it, and I would open the door so she could look outside on sunny days and feel the warmth of the sun on her fur.  She taught me just because you can't see something, doesn't mean it isn't there.  I made concessions to her blindness, her medical conditions, and her needs.  She made me a better person and a writer.

Many years have passed since then, and I have a new writing companion now.  She loves spending the day stretched out on the couch listening to clacking of the keys on my keyboard.  She rises before dawn with me and takes up her post on the couch in my office while I work.  She has taught me to approach everything as an adventure, to slow down and take the time to chase the moths that flutter around the patio lights, to explore the overgrown garden, and to take breaks to throw a ball or a stuffed toy instead of getting frustrated when a scene simply won't come together.   She is also the inspiration for the character of Coyote because to her, everything is fun and needs to be done immediately. 

The speed and cadence of my writing has changed as a result of the switch in writing companions.  My new co-author has a short attention span and a persistent nature, so I must get my thoughts down quickly because I never know when she'll present me with a toy and an invitation to play.   We have formed a partnership of our very own, one different from that of my first co-author, but one which reflects our relationship and our personalities. 

She listens when I read things aloud.  Paws at me when I've become too absorbed or when I seem frustrated.  She distracts me or lets me work for long stretches of time, and she is always there to lend a supportive ear.  She also keeps the area beneath my desk free from random goldfish crackers and pretzels.

I always write with a dog around.  They keep me centered, provide me with just enough distraction, and give me a non-judgmental ear.  They also keep me from becoming too serious.  Writing should be fun, and there should always be short breaks to rub bellies, throw balls, or just plan the next plot twist.  It's a garden of a different sort, and I have a partner to help me tend it. 

About the author:

R. Leonia Shea
R. Leonia Shea is a writer with the heart of an artist - or maybe it's the other way around. Either way, she can usually be found at her computer or in her studio creating something while worrying that there's something else she should be doing.

Come to think of it, she's one of those people who seems to always be torn between two things like art and writing or the mountains and the sea. Maybe she simply believes you can do it all - as long as you have supportive people around you.

Her latest release is Legendary Magic: Relic Hunter Book 3

The Books:

Find all R. Leonia Shea's books on Amazon.

 Published October 2014
Buy On Amazon
Dr. Arienne Cerasola might have a suspicious mind, but that doesn’t mean something nasty isn’t being planned by two of her former acquaintances. They have banded together on an archaeological expedition in the United Kingdom, and that could spell trouble for the magical community. The magical apocalypse kind of trouble.

As a witch and disgraced archaeologist, Arienne shouldn’t be surprised when Kingston Pon asks her help to find a lost relic. After all, Kingston is one of the senior members of the United Coven and Alliance and Arienne is one of the few people who knows about his secret resistance activities with the Crux Crucio Orbis. When she learns her own Grandfather is involved in the C.C.O., Arienne’s more than a little angry that her family has been keeping secrets. Secrets about their involvement in the magical world. Secrets about Arienne’s legacy. Keeping secrets means creating lies and Arienne is determined to unravel the deception even if it means collapsing the foundation of her new life.

Caught between the clandestine world of the C.C.O., the dangers of the Alliance, and the treachery of a new magical organization Arienne must trace the grain of truth in the legends passed down from the ancient Celts, through the Roman Empire, and right into King Arthur’s court. Legends that were created to protect the truth and keep the relic from passing into the wrong hands.

The confines of loyalty and duty make it an even more complicated quest. She might be the only one who can balance the power without collapsing the foundations that hold magic in check but to accomplish that, she’ll have to face the truth about herself, her family, and her place a world she was never really part of.

Links:  Amazon   Amazon Author Page   Author Web   FaceBook
              Twitter  @RLeonia1    Smashwords     Goodreads

Martha Conway, Author of Thieving Forest, and Her Dog Nico

Nico, Martha's golden doodle
Meet author Martha Conway and Nico today on Writer With Dogs. This post is part of the author's book blog tour for Thieving Forest with WOW! Women On Writing. Link back to Martha's original interview on The Muffin and follow the tour, dates and stops listed below.

Nico and Mini Me

I still have dreams about Willie, my childhood dog, who went with me to deliver papers on my paper route and often got tips (usually bones) from my customers at Christmastime when I did.

Willie was a mutt; my current wonderful dog is a golden doodle named Nico, whom I think of as a mutt, too. Sometimes she looks more like a teddy bear with her overgrown curly fur (technically hair, I guess), which nearly covers her eyes. As a city dog, Nico isn’t allowed to run down the sidewalks without a leash, which is fine because I don’t deliver papers anymore. But like Willie, Nico is as kind and loyal a dog as you could want.

About three years ago when I broke my leg skiing, I had to lie on a couch for two full months, and then for two months after that I still used crutches and couldn’t drive. I was basically housebound for four months. Having Nico lying on the carpet next to my couch every day for sure saved my sanity. I rigged up my laptop and bought a lot of music and worked non-stop on my novel, feeling a little like Margaret Mitchell when she wrote Gone with the Wind. (Apparently she grew up with a collie dog named “Colonel” after Teddy Roosevelt.) 

There’s no better way to write lots of pages than to be forced to stay sitting for hours on end. However, during that time I couldn’t get up and do research, like go for walks in the swamps and woods of northern California (my novel takes place mostly in the wilderness). But in a way Nico was my research. My novel has lots of animals in it —wild animals, for the most part, and very unlike my lovably cowardly dog— but animals that I needed to think about and describe. I spent a lot of time watching Nico: how her nose quivered when she was trying to work something out by smell (her first line of questioning); how her ears lay back when she was looking at a bird out the window; the way her muzzle dripped after drinking water.
I think I may have even added a few more animals to my narrative because of her!
Both Nico and I were overjoyed when I was able to take her out for walks again. Nowadays she will wait pointedly at the front door if I let too much time go by before I take her on her morning walk.
However, broken leg or no, during the day Nico is still my “mostly companion,” as Eloise at the Plaza Hotel said of her nanny. I truly feel that my dogs, both Willie and Nico, have always taken care of me. Nico barks too much and she jumps up on people coming into the house, but I can live with that. She knows when to lie by my side and give me that needed sense of companionship, and she wags her tail whenever I enter the room, even if her back is to the door.


I wish I could do that.

About The Book:

On a humid day in June 1806, on the edge of Ohio's Great Black Swamp, seventeen-year-old Susanna Quiner watches from behind a maple tree as a band of Potawatomi Indians kidnaps her four older sisters from their cabin. With both her parents dead from Swamp Fever and all the other settlers out in their fields, Susanna makes the rash decision to pursue them herself. What follows is a young woman's quest to find her sisters, and the parallel story of her sisters' new lives.

The frontier wilderness that Susanna must cross in order to find her sisters is filled with dangers, but Susanna, armed with superstition and belief in her own good luck, sets out with a naive optimism. Over the next five months, she tans hides in a Moravian missionary village; escapes down a river with a young native girl; discovers an eccentric white woman raising chickens in the middle of the Great Black Swamp; suffers from snakebite and near starvation; steals elk meat from wolves; and becomes a servant in a Native American village. The vast Great Black Swamp near Toledo, Ohio, which was once nearly the size of Connecticut, proves a formidable enemy. But help comes from unlikely characters, both Native American and white.

Thieving Forest explores the transformation of all five sisters as they contend with starvation, slavery, betrayal, and love. Fast-paced, richly detailed, with a panoramic view of cultures and people, this is a story of a bygone place sure to enthrall and delight.

Meet The Author:
Martha Conway has taught fiction at UC Berkeley Extension and at Stanford University’s Online Writer’s Studio. She tweets ten-minute prompts and exercises every day on twitter (#10minprompt, #WritingExercise) via @marthamconway.

Martha’s first novel 12 Bliss Street was nominated for an Edgar Award, and her short fiction has appeared in The Iowa Review, The Mississippi Review, The Quarterly, Folio, Puerto del Sol, Carolina Quarterly, and other publications.
She graduated from Vassar College and received her master’s degree in Creative Writing from San Francisco State University. She has reviewed fiction for the San Francisco Chronicle, The San Francisco Review of Books, and The Iowa Review, and is a recipient of a California Arts Council fellowship in Creative Writing. Born in Cleveland, Ohio, she now lives with her family in San Francisco.

See Martha's Blog Tour schedule below and links to her website, Amazon site, and social media.

Martha Conway Blog Tour Schedule (as of 9/4)
October 13 at The Muffin  http://muffin.wow-womenonwriting.com/  interview and giveaway
Oct. 14 at Writer with Dogs http://writerwithdogs.blogspot.com/ guest post
Oct. 15 at All Things Audry http://allthingsaudry.blogspot.com guest post
Oct. 16 at Book Talk www.barbarabarthbookblog.blogspot.com/ author showcase
Oct. 17 at Deal Sharing Aunt http://dealsharingaunt.blogspot.com/ guest post and giveaway
Oct. 19 at Writer Unboxed www.writerunboxed.com guest post
Oct. 21 at Katherine Hajer http://www.katherine-hajer.com/ guest post
Oct. 22 at Caroline Clemmons http://carolineclemmons.blogspot.com guest post
Oct. 23 at Renee’s Pages www.reneespages.blogspot.com guest post
Oct. 24 at A Writer’s Devotion http://www.awritersdevotion.blogspot.com/ interview
Oct. 27 at Katherine Hajer http://www.katherine-hajer.com/ review
Oct. 29 at Words by Webb http://jodiwebb.com interview and review
Nov. 3 at Lisa Haselton’s Reviews and Interviews http://lisahaseltonsreviewsandinterviews.blogspot.com interview
Nov. 6 at Escaping Reality Within Pages http://escapingrealitywithinpages.blogspot.com/ guest post, review and giveaway
Nov. 11 at The Lit Ladies http://www.thelitladies.com/ interview
Nov. 12 at Kathleen Pooler http://krpooler.com/blog guest post, review and giveaway
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