Vizsla! A Love Story – Part One

We’ve welcomed a new Fuzzy into our home and she wants to say hello:

Hi there! I am Wirehaired Vizsla Point of Honor Vizcaya Dallas, but you can call me Afton...or Ashton....or Aston.

Hi there! I am Wirehaired Vizsla Point of Honor Vizcaya Dallas, but you can call me Afton…or Ashton….or Aston.

She’s a 4-year-old spayed female. Her breeder calls her Afton, after Afton Cooper from the original Dallas series, but our lips &/or brains can’t seem to spit out that name on a consistent basis. We seem to be calling her Ashton more often than not, and she responds very well to Ashton. So…yeah. Probably Ashton.

Although her coat is considered undesirable for breeding or showing, her heart is perfect for loving.

That said, she does have a few behavioral issues, including a quirky little phobia related to persons of the male persuasion. It’s not a constant problem, mind you. Just when the scary two-legged male persons move around without her permission….or cough…or, you know, do man things. Apparently, this troublesome phobia has made it difficult to place her in a permanent, forever home. Until now.

The man of THIS household is decent, kind, patient to the core and infinitely gentle with nervous dogs.

Technically, we only have Afton/Ashton for a trial period right now, but I am in love, love, LOVE with this fuzzy love monkey. Michael is slower to declare his feelings, but I believe he is also hopelessly smitten.

In order to fully explain how over-the-moon thrilled I am by this unexpected turn of events, I’ll have to tell you a star-crossed love story from my past….

Once upon a time (almost 20 years ago), I took a job as a full-time dispatcher for the Cruelty Investigations and Animal Rescue unit in a large, metropolitan humane society. (I LIVED Animal Cops before it was a TV show on Animal Planet). Looking back now, it was one of those “best of times, worst of times” experiences but I’m not going to get into all the nitty gritty details from that period of my life. I just want to tell you about one particular case.

(*cue Dragnet theme music*)

It was a sunny, sweltering hot summer day. I received a call from the Airport Police Department. They had an animal cruelty case involving two dogs in a locked car…only one was responsive. The officers on the scene needed a humane officer to take custody of the dogs and advise on the charges to be filed against the owner. It sounded like an ugly situation, so I radioed the officers on duty to get out there as quickly as possible. They returned to the shelter with a deceased Rottweiler and a sweet little bundle of anxiety who looked a lot like this:

Sad Vizsla“It’s a Veeezuuuhluuuh,” Officer Manion told me, squinting at his case notes. “V-I-Z-S-L-A. Hungarian hunting breed.” The refugee in question had her whole body pressed against my leg with her head glued to my lap while I entered her information into our intake computer using my right hand. My left hand couldn’t stop stroking her velvety ears and smoothing the worried wrinkles on her brow. Even as her tail thumped the floor, she continued to cast nervous looks back and forth between me and Manion.

“She’s a very sweet doggie,” Manion said, (Hello, Captain Obvious.) “but she’s had a rough day. If you want, keep her here with you for a while before you put her into a kennel for the night.”

One of the best, most wonderful perks of being a humane society dispatcher is getting to bring some of the rescued pets into the back office for some one-on-one time. I couldn’t afford my own dog at the time, so spending time with these temporary companions was important to me. During the few short weeks she was in our custody, I brought the Vizsla into the office as often as I could. (Notice I have not mentioned her name. That’s because I don’t remember it. We were all enchanted with the word Vizsla and she responded when anyone called her Vizsla, so that was the only name we used during her entire stay.)

Everyone warned me not to get attached to her, but I couldn’t help falling deeply in love our darling Vizsla…even though she could never be MY dog.

This is not a tragedy, at least not for the Vizsla. I feel certain that dog lived a long, happy, healthy life. But after she walked out of our shelter, I never saw her again.

Skip ahead a few years to an all-breed dog show where I was watching the final Best in Show contenders file into the ring. Sitting alone on the cold, cement floor, I suddenly became aware of a gentle warming pressure along my back. Turning my head slowly, I came nose-to-nose with a face that looked a little like this:

Vizsla FaceHer owner/breeder could not stop giggling. “I think she thinks you’re related,” she said. “Your hair…” As she broke into another fit of giggles, I gathered my hair into a side ponytail and draped it over the dog’s head. Back then, I used to color my hair a coppery red that matched the dogs coat. I mean it matched EXACTLY. We sat like that, the Vizsla’s head on my shoulder with my hair falling over her ears while her owner took some pictures and I quizzed her about the personality and temperament of Vizslas.

I walked away from that encounter absolutely convinced that a Vizsla was my dream dog, the perfect companion for me. Energetic, but willing to cuddle for hours. Intelligent and sensitive without being neurotic. Obviously gentle and affectionate. But my lifestyle choices and finances still would not support dog ownership at that time. So it was a dream that I would have to put on hold indefinitely….

[To be continued...]

photo credit: hasensaft via photopin cc & peteaylward via photopin cc

Coming Soon: Haunted Dahlonega Walking Tours

2014 Dahlonega Ghost Tour Poster

This is the project that has been absorbing all of my time and attention over the past month and I’m very, VERY excited to tell you more. But I can’t share any details right now. The new script I’m working on for this year’s tour is still in the super secret development stage. So, for now, I’m just posting this as a Coming Attraction. Look for more information coming soon!

 

Happy July 4th!

20140704-185838-68318450.jpg
Repeat after me:
At this moment, there is no tomorrow.
At this moment, there is no yesterday.
At this moment, there is only today.
(Now breathe. Just breathe.)

This has been your moment of zen with Trisha & her Mister.

If your holiday is half as wonderful as ours, it must be spectacular. Enjoy!

Join the #WriteChain Challenge – Get Stuff Done

Click here for the Write Chain App

Click here to learn about the Write Chain App

I’ve been busy plotting and planning and re-plotting that same paranormal mystery/ghost novel I’ve mentioned here…oh, a FEW times. Wow. I never knew how wonderfully creative and energizing it can be to plan out an entire novel from first to final scene. I might even go so far as to call it hypnotic. However, there comes a time in every author’s process when you’ve got to dive in and type your way through that awful first draft. At least, that’s what I’ve been telling myself for the past week. Then, instead of actually writing, I circle around my MacBook waiting for the keyboard to emit magical, magnetic writerly waves that will attract my lazy fingers to start typing.

Yeah…that’s not working so well. Once again, I find myself in need of motivation with a swift kick of accountability built in. Luckily, I discovered this lovely website called Writerology where someone named Skye recently posted a Write Chain Challenge. I’ve had the Write Chain app on my iPhone for…hmmmm roughly 4 months now. I just have never actually ever used the thing. Well this challenge will get me using the app.

It’s a simple strategy:

  1. Come up with a daily writing goal. My goal is 500 words of fiction or blogging per day. Note: That may not sound terribly ambitious goal but I need a goal I can stick to on a BAD writing day.
  2. Tell the world about your goal on multiple social media platforms. (Check)
  3. Write and meet your goal every single day to earn links in a chain. 1 day at or above goal = 1 link.
  4. Track your daily progress on the Write Chain App if you have an iPhone…or there’s another option for you nutty Android users
  5. Post on Twitter to brag about meeting your goal, how many links you have earned, etc.
  6. Most important part! Miss your goal even one day, your chain goes back to 0 links. All of the links disappear. (On the bright side, all those words you’ve written are still yours to keep, edit, polish & submit).
  7. Start the chain all over again…or give up and find a Book Coach with a loaded gun.

So…in case you have not guessed, I’m posting this here for two reasons:

  1. Any writerly friends out there having trouble meeting your writing goals? Want to join me? Go here and sign up. It’s free…and it could be fun. We could Tweet trash talk to each other. Brag, cheer and heckle each other. Come on, you know you want to just do it. Join me and together we can rule the galaxy…or just finish our projects faster.
  2. This post counts as 450 words toward my daily writing goal. Boom!

Writing Weird – Tarot & The Hermit

TarotThere’s a deck of tarot cards near my writing desk at all times. It’s not the usual sort of deck, like the one pictured above (which always makes me think of Jane Seymour as Solitaire in Live and Let Die). My tarot is the Voyager Tarot. It’s a beautiful deck of photo-collage art with images from many cultures and religions.

I don’t keep it here to give readings (though it has made a few appearances at social gatherings with a select group of intimate friends). It’s not here to guide my love life or any financial decisions. I use it to help me write fiction.

Aside from my MacBook, notebooks and pencils, I believe this tarot deck is the most useful tool in my writer’s toolbox. It helps me build multidimensional characters with complex motives and desires. It’s a wonderful tool to play with plot structure and character arc. I have a few other oracle-type decks with some gorgeous artwork, but it is always my well-worn Voyager cards that help me sort out my worst plot problems and/or reignite my relationship with my characters.

To do this, I don’t shuffle and lay out the cards randomly hoping the universe will send a message about my current project. I tend to look through the whole deck, pulling the cards with images that seem to apply to the particular character or plot issue I’m working to resolve. Then I’ll arrange and re-arrange my selections into patterns until something clicks. And something usually clicks pretty quickly.

One Google search for “writer’s tarot” proves that I am not the only author who does this. There’s even a book called Tarot for Writers and Beth Barany has created a Writer’s Tarot Deck. That said, there are probably plenty of people who would think I’m twisted and weird for plotting books with tarot…and maybe they are right.

Speaking of weird…I told you all of the above so I could tell you this next thing.

Sometimes the tarot deck does freaky things. For example, last month the same card kept “jumping” out of the deck over and over. When I pulled the deck out of a desk drawer, the card fell on the floor. Later, while shuffling and sorting through the deck, the same card fell into my lap. It wasn’t one of my favorite images and it didn’t seem to have any relevance to my plotting questions, so I stuck it back into the middle of the deck and set everything aside. Thirty minutes later, Zoey jumped up on my writing desk to make a nuisance of herself while I was trying to write. Frustrated that I refused to quit typing to pet her properly, she deliberately shoved about 1/3 of the tarot deck off my desk. All of the cards landed face down except for one…yep, it was the same *bleep*ing card staring up at me.

The Hermit…

Hermit Type Photo

The Hermit – soul-searching, introspection, inner guidance

Which always makes me think about a certain “strange old hermit” who lived out beyond the Dune Sea (a.k.a Obi-Wan Kenobi). In the traditional tarot images, The Hermit could very well be a mystical Jedi Master…or a wizard…or a monk. It is one of the few traditional tarot images that I prefer over the Voyager version. So I took the time to research the card online.

Now I won’t get into all of the mystical, magical interpretations for this major arcana tarot card (because, honestly, I don’t remember most of what I read). The gist of The Hermit’s message is all about “going into the cave” to meditate, reflect and re-energize. At the time this card kept presenting itself to me, I was physically, mentally and emotionally exhausted. The details are unimportant, but I needed to unplug. And it felt like this silly little card with its three appearances in one day was giving me permission to do just that.

So I unplugged from just about everything that wasn’t absolutely essential for one month. And it felt soooooooooooo good!

Here’s the thing. This “going into the cave” routine is another important writer’s tool. For me, it is even more essential than the MacBook or notebooks or writing utensils. I know that all of the marketing wisdom is dead set against this hermit-like behavior. Oh well. Sometimes it is a mental health necessity.

During my month of unplugging we finished moving into our new house and I set up a new writing room. I created a 5 x 4 foot chalkboard (more on that another day), read lots of books, took some online writing tutorials and worked on Snowflake Plotting. Now my writerly batteries feel recharged and ready to go.

What do you do to recharge your batteries?

photo credits: ukslim via photopin cc & h.koppdelaney via photopin cc

Dahlonega Library Book Signing Event Tomorrow (5/17)

Stormtrooper Loves Libraries

WHAT?    Not So Long Ago, Not So Far Away Book Signing Event
WHERE? Lumpkin County Library
WHEN?   Saturday 5/17/14 – 11:30 am – 1:30 pm
WHY?      Because I’m giving away free Millennium Falcon soaps to anyone who buys my book…and to anyone who bought my book or eBook in the past…and to anyone who can beat me at a Star Wars trivia duel.

Note: The library is also hosting “Touch-A-Truck Family Day” and a Genealogy Workshop on Saturday around the same time, so there’s something for everyone at the Library tomorrow.

Also….(drumroll, please) it’s the Mountain Flower Art Festival in Dahlonega this weekend. So it’s a great weekend for non-locals to visit Dahlonega (and a great excuse for Locals to get away from the traffic on the square to visit the library).Stormtrooper in Libraryphoto credits: ALA – The American Library Association via photopin cc & Clearwater Public Library System Photos via photopin cc

May the 4th Be With You – eBook Promotion

2Troopers_This is the fangirl novel you're looking for_CropThe great and wise Jedi Masters over at Deeds Publishing have slashed the eBook price for Not So Long Ago, Not So Far Away by 70% for the first 4 days of May to celebrate Star Wars Day. The temporary low price of $2.99 is currently available in all 3 of the major eBook formats:

But act quickly. The price is going back up on Monday May 5.

And speaking of the merry, merry month of May…it is shaping up to be a great and glorious month for Star Wars fangirling. The community is still buzzing over the Star Wars: Episode VII cast announcement on April 29th. Look at this picture:

star-wars-episode-7-cast-announce*SIGH* If this picture makes you go “SQEEE!” like a tween unwrapping her first iPhone, you just might be a true, original, lifelong, R2-D2 Underoos-wearing Star Wars fanatic. (Ummm…but could someone please get Artoo out of the crate?)

Today is 5/01st Legion Day to celebrate The World’s Definitive Imperial Costuming Organization, especially their charity work. (Check out @501stLegion & #BadGuysDoingGood on Twitter to learn more). As previously mentioned, May the 4th is Star Wars Day. And, lest we forget, May 25th will be the 37th anniversary for the 1977 theatrical release of the first Star Wars movie.

Woo hoo! The Twitterverse and Pinterest are exploding with fabulous, fun, time-sucking Star Wars content. And I’m going to let myself wallow in it for 4 days. Then back to my previously scheduled writing goals. 

Note: If you see a particularly amusing #StarWars, #StarWarsDay, &/or #Maythe4thBeWithYou item that you want to share, please Tweet it to @SlaytheWriter, post the link in the comments below or post it to my Facebook. I am on all Star Wars all the time mode until Cinco De Mayo.