New Book Launch (Soon!)

This blog has three purposes. First, I’m very excited that The Assignments (my fourth novel in six years) is probably two weeks away from launch. The last steps include final proofreading and cover design. For the first part, as long and hard as a writer works and the elation (relief?) of finishing, the last check before printing is painfully slow. Catching random typos hidden amongst seventy thousand words or more (for example, a sentence without a period at the end or a spoken part that ends with a backward quotation mark,) is like picking up pieces of broken glass. You think you found them all and then notice one in a place you swore you checked carefully. Under the theory that there is never just one cockroach, you search again (and then again.) For the second part, I expect to see the draft book cover any day now. You never know how many adjustments will be required to align the designer’s vision and my description of the book’s major themes. In any event, everything is falling into place. Stay tuned!

Shifting Gears to Futuristic Short Stories?

I’m thinking about what’s next. One thing I am considering is giving full-length novels a rest for a while and writing short stories. Many famous authors started by creating pieces that took only fifteen or twenty minutes to read. I’m also thinking about switching or adjusting genres to add a futuristic flavor. I want to depict how technology affects society, either today or in the future. This topic fascinates me. I’m doing more research and, it seems with each new book or article I read, my interest grows. I already have on my list of future blog posts, the topic: Will a computer have written the next novel you read?

A Tribute to Belle

Given the relative calm, my mind turned to the fact it is almost May! Everyone I speak with agrees that time is moving faster than it used to. Christmas seems like last month. One thing I reflected on a lot over the holidays was our grand-dog. Her name was Belle. (Pronounced “Bell-ah.”)

With full deference to those who prefer cats (or some other type of pet,) I could write pages about how owning a dog or being close to one can change your life in an immensely positive, almost mysterious way. I’ve lived with or close to dogs most of my life. My grandmother bred and trained English Setters. When I was younger, our Collie used to be waiting for me when I got off the school bus to walk home (on its own. It knew when to ask to be let out and where to go.) One of our Labs figured out how to open a built-in sliding garbage drawer with her teeth. I have many more stories. If you are a dog fan, you have your own.

However, of all the dogs I’ve ever known, Belle was truly unique. She was a beautiful, well-tempered, loving and a little naughty nine-year old Greater Swiss Mountain Dog. Faced with the hair and whisker tugging from a triad of young children, this dog never uttered the slightest hint of a snarl. She would just give her tail a wag and move to a different spot. I’ve never known a canine that made better eye contact. I swear that if a dog could smile, Belle did. She was simply the happiest dog I’ve ever known (especially so if you scratched that special spot on her back.)

Many larger dog breeds don’t live much past ten years and, for some reason this kind is more fragile than many. Belle contracted what they thought was a stomach disease late last year and she stubbornly resisted eating. Her coat remained beautiful but her weight kept declining. The vet tried everything, eventually concluding it might be cancer, but by that time, she was too weak for treatment. We had the privilege of dog sitting while Belle’s family was out west for a short holiday family visit. I looked at her and she looked right back. I wondered what she felt. She must have known something was wrong. She didn’t ever seem to be in any pain, which was a blessing.

My intent here is not to try to tell the saddest dog story. Anyone with pets must go through the end at some point. However, since life is always so busy, with so much going on, I didn’t want more time to pass by without dedicating a blog post to one hell of a dog whose beautiful journey ended.

There was a lot to learn from her. Try to be happy, smile, enjoy a good scratch and, if someone is bothering you, just move somewhere else.