Saturday, August 16, 2014

Guest post from my dog

photo by Tenna Perry
Hi, all! Ummm…my name is Vander and I’m filling in for mom for this blog post. She was supposed to write about how she spent her summer vacation but she’s busy with promotion for her latest release from The Wild Rose Press and trying to get my two daughters trained to walk on a lead. Good luck with those two, Mom. They’re way too much like their mother. Never met a more a hard-headed bitch than Dixie. (And, I’m not calling her a bad name. In my world, dogs are male and bitches aren’t.)

Anyway…how did Mom spend her summer vacation? Let’s see, we played dog show until the first weekend of June. I went to those shows but didn’t get to play because I thought it would be a wise move to shed all my coat the weekend before. Mom was so not impressed with my idea to shed. But, I got to cheer for my buddies Driver and Dealie while we were in Biloxi. And on the way home from that trip, we stopped and spent a couple of days at Aunt Jacque’s house in Tennessee.

I LOVE staying with Aunt Jacque. All of us get to get out of the van and run for hours. We like it there so much sometimes Mom stays an extra day just because she can. Aunt Jacque’s got the coolest place in the woods there—lots to see and bark at. There’s a couple of deer who wander through every morning about 4 AM. I’ve seen turkeys, hundreds of squirrels (I hate squirrels because they don’t play fair), birds, and even a pot-bellied pig. And one of my girlfriends lives there. Plus, I get to tease my big brother, Arizona, and my nephew, Wyatt. Wyatt is a jerk, BTW.

Apparently Mom and Aunt Tenna (one of our traveling to dog show buddies) like it so much at Aunt Jacque’s that when some property right next to Aunt Jacque came up for sale, Mom and Aunt Tenna bought it. I wouldn’t mind living in Tennessee. The winters aren’t as cold and snowy there as they are here in Indiana.

photo by Johanna Lance
Mom spent most of the summer making dog show leads, watching movies (and let me tell you, I AM SICK of Man of Steel and if she names a dog around here “Clark” I’m gonna puke!), and writing her third book. She told me that she’s dedicating it to me—because I make her smile. I don’t know what it is that I do to make her smile, but she does smile a lot when she looks at me. She makes me happy, too. I love to play dog show and get all the cookies she feeds me while we’re playing but we don’t play dog show in the summer because it’s too hot for us (the collies) to have to run around a ring and Mom says she hates really hot, humid weather. (Me, too!)


So, that’s been our summer. I’ve been told that my vacation is almost over and we’ll be back to playing dog show. If you’ll excuse me, I need to go practice my show pose. I’m a bit rusty.

Later…Vander

P.S. Oh, we’ve also been following the story all summer long about Piper the sheltie being kept from her owner by the Central Ohio Sheltie Rescue. All Mom and I have to say about this is #BRINGPIPERHOME
head study by Tenna Perry




Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Jump or Move Back

Yesterday, I felt as if I lost an old friend. I didn’t know him personally, but I thought the man was a comic genius, an incredible dramatic actor, and from what I did know of him, someone who was a genuinely decent and good human being. Robin Williams took his own life yesterday. Not out of an attempt for attention, but because as someone who suffered from severe depression he had apparently reached the point where there was no more rope to tie a knot into and hang on for dear life. The prospect of a life without the crushing sadness, without the continual physical pain of depression, without the agony of psychological pain was greater than the need to continue that struggle.

I know that struggle. Like Robin Williams (and countless others), I struggle on a daily basis with severe, clinical depression. I have Type II bipolar disorder. I go from periods of extreme manic (how does ANYONE think I can write a 65K+ manuscript in 10 days?) to crushing depression when the effort to even get out of bed is too much of a battle. Add in the perpetual battle with insomnia that even prescription medication will not touch and that depression becomes greater. I haven’t self-medicated with alcohol or drugs, but I can fully understand the temptation. ANYTHING to stop the pain…even the eternal numbness of death.

Depression is real. Depression is a killer—it is a silent, relentless, merciless killer. The bottom side of the never-ending cycle of manic/depressive behavior is a very, very dark place. Sometimes, it feels so dark that not even light can escape from it. Like most people with a depressive disorder, I can feel the changes in my thought-process before it even starts. For me, there’s a sense of being disconnected from everyone and everything around me. There’s a sense of hopelessness that becomes overwhelming and seems to dim everything. By the time the depression sets in, the actual physical pain is unrelenting.

I had started that downward spiral several days before the announcement of Robin Williams’s death. The announcement did several things to me. It kicked me fully into that dark place that depressives both fear and yearn for—because amazingly, within that dark place, we are so numb that the pain and heartache doesn’t seem to hurt so much. We fear that dark, dark place because it also skews our thought-process. We start thinking that if the darkness numbs the pain, how much better will we feel if we never have to leave that place and if we can make the numbness, the darkness, the painlessness complete? What would it take to make it complete, to make the pain go away?

If you know someone with depression, please, let them know you are there for them. Understand there is NOTHING you can do to help them, but you can save them. Just be there. Hold that person’s hand and help them hold on; tell them you will hold them until they can find the strength to go on; let them draw on your strength because sometimes, even just one second more of life is enough to change the through process from ending the pain to being willing to endure it for another minute…or day…or a lifetime.

A true depressive will not threaten suicide. We just do it. Ninety percent of depressives who commit suicide gave no warning. I was watching a stand-up routine Williams did with HBO last night and there came a part of the routine where he was talking about his recovery from alcohol and how alcohol affects the brain—shuts off the conscience, and he compared it to that little voice in the back of one’s head when you are on top of a very tall building and look over the edge. He said that little voice whispers, “Jump.” A chill went up my spine with those words and there was almost dead silence in the audience. He recovered quickly, realizing the joke didn’t have the impact he was looking for—but in that moment, everyone in that audience and everyone who has ever viewed that program had a glimpse into the skewed thought process of a manic/depressive. Most people don’t hear “Jump” when looking over the edge. They hear “GET THE HELL AWAY FROM THE EDGE!”

I’m forcing myself to write this because I’m hearing “Jump.” I’m hurting all over. Depression is physical pain. The uptake receptors in a depressive’s brain don’t work right. The darkness is closing in. Asking me what’s wrong doesn’t help because there is nothing situational that can be changed to alter this depression. Trying to tell me what I have to live for is a form of trying to shame the depressive into a better mood—the old “snap out of it” line. I know damn good and well what I have to live for. Unfortunately, that little voice still says “Jump.”

I know what I have to do to silence that voice and I will do what I need to do to continue living. That is my promise to myself, to the people who love me, and the people who care about me. Silencing the voice telling me to jump and continuing to live are two different things. That voice will never be fully silenced. The only way to silence that voice forever is to enter the darkness for one last time and surrender, and I don’t think I’m ready to surrender.


Thursday, August 7, 2014

First Step


Okay, it’s time to ’fess up. I have been told that the first step to recovery is admitting I have a problem. So, here’s my confession: My name is Lynda and I’m addicted to office supplies. Yep, pens, pencils, paper (OMG—the smell of reams of paper!), paper and binder clips…so this time of year is incredibly difficult for my self-restraint. Walk into ANY store in town and I find a display of back to school supplies. Those almost always include pens, pencils, paper…Well, you get the idea.

I can’t walk past these displays without touching the multi-packs of mechanical pencils (my favorites because I don’t have to keep sharpening them to keep a fine point), the pens (gel-pens and super-fine tip make me giddy), pads of paper. And, the packages of paper clips in a myriad of colors and different shapes…Did you know that you can get paperclips shaped like hearts, and little feet, and hands…and…Where was I? Oh, yeah…

I’m addicted to office supplies. My grand-daughter has discovered Grandma’s stash of pens, colored pencils, markers, highlighters, crayons (yes, I have those, too) and mechanical pencils in a large drawer in my office desk. She comes trotting in on a regular basis asking to borrow a few. Part of me growls when she even thinks about touching them but the larger part of me forces a smile and tells her she can borrow whatever she wants, she just has to be sure to put them all back when she’s done using them. And, she always forgets to put back the items she’s borrowed, so after a while, I wander through the house, collecting the abandoned writing instruments and carefully putting them back where they belong.

I’m afraid that my addiction is contagious, because while my grand-daughter may borrow writing/drawing utensils from me, she is also growing her own collection of crayons, colored pencils, pencils, markers, and highlighters. I may be creating a monster.

I do try to rationalize my addiction by comforting myself that when the grandchildren visit, I have plenty of paper and crayons, colored pencils and markers for them to draw and create with. And, if the zombie apocalypse happens, I’ll be able to still write—all be it long-hand—and I can probably completely secure our location with a fortress built of paper and binder clips.

See, it’s not all bad, is it?



Sunday, August 3, 2014

An American Icon



 Last night, I watched The Searchers again. I have lost track of how often I have watched that movie. Yet, there is something about it that demands a reviewing on a consistent basis. I’ve written a few blogs about what a masterpiece this movie is, so I won’t go into that again. What led to this blog post, though, was a quote from The Duke on the door to my office.

That quote got me to thinking if I could find other quotes from John Wayne. A quick Google search revealed over 1.7 million hits within the search parameters of “John Wayne”. Apparently more than thirty years after his death from cancer, The Duke is still popular.

Here are some of my favorites that I found which can be attributed to John Wayne:
John Wayne was unapologetic in his patriotism and love of country, so it was no surprise to find that he said this: “Sure, I wave the American flag. Do you know a better one?” Nope, Duke, I sure don’t. And, while he was lambasted and lampooned for that staunch patriotism, Wayne never flinched. When he was invited to Harvard to attend the annual lampooning banquet and knowing he was the one who was going to be lampooned in that elitist environment, Wayne made the most of it. He arrived in a borrowed tank.

War movies and Westerns…those are what we remember John Wayne’s career for. He apparently had a few things to say about Westerns, things that still resonate today about what he saw as simple basic truths and values (especially with this Western historical romance author). Of the appeal of the Western, he said: “Put a man on a horse, and right off you’ve got the making of something magnificent. Physical strength, speed where you can feel it, plus heroism. And the hero, he’s big and strong. You pit another strong man against him, with both their lives at stake, and right there’s a simplicity of conflict you just can’t beat.”

Wayne was also a staunch defender of the genre. In defense of the Western he is quoted as saying “Don’t even for a minute make the mistake of looking down your nose at Westerns. They’re art—the good ones, I mean. Sure, they’re simple, but simplicity is art. They deal in life and sudden death and primitive struggle, and with the basic emotions—love, hate, and anger—thrown in.”

John Wayne played John Wayne playing John Wayne—or at least that was the criticism of his acting skills. When confronted on that shortly after losing the Oscar for True Grit, Wayne said, “I play John Wayne in every part regardless of the character and I’ve been doing okay, haven’t I?” Another time, when asked in an interview what set him apart from other Western movie idols, Wayne is reported to have thought about his answer for as long as it took to finish smoking the cigarette he’d just lit. As he ground the butt out, he said just two words: “John Ford.”

Wayne’s loyalty to those around him, to his friends and family was legendary. He had little tolerance for racism and bigotry. The anecdotes of his lack of racism and bigotry are many—told by former cast members, members of the filming crew, and members of the extras used on set. He was incredibly well-read and highly intellectual—something of a surprise to Lee Marvin, who was also rumored to have been a bumbling ignoramus. When the men began comparing notes on the set of a movie they were filming together on the next book to read as filming a movie involves a lot of down time Marvin said something to The Duke about not being anything like the stereotype he was depicted as. Wayne leaned in and said, “Let’s just keep this among ourselves, shall we?”

When criticized about some of the violence in his movies, Wayne admitted that he had been in movies where he was depicted as killing people, but those people were killed because they violated the code. That code was what he lived his life by: honesty, loyalty, being true to one's word, and strength of character. Because of his iconic status, Wayne was once quoted as saying he never wanted to make a movie that he would be embarrassed to take his mother, his wife, or his daughters to go see. He understood that he had another role to play outside of the movies because of the respect that he had earned from the movie-going public.

God, I miss The Duke.



Thursday, July 31, 2014

Letting Go

My heart was shredded today, left bleeding on a table, and then patched back up. I don’t think I’ll ever be the same again. Today, in Clay Circuit court, our guardianship of my beautiful grand-daughter came to an end.

We reached an agreement with Jade’s mom for visitation (very liberal, I will add because Jadie will be staying with us except for three days a week). This visitation will be written into the agreement and become an order of the court. Jadie’s mom, Ken, and I all agreed that until after Jadie’s father’s trial, her uncle D.J. will continue to pick her up on Tuesdays and take her to see her dad for half an hour and then D.J. and his family can spend time with Jadie.

Jadie’s dad was in the court room today, and let me tell you, it was horrible to see him in striped pajamas and shackled with a waist chain, hand-cuffed to that waist chain, and fettered around the ankles. I am in no way condoning what he has done—but, for a while there, he seemed to have his life in order. What made it so horrible was at no time did he ever once admit that where he was and the circumstances he found himself in were his fault, through his choices. He made promises that I’ve heard over and over in the past six years, promises to do better when he is released, promises to never put her in harm’s way…

And, I have to trust that Jadie’s mom will abide by the court order. A large part of me believes she will, because she does love her daughter very much and says she wants what is best for Jadie. Yet, there is so much broken trust between the two of us.


I’m just going to have to let go and pray. And, I’m not really good at letting go…

Monday, July 28, 2014

Chocolate Frosting by the Spoonful

I’m having a pity party. A full-blown, eating ready-made chocolate frosting from the container by the spoonful, moping, whining pity party…

Why the pity party? BECAUSE I CAN!

Seriously, because I can. Because my proverbial, literary hide should be a whole lot tougher and I really thought it was. Because when someone leaves a review on my Amazon page that leaves me scratching my head and asking myself if that reviewer even read the book, my first instinct is to rip into said reviewer with every weapon at my disposal, call them out into the middle of a dusty street and suggest they slap leather. (Unfortunately, that’s illegal and I really do not look good in prison jumpsuit orange—or any shade of orange, for that matter.) My second instinct is to curl up in a ball, whimper like a frightened puppy, and eat ready-made chocolate frosting from the container by the spoonful. My third instinct is to do what I do best, and that’s write. (Lemme finish this container of frosting, first.)

My hackles come way up when it’s suggested I ripped off the plot line of an old movie, even if it is a John Wayne movie, as much as I love The Duke. As any of my former students in college freshman composition will tell you, if I even think a paper is plagiarized, I’m on the war path and may God Almighty have mercy on your soul. For the record—here are the similarities between that John Wayne movie (Angel and the Badman) and The Devil’s Own Desperado. Wayne played a character named Quirt Evans. My character’s name is Colt Evans. Quirt is a shootist who gets shot and ends up at the home of a family of Quakers. Colt is a shootist who gets shot and ends up at the home of a young woman raising her younger brother and sister. (I wonder how many Western novels, romance or not, have an injured gunfighter showing up on the doorstep of the female protagonist. Oh, wait…it’s a standard trope of the genre, actually.) Both men hang up the iron by the end of the movie/book and stay with the female protagonist. End of the similarities. Quirt never agonizes over the decision to take up hanging onto a plow. Colt knows he can’t hang up his revolver because he knows that it’s a question of when and not if his past finds him and he not about to leave Amy and her younger siblings in the line of fire. There are no battles over water rights in my novel, I’ve got a young woman orphaned by gunmen raising her younger siblings, and her father was a gunman who hid his past behind a preacher’s collar. The only things quaking in my novel are aspen trees.

This reviewer also said that I was using idioms in the wrong context so that they meant exactly the opposite of what was implied. Riiiiiiiight…NO. I had two multi-published and highly respected Western historical writers read the final draft before I started to shop it to publishers. One of those writers has won the Spur Award twice and was short listed for the Pulitzer. She was checking my idiom usage and the slang of the period. I trust her judgment.

Oh, and the comment about needing an editor…maybe I should tell MY EDITOR at my publisher that I need an editor. She’ll probably get a chuckle out of that.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I still have some chocolate frosting to eat before I go write my hero and heroine out of a particularly nasty situation.



Sunday, July 20, 2014

What Dreams Are Made Of

GCh. Wych's Prince of Summer "Snape"
photo credit: Erin Gorney/Fuzzy Feet Photography
So, I’m sitting at my desk, thinking about nothing in general and watching Dixie sleeping in her whelping box. And, that got me to thinking in a very specific direction. This is the first planned breeding I have done in more than six years. The last litters three years ago I had weren’t planned by me, but they were planned by Junior, who climbed the fence while we were on vacation to be in the same large yard with the girls who were in season. Thanks, Junior…NOT. But, even that wasn’t bad because one of the girls Junior bred, while it wasn’t the optimum breeding I would have done with her, still combined pedigrees and blended well. The only puppy, Miss Ziva, from that litter shown finished her championship under both all-breed and specialty judges. Ziva carries a legacy pedigree, through being line-bred on GCh Wych’s Prince of Summer—Snape. There are genetics she carries that many thought had been lost.





Wych's Where Honor Lies "Dixie"
photo credit: Tenna Perry
But this breeding…this was planned from the time I brought Dixie home. When I brought her home, Vander was already a grand champion and nationally ranked. As she grew and matured, the reasons to do this breeding became more and more clear. Where she needs help and improving, he is strong. Where he needs improving, she is rock solid. This is strictly a phenotypical breeding. Vander is a blend of some of the strongest, most prolific champion producing bloodlines in modern collies. Dixie carries much of those same bloodlines, but she also carries a legacy pedigree. Part of her bloodline is no longer available anymore. The genetics she carries from her grand-sire —Snape—are the legacy.
GCh. Bandor's The Wyching Hour "Vander"
photo credit: Johanna Lance





And this breeding has me thinking. More like dreaming. And hoping. At this stage of the game, while waiting for her to have her babies, I’m just praying for a healthy litter. But, I can’t stop the dreams from creeping into the mix…dreams of elegant, showy tri smooths, of glorious, dark-coated sable roughs…



Oh, the stuff that dreams are made of.
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