Thursday, January 26, 2012

Novel excerpt 01 26 12


      After their breakfast in the morning, Emily called, “Time for walks!” The pack gathered in the dog room at the back door. Zack explained to Hope and Proper that since their Emily was terribly slow, and was so handicapped with her limited human senses, she was understandably frightened about getting lost. For that reason, whenever they were out of the yard, their Emily tethered herself to each of the dogs, except Driver.
     The bad thing was that she put the tethers around the dogs’ necks. The Elders – Queen Raine, Thelonious, Zack  – were thrilled at this whole tether notion.
     “You’ll get used to it,” said Zack. “We all wear them, see?”
     Hope felt a little choky, but she mimicked her uncle by holding her head up and trying to ignore the thing around her throat. Proper threw himself on his back.
     “Gack!” he protested. “This thing is cutting off my air! How do I get it off of me?”
     Queen Raine stamped her feet.
     “Oh do get up, you little dweeb. We’re all waiting for you.”  She looked up at her Emily.“You insist on bringing horrid puppies into our pack and this is what we get.”

hug your hounds :-)

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Novel Excerpt 1 25 12 - Excessive Greeting Disorder!

[In which Proper, Joe, Thelonious, and Raine return from a day at a dog show with Emily, and reunite with Hope, Zack, Driver, and Emerson.]

Proper blasted through the kitchen door, followed by Joe in a mock race. Thelonious bounded in next, and even Her Highness allowed herself a bit of silliness, woo-wooing her hello to Emerson and doing some mini zoomies around the kitchen. The dogs in the house were at the ready, having been alerted by the van crunching up the driveway. Zack howled gleeful hellos, and Driver, always vocal, bellowed his deep, nonstop Labrador woof, woof, woofs. Hope, the quiet one, wagged her tail against a cabinet door, adding a statico drumbeat. Seven sets of dog toenails played scritch-scratch ratt-a-tatt on the tile floor as they scrambled around. There was glorious chaos. Celebratory canine jazz.

hug your hounds

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Novel excerpt 01 22 12

Emily ran out and grabbed Hope’s bedding from the van. It wasn’t a crate pad after all, but an old comforter from Emily and Emerson’s bed, folded up. The end result was more like a cloud than crate bedding. Emily gathered it up in her arms and kicked the van door shut, and in that moment, with the comforter clutched close to her chest and the faint smell of Hope in her grasp, her throat closed around her soul and she couldn’t breathe. She shook her head, angry with herself for being caught off guard, and tears flew as she did. She wiped her face on the comforter, feeling anything but comfort.

hug your hounds

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Novel Excerpt 01 21 2012

Emily started to get a bit annoyed.
She must be hoarding a dead squirrel in the yard. I don’t have time for this, Emily moaned. Damn dog.
She pushed the full dinner bowls to the very back of the counter and pointed at Proper and said, “Leave it,” in her most businesslike voice, and went out to the yard again.
“Little Hope, dinner! Dinner! Come on, Hope. Hope?”
Just a splinter of worry crept around the corner of her consciousness. Where was her dog? Emily was sure she was out in the yard. Hope was always the first one in when the food dishes came out, not the last. Maybe Emerson had accidentally closed her in the bedroom. Relieved at that notion, she ran upstairs.
“Little Hope did you get locked in here?”
But as soon as she opened the door she knew that she was talking to an empty room. Now the first feeling of real fear closed around Emily’s throat. Where the hell was her dog?
She threw every door in the house open, searching in every closet, all four bathrooms, and she even went down in the basement, perfectly aware of the futility of it all, but compelled to look.
She looked out in the yard again, pleading,  Please, Little Hope! Where are you?”
She didn’t realize that she had started to cry but her face was soaked.
Her husband heard the panic in her voice. He stepped out of his study.
“Did you look in the bedroom? Maybe she got shut in the bedroom by mistake.”
“I’ve looked in the bedroom, in the basement, in the yard a hundred times, Emerson. I tell you she’s not there. Little Hope!” she yelled to the house's walls. 
“I’ll go look again.”
This was nuts. Where was her little dog? She couldn't have gotten out. Finally convinced that Hope wasn't in the house or the yard, she threw leads on the confused pack of whippets, who were in collective wonderment as to what the heck happened to the whole dinner process. Their woman seemed to have totally lost her mind, and now, instead of giving them their bowls of food, she had decided to go for a walk. The whippets were fine with that, but the lab thought a little reminding was in order.
“Woof,” he said, eyes smiling counterward, “you forgot our supper.”
“Driver, come on. Get over here now. We’ve got to find Hope.”
The old lab, for the umpteenth million time, forgave his woman and wagged slowly over.
As they headed out to the back fields, the dogs felt their woman’s alarm, and noticed that she was searching everywhere with her useless human eyes. They heard her call the little one’s name over and over.
Proper felt lost. His Emily’s fright and his own loneliness were making him feel too heavy, as though he were walking through a deeply plowed field. He was losing his footing.
They walked the entire two mile loop in the big back fields: down the tractor trail along the cornfield, left along the woods to the wheat field, through the woods to emerge at the soybean field, and up the hill that brought them back to the cornfield and home. 
Emily called for her Little Hope, at times through tears, other times with an edge of anger, but calling, calling, calling.
The woods filled with the her voice. 
“Hope. Little Hope! Come here Hope. Where are you, Hope? Here Hope. Oh, Little Hope please come here.”
And finally, surrounded by her dogs and her very worst fears, Emily sat on a flat field rock and heard a sound bleed from her soul. A long, loud keening sound.
She knew she had lost her dog, and the rest of the pack howled her sadness to the sky.


That's it for today. 
Hug your hounds

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Novel Excerpt 01-18-12

Illustration (c) William F. Renzulli, MD

There is a Facebook group called Fans of Mama Pajama Tells A Story - do feel free to join! I've started posting random excerpts of the Novel In Progress. One of the group's generous members wondered how she could share the excerpts, and I thought posting them here was as good a way as any.
I'm not taking the best piece of writing on any given day. Just the starting point of that day's writing/re-writing/editing. I figure every paragraph should be my best. Every paragraph should be engaging enough to stand alone with a brief intro into the scene.
That's the plan, Stan!
Here is a quick catch up for you. Hope is a 16 month old whippet puppy, owned by her breeder, Emily Hunt. Zack is Hope's maternal uncle. Martha is Emily's friend from obedience class, who has a bulldog named Babe. Babe and Martha are in the ring, doing the Heel Off Lead pattern.

p. 127 of re-write #3

The judge started barking her commands.

Forward. Halt. Forward, right turn, fast!

Babe and Martha marched in unison. Babe waddled along, her back rolling side to side with each step, and her lower canine tooth jutting jauntily over her puffy upper lip. Some of the humans watching around the ring chuckled during the “fast” part, as Babe bounced and waddled with her bowed legs beside her woman’s calf.

Normal, left turn, halt. Forward…

“Uh-oh,” said Emily.

Hope looked at her Emily to see what was wrong, and turned to look where her woman was looking. Babe was sitting in the corner of the ring in a patch of shade, where they had done the last halt. Martha was doing the heeling pattern by herself.

The judge’s eyes rolled.

The crowd chuckled.

Martha looked down for her dog and saw nothing but air and grass. She turned and looked behind her. Babe smiled at her from her nice spot in the shade.

“Babe, heel!”

The bulldog slowly got up and ambled over to her human, glancing from side to side at her adoring fans and wiggling her butt for effect.

“Oh, yes. I am Babe the bulldog. Feast your eyes on all this gloriousness!”

Folks in the crowd were holding their mouths in their hands, trying not to laugh out loud.

About turn, slow.

“Oh, my, if she goes any slower, she’ll be going backwards,” Hope heard her woman think.

Normal, right turn, halt. Forward, about turn, halt. Exercise finished.

Even the judge sounded relieved.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

We've Broken the eBook iBook Barrier!

It is a bit magical, and I suppose frightening in a who-has-got-control-of-copyright sort of way, but I'll be daggone!

Mama Pajama Tells A Story is now available on Kindle and Nook. Who'd of ever thunk it? And it's selling!

So I'm sitting in my little computer/sewing room. (The room is newly spic and span and organized, I might add, due to the fact that my novel had been nudging me to work on it, so of course I spent days cleaning, instead). I log on to my Facebook page and spit my coffee on my screen. A friend from Norway wrote on my wall. That's not so unusual, but what she posted caused the coffee spewage. (I think that's not a word, but it should be.) She wrote:
OMG had to share, it had been a while since I checked to see if your book was on amazon in kindle form and it now is!!! Very excited, just downloaded it :) I have been wanting to read it for a while but trying to keep all my books in kindle version. Hug your whippets for me :)
And she included the link:
Mama Pajama Tells A Story: A Collection of Writings About Dogs and Their Servants [Kindle Edition]

I marched myself down in my Big Pink Thing to Bill's studio.

"Great, just blankety-blank great! Now my book is available on Kindle for $3.99."
"How did that happen?"
"Do I look like I know?"
"Guess you better call the publisher."
"Guess I better."

After hours on hold and being disconnected twice and speaking to two different departments, we ascertained that no, I hadn't signed the eBook clause, and yes, they could take it off Kindle right away. 


I've been reading every book I've read for at least a year (has it been two?) on the free Kindle app on my iPhone. I'm reading more than ever, and no waiting for the book to arrive, and wasn't I being just a bit hypocritical and ...

"Well, no, don't take it down just yet. Let me think about it."

I went to the Kindle store link that my Norwegian friend had provided. I scrolled down the page to find:
Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #241,692 Paid in Kindle Store
That was humbling. Meaning that not counting the free books, mine ranked way down at the bottom of the barrel. But, I had no where to go but up, right? So I posted it on my Facebook page. And I posted it on the FANS OF MAMA PAJAMA TELLS A STORY Facebook page. My Facebook friends who have Nooks said they felt left out. I did a little search on Barnes & Noble and there it was. So I put up that link. My kind and generous Facebook friends shared the links. This was getting exciting.

I just now checked on the Kindle store page. 
Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #14,096 Paid in Kindle Store 
Holy moly!!! [She does a little giggly dance, a kind of Staying Alive John Travolta meets the Michelin Man and Pillsbury Doughboy's illegitimate love child. She's grateful no one except her dogs can see her. Even they look askance, except the youngest two who join in the fun.] 

Amazon's Sellers Ranking formula is strange and incomprehensible, but that was a heck of a jump! I think it translates to somewhere around $20 to $30 in royalties for me, and that's if there is any way to hold Amazon accountable for eSales.

But. I need an agent for my novel. I believe in the story I'm trying to tell. I'm not so good in believing in myself, but oh I do so believe in this story. I'm on the third revision. The third rewrite. I want to get it right, as right as I possibly can, before I search for an agent. I wish I had an MFA in creative writing after my name. I don't. I can't tell an agent that I am on the Faculty at some prestigious writing college. I've never even submitted to the New Yorker, much less been published there.

And this day? It might mean nothing to a 'real writer'. It does mean that there are 14,096 Kindle books which are selling more than mine today. But it has given this little writer the courage to dare to call myself a writer again.

Thanks, my friends.

Hug yourselves for me.

Monday, January 2, 2012

An excerpt from my book... yes, I'm writing again!

... in which ten week old puppies, Hope and Proper, meet Driver, an old yellow lab.

A spring breeze tickled Hope’s butt and she zoomed by her brother. “Whee! Proper catch me! What a fun place this is!” The two made a big loop, rounded a corner and headed back toward the house, as fast as their puppy legs could barrel them. Proper crashed into Hope when she brought herself up short, eyes fairly popping out of her head.
“Proper,” she whispered. “What is that?
Ahead of them stood the largest dog they had ever seen. The puppies dropped their ears and their tails. They poked forward with their noses, trying to smell some sense of the situation.  Hope inched closer to the giant.
“Hello, Sir.” 
She sniffed as she approached. “Oh, I’ve met your scent on my Emily! It’s an honor to meet you. I’m Hope, and this is my brother, Proper. We’ve just arrived.”
The giant dog padded over to them. His head is bigger than all of me, thought Hope. He was golden. His big ears drooped down the side of his face, his nose was fat, and that thick tail! Woosh! Hope ducked as it wagged.The puppies circled around him, their own tails tucked tightly between their legs, wiggling like caught fish.
“Puppies! I love puppies!” said the big dog. He poked his fat nose up Hope’s hoochie, and snuffled, “Girl.” Hope did a modest body curl, air-licking and grinning. The giant flipped Proper right over, getting a snoot full of his winkie. “Boy,” he proclaimed. The big yellow dog flopped down on the ground and rolled onto his back.
Hope and Proper thought maybe, just maybe this huge dog might be in possession of a milk bar like their Mother’s. They bounced over to investigate.
“Oh, no, little ones! Sorry to disappoint! Here, check out my teeth; there may be a bit of leftover breakfast hanging around. You’re welcome to anything you find. I’m Driver, by the way. Most everyone calls me Ol’ Uncle Driver. The humans started that. I’m not actually anyone’s uncle. Silly humans.”
Hope and Proper licked Driver’s gums and stuck their skinny snouts practically clear down his throat. It was fascinating in there. Like a big cave, with bits of sticks and a blade of grass or two. Hope even found a little piece of biscuit way in the back.


hug your hounds and wish me luck