Here she is. Meet Juni. Five years ago, we had to put down our beloved yellow lab, and we vowed we weren’t going to replace him. It was easier to travel and go about the business of our active retirement years. When one of us was weak, the other reminded the other of all the reasons not to have a dog. But we missed having a dog around, my husband more so than me, I think. My kids and grandkids are all dog people and kept the pressure on us to buy a dog, mostly my daughter. Last summer, she and her family were in town the few days before Fathers Day. She navigated dog rescue sites on the Internet and showed us photos of the dogs needing homes. Of course, their pitiful faces tugged at my heart and nagged at my thoughts. After my daughter and her family had breakfast with us on Fathers Day, they left for Illinois. When they were gone, my husband said he couldn’t get the Humane Society out of his mind. Weak at the same time, we grabbed a leash and drove over to the St. Paul Humane Society “just to look.” You know how that goes.
Two of the dogs we’d been interested in had already been adopted, but “Joan” an eighteen-month-old border collie mix was still there. She was in the noisier room: dogs lined up, jumping up on their kennel walls, barking like mad. But “Joan” was quietly lying on her mat at the back of the cage and when we crouched in front of her cage, she meekly walked over. We asked about her story: She’d been a stray in Oklahoma and had been spayed four days earlier so she was still recovering. My husband asked to be alone with her in a room. When they brought her in, Joan was sweet and gentle. She rested her head on my thigh, and that was it for me. We filled out the paperwork, paid the money, had her chipped, bought a collar, then took her home with only a bag of food sent with us.
We named her “Juni” after a character in one of my novels as “Joan” didn’t seem quite right for a dog’s name. I sat in the backseat with her and could feel her shaking all the way home. We made a stop at a pet store and filled up the cart with supplies, toys, treats, chews, and a bed. Within a few days we had her to the vet for her exam, then back for kennel cough and a tapeworm.
Juni’s turned out to be one of our best dogs ever. She’s a nice size (55 pounds), and a great mix of intelligence and sweetness. When we first got her, she didn’t seem to know how to sit, come, etc. Shortly after Father’s Day, I left for New York to visit my son and his family and when I returned home, my hubby had her sitting, etc. A few months later, he was with her in the front yard and called to her in Spanish saying “Aqui” (come here). She looked and came running. Later, he tried abajo (down), sentarse (sit down). She followed the commands. We were blown away. She understood Spanish! Who knew?
Although Juni has rearranged our lives, she’s filled us with such joy, gets us out for frequent long walks, and now sleeps at the bottom of our bed. (Which none of our other dogs had been allowed to do. Ahem.) Oh, and she doesn’t really shed much.
My short story, “You Picked a Fine Time to Kill Me Lucille,” is one of the stories in the TWIN CITIES SISTERS IN CRIME anthology, Dark Side of the Loon which is set to be released in May. All the stories are set during an event in Minnesota history. “Lucille” takes place during the historic Halloween blizzard of 1991.
If you’d like your organization to host an event revolving around this anthology of historical fiction stories, please contact me.
We have a national crisis which we seem to be doing nothing about. We’re not even spinning our wheels. We’re sitting here feeling helpless and frustrated. Why is this so? Gun violence in our country with mass shootings in elementary schools, high schools, night clubs, theaters, churches, and outdoor concerts are part of a multifaceted problem that needs multifaceted solutions and needs to be addressed NOW.
Every single time another multiple shooting occurs we have prayers being said, lots of prayers, that’s all well and good, but those prayers aren’t solving this terrible and huge problem. “Too soon,” lawmakers say.
We have cries for gun control, but that doesn’t seem to be a solution our current NRA-beholden congress will even debate since they are pushing to expand guns rights not decrease them. If you believe we need stricter gun laws, as I do, vote for candidates who believe as you.
Some say the cause of this mass violence is mental illness, which is likely accurate, but no one really addresses it with common sense solutions. After all, it amounts to spending money, lots of money pouring into mental health care and passing legislation to make it easier for families to receive help. I heard one television commentator blame the shooter’s family. Premature, in my opinion. How do we know the family history and what they have done to try to address this young man’s problems. I don’t think we as a society do an adequate job with helping families of troubled children get the help they need.
It’s social media’s fault some say, close down those gun/bomb Youtube websites. The Internet is one of the best and worst things that’s happened to communication and the gathering and dissemination of information. And it’s one element to the problem. But the folks who seek out these sites are not going to notify law enforcement if they suspect someone is going to become a mass shooter. Law enforcement tries to monitor social media sights, but the problem is immense. Yes, we all need to be aware and report if we see or hear anything untoward.
Some say it’s being bullied that pushes young men into taking an assault rifle into a crowd of his peers, of little children, and spraying bullets. Maybe so. But it’s more than that. Educators have been implementing anti-bullying campaigns in the schools for years. Is it working? Think about what our children are witnessing? Learning from us? Entertainment via video games, television, films are embroiled in violent scenes. Our country is massively polarized and it isn’t going to get better anytime soon. In my lifetime, I’ve never witnessed right here in the United States more disrespect and hatred for people of a different ethnicity, race, religion, and political party. In the last several years, the only time I felt the nation united was immediately after 9/11. A huge national tragedy brought us together in grief . . . temporarily. If we don’t find a way to come together, we are going to destroy our own nation from within.
But the first step is to have a real conversations on the local, state, and national levels. Contact your state and federal representatives in congress. Demand they DO SOMETHING!
On Saturday, February 10, 2018, from 11am-4pm is the Author Live Read and Book Fair in the Wilder Room at the Chanhassen Library, 7711 Kerber Blvd, Chanhassen, MN. There will be many wonderful local authors participating. My scheduled reading time is 2:20, and I will be selling/signing books before and after. Join the fun!
Do you make New Years resolutions? Do you keep them? I used to make them, mostly of the losing weight variety, but typically I’d break my diet by noon the next day, if I made it that far, so I gave them up. But I admit the New Year is a perfect time for beginnings and changes. In the past, I’ve been successful in changing unhealthy habits to healthy ones, but they weren’t on January 1. I quit smoking when I got married in June all those years ago. I started exercising with some regularity. I don’t remember the months, Several years ago one summer, I made a conscious decision to floss daily. It’s such a part of my routine now, I can’t imagine why I’d been lazy about it. This past December, I’m started drinking more water and less coffee. Not only do I need to keep hydrated, I’ve read it’s supposed to suppress appetite. There’s some theory circulating that you should quit dieting but eat healthier and only in a 12 hour span of the day, working toward 8 hours. That doesn’t sound so hard. I love chocolate and wine, and instead of completely cutting these high-cal delights out, I’m going to limit my consumption. All very doable.
And writing wise? I’m going to try a new mystery series in the voice of a woman. I had even thought of turning myself into a “pantser,” one who writes by the seat of their pants. But I can’t. I’m a planner of sorts. Not a serious outliner, but I need to think and make notes before I write, so I have down in my mind everything about my new main character: personality, likes, dislikes, flaws, and positive attributes. Her family, past history and her goals and what’s keeping her from obtaining them. I came up with her full name early: It is Millicent Luella McCandliss, but she goes by Billie, or Billie Mac. (Her Dad used to call her Millie Billie.) I need to think through the plot line, the crime and problems she’s confronted with and how she’s going to solve them. Oh! This is the fun part, letting my imagination have at it.
Change is good, people, so excuse me, I need to get back to Billie Mac. First, I’ll grab a
cup of coffee er. . . glass of water.
I am proud to have a selection in the Twin Cities Sisters in Crime anthology called The Dark Side of the Loon, release date scheduled for May 2018. My story is entitled “You Picked a Fine Time to Kill Me Lucille.” All the stories had to center around an event in Minnesota history; I picked the Halloween Blizzard of 1991. The blizzard puts a clinker in Lucille’s plans to have her husband killed.
I’m having fun working on another anthology story using the main character of my mysteries, Cal Sheehan. This one has to be set during the holidays and has to have something to do with food. Each story will come with a recipe.
The Twin Cities Chapter of the Sisters in Crime is a group of crime writers, readers, who meet monthly. We have guest speakers, many of who are experts and have something to do with law enforcement or aspects of crime writing. Check out our Twin Cities Sisters in Crime Fan Page on Facebook. We do panels which usually last about an hour and a half including Q &A time. We discuss of range of topics, so if your organization, library, friends of the library, etc. wishes to host a fun-filled presentation, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Here are websites of some of the authors I do panels with:
- Barbara Deese
- Pat Dennis
- Thekla Madsen
- Jessie Chandler
- Christine Husom: Home
I received word this week my short story, You Picked a Fine Time to Kill Me, Lucille, was accepted into the Twin Cities Sisters in Crime Anthology, THE DARK SIDE OF THE LOON, which will be published in 2018. The stories are all centered around a historic event in Minnesota history. Mine was the “Halloween Blizzard” of 1991. I can’t wait for you to read it, and all the wonderful stories my colleagues have written. I’m truly honored to have had my story selected.
Observing human behavior is not only essential for a writer, it’s also absolutely fascinating. Humans are many things including territorial. The first thing I noticed about my aerobics class for seniors was that people have their “spots.” If you, as a newbie, try to stand in their spot, you will be notified in one way or another you have committed an egregious act. For example, the offended person may come and stand right next to you. There’s no way you can exercise that closely, or you’d be smacking each other, so you’d best move. I go into the gym early to get a “spot” in the fourth row where I have a clear view of the instructor because I like to move in the right direction and use the correct arms and legs. Not all folks can copy the instructor’s movements, (or care if they are moving opposite the rest of the folks in the room), and if they are standing up front, it can be sorta distracting especially if they block my view of the instructor. One day, quite at the last minute, two women I didn’t recognize tried to fit into one space to my left. One turned to me and demanded I move over. No please. No smile. Now I understand their desire to stand next to each other, but really?
Humans are diverse in their views of appropriateness. The locker room is a place where some women meet and chat before or after classes. Friendly women, pleasant women. There is one old plump woman who has a different view of modesty than I do being raised in a Catholic family where modesty was a virtue. She bends and stretches in the nude. I can’t watch even a millisecond of it. One day she was standing completely nude chatting with two or three others who were either dressed or in the processing of getting dressed. I couldn’t help but wonder if any of them wanted to tell her to get dressed for godsake. Maybe the nude old lady will have to end up in one of my novels.
I will be signing books at the wonderful Cherry Street Books on this Sat., July 8, from 12:30 to 2:00. Would love to see you there!