January 27, 2012

All Dogs Go To Heaven: A Tribute to Nina "Bean"

The world has lost one of the loveliest doggie souls today, my grand dog, Nina “Bean.” Nina had a real “dog’s life” until my daughter and son-in-law adopted her about a year and a half ago. She spent the first four years of her life as a “bait dog.” Baiting or dog baiting most commonly refers to the act of setting game dogs against a chained or confined animal for sport. It’s a cruel and vicious blood sport.

Nina was “rescued” and spent the next five years in a no-kill kennel. The only reason she wasn’t snatched up was because she was a pit bull. Without getting into the debate about the dangers of pit bulls, I will just say that it’s my belief when dogs are raised to fight and kill, that is what they will do.

Nina was just waiting for the right family to come along and that’s when she was rescued by my “kids,” Amber and John. When she was adopted, Nina was already nine years old, stiff legged, gray whiskered and scarred with dog bites, her jaw slightly askew having been broken, no doubt during the baiting.

Nina smiling in her sleep while basking in the sun
You’d think she would have been mean, distrustful, scared of people and other dogs, especially male dogs. But she wasn’t. You’ve heard the saying that the eyes are the window to the soul. You had only to look in Nina’s big brown eyes, straight to her soul, to see how lovely and kind she was.

Nina loved steak, cookies, her pink Princess collar, playing with her new brothers (Chance and Delgado, both 80 pound rescue dogs), belly-rubs, kisses and basking in the sun. She loved the freedom of using the doggie door and roaming the house and the big fenced yard. She loved her family.

Despite the hardships that Nina endured, her life was successful. How do I know? Because she was loved. Because people cried and grieved at her death.

It is too sad to look back at her past, so we will remember the joy she had with her new family and remember the coming joy because everybody knows that all dogs go to heaven.

RIP precious Nina “Bean.” You are loved and will be sorely missed.

January 23, 2012

Givin' Up The Ghost, Playlist, Promotion

(My pick to play my MC would be Jennifer Lawrence)
I'm finally treating my MANUSCRIPT like a REAL book!
Here are some of the things I completed last week:
  • After two years, I finally named my MS: Givin' Up The Ghost
  • I added a description of Givin' Up The Ghost, which you'll find under the Writing tab above.
  • I created a Playlist for Givin' Up The Ghost, see Playlist tab above.
  • Researched actors who could play my characters in the movie (gotta be prepared, lol!).
  • Created a rough draft of my book pitch for the writer's conference in April.
  • Researched business cards for the writer's conference in April.
  • Researched website information should I decide to use my domain name, gwengardner.com.
Can you tell I'm getting ready for the PPWC in April? There is so much to do - first and foremost to finish editing my book! And I'm having so much fun with it! Last week I decided to pair a scene from my MS and music/video from YouTube. And then when I was visiting Michelle Picketts blog, I discovered that she had created whole playlists for her books Concilium and Concilium: The Departure. I was so inspired that I just had to create a playlist for my own book, Givin' Up The Ghost. Check out my new Playlist and Writing tabs above. Michelle, who won second place in my Judge and Jury Blogfest, is an awesome writer. If you are a member of GoodReads, you'll want to add her books to your TBR list.

What are you doing to have fun with your writing? What are you doing to get an agent/publisher? What are you doing to promote your book?

As always, I welcome any advice you have on: conferences, pitching, business cards, website, description, playlist recommendations, etc.

January 16, 2012

ZZ Top And A Running Scene

Here's a little ZZ Top called "Legs," to go with a scene I've written from my Work-In-Progress. I like the song for the scene, even if the video doesn't exactly go with it. But all in good fun! And I'm feelin' in need of some fun today.

So to set the scene: A young adult sort-of-paranormal-romance-mystery novel, if you call talking to ghosts "paranormal." The main protagonist is psychic and can speak to ghosts and she's agreed to help find the murderer of her friend's dad. This is a scene where two of the protagonists are walking through a riverside park at night and discover they're being followed.

A Scene From:
Givin' Up The Ghost

  We walked through the lamp-lit park, along a meandering pathway, the illuminating yellow glow casting halos upon the wet pavement. Halfway through the park I felt tingling on the back of my skull.

  I took a deep breath. “Badger, don’t turn around, but I think we’re being followed,” I whispered.

  He glanced my way. “How do you know, did you see someone?”

  “Nope.” I shrugged. “Just one of those crazy feelings I get.” I waited for him to laugh or make fun. He didn’t.

  “Okay.” He linked his arm through mine. “Do you trust me?”

  I surprised myself by nodding my head - no hesitation.

  “Then just follow my lead, okay?”

  He took hold of my good hand and I came to a stop, facing him under the halo of a street lamp. He put his arms around me. “We’re just a pair of young lovers out for a walk, right?”

  Quick to understand the game plan, I put my hands on his chest and looked up into his face. “Right. Now what?” I stepped closer and ran my hands up over his shoulders and around his neck.

  “I’m going to kiss you.” Badger leaned in for the kiss, turning me slightly, while sweeping his eyes across the park in the direction we had just come from. His lips were soft against mine. Not too soft, but just-right soft. He lifted his head and looked down into my face.

  “Well?” I whispered.

  “Nice. Very nice.” He smiled.

  I laughed softly. I’m glad it was dark so he couldn’t see my face going red yet again. “Thanks. But I meant...”

  “Oh! Right. Two of them. Near the entrance. And doing a pretty bad job of hiding behind a tree,” he answered.

  I took the opportunity to peak down the path without averting my head. “It’s starting to rain again. If I’m not mistaken, it’s about to pour buckets, so we can give them the slip by pretending to run from the rain.”

  “Yeah,” he whispered. “But that would take all the fun out of what we’re doing now.”

  I laughed again lightly, feeling his heartbeat beneath my palms.

  “Seriously, though,” I said.

  “Did you know your eyes are the color of indigo?” he said, his eyes searching mine, for...something.

  “Focus,” I reminded him.

  “Oh. Right. Running it is, then.”

  “Do you think you can keep up?” I teased.

  “That sounds like a challenge,” he said, kissing my parted lips gently.

  I grinned up at him and hoped he couldn’t read the expression underneath. My very first kiss. Okay, not a real kiss, but for a fake one, it was really good.

  A crack of thunder and lightning, followed by torrential rain came right on cue. I gently pushed away from Badger and took a few steps back, turning with a playful swagger, and a catch-me-if-you-can smile thrown back over my shoulder. I threw my long mane of wet hair back and crooked a finger at him playfully, inviting him to chase me, totally into the game now. And then I turned and ran for all I was worth, Badger on my heels.

  We dashed across the sodden grass, through bushes and trees, toward a park exit. I sprinted toward a slit between buildings which lead into a rundown historic area.

  The alleys here were narrow and dark. As we raced through the twisting passageways, the buildings grew closer together, nearly touching overhead as they leaned toward each other. The corridors became almost cave-like; dark and damp, as we ran further and further, and ever downward into the maze of passages. I hoped that we would be able to find our way out again. I hadn’t seen anyone, but saw muted light coming through some of the windows. The further down we ran, the more I noticed the odors; cooking smells mingled with rotting garbage, and the faint odor of urine.

  It was impossible to tell how close our pursuers were at this point, between the sound of our own harsh breathing and the mist and fog distorting the sounds which bounced off the stone walls.

  The ground beneath us was cobbled and slick from rain, and we struggled to stay on our feet, using the stone walls to keep our balance. I hurtled around a corner and ducked into a dark stairwell, dragging Badger behind me. We tumbled further up the stairs, breathless, into the shadows. I hoped that we hadn’t trapped ourselves. We tried to control our heavy breathing as we peered into the alley below for the two men.

  There was a crashing noise, as if someone had run into a garbage bin and sent it rolling down hill. Then we saw the two men below passing by the stairwell, and heard their raspy breath, chests heaving, a voice saying, “We lost them.”

  Still we waited. The only sound in the dark stairwell was our heavy breathing, when out of the shadows above us, a voice said, “Are you two going to sit in the dark all night, or are you going to come inside?”


January 2, 2012

The Next Chapter

Looking back on 2011, it was a pretty awesome year.

I accomplished two main goals to go along with my blog theme, Running and Writing:

1.  I ran my first half marathon,
2.  I finished the first draft of my first novel.

For me, these accomplishments are huge. In my younger days, I would never have dreamed that I would do either of these things. I didn't learn until later in life that I had options. Somewhere along the line, a light went off. Realizations and epiphanies occurred. With my husband's encouragement, I went to college and graduated (Class of 2001) with a degree in English at 41. People always asked, "Are you going to be a teacher?" The answer was always, "No, I want to write."

I am a slow starter! I didn't start writing until 2009, again, encouraged by my husband. Something happens when you're pushing 50 and you realize that the time is NOW! I made a lot of changes. Quit a good, stable job. Moved out of state and bought a home in the mountains. It was the beginning of a new chapter in my life.

So what's the Next Chapter?

Here are my goals for 2012:

1.  Finish editing and publish my novel,
2.  Complete the first draft of my next novel,
3.  Run another half marathon,
4.  Exercise, lose weight, get healthy.
5.  Travel!

2012 is going to be a great year! I can feel it - the forward momentum, the positive energy, the right people at the right time will be in the right places to help me achieve my goals. Ever get that feeling that things are unfolding as they should?

What are your goals for 2012? Are you a runner? Or a writer? How did you get started in either?