May 242017
 

WW83We lost a good friend this weekend… a member of the family.  She was a pretty girl who was as loving as she was stubborn.  In the end, it was the stubborn that got her.  But I suppose we all have our faults, don’t we?

Cricket loved her family, of this I have no doubt.  She loved having her belly rubbed, as most dogs do, her ears were silky soft, and she had eyes that you couldn’t  help but smile at.  For those of you who have followed me for a while, you may recall that Bella and Cricket have had a long history of getting into dominance fights.  It got so bad last year that they had three bad fights in three months, and we were so afraid for Cricket’s safety that we actually tried to find another home for her.  The problem was that even though she was half Bella’s size, she was the one who kept pushing for dominance, which resulted in increasingly severe fights between the girls.

When MBH found a description of our problem in a book about dog behavior therapy, we found out that we had unwittingly been the cause of those fights.  We had two dogs of the same sex whom we treated equally.  We treated them like children.

Here’s a word of warning, people.  Dogs don’t think the same way we do.  Deep in our minds, we know that they are pack animals, and that they adopt us as members of the pack.  But all too often, we don’t know what this really means.  We call ourselves alphas, without understanding that this implies a ranking system.

The book explained that you can’t treat all dogs equally.  If you don’t establish which dog is dominant in the pack, they will often try to figure it out for themselves.  And the way they do that is by fighting.

We began a recommended training regimen, putting ourselves above them by not allowing them on the furniture, and not allowing ourselves to get on the floor with them.  Some of the fights had occurred when we were sitting on the floor with them, or when one of them was on the furniture with us.  According to the information we read, this encouraged them to think of themselves as our equals.  We refused to pet them when they nudged our hands (and this one was really tough) because it meant that they were initiating the affection, in essence telling us what to do.

We stopped petting them at all unless they first “earned” the affection by sitting, laying down, or in some other way doing as they were told.  This taught them that good behavior was rewarded.

And for the safety of the whole pack, we had to choose one dog to be dominant over the other.  Since it was painfully obvious that Bella could kill Cricket if it came down to it, we picked Bella as “top dog”.  We fed Bella first, let her go to bed first, walked her in front of Cricket… even showed Bella affection first.  It was hard not to think of the new regimen as “cold” or “mean”, but dogs are more comfortable with an established pecking order.  And while it was difficult not to love on the cute little girl when she looked up at you with those eyes, we had to realize that the reason we did it was to keep her from picking fights that she couldn’t win.

And it seemed to work.  Their last fight was almost a year ago… until this weekend.

We got complacent.  They had behaved so well for so long that we felt it was under control.  When Cricket got a “hot spot” on her tail and flank, we could tell she was hurting some, so we felt sorry for her.  When I saw her on the couch, instead of a stern scolding, I shooed her off with a voice that was almost apologetic.  When we doctored her hot spot, we once again treated her like we would a sick child, comforting her and showing her affection without always doing the same for Bella.

We weren’t in the room when the fight started this time, so we don’t know for sure which dog started it.  All we know is that it started on the furniture, where neither of them was supposed to be.  Even if we had seen it start, that doesn’t necessarily mean we would know what really happened.  There are unspoken cues between animals that we humans simply don’t have the capacity to understand.  At one point last year, I thought Bella was the one starting the fights.  I later realized that Bella was silently being challenged by Cricket, when the smaller dog would claim Bella’s bed as her own, or in some other subtle way try to assert dominance on her larger packmate.

So perhaps Cricket was on the couch, challenging Bella.  Or maybe Bella was trying to assert her dominance over Cricket, and so attacked Cricket.  What we do know is that Cricket has always been the more aggressive of the two.  Bella has always been our marshmallow with people, even refusing to bite either of us in the midst of their fighting when we’re trying to break them up.

Not so with Cricket.  When she started fighting, she would tear into anything or anyone within reach of her teeth, and I have the scars to prove it.  Like I said, we all have our faults.  Whatever the reason, they got into it again, and this time she was wounded too severely.  The vet told us she might live, but that she was unlikely to fully recover.  She also warned us that the fights were likely going to continue to get progressively worse.  In the end, we had to make the hard decision.

So we loved on her the way she always wanted, and we cried as she left us.  Hell, I’m crying now as I write this.  But we got several good years with her.  I’ll try to concentrate on that.

The irony now is that Bella keeps going through the house, as if looking for Cricket.  She’s still limping a little – she didn’t get out unscathed, by any means.  But she doesn’t give the impression that she’s stalking an enemy.  I’ve heard it said that dogs don’t hold grudges for most things, and I think for Bella that must be true.  I don’t know if I’m just putting my thoughts into her actions, but to me it looks like she’s wondering where her pack mate has gone.  She goes from room to room, and afterward she’ll come find me and lay down on the floor where she can keep an eye on me.

Yeah, we’re going through a rough patch here at the Brackett household.  So I mean this with all my heart… love your family, love your pack.  Not just in a way that makes you feel good, but in whatever way they actually need.

And stay safe.   :weep:

Here’s the way I’ll remember her.  (Our Girls Playing 20161016_091056)

Jan 122017
 

Yes, it’s another late blog post. Better late than never?  Sometimes I wonder.  But whenever I go more than a full week without posting (without a good reason), I start feeling like I’m getting lazy.  So if you’re reading this, I guess that makes you a part of my self-discipline regimen. Or maybe it’s better if I think of you as therapy.  However you want to view it, I’ve developed the blogging habit to the point that I feel guilty whenever I go a week without posting something.

I decided to start “Website Wednesdays” in June of 2015, and was determined to post at least once a week, unless something in my schedule prevented me from doing so.  My first such post came a few days later with the first such weekly post on June 24th. Since that date, there have been 102 weeks.  You’ll note, however, that this is only WW68.  That gives me a rather abysmal 67% success rate. (sigh) :idk:

All right, that’s enough self-flagellation.  I’ll just have to do better. Moving on…

WW68…To more upbeat things.  Like the fact that Year 12 just got its first review!  And it’s a good one!  WOOHOO!!  I can’t speak for all writers (obviously), but any time I release something new, there’s a mental and emotional roller coaster that goes on inside me.  Many other authors I’ve spoken to have the same issue.  It’s an offshoot of something called impostor syndrome, wherein we’re halfway convinced that we have no talent, and that this will be the project that convinces people that we’re nothing more than delusional hacks who have simply fooled you into buying our little pieces of drek, and that this will be the last time anyone will ever want to see our work ever again, and we might as well jump off a cliff becausenothingwedoisevergoingtomatter… :eek:  and then…. someone writes a review.  If we’re lucky, it’s a good review, like the one Year 12 just received.

Now, I’m not foolish enough to think that they will all be good.  I’ve received my fair share of bad reviews.  But it truly sucks to start the review cycle that way.  I guess we writers are little more than needy children at heart, striving for the approval of others.  All I know is that I’m breathing a little easier now after this review. At least I know that someone liked the book.  So thank you “Quiltingnana”, whoever you are.  Thank you for your kind words, and for bringing me back from the ledge.   :blush:

And that brings me to the weekly updates –

Year 12 Y12 is officially out in both print and kindle.  In addition, I’ve put the script out on ACX to begin taking auditions for the audio book.  In my experience so far, that’s a pretty long process, so it’s unlikely to produce any fruit for a few months yet.  Still, I look forward to being able to offer it in the future.  So I guess it’s time to move Y12 from the “Current Projects” folder and into the “Completed Projects”. I suppose this also means that it’s time to remove the title from these weekly status updates and remove the progress meter from the side bar to the right.

End Point Pangaea – For the moment, EPP is once again my primary WIP.  I hope to once again start making serious progress on getting this one out, and unless something else happens, I hope to have the first draft done in about a month.

FSJ – I have up to this point referred to this as the “Sekrit Projekt”.  The proposed book now has a tentative title, and as such, you will notice that the progress widget has changed from FSJ to RRH.  I know, I know, it’s confusing.  But since the projekt doesn’t really exist yet, it doesn’t really matter, right?  And the reality is that the only thing this really means is that I have mentally given the proposed project (a project that may or may not be given the green light) a name (that may or may not be accepted).  However, since there is still no word on whether or not it is actually going to become reality, I still can’t say anything about it (other than to drop these vague clues).   :quiet:  However, I’m keeping my fingers crossed, and hope to have something more concrete to say soon.

And that’s enough.  Time to get back to work.  So once again, stay safe, and I’ll talk to you again soon.   :bye:

Nov 242016
 

ww62Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.

Thanks to all of my friends and family who have been there for me and mine.  Thanks to all of you who have seen fit to buy one of my books, left a kind word or review, or given me advice and encouragement.

And even to those of you who disagree with me and tell me I’m wrong, misguided, or flat-out crazy.  You give me perspective, so thank you.

Stay safe, hug your loved ones, and have a happy Thanksgiving holiday.

:bye:   :heart:

Nov 092016
 

ww61-bAll right, I’ve always promised you that I wouldn’t get political here on the blog.  So here’s all I’ll say about yesterday’s election…

Thank Ghu, it’s over.  Hmmm… that makes a pretty good acronym – TGIO!  Maybe I could start a new trend… hashtag TGIO.  Before you know it, we’ll be seeing #TGIO all over the internet.  You think?

No? (sigh)

All right. Then on with the writing news, and it’s going to be a quick post, because I still have a LOT of work to do.

CV1 – As you can see, I just got the completed cover art for the print version of Chucklers: Volume 1 and I’m really happy with how it turned out.  The folks at Severed did an amazing job.  In other news, I just saw that CV1 got its first review, and it’s a 5-star!  Woohoo!  So thank you, “Emmet”, whoever you are.  I’m glad you liked it.

Y12Year 12 edits are ongoing, slower than I would like, but that’s mainly due to me getting distracted by life.  Every time I get on a roll, I end up having to review this, or approve that.  It’s almost like this writing stuff is a job, or something. :idk:  But for the moment, rolling through the Y12 edits is my main priority.  However, I did manage to shoot out a quick cover reveal of the Y12 cover today.  If you’re on the mailing list, you should already have it in your mailbox.  If you aren’t, well, first of all, why aren’t you?  And secondly, maybe I’ll give you a peek at it next week.   ;-)

And that’s it for now.  Like I said, lots of work to do…

So stay safe, and I’ll talk to you again next time.   :bye:

Sep 082016
 

ww55Hi folks.  Yes, I’m a day late with this one.  Sorry.  Between having family members visit, and the holiday weekend, I simply got a bit mixed up on the days.  By the time I realized it was Wednesday, it was too late to post anything.  I missed some other things, as well, so don’t feel like I’m picking on you.   :-))

For instance, I was asked to answer some interview questions for friend and fellow author, T.L. Haddix.  She’s a prolific writer, and all around great lady, and if you like stories of romance and magic, you should check her out.

Anyway, when I realized I had forgotten to answer her interview questions, I pulled out her list and started working on it.  Now, to those of you who know me, it probably comes as no surprise that I almost immediately went off on a tangent as I began filling out her questions.  But when I started to delete the tangential stuff, I realized that there were some things in there that I really thought needed to be said.

And since I forgot to blog yesterday, why not put it in a post, and just let it out a day late?  So here we go.

One of the interview questions was in regard to character development.  To paraphrase, she asked “are your characters an extension of you, the author? If yes, in what way?”

I began with stating that, while characters may embody some of my characteristics, they were usually exaggerated versions of the characteristic in question.  Then I went off on a tangent about how our life experiences form who we are, and how we have to make our characters more interesting than the average Joe, because people read in order to escape the average, everyday life.  What follows is where it went from there.

________________________

Me?  When I first thought about it, I didn’t think there was anything interesting about me at all.  I mean, I’m a middle-aged, happily married, overweight man who’s really not suffered a lot in his life.  Compared to the hands that others have had dealt to them, what about me is remarkable enough to hold a reader’s attention?

So as a writer, what could I really have to say that would allow the reader to relate to someone like me?  At first blush, my life looks to be pretty ordinary.  But as I began to write, I realized that the things that have interested me throughout my life, have also helped shape me as an individual. And that word is key… individual.

What is it about me that makes me different from most other people?  We all have things that shaped us, molded us into the individuals that we are today.  I’ve studied a variety of martial arts since I was thirteen years old.  I’m of mixed race, grew up as a white kid in a black part of Houston, and was taught at home about my Cherokee and Choctaw family history. As a result, I’ve seen racism from a LOT of different angles.

I’m grew up in a devoutly religious family, but rebelled at a young age.  While still a teen, I decided that I was an atheist, but later realized that I had no more proof that there was no deity, than religion had that there was.  This taught me the true meaning and nature of faith, as well as the futility of arguing with people who have their minds made up, whether they be theist or atheist.

That realization, in turn, taught me the true meaning of respect for other people and their beliefs.  Whether you agree with someone else or not doesn’t mean you’re right.  To go through life thinking that you have all the right answers is the very epitome of vanity.

I’ve seen births.  I’ve seen deaths.  I’ve seen people injured, both physically and emotionally.  I’ve seen

________________________

Now, unless you want to read a pretty depressing view of the state of humanity, I suggest you stop here. I started to riff on the above, and things take a bit of a downward spiral from here.
________________________

So above is where I realized I had jumped the shark, so to speak.  But it made me think about how many people I see online spouting about how this group of people are racists, or that group is homophobic, or you shouldn’t do this because you’ll hurt someone’s feelings, or if you vote for this person you’re crazy, or a vote for that person and you’re contributing to the downfall of society.  And it’s all based on little more than news spin from one side or the other, that’s intended to do nothing more than keep us all at one another’s throats.

Now, at this point, I could easily go off on a tirade about politics, but I find that too distasteful.  Besides, it’s not up to me to make you see things my way. As a matter of fact, that’s exactly the opposite of what I’m promoting, here.

The point I really wanted to make is back on the nature of faith.  Faith isn’t simply a religious concept.  Faith is simply the acceptance of something that cannot be proven.  These days, it has been corrupted to mean something that that cannot be proven, but that has enough belief behind it that a large percentage of people believe it to be fact.  And I find it ironic that people who deride “faith”, don’t seem to realize that they’re using faith to argue against it.  In essence, their argument is “the news source I have faith in, bolsters my argument against the news source that you have faith in.”  And it’s all simply so people can feel superior to one another.  We’ve lost the ability to think for ourselves.

And it tires me.  Worse still, it’s damaged my faith in my fellow human beings.  It’s petty much completely destroyed my faith in our society.  Politics, society, economy… everything is so intertwined now, that I don’t see how we can unravel the knots and extricate ourselves from the tangled mess that is human society.  As long as we focus on the stupid, little, divisive sound bites about whether or not it’s right for some rich celebrity to remain seated during the national anthem, we’ll never come together long enough to resolve the real issues in the world.  Hell, most people don’t even know that anything more important than politics and celebrity gossip exists in the world.  And until we sit up as a whole and take notice of what’s going on around us, we’re going to continue circling the drain.

Yeah. Downer of a post.  But hopefully, it will make some of you think… really think, and not simply take what you’re told as the truth.

:cry: