A Self-Published Romance Author Contest!! And Winners are READER’S CHOICE!

What, you say? A contest for self-published romance authors? With category winners covers in a Romance Writers Report advertisement? (RWR being the nationally distributed magazine of Romance Writers of America.) A contest judged by readers and not other writers?

What self-pubbed author wouldn’t love the opportunity to gain that type of national exposure?  (Plus, the Sizzlers have their heads together, working on a few other benefits for finalists and winners, so keep checking back!)

Many readers know some awesome self-pubbed works out there; authors with distinctive voices, a flare for plot, true story-tellers. All they need to succeed on a grand scale is exposure. So if you readers following the Sizzlers know of such an author, please point them our way because GCCRWA genius, Jamie (so glad she’s a chapter member!), suggested we do a self-pubbed contest and the idea took off. Since RWA recognizes self-published authors, and there’s an indie chapter trying to form, it’s the perfect way to honor these writers.

Even better it will be judged by AVID READERS of romantic fiction! (*Any reader interested in volunteering to judge, the requirements will be posted at http://gccrwa.com/starcont within the next few days. We would love to have you.)

Yes, you read correctly; this contest is A Reader’s Choice Award! I’ll hush now and give you the deets!

 

 

Silken Sands Self-Published Star Contest
*A READER’S CHOICE AWARD

. . . was created to recognize excellence in self-published, romantic fiction. Contest judges are avid readers of romance. Entries will be accepted for this contest from November 15, 2011 to January 5, 2012.

Following categories are included:

Short Story — (containing between 5,000 and 19,999 words.)

Novella —  (a word count between 20,000 and 40,000.)

Single Title Contemporary

Single Title Paranormal

Single Title Romantic Suspense

Single Title Historical

Single Title Inspirational

Young Adult

*Please note: This is a romance genre contest, so all entries must have strong romantic elements/plot lines. All heat levels are accepted in each category.

Eligibility and Entry Requirements

The Silken Sands Self-Published Star Contest is open to members of RWA as well as non-members.

Entrants must be 18 years of age by December 31, 2011.

Completed entry forms and appropriate fees must be received by GCCRWA no later than 5p.m. CT, on January 5, 2012. All forms and fees received after the deadline will be returned to the entrant.

Entrants are required to check a box on the entry form indicating their acceptance of contest terms.

Entries to the 2011 contest must be original works of fiction that were released between Jan. 1, 2011 and December 31, 2011. Works that have been previously released may no be submitted.

After 200 entries are received registration will be closed, so please get your submission in as soon as possible! Finalists will be announced February 15, 2012, and winners from each category named at the 2012 Silken Sands Writers Conference. (Didn’t know about the conference? Check it out here http://gccrwa.com/SilkenSands )The awards ceremony will be held on the evening of Saturday, March 17, 2012.

Entry Fees
$20 per entry for RWA members; $25 per entry for non-RWA members.

There are a few more guidelines concerning multiple entries, so be sure to read the Rules when you check out the contest. Enter here http://gccrwa.com/StarCont

If you have any further questions, please email them to GCCStarContest@gmail.com

So, what do you think? Are you as excited as I am? Entries started arriving within hours of the contest being announced, so getting your entry in soon is important! Maybe it will be your cover featured in an RWR contest winners ad!

~Runere~

Visit Runere at www.RunereMcLain.com  Friend her on Facebook at Runere McLain  Follow her on Twitter@RunereMcLain

Phantasy Friday: Author Catherine Mann, and A Tale of Crazy Neighbors

There are people who leave indelible impressions, and I’d like to share a quick story about one. While celebrating Southern Sizzle’s month-long,  one year anniversary, I’d left comments for each of our daily guests as encouragement for visitors to lose their shyness and leave comments of their own. For the most part it worked, and I met and made some lasting online friends over the course of those weeks.

Prizes were graciously awarded by each blog guest to randomly chosen commenters, with winners announced the following day. Somehow, my name was selected and announced online as the recipient of two autographed books.  A chapter member protested–quite justifiably–that in the spirit of fairness and group image, it didn’t look right if one of our own members won prizes.

I realized I’d flat-out woopsied, folks. But because I’ve always made a point of donating anything I win in contests to a local Senior Center that lost everything in Hurricane Katrina, I, regrettably, hadn’t considered how my winning something could be misconstrued. Embarrassed, I contacted the author with my error and the request to select another commenter, but her extremely efficient staff had already mailed the books. I returned them upon receipt with a written apology, explaining that though I was a (rabid) fan and appreciated them beyond measure, my fellow member was right and I didn’t feel comfortable accepting them. The author contacted me, concerned, and I explained the situation. I also explained the member who had protested felt horrible for doing so without talking to me first, going so far as to tell me she’d never have said anything if she’d known about the Senior Center donations. I was just relieved the author understood.

Do you know what that author did then? She shipped an entire box of large print editions to the Senior Center! I was so touched by her heart and depth of generosity that I cried.

That author was Catherine Mann—

and I am proud to say she will soon be guest speaker at one of our Chapter meetings. It had been planned for tomorrow, but scheduling conflicts (and her daughter finaling at a track meet!) have altered arrangements. Press releases inviting the public may expound her talent and success; notes and invitations to the writing community may laud one of their ranks. But none of them tell what a kind, conscientious, caring person Catherine truly is.  So, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to share. If you can make the meeting when it’s rescheduled, I urge you to do so.  It’s an experience you won’t regret!

Since you’re here, I have a second story for you, and need you to post your determination: Did this happen, or did I make it up?

***

An aggravated “Don’t know if I should call the cops or not, Mom,” greeted me as soon as I fumbled the phone to my ear.

Relief washed over me. This child was alive at least, even if her voice carried that why-the-hell-was-I-woken-in-the-middle-of-the-night croak. She’s a grown child, but my mantra is I don’t care if you’re 32; get back in your crib where it’s safe!  I panic when the phone rings at 2am. I can’t help it. I’m paranoid.  I always expect someone to be wrapped around a telephone pole, upside down in a ditch, or kidnapped by terrorists.

Burglars I don’t worry about. Any that try her house would be classified as suicidal. She has two pit bulls who live to protect their mama. Even from the rare roach that may get into the shower. Screeching daughter once exited the cubicle so fast the  shower curtain fluttered perfectly horizontal, straining the rings on the rod.  Mako dove to her rescue, chomping, pouncing, snarling; splashing water everywhere as he annihilated the threat to his Mama. If the water spraying from the shower head made the bent, wingless, one-legged corpse circle the drain he killed it again.  All with Rachel sproinging up and down, then jumping from floor to toilet to floor and back, yelling encouragement, then sproinging some more, looking for all the world like an epileptic praying mantis as she tried to maintain enough towel coverage for modesty.

Back to the phone call. I could hear Deuce and Mako barking in the background. “What’s going on?” I asked her. I heard her stumble across the floor. She croaked, “Listen!” She must have thrust her arm out the door because the dogs faded and I heard a woman’s voice faintly wail, “You gotta help me! Help me!”

Her neighbor is a single guy with a rousing and varied love life, their houses separated by a lot with trees. But the neighbor’s is an older wood-floored home built on short pilings. You could hear two distinct sets of footsteps thundering back and forth through the house. “Dammit! Quit running! You gotta hold still!” a masculine voice panted. More thundering steps.

The dogs got loud again. Rachel says, “See?”

“No, actually I can’t. I can only hear it!” I snapped. “Are they fighting?”

“No. There’s no hitting or punching sounds, no angry exchanges, just her howling about it hurts and him chasing her. How am I supposed to sleep with that going on?” she griped. “Oh, wait! The front door just banged open! They’re in the yard now. I’m going onto the porch.”

The voices got clearer. “It burns! It burns!” was a feminine screech. Footsteps thudded in the grass now. A masculine warning sounded. “Stop running before you hit a tr– (audible thud). Aw, hell!” was a disgusted growl.

“You hit me! I can’t believe you hit me!” The shrill accusation dug into my ear even through the phone. I recognized the slur of alcohol.

“Well, unless I’m five feet thick, covered in bark and little green leaves, it wasn’t me!” the guy retorted. “Why do you keep running when you can’t see a thing?”

Did he hit her, Rachel?” I asked, worried.

“No. She ran full speed into that big oak. He’s helping her up now, being real careful with her. Carried her to the side of the house. What is he doing?”  A flood of sobbing, high-pitched curses filled the air. Rachel started snorting with laughter. “He’s squirting her with the garden hose! Spraying her down like she’s on fire. Oops! She got away again. He just slipped down in a puddle. You should see this!” (Wish I could. I wouldn’t feel so confused.) “There she goes, smack up in the middle of that azalea bush. He’s not even hurrying now. Just limping after her.”

The woman’s shrieks and curses suddenly muffled, I had to ask. “What’s going on now?”

“He has his hand over her mouth and is carrying her back inside.” There went the thundering footsteps again, fading to the far side of the house. “Hang on,” Rachel whispered. “I’m going to the other side of the porch.” Her report continued after brief rustlings. “He’s in the kitchen. He opened the refrigerator door.”

“What are you, a voyeur?” It just popped out.

“Mom. Really? Was that necessary?” (With that haughty tone I’m feeling defensive all of a sudden.) “He’s got something. A gallon of milk? What’s he doing with milk?” Footsteps pounding louder heralded their nearing the door. “She’s off the porch again. Oof! Bet that hurt. Dumb ass didn’t use the steps. Just ran off into thin air! There she goes, taking off across the yard again! He’s right on her heels . . . getting closer . . . getting closer . . . Caught up with her! What the hell? He’s pouring milk over her head!”

I could hear the woman crying now. “Stop it! Please, stop it!” sounded pathetic, and a little gargled.

Guess the guy ran completely out of patience because all but snarled, “You pepper sprayed yourself! I have to do this! Bet the next time I tell your drunk ass not to play with something, you listen!”

I heard Rachel try to smother a burst of laughter. I knew when she made it back inside. The dogs went up in volume again. Rachel was snorting laughing now. “My guess is his new girlfriend was messing with that pepper spray canister he keeps on the counter. Sorry I called you, Mom. I’m okay. You can go back to bed.”

I said the obligatory ‘I love you’s’ and hung up. Turned off the bedside lamp and laid down. Closed my eyes.

I opened my eyes and glared at the ceiling. Who am I kidding. After that, I’ll never be able to go back to sleep!

Hope someone gets some writing out of this!

~Runere~

Visit Runere at www.RunereMcLain.com Friend her on Facebook@RunereMcLain Follow her on Twitter@RunereMcLain

Phantasy Friday: New Orleans Voodoo; Requests and Tributes to Marie Laveau

Voodoo Queen Marie Laveau's Tomb in St. Louis Cemetery #1

Halloween is the time when everyone’s thoughts turn to the occult. Maybe only in the form of scary costumes for children, maybe a few remembered snatches of hushed family conversation about an unusual–and unexplainable–incident, maybe throwing a worried look over your shoulder in the dark, no matter how determined you are not to do so.

It’s possible something deep in the human psyche renders Halloween a time you’re more susceptible to something oppressive in the room, or a misplaced cold draft that caresses the skin to produce a fine shiver. The sensation of being watched by the unseen. Or maybe it’s the way the hairs on the back of your neck prickle for no observable reason. Candles and cobwebs. Ghosts and goblins. Tricks and treats. Samhain (pronounced Sowen), the night the veil between the living and dead is at its thinnest, and spirits are reputed to walk freely upon the earth.

Ooooo! Shivers! I love Halloween!

I promised today would be Voodoo info day for Phantasy Friday. And lucky I am to live so close to New Orleans, Louisiana. After all, who’s better known than Voodoo Queen Marie Laveau? Or the fact New Orleans herself  is touted as one of the most haunted cities in America, the City of Spirits. And yes, the ‘spirit’ part can be taken two ways, because Bourbon Street is definitely Party Central! I understand some of the girls from the writers group are planning a trip to New Orleans in the near future. So this is for them. Just in case they decide to stop for a visit with Marie Laveau. C’mon, Sayde Grace! Ask Marie for her blessings on your new book VOODOO, I DO. I dare you!

Okay, playful poking at friends is over. Down to business.

Have you ever wondered how to –properly– make a request of Marie Laveau? Well, I’ve got a couple of quick etiquette tips if you’re planning a visit to her crypt in St. Louis Cemetery #1. Especially propitious right now, since the Halloween season is considered one of her most receptive times.

One way is to knock three times on her tomb before making your request. But be warned; once that request is granted, according to folklore you must return to her crypt and mark three X’s, side by side (and totally against the law!) on its surface in chalk or with a red brick chip. Or you may also leave her a money gift (coins only!), candles in powerful Voodoo colors of white, red or black, cigars, alcoholic beverages, fruit, flowers, or hand-made items that will please her.

Gifts and tributes left to Marie Laveau and Marie Laveau II at her tomb.

Pennies stacked in payment for Marie's services, and the obligatory three X's marked side by side on her crypt (totally against the law!) in chalk or with a red brick chip during a return trip to acknowledge a request granted.

Another way, if you feel inclined to ask for her help with a problem — making money, finding love, or hurting an enemy — is to make your request to her aloud, and stack three pennies on her tomb as payment for her services.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

But I’d offer a word of caution though.

Be very, very careful what you wish for  —-

—– the Voodoo Queen Marie Laveau is always listening.

 

Here’s to haunting you all month, folks!

~Runere~

 

Visit Runere at www.RunereMcLain.com or friend her on Facebook @ Runere McLain. Follow her on Twitter@RunereMcLain

A Writing Style for Every Reader and a Reader for Every Style

Guess I’m finally going to have my rant session. Met with a couple of writer friends last week to bounce ideas around, and one of the women was extremely quiet. Highly out of character. Her exuberance that typically sent us home recharged and excited over our current projects was missing. I knew something was wrong. When I finally got her to open up she burst into tears.

She spilled her problem like she was spilling her soul. It left me wanting to beat the bloody hell out of someone.

Seems she’d been cornered and totally, viciously denigrated for her subject matter. Was told it was trash. That writing romance novels was not a noble endeavor and in no way constituted a literary contribution. That she dared to put (*hand to forehead*) s-e-x in them made it worse and constituted the ultimate sin.

Does her attacker write? No. She probably has no idea the work involved in rendering an interesting, compelling and cohesive story. Yet she had absolutely no qualms about robbing her victim of her budding confidence. I caught myself plotting to invite the old biddy to our next writing exercise. And yes, I say that wearing my shark-tooth grin. But I’m glad I stopped to think before reacting or commenting. You know why? Because coercing her to try to write with the intention of putting her in her place made me no better than her.

I’ve read this girl’s outline as well as her first few chapters. It’s a story based around the Spanish settlements in early New Orleans history and is incredibly well researched. I admit to feeling a little weepy when she told me she’d been inspired by a short story I have out in an anthology, because until she read it, she didn’t know you could take liberties with history and build imaginary characters around an actual event. People, this girl made history come alive. You learned historical facts painlessly because she brought them to memorable life.

Someone even attempting to crush that type of talent pissed me off. Being allergic to jail, I did the next best thing. I laughed it off. Difficult with your jaw clenched. Then I sat her in front of the computer and showed her the different book purchasing sites and how to find each categorical rating. From Inspirational to Erotica to Mystery to Contemporary Romance to Horror to Paranormal to Historical Romance to Futuristic to Fantasy to Young Adult and even Non-fiction, and every sub-genre in between. Showed her each had top-sellers and how to find their authors websites. I took her to websites of two authors in vastly polar categories who shared their earnings, and she was stunned to find both earned well. I think I handled it pretty well.

But I’d still rather punch someone.

This young lady nearly threw away her dream of writing because of one judgmental individual. So if you write, or if you ever plan to try, put your steel-toed boots on. Someone is sure to try to step on your toes. It goes further than this girl’s plight, too. It infuriates me when I hear authors of one genre belittle or dismiss authors in another, or one category of reader denigrate readers of another genre. Diversity is what keeps us all afloat.

Yes, I’m a little sensitive. I was slammed once for writing Paranormal stories by a writer of Inspirational stories. Him being an all-knowing male and myself a female (read ‘of no consequence, as men are in charge of everything’. He remarked women were God’s afterthought. I lean more toward the Creator knew you can improve-on-every-prototype camp.) didn’t make our road together less rocky. He piously told me all writing should be educational and uplifting; like the Bible.

Man, did he step in that one. Having a Baptist preacher for a father sure helped me out with him. Ever see a man suffering a combination of shock he was agreed with, yet puffed-up with false self-righteousness because he thought he’d managed to slap someone down? It turns your stomach to see a person so pleased over hurting another. The dead giveaway he was in trouble should have been how cheerful I was when I told him I often went to the Bible for inspiration with story lines. 

Story from the Bible that would make a killer Historical or Contemporary: King David and his lustful red-headed self sending a soldier off on a suicide mission so he could get his hands (and other body parts)  on the guy’s wife. That turned into a wild tale when hubby came strolling home from the battlefield.

Shame on Rebekah for favoring her younger son to the point she worked a devious plan to fool her own husband, and rob her older son of his birthright. But if you thought on it, I said after a bit, Esau did earlier trade the promise of his birthright for a bowl of Jacob’s stew. Esau obviously didn’t really respect his father’s heritage, so maybe he didn’t deserve to inherit it after all. I pretended to think a bit more, and said shame on Esau’s brother Jacob, too, for taking advantage of a blind man, and using a pelt in place of a hairy arm and neck to rob Esau of his birthright by lie and subterfuge.

OH! And what about those two really kinky daughters who got their dad drunk and got pregnant by him so their bloodline wouldn’t die out?  Or the only reference to masturbation I could find being it’s better to spill your seed in the belly of a whore than to spill it on the ground.

He was stumbling backwards by the time I finished. Hmm. Maybe I should be ashamed for losing my temper. I’m convinced those stories are the Creator’s way of saying He’s seen it all, and there’s nothing we can’t bring to Him. Or Her, depending on your religious preference. After all, the biggest lesson the Bible teaches us is not to be so hasty to judge someone else.  

So if you ever find yourself afflicted with a case of the better-than-thous, or tempted to indulge in a bit of snarkiness, substitute a little professionalism instead. Respect the craft even if you can’t agree with the subject matter. We writers work to create our best stories, no matter which genre we claim as our own.

Putting my steel-toed boots back on. The Good Book says to turn the cheek. Once. After that it doesn’t say anything, and I can give you Chapter and Verse of some rollicking good fights. I may be too much of a weenie to do much when it comes to defending myself, but I want to be ready to kick the crap out of the next person who deliberately works to destroy a new writer’s dream.

As far as my attacker? He was my inspiration to fight on–in my chosen genre. He’s nothing more to me now than an example to be used. Check out the sign at the top of the post. He sure doesn’t pay rent! lol Write it like you mean it, folks.

See you next week.

~Runere out!~

Visit Runere at www.RunereMcLain.com   Friend her on Facebook, she loves the company! Follow her on Twitter@RunereMcLain

Paranormal Investigation Teams: What Personalities Do You Find? Plus pics!

Most of you know I work with a paranormal investigation team. Not as often as I would like these last few months, but my heart was with them. Between knee replacement and Hubby’s ticker trying to un-tock, we’ve been doing the medical mambo.

I just agreed to take over as Case Manager for the book we’re putting together of haunted destinations in the South, while Helen, our original case manager, helps nurse her parents during recovery. So interviews for entries in the book will take front seat the next few weeks. (Hint-hint. If you know someone with a B&B, store, restaurant, bar, etc. with paranormal activity or history, we’d love to include them in the book! We’ve covered places in Memphis, Atlanta, Pensacola, Bay St. Louis and Ocean Springs so far. Feel free to give them my email addy. It’s RunereMcLain@hughes.net)

One of the questions I’m asked quite often is what do you do on investigations, and what type of person joins a paranormal investigation team? After all, ghost hunting is not glamorous, as depicted on TV, and there aren’t responses or viable evidence during every investigation. It requires long, overnight hours of asking simple questions then sitting quiet with recorders and infrared cameras rolling, all in hopes of picking up a voice or visual anomaly. Other times you closely observe monitors, marking down times and possible events to be double checked when recordings and film are later reviewed. Sessions usually last about forty minutes, there’s a short break, and teams switch rooms or positions. We always work in teams, and always carry blessed medals. And enough pictures are taken that you’d think a herd of paparazzi had descended on the place. You can get a little flash drunk, blinded by the flare of multiple cameras in a confined space in the dark.

I love all of it; the travel, the site histories, the setting up, the investigation, tearing down and reviewing. But if I had to name a favorite part, it would have to be my fellow investigators. Not everyone can go on every investigation. So members have to blend easily with others, be willing to take the lead, or willing to step back and let another take the lead. Members have to be willing and able to travel on weekends, get hot and sweaty, get cold and wet, get sandy, muddy or dirty, sustain long hours and be able to keep quiet. Finding people with the ability to stay quiet is more of a challenge than most think. It’s only natural for people to want to converse, and during long investigations, boredom prompts the urge to exchange information.

I don’t want to bore anyone so I’ll just touch on a few of our members at the last get together to show the diversity. We had a government worker, a self-employed business woman, self-employed business man, a police officer, an EMT, a young male technical advisor and father, a single mom, a Native American specialist, a model, a skeptic, and a paranormal writer.

Back up, you said? Model? Yes. Real live working professional model. Tessie is one of those rarities who is beautiful inside as well as out. She showed up at our fundraiser in crisp shorts, feminine top, full make-up and four-inch cork-soled platform sandals. And I’ll give her this much, despite her band box appearance she’s no Barbie. She has no problem getting her hands dirty with any aspect of an investigation. Traffic may have problems keeping up a steady flow when she stands roadside displaying the Ed Hardy skin care products basket she brought to raffle off, but she takes the squealing brakes, honking horns and moon-eyed guys in stride, distributing her mega-watt smile without prejudice to age, appearance, type of vehicle or wolf whistle.

Susan is our Native American expert. There are six siblings in her family of Irish-Indian ancestry. They all favor, yet three have such fair complexions they could have stepped off the boat from Erin yesterday; the other three look like they just stepped off the Reservation. Susan has the reputation for physical encounters, some violent. If we’re working a case and hear thud, “Son of a bi–!”  you can lay money on it being Susan. She was picked up and tossed across a hall hard enough to put her head through the sheet rock at one house. Dolly is our founder, and she’s a ghost magnet. Jared, her son, is our resident skeptic and torments us all, but in a good way. Bobbie is our mom, and is one of the fastest to pick up on a change of atmosphere or a visual. We also had Scott, Jeff and Harold there, newbies learning the ropes. If I left anyone out, I plead old age.

How did I get into investigations? As a paranormal writer I asked to go out with the team to give a character realism, and was hooked immediately.

So who makes up a team? You. Me. Retired Aunt Martha. The college student off for the summer. A policeman. A fireman. The techno-geek and the Skoal-ringed country boy. In other words, anyone with a desire to explore the unknown.

On grounds of Civil War Hospital prior to asking for sign of a presence.

After asking for a sign; mists and orbs. (Orbs are simply energy, not ghosts.)

Mists coalescing into tighter form.

First picture when asking for a sign.

Second picture after huge spike on EMF meter. So, what do you think now?

Come take a walk on the wild side with us. We’re taking applications right now!

~Runere~

Visit Runere at www.RunereMcLain.com or on Facebook@RunereMcLain or follow her on Twitter@RunereMcLain

The Lure of Old Cemeteries

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If you know me, you would know, I’m a scary cat when it comes to watching horror movies. At the same time. I have this passion for paranormal, witches, voodoo, and old cemeteries. The old ones are my favorite, aged, and covered with moss, and some defaced from weather, and climate.

When I visit an old cemetery I love the old crypts, or graves. Love to see their names and wonder  what their life was like when they were alive. A defaced and broken crypt is ideal for a scene in any paranormal story which might include a vampire, goul, ghost, or whatever your fantasy might take a writer.

So with this in mind, here are some great pictures of some crypts located somewhere in the deep south. Let your mind wonder, and your imagination run wild, and free.

Writers: Do What You Need to Survive (and that’s write!)

Don’t know how many of you have self-imposed quotas, or minimum word counts for the day, week or month. Some well-established writers only pen five or six pages a day. I just wish my writing was that tight. I know if I don’t rough draft at least a chapter a day it feels as if everything else in my life is off-kilter. Normally I manage a bit more, typically two chapters or 5k words, or other writing in the form of outlines, queries, edits, synopses, etc; but the chapter minimum keeps me from twitching. Just remember: practice and repetition makes things easier, so write something every day.

Since I spend any time away from the laptop people watching, there’s never a shortage of possible material. Oh. And animals. That small spiral notebook I carry (Okay, Hubby does it since he has bigger pockets) is filled with fragmented jottings of plot, scene, situation, conversation, even interesting names. Written on my knee, the wall,or  Hubby’s back they may be difficult to transcribe and translate, but they’re there. Just a few pertinent situational words to help with recall. If one of the dogs gets hold of said notebook, the pertinent situational words turn the air blue while I employ Scotch tape to reconstruct it.

This week I’ve been collecting animal bits and pieces. Not of the animals themselves; just their activities and responses. I’m beginning to think brain damage may be a prerequisite to become my pet. Take the newest addition, Cochise, the pit bull rescue for example.  A sweeter, kinder dog doesn’t exist. But there’s not enough room on the bed for a sixty pound dog to pretend he’s a three-pound puppy. He’ll bounce and crouch and pounce and spin and flop, joyously stomping me to kingdom come (he thinks he has the grace and delicacy of a Toy Poodle), then try to run in circles. Invariably he runs right off the bed. I drag myself to the edge, hang over, and am met by the most confused “What the hell just happened?” expression ever worn by an upended canine. The sad part is he climbs right back up and does it again. And again. We’ve started keeping track of how many times he does it a night. His low is three. High is seven. That was the night Hubby cupped my face in his hands, looked me deep in the eyes and reasoned sadly yet gently, “You know there’s something really wrong with him, don’t you?”

I let the big dogs out at six every morning. The Blue Heeler and Golden Lab tear away shoulder to shoulder at full speed, like connected low flying rockets. They travel the yard in a huge sweeping arc while I dump the horse her feed. They’re on the return end of the loop to the pond and back about the time I’m walking back toward the house. The bucket comes in handy when they forget to watch where they’re going. It lends the illusion I’m in control of the situation if I flail away with it as I’m mowed down. They’re always sorry. I can tell by all the puppy kisses and bouncing they do on my back as I belly crawl for the peach tree to drag myself upright. And that Lab amazes me. She can squirt under a Suburban while running full tilt. Lays under there, paws over her muzzle laughing while the Heeler flops around on the ground from head-butting the door at 30 MPH.  Hubby has resorted to the bathroom plunger a few times to get the dent out.

My daughter has a sugar glider that lost a paw. What’s a sugar glider? Think nocturnal version of a flying squirrel. I peeked into Tutu’s cage (named thusly because she’s too, too cute and too, too loud) and saw what looked like a sleeping long-tailed chipmunk. I kept tempting her to leave her teepee with a piece of cheese. My “Good Lord!” was heartfelt, and I nearly plopped on my butt from jerking back when she popped her head out.  Being nocturnal, sugar gliders have big eyes. Really big eyes. Big googly eyes like you find on a pre-kindergartener’s rendition of a face. 

I learned first hand she transforms from chipmunk to a thick-tailed furry kite when she got out. It was a race to catch her before any of the two cats and two dogs did.  Four people stumble rapidly through several rooms (and into each other), leaping over furniture and booting cats and dogs back, usually with Rachel scrambling around shouting, “Dammit, Mama! Let her land on you so I can grab her!” I’m sorry, but it’s instinctive to duck if something with bug eyes and fluttery panels of skin stretched between its front and back legs launches itself at you from the top of the curtains. Tutu dive-bombs with the intensity and deadly accuracy of a kamikaze pilot. She could be shoosting mid-air straight for you so you’re yelling “I got her! I got her!” like an outfielder claiming a fly ball, and — poof  — fuzz her tail out like a mad cat, and the resultant drag from all that flared hair aids her in some freakish arial evasive maneuvers.

She finally landed on a bed. We got the door shut and a towel stuffed under it so she couldn’t get out. (She can flatten herself like a bat to fit beneath the door.) Seems her short stint of freedom inflated her sense of self. My son-in-law weighs about 260, yet this five or six-ounce creature stood on her back legs doing a spread-armed Frankenstein pose in challenge, shrilling at him like a falsetto-voiced hawk. Never dreamed it physically possible for that decibel of sound to come from something so tiny. Will just glared at her in disgust as she flared her ‘wings’ at him. “Really, Tutu?” he demanded as he grabbed and missed. Grabbed again. “Really?!?”

I know I’m going to use Tutu vs Will in a book one day. Think it’s the whole flea-on-an-elephant thing that appeals to me.

Y’all go get your writing done for today. I have a chapter to bang out so I’ll feel better!

~Runere~

PS Shadowz Paranormal Investigations is having a meet & greet, bake sale fundraiser, and is taking applications for investigators this Saturday, 4pm to 8pm, beside the Mystik Spirit New Age Store in Bay St. Louis. Come by and visit or ask questions. Remember applicants: You must have picture ID and be able to pass a background check!

Visit Runere at www.RunereMcLain.com or friend her on Facebook. Follow her on Twitter@RunereMcLain

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