Friday, June 29, 2012

THE EAGLE - BOOK ONE - The Eagle's Woman

On to writing-related things... My new book The Eagle's Woman, part one of a series about the Vikings in Ireland, will be out later this summer. In the meantime, here is a cover with the ever-photogenic Sam Bond created by Annie Marshall, for your Friday morning viewing pleasure. Hope you enjoy!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012


I had promised an occasional dog rescue story and I hope you will enjoy these from time to time. They won't be the horror tales that people in animal rescue know all too well. These will be the dogs that were saved or we hope were saved, the ones that got an 11th hour reprieve, a rescue, an adoption...the lost and loving. To the right is Elise, a year and a half year old pit bull mix at Dillon, County, S.C. Animal Shelter. Folks in Dillon County don't have a lot of money, but they do have a lot of dogs and cats. The shelter is a building on the grounds of the local prison, and prisoners and volunteers from Middle Mutts rescue group (the transportation arm of Last Chance Rescue) are the ones who mainly take care of the dogs and cats there. It's like fighting an incoming tide, as animals flood through the entrance and seldom leave except by...well...gas chamber. But I said I promised no horror stories, so instead I'll tell you about the unflagging efforts of a 100% volunteer staff from Last Chance Rescue/Middle Mutts. One of those efforts today was for Elise. It had to be today, because this was her last day to live. She was scheduled for euthanasia. That hadn't been the plan. The original plan was for Elise to leave the shelter with her puppies, but somehow the rescue that took the pups thought Elise had a rescue elsewhere and they didn't take her. There are very few adopters who come into the shelter, so that didn't leave many options. And things only got worse when Elise's heart worm test came up positive. This meant no cash-strapped rescue was going to take her without the money to treat this treatable but very expensive condition ($400-$600 average). And that's why today was Elise's last day of life. Volunteers spent the night trying to find a rescue that would take her if the needed funds could be raised. Others spread the word on Facebook, begging for money. Yep, cold hard cash is what it comes down to. I sat at my computer, logged onto my Facebook page, watching the pleas. Watching the donations. (One of which was mine.) With minutes to spare, Elise's chip-in fund (the method Middle Mutts uses to raise funds for animals) was filled with an extra $50 to spare. Her life had been saved. Or had it? Things in a shelter are hectic, especially on "euth" day. It's an emotional pressure cooker. Sometimes it can be difficult for volunteers and staff to communicate, especially since many of the volunteers work day jobs. They have to, because they don't get paid for the work they do in animal rescue. And it was coming right down to the wire for Elise, a neck-and-neck race with death. So now at 8 p.m. I am again sitting at my computer, logged into my Facebook page, waiting for some word about her fate. She is or was a good mother, a sweet dog. Today's effort goes to show what people can do when they pull together. Was it enough? I don't know. I can only hope. ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ (If you would like to make a donation to Last Chance Rescue, click on the picture of Elise. If you'd like to purchase my Kindle book Dancer Dog, the true story of my own pit bull rescue, click on the pretty purple cover! All royalties will be donated.) UPDATE: 11 p.m.--Notice just came through that Elise has been saved, will begin heart worm treatment next week and then is scheduled to move on to rescue. Through the efforts of people who do not know one another...who will never meet...a life is saved. Does it get any better than this? I don't think so.

Saturday, June 23, 2012


 In 406 BC, to seal a tenuous truce, the young Roman Caecilia is wedded to Vel Mastarna, an Etruscan nobleman from the city of Veii. The fledgling Republic lies only twelve miles across the Tiber from its neighbour, but the cities are from opposing worlds so different are their customs and beliefs. Leaving behind a righteous Rome, Caecilia is determined to remain true to Roman virtues while living among the sinful Etruscans. Instead she finds herself tempted by a mystical, hedonistic culture which offers pleasure and independence to women as well as a chance to persuade the Gods to delay her destiny. Yet Mastarna and his people also hold dark secrets and, as war looms, Caecilia discovers that Fate is not so easy to control and that she must finally choose where her allegiance lies.

Exploring themes of sexuality, destiny versus self-determination and tolerance versus prejudice, The Wedding Shroud vividly brings ancient Rome and Etruria to life while accenting the lives of women in ancient history.

~ ~ ~
I was attracted to this book because--well, let's face it--something about ancient Rome endorsed by Ursula LeGuin is going to get my attention.

That was at about 11 a.m.   I was leaving shortly because I had to get to the bank that closed at noon, so I would just download it to my Kindle for Mac and get back to it a little later.  Well, maybe I'd just read Chapter 1 first.  I mean, what could it hurt?  There was still time to make it to the bank.  But then there was Chapter 2 and many chapters did this book have, anyway?  I didn't care.  I could get to the bank Monday.  Ate lunch sitting at the computer.  I did stop for four o'clock tea--briefly.  Finished at about five.  It's a good chunk of a book.

I finished more or less pleading with my computer monitor for the sequel.  Tell me there's a sequel.  Please.  Preferably already written.  This is an astounding first book by Australian author Elisabeth Storrs--one which brings to life the ancient Roman and Etruscan civilizations in glorious, meticulously researched detail.   With a rich cast of characters and an equally rich writing style, I give it a high five and a whole lot of roses.  

Would I run right out and buy this book?

You betcha.

Saturday, June 16, 2012


I promised to keep people updated on the progress of "Jed," the cute little hound featured at the top right hand side of this blog.  She was my first attempt at a long-distance rescue of an animal in a kill shelter.  To be precise, she was in the deep South in a location where there is very little money to care for the animals, prison labor is used and people never take pets out--only dump them in.  The conditions are poor and gas is still used for euthanizing animals.  Volunteers from Middle Mutts work tirelessly to take as many of them out as they can save, delivering them up the East Coast as far as Long Island to private rescues and adopters.

In Jed's case, she was going directly to an approved adopter I'll just call Mary although that's not her real name.  Here's a little of what happened that day.

"Transport arrived on time - broke our hearts to see all the dogs stacked up in cages. Couldn't look too long or we'd have come home with more than one. Jed - now renamed Sophie - came to us somewhat tentatively, but she was okay right from the start. Got her home and let her off the leash in the yard, and minute by minute, she became more comfortable until she was positively jumping and leaping and running joyfully.
She follows us around, has found her own spots in the yard (and on the sofa in the kitchen) and no one would ever suspect that she only arrived yesterday. So far, she's been sweet and affectionate and very laid back.
That's the good news."

It wasn't all sunshine and roses, though.  :)

"The bad news is that our dog refused to look at her. She tries to play with him and he turns away. He is royally pissed. We're hoping that he comes around.
She's had a few accidents in the house but we expected that. She's drinking different water and eating different food. Our dogs eat strictly organic dog food - canned and dried - and treats, except for Milk Bones which our old guy is very partial to - so we're thinking it's not what she's used to. Plus there was the stress of being crated, shipped from Friday through Saturday morning and not knowing where she was going or what was going to happen to her.
The other bad news is that she got out of the yard yesterday afternoon - slunk under one of the gates and was standing in the driveway when I came home from an errand. We figured out how she got out and my husband immediately nailed railing across the bottom of all the gates.
Then this morning, I caught her trying to CLIMB THE FENCE!!!!
We have post and rail with wire fencing on the outside, but apparently we're going to have to put the railing on the inside as well. Which should keep her until she finds another way out."

Uh...oh, yeah...I forgot to tell Mary that hounds can climb.  Honest.  I just forgot.  I'm so used to mine trying to go up trees after birds that I'm starting to think it's normal.  But I know this lady and she will persevere regardless. 

Anyway, the hound that was almost killed in a gas chamber is instead sleeping on a couch in a nicely air conditioned kitchen, eating organic food and having play dates.  Whoo-eee!

The story of my own rescue dog, Dancer, is contained in a little ebook novella you'll see right up there under the picture of Jed-now-Sophie.  It's called Dancer Dog.  You can click on the picture of the pit bull and the ballerina to go to Amazon if you'd like to purchase my book for $2.50.  All royalties will be donated to Middle Mutts.

I will have some more rescue stories in the future, probably not as detailed as this.  This story was literally one for the books.  It came right down to the wire with having Mary step up at the last moment, emergencies with the transport, and miracles being wrought by overworked volunteers at Middle Mutts who do this every single week.    Oh, Heaven help me.  'Cause you know someday I'll probably write a book about all this...  Another one.  :)

Wednesday, June 13, 2012


I'm a writer.  Much of my life is spent in my little cubbyhole of an office, glued to a computer screen, a Kindle or a bookcase.  Things like tornadoes and minor earthquakes sometimes pass unnoticed.  I'm writing (or reading).  When the kids were younger, there was a sign on my closed office door:  "If you're not bleeding and the house isn't on fire, don't come in."   It was a joke, of course, and one really loud noise from child or dog would bring me out like a mother grizzly, but there was a serious underlying message--I have a life, I have a job, I am a person.   Now that the kids are grown the door is open, but I still utter a primal scream occasionally when the phone rings in the middle of a crucial scene.

I'm a writer.  My privacy is my life and my life is private.  Or it was until I (unwisely) friended someone who knew others in my online groups.  Seemed harmless enough.


The first approach was by Facebook.  "Dear Ms. Lonely Hearts."  No, it didn't really read that way, but might as well have.  He had seen my profile.  I looked like a nice person.  Was I married?  He was looking for love (in all the wrong places, I might add.)

He looked for love by email addy, too.  Mine.  Next it was an instant message.  Finally I started to get...dare I say it?...pissed.  I am not THAT nice a person.

I've done what you can do:  blocked, logged out, moaned and groaned to my publisher who fortunately takes such matters seriously.  Hopefully this will end it.  If not, I am prepared--really, seriously prepared--to take stronger measures.   This is a lot worse than a phone ringing at the crucial moment.

Have you ever had this problem?  If so, how did you deal with it?  Are we as writers even more vulnerable to this sort of thing because we--you know--put ourselves out there?  Does this make us celebrities?  Funny, I don't feel like a celebrity.  I feel like your average, slightly out-to-lunch writer.  Sometimes I'm out to breakfast and dinner, too.  I'm plotting.

I think I'm reasonably friendly.  Genuine fan mail or fan discussion is delightful and I do respond.   I love dogs and cats and am kind to children and little old ladies (after all, I'm rapidly becoming one).  Still, if you're not bleeding or the house isn't on fire...   

Sunday, June 10, 2012


Man's best friend.  What does that really mean?  To those who love dogs, you already know.  To those who don't, it can't be explained.

But man's best friend too often is the cute puppy that grows into an adult dog chained to the tree in the back yard, discarded and forgotten.  Or the pit bull whose courage and loyalty is perverted by humans.   It's the dog with the ingrown collar, never changed since it was a puppy, that has to be painstakingly cut away by veterinarians.  The dog with rear legs stunted and twisted by being kept since birth in a crate too small to allow for normal growth.  The injured dog abandoned by the driver of a wrecked car or left on the road.  Man's best friend can be starved, beaten, shot, mutilated.  It shouldn't happen to a dog.

Last Chance Rescue/Middlemutts is an organization composed largely of volunteers who sandwich precious hours around their day jobs, linking with shelters and animal rescue groups to provide for the least of God's creatures.  Thousands of dogs and cats pass through their hands, the lucky ones to rescue groups and private adopters.  The unlucky ones perish of disease, injury or euthanasia often by gas chamber or the so-called 'heartstick.'  It's brutal and it's ugly and every day these dedicated souls work through the pain of losing animals to save the ones they can.

At the top right of this page you will see the dog saved today.  This is Jed--a hound treated, transported and adopted through my efforts and those of shelter staff, Middlemutts volunteers and a compassionate adopter.  I hope Jed fills her heart with love and joy.

For every sale of my Kindle book Dancer Dog, the true story of my own first rescue, I will donate the royalties to Middlemutts.  For a link to my book, click on the cover for Dancer Dog.  For a link to Middlemutts, click on the picture of Jed.

And if I could make a modest proposal, would those of you with blogs and websites consider posting a picture and link to Middlemutts?  It won't cost you a dime and even a dollar donated by one of your readers helps treat a dog for heartworm or X-ray an injured cat.  The link is

Men's best friend.  If you believe it and are so moved, please help.  I will provide you with regular updates here on The Blue Rose.  The animals have no one to speak for them unless we do.  Together, we can make a difference, one precious life at a time.