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Archive for June, 2011

This is Harley.

Harley came to us when he was an adorable puppy and looked like this.

Now he looks like this.

Harley has many positive attributes.  He is firm in his belief that the only good squirrel is a dead squirrel.  He thinks teenagers should have 9 p.m. curfews, and if their parents insist on letting them out after that, he insists that they stay on the opposite side of the road from our house.  If they forget, he reminds them.  Loudly.

His best trait, however, is the fact that he loves kids.  Mostly mine, but if they aren’t available, he’s fine with whoever happens to leave theirs laying around.  He is never happier than when there’s a pack of children over and he’s in the middle, tongue out, running hard alongside them in a game of tag or ball.  The kids use him to find each other during hide and seek, and as a shield during water pistol wars.

He’s very agile and has managed to avoid more than one collision that made me cover my eyes by leaping to the side (and sometimes over) a small child who has forgotten the rule about not running around corners of the house.  I cringe, expecting to hear the ‘thunk’ of eighty pounds of muscle hitting forty pounds of boy flesh and instead I see Harley, valiantly twisting his body into an unnatural pose in mid-air.

I am a very protective dog owner, and still somehow Harley has been stepped on, ridden, painted with marker, dressed up and sat upon.  So long as he can be involved, he’s okay with it.

Harley’s main, overriding flaw, and one that he has had since we adopted him, is that he lacks … intestinal fortitude, shall we say.  Our previous dogs had cast iron stomachs, ate everything from horse poop to dead rodents and barely belched.  Harley’s stomach formerly belonged to a little old Victorian lady who only used it for weak tea and cucumber sandwiches on white bread.  She still got the vapors.

Every few months something inside him just … lets go.  To avoid offending delicate reader sensibilities, I’ll just say that Harley turns into the Blast-Ended Skrewt from Harry Potter.   It is not pleasant.  We’ve had him tested for parasites multiple times, changed foods, kept him under hawk-eye supervision to make sure he’s not eating contraband … nothing seems to help.

Our latest efforts involve putting him on a grain-free diet.  It’s too soon to tell if it will work, but I can say that a bag of this food — which has salmon and sweet potatoes and probably a maitre d’ in there somewhere– costs the equivalent of a nice … a very very nice … bottle of bubbly.  Not that I’m resentful, or anything.

However, I’ve decided that the Slobbering Beast needs to start earning his keep, not just eating it.  I thought about his many talents, and while I could rent him out for squirrel patrol (Hi Dad!) or possibly babysitting jobs (he’s very good at wearing small boys out) I was looking for something a little more … glamorous.  Something that befits a dog of his dignity, so to speak.

Then I read that the fabulous and kind-hearted Joshilyn Jackson was running a contest to promote the paperback release of her novel Backseat Saints.  I am a die-hard Joshilyn Jackson fan, and I loved that book.  It has a very nice dog in it, too,  one that is not a Blast-Ended Skrewt.  Harley and that dog could be friends, maybe, if Harley were fictional and smelled better.

So, I decided to try renting Harley out, like billboard space.  I’m doing a test case with Backseat Saints and  Jackson’s not-yet-released next book, A Grown-Up Kind of Pretty.  On our daily three-mile jog we must pass at least … I dunno, fifty houses? Maybe more.  Plus cars and whatnot.  And that’s just here.  Sometimes we humiliate  the poor dog by taking him for walks in other places, too.

Oh humiliation, thy name is dog.

Harley says, Four Paws Up!

I think I have single-handedly solved the publishing world’s dilemma of how to reach readers, don’t you? J.K. Rowling, feel free to call me anytime. Me and the Skrewt are waiting.

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Yes, I am referencing a Taylor Swift song in the headline.  Don’t hate me.  There’s nothing that soothes the pain of a poor review like blasting “Mean” and dancing around the kitchen with your daughter. Try it sometime.

However, today I am not writing about reviews, mean or otherwise.  Today, I am over at Women’s Fiction Writers, where Amy Nathan has kindly agreed to interview me despite the fact that I have been known to literally fall on my face when wearing high heels. Unfortunately, this does not seem to have stopped me from trying. Go there, and the non sequitur will become clear.

Also, I am working on my Harley post for later this week, but here is a photo to tide you over:

So sweet ... when he's sleeping.

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One Last Time

Roses and Lavender and Clematis, Oh My!

Can you bear just one more garden photo?  For me?  It’s so rare for everything in the yard to be blooming at the same time — either the roses have been eaten by the aphids, or the lavender has keeled over and died — that I’m really enjoying this week.  My husband jokes that if I could, I’d plant the same five plants over and over again.  But I LIKE them.  And when they all play nice together, it’s a glorious thing.  Unfortunately, it only lasts for about 30 seconds in New England. But I’m pretending it will last all summer, and that the blue birds currently checking out the house will stay, and that the hummingbirds will hang around too.  This is why I write fiction.

The farmer’s market was fabulous, and if you live anywhere near Salem, NH, you should check it out.  My favorite discovery was Boggy Meadow Farm cheese — I’ve managed to blow my whole caloric allotment on one package.

In a few days I’ll be putting up my summer Farmer’s Market schedule — hope to see you at one of them!

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Summer Special

If you’ve read Evenfall, you know it takes place on a farm. I lived in rural Connecticut for ten years, sandwiched between two dairy farms, and it was an eye-opening experience for this suburban girl. It’s where I first tasted fresh (as in from the cow) milk, learned that newly laid eggs are warm, and discovered all the many things goats are good at. (Creating milk for yogurt, keeping the lawn mowed, escaping – the list is endless.)

A lot of what I learned made it into the book. And even though I’m back in the suburbs, I still love and miss the country life. Farmers are some of the hardest working people I know, and without them, I’d be pretty hungry.

I’m hanging out with some farmers this summer, starting this Sunday. I’ll be at the Salem New Hampshire farmer’s market. (See the news page of my web site for details.) It’s the first of four stops on my farm tour. There will be fresh eggs, honey, and me of course. I make no promises about goats.

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Peonies and False Indigo

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I still have HIGH HOPES for this blog.  I have a fun slobbering beast update all planned, but unfortunately the slobbering beast is making it difficult to actually write about him, as I am too busy dealing with the chaos he creates to actually sit down for longer than thirty seconds.  I swear, he and my son are in league.  BUT … do not give up hope.  I should get to it this week, even if I have to give him Benadryl (Side note:  I did actually have medical approval to Benadryl the heck out of him last year, when he swallowed a wasp.  Before going down that giant maw, the wasp stung the holy crap out of his face, making it swell up so that the flesh over his eyes was the size of walnuts.  He did in fact konk out, and it was the quietest evening we’ve had since Harley came to live here.)

In the MEANTIME, I am offering several shiny distractions:

The Secret Writer has an interview up with me.  Thanks, Calum, for your thoughtful questions and attention to detail!  (Plus, it’s my first international interview — do I get frequent flier miles with that?)

Tartitude ran a fabulous Mary Stewart contest (I posted it on my Facebook Author page — you do know that I have a Facebook Author page that you can like, don’t you???) and I may or may not have entered said contest with a tiny snippet from my work in progress.

Finally, between the cold and the rain and the cold and the thunderstorms and the cold and the tornado warnings, my little secret garden is still managing to come to life:

Tucked away...

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