Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Bad Houseguests
There has been a lot of discussion lately about environmental issues. Are we speeding up our ultimate extinction or are we too small and insignificant to matter?
What if we are nothing more than an infestation to this planet earth? What if the world sees us as nothing more than a cancer, an Aids; infecting and threatening its very existence? Is it possible that the floods, volcanoes and tidal waves are nothing more than the planet’s attempt to vomit and purge its ecosystem of the disease that is humanity.
It is hard to disagree with the fact that we are a cancer to this place we call home. We grow and spread through every aspect of her being, destroying everything we touch. We burrow into her guts, mining her essential ores, draining her life’s blood. We tear at her skin; digging and redefining what was already perfect. We mar her beauty with this unsolicited makeover, plowing through forests, redirecting waterways and covering her epidermis with manmade blemishes.
Like rodents or termites, we cavalierly run rampant over our own habitat with the small-minded conviction that there will always be enough. But will there?
Mother earth is sick. She has a fever, an infection, and it’s serious. Seventy degrees in New England in early January; she is sweating her polar ice caps away. Is the next stage the big chill, or will the fever just continue, unabated?
We blindly look on, refusing to acknowledge our part in all of this. We naively continue on our path of destruction, unremorseful and uncompromising. We want what we want, when we want it. End of story.
Maybe this is where the story ends. Technological advances and financial prosperity will not stave off the inevitable. We have wreaked more havoc than even we could have imagined. Changes that we had not anticipated for several generations are upon us. Yet we still refuse to waiver from our path of destruction.
We may want to blame this on the large conglomerates, the oil magnates, the big developers, but we are all complicit. Every time we throw away an aluminum can, leave a light on or drive around the corner, we are sealing our own fate.
Every time we choose fossil fuels over wind or sun, because it is more convenient, we put another nail in our own coffin.
When will we realize that our affluence won’t save us? We will not be able to heat our homes with gold ingots or drink diamond dust, and we certainly will not be able to stave off the floodwaters with our stacks of dollar bills.
We have failed to shift our priorities on our own. Mother Nature may now do it for us. We cannot blame her for fighting back. We drew first blood.
We have made our bed, dug our own grave, poked the bear; now we must suffer the consequences.
And still, we continue, making our mistakes and living our lives; oblivious to the destiny that may be waiting right around the corner.
Check out my website; http://furrytails.mysite.com/index.html


Friday, January 25, 2008

My Journey to Publication
It appears that my journey to publication may have stalled before it got started. It seems that my house is depressed or trying to kill me. I am not sure which.
Two years ago, I treated myself to all new replacement windows. This past year, knowing that my roof was on its last legs, I splurged for the environmentally sound but infitely more expensive metal roof. I love the roof and the fact that it is warranted for life, but now I have to get gutters; not a big expense but I can't seem to find anyone who carries the color I want. I also installed some solar heating panels that work beautifully when it is sunny. Unfortunately, this winter has been a pretty dark one, at least according to my new panels which are going to have to work a lot harder in the future if they hope to justify their expense. After I had arranged to do all of these 'planned' projects, my front yard decided to cave in. One day, as I navigated my riding mower around my 'lawn', I narrowly escaped a five foot drop into what I like to refer to as The Caverns of Sterling. The hole was deceivingly small on the surface. Below, it could easily accommodate a family of four and my riding mower. So..........$8K worth of excavation later, I thought that I could finally commit some of my limited finances to my writing. Sadly, my house seems to have other ideas. First it was the electrical. One day, after using the microwave, I discovered that half of the outlets in my kitchen were no longer functional. My temporary fix was to run extension cords and move appliances to utilize my four remaining outlets. I got lucky that time. Thanks to a very handy neighbor and two attempts, he was able to fix the problem for under $200. Thank you Joe. In the middle of that little debacle, my pipes started acting up. I have a well and, I am told, very high maganese levels in my water for which I have not one but two whole house filtration systems. The first indication that there was a problem was when I flushed the toilet and ended up with a bowl full of rust colored water. I quickly discovered that every pipe in the house was affected. Although I have very limited handy skills, I did not want to incur a large plumbing bill so I played with the water filters until I thought the problem was resolved. Surprise...two days later it was worse than ever and the pipes were apparently sucking a lot of air. The racket that ensued when I flushed the toilet was (is) unbelievable. So I broke down and called a plumber. On the morning he was scheduled to come out (predictably), my water was running clear and there was no air in the pipes. I cancelled the service call. Two days later, the problem was back. Now I know that the house is really screwing with me. So I made another appointment. This time the plumber actually came out. Although the pipes would not reproduce any of their bad behavior for the plumber he said that he could diagnose the problem. I bet you can see where this is going. You guessed it. It seems that I need a new pump - to the tune of $2000 (if my well is not too deep - Ha!).
Long story short (I know - it's too late for that, right?). Anyways, I will have to now earmark the money I had planned to use to publish my first book to service my water problems instead. C'est la vie. I just hope that my home sweet home has no other nasty surprises for me.
Check out my website.
Be patient, it is still under construction



Tuesday, January 22, 2008

I love this little guy.
It cracks me up
every time I look at this pic.

Check out my website.
Be patient, it is still under construction

On my website, you will find a list and a brief synopsis of my stories; both completed and not.
I also plan to chronicle my journey to publication.
I have been writing pretty aggressively for the past five years. I have made sporadic efforts over the last three years to find a publisher or agent. I feel as though I am getting closer. In September, I went to Maui for a Writer's Conference. It was great and I was able to generate enough interest to keep me motivated. One thing I learned was that cold queries are not the way to go. Conferences may be the more expensive route, but who knows, when you add up the lost time, printing cost, postage and frustration of the cold query...
Anyways, I met some great editors who actually read what I submitted. So they didn't love it and offer me a seven figure contract - it's still a step in the right direction.
Now that I am settled back in my cozy nest for the winter, I have been writing like a madwoman. I am also trying to devote a considerable amount of time to reading books on publication and marketing strategies. I hate to take the time away from my creative pursuits, but it is necessary, because...I have made a decision. I am going to venture into the world of publication on my own. I have looked into self-publication before but was always turned off by the high price and minimal offering.
Fortune led me to Outskirts Press; http://www.outskirtspress.com/
I believe that this may be the answer to my prayers. So far, I have not found any skeletons in their closets but only time will tell.
I have so many completed stories now; 2 adult, 4 YA and the 5 children's stories. I plan to test the waters with one of my YA novels, then I can still pursue traditional publishing with my other stories. I will keep you posted on what's happening. I hope you will join me for this journey

Friday, January 18, 2008


The Monsters Among Us

We know it is there, we hear evidence of it whenever it is a quiet news day. But we tune it out, we don’t have to look at it - stare it in the face - take some action. We put blinders on; push it to the back of our minds - ‘there are so many more important things to think about’. Then, one day, there is something we cannot ignore. A story, an image that confirms, unequivocally, that yes, there are truly monsters walking among us. For what, besides pedophilia or child abuse, is more distressing, more unjustifiable, more horrendous than abuse of innocent animals.

I am not talking here about the garden variety slaughter of animals by the millions/nay billions and the deplorable conditions these animals exist in - all in the name of putting a prime cut of meat on our tables. As horrible as this is, it is of a different nature and is a discussion for another day. Today, I am talking only of the nightmarish cruelty and criminal neglect of the animals we call our pets.

For me, it came in the form of an image, an internet picture of a blinding truth. It was something that could not be ignored. Come upon quite by accident, it seared itself onto my retinas. This image, once branded into my brain, could not be forgotten.

We hear all the tragic stories - owner dies - dogs found starving, or elderly woman with a heart bigger than her wallet is found with 150 cats in appalling conditions. Then there are the stories of ignorance. ‘I didn’t know you had to trim a pony’s feet - I thought he was just getting taller’, or ‘who knew that if I tied my dog on the deck he might fall off and hang himself’. This image did not fall into either of these categories; rather, this was a picture not of ignorance or unfortunate circumstances, but of pure evil. The evidence within its borders depicted an unspeakably malicious intent.

What had once been a beautiful, majestic horse lay bloated and torn in a pile of debris and filth. She lay there on her side, with a death grip on the 4x4 post that had become the instrument of her destruction. We can only guess at how many days this proud animal stood, hobbled front and back, innocently trusting that someone would eventually come and care for her. How many days before, mad with hunger and thirst, she began to challenge her restraints, and still no one came. Death is never a pretty sight, but this snapshot of time is literally too painful to look upon. It clearly portrays the work of evil.

Whether dog, cat, horse or other domestic animal, we have bred them over many centuries to be one thing above all else - subservient. The dog, lying curled at our feet, does not want or expect its masters kick, yet when it comes he will return with head down and tail between his legs, questioning what he has done to displease. The cat, purring in our lap, wants nothing more than food, water and an occasional stroke of its fur. Yet for some, that is still too much to ask. The horse, large and powerful as he is, bends his will to humans 1/5 his size. One thousand pounds of muscle and bone, properly directed, with the proper intent, could crush the life out of most humans. And yet, they give themselves over to us completely - ‘tell me where to stand, what to eat, when to work or sleep’. And how do we repay this gift - this complete trust, this greatest of gifts, given with no higher price tag than that of care and affection?

Most people understand and respect this unspoken pact. Then what can be said about the monster that committed this atrocity and others like it? Would any person with the barest ounce of humanity be able to commit such an act? It is common practice to label those who commit heinous acts as animals. If animals were capable of acting in such a way, none of us would be safe. What kind of a malignancy allows one to torture another living being in such a slow, methodical and calculating way, day after day, turning a deaf ear to an animals tormented cries as death approaches? One can only hope that these travesties, masquerading as human beings, will find a special place in hell reserved just for them.

Equally incomprehensible to me, is the fact that this all took place in our own back yard. This did not happen in some 3rd world country, but in one of the wealthiest and most educated states in the country, Connecticut. As this tragic struggle ensued between animal and starvation, did we pass this poor animal’s tormentor on the highway, stand behind it at the grocery checkout, or have it servicing our new car. Sadly, they wear no signs like ‘monster within’ or ‘evil lurking inside’.

What motivates such evil? First, we have to ask; why get the animal in the first place? In most instances, there is at least some initial expenditure, especially in acquiring a horse. So why? Owning animals is not a requirement, a societal imperative or even an expectation. Although there are many who feel the pressure to have both spouse and children to achieve respectability, there is no such expectation with animals. The answer is horrific but inescapable. For some, it may be a sick need to have something weaker around on which they can vent their rage or perversions. But, everyone has bad days; a fight with a spouse, a lay-off notice at work or 3 hours in traffic. We all have them, days when we come home with the urge to break a few dishes or kick the crap out of our furniture. The fact that most of us have learned to manage our anger in more appropriate ways aside, is this what happened here? What kind of dementia would have to take control of a mind to move it to an act of such cruelty? And even if we could comprehend it, this was no single act of rage; this was an extended period of torture. The resulting conclusion is frightening in its potential accuracy - these are Ted Bundys and Jeffrey Dahlmers in the making; sick, demented creatures working their way toward human torture.

So if we won’t do something for the animals, maybe we will do something for ourselves. But, how can we see the monsters within? How can we pick them from the crowd, avoid them, castrate them, stop them? Are we just not aware enough? Do we have to look deeper - read more into our co-worker’s covert smile, our neighbor’s secretive nature? Should every reclusive loner be suspect? For now, maybe just being more aware, inquisitive and pro-active may be our best course. But, for the future, we need to advocate for tighter restrictions and much more severe penalties for animal abuse. That can only happen when we recognize the full value of each life, no matter how small. That means a change in our priorities.

We pursue years of school and training for our jobs. We require licenses to drive a car or enter into a marriage with another consenting adult, yet any idiot that can draw a breath or write a check can have a child or be entrusted with the care of an animal, no training required. And thus, our victims are created; a bottomless pool for any pervert, abuser or pedophile to dunk into as deeply or as often as they like, without restriction or repercussion. It is our job as a society to take their ladles away, once and for all.
Check out my website; http://furrytails.mysite.com/index.html