The Dog Days of Summer

The first week of August hangs at the very top of the summer, the top of the live-long year, like the highest seat of a Ferris wheel when it pauses in its turning. The weeks that come before are only a climb from balmy spring, and those that follow a drop to the chill of autumn, but the first week of August is motionless, and hot. It is curiously silent, too, with blank white dawns and glaring noons, and sunsets smeared with too much color. Often at night there is lightning, but it quivers all alone. There is no thunder, no relieving rain. These are strange and breathless days, the dog days, when people are led to do things they are sure to be sorry for after.  

Natalie Babbitt, Tuck Everlasting

It’s summer. And it’s hot. And I can’t seem to find my writing groove. Where did the term dog days of summer come from? I poked around the internet and found this:

Many people believe the phrase “dog days of summer” stems from the fact that dogs tend to be a bit on the lazy side during the hottest days of summer. Of course, who can blame them? With that much fur, dogs that exercise during the hot days of summer can overheat easily. 

However, the phrase doesn’t stem from lazy dogs lying around on hot and humid days. Instead, to find the answer, we only need to look to the summer sky. 

The ancient Romans called the hottest, most humid days of summer “diēs caniculārēs” or “dog days.” The name came about because they associated the hottest days of summer with the star Sirius. Sirius was known as the “Dog Star” because it was the brightest star in the constellation Canis Major (Large Dog). Sirius also happens to be the brightest star in the night sky. 

Sirius is so bright that the ancient Romans thought it radiated extra heat toward Earth. During the summer, when Sirius rises and sets with the Sun, they thought Sirius added heat to the Sun’s heat to cause hotter summer temperatures.

But here on Main Street, we like to write about a different sort of heat–the warmth of a kiss, the flush of falling in love. But we also like dogs, and many of our books include our furry friends.

If you’re a writer and you have a book with a furry friend (it doesn’t have to be a dog) leave us a buy-link in the comments. If you want to include a 300 word or less excerpt where your furry friend plays a staring role, that would be great, too.

Here’s an excerpt from my yet-to-be-published, The Billionaire’s Beagle.

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“What do you know about beagles?” Grandfather steepled his fingers and gazed at Wes.

Wes’s thoughts scrambled. “They sniff out drugs at airports?”

“Yes. They have a powerful sense of smell.”

If that were true, Wes wondered how Betty, a fart factory, could stand being around herself.

“But there is so much more to them. Did you know beagles can be traced back to Ancient Greece? And it’s thought that in the 11th century, William the Conqueror brought the Talbot hound to Britain. The Talbot is the ancestor of the modern-day beagle which can run prey to ground. They’re hunting dogs, meant to roam free and wild.” Grandfather cocked his head. “Men are not meant to run free and wild. The animal-man is an enemy to God.”

What did that even mean? Was he referring to the work of Zoologist Desmond Morris who argued man was not a fallen angel, but a risen ape?

Grandfather must have read his mind because he answered the unspoken question. “My greatest wish is to see you settle down and shoulder responsibility. Get a wife! Father children! Teach them to love and serve God.”

Huh. Wes guessed that his grandfather hadn’t read Morris’s The Naked Ape. Which was disappointing since he would have liked to talk about it with him.

“But since I can’t force you to marry,” Grandfather continued, “I’m giving you my dog.” He wagged his finger in front of Wes’s face. “You two need each other.”

“I’m sure Betty would disagree.”

“She doesn’t have a choice!” Grandfather barked. “And neither do you! I’m going to Hacienda Hot Springs. It’s a healing and recovery center. My doctors think it best. Betty can’t come. They don’t allow pets.” His tone of voice told Wes that his grandfather had tried to persuade the hospital otherwise. “This, of course, is a short-term arrangement.”

“I hope so,” Wes breathed out. “For Betty’s sake,” he tacked on. “I’m sure she’ll miss you.”

“I don’t need to tell you that if anything should happen to Betty while she’s in your care, you will be immediately disinherited.”

If you’d like to be an early for The Billionaire’s Beagle, email me at kristyswords@yahoo.com and put beta-reader in the subject line.

 

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It isn’t easy being a writer

I know Hollywood has made being a writer look so easy and so glamorous. In my head, I see that vision of Meryl Streep in She-Devil. Doing her writing and then doing the pool boy. LOL All while dressed exquisitely and not a hair out-of-place.

Reality-time. Most days, being a writer is like that Facebook video of the cat slamming the keyboard with its paws going 90 miles an hour. hahahahaha THEN, looking at what you wrote and going, “What did I say there?!!! All while you sit there in your pajamas and stress that you’ll have to get dressed to go out because there is no food in the house.

So, you sit there with Imposter Syndrome going on, wonder why you ever wanted to be a writer, until The Moment hits. The one where you read your own writing about the girl finally making her way back to the boy and they hug and they kiss and you cry. All the stress. All the headaches are nothing when The Moment hits. Writers live and die for those moments.

It’s all done. The End is typed. The cover is just right. It is edited and polished and sent out into the world and you wait for the reviews. Or lack thereof. The doubts start piling up. Maybe I should have done one more round of edits. Maybe the Beta readers were just being nice. Maybe it is all crap and I can’t write worth a hill of beans.

Then…that review comes in. The one where the reader couldn’t put the book down. She loved the hero. He was to-die-for. She says the book helped her get over her heartache. You and your book were there for her when she needed it the most.

You gather your notes. Your favorite pens. Your plotting board. You write for the hundredth time…

Chapter One


Jill James, romance writer

http://www.jilljameswrites.com

 

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To my writer and reader friends, with love

The person in the foreground in the red dress is me, learning Regency dance at the 2016 RWNZ conference

Writing can be a solitary pursuit. My invisible friends keep me company, of course. All the time. Thronging inside my head, pushing and shoving to be the one who next gets a moment on the page. Sometimes, they wake me up at night, and all I can do is rise and start writing — and don’t let my grumbles fool you. I love it.

But today’s post isn’t about that. Today’s post is about community. I’m off to the Romance Writers of New Zealand conference on Thursday New Zealand time, leaving my place just a few hours after this blog is posted. Lizzi and I are presenting a workshop called Better Together, where we’ll be talking about our tribes, including the wonderful Authors of Main Street, so I’ve been thinking a lot about collaboration and support.

Have I been privileged in those I’ve met, or are romance writers and readers just a wonderful bunch? From the first day I joined RWNZ and RWA, I’ve been blown away by the generosity of those I’ve met in person and on line. They share their time, their advice, their sympathy for bad reviews or other disappointments, and so much more. Have a question or a problem? Someone out there knows the answer and is willing to help.

And it’s not just the formal organisations. On FaceBook and through other online communities, I’ve made connections that have translated into personal meetings and treasured friendships.

I love writing. I’ve no problem with going into my writing cave and speaking to no one non-fictional for hours (and days would be fine, too, but the real people keep finding me). But I also love and treasure the times I spend with readers and writers, whether we’re focused on a joint piece of work or just chatting about craft, characters, our lives, or world affairs.

The writing life encompasses both, and I’m glad of it.

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Organization needed!


 

Hi all, hope you’ve been well and safe.

I’m good, but have been a bit overwhelmed this month, having set myself some fairly challenging goals. Complete one novella, beta read a few more, start a totally new website, and hold a Facebook Event… with 8/11 of the participants party newbies.

Somewhere Called Home

I’ve just finished a novella for another boxed set in the Bluestocking Belles group. It’s an historical fiction novella, which I’ll be turning into a novel soon! If you’ve read The Long Trails series, it’s Scotty’s story! It’s Scotty’s story. If you’ll remember, Scotty is the trading post proprietor in A Long Trail Rolling. It features the Scottish Highland Clearances, Waterloo, and everything in between, so it was hard to write as short as required for this set.

It will first be published as a SHORT (for me) novella as part of the Bluestocking Belles’ Christmas Boxed Set later this year, called Somewhere Like Home, and few months later, I’ll release a more developed novel: Somewhere Called Home. Can’t wait to put out the full novel!

Here’s the cover background image I took up in the Highlands.

In the far background is an old neolithic hill fort. The tumbled stones in the foreground are the remains of several shielings, where the herdsmen lived in the summertimes. Nothing left but drystone walls of their homes… they left rather… abruptly. Read them and see what happened!

I’ll let you know when it’s out!

organization

 

The new website’s called HorseAndVetBooks.com

And it’s about, get this… horsey and vet-related fiction and nonfiction!

For years, I’d sought a website dedicated to horse and vet related books… and I didn’t find it. So, I’ve created one. (Yes, by myself) I assembled a stellar cast of authors from who write everything from children’s stories, through YA, NA, and adult, horsey historical fiction, as well as educational materials  to take part in a virtual horse and animal lovers extravaganza to launch this new website.

https://horseandvetbooks.com

It was a celebration of our kind of stories and books! Our readers were able to chat with authors and hear about their stories! There were prizes to be won and fun to be had! And even better, it was timed to work for readers of all ages, from all over the world! It’s rated G, so your young horse and vet-mad children can participate in the party!

Launch of OAVS #6

Of course, I had to launch the individual release of Once Upon a Vet School #6: Fifty Miles at a Breath, on the same weekend as the famed Tevis Cup Western States 100, running for a hundred miles over the breathtaking and treacherous trail from Squaw Valley to Auburn, California… in the heat. The story is centered around endurance racing, so it was appropriately timed!

And here it is!

organizationOnce Upon a Vet School #6: Fifty Miles at a Breath

will be #FreeForKindleUnlimited or 2.99 USD for the rest of the month!

Can’t get a much better deal than that!

Find it here

50 MILES AT A BREATH 

Horses bring them together and their future looks rosy—it’s the present they can’t handle.

When equine veterinary student Lena and veteran pilot Blake fall in love, vet school and his past experiences intrude. Add in a long-distance relationship, and things get just plain hard.

A grueling endurance race forces them to draw on their strengths and face their fears—together.

 

Here’s the cover! It features my grandmother riding up Cougar Rock in the Tevis Cup Western States 100 miler race:

100 miles in a day. (my stepdad RAN the thing).

Enjoy! Buy it here!

And guess what happened just after the release party?

organization

How exciting!

Take care, all!

Until next time,

Lizzi Tremayne

 

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If You’re Lucky

In a small town, on a hill behind our house, under an old oak tree…

That’s where my love of reading began.

I’d gotten in trouble more times than I care to admit for hiding away with a sketch book and pencils, or borrowed books from the library.

Every time I walked through the library doors, my breath came a bit quicker. While gazing at the rows and rows of bulging bookshelves, I imagined things I could do,  the places I would go. Characters I would meet and stories to discover.

So many books yet to enjoy! A part of Heaven was within reach. I could go anywhere I wanted and be anyone I wanted.

Life couldn’t get any better.

But it did.

I fell in love with storytelling.

Little did I know how much time and effort it took to write. So many times I wanted to give up and simply live a normal life. No more lying awake at night with characters dancing, and yes sometimes nagging, in my head half the night.
Frustration

But I didn’t give up, the characters wouldn’t let me anyway, and couldn’t be more pleased with my decision.

Most any writer will tell you there are plus and minuses to the life of a writer. You just have to reach out and grab inspiration whenever and wherever it strikes.

Tell your story, and if you’re lucky, readers will catch the magic.

Until next time…I wish you Butterflies, Music and most of all…Love.

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Why I Love Writing & Why Writing Sometimes Loves me…the, “sometimes” is Key.

My Blog about what got me interested in writing was supposed to be published on Wednesday July 18, 2018. The writing gods/goddesses/fates had other plans. I think they’re still laughing at my finely tuned schedule.

On Wednesday, we were set to take 15 people to Scotland to celebrate our 30th Anniversary, and, as a precursor to planning tours of our own as part of our Scottish Food & Gear company, MacSki Highland Foods & Gear.

blog-frustration

Our flight got rescheduled 3 hours early. We were notified of this with one hour to spare—sort of. On the way to O’Hare, we encountered a fire that had 6 helicopters hovering and traffic backed up so far I thought I was going to have to swim, first to Dublin, then to Glasgow—a feat no one my height, age or general disposition, should attempt.

Then the airline lost our luggage—still waiting for that to be resolved, 4 days later. And this is my first shot at having a wifi spot that doesn’t dump me.

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THIS is exactly why I love writing. It make the trying times less trying. It makes the exasperating, “I’ve had it to…HERE!” times laughable, maybe not in the moment, but it sure is funny later when I write it down. And it makes the heart-warming, belief in the fundamental goodness of most people, that much more poignant.

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Still don’t have my luggage. Can’t read the WaPo, the N.Y. Times, and the Guardian on-line, or search for diamonds I’ll never own before I go to sleep, like I’ve grown accustomed to. That said, I’ve had a wonderful pint in Christchurch with the two men I love the most, I made it to Glasgow and now to Argyll filled with thankfulness for every memory we’re creating.

And I’ve finished this blog. SLAINTE! One and All. May great writing be your companion when live throws yours plans to the wind. May you always have a good pint, a glass of wine, or some home-brewed tea, to nourish you. And, May you always have loved ones at your side to laugh with and to hold when life reminds you control is as elusive as plans.

All My Love,

LEIGH

 

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Why a Writer?

Believe me, I ask myself that question daily. I’ve always liked to write but I didn’t plan on being a writer. When I was five years old I was going to be a brain surgeon. I can not imagine what I saw on television to know that was an option.

By high school I wanted to be a lawyer. I took business law and debate. I loved it. Even being an introvert was not going to stop me from being a lawyer. I was going to put away those bad guys!! With no money for college, let alone law school, I tried to join the Air Force. Life had other plans. LOL

With a small child in my life, I knew I needed a job much quicker than college and law school. So, I went to business college and became a junior accountant/computer programmer. So not what I had planned.

Accounting and computing was not to be my field of expertise, but it did bring me my soul mate, the love of my life. There is a reason for everything. Sometimes it just takes awhile to find the reason and its meaning.

All through these years I wrote. I wrote poetry. I wrote romance novels that ignored every rule made for writing romance. I had women who cheated on their husbands and left them for their lovers. I had women kidnapped, falling for the kidnappers. Thankfully, those stories are dead on floppy discs. hahahaha No way to read those now. Thank goodness.

I wrote most of those on a typewriter and paper and lots of liquid paper. It wasn’t until a few years after my marriage that Mr. Wonderful bought me our first personal computer. A new world opened up. Cut. Paste. Move stuff. It was magic.

Through the wonders of the internet I “met” the writers and authors I’d read for years. People online today can not imagine my heart palpitations when an innocent remark on Prodigy bulletin boards about a wonderful time travel romance I’d read and loved was replied on by the author of said time travel romance. (I still have the printout of the email from Constance O’Day-Flannery)

Then . . . I discovered Romance Writers of America. Who knew there was a whole group of us who loved reading and writing romance? I was living a dream and learning so much. I’ve made friends I will have until the day I die. They’ve given my writing wings.

And I discovered that no, I hadn’t become a doctor, a lawyer, an astronaut, an archeologist, or the first female President of the United States, but I could invent worlds where a character who had a little bit of me inside her that could be all those things I had imagined. I could be everything I’d wanted to be . . . and more. I could be a writer.


Jill James, writer of romance, living the dream

Photo by Patrick Fore on Unsplash
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