I’m lost

Yeah, so, in order to get with the 21st century publishing trends and self-promo (which I loathe doing, BTW), I’ve been talking to a marketing guru who is also a darn good friend. I’m moving my blog over to my website. I’m also going to be gradually shutting this blog down.

If you want to keep following me, come on over to my website and the blog there. Here’s the link: http://www.lyndajcox.com/blog

Hope to see you there!

Money Talks. Bullsh!t Hunts a “Trophy”

Well, y’all have managed to do it again. Make me so furious I’m spitting nails and planning a boycott, a one-person boycott if necessary. Way to go, Montana Fish and Wildlife. Wolf 926F, of the Lamar Canyon Pack, and known affectionately as “Spitfire” has been taken as a “trophy.” Trophy to what? An enlarged sense of entitlement? Trying to prove your masculinity? What? 5bfffd1518cd6.image

I’m not going to go into how beneficial the wolves are for the ecosystem in and around Yellowstone, again. Those of us who know it have talked until we’re blue in the face. Facts have been presented. Statistics have been presented. And, yet, Montana, Wyoming, and Idaho continue to have “trophy wolf” hunting areas. How very interesting, those areas all border Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks. Even more interesting, those “trophy” areas are predominantly leased BLM land. Leased for cattle grazing.

So, because the legislatures of Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho are completely deaf to everyone except people who have a vested interest in seeing the wolf eradicated from their states (and preferably the lower 48), here’s my proposal. Financially strangle the communities around Yellowstone National Park. Yellowstone National Park saw 4.25 million people visit in 2016. $524.3 million was spent in gateway communities within a 60-mile radius of YNP. That supported 8,156 jobs in the area and added $680.3 million to the local economy. (https://www.nps.gov/yell/learn/news/17020.htm)

It’s time to start letting the powers that be know how disgusted and angry we are, and how determined we are that this stop. Yes, go visit Yellowstone. Don’t spend a single penny in those gateway communities. You can fill up 100 miles outside of Yellowstone. You can buy gas in YNP. (It is a little pricier, but, hey…) Buy the supplies for your picnic or camping trip outside that 100-mile radius, too. Stock up on ice. Again, financially strangle those gateway communities, which incidentally are also where the majority of those “trophy wolf” hunting areas are.

Save all your receipts and after your trip to Yellowstone, photocopy them and send them to the chambers of commerce in these gateway communities: Jackson, Teton Village, Wilson, Cody, Cooke City, Gardiner, Wapiti. Tell them this was money you chose not to spend in their communities and will not be spending in their communities unless and until ALL trophy wolf hunting areas are closed. Your couple of hundred dollars spent may not seem like much, but if we all do it, multiply that loss by several hundred or several thousand people and suddenly the financial loss will hurt. (Maybe not Jackson, but you get my point.) By not spending in those communities, there is a cascade effect–jobs dependent on the tourism trade will dry up. Without those jobs, less money is infused into the very local economy. More jobs vanish. And, all of a sudden, people aren’t buying steaks any more. They can barely afford hamburger. Two birds. One stone.

Yes, I’m angry. I’ve gone past angry. I’ve reached the stage my kids called the “oh, sh!t” anger. It’s cold. It’s very cold. It’s ruthless. It’s heartless. The only thing most people seem to understand is the bottom line. It’s time to pull the bottom line out and let ’em fall. Maybe then they’ll realize it just wasn’t the ecosystem the wolf made stronger and kept healthy.

 

Oh, No, (S)He Didn’t!

Authors behaving badly. There have been several examples of how not to conduct oneself lately in the author world, especially in Romancelandia. I have another example which involves betrayal and outright theft of ideas. Don’t get me wrong—I know there are only so many ways to write the standard tropes within romance. How each author brings her unique perspective and voice to the writing and the window dressing of that trope is what brings difference and variety to the standard tropes and plot lines. However, what has happened here is not THAT.

I’m a member of a group of romance authors who have come together to write a series of romances based on the standard trope of the “mail order bride.” Our spin on that trope is instead of a MOB, we decided on mail order grooms. Several group discussions occurred between all of the authors. Documents were posted on Google Drive, accessible to all the authors in this group, including what was later relegated to just being background to the story. Character sketches were put into a document and uploaded to the Drive.

Right from the start, there were warning signs with one author. When gently nudged to verify historical facts or to change something because it wasn’t historically accurate, the author’s response was that readers wouldn’t care or notice. (Yes, my eyebrows reached my hairline with that comment. And, the history geek in me started whimpering in pain.) This author took a character who was written as a person of color and created a stereotypical, clichéd caricature. When concerns were raised about how that person of color was presented, our concerns were waved away. (I have other words I could use, but I’m doing my best to be polite here.)

After the concerns reached critical mass, this author was gently asked to leave the group. It was not just this author’s reputation on the line, but the reputation of every other author in this series.

Imagine our consternation when this author has now released a brand-new book—the first in a series—and EVERYTHING that was discussed in those group chats, posted in the Drive, put into character sketches, and even brainstormed privately between this author and another for the other author’s character and storyline has now appeared in this author’s new book. Characters were literally stolen whole-cloth from what the other authors posted on their sketches. Events that would be pivotal to the series we were writing, in the order we determined they should happen, have now appeared in this author’s book. The only thing this author appears to have changed is the name of the town and that one certain event will last a whole week and not just one day. It’s still in the same state, even! (Okay, the state we picked is pretty darn large, but I don’t think that state is big enough for the both of us.)

I’m dismayed, disgusted, and livid—that someone could be so blatant in this theft of ideas. While it isn’t legally wrong, the morality is at best, questionable.

THIS Is How You Do Rescue

My last post on what rescue isn’t apparently hit a nerve with people. Good. It was supposed to evoke a response from the people who read it. Just as this post is being written to evoke a response.
Here’s another rescue story…
Yesterday, a young woman posted on one of those Facebook online yard sales that she had a neutered, champion, smooth male collie needing a new and forever home. The manner she worded her “for sale” ad said she deeply cared about this boy and wanted to make sure he would go to a home that would love him, where he would be safe, and would be taken care of. Within two hours of posting, this post was shared throughout the majority of the online collie community and the wheels were set in motion to purchase this boy. Offers of help poured in, offers to drive to wherever to get him came in, relays of transport were being discussed—all from people who knew nothing of this beautiful boy except for one thing and that was he needed help. Within four hours, the sale was finalized and arrangements made to pick him up today (May 28).
I just saw the post where Findley—now forever known as Finn—is on his way to his new forever home with a former member of the national rescue foundation.

finn on his way to his forever home
Finn on his way to his forever home. 

Rescue isn’t a dumping ground. On the other hand, THIS is how you do rescue.

RESCUE IS NOT YOUR DUMPING GROUND

I’ve sat here staring at a blank screen, trying to find a polite manner to write what I want to write. I finally realized there isn’t a polite manner to write those words, so I’m just going to jump right in.

 

First of all—breed specific rescue is something every person involved with the sport of purebred dogs absolutely must support, because there are times and situations where rescue is not only necessary, it’s a God-send. However, those rescues across the country for your breed MUST NEVER be used as a dumping ground when you find yourself with too many puppies and young adults. My breed—collies—states in our Code of Ethics that if an owner has to surrender a collie to rescue, the owner needs to monetarily support that collie until such a time as a home is found for the surrendered collie.

 

It was recently brought to my attention that two separate collie rescues had thirteen collies brought in to them: five to one rescue and eight to another, all from the same breeding situation in Tennessee. One of those collies is heartworm positive. Another has PDA (Patent ductus arteriosus is a birth defect that occurs when the blood vessel known as the ductus arteriosus does not close properly, and instead, remains open—“patent” being a medical term for “open”. When this happens, oxygen-rich blood continues to flow from the aorta to mix with oxygen-poor blood from the pulmonary artery). The dogs surrendered (or in this case dumped into rescue) range in age from a claimed “four months” to a few years of age. These dogs all appear to be fairly-well bred. These aren’t the typical “puppy mill” smooth or rough collies. There is some quality there.

 

Now, I can count on one hand the number of collie breeders in Tennessee who breed smooth collies and still have a finger or two left over. Heck, there are only thirty active Collie Club of America members living in Tennessee and more than half of them no longer breed. I can account for EVERY single puppy and young adult I’ve had in the last four years. As a matter of fact, I’m actually issuing a challenge here—to both those rescues and to the active breeders in Tennessee. Collect DNA from the puppies and young adults brought into rescue. Match it against puppies and young adults in the show kennels in Tennessee.  I already have a DNA profile on the stud dog I used for my last four litters. His DNA will rule out any of those puppies coming from my breeding program.

 

Yes, I have a fairly good idea where those collies came from. Here’s the second part of my challenge—if you have a fairly good idea, too, it’s time to step up and stop it. If you are not willing or unable to keep the puppies you’ve produced until a suitable home is found for each and every puppy, STOP BREEDING! Rescue isn’t your dumping ground.

 

 

I Do NOT Need a Shower

So, I’m sitting at my desk, asking myself for what has to be the millionth time in the last couple of months what in the sam hill I was thinking when I said I would be part of a series. The authors I’m working with are fantastic writers, who can craft an amazing, emotional tale. I consider myself honored to be a part of this series, so don’t read the rest of this blog post as anything other than my own personal feelings about something I’ve seen lately in the romance world. The premise of this series is fantastic—a fictional town where most of the men haven’t returned after the American Civil War, for whatever reason. The ladies decide the only way to save their town and protect themselves is to send off for mail order grooms.

Road and sky
Road in field and stormy clouds

So far, so good. Right? Then, I read the fine print. This romance I’m writing has to be sweet, clean, and wholesome. That means I have to close the bedroom door, no swearing, and maybe a chaste kiss. SAY WHAT? Anyone who has read my other books knows I leave the bedroom door wide freakin’ open. And, if I remember rightly, I have one hero whose favorite word is “damn.” (Colt, yes, I’m looking right at you.)

Okay. It’s good. I can get past that. While the romances I write are, to quote one reviewer, “steamy”, I can leave the kettle off the stove for this one. I’ll get past it.

What I’m hung up on, and it grates against me more and more, is the connotation that because those four romances (of which I am immensely proud, BTW) leave the bedroom door open they aren’t clean or wholesome. And, this is the problem with putting certain labels on romances. Labeling romances where the bedroom door is closed and the most the main characters ever share is a kiss (whether it’s chaste or not) as clean and/or wholesome means that in this world of always needing dichotomy, my romances are dirty and unwholesome. Carried out further, the connotation is sex itself is dirty.

Before I go any further, I want to fully stress that at no time has so much as a single one of the authors in this series once made that connotation about my romances to me.

I get it that some people just don’t want to read “THAT” scene and prefer to purchase books where “THAT” scene isn’t written, and in most cases, isn’t even alluded to. I get that. It’s a great big world out there and there are plenty of readers for all kinds of romances. (It’s the only explanation I can come up with for the 50 Shades of Gray effect and the manner erotica has rocketed up in readership.) But the attempted shaming and guilt-tripping by some readers and commenters on other posts on FB of the authors who do write “steamy” and “THAT” scene makes my blood boil. If it’s not for you, guess what—you can just scroll on past that post. Honest. That’s how FB works.

The same goes for a book signing. Don’t tell me at a book signing when you ask if I include the sex scenes that you prefer not to be a voyeur in a smug, condescending tone. You asked. I gave you an honest answer. If it’s not for you, smile and move on. How hard is that?

Romance authors, if you write “sweet, clean, and wholesome”, congratulations. You will NEVER know the agony of writing “THAT” scene and struggling to write it without the whole scene reading like choreography for an X-rated film. And, while we’re at it, can we please find another label for those “wholesome” books? The trend in romance (and it’s been there for a long time and doesn’t seem to be abating any time soon) is that before the main characters end up in bed together, there has to be a commitment to one another. They might not be able to articulate yet they love one another, but the emotional commitment to one another is there. Hell…oops…Heck, the first romance I had published the hero felt guilty for taking the heroine to bed. He was committed to her, heart and soul, but circumstances were conspiring to keep him from her for the rest of his life. He actually turns her down a little later in the book when he knows beyond a shadow of a doubt he can’t stay with her because to stay will put her life in jeopardy.

So, can we please stop with the shaming and the labeling? Can we all agree that there are readers for all types of romance and all that attempted shaming does is create divides in our community? It’s a great big reader pool. And just because some of us swim in another part of the pool, the water here isn’t dirty, either.  

Good Wolf Dead Wolf

intelligence

I’ve tried not to take a side in this debate, but something happened the other night that finally threw me over the edge. I follow a page on Facebook that is devoted to pictures taken in the state of Wyoming. A new member in that group got the shot of a lifetime, that of the Lamar Valley Wolf Pack starting a hunt of a herd of elk. I knew the second that photo hit cyberspace, the debate over the wolves would start all over again. Less than a minute later, more than thirty comments had been made. Three—count ‘em: THREE—comments were on what a great picture it was. The rest were comments about killing the wolves and the rebuttals. (And for inquiring minds, other to comment what a lucky shot it was and to ask why people just couldn’t comment what a good picture it was and leave it at that, I didn’t respond.)YNP wolf

 

I got curious about those people screaming for the blood of the wolves and started clicking the public profiles of the people who commented negatively about the apex predator in Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks. 85% of them don’t even live in the state of Wyoming. The other four comments came from people who have a vested interest in seeing the wolf gone. One leads guided pack trips for elk hunts. Another works for a feed company that specializes in feed to finish out cattle prior to slaughter. One more is from a ranching family—near Wheatland on the other side of the state. Anyone want to take a guess at how big Wyoming is? One of the comments made was that wolves kill for the sheer joy of killing and that the reintroduced grey wolves are bigger and more aggressive (a claim repeatedly debunked by scientists) and this person also posted a picture of elk killed by wolves all lined up in the snow. My first thought to that was “You mean wolves kill just like trophy hunters do?” and my second thought was I never would have thought wolves would line up dead elk like that.

 

I started digging deeper into the effect the wolf has had on Yellowstone. Biologists call what is happening in Yellowstone over the last twenty years a trophic cascade. Usually, biologists have the depressing task of documenting what happens in an environmental situation when an integral part of the ecosystem is removed. Yellowstone offers biologists a rare and unique opportunity to document the changes when an integral and apex predator is reintroduced.

elk

When the grey wolf was reintroduced into Yellowstone’s ecosystem, there was one colony of beavers. Twenty years later, because of that trophic cascade, there are nine beaver colonies. Because the wolves put so much pressure on the elk, the elk no longer linger in the winter along streams and rivers in Yellowstone. Because the elk no longer linger and are more migratory in their grazing patterns, the stands of young willows, aspen, and cottonwoods have a chance to grow and to provide food for the beavers through the winter. Because those stands of willows, aspens, and cottonwood are stronger, thicker, more resilient, they have helped to stabilize the river and stream banks. And yet, the elk population in Yellowstone is three times greater than it was a mere twenty years ago, even with the wolves hunting them. A study done in 2010 by Idaho Fish and Game revealed that the wolves have had minimal impact on elk populations. (https://idfg.idaho.gov/old-web/docs/wolves/articleHowling.pdf) Frankly, I’d be more worried about Chronic Wasting Disease decimating the elk herds than wolf kill (http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2015/06/researchers-make-surprising-discovery-about-spread-of-chronic-wasting-disease/#.WeK7LtNSyM8) and the effects of CWD on guided elk hunts.

 

Because the wolves kill coyotes, there are more rodents in Yellowstone. Because there are more rodents in the park, there are more foxes. More eagles. More badgers. More hawks. More ravens. More magpies. More of every predator that feeds on small rodents.

 

The wolves even benefit the bears—both black and grizzly—in Yellowstone. Because of the wolves, there is a more equitable distribution of carrion throughout the winter and into the spring. When emerging from hibernation, the bears depend on wolf-killed carrion for their first few meals in the spring.

 

Some conservationists, such as The Greater Yellowstone Coalition, propose responsible state-level management involving an established minimum gray wolf population, monitored by federal agencies such as U.S. Fish and Wildlife; monetary aid for ranchers who lose livestock—which Wyoming already does, and generously, I might add at seven times market value (https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-plight-of-the-wests-wolves-1507302000); and regulated, fair-chase hunting (i.e., no poisoning or trapping) of wolves in numbers based on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife reports. Revenue from hunting licenses could be used to help fund state wolf management programs. This would work fine—if Wyoming could prove itself capable of managing the wolves. Unfortunately, the state that I’ve often called my adopted home state, hasn’t proved they’re up to the task, if the manner that they’ve set up wolf hunts again is any indication. Every single trophy wolf hunting location in the state borders either Yellowstone National Park or Grand Teton National Park. The rules are set up so that hunters can actually lure the wolves out of the park with bait, wolf call, and just about any other means. The moment a wolf sets one foot out of the park boundary, they can be shot. That’s not management. And when, as has happened in the previous week, more wolves are killed in those areas than has been designated, that’s criminal mismanagement. As of October 4th, three of the trophy hunting areas have been closed and in two of them, more wolves were harvested than should have been. Just writing that word “harvested” makes me nauseous.

trophy wolf hunting zones

I also think it’s the height of stupidity that ranchers are allowed by the federal government to lease (for a mere pittance) and graze livestock on national forest land—the exact same land that the wolves roam—after spending decades and millions of tax payer dollars to re-establish not only the wolf population but also the grizzly and expect these two apex predators not to prey on cattle and sheep. Albert Einstein said that doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result is the definition of insanity.

 

And, I have one last thought on this. If you don’t pay property taxes in the state of Wyoming (guess what, I do!), keep your comments about killing wolves in Wyoming to yourself. We have enough people here who want to kill them. We don’t need you chiming in.

 

I’ve tried to see both sides. I’d like to think I’m smart enough to realize that this shouldn’t be and isn’t a simple “us vs them” argument, but unfortunately, that’s what it’s become. And, the side I’m choosing is for the wolf. I want my great grandchildren to be able to see a wolf in Yellowstone. I want them to be able to hear that haunting call echoing across a dark and star-lit landscape.  We just visit Yellowstone. It’s their home. And even the ranchers who lease land adjoining Yellowstone are just visiting because those leases are only temporary.white lady killed outside of YNP boundaries

 

 

 

 

 

Greetings from The Bridge

The rules here are rather strange, but like all places, there are some who view rules as set in stone and others who view those rules as much more in line with strongly worded suggestions. Supposedly, I am only allowed one time to contact my human in such a manner once I crossed the Bridge and I used that one time when I hacked Vander’s Facebook page. But, as I said, there are some here who view rules as little more than suggestions—and for that I have to thank my old feline friend, Ding. If anyone could find a loophole, it would be her. I also figured if Vander could take over HER blog for a day and write a post, it can’t possibly be that hard to do.
I have waited some time before I decided to steal HER blog and send HER a message because I know how deeply HER heart hurt when she kept the promise she made to me when I was a small puppy. The last thing I ever want to do is hurt HER. She was—no, she is my human and hurting HER is something I never want to do. I know the day I left HER and went to the Bridge she hurt so much.
I remember I woke HER up that morning because I was in horrible pain. She tried to make it better and the only thing that helped was when she laid down on the floor with me and just held me in HER arms. She held me when the doctor lady came out to help me go to the Bridge. Having HER hold me when the doctor lady helped me was so nice because I wasn’t alone. I always trusted HER and she said that the pain would be all gone.
I can’t really explain what happened next, but some of the others here said that my body died. I could still feel HER holding me, feel HER gently stroking my head, and kissing my muzzle—but—I was also looking at all of this. And, the pain was gone. She very carefully placed my body in a pretty wagon and a nice lady pulled my body away. I heard HER say to Aunt Jacque, “I can’t watch him being taken away,” and she and Aunt Jacque drove away. I tried to tell HER that I was still there, in the car.
When we got back to the house, all the dogs I knew were still there and they could see me. I could see them. I could see HER, but she didn’t seem to be able to see me even though I know she could feel me next to her. She kept telling me it was okay, that even though it hurt her, she would be okay and I could go.
I couldn’t leave HER. Only thunderstorms scared me until that day. If I stayed right next to HER, I didn’t have to walk across a large black area. There was nothing in that area. NOTHING. She was on this side of the emptiness. On the other side was a place so beautiful and bright.
Our friend Johanna sent HER a text message. HER response was that I was scared and I wouldn’t go to the Bridge. I didn’t see a Bridge, only that horrible, black emptiness. Johanna said she was sending help. And, then in that empty blackness I saw a large tri-colored smooth walking to me. And, behind him were a lot of other dogs and a cat. Some I knew: Belle; my half-sister E.B.; my friend Cara; and my best cat friend, Ding. The tri said his name was Elvis and his human, Johanna, had asked him to come walk with me across the blackness. He said when HER dogs and Ding heard I was joining them across the Bridge, they all wanted to come with him.
Another tri smooth crossed the emptiness. For a minute, he leaned against HER legs and I could feel HER happiness to sense him by HER. He said his name was Boots and he was the smooth who made HER fall in love with tri smooth boys. Boots is a very serious dog. (Vander, take note, please…) And, then I saw HER very first heart dog. I have never met royalty, but I knew beyond a doubt, this tri rough girl is the embodiment of regal and royalty. Lena looked at me and said, “You aren’t leaving HER forever. You’ve done this before. Many times in HER life. Heart dogs like us, we find ways to return, again and again.”
Lena and I started to walk into the blackness and I got very scared when I felt HER fading away. I ran back to HER. Lena walked back to me and she growled at me. “You are hurting HER. Walk with us. Cross the Bridge with us. It won’t be forever. You can come back to HER. She will always hold you in HER heart.”
And, then Ding rubbed her head against me and whispered, “I will walk right next to you. Lena will walk with you, too. And, Boots and Colt and C.J. will be with us. Just look across the emptiness and you’ll see the Bridge appear.”
There was a Bridge. I could see it, then. Elvis asked me if I was ready to cross the blackness. I wasn’t ready. I told him I wasn’t. All the dogs she ever loved just sat down or lay down around HER and Colt said they would all wait with me until I was ready.
Two more collies crossed the emptiness. That blue smooth doesn’t seem to be the sharpest knife in the drawer but he said something that made me realize I have a promise to keep to HER, too. When she became my human, I promised I would never hurt HER. I had to leave HER.
Whiskey, the other collie who came across after the others, has a very sick sense of humor. He told me not to worry about falling through the blackness. He knew of only one dog who fell through it and that dog came back as a cat. Ding didn’t appreciate the humor.
I’ve been on this side of the Bridge for a little while now. Every night, I hear HER say, “Good night, Snapey-baby. Mommy loves you. Always.” I have gone back to HER, mostly when she’s sleeping because the two times I went back when she was still awake, I heard HER say how empty the little cabin still feels. I don’t want HER to feel hurt still.
Mommy, you were the best human a dog could ever want. All the dogs you ever loved and still love are here. Beary wants to know if you still have “his rock”. I don’t know what that means, but I promised him I would ask. Ding said to tell you “Thank you.” Lena thinks you’ve waited long enough to find another spiritual companion. I’m not sure what that means, either. Boots is proud of Vander. (Someone should be, I guess.)

And, Mommy,  I love you, too.

Always.
~~S

Special Places in the Heart

8512snapeBecause of his age and the arthritis in his right front wrist, my old champion Snape (Gr.Ch. Wych’s Prince of Summer) has become a house dog. Because of his age, getting him up and down the stairs into the basement for a bath is an ordeal–for both of us. He’s no longer completely steady on his feet while navigating stairs so he relies on me to prevent a fall. Until yesterday, even though he was slow, he could still climb them without assistance. Yesterday, after he had a bath and a complete blow-out with the dryer, I had to lift his back end on each step.

 

That assistance brought home just how old he really is. He’s eleven and a half years old. He’s been with me since he was eight weeks old and when I first picked him out, I really didn’t want another male. I was tricked into meeting him. I’m glad I fell for the ruse perpetrated on me by his sire’s owner and the owner of his mother. As a puppy, he was a bright red and for some time, I thought like his sire, he was going to be a pure for sable. Until he started to grow his adult coat when he was about 18 months old…and then that rich, deep mahogany began to fill in. _eag2742-edit-1820183777-o

Finishing his championship took time–because he is one of those dogs that doesn’t really look a lot like other collies in the ring and the right judges had to be found for him–older judges who’ve been in the breed for decades. Every one of those judges who put him up, whether all breed or specialty judge, all had the same comment–that he has a “classic look” to him. He finished his championship with all-breed points and specialty major wins.

 

Snape is my pet. My highest aspiration for my collies is that when they are retired from the show ring, they become “pets.” There is life after the show ring. Most of us will never have a top stud dog. Most of us will seldom have a top ten winning dog. Most of us will never win the Nationals, but I think most of us have these dogs who hold a special place in our hearts. The day Snape finished, while I was crying tears of joy, another person in this breed was very angry. Perhaps forgetting that I was set up behind this person, this person threw a pin brush into their tack box and announced that they couldn’t believe “that f$&^ing pet won.” Whether or not I was meant to hear that comment is neither here nor there. I did hear it, and I have not forgotten it. I have since come to realize this person is no more than a bully, just as fierce in the bullying as those who bullied this person in high school. I actually pity this person. And, I’m very proud of my “f$%^ing pet.” He holds a very special place in my heart and none of the insults hurled at him will ever take away his championship, his grand championship, and most certainly never take away that place in my heart.

IMG_20161219_135822020.jpg

 

 

We’re Not Getting Out of this Alive

It’s not a damn competition. Life, I mean…it’s not a damn competition. I’m not supposed to be in competition with anyone other than myself. Yet, I keep getting sucked into competitive mode. Maybe it’s part of human nature but the competitiveness can also manage to suck the happiness out of a being.

When I’m not writing and masquerading as a published author, I show my collies. This year has been an ugly year. I’m not sure what shifted because I’m still winning as much as I usually do, but something changed and it just wasn’t as much fun as it used to be. Competition became cut-throat. Back stabbing became the norm. And, when that wasn’t happening, and there wasn’t enough sh*t flying, some people took it upon themselves to out and out lie. Twice this year, I seriously considered hanging up the leashes, putting the brushes in the tack box for the last time, and calling it quits. A few years ago, I had already retired the “professional” shingle because I was well over the drama. It used to be what happened in the show ring didn’t affect the friendships and relationships outside of the show ring. Not any more.

And my writing career—I’ve seen far too many authors attacking and slurring other authors. We’re all in this together. I guarantee, it’s a really big pool of readers out there. There’s more than enough readers to go around. The only thing that happens when two authors go at each other in public forums like Facebook and Twitter is you make the rest of us look bad. So if you could please knock it off and at least try to act professional, the rest of us would appreciate it. If Author Aaaa says something you don’t like or says something about you, you don’t have to respond. When you do, you’ve given Author Aaaa a much bigger audience than they probably would have ever had and you’ve given them “street cred” because you’ve responded.

The only exception to that response has been another ugly trend I’ve seen in the writing world—and that’s the bad behavior of some of the male cover models. Gentlemen (and I am using that term VERY lightly), it is NEVER—I repeat NEVER acceptable to intimidate, harass, and belittle any woman for any reason. When you attack, mock, and degrade the very women who write the books that you appear on the cover of, you better believe the rest of us are going to sit up and take notice. And, we’re not going to want you on the cover of our books. Ever. We’re going to respond to that bad behavior.

Politics—Oh, dear God—I am sick to the death of the political posts. The election here in the U.S. is over. One side lost. One side won. For the love of all that’s holy, can we please remember we’re all supposed to be Americans and work to making this country better for EVERYONE? I have lost track of the people I have unfollowed on Facebook; some I’ve had to unfriend, and about half a dozen, I’ve actually blocked because of the vitriol. Guess what, folks. In two years, we get to vote on most of the Senate and almost all of the House, AGAIN. We get to do this all over, AGAIN. I can’t wait (and add as much sarcasm as necessary to that last statement).

The only thing I can attribute all this nastiness and ugliness to is competition—competition for readers, competition for modeling gigs for those covers, competition for championship or national ranking points, and competition for which political ideology will govern for the next few years. But you know what—at the end of the day, all the competition gets us very little. Oh, there is some monetary compensation, I’ll admit that. But, when the competition becomes so intense that it makes us into ugly, hateful people, it’s not worth it. Personally, I like to be able to look at myself in the mirror.