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MYSTICAL MUSINGS

Rebecca E. Neely, Author ~ Romance. Paranormal. Suspense.

This is Why She Rides a Motorcycle

Without a doubt, motorcycles and the people who ride them elicit strong positive and negative reactions in many people, including perceptions of freedom, rebellion, power, danger and excitement. They also represent a brotherhood—and sisterhood—of strength, unity and camaraderie.

As an author of romance novels who enjoys giving her characters motorcycles to ride, I’ve done research on bikes, talking to friends who ride to get the facts and details right. As a writer, my watch word is curiosity. Very simply, I wanted to find out why bikers are fascinated with riding. Too, nothing intrigues me more than speaking with someone who’s passionate about what they do. For this post, I did exactly that, spending time talking with a woman who’s been riding bikes—all kinds of bikes—most of her life. (And who was gracious enough to educate a non-rider like me. Many thanks!)

Meet Joan Sorce, motorcycle lover. She’s also a real estate agent and a mother of two.

Joan says she’s been crushing on motorcycles since she was a child, and for years, she rode dirt bikes and street bikes with boyfriends and family members. When her son was about ten years old, she began riding dirt bikes with him. It was something they enjoyed together for about five years, until her son outgrew it. Then, she bought her first street bike, a 250 Kawasaki Ninja in bright yellow.

What does she love most about riding? “It’s like a moving meditation,” Joan explained. “I’d liken it to yoga. That may be a strange comparison, but it’s true. It’s very freeing, and uplifting,” she said, smiling, and her eyes got a faraway look in them. I could tell she was visualizing it, and at that point, I almost could too. “I put on a lot of miles by myself after a hard day,” she continued. “It’s my way of relaxing.”

Little Scoot (L), Mama Lou (R)

Joan owns both a Harley Davidson Sportster 883L, and a Harley Davidson Street Glide. These she affectionately refers to as Little Scoot and Mama Lou, respectively. Little Scoot is a blue, lighter weight bike with a smaller engine than Mama. Mama Lou is 800 pounds of big and beautiful in an ice blue flip color that changes to purple when the light hits it. It’s customized for Joan. “Customizing your bike really showcases your personality,” she said. “I didn’t really understand that at first.” She’s also interested in maybe getting a rat rod someday.

DID YOU KNOW? A rat rod is a style of hot rod or custom car that, in most cases, imitates the early hot rods of the 1940s, 1950s, and early-1960s.

 

 

How does she decide which one she’ll ride? “I love them both, but it depends on what mood I’m in. Little Scoot is lighter, because it doesn’t have any bags. (Bikes with bags are a.k.a. ‘Baggers’). “It’s good for short trips. Also, it depends on how hot it is outside, because there’s already a lot of heat coming off Mama Lou’s engine.”

Joan is big on safety. “As much as I enjoy riding, there’s a lot to be scared of. There’s a lot going on, including the rules of the road, shifting, turn signals, and negotiating threats. For example, the other day I was out riding, and there was a two by four piece of wood laying on the road. You have to be aware of hazards like that, because a car could hit it and it could kick up and hit you.”

“Riding the bike is all about control. When you slow down, you lose balance. It’s also harder to maneuver. Parking lots and sudden stops present challenges. When I first bought the Harley, I would practice figure eights in an empty lot just to get the feel of the bike.”

What’s her biggest tip for new riders? “Know how to drive a stick. Gain confidence, and experience. Start on a dirt bike in your yard. Riding dirt bikes was early training for me. It enabled me to know how a bike would respond to different terrains, like grass, mud, and gravel. The Department of Transportation offers courses. I’ve taken them twice, because simply, I don’t want to die. I’ve also taken professional rider courses, which were well worth the few hundred dollars.” Riders can also take part in ‘bike rodeos’, which are often run by police officers, to improve their skills.

DID YOU KNOW? The first motorcycle was built in 1885 in Germany. Read more here.

Joan is also a big fan of helmets, but she wasn’t always. “Pennsylvania is a no helmet state,” she explained. “I used to wear a non-DOT helmet, also known as a ‘brain bucket’. Not anymore. Tragically, a good friend of mine was in a bad bike accident. She suffered a severe brain injury because she hadn’t buckled her helmet.” Joan’s eyes turned somber. “I promised her husband that I’d always wear mine. And I do, although, truth be told, I hate wearing one. But it’s the only head I’ll ever get. I bought it for comfort. It’s considered a half helmet.”

Though Joan is an experienced rider, has received many hours of instruction, and does everything she can to ensure a safe ride, she’s still suffered a few accidents. Several years ago, a deer ran out in front of her on a stretch of country road and hit her bike. The fact that Joan was able to keep the bike up when a nearly one hundred pound animal rammed into it is huge – it speaks to both her skill and presence of mind.

“Besides scaring the hell out of me, the deer dented my fender and scratched the bike (Mama Lou) up pretty good. It was like I was watching it in slow motion, the whole thing. The deer was laying on the fairing!” And, she added with a rueful grin, “I had deer shit all over me.” Yikes! After that, Joan was able to straighten out the fender and ride home. (What’s a fairing? I had to look it up, so I’m assuming you may not know either: Per Wikipedia: “A motorcycle fairing is a shell placed over the frame of some motorcycles, especially racing motorcycles and sport bikes, with the primary purpose to reduce air drag.”

Unfortunately, she had another accident only a few weeks prior to the writing of this post. A car hit her in a parking lot, and even though it was at a low speed, it knocked her to the ground violently. She’s still severely bruised in her abdomen area, and angry, rightfully so, that the driver was so careless.

After both accidents, Joan had the courage to get back on her bike and ride, something she loves. And something she doesn’t want to lose. I applaud her for that. “I can’t let my fear beat me,” she said. “If I sell both my bikes what will I do? It would be like losing my identity. It’s not just a hobby. It’s a lifestyle.”

Joan loves to ride all year round, weather permitting. Once again, deferring to safety first, she has heated handle bar grips. “Literally, this can mean the difference between life and death. If your fingers get numb, you can’t respond as quickly as you need to.”

Joan is anxious to explore more of the country on her bike. “There’s so much beauty in America that you can see from a bike that you’ll never see from a car. It’s just not the same. Being on a bike allows you to go places you’d never be able to in a vehicle.” What’s her most memorable ride to date? “I’d have to say West Virginia. The switchbacks, and the views, are amazing.” She’s planning a tour of the United States, and says she’ll go by herself if she has to. In particular, she wants to ride on the Blue Ridge Parkway, a National Parkway noted for its scenic beauty that stretches through North Carolina and Virginia.

“In addition to riding being relaxing, and the amazing beauty I see while on the bike, I appreciate the camaraderie with other bikers,” she said. “Once, when I was out on the little bike, I’d run out of gas. Some other bikers stopped and helped me. They understand. They’ve been there before.”

Many bikers take part in group rides, organized for charitable causes. Joan is no different. “I enjoy the ride, I enjoy socializing. Often, I’ll catch up with people I haven’t seen for a long time.”

She’s ridden in various organized rides, including the Brotherhood Memorial Ride, is coming up on Sunday, August 20th, and for which she hopes to be healed enough to take part. (See Spotlight on the event below) Located in Zelienople, PA, proceeds benefit the Brotherhood Memorial Fund, and was started in memory of fallen firefighters. Other rides she’s been a part of include Chaps for Charity, sponsored by Pizza Roma, located in Cranberry Township, PA, and Riding for the Cure, held each July, which promotes breast cancer awareness. Also in August, she plans to take part in a ride honoring the Veterans Traveling Wall Tribute, which will visit Butler, PA on August 24th – 27th. She’s also taken part in the Big Mountain Run and Mountain Fest, both in West Virginia. These bike rallies also do bike runs during the 2-3 day events.

Everyone has seen bikers extend a hand to one another as they pass on the road. What’s it mean, I asked? “It means, ‘I get it’, I feel the same way you do,” Joan explained. “Not everyone waves, but I always do. I especially like to wave to kids. They’re always enthralled by my bike.”

As a lover of motorcycles and riding, one thing Joan doesn’t care for is that often, people stereotype a female biker. “I’m not a lesbian, and I don’t have any tattoos,” she said with a chuckle. “I don’t have anything against those things, it’s just not me. Sometimes it can be frustrating, that bikes are my thing. People either get it or they don’t. Basically, I just don’t fit the mold.” Again, her eyes shone, with the content of someone who’s exactly where she’s supposed to be, and doing exactly what she’s meant to do. “But I wouldn’t trade it for anything.”

DID YOU KNOW? The “Gremlin Bell” is thought by some to be a supernatural protector against evil spirits that haunt the roads looking for bikers to harm. Others believe it’s simply a tradition of kindness between riders and friends. Read all about the legend here.

SPOTLIGHT ON BROTHERHOOD MEMORIAL RIDE, Sunday, August 20th

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Recently, I had the opportunity to talk with Paul Reynolds, volunteer fireman and co-chair of the Brotherhood Memorial Ride. Ian Walker is also co-chair. Paul, who’s been a volunteer fireman for 25+ years with the Harmony Fire District, says the event is close to his heart. “The event is in its eighth year, and along with my co-chair, Ian Walker, we’re looking forward to another great event this weekend. I’m proud to say that many people have told me it’s one of the best organized rides they’ve been involved in. So many people generously help plan the event. We’re happy to have riders of all ages, and the safety of our riders is the most important thing to us.”

Paul says his favorite thing about the event is the reason for the ride – to honor all public safety and emergency workers, including firemen, policemen and emergency responders. Proceeds benefit the Brotherhood Memorial Fund, as well as the Zelienople Skate Park.

The ride begins and ends at the Zelienople Community Park. Registration is from 9am – 11am. $20 per bike, $10 per passenger. Food and refreshments will be served at the park following the ride.

Rebecca E. Neely is a writer, blogger, author and storyteller. Visit her at www.rebeccaneely.com
All Rebecca’s books available on Amazon
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Storytellers and Tattoos: For the Love of Art

book-1012275__180A storyteller at heart, my innate curiosity runs deep. As an individual passionate about self-expression, all forms of art and creativity, tattoos have fascinated me for years. And as a writer of romance with an inquisitive mind who adores bestowing said indelible designs upon her characters, I set out to explore how the two intertwined.

The history of storytelling and tattooing are both as old as time. Across cultures and countries, races and religions, both send messages, and even unite us as human beings.

Storytelling, I believe, is an ingrained part of our make up as human beings. We have always had a soul deep desire to explain, understand, teach, learn, calm, empower, commemorate and connect. Too, just as storytelling was, and is an art, so was, and is listening. Stories were told, and retold, and as man explored the globe, those same stories were shared, changed, stretched and expanded, and told again. Messages of wisdom, knowledge, values and beliefs from our collective ancestors are reflected in the myths, legends, fairy tales and other lore—fact and fiction—handed down from one generation to the next, and keep us connected to one another, as well as the past, present and future.

Today, every aspect of our lives it seems, is touched by myriad stories in both the traditional sense, in that we share stories verbally, face to face, and in the modern sense, via movies, books, magazines, music, television, social media and the Internet.

I believe just as storytelling satisfies basic human needs and desires, so does tattooing. For thousands of years, men and women have tattooed their bodies for many reasons, including self-expression and as part of their culture’s rituals. Regardless of the reason, they all have one common denominator: they give us the ability to communicate powerful messages to one another, without the need for words.

In an article at Smithsonian.com, author Cate Lineberry describes tattoos: “These permanent designs—sometimes plain, sometimes elaborate, always personal—have served as amulets, status symbols, declarations of love, signs of religious beliefs, adornments and even forms of punishment.”

Indeed! From ancient cave etchings to modern sculpture, history, art and pop culture pay homage to said ‘permanent designs’. And in recent years, the popularity and diversity of body art, which includes tattooing, piercing and painting, has exploded and been wholeheartedly embraced as mainstream, via magazines, social media, conventions, competitions and television shows such as Miami Ink.

Per an article at Huffington Post, it’s estimated that one third of America’s young adults, aged 18-25, have at least one tattoo, per a report done by the Pew Research Center. As such, the tattoo industry is one of the fastest growing retail business in America.

To get a close up, personal view of this ‘tattoo phenomenon’ at one such business and the artist behind it, I recently had the pleasure of meeting with Boney “Joe” Clark, seasoned tattoo artist and owner of Tattoos by Boney Joe in Zelienople, PA. In the business for over thirty years, he generously shared his views on the industry, the art form and some storytelling of his own.

'Boney' Joe Clark
‘Boney’ Joe Clark

When we met, Joe explained he’d recently returned from a motorcycle trip. “I’m not a conventional traveler,” he said about the trip. “I like to experience it with all of my senses. Smell the air, taste the rain, see and touch the landscape.”

Interestingly, I believe it’s these very things a true artist seeks to capture in his work. And indeed, Joe’s artistry extends to his expertise as a master body piercer, as well as his flair for metal design work.

As a teenager, Joe became interested in tattooing after being at a fair and seeing a guy tattooing people in the back of his van. He’d always loved to draw, and instantly, he thought, “I can do better.” Starting his business on a wing and a prayer, he’s faced his share of trials, including a town that was, at first, slow to embrace a tattoo studio. But in true survivor fashion, he overcame—and not just the challenges of being a business owner. Joe is intensely proud of the fact he’s been drug free since 1988, and the tattoo on his left forearm is a testament to that.

He explained the basic mechanics of getting a tattoo to me, the tools that are used, and the artistry involved. Yes, they use what’s called a stencil of the design that’s transferred to the skin of the person getting the tattoo. But that will only take the artist so far. He or she has to also be able to draw freehand for certain designs, like a face, for example. The artist isn’t really ‘drawing’ the face, at least not at first. They use a ‘map’ to build the face, and their talent enables them to complete it. Every design is unique, and the time and talents needed to complete them depend on their complexity.

For any tattoo, Joe wants details and specifics, so the person receiving it gets exactly what they want. And the more complicated, the more details. He used the example of a butterfly. “What kind?” he posed. “A Monarch? A Malachite? A Pearly Eye? Should the wings be open or closed? Should it tilt to the right or left?” It’s details like these that are necessary to ensure everyone’s on the same page, before any work begins.

IMG_3877The tattoos on Joe’s hands are one example of the fun he’s had with ‘ink’ over the years. He explained that during the Veggie Tale craze in the 90s, two of his artists had a tattoo ‘war’, each trying to ‘out design’ the other. The result? On his right hand, a kind of crazed carrot wields a chain saw, and a deranged eggplant eyes the world cockily on his left. Recently, however, the carrot took on additional meaning to Joe, when he beat kidney cancer two years ago. Since then, he’s once again emerged as a survivor, and as such, added a commemorative ribbon to the design—which the carrot’s chainsaw is now ‘slashing’ through. Joe’s message is clear: “I kicked cancer’s ass.”

One of 'Boney' Joe's many tattoo designs
One of ‘Boney’ Joe’s many tattoo designs

In thirty years’ time, Joe has designed thousands of tattoos, and tattooed three to four generations of people, even entire families. What’s his favorite thing to tattoo? “I’ll tattoo anything and love it, if it’s something that person is certain about, and it has deep meaning to them,” he said. “I don’t care if it means anything to anyone else. People may even look at it and have no idea what it is. But as long as the person who got it is happy, that’s what counts.” He told me about the woman who, after receiving her tattoo, was so moved she began to cry. “It was deeply satisfying,” he said.

I felt privileged to hear what was perhaps his favorite story, about an 82-year old woman who came to his shop with her daughter and granddaughter–all to get tattoos. When Joe asked her why she was getting it, he recalled what she said in detail. “She turned to me, and said, ‘You know kid, I was married to the meanest son of a bitch for fifty three years and I just buried him two months ago. I’m having the time of my life.’ ” And after the trio was done? This 82-year ‘young’ woman and company were headed to see male strippers. Bada bing. “She was sharp as a tack,” Joe said with a smile.

There’s no doubt Joe has had some ‘colorful’ experiences as a tattoo artist. But to him, it’s about a lot more than just the end result. He sincerely cares about the people who walk through his door, and their long-term satisfaction. At times, he’s even advised people not to get a tattoo.

Case in point—Joe told me the story about an eighteen-year-old man who came to the shop, bent on getting a tattoo that would pay homage to Michael Jordan. “When I asked him why, he listed Jordan’s many accomplishments,” Joe said. “I told him, fine. If you really want it, come back tomorrow and you’ll be my first appointment of the day. But first I want you to think about something. Remember how great everyone thought O.J. Simpson used to be? Things happen. Do you really want a tattoo like that for the rest of your life? It might not be so cool five years from now. Maybe you’re better off just wearing a Jordan ball cap.”

With that, Joe sent him on his way. Later that same evening, the man called him, and told him he’d gone to another shop where the artist had been eager to give him the tattoo. But the man decided not to get it. Instead, he thought about how Joe had gone out of his way to tell him all that he did, and it really made him stop and think. This guy cared.

And so he does. In 2001, Joe had the unique opportunity to share his expert knowledge of body piercing with the local medical community. After piercing the friend of a teaching nurse from a college in Pittsburgh, she was so impressed with Joe’s studio and his knowledge she suggested they present it directly to the medical community in the form of a seminar on piercing removal and care—a topic, at that time, about which there was little knowledge. In addition, Joe is extremely proud the information was also published in a textbook used by nursing students.

“One of the biggest misconceptions about tattoo shops and artists is they’re like McDonald’s, meaning, they’re all the same. They’re not,” Joe said definitively. “That idea leads people to start price shopping, and you just can’t, nor should you do that for something you’re going to have on your body for the rest of your life. Another misconception is that the tattoo industry is regulated. It isn’t, by and large, in Pennsylvania. That makes choosing a tattoo artist, based on their experience and standards even more critical.” That’s something Joe swears by—he holds himself and his artists to the highest standards in all aspects of the business.

Along with his passion for the business, Joe understands what makes a great tattoo artist: skill, passion and personality.

TEZ_DragonOne of Joe’s artists, ‘Tez’, a.k.a Emery Joseph Kertesz IV and Gentlemen Tattooist, was at the
studio to contribute to our conversation, and offered the following insight: “If you take away any one of those three qualities, you have a good artist, and if you take away two, you have only an artist.”

So, why do people get tattoos? “In my experience,” Joe said, “people want to commemorate someone, or an event in their lives, or something they’re passionate about, like hunting. They also do it just because they think it’s cool. And some get a tattoo because it’s a fad.” Most popular lately? “Dandelions, and as their fluff is blowing away, it’s turning into birds. Also semi-colons, and anything with script or words,” he said. (Click here to read more about Project Semicolon)

The word tattoo is thought to be derived from both the Polynesian word “ta”, meaning “to strike”, and the Tahitian “tatau”, meaning “to mark.” Without a doubt, ‘Boney’ Joe Clark has indeed made his mark, indelibly, as an artist, a business owner and a supporter of the community.

So, what’ve I discovered from my sojourn into the world of tattoos, and how they intertwine with storytelling? I believe that not only is each tattoo a story unto itself, so is each client, and each artist. As each ‘tattoo’ story unfolds, both the client and the artist are telling that story—the client, with his choice of design, his experiences and motivations, and the artist, with his execution of that design, his talent, and his passion.

TEZ_GeeseI’m also honored to have heard, and to relate the stories Joe shared with me—and to add my own ‘threads’ to their existing fabric. After all, I am a storyteller. It’s also my sincere hope that my message is clear: I’ve listened, and I’ve spoken. I’ve learned, and been entertained. I’ve understood, and I’ve connected.

I hope you do too.

PLEASE SHARE: What’s the story behind your tattoo? What inspired you to get it?

Rebecca E. Neely tells stories with a paranormal flair. She adores bestowing tattoos upon her characters, and giving them a story within a story…THE KEEPER, Crossing Realms Book 1 available now on Amazon!

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The ‘Dream World’ of Author Rayanne Haines

Please welcome paranormal romance author Rayanne Haines. Today, she’s sharing more about her latest book, FIRE BORN, Book 1 in the Guardian Series, and the ‘dream world’ that inspired it….

I started writing Fire Born – Book 1 of the Guardian Series about four years ago. I think it has been simmering below the surface for two decades at least. I have always felt in tune with the earths energy and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t believe in magic and other worlds. I often catch glimpses of things in the shadow. Or hear whispers below the surface of everyday conversation.

Often, playing make believe has felt more real to me than real life. Maybe that’s what makes a good author; the ability to step into other worlds, to hear the voices of others and bring them through.

In 2007 I went through a messy divorce and found myself losing all sense of who I was. A friend and I went to see a psychic. Perhaps it was more about searching for “the other” again than trying to find myself, but I asked my questions and the physic gave me her answers. All quite standard stuff. Until the end. She looked at me and informed me that I had two caregivers that stood in the shadows behind me. The truth of the statement hit me so hard I began to cry immediately. She reminded me that if I ever had any questions about my life, all I had to do was ask my question before sleep took me and my answers would come to me in my dreams.

What is strange about that is that I am imminently aware that I have voracious dreams but I’ve never been able to clearly remember them for more than a minute after waking. DreamWalking became a focal point in this story because it is something that I consistently question.

So why do I write Paranormal and why these characters and this story? Because I believe in the earth elements, in the dream world, in that which we cannot see. And I believe these characters have been asking me to tell their story for quite some time. I hope I got it right.

FIRE BORN – Book One of the Guardian Series

Independent, tough as nails, and fierce to her core, Alex Taleisin can’t quite believe it when she has to fight for her life against something not-quite-human in the YMCA parking lot.

That’s when her aunt lets her in on the family secret. They’re immortal—Elementals to be precise, and Alex is the long-lost daughter of the strongest female warrior of their time.

Her guardian (a freaking Dragon!) and the sexiest man Alex has ever seen gives her a choice. Go with him, learn how to control her fire, and find her father’s people, or try to survive on her own. It’s an easy choice considering she’s only twenty-six. And the Elders may already be on her trail thanks to the fight with the nut job in the parking lot kick-starting her dormant DNA.

Enter an insane grandfather, a shifter with a hidden agenda, and a witch with a shoe addiction, and suddenly loner Alex is wishing for a quiet house in the hills with the dragon she’s falling for.

But a fight is coming and Alex knows the only way to find her answers is to trust her powers and become the warrior she was destined to be.

Connect with Rayanne

www.rayannehaines.com

Twitter @inkrayanne

Facebookwww.facebook.com/rayannehaines

Instagram – @rayanne_haines

This is Why It’s Back to School for this Writer

Recently I had the opportunity to speak to my daughter’s creative writing classes. What an amazing experience. I was truly honored and delighted to speak with these ninth and tenth graders, many of whom I saw myself in at that age—full of promise, creative, shy, hopeful, a bit awkward.

After writing professionally for 15+ years, it’s a privilege for me to give back, and share my experience whenever I can. What motivated me further to wrangle an invitation from the teacher was that as a teenager, I really wanted to be a writer but didn’t know anything about it. I didn’t know any writers. The internet hadn’t been invented yet. I had no concept of career possibilities in writing beyond journalism. Nor was the kindly high school guidance counselor a help, whose counseling amounted to informing me late in my senior year that I had enough credits to graduate. So much for guidance. But that’s a story for another blog. Long story short, I ended up getting a degree in Accounting. But again, that’s a story for another blog.

With all this in mind, I set out to create a brief presentation for the classes. Certainly, I wanted to tell them about my experience, about having come at writing sideways, from an accounting career. And about how I began freelancing, and eventually writing romance novels.

But much more important to me was to get them talking. Because guess what? It’s not all about me. I even asked the teacher to have the students put together some questions ahead of time so I could be prepared, and not waste any of the 42 minute period.

I also plied the students with chocolate, knowing they would be hesitant to participate. But once I got them going, they really opened up. I asked them their names, why they were taking the class, what their favorite books and movies were. Interestingly, they much prefer a real book to an e-reader.

I asked them to do a short writing exercise, involving show versus tell (I told them how us writers struggle with that too. That impressed them. Yeah, us writers aren’t so big and bad.) I asked them to read what they’d written aloud, which is a big deal, especially at that age. I know adults who get tongue tied if asked to share their work.

What a win/win. These teenagers inspired me with their courage and their creativity, renewed my zeal with their uncomplicated, unbiased opinions and ideas. How precious and wonderful to know they have their whole lives ahead of them. I truly feel if I helped one person that day, or gave someone an idea, a possibility, or direction, then I’d succeeded.

Of course, I was thrilled when my daughter came home and told me that her friends thought I was cool. Especially after she said something like, “You? Coming to talk to my friends? That’s so embarrassing! OMG,” when she first found out I was coming.

In short, these up and coming writers made my day. And the teenage writer in me felt pretty warm and fuzzy too.

Rebecca E. Neely is a blogger, storyteller, writer & author. Visit her at www.rebeccaneely.com 

Romance. Paranormal. Suspense.

All books available on Amazon

Book Blitz for Sweet Sacrifice by L.D. Rose!

Title: Sweet Sacrifice
Author: L.D. Rose
Genre: Paranormal Romance

Release Date: September 13, 2017
Cover Designer: Wren Taylor

Hosted by: Buoni Amici Press, LLC.

Former Navy SEAL Sebastian “Bash” Lockard died in Afghanistan after leaping on a grenade to save his comrades. Little did he know his act of heroism would grant him a ticket into Heaven’s elite army as one of the few and powerful Archangels. Struggling with his new existence, Bash still retains his human memories, leaving behind a wife he loves with all of his heart. Although he is forbidden to see her, he cannot resist her lure, or the mortal desires he harbors for her.

As a young widow and nurse, Irene Lockard still mourns her husband two years after his untimely death. His absence is everywhere, and when her best friend weds, she hits an emotional rock bottom. As if summoned from the skies above, Sebastian appears before her, and they share an unforgettable night. But when he once again vanishes, she wonders if she’s truly gone mad with grief.

The only way Sebastian can remain with Irene is if he makes the ultimate sacrifice. But will she overcome her fear of losing him again to another war?

Bash’s gaze caught on a couple on the dance floor, the sight of her sinking into him like hooks and bringing him to a standstill.

With her dark curls springing over her shoulders, she spun across the hardwood, her pale gray dress flowing around her. Much like in his recent vision of her, she tipped her head back and laughed, beautiful, stunning, her smile as bright as the yellow calla lilies tucked in her hair. She swayed with a man in dress whites, a Marine, another fucking soldier she didn’t belong with. And as the rain of realization became a downpour of comprehension, he remembered the engagement, where Claude proposed to Lucille—at their wedding—right before Bash left for another tour of Afghanistan.

“Bash?” Gabriel stepped in front of him, blocking his view, pale eyes narrowed.

Bash’s hand slammed into Gabriel’s chest, pushing him away as he lurched forward. Gabriel reacted faster, though, snatching his arm and wrenching him back at least four feet. Bash lunged again and the Arc’s hand fisted in his white button-down shirt.

“Don’t,” Gabriel growled, all humor draining from his angular face and setting his expression in stone. “Do not.”

Bash’s heart punched at the angel’s fist, every fiber of his being burning with the urge to run to her, to wrap his arms around her and feel her body against his one more time. Envy, rage, longing, and sadness blasted through him in a toxic tornado of emotion ready to whip this place into oblivion.

He nearly ground his molars into pulp. “Let. Me. Go.”

“You are dead, Sebastian. You’re no longer part of this world. All you’ll do is bring her pain, bring yourself pain. Don’t do this.” Twin streams of air whistled from the Arc’s nostrils as he shook his head. “I should’ve never brought you here.”

Bring him pain? More pain than he’d already endured? No.

No.

L.D. Rose is a neurotic physician by day, crazed writer by night, and all around wannabe superhero. She writes dark paranormal romance and urban fantasy, but she’s been known to delve into horror, sci-fi, and medical suspense on occasion. L.D. Rose is a PAN member of the RWA, FF&P, NEC-RWA and CoLoNY. She currently lives in Rhode Island with her studly hubby, her hyperactive Boxer, and her two devious cats.

Sign up for her newsletter for the latest on the Senary, sneak peeks, giveaways, and other fun stuff: http://eepurl.com/bKvuXD. You’ll receive a free horror short story with sign-up!

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This is the Reason I Return to My Roots

As a writer, I’m often asked about my journey – how I got started, what kind of writing I do, what influenced me, etc. Truth be told, I find it both valuable, and enjoyable to revisit those beginnings. Not only does it remind me why I started doing what I do, it allows me to reflect on where I’ve been, and to focus on where I’m going.

I grew up in a small town, working, cooking and eating in Ricardo’s, my family’s restaurant. It was in that one level, no frills, terrazzo tiled kitchen where I developed my enterprising spirit, working side by side with my family. A memory home, that hallowed ground has been a driving force in my life, and one I revisit often.

Fuel for my imagination, it’s warm, comforting, and takes me back to my roots, especially when I’m running low on entrepreneurial gas, something an author like me needs in abundance.

Ricardo’s was a cool, Mom and Pop retro-style diner. Only at the time, it wasn’t yet retro! In true 1970s fashion, it sported lots of brown and Crayola orange, from the countertops to the paneled walls, to the vinyl covered booths. Design crimes and all, it’s a place that’s part of my soul, and though long gone, lives on graciously in my memory, and now, I’m thrilled to say, in my first romantic suspense novel, A Mighty Good Man.

What a privilege to grow up in such a place! We worked hard, and that ethic stays with me to this day. From the time I was about ten, my brother and I worked alongside my parents, aunt and uncle, cousins and the help, making, on a large scale, tantalizing, from scratch fare, such as spaghetti sauce, (you have to use pork bones), wedding soup, and bread stuffing. Lots of Saturdays, starting at 7am, we did heavy prep, mixing up ingredients in Rubbermaid tubs; pounds of butter, ground meat, celery, onions. We cooked in cast iron and stainless steel cauldrons half my height, stirred with wooden paddles that could’ve doubled as oars. I learned how to work the grill, make salads, and turn last night’s chicken special into today’s soup du jour.

And that was just the food.

The people who worked there were larger than life too, and also live on fondly in my memory. Cooks, waitresses, busboys, dishwashers; men, women, young, old, and in between—they ran the gamut from high school student to retiree, from vagabond to workhorse. Some came and never left, some worked one shift and never bothered to return—characters, all of them.

I remember hanging out at the counter with my Dad for hours, while he drank coffee and talked with customers. I would sit, fascinated by the adult conversation and the things I heard, and shouldn’t have heard. A unique and well-rounded education was mine for the taking on topics as varied as the economy, the local steel mill, sports, hunting, the president, politics, family, and religion.

Regulars inhabited the space, claiming it as their own; they made it a hub in the community, not just as a place to eat great food, but as a place to connect, to complain, to celebrate, and to come together.

The food, the people, the work, the experience—it was delicious, joyous, exhilarating, exhausting, crazy, colorful, strange, and maddening, but above all, unique; so much so, we would often laugh and say we could write a book.

Well, I did.

Rebecca E. Neely is a blogger, storyteller, writer & author. Visit her at www.rebeccaneely.com 

Romance. Paranormal. Suspense.

All books available on Amazon

Are You Catching the Winds of Destiny?

My father taught high school English, in addition to his many talents. When he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, he was able to continue to teach for a short time. During those few months, I would visit him at school, eating lunch with him, offering silent moral support, and sometimes sitting in on his classes. On one such day, the class was studying Edgar Lee Master’s poem, George Gray, from his Spoon River Anthology.

My father is never far from my thoughts, and this came to mind today. As a writer, I’m fascinated by words, and how stories and authors connect my father and I. How appropriate a poem, for all of us, every day. Looking back, I believe with all of my heart that my father caught the winds of his destiny, each and every day. I write this today, to urge myself, and you, to have the determination and spirit to do the same, whatever your calling. Happy Monday!

George Gray by Edgar Lee Master

I have studied many times
The marble which was chiseled for me–
A boat with a furled sail at rest in a harbor.
In truth it pictures not my destination
But my life.
For love was offered me and I shrank from its disillusionment;
Sorrow knocked at my door, but I was afraid;
Ambition called to me, but I dreaded the chances.
Yet all the while I hungered for meaning in my life.
And now I know that we must lift the sail
And catch the winds of destiny
Wherever they drive the boat.
To put meaning in one’s life may end in madness,
But life without meaning is the torture
Of restlessness and vague desire–
It is a boat longing for the sea and yet afraid.

Rebecca E. Neely is a writer, blogger, author and storyteller. Visit her at www.rebeccaneely.com

The Crossing Realms series ~ The Keeper, Book 1 and The Watcher, Book 2 available on Amazon

Spring Time, Sewer Lines and Storytelling

It started on Mother’s Day.

Or I should say, it stopped.

My sewer line, that is.

I bought a house a few months ago, and as a proud new home owner, I was on still on the honeymoon, filled with ideas about improvements and projects I wanted to tackle.

Enter TAG. I now know him, and I bet, if you own a home, you do too. He’s an unwanted guest that will not be denied. Many years ago, my father, a wise man, as well as a home and business owner, told me about his visits from TAG. (a.k.a. Turd Above Ground)

That night, his words came back to me with haunting clarity.

After having a relaxing day at home, reading the book my daughter had given me as a gift, and eating dinner with her and my boyfriend, I told him about some water I’d found earlier that day on the floor of my basement, near one of the floor drains. Or, rather, the evidence of it – a sopping wet throw rug I keep in front of the washing machine. At the time, I’d gotten my flashlight, checked the ceiling. It was dry. Had it come from the washer? I had no idea, and I was in the middle of making dinner, so I forged ahead, figuring I’d ask my boyfriend about it later.

My boyfriend is a general contractor who possesses an uncanny ability to fix things. When I told him about it, he raised an eyebrow in his calm, knowing way, almost as if he knew something I did not. He instructed me to flush the toilet, and run water in the bath tub.

Minutes later, he yelled to me from the basement. Stop! I ran to join him, while my brain tried to process what I was seeing erupting from another floor drain. Denial is a funny thing, isn’t it? Was that rusty water, I asked, almost as if I said it aloud, I could make it so.

No. It was TAG.

Unmitigated horror filled me as the seriousness of what was happening hit me. This was bad. Running upstairs to escape the smell, I located the home warranty information I’d been given at the closing, and called the 800 number, pushed the appropriate numbers to get me to the correct menus (you didn’t think I talked to a person, did you?), and placed my service call.

At this point, I feel it necessary to clarify that I’m not squeamish; I’ve raised a child, I’ve had numerous pets, and I worked in my family’s restaurant business growing up. I’m not afraid to get my hands dirty, and I have, many times. But this situation was proving beyond my capabilities.

Over the next few days, I learned more about pipes, sewer lines and plumbing than I’d ever wanted to know. I listened to my boyfriend’s advice; however, this particular problem was beyond his fixing scope, unfortunately. He was, however, at my side every step of the way, and for that I’m eternally grateful. I Googled and You Tubed my way through the internet, reading and watching more information than I’d ever known existed on the topic. Opinions and prices varied wildly on issues such as root killers, pipes and camera videos. My mind raced. I couldn’t sleep. What if I had to replace it? I knew it could be thousands of dollars and take days to repair.

Captain’s Log, Day 1

I had to leave work to meet the plumbers the home warranty company sent. They snapped on their black nitrile gloves and went to work, their big metal snake shimmying and rattling to some unknown tune. Again, the smell was so repulsive I fled. Thirty minutes later, I was told I had tree roots growing in the line, and guess what? The home warranty doesn’t cover it. Big surprise. I was told the line was open, to get it camera scoped, and that the roots would come back, a common occurrence in the spring time. I paid the fee and they departed, leaving me to clean up a mess I’m not sure I can properly describe in mixed company. That was the low point. The substances I cleaned from the floor and the walls, along with the creatures–yes, you read that right–made my skin crawl.

Worms. Did I mention some of them were alive?

Shudder.

And the smell. An unholy, godforsaken, dehumanizing smell emanating literally, from the bowels of my home, seemed to permeate my nose, my mouth, my very skin. If I’d showered for three days, I don’t think I’d have felt clean. Suffice to say, it was Andy Dufresne escaping from Shawshank prison through the tunnel all over again.

Still can’t sleep.

Captain’s Log, Day 2

Since I was price shopping, I called a local company. The woman on the phone told me proudly that they didn’t charge by the hour, but by the job. That sounded promising. I needed a camera scope, I said. They did that? Great. See you tonight.

I came home from work, and evidence that the line still wasn’t clear greeted me from the basement floor.

Plumber No. 2 snaked the line yet again, scoped it with a camera, and announced the alleged ‘good’ news. Since the line was in pretty good condition, I would able to put in a liner – to the tune of $9,500. Did I say the low point was cleaning up the floor? I burst into tears.

Still can’t sleep.

Captain’s Log, Day 3

The drain is open. I’m taking short showers, and checking the drains constantly, creeping up on them, afraid of what I’m going to find. All is well. For now.

Enter plumber No. 3, an old hand who both my boyfriend and I had used at different points in our lives. I’d wanted to go to him in the first place, but the home warranty dictates that their contractors must be used. My boyfriend had spoken with him over the course of this ordeal, and filled him in about what was going on. Did I mention I hadn’t slept well in three days?

I called him. He chided me, telling me I should’ve called him in the first place. Plumbers apparently have egos. Who knew? Bewildered, sleep deprived, and sick with dread about what fixing this might cost, I tried to explain the events of the last few days and found myself groping for words. Phrases like, ‘raw sewage’, ‘home warranty’, and ‘digging it up’ punctuated the conversation. We agreed on a time for him to come that evening.

It occurred to me was living in some sort of alternate reality; office admin by day, plumber whore by night.

Plumber No. 3 came. He observed with an experienced eye, asking few questions, except for me to run water, flush the toilet, and the like. He eyeballed the drains, which mercifully, were clear at this point. And pronounced, in not so many words, ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.’

I hugged him and praised all higher powers. Truly. He gave me a few suggestions about maintenance, and we emerged from the basement, friends and comrades, our bond forged indelibly as we each of us soldiered on in the war against TAG that every home owner wages.

I’ll bear the scars from this battle proudly. I earned them. And because, at the end of the day—wait for it; you knew it was coming—shit happens.

So, what have I learned, and why am I blogging about this? Common sense, in the form of an older, experienced plumber, will win the day. I still love being a homeowner. And about TAG? My father passed about ten years ago, and in the moment of crisis, his words came back to me. He used to make us all laugh so hard, and I almost felt like he was there with me, commiserating. So, thanks Dad!

Also, this blog is for anyone who’s ever felt overwhelmed, uninformed and intimidated by repair men, not to mention short on cash for serious home repairs. You are not alone. Also, this is for anyone who wonders what writers do in their spare time. <grin> Collect experiences!

And, I am a storyteller at heart. I sincerely hope I’ve been able to entertain you with my folly. And who knows? As upsetting as the whole experience was, it’s replete with emotion and strife, perfect for me, as a writer, to tap into when I want a character to suffer, say, by finding themselves in a deep, dank hole in the Earth, clawing through dirt, and coming up with . . . worms.

“May your lines be clear, your position always upwind, and TAG never darken your door.”
–A Brand New Proverb

Rebecca E. Neely is a writer, blogger, author and storyteller. Visit her at www.rebeccaneely.com

The Crossing Realms series ~ The Keeper, Book 1 and The Watcher, Book 2 available on Amazon

This is Why She Rescues German Shepherds

If you’re part of my Mailing List or my Street Team, you know I’ve been working on a special article about German Shepherd rescues. I’ve always been an animal lover, and I was inspired to learn more about rescues when I created the character of Tan, the German Shepherd rescue in THE WATCHER, Book 2 in the Crossing Realms paranormal romance series.

One of my favorite things to do as a writer is to talk with people who are passionate about what they do. It’s contagious! I’ve talked with an expert, and heard from many of my readers, who’ve shared their amazing stories about German Shepherds. (Scroll down to the bottom of this post to read them all!) Through it all, I’ve learned, enjoyed, and discovered, sometimes shedding tears, and other times, laughing out loud. But it’s all touched my heart.

I want to thank all of these generous people, who shared their time and experience with me about these truly majestic animals, enabling me to make this article possible.

Without further adieu, this is why she rescues German Shepherds…

Linda Lamek Healy, with 2 of her rescues, Roman (L) and Saber (R)

The dogs were barking happily when Linda Lamek Healy, long time German Shepherd, and all around animal lover and Foster for Heidi’s Legacy Dog Rescue, answered the phone. She asked me to hold on a minute, and with a few simple words, calmed and quieted them. Instantly, I was impressed with her easy, yet firm manner, and I knew I would have the pleasure of talking with an old hand.

Indeed. Linda, a retired social worker, has been rescuing dogs since she was a child, bringing home strays, and she’s been around German Shepherds just as long. Linda explained why she loves the breed so much. “They’re very loyal, protective, and make people feel safe. Even the calmest one, if they sense a threat, will protect their owners if they are in trouble.”

Linda knows this firsthand, as one of her precious ‘pack’ protected her when she needed it. When she rescued him, Roman had been terribly abused, and suffered health problems from over breeding. But she was able to nurse him back to health. One night, sensing trouble, he shot through her screen door to chase a burglar who was trying to break into her Jeep. Mission accomplished! Way to go Roman!

“I’ve been in love with Shepherds forever,” Linda said. Such a special breed of dog needs just as special of an owner. “They’re bigger dogs, they require patience, and I feel, a more experienced owner,” she explained.

She’s been fostering dogs for Heidi’s for four years, and currently, she’s fostering seven. In addition, she personally has four dogs. Wow! “I really feel it’s what I was meant to do my whole life,” she said.

“The dogs are my life,” Linda said, and I have nothing but admiration and respect for the labors of love she performs daily for these amazing animals. “It’s very fulfilling. I foster a lot of senior dogs with medical conditions, such as mange, malnutrition and hip displaysia. Many have also been abused.”

Her day starts at 5am, and usually, Linda has the dogs settled for the night around 7pm. Over the course of the day, she feeds them, brushes them, provides medical care, and cleans, vacuuming and mopping floors several times a day. “Because I’ve fostered so many dogs, and with the veterinarian’s guidance, I’ve learned so much about the dogs’ medical needs. If it’s possible, we feel they’re better off at home, versus in a dog hospital.”

As one can imagine, the condition many of the dogs are in when they get to Heidi’s is heart wrenching. Many are sick, have been abandoned, abused and severely neglected. Enter the Foster – an angel in disguise, who accepts and cares for these animals at what may be the lowest point in their lives.

Saber, when Linda first rescued him
Saber, after Linda nursed him back to health

Linda feels blessed to share many success stories, which she does routinely on her Facebook page. Saber is one such success story. When he came into her life, he had no hair on him except for on his ears, and weighed a mere 49 pounds. Now, he’s a furry long hair, weighing in at 87 pounds.

Linda snuggling with her ‘pack’
Linda and friend, with Saber

A lot of love, hard work and planning goes into each and every one of successes like these. Over the last year, Linda had fostered over fifty dogs, caring for them until they’re ready to be adopted. Obviously, getting them to that point is often expensive, as veterinarian bills, medicine and food is costly. “I go through 120 pounds of food a week,” Linda explained.

To offset that cost, Linda sets up a table weekly at one of the Pet Supermarkets in St. Petersburg. Donations to Heidi’s Legacy are gratefully accepted, and customers receive a discount on their order. It also enables Linda to get some of the high quality food she so desperately needs for her fosters.

As well, Heidi’s participates in, and hosts numerous fundraising events throughout the year. One such event is the annual Gulfport’s Get Rescued event, sponsored by the Gulfport Merchant’s Association, which was just held in late February. As one of the largest animal rescue events in the state, all profits benefit participating non-profit rescue groups. “Not only is it one of the most important fundraisers for Heidi’s all year, financially, it serves to raise awareness, and it’s also a lot of fun.”

Thinking of adopting a rescue? Linda explained Heidi’s application process is rigorous. In fact, some of the organization’s volunteers devote their time exclusively to accepting applications and screening applicants. Part of the contract includes Heidi’s ‘following’ the dogs. “We want to see pictures and progress. And fortunately, some of the owners are close by, and I get to see the dogs in person,” Linda said.

“Depending on the condition they’re in, some fosters stay only days,” Linda said. “Others, I’ve had for months. I have a good instinct about the dogs, and about which one will go best with which person.”

According to statistics posted at Heidi’s, “between 6-8 million dogs and cats end up in animal shelters in the United States each year. (HSUS estimate)

HOW CAN YOU HELP?

BECOME A FOSTER – Clearly, being a Foster is a huge commitment, and Heidi’s, as well as shelters in your area, are always looking for reliable, caring Fosters.

The bottom line for Linda? “There’s always a dog I wish I had room for.”

ADOPT A RESCUE – Straight from Heidi’s website, because I can’t say it any better: “Make Adoption Your First Option! A simple solution to the national pet overpopulation problem…yet effective. If we all adopted just one, there would be very few to save. And talk to others about adopting dogs instead of buying them. Adopting instead of shopping will save thousands of dogs from being euthanized in shelters every day. Every dog bought in pet store or from breeder means another dog in the shelter dies. Sadly, a dog is put down approximately every 9 seconds in the United States.”

MAKE A DONATION – Monetary donations are always needed, of course, but many other items are needed as well. Linda explained. “We always need dog food, used linens, old bedspreads, sheets, towels, paper towels, Clorox, Laundry detergent, Pinesol, Lysol, vacuum cleaners, mops and other cleaning supplies.”

BE A RESPONSIBLE PET OWNER – Plan for the care of your pet. Who will take care of your dog if you can’t? Think beyond the immediate; don’t make an impulsive decision. Get a pet that makes sense for your circumstances and lifestyle. For example, if you’re older, getting a puppy may not be the best choice. Have your pet spayed or neutered. Training, exercise, good nutrition and keeping an ID tag on your pet at all times are also very important. Above all? Love your pet, and you’ll be loved in return.

SHARE THE LOVE – Enjoyed this post? Please share it! Follow your local rescue organization on Facebook and other social media. Share their posts! You never know where it will lead. <<Follow Heidi’s Legacy on Facebook>>

MORE ABOUT HEIDI’S LEGACY DOG RESCUE

From Heidi’s website, www.heidislegacydogrescue.comHeidi’s Legacy Dog Rescue is dedicated to rescue and placement of unwanted companion animals. Based in Florida, Heidi’s Legacy has helped thousands of companion animals find loving forever homes. These are wonderful loving animals that often only need love, compassion and training to make them an incredibly awesome family member and best friend.

Heidi’s Legacy was established in 2002 as an all breed rescue in honor of Heidi, a marvelous German Shepherd that was abandoned by her original owners and left to die in the country. Sadly Heidi died shortly after her arrival with us but we have dedicated our lives to saving others just as lovable and just as deserving as Heidi was. Read Heidi’s Story.

Founded by Lori Hoffman, Heidi’s Legacy is a nonprofit, 501(c)(3) charitable organization staffed entirely by volunteers that LOVE and RESPECT animals. If a life can be saved, we will do what needs to be done. Our goal is to save as many lives as possible so they can enrich the lives of their new adoptive families as they do ours.

STORIES FROM MY READERS ABOUT SOME AWESOME GERMAN SHEPHERDS

I want to thank each and every one of my readers who took the time to share their stories and pictures about awesome German Shepherds that have touched their lives. Some are happy, some are sad, all touched my heart. You put the cherry on top of this post 😊 Without further adieu, I invite you to read on!

HONDO – story shared by Debby
We had a German Shepherd called Hondo. He worked with my husband and was a state police canine. I am not sure what you would like to know, but Hondo had many quirks and loved his job.

He was a state police dog and was very intelligent and quite quirky. He made up games when he was bored. He would run and jump and try to catch dust from the air reflected by lights. When he was outside, he would run from one of the fence line to the other. leaving a gully in between two built up mud areas at each end. My own dog would come in with her feet wet but Hondo would be covered in mud. He was very possessive of the cruiser and hated to let anyone in. I actually think he would have helped someone rob our house though. He was an excellent tracker and found a four year old boy who had been lost for almost a day. He found many bad guys as well. In fact, he liked that so well, he had to go back to training because what he would do is go into a warehouse and find the guy and bite him and then come back to his handler. The bad guy would think he was safe and the dog would leave. They sent him back in to search and he did the same thing. He did that so many times that the guy gave up. Another time, he was set to guard a prisoner in the cruiser. The prisoner tried to escape and Hondo grabbed him and pulled him half way into the back seat. The guy was yelling for help. He promised not to move after that. He was an amazing dog. He lived with us and was very loving but not when he was in his cruiser. When my husband dressed, he would wait at the door.

DESTINY – story shared by Colleen C.
My family had a long haired German Shepard named Destiny. She was a very loving and protective member of our family. The most interesting thing about her was that she loved to play soccer! That dog would use her paws to bat the ball back and forth and run forward! I had never seen anything like it. She loved playing with that ball daily. Very talented!

BUDDY – story shared by Ryan Jo Summers

I have a bittersweet GSD story. My family had two when I was young, though they both died before I could form any strong memories of them. I knew some from the local police force and admired them as incredible, beautiful animals.

I spent many years as a veterinary technician and working in a boarding kennel, later buying my own boarding kennel. I was privileged to know several great shepherds when I could borrow them from their owners.

My bittersweet story is this, going back to late 1980’s. I was working as a vet tech at a Michigan clinic. An older couple brought in their new GSD puppy, Buddy, for his first vaccines and check up. He was a lovely black and tan pudgy bundle of fur. He was going to be an enormous dog when he matured. His owners were smaller in stature and strength. They carried Buddy in a plastic tote bag. The vet and I advised them to start training Buddy now to walk on a leash and develop manners, as he would grow quickly. Oh, they couldn’t put a leash and collar on him, they insisted, he was too small. Might I point out he was already, at six or seven weeks old, a healthy and stout fifteen pounds at least. We gave them literature about training puppies and reminded them he would grow and needed to learn manners while he was small. Oh no, they insisted.

Three weeks later, Buddy and his parents returned. This time he was in a basket, and barely staying inside. He wanted out. He was a robust 25-35 pounds now, and growing fast. He had no manners yet, fighting us over being held still for exam and vaccines. Again, we both urged the owners he was growing, and going to be a big boy. Now or never.

Three weeks later, Buddy came back on a leash, and fighting it. His owners hated it. It was horrible. Dreadful. He yanked them all over the sidewalk and waiting room and exam room. He had no clue what any commands were when the vet and I tried basic obedience words. Again, we implored the owners to enroll him in obedience classes. No, those were cruel places, can’t have that.

When Buddy was six months old, he dragged his owners in and we had him neutered. The hope was to settle the rambunctious pup down.

Two months later, Buddy returned. His owners wanted him euthanized, put to sleep. Aghast, I asked why. He was rowdy and never listened to them. They could not walk him or handle him or do anything with him.

I begged to take him, stating I could work with him. I offered to buy him, how much did they want? I implored them to reconsider.

They were firm, he was out of control and needed to be put to sleep. I begged the veterinarian to not go through with it.

Alas, the form was signed, the money paid, the owners left and the doctor and I sadly put a healthy, friendly, outgoing, rawboned, beautiful, intelligent Shepherd youngster to sleep. His only crime was having stupid owners.

That was nearly thirty years ago and I still remember Buddy. I still see him, cute as stuffed bear, riding in that plastic orange polka dot tote bag. I remember pleading for his life to owners who had ignored six months of pleading from the vet and I. I remember the rage and helplessness I felt as I held this great animal and watched his young life slip away for no reason whatsoever.
Ever since then, in my storied career of working with dogs and people, I have retold Buddy’s tragic story, and used it as an instrument to urge others with similar breeds to train early, train consistently, and educate themselves as much as possible. I knew one gentleman, who after I suggested he research the origin of his breed, was amazed and finally understood why his Labrador Retriever was always finding balls and sticks to bring back to him. I would like Buddy’s short life and unfair death to be useful to help others avoid the same fate. Knowledge is power, and sometimes knowledge is a life-saver.

DUKE – shared by Beverly Laude

My childhood friend & neighbor had a German Shepherd named Duke (popular name back in the 1960’s for a GS). An elderly lady from a very prominent family in town came to their house to visit.

When she went to ring the doorbell, Duke decided to snap at her. When he did, his teeth got caught in the lady’s girdle. We watched the whole show from across the street & were ROFL.
Duke was notorious for things like this. Thanks for reminding me of fun times with Duke!

PRINCESS – shared by Linda
I grew up with German shepherds. Actually crawled into their den and played with the 6-9 pups (according to the year, the number was never the same) when we were “pups”, my brothers and I.

We were raised on a ranch in Montana, back in the days when a ranch was a ranch, and next to the foreman’s house, there was an old dog hutch, that used to be on the back of a pick-up, where the two guard dogs slept. Their straw bed was changed when the calves’ was, and it was always an event when the bitch bore her pups. She also accepted us toddlers as part of her pack of pups, and we would squirm in the straw bedding with those delightful puppies whenever we managed to slip Mom’s distracted surveillance. She must have had a helluva time getting all the dust and straw out of our clothes and our hair!

My little brother, always the one to taste something new, even ate dog food, the dry crunchy kind, with them to be like Princess. He showed the puppies how, I guess, and Mom would certainly had fits if she’d known! He would have been between two and three years of age, and I between four and five, since this was the time period when our youngest brother was born, keeping Mom busy…

Can remember her once recounting, also, about a time after sunset, when she was taking a quick walk along the path/road in front of the foreman’s house, and heard an almost silent thumping gallop coming at her from behind. Realizing that our German Shepherd guard dogs might not have recognized her at once, she stopped and started speaking softly, “Good boy, nice girl” to them as she turned around slowly. As soon as they realized who she was, they immediately stopped the hunt-mode and started bouncing and wagging. However, she always said that they would probably have downed her silently, no fuss or barking, just business, if she hadn’t spoken. Excellent guard dogs! So loyal to family!

JOE – shared by Pat Moore

We had a stray German Shepard that took up at our house. Our sons were about 10 & 13. They were outside playing under our oak tree. They named the dog Joe. I was washing dishes and looking out the window that looked out over the back yard. Our neighbors (lived up the street) had a German Shepard that they kept on a thick chain. When I looked I saw their dog at the back of our yard. He saw the boys and charge them. Joe jumped up and attacked the other dog (who was bigger than he was). I ran outside at the same time an insurance salesman jumped out of his car in our drive-way. He grabbed the boys baseball bat (sitting next to the garage door). He attacked the dogs to get them away from the boys. He drove off the other dog. I was so thankful (sending up prayers the whole time) that he saw what was happening as he drove down the road.

I doctored Joe and made sure there weren’t any serious injuries. He had a lot of blood on him but it was from the other dog. Needless to say, Joe had a home for life. That afternoon our neighbor came down & demanded we pay the vet bills for his dog. My husband told him there was no way. That his dog had charged our children. If it hadn’t been for Joe he would have hurt the kids. He also told the neighbor that he better be glad we weren’t filing a lawsuit against him for endangering our children when he had a vicious dog on the loose. Furthermore, if the dog had hurt our children we would be owning everything he owned. The man left in a huff, never spoke to us again. No big loss there. It wasn’t long before we noticed their dog wasn’t there anymore.

When we had to move we gave Joe to my mother’s friend. She was a widow and she wanted Joe for protection. He lived out the rest of his life as her companion and “lap dog”. He slept at the foot of her bed and no one was allowed near her unless she told him they were ok. My children are now in their 40’s and we all still love that dog and have fun feelings for his protectiveness. I thank God he was with the boys that day. The other dog only saw the boys & didn’t see Joe. He was laying about 3 feet from where the boys played.

BRAVO – shared by Natalya Khamone
I had a gorgeous German Shepherd named Bravo. We had him as a puppy when I was about 5 years old and he grew old with us. I loved that dog. My favorite memory of him was on a hot day when my dad would spray him with the water hose and he would run across the yard trying to hide but he secretly loved it. A minute later, we’d see him run across the yard to hide on the other side but held his head up in the air as the water sprayed him. One day, Bravo stepped on a nail in the garage and was limping for days. I remember laying on the floor crying because I felt so bad that he was in pain. He was such a loyal dog. When I was a teen, Bravo was getting too old and sick. My father gave him to a cousin and he told me he went to a house with a bigger yard so he would have more room. I never knew what became of him but I will always hold him in my heart. German Shepherds are the best, most loyal, honest animals on this Earth!
German Sheperds are wonderful pets. Also I found that strays are even more protective than most pets.

‘BOY’– shared by Vicki Burton
Many year ago, as a private investigator, I visited a residence out in the country. These folks had several dogs. All were happy, healthy, and well-fed except one; the shepherd. He was chained in the sun with no shade, no food, and no water. You could count his ribs. I cried. Later that day, I went back and asked these people why the dog was treated so. They just looked at me as if I’d just sprouted a third eye in my forehead. The woman told me I could have him if I wanted him. I loaded him up in my little compact car and traveled over 30 miles to my home in another city. I fed him, and fed him, and fed him. He gained weight. I bathed him almost every night in the bathtub. He had full run of the house. Unfortunately, he was a problem child. When I entered the house after a long day at work and called his name, he would cower and pee on himself and whatever piece of furniture he was on. But we managed. I can say that I gave that boy a few good years in life.

MINCA, HONEY AND OREO – shared by Steven Epstein
I went out for coffee and there was the North Shore animal league truck with all these dogs and cats on it. Since Killer died 2 days before my wife was heart broken. I went on the truck (December 9, 2015). I walked to the back of the truck and I locked eyes with this beautiful gorgeous adorable puppy named Minca who was 9 weeks old. She looked at me with her huge puppy dog eyes. Another man was debating whether to adopt her but I jumped right in and said to the assistant please give me the papers to fill out. I paid for her and brought her home to meet the wife and my other dog Oreo, who is a pointer pit bull mix age 7. They hit it off right away and 13 months later are the best of friends. We renamed Minca and call her Honey. She loves the name and responds on command! Honey is a German Shepard, Ridgeback, Dachshund mix who came from the Cayman Islands. She was born October 1,2015.

Enclosed are a couple of pictures of Honey and my other dog Oreo.

Rebecca E. Neely is a writer, blogger, author and storyteller. Visit her at www.rebeccaneely.com

This Is Why She Writes Time Travel

It’s my pleasure to welcome time travel romance author Donna Steele today. She’s sharing more about her new book, ANOTHER TIME, and why she enjoys research so much.

What inspired you to write a time travel romance, and what is it about research you enjoy?

I’ve always enjoyed time travel stories and shows. Of course, the admonition not to change the timeline causes the rebel in me to rear up. What if it could be positive? That’s what I wanted to explore in this book (as well as get these two characters, who demanded I write them, together). The research was much more extensive than usual for me, but hey, we time travel readers are rabid about accuracy.

One such instance i remember well is the research I did on zippers. And I got caught up (no pun intended). Just for jollies – Elias Howe who invented the sewing machine came up with the original zipper and got a patent in 1851, then forgot about it because the sewing machine was such a hit. Wait 44 years! Until 1895 for the “clasp locker” which still didn’t really go anywhere and from the description was a little too complicated. But finally in 1913 Gideon Sundbach got creative and made something we’d recognize today. He was married to the boss’s daughter at Universal Fasteners and when she died he needed something to do. See how far away I got from my story? And I still remember it? And aren’t you glad I didn’t share the ooey-gooey stuff from my medical research?

Thanks for visiting me today! I’m happy to take questions if you have any.

ANOTHER TIME – Book 1 in the Guardians of Now Series, available now on Amazon

When Dusty Williams goes into a strange bar to contemplate the ruination of his career, the last thing he expects to find is a compelling woman. He’s not even in the mood to get laid. He just wants to escape from all humanity.

Dee Stevens can’t believe she’s in a bar at all. She’s just lost two patients due to drunk driving. Whatever could have drawn her into a strange bar tonight of all times?

When the two meet, and they feel that odd vibration that seems to pull them together, they have no idea what’s ahead, or behind, them and what it can mean for mankind.

ANOTHER TIME Excerpt

“I believe we need to talk.” Dee aimed the statement at Dusty, which sobered him up quickly. He followed her to the doctor’s office and watched as she closed the door firmly behind them and threw the bolt.

“Am I safe in here with you?”

“What the hell is going on?” Dee was in no mood for any levity now. “Where are we? And how do we get home?”

“I believe the question is when are we.” Dusty held up a hand to forestall her. “I know. The whole thing is impossible. I’m the one who studies number theory. Everything I’ve ever been taught says there can be no time travel. I agree. Dee, this is no dream. Everything is too tactile. I smelled Daphne’s blood, I felt Joseph’s shoulder under my hand, and I ate a ham sandwich. As for the second question, I don’t have a clue.”

He sank into the wooden swivel chair at the desk and looked up at her. “I’m willing to listen to theories.”

She leaned back against the counter and appeared to study the floor. “I don’t have one. We crashed into something, the car proves that, but there was nothing to hit. Dusty, I did not drive us head on into something I could see.”

“I believe you.”

She took a deep breath. “Why did you tell them we were married?”

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