Friday, August 29, 2014

GUEST BLOG: Juliette Wade on "Gatekeepers - you're one, too"

There are always gatekeepers.

I think when we writers most commonly use the term we're thinking of editors, because editors are he most famous. We think of the magazine slushpiles and those assigned to read them, whether they be designated first readers or head editors. We think also, of course, of the agents and editors in the novel-publishing world. Gatekeepers are the ones who get to say to you,

"Alas..."

or to put it less gracefully,

"No."

Here's the thing, though. The editors and agents aren't the only gatekeepers here. Every one of us who participates in this enterprise is a gatekeeper. It's just that the job of gatekeeping without an official title is far more complex, and more likely to go unnoticed.

Say I'm online and I get approached by someone I don't know, asking to connect or even to have a live hangout with me. How do I know that person is for real, and not some sort of spammer/scammer?

Or...

Say I'm at a convention and someone wants to come up and talk to me about my writing, or their writing, or writing, or science fiction and fantasy in general. And I have somewhere to go, or I feel uncomfortable, or I've been deluged by fans (not that this happens to me!) and have had enough, etc. etc. I say no or back out of the conversation. There are plenty of perfectly legitimate reasons to do this. Some of them have to do with mental bandwidth and exhaustion rather than anything else.

However, this is also where inclusiveness succeeds or fails.

Friday, August 22, 2014

The Tajji Diaries: Alarm Clock




Dogs, like many other animals, are Creatures of Schedule. They seem to feel most secure when recurring events are predictable – the sun comes up, monkeys get up, we go walkies, then breakfast, then nap, then playtime…and so forth. They love rituals, like the one Dave has created for putting on the harness. It’s a version of Keepaway, with great romps through the living room, corridors, and open dining area. Her body language says it’s great fun, and she stands willingly when it’s all over. Interestingly, Tajji understands that this is a game to be played only with Daddy Monkey. Mommy Monkey is all business when it comes to gearing up, hence the harness is donned not in the living (Keepaway) area but in the mudroom.

To everything there is a season…
A time to pounce on cats, a time to be rubbed against,
A time to nap, a time to romp,
A time to cuddle on the monkeys’ bed, a time when doggies are not allowed on the bed…
A time to be lazily retired, and a time to impose order on the household.

Now that Tajji has settled into her new family, she feels it is incumbent upon her as the resident dog to impose some degree of order upon her monkeys. We noticed very early on that if either of us closed the door behind us and it did not latch, Tajji would very shortly poke her nose in, ascertain we were okay, and then withdraw. She was keeping an eye on us! (This was a little disconcerting at first in the bathroom.)

Monkeys and doggie do not always agree on what constitutes a proper daily schedule. Dave gets up quite early, but especially when I’ve had a rough night, I’ll sleep in, hauling myself out of bed between 7:30 and 8:00 am.

Tajji has other ideas.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

And Now A Word From The Cats…



Shakir and Gayatri
I’ve been blogging about Tajji, our newly-adopted retired seeing eye dog, all the training we’re doing with her, how she’s recovering from the stress of many years of service. The cats have played no small role in helping her to adjust, and she in turn has provided them with interest and amusement.

“What’s that? Oh, you’ve brought us a dog to play with. She’s very big and very, very furry.”

“Um, this dog is exceptionally rude. She moves too quickly and looks directly at us.”

“Um, this dog is also exceptionally stupid. Sure, she’s finally understood how to greet us politely and that we don’t like big things moving fast in our general direction. But when we tell her we’d like to play, she acts brain-dead. And what’s with her bowing to us? What the heck does that mean?”

“Shakir has finally educated the dog to the point where they can romp, even if the dog does get carried away. He bestows upon the dog the great honor of grooming her, despite getting a mouthful of fur – the dog is incredibly furry! But she seems oblivious of his signals that he’d like her to groom him in return. Gayatri is of the opinion that being slobbered all over does not constitute grooming.”

Both cats have now marked the dog as Theirs by rubbing their jaws along her muzzle or feet. But cats have lives beyond taking care of the dog. They engage in various typically feline behaviors, each having staked out several prime napping areas (that vary according to seasonal sunlight).

Gayatri has turned out to be musical. She’s an extremely vocal cat and will meow loudly under many different circumstances:

“Where have you been? How dare you neglect me for this long?”

“I’m starrrrving!”

“Out! Now!”

"Pick me up! Nooooowwww!"

“I know you want to nap but I want to knead your stomach more.”

“Piano! What is that sound! I must sing with it!”