Friday, April 18, 2014

GUEST BLOG: Dave Trowbridge on Rehabilitating Our "New" Old Dog

One of the joys of having a dog-savvy partner is being able to compare notes, especially when faced with a challenged dog. Here are some insights from my husband.

When we began looking into ways to rehabilitate Tajji, at least one source noted a tendency for a dog to backslide for “three to seven days” in the relatively complex training required. Two weeks ago we noted something like this in a rebound in Tajji’s reactivity to other dogs, culminating a couple of days ago in her “going off” at an empty yard where she frequently sees a reactive GSD, then nowhere in evidence. About a week ago she added  barking at pedestrians at some distance. Despite the warning, her regression was a bit disheartening after the more rapid progress of the previous five weeks.

Enlightenment followed last Tuesday, in conversation with one of Tajji’s former owners. Deborah and I had misunderstood the order of events, believing that Tajji’s disorderly behavior was the result of not knowing how to behave outside a service harness. Instead, it turns out that the barking and lunging had developed while she was working. Of course, her blind person had little or no warning, and it got so bad that people were crossing the street to avoid her.  Her owners worked with more than one professional trainer, but nothing helped, and so she was retired.

In short, she had a nervous breakdown.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

[link] Bonnie talks about tango dancing and cancer

Here's a link to a short clip from the video the Smart Patients folks made of Bonnie. She'd gone tango dancing, oxygen tank and all. I hand in her favorite pair of shoes, red satin. The 7 1/2 cm heels are also the size of the largest of her lung tumors at the time she went into hospice. Damn, I miss that woman.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Blog Hop: What I'm Working On Now

Mary Rosenblum passed on this blog meme to me. Check out her answers, too.

What am I working on? I’m working on two novels, drafting one and revising another. The first is for a project I can’t announce yet (stay tuned!) but I am enjoying the special delight of beginning a new novel. I began the second about a year ago, purely for my own pleasure, and it provided a precious personal sanctuary while I was taking care of a dying friend. Its working title is Penumbra, and here’s the skinny:

What happens when a science geek falls in love with a vampire? High school senior Esther Goldberg has smarts and a no-nonsense approach to life, a lesbian science geek determined to pursue her dream career as an astronomer. Esther’s family – her widowed, overworked mother, phonograph-playing aunt, and her great-uncle, a gentle soul still wounded from surviving a concentration camp – doesn’t have a lot of money, but they do have a lot of love, even when they don’t entirely understand her. When a mysterious and beautiful girl joins Esther’s AP Physics, the entire class falls for her, Esther included. Messages in Marielle’s handwriting appear in Esther’s notebook and as quickly disappear, and Marielle herself utters cryptic references to “we are both creatures of the night.” That’s only the beginning of Esther’s adventure...

It’s so interesting to move back and forth between stories in such different places in the creative process. In my editing work, I’m putting together a series of author interviews for Stars of Darkover and preparing to edit the next Darkover anthology, Gifts of Darkover (2015).

How does my work differ from others of its genre? I’m not sure that it does; there are so many talented and accomplished writers in the field of fantasy and science fiction, some of them with imaginations so wild, I feel downright conventional and definitely in distinguished company. However, if I were to look at the recurring themes, the “hallmarks” of my work, they would include heroes with compassion and brains, the many ways we heal individually and in community, very cool animals, very cool love stories, and a deep sense of romanticism.

Why do I write what I do? I write fantasy and science fiction because I love to read it. I get to make my living by indulging in my not-so- guilty pleasures. A distant second reason is that this is an amazing community, contentious and loving and sometimes life-saving.

How does your writing process work? I sort through the packets the Idea Fairy has left under my pillow, looking for the shiniest. Of those, I pick a few with potential to actually become stories. Sometimes, I have to shuffle them around and mix-and-match. Eventually I reach an ignition point… Okay, seriously: Right now in my career, with the exception of the on-spec novel I mentioned above, I sell on contract, which means I hand my agent a detailed outline (and sometimes sample chapters) and when we have a contract and advance in hand, I get to work. I more or less follow the outline, drafting quickly – 1200 to 2500 words a day, six days a week. Then I print the mess out, attack it with a red pen, rinse and repeat. At some point, it goes to a trusted reader, rinse and repeat, and then to my agent. At some point, I gird myself up to cope with editorial revisions, reviewing copy edits, and proofreading. I love revising a book because I see patterns and connections I had no idea were there. It’s like discovering a new solar system in your garden. 

The drawing is by Ernst Keil, 1871.