Never Give Up… A Dog’s Story

My guest blog with The Liz McMullen Show is out. Click here to read it and get entered for a book giveaway: http://www.thelizmcmullenshow.com/blog-monday-laurie-salzler/#comment-4599

Or, you can read it here if you already have Positive Lightning:

Zach seemed a friendly enough Staffy when he shuffled out of the shade of the house. He and his “sister” Zo, also a Staffordshire Terrier, ran out to greet the car when we drove in to check out a flat available for rent. It met my needs and three days later, I moved in.Zac-1545-300x267

My landlord’s house is a mere fifteen feet away, so I enjoy daily, sometimes hourly, visits from the dogs. My door is always open and the dogs come and go as they please. We all know if the dogs aren’t with them, they’re with me, and visa versa.

One late afternoon, Zach arrived and despite urging to come home from Cheryl, he decided to spend the night with me… and a strong bond began forming between he and I. In the days to come, I learned he was a survivor of abuse.

When rescued by Cheryl he was nothing but skin and bones. Cheryl told me she’d never seen such an emaciated dog. He had numerous lesions from fighting and having to live chained on a cement pad with no shelter for god knows how long. He subsisted on scraps thrown to him…if his owner remembered. The canon bone between his hock and paw on a hind leg had been broken and not properly cared for. So he walks with a swagger and not surprisingly has the beginnings of arthritis in his leg and back.

pl3bOn arrival, he was cautiously quiet, subdued and not sure of what was expected of him. I’m sure to his amazement, there was no aggression, no females to breed, plenty of food and water, and a soft bed to sleep on… and plenty of love. His healing had to start somewhere, and he had to be patient waiting for the memories to fade, the bad dreams to cease. It was only then, many weeks later that an internal change occurred. Zach began actively searching out physical contact. He’s a leaner, but that isn’t always enough. It’s a gentle hand he desires most. Belly rubs are his favorite. Whether lounging on the futon with me, or lying on my bed, he insists on having his head on my chest or tucked under my chin, and always the presence of my hand on him.

In recent weeks, we’ve seen an incredible change in this handsome boy. He has completely exited his emotional shell formed of the past. He ecstatically plays with Zo, he wags his tail nearly incessantly, his ears are up, and he “talks.” Best of all, a beautiful light has ignited in this boy’s eyes. Instead of defeat, bright brown orbs speak of self-assuredness, love and trust.  We didn’t change this boy, but we did give him the platform and tools to do it on his own. When he was ready, he did it.

Zac

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Positive Lightning is about learning to trust and love oneself enough to accomplish feats not within a scope of belief at the time. We learn, we grow…and because we grow, we learn. It’s in the heart, just waiting for that discovery.

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What a Character!

I’ve been invited by Jae (http://jae-fiction.com) and AJ Adaire (http://www.ajadaire.com) to participate in the Meet My Character Blog Tour. This is how it works: I have to answer seven questions about the characters in the book I’m currently working on, post my answers and then tag some other vict… um…authors. The questions are:

1) What is the name of your character? Is he/she fictional or a historic person? Chris Martel is the fictional main character in my work-in-progress.

2) When and where is the story set? Since it’s the sequel to A Kiss Before Dawn it takes place present day in the Finger Lakes Region of New York State.

akbdcover

3) What should we know about him/her? Although Chris tells herself she’s recovered from a horrific assault, there are scars that still remain. The most obvious is the jagged one across her abdomen. One she sees and feels every day. Some days are more difficult than others, and when she finds out the woman who attacked her has been freed from prison, it becomes paramount she convinces everyone who cares about her, that she’s okay. Independent and with a farm to run, she focuses on the horses.

4) What is the main conflict? What messes up his/her life? Chris is very independent and with the exception of her dogs and horses, is used to being alone and running the barn by herself. When the farm work increases because of more stalls built and subsequent horses filling them, she’s forced to hire help. The additional person in the barn is something she has to get used to.

5) What is the personal goal of the character? Chris’s consummation is to care for the horses in her charge to the best of her ability.

6) Is there a working title for this novel, and can we read more about it? In the Stillness of Dawn Here’s the blurb: Fully recovered physically and emotionally from the near fatal assault, Chris Martel built a highly regarded reputation for Went Farm as a top-notch foaling farm. In fact the demand for stalls has necessitated the building of an addition onto the barn. More horses means more work. Under pressure from her partner, Mary Jo Cavanaugh and her Gram, Chris relents and eventually hires Mitch Jordan to assist with the additional load. When her mentor and employer, Doc Hall decides to retire, Mary Jo takes over the equine veterinary practice and inherits a huge clientele as well as all the problems associated with running it. Her days are spent in surgery and treating patients. The remaining hours of the day are spent tending to the business. The extra responsibilities and work load leaves her exhausted despite hiring an additional vet. Chris and Mary Jo feel the stress of their busy lives on their relationship. Mary Jo is too tired to do anything but fall into bed exhausted and Chris is missing her. Mitch is single, cute and exceptionally good with the horses. A fast friendship forms and eases some of Chris’s loneliness. But does Mitch want more? Does Chris? Chris finds herself questioning herself, her relationship and her morals. Is her commitment to Mary Jo strong enough to survive Chris’s doubts?

7) When can we expect the book to be published? It will be released early 2015.

So there you have it. Now, I’d like to tag Marie Logan, Chris Paynter and Lynette Mae.

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A Big Game of Tag

If you’ve been wading through your favorite author’s pages on Facebook, on their websites, or other social media, you’ve probably noticed new blogs about our individual writing processes.

I’ve been tagged by my friend and fellow animal-lover, AJ Adair in a blog tour where authors answer questions and then tag someone else. AJ and I started chatting one night after she’d made a comment about the photo I’d taken of a Sphinx Moth. From that point on we discovered a mutual love for cats, understanding the heartbreak of losing one, and developed a wonderful friendship.

Sphinx Moth1-4368

 

AJ is an amazing author with a handful of books to her name. Her latest, Anything Your Heart Desires, was released earlier this year, and is the sequel to Awaiting My Assignment, both included in her Friends series. If you haven’t started reading AJ’s work, there’s no time like the present. Check out her website for specifics: http://www.ajadaire.combook signature

 

Okay, so let’s get down to what this tour is all about: Getting to know your authors a bit better, and this time it’s yours truly. We’ve been given four questions to answer about our process and our work, so here goes:

What am I working on?

There are a few things bouncing around in my hopper these days. Positive Lightning was pl3breleased in April, so my fourth book is the sequel to A Kiss Before Dawn. In the Stillness of Dawn will be released early 2015. Here’s the blurb:

Fully recovered physically and emotionally from the near fatal assault, Chris Martel built a highly regarded reputation for Went Farm as a top-notch foaling farm. In fact the demand for stalls has necessitated the building of an addition onto the barn. More horses means more work. Under pressure from her partner, Mary Jo Cavanaugh and her Gram, Chris relents and eventually hires Mitch Jordan to assist with the additional load. 

When her mentor and employer, Doc Hall decides to retire, Mary Jo takes over the equine veterinary practice and inherits a huge clientele as well as all the problems associated with running it. Her days are spent in surgery and treating patients. The remaining hours of the day are spent tending to the business. The extra responsibilities and work load leaves her exhausted despite hiring an additional vet. 

Chris and Mary Jo feel the stress of their busy lives on their relationship. Mary Jo is too tired to do anything but fall into bed exhausted and Chris is missing her.

Mitch is single, cute and exceptionally good with the horses. A fast friendship forms and eases some of Chris’s loneliness. But does Mitch want more? Does Chris? 

Chris finds herself questioning herself, her relationship and her morals. Is her commitment to Mary Jo strong enough to survive Chris’s doubts?

I’m toying with the idea of writing another story at the same time, but I don’t have a concrete mental outline for it yet. … and then there’s the coffee table book of my photography. I’ll soon be in the process of choosing photos for that.

Superb Fairwren (M&F)-0831

How does my work differ from others in this genre?

I think my readers could answer this a bit better than I can. All of my main characters share one thing in common… an intense love of the outdoors. Through their senses, I want readers to mentally see and experience things they may never have before. I spend a lot of time outside, be it in the woods, fields or near the water. I hope through my writing, one or more people per day are inspired to look around and make new personal discoveries.

Why do I write what I do?

I don’t think I could express any better what Chris Paynter said: “I write what I do so readers can get lost in an enjoyable story that hopefully will stay with them after they close the book (or turn off the e-reader!). I hope even as they finish reading the last word of the book, they’ll want to revisit the story. I also write what I do because it’s my passion. I think most authors would agree.”

How does my writing process work?

I actually have two processes: one for my blogs and an entirely different one for my manuscripts.

My blogs are solely inspired when I’m outdoors. My mind, body and soul relax and I start “writing” in my head a description of what I’m experiencing or feeling. It’s all written from one point of view… mine.

When I’m working on a manuscript, it’s a lot different. I come up with a storyline first, and then figure out a rough outline of the human characters who will best fit. I get to know them at the same speed as the reader does in that I develop them as I write. There are authors out there who come up with a complete written outline of all their characters, down to the type of toothpaste they use or which way they prefer their toilet paper to hang. I guess that’s not the way my brain works. As for the non-human characters, I know their characteristics immediately. Most are written after animals I’ve known, loved, lost and/or met over the years.

Stetson

When I compose a scene, I write it as I see it in my head. I try not to jump ahead as I’m afraid I may miss something the characters do or say. But if something does come to me roon1a-1right out of nowhere, maybe some dialogue or a future scene, I’ll write it down. (I don’t bother kidding myself. If I didn’t, I’d forget it and it would never, ever come back.) I try to stay very focused on what’s happening at any one place in my story. I will admit though, that I never know how my books will end. The characters dictate the story, so they pretty much figure out how to end it as well. I nearly panicked not knowing how A Kiss Before Dawn was going to end. kbd4 (1)Hell, it was my first book! Is there a right or wrong way to end a book? I had no idea. When I finally relaxed and listened to Mary Jo, there it was. I could think of no better way.

Upon finishing, I read through it to perform a self-edit, let it sit for a couple weeks before I do it again. Then off it goes to Emily, and eventually to my wonderfully talented editor, Nann.

…and there you have it. Because I came in on the game so late, most of my peers have already been tagged. BUT if you’re an author and you’d like to participate, jump right in. The playing field is wide open.

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I Took My First Breath Today…

…in over two years.

It’s been that long since I’ve gone to the woods. When I lived on the twenty-five acre farm in New York, the woods was literally right outside my door. And go I would…with all the dogs.

When I moved to southeast Michigan, that luxury was suddenly gone. The dogs could run without leashes only in the pastures, and there wasn’t the expanse of unoccupied woods within walking distance that we once had the freedom to roam. Metro parks abound here, but the trails have to be shared with other dogs (and they have to be leashed), bikers and runners.

So today, Leika and I took a walk. It began along a narrow dirt road lined with houses. Some are so close you could stand on the property line and touch the other with an outstretched arm. Others stand maybe fifty feet from their neighbor. We walked to the end of that road and considered what to do. Numerous trucks and cars whizzed by me on the adjoining paved road. I could have turned back right then and there, but something in me urged me to turn right and brave the traffic. Thankfully Leika didn’t mind. We were walking and that was fine by her.

A power line crossed over the road about a mile down. I paused, albeit briefly before cutting into the low brush that quickly opened up to a fairly clear trail. Powerline-8800I unsnapped the leash from Leika’s collar. She looked at me and I said, “Go. Run!” She did a little jump sideways, walked a few steps ahead, turned back to see if I was serious, and then trotted along the trail. Leika on trail-8816

The road ran parallel to the trail, so the traffic noise cancelled out any other sounds I might have heard. I couldn’t even hear the leaves crunching under my boots as I walked, let alone any bird song. As soon as I could, I diverted my direction and moved deeper into the woods. I eventually popped out onto an old logging trail.

Maple, cherry, shagbark hickory, and others interrupted the endless blue sky with their towering, leafless branches above me. A subtle light green aura filled the woods at eye level as infant leaves begin to emerge from their protective buds. I know in a few short weeks this trail will become nearly impassable. The briars will thicken and grow thorny leafed branches, quite like tentacles, that intertwine with one another.  They have no manners and spread into as much space as possible. The tips reach out and grab at clothing and unprotected flesh, quickly drawing blood. The runners on the ground are very adept at tripping up a careless step.

It wasn’t too long before the trees absorbed all noises of human intrusion. Gone were the sounds of engines and tires on the road, replaced by a entirely different living host. The woods. Towhees, chickadees, nuthatches, cardinals, blue jays, and wrens sang, peeped and flitted on either side of me as I walked. Leika bounced from side to side, exploring, smelling, listening, settling. Leika Point-8818 Cross trail-8803The deeper I walked, the more centered I became. My chest loosened and I took a deep cleansing breath. Gone was the tension, anxiety, and suffocating feeling I’d had for so long. Gone was the claustrophobia, the insecurity of putting one foot in front of the other, and the self doubt. I tipped my head back and inhaled again. In fact once I took that first cleansing breath, I wanted more. It was like a drug I couldn’t get enough of.

A deer bounded from one side of the trail to the other, disappearing just as silently as she appeared. If I hadn’t seen the movement, I would have believed it my imagination. Leika stopped in her tracks and waited for my signal to continue. A quiet rustle was all I heard to the right of me. But I couldn’t be sure if it was the deer or a squirrel picking its way through the brush. I crested and descended an easy hill. The upward rush of wind lifted the hair from my scalp. Eventually I came to a T in the road. The river was just beyond. By then I figured Leika needed a drink, so I climbed over the windfall, slid down a bank and walked the final twenty feet to the bank. While Leika drank, I looked around and saw something white sticking out from a shallow cover of leaves. As suspected, it was a bone. I looked beyond and picked out more. I waited until Leika finished before meandering over to what I discovered to be the final resting place of a doe. The remainder of her skeleton lay nearly intact. Doe skeleton-2

Loud cawing from a murder of crows told me they’d discovered something and were now harassing the living hell out of it. Intent on seeing what it was, I took the southern route. Downed trees crisscrossed the trail. Leika cleared them easily…I had to go around the larger ones, or fling one leg over, followed by the other. Leika Jumping-8820

The closer I got to the white pine tree, the louder the crows got. Whatever was perched deep within the thick needle-filled branches was probably getting nervous with my approach, which enticed the crows to a higher pitch. Suddenly a red-tailed hawk flushed with the black demons right behind it. Silence filled that part of the woods again…even as a solitary brown streaked white feather floated softly to the ground. The Woods-2It was at that point I turned around and followed the same trail back. The sun had warmed  considerably. I tasted salt on my lips from where I’d rubbed the back of my hand against them. Leika’s tongue lolled as she walked ahead of me. Her gait had slowed considerably. Instead of darting around, smelling what she could smell, she took on an easy ground covering trot.Leika smile-8832

On the way back, as is the usual case, I saw things I hadn’t noticed on the way in. A maple tree split by unseen forces, but still clinging to life…
Split Maple-8835Another scattering of deer bones…
Deer Bones-8813

…and I wondered…did the woods seem more alive now than when I first entered? Or was it me?Briar sprout-8836

 

 

 

 

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Positive Lightning

I am proud to announce my latest book, Positive Lightning was released today. Look for your print copy and/or e-book version at BlueFeatherBooks.com, Bellabooks.com or Amazon.com.

 

Kate Winter teaches dog owners how to train their canine companions. During her spare time, accompanied by her Lab, Dakota, she explores the woods and beaches on foot or horseback. She’s worried that something’s happening in her relationship, but she can’t get her girlfriend to talk to her about it.

Faith Hutchins recently lost her sight after a terrible outdoor accident. She’s dealt with anger, depression, and her blindness primarily on her own. A seeing-eye dog would help alleviate her reliance on anyone else, but the guide dog school has been unsuccessful in providing her with one. On a mission to find someone who will train a dog specifically for her, she ultimately zeroes in on Kate.

They say lightning never strikes the same place twice. But positive lightning is notoriously unpredictable and can ignite a fire when and where least expected… no matter who’s in its path.Image

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Some Things That Make me Tick

Fellow author and friend, AJ Adaire, took a particular liking to one of my photos and asked to interview me. Please follow this link to some very intriguing questions and answers.

http://www.ajadaire.com/AJ_Interviews_Laurie_Salzler.phpImage

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Provincetown or Bust

Women’s Week in Provincetown, MA, located out on the far tip of Cape Cod, starts on Columbus Day every year. This year’s dates are October 14th through the 20th.

This will be my second trip out there as a published author. Last year I was proud to have my debut book, A Kiss Before Dawn in hand for everybody to see….including singer, songwriter Cris Williamson.

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My second book, Right Out of Nowhere was released earlier this year and I will be bringing copies of that as well.

So here’s my appearance schedule….but don’t let that keep you from stopping to say hello if you happen to see me wandering around.

Thursday, October 17th:

9:30am. to 11am. The Breakfast Club Readings, Napi’s Restaurant Upstairs, 7 Freeman Street. Bring your breakfast to go and coffee. This group of best selling authors will include Lynn Ames, Marianne Martin, Sally Bellerose, Rachel Spangler, Melissa Brayden, and myself. We’ll be reading from current works and probably telling stories…which may or may not be true. You can never tell with this group.

11:45am. to 12:30pm. The Sage Inn, 336 Commercial Street. The Golden Crown Literary Society Author Chat. Sally Bellerose will be moderating (yeah, right) Rachel Spangler, Karen Badger, ,Sophia Kell Hagin and myself. Bring your questions…we can handle it!

4pm. to 6pm. Fairbanks Inn, 90 Bradford Street. Book signing with Lynn Ames, Rachel Spangler, Sally Bellerose, Marianne Martin, and myself. Bring your books and we’ll sign them…whether we’ve written them or not. I will have books available for purchase.

Friday, October 18th:

10:30am. to 11:15am. Womencraft, 376 Commercial Street. Meet the Blue Feather Books Authors. I’ll be joined by Karen Badger, Gato Timberlake, and debut author, Barb Valletto. Stop by and say hi…there’ll be books for sale, and of course we’ll sign them.

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