I got many responses to my plea for help, mostly from friends shaking their heads in disbelief and promising to spread the word. But here’s one from a compete stranger: “I think I saw the dog you’re looking for yesterday about 6:45 pm running down Crenshaw near Silver Spur. He seemed to be very aware and staying out of the way of the cars. I tried to stop, but he disappeared so fast. I sure hope he is found and is okay. He’s so cute.”
The search continued . . .
Friday 3/27/09 To say he just slipped between my fingers is an understatement. Yesterday I got a call around 4 pm from a neighbor who had just seen him nibbling on the kibble in my own front yard! I charged outside and saw him running up the street, so I jumped in my car and drove in the direction he had run. There he was, trotting around the corner. SLOWLY I followed, careful not to frighten him. He stopped and looked at me. I could have sworn he smiled. Then poof! he was gone. Into a yard, down a trail, or over a hill. There are a million different hiding places around here. Time to get serious . . . I heard about “a guy” with a trap. I called the “guy,” and he said he’d loan me his trap. I recruited Mark (husband) to go with me because I had to meet the “guy” that night behind a Denny’s in Carson. We went. We parked. We waited. A van pulled up and a guy got out. Mark rolled down his window. The “guy” looked like a drug dealer – straggly hair, tattoos, shorts and flip-flops in 50 degree weather. He peered in and said, “You Julie?” And I said. “Yeah.” And Mark said, “Got the trap?” And he said, “In the van.” And I said, “Mark, you get it; I’ll wait here…..” or something like that. Anyway, we made the exchange. Mark and the guy started chatting, so I got out to see what was taking so long. Mr. Trap-owner was actually very nice and wanted to give me explicit, detailed instructions. In fact, he would not shut-up. Then he introduced us to his two “sweetest in the world” pit bulls. Ok, time to go. Mark gave him a twenty for his trouble. As soon as we got home, I set the trap out in the front yard. When I got up this morning, I held my breath and crossed my fingers and went to check the trap. Inside there was . . . a raccoon.
So that’s where we are. Tonight I will try again with different enticements. No doubt I will catch another raccoon or a skunk, possum, or grizzly bear. I’ll be up early tomorrow (Saturday) morning to begin another search. If anyone wants a nice morning walk, be at my house at 7:30. Please keep spreading the word – it’s the only way I will find him! When this is over, I’m going after the Lockness monster…. Julie Brown, exhausted dog lover
Again, a flurry of responses: Here’s a good one with sensible advice: “Having had this experience a few times, if you do catch a skunk, throw a plastic tarp over the cage first so the skunk won’t see you coming. Then open the door and back away, trying to stay out of sight. The skunk will eventually exit the cage, and you may have avoided being sprayed. Even if it does spray, the spray will stay on the plastic and won’t stink up your house and yard.” And my favorite: “Julie, it appears that you are seeing this dog everywhere now. I think you should name him “Elvis.”
And what’s that got to do with writing anyway?
One of my writing colleagues recently published an article about prejudice against beauty. What? Who doesn’t like beauty? We all enjoy seeing beautiful things, places, faces. But what we don’t usually consider is how that pretty face makes us feel. Envious? Intimidated? Intrigued? Superior? Before that gorgeous gal utters a single word, have we judged her based on appearance?
Drawing conclusions, positive or negative, and making assumptions about people according to how they look is human nature. If I see a good looking guy driving a fancy-schmancy car, I think he’s rich. But he could be the chauffeur, the son of a rich guy, the boy-toy of an heiress, a car thief . . . who knows? From a young age, we are taught not to judge a book by its cover (or a man by his car), but we can’t help it.
From Science Daily: “Contrary to what most people believe, the tendency to be prejudiced is a form of common sense, hard-wired into the human brain through evolution as an adaptive response to protect our prehistoric ancestors from danger.” Okay then, it’s all about survival. While we’ve come a long way since the caveman days, we cannot ignore our instinct to be wary of those who might harm us, thwart our plans, or get in our way. Stereotypes help us make sense of the world, and we want to be able to look at people and think we know what they’re about.
So what do stereotypes have to do with writing? For starters, it’s one way writers create surprises, twists, and tension. We take preconceived notions and turn them on their heads. The drunk, depressed girl with no life becomes the one who solves the mystery (The Girl on the Train); the nerdy newspaper reporter turns out to be the super-hero (Superman); the ambulance chasing, low-life lawyer is at his core a noble advocate for the truth (The Night Of); the outcast, scrawny dog/wolf steps up to be the leader of the pack (Balto).
As writers, we often give a protagonist prejudices as a way of showing character arc and creating tension. The protagonist must evolve, have a change of heart, or experience a revelation in her quest for whatever it is she desires. And it’s the “will she or won’t she” question that keeps the reader in suspense.
So the next time you draw a conclusion based on nothing more than appearance, don’t feel bad. It’s your inner caveman at work. Just know, you might be wrong . . . then again, you might be right.
Read Mark Fine’s insightful article here: http://www.thefinemaxim.com/are-searchyou-prejudiced-against-beauty/
Would love to know what you think . . . And please follow my blog by entering your email in the box on the main page. Thanks!
There’s no magic . . .
I’m in the midst of querying literary agents. It’s hard work, painstaking actually.
To do it right, authors spend countless hours researching, investigating, and tracking. Landing an agent can take months. Or longer . . . Continue reading
In the spirit of giving during the holiday season, 100 percent of my royalties from The Long Dance Home will be donated to The Mar Vista Gardens Steppers, a non-profit dance program located in a public housing development in Los Angeles. In addition to dance instruction, Steppers provides at risk children and teens with the inspiration, mentoring, and support they need to help break the family cycle of poverty.
Every royalty penny I earn during December will go to this wonderful program. Please help me support The MVG Steppers and the Boys and Girls Clubs of Santa Monica.
About the book: The Long Dance Home is a sweet, funny, romantic holiday story. Cece Camden, a cautious, organized planner, has her life all figured out. That is until she doesn’t. At the time of her twenty-ninth birthday, nothing goes according to plan, and the disciplined, level-headed, former ballerina is thrown into turmoil. With financial woes and boyfriend trouble, Cece makes an impulsive decision that sets into motion the unraveling of her meticulous life plan. Set in a small town at Christmastime, The Long Dance Home is about choices that alter life’s path and dreams that come true when they are least expected.
By the way, I love bookclubs, and it’s great fun to Skype with groups who have read the book. Let me know if your bookclub is interested! If you would like a signed copy for yourself or for gifting, please email me at email@example.com.
Thank you so much for helping me support The Mar Vista Gardens Steppers, and I hope you enjoy reading The Long Dance Home.
Available on Kindle for $2.99 and in hardcopy wherever books are sold. http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00ET55U0M
As NANOWRI winds down, it’s time for you to amp it up! With only a few days left in November, planning, time-management, and motivation are what will get you to the finish line. Here are three things you must AVOID! Continue reading
We hear endless reports about the drought in California, the potential extinction of the Northern White Rhino, and the disappearing rain forests. But does anyone care about a certain type of human being whose numbers are dwindling at such a rate they should be added to the endangered species list? This creature is disappearing faster than pay-phones and pop-tarts (for anyone who has never heard of a pop-tart, it is a toaster pastry that is delicious but not particularly healthful that we ate in the car on the way to school when I was a kid). What kind of human is this, you may ask?
“More sex,” he said.
I was having coffee with an old friend, a publicist, who had offered advice on book promotion. I hadn’t expected “sex” to be on the agenda, but he was the expert, so I went with it. And he was, after all, doing me a favor. He even paid for my double-shot, low-fat, half-caff latte.
I took a sip and licked some foam off my upper lip. “Go on.” Continue reading