anxiety

SIBA Tradeshow


After learning I would be going to the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance trade show in Savannah about two months ago, it’s hard for me to believe it’s already over with!  Like Christmas day, where we work our way up to the moment and before we’ve had a chance to let Christmas dinner digest, it seems like we’re taking the decorations down.

I was supposed to fly, but after realizing the entire trip would take 8 hours with the waiting at the airport, + the layover, etc., I decided to drive.  Friday morning I headed out at 7:00 a.m.  By the map calculations, it would take about 4 hours and 20 minutes to get there.  Admittedly, I was a little lead footed due to nerves.  Couple times I looked down and I was going about 85 m.p.h.  Yikes.  Before I knew it, I was only an hour away.

almost-there

My first event was at 2:00.  I arrived at around 11:15, found parking nearby, got checked into the hotel, and finally, registered.  How cool does that badge look, right?  That little blinking turtle thing was for a donation of $20.00 to support bookstore owners/employees, i.e. BINC which stands for Book Industry Charitable Foundation.  You can click on the link there, and read about what they do.  I also voted on the Bibb Pick – which I now realize I had my badge turned the wrong way when I took this pic, so it doesn’t show the sticker that says, “Bibb, I voted!”  For the Bibb pick, (named after Matt Bibb) you choose two independent bookstores to support, and then decide two ways to support them. The count is tallied, and whichever bookstores win, they are then supported in whichever manner chosen.  The two things I elected to do was a $ donation, + tweeting out about the bookstore.

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My first event was the all around signing at 2:00, pictured below.  Things were still being set up.  Me and little ole Dixie were right in the middle of the room.  You couldn’t miss us.  🙂

signing-event

I was also on the Southern Reads Panel which I don’t have any pictures of, because I was too nervous, the room was as tight as it could get, and we were in chairs at the front, practically in the laps of the “audience,” i.e. booksellers.  We scattered to the wind before I even thought to say “Hey, how about a few selfies?”

A few of my fellow panelists gave me copies of their books, (and DESPERATION ROAD’s Michael Farris Smith offered me a few sips of his Johnny Walker and water – which I needed.  I think I could have drank the whole thing)  Ashley Mace Havird was kind enough to hand me a copy of LIGHTNINGSTRUCK, as did our panel moderator, Martin Pousson, whose BLACK SHEEP BOY promises to be a compelling read, with plenty of Louisiana bayou steaminess.  He signed it “To Donna, with thunder.”  I love that.

The other two books…one came from an author from Raleigh author, Adam Jones’ who wrote FATE BALL.  He came forward to talk to me because of our Raleigh connection.  And the other book “IT’S NOT LIKE I KNEW HER,” by Pat Spears, I picked up during the Publisher’s exhibits, when I found out it was edited by one of my favorite authors – Dorothy Allison.

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After the two events, I spent time milling about with everyone else, having random conversations with booksellers and authors alike.

Savannah is a beautiful city.  None of the pictures I tried to take did it justice by any stretch.  There are huge oaks loaded with Spanish moss, and horse drawn buggies, and that salty scent of the Savannah river nearby. horse-drawn-buggy

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View from the room

Saturday  I made sure to drop in on the publisher’s exhibits and it seemed everyone under the sun was there.

exhibits

I made a bee line for American Bookseller’s Association – the folks who nominated DIXIE DUPREE for the Next Indie Pick, so I could thank them.  You can just make out their blue and white sign (ABA) towards the back of this pic below:

more-exhibits

In the end, I met a bunch of other authors, and was invited to come visit with booksellers, which was the whole point of the trip – so I’ll say it was a big success!

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First Interview From The Daily Record


I’m providing my first newspaper interview since many of you who follow the blog aren’t connected with me on Facebook, or on Twitter where it was shared.  I thought you’d like to read it.

Enjoy!

clip-Daily Record-FeatureAug2016-DIXIE DUPREE

White Noise – Redux


I posted this on my blog in November of 2014.  Considering all that I’m seeing, watching and hearing, I thought it might be worthwhile to dredge it up and post again.  I’ve become sort of…what’s the word, disenchanted? Dismayed? Disillusioned? 

Assume what you will after reading.  You won’t hear a peep about it from me.  🙂

ORIGINAL POST, 2016 updates in italics:

On this blog,when it comes to certain topics, this is what you’ll get:

WHITE NOISE

WHITE NOISE

When I started http://www.donnaeverhart.com back in early 2011, my intention was to focus on what was happening with my writing, with occasional family stuff thrown in, a book review here and there, photographs I’ve taken (strictly amateur), and whatever else I could dredge up I thought interesting.  I knew there would be certain topics I would steer clear of, and to this day, I’ve held true to that conviction.  (2016 update – yep, still the same!)

Topics I am determined not to post about are my religious, political, or ripped from the headlines viewpoints.  And that’s because everywhere I turn, from the TV, to radio, to Facebook, to other blogs, and who knows where else, that’s what I already get.  What do I have to add to the fray?  Nothing that hasn’t already been said.

Anyone can do what they want with their social media.  I don’t care.  It’s their space, their time, just as this space is mine.  Sure, I’ve waded into debates on other sites here and there a few times.  With the last one, I decided never again.  (2016 update – I’ve forgotten about this. Must’ve been real important.)   To the best of my ability, I’ve chosen to ignore being drawn into what can only become an inflammatory conversation.  The few comments  I did make on other blogs never made me feel better, and I knew I wasn’t going to sway any opinions no matter how many facts I lobbed over the internet fence.  It is/was, in my opinion, time wasted.  Besides, too much can be lost in this sort of online dialogue.  Sometimes the hot button topics are just too sensitive and difficult to parse into words that will go out to be consumed without that personal touch of voice modulation (are they yelling?), gestures, (slamming a hand down?) and eye contact, (or not) and a myriad of other human interactions. 

There are some who are very good at sharing their opinions with the right sense of diplomacy, yet no matter how eloquent they may be, somebody’s gonna get pissed.  Somebody’s gonna disagree.  It’s a no win situation.  Call me chicken.  Call me weak.  Hey, maybe call me…smart?  I have viewpoints on all of it, but, do you honestly care what I think about religion, politics or the latest news event?  I doubt it – especially if my opinion differs.

My other point is, what does any of that have to do with my writing goals and journey?  Not a thing.  In my opinion, it would be a turn off if you came  to read about the usual stuff I’m blathering on about, and got blasted with my personal opinions.  It’s not relevant to this writerly space which I consider almost sacred.

In that regard, here will always be like white noise, because there are already more than enough sideline analysts and commentators out there.

Aren’t you glad? 

Here.  Here’s some cloud pictures to look at.  I do a lot of sky gazing.  Every time I look at clouds, that Joni Mitchell song comes to mind, but this stanza where she replaces “clouds” with “life” seems appropriate.

“I’ve looked at life from both sides now
From up and down, and still somehow
It’s life’s illusions I recall
I really don’t know life at all.”

~Joni Mitchell~

 

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There Is Nothing There


Summer evening, late. The road traveled lies within city limits, moonlight over a pastured landscape, blackened shadows of barns line a ridge while cattle bed down within a barbed wire fence.  Along the road moves a car, sporty red, fairly new, the driver, a young woman.  She’s tired, her fatigue earned by a previous late night and then an all day job, followed by another late night.

She drives with windows down, a sultry breeze skims in and out, occasionally scented with mowed grass and wild lavender.  A pop station plays a top forty list, barely audible.  The road is as familiar as the rest of her routines.  It is the route home.

Her mind wanders over the day, and the evening.  She’s just left the home of a friend.  She should have been in bed hours before.  An internal thought floats, I’m too tired to be out driving, followed by a vague movement in her peripheral vision.  She automatically turns her head to see-only it’s not possible anything could be there, just outside a car going forty-five m.p.h.  She’s right.

There is nothing there.

Another thought blooms, I’m so tired I’m seeing things.  Seconds later, a row of mailboxes snagged by the car’s high beams also captures the surprising view of an old man.  He is bent over, as if to pick up something on the ground, while glancing back at her over his shoulder.  She swerves to avoid him, and looks at her rear view mirror.

There is nothing there.

Inexplicably, she is filled with a sense of dread.  As she passes an old abandoned house, she senses something, a presence, a nightmare quality awareness entering the car.  The passenger seat, she feels she shouldn’t look there.  She can’t explain why.  Heart rate elevates, hands get sticky on the wheel as she tells herself, act normal.  Act like nothing is wrong.  Turn up the radio.  Sing, if you can.  At the old grist mill, even if the light is red, go through it, DON’T STOP.  You can’t stop.

She can’t explain why she’s having these thoughts, yet, her hand goes to the radio and music fills the car.  She hums because she can’t form words.  She thinks of the word evilUninvited evil.  The stop light is at the bottom of a long hill.  It’s RED.  She swallows and her heart bumps erratically.  Foot on the gas, her driving is somehow steady.  She keeps humming.  The grist mill is to her right. The old wheel is turning, and frothy water spills in a cascade.  She hasn’t slowed down.  The light is still red.

Twenty feet from the light.  She is going too fast.  She plans to run it.

It flips to green.

Ascending the hill beyond the light, she is suddenly at peace.  The past minute or so dissolves into night air.  There is no explanation for what she just experienced, only relief she no longer feels that strange sense of foreboding.

If I wrote horror stories, I’d use this material in some way, as a beginning for someone’s world falling apart, where they can’t tell what’s real, what’s not, are they crazy, or are they really experiencing events which get more bizarre and scary.  But I don’t write horror, and in some ways I’m glad, I almost scared myself writing this.  🙂

And here’s the thing,  this is a true story.  This happened to me about twenty-five years ago, and I’ve never forgotten it.  So why make a blog post about it now?  Because…about a month ago, I watched Abigail for the day.  I took her to my Mom’s for a visit, and the drive to take Abigail back home took me down this road for the first time in many years.  I thought about it for the first time in a long while.  My question has always been, what the heck happened?  What WAS that?

What do you think it was?

Dark Hwy

 

 

 

Sweet, Blissful Sleep


An update.

Remember this post?

It got worse before it got better.  Obviously we’d been hearing “noises” for a while.  After the last rant about this issue, we went right out and bought one of those Hav-A-Hart traps – only, we didn’t use it right away.  Maybe it was the holiday crush, or maybe the thought that because it was warm outside – it would stay outside.  Ha.

And then?  Worse arrived.  Not only did the activity pick up, it moved about, migrating from the upstairs doorways and the hardwood floors directly below our feet to…the kitchen area and the ceiling over our very heads.  It also began to act as if it had an alarm clock.  Promptly at 6:00 p.m. every night it would get started.  There it was!  In the wall by the buffet.  The wall behind the cabinets.  The cabinet with the double oven.  We’d be listening to the news, enjoying our end of the day wind down, and here would come the interloper, the unwanted guest.

We went from non-action to all out war.  I called a pest control company.  Great guys.  They gave us advice.  Squirrels, they said.

“But…(said I) squirrels are diurnal, not nocturnal.  We are hearing this thing starting at 6:00 every night – the squirrels are in bed.”

“Not if they have an attic to play in.”

“Oh.  Great.  So, it’s true, we have squirrel squatters.”

Smile.  “Yes ma’am.”

So, they sprayed for bugs.  Set off some bombs.  For bugs.  And threw out some rodent plugs (for mice, not squirrels).  Once that was done (yay, at least there would be no more creepy pine beetles as big as a surfboard) a suggestion was made by one of the guys.

“I saw you have one of those traps?”

“Yeah.  We haven’t used it yet.”

“Maybe put it in the attic and see what you get.”

Hm.  Our plans exactly except we hadn’t done it.  It was like we wanted it to disappear by…magic?

So, late afternoon that same day we got out the trap, loaded it up with peanut butter, and put it in the smaller section of attic that is directly over the kitchen.

We shut the little attic door, went downstairs and waited for the antics to commence.  Promptly at 6:05 p.m. scritch scratch, scurry, scurry.  It was hard not to get out the broom and bang on the ceiling like I’d been doing.  I tuned it out – sort of.

Next day, I checked the trap.  Doors still up, nothing.  Second night, 6:02 p.m., (I swear this thing had a wrist watch) the noises began again.  I ignored what sounded like a full blown race being conducted above my head best as I could.  Later on, around 8:30 or so, I realized there was no noise.  I figured it’s moved to another wall – it’s done this before, this little, wily “whatever.”

Next day.  I was cleaning house, and remembered, oh, I need to check the trap.  Might as well do it now.   I opened the little crawl space door, (screeeee) stuck the flashlight in, and felt a little ba-bump of my heart when I saw the trap doors were DOWN!  I’ll admit, I was a little scared – for some reason.  WHAT IS IT?  What’s in THERE?  WHAT IF IT’S A SNAKE! It was soooo quiet.  Too quiet.  Even when I had opened up that noisy door and panned the light over the cage.  Silence.

What was it, you ask?  Well, let me show you.

THIS.  And, it had been quiet because it had pulled in all the insulation it could grab with it’s ever so cute little paws, made a nest and was SLEEPING.

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Tell me that’s not the sweetest, most adorable face?!?!  Look….at it.  I just wanted to hold it and pet it.

All of my aggravation?  Pffft.  This was not what I expected.  A Southern Flying Squirrel.

I’ll admit, I had no idea we had them here because I’ve never seen one.  Ever.  I used to when we lived in Michigan, back when I was in 3rd and 4th grade.

Here?  Nope.

So, I got the cage out carefully.  Put it in the back of my vehicle and took him (her?) off to the Rail Trail, where I opened the hatch and out it flew – well not literally, I mean it ran fast.  Because they ARE very fast.

Freedom!  S/he’s a little hard to see, but there’s the backside with the tail draped over a branch.  It was the flat tail that gave it away to Blaine.  Soon as I described it and showed him these pics, he said, “look up flying squirrel.”

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So far, so good.  No new noises.  Yay!  No more worries about the house burning down due to chewed wires.  Yippeee!

Instead, now I’m worried about the cold snap and how this little one will fare.

I got “the look” from hubby on that one.

He knows I’m tenderhearted through and through, a real pushover – until something keeps me awake.  Grrrr.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Overload


Every day my inbox fills with information I’ve requested.  Writing blogs I’ve subscribed to, online writing or publishing magazines, and a variety of other writing how to material.  I’ll stare at some of it for days, all good intentions of reading the material, only to get tired of seeing it stack up.  Eventually, I just hit delete, delete, delete.  Lately, I’ve started to classify much of it as clutter as in I’m beginning to feel a bit overloaded with the need to keep my inbox somewhat organized while “feeling” like I’m not wasting time by doing so

I realize there are some deliveries into my inbox very worthy of reading.  I ran across a post yesterday I felt was extremely helpful, but, mostly, staring at a full inbox just makes me feel like I’m always behind somehow.  I’m sure I’m going about it all wrong, as in I don’t have a defined process for how I work.  I don’t say I’m going to read the inbox from 8:00 – 9:00, then work on writing from 9:00 to 1:00, and then finish up with more reading to end the day.

Pffft!  If only I were THAT disciplined.

In addition to the email influx, I’m not counting the two magazines I get, Poets & Writers and Writer’s Digest.  I’m a year behind in those – at least.  I have them chronologically stacked on my night stand along with the ever growing stack of books I’m reading, because I paid for them and I can’t bring myself to de-clutter by throwing them out.  What if I miss THE article that makes ALL the difference in my writing???

And then, there’s the notorious TBR pile.  What I can’t seem to stop doing is buying books.  Right now, I think I have 75+ books to read.  I just bought three MORE this week. But, let’s be real.  I won’t ever stop buying books.  I won’t ever stop reading them.  As I’ve said before, I only read at night and by the time I get to bed I’m usually so tired I only get a few pages in. One thing I do think I could do less with is the influx into my inbox, and that general feeling of guilt I have when I don’t read everything sent.  I don’t know why I feel that way, but I do.  And, in thinking about it, if I’m simply going to delete them, then why bother having them delivered?

Therefore, I’ve been thinking about reducing the load. I’ve been thinking about unsubscribing to some of the sites I’ve been receiving emails from for years.  I’ve been thinking about trying to follow that “sensible” daily plan for when I’ll read, and when I’ll write.  My hope would be to have a feeling like I’ve actually accomplished something – mainly towards my writing goals – and have enough time to sit down and read that ever growing stack of magazines and books in the afternoon.

Books in the middle - only part of that huge TBR pile.

Books in the middle – only part of that huge TBR pile.

Sure, I’ll miss seeing some of those articles, but I can always visit sites at will.  I’ll have them bookmarked, I just won’t get the daily automatic dump into my inbox.

Wow, I feel better already!

An Open Letter To Nestle Purina PetCare Co. and Waggin’ Train LLC


Dear Purina and Waggin’ Train,

You don’t know me.  You don’t know that you forced me to do the unthinkable.  The sort of decision I prayed I would never have to make.

On August 2, 2012 after monumental efforts to save her through fluid therapy, and after much suffering, we “let” Bella go.

On August 23, 2012, after days of aggressive fluid therapy treatments and ultimately significant, rapid decline, we “let” Kiwi go.

Let is such a polite word.  What we actually did was make the decision to euthanize them.  I still get sick thinking about it.  I still cry.  All these years later.

Bella & Kiwi

I realize I’m only one of hundreds of thousands of consumers who bought pet treat products made by each of you.   Great sounding treats like Duck and Venison jerky, and Yam Good.  I was so excited about these products because both of the girls tended to have skin issues, and my vet recommended a diet excluding chicken and beef.  They ate a prescription dog food by Innovative Veterinary Diets, Royal Canin Hypoallergenic, and to find a treat they could have meant so much.  I will readily admit, they loved them.  They begged for them. And I enjoyed seeing their excitement, tumbling one over the other at having a “TREAT!” as I used to squeal at them while rattling the bag.

And that’s part of what made all this seem unbelievable.  After reading article after article of other dogs becoming sick, I thought, “Oh no, what have I been giving them?”  I immediately stopped, only, by then, unbeknownst to me, it was too late.   They’d eaten them for 18 months, and then, just like that, they were gone.

Imagine that.

Think about it.

I sure have.

And, there’s this to consider too.  Bella and Kiwi came from completely different litters.  They began eating the treats at the same time.  They began consuming more water at the same time.  They developed incontinence issues at the same time.  They became lethargic at the same time.  Lost weight at the same time with no change to their regular food.  They developed renal failure at the same time.

Bella was only 12, and Kiwi, was only 11.  Both young by Yorkie standards.

I’m sure by now you’re probably sick and tired of the whole jerky treat saga, considering the latest Class Action lawsuit regarding Beneful, but I’m here and I’m writing this now because the Class Action suit involving jerky treats has recently been settled.  And because, like a strange, twisted reminder, August of 2015 is the possible timeframe for the payout.  How very odd it will be three years to the month since “the unthinkable” happened, isn’t it?  Maybe that’s just how I view it.

They are now, sadly, counted along with statistical numbers tracked by updates written and printed by various news media.  Statistics that seem way off by the numbers in the Class Action suit.  All along the reports said 1,000 dogs killed and 4,800 sickened.  If that’s true, what about the other 5,200 who made a claim within the Class Action suit?  Yeah, 11,000 claims.  250,000 separate views of it.  A quarter of a million people who went out and looked at it.  Not 250,000 combined or collective views – individual or unique views.  Why do I believe that some of these folks (perhaps many?) didn’t file because they figured what difference would it make?  If they lost a pet, it sure wouldn’t bring them back.

I suppose I circle back to the “girls” again and again every now and then because I still feel them with me.  Filing my claim was hell.  Re-reading all of the vet reports which discussed their bloodwork and the BUN, creatnine levels, as well as personal notes like “she’s not feeling so good today,” and, “still not eating.”  Remembering all over again how I felt they’d been cheated of time with us, and that we’d been cheated of time with them.

Some who read this might think I ought to just get over it already.  Some might wonder why I would participate – since it IS true, participating doesn’t bring them back.  It doesn’t matter, and I don’t owe anyone explanations.  Maybe I’m trying to feel “settled” myself somehow.  It hasn’t worked yet, despite the fact after it happened, I wrote to EVERYONE, like my congresswoman.  My senator.  The FDA. The Veterinary Medicine branch of the FDA, CVM.

This was simply one more avenue where I could be heard. To tell the “girls” story once more, no matter how it resurrected the heartbreak all over again.  I still dream about them.

And so, this was my voice, amongst and with the other 10,999 heartsick pet parents.

Can you hear us?

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The Hunter

 

What Could Have Happened


Last week I was at Mom’s house, where I’ve been going once a week now since Dad died.  Of course I take Little Dog with me.

I mean, what person in their right mind would/could leave this little guy behind?

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He loves to visit her.  He loves her backyard.  I’ve not worried one bit about him while there.  And then?  Last week something happened and I’m still not over it.  It shook me up to the point I just wish I could erase the memory because all I can seem to do is replay over and over what could have happened.

Avent Ferry Road is where my father, his father, and his father’s father lived, all of their lives.  My dad told me when he was growing up, it was a dirt road, and at some point, it was paved and became two lanes.  When I was about twelve, the City of Raleigh came through with a widening project, and under that rule of “eminent domain,” they took over half of the front yard.   The road went from two lanes to five.  During the project they piled up truck load after truck load of dirt, to the point that by the end, the driveway was at a ridiculous angle, and had become this short steep hill alongside the house.  If you aren’t familiar with pulling in, you’d just as soon pass it by rather than drop in for a visit.

Back to last week.  Mom and I were in the front yard.  Little Dog, who’s been there many times, was with us.  He’s been taught not to go up the three small steps which lead to the steep driveway and to the five lanes of cars whizzing by on their way to NC State Centennial Campus, or whereever it is they go.  I was trying to dig a hole to plant a small bush.

The dirt was like cement due to lack of rain and Mom said, “Let me go get you the pick axe.”

I kept chipping away at the soil, realizing it was pretty useless with the shovel, and thinking I doubt I’m getting this bush planted. Mom came back and I started swinging the pick axe (determined you could say) and finally, after a few minutes of useless chopping at red CLAY, I gave up.

Then, I spotted some poison ivy growing on that ridiculously slanted embankment, and Mom said, “Let me get a plastic bag to put it in and some gloves you can wear before you pull it up.”

She came back, snapped the bag open and I pulled on the gloves and began cramming the poison ivy into the bag.  I realize now when I think back on the work, I’d not thought of Mister. I realize I didn’t keep an eye on him.  I know now, that something spooked him in the time she went to get the bag and came back.

I was bent over pulling at weeds, and she said, “Uh oh.  Donna.  Mister’s in the driveway.”

I looked up and sure enough.  He was standing halfway up it, staring at me.  Do you know how hard it is to control emotions, to keep panic out of your voice, to think clearly when the potential for disaster is so, so close.  TOO close.

I did the wrong thing in that split second.

Alarmed, I raised my voice, “Mister!  No!”

I went up the three steps in split seconds, but Mister, sensing some other “thing” in my voice, bolted.  Up the rest of the drive.  Right to the edge of the highway.  My focus became warped as I saw the backdrop of speeding cars, his hair blowing from their passing, and all I felt was absolute gut wrenching panic.

Frantic, my voice high pitched, I yelled at him again – another mistake, “Mister!  Mister!  No!  Come here!”

Cars didn’t bother slowing down.  He’s less than 4 lbs.  Who would see him?  He cut left and ran down the sidewalk.  Parallel to the road.  I waved my arms at traffic, hoping I could get them to stop, hoping they’d see the fear on my face, hoping they’d see this little dog running for dear life.

I couldn’t seem to control myself, “No!  MISTER!  MISTER!  OH GOD!”

I needed them to STOP.  Instead.  I did the hardest thing there is to do.  I stopped myself from running after him.  I realized it was his only chance.  If I kept running after him, he’d possibly dart right into an oncoming car.

I crouched down on the sidewalk.  He was still running away from his human, the one who’d lost her mind, the one who was no longer the person he knew and trusted.

I pleaded with him,  “Ohhh, that’s a good boy.  Yes, he’s a good boy.  Good boy.”

I see this moment as clearly as if it were happening now.  He immediately turned, and ran towards me, towards my outstretched arms, my fingers splayed like I have them when I want to pick him up.

And I got him.  And I cried – all the way down that stupid sidewalk, and down that ridiculously steep driveway, and into the rock hard dirt filled yard where Mom stood frozen.

I had him.  He was okay.  Still frightened, but it was like he knew I was too, because all he did was lick my tears.

I love this little dog.  And I can’t stop thinking about it.

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Mister, a.k.a. The Bundle, on Mom’s back porch.

What If?


Recently, I had something so unexpected happen, I was in a state of sheer panic for a couple of hours.

Last Tuesday I was in front of my laptop doing what I do.  The phone rang, and as usual, when I didn’t recognize the number, I ignored the call.  A couple hours later, I happened to look down at the small cordless handset beside me, and saw the tiny amber light blinking, meaning I had a voice mail.

I dialed in, and heard this, “This message is for Donna Everhart.  Ms. Everhart, this is Lieutenant Terrell with the Harnett County Sheriff’s Department, Warrants and Records Division.  This is related to a court matter.  Please call me at your earliest convenience.” 

A court matter?  I couldn’t imagine what this was about.  I’d not had any speeding tickets in decades.  It had to be some sort of mistake, so, I called the number thinking I’d fix this pronto.  Ha.

“This is Lt. Terrell.”

“This is Donna Everhart, returning your call.”

“Donna Everhart?”

“Yes.”

“At…”

“Yes.”

“Ms. Everhart, I’m contacting you regarding grand jury selection.  And regarding the two warrants I have for your arrest.”

“What?  Warrants for my arrest?  For what?!?!”

“Ms. Everhart, on March 17th, a letter was sent to you from the Harnett County Superior Court in regards to grand jury selection.  It was expected that you would appear in court on April 14th.  You did not appear in court, and Judge Faircloth has cited you with failure to appear, and these warrants have been issued, and are about to be activated.”

“Wait a minute, that’s impossible!  I never received any letter!”

“Ma’am, okay, you can dispute it, but, I have right here, a copy of the letter which was sent.  And now, Judge Faircloth has approved the activation of the warrants.”

(Needless to say, hyperventilating and freaking out begins.  While I try to wrap my head around this, I demand clarification and answers – as if I have any control.)

“Wait a minute, wait a minute.  This is crazy! This is insane!  I never received any letter!  Are you telling me the courts can just send a letter, and if people don’t appear they can be arrested???”

“Yes ma’am.  If they’ve indicated they are going to show up.”

“What do you mean, ‘indicated they are going to show up?’  I never got any letter, how can I have said that?”

“I have your response here.”

“No, no, you don’t.  There’s been some sort of mistake.”

“Well, ma’am, that’s possible, but right now, I’ve got these warrants and this all needs to get resolved today.  I’m trying to give you an opportunity to complete a ‘conditional attachment’ to take care of this, to avoid, if possible your arrest.”

“Wait.  What?  A what?”

“A conditional attachment.”

“What is that?”

“If you’ll calm down, I’ll explain what you need to do.  But, Ms. Everhart, please be aware, these warrants are in the system for activation, and this may or may not prevent that from happening.”

Needless to say, more hyperventilating and freaking out, and NOW, I’m getting emotional.

Sobs, “Oh God.  I can’t believe this.  There’s a big mistake. This is all a big mistake.”

“Ma’am, I need you to calm down.  I  need to be able to tell you what you need to do.”

More sobbing, “Oh God.  Oh God.”

“Ma’am?”

“What!”

“Are you able to write this down?  The instructions for what you need to do to rectify this?”
Sobbing,  “Yes.  I’ve got a pen.  What do I do.”

“I need you to get an envelope, and address it to Harnett County Superior Court House.  Address is….  Did you get that?”

Still sobbing, “Yes.  But, what’s this for?”

“The receipt that will be issued to you, and what you will send once you pay these fines. Bring cash or check, no credit cards, to the Harnett County Sheriffs department at…ma’am, are you all right?”

“No!  I’m not.  I’m upset!

“Ma’am I need for you to calm down.  I’m just doing my job.”

Still crying, “Okay, all right, but I need to talk to my lawyer.  Something’s wrong.  This doesn’t seem right.”

“Ma’am, you can call your lawyer if you want.  That’s not a problem.  If you do that, I can’t guarantee I can stop the activations.”

“Can’t you give me five minutes?  I’ll call you back in five minutes.”

“Okay.  Five minutes.”

***********************************************

I call my next door neighbor – who just so happens to be the city attorney.  I explain to him as best as I can without having a major meltdown what’s going on.  He asks if the guy wants a credit card number.  Which is what I was on high alert for during the entire conversation.  If he had wanted my credit card, I’d have been all like, “Uh, hell no, and hell no.”

I tell City Attorney he said cash or check only.  I tell CA the address he’s given me of where I need to take it.

CA said, “Well, that IS the sheriff’s department address.  I guess you better go and see what’s going on.”

OH GOD.

***********************************************
I call Lt. Terrell back.
“This is Lt. Terrell.”
“Okay, I can be on my way to the sheriff’s department in 30 minutes.  (as usual, I’m still in my running clothes.  No shower.  I want to take a shower before I go out in public)
“Ms. Everhart, these warrants are about to be activated.  I’m afraid any more delays, and I won’t be able to prevent this.”
“Okay, okay, fine.  I’ll leave now.  Wait, what will paying the fines do?”

“That will allow Judge Faircloth to set a court date.  The matter will not be held in open court, but in chambers, where you’ll be able to dispute the matter.”

“And how much are they?”

“One if $1,498.00 and the other is $998.00 both for the failure to appear.”

I swallow hard, and tell him, “Okay.  I’m on my way.”

“Ma’am, before you come, I need your cell phone number to establish a link with GPS.”

“Uh, okay, why?”

“Like I’ve been saying, these warrants are about to be activated, and I’ll need to have an open line to you in case, between your house and here you’re stopped.  You don’t have to talk to me.  It’s just an open connection, where I can prevent an arrest if they see your vehicle and initiate the arrest.”

“I don’t have a cell phone.  I have OnStar.”

“That’ll work.”

“I’m on my way now.”

“I’ll see you in twenty minutes.”

In the meantime during the last five minutes, my husband has come in, seen the state I’m in.  He only understands the basics which I scribbled down on piece of paper and flipped up for him to see.  *FAILURE TO APPEAR*

He and I go to his truck in silence.

I call Lt. Terrell’s number and it goes to voice mail, which states, “This is the Harnett County Sheriff’s Department Warrants and Records Division.  Leave your name, number and message and someone will call you back.”

I give him my husband’s cell phone, and tell him my husband is bringing me.  I call the number a couple more times while on the way and get vm.

We arrive at the Sheriff’s Department, I go in and up to the glass window where a young woman is sitting.

“I need to see a Lt. Terrell.”

She shakes her head, “There is no Lt. Terrell.  It’s a scam.”

Guess what I do? Yeah.  Boo hoo.  This time in relief.  I have a lily white reputation to maintain, don’t you know.

And…, that’s when my husband starts cussing.  And that’s when we are taken into a REAL Lt.’s office where we file a report.  Turns out I was the third victim in Harnett County, while Wake County (my home county) has something like 400 cases similar to this.

After it was all said and done, I began to play the what if game.  What if he wanted to know where I was (via GPS) so buddies of his could back a truck up and clean us out?  What if he was watching the house?  Saw me leave?  What if he fell in behind me and all along I’m “linked” to his cell phone, and on some stretch of Hwy 421, a car with a blue light in the dash pulls me over?

What if I said, “Oh no, they’re pulling me over, what do I do?  Can’t you stop this?”

What if he played the part and said “Sorry.  I tried to prevent this.  Just go with them, and it will be straightened out.”

What if the call then disconnected and I’m under the impression I AM being arrested.

What if the “sheriff,” came to my window and said, “Ma’am, please step out of the car.  You’re under arrest.”

What if I did as he said, and he put me in the back of his “squad” car and took off?

What if…? 

Thinking beyond that…, well, it’s too scary, too real, it hits too close to home.

What’s the strangest thing to happen to you lately?

A Little Trick


Every now and then I will come up on a writing article which shares a tidbit so simple, yet so juicy, it’s like the salivary glands of my brain kick in and I think WOW, so that’s the trick to it!

Don’t get too excited.  This will not be the Holy Grail of discovery for many writers here.  You might actually feel cheated when I tell you what it is, and you may say to yourself, “Oh.  I already knew that.”  On the other hand, if you didn’t know, then you may feel a bit like this:

028

….if you’ve finished a project (like me) and now wish you’d had this little juicy tidbit beforehand.  Well.  Nothing can be done about it now, however, for future projects, yes!

So, my last project was categorized as “hard crime.”  I recollect all too well (hey, just look at that pic) there were moments of hair pulling, frustration and downright anxiety where I felt like keeping a somewhat suspenseful or tension filled story going was almost impossible.  I kept wondering, how do they do it, how do mystery writers (even though I wasn’t writing a mystery) suspense writers, or thriller writers DO IT?  What’s their trick?  Maybe their brains just work different than mine.  Maybe I’m not cut out to write this sort of story.

And then?  Months later, well past me typing THE END, this article comes along and explains a tool often used.  It’s making your readers think one way when it’s really not that way at all.  It is so simple, yet for some reason, it never occurred to me this was what I needed to do – don’t ask me why.  Maybe I was stuck on the idea of not tricking readers. You aren’t if you do this, not really.  You’ve simply got them thinking one way, and it’s…, well.  It’s not that way at all.  It’s setting your story up so events appear to be headed in a certain direction.

I like to call this THE GONE GIRL METHOD.  It is, as this article states, using a “fallacy.”

For example, let’s say you have a story where a woman is on the run from her husband.  She’s trying to get away from him because she believes, and you, as the reader believe, he’s going to kill her because the author has planted this idea in your head earlier in the story.  Maybe in an earlier scene the woman says, “I know what you did to your first wife, and you got away with it.”  Maybe the husband is approaching her slowly, with caution, and the story is from her perspective and you see the crazy in his eyes like she does.  You’re like RUN! Run, you DING DONG!  Of course he’s denying it and maybe the author sets up other clues that point to him.  You, as the reader don’t know what’s the truth any more than his wife.

Except.  He actually didn’t kill his first wife and he’s not out to kill his second wife.  That bit, the truth, whatever it is, is what is held back until it’s absolutely necessary to share with readers.

Here’s the article that does a much better job than me at giving you the nuts and bolts of this method.  It delves into some real examples, but for me, as you could tell from above, the very first one I thought of was GONE GIRL.  There were more “I didn’t see that coming!” comments about this book than any other I’ve ever read about.  Your hidden agenda has to be believable, of course, and yet something so well camouflaged, or embedded in your story, when the reveal happens, readers are left dumbstruck by how “they didn’t see that coming!”

What’s the simplest, yet best writing tool you’ve ever stumbled on?

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