Just Write

I recently found a piece of paper with my 2017 writing goals listed on them. It was depressing because on the list were stories that three years later I still haven’t finished.  A closer look at the list made me feel a little less of a failure when I realized my writing goals in 2017 were quite ambitious, but still, I need to do better.

One of the stories I was to finish in 2017 started out as a novella, but now is over three hundred pages. I’d write a little. Stop. Work on something else. Then go back to it. But for the last year and half I have given the piece all of my attention, stopping only to write two short stories. Twice, I’ve changed the course of the plot and have deleted over a hundred pages–months of work–but the plot change was necessary for the story.

I’m sure I can not be the only writer who wonders if she should have written more with the time at hand, but sometimes the words do not flow easily. I write, forcing out words I know will eventually be deleted, but I write them anyway, because a writer writes. Maybe not always well. Maybe with words she knows will be replaced, but she writes.

Keep writing. Write through blocks. Write through distraction. Write through internal doubt.

Just Write.

 

Writing pen and paper

 

 

Photo courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net

My Shelter Dogs

The animal shelter I volunteer at has a program called, The Buddy Program, where during non-shift hours volunteers can buddy up with a dog and take that dog for car rides, walks to parks, or give them just some extra time playing in yards. This program is especially beneficial to the dogs who have been at the shelter a long time, or the dogs who have behavioral issues and need some extra training.

I enjoy the buddy program and have adored the bond I have created with the dogs I have buddied up with.

This is Sevvy. She was at the shelter for over two years. She was my buddy. She loved car rides and trips through the drive thru for cheese burgers (no onions or pickles) and vanilla ice cream. This girl has finally found her furever home and I hear she gets car rides to parks every day (weather permitting) and I couldn’t be happier for her. Sevvy doesn’t live far from me and it is my hope that one day I will run into her.

 

Gypsy was a sweet pit bull with the most gorgeous clear eyes. She loved snuggling with her blankets in her kennel. Whenever she’d see me walk into the shelter, she’d raise her front paws onto the chain link and wait for me to come to her. I’d pet her through the fence and she’d try to clasp onto my arms and lick my face. She was a snuggler that was finally adopted after two years.

 

 

Rupert was a brindle boxer mix that spent around a year or so at the shelter. He was a typical boxer in his crazy and fun (unruly at times) demeanor. He came to the shelter as just a young untrained boxer who wanted to do nothing but run and jump and chew and tug on everything, especially your sleeves. He needed a lot of extra training. He became my buddy and I took him to a lot of training sessions. The progress was slow but steady, and eventually Rupert calmed down and he was adopted last year. I’m so happy for him. I ran into Rupert at an event for the shelter last summer and it was so awesome to get dog kisses from him and know that he remembered me.

 

Sable was my first buddy, and as they say, you never forget your first. I was a couple months at the shelter when I took her on as a buddy. I was still getting used to being around a lot of dogs at once, mostly highly stressed dogs who were very unsure of me. I’ve learned some dogs will take to you quickly while others, pending on how they were treated in their past, take some time. Sable was a dog who I just loved the moment I saw her and she showed no reservations toward me. We simply took to each other from the start. She was a sweetheart and she became my buddy. I spent extra time with her in the play yards and it got to the point where every time I’d walk in the shelter, even during my regular shifts, she’d jump up and stand in front of her door, waiting for the guillotine door to open.  I always felt so bad because she couldn’t understand that I was there to clean the kennels, not take her out to play. So she’d just watch me with perked ears, waiting for me to walk to her dog run and open the door.

When I got word she was adopted after many months of loving my time with her, I went and said goodbye to her. I brought with me a bag of treats for the family to take and sat with her in her dog run and cried. It was my first goodbye with a dog from the shelter that I had grown attached to, so I was a bit emotional. I handle these things better now. I still cry, but they’re happy tears now.

 

I once asked a man who’s been at the shelter over twenty years how he handles saying goodbye to long-term dogs. He responded, “It’s like sending your kids off to college. You know they’re on to better things.”

Very good way to put it. That’s what every volunteer at a shelter hopes for. That every animal that leaves finds a better life. I’m grateful that I volunteer at a no-kill shelter and know all the animals there will get all the time they need to find a home. Dogs in kill shelters sometimes only get days.

If you’re looking for a pet, please consider you local animal shelter. If there’s a high-kill shelter near you, visit that one first. A dog’s life is running out somewhere.

 

 

Karma Eventually Gets You. It Got Me.

I have laughed more times than I can count at people who fall. As long as they are not seriously injured, broken bones or gushing blood, I will laugh every time someone falls. I have spent more time than I’ll admit on YouTube watching videos of people tripping, falling, walking into glass doors.

I was at a funeral a few years ago talking with a friend who knows me well, when over my friend’s shoulder, I saw a little girl, playing on the chairs, fall to the floor. Apart from hurting her knees a little, the girl was fine. So I laughed. My friend, without turning around to see why I was laughing, simply asked, “Who fell?”

“A little girl.” I chuckled some more.

“You’re a monster.”

“Maybe,” I replied.

And maybe that’s true. Maybe I am a monster for laughing at a little girl falling at a funeral. But I got my due the other night as I was walking toward the Walgreens entrance, excited to pick up pictures I’d taken of my dog and great-niece looking so sweet together, and didn’t notice the sudden incline in the pavement. I tripped so bad in my winter boots, I dropped straight to the ground, and my hands and left knee immediately began to sting.

Despite the agonizing throbbing pain in my knee, I got up as quickly as I could, because God forbid I should linger on the ground long enough to allow a few more people to see that I have fallen, and have them laugh at me the way I would have laughed at them. My fall had met my criteria of no broken bones and no gushing blood.

So I got to my feet and walked into the store as limp-free as I could, while ignoring the fact that a golf ball-sized bump was forming on my knee. I paid for my pictures and got the hell out of that store knowing that karma got me.

It got me good, and I deserved it.

As I was editing this blog, my dog, Phil, needed to go outside. So I took him for a walk, and we ran into a neighbor and her dog. As our dogs interacted, sniffing and pawing at each other, my neighbor’s dog got out of its collar. I was able to get a hold of the dog before it could get away.

As my neighbor tried to slip the collar back on, she lost her footing, fell backwards, and rolled onto her side. I asked the woman if she was okay. She quickly said she was, but I knew the woman was embarrassed.

I knew how she felt.

Boy, did I know how she felt.

 

Author Anne Montgomery Didn’t Use to Care Much About Cars

from Anne Montgomery

I have never cared much about cars. Never understood why people spend so much to get the newest, fastest, sleekest version with the most gadgets. The last vehicle I bought came after my mechanic pointed at my ancient Geo Prism and ordered me to drive it one last time.

“Take it to a dealership and turn it in,” he advised. “Get a new car!”

The day I abandoned my Prism in a dealer’s parking lot, I found a vehicle that spoke to me. It was a black Ford Ranger pickup. Slightly used – I think I read 14 thousand miles on the speedometer. Black paint sparkled in the Arizona sun. I drove it around the block.

“That’s the one,” I said to my sweetie pie, who’d accompanied me on my car hunt. Following what felt like half a day of paperwork, I drove my new truck home.

Later, I stood proudly by my recent purchase. My mother squinted at the pickup’s bed where I’d installed a bright silver toolbox to hold my rock collecting gear, camping equipment, and emergency rations on the off chance I might find myself stuck in the wilderness for any length of time.

She stared at me. “Aren’t you afraid of what people will think of you?”

“I am a black pickup kind of girl, Mom.”

She shook her head.

“Really.”

My truck is now going on 19. I love my old truck. We share lots of memories: good, bad, and ugly. Together we’ve had countless adventures into the mountains and deserts, some wondrous, some difficult, and a few rather dangerous, in retrospect. Still, we always made it home. Eventually.

Then, my parents, in their nineties, mercifully decided to give up their car. I had been begging them for years to stop driving. Anyone who’s butted up against that major-life decision understands the complexities inherent in taking the keys away from mom and dad.

“We’ll sell the car,” my mother finally announced.

That vehicle, a blue 2010 Ford Fusion, now sits in my driveway. Though my mom continues to tell anyone who will listen that I took the car, Ryan and I wrote them a check for a little over seven grand.

A funny thing happened when I started driving the Fusion. I liked the built-in bells and whistles. Note that the vehicle is not high end, but compared to my truck, the little car is like owning a rocket ship. We call her Zippy. Now, when I drive my pickup, it feels only slightly more mobile than a covered wagon.

Then I got a letter in the mail: AIRBAG RECALL! I stared at the red triangle depicting a driver facing a steering wheel that had burst into flames. I read the section that said, “Until parts are available …your dealer is authorized to provide you with a rental vehicle.”

Today, a 2018 Ford Fusion Platinum sits in my driveway. The car boasts a power tilt/telescoping steering column with memory, dual integrated bright exhaust, premium leather-wrapped and stitched instrument panel and console rails, and myriad other extras I couldn’t possibly explain. The overall effect is…well…Wow!

I’ve had the rental for several months. It seems Ford is having a great deal of trouble getting the parts to fix the airbag that might explode and shred me with shrapnel. Apparently, 37 million vehicles have been identified as needing the fix, and more are expected to be added to the list. Takata, the maker of the defective airbags, announced it might take five years to install all the replacements.

I wonder sometimes, especially when those comfy leather seats are hugging me in their soft embrace, when I will have to return my pretty sedan. Neither Ford nor the rental company seem to care that the $40,000 vehicle is occupying space in my driveway day after day.

I have never cared much about cars. Never understood why people spend so much to get the newest, fastest, sleekest version with the most gadgets. Until now.

Perhaps Ford will forget about my cute little rental. I’ve grown quite fond of her.

Here is a brief intro to my novel dealing with abuse and it’s aftermath. I hope you’ll take a moment to peek into it.

Two Arizona teens find their fates intertwined. Are there any adults they can trust? Can they even trust each other?

Rose Madsen will do anything to keep from being married off to one of the men in her Fundamentalist Mormon (FLDS) community, even endure the continued beatings and abuse of her mother. But when her mentally handicapped baby sister is forced to strangle the bird she loves at the behest of the Prophet, Rose frees the bird and runs away.

Adan Reyes will do anything to escape the abusive foster care system in Phoenix, even leaving his good friends and successful high school athletic career behind him. Ill-prepared for surviving the desert, Adan hits the road only to suffer heat stroke. Found by a local handyman, he catches a glimpse of a mysterious girl—Rose—running through town, and follows her into the mountains where they are both tracked and discovered by the men of the FLDS community.

With their fates now intertwined, can Rose and Adan escape the systems locking them into lives of abuse? Will Rose be forced to marry the Prophet, a man her father’s age, and be one of dozens of wives, perpetually pregnant, with no hope for an education? Will Adan be returned to the foster home where bullying and cruelty are common? Is everyone they meet determined to keep them right where they belong or are some adults worthy of their trust?

BUY LINKS

 

Anne Montgomery has worked as a television sportscaster, newspaper and magazine writer, teacher, amateur baseball umpire, and high school football referee. She worked at WRBL‐TV in Columbus, Georgia, WROC‐TV in Rochester, New York, KTSP‐TV in Phoenix, Arizona, ESPN in Bristol, Connecticut, where she anchored the Emmy and ACE award‐winning SportsCenter, and ASPN-TV as the studio host for the NBA’s Phoenix Suns. Montgomery has been a freelance and staff writer for six publications, writing sports, features, movie reviews, and archeological pieces.

When she can, Anne indulges in her passions: rock collecting, scuba diving, football refereeing, and playing her guitar.

Learn more about Anne Montgomery on her website and Wikipedia. Stay connected on Facebook, Linkedin, and Twitter.

Say What You Want About Hillary…

At least she had the courage to testify when asked to do so.

Where are you Donald Trump? There’s a seat waiting for you as soon as you summon the courage. Which we all know will never happen because you are a coward–a corrupt coward.

Round after round, for eleven hours, Hillary Clinton was pounded with questions from overzealous Republicans, pining desperately to catch an erroneous statement from her. But she answered each and every question with the composure and certainty of a fearless leader.

She was a cool glass of water, and the hearing ended with the Republicans unable to find her guilty of a thing. But they had the opportunity to try because Clinton had the balls to show up and President Obama didn’t try to stop her, nor did he withhold any requested documents.

I’ve spent more time than I should have this week trying to get a Republican, any Republican, to explain to me why, if Donald Trump is innocent of the accusations against him, isn’t he testifying? Why has he also tried to block all those who have testified from testifying?

Why won’t he, Rudy Giuliani, Mick Mulvaney, Rick Perry, Mike Pence, and Mike Pompeo, all raise their right hands and put their words under oath? If everything the president did was so perfect, then why is he trying so hard to hide everything? Why won’t the State Department release all the documents and witness’s notes regarding the phone call with the Ukrainian President and all relating communications?

When I ask this, I don’t get a direct response from my Republican friends. One friend answered by claiming that all of the people who have testified are Never Trumpers filled with raging hate for the president. Her disregard for the men and women who have served their country honorably for decades in nonpartisan, diplomatic roles is disgusting.

Instead of defending Trump by offering a valid defense, they attack the people who work to keep this country safe, with no desire for fame or fortune. The people who do their jobs on a government salary with no need to sprawl their names across buildings.

These diplomats are the enemies of this country?

If you watched the hearings, it’s easy to see they are the saviors of this country/

Also, if you watched the hearings, it’s easy to see why Donald Trump is trying so hard to hide everything.

Say what you want about Hillary Clinton, but at least she showed up.

 

 

 

Pictures I Think a Lot of Us Need Right Now

I sat down with my laptop tonight, unsure what I should write about. The first thing that popped in my head was Donald Trump, because every day we are bombarded with wild headlines about a corrupt president who is using the U.S government to do his personal bidding. These certainly are crazy times, and I wonder in decades to come the questions people who weren’t “lucky” enough to live during this messed-up, chaotic time will ask those of us who did. I hope I have good answers like, “Yes, Donald Trump did all of those criminal things and that’s why he went to jail and stayed there until the day he died.”

But we don’t yet know how this will all end. (Oh please, please, please let me be right about the jail thing!) But if you’re paying attention, you’re probably feeling anxious, stressed, angry, frustrated, hopeless, and maybe more. I know I am. Luckily, I have a very cute dog with the best poses who even if it’s just for a minute or two, can ease my mind of all toxic thoughts and make me smile.

So for anyone who may need this, here are some of my favorite calming photos of my goofy little baby, Phil. I hope it helps you as it has helped me.

 

 

 

 

 

Reality Check. A New Release By Carol Browne

Surreal, fresh, dark, and entertaining is this new psychological fiction novella from Carol Browne. Some moments it’s thought-provoking and other times it’s unsettling, but it is Carol Browne at her finest. The story as well as the cover will definitely give your mind and imagination a great workout. Reality Check is a must read.

Gillian Roth finds herself in middle age, living alone, working in a dull job, with few friends and little excitement in her life. So far, so ordinary.

But Gillian has one extraordinary problem.

Her house is full of other people… people who don’t exist. Or do they?

As her surreal home life spirals out of control, Gillian determines to find out the truth and undertakes an investigation into the nature of reality itself.

Will this provide an answer to her dilemma, or will the escalating situation push her over the edge before she has worked out what is really going on?

BLURB
Thursday, 26th March, 2015.

My house is filled with people who don’t exist.

They have no substance. They are neither alive nor dead. They aren’t hosts or spirits. They aren’t in any way shape or form here, but I can see them, and now I need to make a record of how they came to be under my roof.

Why now? Why today? Because we line in strange times, and today is one of the strangest days this year; this is the day that Richard III, the last Plantagenet king of England, was interred in Leicester Cathedral, with all due ceremony, 530 years after he was slain at the Battle of Bosworth in 1485. How surreal is that? I watched the highlights on Channel 4 earlier. A couple of my house guests sat with me and together we marveled at the event. They did Richard proud, no doubt of that.

I left them to it after a while and came up here to my bedroom to start writing a diary: this diary.

Life feels unreal today, as if time has looped back onto photo albums. The house clearly passed must itself and everything is happening now. And if I can set my thoughts down on paper, perhaps I can make sense of everything, make it all real somehow.

Where did it start, this thing that has happened to me? A couple of years ago? I can’t say when. It evolved without my conscious input. The existence of my house guests was a fact long before I began to wonder at it. I do wonder at it now and I know I must keep track of what’s happening before I lose myself in this crowd of imaginary beings.

At first there was only a few of them, and I observed their doings without much concern. I watched them snooping around the place, choosing the most comfortable chairs to sit in, leaning against the furniture, inspecting the bookcases, checking the kitchen utensils, and peering into my photo albums. The house clearly passed muster and they stayed. In time, they knew me down to the marrow. I have never known them as well as they know me. They have an air of mystery, as though they have a life outside my house they will never divulge. Even so, I felt I was safe with them and I could tell them my problems. Tell them what no-one else must ever hear. And so these shades thickened, quickened; their personalities accumulated depth and solidity, as though they were skeletons clothing themselves in flesh.

I no longer came home to a cold, empty house, but to a sanctuary where attentive friends awaited my return. I was embraced by their jovial welcome when I stepped through the door. I never knew which of them would be there, but one or two at least would always be waiting to greet me, anxious to hear about my day and make me feel wanted, and for a while I could forget the problems I have at work (even the one that bothers me the most). Since then I have felt a subtle change.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. I really need this to be a faithful account of the entire situation from start to finish, so I have to try to work out how it all began, even if I’m not sure when.

If I cast my mind back, it floats like a lantern through a city cloaked in fog. I must try to isolate the shadowy figures that flit up at me out of the murk. So, let’s begin with the friend I remember first. I was cooking my evening meal. My mind wandered. I remember feeling sad. And there she stood, at my right elbow, peering into the saucepan.

“Watch you don’t burn that,” she said.

I don’t have names for my imaginary friends, just titles, so I call her Kitchen Girl. She’s dark-haired with porcelain skin, and she’s tall and voluptuous. The sort of woman I’d like to be except I’m small with red hair and a ruddy complexion, and I need chicken fillets to convince people I’m female.

I suppose Kitchen Girl is rather daunting, with those fierce blue eyes and no-nonsense approach to everything. I can stand up to her though. I use humour as my weapon of choice and she appreciates wit and banter. I’d like it if she didn’t nag so much, if I’m honest (“Use less salt… keep stirring… is that all you’re going to eat?”) but, criticism aside, I know she’ll compliment me on the finished product as it lies uneaten between us on the table. Long conversations back and forth have been played out while the meals go cold on their plates. Fried eggs congeal and go waxen. Ice cream melts into a tepid sludge. Sandwiches curl up with embarrassment to be so spurned. You know how it is when you get gossiping. Someone wants to talk to me and that’s better than food.

And sometimes, it’s curious, but it’s Kitchen Girl who cooks the food and serves it to me like a waitress. She likes to surprise me with new dishes.

I have no idea how this happens.

Nor why she never leaves the kitchen. But I wish she’d do the washing up now and then.

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Born in Stafford in the UK, Carol Browne was raised in Crewe, Cheshire, which she thinks of as her home town. Interested in reading and writing at an early age, Carol pursued her passions at Nottingham University and was awarded an honours degree in English Language and Literature. Now living and working in the Cambridgeshire countryside, Carol writes both fiction and non-fiction.

Stay connected with Carol on her website and blog, Facebook, and Twitter.