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Question of the Month: Pet

by Susan Henderson on November 2, 2009

Tell me a story about the first animal you ever loved.

Green-Hand with his first dog, Brian.

Green-Hand with his first dog, Brian.

For those following the progress on my book, I’m happy to report that I turned my edits in on time (I was asked to add a frame-story, as well as pick up the pace of one part of the book), and the edits were really well-received. I’m now waiting for the very last bit of tightening, and then I’ll find out what happens next.

In the meantime, as I wait to hear back, I’m busy writing something new. I did this when the book was on submission, too, wrote a whole second novel, which I’ve put away in a drawer until I have enough distance to read it fresh. And now I’m starting my third, something gloriously dark and fun to write!

How about you? What are you working on?

{ 63 comments… read them below or add one }

billybones November 2, 2009 at 8:31 am

The first animal that I ever loved is my best friend Scamp. I found him under the floorboards of the secrets-closet. It took me a while, but I learned how to speak Bug. Now he tells me about all the goings-on outside the closet.

As far as projects go, the man who types up my stories and I just submitted a new book to our agent. It has nothing whatsoever to do with me, although there are many spooky aspects to the story. The book is called THE SECRET SLEUTHS OF WIMPOLE HALL.

Best,
Billy

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SusanHenderson November 2, 2009 at 9:03 am

If it has the heartbreak and tenderness of your posts here, it’s going to get snatched up very quickly.

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Aurelio November 2, 2009 at 9:21 am

The first pets I remember loving were our adopted lab rats, Mucklethorpe (tan and white) and Chocolate Drop (black and white). They were family pets, so not mine alone, but they were very sweet and smart. My oldest brother trained them to be part of his magic act. He built a camera, which he’d open front and back to show it was empty, close it, and take a picture of Mucklethorpe. Next he’d open the camera, extract Chocolate Drop (who he trained to run up his sleeve and into the camera), and announce, “Hmm, I must have put in black and white film by mistake.”

He also sawed my brother and me in half, except I was the bottom half (the legs that stuck out) and I couldn’t resist popping my head out of the freshly-sawn hole to wave at my friends. Apparently I was not as easy to train as Chocolate Drop. 😉

One of our religious neighbors who saw his magic act claimed he was in league with the devil and raised a huge fuss all over the neighborhood.

As to what I’m up to now, I’m building my pile of insta-rejections for my new manuscript from so-called literary agents (who oddly seem to avoid both reading and writing – funny how that works). A full-time job in my old profession plopped itself in my lap, so I took it, and am busy designing a film for the USA Pavilion at the World’s Fair in Shanghai. I’m madly busy, but it is all going well.

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SusanHenderson November 2, 2009 at 10:06 am

Wait, what do you mean by “adopted lab rats”?

I love your sawing-in-half story! (I’m not easy to train either.) What’s the new film about? And congratulations… I think it’s the things that just land in our laps that take us where we’re meant to go.

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lorioliva November 2, 2009 at 11:02 am

Oh, Daisy. Daisy was a black and tan, daschund beagle mix that came to my family when I was 5. We had been asking for a dog for some time, and one day, dad called us out into the living room for a “surprise”. As my sisters and I scurried to the couch, we saw mom and dad standing alongside a big cardboard box. Dad turned it over, and Daisy came running out. She ran laps around the living room five times. She was full of life, and immediately took to her new home. We had 10 wonderful years with Daisy. Not once did she lose her cool with three young girls tugging at her. We all loved her dearly.

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Joe November 2, 2009 at 11:19 am

There have only been two points in my life when I did not have a pet. In both cases it was because I was living in a city where I believed it would be unfair to have an animal cooped up in an apartment. It’s a by-product of growing up in a house filled with more animals than humans I suppose, that I tend to empathize with their plight. It’s also explains why I like to hang my head out of speeding car windows and roll around in the grass. It’s dog Zen.

Mostly dogs. With cats it’s serendipity. Oh I like them well enough but with cats it’s more about paths that intersect – me happening to be in the same place as they are for slices of time. Dogs are the anchor with cats wandering in and out. I could mark all the moments of my life, the joy and sadness by the dog. The thing about dogs is that they absolutely accept you as you are. No questions. They give love in undivided measure. My mother never turned away a stray of any kind, two or four legged (or no legged though she let me keep the snakes in a tank with a really big rock on the lid). It was chaos of the good kind. Growing up with an unpredictable alcoholic father I knew all about the bad kind. My dog(s) were always there, dependable and in some instances provided a measure of protection. My mom knew this. Try getting at me through a hundred and fifty pounds of wiry haired growling Irish Wolfhound/ Shepherd mix. Yeah, that’s what I thought.

I love dogs. I really really do.

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robinantalek November 2, 2009 at 11:31 am

My very first pet was a one-eyed parakeet purchased from Woolworth’s named Dick. He was named after Robin’s alter ego from the 1960’s TV show Batman. I insisted on the one-eyed bird much to my mother’s dismay who I think was hoping I’d choose the standard goldfish or the tiny turtles. I didn’t have another pet for many, many years after I found Dick dead on the bottom of his cage. However I seem to have made up for lost “pet” time because my children over the years have had everything from lizards to frogs to hamsters to guinea pigs. Our three rescue mutts have outlived them all and are the only pets in our house right now.

As far as what I’m working on…I was already writing a novel when The Summer We Fell Apart sold to Harpers. It kept me sane through the process of shopping the novel around, but when all was said and done my agent and I agreed that the entire 380 page manuscript would be better served in a desk drawer than out in the world. I suppose I just needed to get that book of out of me in order to write the book I’m working on right now – which I had been resisting, but really seemed to be the story I was meant to tell. Funny how that always works out.

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SusanHenderson November 2, 2009 at 12:06 pm

I love daschund/beagle mixes, and just hearing about that day – how awesome to just turn the box over like that!

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SusanHenderson November 2, 2009 at 12:09 pm

Our house has more animals than humans, too. I absolutely love your enthusiasm for dogs, and it’s so true how they’re loyal and non-judgmental in ways people just don’t know how to be.

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SusanHenderson November 2, 2009 at 12:14 pm

Awesome. And that you got him at Woolworth’s!

Oh, that’s so hard to hear about letting 380 pages of work go to rest. Although there’s not many famous novelists who haven’t done the same thing.

When’s the release date of your book? I just saw it’s pre-orderable on Amazon… and has a pretty cover now! http://www.amazon.com/Summer-We-Fell-Apart-Novel/dp/0061782165

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Nathalie November 2, 2009 at 12:15 pm

I don’t know. I always loved animals, all the more because I wasn’t allowed any. Strays found me in the streets, picking up scents of desperation and crumbs (kids always seem to have some sort of food available). After years of plea for a furry friend I got – for my 14th birthday – a fish. I don’t think I am quite ready to forgive my parents yet for that specific disappointment.

Right now, I am actively NOT doing NaNoWriMo, work having sapped my brain and energy to worrying extremities. Trying to do at least a drabble a day, though. Some wacky poetry is getting written too. Funny enough, I think I sold more poetry than stories this year. Who knew there was a market?

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billybones November 2, 2009 at 12:45 pm

Thank you! That is so nice.

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robinantalek November 2, 2009 at 1:16 pm

It’s all about a good cover, isn’t it? And this one is by the amazing designer: Robin Bilardello at HarperCollins and I couldn’t be more thrilled with the way it turned out! The book is out January 5, 2010…. thanks for asking.

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notmoro November 2, 2009 at 1:22 pm

I can tell you about an animal I didn’t love. When I was nine, I had a brown-and-white hamster called–abominably–Snuggles, whom I adopted from some kids down the street as their mother had threatened to release it into the woods. Snuggles didn’t really love me, or I her. She slept a lot, and whenever I reached into the cage to pet her, she’d chomp my finger and hang on, like a tiny, enraged pit bull, until I either managed to shake her off, or she got tired of hanging by her teeth.

I didn’t change Snuggles’s litter as often as I should have done, what with being nine and all, and one day she died of…something. I was convinced that something was my own neglect, and spent all night weeping from the shame of not having loved her better. What made things worse was knowing, even in the midst of guilty tears, that I wasn’t crying from love.

Poor Snuggles.

I’m currently pulling together a short story to submit for publication. I finally showed it to a couple of writer friends, after about four years of wringing my hands over it, and got some very good advice. It feels good to finally have some perspective on the thing, and to know it isn’t as incomplete as I thought!

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SusanHenderson November 2, 2009 at 2:57 pm

Striking.

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SusanHenderson November 2, 2009 at 2:59 pm

Awww. A fish is NOT the same as something furry that will love you more than you’ve ever been loved!

I was going to ask you if you were doing NaNo this year. Wacky poetry sounds just right in a cynical, ADHD world!

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SusanHenderson November 2, 2009 at 3:04 pm

I’m sorry about the hamster, but you tell a great story!

I can absolutely relate to your fear of calling a piece finished and sending it out. Glad you found the nerve!

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Nathalie November 2, 2009 at 3:32 pm

Revenge is mine. I have four cats now. In fact the first thing I acquired as soon as I started to live on my own was a cat. HA!

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Nathalie November 2, 2009 at 3:39 pm

And about time too.

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Lance Reynald November 2, 2009 at 4:09 pm

this may go on a bit long, and I’ll spare you the photo that goes with it…

* * *

Just another old story of a boy and a dog.

It’s Christmastime. A shadow memory and I struggle to place the year. Much of my childhood suffers from this amnesia of sorts. I never really remember the sequence of events I remember some episodes and place them in context by the other moments and feelings around them. I’m going to say that this time must have been 1973-74. I couldn’t have possibly been older than 4, so it might actually have been back in 1973. I just remember clearly that it was Christmastime.

The first few years of my life I don’t have any clear memories of either one of my parents. I have no recollection of my mother at all. My parents had a troubled marriage and by this time their troubles had me being cared for by my grandparents most of the time. My memory of my mother isn’t a matter of being clouded, she just wasn’t there. Not every woman is maternal. Some of them have to leave. My parents spent a few years trying to work out their differences, but I guess they just weren’t meant to be together.

My father tried his best to take care of me over the years. He tried to find little things to fill the space that might have been left by his separation from my mother. When I was small it was the holidays that put those efforts on full display. A time where most families have extra props on hand to make it appear that they are making the kind of happiness expected of the season.

So, it’s the early 70s and we’re spending the Holidays at my grandparents house. I wake up in the morning to a tree overflowing with gifts. At this time I was the only grandchild. I would be the only grandchild in the family until I was 13… every Christmas was my day until then.

I only remember one gift from this year. There was one box under the tree with a loose fitting lid and a length of ribbon gently tied. Not the tidy secure wrapping of all the others. I was told to unwrap this package under the tree, not to move it from its spot.

I pulled the ribbon and lifted the lid. When I looked inside I saw sleepy brown eyes looking back at me. A puppy of no certain breed with a soft golden coat. My first dog. It was the best gift I’d ever been given. I knew even in my child’s mind that I loved him, instantly.

Even in my mind now, every home and every child needs a dog. It is that sensation of instant love that is so rare in any life that it must be something required of happiness.

This pup erased sadness as I pulled him out of the box. All the other gifts were forgotten. I loved the softness of his fur. The smell of him, the kisses he showered me with… everything about him was happiness and love for me.

The grownups asked me if I had a name for him. In the limited vocabulary of someone that was late to start talking I found the sweetest name I could think of. I called him Sugar.

Sugar was my first real lesson in love. He is also my truest life lesson in the tenderness of my boyish heart. The photo above looks normal enough, though the story that isn’t seen seems to be the seed of some of my greatest fears.

My father’s family are not people that I would ever consider warm and expressive. They understand the need for perfect appearances but they don’t express any warmth of heart. The photograph of a boy and his dog is an example, it tells a story that appears normal. But, it isn’t the full truth.

From my first moments with my first dog my education of how to love started. Outside of the photograph I was given a list of the things I should not and could not do.

I should not carry the dog.
I should not hug him too tightly.
I could not allow him to sleep in my bed.
I shouldn’t let him kiss me.
I should not follow him.

and the biggest warning came from all of these rules. I was told that the reason I shouldn’t and couldn’t was because if I did I would hurt him or he might die.

If I expressed love, I would ruin something or something terrible might happen.

At night Sugar was expected to sleep on top of an old blanket in my closet. I was an obedient child. Always a bit shy and frankly scared. (I didn’t fully understand the grownups around me or what they were capable of. I still don’t. I know what they’re not capable of, they still amaze me at what they actually can and will do to each other.) Sugar slept in the closet, he seemed to have a nice den in there as he wasn’t allowed in my bed. I wanted him to be able to sleep next to me though. I would get tucked in for the night and my pup would settle into his spot. The house would calm down, everyone would drift to sleep and I laid in my bed awake until I thought it was safe to move. I would climb down from my small bed taking a blanket with me and I would lay on the closet floor next to my beautiful puppy. I would pull the blanket over my shoulders and hold him close. I would fall asleep perfectly happy. I knew that I loved Sugar and that he gave me the same love in return. The grownups always found me like this and returned me to my bed, never allowing my dog to sleep with me. Just always warning and cautioning me on the chances I was taking. The puppy will die if you hold him too much.

I worried terribly throughout my early childhood that such things might be true. I loved my parents and they were never close to me. I loved most of the grownups in my life and they were distant. I loved my first dog and I wasn’t really allowed to touch him. These thoughts and ideas grew with me and I learned that if I expressed love and affection I would ruin everything.

That puppy didn’t die from my love. After a few years together our living situation changed and he went to live with someone else. I thought they had taken him away because I loved him too much. But the reality was probably that we were just moving somewhere that I couldn’t keep a dog.

But the seed of the lessons remained.
******

and… I’m working on the next book. dragging along with it… love, heartbreak, loneliness… you know me.

xo. L.

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notmoro November 2, 2009 at 4:15 pm

I think you must be as sick of hearing about it as I am of revising it! 🙂

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notmoro November 2, 2009 at 4:25 pm

Thanks. 🙂

That fear holds me back a lot, actually. But in this case I just couldn’t see what the story was doing, or even what it was about, until someone else looked at it. I’d been looking at all the wrong things. Or maybe the right things, but didn’t see how they worked. Something like that.

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billybones November 2, 2009 at 5:13 pm

And some poppets!

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SusanHenderson November 2, 2009 at 7:08 pm

You are lovely and breaking my heart. Please consider putting this, or the essence of this, into your new book of love, heartbreak, and loneliness. Also: http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2093/2115870374_91eb9d7865.jpg

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SusanHenderson November 2, 2009 at 7:15 pm

Must feel amazing to have figured it out and sent it out the door. The next one will be easier. Consider all the time and sweat you spent on that story as your MFA.

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Lance Reynald November 2, 2009 at 7:53 pm

oh, he’s pretty! but looks like he might be worthy of a 100 mile roaming radius and Jack London tales…

but, yeah… I might try to love him up anyway!

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Joe November 2, 2009 at 8:36 pm

Currently we’re on par with three humans and three animals – a cat, a dog and a fish but the balance of power could shift at any moment with a four year old calling the shots.

I just listened to your interview. I think this is the first time I’ve ever heard your voice. It’s nice. You don’t sound the way I imagined you would sound. Not that it matters other than me having to change the sound track I use when I read your words. I completely agree with you about poetry by the way. There are a handful of poets that I read but poetry in general seems like slight of hand. It was a great interview though. You’ve really paid your dues and have earned the success coming your way.

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Jimnichols November 2, 2009 at 9:12 pm

Way to go on the novel, Susan!

My mother raised collies, and I liked dogs all right, but they created so much noise and chaos that when I went to live on my own I never wanted to have one. This lasted until about a dozen years ago when I was talked into buying a springer spaniel for my son Andrew. Well, it was a good plan, but Sam the Springer ignored our best intentions and decided that Andrew was a perfectly fine young man but that I was the one. He was adorable and loving to Andrew and his brother Aaron and my wife Anne, but for some reason that had nothing to do with worthiness, I was the main one and that was just the way it was going to be. I’d kept my distance from the canine types for some time, but in the face of Sam’s confident decision and determined application I was helpless. And tell me, when you’re lying in bed and a springer spaniel hops up, puts his chin on your stomach and looks at you like you’re the greatest, what the hell can you do?

I’m rearranging a couple of chapters at the request of a prospective publisher, who wanted a more dramatic beginning. So wish me luck!

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Alexander Chee November 2, 2009 at 9:14 pm

His name was Bandit, and he was a white rabbit with a black patch over his eye. I loved him desperately. I was 6. I’m going to put the photo up on my facebook now, actually, come to think of it.

That’s the one I remember. Apparently I was also in love with my grandfather’s Corgis. I was the only one the mum would allow in pen to touch the litter beside the trainer.

Working? What am I not working on? Agh. Finishing my novel, a story and two essays…

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Jimnichols November 2, 2009 at 9:18 pm

(That’s Andrew in my login pic, btw)

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SusanHenderson November 2, 2009 at 9:26 pm

Four-year-olds rule the world, or at least they give it a damn good shot.

Nice of you to listen to the interview. I need to take medication or something next time so I don’t giggle so much.

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SusanHenderson November 2, 2009 at 9:28 pm

Yeah, he looks like trouble, but in the best way.

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SusanHenderson November 2, 2009 at 9:39 pm

That’s the best when an animal chooses you. And yeah, I love having a dog in the bed!

Excited about your news, and wishing you all kinds of luck!!

You still flying? Tell me how your place looks in early November.

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SusanHenderson November 2, 2009 at 9:41 pm

Wow, I never tried writing so many things at once. Your Annie Dillard essay was so fabulous, I think of it all the time, especially the shared smoke.

Looking forward to seeing Bandit!

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SusanHenderson November 2, 2009 at 9:42 pm

I was wondering. What a face!

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Jimnichols November 2, 2009 at 9:47 pm

Russet brown, splashed with yellow and red. We’re way past peak, but flying up the river (or riding, I should say, I wasn’t driving) there’s still plenty of color. The blueberry fields on Clary Hill are still quite something, lots of reds.

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notmoro November 2, 2009 at 10:43 pm

Can’t– that’d be my second. PhD? 😀

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billiehinton November 3, 2009 at 8:53 am

A big orange tabby cat named Freckles. The beginning of a lifelong love of animals. The other night I was reading in bed and suddenly realized I was wedged in by 4 cats and 1 Corgi. Books read better when there are animals in the bed!

Last week I was working on a middle grade novel, a new genre for me. I had the first page for the past two years and finally got the time and space to let the entire story open up. This week I’ve been sidetracked writing blog posts and press releases having to do with a video recently aired by Epona TV, showing a World Cup rider using rollkur, a highly controversial training method used in dressage (and other horse sports, but not called rollkur). In this video the horse’s muzzle is bent to chest and his tongue, which has lost blood supply due to the harshness of the bits and the extreme flexion of the head/neck, is hanging out of his mouth, blue and limp. There’s a huge outcry going on, and I’m compelled to contribute.

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Aurelio November 3, 2009 at 9:05 am

If my memory is correct, my sister volunteered to adopt her school’s lab rats at the end of the school year.

The World’s Fair film is about everything positive the USA stands for and how wonderful we all are here – what else? It’s presented in a more poetic way than that (we hope) and that’s all I can say. You’ll just have to go to Shanghai and see it. 😉

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SusanHenderson November 3, 2009 at 10:23 am

I sure hope I get sent there on my book tour.

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SusanHenderson November 3, 2009 at 10:26 am

I will go to Shanghai to see it!

Maybe your next film could feature lab rats… not a bad idea.

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SusanHenderson November 3, 2009 at 10:27 am

PhD it is. And a medal of courage, too.

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SusanHenderson November 3, 2009 at 10:32 am

Oh, that’s awful. If Gay Walker’s around these parts, she’s a real dressage expert, and Tish Cohen, I think, is working on a dressage-related book. If you need interviews with folks in the community for your piece, let me know.

Middle grade novels are big now, so that’s a good place to be!

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billiehinton November 3, 2009 at 11:03 am

Thanks – for now, I’m awaiting quotes from folks I know through my own riding and study of dressage (non-competitively) but if anyone is interested, definitely let me know.

At the moment all my horses have congregated outside my window and are whinnying loudly so I think I’d best go see what’s going on out there! 🙂

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Jimnichols November 3, 2009 at 11:20 am

We should be so lucky!

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SusanHenderson November 3, 2009 at 8:52 pm

Sounds like you’re already in good shape. Just know, if you get stuck, there are a horse and dressage people floating around these parts. How amazing to have horses congregating outside your window… pure heaven!

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Ric November 3, 2009 at 9:45 pm

I grew up on a farm, so there were always animals around. Horses that I was afraid of, cows, calves, Mike – our border collie, and lots and lots of cats. The earliest pet I remember was Caramel – a light orange, long haired kitten I called my own.
I recall my mother’s bi-annual hosting of the Woman’s Club and being asked to perform. I was very nervous, so I held my kitten and sang Irish Lullaby to her. We were never allowed to have animals in the house so Caramel became a barn cat, who had many litters of kittens and I loved them all.

Working on Blink – about the young wife who disappears repeatedly – which is taking way longer than it should. And a cozy mystery which actually includes the Woman’s Club. Negotiating with a local chain of newspapers to carry a column about growing up on the farm and country school and small town living. (After reading some of the comments, I realize my childhood was something special and the columns are a good way to share that magic.)

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Aurelio November 4, 2009 at 8:42 am

Really??? If you do go, you’ll have to report back to me all about it, and please tell the Learys hello for me.

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SusanHenderson November 4, 2009 at 9:30 am

Now that is going to stick with me forever, you holding a cat and singing Irish Lullaby in front of the Woman’s Club!

Your mystery will take as long as it needs to take. Just enjoy writing it. And if it has farm/country school/small town living in it, then every time you write a column for the paper, you’re growing your audience for your book.

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SusanHenderson November 4, 2009 at 9:51 am

Yeah, that’s whose couch I’m planning to crash on.

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SusanHenderson November 4, 2009 at 9:52 am

Someone’s very lovely agent is interviewed right here: http://www.guidetoliteraryagents.com/blog/Agent+Advice+Dan+Conaway+Of+Writers+House.aspx

Hope you get a chance to read it!

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Ric November 4, 2009 at 7:35 pm

I think I was 8 years old or so, looked about 5 (I was very small for my age), and had the voice of an angel – so I was told. I sang all over town, in churches and such, until my voice changed. Then, no one wanted to hear me sing anymore.

The mystery is set in 1960 – one agency intern wrote to tell me I wasn’t probably wasn’t qualified to write an historical novel. I love it when extremely young people can’t do the math to figure out I was actually there………

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SusanHenderson November 5, 2009 at 9:30 am

Aww, my kids are little for their age – my 12-year-old is 65#, and his best friend, only a few months apart, is 130# – so I have a soft spot for a story like this.

How funny about the 1960 comment! (Kind of!) It wouldn’t have even occurred to me to call a story set in the 60’s as a “historical novel”.

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eileen_rita November 7, 2009 at 10:19 pm

We had a Great Dane when I was little called Alphonse who was the kindest, gentlest animal I’ve ever known. He was extremely protective of little ol’ me and my family. It makes me laugh at how completely different he was from our dog now, Phantom the chihuahua/terrier cross. But you can’t help but love Phantom, she never stops trying to be a proper dog. She’s like the little engine that could 🙂
My favorite memory of Alphonse is how he used to lie with our cat Bogart by the fire. Occasionally he would, as all animals do, reposition himself to absorb more heat, which usually meant he ended up on top of the Bogart, so there would be a discussion between the two which Bogart always won and he would roll back again.

I’m still working on my script. I have a friend and a writing tutor reading it at the moment. I’m not sure who’s feedback I’m more nervous about.
Had a great writing session this morning though. Sat on the deck in the sun, with some Billy Joel drifting out the windows and just put my head down for a couple of hours. I love a creative Sunday!

Congratulations on your progress. Sounds like it’s going really well!

Eileen

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SusanHenderson November 8, 2009 at 2:04 pm

I’m so glad to hear you’re showing people that script! How funny to go from a great dane to a chihauhau, but love the stories… and the names!

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djtuffpuppy November 8, 2009 at 10:23 pm

My dog’s name is Coco (Star) Tapioca. She is not a family dog. She is MY dog… who just happens to live with my family. I got her impulsively when I walked in to a pet store one labor day weekend. She’s all black except she has a white star on her chest. Her favorite hobby is attacking the family dog who does her best to ignore my dog.

I am currently working on a short story for my fiction class (due Tuesday, eep) and when I can squeeze some non-school writing, I work on what I hope to be my first novel.

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SusanHenderson November 9, 2009 at 3:48 pm

Really? A star on her chest? That’s so cool, and that you got her so impulsively.

When do you finish school? Is it this year?

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SusanHenderson November 15, 2009 at 10:14 am

I’m doing a regular feature over at The Nervous Breakdown and invite you all to go over there and chime in. This one’s about professional jealousy: http://www.thenervousbreakdown.com/shenderson/2009/11/litpark-the-evolution-of-the-book/

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michaelmcintyre November 16, 2009 at 11:04 pm

We had several family dogs through my childhood, but the only one I could say I loved was a black haired mutt named Barney. I didn’t know how much until he was gone. He was hit by a car.

We had some strange dogs. My mom had a chihuahua that learned how to climb the chain link fence out of spite, because my brother’s dog could jump over it.

Coincidentally, I am working on a comic that features a dog that looks like Barney and the protagonist identifies this dog with a dog from his childhood.

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SusanHenderson November 17, 2009 at 7:50 am

Comics with dogs are a sure thing. I hope you include that fence-climbing chihuahua in the book.

Your photo’s great, Michael!

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rachelkramerbussel December 1, 2009 at 2:35 pm

We’re now into the next month, but better late than never, right? I had a goldfish, well, a series of goldfish growing up in an apartment with my mom. I always begged for a cat, even saying things like, circa age 8, “If you’re not going to get me a cat, don’t bother getting me any presents at all!” (cue full-on indignation)

I don’t actually remember the goldfish herself but I do remember my mom coming up to Martha’s Vineyard one weekend, where I stayed with my grandmother during the summer, and telling me Goldie, my brilliant name for said goldfish, had died. I cried and was really sad. I can’t recall how long I mourned her or any of the names of our other goldfish. I was always envious of the kids with big houses who could have cats (I am now allergic to most cats and also live in a small, cluttered apartment so haven’t been able to fulfill that “When I grow up, I’m going to have an apartment full of cats!” threat.)

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SusanHenderson December 2, 2009 at 9:00 am

Glad you’re here, Rachel. I keep trying to catch readings of yours, and one thing or another gets in the way.

Have always loved bold and feisty girls, and I’m not surprised at all to learn you were one, too! My husband’s sad goldfish story involved trying to give him bath and washing him with soap…

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michaelmcintyre January 14, 2010 at 5:00 pm

Thanks for the comment on my photo. That’s a self portrait of me as a frog.

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