Hello everyone. I hope you are still hanging in there and staying safe. Here in Illinois, we
continue to shelter in place per our governor's orders until the end of May. I will admit there have been days lately, when I would really like to go somewhere...anywhere, and just be with people. My closest friends will tell you that for me to make that statement is a BIG deal! (Full disclosure, I've been known to say things like "People are overrated," I just can't people today", or "I prefer dogs to people." Try not to judge me too harshly.)
I am a homebody and proud of it. I'm typically happiest to just be at home with my husband and my dog. My husband once accused me of being a hermit, which I thought was just ridiculous. Then he pointed out that I hadn't left the house in 4 days! I started to argue the point, but then I realized he was right.When I begrudgingly admitted this to him, he laughed and said,"See, it's true." I took this as a challenge to see how much longer I could live as a self-imposed hermit. The first 4 days had been completely unintentional, but now I purposely was staying home. This lasted for 6 more days until I was forced to leave our house to get groceries for fear we'd all die of starvation. Ten days seemed like such a big deal back then, but now, not so much. We are now on Day 58 of sheltering in place with no real end in sight. Oh well, this hermit will find a way to persevere.
Today, I'm really preferring the company of my dog to people. I received another rejection of my manuscript today from a literary agent in New York. She enthusiastically requested my full manuscript on March 6, 2019. No, that is not a typo. It took her 14 months to read it and reject it because she, and I quote, "Just didn't connect with it like she'd hoped." That's it. No other explanation, nothing constructive that I could use to move forward. She did wish me the best of luck on my literary pursuits and she hopes I"m staying safe and healthy.
What does that mean- just didn't connect with it? I really need to know more. Is that literary world code for your story sucks, so don't quit your day job? That's about as vague as the last reason I was given for my manuscript being rejected-it doesn't fit our list at this time. Will some other agent connect with my book? Will it be right for some other agencies list? I sure wish there was a guide to understanding the underlying meanings of the phrases they use in rejection letters. Somebody should write a Cliffs Notes book for that! End of rant, thank you for indulging me.
Since I'm finding the company of my dog preferable to people today, I thought it would be appropriate to share a teaser from "Murder By The Books" that showcases my sweet girls, Abbey and Hayley. In case you missed it, I've written them into my book as the pets of my main character, Jillian. They are the loves of her life and go with her almost everywhere.
We sadly lost our sweet Hayley girl this past Labor Day, so it's bittersweet that I still get to write about her in my books. Enjoy today's passage...
At six o’clock on the dot, there was a knock on her door that startled the dogs out of a sound sleep and sent them running to the door barking. Taking a deep breath and shooing the pups back, Jillian opened the door to her date.
Travis stood on the tiny porch, looking so handsome in jeans and a light blue button up shirt. He was holding a small bouquet of flowers in one hand and the leash of a large dog in the other hand. Jillian was surprised to see Travis’ furry friend, but she was also curious about his presence on her front porch. She smiled and asked both man and dog to come in.
“Um, before we do, I want to explain about Blaze being here. I’d been thinking how much your girls mean to you, and I rarely go anywhere without Blaze. So I thought it would be a good idea to make sure our pets got along right off the bat. I sort of planned this date with them in mind, so I sure hope they hit it off.” Travis smiled and shrugged his shoulders waiting for her reaction.
Jillian was at a loss for words. She could not believe Travis had taken her girls into consideration when planning this date. That had to be the most thoughtful thing any guy had ever done for her, and she was incredibly touched. She did the only thing she could think of in this situation. Jillian stepped forward, put her arms around Travis’ waist and kissed him.
“Please come in and bring Blaze with you,” Jillian said upon ending the kiss.
Travis led his dog into the entryway of Jillian’s apartment and gave her the command to sit. Blaze responded instantly by plopping her haunches right down on the tile floor. Sensing an interloper in their home, the pups came running in to size up Blaze. Jillian held her breath waiting to see if all three canines would get along.
Abbey and Hayley approached Blaze as a unified front sniffing her up one side and down the other. She sat patiently enduring their scrutiny, but her whole body was quivering with excitement. Having decided this newcomer was no threat, both small dogs began wagging their tails and nudging closer to the bigger dog. Blaze seemed to like their attention and nosed both of them in a friendly fashion. It appeared the three dogs were going to get along just fine. The pups both took off down the hallway only to return a few seconds later carrying their favorite toys and laying them at Blaze’s feet. Well, that made it official. The dogs were definitely going to be friends!
Travis must have been thinking the exact same thing. He chuckled and said, “Offering their toys, that’s a good sign, right? I guess that means they’re ok with each other, so the rest of this date is a go.” He handed Jillian the bouquet of delicate blossoms in shades of cream, pink, and orange. This unusual, yet beautiful mix of flowers had her sister’s handiwork written all over it, and they were stunning. Jillian took them from Travis and deeply inhaled their scent as she carried them to the kitchen to place them in fresh water.
“These flowers are absolutely gorgeous. Thank you so much,” Jillian thanked Travis. “Two beautiful bouquets in two days?”
“I can’t take the credit,” he admitted. “Amanda has excellent taste and a great eye for what looks good together. I never would have been able to put those particular flowers together. It’s no wonder her flower shop is doing so well.”
“Don’t let her hear all this praise. It will just go straight to her head,” Jillian smiled and laughed.
“Too late,” Travis said. “I already complimented her when I bought this bouquet.”
“Great. Then, it’ll be all your fault when she becomes unbearable to live with.” Jillian winked at Travis, so he’d know she was jut teasing.
Travis had followed Jillian into the kitchen while she arranged the flowers into a vase. He’d been keeping one eye on the dogs who were playing a rousing game of tug of war with a long, fuzzy, purple caterpillar. Abbey and Hayley worked in tandem on one end of the toy while Blaze held firmly onto the other. All three dogs were grunting and growling, tugging and pulling; while wagging their tails in pure joy.
As Jillian filled a lovely crystal vase with fresh water, Travis walked up and put his arms around her from behind. He brushed her hair to one side and placed a small kiss on her neck that sent chills down her spine. Then he whispered, “I’ve been thinking about kissing you all day, and I just couldn’t wait until the end of the date. Hope you don’t mind.”
Jillian turned within his arms, smiled up at him, and put her hands on both sides of his face pulling him in closer. She lightly touched her lips to his and whispered, “I don’t mind one little bit.”
Travis needed no further invitation to pull her in tightly and deepen the kiss. They stood there for several moments locked in an embrace, when they both realized three pairs of beady brown eyes were watching them. Travis and Jillian looked toward the door, and there sat Abbey and Hayley with their new friend, Blaze, in the middle. The three canines were staring at their humans each with their heads cocked to one side with puzzled looks on their furry faces.
Jillian laughed and said, “Do you ever feel like Blaze is looking at you and judging you? I often wonder what my pups are thinking of me.”
“I’m sure Blaze thinks I’m just the human servant that caters to her every whim which includes a full food bowl, fresh water multiple times a day, dog treats, a daily run, and lots of belly rubs.”
The dogs still hadn’t moved. They were staring unblinkingly at Jillian and Travis, which was beginning to make them both feel a bit unnerved.
“Maybe we should get going,” Travis suggested. “We can load those three into my truck and take off. We’ve got about a thirty minute drive to our date destination.”
“Ok. Are you sure we should take the dogs?” Jillian asked. “Blaze is welcome to stay here with my dogs until we get back.”
“Nope. They’re coming,” Travis said firmly. “I’ve made special arrangements just for them, and it should work out great since they are getting along so well. Let’s hit the road.” Travis held out his hand for Jillian and she readily took it. “C’mon you three fur balls,” Travis whistled. “You’re coming on this date, too.”
They didn’t need to be asked twice as all three pups made a dash for the door. Abbey and Hayley waited obediently for Jillian to clip on their leashes, and Blaze was right by Travis’ side. This unusual group walked out to Travis’ red pickup truck and climbed in with Jillian riding shotgun and the dogs in the backseat.
Whew, that was longer than I thought. Hopefully, you enjoyed meeting Blaze, Abbey and Hayley's new friend. All three dogs will continue to make guest appearances throughout the series. Since I can't imagine a life without dogs in it, I figure my books should be no different.
I think I'll call it a wrap for today. I think Abbey may have to go outside. Thanks for coming back and checking out my blog. Please leave a comment and feel free to share my website with friends. I think I'm ready to "people" again.
Until next time,