My 3 words 2015

starrynight

by Christine Kling

In 2013, I changed from the habit of making New Year’s resolutions to following Chris Brogan’s “My 3 Words” exercise. I found that my resolutions ended up being like the Christmas decorations. I trotted them out over the holidays and sometime around the end of that first week of January, I boxed them up and stuffed them in a cupboard and didn’t think about them at all the rest of the year.

To be honest, I don’t revisit my 3 words often enough throughout the rest of the year, either. But whenever I come across one of them in a book or an article, they resonate with me, and I am reminded of the path I chose back when the year was a newborn. Also, I’ve found that choosing the words is a way of thoughtfully reflecting on where I am and where I want to be in the coming year.

Here were my word choices for the last two years:

My 3 Words 2013  Intend, Treasure, Stretch

My 3 Words 2014   Awe, Tribe, Heart

My 3 Words For 2015

Star  I chose this word after reading an end of year blog post by the amazing Chuck Wendig. His advice for writers is to be both big and small. He ends the piece with this lovely metaphor that I hope to think about every time I see the word star this year:  “Be the writer you want to be, full of power and might and confidence, but one who also is gracious and nice and part of something larger. Earlier I mentioned the stars in the sky, and perhaps there is no greater metaphor, here: each star is impossibly large, a massive shape of fire and gas and light. And yet, when seen at a distance: tiny lights across the night, like sequins cast on the floor, like holes pricked in a dark blanket with a prodding pin. Big stars, but small stars, too. Be then like the star: both big and small at the same time.”

Brave  I love the look of this word. It makes me picture the girl from that Pixar film Brave with her wild red hair and hunting bow in her hands. I want to be fierce. Some people think I am already brave because of some of the things I’ve done in my life, but at my core, I am still that elementary school girl who wants to please the teacher and never gets in trouble. I’m a pleaser now, but I want to be a warrior. I recently read a fascinating article in the Atlantic called The Confidence Gap. I could relate to all the ways in which I sabotage myself due to my lack of self-confidence. “Success, it turns out, correlates just as closely with confidence as it does with competence… The good news is that with work, confidence can be acquired.”

Connect  The concept of connection has always been a powerful one to me, and this year I want to live a life that focuses on connecting. Both my son and I are getting married in March, and that is a huge connection change in the structure of my family. I want to connect with more readers, too, on social media and through blogging, taking photos, and sharing videos. We plan to visit new islands, and I want to make authentic connections with people from other cultures. This word also means creativity to me. New ideas don’t pop out of the blue — they are born when the mind makes new connections. Invention is connecting elements that have never been connected before. I want to be more inventive, more original in my writing.

These are my 3 words for the new year. I hope some of you will share yours in the comments.

 

Fair winds!

Christine

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Happy New Year!

C.E. Grundler

I love New Years Day. January 1st always holds a special place in my heart…technically, January 2nd, but New Years Day is close enough. It’s not for any particular traditions, in fact New Years Eve has always been my night to absolutely positively NOT go out. But as I see it, NYD marks the end of the Holiday Season. You know, that chaotic, crazy time of year when everyone seems to go into rush mode, while we’re all bombarded with messages that we should all be jolly and caught up in the excitement of parties, gifts and food. I’m not knocking all that fun, but even on a scaled back level, the time between Thanksgiving and today can be downright exhausting.  And when all I can think about, all I want to think about, is a fictional world where everything is going to hell in every way possible, it’s hard to focus on all the festivities demanding my participation.

So no resolutions right now, just a desire for some peace and quiet, and best New Years wishes to all.

 

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Happy New Year

By Mike Jastrzebski

Just wanted to wish all of our readers a Happy New Year and best wishes for 2015.

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A Cruiser’s Christmas

Blue snowflake lights on our Christmas tree in LEARNATIVITY's decorated pilot house salon.

Blue snowflake lights on our Christmas tree in LEARNATIVITY’s decorated pilot house salon.

by Christine Kling

I adore the cruising lifestyle, and I consider myself to be incredibly fortunate to be out here on a boat at an atoll in the middle of the Pacific ocean. I also know that there are boatloads of people who dream of being able to quit their jobs, move onto a boat and sail off to the far corners of the south seas. I’m so grateful that I get to be one of the few who get to live out this dream.

But sometimes, during the holiday season, I get a twinge of sadness that I’m not sitting down at a big table in a house filled with family. Everything in life comes with trade-offs, and being far from home during the holiday season is one price we pay for our nomadic lifestyle. Today, there is Facebook is filled with photos of families and friends sitting down at tables filled with familiar faces. There’s the music, the laughter, the parties, the stories, the funny family traditions, and I miss not being a part of it all.

When I feel this twinge of sadness, I remind myself that I have never been a traditional person. My traditions have always changed and evolved and that has been something I have enjoyed. Just like I miss my old boat, it’s okay to miss being with family and know that I am so fortunate to live in this high-tech age when we can call our loved ones on Skype on Christmas Day.

babyTimXmasBack in the years when I was a cruising mom and we were away from my parents, I missed them most during the holidays when we were just a little family of three. But we took photos and later videos and shared them back and forth through the mail.

 

 

Then during the years I was a single mom living in houses, I missed life on the boat, but I got to have a real living evergreen Christmas tree.

Hard to believe this boy is now 30 years old!

Hard to believe this boy is now 30 years old!

During the years I was a singlehanded sailor, I got invited to others’ tables and enjoyed feasting with new friends. My brother invited us all to his Chicago home for a couple of real white Christmas meals during the last years we had with my mom. And my son got engaged, and I was invited to join a new family’s table.

Now the cycle has turned again and I have returned to life as a cruising couple. It’s time to blend old traditions and create new ones. While Wayne and I spent Christmas together last year, I had only been on the boat for 6 days, and I had no idea that LEARNATVITY would one day become my full time home. We had a wonderful Christmas barbecue at Vuda Point Marina last year, but this year it was just the two of us. I found a two-foot tall little fake tree at Majuro’s EZ Price Mart and I wrapped presents in white typing paper decorated with Sharpie pens. The Captain’s made his secret recipe for roasted Christmas chicken and potatoes, and I tried my hand at the iced Christmas cookies I made every year for my son Tim. We are slowly growing our own new traditions.

Christmascookies

We stood on the aft deck on Christmas Eve after just going swimming in the 88 degree water, and we took in the tropical sunset under the new moon. Admiring the colors in the sky, I thought of a new Christmas tradition we will be able to tell to our granddaughter Brynn when she is old enough to come sailing with us.

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Red sky at night, Rudolph’s delight!

Fair winds!

Christine

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Christmas – Content is King

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Content is King. Ted Turner was the first to speak these words, back in the 1980s, and it is no less true today. Technology remains exciting to us all, but content is still the thing. Smart phones of all sizes get our attention, but it’s a good story line that holds it.

The strength of content provides encouragement for any writer. The Christmas season illustrates this fact. Clement C. Moore is credited with penning Twas the Night Before Christmas/A Visit from St. Nicholas in 1822. It’s still read in our house. Not a bad print run.

And we’re still watching some good oldies from my childhood – The Grinch, A Charlie Brown Christmas, and Frosty the Snowman all get queued-up on the TV during the weeks before Christmas. In viewing these shows, which first appeared in the ‘60s, it’s amusing to see the scene cuts that mark commercial breaks. Back then, there were only three networks and we didn’t even think about the possibility of skipping past the ads. Later, VCRs allowed us to watch the programs at our own convenience. Then, DVDs brought better picture quality. Not too long ago, DVRs and On-demand added to the convenience, and today we can stream the shows. Technology sure has changed. Pop in Frosty and you may be surprised by the low-tech animation. Yet start that show from the beginning and you might well have a wet eye by the time Hocus Pocus brings Santa to the greenhouse only to find young Karen crying over a melted Frosty.

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Or fast-forward twenty years to the 1980s National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation and A Christmas Story, or a few years later to the 1990s with Home Alone, Home Alone 2, or The Santa Clause.

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And getting back to books, pick up Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas, A Christmas Carol by Dickens, The Polar Express, the Gift of the Magi, Little Women and on.

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And then there is the Bible. Still very much in print, still selling well.

Yes, this is strong encouragement for all writers. Encouraging, too, for us content consumers who love to be entertained, be it drama, tragedy, comedy, or any other mix of emotions that capture our imaginations for a moment or two.

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Merry Christmas,
John Urban

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Down the research rabbit hole

ResearchCommando

by Christine Kling

Research is both a joy and a curse for a thriller writer. I have this insatiable curiosity, and I like to get my facts right so I spend hours finding and ordering books, then reading and searching on the Internet. Some people think that the Internet is all you would need today, but there is still so much more information that has not made it into the digital realm that I find books are a necessity.  I can easily lose myself for hours — or days even reading fascinating bits of information or history, most of which I will never actually write about, but it informs the make-up and the decisions of my characters. Lately, I’ve been lost down this research rabbit hole about an aspect of the Second World War that I never knew existed.

Today, Britain has her SBS, Special Boat Service, their elite Special Forces unit that is similar to America’s U.S. Navy Seals. This unit can trace its history back to 1940 when Winston Churchill knew Britain was not in a situation to launch a land attack across the English Channel yet, but the British public would need stories of success to keep their morale up. He decided to create “specially trained troops of the hunter class, who can develop a reign of terror down the enemy coast.” At that time, these men were to be called commandos.

When I used to think of commandos, I thought of guys parachuting in behind enemy lines and blowing up bridges — stuff like we’ve seen in all those WWII movies. I never pictured a commando as paddling around in a kayak, but that was what the guys in the Folboat Troop did.

In July of 1940, a commando officer named Roger Courtney suggested to the Admiral of the Fleet that men in these small folding kayaks could be very effective. He basically got laughed at. So, he decided deeds would work better than words. Courtney paddled his folboat out to a troop ship, climbed aboard, wrote his name on the door to the captain’s cabin and stole a cover off of one of the deck guns. Then he walked into a meeting of several high-ranking Navy officers meeting at a local hotel and he presented them with the wet gun cover. They promoted him to captain and gave him his unit, renaming it the Special Boat Section.

These folboats were framed with light-weight wood and were covered with waterproof fabric. My area of research is Malta, but these were used everywhere from Europe to SE Asia. In Malta, the commandos shipped out on one of the submarines of the 10th fleet which was based out of Malta. The sub would head off to a secret predetermined location very close to a shore. Initially, the commandos only went after land-based targets. The sub would surface in the black of night, and the commando would put together his little folding kayak on deck, climb into it, and sit there waiting. Then the sub would simply submerge beneath him, thus launching the boat. The commando would paddle his way in through the surf, hide his boat, sneak around and blow up a bridge or a railroad line or whatever, and then paddle back out to his rendezvous with the sub. Suddenly, as the damage mounted the Navy brass became very impressed with what one man could do from these little boats.

Later, the commandos of the Special Boat Section started going after shipping by paddling their little boats right into enemy harbors and placing magnetic limpet mines on the hulls of enemy ships. But one of the coolest things I discovered was the guys back in the weapons lab designed and built some mini-torpedos for these kayaks. They were 21 inches long and meant to be fired at close range from the kayak. They were propelled by modified windshield-wiper motors that turned twin opposing propellors, and were powered by special batteries. These torpedos carried a charge of plastic high explosive, and they were activated by a single button in those wobbly boats in the open ocean! I can’t imagine paddling into enemy waters with one of those clutched between the knees!

So, of course, as you can imagine a nautical thriller writer like me can’t resist this little corner of history. The new book will have a commando character who carries his little folboat onto the submarine UPHOLDER, and his is a top secret mission. Of course, I will have get out of this research hole and finish the book for you to find out what that mission is.

 

Fair winds!

Christine

 

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Immersion and mis-estimates…

 

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Crime novelist P.D. James

C.E. Grundler

For the last few weeks I’ve been neck deep in a round of edits so immersive that it’s all I can do sometimes to pull myself free and return to the ‘real’ world. I’ve been working in eight to ten hour binges. I used to set a timer to remind myself to stop to take a break now and then, but I’m finding the ‘puppy’ system works even better, because puppies don’t have snooze buttons and unlike my older boys, when Emma needs a walk that’s not negotiable. And while she plays and snoozes, I work.

I have to admit, for me, this is when the real writing fun begins. All the heavy lifting is over. The story is solid, cohesive, and now it’s just a matter of tidying things up, tweaking the flow of scenes and dialog, indulging in all that scenery previously flagged with a simple <<ESTUARY/DUSK>> or the like.  The first time around I didn’t invest time into those details — no sense dressing up scenes that might not make the final cut. But now everything that lacked the drive, didn’t pack a punch or paint the right picture is gone, the structure is rock-solid. Now it’s all fun and games, at least until someone gets hurt…then the real fun begins! True, this is also the phase when I have the tendency to switch from moderately reclusive to full-blown shut in, wearing the same ratty sweater for days while surrounded by an ever-changing collection of cold, half-empty coffee mugs, a bowl of popcorn, and a half-eaten apple.  And that’s why the quote at the beginning of this post made me smile.

I’ve always considered writing a solitary endeavor, at least, the way I approach it, and that meshes perfectly with my solitary ways. I’m not saying that’s a good thing or a bad one. As writers, we’ll all fall into our own comfort zones on the spectrum of social vs. solitary, and each has its own advantages when it comes to writing and marketing. Personally speaking, my contentment with isolation works for me. And when I read that quote I thought, “Lonely? Not in the least.” I’ve never felt lonely, surrounded by a world of characters with lives unfolding as they’re faced with trials and tragedies intended to push them to their limits. True, it is me throwing them into the fire, off a rooftop, or under the bus, (in this book I take that metaphor semi-literally.)  I don’t have time to be lonely — I’m too busy herding crazy characters.

On another note, after decades of living with assorted variations of mutt varieties, the universe decided to play a fun one on me.  I’ll start by saying Emma has to be one of the sweetest, most well-mannered dogs I have ever encountered. She’s curious, playful, and all around as delightful as any puppy, but she’s also surprisingly intelligent and quick to learn commands. In the past, the dogs who found us were normally full grown, so you have a general idea what you’re dealing with, size-wise. My entire life, that size has always been large and up, and I’ll be the first to admit, this 10 pound bundle had me stumped. As you can see by the photos, she looks like a baby pit-mix.  Moxie was a pit-mix, and Moxie was seventy-five pounds. Surely if Emma was so tiny, it was just because she was so young…

It certainly looks like a pit-pot-luck.

Blur-Dog certainly looks like a pit-pot-luck.

Well, not quite as young. Yes, Emma has a mouth full of pinchy puppy teeth — about four months worth, according to the vet.  She’s older than we first thought, and she’ll likely top out at twenty pounds.

Twenty pounds??? But thats… a LITTLE dog!

Normal dog sized Loki beside carry-on size Emma

Normal dog sized Loki beside carry-on size Emma

Okay, all of you out there with those itty bitty dogs, stop laughing. Twenty pounds IS little, when over my entire lifespan, dogs ranged from 55 pounds up to 90. Despite being only 5’2″ myself, I’m a  ’big-dog’ person; it’s just what I’m used to. A cat-sized dog is taking some adjustment, though I will admit with each passing day I’m discovering the advantages to a tote-bag dog. Such as…

BATHS:

Easiest dog bath I've ever done. Ever. EVER!

Easiest dog bath I’ve ever done. Ever. EVER!

Anyone who ever wrestled 90 pounds of reluctant, miserable, dejected dog around a bathtub knows what I mean. Nothing about that task is easy, and the older I get, the more my back curses me. But not with porta-dog! Simply place in sink, wash, rinse, repeat. Work at counter level — no strained back lifting or leaning over.  Fast, fun, and easy!

STORAGE/PORTABILITY:

Confuse-A-Cat! (Anyone?)

Confuse-A-Cat! (Anyone?)

Big dogs require big spaces. Rex regularly lays directly beneath my chair when I write, and there isn’t exactly enough space for my feet and sixty or so pounds of fur. But not with mini-dog. Mini-dog can share your lap, or simply tucks itself into the nearest boat-bag, which also serves as easy transport. In fact, hot-pink boat-bag has become a favorite dog bed. On the boat, where space is a commodity, smaller is definitely better!

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FEEDING:

Little dog = little meal portions.  Food doesn’t come in 50 pound bags, and it doesn’t cost as much. Less food goes in, which, in turn, leads to…

POOP PICKUP:

…Less to come out. Being one sixth her big brothers’ size, she deposits 1/6th sized treasures.  With the boys, sometimes it’s like picking up after ponies. Emma could use the cat box and I wouldn’t know who left what.

EXTREME CUTENESS:

Without any point of reference, Emma’s proportions could be that of a dog many times her size, and that’s what makes her diminutive stature so insanely adorable. Still, I’m training her with the same rules as everyone else: Know our commands, no jumping, cats get absolute respect, and only calm, polite dogs get pet. I expect the same manners from everyone, regardless of size or how cute they are. And as of this morning, she’s losing the pointy hip bones and ribs skinny puppy look. The scale read a whole 12 pounds.

And on that note, it’s time to take the kids for a walk, then back to my edits.

 

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Movin’ on up.

By Mike Jastrzebski

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This week we moved up from ball #32 to ball #1 in the St. Augustine south mooring field. Not only does this mean that our dinghy ride from the boat to the dinghy dock only takes us 2 minutes instead of the 8-10 minutes it took us to get there from #32, but it also puts us behind the break wall when the nor’easters hit.

Even in thirty knot winds we should be able to get to shore and back with just a little discomfort. This means that Mary can get to work and we can get off the boat and to the store if we need to.

On the writing front things are moving ahead. I should have my editing of Stranded Naked Blues completed by the end of the month. After that Mary will do her editing and we will be ready for a cover.

As far as the weather goes, it’s been down into the low 40′s at night this past week but our wood/charcoal stove manages to keep things nice and toasty inside the boat. The only real discomfort is in the morning when we get up. By then the stove has gone out and it takes a bit to restart it and warm things up.

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Author/Entrepreneur

ST on Amazon

by Christine Kling

This month marks three years since I followed Mike J’s lead and took the plunge into self-publishing my then-new novel Circle of Bones, so I’ve decided to take a moment to share where things stand for me. As a writer on the water, I should note that I did much of this work from a sailboat while also working at writing my next book. While I do need an Internet connection, and that’s meant we’re not cruising the outer Marshall Islands at the moment, I can work here in Majuro in spite of my struggles with the local wifi.

SeaBitchActually, in September of 2011, I first published what I called my baby book: Sea Bitch, my collection of four short stories, and I blogged about Going Indie. It was supposed to be my training program for formatting and uploading books. I didn’t do any marketing for it, but a few people found it and to date that little book has sold 2,411 copies and made me over $4,000.

I consider Circle of Bones my real first effort to self-publish and then market a novel. It has been quite a journey. I have self-published seven different titles now, including Bones (which is no longer available in the self-pubbed version) and the boxed set of the Seychelle series. Across all titles I have now sold 59,793 books and made more money than all the advances and royalties I had made previously on these books from the world of traditional publishing. Getting to that level of sales has been helped by my new non-traditional/traditional publisher Thomas & Mercer because when they promote my Cole & Riley books — that rising tide floats all boats.

Throughout these past three years I’ve done my best to educate myself about this business as a writer/entrepreneur. I’m not one of those self-publishing millionaires, but I have found a level of success that has enabled me to keep provisions in the galley. We authors always have to keep things fresh and seek new ways to find new readers. In 2014, I expanded my business in several major ways.

CC_full_coverFirst, I decided it was time to make paperback books available through CreateSpace. The formatting turned out to be quite a task involving weeks of tweaking, but I certainly learned lots by doing it myself. The great thing about paperbacks is that the Kindle page now shows the price $14.75 with the slash through it making the Kindle edition look like such a good buy. I don’t expect to sell many paperbacks, but it was a marketing strategy.

Paperback books also meant I would need full front and back covers, so my second big investment in time and money was a cover refresh. I had all new covers designed by the wonderful Filipino graphic designer R’tor John Maghuyop whom I found through my 99designs contest. He only charges $200 per book for the ebook, paperback, and audiobook covers, and I really like how he has given my books a common branded look.

All covers

Once I had all the new cover art, I had R’tor design a Facebook cover photo, and I started a new Facebook author page. It takes more time to have the two pages, but I have utilized the ability to advertise on the business page, and I have already seen the benefits.

I also started an account on Google Play and uploaded all my books there making that the fifth vendor after Amazon, iBooks, Nook and Kobo. It takes a whole lot of time to update six books with new cover art across five vendors, but I believe in trying to make my books available in as many places as I can. Android is a huge market and Google puts you into the store they shop in. I haven’t sold many books there yet, but I’m in this business for the long term.

And finally, I have started the process of getting the last three Seychelle books produced as audiobooks. Back when Surface Tension was first published, Brilliance Audio bought the rights to Surface Tension and produced it. (By the way, Audible’s Surface Tension audio on sale for $1.99 at the moment). They never did the other three books in the series, however. So I’m learning my way through ACX (the Audiobook Creation Exchange), and I’ve partnered with the wonderful Rosemary Benson who is the narrator/producer for the books. Cross Current should go live just after the first of the year, and the next two books will follow shortly thereafter.

All of these efforts were leading up to doing something I’ve been thinking about for a while. I decided to make Surface Tension free (as you can see in the screenshot above), not just for a day or two, but for several months. I ran a Book Bub ad on December 9, and I’ve scheduled other ads over the holidays. Here, I’m thinking like a drug dealer. Give them a free taste and hopefully, I can hook ‘em and sell more of the other books. So far that is working and sales of my other books have tripled since ST went free. It remains to be seen how long that will last.

As an author/entrepreneur I am already looking ahead at many of the big changes that are coming in 2015. Authors are still trying to figure out the impact of Kindle Unlimited, Amazon’s subscription service, on overall book sales. Many bestselling self-published authors like Holly Ward and Marie Force are speaking out on how it has devastated their sales. Starting Jan. 1, the EU is going to require that their VAT tax be included in prices of ebooks meaning author’s royalties on EU sales will go down if we don’t increase our prices to reflect the included tax. Facebook is changing the way it distributes and charges for advertising on business pages. But more significant than any of these is the overall downward movement of prices of traditionally published books. I don’t know whether the publishers are setting these prices or whether it is Amazon discounting, but take a look at the prices of the top books on Amazon now. These are all traditionally published books.

Bestsellers

When readers can get Michael Connelly’s latest for $3.99 or Laura Hillenbrand’s latest or Gone Girl for $2.99, we self-published authors have just lost our best sales pitch: price. We really are going to have to up our game in 2015. Our books must be good enough to compete against these heavy hitters by being great stories, well-edited and professionally formatted with great looking covers.

Hey, I’m up for the challenge. I’m an author/entrepreneur.

 

Fair winds!

Christine

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Unusual Writing Aids…

C.E. Grundler

In a quest to maximize writing productivity, which of these items do you think is LEAST CONDUCIVE for increasing focus, flow, and overall output?

A.)

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Caffeine

B.)

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A cottage on Walden Pond

C.)

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An eight week old puppy.

Seems obvious, right?  Puppies and writing go together like alcohol and firearms — or so you’d think. I can assure you that’s the first thought that crossed my mind as I found myself faced with a little bundle of hungry, lonely, confused baby dog. There’s no denying puppies are adorable, but that adorable comes along with a whole lot of teething, peeing, and generally not knowing how to behave like a big dog. Puppies don’t listen like my two very well-mannered boys, who can stroll the boatyard with me off leash and are constantly complimented on their social graces. A puppy was definitely not on my agenda. Puppies are LOTS OF WORK, and writing is LOTS OF WORK, and I had to stay focused on finishing. But sometimes fate has other plans — during Tuesday’s northeaster the canine population under my roof rose by one and I braced myself for the inevitable anarchy. Sleepless nights. Chewed shoes and furniture. Crying. Piddles and poops… lots of piddles and poops.

Yet two days in, there is an eleven pound bundle all played out and snoozing contently at my feet. She hasn’t had a single accident in the house. She followed the lead of my boys and caught on that outside is the place to go, and she immediately caught to sit by the kitchen door and give a soft bark. She only wakes me once in the night to take her out, then settles back to sleep. I’ll give credit where it’s due; she’s a quick learner and she has two great teachers. And I’m using a training method I’d learned from a friend years ago. His dog is always at his side, always off leash, as he travels from yard to yard fixing boats. She responds to him almost intuitively, and he trained her using one simple item — a four foot piece of old dock line. One end hooked to the dog, the other to his belt, and that’s how he went about his normal day.

The idea behind this system, technically known as ‘Umbilical Cord Training,’ is that in the earliest days, the dog is never out of your sight. It works best when the dog is with you 24/7. which she is. Lonely, bored puppies become destructive, but puppy-on-a-rope is never alone, and instead moves with you and follows your lead in a way more in tune with their canine instincts. Any wrong behavior can be instantly redirected to better alternatives. And puppies instinctively know not to soil their den, but unless you’re close by to offer an alternative, their little bladders can hold only so long.

Okay, so as dog training goes, that’s great. But how on earth could this help me write? Simple. When I’m sitting and writing and she’s playing contently with her toys and friends, I’m less inclined to wander away from the computer. And while puppies might seem to have endless energy, their little bodies are growing fast. They need 14-20 hours of sleep a day.  I’m good with 7-9, which means I have a whole lot of hours where I’m tethered to a sleeping puppy. Again,I’d rather keep typing then get up for some snack or to re-heat my tea for the nth time. No, I just keep typing.

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When I cook, I ‘anchor’ her clear of the stove for safety reasons, but she’s still where I can see her.

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I placed an old towel on the threshold to keep balls from rolling out of range, and she passed out mid play. I have plenty of ‘sleeping puppy’ pics, but most awake ones come out as a blur, like the tail in the previous photo.

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So here you have my new writing companion, Emma. We’re still trying to figure out what mix she might be and how big she’ll get, but for the moment she’s sporting a hand-me-down cat harness, which is getting tighter by the day. Interesting behaviors I’ve noted so far: she doesn’t chase thrown balls, but can spend hours ‘nosing’ them around the room. She doesn’t bolt after the cats, but sits as they approach, then goes lays in a non-threatening ‘down’ position. Same for outside, when she sees squirrels or birds. I’m thinking there may be some herding dog instincts at play here. So what are your guesses, everyone? What variety of Heinz 57 does this look like to you?

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