Grounded by Grendel, My Dog
According to Wikipedia, when I’m not in the flow I am depressed. To be caught in the ennui of depression or the agitation of anxiety is to be barred from flow.
Here’s me when I’m not writing: Carol drops by with a pan of brownies. She looks like a teenager in that halter top. She says, “I brought these for your husband to thank him for helping me fix that broken window.” I say thank you, but inside I’m thinking I really wish she’d wear more clothes. I wonder what she was wearing when Larry was at her house, for how long was that? I can’t compare myself to her—I had six kids and she has a cat. Maybe my abs would look like that if I had countless hours to spend at the gym. Does she work out at the same gym as Larry? Why does she call him all the time? He doesn’t even like brownies. But I love them. I bet she knows that. She knows that I’m going to eat this entire pan of brownies because now I’m so depressed and one or two or five brownies isn’t going to matter because I’m going to be divorced, single and fat. I better call Larry, although I just talked to him, and he’ll be home for lunch in twenty minutes. I need to hear his voice.
Here’s me when I’m writing: the doorbell rings but I don’t hear it because I’m deep into my story. Somehow Mercy has to stop Eloise from going on a drive with horrid Mr. Steele. What can she do—should she confide in Eloise? In the real world, my dog is pawing at me. No. Eloise is a blabber mouth. She can’t be trusted. My dog knows someone has come to the door and she pulls at my sock with her teeth. I shake her off, but she’s so annoying that I have to investigate. Someone has left brownies on my front porch with a thank you note. It’s from Carol, that darling girl from across the street. I consider the brownies and inspiration hits—Mercy will bake Eloise a pie laced with a draught that will make her sleep through her rendezvous with Steele. I put the brownies on the counter and save them for when Larry comes home for lunch. I hurry back to Mercy, Eloise and Mr. Steele, wondering how to make a sleeping draught.
(FYI- Neighbor Carol is fictional, used to make a point about my own lunacy and not a commentary on my highly respectable, modestly clothed and admirable neighbors or my good husband who always lets me eat more than my fair share of brownies.)
Being a writer isn’t an excuse for poor citizenship. Just because you’re thinking about your book and not about the road doesn’t mean you get to run red lights. Once while writing at the Mission Viejo library, I turned off my laptop, stood up, only to suddenly realize that a person on the other side of the glass partition, not more than eight feet away, must have had some sort of collapse. The room was filled with paramedics, a gurney, and a crowd of about forty people. As I left the library, I passed an ambulance pulled up to the curb, lights flashing. I don’t know how I missed all of this, but I’ve since taken it as a life lesson. I never want to be so caught up in my own private world that I can’t recognize and help someone in need.
This is why I need a dog. Sometimes I need someone, preferably someone furry, someone willing to tug on my socks with their teeth, to drag me out of the flow. And Grendel needs me to feed her, clean up after her, and take her for walks. I also need her for other things, like chasing the bunnies out of my yard and letting me know when the Girl Scouts are at my door to sell cookies.
Is it possible to become so immersed in the flow that I can’t get out? Sure. We all know the very real, gritty stories of writers who lost their minds. It’s happened to the best of us. A flow so strong can carry us away and before we know it, we’re drowning. Hemmingway had cats, but cats won’t tug on your socks with their teeth. They just won’t.
That’s why every writer needs a dog.
December 2, 2013
Young Adult, time-travel romance
When Petra Baron goes into the fortuneteller’s tent at a Renaissance fair, she expects to leave with a date to prom. Instead, she walks out into Elizabethan England, where she meets gypsies, a demon dog and a kindred spirit in Emory Ravenswood.
Emory must thwart the plans of religious zealots. His mission is dangerous, his enemies are fanatical, and Petra Baron is a complication that Heaven only knows he does not need. Or does he? Although Emory is on Heaven’s errand, he learned long ago that Heaven does not always play fair.
As Petra slowly falls for Emory, she wonders if he really is who he seems, or if he is just as lost as she is. How can they have a future while trapped in the past? Or is anything possible Beyond the Fortuneteller’s Tent?
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“There are journeys some must undertake on their own,” Fester the fortuneteller said, staring up at Petra.He had riotous curls the same color as his silver hooped earrings. Lined and crisscrossed, his skin looked like aged leather. Struck by his dark eyes, Petra stepped closer. The iris, so dark, swallowed the pupil and appeared bottomless. Endless.The laughter stopped. “You paid the price, did you not?”“Well, yes, but...” Petra reached behind her for the curtain. Her hand bumped against the beads which rattled but suddenly hushed as the man spoke.“Then you must listen.” Fester drew the fool card from the deck with a knobby finger, laid it on the rug and tapped it with a pointy fingernail. “Carrying all his possessions wrapped in a scarf, the Fool travels to destinations unknown. So filled with visions and daydreams he cannot see the dangers lying in wait. In his path, a small dog harries him, sending a warning.”Fester lifted his finger at Petra. The nail seemed almost as long as the finger, curling under as if it bent beneath its own weight. The finger and nail were both gray, the color of dead flesh. “You, my dear, are the fool. I am your warning.”Fester, who had been sitting in the corner, somehow suddenly flashed to Petra’s side. She flinched from the strong, garlicky smell and the warmth of his body. Petra held her breath and took a step closer to the curtains that led outside.He followed. “If you think your life is here and now, you are mistaken. Indeed, there is no time or space. Harbingers of ill will do not always mean you harm.” Fester laid his fingers on Petra’s arm and sent a jolt of electricity that lifted her off her feet.Petra watched the crystal ball sail through the air and the strings of hanging beads swayed, sounding like a rush of wind chimes. Potion jars spun in the air, tarot cards floated around her like large, one-dimensional snowflakes. The ball connected with a flying jar and shattered into thousands of pieces, crystal and potion glinting midair as the poles supporting the draped damask groaned and teetered.
Kristy Tate writes Women Fiction with a dash romance, mystery and humor. Her debut novel, Stealing Mercy, was on Amazon's top 100 list of historical romance for more than fifteen weeks and spent two weeks as number one. Her participation in the Christmas on Main Street Anthology, an Amazon #1 bestseller, inspirational romance, made her an Amazon top 100 author for more than a month. Her novel, The Rhyme's Library, was a 2013 Kindle Review semi-finalist.
Kristy studied English literature at Brigham Young University and at BYU's International Center in London. Although a long time resident of Orange County California where she lives with her family, Kristy's heart belongs in her hometown of Arlington, Washington, AKA Rose Arbor--the fictional setting of her popular Rose Arbor series.
For updates on Kristy's upcoming novels, please visit her blog at kristystories.blogspot.com