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Over the past few months my "eating out" money has shifted to "audio book money." Although I love reading a physical book, social distancing has given me a craving for human voices. It is also difficult to exercise or do activities while reading a traditional book, while you can put an audio book on your phone speaker and listen while doing something else or staring out at the sunrise and drinking coffee.
My newfound enjoyment of audio books started me thinking about my own books and how I "hear" my characters. My first book in The Supernatural Pet Sitter series was read by a fabulous narrator (check out the audio book version here) but hiring a narrator can be cost-prohibitive.
As you all know, I love a new challenge. After thinking about it for a few weeks, I bought audio book versions of several "how-to" books on narration. After several microphones and various equipment failures, I went with a simple microphone plugged into my iPhone and I began practicing. Hearing your own voice is odd!
I chose A Hand of Magic as my first book. The hardest thing was trying to not laugh during the sex scenes! I had a surprising amount of fun bringing a voice to Madison and the book almost created itself. The first audio book has now been published, and the second book in the series is in the quality check phase for release in October. I would love to narrate Dog Gone, but the book is so serious the thought of it is daunting. Stay tuned to see if I tackle that one.
If you have never read an audio book I encourage you to find one on Amazon or Audible. Pick any category: art, music, history or a romance novel. I've had fun lately with ghost stories but have stayed away from political books. If you haven't read A Hand of Magic, or just want to hear it brought to life in a different way, check out the audio book here.
I appreciate all the great feedback I have received around my new adoptee, Blanche. You will be glad to know she is doing fabulously and has even begun to gain a little weight. We both enjoy our morning trips to Dunkin Donuts where the drive through staff know her by name. Everyone stay well!
Lately, there has been an explosion of Chihuahua hoarding rescues in the news, and almost every shelter has at least one of the little characters waiting to be adopted. The reasons for this are complicated and something for another day's discussion. Last week I received a plea from one of my favorite rescues, saying that there was a senior Chihuahua, half blind and sickly, far south in a rural Alabama shelter. The shelter could not care for her and was desperately looking for someone to pull her into a home.
A few months ago my pack been reduced to four when my oldest girl, Annabelle, died. I had known then I would get another rescue, I was just waiting for the right one. I immediately recognized this nameless girl was who I had been waiting for. I drove five hours to pick her up, then loaded the front seat with a terrified, scrawny, half blind senior Chihuahua.
Over the next few days I was filled with righteous indignation. Who would dump this sweet girl at a shelter, and why hadn’t they taken better care of her before then? I created a fictitious enemy in my mind and cursed him/her for their lack of caring. The old girl's new name became Blanche, and she needed antibiotic’s for her teeth, flea treatment, a good nail trim, small bits of food every few hours, and a lot of love.
Once Blanche started to feel better, I realized several things. She was not afraid of anyone, and was not your normal shaky Chihuahua. She rode great in the car, and could sniff out a french fry from anywhere in the front seat of the car. She tracked me around the house better than submarine radar and not once had (or has had) an accident in the house.
Someone had loved this old girl, likely for many years. My anger faded as I thought about what it would have taken for someone to leave her at the shelter. Likely they truly thought it was better for her, with whatever circumstances they were going through. Maybe they had lost their job, or become ill. Maybe they didn’t have a lot of family or support to help them care for the animals in their home. The fleas, weight loss and bad nails had happened over time. Had circumstances gradually declined in the house? Maybe it was for precisely those reasons that Blanche was given up, in the hope of her receiving better care.
Then I thought about myself in the future. There will come a day when I can no longer rescue dogs. When the volume of dogs I have or had would have to slowly decrease. Who knows what the future brings for any of us? I will try to have grace, and wish I could tell Blanche's previous family that she is loved and will be safe for the rest of her days. I learn something from every dog I rescue, and maybe the lack of judgment is what Blanche was sent for me to learn. Whatever the reason, I am grateful to now have her as part of my pack. And remember, adopt, don't shop!
With everything happening in the world, I have had trouble focusing on my writing. I'm hopefully back on track (with support from Jack) and have returned to Hand of Magic, #5 - War. Here is a peek at the prologue - let me know what you think!
Long ago, Mount Olympus bustled with activity. A new type of life could be created one moment, then fickly destroyed seconds later. Gods and Goddesses argued, fought, loved, and partied, with little noticeable difference between those activities.
Now, this world sat mostly silent. Golden trees which once danced to their own music, now rarely rustled their blackened branches in response to the random memory of a breeze. Multi-colored butterflies slept in closed-off caves, while the endless skies remained empty except for an occasional flap of pointed wings. Once fast-flowing rivers of blood and fire now meandered along as mud mixed with a rust-colored liquid.
Charon, the ferryman for the dead transported to Hades, leaned against his pole, allowing the river Styx to rock his boat just enough to lull him to sleep. He dozed for what seemed to be centuries before he was woken by a rumble. He winced at the strength of the reverberation. Nowadays, deities forgot to adjust their voices to bearable levels when they spoke. Typical thoughtlessness.
The conversation was between two Beings. The rumbling voice started the discussion, but it was the lighter, softer voice which fully woke the ferryman. This particular Goddess had stopped speaking long before Mount Olympus went quiet.
“Why are you awake?”
The pause could have been a moment or ten years. Sweet bells in between the words of the response made Charon wince. He knew the music to be, in truth, a double edged sword.
“I have been called.”
“So? You never answer.”
“This time might be different. I am curious.”
The thundering tone could never be kind, but Charon knew both the Being’s history, and that the speaker meant well with his next words.
“Go back to sleep. They will only break your heart.”
The bells did not answer. The rumble could have included a sigh as it spoke again.
“Fine. You know where I am when you need me.”
A light, the opposite shape of a running shadow, shot past the ferryman and away from Mount Olympus. The skeleton in a cloak used his pole to maneuver his boat to the cave entrance where the dead once regularly appeared. He watched the opening, confident it would now not be long before he had business.
Jack thinks being prepared means gathering all his toys in one spot, and he's not wrong. Somehow “prepping” has gotten a bad rap, but when did it become gauche to be prepared? Nowadays we don’t know how to change a tire or live without YouTube or Facebook. Once upon a time, I could barely balance my own checkbook, let alone plan for a week without electricity. If I thought about it at all, I figured someone else would take care of me. My husband, my neighbor, the government.
I have a theory. I believe we are all more anxious than we were a generation ago. This could be because the horrors of the world are a second away from our fingertips. It could also be because we don’t plan ahead. Sure, we plan for the weekend, our next vacation, even (hopefully) retirement. But what do you think the chances are you might need to go a few days or a week without power?
Forget about the political anger across the country or the novel Coronavirus. We are one ice storm or an oil-tanker crash away from not having electricity or gas. Even if it was only for a week, would you be prepared?
Here’s what I want for you all: If something unusual happens, I want you to be able to pass the gas lines and the mobs at the grocery store. I don’t want you to put yourself in danger or panic because you can’t remember if you have batteries for your flashlights. You don’t have to go crazy, just spend a few hours so you and your family don’t have to worry so much.
There are tons of lists out there (the ones from the Red Cross are great) but I am going to give you a list of what I started with and have built on over the past few years. The basics should run you about $200, plus whatever cash you decide to keep on hand. Please, please, don’t think of this as prepping, just think of it as common sense - like filling up your gas tank before a storm. Before you do anything, you have to change your mindset and think of this as basics we should all have. Here we go:
Water - everything begins and ends with water. Drinking, cooking and toiletry, you will go through it faster than you think. Start with 10-15 big jugs.
LED camping lanterns. Forget about flashlights - you have to hold them, and they aren’t as versatile.
Emergency radio - Get one that can run off electricity, batteries, and/or solar or a hand crank.
Battery operated chargers - Make sure they can charge your type of phone or laptop.
Batteries for the above. Pay attention to this one. Find the biggest packs of batteries you can, then triple them. Batteries get used up quickly.
Gatorade/juices - Don’t buy anything that needs refrigeration.
Food - Granola bars, jerky, plastic fruit cups, peanut butter crackers. Double wrap them all in Ziploc baggies.
Pet food and medications - Put aside two weeks of both.
A first-aid kit with hand wipes.
Diaper bag with diapers, wipes, formula and/or baby food (if appropriate).
Candles/matches - Don’t go for anything fancy. Get the long-life plain candles.
Keep a duffel bag or backpack in the trunk of your car with a mini-version of the above list along with car emergency items (tire inflator, battery charger) and you are also set for traveling.
That’s it for your first level - you are now a prepper! Once you have those, here is the next level of security and comfort:
Water purifiers - These come in many options. I like LifeStraws; they filter the water as you drink it. There are also water purifying tablets.
Heat blankets - these are the ones which look like shiny silver foil. They are great supplements to the blankets around your house.
Battery operated DVD player (and batteries) plus a few movies. Also get 1-2 games, a deck of cards, and a few books.
Clorox/Lysol wipes (the big jugs).
One box each of medical grade gloves and N-95 masks. You don’t need Coronavirus to want to filter out pollutants or smoke.
A camping stove - gas or wood burning.
Rice/grain (large bins) and soup (get the kind that doesn’t need water or a can opener).
Swiss army knife (funny as it sounds, these things are amazing!).
Disposable silverware, plates, cups, bowls.
Toiletry kit (toothpaste, mouthwash etc.).
If you are a gun person, make sure you have enough ammunition.
Feel free to supplement from other lists and your specific needs. I hope this helps one person to be ready for the next ice storm or mini-apocalypse. And if you find something missing on my list, please add it to the comments.
Join me in continuing the steamy adventure with Madison and Alex. This time they battle ghosts and a traitor within their Pack. Check out #4 in the series at https://www.amazon.com/Hand-Magic-Ghosts-Diane-Moat-ebook/dp/B0845YPMDD/ref=sr_1_5?keywords=Hand+of+magic+diane+moat&qid=1579882427&s=books&sr=1-5
Who am I, and what makes my blog different? I believe that animal rescue, as hard as it is, can also be uplifting. Every tale I have ever written has animals as central characters. My goal is to provide practical, positive information for animal lovers, interspersed with helpful tips for writers (and writers-to-be). I will also share updates on upcoming books and my canine family. We all have stories to tell - let's get started!