The Dog Days: The Back To School Blues

Annie McNease

It’s still hot outside, giving the illusion of summer days, but summer has come and gone and school has begun. My wonderful husband, Kyle, teaches at Florida State University which means he, too, must return to school. As with any first day of school, we tried to make sure he got started out right. We ate a hearty meal of grilled chicken and angel hair pasta with spaghetti sauce and went to bed at a reasonable hour. We did all of these things with good intentions…


“Amount of time it takes for a dog to ‘do its business’ is directly proportional to outside temperature + suitability of owner’s outerwear.” – Betsy Cañas Garmon

Last night, we took Annie out for an evening walk. There were children playing in the large, open field that sits in the center of our complex. Many of them wanted to see Annie and pet her. She was a good dog to them and for that we were thankful. She has always been good with kids, so we didn’t worry. Kyle took her out first while I gathered our keys and the batteries we needed to return to the grocery store. I locked the door and made my way over to where Annie was sniffing around, attempting to “do her business”. Unaware that the new neighbor (who never puts his small-ish black schnauzer-mix dog on a leash) and his dog were behind me, I saw all of the children and warned Kyle to hold Annie tight. At my advice, he wrapped our broken, used-to-be retractable leash around the plastic handle until it was taught enough to pull on Annie’s prong collar a bit.

“Did you say that because of the other dog?” Kyle asked as I finally reached him standing in the field.

“What?” I inquired, confused.

At that, I turned around to see a hyper black dog running at full speed towards us and his owner (the new neighbor) running awkwardly behind holding a Frisbee. Oh no! I thought to myself. Given the current state of Annie’s leash, I panicked. She began to bark excitedly as the neighbor approached her (still running, I might add) without saying a word to either of us.

“Hi Annie!” said the neighbor in a high-pitched tone. “I remember you! You remember me, don’t you?”

He squatted down to her level and put his hands out to pet her. That’s when I noticed her collar. It was broken and only hanging on because it had gotten tangled in the not-so-retractable leash string.

“Kyle,” I said nervously, “her collar.”

He looked and saw the problem and tried to pull Annie back. By this point, the neighbor (whose name I have yet to find out) had gotten her extremely excited. She started jumping and barking a shrill, desperate bark. She wanted to go play with the man and his unleashed dog who were running around throwing and catching the red Frisbee. The children only made matters worse because they immediately swarmed around the new dog on the block, ignoring Annie completely. Annie doesn’t take being ignored very well. Her crazed, desperate barking continued and I overheard one of the children remark, “That dog barks a lot,” to which another responded, “Yeah, that dog is bad.” Infuriated, both Kyle and I tried to contain Annie to no avail. She wouldn’t hold still long enough for Kyle to fix her collar and return it to her neck. After about 5 minutes of struggling with her in the field and becoming a spectacle for the children who had gathered to point and laugh, we dragged our loud-mouthed puppy back to the apartment.

“Rambunctious, rumbustious, delinquent dogs become angelic when sitting.” – Dr. Ian Dunbar

It was embarrassing, needless to say, and she still had not “done her business” yet. After fixing the prong collar, we put her pathetic excuse for a leash back on and took her out once more. I wanted to show the kids that she wasn’t a “bad dog” so I walked her to the field and made her sit several times. Things seemed to be going well until the unleashed pooch approached us. Trying to avoid another mess, I turned her away and quickly walked her out to the grassy knoll that is designated as a “dog area”. She managed to finally “do her business” properly and we promptly left to go to the grocery store.

Hours later, after dinner was cooked and enjoyed, and we had been asleep for some time, I was awakened by a terrible sound. It was something you would expect to hear on a horror movie when a ghost or evil spirit is doing whatever ghosts and evil spirits do. It sounded horrible and I turned to find out the source of the devilish sound. What I saw was Annie, heaving like she was possessed (further confirming that the sound was straight out of a horror film). Kyle had fallen asleep on the couch trying to prepare his lesson plans and was at the door to the room in a split second.

“Baby?” he asked, sounding terrified. “Is that you?”

“What?” I said, still half asleep. Once I figured out what he was saying and had awakened enough to process what was happening around me I said, “Oh, no. It’s Annie.”

I rolled out of the bed as she began to vomit all over the floor in front of me. Kyle grabbed her heaving body and quickly guided her to the bathroom where she proceeded to vomit again. I held her as she continued to dry heave and Kyle went to wipe up the disgusting mess. Once her heaving had subsided, she wagged her tail and begged for food. Kyle and I, on the other hand, were trying to investigate the cause of this sudden upheaval (pun intended). We inspected the vomit that Kyle had cleaned up and found hard pieces of something we couldn’t quite figure out. Then we saw a brown looking piece that, upon closer inspection, was determined to be an almond.

Nuts! I thought. It was an almond, which she must have found on the floor after one of us had eaten a handful of them. Fabulous! It was 3:00am and both of us needed to get some rest. After the evening we had with Annie and the embarrassment, this was simply the icing on the cake.

Annie seemed to be unaffected by the event and curled back up on her bed and fell fast asleep. Once we had managed to clean everything up and calm down, we, too, attempted to rest our wearied eyes.

Annie Sleeping


News and Other Noteworthy Information:

I’ve submitted what I hope to be the last revision to CreateSpace for The Last Navigator and will be ordering another proof as soon as possible. As soon as it is just right, I will get it out there so everyone can buy a physical copy. Yay! Get excited!

Also, The Woman in the Zebra Hat is now available on Kobo and has shipped to Barnes and Noble and Apple. Once it is available in other stores, I will post links. The Last Navigator is being released for purchase in multiple formats on September 2nd, 2013 (Labor Day) so don’t miss out on that. You can pre-order your copy now and it will automatically download on Labor Day.

I have joined the Independent Author Network and my profile is now live so you can go take a peek. It has links to all of my social networking profiles, my website, and links to purchase/download my books. Below is the link to my IAN profile:

http://www.independentauthornetwork.com/j-g-mcnease.html

I hope everyone has a fabulous week!

Until next time…

J. G. McNease

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Interview on “Meet The Author”

I had the pleasure of being interviewed for the “Meet The Author” blog by K.M. Francoeur. The interview is posted on the blog but I wanted to give you a preview here. Below are the first few questions of the interview. If you would like to read more, click HERE.


J. G. McNease Interview Preview from “Meet The Author”

J. G. McNease

Question:  How long have you been writing?

I’ve been writing since I was just a little girl, but started writing novel-length fiction about a year ago.

Question:  What was the name of the first book you ever published, and when was it published?

The name of my first book is “The Last Navigator”. I published it in May of 2013.

Question:  Was this book published by a publisher; or did you self-publish?

I chose to go the self-publishing route with “The Last Navigator” using Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) program.

Question:  Tell our readers about this very first book.  (For example:  What was the inspiration for writing it, and what was it about)?

My inspiration to write “The Last Navigator” came from experiences I had while participating in a graduate school course in Hawai’i several years ago. While visiting the School of Social Work at the University of Hawai’i at Manoa, we learned of the Navigators, and of Nainoa Thompson, one of the few remaining true navigators. The Navigators are a group of people who use natural elements, such as the stars, the planets, the movement of the waves and clouds, to find their way in the ocean. The title, “The Last Navigator”, was inspired by the Polynesian Navigators and, although it is not about them, the Navigators in my book do use the stars to find their way. I pulled from elements of the Polynesian Navigator traditions to write “The Last Navigator” and develop my characters. The storyline and many of the characters were also shaped by my background as a social worker and my desire to learn about and understand the human condition.

In writing “The Last Navigator”, I wanted to create a story that pulled from my experiences in Hawai’i as well as from current societal and personal life themes. Themes such as the empowerment of women and the hardships of single parent households are evident in the book. The main character in “The Last Navigator”, Lani, is a young female whale who dreams of being more than average. She wants to make a difference—and she does. In developing her character, I wanted to empower young women to follow their dreams and not simply conform to the norms of this world. Lani is shaped by her life experiences and her relationships with other characters, such as, Mother, and Kilo, and even the zany character of Manny, the sea turtle. She learns through trials and overcoming obstacles that she can indeed reach for the stars and achieve great things. My hope is that in reading “The Last Navigator”, some part of Lani’s character will resonate with each reader. Whether that resonance is found in her search for life’s meaning, or her desire to go against the grain, I hope she will touch the hearts of readers young and old.

News and Other Nuggets of Knowledge

“We have to continually be jumping off cliffs and developing our wings on the way down.” ― Kurt Vonnegut

My first short story, The Woman in the Zebra Hat, is now available to download on Smashwords.com. This was my first experience publishing through Smashwords and I have to say that I’m thoroughly satisfied. Their process is quick and easy if you follow their Style Guide. It took the guess work out of the publishing process and I got multiple formats for free. If you would like to check it out, just click on the book cover below to be directed to the Smashwords website. The story is free to download and it includes a preview of The Last Navigator at the end. It’s the perfect lunchtime read!

The Woman in the Zebra Hat: A Short Story

In other news, I’ve submitted the final version of The Last Navigator to Amazon’s CreateSpace for a proof to be printed. The proof has shipped and I’m waiting (im)patiently to get it in the mail. I can’t wait to hold the physical copy of my first book in my hands. What a thrill! Overall, my experience with CreateSpace has been satisfactory. The process is easy and, best of all, it’s free! The only thing you have to pay for is the proof and personal copies.

Sales of The Last Navigator for August have been pretty abysmal. I know that $2.99 is a stretch for someone to pay to get an ebook by an unknown author. In an attempt to make it a bit easier on the wallet, I’ve decreased the price of The Last Navigator to $0.99 in hopes that my sales will increase and more readers can experience a great story. If you want to download The Last Navigator at this discounted price, click HERE.

On Labor Day (September 2, 2013) I will be releasing The Last Navigator on Smashwords in multiple ebook formats. It’s a Labor Day special and you can pre-order your copy today!

Do you prefer to read your ebooks via your iPad or iPhone on the iBooks app? Or would you rather download a PDF version and read it on your computer? Do you have a Sony Reader or a Palm reading device?

The Last Navigator is available for pre-order in the following formats:

  • EPUB (for reading in Apple iPad/iBooks, Nook, Sony Reader, Kobo, and most e-reading apps including Stanza, Aldiko, Adobe Digital Editions, others)
  • Kindle (.MOBI file for Kindle devices and Kindle apps)
  • PDF (for reading on a PC and other e-reading devices or printing)
  • LRF (for older model Sony Readers that don’t support .epub)
  • Palm Doc (PDB) (for Palm reading devices)

Want to pre-order your copy? Click HERE.

One more topic I would like to address is the topic of reviews. I received a great review from Sherrey Meyer (Found Between the Covers) recently but haven’t seen any increase in reviews on Amazon. I hope that those of you who have read The Last Navigator and have liked it will think about writing a review on Amazon. It only takes a couple of seconds to write a quick review and I would truly appreciate it!

I hope to write up a post on my publishing experiences with CreateSpace and Smashwords soon so be on the lookout for that. School is back in full swing and I’m excited about things to come this fall!

Until next time…

J. G. McNease

The Dog Days: Eclipsing Heat

“The kind of heat that August brings eclipses hot in an odd way; the atmosphere radiates with such intensity that you know fall is on its way.”

This week’s episode of The Dog Days is going to be shift from the norm. My wonderful husband, Kyle, has written a guest post about summer heat, vacation, and thoughts on life and death. It’s a refreshing break from the stories about dogs and it gives us a little more to ponder as summer comes to a close.


If you have been following this blog lately, then you already know that Jamie has been writing about the dog days of summer.  Since she has been so courteous as to extend an invitation for me to write something this week, I will keep to that theme—though I will approach it a bit differently.  Bear with me.

In our master’s program, Jamie and I had a professor who taught us the power, process, and dynamics of group therapy.  In our process recordings we were forced to reflect on as many of the exchanges we could remember from each group session.  Our professor asked us if we noticed a trend.  No one spoke up with an answer and, as she was a pretty thorough Freudian, she informed us that the topic that kept coming up was death.  Like a gyre, the conversation spiraled from humdrum talk of classes and grades to the profundities of life.  You could set your watch by it; every session, the group would end up ending up with talk of the end.  What does that have to do with the dog days of summer though?

In the deep south, the August heat chases dogs to the coolness of shades, preferably ones under the porch or, better yet, IN the house.  The kind of heat that August brings eclipses hot in an odd way; the atmosphere radiates with such intensity that you know fall is on its way.  The burning gusts of August will eventually give way to a milder fall—continuing a cycle that began before us and will continue long after us.

The dog days of summer are my favorite days of the year, weather wise.  The heat signals something in my unconscious and creates a longing to return to places of my youth—places where happy memories and moments were shared with my family.  Just about every year of my life, we loaded up in a vehicle and traveled to the same vacation spot.  I am sitting there now, which, of course, makes it here-now.  I am here now, again.  This here is the last place I ever saw my grandfather draw a breath.  I am sitting a few feet away from the same spot that I perched upon so many years ago, as I strained to catch a few glimpses of my papa.  Continue reading

Found Between the Covers Review of The Last Navigator

My debut novel, The Last Navigator, has received a wonderful review by Sherrey from Found Between the Covers. Thanks, Sherrey!

http://foundbetweenthecovers.wordpress.com/2013/08/15/the-last-navigator-by-j-g-mcnease/

 

The Last Navigator [Kindle Edition]

Found Between the Covers

TheLastNavigatorCover
THE LAST NAVIGATOR
by J.G. McNease
Published: May 28, 2013
Publisher: Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing
Genre: Middle Grade Fiction
Source: Author

Synopsis: The ancient history of whales is rich with ancestral tales of superior wisdom, prehistoric tradition, and unending love. Through haunting songs and fluid dances, stories were told of the valor of warriors, the triumph of great chiefs, and the celestial songs of a mythical tribe of whales—the Navigators.

As a young female whale just coming of age, Lani finds herself daydreaming: not about the local boys, like her best friend, Prissy, but about the myth of the Navigators. When a new comer arrives at the islands and rumors spread about his connection with the Navigators, her imagination ran wild with possibilities. Against the will of her elders, Lani seeks out this new comer in an attempt to satisfy her inquisitive mind. What she finds is more than…

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