Monday, November 19, 2012


If you know me at all you also know that I don’t write stories with a happy ending. I leave that for the cheesy Hollywood films. For this Conundrum Corner, however, I figured that there always is an exception to the rule. So here’s a story with a tail-wagging happy ending.

Last Sunday on 11/11/12, we lost our dog, Poe. Well, “lost” is a little misleading. He ran away while my husband was trimming the trees in our back yard and left the gate open. But I can’t blame Poe’s disappearance on him. There were events leading up to it. And as usual, events that influence fate come in threes, so here we go:

1. My daughter wanted to take Poe for a walk; she put on his leash, but she clipped it to the ring on which his tag with his name and our phone number is. As Poe rushed toward the front door, the ring snapped and he instantly became tagless.

2. That Sunday I was talking to my mom over Skype. When my husband came in to the room to announce that Poe had run away, my mother said, “Finally; what do you need such an ugly dog for, anyway?”

3. My husband didn’t come in and say that the dog was gone until half an hour after Poe had decided that the grass must be much greener on the other side (to use a clichĂ© against which my creative writing self always battles).

Ever since we adopted Poe (which was last year), we knew that there was something odd about him. He has a great, goofy personality, but is not very dog-like. At times we think he thinks he’s human because he tries to sit at the table with us and eat. At times we think he thinks he’s a cat because he stretches like one and purrs! At times we think he thinks he’s a bat because he bumps into things, which would suggest that he is blind, and spreads his large ears as if trying to take flight. Anyway, he doesn’t do the most dog-like thing every dog does. He doesn’t mark his territory. When we take him for walks he refuses to pee (but he gladly waters our back yard with his urine and, at times, when he thinks he’s a maid he eats his own poop. So try not to kiss my dog when and if you see him). I believe that it was because of the lack of his pee-signs that he couldn’t find his way home.

Operation: Rescue Poe began. We had been looking for him for days. We put up flyers; KMIR6 aired him at 6 am every morning,

we asked neighbors, random people, peeked into back yards, knocked on homes where we heard a bark similar to that of Poe’s; he went viral on Facebook thanks to our family and friends.
And finally on Thursday night my daughter saw a flyer:
So we called. Answering machine. Left a message. Called again. And again. And again. And again. How could it be that no one was answering? I used my self-taught detective skills, Googled the phone number, property, people’s name, and set out on a journey. But by then it was so dark, our black dog would have been but a shadow if he had been there. As soon as we got home, the phone rang. Our throats tightened, stomachs filled with butterflies, fingers jittered with excitement...all this build-up was shattered when the caller said that she’d indeed had Poe, but that he ran away while she let him out to go potty. Back to square one.
On Saturday a gut feeling lead us to a gated community near our neighborhood. We followed a car in and questioned the first people we saw. VoilĂ ! Their daughter’s friend had taken Poe to her grandmother’s in Palm Desert because she’d seen a man throw him out of his car. Someone had thrown my doggy out of his car? “Who was that?” I asked. It was someone from the RV community across the street from our neighborhood. Why, that was interesting. I clearly remember my husband taking a flyer there and asking what the procedure was since the RV community is a NO PET ZONE. “We immediately call the animal control,” said the security guard. That was good because Poe has an AVID chip, which would send a signal to the Recovery Center as soon as the Animal Control scanned him. (NOTE: Unfortunately, there was another hick-up. Did you know that when you adopt an animal that has a microchip, and you fill out stacks of papers and registrations and pay fees and describe in detail what should be done and who should be contacted in case the animal went missing, that your chip is not registered? Apparently, it is a DIY project. I found out the hard way. People, please check if you pet’s microchip had been registered!) But no, the RV community did not follow their “set in stone” procedure. Instead, someone grabbed Poe and threw him back out on the street. It must have been a stray dog, right? What, with the collar and a hair-cut, trimmed nails, and shiny conditioner on his coat. Oh, yeah, let’s take the easy way out...out of the RV community! Jerks!
Okay, so the above mentioned daughter calls her friend. Answering machine. Seriously? Does anyone answer the phone these days? Leaves a message. “Hey XYZ, there’s the dog’s owners at my house, and they like are looking for the dog, and like they say that he’s sick and he needs his medicine, can you call me back. Ok, later. Bye.” Yeah, I went there. I wanted my dog back right away. Who knows? Maybe this XYZ girl fell in love with him and wouldn’t want to give him back. Nobody wants a sick dog, right?
So we waited, again, for a phone call. All day, all night, and then again all day. Did I mention that waiting sucks? Especially if you are me—a person with no patience. Finally, Sunday noon XYZ calls and says she had my dog but that she is in LA and has a person going to her house to feed him and check up on him. “Can that person meet me, then? My dog has a serious infection and if he doesn’t get his medicine, it will spread, and he will die!” Yeah, I went there again. Who knows when she would be coming home? “I should be back around three,” XYZ said. “I’ll call you when I get home and you can come get him.” I relaxed but just a little. And then we waited. Again. I know I already mentioned that waiting sucks. But just to emphasize: WAITING SUCKS!
A little after three pm, XYZ’s grandma called (a very sweet lady), gave me her address, and Operation: Rescue Poe was wrapping up. But before my family put on their happy faces, I reminded them of our almost-happy-ending on Thursday. What if Poe ran away again before we got to him? So we drove in silence, serious faced, all the way to the Silver Racquet Club in Palm Desert where Poe was waiting with the sweet lady and her dog (who ended up biting my husband’s finger probably as a payback for Poe—the strange un-dog—pestering him).
Poe is now home and acts as if nothing happened, as if his adventure and our broken hearts, 7 day depression, and constant vigilance were just a dream. He’d already chewed up my husband’s shoe, spread trash all over the back yard, and stole my kids’ candy...which means that everything is back to normal.

Thank you to everyone who kept an eye out, spread the word, posted on Facebook, and helped even with as little as a positive thought! Happy Thanksgiving! Ours definitely will be!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

How It All Started...

It has finally happened. After many years of writing, stalking agents, publishers, editors, creative writing professors, submitting to magazines, journals, anthologies, e-zines, etc. someone must have either gotten tired of me or realized that hey, this chick is for real and she is here to stay. That someone is the acquisition editor of Black Opal Books. She offered me a publishing contract; I accepted, signed, and the rest, as they say, will have become history.

I am honored, proud, and excited to share this wonderful news. Black Opal Books has acquired the rights to Heart-Break Hotel and will be releasing it under its label. When I read the acquisition editor’s email that stated, “I’m delighted with it (Heart-Break Hotel manuscript). I think it would make an excellent addition to our Chick Lit line and would like to offer you a contract to publish it,” I screamed with excitement, and I think I may have even peed my undies a little. Anyway, you will probably be seeing my debut novel out next year, with a different cover and perhaps even a different name. I will also be creating a website where you will be able to find my Conundrum Corner blog, bio, stories, poems, and maybe I'll throw in some of my delicious recipes. My wonderful friend, Paula Stinson, will be taking pictures of me—and I tell ya, she’s a fabulous photographer, so I know I won’t frighten anyone with my mug—which I have to submit, with my bio, to the Black Opal Books’ website, so please take a look. I’ll let you know when it is up.

I will be pulling the original version of Heart-Break Hotel off the market in the next few days, but my collection of poetry and prose called a-Muse-me[a]nt is available. In it you can find the short story (among many others) on which my novel is based. Happy reading everyone!

Oh, and a big YAY for OBAMA! What a charismatic Mr. President we have!