Monday, September 26, 2016

Banned Book Week Sept 25--Oct. 1


It’s Banned Book Week - September 25th through Oct 1st!
by Amber Polo

Why should you as an author care? Your books probably will never be banned. Right?
The freedom to write and publish without censure is a gift to you from those who have worked hard to protect the rights of all writers. The authors of the Bill of Rights. The ACLU. And, yes, librarians. Those be-bunned creatures have protected your rights for decades. They didn’t have to love your work or even want to read it, but they understood that if censors were able to ban one book, all were in danger. They stood up in their libraries and in courtrooms.

As I wrote The Shapeshifters’ Library I reflected upon the freedom to read and the freedom to publish and what I, as a librarian, always took for granted. I incorporated the problems of libraries into a fantasy where noble dog-shifters protect knowledge from book-burning werewolves in a small Ohio town. I speculated on the many ways the werewolves among us have tried to curtail our knowledge. It became clear that banning and burning are pretty much the same thing. If a book is unavailable, it’s ideas are gone. If it never gets published, it’s unavailable.

Enter “Fifty Shades of Grey” into this year’s censorship discussions of what should be ripped from shelves and chained in the library’s basement. In a small library bookclub I facilitate, I asked a group of senior citizen-readers if they planned to read the book. We had a great discussion. One of the best comments was from a woman who said she would read it because she wanted to be able to discuss it with her grandchildren. 

Recently the San Francisco Public Library installed 18 privacy screens on computer terminals to shield from others what one person sees on the internet, be it porn or someone’s idea of porn.

Librarians don’t judge the reason you want to read. But they do have policies detailing their individual library book selection policy. Public money can’t be stretched to buy everything published. (Remember that when you expect a library to buy your book or accept a donated copy.) 

Celebrate Banned Book Week by reading a banned book. Check out The top ten most frequently challenged books of 2015 .
Scroll down for the list of challenged books for the years 2001 through 2013. I bet you find a couple of your favorites.

Then visit your local public library and see what’s changed. Support your local library. And love your librarian.

Full disclosure: I have an MLS and have selected books for a public library. And I’ve listened to the first third of “Fifty Shades of Grey” in audiobook.


More Thoughts -

Sometimes it's easy to imagine that the censorship of books like "Little Red Riding Hood" and "Leaves of Grass" are in the past. Notice the Idaho story of "Like Water for Chocolate"? These parents who described the book as filled with porn might be surprised at the books on their teenagers' cell phones.

Since I write about dog-shifter librarians who protect books fighting book burning werewolves I found it interesting that National Dog Week (Sept.19-25) precedes Banned Book Week. 
And you thought my stories are fantasy! :)  Amber Polo

  Image result for National dog week
And Read to Your Dog!So Celebrate!

Read a Banned Book!

Take a Treat to Your Librarian!

And Read to Your Dog! 

Monday, August 29, 2016

More Dog Book Reviews

Dog Crazy: A Novel of Love Lost and Found by Meg Donohue

(William Morrow, 2015)

Maggie Brennan is a gifted pet bereavement counselor for patients who’ve lost a a four-footed friend. She has a gift for guiding others through difficult situations.

Leaving a job and a relationship, Maggie moves from Philadelphia to San Francisco, but when her retriever mix dog Toby dies, she becomes unable to leave her home. Suffering from agoraphobia, fortunately Maggie’s living in the same building as her old friend Lourdes and Lourdes’s family, including two daughters and their poodle Giselle.

Maggie’s troubles threaten the success of her counseling practice but for a while she is able to hide her condition, see clients, and volunteer for SuperMutt Rescue, a dog rescue organization without leaving her home.

Everything changes when Maggie meets Anya, an eccentric young woman convinced her stolen dog Billy is alive. Anya’s family, including her elderly grandmother and intriguing brother Henry, want her to face the truth that Billy is dead. In order to aid Anya search the streets of San Francisco for the missing dog, Maggie is forced to leave her house with the support of Giselle, her friend’s poodle. But when she needs go out without Giselle to rescue another dog, Maggie must face her demons and bravely venture out alone.

Dog Crazy blends the mystery of a missing dog with the importance of baby steps and courage in overcoming a disability as Maggie finds herself entangled in a mystery that forces her to face her biggest fear. And open her heart to new love.

This sensitive women’s novel demonstrates how dogs help people and people help dogs, while incorporating a sweet love story into a feel good dog story.

Meg Donohue is the USA Today bestselling author of Dog Crazy, All the Summer Girls, and How to Eat a Cupcake. Born and raised in Philadelphia, she now lives in San Francisco with her husband, three young daughters, and a dog.

Killing Trail by Margaret Mizushina
(A Timber Creek K-9 Mystery) Crooked Lane, 2015
First, the title is a lot grittier than this fast paced dog-centered mystery, which combines K-9 work with elements of a small town cozy.
Sheriff Deputy Mattie Lu Cobb has a new partner.“[He] was a handsome guy: straight black hair, intense brown eyes, and white teeth that flashed when he grinned…the only one in the department who could outrun her in a cross-country foot race.” He is her German Shepherd K-9 police dog Robo.
Both new to their jobs and both highly driven to succeed, the Mattie-Robo team must figure out why a 16-year-old girl was killed. As it becomes clear the murder may be just the beginning, Mattie and Robo never loose focus.

The case rocks the small Timber Creek, Colorado community where Mattie was once known as a bad kid. Cole Walker, local veterinarian and single father assists, while Mattie and Robo track down the truth and uncover her hometown’s secrets, including those of Cole's daughter, who may know more than she's saying.

The appealing Robo knows what he’s doing, he just needs to train his new partner to trust him. Mizushima treats Robo as an important character, but never uses anthropomorphism to enhance his personality. Mattie honors the human-dog bond with respect. Filled with realistic veterinary procedure and police K-9 team work. Killing Trail features quirky local characters like Mattie’s co-workers at the sheriff's department, all who certainly will turn up in subsequent books.

A suspenseful, well-crafted mystery featuring a caring and relentless heroine, outdoor action, and a dog you’ll fall in love with. Killing Trail is an exciting debut that will have readers waiting for the next book in the series.

Margaret Mizushima balances writing with assisting her husband with their veterinary clinic and Angus cattle herd. She enjoys writing mysteries, reading, and hiking. Mizushima lives on a small ranch in Colorado where she and her husband raised two daughters and a multitude of animals.

 Reviewed by Amber Polo

Friday, March 18, 2016

I put 3,000 people to sleep!

 The writer's goal is not to put readers to sleep.

But when I teach relaxation that is sometimes my student's goal.  I uploaded my Prelude to Sleep audio to Insight Timer's Free Guided Meditations. Over 3,000 4,000 people have tried it and the reviews are great!
(Not sure how a sleeper can review, but I am not complaining.)

Try Prelude to Sleep
Timer is available on the Apple App Store and Google Play. (free or with an optional $4.99 upgrade) 

 Prelude to Sleep is also available 
as audio download track 
and even an old-fashioned CD. 
Buy Links 

   Insight Timer – Meditation Timer

I love this app! The bell quality is excellent. The options to set presets of times and bells is amazing. I can set the time I want to meditate, the number of beginning and ending bells, and choose interval bells - random bells to call my mind back from random thinking. Seeing who in the world is meditating now is nice support if you need reminders that you are not alone.

There’s also a log or journal and statistics available for record-keeping meditators.

Some of the extras are a little odd. Like posting when you’re meditating on Twitter or sharing your milestones on Facebook.
Developers say 3/4 million meditators worldwide call Insight home and every day the community generates over 600 days of collective meditation.
 Insight Timer is available on the Apple App Store and Google Play (free or with an optional $4.99 upgrade)

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Coloring: a story from a long time ago

With all the  current coloring craze, my library writers' group had a Coloring for Grownups party and I added a cake to celebrate my birthday. (See below for the coloring I did that day.) Then I remembered a short short story I wrote about my early coloring days. 

The White Crayon

One rainy July afternoon, the summer I was four, my grandfather bought me three new coloring books and a box of 24 Crayolas.

My mother told him that one book and a 12 color box would have been enough to keep me quiet. “How many colors does she need to color Cinderella, The Three Pigs, and Puss in Boots?” she asked.

I began pulling crayons out of the box, gripping the waxy ends with chubby fingers: Forest Green, Magenta, Sky Blue, Light Violet, Crimson Red, and Pink. Delighted, I examined each one.

All went well until I pulled out the white crayon. I scrunched my nose. Grandpa watched as I snapped the crayon in two and threw the pieces across the floor.

“No good,” I said.

My mother said, “That’s a perfectly good crayon. You have to learn to take care of your things.”

I said, “No good.”

My grandfather said nothing, but his eyes twinkled and he went back out into the rain.

An hour later he returned with a giant 36 color box and waited for me to discover the white crayon.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Greyhound Picnic

Greyhounds of the Verde Valley

If you’ve never heard of a 40 mph couch potato, you haven’t met a greyhound lover.

Greyhounds of the Verde Valley is an all volunteer nonprofit organization dedicated to placing retired racing greyhounds in safe, loving, forever homes as pets, and provides foster and adoptive families and their dogs with continuing support, workshops, and camaraderie.

Since its beginning in 2007 over 300 dogs have been adopted through GVV. GVV greyhounds come from Tucson area racing kennels. GVV believes that everyone has their own opinion about dog racing. Their purpose is to ensure that these wonderful animals have a ‘Greyt’ retirement.

Greyhound owners claim their dogs are more intelligent, loving, and gentle - and more beautiful - plus less aggressive than most other dogs. A study by the University of Pennsylvania found that greyhounds are the least aggressive and most docile of canines. They are also quiet. Attend the GVV picnic and you will see a lot of dogs and hear little barking. The dogs are polite and friendly to people and other dogs.

Greyhound Picnic
GVV hosts an annual picnic for greyhounds and their families. Fun Run entries are clocked  by a radar speed gun. Other events included the “Diving for Dogs” contest  to see how many hot dog chunks a hound could fish out and eat in one minute, and the longest tail competition. The educational program was “Training Dogs to Avoid Rattlesnakes.” Add great food for humans and a wonderful day was enjoyed by all. 
Besides their annual picnic, and frequent presence at the Camp Verde Farmer’s Market they march in parades, and setup booths at adoption events, and art shows.
 Caring for a Greyhound
Monica Davis, GVV Founder and Adoption Coordinator, explains that greyhound pups spend longer with their mother and littermates than other dogs before beginning training at 18 months. They’re handled since birth, trained to walk on a leash, and to get along with other greyhounds. They start racing at two years and most dogs finish their racing career between 3 and 5 years of age.

A racing dog’s first introduction to the new world of being a pet is in a foster home. GVV places adoptable greyhounds in foster homes to give him or her love, care, and attention for a short period. Greyhounds need to be socialized to be ready to “meet ‘n greet” prospective adopters. Dogs straight off the track need to be acclimated to our confusing world: stairs, doors, strange noises, mirrors, children, cats, small animals, pools, even car rides, and much more. And they need to be introduced to the joys of treats and doggie toys. During foster time each dog is evaluated. GVV supports the foster caregiver and all veterinary care during this time to be certain each dog is healthy and ready for the right forever home. By the time a hound leaves for a forever home, GVV  has taken care of spay/neutering and the dog has been vet checked, teeth cleaned, wormed and is current on inoculations.

Greyhounds have been bred to sprint for short distances, not marathons, and do not require any more exercise than most dogs. Most do not jump and don’t require high fencing. They quickly adapt to house training and can live in apartments and small homes as long as they are walked, preferably on a schedule.

It is a tribute to their adaptability and intelligent nature, how quickly most make the transition to a completely new style of living. From the very start they are full of love and affection, eager to please, and sensitive to discipline. A simple "No!" will be more than enough encourage good behavior. 

Historically, greyhounds have been bred for racing and hunting and rarely suffer from health problems or genetic disorders. But they are different from other types of dogs when it comes to veterinary care and medicines. Due to their low body fat greyhounds' livers absorb most medicines directly and they can die from certain medicines and pesticides, including topical treatments for fleas and ticks. Their blood chemistry is different and greyhounds can be used as universal blood donors for other dogs.

Caring for a greyhound is much the same as caring for any dog, with some exceptions. They need soft places to rest, for they don’t have much fat to cushion their bodies. They need elevated food dishes, pedicures, and dental care. They appreciate wading pools in summer and warm winter clothes for cold days. Greyhounds chatter, called nattering, when they are excited and may even nip softly at your fingertips. Most overcome separation issues in a little time and GVV offers tips to speed up the process.

Adopting a Greyhound

The first steps in adopting a racer is to fill out an application (available online) and request a home visit. Next, both the prospective adopter and the dog will be evaluated for compatibility. GVV encourages all adopters, fosters, and supporters to read books about greyhounds. Each adopter signs a contract that requires the dog to be returned to GVV if the owner can no longer keep the dog - for any reason.

One recent adopter says, “We are happy with our decision and feel the research was worth it. The people at Greyhounds of the Verde Valley are sincere and helpful, the foster family has our gratitude, and our greyhound is well on her way to being a beloved family member. We just want to thank everyone who dedicates their time to these beautiful animals, and we’re glad to play a small part in giving a retired racing greyhound a home.”

Though many people call greyhound groups rescue organizations, President Tom Reese emphasizes that Greyhounds of the Verde Valley rehomes, not rescues:
“We turn professional athletes into
professional pets and companions.”

Excepted from the December - January 2015-2016 issue of the Flagstaff-Sedona Dog.