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Blogging By the Sea
Friday, January 15 2021

Just released ...

Liz Johnson single-handedly raised an exemplary daughter—honor student, track star, and all-around good kid—despite the disapproval of her father and her small town. How could that same teenager be responsible for the death of the high school’s beloved football coach? This is Texas, where high school football ranks right up there with God, so while the legal battle wages, the public deals its own verdict.

Desperate for help, Liz turns to a lawyer whose affection she long ago rejected and attempts to play nice with her ex-husband, while her daughter struggles with guilt and her own demons as she faces the consequences of an accident she doesn’t remember.

Available everywhere - find Buy Links at: CaraWrites.com/blind-turn 

Skye: Today I am pleased to welcome Liz Johnson, the main character in Blind Turn to Blogging By The Sea. Nothing better for getting to know a new character like meeting them in person.  Liz, it's such fun to have you here today. I'm wondering what your life was like before Cara decided to plop you down in this book, Blind Turn. 

Liz: My life was okay—not exciting, but okay. My only daughter, who I basically raised by myself since her father was too busy with his fishing boat, his hunting dogs, and a rotating cast of girlfriends, was just beginning her junior year of high school. Besides being an all around great kid, Jessica had excellent grades and was a stand out track star. Based on my income working as a nursing home day manager, we had high hopes for her to get a scholarship to a good school which would lead to a successful career and a great life, somewhere beyond this tiny Texas town where most of the time we feel like we live in a fishbowl. I was solely focused on Jess, and hadn’t begun to think about what my life would be like without her. Being her mother had defined my life.

Skye: I was a single mom for a good part of the years when my four kids were growing up. I know what you mean about they kind of define who you are and it really is hard to figure out who you are without them. What do you see as your strongest characteristic?

Liz: I’m determined—I set my mind to things and don’t let circumstances or people get in my way. When it came to Jess, I was willing to sacrifice my own happiness and dreams to be sure that she had a good life and a chance at something more.

Skye: So, before Jess, were there any secrets in your past that make you blush?

Liz: Doesn’t everyone have secrets? In our tiny town, it’s hard to hide them. My biggest secret became obvious to everyone when I got pregnant the spring of my senior year. Until that point, I was the smart kid headed to Baylor to study biology, but once my secret was out, my whole world changed.

Skye: I can only imagine. Becoming a mother is a life changing experience at any point in your life. But tell me, Do you ever argue with your author? Like maybe you didn't want to be an unwed mother.

Liz: I argued a little with my author, only because I wanted to share my side of the story. For a while, she planned to tell Jessica’s story and mine was only backstory, but eventually, she let me have my say.

Skye: As it should be. So, what is your biggest joy in life?

Liz: My daughter has always been not only my biggest joy in life, but the focus of my life. After the accident, finding joy in anything was much harder, but in the end I think I expanded not only my definition of joy, but my openness to it.

Skye: Is there anything about yourself you’d change if your author listened to you?

Liz: That’s a hard question—I don’t feel ashamed about anything in my life; I have no regrets. Sure I wish a few things had been different, but if they were it might have changed the outcome and I love my happy ending.

SkyeTell me about a couple your fellow characters that you think make this book engaging.

Liz: Well, I already mentioned my daughter Jessica- the light of my life and also a typical teen struggling with who she is and who she wants to be. But there’s also a quirky kid next door named Dylan, who despite some questionable wardrobe choices and being several years younger than Jess, proves to be a real friend who helps her when she needs it most by being honest and available. I probably have to mention my ex-husband Jake who lives in a falling apart housetrailer with two smelly hound dogs and fixes cars for a living. Jake has never had any trouble finding fun, in fact, that’s probably what drew me to him but also what ended our ill-conceived marriage. There’s another guy I’d love to mention, but I don’t want to give too much away. Plus a high school guidance counselor, my sister in Minnesota, and the victim’s widow who shared their wit and/or wisdom at just the right moments,

Skye: Well, I'm looking forward to meeting these folks. I love quirky characters - they add such color to a story. And, as you say, support and love often comes from the least expected places. And now that your story is out there for folk to dive into, tell us a little something about your author. Where can readers find her website/blog?

Liz: Cara writes all sorts of things beyond novels—blogs, freelance articles, and two memoirs about her experiences fostering dogs. She also co-founded a non-profit called Who Will Let the Dogs Out to raise awareness and resources for shelter dogs. She has three of her own dogs, plus two horses, a barn cat, and a dozen chickens in addition to a rotating roster of foster dogs and cats. Readers can find information on all of that (and lots more) at her website: CaraWrites.com

Skye: Thanks so much for joining me today, Liz. It's been a real pleasure. 

Readers - you might also want to check out Cara ßue Achterberg's book, One Hundred Dogs and Counting

A challenging foster dog invites an experienced foster mama to explore where the endless stream of unwanted dogs is coming from and how it will ever end.

After welcoming her one hundredth foster dog (and her puppies), Cara grabs her best friend, fills a van with donations, and heads south to discover what is really happening in the rural shelters where her foster dogs originate. What she discovers will break her heart and compel her to share the story of heroes and villains and plenty of good dogs, in the hope of changing this world. Cara fosters her most challenging dog yet and she and her husband are pushed to the brink of what they will do to save a dog. Cara wonders why the need seems endless. She hatches a plan to head south on a Thelma & Louise-style road trip. Each stop exposes more of the realities of rural animal shelters. The hopelessness seems unsurmountable until they discover one shelter, deep in South Carolina that has found the answers and is truly a ‘no-kill’ shelter. One Hundred Dogs and Counting will introduce the reader to many good dogs, but also to inspirational people sacrificing personal lives and fortunes to save deserving animals. It will offer not just the entertaining stories of plenty of loveable good dogs, but the real problem of unwanted animals in our rural shelters, and how the reader can be part of the solution.

Posted by: Skye Taylor AT 03:23 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Saturday, December 19 2020

Our December Round Robin Blog Hop assignment was: Write a short story, flash fiction, or use an excerpt from one of your books. I considered an excerpt. Or perhaps digging out one of my short stories not yet shared here. But then this came into my head - or maybe it was my heart. It started out to be fiction, but I'll be honest - it's really my life over the last two months since Duffy crossed the Rainbow Bridge to wherever beloved pets go. If you've ever had a pet, you'll understand. If not, I hope you enjoy the story anyway. And Happy Holidays to you all, however you will be celebrating. 
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The vet and I were both on our knees, my face buried in his silky fur as Duffy passed from this life to the next. The vet, her eyes damp, gathered up her things and prepared to leave us, giving me permission to stay with Duffy as long as I wanted. But my furry buddy was gone. Everything good about him was in my past. He could no longer lick away the tears that continued to slip down my cheeks. I hugged him one last time, then stumbled weeping from the room.

I don’t know if there’s a rainbow bridge, or not, but I pray there is. For Duffy’s sake. I want to think of him romping and playing, not crippled with age and unable to get to his feet on his own, no longer able to walk to the beach for a swim, or gallop over the sand with joyous abandon.

Duffy was special. I know, everyone says that, but really, Duffy was extraordinary and the hole he was leaving in my life was enormous.

MacDuff been a rescue, born on the streets of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina and picked up along with his mom and siblings. I’d adopted him from a photo online and agreed to meet the truck bringing him out of that chaotic place along with dozens of other dogs.

A fuzzy ball of black fluff. They told me he was part Labrador retriever and part Australia Shepherd. The shepherd part wasn’t in question since he’d been with his mom when rescued, but as he matured it was increasingly clear he was more likely flat coat retriever than lab. I’d never heard of flat-coats when the vet mentioned that breed so I googled them and found they were considered the Peter Pan of the canine world, playing like puppies for most of their life. And he certainly lived up to that. Even on those last, painfilled days when struggling to his feet was a chore, he’d still bring me a toy and want to play tug of war with it.

Duffy was torn between his genetic inclinations to fetch and herd. When my grandchildren were small, he’d try to round them up and keep them away from dangerous things like water and streets. He’d gently put his mouth on people’s wrists as if he wanted to show them something or take them somewhere. But fetch was more like keep-away. Once you’d thrown the ball or toy, getting it back was the challenge and he loved teasing you, seeming to offer the toy, then snatching out of reach at the moment your fingers closed around thin air. He outgrew the herding thing, or perhaps it was my grandchildren who outgrew his thinking he needed to protect them, but he never outgrew his desire to play and he always enjoyed being with my grandkids.

Swimming was another of his favorite things. Any game played in the water at the lake always included him, and he especially liked it when it involved things that got tossed back and forth like frisbees that he could snag and carry ashore. The waves at the ocean didn’t faze him in the least. On hot days, he’d walk in up to his belly, sit down facing the shore and let the waves break over his head. If I went in, he was game to swim at my side, for as long as I wanted to be out there.

At home, he elected himself the welcoming committee for our neighborhood and since there are a number of rentals here by the beach, he was always making new friends. Everyone knew him and he knew everyone. But he was also my self-appointed social director. It wasn’t enough for him to greet folks passing by our little bungalow on their way to the beach. Once he’d greeted whoever was out there, he’d hurry inside and thrust his nose under my wrist, interrupting my typing and insisting I get up and go out to chat with whoever had stopped by.

Often, for no particular reason, He would push his head between my thighs. My brother informed me this was a doggy hug. And, perhaps it was. Duffy did it often and it sure felt like I was being hugged. That along with the eager, tail-wagging welcomes every time I’d been out for ten minutes, ten hours or ten days, made it clear how happy he was to see me.

And now that he was gone, my heart and my home were going to be horribly empty.

So, I’m never getting another dog. How could I ever find another canine that special? I could never replace the love, acceptance, and joy that nearly fifteen years with Duffy brought me.

It’s been two months and still . . . when I out of my recliner to head to bed at night, I want to bend down to pat his silky black head. It seems impossible he’s not sacked out there in front of my chair where he’s always been, and come morning, there’s no one eager to share my breakfast eggs. I haven’t skipped our midnight walks, though. Even on rainy nights, I’m out there making our usual rounds, remembering how he stopped here to add his calling card to a favorite clump of sea oats, or there to sniff along the ground to see who else had been by. I still slog through the soft sand near the sea wall when I go to the beach because that’s where he was most intent on sniffing things out. But then my heart aches when I remember I will never again feel the softness of his fur brushing against my bare skin as he walks close to me in the dark.

I got almost as many sympathy cards for MacDuff as I did when my dad passed away two years ago. I have them hanging on a ribbon in a doorway reminding me how much my friends care, but they also remind me how many people knew and loved Duffy. How could I possibly replace a dog like that?

 . . . . . . But then I see a face like this one, and I realize it’s not about replacing Duffy. It’s about offering another dog a fur-ever family and finding joy again in the wagging, comforting love of a canine companion. (Sadly, this adorable pup was adopted before I got to the shelter, but there will be others....)

So . . . maybe I will get another dog . . .

Thank you, Duffy – for teaching me about unconditional love, the joy of an eager welcome, a warm body to cuddle and the solace of a wet tongue to lick away tears when life gets tough. Maybe it is time to share my bungalow with another extraordinary fellow like you.

XX

For your holiday reading pleasure - hop on over to see what these other authors have for you today.

XX

Anne Stenhouse  
Victoria Chatham 
Diane Bator 
Helena Fairfax 
Dr. Bob Rich 
Connie Vines 
Fiona McGier 
Margaret Fieland 
Beverley Bateman 
Rhobin L Courtright 

Posted by: Skye Taylor AT 12:02 am   |  Permalink   |  7 Comments  |  Email
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    Skye Taylor
    St Augustine, Florida
    skye@skye-writer.com

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