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The Next Project

Book #3 in The Kinship Series

Coming Soon in 2018

 

A passionate and troubled investigator searches for her co-worker who vanishes while working undercover at a laboratory that is testing an experimental drug on animals.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Book Review – The Tusk That Did the Damage

Posted by on Nov 11, 2018 in Writing | 0 comments

 

In my pursuit to find contemporary animal-themed fiction, I came across a remarkable novel called The Tusk That Did the Damage by Tania James. It is told in the alternative voices of an elephant, a poacher and a filmmaker – each of whom provide a different perspective on the state of conservation in India.

The elephant is nicknamed The Gravedigger. Orphaned by poachers as a calf and sold into a life of labor, he has finally escaped the abuse by one of his caretakers and has gone on a deranged rampage in the Indian countryside leaving human victims. The poacher is the younger son of a poor rice farmer drawn into the money-making world of poaching. Into the story is thrust an idealistic young American filmmaker who is trying to capture the inner minds of elephants.

It is, ultimately, only the Gravedigger who reveals to the reader his feelings, both about his brutal treatment at the hands of men and his kind thoughts for the few who cared for him as best they could. For animal lovers, the book is a heartbreaking reminder of the tragedy of the ivory trade. Yet, James brings to the table the complex and difficult lives of the farmers whose hard-won crops are destroyed by elephants and the porous boundary between conservation and corruption.

At times the novel reads like a dream from which one cannot wake. It intertwines fantastical myths of how elephants once had wings with the dismal reality of the small, hot, and dusty offices of beleaguered conservation wardens. And it does all of this in arrestingly original prose.

It is a sad statement that we have been unable to stop the slaughter of these amazing, majestic animals. Yet while this compelling and emotional book cannot give us much hope that things will change, it does offer a chance to see all the sides of this calamitous story.

Review of The Wildlands by Abby Geni

Posted by on Sep 30, 2018 in Writing | 0 comments

 

I have long believed that a powerful way to reach people about the sentience of animals and our  shameful treatment of them is through fiction. Thus, I keep my eyes open for good novels with the courage to tackle that difficult topic.

The most recent read is a remarkable literary thriller called The Wildlands, by Abby Geni. A couple of years ago, I had read Geni’s earlier book, The Lightkeepers, an atmospheric, slow-building suspense novel about a nature photographer who travels to the Farallon Islands on a long residency. The tension between man and animals is woven into the story beautifully, but I found this most recent book a step up in her willingness to blend compelling narrative with a sense of social justice for animals.

The Wildlands opens with a Category 5 tornado that ravages the town of Mercy, Oklahoma, with particular vengeance aimed at the McCloud family. Four siblings, who have already suffered the loss of their mother from cancer, huddle in the basement while the storm demolishes their home, their father, and their farm animals. Sisters Darlene, Jane, and Cora weather their survival by making media headlines, while their brother Tucker abandons them and disappears.

On the three-year anniversary of the tornado, a cosmetics factory outside of Mercy is bombed, and the lab animals trapped within are released. Tucker reappears, injured from the blast, and seeks the help of nine-year-old Cora. Captivated by her charismatic brother, she agrees to accompany Tucker on a cross-country mission to “free” the animals, even if it means using violent means.

I was very curious to see how the author would portray this eco-terrorist and his overriding passion for justice. I was not disappointed. The story is a whirlwind read with sympathetic characters, while questioning what can happen when the rage against animal abuse takes an awful toll on the perpetrators of violence and even on the animals themselves.

Despite the uncomfortable dilemma, it is clear the Geni is a lover of animals and clearly recognizes the abuse they suffer at the hands of man. In an interview with the Chicago Review of Books, she says, “In The Wildlands, Tucker is an arsonist, a bomber, and a vigilante. He does things I would never do, but his motives make complete sense to me. He sees what is happening to our planet—what human beings are doing to our planet—as a violent assault. He believes he’s responding with proportional violence. I don’t intend to start blowing up buildings, but I share Tucker’s sense of helplessness and rage. The sixth mass extinction of life on Earth is happening right now, and it’s an emergency.”

The ending is a killer … hard to read, but harder to put down. A really fine, fine book!

 

For I will consider my dog Percy

Posted by on Jun 27, 2017 in Writing | 1 comment

For anyone who has ever loved an animal. By the poet Mary Oliver.

For I will consider my dog Percy.

For he was made small but brave of heart.

For if he met another dog he would kiss her in kindness.

For when he slept he snored only a little.

For he could be silly and noble in the same moment.

For when he spoke he remembered the trumpet and when he scratched he struck the floor like a drum.

For he ate only the finest food and drank only the purest of water, yet he would nibble of the dead fish also.

For he came to me impaired and therefore certain of short life, yet thoroughly rejoiced in each day.

For he took his medicines without argument.

For he played easily with the neighbor’s Bull Mastiff.

For when he came upon mud he splashed through it.

For he was an instrument for the children to learn benevolence upon.

For he listened to poems as well as love-talk.

For when he sniffed it was as if he were being pleased by every part of the world.

For when he sickened he rallied as many times as he could.

For he was a mixture of gravity and waggery.

For we humans can seek self-destruction in ways he never dreamed of.

For he took actions both cunning and reckless, yet refused always to offer himself to be admonished.

For his sadness though without words was understandable.

For there was nothing sweeter than his peace when at rest.

For there was nothing brisker than his life when in motion.

For he was of the tribe of Wolf.

For when I went away he would watch for me at the window.

For he loved me.

For he suffered before I found him, and never forgot it.

For he loved Anne.

For when he lay down to enter sleep he did not argue about whether or not God made him.

For he could fling himself upside down and laugh a true laugh.

For he loved his friend Ricky.

For he would dig holes in the sand and then let Ricky lie in them.

For I often see his shape in the clouds and this is a continual blessing.

The Experiment

Posted by on Oct 19, 2016 in Writing | 0 comments

To get a glimpse into the 3rd book of The Kinship Series, watch this amazing video by Beagle Freedom Project.

Kaley – the rock star of TAFA 2016

Posted by on Jul 6, 2016 in Writing | 1 comment

TAFA 2016It’s always been hard for us to leave our rescue dog Kaley for any length of time. She’s a rather nervous girl and often won’t eat or even chew on her favorite bone when we’re away. And it’s hard for us to leave her with even the most responsible dog sitter. It would always remind me of when my husband dropped off our five-year-old son at Kindergarten for the first time. When my husband assured him that he would do just fine, the little guy clung to his leg and said, “But you don’t understand. No one here loves me.”

That’s our problem leaving Kaley. We know she’ll be fed, taken for walks, and petted. But she won’t be loved. Not the way we love her.  SO…

This year, we took her to the Taking Action for Animals Conference in Arlington, VA. Certain she would freak out at the crowds – at getting in an elevator – at walking along a busy city street. And she was a nervous dog, no question. But TAFA is a conference filled with people who appreciate, work for, and love  animals.  And Kaley was a rock star. She’s coming with us from now on.

Kaley at Tafa

 

 

“Hey Sundance, Who Are Those Guys?”

Posted by on Jan 26, 2016 in Writing | 2 comments

Each day that Ammon Bundy and his band of armed militiamen stay holed up at the Malheur Refuge, they make us wonder, in the words of Butch Cassidy, “Who are those guys?” They’re adamant that they will 750x-1not leave until the federal government gives them back their land so they can graze livestock wherever they want.  Yet in actual truth, they do graze their cattle and sheep pretty much wherever they want.

Approximately 230 million acres of federal land out west is allocated for livestock grazing, with the grazing fees less than 10% of what ranchers pay to graze on private lands. Yet even then, most western ranching operations are not economically profitable. And cattle grazed on public land represent less than 3% of the national beef supply. So who are the Bundys and the others who would threaten federal officials with assault rifles to “protect” a nonviable and probably difficult way of life? What do they really want?

I think the answer lies in George Wuerthner’s astute observation that the western ranchers’ identity is tied into entrenched American attitudes about beef, cowboys and the western frontier. Wuerthner is an activist and Projects Director of the Foundation for Deep Ecology, publisher of an eye-opening book called Welfare Ranching: The Subsidized Destruction of the American West. He points out that many of the early colonists were from northern Europe where meat was primarily available only to the aristocracy. Meat was a symbol of wealth and prosperity – as it now is many underdeveloped nations. And this view was brought to America where cattle grazing land was cheap or free, and land barons amassed huge herds.

Moreover, in this wild west, ranching became the first step in domesticating the landscape and taming the wilderness. Wuerthner 6655741writes, “At an even deeper level, the cattle culture is based on a world view that sees nature as requiring control, and those who do the controlling as powerful people.” This notion gave birth to the rodeo – a symbol of the taming of wild animals. The cowboy, with his strength and toughness, rides the wild, bucking bronco and captures the fleeing bull with his lasso. Thus, the idea of preserving wildlands and biodiversity runs entirely counter to the self-image of “real” cowboys like Ammon Bundy.

The image of the cowboy is at the epicenter of the frontier. He is rugged and tough, loyal and ethical. Americans have romanticized the cowboy in movies, music, and art. He is the Marlboro man – a man Marlboro manwho won’t back down from a fight.

I dare say, too, he won’t back down from his outrage that the world is changing and the frontier-for-the-taking days are over.  In a 2005 study conducted by the Western Economics Forum, both large and small ranchers said that the primary reason for owning a ranch was for the preservation of land ownership, family tradition, culture and values. But along comes the federal government responding to public pressure to preserve a refuge for birds, and on an even broader scale, a world  that is opening up to diversity, gender equality, animal rights, veganism. Pull back even farther and we are confronted with a world that must cope with climate change.Effectsof-HMKaroo

Who are those guys? George Wuerthner knows. They are the modern day John Waynes who see themselves as personifying American values of individualism, strength and male competency. They are waging a battle for a lifestyle that must come to an end if we are to forestall environmental destruction and species extinction. Thus attempts to fight the government that is slowly reforming livestock production “will not be successful until the symbolism of ‘meat’ and ‘cowboy’ is carefully deconstructed, and the premise of controlling nature – inherent in the livestock industry – is challenged.” (Wuerthner, Welfare Ranching: The Subsidized Destruction of the American West)

 

 

Hudson Valley Book Fair

Posted by on Dec 2, 2015 in Writing | 0 comments

I’ll be doing a reading and signing books at the Hudson Valley Book Fair from 11:00am to 5:00pm on December 12th in Beacon, NY.

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Come say hi and meet other local authors! Book Signings * Live Readings * Used Books * Baked Goods * Gift Wrapping

The First Presbyterian Church of Beacon, 50 Liberty Street, Beacon, NY.

A Close Encounter with Wolves: Gods or Street Kids?

Posted by on Dec 2, 2015 in Writing | 0 comments

Last month, I reconnected with Maggie Howell at the Wolf Conservation Center in South Salem, NY. Maggie had been an invaluable resource for me as I was writing The Trapatka_5-58aa412fb9 She took me back to the wolf enclosure (acres of woodlands) where a few of them waited to greet us. I was so moved by the rare opportunity to be so close to the wolves, I wrote the following piece for Elephant Journal.

http://www.elephantjournal.com/2015/11/a-close-encounter-with-wolves-gods-or-street-kids/

The Alpha Wolf

Posted by on Jun 29, 2015 in Writing | 0 comments

Glad that the NY Times published my letter in response to Carl Safina’s editorial regarding the male alpha wolf. For your review:

 

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http://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/17/opinion/how-to-treat-wolves.html?partner=rssnyt&emc=rss&_r=0

Dogs on the Inside

Posted by on Jun 26, 2015 in Writing | 0 comments

I’m always moved by the human/animal connection, especially when the connection gives so much to those who need it.  Here is one such story. Dogs and prisoners. Wish we could do this in every prison. The world would be a much better place. Watch the trailer to this important film.

If you’d like to see more, go to:

http://www.dogsontheinside.com/