Thursday, December 31, 2009

Good-bye 2009; Hello 2010!

As 2009 comes to a close, I had a realization...somewhere between then and now, I've kind of gotten lost in the shuffle. What do I mean by that? Well, 2009 was a year full of challenges; ups and downs with my family, with my two careers, and with health issues. I've been so bogged down with putting out fires that I forgot to be happy.

So instead of making New Year resolutions that I probably wouldn't keep anyway, I'm making a list of what makes me happy. Here are my top five in no particular order of importance:

1.My family and friends. My kids and grandchildren are all healthy, and although, they too have had their challenges this year, they're dealing with them. And my friends...whenever I have had issues, they've always listened. Not once have they said "Buck up little trooper and quit whining!" And they've given me good advice, not that I've always listened, but I really should've!! ;)

2.My dog. Talk about unconditional love!!! As active as she is, she really should've been adopted by a family full of kids, instead of winding up with a writer who spends a lot of time in front of a computer. But she doesn't seem to mind...she's adapted to my schedule and most of the time we live quite harmoniously!

3.My health. They say every cloud has a silver lining and my unexpected back surgery proved it. As a result of all the physical therapy I've had to do, and after years of good intentions, but never following through, I'm finally exercising. And best of all, the results are starting to show...lost weight; toning up...which inspires me to continue.

4.Hearing from readers who are enjoying Ophelia and Abby. As I've mentioned before, it's one of the most gratifying experiences in my life, and I will be forever grateful for their continued support.

5.My career as a writer. If someone would've told me eight years ago that I would write seven books and be working on an eighth, plus be lucky enough to have them published, I would've told them they were crazy!

Okay, that's my short list, there's more of course, and I plan to spend some time tomorrow thinking about it. How about you? What's made you happy in 2009???

Everyone have a great and safe New Year's Eve, and I wish you a happy, healthy, and prosperous 2010!!!

Best,
Shirley

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Good Riddance!


Sure things can get plenty weird in New York City. Ask anybody who’s ever visited, and any writer who’s ever had to deal with sometimes incomprehensible publishing decisions!

But once in a while, a flash of real genius comes out of the Big Apple.

Good Riddance Day is one of them.

The day, sponsored by the Times Square Alliance, is celebrated on December 28 and gives people a chance to say goodbye to all the bad things that happened throughout the year. The Alliance makes giant shredding machines, a Dumpster, and a sledgehammer available so folks can stop by for a little catharsis while they munch, crunch and tear up their bad memories.

What sort of things do people get rid of? Bills that have been haunting them, letters from ex’es, newspapers that report the dreadful losses of beloved sports teams. Good Riddance Day is a chance to kick the bad memories out in hopes of letting a brighter, better New Year in.

In many ways, the day reminds me of the Wiccan practice of burying bad memories. Same principle: write down what’s bugging you, take it to the woods, bury it in a hole.

Out with the old, in with the new.

Something tells me it wouldn’t hurt for each of us to establish our own Good Riddance Day. I’m thinking a nice, crackling fire would work just as well as a shredder.

So here’s a question . . . you’ve got that fire (or that shredder) in front of you. And a blank piece of paper.

What are you going to write down?

What do you want to be rid of?

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

I really thought I could do it

They say you learn something new every day. Well a few days ago, I learned I'm not a plumber. Now some of you may have already realized that if you've seen the Accidental Demon Slayer books in the store or read My Zombie Valentine. It takes some people longer, though, and sadly, it seems like I'm one of those people.

Case in point: I've been after my husband for several weeks to fix a running toilet. It's a waste of water, it's annoying and worst of all, when the house is quiet at the end of the day, it becomes that niggling thing that makes me feel like we haven't quite gotten enough done.

So the other night, when the house was quiet and all I could hear was the blasted toilet running, I decided to do something about it. It's just plumbing, right? Pipes and ball plungers are logical. They follow the rules of physics. I can reason my way through it (or so I tell myself). And just because it's 11:50 p.m. doesn't mean I can't start a new project.

I went and got tools from the basement, I put on a baseball hat (not sure how that was supposed to help, but I did it), I lifted the back lid and started fiddling. Now I am proud to say I figured out the problem. The little tube with the ball on the end needed to be out of the water and the water would stop running. But that's where my expertise ended. How to get the little ball to stay out of the water? Holding it up all night wasn't an option. See? Logical.

While figuring out what to do next, I bent the little tube back, just to see how far it could go. I was curious. Don't you want to know how far it can go? No, you don't. Snap! The tube broke. Then the one attached broke. Water shot up to the ceiling. It was like a geyser. Water shot out toward me, in case I wasn't soaked enough. My husband is out of town (or else he would have talked me out of this in the baseball cap stage). I call him to ask him how the heck I'm supposed to shut off the water. He tells me about the valve on the side of the commode (proving yet again that I'm not a plumber).

The bathroom is filling with water faster than the Titanic. I'm on my hands and knees, trying to turn the knob, only it will not budge (no doubt fastened by someone much stronger than me). I'm reduced to begging a toilet knob to turn while scrambling through my mental rolodex to decide which neighbor to wake at midnight in order to turn the knob in a bathroom that now has at least a half an inch of water on the floor.

Finally, it turns. The water ceases. I'm soaked to the bone and the toilet is way, way broken. I clean everything up, thank my frantic husband, take a shower and ponder just why I thought I was a plumber in the first place.

Want to know my theory? I think it has something to do with the fact that writers are curious people. The same thing that makes me want to ride with Harley bikers and their dogs is the same thing that made me want to explore the intricacies of toilet maintenance. If the tube hadn't snapped, I might have succeeded (Don't tell my husband I said that. He's still a bit horrified.)

And while things didn't work out the other night, I don't think I want to change. Well, until the next home crisis.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Fun Contest!

Hi everyone!

First, I wanted to say Happy Holidays to everyone. I hope this season brought lots of joy and laughter, and some peace to those who have a hard time during this season.

For the new year, I thought I'd have some fun.

Here are the things I'm going to get done in 2010.

#1 Clean the basement
#2 Get a new contract
#3 Find my evil twin and defeat her once and for all
#4 Start scrapbooking again
#5 Find Atlantis
#6 Interview Oprah for my blog
#7 Be a contestant on Dancing with the Stars
#8 Tend my new butterfly garden
#9 Invent a time machine
#10 Be named supreme ruler of the Xarnet galaxy

Sounds like fun!

You know what else is fun? Winning books. I'm giving away winner's choice of a signed copy of Beyond the Rain, or an exclusive excerpt from my upcoming book, Beyond the Shadows today at the Bradford Bunch. All you have to do is ask me a question. It should be entertaining. Hope to see you there!

Happy New Year!

Jess

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Santa Baby!

Santa came a little early this year. I found out last Saturday that books # 4, 5, and 6 in the Pepper Martin mystery series (“Night of the Loving Dead,” “Dead Man Talking,” and the yet to be published “Tomb with a View”) have sold for publication in Germany.

They join “Don of the Dead,” “The Chick and the Dead” and “Tombs of Endearment” (the first three books in the series) on bookstore shelves there.

Thank you, Santa! I’ve been very good this year. What else do you have in store for me?

Merry Christmas to you all!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Zombie cookie winners!

Happy holidays! I come bearing early presents. And believe me, I need the exercise after reading everyone's cookie posts last week. Turns out talking about cookie cravings is not the best way to avoid them. Who knew?

Anyhow, in honor of all the awesome people who posted, I'm giving away *two* copies of My Zombie Valentine, hot off the presses. The winners are Jackie Uhrmacher and Diana Dang! Email me at angie @ angie fox.com and I'll send it on out to you.

This book wouldn't have been the same without some awesome readers. When I decided to set the story in a New Orleans voodoo shop, I needed to know all sorts of details that you can only get by being there. Enter Michelle and Julia, two readers who live in the Big Easy. They took street pictures for me, wandered St. Louis Cemetery Number One and they made sure the hot, reanimated zombie took the shortest route from his grave to his new love's voodoo shop on Royal Street. These things are important, you know. So virtual cookies to Michelle and Julia and have a great holiday everyone!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Why I Hate DRM

I don't like to be too controversial. I usually don't step into mires like this one, but I'm going to, because heck, I feel a confession coming on.

I hate DRM. I think it is pointless and it has made me miserable.

You see, I've got an old video tape I love. As a child, we used to watch the Pirates of Penzance with Kevin Klein, Linda Ronstadt, and Angela Landsbury all the time. It is awesome. I watch it again now, and I laugh at the hair, and chest hair, but it is all part of the charm.

It is a fun and whimsical rendition of the classic stage musical, and I love it. I love it because I've always loved it. And now that I'm grown, I've got a much better appreciation for Frederick's pirate booty, so to speak.

Here's the problem. This old video has not been released in a DVD form. It will probably never be released in a DVD form, because I guess the powers that be don't think there's a market. Now in order to watch my old video, I've got to drag out a crusty old VCR. And I don't want to do that, so I don't get to watch it, and I do want to watch it.

I'd love to convert the old video into a DVD so I can continue to watch it, because the powers that be won't do it for me, but it has DRM.

And so I'm stuck in Pirates limbo.

Give me the option and I'd buy a DVD version in a heartbeat, but I don't have that option, so what do I do? I don't want to just give it up, and at some point my VCR will give up the ghost, then what? Buy a new one? Where exactly? They've gone the way of the dinosaur.

The irony is, in order to watch my Pirates, I'd have to become one.

This stinks.

There has to be another way.

Jess

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Ditto, Lori!

I could definitely echo Lori's blog about guilt!! (Lori's not the only one to miss...I was absent last Thursday, for which I apologize!! And I did buy a first class ticket on that old "guilt trip" as a result.) See, like Lori, I don't feel good when I don't follow through with my commitments. I usually berate myself, feel unorganized, and just mentally wear a hair shirt for a couple of days over what I see as a lack in my behavior. Now, does anyone else jump on the band wagon and chastise me?? Nope. Would I chastise anyone else for the same thing? Nope. Most of the time, people are very understanding, just as I try to be when the shoe is on the other foot.

So here's my question...why do we beat ourselves up? Why are we willing to be kinder to others than we are to ourselves? Why can't we acknowledge that we're human and not "superwomen." I don't know...maybe it's that we hold our own behavior to too high a standard? (And that's not to say that it's okay to go the other way and blow everything off, but really, shouldn't we be able to give ourselves the benefit of the doubt once in awhile?)

I've pondered this question a lot, 'cause like Lori, I can always find something to feel guilty about. (And yes, loved my mother to death, but I'm pinning it on her...she's was an expert at making me feel guilty. ;) And sorry to say, I've probably done the same thing to my kids!!!) But you know, I've decided I'm going to try and change my frequent excursions down that well-worn road. As Christmas rolls around, a present that I'm giving to me is to be as kind to myself as I would be to someone else! I'll let you know how it works out!!! ;)

That's all for now-hope everyone is having a happy and healthy Holiday Season!

Best,
Shirley

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Elementary? I Don't Think So!


I will admit it . . . I was completely jazzed when I learned there’s a Sherlock Holmes movie coming out on Christmas day. Holmes! The world’s most famous detective! MY favorite detective of all times! Holmes is the reason I started reading mysteries, the reason I started writing them.


Oh yes, I was excited, all right, and grateful to whatever gods are at work in Hollywood that someone had the good sense to make a movie about an era that interests me and a private consulting detective who never fails to fascinate.


Until I turned on the TV one day and saw previews for "Sherlock Holmes."


OK, Robert Downey Jr. as Holmes . . . I can buy into that. Though for me, no actor anytime, anywhere will ever equal the brilliance of Jeremy Brett in the roll, I am willing to suspend disbelief and accept another person playing Holmes.


I am not familiar with the actor playing Watson, I don’t even remember his name, but again, I’m willing to take a chance.


But . . .


An action-packed Holmes?


Fighting?


Punching?


(Gulp!) Kissing women???


Swinging from bridges and doing karate moves and looking like a superhero?


I gotta tell you, though I’m not a hidebound traditionalist (well, not usually, anyway!) this looks all wrong to me.


Holmes is cerebral. He’s quiet. He’s contemplative, and quirky, and odd, and stand-offish. Holmes in a cape and tights? It’s wrong, all wrong.


Now, I could be way off base and this could be the most fun romp of a movie ever. If you see it and it is, let me know. In the meantime, you can be sure I won’t be spending Christmas day in the movie theater. Instead, I think I’ll just curl up by the fire, an old, old copy of a Conan Doyle book in hand.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Zombies and Cookies


No, this isn't a blog about zombies eating cookies, although I think they'd try if they saw what's been in our kitchen these past few weeks.

My husband has been on a baking frenzy - cooking up all of his old family recipes and mine too. We have ice box cookies, chocolate crinkles, mountains of fudge, sugar cookies, peanut brittle. I could go on but I'm making myself hungry.

That's the trick this time of year - trying to think of something besides the mounds of cookies. And "rewarding" myself every five minutes.

So to move on, let's talk zombies. My Zombie Valentine is due out in stores any day. And I have a copy right here for a lucky winner!

Lonely New Orleans voodoo shop owner Amie Baptiste decides she’s had enough romantic disappointments. Amie is going to find mister right come hell, high water or voodoo. But when she uses magic to call the perfect man for her, she should have been more specific. Who knew her ideal mate died 198 years ago? When a sexy, well-spoken zombie gentleman shows up at her door, Amie gets much, much more than she bargained for.

Tell me your favorite cookie and you're entered. I'll pick a winner this coming Tuesday.

Monday, December 14, 2009

The Power of a Song and Story

I was driving this morning, and a song came on from the soundtrack to the movie City of Angels. As I was listening to the song, I could see the movie in my mind, because the lyrics expressed the feelings of the movie so well, I couldn't help but feel like I could hear the thoughts of the main character, his desire.

If you haven't seen the movie, it is good, but the ending offends every sensibility I have as a romance author, be prepared. That said, I still really liked it, and draw a lot of inspiration from that film. The love scene has to be one of the best I've seen in a movie, ever. There's a vulnerability that I really try to touch at in the love scenes I write.

This got me thinking about a documentary I watched about the origins of art and music. The documentary went through ancient civilization and tried to find the oldest form of living art. By that, they were trying to find an artform still practiced today that is identical to the older incarnations of that art. They came to the conclusion that the oldest living art is the art of the Aborigines in Australia. The pictures and forms currently created by modern aboriginal artists are nearly identical to works that are thousands of years old.

They discovered that the longevity of these iconic images can be attributed to stories sung by the Aborigines around fires as they look at the pictures on rocks and caves around them. The music ties so deeply to the imagery, that modern artists reproduce the images identically, and the images inspire the story in an endless cycle, sustaining both artforms.

The modern incarnation of this is movie soundtracks. You can't hear a John Williams score without being about to immediately identify it, from Superman. Ba ba ba ba baaaa ba ba ba. Baaa ba ba ba ba, BA DA DA! You just heard it in your head, didn't you.

Or Indiana Jones, Da da da Daaaa, duh da da. Buh da da DAAAAA, buh da DA DA DA!

Need I go on. Now who here can see Christopher Reeves, and Harrison Ford in their head?

I know some authors create a songlist to accompany their books, and frankly, that's brilliant, because of this mental connection we make between song, art, and story. I wish I could, but I have a hard time finding music that fits with my ideas. It would be awesome to have someone "score" a book.

But I guess none of us get that,

Until they make a movie.......

Hmmmmm

Jess

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Blogging...something else to feel guilty about

I have a huge talent for guilt. I feel guilty that I'm not writing. I feel guilty that I ate an extra piece of chocolate. I feel guilty that I didn't jog...that my bathrooms are disgusting...that my kids aren't all shiny and sweet smelling. And now with the age of the Internet I get to feel guilty that I don't blog.

Lovely, isn't it?

See, I'm supposed to blog here every Friday. You will notice if you go back in time that I've missed a couple of day, and a few others slipped to Saturday or Sunday. You will also notice that other authors here have missed, but somehow that doesn't lessen my guilt. Because, you know, I'm supposed to do better. Hmmm....I'm thinking I can pin this guilt onto some elementary teacher in my past...or my mother. Mothers are always good for such things.

Now, if it was just this blog it would be that bad, but wander by my personal blog...there are dust bunnies the size of my car roaming around there. Or Shapeshifterromance. I actually told them I was going to leave because I was so bad and they said no, don't worry about it. I still feel guilty. Then there is the Nocturne blog at eHarlequin, my LiveJournal...and probably more I am forgetting. None hear from me more than sporadically. Let's face it, I just stink at blogging. But I'm swell at signing up for them.

So, this is a public warning for anyone thinking of asking me to participate in a group blog on a regular basis--Don't. It will save me some guilt and you having to clean up all those dust bunnies.

How about you? What do you do to set yourself up for guilt?

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Words, Words, Words

A couple weeks ago, I published the winners of a newspaper contest on making up new words.

And that got me thinking about how language is constantly changing and how all of us–as readers and writers–need to keep up with the latest and the greatest.

In keeping with that thought, here are the newest words that have been accepted by the new Oxford American Dictionary.

Unfriend–defined as a verb which means to remove someone as a friend a social networking site. Unfriends has been named word of the year by the New Oxford American Dictionary because, according to one senior lexicographer, "It has both current and potential longevity."

Other finalist words:

Hashtag–the hash sign added to a word or phrase that lets Twitter users search for tweety similarly tagged. (Maybe someone who knows something about Twitter can explain this one...it makes no sense to me!)

Intexticated–people who are distracted by texting while driving. Love this one! And I think each and every one of those intexticated people should be stopped, pulled out of their cars, their vehicles should be impounded and they should be charged a HUGE fee to get them back.

Sexting--sending sexually explicit pictures by cellphone. I actually knew this one, but that’s because I watch Law & Order.

Freemium--a business model in which some basic services are provided for free.

Funemployed--people who take advantage of newly unemployed status to have fun or pursue other interests.

Birthers–the conspiracy theorists challenging President Barack Obama's U.S. birth certificate.

Choice mom--a woman who chooses to be a single mother.

Deleb--a dead celebrity. Love this one, too. Says so much! And isn't it true...we hear more about them after they're gone than we ever did while they were alive, as if being dead suddenly makes them so special.

Tramp stamp--referrs to a tattoo on the lower back, usually on a woman. Oh, how true!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Huge Science Fiction Romance Giveaway!

Hi everyone!

It's that time of year again, time for massive book giveaways online!

Yay holidays!

Head on over to the Galaxy Express for the SFR Holiday Blitz.

Twelve different blogs have joined forces for a massive 30 book giveaway. Stroll through all the connected links, leave a message and be part of the frenzy. It's a lot of fun.

I've donated two signed copies of Beyond the Rain, but there is a treasure trove of books being given away.

Have fun everyone!

Jess

Friday, December 4, 2009

Black Friday....where I was LAST week.

It has been a week since the Black Friday insanity. How many of you were out by 4 a.m.? 5? 6? My mother and I got to Walmart around 6:20 a.m.--not that crazy for me since I am up by 6 pretty much every morning anyway. What was insane was 1.) the line to get in...Yes, they were keeping people from entering because the store was over capacity and 2.) the complete lack of deals.

The second is what annoyed me. In the past there have been bins of things like DVDs and bargain video games sitting in the aisles. Not this year, and the one thing I really came for was already sold out. Oh, and the line!! That may actually have been the problem. It was so long it wrapped around the store touching about every aisle. You couldn't get through it or around it. This completely blocked any real shopping.

We left empty handed and headed to Target.
Target was better. The line was easy to stomach and there were a FEW sales. I won't say deals because I really don't think you could use that term fairly, BUT on checkout we did get a rebate gift card (mine was $10). That was nice.

From there we headed to Toys 'r us (them of the accidental double charging--anyone get hit with that?), Barnes and Noble (We actually got there and realized it was before 9 a.m. We had to come back.) and JoAnn's Fabrics. All said and done, I got a lot of presents, but I did not feel like I got any real deals and I really felt like merchants left money on the table by not having good sales and not having enough stock.

What about you? Did you hit Black Friday deals? How about Cyber Monday? How do you feel about the Christmas spending season so far?

Thursday, December 3, 2009

The Joy of Reading

Okay, I'll admit it...I get bored easily. Once I read that someone who finds themselves in that situation frequently has a "small" mind. If that's truly the case, then mine must be about the size of a walnut! With my lack of mobility over the past few weeks, I've had to face my boredom repeatedly. (It's amazing how much of what we do requires bending, lifting, and stooping!!) I've also had to face that Vicodin and creativity don't go hand in hand. (It's hard to be creative when said creativity is a little on the foggy side, so spending a lot of time writing hasn't been too much of an option either.)

So how have I been amusing myself?? Well, I've watched movies; sewed (at last count I'm up to ten throw pillows); done as much house cleaning as I can; and read. A LOT! Sci Fi/Fantasy; Romance; Mystery; Anthologies...C.J. Box; Nora Roberts; Elizabeth Peters; Bill Bryson; Jim Butcher. I've borrowed anything that I could get my hands on, plus made a trip to the bookstore to add to my supply. As a result, instead of being hemmed in by four walls, I've spent time via these books in Colorado, 19th Century England, Alera, and right now, I'm following the intrepid Vicki Bliss and her art thief (reformed) boyfriend, Sir John Tregarth, around Europe and Egypt as they try and discover just who stole Tutankhamon's mummy.

I've also, from a writer's perspective, spent time thinking about what makes these books special and so entertaining to me. They're all very different. For example, in a love scene, Nora Roberts gets right to it, if you know what I mean, where as Elizabeth Peters only "alludes" to what happens between the hero and heroine, yet I love both of these authors. So is it the characters? The settings? The snappy dialogue? The turn of a phrase? I don't know...I wish I did...all I know is that each one has helped turn what could've been a long, boring day into something interesting.

How about you? Have you ever considered why your favorite books are "favorites"? What is it about a particular read that makes you sad when you reach the words, "The End"?

That's it for this week...time to go catch up with Vicki and John!!! Happy reading and have a good one!

Best,
Shirley

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

On Being (Any One of) Me

There’s a lot to be said for having multiple personalities.


That is, if you’re a writer!


As an author, I’ve had a chance to write both historical and contemporary romance (as Constance Laux and Connie Lane), YA horror (I was Connie Laux and Zoe Daniels for those gigs), and even a book for kids (written under the name of an oh-so-famous children’s author).


I’ve also had the chance to write two very different mystery series. Of course, under two different names.


You’ve read about my Pepper Martin mysteries here on the blog. They’re the ones I write as Casey Daniels. They’re set in Cleveland, and they feature a heroine who works in a cemetery and solves mysteries for the ghosts there. They are (if I say so myself) smart, sassy and have just enough woo-woo in them to keep readers coming back for more.


But what I don’t talk about as often is the other mystery series I write. They’re called the Cooking Class mysteries and the latest, Murder Has a Sweet Tooth, is brand-spanking-new out this week.


These mysteries are more traditional cozies. They feature a heroine named Annie who is far less feisty and trendy than ol’ Pepper. In fact, in one of the books, Annie confesses that she loves lots and lots of color in her life–as long as it’s all some shade of beige.


Sweet Tooth is the fifth book in the series, following Cooking Up Murder, Murder on the Menu, Dead Men Don’t Get the Munchies and Dying for Dinner. In this installment of Annie’s adventures, she’s planning her wedding to Jim, the Scottish hunk who owns the pub/restaurant where she works. But even though Annie is head over heels in love with Jim, she can’t help feeling jealous of her new women friends who have the lives of perfect suburban wives. Perfect homes. Perfect children. Perfect husbands.


It’s enough to make any bride-to-be feel as if she’s getting short changed.


Until somebody is murdered–and Annie has to solve what could just be the perfect crime!


Like a lot of cooking-themed mysteries, the Cooking Class mysteries include recipes. Here’s one from Murder Has a Sweet Tooth for you to enjoy for the holidays!


Happily-Ever-After Fried Mars Bars


1 Mars (or Milky Way) bar per person
1 cup white flour
½ cup corn flower
1 pinch baking soda
milk or beer
oil for deep frying


Chill the candy bar in the refrigerator. Mix the flours and baking soda together. Add milk or beer until the batter is the consistency of thin cream. Heat the oil until a small piece of bread dropped in browns in a few seconds. Don’t allow the oil to burn. Remove wrapper from the candy bar. Coat the bar with batter. Carefully lower candy bar into hot oil and fry until golden brown. Can be served topped with whipped cream.


Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Biker dogs in trouble

As a lot of you know, I write about a gang of geriatric biker witches. And there's also a dog in the books - he rides Harleys too.

I learned everything I know about Harley riding dogs from the real-life bikers who have been so generous with their stories and their time. These biker dog owners are some of the most friendly, generous people I've met. You can read more about them here.

This morning, I heard from Jesse, who is head of the Biker Dogs Motorcycle Club. One of their members is being unfairly targeted for riding with his dog. It's sad and it's wrong. I told him I'd pass the word and maybe somebody knows somebody who can help. Here's what's going on:

Hello,
This is an appeal to anyone who might be able to help avert a sad and totally unnecessary
injustice about to befall a nice person and his special dog. This is not the typical story or appeal. It is longer than we wished, but a number of facts must be known to appreciate this situation. Although this involves low-level bureaucratic harassment, a good man’s unusual mission in an unusual life could be crushed on December 10th, just as we enter what should be a happy holiday season.

For decades, Jeremiah Gerbracht and a dynasty of amazing canine companions have safely
ridden hundreds of thousands of miles on his dog-friendly Harley-Davidson. The area in front of him where the dog rides is modified for the dog’s comfort and safety, and any area which gets hot is shielded. The canine half of this partnership, Sir Davidson, is impressively at home on the motorcycle. Without suggesting that a dog on a motorcycle is a good fit for riders in general, Jeremiah has unquestionably proven his expert ability to safely transport his best friend. Riding down the street in black clothes and a black leather top-hat, resembling a biker Santa giving a street-level sleigh ride to a big white German Shepherd, he has become a beloved urban figure. He has even been featured in Ripley’s Believe it or Not. When not in motion, he and Sir Davidson are invariably surrounded by curious and delighted onlookers.

For several years leading up to 1999, as Jeremiah routinely attracted the attention of ticket-minded police officers, he repeatedly received and prevailed over traffic citations. He demonstrated time after time that, counter to the impressions of the officers, he was not in fact breaking the law. As a result, he gained some officers’ respect, even riding at their invitation in police-sponsored events. He also incurred some resentment for his repeated victories. In 1999, in apparent retaliation for his consistent knockouts of the city in the ticket bouts, he was charged with a misdemeanor violation of City Municipal code 53.35, which states:

SEC. 53.35. ANIMALS – TRANSPORTATION OF.
No person shall transport or carry on the running board of any motor vehicle or
outside of the portion of any motor vehicle designed for passengers or of the tonneau or body
thereof any animal unless such animal is protected by a framework or other device which will
prevent such animal from falling off or being thrown from such motor vehicle during the
operation thereof.

In confirmation of his previous proofs of innocence, he won this court case as well. In short, he
demonstrated that the design of his Harley, in conjunction with the position of the dog and his own body satisfied the law, and the judge agreed that he was not in violation, as usual.

Jeremiah was back on the road.. His own dog being a registered service dog, Mr. Gerbracht had combined his interests and become a picturesque advocate for people with service dogs. Jeremiah, who knows the statutes, helps people with problems resulting from many citizens’ and law-enforcement officers’ lack of specific knowledge of the legal rights of people relying on service animals.


Jeremiah and Sir Davidson’s current predicament began only a few months ago when a
seemingly friendly police officer, met in the course of Jeremiah’s service animal advocacy, either did not believe or disliked the advocate’s established right to ride with his dog. He reported Jeremiah to the DMV, citing inaccurate and negative claims regarding Mr. Gerbracht’s health. Subsequently, Jeremiah received and complied with demands by the DMV to submit proof of good health and to re-take their vision test and the written portion of the driving test. He did, and passed all of the tests with flying colors. With the successful completion of these requests, he thought his problems were over.

However, the worst was yet to come—

Not able to subvert the decision of the courts in any other way, the DMV now sent a demand to re-take the driving test itself---incredibly, with his dog on board. Although the DMV’s entire claim against the advocate is that this is not a proper activity, despite many past victories and a judge’s decision to the contrary, they are now demanding that he take the test in violation of what they themselves erroneously claim is the law. In an irony which should not be overlooked, the very notice to appear for the test appointment states that no pets or passengers are allowed in the vehicle during the test.

It can be reasonably assumed that demanding the test with the dog is a desperate last ploy(they apparently, like the city, don’t like losing) to take away Jeremiah’s license to operate his Harley, his only means of transport and more importantly, the core and fiber of his whole life. He is the man with the dog on the Harley. He is already suffering greatly with this frivolous but sharp axe hanging over the simple life he has built. Petty bureaucrats are dutifully pushing a false premise to its sad conclusion, unless this test can be stopped.

Not only would imposing the test with the dog onboard be in violation of their own test rules, the test course itself is an environment filled with distractions not found in real life and will no doubt especially be a circus due to the novelty of the dog on the bike. Additionally, the course is not designed for motorcycles as large as Jeremiah’s. Riders often substitute a smaller bike when facing this challenging track, but Jeremiah can’t use a substitute, as no other bike has been designed for Sir Davidson’s safety. Even if the test were perfectly executed, the scoring is not objective, and could be used unfairly against the man who dared oppose the agency. Forcing him to take the test is a set-up for failure.

The test is a trap into which Jeremiah and Davidson must not step.

Here is the appeal: Jeremiah and Sir Davidson need someone who can short-circuit this dirty trick attempt to overrule the courts and beat him down. Is there anyone with the power to persuade the original complaining officer, the DMV or even the Governor that this has gone on long enough, and that Mr. Gerbracht has done more than enough to demonstrate that he is legally in the right and is the best at what he does?

It would be ideal to nip this in the bud before it is necessary to involve the courts, for which
there is no budget, but it may be that an attorney who sees the injustice would come forward to help. This would, of necessity, require a pro bono effort, not easy to find. Jeremiah and Sir Davidson need help, right away. The test is Dec. 10th. Anyone with ideas or the connections or the ability to help prevent the onrushing and life-crushing sabotage of this good and caring man can contact us at [I'm pulling the phone number, but if you know someone who can help, email me at angie @ angiefox. com].

Thanks for reading this lengthy appeal.

And I know this is small potatoes compared to what is happening here, but anyone who can help will get the entire Accidental Demon Slayer series, including the books that haven't come out yet.

Thanks for reading.
Angie