A handful of links that caught my eye:

Duranna Durgin’s great post about her recent performance weekend. I love love love how she figured out what the Issue was for Dart and Connery on the day. Every now and then you do figure out what a dog’s Issue is in a particular circumstance and then ever after you are more willing to believe that your dog really does have a reason for his (her) weird behavior.

I remember once — this was a very obvious Issue — early on in Pippa’s performance career, when we were working on her simple Novice title and she was busy NQ’ing in a different way in every trial, she was doing great on this one day. Only the judge, who was ninety years older than God, crept creakily up to her on the Stand for Exam. That is an exercise where you tell your dog to Stand and walk away and then the judge comes over and touches her on the head and runs a hand down her back and then he walks away. Then you come back and walk around behind your dog until you’re back at heel position. Shifting a foot won’t disqualify a dog, but jumping on the judge or sitting will.

Anyway, this judge creakily bent down over her like a very strange robot rather than a normal person — he had jingling keys in his pocket, too — and Pippa was so weirded out she tucked herself down into a sit, which is a submissive thing to do. I was so mad! At the judge, who couldn’t help being old but could have got rid of those keys, and at myself for putting Pippa into that situation. It took some time to re-solidify her Stand for Exam after that.

So, anyway, good job by Duranna’s beagles, qualifying despite being Looked At. Nice pictures, too, if you click through.

Oh, hey, look, Brandy has an early review up for Merrie Haskell’s CASTLE BEHIND THORNS. So glad she loved it!

The story here is wonderful. I love political intrigue and there is quite a bit of that, but most of all it is a tale of friendship, perseverance, and the power of forgiveness. What I loved about the forgiveness aspect is that it is not about the power to affect the forgiven, but the forgiver, that release that comes from letting your anger and bitterness go so that it no longer consumes you. The way Haskell wove this into a thoroughly original retelling of a fairy tale makes this my favorite “Sleeping Beauty” retelling of all time.

I haven’t read many (any?) Sleeping Beauty retellings other than this one, but in fact I have another one on my wishlist right now (WHILE BEAUTY SLEPT by Blackwell). But for me, regardless of the others I may read, I believe CASTLE BEHIND THORNS is going to be like McKinley’s BEAUTY — definitive.

I have to admit that I find Slushpile Hell hilarious. There isn’t a new entry all that often, which is probably reassuring, but it always makes me laugh when I remember to check in. I mostly don’t even feel guilty for laughing.

Nathan Bransford did a poll: how do you plan to publish your WIP? 76% of the respondents are considering self-publication. For every single person who is thinking about self-publishing, I suggest you check out Lindsay Buroker’s site. I found it because Sherwood Smith recommended her books; I have THE EMPEROR’S EDGE on my Kindle now (I haven’t read it yet, but here’s Sherwood Smith’s post. Buroker’s experience as a self-pub-only author is worth checking out.

Okay! I’m off to transplant shrubs and write the rest of today’s pages of my WIP.

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