Thursday, December 8, 2016

Don't Let Go by Dora Hiers


Call ASAP. Bad news about Bruiser.
 
We’d caught WiFi during an excursion into a Spanish medieval city, the third day into our cruise. Just a snatch. Long enough to read our son’s frantic message.
 
Bruiser, our almost thirteen-year-old golden retriever, was staying at “the resort.” Twelve duplex cabins, sporting indoor sleeping quarters and a private outdoor patio for each of the twenty-four camper dogs, surrounded a lake blanketing acres of land. Fresh air and plenty of space for the dogs to move, drastically different from the typical cramped indoor kennels where Bruiser once chewed all the fur from his tail. The kennel workers adored him and he loved visiting, never came home with a naked tail, so we drove the four hour round trip for years without complaint.
 
On a sunny afternoon while napping on his outdoor patio, our beloved pet slipped into eternity. No warning signs. He still took mile-long walks. Still scarfed down his food as if he wouldn’t get another meal. Still trudged up the stairs every night for bed. Just a few months ago, the vet pronounced him in great health for his age. 
 
He died in his happy place. But I wasn’t ready.
 
I expected to be there for him. To give him a hug and tell him what a good boy he was. To scratch his ears and rub his smooth belly, to tell him how much we loved him and how much joy and laughter he brought into our lives. 
 
No more stink eye when his food dish wasn't filled on time. No more warning dinner guests not to leave their napkin on their lap because the sneak would circle the table in stealth mode, then swipe a napkin or snag food from a hand, lightning-quick. No more huffs of frustration when we told him to go back to sleep, that it wasn't time to wake up yet. 
 
Bruiser grew up as a playmate to our two sons, then considered himself an only child when they moved on. He was my fierce protector, yet the big lug cowered in our walk-in shower during thunderstorms and fireworks. Wherever we went, he wanted to go too, and two-thirds of the back seat belonged to him, didn’t matter if someone was already sitting in that spot. And elevators? Forget it! The first time he rode in one, he landed, belly on the floor, all four legs stretched out, and we never enticed him into another one. Bruiser was full of personality.
 
One day I will be able to think about Bruiser with a smile. But not now. Not when I miss him so much and the pain from the loss still aches. When I dropped him off at the resort and called his name, he galloped back for another hug. If I’d have known that would be our last, I’d have held on tight, not let go. I’ll always remember and cherish that sweet, joyful doggie face.
 
Something, as writers, we’d like readers to do, right? To cherish our characters. To remember our stories long after they turn the last page. So how do we accomplish that? 
 
Craft our characters with loads of personality. Just like our beloved Bruiser, our characters need traits that readers identify with, predicaments that they relate to, and a journey that they won’t be ready or willing to leave. 
 
Make our characters laugh and cry and feel like real people, and those ornery characters who wrangled us away from the path we intended for them will tug ambivalent readers right into the pages of your book.
 
Hug your reader and don’t let go. You don’t know how long they’ll be with you, so give readers plenty of “aww” moments, scenes that’ll grip them and make them hang on tight for the entire ride. When the journey’s over, hopefully those characters you spent hours crafting, those stories you poured your whole heart into, that message you prayed over, will connect with a reader and remain with them long after the last page. 
 
“You’re blessed when you feel you’ve lost what is most dear to you.

Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you.” Matthew 5:4 (The Message)

I’d love to know the last book that stayed with you and why?

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Blurb for Christmas on Mistletoe Mountain:

A snow storm. A warm cozy fire. Two hearts that desperately need grace and healing and a Christmas miracle. 
 
After college, Kane Kirkland returned home to Mistletoe Mountain a changed man, fifty pounds lighter and a new Christian. Six years later, with a successful real estate career and a fresh boost of confidence, all he wants for Christmas is a chance at love with longtime crush Sydney. Something happened to his friend while he was away. Something dark and life-altering ripped the joy from her spirit. And he intends to find out what…
 
After a disastrous relationship unraveled Sydney Camden’s life, broken and devastated, she gave up all hope for her happily-ever-after. Those silly fantasies belonged only in romance novels, not in real life. Besides, who has time for love? Her life is crazy busy caring for a disabled father and volunteering at Grace Nest, a home for pregnant teens. But then Kane turns up the heat. The gentle giant has always attracted her, but the idea of loving and losing her friend terrifies her. Because when he learns about her hidden sin, surely he’ll vanish from her life forever. 
 
A snowstorm forces them together and unleashes their fears. Kane worries if Syd still sees him as the overweight kid from their past and questions whether a future together is God’s will or his most treasured dream. Syd wrestles the demon of lies as she relives horrendous memories. 
 
Grace Nest…where broken hearts heal, chains are loosened, and hope is restored. Where love finds its way home during Christmas.
 
Purchase Link: http://amzn.to/2f01m9p

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Bio: Dora believes that a person should love what they do or choose to do something else. She’s doing exactly what makes her heart sing, and considers every day a gift. When she takes a break from cranking out heart racing, God-gracing romances, Dora adores reading, chowing down on her hubby’s lip-smacking home-smoked ribs, and sipping coffee on a mountain cabin deck. Life’s too short to be stuck in traffic, to drink bad coffee, or to read books with a sad ending. Dora and her real life hero make their home in North Carolina, but with a world full of amazing places to explore, that’s only a landing point.

Come hang out with Dora on Fiction Faith & Foodies, TwitterFacebook, Pinterest and Instagram. She loves hearing from reader friends at DoraHiers@gmail.com. Dora also writes sweet romance that sizzles under the pen name, Tori Kayson.

21 comments:

  1. Oh, Dora, I'm so sorry. I know how hard it is to lose those four-legged children and Bruiser was such a sweetheart! It makes me sad too.

    It's good to have you back for a visit on Seriously Write!

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    1. Thank you, Sandy. It's been so tough. Sorry I had to cancel on you this week. Can we do after the holidays? Hope you have a wonderful Christmas!

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  2. Oh Dora - I cried while reading this. Treasure your memories and know Bruiser had a wonderful life full of love and care - something so many furry babies never have. Blessings,

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    1. Thank you, Loves to Read, I will! I can't imagine loving an animal more. Thanks for visiting and commenting. Have a fabulous holiday! :)

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  3. I'm sorry! It's so difficult to lose a beloved dog. They love us so well - better than most people do. I'm glad you have such fond memories of Bruiser and that you shared them here.

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    1. You're so right, Melinda. He loved us well.
      Wishing you the most relaxing, pain-free Christmas season ever, my friend.

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  4. I'm so sorry, Dora. This just breaks my heart. I know how much loved sweet Bruiser. But you did your best for him and he loved you just as much. Yes, cherish those memories!

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    1. Thank you, Angie. My heart's still raw.
      Hope you and Honey enjoy a blessed Christmas, sweet friend. xo

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  5. Oh Dora, my heart has cracked big time. Even though I never met your baby boy, I just loved pictures of him and stories of his antics. Well, I am sure there's a choir of pup-angels gonna sing mighty loud on Christmas Eve. Sniff. After we lost the last of our three "babies" (Labradors), the Golden next door (who had been their best buddy but was quite a bit younger) became my adopted pup. She'd spend the night often, and come to the front door wanting a treat. So I kept doggie treats on hand forever. Well, early lat summer, her time came. I did make it to the vet to say good-bye and give her one last hug. And leave a piece of my heart behind. I think Bruiser and Bryce are having quite a romp at the rainbow bridge today. Love you, Dora.

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    1. Now you have me crying! I can only imagine a heavenly choir of pup angels. bless. But I do picture him bounding through meadows of spring flowers (even though it's winter), that sweet smile on his face. I'm so glad you were able to make it to the vet to hug your sweet baby and say good-bye. They steal a huge chunk of our hearts, don't they? Love you back!!

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  6. Dora, your post broke my heart. I'm so sorry you lost your Bruiser. He was blessed to have you and Ernie. No matter their age we are never ready to let go.

    He will always own a piece of your heart. Hugs and blessings.

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    1. You're right, Terri. I don't think age matters. You're never quite prepared to say good-bye. Give your westie a big hug from me.

      Thank you so much for inviting me back to Seriously Write. Merry Christmas!

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  7. Dora, this brought tears to my eyes. So sorry for your loss. Thank you for sharing your heart. It's so good to have you return to Seriously Write, even if it's for a short visit.

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    1. I hope it also brought a smile to your face, Dawn. That's what I was going for, anyway. :)
      Thank you! Wishing you a wonderful holiday. Hope you'll be able to spend some time with those precious grandkiddos. How adorable! xo

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  8. Oh Dora, my heart is breaking for you. I'm so sorry. No doubt Bruiser brought you and your family years of joys and in return, you gave him a wonderful life. RIP Bruiser. xo

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    1. Absolutely! You're so right. He was most definitely pampered. But he deserved it. He gave us more joy than we could have ever imagined. Thank you, Jill. <3

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  9. Oh, Dora, I'm so sorry. I can barely type because of the tears.

    A year ago we had fifteen minutes to make a decision about surgery for our Fenway because he had developed sepsis after the first surgery. As we were making the decision, they informed us he also had cancer. We went ahead with the surgery because we just weren't ready to let go.
    A year later, post-chemo, it's still touch and go, and I know exactly how you feel about wanting to have been there. I'm giving Fenny an extra hug and scratch in Bruiser's honor tonight.

    (((hugs to you)))

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    1. Oh, Cate, what a blessing to have extra time with your sweet furbaby! Give Fenny a hug from me too! <3

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  10. My seeet, precious friend. My heart aches. Big hugs and much love. Our 17 year old kitty crossed the rainbow bridge the Sunday after Thanksgiving. I understand your grief. Our fur-babies are family members. 💔

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    1. Oh, Marianne, I'm so, so sorry! They ARE family. Sending hugs and love for your loss, dear friend. xo

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