Road trips and the Warm N’ Fuzzy

Oh, yes. I’m well aware that I’ve been a silent lil bugger for some time now. I wish I could say it’s because I’ve been churning out novel after novel, but the truth is I’ve been working on various projects both relating to the ole pen-monkey job, and not related to it.

And, of course, every now and then those two things get to cross over.

With my first manuscript, GUARDIAN, out to agents, I’ve started dancing a bit with other works on my shelf. One of these is a horror/suspense young adult novel with its roots in a Native American legend set in New England. I began working on it around this time last year, just playing around with the idea. Now I’ve dusted it off and hope to get it roaring to life.

Or rather howling. As part of my work on this novel, I’ve done quite a bit of on-site research. One of those sites is an amazing place up in Northern Massachusetts.

For those who don’t follow me on Twitter (I’m eyeing YOU), I’m a big wolf fan. You’ll run your feet a nice raw red if you try searching for a bigger fan, in fact. But do try.

This past weekend I decided to bring the most recent addition to my life, a lovely girly-face by the name of Melissa, up to one of my favorite places in the world. Wolf Hollow in Ipswich. I’ve been up there myself a handful of times, and I decided it was finally time I brought someone else along so I could stop being the creepy fellow enjoying the wolves from the back row.

See, Wolf Hollow is a special preserve set up exclusively for wolves. They have several large enclosures that, at the time of this writing, house ten wolves all together. Primarily they work to educate the public, opening themselves up on weekends for demonstration. They bring out the wolf pack, interact with them and explain that pretty much every myth you’ve ever heard about the wolf is 100% Grade-A bull plop. The smear campaign against the wolf has been about as masterful as they get. Needless to say, my novel features wolves far away from the villain role, as they should be in any story if it hopes to be accurate.

It’s been a while since I’ve seen my favorite pups in the world. But I made the mistake of taking someone awesome up there to see them without realizing the very imminent consequences of doing so.

Sigh. Melissa is the girl your mother warns you about.

This is Argus.

And at 16 months old, he’s my adopted wolf! He’s definitely a confident fellow, and more than a bit of a trouble maker. Which meant he’d fit in well with Melissa and I. Melissa donated to Wolf Hollow to adopt the pup for me.

A surprise that she hinted would be “warm and fuzzy”. She’s a tricksy one, precious.

So, I bring this up for three reasons.

The first, to demonstrate that while I’ve been wandering about with a crazy, wolf-adopting girl, she’s pretty damn awesome. One of the best pieces of advice I can give a hopeful writer (with my massive amount of experience…) is that you can’t just lock yourself away and stab at a keyboard. If you don’t go out and experience life, every word you write is pure fantasy, regardless of your genre.

The second, to show that one of the best parts about being a writer, is the places you get to go to do your research. Sometimes you need to just watch a wolf run around to get a scene to come together in your mind like the most difficult game of Tetris ever. For you kiddies, Tetris was the Angry Birds of my younger years…

The third, is that there are so many ways you can pay these places back. Your writing research can take you to corners of the world you’d never think to find yourself. Luckily, places like Wolf Hollow take donations.

If you have a spare moment, and y’know, a heart. You should stop by their page to donate a few bucks. It’s an entirely non-profit, volunteer organization and they do some amazing things.

And if you’re anywhere in New England, make the trek there. It’s well worth it just for the chance to howl with a couple of timber wolves.

And tell Argus that his adopted dad says Hi. 🙂

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