Nov 23, 2010

Characters Taking Over by Hazel Statham

If anyone had told me that a character could take over a book and make it his own, I would not have believed them. However, I would now have to admit that this did indeed happen. Dominic, Earl of Vale was a very strong character who just strode onto the page and more or less wrote the book himself. He was a fun character to write and I thoroughly enjoyed the experience.

Dominic was so determined to tell his story that even though we vacationed in Orlando, he insisted I pay attention and continue with his story. It was hurricane season, the rain came in torrents and the trees outside our hotel room were horizontal. My husband slept and I wrote.

His is a fun story about an unconventional courtship and unbelievably needed little more than tweaking after the first draft. I have never been so fortunate again. THE PORTRAIT came very close to it, however, and again, the first draft proved quite satisfying with only minor changes being made thereafter.

I have been lucky and the stories continue to come. All my characters are dear to me and I have great pleasure in telling their stories. If some never get past the first draft, then so be it; they have been a joy to write.



Hazel Statham lives in England and has been writing on and off since she was fifteen. Initially she was influenced by Austen, the Brontës, and Sabatini but when she turned seventeen, Georgette Heyer opened up the romance and elegance of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. She immediately knew she had found her eras and wanted nothing more than to re-create them in her work.

Her latest book is the Regency romance novel, The Portrait, released by Avalon Books in August 2010.

Hazel lives with her husband, Terry, and a beautiful Labrador named Mollie. Apart from writing, her other ruling passion is animals, and until recently she acted as treasurer for an organization that raised money for animal charities.

You can visit her online at and her blog at

Nov 22, 2010

Pantsers and Plotters by Hazel Statham

Authors are divided into two groups, the planners and the pansters. Me? I’m definitely a panster. Of course, I know in which direction I want the story to go but, apart from a vague idea, I just go with the flow. For me, it’s like listening in on private conversations and just watching as the story unfolds before me. Quite often, I hear words coming out of my characters’ mouths that I never even dreamed of and frequently the story takes a completely different direction. This doesn’t cause a problem and, on the whole, usually enriches the plot.

An example of this is that I never knew Stephan, a character in MY DEAREST FRIEND, had an illegitimate daughter until the sergeant confided it to Stephan’s brother. It came as quite a surprise but added yet another element to the story. I write, primarily, for my own amusement and don’t write to a formula so my characters are allowed to do or say anything they wish. Luckily, this usually works and adds to the enjoyment of writing the book.

The first draft is where I develop the story and characters. Refinement comes later. I am never completely satisfied with the first, second or indeed, third draft, but there has to come a point when you let it go and, for good or bad, allow it to fly.



Hazel Statham lives in England and has been writing on and off since she was fifteen. Initially she was influenced by Austen, the Brontës, and Sabatini but when she turned seventeen, Georgette Heyer opened up the romance and elegance of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. She immediately knew she had found her eras and wanted nothing more than to re-create them in her work.

Her latest book is the Regency romance novel, The Portrait, released by Avalon Books in August 2010.

Hazel lives with her husband, Terry, and a beautiful Labrador named Mollie. Apart from writing, her other ruling passion is animals, and until recently she acted as treasurer for an organization that raised money for animal charities.

You can visit her online at and her blog at

Nov 19, 2010

Writing for Children by Cheryl Malandrinos

I’m afraid after my first two posts you might start thinking writing for children is a cake walk compared to writing for adults. It’s not. In some ways, it can be harder.

I don’t know how it is for you, but I haven’t physically been a child for many years. Writing Little Shepherd required me to think like a five-year-old boy. Just in case you’re wondering, I’ve never been a boy.

Luckily, fear and anxiety is something I am familiar with. I could go over my long list of phobias, but that would be boring. Suffice to say, imagining how frightened and anxious Obed would get at the thought of leaving his flock of sheep alone when he could hear wolves howling in the distance, isn’t a stretch. I won’t go into my backyard at night for fear I might disturb one of our many wild creatures enjoying a late snack.

What challenged me was how to present the story to a young audience so they could relate to Obed, while giving them an understanding of the true meaning of Christmas.

In order to do that, Obed’s father got added into the story. Father is full of wisdom; he understands Obed’s fears and he knows something Obed doesn’t. He doesn’t share what he knows with Obed, but Father’s sense of security provides Obed with what he needs to decide to join the others on the journey. Certainly his father wouldn’t mislead him. Children expect their parents to guide them. Obed is no different.

Next I needed to bring in that sense of awe Obed felt when meeting the Holy Family. It’s like the animals expected the shepherds, and then when Obed finds everything is just as the angel had told them, he’s not sure what to make of it, but he feels reassured. His anxiety over his sheep, however, is still there.

Most important, when Little Shepherd ends, Obed reflects on what has happened that night, and especially on what he discovers when he returns to his flock. Children need to decipher things for themselves. They are individuals who may end up seeing things differently than we do. It’s what makes us all so special.

Since this is a children’s picture book, the need not to over-describe everything and to allow the artwork to visually share that part of the story is important. It’s the one area where I feel I could have done better.

See, that perfectionist is never happy.



I hope that one of your first drafts becomes that first book you are proud of. It’s an amazing journey. With practice and perseverance, you can find out how amazing it is too!

Cheryl Malandrinos is a freelance writer and editor. A regular contributor for Writer2Writer, her articles focus on increasing productivity through time management and organization. A founding member of Musing Our Children, Ms. Malandrinos is also Editor in Chief of the group’s quarterly newsletter, Pages & Pens.

Cheryl is a Tour Coordinator for Pump Up Your Book, a book reviewer, and blogger. Little Shepherd is her first children’s book. Ms. Malandrinos lives in Western Massachusetts with her husband and two young daughters. She also has a son who is married.

You can visit Cheryl online at or the Little Shepherd blog at

Nov 18, 2010

From First Draft to Published by Cheryl Malandrinos

I’m back. I figured if I didn’t depress you so much yesterday that you gave up writing altogether, I could try again today.

Just kidding. Today we’re going to talk about the fun kind of first drafts—those that end up being published.

When my mind decided to change focus from writing for adults to writing for children, I knew exactly what I was going to write. Actually, I was seven chapters into what I was writing when my pastor came up with this crazy notion that I wasn’t writing a novel, I was writing a kid’s book.

Say what? Here I am killing myself to come up with 50,000 words—did I mention this was my NaNoWriMo project for that year—and my pastor comes along and says it’s a kid’s book!

I considered an unChristian, I’m a writer and you’re not, kind of response. Then I got to thinking: Hmmm, maybe it could be a kid’s book.

What would become, Little Shepherd, was born.

This first draft came easier than I thought, but that’s because I had the idea in my head for years before plotting it out. Granted, in the form it originally took—a Christian adult novel—I struggled with it; but as the story of a young shepherd in the fields outside of Bethlehem on the night of Christ’s birth, from beginning to end didn’t take long. It might have been a few weeks before I was ready to show it to my critique group.

Most of them liked it, but an author friend pointed out to me that it lacked conflict. It was nice that the young shepherd named Obed got a chance to see the newborn King, but wasn’t there more to his story?

This is where “what if?” works nicely. What if Obed just got entrusted with his first flock? Would his sense of responsibility for those sheep be heightened? What if he heard wolves howling in the distance? Would he be as eager to leave his sheep if he thought the wolves would race in and eat them? Despite his desire to do exactly as the angel had told him, wouldn’t Obed be juggling his flock’s safety against going to Bethlehem?

Once that conflict was added in, the story was ready to be seen by the eyes of a publisher. I feel blessed that Guardian Angel Publishing decided to contract it.

This time, the first draft made it to the right end.



Cheryl Malandrinos is a freelance writer and editor. A regular contributor for Writer2Writer, her articles focus on increasing productivity through time management and organization. A founding member of Musing Our Children, Ms. Malandrinos is also Editor in Chief of the group’s quarterly newsletter, Pages & Pens.

Cheryl is a Tour Coordinator for Pump Up Your Book, a book reviewer, and blogger. Little Shepherd is her first children’s book. Ms. Malandrinos lives in Western Massachusetts with her husband and two young daughters. She also has a son who is married.

You can visit Cheryl online at or the Little Shepherd blog at

Nov 17, 2010

Those First Drafts by Cheryl Malandrinos

I think everyone has one of those first drafts. You know the one I’m talking about. It’s the idea that you got all hyped up about because it was going to be your breakout novel. You sweated over it; fed your family with fast food and frozen dinners for months just so you could finish it, and as soon as “The End” was typed, a huge sigh of relief flowed out from in between your lips.

Then you did what all the professionals tell you do with your first draft—tuck it away for a bit so you can look at it with fresh eyes.

Problem is during that time you realize maybe it isn’t that great of an idea. You get a chance to think about how weak the plot is and how your characters are nothing more than stereotypes. You start thinking how stupid it is that you even attempted to write anything in the first place. You stink. Why would anyone want to read the drivel you tossed together and dare to call a manuscript?

I have one of those first drafts too. I didn’t spend months working on it. It took years. I can still remember the happy dance I did when I typed, “The End.” That was five years ago and I’m still not hot to work on it.


I guess my mind changed focus. I felt called to write for children instead of an adult market. I got so far as to pull out the old manuscript this September to consider sending in the first page to be critiqued by an agent panel at a writers conference I was planning to attend. I read that first page and I saw all the weaknesses and none of the strengths; didn’t even consider that I had revised that portion over six times to make it perfect and got a thumbs-up from my own critique group.

A writing friend of mine attended the same writers conference. He had a face-to-face meeting with an agent who requested 100 consecutive pages of his manuscript. I asked him about it at church on Sunday. Guess what he’s doing?

Going over 100 pages and finding only weakness and no strengths. He’s ready to start over and revise the whole darn thing.

Is it any wonder we don’t always make it past that first draft?



Cheryl Malandrinos is a freelance writer and editor. A regular contributor for Writer2Writer, her articles focus on increasing productivity through time management and organization. A founding member of Musing Our Children, Ms. Malandrinos is also Editor in Chief of the group’s quarterly newsletter, Pages & Pens.

Cheryl is a Tour Coordinator for Pump Up Your Book, a book reviewer, and blogger. Little Shepherd is her first children’s book. Ms. Malandrinos lives in Western Massachusetts with her husband and two young daughters. She also has a son who is married.

You can visit Cheryl online at or the Little Shepherd blog at

Nov 9, 2010

On Inspiration by Mary Maddox

Take the word inspiration back to its roots: to breathe in. Writers ought to find inspiration as easy and automatic as breathing. Instead they sometimes gasp for it, a feeling that can be as terrifying as smothering – though fortunately less fatal. I have no profound secret for finding inspiration. I just know that when a story is alive inside me, the inspiration comes.

While writing the thriller that became Talion, I sometimes struggled with the character of Rad, a serial killer with a Ph.D. What kind of stuff would he think about when he wasn’t intent on stalking and killing people? One afternoon I took a break from my desk and strolled through my neighbourhood. I looked at the steep-roofed houses, pompous and silly, and thought of party hats on businessmen. Exactly the kind of snarky observation Rad might make. That detail made his character more real to me.

Another time I walked into the school where the polling station in my district was located, gazed down the drab, institutional hallways lined with doorways and lockers, and recognized the school where my hero Lu dreads coming every day. The smell of the place filled my imagination and showed me the way into Lu’s memories.

During the summer I interrupted my writing to fly to Utah and help my mother move to Charleston, Illinois, where my husband and I live. It was a hectic trip fraught with her anxiety about the move. As the movers were packing up her things, I asked one of them to borrow a roll of packing tape. The guy handed it to me and said in an offhanded, joking way, “Watch out, that stuff can rip the skin right off you.” I knew immediately the tape would have a place in Rad’s killing ritual, that he would enjoy the challenge of using it without leaving fingerprints. I could hardly wait to get home and back to writing my novel.

Inspiration is everywhere. For me the trick is keeping the story inside me alive – and breathing.



Mary Maddox grew up in Utah and California. A graduate of Knox College and the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop, she now teaches composition and literature at Eastern Illinois University.

She lives in Charleston, Illinois with her husband, film scholar Joe Heumann. Her interests include riding her horse, Tucker, and playing club and tournament Scrabble. Mary’s short stories have appeared in a number of magazines including Farmer’s Market, Yellow Silk, and The Scream Online. Her writing has been honored with awards from the Illinois Arts Council.

Talion, her debut novel, is available at as a trade paperback and at as both a paperback and a Kindle book. You can visit her at her Web site and follow her blog at

Nov 8, 2010

That Magic Moment by Mary Maddox

I get too many ideas for stories, more than I have time to write. How to choose among them? I take the ones that call to both my head and my heart.

An unusual premise might interest me, but unless it comes with a character I care about or moves toward some kind of emotional unfolding, I’ll probably let it go. For instance, I wonder what would happen if an unreasonable customer managed to get a department store clerk fired, and the desperate clerk set out for revenge. A premise like that could be developed into a story humorous or horrifying – maybe both. But neither the customer nor the clerk exists as a character in my imagination. They are little more than vehicles for malevolent motives. With effort I could make them characters, but I don’t feel compelled.

Sometimes I see people whose situation moves or intrigues me, a pair of elderly men sitting on a bench at the local mall, chatting with one another. I wonder what their lives are like. I imagine one man’s modest house and the other man’s dead wife whom he still mourns. But I don’t have a story for them. Again, I could invent a story, but I’m occupied with the stories and characters that command my imagination.

They come to me in a flash – a moment when I see the character and her journey from beginning to end and feel the overwhelming emotion that gives them meaning. I experienced a moment like that with my short story “Yubi” about a woman who falls in love with her parakeet. I knew the story would end “[ ] would love [ ] as long as she lived.” Although I hadn’t yet named her or the bird or constructed the events that would bring her to the realization. I felt its humour and pathos and love. It was a story I had to write.

The story that became my thriller Talion began with a flash – a moment when two girls make a bond of friendship, when all the distrust and blame and preconceptions that separate them give way to understanding. Despite all the room he occupies in the novel, the serial killer Rad first entered the story as a way of getting Lu and Lisa to that moment. It’s there in the last chapter of Talion, just as I imagined in that first moment.


Nov 3, 2010

Writing the First Draft by Mike Manos

The first draft of my book, GOD’S POOR, was really a very difficult job, if you can imagine that it took me four years to complete it after many re-writes. The final version for the contemporary scene was everything I hoped it would be and satisfied most of my colleagues who reviewed it.

It took me such a long time to complete the book because a lot of research was necessary. Although I am a scholar of history and archaeology, I confess the era of the first centuries of Christianity isn’t my expertise.

First, I needed the help of a Bishop, and then I had to research in murky and deep waters, a faith long ago forgotten. Legends and facts were mixed and questions aroused everywhere. The track of the great heresy of the Paulicians through the centuries was indeed unbelievably difficult. They survived till our days using different names in different countries under constant persecution by Emperors, Sultans, Patriarchs and Popes. They always pretended to have another faith. The ancestors of today’s known Bosnian Muslims were all Bogomils, a sect of the heresy of Paulicians. Even certain sects of Calvinists have been influenced by the Bogomils. As you know, Calvin was the founder of the Presbyterian Church.

I had to trace Paulicians back through the centuries in order to find their origin. Then I discovered Marcion and his teachings which give another dimension to faith. I also had to read the “Apocryfa”, the other “Gospels.” The Gospel of Thomas, which was particularly used by the sect of GOD’S POOR, is entirely different from any other. Dualistic and under the influence of Gnostics, it gives the reader excellent food for thought. What about the “blasphemy”stating that Apostle Thomas was the twin brother of Jesus?

If the heresy was capable of finding its way till our days and their leader was capable of doing miracles, then you have a story. And if you add Jerusalem, you have an extraordinary novel that mixes reality with legend. And don’t forget HAARP, the end is never certain.

I am almost sure that the reader will never be the same person, same that happened to me I confess.



Mike Manos is professor of Economics and a scholar of History and archaeology. He is also a poet and a freelance writer.

God’s Poor is his first novel.

Nov 1, 2010

Rose in a Storm

About Jon Katz


Jon Katz has written nineteen books—seven novels and twelve works of nonfiction—including Soul of a Dog, Izzy & Lenore, Dog Days, A Good Dog, and The Dogs of Bedlam Farm. He has written for The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Slate, Rolling Stone, Wired, and the AKC Gazette. He has worked for CBS News, The Boston Globe, The Washington Post, and The Philadelphia Inquirer. Katz is also a photographer and the author of a children’s book, Meet the Dogs of Bedlam Farm. He lives on Bedlam Farm in upstate New York with the artist Maria Heinrich; his dogs, Rose, Izzy, Lenore, and Frieda; and his barn cats, Mother and Minnie. Rose in a Storm is his latest book. You can visit Jon Katz’s site at

About Rose in a Storm

Rose in a Storm

From New York Times bestselling author Jon Katz comes a moving and powerful novel, the first one inspired by life on his celebrated Bedlam Farm—and perceptively told from the point of view of Rose, a dedicated working dog.

Rose is determined and focused, keeping the sheep out of danger and protecting the other creatures on the farm she calls home. But of all those she’s looked after since coming to the farm as a puppy, it is Sam, the farmer, whom she watches most carefully.

Awoken one cold midwinter night during lambing season, Rose and Sam struggle into the snowy dark to do their work. The ever observant Rose has seen a change in her master of late, ever since Sam’s wife disappeared one day. She senses something else in the air as well: A storm is coming, but not like any of the ones she’s seen over the years. This storm feels different, bigger, more foreboding.

When an epic blizzard hits the region, it will take all of Rose’s resolve, resourcefulness, and courage to help Sam save the farm and the creatures who live there.

Jon Katz consulted with animal behavior scientists to create his unique and convincing vision of the world as seen through the eyes of a dog. Poignant, thrilling, and beautifully wrought, Rose in a Storm is a wonderfully original and powerful tale from a gifted storyteller.

Read an Excerpt!

Chapter One

Inside the farmhouse Rose lifted her head and pricked up her ears. She heard the troubled wheezing of a ewe. From the window, through the dark, she could see mist, mud, and the reddish shadows of the barns. She pictured the herd of sheep lying still, spread out behind the feeder.

Raising her nose toward the pasture, she smelled the rich, sticky scent of birth, of lamb. She smelled manure and fear.

She heard a gasp, the sound of death or desperation, and then one ewe calling to the others in alarm. She stood and padded quickly from the window to the side of the farmer’s bed, then looked up at his sleeping face. She barked once, insistently and loudly.

Sam, the farmer, startled awake from a dream of Katie in the dark January night. He muttered, “Are you sure?” and mumbled something about a night’s sleep, but got out of bed, pulling on pants and a shirt.

He knew better than to ignore Rose, especially at lambing time. She seemed to have a sort of map of the farm inside her head, a picture of how things ought to be. Whenever something was wrong or out of place—an animal sick, a fence down, an unwelcome intruder—she knew it instantly, and called attention to it, sniffing, barking, circling. She constantly updated the map, it seemed to Sam.

Occasionally her map failed or confused her—but that was rare. Sam saw to it that Rose was always with him, that she was apprised of everything that came and went—every animal, every machine—so she could keep her mental inventory.

Among his friends, Sam called Rose his farm manager. They had been together for six years, ever since he had driven over to the Clark farm in Easton and seen a litter of border collie/shepherd mix pups. He had still been debating with himself about whether to get a herding dog—he had no idea how to train one, and no time to do it, anyway.

But, perhaps picking up the scent of sheep, Rose ran right over to him, looking so eager to get to work, even at eight weeks old, that he brought her home. A few weeks after she arrived, some sheep had wandered through an unlatched gate and across the road, and Rose shot out of the house through the newly installed dog door, corralled them, and marched them back, working on instinct alone. She certainly had no help from Sam, who wasn’t even aware that the sheep were at liberty. The two had been working side by side ever since.

From then on, Sam would shake his head whenever he saw the elaborate, highly choreographed herding trials on television. Rose grew into the role on her own; she simply seemed to know what to do. The farm, he told his friends, was the world’s greatest trainer. And the sheep did what she told them to, which was all Sam really cared about. Get them from one place to another. Didn’t have to be pretty, though sometimes it was beautiful.

The relationship had grown way beyond anything Sam understood at first, or even imagined. It was more like a partnership, he had told Katie, an understanding subtler than words. It was something he lived, not something he thought much about.

I think you love that dog more than me, Katie would sometimes joke. Sam would blush and stammer. She’s just a dog, he would say, because he could not say what Rose truly meant to him.

Now he could tell from the urgency of Rose’s bark that something was wrong. She kept tilting her ears to the pasture, agitated, eager to get outside.

So on this cold and windswept night, Sam, a tall, thin man with what had once been a ready smile and a full head of reddish-brown hair, went downstairs and got a flashlight, pulled on a jacket and boots, and he and Rose walked out the back door and into the night. Even in the dark, in the reflected light of the moon, he could see the glow of her fiercely bright-blue eyes.

The farmhouse sat at the bottom of a gentle, rolling pasture. By the back door, there were two paths. The one to the left led out into the woods, and the one to the right ran toward the two barns and the pasture gates.

The first barn was big, filled with hay up in the loft and tractors, and sometimes cows, down below. A shed was attached to the big barn, which housed equipment and supplies, as well as some feed. Farther up the hill was a large pole barn. A three-sided structure with the fourth side open to the air, it allowed the sheep to be outside, which they preferred, while still offering some shelter from the elements. When they were kept inside a closed barn, they got fearful, claustrophobic, bleated day and night. Anyway, it was the way Sam’s father had done it. The three buildings formed a triangle: the farmhouse at the bottom, the big barn off to one side nearby, the pole barn a hundred yards up the hill. The cows were in the other pasture on the far side of the barn.

A few hundred feet from the farmhouse, the path led to a gate that connected to a fence encircling all of the pastures and barns. Sam was proud of that fence. He’d spent years shoring and patching it, and in the past year or so, no animal had slipped out, or in.

As they neared the barn, Sam finally saw in the beam of light from his flashlight what Rose had heard and sensed, up behind the building. He moved faster, opening the pasture gate. Rose raced through and ran to the struggling ewe. Sam retrieved his sack of medical equipment from the barn and hurried behind the dog up a path well worn by the animals, marked by manure and ice-encrusted mud, pungent even in winter. The big barn was on the right, looming like a great battleship, its lights sending small beams out into the dark, foggy pasture. That old barn had a lot of stories to tell.

The lambing shed where Sam had put this pregnant ewe a few days earlier was also open on one side, though protected from the snow and wind. An open hatchway led from the lambing shed inside the barn to an area warmed by heat lamps and lined with hay and straw, where the ewes could take their newborn lambs. With this arrangement, they were outside when they went into labor, so they could be near the other sheep, and Sam could still see and hear them from the house. Or at least Rose could.

He trained his light on the sick ewe, number 89. Her wheezing had calmed, which was an ominous sign, and she lay still, on her side, in the corner of the pen in a bed of hay.

Rose waited for Sam to open the birthing pen gate, then rushed in to the mother and attempted to rouse her, nipping at her nose and chest.

Sam opened his bag and pulled out scissors, forceps, bandages, syringes, a jar of iodine, antibiotics, and some rope and salve. He was serious and calm as he followed Rose’s lead, this small black and white dog, with those piercing eyes, moving with speed and confidence.

The other sheep gathered in the pole barn up the hill, watching, intent and anxious. Rose glanced up at the crowd of ewes, and at the Blackface, their leader, who had appeared at the front of the flock. Rose’s eyes and posture gave clear instructions—stay back, stay away from Sam—and they obeyed.

If necessary, she would use her teeth, pulling some wool to get things moving, or to stop things from moving. She rarely needed to do that. But tonight, particularly since there was no food around the lambing area, Rose knew they would keep their distance. The sheep wanted no part of a human or a dog in the middle of the night.

It was black and cold, and the ground was icy. Rose saw and smelled the amniotic fluid puddling under the ewe. Rose could see the almost imperceptible movement of the ewe’s stomach, hear the faint breath, see the moisture in her eyes, the stream from her nostrils. She could hear the faintest of heartbeats.

She could smell the ewe’s struggle.

Rose and Sam had done this before, many times.

Having failed to get the ewe to her feet, Rose backed up while Sam set up his light, kneeled down, rolled up his sleeves. She watched him rub salve on his hands before turning the ewe and plunging his arm into the dying mother, finding the lamb stuck in the uterine canal.

The smell was intense, and troubling. This was a bad sign. Lambs didn’t last very long after the water had broken.

Sam muttered and cursed. He turned the lamb’s feet until they were pointed in the right direction, then he grunted, pulled, and pulled again. Finally, Rose saw him draw out his hand, and with it, the lamb. The small, matted creature was not moving.

Sam dipped his pocketknife in a bottle and then used it to cut the umbilical cord. Then he stood, lifted the lamb by its feet, and swung it, left and right, in the cold air, to get its heart beating. The lamb was slick with fluids, and the air was frigid. Lambs can die quickly in these conditions. If they’re healthy, their mothers will usually guide them through the hatchway to the warmth of the heat lamps.

Rose barked, excited. The lamb suddenly coughed and wheezed. It was alive. Rose ran around to the ewe’s face and began nipping at her nose, urging her to her feet.

The dog and the farmer worked with urgency. The cold was biting and Rose felt the sting of it in her paws. Her whiskers were covered in ice. She needed to get the ewe up quickly, had to get her to clean her lamb. And the lamb needed nourishment.

Sam pulled out a plastic bottle with sheep’s milk that he had stored in the freezer and thawed, putting it gently in the lamb’s mouth. He pulled a syringe from his other pocket—a vitamin booster, for strength and energy—and gave the lamb a shot. Rose kept working to get the mother up, so she and her lamb could bond by smell and know each other.

The ewe began to stir, looking at Rose. The dog did not waver or back off, but barked and lunged, nipped and kept her eyes locked on the ewe’s.

The ewe closed her eyes, reopened them. She was suddenly alarmed, breathing more heavily now, as she struggled to get to her feet. Afterbirth trailed from under her tail.

Sam carefully put the lamb down and came over to help, pulling the ewe up gently. She was disoriented, panicky, and as soon as she was upright she tried to bolt. Rose headed her off. She and Sam knew all too well that when ewes ran, they could forget the smell of their lambs and abandon them entirely. That was not going to happen, had never happened when Rose was there.

Rose held the ewe to the spot while Sam positioned the lamb beside her. Then he ran into the barn and came back with some water laced with molasses syrup for the ewe. She lapped it up greedily while the lamb searched for its mother’s nipple. The ewe seemed to gain strength, returning to the world, becoming aware of her baby.

The ewe began to call out to her lamb. Now protective, she turned, lowered her head at Rose, and charged, butting her, and catching her off guard.

“Head’s up, Rose!” said Sam.

Rose was sometimes unprepared for how powerful the mothering instinct was in ewes once it kicked in and they bonded with their babies. It was a testing time for her, as the formerly compliant ewes changed, and she was suddenly, sometimes violently, challenged. She always regained control, with her body, her eyes, her teeth, and her ferocious determination, which eventually wore down even the most maternal ewe, even though it sometimes left Rose bruised or limping. After a time, they became sheep again, doing what they were supposed to do.

The vet once told Sam that Rose weighed thirty-seven pounds, and that any one of those two- and three-hundred-pound ewes or rams could have stomped or butted her senseless, but they didn’t know they could. Rose had to make sure they never knew.

Sam looked up and saw that it had begun snowing lightly, and the wind was picking up. He was huffing hard on his hands, looking up at the sky. Rose looked up, too, and felt a stirring in all of her senses.

Sam appeared different to Rose than he used to, quieter, not as strong, not as clear-headed. A lot of things were different since the night Katie had been taken from the house.

The very map of the farm had changed.

She watched Sam as he worked silently, purposefully, toweling off the lamb. Once he was sure the mother had the smell of the lamb, he picked it up in a cloth sling. It was time to get it under the heat lamps and onto a pile of straw. There the mother would finish cleaning her baby, and the baby would find her teats and drink some more, getting warm and dry, and the ewe could bond with him—it was a ram—and know his cry. The two would nestle up together and talk to each other in a language all their own.

Sam was now backing up to the hatchway, and the ewe looked around frantically. Rose kept her distance, a bit away and behind her, so that she wouldn’t panic and head for the other sheep, who were still watching from the pole barn.

The ewe darted a few feet up the hill. Rose dashed ahead of her and brought her back. They repeated this two or three times, Rose and the ewe, in a kind of a dance, Rose anticipating where the ewe would go and blocking that route. Even though her lamb was being carried in that direction, it was unnatu- ral for the ewe to move away from her flock, and toward the barn, especially with a human and a dog. Only the ewe’s intensifying mothering instincts kept her from running off. That and Rose in her face, whenever she looked or turned to go up the hill.

Finally at the hatchway entrance to the barn, the ewe froze. Rose watched her look up the hill, then toward her lamb. Rose saw that she was still thinking of bolting up to the pole barn, to the Blackface, to the safety and comfort of the other sheep.

Sam backed into the barn, making sure the ewe could see him and the lamb in his arms. He opened the lambing pen gate, then turned on the heat lamps and put the baby down in the warming glow. The lamb bleated, and the ewe bleated in response, rushing through the hatchway and into the pen.

Rose kept the mother in until she settled down there. The ewe eventually forgot Rose, and nosed the lamb under the lamp and onto the hay. She began licking him. Sam closed and tied the plastic fencing of the makeshift pen. The ewe, exhausted, would let her baby feed, and then the two of them would sleep.

Sam turned away to check the wiring of the heat lamp and bring some fresh hay. Rose sat down, calming also. Her job was done. But in less than a minute she stood again and turned away, limping slightly from the butting of her shoulder.

“Okay, girl,” Sam said to Rose as he shone the flashlight around to see if the other pregnant ewes were up to anything. Rose did not understand his words but understood the tone of voice, his approval. And she also understood it as the end of this work.

Rose smelled the warm, rich mother’s milk, heard the sound of suckling. The timeless map, a compilation of countless memories and experiences and images, was as it should be, and now updated to include one new creature.

Sam slid the door shut.

Rose followed him to the gate and then trotted toward the house. Sam walked on ahead of her, but on the stoop, she paused for a moment. Something made her look up again at the predawn slate sky.

Rose felt the storm coming, smelled snow and heavy air. She remembered other storms, the snow and wind and killing cold. She felt a flash of deep alarm run through her like a bolt of lightning. The hair on her back and neck came up. Sam called for her, but she waited a moment longer before following him inside.

Here’s what reviewers are saying about Rose in a Storm!

“I felt as if in writing a novel Katz told me more clearly and more fully what the world looks like to a dog than all the animal behavior books I’ve ever read.”

–Janet Perry, author of Needlepoint Trade Secrets and Bargello Revisited

“…I highly recommend this to anyone who loves dogs or life on the farm.”

–Philip R. Heath, Gadgets, Music, & Books