Haunted House?

I walked down to this house a couple of times during my retreat this past weekend:

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I am fascinated by this house. I love to think about who might have lived there. Note the past tense. Kaz, the ghost from my new series absolutely does not live there. Neither do any of his ghost friends. There are too many open windows.

When I was a kid, I wouldn’t have hesitated to go inside and explore. And okay…I really, really wanted to go inside this house and explore now, as an adult. But the foundation is simply gone in places…we saw a rabbit crawl out. There were colonies of…we weren’t sure if they were bees (they were almost too dark to be bees) or termites or what living on two sides of the house. Who knows who or what else might live inside?

I did climb those steps, but that’s as far as I got. All those pieces of wood had nails sticking out of them and I had doubts that porch would hold me. But oh, I wanted to get a closer look at what was inside.

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Patricia, if you actually know the story of this place (and I’m guessing you do), I don’t think I want to hear it. I’d rather imagine…

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On letting go…

I’ve had some major letting go to do. In my career life, not my personal life.

I accept that there’s absolutely nothing I can do to change the situation. And I don’t regret any of the decisions I made. I know there are people in my life who don’t quite understand this (they don’t understand why it’s not “easy” to just move on), but despite everything that’s happened, I’ve still felt an incredible loss…and I’ve sort of been “grieving” that loss ever since.

About a week and a half ago, I thought I had come up with the most brilliant plan to deal with that loss. Anyone who’s been publishing for any length of time has a grief story. We all know there’s frustration in publishing, but nobody ever told me there could be actual grief. I’m talking 5-stages grief. So I decided to write about it! Channel all that negative energy into something positive…an article or something on grief in publishing. I couldn’t wait to tell a certain writer friend about my brand new project! We met for coffee (well…tea and frappe! yeah…guess who had the frappe?) and well…she didn’t exactly love my my brand new project. She said, “Dori, if you want to get out of a hole, you have to stop digging.”

Wow. That shut me up.

This was last Sunday. She suggested I take one more week to do what I need to do…write what I need to write…and then be done. She suggested I “do something big” to show that I was really done. “Have a fire or something,” she said.

A fire?

I thought about where I was going to be and what I was going to be doing this weekend. I was going to a writer’s retreat that I’ve been going to for the last four years. Out of state. And I started to really warm up to this idea of having some sort of cleansing fire. My friend was right. I’ve been digging. And I need to stop.

At first I was just having fun with this “I’m having a fire” idea. I talked about my fire all week. I planned for it. I looked forward to it. I even sent out formal invitations to my fellow retreaters. I wrote: Please Come to My Fire and put a pretty picture of a bonfire on my invitation. I also invited them to write down things THEY need to let go and burn them in my fire. We all have things we need to let go…

At the beginning of the week, I figured I would write 3…4…7…certainly no more than 10 pages about the grief I was feeling. But I ended up writing about a lot more than just grief. I wrote the story of a relationship. A ten year relationship that I no longer have. I’ve had a hard time writing lately, because I haven’t been able to fully move past this situation.

Well…I guess I’ve proven that I CAN still write. I um…wrote more than 44,000 words this week. Yes, ALL on this relationship. I relived every moment, from when the relationship began until it crashed and burned. The vast majority of it has been good. Some pretty amazing things happened over the course of those ten years. Things that don’t happen to most writers (hence the difficulty letting go). I got it all out. The good…the bad…and the really, really ugly. It was very cathartic.

And then I was done.

People were a little…surprised by how much I wrote. (125 pages)

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The rest of the group went out and purchased an appropriate pinata for the occasion:

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The plan was we would all write on a scrap of paper whatever it is we each need to let go and then stuff those papers in our pinata. Some shared what they were letting go with the group; others didn’t. (Don’t you love that shirt? For the record, I don’t think I ate any cookies, but I probably ate more than my fair share of the toffee…and the evil brownies. Gonna have to do a lot of body rolls to burn off those calories!)

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Okay, I guess I don’t have to show EVERYBODY stuffing the pinata. But I do need to show one more. This one’s for you, K.C.C. That’s YOUR scrap of paper being dropped into the pinata (we missed you so much this weekend!):

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Then we went outside to the fire pit. M.E., you gave me the spark, so I started my fire with the paper you asked me to burn for you:

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Since this was my fire, I didn’t put anything into the pinata. No, I burned the 125 pages I wrote last week. All 44,000+ words…page by page by melodramatic page:

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A couple of my fellow retreaters created exactly the right mood music while I burned…a low somber hum. When I finally threw the last page in, everyone cheered…and one by one they hugged me…it was pretty emotional. (S.P., you would’ve HATED it!)

Then we tossed the stuffed pinata into the fire:

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And that was it.

Only one person will ever read what I wrote in those 125 pages, and that’s C.F.J. She’s one of my oldest friends here in Iowa and I trust her completely. She asked me a year or so ago if she could be my “biographer.” Yeah, I know…it kind of cracks me up, too (but C.F.J. takes what she’s doing very seriously…and I really am flattered that she wants to do this and that she believes my story is a story worth telling. I sometimes think she hasn’t always seen me as I really am…but she’ll see the real me in that document should she choose to read it. And who knows? Maybe she’ll find something in there that she can use?)

After I e-mailed my document to C.F.J., I deleted it from my computer. I don’t need it.

If there’s something you need to let go, I strongly recommend the write and burn method. It’s empowering.

Thank you, P.M. for letting me leave my crap in your pasture:

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And thank you, friends, for being a shoulder to cry on and for sharing my fire. I’ve returned home a new woman. One who looks forward, rather than back.

My Mom’s Having a Baby: 4th Most Challenged Book of 2011

Nothing like finding out I’ve written the fourth most challenged book in the country last year to inspire me to start blogging again. Fourth most challenged, behind Lauren Myracle’s TTYL books (#1), Kim Dong Hwa’s Color of Earth (#2…I haven’t even heard of that one; I’ll have to see if I can find a copy), and Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games trilogy (#3). And the reasons people want to restrict access to My Mom’s Having a Baby include: nudity, sex education, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group.

A lot of my friends think this is very cool and that I should be proud. And sure, to some extent it is cool…and I am proud. But do you know what? I’m also a little bit ticked.

If you read my book and tell me that it’s not right for your 4-year-old, your 8-year-old, your 12-year-old, that’s great! I applaud you for taking the time to read a book before offering it to your child; I applaud you for knowing what’s right for your child or your family. And I am not at all offended if you choose to restrict YOUR child’s access to my book.

But when you try and restrict OTHER PEOPLE’S CHILDREN to my book, then I’m going to get upset. Who are you to decide what’s right for everyone?

This reminds me of my older son’s first day of kindergarten. He came home from school upset because he’d seen the brand new Magic Tree House book on the shelf in the school library, but he wasn’t allowed to check it out. Because it was a chapter book. It didn’t matter that he was reading chapter books. He was a kindergartner and kindergartners were not allowed to check out chapter books. That was the first of many school battles I fought on behalf of my children. And we won that one. Eventually.

Funny…when I took up the battle for my children, I always did it to get them access TO something; I never did it to restrict their access. Interesting, huh? I also never tried to tell anyone that what was right for my children was what was right for all children. Or even all children in my children’s situations. My children are individuals…who did not always fit in the round holes the school really needed them to fit into. And as their mother, while they were growing up, I knew better than anyone what was best for them (though I didn’t always realize that). But I know nothing about what’s best for everyone else’s kids.

Why do so many people think they know what’s best for all children and all families? And what exactly are these people trying to protect America’s children from? Knowledge. Ideas. Ideas that may contradict their own. Personally, I find that far more frightening than I find any of the books on the ALA’s list of most challenged books last year.

Doesn’t anybody talk to their kids anymore? Reading a book about a difficult, embarrassing, or unpleasant subject is a good way to open dialogue with your child! Even if you disagree with the values or the point of view in the book, it’s a good opportunity  to share your own values with your children.

But some people just don’t want to do that. Some people would rather raise a generation of uninformed kids who have never learned to think for themselves.

It boggles my mind that people actually think that if you give kids information about sex it’ll make them go out and HAVE sex.

And it’s not just sex in books and movies that scares people. I had a conversation with someone just last week who was surprised I would allow my almost 18-year-old to go see the Hunger Games…because that movie “glorifies violence.” I had to ask, “have you actually read the book?” because it seems to me if that’s what you think, you couldn’t possibly have READ the book. And of course, no, she hadn’t.

I wonder how many of the people who have challenged my book have read it in its entirety? How many simply saw a little news clip on Fox News last year and hopped on the bandwagon? You can read all about that here: http://dorihbutler.livejournal.com/143156.html and here: http://dorihbutler.livejournal.com/143645.html

What really shocked me about that whole thing last year was the people who saw that clip and then sent me anonymous hate mail by e-mail. People who thought they knew me, knew what kind of person I was, knew my motivations for writing that book, and had opinions on what I should do next…all based on a little 3-minute snippet they saw on Fox news. You know, there’s a word for that kind of e-mail…it’s called CYBERBULLYING. And I have a book on that subject, too.

To my knowledge, that book hasn’t been formally challenged. Though there are people in this world who are “concerned” about  my use of the word “gay” and about the cyberbullying incidents in general in this book. Some of these people are so concerned that they got the book removed from their child’s school’s all school read program. Some teachers and librarians are so afraid of parents potentially getting upset about this book being in their library that when they invite me to come for an author visit, they don’t offer it for sale because they don’t want to call attention to it.

Even my Edgar award winning Buddy Files: Case of the Lost Boy is not immune from scrutiny.

Again, to my knowledge this book hasn’t actually been challenged anywhere, but there are parents who are “concerned” that I bring up the possibility of stranger danger in this book (better to assume this is a bad book than to actually DISCUSS this issue with your children???). Another reader gave the book a low rating on Amazon because she didn’t want to have to explain what divorce was to her five-year-old!

Why are people so afraid of ideas presented in books? Why are people so afraid to TALK to their kids???

The only good news I can see in that ALA list of most challenged books last year is that for once And Tango Makes Three didn’t make the list!

Celebrate your right to read!

It’s Banned Books Week! And my library is doing something really cool to celebrate. They started about a month ago. They gathered up all the books in their collection that they know have been challenged somewhere and put these bands around them:

Then they put the books back on the shelves. Or they put them in a display of banned books. The banned bands certainly got people talking. People weren’t sure whether they could still check the books out (they could) or even read them because the band went around the entire book! Ha! Talk about making a point.

And yes, that’s my banned book in the picture above. To my knowledge, my book has been challenged in Oregon, Indiana, Kansas, Colorado, Georgia, Texas, Nevada, and Florida. It also made the Canadian Library Association’s list of most challenged books and magazines for 2010.

My library didn’t stop at the banned bands. They decided to really draw attention to banned and challenged books during Banned Books Week this year and stage a live display of people reading banned/challenged books every hour that the library is open. So as soon as the library closed on Saturday, they built this little reading room:

As the local author of a challenged book, I got to kick the whole thing off when the library opened on Sunday (the beginning of Banned Books Week). I got the first hour in the chair. I’m reading To Kill a Mockingbird. Because I can

It was an interesting experience. This display is right out in the main atrium area, so it’s the first thing you see when you walk through the door. It was fun to watch people’s reactions.

One guy walked right up to the plastic and said to me, “what are you doing?”

I said, “Uh…reading.”

“Are you really reading a banned book?”

“Yes, I am.”

“Whoa! Radical!!!”

There wasn’t a single person who came in who didn’t at least glance at the display. But most did more than just glance. A lot of people came over to see what it was all about. A stranger asked if she could take my picture.

Some people just stood there and watched me for an unnervingly long time. One person said, “Oh, I’m glad you moved; it was a little freaky when you sat so still.”

A ten-year-old girl watched me for a while, then said to her mom, “Oh, wow! That’s a real person in there!” That girl had a really cool mom because the mom took the time to explain to her and to her little sister exactly what this display was all about and why it was important.

A library serves an entire community. That doesn’t mean that every item in the library is appropriate for every patron. Imagine what a library that only contained books and materials that EVERYBODY approved of would be like. Would there be anything in it at all?

Visit your local library this week. Take a look at some of books that have been challenged. Or cut/paste this URL to take a look at a list of books that have been challenged somewhere in the United States in the past year: http://www.ala.org/ala/issuesadvocacy/banned/bannedbooksweek/ideasandresources/free_downloads/2011banned.pdf

Keep in mind this is not a complete list. Many challenges go unnoticed.

Be thankful this week that you live in a country where you are free to read what you choose. And don’t forget to thank your local librarians for all they do to fight censorship.

From Mouse: Review of A Dog’s Way Home

Mouse: Hey! This blog is called “A day in the life of a children’s book author AND HER DOG.”

Me: Yes, it is.

Mouse: Well, when do I get to blog?

Me: Um…when you have something to blog about?

Mouse: I have something to blog about. I want to blog about BOOKS! Books that kids can read to dogs.

Me: Okay. Is there a particular book you’d like to blog about today?

Mouse: Yes. It’s called A Dog’s Way Home and it’s by Bobbie Pyron. It’s got a really pretty dog on the cover.

Me: Yes, it does. So what do you want to say about this book?

Mouse: I want to say that it’s a really good book about a dog named Tam and her human, Abby. It starts out kind of scary. Tam is in his crate in the back of Abby’s truck and then there’s an accident and Tam and his crate are thrown from the truck. They tumble down a rock ledge and into a creek, and Abby and her mom don’t even know about Tam because they’re hurt, too. But when they’re better they go look for Tam. They’re so, so, SO close. Tam hears Abby calling for him, but by the time he gets to the place where Abby was standing, she’s gone.

Abby lives a long way from where the accident happened, so she eventually has to go home. Without Tam. And it’s up to Tam to find his way home.

It takes a long, long, long, long time. Tam has to travel for hundreds of miles during the fall, winter and spring. He meets other humans and animals and has a lot of adventures along the way. But he never gives up on finding Abby.

And Abby never gives up on finding him, either. Would you ever give up on me if I got lost?

Me: No, Mouse. Never.

Mouse: I wouldn’t ever give up on you, either. Anyway…the story goes back and forth between Tam and Abby so you find out what they’re both doing all those months. It’s such a good book that I hated to stop reading it. I couldn’t wait to find out whether Tam and Abby ever found each other again.

I think kids who are in 4th or 5th grade should read this book to their dogs. Or if they don’t have dogs, they should go to a library that has a program where you can read to a dog, and read this book to a dog there.

You want to know the best part about this book?

Me: What’s the best part?

Mouse: THE DOG DOESN’T DIE!!!!

-Mouse is a three-year-old golden retriever/English setter mix who enjoys hot dogs, liver treats, squeaky tug toys, hide-and-seek, a good game of chase, and being read to.

Teen Book Group

I have to say I think YALSA made a smart choice when they chose the Coralville Public Library’s teen book group as one of their Teen Top Ten groups. YALSA Teen Top Ten book groups get to read books in galley form, offer comments to publishers, and eventually choose the list of books that teens all over the country will use to whittle down to the final Teen’s Top Ten list each year.

These kids don’t just say, “I like this book” or “I don’t like this book.” They dig much deeper than that. I am continually amazed by how carefully they read and how well they express their opinions. They’ve even gotten feedback from publishers about the quality of their reviews. This is a great group! And as a writer, it’s always valuable to me to hear what they have to say about the books they’re reading.

Here are some of the books they discussed last night:

The Sweetest Thing. Christina Mandelski, are you reading this? You’ve been compared (favorably) to Sarah Dessen! (And no, the girl who said it does not know that I know you and can tell you exactly what she said.)

The Babysitter Murders by Janet Ruth Young. Several of the kids in this group have read this one. They’re all liking it. The girl who talked about it last night said she liked that the character’s problem isn’t really over at the end of the book. Yes, she liked that. As writers, don’t we usually try to solve a problem by the end of the book? Here’s a reader who says things aren’t always that simple. I asked if the character had changed by the end of the story. “Oh, yes!” she said. To her, the ending was completely satisfactory.

Beauty Queens by Libba Bray. This is another one that a lot of the girls are reading. Some of them are having trouble with the cover. The cover isn’t making them want to read the book, and they don’t think it’s representative of what the book’s really about either, but they’re liking the book when they do read it. Definitely a “girl” book, though somebody last night said that once you get past the first 150 pages it’s kind of a guy book, too. One of the boys in the group was dared to read it. We’ll see if he takes the challenge. (I’m betting no…)

Across the Universe by Beth Revis. I really need to read this one for myself so I can form my own opinion. Both the guys and the girls are reading it. The first night it was discussed a boy described the plot…and then ten minutes later one of the girls described the plot of a book she’d read. IT WAS THE SAME BOOK! But you never would’ve known it by the two summaries. The boy told the science plot and the girl told the romance plot. Last night somebody else (a guy) sort of combined the two summaries. He really liked the book…enough that he nominated it for the Teen Top Ten list! This was huge! This guy is a great reader and great reviewer, and he reads a lot. But until Across the Universe he didn’t see anything that he felt was worthy of nomination. I have to read this book just to see why K. nominated it!

I don’t want to trash anyone’s book on my blog, so now I’ll share the negative comments, which again, can be helpful for a writer to hear, even if you don’t know what book I’m talking about.

-”it was just like all the other teen books.” (Note to publishers: some of these girls are getting a little tired of shallow, angsty girl YA…while we’re at it, some are tired of vampires, too!)

-”the character didn’t get anywhere by the end of the story. She didn’t change. And there’s no hope that her life is going to get any better.”

-”this book was two different things. It was a serious romance story and it was a story about [a significant historical even from the 60s]. But the two didn’t come together very well. It was like the author couldn’t decide which story to write so she came up with lame excuses why both should be in the book. Also it was a little slow to get going. The beginning was 150 pages of family history. It was boring.” I asked this reviewer why he kept reading if it was boring…aside from the fact this guy almost never abandons a book, he said it was beautifully written. He really liked the writing style. And the tension. That’s what kept him going.

-And finally, there’s a book I will not name, but in some circles it’s being compared to the Hunger Games. Well, according to one of our readers this book is NOT the next Hunger Games. He thought it was a good story, but just wasn’t written well. He thought the writing was kind of childish and aimed at readers younger than him (he’s 14). Listening to him, it seems to me the publisher actually did the book a disservice by comparing it to the Hunger Games because they’re setting expectations high to begin with. When the book doesn’t live up to the hype, readers are disappointed. “False advertising,” one of the teens claimed.

Looks like I’ve got a few more books to add to my must-read shelf…

Research!

This is a Taurus .380:

And this is a Glock 22 .40 caliber:

I shot both those guns yesterday. (Don’t worry…I only hit a paper target. And maybe some corn.)

Why did I do this? Because I’m working on a YA murder mystery and there’s a scene in the book where the protagonist, a 17-year-old girl who has never held a gun before, has to pick up a gun and shoot the bad guy before he shoots her. I’ve never fired a gun before; she’s never fired a gun before. I was pretty sure I could write that scene. I know what it feels like to not want to shoot a gun.

I did have questions about guns, though. My kind, gentle, almost 22-year-old son knows a surprising amount about guns for someone who, to my knowledge, has also never fired one. He answered more of my questions than I expected him to; then said, “you should probably go shoot a real gun yourself sometime.”

My first thought: I’M NOT GOING TO SHOOT A REAL GUN!!!! Aside from a gun safety course, which was a little more than I wanted to do, I didn’t even know where one would go to shoot a real gun.

But once the shock wore off, I realized he was absolutely right. If I’m going to write this book, I need to know what it feels like to shoot a gun. Sigh….

How did this opportunity come about? I was in Curves, of all places…making polite conversation with a woman who works there. In addition to working at Curves, it turns out she’s also a deputy sheriff. (You never know who you might end up exercising next to.) One thing led to another…and she offered to take me out shooting.

So I drove out to her place yesterday, which as you can see, is pretty far from town.

And because I read and write murder mysteries, the thought did cross my mind…how well do this deputy sheriff and I REALLY know each other? I mean, it was going to be just the two of us and some guns, out in the middle of nowhere. How did I even know she really was a deputy sheriff? Maybe she was a serial killer who pounced on the opportunity to get me away from the safety of Curves so she could MURDER me in cold blood???

But I guess the trust goes both ways because how did she know I wasn’t a serial killer? Sure, I SAID I needed (yeah, I may have actually used the word “need”…that’s kind of scary in and of itself) to see what it felt like to shoot a gun. How did she know I didn’t actually “need” to see what it felt like to actually kill someone? She doesn’t know me…I could possibly be that crazy.

Of course, she had the resources of the sheriff’s department at her disposal. It’s entirely possible she ran my name through the police database. Maybe she even did a background check on me. In which case she knows I’ve never had a parking ticket; I’ve never had a speeding ticket; but I was arrested in Washington, D.C. 23 years ago. Yes, I was. (That’s a story for another blog post.)

Seriously, there’s no doubt that if she really felt I was a threat, she could have me on the ground in about three seconds flat if she really wanted to. Me, if I found her to be a threat, well…about the best I could do is RUN into that cornfield.

So…what was it like to fire a gun for the first time? It was interesting. I learned a lot about those two guns and figured out which one was right for my story. We went over some safety procedures first. She gave me safety glasses and ear protection, which at first I didn’t think I wanted to wear. She wasn’t wearing them. And the character in my book won’t be wearing them. But in the end I decided it was best to simply follow directions.

She shot both weapons first so I could get a sense of how loud it was going to be before I did it myself. She started with the .380. It was LOUD. Louder than I expected it to be. I was surprised to see the casings flying everywhere. Some landed over by the target; others landed behind her. I was also surprised to see smoke rising from the chamber.

I didn’t notice a huge difference in sound between the .380 and the Glock.

Then it was my turn. I also started with the .380. It seemed to make sense to start with the lighter, easier one of the two.

Loading the magazine was harder than I expected it to be, but I was able to do it. I held the magazine in the palm of my hand, pushed the insert down with my thumb and then pushed the bullet into place. You load one on top of the other, pushing each one down on top of the previous one. It took some force to do this, but not more than I had.

She showed me how to hold a gun. Actually, she did that before I ever loaded the magazine. You need your hand (i.e. the webbed skin between the thumb and forefinger) completely below the “tang.” Otherwise when you shoot, you’re going to get your skin pinched. You hold tight and firm. You don’t cup your other hand under the handle part of the gun—she called that the “teacup” method of holding a gun. That doesn’t give you enough support/control. Instead you bring your (in my case) left hand in tight next to your right hand, wedging the left thumb right under the right thumb. I asked about how to hold my arms; she said it didn’t really matter. She had me stand with my legs apart and knees bent.

There are two little notches toward my end of the gun and one little notch at the end of the barrel. You want to line up the single notch between the two notches. You don’t put your finger to the trigger until you’re going to shoot. In fact, she reminded me of that several times, even though my finger wasn’t on the trigger. (Can’t say I blamed her!) But when you are ready, you put your  finger to the trigger and press. She said don’t anticipate, just pull back and let the gun go off. So I did.

First impression: WOW, that’s loud!

Second thought: I just shot a real gun!

Third thought: It felt smoother and was physically much easier to do than I thought it would be. But I certainly felt the power behind it. I think my hands were shaking more after I’d shot half the bullets than before I ever shot the first one.

I was surprisingly accurate with the .380. I aimed for the large box on the paper (which represented a person’s torso), and I think I got it almost every time.

Once the magazine was empty, we switched to the Glock. It was much more difficult for me to load the Glock. In fact, she had some sort of tool to help with that. I can’t quite remember whether it opened the hole where I put the bullets or if it pushed the previous bullet down or if it somehow did both. She told me to release gently and put the bullet in, but I couldn’t do it. She ended up loading it for me. (Hey, my character isn’t going to have to load the gun anyway…at least, not in this book!)

This one definitely felt different from the .380. It was heavier. Maybe not quite as heavy as I’d expected, but heavy enough that I found myself lowering the barrel for a couple of seconds between rounds. Again, L-O-U-D!!! That was my reaction.

I certainly knew going in that the bigger the gun, the more the recoil. That’s just obvious. But I really FELT the difference between the two. I could see where my shots were going with the .380. I knew I’d shot well. With the Glock, I had no clue where the bullets were going. None whatsoever. And I was standing the same distance from the target as I’d been with the .380. I asked her where I’d hit and she didn’t know because she’d been watching me. (Again, can you blame her?) But once she trusted that I wasn’t going to kill either of us, she did look forward…and I learned that my shots were not only way low (like not even hitting the body at all), some of them completely missed the target. I wasn’t shocked to hear this because I didn’t feel like I had much control over that gun. I tried to line up that little notch, but I just couldn’t hold it in place. Sometimes I was aware that I was moving the gun while I was trying to aim, but I couldn’t seem to stop myself. And I wasn’t moving it out of fear or nervousness, I simply couldn’t control it.

Like I said, definitely an education. I was able to talk through a key scene in my book with her and discovered I needed to rethink how a couple of the events unfold. I can think of a couple of books I’ve read recently that would have benefited from the author taking a little time with a police officer.

Was it “fun?”  That’s hard to say. I did feel a little proud of myself for being able to shoot that .380 accurately. And I understand the “sport” in shooting a little better now (as long as an animal isn’t involved, but that’s just me…). I’ve always enjoyed archery (when I’m aiming at a target and not an animal.) I sort of enjoyed this in the same way. But I could sort of see myself owning a bow and set of arrows. I can’t see myself owning a gun.

Overall, I’m glad I did it. And I’m grateful to this deputy sheriff for taking me out and giving me this opportunity. You can read about guns (which I have, but what I read didn’t make a lot of sense until I actually was able to hold a couple of these weapons in my hand and really talk to someone about them. It was just words and numbers before), and you can watch videos on youtube. But it’s not a substitute for experience. That scene in my book will be much richer now.