Tag Archives: Annie Spruce

Not Ready

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights….James 1:17

Sometimes a life can be so fast and so busy that the end of a season comes quietly and it isn’t until you open the door to go outside and turn back to get your sweater that you realize how quickly the season is changing.

Sometimes eight years can go by with you loving and growing so much every day of those years that you don’t feel how fast they’re going until the day you look up and see how the season has turned and is quickly coming to an end.

But wait.

I’m not ready.

I’m not ready.

When fair and all that comes with it wraps up and the harvest is in and the freezer is full and the smell of snow tickles our noses, the pace picks up even though what we really need is a slow down, and in the hustle and bustle all I hear in my heart is the mantra  I’m just not ready.

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How do our kids grow so quickly that every day brings new things; things you didn’t know you were going to have to handle…things that you didn’t know were going to fill your heart with joy unimaginable and challenges unknowable.

How did I not know that this season would be so fast?

Am I really the mom they need me to be when most days I feel like I’m just not ready yet?

In the footprints poem, is He running alongside during these fast seasons…or are these the seasons He carries?

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Our Annie Spruce is getting ready to leave this world and that’s all my heart has been saying these past days.

I’m not ready, Annie.

I’m just not ready.

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How do you give a gift back?

How do you say goodbye to the sweet soul who help you raise your babies?

How do you put to rest the biggest season of your family’s life?

I’m not ready.

As her body declines, the kids keep growing, chores keep happening, the days keep cooling, the jobs keep waiting.

We’ve blocked out what we could, kept our phones out of reach as much as we could, we’ve worked, fought, loved, sighed, and napped as much as we needed these past two weeks and we’ve accomplished so much that has been waiting to be done.

She’s watched over us while we watch over her.

Daisy keeps close to her always these days.

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She sniffs the air of her farm now as if each trip out may be her last.

She stays close, so close to her people, and we pet her every time she’s near.

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As her body starts to shut down I watch her closely wondering if her last breath will be  here at home or will I need to take her in.

My husband and sons will dig her grave tonight.

How do I give this gift back when I’m just not ready?

How did our eight and a half years with her go so fast?

How does the life of a dog go by so quickly that one day you’re looking into the eyes of your old friend while your heart is breaking with the impending goodbye?

I’m not ready.

I’m just not ready.

~

-Good Old Dog-

With your old gray face

you sure know how

to brighten up this place.

Your pace is slowing

 time is wearing thin

you won’t be here for long

Old Dog I’ll miss your grin.

Before you go

there is one thing to say:

Old Dog I love you and

I’ll miss you the rest of my days.

It’s been a true honor

to walk across this land

with your faithful head

right at my hand.

-Savana Frame

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SCORRRRE!

You guys.

One of the hardest things I’ve found as an emerging author is promoting your story without sounding like you’re tooting your own horn.

Publishing is SO MUCH promotion and marketing and that is the area that is hard for me, timewise, and modesty wise.

I’ve just been content to let Annie’s story speak for itself without a lot of hubub from me.

And that is probably why I haven’t sold a lot of books. ❤

BUT.

This was in my inbox today.

I know you all love me and you love Annie too.

So I had to share:

Judge’s Commentary, 23rd Annual Writer’s Digest Writing Competition

“Books are evaluated on a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 meaning “needs improvement” and 5 meaning “outstanding”. This scale is strictly to provide a point of reference, it is not a cumulative score and does not reflect ranking. Our system only recognizes numerals during this portion of logging evaluations. As a result, a “0” is used in place of “N/A” when the particular portion of the evaluation simply does not apply to the particular entry, based on the entry genre. For example, a book of poetry or a how to manual, would not necessarily have a “Plot and Story Appeal and may therefore receive a “0”.

Structure, Organization, and Pacing: 5

Spelling, Punctuation, and Grammar: 5

Production Quality and Cover Design: 5

Plot and Story Appeal: 5

Character Appeal and Development: 5

Voice and Writing Style: 5

Judge’s Commentary*:

I found it surprising to read with so much interest about one dog, Barley, only to realize that this book focuses on another dog, Annie. The author skill in engaging the reader is that good! The family that adopts both dogs is clearly a dog family, people who understand that dogs are God’s creatures—the smartest and loyal creatures humans could ask for. So while Barley won my heart right off with his adamant chewing of all walls, wood and obstacles that prevented him from being on road trips with the family, Annie’s incredible stoicism and heart had me shaking my head in wonder. I like the author’s voice, for she knows how to introduce elements into a scene and transition from one moment to the next in such a way as to get the most impact. I was distressed that Barley was not tolerated by Annie when she became pregnant, but I loved what Rankin’s young son said about that. The author has a gift for finding exactly the right amount of tenderness or humor, oftentimes both, in the way she words her sentences. It was hard to read about Tessie/Annie’s owner being in jail and then reconnecting with the Rankin family and Annie without crying. There are dog people who will love this book, and it should be marketed in places where they will discover it.

-Judge, 23rd Annual Writer’s Digest Self-Published Book Awards.

I don’t think I won the contest.

But this sure was good to read today.

It made me proud.

And I think it makes Annie pretty proud too.

Have a great weekend friends. I hope you receive some good news today too!

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Thank you at a Parade

I had the joy and the pleasure of meeting Mr. Billy Graham’s nurse today at our little small town parade. She was with one of my friends who adopted one of Annie’s pups all those years ago. She was a beautiful and gentle southern woman who cares for a great man and I was so very honored to meet her.

We talked chickens.

We took pictures.

I would’ve loved to sit with her over coffee.

Naturally, I had to give her a copy of Annie Spruce to read on her flight home. I carry a few in my truck and as I signed it for her, she said “Mr. Graham will love this. He loves animals.”

How many souls has that beloved man reached for the Kingdom of God? How many has he clasped hands with and escorted onto Christ’s path?

He has counseled and prayed with presidents.

He was a hero to my grandparents.

All day since…I haven’t been able to wrap my mind around the magnitude.

Reviews, Sales, and Giveaways

Now that the school year is over, and before we get too far into next year’s planning, I’m spending a bit of our summer working to get the story of Annie out there and to drum up some book reviews.

Best way to do that is with a big sale and some giveaways. 🙂

Annie Spruce is now on sale through the end of July…$3.99 for Kindle on Amazon, and I have a giveaway currently running on Goodreads. If you are interested in reading and reviewing Annie Spruce, The Dog That Didn’t Die, I’d love to send you a copy today.

Happy reading and Happy Summer!

Cassandra
🙂

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Annie Spruce, The Dog That Didn't Die by Cassandra Rankin

Annie Spruce, The Dog That Didn’t Die

by Cassandra Rankin

Giveaway ends July 31, 2015.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway

Enter Giveaway

The Loser Who Won

So I lost the contest that I entered.

But I knew that already.

The finalists’ list was published a month ago and Annie Spruce wasn’t on it.

What I didn’t know though, was that the judges for the 1,300+ book entries were going to provide each contestant feedback on their book.

As one of the country’s top-rated contests for indie authors, having feedback from THESE judges…

…that’s GOLD.

So when the unexpected email slid into the inbox while I puttered around online…

…and the subject line said JUDGING FORMS…

…I had to send the kids out of the room.

In one of the judge’s opinions, our gal Annie Spruce didn’t do so hot in the cover design segment.

The colors on the cover were too dull for a survival story, the comment read.

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Another comment said some of the photos were too dark.

And this is my first official report card on the book and my friends love it and my kids love it and my people love it, but this…

…this is JUDGE FEEDBACK and I read it quietly and then I go back and read all six pages again and then I bit my lip and I choked a little.

Because I wasn’t prepared for this part.

Amidst the scores of sixes and sevens and eights, there it is…

…a two-sheet set from the judges in the Inspirational Category and there they all are, nines and tens and then…

“Enjoyable book with a heart-warming story.”

“Lovely story. Positive values.”

“I thoroughly enjoyed this little book. The writer has done a lovely job of telling a sweet, heartwarming, charming story…I would definitely encourage this author to keep writing. She has a gift for storytelling.”

And I felt silly sitting there because by this time my husband had come in and was reading over my shoulder but here they came anyway, hot surprising tears and I cried like I cried when I came out of surgery last year and there he was in the recovery room and he gave me a beautiful new pair of earrings all wrapped up in a pretty box with a shiny ribbon around it and a sweet little poem attached to it that I still carry in my purse.

And I cried like I cried the first time I ever wrote words from my heart that I didn’t know had been long in the making and were caressed and kissed tenderly by years and children and love and God.

And I cried like I’m crying right now just thinking of it all over again because Annie Spruce didn’t win diddly squat in the contest but she won my heart and she won our family’s love and she won my daughter’s trust in the Lord and because of that…

…that judge gave me all nines and tens.

I can change the cover someday if I want to.

I can run another punctuation edit if I have to.

But that judge gave me what I needed to hear.

My writing is solid.

My words are true.

This high-school graduate knows when a soul needs a good story that the thing to do is just to sit down and put it down.

And to bring all that love and all those kisses and all that gentle whispering from the One who created the heart that pumps it out.

That judge told me that when God puts a story in you, you have a job to share it with the world and when you do…

…it’s a beautiful thing.

That judge told me just what my cherished teacher told me all those years ago.

Share the good.

Keep going.

Just.keep.writing.

When you’ve been given…it’s up to you to share.

My name isn’t on that winner’s list.

Neither is Annie’s.

But today, we… me, and my dog…

…we’re kinda like winners.

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Chapter One, Annie Spruce

1 ~ BO

“When the Man waked up he said, ‘What is Wild Dog doing here?’ And the Woman said, ‘His name is not Wild Dog any more, but the First Friend, because he will be our friend for always and always and always.'”  ~Rudyard Kipling  

~

I told the kids to put their hands on him every single time they passed him.

“Your hands can heal.”

“Mama are you crying?” Their big eyes searched mine.

I’d found him emaciated and barely able to hold his head up when I returned home after a weekend women’s retreat. Irritated at my husband, I asked him if he’d only remembered to feed the kids.

Irritated only until he told me Bo wouldn’t eat. Worried then.

I dug out the syringe from the first aid kit, opened up the golden goodness in the jar of chicken broth I’d been saving since a friend gave us a case of it for helping her family butcher their flock that fall.

He sniffed at the handful of nutrients I offered him, licked at it, then, after three or four syringes of water, finally found the energy to eat a cup or so of good, strengthening protein.

“Good boy Bo.”

 ~

It had been almost exactly nine years since I’d brought him home from work. He was a gift. A present from the officers and dispatchers on night shift. They’d held him aside, kept him from going to the pound, given him to me at morning shift-change.

When I called Matt to tell him we had a new little buddy he told me no. Give it back.  We already have two dogs.

I can’t give back a birthday present!

“Yes you can.”

Fostering him wasn’t exactly keeping him, but it wasn’t giving him back so that’s what I called it when I cut my shift short and brought the pup home to get him a good meal and a long rest.

And as soon as Matt pulled in the driveway and saw me standing there with that fat yellow pup under my arm, there was never any more talk of giving him back. Bo belonged to us.

~

If it was his parathyroid as the vet suspected, a simple surgery would fix him, most likely put him on the path to several more happy years as our family’s watch dog. Mascot. Faithful friend.

So we had blood work done and waited on the results. The lab was out of state, so we had to wait a long time. While we waited, he wasted. Natural remedies kept him alive. I hand fed him pure coconut oil, depleted our supply of organic chicken meat, and syringed him kelp broths and as much water as I could get him to take. The kids and I researched online and checked the feed store for things that would help him hold on until we had a diagnosis.

His comfort took priority. Had there been just a smaller chance of a full recovery, we would’ve put him down, he was that weak.

But there was hope.  Strong hope.

So the kids would lay down next to him on his bed, make sure his blanket was on straight and use their hands to heal. Daily calls to the vet to check on lab reports became the news of the day. No results.

We prayed for him every single night.

Hang in there Bo.

~

When we brought the first baby home, he was like a big awkward teenager. Not quite sure where to stand, what to say, how to act. So he just wagged his tail and sniffed. Stood in the corner and looked at the new thing.

By the time the third baby came there were two toddlers in the house and his big buddy died. His big buddy had been boss dog.

When his big boss was loaded up in the truck and never came home, Bo sat in the front yard for a whole afternoon looking up the driveway.

The next day he became the big boss. He had a lot of things to take care of.

When the kids went outside, Bo went outside. When the kids came in, he came in. If a moose came into the yard, he chased it off. When a car pulled in the driveway, he sniffed it out before anyone came to the door. He made sure the kids had a sidekick. He sat patiently while they saddled him and tied him to doorknob hitching posts.

When the fourth baby came home, he was an expert. It was just another thing to take care of.

~

The vet called on a Thursday night after their office had closed. They’d received a late afternoon package. The lab results confirmed yes, it was his parathyroid. Bring Bo first thing in the morning for surgery they told me.

I strapped everyone in their car seats, watched the sunrise as we crossed the bridge over the river, Bo curled up on the floor behind my seat, right beneath the dangling feet of his kids.

“What if BoBo dies Mama?” My oldest has always been my worrier.

I choke back tears and tell him no matter what happens, they have been blessed in a way that many people will never be. To have been loved by a dog so loyal, so faithful, even if we don’t get to bring this yellow dog home, even if this was the last ride in our truck that he’d ever take, our life was made more beautiful because God put this dog in it. And that was what we thought of when we left him at the vet’s office.

And I cried all the way home.

­­~

We picked him up the next day at lunch time. The tumor was the size of a walnut. It’d been clinging to his parathyroid, an organ the size of a grain of rice.

He was a new dog right out of the office. He felt so good we took him to the beach. I borrowed a little red hoodie from my son and put it on Bo to keep off the chill.

As soon as it was zipped up across his furry chest, Bo went splashing in the ocean. He was alive again.

~

We had a good few days with him until the morning he urinated blood. Then began the every other day calcium checks. After a disease like this, the body may not remember how to make and regulate calcium and vitamins the vet said.

Steroids, Vitamin D, antibiotics…he had his own pharmacy. I turned to the coconut oil again, and started boiling chicken, shredding kale and carrots. I fed him well.

But still he deteriorated. If he could just get over the hump. If we could just get his kidneys to kick back in gear. Each lab test showed he was at a standstill.

On a Wednesday, after two weeks of running him in for lab checks, Matt and I decided it was time. He wasn’t improving. I knew if I could keep his system strong he’d have a fighting chance. But all the system strengthening wasn’t working. He could barely hold his body up to pee. If he didn’t make a significant turn-around by Saturday, we were going to take him in and let our beloved Dr. Tabby put him to rest.

~

We never had to decide. He left us on Thursday morning. He died with his big yellow head in my lap, right here in the home he watched over and loved.

When Matt carried him outside, wrapped tenderly in one of our best sheets, we gently set his body down and let each of the children say goodbye, pet the velvet ears of the sweet animal that’d been part of every single day of their childhood. Then we put our old friend in the ground.

We wept as we prayed around his grave. With tears rolling down our chins, we filled in the hole, tamped down the earth, and thanked God for the life of our yellow dog. Then, with the sun sending sprays of light through the spruce trees, we wiped our eyes and we went inside and had pancakes.

 ~

To June 3 004

Bo’s last photo on his last trip to the ocean.

{{Excerpt and photo, © Cassandra Rankin, from Annie Spruce, The Dog that Didn’t Die}}

***

From the pain of losing our Bo, to the joy of finding our Annie Spruce, our family has learned so much about love and friendship and the surprise of God’s care. Join our family, and find your heart warmed by this sweet little story that is both good…and true.

Purchase your copy of Annie Spruce for Kindle here, or a soft cover version at www.cassandrarankin.net

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In the woods of Alaska, an unexpected and bloody surprise awaits a family at a rural pull-off. Little did they know, the mess they stumbled upon would soon build the faith of a small girl, her family, and a homeless man. Their story is a tender display of how, by answering the smallest of prayers, God shows us the bigness of Him.

Annie Spruce is the true account of an extraordinary dog who reminds us that amidst the messes of this life, there is joy and there is love. The story of Annie Spruce brings a message of family and friendship, and evokes a sense of delicate care that will delight all ages for generations to come.

“This book HAD to be written, and it’s AMAZING. A story too miraculous to be true. Yet it happened.” G. Litzen

“Your talents give you the ability to place the reader in the midst of the story, feeling the heartbreak and jubilation as each tender moment develops. The message is clear, God hears our prayers, great and small – our faith in Him brings life to those prayers. Annie Spruce sits right in that spot of your soul where it reaches out and plays your heartstrings like a well tuned fiddle. I give it a standing ovation!” ~S.Wafer

“I loved this book. Beautifully written and very heartwarming. One of the best books I’ve read in a long time. Highly recommended for dog lovers.” ~Nicole (Amazon)

“I love this book! I love this dog! I love this family and their incredible story of faith, compassion, and strength. This book cannot help but touch the very core of your heart. God bless you Rankin family!!!” ~C.J. Rhoads

Dancing With an Indie Publisher

I stink terribly at this book selling gig.

I think I just wanna go back to WRITING the books and let the seller person take care of selling them.

Oh wait.

Right.

I AM the seller person.

{{Sigh}}

How depressing when you want to just do a sale and start giving some books away for FREEE and you get to see all kinds of new names from a drawing who are going to get FREEE books and you dance and dance in circles and decide you’re going to get your Kindle side in on the fun and your hair spins around and your dress floops out in a flowy circle as your outstretched arms gracefully release rose petals and free books…things that will beautify the WHOLE WIDE WORLD.

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And then FWAP…it all comes to a screeching halt when you misstep and trip and the rose petals fall to the ground and one of those books comes flying back and hits you upside the head and you remember…

Oh yeah.

It ain’t like that is it?

So today my wee little dream of my wee little sale was like that book fwapping when Amazon told me I WASN’T ALLOWED to have a sale on MY book because I just had one and I had to WAIT until MAY.

Bossy huh?

How’s a gal supposed to get her Julie Andrews on with THAT kind of noise??

Talk about a writer’s straight jacket. Geez.

So I have to wait.

BUT.

I am SO excited that I get to mail copies of Annie Spruce to ten happy winners from nine different states! Those ten were out of 606 that entered the Goodreads giveaway.

See why I just want to let my sweet books fly into the arms of my readers? Six HUNDRED people y’all! They wanted to read about my little girl’s prayer and our sweetie pie dog. How SWEEEET is that??

So, I guess you probably get the idea that I like people to have our book. So there’ll be a sale. As in, a FREE sale. SOON. As soon as Amazon LETS me. Gosh we love em but these rules..these rules….

And this Goodreads giveaway has been so much fun…don’t be surprised if I soon don my twirling skirt and my rose petals. I’ll be ready for another go round.

Minus the fwapping of course.

🙂