On my website and social media, I’ve been talking about my partial blindness and the condition that caused it. Yeah, it does suck to be launching a novel when I lack my usual bullheaded energy. I thought readers might like to actually see me and hear me say, “I’m okay.”

Behold, 5 Things That Suck About Launching a Book!

Learn more about “Hard to Die” and get your own copy.

Dad stayed in the car while I walked across the expanse of grass. Touring graveyards has to be hard. His 60th reunion program indicated that it would be his last.

I am glad I am with him.

Alone, I stood at the foot of the grave of my great grandfather. The man whose scowling photo frightened me as a little girl.

Thomas Jefferson Watkins.

And, I shuddered. It was another sign. To keep trying. Just when I needed it.

It will make sense to everyone someday, but for now, it is enough that I see it.

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This post is part of the Mirror Series. If this is your first visit to the Mirror Series, please click here and follow the arrows at the top right of each post to read the series from the beginning. Thank you for reading!

She did it one time too many. Mistress left me with Boyfriend for the night. Work Reasons, she said, though I made sure the last time she did it was the Last Time She Did. Chewing up her favorite pair of stilettos and peeing on them gave her a satisfying indication of my ire.

I didn’t like staying with Boyfriend. His bed was lumpy, and he rarely washed the sheets, and sometimes he stayed up all night watching television, and there was no room for me to squeeze on the sofa. Being there was disruptive, because I was not the Boston Terrier Queen.

Now, hold on. Before you roll your eyes and say Garth Stein already wrote the best-selling dog book. I’m not wasting my time reading another story told from the dog’s perspective, give me a minute. I’m Jazzmine, and I’m a DEAD dog. Seeing my whole life flash before my eyes from page 1 to 250? LAME. I can tell you all about being dead, what happens when you die.

Ghosts tell the best stories, because to us, they’re revelations of fact. Autobiographical, if you will. They enlighten the listener with the vision of what’s true, what they can expect on the flip side of life. To me, the most telling combinations merge the two – what you can see reflected in the mirror of what you think you will see when death happens to you.

On this night, Boyfriend let me have a whole side of the bed. I snuggled up next to him and pretended he was her, let out that long sigh that always preceded running in my sleep. Only, sleep wouldn’t come. The white hairs on the back of my neck stood on end, and the black ones along the length of my spine followed. Even wallowing on my back didn’t help. Those hairs were like acupuncture needles, pricking me a thousand times. With a loud snort – the preeminent signal of my disgust – I flipped onto my four paws and stood, rooted around the covers for a more fitting place to doze.

At the foot of the bed, I saw it. A shimmering image of a mustachioed man dressed in a checkered lumberjack shirt and hunting pants, topped with a trucker hat, waving its arms in slow motion, slicing the air in front of it without disruption. Whoever this glowing intruder was gave me what I craved – the perfect excuse to bark my head off. I charged it, but it was planted and didn’t flinch. My most ferocious snarls only caused it to reach toward me as if its touch could make me stop. My thoughts of hiding under the bed were interrupted by Boyfriend’s shouting Who are you!?

This thing had to be real. He saw it, too.

While he tried to shield himself with the stinky sheets, I attacked with renewed purpose. Whatever-this-was could not scare me. I jumped from the bed and tried to tear into it. Instead, I banged my flat snout into the side of the bed. Weaving on unsteady feet, I chased the floating apparition until I ran face-first into the glass of the back door. Foiled again, I stood there and kept demanding that it stay away from me. I think I barked for two nights in a row.

I never saw it again, until I died.

That’s when he cornered me, told me I didn’t understand what it was like to see someone else living in my house. He died in a hunting accident, years before, but he always liked to immerse himself in what had been his life on the anniversary of his death.

I understand now. I haunt those places, too. I’m here to tell you it’s all true.

For Jazzmine. I miss you.