“Winning a Pony” by K. B. Inglee

“Winning a Pony” by K. B. Inglee

When I was a kid there were lots of contests that offered a pony as the first prize. I entered the ones I could, but never won anything. I was pretty young when I began to wonder what happened to all those ponies who were forced to live in the front room of a third-floor apartment or in a city parking lot. I was pretty old when I figured out there was no pony, but probably a cash prize to cover the cost of one.

My parents offered to pay half the fee for riding lessons when I was in first grade. All the adults in my life suddenly had a chore that would pay a nickel or a dime. I was steadfast and never spent a cent until I had saved all the money I needed for the lessons. I rode for three years on that one series of lessons that should have lasted 3 months.

For the rest of my life I snatched every opportunity to be around horses. I wrote my first short story when I was in fourth grade. It was about a young girl winning a horse.

When my daughter, Bodge, wanted riding lessons, I was quick to comply. She stated as a student on the pony I saw as much like the one I had never won. Her name was Tea Cup. It wasn’t long before my daughter was riding the cross-country course at the farm. I was teaching beginning riding to kids and, with one of the other mothers who also rode there, leading the 4H group.

Bodge was 14 when the county 4H leader called me and said our county was up for the Bob Evans horse. Bodge ought to try for it.

Bob Evans offered one of his registered quarter horses to each state where Bob Evans products were sold. The state 4H office decided who got the horse.

This time it wasn’t a matter of dropping a numbered slip into a box. Bodge had to write an essay on why she wanted the horse and what she would to with it. Her riding instructor had to write a referral. We had to prove that we would keep the horse properly. And we had to go to the Bob Evans Farm in Ohio to pick the horse up.

We spent the weekend in Rio Grand, Ohio, looking over the horses that were up for grabs, all registered quarter horses with long pedigrees. “I want that one,” She said pointing to one of two red roans.

But this part of the process was a lottery. Each kid was given a number. Each 4Her got the horse that entered the shoot in that order. The horses were herded toward a shoot. First horse in would be Bodge’s. A little black colt nosed through the group and was about to step into the shoot, when a big pushy mare forced him out of the way.

So my daughter won the horse I had tried to win for my whole childhood. She called her Sausage, in part for Bob Evans, and in part for her color. Sausage (Fools Enchantment on her registration papers) was with us for almost 20 years.

Oddly, I never wrote another horse story.

 

Celebrating Cats in October

I never realized there were so many cat-related holidays in October and that the whole month is considered Black Cat Awareness Month. Global Cat Day, also known as National Feral Cat Day, was celebrated on October 16. National Black Cat Day is celebrated on October 27, and National Cat Day is on October 29.

Black Cat Day honors those dark-furred felines who have been given a bad rap by being accused of causing bad luck if they cross your path. Because of this, they are the least likely cats to be adopted. To counteract this myth and raise the image of mini panthers as they are sometimes known, two black cat holidays were created – Black Cat Appreciation Day on August 17 that I wrote about in the summer (https://wp.me/p6m4z7-28R) and National Black Cat Day on October 29.

National Cat Day was created to help the public recognize the need to rescue cats. It also encourages cat lovers to recognize the companionship and unconditional love that pet cats bestow upon their humans. While these special dates are important to feline aficionados, there’s a more important and personal one for me and my fur kitties. It’s only fitting that Harry and Hermione’s Gotcha Day is celebrated on October 24 on my daughter’s birthday and only a few days before National Black Cat and National Cat Days.

We hadn’t planned to pick up two kittens for Holly’s birthday last year, but it turned out to be her best gift ever. Harry, who happens to be a black cat, and his sister, Hermione, a dilute calico, have grown into beautiful cats and become good fur friends to our 11-year-old tabby, Stripey.

I’ve written about how they came into our household nearly a year after we lost our 17-year-old Siamese, Oliver. (https://wp.me/p6m4z7-2dD) They also share their adventures in our home in Kitty Korner Columns on my cat character’s blog (https://sneakylibrarycat.wordpress.com).

Recently, I’ve penned some poems about them that I published on AllPoetry.com. I think they’re appropriate to share for the upcoming cat holidays and as a belated Gotcha Day tribute to Harry and Hermione:

Cat Café

Room full of cats
Room full of people
Black kitten by the window
Silky fur, big golden eyes
playful yet a little shy
Waiting for us
Can we take him home?
He’s part of a pair
Sweet calico
pretty tri-colored girl
tail held high without fear
Waiting for us
Can we take two?
Room in our home
Room in our lives
We lost our senior boy last year

Cats by Day and Night

Harry in the morning
black head resting against my pillow
his purrs wake me softly
I run my hands through his silky fur
the day brightens

I dress and shower
say goodbye to my cats
hard to leave for work
seeing sad furry faces
I’ll be back.

I visit for lunch
serve their favorite treats
All three gather round to snack
Stripey rubs my ankles with his cheeks
the day brightens

I close the door
wave to my cats in the windows
watching me go
sad furry faces
I’ll be back.

I arrive home
greeted by all three
I feed them before I eat
I’m glad to be back
with my fur babies

Hermione at night
white paws on my sheets
kneading a gentle lullaby
I fall asleep to the rhythm of her strokes
the night brightens

What are your plans for Black Cat and National Cat Day? If you’d like to post pictures of your black cats on social media, you can use the hashtag #NationalBlackCatDay. Likewise, you may share photos and stories of your cats with #NationalCatDay. The National Cat Day website offers 20 ways to celebrate this day. National Cat Day was created by Pet Lifestyle Expert and Animal Welfare Advocate, Colleen Paige, in 2005.   Since its inception, it has helped save the lives of more than one million cats. National Black Cat Day is an opportunity to honor your own or other cats of dark color a few days before Halloween.

Dog Tunes

I always have music on. I listen to classical and jazz when I edit. I listen to pop or rock when I’m writing. I love all kinds of music, and my playlists are often eclectic. I know it’s #Caturday, but here’s my dog-themed one.

  • “Hound Dog” – Elvis Presley
  • “Gonna Buy Me A Dog” – The Monkees
  • “Who Let the Dogs Out” – The Baja Men
  • “Move it On Over” – Hank Williams, George Thorogood, Travis Tritt
  • “The More Boys I Meet” – Carrie Underwood
  • “I Love my Dog” – Cat Stevens
  • “Every Dog Has His Day” Toby Keith
  • “Black Dog” Led Zepplin
  • “Old Shep”  – Elvis Presley
  • “Ol’ Red” – Blake Shelton
  • “Cracker Jack” – Dolly Parton
  • “Old King” Neil Young
  • “Martha My Dear” The Beatles
  • “Gypsy, Joe, and Me” – Dolly Parton
  • “Like My Dog” Billy Currington
  • “How Much is That Doggie in the Window” – Patti Page
  • “Blue” – Peter, Paul, and Mary
  • “Feed Jake” – The Pirates of Mississippi
  • “Me and You and a Dog Named Boo” – Lobo”
  • “Snoopy and the Red Baron” – The Royal Guardsmen
  • “Waymore’s Blues” – Waylon Jennings
  • “Walking the Dog” – Rufus Thomas
  • “Old Blue” – Joan Baes and the Birds
  • “The Promised Land” – Bruce Springsteen
  • “One Too Many Mornings” – Bob Dylan
  • “Hey Bulldog” – The Beatles
  • “Diamond Dogs” – David Bowie
  • “Atomic Dog” – George Clinton
  • “Dog” Ben Folds

And don’t forget about Snoop Dogg, the Pet Shop Boys, and Three Dog Night.

What else would you add to my list?

 

 

Welcome, Siri Zwemke

Pens, Paws, and Claws would like to welcome Siri Zwemke to the blog!

Tell our readers a little about yourself and your writing.

I’ve always loved to write, but the opportunities that have presented themselves have been short stories or articles for newsletters (work) and the occasional article for a publication. After 20 years as Director (and Founder) of the Siamese Cat Rescue Center, there were so many funny stories I wanted to both remember and share, that it made sense to write them down in book format.

Tell us about your pets. Are any of them models for pets in your writing?

Over the years with Siamese Rescue, we have always taken in the cats that couldn’t be adopted out – typically the older ones or the ones with significant behavior issues. Many of the cats we only had for a few years, due to their condition, so over the years of Rescue, as well as before Rescue, I think we’ve had a total of 50 some personal cats. Add into that dogs, horses, chickens, ducks, goats and various other pets growing up; my life has certainly centered around animals. Currently we only have two cats and they are ‘quasi-normal’ for Siamese.

Tell us about any pets you have in your books/stories. Are any of them recurring characters? What are they and their names?

Rescue Meez is the story/history/memoir of how I ended up going from crazy cat lady to the Director of a national organization that has rescued over 13,000 cats and spawned separate organizations across the United States. There are some wonderful stories of some of our most memorable cats and the experiences we had together – Koda, Squirrel, PowPow to name just a few.

What are you reading now?

I am a voracious reader, completing on an average two to three books a week. I just finished Lost Horizon by James Hilton and before that Peony by Pearl S. Buck, and I am about to start a reread of Stuart Little. I read a lot of different genres, but the writing has got to be good and I don’t hesitate to put down a book if I don’t like it.

What writing projects are you currently working on?

I’m currently finishing up an autobiography of my life and the lessons I’ve learned, moving from a very traumatic childhood to where I am now. While I’m going to publish it, I haven’t yet decided if I will release it to the general public or just keep it internal for family members and descendants. After that, I plan to work on a book of short stories from the cat’s point of view, storytelling how some of our memorable cats made it into our rescue program.

Who is your favorite author and why?

I don’t have one favorite author, but a few of my top ten include Catherine Ryan Hyde, Harlan Coben, Kristin Hannah

Did you have childhood pets? If so, tell us about them.

Certainly did. We had horses (three); dogs (two); cats (multiple); chickens, and ducks.

How do you use animals in your writing? Are they a character in their own right or just mentioned in passing?

My current and first book centers around some of the many cats we rescued over the last 20 years, so they are the primary characters! A book full of true stories, that I worked hard at making enjoyable and happy reading (with just a few tears thrown in here and there).

Why do you include animals in your writing?

I wanted to write about something I knew and had experienced first hand, and animals it was!

What’s your favorite book or movie that had an animal as a central character? Why?

I am leery about reading animal stories, as I don’t want to read anything that has animal abuse or too much sadness in it – I see enough of that in my career. However I did enjoy the book Racing in the Rain. I haven’t yet seen the movie.

What’s your real-life funniest pet story?

Read the book I’d have to say doing the Dance of the Dead Mouse naked, in my birthday suit, takes the cake.

When did you know you were a writer? And how did you know?

I’ve always received very positive feedback from the articles and stories I did for the twice-yearly newsletter for work.

What’s the number one item on your bucket list and why?

I don’t have a bucket list like other people. I strive, every morning, to find happiness and peace of mind in that particular day.

What do your pets do when you are writing?

What’s in your “To Be Read” (TBR) pile right now? And how many TBR piles do you have?

I rely on Goodreads (otherwise I can’t remember what I have already read) and I have 861 books on my ‘want to read’ list!

What’s the most unusual pet you’ve ever had?

Probably the duck that lived in our living room growing up.

What are two things you know now that you wish you knew when you started writing?

Writing is the easy part. Marketing is very difficult and time consuming.

Where is your favorite place to read (or write)? Why?

On the couch. It has a great view and is very comfortable.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to be a writer?

Persevere! It’s such a great feeling to get a book out there!

What is one lesson you learned about writing or publishing that you’d like to share?

Nothing happens quickly. Patience will serve you well.

About Siri:

Siri Zwemke is the founder and Director of the Siamese Cat Rescue Center, a 20-year-old internet-based non-profit that spans the Eastern third of the United States and has helped 13,000 cats to date.

Zwemke switched careers mid-stream when her love of Siamese cats turned her into a crazy cat lady, rescuing one too many cats and finding herself trying to fill a need she didn’t realize was out there. When the shelters kept calling and she kept saying yes to Siamese cats that were needing help, Zwemke left her job as a teacher of the hearing impaired and took on building a non-profit that eventually spanned 20 states and had 900 volunteers.

Zwemke has recently put pen to paper to document some of the hilarious situations she found herself in as she learned about cat rescue the hard way. In her first book, Rescue Meez, Zwemke pokes fun at herself in a lighthearted manner as she grows the Rescue from the ground up. From handling rifle-wielding hillbillies in the mountains of Virginia to doing the Dance of the Dead Mouse, Zwemke takes us on a journey through the last 20 years as she shares information on the trials and tribulations of building a cat rescue organization.

Currently residing in Virginia with her husband, Darrell (whom she met through the Rescue), several cats and a dog, Zwemke enjoys gardening, reading, and is working towards her black belt in Martial Arts.

Zwemke can be reached at siri@meezer.org

Let’s Be Social:

Love Siamese?

Join us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SiameseCatRescue

Follow Instagram: @Siri_Zwemke_Author

https://www.facebook.com/SiriZwemkeAuthor

Booking it!  Rescue Meez available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other retailers

Book Link:

This Old Dog

By Maggie King

Love dogs? Consider loving a senior “pup.”

My Old Dog: Rescued Pets with Remarkable Second Acts is a beautiful collection of stories and photographs celebrating senior dogs, created by journalist Laura T. Coffey (author) and Lori Fusaro (photographer). I can’t improve on the Amazon description, so I won’t even try:

“No Dog Should Die Alone” was the attention-grabbing — and heart-stirring — headline of journalist Laura T. Coffey’s TODAY show website story about photographer Lori Fusaro’s work with senior shelter pets. While generally calm, easy, and already house-trained, these animals often represent the highest-risk population at shelters. With gorgeous, joyful photographs and sweet, funny, true tales of “old dogs learning new tricks,” Coffey and Fusaro show that adopting a senior can be even more rewarding than choosing a younger dog. You’ll meet endearing elders like Marnie, the irresistible shih tzu who has posed for selfies with Tina Fey, James Franco, and Betty White; Remy, a soulful nine-year-old dog adopted by elderly nuns; George Clooney’s cocker spaniel, Einstein; Susie, the funny little senior dog who got adopted by “Humans of New York” creator Brandon Stanton and “Susie’s Senior Dogs” founder Erin Stanton; and Bretagne, the last known surviving search dog from Ground Zero.

They may be slower moving and a tad less exuberant than puppies, but these pooches prove that adopting a senior brings immeasurable joy, earnest devotion, and unconditional love.

In 2012, Lori Fusaro, an advocate for homeless animals, volunteered with various Los Angeles animal shelters to photograph the dogs up for adoption. When the photos were uploaded to the shelter websites, they proved hugely successful at bringing people into the shelters. One day Lori met a depressed 16-year old female dog who had been surrendered for adoption. Lori knew the dog’s prospects were dim. A week later, she named the dog Sunny and brought her home. When Lori saw how Sunny perked up and found renewed life, it prompted her to write a blog post about Sunny and the wonderful dogs at the shelter.

Lori Fusaro

The blog post caught the attention of Laura T. Coffey, a writer for the NBC Today website. Laura interviewed Lori and the article went viral. People across the country thanked Lori for informing them about senior dogs. Many shared their own stories of giving old pups a loving home. Lori appeared on NBC Nightly News and the Today Show. Ms. Coffey teamed up with Lori to publish a coffee table book. Their goal: to inspire people to think about adopting a senior animal. Laura and Lori traveled the country, meeting people and dogs.

And so My Old Dog: Rescued Pets with Remarkable Second Acts was born.

Sunny lived happily with Lori until the age of 18. Lori continues to be of service as staff photographer for the Best Friends Animal Society-Los Angeles.

Laura T. Coffey

Note: this post focuses on dogs, but I’m not forgetting the wonderful senior cats who need homes. Here are just a few reasons to adopt a senior dog and/or cat:

  • You can be a hero
  • Older dogs/cats are often already trained
  • Seniors have fewer surprises
  • Seniors are less demanding
  • Old pups/kitties give instant companionship
  • Old dogs/cats do learn new tricks (cats, too! really)

Here’s even more incentive: November is National Adopt a Senior Pet Month!

I first learned of the My Old Dog project from a Daily Word article written by Lori’s husband, Darrell Fusaro. Read “Doing What You Love Is Being of Service.”

Buy My Old Dog: Rescued Pets with Remarkable Second Acts

Read more about Lori and Laura and their work.

Read “There’s Life (and Love) in These Old Dogs Yet.”

Read about “Old Friends Senior Dog Sanctuary.”

Read “No Dog Should Die Alone.”

My Old Dog is on Twitter at @MyOldDogBook

Animal Rescue Site: feed and care for animals with a daily click

Cute dogs courtesy of clipartpanda.com

 

Maggie King is the author of the Hazel Rose Book Group mysteries, including Murder at the Book Group and Murder at the Moonshine Inn. Her short stories appear in Deadly Southern Charm, Virginia is for Mysteries (Vols. 1&2), and 50 Shades of Cabernet.

Maggie is a member of Sisters in Crime, James River Writers, and International Thriller Writers. She has worked as a software developer, retail sales manager, and customer service supervisor. Maggie graduated from Elizabeth Seton College and earned a B.S. degree in Business Administration from Rochester Institute of Technology. She has called New Jersey, Massachusetts, and California home. These days she lives in Richmond, Virginia with her husband, Glen, and cats, Morris and Olive. She enjoys reading, walking, movies, traveling, theatre, and museums.

Website: http://www.maggieking.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MaggieKingAuthor

Twitter: https://twitter.com/MaggieKingAuthr

Amazon author pagehttp://amzn.to/2Bj4uIL

 

 

Wild Times at Dog Summer Camp!

Hello again from Cherie O’Boyle, author of many dog stories. See them all at www.cherieoboyle.com

Who would you most like to go on vacation with next summer? Who could you spend a whole week with in the mountains, hiking, swimming, and enjoying the breeze in the pines, and never once get into an argument? Who is your most favorite companion when you just want to chill, read, and nap?

Trick question. Your dog, of course.

Dog summer camp. It’s just like the summer camp you knew and, I hope, loved as a child, only better. Hanging out with your best friend and making new friends, learning to weave a lanyard (or a new leash), tromping through the woods, everything you and your dog love doing, and doing it together.

There’s lots more to dog summer camp, including an almost endless variety of classes from “puppy socialization” to “dog massage.” Agility, certainly, from beginning to distance. Lure-coursing, learning to kayak with your dog on board, nosework, and reliable recall.

Before you go, your dog should be well-socialized with other dogs of all sizes and ages, able, for example, to hop in the back of an SUV with a couple of other unfamiliar dogs for a ride to the trailhead. There will also be times when your dog will need to be crated and should be willing to wait quietly while you go to the dining hall for meals. Not much can disturb the peace of the forest quite as much as a screaming, howling, distraught dog.

You need to have highly developed social skills as well. When the camp director suggests that crates housing reactive dogs need to be moved away from heavily used pathways, you should be willing to notice that she’s talking to you. Being able to be vigilant as to how not only your behavior, but also your dog’s behavior, impacts on others is a prerequisite for a successful camp experience for all.

Lastly, I am going to suggest that even if you have and love more than one dog, you choose just one to take to camp. Juggling your own needs and wants with those of one dog is hard enough. Two is almost impossible. Fido wants to walk down to the beach for a swim. Muffy hates the water but loves that tracking class back up in the woods. You have walked your feet off already and just want to sit and visit with the other humans. Who wins? 

I am sometimes asked how I ever discovered camps for dogs, and that is kind of a fun story. Like the rest of you, I love to read stories about dogs, and I also love mysteries. So naturally I found Susan Conant’s wonderful mystery series “for dog lovers.” One of Susan’s books is Black Ribbon in which the protagonist takes her dog to summer camp. I read the story, and then said to myself, “Wait, there’s such a thing as summer camp for dogs?” The rest is history.

This year was Shiner’s sixth year at camp, and he starts whining with eager anticipation the minute we get to the entry gate. Most summer camps for you and your dog are located on the east coast and mid-west, but since we live in northern California, we go to Lake Tahoe for our annual week together in the mountains. There are also getting to be lots more resorts and retreats that welcome dogs. Do you know of a great place to vacation with your dog? Comment below with your favorite places so we can all check them out.

Welcome back, Debra H. Goldstein!

Pens, Paws, and Claws would like to welcome Debra H. Goldstein back to the blog!

Tell our readers a little about yourself and your new book.

When the publishers of my first two books each went out of business, leaving me orphaned, I still wanted to write cozy mysteries, but I had a major problem. Traditionally, cozies take place in a closed environment, don’t have blood or sex on the page, and feature a character who demonstrates an expertise at crafts, cooking or baking. I’m not good at crafts and anything to do with the kitchen frightens me. As I thought about my dilemma of not being able to write what I know, I realized there had to be readers who weren’t handy with crafts or dreaded being in the kitchen. Consequently, I created Sarah Blair who finds cooking from scratch worse than dealing with murder.

 Two Bites Too Many is the second book in the Sarah Blair series. In this book, things are finally looking up for Sarah and her Siamese cat, RahRah. Sarah has somehow managed to hang on to her law firm receptionist job and – if befriending flea-bitten strays at the local animal shelter counts – lead a thriving social life. For once, she almost has it together more than her enterprising twin, Emily, a professional chef whose efforts to open a gourmet restaurant have hit a real dead end.

 When the president of the town bank is murdered after icing Emily’s business plans, all eyes are on the one person who left the scene with blood on her hands – the twins’ sharp-tongued mother, Maybelle. Determined to get her mom off the hook ASAP, Sarah must collect the ingredients of a deadly crime to bring the true culprit to justice.

Tell us about any pets you have in your books/stories. Are any of them recurring characters? What are they and their names?

 RahRah, the Siamese cat who lives with Sarah, is introduced in the first book, One Taste Too Many, as a primary series character. He, rather than Sarah, runs the show. In Two Bites Too Many, Fluffy, a dog, also becomes part of the ongoing story. Although Fluffy is a recurring character, she knows her role is secondary to RahRah’s.

 Did you have childhood pets? If so, tell us about them

My first pets were three small turtles – Turk, Durk, and Lurk. When my family moved to a new state, I had to give them to the boy next door. After we moved, we got a toy poodle who was part of our family for the next twenty years. When Lord Silver Mist passed away, a bichon frise took over running my life.

How do you use animals in your writing? Are they a character in their own right or just mentioned in passing?

I use animals in my writing to create a sense of reality for readers and as a means of bringing different personality traits out in my human characters. In the Sarah Blair series, I try to make RahRah and Fluffy pets like those readers might have. That way, they can identify with each animal’s behavior and characteristics. I also want the animals in my books to help readers understand my human characters. As they see the characters interact with the animals in kind, mean, loving or indifferent ways, I hope subliminal clues are sent that generate reactions to the respective characters.

What’s your favorite book or movie that had an animal as a central character? Why?

 My favorite animal used as a central character wasn’t in a book or a movie, but rather in a television show. As a child, watching reruns of Fury, I was impressed with the magnificence of the beautiful stallion, but what really captured me was the way the stories were written. There was always a good vs. bad plot line that would never have been resolved in the same way if Fury hadn’t been a central character. I think watching how different characters reacted to Fury and how Fury interacted with them taught me the ways an animal can be used to move a story along in a believable manner.

What’s in your “To Be Read” (TBR) pile right now?

See the picture below — and this doesn’t include what’s on my e-reader.

Where is your favorite place to read (or write)? Why?

My favorite place to read and write is in an oversized club chair. As her first anniversary gift, my mother had the chair made two inches deeper than normal to accommodate my father’s long legs. The arms of the chair are between four and five inches wide. It was the perfect place for him to read the newspaper, write letters, or draw and for my sister and me to stretch our imaginations.

When my sister and I were children, we used the chair to pretend to ride horses and as the base for covered wagons, stagecoaches and tents. The chair was wide enough for both of us to hide in it or pretend one of us was a passenger while the other was a driver or riding shotgun.

When my father died, my mother took comfort curling up in the chair. When she passed away, other than some artwork, the chair was the only thing I wanted from her home. I had it shipped from California to Alabama. Today, it is where I sit with my laptop. Someday, I hope one of my children will continue the tradition of reading and writing in the chair.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to be a writer?

 I would tell an aspiring writer to read extensively and think about the feelings each book or story generates. At this point, the reader should read with only the hope of enjoying the work in mind. There is no further agenda other than exposure to the works of an array of writers. Slowly, the would-be writer, now reader, will recognize what is moving, perplexing, exciting or boring. Once a wide gambit has been read, then, and only then, should the would-be writer dissect the stories and books to better understand their internal structure, plots, settings, and characterization. After doing all this, the individual should write the book or story that person wants to write.

What is one lesson you learned about writing or publishing that you’d like to share?

The one lesson I learned is to write what I want to write. Although I read and studied the masters, other books in the genre I thought might want to write in, and what seemed hot on the publishing lists, the lesson I learned was to write the best book or story I could using techniques I’d gleaned from other works, but realizing my tale had to come from me. Trends go out of style; formulas can be broken, but an honest work will stand on its own merit and hopefully find an audience to resonate with.

What’s next for you with your writing projects?

October was a busy month for me. Kensington released the second Sarah Blair mystery, Two Bites Too Many, so I will be busy with launch events and PR. An anthology edited by Michael Bracken, The Eyes of Texas: Private Eyes from the Panhandle to the Piney Woods, which contains my first private eye story, Harvey and the Redhead was published by Down & Out Books, Inc. I’ve already turned in the third Sarah Blair mystery, which will be published in September 2020, so besides the PR related to the two October publications, I plan to take two classes to advance my skills, write a few short stories in response to prompts, and begin the fourth book of the Sarah Blair series (yes, they recently bought two beyond the original three).

Show us a picture of your writing space or one of your bookcases. What does it say about your style?

It demonstrates that I don’t have any style because I’m so far behind on things, I don’t have time to establish one.

 About Debra:

Judge Debra H. Goldstein writes Kensington’s Sarah Blair mystery series (One Taste Too Many, Two Bites Too Many). She also wrote Should Have Played Poker and IPPY Award winning Maze in Blue. Her short stories, including Anthony and Agatha nominated “The Night They Burned Ms. Dixie’s Place,” have appeared in numerous periodicals and anthologies including Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine, Black Cat Mystery Magazine, and Mystery Weekly. Debra serves on the national boards of Sisters in Crime and Mystery Writers of America and is president of the Southeast Chapter of MWA and past president of SinC’s Guppy Chapter. Find out more about Debra at www.DebraHGoldstein.com .

https://www.amazon.com/Bites-Many-Sarah-Blair-Mystery-ebook/dp/B07MB4779P

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/two-bites-too-many-debra-h-goldstein/1130055243?

Let’s Be Social:

Website – www.DebraHGoldstein.com

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/DebraHGoldsteinAuthor/

Twitter – @DebraHGoldstein

Instagram – debra.h.goldstein

Bookbub – https://www.bookbub.com/profile/debra-h-goldstein

 

 

 

Welcome, N. L. LaFoille!

Pens, Paws, and Claws would like to welcome N. L. LaFoille to the blog.

Tell our readers a little about yourself and your books.

I write romantic women’s fiction. Whether it’s historical about pirates or cowboys (Nautical Miles and Lesser Evils, respectively) or contemporary (my upcoming 2020 release, The Pickling Secret), I love seeing my characters learn, grow and, of course, find love in the end.

I’m a mom to a 5-year-old daughter and an 11-year-old rat terrier. I teach sewing as a contributor to Sew News magazine and in monthly videos that can be found on the NationalSewingCircle YouTube channel.

I love to travel. Last year, we spent 10 weeks in Spain and are planning our winter trip this year to Thailand.

I spend my summers at home in Michigan, camping, gardening, foraging and canning the bounty, which inspired The Pickling Secret.

Tell us about your pets. Are any of them models for pets in your writing?

My dog, Finley, is an 11-year-old rat terrier. He’s a little brat who’s too smart for his own good. He enjoys snuggling, walking on your thighs with his poky paws, pulling used Kleenexes out of the pockets of yesterday’s pants and hates going for walks.

He is definitely the model for my latest dog character, a golden retriever named Molly in The Pickling Secret, though she is far better behaved.

What are you reading now?

I’ve started alternating reading non-fiction and fiction, which is a big change from when I was a kid and devoured all the novels I could.

I just finished The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman, which I highly recommend. Now I’m reading The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, which is an enlightening look into the psychedelic subculture of the mid ‘60s.

What writing projects are you currently working on?

I’m just polishing up The Pickling Secret, a contemporary romance set in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and have plans for another in that vein. I also have a regency romance and a sword-and-sorcery romance in various stages of progress. It’s an exciting/overwhelming time in my brain pan.

Did you have childhood pets? If so, tell us about them.

I have always had pets. My family kept picking up stray cats when I was a kid, and I’ve never been without a dog. I grew up with a Springer Spaniel, Duchess, then a miniature schnauzer, Jenny.

How do you use animals in your writing? Are they a character in their own right or just mentioned in passing?

Animals in my stories are always important. The way characters treat animals is a great way to learn about what kind of person that character is. Plus they create cute opportunities for characters to interact.

When did you know you were a writer? And how did you know?

I’ve been jotting down stories since I was a kid. When I was in high school, I completed my first novel, which was terrible, but it made me realize I could string a story together and make it into an actual book.

What do your pets do when you are writing?

My Finley likes to wriggle himself under the couch or wind himself up in the afghans. If I ever can’t find him, I just prod the heap of blankets and he’s usually there.

What’s the most unusual pet you’ve ever had?

My animals were all pretty tame; dogs, cats and fish. I also had a hamster when I was a kid. But my cousin, who lived next door to me, had emus, turkens and a horse, and I got to enjoy those without having to clean up after them.

What are two things you know now that you wish you knew when you started writing?

How to outline BEFORE starting to write. I was a pantser purely by incompetence and it made things a lot harder for me.

The first draft is allowed to suck. Just get those ideas down to create your framework and edit later.

Where is your favorite place to read (or write)? Why?

In our cozy attic, because between a work-from-home husband and a 5-year-old-daughter, it’s the only place in my house that’s quiet.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to be a writer?

 Read resources on the elements of writing (but only 2-3; all the different methods and opinions can get overwhelming) and read as many books as you can. Being a good reader exposes you to vocabulary and plot devices that you can use as inspiration for your own works.

About N. L.:

N.L. LaFoille writes romantic women’s fiction and lives in Michigan with her husband, daughter, rat terrier and red worm colony.

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The Hidden Costs of Dog Ownership by Jayne Ormerod

As any faithful followers of this blog know, we adopted two mutts last year. Having had many fur-babies over the many, many years of marriage, we went in with eyes wide open with regards to expected costs. We knew that a vet visit will set you back a pretty penny; heart-worm pills and flea and tick treatment were pricey, but not optional; and food and poop bags are included in the cost of being loved. But this time around there were some hidden costs that snuck up on us. And they are adding up quickly.

1. We have two “chewers”. It doesn’t seem to be a phase, but more of honing a life skill. First it was mulch, which was fine (and cheap!) But when we filled the toy box with lots of cute toys, the price of entertainment rose exponentially. Each double-digit priced toy gave about 15 minutes of entertainment before we needed to haul out the Jaws of Life and perform an emergency “squeaker extraction”. (We caught all but 2, which thankfully passed without incident!) It hurts my head to think about how much we “invested” in a few moments of fun for them. I have learned and now resist the urge to purchase the cute stuff. Instead I head over to the boring, unimaginative aisle for “Serious Chewers”. Himilayan Dog Chews (made of Yak Milk) run us about $30 per week. They also like various and sundry Nylabones and natural stick products, which last longer (but apparently don’t taste as yummy).

The chewing, however, expanded beyond suitable toys. If you come I my house you might think termites have run amok. My pups have chewed on the wood patio furniture, the wood trim on the house, the wood baseboards throughout the house, the edges of the wood stairs, the wood knobs on the bedroom dresser, the wood Captain’s chest in the bedroom (plus the rope handles), and the piano legs and bench! If it’s wood, they will chew.  It hurts my head to think about the repair bills…once they outgrow this stage.

2.  Again, we expected chewing and the loss of an occasional shoe. Heck, I even HOPED he would chew up my old shoes so I could, with a clear conscious, buy new ones! But my dogs have good taste, and only went for the new expensive shoes. Ones that I absolutely LOVED!

And yes, well-meaning readers, we did spray Bitter Apple everywhere. There were times I treated it like perfume and doused myself in it (because they liked to chew on shoes even when my feet were in them.) Do you know those crazy pooches even chewed the bottle? It leaked all over the table. It had to have tasted badly…and yet, they chewed.

3.  What I did NOT expect was that while I snuck out to get the mail, that they would sneak into my bedroom and devour every thing on my nightstand. Apparently, my little jewelry dish held some yummy items. They ate many earrings, and the ones on posts had to hurt! But the one I was most distressed over was my very favorite sea-glass earring. Notice that was singular…they only ate one…I still have the un-chewn one. I did not monitor the “output” for the missing one. I have shopped for something similar, but alas, nothing yet.

(It has just occurred to me the upside to this is my having to shop for replacement items! Maybe I need to rub some steak juice on some other things that are still perfectly serviceable but that I would love to replace! Brilliant, yes?)

4.  All the dogs we’ve ever had were issued one leash each, which lasted a lifetime and was only retired once the dog was no longer with us. One leash per dog was in the budget. But, again with the chewing thing. One evening my husband came home carrying little Tiller. In his hand he held the leash, which had been chewed into 7 pieces while husband had stood talking to a neighbor, with not one segment long enough to lead the dog home. (Yes, it must have been a long conversation…) So Tiller got a new one. Which he again chewed during a neighborly jaw-wobble. We are on leash #5 now, but who’s counting?

  1. But all of the above items are peanuts compared to the bed. No, they didn’t chew that. My husband cracked one night and lifted the 12-pound puppy on the bed to sleep. Fine when he was 12 pounds, but not so much when he grew to over 80 pounds, and liked to stretch out while he sleeps. The little one snuggles with us, too. I know, sleep with the dogs…wake up with fleas. Some people absolutely abhor the idea of dogs in sharing the beds. But I know for a fact I am not the only crazy dog-momma to do this! But I digress. To get back on point, the morning I woke having been pushed so far to the edge that my head rested on my nightstand (sans pillow), I said, “That’s it. I’m buying a king-sized bed.” Son talked us into a new hybrid-style mattress (which I will admit is super comfortable but it ain’t cheap). The bigger mattress required a bigger bed frame, bigger sheets, bigger comforter, and apparently bigger pillows! You do the math. But I’m happy to report we are all sleeping much better.

Despite the above, we still have the pups and enjoy every minute with them. It has been a bigger financial pill that we’d intended to swallow, but it’s repaid daily in puppy kisses and welcoming tail wags. I guess what I’m saying is, no matter how hard you try, you can’t put a price on puppy love.

ABOUT JAYNE:

Jayne Ormerod grew up in a small Ohio town then went on to a small-town Ohio college. Upon earning her degree in accountancy, she became a CIA (that’s not a sexy spy thing, but a Certified Internal Auditor.) She married a naval officer and off they sailed to see the world. After nineteen moves, they, along with their two rescue dogs Tiller and Scout, have settled into a cozy cottage by the sea. Jayne is the author of the Blonds at the Beach Mysteries, The Blond Leading the Blond, and Blond Luck, as well as a doze other short stories and novellas. Her most recent releases are Goin’ Coastal and To Fetch a Thief.

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Welcome back, A. R. Kennedy!

Pens, Paws, and Claws would like to welcome A. R. Kennedy back to the blog.

Tell our readers a little about yourself and your new book.

My new book, Sleuth on Safari, was inspired by my travel to South Africa a few years ago. I love animals, especially my two pups, and I love to travel. My favorite trips combine seeing new places and its wildlife.

Tell us about your pets. Are any of them models for pets in your writing?

I have two dogs. One is a rescue, H, and one is a miniature schnauzer, River. I’m sure their antics will be used in upcoming books and short stories.

My previous schnauzers, L & H who are still dearly missed, were the inspiration for Laude, in my Nathan Miccoli Mystery series.

How do you use animals in your writing? Are they a character in their own right or just mentioned in passing?

Animals are a huge part of all my novels. In Saving Ferris, failed out of service school golden retriever Ferris is the star of the book. In the Nathan Miccoli series, Laude is a scene stealer. In Sleuth on Safari, different types of animals play a role—the local wildlife. Searching for the Big Five, and other animals, on the game drives are key parts of any safari. I hope the reader finds themselves immersed in Naomi’s observations of the animals.

What’s your real-life, funniest pet story?

Shortly after graduating college, I got a beautiful black schnauzer puppy, L. One day, while walking the pup, I saw a neighbor who I was holding a package for. My puppy was rambunctious and quick. When I opened my apartment door, my pup saw my roommate’s cat and took off! Taking me with her. I fell flat on my face. I slowly got up, got the package and handed it to the neighbor. She never passed me again without laughing.

What’s the most interesting/fun/dangerous thing you’ve done in the name of research for one of your books?

I didn’t know it at the time but it was on the safari. I slept in a treehouse by myself! It was miles away from the lodge. I was the first in the group to go so I had no idea what I was getting myself into. It was a night filled with fear, anxiety, and amazing sights. Everyone at the lodge, guests and staff, was so impressed I stayed out there the whole night by myself!

Where is your favorite place to read (or write)? Why?

I only write at home. The rescue pup is usually on my lap. The puppy is running wild, anywhere and everywhere. I think she wants to be involved in the writing because she loves to chew on my glasses, pens, paper, phone and even my computer!

What advice would you give to someone who wants to be a writer?

I would give the advice that was given to me when I started by German novelist Beate Sauer — Write. Take a writing class.

What is one lesson you learned about writing or publishing that you’d like to share?        

Start branding and marketing months ahead of the book’s release. You need at least a six month plan for your release. The ‘write it and they will buy it’ strategy won’t work without a structured plan leading up to the novel’s release.

What do your pets do when you are writing?

Wreak havoc. No, that’s just the puppy. I’m fortunate my mother loves her ‘grand-puppy’ and watches her for me so I can write.

What’s next for you with your writing projects?

The Traveler Cozy Mystery series continues in Iceland. We follow Naomi as she travels with another family member and investigates another murder. The yet to be titled book 2 is expected Summer 2020.

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