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?

 

 

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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

 

 

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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.

Let’s Be Social:

Twitter: Twitter.com/NLLaFoille

Facebook: Facebook.com/NLLaFoille

Personal blog: meetthegofamily.blogspot.com/

Writing blog: nllafoille.blogspot.com/

 

 

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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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What Pets Say about Their Owners by Vivian Lawry

Pens, Paws, and Claws would like to thank Vivian Lawry for doing a guest post about what pets say about their owners.

On April 13, 2018, I posted Pets: A Treasure Trove for Writers focusing on how people treat their pets and how pets might fit into plot points and scenes.  Now, I’m turning to the ways pets reflect their owners, and the things an informed character might deduce from simply knowing another character’s pet choice(s).  These are group data, of course, so as a writer you need to decide whether your character reflects the norm or is an outlier.
 

An entry on bakadesuyo.com titled 8 Things Your Pet Says About Your Personality is a good overview.  (Points have been regrouped and edited, so they no longer number eight.)

1) General conclusions about pet owners:

  • Fish owners are happiest.
  • Dog owners are the most fun to be with.
  • Cat owners are the most dependable and emotionally sensitive.
  • Reptile owners are the most independent.

2) Comparing dog people and cat people:
  • Dog people are 15% more extroverted, 13% more agreeable, and 11% more conscientious.
  • Cat people are 12% more neurotic and 11% more emotionally open.
  • Dog owners are healthier: handled stress better, were more relaxed, had higher self-esteem, and were less likely to be diagnosed with depression.

3) Richard Wiseman concluded that people often see their pets’ personality as a reflection of their own.  Maybe a character could ask, “So, what’s your X like?”

4) Younger people who are disagreeable tend to prefer aggressive dogs.

5) Dog owners tend to seek different qualities in their dogs depending on their political leanings:
  • Liberals want dogs that are gentle and relate to their owners as equals.
  • Conservatives want dogs that are loyal and obedient.
6) Likelihood of owners cleaning up after their dogs:
  •  35.3% of males; 58.2% of females.
  • 18.2% of those who are lower income; 68.7% of those with higher income.
  • 72.6% of those who kept their dogs on a leash.

The website medium.com has published at least two articles on this topic: “What Your Pet Says Abut Your Personality and Career” (Mitch Fodstad, 3/6/2017) and  “What Your Pet Says About You” (Dustin Bilyk, 1/10/18).  The Bilyk article was written for humor and is basically an opinion piece, but you might want to read it for inspiration about a character’s opinions.  In addition to personality and career, life stage is addressed.  All of the following points come from these two articles.  Not surprisingly, there is some overlap with the points above.  So, by pet, here are the generalities:

 

Snake people: Owners are unconventional and novelty-seeking, may be bad-ass or wannabe bad-ass, and may have a kinky side.  FYI, male snakes are so focused on reproducing that they don’t even eat during mating season and many of them die.  Snake owners tend to lead unusual lives and make impulsive decisions.  They’re eager for the next move, even when unsure what that move might be.
Common careers: engineer, social worker, marketing/public relations professional, editor/writer, or police officer.

 

Turtle people: They are hard-working and reliable.  Turtle owners harness exceptional commitment, which drives quality performance and bodes well for upward mobility to a higher social class.
Common careers: engineer, social worker, marketing/public relations professional, editor/writer, or police officer.
(VL: Note the  similarities with other reptile people as described above.)

 

Fish people: They are optimistic and not materialistic, unconcerned with possessions.  They prefer low-maintenance pets.  Fish owners are hopeful and confident about the future.
Common career choices: human resources, financial professional, hotel and leisure professional, farming/fishing/forestry professional, or transportation professional.

 

Bird people: These pet owners tend to be outgoing and friendly, expressive, and socially confident.  They communicate effectively and may include some of the most powerful visionaries.
Common careers: advertising professional, sales person, construction worker, or administrative professional.

 

Cat people: Cat owners tend to be adventurous, creative, and anxious.  They enjoy new experiences, often have vivid imaginations, and are likely to be less sociable than dog owners.
Common careers: physician, real estate agent, science/medical technicians, machine operator, or personal caretaker.

 

Dog people: These people tend to be extroverted, confident, and risk-averse.
Common careers: professor, nurse, information technology professional, military professional, or entertainer.

 

Frankly, I find the links between pet, personality, and careers more suggestive than factual.  Writers should still consider the narrative possibilities of such links. 

Scientific American MIND published on-line an overview of the research into what pets say about their owners (Karen Schrock Simring, 9/1/15).  There isn’t much data published in peer-reviewed academic studies, but lots of information is available from huge market surveys within the pet industry and survey responses from pet owners.  Because I don’t want to footnote specific statements, I am not combining info from this article with related statements above.

 

If a character has a dog, he or she is more likely to be in senior management and consider their pet part of the family; live with family members, not have a college degree (although other research suggests dog owners are likely to be a professor, nurse, information professional, military professional, or entertainer); be extroverted, agreeable, and conscientious; have gotten the dog from a shelter or rescue group; live in Arkansas, New Mexico, Kentucky, Missouri, or West Virginia.

 

If the character’s pet is a cat, they are more likely to be divorced, widowed, or separated; live in an apartment; be neurotic and open to new experiences; be college educated; be a physician, real estate agent, science or medical lab technician, machine operator, or personal caregiver; be less socially dominant; live in Vermont, Maine, Oregon, South Dakota, or Washington state.

 

If the character owns a bird, they are more likely to be unemployed, describe themselves as caring and polite, be outgoing and expressive (and socially dominant if female), and live in California, Oregon, Washington state, or Nevada.

 

Horse owners tend to be more assertive and introspective and less warm and nurturing; be aggressive and socially dominant if he is male but non-aggressive and easygoing if she is female; hold an advanced degree; be married and a homeowner; live in a rural area; reside in Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, or Louisiana.  They are most likely to describe themselves as dependable and self-disciplined.

 

Cold-blooded exotic pet owners if female, are more open to new experiences than male owners or female owners of traditional pets; if male, they are much less agreeable than female owners or male owners of traditional pets.

If the pet is a snake, the character may describe themselves as neat and tidy, relaxed and unpredictable; be unconventional and novelty seeking; and consider their pet “part of the family.”

If the character’s pet is a turtle, that character is more likely to be hardworking, reliable, and upwardly mobile, and describe themselves as rational and goal-oriented.

Fish owners are most likely to describe themselves as calm and emotionally stable.

 

Rabbit owners describe themselves as sympathetic, warm, and open to new experiences.

Hamster owners were the most likely to have an advanced degree.

Guinea pig owners were least likely to describe themselves as extroverted.

 

Owners of unusual pets were more likely to have a menagerie. For instance, more than half of ferret owners said they had six or more pets. Dog owners, on the other hand, were the most likely to have only one pet.

More than half of cat owners are fond of both cats and dogs.  More than half of dog owners say they only like canines.

Beyond the most common pets, people make a pet of almost any animal: chickens, exotic insects, possums, pigs, etc.

 

Writers note: For people who have pets, those pets are often integral to how owners see themselves.  For example, some men who want to look tough may get a tough-looking dog.  Some people have rabbits or poodles because that’s the family tradition.  Some people who feel misunderstood may seek “misunderstood” pets such as spiders.  If you give your character a pet, choose it for a reason!

And in spite of it all, keep in mind that although 68% of U.S. households have pets, that leaves 32% pet-less.

About Vivian:

Vivian Lawry is Appalachian by birth, a psychologist by training, and a writer by passion. Her short works have appeared in more than fifty literary journals and anthologies, from Adanna to Xavier Review. In addition she has published four books: Dark Harbor and Tiger Heart, Chesapeake Bay Mysteries; Different Drummer, a collection of off-beat fiction; and an historical novel,  Nettie’s Books, A Story of Strength and Change. For a complete list of her publications and to sample her work, visit vivianlawry.com. Vivian Lawry is on FaceBook and Twitter.

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Welcome, Katie Baldwin!

Pens, Paws, and Claws would like to welcome Katie Baldwin to the blog.

Tell our readers a little about yourself and your writing.

I write romances. Some have a mystery in the plot, some have paranormal storylines, but they all are romances. I grew up watching 1940s & 1950 musicals and that is where my love of romance began. Then I began to read Barbara Michaels gothic romances and I was hooked.

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

I have one dog. Her name is Marley. I adopted her from my local SPCA in 2015. She was 8 ½ years old and scared out of her mind. She couldn’t even be in the regular shelter. She was upstairs in the offices. Do you know that song? “Just one look” by Doris Troy? I took one look at the sweet min-pin/chihuahua mix with the nervous eyes and I was in love. I said to her “I’m going to spoil you so much.” She then consented to the adoption. After a year, Marley developed diabetes and went blind. I now give her shots of insulin twice a day. She takes it like a champ. This past year she developed glaucoma. So now we have three drops that go in her eyes twice a day. She is the bravest dog. I’m in awe of her tenacity. Marley is the basis for two of my stories – but neither are published at this time. But soon.

Tell us about any pets you have in your books/stories. Are any of them recurring characters? What are they and their names? Pierre the chihuahua (I created this character before I met my dog.) will be in every single Spirod book. The first is “A Ghost of a Chance”. Pierre lets his people know when ghosts are around by peeing. It never goes over well. But that’s his special psychic gift. The next one will be set in New Orleans about some nasty Satanist trying to cause trouble called “Old Devil Moon” and the third one is about coven of inexperienced witches who and accidentally open a portal to hell. That one is tentatively titled “Bewitched, Bothered and Irritated as Hell.”

What are you reading now? I’m reading The Heroin Diaries by Nikki Sixx of the band Mötley Crüe. Why you might ask? Especially since I despise Mötley Crüe? Because I’m also writing a series titled “Metalsome Hearts” and it will be a five-part series about a heavy metal band. Two of the members are recovering heroin addicts – thus – the reason I’m dipping into the nasty world of Nikki Sixx.

What writing projects are you currently working on? I’m finishing the first book in my metal series – “Metalsome Hearts” and then in October, I’ll be back with the Spirod team, Pierre and the Satanists in “Old Devil Moon.”

Did you have childhood pets? If so, tell us about them. My childhood pet was a German Shepard named Elsa. She was the most amazing dog. She passed away in the late 80s and I still miss her. She was such a big dog that when we ate dinner she could put her chin on the dining table. My dad would tell her sternly “down!” and then she would turn her back on us and give a very human harrumph.

How do you use animals in your writing? Are they a character in their own right or just mentioned in passing? I love books who put animals in their stories, so it was a no brainer when I started writing. As to if they are characters in the book. Depends on the book. Pierre is a character. Dolly – in Love My Way – is a metaphor for unconditional love.

What’s your real-life funniest pet story? My sister rescued a Pitbull (Lulu) and another smaller dog (Piper) from the Los Angeles area SPCA. They were both the apple of the entire family’s eyes. Including me. And then I adopted Marley. When I introduced my dog to my fur-nieces, the look in their eyes. Betrayal, disappointment, anger. Marley padded over to say hello and Lulu growled at her. So, I had to discipline Lulu. I said “Lulu! No!” She gave me this look – like – seriously? And walked out of the room in a huff. Diva. God, I love that dog. I attached a photo of Lulu and Marley on a sofa together. You can see Lulu is displeased.

When did you know you were a writer? And how did you know? I’ve been making up stories since I was a kid. I loved to see the look on people’s faces when they are into my stories. For the most part, I told stories orally. Like they did back in the day. And my sister heard a lot of my stories. When I started to do well in English and writing classes, my storytelling naturally shifted to writing.

What’s the number one item on your bucket list and why? I want to go to Ireland. The problem is that I don’t want to leave Marley so traveling has stopped since she was adopted. When I go away for conferences for work, my neighbor stays with her in my home. Since she is blind, I don’t like her staying somewhere else. She already bumps her sweet nose all the time and she knows her house really well. I’m a helicopter parent for a dog. And I’m fine with that

What do your pets do when you are writing? Marley sits under the desk and looks at me with sad eyes. She is so manipulative, and I love it! When I first got her, she was so desperate to be a good girl, she barely showed any personality. But now, my girl gives me grief all the time. So happy that she is comfortable and safe. She knows she can be a pain in the butt and I’ll still love her.

About Katie:

Katie Baldwin has a secret life. During the day she is a mild-mannered researcher at a prestigious University. By night she writes fantastical tales of romance and mystery. When she is not pacing her home working out dialogue in her mind, she is baking scones and plotting her next chapter. Aside from writing, she has a ferocious passion for Rock & Roll – especially 1980s and 1990s rock, the Green Bay Packers, and her MinPin/Chihuahua mix dog-baby, Marley. She can be found on twitter waxing eloquently about all of her passions.

Let’s Be Social:

She can be reached via twitter @katiebwrites or her website:

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Email: Katie@authorkatiebaldwin.com
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Herding Squirrels by Sheri Levy

Herding Squirrels by Sheri Levy

Every morning I took my dogs to play on a neighbors eight-acres of pasture land. Using the Chuck-It-Stick, I’d fling their red balls a distance for them to chase and retrieve. One day while chasing the ball, the dogs spotted a squirrel dashing up the tree. They spit out their balls and sprinted to the tree, barking and leaping at the trunk. Some squirrels are smart and stay put, but this one decided to run to another tree.

I stood, waiting for both dogs to return. When Slater dashed back with blood dripping from his mouth, I panicked thinking he’d bit his lip. Then Mulligan ran to me with the squirrel dangling from his mouth. I knew then Slater wasn’t hurt. He’d been the one who caught the squirrel. My stomach churned and my heart hurt, believing they had killed the squirrel.

I screamed, “Drop it.”

Mulligan would drop it for a moment, and then Slater would grab it. They repeated this back and forth. Even treats didn’t catch their attention. They were intoxicated with the squirrel.

After a few more attempts of playing keep-away from each other, the squirrel lay on the ground, not moving. Relieved but sad, I planned to remove the body to get their attention. I pulled out a clean poop bag from my pouch. With my thumb and forefinger, I reached down to pick up the sad creature by its tail and began to drop it into my shallow plastic bag.

A second later the squirrel’s head hit the bottom of the bag, bending its head towards my hand and clamped onto my right ring finger. Its sharp teeth penetrated both sides of my finger and I let out a thunderous, ear-piercing scream.

My hand flew from the bag, but the squirrel hung on. Shrieking, I violently shook my hand and both dogs stood below the squirrel, moving their heads up and down. Until it finally let go.

The squirrel landed at my feet just under Mulligan’s head. He tried to bite it again, but the squirrel was faster and bit Mulligan’s lip. As it hung from Mulligan’s mouth, he moaned and whined. His lip lifted the squirrel only inches, leaving the tail lying on the ground. To help Mulligan, I stepped on the squirrel’s tail. It immediately let go of Mulligan’s lip. In that instant, I grabbed the dogs’ collars, hooked their leashes, and we walked home.

Coming in the house, crying and bleeding, my husband met me. His face crinkled in concern, “What happened?”

Slater’s face had been licked clean. All the evidence had disappeared. In tears, I repeated the incident. He didn’t say a word. Only his eyes widened as my story grew.

When I exclaimed how I had grabbed the squirrel to remove it, and how it bit me inside the bag, he started laughing, tears filling his eyes. I stared at him. “What in the world are you laughing at? This isn’t funny. I’m hurt.”

He held his stomach, bent at the waist, hysterical. “When you think of being bit, it’s not ever by a squirrel. Were you trying to save it?”

“Not this time. I wanted to distract the dogs.”

Murphy took a look at my finger. “Let’s wash this. And then you need to call the vet and see if you need a rabies shot.” That sent my stomach into convulsions.

My daughter manages the Vet’s office and answered the phone. I told her what had happened and she laughed. My eyes scrunched. What is so funny.

Dr. Hill chuckled and said, “Squirrels don’t usually carry rabies, but since you’ve been bitten, you should ask animal control.”

Murphy looked up the phone number and helped bandage my finger. I called, and after locating the squirrel, he drove us to the animal control office. With my right palm open, I kept my fingers straight-up to prevent the throbbing. I looked as if I was ready put my left hand on the Bible and say, “Everything that happened is the truth.”

I had an appointment with my doctor the next day. When she walked into the exam room, my finger was wrapped in band aide and pointed upward. She asked, “Sheri. What did you do to your finger?”

Disappointed that she noticed, I said, “Dr. B. I’m not going to die from natural causes. It’s going to be something the dogs have done to me.” I retold the whole story and added, “I thought the squirrel was dead.”

She tried to control her amusement. She went out of the room and brought in a book for medical suggestions. “Let me look up squirrel bites.”

A few moments later, she gasped and smiled. “Sheri, I believe it was playing possum!”

I couldn’t contain myself and let loose with laughter.

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Welcome, Liz Boeger!

Pens, Paws, and Claws would like to welcome Liz Boeger to the blog!

Tell our readers a little about yourself and your writing.

In the spirit of this blog, I’ll respond with animals in mind. I grew up near Old Tampa Bay in an area of South Tampa that had originally been named Rattlesnake. Eventually, the rattlesnake meat cannery that had become an early tourist attraction in the area closed. Its owner/operator had succumbed to the hazard of his trade. Consequently, there were far fewer rattlesnakes hidden among the palmetto scrubs when my parents arrived years later, from Illinois to raise their growing family.

Many writers will tell you they penned their first stories in elementary or middle school. Not me, I was too busy wrangling multiple litters of kittens and exploring the local beaches. Later, I applied my cat-herding skills to teaching in elementary schools, math and science, primarily. During this time, I got married, and we now have a grown son. Eventually, I became an assistant principal. Beyond humans, I worked with many other fine creatures, including a goldfish, Guinea pigs, a wayward copperhead, occasional migrating alligators, and a Florida Panther who was, thankfully, secured behind the wire mesh inches from my head, in a cargo van.

I must admit, being an administrator had its high points, but it became less about leading schools and more about juggling state testing programs. To relieve job stress, I took to reading traditional and cozy mysteries. Somewhere along the way, all the crazy stories from my youth and my career converged in a dream that introduced a character and a problem. Luckily, I recalled enough details when I awoke to jot down the beginnings of what would become my cozy mystery series: Moccasin Cove Mysteries. My silly spin aside, I love teaching, and left the administrative suite to return to the classroom several years ago, which freed up some time for writing.

The main character in my series, Principal Ana Callahan, is an accomplished school turnaround specialist who rescues failing schools. In the first book, ChainLinked! She has come home to Moccasin Cove to save the failing K-5 of her childhood. Fallout from a local murder threatens her school flip, so she is forced to investigate. Then she’s paired with Mac, the handsome, single, retired Air Force colonel who is the school district’s new Chief of Security. Romantic sparks fly, but before Ana and Mac can pursue a life together, they must untangle their own broken hearts and of course, solve a murder.

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

We currently have two cats in our household. Both are rescues. Neither are in my books, but they do pose for me occasionally if I have feline behavior to describe in the story. Samantha (Sammy) – I call her a calico, but I think there is a more specific name…a tortoise something. She was a rejected adoptee my husband rescued at a pet warehouse store adoption.

GRBRTY (ger-ber-tee) – Was also rescued at a pet store adoption event. This time at barely 8-weeks by my son. He is a pale orange tabby and a chubby tubby. His original name was Racecar, but that did not fit. One day he walked over my keyboard when I was writing and typed G-R-B-R-T-Y. The name stuck.

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

I have two pets in my series. Both are permanent characters.

Muffin is modelled after my dearly departed pup by the same name. In the books, she is a rescue, turned therapy dog. So far, she works with students who have PTSD but later in the series she may branch out to veterans and retirees. She is part King Charles Cavalier and Tibetan Spaniel, like my real girly.

The second pet character in the series is a champagne orange, feral tabby kitten rescued from the mangroves during a storm. He is named Gibson by the rescuer because she trades him for a Gibson guitar. Every cat she rescues is given to a worthy home and named for whatever he or she is traded for. Gibson is modeled after a rescue I adopted in my twenties named Huey, who helped me navigate into my early thirties relatively unscathed.

What are you reading now?  

I’ll list the WHO’s instead, since my TBR has multiple copies of some authors:

Hank Phillippi Ryan, Cheryl Hollon, Terrie Farley Moran, Heather Weidner, Micki Browning, Elizabeth Sims, Ellen Byron, and many more…

What writing projects are you currently working on?

I am currently revising the first book in the series, which I described above. The second book in my proposed series, AppleJacked! is also written, but I’ve made some timeline changes, so it will require another round of revisions later. It tells the continuing story of Ana and her quest to keep her failing school on track and to help turn around the failing economic fortunes of her beloved hometown. In this second book, Ana is in competition for a high-stacks school grant when one of her teachers is murdered. She investigates to clear the name of a parent she believes is falsely accused, In the process, Ana uncovers secrets from her own childhood and a second murder that are all connected.

Who is your favorite author and why?

It is impossible for me to choose. My criteria: Any author of traditional/cozy mysteries who can make me laugh out loud, care about the characters and their story, and who writes intelligent and challenging mysteries that are believable. This is exactly what I am trying to achieve in my series.

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

We had one dog, a white and brown terrier mix who used to dig under the fence and chase cars. Not good. He was put down in his old age due to old age. His name was Goober. Then we had so many cats and kittens you’d think we lived on a farm and not in a suburb. I remember having three litters at once in the laundry room and a favorite cat, Aunt Margaret, who had successive litters in the closet in my room.

Do you have any working or service animals in your stories? Tell us about them.

Muffin, the pup in my series is a Trained Therapy dog. She works with elementary-aged students with PTSD.

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

Larger Than Life, 1996. Funny, poignant, and shows a great character arc for both the main character, played by Bill Murray, and Vera, the circus elephant he inherits unexpectedly.

What’s your real-life funniest pet story?

Mine are slightly dark humor—not suitable for Cozy readers I’ve posted one recently on my blog about class pets, but the hamster story will never see the light of day.

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

I never even thought about writing fiction—despite being a mystery fan. Then an idea literally presented itself as a scene while I was dreaming. That led to creating the series, Moccasin Cove Mysteries, which I will be actively marketing to agents this year.

I won a Royal Palm Literary Award for my unpublished mystery, AppleJacked! from the Florida Writers Association. I knew I had potential when reading the judges’ feedback from that contest and when Elizabeth Sims graciously read the book and wrote a review blurb.

What do your pets do when you are writing?

They usually ignore me, unless it is before dawn and Sammy wants her morning treat. GRBRTY usually pesters to go in/out of the screened porch.

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

I have two stacks-paper and plastic. I prefer holding a paper book in my hand over eBooks. Given today’s publishing world you must have both. Both stacks include mysteries, writing reference books, educational topics (for work) and some quilting magazines.

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

Any place that is quiet and low traffic works for me. I prefer to write at home rather than in the coffee shop like some. Color matters to my eye too, so I like to have teals, blues, greens, and greys in the space. Currently, I have a writing nook where our breakfast nook used to be, before I commandeered it this summer. Our coffee station is within arm’s reach—that’s a perk! I can look outside at the yard through the sliding glass doors and it is not a high traffic area. If the no-see-ums aren’t too nippy on the porch or in the yard, I’ll move out there some cooler mornings or evenings.

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

1-Learn your craft by reading mentor texts and by writing.

2-Join the writing community and contribute.

3-Use social media strategically.

4-Read your genre and others for craft lessons and pleasure.

5-If you get validation for your work, and you KNOW this is the right path, don’t stop.

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

It takes a village to raise a writer but not to do the writer’s work. That is my job as a writer. I must continually learn and hone my craft—even with a fulltime job. In the early stage you must be selfish about getting your footing. Then AS SOON as possible, start giving back to the community. This may be in the form of book reviews and shout outs on social media, if you are not yet published. Then once you have some creds, offer to be a contest judge, critique the work of others, offer book review blurbs, and be an encourager. I continue to meet many excellent role models for this in the writing community.

About Liz:

Liz Boeger explored hidden beaches and rattlesnake infested natural preserves while growing up near Old Tampa Bay. A veteran school administrator and teacher, she still lives in Florida and still prefers genuine snakes to the human variety. Her Moccasin Cove Mystery series features an amateur sleuth with too much empathy and wit for her own good. She earned her B.S. at the University of Tampa and her M.Ed. from Saint Leo University. Member of Sisters in Crime and Guppies.

She blogs at Moccasin Cove Mysteries (http://www.LizBoeger.com)

Follow her on Twitter: @LizBoegerAuthor or @MrsBoeger

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Back to Reality

Gibbs Sheluk reporting in. Judy and I are now back from Lake Superior, and let me tell you that I loved every minute of my six weeks there.

But today, I wanted to tell you about Judy’s new book which released on Aug. 21st on Kindle and in trade paperback. It’s called A Fool’s Journey and it’s the third book in her Marketville Mystery series. Here’s a bit about it:

In March 2000, twenty-year-old Brandon Colbeck left home to find himself on a self-proclaimed “fool’s journey.” No one–not friends or family–have seen or heard from him since, until a phone call from a man claiming to be Brandon brings the case back to the forefront. Calamity (Callie) Barnstable and her team at Past & Present Investigations have been hired to find out what happened to Brandon and where he might be. As Callie follows a trail of buried secrets and decades-old deceptions only one thing is certain: whatever the outcome, there is no such thing as closure.

Now, doesn’t that sound exciting? Click on the book cover to find it on Amazon.

I like to take a fair bit of credit for it, because I spend most of my days in Judy’s office as she writes. That may not sound like I’m doing much, but I give her a snuzzle when I can tell she’s getting frustrated, I make her get up and take me for a walk when she’s been sitting too long, and I listen to her read bits of it out loud when she’s not sure if something is working.

And now, the countdown begins until our return to Lake Superior later this month. Woof! 

 

 

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