The Dogs in My Life: Part V —Gibbs

We’ve finally reached the part of this series where I tell you about the current dog in my life, and let me tell you, he’s been anxious to tell his story. So this time, I’m going to let Gibbs do the talking:

Gibbs reporting in. That’s my little joke because I was named after Leroy Jethro Gibbs on the TV show, NCIS. He’s a U.S. Marine (get it…reporting in…) and Judy and Mike love that show. Plus the Marine’s motto is Semper Fi, which means “Always Faithful,” and that is also my motto!

I have another name, too. It’s my Canadian Kennel Club name, Maplelane’s The Power of Love. I know, it’s embarrassing, but let me explain. You see, I was born on October 15, 2015 on Back to the Future Day, and all the Maplelane puppies in my litter had to have a name that referenced the movie. The Power of Love is the movie’s theme song.

I came to live with Judy and Mike on December 6, 2015. I’ll admit that I was a somewhat challenging puppy (though you must admit I was very cute). There was that time I chewed a hunk out of the wall while Judy was brushing her teeth. And the time I stole her bathmat and dragged it into the living room while she was in the shower. And then there was the time I shredded her Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine before she had a chance to read it. But hey, nobody’s perfect, right?

My favorite things to do are: Go for a walk, play fetch with my purple ball, sleeping under Judy’s desk when she writes, watching the sunset at our camp on Lake Superior, and swimming. I LOVE swimming. And my favorite person? Judy, of course. But don’t tell Mike. Some things are better kept a secret. 

Love, Gibbs

PS: Be sure to check out my WEDNESDAY WAGGLES posts on Judy’s Facebook page!

PPS: You can find her books at all the usual suspects, including Amazon, Kobo and Barnes & Noble. She tells me books make great stocking stuffers. I personally think a bone is much better!

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Welcome, Rosemary Shomaker


Pens, Paws, and Claws would like to welcome author Rosemary Shomaker to the blog.

Tell our readers a little about yourself and your writing.

Hi, I’m Rosie Shomaker. I’ve always liked writing stories, but I spent my professional life analyzing data and writing non-fiction policy reports and summaries. Now I’m free to write what I want to write. I’m as yet fairly undisciplined, though, but once I commit to a project, I focus my energy.

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

Mary and Carmen are the main dog characters in “This is Not a Dog Park,” one of the To Fetch a Thief novellas. Mary is a sheprador and Carmen is a fluffy white dog. In a subsequent story I’ll have to define Carmen’s breed. She’s owned by a stuffy rich lady in the story, so that dog has great mystery possibilities. Carmen and her owner live in a well-to-do neighborhood near a park that is central to the story. Mary the sheprador helps her owner Adam leave behind a life of disquietude.

What are you reading now?

I am reading several Nevada Barr novels. She had varied jobs and did summer work as in the national parks. Her main character, Anna Pidgeon, is a national park ranger. The Rope and Destroyer Angel were riveting. Barr comes off as a bit of a misandrist in her stories, in my opinion, and notwithstanding my feminist tendencies, her treatment of male characters can be harsh . . . although I admit the plot and character development rings sound. The adventure in these stories is great! When I need less adrenaline and more historical escape, I default to Charles Todd and Jacqueline Winspear mystery books.

Why do you include animals in your writing?

It seems so natural to include pets in a setting. So many readers live with pets. Pets can be used as a good character sounding board in stories; human-pet interaction and dialogue are straight lines to the human character’s psyche. Animals also can be used to move the plot along, change pace, and provide humor. I haven’t worked much yet with using animals to ratchet up tension. I’ll have to explore that.

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

This is a real possibility for my next story. Aren’t all pets service animals in a way—since they are usually emotional support animals for most of us? I was intrigued when I read Jodi Picoult’s My Sister’s Keeper and met Campbell Alexander’s dog Judge. Judge helps warn Alexander of approaching epileptic seizures. Wow. Also, a local writer has shared her experiences with her own family dog that could indicate her daughter’s diabetic crises. The working nature of a dog can give real service to humans. I’ve also been introduced to police dogs and search and rescue dogs, and I admire the training and work of those canines. So much tension and conflict could be shown in stories featuring that type of dog in a criminal situation. I like the idea of a service dog, maybe a hearing dog that is specially trained to help people who are deaf or have hearing loss. Hearing dogs can alert their humans to sounds around the home and in public. I can see working that type of service dog into a story, too.

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

One day I’ll read a college thesis written about Charlotte of E. B. White’s Charlotte’s Web. What a story! Even as a child I regarded Charlotte as a complex character. Cool to think that college theses have been written about her. As I child I was more of a Wilbur-type character who could not appreciate all there was to Charlotte, especially in their early relationship. I think I knew some Charlottes in my time. Now that I am older, I guess I am a Charlotte.

What do your pets do when you are writing?

My pup spends his time a room away from me when I write. He comes in occasionally to remind me to stop, drink some water, eat, and go outside. Well, he wants to do those things, and he provides the example that gets me out of my obsessive writing state. If not for my pup, I’d disregard most everything once I was on a roll and fixated on writing. Sometimes I’ll put him off and try to ignore him but he won’t ignore me, and soon his sad eyes are right at my hip level and hard to overlook.

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

I found a very old copy of James Fenimore Cooper’s The Prairie, circa 1900. I love Cooper. I feel right in the forest with his characters! The Prairie takes place not in New England forests but in the Midwest during America’s westward expansion. I’ve an idea for a novel set in the great plains, and I’m hoping Cooper’s book fills in some of the dramatic sentiment I need to spur me on to write more of my story. I have TBR piles in several rooms of my house. Some are piles of magazines or local newspapers. Others are piles of books that have come my way that I am not really set on reading. I let the piles accumulate, and when I have not made a move to read anything in a pile in a few weeks, I clear out the items to the recycle bin or the giveaway box.

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

My son found a very large beetle (two and one half inches long) when he was about five years old—my son’s age—not the beetle’s. They kinda bonded in a strange way. The beetle seemed happy to have a caretaker. My son made him a home in his room: a tray with water, grass and leaves for habitat, and who knows what for food? We most likely looked up what beetles ate. Mr. Beetle lived as a pet with us for four days. He’d sit on my son’s shoulder and even on his cheek when my son lay down. Mr. Beetle didn’t move much or very fast, and my husband and I hypothesized he was an old beetle, hopefully not a sick beetle. My son left on a short trip, maybe a cub scout trip, with my husband, and Mr. Beetle did not live to see my son again. A month or two later, my son found another beetle while playing in a friend’s yard. This new beetle wasn’t so nice. He stung my son! That ended my son’s interactions with beetles. My son’s entomology career, down the tubes.

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

My favorite place to read is outside on my deck, or even outside in a park. I like to have my legs raised while seated to read. The fresh air and natural light enlivens my soul. If I cannot be outside, I like to read sitting longways on the couch by our big front window. Inside I like to have a big cup of coffee at hand while I read. Outside, my drink of choice is water.

About Rosemary

Rosemary Shomaker was born in Maine and grew up with family—and heartstring—ties to New England. She currently lives in Virginia, and after a state government career now writes fiction. You can find a few of her short stories in anthologies such as Virginia is for Mysteries – Volumes I and II, 50 Shades of Cabernet, and several of the Shaker of Margaritas anthologies. Her “This is Not a Dog Park” novella is included in the Mutt Mysteries collection To Fetch a Thief.

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K. B. Inglee on Dog Walks and Newfoundlands

People often walk their dogs at the park where I work. We have eight miles of trails, streams and ponds and a raceway that provides water power to run the 18th century mill. Dogs and people love it.

Most of the dogs who visit the park are friendly, many are beautiful. They are usually happy to be petted by the staff and other visitors.

Dogs I have met.

I was not prepared for what I saw a couple of Sundays ago. It was nearly closing time, and I was checking the fishing ponds when I saw a young couple walking a bear by the blacksmith shop. There are no bears in the park, so this must be their private bear. By the time I got out the back door and halfway to the shop, I realized that it wasn’t a bear but a Newfoundland dog.

I find it difficult to ignore any dogs that come to the park and this one was particularly appealing. I just had to get my hands into that lovely black fur. And feel the giant tongue on my hands. Maybe even take him home if I could fit him in my car.

His people told me that there was a newfoundland gathering that afternoon at the park. By the time we closed the visitors center an hour later, a dozen a dozen or so of these huge dogs had assembled with their people. One family came all the way across the county to meet up with other wonders of these astonishing animals.

 Most of the dogs were black, some with white markings One small on was the size of a calf. There was a Jack Russell who looked out of place, and a mutt of some appealing heritage.

 Every year for the last 15 or so I have written a short story which I send out in place of Christmas cards. Last Christmas, I wrote a story about a Portuguese Water dog who worked as a service dog for a college professor with a bum hip.  Now I wish I had used a Nufie. Too late, I have half a dozen stories of Anonymous Dog’s crime fighting. While he hadn’t made it into print yet, he is well established in my mind.

 AD had already met a police dog and made friends. I thought about it for a week or so before I decided there was no reason that DC couldn’t have a second best friend. Maybe I could have a whole posse of crime fighting dogs.

 Most of all, I hope these big beautify digs keep coming to our park.

About K.B. Inglee:

I always wanted to write mystery stories but like most somehow life interfered. That is probably true for 90% of people who want to be writers.

There came a time in my life when I had some leisure to write, easy access to research materials, and a strong desire to fulfill my dream. I wrote my first novel after reading a biography of the James family, so I set it in Cambridge in the early 1890’s. I knew what was wrong with it. First of all, there was no murder. It was crammed full of back story and descriptions of a Victorian household. But I became fond of the characters: a lady detective and the people who lived in her boarding house.

I wrote a collection, maybe several collections, of short stories for my main character, Emily Lothorp Lawrence. Writing is way more fun than selling so it was a long time before any of the short stories appeared in print.

When I began the novel, I exchanged manuscripts with a friend who was a Civil War re-enactor. He said that if I was going to write history I had better do it, so I stitched up a simple outfit and attended several local Civil War battles.

Then one day I crossed a bridge into the New Republic (1790-1830). That crossing changed my life. I began interpreting that period, for which I needed a whole new set of clothes. I showed off the Oliver Evans mill, one of the first automated mills in the country. In time I was trusted with the care of a flock of heritage sheep.

Since I crossed that bridge, I have driven oxen, plowed a field with a team of horses, cooked in a wood fired oven, and spent a weekend in Maine in a 1870s household without running water or electricity. I have sheared a sheep, cleaned and spun the wool, knit and woven, and finally made a garment with the wool.

And I kept writing short stories.

“Weaver’s Trade” was my Christmas story in 2012, and it won second place in the Bethlehem Writers Round Table.

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Welcome, C. J. Shane!

Pens, Paws, and Claws would like to welcome author, C. J. Shane to the blog.

Tell our readers a little about yourself and your writing.

I wear two hats because I’m both a visual artist and a writer. This all got started because my first grade teacher told my class to write a poem and then illustrate it. So I had the idea from an early age that words and pictures were equally important and often go together. In the arts, I work in oils, pastels, relief prints, and also I create artist’s books. As a writer, my first job was as a newspaper reporter. I’ve written for newspapers and magazines and published eight nonfiction books. My first novel, Desert Jade: A Letty Valdez Mystery, was published in 2017, and the second Letty mystery, Dragon’s Revenge, comes out in mid-November 2018.

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

I had cats as a child and then was lucky to be introduced to dogs by a boyfriend when I was a young adult. So there’s been a cat or a dog or both in my life from an early age. Currently our family dog is a model for Millie in the Letty Valdez Mysteries. Her name is Sunday and she’s a rescue from the Tucson Humane Society shelter. I also fairly recently lost a wonderful dog named Yuma (a border collie-greyhound mix) who was a rescue from Yuma, Arizona. He grew old, and he couldn’t walk anymore. Just before he went over the Rainbow Bridge, I gave him a big spoonful of peanut butter – his favorite treat in the world. I miss him.

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

 In Desert Jade Letty found Millie abandoned and dying in the desert. Millie is short for “Milagro” which means “miracle” in Spanish. Here is an excerpt from Desert Jade where Letty finds Millie who had been stolen from her family and used as a bait dog in a dog-fighting ring.

           Millie looked up at Letty with adoring eyes as Letty stroked the dog’s back. Millie had big patches of bare skin on her tan and white short-haired body. Her ears were chewed up, and there were scars all over her neck and chest. Her front left leg hung limp and almost useless from too much nerve, tendon, and ligament damage. The dog used the leg mainly for balance. Millie was small for a pit bull, maybe only 45 to 50 pounds. She had obviously been used as bait in dog fights. When the scumbags were done with her, they just dumped her out in the desert on the edge of town. They hadn’t even bothered to kill her, but just left her to die a slow, miserable death in the hot summer sun.

                No telling how long the dog had been out there before Letty found her. That was entirely accidental, too. Letty remembered suddenly that she had forgotten to return a call. She pulled over to the side of the road when some movement in the hot sand caught her attention. Letty got out of her car to take a look. She spotted the dog right away. It was emaciated and had several open wounds. The dog hadn’t had any water for who knows how long. It was on its side, panting short, shallow breaths, eyes sunken and glazed. The dog shifted its amber-colored eyes to focus on Letty. Then the dog’s tail began to wag feebly.

                “Damn,” Letty muttered to herself, but she didn’t hesitate. Who could resist a dog on death’s door that would wag its tail when it saw you coming.

I’m very interested in rescue dogs and in seeing that they find a good home. Millie performs a heroic deed in Desert Jade. In the next Letty book, Dragon’s Revenge, Millie gets a friend. His name is Theodore Roosevelt, but they call him Teddy. He’s a black lab sniffer dog who flunked out of sniffer school! Teddy performs admirably as a sniffer dog in Dragon’s Revenge even if he didn’t earn his certificate from the sniffer school.

What are you reading now?

Letty Valdez is a veteran of the Iraq War. She was a medic and saw of lot of difficult things. I’m reading a nonfiction book about the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars titled The Fighters, by C.J. Chivers so I can know more about what Letty experienced. I’m concerned about our veterans and I want them to have good support.

Who is your favorite author and why?

Oh dear! Only one?  Well, one that comes to mind at the moment is the Tess Monaghan series by Laura Lippman. I had a reader tell me once that I should stick to the plot, focus on action, and forget any “exposition.” I don’t really agree. I really like how Laura Lippman includes “exposition.” She tells us about Tess, her family, her friends, her life both as an investigator and her life away from investigation. I want to tell Letty’s story in the same way.  Letty is a child of the U.S.-Mexico Borderlands, a Chicana/Native American who takes care of her young siblings, who fights the bad guys and who loves her doggie pals.

Why do you include animals in your writing?

You know what they say, “If you want a friend, get a dog (or a cat).”  People are sometimes really cruel. I want to get across the idea that being kind to animals and rescuing a homeless animal is the best thing we can do for ourselves because it makes us more human and humane. A dog or cat will always be important in the Letty Valdez Mysteries.

What’s on Your Bucket List?

I’ve traveled a lot on four continents. I went as far as ZhouZhi in western China and Mildura on the Murray River in interior Australia. But I’ve never been to New York City. The Big Apple is on my bucket list. I also hope to write several more Letty Valdez Mysteries, and I have a plan for a new group of mystery-suspense-romance novels.

What do your pets do when you are writing?

Siesta time!

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

I’m going to say only one thing which has turned out to be very important to me. Having come from a background in journalism and nonfiction writing, I thought of writing as a logical, orderly process. Do research, make an outline, do more research, start writing a draft. Edit and proofread.

Fiction turned out to be quite different. I had to learn how to get out of the way of my characters and let them speak for themselves. Alice Walker, author of The Color Purple, said that she was a “medium” for her characters. She had that right!

Two examples. A character showed up one day. I didn’t create him. He was just there! He told me everything about himself, even the tattoo on his chest. He made it clear that he would accept a small role in Dragon’s Revenge but in future Letty Valdez Mysteries, he will be a very important person. Another example is Dante the Big Orange Tom Cat who will appear in the next book. Dante showed up one day and made it clear that he is El Jefe (The Boss). He will not accept any disrespectful behavior from those two totally useless dogs who try to steal his kitty kibble, Millie and Teddy. So there!

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

a) read a lot; b) take walks or bike rides, enjoy the natural world, and let your mind become serene and quiet so your characters can talk to you.

About C. J.

C.J. Shane is a native Texan transformed into an Arizona desert rat after many years in Tucson. She is both a writer and visual artist. She is a former newspaper journalist and academic reference librarian who has lived and worked in Mexico and China. She is the author of eight non-fiction books, among them Voices of New China. Dragon’s Revenge (2018) is her second Letty Valdez Mystery following Desert Jade (2017).

Here are some reviewers’ comments on Desert Jade, the first Letty Valdez Mystery:

~~I was pulled in immediately by well-crafted characters and fine descriptions of the southwest and local culture. …. An international mystery embroiled with the border between Mexico and Arizona and the Chinese underworld.

 ~~Reading Desert Jade, I couldn’t help thinking that Tucson has an author to fill the void left by recently deceased best-selling Sue Grafton, who wrote the Alphabet Murder series.

 ~~This has a strong southwestern flavor, a reminder of the Tony Hillerman books about the Navajos and the Hopis…The diversity of the characters may surprise you as the author pulls in a Chinese connection that is unexpected. It will be interesting to see if this develops into a series. I think it has great potential for that.

Book Links:

my website: https://www.cjshane.com/letty-valdez-mysteries.html

Amazon:  https://www.amazon.com/dp/0999387413/

Smashwords:  https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/756970

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/desert-jade

Social Media:

Website: www.CJShane.com

Newsletter: https://www.cjshane.com/contactnewsletter.html

Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/29448.C_J_Shane

LinkedIn:   https://www.linkedin.com/in/c-j-shane-638a1413

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/CJShaneinTucson/

Google +: https://plus.google.com/+CJShane

 

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Welcome Author Christine Verstraete

Looking for something scary to read? Today, Author Christine Verstraete is here to chat about her writing, her dog, and maybe a little bit about Zombies. Tell about yourself and what you write. Happy Halloween! I’ve been writing since I can remember – and even before that, I think. Ha! I’m a longtime newspaper writer, but I also love writing fiction, especially things with a bit of a spooky or scary twist! I like writing short fiction, but also enjoy writing longer. My books include, Lizzie Borden, Zombie Hunterand Lizzie Borden, Zombie Hunter 2: The Axe Will Fall. I also have a companion novella, The Haunting of Dr. Bowen. I’ve got info up on my https://www.cverstraete.comor stop by my blog, https://girlzombieauthors.blogspot.com How do your pets impact your writing? I’m an animal lover and have always had a dog, so it’s not surprising that somehow they manage to crawl their way into many of my stories. Like real life, right? I always say there’s an invisible string attaching me and my dog as she’s always only a few feet away. (If that!) In my writing, I think an animal makes characters more interesting, and sometimes even more relatable, don’t they? Do you include animals in your stories? I try to. I usually can’t help including them and sometimes they’re even the focus. A story I wrote, Thirteen Horses, (in Descent Into Darkness), is a creepy, ghostly story that I wrote after reading a news story about some horses that were starved to death. It was my way of giving them their revenge. Here’s a Did You Know? Lizzie Borden was a dog lover. She owned several Boston Bull Terriers, which by the way, also were “the” dog to have in Victorian times. So, of course, her dog makes an appearance in my first book, Lizzie Borden, Zombie Hunter. What is your funniest pet story? My most memorable, I think, happened some years ago with my first German Shepherd, Doc. I was reading Stephen King’s Pet Sematary, at night, just me and the dog. I’m engrossed and suddenly, the dog moves and scratches the floor. Needless to say, I nearly jumped out of my skin! Haa! Never forgot that moment, but it didn’t scare me off reading more of King’s books!

(www.pho.to) PhotoEngine::Collage::1

Christine Verstraete loves writing both short and long fiction with a touch of the macabre. Her short fiction has appeared in various anthologies and publications including Descent Into Darkness, Baby Shoes: 100 Stories by 100 AuthorsandSirens CallMagazine. She also is the author of Lizzie Borden, Zombie Hunter, Lizzie Borden, Zombie Hunter2: The Axe Will Fall, and The Haunting of Dr. Bowen. Learn more at her website, http://cverstraete.comor stop by her blog, http://girlzombieauthors.blogspot.com Lizzie Borden, Zombie Hunter – C.A. Verstraete Kindle or Print: http://getbook.at/LizzieBordenZombies1 Every family has its secrets… One hot August morning in 1892, Lizzie Borden picked up an axe and murdered her father and stepmother. Newspapers claim she did it for the oldest of reasons: family conflicts, jealousy and greed. But what if her parents were already dead? What if Lizzie slaughtered them because they’d become… zombies?

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Past & Present

Judy Penz Sheluk

In my previous posts on Pens, Paws and Claws, I’ve shared the stories of dogs from my past: Sandy, Einstein, Ranger and Copper. It should follow that in this post, then, that I write about Gibbs, the dog in my life at the present time. But here’s the thing: yesterday, the second book in my Marketville Mystery Series was released on Kindle and trade paperback. And it just so happens to be called Past & Present.

Now, I’ve checked with Gibbs, who spent a good many hours lying under my desk while I wrote the book, and he’s every bit as excited as I am. In fact, he insisted on me taking this time to tell you about it. (Of course, I had to give him an extra cookie. I also promised to share his story in my next post…with plenty of photos. That dog drives a hard bargain.)

Here’s the blurb:

Sometimes the past reaches out to the present…

It’s been thirteen months since Calamity (Callie) Barnstable inherited a house in Marketville under the condition that she search for the person who murdered her mother thirty years earlier. She solves the mystery, but what next? Unemployment? Another nine-to-five job in Toronto?

Callie decides to set down roots in Marketville, take the skills and knowledge she acquired over the past year, and start her own business: Past & Present Investigations.

It’s not long before Callie and her new business partner, best friend Chantelle Marchand, get their first client: a woman who wants to find out everything she can about her grandmother, Anneliese Prei, and how she came to a “bad end” in 1956. It sounds like a perfect first assignment. Except for one thing: Anneliese’s past winds its way into Callie’s present, and not in a manner anyone—least of all Callie—could have predicted.

Past & Present is available in trade paperback at all the usual suspects (ask your bookstore or library to order it in if they don’t have it), and on Kindle, where it is on for the introductory price of $2.99 (regular $5.99) until the end of the month. 

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Welcome, B. Lynn Goodwin

Tell our readers a little about yourself and your writing.

I own Writer Advice, www.writeradvice.com. My memoir, Never Too Late: From Wannabe to Wife at 62 was a National Indie Excellence Award Winner and a Human Relations Indie Book Award Winner. I’ve also written two other books, You Want Me to Do WHAT? Journaling for Caregivers and Talent, which was short-listed for a Literary Lightbox Award, won a bronze medal in the Moonbeam Children’s Book Awards and was a finalist for a Sarton Women’s Book Award.

My shorter works have appeared in Voices of Caregivers, Hip Mama, Dramatics Magazine, Inspire Me Today, The Sun, Good Housekeeping.com, Purple Clover.com and many other places. She is a reviewer and teacher at Story Circle Network, and I am an editor, writer and manuscript coach at Writer Advice.

In addition, I got married for the first time six-and-a-half years ago at 62 and am the proud mommy of our aging toddler-in-a-fur-suit, Eddie McPuppers.

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

Eddie is part terrier, part pound puppy, and part human. He’s been a columnist for a PetFinder newsletter. I was his typist.

He likes food, walks, toys, sitting in the sun, and guarding Mommy. Also snacks and table scraps. And belly rubs. He keeps adding to this list.

Eddie and his honorary older brother, Mikko, are in Never Too Late: From Wannabe to Wife at 62. https://www.amazon.com/Never-Too-Late-Wannabe-Wife/dp/1633936082

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

Spike, named by my husband, is the dog that belonged to Sandee’s brother, Bri. He stayed at home when Bri joined the Army and was deployed to Afghanistan. He hung around outside and sometimes in Sandee’s room while waiting for Bri to return.

What are you reading now?

Unfortunately, I cannot name the book because it’s an entry in Story Circle Network’s Sarton Women’s Book Award Contest. I’m a judge there. There’s a dog in that book, a stray that found a home with the protagonist.

There are lots of racing dogs in Jamey Bradbury’s The Wild Inside. They play an important role. My interview with the author will be up until the beginning of October at Writer Advice, www.writeradvice.com. I just finished Peter Swanson’s All the Beautiful Lies, but I don’t remember a dog in that one.

What writing projects are you currently working on?

Shhh! Writer Advice, www.writeradvice.com, various flash fiction pieces, and an amorphous piece involving… Shhh!

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

No but that’s a great idea!

What’s your real-life funniest pet story?

Eddie and I were going through the Burger King drive-through window one day. I ordered chicken nuggets while he drowned me out. “Raahhh… Ruuffff…. MMMM!” Eddie said, trying to leap past the driver’s seat, out of the car, and into the open window where Burger King employees deliver food. “One big leap and I’ll be there, Mom. Wanna make a YouTube video?”

Burger King’s employees had seen pets before but never one quite so eager and articulate.

Now when my husband and I go through, he always gets a patty without a bun, explains to the voice in the box that it’s for the dog, and I break it into pieces so Eddie doesn’t swallow it whole.

What do your pets do when you are writing?

Sometimes Eddie watches but often he lies in his personal space, underneath a chair in my office. The chair has a flounce around the bottom for easy doggie access and privacy. He loves his parents, but he’s not too sure about the titanium box with the black keys.

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

Three-and-a-half. The half is for the books, sent for review, that are still in envelopes. Some non-contest books include Susan McBride’s Walk a Crooked Mile, Jill Hitchcock’s Rhino in the Room, Peng Shepherd’s The Book of M (which may be getting old for review), Karin Slaughter’s Pieces of Her, Jonathan K. DeYoe’s Mindful Money, Tod Wodicka’s The Household Spirit (which may also be getting old for review), Rachel Jeffs’ Breaking Free, and more.

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

The publishing world will always be changing and there is more to writing than I thought when people first told me I wrote so well.

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

Write daily. Take classes that promise feedback. Learn from the writers you respect. Work with people who praise as well as critique. Write more. Write in new settings. Read what you’ve written. Don’t be afraid to add and delete.

Never stop learning, growing, and reaching. There are no mistakes—only new material. (Of course some material can be polished and reshaped to make it better and more accessible.)

Meet B. Lynn Goodwin

  • Managing Editor of www.writeradvice.com
  • Author of Talent and You Want Me to Do WHAT? Journaling for Caregivers
  • blynngoodwin.com
  • Never Too Late: From Wannabe to Wife at 62 —2018 National Indie Excellence Award Winner, Human Relations Indie Book Awards Winner, and Next Generation Indie Book Awards Finalist 
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Puppies and Panthers…

I LOVE FOOTBALL!!!

Sorry, didn’t mean to shout, but I really love Football.  I love High School football.  I love College football.  I love Professional football.  This time of year, I am one happy, happy woman because there’s not only baseball, but football too.  Today is college football day.  I’ve been doing chores and work all through the day today whilst watching college football. I’m also really excited about tomorrow’s Panthers vs. Cowboys game.  GO PANTHERS!!!

There’s a problem with this, however.

As many of you may remember, we adopted two fabulous Labrador retrievers in February of this year.  This was our second bonded pair (they have to be adopted together) from our fav rescue organization, Lab Rescue (part of the Labrador Retriever Club of the Potomac).

Our young Irish Water Spaniel, Tucker, whom we got as a puppy, is used to my reaction to football.  He grew up with it, and when I start hollering at the refs, the players or the drive, he just shrugs and keeps chewing on his bone.

Daisy and Dakota, however, are not used to this.  It was post-season when they come to live with us.  They have NO experience with me being the whoop-and-holler fan.

After a few moments of startlement in pre-season, Daisy, like Tucker, decided to ignore it.  She’s an athlete in her own right – she reminds me of a trim tennis player, active and fit.   She remains unphased no matter what down it is, or how bad the sack on my quarterback.

Dakota, on the other hand just does NOT know what to make of my football-induced hollering.

You have to understand that, on non-football days, I’m pretty quiet.  We start the day with a walk, and say hello to the neighbors if they’re out.  After that, we settle in with coffee to work for a few hours, do some social media, and generally get the day done.  There may be some singing – I’m not totally silent! – but there isn’t random shouting, hollering, and complaining.  There is often tennis-ball-throwage in amongst the writing.

On football days?  Oh, my Lord, is there hollering.

See, like I said, I love football.  I’m passionate about it.  My guys got me a really nice TV in the kitchen so I could watch football while I cook dinner.  I use it often.  You’ll see that despite the fact that I didn’t go to Nebraska, I was watching this game.  Why?  Because it was on and it was good.  Grins.

BTW, I was also watching a game on my computer – the high school from which my Eldest just graduated is ranked #4 in the nation in some polls and was playing a great team…St Johns won 37-34…but it took them into the freakin’ FIFTH – yes you read that right FIFTH! – overtime to do it!  Yikes!!

So amidst the whooping at St John’s Cadet’s win, checking to see if the rain delay on the Cubs vs. Nationals game had lifted, and the Nebraska game, I was fully immersed in sports.  Love me some sports.

My husband thinks it’s hysterical that I love football even more than he does.  However, Dakota, our big, black rescue Lab (part Great Dane, we think) is NOT amused about this sport thing.

He fled the kitchen for the safety of the family room.  He refused to come into the kitchen while football was on.  The only thing he came in for was to eat.  Otherwise, he avoided me and my football like the plague – or like I was holding the nail clippers.  

Tucker joined him for part of this day-long sulk, but then Dakota decided to go hang out upstairs with my Youngest, who’s just as anti-(team)-sports as he is.  Dakota and the Youngest Son think I’m nuts.  Ha!

What about you?  Are you a sports fan? 

Or are you a sports widow/widower?

What’s your sport?

What’s your team?

Do you have team gear?  (Love my team gear!)

Did I mention….GO PANTHERS!!!?

 

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Welcome, Joan Hicks Boone!

Pens, Paws, and Claws would like to welcome Joan Hicks Boone to the blog!

Tell our readers a little about yourself and your writing.

My name is Joan Hicks Boone and I am an author from Burnsville, Minnesota. My first book, The Best Girl, published by Koehler Books in may 2018, is a memoir about growing up in a home where Domestic Violence dominated. Prior to becoming a published author, I was served as a registered nurse for thirty-two years in a variety of settings in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area.

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

I first found the poser of writing in a creative writing class I had in ninth grade. Mr. Hoffman was my teacher and he taught us how writing can be used in both a very personal, and public, way. Once I finished college and started my career and family, I didn’t have much time to write but I took it up again in my late forties and have been writing daily since then.

What are you reading now?

I tend to read about four books at once. Currently, I am reading Dopesick by Beth Macy, The Third Hotel by Laura Van Den Berg, and The Perfect Couple by Elin Hilderbrand.

What writing projects are you currently working on?

I am currently working on The Choicemaker, which is the sequel to The Best Girl and I Understand, which will be a collection of essays from my nursing career.

Tell us about your pets.

As a child, I had two dogs. My first dog was Midnight, a beautiful black lab mix. Midnight dies by getting hit by a car in our neighborhood and I was devastated. My next dog was a Cocker Spaniel named TNT who was originally bred to be a show dog. He wasn’t able to compete due to crooked teeth, so he became our dog. He died after having him for about a year. I write about both of them in The Best Girl, as I was very close to them and missed them terribly once they were gone.

Currently, my husband and I have two black labs – Tehya (9 years old) and Tesla (18 months old). They keep us very busy and are very spoiled.

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

Midnight and TNT are characters in their own right in my books. I grew up in a susubur bo St. Paul and I was out with them constantly. Everyone in our neighborhood knew Joanie and her dogs.

I have also written an essay, Golden that was a finalist in a writing contest. Golden is about my grand dog, Olive, who is extremely self-aware of her golden retriever beauty. The essay showcases her drama as I walk her in the Seattle neighborhood she lives in. The neighborhood has a fair amount of homeless people whom Olive provides joyful, beautiful “golden moments” to. My father died as a homeless person, so I tie his love for dogs into the essay. For those who are interested, the essay is posted on my blog page.

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

Too many piles to keep track of! But at the top right now are My Own Words by Ruth Bader Ginsberg and I’ve Been Thinking by Maria Shriver.

I am also in the start-up phase of an online book club that will feature books about health care and am cultivating a list for that. This will coincide with the writing of the book, I Understand, a collection of essays from my nursing career.

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

Keep at it, don’t give up. Life is busy and throws a lot of curve balls in trying to find the time to write – don’t stress out if you aren’t able to write very single day – rejoice in the time you DO have to write and make the most of it.

Start a website and FB page or other social media as soon as you think you may be on to something that will be published. The better following you have going in, the more sales you will have once published.

Obtain Beta-writers as soon as you feel you have something worthy of publishing. I chose three people from different areas of my life – I met with them individually while I wrote The Best Girl and their feedback was overwhelmingly helpful.

About Joan:

Joan Hicks Boone is an author and speaker from Minneapolis, Minnesota. Joan is a former registered nurse who practiced in a variety of settings in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area for over 32 years.

In her memoir, The Best Girl, Joan Hicks Boone takes readers through the experience of growing up in a family struggling with alcoholism, domestic violence, neglect, and other dysfunctions. Throughout the book, readers will see and feel what Joan saw and felt as a toddler, young child and adolescent – and how, throughout all that happens, she holds out hope that by being The Best Girl, her father will be healed, and her mother will smile.

Joan is currently working on her second book, The Choicemaker, a sequel to The Best Girl. For more information about Joan, visit her website at www.joanhicksboone.com.

Synopsis of The Best Girl

Joan’s neighborhood is filled with kids of all ages – a select few are considered her friends, but even they don’t know how violent Joan’s dad is. As she navigates the troubled waters of her home life, Joan becomes adept at reading her dad’s mood, and trying to prevent him from inflicting harm upon her mom. But, time and again, her dad succeeds in his mission. As the violence escalates, Joan is plagued with the constant fear that her mother may die. Repeatedly she asks the same questions: why is her dad so violent and why can’t he be stopped? Throughout the course of her childhood, several heroes enter Joan’s life – readers will cheer for each as they offer Joan gifts of validation, acceptance and hope.

Joan is an exceptional, yet frank, storyteller who brings the reader directly into her home, providing unembellished awareness of the multiple issues that encompass domestic violence. The Best Girl is a story of resilience and survival and, as the book concludes, readers are left with feelings of possibility and hope: it appears that sixteen-year old Joan is going to make it.

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Meet Charles Wendt: K-9 Trainer, Search and Rescue Team Member, Writer

I had the pleasure of interviewing dog trainer, search and rescue team member, and author, Charles Wendt, about his adventures with Jasta.

Heather: Tell our readers a little about yourself and K-9 Jasta.

Charles: After competing sport performance horses in dressage and eventing for a couple of decades, I was ready for a change of pace. My grandfather had trained dogs for the navy during World War II, and I loved shows like Rin Tin Tin K-9 Cop growing up, but other callings when I was a young professional had kept me from fully engaging with working dog activities. At first I thought I would go do dog sports like Schutzhund, but I had hundreds of horse show ribbons in plastic tubes collecting dust in the basement, and wanted to do something more meaningful than add dog show ribbons to them. When time was finally right about two years ago, I embarked on a path to be a Search and Rescue Dog Volunteer Handler for Live Wilderness Air Scent. Jasta came to me as an eight-week old Belgian Malinois, and we’ve spent the past year training to become operational for searches (only one more year to go!).

Heather: What is a “Live Wilderness Air Scent” dog?

Charles: Unlike a bloodhound which follows scent on the ground, an Air Scent dog finds the person by using the cone of scent emitting from a subject and moving with the air. This is a good discipline for finding someone lost in a 200-acre patch of woods and you don’t know where they walked to start on their trail. Of course the odor you are rewarding the dog for finding is “live human scent.” This works great in the state forest, but in a city park you would find a whole bunch of people who aren’t lost, making your K-9 team a better resource for “wilderness” search tasks.

Heather: What type of training goes into developing a search dog?

Charles: Our search team trains one day of each weekend as a group, mostly at State Parks or State Forests. There is a lecture topic at first light which goes for forty-five minutes or so, and then we do some group dog obedience. After that, we take turns working search problems until it gets dark. We practice in all weather conditions and temperatures, and once every couple of months we do a night training. During the week you need to practice at home to show improvement week to week.

Heather: Wow, with all that how do you find the time to write?

Charles: I think that is one of the most challenging aspects of being a writer these days. Life is busy with relationships and commitments, you really have to learn to juggle different tasks and shoe-horn them in when you can. On the search team, we all have to take turns being “lost” for the dogs to find, leaving you sitting against a tree for a few hours. I like to use that time to develop plots lines and flesh out characters. That way, when I get to be in front of the keyboard, the story seems to flow off the fingertips better.

Heather: How long have you been writing?

Charles: My first book was a self-illustrated story I did in fifth grade about a lion who didn’t have a kingdom even if he was supposed to be king of the jungle. Like most, I enjoyed writing short stories in high school and started attempting novels in college, and later while serving in the military. Especially during that year in Korea. Nothing worthy of pursuing publishing, however. I got married and transitioned to corporate life. Being settled allowed me to pursue seriously competing horses. I didn’t write for a couple of decades! Then, it was time for my last horse to retire, and I didn’t want another. My big-corporate job ended soon after, and I had some time to regroup life. The world had also changed with Amazon’s Kindle and the options to self-publish. New Year’s Day of 2016 found me banging on the computer keys surrounded by sleeping dogs, and it felt good.

Heather: Tell us a little about your current writing project?

Charles: My Kelton Jager series is about an Iraq War veteran who comes home with his ex-military working dog, Azrael, and has trouble finding a job. He walks his dog into a town, makes town a little better than he found it, and then walks his dog down the road to the next town. My vision was for real and gritty, with an imperfect hero, instead of being larger than life or cuddly. I’m preparing to launch the fifth in the series where Kelton feels duty bound to help a small beachside sheriff’s department solve a teen girl’s abduction but is worried law enforcement will discover arrest warrants from his past vigilante deeds before she is rescued. Kelton’s character grows by settling on a life’s path that is right for him and his dog, even if he knows his deceased mother would be disappointed.

Heather What type of relationship do you have with K-9 Jasta and how has it influenced your story writing? I mean, real Jasta and fictional Azrael are both Belgian Malinois?

Charles: While Search dogs and Military dogs aren’t the same thing by a longshot, I sure am learning a lot about the day to day management of working K-9’s from Jasta. My dog loves me, is bonded to me, but even though I love furry snuggles, I can forget it. He wants to fetch or play tug and can be quite assertive in expressing his wishes. We’ve an hour walk before work, and another when I get home, and all of it off leash on the farm so he can run around. Physical stimulation isn’t enough, though. We’re always working on a new obedience exercise or trick for the mental side of things. In short, while he is a wonderful working dog, he’s the absolute worst pet I’ve ever had. Having firsthand knowledge of this dynamic has let me portray the breed realistically in my stories. I want my readers to understand what it’s like to have such a dog for the majority of the time when the dog is not getting to be a hero.

Heather: What are some of the most outrageous things K-9 Jasta has done?

Charles: I could swear in court that he doesn’t have paws in front, but rather hands. He’s turned on the water on the side of the house numerous times. I need to teach him to turn it off when he’s done. He can work doorknobs, and even pull doors open to get through. Our home has several exterior doors, and I will be seeing my fuzzy buddy very shortly after throwing him outside if they aren’t all locked. He will go and check every one of them. High energy problem solvers like him will keep you on your toes.

Heather: Have you always liked books or movies with an animal as a central character?

Charles: My most favorite novel of all time is Richard Adam’s Watership Down, about a warren of rabbits needing to relocate because of a housing development. I experienced the animated film when in the sixth grade and read the novel three times before getting through high school and college. It’s not just about the incredible adventure, but also the drama in the relationships between the characters. I was most saddened to learn of the author’s passing just after I published my first book, K-9 Outlaw, and I note his influence on me. For example, even though my genre is driven by realism instead of fantasy, I always do a scene from the dog’s point of view because animals are characters with goals and motivations like everyone else.

Heather: What are you reading right now?

Charles: I’ve just finished Nelson DeMille’s The Gold Coast, and I enjoyed it so much I went on to its sequel, The Gate House. Its main character is a successful man, about my age, who is nonetheless a little bored. The difference being I pursued joining a K-9 Search and Rescue team, while the tax lawyer character in DeMille’s book takes on a mafia boss as a client even though he has no background in criminal law. Both of us have a wild ride after.

Heather: What advice would you give to new dog owners or folks interested in adopting a new four-legged family member?

Charles: For the love of God, don’t get a Belgian Malinois! No, I’m not kidding. Other than that, I’m a big proponent of forever homes and until death do we part. When people announce they need to rehome their dog because of a new apartment or new job, I’m like, then why did you make such a choice to move? One must understand it’s a long commitment and your moral obligation to follow through on that promise. That being said, hardly any home is perfect but most certainly better than being at the shelter. Make a difference in this fuzzy baby’s life, and I guarantee it will make a positive difference in yours.

Heather: What advice would you give folks for traveling with their dogs?

Charles: I’ve wrestled with that both from driving all over the state for training, as well as the two-day journey to visit my parents. First is the planning aspect of the trip. I don’t just look for a dog friendly motel, but rather such a motel that is near a state park. After driving all day, an hour walk is just as good for me as it is my dog. The scenery is always beautiful, and fees are just a few dollars. Second, I love my Trans-K9 kennel for the “it’s super-hot and I can’t leave the dog in the car, but I have to go inside and use the facilities” conundrum. You tell the company the year, make and model of your vehicle and they provide a dog crate that fits your vehicle’s cargo area which has locks on it. That way you can lock the car with the hatchback open (and sunroof). No one can take your dog or get inside your vehicle, but he’s no warmer than just being outside. The battery powered fans make it even better.

You can find out more about Charles and Jasta at his social media sites:

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