Pens, Paws, and Claws would like to welcome Colleen Mooney to the blog!
My background is mostly in sales and marketing. I retired from AT&T and went to work for a publisher until Katrina interrupted that. We lost our home and everything in it when we evacuated with four dogs to a friend’s home in Memphis. I had started on my first book before Katrina and it took me almost 9 years to get back to it. I’ve always had pets, mainly dogs, but a cat, fish and birds along the way. Almost nineteen years ago I started as a volunteer for Schnauzer Rescue of Louisiana, and now I am the director and have rescued and placed almost 400 schnauzers in that time.
Since I’m born and raised in New Orleans it took moving away to see how different we are here. I moved to New York with AT&T and ordered a turkey po-boy, dressed at a lunch counter with about fifty people in line. The deli man looked at me and said, “Lady, I have no idea what that is.” It’s a sandwich on French Bread, and dressed means with lettuce and tomato. Let’s not even get started with names of streets, how we give directions, or what we eat and how we eat it.
We have parades for everything throughout the year, not just at Mardi Gras. We even have a dog parade here called the Krewe of Barkus and we attend every year.
My pets are all Schnauzers now. I have four and they all came into rescue. Two came in and never left. The other two I took back from the family of a lady who died unexpectedly . She had adopted Murphy and Tweezer. Murphy is about 13 or 14 years old and older dogs are hard to place while Tweezer has had a lens replaced in one eye. She came to me blind. I did a fund raiser and had a lens replaced so she can now see. Her medical issue requires going to an ophthalmologist every six months and having two types of drops put in her eyes daily. I was afraid no one would take them together. My husband and I feel they can stay with us for the remainder of their lives.
My first pet that was my dog and not the family pet was Cricket Ann. She was half schnauzer and half something else, maybe Chihuahua. She looked and acted like a schnauzer, complete with the schnauzer attitude. She made me a schnauzer lover from that moment on. It was easy to get involved with the rescue for this breed years later.
My books all have a schnauzer in them. I write about my dog Meaux Jeaux (pronounced Mo Jo, another New Orleans thing). He was the 5th rescue who came into our lives and never left. He is the dog I write about in my stories. He always made me laugh and was devoted to me.
Pets are always in my books. I add some as rescues and usually they are modeled after a real life rescue like Meaux is in my stories. I had a dog named Justice that belonged to a Judge, and a dog named Valentine that was adopted by a lonely policewoman. My stories come from real life situations or things that have happened and then I fictionalize a story around them. My current pets are MoonPie Mooney, Mauser the Schnauzer (Maus for short because he is very small, only 11 lbs.), Murphy Mooney and Tweezer Mooney.
I read everything from food labels to mysteries, true crime, and anything set in Europe. Currently. I’m reading LISBON War in the Shadows of the City of Light, 1939-1945 which is a little different for me. I recently went to Liston and found Portugal fascinating. I came across this book and how Portugal stayed neutral and out of World War II making me want to learn more about the country. Mostly, I look for Scandinavian authors and one of my favorites is Henning Mankell who recently died. I read all the Wallendar series, The Man from Beijing and The Fifth Woman. Anything international, spy, thriller or espionage gets on my reading list.
I’m working on the release of Book 7 in the Summer Snoops UNLEASHED box set due to launch July 23rd. My story is Fireworks, Forensics & Felonies is the latest book in my series, The New Orleans Go Cup Chronicles, a Brandy Alexander Mystery. I’m trying another series based more on women’s stories and I’m having fun writing those.
My dad brought home dogs all the time, before the days of rescue. I did not come by the pet rescue calling by accident. I believe I inherited it. My dad brought home big dogs, German Shepherds, Dobermans, and a Chow, while my mother liked small dogs. She had several Chihuahuas over the course of our childhood. We played with the big dogs while my mother kept her dog inside.
I include animals in my writing because I feel they can offer a dimension to the character that tells the reader what that person is like. If someone is kind or helpful to animals, they are generally nice as a rule, and if they aren’t, then they are the villain.
I don’t have a favorite book or movie with an animal as a central character but I do like and watch all pet movies when they come out. I cry at all of them.
Since I do rescue, most of my stories are not funny, but sad with happy endings when the rescue trusts people again and I find someone to love them and give them a safe home.
My funniest pet story is about Meaux. He was the fifth dog that came into rescue and both my husband and I fell in love with him. When he got older he started having health issues and required a lot of medication. Meaux always took anything I gave him, pills included. Meaux listened to me like a person would. At one vet visit Dr. Kevin suggested we change his pills and start him on them as soon as I got home. I said,” I can give it to him now.” Dr. Kevin said it could wait until I got home since it was a pretty big pill.
I took the pill from him and asked Meaux if he wanted this blue pill cookie. Meaux sat down and I handed him the pill which he promptly swallowed. No pushing it down his throat or hiding it in a pill pocket. Dr. Keven stood there looking at Meaux for what seemed like a long time and finally said, “I’ve never seen anything like that. How did you get him to do that?”
I said, “I just call it a cookie.”
The number one item on my bucket list is to take the Orient Express Train from London to Istanbul. Of course, now it doesn’t run all the way to Istanbul without a stopover. However, I could be very happy stopping over in Venice for a day or two. This has been my dream since I first read Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie.
My pets keep me on the clock every day, not just when I’m writing. Tweezer has a special bark in the morning, sometime between 5:00 a.m. and 5:45 a.m. when she wants to rise and go outside. The others sit and wait while she sounds revelry. They come paw me when they need to go out at noon, so that is my break for lunch. During the day one or two will come and paw or bark at me to rub, pet or scratch their chest. Sometimes they bring a toy and drop it by my chair for me to throw for a play break. They come back at exactly five o’clock (how do they tell time?) and paw or bark for dinner. At that point, I’ve been at it all day so it’s time to start their dinner and ours. My husband says he is the doorman letting them out or back inside, and I’m the cook!
If you want to be a writer, then write. Write everyday. Write about things you love or want to do. I write to entertain myself and I’m fortunate that others also find it amusing and enjoy my stories. When I realized there wasn’t a Sisters in Crime chapter in New Orleans, I started one. Get involved and it will further your writing endeavors.
While the hardest thing for me was to let someone else read what I wrote, I would recommend getting into a writing group and critiquing others and lets others critique you. Join a group of like minded writers. You can find them online, at the library or in university classes. Join a Sisters in Crime chapter near you or the national organization and take online classes. There is a wealth of information to help you out there and a lot is online but nothing beats getting together in a group/class and sharing your work. Sharing your work and reading the work of others will make you a better writer.
I am a southern girl from New Orleans. All my family was born and raised here. We are from the Irish Channel and are a lot like boomerangs or homing pigeons. If we move away, we always come back.
I’ve relocated to Birmingham Alabama, Madison New Jersey, New York City, Atlanta Georgia returning to New Orleans in between each move before leaving again. If you count Katrina, I have moved out and back four times. I plan to stay put now.
I started in the public grade school system until there was an opening in the Catholic school. My mother transferred me to St. Christopher Catholic Grammar School. From there it was onward to Sacred Heart of Jesus High School and I graduated from Loyola CATHOLIC University of the South with a B.S. in Guilt, or maybe it was something else. What stuck with me from all this Catholic education was never take no for an answer, and if you aren’t afraid of a nun, you aren’t afraid of anything.
I worked in the AT&T system and was down-sized, up-sized, and re-sized until I spent 20+ years there before retiring.
I have been an avid Scuba diver and Underwater photographer, owned and raced sailboats in the Gulf of Mexico and the BVI. I love to travel, and my mother always said I was born with a suitcase in my hand.
I have been a member of many Mardi Gras Krewes, Super Krewes, and organizations. I paraded in the Krewe of Cork, Orpheus, Iris, Tucks, Joan of Arc and the Halloween Krewe of Boo. I never met a parade I didn’t like.
I am an ardent animal lover and am the Director for a breed rescue, Schnauzer Rescue of Louisiana. I love to write, and I write about what I know and love! You can take the girl out of New Orleans, but you cannot take the New Orleans out of the girl!
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Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/colleen.mooney.716
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