An Unexpected Gift

Seventeen years have passed since I lost my beloved spaniel Alix, who lives on in my heart and in my series as the inspiration for Sweet Pea. For seventeen years I didn’t believe I had enough heart left to offer another dog.  Until now.

First came this photo, taken at the time she was surrendered to a rural county sheriff’s office:

Sasha Shelty

I looked at that sweet face and felt a little tingle. And I wondered…

I put everything on hold to make the trek over the hills and across the prairie plains region, where I took one look into those eyes and lost my heart all over again.  I hope you’ll join me in welcoming Sasha here at dogmysteries.com:

She’s a young Sheltie, likely less than two years old. She charmed everyone at the vet clinic and didn’t fuss at all about the exam, the blood tests, or even the inevitable medications needed to combat various minor maladies. She was a bit less sanguine about PetSmart, where I quickly realized she doesn’t like noise, probably hasn’t been socialized to men, and apparently didn’t want the bed I chose—although that might be revenge since I won’t allow her on my own bed, which is the domain of Buddy the Cat. Her coat is too thin in places and she’s in serious need of a groomer far more professional than I could ever be, but overall she’s in reasonably good health.

So far I’ve figured out that she knows sit, shake hands, speak, and has a passing familiarity with down, although that tends to have her springing straight up a few seconds later.  She can manage stay for almost a minute. Plus, she can sneeze on command.  (Really.)

She’s vocal (and then some!) when she sees another dog, which makes neighborhood walks a noisy adventure. She’s also clueless about walking on a leash,  but in our two days together she’s already realized that heel is not an invitation to gallop! This gives me hope she’ll make quick progress in obedience class, which is a “must have” for us before we can even think about the Canine Good Citizen test.

Never having had a Sheltie before, and being the total research geek that I am, I’ve ordered the breed guide and training book Shetland Sheepdog by award-winning author Sheila Webster Boneham and have turned to Sheltie owners, dog experts, and fellow dog writers for advice. I already owe special thanks to Susan Conant and Susan J. Kroupa (both award-winner authors and dog lovers) for their wonderful support and guidance.

After 17 years I feel like a novice again, and am grateful for all comments, suggestions, and recommendations.  (To share in the comments, you can either click on the word “comments” at the bottom of this post, or click on the post title and scroll down.) You’ll be seeing more of Sasha in future posts as I document our merry adventures in training. And count on seeing a Sheltie in a Waterside Kennels mystery sometime soon!

Move Over Miss Marple

Move Over Miss Marple WordleI’m delighted to announce that in April I’ll be leading a course for the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute in Fayetteville, Arkansas. More commonly known as OLLI, the institute is a division of the University of Arkansas. I’m glad to have this chance to return to a place that holds such happy memories; I earned my master’s degree at the university and taught undergraduates there for four years before moving on in pursuit of my doctorate.

During the OLLI course, we’ll be exploring the role of female sleuths in mystery fiction since the days of Miss Marple. The course is structured to run in two-hour sessions meeting once weekly, which allows participants to research authors and writing practices as well as giving everyone time to read excerpts in between sessions. I’m already collecting material to share and looking for more—see details at end of this post.

First, here’s the description for “Move Over, Miss Marple” from the OLLI spring catalog:

This course will explore the role of female sleuths in American and British mystery fiction. The first session will introduce types of female characters—both amateur and professional—in crime solving fictional roles. We’ll explore the differences in character roles and responsibilities within the context of the genre.

In the second session, we’ll discuss how the characters’ dialog and action help bring a region to life in a mystery series. We’ll investigate the way writers create a sense of place, blend fact with fiction, and address social issues and controversies as part of plotting the sleuth’s role.

Our final session will focus on the increasingly popular sub-genre of crime fiction known as the ‘cozy’ mystery. We’ll analyze key structural elements and characteristics defining a cozy mystery. Using the information developed in the first two sessions, we’ll study the variety of types and sleuths within the sub-genre.

The course is appropriate for both writers and readers looking for a deeper understanding and appreciation of women in the mystery genre.

I’ll be sending advance packets via email to registered participants and plan to include “Recommended Reading” lists and (hopefully) excerpts of books that relate to our session topics. And while the main focus is on American and British mystery fiction, I can easily extend that to Canada or the Caribbean. That’s where you all come in!

READERS: who are your favorite female sleuths? Share details in the comments (author, book/series title) and a brief explanation why you’d recommend these to others. I’ll add your name to a drawing for a free copy of Deadly Ties (Kindle or Audiobook edition, your choice). Keep for yourself or pass along as a gift!

Have a favorite website that features cozy mysteries and/or female sleuths? Share that, too! This could be a great way to drive more traffic to sites you enjoy and want to support.

WRITERS: if you have a female sleuth, I’d love to consider promoting you and your work—to include excerpts or sample chapters—as part of this course. Email dogmysteries [at] gmail dot com for details.

You’re also welcome to post in the comments of this post for additional publicity. And if you’ll suggest other authors’ work for inclusion , I’ll add your name to the drawing, too.

READERS AND WRITERS: I’d be very grateful if you’d help me get the word out via Facebook, Twitter, blogs, etc. Reblogging in part or whole is welcome with a link back to my website. My goal is to introduce course participants to as many authors, books, and websites as possible.

In addition to sharing the “Recommended Reads” with registered participants, I’ll happily post the collection here by the end of April so we can learn about “new to us” authors and celebrate books together!

Celebrating Success!

DWAA 2015

Here’s a happy way to start the 2016 blog year: celebrating the success of my colleagues in the Dog Writers Association of America whose works earned a place in the DWAA Annual Writing Competition. There are quite a few categories; go to https://dogwriters.org/ to see them all.  I’m going to share the list of nominees for in the Online category (blogs, websites, newsletters, articles, etc.) and encourage you to browse the list. Perhaps you’ll find new authors to follow–I’m confident you’ll find a lot of terrific information and ideas!

But first: I’m delighted to share the news that Susan Conant has been nominated for her book Sire and Damn. Susan was an honored guest here last year to talk about that book and the writing craft. (Missed those? Find them here.)  If anyone wonders about the quality of indie publishing, I’d say you have the proof right here–Susan’s work is exceptional. Here’s another look at the cover of that book:

Sire and Damn

 

And now, here’s that list I promised, with links included wherever possible. Enjoy!

Online

14. Blogsite Or Website

American Kennel Club www.akc.org

Mutt About Town Blog http://muttabouttown.com/blog Maureen Ann Backman

Fidose Of Reality http://fidoseofreality.com Carol Bryant

The Daily Junior Dog Blog http://thedailyjuniorblog.com Jill Schilp

15. Magazine Or Newsletter

AKC Canine Partners News, Penny Leigh & Joanne Tribble, editors

AKC Gazette, Erika Mansourian, editorial director

Havanese Breed Magazine, Thomas Wettlaufer, editor

Speaking of Dogs Monthly Newsletter, Lorraine Houston, Nancy Foran & Cathy Vandergeest, editors

G. Online Articles or Blog Entries

16. Article Or Blog – Health or General Care

 Nancy Beach, “Canine Osteosarcoma Parts 1 and 2” (Celebrating Greyhounds Magazine)

 Deb M. Eldredge, DVM, “Messing With Meds” (Best In Show Daily)

 Deb M. Eldredge, DVM, “Dog Bones & Safety Petcha.com

 Ranny Green, “How a Special Service Dog Enables 23-Year Army Veteran” SeattleKennelClub.org

 Jane Messineo Lindquist (Killion) and Mark Lindquist, “Ovulation Timing And Preventing Fading Puppies: A Surprising Nexus” www.puppyculture.com

17. Article Or Blog – Behavior or Training

 Mara Bovsun, “Why Old Dogs Must Learn New Tricks” www.WOOFipedia.com

 Denise Fenzi, “It’s a Puppy, Not a Problem!” www.denisefenzipetdogs.com

 Liz Palika, “7 Suggestions for Training Multiple Dogs” www.thehonestkitchen.com

 Nancy Tanner, “Shutting a Dog Down” www.pawsandpeople.com

 Bev Thompson, “Why Tone of Voice Matters” www.anythingpawsable.com

18. Article or Blog – Rescue

 AKC Canine Health Foundation, “The Joys of Adopting Senior Dogs”

 Kim Campbell Thornton, “Old Dogs Rule” (Universal Press Syndicate Pet Connection)

 Kim Campbell Thornton, “Beagle Mania” (Universal Press Syndicate Pet Connection)

 Meredith Wargo, “The Plight of Greyhounds Abroad” www.rescueproud.com

19. Article or Blog – Any Other Topic

 Laura Coffey, “9/11 Ground Zero Search Dog Still Lends a Helping Paw” TODAY.com

 Sally Deneen and Edie Lau, “Facial-recognition Apps Scout Lost Pets” (VIN News Service)

 Liz Donovan, “Man Gives Everything to Care for 12 Military Dogs After Their Return From War” akc.org

 Ranny Green, “For This 911 Call Taker, Anja and Loki are Her Relief ValvesAfter a Trying Day at Work SeattleKennelClub.org

 William Kearney, “On Losing a Dog” Petcentric.com

 Emma Kesler, “Want to Learn More About a Unique Dog Breed?”milesandemma.com

 Jen Reeder, “Let’s Discuss Pets During Domestic Violence Awareness Month” (Huffington Post)

Have a favorite on the list? I’d love to hear about it!

Wishing You Joy!

Holiday candle

Holiday candle courtesy of http://www.torange.us  (Creative Commons license 4.0)

Wherever and whatever you celebrate, here’s wishing you a season of joy–and good reading, too! I’ll be back in mid-January with more great reads, plus updates about the next book in my Waterside Kennels mystery series.

~Susan

Doodle does Christmas!

Bad-Mouthed book cover

Looking for a terrific, laugh-out loud mystery featuring a one-of-a-kind dog as narrator? I enthusiastically recommend the Doodlebugged mystery series written by the award-winning author Susan J. Kroupa. Doodle’s antics are the perfect choice for dog lovers on your holiday shopping list.

With four books now in the series, this is the perfect time to catch up with Doodle. Each book can be enjoyed as a stand-alone, but why stop at just one? Grab a copy of each and share the joy of Doodle this holiday season! All four in the series are budget-priced PLUS Bad-Mouthed (#4) will be on sale for just 99¢ as part of a one-day-only special on Saturday, December 12th. Grab it while you can!

To learn how the Doodlebugged series came to be, read my earlier post titled Nosing Out a Series. Here’s a snippet of the fun you can expect with Doodle’s latest adventure:

 

Who knew chasing a rat in the middle of a Christmas pageant could cause so much trouble? Certainly not Doodle, the obedience-impaired labradoodle who works for the “boss,” Josh Hunter of Hunter Bed Bug Detection, nor Molly, the boss’s ten-year-old daughter. But then Doodle is the first to admit he doesn’t quite get Christmas.

Doodle’s antics during the pageant draw the attention of a popular video-blogger, who asks to do a feature on his sniffer-dog skills. But when the blog airs, pretty much the opposite of what Molly and the boss expected, the boss’s phone rings off the hook with distraught customers who think Doodle’s bed bug “finds” can’t be trusted. Molly, searching for a way to set things right, befriends the blogger’s son, a boy alienated from his mother who wants only to go live with his father. Throw in a handful of threatening letters, some lost dogs, and a devastating fire, and Molly and Doodle have their hands full—well, in Doodle’s case, his paws—finding out just who’s been naughty and who’s been nice. A charming cozy for all seasons and for dog lovers of all ages.

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KroupaSue&Shadow400Susan J. Kroupa is a dog lover currently owned by a 70 pound labradoodle whose superpower is bringing home dead possums and raccoons and who happens to be the inspiration for her Doodlebugged books. She’s also an award-winning author whose fiction has appeared in Realms of Fantasy, and in a variety of professional anthologies, including Bruce Coville’s Shapeshifters. Her non-fiction publications include features about environmental issues and Hopi Indian culture for The Arizona Republic, High Country News, and American Forests. You can find her books on her website as well as her Amazon sales page.

Sharing the Story

“Winter Holiday” (Creative Commons License)

When you see a reader walking out of a bookstore holding a signed copy of your book as if it was a wondrous gift…

In moments like these, it is the reader who gives a gift to the author. 

To readers everywhere: thank you!

Dogs, Mysteries, and More!

Richard Houston Box Set

I’m always happy to promote regional authors, and even happier when there are dogs involved! Richard Houston is an Amazon Top 100 author living in the Ozarks (the Missouri Ozarks, that is) and writing mystery fiction set in the Ozarks and in Colorado.  Best selling author Dianne Harman says A View to Die For is “simply one of the best books I’ve read in a long time.”

This box set is on pre-order special for just $4.99 right now,with an automatic download on December 6th. (The price goes up to just $6.99 on the 6th.)  And–just in case you prefer buying one book at a time–each of the titles below are hyperlinks which will take you straight to the Amazon sales page. Happy reading!

 

A View to Die For

A View to Die ForJake Martin is not your ordinary sleuth. He’s an ordinary guy with an extraordinary dog. He’s trying to make the best of a divorce and mid-life crisis when he gets a call at two o’clock Sunday morning from his mother. His sister has been arrested for the murder of her fourth husband, and his father is near death. Thus begins an adventure that takes Jake and his golden retriever from their Colorado retreat to a backwater town in the Missouri Ozarks where they search for cold-blooded killers, a cache of gold coins buried by Jesse James, and the love of a beautiful nurse.

 

 

A Book to Die For

Book to Die ForThis time the story takes place in the foothills of Denver. Jake is accused of manslaughter and he has to prove the accident was really murder. Along the way he encounters a poaching ring and falls in love with a beautiful game warden.

Amazon reviewer M. Brown has this to say: “A great read [with] mystery, action and humor. The characters were well developed and realistic, having both positive and negative traits. And Fred steals the show, he is an awesome dog. The mystery continues throughout the entire book and is not easily solved. There are twists and turns that keep you guessing.”

 

A Treasure to Die For

Treasure to Die ForThere is a treasure high in the Colorado Rockies waiting for someone to find it. Jake Martin couldn’t care less. Since the death of his wife, all Jake wants is to be left alone in his mountain cabin where he and his dog, Fred, can get on with life.

But when it becomes known that the location of the treasure is encrypted in a message left by a 19th century miner, people begin to die, and Jake’s good friend and neighbor becomes the number one suspect. Can the amateur sleuths decode the message and stop the murderer, or have Jake and Fred finally met their match?

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I’ll be back next week with still more dog-themed mysteries. Before that, I’m heading out to my local independent bookstore Nightbird Books to celebrate Local Author Day and visit with readers and writers from 10:30 a.m. through 1 p.m. on Saturday, December 5th. If you’re in the area, I hope you’ll drop by and say hello!