In the Spirit of Giving…


I’m sharing a free excerpt of Deadly Ties!

If winter weather has you shivering,  visit Eagle Cove where it’s sizzling hot and mystery awaits!

Come meet Maggie Porter and her dogs—a champion Labrador Retriever, an aging Cocker Spaniel, and a Beagle retired from federal service. Maggie’s returned home to reopen the family dog kennel business, where she’s plagued by problems from the start. Serious trouble arises when a gossip-loving employee turns up dead holding an heirloom locket belonging to Maggie’s mother. Anonymous threats and break-ins occur as the violence escalates, and Maggie becomes a target when she searches for answers. With her loyal dogs at her side, she must dig for the truth. Along the way, she learns that everyone has something to hide—and some secrets are worth killing for.



The Dog Writers Association of America has announced the nominees for their annual writing competition.  Fans of cozy mysteries will rejoice at the news that Sheila Webster Boneham has been nominated for her book  Drop Dead on Recall (published by Midnight Ink). Sheila is a prolific–and highly talented–author of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. At last count, she’s published  17 books about dogs and collected outstanding reviews, enthusiastic fans, and  “best in category” awards along the way.

Drop Dead on Recall

Drop Dead on Recall is the first in her Animals in Focus mystery series; the second in the series is titled The Money Bird. If you’re looking for an entertaining “whodunit” featuring an engaging amateur sleuth, an insider’s view of the dog world, and–of course–wonderful dogs, you’ve found a series you’ll love! You can learn more about the books and about the author at her website.  Order her books through her site or go straight to your favorite bookseller.

Holidays & Pets

Here in the Ozarks, we’re already trudging through snow and listening to the ice-coated trees creaking in the wind.  It’s a good time to stay inside and enjoy a good book!  If you’re looking for a mystery that’s fun and filled with dogs, start with Laurien Berenson’s Melanie Travis mystery series.  Jingle Bell Bark is a perfect choice for this time of year.

The book is actually the 11th in the series but it’s a great read as a stand-alone cozy mystery, too.  Ms. Berenson is a great writer, and a four-time winner of the Maxwell Award, presented by the Dog Writers Association of America.   You can find her online  and get the latest news about this engaging series!

Books (both traditional and digital editions) are a great way to stretch your holiday shopping budget.  You can shop online at the big retailers like Amazon or Barnes & Noble, or you can keep your money closer to home by shopping at a local  Independent Bookseller.  According to IndieBound: “Spend $100 at a local and $68 of that stays in your community. Spend the same $100 at a national chain, and your community only sees $43.”

And as much as authors would love to see books on your gift list, there’s something else we hope we don’t see on that list–pets!  As exciting as it might sound, bringing a dog or cat into your household during the holiday season creates a lot of stress and that isn’t a good way to begin a long and loving relationship.  As the American Kennel Club reminds us, puppies are not stocking stuffers!  Check this article for the AKC’s suggestions for a safe holiday season with all your beloved pets. And while you’re at it, be sure to read the ASPCA’s tips for watching your pet’s waistline during the holidays!

The Canine Connection

What’s the best way to spend an afternoon? Why, playing with dogs of course!


Yesterday I had the privilege of attending the Grand Opening celebration for The Canine Connection in Fayetteville, Arkansas. I’d donated a copy of my latest release, Deadly Ties (set in a dog kennel, so a perfect match), and was on hand to watch the excitement.

If you’re in that part of the world and looking for a place to board, groom, or train your dog, be sure to check them out. I loved the personal attention that both dogs and owners received. And even if, like me, you arrive without a dog you’ll still enjoy VIP treatment and a personal tour of the facilities. Even though it was raining when I arrived, I saw plenty of activity because of the large indoor arenas.  The owner, Valerie Murphy, knows just how to make the kennel experience a happy one for everyone involved.  Whether your beloved dog is a pedigreed champion or the All-American variety kind of dog, Val and her team will treat you like royalty.

In addition to clean and spacious indoor arenas, there’s also a separate grooming area, ample room for boarders, and separate outdoor play areas for small and large dogs. If you’re interested in obedience or agility work, this is the place of you. I had the pleasure of watching Jack (a handsome Australian Shepard owned and trained by Diana Nagel) demonstrate a variety of agility exercises. It was very impressive, and I swear he was laughing (or at least barking) with joy as he went around the circuit.

My sincere thanks to Valerie and Diana for a lovely afternoon!


A progress report

Two updates to report…

First, NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) is in full swing, and so far I’ve exceeded the quota each day! Today’s total (21,116 words) puts me on track to complete 50,000 words of the next novel in the Waterside Kennels Mystery Series. Since the target publication date for Death Tracks is late summer 2014, I better plan to keep up this pace through the spring!

The second update: check the “Dogs, Dogs, Dogs!” tab on the website here. You’ll find a cool story about The Ultimate Dog Lady, who happens to be one of my beta readers for the series. You’ll also find some serious information about common household items that can prove deadly for your dog.

And coming soon:  interviews with a dog expert, a crime writer, and a college professor who wants to use Deadly Ties in an upcoming class. Stay tuned!

To the Rescue!

Several weeks ago I had a terrific opportunity to watch the Shreveport (LA) Fire Department Search & Rescue Task Force and volunteers participate in the 4th annual Super Safety Saturday at the Sheriff’s Safety Town in Shreveport.  While there was certainly plenty to keep kids of all ages engaged, the highlight of the day for me was watching kids meet the bloodhounds and other Search & Rescue dogs.

Maureen Kidd with Darcy
Maureen Kidd with Darcy

If you’ve browsed through the slideshow on my website you’ve seen the picture of three Bloodhounds. That’s Ginny, Brinklie, and Darcy; Ginny and Brinklie are “official” members of the SFD team. Darcy, who’s trained and handled by Maureen Kidd (one of the beta readers for my series) is learning SAR skills in addition to her work as a Pet Partners therapy dog, and she too spent the morning at Safety Town. All three dogs charmed everyone with their gentle demeanor. The handlers did a wonderful job introducing the dogs to children and explaining the work they do.

The department also had other dogs there and spent a lot of time discussing the differences between tracking, trailing, area search dogs, and dogs trained to detect human remains. I’m sure the information I collected will show up sometime soon in the Waterside Kennels Mystery Series!

Watching them move through the crowd, I soon discovered that Bloodhounds are incredibly strong and require a firm hand on the leash. These are trailing dogs working from a specific scent (a missing person’s shirt, for example).  They can work a scent trail that is hours old, and the presence of other people in the area doesn’t affect them.  The dogs trail a specific person by following the scent carried by tiny particles of skin cells cast off by that person. If the dog has been given a good scent article and starts from the point where the person was last seen (PLS for short), then a Bloodhound (or any other dog trained in trailing) is often the best resource to use.

If a scent article isn’t available, or if the PLS is unknown, search teams might bring in area search dogs. These dogs are trained to detect airborne human scents and are an excellent resource when a large area must be cleared. The area search dog will alert the handler when a “find” is made. These dogs are not “scent discriminate” so they’ll alert on every single person they find in the area.  As you might imagine, that can quickly tire any dog. That’s why it’s critical that, whenever possible, searchers stay out of the area while the dog is working.

The bond is deep between a dog and his handler
The bond is deep between a dog and his handler. Meet Justin Mackey and Radar.

To learn more about the Shreveport Fire Department’s Search and Rescue Task Force, visit their website at My thanks to Sydney Griffin for the photographs you see here. (See her dog Sadie in the slideshow; Sadie’s training to be a Pet Partners therapy dog.)

And my sincere thanks to everyone involved for sharing their knowledge and expertise with me!

A New Quest!

This morning I received an invitation to register for a webinar titled “Yes, You Can Write A Novel in One Month”  My first reaction was….one month? Really?  Who does that?

Apparently, 96,562 writers do—and the numbers are rising.  They’re all part of the National Novel Writing Month, aka NaNoWriMo.  Here’s a quote from the organization’s FAQ page:

“National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) is a fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to creative writing. On November 1, participants begin working towards the goal of writing a 50,000-word novel by 11:59 p.m. on November 30. Valuing enthusiasm, determination, and a deadline, NaNoWriMo is for anyone who has ever thought fleetingly about writing a novel.”  You can read more at and toss your (literary) hat in the ring if you’re so inclined.

Deadly Ties, the first novel in the Waterside Kennels Mystery Series, is just under 100,000 words and took me a lot longer than a month to write (years, actually).  So 50,000 words will probably be a milestone rather than the finishing line for the second in the series (already in the works).  Still…I confess I’m intrigued by the idea, and found myself hooked when I realized there are fellow writers in my part of the world who have banded together in the spirit of NoNoWriMo to jump into the action and get their work moving.

Since several reviewers have mentioned their eagerness to read the next book in the series (tentatively titled Death Tracks), I’m going to join the campaign.  I’ll keep you posted on my progress!

In search of treasure

Researching my new book Deadly Ties turned out to be a lot of fun—and a bit more exciting than I expected!

I knew I needed some extensive research in order to create the story I wanted to write.  That desire led me out into the woods and deep into caves on the trail of Ozark legends. Now, I admit I was skeptical when I heard some of these treasure stories. In fact, one of the characters in my book feels the same way! But after meeting Phillip Steele and reading his stories, I was hooked. That might explain how I ended up far underground in a place called the Old Spanish Treasure Cave in Benton County, Arkansas.

Well, one memorable day a guide had taken a couple of us through the cave. (A cool place to visit, by the way.) We happened to be the last through and had reached the bottom when the lights went off!  Imagine absolute blackness and complete silence, and you’ll have an idea of what that cave was like.  Now imagine tons of rock over your head, and nothing but a skinny passage way leading you to the surface, and you can probably appreciate that I was breathing just a tad faster than usual!

We made our way slowly upwards and emerged (relatively) unscathed. We later learned an employee had turned off the generator which powered the cave lights, not knowing anybody was still down below.  (Bet he didn’t do that again!)

But the story has a happy ending. We got out safely and I got some terrific material for a book!

You can read more about the background of the book at my website

What about you? What sort of treasure do you seek? And how far are you willing to go in search of that treasure?

Celebrating a book launch!

To celebrate the publication of Deadly Ties I’m giving away five autographed copies of my book at The giveaway runs from October 8th through November 8th. You can read the first six chapters in the free excerpt I’ve uploaded, so jump in and enter your name for a chance at a free book!

If you’re a fan of cozy mysteries and like dogs, you’ll enjoy meeting Maggie Porter and her beautiful dogs—a champion Labrador Retriever, an aging Cocker Spaniel, and a Beagle retired from federal service. The first book in the series finds Maggie in a lot of trouble when she returns to her childhood home in the Ozarks to reopen the family dog business. From the start, she’s plagued by a string of woes that turn serious when the Waterside Kennels’ gossip-loving receptionist turns up dead.

Watch this space for updates about the series!