Celebrating Birthdays and Books

Sasha is officially four years old today! When we applied to the AKC via their Purebred Alternative Listing (PAL) program, we opted to rely on the veterinarian’s estimate of Sasha’s age because we don’t know much about her life before she came to us. We chose July 4th for her “official” birthday in celebration of her new life. She’s now formally recognized as Ozark Summer Highlands Sasha.

For those new to the blog, here’s a quick recap of the story behind her name:

We chose Ozark for our locale and Highlands for her heritage; we’re actually in the Ozark Highlands, so it’s a bit of a double play on that last word. We included Summer because she has a warm sunny spirit. And I wanted her call name included because she came to us with that, so including Sasha gave us a bridge between her past and present.

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We have bestselling author Susan Conant to thank for guiding us through the PAL application process. Susan has a Sheltie of her own, and I’m grateful for her generosity in sharing her expertise. Many of you will recognize her as the author of the Dog Lover’s Mystery Series. (Want to catch up? I’ve previously featured Susan here on this site with a follow-up post here.)

Susan, who is a seven-time winner of the Dog Writers Association of America’s prestigious Maxwell Medallion for excellence, is also the co-author of The Gourmet Girl Mysteries which has earned high praise. Here’s a sampling:

“The authors serve up another delectable dish of detection.” —Publishers Weekly

“Packed with delicious recipes . . . the Gourmet Girl Mysteries have quickly become one of my favorite culinary mystery series.”  —Roundtable Reviews

“Famous writer of mysteries involving cats and dogs, Susan Conant teams up with her daughter to write a refreshingly charming chick-lit mystery. . . . There’s no doubt about it—this is the start of a great new series.” —Midwest Book Review

 

This new-to-me series is a perfect fit for today, as Sasha loves to snooze after a good meal while I’m reading. We’ll round out the day’s celebration with backyard frolics and be safely indoors long before fireworks boom across the county again.

Happy birthday, sweet dog!

 

Dog Training and Time

Nancy Tanner and Friends

© Nancy Tanner

This week’s post comes to us courtesy of the exceptional writer and dog trainer Nancy Tanner. Check her website and you’ll see she’s the Founding Owner at Paws & People, the Scent Project, and The World Treibball League. Nancy is the recipient (twice) of the Dog Writers Association‘s prestigious Maxwell Medallion, with a total of eight impressive nominations to her credit. She generously allowed me to repost this blog entry in its entirety (thanks, Nancy!). Please note all photos and text are the exclusive property of Nancy Tanner.

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the misunderstanding of time

nancy Tanner dog 1 photo

When I am asked what is the biggest problem I see in dog training today, it is the same problem I saw  fourteen years ago, and thirty years ago, it is the misunderstanding of time.

Nancy Tanner dog 2 photo

It takes time to learn how to be a teacher to another species.
It takes time to learn how to learn from another species.
It takes time to build understanding.
It takes time to learn how to observe and how to apply what you observe.
It takes time to build a relationship with trust.
It takes time to get to know one another.
It takes time teach.
It takes an enormous amount of time to build skill on both ends of the leash.
It takes time to learn.
It take time to learn about humility.
It takes time to learn how to work together.
It takes time to learn about the things in training you don’t even know that you don’t know yet.
It takes time to learn about your own short comings.
It takes time to forgive your own short comings and learn how to move on with your dog.
It takes a life time to practice compassion.
It takes time, all of it.
Nancy Tanner dog 3 photo
You cannot rush a relationship.
You cannot rush the teaching or learning process, on either end of the leash.
You cannot rush maturity or the lack there of.
You cannot rush your skills, or your dogs understanding of your skills.
My advice to new dog owners, seasoned dog owners, and want to be dog owners – learn how to settle in, learn that nothing will happen over night. Learn that if you try to take short cuts and try to make it all happen to fit your schedule, or your desires, or your needs, it will come back to bite you in the ass, figuratively or literally.
                                                                                                 ~ Nancy
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If you’re interested in sharing Nancy’s post via your own site or other social media, see the copyright notice on her site for details. And while you’re there, be sure to read more posts; she’s a terrific writer!

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!

The Writer’s Craft

fountain penEarlier this week, Susan Conant (seven-time winner of the Dog Writers Association of America’s prestigious Maxwell Award) came by to discuss her Dog Lover’s Mystery Series. Today, she’s back to talk about the writing process and changes in the publishing industry–something that impacts writers and readers alike. I hope you’ll leave a comment for Susan so we can enter you into the drawing for a gift copy of her new book,  Sire and DamnWe’ll announce the winner here Saturday, so check back!

Writing a long-running series takes talent, vision, and persistence. Susan introduced us to dog writer and dog trainer Holly Winter and her Alaskan Malamutes back in 1990. To my way of thinking, staying true to the heart of the series while allowing your characters to grow and change and learn takes a special kind of writer. Susan is that kind of writer, as evidenced by the enthusiastic reception each book in the series earns. Here’s what one fan has to say about Sire and Damnthe 20th in the series:

Susan CSire and Damnonant’s Dog Lover’s Mysteries are always a doggy good read, and this one is no exception. While the plot is strong enough for general readers, Sire and Damn (like all in this series) is a particular treat for Dog People (you know who you are!). There are plenty of laugh-out-loud moments, and it’s always such a relief to know someone truly *gets* what it’s like to be all dogs, all the time, even while solving murder mysteries.

Now here’s Susan, talking about the craft of writing:

What’s most important for you in telling a story?

My connection with my readers is everything. I want to lure in my readers so that they are lost in my story. In other words, what I’m after is hypnosis. Or seduction. I want to cast spells.

 There seems to be a trend to “push” the murder to the very front of the story. What’s your opinion of this expectation that we produce a body by chapter 3?  

Incredibly, there are still editors who will demand a rewrite unless the murder happens at the beginning of a book. Some editors, I suspect, assume that the writer is unfamiliar with a hackneyed formula that the writer is, in fact, eager to avoid. The formula: The murder occurs. As the saying goes, nobody cares about the corpse; the investigation is everything. The detective, amateur or professional, interviews suspects, collects evidence, and discovers that the murder was committed in some bizarre fashion, often by the least likely suspect. It’s a formula to be avoided unless your aim is to cure the reader’s insomnia.

The publishing industry has changed significantly since your first book. How have those changes impacted you and your series?

Hurrah! I am free! No more deadlines ever again! No more trying to be polite about cover art I hate! No more grinding my teeth about prices I think are too high!

I have just self-published my twentieth Dog Lover’s Mystery, Sire and Damn. I chose my own editor, Jim Thomsen, and my own proofreader, Christina Tinling. Jovana Shirley did the formatting. The gifted Terry Albert did the Kindle cover and the cover for the trade paperback. I love working with the people I chose, people who have become my friends.

Will the entire series be available in Kindle/ebook editions? 

Yes. But not immediately.

Some visitors to this site are aspiring mystery writers. Suggestions for them?

Many years ago when my daughter and I were on a panel together at a mystery convention, I blurted out advice to aspiring mystery writers. In saying exactly what I really thought, I managed to annoy and offend some established writers, one of whom took me to task in public. My daughter calls this little event the Foot in Mouth Episode. The experience has left me wary of offering advice to aspiring mystery writers. Advice is usually wasted, anyway; the people who need it seldom take it.

That being said:

Write the kind of book you like to read. Never mind whether anyone else will like it! What’s certain is that if you don’t like it, no one else will, either.

Edit your work. Delete anything that bores you; if you don’t want to read a sentence, a paragraph, or a whole chapter, no one else will, either. Ditch it.

Look up everything. Use Merriam-Webster. Subscribe to the online Chicago Manual of StyleCultivate pride of craft.

If you intend to self-publish, hire an experienced professional editor. Hire a professional proofreader. Have the book professionally formatted. Hire a professional to prepare the cover. A great many self-published books are amateur junk. They drag all of us down. Please help to lift us up!

Finally—Foot in Mouth, Part 2?—if you have struggled and struggled to write a mystery novel but can’t sense the living presence of the characters, can’t hear them speak, have no idea what happens next, and feel no driving compulsion to tell a story, stop! Consider the possibility that you weren’t born to write mysteries. Go back to reading mysteries. Write nonfiction. Run marathons. Study Mandarin. Grant yourself peace.

Thanks, Susan! 

Okay, readers and fans: it’s your turn! Leave a comment here, or drop by Susan’s Facebook page, or you can leave a comment on my own Facebook page. If you’ve read the series, let us know if you have a favorite. You’re welcome to ask questions, too! We’ll enter your name in a drawing for a Kindle edition of Sire and Damn to be sent to you (or the gift recipient of your choice). The winner’s name will be posted on Saturday, so be sure to check back.

Much to Celebrate…

The Dog Writers Association of America’s annual awards banquet is fast approaching. One of the nominees is Sue Owens Wright, who’s garnered her 11th nomination for a Maxwell Award for her book Braced for Murder.  Congratulations, Sue!

Braced for Murder

Braced for Murder is the latest in the Beanie and Cruiser mystery series. If you enjoy mysteries with a regional flair (this one’s set around Lake Tahoe) and love Basset Hounds, this is a great book for you!  You can read an excerpt of the book and learn more about the series here.

And speaking of the Dog Writers Association of America, I’m honored to announce I’m now a member of that wonderful organization. Many thanks to my writing colleagues and friends who sponsored me, including Tracy Weber and Amy Shojai. Sue, Tracy, and Amy are all terrific writers who are passionate about dogs, so be sure to check out their websites!