Writing Solo? By Daryl Wood Gerber

Hi all! Liz here, excited to welcome back our good friend Daryl Wood Gerber, who has some fun giveaways today! Take it away, Daryl!

By Daryl Wood Gerber

Writing can be a very lonely venture. You have no one to talk to except yourself  (which some consider a little bit crazy)

Or your characters (which a vast majority considers bordering on nuts)  

Sparky1Or you might have a faithful companion. I have Sparky. He is the joy of my life. He loves coming into my office and simply “being there” to support me. He sits calmly on his pillow and rouses occasionally for a pet. He gazes at me soulfully whenever I introduce him on a live chat on Facebook. He stares at me scornfully if I ask to take yet another picture to post on Facebook.  LOL

If I need to lie on the floor to gather my thoughts (I think well with my eyes closed – it is not a nap!), Sparky “allows” me to pet him. That stroking motion really helps clear my head. Sparky3

If I need to pace the floor to come up with an idea, he follows me. Oy! I have to be extremely careful not to make a sudden turn. He’s so quiet, he could be my shadow. I have tripped at least a dozen times because of him. I’m really glad I never hit my head on a counter top. (Ooh, idea for a murder method.)

But I digress…

If I need to take a long walk to think, Sparky is always up for it. “Snap on that leash, Mom. Let’s go!” He doesn’t even mind if I bring along my cell phone and tape conversations that I want to insert in the book. I’m pretty sure he thinks I’m talking to him. Isn’t life all about him?

S2If I need to take a break and read someone else’s book, this is possibly his happiest moment of the day. We settle on the patio and he gets a treat and we listen to the sounds of nature, while I drink in the talent of another author.

Writing solo? Nope. Not I. I’ve got a writing partner. And the best thing is he thinks all my ideas are great.  (Hmm, must reconsider this last point.  It’s not good to have someone who thinks “all” your ideas are great. An author needs a constructive critic.)

Note to self: Get Sparky reading lessons and teach him to speak his mind.

Do you have a two- or four-footed pet that fills your days with love?

Daryl is offering a choice of any one of her books to one commenter.  Winner announced Friday! 

Daryl’s latest book, A DEADLY ÉCLAIR, the first in the French Bistro Mysteries, debuts November 7.

Here’s a sneak peek: 

Mimi Rousseau is throwing the bistro’s first wedding—the nuptials of a famous talk show host. She is sure things will go awry when the bride’s father shows up drunk to the out-of-towners’ dinner. By the end of the evening, things look sweet again…until the next morning, when her benefactor is found dead at the bistro with an éclair stuffed in his mouth. All fingers point at Mimi, whose loan is forgiven if he dies. It’s up to her to éclair—er, clear—her name before the killer turns up the heat.

DeadlyEclair


BIO:
Agatha Award-winning Daryl Wood Gerber writes the brand new French Bistro Mysteries as well as the nationally bestselling Cookbook Nook Mysteries.  As Avery Aames, she pens the popular Cheese Shop Mysteries. A DEADLY ÊCLAIR, the first French Bistro Mystery, comes out November 2017. Daryl also writes stand-alone suspense: DAY OF SECRETS and GIRL ON THE RUN. Fun tidbit: as an actress, Daryl appeared in “Murder, She Wrote.” She loves to cook, and she has a frisky Goldendoodle named Sparky who keeps her in line!

http://www.darylwoodgerber.com
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http://www.mysteryloverskitchen.com
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NEWSLETTER: http://darylwoodgerber.com/contact.php#mailing-list

 

A Dog’s Life

By Liz, looking forward to a beach day or two this weekend!

I’m a huge Mary Oliver fan – have been since I read her poem “The Journey” years ago. I recently picked up her book Dog Songs, a collection celebrating her various pups and the bond she shares with them. The poems are sweet, simple, and moving, and wonderfully capture the essence of the beautiful canine soul. She and her dogs clearly love the beach – it’s mentioned in many of the pieces, like “School,” where her dog Percy wants to roll in a dead fish on the sand. She justifies this with, “It’s summer. How many summers does a little dog have?…This is our school.” Which led me to reflect on my own pups and their many adventures. Having celebrated Shaggy’s “Gotcha Day” in July and preparing for her 8th birthday in September, it seemed fitting to do a tribute to her and her brothers. So here’s a chronicle of their lives, their summers, and their own schooling. Enjoy.

 

Shaggy's death row photo, 2009

Shaggy’s death row photo, South Carolina 2009, age 10 months

Her car ride home after her rescue

Her car ride home after her rescue

Finny at the farm after his rescue from South Carolina, age 1.

Finny at the farm after his rescue from South Carolina, age 1o months.

Giving Petey a bath after he arrived from the same South Carolina shelter as Shaggy

Giving Petey a bath after he arrived from the same South Carolina shelter as Shaggy

Her first toy

Her first toy

A bench break during a walk on the town green

A bench break during a walk on the town green

Petey, not long after his S.C. rescue

Petey, not long after his S.C. rescue

Enjoying a car ride

Enjoying a car ride

Petey rolling

Petey rolling

Owning the green

Owning the green

My calendar contest winning pic for Red Rover

My calendar contest winning pic for Red Rover

 

Waiting patiently for someone to throw me the ball.

Waiting patiently for someone to throw me the ball.

Celebrating her graduation from Canine Good Citizen class, 2015

Celebrating her graduation from Canine Good Citizen class, 2015

Hugs

Hugs

Loving summer on the deck!

Loving summer on the deck!

Rolling

Rolling

Her favorite rock

Shaggy’s favorite rock

At the beach

Got the beach all to ourselves

The gang

The gang

Sleepy Shaggy

I’m so tired I could sleep right on the floor.

Not sure I like this winter thing, Mom...

Not sure I like this winter thing, Mom…

I like the summer way better!

I like the summer way better!

Just chillin

Just chillin

Height!

Height!

Pretending to be a cat

Pretending to be a cat

Heading out on a boat ride

Heading out on a boat ride

I love mud!

I love mud!

On my swing

On my swing

Love

Love

Favorite bedtime position

Favorite bedtime position

Readers, share stories of your favorite dogs in the comments!

Carolyn Mulford – Going to the Dog

Hi! Liz here, and today I’m welcoming the lovely Carolyn Mulford to the blog. Carolyn is another writer I’ve known from the beginning of my time in the mystery community, and I’m delighted to see this fabulous series getting such great attention. (You can read the first chapter of each of the books on her website.)Today she’s talking about one of my favorite topics: Dogs in books. Carolyn, take it away!

Carolyn MulfordI’m a planner. When I wrote Show Me the Murder (Five Star, 2013), I spent a lot of time developing three contrasting major characters: Phoenix, a wounded former CIA operative who returns to her Missouri hometown; Annalynn, a civic leader whose husband just died in a sleazy motel; and Connie, a struggling singer/music teacher.

I didn’t plan a fourth character, a Belgian Malinois called Achilles. He arrived on my screen as a plot point, the only witness to a crime. Phoenix finds him shot, starved, and tied to a tree. She identifies with him, saying, “Some of us don’t die so easily.” By the end of the book, she is his human for the series.

9780373269495_DIR SMTM coverAchilles poses some challenges to me as a writer. One is revealing his personality when he can’t talk and comes with no bio except being a DEA K-9 dropout. No big deal. He can’t tell, but he can show. For example, when Phoenix leaves him alone, he howls until she comes back. When she takes him into the backyard, he protects the hummingbirds from cats skulking at the feeders. When he meets Connie, he offers a paw for her to shake.

In each book, he—like the other characters—reveals more of himself. In Show Me the Deadly Deer (Five Star, 2013), he refuses to get out of the car when rambunctious four-year-old twins want to play with him. Later, when the children face a tragedy, he allows them to maul him with affection. In Show Me the Gold (Five Star, 2014), he barks a reproof when Phoenix raises her voice to Annalynn. Show Me the Gold

A persistent challenge is giving Achilles bits of action so readers knew what he’s doing. Is he sticking by Phoenix’s side, sniffing around, standing by the car to tell her he wants to go home?

Having Achilles as a major character also offers some unanticipated advantages. He exposes the softer side of the tough, cynical Phoenix. His nose and intelligence contribute to every investigation. In Show Me the Deadly Deer, he indicates that the murder didn’t take place where Phoenix found the body. In Show Me the Gold, he warns her of a booby trap. She soon learns to use him to disarm innocents, terrify bad guys, and back her up.

He also delights readers. At every book signing, someone says, “I love your dog.”

So do I.

Carolyn Mulford worked as the editor of national and international magazines and a freelancer before writing the award-winning Show Me mystery series. Harlequin Worldwide Mystery released a paperback edition of the first, Show Me the Murder, in June. Five Star will issue the fourth, Show Me the Ashes, in hardcover in December.

Carolyn, I can definitely relate to the dog-taking-over-as-a-character syndrome! Readers, what about you? Fave dogs or cats that make a series even better?

Dog Heros

By Liz, on vacation from the day job this week and loving the freedom!

IMG_8704I knew sooner or later Shaggy would start getting invited to do events, and I would be optional. (No, I’m not jealous at all! I know she’s much cuter.) Anyway, we were delighted when the lovely Kim Mather at the Guilford Smith Memorial Library here in South Windham invited Shaggy to be a reading dog this summer.

Of course, Shaggy jumped at the chance. She loves attention, and especially loves being the star of the show. So last week, she got to go to her very first solo event as the library’s “Dog Hero.”

Shaggy the hero dog.

If we weren’t excited already, being billed as a hero made the event that much better. Shaggy was thrilled with the title, as she’s worked very hard taking classes and has a goal of being an official therapy dog. She’s already visited hospitals, nursing homes and schools and brought smiles to a lot of faces with her sweet personality. And to have the library recognize the important role dogs play in the community is huge.

The craft table while kids waited their turns to read.

The craft table while kids waited their turns to read.

That got us thinking about all the hero dogs out in the world. There are so many of them, from police K-9s, to military dogs, to members of a family who do something extraordinary. We read about them all the time – the pup who alerted its family to a fire and saved everyone, or the dog who rescued a human sister or brother from an attacking animal. We loved the recent story about the dogs who saved each other’s lives when they were spotted in a shelter hugging each other and were promptly rescued. The stories are everywhere.

Green Eggs and Ham

Reading Green Eggs and Ham.

I’ve wanted Shaggy to be a therapy dog for a while, but never more than after the Newtown tragedy. The dogs who helped the community heal are true heroes, and they brought a level of comfort that sometimes can’t be reached even with a human counselor or therapist. Seeing the smiles Shaggy can bring to people’s faces just entering a room makes me feel good – and I know it makes her happy. She’s bringing good to the world just by being here.

So kudos to my local library for recognizing dog heroes like Shaggy. And hats off to all of you dog heroes out there. Keep up the good work.

Readers, do you have a dog hero in your life?

Wicked Wednesday–Pets

On Wicked Wednesdays we will all chime in on an answer to a question. Feel free to respond in the comments!

Are you a pet person?

Lily

Lily

Sherry:  We didn’t have pets growing up, unless you count a few goldfish and a turtle or two when we were very young. As an adult a couple of cats wandered in and out of my life, Snoopy the white Persian and Lucy, a beautiful, grey and white cat, that moved from neighbor to neighbor. Seven years ago we got Lily, our West Highland Terrier. I was always afraid of dogs growing up. But Lily has changed my outlook on dogs, when you look into the eyes of a dog you always see a soul.

Jessie: For me, it depends a great deal on the pet. I love birds. An African Grey parrot named Miss Kim was a part of my family for many years. Even though she’s been gone more than 5 years, I still find myself calling out goodbye to her almost every time I leave the house. Now I have a fish tank in my office with a black moor named Bulge and a mystery snail named Highsmith. I am allergic to most dogs and worry about a cat getting run over in the street so we have neither of those. I plan to convince my husband we need a worm compositor. Do those count as pets?

Barb: I grew up with a family dog, a medium-sized mutt named Tiger who followed my father home from the park when I was in kindergarten. She lived until I was a senior in college, so played a huge part in my childhood.

jessieWhen my kids were six and three, my sister-in-law gave us a golden retriever puppy as a gift. My husband was off working on a presidential campaign and I was essentially a single mother that year. I was furious, but what are you going to do when your kids are absolutely in love? When my sister-in-law got older and had kids and pets of her own, she apologized about a million times to me. But my kids got to grow up with a dog, just as I had, so it all worked out.

mackenzieThe golden retriever, Jessie, died when my daughter was in middle school and my son a junior in high school. I was adamant about not getting another dog, but inevitably I caved and an eight rescue month-old cocker spaniel, MacKenzie became part of our household. Of course, everything I predicted came true. The kids went off to college. My husband and I were left running home from work to walk the dog. And still I wouldn’t have traded the experience for anything.

Now I have only a grand-dog, Fiver, and that’s enough for me!

Julie: I have had cats in my life since I was about five. But there has only been one dog, a wonderful golden retriever named Geoff. Never anything more exotic than that, though I brought hamsters and guinea pigs home from school for the weekend a few times. My mother never warmed to them.

Edith: As I descried in my post on Monday, I currently have three cats. But I barely had pets growing up. Once we had two kitties, Punkie and Blondie, but the story went that one ran away and the other died of cat fever. We had fish for a few years and I learned all neon tetraabout neon tetras. But that was it. I think my father was allergic, and my mother had her hands full raising four children all less than two years apart.

As an adult I had a housemate with a golden retriever once and watched her do a really nice job training him, but that’s the extent of my dog experience, although Sherry’s Lily is a very sweet dog, as is Liz’s Shaggy. Jessie, a worm farm would count as hundreds of pets! But I doubt you could identify them clearly enough to name them.

FinnyLiz: I always loved animals, but my experience with them as a kid was limited. My parents weren’t really pet people. I had some fish, and used to try to take them everywhere with me. As a result, I ended up accidentally pouring them into the toilet. The next batch was, um, slightly overfed. I think that was the end of the fish. I remember getting a dog when I was about five, and then my parents took it back to a shelter shortly thereafter. I don’t remember the details, but remember being really sad about it. We got another dog when I   was sixteen, and he lived with my family until he passed away at eleven.  

Ric0

So of course when I moved out on my own, I had to have pets. I had never had cats before, and quickly adopted two of them. Then, one day a few years later, my mother found a litter of kittens on the side of the road. I found homes for two of them, and kept the other two. A year later, I began volunteering at a shelter and, well, the rest is history. Three dogs and too many cats later, I wouldn’t trade them for the world. But if I could make them get jobs, I totally would.

What about our readers? Are you pet people?