Category Archives: Furbaby Friday

Furbaby Friday with T. Strange!


A warm welcome to T. Strange who joins us to share her touching dog adoption and her light New Adult romance,  My Zombie Boyfriend.

T. Strange: Let me start by saying—I’m not a dog person. I am a happily catted cat person. That being said, here’s the story of how a dog got me.

My wife and I both struggle with depression, and three years ago she had a major mental health crisis and she’s still fighting to find her way back to having more good days than bad. For a while she was extremely agoraphobic on top of the depression and anxiety, but she really wanted to move past that and be able to go out on her own. She suggested that we try fostering dogs, because the dog would need to go out for walks every day and give her something to do. I’ll admit, I was reluctant (see above re: cat person) but I could definitely see this helping her so of course I wanted to be supportive.

We received our first dog. And then three dogs at once (we almost kept one of those, but he wasn’t quite right. But we still dog-sit for him sometimes!). And more and more dogs until they all blended together. And they did help! Just as my wife had suspected, the dogs helped her get outside, without me, and able to start being more independent again.

I was already in bed when our eventual foster fail arrived. It was after midnight, and my wife brought him home and put him in bed next to me. He immediately curled up against my side, and I’ll admit, I was touched. Most of them weren’t that cuddly right away. Sometimes ever.  Ok, we thought. Friendly dog.

The next day we took Friendly Dog for a walk, and it quickly became apparent that no, he was actually Scaredy Dog. He was terrified of everything and everyone, and we were so confused—where was the cuddly, trusting dog we’d met at home? As soon as we got home, there was Friendly Dog again. Houston, we have a problem. This dog has bonded with us.

Even then, I think all three of us knew it was inevitable, but the two humans tried to be in denial. We weren’t looking for a permanent dog. We were only keeping him until he got adopted. Which became, if he’s not adopted in a month…it’s fate and we’re keeping him.

It didn’t help that he was the perfect dog for our home. Low-energy, cat-avoiding, affectionate. Pleasantly dumb. Food motivated and eager to please. He fit right in.

We were still waffling when I got a text at work from my wife.

I’m at a street festival. An old man saw the dog and said he looked just like his old dog. I told him the dog is adoptable, but he just looked me in the eye and said, No. You’re going to keep this dog.

I had goosebumps. I wasn’t foolish enough to ignore a message that clear. I guess we have a dog, I texted back.

(PS: After a long, long hunt for the right name, my wife came up with Ouija. His collar tag is a planchette)

About My Zombie Boyfriend (The Undead Canadian Series): Reverting to my true nature—and because I began the series before there were any dogs in my life—My Zombie Boyfriend is dog-free, but has two cats, Boo and Winston. Boo is, as the blurb mentioned, Edward’s cat and the first zombie he ever reanimated. He’s…pretty gross, but Edward loves him with all his heart. (Kit secretly feels the same). Edward buys Winston for Kit for Christmas. Everyone loves Winston—but not as much as Kit. Winston is a blue British Shorthair and just the sweetest little dumpling of a kitten.

Blurb for My Zombie Boyfriend

Edward Grey is a medical student by day, necromancer by night. He lives alone with the first zombie he ever raised, his childhood cat, Boo. Edward’s life is simple: studying medicine, training his necromantic powers with his mentor, Mariel, and having weekly dinners with his parents. When he finds a very attractive corpse in a park and brings it home to reanimate, he creates a sassy, free-willed zombie who believes Edward is the one who murdered him.

With no memory of his former life, Edward names the zombie Kit and tries to win his trust. Kit slowly adjusts to his new un-life with Edward’s help, though he’s still suspicious of Edward’s role in his death and is convinced that Edward is hiding his former identity. Edward is very attracted to Kit, but understands why Kit doesn’t trust him. As they become closer to one another, Kit turns to Edward for comfort and love. The fragile trust they’ve built together will be tested when Kit unexpectedly regains his memory and seeks revenge on his murderers.

Excerpt:

I started wearing more Kit-like clothes, and recombining the clothes I usually wore in new, Kit-like ways. Our clothing wasn’t all that different, though Kit’s tended to be tighter, more colourful, and patterned. And with designer labels, of course.

I wanted him to notice me.

I wanted him to know that I cared about him, about what he thought, even if I couldn’t actually say it out loud.

“Kit? I need to shower. Like, now.” One of the ‘patients’ I had done a practice diagnosis on had been doing some very realistic coughing and I felt…germy. I had called out for Kit as I got in, but only Winston and Boo greeted me. Boo had taken up residence at the very top of the absurdly tall cat tree. His eyes would catch the light at the creepiest possible moments, and he startled everyone in the house, including me. Kit had taken to telling Winston scary bedtime stories about the fiend-cat who dwelled in the mountain cave. These stories invariably left innocent Winston purring and me frowning. I’m very protective of Boo’s feelings.

Boo was in his cave now, and he stuck his head out of the little shelter, giving one of his idiosyncratic yowls.

Winston was perched, as usual, on the lowest platform, curled into a snug little dumpling.

I felt a little guilty for only scratching the kitten and not Boo, but I told Boo I couldn’t reach him. And I didn’t trust him not to bite or scratch me. He seemed to be in one of those moods.

Winston purred at me briefly, then yawned and stretched. It’s ridiculous how cute he is.

There was still no sign of Kit, and I thought that he must be out or working or something. I could never keep track of his schedule, even on the rare occasions he remembered to give it to me.

I was heartily enjoying my decontaminating shower when I heard the bathroom door open.

“Boo, one of these days I’m going to figure out how you do that and I’m going to stop you.” I didn’t bother turning around. I hadn’t heard the massive, wall-rattling thud that signalled Boo crashing down from his lair—he eschewed using the intervening platforms, apparently deciding they were for mere mortal cats. Instead, he performed a death-defying leap straight to the floor, a nearly nine-foot drop—but then, I hadn’t been paying particular attention and might easily have missed the sound with the shower running.

It wasn’t until the shower stall door opened that I revised my theory. I’ve needed to give Boo enough rinses over the years for him to know exactly what goes on in the shower, and how little he wants to do with it. Now that he didn’t need to drink, he had achieved that perfect state of catdom: he could completely avoid water in all its forms, at all times, unless I intervened. I could think of no reason for him to want in the shower, even if he could open the door, especially with the water running.

I was still turning to see what was going on, almost afraid to look after countless horror movie shower scenes, when I felt chilly hands on my waist.

I shrieked and grabbed the nearest available weapon, which happened to be a bottle of shampoo, and, half-blinded by the steam and water, I brandished it at the intruder. Unfortunately, I had upset my shower caddy when I removed the shampoo, and a bottle of liquid soap landed on my toe, making me slightly less threatening than your ordinary wet, naked man clutching a bottle of anti-dandruff shampoo.

It was Kit, of course.

“I’m cold,” he said, and I felt a shiver run down my spine. I had already been thinking of scary movies, and that line had certainly been in enough of them.

“You are cold!” He was naked, and I forgot to ask why he’d joined my shower instead of having his own. “Do you feel it?”

He shook his head, looking a little forlorn. “No, I was out walking and I forgot my coat. The cold didn’t bother me—it’s snowing, by the way—but people started giving me strange looks. The snow wasn’t melting on me.”

Oh. That would be unsettling. Kit could feel sensation, he assured me, but he said that everything felt strangely distant, as though he’d been sitting still too long and his whole body had fallen asleep. He also tended to be around ambient temperature, though he seemed to hold heat and cold a little longer than an inanimate object of his relative size, shape and density. He had, by the way, flatly refused to experiment, but those were my observations.

About the Author: Strange didn’t want to learn how to read, but literacy prevailed and she hasn’t stopped reading—or writing—since. She’s been published since 2013, and she writes M/M romance in multiple genres, including paranormal and BDSM. T.’s other interests include cross stitching, gardening, watching terrible horror movies, playing video games, and finding injured pigeons to rescue. Originally from White Rock, BC, she lives on the Canadian prairies, where she shares her home with her wife, cats, guinea pigs and other creatures of all shapes and sizes. She’s very easy to bribe with free food and drinks—especially wine.

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Furbaby Friday with Kelley Heckart!


A warm welcome to Kelley Heckart. I’m glad to have Kelley here to share her special furbaby and contemporary paranormal romance, Awakening.

Kelley Heckart: Loki

I’ve loved a few dogs in my life, and each one was special. Loki came to me a little late in his life, age seven, unlike my other dogs that I raised from puppies. He also came to me a bit damaged. I knew about him because he belonged to my niece. He was the “problem” and “high maintenance” dog in the family. I didn’t believe it. He was so small and cute. How could he have such a bad reputation?

The first time he stayed with me and my husband he marked almost the entire house. I’m not kidding. I won’t lie, I was ready to send him back to his home. Something happened, though. Despite his “marking” issue, he was a great dog—mellow for a Chihuahua, and he got along with my old chi-weenie, Hercules, now deceased, a dog that hated all other dogs.

So, when my niece asked me to watch Loki again, I agreed. This time, his “marking” issue was better, and the little guy was growing on me. I can’t explain it, but I saw something in him. He fit into our household routine, he seemed happy at our home, and, most importantly, he respected my older dog’s place in the family.

My niece didn’t come and pick Loki up after she returned from her trip. A week passed, and then another. She knew he was in good hands, and I think she was waiting for me to bring him home, but I decided that if she didn’t come get him, it was a sign he was supposed to stay with us. Being a single mother with a full-time job, she really didn’t have time to care for Loki. If you ask her, my niece will probably say I stole him. Ha ha. Seriously though, he needs to be in a house without children and with someone who is home most of the time, which I am.

The longer he stayed with us, the better behaved he became. I’m able to give him the extra attention he requires. All it took was some love, perseverance, and patience to break his “marking” habit.

He had a different name when I officially adopted him, but I wanted to change it to give him a new start. It took me a while to think of a good name. One day, I set the kitchen trash bag by the back door. A couple of hours later, I picked it up to take outside, and there was a tiny chew hole in the bottom. One of my dogs had done it, and I knew it wasn’t my old chi-weenie. That’s how Loki was named after a Norse trickster god. My husband says he also “tricked” me into adopting him.

He’s been with us for four years now, and he’s turned into a great dog. Sure, he’s a little stubborn and very vocal and adamant when it’s time to go for a walk or eat, but he keeps me on a schedule and forces me to exercise.

He’s got some funny quirks.

He’s afraid of Facebook and cell phone notification sounds, and he’s also afraid of Alexa, but a leaf blower or a super loud phone ring doesn’t frighten him.

He doesn’t like to snuggle, but he always must be able to see me. When my husband and I took him on a trip once, Loki freaked out when I got out of the car to use the restroom. He made a sound like a stuck pig. There was a black lab sitting nearby, and he gave Loki the strangest look. My husband quickly shut the car door so as not to attract too much attention.

Loki gets annoyed when I force him to take selfies, which I do all the time.

True to his Chihuahua nature, he is a little neurotic. He especially gets upset when I go off schedule and leave the house at a time that isn’t part of my regular routine.

He hates children, but children love him, and he’s surprisingly tolerant.

Regardless of his weird quirks, I wouldn’t part from him for anything.

Things he loves:

Cheese. He can hear a cheese wrapper being opened behind a closed door.

He loves to lay outside and warm himself in the sun and watch the birds.

He loves to terrorize the chipmunks.

He loves going for walks every morning. Very early, of course. LOL

Dogs enrich our lives in so many ways. They keep us company, give us unconditional love, force us to get up and go for walks, and they entertain us, too. I’m much healthier in mind and body by having a dog by my side. Despite a rough start with Loki, I’m glad I didn’t give up on him.

My latest release, a contemporary paranormal romance, is inspired by my time as a rock-and-roll bassist. The first book is Kate’s story.

Supernatural meets Rock Star in this exciting new series. More than passion ignites when Kate, rock star/scriptwriter, is trapped in a haunted cabin with the hot Scottish actor playing her hero.

Series blurb:

The five young women of Hecate’s Fury are more than rock stars.

They are Shadow-walkers, chosen to help the supernatural world.

There’s just one problem—no one trained them.

Buy links: Kindle: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07H1P9242

https://www.kelleyheckart.com/shadowwalkers.html

Excerpt:

Normally, I didn’t eat much in the morning, but the blueberry muffins tempted me. I even found some hot cocoa. Once I’d prepared my breakfast, I sat at the oak table near the kitchen window, chose the seat facing the view, and became entranced by the beautiful forest scene outside. The rising sun cast golden hues across dew-kissed pines that sparkled among the amber oak leaves. The serene atmosphere embraced me, and I closed my eyes, savoring my hot cocoa.

“Bloody hell. Why is the coffee maker empty?”

I flung my eyes open and jumped at the deep male voice, dribbling hot cocoa down my chin. After twisting in my seat, I widened my gaze.

Kane Devlin stood in the kitchen. His tousled brown hair framed his handsome face and curled in perfect, delectable collar-grazing waves. His designer clothes were unwrinkled and also perfect. He looked like he’d showered and dressed for a photo shoot and not just woke up or crawled in after a night of little sleep.

And he was glaring at me. “Did you hear me?”

His slight Scottish burr had taken me aback. Usually he affected an American accent in his movies.

I slowly nodded, very aware I must look like a mess and swiped a napkin over my hot cocoa-streaked chin. “I, uh, what about the coffee maker?”

“I expect coffee in the morning. Britany knows this. My P.A. should know this. That’s you, right?”

“P.A.?”

He leaned on the granite island, his thick muscles straining beneath his long-sleeved shirt. “Are you daft, lass? You are the P.A. Britany sent to fill in for David, right?”

“No.”

“No, you’re not daft or not the P.A.?” One side of his gorgeous mouth twisted into an amused grin.

I hardened my gaze. Okay, hot or not, he was being an ass. “No to both.”

He tilted his head. “Who are you then?”

“Kaitlyn Storm.”

“The author?” He lifted his brows, curiosity lighting his blue-green eyes.

“Yes.” I suddenly wished I had showered and dressed before coming down to the kitchen. Or at least combed my hair.

His keen, assessing gaze roamed my face and body. “Hmm. You look different from your picture.”

Heat crept up my cheeks, and I wanted to crawl under the table. Yeah, I just rolled out of bed.

“Old photo,” I mumbled.

He slanted his head, brow furrowed. “You are much too pretty to be a writer, and that picture doesn’t do you justice.”

My cheeks grew even hotter.

He pointed to the coffee maker. “So, why is it empty?”

I frowned. “Because I don’t drink coffee.”

Studying the coffee maker, he scratched his stubbly chin. “Well, maybe you know how this thing works.”

“It can’t be that difficult.” I pushed my chair back, stood, brushed past him, retrieved a measuring cup and then filled the coffee maker reservoir with water. Ignoring his presence as best I could, I found the coffee and filters in one of the pantries.

From behind me, he said, “You should be a P.A.” His words were tinged with mirth.

“And you should try not to be such an ass.” I turned and pursed my lips.

Amused laughter rumbled from him. “I like you, Katie.”

I bristled. No one ever called me that. In fact I hated that nickname, but it did sound pleasing the way Kane said it with his slight Scottish accent.

 

Kelley Heckart

Otherworldly tales steeped in myth, magic & romance.

http://twitter.com/CelticChick

https://www.facebook.com/kelleyheckartauthor

http://www.goodreads.com/kheckart

www.amazon.com/author/kelleyheckart

Multi-published author Kelley Heckart lives in Arizona with her musician husband, dog, and a number of backyard “pets.” Her stories reflect her passion for ancient and medieval time periods, storytelling and the supernatural. Inspired by the ancient Celts, her tales are filled with fierce warriors, bold women, otherworldly creatures, magic, and romance. When not writing, she works as a freelance editor, practices target archery, and writes and records music with her husband. She can be found online at http://www.kelleyheckart.com/

***Thanks for stopping by. Please leave Kelley a message.

Furbaby Friday with Rachel Brimble!


I’m happy to welcome Rachel Brimble here to share her wonderful labs and historical romance, The Mistress of Pennington’s.

Rachel: Tyler The Dog

Being a writer/novelist can, at times, be a lonely existence and I think that’s why so many of us have pets. For me, a canine companion is vital to my physical and mental wellbeing, not to mention the emotional.

When I lost my beloved black Lab, Max in February 2015, I fell head first into a dark abyss that I had no wish to revisit by getting another dog. For months, I wandered around feeling as though my life would never be the same again. Max was my constant companion, friend and champion. Never a day went by when he wouldn’t make me laugh or comfort me in some way.

It wasn’t until the end of the following May that someone on Facebook asked me if I’d had a look at the Borrow My Doggy website. What on earth? I’d never heard of it. Anyway, long story short, this is a site where dog owners ‘loan’ out their pets for walks, weekends or holidays.

The first picture I saw was of a six-month old chocolate Labrador whose owner had just been diagnosed with Parkinson’s and needed a helping hand. The rest, as they say, is history. By the following January, I had adopted Tyler and he came to live with us. His original owner still regularly sees him, and the arrangement is perfect for us both.

Nowadays, Tyler is no less of a companion or beloved to me than Max. He is constantly at my feet, making me laugh and getting up to mischief as only a Labrador can! Of course, I know there will come a day when my heart will be broken again, but the years of love, devotion and laughter make the pain worth it. Dogs are amazing and will undoubtedly remain a part of my life for as long as I am capable of caring for them.
Here’s to dogs and all they give their hoomans!

Rachel is an author of over 20 contemporary romances, romantic suspense and historical romance novels. Here latest release is THE MISTRESS OF PENNINGTON’S, which is the first book in her new Edwardian series. Book 2, A REBEL AT PENNINGTON’S will release in February 2019.

Blurb and buy links for The Mistress of Pennington’s:

1910 – A compelling tale of female empowerment in Bath’s leading department store. Perfect for the fans of the TV series Mr Selfridge and The Paradise.

Elizabeth Pennington should be the rightful heir of Bath’s premier department store through her enterprising schemes and dogged hard work. Her father, Edward Pennington, believes his daughter lacks the business acumen to run his empire and is resolute a man will succeed him.

Determined to break from her father’s iron-clad hold and prove she is worthy of inheriting the store, Elizabeth forms an unlikely alliance with ambitious and charismatic master glove-maker Joseph Carter. United they forge forward to bring Pennington’s into a new decade, embracing woman’s equality and progression whilst trying not to mix business and pleasure.

Can this dream team thwart Edward Pennington’s plans for the store? Or will Edward prove himself an unshakeable force who will ultimately ruin both Elizabeth and Joseph?

Buy Links:
Amazon UK: http://amzn.eu/2SvRcqp
Amazon US: http://a.co/3OFh9JK
Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-mistress-of-penningtons-rachel-brimble/1128920728?ean=9781788546508
Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/gb/en/ebook/the-mistress-of-pennington-s
Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Rachel_Brimble_The_Mistress_of_Pennington_s?id=dIFSDwAAQBAJ
Apple: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/the-mistress-of-penningtons/id1362129705?mt=11

Bio & Links:
Rachel lives with her husband and their two daughters in a small town near Bath in the UK. Since 2007, she has had several novels published by small US presses, eight books published by Harlequin Superromance (Templeton Cove Stories) and four Victorian romances with eKensington/Lyrical.

In January 2018, she signed a four-book deal with Aria Fiction for a new Edwardian series set in Bath’s finest department store. The first book, The Mistress of Pennington’s released July 2018.

Rachel is a member of the Romantic Novelists Association and Romance Writers of America, and was selected to mentor the Superromance finalist of So You Think You Can Write 2014 contest. When she isn’t writing, you’ll find Rachel with her head in a book or walking the beautiful English countryside with her family. Her dream place to live is Bourton-on-the-Water in South West England.
She likes nothing more than connecting and chatting with her readers and fellow romance writers. Rachel would love to hear from you!

Links:
Website
Blog
Twitter
Facebook
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/rachelbrimbleauthor/?hl=en
Amazon Author Page:
https://www.amazon.com/Rachel-Brimble/e/B007829ZRM/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1490948101&sr=8-1
Goodreads:
https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/1806411.Rachel_Brimble
Bookbub:
https://www.bookbub.com/authors/rachel-brimble

Thanks for stopping by. Please leave Rachel a comment.

Furbaby Friday With Viviana MacKade!


I’m glad to have Viviana here to share her dearly loved furbaby and romantic suspense, His Midnight Sun.

Viviana: The first time I met Macdudly I was disappointed in him, and he growled at me. You see, I’d driven those 4 hours to get a puppy and yes, the family I’d bought him from told me he was six months old already and still with them because he was slightly too big for his breed (he was a West Highland White Terrier). In my head, though, I was going to get a puppy, not this already big dog with a crappy disposition.

(Macdudly)

He threw up in the car on our way back home. My jacket didn’t survive it, and I knew I was going to have to re-buy everything I got for him because he was not puppy-small. He kept the crappy disposition.

And by the end of the day, we were deeply, crazily, foolishly in love.
Mac was, hands down, the smartest, more emphatic, sweet, and funny dog that had ever lived on this earth.

I had just been diagnosed with MS. The therapy I was doing back then hit me pretty hard on a weekly basis, and I was trying to wrap my head around the idea that, even if the reaction to the therapy would get better, that crap was going to be the rest of my life. Mac felt my moods, and he would do something silly to make me laugh before cuddling close and nuzzling at me.

I took him with me everywhere I went: camping, in the snow, pheasants hunting in the woods close to my home. Mac loved running in the snow but with his fur so long, he always ended up blinded by clusters of icy snow on his face, and I had to keep talking so he had my voice to follow.

When I moved to the UK, my mom drove from Italy to Norwich so Mac could be with me. We visited Merlin’s cave and celebrated New Years in Edinburgh, sleeping in the car because hotels were way too expensive on Hogmanay.

He loved frozen peas, couldn’t stand grooming, and was the happiest when he dug holes and chased small game. Once we were in the Grand Paradiso National Park and I swear, I pulled him out from a marmot’s burrow by his tail… He was so going to get the marmot, and get me in so much trouble with the Park Rangers!

He was, simply, the best.
We always said he looked like Sean Connery (picture). He really did.
I’m still not over him, not sure I ever will, so until my son will ask for a dog, I don’t feel like having one. Even when that moment comes, it will be my son’s dog, the family’s dog.
But me? I’m Mac’s.

Blurb for His Midnight Sun

Tormented, fierce, and broken, sculptor Aidan Murphy has judged himself guilty. He yearns for love but pushes everyone away. He longs for acceptance but has lost the key to open his heart. Until he meets Summer Williams. Beautiful and smart, Dr. Williams promises haven for a man who believes he deserves none. All he has to do is let her in and risk his heart and soul.

Summer’s managed to keep her inner light alive, even through tragedy. She’s created a new life for herself and her daughter in Crescent Creek with loving, caring and fun friends–well, except brooding, breathtaking Aidan. She’s used to keeping away from his type, though. All she has to do is ignore the pull of a man who’s turning up to be much more than snarls and storms. Will her compassion and medical instincts let her?
Love can heal a broken soul and shake up a timid heart. Or it can unleash devastation and revenge.
Will Aidan and Summer survive the hurricane?
5 Star Read

Buy Link
Amazon
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07GDP26VB?

https://goo.gl/L8okF6

About the Author:
Beach bum and country music addicted, Viviana lives in a small Floridian town with her husband and her son, her die-hard fans and personal cheer squad. She spends her days between typing on her beloved keyboard, playing in the pool with her boy, and eating whatever her husband puts on her plate (the guy is that good, and she really loves eating). Besides beaching, she enjoys long walks, horse-riding, hiking, and pretty much whatever she can do outside with her family.

Find Viviana:
On her website http://www.viviana-mackade.blog/
On FB
On Twitter
Amazon Author page

Thanks for stopping by. Please leave Viviana a comment.

Furbaby Friday with Neil Plakcy!


I’m glad to welcome Neil Plakcy to the blog to share his  beloved dogs and golden retriever mystery, In Dog We Trust.

Neil: The dog who inspired my golden retriever mysteries was our first golden, Sam, aka Jacoplax’s Samwise Gamgee. He had a huge personality, and just as with the fictional Samwise and Frodo, he became my constant companion.
When I met my partner, he had two dogs: Gus, a collie, and Charlie, a Yorkie. Soon after we moved in together, Gus crossed the rainbow bridge and we chose Sam to replace him. But Charlie had a huge personality, and he had already established that my partner was his human, so Sam bonded with me.

Trainers told us that a tired dog was a well-behaved dog, so I took Sam for forty-five minutes walks night and day around our gated community. We explored side streets and empty lots, and he often tugged me forward, in search of new and exciting smells. People would regularly stop us, either to comment on what a handsome dog he was, or to ask who was walking who.

He had a dozen personality quirks – he’d sit on the stairs, hiding his head, as if because he couldn’t see us, we couldn’t see him. He loved to hide under my bed, requiring one of us to get down on the floor and tug him out if we were ready to go out and wanted to confine him to the downstairs. He hated thunder and fireworks, he chewed pens and cell phones, and when I sat at my computer to write he curled himself around the back of my chair to keep me in place.

I loved him so much that I knew I had to write about him, and because I’d already written a number of mystery novels, I made him into a crime-sniffing dog with a knack for discovering dead bodies, and the ability to provide his human with a regular stream of clues.

The first book in the series, IN DOG WE TRUST, came out in 2010, while Sam was still with me. Within two years he was gone, to be replaced by Brody, and then a second golden, Griffin. Neither of them have Sam’s personality—they’re sweet, well-behaved dogs with few quirks. But watching them every day continues to inspire me for Rochester’s behavior and the clues he can come up with.

Blurb:
42-year-old Steve Levitan has lost everything that matters to him – his marriage, his home and his career. After finishing a brief prison term for computer hacking, he returns to his home town of Stewart’s Crossing, PA with his tail between his legs.

With his parole officer peering over his shoulder, Steve begins a technical writing business and takes a part-time job as an adjunct professor of English at his alma mater, Eastern College. He reconnects with an old friend, the local police detective, hangs out at a coffee shop, and enjoys the natural beauty of Bucks County and the stimulating college environment. Starting over helps him numb the pain of all he’s lost, including the two unborn children his ex-wife miscarried before their divorce.

The last thing he needs in his life is a shaggy, bossy golden retriever. But when his next-door neighbor, Caroline Kelly, is murdered, Steve becomes her dog’s temporary guardian. Rochester seems determined to solve the mystery of Caroline’s death, digging up clues and pushing Steve to investigate. As they nose through Caroline’s past, her friends and her career searching for motives, the bond between man and dog grows.

But it’s only when Steve uncovers a connection between Caroline’s death and some uncomfortable situations between his students and his colleagues that Steve realizes that in order to save his own life, and the life of the dog he’s come to love, he’s going to have to come face to face with a killer with nothing left to lose.

Excerpt:

I often like to walk alongside the nature preserve that backs up against River Bend in the evening. There’s a long stretch between River Road and the guardhouse, and when I’m there I can imagine I’m in the midst of a wilderness instead of the middle of suburbia.

I waved at the old guy manning the gate, and then side-stepped a big pile of poop, left behind by a dog belonging to one of my neighbors. Probably one of those who ostentatiously carried plastic bags but never stooped to using one.

Many of my dog-owning neighbors liked to walk along the preserve, including my next-door neighbor, Caroline Kelly, who owned a golden retriever named Rochester. I guess the smells out there are more interesting than the ones on our street, even though it’s lined with maples and oaks and nearly every house has a dogwood or lilac tree or a flowerbed filled with the first daffodils and tulips of spring.

I was brooding about the ever-present possibility that I’d be sent back to prison when I heard three short bangs that sounded like someone was shooting off firecrackers, but without the whistle and the whine. The sounds stood out because the rest of the night was so silent—not even a distant siren or the roar of a motorcycle.

A fast-moving black SUV roared past me a moment later, skidding gravel. Rochester came galloping up toward me as soon as it had gone, the handle of his extension leash bouncing behind him the way a convict in a cartoon might drag his ball and chain.

I knew it was Rochester because of the madras bandana that Caroline kept slung around his neck. “Hey, boy, hey,” I said, reaching out to grab him. “Where’s your mom? How’d you get away from her?”

As soon as I had hold of his leash, Rochester executed a sharp 180-degree turn and started running back the way he’d come, this time dragging me along with him. “Rochester! Stop!” I called. “Sit, boy, sit!”

I’d never cared for Rochester. I guess it was clear to him that I didn’t like dogs, and he made it his personal mission to reinforce that opinion. He did a good job of it, too. He was too big, too enthusiastic, too shaggy. Whenever I stopped to talk to Caroline, Rochester tried to jump on me, and Caroline couldn’t keep him in line. She took him for obedience lessons every Saturday, but his exuberance still overwhelmed his manners.

He had huge paws and a big head. His fur was fine and attached itself to me if I even passed within five feet of him, giving my lint brush lots of use. He had big jowls, too, and there was usually a line of drool hanging from them he was happy to wipe off on me. His paws were often muddy, and somehow the tip of his tail was always wet, and when he whipped it against my leg it stung like the touch of a wasp.

Galloping down the street, he ignored my commands to stop, but quickly I saw why he was in such a hurry.

A narrow, grassed-over path from the access road into River Bend led off to an old Revolutionary War cemetery at the edge of the preserve. Caroline had told me she often took Rochester up that path, and cars used it to turn around when they realized they were approaching the entry to a gated community.

As I neared where the grassy path met the roadway, I saw Caroline Kelly lying on the ground. All the activity of the past few minutes formed into a pattern in my head—the shots fired, the speeding car, the loose dog. I looked around as adrenaline raced through my veins. Was the shooter still there? No, he or she must have left in the car that passed me.

I walked up to Caroline, and leaned down next to her. Blood seeped out of her jacket, and there was a growing pool next to her leg. I remembered learning in college biology that if the femoral artery, running through the thigh, was severed, you could bleed out in a matter of minutes.

“Caroline?” I asked. “Caroline, can you hear me?” I had no idea how to do CPR and I was worried I’d do the wrong thing, somehow hurt her further.

I watched for a minute but could not see any rise and fall in her chest. I flipped open my cell phone, my hands shaking, and found my friend Rick Stemper’s cell number. Rick was a police detective in Stewart’s Crossing, and I knew he’d tell me what I should do.

Bio:
Neil Plakcy has written or edited over three dozen novels and short stories in mystery, romance and erotica. His golden retriever mystery series was inspired by his first golden, Samwise. Long walks with his current goldens give him plenty of time to think up new crimes and solutions—and Brody and Griffin provide love, entertainment, and endless piles of fur on the floor.
His website is http://www.goldenretrievermysteries.com.

Buy links:
Amazon: http://amzn.to/1L5eVgs
iBooks: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/in-dog-we-trust/id1344604987
Other retailers: https://www.books2read.com/u/mVRVAm

Social Media Links:
BLOG: http://mahubooks.blogspot.com
AMAZON AUTHOR PAGE: http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B001JP4EL6
FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/neil.plakcy
GOODREADS: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/126217.Neil_Plakcy
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Thanks for stopping by! Please leave Neil a comment.

Furbaby Friday with Toni V. Sweeney!


I am glad to welcome the talented Toni V. Sweeney to the blog to share a beloved furbaby memory. This is one of the best stories we’ve had on Furbaby Friday, and deeply moving. Get out the tissues.

Toni: The Biggest Dog in the World

His name was Spud, a name for a big bruiser of a dog—think Spuds McKenzie, the Budweiser dog—and not a toy poodle, but he had the heart of the biggest dog in the universe…

He was Spud McRowdi, son of Conan the Barkbarian.

At birth, Spud weighed two ounces. If I’d put a stamp on him, I could’ve mailed him First Class.

I was there when he was born, saw this tiny creature… just lying there…not moving… blew gently against its tiny pink nose…nothing. In desperation, I took a cotton swab, forced open the toothless mouth and pushed the swab over the lax minute tongue into the little throat. There was a gigantic gag…the puppy started breathing, and I stood there, staring at the tiny miracle of life lying on my palm.

He certainly wasn’t much to look at—not much longer than my middle finger nor even as wide, bulging eyelids resembling a baby bird’s…a turned-up pink nose like a tiny piglet…the hairless tail of a white rat—looked like anything except a dog.

“Ugly little spud, isn’t he?” I quoted the famous line from the movie Ghostbusters, in the scene where the trio have their encounter with the green slime ghost. He was supposed to be named Whitey, but he was Spud from that moment on.

The next day, I made a beeline for the vet’s. He said, “If you can keep him alive two weeks, he might make it,” gave me puppy formula, a 6-ounce syringe, a feeding tube, and instructions on how to feed the puppy using the syringe.

Every two hours day and night for two weeks, I stuffed that feeding tube down that poor puppy’s throat, injecting formula. “This is like taking care of a real baby!” I told my son.

I also had to keep Spud on a heating pad to keep his body temperature regulated—even in July—and run a vaporizer to keep his respiratory system clear. Ruined the bedroom wall with all that steam, but what the heck?

In two weeks, I was feeding Spud other things through his tube: watery pablum with strained eggs mixed in, apple juice. He now fit in the palm of my hand, was the size he should have been at birth, weighed one pound. His sisters were three times that size.

During the day, Spud slept in an old playpen, protected from those boisterous girl-pups. At night, he snuggled on my pillow. When we went places, he rode in my shirt pocket.

“Is that thing real?” people would ask. “Where’s his wind-up key?”

Suddenly, he began to grow…teeth, for starters. I was beginning to wonder if I was going to have the first dog with dentures, but at six months, two tiny toothpick incisors appeared and then a mouthful of teeth. Spud started growing, and didn’t stop until he weighted 7 whole pounds and was a full 12 inches high at the shoulder, still smaller than anyone else in his family, but big enough, considering how he started out.

Being premature, he was sickly, internally, anyway. He developed kidney failure, was put on a high carb diet. Ironically, the family cat was diagnosed with the same thing 6 months later, though the vet assured me there was no correlation. Nonetheless, both went on the same diet—Ramen noodles, rice, chopped spaghetti, with a little regular pet chow thrown in. Spud gobbled it down and went on his merry way, bullying the entire household.

In Nebraska’s winter, frolicking in the snow in below-zero temperatures, he allowed me to dress him in sweaters and snowsuits, and bore Spring hair-cuts with stoic stolidness—but no nail paint or bows…please! After all, he was a he-man dog, even if he was a poodle.

I talked to Spud as if he were human. He thought he was, anyway. A canine intelligence test showed he had the IQ of a two-year-old person. He became my bodyguard—all 7 pounds of him. When the Gentleman Caller came around, he sat between us like a jealous child. It took him a year to accept the man who became his Best Buddy.

He even had his fifteen minutes of fame as one of the characters in my novel Spacedogs’ Best Friend.

The end came less dramatically than the beginning. When he became ill, I wasn’t worried; he’d had other bouts…he always rallied…for 14 years…

Not this time. Too weak to stand, he was taken to the backyard, wagged his tail and sniffed the early morning air as he always did. Then, he was carried inside and placed on my bed. He lay his head on his forepaws and took a deep breath and let it out….

spudEven now, thoughts of that faithful, loving little creature can make me cry. I can truthfully say I’ve never known any human as affectionate and faithful as that tiny dog. I was “Mama” and he was “my baby,” and we both knew the true meaning of the word “bonded.”

He loved me for no other reason than because he could.

I’d been there at the beginning, I was there at the end, and—to paraphrase another saying—Spuddy, I’m glad to have known you!

Blurb for Spacedogs’ Best Friend:

Against her parents’ wishes, spoiled teenager Jenny Halpin’s doting uncle gives her a space cruise as a graduation gift.  Unfortunately, before Jenny can enjoy much of the voyage, the ship collides with a meteor shower and her escape pod is separated from the others.

Landing on an uninhabited world are Jenny and her pod-mates…three poodles. Not just any poodles. They’re the telepathic royal family of Canaris and they seem to think Jenny’s their servant, existing just to protect and serve them…

Robinson Crusoe had it easy!

spacedogs2-001

Read about the exploits of the fictional Spud and his family in the novel Spacedogs’ Best Friend at Amazon in Kindle: www.amazon.com/Spacedogs-Best-Friend-Toni-Sweeney-ebook/dp/B00JPOGAN8/

In paperback from:

http://www.classactbooks.com/young-adult/spacedogs-best-friend-461-462-463-detail

***Award-winning author Toni V. Sweeney has numerous titles published in various fiction genres. Visit her Amazon Author Page at:

https://www.amazon.com/Toni-V.-Sweeney/e/B002BLQBB8/

Thank you for stopping by! Please leave Toni a comment.

Furbaby Friday with Veronica Scott!


I’m very glad to welcome Veronica Scott here to share her furbaby and Sci-fi  romance STAR CRUISE: MYSTERY DANCER–her story in the third annual Pets in Space™ anthology, Embrace the Passion.  I love orange tabbies! My cat, Peaches, is one.

(Jake)

Veronica: Thanks for having me as your guest today to talk about my furbaby, Jake the Cat! I’ve always been a cat person and have had many feline companions over the course of my life (one at a time, not a house full LOL) but they were always gray  or brown striped tabbies. I used to say I’d never have an orange tabby, apparently as the result of a book my mother read me as a child, wherein an orange kitten wreaked havoc on the household. My mother was always very disapproving of the kitten in the story and I guess I internalized that message!
When I became an empty nester because my daughters took their cats when they moved out after college I needed a cat of my own to keep me company.

The day I went to the local shelter in 2013 to look for a cat, the one who captured my attention was Jake, who was about eight months old, soft, purred very loudly, had a fabulous ringed tail like a red panda (my favorite wild animal) and…was an orange tabby. (I tried to say he was “cameo colored” for a while but even my very young grandson at the time knew Jake was orange so I gave up the fiction.) My family was in disbelief that I’d gotten a cat who wasn’t gray striped – I couldn’t believe it myself but I adopted him and he’s been the cat of my heart from that day onward. He has the sweetest personality, although at times he believes he’s a ‘house cougar’ and goes tearing around through the place, chasing his toys or his own tail or just burning off energy in general. I keep a very large cat treehouse climbing structure in the corner of the living room so he can sit above it all and survey his territory.

He loves to sit in my lap when I’m reading and will supervise me from a chair next to the desk when I’m writing. Jake’s very much a creature of habit and I used to feed him breakfast at 4:30 AM daily, which is when I’d get up to get ready for the day job. Unfortunately when I was able to become a full time author, Jake didn’t get the memo that we could now sleep in and he still wants to eat at that time!

He’s very companionable and moves to wherever I am in the apartment and checks in on me to get a bit of petting and make sure things are going ok.

The third annual Pets in Space scifi romance anthology has just been released (as of October 9th) with the theme of pets in space (like Lassie, only on spaceships LOL) and for my story, Star Cruise: Mystery Dancer, I wrote F’rrh, an alien cat with three eyes who is similar to a genie. Each year my co-founder and I, and the authors included in the collection donate a portion of the first month’s royalties to Hero-Dogs, Inc., which provides service dogs to veterans.

Here’s an excerpt from my 41K novel in this year’s anthology. My heroine-on-the-run, Tassia, has made it through a day of auditions and been hired as a dancer on board the interstellar cruise liner Nebula Zephyr:
Dressing in an oversize T shirt and shorts, she wandered into the kitchenette area of her cabin and found the promised welcome basket. These people try very hard to be kind. Munching on a ration bar, holding a cup of synthcaff, she went into the living area and sat on the couch built into the wall, running through meditation exercises in an attempt to regain her inner calm. The danger wasn’t over, but she had a temporary respite.

Finally, she returned to the bedroom and opened the backpack, carefully removing the few items Xandrina had swept into the bag at the last minute. Tassia arranged the small boxes and miniature statues on the top of the empty bureau with care, trying to appreciate what she still had, not to remember the vast collection in her bedroom at home on Ruatsar Ten, or the beloved relatives who’d given her each of the beautiful items. Soon enough she’d probably have to sell the remaining trinkets, if not on this ship, then later.

“I need to save every credit in salary I can.” She spoke out loud just to hear a voice. Trinkets weren’t important for anything other than the memories attached to them, most of which were now too poignant to revisit.
Picking up the final item, the black lacquer box, she set it in the exact center of the bureau, put her hands together and made a formal bow, then rubbed one hand over the drawing and opened the lid.

Golden motes drifted upward from the interior of the container, twirling in the air as if happy to be set free. As Tassia watched, the sparks came together in the outline of a catlike being. There was a flash of purple and F’rrh sat regally next to the box. Her third eye was closed but, tail curled over her paws, she watched Tassia intently from the other two.

“It is well?” F’rrh asked in the old tongue of Ruatsar, voice raspy as if she was meowing and speaking simultaneously.
“Yes, Knowing One. Your vision was clear, and I pursued it to fruition. Thank you for the gift.”

“We will miss Madame Xandrina,” the cat said. “Yet it was her time to join the goddess and enjoy eternal peace. Our time to continue onward.”
“Do you have any further guidance for me?” Tassia enjoyed using the language of her birth, the syllables falling from her tongue so lyrically. She held her breath as the cat’s third eyelid opened the slightest bit and then shut.

“Not at this time.” F’rrh stretched and reverted into golden flickers of light which flowed into the box as if sucked into the heart of a black hole. For all she knew the box might contain such a thing. Tassia smiled at the whimsical concept.
Unsure if she was relieved or disappointed, Tassia returned to the living room to interact with the ship’s governing Artificial Intelligence, set her alarm as the dance captain suggested and went to bed, able to sleep soundly and without fear for the first time in months. At this rate, she might actually be able to accomplish the mission she’d sworn to complete when she was eight.

Anthology Blurb:

Pets in Space™ is back! Join us as we unveil eleven original, never-before-published action-filled romances that will heat your blood and warm your heart! New York Times, USA Today and Award-winning authors S.E. Smith, Anna Hackett, Ruby Lionsdrake, Veronica Scott, Pauline Baird Jones, Carol Van Natta, Tiffany Roberts, Alexis Glynn Latner, E D Walker, JC Hay, and Kyndra Hatch combine their love for Science Fiction Romance and pets to bring readers sexy, action-packed romances while helping our favorite charity. Proud supporters of Hero-Dogs.org, Pets in Space™ authors have donated over $4,400 in the past two years to help place specially trained dogs with veterans. Open your hearts and grab your limited release copy of Embrace the Romance: Pets in Space™ 3 today!

This is the blurb for my story in the anthology, which has something of an ‘Anastasia’ vibe:’

STAR CRUISE: MYSTERY DANCER blurb: Tassia Megg is a woman on the run after the death of her elderly guardian. Her search to get off the planet in a hurry comes when chance directs her to an open dance audition for the luxury cruise liner Nebula Zephyr’s resident troupe. If there is one thing Tassia can do, it is dance!
Security Officer Liam Austin is suspicious of the newest performer to join the Comettes. She shows all the signs of being a woman on the run and seems to fit the Sectors-wide broadcast description of a missing thief, accused of stealing priceless artifacts. As he gets to know Tassia during the cruise, he starts to wonder if she’s something more – a long vanished princess in hiding from deadly political enemies of her family perhaps? And what’s the story with the three-eyed feline companion other crew members swear Tassia brought aboard the ship? Does the animal even exist?
As the ship approaches its next port of call, all the issues come to a boil and Liam must decide if he’ll step in to help Tassia or betray her. Life is about to get very interesting aboard the Nebula Zephyr as Liam tries to uncover the truth. Could F’rrh, the peculiar alien cat he has been hearing about, be the key to the mystery and Tassia’s fate?

Buy Links: Amazon iBooks B&N Kobo Google

Author Bio and Links:

USA Today Best Selling Author
“SciFi Encounters” columnist for the USA Today Happy Ever After blog
Veronica Scott grew up in a house with a library as its heart. Dad loved science fiction, Mom loved ancient history and Veronica thought there needed to be more romance in everything. When she ran out of books to read, she started writing her own stories.
Seven time winner of the SFR Galaxy Award, as well as a National Excellence in Romance Fiction Award, Veronica is also the proud recipient of a NASA Exceptional Service Medal relating to her former day job, not her romances!
She read the part of Star Trek Crew Member in the audiobook production of Harlan Ellison’s “The City On the Edge of Forever.”
Blog: https://veronicascott.wordpress.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/vscotttheauthor
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Veronica-Scott/177217415659637?ref=hl

Thanks for stopping by. Please leave Veronica a comment!