Monthly Archives: September 2012

Fredericksburg Pet Expo

I spent the past weekend at the first annual Fredericksburg Pet Expo in Fredericksburg, Virginia. The two-day event was even more crowded on Sunday, so word must have spread about all the great events and vendors. Even though I was stuck at my booth most of the time, I got to see some of what the show had to offer, and I recommend it for animal lovers everywhere.

The event coordinators did a fabulous job. Everything looked great when we arrived, making it easy to set up:

On Saturday, I left the corgis with a family member–10 a.m. until 6 p.m. seemed long for them, and Leia completely freaks out when there’s so much action. Instead, I brought Corgi the Corgi Mascot. He spent his down-time well, playing one of his favorite video games when he wasn’t posing for pictures:

Corgi the Corgi playing Angry Birds

On Sunday, the show only ran from 11 a.m. until 4 p.m., and at the suggestion of a fellow vendor (specializing in dog training), I brought Yoda along, leaving Leia with a family member (she got to spend the day with a new dog friend!).

Trying to get Yoda to pose for the camera!

The trainer gave me a few simple techniques to use, telling me that soon enough, I would look down and see Yoda on the floor, relaxing or sleeping. Sure enough, it worked:

Those of you who know Yoda know this is not a common sight in such a busy place.

At the end of the show, we got to go around and chat with the other vendors. Eric’s favorite was the vet booth next door, which featured a strange lizard:

There were other animals as well–farm animals, reptiles, and a variety of pets that came in costume or in special hairdos. One patron even stopped by with the calmest cat I’ve ever seen simply resting on her shoulder as she walked from booth to booth.

Because the corgis’ birthday is September 25, Eric said we could buy them each a Halloween bandana.

Yoda showing off his “Boo” bandana. Appropriate for a fraidy-dog!

Later, in the car on the way home, Leia shows off her pirate skull bandana.

It was a busy weekend for everyone, and the dogs slept like little corgi-shaped logs all the way home. A special shout-out of thanks to the event coordinators at the Fredericksburg Expo Center for hosting such a great event… and a shout-out to the guy from Doody Calls who spent the whole weekend circling the Expo Center floor with a mop and bucket to clean up after all the dogs!

 

Corgi the Corgi Mascot

This summer, I decided to create a corgi mascot costume for use at book signings. Since summer signings are too hot, though, I delayed the project until recently. But with fall book signings starting to multiply, I decided to tackle the project. Here’s how I did it:

I started out with newspaper sculpted around a beach ball.

 

Before paper-mache-ing the newspaper, I decided to add an open mouth as part of the mask.

 

 

In the meantime, while the paper mache was drying, I found a pattern at the fabric store, which I modified to suit my purposes. First step: cutting the pattern and the fabric.

 

The cut fabric starts to come together, thanks to my sewing machine. Old but reliable. A real trooper!

 

With the paper mache dry, I attached a lightweight construction helmet to the inside of the mask, insuring it would stay balanced and snug on the head of the victim–I mean, volunteer–who gets to wear the costume!

 

A zipper makes the suit come together!

 

Elastic on the cuffs.

 

With the mask dried, I drilled holes for increased ventilation (and to lower the weight) and covered the eyes with a double layer of screen.

Now the hard part. Because I am an English teacher, not a math major, I had to figure out how to sew different shapes of fabric over the mask to create the corgi look. I used a bit of glue for security, then sewed the edges of all the pieces together.

 

I sewed… and sewed…

…and sewed…

 

And added the nose… and the eye lining…

 

Until it all came together…

 

I added the red tongue and eyebrows just in time for Corgi the Corgi’s first book signing!

 

It turns out Corgi the Corgi is a pretty good dancer… and was the star of the evening!

 

A special thanks to my husband for donning the costume all night. Hey, at least with all the dancing, he got in his exercise for the day!

Stay tuned–Corgi Capers Book 2 is coming soon!

 

 

A Very Scary Halloween (+ Cover Reveal!)

Halloween—the Halloween I remember from my childhood—is my favorite holiday. There’s something refreshing about the crispness in the air, the crunch of autumn leaves, the sweet scent of decaying leaves mingling with smoky air from fireplaces, suggesting that just inside awaits a warm sanctuary from the creepy chill of the outdoors.

Carving Jack-O-Lanterns and creating costumes always allowed my creative side to flourish. Since I can remember, my mother had been instilling in my creativity by example: she hand-made my Halloween costumes so that they’d always be special. I was in awe at her sewing skills—the fact that a pile of fabric could be turned into a perfectly-fitting outfit in a matter of weeks amazed me (and probably inspired me to—years later—sew my own wedding dress).

But as fun as the time of year is, there’s always a slight danger. One danger I experienced happened while trick-or-treating one year. A large group of us were circulating the neighborhood, an older, darkened development with no streetlights and lots of twisting roads. Things were going well—we had just braved the house of my third-grade math teacher (she looked like a real witch again this year!) and were headed next door when—

A white van screeched to a halt in front of the driveway. The door opened. “Get in!” a crazy voice called.

My mind raced with all those after-school-special videos we saw in school. This was a stranger. Don’t talk to strangers. Don’t get into their cars. But a part of me—perhaps the writer was alive even then—felt too intrigued to leave the situation so soon. Behind me, the rest of the kids were running back toward the porch. Even a boy was screaming like a banshee. But I crept behind a tree—a safe enough distance: if someone wanted me, they’d have to come out of the van and chase me down. But there from behind my perch, I could watch the situation. I was hoping to view the perpetrator. Was he as ugly as he was in my mind? My subconscious worked to create all kinds of back-stories to his life, and I imagined he might look similar to Freddy Krueger, all gnarled and creepy.

Then I thought about a detective story I’d written a year earlier. The people in that story—a group of neighbors who decided to overcome police incompetence by catching a burglar on their own—would not have spent their time staring at the perp. No, they would be looking at the license plate, memorizing it to tell the cops later. I squinted and stared, but it was no use. It would still be four years before I realized I needed glasses, but I chalked it up to the darkness. I could not see the license plate.

By this time, the other kids had knocked on the door, and a surprised and concerned neighbor walked us down the street to the nearest of our homes. There, all our parents were called, along with the police. I was less shaken than I should have been—I was more intrigued by it all. To this day I don’t know whether the white van really meant to kidnap us, or whether it was just having some ill-conceived Halloween “fun.”

Nonetheless, it’s a memory that’s stayed with me, and it’s one I’ve incorporated into the newest book in the Corgi Capers series, The Sorceress of Stoney Brook. In the tale, Adam is getting ready for All-Star Baseball playoffs, but he can’t escape October’s chills. A pair of new neighbors moves in, and Adam is convinced they’re witches. But his parents love them, as does Courtney, so he’s got no one to talk to about his concern except his best friend and his corgis. Worse, Courtney has found some new friends of her own, and they constantly threaten Adam, boasting of a great prank they’re going to play on him come Halloween. Are the new neighbors really witches? Will Adam ever gain the upper hand over his mischievous sister Courtney? You’ll have to read it to find out!

Coming Soon from Dancing With Bear Children’s Line!

Corgi Capers Book 2: Coming Soon!

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