Monthly Archives: October 2014

Cover Reveal: Corgi Capers 3

Corgi Capers 3: Curtain Calls and Fire Halls

I’m happy to reveal the cover for the upcoming book Corgi Capers: Curtain Calls and Fire Hall. The book will be released soon through DWB Children’s Line. The story takes place in the weeks surrounding Thanksgiving and continues the adventures of Sapphie, Zeph, Adam, and Courtney. Once again, Leia and Yoda Corgi were happy to model for the cover. Corgi Capers 3 front cover


Inspiration in Unexpected Places

Adam’s favorite comic book detective knows that a mystery can appear anywhere. This is a lesson Adam learns when money disappears from the Stoney Brook Fire Company, where he volunteers. But who would steal from the firefighters? Can one of his new friends be the culprit?

Meanwhile, Courtney tries to make things right after the mess she made on Halloween. She balances her time between volunteering at Willow Lakes Retirement Community and taking her wild pup Sapphie to obedience classes. But inspiration strikes in unexpected places, and Courtney finds herself captivated by an acting group that visits her school. Does Sapphie have what it takes to earn the canine role in the play and perform alongside Courtney?

Sapphie and Zeph add their own capers to the mix as they find new ways to escape and discover what exactly is hiding in the chilly autumn woods near their home. In this inspirational chapter in the Corgi Capers series, Adam and his friends discover exactly what makes the heart of a hero.

Related Posts

I’ve already blogged about the winners of the Name that Cat contest and about the inspiration of one of the winning names. Being inspired to enjoy life is a constant theme in Corgi Capers, as Zeph (inspired by my own fraidy-dog Yoda) is afraid of most things. I’m pleased to be working with Yuming Cao to bring this bravery to life through illustration, and this illustrated corgi book will also be available soon.

To Denby

I was touched to learn of the passing of Denby Dog yesterday. He is now running free across the rainbow bridge. (For those not in the know, I have blogged about him before—here.)

I say “touched” instead of “saddened” because although I am terribly sad and thought about Denby throughout the day, I can’t help but think of the joy he brought his family during all the years he lived against the odds, not to mention all the happiness they brought him. I can’t help but think about all the two- and four-legged friends Denby brought together over the years—friends on Facebook who never met in person but who shared joy and comfort in each other’s company, and will continue to do so, all because of a spirited little dog.

Every dog touches the hearts of his owners—his family. But Denby reached beyond his “mommy’s” heart and touched the lives of more people than he could count. And so when I remember Denby, I do not dwell on the sorrow of losing him—but rather, I celebrate the joy of having known him and having been part of the community he inspired. As they say—corgi on!

Though I am a prose writer, I do sometimes write poetry, and Denby inspired me to write something for him. So here goes:


To Denby, on Earning Your Wings


You earned your wings some time ago, though they could not be seen:

Your spirit soared, with soul aglow, through each computer screen.


A Super-Dog, you showed us how to find the “super” within,

To “corgi on” and be “Denby Strong,” your wink an inspiring grin.


You taught us all to enjoy each day of peace and joy and love.

And corgi nation’s members, they now feel your spirit above.


For years, you crossed impossible bounds, transcending nations and states.

Bringing together a world of hounds and people; you’re one of the greats.


You’ve let us fly, with your invisible wings, for many inspiring years;

Now’s your time to soar like angels and kings. There is joy for you, in my tears.


For now you sleep on a bed of stars and wink at the moon “goodnight.”

And spend your days in the rainbow world, in happy, frappy flight.


We’ll see you again, brave Super-Dog, but until that day,

Be with our pets that have gone before—and enjoy your time to play.


-Val Muller


During an auction to raise money for Denby earlier this year, I auctioned the opportunity to name a character in the upcoming Corgi Capers: Curtain Calls and Fire Halls. Miss Kat generously won that opportunity, and she chose to name the character Denby, after the inspirational corgi whose stamina and spirit greatly inspired all of corgi nation. In the upcoming book, I created a character that captures Denby’s spirit—spreading joy, enjoying life, and bringing people together. I hope I have done justice to his memory and legacy.

Yoda and Leia, wearing red for Denby. Yoda's cape is a tribute to the Super-Dog.

Yoda and Leia, wearing red for Denby. Yoda’s cape is a tribute to the Super-Dog.

The Power of the Pen

In Corgi Capers, Mrs. Hollinger (the protagonists’ mother) is a freelance copy-editor. Bad grammar is more than her pet peeve. She allows typos and misused punctuation to distract her from the time, from her appointments, from the road–in short, from her life. Luckily for the family, her distractions lead her to fun, serendipitous things like finding two corgi puppies at a tucked-away farm.

Mrs. Hollinger, protector of the English language

A sketch of Mrs. Hollinger, protector of the English language

Like Mrs. Hollinger, and like my own mother, I love grammar. Maybe I don’t love it, but I feel the need to protect it. Just the other day, I had to stop myself from replying to an email in order to thank the sender for correctly using the correct punctuation (a semicolon) when using “however” as a conjunctive adverb. It was only when I started typing the thank-you email that I realized how crazy I sounded.

Don’t worry: I deleted it.

During a writing class, I asked students to think about an object that had power to them—and then write about the object from the object’s point of view. When I assign writing, I try to model it by writing on the topic, too, volunteering to share if no one else is willing. Through brainstorming and drafting that day, it occurred to me that I find much power in a pen. I always have; in fact, Courtney wrote about this on my blog, too, as part of an assignment she had to write.

I ended up writing from the point of view of a red pen—but not just any red pen. A pen with thick, wet ink that glistens as it dries on the paper. This is a pen wielded by a pompous professor, a Mrs. Grundy. It is a pen feared by many. Here is what my pen had to say:

My ink smells like fear. Thick and red, it bleeds onto the paper as I slash students’ work with painful lesions. I’m a high-class pen, more expensive than most—and rightly so. A benefit of being so expensive is that my ink was designed not to run after it dries. This is important because I’d hate for students’ tears to wash away the genius of my markings.

Sometimes I press so hard against the paper that I bleed onto the pages below. My favorite letter to draw is an “F,” but I am content drawing C’s and D’s as well. I’m also especially fond of a minus sign. I am good at writing check-marks, but I’m even better at writing X’s. I’m so powerful that I leave marks even on teacher’s hands when they wield me because they are not perfect, either, and I love to show them their flaws. No, even teachers are not strong enough to escape my judgment.

I stopped writing because it occurred to me that perhaps that is how some people see pens: they see writing as scary, grammar as a mystery. And that made me sad.

In grad school, my education professors warned us not to use red pen to grade students’ work. The red, they claimed, looked too much like blood, and it would seem that the comments were actually wounds on the students’ work—like the paper was bleeding.

I didn’t buy that, and I have since asked students their opinion on the matter. They chuckle whenever I ask, telling me that one color marking is just as intimidating—or not—as the next. But the professors’ comments got me thinking about pens and their effect on people—the connotation of their stroke, thick, thin, watery, or dry.

I do not like to write with pens that use thick, flowing ink that comes out wet. I do not like to use pens to intimidate. The pen truly is mightier than the sword, and it should be wielded responsibly.

I prefer smooth pens—of medium or fine tips—with ink thick enough to run evenly but thin enough to dry on impact. The pens I like would not sound as spooky or arrogant as the one above. The pens I like are full of potential, each one housing an untold story within its ink. For me, a pen is full of a liquid dreams—an elixir that allows the mind to transcend its metaphysical boundaries and share itself with others. For me, there are few objects that hold more wonder, or potential, than the pen.

What story might be inspired by this little corgi butt and its obsession with whatever lives under the daisies?

What story might be inspired by this little corgi butt and its obsession with whatever lives under the daisies?

That magic came out in full force for me this past winter when, during a terrible snowstorm, I penned the majority of Corgi Capers 3 while waiting for the schools to reopen. It amazed me that the story cooking in my head could enter reality via that magic ink.

I’m excited to be finishing the final edits on Corgi Capers Book 3: Curtain Calls and Fire Halls, in which I pay tribute to the bravery of fire fighters and the spirit of everyday heroes like a very special dog named Denby. My goal in writing the book is to inspire people to see heroes in everyday people and magic in everyday occurrences. The book should be released soon, and I hope you enjoy it!

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