Category Archives: character
I had the honor of speaking at the rescue picnic for the Pembroke Welsh Corgi Club of the Potomac in August. One of the club’s objectives is “to maintain an organized rescue service” to help homeless or displaced Pembroke Welsh Corgis find a good home. The picnic, an annual tradition, was held to honor those who had rescued such corgis.
While I was invited to speak about my own corgis, Leia and Yoda, and their inspiration in my mystery series Corgi Capers, in preparing for the picnic I reflected on what my dogs truly mean to me. A highlight of the picnic—aside from the barbecue (thanks, Kathy and Stephon!)—was hearing the stories of rescuers adopting their dogs. The sacrifices, the time and energy, the love poured into the bond between human and canine. More than that, it was seeing all the corgis and the joy they brought and bring their people—and vice versa–even in the summer heat.
My daughter who came along, loved going around and asking to pet all the dogs. I wasn’t sure who was happier—her or the corgis. For the three-year-old, there was no pouting at this picnic. And that’s what I really think matters about dogs in our lives. It’s the mutual joy–the way they bring out the best in us. They make us slow down and appreciate details we might otherwise miss in life.
Talking to her grandkids, my grandmother always lamented the fact that we would one day grow up, that kids make everything more fun. While this may be the case, I say one of the secrets to prolonged youth is having an animal to care for–and to care for you.
In my own experience, my corgis have helped me to see other perspectives. It could be as simple as looking at a thunderstorm from two inches off the ground (it’s terrifying!), or learning that I need to dig out snow tunnels in the winter (check out the snow Olympics here).
In early morning walks around the yard with my dogs, I’ve seen sunlight streaming through a dew-speckled spider web, felt mole tunnels collapse under my feet, caught dozens of winter sunrises blazing through the white landscape, and relaxed to summer sunsets kissing the world to sleep. These are things I would likely have missed, relegated instead to the comforts of air conditioning and heat, if not for Leia and Yoda prancing and dancing and “Aroooing” at me to join them.
Once, in the dead of winter, I heard the sound of complete silence. No bird, plane, car, human, or canine. Leia and Yoda, normally barkers, froze as if entranced by the same winter magic that captivated me.
And it goes further back.
Growing up, the family dog, a bichon frise named Chip, made every day an adventure with daily walks and playtime. My sister and I peeked into sewers, checking out the tunnel systems with him. I walked in total darkness while listening to rustling leaves, sparking my imagination and strengthening my courage. We kept track of changing scenes around the neighborhood, and introduced ourselves to those we would not otherwise know. Scenes from my canine adventures have certainly made their way into my Corgi Capers novels, and for good reason.
To me, dogs bring me perpetual childhood. They splash in puddles, they run through bushes. Heck, they stop and smell the roses. I think my grandmother was onto something when she said that we all lose a little something when the children in our lives grow up. But she didn’t have dogs. I suspect that if she did, she might have felt a bit differently.
This prompt was inspired by a writing event I attended. At the Loudoun Library’s Words Out West Festival, I shared from my newest novels, The Man with the Crystal Ankh and The Girl Who Flew Away. Afterwards, author Bobbi Carducci shared some writing prompts with the audience, and I stayed to participate.
The prompt was the first line in the story below.
While most people thought of literal riders—horses, I had corgis on my mind. I couldn’t help but remember the legend of the fairy saddle, so of course in my mind, the four riders were fairies, all riding fairy steeds—corgis!
Petunia’s Corgi Steed
From behind a lacy curtain she watched as four riders galloped toward the house. They were the same four as last time, and they held the fur of their corgi steeds with wild abandon. The corgis flew through the dewy grass, leaving four dark trails through the otherwise pristine lawn. As they neared, Petunia could see that the corgis’ fur was wet from dew.
They approached the house, and the corgis left stains of water and mud on the patio. She could only imagine the mess they would leave in the house. Just like last time.
The leader of the four, a fiery fairy with golden hair and wild, orange eyes, dismounted. He shaded his eyes from the morning sun and glanced up at the window. “Petunia, we know you’re up there. We see you at the window. Come out.”
Downstairs, the dog barked.
Petunia pulled the curtain aside and called through the open window. “There was too much trouble last time, Sunbeam.”
“Nonsense. We’re riding to the pond today. The beavers have dammed the stream again, and there’s all sorts of mud pooling around for our steeds to enjoy. We’re going to eat dandelions and rose petals and bask in the sun.”
The mud she could do without, but rose petals were her favorite. But after what happened last time…
“Fluffy got in so much trouble last time. And she was given a—” She lowered her voice. “A bath.”
Downstairs, the dog barked again.
“Don’t call her ‘Fluffy,’ ” Sunbeam said. “You know her name just as well as I. Shadowdancer of the Weeded Meadow.”
Petunia sighed. “Her name is Fluffy, and she’s not supposed to get out while the humans are away. It always upsets them so. Last time after the bath, they kept her inside for days.”
The rider snickered. “What are you going to do, watch ‘Fluffy’ sleep on the floor all day? What kind of life is that for a corgi? Corgis are made as fairy steeds. They are meant to run through meadows and grass and mud. And guardian fairies like you are meant as riders—not house fairies!”
Another rider called up to Petunia. “Just look at how happy our steeds are.” Lilac waved her lavender locks as the corgis twirled in circles on the patio.
Petunia sighed. A breeze brought the scent of grass and flowers, and the curtain brushes her wing.
“Okay.” She sighed. Then, with a low whistle, Fluffy—Shadowdancer of the Weeded Meadow—arrived, ready to carry her fairy rider into the great outdoors.
The pair pranced down the stairs, over the pristine carpeting the humans had just cleaned, past the neatly-folded laundry in the hallway, and across the sparkling floor of the kitchen. Petunia stopped her steed by the door. Should she really do this? There would be yelling. Fluffy would have a bath. Was it worth it?
Fluffy—Shadowdancer—scratched the door and barked.
With a smile, Petunia hovered in the air and unlocked the mechanism humans loved so much. Outside, her four companions hovered, too, using all their might to pull open the heavy glass door. In a quick moment, Shadowdancer was free, and she joined her four companions. The five fairies descended to their steeds, and they rode into the breeze that carried the scent of mud and dandelions and rose petals and adventure.
Corgi Capers book 4 is in the works. In the meantime, you might consider my two new young adult releases:
For the younger end of the YA spectrum:
No good deed goes unpunished when freshman Steffie Brenner offers to give her awkward new neighbor a ride home after her first day at school. When her older sister Ali stops at a local park to apply for a job, Steffie and Madison slip out of the car to explore the park—and Madison vanishes.
Already in trouble for a speeding ticket, Ali insists that Steffie say nothing about Madison’s disappearance. Even when Madison’s mother comes looking for her. Even when the police question them.
Some secrets are hard to hide, though—especially with Madison’s life on the line. As she struggles between coming clean or going along with her manipulative sister’s plan, Steffie begins to question if she or anyone else is really who she thought they were. After all, the Steffie she used to know would never lie about being the last person to see Madison alive—nor would she abandon a friend in the woods: alone, cold, injured, or even worse.
But when Steffie learns an even deeper secret about her own past, a missing person seems like the least of her worries…
Find it at Amazon and other retailers. And from April 30-May 14, find it discounted directly from the publisher during the Spring Fling Sale!
And for the slightly older YA crowd:
Sarah Durante awakens to find herself haunted by the spirit of her high school’s late custodian. After the death of his granddaughter, Custodian Carlton Gray is not at peace. He suspects a sanguisuga is involved—an ancient force that prolongs its own life by consuming the spirits of others. Now, the sanguisuga needs another life to feed its rotten existence, and Carlton wants to spare others from the suffering his granddaughter endured. That’s where Sarah comes in. Carlton helps her understand that she comes from a lineage of ancestors with the ability to communicate with the dead. As Sarah hones her skill through music, she discovers that the bloodlines of Hollow Oak run deep. The sanguisuga is someone close, and only she has the power to stop it.
Find it at Amazon and other retailers!
I heard just yesterday the question, “Why isn’t there any good news?” It’s true that new media seem to play up the negative stories and skip over the happy ones. What’s that expression? Blood sells, right? As 9/11 approaches each year, it seems many of us grow gloomy as well, so I thought I’d share an article I’ve been saving since last month.
I enjoyed coming across an article inAugust’s Parade magazine about acting dogs (Acting Like a Dog), and you can imagine I was thrilled to read about two corgis, Mimi and Marco, who were surrendered by their owner when they were 9 and 10 years old. Sent to a rescue organization, they were placed with Bill Berloni, an animal trainer, who placed them in a Broadway show called The Audience, a play about Queen Elizabeth II. The two “undeniable crowd pleasers” dash across the stage, thrilling audience members and are themselves rewarded with mozzarella cheese, their preferred treat.
The article continues, discussing dogs that Berloni trains, including the Chihuahua starring in Legally Blonde: The Musical, which he adopted from a shelter.
I always sort of dread when September 11 rolls around on the calendar. Like any of us old enough to remember the day, I will never forget where I was when I heard, and I will never forget the tense moments afterwards, glued to the television and unsure of the future—or the serious repercussions the day had on our society at large. It’s good to be reminded that there are positive stories out there such as the stories people like Berloni create every day—of abandoned lives turning into talent that can bring joy to thousands.
The news story brought me a smile and is one more reason we should all aspire to consider small ways we can bring joy to others—in other words, to live more like a dog!
Several months ago, I read a great “dog” book called Seven Days to Goodbye. The idea of a service dog is prominent in the book, and I have heard plenty of people praise the power of service animals. Today I have the opportunity to feature a guest post by author Sheri S. Levy, who wrote the book. When I contacted her, I specifically wanted to know: what inspired you to write the novel, especially as it relates to service dogs. Enjoy her post below, and then check out more information about the book at the bottom of the page. It’s clear from all of the pictures that we have a dog lover in our presence!
Why I wrote Seven Days to Goodbye
by Sheri S. Levy
Years ago, after acquiring my special education teaching credentials, I put teaching on hold and opted to stay home with our young children and babysit for a neighbor. Her young daughter, two years old, and the same age as my daughter, gave me the chance to play school. Our son attended half-day kindergarten and before long three additional school age children joined us after school.
Seven-year-old, David, lived across the street with a single, working mom, and his beautiful German Shepherd, Charlie. They wandered over every day and Charlie attached herself to my husband, Murphy, as he worked outside. When David and his mother couldn’t keep Charlie, Murphy instantly offered to take her. She was our first dog and the reason for all of the following dogs.
After Charlie’s death, Murphy cried in his pillow. When he traveled out of town, the children and I found the perfect puppy for his birthday. An eight-week-old, white German Shepherd, Gretchel, our family pet for twelve amusing years.
With our children gone, it pained us to say goodbye to our first grown puppy. We tried to hide our need of another dog. But it wasn’t working. A friend introduced us to her Australian Shepherds, and an unbearable desire for a pup escalated. We drove five hours to the coast to claim our first red-merle. Sydney became our first house dog, slept in our bed, joined us at Edisto, and repaired our hearts.
At six months old, Sydney romped in the snow during a January snow storm with a black Lab pup. Thinking it was a neighbor’s puppy, we played and sledded for hours. Frozen to the bone, we headed home and the Lab followed. I called the neighbors. No one knew of a black Lab missing. We waited two days for the snow to melt, and then took him to the vet. She examined him, found he had three puncture wounds, and told us he was around Sydney’s age. We named him Jake and our two-dog adventure began.
As both dogs aged, we retired and traveled across the US for a month in our old Tahoe car. The dogs walked the streets with us and rested in the hotel while we dined in the evening. A couple years later, after repeating this trip, Sydney became ill and we had to say goodbye. I wasn’t sure my heart could take the pain.
An idea about creating a story with a special needs child, and Sydney and Jake, festered in my mind. I wrote for years, revising and editing until a critiquer mentioned removing Jake to reach my emotional theme. Dreading deleting Jake, I shared this idea with Murphy. He reminded me I’d always have Jake with me in spirit. We toasted Jake, and I deleted him from the story.
My funny, happy, and sad experiences with dogs and special needs children shape my stories. Writing the real and the make-believe pieces of my life is cathartic and spurs my imagination. Seven Days to Goodbye is my heart book and its saga will continue.
Our current dogs, Slater and Mulligan:
About Sheri’s book:
After Trina’s beloved dog dies, she swears she’ll never get another one. But then she learns about service dogs, and realizes if she becomes a puppy raiser, she could train puppy after puppy and never worry about them dying. But like all great ideas, this one has a serious flaw: her first service puppy must be returned to his kennel at the end of their week-long summer vacation. And saying goodbye to Sydney is going to be much tougher than she ever imagined.
Trina’s last week with Sydney is made that much harder by her newly strained friendship with her best friend, Sarah, who’s become so over-the-top boy crazy that she’s almost like a stranger. Sarah is determined to have them hang out with every boy at the beach, but when a boy named Chase takes an interest in Sydney and Trina, it puts an even bigger strain on the friendship. It’s hard enough to deal with losing Sydney, but now she may lose her best friend, too. And even if she manages to patch things up with Sarah—and figures out what to do about Chase—she still must face a daunting decision: is she strong enough to take on another service puppy?
Last month, my good friend Voula Trip came over to kindly take photos of the corgis (and of me). As might be imagined, taking pictures of two crazy corgis presents quite the challenge. We wanted to get a picture of me and the corgis along with the two corgi Squishables. Sounds easy enough, right?
Challenge #1: Squirmy Leia
It took six years for me to get her to sit still enough to brush her teeth, and even now, it depends on the day, her mood, the angle of the sun… Note that her squirming was also accompanied by high-pitched squeals, disturbing enough to make Yoda leave the area (butt pictured).
Challenge #2: Yoda is in Love with the Photographer
Yep, he’s obsessed. Makes it difficult to take pictures when he’s sitting at your feet howling up at you lovingly.
Challenge #3: Make it Look Like You’re Not Choking Leia
When Leia finally calmed down a bit, we were able to have the corgis take their “places.” But Leia wouldn’t stay still. It was suggested that I “hold her gently” in place. The first attempt looked something like a toned-down version of Homer Simpson strangling Bart. Notice Yoda gazing longingly toward the photographer:
And finally… after my hands gradually moved away from Leia’s neck in each subsequent shot, we ended up with something that looks halfway decent. If you don’t look carefully enough, you won’t notice Leia’s leg is in “spring” mode, ready to pounce away as soon as my arm is lifted. I put an arm around Yoda, too, so people might think the arms were a sign of affection instead of a near-death-grip on Squirmy Leia. Notice Yoda is still gazing longingly toward the photographer 🙂
Not that Yoda needed a reward. The ability to bask in the warm presence of his new Love was enough… but Leia was still a little wound up. When it was all over, the corgis were thrilled when Voula asked them to sit on the couch for a “private” photo shoot. With such a privilege, Leia sat still for shot after shot.
If you follow my other blog, you know that I feature flash fiction every Thursday as part of a writing group I’m in (The Spot Writers). This week, I was inspired by the extreme cold–and my task of keeping the pipes from freezing. We were supposed to write a story about a character’s reaction to an intruder. I added a bit of a spin, making the intruder the cold. The story features Courtney and follows her continuing journey to be a better person.
by Val Muller
“Don’t forget to leave the sink dripping,” Mom said.
Dad smiled. “Wouldn’t want the pipes to burst.”
“And if anything happens, call Belle or Cassie. They know we’ll be gone for the night, and we’ve asked them to look in on you.”
“I’m in seventh grade already. I can take care of myself.”
“Seventh grade isn’t that old, young lady. Remember, no going out. Let the dogs out once or twice, but that’s it. And no visitors.”
Mom jingled her keys. “And Dad will be back around noon.”
“Got it.” Mom reached over for a hug. Moms always did stuff like that. “Have fun at your conference,” Courtney added.
Finally, finally, they left. Courtney watched them from the front window. She couldn’t wait. She had the entire night planned—a movie marathon coupled with a chat session with her friends. And she could text Dave all night, too. She was finally being treated like an adult.
But that was all. She was turning over a new leaf. Her parents finally trusted her, finally un-grounded her. So no sneaking out, no inviting anyone over. Just watching movies with the volume as loud as she wanted, eating whatever she wanted, and having the peace and quiet of being away from her brother.
It would be…like being a grown-up. It was going to be awesome.
And then, when Dad returned in the morning and saw the house was still standing the dogs were fed and happy, her parents would trust her even more. Never too early to start thinking about driving—only a few years away!
The kitchen sink was set to drip—last year the pipes had frozen along the outside wall. They hadn’t burst, luckily, but there were so many stories in the news with this recent cold snap. It was breaking records and pipes–and it was the reason they were letting Courtney stay by herself. She was supposed to keep the taps dripping and the thermostat turned up. And, in case anything happened, she knew where the main water shut-off was, and she had her parents’ cell phone numbers memorized. Mom’s presentation wasn’t until the morning, so she could call them whenever she wanted. After that, Dad would answer.
Not that she would need to call either of them. She was in seventh grade now.
She settled into the recliner—Dad’s recliner. She set up Mom’s laptop on the end table, plugged in her phone charger, opened a bag of popcorn, and pulled a blanket up to her chin. Breaking small rules didn’t matter. Dad would never know she was eating in his chair, and Mom wouldn’t miss her laptop tonight. She smirked and broke one final rule. “Come on, Sapphie,” she said to her dog. “You can sit up here with me.”
Sapphie took a running leap without even thinking, burrowing into the forbidden comfort of the recliner. Adam’s dog yelped and hid under the couch. “Poor Zeph,” Courtney said. “Too bad Adam couldn’t have taken you to his sleepover.”
Courtney shoved a handful of popcorn into her mouth and pushed “play” on the DVR. Sapphie wagged her tail, vacuuming up the popcorn as it spilled on Courtney’s shirt.
The first movie started playing just as a text from Dave came in. Courtney signed onto Facebook and posted on her friends’ walls. She didn’t have to worry for once about a parent peeking over her shoulder. She could talk about whatever she wanted, using whatever language she wanted to, and she didn’t even have to use commas! She giggled; she could even fart right there in her father’s recliner and no one to reprimand her.
It was everything she expected, everything she hoped. Living like a grown-up was awesome.
Halfway through the bag of popcorn and the movie, the microwave oven beeped. The lights went out.
Sapphie and Zeph barked in alarm, sensing her tension. She picked up her cell phone. The pale moon outside did little to light the way.
“It’s okay, dogs,” she whispered. She hoped.
“Power out,” she texted to Dave.
“Yeah, me too,” he responded. “Sux. Guess I’ll go hibernate until it comes back on. Gonna get cold with no heat.”
And he was gone, just like that.
And then Courtney shivered. Cold with no heat. With no heat, how would she keep the pipes from freezing? In the kitchen above, she heard the refrigerator turn on. Why weren’t the rest of the lights coming on, too?
Then she remembered: Dad had wired their generator to come on automatically to run the refrigerator. She thought about calling Mom and Dad. They hadn’t been gone that long. Maybe they would come back. Besides, this was Mom’s conference. They had already talked about Mom going by herself and Dad staying behind. Maybe he could come back now.
She looked at her list of contacts, ready to push the button for Dad’s phone, but she shook her head. Sure, she was only in seventh grade, but that was pretty old. She could handle this on her own.
Outside, the wind howled. She must not have heard it over the movie’s volume, but it was raging. It pressed against the windows, making them creak. It lashed against the shutters and whipped through the trees. She remembered being a little kid, all wrapped in a comforter in bed and hearing these same noises. How comforting it had been all those years ago, wrapped up tight with Mom and Dad downstairs to protect her.
Now she was on her own. No one to protect her—and assigned to look after the dogs and the house. And all those chips on her shoulder.
She ran up to the kitchen. The faucet was still dripping. That’s right—water and phone lines were on a different system than electricity. She remembered Mom saying something about that. She pulled the faucet, making the stream of water more steady. Less chance of freezing that way.
But what about the plunging temperatures? A quick trip outside with the dogs proved that the wind was bringing with it a cold front, an arctic blast whose icy grip reached into the ground and into pipes and water lines and skin.
Courtney shuddered and hurried back inside. She touched the exterior kitchen wall. It felt cold. This was no good. She picked up her phone again, ready to call Dad.
But no. She could handle this on her own. If the refrigerator ran off the generator, then certainly a space heater could as well. Some of the sockets in the kitchen still had to be electrified. It was only a matter of finding which ones…
* * *
The next morning, she awoke to the sounds of dogs barking. They scampered happily down the stairs as Courtney sat up. Her sleeping bag pooled around her, and she looked up at the kitchen sink. It was still dripping. The space heater was still spinning, directed at the cabinet under the sink. She’d stayed up most of the night, checking the pipes and making sure the space heater wasn’t about to catch on fire. It was the most exhausting night she’d ever spent. She must have dozed off right around sunrise.
The clock on the microwave blinked, letting her know the power was back on. She looked up in time to see Dad coming into the kitchen.
“What happened?” he asked. “Did you sleep in the kitchen?”
Courtney rubbed her head and shrugged. “Power was out,” she said. “Had to keep the pipes from freezing.”
Dad helped her up, and she trudged upstairs to shower.
“I’m proud of you,” Dad called up the stairs, “working so hard to protect the house.”
“Yeah,” Courtney whispered to herself. “Be proud all you want. Being a grown-up stinks!”
Confessions of a Cowardly Corgi
By Yoda Corgi
I like to sit within my crate,
But only when I’m told to.
My sister goes in hers whenever—
But I’m not bold enough to.
If I want to nap inside my crate,
I’ll simply sit beside it
Until my person says “go in”
And gives a treat to eat inside it.
There are several things I like a lot—
And many, not at all.
If I wasn’t a Pembroke with a stub,
I’d even be afraid of my tail.
I’m afraid when my person kickboxes,
Even at 20 feet away!
And my sister loves stuffed toys a lot,
But they’re much too scary for play.
I’m terribly scared of sudden noises,
Like if someone coughs or sneezes.
And the hair on my butt stands on end
At the scents carried by soft breezes.
There’s a world out there that’s so unknown
Filled with frightening mysteries.
I prefer my house, my yard,
Familiar places and trees.
Ceramic ducks, aluminum foil,
And being pet too roughly,
Thunderstorms and fire alarms
Frighten me much too muchly!
But I’ll curl on your blanket
While you pet me to sleep
As my storing masks scary noises
That echo and creep—
Though I’ll warn you of intruders
With valiant, fearful bark—
Then I’ll love you forever
With all of my heart.
The loving and frightened Yoda Corgi is an inspiration for the main character, Raven, in Cora Cassidy and the Craven Corgi, now available at Amazon.com. The story is written in verse and is appropriate to be read aloud to younger children.
Leia: A Corgi
A princess in every sense:
I demand service in its appropriate time—
A time for petting,
A time for going outside,
For bathing (yes, I demand even that),
And if the appropriate service is not provided
At the appropriate time,
I bark sharply
Until you obey.
(And you will obey.)
I cry at the fast food window
Until the smell of goodies fills the car.
I growl at my brother,
Or the cavachon,
Or the poodle,
Or the squirrel or bird or mouse,
Or even the boxer that outweighs me by four.
I do bad things
And then make my face look so sad,
My stance so cuddly,
That no one can stay mad at me,
Not even for a second.
Through this behavior,
I make people smile.
And that is worth
Every pesky little quirk.
Leia the Corgi is the inspiration behind the character “Sapphie” in the Corgi Capers kidlit mystery series.
Book 3: Curtain Calls and Fire Halls has recently been released. Check it out to read up on the corgis’ latest adventures. You can also find a discount on the three-book set directly from the publisher!
Because we’ve been meeting new fur-iends lately and everyone might not know us, we decided to introduce ourselves. Our person, Val, is helping us with this post. She doesn’t want any nonsense from me (Leia).
My brother is sitting under the desk right now in what he calls his “cubicle.” He is afraid of everything, including keyboards, so I’ll be talking for the both of us.
So like I said, my name’s Leia Corgi. I’m the cutest of the corgis in this house. I was born in a liter of four—I was the only girl, and when my person found me, I was being picked on by my three brothers because I wouldn’t stop biting their ears. When my person sits at the computer, I sit right next to her in the extra office chair. Here I am, looking cute as ever:
We used to live in a townhome. We didn’t like it because it had too many stairs. The vet said that with our tiny little legs, we should avoid stairs as much as possible. But I’m Leia! So if there’s stairs, I’m gonna run up an’ down ‘em. We also had a tiny little yard. Our person got it fenced in for us, but it was no use chasing squirrels or birds. They made it past the fence before we could get to ‘em. Same for cats. There was this giant gray cat that used to visit us. She had a jingle bell on her collar, and whenever we heard it, we went nuts! But the cat knew we had a fence, and she would sit about six inches outside our fence and lick her paw while we barked and barked.
Our person told us we were in for a treat. We moved further out toward “the country” a year and a half ago. I got so much exercise running around there that the vet no longer tells my person to watch my weight. (Hmph! The nerve of that vet to talk about a girl’s weight!).
So we moved out here to the country. The best thing is when it snows. My brother and I love to play in the snow. In fact, I think snow might be the only thing my brother is not afraid of. Here’s a picture of me and Yoda in the snow. We hope it snows at least this much again this winter. Our person doesn’t agree.
At least I’m not a scaredy-dog. When we go for a ride in the car car car!, our person makes me sit in the back because I run from side to side and squeal the whole time. This terrifies Yoda, of course, and he jumps into the front seat and plops down in the passenger seat and stares and stares and stares at our person—as if she could protect him from me! Here is a picture of him cowering there in the car. Sad, isn’t it?
Anyway, Yoda is afraid of just about everything, but he’s especially afraid of me. Whenever our person lets us sleep on her chair with her, I have to make sure to push Yoda down to her feet. I try to sleep as close to her face as possible. Sometimes she yells as me and says something about my breath and makes me move away (my breath?! She’s almost as rude as our vet! How could she insult me like that?) Anyway, here’s a picture our other person snapped of me trying to sleep as close as possible to our person:
And speaking of scary, here is my favoritest picture of Yoda being afraid of me:
I’m a very smart dog, so I need a lot of distractions to keep me entertained. We used to have a hamster. It lived for two years and then died. My person got another hamster. It didn’t live the fully-anticipated two years, so our person said she was too sad to keep getting hamsters. But I loved them. I used to sit and watch them run around their little wheels for weeks at a time. The only thing better than a hamster would be a cat, but we can’t. Our person is allergic. How selfish!
Speaking of cats. In case you didn’t know, our person writes books about corgis. They’re called Corgi Capers, and we always get to be cover models. In the last book, she finally wrote about us being friends with a cat. You can see the cat on the cover. She looks just the like one that used to come torment us in our yard at the townhome. Here are the covers to the books:
She also wrote a book about a corgi that doesn’t look like us (the nerve!). It’s an illustrated book, and even though it doesn’t star us, it’s a good read. It’s about taking the time to enjoy each day and not to be afraid of everything (like my brother). It’s a lesson her parents taught her because she used to be afraid of lots of things—though not as many things as Yoda!
It’s now 4:34, and I was supposed to be fed at exactly 4:00, so I’m giving my person the “corgi eye stare” to let her know. So although there’s lots more I could tell you about myself, I’d rather go eat now. You should tell your person to feed you now, too! If you want to read more about me, you can check out the other blog posts here at www.corgicapers.com. I especially like the story “In Search of Winter.” It was written by Sapphie Corgi, the dog in Corgi Capers that’s mostly inspired by me.
Have a happy day, and I hope to talk to you again soon!
Leia Corgi (and, under the desk, Yoda, too!)
Launch Week Elements: Firefighters
Welcome back! I’m wrapping up my “launch week elements” feature, during which I’m highlighting elements from my newest book, Corgi Capers 3: Curtain Calls and Fire Halls, which is now available for purchase! You can find it at Amazon (ebook coming soon) and DWB’s publisher store for now (you can also buy a set of all three for one lower price!). Once I stock up on copies, I’ll offer autographed editions at my own store and send out copies to all the winners. Check out the contest below, in which one lucky person will win an autographed copy. I’ve decided to draw the names on Thursday because it’s my birthday, so you have a few days left to make sure you are entered 🙂
Today was scheduled to be my post about firefighters, and an interesting and timely thing happened yesterday that I’d like to share.
Yesterday at the high school where I teach, it was raining when the fire alarm sounded. The students and I all looked at each other. We all knew that planned fire drills are never conducted in the rain, especially rain as cold as it was yesterday. This was either someone playing a prank, a terrible mistake, or the real deal.
We hurried outside, everyone huddled together to stay warm in the rain. A moment later, a fire truck arrived, followed by several police cars, another engine, an ambulance, an SUV… phones emerged as students recorded the action. The second engine to arrive pulled up to the fire hydrant, attached the hose, and continued down the drive, the hose unraveling as the engine continued toward the area in question. Eyes bulged open. There might be a fire. The other engine was raising its ladder.
I wondered whether I had any dry clothes in my car—I figured, as long as this might take, I’d likely be soaked by the time we were allowed back in the building. I also wondered about the students. How terrible would it be to have to sit through classes wet and cold after standing and waiting in the rain?
I watched the efficiency with which the firefighters inspected the scene. They worked quickly with the administration to determine the location of the incident, and before long, the entire school was being directed back into the building through a prescribed route into the safety of the auditorium. We were told which hallways to avoid while the smoke was being cleared.
On the way in, the smell of smoke was strong and pungent. This was the real deal—an electrical fire? Although I do not have the full, official story, we were told that the fire department had to vent the smoke out of the building before we would be allowed back into the corridors.
As I stood there, monitoring students and watching their excitement and fear, it dawned on me that today was the release date for my novel having largely to do with firefighters, and here I was, seeing them in action. The bravery and dedication I hoped to capture in Corgi Capers had been right there, playing itself out in the firefighters who worked efficiently to quell the incident before it would have spread. In fact, the whole event is eerily reminiscent of a passage in chapter 2 of Corgi Capers: Curtain Calls and Fire Halls, in which a character named Spark, the daughter of a firefighter, recounts a time she discovered an electrical fire in her school:
“I’m in seventh grade,” she said. “My dad’s a firefighter here. He’s been teaching me about fire safety all my life, and after what happened last year, he thought I should start volunteering.” She smiled proudly.
“What happened last year?” asked Gavin.
“I was at a rehearsal for my middle school’s chorus concert, and I smelled something burning. Everyone else ignored it. Even the teacher thought it was just someone burning food in the cafeteria. But I insisted.” She crossed her arms and smiled. “I asked for a bathroom pass, but I snuck backstage instead. I saw a bunch of wires coming out from the wall and into the lighting control box. I smelled the smoke coming from that direction. I told the teacher right away. We had to evacuate the school, and when the firemen arrived, they said the wires were old and had overheated inside the walls. If I hadn’t insisted, they might have actually caught on fire. They ran a whole story about it in the newspaper.” She smiled. “My picture was on the front page.”
Spark emulates the passion her father has for being a protector, for saving others. I saw that passion in action yesterday.
Before the incident happened, I wanted to write my entire post about the concept of volunteer firefighters—how many dedicate their time to saving the lives of others, and how many of them are able to raise money from the community because of the important nature of their cause. With citizens paying taxes for all manner of services—some worthwhile and others questionable—it amazes me that one of the most important services, firefighting, is often paid for voluntarily, right out of the pockets of citizens. It’s a true testament to the heroic nature of the cause. For several years, I have been privileged to support one of the local fire companies in Adams County, Pennsylvania, and learn more about firefighting in the process.
Recently, I had the opportunity to talk to a local Virginia firefighter, and he explained just how important volunteers are to most fire companies—even ones partially funded by tax dollars. He explained the way shifts are divided up—and how most firefighters have other jobs outside of firefighting or have long shifts during which their families worry about their safe return. Knowing this, I was touched while watching the firefighters in action at my school. It put the concept of “having a bad day” into perspective. Just moments earlier, students were complaining about being tired, or having too much homework, or simply wanting Thanksgiving break to arrive. But seeing the efficiency of the firefighters made me realize that, like any life-saving professions, firefighters must block out any distractions and focus only on the task at hand. Lives and property depend on it.
As Thanksgiving approaches and students prepare for time away from school to sleep in and visit with family, I realize that we live in a world with brave and caring people who look out for each other and risk life and limb to make the world a better place. And that’s something to be thankful for all year ‘round.
Corgi Capers Book 3 Giveaway
Sign up to follow this blog via email (sign-up is toward the upper-right), and at the end of the week, I’ll randomly select a winner to receive a free copy of Corgi Capers: Curtain Calls and Fire Halls. Haven’t read the first two? The winner can choose one of the other Corgi Capers books instead.
Winner will be chosen on or shortly after November 17, 2014. The prize will be the winner’s choice of Corgi Capers 1, 2, or 3. Paperback copy available only to U.S. addresses. International winners will receive choice of ebook version instead. Void where prohibited.
I’ve already blogged about the winners of the Name that Cat contest (and about cats as well) and 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. Many characters volunteer and push beyond their comfort zones, learning to find the heart of a hero beating within, often taking inspiration from neighbors and the bravery of firefighters. Curious to learn more? You can view the trailer here. I’m pleased to be working with Yuming Cao to bring this bravery to life through illustration, and a new, illustrated corgi book will also be available soon.