Category Archives: corgi capers

Corgi Capers featured on Lu and Bean Read

corgi capers copy2As an English teacher, an avid reader, and a new mom, I was thrilled to discover a podcast run by two young girls named Lu and Bean–and their very organized mother. Each week, the girls talk about a book or books that they have read or are reading. Some of their shows even have excerpts from the authors reading the works.

I am honored that they featured me on one of their episodes. You can listen to or download the podcast here. (If you’re new to podcasts, you don’t need any special software to listen; a simple web brower will do).

by Marji Cooper

Illustration of Adam and Zeph by Marji Cooper

In the podcast, I share two of my favorite chapters from Corgi Capers book 1: Deceit on Dorset Drive. If you haven’t read the Corgi Capers series yet, you can find the books in paperback, or the ebook edition is only $2.99 by visiting the Amazon links below:

Corgi Capers book 1: Deceit on Dorset Drive

Corgi Capers book 2: The Sorceress of Stoney Brook

Corgi Capers book 3: Fire Halls and Curtain Calls

 

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Cold: A Courtney Short Story

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.

Cold

by Val Muller

“Don’t forget to leave the sink dripping,” Mom said.

Dad smiled. “Wouldn’t want the pipes to burst.”

CourtneyfinalCourtney smiled back. “Don’t worry. I’ll protect the house.”

“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.”

“Yes, Mom.”

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.

SapphieShe 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.”

ZephSapphie 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.

“What the—?”

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.

Leia the Corgi, inspiration for mischievous Corgi Capers star Sapphie.

Leia the Corgi, inspiration for mischievous Corgi Capers star Sapphie.

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!”


Corgi Capers 3 front coverCheck out Courtney’s latest adventures in Corgi Capers 3: Curtain Calls and Fire Halls. New to the series? The ebooks for books 1 and 2 are only $2.99.

Leia: A Corgi (in verse)

Leia: A Corgi

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A princess in every sense:

I demand service in its appropriate time—

A time for petting,

For feeding,

For waking,

For walking.

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A time for going outside,

For bathing (yes, I demand even that),

For cuddling,

For chewing.

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And if the appropriate service is not provided

At the appropriate time,

I bark sharply

And stare

And nudge

And whine

Until you obey.

(And you will obey.)

My person was "cleaning," so I thought I'd help sit on laundry that needed to be folded!

My person was “cleaning,” so I thought I’d help sit on laundry that needed to be folded!

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'm not allowed to sit on the stairs, so I hide behind the Christmas tree so no one can catch me doing it!

I’m not allowed to sit on the stairs, so I hide behind the Christmas tree so no one can catch me doing it!

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.

The person on the couch doesn't let me sleep on there. I snuck up while *he* was sleeping, and my eyes bulged every time he moved because I thought he was gonna yell at me!

The person on the couch doesn’t let me sleep on there. I snuck up while *he* was sleeping, and my eyes bulged every time he moved because I thought he was gonna yell at me! It was *so* worth it!

Through this behavior,

I make people smile.

And that is worth

Every pesky little quirk.

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Leia the Corgi is the inspiration behind the character “Sapphie” in the Corgi Capers kidlit mystery series.

corgi capers copy2

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!

Corgi Capers 3 front cover

Terror and Delight: A Tale of Two Christmases

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Check out our two new corgi releases, Corgi Capers: Curtain Calls and Fire Halls and Cora Cassidy and the Craven Corgi:

Corgi Capers 3 front cover

The front cover, illustrated by the talented Yuming Coa.

The front cover, illustrated by the talented Yuming Coa.

Launch Week Elements: Firefighters

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.

The fire department arrives within moments of the alarm. Photo courtesy of A. Wiley :)

The fire department arrives within moments of the alarm. Photo courtesy of A. Wiley 🙂

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.

Contest details:

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.

Related Posts

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.

It’s Launch Day!

Launch Week Elements: Nursing Home

Happy Monday! Corgi Capers 3: Curtain Calls and Fire Halls 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. 😉

Kindness is contagious: Leia and Yoda volunteering at the Lyme 5K.

Kindness is contagious: Leia and Yoda volunteering at the Lyme 5K.

As part of her redemption for playing a serious prank on Halloween (which you can read about in The Sorceress of Stoney Brook), Courtney is “asked” to volunteer at Willow Lakes, a nursing home and adult living facility in the fictional town of Stoney Brook, Pennsylvania. While at first she gripes about having to “volunteer” there and believes she has nothing in common with the elderly residents, she quickly makes a friend.

Just as being exposed to new neighbors opens her eyes to new perspectives, meeting old Mr. Grindle makes her realize that not everyone is as perfect as she perceives her brother to be. Like Courtney, when I was a child, I thought older generations were always “perfect,” and mine was the first group to break the rules. Of course, I learned otherwise, and so does Courtney: She thought she was a bad seed, but now she realizes that every person has flaws and assets. Her experiences at the nursing home are part of her character’s move toward redemption. Deep down, she never meant to play such a nefarious prank on her brother at Halloween; she simply followed along with what her friends suggested without fully thinking through the consequences.

The reason I chose a nursing home and adult living facility to be the site of Courtney’s redemption is partly in tribute to the nursing home and rehabilitation facility that took such great care of my grandmother. For the last few years of her life, my grandmother had several complicated health issues requiring her to receive around-the-clock care. The nursing home where she lived was warm and loving. During our visits, we made friends quickly with many of the residents, including my grandmother’s roommate and the amazing nurses who took care of them.

During our visits, I realized how much each resident appreciated the time we took to be with them. My dad, in particular, made friends with one of the residents. The two of them would joke around with each other every weekend. As a child, it was hard to believe a senior citizen could be as goofy and mischievous as my dad. And it’s probably no surprise that we brought our dog to visit with the residents—just like Courtney brings Sapphie. Little Chip brightened many days, with residents opening up with stories about their former beloved pets.

It’s been my experience in life that negativity is terribly contagious. But while I was at the nursing home, I saw how love and positivity could be just as contagious. The love in the eyes of the nurses as they interacted with the residents was unbelievable to me. More importantly, the love in the eyes of my grandmother as she told her favorite nurses that she loved them brought a smile to my face. In the nursing home, there was no need to bring negativity in. Holiday decorations were always fresh and colorful, events were always scheduled, and smiles always appeared on residents’ faces when visitors or nurses would stop in. When we visited my grandmother, we also “made the rounds,” taking her to visit with the other residents. Our conversation and our dog helped to spread joy to them as well. I always felt lighter leaving the facility than I’d felt coming in.

Corgi Capers 3 front coverI thought this would be an effective backdrop for Courtney as she realizes the power one person can have in improving the lives of others. It’s a theme I emphasized in Corgi Capers 3, and it’s a powerful concept I hope to help spread. As you go about your Monday, put a smile on your face—and see how “contagious” you can be 🙂

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.

Contest details:

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.

 

Related Posts

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. 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.

Launch Week Elements: Neighbors

Welcome to my launch week celebration! If you missed my other posts, you can find the links at the bottom of this page. Today, I’m writing about the influence and inspiration of neighbors in my life and my books.

In each of the three Corgi Capers books, Adam and Courtney have been influenced by their neighbors. In the first book, the neighbors (mostly) come together around the threat of a common serial burglar. In the second book, Adam fears his two new neighbors, thinking they’re witches. In the Curtain Calls and Fire Halls, Courtney finds long-lasting inspiration with the neighbors as one of them helps her to find the right path after the terrible decisions she made on Halloween.

I’ve always been fascinated with the concept of neighbors. As a child, neighbors were my first snapshot of the world’s size and scope. Like Adam, I (for a time) thought my neighbor was a witch. She was the kindest woman you could imagine, but her heavy Italian accent and old age made her voice difficult to understand. To a young child with an over-active imagination, those were all the ingredients needed to consider her a witch. But there was more: she grew lots of vegetables in her garden and cooked many things from scratch (she even shared these things with us). To a kid used to eating out of colored packaging, this was different and frightening.

But later, after they moved away (and I grew old enough to understand, not fear, differences in the world), I realized how amazing she had been. She had talents that were dwindling in the age of convenience. But it wasn’t just that one neighbor who inspired me.

Another collected shoes and clothing for church fundraiser sales. She often invited me (with my mother and sister) to browse the offerings. It felt like she had an entire store set up there in her basement. If left to my own imaginings, I never would have thought someone could collect other people’s trash and turn it into treasure. But the way she organized the shoes by size and color, the way she laid out the clothing—it was with such care that you felt like you were buying a slice of love along with a hand-me-down. She taught me that certain people possess a spark, a bit of magic, a blessing—a gift they use to help others.

I’ve had lots of amazing neighbors over the years (I moved around quite a bit), and there’s not room to write about them all—only to say that they’ve all left their mark on my memory and soul.

Over the years, I’ve had not-so-good neighbors, too, though I won’t write about them. Many of them, however, made me realize how much I have to be thankful for. Some earned my sympathy. Others earned only bitterness. But neighbors, to me as a writer, are an inspiration. They’re a constant reminder not only that people are different but that it takes all kinds of people to “make the world go ‘round.”

In writing Corgi Capers, I emphasize the importance of neighbors. Fifth grader Adam Hollinger is a sheltered boy. As he meets new people, he starts to see that there is not a narrow definition of “normal,” as he once thought. In book 3, his new friend Gavin opens Adam’s eyes to just how lucky Adam has been growing up. Courtney learns that all her neighbors aren’t as helpful as she would have liked. By learning how the actions of others affect them, Adam and Courtney start to live by the golden rule—opening their eyes to the ways their actions affect others.

Though a small element in my novel, I hope the interactions of my main characters with those around them inspire us all to take a closer look at our actions and the way we affect others. I can remember handfuls of times when an off-handed remark set my smile back several hours—or several days. Often, a sarcastic complaint by a teacher or an eye roll by a fellow classmate was all it took to cloud over a sun-shining day. Misery is contagious, but so is happiness. It just seems that sometimes happiness is more difficult to spread. In book 3, Courtney learns that happiness spreads almost as easily as gossip, only it feels a lot better!

Thanks for reading this post—and take the time today to spread a little bit of sunshine to just one other person. You never know what kind of a chain reaction you might be starting 🙂

 

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.

Contest details:

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.

Related Posts

I’ve already blogged about the winners of the Name that Cat contest (and about cats as well) 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. Many characters learn to find the heart of a hero beating within, often taking inspiration from neighbors. 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 this illustrated corgi book will also be available soon.

Launch Week Elements: Cats

Welcome to my launch week celebration! If you missed my other posts, you can find the links at the bottom of this page. Today, I’m writing about a new character in my novel: a feline.

I have never been a cat person—mainly because I am allergic. I’ve never met a dog who didn’t like me. Now cats—I’ve met some who insist on curling up on my lap until I sneeze. And to be honest, there’s nothing quite like that contented purring vibrating through my body as they sleep and keep me warm. But I’ve met others who hiss at me and even bite. During one of my house-hunting adventures, a cat darted out from a closet, jumped on the bed, and actually bit my arm. It didn’t draw blood, but it did scare me away from considering that house!

My earliest memory of a cat isn’t actually my own memory. It’s my mother telling me about a cat she had that she taught to play fetch: she had a little rubber ball, and she threw it up the stairs. Her cat would retrieve it and then chase it again. Strangely enough, this feline story actually made me want—you guessed it!—a dog. (A few years later, my begging resulted in a loveable little puppy.)

My next memory of cats—also doesn’t involve an actual cat. My parents had these salt and pepper shakers. They had these lids that lifted up in such a way that they looked somewhat like mouths (at least, they looked like mouths to an imaginative young girl). While waiting for dinner many nights, my sister and I played with the salt and pepper shakers, imagining that the pristine white salt was a cat and the speckled and aromatic pepper was a dog. My sister’s picky personality (which was somewhat cat-like during those early years) implanted itself onto that salt shaker, and I actually found myself slightly resentful of cats (again, without ever knowing one!). This was compounded by my mother explaining to us the truth about cats and dogs. My sister insisted that cats were really nice and sweet, and dogs were rough and mean. My mother told us that cats and dogs are all different. She did scare me by saying that a cat’s tongue is rough whereas a dog’s tongue is soft. I felt a little resentful—that cats could lure us in with their cute looks and then scratch us with their rough sandpaper tongues!

You might guess that my third memory of a cat doesn’t actually have to do with a cat, either. My sister had this beloved Halloween stuffed cat. I’m pretty sure it was named Blackie. She seemed to take it everywhere with her so that its fur looked well-worn by the end. Although I didn’t have any problem with her stuffed toy, and I did quite enjoy Halloween and the mystery surrounding black cats in October, my sister’s love of that cat pushed me to be different, to associate myself more with dogs than cats. If cats were going to be her identity, then dogs were going to be mine, dog-gone-it!

So you see, before I even got to have a real experience with a cat, I was already a dog lover.

When I finally did get to interact with cats—mostly babysitting—I found myself perplexed. Dogs get excited by all manner of words. Cookie, walk, leash, food, water—these words all seem to bring out a smile on a dog. But talking to a cat to me is like talking to an alien. With no eye contact and no reaction, I’m not sure cats even are about what I’m saying, let alone understand a word of it.

It was my own inability to communicate with cats that inspired me to add a feline to Corgi Capers 3. I knew at once that the best character to communicate with the cat would be tiny and wild Sapphie. With her inability to focus, Sapphie has her own communication problems. But we all have talents, and Sapphie’s just haven’t been discovered yet. When Zeph is terrified and perplexed by the strange mewing of the cat, Sapphie jumps right in with the ability to understand and empathize (in her own hilarious way, of course).

Drawn out to larger themes in the novel, I hoped to emphasize that we all have our own talents and—as the cliché goes—it takes all kinds to make the world go ‘round. I try to take time to understand multiple perspectives and see the world through other eyes just as my characters have done. I challenge you today to look at the world from a different perspective and see what inspiration may come your way.

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.

Contest details:

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.

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. Many characters learn to find the heart of a hero beating within. 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 this illustrated corgi book will also be available soon.

Launch Week Elements: The Heart of a Hero

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

With a little inspiration, we can all find a hero’s heart beating within.

Welcome back to my launch week celebration. If you missed my other posts, you can find the links at the bottom of this page. Today, I’d like to share my thoughts about being a hero.

In Corgi Capers 3, several characters examine what it takes to be a hero. On the lighter side, little Sapphie escapes to the woods, facing cold and danger to help a friend in need. Likewise, Adam and Zeph venture into uncomfortable territory to follow what is right. Zeph is enlisted to act in a middle school play with Courtney. His character is his complete opposite: a brave, outgoing pup who pushes boundaries every day. Through the story, Zeph keeps the inspiring character in mind, challenging himself to move out of his comfort zone to brighten the world.

Adam, like his dog, has been sheltered his whole life. But hanging out with his best friend Patrick and his new friend Gavin show him different perspectives, and for the first time, Adam considers what he might want to do “when he grows up.” As a volunteer at the local fire company, Adam realizes that ordinary people make sacrifices every day to make the world a better place.

And on a more serious note, Courtney starts to see the world from a broader perspective, growing out of the harmful hijinks she participated in during Halloween.

The common theme is that in some ways, each character has the heart of a hero. Like Adam, I grew up sheltered in many ways. It’s easy, given a comfortable life, to look beyond the struggles of fellow man. I’ve noticed, too, especially with social media and the prevalence of phones, how easy it is to become absorbed in one’s own world. In some ways, I fear we’re all losing the benefits of making good, old-fashioned human connections. Each of the main characters in Corgi Capers 3 grows in one way or another through his or her interactions with others. They all find themselves in new situations—often uncomfortable ones—but through the human connection they forge in these new circumstances, they learn and grow and become inspired.

Misery is contagious, but so is happiness. My characters have learned the benefits of spreading happiness, and it’s something I hope my readers will be inspired to do as well.

I’ve intentionally chosen Veterans’ Day to post about this element of Corgi Capers, and I’d like to thank all Veterans for their service to this country. It doesn’t need to be said that those serving in our armed forces do so with the heart of a hero and push themselves through situations that are more than uncomfortable. I have many veterans in my family, and I’ve seen only a fraction of the sacrifices they’ve made on our behalf. They are an inspiration to me. Today only, the first ten veterans of a US armed service to email me will receive an e-copy of Corgi Capers 1, 2, or 3, or The Scarred Letter or Faulkner’s Apprentice.

Thank you to all veterans today and every day. You have the heart of a hero.

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.

Contest details:

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.

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. Many characters learn to find the heart of a hero beating within. 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 this illustrated corgi book will also be available soon.

Launch Week Elements: Trailer

Happy Launch Week!

Corgi Capers 3 front coverThis is launch week for Corgi Capers 3: Curtain Calls and Fire Halls. Launching a book is always a combination of nerves and excitement, but this one is extra special to me. I’ve woven lots of heartfelt elements into this book to celebrate what has touched my life and the lives of so many others. To celebrate and share the passion I have for this book, I’ll be highlighting one element of the novel each day this week. 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. (Please see contest details below.)

 

For today, I’m excited to reveal the trailer for the book. If you haven’t already, check out the links below for other posts related to the book.

 

 

Contest details:

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. To enter, simply sign up to follow this blog via email. Valid email address required: winner will be contacted via the email address used to sign up to follow the Corgi Capers blog. If winner does not respond to notification within 48 hours, we reserve the right to choose a new winner. Void where prohibited.

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.

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