Category Archives: corgi
It’s been a while since I’ve blogged here, and I admit I’ve been remiss. With Leia and Yoda, and their two human siblings, things can get extra hectic, and spare time has been spent scratching dogs behind the ears rather than blogging.
But I have been writing. In addition to the weekly (free) flash fiction over at www.ValMuller.com, I’ve been working on Corgi Capers book 4.
The fourth installment of the Corgi Capers series opens on a quintessential Christmas morning. Things don’t stay peaceful for very long, but in that opening scene I wanted to capture what Christmas morning was to me as a child.
In the scene, Adam and Courtney are opening presents with puppies Zeph and Sapphie. Mom and Dad are in the room, of course, but are far removed from the Christmas magic of childhood. In the background, the song “Marshmallow World” is playing. (If you’re not familiar with the song, you can catch a version here, with lyrics: https://youtu.be/0ujM9wreqGQ).
The song, to me, embodies everything magical about Christmas. A red sun, “like a pumpkin head.” A friendly metaphor for snow—a world covered in marshmallows. The world as a snowball, a world meant for sweethearts. In that first scene, Adam and Courtney each receive a gift ripe with all the possibilities of Christmas. Their parents, while physically present, are not part of that magical world of childhood, and when Mom and Dad are whisked away onto a cruise, it’s up to Adam and Courtney to work a bit of Christmas magic on their own—during a blizzard.
I’m enjoying writing the novel and can’t wait until it’s released. My goal is to have it out in time for the holidays next year—right around November 1.
The way kids act at the holidays brings me full circle to corgis and the Corgi Capers series. Dogs, like children, always seem to see the magic in things that grownups are too tired to busy to notice. An annoying coating of snow for a grown-up may mean extra time to shovel or travel, but for a dog or a kid, it’s a chance to romp around, build forts, and snack on the tasty white treat. Christmas wrapping paper means extra time clearing the floor before being able to vacuum—if you’re a grown-up. For kids and dogs, it becomes a fantastic campsite, with colorful balled-up paper for throwing and lounging on.
I remember magical evenings as a child. Mom was in the kitchen cooking dinner, and the living room was darkened. I slid across the hardwood floor while The Nutcracker played on (I’m dating myself here) our sound system that still played records. The Christmas tree was lit, as was the orange glow of candles in the window and the rainbow glow of a glass pine tree on the end table. The colorful glow in the darkness held every magical possibility to me, and the whole thing felt surreal. Sugarplum fairies and Christmas elves could emerge at any second. That would have been just as believable as my mother entering the room. I could hardly believe, entering the kitchen and its bright lights and normal dinner, that I had been on the same planet in those few moments before dinner.
That’s the magic of the holidays, and it’s something kids and pets often hold all year round. No matter your age, I hope you’ve found some magic of your own.
Happy new year 😉
To celebrate the new year, I am giving away two of my other novels: Faulkner’s Apprentice and The Scarred Letter. To enter, use the easy Rafflecopter form/link below:
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!
The morning was going relatively smoothly. The toddler, who now tries to “help” feed the corgis, had not tried to eat any dog food this morning. She had also refrained from playing “witch’s cauldron” with the corgis’ water.
The corgis had not gone off chasing early-morning deer, nor was the neighbor’s half-corgi out to start a barking war at 6 a.m. And Leia had even refrained from rolling in the tempting scent of whatever was using the space under the pine tree as a pooping ground.
I’d even packed my lunch, full of freshly-cut fruit and vegetables. I filled my water bottle and glanced at the clock. It was only 6:39.
All in all, a good morning!
I still had time for—could it be?—breakfast! I set the toddler down at her play kitchen. She seemed content drinking her milk while dancing to the alphabet song that plays each and every time she presses the stove button.
A, B, C, D, E, F, G…
A, B, C, D….
A, B, C…
The song rang aloud as in my head as I sang to myself about the possibilities of breakfast.
A, B, C, D….
A bagel, banana, perhaps a yogurt?
A, B, C, E, F, G, H, I….
A breakfast sandwich in the freezer… Or, dare I sit down to a bowl of cereal?…
The possibilities seemed as endless as the repetition of the alphabet song.
I glanced in the pantry and noticed Yoda watching me shyly from the living room. He usually sleeps on the kitchen rug near the kitchen sink. Why was he cowering in the living room? I looked at Leia, normally the source of his terror. But she wasn’t being her normal menacing self. In fact, she seemed to be cowering, too. A moment more of extended eye contact, and she whined, then backed up a few paces toward Yoda.
Something was going on.
Thoughts of breakfast faded and I grabbed the toddler to examine the living room.
And there it was.
Three bright red streaks on the beige carpet.
I first checked the toddler. No blood. Of course not. I would have noticed.
But this was a lot of blood. Wouldn’t I have noticed if one of the corgis was bleeding that much?
“Corgis, outside now!” I urged. Something in my voice made them move especially efficiently. I shoed them out onto the deck and shut the glass door, glancing for traces of blood.
Earlier in the season, I’d discovered something had tunneled underneath our patio. And the night before, there had been a huge opossum hiding behind our grill. (I mean huge: larger than Leia, it seemed. We’re talking Rodents-of-Unusual-Size-from-The-Princess-Bride-huge). I didn’t know much about opossums, but I wondered: would they attack if provoked? And how was it that all morning I didn’t notice an injury on either corgi capable of producing that much blood?
Or another option: had Leia caught another mouse? She is more persistent, if not clumsier, than a cat, and has caught her share of mice. Could that red streak be… I shivered at the possibility, especially imagining what might happen if the toddler got her hands on a mouse corpse.
Since the corgis seemed content outside, I hurried to clean up the blood, before the stain had a chance to set. While I cleaned, I let my mind work. Did I have time to run the injured corgi to the vet before work? Should I collect a sample of the blood?
As I cleaned, I noticed that the stain came right up—not typical of blood-on-carpet-experiences of the past. It also smelled kind of fruity. My sleepy mind meandered around logic. Could it be diarrhea? Maybe one of the corgis had some bathroom issues and then wiped themselves on the carpet after coming in…
I wrapped the toddler in a blanket and went outside to investigate. The corgis were still sitting on the deck (looking at me rather strangely), and their piles of poop were as normal as ever there in the back yard.
I came inside and gave them an extra treat, an attempt to convince them I wasn’t losing it. I then called my husband. The night before, he’d run our automatic vacuum robot, and I wondered if maybe the vacuum had dragged something red across the carpet.
“Hey, what’s red and squishy and may have left a streak on the carpet?” I asked.
I could hear his eyebrow raise.
“I don’t think it’s blood,” I added.
He sighed. “Weren’t you cutting up strawberries this morning?”
“Right! Thanks!” I ended the conversation, relieved. Of course I’d been cutting up strawberries, and I’d given a little slice to each of the corgis. Leia, as usual, devoured hers immediately. But Yoda does this thing.
Whenever anyone gives Yoda a treat, whether it’s a bit of meat, a piece of fruit or vegetable, or a cookie or rawhide, he trots off with it, his paws clicking on the kitchen floor as he prances away with his treasure. He drops the delight in front of the two stairs that form a landing in the living room. I remember when we moved into the house, the literal first thing Yoda did was run into the living room and rub his back against those two stairs. Since that first day, the side of the bottom stair has been crusted with dog hair: it’s his altar and his friend, his favorite square foot of the house.
He repeats the motion anytime he gets food, only instead of rubbing his back against the stair, he places the food in front of the stair and rubs his back and neck on the food.
“Yoda,” I called. Yoda approached, hesitantly.
He obeyed my command, and I looked carefully in the black fur of his tricolored coat. Sure enough, there at the neck, was a tiny speck of sweet-smelling strawberry juice, evidence of his early morning adventure with a strawberry treat and reassurance to his frazzled corgi-mom that all was indeed right with the world.
At least for the rest of the morning.
I am happy to share that my story, “Making a Family,” appeared in a recent edition of Chicken Soup for the Soul. It’s the story of my childhood dog, Chip, and the way he influenced our family–even those of us thought to have a heart of stone.
Chicken Soup has recently made my story available to read for free. You can click here to read all about Chip and the way he changed my family.
My publisher, Barking Rain Press, has made all of the company’s ebooks available for just $1.99 from now until July 10. If you love dogs, check out Seven Days to Goodbye by Sheri Levy, a novel about a therapy dog in training. You can also check out my young adult novel, The Scarred Letter, or dozens of other titles.
When I was a kid, one of my favorite books was called Four Puppies (I found a few copies available on Amazon.com here). At that age, I loved the changing weather and enjoyed watching the four puppies learn not to mourn the loss of each season.
Recently, however, I remember having a conversation with someone: we both agreed that each season offers something more to look forward to in terms of what follows—except for autumn. Winter offers the promise of spring, of melting snow and blooming flowers. Spring offers the promise of endless and carefree summer days, of wind whispering through leafy trees and painting patterns of light and shadow on the lawn. Summer offers the promise of cooler autumn days, of blazing foliage and cozy harvests. I personally never look forward to the cold, crippling snow of winter.
For my corgis, Leia and Yoda, their “looking forward” is a bit different than mine. For them, summer still offers the promise of a respite from heat (as well as all the awesome smells of autumn’s decaying leaves); autumn promises the fun of a crisp snow (Yoda could sit in snow for hours!); and winter offers the promise of melting snow, smelly mud (for mud baths!), critters emerging from winter hiding (all the smells!); but spring offers only the promise of weather that’s too hot for my corgis to enjoy. Indeed, I could never convince my corgis to enjoy water, whether a large body of water, a little wading pool, or a squirt from the hose. They’d much rather hang out inside, where they take turns napping on the prime kitchen vent, through which the cool air conditioning brings their heavy coats to a more tolerable temperature.
I never understood why they feared water so much. If only they gave it another try, maybe they’d see what they were missing. It’s the same way I feel about a certain relative of mine (ahem!) who refuses to try seafood of any sort. If only she would give it an honest try, she would likely see what she’s been missing. (I can’t believe she gives up the opportunity to have bacon-wrapped scallops every Christmas!)
My dad always told me, “A coward dies a thousand deaths; a brave man dies just one.” Although I knew what he meant, even I was hesitant to take chances, especially in my younger days. I preferred the familiar. And it’s true—we mostly regret the things we didn’t do, not the things we tried.
It’s a lesson I wish Yoda would learn (for a growing list of things he’s afraid of, check here). In Cora Cassidy and the Craven Corgi, a book I based largely off of Yoda, I write of a corgi who is afraid of, well, almost everything; and his owner, the opposite, looks forward to each new experience.
In celebration of the changeover to spring, my publisher is offering the book from now until March 31 for only $10, shipped! You can purchase here for the special $10 promotion.
I just happened upon a news story about a dog that was presumed dead for weeks–found safe and sound.
It’s a timely reminder about the importance of hope, even if a situation seems rife with despair.
In the nine months leading up to the birth of our daughter, we noticed that Yoda seemed drawn to my belly, and the baby seemed to love kicking him from inside. In fact, Yoda used to move his head from side to side on my stomach, and the baby’s kicks seemed to follow.
I thought he would be fast friends with the baby from the moment she came home. But that was not the case. After a traumatic few days leading up to his human sister’s birth, Yoda seemed terrified of the Six-Pound Terror.
At first, Yoda would barely stay in the same room as the baby. He preferred hiding in corners and darkness.
In a time that should be filled only with joy, I felt a little sad. Yoda, my favorite buddy, my best friend, was afraid to be in the same room with me. I didn’t think things would ever be the same with him, and I wondered if Yoda would ever be happy again.
And it continued to be a sad situation. Literally, all the baby did for weeks was–sleep. How, I wondered, could that be so horribly terrifying to a dog five times her weight? I researched tips on how to introduce dog and baby, but nothing seemed to work. I wondered if I’d ever get my old Yoda back.
But as the weeks (yes, weeks) passed, he snuck closer and closer to the little “terror.”
But as soon as her little baby arm would flail anywhere near him, Yoda scattered to the corners of the house. Until one day, when all hope seemed lost…
One of the smoke detectors upstairs had just started chirping, and I decided I would fix it later. I was tired from sleepless newborn baby nights and sad at Yoda’s lack of affection toward the baby (and, by extension, me, since baby was practically attached to me for those few weeks).
Of course, there’s no noise more frightening to my corgis than a chirping smoke detector. I have no idea why. The actual smoke alarm went off twice in our house, and the corgis didn’t react one bit. But the little chirping sends them into a frenzy. They tremble for hours afterward and hide in the basement or whatever dark corner they can find. And if they can find me, they hide on me, too.
So of course as I was sitting there with the baby, the two corgis come barreling down the stairs to find me on the couch in front of the fire. Leia took a leaping run to my right, sitting so she was touching my leg but not touching the baby. Yoda took a running leap to my left and soon found himself touching–dun, dun, dun!–the baby’s foot!
But the chirping smoke detector is exponentially more terrifying to the world’s scarediest fraidy-dog that he took no heed of the baby, instead drawing comfort from the physical contact. When the dogs settled down many moments later, Yoda realized he was touching the baby. I saw the realization come into his eyes, and I fully expected him to scatter.
But he didn’t. Instead, he sniffed the breath coming from the softly-sleeping child. Then he curled up, allowing his paw to touch her foot. I didn’t want to move or make a big deal out of it, lest the progress fall by the wayside.
But the next day, when the smoke detector was well fixed, I asked Yoda to “sit.” I wanted to hold the baby on him so that she’d be sitting on his fairy saddle. I would be right there in case anything happened, and maybe Yoda would take comfort in that. And, finally, an entire month into the baby’s existence, Yoda made his peace.
Now, one of his favorite things to do is a game called “get petting from the baby.” Yoda, the gentle “giant” (well, compared to a tiny baby, anyway), allows her to grab his ears, eyelid, fur, you name it… I think she may grow to be his new favorite person in the world.
And as long as the two of them are happy, that’s a title I’m willing to give up–for the both of them.
All three Corgi Capers books are now out for Kindle! They’re part of the Kindle lending library, so if you are subscriber, you can read them for free. If you’ve bought the paperbacks from Amazon, you’re also entitled to a free copy of the corresponding Kindle edition. Haven’t read them yet? They’re only $2.99 each and available here:
Authors love book reviews! If you review (or have reviewed) any of the Corgi Capers books, email me the link to your Amazon.com review, and I will send you a coupon code for a free Kindle version of the next book in the series!
May there always be food for you to mooch,
Always a warm bed fit for a pooch,
Always a human to hold you tight
In the darkness of winter and blackness of night.
May there always be squirrels for you to chase,
A bird in the garden, or a kitty to race,
And always a smile and wiggly tail
Because you love everything–and are grateful for it all!
Love life like we do, be always amazed
And thankful for each moment for the rest of your days!
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!
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 your dog is anything like mine, you may notice a personality change in direct proportion to the level of stinkiness. My corgis are so sweet and cuddly when they’re clean, and then the dirtier they get, the more wild they become.
Had a b-b-b-bath last night.
Even the bedding was washed.
Fur smooth, scent fresh.
Must not allow this to happen again.
Person was very cuddly today.
Kept complimenting my smell.
Received two extra treats.
Bedding fluffy and comfortable. I awoke well-rested.
Maybe baths not so bad.
Tired of cuddling.
Bed too clean.
Went exploring Yard while Person distracted.
Found pile of dark brown Stink.
Thinking either skunk or raccoon.
Will investigate further for consumption.
Went back to Stink pile.
Started to eat it.
Was stopped by Person.
Rubbed nose against Stink while Person wasn’t looking.
Jumped into Crate, rubbed snout on blanket to save Scent.
Will have a good night.
Person asked, “What’s that smell?”, took out trash, seems content for now.
Found several more Gooey Blobs in Yard.
Person has been watching too closely.
Could not investigate further.
Fur has developed lovely patina.
Life is good.
Person would not come Outside with me.
Rubbed in Muck but Scent was wiped away by Rain and Towel.
Will try again tomorrow.
Rain made Muck perfect consistency.
Dashed outside despite Person’s warnings.
Was yelled at.
Smell like Muck.
I find this somehow exciting.
Had a b-b-b-bath last night.
Even the bedding was washed.
Fur smooth, scent fresh.
Must not allow this to happen again.