Category Archives: holiday
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:
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!
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!
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.
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 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.
Today is May Fourth, as in “May the Fourth be with you,” as in, “Happy Star Wars Day!”
Understandably, Star Wars Day is a special day for Leia and Yoda Corgi. When we first brought the corgis home, we thought about what to name them. As a writer and English teacher, I had already told myself that when I got a dog, I would name him after an author or a famous literary character. Chaucer was at the top of my list.
But when we saw our little corgi pup, his ears were so large (they were already sticking straight up when we got him) that he reminded us of Yoda from Star Wars. The name stuck immediately.
Since we adopted a sister and brother, we decided we needed a female name for Yoda’s sister. I thought about Princess Leia’s famous hairdo, the one with two braids wrapped at the sides of her head. The puppy had also been acting like a princess from the moment we got her, so Princess Leia sounded perfect (though to prevent her from having a superiority complex, we just call her “Leia” for short).
When I wrote Corgi Capers, I wanted to name the corgis in a similar fashion, after famous characters that my protagonist, Adam Hollinger, was fond of. Because of both my desire to avoid copyright issues and to “make it my own,” I decided to create a fictional famous outer-space comic book series that Adam could draw from to name his pups.
In Corgi Capers, the pups are named Zeph and Princess Sapphie (but just “Sapphie” for short—Sapphie doesn’t need a superiority complex, either). Zeph is loyal and intelligent just like his namesake. Logan Zephyr is a fearless space commander who leads his crew, the Stellar Squadron, around the universe in search of adventure. Though Zeph the puppy is often fearful, he tries hard to live up to the bravery of his namesake, displaying courage even when he’s trembling inside.
During one of his adventures, explorer Logan Zephyr comes upon a strange planet covered in quicksand. Underneath the quicksand is the beautiful Sapphire Kingdom inhabited by a princess named Princess Sapphire. Instead of being forthcoming about the fact that she is lonely and trapped on her isolated planet, she uses deceit and flattery to lure the explorers to her, and she uses treachery to try to trap them. Though she is beautiful and kind, she has a dark side. Adam decided this would be a perfect name for Zeph’s rambunctious sister, who is sweet when she wants to be but likes to dominate any situation and prefers using tricks than brains simply because it’s more fun.
Each May the Fourth, I’m reminded of the corgis’ “gotcha day” and the fun we had in naming them and introducing them to their new home. Since then, each day has been a new adventure, and I’m glad the corgis are along for the ride.
Tomorrow, we have a special guest post about naming dogs from awesome author C. Hope Clark. Stay tuned!
My person has been complaining lately about a thing called “winter.” It sounded like it might be good to eat, so I searched all over for it—the kitchen, the pantry, and even the compost heap outside, which was covered up in snow. But I couldn’t find winter anywhere. I got so mad, mad, mad that I ran around the house until I found my brother. Then I bit his ears. Biting Zeph’s ears always calms me down.
Zeph was no fun, as usual, and told me to stop. Like that was going to happen! But then I remembered that Zeph knows just about every word in the world, so I told him I’d stop biting his ears if he told me what “winter” was. He answered right away.
He said winter was the cold and snow and white skies and swirling sleet. I growled a little.
“Give me one,” I said.
“One what?” Zeph asked.
“One winter. No, make that two winters. Give me two winters. Mine and yours. I want to take them into my bed and eat them.” I always took treats into my bed and ate them. I usually steal Zeph’s treats, too. What’s his is mine, after all. Then I remembered Zeph was taking too long giving me his winter, so I snarled a little and said, “Give me your winter. Now, now, now!”
But I’d heard enough. “Where are you hiding winter?” I growled.
“I’m not hiding it, Sapphie, I—” But as he spoke, he glanced outside. He’s not a very good liar, and I knew he’d hidden winter in the yard. I’d have to go out and look for it, I decided as I bit his ear again. Only… finding winter might have to wait a while. Digging is hard to do when there’s so much snow on the ground!
Leia and Yoda here. We are kind of scared, so we decided to write this blog post together.
You see, our person has been…acting weird. And who ya calling scared, brother?
Let me tell it, Leia.
See, our person has been acting weird. She brought home these things. They smelled like corgi toys, but they weren’t to be played with.
They were, were, were! I was about to chew on the–
No, Leia, they weren’t. They were to be… worn.
You see, Yoda doesn’t like to wear anything. Whenever I wear a Doritos bag on top of my head, he runs away and hides. Or when I wear a mud scarf around my neck and then get to wear shampoo and water… Anyway, as soon as I saw what our person brought, I knew I wanted to wear it right away. I growled at Yoda so he’d know I was claiming it: I wanted to wear the green costume.
Yes, she did. But our person told us that the green costume was for me. But it was too…scary!
Yoda, you’re not very smart. That costume is called a Yoda Costume. That’s why you were supposed to wear it.
But…but…it covered my…ears.
We couldn’t even try to get the coat on you. You were too scared. But not me. I thought it was fun, fun, fun!
There’s nothing scarier than my ears being covered.
What about foil?
Or knocking on a door?
Your reflection in a window?
Or crinkly dog toys?
That costume was NOT the scariest thing of all. See how pretty I look in it?
Glad you liked it, then. I thought it was pretty scary.
But you were jealous, too. You were jealous when our person started taking pictures of me. You wanted to join in the fun. See, here’s a picture of you trying to sneak into MY photo session!
But she said if you were gonna be in the picture, you had to be wearing a costume.
So then she put the cowgirl hat on you.
CowBOY hat, you mean.
Ha! No. Cow. GIRL. Hat. It was pink. See?
Everything i have is pink. My pink skull collar. My leash.
So, that hat was supposed to be for me.
It’s okay. I know that hat is mine just like the Yoda costume is mine, and both our dishes are mine, and all our toys are mine.
After all, you were scared of the hat, too.
Don’t lie, Yoda. I can see in this picture how you can barely hold your head up.
That’s because, um, that hat is, um… heavy.
Heavy, my left paw!
I don’t think so. Your head was drooping like that because you were scared, scared, scared!
And then our person started laughing and felt sorry for you. She took off that hat and put that stupid pumpkin shirt on you. At least your ears stood up for the picture, but I know you were scared.
How do you know?
When our person told you to sit up on the stairs for the picture, you wouldn’t move.
What do you mean?
You just sat there frozen, like you couldn’t move in that shirt.
I couldn’t! My muscles froze solid. That shirt is haunted.
It’s not, Yoda. You’re just a scaredy dog. I can’t believe our person had to LIFT you up onto the stairs while you were wearing that shirt.
Well, at least this Howl-o-ween thing is over.
Hate to tell you, brother, but it’s not over yet. And after that there are the holidays. You remember, when our people put up the–
Don’t say it!
And they tear open wrapped gifts.
And give you all kinds of new toys that you’re terrified of.
No! We have enough of those.
Maybe YOU have enough, but I can never get enough of those squeaky–
Yoda? Yoda, where did you go?
Oh, I see. At the mention of “toys,” Yoda has fled the scene. He’s probably hiding in his little house. Ha! While he’s away, here is a picture of him last holiday season. Our people were putting a tree inside our house, and he was watching from a far distance.
I was so close, they kept stepping on me. I can’t think of anything more fun, fun, fun! And speaking of scaredy dogs, here is a picture of a corgi-lantern our person made. It’s based on the most cowardly corgi in the universe, aka my brother.
Well, until next time, Leia Corgi signing out. Oh, and remember to send me those peanut butter treats!
So, there’s this really scary thing… the Big Scary. It glows, and it’s big, and it has these scary shiny things all over it, and it seems like it never goes away!
I don’t understand. It looks like a tree, but it isn’t real, and I certainly can’t pee on it (I’m much too scared to even try). Almost as scary are all the big plastic tubs that emerge when the Big Scary comes. One of them smells like pine cones, and another smells like cinnamon. And they have these frightening jingly things in them. I hate when my Person takes out the boxes. The only thing they’re good for is hiding behind. But they don’t stay out as long as the Big Scary. And when the boxes go away, I have nowhere to hide.
Which is what I do pretty much the whole time my person is decorating the Big Scary.
Even worse is the fact that my sister likes to explore the Big Scary. She’s always nosing around the packages underneath. Often she gets yelled at for knocking round shiny things off the Big Scary. And when she gets yelled at, I’m the one who gets upset. She tells me that one of the packages under the Big Scary smells like bacon treats, but I don’t buy that at all. But since I’m her big brother, I have to watch her and make sure she’s okay… as much as it terrifies me. So I watch her from on top of the stairs. I just keep real quiet, though. That way the Big Scary can’t hear me. My Person tells me I need to relax, but I don’t understand how anyone can be relaxed with a Big Scary decorating their living room!
Last year, the Big Scary eventually went away. But it took a long, long time. Maybe if I keep watching it, I can make it leave. Until then, we’ll all just have to be careful. Seasons Greetings, and I hope you never wake to find a Big Scary in your house.
Editor’s Note: Yoda is the kind-hearted, but hesitant, corgi inspiration behind the character Zeph in the Corgi Capers mystery series.