Category Archives: inspiration

A Word from Leia the “Poop Monster”

My person called me a “poop monster” recently. The indignity, right?

See, last Friday night, my person and her person were having pizza. A corgi loves pizza. It’s food, isn’t it?

Demonstrating perfect begging form.

Demonstrating perfect begging form.

My silly person couldn’t finish all the pizza, and she left it there on the table. As if I didn’t know it was there. So what I did was, I jumped up and down like a kang-aroooo, and I kept doing that, and adding pathetic squeals, until my person said, “Okay, already. You can have a piece.”

So she took all the cheese off (how dare she!) and gave me some of the crust. It was so good that I kang-aroooed again, and she gave me some more. Before she knew it, she had gaved me almost all the pizza slice (except that my stupid brother got some, too).

I was so content that I curled up on her lap to take a nap until bedtime.

But before bedtime, my person woke me up and said, “Leia, you stink! Do you need to go out?”

Cold, dark, and snowy: the perfect time to play!

Cold, dark, and snowy: the perfect time to play!

It was not the Time to Go Out, but I will never say no to a romp around the yard, so I went out with her. But she didn’t want to play. She crossed her arms like I was supposed to be doing my business. But my person knows I already did my business for the day. How dare she!

What do you mean "time to do my business"?

What do you mean “time to do my business”?

She stayed out so long until she finally said, “Okay, I’m freezing.” And then we went to bed.

The next day, she came down and saw that I had made a mess in my crate. She (how dare she) said she had to get rubber cleaning gloves because I “slept in it,” and she had to carry me outside. She then complained about how cold it was out, and how the hose wasn’t hooked up and that she’d have to carry me back inside for a b-b-bath! The nerve of her! And she didn’t even feed me, either. Instead, she cleaned me with some stinky shampoo.

The indignities of bath-time.

The indignities of bath-time.

She even made me go to the vet when the poop wouldn’t stop coming. The vet said I didn’t have any parasites (of course I didn’t!) and that it just had to “run its course.” Whatever that means. I like to run, so whatever!

Here I am hiding at the vet's office. I figure, if I hide behind this chair, that pesky vet won't be able to find me.

Here I am hiding at the vet’s office. I figure, if I hide behind this chair, that pesky vet won’t be able to find me.

Turns out, “run its course” has nothing to do with running. Instead, it means being crated for like 20 hours a day! What’s a gal supposed to do being crated so long? Even being let out every three hours… the nerve!

All I had to do while in that crate was stare at my brother. He had to be in his crate, too “because of me.” Here are two funny stories about him.

First: my person had to cut my “butt fluff” the other day. She said she was tired of me squealing when she had to wash my butt fluff in the sink. I tried to tell her she didn’t have to wash my butt fluff—she could just leave it. But she insisted. So she took me outside with scissors and cut a little bit at a time. I squealed each time those scary scissors sliced together. I don’t like the noise they make.

So here’s the stupid part. My dumb brother always has to copy me (because I’m so amazing). So as soon as my person finished cutting my butt fluff, Yoda came running over and presented his rump for cutting! Can you believe the stupidity of that dog? So my person just shook her head and said, “Yoda, you don’t need a haircut. You aren’t sick.” You’d think Yoda would trot away, but instead, he just howled at my person.

So what she said was, she was going to pretend to cut Yoda’s butt fluff so that he wouldn’t feel left out. But here’s what happened: she opened the scissors up, and they made that scary slicing sound, and Yoda got so scared—with the scissors like a foot away from his butt—that he ran across the yard squealing.

He’s such a scared-y dog, and a goody-two-paws, too. Here’s why. After I stopped being sick, my person was still skeptical of my “poop situation” (the indignity!). So when I barked at 5:15 in the morning, she came right down to let me out. I wasn’t sick or anything, and she gave me some petting and food and then said she was “going back to bed.”

The nerve.

She put these baby gates at the bottom of the stairs and told us to “stay.”

As if.

I stayed for a little bit. In the past, I barreled through the gate, and the noise woke my person, and then I got yelled at and crated.

The time after that, I moved the gate ever so slowly, so my person didn’t even notice. When she woke up, I was sleeping in the hallway just outside her bedroom. She didn’t even know!

Sneaking-in-action.

Sneaking-in-action.

This time I was just as sneaky. Stealth-like, I moved the gate millimeter by millimeter until there was just enough of an opening for me to squeak by. I was being so quiet, not even jingling my collar. I made it to the upstairs hallway and then…

My pesky brother.

He loves to howl. He’s got about five hundred different kind of howls. There’s an excitement-howl, a fear-howl, a startled-howl, and greeting-howl, and worst of all, there’s a tattle-tale-howl. The tattle-tale-howl has been used time and time again to

Ruin

My

Day.

Which is what he was trying to do. He tattle-howled me, and my person got up right away. Without even looking, she knew it was a tattle-tale-howl. She called, “Leia, what have you done this time?”

She was onto me.

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And there I was standing in the hallway. What could I do? I ran down the stairway, but it was too late. She saw that I was still on the wrong side of the baby gate. And so I was in trouble.

I thought for sure it was the crate for me, but things worked out okay in the end.

My person said I was “too cute for my own good,” and she said she would stay downstairs with us so we could cuddle with her on the couch.

And that’s just what we did.

Me. Her. And even my pesky brother.

The best kind of cuddling is cuddling that prevents our person from being productive!

The best kind of cuddling is cuddling that prevents our person from being productive!

From the warmth of the couch, this is Leia the Poop Monster, signing off!

Chloe the Book Critic

Today I’m featuring a guest canine on my blog. She’s best known in the literary world as Chloe the Book Critic, and let me tell you: she’s the toughest critic I’ve ever met. She likes to try as many types of literature as possible, but writers beware: she eats what she doesn’t like.

And I haven’t met a book she likes yet!

She started out her early months as a critic of newspapers. It looks like perhaps she’s a fan of shopping because she left a few of the store circulars intact:

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Here we see her brother Buster, who is not a book critic, wondering how she could be so critical, even of the sports and weather section:

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It’s even been rumored that she devoured (quite literally, I’m sorry to say) a copy of Corgi Capers. In her most recent endeavors, she decided to critique a book her person had borrowed from a friend. Chloe only made it a few pages in before deciding the book was worthy of her harshest criticism:

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But who could stay mad at that face?

IMAG0442Chloe is a rescue; she used to be a racing greyhound, but at only three years old, she broke her toe, making her eligible for rescue status. She has a sweet personality and is even friends with the corgis. Since her rescue, she has healed, gained weight, learned how to play, and adjusted to life with her beloved brother Buster. She is well-loved by her human.

If you have written a book that you’d like reviewed or critiqued… don’t send it to Chloe!


I sometimes feature guest dogs on this dog blog. If you’re interested in featuring your pup, let’s chat: send me an email!

A Ruff Day

Today, we suffered the indignity of a visit to the vet. Hmph! Canine friends, have you ever been to such a place?

It starts out with your person saying “We’re going for a ride in the car!” But don’t be fooled. You’ll be driving along, wondering where the heck you get to go, and all of a sudden–bam! The scent of it’ll hit you like fresh shampoo from a bath. The vet! There is nothing quite like the smell of the vet. There’s the exciting smell of other animals, the intriguing smell of all the people who live in the vet building, and the yucky smell of mediciny-things.

And that’s just what we smelled today. Our person told us we were so wild we’d “sleep good tonight.” We sleep good every night, so we don’t know what she was talking about. She tried to get a picture of us “being excited.” Here’s how it came out:

vet16feb2015_007See, what happens is: when we get to the vet, our person doesn’t let us in right away. She makes weird hand gestures through the glass window at the people sitting behind a counter. Then she brings us in real quick-like. Other dogs get to go on the scale there near the counter, but we’re too special for that. What happens when we get to the vet is, they say “Oh, it’s Leia and Yoda. We’ll get you to your own room real quick.” Then they come around and open up our own very special room so we don’t have to wait in the waiting room with all the other dogs.

It’s nice to be special.

We don’t know why our person turns bright red and tells us we’re too loud and barky. She should be thanking us for letting her have the royal treatment. But instead, she always says confusing things like, “I wish you two would just behave” or “Quiet, Yoda.”

Anyway, what happens next is, we have to listen real careful-like. Here is a picture of us listening:

vet16feb2015_001What are we listening for? First of all, the person behind the desk keeps saying “hello” into that hand-held ringy thing. We can hear it even through the closed door of our own private room. Whenever we hear the word “hello,” it means someone has come into the room to greet us, so as soon as we hear it, we bark. Our person makes no sense. She usually responds by saying weird words like “Quiet” or “That’s just on TV. No one’s here.” What the heck does that even mean?

We heard the person behind the counter say “hello” quite a few times, and we were sure to bark each and every time–like good corgis should.

Then someone said “hello” right in our room. It was a person with a leash, and we knew she was coming to take us away. She always does. She always asks for Leia first, and Leia was on it! She ran between the two chairs in the room. It is the only place to hide in that room:

vet16feb2015_004But that lady was clever and saw Leia hiding there. She got her anyway.

What happens next is beyond the realm of dignity, so we aren’t going to write about it. But talk about being poked and prodded! Leia always makes sure she squeals bloody murder and kicks and squirms as much as possible. Just because we have to suffer indignities doesn’t mean we have to go down without a fight!

While this is happening, I–Yoda–get quite upset. It’s important that I listen to make sure my sister is squealing loud enough. It doesn’t matter that she probably woke up people in the next zipcode. I’ve got to listen. I even stop barking when the person out in the waiting room says “hello.” Here’s what it looks like to listen for your sister squealing:

vet16feb2015_008But because she’s so squirmy, my sister takes way too long getting prodded, and a dog can’t help but get sleepy, especially after the excitement of the morning:

vet16feb2015_006When my sister finally comes back, I know it’s my turn. How do I know? I have to sniff her real good. She smells like someone’s perfume and like mediciny-things. She’s extra squirmy when she gets back. I know I’m supposed to be a good dog and go with the person holding the leash, but I want to make my objections known. So I look at my person and ask with my sad eyes, “Really???” Maybe if I look at her hard enough, she won’t make me go.

vet16feb2015_005She says, “Yes, really, Yoda. You have to go. I’ll be right here waiting.”

In the meantime, my sister has been freaking out in the waiting room. While I’m being taken for blood work, she tries to tug at the leashes to drag our person home:

vet16feb2015_003

Come ON, person. Let’s get the heck out of here!

Of course, I know my person would never leave without me, no matter how demanding Leia is.

Once the vet has looked us over, we are ready to go. We’re still upset because the vet said, “Leia acts pretty typical for a corgi, based on what I’ve seen.” What does that mean? He should know better than to test the dignity of a corgi! Hmph!

But I digress.

Once our person lets us leave, we know our time at the vet is coming to an end, so we must be as loud as possible. If we should happen to see a ferret being dropped off for dental work, we should bark and howl at it. If we see a person dropping off a cat for daycare, we should growl.

And we do. How we do!

Why, oh why, does our person always take us to the car and then go back into the building, telling us she “has to pay” before we can go home?

Oh, she’ll pay alright. She’ll pay for making us go to the vet. We have it all worked out. After returning home, we have a plan:

1. Drink the entire bowl of water.

2. Spit up part of said bowl of water.

3. Drink up the part we spit up.

4. Act pathetic and clingy. Receive treat.

5. Take a nap. For about twelve seconds.

6. Run to door. Cry. Get let out.

7. Stand outside and do nothing. Refuse to come when called.

8. Come running when our person utters, “Treat!”

9. Take a nap.

10. Act pathetic and clingy again. Get petting and cuddles. Get treats from all members of the household.

11. Take another nap. Make it impossible for our person to be productive (ex: lick laptop, push laptop off of person’s lap, bark at random noises)

20150211_062408

That usually works pretty well, and our person doesn’t dare take us to the vet for about a whole year or so. You should totally try it.

Wishing you a vet-free day!

-Leia and Yoda Corgi

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

Meet the Corgis

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:

Leia curled up

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.

corgi action shot

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?

 

Yoda: Are you gonna protect me from my crazy sister?

Yoda: Are you gonna protect me from my crazy sister?

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:

Leia guarding Person

And speaking of scary, here is my favoritest picture of Yoda being afraid of me:

Yoda terrified

 

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:

CORGICAPERS1_VMULLER_FINAL

Corgi Capers Book 2: Coming Soon!

Corgi Capers 3 front coverShe 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!

The front cover, illustrated by the talented Yuming Coa.

The front cover, illustrated by the talented Yuming Cao.

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!

 

Love,

Leia Corgi (and, under the desk, Yoda, too!)

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.

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