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Corgi Capers Updates

The Corgi Move: An Update

Since I last checked in, the corgis were getting adjusted to their new home. Now that they’ve had time to settle in, here is an update.

First, the corgis finally seem like they know this is “home.” It took a while—it was at least two months before they would actually sleep in their beds. Here they are in the bed in my writing office:

corgis in bed

Prior to that, they had to be glued to my feet during every waking hour. Still, they don’t like being alone when I’m home. Every weekend, they wake me up earlier than I get up during the week—just to be able to sleep while I’m downstairs with them. (Either that, or they’re trying to tell me I should be up writing rather than sleeping!). Here’s a picture of Leia just moments after crying pathetically to get me out of bed:

"I wasn't ready to wake up yet. I just didn't want to sleep without you!"

“I wasn’t ready to wake up yet. I just didn’t want to sleep without you!”

Secondly, Yoda, the fraidy-dog, is still—well, afraid. He’s not super bright, and he’s gotten “lost” a few times in the house. We have a double stairway—a front staircase and a back one. Yoda has a habit of sneaking into the dining room, which is gated off on only one door. He sits at the gate, staring into the kitchen, and acts forlorn that he cannot get through the gate. His sister has to run around the long way and “get” him for me.

The other day, he snuck into the dining room, couldn’t figure out how to get back, and ended up going up one staircase, getting “lost” in the upstairs hallway, barking his “distress bark,” and finally finding his way down the back staircase. The house isn’t that big, but like I said—Yoda is good, but not too bright. His favorite activities in the new house include sniffing all the air vents in the floors and rolling his back against the bottom stair in the family room.

There are a few empty boxes I’ve saved because the corgis still love to sleep in them. Here’s a picture of them after a long, hard morning of chasing the green laser around:

"We have a tough life!"

“We have a tough life!”

Leia, on the other hand, has been more mischievous. She is giving Corgi Capers character Sapphie a run for her money. Slowly, Leia has been sneaking upstairs (they aren’t allowed on the second floor of the house to prevent back injuries from excessive stair use) to “mark” each of the rooms upstairs. She only has two left to “mark.” The thing is, she knows she isn’t supposed to pee on the floor, and as soon as she does it, she runs down and claws at me, crying, so that I know she was bad. I guess the dogs that used to live in this house have left their scents, and it must be driving Leia crazy.

One of Leia’s favorite activities is to visit with the frogs and toads that frequent our patio once the sun goes down. Here’s a picture of her with the largest of her buddies:

leia and frog

Their invisible fence training is going well. Scared-y Yoda is terrified of the “warning beep” made by the fence, and he won’t go even halfway to the edge of his boundary. If I go too far, he turns his back to me, sits, and stares at the house. Out of sight, out of mind, I suppose. Leia will test the boundaries all the way up to the “zap.” The beeping warning does not compute in her mind—she doesn’t associate it with the zap. And she has allowed herself to be zapped a few times to chase a deer or two. She seems to be calming down now.

Lots of fodder for Corgi Capers book 3, which is in the works. Because I’m slightly behind schedule, I’m leaving my “name that cat contest” open for a bit longer. Be part of Corgi Capers history and name a human or feline character:

Speaking of which—to encourage more readers to post reviews, I am offering a free Kindle copy of Corgi Capers book 2 for anyone who posts a review of Corgi Capers book 1 on Amazon. To receive your free book, simply email me the URL of your review, using the email address you use to shop on Amazon. I’ll send you a copy of Corgi Capers book 2 in hopes that if you enjoy it, you’ll leave a review for that book as well.


Thanks for reading. Stay cool, and stay corgi!

The Moving Chronicles: Part 4

It’s been over a month since the move, and the corgis have been settling in slowly. When we first moved in, they were on their very best behavior. Here is a picture of them on the very first morning in the new house. They had been there but ten minutes and already seemed to know they were not allowed upstairs, just like in the townhome.

Seemed is a key word.

At the vet’s recommendation, we try to limit the amount of stairs the corgis conquer each day (because of potential back problems—their father broke his leg and injured his back doing the corgi version of acrobatics). When I went upstairs to unpack some boxes, they stayed without any physical restraint, patiently waiting for me to return.

no stairs

We are being good dogs!

It wasn’t a day later that Leia was doing laps around the house, up one staircase and down the next. Yoda, good as always, stayed put. We soon acquired three child safety gates to keep her downstairs during the move.

Next, the sleeping arrangements. At the old house, the corgis had a very large, open kitchen that could be easily gated from the rest of the house via a large safety gate. The floor, vinyl, was easily cleaned, and Leia’s slopping around in the water dish (she dips her paws while she drinks if we’re not watching) didn’t cause any problems. Because the new house has a very different layout, there was no large, cleanable space available. The only choices: crate the corgis or let them have the run of (most of) the downstairs floor.

We decided to trust them, and for three nights, they proved that they would sleep all night in their beds, spend time when people were away in the kitchen, and not go on furniture or anywhere else they weren’t allowed.

Or so I thought.

One morning, I decided to sneak downstairs quickly and snap a picture before the dogs had time to react. Note that each morning, Leia had been sleeping next to her brother, either on the floor or in her dog bed. But here is what the picture proved:


Yes, Leia is a sneak. She had been sleeping on the couch and jumping off when she heard me getting ready upstairs. You would think the solution would be to crate them at night, but no–as cute as they are, the solution was just to make sure I covered the couch really well with the blanket next time 🙂

For a few days, the corgis enjoyed the new house without incident (unless you count Leia puking twice on the nice, stainless carpets an incident). Leia seemed comfortable almost right away:

leia tired

I love watching the world upside-down!

Yoda, still afraid of everything, followed his sister around and watched everything from a distance. After watching Leia “help” to unpack books twice, Yoda decided finally to help:

helping unpack

Who needs books when you have us?!

Inside the house, the corgis had settled in nicely. But outside… a whole new world.

The new house has a very large yard, and it’s only fenced in by a horse fence–a corgi could easily escape. It also came with an invisible fence. But when we first moved in, the corgis seemed hesitant, staying only very close to the house or to me. They’d previously lived only in a townhome with a tightly-fenced, small yard. This was a big change for them. I thought I’d cut them a break and not train them on the invisible fence just yet. We were scheduled to go away for a week (the corgis were staying with their dog cousin Buster), and I decided to commence training after we returned. But once again, adventurous Leia spoiled those plans. One morning, at dark:thirty, Leia lit out after a group of deer about a quarter mile away. Sharing her excitement, Yoda followed her. I screamed at them, of course, and Yoda stopped almost immediately, plopping on his back so I could put his leash back on. Leia did not stop.

You’ll understand why I don’t have a picture!

Though Leia will listen indoors, when she’s outside, she is distracted by anything. I was screaming her name, shouting any tone I could think of–anger, fear, control, calm–and nothing got through to her. She was feral. It wasn’t until she hit the treeline two yards down (and the deer disappeared into the woods) that she turned around, realized she was being called, and ran back. She ducked under the fence and immediately plopped onto her back in ultimate submission. I didn’t yell at her, but she knew I was mad. All that morning, she followed me around the house, cuddling as much as possible. I’m telling you: it’s impossible to stay mad at Leia.

Still, it necessitated an earlier-than-expected invisible fence training. And that will be the subject of the last of the moving chronicles. See you next time.


Corgi the Corgi Mascot

This summer, I decided to create a corgi mascot costume for use at book signings. Since summer signings are too hot, though, I delayed the project until recently. But with fall book signings starting to multiply, I decided to tackle the project. Here’s how I did it:

I started out with newspaper sculpted around a beach ball.


Before paper-mache-ing the newspaper, I decided to add an open mouth as part of the mask.



In the meantime, while the paper mache was drying, I found a pattern at the fabric store, which I modified to suit my purposes. First step: cutting the pattern and the fabric.


The cut fabric starts to come together, thanks to my sewing machine. Old but reliable. A real trooper!


With the paper mache dry, I attached a lightweight construction helmet to the inside of the mask, insuring it would stay balanced and snug on the head of the victim–I mean, volunteer–who gets to wear the costume!


A zipper makes the suit come together!


Elastic on the cuffs.


With the mask dried, I drilled holes for increased ventilation (and to lower the weight) and covered the eyes with a double layer of screen.

Now the hard part. Because I am an English teacher, not a math major, I had to figure out how to sew different shapes of fabric over the mask to create the corgi look. I used a bit of glue for security, then sewed the edges of all the pieces together.


I sewed… and sewed…

…and sewed…


And added the nose… and the eye lining…


Until it all came together…


I added the red tongue and eyebrows just in time for Corgi the Corgi’s first book signing!


It turns out Corgi the Corgi is a pretty good dancer… and was the star of the evening!


A special thanks to my husband for donning the costume all night. Hey, at least with all the dancing, he got in his exercise for the day!

Stay tuned–Corgi Capers Book 2 is coming soon!



Crack the Case

Detective Adam Hollinger here. I’ve been busy getting back to school. Most kids don’t like going back to school–I must be the only kid who does. Anyway, I’ve been gone long hours–Autumn League is really picking up, and I have baseball practice almost every day after school now. Coach is using me to pitch more and more. Dad even says I might get a scholarship for pitching one day, but he has to remember that I’m only in fifth grade!

Anyhow, the corgis are still getting used to me being gone so long. Courtney comes home right after school, so I have to trust her to take care of Zeph and Sapphie. I’m not sure she’s doing such a good job, and here’s why:

Zeph’s been more scared than usual. I think it’s because Sapphie’s been crazier than normal. Sapphie’s an energetic little dog. She was the runt of the litter, and she makes up for her size with her energy. She needs lots of attention, and she just doesn’t get enough while I’m at school. Courtney really needs to play with her more, but she’s always obsessed with her cell phone and some new friends she has.

I came home from school today and found this:

It’s the metal covering to the air-conditioning duct in the kitchen floor. It was lifted clear out of its place. After I snapped the picture, I put it back. It weights a good two or three pounds–solid metal. And to lift it out of its place, it has to be raised three or four inches in the air. I don’t know how Sapphie moved it, but I know it was her. Zeph wouldn’t do a thing like that. Even if he wanted to, he’d be too scared. And besides, that silly-looking pink toy? It’s one of Sapphie’s favorites. There’s one more thing. Zeph’s snugly rocketship bed was wet when I came home. That’s right: someone had peed on it! And I doubt Zeph would pee on his own bed. Besides, Sapphie’s the one being difficult with the housebreaking.

So I was wondering if you could help me out. What do you think happened in the picture above? How did that heavy metal grate get moved? Why was Sapphie’s favorite toy left nearby, and who peed on Zeph’s bed (and why?)? I’ve put on my detective hat and started to think about it, but I could use your help. Let me know what you think. I’m just glad Sapphie and Zeph have grown big enough so they can’t fit in the vent shaft. Can you imagine? Sapphie crawling through the ventilation system of our house? How would we ever get her out?

Well, time to finish my homework so I can get to sleep. I was pitching all afternoon and need my rest. Be sure to check back soon. You’ll be able to read about my newest adventure in just a few short weeks. It’s called Corgi Capers: Spinelli the Sorceress. It’s a Halloween-themed tale.

While you’re waiting, take another look at the picture, and let me know if you can figure out what happened!

A Very Corgi Morning

Do your pets have morning routines? What is their favorite part of the day? The corgis are most affectionate in the morning—each day they act as if they haven’t seen me in years! It’s one of the things I love about dogs. Here’s a typical corgi weekday:


Do I REALLY have to get up??


The day starts at 4:55, when the corgi’s person makes her way down the stairs. It’s still dark out, so they have no idea why she would bother getting up. Nonetheless, Yoda obediently greets her while Leia lifts her head to the irritating kitchen light, yawns, and cozies back in bed.


Yoda watches from afar as his person makes coffee, breakfast, and lunch—he has to make sure everything is in order. If his person does anything out of routine, he lets out an alarming bark to let her know it. He only approaches when the ice cube dispenser is activated, at which point he runs over to catch any ice cube casualties that hit the floor.


Leia remains in bed.

Yoda–watching carefully to make sure everything is in order.

Soon, the corgis’ other person descends to the kitchen. The corgis both give him a quick howl, but he heads straight for

the coffee machine while their first person continues making and packing lunch. At this point, the Leia deigns to get out of bed, and the corgis lie parallel to each other, watching both people with deadpan seriousness. Getting ready in the morning is, after all, a serious business.

After the corgis’ other person leaves for work—that’s when the fun starts! The corgis get to race down the stairs and run outside. Sometimes, if they’re lucky, there are moths or bugs on the patio that they can chase. Sometimes there are even birds in the garden or squirrels on the fence. Those are the best kinds of mornings. The corgis race to the edge of their domain, ears perked and ready to defend against those pesky creatures of the suburbs.

Getting to go outside is one of the morning highlights

Like a good dog, Yoda does his business in a timely manner and comes back to the door. With Leia, it all depends. If the grass is too tall, it is okay to chase squirrels or birds in, but it’s not okay to use the bathroom in. If the grass is too dewy, it’s okay to chase bugs across, but it’s not okay to use the bathroom in. If it’s too hot outside or the wind is blowing in from the north… well, you get the idea. On days like this, stubborn Leia’s person comes out and points at her, directing her to do her business.

She responds by coming right over and rolling onto her back, submissive. But it’s not submission, not really. It’s a challenge. Leia’s person has tried time and again to beat her in a test of wills, but Leia held out once for 23 minutes. That’s a long chunk of a person’s morning. So now, whenever Leia flips on her back, she is promptly put on a leash and taken out to the front yard, where she will take care of her business in about two seconds flat and prance back inside, happy to be given special treatment—and happy to have trained her person so efficiently.

When the corgis return inside, it’s all cuddles and jealousy, fighting for their person’s attention. Leia gets so excited that she has to find her “growly rope,” which she chomps down on to release her excess excitement (otherwise she accidentally bites her person, and that never makes for a good morning). When the corgis settle down, their person asks them, “Are you hungry?” They lick their lips simultaneously, which always seems to entertain their person for some reason. Then the eating begins.

Yoda eats at a steady pace, not hurried yet not leisurely. As he nears the end of his bowl, he often growls at his sister—for good reason. Leia eats at an uneven pace, waiting for her brother to start, and then digging in with the speed (and sound effects) of a ravenous pig. She finishes first and puts her ears into full-alert mode, stalking her brother and his dish. As soon as he finishes, she rushes to his empty dish and licks it clean just in case it wasn’t already.

By this time, the corgis’ person is usually sitting at the counter for breakfast. Yoda rushes to her left and Leia rushes to her right. They look up expectantly. They’re corgis, after all, and demand attention. Their person pets them each with her toes—for a minute or two. And then she has the audacity to stop! Yoda makes his disapproval known with a low “wooo.” If it is ignored, the “wooo” is upgraded to an all-out howl, repeated in short intervals until his person realizes her mistake and continues petting him with her toe.

Leia is less vocal, though no less insistent. When her person makes the mistake of ignoring her, Leia claws her softly with her paws, increasing the duration and intensity of the clawing until her person succumbs to petting. Then, the corgis wait. They listen carefully to their person’s sounds. Their ears have become so attuned to the noises of human eating that they know when their person is finished. And when that final sound rings—whether it’s the dropping of a fork on a plate, or the scraping of a napkin against a cheek, they jump from their blissful petting and compete for a prime mooching spot. Sometimes their person puts a plate down on the floor, and they can lick scraps of egg or the last bit of milk from a cereal bowl. But sometimes their person says nasty things like, “I’m not giving you guys syrup” or “there’s nothing to lick off this plate.” Those phrases are unacceptable, and the corgis let their person know it by drawing their ears back and making their eyes look as cute and pathetic as possible.

Their person is then required to give them a cookie. It works every time. She even sometimes lets them do tricks for the treats, and tricks make the cookies taste even better!

After breakfast, their person sometimes goes to the couch to read for a bit. If this is the case, the corgis fight over who gets to sit closest to her head. Yoda usually jumps onto the couch first, curling up at her feet. Not to be outdone, Leia jumps onto her person’s lap, sometimes trying to nose her way between her person and her person’s book (that never turns out well for Leia).

But sometimes their person goes to the kitchen table to type on that glowing screen she likes so much. If this is the case, Yoda howls in excitement, and Leia grabs her growly rope and wiggles her body in happiness. They vie for the prime spot right up against the table’s center pillar, where they can—you guessed it—howl or paw at their person until she pets them with her toes while typing away on that glowing screen.

Unfortunately, even the happiest of corgi mornings has to come to an end. Many mornings, their person goes upstairs to get dressed and go to a thing called work. She must like it a lot, for she’s always there. But the corgis don’t mind too much. By the time their person leaves, they’ve had quite a lot of fun, and they’re ready for their early-morning nap. Sometimes, in the early summer, their person stops going to work, and it annoys the corgis for the first few days. How are they supposed to nap with their person home all the time? Chasing her around the house and making sure she’s following her normal routines is tiring work as it is—and doing that full-time can be quite draining.

Resting after a tiring morning of fun–recharging for later!

Luckily, the corgis get to rest all day so that when their person returns from work, they’re two bundles of energy ready to do it all over again!

So what about you? Do your pets have morning routines? Quirks? Comment below to share!

Dueling Corgis

This Friday, June 8th, Leia and Yoda will join up with another pair of corgis to take part in a book signing event at Books and Other Found Things, a used book store in downtown Leesburg. This will be part of Leesburg’s First Friday celebration, so I hope the weather holds out. We’ll be set up in the beautiful back yard of the store under a canopy of trees from 6:00 – 8:00 p.m. Before the signing, I wanted to introduce the corgis’ canine partners.

Merlin and Razz are the canine authors of The Tale of Two Corgis (they wrote it with help from their human parents, Claudia and Bruce Winkle). Merlin and Razz are the corgis of the Cardigan variety—they are larger and have tails, as compared to the stubbly-butt Pembroke Welsh variety (i.e., Yoda and Leia).  The beautifully-illustrated book documents the daily adventures of the two Cardigans.

Yoda, a Pembroke

Merlin, a Cardigan








Meet the stars of The Tail of Two Corgis


About Merlin:

Merlin is an AKC registered Cardigan Welsh Corgi, officially named “Dobcarr’s The Magician”.

The Brindle-and-White-colored corgi was born on March 7, 2009.He has a white blaze on his face which is shaped like a heart at the top. His white collar goes all around his neck, and he has a black polka a dot on his right front knee.

He loves to have people admire how handsome he is and to make new friends. Merlin has been in many breed dog shows and have lots of ribbons. He enjoys seeing all the other dogs at the shows and making new friends.


About Razz:

Razz is an AKC registered Cardigan Welsh Corgi officially named “Dobcarr’s Razzamatazz.” He was born on October 19, 2010. Like Merlin, his coloring is also Brindle and White, but he has lots of blond highlights on his back end. The white blaze on his face is shaped like a flame at the top, and his white collar only goes three quarters of the way around his neck. He is training to start showing in Rally.

Photos of Merlin and Razz courtesy of Bruce Winkle.

You can learn all about Merlin and Jazz here.

The book signing will also feature splotch artist Steve Loya (check out his awesome artwork here)

About the Books:

A mystery adventure for young detectives! In this chapter book, fifth-grader Adam Hollinger takes on a serial burglar in the town of Stoney Brook, Pennsylvania. With baseball practice, comic books, and an annoying older sister, can he and his newly-adopted corgi puppies find the criminal in time? A great read for independent readers, and an enjoyable read for adults to read to their children.


A Beautifully Illustrated Children’s Book about the true daily adventures of two spirited Cardigan Welsh Corgi dogs. Your family will connect with the Cardigan Welsh Corgi breed and enjoy the fun, and the mischief, of Merlin and Razz…..The Corgis with the Tail.
Written by Merlin and Razz with the help of their Mom and Dad.

Meet Zeph

I’m sharing pictures of some of the characters from Corgi Capers: Deceit on Dorset Drive. These pictures were created by the fabulous Marji Cooper. Along with each picture, I’ll introduce a bit more about each character. If you enjoy these characters, be sure to check out the free short story (posted earlier in this blog) or the novel, available in print or e-book format.


My name is Zeph. I’m a Pembroke Welsh Corgi, and above all I’m a good boy.

I was the third dog to be born in our litter, and my sister was the fourth. When I found out all of us puppies were going to new homes, my father pulled me aside. He told me my sister was a rambunctious bundle of trouble, and he asked me if I would watch over her. I made sure we got adopted together, and I’ve been keeping track of her ever since. One time she found a stack of newspapers. She tried to climb it, but she ended up pulling it on top of her instead. Luckily, I was able to sniff her out in time, but watching over Sapphie is a full-time job.

Right now she’s sleeping in my rocketship bed, something that my Person, Adam, gave to me. But Sapphie likes it better than the one she has, so I let her sleep in it from time to time. It’s what a good brother would do. Besides, if I didn’t, she would just tackle me and bite my ears until I gave up.

Aside from keeping Sapphie out of trouble, my main concern is watching over my Person. His name is Adam, and he’s a good kid. He also has sister issues—his sister is almost as much of a pawful as Sapphie. My favorite thing to do is curl up at Adam’s feet as he reads something called a “comic book.” I’m named after Adam’s favorite comic book hero, outer-space Captain Logan Zephyr. But when I’m not curled up at Adam’s feet, I also like watching him play baseball—though I’m afraid of the ball… and the yelling crowd… and the strange noise made by a scary thing called an “ice cream truck”… there are some scary things out there in the world.

My other interest is language. There’s absolutely nothing scary about language, so it’s my favorite hobby. Ever since I was a puppy, I have been learning as many words as possible. They come in handy when I’m trying to figure out what Adam and his family are saying. My sister isn’t as good at language, so I have to explain things to her. All the time.

I hear Sapphie trying to sneak into the basement, so I’d better stop her before she finds trouble.

Thanks for stopping by!

The Corgis Visit Omar Blue

Be sure to check out
the newest post on
Omar Blue’s blog:

He’s the corgis’ favorite Internet pal!

The Corgis are Loose!

Great News!

Corgi Capers: Deceit on Dorset Drive is now available. You can buy directly from the publisher at, or you can order it at

* * *

What happens when Adam Hollinger and his obnoxious older sister, Courtney, convince their absent-minded mother to allow them to adopt a pair of corgis — after their father explicitly said, “No!” ?

Author Val Muller answers this question as the mystery on Dorset Drive unfolds.

There’s a serial thief robbing every house in the neighborhood, including the Hollingers’. As the plot deepens and the suspense builds, Adam and the rambunctious corgi pups are determined to crack the case. Even Courtney can’t resist getting involved.

Corgi Capers: Deceit on Dorset Drive (223 pp., $8.99) is the perfect book for your ‘tween detective. From the brother/sister bickering and teasing, to the elderly couple that raise corgis, to Sparkles and Owl, the parents of four wiggly little corgi pups, to the pups who talk to one another and get adopted by their new people, this book will quickly become a favorite with your children. The story line is intriguing, the pups are adorable, and there’s plenty of humor to keep your children turning the pages until they reach the suspenseful climax.

ISBN 978-0615592237

Here and there light from a front porch spilled onto the road. Still, as he looked up, the trees took on sinister shapes. When the wind blew, a giant oak looked like a three-armed monster reaching out to grab him. And there was just enough of a crescent moon to show the filmy clouds hovering spookily in the sky, veiling the stars in a gossamer shade.

Adam shivered and turned on his flashlight. He felt like it was Halloween.

Zeph, on the other hand, was not afraid. His nose took over so that the darkness didn’t bother him.

“You’re braver than I am,” Adam admitted as he shined the flashlight at the oak — just to make sure it was still an oak.

With that, Zeph let out a long, low groowwwl.

“What is it?” Adam gulped.

Zeph froze, his nose pointed toward the cul-de-sac. A moment later, Adam heard the shuffle-shuffle-shuffle of feet.

“Is somebody there?”

Adam pointed his flashlight in the direction of the noise. A jogger dressed in dark clothing shielded his eyes from the flashlight.

“Do you mind?” asked the jogger in an energetic — almost nervous — voice.

“Sorry,” Adam said. “You scared me. Why are you jogging in the dark?”

“It’s the best time,” the man said hastily.

Adam shone the flashlight again on the man, but the man covered his face.

“It’s dangerous to be out in such dark clothing. Especially with a burglar on the loose.”

Adam pointed the flashlight once more at the stranger, but the man had already started jogging away.

* * *

Stay tuned for more–contests, content, and fun–by clicking “like” on the Facebook follow to the right.

Sneak Peak and Interview

I’ve been interviewed by fellow writer Chastity Bush. You can read the interview, including a sneak preview of the soon-to-be-released Corgi Capers, here:

I hope you enjoy the interview. Feel free to leave a comment on Chastity’s blog.

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