Today's character is...
And, hello! What's not to love about a talking cat?
Are you in my head?
Welcome to another installment of "Names Changed To Protect the Innocent", the portion of our show when we learn more about the inspiration behind my characters. If you've read my Children's/Middle Grade book, DANIEL THE DRAW-ER, you already know that one of the most magical elements of the story is the colorful cast of people, animals, and, yes, even aliens from the planet Beezo. You can find Part 1 here.
Today's character is...
Whiskers is a crowd favorite amongst the kids I've met at book signings. His popularity doesn't surprise me all that much because he's a funny curmudgeon of a feline.
And, hello! What's not to love about a talking cat?
This white cat isn't a fan of sushi or flying, and he tells it like it is.
Here's a fun fact you probably don't know, kiddies: Whiskers has a Jersey accent. Does that surprise you? It should, because I never told you before. Unless you're inside my head, and you can hear him talk, too, you should be surprised.
Are you in my head?
When I came up with the idea for Whiskers, I simply thought of the kind of thing a nine-year-old boy would draw. Homemade Pokemon, fire-breathing dragons, and obviously rocket cats. When you consider the world through the fresh brain of a nine-year-old boy, the idea of Whiskers becomes kinda obvious.
And, obviously, now you're going to ask me if Whiskers is based on a specific talking rocket cat.
No, actually there is no real-life talking rocket cat... but our family used to be owned by a certain white cat named Wally. He's now demanding ear skritches from the angels, but when he was with us here on earth, he lived life on his terms. You like that box? Well, it's Wally's litter box now. You want to pet Wally? He'll show you where and exactly how to do it--with his teeth. If he could have talked, he would have sounded like a cast member from The Sopranos. I'm sure, had he not gone through all of his given lives, he would have worked out the whole flying and talking thing, no problem.
That's it for this week. Check back soon for part 3 in Names Changed To Protect the Innocent.
NowDo you have an animal in your life who would make a good story character? I'd love to hear about them in the comments below.
I thought I would share with you a short story today, written by my lovely friend Kathryn Trattner. This is a short piece, but it's haunting and poetic, and I'm sure my older readers will enjoy it. This is only the first portion of the story. A link near the bottom of the excerpt will take you to the remainder of the story, originally published on Wyvern Lit's website. Thanks!
Each blast separate, unique, the bombs falling from the sky and getting nearer. After months at the front Sam could tell roughly where they’d land, how far from him they’d be. He ducked, dirt pattering down, plunking on his helmet, dusting his shoulders. He didn’t bother brushing it away.
At first he’d covered his ears, hunched his shoulders, pulled his head in like a turtle. Not now. The man beside him coughed, hacking blood. He’d been too slow with his mask the last time they’d been gassed. But he hadn’t told the commanding officer. The man wanted to stay, half buried in the earth, sweating and bleeding and dying by inches in the trenches.
Sam touched his pocket, felt the wad of paper there, the comfort of civilization when nothing else appeared sane. The words were a lifeline, a rope, to a world that he’d forgotten. He knew, he had to believe, that it remained, past the machine gun nests and the field hospital, away on the hazed horizon.
His belief alone would make it real.
He fumbled the packet free, digging out the stub of a pencil he’d kept, whittled, and preserved.
He began to write.
To read the remainder of "Battlefield Muse", please click here. (Link will take you to the original article on Wyvern Lit's website).
Connect With Kathryn
Visit Kathryn's website to see what she's working on now.
Okay, I'm convinced. I have the most creative, amazing friends.
One of those incredibly creative friends is my buddy Brenda, AKA B. L. Hoffman. She's been keeping those little writing fingers busy these past few years, releasing a ton of book love into the world. For all mystery and action fans, check out B. L. Hoffman's THE SPENCER KANE ADVENTURES. This series is geared toward the Young Adult crowd, and it's touted as being a Clean Indie Read.
Please also check out B. L. Hoffman's standalone book, THE INCIDENTAL INHERITANCE. For now, I'm going to focus on her YA series, but I wanted y'all to know Spencer Kane is only one of her projects.
So, grab your flashlights, there's a mystery to solve...
About the Books
Mystery at Shadow Lake - A Spencer Kane Adventure (Book #1)
Spencer Kane, a teenager on vacation with his family at Shadow Lake, Michigan, finds himself in the middle of peculiar, even paranormal situations that affect many of the lake residents. Spencer and his friends unknowingly cause the events to intensify and become more violent, bringing even more danger to those who haven't yet fled the lake in terror.
Escape From Shadow Lake- A Spencer Kane Adventure (Book #2)
Spencer and his father remain at Shadow Lake to close up the cottage, once Spencer is released from the hospital after a near-fatal poisoning.
The danger continues, as several men, including Spencer's Father, are kidnapped and Spencer searches diligently to find them.
As he puts together the pieces, he discovers the one person he trusted had deceived them all.
He was now on his own to find his dad and the others, and return them home safely…without being captured in the process.
Return to Shadow Lake - A Spencer Kane Adventure (Book #3)
After the rescue of his dad and friends from Shadow Lake, Spencer and his family try to get back to a normal home life. Just as the family settles into their routine, they are visited by a group of American Indians that insist on meeting with Spencer and the others who took part in the removal of ancient objects from the ground at a neighbor's cottage.
Running Fox explains to the teens and their parents the necessary actions that must be performed in order to rid the lake of the evil spirits they uncovered. If the ceremony is not performed, the families will never be able to return to their cottages without the fear that drove them away only weeks before.
One family, the Claytons, who already returned to the lake under the assumption that the evil had gone, are now fighting for their lives at a Michigan hospital. The teens have the opportunity and feel the responsibility to do as the ancient book instructs, and possibly save the lives of their lake neighbors.
The teens encounter unexpected intrusions on their way from central Indiana to Shadow Lake, Michigan, but remain vigilant in their “mission”. Their support for each other keeps them going, no matter how frightening the situation becomes.
The Shadow Lake Trilogy
The Lake Dweller - A Spencer Kane Adventure (Book #4)
With his Florida beach trip canceled, Spencer agrees to help a friend, Cassie Vance, check out a home her family inherited from her uncle in southern Indiana. The generous notion to help clean up the property was met with shocking surprises.
A lake dweller, fixated on Cassie before he laid eyes on her, wants possession of her and the house.
A young boy, Daniel, who is among the lake dwellers, captures the hearts of Spencer and Cassie, and desperately needs their help to survive … and to escape.
Mystery at Shadow Lake (Book #1)
The voice appeared to come from inside the tunnel. I slowly lowered myself down to the bend to get a better look. I didn’t hear anything. I called out “Is anyone down here? Do you need help?”
I turned back to where the flashlight was aimed, and immediately saw two shining circles, resembling eyes glowing from the light, and looking in my direction. Before I could make another move, I heard. “Please help me.”
“Who’s there? I asked again.
As I watched the shiny spheres, they began moving closer and closer. I stared at them at first, not certain if the person in trouble was approaching me, or if I should be running for my life from something evil. As the eyes drew closer, I could now make out a figure. It looked strangely familiar. Then I realized the figure was the little girl I had seen in my nightmare. The same one who had disappeared in the lake and hasn't yet been found.
About B. L. Hoffman
I've been writing since the fall of 2011, and have completed five mysteries. I've always been drawn to mystery movies, books and stories, so the natural writing genre for me was The Mystery. I didn't actually write my books with Middle Grade and Y/A Youthful Adult content intentions, but that's how they turned out, and I'm fine with that. I don't write a story with questionable content in mind, so it doesn't come out in my books.
I live in Indianapolis, IN with my husband of 27 years, Skeeter, and my baby, Ziva (a 2 year-old Pom-Shih/Tzu mix). If you wonder where her name comes from, it's based on the character Ziva David on NCIS (I am asked quite often). Too bad she's not still on the show.
My husband has been and continues to be a great supporter of my writing efforts. I would not be able to continue this endeavor without his backing and encouragement.
I love to take photos...trust me, I have thousands. That brings us to an obvious passion of mine...photography. I've never taken a formal class (but still plan to) and have always loved taking pictures. If you're at an outing with me and my camera, you don't stand a chance of getting away if I see a "Kodak Moment'. (Just ask my nieces and nephews!)
Other pastimes I enjoy are traveling, the outdoors, boating, fishing, puzzles, and popcorn with a thrilling movie to name a few.
I plan to keep writing mysteries unless unforeseen events occur, and hope to write stories that entertain a wide variety of age groups.
Connect with B. L. Hoffman
So... Fun fact: I write about children with magical pencils and snarky teenagers making their way through mysterious worlds, but I have a guilty pleasure--romance novels. Call it chick lit, if you want. I'm not afraid of your labels. Because of this, I was excited to share with my readers THEIR TANGLED HEARTS, a faith-based romance with an attractive setting (a ranch!), differently-abled children, and, yes, L-O-V-E. What's not to adore about any of those things?
Let's start out with an interview with the author of THEIR TANGLED HEARTS, Mary Deweber, and then we'll get to hear alllll about her book.
Interview with Mary DeWeber
So, Mary... When did you know you wanted to be an author?
I always thought it would be fun to be an author, but never thought I had what it takes. Even when I finished Their Tangled Hearts, I doubted it would ever get published.
What books have you read more than once?
I love the ‘Love Comes Softly’ series by, Janette Oke.
What is your favorite quote?
The inner side of every cloud is bright and shining.
Therefore I turn my clouds about and always wear them inside out,
To show the lining!
Is THEIR TANGLED HEARTS based on people you know or places you've been?
The characters and story are purely fictitious. My husband, Jeff, and I did live in the mountains outside of Denver for a while in the early 1990’s.
The characters are a compilation of all the heroes and heroines I’ve read about in the past.
Who would you choose to play your characters if your book became a movie?
I think Julianne Hough would make an excellent Emma! She’s an accomplished actress and sings beautifully. For Jake I’d like Josh Turner. But I’m afraid they might be up-staged by Sam Elliot as Ken the stable boss!
THEIR TANGLED HEARTS is set on a ranch and involves people with disabilities. How did you go about researching for these characters and settings?
I watched a documentary about large animal therapy.
Your main character, Emma, takes a job as a cook at a cattle ranch. I'm a fan of food, so I want to know--what's your favorite food? What is your least favorite food?
My favorite food would have to be chicken enchiladas. Least favorite…canned spinach! I’ll eat it fresh any day!
Speaking of food, I'm a big fan of sucking on Cinnamon Fire Jolly Ranchers while I write. Is there a snack or drink that's a must-have during your writing process?
Decaffeinated Coffee with milk. Caffeine either makes me grouchy or puts me to sleep!
What was the most challenging part of writing THEIR TANGLED HEARTS?
Trying to keep the details of the tragedy that happened to Emma at a minimum while focusing on her healing.
Best piece of advice for new writers?
Don’t get in a hurry. Let your characters mature. Research your subject matter and check your facts but don’t get so bogged down in details that you get frustrated and quit. And remember that there is no time limit on how long it’ll take to finish your book. It’s not over until you decide it is. (S. J. comment: Really good advice that I needed to hear today, thank you!!)
About the Book
Emma had spent the last five years learning to cope with tragedy. She should have known that Doc had something up his sleeve when he'd talked her into taking a cooking job at a Colorado cattle ranch. Cooking was the easy part. Working with disabled children was something she was decidedly not prepared for. Throw in a tall dark mountain of a man with a voice like warm velvet and she was completely over her head! It would take God to straighten out the tangled mess she had made of her life.
“I’m s-so s-sorry.” Emma stammered.
“Don’t be,” the man smiled. “Do you have nightmares often?”
“They’re not usually this bad.” Suddenly cold, she shivered and clutched the blanket to her chest. Confusion colored her voice as she asked. “How-?”
“I came in late last night and couldn't sleep. I was on my front porch waiting for sunrise when I heard you scream.” Smiling he held up his hands. “It’s a good thing I still have the key or I’m afraid I would have broken the door down.”
While he spoke he got up from the side of the bed and moved to a chair. For the first time she saw he was wearing an open jacket and flannel shirt. No wonder he had felt so warm and comforting.
“You must be Emma. I heard about you from Sue, when I called last evening to see if she needed anything from town before I headed out.”
She realized that he’d deliberately been talking to give her some much-needed breathing space, in which to gather her wits.
When he reached out his hand, Emma didn't hesitate to place hers into it. “I’m Sue’s brother Jake Peterson,” he introduced himself formally, as he politely shook her hand.
“It’s nice to meet you Mr. Peterson,” she said automatically. “I’m Emma Winters.”
As Emma sat looking up at him, she was suddenly struck by the absurdity of the situation. A bubble of nervous laughter welled up from some secret place deep inside and surprised her by escaping.
Jake, determining she was not hysterical, grinned and soon they were both laughing.
About Mary DeWeber
Mary DeWeber has always been a voracious reader. She often found unusual places to curl up with book including the branches of a sycamore tree! She spent hours entertaining her five children with stories that she would invent on the spur of the moment. Not afraid of tough subjects, her deep faith shines through her. Mary now resides in Arkansas in a hundred-year-old farmhouse with her husband Jeff and their dog Gretchen.
Connect with Mary
Get the Book
Each week, I've committed to networking my readers with other authors who are also building their readership. As far as I'm concerned, that's a win-win. They get to tell a new set of people about their stories, and maybe you find your next favorite book (after mine, butofcourse! Wink, wink).
At least one day per week, I'll take a break from promoting my wonderful author cronies to share a little bit about me, what I'm working on, and all kinds of other good bookish stuff. I thought I'd kick this weekly segment off by addressing a FWQ--a frequently-wondered question. I think the term "FAQ" is so overdone, don't you? So, FWQ it is.
"Where did you come up with the idea for that character?"
Well, dear reader, that's a wonderful question, and not one I always have a brilliant answer for. When I was writing my Children's/Middle Grade book, DANIEL THE DRAW-ER, so many of the ideas for the silliest of creatures came from the cobwebby recesses of my brain, with no real idea how they got there in the first place. A few of the characters--the best characters, really--were based on people and animals I know and love. It makes me so happy to know that you know and love them, too, and you appreciate all of their unique quirks.
Instead of pouring out every one of my secrets at once, I will break them up into separate blog posts, to be doled out like bread crumbs in coming weeks. And, in the spirit of building up momentum, I'd like to start things off slow and low-key.
Our first victim... ahem, I mean, subject will be Tommy, the guy you all love to loathe.
Tommy is the loser boyfriend of Daniel's older sister, Lila. Tommy's claim to fame is his shabby, poorly-designed facial hair, gross aroma, and his enthusiasm for arm punching poor Daniel. This guy's also not real great with important info, such as names. In short, he's a little bit of the worst.
It was brought to my attention recently that one of my brothers-in-law read Tommy's description in my book and thought he might be the inspiration for such a lovely, wholesome character. If he identifies with Tommy, then shame on him.
Just kidding. Maybe.
Tommy is based on a combination of bad boyfriends my sisters went through. Most of those guys were short-lived, cute but empty-headed, with not enough interest in a bratty little sister to take the time to say hello, or even learn my name (not even a "Fritz"!).
His signature arm punch was actually drawn from a particularly traumatic experience I had. No, none of those guys punched me, although I'm sure a few of them wanted to. One guy who looked at least four years too old for my sister, with the gross mustache not helping his cause, came over to our house to hang out. I remember him pinning me under a bean bag chair (yeah, we were a bean bag family), and tickling me until I peed my pants. Adults always warn about that kind of stuff happening--"Stop! Or she'll pee her pants!"--but you don't think it'll ever happen to you until it happens. And then you're eternally mortified, and you have to get back at all of the skeezy sister's boyfriends in the world by immortalizing their misdeeds in print. Forever. Then you make it all worse by telling the world that somebody tickled you past the point of no return... Okay, I'm going to stop now.
The Tommies from my past usually weren't rockstar wannabes, but most of them considered themselves to be cooler than they actually were. I think we all think that about ourselves, some of us are just better than Tommy (and my sisters' exes) at keeping it on the down-low.
I hope you enjoyed taking a deeper look into the story behind one of my characters. Make sure you check back next week for another installment of "Names Changed To Protect the Innocent".
If you're on Pinterest, please join me over there and let me know what you think of when you read my stories. I always love to see how readers visualize my characters! You're usually far more creative than I am!
Until then, keep dreaming...
Let's give a big welcome to my friend Sharon Ledwith, who is not only a fantastic writer, but also the lady to have on your side while learning about writing and promoting books. I've learned a lot from her in the short time we've known one another, and I'm proud to be able to share a little bit about her newest release. So, buckle up those safety belts, kiddos. Here we go...
Legend of the Timekeepers
There is no moving forward without first going back.
Lilith was a young girl with dreams and a family before the final destruction of Atlantis shattered those dreams and tore her family apart. Now refugees, Lilith and her father make their home in the Black Land. This strange, new country has no place in Lilith’s heart until a beloved high priestess introduces Lilith to her life purpose—to be a Timekeeper and keep time safe.
Summoned through the seventh arch of Atlantis by the Children of the Law of One, Lilith and her newfound friends are sent into Atlantis’s past, and given a task that will ultimately test their courage and try their faith in each other. Can the Timekeepers stop the dark magus Belial before he changes the seers’ prophecy? If they fail, then their future and the earth’s fate will be altered forever.
“Why are you here?” Lilith asked. “You’ve already got your life seal.”
“I have more questions for Istulo.” She continued to stare at the disk.
Lilith sighed. “My name is Lilith. What’s your name?”
Her shoulders relaxed slightly. A hint of a smile broke out on her face. Her upturned nose wiggled. “She-Aba. I was born here in the Black Land. Both my parents arrived from Atlantis fourteen years ago yesterday. My mother gave birth to me the next day.”
Lilith perked up. “That would make today your birthday!”
She-Aba beamed. “Yes. That’s why I’m here. For my birthday last year, I had my life reading done by Istulo. But recently, there’s been a hiccup in my plans. It’s like my life seal rearranged itself, and now I’m confused. I’m here for a reaffirmation.”
“What’s the problem?”
She-Aba traced her life seal with the tip of her perfectly shaped fingernail. “My lifetime occupation was supposed to be to design clothing for the people of the various positions in the court and temples.”
Lilith smirked. “That makes perfect sense.”
“I know, right? So why, all of a sudden, would my life seal change from designing clothing to something completely different?”
Lilith arched a fair brow. “How different?”
“Well, instead of clothing people in lavish robes and gowns for others to appreciate, the seal suggests that I’ll be doing the opposite by covering up and hiding the truth. I don’t understand it at all. I thought my life was all planned out for me.”
“I thought mine was too, until my country blew up and slid into the ocean,” Lilith muttered.
“Hey, look at the bright side, at least your hair isn’t red like mine.”
Lilith eyed She-Aba carefully. “What’s wrong with red hair? My uncle has red hair and it suits him fine.”
She-Aba moved in closer. “If you haven’t noticed already, there aren’t many redheads around here. The natives think red is magical, and anyone with red hair is considered a freak of nature.”
“That’s ridiculous!” Lilith said loud enough to cause an echo down the marble hallway. “Is that the reason why those artists were rude to you? Because you have red hair?”
“Red is a very powerful color,” a raspy voice said from behind both girls.
Lilith and She-Aba jumped. They slowly turned to find Istulo hovering over them.
Wearing the same white gown and orichalcum headband Lilith saw her dressed in before, Istulo nodded slightly before she said, “Red represents the essence of life—if we are drained of blood, we are drained of energy. The people of the Black Land understand this, and therefore red is reserved only for their gods and goddesses.”
Lilith giggled. “Don’t tell She-Aba that, she’ll think she’s a goddess.”
About the Author
Sharon Ledwith is the author of the middle-grade/YA time travel series, THE LAST TIMEKEEPERS, available through Musa Publishing, and is represented by Walden House (Books & Stuff) for her teen psychic series, MYSTERIOUS TALES FROM FAIRY FALLS. When not writing, researching, or revising, she enjoys reading, yoga, anything arcane, and an occasional dram of scotch. Sharon lives a serene, yet busy life in a tourist region of Ontario, Canada, with her hubby, one spoiled yellow Labrador and a moody calico cat.
Learn more about Sharon Ledwith on her WEBSITE and BLOG. Look up her AMAZON AUTHOR page for a list of current books. Stay connected on FACEBOOK, TWITTER, GOOGLE+, TUMBLR, and GOODREADS. Check out THE LAST TIMEKEEPERS TIME TRAVEL SERIES Facebook page.
Buy Legends of the Timekeepers
Mondays are ruff. I mean, really ruff. Oh... I mean, rough.
I wish someone would just throw me a bone and it could be Friday all over again. Oops, I did it again. Sorry. I've been reading Cynthia Port's book, KIBBLE TALK, and now I can't stop thinking like a dog.
KIBBLE TALK is a silly, snarky little book that kids and adults will enjoy. Keep reading for a little bit more about the book and Cynthia Port, KIBBLE TALK's awesome author!
Once Tawny decides to do something, there’s no holding her back. So when her best friend Jenny dares her to eat dog kibble, down it goes. Little does she know how that dusty, tasteless lump will change her life. Suddenly she can hear what dogs have to say and talk back to them too! This might not be such a big deal, except that her own dog, an enormous Great Dane named Dinky, has a LOT to say. He lets her know right away that his fondest dream is to be a teeny tiny lap dog. Tawny promises to help him, and her life nearly goes to the dogs. A story about friendship and family, Book 1 in the Kibble Talk series will have everyone howling with laugher. Perfect for readers 7 to 12 or as a read aloud.
Diving under my bed covers, I told myself over and over, “This isn’t happening. This isn’t happening. This is NOT happening.”
“Oh, but it is,” Dinky said with a lazy sigh. I felt him slump into a giant pile at the side of my bed. “Can I have my scratch now?”
I couldn’t believe I could hear another dog talking—and it was my own dog! I was also surprised at the type of voice Dinky had. Gunner had sounded like he should, which is an odd thing to say in the first place since we are talking about how a dog sounds talking. But Gunner looks sort of gross and gravelly and sounded that way. By that logic, Dinky’s voice should have been very deep and maybe elegant or something, like the prime minister of a fancy European country. It wasn’t though. Dinky’s voice was high pitched like a little kid, almost a squeak. His voice was, well, dinky.
“I can’t help my voice,” he squeaked at me. “Now get up and give me my scratch! Your mom and dad are on couch potato duty. That makes it your turn to entertain.”
I screwed up my courage and peeked one eye out from under my blanket. There was Dinky, staring at me with his usual huge, walnut-brown doggy eyes. I was about to dive to the bottom of my bed and never resurface when I thought of a way to test whether all of this was really happening.
“How do I know I’m not just imagining I can hear you talking?” I asked him nervously. “You haven’t said anything I couldn’t have made up myself.”
“Fair enough. Let’s see then,” he said, and gave his triangle ears an impressive waggle. “Oh, I know!" he said after a moment. "Your dad did NOT just find Fishy Fish dead one day in his bowl. He was changing the water and accidentally used hot instead of cold.”
I threw back the covers as I gasped in surprise. “What? He did? And he didn’t tell me about it? Are you sure?”
“I may be a talking dog, but I’m no liar. I saw the little orange guy go belly up, cooked like instant oatmeal. Then I had to listen to your dad’s guilty thoughts for weeks. He still thinks about it whenever your mom serves fish sticks.”
I shook my head in wonder. This was news I definitely couldn't have made up on my own, meaning that this talking dog thing might be legit.
“So . . . so you dogs are just thinking and listening all the time? Gunner said . . .” I started to ask.
“Gunner?" Dinky said, interrupting me. "Ugh. I’m sure he was a cute puppy, but that dog has let himself go.”
“He says he’d like a bath now and then, but they won’t give him one,” I snapped.
Dinky gave me that head-tilted, ear-raised, eyebrow-scrunched dog look. “If you’re gonna start taking Gunner’s side in things, in anything, I’m not sharing any of my dog food with you,” he said, and started to get up.
“Sharing any of your . . . hold on . . . was it really the dog food that did this to me? Is that why I can hear you?”
Dinky lay back down. “They say it’s happened before, but I figured it was just dog legend. Some of us have some imaginations, I tell you! Something about a Dr. who could talk to the animals . . .”
“You’ve heard of him too? Maybe it is true then . . .” Dinky mused, almost to himself. He started whipping his long bony tail against my hardwood floor, deep in thought. “We don’t know what causes it, but we know that when someone makes an honest effort to see what it’s like to be somebody else, they can understand them better. Sometimes it can go a bit further than that. When you ate Gunner’s food, what were you thinking about?”
“What it would be like to be a dog and have to eat that boring stuff all the time.”
“Just as I suspected,” Dinky said, closing his eyes and nodding his huge head in a knowing sort of way.
“What do you suspect?” I asked, moving to sit at the edge of my bed.
“When you ate the kibble and let yourself have a real glimpse of what it means to be Gunner, unpleasant as that had to have been, your brain must have opened up a new door, so to speak, so you could hear us the way we can hear you.”
“And can you hear all humans? What we say? What we’re thinking?”
“We do eat your food, you know—table scraps anyway, and we’re pretty much always thinking about what it would be like to be you. So, as long as we keep getting human food, we can still hear you.”
“Ah ha! That’s why dogs beg so much!” I said, slapping my knee in self-congratulation.
Dinky snorted. “Not so fast, Dogologist! I believe you tasted the kibble? That is why we beg so much. Hearing human thoughts gets very boring, very quickly, but not as boring as eating dusty tasteless kibble for breakfast, brunch, lunch, second lunch, post-lunch snack, pre-dinner snack, dinner, second dinner, second and a half dinner, post-dinner snack and bedtime snack.”
“You left out dessert.”
“Oh no, never eat dessert. Wouldn’t want to get fat. Now, I am ready for my scratch and then I have to go sniff the cat’s behind or she’ll think I forgot her. She’s impossible when she thinks I’ve forgotten her.”
We have a cat too, named Fisher. My dad, I now knew, had murdered the thing she used to enjoy fishing for, but Fisher was still her name. She’s a pretty thing, soft and white and fluffy, but not particularly friendly. In the winter when the house is chilly, I sometimes feel her slinky little body leaned up against me at night. But by morning she’s always gone, off to find a bit of sunlight warming up a cat-sized area of carpet for her. She rarely bothers to look at us, and never asks to be petted or picked up.
“Come on, scratcher-girl, enough talking,” Dinky said.
'No, don't go," I said. "I want to keep talking to you."
“We can talk some more tomorrow, and the next day, and the next day after that.”
Now, if I’d had any clue about the amount of trouble I was in for, I might have stopped talking to Dinky that very instant. But right then, I could have talked to him all night. That is, if my head hadn’t suddenly become as heavy as a bowling ball stuck to the end of a wet noodle. Something about running away from your best friend’s sleepover because you found out you can hear dogs talk, and vice versa, and then discovering once and for all that your parents are just plain old parents, with the exception that your dad is both a fish assassin and a liar, makes a girl super tired, apparently.
I gave Dinky a good scratching, and then he clickety-clicked right out of my room. He didn’t even say goodnight.
About the Author
I live in Indiana with my husband, two daughters, and a head full of stories. When I was a kid, I told all my joys and sorrows to the dogs, cats, birds, fish, guinea pigs, lizards, hermit crabs, etc. that shared my home, and I secretly hoped they understood. The dog in Kibble Talk, the first book in my Kibble Talk series, was inspired by my dog Kodiak, a cuddly 150 pound Alaskan Malamute who truly believed that her head was a lap dog. Book two in the series, Dog Gone Dinky, was inspired by my parents dog. He was sweet, but whenever I petted him my hand came away with so much grease it felt like my freckles would slip right off. Dog grease. Oog.
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After a busy week of telling you about just a few of my many writer friends, it's my turn to be the guest! My friend Krysten Lindsay Hager, author of the Middle Grade book TRUE COLORS, has graciously (and awesomely) opened her blog to me and DANIEL.
Click HERE to go to Krysten's blog.
And make sure you come back here in a couple of weeks, when Krysten will visit us and share some of her memories of the most wonderful time of the year--the beginning of school.
Now, unless you have some books to buy or some love to share here, why are you still here? Go stop by Krysten's blog. ;-) Tell her I sent ya!
Many of you already know I'm super-obsessed with horses. Of my five completed books, so far, every one contains at least one horse. Three of my books are about a riding stable. So, yeah, horses are kinda my thing... At least once a week, I volunteer at a local stable that runs a program for differently-abled children and adults. It's amazing to see the confidence, joy, and freedom a horse can bring to someone who faces limitations every second of every day. I'm blessed to be a part of that riding program, and it's something I plan on continuing for as long as I possibly can.
So when Courtney Vail asked me if I'd be interested in spreading the word about her new book, ANGELS CLUB, which focuses on a therapeutic riding farm and kids trying to make a difference, I had no choice but to agree. Keep reading for more info on ANGELS CLUB, and enter their giveaway at the bottom of the post!
Book Blast: New Release and Giveaway - Angels Club by Courtney Vail and Sandra J. Howell
NEW RELEASE - Angels Club
Authors - Courtney Vail and Sandra J. Howell
Genre - Middle Grade General Fiction
Word Count - 55,000 words
Synopsis: Nearly twelve, Jacinda Gonzalez collects insults rather than friends in her new school, but she finds escape from her bullies at the therapeutic riding farm where she volunteers. When a malnourished horse shows up as a rescue, she takes it on as a project horse, and the horse's sweet nature inspires her to spread kindness around to make a positive difference in the world. Appropriate for horse lovers of all ages.
Excerpt: The tacked-on chores made it a long day of work for Kat and me. Emily helped out with some too. She especially loved opening the gate to let some of the horses out to play and graze.
After brushing Ginger and giving her the shiny apple I promised her, which she thanked me for with a sweet nuzzle, I dashed back to the barn holding the disheveled mare that was now my very own big project. Under all that dirt, I was pretty sure she was all white, but she could have some special markings too, which would be cool.
Kat and Em were still with her, talking about her current state of yuck. Man, I really wished they’d give her a break. She couldn’t help it, and this condition was only temporary.
“Awww,” I whined, rubbing her between the ears on her matted head. “Poor thing. Besides neglect, I wonder what other nightmares she’s been through. It’ll be dark soon. We don’t have time to beautify her today. We’ll have to tackle that huge task tomorrow.”
“Beautify her? Humph. Doubt that’s even possible,” Kat said, punctuated by a sneer.
“Sure it is. Have some faith, in her and in us. With a good wash, or a couple, and some grooming, she’ll at least look halfway decent, and definitely smell way better.”
Kat said, “I don’t know. She’s a walking disaster.”
The horse drooped her head low again and slowly munched up a blade of hay.
My heart ached for her. I really think she knows exactly what we’re saying. Or most of it. “She may be a walking disaster right now, but she has the most beautiful eyes ever. Did ya see ’em? They’re so gorgeous, they pull me right in. Not only do they hold so much emotion, look at those curly lashes. They’re like dainty butterflies.”
“What, do they speeeeak to you?” Kat mocked with a wiggly dance.
“Yes, they do, as a matter of fact. And they say, ‘I’m better than this. Don’t judge me.’”
“Hey, can I help you clean her up tomorrow? Please?” Emily cried with one clap and pleading eyes.
I looked at Kat for her opinion and she shrugged that she didn’t care. “Yeah, sure,” I said, “if your mom doesn’t mind you being here all day. Giving her a bath’ll be a lofty job. We’ll want to see if she’s been handled too. We can definitely use more helping hands.”
“No, my mom’ll be thrilled I found something to do on my own. She’s always wanting me to make more friends.”
I cringed with a lop-sided sneer because my mom was always nagging me about the same thing, but Emily’s frown and head droop said she’d read my expression all wrong.
“You don’t want to be friends?” she creaked. “I thought ... I thought...” Two giant tears rapidly formed and rolled down her cheeks in uneven streams. I didn’t think tears could form and melt that fast. “You two are the only kids who’ve looked me in the eye all week. Whether I’m on my crutches or in a wheelchair, people ignore me and act like they don’t see me at all.” Her voice started breaking like glass. “So, I was hoping, I mean, I just assumed ...”
“No! We’re friends, we’re friends!” I cried, cutting her off and waving my hands. “Oh my gosh. Please don’t cry. Of course we can be friends. I don’t have a single friend in school, not one. So when I did that whole face scrunch thing, I was thinking about how my mom’s always badgering me too, not that I didn’t want to be your friend. Sorry.” I looked at Kat with insistent eyes and a finger wave to back me up.
Kat nodded and rubbed Emily’s shoulder. “Yeah, of course we can be friends. We’re always looking for more friends, Em. So don’t flip.”
“Never. Trust me. You wouldn’t wanna see my cartwheels,” Emily said, smiling big at her own joke and wiping her eyelids.
We all fell into a fit of laughter at that. I was glad she had a sense of humor about her condition.
“Why would people not wanna look at you though?” Kat asked. “I don’t get it. You’re so crazy-adorable. Wish my curls were glossy like yours. All I have is a pompom.”
Emily bit her lip and her eyes got shinier. “Well, my mom says people feel sad or awkward when they see me in a wheelchair, or my funny walk, and they don’t want to offend me by staring or saying the wrong thing. But I’d much rather get a stare or a blunt question than the pretending-I-don’t-see-you thing I usually get.”
“That’s so awful,” I said, rubbing her upper arm. “Not to mention rude.”
“It so is!” Kat cried. “See? That’s why I like to be loud and sarcastic. Being short puts me below the eye level of most, but my big mouth makes me impossible to miss or ignore. You should try talking to people first, to break the ice and show off your inner sparkle. Jacinda and I can help you with that.”
“I’d love that. Thanks. Uh, I’m so relieved.” Emily patted her chest with both hands. “I thought I was getting ditched again.”
“Nah. We squabble sometimes, but we never ditch. Right, Kat?”
Emily wiped the lingering wet ribbons off her face, and the white mare, with her head turned, saw that and circled around and moseyed up to her. She rubbed against Emily’s face and licked her.
“Oh my goodness! What a lovey-dovey girl we have here,” I cried, patting our new equine friend. “She’s so sweet like Ginger and Sassy. Even after all the neglect and whatever else she’s been through, she’s trying to cheer you up and comfort you, Em. See? I told you there are some special horses who are just naturally angels.”
Emily curled her fingers under her nose. “Uck, although she stinks like she’s lived with a gang of wild hogs, that’s what you should call her.” She giggled at the horse’s eyelash tickle. She stroked the horse’s head. But, not ready for a slimy face-to-face smooch, she tried to shoo it back with her fingers.
Kat nudged the horse away from Em’s face.
“Call her what?” I said.
“Nah, I was thinking, Dirt Digger myself,” Kat said with a sneer, brushing the mare’s filth off her fingers. “It’s so much more fitting.”
“We are not calling her Dirt Digger,” I spat.
Kat cracked up. “How about Toad then?”
“No,” I growled. “I really like Angel. It’s a good name for her. Thanks for suggesting it, Em. I bet if we can get her looking up to her natural glory, she really will look like an angel, or the swift-footed carrier of one. Maybe she’ll even look like a unicorn.” I scratched the mare under the chin and neck, and she lifted her head, telling me, more, more, more.
“Doubt that, but you can call her whatever you want,” Kat said. “She’s your horse.”
“She’s not mine … just my sweet-as-candy project horse.”
“I really like ‘Angel’ as her name. It’s perfect.” Emily beamed.
“Perfect? Ha,” Kat shrilled. “She’s so far from heavenly, even demons are pinching their noses and are racing away to find some sulfur to sniff. I’m not even lying when I say that’s the ugliest, most wretched horse I’ve ever seen in my twelve years of existence.”
“She’s not ugly,” I said, rubbing her back. “She just … needs some sprucing and primping.”
“Or a lit match.”
“Hey, cut it out!” I whacked Kat’s arm. “That’s not even funny.”
“You know I’m kidding! I hate to see any creatures in distress.”
“You’re twelve?” Emily cried. “Never would’a guessed that. You look younger than me.”
“Yeah, tell me about it,” Kat groaned, crossing her arms. “I was asked to play Baby Jesus in the church play last Christmas, but they changed their minds when they saw my tinsel teeth.” She grinned wide and goofy to show them off.
Emily bowled over, laughing and clutching her stomach.
“Apparently, Jesus doesn’t really sparkle.”
Emily kept on laughing.
“Shut up,” I bellowed. “She’s exaggerating. She does that. Like, constantly.”
Emily looked at Kat and then at me with a crinkled nose of confusion. “Last week, Jacinda, you said you were almost twelve and live right down the road. You don’t go to the same school?”
I shook my head with my lips curled in. “Nope. Annoyingly, I was held back in third, so I’m only in fifth now, which puts me embarrassingly in the same new school as my six-year-old sister, Tia. Being in a sea of mostly ten-year-olds, and younger, only makes me stand out like a freakish, lumbering giant.”
“You’re not that tall.”
“I’m 5'4", and most of the kids stand beneath my shoulders.”
“We’re all pretty much freaks then,” Emily said. “We’ve got a gimp, a tree, a shortcake and a smelly disaster of a horse.”
“Hey! Don’t call yourself a gimp!” I yelled.
“Oh joy,” Kat muttered. “We’re like the Island of Misfit Toys. We should form our own club.”
I could tell by her sarcastic tone she was joking, but I nodded, loving the idea. “Yeah. We should.”
“I was joking!” she screeched with laughter.
“I know. But it’s a fab idea. I’m just not sure what our club should be about, but we’re all unique and talented in some way. So, I’m sure, combined, we can all put our hashtagable awesomeness to good use. Once we get Angel looking parade-worthy, we should, at the very least, try to find Angel’s previous owner. It’s not his fault he was hospitalized or whatever. We can send him pictures and some ‘Hope You Are Feeling Better’ cards. I really do hope he’s doing much better.”
“Me too. You have a really big heart, Jacinda,” Emily said with a smile. “I like that. It’s a great idea, one I should have thought of because I’ve certainly seen my share of hospitals. I know, just know, that man will love it. You were very patient with me, waiting for me to get up on the horse. You pushed me in exactly the way I needed without making me feel like a baby chicken. Hey! Maybe we should just do nice things for people and try to help whoever we can, especially other freaks like us.”
“Exactly.” I nodded with my smile sliding into an even bigger crescent moon. “The world is full of meanies. Each one of us here has been beaten down or ignored, so let’s be the opposite and try to make the world a little brighter. Instead of being more monsters in the mix, we can be angels instead.”
Emily’s bright smile said she adored the concept we came up with, and I took Kat’s nod of approval and shoulder shrug as good enough to be in too.
“Awesome!” I crossed my arms with a bounce of pride and elation. It was as ragtag and pitiful as this horse, and very tiny, but I had myself a club! An Angels Club.
For one week, my friend Laura Brown's eBook, LILA'S CHOICE, will be on sale for 99¢! Romance fans won't want to miss this one!
If a red-hot sale price wasn't enough, Laura's also hosting a giveaway, too. Make sure you scroll to the bottom of this post to enter. No purchase necessary... although, c'mon, purchases do make us writer folks pretty darn excited..
Never let your friends get involved in your personal life.
Lila and Nate learn this the hard way. They are the star-crossed lovers of Glendale High. For three years the students have waited for the two to get together. They begged Nate to put his past relationship behind him, and cringed when Lila started dating Bryce. Just your typical teenage romance, except they’re the teachers.
Lila, a guidance counselor with a sweet demeanor, has an answer for every problem, every problem but her own. A visit from childhood friend Bryce thrusts her calm world into turmoil, as emotions buried deep inside are dragged to the surface. He soon realizes what only a friend can notice and a lover regret, that Lila, unbeknownst to herself, is in love with Nate.
Nate has seen better days. He is a history teacher stuck living in the past. Depression has kept his love for Lila unspoken, his ego frail after being cheated on.
Now Lila and Nate’s coworkers must unleash a scheme and uncover Lila’s true feelings. In a school this nosey what better way to get fast results than to involve the student population? The students are all too eager to get involved.
If everything goes as planned Lila will have to choose between two men. If her friends fail they might destroy these three and ruin their friendship. No wonder the scheme is called Project Torture.
Sounds good, right? Keep reading on for more word love--an excerpt from Lila's Choice!
Lila Erickson watched with sluggish eyes while her margarita glass was refilled. Again. By her math this was her fifth cup. Maybe her sixth with the way the tan carpet rolled in shallow waves at her feet. She put a hand on the wooden coffee table. It kept floating, bringing her arm along for the ride. She placed her other hand on her head. The rolling stopped. Drats, it was her, not the apartment.
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