If you are interested in blogging or want to promote your book, please contact E. B. Davis at writerswhokill@gmail.com.

August Interview Schedule
8/7 Rhys Bowen Love and Death Among the Cheetahs
8/14 Heather Gilbert Belinda Blake and the Snake in the Grass
8/21 Lynn Chandler Willis Tell Me No Secrets
8/28 Cynthia Kuhn The Subject of Malice
8/31 Bernard Schaffer An Unsettled Grave

Saturday Guest Bloggers: 8/3 M. S. Spencer, 8/10 Zaida Alfaro

WWK Satuday Bloggers: 8/24 Kait Carson


Congratulations to our writers for the following publications:

Shari Randall will be writing again for St. Martin's, perhaps under a pseudonym. We look forward to reading Shari's Ice Cream Shop Mystery series debuting next year. Congratulations, Shari!

Susan Van Kirk's A Death At Tippett Pond was released on June 15th. Read E. B. Davis's interview with Susan.

KM Rockwood's "Frozen Daiquiris" appears in The Best Laid Plans: 21 Stories of Mystery & Suspense, edited by Judy Penz Sheluk. The anthology will be released on June 18th.

Congratulations to Margaret S. Hamilton for being a finalist in the Daphne Du Maurier contest. Margaret competes in the Unpublished/Mainstream mystery/suspense category.

Congratulations to Shari Randall for WINNING the Agatha Award for Best First Novel. Her book, Curses, Boiled Again was published by St. Martin's last year. Read the interview about the book here. Yay, Shari!

Fishy Business anthology authors include KM Rockwood, Debra Goldstein, and James M. Jackson. This volume was edited by Linda Rodriguez.

Please read Margaret S. Hamilton and Debra Goldstein's short stories (don't ask about their modus operandi) in a new anthology, Cooked To Death Vol. IV: Cold Cut Files

Warren Bull's Abraham Lincoln: Seldom Told Stories was released. It is available at: GoRead: https://www.goread.com/book/abraham-lincoln-seldom-told-stories or at Amazon: https://tinyurl.com/ydaklx8p

Grace Topping's mystery, Staging is Murder was released April 30.

James M. Jackson extends the Seamus McCree series with the May 25th publication of #6, False Bottom.


Thursday, July 18, 2013


Molly and I on the patio
Dogs are popular in a lot of mysteries. I’m not sure if there are as many dogs as there are cats. though.
Probably if not, it's because dogs need more care than a cat so a detective, real or amateur, can’t take off to investigate as easily. Pets tend to humanize a character. True or not, we think the character with a dog or cat as being a nice person. This is especially true if the reader is a cat or dog owner. I’ve written about cats in cozies before so now I’m writing about dogs.

In the United States 36.5% of households have dogs; a total of 69,926,000 dogs in all. The average household with canines has l.6 dogs which seems strange. I’ve never had a .6 dog. Nor, come to think of it have I ever seen a .5 kid although some statistics say most families have 1.5 children. Is a .6 dog or a .5 child smaller than the average dog or child? And then I wonder how they get these statistics. Recently I read of a hoarder in California, who had 140 dogs. Since there are dog owners who neither pay for dog tags nor take their dogs to a vet, how do they come up with those statistics?

Maggie on a morning walk in the woods with me.
Anyway, I like dogs, but collies are my favorite. It could be because my mother used to talk about Fuzzy, the farm collie she grew up with. But more likely it’s because after I’d read all the horse books in our small school library numerous times, I turned to dog books and discovered Albert Payson Terhune. In reading his books, I absolutely fell in love with collies like Bruce, Lad and others he wrote about living at Sunnydale, his home in New Jersey. I got my first collie when I was sixteen. Dusty was a collie mix and showed up as a stray. When I got married and couldn’t take her with me, my parents gave her to a farmer. I grieved over that.

Molly with her kitten, Fred Astaire
Through the years I had other collies and two German shepherds almost all who came either as strays or I’d found in a classified ad. Since we lived in a rural area, all our dogs were outside dogs.  Shortly after I moved to the small farm I have now, the dog I had then, a German shepherd my son brought home as a puppy years before, had to be put down when his hip totally gave out. Since I was living on my own now and teaching, I didn’t have another dog for fifteen years. It wouldn’t be fair to have a dog when I was gone so much. Then I saw an ad  for collie pups and on an impulse went to see them and picked out a tiny six week old sable and white puppy. I named her Molly and fell completely in love with her. She was the first house dog I’d ever had. Everyone loved this little fluffy ball of fur, and because of all the attention, she became the friendliest dog I’ve ever known. Everyone she met was her new very best friend and she especially loved children. She got along with all animals; the dogs we met when walking the Greenway Trail, my ponies, cats and she’d herd my chickens back into their coop when I let them out to free range which frustrated them.  She even lovingly bathed a batch of tiny wild rabbits she’d unearthed from under a rosebush in my rose garden.

And then just short of her fifth birthday, she developed grand mal seizures. With medication the vet provided her seizures were controlled for a few weeks and then she had a massive seizure leaving her hind quarters paralyzed. I had no choice but to have her put to sleep. Holding her and singing to her as she licked the tears from my face while she was being injected was extremely sad, but at least I was with her. She quietly died in my arms. I brought her home and buried her in a flower garden near my house.

Maggie hoping for a treat  before we start out.
My youngest daughter wanted me to get another collie right away, but I wasn’t ready. Still, she went on-line and searched out collie breeders in my area. Collies are not as popular as they once were and not easy to find. I went on-line and checked out collie rescue sites, but all the collies available were senior collies or those with medical problems. Having just gone through the trauma of losing one beloved collie, I didn’t want one I’d be saying good-by to in a few years.

Eventually, my daughter located two breeders reasonably close. Neither had any puppies or dogs available, but both said they’d have puppies in the fall which was fine with me. I wasn’t ready to replace Molly. When September came, one breeder called and said none of her girls took so there wouldn’t be any puppies. However, she had an eighteen-month tri-colored female, who didn’t show well so she’d sell her to me at a reasonable price. I went to see her and fell in love with her. She had a lot of champions in her blood-line which meant absolutely nothing to me. I had no interest in raising or showing dogs. The breeder had got her from Minnesota because of her pedigree. Her registered name is Twin Cities Born to Dance. Can you see me calling her by that name? She pointed out a few things that kept her from doing well in a show ring, but when I got to know Maggie, as I named her, I decided the real reason was that unlike Molly, she was a shy dog and new situations made her nervous. I couldn’t see her showing well with crowds of strange people and dogs. Even now, until I’m friendly with new people, she stands back and watches and won’t come near them.

Maggie seen through my veggie garden gate.

A few days later, the previous owner called to see how she was doing. I told her, “She’s doing very well, but she never barks.” The woman said, “Oh, that’s because she’s muted. I have all my dogs muted.” My daughter, who paid for half of her cost, was angry and wanted me to take her back which I had no intention of doing. “Mary,” I said, “you paid for half and your half of Maggie is the back half. My half is the front and I don’t care if it barks.” Actually, she does bark and can be quite vocal, but it’s not a loud shrill bark.

Maggie may not be a rescue dog in the way most people think of a rescue dog, but to me she is. She was rescued from being kept in a kennel and turned into a breeding machine. She has become a house dog, she learned she can jump up on logs in the woods on our walks and she is free to explore while we’re walking. She can chase squirrels and helps me with barn chores by barking at the ponies and telling them it’s time to come in. And best of all, she doesn’t have to share her person with multiple other dogs in small increments of time.

Maggie and I in my library.
A few days ago, Maggie brought me a present. She dropped the rolled up parcel at my feet and gave me her happy collie grin waiting for a reward for her gift. It was my great-grandson’s dirty diaper. My daughter-in-law had been babysitting with him the day before. So in my mystery mind always looking for plots, a dog bringing a clue pertaining to some crime is good. It’s not only been done in mysteries, but happens in real life. Not too long ago a dog in the next county started bringing home bones. At first the owner thought it was from a deer. He lives near a wooded area. It turned out they were human bones from a homicide.

If you’re a writer, do you include pets in your mysteries?

Do you like to read mysteries with pets in them or doesn’t it matter?


Paula Gail Benson said...

I grew up with a collie, Nixie, named after a puppy I read about in a book. I'll always be grateful for that experience. Thanks for a great blog with beautiful pictures, Gloria!

Gloria Alden said...

Thank you,Paula. Collies used to be more popular, but today it's rare to see a full sized collie. There are lots of Shelties, and someday I may downsize to one of those, but not as long as I have my Maggie.

Anonymous said...

The only thing I don't like about having dogs is that they have such a short lifespan compared t humans. The oldest dog we've had was 21 when he died, but so many of them hardly make it past 10! And we had an English mastiff who developed kidney failure (contaminated Chinese ingredients in the food, maybe?)who only lived to be 8.

Right now we have Vinnie, a Heinz 57 rescue who we got from the program at Zanesville Prison (a great program & a good bargain for a great dog) and Hamish, a labradoodle who was snatched from a shelter the day before he was to be put down by a Labrador rescue volunteeer who was there to get another dog and just couldn't stand to see that happen to such a nice dog.

James Montgomery Jackson said...

As readers of the blog know, we had to put down our most recent golden retriever, Morgan, earlier this spring. She was almost 13.

I don't care whether books have animals (unless it's The Story of Edgar Sawtelle, of course). Having or not having animals provides characterization.

They can also be a limiting factor. When someone has a dog they can't just fly off to Europe to follow a suspect because they have to find someone to feed, walk, etc. their dog.

Thanks for the lovely pictures and a view into a part of your life.

~ Jim

Shari Randall said...

Loved reading about Maggie - and seeing the pictures of your gorgeous garden.
And your cat is named Fred Astaire! A good dancer?
I agree with Jim's comment about pets - they can work as characterization, but it depends on the story.
Just read Barb Goffman's post on voice at Wicked Cozy authors. She recommends the Chet and Bernie stories by Spencer Quinn. Chet is the loving and often put-upon pet dog of Bernie, and has to find ways to help Bernie solve crimes. That pet and human team works beautifully.

Sarah Henning said...

I loved the pictures, Gloria! Such a beautiful dog and your library ... wow. I have a corgi and absolutely adore her, though, I'm embarrassed to say I haven't put dogs in my manuscripts. I can't believe they aren't there. I'm going to have to fix that!

Marilyn Patterson said...

Lovely post, Gloria. Thanks for sharing photos of your sweet dogs, Molly and Maggie. I have two dogs, one a smooth coat collie mix named Holly.

I enjoy reading mysteries with pets in them. It isn't essential, though. I like including pets in my own stories because they are so much a part of my life. It just seems natural to me to give my characters pets and then write about their antics. I have enough material from my own pets to keep me going for a long time.

Gloria Alden said...

KM, I agree that's the downside of owning dogs. I've never had any that lived as long as those of several of yours. Larger dogs tend to have a much shorter life span.

Jim, I knew you had the same experience with your golden recently. I, too, loved THE STORY OF EDGAR SAWTELLE. Although I read it several years ago, it still stays in my memory. And dogs in a story depend on the characters. I don't find them necessary to enjoy the book at all.

Thank you Shari. Freddy, as we called him, I named Fred Astaire because he was a tuxedo cat. Anyway, the two bonded when I brought Freddy home and watching them play was the funniest thing. Poor Molly got the worst of it, I think, because he'd leap on her back and fight with her ears or he'd be clinging to her ruff as she walked along dragging him along. He loved to attack her tail, too. Even funnier was when she'd get his whole head in her mouth while they played and never hurt him. Unfortunately, he got a kidney problem that couldn't be cured.

E.B. recommended the Chet and Bernie stories to me awhile back. I read one and loved it and want to read more in the series.

I'm heading up to Lake Erie for a book club meeting shortly at one of our member's cottage so I won't be back until a little later. I'll catch up with those who post later.

Sheila Connolly said...

I'm not sure I trust people who don't have pets, if they have room for them. I've never had a dog, but my mother raised and showed Shih Tzus for a while, so I got to know them. (I've got cats.)

In the Orchard Mysteries, protagonist Meg has a cat (domestic shorthair, nothing fancy) and neighbor (and more) Seth has a Golden Retriever--both are rescue animals. And Meg has a pair of goats, who she talks to now and then.

Ellis Vidler said...

Losing a beloved dog is so hard. I'm sure many of us have been through it and felt the terrible hole in our lives. I can't deal with that in books. You can be assured my dogs will survive.
In one novel I have a dog who takes an active role in resolving the crime, and there's another in my WIP. I love them, but Jim is right that they can also be limiting. I often have to go back and make sure the dog is taken care of.
Nice post, and I love your pictures. Beautiful dogs!

Warren Bull said...

Nice photos. My mom had allergies so we couldn't have anything with fur. What does having a pet turtle say about a character?

E. B. Davis said...

I love stories with dogs in them--maybe because I never had a dog or a pet growing up. I'm not sure I'd be a good pet owner since I'm so busy, but I live vicariously through dog owners in my reading. Donna Ball's rescue dog series set in N.C. is one of my favorites.

Molly was a beautiful dog, but I'm sure Maggie has helped you get over her loss.

Patg said...

No pets, no kids, but I l've enjoyed a few bookds where the animal is the sleuth. Chet, the dog, books are very good.
I once had a pug, still love them, but have found the attitudes of cats more suited to me.

Gloria Alden said...

Thank you, Ellis. In THE BLUE ROSE, I have a dog that helps save the main character. I don't kill off animals or kids.

Warren, a pet turtle would make a character interesting and probably better than one with a snake, unless you didn't want the character to be likable.

I hear you on that E.B. I find it difficult because I'm so busy, too. I just got home from being with people for hours and wanted so much to sit down and read the paper with a much needed cup of coffee, and there's that large hairy dog begging for attention. Dogs are much easier to deal with in books.

Pat, cats are an easier pet to have, there's no doubt about that. I must get more of those Chet books. I know I liked the first one very much.

Kara Cerise said...

Beautiful blog, Gloria. I grew up with a black cockapoo named Bingo after a children's song. When my family and I went to choose a puppy from a litter of six, Bingo crawled in my lap and went to sleep. We had to take him home. I think dogs pick their humans.

Gloria Alden said...

Sometimes, I think that's true, Kara. One of my favorite collies, that I didn't mention in my blog was Eliza Doolittle. My husband saw her pacing back and forth in front of a restaurant when he went there for lunch. She was still there when he left work so he brought her home. I put an ad in the lost and found column in the newspaper and no one claimed her even though she was obviously a pure collie. But she had tumors on several legs so the vet said that's probably why she was dumped. I had the tumors removed and had her spayed, and she was one of the best dogs I ever had.

Elaine Will Sparber said...

My uncle taught me that you can tell a lot about people by their attitude toward animals. My uncle loved all animals, and in his eyes, if someone loved a pet, they were a good person. You're a wonderful person, Gloria.

I grew up with pets and have had a menagerie most of my adult life. Having two sons brought about the menagerie, of course. I never minded. I can't imagine life without pets.

Kath Marsh said...

Thank you for this post! Molly and Maggie are lucky ladies, as are you.

I had no idea dogs were ever muted. I'm shocked. But i'm so glad you and Maggie have each other.

I do like cats and dogs in mysteries. As secondary characters-;)

Gloria Alden said...

I understand your uncle's reasoning, Elaine, but my father was the kindest most caring man there could be, but he wasn't an animal lover. He grew up in a large family and there was no money for pets. Still, he did allow us to have pets, but not house pets.

Thank you, Kath. I had no idea dogs were muted, either, until I got Maggie. Don't feel sorry for her, though. She is quite vocal - sometimes too much.

Christoper said...

This is gorgeous!