Nano Nano to You

NANO NANO

Yesterday a friend asked me why I participate in Nanowrimo.

“You don’t need it,” he said.

I have thirty-eight published novels, and I stopped counting the short stories when I hit one hundred.

“I need it,” I replied.

Because I want to have thirty-nine published novels.

Admittedly Nanowrimo won’t net me that published credit, but it gives me a push in the fall when I need it. The year winding down, writer fatigue ratcheting up, Nano arrives at a good time. I know a lot of published authors who participate in Nanowrimo. Sure, it might have started as a challenge to newbies… and I think it is awesome for new writers… but it is a relevant exercise for all authors at all levels.

The challenge is fun.

It instills a deadline.

There’s a support group. And there are marvelous advice columns that accompany it in your email in-box.

I’ve challenged a lot of friends through the year to join me. Some of them take me up on it. Others say they don’t have time; too much going on; etc.; etc.; etc.

This year it would be easy for me not to participate. My editing schedule is choked. I have family obligations. Honestly, I don’t know if I can hit even close to the 50,000 word mark.

But I’m gonna give it a helluva try.

I’m outlining the third Piper Blackwell novel. I’ve seven chapters sketched…out of likely forty. I’m following the Nano rules. Outline ahead of time. Start writing November 1. I won’t have the whole book outlined by then, but I hope to have a dozen chapters sketched.

Yeah, I’m gonna give it a helluva try.

Join me?

NANOWRIMO WEBSITE

Two Cents for New Writers

You can consider my two cents wheat pennies…it feels like I’ve been in the writing business that long.

I spent about twenty years giving writing seminars and programs in the summer…at conventions, schools, museums, on-line. Summer and into the fall seems a good time for writing classes.

My advice has changed since I started that. “Back in the day” there wasn’t the e-revolution, and your route to getting a novel in the bookstores was traditional publishers or self-publishing. The e-explosion changed that. More than a million books are published every year now, and a new writer has to compete with that.

On the proverbial one hand it is easier to get published. There are a lot of small press publishers, and there’s the do-it-yourself avenue. Sure, there are still the traditional big New York publishers, but they are far far far from your only option.

The whole publishing dynamic is different. Today, you can’t be “just a writer.” Remember…one million books a year. You have to be a social media guru, a marketer. You have to promote or your book will go nowhere. I recently read an article that said the average book sells 250 copies or less. If you don’t want to have an average book, you have to spend time putting you and your books out there.

I had an e-conversation with my current publisher the other night. She pointed out that for the past two years book sales have been down down down, that some small publishers are closing. They were also talking about this issue at a recent mystery writers’ convention I attended.

Maybe individual book sales are declining because the number of books published are increasing. Some think sales are dropping because people are reading less and spending more time with computer games of various stripes. Many people I know admit to reading less.

Not a good sign for either newcomers or veteran authors.

So…back to my two cents.

My advice is to write every day. Every. Day. It makes you better. You can’t finish a novel if you only write when you feel like it. Join a writer’s group…because often that improves your craft. Network with other writers and editors; they’ll point you to which publishers and agents are looking. Don’t quit your day job. Unless you become a sensation and get an amazing advance, writing isn’t terribly lucrative. Don’t rely on it as your only income.

I’m a full-time writer. But I supplement it with editing novels on the side, and mentoring college students. Writing alone won’t cut it. Plus, my husband works full-time and has insurance.

So…write every day and don’t give up. Don’t let rejection notices get to you. Don’t let “one million books published a year” get to you.

I saw a posting on Facebook, a youngish writer who announced to the world that he was giving up, throwing in the towel. So many people were commenting under his post that he should stick with it, persevere, soldier on. I nearly typed: good luck on your next endeavor. But I stopped myself and scrolled on. His voice is one less writer to compete with in the slush pile.

One cent: write every day.
Another cent: don’t give up.
…not if you really want to be a writer.

Hey, it is Nanowrimo time. Give it a shot.

Take A Look At My Office

My Cacophonous Mess

So they asked what my office looks like.

Depends which office.

Late spring through early fall my office is my screened-in back porch. I have a big table I found on sale at Wal-Mart, and a comfy desk chair (also on sale). For five hours everyday I take my laptop outside and write write write…or edit. It has a dog door so my dogs can go in and out to the fenced backyard as they please. It is the best office in the world, eh? It’s not pretty. The porch looks run-down, the indoor-outdoor carpet old; it was like this when we bought the house. I’ve put up nice window blinds, fans, and I know better than to try and replace the carpet. I have four dogs (don’t ask…that’s for another story). Oh, I work more than five hours a day, but I have to spend a couple hours in my indoor office to keep my parrot company.

My inside office, a dedicated room with file cabinets, beautiful walnut desk, and a desktop computer, is a cacophonous mess. Here’s the deal. I have a parrot, as I mentioned in the paragraph above, a miniature macaw that’s roughly 30 years old. The best place for her is the office, where she can’t bite friends who come over and where she isn’t too close to a wall to chew on it. I give her freedom, open her big cage, she can go in and out as she pleases and clamber around on top and play with toys. The walls in my office were never repainted when we moved in (don’t ask…that’s for another story), and so she can’t really hurt them. I spread newspapers out all around this big cage to protect the old carpet that wasn’t replaced when we moved in. My husband figured it was just an office, right? It didn’t need to look nice. Sigh.

I have four dogs. And sometimes they shred the newspaper under the bird cage, like they’re making confetti for a parade. Dogs gotta have something to do, right? And sometimes the dogs go nose-to-nose with the parrot and they have interesting conversations (really). The parrot talks, sings, scolds the dogs, and tells them “shut up” when they bark. The dogs squeak toys and play…always in my office, as they want to be with me. So my office is noisy. I’ve learned to tune it out. And it’s a mess…newspapers, errant bird seeds, dog toys everywhere.

A cacophonous mess. And it’s wonderful. It’s colorful. It’s lively. I am not lonely here. I am never lonely when I write.

Now…I do clean up my office; once a week. Wag fingers at me if you must. But I’m a writer and so I will write write write, edit, toss tennis balls, take my pug for a little walk, then write write write. Picking up my office happens once a week.

It’s wonderful, my cacophonous mess. Life is better with dogs. And I’d rather have the dogs than a tidy office.

My office is also filled with narrow bookcases containing interesting and eclectic reference books about medieval garb, food in the Middle Ages, knights, trees, fish, rocks, word origins, dictionaries, and a thesaurus. Oh, I almost forgot…Italian aviators in WWI, WWII slang, a dictionary of battles, and forensics.

My decor is finished with Beanie Babies. I started a tradition with my first novel, I bought a Beanie Baby pug dog to celebrate. I could hardly justify buying one otherwise. I have 38 dog Beanie Babies on shelves around my office and across the top of my desk.

Because I have 38 books published.

I’m currently shopping the 39th, and I’ve started on the 40th. I found some Beanie Babies on eBay…they’re in a little bag in my office…waiting to join the rest.


The Dead of Night
Order The Dead of Night on Amazon by clicking HERE

The Dead of Winter
Find The Dead of Winter on Amazon by clicking HERE

And my Amazon author page HERE

Bad Pottery and Good Friends

When I lived in Kenosha, Wisconsin, I took pottery classes from an amazing instructor who taught out of an equally amazing museum.

I made amazingly bad pottery there. Seriously. I crafted a “hand-built” teapot that was crooked and couldn’t pour. And some other ugly dishes. My buddy Vicki took the finished pieces home so her husband could shoot them at the gun range.

On one occasion, our pottery class made “hand-built” bowls that when glazed all prettily would be auctioned at a charity event called Bowls and Books (or something like that). I didn’t want to know what my bowls went for.

Anyway, the “books” part of the event intrigued me, and I discovered that I could lease a dealer’s table and hawk my novels. Fate waltzed in. Chris Verstraete, a local author, leased the table next to mine. We chatted. I invited her to the Kenosha writer’s group, and we became good friends.

Chris sent out a newsletter today…she has a GREAT newsletter. You can subscribe HERE in the middle of her webpage. She mentioned my new book in it, The Dead of Night, a Piper Blackwell mystery. She’s mentioned my books before and has hosted me for guest blogs. Chris is incredibly supportive to other writers.

So I wanted to thank her publicly for all her support. Writing is a tough business…SO MANY BOOKS, more than a million, are published each year. We writers try to claw our way up the stack to catch a reader’s attention. Chris is one of those fine folks who helps others with the clawing.

I know authors who get acidic when their fellows experience success, and who do nothing to promote another writer…perhaps out of fear it will lessen their own chances or take away a potential sale.

Then there’s Chris. Everyone should have a Chris Verstraete in their writing life. Chris pens zombie tales, sometimes mixing them with historical mysteries. She has a vivid and blessedly twisted imagination. HERE is a link to a lovely mystery-history-romance novella, her latest release, The Haunting of Dr. Bowen.

When I moved from Kenosha to the middle of a cornfield in Illinois, Chris came over and helped me pack. How wonderful that bad pottery led to a lasting friendship.

Many other authors have also helped me through the years. I can’t name them all in one blog post, but I will list a few here, as I am in a thankful mood today. I’ll get around to more fine folks later.

Steven Paul Leiva, smooth wordsmith from beautiful, enviable California, wrote an insightful article on Ray Bradbury for a magazine I edited. He’s reviewed some of my novels, including in The Huffington Post. I’ve read many of his books, not sure which one is my favorite, as they are all very different. I was charmed by IMP. HERE is the book that introduced me to him. And HERE is his Amazon author page so you can look at his offerings.

Beth Vaughan writes smoochy books filled with sword fights and magic. HERE is her Amazon page. Beth chats with me every weekend, about dogs, cats, fireballs, mimics, and writing. Always about writing. Her advice has helped more than one of my characters get out of trouble.

Donald J. Bingle co-authored The Love-Haight Case Files with me (which won three Silver Falchion Awards). Don, a retired attorney, provided invaluable insights into wills (for a novel I wrote), and airbags (for a different novel). HERE Is his Amazon author page.

Raymond Benson (yeah, NYT Bestselling author of James Bond books) was kind enough to read a manuscript for me, offer suggestions, and blurb it. Cool beans, eh? He has a new novel releasing on the 10th, The Secrets on Chickory Lane. I had the great fortune to read it in advance. WOW.

Jonathan Maberry thankfully blurbed my latest book. I pre-ordered this upcoming JOE LEDGER novel. I love Joe Ledger.

Faith Hunter blurbed the book and hosted a blog. And Faith graciously allowed me to be in her Rogue Mage anthology: Tribulations.

R.L. King provided an excellent blurb for my most recent mystery book, and so did Beth Terrell (Jaden Terrell)…I have two of her private detective books sitting on the shelf in my office. Her next will be set in Alaska…brrrrrrrr.

Writing is a lonely calling. But fellow authors can make the journey better, especially those souls who support each other…who celebrate and lift you up instead of put you down. Those authors who revel in the success of others…they are the ones I am fast to read. The works of those authors find their way to the top of my to-be-read stack. I should be getting that Joe Ledger at the end of the month…looking forward to the read.

Meet Mark the Shark

In a handful of days my next Piper Blackwell mystery comes out: The Dead of Night.

It opens with a character called Mark the Shark.
I met all three of him in Quincy, Illinois.

My father-in-law lives in a senior apartment complex in Quincy. On one of my visits I saw a fellow in the lobby reading a Stuart Woods book. I, too, read Stuart Woods books, so I stopped to chat. My husband had warned me not to, saying that the gentleman would latch on to anyone willing to pay attention to him. He said I wouldn’t be able to get rid of him.

Fortunately, I didn’t heed the warning.

“Nobody talks to me,” he said. “Name’s Marc by the way. Nobody.”

My husband was right…he latched on. Marc had as many lines on his face as old tree bark.

“I get lonely,” he said. Marc went on to tell me that he’d given his car to his grandson, and that said grandson would be picking him up in the morning to drive him to a funeral.

I learned he had two loves in his life. A wife who’d died many years ago, and a girlfriend he met at the retirement center and wished he would have married. She’d died several months back. He carried an eight by ten picture of her in a tote bag to show people. He missed them both, yet he counted himself lucky and blessed to have known and loved these two women. His grandson occasionally took him to the cemeteries so he could put roses on the women’s graves.

Marc worked as a welder with my father-in-law, traced their association back more than sixty years, recalled when my father-in-law took a swing at him ‘cause he was wearing a Kennedy for President button. He’s not a Democrat anymore. Not really a Republican, either.

He said he loved mystery books…and we adored many of the same authors: Tami Hoag, Robert Crais, Michael Connelly, Lee Goldberg, Preston and Child, and on and on. We chatted about Harry Bosch and Elvis Cole and Aloysius Pendergast. He said he was particularly fond of authors that only hinted at bedroom scenes, leaving it to the imagination rather than blatantly describing sex acts; he said the better authors could tease you.

On the next visit to my father-in-law’s place, I gave Marc a copy of The Dead of Winter, my first Piper Blackwell book.

On another visit he pronounced the book “excellent,” and said I had made his favorite authors’ list.

He asked what kind of music I liked. I said classical and country. Marc serenaded me with a few moldy oldies I’d not heard before, then ended it with Good Ol Rocky Top. His voice wasn’t bad.

“Thanks for talking to me,” he said after every visit.

It wasn’t so much Marc needed someone to talk to. It’s that he needed someone to listen.

I told him I’d find a way to slip a piece of him into my next murder mystery—The Dead of Night, which releases September 15. I found just the spot for him in sleepy Spencer County, Indiana, someone for my sheriff to interact with. I put him in the opening scene.

But he’s not alone on that park bench. I created the Mark the Shark character based on my conversations with him and with two other men from the senior apartment complex, Navy veterans all. One of the men, Jim, is 102. The other man, Jerry, is my father-in-law; he recently turned 90. All three told me stories of their days in the Navy. I took lots of notes.

Though Mark the Shark is fiction, he was inspired by these three veterans, and some of the tales the Shark tells in The Dead of Night were things that happened overseas during these men’s deployment. I even used the real ships they were stationed on.

I’m fond of Mark the Shark. I hope you’ll like him too.

Here’s a piece of the opening scene with him:

He scooted over, making room for her. She guessed him to be in his early eighties. Twin canes were hooked over the top slat, and he wore a bulky jacket. The dispatcher had mentioned he was a geezer—“a whack-job paranoid geezer likely visited by aliens” were the exact words—and said that he claimed it was urgent and he would only speak to the sheriff…and only at this time and place.

“Evening, Mr. Thresher,” Piper said as she sat, keeping a good foot between them. He was redolent of old-man smells—warring liniments and too much aftershave. She swiveled to face him, took off her hat and rested it on her knees.

“Mark, Sheriff Blackwell.”

“Evening, Mark,” she said.

“Mark the Shark.”

“Interesting nickname,” Piper said.

“Had it a long time. Had it since the war.”

His voice was gritty like sheets of sandpaper rubbing together, a smoker’s voice, though she didn’t detect a hint of nicotine. She tipped her head and found the scent of the nearby river and the headiness of the sodden ground. More lightning speared the clouds, looking like metallic threads embroidered on a garment.

“You were in a war of sorts yourself,” Mark the Shark continued. “Read it in the newspaper last fall. That was a few weeks before the election. Read all about you.”

“Two tours in Iraq. Downrange assignments mostly.”

“That’s why I voted for you. I like folks with military experience, serving the country and all. Patriotic. Didn’t matter to me that you were what—”

“Twenty-three.” She still was. Her birthday was five months away.

“Yeah, didn’t matter that you were a pup. The article said you were Military Police. I figured that’d make you an excellent sheriff…just like your dad. Good man, Paul Blackwell. Good sheriff.” A pause. “Despite his politics.”

USA Today Bestselling author Jean Rabe has written 37 fantasy, urban fantasy, and science fiction novels. The Dead of Night, her 38th, is her second Piper Blackwell mystery. She has roughly 100 short stories in print, has edited a couple dozen anthologies, and has edited more magazines than she cares to tally. When she isn’t writing or editing, she tosses tennis balls to her cadre of dogs, visits museums, and tries to find gamers who will play Axis & Allies with her.

The Dead of Night
Order The Dead of Night on Amazon by clicking here

The Dead of Winter
Find The Dead of Winter on Amazon by clicking here

My Amazon author page is here

Mystery in Fall River with my buddy Christine

Christine (C.A.) Verstraete is the author of Lizzie Borden, Zombie Hunter. Her new novella, The Haunting of Dr. Bowen, A Mystery in Lizzie Borden’s Fall River, offers another view of the Borden murders by providing a glimpse into how the crime could have affected the Bordens’ neighbor and family physician, Dr. Seabury Bowen. Learn more at her website and blog.

Who is Dr. Bowen and why write about him?

Dr. Seabury Bowen was not only neighbor to Lizzie Borden and her family – his house was kitty-corner from theirs – but he was also their family physician. Following the murders of Andrew Borden and his wife Abby Durfee Borden on August 4th, 1892, the youngest daughter, Lizzie, sent the maid, Bridget Sullivan, out to find the doctor.

He was among the first officials at the murder scene.
As there are only newspaper reports and his trial testimony to go from, I started to wonder how the murders might have affected him. Yes, he was a medical professional, but this was a horrible crime – and he personally knew the victims. Beyond the ordinary motives, I thought there could possibly be a supernatural and paranormal influence. Why not?

Some facts about the Borden crime and Dr. Bowen:

* Bowen was the Bordens’ doctor for 12 years and practiced in Fall River for 26 years, according to his testimony for the defense on the fourth day of Lizzie Borden’s trial on June 8, 1893.

* He lived across from the Bordens for 21 years, with the Borden family living there “most” of the time.

* Only neighbor Mrs. Churchill and Lizzie were present when Dr. Bowen arrived at the Borden house. Lizzie’s first response to his question of what had happened is “Father has been killed” (or stabbed).

* He was the first to examine Mr. Borden, feeling no pulse and observed that nothing else was disturbed.

* He asked Lizzie where she’d been, to which she answered, “in the barn looking for some iron.” (fishing weights – for someone who never goes fishing?)

* Lizzie also told him that Mrs. Borden went out as she’d received a note, though Bowen said he wasn’t sure that was her exact words. He also later was described by a Fall River policeman as burning a written piece of paper. Coincidence?

* Newspaper reports described a relationship that seemed more than just distant neighbors…

* Did you know? He prescribed a small dose of morphine to Lizzie – up to the time of her arrest, the hearing and during her time at the station house. He admitted that double doses would produce hallucinations and loss of memory.

Yes, there’s more… but you’ll have to read the book to find out!

About The Haunting of Dr. Bowen, A Mystery in Lizzie Borden’s Fall River:

The short supernatural-flavored mystery (141 pages) is on Kindle, Kindle Unlimited and coming in print. FIND IT HERE.

Author website is HERE.

Gruesome deaths haunt the industrial city of Fall River, Massachusetts.

Dr. Seabury Bowen—physician to the infamous Lizzie Borden—swears he’s being stalked by spirits, though his beloved wife thinks it’s merely his imagination. But the retired doctor insists that neither greed nor anger provoked the recent sensational axe murders in Fall River. Rather, he believes the city is poisoned by bad blood and a thirst for revenge dating back to the Indian and Colonial wars.

Now, two years after the Borden murders, Dr. Bowen is determined to uncover the mysteries stirring up the city’s ancient, bloodthirsty specters. Can he discover who, or what, is shattering the peace before Fall River runs red? Or will he be the next victim?

Part mystery, part love story, The Haunting of Dr. Bowen reveals the eerie side of Fall River as witnessed by the first doctor on the scene of the legendary Borden murders.

An excerpt of The Haunting of Dr. Bowen, A Mystery in Lizzie Borden’s Fall River:

Prologue

“Never did I say to anyone that she had died of fright. My first thought, when I was standing in the door, was that she had fainted.”

—Testimony of Dr. Seabury W. Bowen, Trial of Lizzie Borden, June 8, 1893

Why won’t anyone believe me? Why, Phoebe, why?”

Dr. Seabury Bowen shoved back the shock of white hair hanging over his forehead and wiped a wrinkled hand across his stubbled chin.
His appearance, like his surroundings, could stand a bit of major housekeeping, not that he cared a whit.

“Here, it’s here somewhere,” he mumbled.

The old man rummaged among the giant pile of documents, books, and what-not littering the large walnut desk in his study. Several minutes later, and after the search through dozens of loose papers, he saw the faded red book lying beneath a tottering pile. He pulled at it, sending the rest of the stack falling like so much unwanted garbage.

The good doctor, but a shadow of his once- robust self, flipped the pages. He stared at the offending journal entry before setting the book aside with a heartrending sob.

Chapter One

“I saw the form of Mr. Borden lying on the lounge at the left of the sitting-room door. His face was very badly cut, apparently with a sharp instrument; his face was covered with blood.”
—Testimony of Dr. Seabury W. Bowen, Trial of Lizzie Borden, June 8, 1893

The man reached toward him with long, lean fingers. Dr. Seabury Bowen blinked and tried to make out the features of the unknown figure standing in the corner. The unexpected visitor had a broad, dark face and what looked like a band across his forehead. Bowen stretched out his arm in turn and jumped when their fingers touched, the jolt surging through him like the electricity he knew would soon replace all the gas lights.

“Seabury, dear, are you all right?” His wife, Phoebe, sounded concerned. “What’s wrong?”

Bowen breathed hard. He bolted upright and held a hand on his chest, trying to catch his breath. Still stunned, he gazed about the room, disturbed at the odd shapes until he recognized familiar things… the bureau, the armoire, the paintings on his bedroom walls. He swallowed and nodded.

“Ye-yes. I-I’m fine. A bad dream, that’s all it was. Just a dream.”

“A bad dream? Dear, you’re breathing so hard, your heart must be pounding like a drum in Mr. Sousa’s band! Are you sure you’re fine?”

The doctor took his wife’s hand and kissed it, relieved to feel his heartbeat return to normal. He had to admit his reaction worried him for a minute, too. “I’m fine now, Phoebe. Really, it’s all right. Go back to sleep. I’m too wrought up to rest. I think I’ll go downstairs and read awhile.”

He gave her a loving smile before he rose and slipped on his robe, his thoughts in a whirl. To tell the truth, these dreams or hallucinations or whatever they were appeared to be getting stronger and more frequent. Not that he’d tell her, of course. It made Bowen wonder if he was losing touch with his faculties, something he’d never dare mention. Nor did he want to even entertain the thought, but he did. Am I going mad? Am I?

* Get the story HERE.

Wrinkles and my other four-legged muses

MUSE: a person or force providing inspiration for a creative artist

Synonyms: inspiration, creative influence, stimulus, DOG

I started out as a fantasy and science fiction writer. Well, actually I started out as a newspaper reporter covering courts, cops, and crime. But when I dove into the fiction well it was dragons and ogres and goblins and the like. That’s when I discovered that the dogs wrapped around my feet were my muses.

When I needed to write scenes from creatures’ perspectives, I didn’t want them to seem like humans in scaly suits. Those characters shouldn’t think like humans…or be motivated by all the same things.

So I looked at the world through my dogs’ eyes for inspiration. Dogs are pretty basic. Though each one has a very distinct personality; they all like to eat, play, sleep, and be in my company. They adore cheese, apples, strawberries, an assortment of things that are not meant to be edible; chasing tennis balls; ripping apart fluffy toys to find the squeaker; naps by the fireplace in the winter; walks down the block and peeing on every mailbox post along the way; chasing lightning bugs and butterflies; slaying rabbits that foolishly slip under the backyard fence; barking at the wind; and taking long dips in the kiddie pool in the summer. They live in the moment. They are amazing.

I wrote The Stonetellers Dragonlance trilogy for Wizards of the Coast, where the main goblins and hobgoblins were drawn from dogs who shared their years with me. My editor at the time told me he thought it was my best work. I never mentioned where the characters came from.

Now that I’ve switched genres, diving into the mystery well, I use my dogs another way…I slip them wholly into the stories.

My favorite dog…I think people with multiple dogs lie if they claim they love their dogs equally…is Wrinkles, an elderly pug gifted to me by a woman who was in the Air Force and who could no longer keep him. As I write this, Wrinkles is draped across my toes and softly snoring. He’s my constant shadow, and I sneak him cheese when the other dogs aren’t looking. My other canine companions include: Missy, a Boston terrier rescue; Fable, a Labrador my husband brought home from a farm; and Jake, a BIG Labrador, a foster who has made himself at home.

In my first mystery novel, The Dead of Winter, dogs and cats play an integral role in the plot. They’re carefully scattered in the background, but are key in my villain’s motivation. No fictional dogs or cats were harmed in the book. Wrinkles appears curled between the feet of a murder victim, and because he has some age to him, one of my characters takes him home rather than to the shelter. He also makes an appearance in The Dead of Night, my second mystery novel featuring Sheriff Piper Blackwell. Another dog and cat are added to the mix in that book. It comes out September 15. Maybe it’s a theme for the Piper books…adding pets to my characters’ lives. I think I’ll put a parrot in the third book. I have a miniature macaw named Trouble in my office.

One of my favorite mystery writers, Robert B. Parker of Spencer and Jesse Stone fame, put dogs in his books. His picture on the dust jacket showed him with a German Shorthair Pointer. Another favorite author, Robert Crais, introduced a canine character Maggie in his excellent novel Suspect, and continued her adventures in The Promise. My friend Margaret Weis, who writes fantasy, has four fine canine companions who join her in flyball. Donald J. Bingle, a writer pal who specializes in thrillers, has two rescue Shar-Peis. I know writers with cats…but this column is about dogs. Fantasy author R.A. Salvatore has three Japanese Chins. The awesome tale-spinner Brendan DuBois posts pictures of his companion Spencer the Wonder Dog. Alaskan SF author Craig Martelle talks about his walking buddy Phyllis the Arctic Dog. Jack Dann, most excellent author from Down Under, has a beagle. I’ll stop my list now.

Dogs and writers seem to go together, I think. They get us up from the keyboard for walks and to throw tennis balls. They lure us outside at night in the summer to marvel at the fireflies and to bark at the wind. They keep our feet warm, our hearts happy, our wallets thinner, our homes messier, and our writing lives better. And they are so kind as to let us look at the world through their eyes.

USA Today Bestselling author Jean Rabe has written 37 fantasy, urban fantasy, and science fiction novels. The Dead of Night, her 38th, is her second mystery. She has roughly 100 short stories in print, has edited a couple dozen anthologies, and has edited more magazines than she cares to tally. When she isn’t writing or editing, she tosses tennis balls to her cadre of dogs, visits museums, and tries to find gamers who will play Axis & Allies with her.

The Dead of Winter Find The Dead of Winter on Amazon by clicking here: https://www.amazon.com/Dead-Winter-Piper-Blackwell-Mystery-ebook/dp/B01LY5X4BB/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1475603013&sr=8-1&keywords=the+dead+of+winter+by+jean

And my Amazon author page at: https://www.amazon.com/Jean-Rabe/e/B00J1QR5U2/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_1

I have a newsletter filled with tidbits about my dogs, upcoming books, reviews of things I’m reading, and writing advice. You can subscribe here: http://jeanrabe.us14.list-manage1.com/subscribe?u=89364515308e8b5e7ffdf6892&id=9404531a4b