Sep 232015

cozy wednesday 2013 640Welcome to Cozy Wednesday! 

It is my pleasure to welcome Sheila Webster Boneham back to Escape With Dollycas!
Her new book
Shepherd’s Crook, comes out October 6!


Life into Fiction

By Sheila Webster Boneham


Boneham_Sheila_and_JayMy Animals in Focus Mysteries are, of course, fiction. I made up the stories, and I made up the characters. Still, many elements of the books are based on experience, my own and other people’s. Like most writers, I gather material constantly and just about anything I hear or learn or see is fodder for my imagination if it helps the story (although I do change the names unless I have permission!).

Sometimes I use my own life stories. In Shepherd’s Crook, for instance, Janet MacPhail has a run in with a “speaker-phone boor” at a coffee house. We’ve all had encounters with those guys, right? I certainly did a couple of year ago, and when I asked the guy in the booth behind me to turn off his speaker phone, he told me to “stick it.” I just wish I’d been as quick on the uptake as Janet is in the book!

Shepherds Crook_300dpiJanet, is a fifty-something professional photographer whose career focuses (sorry, couldn’t help myself) mostly on animals. She is also an avid participant in sports and other activities with her dog, Jay, and—yes!—her cat, Leo. Many of their adventures are based on my own experience competing, volunteering, and hanging out with my dogs, and playing with my cats. (Maybe one of these days I’ll follow Janet’s lead and have an agility cat!)

The first book in the series, Drop Dead on Recall, opens with Janet and Jay at an obedience trial. I’ve competed in obedience with my own six Australian Shepherds and three Labrador Retrievers, and drew on my triumphs, goofs, disappointments, and overall enjoyment of sharing the sport with my dogs. Here’s the real-life Jay performing the “retrieve over high jump” in open obedience competition.


In The Money Bird, Janet and Jay spend a lot of time hanging out with friend Tom Saunders and his black Lab, Drake, at a retriever field-training sessions. Although I never competed in hunt tests or field trials with my Labs, I did a fair amount of training with Raja and Annie—and with my Aussie, Jay, who was a terrific retriever! That’s Annie going after a bumper (a cylindrical training device made of canvas, foam, or plastic).


The sport of agility, both canine and feline, is front and center in Catwalk, although (as in all of the books) Janet and Tom take the dogs to obedience, tracking, and field-training sessions as well. Most of the dog-sport enthusiasts I know train in at least two, and often four or five, different sports with their dogs, so Janet’s devotion to her hobby is not unusual. As I said, I haven’t yet trained a cat for feline agility, but one of these days….


In three of the books—Drop Dead on Recall, Catwalk, and now Shepherd’s Crook—Jay is called on to use his tracking skills to help find a lost soul of one species or another. Most people think of search-and-rescue or police and military dogs when they think of tracking, but tracking is also a sport in which dogs can earn titles from the American Kennel Club and other organizations. I’ve done some tracking with several of my dogs, including my current Lab, Lily, who started tracking at eight weeks of age and earned her Tracking Dog title at a year old. Here she is finding a “lost” glove at twelve weeks.


Not all of Janet’s—or my—activities with animals are competitive. In the books, Janet has had Jay and Leo certified as therapy animals, and they make volunteer visits to the library and other venues. I have also taken a number of my certified dogs to hospitals, schools, libraries, nursing homes, and shelters over the years, and I was at one time a tester and evaluator for one of the certifying organizations. Here’s the real Jay’s mother, Sage, during a visit with special needs children.


Other people who “play with animals” also have great stories, of course. I’ve been known to use anecdotes I’ve heard or read on the Internet—modifed of course—to build scenes. And sometimes, I ask my friends and fans to send me their funniest or most inspiring or most unusual stories. When I was working on Shepherd’s Crook, for instance, I needed some funny herding-trial tales. My friend Corey Norman, who I know

in real life from the many Michigan dog shows I’ve shown in, sent me a hilarious “killer sheep” story that I used in the book, with Janet standing (sort of!) for Corey. Another funny scene in the book involving a young Border Collie’s first encounter with sheep came from April Bruce. By the way, that’s another of April’s lovely BCs on the cover of Drop Dead on Recall. Here’s my first Aussie, Teddy, taking a breather after a herding lesson.

shepherd's crook

Not all the life-to-fiction scenes in my books involve animals, of course. Janet (and I) do some things without the critters in tow! In Shepherd’s Crook, there’s not only the “jerk in the coffee-house” scene, but the “shopping for a dress for the wedding” scene, which follows pretty closely my own experience as a forty-ish bride meeting a twenty-ish sales clerk. In fact, quite a few events in the books have to do with Janet’s age, which we boomers know is not an obstacle to an active! But that’s another story.


Shepherds Crook_300dpiShepherd’s Crook
(An Animals in Focus Mystery)

4th in Series
Setting – Indiana
Midnight Ink (October 8, 2015)
Trade Paperback: 336 pages
ISBN-13: 978-0738744872
E-Book ASIN: B015CZD176




Animal photographer Janet MacPhail has just arrived at a sheepherding competition with her Australian Shepherd, Jay, when she learns that two-dozen sheep have disappeared. Police think the animals have wandered off, but Janet is convinced they’ve been stolen.

Janet knows she should leave the snooping to the police while she attends to her own problems—new living arrangements, her mom’s wedding plans, puppy and kitten antics, and extremists bent on keeping people from having pets. But when a livestock handler turns up dead, the police and a pair of thugs pay Janet way more attention than she likes. Setting out to find answers, Janet puts herself in the killer’s crosshairs.

About The Author 

Sheila Webster Boneham is the author of the Animals in Focus Mystery series. Drop Dead on Recall, the first in the series, won the Dog Writers Association of America Award in Fiction, Mystery, or Humor. She is also the author of 17 nonfiction books, six of which have won major awards from the Dog Writers Association of America and the Cat Writers Association. For the past two decades Boneham has been showing her Australian Shepherds and Labrador Retrievers in various canine sports. She has also bred top-winning Aussies, and founded rescue groups for Aussies and Labs. Boneham holds a doctorate in folklore from Indiana University and resides in Wilmington, N.C. For more information, go to ,, or


Sheila is giving away 1 copy of 1 of her books!
Winner’s Choice and Format
Print Copy Available for U.S. Addresses Only
Duplicate entries will be deleted. Void where prohibited.

You do not have to be a follower to enter but I hope you will find
something you like here and become a follower.

Followers Will Receive 2 Bonus Entries For Each Way They Follow.
Plus 2 Bonus Entries For Liking My Facebook Fan Page.

Following the new Google+ Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book Fan Page
will earn you 3 Bonus Entries.

Leave a comment for Sheila for 5 Bonus Entries.

Pin this giveaway to Pinterest for 3 Bonus Entries.

If you publicize the giveaway on Twitter or Facebook or anywhere you will receive
5 Bonus Entries For Each Link.

Contest Will End October 7, 2015 at 11:59 PM CST
Winners Will Be Chosen By
Winners Will Be Notified By Email
and Will Be Posted Here In The Sidebar.

Click Here For Entry Form


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  29 Responses to “Cozy Wednesday with Sheila Webster Boneham – Author of Shepherd’s Crook – Giveaway too!”

  1. They all look great, hope to get a chance to rad one of them.

  2. Sounds like a terrific series, I really enjoy stories with animals in them. And what great pictures in the post! Thanks for the giveaway.

  3. Great guest post! This sounds like a series I need to read – have not read anything by Sheila before. Love her true stories of her dogs and how she uses them for inspiration.

  4. Dogs and cozies…what could be better!

  5. I love cozy mysteries that include animals in them. If the cover is any sign as to the story inside I am sure they will be a great read.

  6. These cozy mysteries with animals are delightful and special. I would love to read these great books. Thanks.

  7. New author for me looking forward to reading your books.

  8. Thanks for having me here again, Lori!

  9. Sounds like a great read.

  10. They all sound great. My DIL is a dog trainer. She also works with training her reptiles.

  11. What a fun, wonderful guest post. Thanks for sharing about your experiences and those exciting photos! I’d love to read this book!
    My sister trained her huge Iguana to walk on a leash!

  12. Sheila, wonderful post! I’ve enjoyed each book and look forward to the this one!

  13. What a great sounding series. We love animals so I’m sure we’d enjoy it. Thanks for the chance to win a book.

  14. It is amazing to me how little known Australian Shepherds were until fairly recently. And now you see them everywhere.

    • You’re right, and that’s not always a good thing for a breed. A lot of Aussies end up in rescue, or worse, because people don’t understand what they’re getting. They’re definitely not a breed for everyone. But no breed is!

  15. This sounds like a great series! I am looking forward to getting into it as I enjoy cozy mysteries with animals. Haven’t yet read one with sheep, or Australian shepherds!

  16. Really enjoy books with experienced characters. I’m sure I’ll love this one.

  17. This is one of my favorite animal series/authors. Looking forward to reading this book.

  18. Since I’m an animal lover, I’m partial to mysteries with animals in them. I’d love to read this book. Thanks for the contest.

  19. A new author for me!! All these books sound wonderful.

  20. I have not seen any of these books as of yet, This looks like a wonderful series. I love animals, I have three rescue cats and work with a dog rescue. I know I will love this series!
    I just noticed on the covers that there is a dead body in of the scenes. Somehow I missed that at first,(I guess I read to many murder mysteries, it must not even phase me anymore.)

    • The dead bodies are a bit subtle, but it’s been fun coming up with ways to maintain that cover theme. I hope you enjoy the series! (Each book stands alone, but the character arc will make more sense if you start at the beginning.) Thanks, Cindy!

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