I am so excited to welcome Carolyn Haines back to Escape With Dollycas!
Her Rock-a-Bye Bones: A Sarah Booth Delaney Mystery came out on Tuesday!
A LITTLE BIT OF HEAVEN
by Carolyn Haines
As some of you may know, my sleuth in the Sarah Booth Delaney mystery series has several horses. Three to be exact. Reveler, Miss Scrapiron, and Lucifer. They’re all based on my own horses or horses I’ve known and cared about.
Twenty-six years ago, I moved to a small farm in lower Alabama (I was a professor at a local university in the area) and as it happens out in the country in a state without any spay/neuter laws, starving animals began to wander up. I have always been an animal lover, and I can’t stand to see hungry or ill animals.
In 2010, with the help of my very generous and smart friend Aleta Boudreaux, I filed to create Good Fortune Farm Refuge as a 501c3 animal rescue. At the time I had nearly 30 animals I took care of on a daily basis, plus teaching full time, and writing at least two books a year. I don’t know if any of you have ever done rescue work, but it is often heartbreaking and always labor intensive. But the joy of seeing animals who are in hopeless situations revive and become fun-loving pets is worth all the effort.
Animals have taught me many, many lessons. The value of unconditional love. The art of forgiveness. The willingness to play and show joy even when ill. The value of a friend. And also the pain of loss.
I’ve had a horse with one eye, and now a one-eyed cat and a one-eyed dog. The vets all told me that an animal doesn’t wake up and miss what has been taken. They wake up and enjoy what they have. That’s very true. Baby, my one-eyed dog, can’t judge distance like she could when she had two eyes, but I think it upsets me a lot more than her. I never knew the horse or cat before they lost the vision in one eye. They lived a full and normal life.
I’ve had sick cats that would cuddle and purr. They taught me how to accept illness with as much grace as I can muster. I do not have the courage of my kitties.
But mostly they have taught me about love.
Some of the hardest things I’ve ever done is rehome a dog or cat or horse that I’ve grown attached to. I have to believe that the new owners will love and care for them as well as or better than I can. That is often the case.
In 2014, some of my loyal friends and readers of the Bones books helped me put together a cookbook based on the Bones characters. It’s called Bonefied Delicious—Recipes from some of Zinnia’s finest chefs. The huge tome is 500 pages and over 700 recipes and my friends collected, organized, and wrote commentary as 13 of the characters in my mystery series. We sold out, reprinted, and sold out again. We have plans for another edition sometime in the future. You can check at www.carolynhaines.com for any updates on when we reprint.
We raised money to spay and neuter dogs and cats and we helped a lot of animals and folks who couldn’t afford this very necessary surgery.
When Lori Caswell suggested that I might want to write about where I go for a retreat or a vacation, I had to laugh. Because of the animal rescue, I don’t often get away from the farm. But what I do is ride Cogar, my Connemara/TB cross, in the woods where I enjoy nature all around me. The natural world is the place where I replenish myself.
I was riding recently and saw a bald eagle, some wild turkeys, a turtle, three deer, a rabbit, squirrels, and of course the multitude of songbirds. The oak trees are budding out, and when the wind whips through the pines, it makes a sound like a deep sigh.
When I’m focused on Cogar running down a sandy trail, seven of the dogs all coursing beside me, I can let go of the annoying problems of the day and take in the smell of the pine and sunshine. This is my version of Heaven, I guess.
I don’t ride as long as I once did. I have too much to do. Time compresses as we age, or maybe I’m slower. I think back to the days when my friend Gloria and I would ride 14 miles in a loop to Merrill, Mississippi, where the Chickasawhay and Leaf Rivers come together to form the Pascagoula. The singing river. Where legend has it that the Pascagoula tribe of Native Americans, rather than being taken as slaves by a rival tribe, walked into the river holding hands and singing their death chant.
It’s said on quiet, still nights that you can still hear that sad song, rising from the depth of the water. My grandmother heard it. She told me all about it.
These days I ride closer to home and only for an hour or so. But I still find the peace, the connection to nature and to the power of story. Some wouldn’t think it much of a vacation, but it works for me. And it tires out the dogs, which is another benefit. When they’re asleep I can get a lot of work done.
Next time you read about Sarah Booth going for a ride on Reveler, or Miss Scrapiron, or that black devil Lucifer, you’ll know that the author is hankering to get out of the house and pretend, at least for an hour or so, that she’s free.
Carolyn Haines is the USA Today bestselling author of the Sarah Booth Delaney mystery series. The latest book, Rock-A-Bye Bones, is out today. A native of Mississippi, Haines often writes about the South. She’s an animal advocate and urges everyone to spay and neuter.
Rock-a-Bye Bones: A Sarah Booth Delaney Mystery
16th in Series
Setting – Mississippi
Minotaur Books (May 17, 2016)
Hardcover: 352 pages
E-Book ASIN: B01772VVVK
Sarah Booth Delaney knows the perfect way to begin recovering from both the recent attack on Scott Hampton’s blues club and her broken heart. She’s going to host a Thanksgiving feast for all of her friends at her ancestral home in Zinnia, Mississippi. But one bitterly cold night with the holiday just around the corner, Sarah Booth awakens to the insistent ring of her doorbell. She opens the door to find a newborn baby in a basket sitting on her front porch…and a pool of blood slowly seeping out from the basket. Before she can respond, an engine guns and a dark vehicle takes off.
After the police and a doctor ensure the baby is otherwise safe and healthy, Sarah Booth calls Tinkie Richmond, her partner at the Delaney Detective Agency. They know they need to do everything they can to find the baby’s mother…even if they are starting to fall in love with the baby themselves. But as they track the baby’s mother, Sarah Booth soon begins to suspect the woman might have been in danger; in fact, she might have been running for her life. And following in the woman’s footsteps, Sarah Booth might find her own life on the line next.
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