Posted in Cozy Wednesday Giveaways Guest Posts Reviews 2014 You Read How Many Books Challenge

Cozy Wednesday with Sheila Webster Boneham – Author of Catwalk – Giveaway too!

cozy wednesday 2013 640Welcome to Cozy Wednesday!!

I am so excited to welcome Sheila Webster Boneham back to Escape With Dollycas!!

When we originally set up this date the book was set to be released this month.
The new release date is October 8, 2014.

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Writing Serious Issues in Fun(ny) Mysteries

In my mysteries, dogs and cats and other animals are vital characters. After all, the series isn’t called Animals in Focus for nothing. Each book in the series finds 50-something animal photographer Janet MacPhail participating in a different “animal activity”—a type of competitive event, or noncompetitive sport, or non-sporting activity such as pet-assisted therapy–and each mystery hinges on an issue that just might inspire murder and mayhem.malcombface

I’ve spent many years deep in the world of animals. Purebred, mixed breed, rescued, responsibly bred—I love them all. And honestly, I like the vast majority of people involved with dogs and cats in all those arenas. If I’ve learned anything, it is that no serious issue is simple, and that there are good, responsible people involved in all parts of the “animal world.” There are also some of the others.

Just as they do in real life, serious issues can create major problems for cozy writers in a genre that discourages “nittygrittyness.” So one of the challenges I face is balance: how do I balance some really tough realities with the conventions of the cozy?

In the first book, Drop Dead on Recall (2012) we meet Janet and her Australian Shepherd Jay at a canine obedience trial. When a nationally ranked l competitor keels over, Janet, Jay, and their very important feline family member Leo find themselves embroiled in a series of murders that seem to be linked to breeder ethics (or lack thereof) and cut-throat competitiveness.

In The Money Bird (2013) Janet has her lens focused on retrievers training for AKC retrieving tests, especially the handsome Drake and his almost-as-handsome person, Tom Saunders. When Drake retrieves something unexpected at a practice session, Janet quickly finds herself face-to-face with illegal trafficking in endangered tropical birds, a very nasty business that is all to common and lucrative in the real world.

Catwalk, available now for pre-order, takes Janet and Leo to their first competitive event—feline agility! Janet competes with her dog, Jay, in the canine version, and figures fair is fair. Besides, Leo loves “playing” agility, so why not? The book also drops Janet into the controversial and emotional politics of feral cat colonies and trap-neuter-release programs, and environmentally destructive land development.

So what are the challenges of writing “issues” into entertainment? First, readers of “cozies” have certain expectations:

1. Murder and allusions to sex are fine; graphic details are not.
2. Adult humans may be killed; children and animals may be threatened, but can’t be harmed. (And why would I want to?)
3. Serious issues may be presented and may underlie motives, but they shouldn’t be the main focus.

Knowing these “rules” is helpful in some ways, restrictive in others. After all, I’m writing about creatures and issues that stir intense emotions in me as well as in my readers, and it isn’t always easy to stifle myself. Many authors face this problem in fiction, where characters and story (plot, if you prefer) are the real focus. So how do we strike a balance? Not all of us do – I’m sure we’ve all read books in which the author’s passion for a cause overshadowed everything else. If you’re like me, you may have quit reading, especially when I pick up a book mostly for entertainment and escape. I do read serious books, but I go into them knowing what to expect. Most of us don’t like to be bludgeoned when we’re reading for fun.

On the other hand, I do like to learn new things and want to live consciously. More than one novel has teased me into digging deeper into an issue that I didn’t know much about. I hope I’m striking that balance in my own fiction.

 

I would love to hear what you think. In fact, if you leave a comment, I will put your name in the hopper to win one of my mysteries—winner’s choice.
 
 

Would you like a chance to name one of the new animals? Check out my Catwalk pre-order contest to name a kitten or puppy at http://writersandotheranimals.blogspot.com/2014/09/help-name-mystery-kitten-and-puppy.html
~Sheila

About This Author

Sheila Webster Boneham writes the Animals in Focus mystery series. Drop Dead on Recall, the first book in the series, won the 2013 Maxwell Award for Fiction from the Dog Writers Association of America and was an NBC Petside Best Ten Dog Book of 2012. Sheila 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 bred top-winning Aussies, and founded rescue groups for Aussies and Labs. Boneham holds a doctorate in folklore from Indiana University, an MFA Stonecoast/University of Southern Maine, and resides in Wilmington, N.C. Sheila writes literary nonfiction and poetry as well, and teaches writing. You can keep up with Sheila’s latest news at www.sheilaboneham.com and www.facebook.com/sheilawrites, learn more about animal-oriented writing—with some of your favorite authors!—at her Writers & Other Animals blog at www.writersandotheraniamls.blogspot.com.

Catwalk_NewCatwalk
(An Animals in Focus Mystery)

3rd in Series
Cozy Mystery
Published by MIDNIGHT INK (October 8, 2014)
Trade Paperback: 336 pages
ISBN-13: 978-0738734880
E-Book Link will be up soon!
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Agility can be murder for cats, dogs, and people!

Animal photographer Janet MacPhail is training for her cat Leo’s first feline agility trial when she gets a frantic call about a “kidnapping.” When Janet and her Australian Shepherd Jay set out to track down the missing party, they quickly find themselves drawn into the volatile politics of feral cat colonies and endangered wetlands.

Janet is crazy busy trying to keep up with her mom’s nursing-home romance, her own relationship with Tom, and upcoming agility trials with Jay and Leo. But the discovery of a body on the canine competition course stops the participants dead in their tracks—and sets Janet on the trail of a killer.

Dollycas’s Thoughts

Again Sheila Webster Boneham has crafted a wonderful story with a great whodunit. She also includes just the right amount of humor and romance. The mystery is so well plotted and will keep you guessing right up until the end.

This time kitties join the puppies in the adventure!! Leo is quite a cat. He is training just like the dogs do for agility trials and I am very impressed with his talents. Our cats were very agile when traveling as high as possible around the house but the only time they rushed anywhere was to the kitchen when they heard the can opener.

Jay is quite a dog as well with a very good sniffer. He comes in very handy when trying to find lost kittens or to track down a killer.

I like Janet MacPhail more with each story. I enjoy the pace that her relationship with Tom is progressing. They are an older couple who are used to being on their own and their lifestyles are starting to mesh together perfectly. Janet’s mother also plays a key role in this story and that really put a smile on my face.  The realistic characters are what makes these stories really shine.

The other thing I look forward to in these stories is that we learn something too. This time is was about a capture, neuter, release program for feral cats. We also learned a bit about conservation and areas that need to be preserved for birds and wild animals to thrive and survive.

If you love animals, and who wouldn’t, you have to read this series.  They can all be read as stand alones  but treat yourself to all three captivating mysteries. You will be glad you did.

a perfect escape5 STARFISH

Dollycas
Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent

Leave a Comment For Sheila.
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Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Receiving a complimentary copy in no way reflected my review of this book. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Posted in Giveaways Guest Posts Spotlights

Special Guest – Author of Mama Gets Trashed – Deborah Sharp

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This is a new series for me.
I am thrilled to have Deborah here today!!

Mama Gets TrashedThanks to Lori for the chance to be here today. I’m thrilled to meet everyone!

Like all writers, I’m often asked a question by an earnest aspiring author that goes something like this:

“How do I write a book that will make high-minded literary critics swoon and college professors assign serious essays?”

Beats me, I always answer. I’m not that kind of writer.

Don’t get me wrong. I work hard, and I’m proud of my Mace Bauer Mysteries. But so far, Sweden has not phoned to notify me I’ve been awarded the Nobel Prize in literature. It’s impossible to take yourself too seriously when one reviewer describes your main character as “a redneck Stephanie Plum,” and another calls your series “a humorous bit of fluff, perfect for the beach.”

I’m okay with that. When I left newspaper reporting to write funny, Southern-flavored fiction, fluff was exactly what I was seeking.

DeborahSharpTRASHED2I’m not sure what the authors of serious literature are doing the month before their books come out. But this was the scene with my husband, Kerry, in our South Florida yard on a sweltering day a couple of weeks before the publication date of my newest book, Mama Gets Trashed:

“It looks better if you’re smooshed deeper into the garbage can.” Hands on my shoulders, Kerry pressed down like he was trying to squeeze ten tubes of toothpaste back into one tube.

The toothpaste was getting a bit cranky.

”It won’t matter how it looks if my legs are broken in half at the knees.”

Gingerly, I edged a Hefty trash bag off my shoulder and onto the ground for a smidge more room.

It was photo day. We were getting creative with title-related props to go with the theme of TRASHED. I wondered if William Faulkner (Nobel Laureate, 1949) ever considered posing with a tombstone to promote “As I Lay Dying.”

Probably not.

My husband has been a reporter on TV for 30 years. He has strong opinions about what makes a visually interesting picture. I was also in journalism for many years, and have my own ideas about how pictures can tell a story. We don’t always agree, but I did refrain from whomping him with the rubber lid of the can.

After 25 years of marriage, I’m used to Kerry encouraging me to leap out of my comfort zone. The author photo on the back of my books is pretty standard, even staid. Kind of like me. But when it comes to playing off the theme of the books for photos on social media or to go along with personality profiles, he’s encouraged me to cut a little looser. So, it was a feather boa and Hollywood bling for the movie-set theme of Mama Sees Stars.  For Mama Gets Hitched, which detailed Mama’s fifth try at tying the sacred knot, I donned hideously tacky wedding wear. And, to promote Mama Rides Shotgun and its trail ride setting, I showed up in the saddle on TV, sporting a cowboy hat. At least this latest session did not involve horse manure.

With my knees jutting into the side of a 40-gallon can, I tugged at my trash collector’s neon safety vest and smiled for the camera.

Click.

How about you? Are you already wild and crazy, or do you have to be pushed to find that side of yourself? Would you ever climb into a trash can for art?

~Deborah

I don’t know how I missed this series! I am so glad Deborah and I connected on Facebook because I am started at the beginning with Mama Does Time (A Mace Bauer Mystery) as soon as possible!! 

Mama Gets Trashed
Mama Gets Trashed (A Mace Bauer Mystery)
5yh in Series
MIDNIGHT INK (September 8, 2013)
Cozy Mystery
Paperback: 360 pages
ISBN-13: 978-0738736150
E-Book File Size: 825 KB
ASIN: B00EA117KM
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After a tipsy Mama tosses out her wedding ring with the trash, she drags daughter Mace to the city dump to search. When they stumble upon the body of librarian Camilla Law, the straitlaced town is scandalized: Not only is a killer on the loose, but prudish Camilla is all done up in sexy black leather. Foul play and fetish wear in little Himmarshee, Florida? Mama’s blushing fifty shades of pink!

About Deborah Sharp

A former USA Today reporter, Deborah Sharp traded sad news stories for funny fiction with her Mace Bauer Mysteries, featuring Mace’s wacky Mama. Deborah rode a horse across Florida for one book. For another, she was interviewed by Al Roker on the Today show. She was a lot less nervous about the horse. Married to TV reporter Kerry Sanders, she lives in South Florida, where she spends her spare time chasing iguanas out of her hibiscus. Mama Gets Trashed, out Sept. 8 from Midnight Ink, is the series’ fifth book. Visit her online at www.DeborahSharp.com or on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/deborah.sharp1.

Mama’s on Facebook, too: https://www.facebook.com/groups/32030252049/

You can read an excerpt from TRASHED, here:  http://www.mamagetstrashed.com/

Thanks to the wonderful Deborah Sharp I have 1 copy of
Mama Gets Trashed to give away!

Contest is open to anyone over 18 years old
with a US or Canadian mailing address.

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.

Leave a comment for Deborah for 5 Bonus Entries !

How about you? Are you already wild and crazy, or do you have to be pushed to find that side of yourself? Would you ever climb into a trash can for art?

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

Contest Will End September 20, 2013 at 11:59 PM CST
Winner Will Be Chosen By Random.org
Winner Will Be Notified By Email
and Will Be Posted Here In The Sidebar.

CLICK HERE FOR ENTRY FORM