Friday, November 29, 2019

Jennifer Roberson & Cassie and Luka

Who is in the photo at right?

My Cardigan Welsh Corgis, Cassie (L) and Luka (R) with me, Jennifer Roberson, at Ventura Beach following a day in the show ring. Cassie is a champion and a mom, while Luka is a young boy just starting his show career.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

It’s a chilly day at the beach and I’m just across the street from the Ventura Fairgrounds letting the dogs just be dogs, wandering along in wet, squishy sand after strutting their stuff in the show ring.

What's brewing?

On the way back from walking the dogs along the beach I’ll grab a hot mocha latte with whipped cream and caramel from a beach vendor!

Any treats for you or the dogs on this occasion?

I will most definitely give each one of them two fingertips full of the whipped cream from off the top of my drink!

How were you and Cassie and Luka united?

Cassie’s mom is a Cardi girl I bred who went to live in Oregon from Arizona. When she had a litter of puppies, her owners gave me pick of the litter—Cassie!

Luka came to me all the way from Russia. I bred his father and sent him to a wonderful home in Finland. Dad went on to make beautiful babies in Europe, and Luka joined me a year ago in Tucson in November 2018, after he and I spent 24 hours at LAX waiting for a new flight after missing our original flight home because of a hold-up in Customs. Luka slept. I didn’t.

How did the dogs get their names? Any aliases?

Cassie’s registered name is Ch. Cheysuli’s Pocket Full of Sunshine. Cheysuli is my kennel name, based on my first fantasy series called Chronicles of the Cheysuli, and Sunshine is the kennel name of her breeders. She’s Pocket Full of Sunshine because she’s bright and shiny all the time. Her nickname is Cassafrass.

Luka’s registered name is Keksband Trade Secret at Cheysuli. Keksband is the kennel name of his breeder, in Moscow, and of course Cheysuli is mine. He’s a Trade Secret because he’s made of 11 secret herbs and spices—wait, that’s KFC. His nickname is Lukachu.

Do your dogs do more to help or hinder your writing?

They help! They are goofy and silly, have a tremendous sense of humor, and they make me smile after writing a demanding scene.

Have any actual dogs ever inspired dogs in your fiction?

Not as yet, but there will be a boy in one of the upcoming Blood & Bone books inspired by a dog I know.

Cat, postman, squirrel...?

They would rather chase lizards. Luka’s best friend is a cat—or, rather, Luka is the cat’s best friend--so he wouldn’t chase felines. Just lick them.

Ball, squeaky-toy, stick...?

My dogs always de-squeak the toys. And Luka has disemboweled four squeaky ducks. Mostly they love to chew on antlers.

Where is your dogs' favorite outdoor destination?

The show ring! Seriously! They love to go bouncing around meeting other Cardigans at ringside, and to say hello to all the humans showing the dogs. It’s always a challenge keeping them all spiffed up when they want to roll around in the grass with their canine buddies right before they go in the ring. It would be like someone dressed up for a job interview who decides to go through a car wash. Without the car.

What is each dog's best quality?

Cassie is absolutely devoted to me. I am her world. It’s pure unconditional love. Luka believes the world is his oyster, and the oyster’s full of fun. He’s irrepressible!

If Cassie and Luka could change one thing about Arizonans, what would it be?

They would want us to have shorter legs so it’s easier to inspect ears and clean faces.

If your dogs could answer only one question in English, what would you ask them?

“If there’s anything I can do to make you even happier, what would it be?”

If Hollywood made a movie about your life in which Cassie and Luka could speak, who should voice them?

Cassie: Meryl Streep. She can affect a wise, been there/done that tone, laced with affection.

Luka: Any young male actor who can speak with a Russian accent, as Luka arrived in the US speaking no English. I had to not only translate dog-speak for him, but Russian dog-speak.

What advice would Cassie and Luka give if asked?

“Feed us. We’re starving. Yes, you fed us an hour ago, but we’re starving anyway. Please rectify that at once or we will be forced to resort to fisticuffs, even though we’re too short to do any damage except maybe to your kneecaps.”

Visit Jennifer Roberson's website.

The Page 69 Test: Life and Limb.

My Book, The Movie: Life and Limb.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Margaret Mizushima & Hannah

Who is in the photo at right?

I’m Margaret Mizushima, author of the Timber Creek K-9 Mystery series, and I’m pictured here with our German shorthair pointer, Hannah, also known as Hannah Boo. Hannah is about eight years old, and she’s thin-skinned and almost hairless. Years ago when my husband brought her home in December as a puppy, she shivered like a tiny Chihuahua, and I couldn’t bear for her to be raised outside even though all of our dogs have access to a heated doghouse. So Hannah became our housedog and hangs out with me while I write.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

Hannah and I are taking a break from work to cuddle with a book. Whenever I sit on the couch to read or watch television, Hannah is right there by my side with her head on my lap. Having her ears stroked puts her to sleep every time, and it also relaxes me.

What's brewing?

I had to give up coffee and tea years ago so I drink a variety of herbals, my favorite being Yogi brand Egyptian licorice or peppermint. This summer I became hooked on LaCroix sparkling water, especially the flavors Pamplemousse (Grapefruit) and Key Lime. I drink one every morning while I write.

Any treats for you or Hannah on this occasion?

Whenever I approach the pantry where her treats are stored, Hannah begs for a treat by barking and going into her play pose. This is a result of my misguided attempt at teaching her to speak. Consequently, she now speaks up several times a day whenever she wants a treat but doesn’t say a word when we ask her to “speak.” The patrol dog in my mystery series, German shepherd Robo, is sort of a wonder dog and very obedient—but I’m evidently not as good a trainer as my protagonist, K-9 handler Mattie Cobb, because Hannah has me wrapped around her little toe and pretty much runs the place.

Readers can learn more about Hannah from our 2018 Q&A. Anything notable happen with her in the last year?

Hannah is very much a creature of habit. As long as she has her food, treats, water, and daily run, she’s happy. She wakes up at the same time every morning, gets up from her bed on the couch, and lets us coax her outside at the same time each morning, afternoon, and night. Frequently she goes with my husband out to hunt birds or run at a nearby lake, but otherwise her life runs like clockwork. No notable changes this past year for her, but I’ve noticed the days certainly do slip by faster the older we get.

Please tell us about your new book.

Tracking Game is the fifth book in the Timber Creek K-9 series. It starts out with a bang when Deputy Mattie Cobb and her love interest Cole Walker have their first public date interrupted by an explosion near town. When they arrive at the scene of a burning van, they find Cole’s best friend injured and a local rancher dead, shot twice in the heart at close range. Mattie’s investigation begins, eventually taking her and her patrol dog Robo into Colorado’s mountain wilderness where they encounter not only a killer but also a dangerous creature. This mystery stands alone, but if you want the full character arc over the series, start with book one, Killing Trail.

I've heard that Hannah is averse to going outside unless she knows she's going out to hunt or going for a run. She sounds exactly like some human introverts I know. Do you have a theory of your own about why Hannah is like that?

I once thought it was because her thin skin made her susceptible to hot and cold weather, but she’s this way year round. We found it interesting when we learned that her mother is just like her, and her family says they could barely get her to go outside to do her business. Hannah is exactly the same way, which I thought might be because she was perhaps…could it be…spoiled? But now I have to ask, what part of this quirky behavior is nature and what part is nurture? (Please tell me I didn’t create this problem child myself.)

You've done some search and rescue training with past dogs. What was that like?

When our kids were toddlers, my husband and I took two of our dogs (an Australian shepherd and a Rottweiler) to search and rescue training sessions through our county. Although neither of us had the time to continue with the certification process, we and our dogs learned enough so we could have ready access to a SAR-trained dog if one of our children wandered off while we were camping or hiking. I learned a lot about tracking and trailing behavior in dogs and techniques for handlers, never knowing that someday I would use this knowledge base for a mystery series. Serendipity.

Have your experiences with watching bird dogs hunt influenced your writing?

Bird dogs have given me a sense of what it’s like to watch a dog air scent, quartering the field as they ping back and forth to narrow in on the bird’s scent cone. I was able to watch air scenting dogs trail humans during our days of search and rescue training as well, while some dogs like to put their noses down and track the scent of a human on the ground. Some dogs do both. All of these observations of doggie behavior have influenced my writing.

Readers of this site met Bertie, Lily and Tess last year. Are there any new dogs in the pack these days?

No, we have the same foursome. Lily is still with us, and though she’s become quite elderly, she still likes to putz around the yard and will play with the other dogs in short stints. She no longer likes to go for runs with the pack and prefers to stay home. Tess and Bertie are still their lively selves and enjoy going to the vet clinic with my husband. Our Tess has become quite the cattle dog and is a big help when moving the Angus cattle that we raise back and forth from the pasture. She’s also a sweetheart and likes to cuddle close to my husband when they get into the feed truck to feed each morning, a trait that we find endearing.

Visit Margaret Mizushima's website.

Coffee with a Canine: Margaret Mizushima & Hannah, Bertie, Lily and Tess.

Writers Read: Margaret Mizushima.

The Page 69 Test: Tracking Game.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Tracey S. Phillips & Jack and Mimi

Who is in the photo at right?

I’m Tracey S. Phillips, debut author of Best Kept Secrets. I write psychological fiction about dark female characters. I live in Wisconsin with my husband and 2 dogs, Jack [right] and Mimi [left].

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

Every morning I wake up early to write. So it’s always take your dog to work day at my house. After feeding them, I take my warm cup to the lower level where Jack always lays by my feet or on the couch beside my desk while I’m writing. Mimi joins us when she feels like it. She’s more the fickle female type. She goes where she wants and does what she pleases.

What's brewing?

It used to be 2 cups of dark roast coffee but lately I’ve switched to Irish Breakfast Tea. Coffee made me too jittery after writing tense, scary scenes. I had to scale back the caffeine intake. (laughs out loud!)

Any treats for you or the dogs on this occasion?

The dogs get treats all the time! I’ll tell you a funny story about Jack. When he was a puppy, we had a long and very cold winter here, like there are never long cold winters in Wisconsin. He was a very active dog (still is for a 12 year old) and we needed to keep him busy. So we spent time teaching him tricks. He learned how to sit up, roll over, shake, pound it (with a fist), speak, and even play dead. If you shoot him with your finger and say “Bang!” he falls over, dead. He’s very treat motivated so he’ll perform these tricks any time for a handful of Charlie Bears. Funny thing about him though, we could never teach him to come when he was called. Now, they get treats for coming in the house every time. It works!

How were you and Jack and Mimi united?

Jack and Mimi are our angel dogs. Jack was 6 weeks old when my mom-in-law bought him. At the time, my dad-in-law was dying of cancer. Little Jack was way too much dog for them to care for so they couldn’t keep him. My kids were 11 and 14 at the time, and they were delighted to take him. A few months later, my dad-in-law passed away.

Mimi was my mom’s dog and she was a rescue. We don’t know much about her past, only that she lived on the street and had at least 2 litters. She a tough chick and she’ll let Jack know when he’s crossed some invisible line. Mimi came home with me last October after my mom died in hospice care. In those last few days, I went to visit my mom (who lived in Indianapolis) with the intention of bringing Mimi home. I have some amazing stories of Mimi around that time. She absolutely knew what was happening and once I arrived, she wouldn’t let me out of her sight.

Right after my mom passed away, family members lined up at her bedroom door to say their goodbyes. I hugged each person before they entered and at the end of the line, Mimi stood up on her back feet. She needed a hug too. Of course, I picked her up and held her.

How did the dogs get their names? Any aliases?

Not for Mimi, but Jack was named after some of my favorite fictional characters: Jack Skellington, Jack Bower (24) and Captain Jack Sparrow. He has many, many nicknames and I’m pretty sure he knows them all. We have called him Bug, Buggie, Bugswell, Butthead, Jackson, and Jack-alope. Together they are the Mups as in muppet-pups. They remind me of Dr. Seuss creatures and when their hair gets long, they get Grinch feet.

Do your dogs do more to help or hinder your writing?

I think they know when I’m writing. Mostly, they are quiet and respectful right up until it’s time to go for a walk. They have an internal clock or something that goes off about 10 AM. Then they get fidgety and restless. Jack will paw at my leg and Mimi whines. Her whine sounds like whale-talk. My husband calls her Orca sometimes.

Cat, postman, squirrel...?

My other job is teaching piano lessons from my home. The dogs love it because of the constant parade of students. And it means more attention, and treats. They do tend to bark at everyone as they come into the house. No one seems to care though. Jack and Mimi are just saying hello.

Sometimes Jack sits on my lap while I’m teaching. They both like listening to the music.

Where is your dogs' favorite outdoor destination?

That has to be my neighbors house. Tom and Phyllis always have treats for the neighborhood dogs. We can’t walk past without the dogs pulling me toward their door.

What do they eat?

Jack and Mimi can attribute their good looks and longevity to a healthy diet. Aside from Iam’s mature dog food, I make lean turkey burger and they get frozen peas added to their meal. For snacks, they eat pears, orange pieces and apples. Jack likes banana chunks but Mimi won’t eat that. She absolutely loves cucumbers and mushrooms. I could toss anything to Jack and he would swallow it whole, even his pills!

If Jack and Mimi could change one thing about Wisconsinites, what would it be?

The dogs love people, so that isn’t an issue for them. I think they would change the local weather though. They don’t like the long winters here, but neither do I.

If your dogs could answer only one question in English, what would you ask them?

I would ask Jack why he is such a nervous dog. He has polydipsia—a condition where he tends to drink way too much water. We have to ration it, ½ cup at a time or he finishes it all. When he’s upset, he asks for water often. I think it’s like a pacifier for him.

If you look into Mimi’s eyes, you’ll think she is very wise. I’d ask her what her life was like before my mom. You can tell she’s been through a lot.

If Hollywood made a movie about your life in which Jack and Mimi could speak, who should voice them?

Bill Murray for Jack! No question and Meryl Streep for Mimi because she needs a mature, wise voice.

Have any actual dogs ever inspired dogs in your fiction?

These two give me enough inspiration. And I try to put a dog in every book. You’ll notice Morgan Jewell’s boyfriend Rob has a German shepherd named Gretta. Gretta gets a good amount of page-time in Best Kept Secrets.

Visit Tracey S. Phillips's website and view pictures of Jack and Mimi on Instagram.

My Book, The Movie: Best Kept Secrets.

The Page 69 Test: Best Kept Secrets.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, November 2, 2019

Lisa M. Miller & Daisy

Who is in the photo at right?

The sweet pup to the right is Daisy. She is a three-year-old West Highland Terrier who is as friendly as she is cute. My name is Lisa M. Miller, and I write books that make you want to sleep with the lights on. I help readers face the unknown from the comfort of their reading spaces.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

The morning routine consists of French press coffee with Daisy by my side. It's not the smell of fresh ground beans that motivates Daisy, but the sound of the toaster.

What's brewing?

Peet's Coffee Major Dickason's Blend Dark Roast in the French press.

Any treats for you or Daisy on this occasion?

Daisy is enjoying a pumpkin treat from her favorite gourmet shop, Three Dog Bakery. We splurged on some fancy snacks, it is her birthday month after all!

How were you and Daisy united?

A few years ago, we surprised our sons with a huge Christmas present. As they opened a box for an Xbox gaming system, out jumped a ten week-old Westie.

How did your dog get her name? Any aliases?

She is named after Daisy Buchanan, without all of the Gatsby drama.

Does Daisy do more to help or hinder your writing?

Before I settle in to write or edit, she needs to go for a walk or play with her basket of toys. If not, I will find a pile of stuffed animals at my feet or barking directed towards her leash.

Please tell us about your new novel.

My new YA Thriller, My Skull Possession, released on October 15th, the same day as Daisy's birthday.

Cat, postman, squirrel...?

She gets along with cats, greets the postman, but she loathes squirrels. She has a daily race along the fence, hoping her nemesis loses his balance as he scurries along the top of the posts.

Ball, squeaky-toy, stick...?

She loves her nesting toys. A small plush stump with, what else, little squirrels inside.

Where is Daisy's favorite outdoor destination?

Daisy has visited the beach a few times. She is not a fan of the water but loves hanging out with her family.

Who is Daisy's best pet-pal?

Daisy has a doppelganger who lives down the street from us. She and Mia are good pals.

What is Daisy's best quality?

She is a delightful little dog with a great disposition. But if she senses something is wrong, look out. She'll protect her family with a big dog attitude.

If Daisy could change one thing about you, what would it be?

Less screen time. More fresh air and green time.

If Daisy could answer only one question in English, what would you ask her?

Do you know how unbelievably cute and loved you are?

If Hollywood made a movie about your life in which Daisy could speak, who should voice her?

Michelle Williams. Her response when told she gets to go for more walks, “Oh, how gorgeous!”

What advice would Daisy give if asked?

Life is short. Take the trip. Eat the cake. If you don't, I will.

Watch a trailer for My Skull Possession.

Visit Lisa M. Miller's website, Facebook page, and Twitter perch.

--Marshal Zeringue