Sunday, February 17, 2019

Buried to the Brim has gone to the dogs!

JENN McKINLAY: My contribution to this week's topic of what we're writing is all about the corgi. In short, my London hat shop amateur sleuths take a job designing hats for a corgi in a dog show, because of course they do, and it's all going great until the dead body of the sponsor of the dog show is found by their client, a corgi named Freddy. 


The London Hat Shop Series

This series is one of my favorites because it's written in first person (allowing for a whole new level of sarcasm) from the perspective of the American character Scarlett Parker, who recently came to London to take up her half of the hat shop which she inherited with her British milliner cousin, Vivian Tremont.

The series went unrenewed by the publisher for a year and a half  until I got bored last summer and asked I could write another one. They said I could write two, but I looked at my schedule and decided one would do for now. You see, the last book ended in Paris, and I just felt like I needed one more book at home in Notting Hill. We'll see if there's another in me. That's the beauty of writing a series. Sometimes you think you're done but after a little time passes, a new idea bubbles up. 

The following excerpt finds Scarlett, on her way to compete in the dog show with her fiancĂ©'s Aunt Betty's dog, Freddy, when a call comes in for a corgi rescue and Aunt Betty insists they answer the call. This required me to research corgi puppies for which I only have two words: Stooopid Cute! 



(Pictures courtesy of petfinder.com)

Excerpt: 


     “Hello?” a woman's voice spoke through the intercom.
      “Hi, this is Betty Wentworth, I’m with corgi rescue and am here about Bella,” she said.
      I could hear barking in the background and the woman said, “Bella from hella? Come and get her, she’s all yours.”
      “Oh, dear,” Aunt Betty said. The interior door’s lock clicked and she pulled it open, holding it for me.
     We trudged up the stairs to the second floor where the apartment was situated. The barking got louder as we got closer. 
     Aunt Betty raised her fist to knock but the person on the other side must have been waiting because the door was pulled open before her knuckles could connect with the wood.
     “Take her,” a middle-aged woman with brown hair that was highlighted with streaks of silver said. She was broadly shaped and wore a thick turtleneck under a shapeless cardigan over sweatpants. She had no makeup on, reading glasses perched on her head, her phone in her hand and an air about her that said she’d given up on life and had no intention of re-engaging any time soon. 
     I wanted to hug her and tell her everything would be okay but since I had no idea what she was dealing with, it seemed inappropriate at best and extremely insensitive at worst. Instead, I followed Aunt Betty into the apartment. It was barren except for a few boxes. The windows were large, without curtains, making the room airy and bright. 
     Aunt Betty glanced around. “Where is she?”
     The woman ran a hand over her face. “Destroying something no doubt.”
     Aunt Betty flashed her an annoyed look and set off into the apartment.
     “I’m just trying to get my parents moved into an elderly care facility,” the woman said. “They’re both in failing health and my dad has dementia.”
      Her voice broke and she looked like she just needed a good cry. This time I went with my impulse and gave her a half hug. 
     “There, there—” I paused. “I’m sorry what’s your name?”
     “Lynn,” she said. “Lynn Biscoff.”
     “Like the cookie?” 
     She gave me a look. “Yeah, like the biscuit.”
     “I’m Scarlett, like the color,” I said. She gave me a watery smile. “We’re here now. We’ll take the puppy off your hands.”
     “I can’t thank you enough.” Lynn sighed and wiped the tears from her face with the sleeve of her sweater. She picked up a leash from the kitchen counter and handed it to me. “I don’t know what my mother was thinking, bringing home a puppy last month. She knew they were moving and she knew the place didn’t take pets.”
     I nodded. It sounded to me like her mother had gotten the dog to avoid the move. I didn’t say it because I was pretty sure she’d figure it out on her own when she had a minute to think. Besides we had enough to deal with at the moment.
     I heard the scrabble of dog paws on wood and glanced across the empty room to see a puff ball of white and honey, a miniature Freddy in fact, coming at me. Aunt Betty was hot on her heels.
     “Grab her, Scarlett!” Aunt Betty cried.
     For the record, I tried. Really, I did. But the dog was half projectile and before I even had my hands out, she rocketed right past me, making me totter on my heels. Aunt Betty blew by me, giving me a none too gentle push as she went. 
     “Cut her off!” she cried.
     Aunt Betty went one way around the pile of boxes, and I went the other. Lynn watched looking too exhausted to move her feet. But to her credit, she crouched down as if Bella might leap into her arms and she’d catch her. 
     I dropped low and as the puppy came at me, I was certain I’d be able to grab her and said, “I’ve got her! I’ve got her!" My arms hugged air. "I don’t have her!”
     How Bella managed to dash through my feet and race back down the hall, I don’t know, but she did. I straightened up, getting a mild head rush and hurried after her.
     “Bella! Come here, Bella!” I cried. “We do not have time for this!”
     Aunt Betty was fumbling in her purse where she found some dog treats. Not the hard biscuit kind but the sort that were soft and looked like mini sausages.
     “Good thinking,” I said. 
     She winked at me. “She ran into the back bedroom. Let’s slip in and close the door. We’ll probably have to corner her as she’s either scared out of her mind or thinks this is a game.”
     “Given her nickname, Bella from hella, I’m betting on game,” I said.
     We slipped into the bedroom. It, too, was bare except for a pile of bedding in the middle of the floor. The closet doors were open and a quick glance showed that it was empty except for a few sad wire hangers. I scanned the room. There was no sign of the willful puppy.
      Then I saw a wriggle out of the corner of my eye. The large fluffy blue blanket moved. I waved at Aunt Betty and pointed at the pile on the floor. She nodded. Silently we crept forward. There was another wriggle and a baby growl. As if the fierce Bella was trying very hard to sound ferocious. It was so stinking cute, I felt my heart go smoosh. 
     Aunt Betty held the treat out and we closed in on the puppy coming at her from opposites of the blanket. There was a wriggle and a pounce and then a little head popped out from beneath the fluffy comforter. Two big ears, a black nose, and a pair of sparkling eyes regarded us. Her tongue slipped out of her mouth as she panted and I got the feeling Bella was delighted with us. Before she could dash away, Aunt Betty held out the treat, which caused Bella to wiggle with excitement. While Bella gingerly took the treat from Aunt Betty’s hand, I clipped the leash to her collar. 
     Aunt Betty and I exhaled simultaneously as if we’d just run a marathon. Aunt Betty glanced at her phone to check the time. “We have to go!”
     Not wanting to give Bella the chance to slip out of her collar, I picked her up in a football hold, she was as solid as a ten-pound turkey, and carried her back into the main room.
     “You got her!” Lynn clapped her hands in front of her. She smiled at us but then her smile slid away and she asked, “What will happen to her?”
     “We’ll find her a really good home,” Aunt Betty said. “And in the meantime, she’ll receive the very best of care as a foster puppy.”
     Lynn looked relieved. She reached out and rubbed Bella’s head. “I’m sorry, little love. You’re just too much for my old folks and taking care of them means I can’t take care of you.”
     Bella licked her wrist and Lynn smiled. “She really is a good girl if you can overlook her barking, chewing the furniture, and relentless herding tendencies.”
     “We’ll train that out of her,” Aunt Betty said. “Don’t you worry.”
     I looked down at the bundle of fur in my arms. She didn’t 
resemble a problem puppy but I knew I was likely getting 
snookered by her big brown eyes and her wagging butt. Heaven help me.

***

Now, if I ever actually finish this puppy (intended) it will be coming out in January 2020!

So, Reds and Readers, are you a fan of dog shows? Did anyone else just watch Westminster or was it just me?

**The winner of Lucy Burdette's giveaway of A DEADLY FEAST is CUDDLE UP WITH A COZY MYSTERY AND A DACHSHUND. Please email LucyBurdette at gmail dot com with your snail mail address.





72 comments:

  1. Aww, Jenn, I am alternating between laughing over the dog chase and oohing and aahing over the cute puppy pictures. I’m looking forward to reading the rest of the story.

    As for the dog show, sorry, we didn’t watch it. But we did see the adorable Best in Show dog on the news . . . .

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    1. I watched - research! - and then twisted everything to make it work in my story :) Yes, the winner was a stunner!

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  2. I used to watch them with my kids when they were younger and my mom's pet mini schnauzer was still alive for them to play with. These days I'm more interested in where my next book is coming from.

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  3. I didn't watch the Westminster this year, but I always try to catch the National Dog Show on Thanksgiving, mostly because my border collie, Zoe, is just fascinated by it. She's the only one of my dogs who watches TV at all, but she appears to understand that the flickering images on the screen represent recognizable things, despite their lack of smell.

    I used to go to local dog shows as an adolescent, because I loved looking at all the dogs. As an adult I'm afraid I fall into the skeptical zone, where I still love the breeds and their unique characteristics, but have my doubts about amateur breeders, and really hate the puppy mill/backyard breeder/why-bother-to-neuter? crowd who make dog rescue efforts necessary. But bless the rescuers! They give up time, energy, shoes, upholstery, decor, mileage, and a lot of heart to get dogs (and cats) out of bad situations and into healthy ones. Thank you for giving your readers a glimpse of what they do, and getting Bella to a better place. Best of luck with the book!

    By the way, I just finished reading "The Good Ones." Loved it!

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    1. Thanks, Gigi! You’re a peach to be so kind. Yes, I’ve always been a mutt owner until I married Hub who has asthma and we needed non-shedders. Now, I’ve broken him down (acclimated his lungs) and he’s all about rescues :)

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  4. I'm not a fan of watching dog shows, but I'll certainly read about one. :)

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  5. I was really into that excerpt, Jenn. And those Corgi pictures are so adorable. This book sounds like a read not to be missed.

    I missed the Westminster Dog Show, but I would have loved to have seen it. I'm a fan of dog shows and wish they all could win.

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    1. Same. I get testy when my favorite, always the underdog - ha! - loses.

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  6. Wait a minute.. I missed Westminster, again? dang. Jenn your description of puppies, and the photos, so cute. It makes me understand why the Queen is hooked on Corgies. I am very happy you will write another London Hat Shop; wise publisher to say "okey write 2" He/she? knows a money maker when he meets one.

    I am not a fan of attending dog shows in person. Behind all the powder and perfume, there is still a 'doggie' smell. Cat shows on the other hand, come with self cleaning critters + no barking. Double win for me.
    You will finish this, or the Corgies will go for your ankles. Nuff said.

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    1. LOL! You know, I’ve never seen a cat show! Now I feel woefully uneducated. Must rectify that. It’s been determined that King George (our rescue kitten) is part Abyssinian - in other words, a smarty pants! I must learn more about this breed.

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  7. No fan of dog shows or even of breeding them, but this was a fun excerpt!

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    1. Thank you! I admit I’m dubious about the conformation stuff, but fascinated by the agility tests/herding segments.

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    2. Love to watch agility runs, and I had a great time at a Fort Worth Stock Show herding competition once. The dogs have such different styles of approaching the job at hand.

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  8. Jenn, love this series and loved the excerpt! Even you non-dog people must google the clip in which Winky the Bichon is sashaying through the agility trial. It will keep you laughing all week...

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  9. I love dogs, but I don't have an interest in dog shows. My mother used to watch the Westminster Dog show every year on TV though.

    And congrats on the new book Jenn!

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  10. Loved the dog show, though the long-haired dachshund was robbed. I knew a librarian who bred corgis. She insisted up front that anyone who bought her pups agree to exercising the dog five miles a day, every day. Terrors on four paws if they didn't get their miles. I used to read Rita Mae Brown's Tee Tucker the corgi books to my daughter. His sidekick cat was Mrs. Murphy.

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  11. Melt-your-heart-cute photos, Jenn! And the excerpt nails the corgi personality. I love dogs but right now we are a dog-less household. Sigh.

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  12. I'm hoping our dear friend Kaye Barley reads this! She's the corgi maven.
    What a great opening! Thanks for sharing, Jenn.

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    1. I always think of Kaye first when there's anything about corgis, Hallie. I was in love with her Harley and now her Annabelle. I'm delighted every time Kaye posts a picture of Annabelle. So adorable.

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  13. Aww, yes. As you put it, stupid cute!

    When we were researching dogs, we really looked at corgis. They are so adorable. But the reputation for barking at thin air and the shedding (The Hubby has allergies) ruled them out.

    I love dog shows. I missed Westminster this year, but caught the YouTube replays. The dachsie was robbed!

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    1. What kind of dog did you wind up with, Liz?

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    2. They do she’d like crazy! I dog sat a couple of them once - wow! Lots of hair!

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    3. Gigi, we're waiting on a call to meet a retired racing greyhound.

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  14. Aw, I just wanted to keep reading! I missed Westminster this year, but generally like watching dog shows and I've been to a few, but not in recent years. Corgis are just too cute!

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  15. Never went to a dog show and didn't know what Westminster was before reading the comments but I love dogs.
    Freddy and the puppies are adorables and I want to know more about Bella so, please , finish the book.

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  16. I just watched he news. (No cable.) But a couple from a town about 20 miles from me had a best of show finalist.

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  17. Be still my heart! Toby's first playmate was a Pembroke corgi named Tigerlily. We both miss her since she moved away. Such adorable and good natured little dogs.

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  18. The news...that is.
    And I clearly haven't figured out how to sign in properly, but I'm sboehefeld@gmail.com

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  19. Jenn, you know how much I love your brain. I imagine you, typing away, laughing out loud as you do. This is so great. And yes, I love the dog show— I always wonder what the dogs are thinking.

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    1. Thank you - yes, I was laughing! Only you would wonder what the dogs are thinking! You crack me up!

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  20. I love dogs but it’s not possible for me to have one. My late “baby” sister adored dogs, and we used to watch parts of the dog show on Thanksgiving together. Fun!

    Jenn, I cannot wait to read this book! Since it’s not coming out immediately, that gives me time to read the earlier books in the series. I just can’t keep up with you!

    About corgis: the family of another sister had a dog that was parts corgi, dachshund, chihuahua, and God knows what else. It must have been the corgi in her that her bark frantically at telephone, dishwasher, doorbell, and smoke alarm!

    DebRo

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  21. I once went to a dog show because I was babysitting a kid who loved dog shows. It was fun to see. And I have seen dog shows on tv. There was a Hallmark movie with a Darcy character judging a dog show.

    Is it true that corgi dogs behave badly? I am not sure what the difference between a corgi and other type of dogs in terms of behavior.

    The Queen of England had corgi dogs since 1933! What did you learn from your research of corgi dogs?

    So looking forward to reading the new Hat Shop novel. It is among my favorite series!

    Diana

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    1. I don’t think corgis behave badly so much as puppies behave badly :)

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    2. Someone said corgis are hard to train? Thanks :-) .

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  22. Looking forward to reading this series!

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  23. Sorry, I got distracted. I read the comments about Westminster and wandered over to Youtube. I enjoy the dog show but I'm still a cat person at heart. Fortunately I also enjoy your hat shoppe series so I'm eagerly waiting your latest, thanks to the excerpt.

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  24. I'm so glad this series is coming back! Sometimes I'll catch part of a dog show on tv, but I wouldn't say I'm a fan of them.

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    1. I like the agility and I love looking at the dogs - I just love dogs and cats and horses and elephants and...

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  25. Oooh, Jenn, I can't wait! And am going to have to reread at least the last book so that I'll be ready for the new one!! And love the corgi puppies! I think corgis are supposed to be a little headstrong, but we should ask Kaye Barley--she's the expert.

    I do like dog shows, especially the agility competition. Unfortunately, none of Westminster was broadcast on anything we get. I've watched a little of the agility on YouTube (love the bulldog, and the winning border collie was amazing!) but I'd like to at least see if I could find the Best of Breed for the German shepherds.

    Love the Hat Shop books!

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    1. Deborah, I remember Kaye had a guest blog here on Sundays?

      Diana

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    2. Corgis are a herding breed, bred for bossing cattle around. When you compare that low-rider corgi form to your average thousand pound steer, you understand that the dogs have to master the cattle through sheer personality, barking, and the occasional nip at the heel. Urban humans should not blame these dogs for doing what they were bred to do. If you want a quiet couch potato, get a greyhound.

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    3. 100 % Gigi! And thanks, Debs, you’re a sweetie!

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  26. I absolutely love dog shows! The pups are very well trained, look amazing and baffled how the judges even narrow the winners down!!

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  27. I missed the latest dog show on TV. If I can catch them I love the terrier class. Your excerpt reminded me why we adopt adult dogs! The last puppies we had wore me out. Those were the Airemutts!

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    1. Puppies are exhausting - I’m pretty sure that’s why they’re so cute!

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  28. I did not see the dog show but saw the winner on the news. Sorry to say I am not a big dog fan. Maybe because we never owned one. I do like my niece's dog. He is a pug named Buddy. I have had 2 cats. One was a Siamese named Cleopatra nicknamed Cleo. We entered her in a household cat show and she won 3 ribbons. The other was a grey cat named Misty. They are both gone now.

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    1. I have to get up to speed on cat shows! Congratulations!

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  29. Shalom Reds and fans. My very good friends, Dave and Katie, have owned Corgis, almost the entire time that I have known them. First, they had Calvin (after John Calvin). Then a brace, Foxie and Lily. (Foxie is after Foxe’s Book of Martyrs and Lily after the Easter flower.) Now they have Badger, a girl, who must be approaching 2 years old. Apparently, Badger is a little terrorist. I’ve never had any problem with her. She likes to climb their very comfortable easy chair and sit on the back looking over my shoulder. I guess to compensate for her height. About a year ago, she did swallow a wedding band. It was retrieved only after some x-rays and endoscopy which cost a not so small fortune. I went to Westminster once. That same year, I tried showing my then new German Shepherd (Bianka) in the puppy class of a dog show on Staten Island. We were out-classed by professional and experienced handlers. I also remember that year, attending an exhibition sheep-herding in New York’s Central Park. Bianka was a long time ago and I have just a few pictures of her now, which I look at, with much nostalgia for my spent youth. I will give a copy of this book, when it comes out, to my friend Katie.

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    1. Oh, that’s lovely of you, David! Badger sounds like my dogs who are tenacious to put it mildly. Oh, and sympathies on the wedding band! My sister in law’s Vizsla ate a Lego Darth Vader which was pretty hilarious on the x-rays but ouch in the wallet.

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  30. Jenn, that was great, can't wait to read the entire thing. Puppies (and kittens) are so adorable but I really should not even look at pictures of them - too tempting!
    I have never watched a dog show although I have seen a couple movies about them. I would think it would be so stressful - for dog and human.
    Can dogs really be trained not to bark? My Sheltie is a barker and it drives me crazy but I live out in the country where there is no one else to be bothered by it. I know barking is typical of the breed but none of my previous 6 Shelties were barkers.

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    1. Hmm. My dogs are barkers so I have no idea how to stop it - I like it for the security.

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  31. Can’t wait to read more I’m so happy your writing another book with Scarlet and Vivi!

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  32. I sometimes watch the dog shows but missed the Westminster this year. The dogs I like never win. From reading Laurien Berenson's series, I know a lot about dog shows. Her main dogs are standard poodles but the mysteries deal with other breeds. Looking forward to the new book.

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  33. Love Laurien’s books - she’s one of the reasons I started writing cozies!

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