There is no doubt these have been difficult weeks (and months!) for all of us, and time feels a bit like it’s standing still. What day is it again? 😉 Anyway, like so many others, I’ve been searching for some positives. As an author, the first thing that comes to mind is that being home means more time to read. Right? Right! That’s what I thought. And more reading means more looking for new books. That’s why I’m thrilled to introduce the authors of the Mutt Mysteries. These four writers combine two of my favorite things in the world: mysteries and dogs! What could be better?
The mystery-solving mutts are back! To Fetch a Scoundrel, the second in the Mutt Mysteries collection, features four tail-wagging novellas. Each story puts pups’ noses to the ground, as scandals are unleashed and killers are collared. Once you’ve finished reading these tall “tails,” you’ll no longer wonder, “Who let the dogs out?” You’ll just be glad somebody did!
I’ve invited all four authors here today to share news about their book as well as photos of their own dogs! Oh, and they’ll answer a few questions, too. Welcome to Heather Weidner, Jayne Ormerod, Rosemary Shomaker, and Teresa Inge.
This is the second in your series of Mutt Mysteries. Are the stories related to the first in the series? Are there any recurring characters? Do any of the Mutt Mystery characters appear in other books?
Jayne Ormerod: My two Mutt Mysteries stories, “It’s a Dog Gone Shame” in To Fetch a Thief and “Pawsitively Scandalous” in To Fetch a Scoundrel, are both stand alone novellas. My favorite part of writing is exploring new characters.
Heather Weidner: To date, the stories are stand-alones. Teresa’s are the only ones with recurring characters.
Rosemary Shomaker: The Mutt Mysteries novellas are standalones from one another and from book to book, with the exception of Teresa Inge’s novellas. She uses the same cast of characters.
Teresa Inge: Catt Ramsey is a recurring protagonist. She owns the Woof-Pack Dog Walkers in Virginia Beach. She appears in each book with her trusted sidekicks Cagney and Lacey who help her solve crimes and murder along with her sister Emma and family friend Jonathan Ray. My Mutt Mysteries characters do not appear in other books. Catt Ramsey and her crew appear only in the Mutt Mysteries Series.
How did you come to work together on this project? What was the writing process like? While each story is separate, has there been any thought to crossover?
Jayne Ormerod: The collaborative genre has really become popular, as it gives the reader an opportunity to explore many authors for the cost of one book. Heather, Rosemary, Teresa, and I worked together on some short story collections, and we admired each other’s’ story-telling talents. So when this project came up, we pulled together and got writing. There have been a few brainstorming sessions at the Williamsburg Winery (halfway between Richmond and Hampton Roads so a perfect location, and, of course, there is added benefit of wine), but the rest of the writing process was through electronic communications.
Heather Weidner: The four of us have worked together on anthology projects before. This idea formed at a planning session for a short story anthology. The four of us (in Williamsburg, VA) decided to do a project that was dog themed. Each author writes her story individually. The common themes are the dogs, mysteries, and the cozy mystery subgenre. My characters, Delanie Fitzgerald, Duncan Reynolds, and Margaret the wonder dog are going to make an appearance in the third installment of the Mutt Mysteries series.
Rosemary Shomaker: We are members of Sisters in Crime, and our stories have been included in some of the same anthologies. Some of the Mutt Mysteries writers have worked together to produce mystery anthologies. We formed friendships while marketing anthology projects and bonded over our love of dogs. For Mutt Mysteries, we work together to decide a theme and timeline, but then we write our drafts independently. Come editing time, though, we circulate and comment one another’s work. We share production duties with most falling ton Jayne in her role as Bay Breeze Publishing maven. We work cooperatively on marketing.
I’ve thought to suggest crossover stories, as I think that would unify the novellas. Maybe we’ll begin with cameo appearances of main character across novellas.
Teresa Inge: The four authors have appeared in other anthologies together, so there was a natural evolution to creating the series. Plus, the authors are friends and respect each other’s writing talents and understand the business side of writing. The writing process? We come up with a theme for each book along with a deadline and then start the editing process along with marketing and promotion when the books are published. I have not thought about crossover, but it’s a great idea to promote each story that way.
To Fetch a Scoundrel features four short stories about mystery-solving mutts. What kind of dog is in your story and what is their special mystery-solving skill?
Jayne Ormerod: Natti, short for Natural Light beer (named by a fraternity boy . . . what else can I say . . . ) is a black Lab mixed with something big. The talent he brings to the table is his innate ability to tell the good guys from the bad guys with just one sniff.
Heather Weidner: Oliver is the Director of Security at a small racetrack in rural Amelia County, Virginia. He is a Rottweiler who loves hanging out in the office and taking long walks. His intrepid nose helps find clues that eventually lead to the murderer.
Rosemary Shomaker: “Ruff Goodbye” features a miniature poodle and a black Lab. The poodle acts as comfort animal, protector, alarm (barking), and character judge. “Cloud’s” protective and comfort actions are his superpowers. The black Lab’s role is unique. “Clarion’s” watchful presence speaks of stability and dependability, as well as comfort. He is beloved by the patrons at Len Hayes’ bar, The Beacon. Clarion is the story’s nonjudgmental keeper of secrets.
Teresa Inge: Cagney and Lacey are terriers that help their mom, Catt Ramsey solve crimes. They sniff out clues and alert Catt to dangerous situations.
If the dog in your story could be any human detective (on screen or literary), who would they be?
Jayne Ormerod: Richard Castle, from the TV show Castle. Both hang around real detectives but are just kind of along for the ride.
Heather Weidner: Oliver is usually quiet, but inquisitive. He’s muscular and imposing. I think he’d be a lot like Spenser or Hawk in Robert B. Parker’s classic series.
Rosemary Shomaker: I picture Cloud as a male version of a timid but determined Barbara Havers from Elizabeth George’s Detective Inspector Thomas Lynley mysteries. Cloud/Barbara is restrained due to his/her quavering confidence and general introverted nature until the stakes get so high that he/she has to act! I see Clarion as a solid, no-nonsense Frank Cannon detective as played by William Conrad in the 1970’s “Cannon” television show. Clarion, like Cannon, is powerfully built and non-loquacious.
Teresa Inge: These dogs would be canine Nancy Drews since they get involved in precarious situations and love being a part solving crimes and helping their mom, Catt Ramsey, catch the bad guy.
What funny story can you share about one of your own pet(s) – current or past?
Jayne Ormerod: Easter, 1988. We had two mutts, Kimo, a shepherd/husky mix, and Commodore, the biggest, dumbest (but most loveable) dog we have ever owned. He was the inspiration for Natti in my story. Some friends joined us for dinner. While our heads were bowed in prayer, I saw a flash of brown out of the corner of my eye. Right where the plate of Honey Baked ham sat. Hmmm. Curious. Thinking/hoping/praying it had been a trick of the light, I kept my eyes cast sideways through the blessing. A moment later, a black snout appeared and snatched a piece of ham off the stack and disappeared under the table. I’m ashamed to admit I yelled something very inappropriate during the Easter blessing. But lesson learned; from then on, the meat dish is always placed in the center of the table!
Heather Weidner: My husband and I share our home with two crazy Jack Russell Terriers. They’re from the same litter, and it’s like living with perpetual three year olds. When they are too quiet, they’re into something. And both are way too smart and inquisitive for their own good. Riley, the brother of the pair, loves to eat paper. I have to watch trashcans and recycle bins because he finds new and creative ways to get in them. (One time he ate a $20 bill that was in my open purse.) I was proud of myself for outsmarting him. I bought lidded cans that had a lever at the bottom to open the top. Ha! That would keep him out of the trash. Two days later, I heard the bathroom trashcan bump around and open. Riley figured out how to step on the lever for easy access.
Rosemary Shomaker: One summer long ago, my cat Bootsie disappeared. A week later, the family next door returned from vacation and found Bootsie (female) cavorting with their male cat in their house. They’d boarded their dog but left their cat at home and had a friend check on him a few times. Who knows how Bootsie gained entry to their home? The family returned Boostie to us, and a few weeks later, a litter of five was born! Love nest? This was way back in the early 1970s before pets were routinely spayed and neutered.
Teresa Inge: I have two dogs, Luke and Lena, who are shepherd mixes and named after my husband’s grandparents. At first, some family members were surprised by their names since the original Luke and Lena were their grandparents, too, but now they love that we chose those names. I never met my husband’s grandparents Luke and Lena since they both passed away before I knew my husband, but I’ve seen photos of them, and I’m glad we decided to name our pets after them.
Will the third in the series be the last? Have you considered writing other “animal/pet” mysteries?
Jayne Ormerod: I, for one, plan to continue writing Mutt Mysteries as long as I’m having fun! I enjoy having pets in my stories, but they do need tended to. For instance, you can’t have a detective jump on a plane to follow a suspect from Charleston, SC, to Honolulu, Hawaii, without first making accommodations for the pets at home. It can be done, just adds to the writing challenge.
Heather Weidner: All of my stories and novels have some animal in the story. Pets are so integral to a lot of people’s lives. We are working on the third in the series now. I’m hoping that the series continues. I like writing novellas, and it’s fun to work on group projects.
Rosemary Shomaker: I’m still part of the Mutt Mysteries family but am sitting out the next book. You’ll see pets in my subsequent stories, but I’ve learned that my stories are often on the long and heavy side, and are not the fast-paced, quick reading suited to cozies.
Teresa Inge: I hope the series will not end with the third book. I love writing the series and having my protagonist Catt Ramsey appear in each book. It’s been so much fun to write about Catt and her sidekicks Cagney and Lacey. I have considered writing other “animal/pet” mysteries. I am considering writing my own dog walking series since I now have a following with readers in this series who love mysteries and animals.
More on the Mutt Mysteries and the authors:
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Jayne Ormerod grew up in a small Ohio town then went on to a small-town Ohio college. Upon earning her degree in accountancy, she became a CIA (that’s not a sexy spy thing, but a Certified Internal Auditor). She married a naval officer and off they sailed to see the world. After nineteen moves, they, along with their two rescue dogs Tiller and Scout, have settled into a cozy cottage by the sea. Jayne is the author of over a dozen published stories, from novel length to short-short.
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Jayne Ormerod’s Life’s a Beach blog: http://www.jayneormerod.blogspot.com
Heather Weidner is the author of three mysteries in the Delanie Fitzgerald series. Her short stories appear in the Virginia is for Mysteries series, 50 Shades of Cabernet, and Deadly Southern Charm. Her novellas appear in The Mutt Mysteries series. She is a member of Sisters in Crime – Central Virginia, Guppies, International Thriller Writers, and James River Writers. Originally from Virginia Beach, Heather has been a mystery fan since Scooby-Doo and Nancy Drew. She lives in Central Virginia with her husband and a pair of Jack Russell terriers.
Heather earned her BA in English from Virginia Wesleyan University and her MA in American literature from the University of Richmond. Through the years, she has been a cop’s kid, technical writer, editor, college professor, software tester, and IT manager.
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Website and Blog: http://www.heatherweidner.com
Amazon Authors: http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B00HOYR0MQ
Rosemary Shomaker writes about the unexpected in everyday life. She’s the woman you don’t notice in the grocery store or at church but whom you do notice at estate sales and wandering vacant lots. In all these places she’s collecting story ideas. Rosemary writes mystery, women’s fiction, and paranormal short stories. Stay tuned as she takes her first steps toward longer fiction.
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Teresa Inge grew up reading Nancy Drew mysteries. Combining her love of reading mysteries and writing professional articles led to writing short fiction and novellas. Today, she juggles assisting two busy executives and is the president of the Sisters in Crime, Mystery by the Sea chapter. Teresa is the author of the Virginia is Mysteries series, 50 Shades of Cabernet, and the Mutt Mysteries series.
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