19 September, 2011

Have you hugged your dog today?

National Dog Week starts today. Woof! Time to give your pooch some extra love, belly rubs, butt scrubs or whatever your hairy companion prefers

As I sit at my desk, Clue, my Golden Retriever, is dozing on the floor next to me, dreaming of her next meal or hug, whichever comes first.  She is now 12 years old, grey-faced, deaf and severely arthritic.  But that doesn't stop her from enjoying life.  Every morning she wakes up, tail beating a joyous tattoo on her bed, waiting for our morning ritual of belly rubs and wriggling.

Clue is the perfect name for a mystery writer's dog,right? But it's actually short for "Hasn't got a Clue."  You see, Clue is a rescue dog.  When she was just a couple of months old, her  owners dumped her on a back road to fend for herself.  Fortunately someone found her and took her to the local shelter. After keeping her the required 30 days, the shelter listed her on Petfinder where I fell in love with her at first sight.

I drove 90 minutes north to the shelter to see her -- all 55 pounds of untrained, unfettered energy.  The first thing she did was jump up on my then-80-year-old mother and knock her flat on her derriere.  Not a promising start. Fortunately Mother has a sense of humour and loves dogs. And, if Clue had inexhaustible energy, she also demonstrated boundless love, despite her history.  Thirty minutes later I was loading her into the back of my SUV for the drive home.  She spent the entire trip trying to climb out the window or into the front seat.  "No," "sit," "down," "stay" were simply not part of her vocabulary.  My comment to my mom: "This dog hasn't got a clue how to behave."

I'll admit it took three, yes three, basic obedience classes to get the message through to her, but it was worth every minute.  She's given me 11+ years of undiluted joy, love and companionship. And she sits on command!  So if you're looking for a wonderful pet, ADOPT DON'T SHOP! Rescues make the best pets -- somehow they just know, and they repay a thousand times over.

Here's a recipe for an extra special treat for your beloved canine family member. I use a large (5 1/2-inch) cookie cutter, but you can use any size or shape you like. Clue will be savouring hers as soon as they cool.

 Clue's Secret Treats
1 cup    All-Purpose flour  
1/2 cup    Powdered milk  
1/2 cup   Quick-cook Oats  
1 cup    Wheat flour
1 Tbs    Margarine   
1 tsp    Brown sugar  
1    Egg  
2.5 oz jar Gerber's Beef & Beef gravy baby food (or any flavour you like)
4 oz jar Gerber's Vegetable Beef baby food (or any flavour you like)
Approx. 1/2 cup  Low-Sodium Chicken broth   

Combine dry ingredients in a bowl, cut in margarine until mixture resembles corn meal. Stir sugar and baby food into the egg, and add to dry ingredients. Add chicken broth gradually (approx. 1/2 cup) to make a stiff dough. Knead on well-floured surface until dough is smooth. Roll to 1/2" thick and cut into desired shapes. Preheat oven to 325F. Bake for 30 - 40 minutes.

Yield: 12  5 1/2-inch biscuits

15 September, 2011

An Interview with Pat Deuson

Pat's ebook, Superior Longing, debuts  today!

Tiger:       Pat, as an aspiring-to-be-published writer, how does it feel to see your book about to be published? 

Pat: First Tiger, thanks for asking me to visit your blog.
While it’s great to no longer be ‘aspiring’ at least after 9/15/11 when Superior Longing comes out, writing goes on, with all the ups and downs that brings. While I’ve tried to maintain a ‘professional’ attitude toward writing, defined sublimely by Christie: "There was a moment when I changed from an amateur to a professional. I assumed the burden of a profession, which is to write even when you don't want to, don't much like what you're writing, and aren't writing particularly well." I now can add marketing, which carries the same proviso. Note this is an ebook. I was offered a contract for a print book as well but I have seen the future….

Tiger:       When did you decide to write novels? And how did you come up with your mystery idea?

Pat: I wasn’t a stranger to writing. I wrote stories in college and then stopped for years. But as we all know when you’re bitten you stay that way, so one summer I came back from one of the countries in Africa – it may have been Niger – where we lived, on R&R. I spent a month in California during ‘fire season’ and a plot [which turned out to be too big for one book] came to me and I just started writing it down.

Tiger:       Tell me a little bit about the process you went through writing Superior Longing.  Did you work with a critique group or muscle through alone?

Pat: I’ve  moved around too much to form the strong bonds critique groups need, so it’s generally been a battle I’ve fought alone. Once I joined Sisters in Crime and then the sub-group Guppies, I’ve gotten to ‘know’ a lot of writers and found ‘us’ to be great and very supportive. That said, if you can find a group of writers with whom you can develop sympathetic bonds, and the trust to say what must be said, you are very lucky and shouldn’t hesitate.
Tiger:      How did you get started with writing? 
A creative writing course in college. But it took a late night call from friends one summer who urged me to submit some of my stories in a contest [which I won] that made me think.

Pat:       Tell me a little bit about Superior Longing, without giving away too much.
I though you’d never ask! This is my ‘best’ blurb:

Life is what happens when you're looking elsewhere. SUPERIOR LONGING, a mystery, is set during the frigid spring on the beautiful and harsh southern shore of Lake Superior. When Neva Moore's uncle drowns and the details of his death twist and turn, her pursuit of the truth weaves through small town politics, smuggling, and superstition, to end where it all began, back in the family and another death in an icy lake.

Tiger:       Now that the ebook is about to come out, what do you hope for? 

Pat: To keep writing and, with luck. selling.  I’m in a second draft of the next Neva Moore mystery and have about ¾ of the one after written in second draft as well. I can’t say this is the best way to write but it turned out that way.

Tiger:      Which novelist most influenced your own work? And which writer, past or present, would you like to spend some time with?

Pat: Without question Raymond Chandler. Crystalline prose. The writer that I would like to spend time with is the late Robert Fagles. His translation of the Iliad is an inspiration. However, if I’m allowed a second, it would be G. R. R. Martin, whose Song of Ice and Fire quintet [so far, 2 more are coming] is a lesson in how to write, that goes on for 4.5K pages and was far more compelling to me than any craft book I’ve read.

Tiger:       It's obvious from this blog that I'm dedicated foodie. Any good food in your mystery? Recipes?  What do you eat while you're writing?  Any "brain" foods?

Pat: Here’s an unexpected answer: no. It is a cooking school, but the focus is on crime. Food is discussed, time is spent in the kitchen, but it’s all about murder and justice for the dead for me - a strong Chandler influence. However, Neva, the series main character, does like to cook and has a blog where she will [I started to set it up yesterday]  talk about food, but in a slightly different way – although she does have an outstanding chili recipe – her first post will probably be about olive oil.  And I did a guest blog about tabouleh, and, come to think of it, Neva ghosted one for me on daube, because that was a class she was giving and frankly the girl doesn’t know her place. I try not to eat while writing, it’s hell on the keyboard. I think a good night’s sleep is the best brain food, although this is closely followed by Pepperidge Farm cookies.

Tiger:  What advice would you give someone in my position - finished manuscript, no agent, no publisher?

Pat: First I’d ask what ‘finished’ means. Is it a first draft? Has anyone else looked at it? Do you think it’s the best you can do? Or are you just a little ‘brain fried’ with that manuscript and need a rest? If you, and your posse, if you have one, really think it’s great and in your heart you’re satisfied, then you need  a great synopsis [ONE page or LESS] and a sterling query letter which you can send around to agents and small press alike – or even the big boys. I should mention that I do 8-10 drafts. Not look it over change a word or two, but back to the beginning as if I was writing it first time. And really a manuscript is never done, in my opinion.

If I may here are some links that will help the curious find Superior Longing information: http://superiorlonging.blogspot.com/  http://goo.gl/AfIVM   The ebook,  published by Echelon Press, will be available September 15, 2011 on Kindle, Nook, Smashwords,Omnilit.com and other places I don’t know about.

Tiger: Pat, thanks so much for stopping by with your great news.  All the best on this and future books.

You can find Superior Longing at http://tinyurl.com/pd-sl-Omni  and http://tinyurl.com/pd-sl-Smash