Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Fido and Friend in Five: Jeff Crosby, Baron and Fritz!

Jeff Crosby
So this is an exciting first for Fido and Friend in Five: an author/illustrator in the spotlight! When Jeff Crosby's new picture book, Wiener Wolf, arrived in our library, all of us dog-loving librarians crowded around the book. How could we resist with that cover?! And then we (well okay, I) read it aloud and we had a fit of the giggles over this story of a little dog with big ambitions.

Here's another really cool thing: Jeff's wife, Shelley Ann Jackson, is also an amazing illustrator, and they've even collaborated on some books, including Little Lions, Bull Baiters, and Hunting Hounds: A History of Dog Breeds. Oh, and their daughter, Harper. This talented couple also share their home with two Wiener Wolfs, Baron and Fritz, and a shih tzu named Millie. Let's find out a bit more about Jeff Crosby and his little muses in today's Fido and Friend in Five spotlight:

Baron & Fritz
1. How did you and your dogs find each other?  Baron, the eldest, was bought from a questionable breeder back before we knew better (we forgive you). We were living in a small New York apartment at the time and wanted a couple of small dogs. My family had always had dachshunds, so that was what I wanted. I was looking for a mini dapple and that's what the breeder said Baron was. Baron turned out to be a red twiener. Little Fritz is a rescue. My brother, Tim, found him on the street, his wee heart riddled with worms. The vet fixed him up and my brother took him home. Tim has several large dogs and Fritz didn't quite fit in, so he gave him to my parents who foster wiener dogs. They had four at the time. Fritz made five. It was a good fit until the other male started attacking Fritz after walks. That's when we offered to take him. We also have Millie, the shih tzu, who we bought at the same as Baron. She is the exact opposite of the wieners!

Granny Fritz
2. What makes your dogs tails wag?  Food, food, and food--but not necessarily in that order. They also was their tails when we come home, when we talk to them, and when we play with them. Fritz wags his tail  for walkies, but Baron just slinks off to a corner to hide.

3. What's your all-time favorite dog story?  Hmmm....I gotta say Where the Red Fern Grows, by Wilson Rawls. I read it as a boy and it made me cry. I hadn't realized the power of books until then. As far as picture books go, I do enjoy reading Dan Yaccarino's Unlovable, to my four-year-old daughter.

4. If your dogs could change just one thing about you, what would that be?  Daddy should work less and play more.

5. In five words, tell us what your dogs mean to you:  They're family, friends, and inspiration!

Thanks so much to Jeff and his pack for being in the Fido and Friend in Five spotlight! Be sure to check out his new book, Wiener Wolf. It's a hoot!

Monday, August 29, 2011

More Sheltie Fans! Caldeen and Cameron

Cookie & Shiloh
This week I received a short but very sweet email from a woman named Caldeen who'd just read A Dog's Way Home. She and her husband have had numerous shelties in their lives, and one very comical boxer! Caldeen was kind enough to allow me to post her letter and send me photos of her shelties and boxer. One of the photos in particular struck a cord with me: she included a couple of photos of a gorgeous little red fox and her current sheltie, Shiloh. Some people have scoffed at the idea that someone could mistake a sheltie for a fox, but look at these photos and tell me what you think!

Max, their first Sheltie

thank you so much for the story of Tam  and Abby. I have not cried that hard reading a book for a long time. We have had 6 shelties in 25 years. We currently have a sheltie and a boxer. We love them so much.

Your book was wonderful!!!!

Silly Cookie!
Caldeen and Cameron Benedict

Lemhi & Elijah

Friday, August 26, 2011

Fido and Friend in FIve: Erin Murphy, Pepper and Lulu!

Erin Murphy
I met Erin Murphy of Erin Murphy Literary Agency about five years ago at The Pacific Coast Children's Writer Conference. I had just made the leap the fall before from writing picture books to writing novels. I came to the conference with a very early draft of my teen novel, The Ring, and a lot of trepidation! Erin would be critiquing the first twenty pages of the book in front of a whole group of other writers. Yikes! But as I sat in the hot seat (knees knocking), she was so encouraging and supportive of my fledging work. I have always been grateful for the input she gave me that helped my work along the way.

Boy Who Spoke Dog
Erin started her literary agency in 1999 and has really built a strong reputation in the business. She represents some wonderful authors who write everything from picture books to teen novels. One of my very favorite dog novels, The Boy Who Spoke Dog, was written by Clay Morgan, one of her authors. Like myself, Erin loves the outdoors--she's an avid hiker, kayaker, and traveler. She's also a devoted dog mom to two gorgeous rescue dogs, Pepper and Lulu. I caught up with Erin and her girls in Flagstaff, Arizona where they hike and hang out, and asked them The Five Questions:

1. How did you and your dogs find each other?  We're dedicated adopters of rescue animals. We have two dogs now, Pepper and Lulu. I came across Pepper at PetSmart, where the local no-kill shelter had set up a pen full of puppies. We already had two grown dogs (one old and grouchy) , and weren't seeking another. But Pepper's coloring, down to a face that's half-black and half-spotted, was so like that of Dylan, the first dog my husband and I adopted together, that I couldn't resist--even when the shelter workers said, "Oh, now you're in trouble--she's the ringleader!" And she couldn't have ended up being more different than Dylan personality-wise. I've never had a more lawful dog. She believes in pack hierarchy and in following rules. Dylan was all about playing. And his face was black on the opposite side!

Erin, Lulu, and Pepper
Strangely, Lulu also was found at PetSmart, but adopted from a different shelter. A couple of months after our dog, Avalon, passed away last year, we decided Pepper needed a companion (or maybe I did). Pepper had been such a difficult puppy, we were determined to only adopt adult dogs in the future, and since they are harder for shelters to find homes for, we figured we'd have no trouble. But we couldn't find the right dog at either shelter in town. We wanted an easy-going, mellow dog since pepper is so high strung, and we wanted a dog who was engaged with us. No dice. Finally, we went to PetSmart to check the few dogs the humane association keeps there, and the worker kept steering us to Lulu, even though we didn't want a puppy. We took her out, and she was such a love! So connected with us humans right away, and so interested in Pepper. And Pepper tolerated her, even if there wasn't love there. It turned out that Lulu was much older than the humane association had estimated. She's small for a shepherd mix, so we only had to deal with a few short months of puppyhood.

2. What makes Pepper and Lulu's tails wag?  Walks! I take them out twice a day (which is good for my endless laptop-staring-screen-staring self too). Lulu is much happier if she gets to take her ball with her, too. She likes to show it all her favorite spots in the woods, then casually leave it on the path for us to find and throw for her. When we round a curve and see her sitting in the middle of the path up ahead, looking expectant, we know she's hidden it somewhere like an Easter Egg, and we go hunting. If we can't find it, we have to ask her help, and oh, are we embarrassed! She loves outsmarting the humans.

Star in the Forest
Dogs on the Bed
3. What's your all-time favorite dog story?  As a kid, I honestly didn't like most dog stories I read: they always seemed to be so sad! (Where the Red Fern Grows--oh, the tears!). But it delights me when a dog shows up as a sidekick or secondary character or illustration motif in my client's books, as in Audrey Vernick's forthcoming novel, Water Balloon, and picture book Brothers at Bat, or Dotti Enderle's Crosswire. A lot hinges on the dog in Laura Resau's Star in the Forest. Of course, Clay Morgan's The Boy Who Spoke Dog, has wonderful, funny insights into the doggie brain. And then there's author and bookseller extaordinaire Elizabeth Bluemle's My Father the Dog, in which a child finds many humorous comparisons between a dad and a dog, and Dogs on the Bed is so full of truth and silliness! There used to be a last line in the text, "Feet smell like corn chips" that I still hear in my head when I kiss my dogs' big puppy feet. I have a lot of dog-loving clients on my list!

My Father the Dog
4. If Pepper and Lulu could change just one thing about you, what would it be?  I'd stop looking in the mysterious glowing box all day.

5. In five words, tell us what Pepper and Lulu mean to you:  Cuddles, joy and unconditional love!

Thanks so much for stopping by, Erin, Pepper, and Lulu! To find out more
about Erin, her agency, and her authors, be sure to visit her website
Erin Murphy Literary Agency

Monday, August 22, 2011

MacDuff and His Girl

Sheltie people are just so cool! They love, love, love their dogs and to connect with other sheltie folks. Since my book, A Dog's Way Home, is about a sheltie named Tam, I get emails from sheltie fans who've read the book. Here's one I got this week from a fellow librarian and proud sheltie mom in South Carolina. She even sent me photos of her BFF, MacDuff. I just had to share!

Mrs. Pyron,
MacDuff & Dabney
My name is Dabney Carmichael and I live in Rock Hill, SC. I’m a librarian at York County Library and one of my kids that comes on the bookmobile suggested your book, A Dog’s Way Home, to me. I just wanted to tell you that I really enjoyed it, although some parts broke my heart because it hit so close to home for me. I live about 2 hours from the Blue Ridge Mountains, and my family has a vacation home in Boone, NC, right off of the Parkway. My 3 year old, MacDuff, loves it when we go for rides along it, I’d say it’s his favorite place to go when we’re in the mountains. He’s actually a sable and white male, and looks a lot like Tam. It’s funny how the people at the rest stop in your book thought Tam was a fox. That’s what people ask me all the time about MacDuff. Anyway, I just wanted to say that your book moved me and although MacDuff probably doesn’t know what to think over his mommy tearing up over a book, I really enjoyed it. My fiancĂ© likes MacDuff to ride in the bed of the truck whenever he rides in his car, but now I think I’ll have to object. I honestly don’t know what MacDuff or I would do if we ever lost each other, you know what I mean. They would probably have to put me away, haha. I saw on your website that you are a sheltie person, that’s awesome! Your dog is beautiful. What’s its name? MacDuff’s my only one at the moment but my mother has two, Sweetheart and Jacks. Sweetheart is 12 and Jacks is a year old. He’s MacDuff’s brother from a later litter. Anyway, thank you and have a great day!
Baby MacDuff
p.s. I attached a picture of my baby so you can see what he looks like ( yes, I’m a bragging parent J 

Big hugs to Dabney and MacDuff for sharing their

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Fido and Friend in Five: Ann Cannon and Zora!

Ann Cannon and Zora
Have I mentioned Utah has an abundance of talented children's authors? Okay, maybe once or twice, but it's true! Maybe it's the high elevations or the long winters--maybe it's the wild mountains and the red rock of southern Utah. Whatever it is, we write. I first met Ann Cannon about three years ago when I took a local five-day children's writers workshop. Ann was the instructor of the brave band of authors I was grouped with. All of us were unpublished, all of us were hungry and eager and rather wide-ranging in our talent. Ann took care of us with endless wisdom, humor, and patience. Kind of like a den mother. Little did I know, I was right on the cusp of my writing life taking a dramatic change: towards the end of that week with Ann, I signed with my agent and got an offer from WestSide Books to publish The Ring! I think of Ann as my good-luck charm.

Ann lives in Salt Lake City with her husband, Ken, and three parakeets, one parrot, two cats, and one very big dog named Zoe. Oh, and did I mention Ann has five sons? She also writes a column for the Salt Lake Tribune, works at Utah's favorite indie bookstore, The King's English, teaches writing, and somehow actually finds time to write books of her own! Like Ann, her books are rich in heart and humor, no matter what age group she writes for. Whether it's a book about the trials and tribulations of a young pioneer girl or a modern day teenage boy, an Ann Cannon book is a treasure. Ann has a new book coming out in March of 2012, a picture book called Sophie's Fish. This October, University of Utah Press will re-print Charlotte's Rose. Yay Ann!

So let's meet my good-luck charm and her very large (180 pounds!) BFF, Zora!

1.  How did you and Zora find each other?  Zora and I have my husband to thank for our meeting. I'd always wanted a Newfoundland dog but doubted I'd ever have one. Inviting a dog that size to share your home and your life is quite a commitment! But one night Ken said, "I think I've found our next girl." Then he showed me a picture he'd found online of an adorable brown puppy that looked exactly like a baby bear. We called the breeder in L.A. the next day, and the day after that, we headed to the coast to pick up Zora. The rest is history!

2. What makes Zora's tail wag?  Food, for sure. She's related to me that way. I like cupcakes, and unfortunately, so does she.

3. What's your all-time favorite dog book?  Well! Up until this spring, I would have said Where the Red Fern Grows. But a certain book by the fabulous author, Bobbie Pyron, is certainly giving that classic a run for its money! (blush, blush)

4. If Zora could change just one thing about you, what would it be?  I think Zora would make me more tolerant of her drool. Which is SO NOT FAIR OF HER! I'm already massively tolerant of her drool.

5. In five words, tell us what Zora means to you:  Everything's better when Zora's around!

To find out more about the wonderful Ann Cannon and all her doings,
visit her website 

Fido and Friend in Five: Nancy Furstinger and pack!

Nancy and Jolly
I won't bore you one more time telling you with how I fell in love with the jacket cover of Nancy's new book, Maggie's Second Chance, when it came into the library. I won't tell you how that sweet dog's face on the cover spoke to me, and how I had to read it immediately. Instead, I'll tell you that Nancy has the coolest quote below her email signature. It says, "Think it's tough putting on a condom? Try doing it with paws and claws!" Of course, it's her reminder to spay and neuter your pets, but it cracks me up every time. But that's just Nancy. She's not only the author of over a hundred children's books (many of which are about animals), but she's also a tireless advocate for animal rescue. She's very involved with her local rescue. She also donated proceeds from her book, Catskill Creatures, to Heart of the Catskills, the rescue where she adopted Splash. Her new book, Maggie's Second Chance, is the wonderful story of an abandoned, pregnant lab mix who inspires a whole town to build an animal shelter. And it's based on the true story of fourth graders in Texas who founded a shelter in their town! Great reviews in both School Library Journal and Kirkus have called Maggie's Second Chance "inspiring" and "heartwarming."

Nancy shares her life with three rescued dogs and six rescued house rabbits. So let's meet Nancy Furstinger and her pack!

1. How did you and your dogs find each other?  All three of my dogs are rescued. With Splash, I volunteered at adoption events for Heart of the Catskills (Delhi, NY), where we had an excellent track record of adopting out spotlighted dogs. I fell in love with this wonderful Rottweiler mix and was crestfallen when he was adopted. The match was not made in heaven--Splash was too young and wild and this person was old and sedentary, so he was quickly returned. I knew he was mine (as long as he bonded with my dog, Diamond Dreamer). Splash and Diamond were inseparable until she passed from lymphosarcoma. We were both devastated , and my grief by Splash's refusal to eat and mopping around. So I headed to (always dangerous) and, based on a postage-sized photo and brief bio, found Lacy. She and her doggy husband were being given up because her family was divorcing. Her "husband" had been adopted already; Splash and I drove six hours to see if it was a love match. Lacy sniffed Splash, jumped in my car and never looked back. Jolly was abandoned in a house around the corner where the people were evicted. I rescued her theoretically to foster, but was a goner in a few hours: she fit into my household (including the house rabbits) instantly! She was the third dog I never knew I needed, and the star of Maggie's Second Chance.

Nancy's BFFs
2. What makes everyone's tails wag?  Splash loves tummy rubs and kisses. Lacy loves swimming in our lake (even during NY winters), agility, and de-gutting stuffed toys. Treats and more treats makes Jolly's tail wag!

3. What's your all-time favorite dog story?  Just one? Darn, well you're going to get more than that! As a kid, I loved Lassie Come-Home and lived for the Sunday night TV show. Later, after reading Watership Down, I picked up Richard Adams' book, Plague Dogs. As an animal rights advocate, I was blown away by this brilliant, heart-wrenching book. I also adore all of Alexandra Day's "Carl" books, which (like Splash) serve as an ambassador for the misunderstood Rottie breed. Plus, James Heriot's Dog Stories--endearing "tails" to bark about!

4. If your dogs could change just one thing about you, what would it be?  Ditch the laptop and stop spending so  much time with those long-earred creatures (otherwise known as bunnies) so all day, every day, can be doggy playtime!

5. In five words, tell us what your dogs mean to you:  Dogs=love magnified 7 times (based on the myth that one dog year equals 7 human years).

Thanks so very much to Nancy and her pack for taking time away from playtime and bunnies to visit Fido and Friend in Five! To find out more about Nancy's books visit

Sunday, August 14, 2011


Conference headquarters
Richard Peck. Lisa Yee, Judy Blume
As some of you know, I was just recently at the annual SCBWI summer conference in Los Angeles. For the uninitiated, SCBWI stands for the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators. I'm pretty darned sure it's the largest organization of its kind. There were over 1,300 in attendance this year! And because it was the 40th anniversary of SCBWI, the stars were out! It seemed like all the living luminaries in children's literature were there giving keynote addresses: Richard Peck, Gary Paulsen, Norton Juster, Libba Bray, Donna Jo Napoli, David Small, Laurie Halse Anderson, and (gasp) Judy Blume! And those were only the ones I heard--there were even more. It rocked my librarian heart! There were also plenty of workshops and breakout sessions. The best one I attended was on giving dynamic presentations by Bruce Hale (and FYI: look for him in a future Fido and Friend spotlight!).
Me and Arthur's Pack!
Utah pajama girlz!

I warned you!
Saturday I was delighted to have lunch with my new editor, Arthur A. Levine and some of the other authors in his "pack". I felt like such a pup! That night, all the authors, illustrators, and faculty let their hair down at the poolside pajama party. I was SO out of my element, but yes, I DID indeed dance! It was not a pretty sight, but everyone was pretty forgiving. And drunk.
My Newbery dress

All in all, it was a great time!

Here are some of my favorite quotes from a few of the keynote speakers:

  • "Readers are not trends, they are readers." Libba Bray
  • "If you need to write it, there's someone out there who needs to read it." Donna Jo Napoli
  • "Reading became breathing for me." Gary Paulsen, in talking about his horrific childhood.
  • "What I'm interested in is the difference between what the character's saying and what the character is thinking." Judy Blume

Friday, August 12, 2011

Interview with Marica Hoehne!

Blogger Marica Hoehne, , just posted this fun interview with me, in which I learned what a "panster" is! 

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Interview with Author Bobbie Pyron

Two weeks ago, I talked about Bobbie Pyron's wonderful middle-grade novel, A Dog's Way Home. Today, I have the privilege of interviewing Bobbie on this blog! Read on to hear what she has to say about authors she admires, the freedom to write what you want, the need for research in fiction, and, that big question: Plotter or Pantser?

MH: Bobbie, it's pretty much a given that writers are readers. What kinds of books do you most like to read?

BP: I've always been a voracious reader. I most like to read books that are character-driven and have characters that are complex yet very believable. I also love beautiful writing. I don't tend to read what's popular with everyone else. 

MH: Who are some authors you admire, especially MG/YA, and why?

BP: Being a librarian and a writer, I admit to having very strong opinions about books and writers! Alice Hoffman, Anne Patchett, Kate DiCamillo, Cynthia Rylant, Sharon Creech, Sonya Hartnett, and Julia Glass, just to name a few. I have such admiration for writers who are willing to take a risk, whether that's writing something completely different from what they're "known" for, or choosing a particular subject matter, or not following the latest trend. For instance, I have tremendous respect for Libba Bray because she doesn't allow herself to get pigeonholed. I also greatly respect authors like Chris Crutcher, Sherman Alexie, Cheryl Rainfield, Ellen Hopkins, and Laurie Halse Anderson for writing about tough subjects with grace and humor, and Gary Schmidt, Kate DiCamillo, Barbara O'Connor and many more who write heartfelt, compassionate books that actually show the best in people.

MH: Sometimes new writers are surprised to learn that fiction (other than historical) requires research. What kind of research did you do for A Dog's Way Home?

BP: I did a TON of research! Even though I know dogs, and shelties in particular, it was important to me to check facts such as what colors they can actually see. I also wanted to make sure that, if a coyote kills a porcupine in a particular way, that's actually the way it would happen. I read books about the flora and fauna of the Blue Ridge Parkway. I have a horror of some kid reading my book who lives in that particular place and being disappointed because I "got it wrong." For Tam's route home, I had a map of the Blue Ridge Parkway in front of me at all times. I respect my readers too much to let the facts slide just because it's fiction, and especially because they're "just kids."

MH: Plotter or pantser? Have you ever tried the opposite method?

BP: Oh, totally a pantser! I usually have a pretty good idea of the beginning, middle, end, and core conflict when I start. But I like to leave myself lots of room to be surprised and to see where the characters take me. I don't outline before I start. What my agent taught me to do, however, is outline AFTER the first draft is done. I go through chapter by chapter and write down the main things that happen in each. Outlining that way allows me to see "dead zones" -- places where nothing happens to advance the plot or characterization. I also get a bird's eye view of story arc. I highly recommend this technique to even the most hardcore pantser.

MH: Your "Fido and Friends in Five" blog series is cool! Would you say a few words about it?

BP: I'd love to! My editor for A Dog's Way Home, Molly O' Neill, really wanted me to blog after the release of the book in March. I, however, am not a natural blogger. We were brainstorming ideas on how to focus the blog so I didn't feel like I was just saying "Yay me" in every post. We came up with the idea of interviewing other authors about their dogs. I've been amazed by the authors who've been happy to talk about their dogs on my blog -- folks like Kathi Appelt, Gary Schmidt, Patricia MacLachlan, Lisa Yee, Katherine Erskine, Pete Hautman, Marilyn Singer, just to name a few.

MH: It sounds like you've provided them a great outlet to talk about their dogs, Bobbie! Your first novel, The Ring, is a YA about boxing, and A Dog's Way Home targets a different audience. You've mentioned that you admire authors who don't let themselves become pigeonholed. But so many authors have heard they should be concerned about branding. Can you comment a bit on career strategy?

BP: Ha! You assume I have a career strategy! I think for me (maybe because I'm an old hippie), I have a real fear of being "branded" as a certain kind of writer. I write the stories that insist on being told. My trick has been to find an agent and editor who will let me write these stories and trust me. I have a quote pinned on my bulletin board in my room where I write from Sonya Hartnett, an author I greatly admire. It reads in part, "I write whatever comes to me, and I write whatever the book requires. My first responsibility is to the work."

MH: You have a new book coming in the fall of 2012. What can you tell us about it?

BP: The working title is Mercy's Bone, and my sense is that it's for grades 6 and up. It's a fictionalized account of a true story: After the fall of the Soviet Union, there were tens of thousands of homeless children living on the streets of Moscow and St. Petersburg. This is the story of one of those children. Talk about research! I researched for years before I felt ready to write it. I'm very excited that the book will be published by Arthur A. Levine Books, and edited by Arthur himself!

MH: Can you give us any hints on WIPs?

BP: Oh, I have lots of voices banging around in my head. I have written about half a MG novel set in Florida, about a boy who gets struck by lightning and lives. I was born and raised in the Florida panhandle, so it's been fun to write about a place I know so intimately and fondly. It was really nice to go from writing about the bitter cold of Russia to the warmth of the Gulf of Mexico!

Thanks so much, Bobbie, for allowing us this peek into your life as a writer. You've really shown us how stories can be found in many different aspects of one person's life! Your breadth as a writer, too, is admirable. :)

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Fido and Friend in Five: Laurie Berenson, Blaze and Dash!

Laurien Berenson
Dog mysteries are always popular at the library where I work, especially with the adult patrons. One of the mystery authors who writes about dogs that's probably the most popular is Laurien Berenson. Her Melanie Travis Series debuted in 1994 with the first title, A Pedigree to Die For. That title was so popular, soon other books in the series joined the pack: Hush Puppy, Dog Eat Dog, Hair of the Dog, Watchdog, and many others. Each of the books features Melanie Travis, a thirty-something single mom in Connecticut with a nose for trouble--especially revolving around dogs. No matter how bad things get, though, you can always count on Melanie to be upbeat and the dogs completely believable.

Laurien was first inspired by her love of standard poodles when she wrote her first books in the series. Now, she and her husband have become devoted to a very different breed: smooth coated collies! So let's chat a little bit with author Laurie Berenson and her two collies, Blaze and Dash!

Beautiful Blaze
The dashing Dash!
1. How did you and your dogs find each other?  After 30 years with Poodles, we were looking for a big, happy, smart breed that required a lot less grooming. I has always loved the looks of smooth Collies, so we went to our local dog show and talked to some breeders. One immediately became a great friend. We went back to her house to look at a litter of six-week old puppies. Blaze, our blue merle female, walked out of the puppy pen and straight into my arms! It was totally clear from the first minute that she was going to be my dog. As Blaze grew up, we realized she seemed lonely for canine companionship. So we went back to the same breeder and got Dash, a sable male, who is now 9 months old. The two of them are best friends and so incredibly entertaining to live with. They enrich our lives in every way.

Best Friends!
2. What makes your dogs tails wag?  Everything in the world makes Dash's tail wag (except for nail clipping). He's just the happiest, most easy-going dog I've ever had! Blaze is very food oriented. She's never met a meal she doesn't like. They also like to watch horse racing on TV!

3. What's your all-time favorite dog story?  When I was little, I adored the Albert Payson Terhune books, so I guess it makes sense I ended up with Collies. Also, there was a paperback called The Black Spaniel Mystery, by Betty Cavanna that I read over and over again.

No couch potatoes here!
4. If Blaze and Dash could change just one thing about you, what would it be?  Blaze would like me to be more of a couch potato because then our personalities would match. Dash wishes I'd permanently lose the nail clippers!

5. In five words, tell us what Blaze and Dash mean to you:  Dog hair and laughter everywhere.

Well, it's certainly no mystery why Laurie loves Blaze and Dash! If you're looking for a thoroughly entertaining mystery series, find out more about Laurie and her books by visiting her website

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Fido and Friend in Five: Sneed Collard and Mattie!

The Gov's Dog is Missing
 Sneed Collard!
Okay, I just have to say that of all the authors I've had on Fido and Friend over the last five months, Sneed Collard, III has the coolest name of all. I just needed to get that out of the way at the start. Here's another reason I think Sneed Collard is very cool: he applied to be on my all-time favorite realty TV show, "The Amazing Race"! Seriously! If you go on his website (see link below), you can actually watch the entry video he had to send in to apply. It's amazing! True to the independent spirit of the West where he lives, Sneed started his own publishing company, Bucking Horse Books, to address the shortage of good quality regional books for children.

Although Sneed is known for his passion for non-fiction books (and he's published lots of them, including dog books), his latest book caught my eye when it came into the library where I work. The Governor's Dog is Missing! is a real page-turner of a middle grade novel with this gorgeous border collie leaping across the cover. The book follows twelve-year-old super sleuths, Slate and Daphne, as they try to figure out who stole the Montana Governor's famous dog, Cat, before time runs out. This is a great book with lots of action that will appeal to both boys and girls, dog lovers, and detective wannabees.

So let's meet two cool cats, Sneed Collard, III and Mattie!

Mattie vs. oatmeal box
1. How did you and Mattie find each other?  Back in 1998, I had a housemate who had a great Blue Heeler, and she (the housemate, not the dog) was about to get married. I think I was as sad about the dog leaving as about the housemate, and I was thinking about maybe getting a dog myself. Well, about a week before the wedding, my housemate spotted this Border Collie in the "Pet of the Week" column of the paper, and immediately became obsessed with this dog. After two sleepless nights, she asked me, "If I go adopt this dog, will you watch her while I go get married?" I said, "Well, let's go look at her." We went on down to the Humane Society, and for me, it was love at first sight. I just said, "Wrap her up!"

2. What makes Mattie's tail wag?  Now this is a funny question, because Mattie doesn't HAVE a tail! I don't know if someone lopped it off or if she was born that way. Several things do make her "stump" wag, however. One is seeing her favorite people. Another is the prospect of food. The third is the announcement of any action, from going for a walk to chasing a ball, to going for a car ride.

3. What's your all-time favorite dog story?  Would you run me out of the kennel if I said The Pokey Little Puppy? It was my favorite picture book as a child. But to be honest, I'd have to say the story of Shep (one of Sneed's books is SHEP: OUR MOST LOYAL DOG)--not because I got to write the kid's book about it, but because it is such a moving true story. And because it not only epitomizes all of a dog's wonderful qualities, but captures just how much dogs mean to people.

4. If Mattie could change just one thing about you, what would it be?  Oh, she would make me much more active! You fellow Border Collie owners know that these dogs NEVER get enough action. If Mattie had her way, she and I would be hiking the mountains and rivers 12 hours a day--even at Mattie's ripe old age of twelve and a half!
Mattie & India on the run!

5. In five words, tell us what Mattie means to you:  Unconditional love, acceptance, and enthusiasm!

Mattie at rest
Thanks, Sneed and Mattie! By the way, the Border Collie on the cover of Sneed's latest book is not Mattie. It's another Border Collie named Tarzan! I have never heard of a dog named Tarzan, have you?

To find out more about Sneed Collard, III and all the really neat books he's written and all the cool stuff he does up in Montana, visit his website