Thursday, July 31, 2014

Dog Days of Summer and a Pet Snippet

According to Wikipedia, "the Romans referred to the dog days as diēs caniculārēs and associated the hot weather with the star Sirius. They considered Sirius to be the "Dog Star" because it is the brightest star in the constellation Canis Major (Large Dog). Sirius is also the brightest star in the night sky. The term "Dog Days" was used earlier by the Greeks (see, e.g., Aristotle's Physics, 199a2).
The Dog Days originally were the days when Sirius rose just before or at the same time as the sun (heliacal rising), which is no longer true, owing toprecession of the equinoxes. The Romans sacrificed a red dog in April to appease the rage of Sirius, believing that the star was the cause of the hot, sultry weather.
Dog Days were popularly believed to be an evil time "the Sea boiled, the Wine turned sour, Dogs grew mad, and all other creatures became languid; causing to man, among other diseases, burning fevers, hysterics, and phrensies." according to Brady’s Clavis Calendaria, 1813."
But if you're a dog owner, everyday, despite the weather or calendar, is a dog day.

Remember the 1981 movie On Golden Pond? Here are some of it's accolades:
I was in college, studying literature, when Ernest Thompson won the award for best screenplay. Now, more than 30 years later, I don't really remember the film, except that I liked it, but I do remember Thompson. He shocked the world by using the F word in his acceptance speech at the academy awards. 

We talked about his slip the next day in one of my literature classes. According to my professor, a writer can't ever pretend to be something he/she is not. Their core values and character will shine through their works.

What does this have to do with the dog days of summer? Not much, but I do think it's interesting that I like dogs, I'm a dog owner, and I include pets in almost all of my stories. That's not to say that if I ever win an academy award I'll get on the stage and talk about my dog, but if you like stories and you like dogs, chances are you'll might like my books.

Here are a few canine excerpts from my books. (I also threw in cat just for fun.) If you're a writer, please feel free to share your favorite pet passage, Be sure to include your buy link and a link to your website.

Wyeth’s tail began to beat on the oak floorboards when a child peeked around a chair to look at him.
            “Would you like to pet him?” I asked.
            The golden hair six-year old nodded, but she stayed on the far side of the plastic chair. She sucked on her index finger and watched Wyeth. Her wide, blue eyes stared at him then looked at me. She wanted to step from behind the chair, but Wyeth intimidated her. She wore a red, white and blue sailor dress with a large chocolate milk stain down the front. The child removed her finger. “He’s a really, really big dog,” she said.
            Her mother at the next table looked up from her crossword puzzle book and smiled at me, making me her conspirator in child care.
            I ruffled Wyeth’s ears. “Yes, he is, but he’s very friendly.”
            She looked at us with wide blue eyes. “He’s really ugly. Did you want an ugly dog?”
            That was a very good question. Most puppies, like babies, are cute, even the ugly ones, and then you feed it, clean up after it, train it, fall in love with it, then keep on loving it even after it’s grown ugly. “I guess I do now,” I replied. He always looked and smelled better after a bath and trim, but lately I’d been too preoccupied to groom Wyeth. It’d been weeks since he’d had a bath. I realized I’d make a terrible mother.
            “I have a poodle named Princess,” the little girl told me. “She wears a pink coat.”

A thick marine layer blew in from the beach and reminded Deirdre of her smoky dream. She couldn’t see, but she knew where the oak trees, solid and massive, stood. Her leg hit warm fur. She fell with a bump, her hands smashing onto the grass. A large, wet snout attacked. Coyotes, she thought, curling into a ball. She opened one eye to see a massive snout approaching. A dog, a giant dog, but not a coyote. He placed a hamburger sized patty paw on her back as if to keep her down so he could clean her with his tongue.
            “Leave me alone!” she yelled. The dog snuffled through her hair as she rolled onto her hands and knees. Shaking the creature off, she stood, but the animal rose on his back feet and placed his front paws on her shoulders. She had a vision of Beauty and the Beast dancing in the moonlight. She shook him off.
            “You’re lucky I like monsters, mammoths, or whatever you are.” She reached for his dog tag, trying, unsuccessfully, to avoid his tongue. Grabbing his collar, she rotated his tags. “You’re the first dancing partner I’ve had in months,” she read the tag, “Pricilla.” She eyed the dog. He panted before her, looking like a friendly bear. “Pricilla, really? Why not Thor or Zeus?”
            “Because she’s my partner—not yours.” A deep voice spoke in the fog.

 Blair jumped and landed hard on the grass, her hands breaking her fall. She stood in time to see the kitten tear into the library through the wide open door.
               At least it’s a smart cat, Blair thought as she went after it. She tried to brush the mud and leaves off her skirt, then slipped off her filthy shoes and soaking sweater and left them on the front porch. 
               Standing in the doorway, searching, she called, “Here kitty, kitty.” A tail, gray and rat-like stuck out from under a rack of books. Blair lunged toward the bookcase, and her stocking feet went out from under her.
               Finding herself on the wooden floor, she turned to see the kitten watching her with one blue and one brown eye. Blair placed one hand in front for the cat to plainly see, and snaked her other hand behind the creature. The cat tried to dart away, but Blair grabbed it. 
            Rolling onto her back she held the squirming, skinny kitten in an outstretched hand in the air above her face. She considered the small, gray, rodent-like animal. “I’ll call you either Mouchard or Rat-Fink after my friend, Drake,” she told the cat.


  1. Thanks for offering this opportunity to share a snippet. Here's mine, from book one of the Dream Series, DREAM STUDENT:

    Even though I’ve been away at school for the last two and a half years, Lumpy is still definitely my dog. Mom and Dad gave him to me when I was twelve–he was my big Christmas present that year. It was a huge surprise. I’d always wanted a dog, as far back as I can remember. Right after my brother was born, the day Mom and Dad brought him home from the hospital, I have a very clear memory of asking if we could take him back and exchange him for a puppy, because a puppy would be much more fun to play with. I kept pestering my parents for a while but I’d pretty much given up hope, and then that Christmas morning there was a huge box under the tree. It was shaking and there were yelps coming from inside it. I opened it up and there he was–a beautiful golden retriever puppy.

    He didn’t have a name at first. Dad told me that since he was my dog, it was my responsibility to name him. I couldn’t think of anything right away and obviously naming him was a really important job–who knows how he’d turn out if I gave him a bad name? It took almost a week, and how he finally got the name Lumpy is, he liked sleeping in my bed during the day when I was at school. When I came home, he’d still be there and I thought to myself that with him there the bed looked all lumpy, and there it was, that was the perfect name for him.

    Everyone else thinks it’s an appropriate name because he sits around a lot and doesn’t do all that much and they think he isn’t very smart, but they’re wrong. He’s definitely smart–he understands everything I say to him, and he does whatever I tell him to do and he plays with me all the time when I’m home. I think the reason he doesn’t respond as well to anyone else is that he can tell they don’t love him the way I do.

  2. I loved your pet "snippets." Here's mine from Interiors By Design
    OR for a signed copy,

    “Be careful,” she warned. “That ladder was my grandfather’s. Who knows how old it is.”
    Mick began the ascent, testing his weight on each step, but the closer he got to the cats, the higher the cats climbed.
    “Oh, darn it! They’re scared of you,” she observed. “I’m going to have to do it.”
    “Are you sure that’s a good idea? You said the ladder is pretty old.”
    “Well, if it can hold you, it can hold me. You can stand at the bottom and catch me if it breaks.”
    As Mick climbed back down, she pictured herself falling backwards into his outstretched arms with two balls of fur in her grasp and laughed out loud.
    “I’m glad you find this humorous,” he teased as he helped her step gingerly over to the ladder in the footprints he had made.
    “I was just thinking,” she giggled, her teeth starting to chatter.
    “I see. Well, hold your hilarious thoughts in check while you’re climbing this ancient relic.”
    She climbed carefully up as high as she dared go, but the two frisky felines were just out of reach. It took some coaxing on her part, but finally she managed to “talk them down” into her arms. She held Buffy under one arm while Fiddle rode on her shoulder for the descent to solid ground.
    The cats no longer seemed frightened of him, so Mick lifted Fiddlesticks off her shoulder to make sure both furry creatures made it back into the house with no further outdoor adventures.
    With the opening of the door, they were greeted with the sound of the oven beeping and the smell of burning pizza. Amanda closed the door, dumped Buffy to the floor, and raced to the kitchen. Mick followed carrying Fiddle.
    Still in her winter coat, Amanda grabbed a hot pad, opened the oven door, and snatched their blackened supper out of the smoke. Just then, the smoke alarm went off, its high pitched beeps sending Fiddlesticks flying up over Mick’s shoulder. Startled herself, Amanda jumped, throwing the pizza to the floor, topping side down.
    She rushed to the alarm to unplug it then turned back to see Mick wiping blood off his cheek where Fiddle’s back foot had caught him in her terrified flight. Rushing back to him, she stepped on the pizza and slipped. He stepped forward and made a grab for her then slipped himself, and the two ended up in a heap on the pizza-smeared floor.
    They sat in silence for a moment or two, Amanda sitting on Mick’s legs. Then slowly she rose and surveyed the scene. There was Mick, his cheek scratched and bleeding, his coat smeared with tomato sauce, his face ashen. He looked up at her, and she wondered if he had gone into shock.
    “Well,” began Amanda hesitantly, “you wanted to meet the cats.”
    At this, Mick chuckled.
    Then he laughed.

  3. Forgive me, I did a little snipping in here to make it fit. I just wanted you to meet Penny and Crock, their "father" Ari, and Tate. This is Ari's first date with Tate and he's taking her to lunch. And the italics vanish in the comments. From my third River City novel, A CHALLENGE.

    "I hope you like dogs."
    She glanced over at him and raised her eyebrows. You're joking. "Hot dogs?"
    "No, the ones covered in fur."
    "Why? Do you have a dog?"
    "I have two."
    "Do they bite?"
    He chuckled. "Do you? Just because they have teeth does not mean they'll bite." He made a right turn. "Penny's the oldest and Crock is a year old. Both dogs were abused and rescued. Penny's blind in one eye. I got her about six months ago. She was in terrible shape. Crock was half-starved puppy with a severely broken leg. Now, he only has three legs."
    "Can he walk?"
    "Oh, yeah. He gets around, no problem."

    Tate sat on the sofa. Crock virtually sat on her feet. Penny put her head in Tate's lap.
    "What's a matter, sweet baby? You've had a rough life haven't you? Is Ari spoiling you?"
    Penny looked at her as if to say, "Pet me. I want to be loved."
    "You're silky smooth." Tate sniffed her hand. "And you smell good, too. Does Daddy take good care of you? Did he give you a bath?"
    Penny stared, wagged her tail, and made a whimpering sound.
    "How about you, Crock? Are you a good boy, too?"
    Crock responded with the same tail wag except his tail was quite crooked.
    "You can't fool an animal. They know a good person when they meet one," Ari said with a broad smile.
    Now, he was dressed in a pair of slacks and a short-sleeved shirt. Tate grinned then gazed at the older copper-colored dog.
    "Well, what do you think, Penny? Do you think Daddy looks good, too?" Tate asked.
    Penny turned her head to her owner and then turned back to Tate. She wagged her tail.
    "I think that means she agrees with me."
    "She knows who feeds her," Ari said.

  4. Thank you for letting us post our pet-related excerpts. Mine is from Ravenwolf, my Celtic historical fantasy romance. This book has a white wolf in it that I based on my American Eskimo. She is gone now but lives on in Ravenwolf.

    Excerpt from Ravenwolf:
    I finished dressing and looked up to see a large white wolf barring my path with fangs bared.

    It was the same wolf that saved Bran so I did not understand why it would snarl at me. Backing away, I sensed another presence behind me.

    I whirled around, facing a large black cat, which I knew to be a Cait Sith, a faery cat. "What do you want?" I heard the wolf snarling behind me, but the cat stood its ground.

    The cat changed shape, turning into a tall woman with long black hair and startling green eyes. Dark circular tattoos adorned her smooth hazelnut skin, snaking across her entire body, and a scythe-shaped crescent moon decorated her brow. A shell choker encircled her slender neck. She appeared to stalk me as a cat would by pacing around to test my reaction.

    I stood my ground, unblinking. "What do you want from me?" I repeated my question this time in a commanding voice.

    The woman shot me a sly smile. "My sister the wolf has taken a liking to you, but I cannot imagine why. Her mind is full of holes, I suppose."

    "She seems to remember that she does not like you." I was in no mood for games.

    The woman laughed, her icy exterior shattering for just a moment. "Now I understand why she likes you, but it will not last."

    "And what is that supposed to mean?"

    "Never mind. That is something you must find out for yourself. I am here to tell you that you have two choices." A raven flew onto a branch above the she-wolf's head. "Ah, it is about time you showed up." The woman gave the raven a scathing look. "You can follow the raven to Ambiorix or you can follow the wolf to save your son's life."

  5. Great excerpts. Here's my pet snippet.

    The Garnet Dagger Book 1 Legends of Oblivion Fantasy/ Paranormal Romance:

    I listened from outside the stable.
    “Here’s the saddle. If he’ll even let you close enough to touch him.”
    The horse snorted from their approach. Within moments, her soft voice cooed at the beast.
    “There, we understand each other, aye?” The horse didn’t answer. “Ease the saddle over the side.”
    I adjusted my bow and leaned against the wall to listen. Damned if she’d get out of the barn alive on the beast.
    Moments passed without a sound. I pressed my ear to the barn wall, but only heard scuffling from inside. Then I heard the snap of leather followed by a pounding of hooves. A black animal galloped around the corner with Celeste perched atop his back. First I worried the creature was a waterhorse, one that took humans for a ride and drown them in lakes and ponds.
    “Think you can keep up with us?” she asked patting her mount’s neck.
    Doubt sprang into my thoughts. This beast was at least twenty hands high. Instead of voicing my concern, my pride puffed up. “Lead the way and I shall follow.”
    The beast snorted as though to argue with me.
    “Take this to keep warm.” I removed my cloak and tossed it up to her.
    Celeste gave a nod, taking the cloak, then sped away.
    Damn my loose tongue. Adjusting the pack on my shoulder, I bit my lip. The beast galloped ahead already increasing the distance between us.
    My feet flew across the ground after them. Trees blurred and I pumped my legs faster as if a fire licked upon my trail.
    But the gap from me to them still grew. Soon Celeste and her beast were a black speck.

    Buy Link:

  6. Thank you, Kristy, for the opportunity to post a Pet Snippet! Here's mine:

    LOVE UNLEASHED excerpt
    by Marcia James

    The poor dog resembled a bald Chihuahua with snout-to-tail liver spots on its pink skin. The tuft of white hair on its head contributed to its canine Crypt Keeper appearance. Too bad the shelter's adoption fair hadn’t taken place on Halloween.
    Ron cleared his throat. “Sorry we didn’t find a family for this little guy.”
    Cara sighed. “His name is Charlie, after Charlie Brown, who has just as much hair on his head as this Chinese crested.”
    “Is he a stray?”
    She shook her head. “Just another victim of the economy. His owners lost their house and couldn’t afford their pets anymore.”
    He hated seeing the sadness on Cara’s face. “Maybe if you cured Charlie’s mange...gave him some doggie Rogaine?”
    Cara’s mouth dropped open and she laughed, delight sparkling in her eyes. Ron waited to be let in on the joke.
    Strands of her strawberry-blonde hair had escaped her braid, and she brushed them back from her cheeks. Then Cara shot him a smile that made something squeeze almost painfully in Ron’s chest. “Charlie is a Chinese crested hairless dog. He’s supposed to look like this. Charlie may not win any beauty contests, but he’s got the title of Mr. Personality locked in.”
    Ron held out his hand, which the dog sniffed and then licked. He slid his fingers down Charlie’s back, amazed at the softness of the animal’s skin. It was a shame no one had wanted this gentle creature. “Since he didn’t get adopted, what will happen to him?”
    “There're rescue groups dedicated to different dog breeds, including cresties. I’ll call on Monday, to see if they can place him.”
    Ron smiled. Thanks to Charlie, he had a way to spend more time with Cara. “I could foster him, if you help me get him settled.”

    This R-rated contemporary romance e-book is available in online bookstores, including Amazon (

    For another Love Unleashed excerpt, please visit Marcia James' website (