Last Week of the Year! Hope You Had a Merry Christmas. #Poetry #Dogs

Merry Christmas from Harold, Holly, and Hermann! Here’s a little poem. I don’t know how to describe it, but maybe rhyming free verse? For my next few posts after this one, I’ll sharing books our readers have nominated as their favorites of the year.

After Christmas

The presents have been given
The food is put away
Time to sit back and celebrate the day

The week to come
Will end the year for all
A season over, a new year calls

Our hearts are open
And God will hear
Our precious prayers for the coming year


Thanks so much everyone, for reading my blog, and for your friendship and support. This year has been a blast.



Blog Tour & Interview: Songbird #AuthorInterview #GermanShepherds #HistoricalFiction

To celebrate the blog tour for Gail Meath’s Songbird, we sat down and talked about the book, the series to come, and the editing process, because I was fortunate enough to get to edit this book. And of course, we discuss Ace, the star German Shepherd. See our interview below.

BOOK DESCRIPTION

Meet Jax Diamond, a sharp, sophisticated, skilled, no-nonsense private detective.  Or is he?  Glued to his side is his canine partner, Ace, a fierce and unrelenting German Shepherd whose mere presence terrorizes criminals into submission.  Well, maybe not.

But the two of them are a whole lot smarter than they look.  And they have their hands full when a playwright’s death is declared natural causes, and his new manuscript worth a million bucks is missing.

Laura Graystone, a beautiful rising Broadway star, is dragged into the heart of their investigation, and she’s none too happy about it.  Especially when danger first strikes, and she needs to rely on her own ingenuity to save their hides.

Join Jax, Laura and Ace on a fun yet deadly ride during the Roaring Twenties that takes twists and turns, and a race against time to find the real murderer before he/she/they stop them permanently.

INTERVIEW WITH GAIL MEATH

Gail Meath

What is unique about this stop on the book tour is that you and I know each other.  We became friends online, and then you gave me the opportunity to edit Songbird.  I thought the readers might want to know a little bit about what that was like.    

I had done reviews of your books, and we became friends.  I had nonfiction editing experience, but was looking for some experience editing fiction. I asked you if I could do some editing for you in order to get that experience, and you agreed. I had the privilege of editing Songbird.  It has been so enjoyable.   You definitely make the process easier because the copy you give me is very clean and I’m able to do more content editing.  You send me little research gems as well, which is very fun.  I truly enjoy working with you.   

Tell me how you feel about the editing process so far?

A good editor is worth their weight in gold to an author, and you have been a blessing to me, Bonnie.  Since we became friends first, working with you is so comfortable and fun!  From finding missed words to run-on or unclear sentences to overall content and help with research, especially, you make sure the manuscript isn’t just clean, it’s polished.  It never occurred to me that hamburgers weren’t a household staple in 1920s!   

Tell us about this series, the Jax Diamond series, and where you see it going?

Well, the first book, Songbird, was released this November.  It is set in 1923 in New York City on Broadway.  Jax Diamond is a private investigator and Ace is his German Shepherd sidekick.  The other main character,  Laura, is a Broadway actress and singer.   I am working on the second book, Framed, right now, and it is also set in New York City.  I have an idea for a third book that will take the characters to a small town temporarily.  There is also a prequel in the works that I will release at some point.  It is about how Jax and Ace met.

In the first book, we are of course introduced to Jax, Laura, and Ace.  You have told me that Ace was inspired by your own dog, who has since passed away.  Tell me about her.

Her name was Gretchen and she was the most amazing German Shepherd.  She actually belonged to someone else, and when I met her, we just hit it off right away.  She began to follow me as I was leaving and I just decided to buy her from her previous owners.  They were well paid, and I was rewarded even more by having this amazing friend in my life. She is truly missed.

Ace, though inspired by Gretchen, is a male shepherd.   Why did you make him a male instead of a female like Gretchen?

 I had already decided on the name Jax Diamond for the lead character in the book, and I wanted his dog to follow the playing card theme and be named Ace.  Ace sounded more like a male name to me at the time, so Ace is a boy.  But Gretchen is definitely the inspiration, and Ace has many of Gretchen’s unique traits. 

Tell me about the writing process.  You were sending me chapters to edit very quickly.  I couldn’t believe how fast Songbird was coming out.  From my perspective, you had it written in  no time.  Is this faster than normal for you?

Songbird is my first cozy mystery, and while it definitely needed research, I did not have to do as much as I have for my more in-depth historical fiction, such as Agustina De Aragon and Countess Jacqueline.  That did make the process go faster.

Your books are so well researched.  Is research your favorite part of the process?

Yes.  I love learning about different people, places, and events in history that I never knew about before.  That’s why I love writing about lesser-known heroines such as the heroine in Agustina de Aragon.

Longer version: I nearly failed history in high school, and I was a good student!  I started researching on my own and found history so fascinating! I determined it was the way the teacher taught it that didn’t hold my interest.  I’ve been researching ever since, just on my own.

Do you know how many books you want to write in the Jax Diamond series? 

I am not sure right now.  As I mentioned, in addition to Songbird, I have three more planned out, including the prequel novella, and the we’ll see what happens.

Do you know when the second book in the series, Framed, will be published?

I have the book release date as April 1 (April Fool’s Day), but I will probably release it sooner, in March of 2022.

Thanks so much, Gail, for taking the time out for this interview. 

FOLLOW GAIL ON SOCIAL MEDIA

Facebook

Instagram

Twitter

Website

LINKS TO BUY SONGBIRD

AMAZON US

AMAZON UK

LINKS TO ALL OF GAIL’S BOOKS

AMAZON US

AMAZON UK

Self-Published Saturday/Repost of Songbird

I know it’s not Saturday, but I’m going to be gone all day watching grandkids on Saturday, so the SP Saturday posts are going up early. This is a repost of my Review for Songbird.

Self-Published Saturday (SPS) is my effort to help self-published and indie authors with the heavy task of marketing their books. Self-published authors have to do it all, from cover design to marketing and more. This is my effort to take a bit of that load and help promote their books on a Saturday. Please share these books on your social media, so all of your followers can see these great books as well. Today’s first review is of Songbird, a wonderful cozy historical mystery by Gail Meath set in New York City, 1923.

Following the review is a short Q&A with the author, Gail Meath.

FULL DISCLOSURE

I am the editor of this particular book. I wanted to make sure you had full knowledge of that before you read my review. My review is honest and my opinions are my own. This was my first editing adventure, and I want to thank Gail Meath for allowing me the opportunity. I am planning to start freelance editing next year and am doing a few editing jobs right now free of charge in order to gain experience. So let me know if need any help!

BOOK DESCRIPTION

Normally I come up with a paragraph describing the book on my own. But Gail Meath’s description is so good I couldn’t possibly come up with anything better, and it’s so clever I wanted to share it with you. So here is the book description written by Gail Meath.

**********************************************************************

Meet Jax Diamond, a sharp, sophisticated, skilled, no-nonsense private detective. Or is he? Glued to his side is his canine partner, Ace, a fierce and unrelenting German Shepherd whose mere presence terrorizes criminals into submission. Well, maybe not.

But the two of them are a whole lot smarter than they look. And they have their hands full when a playwright’s death is declared natural causes, and his new manuscript worth a million bucks is missing.

Laura Graystone, a beautiful rising Broadway star, is dragged into the heart of their investigation, and she’s none too happy about it. Especially when danger first strikes, and she needs to rely on her own ingenuity to save their hides.

Join Jax, Laura and Ace on a fun yet deadly ride during the Roaring Twenties that takes twists and turns, and a race against time to find the real murderer before he/she/they stop them permanently.

BOOK REVIEW

This is a fantasically fun cozy mystery set in 1923 New York. The characters don’t just jump off the page, they pull you into their world. Jax’s sidekick, Ace, the wonderfully charming German Shepherd, will make his way into your heart in no time. The setting in 1923 New York City is well described and transports us back to that place and time. The portrayal of Coney Island makes you feel as if you are there, hanging on for dear life in the Steeplechase or winning a prize in the baseball toss. The mystery is so well done, with puzzles and red herrings that will keep you guessing. The main characters are complex and interesting. Jax, private investigator and former cop, has his own secrets to keep, and Laura’s talents are revealed to expand way beyond singing.

There is a sweet romance, but the complex and fascinating mystery is the star of the show, along with the lovable Ace. I highly recommend this book, the first in the Jax Diamond Mysteries series, to all mystery fans and to anyone who loves reading about our canine friends.

I received a free copy of this book from the author. My review is voluntary and my opinions are my own.

Songbird will be released November 11, 2021.

Q&A WITH GAIL MEATH

Songbird is a fun cozy mystery, and a little more lighthearted than your complex and wonderful previous historical novels, such as Agustina De Aragon and Countess Jacqueline.  Where did you get the inspiration for Songbird

 A while back, I found and fell in love with the cover, and I knew that I had to write a book around it.  Over the summer, I had so much fun researching the Roaring Twenties era; the story just became a reflection of how I envisioned life on Broadway back then.  And it was a nice break from writing about the struggles of war.   

The series is set in 1923 in New York City.  Did you face any challenges in setting a mystery during this time and place?  

Choosing New York City made research easier than other places since it is one of the largest cities.  And I found tons of information regarding historical restaurants, speakeasies, theaters, etc.  There was so much more I wanted to include in the book, but I didn’t want to distract from the story.

Your description of Coney Island is fascinating and the rides sound like deadly fun.  Seriously, I’m not sure how anyone survived some of these rides.  Was there a lot of research material available for 1923 Coney Island?  

Like the rest the city, there was a great deal of research, but none of the articles tells you more about the Coney Island Amusement Park than the video I found.  It is a hoot!  Note from Bonnie: Please check out the link here of old 1920s Coney Island rides. You won’t want to miss it, and you will also be wondering how anyone survived! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Wz5vZmU8Dc&t=47s

One of your main characters is a German Shepherd, and he is delightful!  Was it challenging to make an animal a major part of the story, and do you have any dogs yourself?  

I am an avid animal lover and have a little Boston Terrier now.  Years ago, as soon as I married and moved to the country, I adopted Gretchen, the most beautiful, loyal and loving friend I’ve ever had.  She even saved my son’s life once.   She is still sorely missed, so it was very easy and fun finding a place for her as Ace in this book.

Was Gretchen a German Shepherd?

Yes, Gretchen was a shepherd, and she looked just like the pic I have of Ace under the covers in the book.

It appears there will be a sequel to Songbird.  Can you confirm that? 

 BLACKSTONE, Jax Diamond Mysteries – Book 2, should be ready in March and takes place in New England, but I’m not done with BROADWAY yet (Book 3)

Thank you Gail, for another great interview and for answering my questions today on short notice!

PRE-ORDER SONGBIRD

Amazon US

Amazon UK

COVER RATING

I love this cover. You instantly know you are in the 1920’s, and Ace and Jax are represented by the cards in the left corner. Very well done. The cover was done before the book, which is unusual, but as Gail stated above, it served as inspiration for the story.

*If you buy the book(s), please leave reviews on Amazon and Goodreads, as well as anywhere else you review books.  Some people feel very daunted by writing a review. Don’t worry. You do not have to write a masterpiece. Just a couple of lines about how the book made you feel will make the author’s day and help the book succeed. The more reviews a book has, the more Amazon will promote it.

*Please click on the “share” buttons below and share these books with your Twitter, Facebook, and WordPress followers. A little bit of help from all of us will help self-published authors go a long way!

Self-Published Saturday: Joyful Trouble

Self-Published Saturday is my effort to help self-published/indie authors promote their books. Self-published authors have to do it all, from editing to cover design to marketing. If I can help promote their books in even a small way, I am happy to assist! Below I have provided a review, author bio, and links to buy of Joyful Trouble, which is a children’s book based on the true story of the only dog enlisted in the Royal Navy during World War II.

BOOK REVIEW

Joyful Trouble is a delightful children’s book based on the story of Trouble, a Great Dane enlisted in the Royal Navy. When Ana and Tommy go with their grandfather to a parade celebrating Joyful Trouble, they want to know his story. Throughout the following chapters, Grandad tells them stories of Trouble, the dog he knew in the Navy.

I really enjoyed this book, not just the story of Joyful Trouble, but the lessons built into this book about dogs. As Grandad was telling Trouble’s story, he was also teaching the kids valuable information about our canine friends. In this book, kids learn how to approach a dog, and they learn about the incredible senses of smell and hearing that dogs possess. They are also told about the many jobs dogs occupied in World War II, and lots of other facts and information about our incredible companion, the dog. This is a really wonderful, educational story. We learn about the special bonds between dogs and humans, and we see that bond between Joyful Trouble and Grandad. The author has a wonderful gift for telling interesting stories that also teach.

Children will love this book, but it is longer (225 pages) and I feel it is set up for parents to read to them, possibly a chapter or two at bedtime. I highly recommend this to parents, children, and dog lovers.

I downloaded a copy of this book on Kindle Unlimited, where subscribers can read it for free.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Patricia Furstenberg

(In Her Own Words) 

I have always been drawn to discovering more about the people and the dogs who featured in historical and contemporary events. Why they chose to fight that war; what was it that they sacrificed, silently. What was the lay of the land that they walked upon, the color of the sky or the scent carried by the wind… It is such stories that I find they still resonate today. Discovering these secrets, writing these books, thrills me. Thus, my passion for historical and contemporary fiction books and historical events was born.

As an armchair historian, I love researching such tales, traveling (researching my next book we visited medieval Sighisoara), exploring hidden corners, and unearthing new facts, forgotten characters, or hidden clues. I love to give them a voice and to bring them into the light in my tales. Be it people, animals, or the land and its architecture, no details are too small, no voice is too soft. What was once overlooked now brings history alive in my historical or contemporary fiction books and short stories, such as the 100 Words Stories based on the history of Romania.

Facts belong in the history books, but the passion, the thrill, and the fantasy, these are the realm of the novels. Welcome to my writing world.

BUY LINKS

Amazon US

Amazon UK

*Kindle Unlimited subscribers can read this book for free.

*If you buy the book(s), please leave reviews on Amazon and Goodreads, as well as anywhere else you review books.  Some people feel very daunted by writing a review. Don’t worry. You do not have to write a masterpiece. Just a couple of lines about how the book made you feel will make the author’s day and help the book succeed. The more reviews a book has, the more Amazon will promote it.

*Please click on the “share” buttons below and share these books with your Twitter, Facebook, and WordPress followers. A little bit of help from all of us will help self-published authors go a long way!

Sick Days and Smiles

Harold (top) and Hermann (lower level)

Harold loves his brother Hermann and likes to be as close to him as possible. Here’s a double decker of dachshunds. Next to them on the couch and out of the picture is me, recuperating from some kind of nasty bug I picked up over the weekend. I’m definitely not ready for the camera. I have been sick for five days, but my husband and the pups are keeping me company. The doctors don’t know what I have, but I have a list of symptoms as long as my arm. They tested me for Covid even though I had the vaccine. They also tested for flu and strep. All negative. So they sent me home with some antibiotics, some steroids, and a shrug. I’ll probably never know what it is, but it’s the second sickest I’ve ever been. I was too sick to read for a couple of days. Now I have even more reading to catch up on. But at least I have some friendly and furry company.

Harold (the puppy)

Harold, our adorable wire-hair dachshund puppy, has recently turned one, which I guess makes him no longer a puppy. However, he’ll always be our puppy. I attempted a Tanka about him below. A Tanka is 31 syllables. The first line is 5, second line 7, third line 5, and the last two are 7.

Harold, our beloved puppy, just turned One.

HAROLD

He is one year old
Cute black and white ball of fur
Giant dark brown eyes
Melts your heart in an instant
With unconditional love.

I’ve told this story before, but the story of our puppy Harold is amazing to us. My husband had always wanted a wire-haired dachshund since we saw them on the Westminster Dog Show. They are hard to find and can be expensive. My Dad, Harold, died in 2019. He loved dogs and owned a couple of dachshunds in his day. So when we saw a wire-hair dachshund puppy advertised online, and saw that the breeder had named him Harold, it felt meant to be. However, a big expense came up unexpectedly and we weren’t able to afford him. Dachshunds are popular dogs and he is a piebald wire-hair as well, so we thought he’d be snapped up immediately before we could get him. Two months later, I happened to notice online that Harold was still available. We had the funds, so we texted the breeder, and after a trip to South Carolina, we had our Harold. It is amazing to me because ever since then I’ve watched this breeder’s page and the dogs are all gone immediately, sometimes even before birth. I really feel like Dad saved him for us, and he has been a joy.


This is Harold operating at his normal speed, while his brother Hermann watches him go.

Puppies and Memories

Above is our happy dachshund trio, Harold, Holly, and Hermann. Holly was adopted from a breeder and is a former breeding Mom. We got her when she was four and she is now 7. We got Hermann from the same breeder as a puppy. We were told he wouldn’t exceed 12 pounds. He’s 20 pounds (and he’s not fat!). But he’s 20 pounds of love and energy and we adore him. He just turned 3 years old.

The story of how we got Harold is amazing to us. We weren’t planning to get another dog. We had our two dachshunds and weren’t planning to adopt anymore. However, my husband had always wanted a wire-haired dachshund, which seem to be hard to find. Around January of 2020, we saw a dachshund breeder who had some wire hair puppies who had just been born. They had named one little boy Harold. I was immediately drawn to him because we had always wanted a wire-hair and my late Dad’s name was Harold! My Dad had passed away in March of 2019. It seemed meant to be, but we had a big expense come up and didn’t think we could afford him. We were sure that he would be adopted quickly and we were sad we could not get him.

Fast forward to early March. I happened to see a post from the breeder and Harold was still available! It seemed to us that Dad was saying, “Here, I saved him for you.” We had the funds available this time. A few texts later, and Harold was ours. Cute, cuddly, and smart as can be, to us he is our little gift from my Dad.

Harold

My husband runs an Instagram, Pupdate with Harold. There are always some cute pics of all three dogs.

The Twelve Dogs of Christmas

Ally has come to Pine Hollow to temporarily help her grandparents run the town dog shelter after her grandmother is injured. Ben is struggling to handle single-parenthood after his sister and her husband died two years ago, and he became guardian of his niece, Astrid. Their worlds collide when Ben casts the tie-breaking vote in the decision to cut funding for the dog shelter. Anger turns to friendship, as they join forces during the Christmas season to try and find funding for the shelter and adopt out the 12 dogs who need homes. But is there something more?

This is such a cute romance, which immediately transports the reader into the Christmas season. That is my top rule for Christmas novels. The reader must feel as if they are surrounded by Christmas, whatever time of year it might be. Besides Ben, Ally, and Astrid, there are many colorful characters living in this close-knit town. This includes the dogs, who were very much a part of this story, and whose individual personalities are so well described. This is a story about recovering from loss and heartbreak and having the courage to take a second chance. The dogs reinforce the idea of second chances as well, because they are in the shelter waiting for new families to adopt them. I would recommend this for dog lovers, fans of Christmas romance novels, or anyone who appreciates second chances.

I received a free copy of this book from the publishers via Netgalley. My review is voluntary.

Buy the Book on Amazon

Lizzie Shane’s Website

Link to My Goodreads Review

And as this is dog-themed, I couldn’t resist including a picture of our wire-haired dachshund, Harold, who will be turning 1 in January. He wishes everyone a Merry Christmas! I’ll get a Christmas picture of all three of our dachshunds up later.

EDIT: Here’s all three of our dachshunds: Holly is the red and white piebald, Harold is the black and white wire-hair, and Hermann is the chocolate and cream young man who was supposed to be a miniature dachshund, but ended up weighing 20 pounds!

MERRY CHRISTMAS

Left to right, Harold, Holly, and Hermann