Monday, September 30, 2013

When Characters Go to the Dogs


Some things were quite a bit different in the original version of RESCUED BY A STRANGER. In fact, a couple of characters got their parts downsized substantially if not cut completely.  For example, if you’ve read THE RANCHER AND THE ROCK STAR, you know The Sisters Gladdie and Claudia basically saved the day for Gray toward the end of the book. They are definitely back in RESCUED, but one scene in which Claudia played a major role got cut because it just didn’t move the story forward.

Another character whose role is so important to Jill’s life in RBAS is Dr. Ben Thomlinson, Jill’s boss at the vet clinic where she’s an assistant. Ben showed up in a dozen scenes originally. Now he’s in two or three.

But one character whose “screen time” got cut almost completely—Chase’s grandfather, Delaney Preston, or Poppa, as Chase calls him—still needed a presence of some kind in the story.  Poppa is Chase’s conscience throughout the story. It’s he who all but raised Chase, and it’s Poppa who Chase worries about pleasing. And Poppa does make it onto the page for one scene. But, because his presence is still so important, I gave a lot of his face time to a delightful new character. Who just happens to be a dog!
In the original story, called “Angelwings,” Poppa’s favorite phrase whenever he said ‘good-bye’ was, “Go with angelwings.” Angels and references to angels were prevalent, too, but I removed all those little bits. Still, I wanted to keep a sense of Poppa and his angels watching over Chase. The little black-and-white dog that Jill nearly hits on page one and finds again several chapters later fit the bill exactly. From the moment I met her, I knew this dog was important to the story. And when Jill named her Angel, I knew there was something a little extraordinary about her.

For the most part, Angel acts like a pretty normal dog. But there are moments when she just plain seems too canny. She fusses and barks at the right time. She gets in someone’s way just at the perfect moment. She gives comfort exactly when its needed the most. Is there something just a little “angelic” about her? Or is she just a sensitive dog attuned to her new humans?  I’ll leave that up to you the readers. But maybe it’s a hint that you might find Delaney/Poppa’s reaction to Angel when the two finally meet, a little bit interesting.

I love a little touch of that spiritual in my stories—the sense that even in everyday, slightly off-kilter lives, there’s something greater than we are helping us when we make a decision—right or wrong. You have to search for it in Angel—but maybe it’s there. At any rate, I sure hope you enjoy looking! And, I really hope if you read RESCUED BY A STRANGER, you’ll let me know how you like the story!

Exclusive GLIAS excerpt:
Cast of characters:
Chase: Our Hero
Jill: Our Heroine
Dee: Jill's sister
The Creature: Jill's Chevy Suburban

     The dog weighed fifty pounds tops, but with her shoulder still painful Jill couldn’t quite get herself and the dog into her truck alone. She offered to drive, but Chase insisted the job of holding the mutt fell to her and hoisted the little stray onto Jill’s lap. Once they were all safe in the truck, it became immediately clear the dog had been somewhere other than civilization for a long time.
     “Whoo-eee. She stinks enough to kick a rat off a gut pile.”
     “Eeew, that’s disgusting.” Jill’s laughter shook the dog, and the odor of dank hair wafted through The Creature’s interior.
     “We aren’t gonna hide the fact we had a critter in that room if the dog smells like this all night.”
     “And all the guest house has is a shower. Not too good for bathing a dog.”
     “Let me know when you’ve got a plan, Miss Greenpeace. You’re head of rescue operations. I’m just the driver, and I like it that way.”
     “Gosh, thanks a ton.”
No interior lights shone when they pulled into driveway close to 10:30 p.m. The Creature’s windows were fully down and the dog sat on Jill’s lap with her head hanging ecstatically out in the wind.
     “Did we put ’em all to bed?” Chase asked.
     “Doubt we’ll be that lucky,” she replied. “Mother reads before turning out the light. Dee could be anywhere.”
     “We could give the dog a shower in my room.”
     “We could, I’ve done dog showers before. Got a bathing suit with you?”
     “Why would I need one? It’s your dog. You’ve saved it twice now.” His lip lifted in the now-familiar curled-lip smirk, and it made her laugh. She was back in high school again, sneaking in after curfew, and suddenly having the most fun she’d had in months.
“If I’m in charge then she gets a proper bath. All you have to do is help me sneak her into the bathroom upstairs. Got any experience as a cat burglar?”
     “I stole my share of apples when I was a kid, but I’ve never broken something into a house before.”
     “Heck, I’ve been sneaking animals into the house all my life. Mostly bugs and baby rabbits and stuff.”
     “Then why are we worried?”
     “I didn’t say I was usually successful.”
      One light over the sink softly illuminated the kitchen when Chase carried the pungent dog into the house. With her finger against her lips, she ushered Chase up the stairs and peered down darkened halls for a clear coast.
     “C’mon,” she whispered. The dog gave a tiny whine and Jill wrapped her fingers gently around her muzzle. “Shhh, baby. Don’t get yourself tossed out now. Here.” She held the bathroom door open. “Stick her in the tub, and I’ll get some towels.”
     The only towels she’d get away with using were from her mother’s rag pile, and the two she selected would have been decent in almost any other home. A line of light shone from beneath Elaina’s bedroom door, but she was as far from the bathroom as any room on the floor. Dee’s light right next door was more worrisome.
     “Everyone’s still awake.” She knelt with Chase beside the tub. “This has to be the quietest dog bath we’ve ever given.”
     “Not a problem.” His whisper came close enough to touch her cheek. “Since it’ll be the first dog bath for me. If the farm dogs needed cleaning, we threw ’em in the creek.”
     “You did not.” She muffled her laughter in one arm.
     “Might turn a hose on ’em if they refused to swim.”
      She slapped at Chase, wincing when the turning motion tweaked her shoulder. “Stop it.”
     “You oughta be the one taking a hot bath.”
     “Is that your official prescription, Doc?” She eyed him in exasperation.
      The grin fled his face, and his arm froze on the faucet knob. “Just making sure,” he said quickly, and the moment passed before she could wonder about it out loud.


Come Visit Tomorrow

Tomorrow is RESCUED BY A STRANGER’s actual birthday, and release day here at GLIAS will be super exciting because I'm going to introduce you all to one of the stars of the book. It’s not unusual to have a hero stop by—and Chase might do that. But officially I’ll be hosting Jill Carpenter, the heroine of my story.

Jill is an amazing person—innately kind and good, strong and smart, and so multi-talented. Her journey over the course of this novel takes her through lots of emotions, and the decisions she must make will affect her entire life. I can’t wait for her to tell you about some of those .

So please come back tomorrow for RESCUED BY A STRANGER’s book birthday and our last day of celebrating here on GLIAS.  The two winners of an e-book from last week are listed just below. Remember, there will be another winner today and one tomorrow, and there’ll be a grand prize drawing for a RBAS goodie basket after midnight on Tuesday. 
THURSDAY: Marcy Shuler
I will contact you and make arrangements to get you the book as soon as it’s released.


  1. I've never had a pet so I don't really have any funny stories about them. The closest one is probably my aunts dog, he used to go crazy over the doorbell. Haven't not had a pet myself, I used to find it hilarious the way he'd freak out at the sound! But I do love stories that have pets - they all have such great personalities of their own and usually become my favorite characters!!


    1. Hi Anita,
      That's an awesome story and actually typical. Dogs are such strange creatures---the things that set them off, or that they find to do that are completely wacko! I guess that's why we love them--they keep us laughing (most of the time!) Thanks for stopping by again. It's so great to have you following along!

  2. Birds eating the fruit off the trees in the yard

    bn100candg at hotmail dot com

    1. LOL - silly birds! Thanks for stopping, BN!

  3. Great post! Deleting scenes is the worst, yet we come to realize by doing so does make the story stronger. I grew up with lap yippers - dogs that is. Unfortunately I don't remember any great stories to share. They were all great dogs to have in my life. The neighbors dog was another thing. If you made the sound of a siren, police, ambulance or other, she would howl. Funniest thing ever. As for the spiritual side in the story, I love it. Cannot wait to read this story!

    1. Thanks, Jody! I LOVE that your neighbor dog would howl even if the sound was human-made! Awesome. Thanks for all your support. Good luck with your blog tour for "RESCUE ME" too!

  4. Ahh so excited I won, thank you!! :)

    I've never had any pets due to allergies (sadness) but I love watching silly pet videos on youtube.

    1. I'm so glad you won, Ada! Can't wait to send out the book. And those funny videos are the best. Stupid pet tricks on David Letterman make me laugh too! Thanks for stopping by again!

  5. Liz, I'm so excited for people to read this book and fall in love with the characters, including Angel the Dog. Sadly, my husband has allergies, so no pets for us. But my cat Otis was my best friend for many years. He died just before I moved to Alaska, and I really think that he just didn't want that sort of upheaval at his age (he was 16, quite old for a cat) and chose to watch my journey from a better place. Pets can be magical, I do agree with you. Congratulations on another wonderful book!

    1. Thank you so much my dear friend. I never knew you had a cat named Otis-what a perfect name for a best friend pet! You definitely have an angel cat watching down on you, I'm sure! Thanks for the sweet wishes. And I wish YOU good luck with "How to Tame a Wild Fireman" my Avon sister! XOXO

  6. Angel sounds great, and I'm glad the sisters are back! Looking forward to reading this!

    1. Oh, thank you Lynn. You are so supportive--I miss that connection in person! Thank you so much for always being there! Holding my excitement in waiting for your book too! Very soon! Hugs!

  7. Sounds like a great book!

    Hmmm... well... I had a dog when I was little. She was so loyal.... I remember sitting in the backyard and eating French fries with her.

    1. Hi May!
      What a great story--I think McDonald's or somebody should make a commercial out of that scene! Thanks for sharing a little snippet about your pet!

  8. One of our cats likes to go to bed around 10 pm but if my husband and I are still up he will start meowing at us because he sleeps in our bed.
    mce1011 AT aol DOT com

  9. LOL, Maureen, that's a perfect story. We don't have cats, but we cat-sit for our son once in a while and that's how his cat works--he tries hard to boss us around! Thanks so much for sharing!

  10. I have so many cute pet stories. But I'm going to take a short cut and post a link to my favorite howl:

    Missin' my little Dallas.