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Tuesday, May 18, 2010

A tote bag and dogs- Kandy Shepherd


People ask me why I wrote dogs as central characters in both my first book for Berkley Sensation LOVE IS A FOUR-LEGGED WORD (available now) and my second, HOME IS WHERE THE BARK IS (on sale July 6). The answer is simple, animals are such an important part of my life that they sneak into everything I write. I like reading stories with animals in them and so, it seems, do my readers.

In LOVE IS A FOUR-LEGGED WORD, Brutus the millionaire mutt is a very greedy, naughty little dog who inherits a lot of money. He is as important a character as the hero and heroine, feisty chef Maddy and lawyer Tom O’Brien who are thrown together because of Brutus. In HOME IS WHERE THE BARK IS, the “cover” dogs Mack, a sad-eyed black mutt, and Bessie, a purse-sized Yorki-poo, play an important role in bringing together gorgeous dog nut Serena Oakley and hunky PI Nick Whalen. (Serena is Maddy’s best friend in the first book.) As Serena runs a doggy daycare, there are lots more dogs, too, quite the chorus of them in fact! (Serena has a cat, too...)

My doggy characters don’t talk. We don’t see inside their minds. They’re animals. Not people. But like the real animals I love, my fictional four-legged characters have distinct personalities with their own quirks and loveable qualities.

I had to be careful writing both LOVE IS A FOUR-LEGGED WORD and HOME IS WHERE THE BARK IS, that the doggy characters didn’t overwhelm the developing romance between hero and heroine. The animal characters are the delightful extras. That said, the reactions of the humans to the animals—and vice versa—can give great insight into the human’s personality—I have a lot of fun writing those scenes! I couldn't fall in love with a man who wasn't kind to animals and I don't expect my heroines to, either...

How do I research my canine characters? My best research is a lifelong love of animals. I’ve had dogs and cats in my life since I was a small child. There was a parrot, rabbits and even a white mouse (not the best choice of pet to cohabit with cats…) My daughter has horses and I’ve learned to love them too. Then there are our two miniature Dexter bulls, Squirt and Thimble, who are nothing short of adorable! Thinking of animals as characters who have their own stories is second nature to me. On this page, I’m sharing with you some of the wonderful animals who share my life: Miss Molly (dog), Cindy (cat) and Banjo (pony).

In honor of my guest visit to Tote Bags ‘n‘ Blogs, I’m giving away a smart HOME IS WHERE THE BARK IS tote bag with a signed copy of LOVE IS A FOUR-LEGGED WORD inside. Leave a comment here about an animal who is special in your life and I’ll pick a winner.

http://www.kandyshepherd.com

53 comments:

host said...

Hi! Interesting post :)
I love animals. I had a Shih-Tzu from 1993 until 2008 when he died. He was my real friend who was with me through years of two of us hiding in the basement alone during the war and years of peaceful sleep after the war. I miss him very much.

Kandy Shepherd said...

Hi Host, it sounds as though your beautiful Shih-Tzu was loyal and loving and lived to a good age with you. If you went through such tough times with him you must have developed a very special bond.
Thank you for sharing your story.

Laney4 said...

Had two dogs while growing up. Husband had several. Got married. Husband became allergic to cat and dog fur (amongst many other things). Only had stuffed animals for the kids.

Fast-forward to when kids are about 20 years old. Neighbour was "dogsitting" for her parents. Kids and I loved their dog, Austin, a golden retriever. We walked Austin everywhere. We brought him to our backyard. We had him jump up on our couch in our garage.

At this time, my husband was using a new allergy spray that was apparently quite effective. We decided to "test" his dog fur allergy. We brought Austin in our house to romp around when my husband wasn't home. There was no reaction when my husband came home, so the next time we brought Austin in to greet my husband. Again, there was no reaction. We realized it wasn't the dog fur (as there's tons of fur everywhere); it must be his dander instead.

Ever since then, we dogsit Austin as much as possible. He now stays overnight too. Yeah, we find dog fur in obscure places weeks/months later, but that's life. He's soooo worth it. As a matter of fact, our neighbour told us that Austin is expected for the month of June and she has plans to go camping for most of June, so it looks like we'll have Austin living here quite a bit. We can hardly wait!

By the way, my husband's brother has a "hypoallergenic" dog that does not shed. My husband still has allergic reactions to that dog whenever he comes near it. Go figure....

Virginia C said...

Hi, Kandy! Thank you for a wonderful post and contest. I had a little mixed mini-dachshund named "Max", who lived to be almost 20 years old. He was the light of my life. He never thought small--he thought he was a Rottweiler! As a matter of fact, one of his many, many nicknames was "Baby Rottweiler" : ) He had a "radar ear" which seemed to rotate in many directions. He communicated his feelings with that ear! He was a "go" dog. I have an old Chevy Blazer, and I kept the back seat folded down and built up a platform bed so that Max could reach the window and hang his head out, "ears to the wind". Mom and I had five dogs at one time, and they were all rescue and abuse cases. We took those dogs almost everywhere we went. We logged a lot of miles together. I live in the beautiful mountains of Central Southwest Virginia, close to the West Virginia border. Mom and I always had limited funds, so we had a 60 mile driving radius, but there was always something of interest. Those were golden days!

Kirsten said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
CrystalGB said...

I have two Bengal cats named Max and Harley who are my fur babies. They are so entertaining and loving.

Kandy Shepherd said...

Hi Laney 4, I love your story about Austin and the allergies (great name for a dog, BTW!). I'm so glad you and your husband are able to have a dog in your life-even if only when dogsitting-and your neighbor must be delighted that Austin has found such good friends.
I was allergic to cats for years-and I adore them. I seem to get used to my own, however. Then last time I went for allergy testing the doctor said I no longer tested allergic to cat and dog fur-just the dreaded dust mite!
Enjoy the month of June, you won't want to let Austin go home!

Kandy Shepherd said...

Hi Virginia C, little Max sounds adorable-love your description of his "radar ear". Twenty years was a wonderfully long time to have him in your life, you must have been devastated when you lost him.
My beautiful Albert cat is nearly 19 and I am cherishing every minute with him.
I love your story of your road trips with your mom and your dogs. My mother was an animal lover, too. She used to foster cats and dogs while they were waiting for forever homes and it was sooo hard to say goodbye to them!

Kandy Shepherd said...

Hi Kirsten, I smiled at your description of your "shrink" cat, he sounds so special. Seems like he really picked up on your feelings, no wonder you miss him.
You know what they say about cats-when you are ready, one will find you...

Kandy Shepherd said...

Hi Crystal GB,
OMG, you have two Bengal cats? They are SO beautiful! And sounds like they have beautiful natures to match their good looks...

CC Coburn said...

"miniature bulls who are nothing 'short" of adorable" (snort!) Sorry, Kandy am suffering from sleep deprivation! but that slip made me laugh. As you know I love animals and I agree it's difficult sometimes to keep the four-legged character in the background of your stories. Look at that naughty Louella the pig in Colorado Christmas! She was so populr I've had requests to bring her back.
Is Albert your cat who does tricks?
Cindy looks so sweet and innocent. One of our cats, Charlie, does that look well, and then he pounces! I think he was a ballerina in a previous life the way he sits so daintily. :-)
We have 2 more cats (Katie and Tommy) and our gorgeous Lab. Freddie who's allergic to cats!
She's going to be blogging herself next week - just gotta take a pic when she's not aware of it otherwise she goes all sooky on me. :-)Since you're such an expert on mutts, I might consult you for book #4 (about the fireman O'Malley brother) It's a dog rescue story. (awww...)
hugs!
CC

traveler said...

I enjoyed your wonderful post today since animals are true and faithful companions and give us such joy and hope. I have two adorable dogs, A sweetheart of a Maltese named Guido who has a lovely temperament and is good as gold. I rescued a cute mix, Bogie who is fearless, loyal and loveable. They tolerate each other and are totally different. Bogie needs a ranch and a job so that he can feel worthwhile. He is always on the watch and is hard working and loves his toys. These dogs bring me such fun, joy and are characters as well.

Virginia said...

Great post about animals! Sometimes pets can seem like our children. I had a pet cockatail bird one time that would follow me all over the house. If I was washing dishes it would come and stand on my foot until I picked it up! It was very attached to me!

Denise said...

I had the most wonderful golden lab / cocker spaniel mix. She was so special...the only puppy of 9 who was the color of her mother, and she my baby for 12 years, from the time I got her when I was in the third grade until two years ago, when we had to put her to sleep because she was so sick. I still miss her; she was loyal, funny, and so sweet.

I've been thinking about adopting a dog from a shelter, but since I'm a law student I don't know if I have the time and money to take care of one. Hopefully I will sometime soon!

Sharon Archer said...

Oh, Kandy, what gorgeous photos of your animal family! They look like a very contented lot and why wouldn't they be with such a loving, appreciative home - and a chance to have their character traits immortalised in one of your books!

We've always been a household of pets too and they really bring wonderful little personalities along with them, don't they? I remember when we were growing up we "inherited" a huge persian cat from an Air Force family which was being posted overseas. His name was "Goon" and he soon became notorious in our street. Bold as brass. He used to drop into the neighbours expecting to be feed. The woman next door made the mistake of leaving her freshly baked and decorated sponge cake on the bench. Why wouldn't Goon think all that lovely whipped cream was there just for him!

Congratulations on your upcoming HOME IS WHERE THE BARK IS! I'm sure it will be just as much of a hit as your first book - speaking of which HUGE congratulations on the ARRA award for LOVE IS A FOUR-LEGGED WORD! Brilliant news!

:)
Sharon

Mary said...

Great idea for a blog post. I love animals and always have. My daughter is allergic to dogs and cats so we have adopted many, many rats, hamsters and gerbils.

But her allergies have never stopped her from loving dogs and cats. Just 2 days ago she was walking over to my house (she only lives a street over from me) and this little white stray dog started following her here. The poor lil thing was starved for attention as well as malnourished. She walked in and right behind her was this poor pathetic dog that was scared to walk inside. My daughter sat down with a hotdog and coaxed her inside. I called animal control to come and get her and at least give her a chance at a happy home.

runner10 said...

Love your post. It is wonderful to be loved by a four-legged friend. I have two labs that are always happy to see me.
Your book sounds great.

Vanessa Barneveld said...

Kandy, congrats on your latest accolade--an ARRA Award!

I love your books as much as I love animals. My two beautiful cats, Possum and Pinklepurr, are treated like family members. (Notice I couldn't just pick one animal? :)) They have such definite and delightful personalities. Very naughty at times, but there's no doubt they love living with us, even if I do upload funny photos of them on I Can Has Cheezburger site. I don't konw what I'd do without them.

PJ said...

Hi Kandy! I loved your first book and can't wait to read Love is Where the Bark Is. Great title, btw!

The two furkids who currently share my life are Cassy, a small (45 pounds) Lab/Shepherd mix and Rachel, a Rottweiler/Lab mix. They are the sweetest dogs ever. Rachel, especially. Rottweilers have gotten a bad reputation but that's due to bad owners and breeders. They are actually a very sweet breed that make great family pets and assistance/companion dogs. My dog trainer calls them the "couch potatoes of the canine world" and my Rachel fits that description perfectly. LOL!

Annie West said...

Hi Kandy,

As you know, I adored LOVE IS A FOUR-LEGGED WORD so someone is in for a real treat with that book. I'm counting the weeks till HOME IS WHERE THE BARK IS as I love your warm-hearted romance with a splash of humour, not to mention dogs!

Like you I've had animals in my life as long as I can remember, though not cats as my family love wild birds and the two don't mix. So dogs, birds, horses, even a rabbit somewhere along the line. They've all be special. At the moment our lovely old beagle (a tall one, like a foxhound) is a constant companion. She sleeps on her bed beside both the computer and the sliding glass door to the garden and I write to the sound of her snuffles.

Mega congratulations on your recent Australian Romance Reader Award, Kandy. It was so well deserved!

Cathleen Ross said...

Don't believe anything Kandy says about her bulls. They are terrifying. The book is great though.
Cathleen Ross

Kandy Shepherd said...

Hi CC-great to see you here because, of course, you write wonderful animal characters! I'm not the slightest bit surprised that your readers want to see Louella the pig back--she is quite the character in COLORADO CHRISTMAS.
No Cindy does not do tricks--she is a great mouser, though. She is a very independent miss, a beautiful girl who appeared on our verandah "one dark and stormy night" the local opinion being someone had dumped her in bushland nearby. She's a "dog-cat" and goes for long walks with us, she can't bear to be left behind!
I LOL at your description of your dog who is allergic to cats!

Lil said...

I work in an assisted living facility and one of the resident's has a small long-haired chihuahua. He is adorable and can make any of the people in the facility, both residents and staff break into a smile. There are some days which are more challenging than others but this little sweetie will come over to give a cheerful hello and a playful prance, often when I most need it.

Kate Walker said...

Hi Kandy - good to 'see' you again here. Molly Cindy and Banjo look gorgeous.

As anyone who visits my blog knows, I am owned by 3 beautiful cats. Dylan the grey tabby with one eye, Flora aka Princess flora Flooziebelle the gorgeous tortoiseshell 'smoke' Maine Coon (she knows she's gorgeous but she's also so wicked) and the handsome and dignified Sid (Sir Sidney) who helpds me pick all the winners of my contests. He (Sid) also sits on my desk when I'm writing - sometimes with either his tail or a paw on the keyboard so that I have to work round him. These 3 are the latest is a long line of furry friends who have shared my life right from the time that my very first ever kitten - a grey and white called Misty - came into my world when I was seven years old.

Kate

Kandy Shepherd said...

Hi traveler--"joy and hope", yes, you sum up beautifully what our precious animals give us. I'd like to add love and lots of laughs, too!
Your two dogs sound so different, and that constantly amazes me about dogs, cats, horses and other four-legged friends. Their personalities are so different.
I have a brave little Maltese character named Snowball as an ongoing character in both LOVE IS A FOUR-LEGGED WORD and HOME IS WHERE THE BARK IS. I really enjoyed writing him! I wonder if he looks like your Guido!

Kandy Shepherd said...

Hi Virginia, I LOVE cockatiels!
Those little birds have personality plus.Your one sounds just as smart and friendly as the ones I have known, too.
One day I want cockatiel of my own (to keep in a room away from my three cats!)

Kandy Shepherd said...

Oh Denise, your dog sounds so wonderful. How fortunate that you had her with you for 12 years in such loving friendship. One day, I am sure, you will look into a doggy face and know it is the right time to adopt another.
Thanks so much for your comment.

Kandy Shepherd said...

Sharon, I love your story about "Goon"-what a name and what a character!
Reminds me of the time my youngest cat Tabitha-officially my "grand kitty"- leapt up onto to the table at Christmas and started nibbling daintily on slices of ham. I thought it was hilarious (hubby did not!) and so, fortunately, did our guests. Luckily, we had already had lunch...
Thanks for your congratulations on the ARRA award when LOVE IS A FOUR-LEGGED WORD won favorite contemporary romance for 2009. It was such a thrill to be there at the awards night! Even more so because the award is nominated by readers.

Kandy Shepherd said...

Hi runner 10, isn't it wonderful to be greeted by your pets when you come home? There's nothing like a smiling lab face to make you feel good, no matter what kind of day you might have had.
One of the doggy characters in HOME IS WHERE THE BARK IS is a very old, very loving, golden lab named Freya.

Kandy Shepherd said...

Vanessa, please tell me where the name Pinklepurr comes from.
I have a picture of beautiful Possum, and how he got his name, on my website Pet Gallery, but I'd love to hear Pinklepurr's story.
Of course they are famous kittehs being captioned at I Can Has Cheezburger. Gosh, I love visiting that site, there's nothing like it for making me LOL!

Michelle Douglas said...

Kandy, super-duper congrats on your ARRA Award. I can't wait to get my hands on a copy of HOME IS WHERE THE BARK IS!

Sigh, your post has made me clucky for a puppy! I've never had a dog, several wonderful and leading lady style cats, but as yet, no dogs. But one day soon...

Hmm... there's a story to those miniature bulls, isn't there?

Kandy Shepherd said...

Hi Pj, Cassy and Rachel sound so sweet, lucky furkids to be sharing their lives with you!
So glad you like the HOME IS WHERE THE BARK IS title, I was pleased when my editor liked it.
The new book picks up the story of Serena, Maddy's best friend in LOVE IS A FOUR-LEGGED WORD. Brutus "guest stars" as well, of course!

Kandy Shepherd said...

Hi Annie, so lovely to "see" you here and thank you for your kind words about my books.
I have a photo of your lovely beagle on my website pet gallery. Sometimes when I am reading one of your wonderful Harlequin Presents novels, I imagine her sitting by your feet as you write keeping you company through the long, solitary hours it takes to write a book!
Thanks for your congratulations on the ARRA award for LOVE IS A FOUR-LEGGED WORD. There were so many talented, well-known authors who were finalists (Including you, but not in my category!) that I certainly did not expect to win and was absolutely thrilled when I did.

Fiona Lowe said...

Kandy, I love pets in books and I adored your Brutus! Congratulations on your ARRA award!!

Kandy Shepherd said...

Hi Cathleen, hey, are you being rude about my little bull boys?
You know Squirt loves you! He loves you so much he had you backed right into the chicken house just wanting to nudge you affectionately! (Oh, how I wish I'd had a camera with me!)
Seriously, though, he might be miniature but he is still a big, solid animal and I would not have wanted to be nudged by him either.
BTW, he and Thimble are steers. They are very smart and respond to a firm voice.
But there's something about you that Squirt likes a lot. He never carries on like that with anyone else!

Kandy Shepherd said...

Lil, what a lovely story about your long-haired chihuahua friend. It sounds like he brings joy and hope to both residents and staff alike.

Kandy Shepherd said...

Hi Kate, wonderful to "see" you here too.
Your descriptions of your cats really made me smile. I love dogs, horses and all animals (except snakes and crocodiles!) but I have a special affection for cats.
I love your cat names especially, of course, Princess Flora Flooziebelle.
Next time I'm lost in one of your wonderful, emotional Mills&Boons, I'll imagine you writing away with your feline assistants nearby (though, if cat truth be told, you are more likely to be their slave!)

Kandy Shepherd said...

Hi Fiona, thanks so much for the congratulations on my ARRA award.
"You've never won a thing for sport, mum," said my daughter, "so it's great you've got a trophy for your writing."
Her shelves are groaning with trophies for horse-riding and other sports but I'm extremely happy with my elegant ARRA and all it stands for!
Brutus, BTW, appears in HOME IS WHERE THE BARK IS but he has to share the stage with a cast of other quirky dogs.

Kandy Shepherd said...

Michelle, puppies are adorable aren't they? I know what you mean about getting clucky for one. There can be few things cuter on this earth than a puppy. But the time and circumstances have to be right for a commitment to a dog, don't they? They're a lot more work than cats!
Yes, there is a story in those naughty bull boys of mine. I've written about the Millionaire Mutt. Watch this space for the Billionaire Bull!
I can't wait to get my hands on HOME IS WHERE THE BARK IS, either! Berkley have done such wonderful covers for me and I'm longing to see Bark.
I hope you enjoy it when you get a copy!

Helen said...

Hi Kandy

I loved that post animals have always played a major role in my life but today is a really sad one for me I lost one of my best friends today her name was Tootsie and she was a mini fox terrier she was my Mums dog and when we lost Mum 8 years ago Tootsie came to live with me and at the grand old age of 15 she passed away I miss her so much but I know that she is back with Mum and Dad. We still have 1 dog at home Brandy and she is a bit sad as well and keeps walking around the house looking for Toots.

I look forward to you new release Kandy and congrats on the win at the ARRA Awards way to go.
Have Fun
Helen

Kandy Shepherd said...

Helen, I am so sad to read your news about Tootsie's passing. Not only losing your little dog, but also a link to your mother.Tootsie must have been very loved and well looked after to have lived such a long life.
I know you must be grieving and I so appreciate you taking the time to read my blog and make a comment.

Tania in Sydney said...

Mmm, I'll start by disqualify myself from winning, it just wouldn't be fair... but I think we all know my favourite little perfectly white pussy cat, the beautiful Ms Eva. What a life she had! And of course I have to mention my loving childhood tabby cats, Apple and Hezel, sooky, cuddly little babies to the end. I am dying to get a pussycat or little dog to cuddle at home, but sadly I live in a flat at present. But I have a cuddly toy cat all the way from England called Kayla.

Kate Hardy said...

Kandy, I adored Brutus (and congrats on your ARRA - well deserved).


Spookily, the dog in my current book (i.e. the one I'm writing, so that's out next spring) shares his name with your pony :)

As for animals - I've always had dogs. We have a liver-and-white English Springer Spaniel called Byron who's a real character (and he ends up in a few books - in my current US release he's disguised as a cat). If you're missing a shoe in our house, just go look in his bed - it'll be piled up with one from every person in the house. He believes that if he steals one of your shoes, you can't go for a walk without him...

Michele L. said...

Hello Kandy,

Love your name by the way! Awww...just loved your post about animals. I am an animal lover through and through. We have had many dogs but the one that really was my bestest friend is sadly gone. That was little Ralph. He was a Shitzu and was the most lovable, smart and wise dog! He brought sunshine to my day when I was down. His little unique walk, where he did a little gallop and then wiggled his butt was the cutest thing ever and never failed to make me laugh.

I absolutle love stories with animals and have read many where they are the star of the story or have stole the show when they weren't meant to be the star. I think you never can go wrong adding an animal to a story. Can't wait to read your book! It sounds just fabulous!

Have a fantastic week! It is finally warm and sunny here after many weeks of rain and cold weather.

Dina said...

many of my dogs were special but Sassy who is almost 12 has been my best companion and has helped mt thru a very tough time and dhe is also there when I come in the door.

Dina said...

sorry for the typing oops, lol

Kandy Shepherd said...

Hi Tania, how could anyone forget beautiful Eva, such a special cat. Hezel was the sookiest cat I have ever met, a real sweetheart.
When the time is right, a kitty will find you!
xx

Kandy Shepherd said...

Hi Kate, thanks for dropping by--I'm so glad you enjoyed Brutus. I had such fun writing him.
Byron sounds adorable--and very clever to figure out that people aren't going to go out walking with only one shoe.I love the individual quirks and idiosyncracies that dogs develop.
I must order your new book where he is disguised as a cat!
Brutus, Byron and Banjo--are we seeing a pattern here?
Our sweet little Banjo is an Australian stock horse who didn't reach his full height potential--he only made 13.3 hands, much to the disappointment of his owner who wanted to breed from him. When we bought him for my daughter he came with the undignified name of Shorty. She immediately rechristened him as Banjo.

Kandy Shepherd said...

Hi Michele L, your little Ralph sounds so cute the way you describe him. The Shih-Tzus I know have been very smart and loving. You must miss him a lot.
I'm glad you like to read stories with animals. Most of the people I like have animals in their lives so the fictional characters I write about naturally have animals in their lives, too. Something seems missing if the animals aren't there!

Kandy Shepherd said...

Dinah, there are few things more wonderful than being greeted by our furry friends when we get home.
One of the things I really love about dogs is that they love you no matter what and never judge you. I'm so glad to hear Sassy has been there for you during tough times.

LAMusing said...

My very odd cat Piper- he was abandoned on an airport runway. He's kind of ...strange, but he loves loves loves me and the feeling is mutual

adrianecoros(at)gmail.com

Kandy Shepherd said...

Hi LA Musing, I love the way your cat Piper loves, loves, loves you!
I can never understand people who say cats aren't affectionate...

Kandy Shepherd said...

Traveler is the winner of the HOME IS WHERE THE BARK IS tote bag with a signed copy of LOVE IS A FOUR-LEGGED WORD.

Traveler, could you please send me your snail mail address so I can get your prize off to you.

kandy@kandyshepherd.com