Of Dogs and Book Covers

Caverly, Carol - Thea Barlow Series - -Book 1 - R2 - All the Old LionsI loved writing the abandoned dog character in the first book of my cozy mystery series, All the Old Lions. I now wish he’d had a spot on the book’s cover. He’s not a main character in the story but he has an important part to play in the plot, even becoming a hero of sorts by the end.

Daydreaming a bit, I wondered what he would look like if he could be on a cover. I didn’t have any appropriate pictures in my files. It’s been a long time since I’ve had a dog. But in my mind as I wrote him was a wonderful working dog we had on the ranch a long time ago. He was a black and white Border Collie named Snooks, who, whenever it rained, smelled of the many skunks he’d attacked in his long life. But the book’s dog wasn’t really like Snooks. This is how the dog is introduced in the story:

“A black and white shepherd-type dog had come out of nowhere to squirm against my feet, begging for a kind hand, but not expecting one, poor thing. I dropped to my knees, relieved to find some other living thing in this godforsaken place, and lavished him with coos and hugs. The dog moaned with ecstasy, lolloping me with a long, wet tongue. Obviously, I had a friend for life. I had also added the pungent smell of dog to other sins of disarray.” – All the Old Lions

Curious as to what I’d find, I went to Pinterest, the greatest picture-finder place I know, and began a search for Border Collies. This is the first picture that caught my attention (left). I loved how tentative he looked, uncertain, a bit afraid to expose himself. Adorable, but a little too young and quite a bit too clean and pretty.

And then I found this fellow (right), and so many others that I could have spent hours just looking at border collie pictures.

I loved them all, but none quite seemed to fit the story. Then I found the one that touched my heart: older, bedraggled, and desperate for affection.
Border Collie: James Walker Photography:
This is my guy. He needs a friend, a home, food, and someone to love him. I wish I’d given him at least a tiny cover spot. He doesn’t have a big part to play in the story–he doesn’t even have a name–but to my mind, Thea’s concern for his welfare and the dog’s love for her adds tension and some humor to the story.

Have you read All the Old Lions? I’d love to know what you think. If you haven’t read it yet, you can buy it for your Kindle or Nook (or even good ol’ hard copies) here.

The Best Part About Writing

Originally posted on C. E. Lawrence/Carole Buggé BLOG

One of the things I’ve liked the most about writing fiction is being able to write about experiences that have thrilled me, and ideas I want to share. Twisting them into stories to entertain readers then becomes a challenge that has meaning, and is also quite a bit of fun.

Raised in a Chicago suburb, I married into a pioneer ranching family in Wyoming. The culture shock was enormous, but filled with awe and wonder. All my surroundings had changed. New experiences appeared around every corner, and the fascinating history of the Wild West was as close as the person standing next to me. My husband’s grandfather lived at the ranch through his declining years. He spent much of his youth as a round-up cook for various outfits. He was full of stories–encounters with the Butch Cassidy gang, a vigilante hanging in Newcastle, the ins and the outs of Johnson County war, and hundreds of others. I couldn’t get enough of them.

When my life-long love of reading turned to a desire to write a mystery guess who I chose as a heroine. You’re right! A young woman from Chicago who goes to Wyoming for the first time, not as a bride, but as an editor looking for stories. She, too, sees everything with new eyes. I even made a list of things I wanted her to experience, and evolved a plot that would include them. Things like ferocious thunder storms that turn dirt roads into quagmires of sticky, gumbo mud; spooky dugouts built into hills; underground coal fires caused by lightning or prairie fires; old-timers with secrets they want to keep buried, and of course, good-looking cowboys.

All you writers out there know that this story didn’t happen overnight. It took years of practicing craft, writing articles and short stories, learning the business, and becoming part of the writing community. But when my first novel was published, in hardback, it was the story of that young woman experiencing Wyoming for the first time. It’s the first book in the Thea Barlow Wyoming mystery series, All the Old Lions (which references those old-timers mentioned above.) I hope my love of Wyoming shines through all three (soon to be four) of the books.

Time moves along at an incredible rate. Everything changes. The small Wyoming town I knew as a bride, population three to four thousand, four paved streets, is now a thriving energy center, booming and busting through oil, coal, methane, and who knows what’s next. I’ve moved along as well. I now live in Colorado, but dream often of Wyoming.

I write about a lot of different things now, new places, new experiences, new ideas. But that first book–the thrill of writing, testing new skills–will always be the book of my heart.

If any of you have similar stories about a “special book” that you have written, or are working on, I’d love to hear them.