Friday 30 November 2018

Foxy Logic

Foxy Logic

Aesop (remember him?
He liked to write his fables)
Had a little story ‘bout
The fox and the grapes.
Fox couldn’t reach ‘em
No matter how he leapt
He said, “sour grapes”
And sneaked away…
                        And wept.
Now if you ask a fox about
The story Aesop wrote
He’ll use his foxy logic
And say to you, (I quote)
“Why would you believe it?
Why would I go for fruit?
I’m a fox remember…”
(So lock your chicken coop.)


Thursday 29 November 2018

Seven Gifts for Writers

What gift do you give a writer? An elegant pen? (She probably uses a computer.) A handsome notebook? (He probably scribbles stuff on his ATM receipt.)
So, what can you give a writer?
Here are some suggestions.
1. Buy his book brand new from a local bookshop. (Benefits - you get a book, he gets a full-price sale, the local bookshop gets a customer.)
2. Buy her book from whatever source you can if it's not available locally. (Benefits - you get the book, she gets a possibly discounted sale.)
3. Read the book. (Benefits - you are entertained.)
4. Review the book online. Don't just copy the blurb. Review the book. (Benefits - the author will be pleased. Other people might like the review, leading to knock-on sales.)
5. If you liked it, recommend the book to like-minded friends. Tell them where it can be bought. (Benefits - other people will know about an entertaining book. You will be recommending, rather than lending, which leads to sales. Why the obsession with sales? Authors enjoy eating.)
6. Take a selfie with the book. Post it wherever you post selfies. (Benefits - you are advertising the book and displaying your taste. Other like-minded people might follow suit.)
7. Get in touch with the writer and ask some specific questions. (Benefits - the author will be SO happy. Knowing someone bought a book, read it, recommended it and thought enough about it to ask questions is almost enough to make an author weep.)

Bonus 8. If you're an author or aspiring author yourself, all the above will benefit YOU. Buying a local book helps the writing industry... and a healthy industry has more room for you.

Wednesday 28 November 2018

Tansy Thrift’s Creamware Teacups

Object Post 147: 
Tansy Thrift’s
Creamware Teacups
From Court in Between

Source: Tansy probably got them from the Cornfellows
Fate: Three of them broke when Art went berserk
Author’s Inspiration: Tea is a recurring theme in this book

She poured the tea into a squat creamware cup with a faint pattern of some kind of plant.

Tansy Thrift was a stable hob. Through a set of odd circumstances, she lived alone in the stable of a deserted manor as companion to a very special horse.
Hobs generally enjoyed a simple life, but Tansy had a set of four creamware teacups with a pattern of tansy sprigs. They were sturdy enough to withstand her exuberant halfling friend Finn, and also the frequent depredations of Art, who liked to try whatever Tansy was having.
Three of the cups came to a smashing end when Art went berserk and crashed the door, knocking table and chairs, tearing a rug and knocking Tansy flying.
It wasn’t Art’s fault and he had every excuse, but it led to a peculiar scene where Tansy, having offered tea to a visitor she was obligated to entertain, had to explain why she had just one cup.
She handed him the tea, steaming and fragrant. He looked down at the cup and recognised the design as a sprig of tansy herb. Of course.
He raised it to sip and closed his eyes with pleasure. “Aahhh.” He remembered the tea he’d had in Martina’s kitchen. It hadn’t been like this.
“Aren’t you having any?”
“I had one while I was waiting for you to finish thinking.”
“One’s never enough.”
“I know. I’ll have another one when you finish.”
He paused with the cup close to his lips. “Surely we can drink together?”
“Not unless you care to take it sip about.” She let the silence stretch before she added, “I don’t have another cup. I could conjure one from Da’s place, but they’re probably using them.”
His thoughts must have shown in his face, because she relented and said, “I did have more cups, because my friend Finn comes to drink tea with us. Or he did. I don’t think he’ll be back. Da and Ruby come sometimes to see how we are. Art smashed the shelf when you turned up and broke them. I was lucky this one was in the cask for washing.”
“We’ll share it then.” He drained half the tea, although it was hot, and gave her the cup. He thought she might object, but she nodded thanks and drank.

Tuesday 27 November 2018

Love for a Grown-up Son

Declarations of Love Post 9. Love for a Grown-up Son: Kay and Tom Merriweather from The Kissing Ring

Declarations of love are a staple in fiction and they vary enormously according to author, audience, characters and situation. We mostly think of such effusions as romantic. We hope they're truthful, and we hope (usually) that they'll be made and received in a positive manner. Love's not always romantic though, so not all the declarations in this sub-set will be between romantic partners. This one is a tiny scene between a mother and her grown up son.

Thomas Tambourine "Tom" Merriweather, who is twenty-three and left home some years ago, and who works part time for the same firm as his dad, came to dinner with his parents. The conversation went a little pear-shaped, and Tom was left feeling sheepish. He decided to go back to his flat. His mother, seemingly oblivious to his faux pas, produced an apple pie.

“Not staying for pudding, Tom-Tom?”
“Not today.” Tom went to give his mum a hug. “I suppose it’s no use asking you not to call me that?”
“No use whatsoever,” Kay said.
“I wanted to put that on your birth certificate.”
“I know. Tell you what, if I ever have kids, I’ll give them musical names.”
Kay reached up to kiss his cheek. “Your wife might have something to say about that.”

Calling someone by a pet name from childhood mightn't be a declaration of love, but it does represent Kay's kindly impulse to put things back on a normal footing. Tom is her only child and he always carries the tiny silver tom-tom charm she gave him at his baptism

Monday 26 November 2018

Love for a Horse

Declarations of Love Post 8. Love for a Horse: Tansy and Art from Court in Between

Declarations of love are a staple in fiction and they vary enormously according to author, audience, characters and situation. We mostly think of such effusions as romantic. We hope they're truthful, and we hope (usually) that they'll be made and received in a positive manner. Love's not always romantic though, so not all the declarations in this sub-set will be between romantic partners. This one is a young woman's love for a horse.

Tansy Thrift was a hob maid. When she was fourteen, she was present when the hill mare, Southernwood, gave birth to twin foals. Southernwood rejected the first foal, and Tansy pointed out something strange about it. Her father identified it as a potential cloud-stepper. Tansy offered to care for it, though her father warned it would break her heart. The foal, which she named Artemisia, grew into a dependent but affectionate horse that demanded Tansy's presence. She put her life on hold for him, knowing his real life's companion would come for him within seven years. In the scene below, that time is fast approaching.

She approached him slowly, and rubbed his neck. He stretched his head over her shoulder and relaxed, so the long ridges of his jawbones dug into her flesh. She remembered her plan to sew padding into her smock. She’d do it in the morning.
“We’ll need to lay in some more hay for thee this year. Luckily Finn’s a grand hand with the scythe,” she murmured.
She stood in the dusk, making plans for a future they weren’t going to share and then she ducked from under her jaw, kissed his soft muzzle and conducted him to his chosen stall in the stable.

Sunday 25 November 2018

A Loving Son

Declarations of Love Post 7. A Loving Son: George Dark from Tied Up in Tinsel
Declarations of love are a staple in fiction and they vary enormously according to author, audience, characters and situation. We mostly think of such effusions as romantic. We hope they're truthful, and we hope (usually) that they'll be made and received in a positive manner. Love's not always romantic though, so not all the declarations in this sub-set will be between romantic partners. This one is a little boy's love for his dad.

Felicity "Flick" Echo has a Christmas wish to deliver. The recipient is five-year-old George Dark. Flick is about to leave when she realises George is unhappy.

Flick turned back to see George staring at her in dismay.
“It’s all right, George. You’ll get your present soon, even if you’re not here.”
“But it’s not for me!”
She frowned, puzzled. “You wished for a Christmas present, tied up in tinsel.”
“I know, but it’s not for me.”
“Who’s it for then?”
George gazed at her, and to her consternation, a fat tear oozed down his cheek.
“You can tell me,” Flick coaxed.
George sniffed, and rubbed his eye, then squinted at his hand. “Mummy and Daddy love me,” he announced.
“I’m sure they do.” It wasn’t an empty reassurance. George was so clearly a loved and wanted child.
“They love me a lot.”
Flick nodded. “That’s natural. You’re a lovable person. Your parents must be good people to have a boy like you.”
More tears brimmed.
Flick asked gently, “Why are you crying?”
He gave a couple of sobs and scrubbed his face with the tail of his shirt.
Flick wanted to hug him, as she would any child in distress, but this wasn’t over there, where hugs from strangers were welcome everyday matters. This was a city over here, where children were taught to be wary. As a fairy, this rankled her, but she was in the world of over here, and she had to respect the human culture.
She sank cross-legged onto the sun-warmed pavers and patted the ground beside her. “Sit down, George, and tell me the whole story.”
George sat down, and after a few minutes, Flick was in possession of the facts.
Though George’s parents had always loved him, they had never loved one another. They were just friends.
Friends who had bedded as lovers at least once, Flick decided, though obviously, George wouldn’t use that term. George lived with his mum, Sarah, some of the time. The rest of the time he lived with his dad, Chas. They often went on holiday together, and that always included Christmas in Sydney.
Sarah had married Ajay a few weeks ago. George liked him. Ajay had a son named Ranjeet, who was George’s age. Sarah and Ajay had brought Ran to Sydney to fetch George, and later today they were all getting on a boat. It was going to be just the four of them.
Here, George stalled, so Flick prompted him gently. “Don’t you want to go out on the boat?”
George hesitated, then nodded. He wanted to go. He and Ran were best friends at school, and they went to Joey Scouts together. Ajay was a Joey Scout Leader, and he’d promised to teach the boys to fish. They were going to sail up the coast for a whole week.
“What’s wrong then?”
George scowled so hard Flick knew he was trying not to cry. “Daddy isn’t coming, and it’s Christmas.”

George, a loved child, has learned to be loving and all he wants at this point in his young life is for his father not to be lonely at Christmas. 

George, Flick and Chas appear in the novelette Tied up in Tinsel. You can find it HERE but be aware - it's 18+.

Saturday 24 November 2018

The d'Chevalier Fief Ring

Object Post 146: 
The d'Chevalier Fief Ring
From Court in Between (coming soon)

Court Leopold had life exactly as he liked it. His indie band, Courtesan, was doing well, and allowed him to indulge his love of performance. He looked forward to continuing on his current path for at least the foreseeable future.
A festival encounter with Yvanne, an old friend from his childhood, caused the first blip on his radar. Yvanne brought a message from his mother, Cari, couched in uncharacteristically blunt language. She had to see him today. Now.
Puzzled and only mildly annoyed, Court met her in a pub. Cari, expecting his fourth half-sister with her husband, informed Court she had an obligation to give him something she'd been carrying around for twenty-five years and nine months. 

She dipped her free hand into her pocket and drew out a heavy gold ring with an indecipherable crest. She held it up and Court stared at it, and then at his mother.
“It’s a courtfolk fief ring,” Cari explained. "It's yours by blood,” she added, offering the gold ring in her palm.
He shook his head in confusion. The ring was tempting as a prop for Courtesan, but that was all.
“Your father laid it on me to give to you,” she said.
“I see.” He didn’t see, but he hoped to get through this quickly. A new song was nudging at his mind. My Father Left to Me His Ring… He held out his hand.

Cari drew back. “I have to give it to you, but you need to know the conditions.”

The conditions were strange enough, but didn't sound too onerous. Anxious to get back to the festival for Courtesan's next performance, Court took formal possession of the fief ring.

Cari took his hand and slipped the heavy gold circlet into place. It fitted as if made to measure. The crest, whatever it was, looked like a blurred smudge. Either the ring was implausibly old, or poorly worked, or the whole thing was some elaborate hoax perpetrated by his putative father on his credulous mother. He hoped that was so but he didn’t believe it for a minute. Great-Grandpapa Baptiste Leopold would never have countenanced that. He’d been a wily old bird and that he’d apparently connived at this unholy deal must mean he’d expected something good to come of it.

Court returned to his festival, more concerned with the performance than the d'Chevalier fief ring. However, that night he found he should have been concerned.

He unclasped his hands and swore as an electric tingle ran up his right arm. He must have pinched a nerve. No, the discomfort centred on his father’s fief ring. Too tight? Or had he just crushed his fingers together against the broad band? He shook his hand to stir up the circulation. It would be funny if the ring flew off and rolled in under the bunk. 
The ring stayed in place, snug on his finger. He twisted it with his left hand and it moved easily. He spread his fingers and examined them. There were no pressure marks or grooves.
“Ouch,” he said. It didn’t hurt, exactly but it was a better-not-there feeling, a tingling of discomfort. 
He gripped the ring with his finger and thumb and tried to draw it off. He’d formally accepted it, but that didn’t mean he was obliged to wear it. Cari had kept it in her pocket, and so would he.
The ring wouldn’t come off his finger.

The d'Chevalier fief ring was about to make Court's life very, very, strange.

Friday 23 November 2018

The Proud Dad

Declarations of Love Post 6. The Proud Dad: Foxie from The Jack Russell Dog Detective Omnibus

Declarations of love are a staple in fiction and they vary enormously according to author, audience, characters and situation. We mostly think of such effusions as romantic. We hope they're truthful, and we hope (usually) that they'll be made and received in a positive manner. Love's not always romantic though, so not all the declarations in this sub-set will be between romantic partners. This one is more of an implication than a declaration.

Foxie was a terrier, a n ex-street dog now living with Auntie Tidge Russell in Doggeroo. Although Foxie was now a devoted pet, he still retained some of his old habits, including a possessive attitude to his old boot. Jack Russell, his friend, tells the story. This scene is from late in the series, some weeks after Foxie ran off to visit Polly Smote, a miniature dachshund. Red is a setter, another friend of Jack's, and Preacher is Jack's young son.

The day after that, Foxie and his old boot disappeared.
Preacher, Red and I tracked them down to the river, where Polly Smote lives.
Mother dogs don’t like visitors when their sprats are tiny. But now Polly’s sprats were big enough to waggle their tails and yip. They were rolling around, growling and playing. Foxie was watching from a safe distance, keeping his paw on his boot.
‘What are you doing here, Foxie?’ asked Red. ‘Have you run away?’
‘Of paws not,’ grumbled Foxie. ‘Can’t a dog come and visit another dog? You three might be my pals, but you’re not my only pals.’
Preacher poked his nose into the basket of sprats. ‘Look, Dad! This fuzzy one is just like Trump and Jackie and Wednesday!’
I reminded him that his sisters were grown up now, like him.
Preacher sniff-sniffed a girl sprat. ‘Look at that spotty one, Dad! She’s just like Uncle Foxie.’
‘Foxie is a fox terrier,’ I said. ‘These are dachshund sprats.’
‘She still looks like Uncle Foxie. Look, she’s scratching her elbows, and she’s got an old shoe to play with.’
Spotty Sprat caught my eye. She put her paw on the old shoe. ‘Mine! Mine! Mine!’ she yipped.
I remembered dogs can be made up of more than one breed . . .

Thursday 22 November 2018

The Lovers at Last Anna and Pat

Declarations of Love Post 5. The Lovers at Last: Anna and Pat from Anna's Own

Declarations of love are a staple in fiction and they vary enormously according to author, audience, characters and situation. We mostly think of such effusions as romantic. We hope they're truthful, and we hope (usually) that they'll be made and received in a positive manner. Love's not always romantic though, so not all the declarations in this sub-set will be between romantic partners. This one is a woman and her long-time devoted swain... seen in three scenes, some years apart.

Anna arrived in a convict ship, and saw a man at the docks.

 Other folk waited on the docks as well, and one brawny, brown-faced young man gave a great shout of Irish welcome and tossed his hat into the air. He was a fine, well-set-up fellow, with a thatch of chestnut-coloured hair, exuberant side whiskers, and a merry, unreliable face. Some of the convict women began to look more hopeful, and several of them smiled coquettishly at the Irishman as they were herded down the gangplank...
... Within hours, most of the women had been selected by employers—although this was something of a euphemism for the real relationship between convict and settler. An assigned servant had few rights and in some cases was little more than a slave, to be beaten and used as the employer saw fit. As the official had implied, some of the employers had more on their minds than a capacity for work. The ebullient Irishman’s eye passed over the women to fall speculatively on Anna, and he raised an interrogative brow. She trembled, and shrank back into her shawl. The man gave a tiny shrug and his gaze swept on to settle upon Betsy Potter, the most comely of the women. He beckoned for her to come and stand beside him. “Ye’ll do for me, me darlin’!” he exclaimed, and seized the girl for a smacking kiss.

 “Sir! Please wait your turn!” cried the official, but the Irishman winked and took his chosen one firmly by the arm. “Sure, me name is Pat McNamara of Shepherd Town. Anyone can tell ye where to find me should ye be so inclined!” he said, and was off.

Anna was fortunate enough to be assigned to a couple and she found her new employers, Jane and Charles Colby, of a kindly disposition. After her sentence was served, she married Jack Kelly, whom she met at a dance. Pat McNamara was a friend of Jack's, which meant he saw Anna from time to time. He soon came to the conclusion he'd chosen the wrong girl from the ship, but Anna soon disabused him of any notion of second chances. It wasn't until years later, when they were both widowed, that she relented... on her own terms... when Pat came to call.

 She set the tea to brew and then sat down opposite him, folding her hands in her lap. “Mr McNamara,” she said gently, “are you ill?”
 He looked at her then. “Have ye ever forgiven me Anna me love? For those hasty words I spoke regarding the day ye had the news of Jack?”
 “Oh yes,” said Anna. “I have.” She cleared her throat. “That was not kind of you, Mr McNamara.” She held out her hand, and McNamara took it doubtfully. “You’re not kind now, either, Mr McNamara,” she said. “You know I rely on you, always, to give me a hare for my hound, and this evening you’ve not loosed a single one.”
 “Neither I have!” he said dolefully, but she was encouraged to see something of his old smile lighting his face. “Anna me love,” he said after a moment, “we’re both of us free now poor Betsy’s gone.”
 Anna sighed. “I wonder if one is ever truly free of the past,” she said dreamily, but McNamara was not to be diverted. “Anna? Will ye be me wife?”
 Anna met his eyes squarely. “Do you know, Mr McNamara, you’ve really surprised me,” she said. “I took you for a man who wanted certain things, simply because he knew he should not.”
 McNamara tried to look offended, but failed. “Now Anna me love, ye’re not fair,” he said. “Ye know ye have only to speak the word and Pat’s your man. Come Anna Kelly—will ye marry me?”
 Anna shook her head. “No, Mr McNamara. I will not. Not after being wed to Jack.”
 McNamara did not pretend to misunderstand her. “I know ye’d never be thinking of me the way ye were thinking of him,” he said. “And sure, Mad Jack was a man of parts. But see here, Anna me love, I can be loving ye well enough for the both of us.”
 “No, Mr McNamara,” said Anna. “I’ll never marry again. The good Lord knows I loved Jack Kelly, but the uncertainty—that I did not love. Mr McNamara, you were his friend, I can say these things to you without disloyalty. Living with Jack was like standing on the deck of a ship. I never knew for two days together if a storm would not come and swamp me entirely. Since Jack went, I’ve had to make do, and work hard, but I’ve been my own woman. I’ve made mistakes—I lost Maggie and little Jane and almost lost young Jack, but through it all I’ve been my own woman and my life has been my own.”
 “Ye’ve tied yourself to Shepherd in business, or so I hear tell,” growled McNamara.
 “I had to, Mr McNamara. I had no choice.”
 “Ye had a choice,” said McNamara. “Ye could have been turning to meself.”
 “I could have come to you, I know. But Mr McNamara, if I’d come to you then—knowing you were Betsy’s—I could never have trusted myself again. As it was, in turning to Mr Shepherd I almost made the biggest mistake of my life.” She looked down at her joined hands. “Had I done so, I would have lost another of my children, for good and all.”
 “And now Betsy’s gone, and ye’ll still not be having me,” said McNamara discontentedly. “Sure, and as if I’ve not ached to be your own man all these years ...”
 Anna’s Own,” said Anna.
 “Anna’s Own,” said McNamara. “Sure, that’s me, poor benighted creature that I am. I come to lay me heart at your feet, and ye’ll not be having me, even now. Ye’re a cruel woman, Anna Kelly.”
 Anna made a decision, suddenly and with no hesitation at all. “Mr McNamara,” she said quietly, “I never said I’d not be having you.”
 “Did ye not! Begorra, woman, ye’ve said nothing else for all these years!”
 “You’re right. And things are different now,” said Anna. “Jack is gone, and so is Betsy. My children are grown, all but Jack, and him I cannot help at present. I don’t want to marry, but I can offer you my dearest affection—and anything else you’d care to be having.”

Wednesday 21 November 2018

The Maybe Lovers Ash and Hazel

Declarations of Love Post 4. The Maybe Lovers: Ash and Hazel from the Garlands of Thorn and May trilogy

Declarations of love are a staple in fiction and they vary enormously according to author, audience, characters and situation. We mostly think of such effusions as romantic. We hope they're truthful, and we hope (usually) that they'll be made and received in a positive manner. Love's not always romantic though, so not all the declarations in this sub-set will be between romantic partners. This one is a young couple wondering whether to take that first step.

Ashwin and Hazel have known one another since Cradle School. Ash now works for his father Teak, the grumpy charburner. Until very recently he's had no time for courting, although he occasionally sees Hazel and her cousin, Rowan. He is grateful to both girls as they have never given up on him. Rowan is having problems and the slightly-younger Hazel is getting restless. Ash's father, about to re-marry, has got it into his head that Ash ought to court Hazel. Ash goes to visit Hazel. By the way, HAYSACKING is a courting custom in this society.

Hazel said, “If she doesn't remember, you must be unmemorable. Would you think it was a good idea to go haysacking with me?”
“What, now?” Ash asked.
“Not now. Sometime, though.”
Ash grinned with an effort. “I don’t expect so. I’d wake with no ears, because you would have talked them off me. Are you saying you’d like to?”
“After that insult, not in a million summers,” Hazel said, her lips tipping into a genuine smile.
“Now I’m insulted, too,” he responded.
“No doubt. It’s inconvenient, since our fathers have been talking about matching us before next Summerfeste. Just think if we agreed with their plans. You’d be earless, and I’d be forgetting all about your best efforts at lovering…”
Ash groaned, only half in fun, but he liked her now more than he ever had before. “I told Da I’d do my own courting when I was ready. Why’s he got to pick now to get interested in me, after all the years I was nothing to him but a convenient apprentice?”
Hazel pounced on this admission. “So, you did know about their plans. Did you agree with them?”
“I didn’t say no right out.”
She looked at him expectantly. “Why not?”
“Because no is no and can’t be undone.”
“That’s the way I feel. If it’s not no, it’s yes or at least it’s maybe. You’re taking long enough to begin with the courting if it’s yes.” She gave him a saucy kiss on the cheek, and he turned his face to kiss her nose. Hazel giggled, put her arms around his neck, and blew hard into the skin below his jaw. Ash tickled her ribs in retaliation, and they wrestled together like puppies. She smelled of milk and hay with a touch of fine soap.
Sorrel [Hazel's mother] came by to check on the calf and smiled at them indulgently. “You finally have time to visit a maid, Ashwin Coleman, and all you can do is fight with her?”
They broke apart, and Hazel giggled again. “It was in fun, Mam.”
“Hmm. I didn’t think Ashwin had the time for fun.”

“I never did before,” Ash said. He caught Hazel’s arms when she launched at him again, but she was quick as an eel and landed a kiss on his neck. It was a wet one, and he exclaimed in disgust while she and Sorrel laughed at him.

This scene is from Summerfeste, which is upcoming from Devine Destinies. Read about the series at the Garlands of Thorn and May homepage HERE

Tuesday 20 November 2018

Jack Russell Baggage

Baggage Handling Post 4. Jack Russell Baggage

The Jack Russell Dog Detective series comprises twelve books. To keep track of everyone, we compiled the following list of characters... By the way... want Jack Russell Omnibus for Christmas? Check out the website for details


Ace is Jack Russell’s mother, a very special senior Jack Russell. She appears in The Blue Stealer. Ace lives with Sarge’s brother.

Mr Antikat. Also known as “Chewy Shoes”. Ex-employee of Katya Gibbons. Mr Antikat kitnaps the Awful Pawful and holds him to ransom. He stays at the Doggeroo Guest House near Tina Boxer’s shop.

Auntie Tidge. Miss Theresa “Tidge” Russell is Sarge’s aunt. She has a heart as big as Australia and she loves Sarge and Jack. Her love is elastic. It effortlessly stretches to include Foxie, Preacher, and Sarge’s friend (later fiancee/wife) Caterina. Auntie Tidge moves to Doggeroo at the end of the first book to be near Sarge, but she finds plenty to do in the community. She gardens, cooks, joins Doggeroo District Fowl Club and generally becomes indispensable. She is always available, but never pushy.

The Awful Pawful is a Territorial King Cat or Marmaladus Rex, whose real name is Thumper Bluey. He belongs to Katya Gibbons, who features in The Phantom Mudder. The Awful Pawful escapes from the train and terrorises the dogs of Doggeroo in The Awful Pawful. Later, in The Kitnapped Creature, he is kitnapped by a disgruntled employee of Katya’s. Jack and the Jack-pack “tree” him in but rescue him from his captor in their second encounter. The Awful Pawful is a savage and exceedingly territorial cat.
Barley is a border collie belonging to Uncle Smith, Caterina Smith’s uncle.

Biscuits is Jack’s name for Judge Gibbs, who judges the Doggeroo Dog Show in The Phantom Mudder. He’s a kindly man, who gives biscuit treats to dogs. His wife, Katya, is not fond of dogs. She prefers cats.

Blue is a blue heeler, who appears in The Blue Stealer and in The Ham Heist. He belongs to Freddy Wysell originally, but later goes to live with Uncle Smith.

The Boneheads are large, bulky dogs with more muscles than brains. They want to turn terriers into toothpicks. Jack encounters them in The Phantom Mudder. A bonehead in a bonnet appears in The Sausage Situation.

Mr BootleMuddy Boots.

The Boots (Brown Boots, Old Boots and Shiny Boots) are handymen who put up greenhouses and marquees and drive a delivery van. They appear in The Ham Heist.

Butcher Beale is the Doggeroo butcher. He has some trouble with Foxie in The Sausage Situation and again in The Ham Heist.

Caterina Smith. Caterina Smith is introduced in the first book as Red’s owner. She lives at Uptown House, and is quite well off. She finds excitable Red a handful, but is generally a friendly and sensible person. Her uncle is a farmer out at Jeandabah, so Caterina is experienced in country matters. Caterina goes to dog shows and other events with Red. She is good friends with Auntie Tidge, and she and Sarge get along well. In Fowl Play, they begin courting. Their engagement party is in The Blue Stealer, and they marry in The Ham Heist. Caterina’s postcard telling Sarge about a pup she has bought for her uncle rouses suspicion that she’s an art forger!

Chewy Shoes- Jack’s name for Mr Antikat.

Mr Crisp is a schnauzer owner in The Phantom Mudder.

The Decorator house-sits for Caterina Smith in Inspector Jacques. Caterina hired her to paint the kitchen while she and Red were away.

The Dog-Boggarts are small children who frighten Preacher at the library and the school.

Dora Barkins is a friend of Auntie Tidge. She adores her “boys”, three yaffling little dogs known collectively as The Squekes.

Fat Molly. Molly lives with the librarian, Kitty Booker. She is a grumpy white cat who holds her own with the dogs. Her diet causes a problem for Foxie when she comes to stay while Kitty is away. She shows an unexpected soft side when she befriends Preacher.

Foxie. Mostly fox terrier, Foxie is a street dog when he meets Jack. He has been living rough in the yard of the empty police house. Foxie is a thief and a chancer, but becomes Jack’s loyal sidekick. He thrives under the loving care of Auntie Tidge, but never quite loses his insecurities. Foxie gets paw-sessive about his belongings, especially his old boot, a relic of his street days. He scratches a lot, even though he no longer has fleas. He firmly believes that anything on his terrier-tory is his. Foxie is the father of Polly Smote’s litter in Inspector Jacques.

Freddy “Fingers” Wysell moves into “Hidden House”, an empty house near the station in The Blue Stealer.

Gloria Smote.  A friend of Auntie Tidge’s. She owns Polly the dachshund, and lives down near the river. She’s a bit fussy, and has sharp little teeth like Polly’s.

Inspector Cook is a police officer from the Art Fraud Department. He comes to Doggeroo on the trail of some stolen paintings of dogs taken from the City Museum. He likes salami and cake, and is suspicious of everyone. He lives with Inspector Jacques, a French bulldog.

Inspector Jacques is a French bulldog. He belongs to Inspector Cook of the Art Fraud Department, and has a high opinion of his own detection skills. Jacques wears a fang-defying collar.

Inspector Kipper, or “Kipps”, is the police inspector Sarge used to work with in the city. They are quite good friends. Kipps comes to Sarge’s and Caterina’s party in The Blue Stealer, and telephones Sarge in Inspector Jacques.

Jack and Jill Johnson live at the station where Jack is Station Master. They help out at the Dog and Sausage Day in The Sausage Situation. Jill Russell lives with them.

Jack Russell: Dog Detective. Hero and narrator of the series.

Jackie, Wednesday and Trump are daughters of Jack and Jill Russell. They are Preacher’s litter-sisters. Trump lives in Jeandabah with Dr Jeanie, the vet.

Jill Russell: A female Jack Russell Terrier who lives at the station with Jack and Jill Johnson. Jack is fond of Jill, who treats him offhandedly but respects and likes him. Jill is the mother of Jack’s pups, Jackie, Wednesday, Trump and Preacher. She has road sense.

Katya Gibbs. Also known as High Heels.  Judge Gibbs’ wife. She appears in The Phantom Mudder and The Kitnapped Creature.

Kiarna is Caterina Smith’s niece. She has red hair and she loves dogs. She’s one of Red’s favourite people. Kiarna appears in The Ham Heist.

Kitty Booker is the librarian at Doggeroo Library. She owns Fat Molly. She and Auntie Tidge are friends.

Lord Setter of Uptown House. Known as “Red” or “Lord Red” to Jack and as “Lordie” to most humans, Red is a scatter-brained and enthusiastic setter. He is impulsive and sometimes silly, but he becomes good friends with Jack. In Book 12, Jack is quite looking forward to sharing quarters with him. Red has a long pedigree, and is a show dog. He wins championship ribbons and awards.

Mr Latiman is a grumpy man who owns three Boneheads. Sarge and Jack meet him at Doggeroo Dog Show in The Phantom Mudder.

High Heels is the name Jack gives to Katya, the judge’s wife at Doggeroo Dog Show in The Phantom Mudder.

Muddy Boots owns a Bonehead. Sarge and Jack meet him at Doggeroo Dog Show in The Phantom Mudder. His real name is Mr Bootle.

The Not-dog is a mysterious stranger Jack trails in Fowl Play.

Painter is a Painted Setter, son of a dog named Painter’s Pride. Caterina buys him for Uncle Smith in Inspector Jacques.

The Phantom Mudder appears in The Phantom Mudder. The Mudder is a mysterious person who makes the dogs muddy and almost spoils Doggeroo Dog Show.

The Pie Person feeds Jack some pie in The Mugged Pug.

Polly Smote. A sharp-natured dachshund, Polly belongs to Gloria Smote on the other side of the river from Jack. She’s fond of her owner, and is good friends with Jill Russell. She treats Jack and Foxie to sharp comments, but she’s a loyal member of the Jack-pack. She has a litter of sprats with Foxie. Most of the pups look like Polly, but one, Spotty Sprat, looks (and acts) like her dad. 

The Postman (1) is the original Doggeroo postman. The dogs play the Postman Game with him.

The Postman (2) is the new Doggeroo postman, “The Lying Postman”. He’s not too fond of dogs.

The Postman (3) is another new postman. His brother is a police inspector.

Preacher is Jack’s son with Jill Russell. He’s a new-born pup in The Buried Biscuits, and comes to live with Jack and Sarge in The Kitnapped Creature. Preacher is a happy little dog who waggles his tail and grins a lot. He loves treats and is inclined to be pawtly. He can be a bit timid, but shows signs of being a detective like Jack.

The Pug Mugger mugs dogs and steals their collars. The Pug Mugger appears in The Mugged Pug.

Ralf Boxer is a doughty chihuahua who bites the postman’s boot in The Lying Postman. Because Ralf is so small, he is very much aware of his rights. He is best friends with the Ruthless Rooster, whom he met in Fowl Play. Ralf lives with Tina Boxer.

Ranger Jack (real name Johnny Wolf) is the dog control officer at Doggeroo. He is generally understanding about dogs being out and about, but he does insist they should wear their collars. Ranger Jack causes some trouble to the dogs in The Mugged Pug but is their ally in The Kitnapped Creature.

The Ruthless Rooster is the ferocious rooster that scares Ralf Boxer in Fowl Play. They later become friends. The Rooster is inclined to zoom its head and say GLOCK!

Shuffle is a pug. He wheezes and waddles about, and is inclined to melancholy. He lives with Walter Barkley and his pet hen down by the reserve. Shuffle is the victim in The Mugged Pug and is burgled in The Blue Stealer. He has a fondness for sardine sandwiches and roast chicken.

Spotty Sprat is a daughter of Polly Smote and Foxie. She is small, spotty and already obsessed with an old shoe, just like her dad.

The Squekes are three hairy little dogs that yaffle about busily. They live with Dora Barkins. Most of the time they are brave, but they can be intimidated by scary things with claws. They love to chase things, and enjoy playing with a plastic chop. They always operate as a team.

Stick and Kick are two Doggeroo boys who love biscuits.

Tina Boxer keeps the small shop. She lives in what was a deserted house when Jack arrived in Doggeroo. Tina is another friend of Auntie Tidge’s. She lives with Ralf Boxer and the Ruthless Rooster. Tina is a member of the Fowl Club.

Walter Barkley. Walter lives down by the reserve with Shuffle, his pug. He’s elderly, but keeps involved in the community. He rides a bicycle, and belongs to the Fowl Club. He has a pet free-range hen. Walter’s place is burgled in The Blue Stealer.

Monday 19 November 2018

Zach and Mab. Loving Friends

Declaration of Love 3: Zach and Mab: Loving Friends 

Declarations of love are a staple in fiction and they vary enormously according to author, audience, characters and situation. We mostly think of such effusions as romantic. We hope they're truthful, and we hope (usually) that they'll be made and received in a positive manner. Love's not always romantic though, so not all the declarations in this sub-set will be between romantic partners. This one is from a young man to one of the three girls who brightened his college years. Now in their late twenties, Zach and Mab have met up for coffee. They are discussing Mab's soon-to-be-ex boyfriend.

Mab said, "He’s gone off the boil. Never was more than a mild simmer. Zachie—” She flashed him a hundred-watt grin.
“No. That ship sailed long ago.”
“It needn’t have, you know,” Mab said.
“If we haven’t become a couple by now we never will. I do love you, Mab. You’re gorgeous but not unattainable.”
“So why have you never attained me?”
“Because of the way I love you. You’re mine in a special way. I don’t ever want to lose that.”
She drained her coffee and said sweetly, “You never will lose me. Pact, right? No matter who we’re with, in the end, we’re forever friends. We’ve got one another’s backs.”
“What if your next SO doesn’t like the idea of me as your forever friend?” Zach asked.
“If he’s that insecure I’m out of there. And you…when you find your happy-ever-after, she’s got to be okay with me. If she’s not, she’s not your HEA.”
He grinned at her. “Pact.”

Zach and Mab are one of my favourite non-couples. By the end of the book Mab is happily in love with someone else and Zach is in "It's complicated" land with a very strange young woman. Luckily, Zach likes strange. Read about it in Man Overboard... but only if you're 18+. Because of my habit of intertwining stories, Zach and Mab appear in their college days in Honey and the Harvest Hob and Mab shows up to meet her new beloved in Horizontal Bunny Hop.

Sunday 18 November 2018

Kissing Clay: From Valentine

Declaration of Love 2: Kissing Clay: From Valentine

Declarations of love are a staple in fiction and they vary enormously according to author, audience, characters and situation. We mostly think of such effusions as romantic. We hope they're truthful, and we hope (usually) that they'll be made and received in a positive manner. Love's not always romantic though, so not all the declarations in this sub-set will be between romantic partners. This one is from one half of a long-married couple.

Let me not be kissing clay
When I touch your feet
And when I take your hand
Do let it be cold as spring—
I wear your ring
Let me not be disappointed
When I look at you
With open eyes
At chilling three a.m.
And sleep again.

May you not regret your vow
When you lie with me.
When you see my skin unclad
May you know the truth and yet—
Not in regret
May you never feel short-changed
When you’re holding me
In later years
As lines are etched in age
On my skin’s page.

Let us never turn aside
As we wander on,
Though grey and glasses come—
When we climb the winding hill
Be loving still
Let us keep the words alive
When we speak aloud
And kisses keep
Our currency for life
As man and wife.