Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Please welcome our guest Elizabeth Ludwig

6 Things I learned (about writing) from watching my dachshunds…

By Elizabeth Ludwig

 Okay, so I admit it…I’m a freak about my dachshunds. I absolutely love to watch them play. So imagine my enjoyment when the two I had, multiplied to six! That’s right…puppies.

 I learned quite quickly that each one is vastly different from the others, and not just in temperament. They have distinct personalities, which of course, tied in nicely with my other passion—writing. It was a simple enough thing coming up with an idea for an article when Mary Connealy approached me about appearing on Seekerville. I decided I would simply share the six things that I learned just by watching my dogs!

And so, here it goes…

1.      Max (aka – the hero). Max is the original. The first of our many dachshunds. When my husband brought him home, he was small enough to fit in the palm of my hand. Now, he’s the absolute leader of our little pack. The alpha. The one who sets the tone for the entire rest of the house. He’s incredibly smart, inquisitive by nature, and positively loyal. Recently, when our little female got bitten by a water moccasin (a very large, very poisonous snake), Max attached himself to her side and refused to be coaxed away until she felt better. It was the sweetest thing—and the exact quality that I try to incorporate in my heroes. A mix of strength and tenderness, leadership and compassion.

2.       Lainey (aka – the heroine). Despite her size, Lainey is every bit as tenacious as Max. In fact, this little spitfire has a tendency to intimidate the much larger hero of our lesson. Where Max relies on muscle, Lainey tends to rely on brains…and a little bit of coquettish persuasion. It’s so funny to watch the two of them together. They work as a pair, especially when it comes to rounding up our neighbor’s cows, which occasionally wind their way into our yard. At that point, all I have to do is give one quiet order—get ‘em. The two of them shoot off across the yard, but the moment one of those animals turns to lower their horns, Lainey goes into evasive maneuvers. She darts in and out through the cows’ legs and somehow manages to return to the house unscathed. Isn’t that how we want our heroines? Daring and quick, and with a nice mix of beauty and brains.

3.      Reggie (aka – the villain). I know what you’re thinking…poor Reggie, labeled a villain at only eight months of age! Still, I have to tell you, this little stinker gets into more messes than the other five dogs combined. Just last week, we were getting ready to sell our house, and I came home to find the wallpaper shredded from the walls. It was pretty easy to locate the culprit…he had wallpaper hanging from his mouth. And yesterday, I came home to find one of my favorite shoes chewed in two. Just one, mind you. The other one was fine. I think Reggie did it on purpose, just to taunt me. And when I let the dogs out to go potty, who disappears into the trees the moment my back is turned? You guessed it. Despite all of that, there is something irresistible about the little scamp. Every time I scold him, he looks at me with those large soulful eyes, and I can’t help picking him up and cuddling him. And that, folks, is exactly the quality I try to give each of my villains. They may be treacherous, and they may thwart the efforts of my hero and heroine at every turn, but they have an irresistible quality—something about them that stirs compassion and makes the reader believe they have a reason for their actions.

4.      Nellie (aka – the accomplice). While Reggie is without a doubt the ringleader, following close behind is Nellie. Who do you think tossed the shoes down from the chair where I had put them so Reggie could chew one to bits? Intelligent, athletic Nellie, of course! Of all the puppies, Nellie is the most daring. When I’m lying in my bed, Nellie is the one who jumps up into the armchair next to it and leaps across the gap to land on the pillow next to me. When the others are huddled on the porch staring out at the rain, Nellie is the one who ventures out and then stares back at the others as if to say, “What’s wrong with you?” Now, to look at her, you wouldn’t think she’d be the daredevil. She has a sweet little face and long, floppy ears that give her the appearance of total innocence, which of course makes her the perfect accomplice. That is exactly the type of character I try to create when giving my villain a partner. I try to make them daring and smart, but with an air of innocence that catches the reader completely by surprise when their true intentions are revealed.

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5.      Lexi (aka – the compassionate supporting character). Out of all of the dogs, Lexi is largest, but she is also definitely the most loving. The moment I sit down, she climbs onto the back of the couch and lays her head on my shoulder. When I get up to leave the room, she follows close at my heels and waits patiently by the door until I return. While the others are playing or chasing each other around the room, Lexi is content to lay in my lap and let me stroke her fur. This is the kind of supporting character that I always try to give my hero and heroine—someone large and strong, who offers solid reinforcement in the midst of chaos, and who stands at the ready with just the right amount of comfort and compassion.

6.      Bentley (aka – the emotional draw) Bentley is the runt of the litter. He was born last, and was delivered the hardest. He’s just a little smaller than all of the others, but day to day, despite his size, he somehow manages to keep up. Remember Little Women? Bentley is like Beth—the character everyone loves and ultimately, the one who breaks your heart with her passing. Bentley reminds me that supporting characters are important. They need depth in order to make the reader to care about them, but when they do, they can make my stories so much richer.

Well, that’s it for now…everything I’ve learned about writing from watching my dachshunds. I guess if I wanted to do another installment, I’d have to have more dogs. Right. Just let my husband hear me say that…
Leave a comment to get your name in the drawing for a copy of No Safe Harbor (or buy it HERE)
Elizabeth Ludwig is an award-winning author whose work has been featured on Novel Journey, the Christian Authors Network, and The Christian Pulse. Her first novel, Where the Truth Lies, which she co-authored with Janelle Mowery, earned her the 2008 IWA Writer of the Year honors. This book was followed in 2009 by “I’ll Be Home for Christmas,” part of a Christmas anthology collection called Christmas Homecoming, also from Barbour Publishing.

In 2010, her first full-length historical novel Love Finds You in Calico, California earned Four Stars from the Romantic Times. Books two and three of Elizabeth’s mystery series, Died in the Wool (Barbour Publishing) and Inn Plain Sight (Spyglass Lane), respectively, released in 2011.

Coming in 2012 is Elizabeth’s newest historical series from Bethany House Publishers. No Safe Harbor, the first book in the Edge of Freedom Series, will release in October, with two more books following in 2013 and 2014.

Elizabeth is an accomplished speaker and teacher, and often attends conferences and seminars, where she lectures on editing for fiction writers, crafting effective novel proposals, and conducting successful editor/agent interviews. Her popular literary blog, The Borrowed Book, enjoyed a wide readership in its first full year, with more than 17,000 visitors in 2011. Along with her husband and two children, Elizabeth makes her home in the great state of Texas. To learn more about her work, visit her at


  1. Hi Elizabeth,
    Love hearing about your dogs from a writer's perspective! I feel the same about mine(Pomeranian). My dogs have taught me a lot about loyalty, relationships, and unconditional love. Thanks for the fun post!

  2. What a unique way to portray good characterization. I love dogs and their varied personalities.

  3. You're speakin' my language!!!

    This was a grrrreat idea, Elizabeth. It really communicated. Thanks so much!

    WELCOME to Seekerville!

    Helen's not here so I'll start the coffee.
    Some danish on the table too, and a variety of fruit.


  4. Hi Elizabeth,I loved the dogs too! I really love the cover of No Safe Harbor.

    I was up late, now up early. I'll be back later to read this again. :)

    Have a blessed day!

    Smiles & Blessings,
    Cindy W.


  5. I love walking around our lake meeting dogs. I had a mini-daschund growing up and a writing a story featuring one. Nothing says "token of affection" like giving the heroine a daschund puppy. AND someone to walk the dog while she works.

    Thanks for a great post.

    Peace, Julie

  6. Hi Elizabeth, love the prespective of the dogs. Love the different characters.
    I know a few cats that fit in the villian possition only they don't have any redeeming qualities in my eyes. (Im a cat lover) one in particular attacks me every time I visit. it will pretend to be nice come up to be patted and then when you think it likes you wham you are minus an arm, ok maybe not minus but it will either sink its teeth in or its claws. Been attacked so many times if it even looks sideways I move.

  7. Hi Elizabeth,

    That's a lot of dogs to watch.

    I have a Westie and my son has his sister. It's always fun when the two get together. They act like human brothers and sisters. Play and fight and watch out for each other.

    What a fun post today, thanks for sharing the insight!

    Jackie L.

  8. I loved this post, Elizabeth!

    My first dog was a daschund, Ralph. He was a protector. We didn't have to worry about anyone trying to get to our family or hurt anyone because he was there and wasn't afraid to bite!! Of course, this made it tough to have people over we invited, but Ralph didn't care. No one was allowed into his sphere without his consent.

    Would love to be entered into the drawing for your book.

  9. I love daschunds! My little daschund sister passed away 6 months ago.
    Amy C
    campbellamdy at gmail dot com

  10. I see a lot of dachshunds on Facebook these days. are you behind that?

    I downloaded your first chapter and was SO disappointed when i got to the end and realized i had no more! What a great story! i love the mix of historical and suspense!

    thank you all. i'm happy to learn more about Elizabeth.

    Good morning Seekerville!

  11. Morning Elizabeth, Loved the writing analogy to the Dachshunds. I love animals. They do help us understand our world don't they?

    Wow from Barbour to Bethany House. You must be friends with Mary. Congrats and best wishes on your new novel.

    Thanks for joining us. Have a fun day. It is always a fun day here at Seekerville.

  12. Being a dog lover myself, with 3 of my own, I could totally get your analogy. What inspiration! My family thought I was nuts when we added #3 last Christmas, so I can't imagine having 6.

    Thanks for your insight, Elizabeth, and congratulations on all your wonderful books. I'd love to win a copy of your latest.


  13. Hi, Elizabeth! We just got back from a 10 hour trip to Palm Bay, Florida to return my son's dog to him. We've been dogsitting for the last 6 weeks. Giving Chester back was like relinquishing one of our children!

    It was fun watching him interact with our dog Sparky. Two very different personalities, but they grew to be great friends. They worked out their differences. When we left to bring Chester home, Sparky moped all day and wouldn't eat. He's since recovered, but he was so sad to see Chester leave. Me too.

  14. I love this post, Elizabeth. How fun for you to see character qualities in each of your six dogs. You brought out qualities in a fun way.

    I can't imagine having six dogs. My hats off to you and your family! :)

  15. Good morning, Elizabeth. Your post made me think of "Snickers." My long haired dachshund of years ago.

    Great characterization comparison.

  16. Interesting!!!! We don't have any dogs [too many allergies] but I do know that all of my kids have their own personalities. Some are much more cuddle buggish than others. Some more resilient. Some more sensitive.

    And so on.

    I'd love to be entered. :)

  17. thanks for the chance to read this wonderful story

    kmkuka at yahoo dot com

  18. Welcome, Elizabeth! My inlaws have always had dachshunds. I can see what you're talking about! Their little personalities just shine through! :)

    How fun to think of our characters as your doggies. :) Thanks for the fun post!

  19. KC, I knew you and May would love this post! :)

  20. Elizabeth,
    I raise Great Danes so I can't help but think of the Disney movie The Ugly Daschund.
    I think Danes would be a little difficult to take personalites from because most have scaredy-cat-Scooby traits.

    And I LOVE your cover.

    Connie Queen

  21. I love dogs, so this post was so much fun to read! Thanks for writing it Elizabeth! I'll be looking to my collie for inspiration now :)

  22. Great post, Elizabeth! (I was going to start off by saying "Seekerville has gone to the dogs" but didn't want to make anyone GROAN *wink*). I really enjoyed the way you compared your precious dogs to story characters with various traits. We really can learn a lot from our pets (as I've found out from all my cats!). ~ Would love to be entered in the drawing for your book--looks intriguing. Thank you again for sharing with us today. Blessings from Georgia, Patti Jo

  23. What a cute post! :-) Your dogs sound adorable.

  24. Oh my word, Elizabeth what an awesome postThat is exactly why your books are so can make even the post involving dogs speak to the heart. I was sorry to get to the end of it! Thanks for sharing, and the chance to win the awesome giveaway


  25. What? No pictures of the pups? No doggy profiles? I'm crushed!

    Loved this unique look at characterization! And really enjoyed you tattling on your dogs! Did they give you permission to divulge their secrets?

    Thanks for lightening my dreary Wednesday. And no need to enter me in the draw since I've already read Safe Harbor and it's a fabulous read. Loved the blending of suspense and historical. Hope that becomes a genre in its own right someday.

  26. Elizabeth,
    I could see each of those dog faces as you described them. Personally, I prefer cats, even the one my daughter has that would rather hiss than purr.
    I read "Died In The Wool" and loved it. Please enter me for the free book.

  27. Elizabeth what a fun analogy... puppies and writing.

    I love both as well, but I have to say I find puppies far more taxing that the stories I write.

    I can totally see the wallpaper... and the shoe! Bless you, what a hoot your house must be!

    We breed Golden Retrievers and Golden Doodles. I can't handle drool... Does that make me a horrible person????

    Please say 'no'.

    As May would say: This post is "Pawsome!"

  28. Love it! I can totally see EXACTLY what you mean, and I can see how that aligns with character types. Thanks for the visual!

    Congrats on your latest release--please toss my name in for the giveaway. I'd love to read it!


  29. Good morning!

    What a great way of talking about characters! Your pups sound like they keep you on your toes!

    Hard to picture those little tykes rounding up cattle! LOL.

    Thanks for the smile.

    sbmason at sympatico dot ca

  30. What fun!!! I'm crazy about doggies--and, BTW, Ruthy, I live with a drooler! But she's so wonderfully sweet that I'm willing to put up with a little slime.

    Elizabeth, I especially enjoyed your profile of Reggie, the "villain." That's a great reminder that even the villains in our stories need to be three-dimensional. Their goals and motives have to be as believable as the hero's and heroine's.

  31. Love how you describe each dogs personality; their strengths and weaknesses, you could turn this into a book.

  32. Connie Q! I miss my Danes so very much *sniff, sniff* A few weekends ago the Danes of America invaded our little town. So very hard to see all of these majestic beauties. I'd love to have more but losing them was so hard. Now I have mutts, and of course It'll be difficult when their time comes and I've quite decided that I don't think I can do anymore pets as much as I love them.

  33. Oh, yay!! I'm so glad y'all enjoyed reading about my little babies. I just got home from a tour of Bethany House in Minneapolis. Coming home to all those happy faces and doggie kisses was puppy therapy, for sure!

  34. Lyndee, have you read "Saturdays with Stella: How My Dog Taught Me to Sit, Stay, and Come When God Calls"? I bet you'd love it!

  35. KC, you're awesome. I'll take a CHEESE danish, please. LOL!

  36. Jenny, my husband's aunt had a cat that used to do the same thing! She'd hide in the branches of the Christmas tree and then maul the fire out of your hand when you reached in to get her out.

  37. Amy C, I'm so sorry about your doxie's passing! :-(

  38. Debra, I laughed when I saw your post. I'm not behind the dachshund/facebook plot, but only because I didn't think of it first.

  39. Welcome to Seekerville, Elizabeth! Comparing your dachshunds to our characters is such fun! And a valuable reminder of what we need to bring our story people alive on the page.

    Congratulations on your success!


  40. Marianne, thank you so much for your sweet encouragement! Your comment brightened my day. :-)

  41. Hi, Janet. Thank you so much. What a blessing to writing what I love with such a great team as Bethany House.

  42. Congrats to all the talented Seekers and Seekervillagers who were nominated for Romantic Times awards! It was awesome seeing so many familiar names on those lists :)

  43. Christina,

    I love danes and will probably never own any other kind of dog. Very sweet but still make great watch dogs!

    Elizabeth...this is a fun post.


  44. Hi Elizabeth!

    Your dog analogies were so much fun. There's something special about dachshunds, isn't there?

    We're down to one dog these days, and sometimes I think we need to add on to the pack...but my long-suffering husband has requested a reprieve. So it's one dog. For now :)

    I started reading your book yesterday, and my poor family almost had to do without dinner. I loved that opening chapter :)

  45. Using your post, I can say my writing has gone to the dogs. ;-)

    Love it. Love dogs. We had a dachshund with a five hundred plus year old lineage. His papers had seals from royalty. He was a beautiful long haired red.

    Thanks for the fun post and look at your four legged family members

    Tina P.

  46. Please don't enter me I already have the book in my TBR pile! I loved reading about your dogs, Elizabeth! I used to have a dachshund when I was little, they're such cute dogs. :-)

  47. What a fun post with a unique way of looking at characters -- and I mean that in a good way. They sound like some very lucky critters :-) And congrats on Bethany House!

    Nancy C

  48. Welcome to Seekerville, Elizabeth. What a fun post. How do you get anything done with so many kids in the house, lol.

  49. I'm so tickled to find this post, as I'm plotting my villain's character and needed the reminder of the sympathetic aspect. I'll keep Reggie in mind! :)

  50. This comment has been removed by the author.

  51. What is a about dogs? They make the happiest of happy stories and the saddest of sad stories.

    This analogy about your dogs will be very helpful. am going to read it again right now to make sure it sticks with me. Thanks Elizabeth.

    Your book sounds great.

  52. Dogs can really teach us a lot if we only pay attention. Your dogs must be very entertaining.
    I'd love to win a copy of No Safe Harbor. It sounds like a great book.

    Thanks for the chance.

  53. LOL :) Fun post! I enjoyed reading it! :)

    jswaks at gmail dot com

  54. That was a great post! I love the naughty innocent-eyed ones. They get me every time. I'm sure your pack is a steady source of inspiration. Thanks for making me smile!

  55. Hi Eliabeth,
    Love the pups and your blog post. So glad you could be with us in Seekerville today.

  56. I want Lexi! she sounds like my lab! :-) well the german shepherd too I guess in some ways. I mean they don't perch on my shoulders or anything :-) but my lab would always lie near me and snuggle up next to me. the shepherd used to follow me around and the lab would wait for me to settle somewhere.
    I've read books whre I'd hoped the bad guy would get a HEA - and the time I watched the movie of Oklahoma I didn't like the ending.

    and wow - I kept thinking your name looked familiar and you listed the calico california book - this is one of several books I got from the library a while back and didn't have time to read(work got too busy on night shift I guess!) then I forgot which titles I wanted to check out again. Now I remember and can see if they have it for kindle - I've been really g ood about buying for my ereader apps and I'm adjusting ...less space and bigger print!


  57. What fun! A house full of pups.

    I had a dog named Lexi and she was sweet and loving like yours--except she was a Rottweiler. :)

    nicnac63 AT hotmail DOT com

  58. Elizabeth, what wonderful 4-legged, floppy eared characters you have running around your house! I love the personality descriptions. The only thing missing is a pic of the lovely furred family : )

    Thanks for joining us in Seekerville!

  59. hey does anyone know how to contact a Love Inspired author? I went to the website and for eharlequin and found the name and brief bio and did a search online and facebook - don't see a website and looks like she only did one book for LI about 2 yrs ago. Anyways I enjoyed the book and was hoping she was going to write more but it's not looking too promising I don't think :-( I found a blog of LI authors but not all are on there - and one is missing on there who still writes so I guess it just has a certain number of authors grouped together.


  60. i love this post. a great way to break-down your characters and define them. a co-worker of mine has daschunds and i get to hear about them a lot. it's always interesting.

    always been a dog-lover over cats. a friend has a sign in her house (she's got two cats, two dogs): "Dogs love you unconditionally, cats want to see your resume"

    i'd love to be in the running for your book. love the cover.

    thanks for writing a most useful post for us today!

  61. This is a great post. We had a daschund when I was growing up. They are the best pets.

  62. Loving the dogs!!

    I'd love to read NO SAFE HARBOR thank you.

    A lot of love around today.


  63. You've got the Brady Bunch of dachshunds ~ cute post, Elizabeth!

  64. sometime we can learn a lot by watching our pets! Love to win your book! e-mail is

  65. This sounds like such a great book!!! And such a great cover! :)

    Crandallberries at gmail dot com

  66. This was a very interesting and cool way to explain your characters!!


  67. I would love to win,Enter me!!
    Thanks for the giveaway and God Bless!!
    Sarah Richmond

  68. What a fun, unique post! :-) Loved hearing about your dogs. It got me thinking about my own dogs and their quirky personalities.

    Would love to win your book!

  69. Love it! Your dachshunds and my Westies must never meet. The world is not prepared for the havoc they could wreak together!

  70. I would find it interesting to read a book with a dog as a character. I love dogs!

  71. Hi Elizabeth! A fellow Ludwig, too!

    Loved your characterization of the dogs. I feel the same way about my Boston terrier, Bazinga. I have never met a dog with more personality in one body! I could probably write several heroines based on the different aspects of her personality!

    Thanks for sharing, and I'd love to win your book!

    StephLudwig at hotmail dot com

  72. Your new book looks amazing!