Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Oh No, My Books Are Going to the Dogs!

with guest Kate James.

Now that I (hopefully) have your attention, I would like to say that I’m honored to be visiting Seekerville today. The ladies behind this blog are fantastic, and I’d like to give a special shout-out to Tina Radcliffe for inviting me.

To clear up any misconception, let’s agree on what “go to the dogs” really means. According to The Free Dictionary, it means “to become worse in quality or character” or whatever is being referred to “is becoming less successful than it was in the past.” An example provided by The Free Dictionary is: “It is sad to report that this once first-class hotel has gone to the dogs.”

Hopefully, this is NOT the case with my books or my writing, so let me offer a different perspective. I have yet to write a book that doesn’t include a dog in at least a supporting role. In many of my books, dogs are central to the story. Why do I consistently include furry, four-legged characters? If you know me personally or have connected with me on social media, the obvious answer might be because I love dogs (all critters actually, but dogs hold a special place in my heart). You wouldn’t be wrong and, admittedly, most of our dogs have made their way into my stories. But that’s not the only reason and not even the main reason. So why do I do it?

Let me answer another question first. Why do I write? I love to write and I get enjoyment and satisfaction from writing, but what motivates me is to write stories that readers find both emotionally and intellectually satisfying, with characters that are relatable and likable. If that’s the case, how do dogs factor into it? In a nutshell, I believe that four-legged characters can enrich my stories. Note that I italicized the word “can,” because if an animal is going to become a character in a story, there has to be a purpose beyond the “sweet factor.”

If done effectively, animals can draw readers in, enhance stories and help define two-legged characters. Irrespective of whether you are an animal lover or not, don’t you draw inferences about a person’s character from the way they treat animals? How do you feel when you see a firefighter rappel down a steep cliff to rescue a stranded cat? Or a woman who stops her vehicle in the middle of the road to allow safe passage for a goose and her babies? Or the man who raises a stick to strike a cowering puppy?

I might be at the extreme end of the spectrum, but if I see a severely injured person, my first-aid training kicks in and I’m able to assist with calm determination. But if I see an injured animal? I become a sniveling mess. This concerned me to a degree. Surely, I have as much or more compassion for another human being than I do for animals. If not, what’s wrong with me? I put the question to a psychologist friend. His response was that my reactions are more common than one would suspect. Many of us make an immediate emotional connection with animals. 

How do I believe this connection can be used to enrich stories? Here are a few points for consideration:

  • animals can be used to influence reader perception of the human characters, evoke emotion, add dimension, and help create conflict or resolution;
  • animals can be characters in their own right: central or supportive, heroes or villains;
  • animals can have a point of view (as examples, consider wildly successful books such as The Art of Racing in the Rain and A Dog’s Purpose); and
  • where animals are used, how they are introduced and characterized can make them endearing, comedic or emotionally charged.


Another reason I include animal characters in my books is that I receive consistent and favorable feedback from readers about my animal characters and the stories that they inhabit. Here is one more reason. Publishing is a business, after all, and are people prepared to put their money where their heart is? Are readers more likely to purchase books that feature animals? I don’t have empirical data to answer this, but I can illustrate anecdotally. 

In 2014, I submitted a proposal to Harlequin for a trilogy featuring three San Diego K-9 Unit officers, their dogs and, naturally, their love interests. The books did well, were recognized with a variety of awards (thank you very much readers/judges!) and reader response was terrific. Here is a bookplate for the trilogy . . .





When I sent back the manuscript for When I Found You, the final book in the trilogy, I have to admit to a degree of sadness. It felt as if I was saying goodbye to a number of close friends, of both the two- and four-legged variety.

When I submitted my next proposal, my editor—the incomparable Paula Eykelhof—and I had a chat about how terrific it would have been for me to write the story of rookie K-9 cop, Shannon Clemens, and her police service dog, Darwin, both introduced as supporting characters in When I Found You. Imagine my surprise and elation when the contract came back with the addition of a book I did not include in my proposal: Shannon’s story!

To repeat, publishing is a business. My publisher would not have added an extra book to my contract (how often does that happen?!), turning my K-9 trilogy into a series, if the books weren’t performing well from a commercial perspective. Readers were buying the books!

Here is an image of my new bookplate . . .




And because I couldn’t decide which dog looked cuter (yes, an example of my emotional reaction to dogs), I had to have two different styles printed!





Now it’s your turn! Do you feel animal characters enrich a story? Can you recall an animal who stole the show in a book?

To celebrate the July 1st (Happy 150th birthday Canada!) release of Home to Stay, book four in the San Diego K-9 Unit series, I will give away to one person selected randomly from everyone leaving a comment in response to this post, a K-9 Trilogy tote bag (now a collector’s item! πŸ˜‰), a signed copy of the first book in the series, When the Right One Comes Along, signed copies of The Truth About Hope and Sanctuary Cove (also featuring canine characters), and an assortment of bookmarks and bookplates. 




In addition, if anyone would like signed San Diego K-9 Unit series bookplates, please register for my newsletter here: http://www.kate-james.com/contact/, or just e-mail me at readers@kate–james.com with your mailing address and I will send one of each to you. 

Let me leave you with a picture of the canine characters from some of my books. 




The pictures of “Einstein” and “Sniff” are actually our beloved labs Logan and (sadly departed) Buster. As a final giveaway, I would love to have you post a picture on my Facebook page (www.facebook.com/katejamesbooks) of your favorite furry, four-legged pal who you think should be in a book. Post by end of day, Friday, July 7th. I will give away a signed copy of the second book in the San Diego K-9 Unit series, When Love Matters Most to one person selected randomly. Seekerville has generously offered to match my giveaway with a copy of Home to Stay to a second Villager who posts an animal picture on my Facebook page. You never know, your pal might make it into a book, too. A reader generously let me use her pup, Einstein, in The Truth About Hope! 😊 

All three winners will be announced in the Weekend Edition of Seekerville.

Thank you for joining me today at Seekerville. 

You can connect with me by e-mail (readers@kate-james.com), through my website (www.kate-james.com), my Facebook page (www.facebook.com/katejamesbooks), Twitter (@katejamesbooks) or regular mail at PO Box 446, Schomberg, ON, L0G 1T0, Canada. 

I would love to hear from you. Happy reading and writing, as the case might be!

Kate


Kate spent much of her childhood abroad before attending university in Canada. She built a successful business career, but her passion has always been literature. As a result, Kate turned her energy to her love of the written word. Kate's goal is to entertain her readers with engaging stories featuring strong, likable characters. Kate has been honored with numerous awards for her writing. 

She and her husband, Ken, enjoy traveling and the outdoors, with their beloved Labrador Retrievers, Harley and Logan.



Home to Stay (book four in the San Diego K-9 Unit series) – releasing July 1, 2017

She's bringing his son home 

A missing little boy triggers San Diego K-9 officer Shannon Clemens and her canine search-and-rescue partner into instant action. For the rookie cop haunted by a childhood tragedy, bringing Sawyer Evans's son safely home is more than a job. It's a mission she can't fail… But forging a friendship with the father is a tactical error that could compromise her first solo assignment. Yet the deepening bond between them is almost impossible to resist.

Purchase Links:

Harlequin  

Amazon  

Barnes & Noble   

iTunes  


Indigo-Chapters (Kobo)  

137 comments :

  1. The fireworks are slowly fading here as we start another day in Seekerville. The cats have come out from hiding. Poor things.

    Welcome to Seekerville, Kate. We are so thrilled to have you. So many fun things.

    I love, love, love a story with an animal and after taking two Citizen Police Academy courses and attending Writer's Police Academy (Writers Police Academy I am crazy for K-9.

    I am also crazy for Heartwarming books.

    I've brought peanut butter dog biscuits and for the rest of us, muffins and coffee (tea too).

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    1. Good morning, Tina. I'm thrilled to be here and appreciate the very warm welcome. I look forward to spending the day with you and all our visitors, and appreciate the coffee and muffin. I don't know if Harley and Logan will want to leave at the end of the day, because of those peanut butter dog biscuits!

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    2. Oh, and thank you for doing such a beautiful job formatting my post on your blog! I'd love to hear about the Writers Police Academy sometime! ;)

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    3. Oh, and I would love to tell you. It's a total blast and first timer's get a Sister's in Crime discount.

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  2. Animals in stories not only add another dimension they tend to highlight attributes of the characters. Always welcome.

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    1. I'm glad you see it that way, too, Mary! Thank you for your comment.

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  3. Hi Kate. I'm diving into Shannon's story tonight. Love this series.

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    1. I hope you will enjoy Shannon and Sawyer's--and of course, Darwin's--story!

      You have been such a wonderful supporter of Heartwarming, which we greatly appreciate. It's terrific that you're now writing for Heartwarming, too! :)

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    2. Beth Carpenter, welcome to Seekerville. Love new faces in the Village.

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  4. Welcome to Seekerville, Kate! It's so great to see you here. You know how much I've loved your San Diego K-9 Unit series. I'll admit, I'm savoring the last few chapters of HOME TO STAY because I don't want to say goodbye to Darwin. This is a fantastic story! Thanks for inviting Kate today, Tina!

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    1. It's nice to see you here, Jill, and sit back and share coffee and muffins . . . and sneak peanut butter treats to Harley and Logan!

      As you know, I greatly appreciate your support of my writing and your friendship. I hope you enjoy the rest of HOME TO STAY. I can promise a HEA for both the two- and four-legged characters!

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  5. Hi Kate! I love animals in stories, especially dogs. I too believe that animals bring a little extra to the story and shows part of the characters true character.

    Your books sounds wonderful. Thank you for the chance to win in your giveaway.

    Blessings,
    Cindy W.

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    1. I'm glad the books sound good to you, Cindy, and I'm happy to learn that you feel the same way about animals in books as I do. Frankly, I'm not sure I could write a book without an animal in it, in at least a supporting role! :D

      Good luck with the giveaway.

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  6. Thanks for this excellent post Kate, about the craft of writing and the wonderful role that animals - especially dogs- can play in novels. They can add a genuine and emotional element to plot as well as characters and you manage the balance so well in your K-9 series. I've just begun Home to Stay and it promises to be as touching and 'real' as your others.

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    1. I'm glad you like the post, Janice, and thank you for your kind words. I love the way you put the role of animals in fiction.

      I look forward to many wonderful Heartwarming books from you! :)

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    2. Janice, welcome to Seekerville! Glad to have you aboard!

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  7. Kate, you don't have to convince me that pets, especially dogs, enhance story. I just slipped my leash, no pun intended, to read a secular thriller, Lisa Gardner's "Right Behind You," and was impressed with how she wove the teenage girl's love of her dog into the story and her personality. To the extent that I was hanging off the edge of my chair, er, couch, hoping and praying not that the girl wouldn't get killed, but that the dog wouldn't.
    The best dog I ever had was a German Shepherd who lived to be 18 in people years. That is why I don't have a dog now. Too heartbreaking.
    Please enter me in the drawing!
    Kathy Bailey

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    1. Kathy, I am so sorry that you lost your pup so young. It's always heartbreaking to lose a loved one. After my husband and I had to say goodbye to our previous three dogs over the course of a few years, we didn't think we were ready for more dogs, but Logan and Harley proved us wrong. If you're interested, here's the story of how they adopted us: http://heartwarmingauthors.blogspot.ca/2014/09/a-dogs-life-by-kate-james-and.html We couldn't imagine our lives without them now.

      I chuckled about your comment about the dog not getting killed. Even when I read a book, I am the same way. My husband has accepted that I can't watch movies in which animals get hurt, even though intellectually I understand (trust and hope) they don't get hurt.

      Thank you for sharing your thoughts and good luck with the giveaway!

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    2. I can't watch "Old Yeller," and don't even get me started on "The Fox and the Hound."

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    3. We're on the same page, Kathy. (Pun intended. :)) I can watch movies where people get injured or die and I can intellectually process that it's acting and no one is hurt. I can't do the same thing with animals. The movie Eight Below is one that I just couldn't understand (or watch). It didn't help that one of our dogs was a Malamute at the time. Okay, time for me to hug Harley and Logan...or get a hug from them! :)

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  8. I don't have any dogs in my stories yet, but I do have a remarkable horse, Rebel, in my Oregon Trail/Oregon Settlement series. Character Jenny Thatcher forms a bond with the coal-black stallion, and they cross the continent together. He's the one constant in her journey. He understands her, saves her life a couple of times, and she battles people who want to take him for themselves.
    I think I'd like to add a dog to my stories, but I have to wait for the right one to come along.
    KB

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    1. I love horses, too, Kathy, and I believe they make wonderful characters in stories, as well. If there are animals in a story, they have to suit the character and fit into their lifestyle.

      Your story sounds intriguing . . . and not just because it has an animal in it! I love the horse's name, too.

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    2. Jenny has an especially strong relationship with Rebel because she doesn't trust people.

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    3. Oh, I really have to read that story. (I tend to develop much stronger attachments to animals than most people.)

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  9. Hi Kate
    I enjoy dogs in stories because I'm more of a "dog person" - not so much a "cat person", although having cats in stories is pretty fun too. A friend of mine is an animal lover and she has both cats and dogs - and a sign that reads "A dog loves you unconditionally, cats want to see a resume..."
    Our family has a rescued Akita named Kaji. She's been a wonderful dog. She's about 7 years old now and I'm noticing she's starting to grey around her muzzle. I'm hoping to post a picture of her on your facebook page, but, alas... I'm at work and must wait until I get home to post said pic.
    I would love to be in the draw for your wonderfully amazing and generous giveaway. I also need to tag your books and name so I can follow your. So many good authors... so little time *sigh*

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    1. Thank you for stopping by, despite being at work. I would love to have you share a picture of Kaji. Our black Labs are five and Harley is already showing some gray on his muzzle. He is our "old soul" though, so I suppose it's fitting that he looks the part.

      I'm glad you like the prize pack, and good luck with the giveaway!

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  10. Hi Kate,
    I've written dogs into most of my stories, and this weekend I started thinking about my next story and wondered if I should include a dog again. You answered my question. And congratulations on your series!
    Thanks so much for sharing today.

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    1. I'm glad I could help with your deliberation, Jackie! I don't know if you've found this, too, but reader reaction is always very favorable to animals in my books. I'll have to look up your books! :D

      Thank you!

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  11. Welcome to Seekerville, Kate! I love reading stories with animals in them, especially dogs. Your books sound great. I'll have to add them to my to-be-read list.

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    1. I'm thrilled to be here, and I'm grateful for the warm welcome.

      I'm glad my books sound appealing to you, and thank you for adding them to your TBR list!

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  12. Good morning, Kate! Your post today spoke to my heart. I always have dogs in my stories too. My current WIP is about a dog shelter and several of the characters are canine. They bring rich symbolism to a story and illustrate biblical principles. They even bring comic relief.

    I'm also revising a Heartwarming that features a fire accelerant sniffing dog along with his fire investigator hero. Okay, so maybe not in that order of importance, but I agree that dogs can bring out the emotion in a story.

    Please drop my name in the hat for your giveaway. Thank you for visiting the village today. I can't wait to read your series.

    ~ Renee

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    1. Renee, now I have to look up your books and add them to my TBR pile!! My heroine in THE TRUTH ABOUT HOPE works at a shelter, too. Don't you wish we could save all the homeless dogs in the world?? If you're writing about a fire-accelerant sniffing dog, you probably know that detection dogs are far more effective than technological devices. I bet that will be a terrific story. I can't recall reading a story about a detection dog with that particular specialization.

      Thank you for sharing your thoughts and good luck with the giveaway!

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  13. If you're leaving this series, what's in store next for you?

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    1. Did I say I was leaving it, Tina? People who've read HOME TO STAY have made some good guesses as to who the hero and/or heroine might be in the next book(s). Also, my October release, A PRICELESS FIND, is the second book in my Camden Falls series. You should see my to-be-written pile! :)

      What are you working on currently, Tina?

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    2. Oh, that's terrific news. I don't know why I thought it was ending. I'm delighted about this.

      I'm working on my TBR pile. I went and picked up several of yours because when I was getting the hot links from Amazon, the blurbs sucked me right in. THANK YOU FOR THAT.

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    3. Ooohhh, I like you sooo much! :D

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  14. So lovely to have you as our guest, Kate! I have been a dog lover practically since birth, and the mere thought of ever NOT having a dog as a family member . . . well, it's unthinkable. (BTW, I love cats, too, but if allowed to choose only one, I'll take a dog every time!)

    I can't say I've had a dog in every book I've written, but they do show up often. One I really had fun with was Gracie the matchmaking service dog in my upcoming Love Inspired, Her Hill Country Cowboy.

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    1. Myra, what a great idea!! A matchmaking service dog. :)

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    2. Thank you for having me here, Myra.

      You just helped me prove my own point that dogs in stories attract readers! After reading your comment, I immediately had to do a Google search for your book. I've now officially started my August TBR. I love your cover, too!

      I also agree with Sharee, about a matchmaking service dog being a fantastic idea!

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    3. Myra, a matchmaking dog sounds wonderful!

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    4. Thanks, ladies! I tried to make Gracie's matchmaking antics believable for a dog of her intelligence. Hoping I succeeded, because she sure was a fun character to write!

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    5. You've got me hooked, Myra! I'm looking forward to reading the book.

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  15. Kate, I LOVE this post and it was love at first book cover! I’m a huge dog lover (animal lover in general) and have three canine friends including a 95 pound German Shepherd named Niko, who’s my workout buddy and loveably obnoxious.

    I also write dogs and occasionally a cat, into most of my stories so I totally agree with how animals can enrich a story and show a different side to a character, like tenderness from a big burly guy. Carrie Stuart Parks has a dog in her story that helps move the plot along in The Bones Will Speak. Colleen Coble also uses a dog in Because You’re Mine that makes you detest the villain. And Irene Hannon has one in Sandpiper Cove. So yay for dogs!! 😊

    Thank you for all the wonderful giveaway opportunities and for the reminder that animals can make a story especially fabulous.

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    1. After today, I will definitely have to make more time for reading, as my TBR pile is growing rapidly. Thank you for the sharing your thoughts...and for the beautiful picture of Niko that you posted on my FB page. We had a very sweet German Shepherd, too, until we sadly lost her to cancer. Kylie came to us a puppy when my Malamute was about four years old. Being "raised" by a Mal, her behavior was more Mal-like than a Shepherd. My husband referred to her as our "Mal-adjusted" Shepherd! :)

      Good luck with the giveaway, Sharee. (I might have to add a dog toy to the prize pack! Why didn't I think of that before.)

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  16. Great post, Kate! Thanks for your visit to Seekerville. I love stories where the animal takes center stage.

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    1. Thank you, Sally. I'm glad you liked the post. Good luck with the giveaway!

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  17. Hello Kate! I'm so excited to see you here. This is such a great resource for writers. I have read your K-9 series and love them all, although I'm a little partial to When Love Matters Most. I haven't read Home to Stay yet but I can't wait.

    I love to animals in stories and like you, if something happens to one (either in real life or in fiction) I'm a mess. I've never watched the movie Marley & Me because I heard how it ends and I know I'll bawl like a baby. So I just can't.

    Hope you and you're fur babies are having a great summer!

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    1. It's great to see you here, LeAnne, and thank you for your kind comment about my books. I haven't watched Marley & Me either. My husband read the book while we were on vacation once. Picture a big, 6'3" guy tearing up over it! (Shhh...let's keep that last part a secret, okay?)

      The sun is finally shining here, so we're enjoying summer now! :) I hope you are, too.

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    2. LeAnne, I didn't watch it for the same reason! Just couldn't put myself through that.

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  18. Kate, welcome! How exciting to have a whole series with these beautiful animals!

    I've included a few animals in my stories. I love dogs and cats and have had fun adding them. But you're right about needing a purpose. For my stories, it usually it involves the animal being some sort of companion to a character (or in one case the stray cat reflected the character's feeling of being abandoned).

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    1. Thank you, Missy. I'm thrilled to be here and appreciate all the interaction. Thank you, also, for sharing your thoughts. I find the idea of a stray cat reflecting your character's feeling abandonment intriguing (and I bet highly effective). What's the title of the book?

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  19. I agree animals can bring so much to a story. I have a pup in my current wip, but I truly haven't used him to his potential yet. More just something mentioned occasionally. Thanks for the reminder of how to use animals to bring out the character's personalities, as well as the animal's.

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    1. Puppies, especially, can be so much fun to write. One of my favorite four-legged characters to write was Einstein in THE TRUTH ABOUT HOPE.

      If I was able to help with the animal character in your WIP, even just a little, it makes me very happy!

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  20. Hi Kate:

    Welcome!

    I'm deep into "When I Found You" and loving it!

    When I was in the Air Force K-9 section my first dog was named Scout. He was a 134 pound Northern Shepherd, largely orange and yellow in color, and so barrel chested he looked like a friendly lion. The other dogs were about 98 pounds. None of the other dogs picked fights with him in the training grounds or on the troop truck as they did with each other.

    My second dog, Quador, looked like your Scout. He was a genius, a pedigree beauty, who had a glossy reddish undercoat. At 98 pounds he could stand, place is paws on my shoulders, and look me right in the eye. He was so smart he knew when I was trying to teach him a trick and he would even help me teach him. I don't think it ever took more than an hour to teach him any new trick!

    You ask why pets are so popular in romances. There are many reasons.

    1. dogs are part of 44% of American families! (ASPCA figures). In addition, there are many families that would love to have a dog but don't. It is said we read fiction to live other lives...I think we can do the same thing with having other pets!

    2. dogs offer unconditional love...in this they are more god-like than humans. ("Why can't men be more like women?", the tearful heroine asked her Shih Tzus."They could never be so catty." :) That's a K-9 joke.)

    3. dogs 'see' the real human inside and are not impressed by outer appearances.

    4. dogs offer the writer a way to show the character revealing inner thoughts by talking to the dog. Much better than more internal dialogue.

    5. dogs can foreshadow future events in a more precise manner than inorganic events.

    6. dogs can think and take action that might not be possible for a human.

    7. dogs can 'see' things the character should be seeing but does not want to see.

    8. dog senses are very useful in mysteries as dogs can hear and smell up to 250 times better than a human. Dogs can also detect movement many times better than a human even if they don't see very well otherwise.


    Have I read a book where the pet stoled the show? Maybe. I think all the "Cat Who..." mysteries have the cats stealing the show, however, can you really steal the show if you are the show?

    BTW: Did you take you K-9 names from real police departments? I'm pretty sure I read about a Nitro and a Boomer in actual Oklahoma news stories. Of course, with bombs I'm not sure you'd want the Boomer sooner!

    Vince

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    1. Hello, Vince. First, let me say that I am truly grateful for your (and your K-9 partners') service. I'll reiterate that what I did learn through my research is that K-9 handlers and their dogs have one of the most dangerous jobs in law enforcement/slash military, so I'll also add a huge thank you for the job that you did.

      Especially with your background, I am so glad that you are enjoying WHEN I FOUND YOU. Thank you for choosing to read it.

      I spent considerable time with a handler/trainer at York Regional Police in Ontario, and I did name some of my dogs after actual service dogs. Nitro is the name of an actual police dog, and Scout is the name of one of the detection dogs working at the Toronto airport. I still have to use the name "Storm." Storm is an actual YRP black German Shepherd and specializes in searches and narcotics detection.

      By the way, in one of my "day jobs," I had the privilege of working with members of the Canadian military and peacekeepers on some projects. It was a thrill to meet some of Canada's "top guns" and get into a CF-18! I'll post a couple of pics on my FB page, if you are interested in seeing them.

      I would love to see pictures of your K-9 partners, if you wouldn't mind posting them.

      Thank you for all the additional and compelling reasons dogs are popular in fiction!

      ...and happy reading!

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    2. Hi Kate:

      Thanks for your warm and welcome reply.

      You might be interested to know that there were two Canadian military guys in our K-9 class. We envied them. They got paid more, had their laundry paid for, had very good and low priced cigarettes and they could QUIT at any time if they paid back the cost of their training. They were great ambassadors for Canada.

      I'd love to post some pictures of my two dogs, especially showing how much bigger Scout was standing next to the other dogs. However, all those pictures are in a huge storage unit with decades of other stuff all around them. If you can hold the offer open, I'll poke around trying to find those old Air Force pictures.

      I really like reading about other service dogs that have different duties than our attack dogs. I'm glad you've written a lot of books and that you are a dog fan.

      Vince

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    3. Hello, Vince. I have to close the post-a-pic-of-your-dog giveaway end of day today, but I would still love to see pics of your dogs when you have time to find them. As I said, I am hugely grateful to those who serve out countries and protect us, four-legged ones included. It means a lot to me that you are reading/enjoying my book.

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  21. hi kate i couldn't get thru the day wothout my pups i have rsd disease of the nerves and they are home with me and they are on my lap and always giving me loves. we live in a rural area so they are my company!

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    1. Thank you for sharing your story. Dogs are truly amazing. I didn't even touch on all the wonderful things they do as service dogs from a healthcare perspective and for people suffering from ailments such as PTSD. I'm so glad your pups bring you comfort.

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    2. ptclayton! Welcome to Seekerville. Please make yourself and your pups at home.

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  22. Welcome to Seekerville, Kate!

    And, yes, I use animals in my stories. In Claiming Mariah, the loner cat that the heroine tries to befriend has had a hardscrabble life much like the hero, so the stories are kind of parallel.

    In Stealing Jake, former street kid now running an orphanage, Livy has a fear of dying in childbirth because of a horrific incident in her past on the streets of Chicago.

    In the dead of winter, the boys at the orphanage rescue a cat and she's about to have kittens. Livy is a total basket case as she stays up all night praying and worrying over that cat having her kittens.

    Animals crop up in most of my books, but these two seem to have gotten the most "stage time". :)

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    1. Thank you, Pam. I'm so grateful for the very warm welcome from everyone, and I'm thrilled to be here!

      Oh, my gosh! Those are two more books I just added to my growing TBR pile! Thank you for introducing me to them.

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  23. Did I set out a water dish for our four legged pals. OOPS, sorry guys. Doing that now!

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    1. You're so considerate, Tina! Harley and Logan are doing full-body wags for you right now. They love to soak up the sunshine, and with their black fur they can get hot and thirsty fairly quickly.

      With all this amazing response, I wouldn't be surprised if they tried to hang around an extra day or two after I say goodbye to everyone!

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  24. I love dogs! I love other animals, but I love dogs most of all.

    I have a pet German Shepherd named Riley and a Teddy Bear puppy (a Shih-tzhu, bichon mix) named Zoey.

    I put a lot of animals in my stories. In my first book I have a tamed grey wolf named Perseus. I have a character who has a pet dragon. I also have two characters who are werewolves. Who said anything about REAL animals?

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    1. Me, too, Nicki. And I didn't say anything about the animals having to be real. Emotionally, I react the same way to werewolves or dragons or . . . you name it!

      I would love to see pictures of Riley and Zoey, if you have a moment to post them on my FB page.

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    2. I don't actually have Facebook. Sorry.

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    3. I'm sure they're beautiful and obviously well-loved pups, Nicki!

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  25. Three cheers for critters in stories! I particularly like when an animal to which many people have an aversion, such as a skunk, wins hearts by the end of the story.

    When I think of the impact an animal can have on a story the first books that come to mind are the "Flicka" series. It was fascinating to watch Ken mature as Flicka's life, and later that of Flicka's son, affected Ken's.

    Thanks for a fun, informative post, Kate!

    Nancy C

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    1. Ooohhhhh, Nancy, I loved Flicka! Thank you for bringing back a very pleasant memory!

      I also love the idea of a skunk winning hearts. I wish you would have suggested that before I wrote Sanctuary Cove, because a skunk would have been perfect as part of Emma's menagerie...with your permission for me to use the idea, of course!

      I'm glad you enjoyed the post, Nancy. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and ideas!

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  26. I love, love, LOVE dogs (and critters of all kind) in stories. I'm dogless for the first time in 25 years so I'm living vicariously through fictional canines right now. And I love K-9 novels -- and service or therapy dogs too. Just like in real life, you can tell a lot about a person by the way they interact with animals.

    One of my favourite fictional dogs is Oliver, the French Bulldog sidekick in Isabella Alan's 'An Amish Quilt Shop Mystery' series. They are great, quirky cozies and Oliver is part of the reason they are so quirky! I smile just thinking about that goofy dog.

    I'm hanging my head in shame here because I haven't read any Heartwarming novels yet. Gasp! I know. I'm awful! But Carrie over at Reading is My SuperPower has convinced me of the error of my ways so I'll be reading some Heartwarming soon. :-)

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    1. It's never too late to start reading Heartwarming books, and I can think of a couple of really good ones with dogs (and other critters) in them that you could start with (nudge, nudge, wink, wink).

      Speaking of (or typing about) Carrie at Reading is My SuperPower, I bet she'd vote for dogs in books. Her pup, Zuzu, had interviewed our pups, Harley and Logan (http://readingismysuperpower.org/2017/01/25/zuzu-interviews-kate-james-dogs-harley-logan/) and Zuzu often weighs in on the books to in Carrie's reviews (http://readingismysuperpower.org/2017/03/07/book-review-sanctuary-cove-kate-james/). If we get four paws from Zuzu (after all, four is the most she can give), we're thrilled.

      Good luck with the giveaway...and you might have a chance sooner rather than later to read a couple of Heartwarming books!

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  27. Dogs in books ALWAYS get my vote! (And Zuzu's too!) So fun to see you over here on Seekerville, Kate!! (waves at Kav too)

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    1. I guess I have to keep writing dogs in my books! :) I hope I'll get a chance to visit with you next week during my Prism Book Tours blog tour for HOME TO STAY!

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  28. Welcome to Seekerville, Kate!

    I love all animals, but dogs and horses are at the top of my list. In my current WIP my heroine is a veterinarian, and the hero comes to see her and is "attacked" by eight furry puppies. Death by puppies! What a way to go!

    I don't have any animals in my life right now, but have had them all while growing up.

    I feel the same way as you about Eight Below. I recently bought a copy from at a garage sale just to have it in my video library, but I haven't been able to bring myself to watch it again. I don't think my heart could take it!

    Please enter my name...I've read a few Heartwarming novels, and I always love adding to my TBR pile. You can NEVER have enough books!

    Blessings,

    Marcia

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    1. Thank you for the warm welcome, Marcia! I'm thrilled to be here.

      Yes, horses are at the top of my list, too, with dogs...and, well, probably a dozen other animals. Did I mention I like bears? Bart the black bear used to be a regular visitor at our cottage.

      Death by puppies?!?! That would be the way I would want to go, too.

      I've had two veterinarians in my books. The heroine in the second book in the San Diego K-9 Unit series was a veterinarian, and the hero in Sanctuary Cove is a veterinarian. It's hard not to love someone who dedicates their life to caring for animals, in my opinion!

      As for Eight Below, I'll refrain from saying more than I would never, EVER leave my dogs.

      Good luck with the giveaway!

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    2. Marcia, I love the "death by puppies" attack for your wip. Too funny. Makes me think of what my hubby and I always claim. We always say that when we die instead of being greeted at the gate by St Peter, we'll be greeted by a pack of dogs. (All the dogs we've loved in our lifetime-smile)

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    3. Yes, Sandra! I look forward to being greeted by the pups we've loved!

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  29. Welcome to Seekerville, Kate! Your stories sound as great as your covers look! I've had horses, dogs and kittens in my stories, even used a family of ducks to illustrate a point. My books are set in the past so few of the animals lived inside, as today's pets mostly do. Still they enriched the stories, revealed the good in even the crabbiest codger.

    I love my grand dogs. I'm allergic. Must do a lot of hand washing between petting sessions. Might be fun to use an allergic pet owner in a book. :-)

    Janet

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    1. Thank you, Janet, for the welcome and your kind comment about my books.

      I'm so sorry you have an allergy to dogs, but I'm glad that you're able to make it work with your grand-dogs. When I was in university, I had two Huskies, and one summer I thought I'd developed an allergy to them. Since I would never give up my dogs, I was resigned to the fact that I would simply have to live with the sneezing/coughing/watery eyes. To this day I don't know what had triggered the reaction but, thankfully, it turned out not to be my pups. They spent a wonderful 15 1/2 and nearly 16 years, respectively, with me.

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    2. Kate, I'm so glad you weren't allergic to dogs and your pups had such long lovely lives! I've taken shots with dogs and cats in the mix so I'm sure that's helped. But I have to be careful as my grand dogs sometimes trigger coughing, my asthma symptom.

      Janet

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    3. Janet, there are certain dogs that are hypoallergenic! Here's a list of some that are: http://www.petwave.com/Dogs/Breeds/Hypoallergenic.aspx (Nudge, nudge, wink, wink!! :))

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  30. KATE ... WELCOME TO SEEKERVILLE!! And I have to say that I love this blog today because like you, I love dogs.

    So much so that I had a dog in my first nine books, which really helped me to add depth to the characters and the family I was writing about.

    In one of my series, I used the dog as a means of poking fun at the secondary hero because the cranky cook who disliked the hero talked the kids into naming the bulldog after him, claiming both had intestinal problems (aka gas).

    But my favorite animal was a sarcastic parrot that the kids taught to taunt various people. Had a lot of fun with that one!

    My husband and I have had two goldens over the years, but it so broke our hearts after the last one died, that we have shied away from another pet right now, but hopefully someday again.

    Hugs!!
    Julie

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    1. Opps. I had my comment half completed and it seemed to have disappeared into cyberspace.

      Thank you for the warm welcome, Julie! I'm so happy you enjoyed the post.

      I love the idea of a sarcastic parrot. I bet the parrot could and would say things that the kids wouldn't dare. Am I correct?

      I'm sorry for your loss. I've had to say goodbye to a number of dogs, and each time I've been devastated. It was my husband (who was equally heartbroken) who recalled a quote from Shadowlands: "Why love, if losing hurts so much? . . . The pain now is part of the happiness then. That's the deal." When we had to say goodbye to our last three pups, neither one of us thought we were ready, but Harley and Logan proved us wrong when we met them, and they adopted us.

      I hope you are able to share your life with another dog (or two) someday.

      Thank you for sharing your thoughts. Now, I'm off to look up your books! :)

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  31. I've really enjoyed your K-9 novels,Kate,as well as the books with non K-9 dogs. You always find interesting tidbits to add via animals, as if your stories weren't already intriguing enough! I'm an animal lover too, although sometimes I'd rather admire them from a distance!

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    1. Welcome to Seekerville dalesittonrogers! Glad to have you in the Village.

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    2. Thank you for your kind words about my books and for stopping by, Dale. I appreciate your support of my writing, and I look forward to your next work!

      There are certain animals that I prefer to admire from afar, too! :)

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  32. I like slipping my pets in here and there, but I don't think I've ever given a main role to an animal. I'll have to consider it.

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    1. The dogs in my San Diego K-9 Unit series tend to take an a more dominant role, because they are part of the law-enforcement team, but in most of my books they have a lesser role. Thank you for sharing your thoughts, Boo.

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  33. Kate, Heartwarming are much longer books than Love Inspired. Are there subplots in these books?

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    1. Heartwarming books used to be around 75 K words and are now in the range of 70K (although I admit I go over sometimes!). We have a fairly free rein with the plots, and if we wish to include subplots, but Victoria Curran and the editors have been terrific at challenging us to create as much tension and conflict as we can, and we do often have subplots. Phew, that's a long sentence that I would have edited myself before I'd sent it in, in a manuscript! ;)

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  34. Well done, Kate!

    I love seeing animals in stories. Cats, dogs, birds, horses have all stolen the show in a good way.

    Please enter me in your great drawing.

    May God bless you and all of Seekerville!

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    1. Phyllis, thank you! I appreciate your thoughts about critters in books.

      Good luck with the giveaway and happy reading!

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  35. As a reader, I love animals in books! I think the most unique animal was a goat named Daisy, so naughty you couldn't help but fall in love with her :-) Another one was a mule (can't remember the name now). I think they add a unique layer that only animals can and bring out the human characters even more!

    I can recall a book series where the dogs stole the show :-) Dana Mentink has a wonderful three book set called "Love Unleashed". Each one features a different dog and brings each unique characteristic to life. Funny & whimsical stories with a deeper meaning and of course a bit of romance. She had me cracking up with all the antics & mischief these dogs created! You should check them out, Kate if you ever had time to read :-)

    I also love the Love Inspired Suspense K-9 series books. They feature some wonderful dogs! The authors have done their research when it comes to portraying realistic roles they play. I also like the search and rescue dogs.

    There are so many possibilities with all kinds of animals in books to create a rich layer to stories, I think ;-)

    I would love to be in the draw for the signed books, thanks for the chance! What a fun topic today :-)

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    1. Thank you for sharing your thoughts, Trixie. I love the idea of different animals being in books.

      I also have to say that Dana is not only an exceptional author, but she's a super-nice person, too! I love her posts on Facebook about her dog, Junie.

      Good luck with the giveaway!

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    2. Oh yes she is for sure Kate! I happen to be a part of her street team (early read team) and thus have read most of her books. I think her last book "Paws for Love" was loosely based on Junie her little terrier...lol! Some of the things she posts on her Facebook page are quite hilarious, aren't they? Did you know, she's also a third grade teacher (or was?). I think you'd have to have a wonderful sense of humor working with small children like that! I would love to meet her one day...I live in Oregon and she lives in California so it wouldn't be too long of a flight :-) I think her humor is contagious :-)

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    3. Awww! Thanks for the shout out! You are a darling, Trixi and yes, Junie is hilarious (when she is not eating my Post-it notes!) I agree with you Kate, that dogs can add so much to a story, but they do have to be characters in their own right, not added to up the "cute" factor. Your labs are adorbs, BTW!

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    4. Thanks for stopping by, Dana. I'll go out on a limb here and say, I'm not sure that whole post-it-note thing is entirely the adorable Junie's fault! ;)

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    5. . . . and I do love your books, Dana!

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  36. Great post, Kate! One of my books features a dog as basically a supporting character. Since I'm actually scared of dogs (strange dogs, not my grandpuppies) in real life I was a bit worried about whether I could do a convincing job of portraying a lovable four-legged character. Thankfully, I've gotten good feed back on him from contest judges, so I'm glad I gave it a go. Thanks for such a fun post. Your books sound so interesting!

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    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    2. Awww, thank you, Laura. I have to ask . . . are you afraid of dogs because you had a bad experience? When I was in Austria as a child, a person had his dog attack me. Even as a child, I understood that it wasn't a bad dog; it was a mean person. To this day, I believe there are no mean dogs.

      I'm so happy for you for the positive feedback you are getting on you MS. I wish you the very best with it! :)

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    3. Yes, a bad moment with a strange dog, but I was not bitten - just scared senseless. Luckily, owner stepped in just in the nick of time. I'm very wary now. And in my book, the heroine approaches a strange dog - I didn't want her to be scared. I'll give her some of my flaws, but not that one :-) Btw, I LOVE so many dogs, including a spoiled-rotten Jack Russell terrier (granddog) who pretty much thinks the world revolves around his wants and wishes :-) Thanks again for such an interesting read!

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    4. Again, I am sorry you had such a traumatic experience as a child, Laura. My heroine in WHEN I FOUND YOU is also afraid of dogs at the outset of the story because of an experience she had as a child. The ending has an interesting twist because of this. I'll leave that as a teaser! ;)

      I'm very glad you found the post interesting, Laura, and thank you again for sharing your comments!

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  37. Hi Kate and welcome to Seekerville. Wow and with my favorite "characters" I think I have a pet in all of my books also. It just comes naturally to an animal lover, doesn't it? I really love your stories and am delighted that Heartwarming supports our furry friends. They have published many with dogs. Yay!!!

    Thanks for sharing your experiences with us and for being here. It is always fun to meet favorite authors. Enjoy.

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    1. Thank you, Sandra. I'm so happy to be here and I'm glad you've enjoyed some of my books!

      There have been a lot of interesting animal characters in Heartwarming books. As one example, Rula Sinara never disappoints with her amazing stories with elephants and monkeys, set in the Serengeti. Carol Ross's books have also featured some truly heartwarming furry, four-legged characters. I have to give a special shout-out to Catherine Lanigan and Loree Lough for truly exceptional animal characters, too.

      I now have your books to add to my TBR pile, too, Sandra!

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  38. Congratulations on the success Kate! I will admit, when I was younger we had dogs that I loved, but I have yet to own one as an adult with my own family. I can get a little hesitant around other's dogs at first (bit by a dog when I was younger doing my paper route), but once I get to know one I am all good. I love reading books that have dogs or animals in them, especially with promenate roles, as I do feel they can add a good dynamic to the books. I would love to win the prize for my grandmother (she loves Heartwarming books, but being in her 80s does not get on the internet)!

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    1. Laura! Thank so much for stopping by the Village.

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    2. As Tina said, thank you for stopping by, Laura! I am so sorry you had such a bad experience when you were a child. I was also bitten by a dog when I was young, but even then I realized that it was the owner's not the dog's fault.

      Thank you for your comments. Please send me an e-mail at readers@kate-james.com with your grandmother's name and address, and it would be my great pleasure to send her a signed copy of THE TRUTH ABOUT HOPE. [Shhhh....please don't let anyone else know! ;) ]

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  39. Kate, you've been a fabulous hostess. Thank you for spending the day with us. There will be a few evening peeps and a few in the am who get us by Feedblitz. But i don't want to steal your evening too. We wish you continued success. Come back and visit any time.

    I'll touch base re your winners on Friday afternoon. XX

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    1. Harley and Logan have been very patient with me today . . . knowing it's for a good reason . . . because DOGS RULE, but I better give them (and my husband :)) some attention now.

      Thank you for having me here today, Tina. I've really enjoyed it! YOU are a wonderful hostess!!

      And HUGE thanks to everyone who has stopped by and offered their thoughts! I will be back to respond to any other comments that are posted.

      THANK YOU VERY MUCH!

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  40. THE LOVE OF A DOG!

    I've seen this video clip before and it just appeared in my feed. Clearly I was meant to share it. It brings tears to my eyes, and I bet it might to yours, too.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JA8VJh0UJtg

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  41. I am quicker to read a book that has animals in it and I love them on the covers. I'm a covers kind of gal and a cover can draw me right in. I don't like when they get hurt, though I know that is life. I don't like it in real life either. Animals in books are a big yes for me!!

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    1. Thank you for sharing your thoughts, Judy. I can assure you that the critters in my books have their own happy endings, too, because I'm like you. I don't like it when they get hurt, and they're a big YES for me, too.

      Good luck with the giveaway!

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    2. Welcome to Seekerville, Judy!

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  42. With that enticing title, I had to stop by to say hi! The 'dog' book that impressed me the most was Racing in the Rain. But I love any books featuring dogs. Congrats on yours!

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    1. Thank you for stopping by, Lyndee, and thank you very much. I'm glad we got your attention! :)

      I had a hard time getting through the first chapter of the book because of what was happening, but I loved The Art of Racing in the Rain.

      Best wishes for a terrific day!

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  43. Sometimes they make the story better. Provide comic relief. Sometime they are key in search and rescue. I am an animal lover... I have had dogs since I was little. I couldnt have cats because of a pet allergy. So have had (2) beagles (RIP), a cocker spaniel/ poodle mix (2), a poodle (rip), (2) Chihuahua's, a terrier mix (rip) and a pomerainian.

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    1. Thank you for visiting Seekerville, Beverly. It's nice to see you here. You've had a lot of four-legged love in your life!

      Good luck with the giveaway, and I hope you'll have a wonderful day.

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    2. So happy to have you stop by our Village, Beverly S

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  44. I love dogs in stories. I think my favourite is Rolo, Ian's dog in the Outlander series.

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    1. I'm glad to hear you like dogs in stories, Erryn! :)

      I wish you luck with the giveaway and thank you for visiting Seekerville.

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    2. Welcome to Seekerville, Erryn!

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  45. Both my current novels and my WIP have dogs in them. In my contemporary (hopefully to release next year) Brutus is a service dog. a Shepherd/pit mix. I modeled him after my son's Pit Bull. Kreeper, who is gentle and seeming to understand what you're saying. People have stereotyped Pit Bulls and even Shepherds as violent not be be trusted. I'm hoping readers will love Brutus and have a different perspective on these large breeds. Put my name in the drawing for your books.

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    1. I'll have to watch for your book, Jubilee. I bet Brutus will be a wonderful character!

      I agree with your comment about people stereotyping breeds. I haven't met a bad dog...only bad owners.

      Thank you for sharing your thoughts and good luck with the giveaway!

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    2. Hi Jubileewriter:

      The name Brutus is also a bad stereotype! The word brut! Brutus killed Caesar. I'd suggest giving him an heroic name...maybe Hercules. Just a suggestion. Also love dogs in stories.

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  46. All of Kate's books with her dogs as important characters are so good. Her latest story kept me up all night to find out the end. Looking forward to whatever's next in the works.

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    1. Awww . . . thank you very much, Roz. I'm glad you enjoyed HOME TO STAY, and that's high praise coming from an author I admire so much!

      Thank you for stopping by and commenting.

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  47. This comment comes from Harlequin Executive Editor, Paula Eykelhof! Thanks for stopping by Paula, and I'm sorry Blogger was rude.


    I actually tried to enter a comment yesterday, but it seems to have disappeared! I'm impressed with the emotional depth, compassion toward both animals and people (and, often, humor!) reflected in so many of these comments. Kate did an excellent job explaining the roles of animals in stories. Ultimately, I think we can all agree that it's about connection--between us and the animals who live with us. Between us and the natural world. Connection and responsibility.
    I know from my experience as an editor and from the readers I've heard from over the years that animals (especially dogs) are highly popular in romance and other fiction. As Kate described, they contribute to story elements--plot, characterization, theme, even setting.
    Characters' relationships with animals and their treatment of them definitely affect readers' reactions to those characters. (Same, of course, is true in life!) Animals can help people (in life and in stories) connect with each other--and help determine readers' connections with particular characters.
    Large Cat Logan is lying beside the computer. He feels there's too much talk about dogs, not enough about cats. He'd like to see a story featuring a handsome (mostly) Maine Coon. OK, OK, if you have to include a dog, fine, but he'd like to be on the cover...
    Thanks, Kate, for making the dogs (and a cat or two) in your books such real characters in their own right, writing about them with understanding, realism and love, and without sentimentality!

    Paula Eykelhof

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    1. Paula, thank you so much for stopping by! I'm sorry your comment wouldn't post. Large Cat Logan's comment made me smile. Sounds like something my cat would say about my dog. :)

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    2. Thank you for stopping by and taking the time to leave a comment, Paula. I can't imagine you and I working on a book together that didn't feature at least one furry, four-legged character!

      As for feline Logan, thinking back, I believe he might have mentioned to canine Logan in one of their e-mail exchanges that I had to be more diverse in my writing. CL passed on the message and that's how Ariana in WHEN I FOUND YOU ended up with a cat. Huge thanks to FL who, through CL, pointed out the error of my ways, focusing only on dogs! :)

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  48. Kate, I love it when an animal figures prominently in a plotline and your comnent sbout being able to offer first aid to humans but not to animals was especially on the mark. The only difference is that I can read a story or see a movie about an adult dying and eve NM though I am touched, I remain dry-eyed. Let a dog die and I am a hot-mess!
    Thsnks and please enter me in the drawing.
    Connie
    cps1950(at)gmail(dot(com)

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    1. Thank you for this comment, Connie! I'm glad to know I'm not the only one who reacts like that!!

      I appreciate you taking the time to leave your comment, and good luck with the draw!

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  49. Kate!

    Love your topic. Caught our eye immediately.
    Congratulations on all your success too, with your K-9 stories.

    There's a reason TV commercials featuring dogs (and to a lesser extent cats) do well, so we hear.

    May sends her best sniffs and greetings from across the Bridge. Cass continues in her BIG pawsteps.

    Keep up the pawsome work, and happy Canada Day. 150!!!

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    1. I'm glad the post got your attention. Best wishes for a terrific weekend, and full-body wags to May and Cass from Harley and Logan!

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