February 16, 2012

Three Cheers for Four-Legged Matchmakers

Three Cheers for Four-Legged Matchmakers...
or Why My Books Feature Canine Cupids
by Marcia James

 
February is all about romance, thanks to Valentine's Day, but it's also Responsible Pet Owner's Month. So what better time to discuss Canine Cupids? Don't you just love it when an animal character brings together the hero and heroine in a romance novel? I'm not talking about werewolves or other shape-shifters. Just every-day, garden-variety matchmaking cats and dogs. Of course, Smokey, my Chinese crested hairless dog mascot, would object to being called a garden-variety anything. He's very proud of the fact that, in my books, he and his cousins continue to work their magic when it comes to introducing or reuniting soul mates.

Every novel or novella I write includes a Chinese crested hairless dog (or "crestie"), along with other pets. I especially love pairing a big Alpha hero with a tiny crestie sidekick. Sex & the Single Therapist (S&ST), the first in my "Dr. Ally Skye, Sex Therapist" comic romantic mystery series, features a crestie, two mellow cats, and a mixed-breed canine shedding machine named Marty, who plays an important role in the mystery plot.

 
Fictional heroes and heroines show their softer sides around their pets — a humanizing characterization device Hollywood scriptwriters call "petting the dog." A fine example of this is the movie, As Good As It Gets, in which the curmudgeon (Jack Nicholson) falls for the little dog. In S&ST, the hero (Detective Zack Crawford) is gruff and all-business until we see him open his heart and his home to Marty. Like Marty, all of my fictional animal characters are homeless — rescued from the streets or adopted from shelters — and their owners spay or neuter them, as responsible pet owners should.


 
Animal adoption is such an important cause, especially when so many animals are homeless due to the economy and house foreclosures. In 2009, I contributed an animal-themed story, "Rescue Me," to author Lori Foster's benefit anthology, Tails of Love. So far, this book has raised over $10,000 for Animal Adoption Foundation (AAF), a no-kill animal shelter in Ohio. This popular anthology, which Berkley reissued in December 2011, offers ten romantic tales featuring four-legged matchmakers. The author advances and royalties for Lori's as-yet-untitled, June 2012 benefit anthology will also support AAF.

In my Tails of Love story (and the majority of the others), the matchmaking four-legged characters don't have their own POV (point-of-view). Readers don't get to see what the animals are thinking; the POVs are saved for the two-legged characters. However, several of the stories do feature animals whose "internal dialogue" is on the page, bringing the reader into the animal's POV. We can see why the dog or cat is doing what it's doing.

From the anthology's reviews and reader feedback, I learned that people either love or really dislike animal characters who have their own POVs. There doesn't seem to be a middle ground. It's an interesting phenomenon. Personally, I've always enjoyed mysteries and romances with thinking and sometimes talking animals. For example, quite a few cozy mysteries feature feline amateur sleuths, such as the "Midnight Louie" series by Carole Nelson Douglas. And I love Spencer Quinn's "Chet & Bernie" mysteries, which are told 100% from the point-of-view of Chet, a very amusing canine detective.

Speaking of talking animals, one of my favorite funny YouTube videos features a chatty dog being teased by his owner. Here's the link, if you'd like to check it out: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nGeKSiCQkPw

So, do you enjoy books, movies, or television shows with animal POVs? Do you like hearing Fido's and Kitty's thoughts? If you do, what books, etc do you recommend featuring animals' internal dialogue?

I'll pick several people randomly from the comments on today's guest blog to receive a free e-book of my first comic romantic suspense, At Her Command -- featuring none other than Smokey himself!

Happy Reading!
-- Marcia James
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23 comments:

  1. I'm excited that you're here, Marcia. Thanks for hanging out on Romance Lives Forever with me!

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  2. Hi, Kayelle! Thanks for having me on your blog! I love the jewels in your blog header. Reminds me of one of my favorite slot machines in Vegas. ;-)

    -- Marcia ;-)

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  3. LOL! I grew up in Henderson NV, right outside Vegas. I haven't been back in too many years. Will have to look up that slot machine. Nothing says forever like a gem -- so when I wanted something to represent a romance that lives forever, it didn't take long to find a great image.

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  4. I've been to Henderson several times. There seems to be a lot of nice family suburbs in that area. Most people think of Vegas as a gambling town and a retirement community, but there are lots of families, too.

    The name of the slot machine is DaVinci Diamonds. And here (if the blog will let me post it) is a link to a YouTube video showing the slot game: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yt04mN5rq7c

    I have to admit that while it's fun to play, I haven't hit any big jackpots on it.

    -- Marcia ;-)

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  5. Hi Marcia! I'm so glad to see you visiting Kayelle's blog. I remember meeting you at the Lori Foster Readers Luncheon a few years ago. You were so friendly and fun to talk to, and I still have the mini handcuffs you were giving away!

    I really love the fact that you include critters in your books. It's a definite draw for me. I certainly enjoy critter POV's, but I think it's more entertaining when animals are given human-like characteristics and interact as though they understand it all. Like being match-makers!

    I'm also super glad to see the re-release of Tails of Love and to hear another is scheduled to come out this year. What a wonderful cause to be a part of.

    Looking forward to reading Sex and the Single Therapist!

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  6. Oh wow. I watched that and my eyes went glassy. I can see why it wouldn't pay off. There are so many variables! I didn't know you lived in the Vegas area. Or... maybe I forgot. My memory's not so hot, but I have a wonderful forgettery. I went to high school in Henderson, and lived there until I joined the Navy, where I met Mr. Right and sort of settled down. Three of my four sisters live in the Vegas valley. The area is one of my favorite places to vacation. I love the mountains, the wild mustangs and burros, and enjoy rock hunting in the local arroyos. Plus there's never a lack of something to do at any time of the day, and dining out is a good bargain. Next time I get home, we should go have coffee!

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  7. Hey, Monica! *waves madly* For those who don't know, Ms McCabe is my niece, and an author in her own right, so I'm always tickled when she happens by the blog.

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  8. Hi, Monica! That is so cool that we met and you still have my thumbcuff keychain! ;-) Will you be at Lori's event this June? I'd love to see you there! By the way, I didn't know you were related to Kayelle.

    I, too, enjoy it when animals are given human characteristics. I think they add so much to a book, TV show or movie. I'm thinking of going to the movie, The Artist, just to see the Jack Russell terrier. ;-)

    I can't wait to get Lori's 2012 benefit anthology. This year, there will be 6 novellas vs 10 short stories, and the donating authors are really talented.

    -- Marcia ;-)

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  9. Kayelle -- I don't live in Las Vegas (although I would love to). I visit it at least once a year, and I have done so for over 20 years. My husband has an annual convention out there, and we also enjoy vacationing in Vegas. We have friends who retired there, and we've played golf on some of the courses west of the Las Vegas Strip.

    I live in central Ohio, and I would love to do coffee with you if you ever find yourself in my neck of the woods.

    -- Marcia ;-)

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  10. The offer extends to you if you're ever in the Atlanta area! I would love to meet you and hang out. I won't be at Lori's get together this year, but plan to go next year, so maybe we'll meet then.

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  11. I wish I could go to Lori Foster's event this June. However, we will be vacationing out west. We're doing the Grand Circle...Zion, Bryce, & Grand Canyon National Parks. Planning a hot air balloon ride over Bryce's Kodachrome Basin. I can't hardly wait!!

    Maybe I can find a way to put that in a story...with a critter of course.

    Waving back...Hi Aunt K... :~)

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  12. Oh, Monica that sounds fun. I want to do that! Well, not sure about the balloon ride. Sounds a little scary. I'm not crazy about heights, but still... wow. What a trip!

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  13. Kayelle -- I appreciate the offer and will remember it the next time I'm in Atlanta. Isn't RWA going to be in Atlanta next year?

    I think I've been to every one of Lori's Get-togethers, so I definitely plan on being there in 2013. Hope to see you there!

    -- Marcia ;-)

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  14. Monica -- that sounds like an amazing trip! I think you should definitely use it for research and write it off your taxes. ;-)

    By the way, thanks for Friending me on Facebook and for sharing the link about this guest-blog!

    I'm headed downstairs to get some more caffeine. Have a great day!
    -- Marcia ;-)

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  15. Kayelle -- I got an email saying you left a comment here about ManageFlitter, but I don't see it (or understand it). Sorry.

    -- Marcia ;-(

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  16. I had two blogs open and was responding to a note from one in the other. >_< My multitask quotient is a little low today. LOL

    I deleted it as soon as I realized what I'd done. You aren't losing your mind. I really had posted it. The site ManageFlitter is a way to figure out who is following you on Twitter without having to spend all day looking at each follower. Since Twitter limits how many people you can follow based on how many are following you, it helps to have people following you who are active users if you are going to follow them back. I discovered a few followers I'd had since I started on Twitter had stopped using it a year ago, and dropped them from my follow list. The note was in response to a blog article about the program from marketing guru Tonya Kappes. http://tonyakappes.blogspot.com/

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  17. LOL, Kayelle. You are not only a major source for social media info, but you're a marvel at multi-tasking. ;-)

    -- Marcia ;-)

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  18. LOL. Yeah, I'm a marvel all right. ^_^ Glad to help such as it is.

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  19. Great excerpt! But I already knew this was an awesome read. Thanks for sharing, Marcia and Kayelle!

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  20. Hi, Paige! Thanks for stopping by my guest-blog! ;-) For those who don't know, Paige is a very talented author, and I can definitely recommend her books!

    -- Marcia ;-)

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  21. Hi, Paige! Thanks for dropping in today. You come highly recommended. ^_^

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  22. Kayelle -- If you like urban fantasy, her new release, Hellsbane, is getting a lot of attention.

    -- Marcia ;-)

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  23. I do. Urban fantasy, suspence, and vampires -- all my achilles heels. I'm a sucker for a solid plot and lots of action. If there happens to be a hot romance in there too... I'm even happier.

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