Monday, July 20, 2015

Can You Spot the Difference? ...by Kate James


Do the two pictures above look the same to you? Since I'm reasonably certain that your answer isbeing as polite as possibleno, this post is the story of how a lovable Irish Wolfhound mix morphed into an equally lovable black Labrador Retriever in my recent release, The Truth About Hope.

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I'm very fortunate to have Paula Eykelhof as my editor. She is exceptional at what she does, I value all her revision requests and—as a bonus—she has a terrific sense of humor. We share a love of animals, and early in our working relationship we discovered that one of her cats and one of our black Labradors have the same name: Logan. We affectionately refer to them as FL (feline Logan) and CL (canine Logan). Occasionally, we exchange cute anecdotes about their mischief. This is backstory to the revision I had to make to my May release, The Truth About Hope.

In the original manuscript, my heroine, Hope Wilson, has a large, gangly, good-natured mutt that resembles an Irish Wolfhound. The scene when she finds him as a puppy, as originally written, follows.

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Crouching down, Hope cautiously pushed aside a large branch to have a look…and started to laugh. Unmindful of the damp grass, she fell to her knees. Still laughing, she reached under the base of the bush and hauled out a squirming, wiggling, mud-covered puppy. “What are you doing here?” she inquired of the little dog.
The puppy mewed and continued to wriggle. Hope leaned in to nuzzle him and pulled back quickly. “Wow! What they say about sweet puppy breath doesn’t apply to you, does it? You stink! I bet that’s more than just mud covering you.”
In response, he slathered Hope’s face with his tongue, landing one grimy paw on her white shirt and another on her cheek. “Thanks, pal,” Hope exclaimed. She swiped her upper arm across her face, smearing the mud.
“I have our refreshments,” Priscilla announced as she emerged from the house carrying a tray laden with a pitcher, glasses and a plate of sliced lemons. She almost dropped the tray when she noticed Hope kneeling on the grass. Depositing it on the patio table with a clatter, she rushed over. “Oh, I’m so sorry. Let me take him.” She made a grab for the puppy, but Hope drew him back, streaking more dirt on her shirt and along her arms.
“Look at you! You’re covered in dirt,” Priscilla exclaimed. “Morris was supposed to have taken that little dog to the pound a week ago.”
Hope’s eyes rounded, and she tightened her hold on the puppy. “To the pound?”
“Well, we didn’t want to. Morris and I thought it would be nice to have a dog around, but your father…”
“He didn’t want a dog,” Hope concluded.
Priscilla nodded.
“Where did he come from?”
The puppy in question enthusiastically licked the side of Hope’s neck.
“We have no idea. He just appeared a couple of weeks ago.”
Sinking back on her heels, Hope placed the puppy on the ground, where he executed a summersault in pursuit of his tail, before clambering onto her lap again. Hope nudged him, and he rolled over on his back, where he remained with an expectant look on his face. When Hope obliged with a tummy rub, his gleeful squeals stole her heart. “So, he doesn’t belong to anyone?” she asked.
“Not that we could determine.” Priscilla squatted down too and cautiously patted the pup on the top of his upside-down head.
Hope’s expression turned thoughtful. “My father asked me last night if there was anything he could do to make me feel more comfortable here.” She continued to rub the little dog’s belly, while he nipped at her fingers with his needle-sharp teeth. “I’ve always wanted a dog, but I couldn’t have one in Canyon Creek because Mom was allergic.  What if I told my father I wanted to keep the pup?”
Priscilla smiled. “There’s always a chance. Why don’t we take the little guy into the mudroom and get him cleaned up first? Make him more presentable.”
It took several cycles of lathering and rinsing until the bath water finally ran clear. The pup was still mostly gray, but the brown had washed away with the sudsy water to reveal a bright white belly and white boots on three of his paws.
“How big do you think he’ll get when he’s full grown?” Hope asked as she toweled him off.
Priscilla pursed her lips. “I’m no expert on dogs, but I’d say he’s a real mixture. His coloring and the shape of his face make me think he’s got some Irish Wolfhound in him. Judging by how big he is now, I’d say he’ll be mid-size. Probably fifty to sixty pounds when he’s full grown.”
“That’s not so big. My father wouldn’t object to me keeping him, if I promise to take care of him and keep him out of his way, would he?”
Before Priscilla could answer, the outside door swung open and Morris strode in, the screen door slamming behind him. He took one look at the two women, the little dog between them, and started to back out.
“Not so fast, Morris!” Priscilla called.
He stopped in his tracks, but kept his hand on the door handle.
The puppy—having aptly demonstrated his displeasure with the entire bathing process—must have seen his opportunity to escape. He squirmed out of Hope’s grasp and charged straight for the doorway, crashing head-first into the screen. Fortunately he bounced off it, landing ingloriously on his backside.
* 


Imagine my surprise when I saw the cover and, rather than a Wolfhound, the dog featured prominently is most definitely a black Lab and looks exactly like our Logan, including the slightly curly fur along his back!


I had to edit all references to the dog, Einstein, to fit the cover image. For example, I revised the highlighted paragraph in the original manuscript to read as follows:


* 
Priscilla pursed her lips. “I’m no expert on dogs, but the shape of his face makes me think he’s got some Irish Wolfhound in him, but the rest of him looks like all Labrador. If he’s mostly Lab, he won’t grow too large. Probably about sixty pounds when he’s full-grown.”
* 

The net effect? I had to rewrite approximately a dozen scenes, Logan lorded it over our other Lab Harley, he wanted a share of the royalties in the form of extra kibble, and Harley now would like to know when he can expect to be a cover model, too. Considering there have been times when FL and CL have “used” our respective laptops, I have to wonder if there might have been a conspiracy involved! With this bit of backstory, I hope you enjoy getting to know Einstein, the mostly black Lab, in The Truth About Hope! (I do want to thank the art department team at Harlequin for how hard they work at creating the best possible covers.)

Still on the topic of dogs, my next three releases constitute my K-9 trilogy. The first two books, When the Right One Comes Along (October 1, 2015) and When Love Matters Most (January 1, 2016) are currently available for pre-order. Not surprisingly, there is a casts of furry, four-legged supporting characters in these books.

Do you feel furry, four-legged characters can enrich a story and help define the protagonists? What breed/type of dog would you like to see featured in a book and why? Leave a comment for a chance to win a copy of The Truth About Hope.

36 comments:

  1. I like pets in books. My preference is always cats--because, you know, I'm one of them: cat people--but I'm coming over to the dark side a bit, too. My WIP has a dachshund named Maggie (named after my sister-in-law's beloved dachsie) in it and I've gotten really attached to her.

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    1. Aw...dachshunds are very cute. I have a cute story about one. I had one of my previous dogs in puppy training classes and there was a dachsie in the class, too. The dogs were learning to heel through a slalom set up. When a dog would finish the course, s/he would be told to sit/stay until the owner walked back to the other end of the room. Then the dog would be released from the stay and called to come. All but the dachshund would run straight to their owners (knowing a treat was waiting for them). When released and called, the dachshunds navigated the slalom course perfectly on her own each time. Very cute!

      Harley and Logan take no offense about your referrence to the "dark side." After all, they're black Labs!

      I look forward to reading about Maggie!

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  2. So looking forward to reading your next book.

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    1. Thank you for your support, Roz! It means a great deal to me.

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  3. I loved the scene with Logan. I'm afraid I'm over on the dark side, too. I have a rescue kitty, something I would have told you 5 years ago would never happen in a thousand years. Lol

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    1. Thank you, Patricia! My first two dogs were "raised" by a cat, and it stayed with them. It was quite funny to see two full-grown, 75-lb Huskies submissive to cats their entire lives!

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  4. That such a great cover, Kate. Labs are so huggable from any angle. Love any kind of animal in books, but do love cats and dogs because we'd had many in our family over the years. We rescued the cutest black Lab puppy from the pound, who turned out to be a field Lab who grew to 110 lbs. Quite a surprise when you're expecting 60. But he was all charm and affection. Looking forward to this series.

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    1. A 110-lb Lab?? Wow! That's roughly how much my Malamute weighed!

      I originally didn't think of our boys as rescues. It was Paula who first referred to them as such, and--as usual--she was right. They hadn't been abused, but they'd only lived in a cage for the first 14/18 months of their lives. We "rescued" them from that constrained existence and had the pleasure of introducing them to the big, wide world! They're exceptionally smart and sweet boys, are inseparable despite having met only when we brought them home, and they bring much joy to our lives.

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  5. Great story of the morphing wolfhound/lab. I just wrote a blog post of how jealous I am of covers with cute dogs, and now I'm adding your cover to the list.

    Seriously, it sounds like a great story and I can't wait to read it. I love dogs, and dog lovers.

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    1. Thank you for adding my cover to your blog, Beth, and for your kind comment about the book. I'm not sure I could write a book that didn't include an animal! :-)

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  6. Sorry about all of the rewrites, Kate. The cover looks great! I think critters of all kind enrich a story.

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    1. No need to be sorry, Jill. As you note, the cover looks great, the edits were minor, I have a fun story to tell...and my husband and I are partial to black Labs!

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    2. Congratulations, Jill! You won the signed copy of THE TRUTH ABOUT HOPE!

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    3. My pleasure, Jill. The book is already signed and wrapped, and will be in the mail today! I hope you enjoy it.

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    4. I received it today, Kate! I sent you a FB message. Thank you so much!

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    5. You are very welcome, Jill. I hope you enjoy it!

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  7. This is fantastic, Kate! Love the excerpts, and it's always interesting to learn "behind the scenes" trivia about books, especially when such lovable pets are involved! :)

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    1. Thanks, Cerella. I do enjoy telling this "behind the scenes" story...as you can probably tell! :-) The art department does a wonderful job, don't they?

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    2. Agreed, Kate! I always love the reveal of new Heartwarming covers! :)

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    3. Your books have had some exceptionally nice ones, Cerella, including your most recent: Harper's Wish!

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    4. Aw, thanks, Kate! I think so, too! :)

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  8. Your scene, and your cover, are wonderful! How adorable that Einstein became a lab to resemble Logan. It was worth the rewrites to have a gorgeous Labrador on the book's cover; you'll treasure it always :)

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    1. Thank you, Karen. Logan has already framed the cover and it's hanging over his doggie bed!

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    2. I loved this comment the most, guys. Logan is my kinda dog! Hanging his own cover over his bed. I laughed out loud. For the record. I love writing about animals..dogs, horses, cats, birds...the list goes on. I'm squeemish on the reptiles I gotta admit. But As you know, Kate I loved The Truth About Hope. I'm looking forward to the new trilogy! Good luck with it all. Sorry I'm so late to the party here.

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    3. Thank you, Catherine. You know I am one of your biggest fans!

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  9. Since I've already read your amazing book The Truth About Hope, no need to enter me in the giveaway (although I could always pass it along to a reader friend). I definitely think four-legged characters enrich a story. The more I learn about the pet in the narrative, the more connected I feel to the owner and the animal. I have an affinity for German Shepherds because we owned one for 10 years and she was the most wonderful dog ever. Her name was April and she was smart and lovable and I still miss her 30 years later!!

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    1. Thank you for your kind comment (and the wonderful review of THE TRUTH ABOUT HOPE) Laurie.

      Before we were adopted by our two black Labs, we had an Alaskan Malamute, a yellow Lab and the youngest of the three was a long-haired Shepherd. She was very sweet. Sadly, we lost her to cancer much too early. And yes, we still miss all three.

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  10. To everyone who took (or will take) the time to leave a comment: sincere thanks!

    Please check back here at the end of the comments section tomorrow morning to find out if you are the winner of the signed copy of THE TRUTH ABOUT HOPE.

    Happy reading!

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  11. I love poodles because they are small and not aggressive. I love to read about dogs that are loving and gentle and poodles are both!

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    1. Thank you for the comment, Janet. Poodles are also highly intelligent, which could make them an interesting character in a book!

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  12. The black lab on your cover looks like Bandit, my son's lab. He also had a yellow lab,
    two of the sweetest dogs our family ever had. We've also had an Irish setter, a Siberian huskie, a miniature poodle, a toy poodle, and a Bichon Frisé. I enjoy books where an animal serves as an important character especially if it's one I've had. Definitely a plus.

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    1. I love the name Bandit...I might have to use it in a book! Our boys, Harley and Logan, are very sweet, too. For the short period of time after we lost our last three dogs, and Harley and Logan adopted us, our home was very quiet. You've had a variety of dogs to fill your home with job!

      I agree with you regarding important animal characters in books. I think Nora Roberts does it especially well.

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  13. THE WINNER IS...

    Thank you to everyone who stopped by to read this post, and especially to those who took the time to leave a comment.

    The winner of the signed copy of THE TRUTH ABOUT HOPE is Jill Weatherholt. Jill, please e-mail me at readers @ kate-james . com (without spaces) with your coordinates so that I can mail you the book.

    Congratulations and happy reading (and writing)!

    Kate

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  14. Dogs absolutely add to any story and can really show us important points about the protagonist and other characters. If not overused, the dogs reaction to a character can advance our understanding and connection to that character. Cats on the other hand only show us how subservient a person is, lol.

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    1. Thank you for sharing your thoughts about four-legged characters, Billie! :D

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