For the Love of Pets

The modern cozy mystery has something that the old traditional ones doesn’t seem to have… 

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Pets!
Now, by all means, correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t seem to remember any of Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple or Hercule Poirot characters having cat or dog as the main character, but today’s cozy mysteries sure do. Mine included.
Maybe it’s because in the day of Agatha Christie pets did not play as significant a role in our lives as they do now. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that people didn’t love their pets in Dame Agatha’s day. But did they catered to them? Did they dress Fido up in Halloween costumes? Were their pet served gourmet pet food? And I bet they sure as heck didn’t have pet, insurance!
But today’s pets are part of our lives, treated as good (or sometimes slightly better) as our children, and pampered like royalty.
So, it only seems reasonable, if pets are that important in our everyday life that they would also be important in our characters daily life?
Personally, I love adding pets to my stories. They can give comic relief and help the reader relate to the main character. A pet can sniff out clues the main character may not have seen, and they have a sense of awareness that humans don’t.

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For instance, in my Citrus Beach Mysteries, my main character has a beagle named Barney and Barney is excellent at sniffing out clues. In book number two, Scent of a Mystery, Barney is the one that finds the first clue, setting the book in motion.
In Storm Voices, Mac is given a little gray kitten. This kitten seems to have mystic abilities, and she definitely knows that there’s something unusual living in the garden of Mac’s home.
If you look at the covers of many cozy mysteries, you’ll find a cat or dog on it; after all was a witch without a cat. Two of my favorite series are Lauren Carr’s Mac Faraday Mystery books and The Cat Who series by Lilian Jackson Braun.
Having a cat, dog, or some other animal in your mystery draws in the animal lover as well as the mystery lover. And let’s face it, an animal can get away with so much more than a human. Nobody is going to yell at the dog or point a gun at him for snooping in the den. And if the cat happens to knock over a valuable clue, it will only seem like her curiosity is coming into play. But if your main character is doing either of those things while searching for clues, then the chances are if they get caught, they will be held at gunpoint by the villain or arrested by the cops.

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Go ahead and include an animal in your story.
Use Fido or FeeFee to your advantage. Let them be the ones to ferret out the clues and warm the cockles of your reader’s hearts.
But be careful-they can easily take over your story, because everyone loves a pet.

Victoria LK Williams

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AnOther Writer?

I think I have a budding writer in the family.

She’s not your typical writer. No, her work habits are lazy and hap-hazard. She tends to write only when inspired by seeing someone else working, and she  often falls asleep in the middle of a sentence.

You see my co-writer is a pretty little thing, with four legs and a lot of attitude.20160902_080826

Meet Miss Marple. She’s the quiet one of my three cats.and if I’m at my desk, so is she. To tell the truth, she should have been named Shadow, because she is like my shadow, always with me.

Miss Marple is patient and seems to know my writing moods. When things are flowing smoothly, she sits in her basket (how she still fits in it I haven’t a clue) and grabs a nap. When I need to sit and think about the story, she will sit on my lap, hands or keyboard and offer her support.

Of course things don’t always go this smoothly, after all, she’s a cat with a mind of her own. And one of three in the house. I swear, when she thinks I’ve ignored her long enough, she signals the other two for reinforcements!

The second cat is Fletch.  She was named Mrs. Fletcher, but my son insisted Fletch was more appropriate-he was right. If there is trouble to be found, Fletch is in the middle of it. And she is not so tolerant of being ignored while I write.

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When the reinforcements are called in, my desk becomes their play ground. Drawers are opened for stealing paperclips and rubber bands. The pen in my hand is  mortal enemy that must be attacked and defeated. Urgent secret codes are typed into my manuscript as they pounce on the key board. And the back of my chair is commandeered and transformed into a launch pad.

Then, just as I’m ready to give up and pack it in, there is peace. As if sent by a secret code, they both settle down.

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Did I mention my third cat, Speckles? She is the matriarch of the three, over 18 years old. She’s too old to jump up on my desk, now. Instead she sits in the comfortable chair next to my desk, or on a rug in a patch of sunlight and watches the antics of the other two. In her time, she was the troublemaker. I think I can see her smile as Fletch steals my pen.

I wonder…is she sending them a secret code?

Finally, all three are taking their afternoon nap and I can get back to my work in progress. At least until they wake up and it starts all over.