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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What does the Driver Next to You See?

I’ve come to the conclusion from my own personal experience in from watching others around me, that as human beings, we just don’t like silence.

A perfect example of this is to watch somebody as they are driving along the highway. They may be alone in the car, but is sure looks as if they are having one very animated conversation.

It’s easy to see many drivers talking on their phone, singing along with songs, or even talking to themselves. I’ve even noticed a few with their favorite pet sitting in the car next to them- and they are having animated conversations with the animal.

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I wonder if anybody really thinks about how they look to the person in the car next to them. I know I’m guilty of doing this myself. I’ll be singing along to a song, totally oblivious to anything going on around me. If I really like the song, then the music is turned up, windows are rolled down, and I’m thoroughly enjoying myself.
Okay, when the music is playing and the windows are rolled down, most people can tell that you’re singing along to a song. But what about those people that are talking to themselves, or at least that’s what you think is happening? There’s no visible phone in their hand, but their hands are moving, their lips are moving a mile a minute and they‘re shaking their head. There’s no one in the car with them and you wondering what’s going on. Then they turn their head slightly and you see at the wireless headphone! They are talking on the phone to somebody. Or, maybe they’re doing like I am right now-using their phone for dictating.

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But I think the thing that gets me the most is watching somebody talk to their dog or even their cat while they’re driving. They carry on conversations with these animals as if they were human beings. And let’s face it, to some of us, our pets are more important than some of the human beings around us. The really funny thing is watching the animals. They seem to talk right back to their owners-some might bark, some pant and a few may even howl their answers. As they converse with the driver, the animal may get close, climbing onto laps, so that it looks like they’re actually doing the driving. And all around them traffic is flowing people that take notice are doing a double take to look at them.

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So the next time you look at somebody and you’re wondering if they are talking to themselves, singing to the radio, or talking to the animal next to them…

think about how you look when you’re doing the same thing.