Thrill of the win

To win an award for my writing is an extra special thrill for a person who never won a thing for sport. Thank you ARRA (Australian Romance Readers Association) for my elegant trophy, awarded to LOVE IS A FOUR-LEGGED WORD for Favorite Contemporary Romance 2009.

My ARRA award

This award is so special for me because it is a reader-nominated award for “favorite” book, not “best”, but “favorite” and that means a lot. Also, my books are not readily available in Australia—readers buy them from a group of fabulous specialist romance bookshops or online.

My family has shelves groaning under the weight of the awards they’ve won for various sports—not something I excel at.  My ARRA trophy stands on a shelf in my study—next to a stack of my other wonderful “trophies”, copies of LOVE IS A FOUR-LEGGED WORD and an ARC (advanced review copy) of HOME IS WHERE THE BARK IS.  Proud as I am of my family’s trophies, I’m super proud of mine, too!

And then there are the “trophies” in the form of emails from readers who have enjoyed my book so much they have taken the trouble to write to me about it: how it made them laugh, made them cry, or even

At the ARRA awards dinner

how it made them hungry! (The heroine of LOVE IS A FOUR-LEGGED WORD is a chef…) No matter what kind of mood I’m in, when I open my email to find a letter like that the day becomes immeasurably happier. Thank you!

WHAT I’M READING NOW: the unauthorized biography of OPRAH by Kitty Kelley—fascinating stuff! Like untold millions, I’m an Oprah fan and it’s compulsive reading—all 520 pages of it— to find out so much more about her.

Two days to go

When my daughter was small we used to countdown to everything: ten, nine, eight, seven, six and so on right down to zero. Okay, so it wasn’t zero. It was “Blast Off!” yelled at the tops of our voices. Countdown to nearing our driveway and home. Countdown to lunch time.  Countdown to her birthday. Start time of favorite TV show. And so on.

Four-legged friends all set to celebrate with me

Four-legged friends all set to celebrate with me

Now I am so near to my personal “Blast Off!” Just days “Two” and “One” to go until Love is a Four-Legged Word goes on sale on July 7.

BTW, I don’t know if it had anything to do with all those countdowns from a very early age, but my daughter is really good at math.

Brutus in real life

People often ask me did I base my dog Brutus in Love is a Four-Legged Word on a real dog.

My muse Brutus Kell

My muse Brutus Kell

Yes and no.

Brutus is a purely fictional creation and I had such fun writing about him. I guess he is an amalgamation of many dogs I have known. His womanizing (how do you translate that into dog-talk?) ways are certainly inspired by a childhood dog Copper – half basset hound, half golden cocker spaniel – who was always bringing girlfriends home. He wasn’t a big dog and the Afghan hound he was in love with was truly a challenge. Brutus’s leg-humping ways he has in common with several dogs of my acquaintance. His greed is certainly not a unique trait. And of course his loyalty is one of the characteristics I love about dogs in general.

But his name, that was inspired by a real dog, my former next-door neighbor. The real Brutus is not a scruffy Heinz 57 varieties kind of dog like my fictional Brutus, rather a silky terrier of impeccable pedigree. He’s getting old now. Twelve when this photo was taken but still sprightly and raring to go at the mention of the word “walk”. He’s also a fearsome watchdog. But what an amazing name for a very small, fluffy dog with a pretty little face, albeit one with a feisty nature. I couldn’t resist borrowing it when I started writing my story about a millionaire mutt.

A terrier of impeccable pedigree

Unlike my fictional Brutus, the real-life Brutus is a terrier of impeccable pedigree



WHAT I’M READING NOW:  Duet by Carol Shields. The Pulitzer Prize winning author of The Stone Diaries is one of my favorite authors. I love the way she makes the everyday details of the domestic life of her characters into gripping fiction. This book is a re-labeled release of two earlier novels (her first, I believe) Small Ceremonies and The Box Garden written in the 1970s, linked yet separate stories of two sisters. I found the sisters’ stories as relevant as they must have been thirty years ago and  I savored every word.

My very exciting moment

Advance Review CopyThe most exciting moment of my life will always be the moment I saw my just-born daughter’s face. I can’t imagine anything could ever match that.

But holding the Advance Review Copy of my new novel Love is a Four-Legged Word (published by Berkley Sensation and to go on sale on July 7), is also up there on the scale of exciting moments. Bound in a plain yellow cover, the uncorrected proofs are my very first sight of my book. And I love it. The designers at Berkley have done an amazing job on the book design. Even without the cover (which I also love) the book is beautiful. The typefaces they have chosen are perfect.

As a magazine editor in my “day job”, I’m used to having quite a degree of say on design on “my” magazine. Not so with my  novel. I to-ed and fro-ed with the cover of and had some input. But the page proofs were the first time I saw how the inside of the book will look. And I wouldn’t change a thing. Clever, clever designers – thank you!

And I won’t say anymore lest I be accused of gushing. Except…

WHAT I’M READING NOW: The Advance Review Copy of Love is a Four-Legged Word by Kandy Shepherd of course!