Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Writing on Wednesday: What's Next After Drop Dead on Recall?

Welcome to my entry in THE NEXT BIG THING BLOG HOP.
What is a blog hop? It’s a way for readers to discover new authors whose books you might not see in your local bookstore. In this particular hop, each participating author has answered 10 questions about our current work-in-progress or production, and about how we approach our work. I hope you enjoy it! Scroll down to learn about author Clea Simon, who invited me, and to find links to other writers you might enjoy. And readers, please leave a comment - I have one autographed copy of Drop Dead on Recall to give away - leave a comment and I will put your name in a hat and draw the winner on Friday! The go check out Clea's books, and those of the other authors listed at the end. 
 ~ Sheila


The Next Big Thing from Sheila Boneham 

What is your working title of your book?

I'm currently revising The Money Bird, which is the sequel to Drop Dead on Recall. These are the first two books in my new Animals in Focus mystery series featuring animal photographer Janet MacPhail, her Australian Shepherd Jay, and her orange tabby Leo. The plot of each book revolves around an animal sport or activity and a larger issue (dog obedience, breeder ethics, rescue, and runaway competitiveness in book one). In book two, the activity is retriever training and the larger issue involves the illegal trade in endangered birds. The title, The Money Bird, comes from retriever field competitions but applies to the money made by smugglers as well. The Money Bird is scheduled to be released September 1, 2013. And yes, I am starting book three in the series! (Hint: cats!)

Where did the idea come from for the book?

I've known about the horrors of wildlife trafficking for many years. Last year I read Spix's Macaw: The Race to Save the World's Rarest Bird by Tony Juniper, and that led me to more books and articles. As I thought about which sport to focus on in the second book, retriever training seemed natural because, in addition to Aussies, I've had Labrador Retrievers in my life since 1988 and have done some field training with them. Besides, Janet meets a good lookin' guy with a  good lookin' black Lab in Drop Dead on Recall. It just all fit together.

What genre does your book fall under?

This is a mystery series.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition? 

  • We would need a handsome blue-merle Australian Shepherd for Jay, a handsome black Labrador Retriever for Drake, and handsome orange tabby cat for Leo, and assorted other dogs!
  • Janet MacPhail, the protagonist - Sandra Bullock, the perfect mix of smart, funny, and capable.
  • Tom Saunders, Janet's potential beau - Kevin Spacey
  • George Crane, the ornithologist - Tim Robbins
  • Goldie Sunshine - Kathy Bates

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

A bird watcher dies, leaving behind a strange message that leads his friend Janet MacPhail to smugglers dealing in endangered wildlife - and murder.


Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

The Money Bird (working title) is under contract with Midnight Ink, as the second of three Animals in Focus mysteries. I am represented by Josh Getzler, a partner at the HSG Agency in New York.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

I started it about a year ago, but have worked sporadically as I work on other projects. I would say about six months of actual writing.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

Reviewers have compared Drop Dead on Recall, the first book in the series favorably to the works of Susan Conant, Laurien Berensen, Sue Grafton, and Janet Evanovich. I'll leave it to readers to make those comparisons!

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

Several impulses, I suppose. Wildlife trafficking is a terrible problem worldwide, and I think fiction is often an effective way to draw attention to an issue and put its implications within reach without beating people over the head. So that was one thing. Another is that people love labels, and people have already tended to see my series as a "dog mystery" series. I never intended it to be "about dogs." There are dogs in it, and Drop Dead on Recall certainly focuses on dogs, but the series concept includes all kinds of animals - there's an important feline character, for one thing. I made Janet, the protagonist, an animal - not dog! - photographer to give her a reason to be in contact with different kinds of animals. Book three will have a feline theme. Beyond that? Future installments will remain a mystery for now!


What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

One of the sub-plots has to do with Janet's struggle to deal with her mother's progressing dementia. Drop Dead on Recall has been out about three months, and several readers have written to tell me how realistic and sensitive the book's handling of the issue is. The nursing home that she moves to uses several innovative approaches, including therapy animals and a therapy garden, which may be of interest to some readers.

Another draw may be that the central characters - Janet and Tom - are in their fifties, and Janet's friend Goldie is in her sixties. I was asked at one point to make Janet younger in years because, it was thought, she acts younger than her age. Really? That both irritated and amused me because in many ways, Janet acts like me and my friends, and a lot of us are even older than Janet. This is the way people out age act, folks!

And of course the animals are always front and center. I have a long history writing nonfiction books and articles about dogs and cats, and about rescue, and I very much believe in portraying animals realistically. I also have been involved in many aspects of the animal world for many years, so the information I include about breeding, rescuing, buying, adopting, showing, training, and so on is based in my own experience and that of my friends and colleagues.

Drop Dead on Recall and my other books are available from your local booksellers (please support independent booksellers when possible!), and from and  Personally autographed copies can also be ordered using this link: Sign It For Me!


Many thanks to Clea Simon,

award-winning author of two feline mystery series, for inviting me to particpate. Clea’s most recent books are CATS CAN’T SHOOT (Poisoned Pen Press) in the Pru Marlowe pet noir series and the brand new TRUE GREY (Severn House) in the Dulcie Schwartz feline mystery series. As Booklist said, “These are definitely more than just another cat mystery.” Also see links below to guest blogs by authors whose books you might want to check out.
Click the links below to find out about Clea Simon’s book.
Website: or Blog:
Buy the Pru Marlowe pet noir books at Amazon or Barnes and Noble
Thank you, Clea - Leo, the hero cat from my Animals in Focus series, approves! 

~ Sheila


Check out these guest posts from the past two months - find new books & authors for your wish list and gift list!

C.J. West on Writing at Home

Susan Whitfield's North Carolina

Marni Graff on Publishing with an Independent Press

Karen Fritz on Creating Characters

Lois Winston on Life in the Crafts Lane

Linda Lovely on Constructing Mysteries

Sandra Pearshall on Authors and Protagonists

Judy Alter on Time Management for Authors

Guest Richard Brawer on Inspiration and Process

Read. Write. Live creatively!



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