Thursday, August 1, 2013

Dog Days with Guest Author Terry Shames

As I mentioned on Monday, Write Here, Write Now is celebrating dogs during the dog days of summer, and author Terry Shames and her best friends Lucy and Sparky are leading the pack today. Welcome, Terry!  ~ Sheila

Thank you to Sheila for allowing me to blog here about my Dog Days.
Being from Texas, I know a lot about “dog days,” those days when it’s so hot you can barely drag yourself from the porch swing to the refrigerator to pour yourself another glass of iced tea, and back to the swing. Those days are why I moved away from Texas to the San Francisco Bay Area, where the cool fog is our natural air conditioning.
But I’ve had other kinds of dog days—something a little more unusual. I’ve spent weeks at a time on our catamaran with our Australian terrier, Lucy. My sister dubbed her, Lucky Lucy, the Adventure Dog. Here are a few shots of Lucy doing her best impression of a sailor:

But my best times with Lucy on the boat were spent early in the morning while I wrote. At 6AM each day I grabbed a cup of tea, prodded my husband out of the cabin, propped myself up on the bed, and settled in to write with Lucy snoozing next to me. Heaven. In this way, I wrote my debut novel, A KILLING AT COTTON HILL in two months. It’s amazing how much you can get done when you don’t have home distractions and get done by 9AM each day.

In this way, a few months later, Lucy and I wrote the next in the series. And then, last fall, we sold the boat. I’m not a big sailor, so it didn’t seem like much of a loss, except that I kept thinking about those wonderful mornings with Lucy snoozing by my side and me writing feverishly.
So when my husband told me a few weeks ago that he really couldn’t survive without a boat, I agreed. The one thing I didn’t tell him was that I had a “test” I had to do on each boat we looked at. The first three failed the test. Then we went to Los Angeles to look at a Catalina. The minute I stepped on board, I liked the feel of the boat. I especially liked the galley, because I love to cook, even on a boat.
But it still had to pass my test. My husband went off to talk to the boat broker, and I went below. A few minutes later, my husband found me sitting on the bed, propped up on pillows. He asked me what I was doing. “I wanted to know if I could write here. And I can!” The boat passed the test and we now are the proud owners of Otros Vientos.” Oh, yes, and by the way, we’ve already figured out how Lucy and our new dog, Sparky, can enjoy the boat with us. And I’m ready to write Samuel Craddock book # 3.
And I haven’t left the dog days behind in another way as well. My series is set in Texas!


In A Killing at Cotton Hill, the chief of police of Jarrett Creek, Texas, doubles as the town drunk. So when Dora Lee Parjeter is murdered, her old friend and former police chief Samuel Craddock steps in to investigate. He discovers that a lot of people may have wanted Dora Lee dead—the conniving rascals on a neighboring farm, her estranged daughter and her surly live-in grandson. And then there’s the stranger Dora Lee claimed was spying on her. During the course of the investigation the human foibles of the small-town residents—their pettiness and generosity, their secret vices and true virtues—are revealed.

What the reviewers say...


“…if you’re as fond of good writing as I am, it will be the characters in Cotton Hill that will keep the pages turning until late in the evening….” - Mysteryfile

“Shames’ novel is an amazing read. The poetic, literary quality of the writing draws you in….” - RT Book Reviews

“Readers will want to see more of the likable main character, who compassionately but relentlessly sifts the evidence. Convincing small town atmosphere and a vivid supporting cast are a plus.” - Publisher Weekly
"Terry Shames offers readers a wonderfully-told tale that kept me turning pages… what kept my interest more than anything was the writing. It was absolutely superb." - Lee Lofland, The Graveyard Shift   

Terry Shames grew up in Texas. She has abiding affection for the small town where here grandparents lived, the model for the fictional town of Jarrett Creek. A resident of Berkeley, California, Terry lives with her husband, two rowdy terriers and a semi-tolerant cat. She is a member of Sisters in Crime and Mystery Writers of America. Her second Samuel Craddock novel, THE LAST DEATH OF JACK HARBIN will be out in January 2014. Find out more about Terry and her books at


  1. Terry: I love those photos of Lucy, especially the one with her in the life jacket. You should do a kids' book about Lucy, the Sea Dog. Your life sounds so interesting. I, too, live on the coast: the east coast, north of Boston and grew up on the water. However, I selcom sail because I'm lazy and sailing is a lot of work. I'll check out your latest book. Good luck with the new boat. Best to you, Sharon Cook, author of the Granite Cove Mysteries:

  2. What a wonderful way to write a book, Terry. Lucy and Sparky are adorable and look like they are ready for their next adventure in boating and writing. I have two dogs, and they are always up for an adventure. We are lucky to have dogs in our lives. I just got a copy of your book and can't wait to start reading it. I lived in Texas for a while and have fond memories of my time there.

  3. Sharon, my sister wants me to do a children's book called Lucky Lucy the Adventure Dog. Interesting life? Yes! I count myself fortunate to have a husband who loves adventuring. Sailing is a lot of hard work--especially the catamaran. I once told my husband that if anything happened to him while we were out, I could probably bring the boat in, but it wouldn't be pretty!

    Marilyn, thanks for the book--hope you like it. I'm looking forward to writing #3 on our new (easier to sail) boat!

  4. Terry - Great post and I love your dog pictures! Congratulations on the new boat! I'm so glad to hear you will be back to writing on board. Nothing beats it.
    Fair winds!