Monday, August 19, 2013

Doggie Lit for Dog Days with Guest Lois Winston

Dog Days continue today with author & agent Lois Winston, who has some observations on the rise of genre "doggie lit." Welcome back, Lois!  ~ Sheila

Doggie Lit?

by Lois Winston

Over the last few years there have been many sub-genres of lit-fic cropping up. It started back in the late nineties with an onslaught of chick lit. These were stories not about furry yellow-beaked farm critters but about twenty-somethings with jobs they hated, serial bad dates, a tendency to indulge in too many margaritas, and an obsession with designer shoes and handbags. Chick lit led to lady lit, lad lit, mom lit, hen lit, boomer lit, and geezer lit.

And now we have doggie lit. I’ve noticed over the last few years that no matter the genre, whether romance or mystery or straight fiction, a huge percentage of books have dogs in them. It’s not just that the protagonist has a pet pooch. These dogs are becoming major secondary characters in many books. Sometimes they even have a point of view in the story.

I’m not sure how I feel about giving a point of view to a pet, but I do like the trend of making dogs in books more than just window dressing or a convenient way to get a character from Point A to Point B.  (Dogs do have to be walked several times a day.) If done well, dogs can add quite a bit of texture and color to the story because they have distinct personalities.

In my Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery series, Anastasia’s mother-in-law Lucille, a die-hard nineteen-fifties style commie, owns a French Bulldog she calls Manifesto (after the communist treatise.) Everyone else calls him Mephisto or Devil Dog. He’s got that kind of personality. Since the best stories always have characters who are polar opposites, thus creating conflict, I’ve given Manifesto his own nemesis, a corpulent white Persian by the name of Catherine the Great.

Catherine the Great belongs to Anastasia’s mother Flora, a former social secretary of the Daughters of the American Revolution. Lucille, Manifesto, Flora, and Catherine the Great all live with Anastasia, her two teenage sons, and their pet parrot in a small suburban rancher where Lucille and Flora (and therefore Manifesto and Catherine the Great) are forced to share a bedroom. Not only do Flora and Lucille fight like cats and dogs, but so do their cat and dog. Conflict, conflict, conflict—the basis for all good stories, right?

Another component of a good stories is character growth. So I wondered, why should that growth be limited to the two-legged characters in a story? Revenge of the Crafty Corpse, the third book in my series, presented the perfect opportunity to delve into this subject. Because Lucille is in a rehab center convalescing from surgery, the rest of the family must care for Manifesto. The results are quite surprising, but I won’t spoil the fun for you. You’ll just have to read the book to find out for yourself.

Revenge of the Crafty Corpse
Anastasia Pollack’s dead louse of a spouse has left her with more bills than you can shake a crochet hook at, and teaching craft classes at her mother-in-law’s assisted living center seems like a harmless way to supplement her meager income. But when Lyndella Wegner—a 98-year-old know-it-all with a penchant for ruffles and lace—turns up dead, Anastasia’s cantankerous mother-in-law becomes the prime suspect in her murder. Upon discovering that Lyndella’s scandalous craft projects—and her scandalous behavior—made her plenty of enemies, Anastasia sets out to find the real killer before her mother-in-law ends up behind bars.  
Buy links:

Award-winning author Lois Winston writes the critically acclaimed Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery series featuring magazine crafts editor and reluctant amateur sleuth Anastasia Pollack. Assault With a Deadly Glue Gun, the first book in the series, received starred reviews from both Publishers Weekly and Booklist. Kirkus Reviews dubbed it, “North Jersey’s more mature answer to Stephanie Plum.” Other books in the series includes Death By Killer Mop Doll, Revenge of the Crafty Corpse and the ebook only mini-mysteries Crewel Intentions and Mosaic Mayhem.

Lois is also published in women’s fiction, romance, romantic suspense, and non-fiction under her own name and her Emma Carlyle pen name. In addition, she’s a literary agent and an award-winning craft and needlework designer. She
often draws much of her source material for both her characters and plots from her experiences in the crafts industry.

Visit Lois at, visit Emma at, and visit Anastasia at the Killer Crafts & Crafty Killers blog, Follow everyone on Twitter @anasleuth.


The dogs & cats in my Animals in Focus series are certainly not window dressing. And the books are Lab (and Golden!) approved, too! ~ Sheila
Drop Dead on Recall - Animals in Focus Mystery #1
The Money Bird - Animals in Focus Mystery #2
by Sheila Webster Boneham
Golden Retriever Sunny (left) & Labrador Retriever Lily
checking out my advance copies of The Money Bird.
Available from your favorite bookseller, or to get your
personally autographed copy, click here


Are you a fan of canine mysteries? Come back Thursday ~
Laurien Bereson will be my guest !



  1. Sunny and Lily have the most adorable, perfect book cover faces. I enjoy reading any book that features animals or children interacting with a hero and heroine. Thanks for the post.

    1. Aww, thanks, Angela. Lily and Sunny are my BFFs. :-)

      Lois always writes good posts!

  2. I love having animals in books and agree dogs can show us a great deal without writers necessarily giving them a traditional POV.

    I often include cats in my stories, but then kitty lit already exists - though not in the literary sense of course. >^.^<

  3. On my dedication page of my adult paranormal-romance, "Immortal Relations" "For me, Dogs are God's gift to mankind to teach us about love and loyalty - they deserve our love and loyalty in return!" And the story has a freshly changed (good) vampire saving a dog. My third in the series has two dogs taking on more relevant parts in the story. Don't have the canines doing a talk show, but that is an idea! LOL

  4. You can't beat a retriever endorsement! Enjoyable post Lois. Best luck.

  5. I love dogs in stories. The Alaskan Malamute featured in my latest book is modeled after my own Mal who is featured on the cover. But what would you expect from someone who counts Lady and the Tramp as one of the greatest love stories of all time?

  6. Thank you, Angela, ManicScribbler, Vamp Writer, and Rose, for stopping by. And thanks for hosting me, Sheila. Vamp Writer, you should pursue that doggie talk show idea. It's definitely unique!

  7. Everything goes better with a dog. Nice post, Lois.

  8. Of course dogs can rule stories and have conflicts and character arcs, too. They're family!

  9. Of course there's "doggie lit." And I'll confess that I've never been a fan of pet POV...and then I started writing it in my thrillers! But like Sheila, the pets have to be "real" and not talking humans wearing fur for me to enjoy the read. And yes, they have conflicts, wants and likes, and more.

    It makes sense to follow US household trends since something like 34% of 'em have pets and consider them part of the family. Love the post!

  10. Thanks for stopping by, Linda and Amy!

  11. Well, for one, I love the Pet POV.
    But I also listen to Lilian Jackson Braun's The Cat Who...books over and over.
    Love the doggie as a character; however, I think you need to give equal time to the feline protagonists. See previous sentence. ;-)

    I loved the post and the sweet doggie faces.
    My coon hound/Beagle combo, Beauty, says she agrees.


    1. Thanks, Mitzi. I do give equal billing to the cats. (Check out HOOKING MR. RIGHT for a matchmaking cat.) Sheila wanted this post to be about dogs, though.

    2. Well, August is Dog Days! We've had posts about cats, including one not long ago by Lois, and my mysteries have a V.I.C. (Very Important Cat) in them. :-)

    3. Mitzi, if you scroll down to June, you'll see that cats were here first! June was Adopt-a-Cat Month, and many of the posts were catcentric. >^..^<

  12. Cute dogs. I have dogs in my series, too, as well as cats. I think writing them come naturally to me because I have a beautiful collie, who is my constant companion, two house cats and two barn cats.

  13. Great post and I'm adding lots of books to my TBR list. I love the Chet and Bernie mysteries by Spencer Quinn, which are narrated by the dog, Chet. And my own Doodlebugged mysteries are narrated by the labradoodle. Not uncoincidently, my labradoodle serves as the cover model for the books.

    1. Thanks for stopping by, Susan. I'll have to check out your books. I think the only book I ever read with a dog narrator was a paranormal romance years ago where a woman dies and comes back as a dog to make amends for not being such a nice person as a human.

    2. I kind of remember that book--didn't really grab me. The Quinn books are wonderful, at least for mystery and dog fans. They're not really cozies, but they're not graphic or violent. My books are ostensibly middlegrade mysteries, but are actually aimed at and have had good response from dog and mystery lovers of all ages.

      I put your books in my Kindle queue--they look great-- and I LOVE the covers. Brilliant design!!

    3. Thanks, Susan! Hope you enjoy the books when you get to them. Glad you're having success with your books.