Drop Dead for Healthy Dogs!

Sheila BonehamAward-winning author Sheila Webster Boneham writes fiction and nonfiction, much of it focused on animals, nature, and travel. Although best known for her writing about dogs and cats for the past fifteen years, Sheila also writes fiction, narrative nonfiction, and poetry, teaches writing workshops and classes, and is interested in speaking to groups about writing, creativity, and related topics. Drop Dead on Recall, her new mystery, is available now from your local bookseller and online – ebook and Audible editions will be available in October. Find Sheila at http://www.sheilaboneham.com, on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sheilawrites, and on Twitter @sheilaboneham.

Like most writers, I’m just the tiniest bit goal-oriented and competitive. Born this way, according to my mother (who, I might add, probably provided much of the genetic material that made me this way!). I’ve been involved since childhood in activities that provide lots of opportunity to challenge myself – competing with horses and dogs in a variety of sports, chasing advanced degrees, writing to publish….

But I also believe that when any of us win, we all win, and that when we work together with like-minded people, we create a synergy that carries us all farther than we could ever manage alone. I love cooperative ventures, especially when they include books, so I’ve joined forces with some dynamic people to make my new mystery, Drop Dead on Recall, work for something bigger than itself (or me).

I didn’t invent this idea. As many of you know, raffles and silent auctions to raise money for worthwhile causes are popular events at conferences, and the winners often get to be in the author’s next book. So last Spring, I jumped on that bandwagon and teamed up with two not-for-profit groups that work to help fight canine disease. They raffled off two roles for dogs in my second Animals in Focus mystery, which is scheduled for October 2013. It was great – the groups raised $2,200 between them, all of it donated to help rescued dogs or support research. And I got a couple of terrific doggy characters to play parts in the book!

Did I mention that I’m nuts about dogs? Cats too. You guessed that from my book cover, right? What the cover doesn’t show is that the protagonist’s dog is an Australian Shepherd, and that there’s a very important cat in the book, but that’s another story! The “protagdog” in Drop Dead on Recall is an Aussie named Jay, who was inspired by my own lovely Jay. He’s competing at an obedience trial when a competitor keels over, and his “teammate,” photographer Janet MacPhail, is inadvertently drawn into the investigation and intrigue. I have been involved with Australian Shepherds for almost two decades as owner, competitor, breeder, rescuer, and now judge, so when I decided to put the excitement of my book launch to work for another cause or two, The Australian Shepherd Health and Genetics Foundation seemed a natural choice. The organization helps support health research and disseminates information, and while the major focus is on Aussies, the impact of the work reaches far beyond the breed.

Drop Dead on RecallBut my interest in and love for animals includes more than Aussies (I’ve also had at least one Labrador Retriever since 1988, and many other animals have graced my life), and I wanted to support an all-dog group as well. One of the groups involved with my character raffle was Canine Health Events, and when they expressed interest in trying another project together, I was on it like a hungry dog on a dropped cookie. CHE’s purpose is to hold events, notably a big agility trial every spring, to raise money that they donate to support canine health research. That’s definitely a cause that helps all dogs, and because many of the health issues that affect dogs also affect other mammals, including human beings, the implications of the supported research are enormous.

To accomplish our purpose – a benefit book launch – we needed a bookseller. Like most authors, I love independent booksellers. I am fortunate to live in a town with several Indie bookstores, and one of my favorites is Pomegranate Books, partly because owner Kathleen Jewel often takes her dog to work and has let me bring my own dog for book signings in the past. Books and animals – what could be better? So I talked to Kathleen, she was excited about the idea, and Pomegranate is the official vendor for Drop Dead for Healthy Dogs. The store is handling the “virtual” part of the event, meaning online or telephone orders, and is also hosting a real live launch party on October 11 at 7 p.m. Come if you can!

I love this idea, if I do say so myself. As a working author, of course I want my books to sell. But we have created a book launch that does more than sell a book. Kathleen and I both think this is a model that could work for many authors, booksellers, and causes. If you like the idea, let us know. Better yet, Drop Dead for Healthy Dogs at http://www.sheilaboneham.com/dropdeadforhealthydogs.html ! Woof!