Thursday, January 21, 2010

Guest Blogger Carole Bugge

I’d like to introduce our guest blogger today, author Carole Bugge, who has written five mysteries under her own name. In addition, she writes thrillers under the name C. E. Lawrence. The first, Silent Screams, is available now.

Here’s Carole:

Hi everyone –

First of all, let me say that I’ve enjoyed reading your blogs – I’m very impressed at your craftiness, which is good for hobbies as well as mystery writing! Alas, I’m not especially crafty myself, though my older sister Katie is, and makes wonderful things at home, from quilts to jewelry. So at least it runs in my family! And I am an avid fan and consumer of crafts, which I liken to being a reader – where would we writers be without our faithful readers? (I am especially a basket freak – I own over a dozen hand crafted baskets from all over the world.) Oh, I once knitted a scarf for my mother. When I was finished it rolled into a tight little tube. I have no idea what I did wrong.

Since Thursday is pet day, I thought I’d start by mentioning the fact that my younger sister Suzanne and her daughter Kylie have long worked in animal shelters both as volunteers and paid employees. My sister is also an ER nurse, so her training there fits in really well with her shelter work. They are also both vegetarians – and though I have neither the constitution nor the moral fiber for that myself, I do admire them both.

My own interest in animals and pets started, as I suspect it does for most people, in childhood. I desperately wanted a horse, but that was not going to happen, since both my parents were afraid of horses. So later in life I took lessons and learned to ride, even riding in a couple of local shows, and even took a few ribbons, thanks to my wonderful horse Cora more than my own skill. In my first Claire Rawlings mystery, Who Killed Blanche Dubois? there is a horseback riding scene where Claire is shot at while riding on a trail in Garrison, New York, which is where I ride – at Leona Dushin’s Manitou Farm.

Leona keeps a stable of delightful Morgans, and the trail system in lower Putnam County is expansive and gorgeous. On more than one occasion my friend Evelyn Huang and I have ridden far into the woods and gotten lost – so we do what any good rider would do: drop the reins and let the horses find their way home. Luckily, their built-in navigation system is better than ours, and they brought us safely back to the barn.

Pets and writing seem to go hand in hand – I don’t believe I know a single writer who hasn’t owned a pet at some time or another. When I lived in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, with my British husband Chris we had three English bulldogs – all of them rescue dogs people had given us. The matron of the lot was Victoria, and she was ugly even for a bulldog, with a lopsided jaw, protruding teeth, and the usual health problems associated with that breed. Even with frequent trips to the vet, she had inflamed, runny eyes; great loops of drool dangled from her mouth. Her breath would stop a charging crocodile. But she was fearless, taking no guff from any dog, no matter how big, and lived to the ripe old age of fourteen – ancient for a bulldog!
Bulldogs are not the most intelligent of breeds, and our big white male, Ruffy, would regularly wander off down the road, until he got to the Carborro 7-11, where he would wait patiently in the parking lot for us to come get him. The phone would ring on a Saturday morning, and Walter at the Gas-n-Go would say, “Y’all wanna come get your dog? He’s sittin’ in the parkin’ lot.”

The brain of a bulldog is rather like a maze with no exit. You can get in, but you can’t get out. Our youngest, Gwenivere, was a collection of indecipherable behavior. On one occasion we caught her with her head in the bag of chicken feed on the porch, so we hid that on a higher shelf. The next day we heard barking in the paddock, and went out to find her with her front legs planted in the horses’ feed bowl, gobbling up their grain as fast as she could. When the horses attempted to get near, she lifted her head long enough to bark and snap at them, then went back to her task of eating their food. Finally, stuffed full of oats and barley, she trotted to the kitchen and fell asleep in the kindling box, nestled in among the logs and wood chips, filling the air with her gentle snoring, like the purr of a chubby, sleepy dragon.

More recently, I lived with a fat, indolent tabby I got from a local shelter. I named him Jabba the Cat due to his enormous girth, and took him with me to my cabin in Woodstock, where I spend summers at Byrdcliffe Arts Colony. He was my muse of sorts, perched like a roosting hen on the big plaid couch (arts colony chic) as I typed away at my thriller, Silent Screams (under my pen name for thrillers, C. E. Lawrence.) He was there during every draft of the manuscript, and through the long rewrite process, leaving me only to prowl the woods for a skunk to tackle. Finally he found one, and came in one night so proud of himself, convinced that he smelled of the finest perfume. He settled himself in his spot on the couch and smiled at me, as cats do, as I hunted frantically for odor elimination remedies on the internet. Note to reader: forget about tomato juice – it does nothing. Instead, I recommend white vinegar and gentle shampoo.

So now the book is out, and just yesterday I heard from Michaela Hamilton, my wonderful editor at Kensington, that Audible Books has contracted with them to record both Silent Screams and the upcoming sequel, Silent Victim. And we also have a contract with Verlag, a German publisher. So life is good. Happy 2010 to you all!


Linda O. Johnston said...

Welcome, Carole. Isn't it fun how pets have such different personalities, even members of the same breed? It's great that Jabba the Cat was such good company while you were writing Silent Screams--except for the skunk incident, of course!

Camille Minichino said...

Good news on your thriller, Carole!
And yes, just as writers need readers, crafters need fans and consumers, so thanks for that!

Everyone's first knitting project ends up looking like the ball of yarn it came from, so I loved reading about yours.

Thanks for visiting us today.

Monica Ferris said...

Love your comments on bulldogs. We had one for several years and I agree that an idea could penetrate his foggy mind but only rarely find its way out again.

C.E. Lawrence said...

Thanks for the warm welcome, Linda - yes, it is amazing how each pet has their own character, just like people! My cat isn't warm and fuzzy, but he has his endearing ways. Even the skunk incident was fun, because I learned something about odor removal!

Thanks for the good wishes and welcome, Camille - and also for the supportive remarks about my doomed knitting career. I fell much better now! And as a consumer of crafts and handiwork, I am pleased to be a "fan" of all you creative folks.
Monica, how fun that you had bulldogs! Yes, foggy is exactly the right way to describe their minds.... and also just weird and quirky. Our Victoria took to chasing jet planes in her middle age - for some reason, she thought they were something to be chased, and used to run along the field barking at them when they flew low over the rugby field. I laughed so hard I fell down.

Janie Emaus said...

Nice to meet you Carole. I love the way you described you bulldog!

Joanna Campbell Slan said...

Carol, my crochet and knitted stuff still forms rolls. But who cares? I had fun doing it, and it's cheaper than therapy.

C.E. Lawrence said...

Oh, Joanna, you are SO right about that! And you can multi-task while doing it, too!

signlady217 said...

I still have my first knitting project. When I was in first grade I knitted a pair of red slippers and took them to show-and-tell at school. Then a number of years later, mom was cleaning out boxes of stuff and washing things that had a bit of mildew smell and threw the slippers in the machine. Wouldn't have been a problem, except that load was being done in hot water and the yarn was supposed to be washed in cold! Yep, they shrank all right, but at least they're not curled up in a ball! I still have them, too.

C.E. Lawrence said...

Nice to meet you too, Janie - for some reason your comment only showed up today on my computer... ghost in the machine. Yeah, bulldogs require patience and a certain amount of wonder, I guess. ( :

C.E. Lawrence said...

Hi Signlady -
For some reason your comment didn't post on my page until this morning... hmmm. That's such a cute story! I wonder if the slippers would now fit a child or a doll? They sound adorable. And I'm glad you have a mom who doesn't throw out your stuff - good for her! ( ;