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Kandy Shepherd | Four Legged Scene Stealers


Hi Fresh Fiction readers, this is my first time here…

People ask me why I wrote dogs as central characters in both my romantic comedies for Berkley Sensation: my debut book LOVE IS A FOUR-LEGGED WORD and its follow-on title HOME IS WHERE THE BARK IS (to be released on July 6).

I didn’t actually set out to be a “doggy” writer. But animals are such an important part of my life, I guess it was inevitable that they would also be important in the life of my fictional characters. Besides, writing dogs is such fun. And I get to have cute dogs on my covers!

In LOVE IS A FOUR-LEGGED WORD, Brutus the millionaire mutt is a very greedy, naughty little dog who inherits a lot of money. He is as important a character as the hero and heroine, feisty chef Maddy and lawyer Tom O’Brien who are thrown together because of Brutus.

In HOME IS WHERE THE BARK IS, the “cover” dogs Mack, a sad-eyed black mutt, and Bessie, a purse-sized Yorki-poo, play an important role in bringing together lovely dog nut Serena Oakley and hunky PI Nick Whalen. (Serena is Maddy’s best friend in the first book.) There’s a cast of other quirky canine characters, too, as Serena runs a doggy day-care center.

My doggy characters don’t talk. We don’t see inside their minds. They’re animals. Not people. But like the real animals I love, my fictional four-legged characters have distinct personalities with their own quirks and loveable qualities.

I had to be careful writing both LOVE IS A FOUR-LEGGED WORD and HOME IS WHERE THE BARK IS, that the doggy characters didn’t become four-legged scene stealers and overwhelm the developing romance between hero and heroine. That said, the reactions of the humans to the animals—and vice versa—can give great insight into the human’s personality. The night I first met my husband, as he told me all about his dog and his horse, I knew I’d met “The One”. I couldn’t fall in love with a man who wasn’t kind to animals, so how could I expect anything else for my heroines?

How do I research my canine characters? I’ve had dogs and cats since I was a small child. As a writer, I’m a “people watcher” but I’m also an animal watcher and have borrowed aspects from several of the dogs I’ve met over the years to help create my fictional canines. However, like my human characters, at some stage in the writing my canine characters take on their own personalities and become as real to me as any flesh-and-blood-and-fur dogs.

Do you have a special pet in your life who makes you laugh?

Kandy Shepherd writes fun, feel-good fiction. She shares her life with husband, daughter and a menagerie of animals including a dog, cats, horses, miniature cattle and chickens. She writes contemporary romance for Berkley Sensation. HOME IS WHERE THE BARK IS is released on July 6.

Kandy loves to hear from readers, contact her through her website.




38 comments posted.

Re: Kandy Shepherd | Four Legged Scene Stealers

I actually have 2 pets who make me laugh. My dog Bandit, who suddenly passed away last September, was the sunshine of my life, and never failed to make me laugh with her antics throughout the day. My cat Bailey, showed up outside as a starving kitten when I was feeding the birds, and had the chance to latch on to Bandit before she died. They used to sleep together and play together outside. Now Bailey goes for walks outside with us, jumping out from the tall grass to scare us, or following me to the garden. He also runs possums off of the porch at night, and never fails to do things that not only amaze me, but also bring a smile to my face. I'm so glad he adopted me as his mom!!
(Peggy Roberson 12:40pm July 4, 2010)

I have 2 dogs that are the light of my life! Scooter and Little Bit. Scooter is a big mixed breed and wants to be a lap puppy! Little Bit is a Jack Russel and fiest mix. He is a lap puppy. BTW, they are both fully grown, but if you call them dogs, they won't answer! Call them puppies and they come running..
(Martha Lawson 1:05pm July 4, 2010)

I have two dogs -- "Girl Friend" "rescued me." For nearly 4 years I've been going thru a traumatic time in my life. One day just out of the clear blue I visited the animal shelter and there was this pathetic looking golden lab -- she is about 3-4 years old and weighed 58 pouds (about 20 below what she should be). Her beautiful brown eyes were both infected but they said to my heart "I've been waiting for you, what took you so long?" That was 2 years ago and she is truly my "Girl Friend". Everyone thinks that is a strange name, but not me! Stella is my other love -- she is part husky and German shepherd. She also likes to eat.
We just discovered she has a malignancy in her jawline, and it is killing us. Vet said at her age he wouldn't advise surgery and a splint to replace the jaw -- that she would let us know when she was ready to go.

Also have a 22 pound long haired solid black "alley" cat named Jess and a long haired solid grey one named Bo, who is 16.

I love all the series coming out about animal sitters. "Four Letter Word" was especially delightful. Will search out your new one.

Animals are such a part of my life and I don't know what I would do without them. Just wish they didn't shed so much!

Keep up the good work....
(Betty Cox 1:44pm July 4, 2010)

My long haired, black cat Lola, is the Mae West of cats. She never meets a stranger! She has just a little more feline bearing than most cats do. She's the queen and she knows it. She welcomes visitors by sashaying into the room, tapping them with her paw, telling them it's time for the petting and loving to begin. She gives me hours of good company and laughs every day.
(Jill Hayden 2:10pm July 4, 2010)

I have two dogs in the house. Love them a lot.
I love reading books with pets in them.
(Carol Cobun 2:54pm July 4, 2010)

I love books which have pets among their characters. I've just finished one in which a three-legged dog "Lucky" has an important role. He's a small dynamo in spite of his handicap: among other things he's a champion Frisbee catcher and the winner of a lonely little girl's heart.

I noticed that in the contest this month your previous book is misnamed Love Is a Four Letter [sic] instead of, Four Legged Word.
(Sigrun Schulz 3:49pm July 4, 2010)

oopx = I said "Four Letter Word" instead of "Four Legged Word" -- my bad! Knew better, honestly.
(Betty Cox 4:31pm July 4, 2010)

Yes we have a cat even though after losing our first two cats to old age we swore we wouldn't get another cat, we went for one, so cute, and the runt of a litter. Our pets are family!
(Diane Sadler 6:03pm July 4, 2010)

Have not had a pet for years now, enjoying not having to worry about them; but do so enjoying going to the kids' houses and seeing theirs. Kind of like having grandkids--enjoy and then go home!!!
(Barbara Studer 6:07pm July 4, 2010)

I can easily see how the animals could take over the story completely. LOVE IT!!
(Mary Preston 7:00pm July 4, 2010)

I'm not at a place in my life
right now that would work for a
pet. Hopefully, I'll be able to
get one in the next couple of
years though!
(Jacqueline Cook 7:09pm July 4, 2010)

Hi everyone, thanks so much for your
comments. I live "down under" in
Australia, so it's time for me to go to my
"day job"--I look forward to answering
them all when I get home!
(Kandy Shepherd 7:17pm July 4, 2010)

Hey Sigrun, thanks for pointing out that
mis-spelling in my contest.
(Kandy Shepherd 7:18pm July 4, 2010)

Your books sound wonderful! I, too, love dogs. We have a terrific yellow Lab sleeping right outside our den window as I am typing this. Dogs are so loyal and lovable. I'd be suspicious of anyone who didn't love dogs.
(Gladys Paradowski 9:34pm July 4, 2010)

I've told friends in the past that I was raised by dogs! I had two dogs in my childhood that were very important to me and my siblings. The first one, who followed me home when I was about 6, saved me and my younger sister once and was also our babysitter in the afternoons when we played outside with the neighborhood children (he was fairly strict about us kids playing nicely together). The second one lived with us during my high school and college years and was considered by my parents as yet another child, albeit one that would listen to them and not ask for spending money.

I don't have any furry pets right now because, as it turned out, I'm allergic to dogs, cats, and horsehair. Oh well.

And yes, I'm more inclined to pick up a book that has a dog on the cover. :)
(S Tieh 11:56pm July 4, 2010)

Peggy, Bailey sounds adorable. My cat
Cindy is what I call a "dog-cat" as she
always wants to come on walks with
us. She also loves ambushing our
ankles at any opportunity. Bailey
sounds like a cat with a similar
personality. So sorry to hear about
Bandit. It's heartbreaking to lose a
beloved pet.
(Kandy Shepherd 4:39am July 5, 2010)

Martha, your puppies (not dogs!)
sound adorable--and I love their
My fictional Mack in HOME IS WHERE
THE BARK IS is like Scooter--he's an
enormous dog that keeps trying to
scramble on to my heroine, Serena's
lap. (I borrowed that aspect from a real
life "lap puppy" belonging to one of my
friends. It's hilarious to watch him in
(Kandy Shepherd 4:42am July 5, 2010)

Hi Betty, Girl Friend sounds so
beautiful, truly a soulmate. I'm so sad
to hear about Stella, but I'm sure her
remaining time with you will be filled
with love and she will know that. My
beautiful cat Albert turns 19 on
Wednesday, he's getting so feeble I'm
praying he'll make it. Your Bess and Jo
sound gorgeous. I'm so glad you
WORD and home you enjoy BARK, too.
(Kandy Shepherd 4:47am July 5, 2010)

"The Mae West of cats!" Jill, I love the way
you describe Lola. She sounds like she
has personality plus! Reading about her
made me smile.
(Kandy Shepherd 4:48am July 5, 2010)

Hey Carol, I love reading books with pets
in them, too. They just add that extra
layer of pleasure to a story, I think!
(Kandy Shepherd 4:51am July 5, 2010)

Hi Diane, my pets are family, too, and
loved by all of us. Though sometimes my
darling husband has been heard to
grumble about the feed and vet bills!
(Kandy Shepherd 5:11am July 5, 2010)

Hey, Barbara, I guess with grandcats and
granddogs you get all the fun with none
of the work!
(Kandy Shepherd 5:12am July 5, 2010)

HI Mary, yes the animals can't be allowed
to take over the story but they try their
darndest to do just that!
(Kandy Shepherd 5:13am July 5, 2010)

Hi Sigrun, the book with the three
legged dog sounds very moving. My
neighbor had a little three-legged dog
for many years who was quite the
neighborhood character. When he
eventually passed away at a very good
age--and after a decent mourning
period-- my neighbors went to the
animal rescue for another dog. Guess
what they found? Another little dog
who had just lost his leg in a car
accident. Needless to say they brought
him home where he is much loved!
(Kandy Shepherd 9:16am July 5, 2010)

I'm with you Gladys. In my books, it is the
villains who don't like dogs!
(Kandy Shepherd 9:17am July 5, 2010)

Jacqueline, I have had times in my life
when it has not been possible to have
a pet in my life. They were difficult. At
one stage, my longing for my own pet
(we were living overseas) was so
strong, my husband said he was
worried I was going to "petnap"
someone's dog or cat! Right now I am
very grateful for my wonderful four-
legged friends. I hope you get to that
happy place again, too!
(Kandy Shepherd 9:25am July 5, 2010)

Hi S Tieh, I loved your story about your
dogs being like siblings--what
wonderful animals they must have
been, and how fortunate you were to
have such memories. How ironic that
you should turn out to be allergic. I
wonder if you will grow out of that--I
know people who have.
And yes, I am always attracted to a
cover with a dog on it. I love that my
new book has two!
(Kandy Shepherd 9:30am July 5, 2010)

Hi Sara--Lex and Winston sound like
sensible animals who know the value
of exercise! I sometimes think pets see
a computer as some kind of rival for
their owner's affection...
Thank you for having me blog at Fresh
Fiction--it's been so nice to meet with
your readers!
(Kandy Shepherd 9:37am July 5, 2010)

One of the best things about writing
books with animal characters is
getting to connect with readers who
share my love of animals.
Thank you, Fresh Fiction readers, for
sharing your stories of the special pets
who make you laugh. They certainly
made me smile!
(Kandy Shepherd 9:39am July 5, 2010)

I have three dogs that are like my kids, I love them so much we had four but three weeks ago we had to have my big Rotti(Yogi) put down due to cancer, I miss him so much he was 12 and had been a great friend and protecter of the house and mom. He will be missed a great deal.
(Vickie Hightower 12:18pm July 5, 2010)

We have had many pets over the years. We currently have 3 dogs, 2 cats, 1 snake, and 7 peacocks (3 are chicks just a week old). Olivia, is a 14 year old lab mix. She is such a sweetheart. I'm afraid she won't be around too much longer. She will be sorely missed. We have an 8 year old terrier mutt that is an absolute nut. She has that annoying terrier yap and bounced all over the place. She is a goofy, funny, wonderful little dog.
(Patricia Barraclough 2:31pm July 5, 2010)

I'm allergic to animals so miss out on having a four legged animal in my home. I know I would really enjoy them if I didn't get sick from them!
(Brenda Rupp 6:21pm July 5, 2010)

I have three Jack Russell terriers and they are amazing and loving boys. They give their heart to my children and bring so much joy 'to my family.
(Darci Paice 2:17am July 6, 2010)

Hi Vickie, it's heartbreaking to lose a
pet, I'm so sad to hear about your
Yogi, you must be missing him so
much. I lost my darling cat Kira this
time last year just before she made 18
and I still miss her. (The good news is
that her brother Albert turns 19
(Kandy Shepherd 9:14am July 6, 2010)

Hi Patricia, wow, you have peacocks!
How beautiful... A family friend used to
have them when I was a child and we
would be in awe when a male
displayed his tail.
Your dogs sound so sweet. In HOME IS
WHERE THE BARK is I have a lovely old
golden lab character named Freya
because I love old, loyal dogs like your
Olivia so much.
(Kandy Shepherd 9:30am July 6, 2010)

Brenda, I've heard it said that we are
sometimes allergic to what we love the
most. At least you can admire them
from afar! Oh, and fictional dogs and
cats can't make you sneeze or itch, so
you can enjoy them, too!
(Kandy Shepherd 9:32am July 6, 2010)

Darci, I love Jack Russells and yours
sound delightful. There is nothing like
the joy animals can bring and I think it is
a wonderful relationship for children to
(Kandy Shepherd 9:34am July 6, 2010)

My little Jack Russel wanna be
Chloe is as much a part of the
family as any of the kids so
putting them in your stories
seems only natural.
(Lisa Richards 9:04pm July 8, 2010)

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