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Sunday, December 14, 2014

Excerpt from Dog Dreamzzz by Susan Waller Miccio

Dog Dreamzzz (2014), the second Abby Swann Mystery, continues the adventures of Abby and her two Tibetan Spaniels, Dawa (“Moon”) and Senge (“Lion”), and introduces Ah Choo, a sassy Siamese. The challenge of writing Dog Dreamzzz was to integrate the human and animal characters in distinct but interwoven plotlines—murder mystery, history mystery and fantasy mystery—and bring the three to a unified and thrilling finale.

The murder mystery gets underway during the aftermath of a hurricane when the Tibbies find the body of the mayor of Murderkill Beach sprawled in the marsh. The history mystery begins when Dawa unearths a cache of letters hidden in the 18th century museum house where Abby volunteers as an interpreter. In the fantasy mystery, Dawa’s recurring dreams reveal a former life in ancient Tibet.

While stories that “anthropomorphize” animal characters make many writers cringe, I’ve never had qualms about putting thoughts into the minds and words into the mouths of the intelligent, inquisitive and talkative Tibetan Spaniel. As you’ll see in this short excerpt, narrative featuring human characters is in first person, but the animal characters’ story is told in third person.

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Chapter Fourteen

“Your tongue is sticking out,” Dawa whispered. She was lying on the pillow next to a mound of mussed sun-streaked hair, all that was visible of Mom.
“What?” Senge muttered and, lifting his head, blinked at Dawa. “You woke me up.” Closing his eyes, he plopped his head back onto the yellow and blue quilt and smacked his lips. “Go back to sleep, Sister.”
“Well, your tongue was sticking out, Brother,” Dawa retorted. She flexed her forepaws and stretched languorously.
“Mmmmft,” said the mound.
Senge opened one eye. “You’re gonna wake Mom,” he growled. “Go back to sleep, Sister.”
“I had the dream again,” Dawa murmured.
“Brrrt!” said the cat.
Both Tibbies glared at the interloper perched atop the mahogany chest-over-chest.
“What dream?” asked the cat in a gravelly voice. His tail swished.
“None of your business, cat,” grumbled Senge. “Heh! You can talk!”
“Of course I can talk,” the cat said.
“You’ve been here two weeks without saying a word!” Senge snapped. “And you’d better get down from there. Mom doesn’t like us getting on the wood furniture.”
With his delicate sable paw, the cat reached down, lifted the brass drawer bail and dropped it—CLACK.
“Sh-h-h! You’ll wake her up!” Senge hissed.
“What dream?” the cat repeated and raised the bail again.
“Stop—don’t drop that again!” Dawa growled. “I’ll tell you.”
Ah Choo gently lowered the bail with barely a clink and, lifting the paw, scrutinized his toes. After smoothing his toe-fur with his tongue, he hunkered and then leapt in one smooth, graceful motion, landing on the bed next to Senge with a barely perceptible bump.
Senge snorted and bristled.
The cat dismissively flicked the tip of his tail and stalked to the head of the bed where he sat in front of Dawa.
“Who are you?” asked Dawa.
“They,” the cat said, glancing at the mound on the pillow, “call me Ah Choo, but my real name is Mongkut.”
To Tibbie ears, his voice sounded like a squawk. Dawa watched him lick his paw and rub his cheek with it. He fixed her with a chilly blue stare.
“What dream?” Mongkut aka Ah Choo asked again.
“I dreamt I was a monk.”
“Ahhh,” replied Mongkut with a twitch of his whiskers, “another life.” He settled into sphinx position and curled his tail at his side. “Tell me all.”

“Will you three hush up?” I muttered as I dragged myself upright in the bed and pushed my hair out of my eyes. The cat launched himself from the tall four-poster and disappeared through the door to the hall. The Tibbies scrambled down the bedstairs and pursued him with scritching of nails on the hardwoods. I sighed and squinted at the clock.

“Jeeminny. Six freakin’ A-M on a Sunday morning. Gimme a break.” With that, I fell backward, pulled the quilt over my face and was soon oblivious.

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Susan Waller Miccio is the internationally recognized author of nonfiction books about Tibetan Spaniels plus the two Abby Swann Mysteries. Her classic, The Tibetan Spaniel—A Gift from the Roof of the World, is still the go-to book for Tibbie owners worldwide. When not working full-time for the State of Delaware, Susan writes and volunteers with Tibetan Spaniel rescue. She is a member of the Tibetan Spaniel Club of America, the Potomac Valley Tibetan Spaniel Club and the Dog Writers Association of America and patron of the Tibetan Spaniel Association of Victoria (Australia). Susan and her “attitude” of Tibbies—Coco, Twyla and Suzy Q—live in rural Delaware where she is plotting her next mystery. Visit Susan on www.susanwallermiccio.com and Facebook.

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