The Portrait of Doreene Gray – Review

Available in hardback and ebook right now.

Lesa Holstein is the winner of the 2009 and 2010 Spinetingler Awards for Best Reviewer, plus a slew of other awards. Here’s her review of the second in my Tripping Magazine mystery series.

Once again, Esri Allbritten has given readers a solid mystery with a well-developed cast of characters. But, it’s the staff of Tripping Magazine that are the best characters, as they argue and plot their way to the solution of the mystery. Angus tries to find a paranormal connection and Michael tries to debunk all such possibilities. If you enjoy a little local history, a few ghost stories, fun sleuths, and a great deal of humor, you won’t go wrong with the latest Chihuahua mystery, The Portrait of Doreene Gray.

Click here to read the entire review.

Click here to read the first chapters of the book.

Click here to buy Portrait at the bookseller of your choice.

And if you haven’t read the first book in the series, it’s available in paperback now.

“I am not a chipmunk.”

I was upstairs at the computer when I heard Josie O whining downstairs. I ignored her, as usual, but it kept up for longer than usual, so I decided to make sure nothing was wrong. She was standing at the bottom of the stairs with her head stuck in her chipmunk stump toy.

I know I should have taken a picture, but I felt too bad for her. Her ear was sticking out one of the holes and everything. It was really pathetic.

Josie O’s weight

Josie weighed 2 lbs. 10 ozs. mid-morning on our digital postal scale. The weight chart for Chihuahuas projects her at 4 lbs as an adult. I think that was the projection when she was born, too. Apparently these things are pretty accurate.

We took our longest walk yet this morning, around a full block plus a bit. She behaved really well, with only a little random woofing. Didn’t see any other dogs.  Sorry I didn’t get a better photo. Am still getting used to everything, and seem to have too few hands.

Cat and Puppy, Emphasis on Cat

Yesterday I fed treats jointly to Musette la Plume (cat) and Josie O (Chihuahua puppy), as part of my ongoing work to have the cat get used to the dog. Josie was on the floor, and Musette was on the second step up. After I felt they’d had enough treats, I started petting them, but Josie was in a rambunctious mood and put her front paws on the bottom step, trying to reach the cat. Musette hissed at her – once, twice, and then she bopped the puppy on top of her little head. Honestly, I’ve been waiting for Musette to grow a pair of big-girl titties, to mix a whole bunch of metaphors. Josie yelped once, and not very loudly (she can be a real drama queen). I checked, and saw nary a mark. I do think Musette understands that Josie is a baby, so she must have kept her claws in. Man, she’s fast. I’ve always been in awe of cats’ physical abilities. They’re such perfect predators; right up there with sharks.

Unfortunately, the kitty machismo probably won’t last. It takes a long time for Musette to learn stuff, or possibly she doesn’t want to. She continues to run across the living room to the stairs if Josie is there, unless I’m there to distract/restrain all 2.5 pounds of puppy menace. I’ve  moved one of the cat posts next to my desk, so Zetty can look out the window and get the occasional butt scratch instead of occupying my lap. She’s still a very happy cat. She’s especially happy that she gets two wet meals a day, which she didn’t before. Life is a mix of shadows and light, small dogs and canned food.

Josie is doing very well on walks, although for the first time today, she decided the outdoors was overrated and she wanted to go back home. Might have been too chilly, or maybe she smelled something scary, dunno. Yesterday was in the 60s, and we got two walks in. Twice people in cars stopped to talk to me about her and pet her from their windows. She didn’t even have a cute little sweater on, just her harness. We live in a town that mostly owns big dogs, suitable for back country hiking and swimming in the creek, so Josie is a novelty. Me, I wanted a dog suitable for neighborhood strolls and sitting on my table at outdoor coffee shops.

Josie O, and Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers

Josie O had a big day yesterday. She took her very first walk. It was morning, around 30 degrees F, so I put her black sweater and parka on and took her outside. Having never been on a real street, she was a little nervous about the occasional car going by, so I picked her up and carried her for a little. Then I put her back down. No more nervousness. She trotted along behind me. Whenever she didn’t make me wait and went in a straight line, I praised her to the skies. We walked about the length of a block, probably.

Yesterday I also gave a friend a ride from the hospital, very near our house, to her house. Joanie visited Josie a few weeks ago and fell in love with her, so she begged that I bring her in the car. So I did. Josie is good about peeing on command on her pad. Basically, I’ve praised her so much for peeing that if I put her on the pad and start praising, she pees. Handy. So she went potty before we left.

Joanie rode in the back so she could sit next to Josie in her car seat. Joanie has a great fenced patio, so Josie got to run around out there when she wasn’t being carried around or sitting in Joanie’s lap. When it was time to go, I took out the smallest of her pads, which I’d brought, and she peed again before we drove home.

I thought sure she’d be really tired for the rest of the day, but after a nap, she was her usual lively self for the rest of the day. Oh, and Joanie took the picture, above, of me and Josie in her kitchen.

In other news, I’m giving a workshop today on High Concept Marketing for your books, through the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers. I love working with people on that. There will be index cards. Oh, yes, there will be index cards.

I’ll be giving a longer version of that workshop with Karen Albright Lin, on the Thursday before the remainder of the Pikes Peak Writers Conference.

Plumbing and puppies

Angel Joe is taking a little time off work today to finish up the plumbing in the house. I say he’s “taking off,” but I can hear him chiming in on a phone meeting as he plumbs. The house came with polybutyl pipe, which is prone to developing pinhole leaks (we had some). That kind of pipe was recalled later on, with the attendant class action suit. Anyway, Joe has been steadily replacing it with copper over the years. The two upstairs bathrooms were the last to do. He’s very excited about the prospect of turning the water pressure up to full.

Josie went to the vet this morning for her second-to-last round of vaccinations. Dr. Bauman was impressed by both Josie’s health and temperament. Apparently she has two regular Chi clients who are pains in the ass.

Josie has incredible amounts of energy. I’m so looking forward to being able to take her on walks, but that will have to wait until her last vaccinations, at the end of Feb. She and Musette are getting closer to actual contact all the time. Last night Musette let me carry her on her back through the living room, and then put her on her back in my lap and pet her. I was on one end of the couch, and Joe and Josie were on the other.

This morning I was able to squat with Josie in my lap while petting Musette, who was milling around. I was praise talking like crazy, which I’m sure they both thought was directed at them. When Musette rubbed along my thigh, Josie stuck her nose in that big plumy tail as it wafted by. Then she shook her head like, “That tickles!” I’m sure there will be ups and downs, but they’re very calm in each other’s presence right now. Will trim Musette’s claws again. I’m thinking a nose sniff will come very soon.

The “When Will Josie Climb the Stairs” pool. No fee, win stuff.

Josie, my Chihuahua puppy, is bound to try to climb the stairs to the second floor at some point. I’m offering a free advance review copy of The Portrait of Doreene Gray to the person who guesses closest to the date/time she does. It’s just like sports betting, only cuter and fluffier! (Also, no one named “Brass-knuckle Chuck” will come to your house and beat you up if you lose.)

Here are the stats.
  • Josie weighed two pounds, two ounces as of yesterday, January 26.
  • She is three months old.
  • Two days ago, she put her front paws on the bottom stair and looked up. That’s all she’s done.
  • There were no stairs in her previous house.
  • She has had one instance of being timid with a shallow outside step.
  • Each stair riser is 7.5 inches tall. There are 14 stairs.
  • Josie’s legs are 4 inches long.
  • The cat hangs out upstairs.
  • So does Angel Joe, and Josie LOVES Angel Joe.
  • We are not encouraging her to climb the stairs. That’s the cat’s safe space, and it’s also carpeted up there, and Josie isn’t fully housebroken.

You can leave your guess as a comment here or on Facebook. Once you pick your date/time, you can’t change it. There will be two prizes:

An ARC (advance review copy) of The Portrait of Doreene Gray goes to the person who guesses when Josie will climb all the way to the stop of the stairs.

Some glow-in-the-dark Chihuahua Soap goes to the person who guesses when Josie climbs at least two stairs, but doesn’t get all the way to the top.

If I were guessing, I personally wouldn’t guess within a week and a half of now, but this is my first puppy. You long-time Chi owners may know better.

—————————————

Dorothy MacKay-Holmberg, (here), Jan. 29, (time?) Note: I applaud Dorothy’s faith in Josie. It was clever of her to guess the tail-end of this weekend, because Josie is out of her pen more on Sat & Sun than on weekdays.

Nikki of Obsessive Chihuahua Disorder, Jan 31, 10:00 am

Shirley Blanks-Pettis, FB, Feb 3, noon

Deborah Sheeler, FB, Feb 8, 11:00 am

Theresa Edkins Danley, FB, Feb. 9, 11:00 am

Fawn Frazer, FB, Feb 10, 10:00 am

Shawna Nicole McCain, FB, Feb 10

Denise Fain Bast, FB, Feb 14, 10:30 am (Thank you for getting the ball rolling!)

Anna Fontana, FB, Feb. 14 (time?)

Wilhelmina Callaghan, FB, Feb. 14, 7:00 pm

Bloomers Chihuahuas, FB, Feb 17, 5:00 pm

Karen Bryant Doering, (comment below), Feb 18, 10:00 pm

Debra Cochran, Feb 23, 6:30 pm

Marlene Morrill, FB, Feb 27, “before 2:00 pm”

Marsha Graves-Realtor, FB, Feb 29 , 8:00 am

Faith Craig, FB, March 6

Debbie Fanton, FB, March 10

Dianne Lynn Stebens, FB, “never”

 

Update: Debbie Fanton from FB won this.

A new sweater for Josie O and an upcoming book on Kindle

I’ve been taking Josie O outside, just on the porch and the grassy area immediately beyond. Our house doesn’t front on the street, so I figure this is safe. She hasn’t been through her entire vaccination cycle, so that’s as much as I dare risk, to minimize the chances of her getting diseases from other dogs.

Being outside distracts her from the fact that she’s wearing a harness and leash, and she’s getting used to them pretty quickly, but it’s cold outside, and she starts shivering within about a minute. I’ve been looking for a sweater small enough to fit her, and Petco came through for me yesterday. Yes, the brand name is Smoochie Pooch. If you can’t embrace the cute, don’t get a Chihuahua.

(Put your cursor on the pix to get mouseover captions.)

In other news, Telling Lies, the book I’m going to self-publish, came through its reading with the psychologist with flying colors. (It has a therapist in it, and I wanted to check for realism.) She was very complimentary, although I don’t have permission to quote her yet, so you’ll have to take my word for it. This story also includes a Chihuahua, although the poor thing has some problems. Don’t worry – happy ending, happy ending.

So the next three things on my agenda are:

1) learn to format the book for Kindle and start that process,

2) compose back-cover copy, including a descriptive blurb,

3) decide whether I want to use the cover I made with clip art, which is acceptable, or hire a graphic artist to spiff it up (especially in the title font area) or even start from scratch.