Monday, June 3, 2019

It’s Aliiiive! - A Guest Post & Giveaway

I'm happy to turn over my blog to Dana Dratch today. Dana writes the Red Herring Mystery series. SEEING RED is the second book in the series and was released last week.

It’s Aliiiive!

My favorite part of writing: when the characters become lively enough that they actually start to think and speak for themselves.

It’s a two-edged sword. They can surprise you. Like long-lost relatives at a family wedding after a few glasses of champagne, they can say and do things that totally catch you off guard. Sometimes sweet and generous. Sometimes silly or self-serving. Sometimes downright diabolical.

One of the first “people” to do that as I was writing the Red Herring mysteries (aside from my series main character, Alex), was the family puppy, Lucy. A former street stray, she hasn’t lost her sense of wonder at things like butterflies, clouds and trees. But she’s quickly acclimated to life in the ’burbs.

In SEEING RED, Alex needs to scope out the neighborhood to get a lead on a missing person. And she figures that Lucy will provide the perfect cover. As she explains:

Troll the neighborhood alone asking questions and you’re a nosy reporter, an unemployed weirdo, or a busybody with way too much free time.

But take a dog—preferably a cute and curious puppy—and suddenly you’re that friendly neighbor down the street.

What I didn’t realize until I started writing: Lucy has her own agenda. Having lived in the neighborhood a month or so now, she also has a regular routine of morning walks with her guy -- Alex’s brother, Nick. She also has her own life and her own canine pals. As Alex (and I), discovered quite by accident:

I spied a couple of guys chewing the fat at the end of the block. One had a golden retriever, the other a Jack  Russell.

“Beautiful morning!” I said.

“Hey, I know her!” the one with the golden said, bending to scratch Lucy’s ear. “So where’s Nick this morning?”

“He’s busy, so I’m pitching in to walk Lucy,” I explained. Not exactly a lie.

“I never did ask Nick, what exactly is she?” the Jack Russell owner asked, eyeing my young canine.

“She’s a Lucy,” I said, smiling. “Mixed breed.”

Lucy sniffed the Jack Russell, while the golden sniffed her. Then they reversed positions. All three tails wagged double time.

The neighborhood dog park had just gotten a new agility course? News to me. Ditto that Lucy was jonesing to give it a whirl. But Alex tells it better:

Early the next morning, after three very strong cups of coffee, I finally got Lucy to the dog park.

She loved the place. And the dogs. The agility course was a mixed bag.

Lucy ran around it at top speed. And she was fast. She dashed up and down the fixed ramps and raced through the tunnels like a pro. But the weave poles confused her. And when the teeter-totter shifted, she planted her plump puppy rump and refused to budge.

No amount of coaxing could get her to move.

I tried the high, happy voice. Nothing.

I tried softly calling her name. Nope.

She just stared into me with those big dark eyes. So I gently lifted Lucy from her perch and deposited her lightly onto the ground.

Time enough to learn this stuff when she was older. Besides, isn’t knowing when to ask for help a sign of maturity? If so, the pup was advanced well beyond her years.

Just listen to your characters. Trust me, they’ll tell you everything you need to know.


Dana Dratch is a personal finance writer and the author of CONFESSIONS OF A RED HERRING and SEEING RED. She's currently working on the third Alex Vlodnachek mystery adventure, RED HOT. Get updates at

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