A Wicked Welcome to V.M. Burns **plus giveaway**

by Julie, enjoying late summer in Somerville

I’m thrilled to welcome V.M. Burns back to the blog. I did some research, and Valerie first visited the blog back in 2018 when she was nominated for an Agatha for best first novel. Since then she’s written three series! Paw and Order is the 4th book in her Dog Club Mystery series.

Thanks, Julie and all of the Wickeds for inviting me to spend time with you all today.

Dog Training

I have always loved dogs. Cats are nice too, but all of the kids on my favorite television shows had dogs. My Three Sons had Tramp. Timmy had Lassie (or did Lassie have Timmy?). Even the Brady Bunch had Tiger. When I was a kid, my sister and I begged my parents for a dog. We were told when we got a house with a fenced in yard, we could get a dog. A brick ranch house within walking distance to an elementary school became my dream home because it had a fenced in yard. However, even at five-years-old, I knew there would be additional strings. Reminded of the promise, my mom added the stipulation that we could only have a dog that didn’t shed. My mom was a neat freak and hated dog hair. Dogs that don’t shed? Did such a thing exist? During the ancient times (pre-Internet), my sister and I went to our local library. Imagine our surprise when we learned that there was a dog breed that didn’t shed—Poodles. Research complete and with our budget of $10 dollars which we’d saved from our allowance, we scanned the classified ads for a poodle. That’s when our lives changed forever.

Candy was an AKC registered white toy poodle. She was ten-years-old when we got her ($10 didn’t go far back then either). Fortunately, small dogs live longer than big dogs. We bought her and brought her home. That’s when the training began. Not Candy’s training. That’s when she began to train us.

First lesson—No Dog Food. The people we bought her from assured us that Candy ate dog food. They may have even sent us home with a bag. However, Candy refused to eat it. “She’ll eat when she’s hungry,” my dad said. Three days later, the food bowl was still full. “Doesn’t Candy look weak?” I asked. That’s when we made our first mistake. My mother opened the freezer and took out a pound of hamburger. Cooked and placed in her dish, Candy ate every morsel. From that day until the day she died, Candy ate hamburger six days per week. Why only six days? Because, on Sundays she was given a choice between hamburger and chicken. I can still remember my mom saying, “Bark for the one you want.” Invariably, Candy barked for chicken on Sundays.

Second lesson—No dogs on the furniture. Candy was told multiple times that she was not supposed to get on the furniture. To her credit, she rarely did, at least not when my mom could see her. However, whenever we left, there would be a toy-poodle-sized indentation in the middle of my parent’s bed. One Sunday, we came home from church a little early and pulled up in front of the house. Before we jumped out of the car, my mom pointed at the large picture window. “Look, that’s Candy.” We looked and sure enough, Candy had climbed up on the arm of the sofa, moved the curtains back and was looking out the window. Of course, when we got inside, she denied ever having violated the rules. She started each night in her dog bed. However, at some point, she would invariably climb in the bed with either me or my sister.

Third lesson—Dogs have their dignity I mentioned my mom was a neat freak. She conceded that Candy would get on the furniture when nobody was around to stop her. However, she required stipulations when it came to potty cleanliness. After a trip outside for…a number two, my mom took a paper towel and wiped her butt. Oh, the indignity of it all. Candy was thoroughly humiliated and hid under the bed until we coaxed her out. After the third or fourth time of enduring this indignity, she refused to stand still for it. The next time she had a B.M., she wiped her own bum, by scooting across the back porch. Did I mention that poodles are smart dogs?

Candy taught us a lot of things, but mostly she taught us what unconditional love felt like. I still love dogs, and poodles are my breed. I currently have three toy poodles, Cash, Kensington (aka Kenzie) and Chloe. Each book in my Dog Club Mystery Series features a different breed of dog, but just like me, my protagonist, Lilly Ann Echosby, loves poodles. Paw and Order, is the fourth book in the series and Lilly and her toy poodle, Aggie, are ready to introduce a new member to their pack. Check out Paw and Order and meet, Rex.

About the author

V.M. (Valerie) Burns was born and raised in South Bend, Indiana. She received a Bachelor’s degree from Northwestern University, a Master’s degree from the University of Notre Dame and a Master of Fine Arts degree from Seton Hill University. She is a member of Mystery Writers of America, Dog Writers Association of America, Thriller Writers International and a lifetime member of Sisters in Crime. In addition to the Dog Club Mystery series, V.M. Burns is also the Agatha Award nominated author of The Plot is Murder, the first book in the Mystery Bookshop Mystery series; and the RJ Franklin Mystery series.

She currently resides East Tennessee with her three poodles. Readers can keep up with new releases by following her on social media.

Website: http://www.vmburns.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/vmburnsbooks/

Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/v-m-burns

Buy Link—- Amazon, Apple, B&N, Google Play, Kobo

Readers, Valerie is going to give away two ebooks of Paw and Order to commenters on the blog. Let us know if you’ve ever been owned by a dog.

58 Thoughts

  1. I love dogs but have always had cats. They tend to make their own rules too. Lucky for them they’re so cute they can get away with it. Congrats on your latest release!

  2. Three series (all excellent and wonderful reads-I can vouch) in two years! Valerie – when do you sleep? All the best with Paw and Order. I’m looking forward to a great read.

    I grew up in apartments, so no dogs, but many smuggled cats who lived long and pampered lives.

    1. Thank you! I don’t sleep and I don’t have a life. 🙂 That’s another plus about cats. It’s virtually impossible to smuggle a dog into an apartment. I hope you enjoy the mystery.

  3. Thanks for sharing Candy with us! I’ve only ever lived with one dog, and she was my housemate’s Golden Retriever I used to think I didn’t like dogs (too needy – give me a cat, any day), but I’ve come to learn that it’s their owners and how they’ve neglected to train their dogs I don’t like. I’ve met a few wonderful dogs, so I know they’re out there.

    Best of luck with the new book!

    1. Thanks, Edith. Training is very important. Far too few people invest in the time it takes to properly train their canine companions. Thanks for having me today and I love seeing pictures of Ganesh!

  4. I’m so glad Candy found a family of trainable humans with which to make her furever home. Thanks for the wonder doggie tale, Valerie!

  5. V.M., congratulations on the new book.

    I think anyone who’s ever had a dog will tell you that they all own you, not the other way around.

    Though I don’t have one now (with no plans to ever have another one), I still do consider myself a dog person.

  6. Valerie–I loved reading the story of your own dogs and look forward to reading about your imaginary dog friends. Yes-there are all the dogs I’ve loved before–Dennis, Nicki, Kobe, and Salty. Love the cats too.

    1. Carol, That would make an excellent title for a book, “All the Dogs I’ve Loved Before.” 🙂 Thanks for commenting and I hope you enjoy the mysteries.

  7. I have never been without a dog, but the one who (literally) saved my life was Callie, a German Shepher/Rhodesian Ridgeback mix, who drove off a rapist. The dog I have now is Lily–my cuddler and a National Mill Dog Rescue find. I’m looking forward to reading Paw and Order!

    1. WOW! That is amazing. Callie must have been a remarkable dog. What a wonderful thing that you had her. Lily sounds awesome. So glad you rescued her. I hope you enjoy Paw and Order.

  8. I’m owned by a dog right now – Koda, who is a retired-racer greyhound. While I have taught him some things (no begging at the table), he has trained me to much more. When to get up, when to give a biscuit, when dinner is…

    Congrats, Valerie!

    1. Liz, Koda sounds awesome. It sounds like he’s got you trained very well. 🙂 The next book in my Dog Club series will feature greyhounds as the featured breed. I hope you will enjoy it. Thanks.

  9. I have always had dogs. Callie, a German Shepherd/Rhodesian Ridgeback mix, saved me from a rapist. The dog I have now, Lily, a boxer mix, is my cuddler and a National Mill Dog Rescue find. Congrats on Paw and Order. I look forward to reading it!

  10. I have always had dogs. Callie, my German Shepherd/Rhodesian Ridgeback mix saved me from a rapist. The dog I have now, Lily, a boxer mix, is my cuddler. She’s a National Mill Dog Rescue find.

    Congrats on Paw and Order. I look forward to reading it!

  11. Had many dogs through my lifetime, but I can honestly say two of them have owned me. The first one was a toy poodle that technically belonged to our daughter. When she went to her heavenly home, Haunky (she loved George Jefferson from the old TV show The Jeffersons) was our last physical connection to her and became even more dear to us. We did all we could including traveling a great distance for the best vet in the state to make his life the best it could be. His death brought back all the hurt and pain of losing Jenet. It took some time to be able to open our hearts again.

    Open them we did when we fell in love with Snickerdoodle. He is our almost 16 year old chihuahua. He is on insulin twice a day, take hear medication, is almost completely blind and deaf, but he is the holder of our hearts. We say he owns everything an allows us to borrow what we need – providing the treats are handy and free flowing. He’s started to have “spells” that scare us, but we will keep him comfortable, spoiled and happy for as long as we possibly can.

    Love The Dog Club Mystery series!
    2clowns at arkansas dot net

    1. Kay,
      Dogs really do worm their way into your hearts. It’s so hard to let go, but I’ve had to face that with Coco (Snickers from my Dog Club Mystery) and I’m in a similar boat with your Snickerdoodle. Cash is 18. He is incontinent, has heart disease, kidney failure, can’t hear, can’t see and I love him dearly. I will hate saying good-bye, but I am so thankful for all the time that I’ve had him in my life. Best of luck to you and I am glad you enjoy my series.

  12. I love this series! We had a toy poodle, Misty growing up. The best Misty story is when she ate my Dad’s breakfast before he went to work. My father was notorious for two things: struggling to get up for work AND eating his food lukewarm! One morning much to my grandmother’s surprise, my Dad got up and cooked breakfast. It was the only thing he could cook. He told me later that it was perfect: 3 beautifully cooked slices of bacon and two perfect sunny side up eggs. In typical fashion, he went upstairs to shave. Put the plate on the kitchen table and made a fatal error- left the chair slightly ajar from the table. I woke with a start, when I heard cussing from the kitchen. Running downstairs, I find my Dad looking at an empty plate on the floor wiped clean. Misty licking her chops underneath the table and my grandmother roaring with laughter! Misty, what a scamp! And yes, my Dad still ate his food lukewarm.

    Congratulations on the new release! I look forward to reading it.

    1. Kimberley, That is hilarious. I think stealing food might be a poodle thing. I have a similar story. It doesn’t take long for dogs to teach us to always make sure the chairs are pushed in. Thanks for sharing. I hope you will enjoy the mystery.

  13. Congratulations on the latest book! I love this. Our Westie just turned 14. She’s the only dog I’ve ever had — my mom was afraid of dogs and didn’t like cats. Right before we got her I had all kinds of rules — she can’t get up on the furniture, no human food, no feeding her at the table, she’ll go to kennels when we travel. None of that lasted! She does eat dog food, but gets lots of snacks.

    1. Sherry, Thanks for the good wishes and for letting me share some poodle love with the Wickeds! 🙂 I love seeing pictures of your dog online. She is adorable. She’s done a good job training you. Snacks are very important.

  14. Happy book Birthday. We had a lost dog for a few weeks. He never wanted to stay home. He always found a way to be the kids at the end of the block. Drove my mother crazy. Thank goodness the owners returned from vacation and reported the dog missing. The dog caretaker did a poor job of trying to find him once he got free.

  15. As they say Dog is God spelled backwards and I certainly treat my two as such. Congrats on the new book!

  16. Congrats on the new release, Valerie! While I’ve never been a dog owner, I do love and appreciate our canine companions. Cheers to all the dog people in the world!

  17. Love this series, Valerie!

    I’m definitely a cat person, but I did have a toy poodle growing up. He slept with my parents, ate people food, had his butt washed by my dad, and was loved all his 13 years with us. I still think of Tootsie. Hey, what can I say? I named him when I was 5. Oh, and his “real” name was Toodles. I have no idea where I came up with that.

    1. If it weren’t for hair, I would have had cats too. Toodles sounds like he did a great job training your parents. I’m glad to hear you are enjoying the series. Thansk for commenting.

  18. Welcome back, Valerie. My dad grew up with a standard-sized poodle named Gigi. She was long gone by the time I came along, but the family still talked about how smart she was. I grew up with a mutt, and brought my kids up with a mostly-golden retriever and later a mostly-cocker spaniel. We’re petless now, and travel too much to have one, but I still love dogs.

    1. Barbara, My sister had a standard poodle named Chyna (she was the inspiration for one of the standards in this series). I do love the name, Gigi for a poodle. Thanks for having me. I love hanging out with the Wickeds. 🙂

  19. Hi Valerie! Congratulations on the new book. I enjoyed your post! I have a four year old Havanese and Bishon mix, and we all love to spoil her. We have a doggie sized indent in the back of my living room sofa where she “rests” to look out my bay window. I gave up trying to get her off the furniture a while ago. It’s a fair exchange for unconditional love.

    1. Tina, Thank you so much for the good wishes. I love seeing your posts of your dog. She is adorable. When Cash was younger, he used to climb in the back window of my car. I think it would frighten other drivers who thought he was a stuffed animal until they saw him move. 🙂 I think you’ve made a wise move by not fighting the time on the sofa. You gotta pick your battles.

  20. Congrats on the new book. I have been owned by five standard poodles, three of which were rescues. Right now I’m owned by sweet Bimini. My only wish is that I would have spoiled them all more. Smart, intelligent, fun four-paws. They all enriched my life.

    1. Kay, That is awesome. So glad you were able to rescue three standard poodles. That’s awesome. I agree with everything (including the spoiling). My dogs have absolutely enriched my life. Glad Bimini has picked you as his human. Thanks for the good wishes.

  21. Congrats on the new book. I have been owned by five standard poodles, three of which were rescues. Right now we are owned by sweet Bimini. My only wish is that I would have spoiled all of them more. Smart, fun, sweet four-paws. My life has been enriched because of all of them.

  22. The Bradys also had a cat. At least in the pilot. But since so much usually changes between a pilot and the rest of the series (even season 1), that probably doesn’t really count. 🙂

    1. Hi Mark, I don’t remember the cat, but I’m sure you’re right. I suspect more shows would have included cats if they weren’t so independent. They tend to have a mind and a will of their own. 🙂 Thanks for commenting.

  23. We had our own “Candy.” Our dog was actually named: Princess Candace Marie Alexandra, but we called her Candy for short! She was an Australian Shepard mix we adopted from the local shelter and we loved her and were totally under her spell for the ten years she lived. We miss her still! Good luck with the new book and series! Mystery plus lovable dog equals success in my mind.

    1. Thank you, Judy. Your Candy had one heck of a name. Glad you got to enjoy her for so many years. Thank you for the warm wishes. Fingers crossed!

  24. I love dogs and my husband had always had dogs. We figured we’d have an entire pack one day. That was before a handsome tuxedo cat presented himself at our front door and adopted us. We still think we’ll eventually get a dog–when we don’t have a dog-hating cat under our roof (our cat Putnam intimidated a friend’s chihuahua’s when she stayed with us). Until then, we play with the dogs of friends.

    I’m looking forward to reading!

    1. Peggy, your cat sounds like a winner. Sometimes it’s nice to get the benefits of your friends’ dogs without the negative parts. Thanks for the good wishes and for commenting.

  25. I’ve been owned by dogs my entire life. Your Candy sounds like a doozy. Thanks for the contest.

  26. Valerie, thanks so much for sharing about Candy! It really warmed my heart to read this post. Congrats also on all your series and your latest book!

    1. Thanks, Jennifer. I am glad you enjoyed reading about Candy and thank you for the good wishes. I appreciate your taking the time to comment.

  27. I have been owned by a few dogs. As a kid we had a couple of poodles and later I had a black lab. They bring so much love and fun to life and they are so much fun to spoil. I’m now owned by two cats, Hamilton and Jefferson. They also like to be spoiled.

    1. How awesome! I hope Hamilton and Jefferson get along better than the founding fathers of the same name! I think we all could do with a bit of spoiling. 🙂 Thank you for commenting.

  28. When I was a kid, the great-aunt I was named after gave me a collie named Bonnie. My mother said our street was too busy so Bonnie lived at great-aunt Sara’s farm. I’ve seen many dead cats and dogs over the 60 some years I’ve lived here. We played with her and her son Peppy for many years when we visited Aunt Sara. I love reading about pets but will probably not get one at this time in my life. Stay safe and well.

    1. Sally, It is not easy to have pets when you live on a busy street. I’m glad you were able to enjoy Bonnie and Peppy on your great-aunt’s farm. Sounds like you found the perfect solution. Thank you for commenting.

  29. Thanks for visiting with the Wickeds today! I love your stories about Candy! I am currently spending most waking hours with Sampson who is also a poodle. He is a moyen parti poodle and has added a great deal of joy to my life. He also likes hamburger!

    1. Jessie, Thank you so much for allowing me to share with the Wickeds and your enthusiastic crew. My coworker has a parti poodle, although hers is s standard, but she is beautiful. They are such wonderful dogs. I always think of Candy whenever I take hamburger out of the freezer. 🙂

  30. I had a dog who followed me absolutely everywhere. On the computer? At my feet. In my recliner? On my lap. Cooking? Underfoot. In the bathroom? Right there. In bed? Sleeping on the bed when I let her or sleeping outside the door when I wouldn’t let her in—she interfered with my sleep a lot. And she knew when I was awake in bed, trying to go back to sleep, because she’d start whining at the door immediately if she knew I was awake. I sure loved her. legallyblonde1961@yahoo.com

    1. She sounds devoted. I’ve got 3 shadows that follow me everywhere too. I’m sorry that she is no longer underfoot, but it sounds like she will always be in your heart.

  31. I can’t wait to read the new book! I’ve been owned by several dogs over the years. I’m currently owned by a black lab named Bandit! He’s a sweetheart.

Comments are closed.