Writers: Follow That Scent!

100_3967Today the Triangle Chapter of Sisters in Crime welcomed author and canine expert Sheila Boneham. She’s the author of 17 nonfiction books, six of which have won major awards from the Dog Writers Association of America and the Cat Writers Association. Her most recent book is Drop Dead on Recall, which is a novel based on her experiences in the canine sporting world and is already receiving rave reviews.

She’s also mom to “Lily,” who is a champion AKC Tracking Dog renowned for her superior “sleuthing” ability. Today we had the privilege of watching Lily track and find a fellow mystery club member by scent. In this picture, Lily has just achieved her goal, to much acclaim by our club. While garlic-flavored roast beef is a favorite reward, she seemed quite satisfied with the praise and affection bestowed by our grateful club.

We learned a lot today from Sheila and Lily that will enhance mysteries  featuring canine search and rescue. Once Sheila strapped on Lily’s harness and let her sniff the “article” (our writer’s sock), Lily “kicked in” and put her nose to the ground. She was relentless in her pursuit and was not unduly distracted by the abundance of equally aromatic goose pellets around the lake. Indeed, said Sheila, the best tracking dogs exhibit the ability to work around such problems and also demonstrate an insatiable interest in finding their targets. If I am ever lost, I just hope I would be found by such an amazing creature!

All writers can take a lesson from Lily’s extraordinary work ethic and her love of humans. We, too, track clues and scents to build believable characters and compelling stories. We’re also driven by our compassion for and interest in our fellow humans. So, take a lesson from Lily! Lock in and put your nose to the grindstone.


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