Thursday, April 19, 2012

Animal Lovers will Fall for "Going to the Dogs" by Elle Druskin

I love stories that involve animals (obviously, since my next middle grade novel, "Animal Andy," takes place in a zoo!) My guest today, Elle Druskin, does too. Her latest novel from MuseItUp Publishing is "Going to the Dogs," a fun, romantic comedy. Welcome, Elle!

Tell us a little about your background and how you became an author.

I’ve lived all over the world and I’m currently residing in Hawaii; how great is that?  As I write this, I am looking out the window at the surf rolling in and a rainbow over the mountains.  Four rainbows today and still counting.

I’m a nurse and professor of nursing by profession and it does factor in some of my books, notably the To Catch series (To Catch A Cop and To Catch A Crook) although thankfully, I have never been involved in a murder and not planning to get involved in one.  As a professor, I had many years of experience writing scholarly articles and reviewing for journals which is a particular form of writing.  The thing is, I had a story in my head.  I could see very clearly a nursing laboratory—the kind of place that looks like a hospital, where students practice before we let them loose on real people—and a professor and students walking inside and stumbling over a dead body.  I didn’t know at the time who the body was, why he was there or anything else but over time, scenes started flashing in my head.  I could see, hear and smell the action. (I know, if you tell the wrong people about this, they might decide to medicate you). 

Since I knew nothing about writing fiction, I decided to just try and see what happens. To Catch A Cop was written mostly to satisfy myself; to find out what happened.  I never expected it to be published and I put it away for a long time.  Eventually, I took it out and decided to get some professional opinions.  A romance writer told me she thought it was a romance. Unorthodox, but a romance.  Another opinion was that it was a cute mystery.  I never saw a mystery but the important thing was that she liked the story.  A lot.  The third was a successful author of thrillers and he thought it had some elements of a thriller so I had no idea what I had written.  The important thing was that all three thought it was a great story and it should be published.  You can imagine my surprise when it was published and nominated as Best Romantic Comedy by The Romance Reviews. The book has been reviewed as romance, mystery, and romantic comedy.  Go figure.

I just kept writing after that.  Mostly romantic comedy, but I am working on a romantic suspense.  My latest release is Going To The Dogs.  I’ve always owned a dog and spent a lot of time around “dog people.”  In this book, a dog-hating cop is on the trail of his partner’s killer.  Too bad for Detective Sam Kendall that his new partner is junk food addicted poodle with absolutely no police skills.  Chief suspect Jodie is a dog trainer par excellance but a loser with men and caseload of eccentric dogs and even more eccentric owners.  The dogs know a good thing when they see it and pretty soon they’re determined to make sure these two know they’re made for each other and everybody is going to the dogs.  I had fun writing this and so far, readers are having fun with it too.  All of my books are available on Amazon Kindle.

I’m currently editing a romantic comedy series set in New Jersey.  I consider it a love letter to growing up in Jersey.  The series is entitled The Liberty Heights series and the first book, Animal Crackers, (Yep, animals again) is due out with MuseItUpPublishing in May 2012.  Manhattan workaholic Hayley Weaver is out of a job and out of luck.  With no choices left, she accepts a job house-sitting a movie star’s home in Jersey.  Too bad for Hayley that someone forgot to tell her there are more critters in the house than the Beverly Hillbillies.  Local veterinarian Jake Marx is desperate to meet a woman he hasn’t known since kindergarten and with Jake on Hayley’s speed dial to corral all the animals, the town’s residents conspire to make sure Jake and Hayley figure out they’re made for each other. 

I had a lot of fun with this book too with all kinds of crazy things going on in town that make perfect sense in Liberty Heights but probably nowhere else.

What is one of your favorite books and why?

Do I have to pick one?  I could give you a list that would go on for pages but if I had to choose only one, I would choose Outlander by Diana Gabaldon.  It isn’t fair to name one book since Outlander is the first of a series that is still being written but everyone falls in love with her books because she writes so beautifully.  Her research is impeccable, her storytelling skills outstanding and everything, including, the time travel, is thoroughly believable.  Her characters are a marvel and I only wish I had her talent.  I can also say that Diana is very generous and supportive of writers and I am grateful for her accessibility.  For those who want to connect with a great site where you can find Diana and many other readers and writers and a regular hangout for me, you can find us at the Books and Writers Community where anything and everything is discussed:

How would you describe your writing process?

I don’t know that I have a process but I don’t do outlines, I don’t do a synopsis, and I don’t write in sequence.  I write as scenes appear to me and eventually they start to connect.  Once it is more in the shape of a book, and I do think every book has some sort of shape, the editing and gluing of these isolated scenes together gives me an idea of what else needs to be done to make it into a coherent book.  If that’s a process, that’s mine.

How have you marketed your book?

In this world, authors are required to do promotion which really is not easy.  For one thing, it takes time, for another, it really is a skill that has to be learned and I am the first one to say I am still learning and time is limited due to various other commitments including having a life, working and writing.  I do appear on various reader loops online, I have a website that I try to keep updated and I do use social media but it’s a struggle.

What advice would you give to other authors?

Read and don’t stop.  You cannot be a good writer if you are not a good reader.  Reading teaches so many things.  What hooked you into a story?  What made you feel that you had to keep reading and turn that page?   What sort of characters are engaging (they don’t have to be heroes—they can be villains too, but you just have to keep reading to find out more about them) and why they are such great characters.  How did the writer shape them?  How did the writer build tension and conflict which is the basis of any novel?  I could go on a lot more about this but these are good reasons.

The other piece of advice I would give is to be sure to research well when necessary.  Research is not an online search; sorry, but it isn’t.  Research means using a really good library—preferably a college library that has access to all sorts of documents and books.  As a professor, I had a strong research background and it is helpful when I have to gather information to make a character or scene as realistic as possible.  There are no shortcuts to this process and the sooner a writer accepts it, the better the ultimate product which should be a great story.  A great story is a great story, irrespective of genre.

Please provide a favorite excerpt from your book.

In this scene, undercover cop Sam has conned Jodie into believing his marriage has ended and he’s been left with Vanilla, the poodle whose behavior is driving him insane.  In return for training, Sam’s agreed to work in Jodie’s shop, The Kit and Capoodle, in order to spy on Jodie and her clients.

By lunchtime, Sam was ravenous and out of patience. A mob of drug dealers would be
preferable to this crowd, but he was stuck at Canine Central. Poor Jodie hadn't had time to stop
for coffee all morning, and Sam flipped a sign on the glass door that said, BACK IN FIVE
Sam hurried to the pizza parlor across the street, happy to be out of the dog looney- bin for five minutes. He placed the order and licked his lips in anticipation of the gourmet pizza and all but salivated like Vanilla from the aroma. Thin crust, double extra cheese, and mushrooms.
Pizza box balanced on one hand, Sam dodged a taxi and crossed the street. His other hand
snicked the door handle and flipped the BACK IN FIVE MINUTES sign to OPEN as he backed
through the doorway. The enticing aroma of the Super Deluxe Extra Cheese and Mushroom pie
set off an embarrassing stomach growl, and he couldn't wait to dig in.
“Sam, can you hand me a can of spray? It's under the counter on the left side.”
Sam shoved the pizza on top of a glass display case of glitzy poodle collars studded with glittery stones and hurried to the counter to grab the spray. In two quick strides, he reached the alcove. Jodie crouched on the floor, carefully snipping around the collie's paws. The sight of that tight denimclad rear rocketed his pulse into orbit. Sam cleared his throat.
“Here you go.” Sam handed her the can, and she smiled absentmindedly. One hand brushed a stray curl out of her eyes, and Sam's heart thudded in his chest. His palm itched to twine that curl around one finger, stroke her cheek, and proceed to those lush lips.
Sam swallowed hard to get a grip on himself. Act like a professional, this is surveillance, he tried to remind himself.
“There's a pizza for us out front. You haven't taken a break all morning, and you must be
starved, too.”
Jodie boosted up on one knee and stretched her arms over her curly head to expose pale skin and a trim waist. Hormone overload clouded Sam's brain, and he gaped until she tugged the
sweatshirt down over the jeans. Jodie flashed a grateful smile at him.
“Thanks, I can't tell you how much I appreciate your willingness to take over today.”
Sam stood aside for Jodie to stroll into the shop front where she stopped short, and Sam
slammed into her back. Both gaped at the same disaster.
“You stupid dog! That was our lunch!”
Vanilla had taken the opportunity of Sam's absence to climb up on a carry crate and sink his choppers into lunch. The darned dog wolfed down the entire pizza. Not exactly entire, the poodle graciously left bits of crust for Jodie and Sam. Mouth smeared with tomato sauce, he cocked his fluffy head with a guilty expression. Sam opened his mouth, about to bellow at the glutton, but Jodie cut him off with a sharp tsk.
“No wonder the dog has problems. You fill him up with junk food, and then yell at him.”
She clicked her tongue in disapproval and popped into the back room to return with a collie so
beautifully groomed that even to Sam’s untrained eye, it put Lassie to shame. Any dope could
see Jodie was brilliant. She handed over the collie’s leash and turned to Addison.
“Park the collie over there while I deal with Timmy.” Jodie patted Addison's shoulder.
“Don’t worry. I’ll get Timmy out of the car, just hand me the keys.”
Relief flooded the nerdy guy’s face, and he tossed the car keys to Jodie who marched out the door. Sam never knew what Jodie had done, but within a few minutes, she returned with Timmy in tow who gazed up at her like a lovesick teenager. How did she do it? The beast seemed happy, although it was hard to tell with that sorrowful face.
Jodie was still trying to calm Addison who all but fell over in gratitude.
“Leave him here until tonight’s class. That will give him a chance to settle down, and we’ll give him a crash course to get him ready for the show. Don’t worry.”
Addison flung himself on Jodie in thanks, and jealousy edged up a notch in Sam's gut.
Jealousy or hunger. Sam wasn't sure which, but his bet was on jealousy as the winner.
“Michael Walker said you were miraculous, and he’s right. I heard the two of you
straightened out Harry Werner. I bet he’ll be a winner for sure.” Jodie soothed Addison again
and sent the morose man on his way.
Harry Werner. In all the hullabaloo, the blue diamonds had slipped to the back of Sam’s
mind. He'd all but forgotten the true purpose of this ridiculous masquerade. And what was that
stuff about miraculous and Michael Walker? Sam's frown deepened. Walker must be involved
with the diamond theft, too, whoever the guy was. It made one wonder if Walker's relationship
with Jodie was professional, personal, or both? Was Michael her boyfriend? The lucky bastard.
Any woman who could talk so bluntly about animals and sex had to be uninhibited when it
came to the human variety. Sam squeezed his eyes shut but couldn’t ditch the fantasy image of
the redhead’s legs wrapped around his own. Was she a natural redhead? Sam shook his head.
Less than one day, and he was losing the plot over some dog trainer who carried a caseload of
clients that would pack Bellevue’s locked ward. How in the name of hell was he going to get
through this day, let alone the mandatory obedience class tonight?
Nausea and hunger fought a battle in the pit of his stomach. One day in this place, and he’d end up as nutty as everyone else. Obedience school. Sam had more than an inkling that both he and Vanilla were going to stand out as class dunces.

Going To The Dogs: Copyright Elle Druskin Published by MuseItUpPublishing

Where can readers find you and your book?

Readers can find me in a lot of places but the best ones are my website and blog at

My books are all on Amazon, Fictionwise and other sites on the web.

I love the excerpt from "Going to the Dogs" and have enjoyed learning about your journey as an author. Thanks for joining us today, Elle!

--KSR Writer


  1. Hello, fellow dog lover, my dog is the most wonderful creature in the world. She's also very intelligent, and if she doesn't like someone (which isn't often), I know they're not people I want to know.

    1. Hi Viola,
      Yes, the dog is the sounding board. If he doesn't like someone, and that's almost unknown, it's a clear signal--avoid that person!

  2. Hello, fellow islander,

    I have lived on Corfu for 27 years and there is something special about islands. As for dogs - I truly believe they are God's greatest gift to manking. IOf only more of mankind woulkd realise it. I have been involved with dogs all my life:first, as a dog groomer, then going on to show Afghan Hounds and eventually ending up on Corfu and helping out with the dog rescue sociaty over there. I also try to include a dog in each of my novels. For me, they make the best characters, an intelligent sounding board for my angst-ridden hero or heroine when humans are just too stupid or close-minded to listen.
    I loved your excerpt. I wish you lots of success in your writing endeavors and remember - dogs=loyalty.


    1. Hi Viviane,
      Yes, dogs are great and like you, I've pretty much been a dog owner all my life. They do take time and money but they give a lot back for the investment and you are right, they are an intelligent sounding board for the humans who just don't get it.
      Yes, again, you are right about islands being very different and special, whatever or whichever island.


  3. Late to the party as usual. I really enjoyed this book!

  4. Sorry it has taken so long to get back, the darned computer is acting up yet again! Thanks so much for letting me know you enjoyed the book.