In Praise of Pit Bulls: An Apology by Author Beth Fantaskey

Little Daisy, one of the cutest pitties to ever walk the earth!
Little Daisy, one of the cutest pitties to ever walk the earth!

If you follow my blog, you probably know that my world revolves around animals. I’m a proud mother of two furbabies and a staunch defender of pit bulls. You see, my pretty little princess, CeeCee Honeycutt Sinn, is a pit. She loves tolerates playing dress-up in her pinky frilly outfits and snuffles around the house like a pot bellied piglet. In my doting mother’s eyes, she is the most perfect creature on earth. Yet when I take her to the park, it’s quite apparent that people don’t see her that way. It’s not uncommon to see parents body-blocking their kids when they pass us by on the trail. Sometimes they’ll even cross the street just in case she might feel the need to gnaw off a body part. This, my dear readers, is a result of breed discrimination, which is sadly alive and well in today’s society.

Nothing boils my blood more than to see bully breeds depicted as vicious attack dogs time and time again in the news and pop culture. That’s why I called out YA author Beth Fantaskey via Twitter for inadvertently putting pit bulls in an unfavorable light in her book Buzz Kill (read my four-star review here.)  I must admit that I was rather rude about it, but I had to defend my CeeCee and all the other lovable, goofy dogs that are waiting for their forever homes at the local no-kill shelter Austin Pets Alive.

I certainly wasn’t expecting a response, so you could imagine my surprise when she told me that she has a pit bull of her own.  Not only did she apologize, she even offered to set the record straight about this wonderful, yet vastly misunderstood, breed of dogs. Without further ado, here is her open apology.

The best thing about writing a novel is, once it reaches booksellers, libraries – and readers – the work that you poured your heart into is available for everyone to see.

This can also be the worst thing about writing a book. 

Once it’s out there, it’s out there.  You, the author, might grow and change.  Or learn something new that reshapes the way you think.  Or, worst of all, regret your words.

But when a book has gone to press – and to Amazon, and Barnes & Noble, and independent sellers, etc. – there’s no turning back.  I don’t know of any major publishing house that will recall your story just because you’ve had second thoughts.

I have to confess that I’ve written some things that I regret, including a particularly expletive-laden paragraph in my novel Jekel Loves Hyde.  But few words haunt me like my use of “vicious, fighting breeds” to describe pit bulls and Dobermans in my book Buzz Kill. 

It’s meant to be a joke.  The heroine, Millie Ostermeyer, is frustrated by the fact that her crush has repeatedly compared her to different types of canines, over the course of the story.  As Millie and Chase finally dance at a school formal, she begs him to knock it off. 

I honestly didn’t think much about my phrasing when I wrote the book several years ago.  I didn’t know anything about pit bulls, especially, beyond headlines about illegal fighting rings.

Then I met Daisy.  My pit bull-boxer mix, who stole my heart when I saw her picture on a rescue website, here where I live in Pennsylvania.  That little pup had the most soulful eyes I’d ever seen. 

I didn’t know she was part pit bull when I filed my adoption application.  I just knew that this ball of fur with the bright, hopeful gaze belonged with me and my three girls. 

Only when we brought Daisy home, and I started to walk her, did I discover I had a “pittie.”  People would come up to me on the street and say, “That is a gorgeous pit bull.”  And I would give them a funny look and reply, “Um, no.  This is a boxer.” 

One day, after going through that exchange yet again, I searched for images of boxer-pit bull mixes online.  And, sure enough, there was Daisy.  After Daisy.  After Daisy.  And the more I read about pit bulls’ blocky heads and wriggly butts, I realized, “My pup is more pittie than boxer.”

That’s a good thing.  Big Pup, as we often call her, is a treasured member of our family.  In fact, I can’t imagine life without a pittie or pittie mix, now.  I’ve come to know many of these gorgeous dogs, and I am smitten with their sweet temperaments, their big hearts – and the way they use their prodigious muscle to bowl you over with affection.

I’m so sorry I ever wrote that line, however innocent my intentions were.  I hope this blog post helps, in a small way, to set the record straight. 

If you’re considering adopting a dog, please don’t rule out pit bulls – unless you’re not a fan of loyalty, playfulness and boundless love.  But if you ARE looking for those qualities in a canine companion, you can’t go wrong with a blocky-headed mutt with a wriggly butt. 

Princess CeeCee approves this message!
Princess CeeCee approves this message!

Reading Roundup: Murder, Mayhem and Ghosties Galore!

I’ve been reading like a fiend this past month—and not one review to show for it! In a perfect world, I would spend my days reading on the chaise lounge with my chubby cat and my nights toiling away on my book, which has been left stagnating in Scrivner for months. Needless to say, there just aren’t enough hours in the day to keep up with my poor little book blog! So in the interest of saving time, I bring you some short and semi-sweet reviews for a few books from my reading list.

The Dark Days Club by Alison Goodman

15993203I really wanted to love this book. It’s got everything I could ever ask for in a paranormal-infused historical mystery filled with hunky bluebloods and soul-sucking demons from the bellows of Hell! But alas, I could not pay attention to the story to save my life. As the narrator droned on and on about the setting—in excruciating detail—my mind kept drifting off to my to-do list….not a good place to be. Really, my dear readers, I tried to get into it. I’m pretty sure my iPod sighed as I continuously hit the playback button. By the time the story finally picked up, I was too annoyed d to continue. The whole “Dark Days Club” storyline did not appeal to me in the slightest. I like paranormal thrillers to be rooted in some sort of lore. This just seemed like a bunch of arbitrary nonsense that stemmed from a bad dream. Another reason why I chucked this thing into the DNF pile is that I couldn’t connect with any of the characters – least of all Lady Helen. Supposedly she and Lord Carlston are headed toward a steamy bodice-ripping scene, but I don’t see that happening anytime soon. Aside from some “amused smiles” (romance authors love that shit) he shows no sign of affection whatsoever. In fact, he treats her the same way an annoyed brother bats away his little sister. Why he is so rude, I do not know. Nor do I care. I’m just glad Audible has such a great return policy!

Scents and Sensibility by Spencer Quinn

23492835After chucking a lame book into the DNF pile, I always turn to an author who I love and adore. It’s like going to my favorite restaurant that guarantees delicious food and fabulous service. So of course I had to check out the latest installment of Spencer Quinn’s Chet and Bernie mystery series! They are the best private investigators in the Arizona desert! The genius of the series is that it’s narrated by Chet, a 100-plus pounder of a dog who will stop at nothing to capture the bad guys and keep his partner safe.

It sounds kind of silly, but this concept really works! Oh how I wish I could meet Chet in person so I could scratch him behind the ears and spoil him with Slim Jims. All the books are great, but this one might be the most suspenseful! There’s a lot of danger – in both the crime-solving and romance departments. Not only are they pursuing a bunch of cactus-smuggling murderous thugs, they’re also at risk of leaving their beloved desert and moving to gloomy old London. NO NO NO! This cannot happen. I have always loved Bernie’s on-again, off-again girlfriend, Suzie Sanchez, ever since she rescued Chet from the pound. However, I will cross her off my Christmas card list if she whisks them away from their home! The books will never be the same without Bernie complaining about the aquifer, a concept that is completely lost on Chet – or their sunset rides through the desert in Bernie’s beatup old Porsche.

I truly enjoyed this book, but I’m worried. I hope I’m wrong, but the author seemed to be dropping hints that it’s coming to a close. Bernie would miss a clue and ask himself, “Am I losing it?” And after another dog-napping attempt, he starts to wonder whether or not he should retire Chet from the Little Detective Agency.  Nope, not having it!

If the series does end, I hope that a new one will pick up with the new Chet-lookalike puppy. Until then, I will just have to cross my fingers and hope that the end is not near for my beloved ace detectives!

Buzz Kill by Beth Fantaskey

imagesLet me start off by saying that Millie Ostermeyer is a girl after my own heart. She’s a Nancy Drew fanatic, a junk food connoisseur and an ace reporter—pretty much everything I could ever ask for in a young amateur sleuth.

It was a lot of fun tagging along with this girl detective as she solved the case of the murdered high school football coach. Considering Coach Killdare’s long list of enemies—including Millie’s widowed father—she has a lot of ground to cover. And when her dad becomes Suspect No. 1, she will stop at nothing to hunt down the perp.

Good thing she has the mysterious high school hunk on her side. Together, they search for clues and narrow down the long list of suspects with ample motives for wanting the coach (aka Hollerin’ Hank) dead. And if clearing her father’s name isn’t stressful enough, she must also deal with her mean girl nemesis who is determined to turn the crime into tabloid fodder for the school paper. She’s also falling in love with a boy who’s dealing with a LOT of emotional baggage. Oh and her father is dating the school librarian on the sly. Is nothing sacred in this sad, cruel world?

If you love a fun mystery with lovable characters, witty dialogue and cliffhanger chapter endings, I highly recommend this book. Fans of Peter Abraham’s Echo Falls mystery series are sure to enjoy this fun little whodunit.