The dog to the right will become very familiar to readers in this nation in the next two weeks. The dog's name is Maddie, and she became famous in Key West four years ago after she jumped out of the back of a pickup truck in Old Town and chased a chicken under a house. The owner got out and looked for her, but the dog never emerged from under the house, which is near the Key West Bight. Puzzled, the owner launched a search that lasted for several weeks and suffered the fear and sadness that engulfs pet owners when their loved ones disappear. Yet the dog hadn't gone anywhere. When running into the dark, the dog fell into a cistern that was used to collect rainwater in the days before Key West had indoor plumbing, or "city water" as old-timers put it.
The dog was in that cistern, trapped in a place where no one could see her, where no one could hear her entreaties for help. Her owners put up flyers all over town that cried out, "Maddie's Gone!"
I kept seeing that flyer and an idea for a novel began to form in my mind. What goes on in a dog's mind when it is trapped, when hope runs out? Does it think of its owner? What kinds of terror does it create for the animal? What is the spiritual link between pets and their owners? There is one, you know.
Thus, my first novel was born (by the way, because this is my blog, please forgive me if I give myself free advertising--but several editors who have read it say it's great).
The book is much more than about Maddie's plight, by the way. The human characters, which include Julia, Maddie's owner; Jim, the sometimes homeless troublemaker; Julia's sick and sadistic neighbor; and a cast of other Key West people (all fictional) search for the dog, but with different motives. The offer of a reward for Maddie's safe return creates a collision between characters that leads to murder, betrayal, and other untoward behavior. The cover may look innocent, but trust me, this is about adults behaving badly.
Maddie's Gone is nine chapters long; between each chapter, however, is a self-contained short story in which Maddie makes a cameo appearance. In "Honor Student," a Key West High School senior struggles to protect her little sister from her own boyfriend who is acting inappropriately, to say the least.
In "Dying Declaration," an old man on his death bed recounts JFK's visit to Key West in 1962; he tells his young nephews of his discovery during JFK's Key West visit that foretold of the slaughter in Dealy Plaza a year later. "Manny's Story" is a salute to shrimpers and fishermen of Key West in the 1940s. Manny, an old shrimp captain, describes to a younger man visiting the city how his young wife met her end in the Gulf of Mexico so many years ago.
Maddie shows up briefly in each of the short stories. She walks down the street and into a scene in one story; in another short story, a homeless woman sees the "Maddie's Gone" poster at the Kennedy Drive baseball fields and embarks on a plan that ends miserably. Without giving away the whole book, the short stories carry the main tale of Maddie forward and in the end, the various plots come together in what I've been told is a great and satisfying ending.
So: Here's the pitch: As readers of my blog, I'm hoping you'll buy the book! It's not self-published, which means my publisher has vetted it (sorry about the pun on pets) and has declared it worthy of his stable of ebooks at http://www.absolutelyamazingebooks.com. Once you get to the site, go to "New Titles" in the menu bar at the top and click on "Maddie's Gone." The book is $2.99 and is downloadable on the various readers.
Now, a word about Absolutelyamazingebooks.com. It's the brainchild of Shirrel Rhoades, a pulisher for the past 40 years who wants to launch new writers from around the nation, though he also sells books by established Key West writers like Tom Corcoran, Michael Haskins, Brewster Chamberlin, William R. Burkett, Jr., Lucy Burdette, Jessica Argyle, and others.
He publishes mystery/thrillers. romance, science fiction, poetry, biographies, comedy, self-help books, short story collections ... you name it.
He also has a great collection of science fiction titles from the 1930s (very cool) as well as a ton of other great ttles by great authors, including himself.
It went live today (Thursday) and will be very successful.
At any rate, I sure hope you'll buy my book; Maddie will appreciate it (if she's still around, that is).
This is a story that will inhabit your heart.
Thanks! Next week, it's back to my normal writing about dinosaurs in the Congo and stuff like that.