Today we are honored to welcome author Carolyn Haines as our guest blogger. Not only is she an award-winning cozy mystery author, but she also runs a small animal rescue in Semmes, Alabama, Good Fortune Farm Refuge. (Sounds like she just *belongs* here, doesn't she?)
Running a Small Rescue and Writing Mysteries
by Carolyn Haines
I’ve always been animal crazy. Horse obsessed, dog adoring, and proudly serving the superior feline species. The first word I spoke was horse. Growing up, I spent about two months wanting to be a veterinarian until I realized that science, biology, and math were not my friends. I loved reading and writing and animals.
I’ve always taken in strays, and some twenty-five years ago I bought a small farm in south Alabama. You know how it goes. If you have a five-bedroom house, you fill it up with furniture. Same applies to animals. With acreage around me, I simply took in more and more critters.
Finally, I reached the point where I was spending a great deal of my time caring for these animals. A friend suggested that I actually call my home what it was—an animal rescue. I believe the breaking point came when I bought a pregnant mare and her foal off a truck headed to an auction where many, many horses are sold for meat.
Good Fortune Farm Refuge was created.
Stephanie Ryan, Carolyn Haines, Aleta Boudreaux—board members of Good Fortune Farm Refuge—and Sorrow the rescued beagle
Today, I have five horses (the pregnant Quarter Horse mare delivered a filly, and her name is Piper. Her sister is Flicker, and the mom is Cimarron), my thirty-four-year-old Anglo/Arab Mirage, (and yes that is very old for a horse), and Cogar, my Connemara/Thoroughbred cross. Piper is now eleven years old, and it is my intention that this “family” of horses will be together until they die.
I don’t know how many of you have had the pleasure of living with horses on a day-to-day basis, but it is an extraordinary gift. These animals are so intuitive and smart and playful. They are also a lot of physical work, and I’m very lucky to be able to care for them without help. I was out yesterday snipping the heads off thistles, which are trying to invade my pastures. I try not to use any chemicals or pesticides, so maintaining a good crop of grass is labor intensive.
I also have eight dogs—I had nine until I found a lovely home for a young puppy I found wandering in the middle of a highway. Little Lily is in a lovefest in Georgia, and I was thrilled (and heart broken) to let her go. My aim is to find, rehab, and place dogs and cats in loving homes. This is much harder to do than it sounds in an area where spaying and neutering is often not done. More on this in a minute.
Lily the rescued pup finds a new home with Elizabeth
I also have nine cats of my own—and they rule the roost. All nine were feral cats that I trapped, neutered, and tamed. They are loving, wonderful masters. Though I am inferior in all ways, they give me affection and joy. I help feed and neuter two feral colonies in other areas.
Because of my animal love, I’ve included a cast of characters in my mysteries—Pluto the black cat (who thinks Truffles is be-au-ti-ful!), Sweetie Pie Delaney, a red tick hound (I actually have four hounds and an assortment of other types of larger dogs), and Reveler, Lucifer, and Miss Scrapiron, the three horses at Dahlia House.
My books are set on a plantation in the Mississippi Delta, which is very different from the small farm I have. But my character, Sarah Booth Delaney, shares my love for animals and for solving mysteries. Sarah Booth has one thing I don’t have—a ghost. Jitty is the ghost of a slave from the Civil War era, and she is bossy, sassy, and determined to see that Sarah Booth, the last of the Delaneys, produces an heir to pass Dahlia House to.
I love writing the Sarah Booth stories, and I take great satisfaction in caring for all the animals who live with me. The sad truth is that Southern rescues—across the board—are overwhelmed by the number of unwanted cats and dogs. To that end, my friends helped me write a cookbook, BONE-A-FIED DELICIOUS: Recipes from Zinnia’s Finest Chefs. It’s a huge cookbook filled with Southern dishes and written from the perspective of thirteen of the characters from my mysteries.
We’ve raised over $5000 for a spay/neuter program for low-income families. GFFR was also awarded a $5000 Banfield Charitable Trust Fund Grant to pay for basic vet care for animals in low-income families. There is a lot of need in my region, and spay/neuter is the only solution.
A final request—adopt from a local shelter if you have room for a new family member. There are so many animals who want a loving home. You could be the answer.
Carolyn Haines is the author of the Sarah Booth Delaney mysteries. BONE TO BE WILD, which releases May 19, is the 15th book in the series. She has won the Harper Lee Award for Distinguished Writing and the Richard Wright Award for Literary Excellence. She is the founder of Good Fortune Farm Refuge and lives on a small farm in Alabama with more animals than she can count. She urges all pet owners to adopt and neuter. You can learn more about her and the rescue at www.carolynhaines.com or join her on Facebook and Twitter.
From the publisher: Sarah Booth Delaney is heartbroken: her fiancé Graf Milieu has decided to move to Hollywood permanently, leaving their relationship in shambles. Sarah Booth has a perfect distraction, however, in the form of the Black and Orange Halloween ball her best friends are throwing in New Orleans. Sarah Booth plans to dance the night away to the swinging tunes of her old flame Scott Hampton's blues band. But just as the party gets going, Scott receives a mysterious message that threatens his life and the lives of his bandmates. Sarah Booth knows that a new case is just what she needs to take her mind off her failed relationship with Graf, and she's ready to help Scott investigate. And then the message turns from threat to reality when the bartender from Scott's club is gunned down in a drive-by. Enlisting Sheriff Coleman Peters and the rest of her friends from Zinnia, Mississippi, Sarah Booth is caught in a race against the clock as she tries to stop a killer from striking again.
With a twist around every corner, Sarah Booth's zany adventures will delight readers in Carolyn Haines's latest Southern cozy, Bone to Be Wild.
Giveaway: The 15th volume in Carolyn Haines' best-selling Sarah Booth Delaney mysteries, BONE TO BE WILD will be on store shelves tomorrow, but thanks to Minotaur Books, I have *three* hardcover copes of Bone to Be Wild to give away today! Simply leave a comment (don't forget your email address!) by noon eastern on Friday, May 22nd. US entries only, please.