Monday, May 18, 2015

Running a Small Rescue & Writing Mysteries: A Guest Blog by Carolyn Haines (w/Giveaway)

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 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.


A Tonl said...

what a wonderful person - and a fabulous friend to us animals! YAY!

Jeanetta said...

I am very impressed by all the amazing work done for the animals (cats, dogs and horses).
Bone to be Wild sounds like a great book. I am looking forward to reading it. Thank you for the giveaway.

Cats Herd You said...

Paws up for running a rescue! How on earth does anyone find time to run a rescue and write, too? That's double-pawesome.

Unknown said...

Looks great, thanks for the chance to win it
jslbrown2009 at aol dot com

Linda R said...

Fabulous that you have a rescue farm, Carolyn. Stories like this warm my heart.

skkorman said...

I would love to read this book—thanks for the chance to win a copy!

skkorman AT bellsouth DOT net

Unknown said...

What a wonderful mission you have. Between your writing and your rescue work, you are a very busy person. Blessings on you and yours.

Anonymous said...

Wonderful post! Thank you, Carolyn, for all you do. All my dogs and cats (seven) are rescues. patucker54 (at aol dot com)

pilch92 said...

Carolyn is an angel on earth :)

Carolyn said...

I'm not quite an angel--ask my friends. I devil them all the time. It's true that I don't have the time to think up practical jokes like I used to--cleaning stalls, bathing animals, working tirelessly to instruct the cats in the mere basics of kitty etiquette! These things take time, and for the most part are futile. Especially working with the cats. They pretend to pay attention and then do whatever they like. Cats! All of my Sarah Booth books feature Sweetie Pie, the hound, and Pluto the black cat comes in at BONEFIRE. And Roscoe makes an appearance in BONES OF A FEATHER. There are also horses in the stories. I read them aloud to my gang in an effort to show them they, too, could be gainfully employed. It doesn't work at all.

Unknown said...

I, too, thought about being a vet because I love animals so much. But I realized that I can't stand to see them in trouble or pain. Not good for a vet.
I give you great credit for having your refuge! What a labor of love. Lucky animals.
And you obviously know cats
A few years ago my niece rescued a mare. She couldn't seem to get her to fill out despite the good care she was giving. Then one morning she went out an found a beautiful baby boy with the mare! Turns out they are 100% Morgan. Not that she needed 2 more horses, but shat a jackpot!
libbydodd at comcast dot net

petite said...

What a wonderful post and great giveaway. These women are definitely special. elliotbencan(at)hotmail(dot)com

traveler said...

Impressive and beautiful. So kind and giving. Thanks. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com


Carolyn is a true animal advocate! What a tremendous and wonderful person!

servedogmom said...

I have great respect for those who rescue, rehabilitate and find forever home for animals/ Our family always had rescued pets from shelters until our service dogs were placed.

CATachresis said...

What an amazing person!! How does she find time to write??

Sue said...

I admire people that do animal rescue work so much. I'd love to do it---and I have the room---but my hubby says "NO" when I want to get another animal. I only have 2 dogs and 2 cats and I just love them to pieces. Animals can truly be part of the family.
Thanks for the interview---I would love to win your book.

Carol M said...

All of my cats have been rescues. Thank you for all the good work you do for animals and thank you for such a great series!!

mittens0831 at aol dot com

Carolyn said...

We animal lovers have to stick together. I really enjoy being able to use the animals (based on my own animals) in my books. Right now I have 4 hounds and 4 other dogs--it is a wild and hairy place. And the 9 cats and 5 horses. Whew. I do stay busy. But I feel this is my mission. Thank you for your kind words.

Mama Cat said...

I am in awe of your animal refuge! I don't know how you can stand to give them to good homes - it would break my heart! We have five cats currently, 4 of which were 'finds' or rescues. We also have a confirmed feral tom cat who comes to eat when we put food outdoors for him; he brings his pregnant lady friends over for a bite of food if they need it. One day maybe we can trap and take care of that little challenge...knowing what I do now, I want to start reading your books now that I know about your love for animals! (I know, I had decided to not start any more series for a while....) I would love to win one of these! Thanks so much! jeaniedannheim (at) ymail (dot) com

Unknown said...

Always adopt animals when I can. Looking for a puppy this summer unless we find the right senior dog to get along with my kitty. Thanks for a chance.

The Island Cats said...

We're very impressed with Miss Carolyn. Paws up to her and her rescue!

Barbara T. said...

Love animals. Bobbipad at gmail dot com

Kaye Killgore said...

Great interview, 4 paws up from my kitties. Hugs to Carolyn for her work.

kaye dot killgore at comcast dot net

bookwomen said...

My house is like a cat rescue home too. My latest effort has been spaying and neutering the neighborhood cats with the owner's permission. Your books always make me laugh and I enjoy them. Thanks

gibsonbk at hiwaay dot net

glorious said...

I hit preview and it disappeared? anyone know why?

glorious said...

Well I am going to try again.
I am thrilled that the 15th Sarah Booth Delaney book is available for me to buy. :)
I have read all of the books thus far and love each of them.
If you haven't already read the first 14, What are you waiting for? You are in for a treat.
This is a great way to take a vacation to the deep south without every leaving home.
These books will delight, intrigue, make you laugh, and hook you for life.
Buy this one asap, and then grab as many as you can find on line. I enjoy reading them and then re-reading them they are so good.
You will have the perfect summer read with any of the Sarah Booth Delaney series books.
You will be enchanted, you will be intrigued, you will find yourself laughing out loud, you will be on pins and needles unable to put the book down, and finally you will be relieved when Sarah successfully solves the 'who done it' without being mortally wounded.
You will fall in love with Sarah and her entourage. There will be times when they have you laughing, times when you are in tears, and then times when you are hopping mad at Coleman, or Graf.
You will come to consider reading these books as a visit with old friends, like flying home once a year and getting reacquainted with those back home.
There is something for everyone and enough twists, turns, and suspense to want to read all night. I have lol
Whether you are looking for something to read on the beach, relaxing in your back yard, or in the comfort of your home you will be glad you bought this book. Perfect for that subway commute to work, waiting to catch a bus, train or plane. Great for reading on that flight to your vacation destination or that business meeting that is giving you ulcers.
Set a spell and enjoy Suthin' hospitality, intrigue, romance, mayhem, and mystery.
Definitely a book you will enjoy reading and not want to put down, but then want to re-read slowly, to savor the ambiance, the camaraderie, and wordsmith-ship of Carolyn Haines.
Welcome to the world of Sarah Booth Delaney, I know you will enjoy these delightful, entertaining and addictive of Mississippi Delta mysteries written by an award winning author whose love for and knowledge of the South is obvious.
(Also obvious, as she writes with such passion, is that Carolyn possesses an immense heart and soul along with a love for her characters and her readers)

glorious said...

My apolgies for the few errors in my comment above but after hitting preview and it disappearing the first time I just hit publish. All the best and I am excited for those of you new to this series.

Anita Yancey said...

The book sounds like a real fun and interesting mystery. I would love to read it. Thanks for having the giveaway.


Random Felines said...

another author to add to mom's reading list....can't wait!

holdenj said...

What a great post, I liked learning about Carolyn's love of animals! And, I'm looking forward to Sarah's new adventure. Thanks!

Fiona L. Woods said...

My kitty boy thanks you for your spay/neuter work to help control the unwanted animal population and your animal rescue work.

fionalwoods (at) yahoo (dot) com

Unknown said...

Such a fun, wonderful post. I have had dogs for over 40 years and all have been rescues.My current baby, Quigley, was dumped over the fence into my back yar. I had just rescued a dog with a broken leg and was waiting for her to be able to come home from surgery so I felt I couldn't keep him. The shelter was full so I fostered him. LOL I called them after a week saying to take him off the adoption list as he was now sleeping in my bed. We also have two cat colonies in the area and the local vets all work together, offering to spay/neuter the cats for free when they are captured and we all take turns feeding them. Bless the animals:)