When long-time friend Debra Webb invited me to write a guest blog, I was delighted! With the fourth Southern Cousins Mystery coming out September 27, I thought of all the things I could tell you – how Elvis came to be a basset hound, why he’s one of the two narrators, how Lovie bears a striking resemblance to my cousin Martha Jo, and why I titled the book Tropical Double Trouble. And then a wonderful thing happened: I was invited to Deb’s house for the weekend so I could be part of her youngest daughter’s beautiful wedding. So I packed my finest duds and set out to Huntsville on one of those glorious, crisp days that gives me hope the hot summer is finally coming to an end.
Missy looked like a princess bride, regal and gorgeous, but most of all happy, as she pledged her vows in front of a waterfall atop a mountain. Then the wedding party trekked downhill where we ate too much, laughed a lot and danced in celebration. Even I, who had not danced in years, was inspired to break into the “Hokey Pokey.”
Back at Deb’s, I kicked off my shoes, flopped onto her comfy couch and sipped a very good, very sweet wine as she and I talked late into the night, sometimes about writing and our works in progress, but mostly just
catching up, sharing laughter and precious tidbits from the lives of our children and my grandchildren.
The next morning I was awakened by the sound of barking – Deb’s small dogs, her niece’s prissy little dog who thinks he’s human – and the magnificent big woofing of Missy’s year-old black Lab. The first time I ever laid eyes on Samson, the gangly-legged, charmingly comical Lab, I was enchanted. He reminds me so much of my beloved Jefferson, the chocolate Lab/friend/companion/protector who spent his fifteen years at my side. It didn’t matter what I was doing – writing, gardening, napping, tossing the ball or a stick –Jefferson was always there.
The thing about Samson is that he doesn’t cozy up to just any old body. He stands back, sizes you up, and won’t let you put your hands on his gleaming black coat unless you’ve earned the right. I worked all weekend to earn the right. I ended up bribing him with tiny treats of cheese left over from the wedding reception. Finally we came to an understanding, Missy’s dog and I. If I would keep cheese in my pocket, he’d be my friend. Reaching down to wrap my arms around him and look into those soulful Lab eyes took me back to the days when Jefferson and I were a team. We wrote together (well, I wrote; he snoozed under my desk), traveled together, shared popcorn and classic TV movies, and slept side by side, me on a bed so tall it takes long legs like mine to climb in, and Jefferson at my side on his favorite Oriental rug.
Driving home from Deb’s I thought about the weekend, about the friends who cheer for our triumphs and catch us when we fall, who invite us in, who trust us and love us enough to share their lives, their families. And I thought about the animals who enrich us with their loyalty and their love, who delight us with their antics, who console us without being told our sad stories, who break our hearts when they leave us behind.
And I thought about family, the children we love and guide and then let go, praying we’ve done a good job, the grandchildren we can spoil and indulge and love extravagantly without worrying about imposing curfews and rules.
These are the well-springs of a writer’s life. Good friends, wonderful family and loyal pets provide endless inspiration for the stories we tell.
Mississippian Peggy Webb is the author of nearly seventy books in a career that spans twenty-six years. Publisher’s Weekly and Romantic Times (4 ½ Stars!) love her latest comedic Southern Cousins Mystery. Six of Peggy’s romance classics (Loveswepts) are now available as e-books with more on the way. She also writes literary fiction under the pen name, Anna Michaels. Visit her at www.peggywebb.com and