"WHAT THE DOG ATE"

Named one of the best dog books of 2012 by NBC Petside.com


“Dog lovers take note! What the Dog Ate is a cheer-me-up read, the story of a smart woman putting her life back together. Maggie is the character women have been waiting for - she’s clever, funny, and REAL. You’ll root for her with your whole heart.”
—Elsa Watson, author of Dog Days



My novel, What the Dog Ate, tells the story of one woman's search for tail-wagging joy. It's available from Amazon and Barnes & Noble in either e-book or paperback formats.

Below, you'll find an excerpt and a readers' discussion guide. I hope you'll enjoy What the Dog Ate, and please consider leaving a review on Amazon, B&N, or GoodReads. Reviews and word-of-mouth recommendations are still the best way readers discover great new books. Thank you! 

Excerpt
This scene takes place a couple of weeks after Maggie finds exactly what it was that the dog ate - namely, a pair of size-tiny thong panties that weren't hers. (As per the opening line of the book: "The vet handed Maggie Baxter a plastic specimen bag containing a pair of size-tiny lavender thong panties extracted from her dog; but they were not hers.") Confronted with the evidence, her husband of seventeen years admits his affair and leaves her for the other woman: 
~~~
Maggie tried to finalize her remaining projects during her last week at BioHealth, but she found it hard to concentrate—or care. Wednesday afternoon she claimed a migraine and left early holding her hand to her temple for effect, thinking: Just two more days of this place.

She wanted to go straight home, but knew the refrigerator held nothing more than a half-eaten jar of kosher dills and some marmalade. She didn’t need much. She planned to whip through the store, grab some cereal, milk and ice cream, and then zip home to her dog and pajamas. This would be so much easier if someone would just invent Human Chow, she thought as she grabbed a cart and pushed it, with its rattling wheel, into the store.

She’d already hit the dairy section and stood in the cereal aisle analyzing all the different options. Oat Squares were on sale. The cost-per-ounce was less than her favorite granola, so she opted for two boxes. She flung them into the cart, contemplating the simplicity of a product named for its main flavor and shape. She tried to think of other examples; pineapple rings came to mind. What else? Orange Slices. Those sugarcoated jelly candies Dad used to buy. She hadn’t had one in forever. Her mouth watered as she imagined sinking her teeth into one, the burst of orange flavor, the crunch of the sugar crystals. Orange Slices would be the perfect snack for the ride home. She started to swing the cart back toward the candy, when she glanced up and saw Dave with That Woman at the end of the aisle.

She stared in horror and fascination. She flip-flopped between the urge to run the opposite direction, or to get a good look at That Woman who stole her husband. It was like watching a slasher film. She couldn’t look away, even though it made her feel sick to see Dave and the easy, comfortable way he stood with That Woman, his hand resting at the small of her back. The way he used to stand with Maggie.

They were heading down the back aisle and hadn’t seen her. The lighting was bad, with only every other florescent strip light on, and Dave had his back to Maggie, but after so many years together she would have recognized the back, side, top of the man’s head at fifty paces in any light. That Woman stood in front of Dave, next to the meat case, so Maggie could only see a sliver of her long wavy hair, jeans and sweater.

They had stopped in front of the bacon.

Dave doesn’t eat bacon.

They had shifted now; Dave still had his back to Maggie, but she could see That Woman’s face. She danced a bacon package back and forth in front of Dave, as if to entice him with it. She was not at all what Maggie had envisioned in her tortured thoughts.

When she’d seen the lavender thong panties, less substantial than the pink velvet cord Gram used to keep her reading glasses around her neck, she’d known That Woman was small. Impossibly petite. Maggie pictured a slim comic-book vixen with long legs, no hips and a flat stomach beneath Zeppelin breasts. She’d also imagined thick blond hair and too much makeup. But This Woman was skinny—boyishly so. Her figure looked like she could act the part of a slice of bacon in a school play on agricultural products; it didn’t look like she ever ate bacon. She didn’t seem to wear any makeup. She wasn’t plain, but she certainly was not gorgeous. Her hair was long and thick, but frizzy and a mousy brown color. She was... normal.

They laughed as That Woman flipped the package over to read to him. They huddled together as she pointed at the words, and Dave appeared to read along.

He won’t eat that. It has too many nitrates.

Dave took the package out of That Woman’s hand and tossed it in the cart. She giggled, bumped him with her twelve-year-old boy’s hip, and they moved on.

Maggie stood rooted to the spot. Her brain shouted: Dave doesn’t eat bacon. But her gut whispered: He’s not coming back.

She drove home, barely noticing where she was going. She shoved the groceries into the fridge, still in the canvas bag, even the cereal. Her wedding band caught her eye. She fingered it with her right thumb and index finger. She yanked it off and pulled open the junk drawer. She dropped the ring into an old Altoids tin that still smelled of mint and held a few paperclips. She slammed the drawer shut.


~~~


Readers' Discussion Questions
  1. Dave breaks up with Maggie in Pig Latin. What’s the worst break up story you ever heard . . . or lived through yourself? (Can I share one, just to get the ball rolling? My sister's friend was dumped by his wife on their outgoing answering machine message. Yes, the outgoing message. If you called their house that day you heard, "You've reached ###-####, please leave a message. Oh, and if this is John, I'm leaving the marriage." Nice, right?)
  2. Maggie seems to have a very different relationship with her mother than Kevin does. Do you think it's because Kevin is "the baby" and/or because he's male? How do you think your birth-order has affected your personality? Has it affected your relationship with your mother? 
  3. If you were invited to the "Come as Your Favorite Artist or Subject" party, what would you choose for your costume?
  4. Have you had a pet who taught you life lessons? What did you learn?
  5. Have you had a pet that ate weird and not-so-wonderful things?
  6. Did you ever feel trapped in a job that you hated? Do you have a dream job, or are you already lucky enough to be doing what you love?
  7. Maggie is most definitely a rule follower. Are you more of a rule follower or a rule breaker?
  8. Maggie has an important support network. Her siblings are like friends, and her friend Helen is like a sister. Do you feel that way about friends and family?
  9. One of the themes of the book is learning to find a balance between following your head and following your heart. Can you think of a time when you struggled with that balance? Was your ultimate decision based on what your head said, or your heart?

2 comments:

  1. This was a fabulous book, I couldn't put it down. Kept me on my toes wanting to know what was going to happen next.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks so much, JoAnn! I'm SO glad you enjoyed the book!

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