Friday, April 25, 2014

Author Jill Yesko talks about writing and dogs (+Giveaway)

I’m delighted today to welcome author Jill Yesko to Thoughts in Progress as part of her Great Escape Virtual Book Tour for her intriguing mysteries, MURDER IN THE DOG PARK and DOG SPELLED BACKWARDS.

As part of the tour, Jill joins us and has graciously answered some questions for me. I’ll also be sharing my thoughts on one of the books in her “Dog” series. In addition, Jill is giving away a copy of each of her books. Please see the end of the post for the giveaway details.

Here’s a brief synopsis of MURDER IN THE DOG PARK:

        Discovering a brutally murdered boy in a rainy dog park sends misanthropic private detective Jane Ronson on a journey through Baltimore’s gritty underbelly. Aided by a sexy cop, a bad-ass bull terrier, and an only-in-Baltimore cast of characters, Jane must use her computer-hacking and street-fighting skills to save her only family member from being framed as the killer.

Paperback: 128 pages
Publisher: Baxter World Publishing (May 28, 2012)
ISBN-13: 978-0985485207
File Size: 242 KB
Print Length: 128 pages

Here’s a brief synopsis of DOG SPELLED BACKWARDS: AN UNHOLY MYSTERY ….

        Private investigator Jane Ronson suffers from oppositional defiant disorder, the uncontrollable urge to punch first then ask questions later. When a rabbi with a shady past offers her a bag of cash to spy on a rival rabbi, Jane jumps at the chance to make what think will be easy money. To get her cash, Jane impersonates an Orthodox Jewish woman and infiltrates a black market kidney ring in Baltimore’s Orthodox community. Between Russian gangsters and double crosses, Jane is number one on everyone’s hit list. To save her life, she forms an alliance with a religious woman and confronts a family.

Paperback: 210 pages
Publisher: Baxter World Publishing (August 17, 2013)
ISBN-13: 978-0985485214
File Size: 1355 KB
Print Length: 118 pages

Please join me in welcoming Jill as she talks about writing and dogs.

Mason - Now that your book is published, what surprised you the most about your book coming together and/or the publishing aspect?
I purposely chose to self-publish because I wanted complete control over all aspects of the process, from commissioning the cover art to selecting my “publisher on demand.” I created my own imprint, Baxter World Publishing, to brand my books. 

Dog-Park-coverBeing CEO of my own publishing entity is a mixed blessing. The blessings: assembling a fantastic team of collaborators with skills I could only dream of possessing (a huge shout out to Elaine and Elizabeth for their formatting skills!). The curse: with so many channels of distribution reporting revenue in a zillion different ways, it’s impossible for me to know whether I am making or losing money. I jokingly tell people that publishing is my surrogate child.
Mason - What is the worst writing advice you’ve ever been given?
There is no inherent bad advice – there’s just too much damn advice out there! Stop asking everyone’s opinion and sit down and write.
Mason - What are the advantages and disadvantages of writing about dogs?
Writing about dogs is limiting. There are going to be scenes and even whole sections of your book where dogs may not fit in. I faced this problem in DOG SPELLED BACKWARDS, the sequel to MURDER IN THE DOG PARK. I didn’t want to gratuitously insert Archie the bull terrier into scenes just to remind readers of his presence. To solve this dilemma, I invented Eve, Archie’s “girlfriend.” Now I had a love story to echo that of Jane and Don.
Writing about dogs means you have a responsibility to depict dogs, and pet ownership in an honest light (MURDER IN THE DOG PARK opens with a description of Archie licking his balls - what dog owner hasn’t been grossed out by their male dog do that?). I purposely chose a bull terrier as my doggie protagonist because I felt using a pit bull would be too emotionally charged (for the record, I own a basset hound). 

In researching bull terriers, I had the pleasure of getting involved with Blue Ridge Bull Terrier Rescue (, one of the hundreds of rescue groups in the country. I donate a portion of my profits to and encourage my readers to consider adopting or supporting a dog from an accredited rescue organization. 

The best thing about writing about dogs is that half of all Americans have one. And who doesn’t love to read about something so loving and familiar?
I always preface my talks by saying: “no dogs were harmed in the writing of my books.” Humans, well, I can’t make that promise.
Mason - If your book was made into a movie, which actors/actresses (past or present) would you want to play your main characters and why?
It’s flattering to be asked to cast your book! Here my choices when Hollywood calls: 

Jenna Malone is the hands-down choice to play my protagonist Jane Ronson. I was impressed with her pissed-off, tough girl character in The Hunger Games. She was the only character with enough balls to stand up to Katniss - a steely ass-kicker in her own right. And Jenna has an interesting face; pretty, but not conventionally beautiful. Her true grit and bitchy resting face mDogSpelledBackwardsake her the ideal Jane. 

No actor would be better than Jonah Hill to depict Lenny, Jane’s sad sack cousin. Not only is Jonah is the right weight, he can affect that ingratiating, yet somehow lovable quality that makes Jane want to strangle Lenny one minute and hug him the next. 

Channing Tatum is my pick for Don, the sexy Baltimore cop who loves Jane through thick and thin. If you’re going to create an ideal boyfriend who is handsome, loyal, and just smart enough, Tatum is your man.
Mason - What is the one thing you wish readers would ask about, but they never do?
I would think the logical question in every reader’s mind would be “how much of you is incorporated in Jane?” But it seems no one ever brings this up, at least not during Q and A sessions at my readings. Maybe people just don’t care that much about me

Mason - What can readers expect from you in the future?
I’m slowly, slowly, pecking away at the third and finally installment of the “Dog” series; the working title is SLEEPING DOGS DON’T LIFE. At the same time, I’d like to return to my journalistic and bicycle racing roots and write a non-fiction book about blood boosting among cyclists at the 1984 Olympics. There will be no mention of dogs in that book.
Jill, thanks so much for joining us today and sharing a look at your writing. Well, now I have to ask – how much of you is incorporated in Jane?

For those of you unfamiliar with Jill, let me share a bit of background on her.

Jill Yesko’s 20+ year writing career has included stints as a sport writer, NPR commentator and investigative reporter. She’s written about everything from body piercing to human pyramids in Spain. 

After a solo trek around the world, Jill was profiled as an “adventurous traveler” in O, the Oprah magazine. Before becoming a writer, Jill was a national-class cyclist and graduate and cartographer. A New Jersey native, Jill now patrols Baltimore’s dog parks with her basset hound.

For more on Jill and her writing, visit her website and her blog, as well as connect with her on Facebook. You can also find MURDER IN THE DOG PARK and DOG SPELLED BACKWARDS on Goodreads.


Now for my thoughts on the first installment in Jill’s “Dog” series.


Cynical private detective Jane Ronson discovers that catering to the needs of your canine can sometimes get you into trouble.

On what was supposed to be a constitutional walk, Jane’s bull terrier Archie discovers a dead body in the dog park. Jane is thrown in the middle of the investigation when her cousin Lenny becomes the prime suspect.

Using her street smarts and computer hacking skills, Jane is determined to find the killer and clear Lenny’s name.

The story is short and moves at a steady pace. The characters are likable and realistic. Author Jill Yesko has created a strong, independent protagonist who speaks her mind and doesn’t stand on ceremony where social issues are concerned. 

Yesko’s rich descriptions pulls the reader in and holds them captive until the end. She blends murder, mystery, humor and a bit of romance for a well-balanced story. MURDER IN THE DOG PARK will keep you busy guessing who the real killer is, while laughing at Jane and Archie’s antics, and looking forward to their next adventure.

Murder in the Dog Park by Jill Yesko, A Dog Mystery Series Book #1, Baxter World Publishing, @2012, ISBN: 978-0985485207, Paperback, 128 Pages 

FTC Full Disclosure - This book was sent to me by the author as part of her virtual book tour in hopes I would review it. However, receiving the complimentary copy did not influence my review.


DOG MYSTERIES SMALL BANNERYou can follow Jill on her virtual book tour by stopping by the following participating blogs:

April 14 – rantin’ ravin’ and reading – Review
April 15 –
Mommasez… – Review, Guest Post
April 16 –
readalot blog – Review
April 17 –
Kelly P’s Blog – Interview
April 18 –
Mochas, Mysteries and Meows - Guest Post
April 19 –
Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – Review
April 21-
deal sharing aunt - Guest Post
April 22 –
StoreyBook Reviews – Review
April 22 –
fuonlyknew ~ Laura’s Ramblins and Reviews – Review
April 23 –
Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers – Review
April 24 –
fundinmental – Guest Post
April 26 –
Chloe Gets a Clue  – Interview
April 27 –
Melina Book Blog – Guest Post
April 28 –
Teena in Toronto – Review
April 29 –
Read Your Writes Book Reviews – Review
April 30 –
Brooke Blogs – Review, Guest Post


This giveaway is for one eBook of MURDER IN THE DOG PARK and one eBook of DOG SPELLED BACKWARDS: AN UNHOLY MYSTERY.

To enter the giveaway, just click on the Rafflecopter widget below and follow the instructions. The widget may take a few seconds to load, please be patient.

Thanks so much everyone for stopping by today. What do you think about a bull terrier being the main sidekick for a female private detective? Have you ever owned a bull terrier?
a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. Jill, thanks again for joining us today and sharing this behind-the-scenes look at your books. Wishing you much success.

  2. You can have a huge series going with that theme. And you're right Jill - too much advice out there. Just write!

  3. Mason - Thanks for introducing us to Jill.

    Jill - I love your advice to writers! There is a lot of, well, advice out there and it's important for the writer not to get lost in it. I wish you success.

  4. congrats to Jill on her books!

  5. Congrats on the books Jill - these sound like fun books! :)

  6. Sounds great.


I'd love to hear your thoughts on today's post. Thanks for dropping by.