Congratulations to Janelle Jalbert on her new cover for WINGDOG: Soul Pup, A Magical Mutt Memoir!

About the Book:

It’s love at first sight...for both of them. An abandoned yet tenacious pup with one blue eye and one brown eye beats the odds and is enlisted as one woman’s WINGDOG. It's a role he takes seriously, but he knows that his human needs more than just another set of eyes and ears. He must show her how to laugh and how to love again. His loyalty knows no bounds, and he takes his duties seriously riding shotgun as the pair travel life’s highway.

A dog may be man’s best friend, but the truth is…A WINGDOG is truly a woman’s gift.

For readers who enjoy contemporary canine classics such as MARLEY & ME, THE ART OF RACING IN THE RAIN, and A DOG’S PURPOSE, Janelle Jalbert’s ‘Magical Mutt Memoir’ combines the best of these storytelling traditions. Told as a memoir - adhering to how events unfolded - one woman seeks establish a new life after moving across the country from California to North Carolina.

Her chance at a new normal arrives in the form of Goose, a pup that melts not only her heart but also the hearts of everyone that he meets. As they travel coast-to-coast and places in between, the bond that the two share proves that love and loyalty can transcend even the greatest of obstacles.

WINGDOG: SOUL PUP is a heart-warming, emotional – and oftentimes comical – tale of how one pup becomes the consummate WINGDOG only to transform into the ultimate Soul Pup.

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  • WINGDOG: Soul Pup, A Magical Mutt Memoir is available at Amazon.
Book Excerpt:
First Date

Yes, I slept with him on our first date. It felt so good to have his warm body against mine. He was gorgeous and sweet as slumber set in, and I couldn’t help but curl up closer. We were already doing our own version of spooning, just hours after meeting. Everything was once again right with the world thanks to his warmth by my side. It was a case of love at first sight that grew deeper in the darkness of the bedroom around us.
I couldn’t help but run my fingers through his fur as his brindled coat rose and fell with deep, sleep-filled breathing. His fur was the perfect texture, not too course but without fluff. The hairs behind his bouncy ears were already my favorite, so silky fine. He sighed as I continued rubbing up and down his side before once more scratching behind his ear. With the ear rubs, he pushed closer into me. His sixteen pound body firmly tucked at my hip.
Ah, I’m home.
I wasn’t sure if it was my thought because it could have easily come from the pup at my side. For the first time in weeks, I began to doze off, peaceful and content. The neighbor problems that plagued my previous weeks faded away with his comforting presence.
Sometimes it does all work out. Bad things can lead to great opportunities.
The stress of moving from California to North Carolina evaporated. The distress that plagued me eased. It was what I'd been craving: a chance to forget and to enjoy life again. It was what my soul needed. I sighed and let go. All was good, at last.
* * *
The day started like most of late when I got sidetracked by my inbox after clicking on the message. A small, brown puppy snuggled face-to-face with a tabby kitten appeared. The expression in the picture wasn’t curiosity. It was more like a big brother protecting a younger sibling. The other picture was of the same puppy looking up at the camera. His brown ears were as big as his head. The look in his eyes was that of questioning intelligence, and only the slightest hint of his blue left eye opposite the brown one showed. He seemed to know it was not simply a picture being taken.
It took less than thirty seconds. I was in love.
            Immediately, I hit reply. He’s adorable. I’d love to meet him!
With that, a flurry of emails was exchanged. I rushed out into the silvery, fall day, filled with clouds. I stopped at the ATM before getting on the highway for the trip down to Rock Hill from Charlotte. It felt odd to pull money out to buy a dog. Granted, I rescued pups before, but this felt different. Then, it hit me. There’s something not all together right about exchanging money for a living creature’s spirit, and that thought caught me off guard.
“What’s that all about?” I muttered as I turned down the onramp to Highway 85, heading south. I shook off the feeling with the thought that it helped pay for his care rather than buying him per say.
            As I made the transition to the 77 near uptown Charlotte, I started thinking of names for the pup. Angie named him ‘Ace of Spades’ or Ace for ease, but that wasn’t right. I knew that instantly. My dogs have always named themselves. He’ll let me know. I thought, but still names flitted through my mind.
What do I want from all this? That made me laugh. It’s a dog adoption, not a marriage. The truth was already apparent. This was going to be bigger than a simple custody transfer. The anxiety over recent events with neighbors at my apartment complex threatened to rear up again. I needed someone…something…to help watch my back. I wanted a right-hand man…a wingman…or, in this case, a ‘wingdog’.
That’s it! Goose. Like the wingman in Top Gun, he’d be my extra pair of eyes and ears. I loved it immediately and settled on it before remembering that the dog does the choosing.
“Okay, just keep it in mind,” I mumbled as I got off the highway and made a convoluted trip to the apartment. I texted Angie from the parking lot because I couldn’t make sense of the numbers in the complex, so she agreed to bring him down to meet me. I waited in the car for a few minutes, laughing at myself for having a bit of ‘first date’ jitters about meeting a puppy.
They seemed to appear out of nowhere and stopped at the end of the walkway.
I got out, and as soon as I cleared the bumper, he spotted me. It was magic - a connection in an instant - as he leapt towards me despite his leash. His eyes lit up like I’m sure mine did. With a big smile and open arms, I walked up to him at Angie’s side and said hello. He barely reached my kneecap, but his eyes were wide and bright. I dropped to my knee. Given my earlier thoughts about marriage, I chuckled and shook my head to clear the whole proposal analogy from my head. He nuzzled into me immediately and toppled me onto my rear.
Who are YOU? I haven’t seen you before. He did a once over with his nose. Yep, you smell nice. You’re a good one. How ya doin’?
I smiled ear to ear as I situated myself, sitting cross-legged so the little guy could sniff away at will. If that isn’t an enthusiastic yes, I don’t know what is. My heart swelled as his furry little body shivered with excitement. His wild tail matched the leaping in my chest. I looked into his wide, trusting eyes: one brown, the other blue. It was a match. You choose me too! I thought as I wrapped my arms around the brindled bundle showering me in warm wet pup kisses.
“We found him on the highway. He was in bad shape, but we nursed him back to health. He’s been dewormed too.”
He sat listening to the conversation like he would chime in at any time, sneaking glances at me as Angie debriefed me about his circumstances.
How could someone be so evil to such an adorable boy?
            “Several people have come to look at him, but the brindle coloring gives the impression of a pit bull.” Angie sighed. “He’s incredibly friendly, but the people who’ve come to see him have scared him as well as my husband and me. It’s like he knows they’re not right. My husband and I figured they were looking for fighting dogs, or even bait dogs, when they start asking about his bloodlines.”
A chill traveled down my spine at the thought of people looking to sacrifice a loving creature for a blood sport.
Angie continued, “That’s why we’ve been saying that he’s a Jack Russell mix. We’re not sure though, and we can’t keep him anyway.” Angie went on to explain about their impending move as Goose scanned the yard of the apartment complex.
Hold on. His name isn’t Goose yet. I thought as my mind and heart made the leap. He gets a vote. Remember?
            “He’s big into sticks,” Angie stated as she reached up into the branches of a small, almost bare tree near us and broke off a branch for Goose. He immediately plopped down to tackle his new toy. “I was going to name him Lucky, but that’s too common. So, I thought that the Ace of Spades is a lucky card. That’s how he got his name.”
I noticed that he wasn’t too fond of the name either, since he didn’t even twitch when he heard her say it. Good boy! You’re definitely a smart one. I thought. I could tell Angie was stalling a bit with her continued chatting.
            “He’s still damp. I was cleaning the bird cage in the bathtub, and he jumped right in too. He loves water.”
            “Perfect! I’m a surfer girl who needs to be around water all the time.” I said with a laugh and smile. “Yeah, I know Charlotte’s not near the ocean, but we’ll be at the lake a lot.” I felt like I was selling myself to win favor.
            “He loves going for rides too. My husband has to take him every time he goes to the store or wherever.”
            “That works out perfectly too. Though I am teaching online classes fulltime, I’m a bit of a road warrior right now with a side gig as a motorsports reporter. That’s what brought me to NC. We’ll be going to California in a couple of weeks for the Phoenix race, Thanksgiving, and Champ Week. He’ll get the ride of his puppy life.”
            Angie’s shoulders slumped as we transferred his things to the car, and I handed Angie a hundred dollars for both the pup and all of her supplies. There wasn’t much: a used cat collar, a small leash, some food and a bowl, but it was a start. The supermarket dog food was going to be replaced immediately.
You’ll be eating way better than that. I vowed silently. I could tell that Angie was both happy and sad. I passed the test. He was going to a good home, but it meant that he was leaving her.
Whether it was Angie’s demeanor or plain puppy energy, he grew restless, starting to explore the yard as much as he could while still on a leash. After Angie ran out of things to chit-chat about, I opened the passenger’s side door and cradled him in my arms. His warmth traveled to my core as the soft bundle of brown, black and white fur rested close to my heart. A sigh escaped as I held him to my chest before placing him on the seat.
Shotgun! He perked up and sniffed the interior, which was already filling with the smell of kibble.
His investigation stopped abruptly and he stared at Angie and me. He knew something was different. This wasn’t a casual, meet-someone-on-a-walk encounter anymore. It was a strange new car. He looked at Angie. Thank you. I’m happy. She’s a good one.
Angie sighed. “Bye, Ace. You’re a good boy.”
He seemed to smile as he stretched, puffing out his puppy chest. Then he got distracted by the straw to my iced coffee. He was at ease, and inside of two hours, I became a pup mom. Life wasn’t going to be the same again.

About the Author

Janelle Jalbert had two light bulb moments at the age of 10. One involved teaching. She began teaching her stuffed animals daily lessons after school. The other was the result of an obsession with reading. Just like her dad, Janelle loved to plow through books like any child racing to the presents under a tree on Christmas morning. Her favorite YA series featured a main character that aspired to be a writer, and Janelle exclaimed “I wanna do that!”

Flash forward to a decade or so later, Janelle pursued her love of teaching, but her passion for writing remained a glowing ember. It took a car accident to get Janelle writing once again. She wrote and published Success Skills for Middle and High School Students (2001) to help her students with their major educational transitions. Not one to do the same old thing as everyone else, Janelle had a hint of things to come when she was looking for a “different” topic to focus on for her master’s thesis. She was drawn to Magical Realism. Years later, she blended her love for helping others and creative entrepreneurialism with her writing and contributed a chapter to Conscious Entrepreneurs (2008). It was another hint of what was to come for Janelle with the theme for her segment in the anthology being a call to take charge of your life by becoming the star of your life by step into your own spotlight.

It sounds simple enough, but Janelle’s journey towards fulfilling her early dream was not that straight-forward…for either better or worse. After transitioning from the traditional classroom to online teaching and moving from K12 to university teaching, Janelle decided to pursue a doctoral program. While juggling teaching, studies, and growing a college admissions counseling business, Janelle had another light bulb moment during a trip to a NASCAR race weekend in Fontana.

Janelle and her sister were always around cars and loved racing. One of their rituals was making the trek to racing events in Southern California. That morning in the spring of 2009, Janelle watched people walking in and out of the garage as practice sessions were going. Again, she heard the voice “I wanna do that!” Given that she was teaching English and doing studies in education, it was a fleeting moment that she quickly forgot.

Three months later, after covering graduate schools in the Los Angeles area for, Janelle got a wild idea. She asked her editor in education for the sports editor’s contact information and pitched him the role of Southern California Motorsports Examiner. Not only did she land the position, she was also named NASCAR Truck Series Examiner. By the time that NASCAR returned to Fontana that fall, Janelle was working the garage as a reporter and photographer. In fact, it wasn’t until she was halfway through her first morning there that she remembered what happened during the spring race. It was a little bit of magic, a touch of nerve, and some talent that had Janelle smiling that October day. Janelle went on to travel the country covering motorsports, including moving to North Carolina for an extended period, while still teaching and pursuing graduate work.

The unlikely fairytale story did not an easy happily-ever-after ending though. As her fortieth birthday approached, the rumblings of a major life change began. Even though Janelle loved teaching, she realized that education was not where she needed to be. Then the universe reaffirmed her belief when her teaching position was phased out. Though Janelle was already growing a small business startup, she struggled to find her footing.

Months later, Janelle walked out of a local restaurant and was hit with a story idea that grabbed her. She hadn’t worked on fiction since she was a teen, but the story kept screaming to her. Another voice gave her pause though. “You need to do it in 30 days.” It seemed illogical and even melodramatic. (No, it wasn’t a NANOWRIMO challenge either.) Still, she began drafting. It flowed, even if it wasn’t in linear fashion, and Janelle felt the fire back in her life.

Then, Janelle learned why there was a 30-day warning. She was about 90% done with the draft when her father went to the hospital. He was diagnosed with a brain tumor and had surgery days later. Though he pulled through the procedure, doctors explained that he had multiple advanced cancers. In the weeks that followed, Janelle finished the draft while her dad battled cancer. He was too ill to read it and passed on New Year’s night. The person who gave Janelle the love of the written word was gone, but life was to take a few more turns.

By spring, Janelle pursued writing in all types of formats, from copywriting and ghostwriting to other genres, to pay the bills. In March, she submitted to Flash Fiction Magazine and was published on the first attempt. A month later, she took another leap and pitched a book to another publisher. The topic was rejected, but they asked if she had any expertise in the other areas that they were seeking. By the end of the week, Janelle had a book contract to write Wine for Beginners. While drafting that book, Janelle also asked to contribute on a regular basis to Flash Fiction Magazine which led her to develop a collection of stories.

Within months, Janelle finished the draft of Wine for Beginners. After finalizing the submission, she poured a glass of bubbly and went to celebrate with her mother and sister. The elation did an immediate 180. Instead of toasting for a much needed celebration, she was helping her sister prepare to go to the emergency room. Less than 12 hours after pouring the glass of bubbly, Janelle’s sister lost her fight with complication from a life-long disability.

So, Janelle’s still working on that happily-ever-after ending. In November 2014, Janelle publishing a collection of flash fiction title Flash 40: Life’s Moments. Wine for Beginners was released in 2015, and the novel, Triangulating Bliss, which rekindled Janelle’s writing passion is due for release in the Fall of 2015.

Janelle currently resides in Southern California, with her pack of pups. When the dogs allow, Janelle regularly returns to her second home of sorts in North Carolina. Her interests are diverse and keep life interesting by giving her experiences that make great stories. More than likely, you can find Janelle enjoying a good wine with friends, feeding her wanderlust beast, or giving into her guilty pleasure of a HEA story in film or written form.

Her latest book is the memoir, WINGDOG: Soul Pup, A Magical Mutt Memoir.

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