Saturday, February 23, 2019



Lilly Echosby and her toy poodle Aggie find a fresh start in Chattanooga, Tennessee, spoiled by the scent of murder . . . 

Having solved the shooting death of her cheating husband, Lilly’s left behind the drama of Lighthouse Dunes, Indiana, to start over in the hometown of her best friend, Scarlett “Dixie” Jefferson. As she gets settled in her new rented house, Lilly gives Aggie, short for Agatha Christie, her own fresh start by enrolling her in the Eastern Tennessee Dog Club, where Dixie is a trainer.

But drama seems to hound Lilly like a persistent stray. Her cranky new neighbor appears unfamiliar with Southern hospitality and complains that Aggie barks too much and digs up his prized tulips. But what the poodle actually unearths is the buried body of a mysterious man who claimed ownership of the lost golden retriever Lilly recently rescued. Now it’s up to Lilly and Dixie to try to muzzle another murderer . . .

Book Details:

Title: The Puppy Who Knew Too Much

Author: V.M. Burns

Genre: Cozy mystery

Series: A Dog Club Mystery, book 2

Publisher: Lyrical (February 12, 2019)

Print length: 242 pages

On tour with: Great Escapes Book Tours


Q: What’s the story behind the title of your book?
To be completely honest, I am terrible at coming up with book titles. My editor came up with this title based on the book summary I submitted.

Q: Tell us about your series. Is this book a standalone, or do readers need to read the series in order?
The Puppy Who Knew Too Much
is the second book in the Dog Club Mystery Series. I don’t feel that the books must be read in order to follow along.

Q: Where’s home for you?
Chattanooga, Tennessee.

Q: Where did you grow up?
South Bend, Indiana.

Q: What’s your favorite memory?

My favorite memory is taking a trip to North Carolina with my mom. We went to Asheville, Raleigh, and Wilmington.

Q: If you had an extra $100 a week to spend on yourself, what would you buy?
Books, books, and then a few more bookshelves.

Q: What’s the dumbest purchase you’ve ever made?
I have made a lot of dumb purchases, especially at shoe stores. A good many of my dumbest purchases stem from the fact that I hate to pass up a good sale. In fact, if the sale price for a shoe is low enough, my foot will actually shrink in size so that while I’m in the store, I can fit comfortably inside shoes that are at least 2 sizes too small. Unfortunately, my foot will expand back to its normal size once the purchase has been made. I have a lot of really cute shoes that I can’t fit, but I swear on my life they fit when I was in the store.

Q: What’s the most valuable thing you’ve learned?
Life is too short not to be happy.

Q: Who would you pick to write your biography?
Dr. Seuss. I think it would be an amazing read.

Q: What do you love about where you live?

The weather is fantastic (especially compared to the Midwest). When it snows, the city shuts down and waits until it melts. 

Q: What is the most daring thing you've done?

I quit a job where I was getting six-weeks of paid time off and sold my house to take a job where I made less money, had an hour commute and only got two weeks of vacation. It was one of the best decisions I ever made.

Q: What is the stupidest thing you've ever done?
When I lived in the Midwest, I decided to embrace the snow and went cross-country skiing. I still have the marks on my arm from the metal pins when I broke my arm.

Q: What’s one thing that you wish you knew as a teenager that you know now?
Don’t worry about what other people think of you. Take risks and don’t be afraid to make mistakes.

Q: What’s one thing you wish your younger writer self knew?
Follow your heart and do what makes you happy.

Q: What is your most embarrassing moment? 

When I first started competing in canine agility and obedience with my dog, Coco, she used to get, what I called “the zoomie.” She had a lot of energy and would run in circles as fast as she could. I have some very embarrassing memories of me, chasing Coco around both the obedience and agility rings. To combat this, my instructor suggested I take her outside prior to our competition and let her burn off some energy. So, before our next trial, I decided to give it a try. There was a large field near the venue, so I took her outside, removed her leash, and allowed her to run. Unfortunately, Coco’s favorite scent was deer poop, and she found a pile of it and rolled in it before I could get to her. She reeked. I took her into the bathroom and tried to clean her up, but I must not have done a very good job because when I sat down near my friends, their first words were, “What’s that smell?” We had to take Coco back to the bathroom and put her under the faucet (she was only 8 pounds, so thankfully she fit). When we finished, she looked like a drenched rat. We tried to dry her off with paper towels, but it didn’t help much, but it got the majority of the odor off. When it was our turn to compete, we still didn’t qualify, but I was thankful the judge hadn’t disqualified us for stinking up the ring.

Q: What choices in life would you like to have a redo on?
If I could go back and redo my undergrad, I wouldn’t have wasted two years as an engineering major. I would have studied English. I don’t think you need a degree in English to be a successful writer, but I do think it helps with edits.

Q: If someone gave you $5,000 and said you must solve a problem, what would you do with the money?

If I had $5,000 to solve a problem, I’d donate it to a no-kill animal shelter to help them continue the excellent work that they do.

Q: What makes you nervous?

Deadlines. I hate deadlines and prefer to finish things earlier rather than waiting until the last minute.

Q: What makes you happy?
Reading and writing books.

Q: What makes you scared?
Snakes, rodents and reptiles.

Q: What makes you excited?
I love when my favorite authors release new books or when I find a new cozy author with lots of books in their series.

Q: Do you have another job outside of writing?
Yes, I’m an operations manager for a call center.

Q: If you could only save one thing from your house, what would it be?
My house is full of things. Most things can be replaced. However, I have a few pictures which were made before everything became digitized. Pictures of my mom who is no longer here exist in no other form than a 4x6 piece of paper in a frame on my bookshelf and in my memory. As I age, my memory can’t be relied on, but those 4x6 pieces of paper help me stay connected.

Q: What brings you sheer delight?

Reading a good book. I love reading a book and going on a journey without leaving the comfort of my chair. Through books I can experience the world. I love that words can generate emotions which make me cry, laugh, smile and feel angry. Through words on paper arranged in the right way, it can touch the soul. I don’t know anything more powerful than words.

Q: What’s one of your favorite quotes?
“Whatever the mind can conceive and believe, it can achieve.” Napoleon Hill, Think and Grow Rich: A Black Choice.

Q: If you could live anywhere in the world, where in the world would it be?
I would love to live in England. There’s such a long history in England, and I would love to spend time and immerse myself in that culture and history.

Q: What’s your favorite line from a book? 

“It is a truth universally acknowledge that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.” Jane Austen, Pride & Prejudice

Q: Are any of your characters inspired by real people? 
Most of my characters are a combination of bits and pieces from a lot of different places. Rarely are there any characters based completely on real people, with one exception. In my RJ Franklin Mystery Series, the character of Mama B is based on my godmother, Mrs. Ella Bethany. She was a wonderful woman, and I have a lot of very wonderful memories of sitting on her front porch, drinking tea during the summer. I wanted to honor her memory by including her in my book.

Q: Is your book based on real events?
I wouldn’t say my books are based on real events, but I like to incorporate real events into my books. In The Puppy Who Knew Too Much, Lilly Echosby goes in search of her “happy place” and moves to Chattanooga, Tennessee. Similar to Lilly, I came to the conclusion that “life is short.” Life is too short not to be happy. That’s when I decided to follow my dreams. I sold my house. I took a new job, and I moved. All of those things led to my eventual move to Chattanooga, Tennessee, which has turned out to be my happy place.

Q: Are you like any of your characters?
I put myself in several of my characters. In my Mystery Bookshop Mystery series, the protagonist, Samantha Washington dreams of quitting her job opening a mystery bookstore and writing British historic cozy mysteries. That’s my dream too. In the Dog Club Mystery Series, Lilly Echosby decides to move away from the Midwest and go in search of her “happy place” in Eastern Tennessee, which is something that I did also.

Q: One of your characters has just found out you’re about to kill him off. He/she decides to beat you to the punch. How would he kill you?
I suspect a killer would topple a bookshelf on me. No one who knows me would find that unusual and he (or she) would likely get off scot free.

Q: Who are your favorite authors?

I love Victoria Thompson, Emily Brightwell, Susan Elia MacNeal, Agatha Christie, Rex Stout, Dorothy Gilman, and Patricia Wentworth.

Q: What book are you currently reading and in what format?
I prefer hardcover books but will take books in whatever format I can get them. I am currently reading, City of Secrets by Victoria Thompson.

Q: What would your dream office look like?

My dream office would be a wood-paneled library. There would be floor to ceiling bookshelves with a large window and a cozy fireplace. I love being surrounded by books and would love lots of places to sit down and read when I wasn’t writing.

Q: What are you working on now?
I am working on the third book in my RJ Franklin Mystery Series at the moment.


In the Dog House

The Plot is Murder
Read Herring Hunt

The Novel Art of Murder

Travellin’ Shoes


V.M. Burns was born in Northwestern Indiana and spent many years in Southwestern Michigan on the Lake Michigan shoreline. She is a lover of dogs, British historic cozies, and scones with clotted cream. After many years in the Midwest she went in search of milder winters and currently lives in Eastern Tennessee with her poodles. Her debut novel, The Plot is Murder was nominated for a 2017 Agatha Award for Best First Novel. Valerie is a member of Mystery Writers of America, International Thriller Writers, and a lifetime member of Sisters in Crime.

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