Oline Cogdill
altHaving your name used as a character in a favorite author's novel is a thrill for any reader. A character's name also is often one of the most popular auction items at mystery fiction conferences.
Some people want to be a character, others bid on a name for a friend, relative or even a pet's name.
Don Bruns' latest novel, Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff (Oceanview Publishing) is set against the backdrop of a traveling carnival where the rides come off the tracks and people are killed.  His protagonists, stumbling and bumbling James Lessor and Skip Moore, are hired to investigate the situation.
While writing the novel, Bruns one day drove pass a farmer’s field, which had an assortment of donkeys, goats, pigs and animals. So Bruns thought he would add
a  petting zoo to the carnival. 
That gave Bruns' longtime publicist Maryglenn McComb an idea. Why not add Garcia, her 10 1/2-year-old, blind, 125-pound, Old English Sheepdog, to the petting zoo?
Actually, McComb said she didn't ask Bruns, she begged.
And what started as a simple idea made a plot change Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff  as Bruns learned that the old dog could learn new tricks.
altIn Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff , Garcia becomes more than a bit player. In fact, according Bruns and McComb, Garcia literally steals the show and becomes a major force in the story. 
Not only that, but McComb arranged for Garcia to photo-shopped into Bruns’ author photo. 
Garcia's shaggy dog story continues. Garcia has taken to Twitter to share news about his book and his views on life as Garcia. Well, I imagine that McComb probably helps him. Follow him on Twitter @AmazingGarcia.
Bruns, who has auctioned off character names to raise money for charities in the past, says this dogged tale shows how a novel can take a different route than the author expects. “Fiction writers need to remember that you never know where a story will lead—and you never know where the ideas will come from. Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff  is a result of an idea, driving by a farm, and an off-the-wall suggestion from my publicist,” said Bruns.
As a devoted and longtime dog owner, I totally understand McComb's desire to get her dog in the novel. Starting with my first dog, Lou, when I was a year and a half, I have never been without a dog. I think I do my work when either Dash or Gizmo are at my feet, as they are now. But I don't dare show my shih tzus Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff . They'll just want their own novel.