"Belle's Challenge:' A delightful book for children

"Belle's Challenge" (Artemesia Publishing), by Connie Gotsch, is the last book in Gotsch's series about Belle, an abused dog that finds a new life and is slowly overcoming her fears.

Unlike many authors, Gotsch doesn't turn the dogs into four-legged people. Instead, the dogs have their own sayings such as "rabid skunks" and "flea-bitten." Gotsch allows readers to enter the world of dogs by vividly describing smells. Each person has a different smell that adds to their personality. Gotsch describes the smell of confidence and the smell of fear.

In the final book of the Belle series, Belle and her family move to New Mexico. For a school project, Belle's owner, Darcy Simmons, enrolls Belle as a therapy dog to read with young children who have trouble reading.

"Belle's Challenge" provides a lot of lessons for kids, such as friendship and overcoming differences. One of the most valuable lessons Belle learns in the book is that she can't be the best at everything, but that's still okay.

"Art Effects': Suspenseful with an unusual hero

Mystery novel "Art Effects," (Casa de Snapdragon Publishing LLC) written by Connie Gotsch tells the story of Shelby McCoy, an investigative reporter for the Mesa Vista Times who is just getting back into the journalism world after a frightening shooting in Des Moines. Shelby is covering a story about disappearing art in Mesa City, NM.

Gotsch's strength in writing is her vivid description that make readers feel like they are there with Shelby. Four Corners residents will recognize different businesses and locations, although Gotsch changes the names. Her three-dimensional characters cause readers even a sense of pity as the villain is arrested and taken away to jail.

Throughout the book, Gotsch hints at who the villain might be, providing various scenarios. When the art thief is finally caught, there is no surprise who it is.

But the hero, the one who leads to the villain's discovery and single-handedly captures the robber, will come as a surprise to readers.

Despite its predictability, "Art Effects" remains a suspenseful mystery to read during the cold winter months.

Gotsch's books to be sold at Bloomfield Thursday's Market, Petco

Connie Gotsch, a long-time Farmington resident, completed the final edits on her last book the day she died, after a seven-month fight with cancer.

During her time in Farmington, Gotsch wrote six books as well as articles and plays.

Her last two books were published in October, three months after her death. These books can be purchased during Thursday's Market in Bloomfield today at the Bloomfield Multicultural Center, 331 S. 1st Street. In addition to Gotsch's books, artists, crafters and weavers will be selling their creations.

The books will also be available for purchase at Petco, 3530 E. Main in Farmington, on Saturday, Dec. 15. Gotsch would often hold book signings at Petco because all of her books feature a dog as a prominent character.

Gotsch requested that $1 from every copy of "Belle's Challenge" that is sold be donated to the new animal shelter in Farmington.

The entire Belle series as well as "Snap Me a Future," the prequel to "Art Effects," will also be available for purchase.

Gotsch was a photographer and used her own dark room to develop black and white photos. This technique seeped over into her writing in the books "Art Effects" and "Snap Me a Future."

Her love of dogs influenced her novels. She based Belle on her own dog, Kiri.

Proceeds from the book sales will go to the Connie Gotsch Arts Foundation. The foundation was set up to help San Juan County artists.

For more information about the December book sales, contact Margaret Cheasebro at 505-334-2869.