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Who Brought the Dog to Church? Interview and Giveaway

About the Book

Book: Who Brought the Dog to Church?

Author: Tracy L. Smoak

Genre: Christian Contemporary Fiction

Release Date: June, 2023

Betty is sure that Ida Lou does not belong in their church when the woman shows up to the Good Friday service with her small dog in tow. But before she knows what’s happening, Betty is pushed into helping the woman as she deals with the sudden hospitalization of her husband. Having lost her own husband just one year ago, Betty is chosen as the perfect person to help walk through this valley with the newcomer—along with the other women of the WUFHs (Women United For Him).

Sarah McAdams knows her husband loves her. He just loses his temper sometimes. It comes with the stress of being a highly recognized police officer. But when Sarah makes the decision that this is not the life she wants for her young son, will she be able to get out alive? Where can she go? And who will help her?

God works in mysterious ways—and through ordinary people. The town of Prosper is about to experience some drama—and it all starts with a dog who comes to church.


Click here to get your copy!


About the Author

A native Floridian, Tracy L. Smoak grew up riding horses and climbing citrus trees. Her passion is to encourage others in their faith journey. Smoak writes for Guideposts. Ambassador International released her debut novel, Who Brought the Dog to Church?. Bold Vision published her Bible study about encouragement titled Refuge of Grace: Finding Your Safe Place.

She loves photography and authored two hardcover devotionals with her original nature art (Living Water to Refresh Your Soul – tranquil lake scenes; and Arranged with Love– floral landscapes).

Smoak holds a master’s in Education and a bachelor’s in Communication. At her church home, she leads small-group Bible studies. She is an active member of Word Weavers International.


More from Tracy

What secrets are hidden behind your neighbor’s door? What do you try to hide?

The idea for this contemporary fiction began in a small country church during an Easter prayer vigil a decade ago. As I sat in the pew late at night, I heard a strange scratching noise. When I turned to locate the sound’s source, I saw a woman across the aisle with a little Yorkie.

The vigil was silent, so I didn’t approach the lady, but I did wonder why that pooch accompanied her in the sanctuary. That scenario, connected with others in my weekly involvement in several volunteer roles, sparked imagination. We judge appearances and may completely miss needs of the heart. Do we know our neighbors?

Experiences as an advocate for survivors of domestic violence started me wondering how do people get free from damaging situations? What are the obstacles holding them back?

Serving as a Stephens Ministry leader in my home church exposed me to people suffering loss. How are we to stand with those crushed with grief?

Another volunteer role helping immigrants settle in the U.S. reminded me of the difficulties they face. How can one fill out an online job application when a person relocates from a refugee camp with no electricity and never has had a computer?

The story’s heart is learning to really see, and know, our neighbors. Three women and their friendships reveal how doing good unites a community. Through comic misunderstandings and risky undertakings, the characters show us how to be Christ’s hands and feet.

Short videos to introduce the main characters can be viewed at

Audio book excerpts can be found at

Video resources for survivors of domestic violence are at

Interview with the Author

  1. What literary pilgrimages have you gone on?

Love this question from an English major! My literary pilgrimages are ongoing. Currently, I am reading science fiction, history, science, a thriller, and the last three prophets of the Old Testament. Each genre contributes new insights about what people need. My passion is to improve as a writer so that I can weave together unique manuscripts that break convention with tired norms. For example, this novel has no romance. I want individuals to focus on developing deep friendships instead of escaping into “happily never afters.”

True love is bringing God back central to each narrative. That is my priority. How can I make others aware of His goodness without being sappy? How can I point out Biblical truths without being preachy? These goals to make religion relatable and faith appealing are great challenges.

  1. How do you select the names of your characters?

The names have to sound right. For example, Betty is a straight forward name with no nonsense. So is the novel’s character who tries to keep everyone in order. Conversely, Letitia is a bit whimsical and theatrical. Hence this character dresses in crazy outfits and plays pranks on her friends. Charles is pretentious and enamored with himself. This character puts his well-being before anyone else’s.

Short reels to introduce the main characters in Who Brought the Dog to Church?

  1. What was your hardest scene to write?

There is an action scene with the antagonist bullying others. I had to imagine the stage of the room and plan out every single movement of each character. How did so-and-so hold his hand? Where did the woman set her purse? What could be seen out the window by one character, but not by the other. One time, an editor yelled at me for assuming readers could see what I imagined. I never want that correction to happen again, so have to be very careful to picture every little move and facial expression.

  1. What comes first, the plot or characters?

This story began with a real young woman I met at a training site to help survivors of domestic violence. I never got to speak with her personally, but another staff member told me how the young woman had fled for her life. That got me wondering how many other people did I pass by—on the street or in the grocery store—remaining oblivious to their struggles.

The reason for the novel, and the burning passion that sustained me the decade to finish it, was that I wanted a safe forum for conversations to encourage others who faced danger, grief, or loneliness. In the back of the novel, there are discussion questions for book clubs.

Every time I’ve shared the manuscript with critique groups, people opened up about hidden hurts that the book’s characters highlighted.  By emphasizing the emotional and mental dilemmas, instead of dramatizing graphic violence, the audience can analyze dynamics of unhealthy relationships without trauma.

Free one-minute audio book excerpts of the novel Who Brought the Dog to Church? available at

  1. If you could invite one person to dinner, who would it be and what would you cook?

I would invite Jesus to a fish fry by the ocean and ask him to please do the grilling as I am an awful cook. (We wouldn’t want anyone to go hungry!) We could have fresh-caught grouper brought in by local fishermen who would be able to hang out with us. Other folks could bring side dishes like potato salad, baked beans, and apple pie.

We all could lounge around listening to the surf and enjoying the aroma of charcoal carried across the picnic area. We’d slather lemon-butter sauce on the fillets and gobble down cornbread hush puppies. After everyone finished stuffing his or her face, we’d ask Jesus to tell us about how He knew the disciples would be effective sharing His message of hope across the centuries.

Blog Stops

Book Reviews From an Avid Reader, February 28

Lighthouse Academy Blog, February 29 (Guest Review from Marilyn Ridgway)

Gina Holder, Author and Blogger, March 1 (Author Interview)

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, March 1

Texas Book-aholic, March 2

Locks, Hooks and Books, March 3

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, March 4

Pause for Tales, March 5

Artistic Nobody, March 6 (Author Interview)

Lots of Helpers, March 6

Cover Lover Book Review, March 7

Fiction Book Lover, March 8 (Author Interview)

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, March 9

For Him and My Family, March 10

Books I’ve Read, March 11

Girls in White Dresses, March 12


To celebrate her tour, Tracy is giving away the grand prize package of a paperback copy each of Who Brought the Dog to Church? and Refuge of Grace: Finding Your Safe Place!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.