I AM LOOKING FOR SUBMISSIONS FOR POTENTIAL PUBLICATION. If you know of a remarkable dog who has amazed you with his story, consider sharing it with the world! You are welcome to submit a short outline to be filled in once approved, or a detailed and complete narrative. I cannot accept 'heresay'; all stories must be verifiably sourced. I am especially interested in tales that move and inspire people without heartbreak. No death scenes, please! (My 'pet' peeve is a dog story with a sad ending.)
Please e-mail your submission to firstname.lastname@example.org .
If your story is well-suited for this publication, I will contact you. Please make sure to provide at least TWO ways to reach you. If you have any questions or concerns regarding this project I would be happy to address them at the above link. Thank you for visiting my site and I look forward to hearing from anyone with a tale to tell! For more info and latest developments scroll down...
Thursday, July 14, 2011
Friday, May 20, 2011
Oh, and thanks for sharing your thoughts on the title. It looks like many of you feel the title is derogatory, which is obviously a concern for me. While I feel the term 'broken' does not necessarily mean it needs to be fixed, I want to make sure that I inspire as opposed to offend! So I will revisit this and I will of course welcome your suggestions for a better title.
Thursday, April 14, 2011
Heard that before? I know, me too!
So. Here is what I'm getting from most of the submissions: I LOVE my dog. He is always there for me and I am constantly amazed by his courage and stamina against all odds. When he woke up (blind, crippled, deaf) he never seemed to miss a beat. He is a true inspiration to me... I love, love, love that you have such an awesome relationship with your dog and this will be included in your story. It is very important, don't get me wrong.
The problem is, I can't write a story with it.
A story has a beginning, a middle and an end. It has an event or two that evokes a transformation. Someone needs to change...either you or the dog or both. Think about a great book or movie that has affected you. Was there a time in your life with this animal that you can see unfolding like a movie? If so, what would that movie be? These are short stories, so think less "Marley and Me" and more "James Herriot". And if you have not read Herriot, shame on you! <grin> The reason this is not easy is because we have all had cumulative experiences with our dogs that make us feel the way we do. How do you pick one or two events that bring it all together? Sometimes you can't. But in my experience, you usually can.
I know exactly what happened that solidified my relationship with my mastiff. There were two events: the day she 'accepted me' as mistress, and the day I decided to fight for her against the advice of three trainers and most of my family and friends. I changed that day. I became a different person when I grew some (*ahem)'s and stood up for what I felt was right. I have not had Cake long enough to have had an epiphany with him...but I'm sure that day will come.
This is what I'm looking for. I can't tell your story without action.
It doesn't need to be dramatic! It can be funny! It can even be weird! But it must be compelling.
My sister came over and we had a cup of coffee. I was in tears because the vet told me Toby would never walk again. She tried to comfort me and gently suggested that we should consider putting him down. I nodded. I was numb. Just then, Toby raised his eyes from where he was lying in his bed and looked at me...I saw trust. I saw devotion. And something clicked inside me.
Yes, this is a little sappy but the point is, it was a moment that changed the writer. Just a moment, but a powerful moment and it would be very easy to build around this to make a compelling short story.
Another example is from a woman who adopted a deaf/blind dog with a ton of character. She wrote and told me about how this dog was flown to his new home in a private jet--and in the air, the dog chewed through his harness and managed to bust into the cockpit. They had to make an unscheduled stop so they could run to PetSmart and get him a new harness. That's great stuff!
Okay, that's a pretty extreme example but it points out that the stories don't need to be dramatic to be entertaining.
Finally--No fear! Send it in! I am not worried about getting material that is 'not suitable'. It's ALL good--it's just a matter of finding the right stuff to make the focus of your story...anything else is icing and I can still use it.
As always, I am happy to answer questions if you want to run anything by me. Please don't give up--I really need your help to show the world that these dogs have value. We can save lives if people see that their dog does not need to be euthanized just because he is broken. In the words of Tom Smith, the trainer from "Seabiscuit":
You know, you don't need to throw a whole life away just 'cause he's banged up a little.
Sunday, April 3, 2011
That said, I don't want to scare anyone away! Each case is different. Some stories need a lot work, others are practically ready to print. Let's start with the process and you can see what I mean:
With your first letter I can usually pinpoint an 'angle' that will make this story sing. By this I mean, what is the topic? Is it how has this dog changed someone's life? Did he inspire a disabled human? Did he cause you to change your life direction? Did he change the way you feel about yourself? Once we agree on our focus, we move on to step two.
Now that we have narrowed down our topic, things can get a little harder on your end.
This is because I need your input to flesh out the story. I used this analogy for a couple of people today: think of baking a cake. I need the ingredients before I can assemble the finished product! In this step, I will ask you specific questions about how your dog did what he did, based on the information you have already provided. Once we agree on the substance of the story, we move on to the next step.
Bringing your dog to life is critical. We do this in order for the reader to become emotionally invested in what happens in the story. For instance, notice the difference in these two examples:
A: Cocoa was not a quitter. Even though he was paralyzed in his hind legs, he showed me what determination is and really inspired me to never give up. He has taught me to go for whatever I want in life.
B: I was distracted. The smell of bacon wafted through the kitchen as I scanned the headlines of the paper...then thought better of it and pushed the paper aside. I have enough problems without worrying about troubles in the Middle East. I ran through a mental check list--stop at vet for meds, pick up groceries. I need to get gas... My thoughts were interrupted as something caught my peripheral vision. I turned around and was stunned to see Coco propped against the stove, her long brown nose reaching towards the promise of bacon. She had dragged herself all the way into the kitchen by her front legs to investigate the source of this tantalizing aroma.
"I'll be damned..." I whispered as she strained with all of her might towards the pan. Seeing me, she stopped reaching and her expression changed. Eyes softening, she licked her lips and cocked her head as if to say, "Oh! Hey. Would you mind...?"
Okay, so this is off the top of my head and is simply an example of a classic tool in writing compelling stories, that being: show me, don't tell me. While it is important to say exactly how your dog has changed your life, it is much more interesting to see how that happened. From this blurb, we can see many things--that the owner has a busy life, that the dog is determined, and that he is a little bit mischevious. It also shows us how the owner learned of his ability to propel himself when motivated.
You don't need to write it the way I have written the above example. But I do need the action that triggered the response from you. For instance, "I was amazed at his determination, like the time he dragged himself to the kitchen one morning when he smelled bacon."
This is how we can bring your dog's personality to the page. It's in the details of those little things he did that brought you to love him.
Finally, I will put the whole thing together and submit it back to you. You will always have the final say in what the piece looks like; remember, this is your story. I will want your input in many ways. You can tell me if it's too sappy, overdramatic, not accurate. Did I capture his personality? Did I capture yours? As you can see, this is teamwork!
Meanwhile, I've had some really great submissions and things are moving along even faster than I had hoped. I was not expecting to start the agent hunt for a while yet, but with this wonderful material, I'm thinking about beginning that process. That will be my next step. Of course, I will keep you posted so watch this space!
Off I go to walk my beasts before it starts pouring here on the Oregon Coast...
Oh--one more thing--some of you have asked about pictures. Yes, this book will include pictures but that will come later. I'll ask for those when we're ready.
Tuesday, March 29, 2011
I don't want anyone to spend a lot of time writing and submitting a piece only to learn that it is not going to 'fit' in this book. There seems to be some confusion here so I'd like to clarify what I need from you.
I am getting a lot of detailed narratives explaining what happened to "Fido" (for example) and his health concerns. This is fine and is helpful as a backstory but what I am really interested in are any specific ways Fido has impacted your life, the lives of your other dogs, or anyone else for that matter. My vision is to have each story feature an angle that will highlight the way these dogs empower us, inspire us or move us. For instance, think of a way in which Fido has powered up a personal emotional response. What did he do that made you feel frustrated, overjoyed, astounded, anguished or proud? Perhaps it was the way he helped your other disabled pet (...and then he went over to Rex and nudged him toward the doggie door. I couldn't believe my eyes...) or maybe he has changed the way you feel about yourself (....so I made the phonecall that would change my life. Without Rex I truly don't know if I would be here to today...) I am also looking for funny stories (Fido's heightened sense of smell took him straight to each one of those Easter eggs and the kids woke up to shreds of tin foil all over the house...) .
I also want to stress that you don't need to actually write the story if it is not your forte. True, I am thrilled to have received some powerfully moving and eloquent submissions. However, as a writer I can flesh out a great story by talking with you by phone or online. I am happy to get outlines or even a single line: "Would you be interested in hearing about the day Fido went to the hospital and met a guy who had just lost his leg?" Heck, YES! At this point I would fire back a response and we would take it from there. If you are not sure, send it in. One line is all it takes.
I hope this helps! Remember, the backstory is great so I can get a sense of the dog's history. But the meat of this book lies in the compelling stories which will bring these dogs to life. The topic must make the reader laugh or cry or rage or wonder. But the reader must feel in order for the story to succeed.
You kow when your dog has affected you...share it with the world!
Sunday, March 27, 2011
Friday, March 25, 2011
I intend to donate a portion of the proceeds to an animal welfare group, although I have not decided which one. At this point I am looking for dog stories only, although depending on how this goes I may branch out to other animals in the future.
If you know of anyone who would be a resource for me, let me know! I'll need as much help as I can to get the word out!
Once I have gathered some material I will obtain an agent and move forward from there. Please be patient and understand this can take a little while.
At this time I cannot promise reimbursement for your submissions. I may revisit this at a later time...
Finally, don't worry too much about editing your story. That's what I'm here for! Of course, I'll work with you so we are both in agreement about the finished piece. It is, after all, YOUR story.
Thanks and I'm excited to hear from you!