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...
Sunday, April 3, 2011
How this works--the 'process'
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.