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Harriet_cover

Earlier this month, I had the honor of presenting to the Medford-area (NJ) Branch of the American Association of University Women. Last fall they had contacted me after Tricia Reace, Vice-President of the chapter’s literary group read coverage of my book Around the World in 1909: Harriet White Fisher and Her Locomobile that had appeared in the Times of Trenton. http://www.nj.com/mercer/index.ssf/2015/01/book_details_ewing_residents_1909_journey_around_t.html#incart_river

 

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Cid Richards (L) and author

The AAUW’s mission is to advance equity for women and girls through advocacy, education, philanthropy and research, breaking through educational and economic barriers so that all women have a fair chance.

When Cid Richards, Vice President of Programs, contacted me she explained that each year the group invites a woman author from New Jersey as their guest presenter at their annual Book & Author Champagne Brunch. The goal of this occasion is to raise money for their scholarship fund. As this book was authored by an author from New Jersey, about a New Jersey-based automotive pioneer, she thought the event’s attendees would appreciate this subject matter during Woman’s History Month.

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l to r – me, Mary Anne Brookes, Cid Richards

At this gathering that over-looked the beautiful grounds of Medford Leas, I addressed a roomful of women (and a few men) that were fascinated by the life and travel of Trenton’s Harriet White Fisher and her intrepid band of traveling companions. Together, this team covered four continents during the course of thirteen months in a vehicle called a Locomobile.

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Rich Kruysman and Tricia Teace

During the event, I received several questions about Harriet’s trip as well as inquiries about how I came to tell her story and about my writing process and impressions of the publishing industry. What a great opportunity to share, and hopefully inspire, others.

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June Ramondetta (l) and Diane Levy

At the conclusion of the address, I had the pleasure of signing copies of Around the World in 1909 as well as copies of Dog’s Best Friend and Something’s Lost and Must be Found. As an added bonus, I learned that a donation had been made in my name to the Alice Paul Institute. The Alice Paul Institute educates the public about the life and work of Alice Stokes Paul (1885-1977), author of the Equal Rights Amendment, and offers heritage and girls’ leadership development programs

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“The Men” Ish Chawla (l), Paul Ramondetta (m) and Rich

I thank all of those of the AAUW involved in making the day so special including Elsie Behmer, Co-President, Treasurer Mary Ann Brookes, VP of Membership and Publicity coordinator June Ramondetta, Co-Vice President Literature Group Tricia Reace, AAUW NJ State Board Member Mary Switzer and of course, Cid Richards, Tri-Vice President of Programs; my point of contact throughout the planning process.

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In turn, I will be contributing a percentage of book sales from this event to my “Be the Change” collection to benefit a local animal advocacy group.

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Signing copies of Around the World in 1909!

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Another terrific Women’s History Event-Speaking at the NJ State Library on 3/30 as part of their Author Lunch Hour series.

Happy National Women’s History Month, Happy Spring. Watch for exciting news about National Dog Week 2016 in a subsequent post. Visit and LIKE the NDW Page:https://www.facebook.com/National-Dog-Week-218596591491974/?fref=ts

 

 

The residence of Alice Huyler Ramsey, Hackensack, NJ

The residence of Alice Huyler Ramsey, Hackensack, NJ

Last week, a story about Around the World in 1909: Harriet White Fisher and Her Locomobile appeared on the cover of the Times of Trenton. To read the entire article:
http://www.nj.com/mercer/index.ssf/2015/01/book_details_ewing_residents_1909_journey_around_t.html#incart_river
Amazon Link: http://tinyurl.com/obfhemv

I started blogging in January 2010 and I don’t know where those five years have gone. But when I look back, each post reminds me of my long journey to launch a career as a writer. I realize now I really had no idea of what I was getting into. But that’s a good thing because I might have reconsidered my choices. But I prevailed, and with the help of so many, saw several projects launched and completed; five books in all.

2014 was very busy with three of my books finding their way to the market. One, the first of the Collar and a Dream series was self-published. Dog’s Best Friend: Will Judy Founder of National Dog Week and Dog World Publisher was released by McFarland & Co in September, followed by my most recent, Around the World in 1909: Harriet White Fisher and Her Locomobile published by American History Press.

You might say I am driven to write (pun intended). But with so many fascinating events and people to write about, I see words and chapters as a literal path to adventure and self-discovery. I often find myself wondering if I could choose just one day to spend with Harriet’s traveling party, which would it be?

On the occasion of a visit to my hometown of Hackensack, NJ, during the holidays, I took a ride downtown to visit the street where Hackensack Middle School is located. As fate and coincidence would have it, the home of Alice Huyler Ramsey stands just a few houses down the road from my old school. Alice, if you don’t already know, is celebrated for being the first woman to drive an automobile from New York City to San Francisco in 1909, accompanied by three female companions. My “discovery” of her story would later inspire me to write the book about her equally famous contemporary and fellow-New Jerseyean, Harriet White Fisher.

When I pulled up to “Alice’s” house last month, I got out to take a few photos with my IPhone and noticed the house was being restored. I became aware I was being watched by neighbors and I shouted to one woman that I was just doing some research. Before long, I was aware of a person coming to the front door. A man emerged, “Can I help you he asked?” with a look of mild suspicion on his face. He explained the neighbors had alerted him of my presence.

I answered with a question, “Do you know the significance of this house?” to which he replied that he indeed did. “This is the house that belonged to the first woman to drive across America,” he stated. I was overjoyed. I quickly explained why I was there taking photos, and showed him a copy of Around the World in 1909 in case he thought I was a lunatic. I expressed that I was so glad to know the house would remain standing and he assured me in turn that it was being lovingly restored and served as offices for his law practice.

I always enjoy my visits back home and I’ve come to learn that roots go deep. Little did I know as a gangly tween attending Hackensack Middle School that I was less than a block away from my future. So I say, forget about The Snookie and her shore buddies, dismiss the Housewives of New Jersey, and embrace some True-Jersey treasures and the way they opened doors (cars and otherwise) for those to come. I hope that when I return to Hackensack to speak at the Johnson Public Library, or a hometown bookstore, I might stop by again and this time, be invited in to that historic home of Alice’s.

Well, that’s my “True Jersey” story, and this is where I exit.

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For complete book and author information please visit: http://www.lisabegin-kruysmanauthor.com/

My friends who are authors know that unless you self-publish, you have to accept the fact that when published by others you will not retain the creative control over what your book may look like in its final incarnation. While this may sound discouraging, it can have its rewards and the wonderful process of what I call Universal Collaboration can blossom. Hear me out. Will Judy, founder of National Dog Week, often commissioned artists to create images to be used for NDW stamps and posters to promote the themes of annual Dog Weeks. You can see some displayed on my NDW Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/pages/National-Dog-Week/218596591491974?fref=photo Of course I desired to use these images in my book, Dog’s Best Friend (McFarland & Co.) and although I, and others, presented information that Judy never called for this artwork to be copyrighted, my publisher chose the safe route and we were not able to include them in the book, and that was bad news for this author. Among my proposed book covers, I had envisioned a red, white and blue poster stamp of a military man posing with a German shepherd dog, promoting NDW’s theme of “In War and Peace” in 1945. As artists were not generally credited for the work they created for Judy, it was daunting to identify or credit them. My angst set in, how would we find the right cover without being able to obtain publishing rights? I have to admit, I recited the prayer to St. Anthony (Saint of all things lost) often, hoping the answer to my challenge would be found. But let’s back up a bit. At some point, I had contacted an author named Sharon Damkaer. Sharon is a huge fan of Will Judy’s and wrote a book about the renowned artist, Albert Staehle. http://www.americanartarchives.com/staehle.htm. Sharon understood my dilemma, and, when my publisher contacted her about obtaining the rights of one of Staehle’s works to serve as the cover for my book, she offered to help. She had at one time faced her own similar publishing challenges. During this process, independent of all of this, an older gentleman named Anthony had called my home and spoke to my husband. He told Rich that he did not own a computer, but someone had told him of my writing project about Judy and National Dog Week. He wanted to know if I would like to have an original poster from National Dog Week 1950. I returned his call and said indeed I would and within days, it arrived in the mail. You guessed it; it was the very same image that had been selected by McFarland & Co. to appear on the book’s cover. I sent him a thank you note with a copy of my book Something’s Lost and Must be Found. He responded in turn to thank me and said that this volume was now on his library shelf next to his volumes of Will Judy books. That image just put all doubt to rest. All things come full circle. By the way, did you note that his name is Anthony? And so, while the cover of Dog’s Best Friend is different from the one I envisioned, it shows me that sometimes, if we just chill out and let things happen in their own course, the results can be beautiful. These days I find myself repeating the mantra… Remain Focused, have Faith, be Confident that you’ve done your best work, and move on. Which reminds me, please watch for news on my next book due out shortly! Around the World in 1909: Harriet White Fisher and Her Locomobile (American History Press) the true account of an intrepid New Jersey woman who took the ultimate road trip with a dog on her lap at a time it was most unlikely. Happy National Dog Week to you all, may its spirit be with you year-round! Next year, we are embracing the way dogs serve humans with a revisited NDW theme of, “At Your Service – All Ways”. It is so good to find so many dog-enthusiasts Finding the spirit of a great American tradition that seemed to have been Lost for awhile! Thank you. Amazon book link: http://tinyurl.com/qbon8ty Please note that on October 31st, Dog’s Best Friend will be available in e-reader format. http://www.lisabegin-kruysmanauthor.com/

Teddy dons his lucky March Madness Hat to Help the Huskies to Victory!

Teddy dons his lucky March Madness Hat to Help the Huskies to Victory!

AN UPDATE RE: PUP SHOP DISCLOSURE LEGISLATION

Some Good News from Janice Fisher Patterson!

I hope my NJ friends will help here! Please share if you do.
WE NEED YOUR HELP ASAP!
NJ SENATE BILL (S1870) has been introduced by Sen. James Holzapfel (District 10 – Ocean). It will require pet stores to provide very specific breeder information on each cage card for every animal offered for sale. It will provide a USDA website where buyers can research breeder inspection reports PRIOR TO BUYING A PUPPY.
PLEASE e-mail YOUR SENATOR and ask him/her to co-sponsor S1870.

Tell them that you want pet stores held to a higher standard. Tell them that you want more consumer protection. Tell them that you have a RIGHT TO KNOW where a puppy comes from PRIOR TO PURCHASE.

Please follow these instructions (they are not complicated):

To find your state Senator, click on the link below and find your town from the drop-down box. Once you choose your town, then click on the tab “Select Your Representative(s)” and it will list your one Senator and two Assembly representatives. Check only your “Senator” (as this is a senate bill) and then click on the tab “Select Your Representative(s)” again. An email- page will appear which you can complete and submit.

http://www.njleg.state.nj.us/SelectMun.asp
(cut and paste into browser if needed)

IMPORTANT: If you have time, follow up with a phone call to your senator’s office. Please let me know if you are able to get your senator to either support or co-sponsor the bill by e-mailing me.
Thank you so much,

Janice Fisher
Coordinator Puppy Mill Awareness Campaign
FAUN-NJ
http://www.faunnj.
THANKS JANICE!

Happy Spring to all. I realize it has been three months since my last post, but it was time to take a little break. Besides, there are like a million plus blogs out there to enlighten and entertain you, and many are written just for dog-lovers like you! Although I was not writing posts…I was writing.

For the past five years, I have been hard at work on two non-fiction projects and happy to say, both will be published this year. As you may have noticed, the name of the working title of the Dog Week book has changed over the years, but it is officially now titled, Dog’s Best Friend: Will Judy, Founder of National Dog Week and Dog World Publisher (McFarland & Co.). This book will be out during the Dog Days of Summer, just a few weeks before National Dog Week enjoys its 86th Observance. I can’t tell you how rewarding this experience has been. When I started this blog in 2010, a book was merely a concept.

The First Draft of my other book, Around the World in 1909: Harriet White Fisher and Her Locomobile (American History Press) will be complete by month’s end and will be available in the Fall of this year! Loved writing this, too. It is the real-life story of Trenton Industrialist, Harriet White Fisher, who took an automobile to places where no car, had ever ventured. It is the ultimate road trip taken by a dynamic woman and her entourage, and I feel so privileged to be the one to tell their story.

My Middle Grade book, When We Fostered Furley (the proposed first book of the Collar and a Dream Series) is just about ready to roll-over, hopefully sometime next month. It will be good to get back to some fiction writing. The follow-up to Something’s Lost and Must be Found is in the works, too,and will eventually make its crate escape.

Last week, a friend, Martin O’Sullivan of the Marty O’ Show! (YFN Radio), announced that he was going to be adding a pet segment to his show. What’s more, he said that I was one of the people who inspired this. That is the ultimate compliment, because as a blogger and an author in a crowded, busy on-line world, it is validating to know that one’s words are impacting others. We will tape a segment tomorrow morning and provide a link as soon as it becomes available. In the future, Marty hopes to be able to talk about issues surrounding our Companion Animals in the Garden State and across the nation. Tomorrow’s taping will discuss some pending legislation that will impact the way dogs are sold in retail shops, and will feature an update from Janice Patterson Fisher, who has been a such an informative and influential guest on this blog.

Our Foster-turned-Furever dog Teddy continues to be our pride and joy. It is amazing that even after a year, his true colors and confidence are still evolving as he enjoys the good life! I thank everyone who has followed our story, and that of the positive power of fostering.

And one more thing, can I just celebrate March Gladness one more time. As a UCONN Grad and Forever Husky, I congratulate Coaches Ollie and Auriemma on their “Double Dog” Victories! Somehow, I think Teddy’s wearing of his lucky hat had something to do with it.

After a winter that felt like a very bad dream, we look forward long walks, and long talks, on-air, on pages of magazine, and anywhere anyone will listen to our stories. Writing is the practice of putting one word in front of the other and hoping some day, all those words come together to inspire and entertain many. I look forward to getting back to posting, launching a new website…and hearing from you all.

http://www.mcfarlandpub.com/book-2.php?id=978-0-7864-7120-1 (will also be available as an e-book).
Please check us out on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/National-Dog-Week/218596591491974

The Dog Daze of Teddy

The Dog Daze of Teddy


These Dog Days of Summer have certainly created some hazy daze! Despite the heat, The Will Judy book project is complete and its fate rests in the hands of its publisher. Another project is now underway; a book that chronicles the journey of Harriet White Fisher, who, in 1909 launched a 13-month long journey with her entourage that brought them to the most unlikely places. Traveling with her was Honkie, an alleged “Boston bull dog” making him the first, and possibly only, dog to make a worldwide trek in an automobile. You can learn more about this exciting project to be published by American History Press at https://www.facebook.com/HarrietWhiteFisherandherLocomobile

Also, our dog Teddy is entered in the “Cutest Spokespet” Contest which will end on July 31st. You can vote once a day. You must LIKE the page and then scroll down to Teddy’s photo to vote. Thanks for all who have been able to do so and for those who have shared! Teddy is currently the leader of the “cute pack.” https://www.facebook.com/traciehotchner/app_303363723112198

A few weeks ago Nikki Moustaki, an animal advocate and author, founder of the Pet Postcard Project, wrote to me about The Better Way Project and how it was helping animal lovers and advocates to carry out important work and projects with much-needed funding. She asked if she could share it with my readers. Please welcome my guest blogger, Nikki!

Please tell us about the Better Way Project. The Better Way Project program was recently launched by Canyon Creek Ranch, but it will be exciting to see what typed of projects come in and how creative people will be in helping animals in their communities and beyond. The Better Way Project completed three trial projects last fall as “sample” projects to give consumers ideas and to show how involved Canyon Creek Ranch will be with the projects. See the videos from these projects here: http://canyoncreekranch.com/betterwayproject/see-the-results

The first project was at the Northeast Animal Shelter in Salem, MA, New England’s largest no-kill animal shelter that provides a wonderful safe haven for felines awaiting their forever homes. However, the shelter lacked stimulating play rooms that would allow the cats and kittens to show off their personalities to potential adopters. The Canyon Creek Ranch® Better Way Project learned of this need and helped by renovating three of the cat play rooms at the shelter. The Canyon Creek Ranch team provided on-the-ground help, including painting the custom built walkways and perches in the rooms, and retailer Pet Supplies Plus donated products for the new play space. The project was funded by a $50,000 in-kind donation from the Better Way Project.

The Canyon Creek Ranch Better Way Project donated $25,000 to Therapy Dogs of Johnson County (TDJC), a non-profit organization in Iowa City that helps people live healthier and happier lives through therapy visits with dogs. The donation will be used to help support and expand this meaningful local program which visits schools and nursing homes in the area. In addition to providing funding, the Canyon Creek Ranch team visited Iowa City to help TDJC hold its first public event to recruit more dog/handler teams.

The Greenwood Urban Wetland Park in Orlando, FL, is a popular destination for local residents. However, the city park lacked dog-friendly features for four-legged visitors and their owners. The Canyon Creek Ranch Better Way Project made a $50,000 in-kind donation to the City of Orlando that was used to add three new dog-friendly activity areas in the park: a play station with agility equipment; a rest station with comfortable seating; and a wash station with fountains for drinking and hosing dogs off after playing in the park. Canyon Creek Ranch managed the renovation with a local contractor and sent a team to Orlando to help bring the project to life.

What impact have these projects generated? The three seed projects had amazing affects in their communities. Orlando now has a great dog park, the Northeast Animal shelter has seen an uptick in cat adoptions, and the Therapy Dogs of Johnson County is using the funds to expand their program. These three projects showed the Better Way Project that the idea of being hands-on involved with projects, rather than just offering a straight donation, made a big difference.

Thank you, Nikki! I just love to see thought turned into action. So…when your kids are whining the Summer Blues, maybe you can sit down with them and think of a great project of your own and see it through! This would make a nice school and Scout project, too. I hope you will let us know if you present a project to the Canyon Creek folks. I have one of my own clanging about in my mind and will share that in time.

I truly want to thank so many who have helped me on my journey in the writing of the first biography of William Lewis Judy. In establishing this blog, and maintaining it over the past three and a half years, I often wondered if it had any impact. Believe me, when I get a response from someone who has read and now thinks differently about an important issue, I feel gratified that I have done some good in the world. I am grateful to all the positive people who make a difference for humans and their animals, like my guest, Nikki Moustaki! Check out her Pet Postcard Project at https://www.facebook.com/petpostcardproject

Becky Urban and I at the Opening Reception of the Harriet White Fisher exhibit

Becky Urban and I at the Opening Reception of the Harriet White Fisher exhibit

Last night, on the way to the Trenton City Museum, my husband and I sort of got lost. In doing so, we got a grand tour of Trenton and met some nice residents, gas station attendants and two helpful police officers. During our winding tour, I appreciated the historic homes and a Capital city that was looking pretty good on a beautiful June evening.

What struck me about this little detour was the fact that we were traveling to an exhibit of a notable Trentonian, a woman named Harriet White Fisher, who in 1909 hopped in a Locombobile with her butler, maid, driver and dog named Honkie. She drove to New York City where the car was packed and shipped to Paris and from there the real thirteen-month long adventure began.

So, here we were lost in an urban center with a million signs and arrows and a GPS device that was not cooperating and we almost did not arrive at our destination. Can you imagine driving through unchartered roads of India and Japan over one-hundred years ago with no maps, gas stations, convenience stores? Harriet was most likely rolling her eyes from heaven above.

I felt pretty humbled by this experience. Humbled, too, because through the twists and turns of fate, my interest in this fantastic story led me to a friendship with Becky Urban, the granddaughter of Harold Brooks, the young man who did most of the international driving and through his talent for photography, captured some beautiful images of this revolutionary road trip. Becky, and her family, have opened up their lives to me and have shared so much. Becky is a former educator and created a display that honors her family and the journey. As an added bonus, Triple A (AAA) is the sponsor for this event that runs through late September (Hey, that’s when National Dog Week is observed) Love it!

And isn’t it convenient that there are some terrific Companion Animals included in this story? Honk Honk, who is described as a Boston Terrier (looks part pittie to moi) was her mascot, Billikens, a funny little monkey acquired in Ceylon (Sri Lanka) and a little Japanese Chin (Spaniel) the royal dog of Japan, all made a safe journey back to the States!

Next week, I will be sending my Will Judy biography off to its publisher. Its writing has been such a life-changing experience for me. The trouble with documenting persons relatively unknown is the crushing responsibility it brings for being the first to document someone’s life and legacy. So, I will just tell myself that I have done my best and move on. This summer I will work diligently on Harriet’s story and plan to deliver to my publisher, David Kane at American History Press, by February of 2014.

In the coming months, I will let you all know how we are progressing on the Will Judy/National Dog Week publication date and look for the launching of a Social Media platform that will begin on July 17 of this year, the date that Harriet and Company drove over the cobblestones of Trenton and away to explore the world off beaten paths. It will be sort of like a “virtual” worldwide journey with some fun guests joining in along the way.

When I tell people I am an author, they usually tell me that they, or someone they know, is planning to (or has) written a book and asks for advice. I tell them to subscribe to magazines like Writer’s Digest (that’s how I began writing short stories), join writing groups, take courses to work on your craft, attend workshops and seiminars. It is not easy. I can’t even begin to tell you how many rejections I have received. But even in those instances, I have had the privilege to get feedback from some very talented people in the industry. On my “expansion list” are courses in screen writing and documentary production!

Most importantly, enjoy the process and the journey of your writing experiences. When traveling off the neatened path, you will create roads on your own; but buckle up, sometimes the ride gets bumpy. A special heartfelt dose of gratitude to all who have come to help me on my own journey.

Hooper

"Is it dog week yet?"

"Is it dog week yet?"

Michelle Mongelli and Wheezey

Pike, at Geiger Key

Hooper in the Keys

Hooper in the Keys

“Two Culprits” by Steven Hall

Logan & Koda

DJ

DJ Goes to Westminster

Zac and Cooper

"Look daddy, I can fly!"

“Hooper” – Best in Snow

Pita in Matt’s Garden

Hooper with cousin Roxy, Summer 2009

Me and my “Hoop”