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The Dog Days may have officially ended, but the “Dog Daze” loom – can you believe National Dog Week – seven days of pure canine celebration – will observe its 90th Observation the week of September 24th?

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Poster Stamps from Dog Weeks Past

Yes Virginia, there really is a Dog Week and if it had its own Santa, it would be Captain Wm. Lewis Judy, best known as Will Judy, the individual often cited as The Man who Brought America to the Dogs.

As his biographer, I would be remiss if I didn’t tell you that you could “read all about it” in a book I wrote titled Dog’s Best Friend: Will Judy, Founder of National Dog Week and Dog World Publisher (McFarland & Co. – 2014). If your school, or community library, doesn’t offer it, I hope that you’ll request that they acquire a copy, or two. With over 1,000 footnotes (I’m still recovering) it offers an overview of Judy’s publishing career told through his magazines, books and his never-ending promotion of his beloved National Dog Week launched in 1928.

To help keep the Week of the Dog a relevant part of American History, I launched a blog in 2010 (due to book writing my posts have been infrequent but I do hope to change that) and a Facebook Page to connect with dog-loving readers. Judy was also an art lover and promoted artists (as well as authors) whose work embraced that special dog-human bond. To that end, I created some art of my own that captures the enduring spirit of National Dog Week and all that it encompasses and Judy’s undying patriotism.

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Someone once referred to me as the “Wizard of Dog Week” and that made me laugh. I sometimes get messages addressed to “Dear Sir” – from those who think Will is still with us sitting behind an Internet Wall dispensing “wise” observations about the role of dogs in our lives. Even as early as the 1930s, Judy was aware that dog-centric topics could be wrought with contention and controversy, but he handled his detractors with dignity and humor. Like Judy, I’m both encouraged by news items and incidents that inspire the world in the Ways of Dog; alternately dismayed when I see how far we still have to go on the path of enlightenment. The latter was never lost on Captain Judy. But he never gave up the good fight – trained in the ministry in his youth, he retained a unique spirituality that permeated his writings and approach to the dog-human bond.

Dog Week is YOUR week. Throughout the month of September, leading up to its 90th appearance on the American calendar, I’ll use its Community Facebook Page to offer excerpts from Dog’s Best Friend (and some of my other books) as we honor Dog Week’s rich and poignant history – a week that still calls for collective thoughtfulness and action on behalf of our beloved canines.

Please join us by “Liking” the official National Dog Week Community Page, https://tinyurl.com/y8o4mxzv share your love of all things dog, and become an active part of the observance’s unique history. I hope my Writing Story and works inspire.  Thank you.

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Most of my days begin with the battle of creative expression; do I head for the mouse first and draft a chapter or two, or grab a brush and finish a painting? Physically it isn’t a difficult choice, as my loft space is divided in halves; one side dedicated to drawing and painting, the other where the writing takes place.

Some days I let my muse guide me, others, I ask my dog to choose the side he prefers at the moment. It’s only fair as my writing often celebrates the canine-human bond. 

I’ve worked as a fine artist since 1989, so a few years ago, when people heard that I’d taken up writing, they’d assumed I’d be an illustrator as well. To them I continue to explain that I’m a painter, mostly landscape, and illustration is a very different animal. Also, up until recently, authors didn’t typically illustrate their own work (in fact, the two rarely even communicated to keep each one’s unique vision intact), although currently there’s an increased call for author/illustrators.

Recently, however, wondering how I could combine words and image in my own creative projects, I received a fortuitous call from the Program Director of a local arts guild. She’d heard about my paintings that incorporate vintage postcards, and my books, and asked if I’d give a presentation for their annual membership dinner in November. They’d even pay and feed me and allow me to sell books. Who could refuse?  I said, “yes,” then hung up, grasping the challenge of my audience; talented well-known artists. 

Because it’s a story that originates in New Jersey, I’ve decided to focus on Around the World in 1909: Harriet Fisher and Her Locomobile, (American History Press – 2014) a fun and informative book about the first woman to drive around the world. It’s filled with inspiration, history, travel and even pets!

For this event, I’ve created Postcard Paintings featuring three destinations in Harriet’s history-making journey; Paris, Lake Como, Italy and Japan. Time doesn’t allow for Fisher’s tour of Egypt, India, Sri Lanka, China, and back through the American West, but hopefully they’ll appear in subsequent presentations.

For the past several years, I’ve addressed historical societies, elementary schools, women’s clubs, a university association and although each event has focused on a different book, many people want to hear about the story behind the book, or seek encouragement to write one of their own.

Although my interest in writing and painting was evident early on, my official Path to Creativity began at age 30 when I left a great job in the entertainment industry, traveled to Italy for a painting course, returning home a Full-Time artist. Fifteen years later, after taking a writing course, I began composing short stories and drafted my first book. I believe that the discipline and professionalism gained in the corporate world in my 20s has helped me to structure my writing and art life. It hasn’t been an easy or straight-forward path, but I always tell those who ask for advice to think of a goal as a journey filled with small steps and to keep learning and form alliances with those who share your vision. 

My journey goes on. Currently, I’m “barking up” new projects, and my story of Teddy (our foster-to-forever dog) will be featured in an Anthology published by the Baker Publishing Group in Fall 2018. It’s always good to have several projects in the works because the path to publication has many twists and turns. And of course, it never hurts to surround yourself with great family members, friends and to have a loyal dog (or any loving pet) curled up at your creative feet, no matter what side of the studio your creative muse, or dog, dictates.

So, if you invited me to present at your next event, what would you ask, or like to learn? Please leave a comment, or reach me at lbkauthor@gmail.com. 

Happy musing! Here are the images for my presentation (all are 8 X 10 – acrylic paint on mat board. All postcards are originals from 1909-1914).

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Paris – postmarked 1914

 

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Lake Como, Italy – postmarked 1909

 

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Japanese garden – 1910

 

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Enter a caption – Flip side with postal markings.

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“Ted, White and Blue – Patriotic Paws”

Five years ago today, we said farewell to our beloved Portuguese Water Dog, Hooper. Named for the Matt Hooper character of  the blockbuster movie Jaws, she really did drive the boat, our house, our lives.

On a cold night in the winter of 2010, “Hoop Girl” was sitting by my feet at the moment I happened upon something called National Dog Week, a quirky yet poignant Canine American Holiday established in 1928. I fell in love with its colorful history, and began writing a biography about its Founder, Captain Will Judy, chronicling its unique, roller coaster-like legacy. In doing so, a new career was launched, and five books later, I’ve never stopped writing.

Alone with Hooper during the last moments of her life, I had an odd request. I whispered in her ear, “When the time is right, please send Dad and I a special new dog friend, and if possible please send one that likes other dogs and is calm, cool and collected.”

It seemed like a strange way to say goodbye to a loyal and loving companion, but in true dog-like fashion, within five months, my heart-felt request was granted when we fostered a little black and white Havanese-mix named Teddy.

Teddy came to us like a bright light in a bleak post Hurricane Sandy landscape. He wasn’t intended to stay, but stay he did, and has brought us much happiness. “Steady Teddy” couldn’t be any more different than “Hyper Hooper”. And unlike Hooper, Teddy adores other dogs. Now, with us for nearly four years, Teddy sits by my feet and inspires me to keep on writing, in fact, a story I wrote, based on his arrival in our lives, will be part of an Anthology released by the Revell Publishing group in October 2018. When the editor titles the book, I will let you know!

And another interesting thing happened with the Tedster by my side. I revamped my art studio and did something I’d wanted to do for a very long time, paint my first pet portrait. The painting of Teddy featured above, draped by the American flag, brings my creative life full circle, and reminds me why I continue to write about dogs and history, or anything else that inspires me. It also captures the spirit of National Dog Week that was established to encourage a collective and thoughtful period when we are mindful of all the ways dogs enrich our lives.

 

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Hooper, Ready for Her Close-Up

There are many exciting things going on in the Creative Front, and we’re working hard and visualizing some good days ahead; creating during challenging circumstances when the sun is temporarily hidden by fleeting clouds; welcoming the positive influences and encouragement from a dog that’s been sent to help makes it all worthwhile. That’s the ultimate gift.

The 89th Observance of National Dog Week will be celebrated the week of September 25th this year!

 

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The Author and her dog, Teddy consult on a Winning Proposal

 

Preparing for my participation in the fast-approaching Cat Writers of America/BlogPaws Conference in Arizona this June, I reflect on the past six years and my own path to becoming an author.  Back then, I wondered if I’d ever get a book completed, published and promoted, let alone be invited to talk about it at a conference!

Today, I am happy to say that I have birthed five books, with several in various stages of production and review. Although my primary topic has focused on canines, and those who celebrate them, I am  open to any topic that fascinates me including sports, history, and travel.

While I have averaged a book a year, nothing has unfolded as planned, and in many ways, I feel I am just warming up and I didn’t even begin writing “siriusly” until 2010.

Whenever someone learns that I am an author, they quickly tell me that their friend, or a family member, has written a book (congrats), or, that they, them, themselves, have a great idea for a book. In truth, many of these ideas are very good and have potential, but the big question is, how will they get their idea on the path to publication?

If their book idea falls under the category of Non-Fiction (memoir, how-to, history) there is one phrase that separates the wannabe author from the true “story-teller” who is willing to go-the-distance and endure the rocky road to get it all down and done…the Full Book Proposal.

I am always glad to help those in their authoring journey within reason, however, if they aspire to write Non-Fiction, the first thing they will receive from me are examples and templates for creating a strong Full Proposal, which typically is comprised of several parts that requiring a GREAT deal of thought, planning, research and editing. That Proposal, is your book’s blue print, and will also require something called a Query, a few short paragraphs that accompanies the Proposal –  that will make an agent or editor want to dive in to your Proposal, and take your book out of the “Slush” pile.

This is part of what I will be speaking about at the BlogPaws Conference in Phoenix come June, in the company of so many other bloggers, reporters, authors, publishers and social media specialists. As someone who has worked with agents, and publishers, I will be asking my personal partners in the publishing world for advice that I can share with those attending the BlogPaws Conference to help them to create strong, saleable projects. I will also discuss Fiction projects that have their own special guidelines.

The CWA/BlogPaws event is open to anyone, at any level, who wishes to learn more about writing for the pet-industry, and beyond. Once you learn the basics of writing a great Proposal, Query and Cover Letter or a sensational Synopsis, the writing process will flow and if being a published author is your goal, you will be on the “write” path and enjoying the journey and all the emotions it is sure to invoke.

I look forward to learning so much this June. Bring your Proposals (and your ideas) Want to know more, or to make your reservation?: http://blogpaws.com/events/2016-conference/

Keep current on National Dog Week and “Paw-thor” News at: http://www.lisabegin-kruysmanauthor.com

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My “T-editor” takes a moment to reflect!

 

 

 

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”

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