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second-chance-cover

These frigid winter days have many staying inside curled up with a good book and if you love to read great books filled with stories that embrace the dog-human bond, you might consider joining the Yahoo Group, DogRead.

DogRead is the original cyber book club where authors join readers online in an Interactive Workshop format featuring a new dog-related book each month. The group was established in 2000 by Treshell Jones. After Treshell’s passing, Dana Mackonis, one of her co-moderators, took over the management of the group. Now with nearly 6,500 members, DogRead has hosted over 300 authors who write dog-centric books in a multitude of genres. Each author is invited to discuss their current titles with group members for a two week period in a moderated conversation.

I’ve been honored to be a DogRead featured author twice for two of my titles, Dog’s Best Friend: Will Judy, Founder of National Dog Week and Dog World Publisher and Something’s Lost and Must be Found. Now I’m excited to share that for the first time, DogRead will feature an anthology. Second-Chance Dogs: True Stories of the Dogs We Rescue and the Dogs Who Rescue Us (Revell-Baker Group, September, 2018) will be the featured book for the week beginning February 15th. Joining the book conversation will be some of my fellow contributors to Second Chance Dogs who are also active members of the Dog Writers Association of American (DWAA).

In her essay, “Finding the Way Home”, Denise Fleck shares her girlhood story of Blondie, a sweet stray who came to stay at a time when a young girl really needed a canine friend. In her essay, “Gotcha Day” Jen Reeder, outgoing president of the DWAA (thanks for your service, Jen) tells of how she returned to the shelter where she’d rescued her beloved Rio. Rio became a beloved therapy dog and to express her gratitude to Rio’s shelter, Jen presented a special and meaningful gift that only a dog-writer can bestow.

Lonnie Hull Dupont, editing under the name of Callie Smith Grant, pays tribute to her sister who is truly “all bark and no bite” in her contribution “Strangers in the Snow”. Lonnie’s “My August Dog” tells of her life-changing trip to Greece where a homeless mother dog inspired her to make life-changing decisions with enduring results.

In her contribution “The Sound of Home”, Susan C. Willett talks about making an adoption choice that helped her family heal the loss of a beloved pup while helping a pair of adorable adoptable dogs. Susan’s “What’s Wrong with Your Dog” reminds us how dogs can teach us about acceptance and seeing beyond perceived “imperfections”.

Personally, I am thankful that “Surrender”, my story about our foster-to-furever dog, Teddy, was accepted as one of the many tributes to our beloved dogs featured in Second-Chance Dogs.

I think it’s so impressive that so much emotion can be evoked by these stories, most no longer than 3,000 words, and how each entry by these DWAA members, and so many other accomplished authors, encourage us to examine our own relationships with our dogs and fellow humans. As she has proven in the past, Callie (Lonnie) is a terrific editor and writer with a true heart for companion animals.

We hope you’ll become a DogRead member and join us for a discussion of Second-Chance Dogs in February! If you’d like to become a member of DogRead please visit: https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/DogRead/info and remember to like their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pg/DogRead-300094168780/about/?ref=page_internal

Second Chance Dogs may be purchased directly through The Baker Revell Publishing Group site: http://bakerpublishinggroup.com/books/second-chance-dogs/378700

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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.

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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