Tuesday, January 16, 2018

GUEST POST: "The Village Approach to Fellow Author Strokes" by Sunny Weber

I recently solicited endorsements for my new middle-grade book, The Dog at the Gate: How a Throwaway Dog Becomes Special. I chose other authors as well as various experts in related fields.

One middle grade author asked why I wanted an endorsement from her, as she saw herself as “a small fry.” One look at her website during my research showed a beautifully designed platform and proliferate writing. She had many books available with stunning covers and easy to navigate site pages. She did not appear to be a small fry. She asked if what I meant was simply an Amazon blurb.

I replied to her: “Endorsements are used for websites and sometimes covers of books. Amazon reviews are only for that audience. You might consider yourself “a small fry" but I don't. Your website is awesome, your books are beautifully designed, and your writing is as good as anyone's in your genre. I can see you are a tremendously creative and prolific writer.

“I reached out to you, as I did other authors who intrigued me. We can all help each other with our support of each other's writing and trade ideas on marketing and promotion. I network with many local authors and am attempting to widen my acquaintances. Other authors' endorsements, blurbs, or guest blogs tie us all together with our reading public. Plus we can pull each other up when one makes the "big time" or faces disappointment. We can find support from other authors who understand what's important and how difficult writing quality work is. Family and friend support is nice, but only another writer knows what struggles went into the production.

“You and I write for the same age group but our genres are different so we may be able to lend a more objective eye to each other. I just find that, "nothing ventured, nothing gained." For example--I reached out to several well-known personalities for my first book (an adult non-fiction) and most did write endorsements. So now I have intriguing new relationships with those I admire. For this book, my first middle-grade, I had no idea who to contact so I began reading and asking people who intrigued me again. Another example: on a crazy twist of fate, I contacted someone who knows Jane Goodall and I have forwarded my book to her. I may not hear anything but it never hurts to try.

“Every person I've communicated with has been cordial and I've learned a lot. And that's what it's all about for me--learning. I'm sure I'm considered a small fry too at this point. But I'm the only voice my characters have to be born under. Maybe someday my characters will remain in the mind of some small child who grows up to change the world in a positive way because of what my story taught her. Just like my idols, Margaret Marshall Saunders (Beautiful Joe), Beatrix Potter (the Peter Rabbit books), Anna Sewell (Black Beauty), Marguerite Henry (Misty of Chincoteague and others), and Albert Peyson-Terhune (The Lad, a Dog series).  Some were dead by the time I discovered their books but in this new century their characters live on in my mind and have influenced my work to teach and entertain modern children.

“Motivating children to read, experience, imagine, and use critical and creative thinking is all our goals, I think. So we authors have a lot in common, regardless of genre or commercial fame.

“I hope this answers your questions and concerns. Your books find their audiences and you continue to produce, so I would not consider you a small fry. Good luck with all your future creations!”

Writing is isolative and appeals to those of us with introverted aspects in our personalities. We can shine through our characters. We can do and say things through them that we might not have the courage to do or say ourselves. We can show vulnerabilities that we hide in real life. Like actors, we take on the personalities of the characters we create and sometimes lose ourselves in their voices. However, we must remember that our characters’ voices ARE OUR OWN. We create them. They do not create us. They may define us to the world through self-publishing or they may die quiet deaths in the sludge pile of some big publishing house. But their birth was through our own efforts and pain.

We owe it to our characters and the children who need motivation to read, to never underestimate ourselves as creators. We should reach out to each other for motivation, honest feedback, and lessons that can only be learned from someone who has “walked the walk.”

Let’s support one another in our efforts to reach out to children in their crucial formative years. We have a unique power to alter young lives, motivate future adults to great accomplishments, and to feed fragile immature egos through story-telling. We must hide our own fragile adult egos and feign courage so that children can naturally grow into citizens and parents of strength and leadership in our society.

Sunny Weber has over 25 years of experience in animal welfare advocacy. She has experience in rescue, fostering, medical care, service and therapy dog evaluation and training, shelter and sanctuary work and specializes in the rehabilitation of fearful animals. Weber has rehabilitated then re-homed hundreds of dogs, cats and horses.

A professional humane educator, Sunny consults with animal welfare professionals as well as adopters and has developed educational programs that address all ages regarding the need for compassion and care of domestic and wild animals. She writes extensively on animal issues in news, fiction, non-fiction, public relations, fundraising, and blogs.

Sunny lives with dogs, cats and parakeets. Their yard is a Certified Backyard Habitat for birds, squirrels, rabbits, pollinators, and any other creature with fur or feathers who wanders in.

"Defiantly I spread my legs, lowered my head, flattened my ears, bared my teeth, and for the first time in my life, I growled at a human!"

Puppy Max doesn't have the easiest start in life. After being taken from his mother, he faces hunger, living alone outside, a vicious dog next door, and even menacing raccoons. But just when this Australian Shepherd thinks it can't get any worse, he is abandoned at an animal shelter.

Max is rescued and fostered in a home complete with canine companions--Miles, a benevolent fellow Aussie, and cantankerous, bossy little Muffin. He also lives with three cats, two parakeets, and one incredible mistress. Can a dog like Max go from years without a bath to unconditional love and acceptance? Or will his new family abandon him again? Max is never sure--until the ultimate challenge shakes his world.

Fans of classics like Black Beauty, Thomasina, and Beautiful Joe, which feature redemptive bonds between animals and people, will find The Dog at the Gate: How a Throwaway Dog Becomes Special offers a touching tale of love and triumph.

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