Tell us a bit about your latest book.
Crazy Bitch: Living with Canine Compulsive Disorder is the true story of my dog Venus’s struggle with mental illness and how her canine companion Zeus and our family coped. In other words, it’s a love story.
Which is harder and which is more fun, fiction or nonfiction?
“Crazy Bitch” is my first nonfiction book and my first dogoir. Learning how to write in a new genre is challenging. It’s not enough to write about the facts as they happened. The writer’s job is to make those facts into a story and make it interesting. At the same time I am writing about something very personal – my own life. This experience has given me the opportunity to expand as a writer in ways I never thought possible. In that respect I think nonfiction is harder to write than fiction because there is a certain type of confinement in facts. There are fewer boundaries with fiction.
What was it about the subject that inspired you to write?
Canine Compulsive Disorder (CCD) was identified as an illness in 2000, by Andrew Luescher, director of the Purdue University Animal Behavior Clinic. However most people are unaware the illness exists and there is very little information available about it. CCD is one of main reasons some dogs are returned to shelters because they have difficulty adjusting to new situations. But dogs with CCD can be treated with medication and live a happy, normal life. By sharing our experiences, I hope to help other dog lovers understand what can be a challenging and complicated condition.
Tell us about your pets, or other animals that inspire you.
Well I hope I don’t bore you to tears. I love talking about my pets. We have five gorgeous cats. Three of them – Yoda, Echo and Polly – are senior Himalayans which I raised from birth. They are the sweetest, healthiest cats I have ever shared my life with. Fiona and Nani Baby are beautiful shelter cats rescued from the streets of my town, Silt Colorado. I know nothing about their backgrounds so I often imagine stories about how they ended up living on the streets. The stories are based on their personalities. For example, Fiona does not like to play or be teased. She overreacts and bites. I imagine a man who teased her mercilessly and one day she defended herself and bit him hard enough to draw blood so he booted her out the door.
We also have two wonderful little clown dogs, Pepé and Lupe Lu. In two short years we went from sharing our lives with two giant dogs to Lupe Lu, the Chihuahua, and Pepé, the Chi-weinie (Chihuahua/mini-dachshund mix). How that happened and our reasons for the change are explained in “Crazy Bitch.”
Pepé and Lupe Lu are rescue dogs. As with the cats I glean so much about their previous lives from their personalities. Lupe Lu has a lot of anxiety and was nearly impossible to house train. It’s obvious in her first home she was ruled by a very impatient woman who yelled at her all the time.
Pepé is a different story. I know a little bit about his background and how he came to live on the streets as a puppy. He was one of litter of six three-month old puppies that were abandoned on the streets of Silt one cold March day. It took a year and a half to round up all the dogs and find them homes. But Pepé and his brother didn’t wait to be captured. After two months of eating garbage and bugs, and sleeping under abandoned buildings, they struck out on their own and found homes. On Memorial Day, Pepé was overcome by the smell of chicken cooking on the grill at my daughter’s house. He pranced up to her front door and barked to be let in. Now he lives with me. I plan to write his story one day.
What are you working on now and what are your future writing plans?
My current work-in-progress is titled “Confessions of an Amazon Vine Reviewer.” In my spare time I am a book reviewer. Since 2008, I have been an Amazon Vine Reviewer. Never before in the history of book publishing have so many new authors sought reviews for their books. I have plenty of advice for them, much of which arises from my ten years as a book reviewer. I could probably title it “Book Review Etiquette” but that sounds boring. And I definitely dish on Amazon -- a little bit.
I love blogging, which is actually why I started writing nonfiction. My blog Advicefrom a Caterpillar includes book reviews, markets, contests, and a few author interviews. My blog From the Styx features environmental news and topics related to life in rural western Colorado.
You can also find me on social media:
What advice do you have to offer to an aspiring author?
We are in the midst of a publishing renaissance. It’s not enough to write a good story anymore. You must edit and revise. The process of revision brings your story to life. Find a good editor. Read your manuscript aloud. Learn to listen to your own voice.