Our interview today is a little different. Welcome, Barbara. What has drawn you to writing for children?
Honestly, I really never had any plans to write for children. But, in April of 2005 I began a journey of soul searching. I wanted to live my truth and experience more joy and make a difference in the world. That lead me to hiring a life coach to figure out what I wanted to do with my life. In my coaching sessions my love for animals and writing kept coming to the surface. I decided to pursue writing about what I know and love best, which is animals, especially dogs. During one of my coaching sessions my coach suggested I think about writing a children’s book. At that time I could not picture doing that or even having a clue what I would write about. I stored the thought in the back of my mind and pursued writing a monthly column for our local paper called, “For the love of animals.” As I was writing for the paper I joined a women’s writing circle and also began attending seminars on writing. I attended a conference in March 2007 with the intention of writing an adult non-fiction book based on my journey in life being guided by my dogs. When I returned home from the conference, the next morning I awoke, sat straight up in bed and said out loud, “I am going to write a children’s book and it is going to be about Frankie.” My journey of looking inside for my truth and making a difference which began three years prior, and all that transpired in between, is what lead to what I believe is my purpose, which is telling the story of my dachshund who is paralyzed and how she lives a quality life even though in a wheelchair.
What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?
Quirkiest thing I have ever done? Hmmmm? I like to change my writing room around quite often. Maybe some would consider that quirky? I don’t usually do too many quirky things because I embarrass easily!
When did you first discover that you were a writer?
My friends and family would often tell me I write from the heart. I would write letters or poems to those I care about. One friend said I should write Hallmark greeting cards. I never took it too seriously. When I began my journey of soul searching and writing my column, I realized I enjoyed writing. My first story for my column was dedicated to my chocolate lab, Cassie Jo, who had died 2 weeks before my first story was published. I wrote about determining quality of life for your animal when diagnosed with a terminal illness, as I was going through that at the time. Seeing my story in print was a strange feeling at first, because I thought, “Oh no, now everyone knows my feelings.” But, then I received positive feedback and actually helped others and that it made me feel really good. My writing was helping others with their animals and that brought me much joy, while at the same time, helped me with the loss of my chocolate lab. Also being a part of a writing group gave me the courage to believe in my writing and most importantly, my voice.
Tell us the range of the kinds of books you enjoy reading.
I really enjoy motivational, inspirational and spiritual books. Authors like Wayne Dyer and Sarah Ban Breathnach. Books about writing and the writing process also intrigue me. I am a big fan of Natalie Goldberg. I also love dog books and my favorite author is Jon Katz. I also enjoy Gladys Taber. She lived in the 1950’s and wrote about all the simple pleasures of life. When I feel out of balance or want to get back to what is important to me, I read Gladys Taber’s work and I always feel peaceful, connected and centered. I also enjoy reading children’s books, especially if they are about animals or dogs.
What other books have you written, whether published or not?
This is the first book I have written.
How do you keep your sanity in our run, run, run world?
That is a really good question. For me, it has been a learning process over the years. Recognizing and acknowledging when I am out of balance is key for me. Sometimes it takes me a few days to realize I am run, run, running, but when I do, I can relatively soon bring myself back to center. Walking my dogs and just observing nature around me usually always brings me back to center, or riding my bike through our quaint, small town. Sitting in silence is another great thing to remind me what this thing called life is all about. I also continue to open my awareness to spirituality and what it means for me. I love to live as simply as I can, but that is not always easy in a world I believe really is spinning a bit too fast. But, being aware of our feelings and knowing when we need to take a break and then taking that break is essential to living a balanced life.
What is the accomplishment that you are most proud of, besides family?
I am very proud that I had the courage to look deep inside myself and be honest with what was not right in my life and then finding the courage to take a new direction. It was one of the hardest things I have ever done, but I just knew if I took the time to think about my life and what I really wanted it would lead me to a more peaceful place. And it has.
If you were an animal, which one would you be, and why?
Without a doubt, a dog, and preferably a dog that has an owner like me. :-) I think dogs are so smart and really get what life is all about. I truly believe that is why we have dogs, because they teach us to not take things so seriously and to enjoy the here and now. We just have to be open to observing and learning from them.
What is your favorite food?
Pizza! Pizza! Pizza! I could eat it seven days a week.
Is it hard to break into the children’s market?
Well, I think it really depends on your goals and what you want from your book. From what I read and hear there are many, many new children’s books being put out into the world each day. I try not to worry about that. Everyday I try to do 1-3 things to market and promote my book.
What advice would you give to an author wanting to do that?
I believe you have to have passion about what you are doing. I never understood that before, but I do now, because I am passionate about my book and my story. When my book first came out there was a ton of positive buzz and my book launch was a huge success. But, if you want to keep it going in the long run, you must keep promoting and marketing every day. In order to do that and not get burned out, you have to truly believe in your story and your book. Your passion and belief in yourself is what will keep pushing you forward. Surround yourself with those who believe in you and they will cheer you on when you need it most.
What would you like to tell us about the featured book?
This is a true, inspirational story about my dachshund Frankie. On Easter Sunday 2006, my husband John and I were on vacation in Florida when Frankie’s life changed forever. We got a call that Frankie had ruptured a disk in her back and needed to be rushed into surgery. We felt helpless so many miles away and we felt like our hearts would break in two. I also was uneducated in disc disease and thought Frankie might die and I would not see her again before we could get back home.
Frankie made it through surgery and the next 3 months would determine if she would walk again. She did not gain use of her hind legs, so Frankie was custom fitted for a dog cart, similar to a wheelchair for people. Frankie taught me adversity in the truest form as she adapted to rolling on with life instead of walking. Frankie, the Walk ‘N Roll Dog is told in Frankie’s voice. It is Frankie’s life story of how she started out her life walking like a regular dog, but then becomes paralyzed. She gives you hope and inspiration that anything is possible. This book is for all ages and teaches us about overcoming challenges by having a positive attitude. It also teaches compassion for the physically challenged and not judging others because they may look different.
How can readers find you on the Internet?
You can visit me at http://www.joyfulpaws.com/
Thank you, Barbara, for spending this time with us.
Readers, you can order the book using this link:
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