In October 2015, my friend Tammy asked me to foster a dog named Blue who was under-socialized and needed some extra TLC. Since my busy home and lifestyle are well-suited for dog socialization, I was glad to help him out.
It was a dark and stormy night (literally) when I picked Blue up from his first foster mom. Unfortunately, I did not heed the ominous portent of things to come, and when I took Blue out for a walk the next morning he pulled the leash out of my hand and ran away. Terrified and disoriented, he spent eight days on the lam until, with the help of Buddha Dog Rescue & Recovery, we brought him safely home.
In an effort to raise awareness about Blue, we started a Facebook page which quickly had hundreds of followers. Our local news picked up the story and people used social media to spread the word. Everywhere I went in town, people would stop me and ask, "Aren't you the Blue lady?" Neighbors helped hang posters, bus drivers and soccer moms called in sightings, and ultimately a kind farmer and his wife allowed us to trap Blue on their property. We never would have brought Blue home if it weren't for the amazing support of the residents of Long Valley, New Jersey.
People couldn't wait to hear the story of Blue's rescue, and more than one commented that it would make a great children's book. I couldn't help but agree, so I spent a year working on the story that ultimately became Blue, Lost and Found. While the book is not a work of non-fiction, the story is based on Blue's true adventures.
When it was time to find an illustrator, I visited a number of different websites where freelance artists post their portfolios. On each site the same artist caught my eye so I contacted her to see if she was interested in this project. As it turns out, Morgan Spicer could not be more perfect for the job. Not only is she an incredibly talented artist and easy person to work with, but she is a generous and committed supporter of rescues and animal welfare causes. She made Blue even better than I dreamed he could be!
We explored a number of options for printing the book, including print-on-demand and full-service self publishing companies. Taking quality, cost, distribution, and our desire to maintain creative control over this project into account, we decided to use Hillcrest Media as our publisher. We will produce 1,500 copies of the book and Hillcrest will handle most of the order fulfillment while giving us the ability to keep stock on hand for in-person events.
Blue, Lost and Found will be a 8.5 x 8.5 inch, 32 page full-color book, printed on 80# matte paper and smyth sewn, with a full color matte-laminated hardcover case wrap. The illustrations are complete, so all that is left is to raise the funds necessary to print the book so we can start putting it into the hands of readers young and old!
The best part of this project is that all profits from the sale of this book will be donated to a dog rescue organization in northern New Jersey who brings dogs like Blue up from high-kill shelters in the south and places them in loving homes.
It is my hope that Blue is just the beginning. I have met lots of quirky, fun, full-of-personality dogs over the years and I look forward to working with Morgan and creating a series of picture books telling their stories. Our next project will be about Bubba (pictured above), a Great Pyrenees who couldn't be left alone because of his separation anxiety and eventually became a local celebrity.
I can't wait to bring Blue to libraries and classrooms and share what I know about dogs and writing with elementary- and middle school-aged children. As an educator I love nothing more than spending time with young people, listening to their ideas, and helping to cultivate their compassion, curiosity and creativity!
Risks and challenges
The illustrations for the book are complete and we have selected Hillcrest Media as our publishing company. All that is left is to raise the money needed to print the book. However, unforeseen things can always happen along the way. If this Kickstarter is unsuccessful, our Plan B is to print the book as a softcover using a Print on Demand system. If something happens to me or my family there could be delays in fulfillment.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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