Saturday, February 26, 2011

Homer - Best Dog Ever

This is our dog Homer. I talk about donkeys, and horses, and cats on this blog, so I thought I'd show you a picture of Homer. As you can see, he likes snow.

In fact, he likes to do anything we like to do. If you say the word walk, you have to spell it W-A-L-K or else you'll have one hundred pounds of wagging monster dog knocking you over in excitement.

I got Homer from the animal shelter about six years ago. I saw his picture on their website at 3:30 PM on a Saturday. They closed at 4:00 PM. I jumped in my car and got there in 15 minutes, fell in love in 10 minutes, did paper work for another 5, and at 4:00 PM drove him home.

Rescuing a dog from an animal shelter is like taking a stranger into your home and hoping you get along. In Homer's case, I knew little about his history. He was a young full grown dog (lab mixed with golden retriever?) that had been found running loose for some time with another dog. The day after I brought him home, we cleared brush all day and hauled it into burn piles. Homer walked back and forth with us, back and forth, staying close to our side. By the end of the day we knew he wasn't going to leave. He was quite happy to find a home and people to love him.

Homer is not only loyal, he adores children and cats. Well, I should say that cats love Homer. They all rub against him (even the neighbor's cat) and our barn cat Lucy even sleeps with him at night.

Homer is starting to look a little older in this picture I snapped two days ago. He is probably around seven years old this year, and I'm reminded to spend time with my faithful friend while I still can.
And I'm reminding you, as a dog lover, that you can still enter the contest (until Feb 28, 2011) to win Bobbie Pyron's brand new dog book called A DOG'S WAY HOME. This is hands-down one of the best dog books I have ever read, and you will Love It!

How do you enter? Just go to my interview with author Bobbie Pyron below, or click here to get there, scroll to bottom and leave a comment about your favorite kind of dog, and you are entered to win. Simple. But hurry!

Oh, and my favorite breed of dog? Anything with a good personality, but I have to say that I Really. Love. Labs.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Sharing a Link

Today I'm going to talk about the difference between a link to a blog and a permanent link to an exact post on a blog. For some of you this will be old hat (ooh, I love that expression, don't you? I'll have to google it and find where it came from.) But, I digress. If you're reading along and all this is old hat to you, don't continue.

But if you are like me - just a self-taught blogger/internet fool who picks things up as you go along, you might learn something.

Say you find an interesting post on the internet that you'd like to either
a) share with your friends on facebook/twitter/wherever or
b) save for yourself to read later by bookmarking it or saving under favorites on your computer.
For instance, the post previous to this one, which is an interview with Bobbie Pyron and a giveaway of her fabulous book A DOG'S WAY HOME.

If you just share the address for this blog: then when someone clicks on it, they get my most recent post, which at the moment is this one. Then they'll have to search around to find the interview with Bobbie.

So the best thing to do (to share a link) is to click on the title at the top of the post (in the case of the interview it is Meet Bobbie Pyron) and the actual address of the link comes up which is: )

Notice the difference in the two links? Go ahead, click on them both, and see what you come up with.

Now what if you've clicked through to a cool link to a blog, you like what you see and want to come back and read this blog some more? Well, my previous method, before I became a little more savvy about this (and trust me, I only know a smidgen about all this internet nonsense) was to save the link to the exact post, under favorites or bookmarks, on my computer. But what if I wanted to go to (for instance) Linda Benson's blog again, how would I get to her more recent posts? Well, two ways.

1) If you are getting the hang of the way labels for posts work, you can go to the URL (which is the address up top) and backspace/delete all the stuff on the right until it just reads (or whatever blog you're trying to read.)Then hit ENTER, and it should take you to the home page for the blog, with all their recent posts. Save that under favorites. If this sounds too confusing, try this.

2) Most blogs have a sidebar, which lists their posts by month. If you click on the current month, you will get all the most recent posts. Some blogs even have tabs on them, and if you look you might find one that says Home. That's what you want. Then if you save that link, you'll always get the most recent posts.

Of course, when you get good at this, you can subscribe to a blog, which means you can get all the recent posts in your email, or you can set up a Google reader to read all your favorite blogs. And then there's shortening a link, to make it fit on Twitter. But that's moving ahead.

So for now, remember this: To share a post or a link, click on the title of that post to get the exact address for the link.

To find the actual address for the blog itself, look for the simplified name (usually ending in .com) without all that other stuff on the right hand side of the URL.

Anyone else have comments or knowledge to share about Sharing Links or Saving Blogs? What has worked for you?

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Meet Bobbie Pyron

Bobbie Pyron is the author of the teen novel, THE RING (Oct. 2009, WestSide Books) and her new book A DOG’S WAY HOME (Katherine Tegen Books, March 1, 2011). She has also worked as a librarian for over 25 years. She lives high in the mountains of Utah with her husband, three dogs, and two cats.

Tell us a little about yourself, Bobbie. How did you get your start as a writer? What made you decide to write for children?

I loved two things passionately as a child: dogs and books. So it only seemed natural that I’d want to be a writer when I grew up—probably more “natural” than wanting to be a frog or a mermaid! But I didn’t start writing seriously until about six years ago. I started out writing picture books and wrote some perfectly good ones! But then one day, this snarky teenage-girl voice started talking to me about all the trouble she was getting in to and how miserable she felt. The only way I could get her to shut up was to start writing about her. That eventually turned into my first book, THE RING.

Your first book is called THE RING, and it’s about boxing and a teenage girl who gets involved in that sport. Tell us how you came to write about that subject?

At about the time the snarky teenaged-girl voice started talking to me, my stepdaughter was going through a rather challenging time. One day, she read an article in our local newspaper about a boxing gym that offered classes just for girls. She wanted to sign up right away! Her dad and I took turns taking her to her classes. Like any good writer, I eavesdropped on the girls’ conversations. I was really struck by the camaraderie between them and how safe they felt in the ring. I was really curious to explore this world of what seems like such an aggressive sport and how it helped these girls cope better with their day-to-day lives. I was also rather dismayed by the popularity of books for that age group that were so focused on a girl’s self-worth and self-image depending on a guy (dead or not so dead). I wanted to write a book that showed the strength of girl friendships. Girl power!

Bobbie – you have a brand new book due out in March called A DOG’S WAY HOME. I’ve been hearing wonderful things about this book – and as a sucker for animal stories, I’m so anxious to read it. Can you tell us what your inspiration was for this book?

I read all the of classic animals stories growing up, particularly dog stories like LASSIE COME-HOME and THE INCREDIBLE JOURNEY. I must have read those books a million times! So I like to say my book is my own personal love letter to those two great classic books and to the relationship between dogs and their people. I don’t think there’s anything like it! I was also inspired by my relationship with my Shetland Sheepdog, Teddy. Shelties are a very special breed—loyal and devoted don’t even begin to describe how they bond with their person. So when I wrote a story about an eleven year old girl and her relationship with her dog, that dog had to be a sheltie.

How big of a role do animals play in your life? Will you write more about animals?

Oh, my animals are my best friends! I’ve often said I don’t know if I should ever quit my day job (as a librarian) because then I would truly become The Crazy Dog Lady! I am with my “pack” every day. I love nothing better than to be out in the woods or on the trails with them hiking or skiing or show shoeing. I love watching them interact with each other and with the world. I think any book I write, even if it’s not specifically about dogs or other animals will have animals in it. For instance, in THE RING, the family has two dogs (one is a sheltie) and although they have minor roles in the book, they have very distinct personalities and provide unconditional love to the main character, Mardie, when everyone else things she’s hopeless—including herself. I think that is the rare gift of dogs.

How long does it take you to write a novel, Bobbie? Do you work from an outline, or fly by the seat of your pants and let your characters take you away?

It can take me anywhere from six to ten months to write a first draft, depending on how much editing I do as I go along and how much research I need to do. It seems like my process is evolving all the time. I am not an outliner. I definitely am more of the fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants type writer. I love to see how the characters evolve and who shows up! That said, I do sometimes go back and outline each chapter after I write the first draft. This allows me to see the arc of the story, and to catch any places that lack authority or a reason to be there. I call these “dead zones.” This is something my agent taught me to do and it’s really helpful.

What does your life as a writer look like? What is your schedule and do you work at writing full time?

I still work as a librarian, although just part time now. My library work schedule pretty much dictates my writing schedule. That and my dogs! They really need to get out for exercise and so do I. But, ideally, I write at least a couple of hours a day. If I’m really hot and heavy into a new manuscript, I may write a bit at night and on the weekends. But I try to limit that so I can spend time with my most patient husband. I guess I’m still trying to figure out how to juggle it all!

I noticed that you just joined Twitter, Bobbie. How important do you think social media is to authors trying to market their books? A lot, a little, not at all? Thoughts?

That’s a good question and one I’m wrestling with. I’m such a Luddite when it comes to technology, yet now I find myself on Face Book, Twitter and I have a blog. I think FB and Twitter are good ways to network with people in the writing and publishing community. After all, I would never have met you otherwise! So in that way, it helps get the word out about me and my books. But I’m not real comfortable “blowing my own horn”—as a matter of fact, I’m almost phobic about it. So in that way, some of the social media can seem (to me) a bit self-serving. I guess that’s why I’m more comfortable talking about my work or my good news in context with other writers I know. Or if it also helps spread the word about how amazing dogs are. I’m also finding it a bit of a challenge to be involved in all this online stuff and still have time to write! A lot of my writer friends have the same struggle.I think in terms of connecting with readers (who are, after all, why I write) maintaining a website that has lots of information on it is what they want. Of course, mostly what they want and what I can do best for them, is write another book!

What are you working on now? Any new projects or books you can share with us?

I have a book my agent will be sending out soon that’s based on a true and very unusual survival story in Russia. Dogs do figure in it rather prominently, although it’s not a”dog story” in the same way A DOG’S WAY HOME is. I’m also working on a book—a rather fun book—set in the panhandle of Florida where I grew up that explores what it means to be “lucky”. So keep your eye on me!

And finally, from one animal lover to another – what is your favorite animal?

Oh dogs, paws down! I love horses and I do live with two cats, but dogs are my heart and soul. They truly are God spelled backwards!

Bobbie - Thank you so much for stopping by! If you'd like to know more about Bobbie Pyron and her books, visit her website at

And if you'd like to win a signed copy of A DOG'S WAY HOME and be one of the first to read this great dog story, here's how to enter:

  • Leave a comment below telling us your favorite kind of dog.
  • New and old followers of this blog get an extra entry.
  • Retweet, or repost this contest for another entry (and let me know.)

Contest will run until midnight, February 28, 2011 Pacific Time when a random winner will be chosen. Make sure I have a way to contact you! Book will be shipped to U.S or Canada addresses only.

Good Luck, Everyone!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

My Boys

A quick update on the new kids at our place - Mr. Chocolate and Mr. Big:

When they first arrived they were wet, muddy, and gross. A few sunny days have dried them into lovable fuzzballs and they are much more huggable now ;)

They've been wormed, vaccinated, and got their feet trimmed (which they navigated splendidly) but we still had one major hurdle -

although Mr. Big was a donkey gelding - Mr. Chocolate was still a jack.
Mr. Chocolate one half hour after his operation, looking no worse for the wear.

Short course in Donkey Terminology - a female donkey is called a jenny, and a male donkey is called a jack. (Funny, huh?)

Well, after a visit from the veterinarian yesterday, Mr. Chocolate is now also a donkey gelding. (Which means, folks, that he is now neutered and won't be distracted by hormones or thinking about the birds and the bees.)

As Spring approaches, I'm looking forward to fun adventures with my two new boys. In fact, I've written more about them recently over on Equestrian Ink, in a post called Top Ten Reasons for Owning a Donkey, if you'd like to pop over and take a peek.

So for now, Mr. Chocolate and Mr. Big give you all a big Hee Haw! which in donkey language usually means:

So glad to see you!

There are wild coyotes out back, Mom, do something!

I'm hungry, I need more hay!

Do you know what time it is? Time to rise and shine, day is breaking, get up, get up, Get Up!!

Friday, February 4, 2011

Booklover's Paradise

I spent the afternoon at Powell's Books in Portland, Oregon this week. What a book lover's paradise: an entire city block of over one million new and used books, all color-coded and organized by readers' interest.

I sold several books that I'd already read, and brought some home that I'd been looking for.

Powell's uses the very cool concept of displaying new books right alongside their used counterparts, so you can pick and choose which edition you want.

So with all of these books to look at, a book worm like myself could get lost for hours (and I did.) But what sections really held my interest? Well, I browsed the entire Young Adult and Children's sections, spent some time amongst the books on Animals, went upstairs to the Literature section looking for certain authors, and of course perused the section of Writing books.

After I checked out all of the Newbery award winners (and they have an entire section devoted to these) where I found a few Marguerite Henry books, I asked where the rest of her books were kept. After a bit of snooping (and everything is organized and easily found on computer search monitors) I found an entire section devoted to - wait for it - Children's Books about Animals.

I was in seventh heaven. I promptly parked myself and gazed longingly at all the titles, many which I've already read. From vintage editions of Albert Payson Terhune's dog stories to brand new books like Ginny Rorby's The Outside of a Horse, I fingered the books gingerly and lovingly. Yes, this was my section, and my world - Kids and Animals.

In the end, I came home with three new books:

A book on writing: THE COURAGE TO WRITE, by Ralph Keyes

An adult novel: THE BLESSINGS OF THE ANIMALS, by Katrina Kittle

A 1971 children's book about a boy and dog: THE SUMMER OF RILEY, by Eve Bunting

Have you been to Powell's Books? Do you have a favorite bookstore where you could hang out for hours?