Kelsey the Corgi has always wanted to be a service dog. Her energy and enthusiasm, however, prevent her from succeeding in the professional world and she is sent away to live with a family (as a house pet)! Disheartened by failure, Kelsey learns that she can still find purpose in an ordinary extraordinary life at home.
The idea for this story came to *me while I was sitting in church of all places. I was sitting in a back pew with my head down (probably not paying as much attention to the speaker at the pulpit as I should have been) when a disturbance to my right caught my attention. A small dog—which I had always assumed was a service dog of some type because you don’t often see dogs in church otherwise (after all we all know All Dogs Go to Heaven anyway)—was having difficulty sitting still. It seemed to be having just as much difficulty as I was, paying attention. And the errant thought crossed my mind that it must be difficult for such a small and energetic dog to be so obedient all of the time. A lot is expected of service dogs after all, and whenever I see them in public they are always so well behaved … except for this one. And the idea kept building from there.
What if I wrote a book about a young energetic puppy who wanted nothing more in life than to become a service dog!? What if that same energy and ambition that fueled her desire to serve, also prevented her from succeeding? And finally, what if that same puppy learned that she still could succeed in her goals even if it wasn’t in the way she had originally hoped, and even when others had told her she had failed?
I try my best to not work on the Sabbath Day and for me that includes writing my books. I vainly tried to stem the tide of incoming story as I waited out the rest of the Sabbath and come Monday morning I was at my computer typing away. The initial story only took me a couple of hours to write. My plan was not to really do anything particularly special with it—it was just a needle in my brain that I needed to remove before I could resume work on my novel—other than write a cute story that I would share with my wife because she loves animals and finds Corgis particularly adorable (hence my choice of breed for the hero of the story).
After getting the story written and smoothing out the rougher areas, I then did a search for royalty free images online and found the best ones I could to illustrate my little book and presented it to my wife.
To my suprise she loved it and not just in an “ah, that’s cute!” sort of a way.
She encouraged me to polish it up even more and then share it with more people, perhaps even publish it. So I did. I shared it with my parents. My mom suggested I share it with one of my sisters-in-law. Said sister-in-law had a good friend who does illustrations and wondered if it was okay if she shared it with them. And everything just kind of kept happening.
We arranged a contract to get illustrations done. My favorite one is the one pictured above. It depicts a scene wherein Kelsey is trying to fulfill the role of a guide dog, but she gets distracted by excitiedly catching a ball that goes bouncing by! Unfortunately, in her eagerness to play she loses track of the blind woman who ends up sprawled out on a bush! The illustrator’s name is Seth Hoffman—he did an amazing job and it was more fun than I expected to see my story come to life through his talents.
My plan at that point was to self-publish the book and see what happened from there, but once again my wife and family enouraged me to push a little bit more and submit for publication through the traditional route.
I decided to go for it! For the first time in my writing career I wrote query letters and sent them out to three publishers. I didn’t want to overwhelm myself as this was my first foray into seeking publication so I researched out three publishers who accepted emailed and unagented submissions and sent my first book out to them. Oh! how I was/am nervous. It does nothing for my nerves that every one of them said that because they receieve so many sumbissions they will not be responding unless interested. Which means I don’t even have a rejection letter to look forward to, to let me know to move on. Which also means I can say I have never officially been rejected by a publisher!
The time tables varied from 3-6 months to hear back from them if interested. We are currently at about month four.
What happens next will depend on the response I do or don’t get. I have taken the intervening time to do an even more thorough search of publishers who might be interested in this type of children’s book and have a list I am considering sending queries out to. Or I may go ahead and self-publish. I haven’t quite made up my mind. I am just eager to get my story out there and into your hands. Rest assured I will keep you updated on what happens.
Until next time,
*”To be clear, I saw the dog and it was me who suggested it would make an entertaining story. I was thinking more along the lines of a great american novel, but alas I am limited by no longer being allowed near the keyboard … don’t tell Sam I was here.”
UPDATE AUGUST 23,2023: I decided to go ahead and send KELSEY THE CORGI off to another round of publishers! I tried to be more particular this time about the publishers I sent it to and finding ones that I think would be speficically interested in the story. I think this may be the last batch I send the manuscript off too (at least in an unsolicited form) as they were the last ones I could find in the WRITERS MARKET book that accepted unagented works (and whose websites still said that as well—apparently a lot of places are being inundated with submissions at the moment and are becoming more picky about who they accept manuscripts from). Wish me luck!