Congratulations to Alison Boss for winning Morgan L. Busse’s book, “Mark of the Raven.”
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As this fun-loving puppy “arfs” his story, you will wish he was your very own pet. He plays with his sister and brother pups in the dirt yard and tries to be good. Yet, he keeps getting into trouble with Bad Boots, their mean owner. To keep their puppy safe, his dog parents sneak him away in the middle of the night to find a better home. Will this mischievous puppy who arfs too much find his place with a forever family?
Have you always wanted to be a published author?
Yes. I have a distinct memory of sitting at my desk in first grade and thinking that when I grew up, I wanted to write books that children would love to read.
When did you get inspired to write this story?
I love dogs, and the real puppy in Finding Home is my favorite pet. So, it was great fun to write a book about his life from his point of view. Also, the part of the story where Marf and Darf bring two puppies back to the good owners really happened. I first tried writing this remarkable incident as an essay to submit to magazines. Then a friend suggested that I write a children’s book about my puppy. I couldn’t believe that I didn’t think of that first!
How did your process unfold?
Many of the events that I wrote in Finding Home, really happened to my puppy. So, even though I’m not naturally a writer who plans her work, this tale is linear, which made it easier to write. But much of the story was invented through prompts given at my weekly writing and critique class. For example, the prompt ‘to write something unexpected that happens to your character’, resulted in my writing the scene where the puppy gets soapy water thrown at him. Also, I did have many children and mom beta readers, who were a great help to me. They thought that the original book, A Pup’s Tale of Homes, was too long for a chapter book. They were right. So I rewrote the book turning it into two shorter ones, Finding Home, and the upcoming, Becoming Pals, My Arf-O- Biography. Of course, I had to add some chapters, rearrange the suspense, add more conflict, and so forth.
The children’s market is not an easy one to crack! How did you find an illustrator?
Wow, it was so, so, so hard to find an illustrator who drew the puppy to look somewhat like my real puppy and that charged an amount that I could pay. I’m a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators and I found some illustrators through their website. I was set with one woman and then when I sent the 16 chapter excerpts, for her to illustrate, she realized that she would need to draw some people, so she declined the job. Another illustrator got very ill and had to withdraw from the project. I was lucky to find my illustrator, Edwina May, through a friend
What advice do you have for aspiring authors?
If you have the drive and persistence that it takes to be an author, keep at it. Try to find other writers to critique your work and encourage you. In today’s world, if you really want to write and publish a book, you can!
Bridgett Bell Langson taught elementary-aged children in North Carolina public schools. She participated in the Writing Project for teachers, staying a classroom teacher, and training other teachers in writing instruction. After retiring, she pursued her dream of being a published author of children’s books. She lives in Charlotte, NC.