All that Jazz

What are you passionate about? What kinds of things do you enjoy doing? Maybe you're really great at cooking, or knitting, or you actually don't kill the flowers you plant in your garden. Maybe you have kids who say really hilarious things that bring you joy, or you've got some secret skills at ballroom dancing. 

Have you ever thought about incorporating these things into your writing?

Your passion can make all the difference in fueling your writing and giving it that extra little spark. It can also play into your voice as a writer.

For me, my passion is animal rescue. In my first book, my lead character has a paralyzed pit bull who she's rescued. She loves her dog very much, and this ended up being a great way for me to use symbolism and also to show the deeper layers of my character's emotions. I also tried to address some common misconceptions about rescue dogs in my writing.

This topic came naturally to me, and it was easy to imagine how the character would feel about her dog because I care about animals so deeply. Above is a picture of me with a lab mix named Pepper who was abandoned in my neighborhood. My husband and I noticed that she was hanging out near these people's yard and both expected her to go home. A few days went by, and she was still there. At that point, we realized what had happened.

Someone abandoned her.

This happens to dogs all the time, and it makes me sick. People think they can just throw away a life because it's inconvenient for them to keep up with a responsibility they chose to take on. Meanwhile, dogs like Pepper have no way to understand what's happening. She was probably waiting in the same spot that whole time because she was expecting them to come back. They didn't. We tried to put her in our car to drive her home, but she was so scared every time my husband picked her up that she started shaking and would leap away from the car. So my husband ended up carrying her home. We found an no-kill animal rescue that would take her, and she got adopted within three days. We found out later that our other neighbors had already called animal control to come pick her up and take her to the animal shelter. Had we not picked her up when we did, there is no way she would've made it out of the animal shelter alive. She is a black dog, a mix breed, and adult, and was too skinny. These are all factors that would've kept her from getting adopted. That's the reality of animal control. Only about 1 out of every 2 dogs that go into an animal shelter come out. That's why rescues are so important.

Pepper now lives with a very nice family with kids she watches over.

Something similar happened with this dog, Lexie. As you can see from the photo, Lexie is a gorgeous, purebred Sheltie. She almost walked into my husband's car one day as he was driving home. She was filthy and way too hot. She had a small leash attached to a dirty collar, so we assumed someone must've lost her on a walk. We posted "Found Dog" signs all over our neighborhood and surrounding streets, expecting a call in no time. No one ever came for her. Worked out in the end because tests showed Lexie was severely heartworm positive. She wouldn't have lived much longer without treatment. We were fortunate that she is purebred and were easily able to get her into a Sheltie rescue. She was adopted several months later by a wonderful vet in New Orleans and is now doing great. This little dog that was too scared to even drink water or eat a treat at our house is now loves bananas and toys that make annoying noises, according to her family. It might sound silly to you that I would pray for a dog, but I did with Lexie. I love this dog. We had her two days, and that was all it took for me. But there's no way she would've gotten along well with our Cocker Spaniels, and I knew she could find a better home if I let her go. And she did. :) I begged God to send her a sweet family who would love her and who she could love in return, never again facing the neglect she'd once endured. I am so thankful He answered the way He did.

When I was brainstorming my new novel with my agent a few months ago, she suggested I include a dog in the story because it's a topic I care about and also a topic people identify with. After all, who doesn't like dogs? Even if you aren't a dogs-in-the-house kind of person, who hasn't smiled when they see a puppy?

I thought I'd include a couple pictures of Maddie and Schroeder's new haircuts, because--well, aren't they just so cute?

What topics are important to you? Do you have a particular skill that's interesting? Have you ever considered writing about these things? I can't wait to hear about all the issues and interests that matter to you!

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