Fiction and Fur Babies

By Gail Johnson

And God made the beasts of the earth after their kind, and the cattle after their kind, and everything that creepeth upon the ground after its kind: and God saw that it was good Genesis 1:25 ASV.

How’s your WIP coming along? Making progress? Or stuck on how to make it better?

How about adding a fur baby?

I know dogs and cats are not unusual or exotic like a monkey or a boa constrictor. Eww! But when you take the perfect breed and add a quirky personality you can create a unique story. Especially if you allow the reader to hear the pet’s thoughts!

Some of the most memorable movies starred a cat or a dog. Remember these?

Cat Movies
The Aristocats
Garfield
Oliver and Company
Homeward Bound I and II

Dog Movies
Lady and the Tramp
101 Dalmatians
Turner and Hooch
Marley and Me

The most recent one made is A Dog’s Purpose starring Dennis Quaid.

As you can see it would be just an ordinary movie without the dog. The dog is the reason you want to watch the film!

Do Your Homework
If this pooch and kitty idea sounds like something you’re interested in, the first thing to figure out is what kind of dog or cat your main character would have. Then ask yourself the following questions:

dog-450543_1280What type of a person is my main character? Athletic or sedentary? City boy or country girl? Park runner or trail hiker? Apartment or house dweller? Truck or car? Once you’ve answered all your questions, then the next thing you’ll want to do is find the breed that will best fit the lifestyle of your main character.

This step also begins with questions. Does the animal help with work, either on the job or on the farm? Heelers are ideal for sheep and cattle. German Shepherds are used in military and police work. Labrador Retrievers are workers and companions, whereas a Shih Tzu is just for companionship. They make perfect fur babies. I should know. I own one.

You may want to go deeper and ask about the sensitivity of your character’s nose. Individual dogs smell worse than others. My sniffer is extremely sensitive. Is your character a clean freak or a slob? Clean freak, here. Some cats and dogs shed worse than others. A Shih Tzu doesn’t shed like an average dog but rather like a human. Their hair must be cut.

cat-1551783_1280For cats, you ask the same questions. Work or play? Some American Shorthair cats make great mousers on the farm whereas the Persian Cat, like the Shih Tzu, make great fur babies. Some cats are elegant while others are fat and lazy. Think Garfield.

As you can see, whether you mean to imply it or not, the animals tell a lot about their owners. And it’s a great way to add another layer to your story.

Researching the Breed
According to reference.com, there are 340 recognized dog breeds of which only 167 are acknowledged in the United States. Additionally, there are 55 cat breeds allowed in competition, with the officially accepted number varying between associations. That’s a lot of cats and dogs! So where do we begin?

dog-220393_1280Why not start with cattime.com/cat-breeds and dogtime.com/dog-breeds/profiles? Both sites share pictures and information about each animal. Another idea would be to visit the local kennel or ask a veterinarian.

God created an array of animals to add an interesting layer to our world. Adding an animal to your WIP can and will add layers to your story and to your character. So which one do you have in mind? Cat or Dog?

Writing Prompt:

She had only been gone for twenty minutes. How on earth could one Labrador puppy do so much damage? Nancy checked her watch. Thirty minutes before her guest would arrive. Where could she get a new…

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Endless Possibilities for 2017

by Gail Johnson

Have you made plans for 2017?

I admit it took me a while to understand this thing called New Year’s Resolution. In the past, my resolutions were nothing more than a wish made and broken in the same month. Unfortunately, without a fairy godmother to wave her magic wand, I was doomed to fail every year. But not this year!

This year I didn’t stop with a resolution. I took it a step further and made a plan. That’s right, this pantser made a plan. And that process began with questions. Lots of questions.

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Why make a resolution in the first place?

One synonym for resolution is the word purpose. Purpose, for me, brings stability to my life.

 

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How will I reach my goal?

How encompasses the what, when, where, and who. Knowing the how keeps me from wandering aimlessly throughout the year.

 

 

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What do I want to do this year?

That is the question we must ask ourselves. The answer, for me, was obvious. I want to publish my book.

 

 

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When do I have time to work on my goal?

I failed in the past because I forgot to make room for life. Life happens. If I can’t write for one hour a day, I write for thirty minutes. If not thirty minutes, then fifteen minutes. This plan also works well in pages.

Did you know if you wrote one page a day you would have 365 pages at the end of the year? Even if you pencil in two months for holidays and vacation, you can still write over 300 pages in a year! That is a book, my friend! So, don’t set yourself up to fail. Live your life and set aside a portion of your time to write.

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Who can help me?

You will find many writers who will happily share their knowledge with you. When you find these generous people, cherish their friendship. Do what you can to help them by promoting their books by word-of-mouth or by a review on social media. Both if possible. You won’t regret it.

However, not everyone will bother to answer your questions. Don’t take it personally. Discouragement is the enemy of productivity. Move on. Find someone else to ask and keep asking until you find someone willing to share the answers.

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Where do I go to get helpful information?

This may take a little longer. In fact, it may take a lot longer. In the past eight years, I’ve waded through the overwhelming number of writing websites only to glean just a few keepers. Some sites I bookmarked and still visit often, and others I discarded. It wasn’t the person or the information–just the same info in a different package. Choosing the perfect ones for me was a combination of things. Along with writing advice, I looked for interaction and teaching technique. In the end, I found my fit. Find your fit and stick with them. They will teach and encourage you along the journey. And while you are looking for that perfect site, don’t forget Writing Prompts. We would love to have you visit every week!

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So, if you haven’t  made your New Year’s resolution, why not take the time to do it now?

The possibilities are endless!

 

Writing Prompt: Mary read the letter once more before laying it aside. Rejected. Maybe it wasn’t meant to be. Maybe God had other plans for her. Staring at the blinking cursor, her hand hovered over the delete button…