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The Kids & Dogs Made Me Do It - by Andra Gillum


The Kids & Dogs Made Me Do It!
by Andra Gillum

As adults, we prefer to stay in our comfort zone.  By then, we’ve all made plenty of mistakes.  We have learned from them, but we have also felt their pain.  This makes us cautious and sometimes afraid to fail.  We always have one foot on the brake.

Children still see the world without limits. I love that my son is planning on being an NFL running back, and my daughter looks forward to her career as a famous recording artist.  Kids don’t consider what might go wrong.  Their foot is on the gas!

I always dreamed of writing and publishing a book. Like many adults, I was afraid take a chance.  I didn’t want to embarrass myself, or feel the sting of failure.   This is the story of how my kids and my dogs inspired me to take a chance.  This is the story of how Doggy Drama was born…

When my husband and I were first married, we got a puppy named Riley.  This was before kids (BK), so she was our whole world!

We showered her with gifts and treats and attention!  She got more walks than any dog deserves.  Riley had it all.

After a few years, we decided to have kids. Human kids to be more specific.  First we had a son and then a few years later, a daughter.  We still gave Riley plenty of attention, but clearly it wasn’t the same.

In my defense, I did have a toddler and a baby in the house, but Riley never complained.  At least, not to my face.

A few more years down the line, the kids convinced us to get a new puppy.  In hindsight, we didn’t even consult Riley!  

Little Lucy is a West Highland terrier, just like Riley.  But, unlike Riley (who’s getting a little older), she’s full, full, full of energy!  

Riley tried to act like our new addition didn’t bother her, but she’s not a very good actress.  She just had that annoyed look on her face.

I started to notice them fighting.  Literally.  They would growl at each other, paw at each other, bark and bite each other!  You could hear their teeth, snap, snap, snap!

It really struck me as funny how they fought like any two sisters. They were just like the kids.  I started to write down my observations.  Over time, it evolved into a story.

The idea was that even dogs struggle with sibling rivalry!   It’s nice to be the center of attention, but it usually doesn’t last.  The “new kids” stole all the attention.   Poor Riley felt kicked to the curb!

I named my story Doggy Drama, but it sat on my computer for months.  I have always dreamed of publishing a children’s book.  Now I had a great story, but I was still dragging my feet.

What if I only sold 16 copies… all to close family?  What if I did a book reading and only the crickets showed up?  Would I be left with a garage full of books?

My kids are the ones who convinced me to go for it!  They were reading the manuscript over my shoulder one day as I was editing it.  Kids are great motivators!  Their enthusiasm was contagious!  After all, it wasn’t about writing a best seller.  I was about fulfilling a dream!

I found a small publisher called Mascot books who was willing to work with me and help me find an illustrator.  That was a long process.  I had to find an illustrator with a style that fit my book, and someone who was willing to draw the pictures the way I wanted them to look.

Once we found an illustrator, it was a long process of laying out the storyboard, turning sketches into final drawings, choosing colors, choosing a cover, making final edits, and then putting it all together!  

The publishing process took a full year.  It was a fun process, but certainly tougher than I expected!

Last fall, Mascot Books released my first children’s book called Doggy Drama.  I spent a fun year visiting schools, sharing the books and getting inspired by the students!   They suggested I write a sequel and this fall, the sequel Puppy Drama was released!  

The past few years have been a fun journey.  I’ve taken chances, stepped outside of my comfort zone, and learned a lot along the way.  The best part is that it was all inspired by my kids and my dogs.  Just don’t tell them.  Otherwise, they’ll start fighting over who deserves the most credit!

Learn more about the books and order a personalized copy at www.doggydrama.com.  Or, pick up your copy of Doggy Drama or Puppy Drama today at everyone’s favorite local coffee shop - Colin’s Coffee.  I might see you there.

I guess I have my kids and my dogs to thank for bringing my books to life.  Just don’t tell them or they’ll start fighting over who deserves the most credit.

Andra Gillum is a free-lance writer from Upper Arlington, Ohio, and the author of Doggy Drama and Puppy Drama.  Send your comments and feedback to andra@doggydrama.com.