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"How I Got Published" -- Dorothy Patent, Author of SAVING AUDIE: A PIT BULL PUPPY GETS A SECOND CHANCE

Dorothy Patent has written more than 130 nonfiction books for children -- including about a dozen about canines of one sort or another. She’s especially captivated by canines who help people, as in The Right Dog for the Job: Irah’s Path from Service Dog to Guide Dog. Her recent book, When the Wolves Returned: Saving Nature’s Balance in Yellowstone, received many awards, including the Orbis Pictus Award for Outstanding Nonfiction for Children Honor Book. With Saving Audie, she’s happily back to writing about the wolves’ beloved descendents. GIVEAWAY: Dorothy is excited to give away a free copy of her novel to a random commenter. Comment within 2 weeks; winners must live in Canada/US to receive the book by mail. You can win a blog contest even if you’ve won before. (Update: Amber won.)

In preparation for my forthcoming humor book, RED DOG / BLUE DOG: WHEN POOCHES GET POLITICAL (Running Press, July 2012), I will be featuring interviews with other dog book writers each week. It's very exciting to shine light on books from other writers who also share a love for canines.

This week it's Dorothy Patent, author of SAVING AUDIE: A PIT BULL PUPPY GETS A SECOND CHANCE.

An avid dog lover starting with Ricky, an English cocker she almost strangled in her toddler attempts at hugging, through a line of canines leading to much missed part-wolf sisters Elsa and Ninja, Dorothy Patenthas written more than 130 nonfiction books for children -- including about a dozen about canines of one sort or another. She’s especially captivated by canines who help people, as in The Right Dog for the Job: Irah’s Path from Service Dog to Guide Dog. Her recent book, When the Wolves Returned: Saving Nature’s Balance in Yellowstone, received many awards, including the Orbis Pictus Award for Outstanding Nonfiction for Children Honor Book. With Saving Audie, she’s happily back to writing about the wolves’ beloved descendents.

GIVEAWAY: Dorothy is excited to give away a free copy of her novel to a random commenter. Comment within 2 weeks; winners must live in Canada/US to receive the book by mail. You can win a blog contest even if you’ve won before. (Update: Amber won.)

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Currently own dogs? Tell us their names, breeds and one amusing fact per dog.

Sadly, I’m currently a dogless dog lover. My husband and I travel too much these days to have a dog. But we treasure the weeks when our neighbors are away and we get to take care of their black lab, Opal. Opal is such a creature of habit that if we offer her afternoon treat in mid-morning or vice versa, she will drop it on the floor in confusion and then just stare at it.

In one sentence, what is your book (or latest dog-related book) about?

Saving Audie: A Pit Bull Puppy Gets a Second Chance tells how one of the dogs saved from the Michael Vick dog-fighting operation found his forever home.

When did it come out? Publisher? Any notable awards or praise for it?

It came out a year ago [2011] from Walker & Company. Here’s what Publishers Weekly says, “This polished photo-essay by frequent collaborators Patent and Muñoz [the photographer] will tug at the heartstrings of readers--especially those sympathetic to the plight of the often-maligned pit bull.” And just this month [May 2012], Saving Audie was announced as a favorite book by children across America and included on the 2012 Children’s Choice list by the International Reading Association/Children’s Book Council.

What inspired you to write this book? (In other words, how did the book come about?)

My editor, Emily Easton, suggested the topic and it took me a microsecond to say ‘yes.’ I’m always eager to write about canines of any sort.

What kind of writing, if any, were you doing before the book?

I’ve written many nonfiction books for kids, mostly nature related as I’m a trained zoologist. But I’ve also written lots about domesticated animals, especially horses and dogs. And I’ve written for many magazines as well, including The Writer, Relish, and Organic Gardening.

How did you find your agent?

I don’t have an agent who negotiates with the publishers I’ve worked with many times. A previous agent who retired helped get my contracts into pretty good shape, and the publishers have just continued using basically the same provisions. I’ve written consistently for Walker, so sometimes, like for Saving Audie, they contacted me about writing the book.

What has been the biggest surprise or learning experience you’ve seen through the process of seeing your book(s) get published?

The publisher got the book out in less than a year because of its timeliness; it usually takes them 1.5 years because of all the photos in this sort of book.

Tell me about a fun moment or proud experience you’ve had with your book and readers since the book was published.

Our hero, Audie, has his own Facebook page, Audie’s Journey. We’ve had lots of fun with it, including “meeting” a number of the other Vick dogs and their new families. But the best part was a mother who wrote in that after she read the book to her young daughter, the girl insisted on having the book under her pillow at night and propped up next to her bed during the day.

What are you doing to reach out to readers and dog enthusiasts?

There’s the Facebook page; I also sent out emails to a list of humane educators, and BAD RAP, the amazing organization that helped change the system so these dogs could be given a chance at a normal life, has a link on their website, www.badrap.org as well as a lesson plan for using the book in the classroom, which you can download.

Think of your dog (or a past dog perhaps). If you could compare them to one celebrity, who would it be?

I’m not much into celebrities, but I can say that one of our recent dogs, Ninja, a lovely black-and-white part wolf, probably part Karelian Bear Dog, could easily have used Alfred E. Newman’s motto, “What, me worry?” She was great at ignoring a command and just standing there, wagging her tail, looking loveable and innocent, the same way she’d look greeting us at the door after she’d gotten into the compost bucket and strewn the contents all over the living room floor!

Favorite of these dog movies? --- “Best in Show,” “101 Dalmatians,” “The Shaggy Dog.”

“Best is Show” by a landslide!

Where can people find you on the Internet?

My website is www.dorothyhinshawpatent.com. I’m also part of a group of nonfiction writers for children that does videoconferencing with teachers and students.

What’s next up for you, writing-wise?

For all you dog lovers, I have yet another dog book for young readers coming out September 4, 2012—Dogs on Duty: Soldiers’ Best Friends on the Battlefield and Beyond. I loved researching and writing that book, learning about the brave dogs and handlers who work to keep people safe in war zones. After this? I don’t know—I have no signed contracts to fulfill, but I do have another dog-related idea or even two lurking in my brain.

GIVEAWAY: Dorothy is excited to give away a free copy of her novel to a random commenter. Comment within 2 weeks; winners must live in Canada/US to receive the book by mail. You can win a blog contest even if you’ve won before. (Update: Amber won.)

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RED DOG / BLUE DOG is a humorous photo collection of
dogs doing stereotypical liberal and conservative things,
assembled all in good fun. It releases July 2012 from
Running Press.

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