What inspired you to write your first book and how did you come up with the title?
Answer: When I lived in Maryland, I worked at a government residential facility for emotionally challenged children and adolescents. At that time, I had a little black pekingese named Lindsey. She would go to work with me on a daily basis. When students came to my office to talk about their past abuse, they would often pet Lindsey. It seemed as if the interaction with the dog made it easier for the kids to talk about such difficult issues. Lindsey brought comfort to them as they cried. I use to call Lindsey a little angel in a fur coat.
When I moved to Florida, Lindsey was around 15 years old. Her health was declining due to natural aging. One day, I came across an ad in the Jacksonville Times Union newspaper advertising pekingese puppies for sale. I made an appointment to see them and when I got there only one puppy was left. She was rambunctious, way too hyper for me to bring into my home with Lindsey. Just as I was about to leave, the lady told me that she had two pups in the back room that were just three weeks old. They hadn’t opened their eyes yet and were the size of a hamster. I picked up one of the pups and her little bitty tail began to wag. I placed her back down and her tail stopped. Every time I picked her back up her tail would wag…I put her down and her wag stopped. I fell in love and paid the lady to hold the pup for me until she was weaned and ready for me to take home. Four weeks later, I was able to bring my new puppy home to meet Lindsey. As Lindsey was sniffing and checking the new pup out, I noticed that she had a single pink toe. That’s when my imagination began to soar and I had a ‘what if’ moment. What if that little pink toe meant something?
That was the inspiration for my first book, Angel in a Fur Coat.
Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Most people feel a special connection with their dog(s). My books play on those feelings and with a little imagination validates that special bond between a dog and their person. The books leave the reader to look at their own beloved pet and ponder the question: What if dogs really are angels in fur coats.
How much of the book is realistic? Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
My books are fiction fantasy but I base the character’s personalities on real dogs and people.
Angel in a Fur Coat and Legend of the Pink Toe are based on real animals that have in some way been a part of my life. The personalities of my past pets, neighbor’s pets, as well as some of the dogs I’ve met at dog parks. Every animal I have met has had their own unique personality.
Wayward Angels and Dolittleology are loosely based on my experience working in a mental health setting with kids and utilizing a therapy dog group within the students’ treatment plans. The pug in Dolittleology is based on my cousin’s dog, Stimpy, who had almost a human quality about her.
What are your current projects?
Right now I’m having fun promoting the Fur Angel Series. In addition to author interviews, blog tours, and book signings, I also make talking dog videos and Fur Angel memorabilia for others using their own pets. People can order their talking dog videos through my page on a site called Fiverr. The buyer sends me a picture of their dog (s) or cat (s) along with a personalized message. I then do a voiceover of their message and program the pet (s) in the photo to talk. Most of the orders consist of birthday wishes, holiday greetings, advertisement for businesses and websites and book trailers. My page for the talking dog videos is http://www.fiverr.com/gooberella
I also make personalized Fur Angel necklaces and magnets. The buyer sends me a photo of their dog or cat and I Photoshop on angel wings, encase the photo in a hard dome glass, and make a necklace or magnet. You can order a Fur Angel by going to http://www.AngelsInaFurCoat.com
I also paint my own illustrations for my picture books.
Who designed the covers?
I design my own book covers with the use of photographs I have taken, art I have drawn and painted, and computer manipulation.
Angel in a Fur Coat is a photograph I took of my dog Xia when she was a puppy. The photo also shows her pink little toe in which is the fantasy storyline.
Legend of the Pink Toe is a St. Augustine, Florida sunset, flipped upside down and Photoshopped into the background of a picture of Xia.
The covers of Wayward Angels and Dolittleology are done in mixed media using pen and ink and a computer drawing program. They are based on the fictitious characters of the books.
Do you have any advice for other writers?
I never intended to write a book. One day I was doodling on note paper and began writing little stories about my new puppy’s pink little toe. I then bought a notebook and transferred the stories into it. Months later the notebook was full. I had no idea what my next step should be so I joined every writing group I could find in Jacksonville and St. Augustine. I went to every writers meeting I heard about and eventually I gained enough courage to join a critique group. That was seven years ago. I’ve met many good people who all have the same desire to get published. Not only do I learn by having my work critiqued but I also learn in the critiquing of others’ work. Most importantly, as everyone says, never give up. Write, write, and rewrite…edit, edit, edit and then write some more. As for marketing, you’re on your own. You have to find your niche and build on it in order to let your book shine. Use social media to the fullest.
One day, while watching The View, they announced that people could upload a video question via their website for a chance to be chosen in a question and answer video segment at the end of the show. I had recently played around with a computer program where I could manipulate a photo of my dog, making her talk for a book trailer of Angel in a Fur Coat. I thought it would be kind of funny if I had my dog submit a question. I knew it would probably be a long shot to have my video chosen, however, since Whoopi is a comedian, I may have a slight chance so I directed my question to Whoopi. I googled the name of her cat, and had my dog ask Whoopi a question about her cat. It worked. My question was chosen and my dogs were on The View talking to Whoopi.
So, my biggest advice to other writers is to take every chance you can to put your book out there, for you never know who may see it and you may not get that opportunity again.
Here is the link to The View segment with my dogs, Xia, Augie and Li Li http://youtu.be/gMrr7sQOG6k
Cynthia grew up in Maryland and received a BA degree in Psychology from the University of Maryland (UMBC). She worked at a State facility for severe emotionally challenged adolescents for over 13 years. Cynthia currently resides in Jacksonville, Florida, as a children/YA author and travels with one of her Fur Angels, Augie Dog, to book signings of the Fur Angel Series.
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