Writing Matters #9: from angels back to puppy dogs!

While I’ve been preparing for the start of the PR campaign for my latest novel, ‘Orders From Above’, I’ve been able to concentrate on getting my fundraising book published – and today it went live! You can read more about how this labour of love came about in my earlier blog Writing Matters #7: writing a¬†fundraiser.

I started volunteering with Guide Dogs for the Blind in 2015 as a Puppy Walker (now called Puppy Raisers) and I had the delightful (and somewhat opinionated) Buddy for his first year. I started taking photographs from the day he arrived and as he and the picture collection grew I had vague thoughts of one day putting his story into a book. Well, it took lockdown to do it, but the paperback is now available from Amazon, link below, and I’m currently working on the e-version. If all goes well that will be available next month.

It’s been a true labour of love, learning new skills and overcoming a few technical challenges, but I am truly delighted with the result.

https://amzn.to/2P5zAjZ

Guide Dog Buddy* has chosen extracts from his puppy diary detailing his training during the year he was with me before going into Training School. With over 100 colour photos, this is a charming, amusing, but also informative insight into the world of Guide Dog Puppies.

It is dedicated to all the Guide Dog volunteers who work with these amazing dogs, and to the amazing dogs themselves, who are life changers in so many ways.

All profits will go to Guide Dogs for the Blind.

*’Buddy’ is a working boy now, with an unusual name, so I asked his Owner to choose a pen name for him and she suggested Buddy. He’s quite possible the only Guide Dog with an alias! You can read more about him – and see more photographs – on his own page Buddy.

I’d like to give a big shout out to Rachel Lawston of Lawston Design. Rachel is the designer of my novel covers, and when she realised this was a fundraiser she did the fantastic cover for free!

NB This is not a Guide Dogs for the Blind publication. It has been written and published by me for the sole purposes of fundraising for Guide Dogs for the Blind.

Writing Matters #7: writing a fundraiser

Alongside my humorous fantasy novel Orders From Above, due for publication 1st June, I’ve been working on a fundraising book to raise money for Guide Dogs for the Blind. This is my 5th year as a volunteer for this charity, so it’s dear to my heart.

Back in November 2015 a Guide Dog Puppy aged 7 weeks was placed in my home for one year for socialisation training before going on to Early Stage and then Advanced Training to shape him into the excellent Guide Dog he is today. A Labrador/Golden Retriever cross he had a very expressive face, and I took hundreds of photographs throughout his time with me. Occasionally I added his “thoughts” in a speech bubble, and posted them on social media. When the puppy had completed his time with me I put a collection together just for my fellow local Puppy Raisers, so the bare bones of a book were there.

When he left me for Early Stage Training I decided not to take on another puppy full time as there was building work going on in the house and I was busy writing, but I became instead a Boarder. This means I have the joy of looking after puppies for lengths of time varying from a day visit to a three-month stay or more, and so far I’ve had more than twenty dogs of different ages and breeds in my home. I’ve looked after a working Guide Dog too. Bliss!

So now to the fundraising book. Being in this third lockdown has given me all the time needed so I contacted Guide Dogs for the Blind to make sure they were happy for me to do it and that I adhered to their own guidelines and HMRC rules and regulations so we didn’t run into any taxation snags. We agreed that the puppy would be given a pen name, so he became Buddy.

I spent a couple of weeks sorting through and selecting the best photographs and honing the text. That didn’t take long, but oh my goodness, once I started to format it so it was suitable for both paperback and e-books there were times I wondered if I’d ever get there! I’m glad I haven’t kept count of the hours I’ve spent hunched over my laptop cursing Word! I’ve had to learn how to insert the pictures so they were centred to the page margins and stayed put whenever I made an alteration. It’s not the ideal package for such a project, but as this is the only book of its kind that I shall do there’s no point in buying new software that I’d then have to spend time learning.

The only hitch in this little enterprise is that the paperback will have to be in black & white, as Print on Demand colour printing would pitch the book price very high, and with a low royalty. Fortunately there are no such issues with Kindle and other e-readers, and it has been sent to the States for formatting for those platforms.

But I’ve taken the work as far as I can go for now, as I wait for the e-formatter and for the cover designer to do their thing. The wonderful Rachel Lawston of Lawston Designs, who designed my covers for Flight of the Kingfisher and Walk in the Afterlight, is donating her fee!

I hope to publish by the end of March and Guide Dogs for the Blind will receive 100% of the profits.

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