Today we welcome Barbara Techel and her daschund, Frankie, to our writing blog. Barbara and I have been friends ever since she was interviewed on our podcast when the first Frankie, the Walk 'N Roll Dog book was released. Now she has an activity book and is working on a second book about Frankie; I had the honor of editing both of these books. It’s always a pleasure to work with returning clients—especially when they are friends as dear as Barbara and Frankie.
YVONNE: Tell our readers something about yourself and your writing background.
BARBARA: My writing really just started about four years ago. During that time I was searching my soul to do something more meaningful with my life, while my chocolate lab, Cassie Jo was living with terminal bone cancer. I adored her, and realized during my coaching sessions with a life coach that my love for dogs is very deep. It was at that time I decided to pursue writing about what I love best, which is animals, and particularly dogs.
I became a contributing writer for our local paper in 2005. I am still writing for them today. My first story was about living with a pet with cancer and went to publication one week after Cassie Jo passed away. It was a fitting tribute. While at the same time, having something in print for the first time was quite scary. I realized by sharing my feelings through my writing, everyone knew how I felt. It turned out to be the best form of healing. Many people thanked me for writing the article, and told me I helped them. I knew I was on my way to doing that something meaningful I had been searching for.
When I am around animals, and especially my own dogs, I am truly me. They bring something out in me that I find hard to explain. I love watching them, and seeing the world through their eyes... and especially their soul. Every day I strive to be more and more like them. To live in the moment, and to really appreciate all the simple pleasures of life.
YVONNE: Give us the basic story line of your book so we’ll know what it’s about.
BARBARA: Frankie, the Walk 'N Roll Dog is the true, inspirational story of my dachshund, Frankie. On Easter Sunday 2006, she suffered a spinal injury which caused paralysis. After three months of physical therapy she was custom-fitted for a doggie wheelchair. The rest is history! The book starts by sharing Frankie's life for the first six years of her life, and how she could walk like a regular dog on all four paws. Then I write about her accident, her physical therapy and her recovery.
YVONNE: What inspired you to write this book?
BARBARA: I had so many inspirations! I believe everything happens for a reason, and there is no doubt I was meant to write Frankie's story. Absolutely and unequivocally, Frankie inspired me! Her amazing resilience, and will to go on, was so inspiring. I marveled at how she quickly adapted, and continued to be the same sweet dog she has always been.
Children also inspired me. When I first started taking Frankie out in public kids would come running up to us eager to know why Frankie was in a wheelchair. I saw the compassion on their faces and felt the kindness in their words. I just knew Frankie could make a positive difference in the lives of children struggling with challenges.
My mom, my husband, and my life coach also inspired me. They believed in me and knew I could do this. When you have a strong support team in place it makes things so much easier.
YVONNE: Is this the first book you have written?
BARBARA: Yes, this is the first, but it won't be the last! A new Frankie book will be released early in 2010. It is called Frankie, the Walk 'N Roll Therapy Dog Visits Libby's House. This book is about Frankie's work as a therapy dog and the senior assisted facility we visit once a month. Most of the patients suffer from dementia or Alzheimer's. Through Frankie's eyes, I hope to help children understand the elderly, and to not be afraid of them.
Frankie also has a NEW 28-page activity book that is available appropriately titled, Frankie, the Walk 'N Roll Dog Activity Book. It is filled with crossword puzzles, word searches, mazes, coloring pages, and more. All to reinforce the message from her book about compassion, kindness, and overcoming adversity.
YVONNE: How long did it take to write this book? Any interesting tidbits about your writing method or how the book developed?
BARBARA: Writing, editing, and illustrations took a total of eleven months. At the time I was writing this book I belonged to a Women's Writing Circle. They gave me the courage and confidence to pursue writing Frankie's story. I set up a schedule and would write for one hour three days a week. As the story came together, and especially during the editing process, I was so hooked on getting the story written. It was magical during the editing process to see the book come to life. I thought I would not like the editing process, but I came to love it.
The illustration process was another magical time. Words are powerful, but when you pair them with illustrations, you see your life being played out in front of your eyes. It was fascinating! Watching the book come together from typed pages, to illustrations, to a book layout was one of the most beautiful times of my life.
YVONNE: How did you publish your book? Tell me about your publishing experience and what you learned from it.
BARBARA: I decided to self-publish (SP). I created a publishing company called Joyful Paw Prints. I researched SP and going the traditional publishing route. From what I learned, I felt it could be years before (and if) a publisher would accept my story. It was just too important to wait. I had an intense knowing that I needed to get this story out, and I believed if it was meant to be, then God and the universe would guide me. Also, Frankie is almost ten years old, and to have waited might have meant her not being here if I had to wait for a publisher. I was eager and ready to have my book in hand, and start visiting our local schools with Frankie.
I knew SP would be a lot of work, though I didn't realize how much work! Ha! But I wouldn't change a thing. I once heard an author say if you decide to SP you better be passionate about your book to keep you going through the low times. It is so true. Another true statement is that publishing a book and getting it out into the world is a day-by-day venture. Each day you must do something to promote your book. Getting your name out there does not happen overnight. You have to stick with it.
I think you have to determine what your goals are and then decide what is best for you as far as what publishing route you will take. SP for me has been a big learning curve, but it has also been some of the most exhilarating learning of my life.
YVONNE: Where is your book available? Do you have a Web site or blog where we can learn more about you or your book?
BARBARA: I have a Web site and a blog, and Frankie also has her own blog.
My book is also available through Amazon.
YVONNE: Tell me some ways you have promoted your book. Give examples and links to any sites you feel might help other authors.
BARBARA: I promote through Facebook and Frankie has her own group page, which is: http://www.facebook.com/inbox/?ref=mb#/group.php?gid=93350378942
I use Twitter also with an account for myself and one for Frankie which are http://www.twitter.com/joyfulpaws and http://www.twitter.com/walknrolldog
To learn about using the internet I have two resources that are really helpful to me:
Book Marketing in the Digital Age by Yvonne Perry (and I'm not just promoting this book because Yvonne is hosting me on her blog. I truly believe in everything Yvonne teaches and shares).
The Savvy Book Marketer's Guide to Successful Social Marketing by Dana Lynn Smith is another great resource.
I have found book marketing guru John Kremer to be helpful too. His Web site is loaded with information on helping you market your book.
For the month of June I did a Virtual Blog Tour with Nikki Leigh, marketing extraordinaire. Nikki and her assistant have been fantastic in lining up blogs for me to visit and share Frankie's story.
I have also used Skype to do a Q & A with a school in Canada and I hope to do more in the future.
Another great promotional thing to do is to create a book trailer for your book. I had Tayrn Simpson do my video and then posted it on You Tube, as well as Teacher Tube.
Locally, I promote the book by sending flyers to area schools offering to share my presentations and bring Frankie to visit. I have done very well with those. I have also done speaking engagements for women's organizations, churches, libraries, and book stores.
I've also done radio shows focusing on animals shows. And have also done some local TV.
YVONNE: Any other comment you would like to share?
BARBARA: I would like to encourage anyone who has a story in them to tell it. I think too often we keep our stories inside, afraid a publisher may never publish our story. I truly believe there are so many wonderful messages and stories to be shared. Personally, I think we are living in a great time as authors with the Internet as such a viable tool for getting our story into the world. And, I also believe if you have the passion and the drive to write your story, you too, can self-publish.
When I set out on this journey it wasn't about being a New York Times bestseller. It was about touching the lives God meant for me to touch with Frankie's story. It has been all that and more. Don't let your story die inside of you. Write it, share it, and see where it will take you. For me, I may never be rich in monetary value from sharing Frankie's story, but I am rich in friends I have met along the way and the things I have learned. I have experienced such joy during the whole process of my first book, and I'm so grateful for every moment of this journey.
My best to each of you on this amazing journey called life! Thank you so much, Yvonne, for hosting me on your blog!!
YVONNE: Thank you, Barbara, for giving us the opportunity to get to know you and learn about your book. I wish you well in your journey as an author.
Thank you for reading about Barbara Techel and Frankie the Walk 'n Roll Dog. To learn more, and to order a copy of this multi-award winning picture book, please visit http://www.joyfulpaws.com/
Other Sites to Check Out:
Barbara's Blog: http://joyfulpaws.typepad.com/
Frankie's Blog: http://frankiethewalknrolldog.blogspot.com/
To See the Tour Schedule:
There will be a SPECIAL OFFER FOR VISITORS TO THE VIRTUAL BLOG TOUR. Each guest who comments on a post in Barbara and Frankie's tour (that's right here on this blog) will be entered in a drawing for some fun, unique gifts that will especially appeal to Frankie fans and other dog lovers. We will give away several items from Frankie's store: http://www.cafepress.com/Joyfulpaws. These include two Frankie t-shirts and two Frankie tote bags.
About Barbara Techel
Barbara is a writer and animal lover. Her column, "For the Love of Animals" has appeared in the Depot Dispatch. Frankie the Walk 'n Roll dog, her first children's book, was awarded the 2008 National Best Book Award (children’s picture book soft cover) by USA Book News, the Merial Human-Animal Bond Award by Dog Writer’s Association of America, and the Editor’s Choice Award by Allbooks Review. It was also a finalist in the 2008 Indie Excellence Awards. Frankie herself was inducted into the 2009 Wisconsin Pet Hall of Fame.
About Frankie the Walk 'n Roll Dog
Frankie is a dachshund, and this story is told from her point of view. She survives the normal challenges of puppyhood, including a struggle with house training, after Barbara and John adopt her. After a spinal injury, her human family nurtures her through a long period of rehabilitation and buys her a custom-fitted wheelchair. It takes a while to adapt to her new wheels, but soon she is joyfully rolling and playing.Barbara wrote this book to offer hope and inspiration to people who face challenges. A lifelong animal lover, she realized Frankie's paralysis was an opportunity to spread a positive message.