View Full Version : A story idea - where to start??

10-21-2005, 12:33 AM
Hello animal writers!

Now that Anne (awatkins) has lured me to this board (thanks again!) I have a question for you animal writers.

My heart has a story it wants to write, non-fiction, regarding my life with my dog Sammy. I'm just not sure where to start, or do I gear it more towards an animal "magazine" or towards publishing an actual book? If I decide towards publishing, would it be the kind of book a publisher would look at, or would self-publishing be the route?

The gist of the story? I rescued Sammy from a local animal shelter at 6 months of age, shortly thereafter he began suffering seizures, which then turned into a battle against progressive epilepsy for the next 2 years. In the end, maybe, we rescued each other. The story would be geared around our experiences, the treatments and medications, his life, my life, our life together, good times and bad, and making a choice to end his suffering and say an incredibly hard good-bye at the end. Healing, and moving on.

Does anyone have any ideas for me??? It's a story in my heart, that I want to share with other animal lovers. Heck, I get choked up thinking of him still. I can't believe it's been 2 years he's been gone, he sometimes seems as though he is still right next to me.



10-21-2005, 03:29 AM
Oh, great topic! Thoughts, anyone?

My idea, at first glance: This is a compelling story, certainly suitable for an article. Possible markets might include shelter publications, dog magazines, family and inspirational/essay markets. More thoughts later. :)

10-21-2005, 08:39 AM
Thanks! But do you think magazines - or would a book be a good idea? Or both?

What is my aim, my final goal? To inspire people that it's OK to love and care for a pet who has a debilitating condition, what life can be like (for you, and him), the trials and rewards, and that it's OK to say good-bye (and how I reached that point) when it's time... And maybe intermixing a few personal things that my Sammers helped me through, some really rough times (though, not sure I should even include that), and how things come full circle, and that it's never really the end...

Thanks, again. :)


10-21-2005, 09:19 AM
Well, Denise, I just about choked up by reading your post cause I had a dog named Sammy too--no kidding, my first ever dog as a thirteen year old boy. What a story, with a tragic ending.

I think Awatkins has got the proper advice for you--magazine non-fic article/story. I think it would be incredibly hard to do a full book-length treatment here--not that the story isn't vital, heartwarming or significant, but I've only seen some very exceptional cases like Old Yeller, and An American Legend (about seabiscuit) and some others that were about dogs and their owners. Another one comes to mind--Where the Red Fern Grows, and I'm sure there are some other classics.

Could you novelize your idea and inject Sammy in there as a main player? This might work. I used a delighful Irish Wolfhound in my recent science fiction novel, who had the name Snarzler, and dang it, he was vital to the plot of the whole book, so I got the chance to showcase him as a hero.


10-21-2005, 06:22 PM
Hey, Tri - thanks for the input. Appreciated. Do you, or anyone, have any mag ideas for "this" type of article? Doesn't really seem to fit the calendar for mags like Dog Fancy, Dog & Kennel, etc. Would you have any ideas for me?

Oh, and I ahve laughed and cried my way through Old Yeller, An American Legend, Where the Red Fern Grows, and many others more than once. My copies of a couple of those books are old and well-worn. :) Has your recent sci fi novel starring Snarzler been published as yet? I'd be interested in checking it out!


10-22-2005, 12:40 AM
Gosh, I've been out of the magazine markets for 15 years, so I couldn't even hazzard a guess on that. I will say that your story was a prime candidate for our recent Stories of Strength book that we put together on this very AW forum just recently. I don't know if you missed that or not. I think some of your animal lover writers might be more inclined to know which big slick mags are taking such material at present.

No, I'm still shopping that book around. I hope Snarzler will make his debute soon; I'd love that.


10-22-2005, 12:46 AM
Oh, yeah, and talk about getting misty eyed with animal book/movies:

Mighty Joe Young
Joy Adamson and her Elsa (my first crush on a woman)
Anything by James Herriet (sp?)
Gorrillas in the Mist


10-22-2005, 01:12 AM
Favorite animal movies/books! Wow, Tri, you should start a thread on here just for that! :)

One of my favorite movies is Paulie. The main character is a Blue-crown conure just like my little Rio. I cry like a baby every time I watch it. Rio gets quite annoyed with me when I get his feathers wet. :ROFL:

10-22-2005, 05:34 AM
I would suggest breaking your story into more than one nonfiction piece.

Perhaps an essay on how he touched your life; another on making the decision and saying the final goodbye to your pet; another on helping folks help themselves when grieving for a pet; yet another. . .a how to for folks who have pets with epilepsy . . .what to expect throughout the process, symptoms, what to do for seizures, cost prohibitive for some people? to have an epileptic pet, and so on.

Read magazine guidelines closely. There are lots of dog/animal mags out there that do not want "me and my dog" or "my special dog" stories. Saves a lot of querying time if you know up front exactly what a magazine is looking for.

Good luck.

10-27-2005, 04:41 PM
Thanks again to each of you for sharing your thoughts and ideas!