November is National Novel Writing Month (NaNo) as well as Adopt-a-Senior-Pet Month. As a writer of inspirational pet stories for children and adults, I weave my love for animals and my enjoyment of writing together. I am excited for November! I’m participating in NaNo this year; I missed last year due to writing deadlines for several magazine and newspaper articles I was working on. This month I also have some articles due, but not until later in the month and not as many as last year due to finishing them in October for a November 1 deadline. Therefore, NaNo, here I come! (maybe at a “gale-force!”)
I have two projects I desire to complete, both of which were started a few years ago. One is what I call a “pet rescue romance.” I developed the idea about three years ago while taking a fiction writing course at my local community college. The instructor, Mary Billiter, is a published writer of newspaper columns and fiction stories. Several in the class write in the romance genre, as does Mary with her fiction stories. As I learned romance is a leading seller, I thought I’d give it a shot. But, I also wanted to weave my passion for pets into the work with hopes of doing something else I enjoy: educating people about pet rescue. So, I began this new journey. But, I quit within a few months of the class ending. This style is out of my writing box, out of my comfort zone. However, as I’ve shared the idea with writer friends, I’ve been encouraged it’s a story that interests people and should be written. So, as November dawned, here I go, diving back into it.
My second goal is to finish another work I started more than five years ago: a dog rescue story for children. Based on a true story about a dog I helped transport for Big Dogs Huge Paws, a large-breed dog rescue group in Colorado, this relates the tale of a dog abandoned by its owner and taken into rescue then later adopted. Again, my desire is to educate people (in this case children and their families) about pet rescue. I’ve even spoken to leaders at Big Dogs Huge Paws on how we might collaborate to bring them additional funds through the sale of the book and hopefully also more volunteers for the rescue organization. But, I need to finish the book first.
NaNo will help me complete the projects and continue in the vein I enjoy: pet stories (albeit one story out of my comfort zone). The pet passion has stayed with me since childhood, and writing provides opportunity to increase awareness of and need for people to help pets. According to the ASPCA (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) nearly eight million dogs and cats enter animal shelters and rescues annually, and many of them don’t leave. Only about 35 percent of shelter animals are adopted; sadly, many shelters kill healthy animals that don’t get adopted to make room for another sad statistic: additional animals coming through the doors. Pet ownership responsibility and community needs for rescues and shelters are lessons I hope readers learn from my works, whether those readers are children or adults. Weaving writing with pets, pet ownership responsibility, and animal rescue is one way I can serve the causes for which I’m passionate.
Pets and writing make an ideal partnership for me as an author. With NaNo, I plan to achieve my writing goals and complete these two works. Blow ye winds, hi-ho – off to writing more pet stories I go!
Gayle M. Irwin is a Wyoming writer, author, and speaker. She is the author of several inspirational pet stories for children and adults, including a chapter book called Sage's Big Adventure, a kid's activity book titled Cody's Cabin: Life in a Pine Forest, and two memoirs: Walking in Trust: Lessons Learned from My Blind Dog and her latest: Tail Tales: Stories of Pets Who Touched My Heart and Impacted My Life. She is also a contributing writer to several editions of Chicken Soup for the Soul and is one of the featured writers in Memories from Maple Street U.S.A: Pawprints on My Heart, released by Sundown Press. She has new children's works forthcoming and will be on the booksigning circuit in Wyoming and Montana during November and December. Learn more at www.gaylemirwin.com.