Boo Hoo! 
My, does time fly or what?!? Itís been more than two months since I last added to this blog, and for that I should be duly flogged. Itís not that I havenít had anything to say, but rather Iíve had too much to do. If that sounds like an excuse itís because it is, although not a very good one. Regardless, I am still waiting, waiting, waiting patiently to hear about the status of the wolf book. Usually I send out a manuscript to several publishers at once to maximize possibilities, but this time I had a good feeling about the publisher. Weíll have to see if that feeling was well-founded. While the wait goes on, I have been very busy getting the Duniway book ready for printing. Most of the work has involved communicating by e-mail with the illustrator. I divided the words into pages and made suggestions to her about the illustrations that would go on each page. She then made rough sketches of the illustrations and sent them to me. I looked over the illustrations and checked to make sure the details in the sketches were accurate. An example: One illustration shows wagons heading west, being pulled by horses. This had to be changed because most of the wagons were pulled by oxen. What? Not a big deal, you say? Well, itís not really, compared with suicide bombers or people starving or learning that you have a incurable disease. But still, this is a book about a real person living in a real time of history so weíd like to make it accurate. Thatís why it is so important to have communication between the writer and the illustrator. One book I worked on Ė a biography of Christopher Columbus Ė was very frustrating because I was not allowed to communicate directly with the illustrator. The result was that the book was not as accurate as it could have been. It was a hard lesson, indeed, but a lesson learned.

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Think I'm dressed up as a wolf for Halloween today? Good idea, but I don't have the costume. I do have a wonderful toucan hat, so I've been wearing that to welcome the ghouls and goblins that have been coming to my door.
The wait continues for the wolf book, and will for some time. As I mentioned, I am researching other places to send it. I'm also getting ready to self-publish a book. It's a book I wrote a while back, but didn't get picked up by a publisher. What I was told by several houses was that the topic was more of a regional interest than a national interest. The topic I wrote on was a fascinating and fabulous woman named Abigail Scott Duniway, who traveled west on the Oregon Trail, then fought the rest of her hard life for women's rights (is this a topic of limited interest?!?). After forty years of Duniway and others working for equal rights, women in Oregon finally won the right to vote, and guess which woman had the honor of being the first to register in her county? You got it!!
Anyway, it's a good story and one kids need to hear. It's a story about fairness, and what kid doesn't know or care about that issue. So, I'm working with a foundation to get it published and distributed to kids around the area. The plan is not to sell it, but to give it away using sponsorships by businesses to finance it. Several businesses have already shown an interest in the project. More to come later...

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Manuscript sent! 
Okay, all is done and I just sent off the manuscript to a publisher. Like most projects, it's a long shot, but every moment I worked on this book has been worth it, whether it is published or not.
Let's all think good thoughts. While I wait for an answer, I will research more publishers to send it to.

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Time to refine 
Okay, so I sent the wolf text to the Howling Acres folks. Then I traveled down there to talk with them and get their feedback. They really liked the text, but had some suggestions, too. Thank goodness...I want the text better so I really want suggestions. One of the suggestions I got was to add information about the sounds wolves make. Not only do wolves howl, growl, and bark, but they also whine, woof, yelp, moan, squeal, squeak, and even scream. I sure didn't know that, and I bet most others don't either. So, I will add those details to the text. After adding them, my next step will be to go back and start smoothing over the text. That means reading it aloud then changing words to make it more clear and sound better.

As far as the illustrations go, I'm planning to use photographs. I take some every time I go to Howling Acres, and they have provided me with a lot too. I'll have to find the best ones then match them with the text. But, that will come later. I need to find a publisher interested in the book first. To do that, I send our letters, called queries, to tell publishers about the book. If they have an interest, I'll send them the text to read. If they're still interested, then then send me a contract and we work together to make a book. It's an exciting process, but lots of work too, and no guarantee that a publisher will want it.

The truth is, the chances are slim that a publisher will take it, but the way I look at it is that a slim chance is a whole lot better than no chance. And being that this book has important information that I really feel needs to be shared, I'm willing to try - and keep trying - to find a publishing home for it.

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Working draft 
A good day today. I finished the draft for the wolf book. It's about 20 pages long, including the resource section. Does this mean I'm done? Hahahahahaha. No way! It's just a step beyond start. Basically, it's the information I want to share in an organized format. I'll need to do lots more refining, and probably some adding. I'm sending the text to the folks at Howling Acres today. They are going to look at it and give me their feedback. Are they going to make suggestions? I hope so; that will make the book better. When I show my writing to someone and ask for feedback, I love it when they tell me how great it is, especially the specific parts they like. But what's even better (and more helpful) is when people tell me what the writing needs in order to be better.

When I work with young writers, many tell me they don't like it when others make suggestions about their work. They take comments about their writing personally, get defensive, and sometimes even stop listening. It's too bad when this happens because the writer loses out on a great opportunity to improve. And, believe me, we can all stand to improve!

So, off goes the text to Howling Acres. I'll meet with them sometime soon to go over their comments. And, I will do my best to hear all their suggestions. Stay tuned...

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Writin' On 

I am working hard on the draft for the wolf book. Each day, before I write anything new, I reread what I've written already and make changes. Then I proceed with new parts. This works pretty well for me. I polish the old and add the new. Came across another great source, a book by David Mech, so I'm adding information I'm getting from it. More writing tomorrow. Can't wait!

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Thanks for the questions! Here are some answers:

Each of the wolves at Howling Acres gets five pounds of meat a day. This comes in the form of raw hamburger, steaks, or other cuts of beef. All the meat is donated. Each of the wolf compounds has a 50 gallon feeder that is filled with dry dog food. This food is also donated. The facility uses 350 pounds of dry dog food every week. The wolves also drink lots and lots of water - each animal drinks about 10 gallons a day!

No, wolves do not howl at the moon. That is a myth. Wolves also do not climb down chimneys after little pigs nor dress up like little old ladies to feed upon young girls. Through the ages, wolves have gotten a really bad rap.

Yes, wolves can be kept as pets but they must be licensed. Each state has its own licensing requirements for "exotic" animals. The folks at Howling Acres do not advise owning wolves as pets. Wolves are generally untrainable and unpredictable.

The wolves at Howling Acres are there because they were abused or abandoned. They cannot be returned to the wild. These animals have not learned to hunt, so they would likely starve. Or, since people have fed them, the wolves would seek out people. This would not be a good thing.

Check out the sanctuary's website at They would appreciate any support you could provide.

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Here's a bit more about Beasely: at sixteen, he was one of the oldest wolves in captivity. He was taken to the sanctuary in 1999 by the California/Oregon Border Patrol after they had confiscated him from his owner, who had no license or permit for the wolf. Beasely was blind; both eyes had been gouged out by his owner. Beasely was able to live out his life at Howling Acres safely and in peace. There is no better example of the need for sanctuaries than this wolf.
I will be heading back to Howling Acres later this week. If you have any questions about wolves, feel free to e-mail me at and I will try to get them answered.

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A Pause 
Sad news from Howling Acres: two of their wolves recently died. Shy, a seven-year-old Arctic Timber wolf was found one morning dead in her pen. Her mate, Beasely, lay next to her, his head resting on her body. The next day, he passed too. The vet said that Shy's death was caused by a bleeding heart. And Beasely? No doubt a broken heart. The more I learn about these animals the more fascinated I become. They are very special beings that have been much maligned. I am glad to be working on this project now, and I'll be headed back to the sanctuary soon.

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Wolf Fever! 
The wolf book idea has been swirling around me, despite all the other things I've been doing: working, sailing, sleeping. I think it's a good basic topic that could be developed into something really good. So, I've been reading about wolves and thinking of questions that I want answered. I recently made another trip to Howling Acres to tape record an interview with the owners. It's a interesting story about a couple who are devoting their lives to helping abused, injured, and abandoned wolves. After the interview I got to spend some time with the wolves, up close and personal. What a thrill!
Since I got back home, I've been reading about wolves as well as going over my notes and the tape I made. Soon, I'll brainstorm everything I would like included in a book about wolves. After that, I'll carefully consider the list, select the most important things, then put them in an order that makes sense. Next comes more research, additional interviews, and lots of reading. Finally, it's time to write. I find the more planning and organizing I do, the easier the writing is.

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