Author Kelly Preston introduces us to Mr. MaGoo!
J: Welcome, Kelly, thanks for joining us for April’s spotlight on children and young adult novel authors. Please tell us a little about yourself and how you became a writer?
KP: My name is Kelly Preston. To say that I have a passion and a special place in my heart for animals; especially with those that have special needs, would be an understatement. I grew up having dogs, horses and even a bunny. All through my childhood and early adult years, I had at least a dog or a horse. Then, in my early thirties, the dog I had at that time, Gizmo, developed a brain tumor. One may say from that point, fate was set as a foundation for what would happen to me over the next years; however, it was unbeknownst to me at that time. Through the years, I became the very proud parent of four dogs; all having special needs. However, my experience with a loved one having a special need, started way before my beloved four dogs; it all began with my late brother Shawn, he was a Down’s Syndrome child. At the time I didn’t realize the path, as I became much older and mature, I saw and recognized the correlation. It was at that moment, I knew I had been blessed in so many and numerous ways.
As I grew and learned from my four dogs, one day I had an “ah ha” moment; I wanted to share my journey with others, especially Young Adults. I decided to write Real Dogs Don’t Whisper; share life lessons that those with special needs can teach us. I wanted to avoid the book becoming too heavy, I thought it would be wonderful to have my co-author, Mr MaGoo, share his experiences from a dog’s point of view. He brings unlimited humor to our journey, while I bring a spiritual message.
JA: Mr. MaGoo is such a great character. I have found that my Backyard Horse Tales series though written for middle grades has crossed over to the adult readers. Have you had a similar experience?
KP: My primarily focus is Young Adults; however, with a strong crossover. I have had both mature men and women read the book as well as YA with all genres stating they have thoroughly enjoyed our journey. One common theme I have been receiving, the book has helped inspire women that are facing challenges; whether going through separation or ridicule at work. Another item is the book has helped those to step back and examine what is important in their life; discussed throughout the book, core values that are most important to have and maintain for healthy relationships (professional or personal).
J: Kelly do you have other published works?
KP: Not yet; however, I am brainstorming another book to follow this one. This was my first book and this has been an incredible experience. Mr MaGoo is anxious to get behind the keyboard. Until then, he writes a blog, Mr MaGoo’s Shenanigans; a monthly newsletter, Mr MaGoo’s Corner ; and, maintains his Facebook page. I keep him busy so he doesn’t get into too much trouble. Of course, he will tell you that he is a pawlebrity and his fans want to hear from him.
J: That is so great, and fun too. I have a regular post from our little Haflinger filly, and followers really seem to like Bella’s take on the world. Do you ever use a pen name?
KP: No; Mr MaGoo and I use are “true” names
J: Are your books available in print, e-book, or both? Have you ever tried converting a book to audio?
KP: Real Dogs Don’t Whisper is available in both formats; with the onset of digital, is in the best interest to offer both formats as more and more tablets are becoming available for readers. I have often thought about converting our eBook into audio, my challenge is; who should be the voice over for Mr MaGoo? Perhaps Owen Wilson? Mr MaGoo has an unique personality; he comes out in the book and the voice for his chapters would need to compliment his colorful side.
J: Kelly, how much of the marketing do you do for your book(s), and for yourself as a brand?
A: 100%; I have experience as a digital marketer and have been able to apply those learning’s for the marketing of “Real Dogs Don’t Whisper”. From web site marketing (search related efforts) to social media efforts (Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, YouTube) to press releases to events. The marketing I do is under Real Dogs Don’t Whisper as I beginning to build brand equity and awareness and it is very important to keep the momentum.
J: Lets turn to the mechanics of writing for a moment, Kelly. Do you spend a lot of time plotting your stories, or do you just run with it?
KP: I would have to say it is a blend of both. There are times when I go in planning mode; for instance, planning on the second book. However, there are times when something just comes to me and it is usually great content for social media efforts. I have found the level of engagement with influencers is also mixed; knowing this strategy helps me delegate which copy and content to upload.
J: Is much time required in research, or do you write strictly from experience?
KP: I write from experience and I take that and try to set it in tone that others will be able to relate, digest, and perhaps apply in their live as well. If I am able to assist someone based on my past experiences; providing them a positive avenue or path to take, that is priceless.
J: Kelly, what Point of view do you feel most comfortable with, first person or third?
KP: I am most comfortable with first person. And, Mr MaGoo speaks only in first person; after all, it is his world and we just live in it.
J: Are there any writing-related websites that you have found useful?
KP: I have found Dreams Aloud Promotion to be very helpful; they daily update writers with articles that have excellent advice and insight.
J: Are you on any forums or networking sites? Do you find them helpful?
KP: I have several that I highly recommend is GoodReads.com. This site supports other writers and has tools that are very useful (quizzes for instance). I have found pet related sites that are excellent: Pet Sense, BarkleyandPaws, and, JoyfulPaws; all three offer community support, pet related blogs, sharing of social media assets and much more.
J: Kelly, what do you think the future holds for a writer?
AP: It is the world of digital and this means exciting new opportunities for writers. As technology advances and tablets become more interactive; imagine a chapter coming “to life”? It is a brave new world for writers and the possibilities are endless.
J: Thank you, Kelly, for taking time from your writing to participate in this blog. I wish you all the best with your book and future projects. Before you go please share some of your writing with our readers.
Mr. MaGoo weighs in!
WAHOOOOO!! I’m a dog writer, I’m a dog writer. Writing up a storm. I am loving life today! The human had to go out of town on business (whatever that means) and we are home alone with the sitter. Home alone, Home-a-lone! Life is good; we’re home alone!!!
And, get this, because the dog sitter is here—I have a personal assistant today. I told her all about my book and she was amazed. I also told her that I required doggy treats every hour on the hour. Such a beautiful, naïve thing. Though admittedly she is quite kind and loving and does everything in her power to please me and help care for my sisters. Whatever the human is paying her, I’m sure it’s not enough.
What are “business trips” and why does the human take them? Where does she go? Why can’t she do her business right here like the rest of us? How long will she be gone? How much writing can I get done in the interim? When the human’s away, the dogs shall play!
Well kids—might as well get down to the matter at hand. I have the human’s notes right here in front me. She was planning on using this chapter to tell you all about Betty Boop. As if she could possibly know more about Betty Boop than I do! Please.
I’ve skimmed through the whole shebang and I don’t see a lot of worthwhile material. So—I’m pitching her impressions and starting from scratch. You can thank me later.
About the Author
Kelly Preston is, first and foremost, an animal lover. Raised on a tenacre property in a small town in Pennsylvania, she grew up with horses, rabbits, and – of course – dogs. When she left home after college, she acquired Gizmo, an irresistible Lhasa Apso that started her on a journey full of joys and sorrows, hopes and tribulations, frustrations, endless lessons in patience, and above all else, love. All of this has come at the hands (more precisely the paws) of Gizmo, Betty Boop, Buffy, Carla Mae, and the inimitable Mr. MaGoo.
Mr. MaGoo is a nine-year-old Lhasa Apso and the book’s co-creator and co-writer. He is, in his own words, “the alpha and omega of all dogs – in the cutest and sparkiest, most fun-loving package ever.” Ignoring Kelly’s persistent eye-rolling, Mr. MaGoo has forged ahead with this project in an attempt to, as he puts it, “present the facts from a dog’s perspective. In other words, the correct, most accurate, most interesting, only-one-that-matters perspective,” to which he adds, simply, “Woof!”