The story of Rodger Dodger Dog.
In 1986 I had to drive my children to a new town to start school at their new school. It was a 45 minute drive, which can become boring. On our drive we would pass a beagle type dog chained to a huge Magnolia tree. On some days we would see the chain hanging down from the tree. I think we just assumed the dog was in the house until one day we realized he was up in the tree. From that day on Rodger Dodger Dog as we called him became a favorite. As we passed him every day I would start telling a story about Rodger Dodger's adventures up the tree and beyond. Because I am so dyslexic the stories had to rhyme so I could remember them from day to day. They also started the same to get me going.
Years passed and we would often talk about Rodger Dodger Dog and recall his stories. One day in 2008,1 received a phone call from my daughter Kelly who had young children of her own. She was complaining her son Dalton brought home a book from pre-school that didn't make sense to him or her. She wanted me to write down the Rodger Dodger Dog stories so she could share them with her children. I of course immediately sat down and started writing. Thank goodness the stories had been in rhyme. I sent the finished copy to my daughter and waited to get the phone call that would tell me how much my grandchildren loved my stories. It never came. When I called her to ask her, she told me she was embarrassed to call me. Her children were so small they really needed to see illustrations to keep their interest. So being the good Gammy that I am I set out to find an illustrator.
Since the stories were called The Adventures of Rodger Dodger Dog, I wanted to have action in my illustrations. I found just what I was looking for on line in the form of Mike Swaim... a wonderful cartoonist. We connected right away, Rodger Dodger Dog was born. When Mike was done with the illustrations I made up a book to re-send to my grandchildren. Needless to say they loved it. They took it to school and the teachers loved it. They shared it with other friends and they loved it. Dalton's teacher told my daughter to tell me to get them published. I of course wasn't too sure. I thought they were cute and I loved the illustrations but publish?? I wasn't convinced. I had 20 stories and it had been so many years since I had been in school I thought I should at least try and re-learn punctuation. I signed up at an Edison college for a workshop through the local writers association. That night I was the only person who showed up for the workshop... It was great. Professor Hoeck sat down with me and went through my stories with me. After we were done he said I should get them published. I told him it wasn't in my plans, but he told me to do it anyway.
January of 2009,1 am now a member of SCBWI and The Peace River Center for Writers. I have the Children's Book Writers and Illustrators Market in front of me. I research editors, I send out manuscripts to a select few, only to find out when I get my SCBWI updated magazine the editors I have sent to are gone, downsized, no longer in the publishing business. I was shocked. In some cases even their imprints were no longer in print. I showed my husband what was happening and he urged me to self-publish, which is exactly what I did.
Since my decision to self-publish I haven't looked back. I have four books out with six stories in print. I have a Super-sized Rodger Dodger Dog that travels with me to school appearances. I have three smaller Rodger Dodgers who travel around the world promoting reading. They get shipped to host families who in turn take pictures of him and write in his journal. They post the pictures on his Facebook fan page. Rodger has been across the U.S., to the Great Wall of China and Costa Rica. He will be leaving for Lochlelly Scotland shortly. Rodger Dodger Dog is the mascot for The Animal Welfare League of Charlotte County, Florida. He has his own theme song and he was invited up to Best Friends Pet Care at Walt Disney World to shoot a YouTube video for them. They actually read his books to their guests!
What is next for Rodger? Because the stories run like movies in my head I have written two screenplays for The Adventures of Rodger Dodger Dog TV Cartoon series. With 20 stories and counting, I can certainly fill at least one season or more.
I of course plan on publishing several more books.
When other writers tell me I have done everything wrong, self-publishing, getting an illustrator, etc. I just smile and tell them I know but it's how I get things done. I would still be sitting here with a box of manuscripts instead of a heart filled with wonderful memories.