6) What was your writing schedule for this project? Did you blog on the road and then turn it into a book? How long did it take to write?
My days were quite long. I'd usually write in the morning, sometimes finishing up a story I 'd started from the night before, but didn't finish because I'd collapsed in a heap in the cheap motel rooms Libby and I inhabited for eight weeks. Once I'd wrap it up, polish it and add a pic or two, the motel maids were banging on the door, so Libby and I'd scare up some food and hit the road again. We'd usually drive until just about sunset. I learned early on that I got really tired and spooked when we were still out on the highway past dark. Sometimes I'd lose track of time though. I stopped to take a lot of random photos, more than 1,500 to be exact, and lots of videos, many of which are on my website, jeanellenwhatley-dot-com. So, I wrote nearly every day. I'd jot down ideas, or dictate them into my iPhone.
When my stops involved family visits or staying with friends, I'd lose a day or two, here and there, although, truth be told, I was often the only one up at night, long after my hosts had gone to bed, posting my road stories with my dog. Certainly many of the stories from the blog migrated to the book, but once home, I had to figure out what and in what order those 64 blog posts would fit together in a story arc. I'd find myself completely rewriting and then stop and say to myself, "hey! I already wrote this!" And I'd go check out my own blog and found it was better the first time. It was more raw. It was real. It's okay when you plagiarize yourself, you know. I got back from my Off the Leash journey on Labor Day, 2011. I had a rough draft by Memorial Day, spent the better part of 12 weeks rewriting, editing, proofreading and one year later, on Labor Day 2012, my publisher sent my uploaded my revised manuscript to the printer. There were a lot of nights I closed the Webster University library at midnight.
7) What did you feed Libby on the road?
I fed her dog food, plain hamburgers and pancakes and sausage.
8) What advice do you have for writers?
Don't over think it. Just write. Do it for your own edification and if you're lucky, maybe someone will respond to it. That's dessert.
9) What’s next for you?
In the planning stages of a summer book tour, Off the Leash: The Journey's Just Begun -- where I will be traveling around the country doing book talks at indy book stores and dog shelters/rescue organizations and writing about the people I meet. More soon!
10) Is there anything you would like to add?
The St. Louis writing community has been very generous and supportive of my efforts and I am very indebted. We need the support and encouragement and I am eager to give back in any way I can. We're all crazy, you know. We gotta take care of each other, like I say in the book, we're all in this together. Also, if people would like to see a brief video snippet, here's one I call, The Joy You Give, You Get.
Thanks so much, Jean, and good luck with the book tour!