Friday, October 21, 2011

Author Interview: Bobbie Pyron + Giveaway (US & CA)

I am so happy to welcome Bobbie Pyron to Small Review today! Bobbie is here to talk about her inspiring publication journey (which I asked about because I'm a total snoop and I love getting the inside scoop!) I was both touched and heartened reading Bobbie's post, and I hope you enjoy it as much as I have.

You can also check out my review of A Dog's Way Home.

Following My North Star

One day several years ago, I was hiking in the mountains with my dogs, Teddy (a Shetland Sheepdog) and Boo (a coyote mix), when the idea burst into my brain for the novel that would eventually become my second book, A Dog’s Way Home. A girl named Abby lost her beloved Shetland Sheepdog, Tam, after they competed in an agility competition in late fall in Virginia. I knew the dog would have to find his way four hundred-plus miles through the winter wilderness of the Blue Ridge Mountains to get back to “his girl.” I knew that, despite the odds and despite her parents belief to the contrary, Abby would never give up on her and Tam being together again. I knew all this (and more) when the dogs and I got back to the trailhead where my car was parked. As soon as we got home, I began to write.

Eight months later, I had a completed first draft of the book. I was very pleased with what I’d written, and my critique group assured me it was good. So, I took the next logical step: I sent my story out into the world. I sent the manuscript to editors and agents, and I took it to workshops and conferences to be critiqued. They more or less said the same thing: you “can’t” write a book for kids in this format. What had I done? I had written the book’s chapters in alternating points of view. Abby’s chapters were in first person. Tam’s chapters were in third person (third dog?). The critiques, editors, and agents said kids just wouldn’t “get” how the book was done! Some of the rejections said they connected more with Abby’s story, others said they wanted only Tam’s story. Couldn’t I please write it in a more conventional form, they asked?

I wrung my hands and lost faith in my own North Star. They must be right, I thought. What do I know? So I tried to re-write the book in a more conventional format. It felt so, so very wrong on every level. The story demanded to be told the way I’d originally written it. With a resigned yet resolved heart, I put the book away.

Now, I’m not one for clichés, but here’s one I will forever live by: it only takes one yes. At the encouragement of one of my critique group members, I queried an agent she’d recently heard speak. With very little hope of a good outcome, I queried her and sent her the first 50 pages of the manuscript. She asked to see the whole thing. Still not allowing myself to get hopeful (I’d been down this road too many times), I sent her the rest. Within a few days, she emailed me and said she loved the book and wanted to represent me! And most importantly, she believed in and trusted the way the book was written.

I won’t kid you. It took a while to find an editor who also believed in the way the book was written. Every now and then, my agent and I would toy with the idea of changing the format, but we never did. Oh we did make some rather interesting changes in Abby’s story, namely moving her from her safe, predictable world in the mountains of North Carolina to big city Nashville. When my agent suggested this drastic change for Abby (and her parents) I was resistant. What about Tam? He was, after all, on his way home! But she was right. Once I dug into the changes, I had a grand time with it. Not long after those revisions were made, my agent brought me that one other “yes” I’d been waiting for. Tam and Abby’s journey found a home at Katherine Tegen Books. In its original format, I might add.

I get a lot of fan email and talk to kids at school about A Dog’s Way Home. None of them can imagine the book being written any other way. They all find the two parallel stories equally compelling and absorbing. They relate to Abby and they cheer for Tam, and they cry and laugh with both. And that’s exactly the way my inner North Star guided me to write their story.

Bobbie Pyron calls A Dog's Way Home "my own personal love letter to all the great, classic dog books I've read and loved--and to all the dogs I've loved too." As a part-time librarian, Bobbie enjoys sharing dog stories and books of all kinds with readers.

You can visit Bobbie online at

--from the jacket flap

Have you ever been in a situation where other people caused you to doubt your original path? What did you do? How did things turn out for you? I'd love to hear your stories!

Can you think of any other books that would not have worked as well if their narration style had been changed?

Bobbie Pyron has generously provided a copy of A Dog's Way Home to give to one of you! The giveaway is open to US and Canadian addresses.

Click here to fill out the form!

Info for the giveaway:
  • As always, you do NOT have to be a follower
  • You must have a US or Canadian mailing address (or know someone with a US or Canadian address where the book can be sent)
  • You must be 13 years of age or older
  • Your address is not required, but including it will help with sending the book out to you sooner
  • If an address is not provided, the winner will have 24 hours to reply to my email with their address before a new winner is chosen
  • The giveaway will close November 2nd. The winner will be announced Friday November 4th in the Recap post

Be sure to check out all of the other tour stops to learn more about Bobbie, A Dog's Way Home, and for more chances to win!

The Wormhole Oct 3 & Oct 4
Pragmatic Mom Oct. 5                                          
A Patchwork of Books Oct.6 & Oct. 7
ReaderGirls Oct. 11 & Oct. 10
Mozi Esmé Oct. 12                                                               
Allison's Book Bag Oct. 13 & Oct. 14
Book Twirps Oct. 14                                          
The Brain Lair Oct. 17 & Oct. 18
In The Pages Oct. 19                                         
Small Review Oct. 20 & Oct. 21
Books and Needlepoint Oct. 24
Mad Moose Mama Oct. 24               


  1. Bobbie, good for you for sticking to your guns! As a writer I think one of the hardest things is navigating feedback, but only you know the story you want to tell and how you want to tell it. I'm glad you were able to get your book published in the way you wanted!

    Thanks for the giveaway!

  2. Facing all those people telling you to do it their way and sticking to your way took guts. I think when the story is right you know it. Then you just have to hope someone else knows it. According to Small's review, you did the right thing with the narration. She loved it that way!
    Congrats to you. Thanks for the giveaway!



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