February 24, 2015 @ 2:21 PM


Dog 281 and More Than a Number


This month my second novel is being released. Usually the cover of a sequel book looks similar to that of the book it follows. Not so with More Than a Number, the sequel to Dog 281

I liked the cover of Dog 281, but I can’t tell you how many times I heard, “I couldn’t read a book with such a sad cover.”

I found myself responding with, “It has a happy ending or don’t judge a book by its cover.” 

The reaction to the cover differed depending on the gathering. It didn’t bother attendees at the Pet Expo, especially those in rescue. People at non-pet events, such as the Women’s Expo, were usually the ones who found the cover too sad.

What I really felt like saying was, “You don’t know what sad is, if you think a photo of a beagle in a cage is sad. The beagle is apparently well fed and healthy. You can’t count her every bone. There isn’t a multi-prong plug surgically implanted in her head. She doesn’t have a cone over her face so she can be forced to inhale toxic fumes including cigarette smoke. She’s not restrained so substances can be dripped into her eyes to see if said substances cause irritation or blindness. Now those things would be sad.”

Thanks to Kristina VanOss, the cover of More Than a Number, the sequel to Dog 281, has a happier cover. Kristina rescues cats and is an illustrator. She read the manuscript, and after much discussion, came up the artwork that is the cover. 

Dog 281 was ten years in the writing. More Than a Number, was written in less than two years.

Dog 281 was my first novel, and I lacked know-how and confidence.  Plus, during those ten years, I went through a devastating divorce, both my parents died of cancer, my job as a free-lance writer at the Grand Rapids Press evaporated, and I started Cats and Dogs, a Magazine Devoted to Companion Animals.

But every spring when I heard the spring peepers in the swamp next to my home, I was reminded of the opening scene I had written in Dog 281. So I continued.

With More Than a Number, a friend who was studying to be a personal coach needed someone with who to practice her new skills. I volunteered to be her guinea pig.  See how ingrained the misuse of animals are in our vocabulary? 

JoAnn suggested I break the book into doable chunks. We came to a 1,000-word-a-day goal. My goal was 80,000 words, and once I got into the rhythm of writing every day, it didn’t take long. Which is easy to say now.

So if you happen to be at any of the events listed on the Calendar, please stop in and say hi. And whatever you do, don’t tell me the covers are sad!


Janet V0rmittag