Head and Tails of the Writing Life

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By Dana Mentink

Dana Dog 1September was hard at our house. We lost our beloved old dog, Nala. Nala was my shadow, my confidant and my writing partner. Wherever I was, she was there. After she passed, the house was empty and quiet, with only the sound of tapping keys on my keyboard. It took a long while for me to stop crying whenever I saw her empty bed or realize she was not there to greet me with those filmy eyes and that greying muzzle. When I could face the idea of getting another dog, we found Junie at Animal Rescue Foundation. Who would think that a scruffy faced, seven pound dog could teach me a thing or two about writing and life?

The first thing Junie taught me was that the view is always the same inside. At nine months old, she is on fire to go out into the world and sniff and wag at anything and everything. “Let’s go OOOUUUUUTTTTTT,” you can practically hear her say. “We’re too young to sit in a chair all day.” Good advice, Junie. Let’s take a break here in Chapter Three and go out for a walk.

Point number two, via Junie Mentink. If a thing is worth something, you can come back to it later. That bone she hid under the sofa? It’s gonna be even more amazing when she rediscovers it later this evening. Writing is like that, too. It’s better if you let it sit and revisit it later. Then you can dig deep, reexamine your work and create something savory indeed. Dana Dog 2

And the last point. No two dogs are the same. Oh how I still miss my darling Nala and for a while, I looked at Junie in astonishment, thinking, “Nala never did that!” So two creatures of the same species can be so different they are almost incomparable. And so too must my fiction characters be. That hero must be radically different than his counterpart in the previous book. That heroine, must be as unique and special as the person who reads all about her. Point taken, Junie!

Ironically, as we traveled through this experience of losing a dog and gaining another, dogs crept into all phases of my writing life. Working on a k-9 continuity for Love Inspired Suspense, and writing a three book dog themed series for Harvest House, my life was filled with both real and fictional canines. I guess my writing really has gone to the dogs!

Dana MentinkDana Mentink is a two time American Christian Fiction Writers Carol Award winner. She is the author of over thirty titles in the suspense and lighthearted romance genres. Her suspense novel, Betrayal in the Badlands, earned a Romantic Times Reviewer’s Choice Award and she has also been honored with a Holt Medallion Award of Merit. She is pleased to write for Harlequin’s Love Inspired Suspense and Harlequin Heartwarming. Besides writing, she busies herself teaching third grade. Mostly, she loves to be home with Papa Bear, Yogi, Boo Boo, an inquisitive puppy, a chubby box turtle and a feisty parakeet.

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