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Andrea Talmage is shown with her book "Pocket Dog Danny".
BOYCEVILLE — What’s a pocket dog?
Andrea Talmage of Boyceville, who recently published a children’s book called “Pocket Dog Danny — Where the Memories Began,” is glad you asked.
A pocket dog "is a hot dog you wrap up and keep in your pocket for later. Talmage explained.
The book "was written to have pocket dogs be more symbolic of a trigger to positive emotions and memories. A pocket dog just happens to be one of those triggers for my family," she said.
Talmage, who is originally from Baldwin-Woodville, moved to Boyceville after marrying her
husband, Jon, who is a lifelong resident of the area. The Talmages have two children, Brooklyn and
Talmage said her children "love pocket dog stories, which often come from their Uncle Jeff. Their bond over pocket dogs was the catalyst to the idea behind this book."
Stories are an important part of family life for the Talmages.
We are passionate about living life more simply, being positive, socializing with others, sharing and listening to stories, and being thankful for great memories," she said.
My hope with this book is to influence children and parents, to live more in the moment and practice gratitude for the good times by providing them with a fun, tangible trigger, like a pocket dog, as a reminder to do just that. And really, there's no better time than now to work on mental wellness." Talmage said.
Talmage graduated from UW-Eau Claire with a degree in Business Management and an emphasis in Human Resources. She currently works as an HR consultant, supporting more than 20
companies per year.
The birth of her first child 10 years ago inspired her to want to write a children’s book.
“I was too busy trying to climb the corporate ladder and busy raising babies, so it remained just a thought — up until my dad passed away three years ago, and I was oddly inspired by his obituary, which highlighted all the careers and hobbies he had during his lifetime,” Talmage said.
“He always pursued things that interested him and tried new things. I found myself reassessing my career goals and interests, which motivated me to find a new job that I love,” she said.
“I joined a multi-level marketing company which has strengthened my skills in sales and marketing and introduced me to so many new people, and I found new confidence to make my dream of writing a book a reality,” Talmage said.
Talmage’s mother is a retired art teacher and an exceptionally creative person.
“I’ve always been very jealous of my mom’s talent with her pottery and paintings. She brings joy to so many with her artwork, which also inspired me to try to do the same, just in the form a children’s book instead,” she said.
“Pocket Dog Danny” is an illustrated 30-page book intended for an audience of children aged three years to 10 years.
And while it might be tempting to think that writing a children’s book would be easier than writing a book for adult readers, of course, that’s not the case.
“My first draft of the book was not well received by my kids. They are my best and worst critics,” Talmage said.
“So I rewrote the story completely, but after getting a few rejections from publishing companies with that story line, I decided to rewrite it again,” she said.
When Talmage was halfway through the third manuscript, a family Easter gathering turned her in a different direction with the story.
“Uncle Jeff was poking fun at my son for not having pockets in his pants to hold his pocket dog, which turned into a series of pocket dog stories that had the entire family laughing,” Talmage said.
“It was at that moment I wanted to capture this memory in my story. I thought, if pocket dogs bring my family so much joy, why can’t it do the same for others?” she said.
The entire process of writing the book took two and a half years.
Talmage submitted her manuscripts to traditional publishers, and the manuscripts were rejected. She started to partner with a non-traditional publisher but felt like she was losing control and losing her vision for the project.
“I ultimately decided to partner with Amazon since they leave all of the decision-making authority to the author,” Talmage said.
A children’s book also is unique in that it requires good illustrations.
The author not only has to write a good story but also must find someone who can illustrate the story that fits with her vision.
“Pocket Dog Danny” is illustrated by Angel Lee, who “just happens to be my youngest sister’s friend from college whom I had met a few times previously,” Talmage said.
“Originally, I wanted my mom to illustrate the book, but my family was going through some difficult times with dad’s passing and then later, my brother-in-law’s illness and passing, so the timing was not right,” she said.
As it turned out, Talmage’s mother suggested she contact Angel Lee because her mother knew Lee had a background in illustration and graphic design.
“Angel was amazing to work with. She took every vision I had and provided illustrations that were spot on. She lives in Texas, so the distance posed some challenges,” Talmage said.
“We had to postpone our original publishing date a couple times and had some hurdles along the way, but Angel is such a calm and kind person, I never felt stress or pressure as we worked through this project together,” she said.
Talmage is planning to write a series of Pocket Dog Danny books.
“My hope is to have Pocket Dog Danny keep sharing his stories to promote gratitude thinking for the simple things in life,” she said.
“I already started writing book number two, but if it’s anything like my first book, I’ll be rewriting the manuscript a few times yet. It’s too soon to tell,” Talmage said.
Talmage says she and her family love to garden, and they also raise bees for honey.
“I have a passion for promoting healthy skin care and run a side business with L’BRI Pure n’ Natural as a skin care consultant. I definitely like to stay busy with healthy distractions, but finding time for fun and rest is also a priority,” she said.
Talmage says she is grateful for the support she has received from so many people for publishing her children’s book.
“The positive feedback I have received, and the pictures sent of children reading my book, warms my heart and inspires me to keep going,” she said.
To watch for future book-signing events, you can follow Pocket Dog Danny on Facebook at www.facebook.com/PocketDogDanny.
The book is available as an e-book and as a paperback online at www.amazon.com.
Written by LeAnn Ralph with story credit to the Tribune Press Reporter, DeWitt Media.