Coop the Great by Larry Verstraete Blog Tour with Giveaway!
Coop the Great by Larry Verstraete
Publication Date: November 15, 2018
Publisher: Yellow Dog
Coop is an aging, cynical, down-and-out dachshund who faces the ultimate test when his new owner, Mike, and Mike’s grandchildren, Zach and Emma, run into trouble. Mike rescued him, but does Coop have what it takes to do the same?
Drawing strength from the stories about great dogs that Mike shares with him, Coop charts a dangerous journey to save his new family.
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Dogs are like property owners. We pee to mark our boundaries and claim our territory. It’s our way of saying to another dog, “Hey bud, I was here before you. This place is mine.”
I sniffed around a statue of a fierce dragon spewing fire, then moved on to another statue that looked like a half-horse, half-man creature. Although I couldn’t detect the presence of other dogs, I peed in four places far apart, generously soaking each to leave my mark. I left my final deposit near a statue of a bare-chested man with curly hair who was holding a lightning bolt in one hand.
Mine. Mine. All mine.
Only, I knew that wasn’t completely true. Mike’s place wasn’t really mine. I was just a temporary visitor. Mike would tire of me soon, just like my other owners. But any place was better than Derby, even if it was only for a few days.
Larry Verstraete (B.Sc, M.Ed.) is a Winnipeg writer and educator. A teacher for 30 years, his experience ranges from teaching university courses to teaching at the senior and middle years levels in public school. An author of books for youngsters, Larry has also written for writer’s manuals, science textbooks, and educational journals, and has conducted sessions in science and writing for youngsters and adults around the country. His writing career began as an off-shoot of his teaching one, and here is his story.....
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If I Knew Then What I Know Now About Writing
With Coop the Great, I knew some of the plot before I started writing. By some, I mean I knew how the story would begin, and I knew how it would end. The middle was fuzzy, but I figured it would reveal itself once I started writing.
Wrong! I plowed ahead and wrote the first third of the book, then stalled completely. I didn’t really know how to get my characters to the end. Finally, after floundering for many days, I put the draft away. I realized that I had homework to do if I was ever to finish the book.
Although the problem seemed to be a plot one, I thought it might have more to do with my characters. I didn’t know them as well as I should. I backtracked and developed a 4-page character sketch of my protagonist, Cooper. On the plus side, I wanted Coop to be resilient, curious, and resourceful among other things. On the flawed side, I needed him to be cynical, anxious, emotionally distant and resigned to his lowly position in life. I established an emotional wound from the past – an event that clouds Coop’s perspective on life and affects everything he does from then on. In his case, it was a fire he felt responsible for causing.
Once I had character sketches for Coop and others in the story, I spent a week plotting a detailed outline that would carry me to the end. I knew the characters intimately by then. I knew how they would react to each other and to obstacles I put in their way. I plotted each chapter in detail, outlining not only what happened, but how it influenced each character.
Guided by the outline, I wrote the rest of the story. It got me through the difficult middle stretch and to the end. But – and this an important but - I didn’t entirely follow the outline. As I came to know my characters better, fresh ideas surfaced that altered the story-line. If I thought they strengthened the story, I integrated them into the fabric I was weaving.
Some writers – the pantsers - think that character sketches and outlines limit their creativity. They prefer to fly by the seat of their pants and write without planning much or at all. For me having a map at the start of the journey saw me to the end. Sure, there were detours, but at least I knew where they were taking me.