I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Billie Kelpin. She is the author of Lucky, the Left Pawed Puppy. Have you ever felt like you didn’t quite fit in? Well then this story will tug at your heart strings. Lucky, the Left Pawed Puppy (written by Billie Kelpin and illustrated by Julie Parker) is an adorable story about a little lefty who just can’t seem to get things right.
Whether it be running the wrong way after the Frisbee or cuddling up to the backside of Mrs. Poppyset each night, Lucky always seemed to be a little left out. Then one day it seemed his luck would change when Mr. Stagent came and whisked him and his brothers off to Hollywood for fame and, maybe, even a little luck. Unfortunately, Lucky, still could not quite get things right. Leslie, a famous trainer of animal stars, was soon called in. Will Leslie be able to turn things around for Lucky? Pick up this story to see if Leslie can find a way to help Lucky feel a little less left out.
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I created a free printable to go along with this special book.
Printable For "Lucky, the Left Pawed Puppy"
Here is the interview! I hope you enjoy getting to know Billie as much as I have.
Where are you from?
I grew up in an apartment on the lower East side of Milwaukee across the street from a Chinese laundry, a “beer depot” owned by a German immigrant, and a drugstore and grocery store owned and operated by Jewish small business owners. I lived down the block from Italian, Hungarian, and Irish families, and feel very blessed for having experienced that level of diversity growing up.
When did you begin writing?
I wrote my first short story in high school freshman English. The nun also had us do short character analysis paragraphs. I think that exercise is still reflected in my essays: “Sequin People,” “A Turkey in the Living Room,” etc.
When did you know you wanted to be a writer?
Probably the first time I thought about being a writer was when I was ten. My Uncle Bob was a fifth grade school teacher. I remember exactly where I was standing when he looked at something I had written that my mom had showed him. He looked me in the eye and said, “Billie, you’re a writer.” I think that was extremely powerful, and while I didn’t follow that path until much later, he was the one who implanted the confidence in me to try.
What inspired this book?
As a left-handed person living in a right-handed world I was always vaguely aware of being just a little bit different. I love being left-handed and it has amused me at how my left-handedness plays out in everyday life–hugging becomes a boxing match, barrettes end up upside down in the back of my head, and if Saturday Night Live needed a skit, they could mimic me battling with a right-handed corkscrew as I try to open a bottle of wine. I always wondered what it would be like if someone had showed me the left-handed way to play tennis or catch a baseball. I recently played air-hockey with a little five-year-old left-handed neighbor and put the paddle in my left-hand because she did. It was exhilarating! I realized that if I had been guided to try more things with my dominant side as a child, I might have excelled rather than just plodding along. With those thoughts often swimming around in my head, the story of a little left-pawed puppy just sort of “came to me” one day as I was walking my little dog Scooter.
What was the most difficult part of writing this book?
The most difficult part of writing this book was not the writing! Because “Lucky…” is a self-published book, it is the promotion and getting the book into the hands of the target audience that is the most difficult part.
How did you develop the characters?
My daughter, Bethany Therese, is an actor and stand-up comedian. William T. Stagent, the Hollywood agent, therefore, came naturally to me since Beth has worked with agents. Coming up with his personality was easy, but inventing a name for him was challenging. I wanted to have rhyming words within the story, so “Stagent” worked well with “agent”.
Because I live in California now, I have a great deal of respect for the Hispanic community and wanted to make the Director, a person in power, to be Spanish-speaking. So “Hector, the Director,” seemed to just evolve.
The “lovely Leslie”, famous Hollywood animal trainer is a character based on our former realtor. We used to refer to her as “the lovely Leslie” so Leslie appeared in the story!
I wanted a character to build on the theme of opposites, (Shortstuff is the tallest of the dogs, Rags is short-haired and very neat looking, and Lucky hasn’t always been lucky.) So finding a name for the woman who owns Lucky had to rhyme with “opposite”. Mrs. Poppyset sounded the sweetest, and that’s precisely what I wanted her character to be.
What did you learn while writing this book?
I learned that many aspects are easier to achieve than you might expect and many are harder than you expect. I was shocked that I was able to find the talented children’s book illustrator, Julie Parker, through an ad on Craigslist of all places. I received probably 17 responses from very talented artists when I posted that ad and that was a great surprise to me.
I also learned that self-publishing is not hard, but financing the printing and afterward promoting the book is very difficult. I put a great deal of what I learned into an article on hubpages called, “How to Publish a Children’s Picture eBook”.
What message do you hope to share with readers through this book?
The main message I’d like to share with readers and parents is that our difference is often our greatest strength. The aspect about us that we or others might assume is a negative can become our super-power.
What is your goal for this book?
I’d like to be able to get this book in the hands of as many children ages 5-8 as possible. I’d also like to produce the narrated version that we have available on YouTube as an interactive app, and make “Lucky, the Left Pawed Puppy” into a series with stories about the other two dogs, Shortstuff and Rags.
Are you working on a new book?
I’m starting on a novel about love and war during the Vietnam Era, after participating of NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). I’m going to publish a blog I wrote several years ago called “Our First 100 Days” and have several ideas for sequels to “Lucky…”
What advice do you have for other writers?
My main advice: Find your peeps! I was in California 10 years before I found OC Writers. Find a group that matches your personality and you’ll gain inspiration, insights, and a wonderful source of networking. Think about “branding”. Even if you write across different genres, build on your name or your company’s name. Writers are not marketers by nature, but with self-publishing, it’s important to be aware of self-promotion. Use social media. Integrate your website with a blog and blog often. Build a readership and know your target market or markets. It’s all quite exciting, actually.
Who is your favorite children’s author?
Most recently, I have been very impressed with the beautiful books of affirmation for children by my fellow writer, Dr. Diane Rogers. The art of hand-made flowers in “Stand Tall” is as lovely as the message. It’s a stunningly beautiful book. Diane’s newest book, “Emerge” is a delightful metaphor for courage and perseverance. I’m proud to know such a wonderful children’s writer.
What book are you currently reading?
Because I’ve joined a group with wonderful self-published and agency published authors, I’m reading about 5 books at a time right now. Two of the books are by Casey Dorman, “The Peacemakers,” and “Murder in Nirvana”; I just finished a romance novel by DeAnna Cameron, “Shimmy for Me,” and another romance novel, “Heartstrings” by Linnea Alexis. Of course, there is the non-fiction “The Wine and Chocolate Workout“ which is a great go-to fitness book by author Greta Boris who is presently working on a series of seven mystery novels based on the seven deadly sins.
Is there anything specific you want to share with the readers?
I’m very proud of the free online matching game that my husband and I created on Lucky’s website at http://www.leftpawedpuppy.com . In the next few weeks, we will also be sponsoring a “Tell the Story” contest with lovely prizes on our kid-safe website. We will be looking for videos of children ages 5-8 re-telling the story of “Lucky, the Left Pawed Puppy” in their own words. In addition, we’re working on developing a stuffed toy or hand puppets to go along with Lucky’s story, so we’d love to have people add their name to our mailing list on the website.
I was not financially compensated for this post. I received this product for review purposes. The opinions are completely my own based on my experience.