Thursday, October 25, 2012

Second Time Around: Jackie Bouchard

I've never met Jackie Bouchard, but I consider her a good friend. She is someone I love and trust and has been such a great support to me during this self-publishing adventure. I loved her first novel, What the Dog Ate (such a great title) and cannot wait to read her second. Thanks for joining us, Jackie!

Second Time Around: Is It Supposed to be This Hard?

I started writing Book Number 2 when our beloved 12-year-old beagle, Bailey, died. (As an aside, I think this is why I instantly became friends with Sam –she has the same last name as our pup’s first name. That, and because she’s super sweet.) Technically, though, it was Book Number 3. I’d started the First Book Number 2 the day after I sent my manuscript for What the Dog Ate (Book Number 1) to my agent. I knew the waiting would kill me, and I wanted to keep busy.

I do love my First Book Number 2, and someday I’ll finish it, but when we lost Bailey the best way for me to deal with that was to write about a character dealing with the death of her own beloved beagle, named Barnum. Thus the Second Book Number 2 was born. And then I tried to kill it. I’ve tried a few times to stop writing this book, but it won’t leave me alone.

For one thing, the main character, Jane Bailey (I had to sneak Bailey’s name in there somehow!), would not stop talking to me. After she helped me get through the worst part of my grief, she wouldn’t shut up. She was all, like, “Oh, no, you don’t. You’re not just going to use me for your own needs and then toss me aside! I’ve got more to say!” (I tried to tell her to shut up and go away, but I created a monster.)

Yes, I tried to quit, but Jane kept dragging me back. Meanwhile, we’d gotten another dog, Abby—a complete maniac of a mixed breed rescue pup. I started working Abby (re-dubbed “Maybe”) into Jane’s story. After the loss of Barnum, Jane swore she would never get another dog, but through various twists and turns, Maybe comes into her life.

After a year of working (and not working) on the book, Abby got bone cancer and had to have her leg removed. Suddenly I didn’t feel like writing about the healthy, happy, crazy Maybe while my own Abby was sick, so I took a major break from the book. But… Abby ended up being amazing on three legs. She taught the hubs and me a lot about handling adversity with grace and a run-like-you-still-got-four-paws zest for life.

So, I went back to work and Maybe also became a three-legged cancer dog. The book continued to slowly chug along. Unfortunately, so did Abby’s cancer and we lost her in January of this year.

I want this book to be hopeful and happy—a “love story” for crazy dog people like myself (even though it opens on a sad note with Barnum already gone). After Abby’s death, “hopeful” and “happy” were not feelings at the top of my emotional to-do list.

So, that meant another looong break from the book. I recently got back to working on it, and I only have a few more scenes to finish, some serious editing to do, and then it will finally be DONE.

It’s my understanding that there are authors out there who find their second book much easier than the first. Who are these well-adjusted, calm, non-neurotic people?? They are not me, that’s for sure.

Even when I started the First Book Number 2, which has no dead dog situations, I knew it would be harder to write. With Book Number One, I had zero expectations of myself. Now I have expectations, and an agent whom I don’t want to let down, and I have, like, 3 (maybe even more than that??) fans that I don’t want to disappoint! Since I am a people pleaser, that means I have a whole five (maybe even more than that??) people’s expectations riding on this book… Not to mention my husband would love me to be his ticket to early retirement! This book was destined, due to my own craziness, to be harder for me, even if I’d never had the real-life drama tossed in.

I so want this book to be really good, to honor my two pups who both brought so much joy to my life, but these “books from the heart” are darn hard!

Maybe I should take my queue from my Angel Abby, and remember to just dive in with gusto and not worry about tomorrow! I guess I’m still learning things from her. Clearly, Abby was sent to me for a reason.

Thanks Sam for inviting me to guest post! I love this series and have enjoyed reading the other “Second Time Around” posts.


The vet handed Maggie Baxter a plastic specimen bag containing a pair of size-tiny lavender thong panties extracted from her dog; but they were not hers. Or rather, they were hers now since she'd just paid $734 to have Dr. Carter surgically remove them from Kona's gut.

This is how Maggie Baxter, a practical, rule-following accountant, discovers that her husband of seventeen years is cheating on her. All her meticulous life plans are crushed. When he leaves her for the other woman, Maggie and her the-world-is-my-smorgasbord chocolate Lab, Kona, are left to put their lives back together. As Maggie begins to develop a Plan B for her life, she decides to be more like Kona. No, she's not going to sniff crotches and eat everything that isn't nailed down; rather she'll try to approach life with more ball-chasing abandon. Finding herself in situations where she begins to go through her usual over-analysis of the pros and cons, she stops and instead asks herself: What would Kona do? With Kona as her guru, Maggie begins her quest for tail-wagging joy.

"What the Dog Ate" is a funny, tender story of mending a broken heart and finding love and a new life right under your nose, with woman's best friend at your side. If you enjoyed Claire Cook's "Must Love Dogs" or Lolly Winston's "Good Grief," you'll love "What the Dog Ate" and be rooting for Maggie and Kona.

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  1. Thanks again, Sam for inviting me to post!

  2. "Who are these well-adjusted, calm, non-neurotic people?" Ha ha I certainly haven't met any of them! I think you have to be neurotic in order to be a writer. :)

    I always get choked up when I read your stories about Abby, Jackie. She was such an amazing dog! I'm so glad that you're close to being finished with Book 2. I look forward to meeting this bossy Jane character of yours!

    1. Thanks, Tracie! I'm glad I'm not the only neurotic one! :)

  3. I'm currently reading (and loving!) WHAT THE DOG ATE and I'm so looking forward to your next book. Great post, ladies! :)

    1. Thanks, Cat! So glad to hear you are enjoying the book! :)

  4. Hey Jackie! Loved the post. And it only took me 13 years to get Book 2 out there... Talk about procrastination! So, keep a'goin' with it. Looking forward to reading your next Opus.

    1. Thanks Annette! Ah, procrastination - it's a good friend of mine!