Author tells story of heroic dog
Jeannine Fox took off her oval-shaped glasses and let them hang from her neck by a strand of brightly colored beads. She and her audience at the Basehor Community Library had just been laughing about a tale of her eccentric dog, Baby, but in a moment, her face looked stern and solemn. She held in her left hand a copy of her book “Holy Paws,” and she gently ran her right hand across its shining cover.
“This is not a story about abuse,” she said. “This is a story about overcoming the past.”
Fox, an award-winning author, came to the library Saturday to tell visitors about how “Holy Paws” is the product of the help she received from her dog during her recovery from abuse. She also came to Basehor with the mission of encouraging other potential writers to put pen to paper or fingers to keys and begin their work.
Readers will not find any details of Fox’s abusive history in the book, she said, but they will read about Baby’s abuse and how Baby guided Fox down the road through her troubles to a healing point.
“When I got Baby, I knew she’d been abused,” Fox said. “I initially thought, ‘Oh, I can help her,’ but I soon realized it was the other way around. God had another plan, and Baby helped me.”
Fox said one of the things she appreciated the most was her ability to talk to Baby whenever and for however long she wanted.
“Baby was my confidant,” she said. “She was the first to ever hear about what exactly happened to me. I knew she couldn’t tell anyone, and she couldn’t say it didn’t happen, but most of all, she wouldn’t tell me that I wasn’t entitled to my feelings.”
“Holy Paws,” Fox said, is a story for anyone who has had a bad experience. She said she had to ask herself a pivotal question to jumpstart her healing process, and that others should ask themselves the same question.
“I had to say to myself, ‘Why did I survive the abuse if I continue to live it?’ And you can all ask that: ‘Why did I survive this divorce, why did I survive financial ruin if I continue to live it?’”
Fox also had some key advice to give hopeful writers. She said there were five things that every writer struggled with, and she provided tips on how to get through these glitches:
• “My life is too ordinary to write about.” Fox said everyday experiences were what made stories relatable and wonderful to read. Everyone has something to tell, Fox said.
• “I don’t know where to start.” This is a common problem, Fox said, and it doesn’t matter where a writer starts. Books don’t have to start out chronologically, she said, and she suggested keeping a journal to record thoughts and memories.
• “I’m too busy.” Fox said a few minutes each day is enough to begin. Every writer needs quiet thinking time, she said, and every person can find a few minutes each day for it.
• “I don’t have anything to teach anyone.” Each person is the master of his or her own story, Fox said. Only that writer can tell it best. She encouraged writers to write as they spoke and to stay away from preaching to their readers.
• “I don’t know the rules for writing.” This is what editors are for, Fox said. Don’t worry about the punctuation or spelling or grammar, just get it on paper.
If someone is serious about writing, tomorrow is the best day to start, Fox said. She asked all of the audience members on Saturday to write down how many years they thought they had to live. Then she told them to look at the numbers they wrote.
“In that many years, are you still going to be thinking about writing?” she asked. “Don’t wait. Do it now.”
For more information about Jeannine Fox or her book “Holy Paws,” visit her Web site at holypaws.com.