Reporter writes children's book about dog adventure

November 24, 2012
  • Jennifer A. Fitch of Waynesboro, Pa., a reporter for The Herald-Mail Media, is shown with her two dogs. Fitch wrote a book for children based on what happened when one of her dogs, Carson, ran away. He later returned on his own.
Submitted photo

Name: Jennifer A. Fitch

Age: 29

Town in which you reside: Waynesboro, Pa.

Day job: Pennsylvania reporter for The Herald-Mail Media

Book title: "Carson's Big Adventure"

Genre: children's literature

Synopsis of book: In this story about finding your way home, a lovable dog sets out to discover something new. He learns about himself - and about what is important - on the journey.

Publisher: self-published

Price: $10


What inspired you to write the book? When did you start writing?

My dog ran away one night and returned home on his own after six hours. I had a search party looking all over town for him. When he came back, we joked that he was out enjoying himself at nearby businesses as we panicked.

What was your process of writing like? Did you write this all in one go or did you work on it over time?

I wrote the whole story on a flight to Houston, doodling in the margins of my notepad as I went.

Did you have any "test markets" (i.e., family and friends) before publishing? Did they offer suggestions?

My mom works at an elementary school. She read a draft to a few classes, and if it wasn't for the students' thoughtful and positive feedback, I'm not sure if I would have had the confidence to publish the book.

Writers typically get an editor to help polish copy for a book. Did you work with an editor? As someone who works with an editor for your day job, what was that like?

I did quite a bit of self-editing, then a colleague (Meg) looked over the final version.

Because I write on deadline many nights, I have to take responsibility for turning in clean copy that doesn't require much editing.

Why did you have Carson think in rhyme?

I'm fairly convinced my real dog "talks" with a Southern accent because he used to live in the South. I needed the dog in the story to have a quirk, too.

Describe the writing and publishing process, once the book was written.

Writing the story was by far the easiest part. I gave the illustrator, Liz Vargo, the text just a couple weeks before she gave birth, so my timing was bad and we hit some delays. After that, I really put the "self" in self-publishing by tackling the formatting, review and marketing on my own.

Is the story based on an actual locations in Waynesboro?

I had a few Waynesboro businesses in mind when creating the book. I sent Liz photographs of a couple buildings to use as inspiration.

How did you meet Liz Vargo? What sort of illustrations were you looking for?

Liz and I worked together a number of years ago, and we've remained close friends. I gave her some very rough sketches, but I wanted her to drive most of the decision-making for the illustrations. That is really her forte, and I know she loves color and whimsy as much as I do.

Did you learn anything about yourself while writing this book?

I learned that I could successfully take a concept rattling around in my imagination, put it on paper and share it with others. Usually, I'm telling other people's stories. This is all my own.

You mention someone named Nick at the beginning of the book. Who is that?

Nick is my boyfriend. He was sitting across the aisle from me on that plane headed to Texas. I'd rip pages out of my notebook and pass him sections of the story as I wrote.

You mention kindness in your question guide at the end of the book. Is that a theme you want readers to take away from the book?

Absolutely, yes. Most importantly, I want young readers to know it's great to learn and discover new things, but there really is no place like home. Although this is a big world, our roots often pull us back to one place.

What sort of response have you got from people who have read the published book?

The feedback from adults has been nice, but all along I have been most worried about the reaction from children. Luckily, one 11-year-old told me the book is "amazing" and a preschooler has already asked for a sequel. That has been the best part.

Do you write poetry? Other stories? Are you working on another writing project? The bio in the book implied that you have other things published.

I am working on a children's book featuring my younger dog. I also have a few other things in development.

I write all the time, beyond the newspaper and the freelance jobs I do.

When I was a child riding in the backseat of the car, I never played the license plate or punch buggy games. I had pink stationary with me and would write all these detailed, fictional tales divided into chapters. It was such a strange hobby.

Teachers in my elementary school tell me I integrated quote marks and dialogue into my fiction writing in third grade.

Is your book available in bookstores in our area? Where? If not, how can a reader buy a copy of the book?

The book is available at Turn the Page in Boonsboro. It is on and

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