Breckenridge author starts children’s book series with ‘How to Love Your Pug’
He snores so loud he sometimes wakes up the whole house. He can’t stand seeing animals on the television. He is a sweetheart who loves to cuddle. He is Mojo Disco Baggins, the 12-year-old pug that’s the inspiration for Lisa Blake’s recently released book, “How to Love Your Pug.”
The Breckenridge-based writer got the idea for the book last year at the start of the coronavirus pandemic. As her family spent more time at home, she chatted with her 5-year-old son, Braxton, about pets and their adventurous dog who goes with them on rafting and camping trips. Braxton said they should write a children’s book about loving pets and came up with the name.
The book contains 10 rules on how owners can show their love for their pugs, such as having treats ready and doing downward dog yoga stretches together. Though the 32-page picture book is aimed for kids ages 3 to 7, Blake has heard of children and parents of all ages enjoying reading it.
“I have people who are obsessed with pugs or just love dogs who don’t even have kids and love the book,” Blake said.
Blake’s love of pugs started when she adopted Mojo in 2008 when he was about 1 year old. Then belonging to a neighbor of a friend in Denver, Mojo didn’t get along with his brother Ollie and needed to be walked at separate times. Blake decided to take him to Summit County rather than have the dog end up in a shelter. Her friend was skeptical, imagining the pug wouldn’t like the snow, but Mojo follows them everywhere.
“People would stop us and be surprised when we’re out on the trails,” Blake said. “He’s been this incredible adventure dog ever since he’s been up here.”
The love for the outdoors is what attracted Blake to Colorado in the first place. Originally from Iowa, she moved to Fort Collins in 2003 to play in the Poudre River, where she met her husband, Doug, who was a raft guide.
“How to Love Your Pug” by Lisa Blake
Bublish, February 2021
32 pages, $11.99 for paperback, $17.99 for hardback
Available from Next Page Books & Nosh and HowToLoveYourPet.com
Along with the wilderness, her other passion is writing. She followed up her work at The Des Moines Register with a stint at the Estes Park Trail-Gazette.
“I was a shy, hide-behind-your-mom’s-leg kind of kid, but I would always find ways to express myself through writing and art,” Blake said, adding that her high school yearbook and newspaper activities carried on through college. “I always knew I wanted to be a writer since I was a little kid. I would have pen pals and write to my grand parents and relatives.”
Blake eventually moved to Denver and worked as a travel guide editor for tourism publications for cities like New Orleans, Austin and Las Vegas. She fell in love writing about breweries and restaurants for a road trip dining series and other magazine features.
Her husband, now the assistant principal at Summit High School, was the English teacher at the time, and Blake traded Denver for Summit County in 2009 to close the gap on their long-distance relationship. Naturally, their love of the written word has been passed on to Braxton, who can be seen picking up books from the library weekly.
“Now that this book has come out, he’s like my biggest promoter,” Blake said. “He’s just so proud of it coming out and seeing it and being able to hold it and read it himself now that he’s learning to read.”
What: Children’s book author event with Lisa Blake, Lisa Spaulding and Claudine Norden
When: 2 p.m. Sunday, April 11
Where: Next Page Books & Nosh, 409 E. Main St., Frisco
Cost: Free. Visit NextPageBooks.IndieLite.org for more information
Once in Breckenridge, Blake’s work transitioned to freelance writing for the local resorts, businesses, magazines and more. Yet her clients slashed their freelancing budgets this year in response to the pandemic, so she had the free time to create the book. The writing only took a few days, but then Blake needed to find an illustrator.
She reconnected with illustrator Nadine Rebrovic, who had worked in ad sales at the same tourism publisher in Denver with Blake, on Instagram after seeing Rebrovic’s black-and-white pet portraits.
“It really captures the personality of the breed of the dog, the face and expressions,” Blake said about Rebrovic’s style.
Rebrovic, who splits her time between Denver and Breckenridge, was open to the collaboration since she likewise had her job in catering for events and musical acts at places like Red Rocks Amphitheatre put on hold due to the pandemic.
The pair launched a Kickstarter in October to help finalize production on the self-published book. It successfully generated more than $7,500 in presales. The book came out on Valentine’s Day, and Blake and Rebrovic already have ideas for sequels that they hope to release later this year.
Blake grew up with German shepherds and springer spaniels in rural Iowa, so those will be likely candidates in the future, but up next is “How to Love Your Rescue Pet.” Part of the inspiration came from President Joe Biden’s dog Major being the first rescue dog from an animal shelter to live in the White House. It’ll feature different types of dogs rather than focus on a specific breed.
“We’ll talk about having compassion and patience and earning that particular dog’s trust, because that pet’s past may have been a little more difficult or challenging,” Blake said.
Readers who have a breed other than a pug have already suggested their own — like pit bulls, basset hounds, huskies and even cats — but the third entry in the series will be “How to Love Your Golden” to highlight one of America’s most popular dog breeds. Along with books, the brand includes bookmarks and pug puppets, and plans are in store for coloring books and downloadable resources for parents and teachers. As they become more established, Blake hopes to donate a portion of proceeds to shelters in the future.
Regardless of what book people buy, she hopes the series fosters connection between pets, parents and children.
“I just feel like it’s been a big year to remember how special that is and how important it is to have those quiet moments, those grateful, gratitude filled moments.”
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