by Lorie Lewis Ham
Recently Joe Ozier of Fresno published his first book, a family and children’s book called Shea’s Lounge. It is based on the true story of an amazing dog named Shea, or as it says on the book cover, a runaway dog who found a forever home. Joe has written several plays in the past and been involved in theater and film for years. He also owns his own dog training business called Way of a Dog. Details on how to win a copy of Shea’s Lounge at the end of this post.
KRL: Can you tell us a little about the book?
Joe: This book is based on actual events surrounding the discovery and adoption of a stray dog that had been living on Central Florida streets for at least two years. Shea, the runaway, was an escape artist who repeatedly escaped from my backyard only to be repeatedly caught by Animal Control officers, myself, or by my neighbors on numerous occasions, until one day, after another escape, Shea returned to my home on her own, and never left again. It is heartwarming and based on a true story. Shea’s Lounge is a perfect book for children and families and dog shelters.
KRL: What made you decide to write about this experience?
Joe: I wrote this book because it has several family applications to it. A real life drama that occurs when people feel they need a dog in their life, and how that conclusion can have life long implications when someone happens to decide to bring dogs into their homes, and then find out that the dogs have certain character traits that may or may not be conducive to a harmonious relationship between dog and man, right away. The back-story is my experience with Shea from the very first moment’s I brought her home. She was disengaged with anything I had to offer, and fully engaged in seeking a way out of my yard…until the day she returned after running away and never left again.
KRL: Is Shea still in your life?
Joe: No, Shea had to be put to sleep a few years ago. Her ashes are now with Shep’s (Joe wrote a musical about Shep-more on that in future issues) ashes, and one day, I hope to do something meaningful with them, but not sure what that is yet. I thought about putting tiny bits in vials and giving them out to children who would take them to some beautiful place in the world, and as they scatter them into the wind there, call out either…”Shep the Wonder Dog” or “Shea the Runaway”.
KRL: How long did it take to write the book?
Joe:The writing was maybe half the battle. It took a few months (between 6-8 months) to work out the text and have the Illustrator create the panels for the story scenes, but once the panels were made, then I could focus on making the story work within their parameters. The harder part was all the editing of the text and the font and size of the finished project and working within the exact dimensions required by the publisher and the printer…it was excruciating and costly over another six months. Even when the book was “finished”, the process never seemed to end.
KRL: Was it hard to find a publisher? Or if you self published, why did you decide to go that route?
Joe:It was hard to find a publisher that didn’t just abandon me to a process that I was very unfamiliar with. I went through two publishers and settled on a printer who is also a publisher. Self publishing is the way to go.
KRL: What is your goal with this book?
Joe:My goal for this book was to raise awareness about adopting shelter dogs, and of the importance of being prepared to accept an animal into your life and to accept those things about a dog that you may or may not be able to change, and to change those things about a dog and yourself that you discover you can change. I have wanted to be a book author, having written many original plays and musicals for the stage, and so once I decided on the story I wanted to write about Shea, the rest of the details sort of fell into place.
Getting a great illustrator is also a key to having a good book, and my illustrator is no exception to that. Another more pressing goal I would say is recouping the financial upfront costs associated with writing and illustrating and publishing a book. Publishing is not a poor man’s endeavor.
KRL: Is this your first book?
Joe:Yes, Shea’s Lounge is my first book. I’ve been asked several times now if there will be another children’s book in the future, and I say most definitely.
KRL: The story of Shea I see takes place in Florida, but I know you are from Fresno and live here again now-when did you move back to Fresno?
Joe:I moved back to Fresno in November of 2007.
KRL: What other writing have you done?
Joe:To date I have written nine original shows, including a one act play for the Rogue festival, two shows at the Warnors theater for United Way Toys for Tots, a couple of ghost stories about an old fisherman, two comedy Opera’s, and a musical about a biting Mute.
Besides writing and directing my own shows for theater, I have been a performing actor since 1983 when I started the first video production/TV station on Fresno State’s campus I called the Bucket Video Channel. I wrote some (not all) of the programming myself, along with my girlfriend at the time and her mother with some other cookie people from the radio and television department. We wrote and I videotaped and edited 30 minute shows for the campus and for Cable 4 programming. I did my first legitimate public acting performance at Theater III. when I played Horatio in Shakespeare’s Hamlet. When I moved to Florida in 1998, I threw myself into all types of acting including Community theater, TV commercials, films and Modeling print work. I’ve only done a couple of theatrical shows since being back in Fresno, one with CSUF theater Dept entitled: Measure for Measure (another Shakespeare), and a great part in the Fantastiks with the ART group, while only claiming one TV commercial job for a ride share company. As for local film work, I’ve acted in a zombie movie, and a comedy about Yosemite falls. Most of my appearances have been in my comedy TV show on CMAC called The Joe Zone. It features some of my work in 1981 along with new stuff and some of the commercials I was paid for while in Florida.
KRL: Tell us just a little about Shep the Musical.
Joe:Shep the Musical was my first show and I wrote it over a 10 year period. All of the songs and the story began flowing into my head starting the day I discovered and rescued him when Shep was three and a half. I saved him on the 28th of June 1996 and my birthday is on December 28. I was always interested in theater and so I began performing in the local community theater. The second show I was in was named Carnival and the director asked the cast if any of us had a dog that could perform.
I brought Shep to rehearsal and he was a hit with the cast. Thirty-plus kids and adults were involved in this show and he was inundated with constant petting, kind words and treats from the moment he arrived in the buildings.
KRL: What is Way of a Dog?
Joe:Way of a Dog is the name of my Dog Behavior Training business. My tag line is: Behavior training for dogs and their people. Be who your dog looks up to!
Joe:I do have another pet, it took over two years but I rescued Jimmy from ARF on June 12, 2013. He was one of the many dogs I asked ARF to point out as the ones least likely to be adopted, for any and all reasons. Jimmy had been there over two years. I’m very happy with the decision I made that day.
KRL: Do you have other pets? Are they rescue pets?
KRL: Do you have any up-coming events planned?
Joe:As for upcoming book events, I have two big events coming up. The first one is BuzzCon coming up on Sept 13 and 14 in Tulare at the Farm Show Pavilion, then a Children’s Book Festival in Orange County on September 27. Also at the Fresno Barnes and Noble on Saturday, October 4 for a Book Reading and signing event at 11 a.m.
KRL: Where can people purchase your book and where can they find you online?
Joe:People can purchase the actual soft book currently from me personally, or from Whitie’s Pets, or Peeve’s Public House, and in the All Things Fresno store at the Warnor’s Theater. You can buy a digital download of the book for any and all digital devices from the Smashwords site at the following address: www.smashwords.com/books/view/470712
I can be found online at many places including: my Joe Ozier Facebook profile: www.facebook.com/joe.ozier.3, my Way of a Dog Facebook page: www.facebook.com/wayofadog, on Youtube, on my Fresno filmmakers Alliance site at: fresnofilmmakersalliance.com/profile/JoeOzier
And on my acting resume site back in Florida at: www.247cast.com/joeozier
Watch for our three part series on Shep the Musical coming over the next few months.
To enter to win a copy of Shea’s Lounge, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “Shea,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen September 20 , 2014. U.S. residents only.
Find more pet articles of all kinds in our pets section.