Many people feel they have a book inside of them and aspire to write. Far too often, the book just stays inside of them instead of the individual grabbing a pencil and putting it down on paper. Not so with Jeff Lazarus. Jeff, author of the just-published book "Dogtology" shares how he got the book out of his mind and onto paper.
Dennis: Dream. Believe. Do. is an interesting concept especially when it comes to people that have a dream about wanting to write a book. And with me today, I have Jeff Lazarus. Jeff, good morning!
Jeff: Good morning, Dennis!
Dennis: Jeff, you’ve had a dream about writing. Would you share your dream with us, please?
Jeff: Absolutely. I've always loved to write. I had written short stories in college. I had written songs. I had written some poems about girls -- and yes, we can laugh about that. I had later started blogging a lot about hockey and everybody kept telling me, “You really should be a writer. This is really great stuff.” And I had a good time doing it. But it wasn't until I had a realization of my own -- and that was Dogtology -- that I actually was going to write a book. A daunting task, but yes, a book!
Dennis: [Laughs] But, while you were writing this book, you had a job, right?
Jeff: I've had a job. I've been working full time in a wonderful career for over twenty years.
Dennis: And so, encouragement from your friends that said you should write a book, you're a good writer, you’ve been doing some blogging and so forth. What got you started down the path of writing this book? What was the impetus to make it happen?
Jeff: I’ve got to tell you, the real impetus isn’t the fact I think I should write a book or people telling me I should continue writing or writing a book. It was really discovering that I had a book within myself and that was called Dogtology. Once I had come to the realization and understanding of Dogtology and counting the laughs about it, it was already done. It was there. It was a book. It was going to get written. And I think that that's actually the key for not only myself but everybody is there's a difference between “I should write a book but I'm not sure what,” to “yes, there is a book within me and this is what it is.” And I think there's a key difference right there.
Dennis: I think it's a very important difference, actually. So you had the book inside of you. We got to talk about the book a little bit here because people listening to this conversation, they're going “Dogtology?” So give us a quick summary for what Dogtology is about.
Jeff: Absolutely. When it comes down to it, Dogtology is really about our deep connection and our endless love for dogs, which millions of us experience. The literal definition of Dogtology is the belief in dogs -- arguably one of the most popular beliefs on earth.
Jeff: So let me explain that to you. It is funny in like, “Wait, what's he saying?” But watch this: I actually had a dog for a number of years named Roamy. Roamy was my “everything”. He had me wrapped tightly around his paw. And he was my confidant, my side kick. He was the funniest person on earth, I tell you. And I lost Roamy during a tough time of my life when I left a marriage. And Roamy, my best listener, and my best friend, was no longer there. And I tried to talk to family and friends and they do their best. But you know, humans are limited. They can only listen so much because they have ADD and you know, they have other excuses like, “Uh-oh, American Idol is on. Gotta go!”
Jeff: So Roamy’s gone. And here’s where the fun began about this. Months later, here I am by myself without Roamy and I find myself on a first date with a particular lady. And who that is is actually insignificant at this point [laughs] but she had two dogs. And you know, it just wasn't a match on the date.
Jeff: But nonetheless, we walked out of the restaurant. And I'm about to say, “Well, take care!” And she says, “By the way, I got a question for you. What’s your religion?” And I thought, “Religion? Now? Wait, I got to go.”
Dennis: On a first date!
Jeff: And I said, “Dogtology!” And I was just trying to be a smartass, quite frankly and share a laugh with her And she did laugh and I laughed and we went on our separate ways. And a few years later, while playing with a dog named Koa on the island of Kauai, I happened to say to my girlfriend at the time, “That’s Dogtology!” And she said, “Dogtology? That's cute! What is that?” And I said, “Let me get back to you.”
Months later after that, it hit me. One day, I'm minding my own business. And this is really important for all of us: it just hit me. This is what it is. I ran to the computer. I looked up the definition of a “belief” on Webster Online. And it will tell you, “to have faith and confidence in someone or something that you know to be true.” And I thought, “Oh, my dog!” I mean, “Oh, my god! We are practicing a belief.” And the proof? Turn on the TV. Turn on the computer. You can’t go minutes – no, you can’t go seconds – without seeing a dog.
Dennis: That's true!
Dennis: That's true. I mean in your book, I don't want to get too lost in the book right this second, but your book goes into all the places where dogs are and how much we pamper the dogs and so forth and how it is very much a center part of our being in terms of… from a religious perspective, really which is pretty amazing.
Jeff: Yeah. It's almost like a religious fervor if you will. You know, there's always a joke about hockey is the religion of Canada. Well, we get that. It just makes the point of how fanatical Canadians are about the sport. It makes total sense. And in this case, if you say “Dogs are your religion,” well, that sounds kind of crazy. But here's the challenge: take a look at anybody who loves dogs and how they treat their dog. And they may go to a church and they may pray for that other religion, [laughs] but, guess what, the rest of the day, it's pampering the dog, and the dog’s got to have a walk and dog’s got to put on these clothes and we’ve got to give the dog a bath and the dog this and the way we baby talk to the dog. It's funny! Look how far we've taken it. We’ve created this!
Dennis: We have. We really have. Now, you said when this struck you on the beaches of Kauai and you had this idea about, “it’s Dogtology.” And you ran to the computer and start banging away on a book. You had this book within you, as you said a few minutes ago, and you start putting that book down on paper. What kept you moving forward in that process of getting this book down? Of getting it out of your body?
Jeff: You know, that's such a great question, Dennis about what keeps you moving forward because that's a tough challenge. You know, writing a book is not easy. And people say I should write a book. You know, you hear that all the time from people and then they don't write a book. I think what moves me forward is the fact of knowing that this is number one, this is true, so I believe in it. And I think the belief in whatever you're writing -- whether it's a blog, a book, a story, it doesn’t matter what it is -- but having the belief that it's number one, true, or interesting, but number two, it's the belief in yourself that you are going to do it. Now this is a serious checkpoint because a lot of us can start something and not finish. And this is up to the individual person to have that within themselves to say that “this is going to happen.” It is a decision and it becomes what I call a “must.” You must have the “must” that this is going to happen.
Dennis: So you had the “must” within you. Were people encouraging you? Was it all in your own? What kept you believing in yourself to keep moving forward? Just the raw belief or the “must” inside of you?
Jeff: It really is the “must”. At first, I tell you, this goes back to you know, two to two and a half years telling people about this book, you know, lightly, they're not really sure what it is. “Okay, well, it's dog related. Sounds good. Let us know.”
Jeff: So also along the way, you have people telling you that, “Publishing is really tough. Good luck on that, sir.” Or you have publishers telling you, “Sounds like a good idea but you have no platform. You're not an established author. No, thank you.”
Jeff: And that becomes the test of the internal fortitude right there. Because that was my experience – all of the above. And I had enough publishers saying, you know, “Enjoyed reading this. We don't know you. We'll have to pass.” But to me, Dogtology was a certainty. You know, Dogtology is real. And it's not real because I say so. It's real because again, turn on your computer, turn on your TV, there's people practicing Dogtology day and night. I've only given a name to it.
Dennis: Absolutely. So, you had the pressures from, you said, publishers saying “forget it” or a tough world where people are saying “good luck” and “you have no platform,” “you are not a known author” and so forth. But you continued to persevere. What were some of the major obstacles you had to overcome in this process?
Jeff: You know, “persevere” is the key word. And that's what the journey is. It is perseverance. There's never a shortage of people telling you “no.” They're available to you on every corner. Pick up the phone, go online, there's enough people to tell you “no” – at any given moment.
Dennis: That's a good point.
Jeff: It's a matter of surviving that. Having the perseverance and having the belief in yourself. And I think the belief in yourself is the key because you're going to get knocked down. And you're going to get knocked down and it can be multiple times an hour a day, depending on how many contacts you're making. But I think in this journey and in this case, there were enough publishers saying, “Fantastic read. No platform. No, thank you.” Or “Get back to us when you have an established platform.” And that was really one of the big obstacles. And even securing other things along the way about some of the best web designers for example, saying, “Hmm, no, you're not ready to pay us the big money. You're not established. No, thanks.”
Dennis: Wow! Okay.
Dennis: How did you work your way around those obstacles then? You know, if the publisher is saying “no” and big web designers saying, “I don't know if you have money to pay us the big bucks.” How did you find the solution there?
Jeff: Well, there is a saying that I'm not responsible for and that's “Where there's a will, there's a way,” right?
Dennis: Very true.
Jeff: You know, we always hear these things at certain times in our lives – “Where there's a will, there's a way.” Or at break up – “Don't worry, there's more fish in the sea.” [Laughs] You don't wanna hear those things at the time. You just want a solution. But the thing is they're all true. And we're familiar with those sayings because they're real and they're really true. And it's a matter of saying, “Okay, no is no is no for right now, for them.” You go on. And it's a numbers game, quite frankly, because the more people you connect with, you're going to increase your chances of finding a “yes.” And eventually, you will. But you have to believe because if you do not believe, how can you expect somebody else to believe in you?
Dennis: I think that's it right there. That's perfect. Along this journey, what's been the biggest surprise you’ve encountered? Anything unusual?
Jeff: Well, I think that it became a surprise when somebody believed enough in Dogtology and said, “We want it.” And I've been pleasantly surprised to see the reaction from really some key media. I think that that's been a very pleasant surprise. When I say “key media,” I'm talking about Chicago Tribune, Psychology Today, certain ABC affiliates around the country and finding myself getting booked on radio programs around the country.
Jeff: It's a pleasant surprise, you know! It's gratifying having somebody tell you that they laughed and enjoyed your work.
Dennis: That's excellent. Congratulations, by the way. I haven't said that yet. I think it's amazing what you've done about pushing forward and making this happen. And it really is a delightful read. So Jeff, other people are out there, they have their dreams. They have ideas. Maybe they have a book they want to do or take a trip they want to take or whatever it may be. What advice do you have for them to encourage them to pursue their dreams?
Jeff: The number one piece of advice I have is “stay true to yourself”. And let me explain further. When you read Dogtology, you'll note one thing: whether you enjoy the book or not, you'll note one thing – you haven't read a book like that before. You haven't read about a case being made for Dogtology being a belief. This is also a humorous book filled with all sorts of new twists and certain angles that I take in the book. And we won’t have any spoiler alerts here, but check out the Book of Hydrants [laughs] and I have some pretty funny questions in there. I was actually told by my mentor to be prepared because “Jeff, you're about to engage in the toughest, toughest class of all – humor. And humor is so incredibly subjective.”
Jeff: But Dogtology was already real within me and I had a decision to make and that's “Well, I have no established platform with the public. I'm about to take on humor. I'm about to take on the dog-loving world which is large, quite large. Now, maybe I should just pack it in and try to think of another idea.” But instead, I said, “Well, you know what, this book is real. It's going to happen.” And I think that's the spirit of staying true to yourself and not letting all the naysayers and skeptics alter what you do.
You know, one great example is a publisher wanting to take the content and chop it down and create sort of a picture book. And I think a picture book version may be fine. And I'm not going to completely say no to that. It could be fun. But they wanted to take out what I consider the “soul” of the book. And I stayed true to myself and said, “No, Dogtology will be Dogtology.” Not that I'm not open to changes, but I'm not open to giving up on the book that I wanna write.
Dennis: I think it's excellent news. You basically, in writing your book, and staying true to yourself, embody the tagline on the book Dogtology which is “Live. Bark. Believe.” right? Because you believed in yourself and you continue to move forward. You blocked out the naysayers. You stayed true to yourself. Not a picture book, no, you're going to gut the main content out of here. There's humor in there. It's your humor is very much your persona that comes out in the book was well. Your personality that pops out of there.
Jeff: Yeah, that's exactly it, that’s what we have. That's the product.
Dennis: I think that's great. Jeff, this has been great. I appreciate your time. I appreciate your energy and your talent. The book is Dogtology. You can find it at Dogtology.com. You can find it at your local bookstore. Also on social media websites. Jeff Lazarus, thank you so much!
Jeff: Thanks, Dennis. Thanks for having me. It's fun to talk with you.
Dennis: Likewise! I’m Dennis Hodges for Xpelli. Dream. Believe. Do.
I welcome your comments and suggestions. Feel free to write me at firstname.lastname@example.org or you can leave comments here. Thanks! Dennis
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