I Chose You by Carmen Leal: Blog Tour & Giveaway

Monday, April 17, 2023

I Chose You by Carmen Leal

I am excited to introduce you to this charming book that is a must-read for anyone who loves or has ever loved a dog. Continue on for more information about the book, an interview with the author, and a chance to win a copy for yourself. 

But first, here's a bit about the book:

For every pet parent who knows there's no such thing as 'just a dog,' this collection of uplifting glimpses into the lives of ordinary-turned-extraordinary dogs and the people who love them is a tail-wagging good read.

Thanks to the rescue dog who saved her life after a traumatic brain injury, Carmen Leal went from saying she'd never have a dog to becoming an advocate for man's best friend. Carmen volunteered at the local rescue shelter by writing bios and social media posts, applying for grants, and helping to save and re-home over 6,500 dogs from a high-kill shelter. This endearing anthology includes stories that celebrate the bond between canines and humans including:

  • Buddy the beagle who went from living chained under a porch to becoming the town's only therapy dog
  • Heavenly Joy, the frightened Chihuahua who changed the life of a grumpy old man
  • Bogey, an abandoned mixed-breed trained by prison inmates and adopted by his forever family

I Chose You is a collection of memorable, beautifully written stories of dogs rescued by people and, ultimately, people rescued by dogs. If you like four-legged friends and happy endings, you'll love Carmen Leal's touching collection of heart-warming stories.

Fetch a copy of I Chose You, the feel-good book that resonates with anyone who has ever loved a dog. 

Publisher: Wag Away Publishing
ISBN-10: 1955309035
ISBN-13: 978-1955309035
Print Copy Pages: 264 pages

Purchase a copy for yourself on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or Bookshop.org. Make sure you also add it to your GoodReads reading list.

Praise About the Book

“I’m so thrilled to discover this beautiful collection of stories featuring these imperfectly perfect rescue pups. I Chose You has won my heart!” — Janice Thompson, author of Paws for Reflection: 50 Devotions for Dog Moms 

“Great read! Nothing in life is perfect except unconditional love. I Chose You captures that choice!”  — Adrian Palmer, Board of Directors Medical Advisor Australian Shepherds Furever Rescue
“The best prescription I can write for trauma survivors, veterans with PTSD, and others with mental health issues, is the healing power of dogs. I Chose You is the perfect gift for yourself or a dog lover and a wonderful reminder of the unbreakable bond between canines and their people.”  —Angela Miller, Licensed Professional Therapist 

About the Author, Carmen Leal

Carmen Leal is a storyteller and the author of multiple books, articles, devotionals, and human-interest stories. Carmen relocated from Hawaii to Oshkosh—yes, there is a story behind the move—and has become an awesome dog mom. Carmen and her husband have become reluctant gardeners and know a crazy amount about Wisconsin weeds. She is the mother of two sons, two incredible grandsons, and Coconut, the best imperfectly perfect rescue dog in the world. Learn more about Carmen and Coconut by visiting carmenleal.com. 
--- Interview by Nicole Pyles

WOW: First of all, congratulations on your book! What inspired this memoir? 

Carmen: After my traumatic brain injury, we moved from Hawaii to Wisconsin, where my son lives. My doctor had suggested I adopt a dog as I was suffering from level 10 migraines, PTSD, and was suicidal. After I adopted Coconut, he truly did save my life. I decided to begin volunteering to help the rescue shelter, and so for four years, I wrote bios and grant and social media content. We rescued over 6,500 dogs from a high-kill shelter in Kentucky and found homes for them here in Northeastern Wisconsin. In September of 2021I decided to write a book so that I could donate a portion of the proceeds to NEW PAWSibilities

WOW: Wow, what an incredible account of how Coconut came to be in your life and how he saved you. So, how did you compile all of these wonderful stories in your book? 

Carmen: I started with posting a request on the rescue’s Facebook to see if anyone could share their stories. Then I did the same on my own personal Facebook account. Stories started coming in, some from professional writers, but most from people who simply had a great rescue dog story. 

WOW: I love that! I also love that you started your own publishing company, Wag Away Publishing (I LOVE the name!). What led you to start this company? 

Carmen: When I decided to write the book, I knew I wanted to self-publish for several reasons. I would be able to get the book faster than I would with traditional publishing, I’d have more control and be able to share my vision in my way, and I’d get to keep all the royalties, and that would give me more to donate. I had written a tagline for the rescue and I wanted to pay homage to them by using a variation of it in some way. Love is just a wag away is what I wrote and so Wag Away Publishing made sense. 

WOW: Having that control can mean so much in the writing journey! How has it been to publish your book through your own publishing company? 

Carmen: Honestly, it’s like coming home. My first book was also a passion project so that I could donate to an organization that would help to find a cure for the disease that ultimately took my late husband’s house. David suffered from Huntington’s disease and because it is such a rare disease, I knew no publisher would want to publish for such a small market and also one by an unknown author. I self-published Faces of Huntington’s and Portraits of Huntington’s in 1998 and 2000. I have also gone with traditional publishers and so going on my own for this series made sense. 

WOW: Absolutely. So, what is your writing (and publishing) process? 

Carmen: I have one of those brains where I map everything out before I start writing. I can’t write without a title and subtitle. Once I have that I craft the call for stories and start a website. Then I research. I adore research, it’s my absolute favorite part of the book. Then. Start putting all the pieces together. I write about four hours every morning and then I edit it all before the day is over. It takes about six or eight weeks to get a pretty solid draft. I’ve always used professional cover designers and editors because I don’t want to learn those skills. Over the years I have connected with many professionals while teaching at writer’s conferences and it’s one of those people who I reconnected with. Her company is a hybrid publishing company and that allowed me to do what I do best. 

WOW: That's great how you have it all set in place! I loved reading how Coconut turned you into a dog person. How did he find you? 

Carmen: My doctor in Hawaii suggested a dog and so a few months after relocating we went to the only shelter open on the day that we decided to look for a dog. We met a few, but none of them seemed to notice I was in the room. My husband, the dog magnet, grabbed all of their attention. I suggested that since we were getting my emotional support dog, it would help to choose one who came to me first rather than not at all. The counselor, who I later learned was the owner of the rescue, agreed and asked me about what I wanted in a dog. I told him I wanted one that didn’t bark, jump on people, lick, or get on furniture. I wanted a dog that wasn’t annoying. Jim laughed and said he had the perfect dog. He came back into the visiting room with this little brown dog with a long black tail. He had been there for three weeks and no one ever asked to meet him. I guess he was mine from the minute he got rescued in Kentucky. 

WOW: It was meant to be! I loved reading how every proceed goes to a dog shelter. Can you tell me about the shelter you are partnering with? 

Carmen: Second Chance Shelter is a 501 (c) (3) non-profit, no-kill dog shelter in Boaz, Alabama dedicated to saving the lives of dogs who are scheduled to be euthanized the day they are rescued. Once they are spayed or neutered, have all of their vaccinations, and are ready to travel, they come to Northeastern Wisconsin. The sister group is Second Chance North, a foster-to-adoption group who works to help these dogs find their happily ever after families. 

WOW: How incredible! Now, you invite people to submit their stories to you! How can people do that? 

Carmen: The first step is to visit https://wagawaypublishing.com/sample-stories to read sample stories from the first book of the Wag Away Tale series. I finally have a title for book number two! Rescued Love: Second-Chance Dogs and Their Happily Ever After Tales will follow that same format and cover many of the same themes. People can learn more at https://wagawaypublishing.com/submit-a-story. The deadline has been extended for people who are reading about it through these blogs and interviews. I have saved space for what I know will be some awesome stories. People can also email me at carmen[at]carmenleal[dot]com for more information. People do not need to be a professional writer. Some of my favorite stories from I Chose You are ones where people trusted me to share their stories after they emailed me what I call a brain dump. 

WOW: I hope many WOW readers take advantage of contributing their stories! In addition to the next in the series for I Chose You, what else are you working on? 

Carmen: I have gotten the rights back from a marketing book I wrote and I will be releasing that book next year. I finally have a title which is such a big deal for me. This book is for anyone who wants to learn more about how to market their book whether it’s self-published or it has gone through a traditional route. The Art of Ask: How to Market Your Book Without Doing Stuff You Hate. I also got the rights back for a series of four gift books based on Psalm Twenty-Three. I’ll be adding a few more stories and packaging all four into one book for those who are going through difficult times. I’m still working on that title. 

WOW: Both books sounds like amazing contributions to the reading world! What do you hope people take away from reading I Chose You

Carmen: The first and most important thing I want people to take away is that the right dog at the right time changes everything. I also want people to know that you don’t have to adopt to save a life. You can volunteer, foster, donate money, buy dog food, or use your own unique gifts and talents to make a difference. And the last thing is that there are tons of resources to help you be the best dog parent ever. I have a Facebook dog community and we would love your readers to join us at https://www.facebook.com/rescuemoredogs.

WOW: Best of luck to you! I can't wait to see what you come out with next!

I Chose You: Imperfectly Perfect Rescue Dogs and Their Humans by Carmen Leal Blog Tour

--- Blog Tour Calendar

April 17th @ The Muffin
Join us at WOW as we celebrate the launch of I Chose You by Carmen Leal. Read an interview with the author and enter for a chance to win a copy of the book.

April 18th @ Pages & Paws
Join Kristine for her review of I Chose You by Carmen Leal.

April 18th @ Rockin Book Reviews
Visit Lu Ann's blog for her review of I Chose You by Carmen Leal.

April 20th @ Pages & Paws
Visit Kristine's blog again for a guest post by the author about the lifesaving value of dogs.

April 22nd @ A Wonderful World of Words
Visit Joy's blog for her review of I Chose You by Carmen Leal. You can also win a copy of the book too!

April 24th @ Finished Pages
Join Renee for her review of I Chose You by Carmen Leal.

April 24th @ Writer, Writer Pants on Fire
Join Mindy for a guest post by Carmen Leal about the challenges facing rescues and shelters post-COVID.

April 25th @ Barbara Barth's Art and Words
Join Barbara for her review of I Chose You by Carmen Leal.

April 26th @ A Storybook World
Join Deirdra's blog for a guest post by Carmen Leal about buying a home long distance and the challenges of living in a house built in 1875.

April 28th @ The Mommies Review
Join Glenda for her review of I Chose You by Carmen Leal.

April 30th @ Seaside Book Nook
Visit Jilleen's blog for her review of I Chose You by Carmen Leal.

May 1st @ World of My Imagination
Visit Nicole's blog for her review of I Chose You by Carmen Leal.

May 2nd @ Literary Quicksand
Visit Joli's blog for her review of I Chose You by Carmen Leal.

May 3rd @ Beverley A. Baird's blog
Join Beverley for her review of I Chose You by Carmen Leal.

May 4th @ Knotty Needle
Join Judy's blog for her review of I Chose You by Carmen Leal.

May 5th @ Adventures With Canines
Join Sara's blog for a guest post by Carmen Leal about her upcoming books and how your readers can be featured in my next rescue dog book.

May 6th @ Lisa Haselton's Reviews and Interviews
Join Lisa for her interview with Carmen Leal about her book I Chose You.

May 7th @ What Is That Book About
Join Michelle for a feature of I Chose You by Carmen Leal.

May 8th @ Adventures With Canines
Visit Sara's blog again for her review of I Chose You by Carmen Leal.

May 10th @ Beverley A. Baird's blog
Visit Beverley's blog again for a guest post by Carmen Leal about moving from Hawaii to Wisconsin after 60 and how to make a new life.

May 11th @ The Mommies Review
Visit Glenda's blog again for a guest post by Carmen Leal about why rescuing a dog makes sense.

May 13th @ Storeybook Reviews
Visit Leslie's blog for her review of I Chose You by Carmen Leal.

May 14th @ Book Reviews from an Avid Reader
Visit Joan's blog for her review of I Chose You by Carmen Leal.

May 15th @ Word Magic
Join Fiona for a guest post by Carmen Leal about the difference between a rescue, shelters, and fostering.

May 18th @ Liberate and Lather
Join Angela for her review of I Chose You by Carmen Leal.

May 21st @ Balance and Joy
Visit Sheri's blog for her review of I Chose You by Carmen Leal.

***** BOOK GIVEAWAY *****

Enter to win a copy of I Chose You: Imperfectly Perfect Rescue Dogs and Their Humans by Carmen Leal! Fill out the Rafflecopter form by April 30th at 11:59 CT for a chance to win. We will choose a winner randomly the next day and follow up via email. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Anonymous said...

I’m so honored to be included on your blog. I truly thank you for putting this together.

traveler said...

I have had several rescues. They give me love, happiness, enjoyment and are exceptional dogs. They are so smart, loving, sweet and happy. What a wonderful story.saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

Heather Swanson said...

Such an inspiring story to live by!

Lori Padgett said...

We have had rescue dogs in the past and they were wonderful. Miss them so much.

Anonymous said...

Title of your book is priceless! Any animal lover will immediately want to pick it up and start reading.

JeannieD said...

Thank you for this book - I believe more people would rather read about these wonderful rescue dogs than any other books out there.
We have always gone to the pound for our pups and I love being in the company of folks who believe in adopting.

Renee Roberson said...

As the mom of a very senior rescue dog, this book hits all the right notes for me. I look forward to hosting the book on my blog next week!

Wanda B said...

This book looks absolutely amazing and I would love to read it.

Andrea said...

I rescued a BlacK Lab and he was the best thing that ever happened to me.

Kirsten Lyon said...

I love how friendly dogs are and would love to hear more about their special bond with people!

Dot Mann said...

I love how loyal dogs are to their owners

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