I always consider myself incredibly lucky when I get to meet and interact with fellow authors. And Michelle Feinberg is one of those people that not only inspires you but puts a smile on your face with her kindness, her creativity and her generosity. And talk about knocking it out of the park, this is an author who’s transformed her career and life to uplift children and animals and leave a footprint of care on this earth.
Michelle is a retired attorney and a mom of five children, an adopted dog—and yes, a mouse. It’s no wonder she’s an expert at reading (and writing) children’s books! And as a huge animal lover and supporter of animal welfare organizations, Michelle volunteers regularly living by her mission to help teach children about kindness to animals and the importance of pet adoption.
In her words, “I’ve enjoyed virtual visits with classrooms to read the book, discuss dogs and pet adoption, and the process of becoming an author. One lesson I try to instill is that it is perfectly okay (in fact expected) to not get it right the first (or fifth) time! But to keep on trying, revisiting, revising.”
Her book Please Don’t Tell Cooper He’s a Dog is dedicated to the memory of her brother who loved all dogs. Read on to “meet” and be inspired by Michelle.
You are an author, but is it your day job? I guess you could say that being an author is now officially my day job. That is, when I can carve out time while raising five children and chasing after our nutty dog, Cooper. Being an author doesn’t really feel like work, though, but rather an escape and chance to be creative.
Did you always want to be an author? Not really! I’ve always enjoyed writing, and over the years have mostly written as a hobby. As a teenager I filled many books with poetry, and as a young adult I started a couple of novels which someday I hope to finish. For many years I was practicing law, which I very much enjoyed, and continued to write just for fun. Lately I have been writing short stories and children’s books. I did not always think that writing would be my primary focus, and now I am really happy that it is.
What is your most recent book and what inspired you to write it? Please Don’t Tell Cooper He’s a Dog is my most recent (and only, so far!) published book, which is a children’s picture book published in November 2020. I wanted to combine my love for animals and writing to create a children’s book that would help spread the word about kindness to animals and pet adoption. Cooper the dog is based on our old rescue dog, Charlie, who clearly did not think he was a dog. When we bought him a dog bed, he became so excited, as if he were thinking “are we finally getting a dog??” He never set a paw on that dog bed, not once.
How do you hope your book uplifts those who read it? Laughter feels great, and it is next to impossible to avoid giggling when reading this book. It is also heart-warming to see how a shelter dog becomes such an important member of a loving family.
What are you most excited about with this book? It’s almost surreal to me that something that was merely an idea in my head is now a book that families are buying and enjoying together! I also love that people are learning more about the importance of pet adoption through the story and from the information at the end of the book.
How did writing a book help your career take off? Well, I’m not so sure my career as an author has actually taken off yet. It feels more like I am taxiing and awaiting clearance. When it does take off, I will circle back to you!
What advice would you give to someone wanting to succeed in your professional industry? Don’t write to sell. Instead, write something that you love that will be worth reading.
How do you handle setbacks and criticism? If it is constructive criticism, I consider the source and see what I might learn from it. There will always be people that do not like what I write. I remind myself that there are plenty of books that are probably loved by many that I just cannot get into. If we all liked and disliked the same things, what a terribly boring world this would be.
How do you hold yourself accountable and achieve the goals that you set forth? I think it starts with setting the right goals in the first place. The goals must be specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timely. I like to keep the goal I have in mind visible to me, so I will write it on the huge white board in my office. If I fall behind or slip up? I let it go and just get back to it. If you get on the wrong train, you get off at the first stop and change direction. You do not continue onto the wrong destination.
How do you structure your day and make time for writing? When working from home it can be so hard to delineate work time from everything else. I generally try to keep my working hours during the kids’ school hours, with breaks for exercise and sanity.
What do you find most fulfilling in the career that you’ve chosen? The idea of families enjoying my book together makes me so happy. We all are dealing with different struggles, and how fulfilling it is for me to know that I’m bringing some moments of laughter in these families’ days.
What book uplifts you? The Count of Monte Cristo is definitely a book that uplifts me; and I have read it at different challenging times in my life. One message in particular that sticks with me is that sometimes we need to go through some tough times in order to truly appreciate the good times.
Anything else you’d like to share with your readers? Thank you for buying my book! If you love Cooper the dog, you can look forward to two more books about Cooper that are currently in the works!
Please visit Michelle via her website www.cooperthedog.com and say “hello” to Cooper!
Images Courtesy of Michelle Lander Feinberg