By ARUN SIVASANKARAN
Forum Publishing Group
Andrea MacVicar, children's book writer and a retired pastor, was in college when she rescued Zoftic, a black Labrador pup, from behind her yard.
"It was 1977. I was in my 30's and we were living in Michigan," the Coral Springs resident said. "There was a large field behind our house. One day, I heard puppies crying and walked out to see five Labrador pups. Someone had abandoned them. Four of them were male. I adopted the female."
Zoftic more than returned the favor, in life and even after its death.
"Tales of Zoftic," a book that has the Labrador as the central character, has not only won MacVicar praise but also helped her raise more than $5,000 for charity. The money will help the Humane Society, Friends of Greyhounds, Wycliffe Bible Translators and Christian Aid Mission.
"When I got her, I was taking a lot of creative writing courses and had to do exercises in rhyme," MacVicar said. "I wrote two poems on her adventures. I enjoyed it but did not do anything more with it. A little later, I became a pastor."
The poems caught her attention again in 2003, when she retired from being a full-time pastor. "As I read them again, I had this idea of doing an entire book in rhyme," she said. "It took me two years to write the book, and I spent another two years trying to find a publisher. Finally, we decided to publish the book ourselves. We wanted to give all the money we got from the book to charity."
"The book is about two love stories – in one, Zoftic helps her master find a life partner. In the second story, [the dog] falls in love with a German shepherd, a police dog," MacVicar said. "I wrote it for third and fourth grade students. Many adults have told me they enjoyed the book as well. I have had nothing but positive reviews. A literary agent said the rhyme is impeccable, while a teacher said the vocabulary is very rich."
The book impresses Karen Granger, a publicist by trade. "It is a real sweet story about family love and a loving pet. I initially thought it would be kind of cheesy to write a full book in rhyme, but I was really impressed. I remember thinking 'this woman is really sharp.'"
The book will make a great gift, Granger said. "It's a book with a mission," she said. "I will give some out for Christmas. Anybody who likes pets will love the book."
MacVicar is writing again these days. "It's a mystery science fiction for middle school children. This is prose, a different book entirely. Any writing is a matter of skill, craft and inspiration. I like the challenge of doing something new."
"When I preach, I receive immediate feedback," MacVicar said. "Writing is on the lonely side. You don't know how effective it is. But I know I'm reaching out to people in a different way."
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