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Interview: Pat Snyder, Author of The Dog Ate My Planner

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Everyone needs a bit of humor in their life, just to make it bearable at times.  Pat Snyder, author of The Dog Ate My Planner, is the perfect person to bring such an important aspect, easily, to a person's life.  Recently, Ms. Snyder took the time to answer a few questions and give readers a bit of a peek the type of person she is and I know you will be as delighted as I was!

Could you please tell us about your writing process?

I generally write short pieces, 500-600 words, and mind map each one before I start – horizontally in a spiral notebook. It’s not so scary starting that way and gets me to the detail I want.

Do you have any particular habits that you take part in while writing? By that I mean certain music you like to listen to, foods you like to eat, environment that helps you write better, etc.

I clean off my desk, so there are not a lot distracting to-dos in sight and I can concentrate on the project. If I get stuck, I go for a walk. Because my writing/eating is so mindless, I try to stick with carrots and celery. On an undisciplined day, I can go through a bag of Trader Joe’s dark chocolate covered pretzels in 3.5 minutes. For the antioxidants.

Where do you get your ideas and inspirations?

Since aggravations fuel my humor writing, I eavesdrop a lot in restaurants and elevators to pick up on universal aggravations. I also lurk on Facebook for ideas. Someone’s usually venting.

How do you come up with the names of your characters? It almost seems as though, as an author, you have the continuous fun of naming children!

The closest I’ve come to naming characters as a humorist is giving nicknames to real people. My late husband, for example, appears as Gadget Man because he never saw an electronic device he didn’t like. My hot-tempered younger son appears as HT, for Hair Trigger.

What do you want readers to take away from reading The Dog Ate My Planner?

If you can, simplify your life. If some dog still gets you from out in left field, then learn to laugh away the chaos.

What was the most fun about writing The Dog Ate My Planner?

Noticing all the systems my friends and family and I had set up to deal with having too much on our plates. Of course, in the “Leash Laws” coping tips following each chapter, I offered up some more!

What was the hardest part about writing The Dog Ate My Planner?

The tedium. I like writing 500-600 word pieces, quick hits. The sections in the book are all short, which makes the book ideal for, say, a doctor’s waiting room. But all in all, it’s 194 pages, which meant lots of checking for consistency and typos as I went. Aarghh!!!

What do you hope to accomplish within the next five years?

Last May, just a month before The Dog’s original release date, the dog really ate my planner with the unexpected death of my husband. With the children grown, the last still in college, I’m playing with ways to write about this new phase of my life, but in my current state, a five-year plan is an oxymoron.

What are you working on right now and can you give us a sneak peek? A small excerpt?

Sorry if this sounds ghoulish, but I’m working on a piece inspired by last week’s trip to the cemetery. Here are the first few bars….

“I’ve never been the jealous type. So I shocked myself the other day when I shrieked at the discovery that my late husband is now residing just inches away from another woman. The nearest other marker at this miles-long cemetery is yards away.

Somehow last spring, in the throes of fresh grief, I had missed this inevitable development on the cemetery map, where each lot is the size of half a Chiclet. Maybe I left my reading glasses at home. Maybe they wouldn’t have helped…”

If you had to summarize your life and give it a book title, what would that title be?

The Dog Ate My Planner.

What are you reading right now?

The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Mariel Barbary.

Who are some of your favorite authors?

Eudora Welty, Anna Quindlen, Barbara Kingsolver, Jonathon Safran Foer.

If you could have lunch and chat with any author, dead or alive, who would it be and why?

Eudora Welty. I admire her keen powers of observation, economy of words, and mastery of both the essay and short story forms. “How did you manage all this?” I’d ask, and she would say, “Go read my work. It speaks for itself.” So it might have been a very short conversation. 


A bit about Pat Synder:  

For nearly a decade, Pat Snyder, a recovering attorney and mother of three, has chronicled her crazed struggle to lead a balanced life in “Balancing Act,” a regular humor column that appears in Suburban News Publications, a chain of 22 weekly papers in the Columbus, Ohio, area.

When she is not dancing around in a Dr. Seuss hat and leading laugh-ins as a certified laughter leader with the World Laughter Tour, Pat speaks on life balance and leads workshops to help others bring more humor into their lives and their writing.

Before law school, as a reporter for the Akron Beacon Journal, she won state and national journalism awards. When her marriage to the late Bob Snyder made him both an unsuspecting stepparent and first-time parent, the two of them co-authored a Sunday column for The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer on the challenges of stepfamily living. Her account of their adventures combining his Hanukkah traditions with her Christmas ones was published in the book A Cup of Comfort for Christmas.

The Dog Ate My Planner: Tales and Tips from an Overbooked Life is her first book.

Pat lives in Columbus, Ohio, with all the dogs that eat her planner. Visit her online at www.PatSnyderOnline.com

Find her also on Facebook (click here/Pat Snyder) and LinkedIn (www.linkedin.com/in/patsnyder

Also, look for her weekday lunch hour “tweets” on time management and life balance from Henry the Time Management Dog (www.twitter.com/plannerdog) and her Sunday afternoon posts on her blog, The Dog Journal (www.PatSnyderOnline/journal).    

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