Guest Blog: Leland and Angelo Dirks w/ a Giveaway!

I am really really happy to have Leland and Angelo on my blog today! I just finished Angelo’s Journey yesterday and it was a really great read.  My review for it will be up a little later but for now my blog is Leland’s and Angelo’s for the day!  Enjoy

Leland Dirks (me): Hey Angelo! Misty at the Top Shelf has asked us to do a guest blog!

Angelo: Hey, isn’t she the one who lives with that adorable Maggie Moo?

Me: Yep, that’s the one!

Angelo: Well, tell her yes!

Me: I already did!

Angelo: Oh. Okay, well, get to writing!

Sigh. That’s what it’s like when your co-author is a Border Collie. He has all the ideas, and I get to do all the work. Shhh. Don’t tell him I said that.

I’ve wanted to be a writer since I was a little kid. I wrote lots of poetry, and a little fiction, and I was hooked. My teachers encouraged me, my oldest brother encouraged me, and family friends encouraged me. But alas, there was no money in it, so I did the next best thing. I became a corporate bureaucrat. That’s not entirely fair. I was a technical writer, editor, and process designer. So I still got to write, but not about the things I wanted to.

Fast forward a few years, and I’m laid off of my job. I wind up consulting for a while. I get to travel to fun places. And I get to do more technical writing, editing, and process design.

Finally, I’d had it. I bought a little piece of land in the middle of a beautiful nowhere in southern Colorado, and I decided I’d fulfill a different lifelong dream. I’d build my own house, and it would be as ecologically friendly as possible. So that’s where I live now. In a house that’s powered only by the sun, and heated only by passive solar and a little wood stove.

So how’d I get into writing to make a living? Well, last year, NPR’s Weekend All Things Considered had another round of their Three Minute Fiction contest (there’s one going on now, but hurry! It ends on the 25th!). I submitted 600 words. And it changed my life. It reminded me of how much I love writing. It helped me meet a few delightful folks who love writing as much as I do. We formed an online writing group.

I decided, what the heck, what if I write a novella and self-publish it? What if I just skip right on by the gatekeepers of the publishing industry? And I did just that. Six months later, my first book, Angelo’s Journey: A Border Collie’s Quest for home is at #1 or #2 on the Kindle best selling dog book list. It’s based on a 40-day period of my life that was just about the worst. My Border Collie co-author took off after something, and didn’t come back. Our wonderful UPS delivery driver found him about 25 miles away, and I imagined what had happened to him in all that time. Angelo told me as much as he could, and I filled in the gaps.

We also collaborated on a book of poetry, called Border Collie Haiku. It’s currently only available on Kindle (formatting poetry is hard!).

And our latest book, Seven Dogs in Heavenwas just released for both the Kindle and nook. It’ll be out in paperback around the first of October. It’s part memoir, part fable, and part fantasy. The narrator freezes to death, and wakes up in a strange place. The angels he meets don’t have halos or wings; they have tails and four legs. And they have a whole lot to teach him.

The new book also has a bonus short story called Christmas with a Collie, which would be a delightful thing to share with your favorite canine for Christmas.

And that brings us back to the present. Let me check with the head writer to see if he has anything more to say.

Angelo: We’d really like to thank Misty for all her support in helping get the word out about our books. And if Misty and Maggie Moo ever get to Colorado, we hope they’ll stop and visit.

Me: HEY! Those are MY notes!

Angelo: Yeah, but I sound more sincere.

Me: Sigh. Okay. Your baritone voice does sound good.

Angelo: Hey, shouldn’t you be writing or something?

Leland lives in the middle of a beautiful nowhere that is Colorado’s San Luis Valley. Angelo, the world famous Border Collie, and Maggie, his black Lab philosopher mix, allow him to share their off-grid home. All three tolerate The Cat who does a merely adequate job of rodent control.

Leland has built the majority of the 1800 square foot all-solar home over almost four years, but is grateful to friends and neighbors who have helped with some of the heavy lifting. His website is



Leland is offering up a signed paperback copy of Angelo’s Journey!  All you have to do to enter is comment below.  Winners will be picked by on Wednesday 09/21 at 5PM Eastern.  Good Luck!

Synopsis: Border Collie tries his paw at haiku, and his human adds pictures to illustrate each poem. More than 30 poems with a point of view about four feet lower than the average human’s. You’ll enjoy getting inside the world’s smartest dog’s head.

Buy it now at:
Amazon (Kindle)

Synopsis: A Border Collie is brutally kidnapped. He escapes his captor and starts the long journey home, meeting a truck driver, a long-abused wife, a Marine, a cowboy and two grandmothers. Their lives will never be the same after meeting Angelo. Sometimes, all it takes to avert a disaster is the light touch of a canine paw.

A warning to friends who’ve enjoyed my other books: The Marine, the cowboy, and the truckdriver in this book use some language that may not be suitable for younger readers.

Buy Now At:
Amazon ( Kindle ) | Barnes and Noble ( Nook )
Amazon ( Print ) | Barnes and Noble ( Print )

Synopsis: Part memoir, part fable, and part fantasy, this is the story of a man who dies unexpectedly and makes his way to Paradise with the help of the canine friends who shared his life.

What if you lived in the middle of a beautiful nowhere, with a dog who mysteriously appeared at your door? What if you were out hiking one winter day, you broke your leg, and you froze to death? And what if the angels who met you had four feet instead of wings? Would you listen to the lessons they wanted to teach you?

This edition also includes a bonus short story, Christmas with a Collie.

Buy it now at:
Amazon ( Kindle ) | Barnes and Noble ( Nook )

Misty graduated from Capital University in 2005 with a degree in English Literature. She is an avid reader and is the owner of The Top Shelf

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Misty graduated from Capital University in 2005 with a degree in English Literature. She is an avid reader and is the owner of The Top Shelf

14 thoughts on “Guest Blog: Leland and Angelo Dirks w/ a Giveaway!

  • September 20, 2011 at 11:56 am

    Leland , I’m curious as you like to add Marines to your books. Is there a reason for that? I’m guessing a Marine has affected your life? Also, if you could buy a wind powered tower to create electricity would you get one? I have been enjoying your books a lot, Seven Dogs in Heaven made me cry…twice! Good luck with your next book and keep em’ coming!

  • September 20, 2011 at 12:00 pm

    I just wanna let you guys know that Leland’s satellite internet connection doesn’t like my site too much. He is able to get on here sometimes but most of the time it says connection dropped. He will answer any questions you have as soon as he can get on here. If we find that’s impossible, I will find other ways to get your questions answered 🙂

  • September 20, 2011 at 12:20 pm

    Hey Angelo and Leland – I always knew that when I went to Heaven I would see only 4-legged friends and family. I’ve had many a sentient feline or canine in my life and I would imagine that I would have been a lesser human without them.

    Nice meeting you both through Misty.
    Best wishes,
    Pam Stack

  • September 20, 2011 at 12:46 pm

    Jan: I have been blessed by knowing a good number of Marines, and they’ve been instrumental at a lot of points in my life. Whether they were bosses, friends, or just acquaintances, I was struck by how brave, generous, and honest they were. When I see a pattern emerge in my life, it makes its way into my writing. I count each of the Marines I’ve met as a blessing.

    On wind energy, I studied the weather patterns on my property for a year before I built anything or decided on strictly solar. We get HUGE winds down here, but they’re not steady. It’s not unusual to have gusts of 80 or 90 mph in spring, but then we get calm. Wind generators work better at constant wind speeds, and actually shut down when the wind goes too fast, so I’m sticking with only solar power until I can figure out how to harness the limitless Border Collie energy .

    Pam! Thanks so much, and I totally agree! Heaven wouldn’t be heaven without those four-legged angels! I’m delighted to have met you!

    And Misty, thanks so much for letting us guest blog!

  • September 20, 2011 at 12:48 pm

    One thing I’ve noticed about your books, Leland…in “Maggie’s Book of Wisdom”, “Border Collie Haiku” and “Angelo’s Journey” and now “Seven Dogs in Heaven”, is that you (and the dogs) have a way of coming at a subject on a realistic, ordinary tone…but by the end of each, one is left with a feeling that one isn’t the same person they were when they started; a message has penetrated that prompts self-examination and thought. Do you have a clear idea of what message you are trying to impart in advance, when you write? Or does it evolve as the story evolves? Obviously, you have something in mind when you begin a story, but does it take on a life of it’s own and become more than originally imagined? Or is this phenomenon carefully crafted before even starting?

  • September 20, 2011 at 1:31 pm

    Pssst…Angelo! I once had a border collie/lab. She looked just like you, except she was a bit more black. Molly’s time here was cut short and I’ll probably cry my way through the books, but maybe that’s a good thing.

    Besides, I think part of her is disguised in my book as a mini dachshund 🙂

  • September 20, 2011 at 2:15 pm

    Emma, great question! It sort of depends. Bad answer! With Seven Dogs in Heaven, the messages were really clear to me before I even typed a word… each of the dogs had a quality that just spoke to me. I played with what word that was (like Faithfulness vs. Fidelity), but the lessons they had for me were clear. With the other books, very much an evolution. I usually start out with an outline that consists really of chapter titles, but the story evolves, and I listen to where the characters take me, whether human or canine. When the characters start taking on minds of their own, I know I owe that character the chance to go with it! Thanks for asking!

  • September 20, 2011 at 2:19 pm

    Nancy, if you cry with Seven Dogs in Heaven, I promise it’ll be a good cry… one of those cries where you realize that what you thought you lost is still with you in some wonderful ways. With Angelo’s Journey, the second chapter will be the only ‘bad’ cry you’ll have… sadness that there are cruel people in the world… but any cries after that will be mixed with laughter and awe…
    I bet Molly was incredible! The love of a lab and the brains of a BC… and I’m glad she’s a good disguise artist… no small trick to fit a heart that large into a mini dachshund!

  • September 20, 2011 at 2:50 pm

    Great blog, Leland, and thank goodness Angelo was at your side to help. I’ve read Angelo’s Journey and Seven Dogs in Heaven. I loved them both.

  • September 20, 2011 at 2:59 pm

    Hey, are you casting aspersions on The Cat?!? (I almost said my The Cat..) 😉
    Loved Emma’s question and your response Leland.
    And your response to Nancy about crying and loss…
    Seven Dogs in Heaven is a fine work Leland, that does just what Emma describes. 🙂
    I just have one question about Angelo’s “tutoring” … and the mixed breed coyote… is that one of the fictional parts of the story? Hope you’re not feeling guilty about that decision… 😉

  • September 20, 2011 at 4:33 pm

    As far as I know, Angelo has never fathered any coyodogs (although such a thing is possible… just go check wikipedia!) … I do wish I could have had one puppy that Angelo fathered… but I know neutering him was the right thing to do… There are so many dogs out there in need of loving homes. Thanks for asking, Nancy.

  • September 21, 2011 at 8:34 pm

    Okay I know I’m late but I was watching season 3 of Fringe! LOL Will us up a winner!

  • September 22, 2011 at 6:37 am

    I had the pleasure of working with Leland on the illustrations for his latest book. Nicest person ever!

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