Pair realize lifelong dream with publishing of `Do Dogs Dream?’
Special to The Aspen Times
Two Aspen women realized a lifelong dream when their children’s book was published.
While Katy Etheridge and ChiChi Villaloz both say “Do Dogs Dream?” represents just one accomplishment on long to-do lists, the women are enjoying the feeling that comes with having a book in print.
Etheridge grew up in San Antonio, and, with a mother who was a school teacher, she learned early on the importance of books.
She was also instilled with a great love for children and the ways they learn. When she moved to Aspen, Etheridge took a job with Aspen Skiing Co.’s Powder Pandas ski school. She currently works as a broker at a real estate company.
She said the book was something that she dreamed of doing, but like many authors today it was something that simply came together over time.
Perhaps the most important moment in the book’s creation was when Etheridge met Villaloz, who grew up in Haverford, Va. She has worked at The Aspen Branch for the past six years.
She said she also had a desire to write a children’s book and brought along a love of animals to the table. Villaloz’ malamute, Cisco, who was was adopted from an animal shelter, was the inspiration for the book.
Etheridge and Villaloz enrolled in a class at Colorado Mountain College on how to self-publish a book. It was in this class, under the “incredible direction and leadership” of Melanie Friedersdorf-Humphry, the two say, that they began to see the first step of writing a book.
They began tossing around ideas for the book’s theme. They had recently visited Antarctica and while there had realized there were no good children’s books about the region.
But they quickly realized that “we are terrible artists.” They tried a few different ideas, but ultimately none of them worked. With their jobs picking up, the book went on the back burner and they decided to work on the art separately to see if they could come up with something.
A few weeks later they met in Las Vegas to compare and contrast ideas. They combined ideas, interestingly enough, in the decision to use cut-and-paste-type artwork.
They then holed up in Villaloz’ apartment for a week to brainstorm ideas.
Their artwork neared completion, but it still had some obstacles to overcome before it landed in the book. It landed in a big mud puddle as Villaloz was taking it to be photocopied. And the girls still weren’t sure if they liked the product of their efforts.
On their second pass at creating the artwork, the girls were a little more confident with their ability and style. They began to see the book coming together.
Still, many details – a cover design, a font, page numbers, etc. – remained. So what did they do? They went back to school.
“I have taken every class available at CMC,” Villaloz laughed.
She designed the pages and the cover while Etheridge filled out the paperwork for the Library of Congress.
“We really had no clue what we had to do, we were just learning as the process continued,” Etheridge said.
Six weeks after the final copy was sent to the printers, the girls got their first copy of the book that officially made them authors.
“It is like our little baby,” Villaloz remarked.
The book’s outcome has been far more than even the women could have expected.
“We did so many things right without even knowing it,” Villaloz said.
The pair says children have responded with enthusiasm to the book.
“It is amazing to hear the dialogue of the children as they think about dogs dreaming,” Etheridge said.
The girls have been to book readings and have had kids running up and hugging them after the story was over. Just watching the kids respond to their work makes all of the frustration, setbacks, time and cost worth it, they say.
They also received a letter from first lady Laura Bush thanking them for their book. All of these outcomes are things the pair never expected.
“All we wanted to do was be invited to our teacher’s authors tea at CMC,” Etheridge laughed.
Villaloz and Etheridge are sticking with the dreaming theme in their next book, “Do Cats Dream?”
After all, it is dreaming that got them here in the first place.
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