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Write On Ottawa: How a charity fundraiser allowed a local author to fulfil her literary dream

By Alejandro Bustos on January 22, 2014

Good things do happen to kind people.  Just ask local author Tammie Winsor, whose touching story is proof that a charitable heart can make your dreams come true.

Back in November 2012, Winsor was listening to the very popular CBC Ottawa radio program All in a Day.  Host Alan Neal was talking about the Hopes and Dreams contest, an annual fundraiser by the Shepherds of Good Hope that takes place during the holiday season.

Listeners could enter the contest by emailing CBC with their dreams, with the lucky contest winners getting the opportunity to make them come true.

“I sent Alan a 14-word email that stated, ‘My dream is to publish a children’s book that I wrote many years ago,'”  Winsor tells Apartment613.  “I never gave the email any more thought, so a week or so later when I received an email from Alan stating I was one of nine finalists in the contest I was a little taken aback.”

Each finalist had five days to raise money for the Shepherds of Good Hope.  The CBC committed to doing everything it could to make the dreams of the top three fundraisers a reality.  After collecting an impressive $2,310 in a few days Winsor was among the lucky trio.

As a result of her charitable work, Winsor published this past October Jack and the Fairy Dogmother, a lovely story aimed at children from pre-school to grade two.

“It took the CBC initiative to ignite the spark,” says Winsor.  “I wrote Jack and the Fairy Dogmother approximately 16 years ago but essentially shelved it.  I am forever indebted to Alan and CBC for kicking me in the pants!”

The book revolves around a messy boy named Jack who gets a Dalmatian puppy for his birthday.  Jack doesn’t give much thought about his untidy ways, but when his dog starts losing his spots, and Jack is visited by a Fairy Dogmother, he learns that his slobby ways are having a negative impact on his little pup.  This revelation teaches him the importance of being neat.

fairyIllustrated by Ottawa graphic designer Greg Money, the book is a fun read for both parents and children. The anti-mess/pro-clean message is also a big plus!

“Whenever I tell children and parents alike what the story is about the children smile and the parents nod as most can relate,” says Winsor.  “I often sign the books – ‘Don’t forget to tidy your bedroom!’”

In addition to teaching children to clean up their messes, the book also promotes taking care of pets.

“My message to children and parents that are considering a new pet is that since pets are a lot of work, and a big financial commitment at that, start small – try fish, and see how that goes,” says Winsor, whose family has numerous animals.  (Her husband and three children have a dog, bearded dragon, budgie, garter snake and a school of fish).  “When we travel we always have to work out the care of all of our pets into our plan well in advance of our trip, even if it is just for an overnight trip.”

Winsor also plans to continue raising money for charity.

“Greg and I also provide 30-minute author/illustrator visits to schools and nursery schools for preschool aged children to grade two,” she says.  “At the end of the presentation we leave the teachers with an order form for each child.  Fifty cents from each book sold is donated to the Shepherds of Good Hope and 50 cents remains with the school.”

Winsor is currently booking school visits for April to June and can be reached at tammie.winsor@gmail.com.

Looking forward, Winsor aims to publish more books about Jack.  “I have drafted the next two books which at the moment are titled, Caveman Jack and Wakeup Jack,” she reveals.

 Jack and the Fairy Dogmother is available at Books on Beechwood, local Chapters stores, and through Winsor’s publisher General Store Publishing House.  You can also purchase a copy via Amazon or Indigo.  On February 15, from noon to 4 pm, Winsor will be signing copies of her book at Chapters on Rideau Street and then again at Chapters Gloucester the following Saturday, February 22 at 10:30 am.