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Interview with Mercy Hansen Mize

Mercy Hansen Mize 

Samson's Tail

She has taught elementary school for 17 years and has been an animal lover her entire life. In April 2015, Mercy and her husband Brian adopted Samson from the DAWGS Prison Program, and there began her passion for dog adoption and training. Since then, she and her husband support this amazing nonprofit organization that helps dogs, inmates, and forever families. Samson’s Tail was inspired by this program and Mercy’s desire to educate and promote its worthy cause. Therefore, a portion of the proceeds from the sales of Samson’s Tail will go to support the DAWGS Prison Program.


Q.1 Tell us something about yourself, not many people know?

A. I grew up in a small town in New Hampshire. I rode and competed for horses in shows and events. As a teenager, I rescued horses off the racetrack, trained them, and sold them. I miss riding and plan to own a horse again at some point. I just have to talk my husband into it.


Q.2 When should we expect your next book? What will it be about?

A. Not planning the next book at this time. I am very busy with teaching and promoting Samson’s Tail.


Q.3 What made you write Samson’s Tail? Also, let our readers know about the DAWGS Prison Program.

A. As an elementary school teacher, I had always wanted to write a children’s picture book, but I never knew my story. When my husband and I adopted Samson from The DAWGS Prison Program in 2015, my passion for dog adoption, and this program was ignited. We took Samson everywhere with us, and people would always comment on how well behaved he was. We would tell them how he was saved from a shelter and placed in a prison program. There he lived in a cell with his handler, and under the watchful eye of expert trainers from the DAWGS Prison Program, he was trained in all basic commands, was house-trained, crate trained, and well socialized. So, when we adopted him, he was the best dog ever, and everyone agreed! No one had ever heard of this program or others like it, and it was then that I knew the story I had to tell.

The DAWGS Prison Program is an amazing non-profit organization owned by Steve and Amy Eckert in Pottsville, PA. This amazing program saves dogs from shelters and placing them in prisons. They live in a cell with their handler and are trained before being placed in their forever families. This program benefits the dogs, the inmates/handlers, and the forever families. If you can adopt a dog from a prison program in your area, you are not only helping a dog, you are helping a human, too.


Q.4 What actually goes on when the author and illustrator meet?

A. I published my book with Mascot Books, so my process to find an illustrator was a little different. Mascot sent me examples of styles, I chose styles I liked, they sent me portfolios of illustrators, and then I chose the three I liked best. After that, those three illustrators drew their rendition of Samson and Trevor, the main characters in my story, and I chose Rachel Novel because I loved her Samson! From there, we worked together page age to get the illustrations exactly what I wanted. I sent Rachel detailed notes about what I wanted on each page, she did a wonderful job, and I love how the illustrations turned out.


Q.5 What do you love most about writing stories for children?

A. As a teacher, I love to write a story that teaches children something. A story that creates conversations and discussion.  I also love to see children enjoying my story and asking questions. I will never forget the first time I read my story aloud to children; it was an incredible experience; my dream had come true.


Q.6 Why do you think it is important for children to develop a love of reading?

A. I think it is important for children to develop a love of reading because it helps to build their vocabulary, inspires their imagination, it builds confidence and helps them to be able to see the world in a new and exciting way.


Q.7 Many writers describe themselves as “character” or “plot” writers. Which are you? What do you find to be the hardest part of writing?

A. In my story, Samson’s Tail, I had an idea of the story I wanted to tell, so I would consider with this book I was a “plot.” writer. I think the hardest part of writing is the revising/editing stage.


Q.8 Which children’s book most inspired you as a child?

A. I have been inspired by so many children’s books as a child and now as a 2nd-grade teacher. Some of my favorites are The Giving Tree, The Dot, Last Stop on Market Street, Sulwe, The Girl Who Never Made Mistakes, Emmanuel’s Dream, All Are Welcome Here, Be Kind, and more!


Q.9 Do you have any advice for aspiring children’s book authors?

A. My advice to aspiring children’s book authors would be to read LOTS of children’s books. Choose books that are similar to your book's topic; it is amazing how much you can learn from just reading and familiarizing yourself with the genre.


Q.10 Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with good or bad ones?

A. I read reviews written on my book, and I enjoy hearing people’s opinions of my books. It makes me feel so grateful when I get a good review, and I see that the reader understood my purpose and agrees with my mission and the DAWGS prison program's mission. When I get a bad review, it is hard to take at first, but I understand that everyone has the right to his or her opinion and I try to not let it bother me. Thankfully, so far, I have received better than bad reviews!


Q.11 Outside of your family members, name one an entity that supported your commitment to become a published author?

A. My acquisition editor from Mascot Books, Jess Cohn was and is wonderful support! Right from the start, Jess saw the importance of sharing Samson’s story, and she was there for me every step of the way. She and her family have even come to many of my author events at bookstores.


Q.12 How will you describe your life before and after getting published?

A. Before publishing Samson’s Tail, I always dreamed of publishing a book, but I never really knew my story. Once we adopted Samson and learned all about the DAWGS prison program, I knew the story I wanted to share. Once Samson’s Tail was published, my whole life changed! I have been so inspired to market my book and get Samson’s story out there. I have been so busy with author signings, reading, events, online social media, etc. I have enjoyed every step of the process and I am so grateful to everyone who has supported me, my mission, and the mission of the DAWGS prison program.


Q.13 What are the three most important things in your life?

A. The three most important things in my life are family, eating healthy, and traveling.


Q.14 What are you reading now?

A. I am currently reading A Promised Land by Barack Obama, which was a Christmas present from my husband.


Q.15 What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

A. When I am not writing, I enjoy reading, hiking, cooking, baking, traveling, volunteering, and riding horses.


Q.16 As a child, what do you want to do when you grew up?

A. As a child, I always wanted to be a teacher. I would set up all of my stuffed animals as my students and give them quizzes on the material I taught.


Q.17 Do you have a particular drink or food you consume when you write?

A. No.


Q.18 Can you share with us something off your bucket list?

A. I hope to continue to travel to a variety of different countries to learn more about different cultures, to meet new people, and to have new, exciting experiences.


Q.19 What is your favorite book, and why?

A. I have so many favorite books; see above for my favorite titles.


Q.20 Share the experience of your journey so far?

A. My journey started years ago when I dreamed of writing a children’s picture book. The year I published my book was amazing. I was so busy with events, signings, interviews, and readings every weekend, I was scheduled for something new. It was wonderful to have reached my goal and to be able to share Samson’s story. Then, when COVID hit, everything slowed down, including my book sales. So, now I am attempting to promote my book more on social media and online. I hope that the new year will bring more opportunities for events, readings, signing, etc., to continue to spread the word about the DAWGS Prison Program and others like it!


Share your social account links -

Facebook - @SamsonsTailBook

LinkedIn - Mercy Mize

Instagram - @Samsonstailbook

Twitter - @Samsonstailbook



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