Resting MWD

Paws on the Ground: A Military Program Inspires a Novel

Rin Tin Tin meets the Hurt Locker.  Paws on the Ground is a novel about US soldiers and the dogs who protect them.

Caleb, Megan and Ramon are young Americans who are fighting for the US in the treacherous and alien terrain of Afghanistan — and Brady, Sammy, and Chica are the dogs who stand between them and death or terrible injury.

This is a novel about the true and ancient bonds of friendship, love, and loyalty as they are tested in the world of modern warfare.

What is “Paws on the Ground?”  It’s what the United States Forces – Afghanistan Provost Marshal Office began calling the military working dogs program in Afghanistan when asked…..which was pretty much daily.  It was a joke at first but caught on quickly, so they rolled with it.

Paws on the Ground is a play on the term Boots on the Ground (BOG).  The BOG  references the amount of US Soldiers on the ground.  In 2010, Managing the BOG to ensure U.S. Forces didn’t exceed the Presidentially mandated 98,000 force cap was a constant source of headaches for Headquarters United States Force – Afghanistan.

There was no such problem with the dogs……….they couldn’t get enough Paws on the Ground!

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38 thoughts on “Paws on the Ground: A Military Program Inspires a Novel

      1. Kevin Hanrahan Post author

        Hi Karen. The book is still with my agent so it is not out yet. I will keep everyone posted though!

    1. Jani Muhlestein

      Meanie. Give us a taste and make us want it, and then…take it away with a “my agent has it”.

      I understand. When my sister published her first novel, it was the same way. She had a fabulous website, with totally cool graphics, and nobody could get it. And her agent was still shopping it around.

      I hope you get a fabulous contract, with a decent advance. Some advice from my sister:

      Don’t take anything less than 10% of the profits. And do not let them do a run more than around 60,000 for the first run. If they need to, they can do a second run quickly. But if they decide to do a 180,000 run, you’re basically screwed, even if it goes exceptionally well. First-books don’t sell that much over the period of time that you have. Even Twilight didn’t sell that much. She didn’t get there until the third run.

      Also, make sure you retain editing rights. Don’t let the editor run you over. If you think it looks stupid that way, it probably is. Don’t be too impressed by some idiot in New York with an English degree and a job with a publishing house. You’re far cooler.

      Keep your foreign rights. Let them have it in the US, but keep the foreign rights to yourself.

      Don’t let your agent have too much of the profit.

      Demand an accounting from your agent every single month. You can go online and check and see how many copies have sold on Amazon and Barnes and Noble and get a basic idea of whether or not you’re being cheated. Do so. Even the best agent can cheat you without meaning to. It’s easy.

      Insist that you get an eBook package with Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Apple. There are a lot of people, myself included, who love the feel and smell of a book. But my daughter has gone completely electronic. You may be offered a deal by default, but make sure of it.

      Don’t agree to too many book signings. They’re a pain. And wait until your book has been out a few weeks until you do one. That way people will have a clue who you are and what you wrote about. It helps.

      See if the publisher will get you a publicity package. It helps if the bookstores have a stand to put your books on to make them standout. Actually, it helps a LOT if the bookstores have a stand to put your books on to make them standout.

      You may have to do some of your own publicity. This blog is a good start. You’ve already got an audience hungry for it. Keep it up. But when you’re about ready to publish, make a site for the book on its own. (Or see if the publisher will…you never know, you might get lucky.)

      It’s worth it to buy the cover art if you really like it. It will cost you, but it can also be totally cool. And it allows you to use it on the website.

      You may also want to use Adwords from Google or Yahoo’s version of the same thing to drive clicks to the site as well.

      Realize right now that you’re not the one who will name the book. Sorry. The publisher does that. And it may be something stupid. Sorry.

      Have your wife read through your bio, and see if it makes her laugh or if it’s just right. Your best editor and critic is your wife. She loves you, but she knows you, and isn’t impressed any more. (Sorry.)

      And finally, dedicate that puppy to her. You can dedicate it to other people, but she’d better be there, right up front, or else you’re going to be sleeping in the doghouse with the pups. And they don’t smell as good, and they lick you when you’re not ready for it.

      1. Jani Muhlestein

        Forgot one last thing: make sure that the rights revert to you after 2 years or so. You want to own your own work.

        1. Kevin Hanrahan Post author

          My goodness Jani. You or your sister should write a blog post of your own on this one! It sounds like you sister has been through quite an ordeal.

          Does she blog?

          Thanks for all you great advice. I’ll need to go back through this and soak it all in.

          Thanks so much to you and yor sister for sharing your experiences.

          1. Michele Makinson

            I love your stories. I’m an indie writer and publish my own books. We have a great community in the North West for writers. I am sure you will make your money back though fairly fast for paying a publisher. I look forward to reading your novel.

    2. Jani Muhlestein

      Getting a book published is an ordeal. Every single time. She doesn’t blog. She’s too busy trying to keep her business running smoothly, and work on her next novel. But she figured that if you’re going to jump into the fray, the least she could do is to give you some advance warning. But she also said to tell you that there is nothing else she would rather be doing,

  1. Mary Carver-Stiehler (Writing as Mary Moriarty

    I am so excited about your web site and your book. Can’t wait to read and to give as gifts to my sons and husband!

  2. Kevin Hanrahan Post author

    Thank you ladies!

    I’m working on perfecting the manuscript before I resubmit it to the literary agents. From where I started to where I am today is amazing! I love the manuscript.

    I’m sure it will be out in eReader format once published. I love my iPAD for reading! What are you using Wanda517?

  3. Bobbi Hahn

    Good luck with the manuscript! I look forward to reading it – hopefully soon. I love my iPad2, but I’m from the old school and love to hold a hardcover book in my hands.

    I met a veteran service dog a few days before Christmas; he and a man and woman were walking through a shopping mall. I made a total idiot of myself by asking the man if he and the dog had served together. Imagine my embarrassment when he replied, “No, he and my wife did!”

    Thank you for your service. God bless you and keep you safe.

  4. Kevin Hanrahan Post author

    I love books in my hand as well Bobbi. I have shelves full of them!

    That is a funny story though….you shouldn’t be embarrassed. I probably would have made that same assumption. I think most would.

    Our society naturally refers to a Warrior/ Soldier as a man when in fact we have females service members littered throughout war zones. There are tons of female dog handlers as well who are doing the same things as their male counterparts.

    The company I commanded in Iraq in 2004 was about 20% female and three of my platoon leaders were female. All great Soldiers.

  5. Bobbi Hahn

    I think I made the assumption because the only dog handlers I’ve ever seen were men. Of course, I knew there were females in combat zones; I have two friends whose daughters have served.

    But it was just a few days before Christmas, I was stressed, and then suddenly I saw this beautiful black lab in the midst of all the shoppers! Noticing the man and woman was kind of an afterthought.

    The dog was a magnificent animal, with a large, regal lab head. I’m partial to labs because the best dog I ever had was a female black lab named Pooch. (My sons named her – their wild imaginations deserted them on that one!)

  6. yankeemom

    I’m so excited about your book and very glad I discovered your site!
    I have a special place in my heart for our paws on the ground and their handlers. My daughter is an Army Vet Tech and has so enjoyed her time taking care of the MWDs. Her husband is a (soon to be retired) MP dog handler. He is going to so miss his partners.
    We so appreciate you special teams, 2- and 4-legged, doing amazing things wherever they send you.
    Signing up for updates!

    1. Kevin Hanrahan Post author

      Thank you so much! The heroine in my book is a Vet Tech! Seems so natural to me….they do such great things taking care of our dogs. Is you son-law going to be able to adopt his Military Working Dog?

  7. yankeemom

    That’s so great about your heroine! (My daughter is my heroine too ~ for many reasons.)
    My son in law hopes to be able to adopt his favorite partner as soon as the dog retires. He’d better – he has the dog’s face tattooed on his shoulder! They were in Iraq together and experienced quite a few things that really bonded them.
    So many good MWDs ~ so special.
    Thank you for your large part in getting the surge program going. I’ve yet to meet a Soldier or Marine who doesn’t have a good word about the teams.

  8. Karen Black

    My daughter is Barbara Black-Diaz – when I found the reference to her on your blog – you don’t know how proud it made me feel and how in awe I am of the woman she has become – everyone is the military is special and now you have shed more light on their special “furry” comrades!

    1. Kevin Hanrahan Post author

      Hi Karen. I’m so glad you liked my interview on Ellis Vidler’s Unpredictable Muse. Thanks so much for saying hello and your kind words. I think the world of your daughter Barbara. She stood by me in a fight against the brass to flood southern Afghanistan with life saving explosive detector dogs. She is an incredible working dog expert, Airman and person. All the best, Kevin

      Hyperlink didn’t work:

      1. Karen Black


        Thanks I think the world of her too and I can’t wait for the book to come out – I get to see Barbara in June (it’s been a year since I saw her last!)

        and THANKS!

  9. Pingback: Military Dogs Considered “Equipment”? « Sharkbait Writes

  10. Debra Tracy

    Love reading your stories and can’t wait for your Book! I read the stories on my iPad, but when I get a really good book, I like to keep it, hold it in my hands, and read it over again. Think I’m going to get a nice hardcover copy of your book. Hoping that will be available.

    1. Kevin Hanrahan Post author

      Hi Debra, thank you, I certainly hope the same thing! I’m hopeful my book will sell this spring!

  11. Kehaulani Punilei

    I truly love reading about all of your stories. It’s a rarity that I find myself completely drawn into something I am reading and yearn for more. That’s how I know it’s a good book or at the moment in your case, blogging stories. You are quite the writer and I’m excited and very much looking forward to reading your book and was wondering if it was out yet, I keep looking for it. :)

  12. Kehaulani Punilei

    So, you can forgive me of my earlier question about when the release of your book would be, as I just found out you have already answered that question with today’s blog “[New Post] Hard Lessons Learned from an Aspiring Author”. Me and mornings…never mix well prior to coffee! LOL

    1. Kevin Hanrahan Post author

      No problem at all! It was a bit of a crazy year with trying to get this MS in the hands of a publisher. It is there now so hopefully one of them will bite and pick it up! Fingers crossed!

  13. Pingback: Hard Lessons Learned from an Aspiring Author | Kevin Hanrahan

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