Local writer and speaker Leslie Yerkes received her Master of Science in Organizational Development from Case Western Reserve University after earning a Bachelor of Arts, Honors, in Education from the University of Wittenberg. In 1987, she founded Catalyst Consulting Group, inc. as a means of providing businesses with organizational development.
Yerkes, who writes frequently and contributes to newspapers and trade publications, travels abroad as a lecturer and keynote speaker and has taught at John Carroll University, Baldwin Wallace University, and the University of ‘State of Kent. She is on the faculty of the Weatherhead School of Executive Education and has twice received the Weatherhead 100 Award.
She recently immersed herself in the world of writing children’s books. His latest book, Lost, Found and Forever: When You Make a Promise, Keep It, recounts the two months it took him to save a junkyard dog near the railroad tracks on East 140th St. in Collinwood. She eventually brought the 150-pound mastiff she named Big Boy to live with her and her other pets and aging mother at her Bratenahl cottage. The 51-page softcover book tells the story of the voice of 9-year-old Beej; it is available now on Amazon and on LostFoundAndForever.com.
“I’ve always kept a diary,” Yerkes said one afternoon from her cottage in Bratenhal where she lives with two dogs and a cat. “As I took notes in my files, it wasn’t just minutes from a board meeting or lists of ideas. They were stories. I would interview all of the leadership team and do a SWOT analysis, but I would tell it like a story and frequently use metaphors. Then I developed these little riffs, and my writing started my career as a speaker. When I said I got these little epiphanies of lessons that everyone could benefit from, I would try it in a speech. If it really hooked and it was unique, then it started a book.
Between 1997 and 2008, Yerkes wrote six books, and on leslieyerkes.com, she blogs about dogs. The idea of Lost, Found and Forever: When You Make a Promise, Keep It came to see her after befriending the then unnamed Big Boy while helping a neighbor search for his lost dog.
“The rescue took place when I was exhausted,” Yerkes explains. “I’m a very focused, driving person who does everything on my list and more. I teach emotional intelligence and appreciative inquiry. I just wanted to meet Big Boy where he was. He pulled me back.
Yerkes had no intention of keeping Big Boy, but he got along so well with his other dog that she changed her mind.
After writing about Big Boy on his Facebook page, Yerkes decided the story would be more suitable for a children’s book.
“I wrote an adult version first, then I read a bunch of good children’s books,” she says when asked how to prepare to write. Lost, Found and Forever: When You Make a Promise, Keep It. “Randy Martin, my editor, helped me polish the story. He also produces my books. Even if you don’t like dogs, if you have an ounce of empathy in you, you can relate to yourself, so that’s a real bridge. It’s a passionate project. Fame and fortune don’t come from writing, so you do it because you love it. I will pay tithe royalties to save and promote groups. I’m not going to become Cesar Millan, but if along the way I can encourage people to be kinder to animals, to donate, to welcome and to save, then the books have done their job.
Later this year, a new version of the book featuring watercolor illustrations will be released.
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