North Dallas, Texas—Who could have guessed that a baby raccoon, rescued nearly 49 years ago, would be the main character of a children's book published in 2018?
The odds are improbable, but not for Ruby Nell Ormon, the author of My Dude.
"I have never written a book before," stated Ms. Ormon, a resident of Highland Springs retirement community in North Dallas for the past four years.
Duzey, nicknamed "My Dude", would become a domesticated house pet for Ms. Ormon and her family for nearly eight years in their Old English Tudor-style house in Highland Park.
"He was bottle-fed and well-trained. Our guests thought having a raccoon was an odd choice, but we also had a dog and a cat. They all got along," recalled Ms. Ormon, a retired educator who taught home economics and food nutrition at the University of North Texas, Southern Methodist University (SMU) and Tarleton State University, among others.
That's not to say "My Dude" wouldn't get into some hijinks.
"My Dude had a sweet tooth, for sure, so he always tried to sneak into the cabinets and steal cookies," described Ms. Ormon, one of many cute stories in her book.
The project almost never materialized. She wrote My Dude more than ten years ago, but three publishers turned her down.
"I hadn't thought much about the book until aboard a cruise to Budapest last September. I told a fellow passenger about it, and she had a connection. Upon returning home, I received an email from a FRM Publishing, who ran with the project. Eventually, it really was meant to be," said Ms. Ormon.
Even getting the work illustrated had a surprising twist. "Through the publisher, I connected with an artist who lives in Vietnam. We communicated exclusively through email, and his pen-and-ink illustrations are wonderful," said Ms. Ormon.
Since the start of 2018, she has been a part of three book signings, including one at Highland Springs on March 2. "It's been a thrill. It makes me happy that others are enjoying My Dude," said Ms. Ormon, who is active in the Blue Bonnet Club and at First Presbyterian Church of Richardson.
With one book completed, Ms. Ormon is not finished. "I took a class taught by Barbara Blachly, our community resources coordinator at Highland Springs, about writing memoirs. My plan is to have mine finished by Christmas as a gift to my family."
She also has advice for those looking to try something new, like writing a book.
"Take the bull by the horns and do it! This has been an invigorating, exciting process for me. And it's also part of our family legacy now," said Ms. Ormon.
My Dude, published by FRM Publishing, is 55 pages and geared to 3rd and 4th graders.