20 October 2010

Book tour. The Woodford Library

The Woodford Library

We had two events in Kentucky, one at the Woodford Library in Kentucky, organized by Sylvia Baber and another at Joseph Beth's in Lexington. We had about 30 people at each one. We are all a bit worn. Had dinner with Tag Heister and Dr. Debra Katzy of the University of Kentucky (no relation) who worked with me on attachment theory and "The New Work of Dogs." Deb is writing the preface to my grieving book, "Going Home: Finding Peace When Animals Die."

I loved the Woodford Library, filled with patrons and kids and readers and computer users and friendly, dedicated and impressive staff. Tomorrow morning we head back to Ohio and a talk at the Bainbridge Library in Chagin Falls at 7 p.m. Then home for a couple of days. That will be nice. I am getting sick of myself a bit, but the crowds are intelligent, enthusiastic and energizing. I will be happy to home and finish up work on the grieving book, much buoyed by the very enthusastic response of the people I talked to about it. Izzy has been great and Maria looks tired, sick, I'm sure of listening to me talk about my work and eager to get on with hers. Book tours are not natural, and as important as they are, I will be glad to return to my life. Debbie told me I ought to get more tests and bloodwork done more regularly. I don't think so.

It was wonderful to see her.

Inside the book tour: Lexington

Not in the midwest anymore

Lexington, Ky. — Lexington is a different world from the tattered industrial Midwest of Ohio. Everyone at the hotel is friendly (although they seem startled by things like valet parking) and Izzy is a hit everywhere, welcomed without a challenge. We got up before dawn to walk around Cincinnati, and then we drove down I-75 to Kentucky, and watched as the soft and gentle nature of the South unfolded, and we saw the great tobacco barns (can't wait to put a lens on them!) and horse farms unfold. Downtown Lexington looks charming, inviting and we can't wait to walk around.

Izzy slides in wherever are, checking out the view of the downtown from the chair. I forget how remarkable a creature he is sometimes until I bring him into strange environments and watch him do his thing. Off to a TV-interview, and then the Woodford Library in Versailles, and I hope I get some photos along the way. Then back to an early dinner with some friends from the U. Of Kentucky including Dr. Debra Katz, a psychiatrist who is writing the preface for my book on animal grieving. Then a reading tonight at Joseph Beth, Lexington, 7 p.m. Tomorrow, back to Ohio for the Bainbridge Library in Chagrin Falls,  7 p.m. Wish we had more time in Lexington.

Book tour: Izzy in the dark

Izzy in the dark

I loved walking with Izzy on cold and dark city streets. Homeless people love him, call out to him, talk to him. The incident in Columbus made me a bit wary, it's about trust. I never had to think about this before, and on a book tour, which is very difficult for any dog, you have to think about it. Izzy is grabbed and pulled all day. I trust Izzy and am also going to protect him.

I don't want to bring dogs on all my book tours. It distracts me, and can detract from the conversation. And the truth is, many well-meaning people think loving a dog is grabbing one or rubbing them roughly. Men in particular have a tendency to do this. People get too close to a dog's face not because they are cruel, but because they are loving. America is not a dog-friendly place in general. Few places to walk, lots of restrictions. Still, I love having him here. He is my right hand on a book tour.

He settles me down, watches me, and he sells a lot of books.

Maria and the book tour. Keeping a sense of self

Keeping a sense of self

Cincinnati, Ohio – Took Izzy out for a walk at 5 .a.m. through a dark and chilly downtown. The book tour has made me appreciate Izzy all over again, this sweet and regal and connective creature, easy anywhere. The incident in Columbus this week – he was stopped on by a young woman and rattled by racing kids and I thought I saw him nip at one when she stepped on his injured leg – seems far away, he is his old self. He seems energized by the book tour, as I have been, the two of us working together. We had a great walk through Cincinatti an I was reminded what  great and soulful creature he is. I thanked him.

Maria is accompanying me on this part of the book tour and I think that can be difficult for her. On a book tour, the author gets much of the attention and Maria,who has struggled to keep her own sense of self, has devised creative ways to protect that while I am interviewed and rush from store to store to meet people,talk and sign books. She has set aside each day to meditate and sketch – to do her own work. She sells the Family Farm notecards. She does much of the driving. Her blog is a source of creativity and expression for her as mine is for me. I try hard to be aware of this – I'm not sure I could go on a book tour with a writer and stay sane. We go for walks, talk. People ask her about her own work, and that makes a difference, and she has, I see, many people who follow and appreciate her work.

I have learned that relationships require constant work, thought and communication. I will never forget that again. Each challenge is an opportunity for me to grow and learn. And change. Love is a powerful motivator.

Women are especially sensitive, I see, to the idea of a woman being swallowed up by a man's life and insensitivity. Many, I know, have experienced that. It will not happen to Maria. The book tour has given us a powerful experience to share and the work she has done to make sure her own creative life as an artist – so different from my life as a writer, and yet so similiar – make me appreciate her all the more. I love her for many reasons, but one of them is her creativity. She is an artist through and through, and I don't think anything could threaten that again.

Inside the book tour: Something building

Joseph Beth

Cincinnati, Ohio – Back online. On a book tour, technical challenges every day. Something is different about this book tour. Bigger crowds, more enthusiastic, people coming from greater distances, buying more books. Maria is with me, and that's different, and Izzy is with me and that's different. I guess the biggest change – noticed by many of the people who come, some who have seen me before, is that I am different.

More relaxed, they say. Happier. Evolved. I have to digest this and absorb it. I am also getting a truly enormous response to the photography. Another thing that is different is Facebook, which has opened up a dialogue with readers that has brought many more people, and engaged them in my work. The people are by no means uncritical. Many like my work, but have penetrating and thoughtful and challenging questions about it. Still, there is a good feeling. I have been on a lot of book tours, and this one is different. The tour seems to be building as I move through it, as people have read the novel and connected with it, and have thoughts and questions about it.

Fewer questions about dogs, more about writing, which I appreciate. People ask me if I want to write about dogs in need of rescue.I say no. People ask me if I want to write about how dogs grieve for people and one another. No, not much. There is enormous interest in my book in animal grieving "Going Home: Finding Peace When Animals Die." That is coming out next year. Bookstore event managers are asking me back.

I am very happy to report that the mood in bookstores is very different than last year. Borders stores in particular say sales are up an morale is high. There is much talk about e-books but the bookstores see booming new niche markets, not an obliteration of paper books. Older people, military people, genre readers, young adults are natural e-book readers. But th bookstores I am visiting are busy, engaged, creative. There is tremendous interest in my book tour and the different ways I am using technology to bring people to events and to engage readers in different kinds of conversations. I a loving this book tour, as is obvious. And we are selling lots of Family Farm notecards. Eager to get to some small libraries and continue the conversation.

Perhaps the biggest change for me is Maria, who I introduce as my former girlfriend (I love saying that). I have never shared a book tour with a dog and someone I love before and perhaps that makes it the most wonderful book tour of all. On to Kentucky.