22 October 2010

Inside the book tour. Home, changes

Wild ride

October 22, 2010 – Got back to the farm after a rainy, windy drive that began in Colon, Ohio and ended up in Bedlam. About 11 hours. A lot of driving this week, a great tour week, lots of people have come to see us in the last two weeks – close to 1,000 – Izzy was a rock star. Maria sold nearly $1,000 worth of signed Family Farm notecards, to benefit family farms and farm aid groups. The tour was exciting in several ways – great bookstore conversations, visits to book club and private homes, the broadening of the tour to include many people on Facebook, photos (some live) uploaded from the Ipad, once I figured out how to use it. We had a lot of fun experimenting with the form and content of the book, and also talking about dogs, rural life, animal grieving and my new novel, "Rose In A Storm."

The book tour and the interactive online tour continue. No rest till the tour is over. We aren't done.

It was great to have Maria along, and Izzy made an awful lot of friends. Great people, great conversations. I am grateful and humbled by the good words about my work, the blog, the photos. Next week, to S. Hadley, Mass. for a talk at the South Hadley Library Tuesday afternoon (no books sold or signed there) and then a signing and talk at the Odyssey Bookstore at 7 p.m. Books will be sold and signed there.

Mara kept her own sense of self on the tour, sketching, working on her art, selling the Family Farm notecards. It was a powerful experience for the two of us, the first time I've had anyone accompany me on a book tour. A lot of drivng – too much. Put more than 2,000 miles on the truck. I so loved having her with me.

I came to a decision on the way back today. I'm not taking Izzy out on public appearances any more, except to places that can be carefully controlled and supervised. I guess I hadn't quite grasped how much things have changed. The crowds at my events are larger, the events much longer, and Izzy seems to be attracting a lot of increasingly intense attention. At some places, he was just about mobbed by people wanting to touch him, take his picture, and rub or hug him. At one event, he seemed to show his teeth and snap in the direction of a young girl who had accidentally stepped on  a foot I didn't realize was injured. Izzy is cute, but he is a dog, and dogs are animals.

Other people grabbed him roughly, rubbed him even though he was getting visibly rattled. There was much more of this on this book tour than I remember seeing before.

Beyond that, it was distracting, for me as a speaker, and for people trying to listen while others were trying to get Izzy's attention, calling to him, offering him food and talking about him. I love the way Izzy is loved, and I surely don't blame people for wanting to see him and get close to him. He's pretty appealing. But I don't want him or anybody else to get hurt. I never blame children when they are threatened or harmed by a dog. Kids will always try and touch an animal they believe is friendly or appealing – as one would be expected to be in a bookstore. We might wish that they would learn to be careful around dogs, and they should, but it is, to me, always the dog owners responsibility to make sure nobody gets hurt, including the dog. And to be honest, some adults were a lot rougher with Izzy than the kids.

I guess I've evolved also. People have always wanted to meet some of the dogs, and I've tried to bring them, but to be honest, the talks are about reading and writing and other issues related to the books. I come as a writer, not a dog handler or trainer or a rescue or political advocate, or as an entertainer. I understand completely if people might find that disappointing, or even not come to the readings. That's up to them. I just want to be up front about it. Between talks, questions, and signing, the readings can go two hours or longer, and that's too much time to worry about a dog, or even to ask one to be angelic while there is constant attention. It was too much all around, and something bad nearly happened, and would certainly happen eventually.

Iz is wonderful, but he is a border collie who spent the first five or six years of his life living outside on a farm. I also want to focus on my talks and the people who come to listen and ask questions, and for conversations. I feel good about that. I am happy to be back on the farm for a day or so.

I so appreciate the many hundreds of people who have come to join me on the book, tour, and who have helped to rethink ways for writers to reach their readers. This is a wonderful experience for me, and I'm enthusiastic about getting back out there.

Mostly,  I will be dogless.

Bringing Izzy. Book Tour

People love Izzy on the book tour, it's fun to bring him.But I think I will only
do it rarely from now on. It is distracting, for one thing, especially during a book talk. And potentially dangerous, as I saw in Ohio, when he lunged at a child who accidentally stepped on his leg, which I did not know was injured.I think the responsible thing to do is to bring him to a few random events where he can be easily monitored and supervised.
Book readings are about reading and books. The dogs are not the show.

– Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Posted in General

Book tour: My life

Got up at dawn, to check e-mail, and I love this image
Of my life, my work. My love.
We are in New York State. Six hours to go.

– Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Posted in General

Tour: Breakfast in America: Disconnection, Connection

Screens for breakfast

If it is a great joy for me to see how much my dogs, blog and photos can lighten the corners of some lives, it is discouraging to watch Americans having breakfast in hotels and motels. They bring their laptops and cell phones, there are screens everywhere, projecting bad news from all over the world into our consciousness every second of every day. To Maria and I, breakfast is a time to talk, to get set for the day, to review the day before.

My readings are intensely connective, people driving long distances to meet us and talk with us, very uplifting, meaningful, rewarding. Breakfasts are just the opposite, images of a disconnected country forgetting how to talk to one another or to other people, digesting hysterias and confrontations through their very consciousness. Soon we will be on the road.

Book Tour: Longest Day,mid-point

Heading home

We staggered back to the hotel last night, loaded with pies, homemade biscuits, gifts, notes, photos of dogs. Got to hit the road, our Longest Day of driving, 12 hours to get back to the farm, and neither of us wants to think about it. Book tour is halfway over, and the long driving part will end today People were warm, enthusiastic, loving, and very aware of Maria and her work, which I appreciate. The trip was affirming for her, something of a miracle.

I love my early morning walks with Izzy through post-industrial America, a quiet spiritual experience. The desk clerk came out to meet Izzy. The hotel maids came over to admire  him in the parking lot as they came to work. A beverage truck driver came over to meet him. We walk through empty, cold and dark streets as the sun comes up, and  I always ask, "what kind of life do I want to live?" What do I want to do next. How lucky am I to have Maria sharing my life. Book tours can be cold experiences in many ways. Publishing has shifted to e-mail, and while I enjoy new technology, I like to talk to the people I work with once in awhile. An old habit. I love going to libraries. I love the new part of the book tour that brings me into contact with new kinds of people.

I love the enthusiasm for "Rose In A Storm." I  love the impact of the blog and my photography on so many lives. We are off for a quick breakfast. We are somewhere in Ohio, lost in disconnected America, connected as never before. Will blog from the Ipad along the way, the rolling conversation continuing. Next stop, Hadley Mass, the Public Library (3 p.m.) and then Odyssey Books, next Tuesday.  My back hurts.