21 October 2014

Spirit Of Simon, Blog Power: “Saving Simon” Goes To 2nd Printing

By: Jon Katz
"Saving Simon"

"Saving Simon"

Simon is still braying, my book "Saving Simon" is resisting being orphaned, today it went into a second printing of 3,500 more copies. Two things alone are pushing this mouth, word-of-mouth and the blog (and people's love of Connie Brook's bookstore, Battenkill Books, which is closing in on 1,000 copies sold.) I am proud of this, I have never had a book given so little support and attention by a publisher (I am switching publishers, I am responsible, this is just reality).

I'm heading to libraries, indy bookstores and next year, a whole week in Iowa, among other places,  to promote "Saving Simon." But it is the mostly blog that is pushing book sales, and I am excited about that and proud of it. And I thank you. With the Christmas season coming up, this is the perfect Christmas book, or so I believe. It is also getting the nicest reviews. I intend to keep the book alive.

I am always uncomfortable promoting my stuff too much on the blog, but I am not going to quit on this book or abandon it any more than Simon quit on living. I am calling it the Orphans Book Tour. I am shooting for 2,000 copies sold through Battenkill Books, my local bookstore. Connie ships anywhere in the world and takes Paypal, and every one of the first 2,000 buyers at Battenkill will receive a free signed photo postcard and a book that is signed and personalized (I receive the right to edit personalization requests, some are windy and strange).

You can order the book from your independent bookstore or anywhere online and if you choose Battenkill, you can order it online.You can also call the store at 518 677-2515.

People who buy the books from Battenkill are also eligible to win Fromm Family Food coupons for dog or cat food, notecards, photos and some of Maria's famous potholders. The Orphans Book tour is just getting underway, I think this is a book that is tough and hardy, just like the donkey that inspired it.

Thanks for helping this writer and this book survive the new and sharky waters of corporate publishing, I appreciate it, we are just getting started. Next up, third printing.

Posted in General

Morning Walk

By: Jon Katz
Morning Walk

Morning Walk

Posted in General

The Spaces In Between

By: Jon Katz
Spaces In Between

Spaces In Between: Jake And Deb

I dream of Jake and Deb sometimes, the two white lambs who spoke of purity and connection. And of life and death. I wrote a few days ago about this curious thing that was happening to me since my heart surgery in July. I find myself slow to get out of cars and out of chairs, I am one of those people who is always racing from one place to another, physically and mentally, my life is full, I am a chaos man, I am rarely still. Now,  I will sit and stare out of the car window for a minute or two before opening the door. Or before getting out of a chair.

I though it might be a physical thing, something to do with a healing heart, but I see that physically, I am stronger than I have been in many years, walking miles, lifting and carrying things, running on treadmills and pumping away on bikes. It is something else.

I was startled to get a bunch of e-mail and other messages from people who said the same thing has happened to them since surgery, or when someone they love has died, or when they have remembered a trauma or painful thing. Maria said it was a "Space In Between," and this phrase caught in my mind.

It is a transition, a marker, the boundary between one thing and another. The space between the rocks of a stone wall, between notes of music, between verses of a poem, between the chapter of a book, or one photograph or painting or another, between an act of creativity and life, between love and loss and yes, life and death, the space between Jake and Deb, between pulling Jake out of a womb and then having to shoot him as he lay suffering and dying.

I think of the spaces between fear and strength, of uncertainty and clarity, of yearning and creativity.

My life has changed. Jake and Deb spoke to me, the horses speak to me, my heart speaks to me now, we have found one another after all of these years.  My heart beats differently now, it opens me to feeling and emotion, to the difference between one thing and another. Spaces define the things they separate, surround and bound. The message is clear to me now, spaces are precious and important, just as beautiful as the things they make possible and define.

This is a spiritual message, a creative message as a gift. I was good at rushing from one thing to another, in need of considering them, defining them, savoring the things that fill up my life. It is a gift, every time, an opening. I think of coming home, of leaving, of shopping, of writing, taking a photograph, going to cardiac rehab, leaving Maria, finding her again. Writing on my blog.

I have discovered something, the spaces in between my life. They are important to me. And how wonderful to discover that such a new and curious thing, something I might never have even considered or mentioned, is also part of the universal experience that connects those of us who life has opened up, and opens us up again and again.

Posted in General
20 October 2014

Round Two: Liam Oversteps

By: Jon Katz
Liam Oversteps

Liam Oversteps

Red and Liam have been in a bit of a test of wills lately, Liam is feeling his ram oats. He overdid it this afternoon, he looked around and found himself separated from the flock, with Red right between him and them. The sheep stared like they were at the World Series, and Liam got increasingly uncomfortable when Red turned and noticed him. He gave Liam the eye, a withering look that could melt steel and Liam stood his ground for a few seconds, then broke for the rest of the sheep. I suspect he learned something from it, I had the feeling Red had had enough.

Posted in General

Roger And Red

By: Jon Katz
Roger And Red

Roger And Red

Roger is an inspiration to me, he was the first person I saw in cardiac rehab. He actually graduated from the first phase of the program and comes to use the machines several times a week. He has a very severe case of rheumatoid arthritis, he uses two braces to walk and it is no small thing for him to lie down on the floor. Today, he slid onto the floor and over to Red before his workout, then got himself back to one of the machines and pulled himself up. He is ferocious on the machines, he pushes himself every day to work hard and do better, he has shown me how to do the same thing.

Roger works through much pain, it does not stop him, it seems to inspire him.

Red visits the people in cardiac rehab – I am warned constantly not to try and come in without him – and then settles himself on the couch, where I have told him to stay through the work session. He does stay there and he has become a touch point for the people in rehab. Whey they move from one machine to another, they come over to him, lean down if they can, and pet him and talk to him. Each of the nurses comes to check on him, talk to him, pet him, and then scrub their hands with antibiotic soap.

When people leave, they pause to say goodbye to him, they ask me questions about him, wonder at him, smile at him. He transforms the experience of cardiac rehab, it was a powerful thing to see Roger get down on the floor with him and talk to him, my refurbished heart sped up.

Posted in General