B.R.A.G. MEDALLION WINNER

B.R.A.G. MEDALLION WINNER
B.R.A.G. MEDALLION WINNER

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

A VERY GOOD YEAR...

As the clock winds down on 2014, it might be fun to take a last look back on a terrific year. In January, GIMME SHELTER snagged a coveted Indie B.R.A.G. Medallion for Nonfiction. That same month, Lou met philanthropist, dog advocate and Gimme Shelter fan Erika Brunson who floored us by purchasing books for the boys at nearby Camp Gonzales Juvenile Probation school. In March, Adrienne Berke bought copies for her English classes at Camp Miller. Thanks to our suddenly enhanced profile, Lou and Eugenie were invited to attend the Academic Bowl for incarcerated youth. Month's end found us sunning in the Desert as the guests of honor at the 12th Annual Avondale Country Club Pet Show in Palm Springs, courtesy of Joan and Kathleen Hopp. In April, Lou and I led the Simi Valley Bark for Life Cancer Walk and we did our first TV interview on the City of Calabasas 'Author's Night'. 
@ Simi Valley Bark For Life
Thanks to mom's efforts, this humble pit bull was tabbed 'Pet Of The Week, in the Surfside News. In May, Lou became a member of the Dog Writers Association of America. In July, Gimme Shelter received a great review from U.K. book maven Emma Powell, and Lou did a guest 'Read Aloud' at Camp Gonzales Summer Freedom School. August saw a sweet profile of Lou and the book in the Dog Writers newsletter, a spot on the World Wide Blog Tour, and the honor of emceeing Malibu Methodist Church's 'Dog Day of Summer blessing of the animals, where a certain thirsty pit bull emptied the holy water bowl. We were mystified by a surge in online sales until we learned that L.A. County Probation purchased copies of Gimme Shelter for all of the juvenile camp dormitory libraries. On a sad note, after a game battle against rising rents, our beloved Diesel Books closed its doors. In September, Eugenie and Lou abandoned me celebrate their anniversary in Bella Italia, where they met foreign pit bull lovers who follow me on Facebook! December brought down the curtain with a nice mention in the Fordham University Alumni Magazine, and word that Lou was nominated for a Dog Writers award for Best Online Magazine Story. But it wasn't all accolades and fun. When tests revealed that a lump on my chest was malignant and had to be removed, Eugenie and Lou freaked. The surgery left me sore and more than a little groggy but thanks to Dr. Dean, Dr. Lisa and the gang at Malibu Coast Animal Hospital I'm fully recovered and raring to see what 2015 has in store. HAPPY NEW YEAR!
recovering at home with 'Dad'

In a postscript to our last blog, we wanted to thank all of our friends and followers who forwarded our plea to help find homes for 3 sweet pit bull. Your efforts paid off when a doggy daddy stepped up to share his home with Dottie. Her rescuer and trainer, Mike, was thrilled. Now we just need to work our magic for Rex, Ranger and Lemon.
Dottie - a succes story

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

'TIS THE SEASON…TO HELP PIT BULLS

It's the time to year to think about what really matters, like family, good friends, and helping dogs in need like Rex, Ranger, and Lemon (see below), three terrific pit bulls that are all looking for someone to share their love. If you've been waiting for just the right dog, or know someone who is, reach out and make some Holiday magic. Finding the perfect dog isn't an exact science. Sometimes the 'perfect' dog turns out to be a less than perfect fit with their human counterparts. That happened to Lou & Eugenie with my predecessor, Reggie, and to L.A. Times columnist Steve Lopez with Hannah and Dominic. It took two tries and a lot of handwringing but eventually both dogs found their forever homes. Another way to help pups in peril is to buy a copy of GIMME SHELTER. You'll get our Holiday discount and you'll be spreading the word that pit bulls make great pets and we'll donate a portion of the sale to one of our awesome rescue partners.
Tanner & Lou with Santa
REX has been at the Santa Maria shelter since late 2013. He originally had a home but his family lost their house and he was adopted, got out, and never reclaimed. Connie Kruse, a longtime volunteer at the Santa Maria (Santa Barbara County) Shelter has been working with him for the past year and says the he is totally ready to find a forever home.  Rex is about 3 1/2 years, weighs between 55-60 lbs. He is potty trained and leash trained, gets along extremely well with other dogs but we're not sure about cats. He loves his toys so he'd be okay as an only dog as long as he gets some love and play time. He was a loved domestic pet who slept in the bed was used to help assess & train other shelter dogs' temperaments. If you are interested, or know someone who might be,  please contact CONNIE KRUSE, 805-878-801clkjmw@icloud.com


RANGER is a 2 years old male pit bull, 65 lbs., with a pretty rare fur color of brown, with blue brindle.  He escaped a bad environment when he was about 3 months old and was picked up wandering the streets by a vet tech. His foster family couldn't keep him but they taught him commands like sit, stay, and lay down. He loves walking on a leash and he'll never pull. He's even good off leash in a safe environment. He grew up with 18 other pits and 1 miniature pinscher, so he loves to be around other friendly dogs big or small. He's house trained and crate trained, has been neutered already, has all shots up to date, and a microchip. Contact MIKE @  951-807-8786  or email SVT4ME95@yahoo.com
LEMON -  is almost 3 yrs old,  spayed purebread pit bull, approx. 50 lbs., with medium to high energy. She is very cute, with a heart shaped spot on her side. She's very loving toward anyone she meets, and she is excellent with both adults and children. She socializes, plays and sleeps with a large group of other dogs, including pit bulls, that Mike is training for adoption.  She is excellent on and off leash and she knows her basic commands, sit, stay, down. Very eager to please,very playful, and would make a good running partner for someone. She is house trained and crate trained, micro-chipped and her shots are up to date. Contact MIKE @  951-807-8786  or email SVT4ME95@yahoo.com
                                                                            ~ ~ ~ ~
Before signing off, I want to compliment my mom, Eugenie, on the awesome story about her and her sculpture in last week's Malibu Surfside News. Scribe Ashleigh Fryer did a wonderful job of capturing just what moves this fabulous artist, who also happens to be a first-rate dog momma, too.






Thursday, December 11, 2014

CHRISTMAS COMES EARLY…HOLIDAY GIFT IDEAS

Eugenie and I received a wonderful Christmas gift yesterday when Dr. Dean Graulich called to say that Tanner's tumor was a low-grade malignancy that shouldn't pose any future problems. Our brave boy has a gang of stitches on his chest but the bandages are gone and he's down to just an 80s-style midriff (midruff?) T-shirt to keep him from clawing open the stitches. We're glad to be done with his post-op meds but he's not as happy since we camouflaged each pill with a mound of ground beef.
'Buona Festa' to our 2 and 4-legged friends
(Tanner flew to Italy via photoshop)

If you're looking for a nice, inexpensive gift for that special animal lover in your life, take advantage of the GIMME SHELTER 20% holiday discount, now through January 1, 2015. Tanner thinks it's great idea and he's not alone; over three dozen Amazon readers have given us an average 5-star rating. If that doesn't move you, maybe this video from last years Diesel Bookstore event will serve to whet your appetite. 
If books aren't the answer, you might consider sculpture, specifically Eugenie's awesome stone carvings. She currently has work on display at the CANVAS women's store in Malibu, and at Studio Five08 in Santa Monica. You can view the latest sculptures and new at eugeniespirito.com.
'White Angel' @ Canvas



Friday, December 5, 2014

A PIT BULL 'PROCEDURE'…HOLIDAY GIVING…'ON THE MOVE'

Because Tanner has so many fans, canine and human, we wanted you to know that he was recently diagnosed with a mast cell tumor that had to be removed. He had surgery today with Dr. Dean Graulich, from Malibu Coast Animal Hospital, who said he's doing great. He'll be home later this evening and then the big challenge will be to keep him calm enough to let the wound heal. That's where Eugenie comes in. She's a sweet dog mom but I can count on her to make our ferocious beast tow the line. She does that all the time with me. 
Tanner, aka 'Tanino' with his parents at Milan's Duomo
(℅ photoshop)
With Chanukah and Christmas bearing down on us, I thought I'd mention some amazing animal charities that deserve a helping hand, if you're in the giving mood. Among the hundreds of caring organizations committed to helping dogs, cats and other creatures, these are some of Tanner's favorites:  Karma RescueDowntown Dog RescueLinda Blair's Worldheart Foundation, Canine Adoption Rescue League (C.A.R.L.), No Kill L.A./Best Friends, and  Healthcare for Homeless Animals , formerly Malibu Pet Companions, the folks who give pro bono vet care to the animals at the L.A. County Agoura Hills Shelter, Tanner's home before he came to live with us. Write a check, donate food, buy a gift from their stores, volunteer, whatever you do, they'll thank you and you'll be glad you did.
You may have noticed that books (and not just GIMME SHELTER), turn up quite frequently on this blog. That's because pit bulls, and Tanner in particular, take great pleasure in the well-written word. Tanner asked me to tell you that our dear friend, Kathryn Galan (profiled in Malibu's Surfside News), will be at Malibu's Bank of Books tomorrow, Saturday, December 6, at noon, signing copies of her new Young Adult novel ON THE MOVE .  He strongly recommends that you drop in and some copies for the teens in your life, especially the skaters. Here's what Tanner had to say about this epic skate odyssey: Right from the get-go I was caught up in this fast-paced story of plucky SoCal skate boarders forced to use their skater skills and street smarts when war breaks out and China attacks the USA. The kids in question are a resilient bunch, a diverse, dirty half-dozen determined to be reunited with their scattered families yet taking time to enjoy the awesome skate parks and the adult-sized challenges they face along the way. While boarders will savor Flynn's impressive knowledge of their sport and culture, the main plot of kids coping with disaster will appeal to all teens and adults. The gang encounters some gnarly post-conflict hurdles but nothing too scary or depressing for even younger readers. Much YA fare targets the feelings and drama of those emotional teen years. While ON THE MOVE takes us inside the lives of the young heroes and heroines - yes, there are girls in the crew! - it also serves up weightier themes and subjects in an accessible, entertaining style. When I finished the book I had two regrets: that I don't skate, and that the sequel isn't out yet.

Monday, November 24, 2014

WE'RE BACK, AND THANKFUL!


Poor dad. He hasn't been available to help me post in several weeks and here's why. As he explains in GIMME SHELTER, it was 30+years ago that he left day-to-day teaching to follow a different drummer and pursue his artistic calling. Although he's been sub-teaching at the local juvenile probation camps, working with incarcerated teens, nothing prepared him for a recent gig, filling in for an ailing  AP English teacher at a local high school. After two weeks, my black belt dad looked like he'd gone 5 rounds with UFC champ Anderson Silva: his eyes were glazed, his heart was racing, and his stomach was in knots. With another month looming, dad showed the better part of valor and tapped out, agreeing to take a greatly reduced workload. He's sorry that he couldn't push through, but mom and I are happy to have him back home with us and smiling again. Want to see just how thrilled I am to have my 'big dog' back? Here's a video of us hanging at home, playing my favorite game, ' Jump'.

Congratulations to our dear friend and pup-lover Jennienne LeClercq of NYC. When her beloved Stella passed away, she wasn't sure she'd ever share her life and love with another pooch. Enter, Darla, who's already captured Jenniene's heart…and most of the bed. The only tough spot so far - getting this discrete, 15-month-old country honey to squat on the New York sidewalks!
Jenniene and 'Darla' Darling @ the Central Park Boathouse
The fabulous Stella
Since it;s Holiday Season (and seemingly has been since July), we thought we'd share a Buzzfeed heart-warmer about Leo, a down-and-out Cambodian pooch and the guardian angel that turned his life around. If this evokes a 'Bah, humbug!', you'd best go see your cardiologist.
Leo with his angel, Meagan

Monday, October 27, 2014

ITALY - SOME LAST THOUGHTS

Mantova, as seen from the lake boat
Last month's trip marked our 7th visit to Italy since we were married there in Verona in 1988. The pictures speak for themselves but here are a few casual, decidedly unscientific observations from our travels: 1) Italians love their dogs and take them everywhere, even to grocery stores, restaurants and cafes. 2) Along with dogs and children, they cherish artists as gifted, special beings whose work elevates us from the base grasping of the marketplace. 3) Like Americans, Italians have adopted technology, especially smart phones. Yet they seem to spend less time online that most of us, and more time actually talking, which makes sense, given their generally garrulous nature. 4) As a writer, I was happy to see that Italy still has lots of book stores. For them, Kindles and iPads haven't replaced real paper books - yet. 
outside the Duomo, Modena
5) As with phones and tablets, there are also more fast food restaurants, particularly McDonalds. In what could be a related issue, the natives seem to be getting heavier. Not grossly overweight like too many Americans, just a little paunchier than we remembered. 6) The old church based standards of 'proper' behavior are on the wane if not dead; kids dressing less modestly, the girls showing more skin and the boys affecting a 'gangsta' look, albeit with droopy, tight, skinny jeans! In several towns we saw young couples making out on the cathedral steps. In years past, such brazen public displays would have garnered a stern 'disgraziato!' from the elderly, black clad  'signore'. No more.7) Sadly, grafitti is on the rise in once pristine small towns like Brescia and Camogli where it's not uncommon to find tagged-up walls and buildings. Guess the desire for 'recognition'  at any cost is worldwide. 8) Along with burger joints and tagging, there are now more immigrants, too. While the beach towns held mostly Italians and tourists from the UK, France, Germany and the U.S., immigrants from Eastern Europe, Africa, and the Middle East now call cities like Bergamo, Brescia and Milan home. Having lived in NYC and L.A., two great 'melting pots', it seems normal to us. Not so much for the Italians, who grouse that joining the EU was 'un disastro'. 
playing with my food in Marina Di Pietrasanta
On a personal note, while some people flock to Italy hoping to become more urbane,  sophisticated, and alluring (read Luigi Barzini's 1964 classic The Italians), for me the opposite takes place. Instead of morphing into a suave, stylish casanova in the vein of Marcello Mastroianni, I channel Roberto Benigni. I trip on sidewalks, stumble over thresholds, spill soup and gelato on my shirt and slacks, drive down one-way streets, going the wrong way. I routinely ask directions to churches, hotels and museums - 'Scusi, signore. Puo dire mi dov'e…' while standing directly in front of the location, prompting WTF! stares and chuckles from the natives, who gape at me as if to say, "Poor thing, he looks normal but I guess he's not quite right". It's humbling, but also great fun. 
lunch @ Trattoria Ermes, Modena
I wasn't alone; Eugenie had her 'aha!' moment, too. For years, she told anyone who'd listen that her dream was to live in Italy, where 'family' and 'connection' still matter. During our sojourn, she suddenly realized that she already has those things here at home, where she's surrounded by loving friends and relatives. While living in Italy would be fun for a while, without the anchor of work or family we'd just be 'the American couple'  who stop by every morning for coffee and pastry,  strangers yearning to be 'in it', but never truly being 'of it'. A great observation from a great trip. Ciao!
Camogli
Eugenie's Italian sportscar

Abbey of San Frutuoso near Camogli




Monday, October 20, 2014

DOGS, ART, & CASSIDY WILLIAM VEIT!

Before Tanner resumes his role as blogger-in-chief, I thought I'd mention a few more reasons we have to be thankful for our dolce vita. First, there's good friends like John and Robby Mazza, and their pups, Lola and Porter, whose friendship we cherish and whose efforts to Preserve Malibu from over-development we deeply appreciate.
John Mazza & Lola @ Our Lady of Malibu's Blessing of the Animals
Living with such a talented artist, I sometimes take Eugenie's sculpture for granted. That's why it's great when other artists, like David Brady from Santa Monica's super cool Studio FIVE08 Gallery, acknowledge her work. Eugenie has two of her 'face-flowers' in the current show. Saturday's opening included a surprise visit from some other talented and beautiful friends. If you're in the area, drop by and enjoy this inspired collection of amazing painters, photographers and, yes, sculptors. Studio FIVE08, 508A Santa Monica Blvd., Santa Monica, CA 90401, 310-994-9400.

Lisa Rinna, Eugenie and Harry Hamlin
Lastly, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the amazing creation that my niece, Krissie Veit and her husband, Billy, gave birth to this week…their son, Cassidy William. Eugenie and I are thrilled and can't wait to meet the handsome little hunk.
Krissie and Cassidy William

Sunday, October 12, 2014

I CANI DELL'ITALIA (THE DOGS OF ITALY)

The Duomo, Milan
Poor Tanner! His parents went to Italy for 3 weeks and all he got was some lousy pictures of Italian dogs. Before you feel too sorry for our canine blogger, he spent his vacation at Sandpiper Kennels, hanging out in the office with Patti, Paul and Ignacio, and romping with the pack in the play yard. We came home to find him looking lean and fit, and very, very happy to see us. Since we're with him every day, it's tough to notice just how much Tanner has changed sine he first joined our family. That's why we were thrilled to hear Patti say…"When I first met Tanner, he was meek, nervous and shy…with your persistence and devotion, Tanner has blossomed into a real dog! A fun loving, bouncing around, tail wagging, food gobbling, happy puppy!!!!! He is an absolute joy to behold!"  Thanks to Patti and her crew for taking such good care of him so we could rest easy and enjoy our vacation.
Mantova
During our trip we visited Bergamo, Brescia, Lake Garda (Sirmione), Mantova, Modena, Pietrasanta, Marina Di Pietrasanta, Camogli, Pavia, and Milan. Along the way we saw lots of dogs. Most were mixed breeds but we did see several Labs, Pugs, Cavalier King Charles, Shepherds, English and Irish Setters and a dozen or more pit bulls, bull terriers, cane corsos, and dogo argentinos. In Bergamo, we struck up a conversation with a young man from the Netherlands who was strolling with his family and his Staffordshire Terrier, 'Bus'. We told him about Tanner and gave him a card for the book. He took one look and said, "I know GIMME SHELTER; I follow you on Facebook." Seems the world, or at least the dog world, is a very small place indeed. It wasn't possible to photograph every dog we came across all but here are a few we did get:
'Maria', Piacenza
'ZEUS' (Cane Corso), Mantova
Jack Russells, Pietrasanta






Monday, September 15, 2014

'BIG BANG' IN THE 'BU…COOL Y.A. WRITERS

Every day I wake up and pinch myself I'm so grateful to be living in Malibu with my mom and dad. It's a magical place and so, sometimes, we forget just how special it is. Take last night. We were all lounging together on the bed when we heard a loud 'bang' that sounded like a gunshot. Thankfully, it wasn't the neighbors run amok but the prelude to a spectacular fireworks show at Paradise Cove that lit up the ocean and the highway. The shelling lasted for 20 minutes. By then, this pit bull was beyond freaked (loud noises and wind storms still take me back to my scary days as a homeless puppy) but Eugenie and Lou said it was the best show ever in the 23 years they've been living here. When they saw me shaking and quaking, they hauled me up onto the bed and spooned me until I settled down.  
Chill-axing after the 'Big Bang'

Lou and Eugenie wanted me to mention that several friends have recently published Y.A. (Young Adult) novels. K.V. Flynn's ON THE MOVE takes place in the SoCal skater culture, while Justine Fontes' DEADLY DRIVE and BENITO RUNS offer gritty 'high-low' tales (advanced stories, accessible vocabulary) set in an urban Texas high school. If you're looking to spur your kids' interest in reading, give these gems a look-see.



Monday, September 1, 2014

DOG WRITERS - A NEW TAKE ON 'ANIMALS

Lou and I just received the Summer 2014 issue of Rough Drafts, the Dog Writers Association of America newsletter, and what did we find inside? A profile of my favorite dog writer and pit bull dad, and a very nice feature on GIMME SHELTER. Thanks to Ida Estep and Elaine Gewirtz for sponsoring us, and to Vicky Clarke for the great job editing Ruff Drafts.

A couple weeks ago, we had the honor or emceeing Malibu Methodist Church's 'Blessing of the Animals'. Every animal guardian received a medallion of St. Francis and a card with this very cool message from naturalist/writer Henry Beston: "We need another and a wiser and perhaps a more mystical concept of animals. We patronize them for their incompleteness, for their tragic fate of having taken form so far below ourselves. And therein we err. For the animals shall not be measured by man. In a world older and more complete than ours they move finished and complete, gifted with extensions of the senses we have lost or never attained, living by voices we shall never hear. They are not brethren, they are not underlings; they are other nations, caught with ourselves in the net of life and time, fellow prisoners of the splendor and travail of earth."
Tanner & Porter listening to 'other voices'

Sunday, August 17, 2014

A DOG DAY BLESSING - SCULPTURE ON DISPLAY

We rarely post photo blogs (Italians would gladly launch 1,000 words instead) but I wanted to share some highlights from yesterday's Blessing of The Animals at Malibu Methodist Church. Tanner and I were the volunteer emcees and we toured the vendors booths, interviewing some exotic non-profits, like the Gibbon Conservation Center, that is dedicated to helping the world's most endangered primate, and Ghost Fishing: Ocean Conservation, whose mission is to find and remove from our seas the discarded deadly plastic fishing lines that claims the lives of fish and marine mammals. There were local favorites, too, like Dr. Lisa from Malibu Coast Animal Hospital, Healthcare for Homeless Animals, Master dog trainer and Shorin Ryu karate sensei Robert Cabral, of Bound Angels and Black Belt Dog Training, and groomer and animal activist par excellence, Sherman, whose new venture Peaceful Pets Aquamation offers a sensible, kind and environmentally smart way to help our departed 4-legged companions cross over with dignity and peace. The whole morning was a blast but my personal fav was Tanner quaffing an entire bowl of holy water while Paster Sadhi Liddell blessed his thirsty dog self. If you missed the event, highlights will be posted at Encore Streaming in the near future.
Tanner polishes off the holy water as Pastor Sandhi Liddell of MMUC looks on
After a brief siesta, it was off to Malibleu Gallery  for the opening reception of the 'Wavelength' exhibition. The place was jammed with art lovers, who sipped wine, nibbled snacks and grooved to the funky blues of The Country Legends. Several friends showed up to admire Eugenie's superb stone sculpture, and we got to meet some of the other talented artists, including fellow sculptor Jill McDonell, painters Brooke Harker and Adriana Guidi, and husband/wife photographers Consuelo Veri and Przemek Domanski of PhotoBox.comhttp://www.photoboxinc.com.
Eugenie with her stone sculptures
With painter Adriana Guidi ® and her mom, Louis (l)

with photographer Consuelo Veri

Monday, August 11, 2014

WORLD BLOG HOP…HUH?

Instead of cool dog news or updates on Tanner's latest exploits, this week we're doing something different. We're joining a worldwide blog hop for readers and writers called “The Writing Process World Blog Tour.” I'm not the guy who put the social in social media but I was invited to join WWBH by a hot new YA writer, K.V. Flynn, whose debut novel, ON THE MOVE (the first book in a middle grade/YA trilogy that really lives inside the world of skateboarding and boys’ friendships), will be published in early September. Be sure to add it to your must buy" on Amazon/Kobo.iTunes/B&N (notice I didn't say must read,” since we writers have to eat - BUY it for yourself, or you teenage son/brother/friend). K.V. lives in the Manhattan-Huntington-Malibu Beach area. His favorite ride is an 8.25" Krooked deck, Independent trucks, and 53 mm Spitfire wheels. He is half Spanish and half Irish and has a dog. K.V. and he and his bros regularly cruise Venice, Stoner, Skatelab, and Van’s. Check out the book here:www.OnTheMoveBooks.com.
About me and my book
I live in Malibu with my wife Eugenie, the love of my life, and our rescue dog, Tanner. I've written for film, TV, stage, magazines and newspapers. GIMME SHELTER is my first book. When I'm not writing (which is way too often these days), I work with juvenile inmates at the L.A. County Juvenile Probation Camp Schools in the nearby Santa Monica Mountains. For fun (read the book, and you'll see the kind of guy who thinks it's fun), I teach Okinawa GoJu Ryu ("Wax on; Wax off") Karate and Tai Chi. In our downtime, Eugenie and I travel to Italy where we were married and where we have dual U.S.- Italian citizenship. 
                                                              ~ ~ ~
Today we're answering four questions:
1) What are you working on? 
I'm currently juggling several projects. There's a Stand And Deliver-style film script set in a juvenile probation camp (prison), a gritty urban short-story collection set in NYC and Northern NJ, and a stage play with music about the only soldier to ever successfully challenge the U.S. military's ban on gays. In addition, I'm always outlining potential stories, scripts and articles that will probably go unrealized unless I live to a biblical age.

2) How does your work differ from others in your genre? GIMME SHELTER takes the feel-good dog story and stands it on its head. On my Amazon page, I say that GIMME SHELTER is… “The Sopranos meets Marley & Me: with a twist when a volatile, chronically ticked-off writer from a “Goodfellas” family struggles to help an abused, timid, big-hearted shelter dog. Unlike Marley, ours was a case of good” dog (a homeless pit bull) vs. bad owner (me). We made an odd couple and, for us to thrive, I had undergo a wholesale—and very challenging—personal transformation. Tanner, our dog, was the teacher who saved me from myself. Like me and much of my writing, GIMME SHELTER blends the raw emotion and sensibility of the street with more conventional, refined elements. This is coupled with a strong anger-management theme, which is one of the reasons why the book has been well-received by the officials and juvenile inmates at local probation camp schools.

3) Why do you write what you write?
In the case of my film work, I usually stumble across an odd or intriguing story and then marry it to events and people from my personal experience. Since I have a darksensibility, my work is often too gritty for the YA audience. GIMME SHELTER was an exception, but then it was an accidental book. I say accidental because it started as a diary that I kept during Tanner's first year with us. For some reason that I can’t explain, I diligently charted all of the mundane things that happened during that time. For more than twenty years, my wife, Eugenie, had bugged me to tell our story from the POV of the dogs we’d owned. Like a typical husband, I’d resisted fiercely. When she started bugging me about the Tanner diary, I said I’d think about it. Because I hadn’t planned on doing anything with it, the journal was a hodgepodge of 500+ pages with no structure or apparent theme - hardly the kind of thing to turn into a book. It took me eighteen grueling months and countless drafts to figure out that the real story wasn't me savingTanner; it was Tanner saving me from my decades-long battle with anger. Once I came to that realization I was able to chisel a book from the diary.

4) How does your writing process work?
I tend to let things simmer for a very long time. Then, once things reach critical mass (or my wife can't stand it any longer), I get to work. I always outline extensively when I’m writing screenplays or short non-fiction. GIMME SHELTER was my first stab at narrative non-fiction and working without an outline (or any plan at all) caused me a lot of headaches. In the case of the aforementioned short story collection, I haven't learned my lesson since I'm working mostly without an outline, although many of the stories have been percolating for years.  
                                                              ~ ~ ~
I'm very excited to introduce the 3 writers who will be joining the blog tour on August 19:

Shea McIntosh Ford is an author of open-minded fiction.” Her latest book, THE STONE OF KINGS will be published on August 12 from Astraea Press . Shea blogs at: http://sheaford.wordpress.com/,  https://www.facebook.com/SheaMcIntoshFord 

Justine Korman Fontes has over 700 published titles, earning her the title “The Queen of Licensed Children’s Books” from Writer's DigestJustine is the author of THE GRUMPY BUNNY series for Scholastic and the new CHEDDAR'S TALES series for Barron's. She and her hubby Ron Fontes have written for all of the major publishers, adapted screenplays for major film studios, and created a host of original works including graphic novels. 
 http://www.sonicpublishing.com/about.html

 Teresa Howard Teresa writes several romance genres.  From historical romance, to contemporary romance, to time travel/paranormal romance, her abiding belief that love conquers all leaps from every page.  Her latest work, FOR LOVE ALONE, is a historical romance with a southern belle turned royal duchess as the heroine. It will be published on August 12 from Astraea Press. All of Teresa's novels are available on Amazon.com and can be ordered directly from her webpage: www.teresahoward.net

Saturday, August 9, 2014

BLESS THE BEASTS…AND ARTISTS - SAD FAREWELLS

Lou and I are excited to tell you that we'll be leading Malibu Methodist Church's annual Blessing of the Animals on Saturday, August 16 from 10:00 - noon at There will be vendor booths, contests, and, of course, yours truly selling copies of GIMME SHELTER. So, if you have a cat, rat, horse, or warthog in need of some blessing, drop on by. (30128 Morning View Dr, Malibu, CA 90265, 310.457-7505). 
Later that day, my 'mom', Eugenie, will part of a gallery opening at Malibleu Gallery here in Malibu. She'll have ten of her amazing stone sculptures on display and we're rooting for every one of them to find a good, well-paying home. Again, we'd love to have you join us for some great art and a glass of vino (Malibu CA. 21201 Pacific Coast Hwy).
Sadly, not all this week's news is festive. Yesterday we learned that Menahem Golan, a partner in Cannon Films and a legend in the movie biz, passed away suddenly near his home in Tel Aviv. Lou and his writing partner, Gary Horn, had a personal connection to Menahem, who optioned their sniper-on-the-loose thriller 'Holiday Season' several times and was promising to make the move this year. Just a few weeks back, Lou mailed him a copy of GIMME SHELTER as a gift and here's what he had to say: "Brilliant book (GIMME SHELTER) with great insight into, not only dogs but yourself. Some excellent 'laugh out loud' moments. My question is "How did you find such an amazing and loyal woman to stand by you whilst you were learning to deal with your anger?" :-) :-) :-) She deserves a medal! Well done to you all (including Tanner) and I look forward to your next book!
Menahem Golan". 
Menahem Golan on the set
Unlike Menahem, Malibu's Diesel Bookstore recently fell victim to the ravages of runaway retail rents. Unable to afford the astronomical fees, they reluctantly shut their doors. It was an especially dark day for us. When we published GIMME SHELTER in early 2013, we had no idea if it would ever sell a single copy, let alone find its way to a real bookstore. On a nudge from, Eugenie, Lou introduced himself to Lynn and asked if Diesel might be willing to carry the book and maybe even host an author night. To our delight and surprise, she said ‘yes’ to both. On Thursday night, April 25, 2013, Lou read to a packed house at Diesel, and we made our initial charitable book donation to Malibu Pet Companions. It was our first live event, a fun, magical evening that we’ll always remember. A month later, Diesel boosted our profile yet again when Gimme Shelter placed #2 on the Malibu Times best selling books for May. In December, we landed at #16 on Diesel’s 2013 Top Seller list. Any indie author would be thrilled to get that much push from a bookstore but there was more.
The 'fan', outside Diesel
 Sometime after Christmas, Malibu resident and reporter Kim Devore stopped by to get a gift for her dog-loving mom, Erika Brunson. A Diesel employee – Lynn I think – urged her to skip the nationally known volumes in favor of a local book, Gimme Shelter. Kim took her advice. Erika loved the book so much that she proceeded to buy all the store’s copies not once but twice. Thanks to Lynn, Lou contacted Erika and we met for coffee. When Eugenie mentioned that I teach part time at the local probation schools at Camp Miller and Camp Gonzales, and that they were interested in using the book as an anger management tool for the juvenile offenders, Erika jumped in and bought 100 copies for the schools. This fall, Gimme Shelter will be part of their formal curriculum on the theme of ‘Discovery’. Inspired by the school connection, the Probation Department recently purchased copies for the dorm libraries in all of the county’s juvenile camps. Lou is currently speaking with school officials at New York City’s Riker’s Island about using the book with their juvenile inmates. None of this would have been possible without Diesel Malibu. Things change, and when one door closes another opens. Eugenie, Lou and I sincerely wish that all of the new doors for the Diesel Malibu family bring adventure, success, fun and peace. Thanks for enriching our lives, and the city we love. We’ll miss you.
Tanner @ Diesel, April 25, 2013