Friday, December 27, 2013

New essay course starting January 13th on Ruzuku

One of the great aspects of online learning is the flexibility of schedule.  But this is one of the great challenges as well.  Online classes tend to appeal to people who have busy schedules, and still those schedules get in the way.  This has inspired me to create a new format with this online essay course.  The course itself is 14 weeks long, divided into seven units.  In each unit we'll spend a week discussing the work of the assigned author followed by a week of student work and critique.  The assigned writers offer a variety of approaches to the art of writing an essay, from the intellectual, to the humanist, to the deeply personal.   Students should leave the course with a broader appreciation for creative non-fiction as well as a stronger sense of who they are as writers themselves.  Course fee: $300.00.  $25.00 discount available by contacting the instructor at ken@kenfosterbooks.com 

Ken Foster is the author of a memoir, The Dogs Who Found Me; a collection of stories, The Kind I'm Likely to Get; and a collection of essays,Dogs I Have Met. His work has appeared in numerous publications including Salon, Fence, Bomb, McSweeney's, The Believer, The New York Times, Bark, The San Francisco Chronicle and elsewhere. He is the recipient of fellowships from the Louisiana Division of the Arts, Yaddo, the New York Foundation of the Arts, and The Sewanee Writers Conference. He has taught at The New School, Florida State University, the University of New Orleans, and elsewhere.  His most recent book, I'm a Good Dog, was selected as one of the year's best by Vanity Fair Magazine. 

Jan   13—26 Reading: David Sedaris, Selections
Writing:

Jan. 27—Feb. 9th   Reading:  Joan Didion, The White Album
Writing:

Feb.  10th—Feb. 23rd Reading:  Selections from Best American Essays
Writing: 
Feb. 24—March 9 Reading:  Janet Malcolm, Forty-One False Starts
Writing:

March 10th—March 23rd Reading:  Joseph Mitchell, Up in the Old Hotel
Writing:

March 24th—April 6th Reading:  Luc Sante, Kill All Your Darlings
Writing:

April 7th—April 21st:  Reading:  Kathryn Harrison, The Kiss
Writing:

From previous students:

"Ken is a gifted instructor and his talent for engaging students shines throughout his course."

"Taking Ken's class was the single best thing I have ever done to improve my writing. I feel my technical skills and my ability to select subject matter improves on a weekly basis.""Ken is remarkably patient and very human, bringing out the best in his students, both as writers and critics. At the end of the class every one us wanted to continue studying with him."

"Ken is a thoughtful, engaged instructor who reads work with an eye towards quality."

"Ken taught me how to analyze and edit my work so I can produce powerful, polished pieces."

"I loved Ken's workshop. When I finished the class, I felt good about what I'd accomplished and excited to continue writing."

"Ken is a wonderful teacher. He gave each student thoughtful and useful feedback that inspired confidence. He understands the craft of writing and has the skills to teach it." 
"Ken gave thought-provoking assignments and critiques and kept up with our questions on the message boards. He has a great deal to offer as an instructorand is sensitive to his students' needs and abilities." 

Monday, December 23, 2013

What We Talk About When We Talk About Pit Bulls

A few months ago, a friend asked if I would consider contributing to a blog she shares with Your Pit Bull and You.  What did they want me to write about?  "What is a pit bull?"  Sure, I said.  Why not?  I've written on that unanswerable question plenty of times.  But I wanted to find something new to say, or some new way of saying it.
another dog trainer:

It wasn't until, last week, that same friend spoke of the controversy that erupted when Your Pit Bull and You awarded a pig the title of "Honorary Pit Bull."  Immediately, I knew what I wanted to say.  The resulting essay, "What We Talk About When We Talk About Pit Bulls," deals with the question of labels and heritage and what, if anything, either one means.  It is also about my own honorary pit bull, Brando, who passed away last March.  Things have been a blur ever since, and as often happens when someone you love dies, everything I've written since then has been in some way about him.

Then something remarkable happened.  Within a day, the essay had been shared more than 1000 times on Facebook.  A day later, it was over 4000 times.  Then 6000.  And that was just Facebook.  Five days after it was posted, over 25,000 visitors have come to the page.

I'm not entirely sure what this means.  I think for some people, it is the philosophical question that brought them in.  But judging from some of the comments, it is also Brando, and my love for him.  None of this, naturally, was really on my mind when I wrote it.

Monday, December 16, 2013

18 Stories for just 99 cents

kind coverFor less dog-centered content, you might want to check out my ebook, The Kind I'm Likely to Get.  I asked my ebook publisher, Trajectory, if we could lower the price for the holidays, and the short story collection is now available for just 99 cents at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, iTunes, and Kobo.  That includes my original short story collection, which was a New York Times Notable Book, and four new stories.  A total of 18 stories for 99 cents, and worth every penny, I promise.  

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Help out the pit bulls of New Orleans

My very own Sula Foundation is having its annual calendar fundraiser, and here are the details. I'd be tickled if bought a calendar or shirt for the pit bull lovers in your life--it'll help us continue our work in the lower-income areas of New Orleans, with low-cost clinics, free spay/neuter, etc. We're even training some vets in the new year to bring a non-surgical sterilization procedure to the city:


This year we sponsored a contest looking for pit bull saints from

allover the country; the winning dogs appear in the 2014 "My Pit Bull is a Saint" calendar, which is on sale now for $20.  This year's calendar is larger (one foot square) and offers more room for writing events and doggie playdates.  It also features a trio of tripod dogs!  As always the proceeds go directly to our programs.  In 2014 we plan to continue offering our low-cost clinics and we're also sponsoring training for New Orleans vets to learn about the new non-surgical sterilization method for male dogs.  You can purchase the calendar online at The Sula Foundation shop, or on Amazon.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Yes, the healthcare marketplace works

For the past year, I've been without health insurance.  As someone with a pre-existing condition, this isn't a surprise.  I used to be covered by an employer, who paid part of my costs as a benefit.  But then my hours were reduced in order to avoid having to pay benefits, and my policy cost me $590.00 a month.  Then, after 18 months, my Cobra ran out and I became uninsurable.

I have a pacemaker, which is the main reason I'm uninsurable although, if you think about, having a pacemaker already implanted should make more a better risk, because very little can possibly happen to me know.  But I do get checked by a cardiologist regularly, or I did, before my insurance ran out.  My treatment at the cardiologist wasn't extensive, but they kept track of my heart's improving health, and if it hadn't been improving, they would have been able to do some preventative work to avoid a catastrophe.  Without insurance, I can't afford that preventive care, so the likelihood of an episode rises, and if I were to end up in the ER, my bill, which I wouldn't be able to pay, would be passed on to you.
Some people would prefer that I didn't get preventive care, because the idea is somehow threatening, or maybe it is because they feel healthcare is only for a particular class of people that they imagine they belong to.

Because of my situation, I've been anxiously waiting for the ACA marketplace to open up and allow me to pay for my own preventive care.  There were some glitches, but for the past month I've had a policy in place which will take effect January 1st.  Unless the witches have their way.

So, I'm still trying to figure out what is so awful that people want to stop me from being able to pay for my own insurance?  And I also wanted to let anyone who reads this know that what you've been hearing on the news about the impossibility of signing up just isn't true anymore.  The news, as always, is about a month behind and not completely accurate at that.  Also, you don't have to use the marketplace; you can sign up directly with an insurance provider and bypass the website and call center (although then you miss out on being able to compare all the plans.)  So do it, okay?

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

What a piece of twerk is man! T-Shirt

Every now and then I think: this is so silly I could make a fortune from it.  But then I don't do anything.  Until now!  Here it is, the What a piece of twerk is man! T-Shirt, the first in a string of silly shirts, mugs and trinkets that I'll be posting to CafePress.  Also available, the one and only Makes Me Wanna Challah T-Shirt!  Collect them all!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

All in the Family: Fun Home opens at the Public Theater

Last week I was in New York for an alumni event at Columbia University and took the opportunity to catch a preview of the new musical adaptation of Alison Bechdel's "Fun Home" at the Public Theater.  Short review: I loved it.  I loved it so much that I immediately wanted to find a venue to write about it and spread the word, but there was this one awkward snag in that plan: I'm completely biased.  First clue: this awesome portrait of myself and Doug which Alison did last year as I was getting ready to promote my book "I'm a Good Dog."  But it is more complicated than just that.

For a relatively brief number of years, early in our lives, my family and Alison's intersected on a regular basis.  She and her brothers were the same ages as my sister, my brother and myself, and we went to the same elementary school.  We had sleep overs.  And then we drifted apart in high school, the same time that much of the drama of her memoir comes into play.  But over the years we stayed in touch and so it was thrilling for all of us when "Fun Home" came out as book.  It was also strange (and I've blogged about this before) reading through the carefully detailed memories of events that I was a witness too.  In particular, there is a sequence in the book in which Alison's mom, Helen, rehearses for her role in "The Importance of Being Ernest."  We were staying at their house at that time, due to my own mother being ill, and each moment captured in the book of Helen running lines for the kids is exactly as I remember it.

The book, needless to say, was somewhat controversial in our home town, and in the aftermath of the publication, Helen stopped speaking to my mother, who she felt had needlessly promoted the contents of the book to the local community.  I was visiting another childhood friend in Oregon shortly after it came out.  That family, too, featured three children the same ages as the rest of us, and their father and stepmom were very clearly portrayed in the book as the swingers next door.  While visiting my friend Lisa, her stepmother called to ask if we had heard of the book and, although she caught us in the midst of discussing the book, we both denied any knowledge of it.  This is how intertwined we all were---even years later, and on different sides of the country, we were capable of immediately reverting to childish behavior.

What?  No role for Butley Cerveris?
My brother gave a copy of the book to his college roommate  Joe Mantello, who unexpectedly decided that it should be a musical.  And thus this new chapter in the life of "Fun Home" began.  But the family connections don't end there.  When the cast was announced, I learned that Michael Cerveris would be playing Alison's father, Bruce.  Michael's brother, Todd, is a long-time pen pal and was featured with his dog Butley in my book "I'm a Good Dog."  So now, I realized, I really needed to see it.  And when I got an invitation to an event at Columbia, a school I haven't visited since graduating back in the 90s, I decided this was my excuse to fly up and see "Fun Home."

Before heading to the theater, I checked with Alison (aka as The Real Alison) herself, who gave it a big thumbs up in her email. But I expected it would be strange to watch actors perform fictional versions of figures from my actual childhood.  And I was correct.  It was strange.  And wonderful. One of the first songs, in which everyone is assigned household chores, was so strikingly close to my own memory of being assigned chores while staying at their home, I worried for a moment that I would never manage to slip out of my self-assigned, imaginary role as researcher and technical advisor from my seat in the back of the house.   But in fact, the show accomplishes so many remarkable things all on its own that by the third number I was comfortably along for the ride.   Did it bring echoes of my childhood?  Yes. Did it resemble Alison's book?  Yes.  Was it a replica of either thing?  Not really, or at least not literally. There was no mention of Oscar Wilde, or The Importance of Being Ernest.  There was no Authors game, no clown terrorists. Yet in spite of its own unique qualities, or because of them, "Fun Home" is its own remarkable thing, a story not just of a family I knew, but one of families in general.

What was really remarkable to me, in fact, was how so much of what was new to the musical version of "Fun Home" was still remarkably true to life.  The musical numbers, whether giddy or mournful, felt as close to life as a piece of musical theater can come.  Some favorites:  the imaginary TV commercial for the Bechdel Funeral Home, the wonderful letter from college "I'm Changing My Major to Joan," and Helen Bechdel (Judy Kuhn)'s showstopper in which she tells Alison "I didn't raise you to come back here."  These moments strike familiar memories in all of us,  yet it was one non-musical moment that haunted me most: the scene in which Bruce (Michael Cerveris) takes one of Alison's drawings and begins to revise it into something "better."  Hadn't my own father done something like that to me? Haven't all of our fathers?

After the show, I waited in the lobby to talk to Michael Cerveris, and watched as each cast member was greeted by their family and friends.  For a few moments, the tiny little boy who played my class mate John stood alone next to a column.  I wanted to go introduce myself; I hadn't spoken to the real John in decades.  But then common sense got the best of me and I thought it might seem strange for a middle-aged man to approach a six year old and claim to be his old friend.  I did talk to Michael, as much about the show as about New Orleans, where I live and he has a house waiting for him to return if he ever stops working.  (It should come as no surprise, given all the other connections, that I actually know his house, because I almost bought it myself several years ago, but decided it was too small for my dogs).

Four Alison Bechdels.
Sydney Lucas, who plays the youngest version of Alison, came over, and I gave her my card, to show her the drawing Alison did of me last year.  And then Judy Kuhn stopped by and I told her how much the real Helen meant to me.  She was always put together and seemed like the ideal mom, though, of course, the show and the memoir are about the reality that lies beneath our family ideals.  (One of my few criticisms is that I wanted more Helen--and bit more of the adult Alison narrating toward the end.) As Judy Kuhn began to walk away, I had the strongest sense of connection between us over the character she plays, while at the same realizing that I am now older than the character she plays.  She is not my mother.

Which brings me back to the real Helen.  And that rift that occurred between her and my mom.  After my mother died in 2008, we followed her last-moment death bed instructions that we should have a party in our backyard.  I flew up from New Orleans and drive directly from the airport into this backyard party, populated by hundreds of relatives, neighbors, former students of my father, our babysitters.  At some point, in the chaos, someone told me "Helen Bechdel is here."  And there she was, along with Christian, looking exactly as I remembered and expected.  I reached to take her hand, but she held it up to show my the swollen knuckles of arthritis.  We probably knew we would never see each other again.

I was grateful that she came, even after not speaking to my mother.  I knew it would have made my mother happy to know she was there.


Sunday, September 15, 2013

"Feral Children"

Here's another of the new stories from the ebook edition of The Kind I'm Likely to Get : A Collection. I wrote this some years ago, when a friend said something like, "You should write a story about your dogs but make them human."  I'm certain that he meant something entirely different from what came out.  So here's a story about a man who adopts two feral children and then finds his community threatening ban them after one of them bites.  Yet, as strange as the story may be, it is also one of my most well received: it was published in Fence magazine, short-listed in The Best American Non-Required Reading and earned me a fellowship from the Louisiana Division of the Arts.  The reader here is Alan Williams, and his accent is fantastic!  




Monday, September 02, 2013

Happy Birthday!

In New Orleans, the tradition is to pin money to the shirt of anyone celebrating a birthday, so by the end of the day, they are walking around with a cash corsage.  Having a September 2nd birthday, I usually let it come and go without paying much attention or crossing anyone's path.  It's often the first day of school, or Labor Day or we're evacuating for a hurricane.  But a few people have asked if I'm accepting gifts this year and the truth is...I could use some cash.  Specifically, I could use some cash for my kenneling bill.  The past two months I've been unexpectedly unemployed, but had already committed to promote I'm a Good Dog and work with pit bull organizations and shelters around the country.  So expenses have been up, but income down.  So, while any birthday wish is welcome, you may also donate a few dollars toward this expense if you are so inclined.  Either are deeply appreciated.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Elizabeth Crane Brandt reads "Missing"

Here's the first of the "Kind I'm Likely to Get" videos:  Short story writer Elizabeth Crane Brandt reads my short story "Missing."  It is one of the four bonus stories featured in the ebook version of The Kind I'm Likely to Get, and it is also featured in the upcoming photography book Show and Tell by William Greiner.  



Monday, August 19, 2013

The Kind I'm Likely to Get video project

Earlier this summer, my short story collection The Kind I'm Likely to Get was reissued as an ebook with some extra bonus stories included. The release was a bit of an experiment for me and for Trajectory, the ebook publisher, who previously has only worked with illustrated children's books and graphic novels such as the old, wonderful Classics Illustrated, which they have also reissued as ebooks. It took a little longer than expected to roll out the new/old book across all the distribution channels, but it is now available "everywhere": iBooks, Kobo, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, etc.

We were tossing around ideas for reintroducing the book to the online market, and the obvious solution was to create some videos of me reading from the book.



But this immediately struck me as rather ordinary. Wouldn't it be more interesting to have other people reading the stories? The more I thought about it, the more I loved this idea of coaxing people into taping their own interpretations of the stories and posting them to YouTube. They inevitably would read, and emphasize, the stories and language in a different way than I would, particularly since I've been reading from some of the stories for almost 15 years.

I'm hoping some of you are hammy enough to consider joining me on this. You don't have to be a pro (I'm certainly not). Here's my video plea for help:


Friday, August 16, 2013

10 week online writing workshop starts September 3rd

Earlier this summer I put together an eight week workshop. It was the first time I'd taught online in quite a while, and the first time I'd ever taught online "on my own," meaning without an affiliation that dictated the format and platform I'd be using. There are quite a number of online teaching platforms available--and many of them suck. But I've found one that I really like: Ruzuku. So I'll be doing another ten week course beginning September 3rd. Some of my previous students have already signed up, which is great, but there are also some spots for new people. You can learn more here. `

Ken is a gifted instructor and his talent for engaging students shines throughout his course. 

"Taking Ken's class was the single best thing I have ever done to improve my writing. I feel my technical skills and my ability to select subject matter improves on a weekly basis." 

"Ken is remarkably patient and very human, bringing out the best in his students, both as writers and critics. At the end of the class every one us wanted to continue studying with him." 

"Ken is a thoughtful, engaged instructor who reads work with an eye towards quality." 

"Ken taught me how to analyze and edit my work so I can produce powerful, polished pieces." 

"I loved Ken's workshop. When I finished the class, I felt good about what I'd accomplished and excited to continue writing." 

"Ken is a wonderful teacher. He gave each student thoughtful and useful feedback that inspired confidence. He understands the craft of writing and has the skills to teach it." 

"Ken gave thought-provoking assignments and critiques and kept up with our questions on the message boards. He has a great deal to offer as an instructorand is sensitive to his students' needs and abilities." -- B. Lynn Goodwin

Sunday, July 14, 2013

More of the Kind I'm Likely to Get

It's been two months since the ebook edition of The Kind I'm Likely to Get : A Collection showed up on Amazon, and we're still waiting for Nook and iBooks to upload the book to their catalogs.  But  Water Street Press has a great review on their site, with Lynn Vannucci doing exactly what I did in putting the book back together: appreciating a visit to the old stories, first published in 1999, and finding new something more to chew on in the four additional stories and notes that I've added:
"There are many bonuses in the e-edition—a new foreword by the author, notes on the writer’s process that readers and, especially, students of writing, will appreciate. There are also four brand new stories in the e-book, and these were what this original fan found to be the best treat of all...The new stories in The Kind I’m Likely to Get are, happily, all about animals. Happily because Ken writes passionately about animals. The last line of the story “Albino”, about a missing Doberman, is so desperately graceful it left me gasping for air. “Feral Children” imagines a world in which children are pets; it will jolt you and haunt you the way only a really tidy and matter-of-fact horror story can—“The Lottery," for example."



Thursday, June 06, 2013

New Orleans Writing Workshop Tuesdays 7-9pm June 18th - August 6th; Online edition starts June 19th

ENROLLMENT UPDATE: There are one or two spots left for the online course and a handful of openings for the New Orleans workshop, which will be a small group.

After bouncing back and forth between teaching fiction and non-fiction workshops for years, it occurred to me it might be useful to bring these two "genres" together into a single workshop. Good essays borrow some of the qualities of great fiction, and the essay's sense of purpose can often be a useful aspect to deepen a short story. To be more blunt about it: some essays make better short stories, and vice versa. Why not explore both possibilities? I did a short version of this course several years ago, and this summer I'm taking advantage of my otherwise free schedule to return to it in an online class (for students who might be on the road part of the summer) and a traditional table workshop in New Orleans. The details and course description follow:

Narrative Truth:
Whether working in fiction or nonfiction, the challenge all writers face is in creating narratives that ring true to the reader. This workshop will allow students to dip into both genres--short story and creative non-fiction--and measure their work against the same literary standards: character, conflict, detail and use of language. Each student will be able to workshop at least two full-length stories or essays during the course. In addition, students will be given short, focused, weekly assignments designed to break them out of their comfort zone.  8 sessions, $275.

An online version of the course will be offered for $200 beginning June 19th.  

Ken Foster is the author of a memoir, The Dogs Who Found Me; a collection of stories, The Kind I'm Likely to Get; and a collection of essays, Dogs I Have Met. His work has appeared in numerous publications including Salon, Fence, Bomb, McSweeney's, The Believer, The New York Times, Bark, The San Francisco Chronicle and elsewhere. He is the recipient of fellowships from the Louisiana Division of the Arts, Yaddo, the New York Foundation of the Arts, and The Sewanee Writers Conference. His most recent book, I'm a Good Dog, was selected as one of the year's best by Vanity Fair Magazine.

To apply to the class, send an email and writing sample, with a list previous workshop experience, to ken@kenfosterbooks.com.

Tuesday, June 04, 2013

Get the "I'm a Good Dog" official tour shirt--available again for the first time!

Last summer, as I set out to plan a tour for I'm a Good Dog, I created a Kickstarter campaign that succeeded beyond my expectations. One of the rewards was this double-sided tour shirt. The campaign did so well, we ran out of shirts, and we've been trying to get a second run to finish off a few incomplete orders. Meanwhile, I've continued touring (New Hampshire, Maine, Boston in the past month alone) and accumulating more expenses, since the proceeds of my book sales to rescue groups and bookstores. So, now is your chance if you missed them the first time--get your order in! The shirts come in black or gold, American Apparel unisex or "American Girl". And best of all, they feature the amazing Alison Bechdel's portrait of Doug and I. You really could frame it.  The price is $25 including postage.  Questions?  Contact me at ken@kenfosterbooks.com





Colors and Sizes
Color preference:Gold or Black


Wednesday, May 15, 2013

The Kind I'm Likely to Get, Special Edition


Back before there were dogs in my life, there were short stories, and I wrote them.  Later this month, Trajectory will be reissuing my collection of short stories, The Kind I'm Likely to Get.  Here's the introduction from the new edition, which explains where the book has been and why now seemed like a good time to reintroduce it to the world:


When I first published The Kind I’m Likely to Get, in 1999, it was after years of rejections.  During that time, I’d met with agents, including one who was puzzled by the idea that the stories should be read in order.  I hadn’t thought it was so revolutionary, or that agents didn’t read things in order.  Why couldn’t it be a novel, others asked.  But it wasn’t a novel, and it didn’t aspire to be one.  Eventually, after firing my agent, it was published as a paperback original by William Morrow.  Even then, part of the reason it was picked up was that they were introducing a line of paperback original fiction and had a slot to fill.  This is how publishing works. 

It was a relief when it began to get positive reviews from places like The New York Times.  Maybe I would have the chance to publish again!  But just as quickly, Morrow was sold to HarperCollins and when the second printing of The Kind I’m Likely to Get ran down, it was never reprinted.  But, technically, it was available as a print-on-demand title, so they could retain the rights.  So, readers could order the title, but bookstores couldn’t return unsold copies for credit, which meant they were unlikely to keep any copies on the shelf. 

But in 1999, when I was negotiating my contract, I managed to strike electronic rights without anyone batting an eye.  We still weren’t sure what electronic rights actually were, and I was a completely unknown writer, so no one really cared one way or another. 

More than a decade later, after writing a series of books about life with dogs, reissuing my stories seemed like a good idea.  And as I prepared the files, I realized that it would also be easy to add some extras—including commentary on each story, which you, the reader, can choose to read or ignore. 

I’ve also added four newer stories, Stories About Animals.  While there are virtually no animals in The Kind I’m Likely to Get, they are unavoidable in my more recent work.  And, to me, the stories with animals are warmer, richer and more emotional than the shell-shocked characters of my original collection.  But I’ll let you be the final judge.  

Friday, April 19, 2013

The Tenth Good Thing About Brando

From an email I sent on April 16, 2013

When I was in first grade, I wrote my first "published" story, for our school's mimeographed weekly publication. It was a memoir actually. It was the story of our family cat, Puss, who had just passed away. It was only relatively recently that the significance of this first piece of writing came clear to me: this was, at that point in my life, a huge, mysterious event. It read, in it's entirety, "My cat died. My cat is dead." I hadn't learned to be sentimental.  And later that year, I discovered one of my first favorite books, The Tenth Good Thing About Barney, by Judith Viorst.  It was about a boy whose cat dies, and his mother tells him he should think of ten good things to say about Barney when they have a funeral in their yard.    

Today I said goodbye to my oldest dog, Brando.  He was thirteen, more or less an immortal for a dog his size.  Over the years he had his share of health concerns, and every time he pulled through, I thought, like a child, "There, he's never going to die after all."  I knew this wasn't true.  I tried to prepare myself.  But that's the difficult thing about losing our loved ones: no matter how much we understand it is time to let go, we are never really ready.

Last night, I brought home an enormous burger for his dinner. He left the lettuce and tomato untouched.  Then I lifted him into bed, and while he slept next to me, as he has for over 12 years, I made my list of ten things. The boy in the book has a difficult time at first, and gets stuck at nine.  I had the opposite problem, but I stuck to the limit.  

1.  Even as a puppy, he looked like no one else.



2.  He didn't mind being used as a pillow.
Doug naps on Brando



3.  He never met an ear he didn't want to clean. 
Ear cleaning 101
Ear cleaning 101



4.  Even though I often described him as picky about other dogs, he shared his home with dozens over the years.  
Brando and Bonnie



5.  His fear of puppies didn't stop him from raising one. 
Brando and Bananas
Brando and Bananas



6.  He loved my parents even more than he loved me. After they died, and their furniture arrived at my house, he seemed to understand everything that delivery could tell him.
Brando remembers my parents
Brando remembers my parents

7.  Although he was a city boy, he learned to appreciate nature.
Brando meets the sheep next door
Brando meets the sheep next door

8.  He was an expert cuddler, and coined the term "lean in" long before Sheryl Sandberg.  
Brando Cuddle



9.  He maintained a pretty good poker face no matter what was thrown at him.  
Brando begins therapy
Brando begins therapy



10.  He saw me through some of the most difficult times of my life: 9/11, heart problems, Katrina, the deaths of my parents, a mugging, surgery, etc. And yet he made me feel I would happily do it all again, if he was at my side. 

It's going to take a while to figure out who I am now that I no longer have him at my side.  

--Ken

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Upcoming events in Los Angeles, New Orleans, New Hampshire, Maine and Boston

And then, seriously, the tour is over.

On Saturday April 20th I'll be in Los Angeles at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books. My panel is at 3:30 and tickets are free, but required. You can buy them here.

On Saturday May 4th, I'll be in New Orleans at the Jazz Festival, signing books at 2pm.

In May I'm zipping up to New England for several events:

Friday May 5th, I'll be the guest speaker at the Concord SPCA's annual Dinner with the Animals.

Saturday, May 6th, I'll be joining Traer Scott for a signing at Fetch in Portland Maine.

And Sunday May 7th, its back to Boston for an event at Fish and Bone on Newbury Street.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Storming the Capital...with pit bulls


I've been terrible at keeping this blog up to date. TERRIBLE! But today (Friday, March 22nd) I'll be in our nation's Capital for a pit bull adoption day at the US Chamber of Commerce from noon til 2pm. I'll be signing books as well, with the proceeds going to the Washington Humane Society. Tomorrow from 1-3 we'll be at Doggy Style, a DC dog bakery. Then I'm back to Charlottesville for the Virginia Festival of the Book and on home to New Orleans.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Jake eats an orange


Jake has been settling into life in New Orleans, which, for him, means jumping into orange trees to gorge on fruit.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Waking up in Memphis

Yesterday I sent the dogs off to Canine Connection and boarded Amtrak for an eight hour train ride to Memphis. I love riding the train, but it was my first time on this stretch of track, and boy, was it bumpy. As one passenger observed, if we had been on a plane, we wouldn't have been allowed out of our seats the whole time. But it beat driving.




I went straight to bed and woke this morning just in time to frantically iron, shower and change for three TV interviews on Memphis morning shows. In the midst of all that, I discovered a pair of underwear on the closet floor of my hotel room, which lead to one of my most popular recent posts of Facebook. (Yeah, its come to that.)

Tonight I'll be at the Booksellers at Laurelwood from 6-7, then in the morning I board a bus to Knoxville, where I'll get to catch up with T Cooper and his family before doing a Saturday afternoon signing at Union Avenue Books. Then I drive to Louisville, where I'll be signing Sunday at 4pm at Carmichael's. And then I fly home. I'm hoping to find some brief boat ride to make the trip complete.

In the midst of all this, I'm a Good Dog has hit the Southern Indie Bestseller list at #14. Since this was based on sales during the previous weeks, when I was doing no promotion at all, I'm really not sure how it happened. But who cares how? Congratulations to pit bulls!