Thursday, January 01, 2009

Looking back, moving forward

Photo of Ali MacGraw, with Jemima, and Cathy Scott, with Mia, by Clay Myers. The year 2008 was more than good to me. Pawprints of Katrina, a book near to my heart, was released to a crowd of 200 at Best Friends Animal Sanctuary in southern Utah on a beautiful July day. There to welcome the book was actress and animal advocate Ali MacGraw, who lent her good name to the project by writing a beautiful foreword. In late January, I walked with volunteers, and covered, the Mardi Gras Barkus Parade. We received a rousing welcome from the crowd and VIP stand as we carried the Best Friends Animal Society's banner through New Orleans’ French Quarter. One weekend, I taught a writers' workshop for Authors of the Flathead in Kalispell, Montana, and met wonderfully inspiring future authors eager to make their mark in the literary world. I went on a book tour that included, besides the kick-off event in Kanab, Utah, a signing in La Jolla, CA, at Warwick's, three signings in Las Vegas, one in Santa Fe (more about that, below), Washington, D.C., and went on numerous speaking engagements. In September, I spoke at the 2008 National Book Festival in Washington, D.C., on the Mall before 250 people about the animals rescued from Hurricane Katrina. I had breakfast at the White House and dinner at the Library of Congress, both hosted by First Lady Laura Bush, who has pushed literacy during her eight years in D.C. It was an incredible weekend and one I won't soon forget. Then, in November, photographer Clay Myers, whose heartwarming photos grace the pages of Pawprints of Katrina, his wife, Cathie, and I flew to Santa Fe, New Mexico, for a book signing there with Ali MacGraw, where she lives. It's been a joy getting to know her. She's unpretentious, giving and truly cares about all creatures. She took us for a quiet dinner at Cafe Pasqual, where the red carpet was rolled out. The book signing at Garcia Street Books was a great success, with many of Ali's friends stopping by. I now count Ali and her son Josh Evans and daughter-in-law Charis Michelsen as friends. They're grounded, thoughtful people and I'm richer for knowing them. For two days, I walked a precinct with childhood friend Vickie Pynchon -- blogger, mediator/negotiator, author, literary editor extraodinaire in Los Angeles -- and then attended a November 4 election party with Vickie and her husband, attorney Stephen Goldberg, at the Rio Hotel in Las Vegas. Vickie was one of 1,000 attorneys who converged in Las Vegas -- because Nevada was a swing state -- to make sure all was copacetic at the polls. I have another true crime book in the works -- and a contract with St. Martin's Press True Crime Library -- and I have assignments I'm working on for Best Friends Magazine and Web site. Life is good. I look forward to 2009. I'm enormously grateful to readers and animal lovers worldwide!

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