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Bulldog vs. Terrier: The Perfect Mix

Monday, February 8, 2016


As Baby Birds comes to its fruition, I'm happy to say that I'm well along on a book about Chet Baker. It doesn't yet have a home in a publishing house, but that's not a big concern to me right now. What I want, and what I've accomplished, is to have a bunch of chapters written and its voice firmly established when Baby Birds hits, so you can tell exactly what it will be and what it won't be. And we'll take it from there. The time to shop a new manuscript is when your new book hits. With your help, I'm looking forward to Baby Birds hitting hard!

The Chetbook is not going to be another "Your dog is actually a wolf and here's why" book. Lord knows that's been done, and done, and done again. It's not going to be all sciencey.  Well, it will have the amount of science that my everyday life does, which is a good dash, the sriracha sauce that spices every pursuit. 

It's not going to go on and on about training, but it will, I hope, give you a picture of how one person molded a near-perfect companion from a little blob of black putty. 

Mostly what it will be is me, telling you who this dog is, what he does and what he means to me, every day. There is adventure, reflection, reverie and the helpless laughter that Boston terriers so expertly draw from their people. The Bacon keeps giving me stories, another huge one last night, right after this video was shot. I'm saving that one for the book. I put a lot of good stuff on the blog, but I can't write the way I can in a book; I can't delve as deep. The Chetbook seems like one without an end, because his story is changing and deepening as we go. It's my story, too. Eleven years is a long time to love someone this much. I hope we have a good handful more. 

Enjoy the video of Baker being hisself. Enough bulldog in him to give up the chase and come along, and enough terrier to run ahead.

Baby Birds: An Artist Looks Into the Nest: Chet Baker Speaks

Sunday, February 7, 2016


Mether thinks I am getting a little hard of hearing, because I sometimes do not hear the UPS truck come down the driveway. It is not that. It is that my dreams are getting better.

 So why would I stop a perfectly good dream about actually catching a squirtle, instead of waking up in real life, where I never catch a squirtle, to bark at the big brown truck?

This time, though, I heard her open the front door which is my cue to bark! And rush out in front of her! And greet Mr. Crum and then check his truck for bikkits!

She had been particularly alert this day, because there was a package coming she was very much looking forward to getting.  Perhaps full of home-made bikkits.

Instead, there was just a book. She seems very excited about this book, even though no one can eat it.

All I have heard for as long as I can remember is book bla bla bla bla book bla bla bla book bla bla bla bla. bookbookbookbookbeautifulbla bla bla heavybla bla bla gorgeousbla bla bla lovebla bla blaexquisite reproduction bla bla bla bla sohappy

One good thing about this book is it makes her happy to have it in her hands at last. I like her happy best.
Also, she is preparing to sign and send a LOT of these books out of her studio, and that means she will be there a lot. I get to lie in the middle of the floor where she would trip over me if she did not stop to kiss me.

Also, that means that every day for awhile, we go see Miss Cynni down at the Lower Salem Post Office. I love going to see Miss Cynni. Because she loves me and makes a fuss over me,

because I get to go behind the scenes and inspect the premises, and also because bikkits.

oncet there was a real cowboy there! With spurs!

And the good thing about that is that every package Mether sends through the Lower Salem Post Office, she says, helps convince the U.S. Postal Service to keep that tiny post office open. I loved going to Whipple Post Office, but they closed it down. Which upset Mether a lot. But then we found Lower Salem.
So we go out of our way to take boxes there so Miss Cynni still has a job. And bikkits.

Anyway. I understand that Amazon has Mether's book available now for pre-order.  Even though they will not send any copies out until April 12. And it is so easy to order it now, forget it and have the book just appear in your mailbox POOF when it is available. 


Mether will have her book available for pre-order on her website in mid-March.  

Which is not all that long from now.

When you order your book from Mether, she will write something nice in it and sign it to whomever you wish. She is the one who handles all the orders, boxes them up, addresses them and drives them down to Miss Cynni's Post Office. With me.

And each time she does that, she makes about $14.00. When she sells a lot of books, she can buy more bikkits, and maybe fix up a bathroom from 1978 that is now crumbling to pieces.  And I get to go to Lower Salem Post Office, where there are bikkits.

So that is a good deal. You get your book signed and personalized, and I get bikkits, and Mether gets $14.00 and maybe a bathroom.

But when you order it elsewhere, Mether does not make anything. *** And the first thing I am afraid she will stop buying when she is poor is bikkits. Then kibble. I could go hungry. We do not want that to happen.

This is Chet Baker, Boston Terrier, asking you to think before you order, and buy local.

Stay tuned for updates. Pre-order forms will appear here on this blog and at in mid-March. She'll let you know on her pages on Facebook and Instagram, too. Mether will time it so your signed book arrives on or a little before April 12.

Thank you very much. 


Chet Baker
Now for a message from Mether.

***How can it be that an author doesn't make a cent when you buy her book elsewhere? It's not that Amazon is somehow evil or denying me my rightful amount. When you buy my books anywhere but from me, I make nothing. This is how it works. Print book sales have plummeted so drastically in the last five years that even very popular books fail to "pay out," or earn back their advance. Paying out means enough books sell to pay the publisher back what they paid me to write it.

Letters from Eden, my first book of illustrated essays published in 2006, paid out very nicely, and I just got a small royalty check last week! The Bluebird Effect, my second book, published in 2012, was wildly popular, an Oprah pick, even! but has yet to "pay out," or earn back the advance Houghton Mifflin Harcourt paid me to write it.  The difference? Letters from Eden was published in 2006, when people were still buying a lot of books. The Bluebird Effect was published in 2012, when the Internet had almost completely grabbed everyone's attention, apparently for good. Until the publisher, through sales, makes back the amount I was advanced, neither The Bluebird Effect or Baby Birds will pay a royalty to me. So when a retail outlet, be it great big Amazon or your favorite bookstore sells my book, I don't make a cent unless and until the advance is paid out. Because people get most of what they want here on the Intertubes, lots of fabulous books will never sell enough copies to pay royalties to their authors.

 I'm not dumb. I see the writing on the wall. While the advance is a nice sum, and helps keep the lights on and the fridge stocked, it's spread out over as long as it takes me to write and illustrate the book. Which, in the case of my books, can be anywhere from 5 (The Bluebird Effect) to 13 
(Baby Birds) years.

 I've got to find other income streams; I can't make it on advances alone. The only realistic way I can make any money on this book is to sell it myself. That's why I speak and travel so much. I have to. Good thing I love public speaking and travel!

The Sunset Club

Thursday, February 4, 2016


 I'm pretty frugal. I spend most of my money on food, a good safe car, and excellent optics. Sure, I'll do a therapeutic shop every once in a blue moon, but you can bet it'll be at an outlet store (Hello, Eddie Bauer Outlet and Warehouse, thanks for dressing me top to toe!) I pretty much loathe movie theaters, paying lots of money to watch something ehh, and standing in line for anything. Drag me to an amusement park and I'm likely to spend my time watching people and the house sparrows, scrambling for crumbs.  I don't like to sit down to do anything but draw or write, and half the time I'm standing at the drawing table. So: Frugal and restless.

One of the things I absolutely loved about Sanibel Island when I visited years ago was the sunset culture that thrives there. People actually plan for sunset. They walk or get in their cars and carry lawnchairs to the beach to watch it, sort of loosely together. I thought that was the most wonderful thing! A whole community gets that the best show they can watch is free, and they gather to watch it together.

So it is entirely in keeping that I've become attached to watching sunrises and sunsets. Sure, we all enjoy a good sunset, but how many of us actually make a date with them, and get up while it's still dark to assess the cloud/sun/sky potential, or prep dinner at 3 pm so as to be out for the 5:45pm February matinee?  I ask this rhetorically, knowing that too many most excellent nominees for the Sunset Club are likely to be on a conference call or otherwise locked inside when the show starts, and for that I apologize. Long summer evenings are coming!

The first thing we do when a meeting of the Sunset Club commences is get outside somewhere picturesque. The regularly meeting Club currently consists of a President and Vice President. Here is the Veep, reporting for duty. We have members in Maine, Whipple, and Marietta, Ohio as well. You can join. I don't even have to know about it. The only requirements are that you be mindful of good sunrise/sunset opportunities, pay attention, and are properly appreciative of the shows.

Tip: Try to attain a high promontory before the show reaches full intensity. The climbing is good for your heart, and the view is good for your soul.

Dress warmly. Temperatures can plummet near sunset.

Pay attention to the main show; i.e. the one going on, Stage West, around the fabled star upon which we depend for all life.  This goes without saying. BOOM.

However, you must make sure to spin around to take in the auxiliary show, which is often as good or, in its own way, better than the one on the main stage.

Yes. All of these photos make me want to lie down and roll around in the cold damp grass. Perfectly permissible, if you're dressed for it. See where the "high promontory" comes in? It's best to get up so high you've got unobstructed views both west and east.

East views can be gentler, less dramatic, but so powerful, too.

Don't forget to whip around and see what that star of our is up to, though!
In the Sunset Club, we do a lot of spinning around.

Watching sunsets is all about gratitude. It's about feeling very small and humble as something much larger and more grandiose than anything you could dream of goes on all around you. 

It's about paying attention, too, and setting your body clock to 4:15 pm, to look outside and notice whether there are nice clouds floating over, clouds with the potential to dazzle when lit by the matchless spectrum of the low setting sun. It's about situational awareness: not letting such a thing slip by because you were otherwise occupied. 

The Sunset Club is founded on seeking out your joy, and making a conscious effort to connect with it, no matter what else may be going on in your life.

It's about being thankful for all we are given, every single day. And that includes every moment of every day. Each one is a gift. It's up to us to use those moments well. 

Counting your blessings is an excellent use of moments. Phoebe told me to name them every night before I close my eyes. Good exercise. The child shall lead...

I'll leave you with a thought that Shila gave me when I was struggling. 

"What we focus on expands. Which is bad when we focus on fear and lack."

So I'm making a conscious effort to focus not on what I long for, but on all that is joyful and abundant in my life, the people and things, big and small, that I'm so thankful for that it raises a lump in my throat.

See you at sunset?

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