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

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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

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