A Blog | Anne Calcagno

AWARDS for Love Like a Dog, 2011!

Love Like a Dog won First place in the category First Novel from the “New Generation Indie Awards.” The awards were announced on May 24th, 2011, in NYC at the Plaza. Love Like a Dog was also a finalist in the category: Animals/Pets Books.

Read more about: Indie Book Awards

Love Like a Dog was also awarded the Bronze medal in the Great Lakes Regional Fiction category from the 15th Annual Independent Book Publisher Awards.

The awards were celebrated on May 23rd, 2011 at the Providence Club in NYC. There were 3,907 overall entries.

Read More about: Independent Publisher
and check out more about my awards on Facebook!

Love Like a Dog furthermore received an Honorable Mention in the General Fiction category of the San Francisco Book Festival, which is part of the DYI Convention (Do it Yourself awards in Film, Music & Books).

Read more about the San Francisco Book Festival

Here are some photos of me at the awards ceremony!

I Dream of Michael Vick

In Publishers Weekly, an article about Book Expo America a striking quote by Diane Gedymin, (founder of The Publishers Desk) appears: “Eighty-three percent of Americans dream of writing a book before they die.” Now that’s’ a majority. But 83% of Americans aren’t reading books. I want to know why would a person want others to do what (s)he won’t do? Aspiring writers want to be read. No, no: maybe it is simply the writing of a book that matters. I’m writing this blog with no promise of being read.

Yet the reason to struggle to be published is to be read. You make money for the publisher from the sale your book and its subsidiary rights, so you can survive financially as a writer, and write other books, books that hold meaning for someone besides you. If being read doesn’t matter to the writer, there are no holds barred. Why just dream? Write away.

Are we really, still now, a land of dreamers?

I got to bed tense, because lately my effort to gain readership has me overwhelmed, exhausted, half-crazy with self-doubt. I have written about pit bulls. The whole nation paid attention to Michael Vick’s pit bulls for awhile. A friend of my mother’s suggests I join Michael Vick on his community service trips to under-privileged schools where he tells kids how bad dog fighting is. I must phone Michael Vick, get him to read my book, and he’ll want me to join him, because why would he say no to me? Everyone around me has taken PR 101. I paid for CreateSpace to send out 3,411 press release copies about Love Like a Dog. Not ONE magazine, radio or news show, newspaper, or personality responded. This is because Michael Vick does not know about me yet.

I dream about Michael Vick. I am running from room to room trying to get something done. Each room is filled with stacks of papers I must sign, fold, or press into envelopes. Each room has people in it, talking on their phones, shouting out at me with questions I can’t hear well, questions that must, however, be answered. I am trying to get to all the rooms, but I repeatedly get stalled. In one room, someone I don’t know is gesticulating, waving papers at me as my phone begins to ring. I understand, at this moment in the dream, we are all trying to promote my book but the whole thing is crashing, tumbling. The phone rings and rings. I dig and dig and dig in my purse for my red phone, and just as I grab it, it goes silent. I check voicemail and guess what? I’ve just missed Michael Vick’s call. His deep voice tells me that now he has missed me. I know, somehow, I’ll never catch him again. I turn to the people in the room, and shout: “Hey! Things have to change around here. I’m supposed to answer Michael Vick!”

My Mother & Books

My mother used to leave people’s homes saying, “Well, they had a nice library.” Or “Can you believe it, not one book in sight! Do you think they even read???” My sister and I grew up believing that books had to be seen, saved, and, most importantly, displayed. Because of this we both have spent much of our transcontinental lives overpaying grossly for exceptionally heavy boxes of books to be mailed from one place to another, books from high school, college, graduate school and so on, going with us wherever we go. Even when the paper gets brittle and beer-colored, we save these books. In my house, I have an office with 4 six-tier high shelves of books, most shelves sagging due to double-layering, one set of books behind the other. There are also numerous books laid horizontally on top of these. I also built book shelves into the two closets of my offices.

We have books in the living room, our bedroom, both children’s bedrooms, and my husband’s office. They crowd the attic, the basement, and rest many stacks high along three big bookcases the full length of the hallway upstairs. Others stacked on the foyer shelves.

I find it painful to part with books I have read, certain that some brilliant passage that nourished my soul will be stripped from me forever if I give up the book it is encased in.

Which is why it is particularly hard for me to celebrate when my readers (whom I love and am so grateful for and want to hug) say, “I just gave your book away to my mother…my dog walker…I sent it to my friend in Cincinnati.” Two weeks after the book came out, there were used copies available on amazon.com. Pre-owned! How do people do it???

This is why Kindle is doing so well. Will an e-reader ever suffice for my mother? What will she have to say about the neighbors?

Meeting “Animal” Readers

This is my first book about dogs (in Animal Studies departments referred to as “nonhuman animals.”) Which means that, although I’ve gone to dog parks and beaches and through the neighborhood on dog walks, and although I used to volunteer at an animal shelter, I am suddenly meeting many more dog people than ever before. The other day, at a promotional event, someone came up to me, and said, “Do you meditate?”
I replied, ‘Sadly I do not.”
“Well, you must. For the animals. I am inviting you to meditate on animals with us every morning at 10:00 a.m. at the Apollo Theater.”

That night, a well-intentioned friend called. “I wish I knew how I could help you get the book out there,” he said. “Have you tried pet stores?”
“Yes.”
“Have you tried bookstores?”
“Yes.”
“What about Rogation Days?”
“????”
“That’s when everyone in the Episcopal Church brings their pet to church to be blessed. You could set up a booth and sell your book!”
But Jesus chased the moneylenders out of the temple.

Did you notice the reverse spelling of G-O-D is D-O-G.

Meeting “My” Readers

One of the magnificent aspects of self-publishing is actually encountering your readers. When I read at a bookstore and signed books, I hardly ever got to speak more than three sentences to any book-buyer. Earlier today I was preparing a mailing of two copies of LOVE LIKE A DOG, from an order placed on my webpage. As I scotch taped, and folded, and addressed, I loved and coveted the reader named “Alicia” in California. Who is this wonderful person who has found my book?

Readers have written back to me. I’m sharing a couple of comments because this is what happens in self-publishing. What will happen to you.

Hi Anne,
> I received your book and loved it!! I couldn’t put it down. I stayed up
> until 3am the first night reading it, then finally made myself go to sleep
> since I had to work in the morning. As soon as I woke up I started reading it again and ended up being an hour late for work!
>
> Thank you so much for sending copies to give to adopters. I look forward to passing it out.
>
> I write an online column for Examiner and would love to write an article
> about your book. A short interview, perhaps? Would that be ok? I can email you the questions if you agree. Here’s the link to my page there.

> Thank you so much for writing Love Like a Dog. :)
>
> Rebecca Novak
> Shelter Angels Pit Bull Rescue

Here is the link to the article she wrote:
Online article about LLAD:

Okay, I’m Polyanna. This feels darn good. As if a) writers and b) readers are all this big world needs to create the fullest cycle of literature. Meanwhile, the whole publishing empire is collapsing. I think they have forgotten, really, about a) writers and b) readers.
My favorite, favorite reader comment shared by Toni Phillips, the founder of the amazing shelter http://www.mariahspromise.com/, is:

>You’ll love this, almost as much as I do … while I was here in the barn checking email etc. Mike (her husband) was in the camper READING YOUR BOOK!!!! That may not seem a big deal, BUT I’ve only seen Mike read one book in TWENTY YEARS and that’s his Bible!! He was really enjoying it …