May 5th, 2016
The title of this book, Loving Emmi, could also be the title of this review, that is if you are a fan of Barbara Boswell Brunner’s writing. And, it would be hard to be a dog lover and not be. As a memoir writing instructor who loves dogs and writing about dogs, I am also aware of some of the perceptions out there in the world of memoir writing that books about animals may be a little “light” in comparison to say the next Wild or Dry, memoirs that explore serious topics of exploration or addiction. But there is a joy in Boswell Brunner’s writing even when she is tackling difficult topics like her dog’s death or little Emmi’s suffering. Her voice is so comfortable that her love of dogs becomes contagious and the reader soon finds themselves engulfed in her world. My favorite passages are when you get to hear the story from the point of view of little Emmi or Izzy. While these passages could easily become silly or overly sentimental, they strike just the right tone, welcoming us into the worlds of these little animals. I don’t want to say too much about the story because people should discover for themselves, but if you haven’t read Boswell Brunner’s work before you should give it a try and if you already have this is the ideal sequel to her Dog-Ma, The Zen of Slobber. You will fall in love with her new little pack as much as you did the old. An enjoyable read, despite the occasional tears!
In this highly anticipated sequel to the best-selling Dog-Ma, The Zen of Slobber, Izzy, the feisty and ferocious terrier, has lost her eyesight. Following on the heels of this devastating loss, her arch-rival Morgan – a gentle giant of a Rottweiler – suddenly succumbs to cancer. Finding herself a lonely-only, it’s not long before Izzy finds herself nose-to-nose with her humans’ new pet project: a foster Rottie pup also named Morgan. Quickly renamed Emmi to avoid confusion (and the wrath of Izzy,) it was to be the beginning of a journey unlike any other.
Severely injured as a newborn, Emmi—affectionately known to her fast-growing online fan base as Baby Morgan the Broken Jaw Puppy—is hanging onto life by a thread. Living with a crushed jaw that has left her unable to open her mouth to eat or drink, the prognosis is grim. Baby Morgan is starving to death. Having rescued her from a horrific life, her parents spring into all-out desperation mode to find her the best lifesaving medical care. Despite the advice of veterinary professionals to euthanize, her parents are determined to save her at all costs. Taking to the Internet, they rally a huge online community of dog lovers who quickly become their second family. It does not take long for Emmi’s sheer determination and ferocious will to live to take hold.
This is Emmi’s miracle. A story of hope, inspiration and triumph in the face of adversity.
“This book is a must read for animal lovers, everywhere. Barbara Boswell Brunner pulls at your heartstrings in Loving Emmi, a rescue story like no other. When Barbara, and her husband, Ray, decide it’s time to foster another dog, they have no idea what they’re getting into. This is their story, but it’s also the story of every “imperfect” shelter dog; a story that promises to open eyes and hearts. A fantastic read. Two paws, way, way up.”
– Author Nick Antinozzi – Desperate Times Trilogy
“A captivating and heartwarming story that illustrates the deep and trusting bond that exists between dogs and humans, written with true understanding, compassion, and love. A must-read gem of a book.”
Author Kathryne Arnold – The Resurrection of Hannah
Read an excerpt HERE
Dog-Ma: the Zen of Slobber (Dog-Ma Book 1)
Barbara’s vivid and dramatic stories, told with a wicked sense of humor, will make you laugh out loud. She definitely gets what living with rescued dogs (nine of them!) is all about.
When Barbara meets her future husband, Ray, it is love-and dog-at first sight. Over the course of thirty-two years, seventeen relocations and nine dogs, their mutual love of dogs guides them on their unconventional path. The love that Barbara and Ray get in return is literally lifesaving, with one dog attacking a lethal intruder and another discovering Barbara’s cancer. Her own survival story underscores the story of how her dogs become survivors themselves.
Each new dog adds its own dynamic to the family, sometimes upending it. From Turbo (whose Spock-like ears may have provided super powers), Barbara learns about the will to live; Lexington demonstrates incredible patience and an inexplicable love of golf; Madison teaches that laughter is truly the best medicine and that the whole “nine lives thing” is not reserved just for cats; Morgan should be sainted for tolerating Izzy, who is as cute as she is bad. Barbara is certain that somewhere in doggie heaven there is a poster that says “If you are sick, injured or in need of really expensive medical care, FIND THESE HUMANS!”
“Anyone who loves dogs and animals will thoroughly enjoy this book, you will find the authors love, compassion and kindness to her dogs unconditional and the sacrifices both her and her husband make are unbelievable.” – Beck Valley Books
“A sweet, funny and poignant book that I read, cover to cover in just one sitting. It caused me to shed more than a few tears, brought many smiles to my face and even made me laugh out loud a time or two. Whether you’re head over heels for furbabies or are just looking for a great read, this is the book for you!” – Jayedee Halpin Dewitt
“If you love dogs, if you’ve ever rescued a dog, or if you just want a book that exemplifies the extraordinary bond that develops between dogs and the humans who love them, you must read Dog-ma the Zen of Slobber.” – Terrier Torrent
Read an excerpt HERE
About the Author
Award Winning Author, Barbara Brunner grew up in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania with her parents, sister and always a dog, or two or three. She graduated Summa Cum Laude from a small women’s college in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania. Meeting her husband in Washington, DC, they continued together on a journey as self-proclaimed dog addicts. In the ensuing years, she founded three successful businesses in the Pacific Northwest and is a prolific fundraiser for breast cancer research. She and her husband are retired and now reside in Southwest Florida with two dogs and copious amounts of dog fur. She is currently working on indulging her well known flip flop addiction.
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I received this book to review through Beck Valley Books Book Tours, all the opinions above are 100% my own.
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April 4th, 2016
I will be offering the following course on April 23rd at AVA Gallery in Lebanon, N.H. Registration is through AVA Gallery. Spread the word. Thanks!
One Photo, Four Stories
Kim J. Gifford
One 6½-hour class
Tuition: $75 /members; $95 /non-members
This one-day workshop uses a photo of your choosing as a prompt for four separate stories. Get your creative juices flowing and spark your memory in a class that promises to be fun and stimulating. It is also a great way to launch or jumpstart a memoir, begin a new journal or create an archive for family or friends. Open to all ability levels. Come with a spirit of fun and a willingness to share!
March 3rd, 2016
Colored pencil may be my new addiction so I hope you guys don’t get tired of viewing them while I perfect my technique. This picture is of my new pug puppy, Amore, and a young girl from our church, Rhianna. I’ve been taking Amore to church since I got her last December. She is quiet and well behaved and loves being passed from person to person during the service. As she has gotten a bit older this is not as easy because she is growing so big so quickly, but both Amore and Rhianna still seem to love their cuddle time. Below is the picture I did this from as well as further examples of my process.
March 3rd, 2016
Last February I attended a conference put on by the Vermont Arts Council called Breaking into Business. It was designed to help artists establish and market their businesses. There, I met colored pencil artist Corrina Thurston, who does fabulous drawings of animals, wildlife etc. They are so realistic. I had never realized such an effect could be achieved with colored pencil. A lot of it involves building up layers and also using tools to cut into the layers to create lines, hair, wrinkles, whiskers, fur, etc. I decided to give it a try and began doing some portraits. This is one of my most recent of President Obama.
I’m really enjoying the process and am fascinated watching the image emerge. I have been taking photos of the drawing as it progresses and find that by the time I take the one prior to the final I frequently am ready to give up. When I get to this point I have tried studying the photo of my drawing and comparing it to the original picture in Photoshop. I practice making changes in Photoshop where it is easy to backup and erase mistakes and once I realize what needs to be fixed, I return to the page and colored pencil to make the changes. In this case, the changes were minimal, a narrowing of the face and a darkening of the eyes, but it made all the difference. Below, shows the sketch in progress.
You can see how the fourth picture here is slightly different from the final image. All the changes here were done by hand. I only use Photoshop to compare the photos.
January 19th, 2016
I’ve been thinking a lot about place lately as I am scheduled to begin a memoir class on home and travel. As I’ve been pulling together my syllabus and lesson plans, my mind has been keenly focused on the subject and as a result I’ve come across so many interesting pieces of writing focusing. A fellow blogger, Deb German Young, wrote a beautiful piece capturing the heat of Memphis and her childhood there while she searches for Avalon in her now everyday life in Vermont. A friend shared with me a piece about his grandmother’s home in Vermont and a childhood fight that had him feeling like an outsider on many levels. This morning I stumbled across an announcement that West Virginia University Press is starting a book series called In Place focusing on books firmly rooted in place. For numerous years my primary form of income has been writing for magazines such as Upper Valley Life, Kearsarge Magazine, Rutland Magazine—all regional publications, but I don’t think I gave much thought about how much the place where I live and was raised affected me until I started traveling. So many of the differences in political, religious views, customs, even affection for pets, I could soon trace back to my northern New England upbringing. My setting influenced if not my actual beliefs at the very least the way I approached things. I began to see that even my fears were based on where I came from. I have friends from afar who don’t think twice of getting in a car and driving through six lanes of traffic, while many of the people here close to home find a sojourn to Burlington a big challenge. Our world here is small in scale and while I am not implying that we do not seek broader horizons, for many of us it is a leap to do so. I realized that my best friends have not strayed too far from home and my own family all lives within a 50-mile radius of each other. I come from people who stick and my own journeys in to the bigger world have thus, been perhaps been viewed as greater adventures than they might be to someone else. Each summer I get on a plane and travel 7,000 miles away to Hawaii. When I was 12, 16, even 25, I could not have imagined myself going that far.
I took a writing class two years ago with memoirist Abigail Thomas who kept encouraging me to write more about my family and their rural way of life. I couldn’t quite grasp the uniqueness of it then, how much of it is a part of my story. I am beginning to now. Perhaps that is why I decided to teach this class. I have a good group of seven or eight students and I am excited to see where they are from and where this class will take us. I am also intrigued to find more memoirs and books where place plays a role. I recently found a few on Amazon that I am eager to read: Small Beneath the Sky by Lorna Corzier and No Place Like Home: A Memoir in 39 Apartments by Brooke Berman. One of my favorite descriptions of a place is not in a memoir but in Steinbeck’s Cannery Row. I’d love to hear any suggestions anyone else might have.
When I attended the workshop with Abigail Thomas she gave us a memoir prompt on place that I intend to use with my students the first day of class: Write 2 Pages on Where you Are From. I’d love to hear responses.