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Pooches and Kiddies

Rejoice! My new book Pooches and Kiddies: the further adventures of Healing Weintraub is now all here. By that I mean the handsome paperback, the various e-book editions, and the audio edition narrated by yours truly are all available now.

Yes Pooches and Kiddies is the sequel to Good With Dogs and Cats: the adventures of Healing Weintraub, and also a fine stand-alone novel that begins four years after the conclusion of Good With Dogs and Cats and spans one momentous year in the life of Healing Weintraub and his family and friends: human, canine, and feline.

Introducing Raaz and Oz, Healing’s marvelous four-year-old twin grandchildren – Raaz a girl, Oz a boy – Pooches and Kiddies finds our hero helping dogs and cats solve their problems with humans while he and his loved ones navigate the mysteries and challenges of being alive.

Making the audio edition of Pooches and Kiddies with the help of Peter Temple was one of the most challenging and enjoyable creative adventures of my life – so many accents and timbres and personalities to assume – and I’m pleased with the result. You can hear a five-minute sample at Audible and Apple Books. Note: Should you be inclined to get the audio version but don’t wish to join Audible to do so, you can purchase the audio version from Apple Books for a reasonable one-time fee.

If perchance you imbibed earlier iterations of the stories contained in Pooches and Kiddies and Good With Dogs and Cats when they appeared on my blog, please know those story/chapters have been deeply rewritten and vastly improved. Many new parts have been added to the books, and I can say with confidence these are wholly new works.

Should you read either or both volumes of Healing Weintraub adventures and enjoy them, it would be a great favor to me and to the books if you would write brief reviews and post them on Goodreads or Amazon or Apple Books or wherever you like to purchase books. Word-of-mouth, friend-to-friend, is my entire sales strategy.

You may order the beautiful paperback (s) from any good bookstore or get copies from many online book sources. Here are links for the various manifestations of the book.

Thank You! Please share the joyful news with your friends.

Audio version Apple

Audio version Audible

Audio version Amazon

Paperback Barnes & Noble

Paperback Amazon

Paperback Bookshop

Paperback Alibris

E-book Apple

Kindle Amazon

Barnes & Noble Nook

GooglePlay E-book

Kobo E-Book

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Juno’s Genius

A seven-year-old dog of no obvious breed, Juno is medium-sized and slender with short brown fur and pointy ears. Her primary human is Cecilia who recently found a mate named Sunny, a male human Juno likes very much, though not as much as she likes Cecilia.

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The day promising to be quite warm, Juno is sitting on the deck of Cecilia’s house overlooking a meadow that stretches to the dark forest where Juno never ventures alone because she knows the forest is the domain of pumas and coyotes, pumas having killed her brother, coyotes having killed two of Cecilia’s cats.

Recalling Cecilia and Sunny saying the word beach several times during their breakfast, Juno noses open the kitchen door and trots into the house to see if the humans are preparing to go to Juno’s favorite place in the whole world.

She finds Sunny at the kitchen table wearing his glasses and scratching on paper with a pencil. He looks up from his scratching, takes off his glasses, and says something friendly to Juno, so she goes to him, tail wagging, and he caresses her and says more words redolent with love.

Now Juno hears Cecilia coming down the hallway from the room where people come and take off their shoes and lie on a high narrow bed, and Cecilia touches them and talks to them and they talk to her, and then they get up from the bed, put on their shoes, and go away.

Cecilia gives Sunny a kiss and fills a kettle with water. Now she sets the kettle on the stove and turns a dial that makes a clicking sound Juno knows will cause the kettle to growl and eventually whistle.

Cecilia and Sunny talk to each other, and Juno hears them say beach and low tide, words that cause her to spin around twice and give Cecilia a wide-eyed look of love.

“In a little while,” says Cecilia, scratching Juno’s head. “After we have our tea.”

Juno subsides. She knows that in a little while and after we have our tea mean a beach expedition is not imminent, so there’s no point in maintaining a state of expectant exuberance if they aren’t going to go for a long time.

*

Walking on the beach in the early afternoon, Cecilia and Sunny and Juno encounter a man walking in the opposite direction, a man Juno recognizes as Derek, Cecilia’s mate before she found Sunny.

Derek embraces Cecilia, though Juno can see Cecilia doesn’t like Derek touching her. When Derek releases Cecilia, she introduces him to Sunny. Derek and Sunny shake hands, more words are spoken, and finally Derek continues on his way.

*

When they reach the halfway point of their beach walk, Cecilia sits on a driftwood log and watches Sunny and Juno play ball.

Juno loves playing ball with Sunny because he makes the game so exciting. Sometimes he flings the ball into the water so Juno has to go swimming, sometimes he flings the ball so it rolls and bounces on the sand, and sometimes he flings the ball so high in the air Juno loses sight of it, and then the ball comes down somewhere wholly unexpected. What a thrill!

*

Driving home from the beach, Juno knows Cecilia is upset about meeting Derek on the beach – Derek who doesn’t like dogs.

Juno knew Derek didn’t like dogs the moment Cecilia brought him home. Even so, Cecilia let him live with them through several seasons, and Cecilia was sad most of the time, and they rarely went to the beach, and Juno didn’t understand why.

Then one rainy morning Derek made a big show of petting Juno and telling her what a good dog she was. This made Juno sick, and she vomited her breakfast.

The next day, Derek made another big show of petting and praising her, and Juno vomited again.

A few days later, Juno saw Derek coming toward her to make another big show of petting her, so she ran out the door and down the road to where her pal Molly lives with her people Bill and Sally.

When Cecilia and Derek came to get Juno, she wouldn’t go with them until Cecilia leashed her and dragged her to the car.

Juno waited a day and then ran away again. This time she ran three miles into town to be with her friends Pushkin and Natasha who live with their people Helen and Justin.

Helen called Cecilia on the phone. Juno could hear Cecilia’s voice coming out of the phone, and she thought Cecilia and Derek would come get her again, but they didn’t, so she lived with Pushkin and Natasha for many days and thought she would live with them forever.

Then one sunny morning, Cecilia came to visit; and when Juno saw how happy Cecilia was, she knew Derek was gone.

*

When Cecilia and Juno and Sunny get home from the beach, they stand on the deck together and Cecilia hoses their legs and feet to wash away the sand.

Now Cecilia kneels beside Juno and embraces her and whispers loving words to her, and Juno knows Cecilia is thanking her for running away so Cecilia would get rid of Derek and find Sunny, who really likes dogs.

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Speaking of dogs and people who like them, my new book Pooches and Kiddies: the further adventures of Healing Weintraub is now available as an actual book, with e-book editions and the audio edition coming soon. Pooches and Kiddies is both the sequel to Good With Dogs and Cats: the adventures of Healing Weintraub and a stand-alone novel chronicling a momentous year in the life of Healing Weintraub and his colorful family and friends: human, canine, and feline. Both books can be ordered from your favorite actual bookstores and purchased online from myriad booksellers including Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Bookshop, and Alibris.

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Stories In America

A reader recently wrote to say she enjoyed hearing about my beginnings as a writer. This got me musing, and as I mused I remembered that most people, including people in their seventies as I am, are unaware that before television took over the world in the 1950s, there were several hundred mainstream magazines and thousands of newspapers in America publishing short stories and poetry. Thousands!

Which is to say, before televisions were installed in every home, there was an enormous demand for short stories in our culture, with high-end magazines such as Collier’s Weekly and Harper’s Magazine paying very good money for short stories, with many movies made in those days based on short stories.

For instance, Frank Capra’s It’s A Wonderful Life is based on a story first published as a pamphlet in the 1940s by Philip Van Doren Stern and subsequently published in Reader’s Scope and Good Housekeeping before Capra bought the movie rights for 50,000 dollars. Yes, Good Housekeeping published short stories!

Then television conquered American society and culture, and within a decade the golden era of short stories was over. The time people used to spend reading short stories was now given to watching the tube. By the early 1970s, when I was in my twenties, there were only a few dozen magazines left that paid well for stories, mostly Men’s and Women’s magazines, and nearly all the stories they published were by established writers.

Nevertheless, in those days before the internet, before there were affordable ways to self-publish and distribute stories and books, thousands of aspiring writers bought The Writer’s Market every year, a volume listing all the magazines supposedly open to considering unsolicited (non-agented) stories and articles. This mighty tome, updated annually, was something of a fraud since most of the magazines listed therein would only consider stories sent to them by established literary agents, though many of the listings said otherwise.

I sent my stories to magazines large and small, collected rejection letters galore, and then in 1972, through a series of seeming coincidences and lucky breaks, a New York literary agent asked if she might represent me. Her name was Dorothy Pittman and she was among the very last literary agents in America who would gladly submit short stories to magazines for her known and unknown clients.

Even more remarkably, she was eager to represent what is now known as Literary Fiction, which has come to mean non-genre fiction. Sci-fi, Mystery, Young Adult, Fantasy, and Historical Romance are some of the most popular genres. By the 1970s non-genre fiction was becoming less and less saleable, and today Literary Fiction is a genre most publishers shudder to consider.

All the editors to whom Dorothy submitted my stories and books were middle-aged, extremely well read, and interested in unique writers, not copycats. None of them lasted long in the biz after the giant multi-national corporations completed their takeover of the publishing industry by the early 1980s.

In her first two years as my agent, Dorothy marketed my novella that had drawn her to represent me, two of my novels, and dozens of my short stories. She got several nibbles, but no takers.

One day Dorothy called the commune where I was living in Santa Cruz and said in her charming Georgia drawl, “Dahlin’, I’m getting so frustrated not selling anything of yours. I’ve got several editors who love your writing, but you’re not famous and your stories are a bit edgy, if you know what I mean.” She paused. “Have you sent me everything you’ve written?”

“Except for my stories in a folder labeled No Way,” I said despondently. “Otherwise, yes.”

“Send me those,” she said, and I did.

Fast-forward a year. By then I’d left Santa Cruz for Menlo Park where I worked as a janitor and teacher’s aide in a Day Care Center before moving to Eugene, Oregon where I was living in a converted garage with my girlfriend and desperately looking for a job. Out of the blue, Dorothy called from New York to say Cosmopolitan Magazine wanted to buy my short story Willow for a thousand dollars. Dorothy would take her 10% commission and I would get nine hundred dollars upon publication. For someone who just quit his job cleaning kiddy toilets for three-bucks-an-hour this was a mind-boggling sum.

I frowned. “Willow? The story about the black woman boxer who through a series of implausible flukes gets a chance to box against professional male boxers? Cosmopolitan? Really?”

A month later, down to my last few dollars, a check for nine hundred dollars came in the mail. My monthly nut was fifty dollars. I was rich! Over the next year I completed two novels, one of which was Inside Moves, my first published novel.

However, three years would pass before that miracle occurred. In the meantime, I worked as a landscaper in Medford, Oregon and did very little writing. Then Dorothy sold a story of mine entitled The Swami and the Surfer to Seventeen for five hundred dollars, and Seventeen commissioned me to write a Christmas story for seven hundred dollars.

While I worked on the Christmas story, I continued to labor as landscaper until I saved enough money to travel to New York to meet Dorothy in-person for the first time and meet the magazine editors who had taken a chance on my edgy stories.

I spent four months on the East Coast, thought about relocating there, ran out of money, returned to Oregon, and then moved to Seattle where I fell on very hard times until Doubleday bought Inside Moves for a pittance and Dorothy sold a few more stories for me. Then right before Inside Moves was to be published, New American Library acquired the paperback rights for a large sum, the movie deal was made, and I was lifted out of poverty for several years.

At the publication party for Inside Moves in New York, the editors from Cosmopolitan, Gallery, Seventeen, and Young Miss who had bought my stories were there to celebrate with me, as were editors from Redbook, Penthouse, and Esquire who had never bought a story from me. They came to let me to know they loved my stories and would have published them had I been better known.

Virtually every successful writer in America and England for the hundred years prior to 1970 published short stories in magazines en route to publishing a novel. In those bygone days, writing short stories was the training ground for becoming a professional writer. Striving to publish short stories was the gauntlet writers had to run if they wanted to one day enter the Promised Land of being a published author.

In 1980 I was on a radio show in Sacramento talking about the movie based on Inside Moves that was about to be released. The interviewer asked me how I got started as a writer and I mentioned publishing my first story in Cosmopolitan.

I think I must have sounded slightly embarrassed about my first commercial success coming via a Women’s magazine and not Esquire or The New Yorker, because a few minutes later an elderly woman called into the show and said, “I want you to know, Mr. Walton, you are in fine company having your first story published in Cosmopolitan.” Then she paused for effect. “For Ernest Hemmingway published his first short story in Cosmopolitan, too.”

I have never confirmed this, preferring to believe the delightful caller knew what she was talking about.

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My latest book Good With Dogs and Cats: the adventures of Healing Weintraub is now available in paperback, e-book, and audio book. If you enjoy Literary Fiction, you won’t want to miss Good With Dogs and Cats.

And if you like wonderful jazzy music, check out Todd and Marcia’s new CD Ahora Entras Tu along with our many previous albums on Apple, YouTube, Spotify, Pandora, Amazon, and countless other online music sites.

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Who Was I?

I was twenty-one when I wrote my first novel. I’d written several dozen short stories by then and a few really long stories, but I was full of trepidation about attempting to write a novel. I had never published anything, though not for lack of trying. I’d garnered hundreds of rejection letters from magazines large and small, and covered two walls of a bedroom with rejection notes from The New Yorker.

The year was 1971. After two years of vagabonding I rented a little room in a former hotel in Ashland, Oregon during a very cold winter. I was nearly out of money and beginning to think I should go back to college. I was writing songs, working at odd jobs, writing stories, and feeling unpleasantly stuck.

At that time there was only one little bookstore in Ashland. I’d go there every day to read books and get warm and gawk at the young woman who worked there. I was afraid to ask her out because I had no money to spare.

One day I happened upon a little paperback edition of Kurt Vonnegut’s novel Cat’s Cradle and read half the book standing in the bookstore. I bought the book, took it back to my room, finished reading it, and knew I was ready to write a novel. The chapters in Cat’s Cradle are only a page or so in length. There was nothing at all daunting to me about writing a book with very short chapters, so that is what I decided to do.

To make a long story short, within a few years I had turned into a compulsive novel writer. Over the next thirty years I wrote twenty novels. Some were published by big publishers, some I self-published, the others I threw away. When I wasn’t writing a novel, I felt out of sorts. Out of identity.

When I was fifty, my commercial writing career kaput, I decided to stop writing novels and find out who I was when not working on a novel. I wrote very little for the next three years, during which time I went through a massive identity crisis. I spent much more time on my music than I ever had before, patched together a minimalist living as a gardener, secretary, and editor-for-hire, and found life perfectly okay without working on a novel.

On my fifty-fourth birthday, I put pen to paper and began writing something that turned into a novel. Since then I have written many more novels and several hundred essays and stories, though I am no longer a compulsive writer.

I write when the spirit moves me, not when my intellect tells me I should.

fin

My new novel Good With Dogs and Cats is now orderable from all but a few bookstores on the planet and is widely available online as a paperback, audio book (Apple or Audible) or e-book.

Our new album of songs Ahora Entras Tu, piano and cello collaborations, is available from many online music sites. And Pooches and Kiddies, the sequel to Good With Dogs and Cats will soon be published!  

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Changed My Life

My uncle David Walton died eleven years ago at the age of eighty-six, at which time I posted a brief remembrance of him. Uncle David.

This remembrance elicited dozens of emails and phone calls from people who knew David or had spent time in David’s legendary Monterey coffee house the Sancho Panza, 1955 – 1967, before the place morphed into a Mexican restaurant.

To this day I get emails from people telling me what an enormous influence the Sancho Panza had on them in terms of how they subsequently lived their lives and related to other people.

What was it about that place and my Uncle David that had such an impact on so many people? The words that come to mind are: welcoming, accepting, encouraging, creative, diverse, exciting. Everyone felt welcome there – young and old, famous and unknown, hip and straight, all colors and creeds and identities – which made the place an emotional and spiritual Shangri-la.

*

Thinking about the Sancho Panza changing people’s lives, I remember seeing the movie Zorba the Greek in 1965 when I was a sophomore in high school. Clueless about who and what I might be in the world, that movie catalyzed my transformation into the person I wanted to be. I saw the movie two more times before it left the Guild Theatre in Menlo Park, got the novel Zorba the Greek, read it twice, and over the next five years read the complete works of Nikos Kazantzakis, some of the novels two and three times.

When I dropped out of college at nineteen, I was keenly aware that my decision to leave the confines of the straight and narrow was greatly influenced by my immersion in the works of Kazantzakis, and specifically the movie Zorba the Greek.

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Another movie that literally changed my life is The Horse’s Mouth, starring Alec Guinness (who also wrote the screenplay based on the novel). I first saw The Horse’s Mouth when I was a little boy (also at the Guild Theatre in Menlo Park) and subsequently saw the movie several more times at key moments throughout my life. The Horse’s Mouth is about an artist for whom making art is far more important than anything else, a story both tragic and beautiful in this regard.

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Come to think of it, the movies Zorba the Greek and The Horse’s Mouth did for me what Uncle David and the Sancho Panza did for so many people. They opened my mind and heart to the possibility of living a creative adventurous life imbued with knowing everyone is unique and worthy and valuable.

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Speaking of unique, readers have informed me they would like to hear the audio version of my new book Good With Dogs and Cats, but don’t wish to join Audible to hear my reading of the goodly tome. Good news! You can get the audio book from Apple Books for a one-time fee and don’t have to join anything.

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Making It

Today is a glorious day, sunny and cloudy and sunny. The storms that besieged us for the last few weeks are behind us, power restored after a few annoying outages. I had my teeth cleaned this morning by our cheerful hygienist and told my teeth were looking well. On my way home from the dentist, after a short walk on the headlands to revel in the sunlit beauty, I stopped at our tiny town library to get a book Marcia wanted, and to my enormous delight found my new book Good With Dogs and Cats: the adventures of Healing Weintraub on the New Books shelf.

I pointed at my book and gurgled, “That’s my book.”

The librarian replied, “We got a request for it, so we bought a copy.”

“Thank you so much,” I said, resisting my impulse to hug her. “I’m thrilled. By the way, the book is set in a mythical version of Mendocino.”

The librarian laughed. “Mendocino is a mythical version of Mendocino.”

“I changed the name of Mendocino to Mercy.”

The librarian rolled her eyes. “If only.”

Continuing homeward, I stopped at the tamale stand and got three scrumptious tamales for eleven dollars – such a deal! – and drove home thinking I made it. My book is in the Mendocino library. And I wasn’t kidding.

*

There was a time from 1978 to 2000 when several of my books were in libraries all over America, and I was glad, but not thrilled. Nor did I think I’d made it because those books were in libraries. Indeed, I felt strongly that I had not made it, despite the availability of those books to anyone lucky enough to stumble upon them.

For reasons far too complex (multi-generational, societal, delusional) to spend precious hours writing about, for most of my life I thought making it was to be world famous, to make boatloads of money, to have my books made into movies and my songs recorded by Bonnie Raitt and used as soundtracks for major motion pictures.

Then there came a time (coinciding with my turning 60 and the advent of social media platforms on the internet which I eschew) when no one in the movie business and no one in publishing would even take a peek at my creations. After several years of adjusting to my exile from the mainstream, I embarked on a path of self-publishing and producing my own albums of music with minimal success in terms of sales, but vast success in terms of enjoying the process and feeling I was giving my best to the world, such as I can.

Finding my book in the Mendocino Library today took me back to a moment in 1978 when I was twenty-eight and had just published my first novel Inside Moves. I was standing on a corner in San Francisco waiting for the light to change when I noticed the woman standing next to me reading a book, her eyes wide with delight as she read. Then the light turned green and the woman closed the book so I was able to see the cover. Inside Moves.

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Good With Dogs and Cats: The Adventures of Healing Weintraub just got two wonderful reviews on Amazon. Success!

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Dear Healing

As reported here not long ago, Todd has a new book out entitled Good With Dogs and Cats: The Adventures of Healing Weintraub. Paperback copies, e-book editions, and audio book versions are available from various purveyors of such.

Todd has had several positive responses to the book from readers he knows and readers he doesn’t know. He has yet to get many reviews posted on book sites by readers, but he is hopeful such reviews will eventually begin to manifest and help spread the word.

Today Todd got an email from his old friend Colin addressed to me, Healing Weintraub, asking for advice about his dog. Todd contacted me on Colin’s behalf and I dictated my reply to Todd to forward to Colin. Here is that correspondence for your reading pleasure.

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Dear Healing,

I was referred to you by my oldest and dearest friend, Todd Walton, who said you are the only one who can help me with a problem my wife, Karen, and I have been experiencing with our now 10 year-old mini Aussie, Lexi, and offered to forward this to you.

First of all let me state, unequivocally, that she is a wonderful and exceptionally bright member of our family. She is friendly with visitors and with other animals she encounters on her walks around the neighborhood, and on hikes with us and our friend’s dogs, but she barks uncontrollably whenever a dog or a horse, for some reason, appears on our television screen. I don’t know how much television you watch, as I know you have much better ways to spend your time, but dogs have become extremely popular supporting players on both shows and commercials over the past few years.

At first, it was very cute to observe our little Lexi watching a show along with us, and then barking and approaching the set whenever she spotted a dog. But it’s getting old and, being old ourselves, her inopportune barking often causes us to miss essential plot elements. Any help or advice you can offer would be greatly appreciated.

I am including a recent photo, with the hope it might help you find a solution to our problem.

Thank you, in advance, for taking your most valuable time to help us. Please give our best to Jahera, Tova, and all of your animals.

Sincerely,

Colin

*

Dear Colin,

Todd read your letter to me over the phone. I don’t have email. I dictated my response to him to send to you. Here it is.

So your brilliant dog thinks the animals on television are things to respond to. How wonderful. The most drastic solution, which I don’t recommend, is electro-shock with a small cattle prod every time she behaves this way. This would render her an emotional wreck for the rest of her life. Another possibility, also not recommended, would be vision-altering glasses for her to wear when she’s watching the telly with you. However, she might throw up during, and be seriously disoriented for hours after.

The simplest solution is to stop watching television. Assuming you don’t want to do this, I think the best thing to do would be to sequester her in another room when you know the programs you’re going to watch have horses and/or dogs in them. In the event a dog or horse appears unexpectedly in a program you’re watching with her, cover your ears when she starts barking and sing There’s No Business Like Show Business with great gusto.

I hope this helps. By the way, Todd is nearing completion of the sequel to the first volume of my memoirs, and it’s a doozy. Thanks so much for writing. I will give your regards to the other members of the collective.

Sending best wishes to you and Karen and Lexi,

Healing Weintraub, advocate for the four-legged

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Here are hot links to help you secure copies and/or write five-star reviews of Good With Dogs and Cats.

Goodreads

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

Audible

Apple Books

Bookshop

Alibris