Sunday, January 27, 2013

You Can Count On Gracie

Last night at a gig with my bluegrass band "Too Blue" a friend questioned my lack of blog posts.
"I check back every now and then and you haven't been writing..."

I was touched by her interest in "Doing It With Grace"; there's a lot of stuff out there and it's nice to know that your work shined through every now and then.

"Grace" was conceived at a somewhat tumultuous time in my life. My father had been recently diagnosed with lung cancer, a little over two years after my mother's struggle and death from dementia. The Senior Tour, as I called it, involved about six years of running between New York and Pennsylvania to manage my parents' declining lives. My own existence was so centered around theirs, that, when it was all said and done, someone asked me, "So what are you going to do now?"

Very good question, grasshopper.

Well, for a while, I carried out my duties as the executrix of my father's estate. ( Ya gotta love that moniker-
I envision myself strutting into the Register of Wills all decked out in studs and leather. ) My brother and I worked through the details and successfully sold the family manse to a lovely young couple, who, we are told,  are a wonderful addition to our beloved neighborhood.

The focus of "Grace" then shifted from reminiscing to living, which involved a fair amount of hanging out with a certain golden retriever. Oh yeah, and my band recorded and released our second CD in 2011, "Trouble With the Grey". It's a terrific project we accomplished with the help of producer/recording engineer extraordinaire Bob Harris.  Shameless self promotion insists that I insert a link to our band website -

Now back to Grace.

I've been photographing this crazy dog for years now, the results of which have shown up in blogs or on greeting cards sent to friends. After hearing repeated chants of "You should do something with these", I decided to do something with them. A counting book. "You Can Count On Gracie". Now isn't that clever.

As it turns out, this relatively simple concept has taken well over a year to transform into a physical product.

I didn't use any of the photos I had previously taken of Grace; instead, I came up with eleven new scenarios to illustrate 1 through 10, adding and 11th shot to tie it up. Ms. G and I executed  the photos after I had scoured the internet and trolled through Michael's Arts and Crafts, gathering props ranging from fake carrots to a children's swim mask and flippers. Warning: just when you think your life can't get any weirder, you may find yourself in an art store wondering how you can transform your dog into a flower.

A year or so earlier, I had met graphic designer Paula Smith through Gracie's obedience school. Paula's daughter Amelia was conducting tests to measure dogs' intelligence for her school science project. If you're interested in knowing how my golden supermodel fared on her tests, you can read about it here-

While I generally don't delegate many creative tasks, I decided it would be best to assign layout and design to a professional. Paula took my photo pile and transformed it into my vision of "Simple elegant fun."  To say that I am proud of the result is an understatement.

Knowing that getting the attention of a publishing house or even an agent is next to impossible for someone of my obscure literary stature, I decided to go the self publishing route. I've created my own company, "Little Minute Publishing" and am presently working on the website where "You Can Count on Gracie" will live. The book will be available for sale on the website and on Amazon and I'll also be doing my best to get it into as many bookstores as possible. I will also be posting about the book and my marketing journey (readings, signings, etc.). "You Can Count on Gracie" went to print two weeks ago and I expect delivery in about a month. In the meantime, I've been schlepping the approved proof around and getting rave reviews. Everyone it seems, has a child in mind for whom they've pledged to buy the book. Even  "Big Kids" say they want a copy of it for themselves.

So, while I may not be posting on "Doing It With Grace" very regularly, I will be doing plenty with Gracie as we promote our collaboration. I had a wonderful time creating my beautiful book and I expect to have an even better time sharing it. Please join us on our journey- I'll be posting on a new blog called "Up to the Little Minute" once the website goes live and the book is available.


  1. I can't wait to see it Joan!! Hope you are well!

  2. Thanks, Kerry. I think you're going to love it. The proof looks great and even though I've been working on the photos for what seems like forever, I still laugh at my golden clown every time I open the book. She sure is a piece of work and one hell of a best friend; "You Can Count on Gracie" will always stand as a tribute to our life together.

  3. Hi Joan
    I am looking for your book. Throw me on some kind of list, and let me know when it can be purchased. Nice to see you last weekend
    Chrissy from Maine

    1. Hey Chrissy. The books should arrive in a week or so. I'm setting up a shopping cart and merchant account so I can accept credit cards. (Like a big girl!) If you go to my new site (right now you have to type in the url in the browser because Google hasn't found it yet) there's a contact page you can fill out and submit and I'll let you know when it's ready to ship. Last weekend was a hoot- still having festival withdrawal and trying to get myself back into "Grace"land. Thanks for reaching out!


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  5. So creative! I am a future education major and incorporating something kids love (dogs) and a key concept is always great!

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