My Gentle Barn: Starred Review from Booklist

If you haven’t had a chance yet to read My Gentle Barn, you may want to pick up a copy. It’s a story to get wrapped up in, one of those tales where you leave your comfy living room sofa and find yourself in another person’s life . . . And Ellie’s a pretty awesome person to hang out with!

Here’s what Booklist had to say about My Gentle Barn (starred review):

The saga of Laks and her animal sanctuary is enormously compelling. She grew up loving animals in a family that could not understand her empathy for “disposable pets.” Struggling to find her way, she fought drug addiction and then successfully started a dog-rescue operation in her spare bedroom. Determined to change the world, Laks rescued animals from a dilapidated petting zoo and then expanded to accept pigs, horses, and more on a multiacre ranch outside Los Angeles. With brutal honesty, she acknowledges the missteps in her first marriage that became a casualty to her rescue efforts, but then she recounts the happiness she found with a volunteer who became her soul mate. The two found enormous personal and professional success as they reached out to at-risk youth and became leading voices in the movement to extend rescue efforts to farm animals. Laks brings so much raw emotion to her narrative that readers will find themselves moved to tears over the lives of goats and cows. Intimate, powerful, and shocking in its revelations about the food we eat, My Gentle Barn is not easily forgotten. This is a book to talk about and return to; it’s a life changer, plain and simple. –Colleen Mondor

You can buy it by clicking on one of the retailer buttons on this page.

My Gentle Barn: Another Book Signing Saturday

Ellie Laks and Nomi Isak. Photo by Leslie Miranda.
Ellie Laks and Nomi Isak. Photo by Leslie Miranda: lesliemiranda.com.

If you missed the book signings last weekend, there’s another one on the calendar for this Saturday. Come treat yourself to a glimpse of My Gentle Barn, as shared by Ellie Laks (who is an absolute delight).

Saturday, April 5, 2014, at 1  pm at the Barnes & Noble in Valencia

My Gentle Barn weaves together Ellie’s own journey with the story of how The Gentle Barn came to be what it is today. Filled with heartwarming animal stories and inspiring recoveries, My Gentle Barn is an uplifting account that will delight animal lovers and memoir readers alike.

Or buy the book here.

Nomi Isak is the collaborative writer on Ellie Laks’s memoir, My Gentle Barn.

 

 

Ellie Laks will sign My Gentle Barn

Gentle Barn Cover-full sizeIf you’d like to meet Ellie and have her sign your copy of My Gentle Barn, she will be signing books at the following times and places in the L.A. area. I plan to be there too (at all but perhaps Valencia).

Saturday, March 29, 2014, at 1 pm — Barnes & Noble in Burbank

Sunday, March 30, 2014, 10am to 2pm  at the Gentle Barn!  — Barnes & Noble will be there selling books (Not only a chance to buy a signed book, but you can meet the animals!)  [Map to The Gentle Barn]

Saturday, April 5, 2014, at 1  pm at the Barnes & Noble in Valencia

Read more here for March 29 and April 5 signings:  Ellie at Barnes & Noble

You can also buy the book here.

Nomi Isak is the collaborative writer on My Gentle Barn

 

My Gentle Barn on Sale March 25

Gentle Barn Cover-full size

Very excited to be approaching the on-sale date for the book I collaborated on: Ellie Laks’s memoir, My Gentle Barn.

It comes out officially on March 25, but it’s available for preorder at the usual retail sites. You’ll find links HERE (you’ll have to scroll down a bit).

If you’d like to read advanced reviews, check out Good Reads.

“My Gentle Barn is a wonderful book. You’ll love Ellie Laks and the animals she rescued–and who rescued her back.” –Sy Montgomery, author of The Good Good Pig

My Gentle Barn: Writing about Animals

Some of you know that I was writing a book with Ellie Laks (her memoir about starting The Gentle Barn in Santa Clarita).  It was an amazing, deeply fulfilling project for both of us. Her stories never stopped touching my heart and soul, and I also never stopped laughing (pretty great way to spend a year).

Well, the fruits of that labor are just about ripe. The book, My Gentle Barn: Creating a Sanctuary Where Animals Heal and Children Learn to Hope, is due out March 25, 2014.

If you like, you can even preorder it now through The Gentle Barn website. Or you can go straight to Amazon. Hope you enjoy it as much as we enjoyed creating it!

How to Write Your First Book

Check out this great interview with twenty-one successful authors about the experience of writing their first book—from how they made a living before they sold their first book to the nuts and bolts of getting the words onto the page.

How to Write Your First Book

Writing and Failure

Last month, I wrote a blog post on the writer and rejection (If You Get Rejected, Should You Quit Writing?).

Here are some further thoughts on rejection by several oft-published writers, including the likes of Margaret Atwood: Falling Short: Seven Writers Reflect on Failure.

Drawing Inspiration from Nature

My second office

For as long as I can remember I have craved deep greens and muddy browns. I’ve often escaped to natural environments to write, or to read over my writing. I am soothed by trees, bolstered by the earth, and draw inspiration from breathing clean, fresh, mulchy air.

I have favorite spots I escape to, places where the phone won’t ring (sometimes there’s not even cell reception) and where piles of papers won’t grab at my attention.

I once fled to Palomar Mountain in San Diego County, pitched my tent, and promised myself I wouldn’t leave until I’d gotten the upper hand on the chapter I was struggling with. (I stayed a week, but I descended the mountain triumphant, the completed chapter tucked under my arm.) Yes . . . I wrote longhand for a week in that campground void of electricity.

Now I sometimes escape to nature to take a break from writing. But, still, it raises the water table of my creative juices, keeps the well from running dry.

I’ve come to call these spots my “Second Office.” They’re free of rent, and they free my mind.

(Also check out these earlier posts: Go on a Writing Retreat to Kick Your Writing into High Gear and Recipe for a Non-Writing Retreat.)

I invite you to share some stories or images of your own writing (or creative-well replenishing) escapes.

My other second office

If You Get Rejected, Should You Quit Writing?

How many times should you send out a manuscript—and get rejected—before you put that one on the shelf?  And if you deem one manuscript a failure, should you push forward to write another?

There is no pat response because no one can answer these questions but you.

The more accurate questions, perhaps, are these:

  • How many times can you withstand rejection without losing the faith to carry on?
  • How burning is your passion to write and share it with the world?
  • How open are you to getting qualified feedback on your manuscript?
  • How many times are you willing to rewrite until you get it right?

I wish I had those wonderful stats and stories to pull from a hat: X sent out Y manuscript Z number of times before it finally was accepted and published. I know those stories, but I just can’t remember the names of the writers they’re about. You know the ones: some fifty rejections before going on to finally be accepted and become a bestselling classic. (If you know any of those stories please share some with us!)

Succeeding as a writer does not necessarily mean succeeding easily and gracefully. Not everyone gets to sail effortlessly across the finish line. Some will limp across that frontier (from unpublished to published and paid) with plenty of bruises and scrapes from a harrowing journey.

But those who persevere have a chance of getting there.  And those who are willing to rewrite—as many times as it takes—have an even better chance.