Piglet: The Unexpected Story of a Deaf Blind Pink Puppy and His Family

          Melissa Shapiro could have said no when asked to foster a deaf, blind, and traumatized puppy. After all, Shapiro, a veterinarian with a busy practice already had six rescue dogs, a husband and three college-aged children in her home. She certainly didn’t have the time, energy, or room to take on a highly anxious  puppy who weighed less than two pound and whose pink color has earned him the name of Piglet.

         But Shapiro said yes to the dog. And though it initially wasn’t easy she and her family didn’t give up. She recounts Piglet’s transformation from a fearful and reclusive animal into a happy, confident pooch with his own Facebook page and Instagram account in her just released book, Piglet: The Unexpected Story of a Deaf Blind Pink Puppy and His Family.

         “I am a very routine oriented person,” says Shapiro who lives in Connecticut. “My other dogs happily integrate into my daily schedule which makes having so many relatively easy. When Piglet arrived, he literally turned things upside down. He had no idea where he was or what to expect, so he screamed and carried on for hours a day.”

         And so to help Piglet adapt, Shapiro adapted as well, changing her schedule to accommodate Piglet’s needs. It was tough at first and the family, though dedicated to doing what was best for Piglet, worried just how much attention and accommodation he would continue to need as he got older. But like the Beatle song, “All You Need is Love,” the Shapiros  found that Piglet quickly responded  to lots of hugs, a predictable daily schedule, and their friendly pack of rescued canines.

         “The other dogs were very accommodating to Piglet,” says Shapiro. “They learned to play with him  gently, and they brought him into their playtime, being careful to include him when he lost track of where they were.”

         In three months, his screams had subsided as he became more and more comfortable with his new life. Videos on Piglet’s You Tube Channel happily playing with dogs at least twice his size. And his endearing, sweet personality has made Piglet a rock star with a large social media reach including 256,000 Instagram and 181,000 Facebook followers.

         “My initial idea when adopting Piglet was to raise awareness for rescued dogs and specifically disabled dogs and other animals,” says Shapiro. “Piglet’s Facebook page and then Instagram account were effective platforms for increasing exposure and fundraising for rescue organizations. Our Piglet Mindset™ educational program began early on so we had a dual purpose for our social media accounts. As the educational outreach grew and expanded, followers were eager to support our work with donations. Creating our nonprofit organization, Piglet International Inc., was the next step in growing Piglet Mindset and continuing to educate and advocate for dogs with disabilities.”

         Like many stars, Piglet loves having an audience and laps up being the center of attention. Because he needs all that plus almost constant physical affection, the family takes him almost everywhere they go.

Though that can be somewhat limiting, Shapiro says she doesn’t mind.

“He is a happy little dog,” she says. “He brings joy to everything he does, and he has a way of making sure we all join him and pause for a smile. Piglet has turned out to be a sweet, happy, and inspiring little dog for people all around the world. I have absolutely no regrets. It’s a lot of fun to be his mom.”

To learn more about Piglet, Piglet Mindset™ educational outreach, visit PigletMindset.org. Follow Piglet on Facebook at Piglet, the deaf blind pink puppy, and Instagram- @pinkpigletpuppy

Piglet Virtual Events

What: Join Piglet and Melissa Shapiro at upcoming Zoom events. The events are free. To register, visit www.pigletthedog.com and go to the events page.

Good Neighbors

There goes the neighborhood.

Set in a town on Long Island not unlike the one where she grew up. Sarah Langan’s  Good Neighbors, an Amazon Best of February Pick, is formatted like a sociological study exploring a crime that happened in the past.

“My roots are in horror and I thought about making this a slasher book,” says Langan, who projects normalcy despite having written award winning horror novels.  “But that seemed too simplistic for a book about our culture and themes like mob mentality.”

Photo credit David Zaugh.

But the foreboding of horror books is prevalent here as we watch the neighbors on Maple Street turn on the Wildes, the newest family on the block.

It all begins with the falling out between two moms—beautiful, compliant and overwhelmed Gertie Wilde, an abused child grown into a beauty queen who is married to a once-almost famous rock and roller named Arlo. Their two kids have issues too. Julia’s vocabulary is profane but even more oddly, their son seems to believe he’s a robot. That’s quite a contrast with Rhea, an ultra-successful academic who seems to have the perfect everything—job, husband, and family that seems typical of all the families in the neighborhood.

The Wildes want to fit in but if there’s an unwritten rule book about how to act and what to say, they don’t have a copy and their differences set them apart from everyone else. But beyond that, climate change is wreaking havoc adding its own sinister atmosphere to Maple Street when a huge toxic sinkhole opens up in the neighborhood’s  green space. But this is no ordinary gap in the ground.  Instead it’s an ever growing  malevolent force taking over the neighborhood. Evil, it first sucks up a family dog and then Rhea’s daughter who gets too close.

“Most horror writers are gentle people who are outraged at how people are treated and what is going on in the world,” says Langan.

For Langan, that outrage in Good Neighbors focuses on climate change and the toxicity of neighborhoods that occurs when people treat those who are different unkindly.

THE 17TH ANNUAL BEST BOOK AWARDS ANNOUNCE 2020 AWARD RECIPIENTS

American Book Fest has announced the winners and finalists of The 2020 Best Book Awards.
Awards were presented for titles published in 2018-2020.

Jeffrey Keen, President and CEO of American Book Fest said this year’s contest yielded over 2,000 entries from mainstream and independent publishers. These were then narrowed down to over 400 winners and finalists in 90 categories.

“The 2020 results represent a phenomenal mix of books from a wide array of publishers throughout the United States,” says Keen about the awards, now in their 18th year.
Winners and finalists traversed the publishing landscape: HarperCollins, Penguin/Random House, John Wiley and Sons, Routledge/Taylor and Francis, Forge, Hay House, Sounds True, Llewellyn Worldwide, NYU Press, Oxford University Press, John Hopkins University Press, The White House Historical Association and hundreds of Independent Houses contribute to this year’s outstanding competition.

“Our success begins with the enthusiastic participation of authors and publishers and continues with our distinguished panel of industry judges who bring to the table their extensive editorial, PR, marketing, and design expertise,” says Keen.

American Book Fest is an online publication providing coverage for books from mainstream and independent publishers to the world online community.

American Book Fest has an active social media presence with over 135,000 current Facebook fans.


Highlights Include the Following Winning Titles:
(Full Results are Available Here.)

Click on category headings to be taken directly to full book descriptions! Winners and Finalists are featured at the top of each page.

Animals/Pets: General

The Balanced Pet Sitter: What You Wish you Knew Before Starting Your Pet Care Business by Renée Stilson
Equilibre Press, LLC

Animals/Pets: Narrative Non-Fiction
The Chimpanzee Chronicles: Stories of Heartbreak and Hope from Behind the Bars by Debra Rosenman
Wild Soul Press

Anthologies: Non-Fiction
This Moment Bold Voices from WriteGirl by Keren Taylor
WriteGirl PublicationsArt

C. Curry Bohm: Brown County and Beyond edited by Daniel Kraft & Jim Ross
Indiana University Press

Autobiography/Memoir
Through My Eyes: CSI Memoirs That Haunt the Soul by Tamara Mickelson
Self-Published

Best Cover Design: Fiction
The Last Lumenian by S.G. Blaise
The Last Lumenian

Best Cover Design: Non-Fiction
When God Says NO – Revealing the YES When Adversity and Pain Are Present by Judith Briles
Mile High Press

Best Interior Design
Beautiful Living: Cooking the Cal-a-Vie Health Spa Way by Terri Havens
Cal-a-Vie Health Spa

Best New Fiction
In An Instant by Suzanne Redfearn
Lake Union

Best New Non-Fiction
The Book of Help: A Memoir of Remedies by Megan Griswold
Rodale Books/Penguin Random House

Biography
T.R.M. Howard: Doctor, Entrepreneur, Civil Rights Pioneer by David T. Beito and Linda Royster Beito
Independent Institute

Business: Careers
TIP: A Simple Strategy to Inspire High Performance and Lasting Success by Dave Gordon
John Wiley and Sons

Business: Communications/Public Relations
The Apology Impulse: How the Business World Ruined Sorry and Why We Can’t Stop Saying It by Cary Cooper & Sean O’Meara
Kogan Page

Business: Entrepreneurship & Small Business
Burdens of a Dream: 33 Actionable Nuggets of Wisdom for the Creative Entrepreneur by Craig M. Chavis Jr.
Author Academy Elite

Business: General
The Simplicity Principle: Six Steps Towards Clarity in a Complex World by Julia Hobsbawm
Kogan Page

Business: Management & Leadership
The Future Leader: 9 Skills and Mindsets to Succeed in the Next Decade by Jacob Morgan
Wiley

Business: Marketing & Advertising
The End of Marketing: Humanizing Your Brand in the Age of Social Media and AI by Carlos Gil
Kogan Page

Business: Motivational
Unlock!: 7 Steps to Transform Your Career and Realize Your Leadership Potential by Abhijeet Khadikar
Vicara Books

Business: Personal Finance/Investing
Enhancing Retirement Success Rates in the United States: Leveraging Reverse Mortgages, Delaying Social Security, and Exploring Continuous Work by Chia-Li Chien, PhD, CFP®, PMP®
Palgrave Pivot

Business: Real Estate
Market Forces: Strategic Trends Impacting Senior Living Providers by Jill J. Johnson
Johnson Consulting Services

Business: Reference
The Non-Obvious Guide to Virtual Meetings and Remote Work (Non-Obvious Guides) by Rohit Bhargava
IdeaPress Publishing

Business: Sales
The Visual Sale: How to Use Video to Explode Sales, Drive Marketing, and Grow Your Business in a Virtual World by Marcus Sheridan
IdeaPress Publishing

Business: Technology
Amazon Management System: The Ultimate Digital Business Engine That Creates Extraordinary Value for Both Customers and Shareholders by Ram Charan and Julia Yang
IdeaPress Publishing

Business: Writing/Publishing
Great Stories Don’t Write Themselves: Criteria-Driven Strategies for More Effective Fiction by Larry Brooks
Writer’s Digest Books (a division of Penguin Random House)

Children’s Educational
Galileo! Galileo! by Holly Trechter and Jane Donovan
Sky Candle Press

Children’s Fiction
Nutmeg Street: Egyptian Secrets by Sherrill Joseph
Acorn Publishing

Children’s Mind/Body/Spirit
The Tooth Fairy’s Tummy Ache by Lori Orlinsky
Mascot Books

Children’s Non-Fiction
President’s Play! illustrated by John Hutton, text by Jonathan Pliska
The White House Historical Association

Children’s Novelty & Gift Book
Bubble Kisses by Vanessa Williams, illustrated by Tara Nicole Whitaker
Sterling Publishing

Children’s Picture Book: Hardcover Fiction
Bubble Kisses by Vanessa Williams, illustrated by Tara Nicole Whitaker
Sterling Publishing

Children’s Picture Book: Hardcover Non-Fiction
A-B-Skis: An Alphabet Book About the Magical World of Skiing by Libby Ludlow, illustrated by Nathan Y. Jarvis
Libby Ludlow

LLCChildren’s Picture Book: Softcover Fiction
Frankie the Ferret by Kimberley Paterson
FriesenPress

Children’s Picture Book: Softcover Non-Fiction
Fridays With Ms. Mélange: Haiti by Jenny Delacruz
Cobbs Creek Publishing

Children’s Religious
That Grand Christmas Day! by Jill Roman Lord, illustrated by Alessia Trunfio
Worthy Kids

College Guides
Diversity At College: Real Stories of Students Conquering Bias and Making Higher Education More Inclusive by James Stellar, Chrisel Martinez, Branden Eggan, Chloe Skye Weiser, Benny Poy, Rachel Eagar, Marc Cohen, and Agata Buras
IdeaPress Publishing

Cookbooks: General
Recipes from the President’s Ranch: Food People Like to Eat by Matthew Wendel
The White House Historical Association

Cookbooks: International
Cooking with Marika: Clean Cuisine from an Estonian Farm by Marika Blossfeldt
Delicious Nutrition

Cookbooks: Regional
The Perfect Persimmon: History, Recipes, and More by Michelle Medlock Adams
Red Lightning

BooksCurrent Events
In All Fairness: Equality, Liberty, and the Quest for Human Dignity, edited by Robert M. Whaples, Michael C. Munger and Christopher J. Coyne
Independent Institute

Education/Academic
The EQ Intervention: Shaping a Self-Aware Generation Through Social and Emotional Learning by Adam L. Saenz, PhD
Greenleaf Book Group

Fiction: African-American
Once in a Blood Moon by Dorothea Hubble Bonneau
Acorn Publishing

Fiction: Anthologies
Terror at 5280′ edited by Josh Schlossberg
Denver Horror Collective

Fiction: Cross-Genre
Mourning Dove by Claire Fullerton
Firefly Southern Fiction

Fiction: Fantasy
The Hollow Gods (The Chaos Cycle Series, #1) by A.J. Vrana
The Parliament House Press

Fiction: General
Bread Bags & Bullies: Surviving the ’80’s by Steven Manchester
Luna Bella Press

Fiction: Historical
The Takeaway Men by Meryl Ain
SparkPress

Fiction: Horror
The Vanishing by Arjay Lewis
Mindbender Press

Fiction: Inspirational
The Menu by Steven Manchester
Luna Bella Press

Fiction: LGBTQ
Even Weirder Than Before by Susie Taylor
Breakwater Books

Fiction: Literary
How Fires End by Marco Rafalà
Little A

Fiction: Multicultural
Subduction by Kristen Millares Young
Red Hen Press

Fiction: Mystery/Suspense
Strong From The Heart by Jon Land
Forge

Fiction: New Age
Catalyst by Tracy Richardson
Brown Books Publishing

Fiction: Novelette
When Angels Paint: A Milford-Haven Holiday Novelette by Mara Purl
Bellekeep Books

Fiction: Novella
When the Heart Listens: A Milford-Haven Novella by Mara Purl
Bellekeep Books

Fiction: Religious
The Longest Day by Terry Toler
BeHoldings Publishing

Fiction: Romance
What the Heart Wants by Audrey Carlan
HQN

Fiction: Science Fiction
Killing Adam by Earik Beann
Profoundly One Publishing

Fiction: Short Story
Oranges by Gary Eldon Peter
New Rivers Press

Fiction: Thriller/Adventure
The President’s Dossier by James A. Scott
Oceanview Publishing

Fiction: Visionary
Journey of a JuBu by Blaine Langberg
Critical Eye

Fiction: Western
Moccasin Track by Reid Lance Rosenthal
Rockin’ SR Publishing

Fiction: Women’s Fiction
Appearances by Sondra Helene
She Writes Press

Fiction: Young Adult
The Return of the Dragon Queen by Farah Oomerbhoy
Wise Ink Creative Publishing

Health: Addiction & Recovery
Stepping Stones: A Memoir of Addiction, Loss, and Transformation by Marilea C. Rabasa
She Writes Press

Health: Aging/50+
EIGHTSOMETHINGS: A Practical Guide to Letting Go, Aging Well, and Finding Unexpected Happiness by Katharine Esty, PhD
Skyhorse Publishing

Health: Alternative Medicine
Have a Peak at This: Synergize Your Body’s Clock Towards a Highly Productive You by Said Hasyim
Self-Published

Health: Cancer
All Of Us Warriors: Cancer Stories of Survival and Loss by Rebecca Whitehead Munn
She Writes
Press

Health: Death & Dying
Aftermath: Picking Up the Pieces After a Suicide by Gary Roe
Healing Resources Publishing

Health: Diet & Exercise
Whole Person Integrative Eating: A Breakthrough Dietary Lifestyle to Treat Root Causes of Overeating, Overweight and Obesity by Deborah Kesten, MPH and Larry Scherwitz, PhD
White River Press

Health: General
True Wellness for Your Gut: Combine the best of Western and Eastern medicine for optimal digestive and metabolic health by Catherine Kurosu, MD, L.Ac. and Aihan Kuhn, CMD, OBT
YMAA Publication Center

Health: Medical Reference
The Ultimate College Student Health Handbook: Your Guide for Everything from Hangovers to Homesickness by Jill Grimes, MD
Skyhorse Publishing

Health: Psychology/Mental Health
The Big Bliss Blueprint: 100 Little Thoughts to Build Positive Life Changes by Shell Phelps
Positive Streak Publishing,

LLCHealth: Women’s Health
The Book of Help: A Memoir of Remedies by Megan Griswold
Rodale Books/Penguin Random House

History: General
Gun Control in Nazi-Occupied France: Tyranny and Resistance by Stephen P. Halbrook
Independent Institute

History: Military
40 Thieves on Saipan The Elite Marine Scout-Snipers in One of WWII’s Bloodiest Battles by Joseph Tachovsky with Cynthia Kraack
Regnery History

History: United States
Liberty in Peril: Democracy and Power in American History by Randall G. Holcombe
Independent Institute

Home & Garden
My Creative Space: How to Design Your Home to Stimulate Ideas and Spark Innovation by Donald M. Rattner
Skyhorse Publishing

Humor
Struggle Bus: The Van. The Myth. The Legend. by Josh Wood
Lucid Books

Law
Banned: Immigration Enforcement in the Time of Trump by Shoba Sivaprasad Wadhia
NYU Press

LGBTQ: Non-Fiction
Our Gay History in 50 States by Zaylore Stout
Wise Ink Creative Publishing

Multicultural Non-Fiction
Overcoming Ordinary Obstacles: Boldly Claiming the Facets of an Extraordinary Life by Nesha Pai
SPARK

PublicationsNarrative: Non-Fiction
Sola: One Woman’s Journey Alone Across South America by Amy Field
WanderWomyn Publishing

New Age: Non-Fiction
Embodying Soul: A Return to Wholeness by Keri Mangis
Curiosa Publishing, LLC

Novelty & Gift Book
The Official White House Christmas Ornament: Collected Stories of a Holiday Tradition by Marcia Anderson and Kristen Hunter Mason
The White House Historical Association

Parenting & Family
Why Will No One Play with Me? The Play Better Plan to Help Children of All Ages Make Friends and Thrive by Caroline Maguire, PCC, M.Ed. with Teresa Barker
Grand Central

PublishingPerforming Arts: Film, Theater, Dance, Music
THAT GUY: a stage play by Peter Anthony Fields
Amazon

Photography
Beautiful Living: Cooking the Cal-a-Vie Health Spa Way by Terri Havens
Cal-a-Vie Health Spa

Poetry
Five Oceans in a Teaspoon, poems by Dennis J. Bernstein, visuals by Warren Lehrer
Paper Crown Press

Religion: Christian Inspirational
Extraordinary Hospitality for Ordinary Christians: A Radical Approach to Preparing Your Heart & Home for Gospel-Centered Community by Victoria Duerstock
Good Books

Religion: Christianity
Come Fill This Place: A Journey of Prayer by Stacy Dietz
KP Publishing Company

Religion: Eastern
Secrets of Divine Love: A Spiritual Journey into the Heart of Islam by A. Helwa
Naulit Publishing House

Religion: General
Esoterism as Principle and as Way: A New Translation with Selected Letters by Frithjof Schuon
World Wisdom

Science
Bliss Brain: The Neuroscience of Rewiring Your Brain for Resilience, Creativity and Joy by Dawson Church
Hay House

Self-Help: General
Start Finishing: How to Go from Idea to Done by Charlie Gilkey
Sounds True

Self-Help: Motivational
Edge: Turning Adversity into Advantage by Laura Huang
Portfolio

Self-Help: Relationships
The Remarriage Manual: How to Make Everything Work Better the Second Time Around by Terry Gaspard
Sounds True

Social Change
I Am Not Your Enemy: Stories to Transform a Divided World by Michael T. McRay
Herald Press

Spirituality: General
The Universe Is Talking to You: Tap Into Signs and Synchronicity to Reveal Magical Moments Every Day by Tammy Mastroberte
Llewellyn Worldwide

Spirituality: Inspirational
Spark Change: 108 Provocative Questions for Spiritual Evolution by Jennie Lee
Sounds

TrueSports
The Martial Arts of Vietnam: An Overview of History and Styles by Augustus John Roe
YMAA Publication Center

Travel: Guides & Essays
Exploring Wine Regions — Bordeaux France: Discover Wine, Food, Castles, and The French Way of Life by Michael C. Higgins, PhD
International Exploration Society

True Crime: Non-Fiction
Beast of New Castle by Larry Sells & Margie Porter
WildBlue Press

Women’s Issues
Muslim Women Are Everything: Stereotype-Shattering Stories of Courage, Inspiration, and Adventure by Seema Yasmin, illustrated by Fahmida Azim
Harper Design, an Imprint of HarperCollins Publishers

Young Adult: Non-Fiction
My Life, My Way: How To Make Exceptional Decisions About College, Career, and Life by Elyse Hudacsko
Self-Published

President Obama’s Annual List of Favorites

“As 2020 comes to a close, I wanted to share my annual lists of favorites,” Barack Obama, the 42nd President of the United States, tweeted to his 127.5 million followers. “I’ll start by sharing my favorite books this year, deliberately omitting what I think is a pretty good book – A Promised Land – by a certain 44th president. I hope you enjoy reading these as much as I did.”

Somehow, the President forgot to include adding one of my books to his list again. Well, there’s always next year.

Jack by Marilynne Robinson

Caste by Isabel Wilkerson

Luster by Raven Leilani

Sharks in the time of Saviors by Kawai Strong Washburn
Twilight of Democracy by Anne Applebaum

Homeland Elegies by Ayad Akhtar
The Undocumented Americans by Karla Cornejo Villavicencio
Long Bright River by Liz Moore
Memorial Drive Natasha Trethewey
Deacon King Kong by James McBride
Missionaries by Phil Klay
The Vanishing Half by Britt Bennett
The Ministry for the Future by Kim Stanley Robinson
The Glass House by Emily St. John Mandel

Comedian Michael Ian Black “A Better Man”

In a world in which the word masculinity now often goes hand in hand with toxic, comedian, actor, and father Michael Ian Black offers up a way forward for boys, men, and anyone who loves them.

Michael Ian Black

A Buzzfeed Most Anticipated Book of 2020, Michael Ian Black‘s new book, A Better Man: A (Mostly Serious) Letter to my Son (Algonquin Books) is a poignant look at boyhood, in the form of a heartfelt letter from the comedian to his teenage son as he is leaving for college. But more than that, it is also a far-reaching and radical plea for rethinking masculinity and teaching today’s young men how to give and receive love.

In a world in which the word masculinity now often goes hand in hand with toxic, comedian, actor, and father Black offers up a way forward for boys, men, and anyone who loves them. Part memoir, part advice book, and written as a heartfelt letter to his college-bound son, A Better Man reveals Black’s own complicated relationship with his father, explores the damage and rising violence caused by the expectations placed on boys to “man up,” and searches for the best way to help young men be part of the solution, not the problem. “If we cannot allow ourselves vulnerability,” he writes, “how are we supposed to experience wonder, fear, tenderness?”

Honest, funny, and hopeful, Black skillfully navigates the complex gender issues of our time and gives a touching answer to an extremely important question: How can we be, and raise, better men?

Black, an actor, comedian, and writer, started his career with the sketch comedy show The State, on MTV, and has now created and starred in many other television shows. Movie appearances include Wet Hot American Summer, The Baxter, and Sextuplets.

He is also the author of several children’s books including the award-winning I’m Bored, I’m Sad, and I’m Worried, and the parody A Child’s First Book of Trump. His books for adults include the memoirs You’re Not Doing It Right and Navel Gazing, and the essay collection My Custom Van. Black also co-authored with Meghan McCain America, You Sexy Bitch.

As a stand-up comedian, Michael regularly tours the country, and he has released several comedy albums. His podcasts include Mike & Tom Eat Snacks, with Tom Cavanagh; Topics, with Michael Showalter; How to Be Amazing; and Obscure.

Married, he lives in Connecticut with his wife and two children.

Old School Love and Why It Works

“We’ve had hard times, but we have resilience and we always knew we wanted to be together,” says Rev Run, front man of Run-DMC about how he and his wife make their marriage work.

              A Hip Hop artist, even one who whose group has sold millions of records globally and was recently inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, isn’t the person we typically turn to when needing relationship advice.

              That is, until, you pick up a copy of Old School Love and Why It Works (Dey St. 2020; $26.99) by Joseph “Rev Run” Simmons and his wife, Justine Simmons, long admired by friends for the longevity of their 30 year marriage.  

              “We’ve had hard times, but we have resilience and we always knew we wanted to be together,” says Rev, front man of Run-DMC.

              “Now people come up to us, people who see us on TV or follow us on Instagram,” says Justine about their reality shows—Run’s House, All About the Washingtons and Rev Run’s Sunday Suppers. “They ask us for advice or say we should write a book about how we make our marriage work.”

              You can’t have a marriage without a love story, so let’s start with theirs. They met when Rev Run was just Joey but, still at the age of 15, an up and coming musician. He met Justine when performing at a roller rink. She was 14 but a vision in blue as he remembers. They went out, they liked each other, he wrote her a letter saying, “I will marry you one day.” But though they both lived in New York, the physical distance eventually worked against them. They parted. Joey became Rev Run, front man for the first rap group to earn a Grammy Lifetime Achievement honor. He was on top—fame, gold and platinum records, millions of fans, long days and crazy nights as he recalls. For some that would be all you’d ever need.

But there must have been something missing because years later when his cousin asked him if he remembered a girl named Justine, Rev Run asked him to get her number. He called and just like that the relationship was on again.

  So what makes a marriage last, I ask Rev and he refers me to the chapter he wrote about that very subject. It’s simple but it all makes sense. “If you want to go partying and clubbing and carousing and drinking, here’s a better piece of advice: Do. Not. Get. Married.” Instead just stay single.

              He has more to say.

              “Be selfless, not selfish,” he tells me. “Pay attention, listen to what your spouse is saying, don’t let it be in the background. “If I can see she really wants something or if she doesn’t see my point of view, then I back up.  One of the biggest takeaways I want for this book is that it’s important to listen to the whispers to avoid the screams later.”

              Takeaways are a big component of their book. Each of the chapters, written alternately by Rev and Justine end with a page of “Takeaways” or their advice on nourishing relationships. 

              Here’s a big one from Justine.

              “Both my parents were divorced and remarried,” she says. “If you have children and go into another relationship, make sure that they love your kids like they love you. And make sure you love their kids. If not, then don’t marry that person for your own selfish reasons because your child or their children will suffer.”

              Luckily, when Justine met Rev she loved his three daughters. When the two adopted after the death of their infant daughter, they all blended into one family. Parenting became so important that the couple wrote Take Back Your Parenting: A Challenge to America’s Parents about how to make it all work.

              Which brings us to this. Both Rev and Justine, who are a deacon and deaconess, want to help guide others—whether it’s in parenting or love. Helping is what they are all about.

              One last thought. The letter 15-year-old Rev wrote the note pledging to marry Justine one day—well, she saved it and when they reconnected, she gave it to him.

What: Rev Run and Justine Simmons presentation, Q&A and book signing event.  Old School Love and Why It Works

When: Friday, January 31, 7- 9 pm

Where: Wentz Concert Hall, 171 E. Chicago Ave., Naperville, IL

Cost: Each ticket includes a copy of the book and admits one or two people. You will receive your book when you arrive at the event. They will not be available for pick up before that time. Rev Run and Justine will be signing each attendees book and posing for photographs after their presentation.

fyi: For more information and to purchase tickets, 630-355-2665; andersonsbookshop.com

How to Forget: A Daughter’s Memoir

          Kate Mulgrew is just finishing lunch when I call at the pre-arranged time and she asks for a moment so she can order coffee. She’s eating and talking because her schedule is so tight it requires serious multi-tasking. Right now, she is juggling filming a new season of Mr. Mercedes and is also on a multi-city book tour to promote her just released book, How to Forget: A Daughter’s Memoir.

          It is a book, she tells me, that she felt compelled to write as it chronicles “the turbulent, tragic and joyful “time she spent in Iowa with her dying parents.

          Knowing that sometimes expressing raw and painful emotions can be a psychological relief or catharsis, I ask if that was true for her.

          “It was the opposite of that,” says Mulgrew. “Instead writing took me into deeper waters. But I told myself you have to do this; you have to write this.”

          Those deeper waters were both emotional and physical as Mulgrew holed up in a friend’s house on Lough Corrib, which is, she describes as a desolate, deep and col lake near Cornamonai west Ireland.

          “Writing this book was lonely,” she continues after taking a sip of coffee. Since I’m drinking a cup as well, it’s almost like we’re having coffee together. “It took three years to write because I had to keep leaving to film Orange is the New Black.

          Was it necessary to live on Lough Corrib to write the book, I ask?

          “It is the only way to write a book about them and how much I loved them,” she tells me, in that husky voice I remember from her playing Captain Kathryn Janeway of “Star Trek: Voyager.”

          Embracing the remoteness and isolation while writing about death, Mulgrew talks about the Ireland’s short winter days.

          “The sun is out for just short time, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and then the darkness is upon us again,” she says.  “I shed many tears I would force myself to write until four and then light the fire and go for a walk or make dinner.”

          In the end, it was worth it.

          “These were the people who shaped me,” she says, as she sets her cup down for the last time, a clinking sound on my end of the phone signaling an end to the interview. “It’s important, that experience of saying goodbye, to be present with your parents at their mortal illness, to take the journey with them. We know that the turn in the road to sickness and then to death is universal. We know that bend in the road does not go into a flowering meadow, but into a darkening thicket from which no one will ever return. I’m one of eight children, each one of us has a different story and each one of us gets to go their own way in telling it.  And this was mine and this is how I decided to tell it.”

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