Archive for September, 2006

Last chance to vote for The Quill Book Awards

Thursday, September 28th, 2006

Hi everyone. If you scroll down two entries in this blog, you will see my breathless description of being nominated in two categories for The Quill Book Award. Marley & Me is a finalist in the audio-book category and in the biography/memoir category. As with all finalists, it also is in the running for Book of the Year. The general public (that’s you!) picks the winners through online balloting.
Voting ends Sept. 30, so if you haven’t cast a vote for your favorite books yet, it’s now or never. The winners will be announced at a banquet in New York on Oct. 10, and Jenny and I get to be there. Whatever happens, it should be an exciting evening.

Here’s an email notification my publisher, Wm. Morrow, put out:

Marley & Me
by John Grogan
#1 New York Times bestseller

Marley & Me has been nominated for a

2006 Quill Book Award in the “Biography/Memoir” and

“Audio Book” categories!

The Quill Awards, billed as “the people’s choice of books,” will be televised on NBC in October. You can vote for your favorite reads of 2006 until Sept. 30.

To vote, go to:

Or click on The Quills logo on the top of the home page.

Cesar & Me

Tuesday, September 12th, 2006

If you are an animal lover, you more than likely are a fan of Cesar Millan, dog trainer/behaviorist extraordinaire. He is the host of Dog Whisperer with Cesar Millan on the National Geographic Channel, and is the author of the bestselling dog-training book Cesar’s Way.

Like millions of others, Jenny and I are fans and have always enjoyed watching how this man can turn around seemingly hopeless dogs in short order. As I’ve mentioned before, our new Labrador, Gracie, is quite the good girl. She’s calm, sedate, easy. She doesn’t dig, chew, destroy furniture, freak out in storms…or any of those endearing things that made Marley who he was.

That said, Gracie has a few, shall we say, “issues.” One is she is obsessed with our backyard chickens. Bloodlust obsessed. She’s already killed two of them, and we need to keep them strictly segregated. She also only will come to us selectively. If something is distracting her — usually another animal — she simply will not obey.

Enter Cesar. After watching his show one night, Jenny had one of those “why not?” moments. She emailed his television producer and explained Gracie’s few transgressions. Of course, the producer liked the fact that we were, as she put it, “that Marley family.” Hey, it’s a natural for television… the bestselling dog behaviorist helps the bestselling dysfunctional dog owner get his act together and have a happier home and pet.

The next thing I knew, Cesar and his TV crew were pulling up at our door in rural Pennsylvania. Cesar sat down and spoke, on camera, with us for about 40 minutes, taking in all our information on Gracie, who was snoozing quietly at our feet. He quickly ascertained what our breeder had assured us — that she is from quality hunting stock, and is hardwired to pursue prey. If we are not going to put her to work doing that, she’ll go out and put herself to work. As in, stalking our beloved birds. Our prescription for a happier dog — and safer chickens — was to harness that hunting instinct in a positive way, instead of simply trying to suppress and punish it. He suggested we find a good hunting dog trainer to work with us and Gracie (which Jenny is out doing this moment as I write this).

Then he asked if he could go outside alone with Gracie for a few minutes. He didn’t want us in the mix. “Sure,” I said. Three minutes later I peeked out the window and could barely believe my eyes. Cesar had one of our chickens cradled in his arm (he grew up on a farm in Mexico), and he had Gracie sitting directly in front of him. She sat calmly for him. Every time she began to quake with that bloodlust excitement she gets, he’d give her a subtle correction. Just a little hiss and gentle poke to the throat with three fingers. He said he was mimicking a mother dog correcting her pups. By the end of the day, Cesar was able to crouch down and — this is NOT a misprint — let Gracie sniff the chicken’s feet. What was amazing was that our hen was completely calm, too. Gracie knew Cesar was in control, and the chicken seemed to understand that, as well.

“Gracie trusts you and has affection for you,” he said. “But she doesn’t respect you.” Of course she doesn’t; we’re Doofus Dog Owners. Doesn’t respect us as the leader of her hunting pack, anyway. That’s what we need to work on.

That was a few weeks ago, and we’ve been working with Gracie, doing what Cesar showed us. Jenny and a great local dog trainer have been putting her through her paces. Cesar and crew return to our house at the end of the month to see how much progress we’ve made. (If you’re religious, now is a good time to start praying for us… “Dear Lord, don’t let them humiliate themselves too badly. This is, after all, going to be on national television. Have mercy…”)

The bottom line: We had a lot of fun. And we gained a new respect for the magnetic pull he has over dogs. They really do come under his spell — just like on TV. It was something to observe.

And now here’s a little tease… Something VERY surprising happened while Cesar was working with Gracie and our hen. And it was caught on film. Something that will without question be the highlight of the segment. And that’s all I’m going to say. Don’t want to spoil the surprise.

The episode is scheduled to run in the upcoming fall season, and when I have more specifics I’ll post them here.

Marley Crashes The Quill Book Awards

Saturday, September 2nd, 2006

I know I’ve been quiet the last couple weeks, and that’s because the Grogan clan has been away on vacation. As we do every year, we packed up the mini-van and headed for Michigan, where both Jenny and I grew up, for a two-week stay. We visited relatives and friends — and soaked up our beloved Great Lakes, staying both on Lake Michigan (near where Jenny and I met at our first newspaper jobs) and with our good friends the Kellys (you’ll find them on the acknowledgement page) at their cottage on Lake Huron. It was at this cottage where I wrote the chapters about Marley’s descent into old age. Despite a fair amount of rain, we still had a fun relaxing time — and we got in four picture-perfect beach days. So all in all, a successful trip.

While we were gone, Gracie lived in high style with our neighbors, Kim and Bob, whom Jenny and I have officially knighted “The World’s Nicest Neighbors.” Gracie enjoyed it so much, she didn’t want to come home. “What have YOU done for me lately?” her expression seemed to say when we greeted her.

While we were up in northern Michigan, exciting news broke: Marley & Me has been nominated for The Quill Book Award in two categories: memoir/biography and audio book. It’s also in the running for the overall Book of the Year award. The Quills are a big deal in the book publishing world. They’re kind of The People’s Choice Awards of literature. Booksellers and librarians nominate their favorite picks as finalists, and then the general reading public gets to vote, via email. Last year, the Quill Book of the Year went to J.K. Rowling. Bob Dylan won best biography/memoir for ”Chronicles: Volume One.”

A Reuters news story published when the nominees were announced called this year’s competition wide open. “With no Harry Potter book published in the past year, there was no clear front runner for book of the year, which will be chosen by the public in online voting from a list of nominees in 19 different categories.”

The Reuters story ( described The Quills this way:
“The Quills, now in their second year, are hoping to challenge the more staid National Book Awards and the Pulitzer Prizes, which have tended toward works with strong literary merit but sometimes little public recognition. The award’s promoters aim to promote literacy and gain the kind of recognition that the Booker Prize bestows on British authors. The nominees were chosen by 6,000 booksellers and librarians from among English language books marketed to the United States in the year to June 30, 2006.”

It continued: “The memoir and biography category is likely to attract much attention, with big names such as CNN correspondent Anderson Cooper for ‘Dispatches from the Edge’ and Joan Didion for her story of bereavement ‘The Year of Magical Thinking.’ Another popular favorite in the running against them is John Grogan’s ‘Marley and Me,’ a hugely successful book about his dog that has dominated the best-seller lists this year.”

So now it’s in your hands, book lovers. As far as I can tell, you can only vote once per email address (not that this author attempted to vote for himself more than once or anything!).

To see a full list of nominees and cast your votes, please go to:

You can also vote by going to the home page and clicking on The Quills logo at the top of the page.

Voting is open through September 30. The awards will be presented on Oct. 10 and the ceremony will be broadcast by NBC on Oct. 28.

I spent 13 years yelling, “No, Marley! No!” Now I’m shouting: “Go, Marley! Go!”