Following Atticus: Forty-Eight High Peaks, One Little Dog, and an Extraordinary Friendship by Tom Ryan is published by William Morrow. It tells the story of my adventures with Atticus M. Finch, a little dog of some distinction. You can also find our column in the NorthCountry News.

Monday, March 26, 2012

90 Second Book Reviews Reviews Following Atticus: "It paints a picture of adversity and shows how much guts and love count."

This is our 1,000th post on this blog and it's regarding a great book review of Following Atticus that came out of the blue.  The '90 Second Book Review' gives our story high marks and I'm grateful for their consideration.

The review states: "If you are fearful, this is a book you need to read. If you like to hike or backpack, it' also is a "must read." If you have a special dog in your life, this is your book. And if you are made of stone--like Tom Ryan's late father–it warns you that you are hiking a dangerous trail, more dangerous than any described in Following Atticus."

And they go on to rank Following Atticus on the following five categories: Importance to Society; Importance to You; Fun Read; Quality of Writing and Presentation; Perspective Changer; and Over-all Must-Read Rating.  These are ranked from zero to five, with five being the highest.

To read the entire review
click here

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

A Letter About Following Atticus From A Reader

A writer longs to connect. 

He wants his words to find the right set of eyes, pierce them, and fall directly into his reader's heart.  Occassionally, if we are fortunate enough, it happens.  And better yet, there are times a person lets you know when your words have taken them home again.  That's the most fulfilling part about being a writer.  Yes, making a living off of it is nice, and so are book sales, and bestseller lists - but more than anything it's the connection that counts.

On Monday we celebrated Atticus's tenth birthday by telling our blog, Twitter, and Facebook followers that if we made the New York Times bestseller list during his birthday week (the rating period goes through this Saturday), we'd donate a $1,000 to both the Jimmy Fund and to Angell Animal Medical Center.  We then urged people to buy Following Atticus this week to read it (if they haven't already), or to buy it for those they cared about.  What has transpired has been beyond my wildest dreams.  We may or may not make the New York Times bestseller list, but our numbers on Amazon and Barnes & have jumped to new highs.  Even better is the outpouring of emotion that has come with so many of the posts, emails, and tweets.  It's really been something special.

The responses have been so numerous that I could not possibly post all of them but today I asked one emailer for permission to make her message public.  I hers out of so many worthy candidates for various reasons.  I think, however, the main reason is because it was most indicative of the majority of messages we've received. 

So many people have bought several copies of Following Atticus in its various forms (some of have bought it in ebook, hardcover, and in its audio form as well) and read it or listened to it, but then went right ahead and bought several more copies for other people in their life.

I think I can speak for everyone who is involved in the publishing of Following Atticus by saying that the response has been beyond remarkable.  It's been jaw-dropping. 

So thank you all for sharing your stories with us. 

Thank you for revealing your hearts.

And thank you for allowing me to tell the story of my friend, a most unusual little dog.

Here's what Janice from Saskatchewan, Canada had to say about Following Atticus...

I first learned about your book after my husband went out looking for dog booties earlier this year (incidentally for our own miniature schnauzer "Mausi", who had her first birthday last month). He came home with a set of muttluks, and attached to them was a promo card for your book. I was instantly intrigued - our Mausi is such an amazing little dog in her own right, so I was curious about what sort of story you and Atticus could tell. I kept the card in front of my keyboard for the next couple of weeks, as a reminder to snag the book when I was done with the series I was reading at the time.

I purchased the ebook in mid-February - and I am so glad that I did. I found so much joy and wisdom and more than a few tears every time I turned on my kindle. My only regret is that it didn't count towards the NYT push you started yesterday - so in honor of Atticus's birthday and the story you've shared, last night I went to and bought several more ebooks (to share with my family), and a hardcover version to grace our own living room. I hope you make it to the bestseller list - your story deserves to be spread far and wide.

Thank you so much,
Janice, Clark, and Mausi
Saskatchewan, Canada - where the winters can be nasty too, except everything here is flat.

Thursday, March 08, 2012

On March 12th Atticus Maxwell Finch Turns 10; Help Us Give To The Jimmy Fund and MSPCA Angell Animal Medical Center

(A Ken Stampfer photograph.)
On March 12th Atticus Maxwell Finch will turn 10-years old.

What a decade it’s been.  What a life he’s lived.  And what a gift he’s given me.  Of course you already know all of this if you’ve read Following Atticus: Forty-Eight High Peaks, One Little Dog, andan Extraordinary Friendship, our shared memoir.

Ten years ago Atticus shocked his breeder, Paige Foster, when he was born an only puppy.  She was expecting more puppies to come out of his mother, and this was something she was never wrong about - until this night.  And from the first moment she held his tiny body in her hands Paige could feel there was something different about him – something special. During the first few weeks of his life Paige spent countless hours alone with the 'different' little puppy and this woman who led a life that was anything but charmed decided that for once, she would keep a puppy and not sell him as she had done with the more than the thousand she’d bred before.  Injuries she had sustained in an accident six months prior and had never healed would soon get better.  

That’s when I entered the picture.  I had lost Maxwell Garrison Gillis, an elderly miniature schnauzer I rescued less than a year and a half earlier.  My heart was broken and I wanted it fixed.  I searched for breeders through an on-line database and fate brought Paige and I together.  She showed me all the puppies she had for sale but when I didn’t see one I wanted, she asked me just what I was looking for.  I told her it was not so much about a certain look as it was a feel.  I told her how ‘Max’ had started to heal my jaded life and how his passing had broken that now-tender heart.

Paige then did something most others wouldn’t consider.  Paige was a woman with little happiness and she didn’t have many belongings.  All she really had that meant anything to her was that one special puppy.  But through our correspondence she believed that the same qualities he had within him that helped heal her could also heal me, and perhaps finish the job of saving me from myself that ‘Max’ had started.  Within a couple of days she sent Atticus to me and neither one of us could possibly understand how her selfless act would set the wheels of change in motion in so many lives. 

In the years since then much has transpired – enough to fill a book. 
Atticus did indeed finish the job Max started and brought me home to myself.  As I write in Following Atticus, “In telling the story of my friend, Atticus M. Finch, I often think of the something Antoine de Saint Exupery wrote, ‘Perhaps the act of love is my gently leading you back to yourself.’ For that’s what this little dog did. He led, I followed, and in the end I became the man I dreamed of being when I was a little boy.”      

If you’ve read the book you know how important the Jimmy Fund and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, and Angell Animal Medical Center are to us.  Over the course of two winters we climbed 147 4,000-foot peaks and raised thousands of dollars for the fight against cancer and for animals in need.
To mark Atticus’s tenth birthday I wanted to do something a little bit different with our book.  Many of you have already read it.  Some have even bought it for others.  And some still plan to buy it for themselves – and for others.  It is my hope that if you plan to read Following Atticus or to give it to someone else, that you buy it on March 12th, his birthday, or in the few days following it.  If enough people buy it that week we’ll make it to the New York Times bestseller list for the week and if we do we’ll donate a $1,000 to the Jimmy Fund and a $1,000 to Angell Animal Medical Center. 

On March 12th, we’ll post a reminder on our Facebook page along with the Following Atticus book trailer and ask you to share it with a note about what we hope to achieve.  It would be great if you would share this with your Facebook friends.

We’ve yet to grab the attention of the national media.  However, we’ve been wonderfully successful because of you, our readers, and your word of mouth.  It has meant all the difference.  We’ve not made the NY Times bestseller list yet but there have been weeks when we haven’t been far off.  We have been on the New England Independent Booksellers Association (NEIBA) bestseller list in each of the last seven months, and we’ve made it to the Top 10 of the Sunday Times of London (UK).  With your help and continued support, we will make it to the NY Times list soon enough.  And if we do it for the week of Atticus’s birthday, we’ll give back to those two organizations we believe in.  So pass the word – March 12 is the day!

(A note: not all booksellers report their sales to the New York Times.  Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Target, I-Tunes, Powells, and many of the bigger independent booksellers do.  It doesn’t matter whether you buy the hardcover or download an e-book.  All sales go towards making the list.)

Thank you for reading our story – a story that was started by the selflessness of a remarkable woman ten years ago and a thousand miles away.

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Following Atticus Is Featured On New Hampshire Chronicle

Last Friday evening Atticus and I were featured on New Hampshire Chronicle during a six minute clip. We appreciate the coverage from WMUR New Hampshire, an ABC affiliate. You can see the footage by clicking here.