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Thursday, May 31, 2012

Who Will Avenge Publishing?



I enjoyed the latest Avengers movie last week. Though I didn’t see it in 3-D, the film was eye-opening in one respect. Its popularity and wild success begs the question: Where is publishing’s version of The Avengers?

Sure there are always popular books for sale. Fifty Shades of Grey is one example. But how many books gross over a billion dollars worldwide after just a few weeks?

My question is this: Why are movies so much more popular than books? It isn’t even close.

I know it is easier and quicker to watch a movie than to read a book, so I guess movies offer instant gratification. Should we start selling shorter books or pushing books that feature a collection of essays and short stories so a reader can feel they experienced a complete story in one night?

Movies offer great visuals. Should more books feature photographs, illustrations, and charts to make the reader experience more colorful?

Movies offer sound. Should more books be accompanied by music for the background? Should more books come with the audiobook version, so one can listen to a book?

Movies offer video. This is the hardest thing for books to offer, but if you are on an e-reading device perhaps special videos can be created to play on it. They can be short and used to recreate the opening chapter or a key chapter in the book. But I am guessing production costs would make this unlikely.

Or perhaps we accept the fact that movies get the big bucks for the following reasons:

·         They are scarcer. Maybe a thousand films get played in theaters annually. Meanwhile, millions of new books are released during that same time.

·         Movies are unfiltered, to a degree, for mass appeal. They are built to get a big audience when they throw in special effects, a great soundtrack, and a story that can draw many people in.

·         Movies are physical escapes. You leave the house, congregate with others, and share in it with friends, family, a date, etc. Books are read at home, in private, in isolation.

·         Most movies get reviewed and are talked about by the news media. Comparatively few books are featured by the media.

·         Movie releases are scheduled, short-lived events that people rally around. Book launches happen slowly and wait for word of mouth to spread.

In the end, we don’t have to choose between a movie or a book. In fact, many movies are based on books and fans of these books flock to the theaters to see how the movie portrays those books.

There may come a time where price factors in on whether one sees a movie or reads a book, but for now that may not be a big deal. Maybe the real advantage films offer viewers over book readers is that the story is told and shown to them as opposed to one reading to themselves. The reader may want to get out of his head and no longer hear his own voice. He wants to just shut down and let others put on a show for him. He no longer has to use his imagination. He cedes control to the movie and lets others dictate his experience.

I love to run to the movies and to let Hollywood inspire and entertain me. But I surely love books as well. No need to choose between the two but it would be great to see book publishing find ways to expand sales by following part of Hollywood’s script.



What Advice Would You Give To A Struggling Writer?
“New writers should understand that, like any other profession, becoming a published author requires an extensive education. Attendance at conferences and workshops, as well as seeking the services of a qualified editor, will help the struggling new author learn what is expected by the publishing industry, which can be quite different from what might be anticipated. This is equally important to those who self-publish, because their works should be comparable to commercially published material.

“Also, although movies and novels can be quite different and play to diverse audiences, there is one similarity. Making a movie requires the combined efforts of a creative team of a director, writer, actors, cinematographer, set designers, etc. Crafting a novel requires all of these efforts as well, but performed by one individual--the author, who must serve as director, writer, actors, cinematographer, set designers, etc. One of the most common weaknesses I see in my editorial clients is poor directing skills. Know what to emphasize and what to minimize. Always focus on your lead character and especially know what to cut. Movie DVDs usually include as a bonus a few select deleted scenes. They were deleted for a reason. Know what to remove from your manuscript to make it more cohesive and improve pacing.”

-- Michael Garrett, Editorial Services www.writing2sell.com  and www.manuscriptcritique.com



“Quit struggling. If writing is a struggle, find a way to make it joyful, fulfilling. If the struggle is in finding the time to write, make a writing appointment with yourself. Write it on the calendar. Keep it as you would keep an appointment with a friend or your dentist. Even half an hour a day can make all the difference. Make a date with a writing friend to write alone/together. 

“If the struggle is with a particular piece or section of a project, sometimes it's best to put the thing away for awhile, let it cool off. Once again, quit struggling. Ask for help from writers you trust. Look for another way to approach the piece. Don't aim for perfection; it doesn't exist. Aim for getting words on the page. 

“Writing is hard work, but it shouldn't be a struggle.”

--Judy Reeves is a writer, teacher and writing practice provocateur.  See: http://judyreeveswriter.com/


“It’s always insightful to get a chance to gather my thoughts; I am pleased to share a few new ideas and old truths with your readers. These are gathered from my experience marketing my book, Turning Memories into Memoirs, which has sold 35,000 copies since its publication in 1992. I’ve learned a few things in the ensuing years that I hope will be helpful to self-published writers struggling to bring their books to the attention of readers.

“First, I’d like to address appearance. Despite the common aphorism, people do judge a book by its cover. Make your cover—and the inside of the book— professional and well-designed. Choose a layout that is pleasing to the eye and conventional. This is not the place to get creative—save that for your writing! The look of your book must be the same as you might find in a big-name publisher. (I like to think all my books and our client books look like they come from Random House or Simon and Schuster!)

“Next let’s talk about outreach. Do all the promotion you possibly can—and then some more. Use every outlet available, including local radio and television spots, blog appearances, internet radio programs, contributions to newsletters. Create or participate in publicity events—a reading at your library, a presentation at a conference, a signing at a book store. And don’t neglect to send out a press release as well as get listed on every calendar of events you can think of (both on- and offline).

“Your book is your baby, don’t ever abandon it. Keep believing in what you’ve written—and back that up with action—and your book will sell. No publisher will work as hard as you will on getting your message into the world. Large publishers often desert their books after only a few months: your book will continue to resonate years after its publication, with the proper care.

“Here’s one last tip that I’ve discovered in my twenty-five years in the business. When promoting a work of fiction, look for a relevant, factual aspect of your novel to promote. For example, if you’ve written a story set on the sea, focus on selling sailing to an appropriate audience. Target the market you know.

“You don't have to do it alone. There are many supports and resources available to you. Good luck and much success promoting your writing!”

--Denis Ledoux, Founder, Soleil Lifestory Network, www.turningmemories.com
Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at brianfeinblum@gmail.com. He feels more important when discussed in the third-person.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Where Do You Look For Ideas?



Some people naturally generate ideas, often at a fast pace. Not all of them are good and many are not acted upon even if they are good. Ideas are the essential currency for authors and publicists. Without good ideas, publishing is dead. But ideas flow for some with ease and little effort. For others, they get blocked by an obstacle, stress, time, or something. They may be intelligent people but they hit a wall on the ideas front. What is a good place to search for ideas? Here are a dozen off the top of my head:

1.      Talk to others. About anything and everything. Use them to spur an idea unwittingly.

2.      Intentionally brainstorm, one on one, or with a small group. Don’t judge any ideas openly – just note them, and see if they inspire additional thought.

3.      Go to an art museum. Get a change of perspective from creative geniuses.

4.      Ask a question. Change one element of the question. Change something about the answer. Keep manipulating pieces of a puzzle until you create a new picture.

5.      Do not think so hard about whatever it is that needs your attention. Often good ideas come about accidentally or when you are not intentionally focused on the subject.

6.      Read books to get your mind off of the very thing you want to obsess over.

7.      Tend to a hobby. Maybe draw or play a game. Be a kid again and perhaps a fresh idea will step forward.

8.      Get physical. Get the blood flowing and get some aggression out. Sometimes walking far, running fast, or hitting a ball hard knocks an idea loose.

9.      Look at history. Go antique shopping. Look at photos from a hundred years ago. Learn about older cultures and maybe something from the past can even connect you to the challenges or needs of the present.

10.  Just stare at people. Observe them closely. Imagine what they are thinking, where they are going, what they are doing. Envision their lives as detailed and deeply as possible. Put yourselves in the lives you have assumed for them. Get out of your own life and see the world through the eyes of others.

11.  Get a change of scenery. If not an outright vacation, just get lost for a while. Drive or take a train to a town a few hours away. Explore a little. New input delivers new output.

12.  Redraw your surroundings. Look around you, then close your eyes. Imagine different things – a purple tree, a cow next to a skyscraper, a dog that talks, a car driving down the street from the 1920s, a beautiful actress sitting next to you, sunshine coming from rain, etc.

There are many mental exercises one can do to place their mind in another state of being, from sleep to meditation, and from drugs to alcohol, we can transform our minds to be elsewhere. Sometimes our best ideas just come to us when we are not intentionally focused on trying to discover them.

So relax and let your mind be a tease. It may just generate a great idea.

FREE BOOKS

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 For more information, consult www.warrenadler.com.  If you’d like to download some of his earlier works—for free just click on http://www.warrenadler.com/giveaway?Code=MC1

Here's the current schedule:

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Why Do I Love Being Involved In The Book Publishing Industry?

“When I finally found the courage to independently release my first novel, RED TIDE, I felt a sense of accomplishment. But then my first reviews began coming in—from people I don't know. READERS! People who don't know me were reading my words and I was humbled.

My next high-point? Through the Amazon KDP Select program, my book was getting checked out of the library. READERS! I loved libraries as a kid and  thinking about my little book flying through cyber space for someone to enjoy was and is an incredible thrill.

-- Peg Brantley, RED TIDE, Suspense Novelist , Crime Fiction Collective


Advice To A Struggling Writer

“Many reasons good writing is rejected: space limits, personal taste, just pubbed 1 like it, etc. Not b/c it's not good. So keep submitting.”

-- Editor Chris Roerden, award-winning author Don't Sabotage Your Submission, writersinfo.info

“I would tell the writer to:
·  Hold on to your dream, and never give up.
·  Learn all you can about the writing craft and the writing profession.  
·  Hang out with writers who have done what you want to do.  Learn from the best.
·  Be teachable and open to criticism.  Put aside your ego. It will stand in the way of your learning.
·  Attend writers' conferences.
·  Join a critique group of writers who know more than you do.
·  Promote other writers.  To help others is never to diminish oneself.
·  Pray for God's direction as you write. 
·  Write the works of your heart, those that inspire your passion.”,

Did You Miss These Recent Posts?

How To Create A Writer’s Legacy Like War of the Roses’ Warren Adler

Taking TV’s The Apprentice Approach To Book Publishing

What’s The Secret Password To Publishing Riches?

What do you have to say to get someone to buy or review your book? http://bookmarketingbuzzblog.blogspot.com/2012/05/whats-secret-password-to-publishing.html

Do you really have the best credentials to write your book?

Love is in the air at Book Expo

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Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at brianfeinblum@gmail.com. He feels more important when discussed in the third-person.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Take The Apprentice Approach To Book Publishing



I confess that I watched and thoroughly enjoyed one “reality” show – NBC’s The Apprentice. The Donald Trump showcase is a great idea. I watched the first few seasons and eventually lost interest, mainly because like all reality shows’ weakness, they are manipulated too much. I cannot take watching something that is not really genuine though it is passed off as if it was. But when I suspended my belief and judgment for a few years, I found the show’s concept rewarding. I think book publishing should operate like The Apprentice.

Imagine every day you are tasked with a goal. You have limited resources and a deadline for accomplishing the task at hand. You work with a team – against another team – to achieve a quantifiable, measurable result. In the end, if your team loses to the other, you need to justify why you should remain on the team.

Many lessons can be derived from this that apply to promoting and marketing books.

Each of the tasks given to the competing teams are end results. You have the autonomy to determine how you go about achieving them. Life holds many possibilities. When a gun is put to your head and you are told to deliver X by a certain date and time you suddenly focus and laser in on how to get the job done. In order to promote a book, you need to set daily goals and then determine actionnable steps to fulfill those goals.

The other part one should not ignore is the team effort concept. You might write a book on your own but it takes a team to promote it. Publishers need to have more than one book publicist assigned to promote a book, providing not just extra hands, but additional ideas and mental support. For authors who try to promote on their own, I would advise you work with a publicist or have an assistant to help you tackle obstacles.

I like how the tasks given to teams are things one can count or add. They involve raising money for a charity, selling a product or service, or convincing a certain number of people to do something. Life is easier when you can put a number on something – then you either fall short or exceed it, but you are not left to not know where you stand. When we promote a book we should use numbers to measure performance, from total sales to Web site hits, downloads, connections made, number of people approached, size of media outlets or groups, contacted, etc. A task cannot simply be to “get media.” Be specific on who you are pursuing for media coverage.

On The Apprentice big tasks often get broken down into smaller ones. The same holds true for your marketing efforts. Think big, but execute small. Possibly the best part of The Apprentice is the concluding boardroom scene, where Donald Trump determines who the winning team is and then figures out whom to fire on the losing team. Never mind that he sits on his thrown as if he is omniscient or that his hair overshadows the pompous blowhards blather about what it takes to succeed. It is good drama.

The boardroom is judgment time. Those who were team members a moment ago suddenly turn on one another and make each other the enemy. This is a true aspect of the business world. There is competition going on, even within a company or department. Even within a family. Sometimes to inspire or to bring out your best, you need to be challenged by those who work with you and are closest to you.

Wouldn’t it be great if there was a season where the show is turned into The Publishing Apprentice and all of the tasks are related to the creation and selling of books? Maybe we’d all learn a few things in the process. Trump has had a few best-sellers, so he would be qualified to head the show. One episode can deal with writing a book, another one on editing; then cover design, printing, distribution, advertising, promoting, marketing, etc. There are so many components and facets to the book publishing industry. With millions of published books circulating out there and millions of wannabe authors, the show could have a substantial audience.

But first we need to launch Greenlight Apprentice, a show dedicated to convincing Trump and NBC to create The Publishing Apprentice. Teams will be selected with the task of getting the network to create a show that could feature bestselling authors mentoring novices, social media experts like Facebook teaming with traditional retailers such as Barnes and Nobel, and entrepreneurial startups and self-published authors dueling established publishing houses.

Every day of your writing and publishing life is like one episode of The Apprentice. You can create your own tasks and challenges. The results will be these for you to judge. You can internalize what Trump would say to you in a given circumstance and then use his would-be advice or criticism to spur you on to the next step.

If you adopt the best features on The Apprentice you will never hear the words “You’re Fired” but you may just get fired up all the way to the bank.


Interview With Best-Selling Author Julie L. Cannon


1.      What type of books do you write?   I write FLOSS - Fictional, Literary, Organically Spiritual, Southern. The two books I've got coming next are contemporary.

2.      What is your latest or upcoming book about?    "Twang" is coming out August 1 and it's about the cathartic nature of art. The elevator pitch I kept at my computer while writing goes - "When the 'music calls her home' one too many times, country music diva Jenny Cloud fears she cannot deal with the dark memories that her autobiographical lyrics evoke without losing her faith and her sanity.'

3.      What inspired you to write it?    Conway Twitty's quote that goes "A good country song takes a page out of somebody's life and puts it to music." I believe this with all my heart. After I settled on a premise, I played that old 'what if' game writers love. I asked myself, 'What if there was this girl, this exceptionally talented girl who could write music and play the guitar, who had a childhood straight out of a Faulkner novel. What if she makes it big in Nashville and must revisit her past for powerful songs?"

4.      What did you do before you became an author?   To hear my mother's version, I was born telling stories. I have a degree in Journalism (emphasis in Advertising and PR) but my work history after college is primarily sales, with a closet life as a writer until I got my first book contract.

5.      How does it feel to be a published author?   The published part is very humbling, very surreal sometimes, that I am able to do this thing I adore and that someone would put their faith in me enough to print and publicize my books. But, I also feel a responsibility when I write, to those souls who plunk down hard-earned dollars for my work. I feel I must use my gift coupled with my experiences to give them something real. To make a difference in this world.

6.      Any advice for struggling writers?   If it is your dream to write, if it makes your soul sing, do NOT give up. Sit your behind in that chair and write! I make myself write at least 1,000 words a day, except on Sundays and that occasional instance I choose to take time off for family and friends. Study your craft constantly by reading in your genre, and also by reading 'how-to-write' books. Continually submit your work, and stay open to suggestions and criticisms.

7.      Where do you see book publishing heading?   From what I've seen, I can only guess that the trend toward self-publishing and e-books will continue to grow. I must admit it pains me to think of the changes sweeping through our electronic-obsessed world. Are paper books ever going to be obsolete? I hope and pray not. It's no secret that I love, prefer old-fashioned stitched-together books made out of trees. As far as the civil war raging right now between traditionally published vs. self-published, I don't know how I feel. Perhaps we need more police in the self-publishing community?  

For more information, please check out: www.JulieLCannon.com


Why Do I Love Being Involved In The Book Publishing Industry?
by Saul and Dale Stanten 

"After many years of soul searching, I finally put my memoir, “The Hooker’s Daughter,” down on paper. The book, which describes a child’s journey into womanhood, reveals a Jewish family embroiled in prostitution, shoplifting, stolen cars, homelessness, homosexuality, and terminal illness. This candid and shocking memoir delivers a stunning account of shame, survival, and triumph. Additional information can be viewed on my website, www.TheHookersDaughter.com.

Many authors love the writing process but fear the more difficult aspect of promoting their creation. I love marketing! Selling something that originated in my head is a great challenge and generates a lot of satisfaction. By getting on the phone and the web, I have been able to arrange for numerous speaking engagements to promote the book and even receive honorariums.

However, money is not the point. Through networking, people have been introduced to me who are involved with or who provided me with contacts in the publishing and film making industry. This phase of my marketing plan has already begun. Will I be able to have a film or TV documentary made out of my book? Who knows? But, I will give it my best shot!!"


What Advice Would You Give To Struggling Writers?
by Peter Murphy

Murphy’s Laws For Writers

1.  Read! The more you write, the better you will write. The more you read, the better you will write.

2.  Writing is a craft as well as an art. If you rely only on your natural gifts without working hard, you will never be more than good.

3.  If you do not allow yourself to write badly, you will never write well.

4.  Study the masters. Study with a master.

5.  If you ask for criticism on your writing, don’t be upset or defensive if it is critical.

6.  If you write only to express yourself, you will bore others immediately and yourself eventually. If you write to discover and understand, you have a chance of being interesting to someone who doesn't know or love you.

7.  Inspiration, like acne, goes away when you reach adulthood.

8.  Learn the rules before you break them. Not after!

9.  Like Voodoo and the Occult, Writer’s Block is only true if you believe in it. If you don’t, it ain’t.

10.  If you don’t know what to write, keep writing.

For the rest ,please click on:  Murphy's Laws for Writers - Part 2
    
For more information, please consult: www.murphywriting.com

Did You Miss These Recent Posts?

How To Create A Writer’s Legacy Like War of the Roses’ Warren Adler

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What do you have to say to get someone to buy or review your book? http://bookmarketingbuzzblog.blogspot.com/2012/05/whats-secret-password-to-publishing.html

Do you really have the best credentials to write your book?

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Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at brianfeinblum@gmail.com. He feels more important when discussed in the third-person.

Monday, May 28, 2012

A Day Without Buzz


(The majority of the following was written on May 26, 2012)

They say you never forget your first love. I think it is also true you never forget the pets that you have had. I lost a pet today and I have no doubt he will be remembered by those who got to experience him.

Buzz was a terrific dog. He was a cuddly, over-sized fawn-colored pug who never seemed to find a place for his tongue. It always stuck out of the side of his mouth and looked like a red carpet that was being unfurled for a big event. By the day’s end it would dry out, looking like a piece of corned beef. Maybe to honor him we should name a deli sandwich after him.

I kept Buzz’s birth name from the people we adopted him from, for it was a perfect name. I think a publicist and marketer, after all, should have a dog named Buzz. He got his name from the Toy Story character, Buzz Lightyear. The animated film’s character used it to echo a catchphrase that may explain where my dog is now: “To infinity, and beyond!”

I don’t know where Buzz went, but I do know he is gone. As of 12:57 pm on May 26th he left this world. He came into it January 28, 1997 – over 15 years ago. But he entered my world on March 1, 2004. Coincidentally, the day my wife and I adopted him – and another pug, Lulu, was the day my last grandparent was buried, grandma Syd. She lived to be 96 and seemed to pass her longevity gene to Buzz. We felt fortunate to rescue an older dog and give him a loving home for the past eight years.

A month after we adopted the pugs my wife became pregnant with our first child. I always referred to them as fertility dogs.

They were funny with each other. Lulu, named after the childhood dog of Ed Norton in the classic TV show, The Honeymooners, used to run around the house and barrel into Buzz. He would then lick her armpits. I can still hear the soapy-sloshy sound of him showering her little armpits with his slurpy tongue. Don’t ask.

In the afternoons they would hit a witching hour and Lulu would bark (more like a yelp) and run around the house like a crazy dog. Buzz seemed more reserved, by comparison, bordering on looking distinguished and regal in the way he comported himself. Lulu was a lively whipper-snapper; Buzz just wanted to chill out.

He was always a people dog, not a dog’s dog. He preferred the comfort of humans over his own canine kind. But these two dogs would often be seen together, napping or sunning themselves. They loved to be in the sun in the room upstairs that would become our son’s room.

Buzz and Lulu were there to greet Benjamin’s arrival in January 2005. Unfortunately, Lulu died a few months later on May 17 in a tragic accident involving a school bus. I was walking the two dogs together – on leashes – on the sidewalk – but a bus that was errantly speeding got too close to us and Lulu darted just off the curb and was killed instantly.

Though I am sure Buzz missed his friend he seemed to adjust and remained our only dog for over five years, until we adopted a bulldog, Daisy, nearly two years ago. She is an energetic, affectionate dog who loves to chew on our footwear. She is no doubt helping us transition from the Buzz era.

Buzz taught me many lessons about life. One was that he showed my family and me our capacity to take in a dog that wasn’t a puppy and raise him like our own. The other was how to raise a special-needs dog. Buzz wore a diaper. Not quite like that of a baby, but not far off. He liked to pee all over the place. We figured out either he wears the diaper or he goes to another home. We opted for the diaper. It did not stop him from occasionally depositing a poop in the house, but it did allow us to keep him.

Buzz also showed me how one compensates when some of their abilities wane. He was increasingly losing his ability to hear and see. He was also arthritic. But somehow he persevered and hung in there until the end. The decision to put him down was not easy, nor without doubt, but once we finally concluded that Buzz would be better off not having to navigate with the pain, confusion, and dysfunctionality that seemed to pervade his existence, we felt a sense of peace.  There seemed to be little dog left in him. Never mind he gave up outdoor walks or staircases a few years ago. It just seemed like he was sleeping 85-90% of the time and the rest of his waking day was filled with compromise and discomfort.

It had been at least the past six months that he’d wake us in the middle of the night – sometimes several times a night at two, three or four in the morning, to take him out of our bed to go to the bathroom. Then of late he would howl because he couldn’t do something as basic as stand up or shift his body position. Though these were inconveniences for us, more importantly, they became a sign that Buzz was hurting.

He had a good heart and no other diseases. He may very well have lived longer had we not intervened. But we thought his quality of life had deteriorated, that it was the humane thing to end his days with us. Some people think we should do the same for adults. There is something to be said about the compassion that goes into euthanasia.

About 15 years ago my other grandma was dying. She was 95 and had lived a full life. She had lapsed into a coma for the second time since she had hit her head in a fall six months earlier. She had no hope of recovering and her mind was gone as a result of the fall. Though she did not leave a living will, the family respected her verbal wishes that were stated often when she was healthy. We petitioned the hospital to remove the life support machine and to let nature take its course. It was the right thing to do even though it was tough to let go.  Longevity is great, but not when it comes with a price tag of pain and suffering.

I had feared over the last two to three years that one day I would find Buzz dead. I envisioned him in my bed, not waking up one morning. I imagined he’d be on the couch and never get up from a nap.  I was concerned my kids would find him dead in his crate one day after school. But it turns out few pets die naturally. Something usually happens – an accident or an illness – that causes the pet to be put down.

I was very aware that he was on borrowed time and always told my kids to enjoy him because we didn’t know how much longer we would have him. It became a lighter burden to anticipate his death and to expect it rather than to avoid or fear it. It was imminent I guess from the day he was born, but it was also quite expected in recent years, given his age. I tried not to mourn him ahead of his time. But I did have some kind of anticipatory grief every time I tried to imagine life without Buzz.

I had a client a few years ago who wrote the best book on the subject of anticipatory pet grief – The Legacy of Beezer and Boomer: Lessons on Living and Dying from my Canine Brothers by Doug Koktavy  We learn so much from the silent creatures that we raise.

The hardest part of this was making the decision to let him go and then to move from that agonizing moment to tell our kids. How do you tell them that their first pet is dying? It was a two-fold challenge: Tell them their dog was dead and to comfort them AND explain that his death won’t come naturally, but of our doing.

I did not fully understand it myself, but I knew I had to be able to frame the conversation in a way my kids would understand and hopefully embrace. They took it well.

We first told our seven-year-old son. He cried and hugged Buzz like I had never seen him hold the aging, little fella. But, he also asked a lot of questions and seemed to understand. The question that he asked over and over was: How did you decide this now? He seemed to genuinely not just want to question our decision but to understand it.

He then helped us tell his four-year-old sister. She did not cry but asked if we can get another dog. She then said “I love Buzzy boy” and put her head on his.

We scheduled his death the way we scheduled our daughter’s birth. She came two days before her due date because her doctor was to then be gone for vacation, so we rushed the process ever so slightly. For Buzz, we felt this should not linger and settled on this Saturday. It was a beautiful sunny day when he passed away. In the afternoon it rained thick tear drops, as if the sky wept for Buzzy.

His demise made me think of all the pets I ever had. I recall having a pair of turtles as my first pet. There was Crackers the parakeet whom I accidentally killed by closing a door on him at age nine. There was Pepper the rabbit who lived to be over eight and half and remains the pet I have had the longest relationship with. There was Brandy, my first dog, a basset hound that I got when I was 26 but had to give up after four and a half years because I was moving at the time from Florida back to New York. And there were others, including parakeets Dusty, Blinky, Patty, and Tyrone. I had fish briefly, too. I even had a cat for six weeks  -- an Abysinion – before I realized the cat was nuts. And there was a diamond back turtle that I rescued from the beach for a week before I realized I should return him back to the ocean.

All of them eventually moved on, one way or another. But I never had to put a pet down until now. It is the ultimate sacrifice a pet owner can make. When you truly love your pet, when the time comes, you set it free.

In Buzz’s final days we videotaped and photographed him. We gave him extra treats and lots of love and attention. We talked about our fond memories of the little creature and marveled how he has been there by our sides during our most important moments, such as when our kids each came back from the hospital after they were born.

His crate remains open and empty for 24 hours proceeding his passing. We will wash and save the blanket that lined his crate. We will toss his diapers that we referred to as “pants.” He did not have a favorite toy, bone or ball. He wasn’t that kind of dog, although he once had a squeaky doll alligator, but I think Daisy chewed it up.

Buzz went crazy for tomatoes and not just for meat. He loved all vegetables, including peppers and carrots. I would also give him barbecue potato chips and feed him burgers, hot dogs, pasta, and whatever food our kids would leave over.

I am not sure what to do with his harness leash that he had not used for several years. Nor do I know what to do with his food bowl. His belongings were special when he was alive but I feel little towards them right now.

I will miss his extra-soft coat of fur. He had beautiful, thick but fluffy-soft hair. Actually, he had two coats of hair, making him extra cuddly. We cut off a few clumps of hair, hoping to savor that pillowy feeling.

He was bigger than your average pug – taller and heavier. Though he was a smaller dog breed, he never felt small. He weighed around 29 pounds at his peak mass and was only around 20 on the day he died.

His breath, at times, used to smell like rotten garbage and each year he would lose one or two teeth after a dental cleaning. He probably had five or six teeth left in the end.

He took his final breaths on May 26 and it was one of the most peaceful moments I had ever witnessed. Our vet, the one who had given up Buzz and Lulu for adoption, gave Buzz his final services. His name is Harlan and he generously gave of his services at no charge for so many years, always looking after Buzz even when he no longer was able to give him a home. How strange it may have been for him to be there but really we all felt strange about what was happening. And yet, as the event unfolded, it all seemed to make perfect sense.

It was this moment of mercy, though filled with guilt and fear, that allowed me to accept his fate. My wife and I looked into his eyes and rubbed his head and paws as he gently and quietly went down. No fuss, no barks, no kicking. He accepted the moment, perhaps, because it was providing relief and closure for him and for us. It was an amazing moment of life passing to death. When it was all over, it looked like he was napping.

I am not sure what I will do with his ashes once they come back to us from the vet. Lulu was cremated and sprinkled across the nation’s first and oldest pet cemetery, in Hartsdale, NY.

I am gonna miss that dog and will cherish the memories he has provided to me and my family. It always hurts to lose a loved one, human or animal, and to each person they mourn according to their needs. But for some, they cannot get past the trauma of loss, so much so that they swear off having another pet. I feel the opposite way on this matter. I believe that the love you exhibited for one pet should continue with others pets. The process of loving another should never end, even when that pet is gone. The love of another being is beautiful and precious and is something I want to repeat over and over. Luckily I have Daisy to love now and perhaps one day in the future I will get to experience a new dog’s love and attention. But when that day comes, my thoughts and feelings and experiences with Buzz will not be diminished, but enhanced.

How appropriate that Buzz was laid to rest over Memorial Day Weekend. He was not a soldier of war but he was a hero to those who loved him.

Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at brianfeinblum@gmail.com. He feels more important when discussed in the third-person.