Monday, December 20, 2010

Guest Blogger, Lou Belcher

Painting of Max by Susan Kessler
It’s my pleasure to welcome author Lou Belcher as the special guest blogger here today at Thoughts in Progress.

Lou’s latest release is THE ZEN OF MAX (A MEMOIR OF GREAT WISDOM AND MANY NAPS). Here’s a brief synopsis: “It's the story of an ordinary cat and the extraordinary difference he made throughout his life. In addition to recounting the many noteworthy events of their life together, THE ZEN OF MAX conveys the many universal lessons Lou learned from Max.

As a memoir, it shows the humorous and touching sides of life over the almost two decades they spent together. As a book of personal growth, it will touch your heart and offer words of wisdom from an unexpected source.”

Lou is also a fellow blogger and she joins us today to answer some questions about her writing.

Mason: How did you come up with the idea of writing a book about Max?

Lou: Max just had such a big personality, as a writer I couldn't resist writing about him. Toward the end of his life, I felt an urgency to put the highlights together while he was still with me.

Mason: Did you finish then?

Lou: No, the book was unfinished when he died in 2008. He was 18 1/2  when he died and had been with me for 16 of those years. I just couldn't work on the book for quite a while. I don't know if you have experienced it or not, but when you lose a pet, it takes quite a lot out of you. Anyway, I put the book aside for about a year.

Mason: What prompted you to finish it? 

Lou: In 2009, I started working on it periodically, but just couldn't get back into it fully. I always intended to finish it but wasn't in a great hurry. So, I wrote the Twitter book as many of the local folks who followed my blogs were having trouble getting up and going on Twitter.

When I signed up to participate in a two-day book fair during the ArtWorks Festival in Eau Gallie, Florida, I intended to take
the Twitter book to that. With the Twitter book obsolete, I suddenly had all the motivation I needed to finish Max's book. I threw myself in gear, spent many late hours and finished THE ZEN OF MAX with just enough time to send it to my designer and to the printer.

Mason: What has surprised you the most about the reaction to THE ZEN OF MAX?

Lou: Everything. I'm having great fun with it. Other pet bloggers have been very supportive and have blogged about the book. I'm certainly grateful for that. It went over well at the book fair. And, I've had a couple of signings since then. At those, people not only want a signed copy of the book, but requested to have their pictures taken with Flat Max (a life-size image of him I take with me to signings) too. 

I guess I'm most pleasantly surprised that people don't think I'm the crazy cat lady, but they have embraced the purpose of the book... to spread a smile or two and to tie those smiles to a few lessons learned.

Mason: Can you give us an example of a Lesson Learned?

Lou: Well, sure. As the title of the book hints, Max was devoted to his naps. So, here's a Lesson Learned regarding naps: Embrace life—the conscious and the unconscious parts—fully. That was Max. He did everything with full gusto.

Another Lesson Learned that is one of my favorites: Sometimes there is no perfect answer. You just go with the most logical solution and hope for the best.

Lou, thanks so much for guest blogging here today. And yes, I do understand the heartbreak and loss one suffers from losing a family pet. It does take a lot out of you.

Now for a bit of background on Lou. She started her writing career through editing. Initially, she worked as a book editor for an on-line publishing company and then began working on her own as a freelance writer, editor and photographer. Lou has written four non-fiction books. Most recently she wrote READY, SET, TWEET: A SPEEDY GUIDE TO TWITTER. The book was well-received, but she would not recommend writing a book about current technology. READY, SET, TWEET was published in February 2010 with detailed screenshots and detailed instructions to illustrate how to get up and going on Twitter. A mere six months after publication, Twitter changed its format, making the new book obsolete.

Lou began blogging several years ago. Two of her blogs are specifically designed to help artists and writers. Brevard Art News ( is devoted to bringing attention to the works of the artists and their organizations in Brevard County, Florida. The other blog is Florida Book News ( It is devoted to helping Florida writers get the word out about their books or about their organizations.

Lou also has two personal blogs: Writer's Creative Studio where she blogs about the writing process and inspiration and Lou Belcher Gallery where she participates in several on-line photo challenges and displays her photography.

It's only logical that when Lou set up a blog for Max (, she ensured that it supported animal adoption efforts through periodic posts about animals needing homes and through donating a portion of the proceeds from THE ZEN OF MAX to agencies devoted to finding forever homes for pets.

THE ZEN OF MAX is is available through The link for that is:
If people would like more information about Max, they can visit his website at


  1. Lou, thanks so much for guest blogging today. I can understand having to complete this book after Max passed away. Wishing you much success with it.

  2. Hi Mason and Lou - good to meet you and to hear about Max - special animal .. they are definitely part of our lives. That's wonderful art work by Susan - I love the picture .. no wonder people want their photo taken with Max, the flat pack!

    I'm sure The Zen of Max will be a great buy and be so comforting to so many .. thanks so much - Hilary

  3. Sounds like a wonderful book--and a great philosophy behind it! Embrace life. Thanks, Lou and Mason!

  4. Mason - Thanks for hosting Lou.

    Lou - Pets really are such important parts of our lives, aren't they? It sounds like Max was a wonderful friend to you. I wish you much success as you share his story.

  5. We read Lou's book and we absolutely LOVED IT!! We are also one of the Pet Bloggers who did a review of the book!

    So glad to see Lou featured as a guest on your blog today!

    We are now your newest followers!
    Caren and Cody from Cat Chat

  6. Mason... Thank you so much for having me as guest blogger today. I appreciate your support and your wonderful blog.


  7. It's difficult when we lose our furry friends. Glad you were able to finish the book.

  8. We have so much to learn from our pets, their perspective on life is often perfectly clear. Max sounds like a very special inspiration in your life, Lou. And now what a great way for him to influence so many others, through your words.

  9. We loved the book. Max is/was a very unique cat. How nice of you to do an interview with HH.

  10. Lou, what a great idea for a book. Some of my best friends have been my dear cats.

    Mason, Another great interview. Thanks.

  11. Max will be so happy to know that he's helping other cats find forever homes with perfect nap spots. Good for you.

    Great interview, Mason.

  12. The book sound wonderful and the painting is beautiful.

  13. Hi all and thanks for dropping by today. I've had to be away from the computer most of the day, but I do appreciate each of you for your wonderful comments. Also, I'd like to extend a warm welcome to the new visitors who stopped by and hope you return again. Caren and Cody thanks for following.

    Thoughts in Progress

  14. Sounds like a great idea! I use my dog as a Zen Master too...

  15. Great interview! Max had to have been a very special kitty, to have inspired such an awesome book - highly recommended!

  16. What an interesting interview. I know how it feels to lose a pet. They are not just pets, they are family.

    This book is on my TBR book list.


I'd love to hear your thoughts on today's post. Thanks for dropping by.