After five and a half years of work, my memoir is done, and, amazingly, available for pre-order from the book sellers below. I say “amazingly,” because the book isn’t due out until February 21st, 2017. Now I understand a bit better why we see trailers for movies “Coming Soon!”–in eight or nine months. (I’m not sure I actually understand why the promo’s come so early, but I’m beginning to realize it’s par for the course.)
I should tell you that I was initially surprised by the cover selected by the good people at Atria. We had looked at a variety of options, and never talked about a cover with Willie’s face on it. At first I wasn’t sure; it didn’t seem quite fitting for a memoir about a woman (me) whose dog (Willie) teaches her that will power is not enough to heal from trauma and shame. But then, I found myself looking at Willie’s face, full of love and joy and hope and fear, and remembered that it’s that face, and what it represents, that gave me the courage to write the book. So, of course, my Silly-Billy-Willie boy should be on the cover.
As is usual, the publishers sent early copies of the book out for “blurbs.” (An unattractive word in my opinion, reminiscent of “blog,” which always sounded to me like something one would go to the doctor’s office to have removed.) Here is what came back:
“In The Education of Will, Patricia McConnell writes with unflinching honesty, vulnerability, and warmth. She wraps her reader in the highs and lows of a life lived beautifully, through gut-wrenching traumas, hard-won victories, unexpected romances, and tear-jerking setbacks. Through it all, McConnell depicts the natural world (and of course, dogs) with masterful reverence and passion. A tremendously winning memoir.”
Nickolas Buter, Shotgun Lovesongs
An unflinching look at trauma and how one woman grows beyond it—beside a wondrous, troubled spark of a dog who needs her help and helps her know herself. Wisdom earned in the hardest places, dog and human, brings with it a caring message of hope. The Education of Will is riveting from the first page to the last.
Susannah Charleson, author of Scent of the Missing and The Possibility Dogs
“This powerful memoir twines the lives of an extraordinary dog and an extraordinary woman. Their courageous, compelling story will profoundly deepen your understanding of people and animals, fear and shame, love and listening.”
Sy Montgomery, author of THE SOUL OF AN OCTOPUS
“Patricia McConnell may be the finest popularizer of the science of animal behavior we have today, and for many dog owners, myself included, she’s long been a wise and witty guiding light. With THE EDUCATION OF WILL, her intensely personal and frankly brave memoir, she examines her own traumatic history with characteristic insight, honesty, and intellectual tenacity. The result is a fascinating portrait of the deepest of connections being forged between one woman and one dog — and just how high the stakes are for both. Patricia McConnell is a treasure, and we’re very lucky indeed that she wrote this story.”
David Wroblewski, The Story of Edgar Sawtelle
Patricia B. McConnell’s inspirational memoir, The Education of Will, is, above all, a book about redemption. McConnell faces her own history of trauma as she tries to understand and heal her fearful and reactive border collie, Willie. This book is filled with McConnell’s fascinating and often humorous insights about working with wonderful and sometimes wounded dogs. But this isn’t a book about training dogs. It’s much more. The Education of Will engages in an intimate and challenging conversation with the reader: about saving yourself, saving others, and allowing others to save you. It is original, powerful, heartwrenching in its honesty — and filled with a comforting, gentle grace.
Cat Warren, author of What the Dog Knows
“The Education of Will delves deep into the minds of people and dogs, and into the effects of trauma, showing that healing is possible. McConnell gives a voice to those who can’t speak in words and provides hope for fearful animals everywhere.”
Temple Grandin, author of Animals Make Us Human and Animals in Translation
Patricia B. McConnell has written an inspiring and courageous book about the mysteries of the love between humans and dogs and how that love can bring healing and forgiveness after trauma. Anyone who has ever loved a pet — especially a dog — will discover new and powerful insights into how that bond can lead to liberation, even from even our most hidden and crippling shames. The Education of Will brought me to tears and laughter, amazement and admiration. Patricia B. McConnell has dramatically advanced the growing body of literature that explores post-traumatic stress syndrome and how our life force — and that of our beloved dogs — leads us to truth-telling and and a reconnection with ourselves and society.
Nancy Venable Raine, author of After Silence
Some of these authors are such brilliant writers that I still can’t believe that they have said beautiful things about my book. I am forever grateful.
Here’s where you can pre-order the book. (I know, it seems crazy early to me too, but then, they sell the books for significantly less.)
MEANWHILE, back on the farm: Back on the farm for real after a heavenly ten day vacation. We visited Wildlife Safari Park outside of Eugene, Oregon with the kids and grandkids. Paid a little extra to feed the giraffes, resulting in perhaps my favorite giraffe photo ever.
We then traveled down to the Redwoods National Park, staying in Trinidad, Californiaon the coast. Picture four days of waking up to the sound of waves breaking on the rocky coast and the hound-like barking of sea lions. (Full disclosure: We ended up shutting the windows at night; listening to a mass of full-throated sea lions at 3 AM is a bit like trying to sleep locked inside a room with 75 excited coon hounds.)
We spent a lot of time on the coast, soaking up the gorgeous views. And oh yeah, there was eating all those scallops and clams and salmon and halibut….
During the day we hiked through one of the world’s most awesome places, mile after mile of redwood forests. If you haven’t yet had a chance to visit the Redwoods (or the thicker, but shorter, Sequoias to the east), put it on your bucket list. There are only a few places on earth that I have found more beautiful and inspiring. The trees are so massive and huge it feels like being in another world. How tragic that most of it was cut down, but how encouraging that some of it was saved. Have you been there? Did you feel like you were in a Jurassic Park movie? (You would be right, part of the first one was filmed there.)
A few more photos of a truly wonderful vacation.
And of course, although having no TO DO list for over a week was heaven on earth, it was even better to come home to the dogs, the kitties and the sheep. Here’s hoping your place feels just as good to come home to.