Online Publishing

When the Call Came

Screen Shot 2017-04-18 at 4.28.11 PMIn 17 years of writing for marine magazines, I’ve rarely had the chance to craft a story like this one that Yachting just published. I’m so thrilled to share it here.

Originally, this was supposed to be a much shorter piece, maybe 500 words at most. The reporting revealed that there was much more to the tale than any of us at Yachting originally realized, and the editor and art director worked with me to give the text several thousand words’ worth of room to breathe. We were able to take readers on an experience in the Atlantic Ocean that is at once heart-pounding and heartwarming, with some incredible photos like the one at right sent to the magazine by yacht crewmember Catherine Marks.

In the print edition, the headline was the same as on this blog post, “When the Call Came.” (The online headline, “Rescue in the Atlantic,” is more search-engine and social-media friendly.) I hope you enjoy reading the piece. It’s one of the coolest stories I’ve had the chance to write in nearly two decades of marine journalism.

Two Award Nominations from the Dog Writers Association of America

The Dog Merchants by Kim KavinI’m humbled and honored to share the news that my book The Dog Merchants has been named one of four finalists for Best Reference Book of 2016 in the Dog Writers Association of America Writing Competition.

It’s also a privilege to have one of my pieces on dogmerchants.com, about pet stores and dog auctions, named among the four finalists in the category for Best Blog Post or Article.

A full list of all the finalists is here. There’s a lot of talent on this list, and I wish all of the finalists good luck! Winners will be announced in mid-February.

Why it Pays to Have Smart Guys with You in The Matrix

the-matrixEarlier today, I received an unsettling call from one of the longtime advertisers on my website CharterWave. He had just hired some web-security snoops to look around his own site, and they found strange patterns in some CharterWave URLs. Even though the CharterWave site itself looked normal to anyone viewing it, and even though it was functioning properly on the back end, some hackers had installed a program that made Google think a number of pages were for Cialis and Viagra, with links that sent users to sites for those drugs instead of to the real content.

This is sneaky stuff, done at the level of my website’s configuration file. I would have never known it was there if somebody hadn’t gone looking for it. And you don’t have to be a programmer to know that something at that level can infect a whole website, like agents moving all around The Matrix.

I paused for a momentary panic attack, envisioning the nightmare of having to untangle and possibly rebuild a site that I have updated daily since 2006, and then I contacted LS Media, which is the company I use to provide CharterWave’s server space. They’re a little more expensive than big-name companies that jam tons of websites onto various servers, but they’re much smaller and hugely professional—and they pick up the phone when I call. I got the principal on the phone within literally one minute, and just a couple of hours after that, LS Media’s expert had found the source of the hack and nullified it. He also sent me all the information that my own site programmer will need to ensure that there are no long-term effects for search engines, and to make a best effort to prevent something like this from happening again.

Kudos to the team at LS Media for being so great at what they do. And thanks also to that savvy CharterWave advertiser—who is sticking with me because he knows how important it is to have a smart team around you when you enter The Matrix.

Closing in on 500 Friends—with the Potential to Reach Nearly 200,000

My dog is closing in fast on having 500 Facebook fans, most of whom I’ve never met. Some of them are as far away as India and Sweden, where I’ve never been and don’t know anyone.

This would seem strange if not for the fact that they are all anticipating the release of “Little Boy Blue: A Puppy’s Escape from Death Row and His Owner’s Journey for Truth.” It’s due out in hardcover this summer from Barron’s Books. It will be my ninth nonfiction book.

What’s most interesting to me about Blue’s Facebook page is that as the audience grows slowly but steadily, it also grows exponentially. The “insights” tool on Facebook tells me that while Blue’s exact fan base right now is 459 people, he already has the potential to reach more than 192,000. That would happen if his fans clicked “share” and sent one of Blue’s messages to all of their own Facebook friends. (And folks already share Blue’s updates more often than you might think.)

What a great tool for the advance promotion of a book. Thank goodness my dog regularly updates his Facebook page. I wonder if he’s also been sneaking off secretly to India and Sweden to boost his numbers.

If you’d like to become a fan of Little Boy Blue on Facebook, please click the link on the right-hand side of this screen.

My Dog Will Soon Have More Facebook Friends Than I Do

As I mentioned last month, I recently signed a deal with Barron’s Books in New York to write “Little Boy Blue: One Puppy’s Great Escape.” It is the story of a wonderful puppy I adopted into my New Jersey home about a year ago, the taxpayer-funded shelter in North Carolina that was going to kill him in a gas chamber, and the army of volunteers working nationwide to save dogs and puppies like him through cross-country transports every day. The hardcover is due out in August 2012.

I’m doing a lot of interviews for the book this summer, and just last month, I created a website, Twitter feed, and Facebook page where folks can follow my progress. The website and Twitter feed, I write in my own voice. The Facebook page, well, that’s where my boy Blue talks directly to his friends and fans.

Now, my personal Facebook page is just that. While I have thousands of people connected to my various blogs and Twitter feeds, I only have about 150 Facebook friends. They’re my actual friends, people with whom I want to chat and stay in touch.

My dog Blue, who just got onto Facebook last month, already has half that number—and is gaining a surprising number of friends every single day. All kinds of people are talking to him through Facebook, including people interested in “Little Boy Blue” the book as well as people who are just happy to see a rescued puppy having a great life. He even has been friended by other dogs that we know around town.

I never thought I’d see the day when my dog has more Facebook friends than I do, but it’s apparently coming, and fast.

And to think, just a few months ago, I was still teaching him not to chew on my laptop’s power cord…