We’ve had a busy December and there’s still a lot to go!

Recently, Gretchen Voth of CLT DOG met up with Jim Mitchem to talk about Gone Dogs.

We recently got together to celebrate the launch of our book. Gone Dogs – It’s about love ❤️

Share your Gone Dog with the world in a tribute that will live forever. Gone Dogs. It’s about love. ❤️

Our official Gone Dogs book trailer video is live! Gone Dogs – It’s about love ❤️

We’ve been promoting our book for a couple of months now, and if you’re following along you no doubt know about the heartwarming stories and poems, and the remarkable photography of  each dog. 

But there’s another element of the book that I want to bring into the light—the design. 

When I had the idea for Gone Dogs in 2014, the first person I talked to was my wife. The next was someone I respect in the publishing industry. The next was Laurie Smithwick, a friend since the mid-2000s, who is also one of the most talented designers I’ve ever known. And, being in advertising, I’ve known plenty. If this book was going to become a thing, Laurie was the person I wanted marching this long road with me. Because I knew she was the one who would make it beautiful. 

Boy did she. 

From a design standpoint, I only had one suggestion—that my dog Sydney be on the cover. That was it. Everything else was Laurie. 

From the moment you hold the book in your hands, you feel its quality. When you open the cover,  you’re hit with a green full-bleed liner that she custom created. (The one in the back of the book might look the same, but it’s actually different.) The weight of the pages, Laurie. The composition of the stories, Laurie. And the photography, as beautiful as it is, was sent from people all over the world in multiple formats and resolutions, and all required intense Photoshop work. Laurie. 

But there’s something else that to me is the most important design element in the book. 

Every story and poem begins on a left page. Clearly not all of the stories/poems are the same length, so some of the them also ended on a left page. Which meant we had to decide what to do with the empty right page. It was something we thought a lot about. Then one day Laurie said, “I have an idea.” 

The result of her idea is the brightly colored pages that complete stories that end on a left page, with an outline of a dog in white on the right page. Simple. Elegant. Beautiful. Right? 

But there’s more. 

They’re not just outlines of dogs. They’re not even just outlines of the kinds of dogs in the story they bookend. 

They’re holes. 

Every dog lover knows, when a dog dies it leaves a hole in your heart. A hole in your life. 

This seemingly innocuous design element is actually a stroke of genius, and precisely why I wanted Laurie on this project back in 2014. 

When I asked her about these “holes,” she told me that the idea is from a line in the book, “The God of Small Things,” by Arundhati Roy, which reads, “Joe was dead now. Killed in a car crash. Dead as a doorknob. A Joe-shaped hole in the Universe.” 

“I read the ‘The God of Small Things’ in 1998. That line has stayed with me ever since. And seemed like a perfect fit for our book.”  – Laurie Smithwick

Design is important, kids. And this book is as much a tribute to great design as it is the dogs who grace its pages. Thanks to Laurie.

Gone Dogs. It’s about love. ❤️


In case you missed it, Gone Dogs was featured on WCNC’s Charlotte Today show on Friday! This on the heels of a segment on WFAE’s Charlotte Talks earlier this month.

We’re into month two of our book being unleashed in the world, and the early feedback is amazing! 

If you’ve bought our book, thank you. Really. Now we need to ask for your help in spreading the word. If you could post about it in your social streams, please link back to our main site GoneDogs.com. And if you could leave a review on Amazon, that would be huge for us. You see, Amazon prioritizes reviews based on “verified” purchases. Yours carries weight. Products with more reviews (especially “verified” purchases) influence the Amazon algorithm when someone searches for something similar (such as “Dog books,” for example.) It’s a great way for us to extend the reach of our book beyond our immediate networks. Thank you. 

Now for some cool news —

Gone Dogs on WFAE Charlotte Talks

October 3: We will be on WFAE’s Charlotte Talks discussing our book. You can access the WFAE site here, and listen online. The show airs at 9 a.m. and again at 7 p.m.. Click here for more details.

Gone Dogs on WCNC Charlotte Today

October 18: We will be on WCNC’s Charlotte Today show talking about the book at 11 a.m. Click here for more details

Gone Dogs launch party at Moxie Mercantile

November 2: Come out to Moxie Mercantile on Commonwealth in Charlotte for our official launch party! The event runs from 1-4 p.m. and we’ll be doing meet and greets, author readings, and have plenty of books on hand. It’s also Moxie’s 4th anniversary so come out and enjoy the festivities. Click here for more info on the launch event.

We’re also lining up other events in the region so be sure to follow us on Facebook to stay on top of all the happenings. 

In case you didn’t know, we are donating one dollar of every book sale to Best Friends Animal Society. Please take a moment to check out this wonderful organization.

Best Friends Animal Society and Gone Dogs

Thank you again for being a fan. We are delighted that so many people love it. It feels wonderful to spread some light in the world. 

Gone Dogs – It’s About Love ❤️

It’s taken more than five years, and a ton of learning on the fly, but folks––we have a book.

Thank you for your patience all these years

Rather than bore you with details on the challenges associated with launching a crowd-sourced, self-published, hardcover coffee table book with no prior experience, just know that Laurie and I were pretty demanding about every detail. Our goal was to set something loose in the world that reflected the love that each author poured into the stories of their gone dogs.

We’re very happy with how it turned out.

Buy the book today and judge for yourself. We’re gonna bet that you agree.

Because, if you love dogs you’ll love this book.

Because it’s about love. ❤️


After six weeks and five judges reading nearly 100 entries submitted for our maiden volume of Gone Dogs, we’ve selected 50 stories to be part of our book. And boy, what stories. 

I can now say that what started out as a dream in 2014 is about to become a reality later this year and I couldn’t be prouder. This book is going to be great. Everyone you know who loves dogs is going to want it. 

I was speaking with someone recently who mentioned how much he a loved certain novel about a dog. I said, “Yes, it is a great book. About one dog. This book is about 50.”

So what happens next? Well, now we get busy doing … everything. From copy editing and photo editing, to book layout, proofreading, and more, we will be pretty busy for the next few months. After that, it’s on to publishing. As you wait (patiently) please keep in mind there are just two of us managing this project, and it’s not our full-time gig. That said, we are committed to having our book in everyone’s hands by Christmas. (We’ll give plenty of notice about preorders once we figure out that engine.) 

We’ve also had a lot of people ask about Volume 2 and when they can submit their Gone Dogs story. We are intentionally holding off on opening up for submissions again until we get this first book down the road a little farther. The submission engine we used the first time was a little glitchy and we need to reassess. Please be patient, and know there will be a Volume 2. 

We wanted to give a special thanks to our judges, Judy Goldman, Ken Wheaton, and Stephanie Whetstone – outstanding writers who volunteered their time, and no doubt went through a lot of tissues to read each entry and help make Gone Dogs the best book possible. Both me and Laurie also read each story, and were overwhelmed with such beautiful tributes. 

Finally, a huge thanks to everyone who participated in our first ever call-for-entries. You are the heroes here. And while we couldn’t take every story submitted, every story submitted was a gift. We all know dogs love their people, but now I know just how much people love their dogs. Thank you for sharing yours with us. 

Here we go.