Author Archives: katieslivensky

Blast Off

I’ve launched.

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THE COUNTDOWN CONSPIRACY has completed its countdown. We’re out there, now. Spreading adventure, science, and engineering to readers around the world.

And so it’s time for me to step away from my EMU nest.

This is unexpectedly one of the hardest things I’ve had to do so far. It’s the end of the beginning, and I’m not sure I’m ready. Nicely, however, I’ve made a lot of friends during the beginning, and they’re coming with me as we all venture into the next phase of our careers. So that is making the transition a little easier.

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It’s odd to be on this side of the launch. Everything seemed to build up to that one magic moment when my book hit shelves. I can’t help but compare it to what happened when Curiosity landed on Mars. Anyone who knows me knows how much the Curiosity rover inspired my debut, and now, it continues to inspire me.

When Curiosity landed on Mars in 2012, all anyone could talk about was the tremendous feat it took to get it there. The nail-biting landing sequence. The cheers when it successfully set down.

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But landing was only the beginning of Curiosity’s job. Its real work started when its wheels touched the Martian surface. And I feel that way about my debut.

We made it. We’re here. Let’s celebrate.

But also…let’s get started. It’s time to dig in and do what we came here to do.

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Lots of love to my fellow EMUs who have been a part of my journey. It’s been an honor to share in this experience with you all.

Onward.


Katie Headshot.jpgKatie Slivensky’s debut novel (THE COUNTDOWN CONSPIRACY) released on  August 1st, 2017 with HarperCollins Children’s.

Katie is a science educator at the Museum of Science in Boston, where she coordinates school visits, does live presentations, and runs the rooftop observatory program. She lives in a suburb of Boston with her two completely absurd cats, Galileo and Darwin, and is represented by Ammi-Joan Paquette.

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Interview with LOST BOYS agent: Erin Murphy

It’s launch week for Darcey Rosenblatt’s LOST BOYS! I’m here to kick things off with an interview with Darcey’s wonderful agent, Erin Murphy.

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LOST BOYS is the tale of twelve-year-old Reza, who has no interest in joining Iran’s war effort against Iraq. But in the wake of a tragedy and at his mother’s urging, he decides to enlist, and unfortunately soon finds himself held in a prisoner-of-war camp in Iraq. This book is based on historical events from the 1980s, and is a story of friendship, heartbreak, and survival.

Onto the interview!

1. What first piqued your interest about Darcey Rosenblatt’s debut, LOST BOYS?

Well, the first thing that piqued my interest was Darcey herself. We’d crossed paths several times over the years at conferences, and I thought highly of her from those meet-ups and from things I’ve heard from EMLA clients who know her. I’d even read a much-earlier version on submission years before, and had reluctantly passed on it because I didn’t quite get a shivery feeling when I read it.

When I read it again three years ago, WOW. It had sharpened and had such a sense of immediacy. I loved Reza, the protagonist, from the first page. I especially loved that Darcey showed a spectrum of Muslim believers, from devout to moderate to questioning. Darcey says in the book’s author’s note, “I’ve always been interested in the journey we take from the religious ideas and practices of our parents to owning our own beliefs.” I have, too, and I was intrigued to see that explored with Islam in particular, which we have seen so little of in American books for children.

2. Darcey has talked about all the research that went into this novel. What is something you’ve learned from this story that you didn’t know about before?

The Iran-Iraq War began when I was an eleven-year-old kid living in Arizona, and I hadn’t had cause to explore the history before, so the entire context of the story was new to me. I most definitely didn’t know there had been child soldiers who had volunteered and who were used to clear minefields.

3. What was your thought process like when submitting the manuscript for consideration at Henry Holt?

I had met with Sally Doherty, the acquiring editor, shortly before I went out on submission with the manuscript. She’s someone I adore working with but had always thought of for picture books, easy readers, and young chapter books, so I had been surprised when she mentioned particularly loving historical fiction and multicultural novels. The timing was perfect. When Sally wrote to me after reading it, she said, “Just finished this, and I LOVE it! Wow. Is this really the author’s first book?” Exactly the kind of reaction we dream of! Too, I think Macmillan, which Holt is a part of, has a great presence in the school and library market, which is key for this title.

4.What is your favorite thing about working with Darcey?

She somehow manages to be both grounded and giddy. It truly is hard to believe this is her debut, as she is SUCH a pro—handling things on her own but always looping me in and completely open to course correction and advice. The best kind of partner! I think she found six or eight sensitivity readers for this project so she could do as much as possible to be sure she hadn’t wrongly portrayed key details, nuance, or big-picture things that only Persians would know. Even when she got positive feedback, she kept going—several of these readers were found after the galley went to print, she was so determined to do everything she could, as someone writing out of her own culture, to make sure she hadn’t missed anything. When we approached her publication date, the way she juggled all the details of upcoming launch events, teacher’s guide planning, and publicity was so incredible that I actually took an email that she sent to her editors and publicist at Macmillan and shared it with the other EMLA agents as an example of how to effectively collaborate with a publishing team.

5. What experience do you hope readers have with this novel?

I hope they find this to be a riveting story that is hard to put down, as I did! I hope that readers who find themselves alone and in desperate circumstances, whatever those might be, will see in Reza a friend who found his way through a war and emerged in a place of hope. I hope they are inspired.


I hope so, as well, Erin! Big congratulations and best of luck to Darcey on her debut, and if you’re interested in learning more about this book, return to our blog each day this week for new posts!
LOST BOYS can be found at your local bookstore, or online at:

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This. Is. It.

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This is it.

Today is the day kids will get a chance to meet Miranda. And Ruby. And Esteban, and Najma, and Tomoki, and Rahim, and Anna. This is the day I get to introduce my kids to kids in real life.

I have waited so long for this day. I still don’t quite believe it is happening.

Just over two years ago, I got the call that every writer dreams of getting. And that night, as I lay in bed, the giddiness still bouncing around in me, it hit me: kids were going to meet Miranda. A young girl out there somewhere might someday pick up my book, read about Miranda and all her determination, self-doubt, grit, and drive to become an astronaut, and maybe…relate. Maybe be inspired to achieve her own personal goal.

That was the moment it felt real.

And today, it doesn’t just feel real. It is real. It’s happening.

I wrote this book for a lot of reasons. But one of which was the desire to share the excitement of space travel with as many kids as I could. And after years of writing and revising, of querying agents, of being on submission with publishers, of doing rounds of edits with my editor, and of simply waiting, today is the day kids get to read my book.

Wow.

I have a lot of people to thank for getting my novel (and me) to this time and place. My family. My friends. My writing group. My agent. My editor. My whole team at HarperCollins. My fellow EMUs. My cats.

But honestly, the people I should thank the most are the kids I have had the honor of teaching in my various roles throughout my life. Some of you I got to know for long stretches. Most of you were one face in a crowd of hundreds during a 20-50 minute presentation. But all of you mattered, because it was your energy, enthusiasm, and curiosity that inspired me to write this book, and to keep writing books.

Whenever you’d gasp when I brought out Gollum or Norman (two charismatic prehensile-tailed skinks) to climb up my gloved arm, or laugh at my bad jokes as I taught you Newton’s Laws using bright orange carts to knock over giant grey plastic boxes, or cheer when the first bolt of lightning leapt from the Van de Graaff generator, or shoot all your hands into the air when I asked what your favorite dinosaur was, or fall into an almost reverent silence when the lights dimmed and the stars turned on and you got to take in the beauty of space…

All of that. All of that and more. You’re who I’m writing for. So thank you for being you, and I hope my books can help keep that wonder in your eyes for as long as possible.

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Katie Headshot.jpgKatie Slivensky’s debut novel (THE COUNTDOWN CONSPIRACY) releases on  August 1st, 2017 with HarperCollins Children’s.

Katie is a science educator at the Museum of Science in Boston, where she coordinates school visits, does live presentations, and runs the rooftop observatory program. She lives in a suburb of Boston with her two completely absurd cats, Galileo and Darwin, and is represented by Ammi-Joan Paquette.

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WHOdunnit???

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WHO, WHO, WHO doesn’t love a good mystery? Jason’s WHOBERT WHOVER, OWL DETECTIVE, is a delightful read that introduces young kids to the mystery genre through clever phrasing and hilarious illustrations. It’s sure to be a hit and become a childhood favorite for many kids!

As part of this week’s celebratory posts, I asked fellow EMUs what mysteries they remember loving from their childhoods.


For me, I berenstainbearsandthemissingdinosaurboneread all kinds of mysteries. But my earliest memory of a mystery I loved was THE BERENSTAIN BEARS AND THE MISSING DINOSAUR BONE. I enjoyed it so much, that later in life it became my go-to book to take to houses I’d babysit at, so I could share it with other kids!

As it turns out, I also loved a lot of the same mysteries as my fellow EMUS, so down memory lane we go!

 

Debbi says:ND1tsotoc

Here’s a funny-strange thing about me – as a child, I scared easily and did NOT like mysteries, and yet, I read them anyway. (I still scare easily as an adult so Whobert Whover is the perfect mystery for me.) As a child I LOVED the Nancy Drew series, but the covers scared me so much that I had to hide the books at night. I think I enjoyed RE-reading them more than reading them for the first time, because it was less scary once I knew everything was going to be okay. 🙂

 

Encyclopedia_Brown,_Boy_Detective_(1963)Sarvinder says:

I loved Encyclopedia Brown. I remember when I first read a book from the series. I was hooked. I don’t remember which title I read, but I remember the answer to the mystery, the clue that solved it, was that gold was too heavy to have been carried. I learned that gold is heavy! Encyclopedia Brown is so smart!

 

Christina says:

I love a good mystery, I have ever since discovering the Encyclopedia Brown series  – as nate the greatan affirmed geek, I got so excited to read about a smart kid who used his smarts to fix problems in his neighborhood, and to pit  my own brain against the same challenges.  And I liked John Keane’s books about dog detective Sherlock Bones, another animal sleuth like Whobert! But my favorite was Marjorie Weiman Sharmat’s Nate the Great series.  I loved how there were all these pets involved with the main characters, particularly Nate’s lovable dog Sludge and the deliciously creepy neighbor Rosamond’s four cats, Super Hex, Big Hex, Plain Hex, and Little Hex. I never had a cat or dog growing up, and there was just something about these kids going around and solving their own kid-size mysteries with their pets by their sides that appealed to me over and over again.

Hey, I’m just noticing something – all of these are series of books.  Is it possible Whobert will return to try to solve Who-Who-Who done it again in the future? Here’s hoping!


And that brings us to Jason himself! What mystery inspired him as a child? None other than the amazing television series, Ghostwriter!

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Jason says:

When I was a kid there was this show called Ghostwriter that I was robsessed with. This group of teens solved crimes with the help of an actual ghost they called Ghostwriter. Ghostwriter could move letters around that were near the wee detectives, giving them clues to whatever conundrum they were trying to solve. Between Ghostwriter and Casper, I was very pro-ghost in my childhood.


Jason, I think I speak for all of us when I say that we’d LOVE to see you take on a 90s-style-friendly-ghost-helps-kids-solve-mysteries project in the future! But in the meantime, CONGRATULATIONS on your launch of WHOBERT WHOVER, OWL DETECTIVE!


Katie Headshot.jpgKatie Slivensky’s debut novel (THE COUNTDOWN CONSPIRACY) releases on  August 1st, 2017 with HarperCollins Children’s.

Katie is a science educator at the Museum of Science in Boston, where she coordinates school visits, does live presentations, and runs the rooftop observatory program. She lives in a suburb of Boston with her two completely absurd cats, Galileo and Darwin, and is represented by Ammi-Joan Paquette.

 

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Better

I’m going on 2 years here on EMU’s Debuts. I’m going on 8 years of working towards being a professional author. And I’m going on 32 years of being a writer.

And I have to say: I’ve gotten better at my craft.

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It doesn’t always feel like I’ve improved. A lot of the time, I feel like I have no idea what I’m doing and I’m one giant faker. But stepping back, looking objectively at my writing, the kind of notes I get from critique partners, my agent, and my editor…

I’ve gotten better.

This is a really important thing for me to state publicly. I struggle with Imposter Syndrome at levels higher than I can possibly sum up in a blog post, but as I know so many other authors who struggle with it, too, I want to share this sentiment.

I’ve gotten better. And you’ve gotten better. (And you! And YOU! And YOU!)

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You’ve all gotten better, I swear. You’re doing great. And you’ll keep getting better.

I’ve written in the past about the stress of turning around a second book super fast after my first one, and how I felt like I could never live up to the writing in my Book 1 with such little time to work with. But honestly, upon reflection, going through some of the final rounds of edits on Book 2… it’s a pretty darn good story. I don’t know if it lives up to Book 1, but it’s startlingly well put together for how little time I’ve had to devote to it. A few years ago, I never could have written something at this level this fast. (Don’t get me wrong–4 years winning NaNoWriMo straight certainly taught me to write fast, but to write well fast? That’s a different story.)

I’m not writing this post to brag about my Book 2. Honestly, I have no idea how it will be received. I just know how I feel about it. And right now, I feel like it’s still kind of a mess. But a proud mess. With lots of good parts. A mess that can be cleaned up into something I’m reasonably happy having published–and something I never could have written a few years ago.

So take pride in your messes. They’re coming together in ways you never could have dreamed about in your past, no matter how sloppy they feel to you in the moment. There’s so much rejection and criticism in this business, that sometimes, we have to be reminded that we have things to celebrate, too. And one of those things is the simple but crucial fact that we’ve all gotten better.

Way to go, us!

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Katie Headshot.jpgKatie Slivensky’s debut novel (THE COUNTDOWN CONSPIRACY) tells the story of a 13 year-old robotics whiz who is thrilled to be chosen to train for an international mission to Mars, but soon finds herself and her fellow cadets in a situation far more dire and deadly than any of them could have imagined. Publication is set for August 1st, 2017 with HarperCollins Children’s.

Katie is a science educator at the Museum of Science in Boston, where she coordinates school visits, does live presentations, and runs the rooftop observatory program. She lives in a suburb of Boston with her two completely absurd cats, Galileo and Darwin, and is represented by Ammi-Joan Paquette.

Visit Katie on Twitter (@paleopaws) or on her website, www.katieslivensky.com.

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Writers Need Cats

Writers need cats. Not to say that other pets aren’t lovely, as well. In fact, I don’t consider myself a strictly cat person–more of an “everything” person (bring on the critters!). But when it comes down to it, as a writer, there’s no better companion than a cat. Or two. (Or more.)

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Meet Galileo. He’s my 9 year-old cat, and resident mischievous genius. He’s been with me since nearly day 1 of my journey to publication. Whenever I would get frustrated or down, he’s always be there for me, doing something absolutely absurd to distract me. Sure, that “something” often is breaking through child safety locks to open up cupboards and pull out every item he can get his paws on, but the point stands. Cats provide much needed levity and laughter, and sometimes even remind a person to get out of their writing chair and move around. Quickly. No, seriously. Hurry! Catch him before he–! …Too late, there goes everything from the medicine cabinet.

 

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Meet Darwin. He’s my four year-old cat, and is Galileo’s polar opposite. To be honest, not a lot happening upstairs with him, but he’s a sweetheart and impossible not to love. He came home with me a month before I signed with my agent, Joan, so he just as tied to my writing journey as Galileo. Darwin is a simple cat of simple needs. He is a wonderful reminder to stop and look out the window at the trees and the birds. While Galileo provides distraction, Darwin provides peace. Both are needed in a writer’s life.

Cats are natural writing companions. They are usually totally cool with sitting around, doing nothing, hanging out with their favorite person. They love routine, which writers tend to cling to for dear life, so that works out well. They like warm places, so your writerly blanket fort + coffee/tea nook is an inviting space for them to curl up and cuddle next to you in. They’re relatively independent, so when you get absorbed in your work, that’s A-OK. Usually. Unless it is time to eat, which honestly? Is a good reminder for you, too!

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Food time! Darwin begs for food by sitting next to me on the floor and opening his mouth wide, hoping I will put something in it. Galileo begs for food by…

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Well, let’s just say Galileo doesn’t beg. He lays claim.

Anyway, now that your cats have reminded you to feed them and yourself, let’s move onto another benefit. Cats keep the mind active! For example: “What was that noise?” “What’s he getting into in the other room?” “Oh my gosh, why is there toilet paper EVERYWHERE?!” These are important questions in any manuscript. Uh…well, maybe not, but they certainly keep an author on their toes! And that in turn, helps us keep our manuscripts full of surprises and plot twists.

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Speaking of mental challenges, how many cats are in the picture above? Just one? Look closer! Cats are great at hiding–just like our character motivations, or the solution to the plot hole you’ve dug yourself into. Odds are, the answer is in plain sight. We just need to look again in a different way.

Finally, cats are wonderful at helping you celebrate your big moments. Like when I got my ARCs in the mail last November, Darwin helped me inspect the box to make sure it wasn’t going to come alive and kill us all, and Galileo helped me by modeling for a photo-shoot. Thanks, guys! You made this milestone even more special.

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So have I convinced you to get a cat yet? Maybe not. But all us cool authors have them, so if you think you have a good home for a feline companion, talk to your local shelters and take your next step on the road to becoming a professional author!


Katie Headshot.jpgKatie Slivensky’s debut novel (THE COUNTDOWN CONSPIRACY) tells the story of a 13 year-old robotics whiz who is thrilled to be chosen to train for an international mission to Mars, but soon finds herself and her fellow cadets in a situation far more dire and deadly than any of them could have imagined. Publication is set for August 1st, 2017 with HarperCollins Children’s.

Katie is a science educator at the Museum of Science in Boston, where she coordinates school visits, does live presentations, and runs the rooftop observatory program. She lives in a suburb of Boston with her two completely absurd cats, Galileo and Darwin, and is represented by Ammi-Joan Paquette.

Visit Katie on Twitter (@paleopaws) or on her website, www.katieslivensky.com.

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The Terrible Twos …Book 2, that is.

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What does it mean when a debut author talks about writing “Book 2”? Well, it certainly doesn’t mean that the author is writing their second story ever. In actuality, most people’s Book 2s are their fifth, tenth, or twentieth full novels. For me, it’s my thirteenth. I think. I have sort of lost track by this point.

When an author says they are working on Book 2, they usually mean they’re working on the next manuscript that they plan on publishing. In my case, I have a two book deal with my publisher, so my Book 2 fulfills this second novel of that deal.

It’s intimidating to write a Book 2! Struggling with Book 2 is something that seems to unite all debut authors, more than any other stress of the “new author” process.

It may be because it’s what we’re writing while in the middle of editing our debuts, or in the middle of learning how to do all the other things associated with debuting (*cough*marketing*cough*). It may be because it’s the first new words we have written since our ability as a writer was finally validated–and with first drafts always being terrible, we feel like fakes and failures just looking at our feeble attempts at a new story. It may be because we’re on faster timelines to produce material than we are used to being on. And it definitely may be because the pressure to perform is now on like it never had been before.

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Whatever the reason, Book 2 SUCKS. It SUCKS, man. S.U.C.K.S.

The good news is that most of this is in our minds. The better news is, it doesn’t always suck.

I just finished my first truly solid draft of my Book 2. And guess what? I like it.

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I spent months crafting it, hating almost every second. But now that I’ve shaped it into something resembling a proper novel? It’s not so bad. It’s actually pretty good. Well, I think it is. (I’m sure my opinion will change in a week or two, so I’m soaking in these positive feelings while I can!)

The point of this post is to give hope to debut authors who are in the throes of drafting that dreaded Book 2. First, you are not alone. Second, you are doing a good job. Really. Your Book 2 is wonderful, even if you can’t see that for yourself just yet.

You got this! We got this! Go, go, go!


Katie Headshot.jpgKatie Slivensky’s debut novel (THE COUNTDOWN CONSPIRACY) tells the story of a 13 year-old robotics whiz who is thrilled to be chosen to train for an international mission to Mars, but soon finds herself and her fellow cadets in a situation far more dire and deadly than any of them could have imagined. Publication is set for Summer 2017 with HarperCollins Children’s.

Katie is a science educator at the Museum of Science in Boston, where she coordinates school visits, does live presentations, and runs the rooftop observatory program. She lives in a suburb of Boston with her two completely absurd cats, Galileo and Darwin, and is represented by Ammi-Joan Paquette.

Visit Katie on Twitter (@paleopaws) or on her website, www.katieslivensky.com.

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Words.

Words matter.

Words can sway opinions. Words can spark emotions. Words can grant permission–and take it away. Words can chain someone down or raise them up.

Words matter.

As children’s authors, we are the keeper of words for the next generation. We are all part of the education industry and the entertainment industry. We are media.

Our words matter.

History is being written right now because of the power of words. And what a mighty power they wield. It is easy to forget, and easy to ignore, until it isn’t.

I didn’t know at first how I was going to write this blog post. My original post I’d drafted I decided to save for another time. Once Tuesday’s events happened, I knew I would need to have different, better words for today.

And here they are.

Courage.

Kindness.

Empathy.

Love.

Bravery.

Heart.

Small.

Big.

Teacher.

Student.

Voice.

Pride.

Strength.

Compassion.

Together.

Forward.


Katie Headshot.jpgKatie Slivensky’s debut novel (THE COUNTDOWN CONSPIRACY) tells the story of a 13 year-old robotics whiz who is thrilled to be chosen to train for an international mission to Mars, but soon finds herself and her fellow cadets in a situation far more dire and deadly than any of them could have imagined. Publication is set for Summer 2017 with HarperCollins Children’s.

Katie is a science educator at the Museum of Science in Boston, where she coordinates school visits, does live presentations, and runs the rooftop observatory program. She lives in a suburb of Boston with her two completely absurd cats, Galileo and Darwin, and is represented by Ammi-Joan Paquette.

Visit Katie on Twitter (@paleopaws) or on her website, www.katieslivensky.com.

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Jim Key Pledge of Kindness

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The launch week for Donna Janell Bowman’s STEP RIGHT UP continues! Between roughly 1898-1906, around two million people signed the original Jim Key Pledge of Kindness towards animals, which you can read the introduction of above. Most of the signatures were from kids! Today, our EMUs share personal moments of kindness towards animals. Be sure to read all the way to the end to check out Donna Janell Bowman’s revised Pledge of Kindness! And also, of course, for a chance to win a copy of her debut!

Little Jason Wanted to Rescue a Dog

I was a persistent little thing when I was a kid. When my family decided to move out of the big city of Spokane, Washington, to the small town of Deer Park, WA, I was convinced we needed another dog to go with all the extra acreage. My parents were pretty neutral about the idea, so I said, “Why don’t we just go to the shelter and *look* at dogs. We don’t have to get one.” In my mind, however, I was thinking, “I’m not walking out of that shelter without a dog,” which in hindsight I’m pretty sure Mom and Dad knew. I walked through the front door of that shelter, pointed at the first dog I saw, and said, “I want that one.” I don’t even think I fully saw what the cute canine was, I just really, REALLY wanted a new puppy. I’m so glad the first dog I saw was Shilo. She was the sweetest border collie/black lab mix with a heart of gold and a tail that could do more damage than a baseball bat. Like, Carrie Underwood should have trashed that truck in the music video of “Before He Cheats” with Shilo’s tail. – Jason Gallaher

Hayley’s Sister Spent the Night in a Kennel

My look-a-like sister spent 24 hrs. in a kennel recently to raise money for Cape Ann Animal Aid. There’s a picture too! – Hayley Barrett

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Terry found an unexpected friend at the beach!

My problem is figuring out which rescue animal to choose from. All but one of our pets are rescue animals, but the one that truly needed rescuing because she was homeless was our 14543720_10210872113177661_6213554251607200980_odog, Rin. We had driven to a favorite windsurfing site for a week of vacation. After we’d parked, we opened the door, and a dog jumped in our van, right on my 6-year old son’s lap! We asked around trying to find the owner. Finally, one of the local windsurfers told us that the week before, he saw someone drive up, open their door and kick the dog out; then drove away. I was so angry at their cruelty! But it was soon tempered by the kindness of the local windsurfers, who had been taking care of her, trading off “dog duty” until they could find someone to adopt her. In that week, she and my son were inseparable. She was sweet, smart, loyal and affectionate, and I still can’t figure out why anyone would have abandoned her like that, or how they could be so cruel to just dump a her. But Rin soon became a member of our family and we loved her until she passed away at age 17 (the vet estimated she was a year old when she came into our lives).

After Rin passed away, we adopted two cats from a rescue center, one of which has vision problems and allergy issues…he soon became my “co-author” cat! (See, I could go on and on…). – Terry Pierce

Debbi rescues raptors!

When I was in college (a long time ago), I spent 3 years volunteering at a raptor rehabilitation center. I helped care for injured and orphaned owls, hawks, vultures, and eagles. I did education programs visiting area schools and organizations with (unreleasable) raptors. It was especially rewarding to release rehabilitated raptors back into the wild. That was many years ago. But three years ago, after we moved to Connecticut, I was sitting in my writing studio that overlooks a pond, and saw an osprey in the water! I was so excited! I ran to get my camera, hoping she wouldn’t fly away. She hadn’t. I snapped photo after photo. After awhile though, I wondered why she hadn’t flown away and waIMG_0353sn’t moving at all. I realized belatedly that she was in distress. The pond is mucky and I didn’t have waders so I asked the guy mowing our lawn for help (he had waders). We got the osprey out of the pond and into a carrier and I took her to the nearby rescue center. Turned out she was fine, just waterlogged. After rest and hydration, she was released and she flew away. YAY! – Debbi Michiko Florence

Katie became a Mouse Mom!

In my late teens, I worked at a zoo and one day came in to find a surprise. My coworkers had found a stranded baby mouse in the pony yard the day before. Clearly one of the barn mice mothers had lost a kiddo! It barely had fur, its eyes and ears were shut, and I was pretty sure it was dead when they showed it to me. They’d left it overnight already in a box with no warmth, no milk, nothing. But for whatever reason, they were sure I would be the one to bring it back to life. My coworkers begged me to take charge of it.

cheezitmeasureSince it wasn’t dead yet, I felt I had to at least try. I spent all day holding it, trying to warm it up, and trying to get it to drink at least a lick of milk. At the end of the day, I was about to give up and sadly place the mouse in the bushes to let nature take its course. But just then–a tiny pink tongue stuck out and took a small sip of the milk I’d been offering it. It was alive after all! And in a single moment, my heart was stolen.

We named him Cheezit because the box he was originally kept in, and after research told me he wouldn’t survive in the wild if I released him as an adult, he became my little buddy for nearly four years. Video here. – Katie Slivensky


Being kind to animals is something everyone is capable of. Doc Key knew this, and created his pledge to encourage others to embrace kindness over cruelty. Here is Donna’s updated and more inclusive version of the pledge. Soon, it will be downloadable, with original art, from Donna’s website.  Let’s make this a thing again, friends!

The Jim Key Pledge of Kindness

I promise to step right up and choose kindness.

I will respect the needs and feelings of others, including

furry, feathered, and finned friends.

I will share kind words, do good deeds, and help those in need—

because kindness can change the world. 

X___________

 Kindness, kindness, and more kindness—that’s the way.”

                           –William “Doc” Key

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You can grab your own copy of Donna Janell Bowman’s STEP RIGHT UP on October 15 at IndieBound, Barnes & Noble and Amazon. Donna is also giving away a signed copy of her book! All you have to do is comment on any of the posts celebrating Donna’s launch this week, and a winner will be randomly selected.

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“I Don’t Know.”

When you land that book deal, it’s tempting to think that you’ve got the writing business figured out. But as soon as people begin asking you questions, you realize…

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(Confession: I’ve never read nor watched Game of Thrones, but I’m a meme addict, so there you go.)

The conversation usually goes something like this:

“Wow! You have a book deal? That’s so cool! When can I buy it?”

“I don’t know.”

“Well, what’s the cover look like so I’ll know it when I see it?”

“I don’t know.”

“What’s the title?”

“I don’t know.”

“What’s it about?”

“I DON’T KNOW!”

Okay, as the author, you should probably know the answer to that last one. Though I won’t fault you for saying, “I don’t know” to that question, either. (I’ve done it.)

Eventually, you do start collecting answers to these questions. But the process is long, and the people in your life probably have no concept of how the publishing business works. It was half a year after my deal announcement before I had a title for my book (it was changed from its original). It was another six months later that I found out what the cover will look like (though I still can’t share it with anyone). As to when my book comes out…

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Next summer? At some point?

The thing is, this is normal. It’s normal to not have all the answers–or any of the answers!–as you head down a new road. Well-meaning friends will ask you all sorts of things you can’t answer, and you just have to live with that fact. It’s part of the journey. And what a journey to be on! I don’t think anyone would trade it for anything.

“When will it be on Amazon pre-order?”

“I don’t know.”

“Will you do a book tour?”

“I don’t know.”

“How long will your edits take?”

“I don’t know.”

“Will I ever see you again?”

*sticks head out of revision cave for a moment, squints in the sunlight* “…I don’t know.”

If this sounds obnoxious, don’t worry. Every now and again, you’ll get a question that you do know the answer to.

“So, are you going to quit your day job and buy a mansion in the countryside?”

“Hahaha, NO!”


Katie Headshot.jpgKatie Slivensky’s debut novel (THE COUNTDOWN CONSPIRACY) tells the story of a 13 year-old robotics whiz who is thrilled to be chosen to train for an international mission to Mars, but soon finds herself and her fellow cadets in a situation far more dire and deadly than any of them could have imagined. Publication is set for Summer 2017 with HarperCollins Children’s.

Katie is a science educator at the Museum of Science in Boston, where she coordinates school visits, does live presentations, and runs the rooftop observatory program. She lives in a suburb of Boston with her two completely absurd cats, Galileo and Darwin, and is represented by Ammi-Joan Paquette.

Visit Katie on Twitter (@paleopaws) or on her website, www.katieslivensky.com.

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