Thursday, March 31, 2011

Fido and Friend in Five: Kathryn Erskine and Maxine!

Kathryn Erskine
When Kathy Erskine's tender, gorgeous, funny, heartbreaking book Mockingbird was named the winner of the National Book Award for 2010, several of us in my library did The Happy Dance! Granted, it was a rather subdued Happy Dance because we were, after all, in a library. But celebrate we did because we all loved that book. It's a book I clutch to my chest when I'm talking to a young reader and say, "I love this book and hope you will too." And they do! So I felt so much pleasure (and surprise) when I received an enthusiastic "yes" back from Kathy when I asked her if she'd like to be spotlighted in Fido and Friends. Her books have won every award practically known to man--National Book Award, ALA Best Fiction for Young Adults, Junior Library Guild Selection--I could go on and on. But you know what I've discovered doing this blog? It doesn't matter how "famous" they are or how busy they are, dog people have big hearts and they just LOVE to talk about their dogs! So without further ado, I give you the amazing Kathryn Erskine and the marvelous Maxine!
Marvelous Maxine

1. How did you and Maxine find each other?  After I lost my Australian Shepherd, Cody, and my kids were clamoring for a new dog, I told them absolutely not--I needed a long time to heal. Within weeks I was making clandestine visits to the local animal shelter. My husband still teases me about receiving my guilty phone call:
          "Um, can you come see this really sweet dog?"
          "At the animal shelter--I just happened to drive by--really--I didn't mean to!"
          Loud laughter on the other end of the phone.

2. What makes Maxine's tail wag?  Family, friends, visitors, food, play, walk, run...basically life!

3. What's your all-time favorite dog story?  There are so many great dog stories, but I think I'll have to go with Farley Mowat's The Dog Who Wouldn't Be (smile-one of my favorites too!)

Take me out, and I'll be good
4. If Maxine could change just one thing about you, what would it be?  I think Maxine would like me to take more walks. We go for a very long walk every day, but she'd much prefer multiple long walks. If it gets much beyond "walk time" and I'm still at my computer, she'll go through the various hint stages of increasing desperation:
1. Sit and stare
2. Wag
3. Sigh, loudly and repeatedly
4. Moan
5. Look at door (message: "OUT, NOW!") next to my computer. Look at me. Look at door. Look at me. Repeat as needed.
6. Put snout under typing arm and flip hand off the keyboard, then smile and wag.
7. BARK!
It's hard to keep saying no after all that effort.

Maxine in her walkin'shoes
5. In five words, tell us what Maxine means to you:  Joy. Enthusiasm. Loyalty. Love Sponge.

Thanks so much for stopping by, Kathy and Maxine! Now get out for a good long walk.

To find out more about Kathryn and her books (her newest book The Absolute Value of Mike has already been picked as a Junior Library Guild Selection!), visit her at her website

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Fido and Friend in Five: Corinne Humphrey and Rudy!

Corinne and Rudy!
There's nothing more fun (in my mind) than an evening spent with good friends, talking endlessly about dogs and writing. And that's just what Corinne and I (and three other amazing authors) will be doing up here in Park City on the evening of April 30th. We will be part of THE literary event of the season when we talk books and dogs at "Authors Unleashed", a benefit for Friends of Animals of Utah. Corinne is one of my good friends up here in the mountains of Park City. There's no one who can light up a room the way she can. She's not just a dreamer, Corinne is a do-er! Several years ago, she retired from years of working as a stewardess for Delta airlines and threw herself in pursuing her dream of being an artist. Which she did with her trademark zeal and optimism. About that same time, she decided it was time to add a canine companion to her life. Not only did she find just that when she adopted Rudy, but she also found a muse for her work. The end result was her self-published, multi-award winning The Tao of Rudy. After a couple of years of working her tiny tail off promoting her book, the The Tao of Rudy was bought by Chronicle Books. Now it has reincarnated into Shoot for the Moon, with new text inspired by her life with Rudy, accompanied by her wonderfully whimsical artwork.

The Tao of Rudy
1.  How did you and Rudy find each other?  I'd made numerous trips to Friends of Animals of Utah's adoption center, "Furburbia", looking for a canine companion who "connected" with me. Rudy (formerly knows as Bob) was not my first, or second, or even third choice because he'd become kennel aggressive from being in a shelter for so long. The intuitive staff at Furburbia kept pitching him, saying, "Bob's our favorite!" and "...just take him out for a little walk." As soon as we got outside and away from the kennel, he leaned into me and gave me a look with such a mixture of hope and despair, that I was hooked. It's been love ever since!
Shoot for the Moon

2.  What's your all-time favorite dog story?  Mine and Rudy's books, of course, The Tao of Rudy and Shoot for the Moon: Lessons on Life from a Dog Named Rudy.

3.  If Rudy could change just one thing about you, what would that be?  I'd let him chase things!

4.  What makes Rudy's tail wag?  Rudy had been terribly abused, and then spent about three years in various shelters, so it took a year and a half before he wagged his tail. Now when we get ready for our daily walk, or his girlfriends come over to visit him, or I sing his song to him, "When you're happy and you know it, wag your tail," he not only wags his tail, he wags his whole back end!

5.  In five words, tell us what Rudy means to you:  JOY, love, loyalty, humor, and more love!

Thanks Corinne and Rudy!  You can find out more about these two and their books on their website

Watch for details about "Authors Unleashed" coming soon!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Fido and Friend in Five: Anita Silvey and Lancelot!

Anita Silvey
If you're at all associated with the wonderful world of children's books, you know who Anita Silvey is. Doesn't matter if you're a teacher, librarian, author, publisher, or editor--you say Anita Silvey's name and folks smile and nod and say (rather reverentially), "Oh yes, Anita Silvey." And why not? She's done it all.
Henry Knox
100 Best Books for Kids
She is a former publisher with Houghton Mifflin Company, was editor-in-chief for eleven years with the distinguished Horn Book Magazine, and is frequently on NPR, The Today Show, and 60 Minutes discussing and promoting children's literature. As Publisher's Weekly summed up, "It would be hard to find a more authoritative voice than Anita Silvey." And somehow, this woman finds time to write too. She's published numerous books about the best in children's literature and how others have been influenced by books they read when they were young. She just had a new book released she wrote about Henry Knox, illustrated by the extraordinary Wendell Minor.  AND she writes the most wonderful blog, The Childrens Book-A-Day Almanac, which, for many of us, is as important to read every day as it is to brush our teeth! So you can imagine how thrilled (and frankly, amazed) I was when she readily agreed to take time out for my little blog. But Anita loves her dogs. And dog people need to talk about them. So without further ado, here's Anita Silvey and one of her Bernese Mountain Dogs, Lancelot:

Sir Lancelot
1. How did you and Lancelot find each other?  I had been sharing my life with Lady, my ten-year-old Bernese Mountain Dog and decided it was time to add another Bernese to the family. It took me almost nine months to find Lancelot. Bernese are in great demand, and many good breeders only have one litter a year, if that. But finally, after I'd passed all the tests required by the breeder, I traveled to their home in Western Massachusetts to see the puppies, all one-month old. As I went to put my hand in the pen, Lance grabbed onto my finger for dear life. Then, when I picked him up, he started kissing me right away. That pup had moves! He had me, in fact, "from hello,' but was already promised to another. As I was making preparations to pick up my dog, the family who was to get Lance backed out. So he came home with me. A couple of months ago, when Lance began puppy kindergarten, he saw the trainer, walked over, and started kissing her. He's been her favorite ever since--and not because of flawless behavior!

Handsome Lance!
2.  What makes Lance's tail wag?  Upon awakening in his crate, Lance executes a perfect Yoga "downward dog" and his tail begins to move. It continues all day, when I talk to him, when I pet him, or look at him. All food preparation interests Lance--he may want to become a sous-chef--and his tail wags continuously when I'm in the kitchen. At the sight of Lady, his tail goes wild--he is hopelessly in love with her. For some reason, the music "Boston Patriot" for the trailer of my book, Henry Knox, sends him into ecstasy. Who knows why.

Lady and Lancelot
3.  What's your all-time favorite dog book?  I love lots of stories, as long as the dog doesn't die: Lassie Come-Home, Because of Winn Dixie and The Incredible Journey. As you know, I am also a big fan of A Dog's Way Home (blush). Tam reminds me a bit of my Berners.

4. If your dogs could change just one thing about you, what would that be?  Both Lady and Lancelot would be happier if I took many more, and longer, walks, and did not stare at the computer so much. But they support me in my insanity.

5. In five words, tell us what your dogs mean to you:  Companionship, joy, balance, acceptance, and love.        
                                               To find out more about Anita, visit her website
                                                                To see the trailer for her new book Henry Knox

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Fido and Friend in Five: agent Jennifer Laughran and Moxie!

Moxie's Mom
Often, behind every good (and great, and sometimes, not-so-good) author is a literary agent. Like editors, copy editors, jacket artists, production editors, and proof readers, agents are the unsung heros of books. As many authors know, it can be every bit as hard to get an agent for your work as it is to get an editor! Agents have to be passionate about your work and you as a writer. They also need to have editorial skills, marketing savvy, and lots of connections in "the biz." I thank the gods of publishing all the time for my agent! So I'm super happy today to spotlight one of the hardest working agents out there. Jennifer Laughran has been with the Andrea Brown Literary Agency since 2007, where she's had the great good pleasure of representing such authors as Daniel Pinkwater, L.K. Madigan, and Kate Messner, just to name a few. She also has a wonderful blog about the wild and wacky world of publishing and agenting Here, Jennifer takes a break from all her work to talk with me about her relationship with Moxie:

1.  How did you and Moxie find each other?  I never had a dog of my own before, only cats. I was even a little scared of dogs. But still, I always wanted one. When I lived in San Francisco my lease didn't allow me to have a dog, plus I had zero outdoor space. But then when I moved to the Hudson Valley, I had a huge yard just begging for a pup! I decided, since I wasn't even sure I could handle a dog, that I'd try fostering. The rescue organization (Perfect Pets Rescue in Red Hook, NY) matched me up with a little part corgi-part lab named Macadamia. That was sort of a mouthful, so I renamed her Moxie. And every time someone came who wanted to adopt her, I would find some flaw in them (too active! not active enough!) obviously it was meant to be, and I adopted her myself!

2. What makes Moxie's tail wag?  Moxie loves bacon, marrow bones, and going on nice long walks. Come to think of it, so do I!

Moxie window shopping
3.  What's your all-time favorite dog story?  I never actually read dog books growing up. I have a fear of animal-death in books, and also, I was much more of a "cattish" sort of kid. Then my friend (your editor) Molly O'Neill said I should read Tam's story. But I didn't want to because I thought it would be too sad and maybe the dog would die. Molly very gently said, "Hey Jennifer, it's in the title: he gets home!" So...I read it and I loved it. YAY FOR A DOG'S WAY HOME! (blush blush)

4.  If Moxie could change just one thing about you, what would it be?  She would probably make me work less and play more.

Moxie Kisses
5.  In five words, tell us what Moxie means to you:  Bed warmer, comedian, best friend!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Fido and Friend in FIve: Anne Bowen and River!

I Know and Old Teacher
Anne Bowen
I have possibly mentioned once or twice that we have a plethora of talented authors here in Utah! They range from young adult to middle grade to nonfiction to picture book authors. One of my favorite picture book authors (from Utah or anywhere) is my good friend and fellow dog mother, the prolific Anne Bowen. Anne is an inspiration to many of us with her strong work ethic and wicked sense of humor. If you want to know just how "wicked" her humor is, look no further than her book, I Know and Old Teacher, and Tooth Fairy's First Night. And she just loves her dogs and her family, which is reflected in her books, I Loved You Before You Were Born and When You Visit Grandma and Grandpa. Her forth coming picture book, Scooter in the Outside, about an adventurous, lovable dog was inspired by her four-footed friend, River. Let's get to know Anne and River
a little better in today's spotlight!

1. How did you and River find each other?  My son and his wife asked me to take care of River for a few days, then a week, two weeks and soon, River and I became inseparable. As their lives became more involved, my son's family agreed to let me adopt River. It was a good situation for everyone. They could see River whenever they wanted and River and I could see each other all the time!

2. What makes River's tail wag?  When River sees me putting on my running shoes, he knows what's going to happen next. He stands at the door, arffing and aaaroooing, which means, "Hurry! Let's go outside now!" The two of us in the outdoors beneath a blue Utah sky makes us both very happy.

3. What' your all-time favorite dog story?  It's not really a story. It's a poem by Mary Oliver, and I think she captures the essence of dog so well. Here's a few lines: "A dog comes to you and lives with you in your own house, but you do not therefore own her, as you do not own the rain, or the trees, or the laws that pertain to them. A dog can never tell you what she knows from smells of the world, but you know, watching her, that you know almost nothing."

Tooth Fairy's First Night
4.  If River could change just one thing about you, what would it be?  It would be that all I ever do is run or hike with him by my side. We's also stop for a bone along the way.

5. In five words, tell us what you and River mean to each other:  I'm River's girl. He's my boy. (sorry, that was six!)

Thanks Anne and River!  To find out more about Anne and her books, visit her website  And
watch for her River-inspired book, Scooter in the Outside !

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Fido and Friend in Five: Patricia MacLachlan!

Patty, Emmet & Charlie
Yes, dear reader, you read that right: Patricia MacLachlan is on my blog! Besides being an amazing writer of books that have become classics, it turns out Patty is a dog person. And so it only seemed natural for my most excellent editor of A Dog's Way Home to ask her to read my book and, if she liked it, to write a jacket blurb for it. So she did, and she did! Do you know what it feels like to have Patricia MacLachlan say she "just loves" your book? I'll tell you: it feels like a million balloons carrying you away. Besides her beloved Sarah, Plain and Tall, Patty has also written many other books including two books of poetry for kids about dogs: Once I Ate A Pie and I Didn't Do It.  I just LOVE those two books! They so perfectly capture the thoughts and feelings of the dogs.

Even with how busy Patty is, she was most willing to take time out to talk with me about her (and her family's) long-standing love for animals and her dogs, Emmet and Charlie.

1. How did you and your dogs find each other?  Ahh, dogs. I have never been without dogs. They are in my history, my parent's history, and their parents. I was, in truth, named after a favorite dog of my mother's! My oldest son, who's lived and worked in Africa for twenty years (with Jane Goodall) moved into a house with seven dogs. My middle son works in publishing, so he doesn't have a dog right now, though in his he wants at least two beagles. My daughter Emily, with whom I wrote Once I Ate A Pie and I Didn't Do It, two picture books about dogs we know and love, has had three rescue dogs in the past years. She has a rescued Great Pyranees who is the sweetest dog I've ever known, even though he's about 150 pounds! She also has a Texas hound. Neo, the Great Pyr, is in a new novel I have coming out called Waiting for the Magic. I have two Border Terriers named Emmet and Charlie. I've had them since they were puppies.

2. What makes Charlie and Emmet's tails wag?  Food and people make their tails wag! They love all people and their dogs. They also like to watch TV. They've been known to howl at Oprah.

3. If Charlie and Emmet could change just one thing about you, what would it be?  It would be that I have a certain nervous problem that makes me drop food all day.

4. What's your all-time favorite dog story?  Any dog story, including yours! (blush, blush)

5. In five words, tell us what dogs mean to you:  Not sure I can do it in five words, but here's a short story: a dear friend who was my first agent and later my publisher, died suddenly, and I had to speak at his memorial service. I couldn't find anything appropriate to say until I read what one man wrote on his dog's tombstone. This says it all:

                                                             She was not the sunrise.
                                                             She was not the sunset.
                                                             She was the sun.

Thank you Patty and Emmet and Charlie!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

MORE Party Photos and a Video Clip!

Proud Moms of Sheltie

Here's a few more photos and more from the launch of A Dog's Way Home at The King's English Bookshop on Saturday! Thanks to Barbara Edelberg and Sheltie Rescue of Utah for the photos and video clip!
Me and the Sheltie Gang!

And here's a link Barbara just sent me to a little video she made of me reading from my book, if you care to watch.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Book Launch at the King's English!

Darby making friends
Fan T-shirts!
Saturday was the official launch of A Dog's Way Home, hosted by The King's English Bookshop in Salt Lake City! Rachel (both of them) and Anne did a wonderful job setting everything up and making me and all the shelties feel welcome. First of all was this amazing cake! Yes, that's actually icing that makes up the cover of the book. Despite my reservations, no one had trouble eating Tam's head :)  My friend, Susan Hamada and her rescued sheltie, Chloe, introduced me to the standing-room-only crowd, and Barbara and Jim from Sheltie Rescue of Utah brought two of their sweet shelties looking for forever homes.  I talked a bit about what inspired me to write A Dog's Way Home and the trials and tribulations along the way. And then I dove in and read from the book. I did see one or two people out of the corner of my eye wiping away a tear. And then came the signing! Folks were lined up throughout the store. It was gratifying! I got to see old friends and make new ones!
Sweet Tommy
I finally got to meet Shanna and her amazing service dog, Holly who I posted about earlier on my blog. They are both so inspiring! And check out those T-shirts on Barbara and Jim!
Thanks so much to everyone who came out and made the launch of A Dog's Way Home a tail-waggin' success!

Shanna & Holly

Friday, March 11, 2011

Fido and Friend in Five: Brenna & Fozzie!

Bringing Fozzie Home
Any writer worth their salt (or dog biscuits) will tell you that one of the unsung, behind-the-scenes heros of any writer's book is the copyeditor. These are the most patient, detail-oriented folks you'd ever want to meet. They make sure there are no typos, factual errors, or embarrassing misspellings and punctuation. Sometimes we (lovingly, of course) refer to them as the Grammar Police, but we'd be in big trouble without them! I was so lucky to have the lovely and talented Brenna Franzitta as my  production editor for A Dog's Way Home. Brenna has been a copyeditor since 2003, and a production editor at HarperCollins. And lucky for me, Brenna loves her work. Says she, "I really like that I not only get to read all the books I work on, but I also oversee all the stages that the book goes through, from manuscript from to finished product." She was so patient and respectful to work with. I was happy when, during our editing process, Brenna got a puppy! So let's meet Brenna and that cute little Fozzie (I mean really, is there anything cuter than a golden retriever pup?)

1. How did you and that cute little Fozzie find each other?  After many years of wanting one and having moved to an apartment on the ground floor with outdoor space, my husband and I decided the time was finally right to get a dog. A puppy, in fact! Having grown up with a golden retriever in upstate New York, a family friend referred us to a well-known and well-respected golden retriever breeder whose dog was expecting a litter of puppies in the fall.  When the time finally came, we traveled five and a half hours by car to pick up our little eight-week-old Fozzie Franzitta on Sept. 26, 2010. And from that day on, our lives changed forever in the best possible way!

2. What makes your dog's tail wag?  Oh, what doesn't make his tail wag?!  Fozzie loves life. His favorite part of the day is when I get home from work--he virtually throws a party, he's so excited! He also loves, in no particular order: people, children, squirrels, the park, "cookies", his favorite stuffed animal, Zebra, bananas, his mom and dad, his best friend (and fellow GR) Shelby, and of course, tennis balls!

3. What's your all-time favorite dog story?  I don't think I can pick just one. But I will say of the many dog books I've read, I loved Bliss to You: Trixie's Story, Marley and Me, Old Dogs Are the Best Dogs, and A Dog's Way Home (and I'm not just saying that because I worked on it--it's a fabulous book!)

Growing up too fast!
4. If Fozzie could change just one thing about you, what would it be?  I think he'd change my schedule so I never had to leave him.  

5. Tell us in five words what Fozzie means to you:  Fozzie is my first child.                                                     

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Fido and Friend in Five: Gary Schmidt!

Gary Schmidt
Lizzie Bright
I am epically excited today to share with you my Fido and Friend interview with one of my all-time favorite authors, Gary Schmidt! There are certain authors out there that you don't even hesitate to read their new book. You know, without a doubt, that what you are going to spend your time with is a work that is funny, insightful, heartbreaking, beautifully written, and will stay with you for a long time. That's the way I feel about Gary's work. So when my editor, Molly O'Neill sent me the jacket blurb Gary was kind enough to write for my book, A Dog's Way Home, I almost wept. Not only is Gary a multi-award winning author, but he's also just a super nice guy. And can I just say, I love the fact that he writes his drafts on a typewriter! Don't believe me? Watch the trailer at the bottom for his new book, Okay for Now. But before you scroll down to the bottom, let's ask Gary our Fido and Friend five:
The Wednesday Wars

1. How did you and your dogs find each other?  We went looking for border collie. We found one litter--and chose him because he would have been killed since he didn't have the desired markings--he has one blue eye and a brown eye. Then, when we were about to leave, we learned that another also didn't have the desired markings--a white collar that extends fully around the neck--and se we took him too.                                                                                                                                                    

2. What makes your dogs tails wag?  Surprisingly, not all that much. Border Collies are very judgmental. So, walking into the room at first light--that will set tails wagging. Asking if they want to go for a run. That, too. But they won't wag for food, or for mere entertainment.

3. What's your all-time favorite dog story?  (I am sorry to say, Gary is not a fan of novels about dogs, except, I'm happy to say, mine). Never liked the Lassie stories. They always seemed to revolve around  the fact that Lassie couldn't communicate to the stupid adults  that Timmy was in some sort of dreadful trouble. If you want a story, how about the border collie just written up in the NY Times who has a vocabulary of over a thousand words! Not bad!

4. If your dogs could change just one thing about you, what would it be?  I would be home all the time, and running them all the time, and finding some sheep for them to herd.

5. In five words, tell us what your dogs mean to you:  Health--physical, emotional, aesthetic, social.

Okay, now you can watch the book trailer for Gary's new book, Okay for Now. You'll get to see Gary practically cavorting with his border collies on the beautiful farm they share with Gary's wife and kids in Michigan.                                                

In bookstores mid April


Saturday, March 5, 2011

Fido and Friend in Five: Barbara O'Connor!

I am super-excited to have in my guest spotlight author Barbara O'Connor! Barbara writes the most beautiful, funny, heartfelt middle grade novels you'd ever want to read. She's an author I turn to again and again as a librarian when I'm recommending books to young readers. One thing Barbara and I have in common is we are both misplaced Southerners. I grew up in northwest Florida and Barbara grew up in South Carolina. And even though both of us live far away from our southern roots, we both
Fame & Glory
write with great longing and affection for that part of the world. Barbara is also a proud mother of two lovely (although sometimes naughty) dogs, Ruby and Mattie. I'm sure it's her love of dogs that led her to write the multi-award winning book, How to Steal a Dog. As you'll see from the photos of her own dogs, they're the ones who sometimes do the stealing!

1) How did you and your dogs find each other?  I have two dogs, Matty (a 12-year-old English cocker spaniel) and Ruby (an 18-month-old golden retriever). We got Matty for my son when he was nine. He picked him out and they were inseparable until my son went off to college (sniff sniff). It was just like the book, My Dog Skip! I got Ruby after my beloved golden died of brain cancer. I love goldens and needed another one.
Matty helping himself

2) What makes your dogs tails wag? Matty: Food, food, food. He has a little stub of a tail that shakes his whole body when he wags it! He wants to eat all the time.
Ruby:  People, people, people and dogs dogs dogs. She loves every person she meets and every dog she meets.

3) What's your all-time favorite dog story?  Shiloh by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor. Love it so much! (and I've heard How to Steal a Dog is not bad, ha ha).

Ruby after the Good stuff!
4) If your dogs could change one thing about you, what would it be?  Hmmmm...they would probably make me more patient. I definitely need to work on that. They would also want me to feed them 24/7--and good stuff, like beef tenderloin.
We Can be good!

5) In five words, tell us what your dogs mean to you:  Love, comfort, humor, devotion, trust.

Thanks Barbara, Maddy and Ruby! 

To find out more about Barbara, her books and all her goings-on, visit her website  and her own fun blog