Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Fido and Friend in Five: Susan Goodman and Ella!

Susan Goodman
One of the many things I love about Susan Goodman's website is it says, "Who says research can't be fun?" As a librarian and bloodhound of a researcher, I couldn't agree more! So how great is it that she's passing that message along to kids with her wonderfully fun and fascinating non-fiction books. I mean, how can kids resist titles like It's a Dog's Life, All In Just One Cookie, The Truth About Poop, Life on the Ice, and many more? How many more? Susan has written 30 books for kids, plus (are you sitting down?) approximately 225 articles for kids! She's also written many articles for the adult audience in National Geographic Traveler, Modern Maturity, Redbook, Glamour, Parents, Self, and many many other periodicals.

Susan was nice enough to send me a signed copy of her new book (which she knew would be near and dear to my heart), It's A Dog's Life: How Man's Best Friend Sees, Hears, and Smells the World. I wish I'd had a copy when I was research doggy senses for A Dog's Way Home! Susan is running a really fun contest on her website that you can enter to win a copy of It's a Dog's Life! Be sure to check it out.

Susan does an awful lot of traveling with all her research, so she doesn't have a dog herself. But she is the very proud "grandmother" to her son's dog, Ella. She and Ella spend as much time as possible together when Susan is home. I'm sure she does what every good grandparent does: spoils that grandchild rotten and then send her home.

Let's help her spoil Ella in today's Fido and Friend in Five:

1. How did you and Ella find each other?  I got a phone call right after my son, Matthew, adopted her from the City Pound in Manhattan. She was a five-month-old pup who came right up to the front of her cage and licked his hand. He was seriously thinking about another dog from a no-kill shelter, but when Ella was released from her cage, she jumped right into his lap. That was it for Matt. It didn't take much longer for her to jump onto our couch/bed/arm chairs/laps the first time she visited us.

2. What makes Ella's tail wag?  The people she loves. When I haven't seen her for a while, that tail is going so fast it feels like a drumstick solo playing its beat against my leg. Of course, any new toy has tail-wagging potential until its been demoted to "old toy" status or has been chewed to bits.

3. What's your all-time favorite dog story?  That's like asking which of my children I love best; it's unanswerable. The story that had the most effect upon me? Old Yeller. Just mention it to any kid of my generation and we all get that traumatized look (that would be me). Since I don't want you to think I'm always into pathos, I won't say anything about Hachiko, which is such a poignant story. Let's go with Balto, the hero dog, and Toto too!

"I love my Boy"
4. If Ella could change just one thing about you, what would it be?  Since Ella is my grand dog, this question should really be asked about her true love, Matthew. Then she'd be very clear: give me people food and take me on longer walks! Since I get to play the indulgent grandparent, I already do both of those things!

5. In five words, tell us what Ella means to you:  Matt would say, "She's my sidekick" and not to worry about the word count. I'll just say, "Ella makes my son happy (and me too)."

Many thanks to Susan and Ella for joining us today on Fido
and Friend in Five. And thanks to Matt for sharing Ella
with us too. Be sure to cruise Susan's website. You'll be glad
you did!

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Fido and Friend in Five: Randi Reisfeld and DJ!

What the Dog Said
Randi Reisfeld
Randi Reisfeld is one of those authors that must run on one hour of sleep a night. And she's one of those authors that leaves me feeling like a total slouch. I mean, she's got close to 100 books and articles published! Can you believe that? She started out (when she was probably 12) as an editor at 16 Magazine, interviewing and writing about celebrities. How jealous do you think I am that she actually interviewed Johnny Depp?! Very! She also interviewed Tom Cruise, John Travolta, Michael Jackson and many others.

Randi went from writing articles about mega-stars to writing books about stars, and then original stories based on movies such as Clueless and Sabrina the Teenage Witch. She also worked closely with author HB Gilmour. Together, the wrote T*Witches, which became a ten-book series. They also wrote a number of other series for teens and tweens including Oh, Baby and Making Waves. 

Making Waves
Her new, stand-alone novel, is the one that caught my attention and led me to her. What the Dog Said is a poignant, funny, fanciful and emotionally impactful story about loss and love. Thirteen-year-old Grace's beloved father is killed by a possibly not-so-random shooting. Grace is utterly devastated. Then a very special rescue dog named Rex comes into her life. He loves her, he understands her, and he talks to her--literally! Rex also helps her solve the mystery of what really happened to her dad, and he helps her heal. Trouble is, Rex is being trained as a service dog. The day will come soon when Grace must give him away. But can she?

Fortunately, DJ is Randi's forever dog. Let's meet the two of them in today's Fido and Friend in Five:

1. How did you and DJ (Desmond Jones) find each other?  Our dog is a Barbet. He's a French water dog--very much like a Portuguese water dog, which we've had in the past. That's the same kind of dog President Obama and his family have. We were looking for a similar breed--that is, a non-shedder, medium sized, good with kids, less headstrong than the Porties, joyful, and loyal. We found the Barbet at the "Meet the Breeds" expo in New York City, sponsored by the AKC. Right now, the Barbet is on the "waiting list" for acceptance into the AKC. So far, it's rare in the U.S., but very popular in Europe and Canada. In fact, this year, we are part of the group exhibiting our dog a the very same "Meet the Breeds" expo in which we found him. He's a great pup and I hope to get another (her name would be Mollie Jones. Desmond and Mollie are from the Beatles song, "Obla Di, Obla Da."
Desmond Jones

2. What makes DJ's tail wag?  Going for a walk, getting treats, playing with other dogs, getting his belly rubbed. Lots of petting and affection.

3.  What's your all-time favorite dog story?  I have to say, What the Dog Said. I did read The Story of Edward Sawtell  and The Art of Racing in the Rain, and other popular books. Alas, I wasn't impressed. I plan to read others--including your newest.

4. If DJ could change just one thing about you, what would it be?  Letting him eat table food, and never leaving him alone.

5. In five words, tell us what DJ means to you:  Unconditional love, affection, companionship, laughter (puppies are hysterical!), happiness.

So, so true! Many thanks to Randi and DJ for taking time out of their busy schedules to visit Fido and Friend in Five. Be sure to check out Randi's website to see what all she's written and find out more about her. She's one prolific lady!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

First Fan Letter for THE DOGS OF WINTER

About a week and a half ago, during a school visit, I had the good fortune to meet a woman who had lived and worked in Russia (as a teacher) in 1993, just as the Soviet Union was crumbling. We talked about her experiences there and I, of course, told her about my new book, The Dogs of Winter. I told her I was nervous about writing a story set in a place so foreign to me, that I hadn't even been to. I also told her the doubts I'd had over the years about my "right" (as an American) to tell this child's story.

This morning, when I opened my email, I saw that she'd written. I was nervous: I knew she'd bought a copy of The Dogs of Winter and had planned to read it. I also know she is a passionate and very discerning reader. Here is what she wrote:

Not only did I read it within 24 hours, I’ve already told 2 middle school librarians to purchase it immediately.  Emailed my book club, to give them a heads up that “Dogs of Winter” will be the November read AND got my 16 yr old daughter to read it (who by the way is the twilight lover & only likes teen romance books)!  Remember how I kept talking about “Between Shades of Gray”?  It’s my book of conversation w/everyone that will listen.  Well, it’s been replaced.  You know that I read a lot of books but a select few stay with me forever.  I like to think of them as my “life changer books”.  “Dogs of Winter” is now on that select list. This book spoke to me. I can honestly tell you that I dreamt about these amazing dogs two nights in a row after reading it.

You had been a little apprehensive about writing a book based in Russia, having never been there.  Well Bobbie, you had me fooled.  You sold me at the very beginning when you briefly talked about “Mother hanging clothes on the line on the balcony”.  I did that weekly, we all did.  The sleeping arrangement of Mishka with Mother & Babushka.  I lived like that with my host families.  I could go on and on about the vivid & correct descriptions of how you portrayed life in Russia

Your book made me feel so many emotions. I became so home sick while reading your book that I called my “Russian Mom” Galina on Monday just to tell her that I loved her.  I told her about your book & she said to tell you “Balshoy Spasiba” for writing a book about her countries babies!  Balshoy Spasiba means Great Big Thank You.   

I seriously could go on and on about this book but I’ll save that for people that haven’t read it.  I’m so thankful that you listened to that voice that told you to write this story.  I’m thankful for your talent & can’t wait to see what you come up with next.  I’m thankful to have met you & been inspired by you.  I hope to be able to stay in contact with you, even if it’s just checking up on your blog.

Thank you Bobbie!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012


Waiting to speak
Me and Ivan
This past Saturday was the official birth-day party for my new book, The Dogs of  Winter! As with A Dog's Way Home, the launch party was hosted by The King's English Bookshop, the best little indie bookstore in the West. Even though it was a gorgeous fall day and a holiday weekend (Columbus Day, or as I like to call it Rape And Pillage the Local Peoples Day), friends turned out to help me celebrate the release of a book that was a long time in coming.

I talked for about a half hour about the "story behind the story" of The Dogs of Winter. And I also told the crowd about my personal journey with Ivan Mishukov's story. I saw a few people in the audience wiping at their eyes. Of course, it could have been allergies...
Signing my heart out

Then came the signing and cake! The King's English always does an amazing job with the cakes. They're not only beautiful but entirely delicious. This one had a scrumptious blueberry filling. Of course, I was so busy signing books, I didn't get a piece until the end. But my husband assures me he ate an extra one for me.

A whole stack of special orders!
If you missed the party but would still like a signed copy of The Dogs of  Winter, you can order one from The King's English Bookshop. Just indicate in the message field that you'd like a signed copy. They'll get it off in the mail to you toot sweet!

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Book Jacket Art

One of the really cool things about selling foreign rights to your books is getting to see what publishers in other countries do with your jacket covers. A Dog's Way Home has sold in Germany, Poland, and Russia. The publisher in Poland chose to keep the same gorgeous cover the book has here. But the publishers in Germany and Russia did something entirely different!

Often, they also change the title of your original work because it may not translate well in their language. So for instance, although the publisher in Poland kept the same U.S. cover, they slightly altered the title to A Dog's Path Home. I think the word "way" didn't translate well.
German cover

The German publisher created this exquisite cover, and changed the title to Lost in the Wilderness. They also included some beautiful art inside the book.

The Russian publisher did this great cover with a lost dog poster--very clever! The title in Russian now read My Faithful Friend, Tam. At least that's what I've been told. I don't have a good image of the Russian cover yet, but I'll post it when I do.

What cover do you like best?

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Fido and Friend in Five: Monika Schröder and Frank!

Monika & Frank
My Brother's Shadow
A while back, I got an email from my friend and Fido and Friend alum, Augusta Scattergood, that said, "I met this author at an event in North Carolina this weekend. You need to have her on Fido and Friend in Five!" I was, of course, familiar with Monika Schröder because of her books which we have in the library where I work. I went on Monika's website just to check her out and, WOW! What a story she and her dog Frank have! I'll tell you more about their amazing story in just a minute. So then, I contacted Monika about being on Fido and Friend (which she graciously agreed to) and we discovered we have all kinds of things in common! She was a librarians (I still am). We both have had books with the word "dog" in the title get starred reviews from Kirkus. We both have a dog rescued from the streets. We both have husbands named Todd (who like to take naps), and we both are friends with one of our favorite authors (and also, I might add, a F&F alum) Barbara O'Conner. And as it turns out, Monika and her Todd (and Frank) live in the little town of Mars Hill in the mountains of North Carolina--a place I lived many years ago!

Monika grew up in Germany and worked as a research assistant in the German parliament. She's taught at international schools in Egypt (where she met her Todd), Chile, and Oman. She taught first grade and later became a school librarian in New Delhi, India. Two very important things came out of those years in India: her highly acclaimed book, Saraswati's Way, and her dog, Frank.

As anyone who's been to India knows, there are lots and lots of homeless dogs living on the streets. They're everywhere, begging and scavenging what they can to survive. Many are malnourished and have lost their fur to mange. Frank was one such dog. As Monika tells us, "During winter break of 2009, a small, honey-colored dog appeared in front of gate two of our school's compound. He always gave a friendly wag of his tail when he saw us coming and would sometimes accompany me on my morning run."Eventually, Frank won a permanent home in Monika and Todd's hearts and home. But like my street dog, Boo, life with an ex-street dog wasn't easy. Like Boo, he didn't get along with other dogs and he had not had the early socialization skills he needed to live in a "civilized" world. And like my Boo Girl, Frank is an excellent mouser, and probably too smart for his own good. Still, as Monika says on her website, "Frank has become a much valued author-companion. He listens to me when I read a draft aloud and calls me for a walk when he senses I need a break. He also loves stretching next to me on the couch while I write."Frank has traveled to Germany on holiday and moved with Monika and Todd to the U.S. in 2011.
New Delhi street dogs

No doubt Frank was a huge help as Monika wrote her latest book, My Brother's Shadow. Set in Berlin during World War I, My Brother's Shadow, is a haunting, fast-paced coming of age story informed by the devastation of war.

Let's meet these two world travelers in today's Fido and Friend in Five:

1. How did you and Frank find each other?
Frank finds a home!
My husband and I used to work at the American Embassy School in New Delhi, India. We lived on the school’s compound and during winter break 2009/10 we noticed a honey colored street dog “hanging out” outside the school gate. Many dogs live on the streets in India. They often attach themselves to a guard post or a construction site, waiting for handouts. This beautiful, smart looking dog showed up every morning and then began to accompany me on my morning jog. He had the most expressive face and on the last day of winter break we decided to take him in.
Frank loves music!

2. What makes Frank's tail wag?
He loves when it's time for his walk. He also gets excited when his dinner is being prepared and he likes when his friend Bucky comes to play.

3. What's your all-time favorite dog story?
When I was still a school librarian I used to love reading MOVE OVER ROVER to kindergarteners. They would all chant the refrain of the book and we laughed a lot. I also like HOW TO STEAL A DOG and BECAUSE OF WINN-DIXIE. 

4. If Frank could change just one thing about you, what would that be?
"It reads better this way, Mom."
He probably would have me take the fence around the garden down. He would rather roam freely and chase cats and squirrels in the neighborhood. But we worry that he gets hit by a car or lost so we need to keep him within the fenced area.

"Fascinating? You bet!"
5. In five words, tell us what Frank means to you:
Adorable pet, love, fascinating companion.

Thanks so much to Monika and Frank for visiting with Fido
and Friend in Five! To find out more about Monika and her books,
and to see more photos of Frank, visit her website.