Monday, August 26, 2013

Fido and Friend in Five: Kathryn Erskine and Fletcher!

Kathy Erskine, author of National Book Award winner, Mockingbird, was one of the first authors to visit Fido and Friend back in March of 2011, with her dog Maxine.
 Since then, Kathy wrote another best-selling book, The Absolute Value of Mike, and, sadly, lost her precious Maxine.

But times moves on. All dog lovers must have a dog in their lives, while they hold their past dogs in their hearts. It's what our dogs would want from us to honor them: to open our hearts and our arms and our homes to another dog. And that's what Kathy has done. This past year, she and her family welcomed a new dog into their lives, a most handsome Labradoodle named Fletcher.

Kathy Erskine has also written a new book, Seeing Red, which will hit bookstore and library shelves in late September! Seeing Red is the story of twelve-year-old Red Porter, a kid growing up in the early 1970's in small town Virginia. Red recently lost his daddy and everything has changed. Before his daddy died, he was happy just to work in their family garage with him. Now he considers himself the man of the house, even if his mother and brother don't quite see it that way. His relationship with his friends becomes strained, and then there's some family secrets that come to light. As with all her books, Kathy has written another powerful book about family and friendship. This is one I can't wait to read!

Aren't you done yet?
1. How did you and Fletcher find each other?  For the first time ever, we went to a breeder. My daughter seems to have developed allergies so we wanted a Labradoodle, and it's very hard to find one at a shelter or rescue organization, although we tried.

Tired, happy dog!
2. What makes Fletcher's tail wag?  Going to the dog park, playing with neighborhood dogs, attention from anyone, playing fetch, treats of all kinds.

3.  If Fletcher could change just one thing about you, what would that be?  I think he would like me to sit at my computer less. He sometimes sits there and stares at me, and then starts rifling through my inbox. That's when I know it's time to play!

4. What's your all-time favorite dog book?  Well, since I've answered this before and there are so many great dog books out there, I picked your latest, The Dogs of Winter. Talk about a powerful story! And the fact that it's based on a true event--wow! Given how much I love dogs, it's surprising I haven't put one in a novel yet. I'm sure I will, but they may not be stars, like your dogs, Bobbie! (aw shucks)

5. In just five words, tell us what Fletcher means to you:  Activity, laughter, friendship, kisses, joy.
To smell you is bliss...

Thanks so much to the lovely Kathryn Erskine and her new BFF, Fletcher, for spending some time with us today on Fido and Friend in Five. To find out more about Kathy and to read her blog, visit her website!

Friday, August 23, 2013


A few weeks ago, while I was at the huge, annual SCBWI (Society for Children's Book Writers and Illustrators) Conference in Los Angeles, my sweet husband went to the Park City Arts Festival. One night while I was in L.A., he emailed me a picture of these windchime sort of things for sale at the festival and said he thought I'd like them. I saw one that said DREAM, and strongly hinted that I would sure love one of those! What better thing to hang in my office, I thought.

When I got home, he had not taken my hint (as husbands are sometimes prone to do), and had gotten me one that said BELIEVE. I will admit to you, I was a bit disappointed. After all, I was a writer, a creative person, a dreamer! "BELIEVE?"

But I will tell you, that one word has been more important to me every day, hanging there in the window at my desk where I work, than Dream ever could have been. Why? Believing is a concrete act that, in this profession, this act of faith, is often in short supply.

I can dream plenty. I can dream of all the many, many books I want to write. I can dream of my editor saying what I've written is a heartbreaking work of staggering genius that needs nary a revision. I can dream of many starred reviews, awards, and interviews on NPR and The Today Show. Dreams are never in short supply.

But very often, believing is. There are days when I look at that word and I try to believe I can actually be disciplined enough to get my butt in the chair, open my laptop (and not my email, and FaceBook, and Twitter) and do the work. There are many days it's all I can do to believe I have any talent at all, anything worthy of anyone's time to read. To BELIEVE I have a story to tell and I'm the one to tell it, to BELIEVE I have not only the skill to tell it but the grit and the heart and determination--that's what is often the hardest thing to do. On those all-too-often days when self-doubt whispers in my ear "who are you kidding?" I look up at that word, BELIEVE, illuminated by the light beyond the window, take a deep breath, try for that moment to believe, and write.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Fido and Friend in Five: Joni Sensel and Jazz!

Yes, dear readers, Fido and Friend is back after a bit of a break whilst I was busy with the "Authors for Catherine's Dream Signed Book Auction." Thankfully, it's all pretty much wrapped up, and we raised over $4,000.00!

Joni Sensel is the author of numerous, highly popular middle grade novels Reality Leak (described in Fuse 8 as "Fun and funny"), the gorgeously written historical The Humming of Numbers, and her award-winning fantasy series The FarWalker's Quest, The Timekeeper's Moon, and the latest The Skeleton's Knife. This series follows the quest of forest girl, Ariel, to discover her own mysterious and startling calling.

Joni is also the proud mother of two picture books,
including Bears Barge In and The Garbage Monster.

Like her heroine, Ariel, Joni is a bit of a "FarWalker" too. She's explored the Sahara Desert, New Zealand, France, and the British Isles--places that have inspired her work. In 2008, she set off on her own walking adventure in England and France, where she ended up walking more than 650 miles!

Like me, Joni lives in the west in a house in the woods, and likes to hike with her dog, and has raccoons in her tree and elk in her yard (well, I tend to have moose). Unlike me, Joni also loves to scuba dive and ride her motorcycle, and has mice in her stove vent.

And she has a dog, a wonderful dog named Jazz. Let's meet these two intrepid adventurers in today's Fido and Friend in Five!

1. How did you and Jazz find each other?  I rescued Jazz from a shelter where I'd previously volunteered and where I'd found several other dogs in the past. (The rule is I can only go into the kennel of a dog I'm planning to take home, because otherwise it makes me cry). When we got together in the "get to know you" room, he was more interested in the ball the staff gave him than in me, but he agreed to come home with me anyway. After four years, he still has some issues from his formative
Take me home?
years, but we've come a long way understanding each other.

2. What makes Jazz's tail wag?  Chasing things! Elk preferred, but spawning salmon, squirrels, rabbits, pickup trucks, bicyclists, tennis balls, and sticks will do in a pinch. We try to stay near to the end of that list.

3. What's your all-time favorite dog story?  Boy, I'm dating myself here, but Where the Red Fern Grows.

4. If Jazz could change just one thing about you, what would that be?  He'd give me a gender reassignment, I fear. He likes men more than women.

5. In five words, tell us what Jazz means to you:  Kooky pal who chases laughs.

Kooky friend!
Thanks so much to Joni and Jazz for getting Fido and Friend back
on track! Be sure to visit Joni's website to find out more about her books and her latest adventures!