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Summer Travels

July 2006

Hi, readers! It’s hard to believe that summer is already in full swing. When I was younger and still in school, I remember being aware of exactly how many days were left until summer vacation began (and, of course, exactly how many days of vacation stretched ahead of me). Now that I’m older and a full-time writer with different projects and not-to-be-missed deadlines, I’m often amazed when I glance at the calendar and realize that a new season has begun without my noticing.

My usual writing routine had a couple of fun interruptions recently when I traveled to Washington, D.C., in May and New Orleans in June. In Washington, I attended the 2006 Book Expo America, an annual convention of publishers, booksellers, authors, and illustrators. Over the course of several days, I had an opportunity to connect with old friends in the publishing business, check out soon-to-be-published titles, and meet the authors and illustrators who were there to sign copies of their new books. I spent one afternoon signing copies of my upcoming book, On Christmas Eve, which will be published in the fall. (More about this in a later entry!) But the highlight of my trip was receiving a 2006 Book Sense Book of the Year Honor Award in the Children’s Literature category for A Dog’s Life: The Autobiography of a Stray. There was a wonderful luncheon for all of the Book Sense award winners and honorees, and each of us had an opportunity to say a few words. When my turn came, I mentioned that my dog, Sadie, was the inspiration for A Dog’s Life. (Some of you may remember that Sadie’s mother was a rescued stray.)

A few weeks later, I attended the American Library Association’s annual conference in New Orleans to accept a Henry Bergh Children’s Book Award for A Dog’s Life. The award is named after the founder of the ASPCA (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals), Henry Bergh, who created the society in 1866 after witnessing many examples of inhumane treatment of animals. The ASPCA went on to become an international organization dedicated to creating laws to protect animals and educating the public on animal welfare. As a long-time animal lover, I was especially proud that A Dog’s Life was recognized by this wonderful organization.

While in New Orleans, I had an opportunity to visit the Audubon Zoo. Fortunately, zoo officials had long prepared for the possibility of a catastrophic storm hitting New Orleans, and this careful planning, along with the zoo’s location on high ground, enabled the zoo to survive Hurricane Katrina with the loss of only three animals and some downed trees. I attended an ASPCA event held there and enjoyed talks by the Zoo Director and Head Veterinarian. With so much destruction elsewhere in the city, it was heartening to hear a story with such a positive end.

I’m back at home now and back to work too. I love my writing projects, but I’m starting to count the days until my August beach vacation just like I used to do when I was younger. I guess that habit never really goes away! In the meantime, I hope all of you are having a wonderful summer vacation.

Happy summer reading!



P.S. If you would like to know more about the ASPCA, here’s a link to their homepage: