It’s My Book Birthday!

Congratulations to Kate Allen Fox! Pando is exquisite, and I encourage you to add it to any child’s picture book collection.

Kate Allen Fox

Today is a day I’ve dreamed about for a long time: the official release date of my very first book! Pando: A Living Wonder of Trees, illustrated by Turine Tran, is out in the world!

This book has been years in the making. I wrote my first draft in early 2019. I signed with an agent in April 2019. The publisher made an offer on the book in October of that year, and I signed the official contract in early 2020. Then came revisions, illustrations, more revisions, more illustrations, printing, marketing.

Getting to a book’s birthday is a long road in the best of circumstances, but I have had so many wonderful co-conspirators in bringing this book into the world.

It’s a book!

So Many Thank Yous

I want to thank Dr. Paul Rogers, who patiently taught me about Pando and believed in this book from the beginning;

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One-month-til-release Preorder Giveaway!

Please join me in celebrating Kate’s success! Pre-order a signed, very special, beautiful picture book by Kate Allen Smith, and earn a chance to grow an Aspen of your own, and maybe win a second signed book to share.

Kate Allen Fox

Buckle up! It’s debut time! In exactly one month, my debut picture book, Pando: A Living Wonder of Trees (illustrated by Turine Tran), will hit shelves.

Pando: A Living Wonder of Trees is out August 15th from Capstone Editions

If you preorder (or already have), I will send you a signed bookplate for your copy, and you will be entered to win a Grow Your Own Aspen kit! How cool is that?! You will also be entered to win a *second* signed copy of Pando to share with a friend or leave in a Free Little Library.

To enter, simply fill out this form: https://forms.gle/LgrERrom5WcMLpwV7

Grow your own Aspen!

Preorders help create book buzz, help new bookstores and readers discover the book by increasing its ranking, and help you get your copy ASAP. They can even influence an author’s future book deals by showing how well their books sell (or…

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First Line Transformations & GIVEAWAY

Here’s an encouraging story for all aspiring authors.

Kate Allen Fox

A story’s first line is an invitation to the reader. In a few short phrases, the author introduces the subject and tone of the story, creating context and mood. This is particularly true of picture books, where low word counts create even more pressure for an opening line that pulls the reader in. So much pressure can make finding just the right words challenging.

Today, I’m going to show you the transformation of my debut’s opening line. Keep reading to the end for details on a critique GIVEAWAY! (Spoiler: everyone who enters wins!)

Finding the Right Words

When I was getting ready to query the manuscript that became my debut, Pando: A Living Wonder of Trees (illustrated by Turine Tran, out from Capstone on August 1st), I thought I had a solid opening.

The environmentally-focused story, which tells the story of 47,000 Aspen trees connected by their roots to…

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Rabbit Hole pre-order

I was one of four editors for Rabbit Hole 3, helping to select and develop the winning stories. But I do have a story in Rabbit Hole Volume Zero: A Different Life, which was a semi-finalist in the 2019 ScreenCraft Cinematic Short Story Contest.

Proceeds from both volumes go to the Against Malaria Foundation.

writers co-op

Volume 3 of The Rabbit Hole (ebook) is now available for pre-order.

Romantically weird, weirdly romantic: 27 stories that take you down the rabbit hole to love. But if love never did run smooth, here it goes wild – this is love that twists and torments, plunges and prowls, love that crosses boundaries unknown. Oysters and aliens, ghost and gods, stalkers and stars – there’s no limit to the forms that love can take. Why, that toaster – be honest now – are you sure it doesn’t arouse a burning desire?

Tragedy, humour, mystery, drama, hope – Volume 3 of The Rabbit Hole brings you love in its most mischievous guises, from cunning and cruel to cloud nine bliss. Confirmation, if any were needed, that love is a weird, but many-splendoured thing.

Anyone who pre-orders now (at the special launch price of $0.99) will have it delivered to…

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Pony Express in Retreat

Pony Express Rider (Painting by Stanley Wood)

Thank you, America.

Yay! They listened.

The resounding throngs

Genius Idea!

Hightailin’ It, Pony Express 1860 (Painting by Bruce Cheever, 2019, courtesy Eitlejorg Museum)

It will be there in 3 days.

Agent of the USPS a couple weeks ago

But my little package took 6 days to get from San Diego, California, to Colorado Springs, Colorado.

At first, I was puzzled by the delay — not to mention disappointed. But then somebody said the new Postmaster General wanted to celebrate election year by reinstating the Pony Express. My immediate reaction was:

Cool! Who is this new Postmaster General?

Me, thinking about horses carrying the mail
Continue reading “Genius Idea!”

Perfect Picture Books for Science Homeschooling

Are you home schooling your adorable children this year? Need a little help with science? Here are some of Kate Allen Fox’s recommendations.

Kate Allen Fox

When you think of teaching science, you might imagine dry, boring textbooks. And if you unexpectedly find yourself homeschooling this year, you might be less than enthused about teaching those.

Luckily for you, your local library is chock full of gorgeous, engaging STEM picture books. These books are perfect for early elementary schoolers and also have great read-aloud qualities for preschoolers. If you have older kids, consider using an engaging picture book to ignite interest in a topic before delving deeper into the details.

I firmly believe that picture books are for everyone from babies to adults. Jeopardy! champion James Holzhauer used them to prep for his historic winning streak. And these books are not only informative, but beautifully written and illustrated pieces of art.

Here are a few of my favorites…

Water is Water by Miranda Paul and Jason Chin

Read the full review here.

Gravity by…

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The Memorial

I’ve had the pleasure of interacting with Vanessa for something more than four years through our blogs. Now, six months after her husband passed away at far too young an age, she has shared moments from his memorial service. I believe it was the most beautiful memorial service that could ever be.

I am not a devoutly religious person, but the best I could hope for after I’m gone would be to be remembered with sentiments like these.

Vanessence

Today weighs heavy on me.  Six months ago today, my husband died, happening even on the same day of the week.  My last Shabbat as a wife was Valentine’s Day.  Somehow that seems … appropriate, in a weird way.

  • 6 months is
  • 182 days is
  • 15,724,800 seconds is
  • 262,080 minutes is
  • 4368 hours is
  • 182 days is
  • 26 weeks is
  • 49.73% of 2020 is
  • Yesterday is
  • Forever

So I’m naturally a whirl of memories, about his death and the aftermath.  I don’t think I ever shared with you anything about the memorial we had for him in June, once the Corona “shelter-in” had mostly passed.  This six month “milestone” seemed like a good time to do that.

Thank you for listening.

Love, Vanessa ❤

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The Rabbi asked my son if he would like to speak at his father’s memorial.  I expected him to say, “No.”  He’s just 18, and…

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Breaking Free

April 11, 2019, SpaceX launched Falcon Heavy from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. The sentiment is mine. (Photo credit: SpaceX)

I admit it’s possible to discover something accidentally. Take bacteriologist Dr. Alexander Fleming, for example. In 1928, he returned to his lab after a vacation in Scotland to discover a mold called Penicillium notatum had contaminated his petri dish colonies of Staphylococcus aureus, and was preventing its growth.

“When I woke up just after dawn on September 28, 1928, I certainly didn’t plan to revolutionize all medicine by discovering the world’s first antibiotic, or bacteria killer. But I guess that was exactly what I did.” Dr. Alexander Fleming

Of course, Dr. Fleming had already studied bacteriology, so while it may be possible even you and I could accidentally discover some new scientific fact, if we don’t have the underlying knowledge, if we don’t know the rules, our discovery probably won’t make much of an impact on the world.

But for someone who has the knowledge and knows the rules of their field, like, say, art or agriculture or aerospace engineering, the rules can be a springboard into new understanding and advances.

“You have to know the rules before you can break them with purpose.” Me, reflecting on what little wisdom I’ve been fortunate to stumble into.

I lament the passing of my generation’s defiant motto: Question Authority. We didn’t believe the rules weren’t meant for us or that there shouldn’t be any at all. We wanted to know why they were rules and what would happen if they weren’t. Could we get along more peacefully if some of the rules were different? Like desegregation. Or Congressional term limits. Or decriminalizing pot. (Legalizing marijuana was only a pipe dream back then.)

Today, it seems too many people simply believe the rules don’t apply to them. We can see examples of the resulting chaos in any city that harbors those solar powered scooters as helmetless scofflaws ride them in the wrong direction on one-way streets, or cross multi-lane streets mid-block or against red lights. We can see that chaos in any government that denies reality, espouses ignorance, and ignores the Rule of Law.

Where will we go from here? To Mars? To a nation of healthier, better educated citizens? Or will we remain stuck in a man-made quagmire, clawing the mud to keep up with the rest of the world?

I know what I want. I’m watching for people who know stuff and understand the rules well enough to think beyond them. Those are the people who will launch us forward. Those are the people who can make a large-scale, positive impact on the world.

Scintillating Saturday Share#1

1 Andrew Pons|Unsplash
Photo credit: Andrew Pons | Unsplash

trE over at A Cornered Gurl invites all of us to join her in sending a little “love, light, peace, and kindness out into the ether.” In no more than 7 words, what does this picture spark in you?

Go ahead, take a look!

 

via Scintillating Saturday Share#1