It’s the last day of Be Kind to Animals Month, but it’s also another very special day—World Parrot Day!
My picture book, Chloe the Unfeathered Parrot, is based on a true parrot named Chloe, and features the very real parrot rescue, The Parrot Sanctuary, based here in Toronto.
There are so many ways you can show your kindness to parrots, who may have experienced an inadvertent lack of kindness in their past. Chloe’s home wasn’t the right fit for her, so she was surrendered to The Parrot Sanctuary so they could find her flock—her perfect home.
At The Parrot Sanctuary, those who have experience with parrots and have done the proper research into their care can adopt a parrot, but there are other ways you can show your kindness.
You can volunteer at The Parrot Sanctuary. This is such a great way to help the parrots, and you also learn more about them in the process. You can also sponsor a parrot. This is a wonderful option if your home isn’t really suitable for adopting a parrot.
Check out the website of your local parrot rescue to see how you can get involved.
Purchase Chloe the Unfeathered Parrot for your children, your nieces and nephews, your grandchildren, and friends with kids. Help the children in your life develop their empathy for animals. And think about showing your support to a parrot rescue, like The Parrot Sanctuary. Partial proceeds of Chloe book sales go directly to The Parrot Sanctuary.
Be Kind to Animals Month continues, and today is a very special day—International Hug Your Cat Day!
Of course, this made me think of my picture book, Beverlee Beaz the Brown Burmese. But it also made me think of the Annex Cat Rescue, and the Toronto Humane Society, too.
Be sure to support your local cat rescue—and today is a great reminder to do that. What could be better for Be Kind to Animals Month and International Hug Your Cat Day than to support a cat rescue?
You can make a donation (funding or supplies), you can spread the word, or you can volunteer. Check out the shelter website to learn how you and your kids can help. What a terrific way to teach empathy to the children in your life!
Purchase Beverlee Beaz the Brown Burmese for your children, your nieces and nephews, your grandchildren, and friends with kids. Help the children in your life develop their empathy for animals. And when they hug their cats, make sure they’re gentle!
Also available en Français!
Welcome back to the blog, Justine! Please go on and tell me a bit about yourself (as you have a few times before!)…
Hello again! My name is Justine Alley Dowsett and I’m an author and the owner of a small publishing house based out of Windsor, Ontario (Mirror World Publishing). I tend to write either science fantasy for young adults, or fantasy romance novels for adults. So far, I’ve written and released eleven novels and two novellas, the majority of those I co-write with my sister, Murandy Damodred.
When I’m not writing, I’m usually playing with my dog, keeping up with all the things you have to do to run a small press, or playing Dungeons and Dragons.
Tell me about your recent YA release City of Ruby: Crimson Winter Volume 3. And you should probably also fill me in about Lands of Jade: Crimson Winter Volume 2 & Ruins of Sapphire: Crimson Winter Volume 1.
Crimson Winter is a YA science fantasy adventure set on a desert world where the sun never sets and the gods infuse their ‘Chosen’ with power. Yukari Namikoya, a sixteen year old girl from Tokyo, finds out she is one of these ‘Chosen’ after she gets transported to Crimson Winter while fleeing from the Vile Emperor, the tyrannical ruler of the Ruby City.
In the first book, Ruins of Sapphire, Yukari and her friends cross the desert to find allies in the last fertile land on the planet. In Lands of Jade, she risks everything to protect the Kingdom of Taiyou and the people she’s come to love against overwhelming odds. And now, in City of Ruby, Yukari must travel to the last place she’d ever thought she’d go in order to find the answers she needs to finally save the world.
What do you hope your readers’ takeaway will be for City of Ruby?
Crimson Winter is a story about a young woman who comes into her own. Before she leaves Tokyo, Yukari is a very intelligent, but socially awkward teen who has trouble relating to other people. As her powers grow and she is tested again and again by the harsh, dangerous world of Crimson Winter, she learns to rely on her friends and to appreciate the people she’s fighting to protect. In City of Ruby, she puts everything on the line to protect the planet she’s come to love.
I’m hoping that through Yukari’s journey people learn to appreciate one another, and also that one person, through connecting with the people around them, really can make a difference to a whole world.
What are your favourite scenes from the book?
So there’s this scene pretty early on that I won’t spoil for you, but let’s just say that every time I read through this part of the book I end up crying. This was especially troublesome when I was editing, let me tell you! It’s a heart-wrenching scene where Yukari comes to realize just how much a certain person means to her in the worst possible way and it’s my favourite, even though it hurts every time I read it.
Other than that, I really enjoy the finale. A lot of work went into it and I always remember writing everything I wanted to happen down on post-it notes and plastering them all over my wall so I could figure out the order of events and not miss anything. So that whole section of the book is special to me.
Why do you write genre? And why YA?
I love the concept of reading as an escape, so the more exotic the setting, the better. I like to invent new worlds and figure out the kind of people who would live there and what their lives would be like. YA is fun because the events at that time in a person’s life are so formative. Everything is more intense because it’s happening for the first time and the characters are just figuring out who they want to be.
What is your advice for aspiring writers—particularly genre writers, and writers of YA?
Crimson Winter was my first series, and this launch is a part of the re-release. So, I suppose the lesson I want to share here is that the work is never done. As you grow as a writer, you will continue to learn and it’s never too late to go back and improve what you’ve already written.
How has the pandemic changed the way you write, publish, and/or market your books?
The biggest change in my writing routine is that I no longer go to cafes or public spots to write. Instead, I’ve redecorated my ‘writing room’ and I pretty much write there exclusively now. Which is okay, because it’s comfortable, and I have the means to make whatever coffee/tea I would like.
The publishing part hasn’t changed, but the selling part has a little. Most of my sales used to be in person at events. Now, I’m starting to get back out there and have even booked some shows further away from home, but for a while most marketing was by necessity, online.
Tell me a bit about the other books you’ve written.
For YA, there’s Neo Central, a futuristic dystopian story about the last city left standing. And for my adult books, there’s the Mirror World series about two parallel worlds in careful balance to one another. And then there are a handful of standalone fantasy romances all set in the same world, Unintended, Uncharted, and Uncommon. Then, I also have two novellas; Fatestorm, available in the Far, Far Away Anthology and The Cassini Division, available in The Ringed Giant from Zombie Pirate Publishing.
What are your future writing plans?
Well, Mirror’s Fate, the fifth and final installment of the Mirror World series should be coming out later this year. Beyond that, I’m currently working on a series of novellas and short stories for a companion anthology to the Ismeran books (That’s Unintended, Uncharted, and Uncommon) as well as a sequel to Uncharted.
Tell me something about yourself that people may not know.
It may surprise people to learn that I have other skills and hobbies besides writing. I sew, for example, and used to make costumes on commission. I also know how to swordfight, paint believable scenery, and read palms and Tarot cards.
Thank you so much, Justine!
And what better way to celebrate than with more vampire content? In this case, some mature…or should I say, immature vampire content.
They Suck is the second book in my Trilogy of Horrifically Half-baked Ham—a trilogy of three unrelated tales that are bound together by their horror-comedy genre and their reverence for B-movies past and present: Are you looking for a hilariously gory and inappropriately explicit tale involving a man and the obsessively tidy woman he loves, his army of beloved (and talking) animal friends, a sexually timid and immature comic book shop owner, his zombie-crazed psychiatrist and a grotesque strain of mutated vampires wantonly attacking the unsuspecting citizens of Toronto? How oddly specific of you—but you’re in luck! Join Robert Spavor as he wages war against these silly vampires to save the body and soul of the woman he loves in one of the goriest, most blood-stained, vulgar and ridiculous epic battles ever!
Purchase your copy of They Suck today. Mature readers only, please—this is most certainly NOT one of my children’s books!
Be kind to turtles today, ‘cause not only is May Be Kind to Animals Month, May 23rd is World Turtle Day!
Tamara is a Red-eared Slider, and there’s two big things your kids need to know about these turtles.
First, they have been one of the most impulse-purchased pets EVER, especially when it comes to exotic pets and small animals. This has led to many ending up released into the wild, or surrendered to rescues (which is most certainly the better of the two options).
Second, because they have so often been purchased on impulse and then later discarded in the wild once their owners discovered the work involved in their ownership and care, they have become one of the most invasive species in the world.
Purchase Tamara Turtle’s Life So Far for your children, your nieces and nephews, your grandchildren, and friends with kids. Help the children in your life learn about the plight of both Red-eared Sliders and other turtles in the pet industry, as well as turtles in the wild who need protection from invasive species.
A new edition of Tamara Turtle’s Life So Far is coming late this year, so you can only find the book on Amazon and other online stores right now. Partial proceeds of sales go directly to Little RES Q Reptile Rescue.
Happy World Flower Day! What is it about flowers that you love the most? What about the kids in your lives?
For me, it’s the diversity. There is beauty in every blossom, but they’re all so very different. Flowers are as diverse as the plants they come from. And being different is what’s most beautiful in my opinion.
Libby, the cactus, comes to learn that she is every bit as beautiful as any of the flowers that bloom in the garden in my picture book Libby the Lobivia Jajoiana. Her new and gorgeous friend, Violet, help her realize that it’s her differences that make her special.
Purchase Libby the Lobivia Jajoiana for your children, your nieces and nephews, your grandchildren, and friends with kids. Help the children in your life learn that what makes them different makes them beautiful—and give then a healthy appreciation for all the flowers in the garden.
Have you ever considered that animals can be bullied, too?
May is Be Kind to Animal Month, and I want you and the kids in your lives to know that bullying doesn’t only apply to humans. Animals can be bullied, too. And it’s just as wrong as bullying humans.
In my picture book, Mixter Twizzle’s Breakfast, a little monster who bullies the chickens in the coop where he lives, learns the error of his ways when he meets a very special someone.
But I don’t want to spoil it for you.
Purchase Mixter Twizzle’s Breakfast for your children, your nieces and nephews, your grandchildren, and friends with kids. Help the children in your life develop their empathy for animals, and avoid becoming bullies to animals…including the human ones.
When it comes to being kind to animals, endangered species need our consideration more than any other.
As of April 6th, 2023, There are now a total of 41,415 species on the IUCN Red List, and 16,306 of them are endangered species threatened with extinction.
My first middle-grade novel, first of a series of four books, Peter Little Wing, focuses on a number of endangered species that are endemic to New Zealand, including Peter, Southern Fiordland tokoeka kiwi, Tim, a tuatara, and Rangi, a kea.
Middle-grade children are very much more aware of the impact of endangered species on their ecosystems and the planet as a whole. It is a part of most school curriculums at this point in their lives, and the World Wildlife Fund has teaching resources available on this topic (https://www.worldwildlife.org/teaching-resources).
Purchase this first edition of Peter Little Wing for your children, your nieces and nephews, your grandchildren, and friends with kids. Help the children in your life develop their empathy for animals, and foster their awareness of the plight of endangered species in Aotearoa, and all over the world.
We’re far more likely to want to save endangered animals that are cute and cuddly. This Be Kind to Animals month, I would like to remind you that the scary animals deserve kindness, too.
In my picture book, Sloth the Lazy Dragon, a kind and brave dwarf named Radish comes to the aid of an overweight dragon. If it were up to the other dwarves that live in the mountain, Sloth would never get the help he needs to fly again, because the dwarves are simply too scared of him.
An article in the National Post, April 23rd, 2012, touches on our all too human preference for helping cute and cuddly critters over scary or “ugly” animals: “...Canadian ecology experts say such thinking means we’re in danger of re-shaping nature to beautify it according to human notions of what’s pretty, saving the mammals but letting the reptiles and amphibians disappear...”
It's important that kids get the message that we must be kind and considerate to all animals—including the ones that might be a bit strange, scary, or that we just don’t understand all that well.
Purchase Sloth the Lazy Dragon for your children, your nieces and nephews, your grandchildren, and friends with kids. Help the children in your life develop their empathy for animals (including the scary ones).
Did you know that May is Be Kind To Animals Month? This made me think, what a perfect month to feature my books for children because they ALL feature animals as characters!
I wanted to first feature my picture book, Dog Band. There are actually many, MANY different kinds of pets featured in this book, as diverse as the range of music genres it introduces kids to.
Dog Band is all about many different kinds of animal friends helping each other out. In this case, Alfie and his band, Dog Band, need to figure out what kind of music they should play…so he and the band members ask all their friends—from dogs to frogs—to help them figure it out
The book reminds kids to be kind to each other by helping each other out when they need it. It also promotes diversity through the different breeds and species of animals, as well as the music genres, which is another important message for kids.
Purchase Dog Band for your children, your nieces and nephews, your grandchildren, and friends with kids. Help the children in your life develop their empathy for animals (and a love of music, too).