ohsheglowsWe were in the middle of our weekly publicity and marketing meeting and were discussing our New York Times bestselling Avery title, The Oh She Glows Cookbook and what we could do to celebrate this gorgeous and inspiring book by powerhouse vegan blogger Angela Liddon, when one of my colleagues made a suggestion.

“Maybe we should go vegan for a week.”

I’ll admit, my first thought was “How will I live without cheese?” But as we started to talk the idea through, the trepidation yielded to excitement. The recipes in The Oh She Glows Cookbook would provide everyone with more than enough delectable dishes to make it through the week (Chakra Caesar Salad! Easy Chana Masala! Chocolate Espresso Torte!), and the social media possibilities were endless, from sharing photos on Instagram and Twitter to getting Angela to tell her followers about our challenge.  When we started talking about taking it company-wide, I was all in.

And then we learned about US VegWeek, a weeklong celebration from April 21-27 that explores the many benefits of vegetarian eating—for our health, the planet, and animals. Restaurants and businesses across the country are set to promote the week, events (cooking demonstrations, movie screenings) are being held in major markets, and elected officials (Henry Waxman, Tammy Duckworth) are taking the 7Day VegPledge. It was a chance for us to be a part of something bigger and to give even more people a chance to get their glow on. We all promptly signed up and took the pledge.

Now, it’s your turn! Join us in the VegPledge, for one meal, or even the whole week and post photos of the vegetarian or vegan dishes you make on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr with the hashtag #USVegWeek. It’s going to be delicious!

Lisa Gardner Conway Shelter CampaignNew York Times bestselling author Lisa Gardner recently hit 30,000 fans on Facebook (and she’s still going, visit her page). To celebrate she donated $10,000 to the Conway Area Humane Society. She shared with us her thoughts on the special bond between writers and animals:

I think authors even more so than most value the human-animal bond.  It’s hard to picture a writer out there who doesn’t have a dog at her feet or a cat on her lap.  Certainly, all my novels have been penned with a great deal of furry support and tail-wagging encouragement.  The love and companionship of my pets is the one thing that keeps the writing process from being totally isolating.  Let’s face it, caring for animals makes us and them happy, and the world a better place.  And there is something magical about going to a shelter and meeting an animal you realize instantly is the One.  Your perfect friend.  Your four-legged soul mate.  The new member of your family.  Shelters make all sorts of happily ever afters come true.

Lisa Gardner’s next book is out in January 2014. Learn more about Fear Nothing.

woofatthedoorI’ve always loved wild things.

Even when I was a little girl I was fascinated by the beauty and wonder of the natural world. I blame my early upbringing in Central America. My family moved to Costa Rica when I was a few months old, so I grew up on a coffee farm in the rain forest. Such a lush vibrant setting wasn’t wasted on me.

When I was three, sitting in the backyard near a blooming bush that had attracted a swarm of swallowtail butterflies, I held my pudgy little finger up in the air. My mom asked me what I was doing. I told her I was waiting for a butterfly to land on my finger.

“Laura, sweetheart, a butterfly isn’t going to land on your finger,” she said, sorry to spoil the moment.

“Yes, it will,” I told her.  And it did.

As a young teenager in Florida, I learned there was more to nature than just delicate beauty. I spent countless hours on the beaches of the Gulf of Mexico. This might not sound like the most treacherous place on earth compared to the Costa Rican jungle, but when the undertow current of those calm Gulf waters claimed the life of a friend’s mother, I understood.  Nature is beautiful, but she mustn’t be underestimated.

Working at a zoo gave me another perspective. Wild things are truly wild. No matter the time spent raised by and cared for by humans, they are not ours. The animals I worked with had a depth and intelligence so different than the pets I’d grown accustomed to. I knew I could never forget that.

I’m honored to have the opportunity to write a mystery series that allows me to include domestic animals but also walks a little bit on the wild side.


yonahlosseeI was nine years old when my friend Emily took me to Bar-B-Ranch.  I had no other barn to compare it to, so Bar-B-Ranch felt like a paradise, but now I understand that it was shoddily run, with horses that no one else wanted and a motley assortment of bridles, saddles, and teenagers who taught us.  The way that it worked seems unfathomable to me as an adult:  day camp, held every Saturday, officially started at 8:00 in the morning, but the first kid there got to choose any horse she wanted.  And so I was always the first kid; we would leave the house at 5 AM (that what was my parents’ limit) and arrive at 5:20; then my dad or mom, whoever drew the short straw that day, would wait in the car until the sun rose, and then drive away.  I would sleep in my breeches the night before.  But I could barely sleep—the anticipation felt so acute it was almost painful.  The next earliest child arrived at 7, and so I was always first, except for one time, when an eager girl with curly hair, a little older than I, beat me by fifteen minutes.  It did not happen again.

After you chose your horse (I always chose CJ until a beautiful white mare EPSON MFP imagenamed Crystal came along).  CJ was old and grouchy but he was fast, and had a smooth gait.  You chose your style of riding for the day:  English, Western, or bareback.  I chose bareback, or English .  Then the teenagers would herd the two dozen children and their horses into a big field, and we would ride for hour, culminating in a race back to the barn, which is, I know now, an awful, dangerous idea.

For lunch we all piled in the backs of two pick-up trucks and went to McDonald’s; we came back and re-saddled our horses and went on a trail ride, which usually meant that we alternated between walking slowly and galloping wildly through the woods behind the ranch.  Then our parents would come to collect us, and I always hated this moment, because it meant another six days between me and a horse.

EPSON MFP imageThere were so many ways that a child could have gotten hurt:  I could have so easily fallen from CJ on the race back to the barn, and been trampled beneath the other horses’ hooves.  Or been hit by a low-flung branch while galloping through the densely wooded trails.  At every other barn I rode at my parents had to sign a release form, and I had to adhere to so many safety precautions that I learned to be cautious around horses.  It seems impossible that no child was ever seriously injured at Bar-B-Ranch.  Yet no one ever was, at least to my knowledge, and the place’s continued existence seems proof that nothing horrible ever happened.   It was a place where you could do anything on a horse—you could jump bareback, you could ride backwards, you could even win a race against twenty other horses—and do all of this fearlessly.

lola1Lola is my cat. As you can see from the pictures, she’s very into books. (OK there may have been catnip involved…) I didn’t grow up with pets, but a few years ago, I became a cat person when I adopted a beautiful 9 year old cat from the ASPCA. She was lovely and taught me almost everything I needed to know about cats. But she was diagnosed with cancer less than two years later and has since passed on.

I am fortunate that I have family members who live nearby. Admittedly, my grandmother is not very fond of animals, but being my grandmother, she listened to my blubbering and was sad about my cat’s death because I was sad about it. I didn’t think she could really help but then she did something unexpected: drawing on an inherently grandmotherish trait, she played cat matchmaker.

lola2Around the time I was grieving for my cat, a friend of my grandmother’s inherited a cat from a relative who had died of cancer. Now this woman was fond of cats, but didn’t really have time for a pet, and Lola had only lived with her relative for a year, so it wasn’t like she was a cherished family pet. But they still wanted to make sure Lola (who was simply called ‘Cat’ at the time) went to a good home. Lola was from a municipal shelter on Long Island and they knew if she went back there she might eventually be euthanized, if no one adopted her. So our two tragedies ended up creating an opportunity for me and ‘Cat’.

The Humane Society is a great organization because it advocates for animals on a national level. While the society doesn’t run shelters, those are run locally, it seeks make the public aware of the many animals that end up in shelters with nowhere else to go.

Lola_sleepingWe hope with Read Humane, you’ll read some great books, but also that when you think about getting a pet, you think first about going to a shelter rather than a breeder. We’ve loved sharing our pets with you on the blog this month. Click here to see a list of all our pets featured.

-Julie Schaeffer, Sr. Online Content Coordinator

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hershey1Hershey and I met one winter afternoon in 2007. Our first family dog, also a rescue, had recently passed away and we were looking to give another shelter dog a home. My internet search led me to Abandoned Angels, a cocker spaniel rescue group in Queens, and within days I was sitting on the floor at a vet’s office in Flushing, playing with a tentative, skinny, shaved-nearly-to-the-skin chocolate brown dog with the most adorable face and little tan socks I’d ever seen. At the end of my visit, he put his front paws in my lap and licked my face, and I was done for. Hershey came home with me just in time for the weekend, and six years on, he’s my mischievous, playful, loving, not-so-skinny fur child whose full bodied wiggle of a greeting when I walk in the door at the end of the day never fails to melt my heart.

I am so proud to be a part of a company that is committed to raising awareness about rescue animals through the Read Humane campaign, and I hope my post and the stories of my fellow co-workers inspire you to learn more and visit a shelter today!


- Farin Schlussel, Publicity and Marketing Assistant, Gotham/Avery

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familyportaitI never considered myself a dog person – that is, until my husband Sean and I adopted Jacob.  Now I know that I was just waiting for the right dog.

Jacob was picked up on the street with a pack of wild dogs and dropped off at a kill shelter in Georgia.  Second Chance at Life, a New Jersey rescue organization consisting mostly of a small network of foster homes, found Jacob and posted him on their website for adoption.  When we came across the posting, we immediately fell in love with him.  Our first several months with Jacob were difficult, as we dealt with a severe case of fleas, social anxiety, and separation anxiety.  He just always looked so sad and scared.  I remember telling Sean that I thought dogs were supposed to wag their tails.

jakeAlmost three years later, Jacob is a happy, incredibly loved, and (mostly) normal dog.  While I admit getting him to this point hasn’t been easy, I wouldn’t change a thing.  Knowing that we have dramatically increased the quality of his life is the only thing that really matters.  The difference we’ve made is clear to me whenever I see Jacob happily wagging his tail (it does work!).

I am incredibly proud to work for a company that supports the fight against animal cruelty and understands the importance and impact of programs like Read Humane!

-Sonia Lynaugh, Recruiter

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me and stinky I met Stinkyboy in 1998 at the San Francisco SPCA while accompanying a friend who was looking to adopt a cat. While she was busy looking at kittens, I was busy being wooed by the scraggly-looking, slightly cranky, white-and-brown alley cat in the next cage.

Stinkyboy had just been rescued the week before and was a complete mess: covered in cuts and scratches, had every kind of intestinal parasite you can imagine and his left eye was completely swollen shut. (Also? He smelled pretty bad. Thus the name Stinkyboy). Of course I took him home.

A year later, Stinkyboy and I moved to New York City to start my career in publishing; once we got buddycatthere I decided that Stinkyboy needed a cat of his own. This time I hit the Kitty Kind shelter in Union Square, and found BuddyCat, a sweet six-month old black kitten who had been found half-frozen in a snowdrift. I fell in love instantly, and BuddyCat came home to live with us. The three of us have been an oddball furry little family for nearly fourteen years now; I can’t imagine not having either of them in my life. Every day I am cognizant of the fact that my four-legged family wouldn’t exist if it were not for rescue organizations and the dedicated people who run them. I’m thrilled that Penguin donates money and time every year to the Humane Society’s Animal Rescue Team with their Read Humane partnership; I hope you’ll choose to support Read Humane as well!

- Colleen Lindsay, Marketing NAL/Berkley

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HollyMy daughter Olivia always wanted a kitten. And having grown up with cats, I know that there is nothing that makes an apartment or house feel more like a home than the company of an animal.

So, one day after we moved to Brooklyn, Olivia and I went over to BARC (Brooklyn Animal Rescue Center) to adopt a kitten. When we got there, Olivia noticed an orange female nursing a litter of 4 kittens. She asked the shelter worker on duty about all 4 kittens, and found out that 3 of the 4 were already adopted. The worker told her that kittens were adopted quickly, and that Olivia was lucky that there was even one left!

Olivia picked up a kitten, pet it and put it back down. Then, she asked the worker what was going to happen to the mother of the kittens. The worker told her that it could take a long time, but that hopefully the mother would eventually find a home too. Then Olivia said, “Dad, I think I’d like to adopt the mommy. She’s the one who really needs to find a home. I’ll name her Holiday Hills and we’ll call her Holly for short.”

We love our new addition to our family and I am so proud that Penguin recognizes the importance of the Humane Society Animal Rescue Team by supporting it with a program like Read Humane!

-Hank Cochrane, Director Trade Paperback Sales

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spot and beth1When friends meet my rotund, midnight-black cat, they invariably ask me: “Why would you name him Spot? He doesn’t have any spots on him.”

His name makes perfect sense to me. Ten years ago I had a friend with an adorable black-and-white spotted cat. I dubbed him “Cow Cat.” I had just moved into my own place, and the apartment felt somewhat empty. I wanted a pet for companionship—one that was as cool and friendly as Cow Cat.

I visited many rescue homes and shelters, looking for just the right cat, but all the spotted cats that I met seemed either standoffish or frightened. After weeks of searching, I arrived at the Yonkers Animal Shelter, where a skinny black cat with a huge head ran up to me and didn’t leave my side the entire time I was there. I gravitated toward the cow-like cats, and still, this big-headed black cat continued to rub against my legs. He chose me and now was doing all he could to let me know that, no matter what, he was going spothome with me. Who was I to argue?

I didn’t need much convincing. The more I petted him, the more I thought that he was the pet I was looking for all along. He was the black spot from Cow Cat. From then on, he became my Spot.

And he is the friendliest, most snuggly cat I have ever met. He may not be skinny any longer, and his head no longer is freakishly spotout of proportion with his body, but he still follows me around everywhere, reminding me every day of why we were meant to be together. Even if it takes some explaining, Spot truly is the perfect name for my 20-pound snuggle machine.

I love the idea of Read Humane and am so proud to be a part of an organization that values rescue animals and organizations. You can tell when you bring home a rescue how appreciative they are, and you get back so much love from them.

- Beth Parker, Associate Director of Publicity, Gotham/Avery

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