Merry, happy, lovely Christmas to all!

Otis has been enjoying a much deserved rest after his big appearance at the Southern Festival of Books earlier this fall.  Now, he’s gladly lounging under the Christmas tree, enjoying a few (several) extra tasty holiday treats, and all the loving and cuddling his three favorite children can offer.  It’s Christmas at our house, and we are happily tucked into our little cottage for the remainder of the year.  Writing is paused, book promotion is on hold, and all things *family* are in full swing.  Enjoy those you love, share with those who need, and savor, savor savor.

We look forward to greeting you in 2015 with a calendar of appearances and exciting new announcements to unfold.  Until January, friends and followers…

Merry Christmas, and Happy New Year to you all!

Lots of love, Ashley & Otis, and all the crew

Merry Xmas from Otis 2014

OTIS wants YOU…

…to come see him this weekend!  I invite you to share this invitation with everyone you know: repost, retweet, email, whatever social media platform you choose.  Come to the Youth Stage at the Southern Festival of Books on Saturday, at 1pm, and let me thank you in person!  Blessings to all of you who have cheered us on to this milestone.  See you soon!

Ad for Southern Festival of Books time slot

Southern Festival of Books

Otis fans!  Make your plans to join us at the 26th Annual Southern Festival of Books on War Memorial Plaza in downtown Nashville.  The Festival runs all weekend on October 10-12, and there is something for everyone.  Otis and I will be on the Youth Stage on Saturday, October 11, from 1-2pm (click here for a complete schedule), and in the Signing Colonnade immediately after.  Parnassus Books is the onsite bookseller, and they will have Otis Goes to School available for you.  I would love to meet you, sign your books, give you a bookmark from Otis, and thank you personally for joining us on this awesome literary adventure.  And Otis would love some special petting!

All my appreciation and thanks go to Humanities Tennessee and the Festival Committees for including us in this years list of authors.  We are humbled, deeply honored, and so extremely excited to be a part of such a acclaimed tradition and respected event in celebration of the written word.  We want to see you there!

Southern Festival of Books poster image 2014

OGTS new cover pic

It’s a Weekend for the DOGS…

…at the 25th Annual Dog Days celebration, benefitting the Nashville Humane Association!  It’s all happening THIS Saturday, September 20, 10am-4pm, at Centennial Park.  Otis will be right in the middle of the action in the Kid Zone (and there will be lots to do there… Otis will watch you bungee jump!).  He will be ready to receive all the petting you can share, and we’ll gather ’round for storytime in between all the exciting doggie events on the schedule.  We’ll have our books for sale, as well as special edition bookmarks (see below), and we’ll be proudly donating to the NHA.  Join us, in honor of your favorite canine companion!

And bring Fido!  You two can start the day off with some exercise as proud participants in the fabulous Mutt Strutt. And Fido is a sure candidate for the cutest dog contests, or perhaps the best trick contest, or maybe best pet costume is up your alley… and you definitely need to plan to have your puppy’s portrait made for a keepsake.  Join the Paws Parade at Noon, and have your fill of food truck delights while you enjoy live music and shop all the doggie-necessity vendors who will be there.  After you admire the amazing K-9 unit demonstrations, it may very well be time to head over to the adoption area and add the perfect family member to your arms.

If you love dogs, then Centennial Park is the place for you to be this Saturday.  Otis gives two ears up to the NHA!

 

 

OGTS DogDays 2014 bookmark

I love Otis.3

Original OGTS bookmark with online tags

Read much? Love dogs?

Then you need a placeholder between your pages that makes you smile!

Please consider giving $1 or more for this bookmark–any donation amount that makes you feel involved–and 100% of the profits will go straight to the Nashville Humane Association, benefitting dogs just like our beloved Otis (and lots of other animals, too!).  How many bookmarks do you need?  Email ashleybramlett.author@yahoo.com and let me know… today!

And then come meet us at the 25th Anniversary Dog Days Celebration in Nashville (benefitting the NHA), on September 20, 2014, and Otis will thank you in person… or in canine!

Pass the word… post it on Facebook… retweet on Twitter… call you animal-loving friends and send them my way.  Thank you, in advance, for your help!

Email ashleybramlett.author@yahoo.com and let me know how many bookmarks you would like to purchase!

Email ashleybramlett.author@yahoo.com and let me know how many bookmarks you would like to purchase!

Happy National Bacon Day from Otis!

It’s another all-American day of observance to pay homage to something fun for everyone… and this time, something delicious!  It’s National Bacon Day… and it’s also the first weekend of college football.  Coink-y-dink? Surely not!  

We’ve already shared a pic of our family with Otis (via Twitter on Thursday), displaying the football team to whom we pledge our loyalty… (click here to see our Rebel family).

So now, here’s Otis and his tribute to Bacon Day.  He’s really a good, sweet and patient dog.  He deserves every bite, don’t you think?  Pick up a copy of his book and find out just how great he really is!

Happy Bacon Day

 

 

Hey Nashville Dog Lovers… Strutt Your Mutt!

Did everyone have an awesome National Dog Day?  Right on the heels of such a fun phenomenon comes this event you won’t want to miss…

Otis proudly invites you and every fabulous fido fan you know to join him at Nashville’s 25th Annual Dog Day Festival on Saturday, September 20, 2014, at Centennial Park!  We will be there, and we’ll be donating a portion of all book sales to the Nashville Humane Association.

Click here to visit the Festival link.

Click here to visit the Festival link.

This charity is close to our hearts because Otis was once a lost dog, waiting on his forever family.  He was a pound puppy (originally named, Bear), adopted by some college guys who changed his name to Otis, but did not set out to find him when he wandered off one summer.  Otis found us, nosing under the wobbly fence plank that had been weakened by the Nashville floods.  A week of searching for his owner concluded with the discovery that his previous owner was neither looking for him nor concerned for his well being, and if Otis came back, he would be returned to the pound for the convenience of the previous owner.  Of course, the rest of the story is the beautiful history of how Otis became ours, and we became his.  It’s all within the chapters of Otis Goes to School.

Come out and meet this courageous canine at the Dog Day Festival… you’ll love him from first sight!

From now through the day of the Festival, we will be selling special edition bookmarks for $1 each, or any donation you’d like to make, and all the profits will go to the Nashville Humane Association.  We will also be hosting book sales to donate part of the proceeds (and 100% of donations) to the NHA.

Comment below or email ashleybramlett.author@yahoo.com to make a donation and receive your books and bookmarks.  Or, give us a shout on Facebook or on Twitter @OtisGoes!

Here’s the first of several special edition bookmarks… who wants one?  You do!

OGTS DogDays 2014 bookmark

Epiphany

How about an uplifting, encouraging, jump-start-to-gumption word-of-the-day for a Monday? Straight from the Vocabulary of Otis: EPIPHANY.

EPIPHANY: a sudden understanding of something

Chapter 11 of Otis Goes to School is entitled, “Kindergarten.”  On his mission to find out what happens at school all day, Otis peers through a window pane and observes a classroom of these baby students:

“He saw his smiling girl in the bunch of fledgling readers, all focused together, waiting for the teacher’s approval in their discoveries of letter sounds that were turning into words before their very eyes. He was witnessing an epiphany, at the spellbinding hands and wise ways of this gentle lady who cared for his girl everyday at School.”

Of course, as one might expect, these young ones are learning to read.  Some of them will pick it up quickly, as a second-nature sort of hobby (I have one child who loves to lose himself in words unfolding like a magical red carpet across the page, and has since he began to string letter sounds together.).  Some of them might have known how to read before Kindergarten even began.  Some will take their sweet time, a gift enjoyed only by children, and pined after by those of us who have braved the phenomenon of adulthood.  There will also be those who find no interest at all in the reading skill just yet, who would rather build with blocks, win imaginary Matchbox car races, paint or daydream… at least, for a while (Another of my children fit this bill at this tender age.).

Imagine those precious Kindergarten teachers, evaluating and discerning each child’s reading level, taking those darling little hands at the door as Mom or Dad say goodbye for the day, and leading them into a brand new phase of life.  These are days that they will grow exponentially–not always necessarily in body, but in mind.  Given the chance to bloom at their own pace, they all will blossom into gardens unimagined, save by the superior and unmatched, imaginative design of the Creator who knit each of them carefully, with more precision than our human minds could possibly comprehend. (Psalm 139:13)

The way the mind of a child works is magnificent, and to witness the lighting of a flame, the flipping of the switch, the lightbulb going on–to see sheer delight spread from ear to ear when those funny-shaped, quirky letters finally jump in line to make a word–is to observe an epiphany.

My child who has the gift of being in this moment and taking her sweet time, reading to her little brother on the first day of summer.  This was an epiphany on many levels! Brother realizes sister can read; Sister realizes how happy Little Brother is when she reads to him; Mommy enjoys a flash in time she won't forget!

My child (who has the gift of being in this moment and taking her sweet time), reading to her little brother on the first day of summer. This was an epiphany on many levels! Brother realizes sister can read; Sister realizes how happy Little Brother is when she reads to him; Mommy enjoys a flash in time she won’t forget!

That said, let us not neglect the many other epiphanies in our little folks’ lives, and mistakenly deny the joy deserved therefor.  I have seen such happiness on the face of one proud little fellow at figuring out how the lunch line actually works, and getting it right for the first time.  High five, whippersnapper!

I have seen a little girl stand with a bit more confidence, and maybe even a bit taller, when she received an unexpected compliment for her politeness and ability to follow directions and set a fine example.  Keep smiling, my dear!

I have watched some pretty fast legs push the limit of “walking” in the hall, out of the pride that comes with the authority to venture all the way to the library alone, choose a book, check it out, and return to class on time.  Knew you could, bud!

I’ve hugged one little darling whose tears showed her uncertainty about when Mom would arrive for afternoon pick-up, and then her elated heart and wide spread arms when Mom’s familiar car just so happened to be first in line.  So thankful your school day ended with joy, beautiful child!

And how about the dreamy little artist-the one who paints watercolors with a little bit of fairy dust, who can fashion a flower uncannily like Monet?  Or, the speedy-footed athlete who can somehow recall more stats than an ESPN commentator on Monday morning?  Or, the shy little elfkin who figured out how to string clovers together without breaking a stem?  No doubt I could share endless examples worthy of such a word-of-the-day.  But you get the picture.  Have you experienced the epiphany…?

Could you figure out the lunch line, the library and the pick-up line, all while being polite, following directions, setting an example, painting, playing, keeping your energetic legs from running in the halls, AND learning to read?  Could you do it all at age 5 or 6?  The fact is, we all had to try, didn’t we?  We’ve all been through what our children are learning at this age, though we might not remember it all.

If we were afforded the chance to BE these children, way back when it was our turn, then we were the lucky ones.  If you are encouraging and celebrating these childish epiphanies with your children, be they of your own household or your classroom, then your children are the lucky ones.  It’s a big deal when they can brush their own teeth.  It’s amazing when they spread butter on their own toast.  It speaks volumes of their character when they summon the confidence to read in front of the class.  And when they learn the joy of showering others with kindness, even before they are asked–well–that epiphany drops seeds that spread like wildfire in the way the Good Lord intended.

It’s a sudden understanding of something.  It’s the “sudden” ingredient that makes it stick.  Let us celebrate in what seems to be “little things” to us wise-ol’ adults, but what are, to our children, brilliant discoveries of the ways their world works.  Let us allow them their epiphanies, and be so very proud of their abilities, personalities and talents.  It is ground that must be broken again and again, to each his own path, in his own time.

Sweet, sweet time… would that we all take it like children… and Otis.

Here’s hoping for beautiful epiphanies in your world today, and may you find joy therein. We hope you’ll stay with us as we see just how far @OtisGoes!

 

Catching the breeze on the way to drop the children off on their first day at school.

Catching the breeze on the way to drop the children off on their first day at school.