Saturday, August 15, 2009

Book Giveaway!

While I have been the lucky recipient of several lovely items from giveaways on other blogs, I have never held a contest of my own. It's time! The prize? A copy of the children's book, Katie of the Sonoran Desert, written by Kate Jackson and illustrated by moi.

Here are the rules. The contest is open to people living in Canada and the US (if you are one of my Sri Lankan friends, please forgive me but Canada Post gouges us beyond belief for international mail! But I can bring you copies when we visit SL again.) To qualify, you just have to leave a comment telling me something good about snakes, or about an encounter you had with a snake that didn't end in its death! I will put all the entries in a bag and let the Hubster draw the winner. Make sure you leave your blog address or email so that I can actually contact you if you win. The contest closes at midnight EST on Saturday, August 22nd, which gives you a whole week to come up with something. One entry per person please! The winner will have the book mailed to them and if you want it signed, you can let me know.

I worked on the illustrations for this book over a period of about 3-1/2 years, on and off. While I studied life drawing for two years while doing my graphic design studies, drawing people has always been more difficult and less fun for me than drawing animals. But in Katie, I had to do several illustrations of the main human characters, a pair of herpetologists named Kate and Roger. Often, I made my husband stand in for them and pose while I took photos for reference.

This has resulted in some odd shots popping up in my iPhoto library, like this:

Gordon was holding a garbage bag to simulate Kate holding a snake bag. In particular, I wanted a good reference picture of the hand holding the bag. The real-life Kate doesn't collect snakes in trash bags, however. She has a collection of fabric bags custom-sewn for her by her grandmother!

Another challenge was to figure out what a herpetologist's limbs would look like when holding a radio-tracking antenna. So my willing assistant struck this non-Vogue pose:

As it turned out, there was no holding of the earpiece to ear in real life snake-tracking, so I ended up using only Gordon's right arm for reference. I made it more feminine and considerably less hairy, and voilà, it became the arm of Kate the herpetologist.

If you want to read more about the real-life Kate, author of the book, check out this page , then read her adult non-fiction book about her Congo expedition, Mean and Lowly Creatures: Snakes Science and Survival in the Congo.

So get going with the snake comments, and next week we'll pick our lucky winner. And if you just want to BUY a copy, there are links on the right side of my blog showing where you can purchase one! The book still doesn't have a distributor in Canada, so feel free to nag your bookstore to stock it. We're working on this. Also feel free to ask your library to buy a copy!


  1. I hope you have saved a signed copy for me. Will you be at ATCs next Saturday?

  2. I have and I will, but it's the 29th, right? :)

  3. I love books! And a snake book is a great book for soon-to-be-arriving little boys.

    My story: I put myself through university working for a vet in Vancouver who looked after all manner of creatures - including snakes. We had one girl come in who was having a hard time shedding her skin (it was a vitamin deficiency in her diet) and one of us had to bathe her at least twice a day. Because my coworker was a bit squeamish, I wound up bathing her. She was terribly affectionate with me after the first couple of baths and soon responded to me by wrapping around my arm, coming to the door of her enclosure when I came in to see her, that sort of thing.

    After about a week, she went home again, shedding skin beautifully, and with a few injections of vitamins under her belt, she was well on her way to perfect health.

    I'll never forget her because I was so surprised at the level of interaction I had with her.

    How's that for a good snake story? :)

  4. THAT is a FANTASTIC story!!!! And did I know you were having twins and forget?! That's wonderful, Michele. :)

  5. I was born in Calcutta, India. We had a nice back yard.

    Occasionally, a Snake Man would come to visit. I can't recall why my parents ever allowed it, but there would be the Snake Man (wallah), a scarily large cobra and a mongoose.

    I know it sounds like the old hack but it was real.

    One day the Snake Man came and tried to start the fight in our back yard between the mongoose and the cobra but the cobra refused to cooperate.

    I have never seen a creature move so fast.

    And I have never seen a Snake Man move so fast to recapture it.

    I love snakes. They're good and gentle creatures and don't deserve all the bad press. All you don't have to do is step on them.

  6. A small garter snake made its way into the wood room off the back of the house. Unfortunately (for the snake) three of my cats sleep there. In the morning, the poor thing was in a complete knot and all three cats staring at it. I thought it was dead as it was completely still. But the good news is that I put it outside on the grass, it gathered itself together, unravelled itself and slithered off. Lucky snake!

  7. Oh well..just as well I don't have a snake story ;o)
    I am hoping the book will be available here 'cause the shipping is almost equivalent to the cost of the book if i order online :o(

  8. We have a garder snake living under our deck and air conditioning units. We have named him No-feet. We have one of his shedded skins...very cool!

  9. I don't have a snake story to tell. I've just encountered maybe a couple in my life and those were some harmless garden snakes.

  10. That's good enough for an entry Monika!:)))

  11. Last weekend Scout (my puppy) discovered a garter snake winding its way thru the backyard of our cabin. Scout was very gentle and just sniffed it - very curious. Didn't paw it at all. The snake went about its way just continuing on its journey. I think its the only snake I'm not afraid of!

  12. Aw, what a good girl Scout is! Tristan and Sophie want to kill snakes. :(

  13. Anonymous12:25 pm

    Here's a snake story for you - my mom had a pet snake when I was a baby. I have a picture of the snake crawling through the curlers in my mom's hair while she is holding me... perhaps that's why I'm a bit squeamish now??

    And I see there is another Michele with twin boys arriving - small world! I'm Michelle with twin boys who are almost four. It's a crazy, wonderful thing to have two boys the same age!

  14. I have never been strangled by a boa constrictor, and for that I am grateful.

  15. Growing up, I spent all my week-ends and holidays up in the Laurentians and there were all sorts of critters from frogs to moles to snakes to birds. My sister Anne is the uber animal lover and our family always had either a wild bird, frog, fish and even snakes living with us. One day Anne got spooked by something on her leg and sent it flying on to a rock. Needless to say, the pood snake was stunned and Anne felt terrible as it was bleeding a bit. So she ran back in and came back out with the first aid kit to mend it. Thankfully, the snake regained consciousness and slithered off before Anne pourred mercurochrome on it!!!

  16. Sorry about the typos. I snuck this comment from work. (TSK. TSK to me!)

  17. THese stories are GREAT!! I should have a contest every week. :) Love it!

  18. I lived with my brother and SIL for about 3 months when I was in 9th grade, and their kids had a pet garter snake. I wasn't overly fond of snakes (I mostly overcame that fear later on, although I'd prefer that venomous snakes keep to their habitat and I'll stick to mine) but I was ok until the snake disappeared one day and then week later I almost stepped on it bare footed while walking through the house!

    I actually like the way snakes feel and there is such an amazing variety of patterns their skins have.

    I'm so excited to see the book finally in print, I am recommending it to everyone I know and all the libraries around here.

    Nancy and the GSD crew

  19. I am a kindergarten teacher and would love to share your book.

    I haven't had many personal encounters, but my dog has had a few. I heard her barking in our yard one day and went out to investigate. I noticed a little gardner snake and, not wanting her to be too scared of (or playful with) it, I found a long stick and gently threw it over into the neighbor's yard.

    Sadly, a few days later, we had a freak snow storm that froze everything pretty well. I looked out and saw my dog now playing with something that looked like a hose. Upon closer inspection, I noticed that it was our little snake friend, now frozen to death, unknowingly being tossed around by our dog playing with her newest toy. Sad. I took the same stick from before and gently carried her to the garbage can, not wanting Kate (the dog) to be too friendly with a snake, dead or alive.

  20. Hello?
    Am I caller no 63?
    I would love to get something free!
    Is there a skill-testing question?
    By the way, I love those birds!

  21. No worries, Newsman, You're in! :)

  22. I enountered the odd snakes at martinique beach,and should I win with this story,
    please donate my win to one of the other entrees , because I have your book already and love it!

  23. Glad you like it, Willie!


Thank you for all your comments, which I love to read!