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Wednesday, July 29, 2015

A Middle Grade Love Story...About a Girl and her Dog

Remember Middle School? Bullies. Friendship. Crushes. Trying to fit in.
Imagine going through all that with epilepsy.
Today's spotlight is on Katy Newton Naas and her new Middle Grade novel,

Back Cover Blurb:
When Kinsey Lydell enters seventh grade, the only thing she wants is to fit in. But being like everyone else isn’t easy when you have epilepsy. Especially when that means a dog has to follow you around everywhere you go. 

Drake, Kinsey’s assistance dog, has been her best friend since the day she met him. They have a special connection – he can sense her seizures before they occur. The other students have always loved having Drake in the classroom, making Kinsey feel special, not strange. But just a short time in a new middle school changes all of that. 

Kinsey can’t help but admire Taylor Thompson. The boys like her and the girls want to be like her. But from the first day of school, it’s clear that Taylor is determined to make Kin-sey feel like an outsider. Suddenly, her best friend – the one who lives his whole life just to protect her – becomes her source of humiliation.

            It happens so fast, I don’t have time to be scared. A strange smell, sort of metallic, fills my nostrils. My vision gets blurry, just slightly, and I feel like I’m a million miles away. If I’m in the middle of a conversation, the person talking suddenly sounds like they’re speaking a different language. I feel a cold wind blowing against my skin, but I start to sweat. My head feels light and the next thing I know, I’m waking up on the ground and it’s over. I have no memory of the episode itself, but every muscle in my body aches. It makes Mrs. Henshaw’s famous physical fitness test in PE class seem like a relaxing stroll on the beach. I am so sore that for days, my body struggles to recover from the two--minute workout of a lifetime.
            This is the best description of what it’s like to have a seizure that I can give. I get asked all the time, from curious classmates or family members, to tell them how it feels. But the truth is, as far as the seizure itself, I have absolutely no idea how to describe it. I
can’t remember them, any of them. Though I remember what it feels like just before, the symptoms hit me all at once, and before I can even warn the people around me, it takes over. And there is absolutely nothing I can do to stop it. I can’t even slow it down. It
takes control of me; it owns me.
            My name is Kinsey Lydell, and I have epilepsy. My seizures are called tonic-clonic, which is a fancy way of saying I have the really scary ones. No one knows why I have it. None of the usual explanations are there: I haven’t suffered any head trauma or brain injury, and I have no history of it in my family. When I was born, I was normal, and then one day, I wasn’t.
            It happened when I was only three years old. I don’t remember my first seizure, but I once heard my mom tell my doctor all the details. “We were just sitting on the floor. Kinsey was building a tower out of blocks, and then suddenly her eyes went
blank. I knew something was wrong, but before I could react she was lying in the floor. Her body convulsed and her eyes rolled back in her head. I rushed to the phone to dial nineoneone, but before they even answered the call, the seizure was over. She was crying hysterically, so confused…how do you explain to a threeyearold what just happened when you don’t understand it yourself?”
            When I heard my mom telling that story, she didn’t know I was listening. She was in our living room, sitting on the edge of the couch while my doctor sat facing her in the recliner. I hid behind the wall in the hallway that led to my bedroom, which was where
they thought I was. Watching my mom’s big blue eyes fill with tears as she relived that moment, her blonde curls bouncing slightly as her shoulders shook, made me sorry I was ever even born. My mom, the funniest, most bubbly person I knew, was in pain. And it was all my fault.
            That first seizure was followed by another one, just two days later. And another one, shortly after that. I was labeled with epilepsy before my fourth birthday. Because I’m the only child in the family, my parents put all their time and energy into “fixing”
me. But the problem with epilepsy is, it’s unfixable. There is no cure. There are only ways to control it, to help keep the seizures to a minimum. And if it’s a treatment option, I’ve tried it. Vitamins, medications…I’ve been through them all. There is a really scary
and expensive surgery that I’m not old enough for just yet, and I’m hopeful that by the time I am old enough, I won’t need it. Not because I’m scared – I’m not, really. It’s because I don’t want my parents to have to pay for it. They have spent more money on me over the last nine years than most parents spend on a whole family of kids in a lifetime. I mean, they don’t tell me this, but they don’t have to. I see things; I overhear conversations. I know what I cost them.
            I’m telling you all of this and you’re probably thinking one of two things. One – Wow, poor Kinsey, or two – This girl is a basketcase. And let me assure you that both thoughts are wrong. I am not crazy, and I am definitely not looking for sympathy. My life is wonderful, and living with epilepsy doesn’t change that fact.
            So, let the record show that I am not telling you all of this to make you feel sorry for me or anything like that – I’m telling it because I have a story that deserves to be told. I have been a part of the greatest love story that has ever existed, and a story like this just has to be shared. But don’t worry – this isn’t the mushy, kissy, loveydovey, gross kind of story you see in the movies. This is real; it’s pure and it’s strong. It brings a new meaning to the word unconditional.
            This is a love story about a girl and her dog.

Buy Link:

About the Author:
From the time she was old enough to talk, Katy Newton Naas has been creating characters and telling stories. As a child, they sometimes got her into trouble. She knew she wanted to write books when she won a Young Author's competition as a second-grader for her short story titled, "The Grape Pie." (Don't let its tasty title fool you - it was actually a sad little tale!)

Katy devoured books as a child and young adult, always doing chores and odd jobs in order to make enough money to buy more of them. Though she continues to age, her true literature love is and has always been children's and young adult fiction.

Katy currently teaches middle school reading and high school English in southern Illinois, as well as children's church. She graduated from Southern Illinois University-Carbondale with a bachelor's degree in English Education and a master's degree in Reading and Language Studies. She enjoys her life out in the country with her husband, her sweet and rowdy young SONS (her second son was born just June 22, 2015!), her nine baby ducks, and all her four-legged kids: Shakespeare, Poe, Morgi, Cappy, Ana, and Gray.

She loves creating both realistic and futuristic stories about kids, tweens, and teens, and feels so fortunate to get to work with them every day as a teacher.

Connect with Katy Newton Naas:Website:
Twitter: @KatyNewtonNaas

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