Posted by: Kathy Temean | August 20, 2019

Book Giveaway – BOOMER AT YOUR SERVICE by Vanessa Keel

Vanessa Keel’s debut picture book titled, BOOMER AT YOUR SERVICE. It is coming out in October. The illustrator is Adriana Hernandez Bergstrom and is published by Spork. Vanessa has agreed to share a copy with one lucky winner. All you have to do to get in the running is to leave a comment. Reblog, tweet, or talk about it on Facebook with a link and you will get additional chances to win. Just let me know the other things you do to share the good news, so I can put in the right amount of tickets in my basket for you.

Sharing on Facebook, Twitter, reblogging really helps spread the word for a new book. Thanks for helping Vanessa!

If you have signed up to follow my blog and it is delivered to you everyday, please let me know when you leave a comment and I will give you an extra ticket. Thanks!


When disaster strikes at Boomer’s Service Dog Graduation Day, he sets off to find a family on his own. Catastrophe after calamity leave him feeling hopeless until a furry feline changes his fate forever. Boomer discovers friendship, his happily-ever-after home, and his special purpose in life.


In one way or another, I’ve been storytelling through my advertising career for over fifteen years. But there was something that happened two years ago that led me to write for a different purpose. I lost my father to a long battle with Mesothelioma. For over seven years, I lived in fear that he would miss important milestones in my life. My worst nightmare came true when he passed a week before my baby was born. It was a very difficult time filled with many emotions. It was like a scary roller coaster from which I could not get off. I was happy one moment holding my new son, and in the next I couldn’t control my sobbing. This went on for a couple of months until I started feeling a little like myself again. I began writing in the quiet moments. Stories and characters just started finding their way to the page and it became the cathartic experience I needed to start the healing process.

When my maternity leave was coming to an end (much sooner than I was ready to accept), I had a serious conversation with my husband. I decided I needed a major life change. I wanted to spend as much time with my family as possible and really explore this whole writing thing. I knew my career in advertising would not afford that luxury. We decided I would take one year off from my job to pursue this dream. Well, I never looked back.

I began speaking to anyone in the industry who was willing to talk to me. I connected with other writers, agents, publishers and just started asking questions about how to get started. Early on, I was pointed to Kathy Temean’s blog which I followed religiously. I read about the Children’s Book Academy, joined a free webinar, and became hooked. I enrolled in my first course – The Craft and Business of Writing Children’s Books in 2018. It was a crash course in everything I needed to know about breaking into the business. Before this class, I was writing manuscripts but I still needed to hone the techniques to make them great.

About midway through the class I took what I had learned and started writing a new manuscript about a dog named, Boomer. I fell in love with him right away because he is a complete klutz oblivious to what is happening around him. He longs to be a service dog but he is misunderstood and doesn’t quite have all the required characteristics to become one. Boomer eventually does find his happily-ever-after home and he is accepted for who he is, finding his true purpose in life.

I won a Golden Ticket contest in the class which gave me a chance at publication. To my surprise and delight, Boomer At Your Service captured the attention of Dr. Mira Reisberg and Callie Metler-Smith of Clear Fork Publishing/Spork Children’s Books. It has been a fabulous and exciting ride ever since.

Mira contracted the amazing Adriana Hernández Bergstrom to illustrate and I was just blown away by her work. I loved the soft color palette she chose and the way she captured Boomer’s emotions. Adriana brought life to my story and characters and has been so delightful to work with on this project.

I also knew I wanted to do something special with this book. I partnered with a non-profit organization called Merlin’s KIDS. They rescue shelter dogs, train them to be service dogs, and pair them with special needs children. I worked with the founder of Merlin’s KIDS, canine behaviorist Janice Wolfe, to create educational back matter about how to interact with service dogs. I’ve been engrossed in the organization ever since and I’m inspired by their work every day. I therefore pledged to donate the profits from my preorder book sales in honor of National Service Dog month this September to Merlin’s KIDS. I recently created this video about a young girl with autism who received a service dog from this organization. I hope it inspires you to preorder my book and share this message with friends and family. Boomer At Your Service releases officially on October 15, 2019.


Boomer At Your Service is Vanessa Keel’s debut picture book. With over fifteen years of creative advertising experience, Vanessa writes with commercial possibilities in mind. She’s an active SCBWI member, Children’s Book Academy graduate, and co-founder of the debut author group, #OntheScenein19. She lives in New Jersey with her British husband and boisterous baby boy. To learn more, please visit And follow Vanessa on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

The year 2017 was a pivotal one for me. I lost my father to a long battle with cancer two weeks before giving birth to my baby boy. I was grieving, while trying to figure out how to be a first-time mom. I didn’t know what I was doing at all!  I’m sure many of you can relate. It was an emotional roller coaster to say the least and it took me a long time to feel “normal” again. Writing became the outlet I needed to get me through.

Before I knew it, my maternity leave was coming to an end and I made the very difficult decision to leave my career in Integrated Marketing. I’ve never quit anything in my life! But if there’s one thing I learned during that tumultuous time, it’s that life is too short. We need to do what inspires us and spend the time we have doing what we love. For me, that meant spending every moment possible with my family and embarking on a new journey writing picture books.

​​That’s how this all started. The ideas, characters, and stories began pouring out of me. Working for more than 15 years in advertising for some of the biggest names in the biz (Sony Entertainment, Disney, New Line Cinema, Yahoo) has not only prepared me for the deadline-driven world of an author, it has also created the foundation for storytelling to many different audiences.

“One Door Opens…” is a catchy name for my blog. It’s also my mantra because while I made the scary decision to close one door, I can’t wait to see what awaits behind the next.

Thank you Vanessa for sharing your book and Journey with us. This is such a unique book. I am sure children will be drawn to the text and the cute illustrations. Good luck!

Talk tomorrow,



  1. I loved ready about your writing journey. Congratulations on Boomer! This sounds like a perfect book! Yay! (I follow this blog.)


  2. Congratulations Vanessa. This sounds like a wonderful book that supports a great cause.


  3. I’m a huge animal lover (plus write books about them and volunteer with them @ my SPCA) and this sounds like a marvelous title–congrats! I’m adding to my wish list. I also follow this blog:-)


  4. I can’t wait to read your beautiful book, Vanessa! Kathy, I’m subscribed to your blog. 🙂


  5. I can’t wait to read this wonderful book. I plan to give it the families of each of my four nephews. The kiddos will love it! (I do follow your blog, Kathy.)


  6. Wonderful cause and book! I can’t wait to read BOOMER AT YOUR SERVICE! (I will repost on FB, Twitter and my blog.)


  7. Congrats on your new book, Vanessa. 🙂


  8. Thank you for sharing your writing journey. It’s something I needed to hear at the moment to confirm some decisions I have been contemplating about with my own writing. Especially about writing manuscripts but still needing to hone the techniques to make them great. Congratulations and I look forward to reading your book!


  9. Thanks for sharing your writing journey! Congratulations, Vanessa! And, I’m following your blog, Kathy.


  10. What an inspiring story! I love the premise of the book and can’t wait to meet Boomer.


  11. Congratulations to the writer and illustrator!!!! We love you Adrianna!! ❤️❤️❤️


  12. I am so happy to see your story coming out for kids. I know they’ll love it! Happy sales to you, Boomer, and Adriana!


    • Thank you, Rinda!


      • Wow! What a wonderful book! Congratulations, Vanessa! I loved hearing your journey to publication.

        Also posting to Facebook and Twitter.


  13. Thank you so much for telling us about Merlin’s KIDS and sharing your journey to publication. I love your heart and your mission. Can’t wait to read BOOMER AT YOUR SERVICE! (Kathy, I am subscribed to your blog.)


  14. I’ve been looking forward to this book since first hearing about it! My dog’s name is Boomer, so it has an especially warm place in my heart already. Congratulations!! (Kathy, I subscribe and look forward to your posts.)


  15. Congrats – love the story idea and characters!


  16. What a sweet and gentle book about kindness and helping others. Just what I need to read to my class! I do follow this blog everyday. Will also post this on my FB page.


  17. Thank you all so much for the well wishes, shares, and for pre-ordering my book! It means the world to me. I hope Boomer brings you and the children in your lives great joy!


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