Mascot Blog

Celebrating Denise L. Kaminsky’s 10 Years of Being an Author

In 2011, Mascot Author Denise L. Kaminsky published her first book without any expectations. Now, we’re celebrating Denise’s ten-year milestone as the author of seven books in the highly successful Nittany Lion series!

Read all about her writing stages, publishing process, and long journey of authorship in her guest post below.

Ten years! Ten years! It has been ten years since I published my first children’s book with Mascot Books, Nittany Lion Has the Hiccups, starring the ever-popular Penn State University mascot. It’s even harder to believe that it has been followed by six additional books with the eighth book well on its way! 

After retiring from many years as a Reading Specialist and third-grade teacher, I was very in tune with the academic skills of my students. Some children had a great deal of success progressing, while others needed a slower pace and more opportunities to grasp the sounds, words and concepts presented in print. I got to know my students’ interests and really enjoyed creating themed variations for them to practice. 

No longer in a formal teaching position, I wanted to continue to connect to children and help them learn. As a Penn State alum, I decided to write a story with the Nittany Lion as the main character. I wanted to make it relatively easy to read and decided to include repetition in the text for the less confident reader. 

I had prepared the bones of the story, but was aware that it needed polish. I knew there was a “method to the madness” of writing a story, and lucky for me, a new critique group was starting nearby that I could join. Each time we met, I had a story revision that the group patiently listened to and kindly offered feedback on. When I felt it was my best, I started researching a way to self-publish.

After asking around various bookstore managers and even local librarians, I decided to take a chance on Mascot Books. I have been quite pleased with the help and support that I have received from everyone at Mascot including the publisher, editor, bookkeeper, etc. Mascot Books took my manuscript and created a book that was eye-catching to young and old. They have all been very professional. My books have been marketed to small and large outlets. Information regarding sales and royalty checks come quarterly without failure. All in all, it has been a positive experience.

As word of my success in publishing got around, aspiring writers have approached me for help! Being a “teacher for life,” I’ve been happy to share what I’ve learned with anyone who asks. If self-publishing is the author’s choice, I always recommend Mascot Books.

I’m thrilled to say that Nittany Lion Has the Hiccups has been very successful and popular amongst young readers and listeners. Therefore, I decided I would place the Nittany Lion on the Penn State campus for my next book since many children have visited campus and would enjoy seeing pictures of these sites. The children would surely recognize the Creamery, the Bryce Jordan Center, and of course, the Blue Band. The Blue Band couldn’t be forgotten, and became an important and fun part of this story. But most of all, children love surprises. What better surprise is there than a birthday party? Having all Nittany Lion’s friends and fans there with fireworks was the “icing on the cake” in Nittany Lion Gets a Big Surprise

Nittany Lion is a proud supporter of The Pennsylvania State University and a regular storytime reader at the town library. Thus, my next book Nittany Lion Tells the Legend of Princess Nit-A-Nee had to be Nittany reading the story of how they became the Nittany Lions. You may want to read it too so you’ll know for yourself.

In the following book, Nittany Lion decides to take a vacation in the beautiful Pennsylvania outdoors. He loves living in Happy Valley, but is looking forward to enjoying nature. It’s hard for him to decide when and where to go. The choices are endless. Maybe after reading Nittany Lion’s Pennsylvania Vacation, you’ll have some advice to share with him. Hey, you might even plan your own Pennsylvania vacation!

Nittany Lion is a part of so many activities on and off campus. He is devoted to the Penn State students and their causes. One very important cause is THON, the largest student-run philanthropic organization that includes a 46-hour dance marathon in February. All year, the Lion and students raise funds for Hershey Medical Center to entertain children with pediatric cancer. Nittany Lion and THON presents a positive spin on this fundraiser, motivating all of us to help children too. 

Another important cause for the Nittany Lion is to take good care of the Earth. He enjoys walking whenever he can or taking the natural gas powered bus. Oh, and he shops locally too. There are times when he gathers the students to do a litter pick up or trail maintenance. Nittany Lion and Earth Day tells the story of Lion and his good deeds to inspire others to pitch in too.

As you know, superheros are a popular subject these days. Did you know that the Nittany Lion is a superhero? Well, he is indeed. He is a regular substitute reader at the local library. He helps everyone he meets as he makes his way around campus and town, and they’re all tremendously grateful for his help. There is one person in particular who is most grateful: the librarian. She presented him with a cape saying, “You are my Hero Nittany Lion. You come whenever I need a reader for storytime. I made this cape for you.” Nittany Lion is so happy that he can help in little and big ways. Nittany Lion Everyday Superhero presents a variety of examples on how the Lion is a SuperHero. 

With the help and clever illustrations from my daughter, and the support of Mascot Books, there will be more stories to come. If these stories help students develop their reading skills and inspire them to read other books, well, there isn’t much more I can ask for.

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