Courtney Sheinmel


NOVEMBER 2018The Kindness Club Designed by Lucy by Courtney Sheinmel

It's November! That means The Kindness Club #2: Designed By Lucy is out in paperback!

It's a story about trying to do the right thing, missing people you love, finding good friends, and bowling! I hope you enjoy it.

The best part about writing a series about kindness is people tend to tell me their kindness stories. Here's one I heard the other day: my friend Deb was walking out of her apartment building when a new neighbor walked in. Deb knew he'd moved in, but they hadn't met yet, so they introduced themselves. It happened to be raining pretty hard, and the neighbor told Deb that she should grab an umbrella. Deb said she didn't have one, but she was going to run to the store to get one. It was just down the block.

"Here, take mine," the neighbor said.

"Are you sure?" Deb asked.

"Yep. I have an extra one at home, and I don’t need two."

Deb thanked him and took the umbrella. On her way home, she picked up some chocolate from her favorite store and left the box and the umbrella on her neighbor's doorstep.

When Deb told me about the interaction, she said it really made her day. I told her what I'd learned about kindness when I was doing research to write The Kindness Club: when someone is kind to you, or when you are kind to someone else, you get a boost of serotonin.

Serotonin is a chemical in our brain known as the "happy hormone." It helps regulate our sleep, our appetite, and our body temperature, and makes us feel satisfied and more sociable.

And we don't even need to be the giver or receiver of kindness to get a boost of serotonin (though those things are always good to do). Just witnessing kindness in someone else's life can increase serotonin and make us happier. That's why it's so much fun to watch other people win things on TV. Even if we aren't the ones getting a new car or a check for a million dollars, it still makes us feel good. I'm a big fan of the kindness videos that Ellen Degeneres posts online, for just that reason.

Another thing - when we get a boost of serotonin, we're more likely to do kind things for other people, too. Like how my friend Deb bought a box of chocolate for her neighbor. And maybe her neighbor will now be inspired to do another kind thing... the ripples of kindness can go on and on and on.

You can read more about it here.

As the article says, kindness is a win-win-win situation.

So be kind, receive kindness, and celebrate other people’s kindness. (And if you get a chance, pick up a copy of the latest book in The Kindness Club... I'm pretty proud of it.)

I wish you all a very happy holiday season.


MAY 2018
Edgewater by Courtney Sheinmel

Hello, friends -

Happy May Day!

If you've read Agnes & Clarabelle Celebrate, then you know that May Day is one of the holidays that those adorable porcine and poultry besties celebrate.

As for me, I'm feeling especially celebratory on this particular May Day, because today is the day that the paperback edition of my young adult novel Edgewater is finally officially out in the world!

I looooooove the cover of the Edgewater paperback. I can't take any credit for it; it was the genius of the art department at my publisher, Abrams Books, and I'm so grateful for their vision and keen eye for detail.

As for the words inside the book, I did have something to do with them: I wrote them. Some days, writing those words felt fairly easy. I knew exactly what I wanted to say, and I was able to translate the ideas in my head to words on the page rather quickly. And some days, trying to meet my daily word count goal felt like I was wading through quicksand - while wearing leaden boots, with someone back on the shore throwing rocks at me.

There were times I thought I'd never, ever get to the last page, and I had to remind myself that I'd finished books before, and eventually I'd finish this one, too. (Sometimes I had a hard time believing myself about that.)

But now the book is done, and I'm really proud of it.

It feels funny to admit that you're proud of something you made. (At least, it feels funny to me.) But it's also the truth. In the beginning, a book is just a spark of an idea. That's it. We all have so many ideas all day long, and most of them don't become anything. They just disappear - poof! - like dreams do in the minutes after you wake up.

But sometimes you have an idea and you stick with it. You ask yourself, What happens next? What happens next? And after weeks, months (okay, sometimes years), in the end it becomes something tangible that you can hold in your hands, and other people can hold in their hands.

It fills me with happiness every single time I see someone holding a book I've written in their hands. I can't even explain how happy it makes me - and I'm supposed to be someone who is at least pretty good with words. But there are moments that are so delightful that they defy description.

So that's what I'm celebrating on this May Day. I hope you're having a good first day of May, too. And I hope you pick up a copy of Edgewater and enjoy it!

With love,

P.S. There's some extra content in the back of the Edgewater paperback edition - thanks to my sister, Alyssa Sheinmel.

P.P.S. Speaking of Agnes & Clarabelle and paperback editions, look out for the paperbacks of BOTH Agnes & Clarabelle books coming to bookstores near you (and online retailers) on July 3rd, 2018.

The Kindness Club by Courtney Sheinmel

Hello, friends!

I am writing this on February 17th, 2018, which happens to be my niece Tesa's 12th birthday, my stepbrother Ian's 23rd birthday, and it's also National Random Acts of Kindness Day!

I recently remembered a random act of kindness that someone did for me, many years ago. I was in first grade. My teacher was Mrs. Brenneke, and Mrs. Brenneke's rule was that we had to hang our jackets on one of the hooks in the back before going to our desks. There were two rows of hooks: the top row and the bottom row. I was the shortest kid in class, but I could reach the bottom row if I stood on my tiptoes, so I always used the bottom row.

One day I was late and all the bottom row hooks were taken. I tried to reach the top row on tiptoes, but of course I couldn't. I jumped up and tried to reach a hook that way, but that didn't work either.

I didn't know what to do. I thought I might even start crying. And then, a girl named Xandra came to my rescue. She was taller than I was. She was also a lot more popular. I can't remember her ever talking to me any other time. But that day, she got up from her desk and asked, “Do you need help?” When I said yes, she took my jacket and hung it up for me.

Maybe this doesn't feel like a big deal story to you, but I can assure you it felt like a big deal at the time. And since I can still remember it now, more than thirty years later, I guess it still feels like a big deal. Sometimes I think that the biggest moments of our lives are actually the small ones. Put them together, and they make up who we are.

Xandra may not remember that moment; she may not even remember me.  But I remember her.  What she did that day - it was the time I can point to when I really understood the importance of noticing people, and choosing to be kind.

So thank you for that life lesson, Xandra. I promise to put some random kindness in the world today, in your honor, wherever you are...