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Amy Shojai’s New Blog!

Amy & Magic & Seren

THANK YOU for supporting the BLING, BITCHES & BLOOD BLOG — this is the last (I hope…) post going out via the “old” wordpress.com platform. Most of y’all know that I’ve now migrated the blog to a new server, and the URL hasn’t changed but some of the subscribers haven’t transferred over if they subscribed through their WordPress account.

That’s why I’m sending this last note–in case you’ve not yet re-upped over at the new location.  I don’t want you to miss out on all the fun writer-icity and pet-centric schtuff! Here’s what you can do.

Head over to the NEW BLOG SITE and check out the “subscribe by email” box on the top right-hand side.

Or you can manage your subscription options from your profile.

See y’all over at the new blog!

Woofs & Purrs,

amy

Hot, Blocked & Hacked! Oh rats…

5 week old rat

Nothing cute like this little guy. Nope, my virus protection software EXPIRED late last night apparently, with no warning. They’re supposed to send email reminders and that didn’t happen. So this morning I awoke to over 100 blocked message notices and nearly an equal number from concerned folks who received emails from my verizon.net account with mysterious URLs. Even a couple of phone calls.

THANK YOU for letting me know (and yes, I do know about it so no need to send further messages).

If you got one DON’T OPEN IT! I haven’t a clue what they were but suspect if you click on ’em you’ll also get infected.

Luckily my laptop virus protection remained in effect and I quick-like-a-bunny renewed subscription on all my computers, with upgrade. And the software did find and remove malware crud so I should be find. However, I think the virus software (webroot) also did something that’s now blocking my wireless Internet on the PC. Dang, it’s always something!

Meanwhile, this last burst of summer heat has my roses blooming again, and me wilting–because the AC just went out. They say that crappiocca happens in threes. Hacked, hot and blocked–I got my quota!

Have you ever been hacked? What about virus attacks? I’ve lost important info before and have (I think!) done a good job at backing up material. Oh, and for any computer geniuses out there, can you tell me how to get rid of the “broadband connection dial-up” popup on my desktop computer–I have wireless, so what’s the deal???

If I can get my virtual ducks in a row–and rats evicted–I’ll post a Woof Wednesday blog later today. That sound you here is my teeth gnashing . . .

I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? Do you have a new kitten and need answers? Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, listen to the weekly radio show, check out weekly FREE PUPPY CARE newsletter, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter. Stay up to date with the latest book give aways and appearances related to my  THRILLERS WITH BITE!

Monday Mentions: Pet Resolutions & Lotsa Links

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Seren & Magic

Happy New Year--Hissssssssss, waggggggity-wag!

Monday Mentions is the mash-up-day of all the neato-torpedo links and videos and writer-icity crappiocca collected over the past week. But since I took last week off (BAD Amy!), today’s offers a bumper crop of linky-luv. Scroll down toward the bottom of the blog for some of what y’all missed while indulging in holiday-blog-truant-behavior.

It wasn’t all beverages & bons-bons, either because one Christmas present was a winter cold. Ewww. But the past several day I managed to get through another pass on my thriller-icity WIP, yay!

Tuesday Tips continues the how-to nonfiction book proposal series. And the Ask Amy videos gear up in the next weeks (Yes, I’ve got some kewl sparkles to share!). Send your Ask Amy suggestions  or I’ll just come up with my own ideas, and you know how dangerous THAT could be.

New children's book from Franny Syufy!

Have you “resolved” to finally publish that book? My friend Franny has a new kids book out. Franny Syufy is the Cats Guide over at cats.About.com and a terrific writer. I don’t have kids that can read but if you do, check it out. Lucy, the Loch Ness Llama looks delightful.

It’s 2012, wow. A new year is a time for reflection on the past, and resolutions for the future. My furry crew tells me it’s a good time to take stock of the past year from a pets’-eye-view, and the year to come.

The Magical-dawg romped through the year and had no missteps for once. Could it be he’s mellowing? He’s only five—and still keeps me on my toes. Seren-kitty has reached the grand age of 14 and noticeably slowed down. She sleeps more, I see sprinkles of white in her black mask, her claws click when she walks (arthritis makes it hard to keep them hidden) but pestering the dog keeps her engaged in life. I pray that the years will touch me as lightly as they have my little Siamese wannabe.

So here are New Year’s Resolutions from Magic and Seren, with commentary by Amy. (Scroll down to the bottom for lots of

Magic:  “I will train my humans to toss balls with better aim.”

Amy: He insists on fetch both inside the house and out. So I resolve to keep breakables out of tossed-ball-range.

Seren:  “I will train my humans to offer more treats, more often—away from the (spit) dawg.”

Amy: She insists on “guarding” me during meals, and will even chase Magic away. So I resolve to keep the furry wonders away with the pet-gate closed during meals and only “treat” in the appropriate pet bowl. (Same one as last year—didn’t last long then either!)

Magic: “I will kill all squeakers and chew sticky-out wrong parts on toys.”

Amy: He amputates teddy-bear ears, steals cat toys, and ends up with sparkly poop. I resolve to find a Magic-proof squeaky stuffed toy—been looking for years now—and retire Seren’s catnip mice and sparkle balls since she no longer plays with them anyway.

Seren: “I will run midnight races up and down the stairs to get the (spit) dawg in trouble.”

Amy: She particularly enjoys late night gallops from my office down the stairs and back again. Amazing how quickly an old-lady cat can move. I resolve to keep Magic corralled so that Seren can enjoy her rock-around-the-clock antics for as long as she continues to want to race.

Magic: “I will grab all the water from the hose, and dig out water from the pool every day.”

Amy: To keep Magic from drinking tainted tank water we introduced hose tag to keep him cool, and found a wading pool for the hottest days. I resolve to find a bigger wading pool that holds more water to cool off my hot dog.

Seren: “I will drink my fountain dry.”

Amy: Seren loves sipping from running water, and she got a new “cat fountain” this year. She loves it so much I’ve had trouble keeping it full—or perhaps her kidneys are showing wear and tear. I resolve to keep the cat fountain full and get her kidneys checked—whether she likes it or not.

Magic: “I will train Amy to play with the Frisbees—all 12 of them—ALL THE TIME!”

Amy: Magic obsessed over the Frisbees. He’s learned to catch and retrieve them, if Amy can throw them correctly. And yes, he’ll stack and carry as many as I throw. I resolve to keep a supply of fresh Frisbees handy for the times Magic loses them (or they’re stolen by coyotes).

Seren: “I will train Amy the right way to play with the fishing-pole ALL THE TIME!”

Amy: Seren enjoys fishing pole lures and other toys. But Magic gets frustrated he can’t play, too, and barks—which takes the joy out of her game. I resolve to keep the bedroom door closed during chase-the-bug tag games with Seren.

Magic: “I will steal Frisbees back from thieving coyotes.”

Amy: Magic lost half a dozen somewhere on the 13-acre property. Several we’ve found far from where they fell, carried away by varmints—and often peed on. I resolve to improve my Frisbee aim.

Seren: “I will sleep more, hiss less. Except around the dog.”

Amy: Seren’s blue bed rests on the dining room table under a stained glass lamp shade.  It’s out of reach of her nemesis, and a favorite spot especially on chilly winter days. I resolve to invest in light bulbs to keep the kitty “heat lamp” on at all times.

Magic: “I will go for a ride forever!”

Amy: Magic continues his love affair with the Magic-Mobile. Last year we invested in a safety barrier to keep him in the back seat since he wants to drive. I resolve to give Magic a car ride at least every other day, pending good weather.

Seren: “I will torment the dawg (hiss) at every opportunity! And pretend I don’t like him.”

Amy: Seren’s favorite game is to get Magic in trouble. But lately I’ve noticed when she “calls” him and he arrives, she allows a few mutual sniffs with cordial mews before her head spins around and she morphs into evil-kitty. I resolve to “pretend” that I don’t notice Seren actually sorta-kinda-in-a-way likes the (hiss) dog.

Seren: “I will train Amy there’s more to nine lives than paw-tapping and staring at a boxy computer-thing. Like catnip. And whisker-kisses.”

Magic: “I will train Amy that naps together are a good thing. So are tummy rubs.”

Amy: I resolve to listen to my furry wonders. What about you?

WRITING SCHTUFF

Write-It-Forward workshop schedule, includes classes with the awesome Bob Mayer, Kristen Lamb and Natalie C. Markey

Super E-Reads for all your E-book needs! Awesome site–yes, I got my books listed, and it includes my Ask Amy videos, very kewl!

Will You Finish STRONG? awesome blog and video from Colin Falconer–just what we need to start the New Year.

Reasons NOT to Self-Publish a guest post from Gary Gauthier on the awesome Jenny Hansen’s blog. Jenny the techno-genius also offers these awesome tips for how-to format your fiction.

Fiction Editing Tips from Alexandra Sokoloff’s blog

5 Common Writing Hazards from Kristen Lamb

Writing A Killer Thriller Part 3 from Jodie Renner’s guest blog over at Doug Lyle’s

KDP Select introduced, a way of “loaning” your Kindle books for a share of the pot. Hmnnnn. Oh, and the Amazon Kindle books are now also sold in Spain and Italy.

ANIMAL SCHTUFF

National Train Your Dog Month from Association of Pet Dog Trainers (you can find terrific help at this site). For new puppies, of course I recommend my own puppy-licious site. *s*

Top 5 Heart-Warming Humans from JaneA Kelly’s Catster Blog

Dogs In Canada, an awesome magazine, has stopped publication.

PetHub with scan-able pet tags partners with American Humane to keep pets safe and reunite lost pets with owners. Awesome technology, check it out.

How Cats Communicate with Owners and in this video, how a cat soothes a crying baby SWEET!

UC-Davis Center for Companion Animal Health publishes an awesome newsletter and covers studies addressing diseases of cats, dogs and other small pets. Check out this article about a 13-year-old pet Nigerian Dwarf, named Gabby with pneumonia saved by a ventilator.

#AskAmy Sweet Tweets

Folks who “follow” me on Twitter @amyshojai and @About_Puppies are the most awesome Sweet Tweets around–they love #cats and #dogs and #pets, many #amwriting.  Just follow and include the #AskAmy in your tweets if’n you’re interested in pithy links to articles, books, blogs, experts, fictioning and sparkle-icity!

I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, listen to the weekly radio show, check out weekly FREE PUPPY CARE newsletter, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter with pet book give-aways!

Monday Mentions: Fractal Felines, Cats with Thumbs, Extreme Dawgs & HALLELUJIA!

Monday Mentions is the mash-up-day of all the neato-torpedo links and blogs and writer-icity crappiocca collected over the past week. When this posts, I’ll still be on the road (maybe away from the computer GASP!) so I put this list together late last week. To fill in the empty spaces, I left it up to Magical-Dawg and Seren-Kitty to pick out a couple of favorite videos.

WEIRD & FUNNY SCHTUFF

Excuses–You Want Excuses? a whole slew of laugh-out-loud insurance excuses from Colin Falconer (hey, you need to check out his BOOK too!)

Stacy Green’s Glover for Lovers If you’ve got cold appendages, this blog has the answer for you. Stacy also writes a Thriller Thursday blog that’s a must-read.

KEWL WRITER SCHTUFF

Guest Blogger Jodi Renner on Killer Thriller Tips from the awesome Doug Lyle’s blog.

Pearson Wants MORE Rights, read about it in this Writer Beware post.

Jenny Hansen’s Awesome Formatting Tips for Writers

Lessons From Attila/Designing From Bones Blog from the awesome Gene Lempp–writers can learn a lot from these strong characters

Pets for Kids Poetry Contest, great pastime for creative kids over the holiday vacation

On Being Vulnerable–great post by blogger Nissi

FURRY-TASTIC PET SCHTUFF

Baggage Handler Fired for Helping Dog She did the right thing. What would YOU do?

Ease Travel Angst with Travel Calm from Earth Heart Inc.

EXTREME DOG WALKING This man takes his 16 dogs out for a bike ride and swim in a river every day. Look how well trained they are and how much they love him. By the time they return home, they are exhausted and ready for a good rest.

Stray Cat Poisoner Sentenced

Cat Inherits $13 Million, now that’s the cat’s meow!

PETSIDE.COM Holiday Sweeps, take a survey and get in line for $500

ProCATinator from the uber-evil Karyl Cunningham! cats doing CAT things to music–weirdly addictive.

Vir-Chew-Al Pet Gifts quite a variety and a really nice (truly!) gang of pet lovers run this show.

FRACTAL FELINES: This video is awesome–and IMO rates pretty high on the OOOK factor. What do you think? These Fractal Felines are enough to give Magical-Dawg nightmares but I think Seren sort of likes it.

CATS WITH THUMBS commercial just won an award! Awesome. Wonder if there’s a movie in the making?

HOMECOMING FOR THE HOWL-IDAYS: Here’s another video and the Magical-Dawg chose this one. It’s one of my favs, too. What about you?

MR. BEAN’S NATIVITY GAMES Admit it, you’ve wanted to do this!

HALLELUJIA CHORUS: Right in time for the holidays, this came across my virtual desk and I just had to share. Feel free to sing along.

#AskAmy Sweet Tweets

Folks who “follow” me on Twitter @amyshojai and @About_Puppies are the most awesome Sweet Tweets around–they love #cats and #dogs and #pets, many #amwriting.  Just follow and include the #AskAmy in your tweets if’n you’re interested in pithy links to articles, books, blogs, experts, fictioning and sparkle-icity!

I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, listen to the weekly radio show, check out weekly FREE PUPPY CARE newsletter, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter with pet book give-aways!

Feline Friday: Christmas Sparkles

Naked tummy--Seren(dipity) after her spay.

Crash-galumph-galumph-skiiiiiiid-thump!

“Amy! Will you please get your cat before she tears up the house?”

I sighed, and pushed away from the computer. My husband grew up cat-less. Mahmoud neither understood nor appreciated kitten antics, especially while he watched television sports.

Crash-galumph-galumph-skiiiiiiid-thump!

Ameeeeeeee!”

By the sound of it, the eight-month-old delinquent had donned virtual racing stripes. She ran laps that traversed the carpeted living room and family room, slid across the oak floor entry, bumped down steps to the dining room, then finished with a claw-scrabbling turn around the slate-tiled kitchen.

Thumpa-thumpata-thumpa-THUMP!

Aha, a new path discovered . . . The sound grew louder as she raced toward me up the stairs and flew down the hallway to land tippy-toed on the guest bed across the hall from my office. I peeked inside.

Seren(dipity) stared back with blue-jean-colored eyes. Then she self-inflated in mock terror and began trampoline calisthenics (boing-boing-boing) on the mattress.

I quickly shut the door, confining the demon seed–my husband’s name for her–to my upstairs domain.

Back in June, a friend discovered the dumped kitten napping in an empty flowerpot on the back porch and called me, her pet-writer buddy, for help. I had been pet-less for longer than I cared to admit. E-mail, phone and fax lines kept me connected to my clients and colleagues, but I figured the kitten would brighten the long, sometimes lonely workdays. Besides, as a pet writer I needed a pet. So it was Amy-to-the-rescue, and love at first sight.

My husband wasn’t so easily smitten. He still missed our elderly and sedate German shepherd but cherished the freedom of being pet-less. I convinced him a lap-snuggling kitten would be no trouble. Besides, the cream-color carpet he’d chosen matched the color of Seren’s fur. It had to be an omen.

The cat gods have a wicked sense of humor. They made me pay for that fib.

The Siamese wannabe had no off-switch. She talked nonstop and demanded the last word. She opened drawers and explored kitchen cabinets. She answered my office phone but never took messages. And she left legions of sparkle ball toys everywhere.

The colorful toys polka-dotted the stairs. You’d think a peacock exploded. The toys floated in the kitten’s water bowl, swirled in the toilet, and bobbed in my coffee cup. And Seren hid sparkle balls everywhere to later stalk and paw-capture them from beneath household appliances.

Mahmoud quickly learned to check his shoes each morning before putting them on. He was not amused. I knew better than to suggest he should be grateful Seren only stuffed his shoes with sparkle balls and not–ahem–other items.

I’d managed to buffer the cat-shock-effect over the past months by keeping her in my office during the day and wearing Seren out with lots of games before Mahmoud came home from work. Weekends proved a challenge. By Monday morning, my husband reached his kitty threshold and welcomed a return to the cat-free-zone at work.

But now the holidays loomed. Mahmoud looked forward to two weeks at home, two weeks of relaxation, two weeks of napping on the couch in front of the TV.

Two weeks sharing the house with “the devil.”

It would indeed be a Christmas miracle if we survived with sense of humor intact.

In the past we’d often visited my folks over the holidays where we enjoyed a traditional snowy Indiana Christmas morning, stocking stuffers, decorated tree, lots of relatives, and a sumptuous turkey dinner. This year we planned a quiet celebration at home in Texas, so snow wasn’t an option. But I wanted to decorate with lots of holiday sparkles to make the season as festive as possible.

“A Christmas tree? Don’t cats climb trees?” Mahmoud’s you-must-be-insane expression spoke volumes. He’d already blamed Seren for dumping his coffee on the cream-colored carpet. Maybe matching fur color wasn’t such a great omen after all.

But ‘tis the season of peace on earth, and I wanted to keep the peace–and the cat. So I agreed. No tree.

Mahmoud didn’t particularly care if we decorated at all since Christmas isn’t a part of his cultural or religious tradition. But he knew I treasured everything about the holidays. So we compromised.

Gold garland with red velvet poinsettias festooned the curving staircase, wrapping around and around the banisters and handrail. Gold beads draped the fireplace mantel, with greeting cards propped above. A red cloth adorned the dining room table, while in the living room, the candelabra with twelve scented candles flickered brightly from inside the fireplace. Other candles in festive holders decorated the several end tables, countertops and the piano.

The centerpiece of Christmas décor was the large glass-top coffee table placed midway between the fireplace, TV and the leather sofa. The wooden table base carried puppy teeth marks, silent reminders of the dog Mahmoud and I still mourned. Since we had no tree, the table served to display brightly wrapped packages that fit underneath out of the way. And on top of the table I placed Grandma’s lovely three-piece china nativity of Mary, Joseph and the Baby in the manger.

Grandma died several years before, right after the holidays. Each family member was encouraged to request something of hers to keep as a special remembrance, and I treasured Grandma’s nativity. The simple figurines represented not only the Holy Family but evoked the very essence of Grandma and every happy family holiday memory.

Of course, Seren created her own memories and put her paw into everything. It became her purpose in life to un-festoon the house. She “disappeared” three of the faux poinsettias, risked singed whiskers by sniffing candles, and stole bows off packages.

She decided the red tablecloth set off her feline beauty. She lounged in the middle of the table beneath the Tiffany-style shade that doubled as a heat lamp, shedding tiny hairs onto the fabric. As every cat lover eventually learns, fur is a condiment. But Mahmoud had not yet joined the cat-lover ranks and was not amused.

“Off! Get off the table. Amy, she’ll break your glass lampshade.”

Crash-galumph-galumph-skiiiiiiid-thump!

Mahmoud had no sooner resettled onto the sofa to watch the TV when the whirling dervish hit again. The twinkling gold beads dangling from the mantel caught her predatory attention. Seren stalked them from below, quickly realized she couldn’t leap that high, and settled for pouncing onto the top of the TV. From there, only a short hop separated her from the ferocious mantel quarry she’d targetted.

“Off! Get off the TV. Amy, will you come get your cat?”

Crash-galumph-galumph-skiiiiiiid-thump!

I arrived in time to see her complete a second Mario Andretti lap. I swear she grinned at us as she skidded past. With the next drive-by Seren stopped long enough to grab my ankle, execute a ten-second feline headstand while bunny-kicking my calves, then resumed her mad dash around the house.

Mahmoud glared. “I thought you said cats sleep sixteen hours a day.”

I shrugged and hid a smile. Seren had already learned what buttons to push. Rattling the wooden window blinds worked extremely well, but now she need only eye the decorations to garner all the attention she craved.

Cute kitty. Smart kitty. Mahmoud wasn’t amused, but I was.

She raced into the living room, leaped onto the glass top table, and belly-flopped alongside my treasured Holy Family . . .

“Off! Get off.” Mahmoud shooed the kitten out of the danger zone before I could react in shock. This time, I was not amused.

Mahmoud knew what Grandma’s nativity meant to me. “Decorating was your idea. Don’t blame me if the devil breaks something,” he warned.

Before he could suggest it, I caught the miscreant and gave her a time out in the laundry room to cool her jets. We’d relegated Seren’s potty, food bowls and bed to this room and routinely confined her at night or when away. Otherwise, she set off motion detectors and the house alarm–or dismantled the house while we slept. Besides, Mahmoud complained Seren’s purring kept him awake at night.

I used a wooden yardstick to fish toys from beneath the washer/dryer to provide necessary feline entertainment during the incarceration. Several dozen sparkle balls–red, orange, yellow, green, blue, pink, purple–and the three missing faux poinsettias emerged, along with an assortment of dust bunnies and dryer lint.

I sighed. The kitten’s age meant several more months of madcap activity and I wasn’t sure how much more Mahmoud could take. He only saw Seren at full throttle. He also suffered from “Saint Spot Syndrome” which meant he recalled only the happy memories of our beloved dog, and overlooked potty accidents, chewed shoes and other normal canine misbehavior of the past.

Seren suffered mightily in the comparison.

I felt exhausted after the first week of running vacation interference between my husband and the kitten. Whenever possible I kept Seren confined with me in my upstairs office but that backfired. She slept in my office, but once downstairs she turned into a dynamo intent on pick-pick-picking at Mahmoud especially when he ignored her.

The second week began, and as Christmas drew near I found more and more errands that required my attention outside of the house. Mahmoud came with me for some, but other times he preferred TV.

“Just lock up the devil before you leave so she doesn’t bother me,” he said. “I don’t want to watch her.”

It made me nervous to leave them alone together in the house. I worried that Seren might commit some last straw infraction and I’d be unable to salvage any potential relationship. I loved her, heaven help me; she’d hooked her claws deep into my heart. And I loved Mahmoud. I wanted my two loves to at least put up with each other.

But as I prepared to leave I couldn’t find her. At less than five pounds, Seren could hide in the tiniest spaces. One time I found her inside the box springs of the guest bed, but that day–December 23rd–she disappeared and refused to come out of hiding.

I think she planned it. Maybe the spirit of the holidays inspired her. Or perhaps some other loving canine (or grandmotherly) influence worked its Christmas magic. Whatever the motivation, when I returned home that rainy December evening, my unspoken holiday wish had been granted.

I found my husband napping on the sofa. On the glass top table beside him the Holy Family nested in a radiance of sparkle balls–an inspired feline gift of toys for a very special Child.

And atop Mahmoud’s chest, quiet at last, rested a very happy kitten.

Mahmoud roused enough to open one eye. “Fafnir–I mean Seren still purrs too loud,” he grumbled.

Fafnir had been the name of our dog.

With a nod toward the overcast day Mahmoud added, “At least our cat won’t need to be walked in the rain.”

Seren blinked blue-jean-colored eyes and purred louder.

Note: HOLIDAY SPARKLES first appeared in a short story collection titled Christmas Cats: A Literary Companion (Chamberlain Bros. Publishing). May your Christmas be joyous, bright, and filled with loving woofs and purrs. ads

AskAmy Sweet Tweets

Folks who “follow” me on Twitter @amyshojai and @About_Puppies are the most awesome Sweet Tweets around–they love #cats and #dogs and #pets, many #amwriting.  Just follow and include the #AskAmy in your tweets if’n you’re interested in pithy links to articles, books, blogs, experts, fictioning and sparkle-icity!

I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, listen to the weekly radio show, check out weekly FREE PUPPY CARE newsletter, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter with pet book give-aways!

Monday Mentions: Severed Heads, Writing Fines & Star Trek Cats

What every kitty wants in her Catmas stocking...

Monday Mentions is the mash-up-day of all the neato-torpedo links and blogs and writer-icity crappiocca collected over the past week. My little cat Seren(dipity) slipped this picture under my pillow as a heavy handed…I mean, pawed, hint. I’m sure all the fur-kids have their own personal wish list. I think the Magical-Dawg has something stinky in mind.

As for me, I’m climbing aboard a plane and traveling to visit my parents and siblings in Northern Indiana, yay! It’s been way too long since I’ve seen everyone. That means, though, that I must meet my deadlines earlier rather than later. The blogs–well, I have plans to get them done in advance but who knows if that’ll happen? Santa’s Elves may have their own plans.

PET SCHTUFF

Help With Vet Bills Yes, there are organizations that help fund pet care. They rely on donations–wouldn’t it be a great holiday gift to be a Good Samaritan and fund helping someone’s needy pet? *s*

Dog People vs Cat People some interesting differences revealed in this survey.

Vegan Cat Food? Oh no! Check out this post from my colleague JaneA Kelley.

Demon Dawg–I wouldn’t want to be a vet on THIS critter! Gene Lempp once more offers great plot idea starters in his Designing From the Bones blog post.

3-D Doggy Anatomy, this is wild and awesome technology! For those writing about canine issues, not to be missed. And fun for anyone.

WRITING SCHTUFF

Conflict In Novels an awesome post from Bob Mayer

Using Track Changes from Jenny Hansen, priceless tips for editing

Jan Morrill’s Blog with some great writerly links in her mashup

Do’s & Don’ts About Email Marketing from the always awesome Lorie Huston

SEO Mistakes are you committing any of these?

Bloggers Get No Respect–or Protection! This blogger was fined $2.5 MILLION, don’t let it happen to you.

10 Rules of Writing–Best Checklist EVER for novelists posted by Heather Webb with kind permission from Janis Hubschman

KDP Select Program–read the fine print, from Writer Beware, and more about it from Kait Nolan and yet another from David Gaughran.

Left Coast Crime Convention  Left Coast Crime mystery convention will be in Sacramento, CA March 2013. Prices go up at the end of this year, so register before the deadline for the best deal. Author John Lescroart is our Guest of Honor, and James Rollins will also be in attendance, along
with some other great authors.

WEIRD-ASS-TERICK SCHTUFF

Myths About Introverts Are you an extrovert, an introvert or–well, how is YOUR brain wired?

Olympic Pole Dancing ain’t for sissies or introverts…wait, maybe it is! Hilarious post and videos from Piper Bayard

#AskAmy Sweet Tweets

Folks who “follow” me on Twitter @amyshojai and @About_Puppies are the most awesome Sweet Tweets around–they love #cats and #dogs and #pets, many #amwriting.  Just follow and include the #AskAmy in your tweets if’n you’re interested in pithy links to articles, books, blogs, experts, fictioning and sparkle-icity!

I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, listen to the weekly radio show, check out weekly FREE PUPPY CARE newsletter, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter with pet book give-aways!

KURVES, the MUSICAL CAST

KURVES LOGO, hi rez

Local playwrights, co-authors Amy Shojai and Frank Steele, have cast KURVES, THE MUSICAL with eight popular local performers. The original show features twelve catchy original songs with full orchestration, an ensemble cast, and laugh out loud dialogue. KURVES, THE MUSICAL will be performed for three nights only, March 1, 2, 3,  2012 at newly renovated Rialto Theater in Denison, Texas.

Frank Steele directs the show. He has appeared in many TV and radio commercials, movies and TV shows including DALLAS. He taught drama for twenty-seven years and has appeared in over fifty plays as an actor or professional musician. “I’ve co-written several benefit shows,” says Steele, “including the sold-out Star-Struck Night musical benefit with Amy Shojai, produced for Theatricks some years ago.”

Shojai directs the music. She is best known as a local author with 23 published pet books. “But I have a degree in music and love composing and performing,” she says. “Frank Steele and I have acted and written together, so we decided to combine forces to write fun and poignant characters that we’d like to perform.” She has acted in several dozen plays in six states, and made countless TV and radio appearances both locally and nationally, including Animal Planet appearances as an expert. KURVES is her third co-written show.

Eight quirky characters, misfits all, become trapped inside MAXINE’S, a run-down woman’s gym located in Kurves, Texas. The cast remains onstage the entire show. Despite failed attempts to find happiness and true love, they finally succeed—but in unexpected ways.

KURVES cast

L to R, back row: Joe Maglio, Cheri Anderson, Craig Sturm, Johnny Flowers, Frank Steele. Middle L-R: Amy Shojai, Theresa Littlefield. Front: Leah Martin

THE CAST

Steele plays the cross-dressing Maxine/Max who owns the women’s gym and sings the title song “Curves.”

Shojai plays Celia, the sequin-wearing visitor to Maxine’s who sings “Dreams For Sale.”

Cheri Anderson is cast as the many-times-married Mabel, director of a soup kitchen, and sings the rousing gospel number “Suck It Up, Sweetheart.” She has performed in many local theater productions, including all three Smoke On The Mountain shows and the recent Ring Of Fire music review. She has performed gospel, bluegrass, country and classic rock-n-roll and performs with a number of country musicians in the area. She works as a Paralegal at Abernathy, Roeder, Boyd & Joplin P.C. in McKinney.

Theresa Littlefield is cast as mousy poetry teacher Jane who transforms from plain-to-sparkling in the duet “Poetry & Jazz.” Theresa has been in numerous college, church, and community productions.  She is an active member of the First United Methodist Church choir and handbell choir. She often plays saxophone for high school plays and church programs. She is a counselor at Fairview Elementary in Sherman.

Leah Martin is cast as newlywed Ronnie, and sings about her insecurities in the plaintive song, “The Picture.” Leah has logged countless hours working backstage with Sherman Community Players and has performed leading roles in The Mousetrap and The Miracle Worker. She most recently appeared in The Big Friendly Giant, and has appeared in the City of Sherman “Can the Trash” commercial. She works as a Nanny for Dr. Clint Hayes and his wife Sunni’s children.

Johnny Flowers is the inept but lovable movie-quoting robber Fingers who laments his lack of finesse in the song, “Silver Screen Blues.” Johnny has been active in community theater for the past 30 years. Most recently he delighted audiences in productions of The Odd Couple, Arsenic & Old Lace, and Smoke On the Mountain III. Johnny is also involved in the Music Ministry at Parkside Baptist Church in Denison. He is a graduate of Grayson County College and works in the produce department for the Sherman Kroger’s Store.

Joe Maglio plays ladies’ man Boots and sings, “You’re The Chick For Me.” He was one of the original dancers on American Bandstand and will show off smooth moves in KURVES. He attended Lon Morris School of Drama and worked for eleven years as technical director at Finley Playhouse. He graduated from Southeastern School of Theatre in 1988, moved to Hollywood and was active with Group Repertory Theatre in North Hollywood. Joe is a member of the Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences, and this year serves on the nominating committee for the SAG awards. KURVES marks his return to performance after a 19-year retirement.

Craig Sturm plays Ronnie’s husband, Troy Chadwick Noonan IV, who literally holds the key to Maxine’s and ties up all loose ends in the song, “Life Happens.” Craig has seen over 80 Broadway musicals, and has performed in many musicals both in the orchestra pit as a percussionist, and on stage.  Craig brought the butler character to life in the Finley’s production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat in 2003. He is a gifted arranger and composer, often sharing original compositions at Trinity Lutheran Church where he serves as pastor.

Special thanks to Trinity Lutheran Church for rehearsal space. Mickie Martin serves as stage manager, and Garrett and Greg Guymon and The Rialto provides lights, sound and the performance venue. Show time is 8 pm and tickets are $10 adult and $5 (general seating) and can be purchased for the March 1, 2, 3, 2012 performances by calling the Rialto Box Office at 903-465-SHOW. Learn more about KURVES, THE MUSICAL here.