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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 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?


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.


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!

Tuesday Tips: Dragons, Mountains & Publishing

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Cuchara 2011 110

I miss my mountains!

Last week I was in the mountains of Colorado–BLISS!–communed with nature, beverage, bling, friends, and fictioning (not necessarily in that order). The past several week’s Tuesday Tips have been a great help for me sharing insight from best-selling thriller authors. And I harvested a bumper crop of all-things-writerly and meant to include them in yesterday’s Monday Mentions but there were just too dang many. So you’ll find ’em here. But first a little introspection.


Meet Maurice, my dragon muse who keeps my fictioning ass-ets on target.

Like many bookworm rabid readers I thought that I could write a novel. And I tried, oooh how I tried! My first agent told me my work was wonderful, awesome, spectacular and that when the movie-of-the-week came out, I should play the lead. Wow! Of course, that was long ago in a galaxy far away when I’d only just fallen off the writerly turnip truck and PAID said agent for those glowing reviews. (See WRITER BEWARE blog listed below). Four novels later that agent got dumped–hey I was a slow learner!–and I’d begun selling articles while I searched for another agent for the fiction.

Low and behold, the articles garnered my first book contracts when an editor from Nooo Yawk contacted ME to write The Cat Companion followed by several other pet books–all without an agent. The search for an agent continued, and one in particular turned down the fiction but wanted to see nonfiction efforts–together we sold probably 15 pet care titles. I guess you could say the fiction gave me my book career, yet that success shoved novels and article writing aside.

Fast forward to the present–Nooo Yawk no longer calls or even picks up the phone or opens the email for pet books unless the author also has a network TV show or has slept with the wrong famous person. Print magazines that launched my own and others’ careers are gone or fading fast. Online writing for pennies a page or for the “glory” of a byline has begun the new paradigm. Agents can’t sell books because editors are afraid to buy.

Ebooks are the (current) king! Scary crappiocca but exciting, too. Never before have writers and authors had so much control–IF they take that leap. Once I’d finished pounding my head bloody against the wall and gnashing teeth over the changes, my books took that Ebook plunge and Internet articles became my bread and virtual butter. So how are you managing the changes in your writing life? Still angsting over schtuff that you can’t change or taking the bull-hocky by the ballz and making a difference in your career?

Oh, it’s still scary. Y’all know that now I’m the Puppies Guide at, and they’ve just announced ABOUT.COM LAYOFFS, YIKES!  The “contributing writers” program at (a New York Times company) was summarily dumped last week with little more than a week’s notice to the freelancers providing 12 or more pieces of “content” per month to various guide sites. In addition, 15 “channel editors” were laid off as well (see the link). After working for nearly a year as a contributing writer (CW) to the Guidesite before creating the spanking-new Guidesite this comes as a shock to me and others working for the company. CWs are encouraged to apply for open Guide positions or the new “Topic Guide” program.  And any other writer with the credentials may also apply and find it a rewarding venue.

I’ll be releasing new nonfiction pet books in the months ahead but there’s never been a better time to return to fiction. I’m taking a fun Email course from Lawson Writer’s Academy from Tiffany Lawson Inman on the Triple Threat Behind Staging A Scene. I won the course (YAY!) from my blogging buddy Jenny Hansen. See? you can find all kinds of kewl schtuff reading, sharing and commenting on other folks’ blogs! Speaking of blogs and other writer-icity tips, take a look at the following for some great insight, tips and inspiration.

BLOG DESIGN 101, some helpful tips on color, font and more

8 TIPS FOR WRITING THE PERFECT BLOG from Lorie Huston, great writer and animal lover (she’s a vet, too!), all about keywords and tags and more.

PLEASE SIGN MY KINDLE!  here’s how...


AWESOME NOVEL DIAGNOSIS TIPS, a peek inside the head (wowie!) of Kristen Lamb

REVISING & POLISHING YOUR NOVEL, guest blogger Jodie Renner at DP Lyle’s blog.

AMAZON’S KINDLE FIRE (TABLET), blog discussion from David Gaughran, and another great post on the topic from Jason Pinter

WRITER BEWARE! Aspen Mountain Press and also a great post on BAD CONTRACT CLAUSES

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: THRILLERFEST!

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Finally back from a whirlwind conference–Thrillerfest was wonderful as always. I’ll have some short videos later, too, but wanted to post the pictures (they’re out of order, sorry!) as soon as possible. Some of the pictures didn’t turn out. For instance, I got to hang out with my publisher Bob Mayer and editor Jenn Talty, but didn’t find the pictures that I know we took *sigh* I also neglected to get a photo of the panel that I was on with Allison Brennan, Joshua Corin, Sandra Brannan Patricia Gussin, Gar Anthony Haywood, and Karen Dionne.

Since this is Monday Mentions–that’s pretty much all you’ll find today, enjoy the pictures and stay tuned for some quick excerpts from some of the panels and interviews.

Amy & Tom Sawyer

Amy & Tom Sawyer–at the Saturday afternoon book signing. Tom’s a thriller author, playright, and screenwriter. He’s been a speaker at the OWFI conference several times.
Toni McGee Causey

Toni McGee Causey, author of the Bobbie Faye trilogy, stepped in as substitute panel master when JT Ellison lost her voice.

Amy & John Gilstrap

Amy & John Gilstrap, author of 9 thrillers and 5 screenplays--I've interviewed him on my Pet Peeves radio show in the past (yep, he's a dog lover!)

Amy & Taylor Stevens

Amy & Taylor Stevens--debut author Taylor and I sat across the aisle on the plane. Her book The Informationist sold out at the bookstore, so I'll have to get it later!

Amy & Michael Palmer

Amy & Michael Palmer--one of my all-time fav medical thriller authors. Also met debut author Daniel Palmer, his son and can't wait to read his DELIRIOUS novel which--includes a DOG!

Amy & Allison Brennan

Amy & Allison Brennan, a killer thriller author and totally awesome lady! Second year we were on the same panel--oh, and she's also a pet lover. Didn't I say she's awesome?

Amy & Jon Land

Amy & Jon Land--one of the movers-and-shakers of ITW who (of course) writes incredible thrillers.

Amy & Shane Gericke

Amy and my buddy Shane Gericke--a nominee this year for best thriller, great author! Check out his work at

The Art of Pacing panel

James Rollins, Carla Buckley, Jeffery Deaver, Joseph Finder, Jamie Freveletti, Andrew Peterson, John Sanford, in THE ART OF PACING panel.

James Rollins & Amy

James Rollins, another of my fav authors with his latest book. Oh, and yes--I did wear my Bitch pin, as you see here.

Ken Follett & Douglas Preston

Ken Follett & Douglas Preston

RL Stine and James Rollins

RL Stine and James Rollins

Difference w- Male/Female Authors

How Male/Female Authors Approach the Page with Allison Brennan, Anna Destefano, Shane Gericke, Rick Molina, Erica Spindler

JT Ellison

JT Ellison--lost her voice but introduced the panel "Male/Female" approach to the page. Then on Saturday night, JT won the THRILLER Award for her papberack orginal "The Cold Room"--yay JT!

Debut Authors

Debut Authors, Class of 2011

John Lescroart & Gayle Lynds

John Lescroart & Gayle Lynds

How to lighten moment

Panel on "How to Include Humor in Thrillers" with Shane Gericke, David Bell, Toni McGee Causey, Harley Jane Kozak, Robert Liparulo, Amanda Kyle Williams

Scalpel Please

Find the Heart of Your Story with DP Lyle as Panelmaster, Brandt Dodson, Jonathan Hayes, Vladimir Lange, Michael Palmer, Stefanie Pintoff

Shane Gericke & Paula Lanier

Shane Gericke and Paula Lanier,two of my "thriller-buddies" -- Paula is a medical writer, too.

Jon Land & Paula Lanier

Paula Lanier & Jon Land--it's become an annual tradition to get this picture taken!

I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions–and to stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, listen to the weekly radio show, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter with pet book give-aways!


Thoughty Thursday: Are We There Yet?

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Funny how things that used to be a VERY-BIG-DEAL suddenly become a so-what issue. Stay with me here, but it seems that the whole Conventional vs Natural  vet medicine argument looks a whole lot like Traditional vs Indy pub discussions. Gets ya wantin’ to show your big-dawg teeth, don’t it?

I remember–(OMG, I’m channeling my grandma!)–when “holistic medicine” was woo-woo WAY-OUT-THERE on the fringes stuff that old-wives told tales about but was discounted by all the savvy scientific in-the-know types. I was a skeptic while researching holistic aka wholistic aka natural aka complementary aka new age, aka “WOO WOO” medicine for pets. Hell, they couldn’t even decide what to call it, so how could anyone take it seriously?

But slowly, steadily as I talked to these “fringe vets” about why they did what they did, the lightbulb went off. These weren’t crackpots…okay, some were pretty out there…but for the most part they’d practiced conventional Western vet care for many years. And simply got fed up when failed protocols frustrated pet owners leading to early pet death. Instead of quitting, or doing the same-old that didn’t work, these pioneers went a-lookin’ for answers, from the past, into the future, sideways and downstream every which way. While I don’t buy into every single “natural” trend, I know they have their place and offer great benefits to pets and owners.

Golly-gee-willikers, but for us writers that sounds awfully familiar. I was die-hard Tradional Publishing for 20 years, raising skeptic’s questions and pitying those souls who “resorted” to self publishing aka vanity printing. But slowly, steadily as I talked to these “fringe writers” about why they did what they did, turns out most aren’t crackpots. (Note: I said “most!”). They’d tried the conventional route, many were widely pub’d like Bob Mayer, and JA Konrath and Barry Eisler and too many others to list–and they’d simply got fed up when failed protocols frustrated copyright owners–the authors–leading to early book death. So instead of continuing on a flawed path, these pioneers snatched the reins.

Me, too–although I’m not in their league. Yet. Working on it.

And just like in the “old days” when natural vet medicine was fringe and marginalized, the Indies are being treated like yapping Chihuahuas nipping at the heels of conventional publishing. Am I wrong here? Hellooooo, when did exploration and finding creative ways to help pets–or authors–become forbidden?

Toy dogs don’t get the same respect as the big dawgs. But we’re sparkly bitches, no matter the size, with big-dawg (and cat) attitude that deserves to earn and learn on the same !#$%^&*()_+! playing field.

Vet medicine seems to’ve traveled further along that path. Even ten years ago, using herbs, home prepared foods, acupuncture and nutriceuticals was suspect. Today, old fashioned “natural healing” is the new cutting edge and veterinary medicine has gone back to the past to treat and cure pets. Pet food companies slap NATURAL on the labels, pharmaceutical research explores herbs for cancer therapy, and nutriceuticals that change gene expression wow us with healing power.

Dr. Shawn "The Natural Vet"

Dr. Shawn Messonnier was the “natural vet” when it wasn’t kewl. He explains the concept and why he decided to expand his practice to include holistic treatments in my latest Pet Peeves radio show. Today we call it “integrative medicine” or “complementary care” because it works best alongside conventional “Western” therapies and offer pets the best of all possible worlds. The latest Pet Peeves radio show features Natural Medicine & Veterinary Care with Dr. Shawn including his most recent book Unexpected Miracles: Hope and Holistic Healing for Pets.

And who’d a thunk it? Just discovered my out-of-print book New Choices in Natural Healing for Dogs & Cats –the book that changed my mind about vet care–has been fairy-godmother’d Kindle-ized by the publisher. Gonna have to check my contract and see what royalties I’ve got coming.

I’ve no doubt that the “new age” publishing will also become integrative and complementary. We’re coming closer but not there yet. How do I know this? Because the little dogs and big dogs are still “baptizing” and marking territory–and because the hardcover book is priced $2 cheaper than the Kindle version. Uh…hello?

What do y’all think? “Daddy, are we there yet? . . .” in either vet medicine or publishing?


I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions–and to stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, listen to the weekly radio show, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter with pet book give-aways! Hint: Pet Care in the New Century includes “cutting edge” medicine from both sides of the holistic/western med exam table.

Monday Mentions: Heike Update and Furry Muses

Lucy inspires Allie, a cat writer (see below).

It occurred to me over the past week how very connected we are—be it through our writing, our mutual love of pets, or other issues. These connections can be intentional or accidental, but all have benefits. I’ll be posting “shout outs” to friends, colleagues, and worthy folks from time to time in a Monday Mentions blog. First, an update on my Egypt friend.  

After a couple days’ silence, I’d been worried so her Saturday not was a relief! Heike said the German Embassy advised its citizens to leave Alexandria and Cairo, so she’d traveled to Germany with a group of German journalists. 

”It looks like things are calming down. And the government confirmed safety of journalist,” she wrote. “But better wait and see. Cannot wait to go back home to cairo. Thanks for keeping cwa friends posted.” 

(My reply) Will update all. Soon you can do that yourself. 

“I look forward to freedom and new chances for the young people. You know, after all these years I feel so close to the people and to some extent I am ”egyptianized.”  I am very proud of the peaceful protesters and many of the old people admire them. I condemn the cruel clashes. But also I found a wonderful spirit among the people.  Much care and helpfulness, much warmth. 

“This is the second time in my life to be in such political crisis. First timewas when I lived in india and rajiv Gandhi was killed, Punjab + Kashmir were fighting for independence. Curfews, bomb attacks, lots of things. But people in Egypt are cooperating much better than what I saw in india. One reason my family is worried.” 

Today I received a further update: 

“A new word in our dictionary *s* Mubarak (v.): To stick something. Example: I will Mubarak you to the wall. People have begun to joke again. A little light at the end of the tunnel.” 

LOL! Very encouraging. Folks wonder about your pets, and the animals. Did you get them out? A friend caring for them? 

“Cats in my home, neighbor looking after them. Dog in my friend’s kennel. She’s very capable.” 

Oh good. How are you? Will you (or anyone) have a job again anytime soon? “No, my company will close, so I lose my employed job. But I already have another offer. Plus I have my own company. So not too serious for me. But for others critical.”

What’s your company…I can give a shout out. 

“Worddesign. And H+A which is a local insurance brokerage and dealer of second hand machinery.”

 Good deal. Are you staying w-friends in Germany? Or family? 


She must be so relieved! 

“Sure! But if things remain calm,I will go home next Saturday.” 

Prayers it will happen! 


Those who have followed this blog know that Heike is a cat lover and member of Cat Writers Association. Yes, there are professional writers who focus on works about animals. I sent a request to writers to hear back about how “furry muses” inspire their work, and heard back from cat writer and author Allie Phillips

Current furry muse: “Lucy (12-yr-old Black Bombay) who sits with me in my office as I write my books, work on my website, or YouCanDoMoreForAnimals blog. Either she sits on my lap or sits on her cat perch that is 2 feet from my desk. She sends me inspired looks with her green eyes! I also have 12-year-old Tuxedo cat named Oscar, who is more dog than cat and he brings me toys and drops them at my fee when I am writing. Sammy, a 13-yr-old flame point Siamese, says Monroe when he meows. He belts out a Monroe when I have been writing too long and need a break. All adopted from an animal control in Michigan.” Allie just finished writing her latest book, “Defending the Defenseless: A Guide to Protecting and Advocating for Pets” which is in editing with Rowman & Littlefield Publishing and is due out late summer.

 But many writers share their lives with a furry muse or two, even if they don’t write directly about animals.  Joy Held shares her life with three cats, and says she’s very familiar with what the term “elevator butt” describes. That’s not surprising since her work focuses on writer wellness, and we all know how good for our health companion kitties and doggies can be. Her latest book is Writer Wellness, A Writer’s Path to Health and Creativity.  

Kristen Lamb writes a killer Warrior Writers blog several times a week. A fellow Texan dealing with recent snowy weather, says, “Right now I have a mini pin who refuses to go out and pee because he is afraid of the snow, and a cat who hunts Scrunchees all day (which she tosses in the middle of my bed and howls like she’s dying until I come make a big deal out of it). Who is the owner again?” Kristen is the author of We Are Not Alone: The Writers Guide to Social Media and I can’t recommend it highly enough. 

Bob Mayer, best-selling thriller writer, shares his life with two Labradors who literally keep him running to keep up. Otherwise I suspect he’d be stuck at his desk all the time, between his WriteItForward blog (which is an EXCELLENT resource for writers, by the way), current fiction projects, and work with which publishes great how-to books on writing (plus a few of my pet books *s*). 

Are you a writer with a furry muse? Drop me a line about how your pets inspire your work, for a future Monday Mentions column.

Purrs & Wags,