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Feline Friday: How Cats Read & Computer Cat-Astrophe

Cats always seem drawn to sit on top of books.

TGIFF…Feline Friday, that is. I have a new project. In an effort to streamline my work schedule and give myself more leisure time, I’ve decided to capitalize on Seren-Kitty’s ability to read and write.

All cats know how to read.  They simply sit on the page (or the E-reader), and absorb the text through their (ahem) nether regions. Just check out Wall-E, in the picture “reading” my first-aid book. Kitties want to be prepared. *s* What do YOUR cat’s read?

For years, I’ve explained to those who asked that Seren “edit” everything that leaves the house. Seren used to grab paper as it came out of the fax machine, and she answered my phone (but rarely took a message and left the receiver off the hook). Aside from simply channeling my inner cat (or dog, in the case of the forthcoming thriller), Seren takes it further. She types.

Purr-haps the next book will be mewsings straight from the Seren-kitty’s tail–er, tale. (Okay, I can hear the groans, so I’ll stop. For now.)

This is new for her. Oh, I’ve joked about Seren having a “paw-top computer” where she actually writes all of my books and articles, and allows me to take credit. After all, I have the thumbs and a wallet to open for all the kitty must-haves. But she’s never before bothered the computer keyboard, maybe because most of my work has been composed on an ergonomic keyboard.

Lately, though, I’ve worked quite a bit on my laptop. If I leave the thing open and unsupervised, she takes advantage to SIT on the keyboard–reading, I suppose, unless she’s type-composing with her ass-ets. Heck, some of my work may resemble that but I assure you, the typing does take place.

If you’re a writer who often angsts over composing just the RIGHT phraseology, having it wiped out by kitty butt-inskies can make blood pressure soar. Those innocent cat-less souls out there who think this might be an aberration, just check out the comments (I’m sure there will be several!) because cat butt-and-paw computer interference is a common problem. There are some products designed specifically to foil kitty computer damage, too, from keyboard “shields” that keep paws at bay, to software called PawSense  that “detects cat typing” and catproofs the writing with a save function before too much damage is done.

. . . Kitty Keyboard Kover, comfort for the cat and typing room for you!

Why do cats find computers so attractive? I suspect there are a couple of reasons. First, that lovely appliance gets WARM as it sits and runs. I’ve started shutting the laptop when I must leave it unattended, and still find Seren lounging on top of the closed lid, probably drawn to the heat.

It’s also an elevated perch. Yes, it IS! I mean, when a cat considers sitting on a flat piece of paper to be the epitome of luxury, the inch or two boost from perching atop your keyboard must make him feel like a king.

Finally, cats recognize that their humans spend lots of time (hours, days, weeks…) sitting and staring and doing finger-clacking noises on the laptop. It smells like their favorite person, AND if they sit on the keyboard they get in between the screen and your face–in your line of vision. I can just hear Seren thinking, “Why stare at that when you can be gazing with adoration at ME?…oh, and scratch that spot, you know the one. . .”

Do your cats sit on the keyboard? How do you manage the problem? What about following the mouse on the screen? Have you had any computer cat-tastrophes? Please share! Do your cats do anything like the kitty in the video, yikes!

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: Help for Door Dashing Kitties

cat on apartment stairs

There is a saying, that a cat is “always on the wrong side of a door.” My cat Seren(dipity) faithfully adheres to this principle, although with age, her dash-for-the-door  has become more like a stroll.

Dealing with door-dashing felines is particularly frustrating for owners. With Halloween just around the corner and lots of door opening-and-closing to come from trick or treaters, think about safety now. Even when Kitty understands that a particular location (the doorway) is forbidden, she may avoid the place when you’re looking but making a zooming escape as soon as visitors arrive and the door cracks a whisker-width open.

What can you do? Recognize you will NOT stop a cat’s urge to see on the other side of the door. You cannot change instinct, but you can modify some of these irksome behaviors.
cat reaching up
Encourage her to stay away from danger zones with training techniques. Any time you see the cat lounging near the doorway, use an interruption such as a loud “SSST!” or clapped hands to shoo her away. The idea is to make the doorway area unappealing, so that kitty keeps away—and offer her a more rewarding pastime. Some cats are dissuaded with the help of a long-distance squirt gun aimed at their backside. However, some cats like Seren enjoy being sprayed. You have to always be there for this to work and frankly, the spray isn’t all that effective and can do damage to your relationship. There are better ways.

Make the entry way unfriendly. Many cats dislike the feeling of walking on aluminum foil, so place a couple of sheets over the walkway. Another option is to apply Sticky Paws (double-sided tape) to make the surface uncomfortable. Put the Sticky Paws on placemats positioned on the forbidden area, so it’s easily removed. You can also use clear plastic floor mats placed spike-side up so the cat will avoid the area.
kittens at door

The SSSCAT (www.ssscat.com) is a cat-repellent device that sprays a hiss of air to startle the pet that triggers the built-in motion detector—you don’t have to be present for it to work. You may also use smell deterrents to keep the cat away from forbidden doorway zones. Cats dislike citrus smells, so orange or lemon scents sprayed at the bottom of the door may help.

It’s not fair to simply forbid the cat access to a much loved activity. Offer her legal outlets that are more attractive than the forbidden zones, and she’ll naturally choose to lounge there and abandon the doorway dash.

Position a cat tree or kitty bed on a table top right in front of a window some distance away from the forbidden door. Make this the most wonderful cat lounge spot ever—hide catnip or food treats in the bed, for example. Before you go out the door, make a point of giving your cat the best-treat-in-the-world, but only if she’s on this cat tree/bed (a safe distance from the door). While she munches, you can make a safe exist. Enlist help from friends to knock at the door or ring the doorbell to practice, so arrivals also make kitty think, “Hey, it’s TREAT time!”
8-15 Seren's Cushy Life
Choose your battles and perhaps allow her to lounge on the television as long as she leaves the doorway alone. Seren enjoys her multilevel cat tree situated next to the front door, where she can watch all comings and goings from the window—and gets paid with a treat for planting her furry tail and staying put.

Do your cats beg to go outside? Perhaps you have a terrific safe outside kitty playground–how did you create it? What are safety tips or training advice that has worked with your cat? The Ask Amy video below has some suggestions, too.

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: Carla Buckley, Pacing Ebb & Flow

I’ve spent the last several days head-down-slash-and-burn editing the thriller WIP, and the past several weeks’ worth of Tuesday Tips have been a great help for me. Hey, it’s my blog so I can post what I like! For all you fiction-lovers out there and those who aspire to do this brain-numbing-writer-crappiocca, I hope it’s been helpful to you, too.

Here’s the last installment of tips from Thrillerfest 2011. I’ve shared video tips from Karin Slaughter, a video of Michael & Daniel Palmer’s Thrillerfest Song, as well as a video of the Thrillerfest interview with master author R.L. Stine, and Ken Follett. I shared an interview of John Sanford and pacing and Jeffery Deaver and Andrew Petersen weighed in on pacing. The awesome Joseph Finder offered three words that make all the difference in pacing and last week Jamie Frevelletti spoke about high-octane pacing. Today I’ve got the next installment of that panel. You can check out a boatload of Thrillerfest pictures here.

Where else but Thrillerfest could you get so much bang-for-your-buck with James Rollins interviewing a whole panel of best-selling-authors! This next video features another take on the question of pacing, this time answered by best-selling author Carla Buckley, author of The Things That Keep Us Here.  This is a deceptively quiet book, with an ebb-and-flow to the pacing that tightens the tension like a silent scream.

That’s right, it doesn’t all have to be car chases and machine guns to create pacing. We’ve talked thrillers on the blog–cuz it’s my blog and I happen to love the genre–but ALL fiction needs tension and good pacing. There’s no cookie-cutter recipe that works for every book and author. How do you manage your WIP? Readers, what do you like in your book-o-the-moment choice? Is it character angst, plotting twists, a combination or none of the above? Please share!

This video is only a small taste, of course. You can get the full deal recording (and those of the other panels) of CDs, MP3s and DVDs of Thrillerfest here. And even better, you can come to Thrillerfest 2012 and see the big show in person! Registration info is now available.

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: PUBSlush, Dolphin Tale & Birdbrain Video

Greta

Greta, a lovely girl--image copr. Ryan Chronister Photography/Flickr

Monday Mentions is the mash-up-day of all the neato-torpedo links and blogs and writer-icity crappiocca collected over the past week. Get a load of that GORGEOUS dog in the photo! Today we’re celebrating lots of doggy AND kitty content, plus some interesting writer tips and links. As a treat, there’s even a clever parrot video, enjoy!

Please don’t be shy about sending me your own links or suggestions for others to highlight. I love doing a SNOOPY-DANCE-’O-JOY! in celebration of all the savvy writers and animal advocates doing the work of the angels–and to a few angels as well.

WRITER SCHTUFF

Copyright Violation Protection information in this detailed article about what to do and how to do it. An additional tip that can help is to BLOG about your article as soon as it’s posted and include a link to that article. Apparently Google registers blogs quicker than articles so this can help the author get “first dibs” on the content you create.

PUBSlush PRESS is an interesting alternative pub opportunity but there are still questions–as the fine folks at Writer Beware point out.

FUN PET LINKS, BLOGS & INFO

JACQUIE LAWSON Animated E-cards are simply a treat to view and to send. They often feature animals (especially dogs and cats) and are appropriate for any age or occasion from funny, celebratory or poignant. You can subscribe for a nominal fee. Here’s one of the newest–featuring Fluff the kitten.

The Hero Dog Awards Celebrity Auction is live! The auction will run from September 19, 2011 to October 7, 2011, with proceeds supporting American Humane Association’s mission to create a more humane and compassionate world by ending abuse and neglect of children and animals.

Cat Therapy Helps Jail Birds from Petside.com Blogger Jo Singer.

NO ANIMALS WERE HARMED Review Blog from American Humane (check out Winter the dolphin’s story here!)

Shakespeare’s Cats, a whimsical blog-look at the Bard’s roles played by felines. If you liked that, you’ll also enjoy the pictures of Yoga Kittens as well as Yoga Puppies, aroooooooo!

Snakes Are Snacking and wreaking havok on dogs and cats–know the signs and get them help! Great info from Raya-the-Vet’s blog.

Adoption Pictures MATTER!  Improved pet photos increase adoptions–a Texas photographer shows you how, very kewl!

Partnership Launches Cat Health Initiative, with some movers-and-shakers in the world of vet medicine research.

Musings of Natasha Finkel, the Fashionista Felina–fun blog your cats will want to read.

CAT HERO–DIABETIC ALERT FELINE, you’ve heard about the dogs–well kitties care, too. Lovely touching story from blogger Angela Wallace.

Houses Designed for Cats! Warning…don’t let YOUR pets get a look.

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: Racing Pacing with Jamie Frevelletti

Here’s yet another installment of tips from Thrillerfest. I’ve shared video tips from Karin Slaughter, a video of Michael & Daniel Palmer’s Thrillerfest Song, as well as a video of the Thrillerfest interview with master author R.L. Stine, and Ken Follett. I shared an interview of John Sanford and pacing and two weeks ago Jeffery Deaver and Andrew Petersen weighed in on pacing. Last week the awesome Joseph Finder offered three words that make all the difference in pacing. Today I’ve got the next installment of that panel. You can check out a boatload of Thrillerfest pictures here.

Where else but Thrillerfest could you get so much bang-for-your-buck with James Rollins interviewing a whole panel of best-selling-authors! This next video features another take on the question of pacing, this time answered by best-selling author Jamie Frevelletti.

Her book Running From the Devil starts with a plane crash and never stops.

How do you pace your novel? Conventional wisdom says “cut to the chase” but that really means cut out the backstory. Don’t bore your reader with background, but begin with something interesting–usually that’s the “normal world” before everything goes haywire for the hero. But how soon do you drop the hero/heroine off a cliff? Do you start in the middle of the firestorm? When planning the story, do you consciously include spots to breathe?

For the past several weeks I’ve been the substitute accompanist for my church when the organist broke her shoulder. As a singer, I always include phrasing for a singer’s breaths–because as a singer I get nuts AND PASS OUT! when the phrase never ends. The same thing should happen in fiction. But that ebb and flow can come fast or slow, become a torrent racing for a cliff or a meandering stream that picks up steam over the rapids.

Do you think readers feel that same urge for an eye-in-the-storm quiet moment? How long/how often should it happen? Or can you ramp up the tension without pause? Do tell!

Meanwhile, here’s what best-selling authors say. This video is only a small taste, of course. You can get the full deal recording (and those of the other panels) of CDs, MP3s and DVDs of Thrillerfest here.

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!

Thoughty Thursday: Get Into Something Good!

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Okay, what are YOU into? Something good, I hope.

What else makes you smile? I’m working on the thriller today, yee-haw! And the cat is helping. Dang, I’ve got my dog, my cat, my writing, my music–I am REALLY into something good.

If you need a smile just take a look at this fun-tastic video. My thanks to Terry Albert for sending me the link.

 

Monday Mentions: Religious Cats, Little Dog Life Lessons & Pet Resources

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I do my best to avoid talking about politics and religion but just had to make an exception in the case of Ketzel, subject of the above book MEWSINGS: My Life as a Jewish Cat by my colleague Greta Beigel. This delightful book just got a stellar review and I had to add my SNOOPY-DANCE-‘O-JOY! to the celebration. Note: you can click on the book cover to go to the “buy” page on amazon.

What about your fur-kids? In centuries past, cats were worshiped as gods and sometimes still seem to expect that adoration. Dogs, on the other paw, sometimes treat their humans with such deference that we get too big for our britches. So what’s up with YOUR fur-kids? Are they spiritual beings? Do they meditate, celebrate or gravitate to more than the food bowl? Please share!

Monday Mentions is the mash-up-day of all the neato-torpedo links and blogs and writer-icity crappiocca collected over the past week. Today it’s all about pets.

RADIO SHOWS & MORE

Pet Peeves Radio – Women Training Dogs Camilla Gray-Nelson trains women to train their dogs–and yes, it’s a bit different than the male viewpoint. If you’re a lady with a pet dog and at the end of your leash with Fido’s antics, you’ll want to learn the tips in this show. Camilla has been training dogs and solving problems for more than 20 years and today runs Dairydell Canine Center in Northern California. She and her staff have helped more than 9000 dogs and owners from all over the United States!

Folks, if you have a suggestion for a guest or topic idea for Pet Peeves please drop me a line or post a comment to that effect. It can be funny to serious about what HISSES you off (or makes you purrrrrr and wag) about all-things-pets.

Four Legged Life with Arden Moore offers a pet community with pet care classes, a newsletter, an award-winning “Oh, Behave!” radio podcast with lots of pet-loving celebs, and more. Arden also happens to be the editor of Catnip, a publication of Tufts University (and I have the honor to write for her once in a while!).

PUPPY-LICIOUS PLUG. Those who visit this blog know I frequently share puppy-licious content from my puppies.About.com site. Maybe it’s not kewl to say it’s GREAT info…but I do have a GREAT time writing it. It’s still quite new so each month about 10-20 new articles and that many blogs (plus a weekly newsletter) get added.

HEARTWORM ALERT! Last week I added an article about canine heartworm disease and the fact that the treatment to cure the disease is in short supply. And I heard back from the American Heartworm Society (a GREAT resource for info!) asking me to share this video with more information–of course, I’m delighted to do so!

You know, of course, that cats get heartworms, too. Seren gets her preventive each month, even though she’s an indoor cat. You can find out more at the American Heartworm Society site. Franny Syufy’s cats.About.com site also offers top notch cat specific content. I had the good fortune to work with Franny last year as the contributing writer on cat behavior. Franny’s site has been around about 15 years so you can image the wealth of info she’s got, check it out!

GORILLA OF MY HEART? UC Davis School of Vet Medicine Newsletter has all kinds of great animal-istic information and special thanks to Lynn Narlesky who keeps me plugged in the fascinating latest. Check out one of the features about a HUMAN virus found in gorillas. Can you say “medical thriller plot?”

HORSING AROUND. Fertility vaccine for wild horse birth control, a study from the awesome folks at Morris Animal Foundation.

DOGGY TESTIMONY. My German dog-writing colleague Bernd Guenter pointed out this neat story about a dog helping rape victims testify in court–and how it’s being challenged. Incidentally if you ever need fanTAStic dog photos, check out Bernd’s books and Berner pictures–just awesome!

DOG FIGHT AP? EWWW! Some of y’all have been following the story about the dog fighting ap–yes, there’s an AP for that, apparently. No one has opposed it more strenuously than my colleague Steve Dale who offers details in his blog. And another colleague, Susan Conant, tracked down the link to report and request that offensive aps be taken down–check it out here.

GOOD NEWS FOR PET PASSPORTS. Apparently your pets no longer need to endure 6-month rabies antibody rechecks when imported to the UK–here’s the details about the new rules on pet passports.

LIFE LESSONS and Little Dogs, a most touching blog post by Catie Rhodes

TAKE YOUR CAT to the VET WEEK sponsored by PetFinder.com invites you to take the furry pledge! You don’t need a pet passport to do the right thing by your cat. Stay tuned for more about this later in the week…

Whew–it’s clear that the critters took over today’s Monday Mentions. I’ve got a slew of publishing/writing tips–so many that I’ll share them on tomorrow’s blog.

I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? I’m nearly ready to record a bunch of new ones, so be sure to get your requests in the comments. 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!

Furry Friday: Channeling Your Inner Fur-Kid

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What are you TELLING me?

How the hell does she swing from the drapes and seek out the highest spot in the house? Why in doGs name did he roll in dead fish—and then share by rubbing clean against my socks? Does shedding itch? Is that cute innocent look for real, or just an act?

Are you passionate about pets, too? Do you ever stop thinking about them? For more than twenty years, I’ve puzzled over their actions, behaviors, motivations and care, nearly 24/7. Pets rule.

Okay, so according to the pet-less, I have no life. Some folks write to change the world. They do so with passion, dedication, and great skill, and I admire them greatly. But I’m not the only writer obsessed with fluffy subject matter.

Amy Shojai with Golden

Westminster Kennel Club dog show after the DWAA events, where you can meet the most glorious dogs and dedicated pet people!

Pet writers also write to make a difference, and sometimes manage to save lives. After reading several cat-egories to judge a recent CWA contest of outstanding work, this hits home with me in a big way. Cat Writers Association members as well as Dog Writers Association of America folks rarely know what impact the work has, because those who most benefit from pet writing never read it. In fact, some of ‘em probably baptize it.

Please don’t leave my Petiquette newspaper columns on the floor. It’s disheartening. And if you use them to line the bottom of the parrot cage, let that be your little secret. I don’t need to know. Really, I don’t.

FAN? Really, a FAN?!

Last week I received a letter–yes, a real hand-written-and-printed-in-pencil letter–from a fan. It seems that an eleven-year-old wannabe kitten owner had been told by her Mom she needed to learn about taking care of kittens FIRST before adopting a furry baby. So the little girl decided to write to me after reading my kitten book. WOW-WOW-WOW! and hurray for Mom!

It’s worth it. Every bit of the sleepless nights. Pet writers get paid with more than $$. What made your day/week/month worth the angst?

kitten with typewriter

Cat writers channel their inner kitten...

Of course pet writers wish their audience had pocketbooks. In this economy that would help more of the furry-inclined to spend more time doing what makes writerly hearts go pitty-pat. But if pets could read and had wallets, they’d spend hard-earned kibble on Kitty Kaviar, Puppy Crunchies or fuzzy squeaker toys to disembowel (or hump) at the most inappropriate time. At least, that’s what Magic and Seren would do. What would your fur-kids buy with their spare change?

My illiterate furry audience “reads” in very different ways–puppies communicate one way and cats talk another. My true readership will never ask for a pawtograph, or care if I have initials after my name. But they will do back-flips for the right treat, and wag and purr with delight should a human finally understand that tail-talk.

What about you? are you different? What’s your obsession? Writing? Sparkly objects? Gerbils? Cheetos and M&Ms? (that’s writerly brain-food, ya know!).

As for me, until my audience comes out from under the bed, or tires from dog-earing one of my books and actually SPEAKS in language most owners understand–and puts me gloriously, wonderfully out of business–I’ll keep typing, blogging, fiction-ing and radio-ing away.

Wait, I’m channeling a message now. It’s coming clear, yes, it’s…I see it all now! what I absolutely, without a doubt, know to be the meaning behind all the howls, hisses, yowls, and wags. The fur-kids of the world sit up and beg and howl their message loud and clear:

BUY AMY’S BOOKS!

Trust me. I’m a professional. And pets never lie.

What do YOUR pets tell you to do? I’ll give you a moment to channel the fur kids. Go ahead, I’ll wait . . . . everybody here? So ask ’em. What does the cat say? Is her fondest desire to doze in front of the fan? or eat mouse morsels off a crystal plate?  or have you give up your job to scritch her itchy spots all of the time? If your fur kids could have their most favorite wish come true, what would it be?

One of my wishes would be for all the pets of the world to get along with each other and their people. I think the critters in the video, below, are on their way to making that happen. What do YOU think?

I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? I’m nearly ready to record a bunch of new ones, so be sure to get your requests in the comments. 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: Musically Thrilling Writer-icity

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Amy & Michael Palmer

Amy and bestselling thriller author Michael Palmer at Thrillerfest!

Okay, I gotta share another fan-girl moment–yes, that’s THE Michael Palmer at the reception just before the Thrillerfest Banquet. And I got to meet his son, debut author Daniel Palmer earlier in the day at the book signing event. Yep, got both of their books autographed. And because I had the books shipped (my bad back couldn’t take schlepping ’em on the plane), I just got the books this week and have just started Daniel’s debut thriller, Delirious. And for all you dog-lovers, a main character in Daniel’s book adopts an adult rescue Beagle named Monte…you’ll love this dog! Oh, and then Michael’s  book is just A Heartbeat Away on my list to read next.

Why is this on today’s Tuesday Tips? Well–the video might explain. You see, both these talented writers also are musicians and offered some great fun tips during their presentation at the Thrillerfest banquet. The quality of the video sucks, I know, cuz the light wasn’t great and frankly, I was laughing too hard to hold the camera steady.

This video is only a small taste of the whole Thrillerfest experience, of course, and you can get the full deal recording (and those of the other panels) of CDs, MP3s and DVDs of Thrillerfest here.

What are YOUR favorite author tips? Do any of these sound familiar?

I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? I’m nearly ready to record a bunch of new ones, so be sure to get your requests in the comments. 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!

Thoughty Thursday: Hummers, Writers & Antsy-R-Us

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How do you feed your hummer soul and kick buggy butt?

Ants invaded the hummingbird feeders. This isn’t two or three , but a thundering horde. They squiggle into the birdy faucets, clog up output, and commit ant suicide in the sugar water. This doesn’t seem to bother the hummers–more protein, yum!–until the floating ant DOAs exceed a half inch depth.

Setting the pole in a pan of water works for half a day until the 110-degree weather steams it away. The little bit left provides the bugs with water ski opportunity. The little buggers cry, ‘WHEEEEE!’ as they slalom a pathway to reach a drink.

Smeared Vicks on the holder won’t keep them at bay. It just clears tiny ant sinuses so they appreciate the sweet taste all the more.

These days, fiction writing time gets clogged up with ant-icity just like the hummer juice. Some of these “bugs” offer necessary protein. They suck away a modest amount and bring in $$. And hell, these days the economy–like Texas temperatures–creates a climate that demands everyone bow to the forces of nature. House payments come due, AC goes out, fur-kids need kibble in the bowl–life’s funny that way. But when lots of the ant-icity bring nothing to the table other than a giant sucking noise, something’s gotta give.

The fiction am a-calling. So’s the play. Two more nonfiction books are on the to-do list. All those projects feed a writer’s soul the way hummer juice switches on birdy delight.

You’re a writer. You know what I’m talkin’ about. Yet ant-distractions demand more and more time.

When the ant-load gets too deep for sparkly tennis shoes to navigate, the hose comes out. The hummers–and writers–deserve a bit of uninterrupted beverage, after all.

How much ant-icity clogs up your soul? What are your limits–2 or 3 bugs in the juice, a dozen, a half-inch of floaters? When do you cry UNCLE and get out the hose? How do you flush away the the sucky parts so you can enjoy the nectar?

Cuz I don’t want the hummers to get chased off by #$%^&*!@#$%T^&! ants.

I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? I’m nearly ready to record a bunch of new ones, so be sure to get your requests in the comments. 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!