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Woof Wednesday: Have You Howled Today?

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Magical-Dawg with a favorite bear toy--when not shaking the stuffing out of it, he sucks on 'em.

Living in Tornado Alley keeps North Texans alert to the weather changes–and the past week has been a doozy. My phone went out last Friday. This morning (6 days later!) the fine folks at Verizon fixed it. Wind, rain, hail (some the size of golf balls) grabbed and shook those phone cables like a terrier with a rat–or my Magical-Dawg with his stuffed bear. At least this time the electrical downed lines didn’t spark a grass fire.

Still had my cell phone. And the DSL line for the computer and email worked. In this “connected” world we’ve got so many ways to communicate–emailing, texting, faxing, FB-ing, twitter-icity–could you go back to basics? What are the options? Smoke signals? The fire marshall would throw cold water on that notion. Tom-tom drums? Gotta have rhythm for that. Why not howls!

We’ve got lots to howl about, actually.  The horrifying “train your virtual dog to fight” Android Ap created lots of raised hackles in the pet writing community. My colleague Steve Dale’s recent blog details the objections–and the REMOVAL of the Ap. ArrrrrrrroooOOOOOOOOOO!  (p.s., just learned it’s risen from the dead in another incarnation, hisssss!)

Another colleague, Gina Spadafori of is on the road with my one-time co-author Dr. Marty Becker on a 7-week book tour. They arranged with Marriott for stays along the way–including a place for the tour’s spokes-dog McKenzie, a highly trained and easy going Flat Coat Retriever. Well–at the very first stop in Houston on the 30-city tour, Gina and McKenzie got evicted…no dogs allowed, never mind it’d been cleared by Corporate. Same thing happened at the next stop. ArrrrrrrrrrrrrrOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!! The powers-what-be are working on it–meanwhile, McKenzie aka McKutie-Dawg spends time in the big bus rock star suite with Gina.

A howl works for celebration, for lamentation, for communication–and lots of other  “ations” including the canine n-ation. High tech human conversation loses lots in translation without the natural audible inflection, not to mention (pun intended!) the silent body language that goes with it. And I am NOT referring to elevated digits in rude salutes–although being without a phone for nearly six days tempted me to flex my fingers. Harrumph!

magic & instruments

Howls are canine singing--sorta kinda in a way...

Dogs know how to communicate. You gotta go “low tech” to really connect with doggy wags, growls, whines and more. My Paw Nation article on doggy communication hit the high spots. Do your dogs howl? When do they howl–and why? Have you howled today? Try it–for a terrific stress relief (and you might get your canine’s singing along). Lately the tornado sirens have stirred up the canine chorus at my house. So I thought this Ask Amy was timely, enjoy!

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!

Monday Mentions: Kindle-ization, Book Tours & Opposable Thumbs

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Sometimes evolution is a bitch. Has publishing suddenly grown opposable thumbs?

It seems a lifetime ago that I wrote two books with my good friend Dr. Marty Becker of Good Morning America. He invited me to the party to be a co-editor with him and Carol Kline on Chicken Soup for the Cat Lover’s Soul, and Chicken Soup for the Dog Lover’s Soul. That was in the days when my killer-diller agent always wangled a hefty book advance–no go with these titles, and no negotiating contracts, either. Marty and Carol had already written several Chicken Soup books and convinced me royalties would be worth it at the back end (the “new” way of  writing books), and darned if they weren’t right! The titles went on to sell hundreds of thousands of copies, I got a crash course in writing Chicken Soup-style nonfiction–it’s a LOT like fiction!–and had the great fun of working with two stellar writers.

Marty now is the resident vet on The Dr. Oz Show, and partners with co-writer Gina Spadafori, the founder of Pet Connection. They’re already NY-Times bestselling pet book authors, and their latest book, Your Dog, The Owner’s Manual launches April 15–I’ve already pre-ordered my Kindle copy. Marty is brilliant at marketing and although the book is debuting in both print and Ebook format, I’m a bit surprised that the promotion efforts look quite traditional. With the Chicken Soup books, we put together special websites and conducted radio media blitzes — but after 23 books I have never yet gone on a “book tour.” It’s expensive, publishers hardly ever fund them, and with book stores closing, the venues are hard to find.

But Marty and Gina have planned a two-month 30-city tour in a specially wrapped 45-foot bus, leaving on April 25 from Houston–appearing in pet products stores along the way (brilliant!). Follow the tour from Gina will report along the way via Facebook and blog updates, Tweets and YouTube videos/Flickr photos. I can’t wait to get my paws on the book–and also see how the promotion works out.

Barry Eisler turned down $500,000 to self-publish!

Compare that to the latest from indy-publishing’s hero, JA Konrath–a best-selling writer because, he says, he went Indy. He’s the fellow that made an offer he couldn’t refuse so he turned down NY publishing and–dare I say?–went rogue. His terrific blog A Newbie’s Guide to Publishing currently features a virtual conversation with his buddy Barry Eisler, best selling thriller author. You’d think since traditional publishing has been so good to Eisler, he’d stick with it but–news flash! Barry Eisler just turned down a $500,000 advance and instead will self publish. Check out the blog for the full story! BREAKING NEWS: Self-publishing break out author Amanda Hocking appears to be poised for a traditional publishing contract worth $1 million.

So on the one paw, my nonfiction colleagues use a traditional tour and incorporate social media along the way; while fiction authors like JA Konrath and Barry Eisler choose the “new way of writing books.” Is it because nonfiction is so different than fiction, both in writing and marketing? For all you writers out there, please share your experiences. Have you done book tours–virtual or otherwise–and how’d that work for you? Are you sticking with traditional publishing, or are you self publishing? Readers, how often have you attended a book tour appearance? Will you turn out for Dr. Marty and Gina when they roll into town? (Hint: They’re bringing along a dog!)

“He stuck in his thumb, and pulled out a plum . . .”

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