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Lights! Camera! Action! Promote or Die (sorta-kinda-in-a-way)

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Increase your audience! It'll be a feather in your writerly cap...

Today’s Tuesday Tips blog launches the next series and I’m talking about (GASP!) media training for authors. Heck, ANY writer (any NONPROFIT!)  benefits from learning the basics because let’s face it, your publisher ain’t gonna do this for you.

Okay, I’ll take that back. If you’re the sparkle-tacular Sandra Brown (she’s a Texan, ya know! just “met” her on Twitter, FAN GIRL MOMENT!) or the furry-fantastic James Rollins you’ll get folks rolling out the red carpet-diem for quotes and promo ops. The rest of us schlubs need quite a bit of hand-waving creativity to get a notice about current projects, books and causes.

I gave this talk last year at the Oklahoma Writers Federation annual conference, and thought I’d share the high points with readers. Just so’s ya know, I’ve used all of these tips and appeared on hundreds of TV and radio shows, been quoted as an expert in (mumble-mumble) LOTS of print and online media, and made numerous public appearances. So I know a wee bit about the process, what works and what might be better relegated to the “who cares, don’t waste your time” circular file.

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Maurice, do-ing his doody Dragon.

By the way, you CAN hire this done if you’ve got deep pockets and plan to win the lottery to fund such things. But if you’re able to fund hiring it done–I hate you and will send Maurice to do dragon do-do on your inbox. Or something.

Most writers ain’t got the funds and need to do media on the cheap. Ahem.

DEFINING MEDIA

Most folks think of “media” as television and radio. Today there are hybrids and new, better, more creative ways to use technology to communicate. Ten years ago, who ever thought I’d be shooting my own ASK AMY online series? Or have a PET PEEVES radio show via the Internet that never-ever-goes-away (can you say perPETual promo?).

WHY SHOULD YOU CARE?

When you’re a writer, author, volunteer for a cause, or other fill-in-the-blank, there are three major benefits of using media. You are, after all, looking for an audience. Well, some of us want more than Mom and Weird Cousin Al to appreciate our creative efforts. There’s nothing wrong with writing for yourself and keeping a personal diary (when you die who cares if the whole family is embarrassed when it’s discovered and pub’d, right?). My own work seeks to empower readers to help their cats and dogs–and since cats and dogs have trouble reading (there’s that whole glasses thing gets in the way), part of my job as an author is to entice pet parents aka “readers” to pick up the dang book and read. I suspect most of y’all out there share that desire.  So the top reason you should care is media savvy allows you to reach a wider audience.

Travis needs home

Be creative--get the word out! Can you say "photo op?"

How many of y’all have made a TV or radio appearance after which your family and friends look at you in a different way? (Dang, shouldn’t have worn polka dots…) Wait, no, I mean your appearance on media–and making a GOOD impression (more about that later) increases your credibility and raises your status. Don’t argue with me, it does. Just having been published gives you an air of coolness but getting MEDIA ATTENTION means that the high-and-mighty MEDIA GAWDS recognize you and that (drum roll….) establishes you as an EXPERT.

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YELL about it--sorta-kinda-in-a-way...

Why do you want to be considered an expert? Because it gets you MORE media attention, which gets your name out there, which sells your book/cause/personal brand (more about BRAND later). See how the circle-of-life makes wondrous things happen? That’s the third major benefit. Media helps build buzz for book sales/appearances.

So have you leaped from behind the safe anonymity of your writerly desk into the shark-icty of the media circus? How’d that work for you? Are you a new or aspiring author? A writer interested in expanding your blogging readership? A volunteer looking for ways to help your pet cause? What are some ways you’ve used media to work for you? Or (rubbing hands together with glee…) any HORROR STORIES you’d care to share? Don’t worry, I’ll share some of mine, too. We are coming up onto Halloween, of course!

Stay tuned and next Tuesday I’ll post the next part of this series, including what’s available today and how you might use it.

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!

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!

Tuesday Tips: Reverse, Reveal, Surprise

Choco power

Writing fiction is a tug-o-war with your inner child--who will win? (Image copr. Vida Jocif)

Some of y’all who “like” me on Facebook know I’m deep into edits on a thriller WIP. Yes, I’m channeling my inner child to try my paw at some fiction writer-icity. Only time will tell whether readers will lap it up or howl and bare their teeth but it’s great fun for me all the same. Sort of like brain-candy as a break from some of the more serious nonfiction topics of daily work such as expressing puppy anal glands (EW!) or de-skunking your pet (double EW!). Actually some of that could make its way into my fiction since one of the viewpoint characters is a service dog. Hey man, it’s what I do!

DANGER! KNOWING TOO MUCH?

New writers are often told to write what you know. But there’s danger in that, too. When the author knows so much about a particular topic, info-dump-itis becomes a huge risk. (Guilty.) So in a way, writing about what you DON’T know might make more sense, and indulging in research only to the point needed to move the story forward. I really could care less how bullets are made, or why this gun sounds differently than that one. When I read a thriller I just want the gun to shoot when it’s supposed to.

BAD RESEARCH KILLS STORIES

But I also know readers who become distracted and jarred out of the story if the cop-hero carries the wrong firearm. I wouldn’t know or care. But I’m offended by authors who get dog/cat facts wrong in their novels–I’ve stopped reading at least one BSA for that reason when the hero/vet-tech gave her SAR dog Tylenol for muscle aches.

CHOOSING THE “WRITE” WORDS

How much is too much? What’s not enough? Just show the tip of the iceberg instead of dropping the whole lump-‘0-ice into the brew that takes the steam out of the story.

At least that’s what I believe Mr. Finder says in the latest video, below. I plan to take a page from his pacing playbook, too, and tape these three words above my computer: reverse, reveal, surprise.

JOSEPH FINDER SPEAKS

The past several Tuesday Tips have featured a series of video tips from Thrillerfest and best-selling authors. These include tips from Karin Slaughter,  a video of Michael & Daniel Palmer’s Thrillerfest Song,interview with master author R.L. Stine, Ken Follett, and  John Sanford.  Last week’s video featured pacing tips from Andrew Peterson and Jeffery Deaver.

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! Today the video offers tips on pacing and character from best-selling author Joseph Finder.

How do you manage characterization in your novel without resorting to the dreaded info-dump-icity? Do you season in details like salt and pepper–or do you throw everything in the pot to boil and worry about diluting the broth later? Is it important for the author to know all of that backstory to write valid, compelling characters? What’s YOUR biggest hurdle in the fictioning process? (Hey, I’m a writer–I can make up words if I want to!). 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.

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: John Sandford’s Pacing

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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.  Today I’ve got more goodies in store from that event.  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 first video features a question about pacing, answered by John Sanford. In fact, I just finished reading one of Mr. Sanford’s thrillers BAD BLOOD — he’s got to be one of my all time favorite authors! and I got the book autographed (Fan-Girl Moment!).

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.

So how do you create good pacing in your novels? Guess whether Mr. Sanford is a “pantser” or a “plotter?” He shares a great tip for increasing tension and starting your book off with a bang. How do you start your novels?

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: Scary-Funny Interview with R.L. Stine

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For the past nine Tuesdays this space focussed on DIY Kindle-ization. I’ll return to the topic from time to time and point y’all at shiny objects that catch my eye. For example, David Gaughran covers Ebooks in his daily blog including some pretty nifty how-to advice that’s particularly helpful to international authors. He’s also Epub’d a how-to book.

I just received an inquiry from an Italian publisher about foreign language rights for the Aging Cat book, yee-haw! That never would have happened without bringing the backlist er, uhm, back. *s*

My next Kindle-ization project won’t happen until a massive revision/update of the award winning Purina Encyclopedia of Cat Care–which also will require a title change since I’m no longer affiliated with the company and that license expired. So what should I call the book? Love to have suggestions for a new title! It’s still an A-to-Z encyclopedia but expands the care/health sections with first aid, aging specific issues, behavior, and WOW-cutting edge. Hey, I have to put some THRILLING stuff in there! But I’ll remove the short breed descriptions and pictures because others do that way better than I can. Let me know and I’ll refer you to colleague’s books that do a fantastic job with kitty breeds.

I’m hard at work editing my current fiction WIP–oh yes, I make up crappiocca, too! The story includes SURPRISE! dogs and cats and vets, oh my! No flying monkeys. Yet. A few dead bodies. Those who frequent this blog know I’m a fan of thrillers and recently attended Thrillerfest. You can check out a boatload of Thrillerfest pictures here.

Even though my kids have four feet and fur, I’m familiar with R.L. Stine’s successful GOOSEBUMPS series. These days, YA fiction is hotter than Texas in July. (We had rain this morning that sizzled when it hit the ground.) So when the schedule said the amazing James Rollins (fan-girl moment!) would interview Mr. Stine, I had to be there.

Who knew R.L. Stine could have a second career in stand-up! Or that he was not an overnight success. His publishing path gives established and yet-to-be-published writers hope, and offers some great insight. This video is only a small taste, of course, and you can get the full deal recording (and those of the other panels) of CDs, MP3s and DVDs of Thrillerfest here.

How did you start out as a writer? For the successful established authors, how long did it take? What words of wisdom can you add to help with the teeth-gnashing angst of pursuing a writerly dream? As for my small success as a pet writer, I started out scraping crap off the bottom of kennels, and these days I just write about it. Exactly the same, only different.

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!

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 http://www.shanegericke.com

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!

 

Monday Mentions: The Devil Made Me Do It!

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I’ve been a fan of Jim’s even before I met him at Thrillerfest a few year’s back, and then got to interview him for this Pet Peeves radio show about his Altar of Eden thriller featuring a veterinarian. So I can’t wait to read his latest Sigma Force novel.

Tomorrow, June 21st, is an all-day virtual launch party of James Rollins’ new book, The Devil Colony. If you’re a thriller lover, then you already know the name–and if you don’t, WOWZER you’re in for a treat!

Yep, that’s right, he’s a VETERINARIAN! A thriller guy who likes puppy dogs and kitty cats, yay! He even has some very cool swag available, with all proceeds benefiting the Humane Society of America (check it out!).

Oh, and did I mention, a thoroughly nice guy willing to talk to unknown wannabe thriller writers–like me. He may not even remember cuz I know he does this so often. But Jim is the reason my pet first aid book qualified me for full Thriller Writers membership when he was co-president with Steve Berry.

Did I already say–WOW!? Oh you devil, you! Just what were you thinking?

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"Devil Colony? Aha! A veterinarian finally wrote a tell-all about your family!"

And nope, he wasn’t under the influence of catnip–I can only think the Devil Made Him Do It. I know from devils. I live with a feline demon who answered to “Devil” long before her real name, because she got called that so often. And in turn, I make that sweet innocent kitty live with a “devil dawg” that’s an affront to feline-icity just by breathing the same air. As a behavior consultant, I deal with furry and human devilish behavior on a regular basis–and then there’s those devilish writing deadlines. Guess you could say the devil makes ME do it, too.

In fact, later today I’m giving a live Webinar on Senior Moments: Quality of Life Issues for Aging Pets (both cats and dogs). Sometimes I wonder if Magical-Dawg will survive to senior citizen canine status, while Seren-kitty is already well into her 9th life.

Let’s turn this devil-may-care c’attitude around and make dancing-with-the-devil a fun nose-thumbing event. Are you up for it? Join the virtual launch party tomorrow and give the Devil his due! Hang out with thriller authors, wear costumes, win prizes. My colleague Kristen Lamb (another Jim-Fan-Girl and a social media genius) came up with the idea so read all about Kristen’s devilish party plans here. You can learn more about James Rollins–the man, the author, the veterinarian–in the video below. Check out his books – here’s the full list.  And for those on Twitter, come party on Twitter at #DevilColony.

A slew of devilishly talented bloggers have already started the party ball rolling, so check ’em out:

Jenny Hansen’s Blog – Friday Devil’s Playground

Danielle Meitiv’s Blog – Digging Taters & Devilish Book Party

Piper Bayard’s Blog – On Life, Belly Dancing and Apocalyptic Annihilation

Tiffany White’s Friday FabOoolous Post on James Rollins

Writers in the Storm – Devilish Fun…A Worldwide Book Launch Party

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: Travel Tails & Celebrity Rescues

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7-16 seren & suitcase 2

Seren hates travel, but wants to help pack.

Are you enjoying your holiday weekend? I confess to not getting NEARLY as much work done as planned–we did get Magical-Dawg bathed, and a start on weed wacking the garden. Yep, we stayed home but I know lots of folks planned to travel. Did you take the fur-kids along with you to visit Uncle Zeke and Aunt Ethel? Car rides aren’t a problem for Magic (it’s HIS car, after all!) but reluctant furry puppy travelers may benefit from these car ride training tips.

My colleague Carol Bryant has all the must-knows on traveling with your pet. For eleven years her FIDO Friendly magazine has provided the very latest hotel and destination reviews along with health and wellness topics, dog training advice, rescue and feel-good stories, contests, and the latest pooch products to hit the market.

MORE MONDAY MENTIONS!

The AKC Companion Animal Recovery ( AKC CAR) Canine Support and Relief Fund recently awarded more than $340,000 in grants, the majority to K-9 Search and Rescue (SAR) teams. Among other things, grants fund training seminars, GPS Units, Cooling vests, safety vests & repelling harnesses, disaster agility equipment, and radios, kennels, crates, leashes & toys.

Check out the first episode of a new web series, Lifestyles of Celebrity Pets, with my colleagues Nikki Moustaki (featured interview) and series pet expert consultant Darlene Arden. Fun stuff!

 If you’re like me, you love horses–and although I don’t currently have one I am scared and anguished over the recent devastating outbreak of equine herpes. Learn more about the condition and what you can do.
 
The latest Pet Peeves Radio Show features the book Caring for Special Needs Pets, don’t miss it!
 
Best-selling thriller author James Rollins fund raiser book promo supports THE HUMANE SOCIETY OF AMERICA  to help save pet lives (nope, it’s different than HSUS). His Sigma Force saves puppies and kittens, too
 
This fun video puts people in the “paws” of pets for a quirky look at pet adoption–I love this! Just don’t tell Magical-Dawg about it, or he’ll swipe my car keys . . .
 
 

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!