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Monday Mentions: Fabulous Flowers, Furry Pet Care & Fantastic Writing Tips

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Magic in flowers

Last week I mentioned the 500 antique roses around our house? It used to be 700+ but the drought, armadillos and grasshopper attrition left a dent. You cannot believe the aroma! With all the recent rain, we’re fighting with the weeds but it appears the roses are holding their own or even winning. And so are the wildflowers. As promised, some of my favs are shared here today.

This next weekend I’ll be at the Oklahoma Writers Federation Conference. This is an organization very close to my heart, as I have met some of the most extraordinary writers and friends there, as well as connected with editors and agents. As a result of attending, I ended up writing a Woman’s World pet column for a couple of years, found my agent (we sold 15+ award winning books together!), and also served as contest chair and president. I’m now a life member, wow! This weekend I’ll be moderating a panel on social media. You don’t have to be there, either, to benefit–if you have questions please post in the comments section and I’ll pose them to the panelist and share in a future blog.

Monday Mentions is the mash-up-day of all the TASTY neato-torpedo links and videos, pet schtuff and bling and writer-icity crappiocca collected over the past week. Some of this “schtuff” can be hard to categorize and may fit more than one topic so I urge you to at least scan them all. But first…some N. Texas spectacular-arity because when you’re feeling angst, there’s nothing like a dose of Mom-Nature to set you right.

antique rose
antique rose
Anitique roses


Amazon Rewards Content Creators a great post from LJ Sellers

2012 Agents Conference, Writers League of Texas the registration price GOES UP tomorrow (May 1st)

Winners of the 2-12 Edgars Announced

The London Book Fair from an author’s perspective

Writer Beware! avoid this German literary agent and VERY IMPORTANT info on Reversion Clauses in contracts (trust me, authors, you must read this!)

William Bernhardt Writing Programs Best selling legal thriller author’s seminars, workshops and more come HIGHLY recommended (yes, they’re that good). Bill’s also a thoroughly nice guy.


Big Head Saves Staffie an awesome come-back story about a dog named Diesel hit by car TWICE–from the awesome Dr. Rayya’s Online Vet Journal

Cats Are Con Artists, Dogs Are Sycophants says a new scientific study. Huh? Say it ain’t so, Fluffy…what’s that? Let me fill up your bowl…

39 Pound Cat?! OMG let me NOT fill up your bowl! And here’s more about MEOW the heavyweight kitty and how he came to be where he is today (thanks JaneA Kelley!)

Singer Chris Brown Sells Pit Bull Puppies Online — there are so many things WRONG with this, I don’t know where to start

Protect Cats from Heartworms! According to the website, in a North Carolina study 28 percent of the cats diagnosed with heartworm disease were indoor-only cats. It’s been a mild winter–mosquitoes are already out and about. And yes, Seren-kitty takes her preventive like a treat. (So does the Magical-Dawg).

Parasite Prevention from expert Dr. Blagburn from Good News For Pets

American Humane Association’s Second Chance Fund helps animals in disaster situations

Cat owners are urged to speak with their veterinarians about preventive medications for their cats so that they can protect their feline friends from potentially deadly heartworm infestations. For more information on CAPC, visit their website at

2012 Petties DogTime’s Pet Bloggers Awards with awards going to help fund animal shelters of the winner’s choice. Nominations open June 4 and broadcast in November.

34th Annual Winn Feline Foundation Feline Health Symposium.  Learn all about feline hypertrophic cardiomyopathy June 28, 2012 at the Boston Marriott Quincy, in Quincy, MA from researchers Leslie Lyons, PhD, University of California, Davis (speaking on genetics), and John Rush, DVM, DACVIM, DACVECC, Tufts University (causes, diagnosis, treatment). 

Hemingway Cats Case Awaits Federal Appeal The approximately 40 felines descended from the famous author’s “breeding” program continue to live on the grounds of the Hemingway Museum–should they be caged?

Fact Or Fiction: 10 Diet Myths Debunked, a fantastic post from the excellent blogger August McLaughlin

This terrific video “This Too Will Pass” was pointed out to me from terrific blogger Piper Bayard.

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

Tuesday Tips #8: Kindle-ization at Thrillerfest

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Traditional publishing vs alternate--can't we just get along???

Welcome to my series with tips based on my DIY Kindle-ization Journey. For those who just found this blog, you can take a look back at the Installment #1 Helpful Links,  followed by #2 Why Do It? and #3 The Challenges.   Tuesday Tips #4 covered the various platform options and what’s required for each.  #5 Formatting For Kindle was followed by #6 Picture This! a how-to primer on including photos, tables and illustrations in your Ebook. If you’re like me and write nonfiction, chances are you have photos, illustrations or boxed/tabled information included in your format. And last week covered–well, the cover in #7 The Cover Story. Today’s installment covers the upload of your book to create your Kindle edition.

Before I get to that, just a few thoughts. I’m just back from Thrillerfest--probably the single most amazing writer conference event available today. More than 800 established, best-selling, and aspiring authors gathered in New York for nearly a week’s worth of seminars on craft, and panels on technique as well as industry information. Wherever I roamed–seminars, signing events, panel discussions, the bar, in the hallways–the E-lephant in the room was present.

The Ebook.

The topic came up everywhere. My pet colleagues know that if there are 3 dog trainers in a room, you’ll get 5 opinions on the good/bad/ideal on training and the same applies to opinions on Ebooks. The first thing Friday morning, I attended the only panel that addressed the issue directly: “What’s First, The Chicken or the Egg? Alternatives to Traditional Publishing”

David Hewson was the Panel Master, and started off the session by “banning” the term legacy publishers from the discussion. He also seemed to dislike the term social networking but that was harder to avoid–all this said with good humor, of course.

A.J. Hartley described the unheard of turn-around process of going from “idea” to “published” in less than a year with his book co-authored with David Hewson of “Macbeth, A Novel.” Alternative publishing makes that possible.

Daniel Slater oversees Author and Vendor Relations for Amazon Kindle. He said that Ebooks offered great opportunities for authors, and has “given power to the audience/reader.”

Lou Aronica also was on the panel–click on his name for more on his insights, as he’s a best selling author, former publisher of Avon and Berkley Books and now is president/publisher of The Fiction Studio. On the panel he said, “Virtually all the profits now exist on the digital side,” but that traditional publishers must keep a print presence, and that “they’re very confused.” Traditional publishing has built in constraints that dictate a different pricing model which can tie publisher’s hands in the market. He noted that readers will pay $13 or more for digital bestsellers–BUT that the next crop of bestsellers that come from somewhere else (outside the traditional model) will emerge with different pricing.

He also said, “There’s always been bad books. There’s more now. But in the digital space, that mess is not as visible. Customers figure out how to distinguish the good ones. The whole job has become more holistic than in the past. And authors must dedicate significant amount of time to marketing . . .” to be successful.

Steve Feldberg is Senior Director, Editorial Business Development, for and prior to that spent more than 25 years in network TV news. ITW has worked with Audible on The Chopin Manuscript and the Copper Bracelet among other projects. He said, “It used to be the question was can I get published? That’s gone away.” He noted that the marketplace doesn’t make a distinction on how it’s consumed–it’s ALL published.

Joel Fishman is a former Doubleday editor, literary agent and ghostwriter and recently founded an authors’ consortium that will publish his thriller PRIMACY this September. In answer to questions about judging quality of self-published books he said that people have always read what others recommend. Self publishing has opened up opportunities for authors, but also forces authors to do more themselves. He said that you can self publish almost as well as traditional, but it costs [if you want to do it right], noting that a professionally designed book cover easily runs $1000-2000.

So–are you ready to DIY? Traditional publishing takes longer and sales/returns are expected almost immediately–if that doesn’t happen, the book goes away. Ebooks publish very quickly and initially sell few with sales that grow over the lifetime of the book. In both cases, author marketing must happen or the book dies.

A book is a book is a book . . .


Amazon has made the process nearly dummy-proof. Here are the basic steps.

  • Input title, author(s), publisher, edition, rights–YOU can be the publisher or create your own name/publishing entity. If this is a revision of a backlist title, include that you’re publishing a 2nd edition.
  • Book description (back cover copy/reviews/etc.). This is the information that appears on your book page on Amazon, so get it right–think flap copy, back cover info, what sells books.
  • Choose territory distribution & royalty rate.
  • Assert your ownership/permission to pub content; if this is a backlist book, you’ll likely get a message requiring proof of rights reversion (PDF of the letter, etc).
  • Price the book—depends on book size, and the price dictates the royalty. Remember that Amazon will LOWER your book price if it finds another copy priced lower.
  • Click “publish”—visible on in 2-5 days
  • Can revise/update anything anytime (price, description, royalty) but takes 2-3 days to update
  • Contact KDP Forum for technical help

Next week we’ll tie everything together with marketing tips specific to Ebooks in the last DIY Kindle-ization installment.

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: 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!


Monday Mentions: About Pets & Heroes

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Is your dog a hero?

I get a slew of press releases each week about cat events, dog products, writing blogs, and outstanding websites. Check in each week for a recap the best, most fun, weird-and-wonderful and really anything that strikes my furry fancy.

Is your dog a hero? The AKC Humane Fund Awards for Canine Excellence (ACE) celebrates doggy heroes in several categories:  Companion, Law Enforcement, Search and Rescue, Therapy, and Service.  You can nominate your own furry pooch or one you know by June 1st to be considered for an ACE Award. The winners’ names will be engraved on the ACE plaque on permanent display at the AKC Library in New York City, and weach winner receives $1000, an engraved silver medallion, and an all-expenses-paid trip for the dog and owner to the AKC/Eukanuba National Championship in December 2011. Dogs with honorable mention status receive engraved bronze medallions.

Dog kissing soldier . . .

Patriot Paws I met writer Meg Reid at the recent OWFI writers conference, and I’m delighted she sent me a link to her Twisted Sisters blog (doncha love that title?!). Patriot Paws is a wonderful group dedicated to training service dogs for veterans. as in the above picture. Check it out!  

My colleague Susan McCullough writes the outstanding Northern Virginia Dog Blog and has a killer post today on Getting A Leg Up  –doggy leg lifting, that is.

Most of y’all know that I’m now the Puppies Guide for –and diligently posting new free articles on all-things-puppy (SQUEEE! Cute Alert!). But did you know about the other fan-furry-tastic parts of the “pet group” over at

Cat folks can’t go wrong with the terrific info over at with Cats Guide Franny Syufy. For the past year I’ve been her partner in cat-crime so there’s some kitty behavior articles from me. The the big-cat share of the site comes directly from the talented paws of Franny. After all, she’s been writing kitty content for the site for more than a decade.

My spanking-new puppies site content will often include links back to the great info for grown-up canines at from Dogs Guide Jenna Stregowski, RVT.  I’ll also link  back to care content found at the excellent  Veterinary Medicine Guide Janet Tobiassen Crosby, DVM

As a kid, I shared my life with several hamsters, mice, snakes, turtles and loved visiting my grandma’s farm to schmooze with horses, chickens, pigs and more. Today lots of folks enjoy the companionship of interesting pets. You’ll find some great info from Exotic Pets Guide Adrienne Kruzer, RVT.

Or maybe you have a companion bird–at one time I shared my life with a lil’ green chicken (aka Spectacle Amazon Parrot). In fact, the story of her rescue and rehap was the first article I ever sold to be published. I wish that I’d had the help then from Pet Birds Guide Alyson Burgess.

So do you have a hero dog? A hero cat? Horse, gerbil, parrot, snake? How about a hero HUMAN who helps where needed? Please share how people and pets have been heroic and touched your life!

Being a hero is no joke. But the ability to make you laugh is a talent not to be wagged at…so you won’t want to miss this fun video from my colleague, writer Janice Biniok. 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!

Thoughty Thursday: Un-Plugged!

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Myster E. Watching TV 019

The past two days I’ve been in purgatory–I won’t call it hell, because it’s the ABSENCE of something vital to my writing life. And I’ve learned (horrors!) that I’m an addict. . .

. . .of the Internet.

In the olden days (lawsie, sound like my Grandma used to!) words were typed and the smell of well-inked ribbon perfumed the room. Any piece of writer-icity fortunate enough to claim a home traveled via the U.S. Postal System–which meant a May 1st deadline required mail drop off at least a week in advance. Once Email emerged–and I’ll admit I arrived late at that party–writers not only saved on postage $, we gained something much more valuable. Extra time. Have a column due on May 1st? as long as you hit “send” before midnight on April 30, you’re golden.

And I’ve been burned several times by downloading emails infected with viruses or having a computer go belly up. So the past year or so all my email stays “online” in a virtual database I can access from any computer, anywhere. Even my email address book remains online, for ease of contact. Makes life simple.

Until the Internet goes ka-flooey. (That’s a technical writerly term, which loosely translated means !@#$%^&*O!@#$%^&!!)

Besides the inability to read or answer email and send articles, I couldn’t post blogs here, over at my RedRoom site, or update my spankin’ new site, spread the furry news via Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. Particularly annoying, I could get Email via my Blackberry but couldn’t do more than answer a word or two without thumbs being sabotagued by the auto-correct feature. Arg!

So are you (gasp!) addicted to the Internet? How do you handle outages? I ended up working with my co-author on another project that didn’t require online access. And I suppose tomorrow I’ll do more of the same since the forecasts call for more crappiocca weather.

I’ve always thought technology offered countless benefits. What about you? Do we depend on the “un-wired” world too much? What do you do when your working life goes ka-flooey? Play hookey?

I would love to play hookey sometime. But my boss is a real bitch.

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!

Woof Wednesdays: Ask Amy “What’s Up With Wags?”

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Does a short tail on the Clumber Spaniel cause doggy mis-communications? Hmnnn...

Yes, I know I know, the blog is LATE! You can thank Verizon for that. Since Tuesday about 3:30 pm, the Internet coverage went away and the “help desk” guestimate of a four-hour fixed stretched into a 16-hour outtage. You can be sure, my happy-wags were lacking. And as I type this, the Texas skies blackened and winds stirred up the roses into a frothy mess so not sure how long I’ll be online.

Welcome to all my new subscribers! (~~~virtual waves~~~) I know lots of y’all came to check out the pictures and comments from the OWFI conference, or the list of helpful Ebook links.   I’ll be adding more info on the Ebooks in the weeks ahead. But each week you’ll also find furry info about cats, dogs, puppies and more.

For instance, before I lost connectivity yesterday I managed to blog at the site. One of my Sweet Tweet friends asked me to mention safety issues of puppies in cars.    But I’d already prepared an Ask Amy (below) about canine wag-icity.


How does a curled tail affect the wag on a Basenji?

Dogs are social creatures that live together, and so they need a dog language in order to get along. How dogs communicate—what I like to call “dogma”—is based on a system of common signals. Tale wags are part of that language. Dog language not only allows dogs to communicate and understand each other. It also is a system used for conflict resolution.

What prompts your dogs to wage wagging conversations? Do they wag just part of the tail, or do their entire buttresses become wigglebums? What would you add to the Ask Amy video? Are there certain breeds or individual pets who wag (or not) in unique ways? What about cats and their tails? My Seren-kitty’s tail talk never stops (she talks from both ends). Hmnnn, that’s fodder for a future Ask Amy.

Guess I need to get future blogs up ahead of time before the powers-what-be (weather, God, Verizon…not necessarily in that order) zap my creativity.

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: Howls, Wags & Wins!

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He loves me for my mouse...

I’m just back from the Oklahoma Writers Federation, Inc annual conference, and had a ball! It will take me a few days to get caught up but I wanted to post pictures and give some shout-0uts about the great folks and speakers–including the furry ones.

Thanks to the officers and committee chairs and volunteers that made the conference possible. President Dan Case, conference chair (and new president!) Linda Apple, the contest team of Nita Beshear and Maria Veres, Gloria Teague the secretary, treasurer Barbara Shepherd and  and publicity director Jen Nipps.

There were three to four sessions scheduled each hour, and that made it difficult to decide which session to attend (and miss other great speakers). This year I was honored to be a speaker and we had a fun session on Friday with media training, and Saturday the Ebook DIY was well attended.

Media training session at the OWFI conference.

My apologies for the technical difficulties–the power point presentation with all the fun furry pictures pooped out on me, and I didn’t get to cover ALL the info that I had prepared. Starting tomorrow, I will begin a Tuesday Tips series based on the presentation that includes all the DIY tips, links to important information, and marketing for your Ebook. The book signing (below) featured several of the books I’ve “kindle-ized” and also brought back in POD.

Amy at book signing.

The best part of the conference for me is networking and hanging out with friends, and meeting new folks. I collected a boatload of business cards (and hope I can find ’em all as I unpack!). It’s great fun to finally put faces to names of “email friends” or Facebook connections–and I must say “sorry, my bad…” in advance cuz I’m awful with names and so avoid listing people as I know I’ll get names wrong. 

I always look forward to seeing my good friend Carol Shenold, and met a really neat author/poet Joanna Tweedy who explained all about Quiddity (check it out!).   Tina Haapala is the founder of the Excuse Editor, and a writing coach and marketing consultant. At breakfast before I left the con, I got to meet several more terrific writers. Natasha Hanova won several awards, reason enough to hate her, but she’s a thoroughly nice and talented writer. Judy Ridgley is another winning writer to watch–check out her blog, as is Marsha Lytle. Chesty, the dog, made a big impression but I don’t think he has a blog!

Chesty wants my squeaky mouse!

Chesty (above) is an Italian Mastiff and service dog partnered with writer Jackie B. Jones. He came to visit me during the book signing and was particularly interested in my Play & Squeak mouse toys. We even had a signing duet (he has a lovely baritone voice). Chesty also added his howls of approval at the Saturday night awards banquet whenever folks applauded a win–what fun!
The Embassy Suites Hotel, home of the OWFI con for many years, makes everyone feel welcome. The “happy hour” each evening is a hit, and a great opportunity to unwind, exchange cards, share notes about the sessions and celebrate successes. My friends from Sherman also attended, Lois and Ron and Frank.

Lois & Ron Richardson


Frank Steele

 I first met Liz and Steve Berry at Thrillerfest when he was the co-president and worked as a volunteer for Liz–she’s the executive director. So I was thrilled that Steve was this year’s keynote speaker–inspiring!–and Liz gave a great talk on marketing.

Steve Berry offers an unscheduled morning talk.

 Steve even generously gave an impromptu unscheduled Saturday morning talk on plotting and character (7:30 a.m., yikes!) that was packed. So yes, I did the fan-thing and ask for a picture. *s*

The amazing Liz and Steve Berry

Sorry, folks, I didn’t get any pictures of the Friday night “sparkles”  for the Famous Author banquet. That’s the evening that those who had the great fortune to publish a book the previous year are recognized. This year, William Bernhardt announced the names and I was pleased to have my American Pit Bull Terrier book recognized. On Saturday the contest presentation was a great surprise when the book won Best Nonfiction Book in the published category–and yes, I did get pictures of those sparkles.
Here are just a few of the folks I met, some I heard in sessions and others connected iver meals or buzz sessions during the weekend:  
Kathleen Anderston, literary agent
Pat Browning, and Jackie King, awesome session on “selling your book on kindle.”
Gretchen Craig, romance author
Verna Dreisback, literary agent
Scott Eagan, literary agent
Kate Epstein, literary agent
Mari Farthing, editor Metro Family Magazine
Andy Horton, screen writer
Kelly James-Enger, sessions on ghostwriting and contracts
Max McCoy, author, interview techniques and more
Rhonda Penders, editor The Wild Rose Press
Fred Pfister, Ozarks Mountaineer Magazine
Joanna Beth Tweedy, awesome poet and editor with Quiddity Literary Journal
Wendy Lyn Watson, author of cozy mysteries
Dale Whisman, author/playwright
Vivian Zabel, editor 4RV 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!

Furry Friday: PUPPIES GUIDE!

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I’m so excited to announce my news–I’m the new Puppies Guide for!  Yee-haw!

Most of y’all know that for the past year I’ve been the behavior contributor over at working with the outstanding Franny Syufy and am delighted to still be part of the “furry family” with puppies. I’ll also be working with Jenna Stregowski, RVT Dogs Guide–she has terrific canine content, and Janet Tobiassen Crosby, DVM the Veterinary Medicine Guide. Pretty awesome team!

Danny & Mercy by Gail Parker

Danny & Mercy prove fur-kids CAN get along! (copr. Gail Parker)

The site is dedicated to all-things-puppies. Over the past several weeks I’ve been writing puppy care articles for beginners, for savvy dog owners, and for folks who just enjoy cute puppy pictures. You’ll find vet care information, training and behavior tips, and even some fun stuff sure to make your virtual tails wag. *vbg*

I hope you’ll visit–and send me suggestions for more articles. If I’ve been a bit harried over the past month it’s because I wrote about 65 new articles (and BOY are my typin’ fingers tired!) for the site. And I learned more about HTML coding and SEO than I ever imagined!

The site is a work-in-progress, only one day old (it went “live” yesterday, so it’s a newborn *s*) so there’s lots of room for new topics. Don’t forget to check out the pages where YOU can share stories and pictures about your special puppies, too! You can subscribe to a nifty weekly newsletter, too. For all  my dog savvy colleagues, stay tuned cuz I have plans for some “guest writer” spots as well as book reviews down the road.

Today I’m at the Oklahoma Writers Conference  and last evening had dinner with Steve and Liz Berry, Bill Bernhardt, Linda Apple (awesome conference chair), my shepherd and co-writer Frank Steele, writer buds Carol and Lori Shenold  and networked with many inspiring writers. I’m sure there’ll be lots to share in the blog in the coming days and weeks.

I’m speaking about media training for authors and DIY Ebooks. And yes, next week the blog will feature a weekly series on Kindle–how to do it, where to market, and more–with some great helpful links and don’t-make-this-mistake-I-made tips.

Gotta get ready for the day–busy busy busy! I may not get the chance to reply right away to comments. But I’ll get back to you, never fear–I love hearing from everyone! Lots of fun and exciting “furry news” always seems to be happening around here.

And to celebrate the launch of, I will give away an autographed copy of PETiQuette: Solving Behavior Problems In Your Multipet Household by drawing the name from comments posted on any of this past week’s blog. *s* Don’t be shy–share what kinds of puppy (or kitty) info you’re most interested in, or writing tips–whatever floats your furry boat.

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: Evil vs Bliss

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I want to go back to that time of innocence, when we felt secure and didn’t sleep with an ear cocked or watchful eyes scanning for danger. When shoes were shoes and not potential weapons. When profiling was the artist’s way of rendering a painting. But we’ll never go back, whether revenge is satisfied or not. But we can go forward.

It’s raining buckets in N. Texas today, and started yesterday morning with horizontal winds that blew down power lines, tree limbs, and even church steeples. After the late night news, it’s almost as if the sky weeps for a world that feels the need to celebrate the death of one evil man who caused such anguish to so many. That’s an added horror for me. And I pray that never again will such an act give our nation the justification to seek and then celebrate a man’s death–however justified.

Persian kittens on chair

This coming weekend I’ll be at the OWFI Conference offering sessions on media training for authors, and a how-to course on Ebooks. April is the one-year anniversary of my journey into Kindle-ization with my backlist and a lot has happened since then! Watch the blog, cuz I want to share my successes and challenges–learn from my mistakes. I’ll share a whole series of blogs on Ebooks and Kindle-ization, with lots of great links for how to do it, and ways to market and promote your self-pub’d Ebooks.

One of last week’s posts ask readers, what’s your bliss? Several readers responded either in comments section or privately about wanting to become involved in an animal-related carreer, or writing. Those certainly brought me my bliss! So today’s Monday Mentions offer some resources as a jumping off spot, and also celebrates a few folks who not only found their bliss but have helped others do the same. Enjoy!

Diana L Guerrero (Ark Lady) offers animal career counseling–and has a terrific newsletter and blog that covers animal training, animal careers and animal behavior. She’s also a terrific lady!

Careers with Dogs: The Comprehensive Guide to Finding Your Dream Job  is a terrific guide by Kim Thornton, an award winning columnist for MSNBC and author of many pet care titles. Kim’s one of the best pet journalists out there, and is a past president of the Cat Writers’ Association.

Cat Writers’ Association is a professional organization of folks with a special interest in cats. Members are writers, authors, broadcasters, artists, photographers–you name it. CWA holds an annual writers conference open to the public and aspiring writers, which this year will be the weekend before Thanksgiving in White Plains, New York.

REAL MEN CARE–Promoting compassion by honoring four men who made a big difference in animal lives this past year–if’ you’re in the DFW area, please check it out!

The International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants offers Continuing Education courses on everything from dog aggression and cat handling to pet first aid courses and how giraffes (or other animals) learn.

“Catch the Wave” of outstanding training sessions at the 2011 Association of Pet Dog Trainers Educational Conference and Trade Show. Speakers include some of the top names in the dog training industry.

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: Roses, Armadillos & Publishing

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If THEY can get along...? (copr. Tonya Jensen)


I’ve been thinking a lot lately about being a chameleon writer. I’m a speaker at the OWFI Annual Writer’s Conference in a couple of weeks, and making notes to share about my Kindle-ization journey. Not just the way I did it (and YOU, boys and girls, can DIY too!), but why—and how I got from <—there to —>here. Those who follow this blog know I tend to just make crappiocca up share thoughty prose once a week. So hold onto your swivel chairs, it may be a thorny ride.

Each of us comes to writing in different ways. For some, the urge to write has always been there, comfortable and familiar as the lap-sitting cat. Other times, the muse plans a gleeful ambush, dashes from a hidden place to trip us up, smack us upside the head with happy tail wags, or leaps to hug our neck. And sometimes leaves us squishy presents to step on barefoot when we least expect it.

Feed your hungry muse wisely! (Copr.Tonya Jensen)

A muse doesn’t care if we scribble on napkins, type with a keyboard, twitter or fritter our litter-ary time with print or Ebooks. She wakes us at 3 a.m. and demands to be fed, she sinks dagger claws into our heart and soul.

She won’t relent until we give in to the urge. The urge to write. To create.

Some of y’all know that we have had as many as 700 rose bushes surrounding our home. Over the years, the roses have been attacked by grasshoppers, leaving nothing but Adams Family stems; bulldozed by armadillos so tender roots fried in Texas sun; and over-pruned, which killed or crippled the plant. We lost roses that had spectacular flowers and amazing pedigrees. Mostly we lost the hybrids, high maintenance specimens that were less able to tolerate the insults, and demanded more attention and care to produce blooms.

But the grasshopper-eaten roses with viable roots produced fresh, healthier growth. Even ‘dillo-dozed roses survived—with scars, to be sure, but still produced stellar blooms. Stay with me, folks, there’s a sharp point to be made . . .

As an over-zealous pruner, I’ve learned to restrain my instincts and appreciate the thorny, hardened portions of established bushes. This was a hard lesson to learn. See, if they’re cut out completely, there’s no scaffolding to support fresh growth, and the blooms fall in the dirt and are trampled–and the whole bush becomes mulch.

After more than two decades of writing, I’m a prickly, hardened bitch-of-a-pet writer. I do not flinch at the “B” word, it’s a badge of honor in my world. I know when to show my teeth, and choose my battles wisely. So I have less patience for high-maintenance writers or circle-the-wagons “that’s the way we’ve always done it!” attitudes than in my youth. WARNING: Those grasshoppers are voracious and if your roots ain’t healthy, you’re toast.

Don’t let that fact scare you. I can say that now–you can’t seen the head-shaped dent in my office wall from having the pee scared outta me mild concern. Writing is writing, and readers are readers. Publishing has a healthy root system, and will survive armadillos, grasshoppers–and Ebooks. It just needs to cut back on the fertilizer and prune judiciously.

Meanwhile, writers—and readers—support each other. Love a book or a writer—say so far and wide! Know a writer struggling with the effort of chameleon-icity? Shine a little color in that corner. That’s what sustains us through the dry spells, the never-ending deadlines, and rejections that nibble us raw. Mentoring each other keeps us sane–that’s the thorny protection that allows us to create our visions and bloom in our proper season.

Now then, listen–shhhhhh! Listen! Can you hear that?–put your hand over your heart, and you can almost feel the rumble!? No, it’s not the HP printer whirring…well, maybe it is. But listen closer—and you’ll hear symphony of blissful purrs–the sound of confident, tenacious, and oh-so-proud garden full of Muses.

Or maybe that’s tummies growling…go feed your muse!

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!