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Tuesday Trumpet! Music, Cat-astrophe & Thrilling News!

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First off, I’ve added audio files to the KURVES, THE MUSICAL page (above) so folks can finally hear some of the songs.


Seren-kitty had her vet visit yesterday. She’s not a youngster any more and I’ve  been worried about her health since she’s drinking/urinating more. I’ll have a full recap on Friday but wanted to thank everyone for the good wishes. It is NOT diabetes (whew!). It may be early kidney issues (her tests are ‘borderline’ and not yet in failure). We’re expecting Texas A & M results tomorrow or Thursday to let us know about thyroid function. Paws crossed that’s negative…


Some of y’all know that I’ve long aspired to write thrillers. Last Thursday, just before I headed out for the KWA Scene Conference, I heard from my editor at Who Dares Wins Publishing that they will publish my thriller LOST AND FOUND probably this fall (date tba). SNOOPY-DANCE-O-JOY!

Animal behaviorist September Day has 24 hours to find her autistic nephew and his service dog before he–and hundreds of other children–become victims of a deadly experimental autism treatment. And yes, there is “dog voice” as well as a highly-trained kitty, along with assorted quirky two-legged characters in the book.

To say I’m thrilled is an understatement. But today I also learned that I’ve been accepted as an ITW Debut Author class of 2012/2013. When I got that email I bawled. With happiness, of course. But that really upset the Magical-Dawg. Any tears upset him. And yes, the hero dog in the fiction came about by channeling my inner dog/cat. *s*

Anyway, I had to let y’all know my news. It’s been an “on top of the world” to “worry-icity” to “floating-again” sort of week. Sometimes you reach for, grab, and actually catch the brass ring.

*humming* If I can do it, you can do it too…

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 pet book give-aways!

KURVES Pictures

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1.Maxine enters

Maxine enters and opens up MAXINE'S GYM.


"Mabel, It looks like you've got a sack of grain in your pants--I'm saying yes, your jogging suit makes your butt look big."


"Well heloooo, and what's YOUR sign?"


"Tell them a story, stall for time, blow some smoke!"


"Don't cry, you make my eyes sing, sweetheart."


Maxine tries to sneak a call for help.


Boots sings, "My flame for chicks burns like a zippo, I like 'em thin. I like 'em hippo..."


"Yes, you're the chick for me!"


Maxine sings, "Curves, when the road seems straightest there'll be curves, when the path seems safest there'll be curves..."


Celia arrives and Boots breaks the key in the lock.


Celia sings, "How'd this work-aholic get her everything?"


Ronnie and Jane get the drop on Boots.


While Maxine and Mabel trap Fingers.


"My sister, in the most beautiful dress in the world."


"Oh this ring? It's nothing, just a memory from a long time ago."


"He's a man?! I thought it was two guys and five babes..."


"All you do is complain. None of you know how truly lucky you are."


"It's time to stop your bellyaching."


Mabel sings, "When life's a bitch sweetheart, and you've got the itch sweetheart...just remember me!"



Max sings, "...a penny may be asking too much."


"And I've actually walked into the ladies room with you, Max, talk about a man of mystery."


"To say I'm sorry isn't enough, is it?"


"Thirty years is a long time, Max, I can't just pick up where we left off."


"I disappeared all those years ago to protect you."


"Very nice to meet you, Willy. I'm Mabel. And I'd love to see your lunchbox."


"What is wrong with you people!"

39.Celia, Ronnie

"Stop it! What does the reason matter. Do you still love him?"

41.Mabel, Fingers

"I don't say stuff all el-o-quent-ish the way educated people do, but I'll do my bestest."


"Bogy said it best when he said, "Here's lookin' at you." Nothin' I say comes out just right, and that's why I am blue..."


"Go away, let me be, go away, set me free, I don't need you, can't you see?"


Troy enters through the back door. "Ronnie! Mother called, she was getting worried."

44.Ronnie, Troy

Troy says, "I was worried, too."

45.Ronnie, Troy,Max,Boots

"The back door's jammed, I nearly broke my...whatsis trying to get it open."


Troy says, "The feds just located a boatload of missing cash...traced to some old time mafia hit man."


Troy sings, "Because you fit, you're part of my picture, we both fit, we're inside the frame..."

49.Ronnie, Troy

"That mafia hit man, his name was Joey...something."


"The guy died in prison 15 years ago."


All is forgiven...Celia has "outgrown" her sparkles." The Company sings a reprise of CURVES.


"It fits!"


Learn more HERE

Monday Mentions: The New Baby & Suck It Up, Sweetheart!

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Rialto Max & Celia

Frank Steele and Amy Shojai prior to the closing night performance of KURVES premier run.

A new “baby” was born this past weekend. That’s me with my writing partner Frank Steele outside the theater, just before curtain time on KURVES, THE MUSICAL. I’ll have more pictures and even video very soon to share, but for now, wanted to offer a brief recap of one of the most awesome experiences of my professional life.

Many of you who read this blog are writers–published or someday-published–and I’m hear to tell you that DREAMS DO COME TRUE! But first, you have to dare to dream. And then you gotz-ta reach out for that brass ring. When you fall off the merry-go-round, it’s tempting to lay there in the dust and watch all the pretty horsies keep racing round and round, just out of reach.

Nobody becomes successful without eating a few dirt sandwiches along the way. You don’t have to like the taste, but you do need to get used to it, and remind yourself where that dirt belongs–in the litter box (or litter-ary toilet!). So grit your teeth, swallow and it’ll all come out in the end where it belongs, but only if you GET UP and keep reaching for those shiny objects. You can’t catch anything unless you open your hand.

Rialto view from stage

View from the stage--waiting for the house to open.

My best advice? Try. Ask. Risk. Surround yourself with those who share–or at least support–your dream. Not yes-bots, but reality-peeps with gentle sage advice willing to give you a butt-kick when needed along with that shoulder to cry on, and support your toddler steps.

What’s the worst that could happen–you fail. So what? Here’s a lesson learned from dog and cat behavior–the only way pets learn on their own is to make mistakes, so failure is value-added. Each setback stings but also adds wisdom that comes with a callous on your nether regions for future protection. Thing is, dogs and cats learn REAL FAST compared to humans. People are just wired to be stupid sometimes, and it takes head-banging angst before I learn there’s an open doorway just waiting for me to walk through.

I have a confession to make. For years, I wanted to write a play and compose music but never got around to it. I was like all those wannabe writers (not YOU of course!) who like to say, “I’ve always wanted to write a novel…” and have every excuse in the book to postpone the dream.

Ya know what it took to get me to actually get off the “wannabe” pot? An insult from someone that really didn’t matter in the scheme of things. Yet I let those hurtful comments undermine my confidence and drive me away from something I desperately loved. To fill that hole in my heart my good friend Frank and I decided to create our own show, and KURVES (and the wonderful cast and crew!) put those careless comments right where they belonged–the litter box.

Rialto, KURVES set

The Kurves set awaits . . .

The older I get, the more I realize that life’s too short to let others rule your day or take the shine out of the sparkles. We give others the power to take away our joy sometimes–it’s easy to do but I’m getting better about recognizing that in myself. And, as one of the songs in KURVES says, instead of giving in to the urge, SUCK IT UP, SWEETHEART!

Do you have someone or something–comments, an event, a disappointment–that colors your future expectations? Does it hold you back, or spur you to by-damn prove ’em wrong? How do you manage the nay-sayers in your life? They say that success is the best revenge, so is it true?

I don’t know where KURVES will take us but this toddler seems to have strapped on roller blades and it may be we’re in for an exciting ride. So stay tuned! Oh, and you can scroll down a bit for the usual Monday Mentions mash-up-day of all the neato-torpedo links and videos, pet schtuff and bling and writer-icity crappiocca collected over the past week.


Opening night cake courtesy of the Kurves cast!


In honor of the "new baby" the playwrights were presented with flowers, candy cigars and monogrammed "onesies." Jury is still out whether it's a boy...or a girl.


Opening night flowers from the cast.

kurves flowers

Closing night flowers from my husband--awwwww!


Time Waster or Time Investment? Social Media for Writers from Laurie Huston

Ebook Pricing for Writers from Dean Wesley Smith, he’s actually done some research, an interesting read

Kindle Nation Survey on reader habits, interesting info

PayPay vs Naughty Pink Bits oh no you DIDN’T?! from Susan Brassfield Cogan’s Blog

Audio Books Anyone? Some how-to info

French Seize Digital Rights?! Writer Beware awesome blog!

Twitter Tips for Tweeps from my writing buddy Nita Beshear

2012 International Digital Awards contest sponsored by the Oklahoma Romance Writers of America.

DK Seeks Online Marketing Manager

Christina Katz: Author of The Writer’s Workout from Jenn Nips blog

Firearms For Writers a conference speaker April 14 in Ohio from an RWA chapter, looks good!


10 Ways You Know Your Cat Rules You

AKC Names Most Popular Dog Breeds  is yours here?

Learn the Benefits of Play from Kitty from awesome blogger Angie Bailey

Owners Concerns Re: Euthanasia & Care

Birthday Surprise: Wife gets namesake pet-adoption center

Tough Job…NOT! Perfect for writers–get paid to stay home with the dog!

Trendy Pet Names from VetStreet as well as Least Trendy Pet Names

Why Cats Run the Internet and sell sell sell!

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: Writing, Acting & Pets oh my!


"Maxine" the owner of the gym in Kurves, Texas.

Monday Mentions is the mash-up-day of all the 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.

This past weekend I finished the orchestration for the overture and exit music for KURVES, THE MUSICAL. Tonight we have a photographer coming for cast pictures during the show. That photo above is during a rehearsal–and that’s my co-author–to give you an idea of the flavor of the show. *s* If you’re in the N. Texas region I hope you’ll join us for this fun time. Rehearsals are a blast, we have a wonderful cast and the venue is outstanding. A reviewer will see the show this week, and we’ll have our premier March 1, 2, 3.


Just Breathe! stress relief tips from awesome author and blogger Joy Held

Publishers Weekly Best Books of 2011  so do you agree?

The Writing for Children Competition seeks submissions for all ages of young people, from picture books to young adult (YA) stories. The Writers’ Union of Canada is pleased to launch its 16th annual Writing for Children Competition, which invites writers to submit a piece for children up to 1,500 words in the English language that has not previously been published in any format. A $1,500 prize will be awarded to an unpublished Canadian writer, and the entries of the winner and finalists will be submitted for consideration to three publishers of children’s books. The deadline for entries is April 24, 2012.

Pinterest for Authors, good tips from Carla Stewart

Writers–You’ve Been Replaced by a Bot this gives me chills and it’s not sci-fi any longer.

R.L. Stine Posts Horror Story on Twitter  Talk about “short short stories…” is this the wave of the future?

AUTHOR BEWARE discusses the pros and cons (lots of cons!) of  BookTango, an ebook aggregator for self-published authors has been released by  Author Solutions (owner of the iUniverse, Xlibris, AuthorHouse, and Trafford brands, and the power behind the outsourced self-publishing divisions of Harlequin and Thomas Nelson, among others).

Kirkus Launches Editing Service for Self-Pub’d Authors

SAG + AFTRA = ???  Information on the merger of Screen Actors Guild & American Federation of Television and Radio Artists


Dog Flags for helping signal your dog’s attitude in advance–“I’m Shy” or “I’m Friendly” for the humans who can’t read doggy communication. Neat idea!

Help for Feral Cats from Examiner writer Stacy Ritz

Westminster Steps In It  Those who watched the dog show will be interested in this discussion by savvy dog-centric folks (be sure to read the comments, too, this is a keeper!). Presents Cara Shannon – Dallas/Addison 2012. This two day workshop shows professional dog trainers how to set up ongoing admission classes for reactive, aggressive, and shy dogs. Cara’s methods are all science-based and positive and are focused on not only changing behavior in the dogs but also on changing the emotional response of the dog.

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: Angry Cupid, Writer-icity & Pet Schtuff


Angry cupid says "Suck it up, sweetheart!"

Tonight we begin our third week of rehearsals for KURVES, THE MUSICAL which will premier at the renovated Rialto Theater in Denison, Texas on March 1, 2, and 3. Woot! So besides the regular writing to-do list, I’ve added learning lines, lyrics, and completing the orchestration for this week. If you’re in the neighborhood I hope you’ll check us out, we’re having a ball (and hope all the actors can keep straight faces, cuz there’s some seriously funny SCHTUFF in this show)!

Monday Mentions is the mash-up-day of all the neato-torpedo links and videos, pet schtuff and bling and writer-icity crappiocca collected over the past week. And I’ve got a BOATLOAD of links today, so take your time, bookmark the entry for later if you like, and share with your friends. I’ll catch you later–after the orchestration-line-learning-theater-icity!


Highlights for Children Publishing Job Opening and also for Art Director

Writerly Self Doubt SPEAR THE MONSTER from Alison Brennan

JA Konrath’s ‘REALITY CHECK’ on his Indy Pub success, a MUST READ for modern writers!

Bubble-Cow Editing Offers Query Letter Template

Super E-Reads changes name to Super E-Books and the new Twitter handle is @Super_EBooks and here’s the Facebook Page. Just goes to show you that you GOTTA check those pesky Trademarks. All the other links stay the same, and they’ve added a new feature for Super E-Books authors called “Friday Freebies” as a showcase for your free Super E-Books.

Do you write romance–or want to? Check out these online classes from Savvy Authors, Some Like It Hot: – Writing the Erotic Romance – Jan 30 – Feb 26 and The Sensual Novella– Feb 20 – Mar 18

Thoughty Book Review of Stephen Kings “On Writing” from Gene Lempp’s blog.

B&N May Spin Off Nook Business

Clean Reading? Yes, a book has been ‘published’ on a shower curtain.

Footprint Give-Aways from Doug Lyle’s awesome forensics blog, how a footprint might identify a killer

Man-Speak Defined from the seriously wise-ass (and fun!) Jenny Hansen. WARNING: Set your beverage aside before viewing the “brain” video. Oh, and here’s Man-Speak Part Two

10 Mis-Pronounced Words that make you sound like an idiot. NOTE: This is a companion piece to the dog-centric list of misspelled breed names, below.

A side note–this might explain a bit about (ahem) my own sense of humor to share the following from my musician/artist father. No, he didn’t create them but this is the type of “family game” we used to share around the dinner table, each trying to top the previous offering. So without further adieu:


His dizzy aunt ———————————————– Verti Gogh
The brother who ate prunes——————————- Gotta Gogh
The brother who worked at a convenience store —— Stop N Gogh
The grandfather from Yugoslavia —————————– U Gogh
His magician uncle ——————————– Where-diddy Gogh
His Mexican cousin —————————————- A Mee Gogh
The Mexican cousin’s American half-brother ———— Gring Gogh
The nephew who drove a stage coach ————— Wells-far Gogh
The constipated uncle ————————————- Can’t Gogh
The ballroom dancing aunt ——————————– Tang Gogh
The bird lover uncle ————————————– Flamin Gogh
An aunt who taught positive thinking —————— Way-to-Gogh
The little bouncy nephew ———————————– Poe Gogh
A sister who loved disco ————————————– Go Gogh
And his niece who travels the country in an RV — Winnie Bay Gogh

3--black cat in garden--2-7-08

Managing Ferals Is A GOOD Thing!


Loews Hotel Universal Florida & Feral Cats had a managed feral cat colony but has apparently decided to get rid of the cats–some have been trapped and taken to a local shelter to be killed. Click the link to learn more and sign a petition to urge the company to re-think this step.

Tips for Housing Feral Cats (positive info this time!) from the awesome Dr Deb Eldredge

CFA Foundation & Feline Historical Museum


Professional Animal Behavior Associates (Canada) Offers Awesome “A SCIENTIFIC PRESENTATION AND STUDY OF WORKING DOGS 3-day seminar.  These are some of the best of the best in dog behavior and training, if you have interest and get the chance, go! (I’ve a conflict with a writer conference booooooo!)

Lovely article about DOGS IN CHURCH

Dog’s Microchip Returns Lost Child

dog licking nose

"Branding" Breeds? Tasteeeeeeeeeeee!

Everyone wants their pet to be “special” but has branding gone to the dogs? These are ‘real’ breeds of dog, as collected from license applications and want forms at a USA dog shelter:

  • Westminster Terrier
  • Rhode Island Ridgeback
  • Palmeranian
  • Copper Spaniel
  • Cocker Spaniard
  • Black Labrador (from a license app, dog’s color was yellow)
  • Shit Sue
  • Dorky Terrier
  • Lopso Apso
  • El Paso (attempt at Lhasa Apso)
  • Highland Heeler
  • Alaskan Malibu
  • Belgian Manawa
  • Belgium Malenoise
  • Basket Hound
  • Bagle
  • Welch Corgi
  • Wild Haired Terrier
  • Carrion Terrier
  • Wineamimer
  • Rockwelders
  • Rottenwiler
  • Great Pekingese (supposed to be Pyrenees)
  • Great Pyramid
  • Miniature Datsun
  • Irish Settler
  • Jack Daniels Terrier
  • German Police Man
  • Chesapeake A Retriever
  • Borderline Collie
  • Chevy King Charles (Cavalier)
  • Goverment Pinscher

Novartis Temporarily Suspends Production of Interceptor & Sentinel

Serena Dracis Blog has a spot-on entry on communicating with your dog for training

K9 Mobile Grooming has a great post on dog grooming basics (I think they’re in the UK or I’d be tempted to ring ’em up for a home visit!)


Colin Falconer explains all about FRIGGATRISKAIDEKAPHOBIA HINT: it happened last Friday.

Climbing Baby Mountain from Jenny Hansen’s Risky Baby Business blog–great info for expectant (or wannabe) parents.

#AskAmy Sweet Tweets

Folks who “follow” me on Twitter @amyshojai and @About_Puppies are the most awesome Sweet Tweets around–they love #cats and #dogs and #pets, many #amwriting.  Just follow and include the #AskAmy in your tweets if’n you’re interested in pithy links to articles, books, blogs, experts, fictioning and sparkle-icity!

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



Local playwrights, co-authors Amy Shojai and Frank Steele, have cast KURVES, THE MUSICAL with eight popular local performers. The original show features twelve catchy original songs with full orchestration, an ensemble cast, and laugh out loud dialogue. KURVES, THE MUSICAL will be performed for three nights only, March 1, 2, 3,  2012 at newly renovated Rialto Theater in Denison, Texas.

Frank Steele directs the show. He has appeared in many TV and radio commercials, movies and TV shows including DALLAS. He taught drama for twenty-seven years and has appeared in over fifty plays as an actor or professional musician. “I’ve co-written several benefit shows,” says Steele, “including the sold-out Star-Struck Night musical benefit with Amy Shojai, produced for Theatricks some years ago.”

Shojai directs the music. She is best known as a local author with 23 published pet books. “But I have a degree in music and love composing and performing,” she says. “Frank Steele and I have acted and written together, so we decided to combine forces to write fun and poignant characters that we’d like to perform.” She has acted in several dozen plays in six states, and made countless TV and radio appearances both locally and nationally, including Animal Planet appearances as an expert. KURVES is her third co-written show.

Eight quirky characters, misfits all, become trapped inside MAXINE’S, a run-down woman’s gym located in Kurves, Texas. The cast remains onstage the entire show. Despite failed attempts to find happiness and true love, they finally succeed—but in unexpected ways.


L to R, back row: Joe Maglio, Cheri Anderson, Craig Sturm, Johnny Flowers, Frank Steele. Middle L-R: Amy Shojai, Theresa Littlefield. Front: Leah Martin


Steele plays the cross-dressing Maxine/Max who owns the women’s gym and sings the title song “Curves.”

Shojai plays Celia, the sequin-wearing visitor to Maxine’s who sings “Dreams For Sale.”

Cheri Anderson is cast as the many-times-married Mabel, director of a soup kitchen, and sings the rousing gospel number “Suck It Up, Sweetheart.” She has performed in many local theater productions, including all three Smoke On The Mountain shows and the recent Ring Of Fire music review. She has performed gospel, bluegrass, country and classic rock-n-roll and performs with a number of country musicians in the area. She works as a Paralegal at Abernathy, Roeder, Boyd & Joplin P.C. in McKinney.

Theresa Littlefield is cast as mousy poetry teacher Jane who transforms from plain-to-sparkling in the duet “Poetry & Jazz.” Theresa has been in numerous college, church, and community productions.  She is an active member of the First United Methodist Church choir and handbell choir. She often plays saxophone for high school plays and church programs. She is a counselor at Fairview Elementary in Sherman.

Leah Martin is cast as newlywed Ronnie, and sings about her insecurities in the plaintive song, “The Picture.” Leah has logged countless hours working backstage with Sherman Community Players and has performed leading roles in The Mousetrap and The Miracle Worker. She most recently appeared in The Big Friendly Giant, and has appeared in the City of Sherman “Can the Trash” commercial. She works as a Nanny for Dr. Clint Hayes and his wife Sunni’s children.

Johnny Flowers is the inept but lovable movie-quoting robber Fingers who laments his lack of finesse in the song, “Silver Screen Blues.” Johnny has been active in community theater for the past 30 years. Most recently he delighted audiences in productions of The Odd Couple, Arsenic & Old Lace, and Smoke On the Mountain III. Johnny is also involved in the Music Ministry at Parkside Baptist Church in Denison. He is a graduate of Grayson County College and works in the produce department for the Sherman Kroger’s Store.

Joe Maglio plays ladies’ man Boots and sings, “You’re The Chick For Me.” He was one of the original dancers on American Bandstand and will show off smooth moves in KURVES. He attended Lon Morris School of Drama and worked for eleven years as technical director at Finley Playhouse. He graduated from Southeastern School of Theatre in 1988, moved to Hollywood and was active with Group Repertory Theatre in North Hollywood. Joe is a member of the Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences, and this year serves on the nominating committee for the SAG awards. KURVES marks his return to performance after a 19-year retirement.

Craig Sturm plays Ronnie’s husband, Troy Chadwick Noonan IV, who literally holds the key to Maxine’s and ties up all loose ends in the song, “Life Happens.” Craig has seen over 80 Broadway musicals, and has performed in many musicals both in the orchestra pit as a percussionist, and on stage.  Craig brought the butler character to life in the Finley’s production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat in 2003. He is a gifted arranger and composer, often sharing original compositions at Trinity Lutheran Church where he serves as pastor.

Special thanks to Trinity Lutheran Church for rehearsal space. Mickie Martin serves as stage manager, and Garrett and Greg Guymon and The Rialto provides lights, sound and the performance venue. Show time is 8 pm and tickets are $10 adult and $5 (general seating) and can be purchased for the March 1, 2, 3, 2012 performances by calling the Rialto Box Office at 903-465-SHOW. Learn more about KURVES, THE MUSICAL here.

Thoughty Thursday: Thanksgiving & Rainbow Pets

Happy Thanksgiving! After a whirlwind trip last weekend to New York and back, I’m grateful to be home safe again. The Cat Writers’ Association conference has been good to me, and this year was no exception. While I’m thankful for the business opportunities and awards bestowed, those pale compared to the friendships developed through my work. I am honored to be in the company of these wonderful, dedicated professionals.

I’m thankful to be home with my family—furry and human—rather than on the bumpy road and bumpier plane. I’m thankful my human family, though miles away, remain close-nit and loving. And I’m thankful all remain healthy.

I’m thankful for veterinarians who make life better for the pets we adore. I’m thankful for researchers who work to find diagnoses, treatments, and cures for our ailments, both for pets and for people. I’m thankful for the animal welfare volunteers who do the work of the angels when others somehow let pets down.

I’m thankful that I have the best job in the world, sharing information about the cats and dogs that have become so important to our emotional and physical health. I’m thankful for publishers, editors, magazines, newspapers, TV and radio shows, websites, bloggers and email lists that share these important resources to benefit cats and dogs and the people who love them. And I’m thankful to writing organizations, teachers, agents and all those who promote the craft of good communication and help others pursue this rewarding craft.

I’m thankful that I found a dumped kitten fifteen years ago and brought her into my home and heart. I’m thankful that Seren-kitty still acts like a kitten and stays so healthy. I’m sure my veterinarian also is thankful Seren remains spry, since she is not a happy patient and the clinic staff likes to keep their fingers intact. I’m thankful Seren only rarely presents a hairball “gift” and that I’ve not found it barefooted at 3 a.m. for many months. I’m thankful she’s given up playing “gravity experiments” with my fine breakables, and has decided it’s okay to nap on my lap now and then. I’m also thankful that she’s decided the dog is a boob and great fun to torment, rather than spending all of her time sequestered upstairs.

I’m thankful for responsible breeders who ensure purebred dogs and pedigreed cats have a healthy paw-start in life. I’m thankful that Magic-dawg at age five has become a bit…just a bit…less driven. I’m thankful for water hoses, and tennis balls, stuffed teddy bears and Frisbees that wear Magic out without exhausting me at the same time. I’m thankful my roughneck dawg hasn’t had any injury or digestive “whoops” this year. I’m thankful Magic is smart, funny, a comedian, and a wonder to train—and doesn’t argue but has accepted that the cat is the boss of him.

I’m thankful that although he never grew up with pets, my husband loves Seren and Magic as much as I do. I’m even more thankful they adore him back (that could get awkward!). I’m thankful for my church family—pet lovers or not—who also support my furry notions. I’m particularly thankful to the Cuchara Gang (you know who you are) who lift me up with friendship and love.

I’m thankful for music that has always been so much a part of my life. I’m thankful for theater that feeds my soul. And I’m thankful my co-author helps me combine music, writing, theater  and pets into exciting new possibilities–see the sample in video, below. Note that all the CUTE DOG AND CAT PICTURES are in the video. *s*

Finally, I’m thankful to you—yes, those who read this blog or any of the other writer-icity hangouts I frequent. Without you, I would not have a career, and my life’s passion would remain unfulfilled. Without you, your pets wouldn’t have the wonderful love and care you provide. Without you, there wouldn’t be any reason for this heartfelt—THANK YOU.


Black and white, brindle or tabby,
Merle or brown, sable, Abby,
Persian, Collie, whole or fixed,
Rainbow pets a perfect mix.

I was young, I was old.
I was rescued, I was sold.
I was sick, and you were kind.
By some mystic Master’s design
Can’t you see, meant to be
You will always be mine.

Whoops or planned, shown or banned,
Shelter, rescue, foster, pound,
Bottle babies, purebred ladies,
Perfect, damaged, all are found.

You were clueless, so were we.
Lessons learned don’t come for free.
Can’t go back, regrets define.
By some mystic Master’s design
Shed no tear, have no fear,
Pay it forward in kind.

Blond or blue, calico, curly,
Pointed, smooth, wirehair, surly,
Sweetheart, bold, or shy thereof,
Rainbow pets—we’re yours to love.

Love me now, love me then,
Love me when we meet again
At the bridge, the rainbow shines
By some mystic Master’s design
In its light, Ever bright,
You will always be mine.

Thoughty Thursday: Do-Over…Would You?

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Magic howls when music plays--everyone's a critic!

It’s the back-to-school time of year, and that conjures up a mixed bag of memories. I loved being a student–yeah, I was a school nerd, and classes were pretty easy for me maybe cuz I took the “artsy” classes like writing, singing, and suchlike. I had mixed feelings about my parents being teachers, though. And lots of angst when for a short time I actually became a high school teacher. On Facebook my relationship with school would be “it’s complicated.”

Part of that is disappointment, I think. After study of music and acting I had every intention to take Broadway by storm. Ha! Then life happened. I met someone special, we fell in love, got married, and my “dream life” was no longer practical. That empty spot inside begged to be filled up with some kind of creativity. So I “made do” with writing. *snort*

Seren "Editing"

My in-house editor, Seren, never holds back her opinion.

Yep, I’m an accidental writer who actually made a career out of making do. I wonder how many of us end up with accidental careers?

The dreams we have early in life evolve as we grow and have obstacles and hard choices thrown in the path. Have you ever regretted a choice you made? Would you go back in time for a “do-over” if you had the chance? Are you satisfied with your life today? All those choices along the way–the doors opened or slammed shut, the “mistakes” that lead to other opportunities–for good or ill, they get us to this spot–HERE, NOW, where we are at this moment. A different choice 10 years ago, or even last week surely could lead to a different reality but who’s to say it would be better?

Today I head back over to the Denison High School–where I taught for that brief wonderful-awful-glorious-crazy period of time–for a rehearsal. I’ve been invited to perform in a fund-raiser “talent show” for the theater department this Saturday night. So what better choice than an original song from the new musical dramedy KURVES written with my co-author Frank Steele. Oh, it’s cast and will be presented in full in early February, stay tuned…

Wait a minute, what happened there? Yes, after all these years that drama-dream resurrected with a detour into accidental script/music writing. That’s some scary crappiocca, I gotta say! And guess what? The 8 characters angst over missed opportunities and whether to risk what they have for a do-over new chance at happiness.

Sort of gotz me a theme going, ya think?

A couple of decades ago I could have turned down that marriage proposal, headed to Noo Yawk and who knows what would have happened? I do know what would NOT have happened: 23 books, pet writing and behavior consults, teaching music, Seren-Kitty and Magical-Dawg, moving to Texas, meeting y’all–none of that would have happened.

So what about you? What do-over would you wish for? If you had a chance for a “do-over” would you take it?

I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? 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, follow me on Twitter, 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: Ask Amy, Countertop Cruisers & Choosing Battles

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where sleeping is not allowed

Forbidden territory . . .

Cats become pests with their determination to stay above it all. They cruise kitchen countertops, lounge atop doors and leap to refrigerator tops to ambush treats. The urge to be the top cat seems a universal cat vice. By understanding why cats scale the heights, cat owners can provide legal outlets that keep both their cats happy and out of the butter dish. Here’s the straight kitty-truth on the latest Paw Nation article.

The Ask Amy video, below, has LOTS of bling–and more info about cats and countertops. What else have I missed? Any great tips y’all can share with readers? What has worked with you and what hasn’t? And…have any of y’all “given up” the battle like one reader, and simply wipe down all counters and tables before you prepare food and eat?

12-26 seren & red on tree 2

Too much to do? Take a nap!

Choosing battles strikes close to home these days for me. Life pulls in so many directions that the clock ticks away the hours before half of my to-do list gets finished. Or even started. The furry writing projects howl out to me–, Paw Nation, PETiQuette newspaper column and Pet Peeves Newsletter (I really need to get that sent this weekend!) and now Huffington Post; social networking stuff like this blog, Twitter and Facebook; then there’s the KXII TV spots, Pet Peeves radio and the Ask Amy videos–I’m getting lots of questions and topic requests (FUN!); and my performance stuff–cello, piano, singing–is brain candy for my emotional health.

The thriller fiction WIP looks like a lost, neglected puppy that wags hopefully from the bottom of the stack. *whimper*

cat on railing

Balancing to-do stuff can be a challenge.

Don’t get me started on the overgrown roses outside, cobwebs and dust bunnies in the corners of my house, and stack-‘o-filing in the office. That’s the one good thing about aging eyes–everything takes on a soft focus. I toss dog treats under the bed now and then and send Magical-Dawg squirming under to “pseudo-dust” the hard to reach places, and Seren hits the high spots.

Which brings me back to countertop cruising kitties. See, there ARE advantages to choosing your battles! How do you manage your to-do list? Please reassure me I’m not an awful purr-son for letting some things slide! With the long weekend, my get-er-done garden and home-care stuff moves to the front of the list. Right after I post this blog. Oh, and write my newspaper column. And … oh, it’s hopeless!

What are your Memorial Day plans?

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!

Thoughtful Thursday: What Do You Want To Be?

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Love the sparkles at the CWA book signing!

I didn’t start out to be a writer, so how the @#$%^&*! did I end up here?  I’m currently taking an Email course on branding and social media from Kristen Lamb (read her blog!)  and she’s asking lots of “thoughty” questions:

What do you (want to) write? What are your interests, besides the writing topics–because we are so much more than (fill-in-the-blank). Who do people “see” when they look at you? Is that the BRAND you desire to create? It must be the real you–pretend won’t cut it, people see through the phony-isity of such things.

Okay, she didn’t use those words, but you get my drift. I had an acting coach tell me the same thing, and I wrote about it in another blog, that you are enough. Bring YOU to the table–that’s enough.

That’s scary! Dang. And it leads me to another question–what did YOU want to be when you grew up? Kids seem to know and show even in the games they play what path they’ll take through life. Me? I wanted to be an actor because they were glamorous, people liked them, and they never laughed too loud or were at a loss for words.

We put on plays in the basement, directed marathon “let’s pretend” soap operas. The recurring kid, horses, dogs, and cat characters and stories were so real, they had us in tears–and made my folks roll their eyes.  I never played with dolls, much to the dismay of my grandmother. Nope, it was stuffed animals and best-bud pretend pets who could “really talk!” Mom always said, “When Amy grows up she won’t have babies, she’ll have puppydogs and kittycats.”

Mom knew.

Early in my writing career, I was constantly questioned why I didn’t write about more important topics, like starving children or world peace? And was cautioned, “You’ll never make a living writing about just pets!” Thpbpbpbpbpbpbpb! (insert raspberry sound effects!)

I write about pets because that’s me. It’s what and who I am, and I am enough. No, it’s not ALL that I am, but it’s a big part. I’m not on Broadway–yet! But all my stage and tv experience serves the pet writing causes. And I have the bling ready for when the big moment comes.

Something unexpected happened along the path to becoming Amy. I’m no longer at a loss for words–and instead I have to work at NOT jumping into every conversation. The animals taught me that. I don’t need to bark, howl, wag my tail (no wise cracks!) or hiss all the time to get ahead. I’ve never found being a “whisperer” to be particularly effective.

I’ve learned to be a pet “listener.” If you listen with your eyes and your heart, animals tell you what they’re thinking and why they’re acting certain ways. Works with humans, too.

When I was a kid, I wanted to wear sparkles, tell stories with happy endings, and have bestest-bud animal friends who really talk. What did you want to be when you were a kid? Are you there yet?

There’s still time!

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!