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Monday Mentions: Rabbit Holes, Sandra Brown & Cats Rule

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Sometimes we ‘go down the rabbit hole’ without knowing it . . .

Happy Monday. This week has got to be an improvement over last week’s virus, Internet kerfluffle and AC outage. In my world it seems “crappiocca” comes in threes–so hopefully my crap quota has been filled and I’ve tunneled out of the rabbit hole. For now.

There was some terrific stuff, too. I met an awesome blogger (new to me) at Healing Rescue Dogs Blog and she interviewed me about LOST AND FOUND. Want to know more? October 1-7 (that starts today!) I’m discussing myths about writing thrillers as part of THE BIG THRILL ROUNDTABLE PANEL.

Want more? (gulp!) I’ll be over at DogRead as the guest author starting today (Oct. 1) through Oct. 15. This is a yahoogroups email list dedicated to discussion dog books–and the many of list members are savvy dog trainers, exhibitors and more, I can’t wait to talk “dawg” and writing! You can subscribe and lurk, post questions, come and go as you like–it’s free. Here’s the link to find out more.

I will be sending out the copies of the LOST AND FOUND book to the winners–as soon as I get my copies! Arggg! There must be something up with the mail these days, because several of my online orders recently have been delayed or gone astray. Doncha HATE when that happens? I even have the padded envelopes addressed and ready to mail. Thanks for your patience–me, I’m biting nails!

I promise to get some more ASK AMY videos made. Several folks have asked terrific questions either on my Facebook pages or in blog comments. It’s been too long…but yep, been a weee bit busy. 🙂 I’m saving the questions, though, so stay tuned.

Monday Mentions is the mash-up-day of all the neato-torpedo writer 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. Be sure to scroll all the way to the bottom for an awesome Thrillerfest interview with some legends–Sandra Brown, RL Stein and David Morrell!

WRITER-ICITY SCHTUFF

Poison Pen Press Launches YA Mystery Imprint, “Poisoned Pencil” with Ellen Larson, editor, now open to submissions!

PublishAmerica Lawsuit Dismissed

How To Host A Free EBook Day (Without Amazon)

Espresso Book Machine puts POD in your coffee shop. Really.

Before You Self Publish, Questions to Ask

Getting GoodReads Reviews on KoboBooks

A Million Books Sold, What Next? from the incredible CJ Lyons

Webinar on Selling Film & TV Scripts

Rudeness Compounded By Internet  ya don’t say?!

Fake Facebook ‘Likes’ Disappear first it was fake book reviews, now fake “likes” Gimme a break! Oh, and the FanPages may not be worthwhile anymore.

Nightmare Sperm Donation from the creepy files of DP Lyle’s awesome blog

PET SCHTUFF

DOG PEANUT BUTTER RECALLED!

Cats Rule the Internet & Here’s Proof!

FUNNY Lost Pet Signs that said, it’s NOT funny to lose a pet so get ’em microchipped and keep ’em safe!

Pets Share Environmental Risks interesting article with what researchers are looking at

Are Animals Conscious? well, yes…so how should they be treated? Fascinating discussion.

Of Feral Cats, Conservation & Birds…Again.

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. Stay up to date with the latest book give aways and appearances related to my  THRILLERS WITH BITE!

Monday Mentions: Blogs, Pet Food & Summer Colds

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Looking for a new friend

Pets make us feel better just by being there…

I’m sick today, urk. No voice. Stuffy head. Feel exhausted. So that’s my excuse for the brevity. I’ve had folks suggest a number of remedies–eat marshmallows to coat the throat and my personal favorite, sip “Hot Damn” (cinnamon flavored schnapps). Need to snuggle with my Seren-kitty and have the Magical-Dawg deliver some chicken soup (but he’ll want to share…). Colds suck anytime, but summer colds are particularly aggravating. Hope y’all stay healthy and I promise, I’ve sanitized the links and suchlike so germ-icity won’t infect you today on the blog.

Do your cats and dogs know when you’re under the weather? How do they act? Do tell.

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.

WRITER-ICITY SCHTUFF

New Writerly Production? book a year or more? Is acceleration of content a good thing?

Love Is Murder, check out Sandra Brown’s edited anthology of romantic suspense (pre-orders now available)

Blogging Tips for Writers–FOCUS FOCUS FOCUS!

More Blogging Tips–make it EASY to comment plus all about moderation

Author Facebook Pages, why have them?

New Anthology Opps from Margie Yee Webb the co-creator with Dahlynn McKowen for Not Your Mother’s Book . . . On Cats. And Ken McKowen and Kathy Baker are co-creators for Not Your Mother’s Book . . . On Dogs.

Meredith Bernstein Literary Agency has new website with value-added for writers. Meredith was my agent for many years and I can’t recommend her highly enough.

Hyperthymesia and Marilu Henner’s Brain from the awesome Writer’s Forensics Blog of Dr. Lyle

Authors On the Air, a new radio show might be worth a look, suggested by author CJ West

PET SCHTUFF

Cat Food Recalls and Dog Food Recalls expanding. Here’s further info from the FDA.

Small Vet Practices On Way Out? IBISWorld reports veterinarians appear to be gravitating toward working in larger multi-doctor practices. What will this mean for your furry wonder?

Pit Bull Saves Owner, Loses Leg awesome story about a hero dog pulling owner from train tracks

New Hyperthyroid Diet for Cats–miracle or disaster waiting to happen? A veterinarian weighs in.

Dogs Feel Your Pain, fascinating read from ScienceNOW thanks to great pet author Cheryl Smith

Bad Journalism How-To on Cat Declaw from Sally Bahner. Let’s be responsible, folks!

Is Innovative Vet Care Too Expensive? Great post by my colleague Jo Singer. I have to say, the only “hate mail” I ever got about a book took issue with my cutting-edge title and the expense involved. Hmnnn.

SAR Dog Organizations Receive $258,000 In Grants from the AKC Companion Animal Recovery Canine Support & Relief Fund, bow-WOW!

Hogzilla–Feral vs Domestic Pig Brains for those who are really into “this little piggy.” Hmnn, wonder what would happen if people brains took that turn (can you say “weird plot idea?”)

This how-to video is on my new must-do list, since Magical-Dawg loves getting dirty and we have white carpet.

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!

Monday Mentions: Stroke-icity, Convict Cats & Dining Dogs

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magic w red roses

Yep, that's Magic when he was a lil' guy. That rose has grown up, too, and still dwarfs him.

This week will be so busy that you may not see much of me–virtually or otherwise. I’ve received back my awesome editor’s revision notes on my thriller LOST AND FOUND and so have cleared my desk to concentrate on that. Never fear, I’ll have blogs for you this week prepared in advance.

Meanwhile for brain food, in the evenings I start rehearsals for the part of Golde in Fiddler On The Roof. For stress relief there’s playtime with the Magical-Dawg and Seren-Kitty…and spending time in the roses.

Did I mention that about 500 antique roses surround our house? It used to be 700+ but the drought, armadillos and grasshopper attrition left a dent. You cannot believe the aroma! Before the weather gets too hot, I plan to spend time with the laptop out on the patio. BRAINSTORM! That’s the perfect place to work on the fiction revisions. I feel better already. 🙂

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.

WRITING SCHTUFF

Stroke From The Inside Out Dr Jill Bolte Taylor, a brain researcher, experienced a stroke and describes the process. Amazing! For writers, this is a must-see video and will give incredible insight into characterization. Thanks to D.P. Lyle for the link.

How To Write A F…antastic Blog  use the “F”

Line In The Sand, must-read blog by Lisa Hall-Wilson for all fiction writers. Excellent post!

Competing With Amazon? Kill DMR! an interesting discussion by Charlie Stross (thanks to the awesome WriterBeware blog for the link)

Stephen King’s FB Promo

PET SCHTUFF

How Not To Get A Cat, a fun blog any cat lover (or writer) will enjoy!

Dog TV? you betcha, Fido! Thanks to Piper Bayard for the paws-up mention

The Farley Foundation helps owners who can’t afford pet health care

Cats In the Klink  a cats-in-prison program that helps inmates and cats, awesome! Thanks to my friend and awesome cat writer Toni Eames for point out this story.

Stacey Ritz new blog, worth checking out, all about pets and writing

Sergeant’s Introduces New Pheromone Behavior Products to help relieve cat and dog anxiety

Bobcat Fever Affects Pet Cats, Too but cytauxzoonosis not as deadly as once thought

Weird Cat Disease turns cats into robots? Scary-bad stuff! What if it jumped species into people…plot for a thriller.

New Studies In IMHA (immune-mediated hemolytic anemia)

Seeing Eye to Eye: Visionary Care for Service Dogs The 5th Annual ACVO/Merial National Service Dog Eye Exam Event offers free exams in May 2012. Learn more from Dr. Bill Miller, a veterinary ophthalmologist with the program, in this eye-opening Pet Peeves show.

And no, it’s not a fake, and not digitally manipulated. Here’s the outtakes:

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!

Monday Mentions: Reading Monkeys, Chocolate Diet & Musical Cure

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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.

I’m THIS CLOSE to releasing the next book in the COMPETABILITY series, this one on solving cat-to-cat problems. Also, I’ve written a whole series of pet food articles as we;; as first aid tips for the puppies.about.com site and will share the latest links in the Woof Wednesday and Feline Friday blogs so please bookmark and come back. The regular busy-ness will quadruple shortly because I’m due to receive edits on my LOST AND FOUND thriller by tomorrow, yay! Therefore, you may not see me around for a few days as I work hard to regain consciousness and then work through the suggested changes. Hey, that’s a regular part of the book process, don’t let anyone tell you any different.

WRITER-ICITY SCHTUFF

Research on Reading & Writing Trends

The Chocolate Diet why is this under writer-icity? because it’s a well-known fact that chocolate is BRAIN FOOD that fuels writers. Just sayin’

Poetry.com Returns–Beware! or at least caution. Read the Writer Beware post to learn more info.

Audible for Self-Pub’d Authors, is your book a candidate for an audio book?

Short Story Sales Tips still a good way to promote long fiction? Hmnnnn. Leads right into the next links.

World Of Myth looking for short stories and here’s a Short Story Contest for emerging writers

ITW’s “Love Is Murder” Collection Trailer Go to the Facebook page to “like” it to see this exclusive trailer–writers can learn some tips with this kewl video.

Blog Give-Aways, what to do and what not to do

MAN-DAY with hunks galore at Jillian Dodd’s awesome blog where today author Jen Talty expounds on her books’ hunky heroes (photo examples, squee!)

PET-ICITY SCHTUFF

Do Pets Go to Heaven? on the heels of Easter, three theology experts comment–a fascinating read. And that segues nicely into the next section about ghosts.

“Mag the Ghost wasn’t  any easier to deal with in death than Mag the Terror had been in life. Living in Love, Texas, in her childhood home, wasn’t the end of the world, but Tali Cates can’t see the good things with her eyes clouded by murder and mayhem. Now living at home with her son and her mother and trying to support her family, Tali is faced with a vengeful ghost, intent on ruining her life unless she solves her murder. Now some very human elements are showing violent intent and Tali has to come face to face with the very things she tried to leave behind, her gifts and violence.” Privy to Murder by Carol Shenold

This fun mystery (yes, a ghost appears in an outhouse!) also includes a cat, so I asked my friend–author Carol Shenold–how pets figure in her fiction. I think many writers could learn something from her response:

The Cat Said What? I don’t mean you and your cat will sit down at a computer and write together.  But, what if your cat shows up in your current WIP. How do you handle that? I know many writers who make animals into main characters in the books, complete with dialogue. Not good at that. Animals do sneak in because I live with three, but not as major players, more for comic relief, or just for fun. Besides, life is not complete without them.

I do feel like you have to judge your book, setting and character before putting in a pet, since the main character has to take care of it. It you are writing a thriller, adventure,  horror story, will your character remember to feed and water the animal, take it for a walk, scoop the litter? If not, make sure someone else is around to take care of the cat or dog. Mention it once or twice. Or, make it the neighbor’s irritating pet that shows up at awkward times. The way your main character interacts with animals might give insight into character, or lack of.

Since my animals are part of my life, they do come into the books and have a little fun.  I have to watch them or they might take over. In PRIVY TO MURDER, Tali’s kitten, Chaos, tries to take a bath with Tali whenever she can, preferably with bubbles.  But when Aiden was around, she made herself scarce, not fond of males? Cat’s rule and Aiden has disappeared.”

Monkeys Taught To Read! Well, sorta kinda in a way–they do recognize words, how cool is that? I predict a whole new audience for my work…

National Fire Dog Memorial Statue Planned

New Kitten URI Treatment get ready for kitten season with this new info from UC-Davis

More DON’T HUG YOUR DOG DAY from dog behavior expert Marilyn Wolf, a similar take on the Purina Beneful bad promotion.

Purina Stinko Again? This time they did apologize for comparing a neighborhood to a stinky litterbox in a TidyCats NoMorePU campaign. Are the ad guys playing with catnip? Don’t tell me you didn’t inhale!

Is Cesar Milan Going To Fix Your Dog? an excellent post from veterinarian Dr. Rayya who explains the difference between behavioral problems and problem behaviors.

Some of y’all know that music is a HUGE part of my life. It seems to heal us and make us whole on so many levels. A friend sent me this video and I had to share with everyone. HANKY alert!

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!

Monday Mentions: Pets, Writing & Hero Dogs

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Puppies

"Num-num-num-nummmmmm...." Picture courtesy of Eduardo Luderer

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.

WRITER-ICITY SCHTUFF

Register for Thrillerfest and Craftfest–some of the confirmed instructors include Steve Berry, Grant Blackwood, Allison Brennan, Jan Burke, Lee Child, Catherine Coulter, Bob Dugoni, Lisa Gardner, Heather Graham, Andrew Gross, David Hewson, Peter James, Steven James, Joan Johnston, Gayle Lynds, Donald Maass, Phillip Margolin, David Morrell, Michael Palmer, Ann Rule, and they’ll also be featuring martials arts expert and Marine, Jack Hoban, who will be conducting an in-depth workshop on Fighting: Ethics, Tactics, and Techniques for Writers.

Marijuana Mystery Someone mailed more than eleven pounds of marijuana to Macmillan’s St. Martin’s Press offices. The Smoking Gun broke the story today. Bound for an apparently fictitious employee named Karen Wright, the shipments had a potential street value of $70,000. Does that mean our books are going up in smoke? (ahem)

Taking the Mystery Out of Mystery Writing by Dennis Palumbo, a very interesting post.

How to Market Books to Libraries from Publishers Weekly

Jane Friedman on Writing (all kinds of good schtuff)

Chicken Soup for the Soul call-out for writers

Tips for Amazon Categorizing

Who Is In the Middle? from Bob Mayer. Writers create, readers consume, where does that leave the rest?

Neat Post on Lemmings, Words & Pithy Sayings A side note: recently my co-writer and I discovered nobody knew what we meant by “blowing smoke.” Sheesh.

How to Pitch YA to This Agent

Digital Bookworld Article Inventing the future of publishing, terrific article!

Can You Self-Pub Your Way to a REALLY BIG DEAL?

Publishing Resources–Contracts, Terms & More  from the ever-awesome Writer Beware. You’ll want to bookmark this one!

Protection Re: Pinterest which now may be slightly outdated since they just REVISED their terms.

Poisoned Pen Press’s new Discover Mystery Contest for unpublished writers will accept entries until April 30. This competition is similar to the Malice Domestic/St. Martin’s contest and the MWA/St. Martin’s contest for first mysteries. The prize is publication by Poisoned Pen and a $1,000 advance.

Crime Book of the Year 2012 contest from Bloody Scotland, you could win £ 3.000 and window displays across the country

Are You A Work-Aholic? Guilty…but this article says working more than a 40-hour week is likely counter-productive. Hmnnn.

Wanna Write About Pets? New “American Pet Magazine” may be your opportunity

PET SCHTUFF

Nominate A Hero Dog! for some nifty funds for charity, courtesy of American Humane Association (check out the video, below)

Leggings For Life helping disabled cats get a paw-ahead. This is awesome! from terrific artist/writer Bernadette Kazmarski

Dogged Politics–speaking for politician’s pets

Famous Paintings IMPROVED by Cats, thanks to Naomi Bulger for sharing.

Judge Not, a moving and oh-so-MUST-BE-READ post on losing and finding that special pet from terrific pet writer Phyllis DeGioia

Spring Advertizing IMPROVED by Cats, thanks to Charlotte Reed

Facebook Rejects Puppymill Ads

Cats Need Help–priest cutting off the kitty food, can you believe it?!

On Desire, Work & Success a great post from dog mystery author Sheila Webster Boneham

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 Trumpet! Music, Cat-astrophe & Thrilling News!

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NEWS-ABOUT-KURVES!

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

NEWS-ABOUT-CAT!

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…

NEWS-ABOUT-FICTION!

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!

Monday Mentions: Writer-icity & Pet Talk

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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.

Awesome Shirt Folding Tips! from Margaret Miller’s Blog, this is amazing, you gotta see!

Own Your Beauty–It’s Contagious from the awesome blogger Myndi Shafer

Facebook Timeline Tips from Lorie Huston

WRITER SCHTUFF

Kansas Writers Association “Scene 2012” Writer Workshop, and yes, I’m a speaker offering sessions on “kindle-ization” and “media training for authors.” Come say howdy…I’ll be wearing the sparkles (surprise!)

AgentFest, a part of Thrillerfest with some awesome opportunities for writers (yes, I’ll be there)

Branding For Sissies Hey if I can do this so can you. Just sayin’ . . .

Book Club for Authors/Readers a fee-based sign up for authors to get works-in-progress in front of readers for feedback.

RWA®’s Kiss of Death Chapter presents~~ The 2012 Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence in Mystery Suspense

Heightening Suspense from Guest Blogger Jodie Renner

Gorgeous Mousepads! for spiffing up you office decor (yes, I want one of these…)

Writer Beware on Trusting Sources (or Not)

Turning Author Site Into A Store tips from Jen Talty

Tribr How-To from the awesome Jenny Hansen

PINTEREST SCHTUFF

Pinterest for Biz

How Pinterest Engages Better than Twitter Et Al,

How Random House Uses Pinterest

Pinterest Boo-Boos to Beware

Embrace Your Inner Doberman from Sonia Medeiros, good info for anyone including writers

PETS & ANIMAL SCHTUFF

VAFA Shelter Now on PetFinder yeee-haw! This is the FIRST animal shelter in Iran, and dogs fostered in the US now can find their forever-homes via PetFinder connection. Here’s a video you MUST SEE of two rescue GSD-mix pups on grass for the first time.

Pet Industry Estimates $53 Billion Spending

9 Dental Issues You Share With Pets, my latest at Huffington Post

Zero Odor Wins Product of the Year Award! If you haven’t tried this product, check it out

A Beloved Horse Lost–and Found! this is a 3-hanky story you’ll love!

Lost Woman’s Cat Never Leaves Her Side

Australia’s Love-Hate with the Dingo

Greyhound Races Thing of the Past?

Animal Sounds Around the World you say toMAtoe, and I say meow…

NPR Transcript Discusses Animal-Human Bond Benefits

So…what’s the cat saying? And does the toddler understand? Are both “learning” from the communication?

Totally tongue-in-cheek how animals talk (or beak in feathers…)

Westchester Cat Show Interview

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: 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.

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Opening night cake courtesy of the Kurves cast!

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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.

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Opening night flowers from the cast.

kurves flowers

Closing night flowers from my husband--awwwww!

WRITING SCHTUFF

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!

PET SCHTUFF

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: Cat Fonts, Book Reviews & Animal Stars

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.

For the next three nights we’ll be rehearsing and fine-tuning the premier performances this Thursday, Friday and Saturday of KURVES, THE MUSICAL! Last week our preview performance received raves, and we got a GREAT REVIEW in Sunday’s paper, yee-haw! (see comments on the KURVES page) and ticket sales continue to be enthusiastic. But I know that I’ll be worthless this week, and am grateful to two terrific guest bloggers who will provide your Woof Wednesday and Feline Friday furry fixes while I pursue thespian endeavors.

Meanwhile, I’ve been busy creating more puppy-licious content (some of it listed, below). To start the blog off on the right paw, check out these two new books by awesome colleagues and authors. Whether you have the urge to gift a pet-loving friend with a title, or indulge yourself, you can’t get better.

They say that confession is good for the soul–and Alia Zobel Nolan channels her ‘inner dog’ to get to the bottom of some of your furry miscreant’s antics. This fun gift book with gorgeous photos is great fun and leave you second guessing your own dogs’ motivation. Read my review here. Oh, and for the cat-centric folks, Allia has another great companion book titled I’d Rather Be A Cat: The Official “Better Than Dogs” Cat Book.

Touching, inspirational stories abound in David Frei’s latest book. Angel On A Leash celebrates therapy dogs as well as the therapy dog organization of the same name. Check out my review here.

WRITER-ICITY SCTHUFF

The Publishing Pole Vault, from traditionally to self publishing, interesting blog

Giving Away Books–Huh? Here’s why it’s a good thing

Bob Mayer on Story Ideas & Conflict, a must-do online workshop!

Why Poets Should Avoid Agents

William Bernhardt Writer Workshops

Left Coast Crime Conference 2012 in Sacramento!

Writers League of Texas Agent Conference

2012 Oklahoma Book Awards Finalists Named

WG2E–New Online Bulletin Board for Self-Pub’d Writers

WEIRD BUT FUN SCHTUFF

Prevent Sinning with The Sin Collar from the awesome blogger Jenny Hansen…where does she find this stuff!?

Cats As Fonts This could go under any of the cat-egories today.

PET SCHTUFF

World Spay Day February 28

FixNation is an LA-based nonprofit that works with more than 7,000 volunteers to implement TNR (trap-neuter-return) of feral cats. They loan traps out to the community, teach volunteers how to trap and provide information about colony management and seek funding to maintain this level of outreach. To date, they’ve “fixed” more than 65,000 cats and also offers low-cost services for companion cats.

Cat Hero Saves Owner’s Life Hours After Adoption! You may have heard of diabetic-alert dogs–well here’s a cat doing the same thing, and more!

Ohio Pit Bull Discrimination Ends

Animal Abuser Registry?

Where Do Research Cats & Dogs Come From? You’d be surprised…or maybe not. New rules …

Toxoplasmosis–the Truth! neat info from the Worms and Germs blog

Westminster Benching Moves from the Gardens!

Hybrid Vigor? Baloney! Interesting article from a vet, no less.

Update on Canine Heartworm Disease, in honor of February being American Heart Health Month.You can also help support feline heart health with donations to the Winn Feline Foundation’s Ricky Fund that seeks solutions to feline hypertrophic cardiomyopathy.

February is National Pet Dental Care Month so check out these articles on puppy teething (when does it STOP!), a how-to primer on brushing puppy teeth, and an informative article on canine dental health.

5th annual ACVO/Merial National Service Dog Eye Exam Event More than 200 board certified veterinary ophthalmologists throughout the U.S., as well as Canada and Puerto Rico, are estimated to provide free sight-saving eye exams to thousands of eligible service animals. Registration for service animal owners and handlers begins April 1, 2012 at www.ACVOeyeexam.org

Birdy Movie Star! visits Dr. Rayya, you don’t want to miss this gorgeous parrot

MORE Animal Stars in time for scene stealing awards

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

Thoughty Thursday WARNING!

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WARNING Will Robinson, WARNING!

A colleague of mine recently sent a link to something called the Writers Pitch Book that purports to “Connect Writers With Agents, Editors & Movie Producers.” The idea is that YOU (the author) send them your ‘pitch’ and they publish it in the book which goes out to the “right people” to get you noticed and published/produced.

Oh yeah, did I mention there’s a fee involved?

Shoot-fire, it’d be worth it to spend $50 to get your pitch before those with the golden keys to the kingdom, wouldn’t it? That’s what these folks bank on, people! Let’s take a deeeeeep breath and think for a minute.

TAKING ADVANTAGE, GRRRR!

What’s the benefit here? Well, you will get your pitch published. The “pitch book” certainly may be sent/delivered to all the movers-and-shakers in Nooo Yawk and Hollywood, very likely that will happen.

But why in the wide world of sports (or publishing/movie making) would those editors/agents WANT TO READ THIS FREAKIN’ BOOK? I mean, come on, people–agents and editors receive thousands (yes, that’s several zeros) of pitches a week. Not a year, but in a week. Ask yourself, just who is this publisher/person who has the means to persuade a busy editor or agent or (gasp!) movie producer to open up a book filled with pitches, sift through, and say, YES, I want to make YOU a star!

I apologize if this offends anyone but it makes me jump up and down and gnash teeth and say SIC-‘EM MAGICAL-DAWG! when anyone takes advantage of the hopeful aspirations of writers. There are many online sites that already purport to “connect writers with X” and they’re just as ineffective.

SCAMS, DREAM-KILLERS, SUCKING WRITERS DRY

Is it a scam? Well…some are, some aren’t especially if they do what they promise–publish a pitch and send that pitch to the agent. But the only people benefiting are the ones that take your check.  That sucking sound you hear is your wallet being lightened.

Similar “opportunities” are offered to actors for getting their head shots and resumes in front of casting directors–you submit your teeeeeny tiny picture and info to these ginormous catalogues that end up as a doorstop (at best) or hamster bedding (at worst).

Please, people. It’s never been easy to get work seen by editors, agents or producers. And nobody can do it for you. Instead of spending your hard earned money on one of these “short cuts” that don’t work, save those nickles and dimes and invest in a really good writer conference that allows you a face-to-face with an agent or editor. You’ll also hear success stories–and cautionary tales–from writers in the trenches, just like you.

I wish there was a magic wand–or magic book–that would do the job for you–and for me. If you ever happen to find that sparkly magic spell, please clue me in. Until then, watch out for the dream-killers. Protect your dream, it’s priceless, and don’t let ANYONE devalue your work with such things.

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!