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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!

Monday Mentions: Hill’s, KWA & Avalanche SAR Cats!

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Hill's Global Pet Nutrition Center hosted our Tuesday evening dinner at the Kansas Historical Society Museum--a lovely venue with even better dinner companions!

I’m just back from a week of two major trips, and playing catch-up for the work ahead. Last Tuesday and Wednesday, the great folks at Hill’s Pet Nutrition invited more than a dozen pet bloggers and journalists, offered lectures on cutting-edge nutrition science, gave us a tour of the facilities in Topeka, KS, and answered all our questions–some quite hard-hitting, indeed. I’ll soon have some updated (and brand new) articles and blogs here and at my Puppies Site sharing what I learned.

Writing nutrition articles was delayed while I attended the KWA Scene Conference in Wichita on Friday and Saturday (just returned late Sunday). The event was everything a writers’ event should be–congenial well prepared hosts, terrific speakers, and eager and talented attendees. I was honored to present two sessions, one on my Kindle-ization journey, and the other on Media Training for Authors (yes, I’ve shared some of this on previous Tuesday Tips blogs).

Finally, stay tuned for some audio and perhaps video of the performance of KURVES, THE MUSICAL sometime this week. Oh, and I’ve got news on the thriller writing front, too! Whew!

Meanwhile, 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.

WRITING SCHTUFF

Your Brain On Fiction A very interesting post about how specific words affect the reader’s brain, from DP Lyle, MD

Writing Contests with Hidden Agendas from the always awesome Writer Beware

Agent Weighs In on Repping Self-Pub’d Authors And I heard the same from agents this past weekend at the conference. Sales numbers must be substantial–used to be at least 5000 in a year, now more likely 10,000 (and going up!)

Smashwords Removes Censorship Policy

Facebook Timeline Tips it’s gonna happen, folks, by end of the month. Yes, I need to do this, too, arg!

Cautions about LinkedIn and Hackers

PET SCHTUFF

Highly-trained search-and-rescue cats save avalanche victims--meeeeWOW!

SAR Cats Save Avalanche Victims! Move over, dogs, the cat-heroes are leaping ahead!

9 Dental Issues You Share with Pets, my latest Hufffington Post article

Kitten Rescue Tips from Examiner.com writer Stacey Ritz

AKC Announces Most Popular Dog Breeds

Scott’s Miracle Grow Bird Seed Poisons Birds! fined $4.5 million, sheesh…

Pet Services Industry Poised to Grow despite the economy

Julian: Throw-Away No More, a touching story of a rescue cat, from a guest blogger at Sally Bahner’s Exclusively Cats blog.

Shoes with Dog Lovers In Mind Amore Dei Cani features breeds–and donates to a good dog cause.

Zen Cat Greeting

Catalyst Council Warns About Cat Poisons during National Poison Prevention Awareness Month. Many of the same poisons affect dogs and puppies–learn about common puppy poisons to avoid here

Thanks to Elena Aitken for sharing this hilarious video:

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: Fractal Felines, Cats with Thumbs, Extreme Dawgs & HALLELUJIA!

Monday Mentions is the mash-up-day of all the neato-torpedo links and blogs and writer-icity crappiocca collected over the past week. When this posts, I’ll still be on the road (maybe away from the computer GASP!) so I put this list together late last week. To fill in the empty spaces, I left it up to Magical-Dawg and Seren-Kitty to pick out a couple of favorite videos.

WEIRD & FUNNY SCHTUFF

Excuses–You Want Excuses? a whole slew of laugh-out-loud insurance excuses from Colin Falconer (hey, you need to check out his BOOK too!)

Stacy Green’s Glover for Lovers If you’ve got cold appendages, this blog has the answer for you. Stacy also writes a Thriller Thursday blog that’s a must-read.

KEWL WRITER SCHTUFF

Guest Blogger Jodi Renner on Killer Thriller Tips from the awesome Doug Lyle’s blog.

Pearson Wants MORE Rights, read about it in this Writer Beware post.

Jenny Hansen’s Awesome Formatting Tips for Writers

Lessons From Attila/Designing From Bones Blog from the awesome Gene Lempp–writers can learn a lot from these strong characters

Pets for Kids Poetry Contest, great pastime for creative kids over the holiday vacation

On Being Vulnerable–great post by blogger Nissi

FURRY-TASTIC PET SCHTUFF

Baggage Handler Fired for Helping Dog She did the right thing. What would YOU do?

Ease Travel Angst with Travel Calm from Earth Heart Inc.

EXTREME DOG WALKING This man takes his 16 dogs out for a bike ride and swim in a river every day. Look how well trained they are and how much they love him. By the time they return home, they are exhausted and ready for a good rest.

Stray Cat Poisoner Sentenced

Cat Inherits $13 Million, now that’s the cat’s meow!

PETSIDE.COM Holiday Sweeps, take a survey and get in line for $500

ProCATinator from the uber-evil Karyl Cunningham! cats doing CAT things to music–weirdly addictive.

Vir-Chew-Al Pet Gifts quite a variety and a really nice (truly!) gang of pet lovers run this show.

FRACTAL FELINES: This video is awesome–and IMO rates pretty high on the OOOK factor. What do you think? These Fractal Felines are enough to give Magical-Dawg nightmares but I think Seren sort of likes it.

CATS WITH THUMBS commercial just won an award! Awesome. Wonder if there’s a movie in the making?

HOMECOMING FOR THE HOWL-IDAYS: Here’s another video and the Magical-Dawg chose this one. It’s one of my favs, too. What about you?

MR. BEAN’S NATIVITY GAMES Admit it, you’ve wanted to do this!

HALLELUJIA CHORUS: Right in time for the holidays, this came across my virtual desk and I just had to share. Feel free to sing along.

#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!

Tuesday Tips: Ask Amy Thinks Outside The Box

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Now that I’ve got your attention, no–that is NOT a real book. The totally twisted folks over at Smoshed.com posted a whole slew of tongue-in-cheek (I hope!) “Rejected Children’s Books” . Here’s another one that seems to fit today’s theme–think outside the box & get off the @#$%^! pot!

As writers we need to know our audience, and give ’em what they want. Since all my kids have four feet and fur, I’ll leave it to others to wax poetic on what’s appropriate for human children. But for the rest of us, one truism remains in today’s world of publishing. Even though it’s changing faster than Magical-dawg sheds fur, publishers still want the same-ol’ same-ol’ but with a twist.

They want a book that’s exactly the same (so it’ll sell), only different. Arggg! Listen, if you’re writing to a popular “trend” the train has already left you behind. Legacy publishing–the traditional Noo Yawk way of doing things–takes so long that by the time your agent search, editor offer, and publish date rolls around, your piping hot trend is old news fit only for the bottom of the cat box. And we all know that discerning kittehs snub stale boxes and look for pristine accommodations.

Creative use of Beatrice's wedding hat...

So the tip of the day is — WRITE WHAT MOVES YOU. Put on your big-kid panties, get off the pot and write what YOU want to read, find your passion, and never mind if others raise eyebrows. It takes a brave soul to be a trend-setter. Somebody had to be the first to turn dry courtroom jargon into a thriller, transform doctor-speak into bone-chilling narratives, fairy-tale broom-riding kids into an international phenom, and cold-blooded suckers into sparkly hearthrobs. Study why that trend works. Then set it on its ear, and find a way to make your twist a success. And remember to listen to your audience!

I’m trying, believe me. Fur keeps getting in my ears.

How do you think outside the box? What passion rules your writing–or other creative outlet? Are you knitting fantastical creations for your grandkids–or the Siamese down the street? Have you figured out a new way to clicker train your goldfish, or teach middle school students? (Now THAT’S scary!)

My audience, for instance, gets pissy about cat box issues. (How’s that for an awkward segue? Stinks, don’t it…) Litter-ary problems are the top cat behavior complaint and there’s lots of reasons why Sheba chooses to …ahem…  “color” outside the lines. I suspect there are parents out there with their own potty-training horror stories. Lucky for me, Seren-kitty has been faithful to her box. This latest Ask Amy “covers” a common potty problem. What are some other tips that have worked for you? Please share!

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!