Writer Beware: Publish America Now America Star Books

danger sign dog

Writing can be like swimming in shark-infested waters.

I’m likely writing and preaching to the choir here, but when sharks start circling, it bears repeating especially for the folks who may be treated like chum. It’s not fun being targeted by the sharks, and even experienced writers and authors fall prey to some of the crappiocca floating around these days.

Yes, there is DANGER out there for the unwary and eager authors. Certainly, you can choose your own path to publication, and far be it from me to say what is the best choice for anyone but myself. That said, PLEASE be informed. There are some well known companies that have earned either a great or abysmal reputation and when you spend all your blood-sweat-and-tears on your baby-book, it’s important to know the difference.

Publish America has been around for many years. Once self published writers took the reins of their own careers and learned they could accomplish more for less $$ on their own or by hiring pros, such companies turned to advertising and marketing packages to make money. Sure, it’s fine to hire help to market and promote your work–but again, be informed. High price does not equal high quality.

I love the Writer Beware site and strongly urge all writers to bookmark the site. It’s sponsored by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America and founded by A.C. Crispin and Victoria Strauss. So when I got the (below) letter last week, and it didn’t pass the sniff-test, I visited the Writer Beware site and found out this is old news but new to me. Here’s their post on the subject.

Take a look at the email I got yesterday, copied below. I found it interesting that this company that used to do nothing but publish (for a high fee), now says it publishes for free–and offers to promote my indie book for free.

Except my 1st Aid book is NOT an “indie” title.

All they want is to add my name to their marketing solicitation list–but they’ve already GOT my email and sent that letter in a marketing blast. So why reach out? Why do you think? Baiting the hook? Hmnnn.

Or do they want permission to use my pet 1st aid book in their marketing at this event? GAK! no-no-no-no-no!


My name is Jackie Velnoskey. I saw that you have written The First Aid Companion for Dogs & Cats. My question for you is: may I promote the book at the American Library Association’s Annual Conference & Exhibition in Orlando in June? It costs you nothing. All I’m asking you in return is if we may add you to our book marketing email list. 

Amy’s Note: American Library Association is a legit organization, as is its conference. Anyone can pay to exhibit there.

We would like to include your work in the Hot Indy Author Guide that we’re displaying and distributing during the ALA event. This option is free. Check out our Facebook page (URL REDACTED) when we report live from Orlando where over 150,000+ are expected to attend.

At America Star Books we have a book promotion department that does nothing but offering book promotion at the lowest fees in the nation. We attend all of the big fairs and festivals: Book Expo America, London Book Fair, Frankfurt Book Fair, Miami Book Fair International, the American Library Association mid-winter and annual Conferences, Baltimore Book Festival, and so on.

All I am asking you at this time is if we may add you to our email list when we issue our next book promotion offers. You may at any time unsubscribe, and we will promptly cease sending you any further emails. America Star Books has been around for more than fifteen years, serving over 60,000 authors. Participating in book promotion is entirely optional.

 Thank you for considering this opportunity. I am looking forward to hearing back from you.

Jackie Velnoskey
America Star Books Special Services, manager
301-***-****


rattle snake striking

Snakes cannot help their nature…steer clear!

Hey, it’s complicated and can be hard to recognize some of the bad actors because…well, because some of them have joined forces with other well known publishing houses to give themselves legitimacy. Another of my favorite writing blogs is written by author David Gaughrin, and he has a take-no-prisoners approach to calling out the bad actors. Check out his post here about Author Solutions (another infamous example). 

I realize this is not an in depth explanation or recommendation for what you SHOULD do. Others have written with more detail and insight, which is why I encourage you to check out both David’s and the Writer Beware blogs. Also, subscribe to email lists so that when something like this comes up, simply ASK if anyone on the list can tell you anything about the company. The indie community of writers is one of the most generous and giving I’ve ever seen, and those with more experience typically will offer feedback and help to those who genuinely want help.

Your turn–what do you think? Any horror stories you’d care to share…or even better, success stories? I love celebrating writer-ly success because DANG, it’s not an easy path to get published.
It’s up to all of us to watch each other’s backs and call FOUL when someone sets out to prey on the unwary.

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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, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter. Stay up to date with the latest book give aways and appearances related to my September Day pet-centric THRILLERS WITH BITE!

Dogs Eating Poop? Stop Litter Box Grazing With The Door Buddy #ad

dogs litter box grazing

Dogs love the (ahem) taste of kitty “treats” from the cat box.

Door Buddy LogoThis post is sponsored by The Door Buddy. I am being compensated to help create awareness about pet proofing and kid proofing cat litter boxes but BLING, BITCHES & BLOOD only shares information relevant to our readers. The Door Buddy is not responsible for the content of this article.

 

Most new owners are delighted by puppy antics but dogs eating poop prompts anything but smiles. My own darling Magic indulged when he turned six months old. He’d make a beeline to visit his horse buddy next door and find the nifty treats she left on the ground. After these nasty snacks Magic always tried to kiss everybody on the lips, yuck! Thank doG, he finally outgrew the behavior…

Until recently when he relapsed. Urk! That’s why I’m thrilled today to be reviewing The Door Buddy.

WHY YOUR DOG EATS POOP

Dogs commonly eat their own or another animal’s droppings (coprophagia). This is normal behavior for mom-dogs that must clean up after their babies, and some of the pups may end up mimicking this behavior. It first appears in pups at about four to nine months of age. And generally the dog outgrows the behavior. There are a number of ways to deter the behavior in puppies, discussed in my book Complete Puppy Care.

DOGS EATING FROM CAT LITTER BOX

DogDoorBuddyFor adult dogs, though, it’s not unusual for the cat’s litter box to be treated as a canine snack bar. That’s because cat food contains more protein than dog food, and as a result, feline waste tastes good to dogs. The nasty habit is not only unsanitary it puts Sheba’s tail in a twist to have a dog messing with her toilet. Cats pestered in their bathroom look for another place to “go” such as behind the sofa.

And yep, Magic has started to *ahem* indulge because my old lady cat Seren’s litter box has become much more aromatic of late. She may also have a change in digestion that makes her waste more appealing. Whatever the reason, Magic has begun to make a habit of running up the stairs to my office to check out her private potty.

It’s not only dogs that investigate the kitty potty, and hiss off the cat–and risk illness from parasites, too. Human babies and toddlers, just like puppies, love to explore and guess what ends up being tasted? Double urk!

Prevent dog access to litter box with The Door Buddy

The Door Buddy is an innovative strap that controls the size of door openings.

What’s a caring parent (of two-legged or four legged “kids”) to do? Enter the Door Buddy.

CLICK HERE TO READ THE DOOR BUDDY STORY

I already had a couple of ASK AMY videos on YouTube about the issue, and received an email from one of my viewers. Scott Johnson wrote to tell me about his product, The Door Buddy, and offered to send me a sample to review. I was intrigued.

The Door Buddy is a management tool that helps you control access to the cat’s litter box and/or food bowl–or kitty’s favorite room. Essentially, it’s a peel-and-stick low-tech and economical solution that installs in minutes. The adjustable strap allows you to determine the size of the door opening, so that your smaller cat can come and go (and eat or eliminate in peace) while preventing larger animals–including babies and toddlers!–from entering the area.

The Door Buddy requires no fancy installment, and is way less expensive than pet gate barriers or “cat flap” and doggy doors that often are recommended. I was concerned that 90-pound Magic would bulldoze his way through, since no screws attach the strap to the door and frame. It’s likely that a very determined large dog could get through–but for smaller dogs and those like Magic that only require a reminder, The Door Buddy works like a charm.

Check out the video, below, for more details on the Door Buddy and how easy it is to install. I love the video clips at the end of the kiddies, and bet you will, too. Oh…and then scroll on down for your chance to WIN a Door Buddy to try out at your house. You can also see my video review below with MY fur-kids and how they react to the Door Buddy.

At my house, my Karma-Kat is a bit of a piggy when it comes to Seren-Kitty’s food bowl. Magic has taken to doing a paws-up on the table where I feed the cats, and reeeeeching over to clean out their bowls (sheehs, there’s another use for me!). Because my two cats are enough different in size, the Door Buddy works quite well to offer Seren access while limiting Karma’s ability to gnosh from the room where she’s fed. CatDoorBuddy

Do you have dogs that pester your cat during dinner or potty duty? Or maybe you have Mutt-and-Jeff size dogs that need to have separate feeding ops? I could see the Door Buddy working particularly well for multi-pet homes–but also as a boon to keeping your cats calm when the grandkids come to visit!

Want to try out the Door Buddy? Scott is hosting a Door Buddy GIVE AWAY of the product to five lucky winners, so you can try out this innovative new product.

GO HERE and enter for your chance to win 1 of 5 Door Buddy products.

Now take a minute to watch the video, below (with Seren-Kitty, Magical-Dawg & Karma-Kat). What do you think? Do tell! Yes, I look a bit tired because my video software was being obnoxious (much easier to train cats and dogs, LOL!)

Final note: If you’re attending the Cat Writers’ Association Awards Banquet this year, you can say “howdy” to Scott in person (or is that “purr-son?”).

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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, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter. Stay up to date with the latest book give aways and appearances related to my September Day pet-centric THRILLERS WITH BITE!

Dog Parasite Treatment? #SentinelSpectrum Offers Tasty Answers #ad

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SentinelLogoThis post is sponsored by Virbac® Sentinel® Spectrum® and the BlogPaws® Pet Influencer Network™ . I am being compensated to help create awareness about protection against common parasites found in dogs but BLING, BITCHES & BLOOD only shares information relevant to our readers. More information about Sentinel Spectrum. Virbac is not responsible for the content of this article.


Magic and I spend a couple hours every day running and playing in the fields and rambling through the wooded areas of our thirteen-acre property. With the recent rain and warmer temperatures, the wildflowers and roses–as well as grass and weeds–have flourished. But so have the dog parasites including the ones you can see like fleas, tapeworms, roundworms and mosquitoes, and the hidden bugs such as heartworm, hookworms, and whipworms. What’s a caring pet parent to do to provide effective dog parasite treatment?

DOG PARASITE TREATMENT

WITH Sentinel® Spectrum®

Y’all know I’m a huge proponent of preventive care for our dogs and cats as well as a “less is more” approach. Heck, in the old days with my first GSD, we constantly fought the bug wars with weekly dips and sprays and powders and on and on–none were effective alone, and the cumulative effect potentially could poison the dog as well as the bugs. Allowing a dog to become infected first and then treat risked long term health damage or even death, yikes!

SentinelProductImage2Today there are safer products that take care of the buggy smorgasbord in a single monthly treatment. Even the best dog parasite treatment won’t work, though, if it’s hard for you to use or if the application causes the pet distress. So I was delighted to be offered the opportunity to try out the new Virbac® Sentinel® Spectrum® with my Magical-Dawg.

One summer, he developed explosive diarrhea that couldn’t be treated at home. Only after extensive tests did we determine the parasites involved, which he probably contracted by drinking from run off into an old cattle tank (pond) on our property. It’s very difficult to prevent dogs from sniffing up and licking “schtuff” even while supervising them. And while no treatment is 100% guaranteed, I want to give Magic (and the cats) every protection possible to ensure their continued good health.

I like the idea of giving Magic a single monthly treatment that prevents all of these issues at one time. We began the program last month and I was delighted to see that Magic takes the monthly chewy like a treat–he LOVES the flavor! For dogs that are hard to medicate, that’s an added benefit.

So, exactly what kinds of parasites are we talking about? Gather round–it’s quite a “herd” of bad guys, and here’s a round up of info from my DOG FACTS book.

GET THE BUGGY DETAILS: WHAT PETS ARE AT RISK?

FLEAS: There are more than 250 kinds of fleas in the United States, but the cat flea Ctenocephalides felis afflicts pets most often. With the exception of pets living in mountainous regions exceeding elevations of 5000 feet, or dry areas like deserts that are inhospitable to fleas, every dog is at risk for flea infestation. Fleas thrive in warm summer weather, but because most dogs spend time both outside and indoors, fleas carried into homes often set up housekeeping (yikes!), and afflict dogs all year long. You may see flea “dirt” (black specks which are digested blood) caught in the fur, and allergic dogs may scratch incessantly. Adult fleas on a dog account for only 5% of the bug population, with the other 95% consisting of eggs and immature fleas living in the environment. Fleas also transmit other parasites, like tapeworms.

NOTE: Sentinel Spectrum contains lufenuron, classified as an “insect development inhibitor.” In other words, it won’t affect mammals so it’s ultra-safe for dogs, but will break the flea life cycle.

TAPEWORMS are ribbon-like flat worms that live in the intestines. There are several varieties, but Dipylidium caninum is seen most often in cats and dogs and can pose nutritional problems interfering with food absorption. Immature worms must spend developmental time inside an intermediary host before being able to infest your dog. The flea serves this purpose. Tapeworm eggs are eaten by the flea larvae, which then develops as the flea itself matures. When a pet nibbles to relieve that itch, she often swallows the flea and infects herself with tapeworm. You’ll likely see the white inchworm-like segments or dried ricelike debris near the dog’s bottom or in the stool. Some kinds of tapeworms even affect people, making it even more important to keep dogs parasite free.

NOTE: Sentinel Spectrum contains Praziquantel, a dewormer used to eliminate tapeworms.

HEARTWORMS are one of the “invisible” but most deadly parasite affecting dogs, and are type of roundworm called Dirofilaria immitis that belongs to a group of parasites termed filarids. Adult worms live in the pulmonary arteries and right heart chambers, and can damage the heart muscle and interfere with its function. An intermediate host, the mosquito, is necessary to transmit the disease to dogs. The life cycle takes about six to seven months. All dogs can get the disease, but those exposed more often to mosquitoes—outdoor dogs living in close proximity to mosquito breeding grounds like swamps or standing water—are at highest risk. Common signs are coughing, shortness of breath, and reluctance or fainting during exercise. Eventually the dog becomes weak, listless, loses weight, and may cough up blood. Severe signs of late-stage disease are congestive heart failure, including labored breathing and edema. The condition may result in sudden collapse and death. Nearly 300,000 dogs in the U.S. contract heartworms each year–and it doesn’t have to happen.

NOTE: Sentinel Spectrum contains milbemycin oxime to prevent this parasite. The product also prevents roundworms, hookworms and whipworms.

ROUNDWORMS are one the most common intestinal parasites and most puppies are born with them. Roundworms are passed in the stool or vomited, and look like masses of spaghetti. Infected pets often have a pot-bellied appearance. There are several types of roundworms, technically called nematodes. Puppies may be infected before they are born when immature worms the mom-dog harbors migrate to the uterus. Puppies may also contract roundworms from nursing the mother’s infected milk. The parasite can also be contracted when a puppy or adult dog swallows infective larvae found in the environment, or by eating an infected host like a mouse or bird. Children also can be infected, so keeping dogs worm free with products like Sentinel Spectrum also keeps kids safe.

HOOKWORMS are another common intestinal parasite you won’t see in the stool because they grow to less than half an inch long and usually must be diagnosed by finding eggs with microscopic examination of a stool sample. Depending on the species, they suck blood and/or take bites out of the wall of the dog’s small intestine (ouch!), which can result in severe bleeding. All dogs are susceptible, but puppies are at highest risk. Although adult dogs may become immune to the worms after several bouts of infection, that doesn’t necessarily clear all the parasites and dogs can still get sick. There are several kinds of hookworms. The highest incidence of disease is found in southern states where higher humidity and temperature conditions provide an ideal environment for the parasite.

WHIPWORMS are thin, two to three inch long thread-like intestinal parasite worms that narrow at one end like a whip. All dogs are at risk, but puppies may be more profoundly affected. Dogs contract the parasite by ingesting eggs found in the soil. Eggs can live for five years in the soil of cold climates. According to the Companion Animal Parasite Council (CAPC), “Whipworms are found in as many as 14.3% of shelter dogs sampled in the U.S. and 10% of dogs presented to veterinary teaching hospitals.” Some lucky dogs live in states with a much lower incidence of this nasty critter. Check out this CAPC parasite incidence map to see the risk factors for your dogs (and cats).

The whipworm parasite feeds on blood by burrowing into the wall of the intestine. Dogs infected with whipworms often are also infected with other parasites, such as hookworms, and the combination can be devastating. A heavy worm load of whipworms may cause diarrhea, vomiting, anemia and weight loss, and such dogs typically have a rough coat or “unthrifty” appearance. In severe cases, dogs can die.

SpectrumMagic2

SpectrumMagic

The first step in protecting your dog from these common parasites is to schedule a veterinary appointment to diagnose and treat any resulting health concerns. Then the doctor can also recommend and prescribe the appropriate treatment, such as Sentinel Spectrum (available only by prescription). If you’re interested in trying this all-in-one parasite protection, check out the rebate offer here. 

If you’re like me, you’d also welcome a monthly reminder so you don’t forget, and you can set that up here.  Magic will be using the monthly chewies to prevent these bad bugs for the next several months, and I’ll keep y’all updated how he (and we!) like the product.

How do you keep your dogs (and cats) safe in your “bug wars?” Have your pets ever had a bad experience with parasites? How did you know–what signs did you see–and what did you and your vet do to get your furry wonder well again? Do tell!

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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, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter. Stay up to date with the latest book give aways and appearances related to my September Day pet-centric THRILLERS WITH BITE!

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Virbac® Sentinel®. The opinions and text are all mine.

Cat Hairballs & Shedding: 7 Tips to Solve the Big Hairy Deal

Cat hairballs can be a big problem with longhair cats.

Longhair cats like this Persian require extra grooming help to prevent cat hairballs.

It’s shedding season, and cat hairballs (sometimes even dog hairballs, URK!) can be a problem at this time of year. Many cat owners discover wads of wet fur—hairballs—late at night when they step on them with bare feet. Cats seem to instinctively choose to decorate the most stainable portions of the carpet.

It’s normal for cats—especially those with long fur—to experience hairballs once in a while. Cats spend up to 50 percent of their awake time grooming, and swallow fur in the process. What doesn’t end up in the litter box comes out the other end as nasty cigar-shaped cat hairballs.

cat hairballs prevented by combing and brushing

Combing it out means it won’t be swallowed–and end up on your carpet!

But swallowing lots of fur isn’t healthy, and hairballs are more than a nasty nuisance. Kitties that produce three or more hairballs a month should be checked by the vet to rule out other health issues.

Hairballs cause diarrhea, appetite loss, coughing, retching, constipation—or even deadly intestinal blockage. Cats have had hairballs as big as baseballs that require surgery to be removed! Most cases won’t need surgery, though, and most hairballs can be easily eliminated. Refer to these tips to untangle your cat hairballs problems.

cat hairballs are reduced by grooming cats

Grooming cats reduces the chance for hairballs.

7 CAT HAIRBALLS TIPS

Groom the cat. The cheapest, easiest hairball cure for cat hairballs is to regularly comb and brush your cat. Any hair you remove won’t be swallowed to end up staining your upholstery. The Furminator eliminates up to 90 percent of shed fur. Seren-kitty LOVES her Furminator (Magic loves his dog version, too).

Feed a hairball diet. A variety of commercial products are designed to prevent cat hairballs. They include extra nondigestible fiber. That helps push swallowed hair through the digestive tract, so it is eliminated naturally with each bowel movement. Most of these are dry diets, though, and cats do much better on wet foods.

Add some fiber. If you’d rather not switch foods, just add fiber to kitty’s regular diet. Cats love and need lots of protein but that sometimes promotes constipation and doesn’t help move the swallowed hairs. Mix in a teaspoon of plain bran or Metamucil to canned meals. Flaxseeds or psyllium husks, available in health food stores, also act as natural laxatives and work well. Add ¼ teaspoon of flaxseeds or psyllium for every meal.

Offer pumpkin. Canned pumpkin—the plain type, not for pies—is very rich in fiber and cats often love the taste. Get a jumbo-size can, and divide into teaspoon-size servings and freeze in an ice cube tray. Thaw one serving at a time, mixing into the regular food or offer as a treat once or twice a week. Some cats actually love fresh green beans or cat grass, so offer for extra treats and bowel health.

Give a bit of honey. If your cat doesn’t appreciate canned pumpkin, you can offer a natural laxative, two or three times a week. Combine raw oatmeal, honey, and olive oil into a paste. Offer one to two tablespoons as a treat when hairballs are a problem.

Lubricate the gut. Butter will make your cat purr, but it won’t help hairballs. Digestible fats like butter can cause diarrhea and usually get absorbed before they can move the problem out. Instead, offer non-medicated petroleum jelly. It looks nasty but many pets like the taste. It will coat the hairball to make it slide more easily out of the system. If kitty refuses to accept a finger-full scraped into his mouth, just spread the jelly on his paw so he has to lick it off as he grooms. Commercial hairball remedies often add salmon or malt flavoring to similar petrolatum products. Take care to follow label instructions or your veterinarian’s advice, though. Overuse of these products can interfere with the pet’s use of fat-soluble vitamins.

Do your cats suffer from hairballs? How do you manage the problem? Do tell!

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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, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter. Stay up to date with the latest book give aways and appearances related to my September Day pet-centric THRILLERS WITH BITE!

Amy Shojai Releases Dog Facts Book: The Pet Parents A-to-Z Home Care Encyclopedia

DogFacts

It’s National Pet Day and what better time to release my latest book DOG FACTS: The Pet Parent’s A-to-Z Home Care Encyclopedia! If you pre-ordered an Ebook version at my special $2.99 discount it should have already downloaded to your Ereader of choice. Enjoy, and thanks for your “early adoption.”

Today DOG FACTS releases in all Ebook versions (now $9.99) and print at amazon ($24.99) and will soon be available at other stores, too. This is a MASSIVE book, 642 pages and three pounds of everything you ever wanted to know about keeping your dog happy, healthy, and safe.

Advance reviews make my virtual tail wag: “A Must Have for All Dog Owners” and “Amy Shojai has hit a grand slam”

Here’s what’s in the book:

  • An alphabetical A-to-Z listing, with more than 200 entries and 200+ cute dog photos and illustrations, covering everything from abscesses and hair loss to whipworms and zoonosis, holistic care, first aid, and breed health issues (and what to do)
  • Charts that list symptoms for a particular condition, the corresponding home care or first aid, the comparative veterinarian and holistic treatments, and preventive advice
  • A symptoms/conditions table that helps you identify what ailments might be bothering your dog
  • Breed-At-A-Glance chart to compare personality, looks, care challenges and other issues when choosing your purebred dog
  • A comprehensive, easy-to-use index that makes quick reference a snap
  • Contact information for dozens of dog organizations and veterinary resources

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This is a compilation of my more than 25 years as a pet care journalist, incorporating the veterinary advice from hundreds of veterinary experts and thousands of hours of interviews. I’ve tried to keep the cost as economical as possible because I truly believe this book could save dog lives–I want as many pet parents to have access to the book as possible. Heck, instead of getting 3 or 4 of my books, just get this one all-inclusive book! I hope it makes a positive difference for your special dogs.
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I hope you’ll share these links (below) with dog loving friends. Instead of a collection of several books, this door-stop-size book covers all the must-knows from birth to seniors, and I hope is the only dog book a pet parent will need.
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 Could you please do me a favor? SHARE this post with your dog loving friends and let me know how you (they) like the book. I’m not too proud to beg (can you see me sitting up? it’s hissing off the cats…)
Thanks in advance for helping me spread the word! Here are the direct links to the book:

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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, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter. Stay up to date with the latest book give aways and appearances related to my September Day pet-centric THRILLERS WITH BITE!