You Wrote WHAT? Why I Write What I Write

Magic-Seren-BooksSome of y’all know that my *virtual HIDE AND SEEK book tour* ran during June and July, and I had a wonderful time visiting various blogs and sharing about my writer-ly journey. All the links to various blogs can be found on my website here.Fire

But now I’ve been tagged for another virtual tour, a way for my Sweet Peeps to find out about other paw-some writers and their work. My author-friend, Angie Baily, invited me to join The Writing Process Blog Tour. Be sure to check out Angie’s blog and find out all about her works-in-progress. If you love quirky humor and love cats, you’ll find a treasure there!

The Writing Process Blog Tour is a way for bloggers to share their own writing process and current projects with readers, as well as introduce them to a couple of fabulous authors they might not be reading … which they should. I’m supposed to answer these four questions–so hang on tight, and I’ll try to be concise.

*snicker* Yeah, THAT’s gonna happen!

What am I working on?

Wow, probably too many projects to list. Here’s the short list at the top of my to-do’s:

  1. I’m awaiting the return of final edits on my next nonfiction book COMPLETE PUPPY CARPuppyCareCoverE, due to release later this month. This book will be the companion title to mirror my best selling COMPLETE KITTEN CARE book. Hey, I have to give equal time to the fur-kids!
  2. Writing the next book in my suspense/thriller series, titled SHOW AND TELL. The books feature an animal behaviorist, September Day. She lives with a trained Maine Coon cat and suffers from PTSD which is helped by her German Shepherd service dog named Shadow. Shadow is a favorite character because he has his own viewpoint chapters, character arc and storyline (but no, he DOESN’T talk).
  3. Strays Logo2-LoRezPreparing for the debut of STRAYS, THE MUSICAL, a full-length play co-written with Frank Steele. We’ve got a workshop scheduled to teach folks some of the music and introduce to the script, auditions scheduled, and performance taking place November 6-7-8, 2014. This show is very close to my heart, as it incorporates my love of cats and dogs with music and theater (all characters are cats or dogs). You can expect some blog posts in the future detailing this STRAYS journey!
  4. In the planning stages for a writers’ guide “how-I-did-it” short book, hopefully this fall, to provide a one stop place to answer many of the writing and publishing questions I receive. It will be based on the several conference talks and webinars I offer.
  5. SUPER-SECRET-SOON-TO-BE-REVEALED PROJECTS that I can’t yet announce, but will be PAW-some for cats, dogs and pet parents. Yes, it has to do with great health and behavior information, and some opportunities for bloggers to get involved, too. Stay tuned!

How does my work differ from others in my genre?

Some of my work is very similar to my colleague’s, in that I strive to provide great actionable information that helps pet parents and the cats and dogs they love. It differs in that many of the venues or platforms are outside the box, and that I try not to limit myself to one avenue to reach my audience.

For years I wrote very prescriptive nonfiction books and articles–and I still love sharing that information. But now I work to “edu-tain” readers who perhaps aren’t specifically looking for pet care advice or information. Reading a book told through “dog voice” opens a window into how and why dogs behave certain ways. Watching a play in which cats and dogs offer insight into their world and it’s all from their purr-spective may offer some ah-ha moments for pet parents. Using a variety of publishing platforms, from the Internet and blogs to Ebooks, traditional print and even audio books or songs, increases the chance more folks will benefit from the work.

Why do you write what you do?

I was put on this earth to be a voice for the voiceless–I truly believe that. Writing about cats and dogs gives me great pleasure, and it’s fun! How neat to wake up every morning excited to go to work and–basically–play with cats and dogs for a living. I am truly blessed!

How does your writing process work?

Hmnn. Often, I get ideas from readers asking questions, or from news stories that make me go “wow…what if?” Typically I work 6-7 days a week, although I try to take at least half a day off on Sunday. My world would go off the tracks without to-do lists. I love putting together lists, and crossing off each item once completed! My calendars (several, both paper and online) are highlighted and color coded to keep track of various projects, and often look like a peacock exploded.

For book-length projects, I do my best to meet a daily word count, and calendar progress toward the deadline. Otherwise, with so many things to juggle, something’s liable to go SPLAT when it’s dropped. Once a book-length draft is finished, I work on a different project for a time and come back to edits with fresh eyes. Books generally go through several rewrites and drafts before going to beta readers and later to my editor, so it’s an involved process. Shorter work like articles can be turned around much more quickly. Blogs (like this one) often are written in one sitting.

Now it’s time to tag two more wonderful writer friends. Please head on over to their blogs/websites and check out their work. I promise, you’ll be glad you did!

JaneA Kelly is a contributing author to and is the webmaster and chief cat slave for Paws and Effect, an award-winning cat advice blog written by her cats, for cats and their people. She is a professional member of the Cat Writers’ Association, and has been a speaker at the BlogPaws and Cat Writers’ Association conferences. In addition to blogging about cats, JaneA writes contemporary urban fantasy, and whatever else strikes her fancy.

Carol Shenold has been a nurse for forty years, and a writer/artist almost as long. She writes the Tali Cates mysteries, as well as urban fantasies with weirdly wonderful characters (“The Monster under the bed…is real!”), and nursing textbooks. She also writes nonfiction in general interest, technical magazines, newspaper columns and more. You can find Carol at her website and her blog–when she’s not busy painting pictures of her cat or dogs or grandkids.

I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered–post in the comments. 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  THRILLERS WITH BITE!



How to Keep a Skinny Old Cat Young


Karma just can’t fit into Seren’s bed these days, but that doesn’t stop him from trying!

My faithful readers know that Seren-Kitty (aka “The Queen”) is a skinny old cat and has struggled for the past year or so with the “schnorkles” and “sneezles.” I’ve written about her increasingly scary bouts with URIs (upper respiratory infections) in this post. URIs is one of the major reasons that cats refuse to eat.

Thank goodness, Seren still has an appetite. Her sneezle-attacks began last Friday and alerted me to the potential problem. So early Monday morning, I called my veterinarian and got a refill on the liquid Clavamox that helped so much the last time. After just two days, she’s already breathing a bit easier. God bless veterinarians!


Old cats get sick quicker and take longer to get well. August happens to be Senior Pet Month–and both Seren and Magical-Dawg are senior citizen pets. So this post is doubly appropriate.

Nutrition is a huge issue for older pets, too. Seren has always been tiny and had trouble eating enough nutrition to maintain a good body condition. At her heaviest she weighed 7 pounds. This past winter, Seren had dropped weight to 5-1/2 pounds. Her fur looked unkempt, claws were overgrown so she “clicked” walking on the hardwood floor, and she just wanted to sleep. The dry therapeutic diet she’d eaten for the past several years became difficult for her to munch, and she asked to be lifted up to tabletops she’d previously scaled with ease–arthritis rearing its ugly head. Honestly, I feared my dear old girl might be ready for that final trip across the Rainbow Bridge…


Then Karma-Kitten came home. Suddenly, the new-kid-on-the-block disrupted the household, adding stress to Seren’s life, and a wee bit of excitement.

Karma chased the dog, and Magic chased him. Karma chased Seren–she was not amused, and told him so. He continued to pester until she got off her furry nether regions to tell him off. I kept them separated when I couldn’t supervise, fearing the bruiser-kitten would hurt Seren.

Karma also ate EVERYTHING, including Seren’s food (the dog’s, too). So again, I had to supervise feedings so Seren wouldn’t starve when Karma cleaned out her bowl.


Seren’s food wasn’t appropriate for a kitten and when he showed up, all I had in the house were samples of dehydrated kitty ration I got at from The Honest Kitchen (You can get free samples here). He loved it! And as a plus, I figured that would keep him out of the other pet’s food. I really like not having to refrigerate leftovers, and mixing only the amount needed for meals ensured it was fresh and still warm when served. And when The Honest Kitchen read about Karma’s homecoming and how the food helped so much, they sent me additional samples of various flavors to try out (even some for Magic!).

Now, with kittens, you don’t want to limit food since they’re growing so fast. I think Karma wrote those instructions. He packed on pudge, and still tried to swipe the other pet’s food, and I feared Seren would shrink even more.

Instead, The Queen Seren took control, and she began to steal mouthfuls of Karma’s food. And chase HIM across the room!


Now folks, I’m a huge proponent of feeding appropriate foods for pets. Seren had been eating the Hill’s Prescription Diet k/d from my veterinarian to support her kidney function since she tested in the borderline range for kidney insufficiency. Her teeth, though, weren’t handling the dry kibble very well so I listened to Seren–she really liked the warm wet ration she’d stolen from Karma. So I ran the Hill’s k/d kibble through my blender, and then softened each meal with warm water. Granted, I could purchase canned food of the same formulation (I’d recommend you do this and have it on hand from the beginning). But I’d just purchased a big bag of the dry food and figured this was better than wasting good nutrition.

Eureka! Seren loved it, and began eating better. But she still wanted Karma’s food, too.

And frankly, at age 17, I decided Seren’s quality of life meant any time she asked for food, I’d give her what she wanted. That means a mix of foods including tastes of lean meats from my plate if she asks; a scoop of KarSD_FL_D_adt_NA_o_PWt_n_orig_500_enma’s Honest Kitchen ration or a taste of plain yogurt; or even a sip of water from my glass. When the dry food ran out, I continued with the dehydrated diet, offering a teaspoonful at a time, many times a day.

These days, Seren still steals Karma’s food, which isn’t ideal since we’ve switched him to Science Diet Perfect Weight to slim down the pudge. He weighs 13 pounds or so, over twice as much as Seren, and the Perfect Weight seems to be working.

What about the dog? Well, Magic gets treats by cleaning up any kitty food leftovers, plus his own occasional treats of The Honest Kitchen. It’s a bit pricy to feed as routine ration to a 90+ pound dog like Magic, but for treats it’s ideal. I was just sent samples of THK Halcyon “Duck Recipe” and Magic can’t wait to try that, too.


Notice the name ‘MAGIC’ on the box…that’s because my husband tried to feed this dog-ration to Seren while I was gone. She was NOT amused!


Forgive me for a bit of philosophical musing. I truly thought Seren was near the end of her life, and then Karma showed up. Running away from him force her to get up and moving. Guarding her own bowl gave her reason to get up in the morning. Chasing after him keeps her arthritic joints lubricated and she now jumps up anywhere she wants. Wet food enticed her to eat more–she now wakes my husband at 3 am for a treat and, being the well-trained human he is, he accommodates her. I don’t limit her to a single diet and my veterinarian is fine with that. (Always check with your vet!)

Shortly after Karma arrived, Seren began grooming her claws again, so she could CHASE and chastise Karma. She began grooming her own fur better and caring about her appearance. Seren also now demands lap time in the evenings (to keep HIM out of my lap, LOL!). According to her last vet visit, Seren is back up to about 6 pounds. She’s active, interested in life again, and (I pray!) has at least one more of her 9 lives to spend with me.

Karma came unexpectedly, a clown-cat and snuggle-puss that makes me smile every day. Seren remains a serious, dainty Queen who wishes he’d go away–but when he came into her life, he shared with her the Karma cure.

She’s shared the sneezles with him. Ahem.

What about your pets? Have your fur-kids ever influenced the other cats (or dogs) to get healthy–or the opposite, do they teach each other bad habits? How do you manage feeding multiple pets? Do tell!

I am not being paid for this post. The opinions expressed in this blog are my own. I initially received free samples of The Honest Kitchen, as well as Science Diet Perfect Weight for Cats to try. The fur-kids did so well on both products, I’ve continued to purchase and feed them. I do have an affiliate relationship with The Honest Kitchen.

I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered–post in the comments. 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, sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter. Stay up to date with the latest book give aways and appearances related to my  THRILLERS WITH BITE!

Sick Kitty: What to Do When #Pets Won’t Eat

KarmaBlueChair Yesterday, Karma-Kat got sick. He snubbed the bowl. Yes, I’m worried, particularly since he’s usually such a little chow-hound.

All pets lose their appetite once in a while and may snub the bowl for a meal or two. Some pets are just picky by nature, but healthy dogs and cats tend to make up for a missed meal with the next serving. As long as the pet acts like he otherwise feels good, loss of appetite for one or two days isn’t cause for concern.

Magical-Dawg and Seren-Kitty have never been finicky eaters, and eat pretty much anything that’s offered. Karma-Kat is a bit of a glutton, and will scrounge for more when the bowl is empty.

But a few days ago, we received a PAW-some box full of dog treats to review (Magic is a very happy doggy!). As I set up some photo ops, Karma got into the act and beat the dog to the schnarf-op. Yesterday, he ate a bunch of Magic’s dog treats—he LOVES them!

But too many proved to rich for the boy’s tummy and later that day threw ‘em up. His tummy was so upset, he “whoopsed” twice more. I know he felt bad because he didn’t pester for food or attention, and just wanted to sleep. I’d been invited to attend a local theater production last night and worried the whole time I was there, and when I returned home, he’d been sick one more time. Oh no…


Nearly any illness can cause a pet to refuse to eat, though. Life-threatening diseases such as distemper or kidney failure, parasites such as hookworms, a sore mouth from dental problems, or just the stress of a mother-in-law visiting the family, could prompt anorexia. High outdoor temperatures also can kill pet appetite.

Any sudden loss of appetite that lasts more than two days needs medical attention—sooner, if the pet acts sick. Puppies and kittens have fewer fat and fluid reserves and can’t go without food longer than about 12 hours before needing medical help. Toy breed puppies are particularly prone to potentially deadly drops in blood sugar (hypoglycemia) if they skip a meal. Signs of hypoglycemia are weakness, drunken-type gait, and sometimes seizures. Lift the pup’s lip and put Karo Syrup, honey or something similar on the gums, and once he’s conscious, feed him.

Cats, especially pudgy kitties, can also become gravely ill by skipping just one or two meals, so I’m extra careful about Karma since he’s packed on a bit of weight. For overweight cats, refusing to eat can start a chain reaction that moves fat cells into the cat’s liver. Hepatic lipidosis or “fatty liver disease” can kill the cat.

If your pet stops eating, you’ll need a diagnosis from the veterinarian to figure out why. But often it’s perfectly legal to tempt his appetite with healthy people food. Offer wholesome tidbits like a sliver of lean beef or chicken, or spike his kibble with no-salt meat broth. That will also help you decide if he’s just being finicky, or really has a problem that needs medical attention.

Cats suffering from upper respiratory infections often have stuffy noses. If they can’t smell their food, cats won’t eat. Use a humidifier in a small room to help open up the breathing passages or run a hot shower so the pet breathes steamy air in the bathroom for ten minutes a couple times a day. Warm water on a cotton ball gently cleans off the plugged nose to keep it unblocked.


Tempt your pet’s appetite with pungent-smelling foods. Many cats relish tuna juice from a can of water-packed tuna, while dogs often live for liverwurst. You can also offer meat-based baby food. That’s not only very palatable for most cats and dogs, but is easier to eat if the mouth is sore from respiratory infections or dental problems.

Studies have shown that 95 to 98 degrees is the most attractive food temperature especially to cats. Warm the food and test it against your wrist–close to your own body temperature is the right range. Anorexic cats often will lick food off a spoon or your finger more readily than out of a bowl so hand feeding helps get nutrition in him until you can see the veterinarian.

Leaving food out in front of a reluctant eater for long periods at a time overwhelms and “wears out” the appetite centers. That will kill any appetite the pet may have left. Instead, offer your reluctant eater a small amount of food, and when he’s had his fill or refuses to eat, take it away and try again an hour later.


This morning, I warmed up some wet food and Karma lapped up two tongue-swipes of the food. He also drank some water, and eliminated normally, which encouraged me he was on the mend. I had a lunch meeting, and resolved to take his temp and get him to the vet if Karma hadn’t improved by the time I got home.

When I returned from my meeting, Karma seemed more alert, so I offered him a bit of plain non-flavored yogurt. Many cats like the flavor, and it’s soothing on ify tummies and helps re-balance “good” gut bacteria. He wasn’t particularly interested, though, and Seren for once stole HIS food instead of the opposite.

Karma followed me into the master bath (his purr-sonal space) and actually went to his bowl. So…I offered again a tiny amount of warm wet food and this time, he ate! Yee-haw! He kept it down and asked for more a couple hours later, and has started inviting Magical-Dawg to play, so it’s clear he’s on the mend.

It’s also clear I need to teach the boy to read, and avoid anything treats that say “dog” on the package. Until then, I’ll have to be much more vigilant going forward, to avoid any future pig-out problems.

Do you have pets that steal each others’ food? How do you manage the marauding maniacs? Do tell!

I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered–post in the comments. 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  THRILLERS WITH BITE!

Caption My Ass-ets! #FunnyCats Rule


I’m head-down busy today preparing edits to send back to my editor on the new COMPLETE PUPPY CARE book. And my “helper” Karma has made editing a new challenge. I’ve shared a couple of these pictures on my Facebook page (have you “liked” me yet?!) but wanted to post here, too.

How do your pets “help” you with your work? Is their attention welcome or aggravating? Do tell! Oh…and let’s have some fun in the comments. Suggest captions for the two pictures. :)

KarmaEditI love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered–post in the comments. 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, 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!

Why Won’t My Puppy Potty On Grass?

AlertToday’s Ask Amy has some basic puppy potty training tips, and answers the question, “Why won’t my puppy potty on grass?” Some poor pooches have no experience “being creative” on a proper surface, and they can become terrified and traumatized when faced with a new-to-them surface. Just imagine having to “go” so badly but being scared to do anything about it.


“Hey Amy! I’m pretty stumped and you’re the only dog expert I know. I recently rescued a Husky/Australian Shepherd that was kept 100 percent inside. He’s a super sweet puppy-named Loki–about five months old. They never let him out and he eliminated on a “trashcan lid” according to his owner. Now, he won’t eliminate outside unless it’s the last resort. He doesn’t go in the house… only on my concrete porch. Would you have any ideas on how to get him to make the transference from porch to grass? Dave”


This happens a lot with backyard breeders and puppy mill dogs. This poor pup may also have been punished for eliminating anywhere but on the trash can. So how would you handle this issue? Here’s my very brief reply…we can get into more detail in the comments, if y’all like.

Hi Dave, Congrats on the new puppy, Loki…poor fellow. The key here is two-fold. First, reward Loki for performing the behavior you want–eliminating in the right spot. To do that, figure out what he likes best–treats? toy?…and basically PAY him with a reward to do the right thing.

Second, make sure you transition slowly. Instead of forcing him onto the grass, give him some options so he naturally makes the choice you want. For instance, get a trashcan lid and place it first on the concrete porch–something familiar he already accepts. That way, he gets to be a “good dog” for going in the right place. And after that, gradually move the lid across the porch and eventually onto the grass in the yard. Once he’s in the yard, you can transition to the grass…maybe even making the trashcan lids smaller and smaller. Actually if he’s going to be a big dog, as he grows this may happen naturally.

Another thought, you could get some “puppy pee pads” used for house training. They smell “right” to the dog, and use those first on the porch and slowly move to the grass. Whether you use the trashcan lid or the pee pads, be sure Loki only gets the treats when he’s creative on the grass.

PuppyCareCoverSo folks, what about your suggestions. Have you ever had this situation of a dog refusing to use a designated area? How have you managed training for your new pups? Please share your tips in the comments–and feel free to add some SQUEEE! cute puppy pix, too. Of course, my forthcoming Complete Puppy Care book will include many more details on all-things-puppies. But here are the basics in this Ask Amy. :)

I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered–post in the comments. 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, 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!