Cat Writers & BlogPaws Rock the Pet World!

Amy Shojai Blogpaws Cup

I love coffee cups…and coffee! So this is perfect for me. The gift bag from WIPIN also included cat toys (yay!) and a fold-able lawn chair with a small pet shelter area beneath the seat. Very cool!

Cat Writers’ Association and BlogPaws joined furry forces for an historic combined conference benefiting writers and bloggers of all purr-suasions–and to enthusiastic applause by one and all! In the coming days and weeks, many of us will continue to shout out praises for the resulting brand and professional connections we’ve made and friendships found as a result of these two stellar organizations.

NEWS FLASH! Amazon Prime Day June 5 (save 40%, details here)

It’s taken me all week to write thank yous to all of the CWA sponsors, speakers and other movers-and-shakers and I still have a few left to contact. Yes, it takes that many individuals and entities to create something this paw-some. For those unable to attend, I wanted to offer my own experience, which may be a bit different than some attendees, since I was tasked with leading the CWA portion of the conference (with a LOT of help!).

WEDNESDAY PREP TIME

I arrived on Wednesday afternoon June 22, and connected with CWA Prez Marci Kladnik and banquet gift bag coordinator Susan Willett. We spent the afternoon tracking down the “swag” donated by our incredible CWA sponsors and putting everything together with the help of more members as they arrived. This was a great time to reconnect and get a ‘sneak peek’ at the goodies.

Later that afternoon, I met with a room full of expert bloggers at a “tea” sponsored by AAHA (American Animal Hospital Association). They shared some great information that I’ll pass on very soon. Later that evening, Petsmart hosted a welcome reception for all the early bird attendees.

THURSDAY KICK OFF

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Amy introduces CWA speakers. Copr Silver Paw Studio

The CWA’s publishing and promotion tracked ran on Thursday afternoon. Since this year I was CWA Conference Chair, it was my honor to introduce all our speakers.

Mark Coker of SMASHWORDS.com kicked everything off. His talk about best practices of best selling indie authors proved to be very popular. NYT bestselling cat book author, Gwen Cooper, followed with her story and tips for publishing with mainstream publishers–even if they “think” that cat books won’t sell. (Don’t tell that to Karma!). Gwen’s book about her blind cat Homer (along with many others) provide them wrong. Lea-Ann Germinder presented her final session of the day on PR and marketing for bloggers, writers and others to a standing-room only crowd. Mee-wow!

See more about speakers and recap here.

CWA Booth Cat Writers (2)

After the seminars, the exhibition hall opened. Several of our CWA members manned the booth during exhibit hours, as well as autographing their books. Many folks stopped by to learn more about our 24-year-old professional organization, and I expect we’ll gain some prestigious new members as a result.

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Relieved after the press conference! Image copr. Arden Moore

YAPPY HOUR & PRESS CONFERENCE

Late that afternoon, I spoke on behalf of CWA at the BlogPaws press conference that officially kicked off the event. Can you tell I’m nervous?! It helps to have lots of dogs, cats, ferrets and even a rattie or two in the crowd…*s*

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A “yappy hour” reception sponsored by Purina made all virtual tails wag, and was followed by opening events. Steve Dale presented the Winn Feline Foundation Award for journalistic excellence reporting on feline medical issues to Dr. Arnold Plotnick, a feline specialist, and three of the BlogPaws founders (Tom Collins, Chloe and Yvonne Divita) welcomed attendees numbering probably 400-500 (not counting their furry charges).

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FELINE FRIDAY EVENTS

CWA sessions continued with a stellar lineup of panels. Dr. Marty Becker (moderator), Dr. Elizabeth Colleran and Denise Fleck provided lots of content for bloggers and writers in their wide ranging discussion Fear Free Hot Topics for Pet-Centric Writers. Dr. Becker covered the “fear free” program he promotes to help pets visit vets without being scared; Dr. Colleran discussed the Cat Friendly Practice initiative and cat behavior issues; and Denise Fleck, a first and and pet disaster prep expert, offered great recommendations for keeping pets safe.

The final CWA session featured award winning blogger/writer Susan Willett moderating a panel of authors and editors, aimed at helping attendees get PAID for their work. Panelists included Lisa Beg-Kruysman, Lonnie Hull Dupont, Patricia Fry and Lynn Thompson.

Then I was invited to a brunch sponsored by Virbac, to learn more about fleas and intestinal worms and how Sentinel Spectrum works. Hey, we’re pet people, that’s what we do!

EXHIBIT HALL & CAT STYLE LOUNGE

More than 50 exhibitors offered information and samples (TREATS! TOYS! FOOD!). I finally had to politely decline any more samples, as I feared the plane wouldn’t be able to take off. Part of the exhibit area features cat-specific products in the “Cat Style Lounge” hosted by Kate Benjamin of Hausepanther. Many folks took advantage of entering drawings for some of these wonderful products and…look what I won!

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Hausepanther also hosted the “Happy Meow-ur” that evening. Later, many folks had fun glamming their pets up for the Pawject Runway hosted by Red Roof Inn, but I and many of the cat folks instead prepped for the BIGGEST NIGHT OF THE CWA YEAR–

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Kim Thornton presents Muse to to Amy for CAT FACTS. Copr. Jerry Thornton

CWA AWARDS BANQUET

The awards banquet honors published work in dozens of categories. This year I was honored to be nominated in 7 categories, and even more delighted to actually win a coveted Muse Medallion for my book CAT FACTS. The book also won a special award sponsored by the Cornell Feline Health Center. I’ve already blogged about this here, but wanted to share the pictures, too. It was a special night.

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Contest chair Arden Moore presents Cornell Award to Amy for CAT FACTS. Copr. Jerry Thornton

The CWA Banquet and seminar events were made possible by our incredible sponsors, led by Purina, GoodNewsForPets.com and PetSafe. I know that Prez Marci is already planning for 2017 so please message her through the CWA website for further info.

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Amy presents Shojai Mentor Award to Carole Nelson Douglas–Dusty Rainbolt accepts, with President Marci Kladnik. Copr. Jerry Thornton

As one of the founders of CWA, I also sponsor a special award that honors the member who has helped another through mentoring to achieve his or her professional goals. This year, I was excited to learn that my good friend Dusty Rainbolt (a former recipient of the award) had nominated a mutual friend, Carole Nelson Douglas (author of the Midnight Louie books and many others).

See more about the various award winners and contest sponsors here.

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President Marci Kladnik presents Amy with retirement bracelet. Copr. Jerry Thornton

AMY’S SURPRISE RETIREMENT GIFT

After serving the CWA as president for 24 years in several capacities, I announced my retirement from the Council. So after all the awards were given, President Marci Kladnik presented me with the most spectacular custom made charm bracelet, designed by CWA artist/writer member Wendy Christensen. Yes, I was floored!

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It has charms representing milestones in my CWA and writing life, from my cats and dogs, to book covers, a tiny type writer and open book, roses, cello, comedy/tragedy mask, the Muse Medallion and CWA logo and more. I will treasure and wear this with deep joy for the rest of my life.

2016-06-25 14.35.02SATURDAY BLOGPAWS

Throughout the weekend, BlogPaws also held fantastic sessions and Saturday I had time to finally spend time with all the wonderful offerings. These included keynote addresses, one-on-one discussions, and a book signing event.

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I also spent a lovely lunch time with the Hill’s Pet Food folks, learning more about the benefits of specific nutrition for our cats and dogs. And yes, I shared my table with a very friendly rattie!

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Deb Barnes & Amy Shojai on the red carpet. Copr. Silver Paw Studio

Deb Barnes & Amy Shojai on the red carpet. Copr. Silver Paw Studio

The finale that evening highlighted the BlogPaws “Nose-to-Nose” nominees and announced the winners in a variety of blogging categories. The red carpet and photo op is great fun, because the PETS get to strut their stuff. You ain’t lived until you’ve seen a glam cat tricked out in formal wear, or a ferret rocking a gemstone leash. The banquet was yummy and the entire evening was sponsored by Natural Balance and Nature’s Recipe. Pet people and pet companies really know how to throw a paw-ty!

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SWAG-SWAG-WAGGITY-PURTASTIC-SWAG!!!

Between the CWA Banquet gift bags, the BlogPaws swag bags, the speaker tote with gifts (from Women In the Pet Industry), and all the samples from the exhibitors, I could not carry everything home. So without opening the bags (really, I had no time at all while there!) I stuffed everything into a big box, and shipped the 30-pound package home.

You heard right…30 POUNDS!

Today (Sunday July 3) I finally opened the box. And here’s what happened.

I will try to personally thank as many sponsors and donors as possible but honestly, it will take several weeks. My pets and I are incredibly grateful. The pet industry truly cares about cats and dogs (and ferrets, hamsters, birds, all-critters). And I am very pleased to be a part of it.

So for all you folks who attended the CWA and BlogPaws events–what was your favorite part? Please share! For me (even though I love the swag) the best part was meeting new folks and reconnecting with friends and colleagues. Can you hear my purrrrrrr?


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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!

Help for Pet Firework Fears: 10 Tips For Your Scared Dog & Fraidy Cat

Trembling, crouching, and lip licking can be signs of fear.

Trembling, crouching, and lip licking can be signs of fear.

I write about pet fireworks fears every year at this time. But each of these 10 tips for your scared dog or cat can make a positive difference in your best friend’s life. It HURTS to be frightened, and makes us feel bad when pets are upset.

Fireworks from July 4th celebration may be festive to you, but can turn your pets into nervous wrecks. More cats and dogs—and even livestock like horses—become lost on this day than any other when pets panic, go through windows, break tethers and leap fences.

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Scared cats crouch and may hide under the bed.

Even safely contained pets shiver, moan, and feel worse with each noisy boom. You may not see quivering scaredy-cats but the stress from noise phobia increases risk of hit-or-miss litter box behavior.

It can take weeks or even months for desensitization and counter-conditioning techniques to teach fearful pets that noises won’t hurt them. With July 4th right around the corner, refer to these 10 tips for more immediate help.

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Throw a “thunder-party” with treats for each “boom.”

10 Tips For Pet Fireworks Fears

  • Scared animals calm themselves down by squeezing into tight spots and hiding their eyes. For instance, your dog wriggles between the sofa and wall, while kitty hides her face in your armpit. Offer your pets safe hiding place and let them be.
  • Avoid sympathetic baby-talk that rewards the fear. When you get upset or coddle your cat and dog during fireworks, you tell them they have good reason to be scared. Instead, be matter of fact. When it “booms” you can acknowledge the noise, “That was loud. But it doesn’t bother me, see? It shouldn’t bother you.”
  • Anti-anxiety training tools can help. Anxiety Wrap and Thundershirt are types of dog “vests” the pet wears that apply pressure to his body, and seem to calm fear in pets. They have Thundershirt for cats, too.
  • Cover up the sound with white noise. Use a white noise machine or a radio tuned to static works well.
  • Play soothing music. Harp music has a unique sedative effect on pets, because the rhythms and sounds mimic brain waves and help calm the fear. Harp music may prompt you to nap, too. I’m a fan of PetPause.
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Get kitty “drunk” on catnip…

  • Pheromone products also relieve fear and anxiety in pets. Comfort Zone with DAP (dog appeasing pheromone) works well for noise-phobic dogs—it’s produced by mom-dogs when they nurse pups and sooths dogs of any age. The product for cats, Feliway, relieves the cat’s anxiety about her territory because it’s similar to the cheek-pheromone that relieves kitty stress. Both DAP and Feliway come as sprays or plug-in diffusers and the dog product also comes as a collar. The spray can be used every one to two hours on bedding or a bandana the pet wears. You can also get the Sentry Calming Collars for both dogs and cats that also use the mother’s pheromone.
  • Just as human babies may be soothed by a car ride, a road trip may soothe pets that enjoy the car and take their mind off the noise. Just be sure your cat or dog LIKES car rides, and is safely secured in a carrier or restraint in the back seat during the ride.
  • The brain can’t think when in a state of panic. But the opposite holds true as well—when thinking, the brain won’t go nutso and turn your pet into a shrieking escape artist. So just before the fireworks start, drill your dog—or your cat—on favorite commands and tricks with lots of special yummy rewards or games. Continue the games throughout and throw a happy-dance party for him staying calm.
  • Whatever you do, be sure that your precious pet stays safe. Bring outdoor pets inside the garage or the house during the July 4th Provide a crate or confinement in a pet-proofed room.
  • Move horses into secure fenced areas—or better—barns that will safely contain a frantic animal without chance of injury. And just in case, be sure all your precious pets are microchipped or have other permanent and reliable identification for recovery if they do the desperado dash when the rocket’s red glare fill the sky.

Now it’s your turn. Do you have a dog or cat that hates fireworks? How do you manage the angst? Any stories you can share about a July 4th pet fiasco? Please share!


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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!

Thriller Thursday: John Stamp & Shattered Circle #ITWBlog

Chills, thrills and spills with Thriller Thursday by Amy Shojai

Chills, thrills and spills with Thriller Thursday by Amy Shojai

THRILLER THURSDAY is a new occasional feature of Bling, Bitches & Blood. As a member of International Thriller Writers and alumni of the ITW Debut Author Program, it is my honor to showcase select ITW authors and books participating in the ITW Bloggers Program. If you love reading great books as much as I do, check out my Spotlight Guest John Stamp! 

Hey there Sweet Peeps! Let me introduce you to John Stamp and his latest paranormal thriller. This sounds like my kind of read!

Shattered Circle follows a cop who doesn’t believe in what he can’t see, monsters don’t go bump in the night people do. Then he is confronted with a front page triple murder with suspected ties to blood magic. He refuses to believe or even consider the idea of the supernatural until those things that go bump in the night start coming for him.

John Stamp Shattered CircleSYNOPSIS

Jackson Cole is a newly minted homicide detective thrown head first into the grinder when he is ordered to investigate the grisly murder of three women, each adorned with seemingly occult symbols.

The press is stirring up a killer cult frenzy in the media. The mayor, the Chief of Police, and Cole’s Captain want results to calm an increasingly fearful public; and Cole’s supposed partner is nowhere to be found. It’s just another day at the office until a stranger shows up spouting a wild theory: blood magic.

Cole won’t even consider it. There is no such thing as magic, no such thing as voodoo; and there are no demons roaming the Charleston Peninsula. There’s always a rational explanation for the evil humans commit upon one another.

Then a demon tries to take Cole’s head off.

How do you stop a supernatural evil, something ancient and unencumbered by the laws of either physics or man? Especially when all you bring to the fight is a pistol and a pair of handcuffs.

If Jackson Cole wants this case to close he will need to open his mind to a world of the impossible. A world he never knew existed, until now. Then he’ll have to survive it.


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John Stamp was a Special Agent of the NCIS and the FBI. He also served as a Police Officer, Narcotics Investigator, and Hostage Negotiator for the City of Charleston Police Department, Charleston, SC. He grew up in the Fingerlakes region of Upstate New York and no resides in Coastal Georgia with his wife, son, and pair of monsters (Dogs).

John has written two crime novels: Brother’s Keeper, Spoilers, and Shattered Circle, a paranormal thriller which was released in March 2016.

CONNECT WITH THE AUTHOR & HIS BOOKS


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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!

Tapeworm Trouble? #SentinelSpectrum Solves Parasite Problems #ad

Protect dogs against tapeworm

We live on 13 acres in N. Texas so protecting Magic from parasites and tapeworms is job one!

This is the third installment in a series of blog posts covering dog parasites, and year round prevention, in which I’ve discussed fleas, heartworm and other common “buggy” pests as well as a recommended parasiticide. In today’s post, we’re looking more closely at tapeworm trouble (ew!).


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.


NIXING TAPEWORM TROUBLE

You can read a brief overview of common dog parasites here. And you’ll find more specifics about fleas, heartworms and year round treatment in this post, which also asked for your feedback in a survey. Today, I get to share some of the results of that survey, in a very kewl info-graphic, below.

I was really pleased to read some of these results, because it shows the majority of y’all take pet parasite problems seriously!

  • 80% of respondents said that heartworm protection was either a High or Very High priority to them as pet parents.
  • 84% of respondents said that flea protection was either a High or Very High priority for them as a pet parent.
  • 79% of respondents said that they provide their dog flea prevention all year long whereas 20% said that they only provide flea prevention during the spring and summer months.
  • 70% of respondents said that a dog can contract tapeworms from ingesting just one infested flea.
  • 90% of respondents said that tapeworm segments can be found near a dog’s anus, in feces and/or where he lives and sleeps.
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Image courtesy of DepositPhotos.com

UNDERSTANDING TAPEWORM TROUBLE

Dogs can contract tapeworm from ingesting fleas during self grooming, or eating a dead animal. I remember our first Sheltie when I was a child was diagnosed with rabbit tapeworm (yikes!) because the horrible backyard breeder my parents got her from had simply tossed dead rabbits out to the dogs to eat.

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Grass is the coolest spot to lounge but also offers fleas a place to dine on the dog.

Called proglottids, tapeworms are composed of segments linked together like a chain. The head of the tapeworm, called the scolex or holdfast, is equipped with hooks and suckers that are used to anchor itself to the wall of the small intestine. There is no mouth as such; in fact tapeworms don’t even have a digestive system. Instead, nutrients are absorbed through the segmented body.

The parasite continuously grows new segments that are added from the neck down. Adult worms continue to add segments as long as they live, sometimes attaining lengths of two feet or more composed of hundreds of segments.

WORM REPRODUCTION

Each proglottid contains both male and female reproductive organs. When mature, the segment produces up to 200 eggs. Segments furthest from the scolex are most mature, and once “ripe” they are shed from the worm’s body, and pass in the feces.

Once outside the body, each segment can move independently like tiny inchworms, but when dry they look like grains of rice. Infested dogs typically have segments stuck to the hair surrounding the anal area, or in their bedding.

Eventually, the segments dry and rupture, releasing the eggs they contain into the environment. 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. The life cycle is complete in two to four weeks.

MEDICAL CONCERNS

Tapeworms are rarely a medical problem, and are usually considered an unpleasant annoyance. The moving proglottids may cause irritation to the anal region, which may prompt dogs to excessively lick themselves or “scoot” their rear against the floor or ground.

Without treatment, however, massive tapeworm infestations potentially interfere with digesting food and/or elimination. Puppies may suffer intestinal blockage should too many worms become suspended the length of the intestinal tract. Also, the hooks of the holdfast can damage the intestinal wall. Diarrhea with mucus and occasionally blood may be signs of tapeworm infestation. Long-term infestation can result in an unkempt, dry-looking coat and generally unhealthy appearance, and reduced energy.

Using an appropriate paraciticide for year round prevention is one of the best ways to protect dogs from both fleas AND tapeworms.

GROSS ALERT!!! Check out the video, below, for a reminder of the types of worms that products like SENTINEL® SPECTRUM® prevent. Magic loves taking his as a treat each month!

Scroll down to see the info-graphic, too. And don’t forget to ask your veterinarian if SENTINEL® SPECTRUM® is right for your dog. Check out the rebate offer here!

INFOGRAPHIC

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

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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!

Lei Crime Kindle Worlds Launch Prizes: Kindle Oasis, Books & Bling!

FACEBOOK MADE US MOVE THE PARTY!

Click HERE to enter the Rafflecopter, too on the BookRhythm page.

KW-Party-Giveaway

CLICK HERE & JOIN THE
LEI CRIME KINDLE WORLDS LAUNCH PARTY!

Come meet the newest Lei Crime Kindle Worlds novella authors at the Facebook Party and get a chance to win PAW-some prizes, including a Kindle Oasis package, Books & Bling! Check out the picture above . . . Lei Crime Kindle World

Amy Shojai's Lost And Found Thrillerrhinestonejewelry_2271_50200166

I’ll be giving away a PAW-tographed copy of LOST AND FOUND, as well as some pet-centric bling. My fellow partners in crime fiction will also offer prizes and books and more. And you’ll get to learn about a wide range of novellas inspired by Toby Neal’s Lei Crime series.

Mysteries, thrillers, romance, urban fantasy–and some furry thrills with my own BORN TO LOVE. I can’t wait for the party to start–hope you’ll join us, it’s going to be PAW-some!

Here’s another link to a recent blog with more information.  See ya at the party!


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I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Please note that I earn a small percentage from affiliate links to books or other products which are mentioned from time to time in my posts. 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!