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Cat Wants Outside: Stop Door Dashing Cat Escapes

Cat Wants Outside: Stop Door Dashing Cat Escapes

It’s the time of year when the new kitten is SURE she’s missing out–and so makes a mad door dashing escape to find out about the great outdoors. In my neck of the woods, that’s a recipe for disaster (and the coyotes). There are ways to keep outside cats safe in this post.

This topic always gets lots of attention. Note: This information and more is available in the ComPETablity: Cats book, too. And should the unthinkable happen, refer to this post about how to find lost pets.

My Cat Wants Outside

There is a saying, that a cat is “always on the wrong side of a door.” My cat Seren(dipity) faithfully adhered to this principle, although with age, her dash-for-the-door became more like a stroll. Karma-Kat these days waits for the dog’s potty time, and makes a bee-line for the door. When you live with a cat, chances are you’ll have a door dashing cat escape now and then.

Dealing with door dashing cats is particularly frustrating for owners. Even when Kitty understands that a particular location (the doorway) is forbidden, she may avoid the place when you’re looking but making a zooming escape as soon as visitors arrive and the door cracks a whisker-width open. Kitties easily get scared with unusual circumstances–storms or fireworks, or howling neighbor dogs. And with a flick of the tail, your cat slinks out the door and disappears.

What can you do? Recognize you will NOT stop a cat’s urge to see on the other side of the door. You cannot change instinct, but you can modify some of these irksome behaviors.

How to Stop Door Dashing Cats

Encourage her to stay away from danger zones with training techniques. Any time you see the cat lounging near the doorway, use an interruption such as a loud “SSST!” or clapped hands to shoo her away. The idea is to make the doorway area unappealing, so that kitty keeps away—and offer her a more rewarding pastime.

Some cats are dissuaded with the help of a long-distance squirt gun aimed at their backside. However, some cats like my Seren enjoy being sprayed. Other cats become too frightened, or even switch to aggression with such techniques. Also, you must always be there for this to work. Cats typically see you pick up the spray bottle, and behavior only when you’re within sight, and look for other times and ways to door dash. Frankly, the spray isn’t all that effective and can do damage to your relationship. There are better ways.

Cute funny cat walking through door at home

Tips to Keep Cats Away from Doorways

Make the entry way unfriendly. Many cats dislike the feeling of walking on aluminum foil, so place a couple of sheets over the walkway. Or use Sticky Paws (double-sided tape) to make the surface uncomfortable. Put the Sticky Paws on placemats positioned on the forbidden area, so it’s easily removed. You can also use clear plastic floor mats placed spike-side up so the cat will avoid the area.

The SSSCAT is a cat-repellent device that sprays a hiss of air to startle the pet that triggers the built-in motion detector—you don’t have to be present for it to work. You may also use smell deterrents to keep the cat away from forbidden doorway zones. Cats dislike citrus smells, so orange or lemon scents sprayed at the bottom of the door may help.

introduce dogs to catsOffer Kitty Legal Alternatives to the Doorway Dash

Many cats adore doorway areas to watch the comings and goings, and they often perch on furniture or windows nearby. While you can make these spots unappealing, consider it’s not fair and also nearly impossible to forbid a much loved activity. Offer her legal outlets that are more attractive than the forbidden zones, and she’ll naturally choose to lounge there and abandon the doorway dash.

Position a cat tree or kitty bed on a table top right in front of a window some distance away from the forbidden door. Make this the most wonderful cat lounge spot ever—hide catnip or food treats in the bed, for example. Before you go out the door, make a point of giving your cat the best-treat-in-the-world, but only if she’s on this cat tree/bed (a safe distance from the door). While she munches, you can make a safe exist. Enlist help from friends to knock at the door or ring the doorbell to practice, so arrivals also make kitty think, “Hey, it’s TREAT time!”

cat behaviorKarma-Kat’s World

Choose your battles and perhaps allow her to lounge on the television as long as she leaves the doorway alone. Karma enjoys his multilevel cat tree by a window on the same wall as the front door. He can watch all comings and goings from the window—and gets paid with a treat for planting his furry tail and staying put.

Karma also loves sitting on the stained glass kitchen table, to watch through the windows and chatter at the birds and squirrels. But when Shadow-Pup takes his potty break from the back door in the kitchen, though, Karma stays out of the kitchen. We close our pet gates to keep him out, and Karma safe.

Do your cats beg to go outside? Perhaps you have a terrific safe outside kitty playground–how did you create it? What are safety tips or training advice that have worked with your cat? The Ask Amy video below has some suggestions, too.

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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? NOTE: Some links to books or other products may be to affiliates, from which I may earn a small percentage of sales, but I do not recommend anything unless I feel it would benefit readers. 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!

Heart-to-Heart About Dog Heartworms & Mosquitoes

Heart-to-Heart About Dog Heartworms & Mosquitoes

Mosquitoes swarm these days when I work in the garden. I worry about dog heartworms with the increase of these buggy pests. Are your dogs protected? Do you know how dogs get heartworm? Read on!heartworms and mosquitoes

I hate mosquitos not only because they’re itchy aggravation, but these nasty vampires spread deadly dog heartworms. That can make your dog sick or worse—it could kill her. Dogs are the natural host–but they also can affect cats–and heartworms have been a problem at least since 1922 when they were first discovered. Today heartworms are found all over the world.

The heartworm Dirofilaria immitis belongs to a group of parasites called filarids, and is a type of roundworm. They live in the right heart chambers and pulmonary arteries—the lungs—of infected dogs. As you can imagine, lungs and heart filled with worms can damage and interfere with normal organ function. You won’t be able to tell if your puppy has heartworms. You can’t see them the way you can fleas or ticks. And your dog won’t even act sick until she’s been infected for quite a while.

cute funny dog running on the grass with stick

Hunting dogs that spend lots of time outdoors are at highest risk.

DOG HEARTWORMS

Despite the availability of effective and easy to use heartworm preventive options, the disease appears to be on the rise. In just two years, from 2013-2015, there was a 166 percent increase in reported positive heartworm cases, according to the Companion Animal Parasite Council (CAPC). Additionally, the American Heartworm Society (AHS) has tracked the geographic spread of heartworm disease to all 50 states and its increased prevalence in several regions of the country.

So what’s a pet parent to do?

UPDATE ABOUT DOG HEARTWORMS & MOSQUITOES

A groundbreaking study by John McCall, MS, PhD addresses this concern. He investigated the effectiveness of stopping heartworm disease at the buggy transmission source. His research shows that a multi-modal approach (adding mosquito repellents and insecticides alongside standard heartworm preventive protocols), offers even better protection for our dogs.

I first reported on this study back in Fall 2016. The study, sponsored by CEVA, explored the efficacy of a new “Double Defense” protocol. John McCall is a professor emeritus in the Department of Infectious Diseases at the University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine. After fighting heartworm the same way for decades, McCall says it’s time for a new approach that includes fighting the mosquito as well as the heartworm.

PREVENTING VS TREATING HEARTWORMS

Preventives that address heartworms are one important part of canine health care. But until recently, preventing the vector (mosquito) hasn’t gotten the attention it deserves, according to Byron Blagburn, MS, PhD, DAVCM, a professor of parasitology,, researcher, and author of the mosquito control guidelines.

The Companion Animal Parasite Council (CAPC) included more information on how to control mosquitoes, adding science-based evidence to these guidelines on mosquito control. New recommendations include choosing heartworm and parasite prevention products that also address the mosquito menace. Several canine products are available, and you should consult with your veterinarian for the best choices for your individual dogs and circumstances.

According to the Heartworm Incidence Survey from the American Heartworm Society, the average number of dogs diagnosed per clinic in 2016 rose by 21.7 percent over 2013 numbers (date of the last survey). AHS president and veterinarian Dr. Christopher Rehm says that the distribution of cases hasn’t dramatically changed, 24% of respondents said the average number of positive dogs has increased since 2013.

2021 Heartworm Predictions–Keep Dogs Safe!

Heartworm map

LEARN MORE ABOUT DOG HEARTWORMS

Please ask YOUR veterinarian about how you can best protect your dogs from mosquitoes and dog heartworms. Learn more about Dr. McCall’s CEVA-funded study in this short video.

Several years ago, I interviewed Dr. Wallace Graham about prevention, treatment and more in my Pet Peeves radio show. Much of this information is still valid, so find out more about how to keep cats and dogs safe from heartworm disease in PET PEEVES, HEART-TO-HEART ABOUT HEARTWORMS.

For more about parasite prevention, refer to this post.


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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? NOTE: Some links to books or other products may be to affiliates, from which I may earn a small percentage of sales, but I do not recommend anything unless I feel it would benefit readers. 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!

Kitten Litter Box Training: How to Potty Train Cats

Kitten Litter Box Training: How to Potty Train Cats

Kitten litter box training tops the list for frequently asked questions from new kitten owners. Planning ahead can save cat lovers lots of heartache by preventing litter box problems before they happen with kitten potty training..

Cats are very smart. They usually teach US rather than the other way around. Here’s how to trick train your tabby.

Whenever new kittens come to your home, it’s important to figure out what they know, plus help them learn the new rules of the house. When you have other cats (after proper cat introductions, of course!) the older felines can help teach the youngsters the rules. How to train cats to the litter box usually comes naturally, but these tips can help with potty training your cat.

potty train cats

How to Potty Train Cats with Kitten Litter Box Training

Congratulations on your new kitten adoption! Most cats come pre-programmed to use the potty but you’ll need help if the baby is very young. Felines are great imitators and simply “copy cat” their mother’s behavior when they watch and follow her to the litter box. Most kittens and cats will already know what a litter box is for and how to use it by the time you adopt them.

But if you hand-raise an orphan or adopt a kitten younger than 8 to 10 weeks, you’ll need to do the job of the mother cat. Transitioning outdoor cats to an indoor lifestyle also may mean re-training bathroom etiquette from “going” among the flowers to aiming for the litter box. Check out the Ask Amy video below, and you’ll find more of the basics here.

Kitten Litter Box Training Preparation

LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION! Felines are naturally clean creatures and dislike eliminating where they sleep or eat. They also appreciate privacy when (ahem) doing their duty. Build allegiance to the litter box by positioning it correctly, in a low-traffic area away from the cat’s bed and food bowls. Also remember that kittens may not have the physical capacity to “hold it” long enough to run clear across the house or down the stairs. Provide a box on each end of the house, or one per floor.

SIZE MATTERS. A regular size box may be too large for new kittens to climb in and out. A disposable cookie sheet works until he’s bigger. Average size adult cats do well with standard commercial litter pans, but jumbo-size cats (Maine Coon kitties come to mind!) may need larger toilets or risk hanging over the sides when they pose. Translucent plastic storage bins with a cat-size hole cut in one side may be ideal.

FILLER ‘ER UP WITH…WHAT? A variety of cat box fillers are available, from plain clay to pine pellets and recycled wheat or corn crumbles. The ideal material absorbs moisture, contains waste and odor, and most important of all, suits the cat. Fine textures such as the “clumping” clay litters seem to be the feline favorite. Fill the box an inch or so deep with the filler. Learn about the history of litter here.

If you’re transitioning an outdoor cat to an indoor box, do a bit of research and follow him to find out his preferred substrate. Changing litter too fast can prompt hit or miss potty behavior. Dusting a bit of plain garden dirt, or a layer of grass or leaves over top of the commercial litter may help give him the idea of what you have in mind. Give your cat what he wants and kitten litter box training will be a breeze! And if you already have other pets, you may want to invest in a pet gate or pet door to control the space in your house.

itter box training

Kitten Litter Box Training: How to Potty Train Cats

Get all the MUST KNOWS for your new kitten in the book!

Kittens and cats new to your home won’t know where the box is, even if they know what it’s for. Place the kitty on top of the clean litter and scratch around with your fingers to prompt imitation. Even if the cat doesn’t need to “go,” a pristine box often tempts them to dig a bit, which may lead to the first deposit.

When he’s creative in the box, reward your cat with verbal praise, a toy, or even a tasty treat reserved only for training. Don’t pick your new kitty up out of the box. Let him make his own way out of the box and the room, so he’ll better remember how to get back there the next time nature calls.

For tiny kittens, leave one recent deposit in the box after he’s been productive. The scent is a reminder of where the box is, and what he’s supposed to do once he’s there. But remember to keep the box clean or the cat will avoid the dirty toilet and find a better spot—such as under your bed.

Remember, very young kittens won’t have the capacity to “hold it” for very long. Refer to this post on kitten development stages for more information. Remember that spaying or neutering your baby cat greatly reduces the chance they’ll spray urine in the future.

Create a Cat Potty Training Schedule

Until you’re sure the kitty consistently uses the box, make a point of scheduling potty times. Kittens need to eliminate more frequently than adults do. Take the baby for a pit stop after each nap, meal, and play period. Playtime is fun for kittens–and you! Learn more about how pets play here.

Teaching basic bathroom allegiance from the beginning ensures your kitten gets off on the right paw—and saves your carpet. You’ll find even more of kitten “must knows” in the book Complete Kitten Care.  Have you ever had problems training kittens to “go” in the right spot? How did you manage?

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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!

Cat to Cat Introductions: Introducing Cats

Cat to Cat Introductions: Introducing Cats

Whenever a new cat arrives, cat to cat introductions take over. We base cat training on kitten behavior to get the most out of the learning process. Each spring heralds that lovely time of the year for happy surprises, and that may mean a new kitten in your holiday plans. If that’s you, and you already have a feline, prepare in advance for cat introductions of the resident feline to the new baby. Many times, shelters and rescue groups recommend adopting PAIRS of kitties. That way, if the cats already know each other — or the kittens are littermates — they help entertain and soothe each other. Instead of chasing and attacking your feet, they target each other.

But what if you have a resident cat and a new kitty shows up? How do cat to cat introductions work when introducing cats to kittens, or adult cats to cats? If you’re introducing a dog to a cat, find tips here.

It can be heartbreaking when the cats you love don’t get along. Proper introductions help enormously to soothe the angst.

cat introductions

Cat Introductions

One of the most common questions I get involves cat introductions and introducing cats (new ones) to the resident felines. I’ve got some pet introductions information in several of my books, and it actually works! Authors adore getting notes from readers, like the one I received from a writer colleague, Carol Johnson, who is an assistant professor of English at Tulsa Community College. She’d had some problems integrating her newest kitty friend  with the rest of the cat household:

“Thanks to you Barney is still here. I’ve raised dozens of cats, from wild barn cats to purebreds, but he was the most fearful, traumatized little guy I’ve ever seen. I read your book on kitten care and in two weeks he was out from under the bed. Two more weeks and he’s terrorizing the other four. I’ll be two more weeks and he’ll own the place. Every last one of the previous cats has taken to him, and I followed your advice about a room of his own and introducing them slowly.” She’s posted a more detailed (and very flattering!) review on amazon.com.

YAY!!! Carol’s note made my day that information in Complete Kitten Care made such a positive difference. The book covers lots more of course about choosing, adoption options, caring for, and raising the furry baby to be the best cat friend possible. These cat introduction tips work no matter what age kitty you have.

Why Cat Introductions Are Vital, or YOU SMELL FUNNY!

Getting hissy with strange cats is a NORMAL cat behavior. In the wild, the feline that’s too friendly with a weird interloper risks getting eaten. Cats identify safe people (or other pets) by their familiar smell. A fresh-from-the-shelter a new pet that hasn’t been kitty-groomed by the group with licks and cheek rubs might as well be Frankenstein-Cat. Learn more about scared cats here.

The sight, sound, and smell of a strange cat pushes kitty buttons to extreme. But blocking one sense (sight of each other for example) reduces arousal. That helps enormously during cat-to-cat intros, which is one reason my must-do list includes initially separating the cats. That also allows your older cat to maintain run of the house and ownership of all the prime kitty real estate.

You can learn more about easing the transition in multi-cat households (with a DISCOUNTED EBOOK) in the ComPETability: Cats book.

Introducing Cats Requires a Room Of Her Own

Confine the new kitten in a single “safe room” so the resident cat understands only part of his territory has been invaded. Young kittens that haven’t a clue anyway won’t care. But if they’re the least shy, being sequestered offers a safe, soothing retreat with a litter box, food and water bowls, toys, scratch post and other kitty paraphernalia. Being the “new kid” can be stressful for shrinking violet kittens so build the baby’s confidence with a room of his or her own before the whisker-to-whisker meeting.

Keep the solid door closed for at least a week before risking a face-to-face. Watch for your resident cat’s reaction. Hisses are normal. Trust me on this! It may take more than three weeks before those growly-sounds fade.

See, if you try to intro them too soon and the fur flies, the cats will remember that AWFUL-NASTY-TURRIBLE-DEVIL and bring a bad c’attitude to future meetings. It’s better to take it slow and avoid having the kitties practice bad behavior. They’ll have a lifetime together so what’s a delay of a few days or weeks?

Sniffing and paw pats underneath the door are positive signs. The cats should “know” each other by scent before they ever set eyes on each other. Expect normal posturing, fluffed fur and hissing and when that begins to fade, you’re ready for the next step. Note that kittens can seem aggressive but are just playing. Learn more here.

THE NEXT STEP WITH CAT INTRODUCTIONS

Swap out the cats after a few days. That gives the old cat a chance to get up close and personal sniffing where the devil new cat has been. And it allows the newly adopted baby to scope out the environment. Kitties have no interest in meeting new people or pets unless they feel comfortable with their environment.

Reduce any potential kitty controversy by creating a house of plenty. Your home should have so much good-kitty-stuff like lots of toys, litter boxes and scratch trees that there’s no need for the kitten and old cat to argue over it.

Nose to Nose At Last! What to Expect When Introducing Cats

Once the BIG DAY arrives, just open the “safe room” door, stand back, and let the cat’s meet. You can do this using pet gates or pet doors, and then later open the door completely. Supervise, of course, but don’t force interaction. You can feed them on opposite sides of the room or play interactive games at a distance to smooth this first meeting. The cats may ignore each other for hours or days and that’s fine, too.

A bit of posturing with hisses, cautionary swats and other snark-icity is to be expected. Learn more about cat aggression here. And find out about how kitten develop affects c’attitude in this post.

Do stop the interactions if growls start rumbling. You may want to replace the closed door with a baby gate so the cats can sniff and meet through the safety of a barrier but still be segregated. Until you’re sure the old cat won’t mangle the baby, or the baby won’t terrorize the oldster, supervise or keep the new kitten segregated when you can’t. It can be love at first sight or may take weeks or months to accept somebody new into the family.

Do your cats get along? What do they think of the new kittens? What has been your experience? And how did you come up with your new kitten’s name? (tips here for choosing kitty names.) Please share! And I hope you’ll share this blog with other cat lovers debating about adopting another kitty. You can find many more cat introduction tips and tricks in the book Complete Kitten Care.

 

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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? NOTE: Some links to books or other products may be to affiliates, from which I may earn a small percentage of sales, but I do not recommend anything unless I feel it would benefit readers. 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!

Celebrating Old Dogs: What Is Old?

Celebrating Old Dogs: What Is Old?

Each November, we celebrate old dogs during their “official” month. But when is your dog considered old? We love our senior citizen dogs for the special joy they bring every day. But once a year, we celebrate old dogs during November Adopt A Senior Pet Month. Here are 8 reasons to consider adopting a senior pet.

I’ve already posted about celebrating old cats. It’s time to give equal time to old dogs. I’ve written about how to care for an elderly dog before, but this post addresses how to know when your canine friends become old dogs.

I’ve updated some of the information from when it first published back when my Magical-Dawg and Seren-Kitty were still around.

old dogs

Magic was just over eleven years old when he passed away, and my first GSD lived to thirteen and a half. One is middle-aged and the other considered geriatric, and a lot of it has to do with the size of the pet. When our furry friends reach a “certain age” it becomes much more important to stay on top of changes, and just keep ’em comfy during their golden years.

My first GSD (below) launched my pet-writing career. He waited until we got home from work, and died with us beside him, on Halloween night. I still miss him.

old dogs

How Old are Old Dogs?

What is considered “old?” There are individual differences between pets, just as there are for people. While one person may act, look and feel “old” at fifty-five, another fifty-five-year-old remains active with a youthful attitude and appearance. Aging is influenced by a combination of genetics, environment, and health care over a lifetime. The oldest dog on record was an Australian Cattle Dog who lived for twenty-nine years and five months.

A good definition of old age for an animal is the last 25 percent of her life. However, we can’t accurately predict what an individual pet’s lifespan will be, so pinpointing when old age begins is tough. Ask the breeder about the lifespan of your pet’s parents and grandparents. That’s a good predictor of how long you could expect your cat or dog to live. Mixed-ancestry pets are more difficult to predict, but you can make a few generalities.

old dog

How to Predict Old Dogs Lifespan

In the past fifty years, the average lifespan of small dogs like the Maltese above, has tripled. They used to live to be only six or seven years old, but today it’s not unusual for your Chihuahua to live into late teens or early twenties. With an average potential lifespan of fifteen to seventeen years, the onset of old age—when a little dog becomes “senior”—would be about age eleven to thirteen.

Even large-breed dogs, which age more quickly, commonly reach ten to thirteen years of age—double the lifespan of the past few decades. They would, therefore, be considered old starting at about seven years.

Giant breed dogs (those weighing over eighty pounds or so) tend to age more quickly than smaller pets. Great Danes, for example, are considered “senior” at age five, and typically live only seven to nine years. There are exceptions, of course, with some very large dogs living healthy, happy lives well into their teens. Though he’s no longer a puppy, Bravo (below) weighs just over 100 pounds (he lost 20 pounds when he lost his leg to cancer). As a “giant” breed, we tried to keep him happy and healthy as long as possible. Although his chemo treatment slowed his disease we cherished every day as a win!

bullmastiff puppy

Old Dogs & Youthful Doggedness?

So you have an old fogey doggy–how do you keep him youthful? What happens when that go-go-go puppy attitude turns into a yen for snoozing the day away? Dogs can become frustrated when their youthful abilities fade away and they’re no longer able to leap tall buildings–or onto sofas–with a single bound, or chase the Frisbee and catch it without effort. They may suffer from brain aging, but you can reverse or slow senility with these tips.

old dogs

I have one word for you: ACCOMMODATION.

Enrich the dog’s environment and make accommodations for his new skill set. Agility dogs can still perform all those tricks of fetch and vault, just lower the bar a bit. For blind dogs, put a bell inside the ball or scent with liverwurst so his nose knows where to find it. For deaf dogs, you can use hand signals and replace the clicker with a flashlight beam flicking on and off.

I have a boatload of more tips and advice in the book Complete Care for Your Aging Dog.

What about your old dogs–what games do they love? Have you made accommodations for their aging abilities? Please share!

I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. 

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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!

 

Have You Howled Today? Why Dogs Howl & What it Means

Have You Howled Today? Why Dogs Howl & What it Means

Do your dogs howl? Lately, Magical-Dawg has begun howling more often. For northern breeds, dog howling comes very naturally, but for my aging German Shepherd, his howls are more unusual. Oh, he’s always howled when I sing certain notes (everyone’s a critic!), and the coyotes sing a chorus when the tornado sirens sound. This was different.

WHY DOGS HOWL

Magic began a low “ar-ooooo-woo-woo” and slowly cranked it up. This happened early in the morning, before we’d got up. My husband and I figured he needed out–he did–and didn’t pay that much attention to it. But then Magic also howled outside the bathroom door when my husband showered. He came into the room and howled during my shower, too.

This went on for three or four days, just prior to his yearly veterinary exam. We’d been a bit worried about some of Magic’s aging issues anyway (read about his check up in this post). And I now realize I never mentioned the howling to the vet.

But…once Magic was given medication for his achy 10-year-old arthritic issues, the howling stopped. Lesson learned–howling may be MORE than the “usual suspects,” which I cover in the short Ask Amy video, below. Enjoy!

Dogs bark and howl to communicate–so what’s he saying?

Do You Speak Dog?

Dogs know how to communicate. You gotta go “low tech” to really connect with doggy wags, growls, whines and more. Do your dogs howl? When do they howl–and why? Have you howled today? Try it–for a terrific stress relief (and you might get your canine’s singing along). Lately the tornado sirens have stirred up the canine chorus at my house.

Learn about barking communication here, and what tail wags mean in this post.

Ask Amy Shojai: Why Do Dogs Howl?

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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? NOTE: Some links to books or other products may be to affiliates, from which I may earn a small percentage of sales, but I recommend nothing unless I feel it would benefit readers. 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 giveaways and appearances related to my September Day pet-centric THRILLERS WITH BITE!

Guest Blog: Doggy Assistant, Excuse, or Both?

Today I sniff out new territory and welcome my first-ever GUEST BLOGGER! Please help me welcome my colleague Natalie Markey, who balances a writing career, marriage, motherhood, and special-needs dog–in other words, she’s like many of us who call ourselves freelancers. There can be pitfalls when working for yourself, though. I often tell folks that my “boss” is a b*tch who always knows when I’m goofing off–but truly it can be hard to toe the line and juggle all those balls (and Frisbees). How do YOU do it? Even if you don’t have the two-legged children, the fur-kids and significant others demand attention, too. Natalie shares her answers to these questions. Take it away, Natalie!

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I traded in my fancy suits and briefcase from the “corporate world” for college t-shirts and Victoria Secret sweats (they are comfy) to write full time from home. Some people turned to working from home when the economy went south. The truth is, more and more professionals are working from home as freelancers, consultants and writers. Some companies even allow employs to work from home as incentives to save on gas and long commutes.  And then there are the brave stay-at-home-moms AKA CEO’s of the home. Whether you work professionally from home or deal with the normal daily chores that faces us all, dog owners all have one thing in common— Our dogs and if you’re like me your dog wants to help with everything!

My dog, Oscar sees himself as the man of the house whenever my husband isn’t home. Gosh, sometimes he still probably feels that way when my husband is home! As a working from home mom and author I’ve learned from my experiences how to manage my schedule so that I can be a great mom, dog owner and professional. I’m currently prepping my next Writing Moms workshop and I’m reminded that so much parenting advice can be applied to anyone with a dog.

If you have children and dogs then you will probably agree with me that children are in many ways easier. I can take my daughter to the grocery store, church, etc. Most places don’t want to see eighty-pound Oscar, even though I know he is such a gentlemen and anyone who knows him is blessed. Oscar is my other baby.  So how can you use that to help you with your work?

Your dog can help you around the house, whatever you are working on. Treat him like an assistant. Don’t let him be an excuse for not getting things done.  Arrange your routine to incorporate him. I work in my office so I made him a comfy bed set up under my desk. When I write, he lays on my feet keeping them warm and providing company.

Before I set up his addition in the office he would constantly be trying to get me away from work to spend time with him. He doesn’t get as much mommy/Oscar time as he use to because of our daughter. Whenever she naps, he wants to spend time with me. Of course I do give him my full attention throughout the day but when I’m working I’ve made it possible to combine time with Oscar with productivity.

There are many things you can do to incorporate your dog into your daily routine. Start with your relationship with him. Know your dog and you will know how to best incorporate him into your work, chores and goals.

How has your dog become part of your routine at home?

I’m giving away a “seat” in my March Writing Moms class, which begins Monday March 5. To participate visit my blog and leave a comment. I will put your name in my virtual hat and draw!

Natalie C. Markey is a seasoned freelance writer including popular columns like the Special Needs Dog Care Examiner. She is the author of “Caring for Your Special Needs Dogs,” and also writes fiction from her Arkansas home, where her dog Oscar assists her. Follow her on Twitter, Pen to Publish blog, and her website.

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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? 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 PUPPY CARE must knows, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter with pet book give-aways!

Woof Wednesday: National Dog Show & Ask Amy Grooming

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving and everyone knows what that means–NATIONAL DOG SHOW! The Kennel Club of Philadelphia for the past several years have held this show the weekend before Thanksgiving, and then NBC televised the production after the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. It’s become an annual favorite of dog people. And because I’m at the Cat Writers Association Annual Conference during the actual event, I’m pleased to see the show up-close-and-personal courtesy of Purina sponsorship.

My colleague David Frei is a longtime breeder, exhibitor and dog expert/author who co-hosts the show with dog lover, author and actor John O’Hurley. Interestingly, the inspiration for televising the show can from a tongue-in-furry-cheek movie fave of dog people everywhere titled ‘Best In Show.’ The two-hour special offers over 160-plus breeds and crowns a Best in Show champion before football takes over the day.

The American Kennel Club (AKC) has sanctioned six new breeds for 2011 and they will be introduced to America in their national television debuts on Thanksgiving Day during the show. Thanks to the National Dog Show, you’ll get a sneak peak, below.

And don’t miss the ASK AMY video at the bottom of the blog with some comments about dog show grooming.

AMERICAN ENGLISH COONHOUND

The American English Coonhound evolved from Virginia Hounds, descendants of English Foxhounds. Originally these hounds were used to hunt fox by day and raccoons by night and were named the English Fox and Coonhound. Today’s American English Coonhound is a wide-ranging hunter that possesses tremendous speed and endurance, and excellent voice. A strong and graceful athlete, he needs regular exercise to stay in peak shape. The breed’s hard, protective coat is of medium length and can be red and white ticked, blue and white ticked, tri-colored with ticking, red and white, and white and black. The breed is pleasant, alert, confident and sociable with both humans and dogs.

Search on Facebook:  American English Coonhound Association

[caption id=”attachment_2845″ align=”aligncenter” width=”300″ caption=”Cesky Terrier”

”American

CESKY TERRIER

The Cesky Terrier was developed to be a well-muscled, short legged and well-pigmented hunting terrier that could be worked in packs. The Cesky Terrier has natural drop ears and a natural tail. The Cesky is longer than it is tall and has a topline that rises slightly higher over the loin and rump. It sports a soft, long, silky coat in shades of gray from Charcoal to Platinum. The correct coat is clipped to emphasize a slim impression. The hallmarks of the breed should be unique unto itself with a lean body and graceful movement. They are reserved towards strangers, loyal to their owners, but ever keen and alert during the hunt.

ENTLEBUCHER MOUNTAIN DOG 

The Entlebucher Mountain Dog is a native of Switzerland, and the smallest of the four Swiss breeds.  A medium-sized drover, he has a short, tri-colored coat with symmetrical markings. Purpose and heritage have resulted in an unusually intense bonding between the Entlebucher and his master.  Prized for his work ethic and ease of training, he can transform from a high-spirited playmate to a serious, self-assured dog of commanding presence. The Entlebucher should not be considered a breed for the casual owner. The guardian traits of this breed require thorough socialization, and he will remain an active, energetic dog for his entire lifetime.

[caption id=”attachment_2847″ align=”aligncenter” width=”253″ caption=”Finnish Lapphund”

”Entlebucher

FINNISH LAPPHUND

The Finnish Lapphund is a reindeer herding dog from the northern parts of Scandinavia.  The breed is thought to have existed for hundreds, if not thousands, of years, as the helper dog of the native tribes.  In modern day, Lapphunds are popular as family pets in their native Finland.  They are devoted to their family, friendly with all people, highly intelligent and eager to learn.  The dogs have a thick, dense coat that comes in a variety of colors and beautiful, soft, expressive faces.  They are strong but very agile.

NORWEGIAN LUNDEHUND

The Norwegian Lundehund – or Puffin Dog — spent centuries on the rocky cliffs and high fields of arctic Norway hunting and retrieving puffin birds, an important meat and feather crop to local farmers. Uniquely equipped for their task, this little Spitz-type dog has at least six toes on each foot for stability in the near vertical environs where puffins nest. A flexible skeletal structure enables the dog to squirm out of tight spots or spread-eagle to prevent slips and falls. Lundehunds have a protective double coat, reddish-brown, often with white collar and feet and a white tip on the tail. Today puffin birds are protected and the puffin dog has taken up its new role as an alert, cheerful and somewhat mischievous companion.

[caption id=”attachment_2849″ align=”aligncenter” width=”300″ caption=”Xoloitzcuintli”

”Norwegian

XOLOITZCUINTLI (show-low-itz-quint-lee)

The Xoloitzcuintli – “show-low” as it is commonly called – is the national dog of Mexico.  Previously known as the Mexican Hairless, it comes in three sizes as well as a coated version – seen in the show ring only in the US and Canada.  These dogs descend from hairless dogs prized by the Aztecs and revered as guardians of the dead.  Over 400 years later, these dogs were still to be found in the Mexican jungles.  Shaped by the environment rather than by man, their keen intelligence, trainability and natural cleanliness have made them a unique and valued pet today.

BIG HAIRY DEAL & MOVING TOPIARY?

So what’s up with all the special grooming that show dogs endure–or do they like it? What do YOU think? Do you share your life with a show dog, or maybe a hunting companion? How do you handle their coat care? Does your Cock-a-dach-a-poo get a Poodle cut? Or does the Lab prefer a regular hosing off?

Do you have a show dog? Have you ever attended a dog show–you gotta do it! The best dog of all, of course, paws down–whether they have ribbons or not–is the canine companion who shares your heart.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4aEOK1UBW_M

SPECIAL THANKS

This month as a special “thank you” to all my furry-fantastic-followers, I’ll give away a paw-tographed copy of Complete Care for Your Aging Cat and Complete Care for Your Aging Dog. To get in the running, simply post a comment in the blog about your special pet (old fogey or not) and I’ll draw two names at the end of the month. You can use these award-winning updated books as a resource for yourself or wrap up for a pet-friendly holiday gift to a fur-loving friend. And as an EXTRA-special incentive–and to encourage all of y’all to mentor each other and spread the blogging/twitter/Facebook love–the two winners get to name one purr-son who gives them wags of support and deserves a book, too!

#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. We’ve become a great community including those in the #MyWANA social network twibe hosted by the awesome @KristenLambTX.  So I’m stealing borrowing Kristen’s methods and creating my own hashtag. 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 PUPPY CARE must knows, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter with pet book give-aways!

Feline Friday: In Your Face!

IMG_0771This gorgeous kitty face, courtesy of mhstrp2009 illustrates that face-to-face, in-your-face, face-off behavior that kitties so often seem to want. While they may appear to be shrinking violets who hide under the bed–as does the little cat in the Ask Amy video below–they really want to be close to us.

But on THEIR terms!

Do you have a shy cat? You can reduce kitty anxiety with these tips.  What about bed-sharing kitties? When Seren was a baby my husband couldn’t sleep with her on the bed because her purr kept him away. These days, of course, the Magical-Dawg hogs the pillows. Are the cats avoiding the bedroom or swiping the covers? Maybe they sleep under the bed or chase each other and play midnight tag with your toes? How do you deal?

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 PUPPY CARE must knows, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter with pet book give-aways!

Tuesday Tips: Reverse, Reveal, Surprise

”Writing

Some of y’all who “like” me on Facebook know I’m deep into edits on a thriller WIP. Yes, I’m channeling my inner child to try my paw at some fiction writer-icity. Only time will tell whether readers will lap it up or howl and bare their teeth but it’s great fun for me all the same. Sort of like brain-candy as a break from some of the more serious nonfiction topics of daily work such as expressing puppy anal glands (EW!) or de-skunking your pet (double EW!). Actually some of that could make its way into my fiction since one of the viewpoint characters is a service dog. Hey man, it’s what I do!

DANGER! KNOWING TOO MUCH?

New writers are often told to write what you know. But there’s danger in that, too. When the author knows so much about a particular topic, info-dump-itis becomes a huge risk. (Guilty.) So in a way, writing about what you DON’T know might make more sense, and indulging in research only to the point needed to move the story forward. I really could care less how bullets are made, or why this gun sounds differently than that one. When I read a thriller I just want the gun to shoot when it’s supposed to.

BAD RESEARCH KILLS STORIES

But I also know readers who become distracted and jarred out of the story if the cop-hero carries the wrong firearm. I wouldn’t know or care. But I’m offended by authors who get dog/cat facts wrong in their novels–I’ve stopped reading at least one BSA for that reason when the hero/vet-tech gave her SAR dog Tylenol for muscle aches.

CHOOSING THE “WRITE” WORDS

How much is too much? What’s not enough? Just show the tip of the iceberg instead of dropping the whole lump-‘0-ice into the brew that takes the steam out of the story.

At least that’s what I believe Mr. Finder says in the latest video, below. I plan to take a page from his pacing playbook, too, and tape these three words above my computer: reverse, reveal, surprise.

JOSEPH FINDER SPEAKS

The past several Tuesday Tips have featured a series of video tips from Thrillerfest and best-selling authors. These include tips from Karin Slaughter,  a video of Michael & Daniel Palmer’s Thrillerfest Song,interview with master author R.L. Stine, Ken Follett, and  John Sanford.  Last week’s video featured pacing tips from Andrew Peterson and Jeffery Deaver.

Today I’ve got the next installment of that panel.  You can check out a boatload of Thrillerfest pictures here.  Where else but Thrillerfest could you get so much bang-for-your-buck with James Rollins interviewing a whole panel of best-selling-authors! Today the video offers tips on pacing and character from best-selling author Joseph Finder.

How do you manage characterization in your novel without resorting to the dreaded info-dump-icity? Do you season in details like salt and pepper–or do you throw everything in the pot to boil and worry about diluting the broth later? Is it important for the author to know all of that backstory to write valid, compelling characters? What’s YOUR biggest hurdle in the fictioning process? (Hey, I’m a writer–I can make up words if I want to!). Please share!

This video is only a small taste, of course. You can get the full deal recording (and those of the other panels) of CDs, MP3s and DVDs of Thrillerfest here.

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 PUPPY CARE must knows, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter with pet book give-aways!

Thoughty Thursday: Do-Over…Would You?

It’s the back-to-school time of year, and that conjures up a mixed bag of memories. I loved being a student–yeah, I was a school nerd, and classes were pretty easy for me maybe cuz I took the “artsy” classes like writing, singing, and suchlike. I had mixed feelings about my parents being teachers, though. And lots of angst when for a short time I actually became a high school teacher. On Facebook my relationship with school would be “it’s complicated.”

Part of that is disappointment, I think. After study of music and acting I had every intention to take Broadway by storm. Ha! Then life happened. I met someone special, we fell in love, got married, and my “dream life” was no longer practical. That empty spot inside begged to be filled up with some kind of creativity. So I “made do” with writing. *snort*

[caption id=”” align=”aligncenter” width=”448″ caption=”My in-house editor, Seren, never holds back her opinion.” Seren "Editing"

”Magic

Yep, I’m an accidental writer who actually made a career out of making do. I wonder how many of us end up with accidental careers?

The dreams we have early in life evolve as we grow and have obstacles and hard choices thrown in the path. Have you ever regretted a choice you made? Would you go back in time for a “do-over” if you had the chance? Are you satisfied with your life today? All those choices along the way–the doors opened or slammed shut, the “mistakes” that lead to other opportunities–for good or ill, they get us to this spot–HERE, NOW, where we are at this moment. A different choice 10 years ago, or even last week surely could lead to a different reality but who’s to say it would be better?

Today I head back over to the Denison High School–where I taught for that brief wonderful-awful-glorious-crazy period of time–for a rehearsal. I’ve been invited to perform in a fund-raiser “talent show” for the theater department this Saturday night. So what better choice than an original song from the new musical dramedy KURVES written with my co-author Frank Steele. Oh, it’s cast and will be presented in full in early February, stay tuned…

Wait a minute, what happened there? Yes, after all these years that drama-dream resurrected with a detour into accidental script/music writing. That’s some scary crappiocca, I gotta say! And guess what? The 8 characters angst over missed opportunities and whether to risk what they have for a do-over new chance at happiness.

Sort of gotz me a theme going, ya think?

A couple of decades ago I could have turned down that marriage proposal, headed to Noo Yawk and who knows what would have happened? I do know what would NOT have happened: 23 books, pet writing and behavior consults, teaching music, Seren-Kitty and Magical-Dawg, moving to Texas, meeting y’all–none of that would have happened.

So what about you? What do-over would you wish for? If you had a chance for a “do-over” would you take it?

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

Heart-to-Heart About Dog Heartworms & Mosquitoes

Heart-to-Heart About Cat Heartworms

Cat heartworms are a growing concern, particularly since the incidence of dog heartworms continues to rise. Is your cat protected against heartworm disease?

CAT HEARTWORMS TRANSMISSION

To become infected, a cat must live in an area that has infected dogs, and with mosquitoes that have a taste for both dog blood and cat blood. Wildlife also serves as a reservoir for the disease so coyotes and raccoons could put your pets at risk. Heck, the coyotes come up onto my back patio! Even though Magical-Dawg is negative for the disease and takes preventative, Seren-kitty could get heartworm from a single mosquito biting a coyote and nailing her before I could swat the sucker.

That’s right, I said it. A cat doesn’t have to go outside to be exposed. Exclusively indoor cats also get heartworm disease. They may even be more susceptible, yikes!

Heartworm mapHOW CAT HEARTWORMS ARE TRANSMITTED

Mosquitoes ingest baby heartworms (microfilariae) when taking a blood meal from an already infected animal. The immature parasites spend about three weeks developing inside the mosquito and migrate to the mouthparts of the insect. When the mosquito again takes a blood meal, larvae are deposited upon the skin and gain entrance to the new host’s body through the bite wound left by the mosquito. Once inside the body, the immature heartworm undergoes many more molts and development stages.

CAT HEARTWORMS SYMPTOMS ARE H.A.R.D.

heartworms

Outdoor cats exposed to mosquitoes increase risk of contracting heartworm disease–but even indoor kitties can get infected.

The larvae are carried by the blood through the heart to the cat’s pulmonary arteries which almost immediately become enlarged and inflamed. They usually die in cats in about 9 months (they can live 5 years in dogs!) and cause severe inflammatory respiratory problems when they die. This has been described as heartworm associated respiratory disease (HARD).

Feline airways become thickened, stiff, and inflamed. Cats with asthma symptoms—open-mouth breathing with blue gums—may in fact be suffering from heartworm disease. Frequent vomiting also can be a sign of feline heartworm disease. “The third unfortunate sign we see is the cat is fine this morning, and dead this afternoon,” says Dr. Graham.

CAT HEARTWORMS TESTS

Current tests don’t detect all feline heartworm cases. Antigen tests identify the presence of adult female worms. That means cats could have immature worms present, or an adult male, and appear to be safe. Antibody tests can detect very early infections by immature worms–fantastic for our dogs!–but half of all cats that have worms don’t have antibodies against them. Additional chest radiographs and echocardiograms may be needed when heartworm infection is suspected.

A single heartworm can kill the cat, and there’s no cure or treatment for feline heartworms. Instead, veterinarians suppress the inflammation in the lungs and make it easier to breathe using such drugs as prednisone, bronchodilators, and doxycycline. Infected cats usually are put on heartworm preventive so they don’t get any new worms that further complicate their care.

Preventing Feline Heartworms

While diagnosis is difficult and treatment virtually impossible, there are preventive products for cats. The American Heartworm Society provides guidelines and the latest research on its site. They recommend all cats should be on preventative, year round. Start kittens at 6 to 8 weeks of age–there are products that not only prevent heartworms but also control other parasites like fleas so you’re multi-tasking and keeping kitty safe. It costs pennies a day to protect my dog and cat, compared to the expense of treating an infection.

Losing Shadow-Pup or Karma-Kat to heartworms is not a price I’m willing to pay.

How about you? What sorts of preventatives to you give your fur-kids? Fleas and tick stuff? Heartworm prevention? Do you prefer the “natural” route or have suggestions how to get the cats to accept “what’s good for them?” There are liquid alternatives and spot ons for some of these preventions. What works best for your pets?


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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? NOTE: Some links to books or other products may be to affiliates, from which I may earn a small percentage of sales, but I do not recommend anything unless I feel it would benefit readers. 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!

Thoughty Thursday: Get Into Something Good!

Okay, what are YOU into? Something good, I hope.

What else makes you smile? I’m working on the thriller today, yee-haw! And the cat is helping. Dang, I’ve got my dog, my cat, my writing, my music–I am REALLY into something good.

If you need a smile just take a look at this fun-tastic video. My thanks to Terry Albert for sending me the link.

 

Tuesday Tips: Pix, Tricks & Writers Fighting Dirty

”"Be

Monday Mentions is the mash-up-day of all the neato-torpedo links and blogs and writer-icity crappiocca. But I collected so much great stuff over the past week, yesterday’s blog concentrated on furry content and today’s Tuesday Tips catches the writer-icity spillover.

What are some of your favorite writer tips? Do you have a blog you love to visit? Or maybe there’s a book on craft that you can’t live without and made all the difference in your success. Add ’em in the comment section. Heck, if it’s your own tip, blog or book that rocks the world, you have MY PERMISSION for today to shout-about-it here in the comments. Spread the word, and we’ll make today’s Tuesday Tips a lasting resource.

CAN I USE THAT PHOTO?
My colleague Andrea Dorn always shares great writer and grammar tips with Cat Writers Association members (see her blog here). She shared that if you’re planning to use photos as news (that is, for the purpose of reporting on what happened at your event in newspapers, magazines or websites), permission isn’t necessary. However, if you intend to use photos in promotional or commercial materials, you need written permission from all individuals who can be identified in the photos. Publishing the art of a living artist on a web page, newsletter or brochure requires the artist’s permission. These and other questions related to “Can I use that photo?” are answered by Iowa State University experts.

INDIE WRITERS BEWARE

Victoria Strauss for Writer Beware recently posted that she’s received questions about a new awards program: the IndieReader Discovery Awards for self-published authors. Is it legit? What questions should you ask about Indie opportunities? The blog has some tips and insights you won’t want to miss.

INCREASE BLOG SUBSCRIBERS

. . . or subscriptions to newsletters or whatever else you want to share with your readers. I’ve done some of this but may add to my list. Derek Halpern offers tips for seven places on your blog where you can place sign-up forms to increase your chances that people will actually sign up and thus build your email list. I wouldn’t go with the pop-up box, though–that really hisses me off.

HOW TO FIGHT DIRTY FOR FICTION SUCCESS

I love Jenny Hansen’s “More Cowbell” blog and today’s Techie Tuesday offers GOLD for fiction writers wanting to escalate tension between characters. Learn how to use dirty fighting to your advantage!

KINDLE-GRAPH! WOOT!

Did you know that you can get autographed E-books on Kindle?  You need to have a Twitter account, but I am SO going to look into this!

WANT YOUR INDIE BOOK REVIEWED?

Full disclosure–I’ve not submitted my books for review to any of these sources, but they have received favorable comments from other authors on KindleBoards. I know that some are authors themselves, others simply avid readers and book lovers. They also review “traditionally” pub’d books. Check ’em out and read some of their reviews before submitting your own book. Report back about how it worked for you. And hey, you just may discover a new fav Indie author!

Red Adept Reviews:   Because Red has a team of reviewers, her site covers a variety of genres, including nonfiction.

Grace Krispy  reviews mysteries/cozies/thrillers, some fantasy, some urban fantasy and women’s fiction.

Books and Pals mostly reviews Indies.

E-Bookworms appears to review mostly Science Fiction and Fantasy.

www.DailyCheapReads.com mostly offers “bargain books” but sometimes also reviews them.

So what are your fav review spots for books? How do you judge if a new book is worth opening your pocketbook? Do you have a terrific writerly tip or resource to share? Add your comments and share the blog today with others and let’s get lots of stuff posted–I’ll do a recap later on all the goodies (and YES, include a shout-out to the submitters as well).

I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? I’m nearly ready to record a bunch of new ones, so be sure to get your requests in the comments. 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 PUPPY CARE must knows, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter with pet book give-aways!

Thoughty Thursday: Hummers, Writers & Antsy-R-Us

”How

Ants invaded the hummingbird feeders. This isn’t two or three , but a thundering horde. They squiggle into the birdy faucets, clog up output, and commit ant suicide in the sugar water. This doesn’t seem to bother the hummers–more protein, yum!–until the floating ant DOAs exceed a half inch depth.

Setting the pole in a pan of water works for half a day until the 110-degree weather steams it away. The little bit left provides the bugs with water ski opportunity. The little buggers cry, ‘WHEEEEE!’ as they slalom a pathway to reach a drink.

Smeared Vicks on the holder won’t keep them at bay. It just clears tiny ant sinuses so they appreciate the sweet taste all the more.

These days, fiction writing time gets clogged up with ant-icity just like the hummer juice. Some of these “bugs” offer necessary protein. They suck away a modest amount and bring in $$. And hell, these days the economy–like Texas temperatures–creates a climate that demands everyone bow to the forces of nature. House payments come due, AC goes out, fur-kids need kibble in the bowl–life’s funny that way. But when lots of the ant-icity bring nothing to the table other than a giant sucking noise, something’s gotta give.

The fiction am a-calling. So’s the play. Two more nonfiction books are on the to-do list. All those projects feed a writer’s soul the way hummer juice switches on birdy delight.

You’re a writer. You know what I’m talkin’ about. Yet ant-distractions demand more and more time.

When the ant-load gets too deep for sparkly tennis shoes to navigate, the hose comes out. The hummers–and writers–deserve a bit of uninterrupted beverage, after all.

How much ant-icity clogs up your soul? What are your limits–2 or 3 bugs in the juice, a dozen, a half-inch of floaters? When do you cry UNCLE and get out the hose? How do you flush away the the sucky parts so you can enjoy the nectar?

Cuz I don’t want the hummers to get chased off by #$%^&*!@#$%T^&! ants.

I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? I’m nearly ready to record a bunch of new ones, so be sure to get your requests in the comments. 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 PUPPY CARE must knows, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter with pet book give-aways!

Thoughty Thursday: Do “Breastfeeding Baby Dolls” Suck?

”Snuggle

Now from time to time my writing certainly scores pretty dang high on the suck-icity meter, but today’s blog may just send you into the screaming into the OH-MY-GOLLY-WOMPERS heebie jeebies. We’ve had “nursing” baby dolls for kids for years, of course. I’m old enough to remember the “Betsy Wetsie” doll Grandma wrapped up for me one Christmas.

Aside: After having two sons, Grandma was delighted to have me to dress up in frills and spoil with dolls. Sad for her, I hated playing with dolls and even as a youngster, preferred stuffed animals when the real thing wasn’t around. That said, I inherited Grandma’s taste in bling!

Back to the subject at hand–I was delighted some year’s ago to discover the Snuggle Pets when I lectured at Tufts Animal Expo and I still have the Snuggle Kittie. There’s still a Snuggle Puppy available, but at the time the company even offered Snuggle Ferrets and bunnies and parrots. These plush toys include a battery powered heartbeat, heat element, and pocket for a nurser and serve as surrogate mom-objects to very young kittens and puppies. The idea isn’t new. Orphaned critters often “adopt” stuffed toys. Heck, the Magical-Dawg still uses his “bears” as doggy pacifiers (yuck! soggy misshapen heads on the things…)

As someone who adored playing make-believe with stuffed animals as a kid–hey, I had a flying cat named Snowball and a talking dog named Fluff–I can understand the appeal for children to use their imagination. And I suppose this first video might be a nice alternative to parents wanting kids to experience the fun of newborn puppies without the mess or hassle of poopy pick up or (horrors!) death. After all, a dead puppy just ain’t a fun gift. But what do you think about having a toy dog that actually NURSES the toy puppies? Check out that first video.

It sorta kinda made me go “ewww” but then I thought–people in my field constantly preach to the choir (and wish the rest would listen!) to spay/neuter, don’t breed, too many pups and kittens are born . . . so heck. Would this be a good alternative? Or should they also create a toy doggy that gives birth or a toy kitty that brings headless mice to your pillow? Hmnn.

So what sparked this deep thinking? Well, the Twitter-verse is a wondrous place, filled with amazing flotsam and jetsam and Wednesday I happened upon a Sweet Tweet with a link from CNN about a new doll for little girls. WordPress would let me embed that video so I searched YouTube and found another covering the subject. The doll comes with a little vest that allows children to mimic breast feeding.

Does that go off the scale in the OOOOK factor? Or is it a natural thing for little girls to mimic their moms and want to play-pretend this normal function? Heck, we encourage them to diaper babydolls or fill ’em full of water until they turn into leaky faucets. Is this so different? I’m asking y’all, because I only have the 4-legged kind of kids.

Great fiction writers have the ability to put in just enough reality to tell the story and create worlds of entertainment. Too much detail gets in the way. Is that what’s happening with these kinds of kid toys? Or is a six-year-old play-nursing her dolly more healthy than the kids killing zombies with transformers (or whatever the hell it takes to nullify the undead). What do you think?

I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? I’m nearly ready to record a bunch of new ones, so be sure to get your requests in the comments. 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 PUPPY CARE must knows, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter with pet book give-aways!

Monday Mentions: Plague, Spam & Writers

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Welcome to all the new followers! After last week’s Monday Mentions after the amazing Thrillerfest weekend, lots of folks “discovered” the blog. Turns out that folks who read (and write) thrillers often have a furry muse in the background–and also may be considering the pros and cons of continuing the traditional pub route vs “going rogue.” *ahem* I mean, ‘indy.’

More on specific writer-icity tomorrow as the weekly Tuesday Tips Kindle-lization Journey continues with tips on self promotion. This blog focuses on furry stuff usually on Woof Wednesday and Feline Friday. Monday Mentions–hey, that’s today!–offers a mash up of awesomeness, some of the great blogs, articles and other assorted WOW schtuff that makes me sit up and take notice. So I figure it’ll wag some other writerly tails, too.

To that end, those who have a new book, blog, article, fill-in-the-blank that might be a fit, please email me (amy AT shojai.com) with the particulars of your book/work and I’d love to feature you on a future blog. Hey, it’s all about helping each other out, right?

I suspect thriller writers (including those with a fantastical bent) appreciate some of the biting tidbits in today’s blog. Enjoy and share.

MINI BOOK REVIEW

Got a copy of “the Things That Keep Us Here” by Carla Buckley (Bantam) as a freebie at the Thrillerfest banquet. Started reading on the plane flight home. Couldn’t put it down, read straight through and finished it late that night. OUTSTANDING!

It’s what I’d call a “quiet” thriller, one with such internal tension and driving characterization that you nearly explode waiting to see what happens next. It’s “Hot Zone” meets “Ordinary People” and is awful and heartrending and scary-bad in just the way a thriller should be–with brilliant writing. Oh, and a dog appears in the story with a pivotal role.

WRITER CRAPPIOCCA NEWS

Rejections-R-Us: 30 Famous Authors’ Rejections–plus some more Well Known Self-Pub’d Authors and now they’re thumbing their collective noses, doncha think?

Spam Hits Kindle  Okay, this is old news to self published folks, but others may not be aware of the latest get-rich-quick scheme to “aggregate” content (legally? illegally?), roll it into a ball and self-pub for big bucks. Uh…nope. IMO readers are smarter than that. But it does create lots of crappiocca.


CANINE CURIOSITIES

AMAZING pictures and story that purports to be the dog SEAL that cornered Osama Ben Laden

Seeing Eye-To-Eye: How Dogs REALLY See the World, a fascinating look at eye structure and debunking past ideas about canine sight.

New AKC Therapy Dog Title — it’s about time! Dogs that have met the criteria can be awarded the AKC Therapy Dog title (THD)

FANTASTIC FELINE FACTS

Should You Get Your Cat From A Pet Store? My colleague and outstanding cat writer Christine Church has an excellent examiner.com column you’ll want to check out

Where Does Kitty Roam? A study of free-ranging ferals and housecats, covers some amazing ground. All you folks writing about were-cats and suchlike might want to take a look at how real cats do it.

SCARY SCH*T & LOL!

Bubonic Plague Affects Pets–And People!  It affects cats most often because they hunt critters infested with disease-carrying fleas, but dogs also can catch the disease. That “cat fight abscess” might instead be a bubo! (Anyone else thinking “medical thriller plot?”)

Learn To Pick Your Battles–A Tale of a Metal Chicken a hilarious blog my friend Judy Gharis sent me, enjoy!

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!

Thoughty Thursday: Feeding The Muse

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Due to the magic of WordPress, I get to write this EARLY and have it posted tomorrow morning while I’m flying to New York. Can you see my arms a-flappin’ (insert “twack-thwackity-thwack” sound effects)?

I don’t have a lot to say today other than–I’m excited, exhausted, anxious, and thrilled all rolled up in one. Excited because Thrillerfest is the absolutely BESTEST-FUNNEST-INSPIRING-EST conference I attend. Exhausted because I’ve managed to cram a week’s worth of work into two days so I wouldn’t be distracted with (ack) work while there. Anxious because flying ain’t near the adventure it used to be and crappiocca always–ALWAYS–happens (wonder if I”ll be profiled this time?).

And thrilled because I get to see my favorite authors, reconnect with friends and make new acquaintances.

For writers, nothing gives us a goose in the ass-terick like a writer’s conference. We get to schmooze and express our jealousy admiration for all those successful folks; steal all learn the secrets of their success; hang out with cool people in the bar during seminars  and find out–

They’re people, too. And they have some of the same angst-icity and writerly challenges that face the rest of us. Oh, and some of ’em worked for DAYS and WEEKS and sometimes MONTHS before they had an overnight success (I kid…more like years or decades in many cases).

So what’s the most inspiring part of being among people who really understand us–why we bang our heads on the virtual door of publication forever. It’s not that we’re born masochists. Okay, well, some folks are. And it’s not that we’re totally clueless about our lack of talent. Wait–maybe that fellow waa-a-aay over there might be a wee bit . . . never mind. For sure it’s not because we enjoy rejection.

Creative types do it because–it’s who we are, not just what we do. And gathering at a writer conference like Thrillerfest, or at a music festival or Harley Davidson convention, dog or cat show, quilt exhibition, or ComicCon or whatever floats your creative boat FUELS THE MUSE.

I’m already feeling all inspired-like.

What feeds your muse? How do you energize your creative side? When do you feel most in need of a pick-me-up, and where do you find the necessary go-get-’em juice to press on?

I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? I’m nearly ready to record a bunch of new ones, so be sure to get your requests in the comments. 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!

Furry Friday: Lulu’s Furry Miracle

”Lulu

I couldn’t do foster work, I don’t think. When I traveled for Purina as a spokesperson and visited countless shelters, the hardest part was walking away from all those needy bewhiskered faces. Bringing a fur-kid into the house, only to later give him/her away into the loving homes of another, would be rewarding but –I know this about myself — it would flat kill me.

Thank God there are rescue organizations and individuals who can do this!

While it sounds romantic to raise up cute babies and unwanted dogs or cats and give them a much needed second chance, reality ain’t the same. Dogs and cats are dumped, relinquished, lose homes for no fault of their own but challenging behavior problems and/or health issues make foster care even more daunting.

Did I mention God has a hand in such things? And the human angels on earth sometimes are granted miracles–my colleague and friend Carol Duncan gave me permission to share the latest. It seems particularly timely because of the BOOM-BOOM noise phobias mentioned in the Woof Wednesday blog that caused Lulu–that gorgeous Border Collie–in the picture–such angst. You see, Lulu panicked during a thunderstorm and tried to escape her crate, resulting in severe injuries that required hip surgery. Yes, they can do amazing things these days with cutting edge medicine for pets–and the video puts a furry face on some of these techniques.

I’ve seen other video of Carol’s foster BCs, one called Possum that was so fearful–and the progress made until she actually PLAYED with Carol’s other dogs. Makes me weepy again just to think of how far some of these fosters can come with the right care. Now, it’s Lulu’s chance.

Carol writes,

“I’m almost afraid to say anything lest I jinx myself, but Lulu, a BC is being adopted on Monday.  Lulu is reactive to other dogs and needs to go to a home with no other dogs.  Plus, she has hip dysplasia and is recovering from an FHO right now.  And she has mild urinary incontinence.  She barks a lot, too!  And she is sound sensitive, terrified of thunder and fireworks.  She is currently on Fluoxetine and Clonazepam.  She’s probably around 6 or 7 years old — has a lot of years left, we hope, but not a young dog, by any means.

Who would want such a dog?

Well, a couple in El Paso contacted me.  Their BC passed away in February at age 15.  The wife is a high school teacher and is home for the summer.  They chose to wait until the summer to get a new dog.  The wife really liked the way Lulu looks and wrote to me.  They have a pool and will be able to continue her rehab there.  They specifically wanted an older dog. And the last time they had a thunderstorm there was 2006. They had a fabulous vet reference and their home check was conducted yesterday by a woman who is a herding trial judge who lives in El Paso.”

WOW! Who can dare argue that God didn’t work a miracle? Well, the Almighty and human angels, that is–the rescue organization, veterinarians, and of course Carol and her furry crew of doggy helpers.

Are you involved in rescue work? What challenges do you individually and your rescue organization face? What about dogs (or cats) with hip dysplasia–have you ever included water therapy for your pets?

The cool video, below, shows Lulu receiving underwater treadmill therapy (WAY COOL!) from the Dallas Veterinary Surgical Center, so that Lulu’s new family has a demonstration how to continue Lulu’s rehab. Carol works with Border Collie Rescue Texas which paid for a good portion of Lulu’s treatment–but Carol funded quite a bit herself.

Love doesn’t come cheap! Think about supporting a rescue group in your area. Have you had similar miracle matches–please share!
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2ED3SmI0PsU

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!

Thoughty Thursday: Feeding Your Soul

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I’m a bore.

No, really–don’t let the sparkle-icity fool you. This lady am-stuck-in-a-rut. I can’t remember the last time my husband and I took a vacation together, other than to visit family. We have responsibilities. Two fur-kids that don’t do well left alone. Property that needs attention. And work deadlines that refuse to recognize the term “vacation.” The whole concept of R&R gives me an eye twitch when I think of all the work not yet done.

Am I beyond redemption?

Each year for the past dozen, my writers group makes a trek to the mountains of Colorado sometime during the heat of Texas summer. This year we’ve postponed that week-long outing until September. Because our various WORK schedules simply won’t allow us that leeway until later, if then.

The Colorado trek used to be a respite from work, a place to indulge in aspirational endeavors–that novel idea burning a hole in my brain, copper-foiling stained glass pieces, shopping for sparkles, drinking beverage, fine conversation until late in the night, wildlife visitation–deer, birds, squirrels, bear, raccoons, turkeys, hummers and more–and LAUGHTER. Lots of laughter, a few tears, and support without bounds. This was a place of few phone calls. That rare and MIRACULOUS call from editors or agents with neato-torpedo news was cause for more beverage and celebration.

This same core group of talented wannabe writers and authors transformed each other into established professionals. We are family, community, friends and sisters who champion each others success. Our local face-to-face meetings have become few and far between with some members moving away but staying connected via Internet and phone. Our annual Colorado trek renews us emotionally, physically and spiritually and has become that “golden carrot” that sustains us through the angst of day-to-day crappiocca.

It’s changed a bit since laptops and WIFI arrived. Leaving work behind takes extra effort. Don’t get me wrong, it’s nice to be able to check email and stay connected to put out emergencies. But there’s only so much one can do from the mountaintop. That feeling of soul-soothing renewal comes so rarely and must last another 12 months, it hurts my heart and almost feels like blasphemy to interrupt with such things as . . .

Work.

Maybe this year I’ll turn off the WIFI.

Do you have a “golden carrot” place, real or virtual? How do you reward your hard work and diffuse the normal crappiocca? Here at home in hotter-than-hell Texas, I spend one-on-one time with the fur-kids, read my Kindle, play my cello, write music. What are your leisure joys? How do you feed your soul?

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!

Feline Friday: Ask Amy, Cat Smiles & Book Love

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How does your cat show affection? There are so many ways–and many times folks just assume the kitty purr says it all. There’s no doubt that cats love us as much as we love them. People who haven’t been blessed with furry feline love have a difficult time believing this, though, because kitties show affection very differently than people do. In fact, some cat behaviors that puzzle, aggravate or even offend people are a cat’s way of expressing undying affection.

My kitty Seren often indulges in what I call “flipping” behavior, where she THROWS herself on the ground in front of me and rolls back and forth while meowing. She also cheek-rubs and head-bonks us–and yes, she purrs. Here are 14 unexpected ways cats show love. What are some other ways your cats demonstrate their affection for you? Please share!

In fact, in honor of Adopt A Cat Month, I will draw a name from the comments posted on today’s blog for your choice of one of the books, below, but there’s a catch:

There must be at least 10 comments to do the drawing–and I’ll choose a winner by Sunday night so maybe the autographed book gets to a Father’s Day recipient on time. Forward the link and encourage your friends to comment so somebody can get some free kitty-book-love. Yes, I’m purrrr-fectly evil! Which brings me to the most recent Ask Amy video, below–enjoy!

Ask Amy Shojai: What Do Cat Purrs M...
Ask Amy Shojai: What Do Cat Purrs Mean?

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!

Thoughty Thursday: Playing Catch-Up…NOT!

It’s been a week from hell, frankly, and an emotional roller coaster for any number of reasons. Have you ever had a week where you could see NO progress made at all? As my dad would say,

Quelle frustration!

Most of the angst has to do with the death of my laptop, purchase of a new one, set up of the latter and rescue/recreation of files from the former. Today–finally–I’m back at square one and ready to forge ahead. I ended up losing (permanently) some dog/cat images and videos, but managed to find a backup of all the Ebook docs, yay!

And yes, next Tuesday Tips Kindle-ization Journey will return. I again purchased the video editing software (locked up on the DOA laptop) and should have the next Ask Amy video posted tomorrow.

When I look back, quite a lot did get done. I now have a better furry handle on content/topics needed with an updated to-do list. After months of hard work with my co-author, the orchestration, printing of music and script, and first read-thru with the cast last Tuesday night was both scary and exciting. And yesterday’s acting gig in Ft Worth added another credit to the resume. Now that the “must do” stuff on the acting side of things have been done, I can turn attention back to the “gotta-write” stuff.

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”"Excuse

I always feel like I play catch-up. Why is that? This week I failed to create my to-do list, and that leaves me feeling adrift without a map. My feelings of accomplishment seem inexorably tied to highlighting and crossing off little boxes on my calendar or notepad. And yes, it’s got to be pen-and-paper…physical list. Generating “to-do” lists on a computer isn’t the same.

Why is that? Do you feel like you lag behind the curve? Where’s that feeling of FINISHED!!! that’s so satisfying? I find that being my own boss and having no set work hours keeps me at the keyboard longer hours with always something–one more thing–left to address before I can shut down the work of the day. Is that common to our modern world or is it just me–or other self-employed folks? How do you get past the frustration?

Each time I start a book, I feel the overwhelming excitement closely followed by horrible realization that NOW I GOTTA WRITE THE @#$%^! THING! The only way to manage the angst is break it into manageable bites. That’s what my to-do lists offer. Losing the laptop threw me off my schedule and derailed that list, and so I flail and fail and feel fruitless (say that fast five times!).

But I can fix this. Chocolate helps. And a very specific to-do list. With lots of bright highlighters, so it looks like  a peacock spit up on the paper. Ahhhhhh….that’s MUCH better!

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!

Thoughty Thursday: Procrastination, Backups & Thpbpbpbpb

I missed posting Tuesday Tips, the next in the Kindle-ization series, and I’m HISSED OFF! You see, I have most all of that series done, and ready to go. They’re all on my laptop.

The laptop that DIED this week. Thpbpbpbpbpbpb! (that’s a virtual raspberry)

Actually, we suspect the battery ran dry–and it won’t run on just the plug. I’ve ordered a new battery, and hope for the best–but prepare for the worst.  I guess the old laptop served well–letters on the keyboard had worn off and a couple of books were written on it including all the updates to the newly Kindle-ized titles. Come to think of it, that’s where I kept the final versions of the updated manuscripts.

THPBPBPBPBPB!!!

I’m the person who always arrives early for meetings and circles the block until it’s not embarrassing to show up. With few exceptions, I meet or beat deadlines. And I angst and grow gray hairs and sprout crow’s feet lines when I can’t cross off each item as finished.  These days, though, with 5-10 blogs a week plus two weekly columns and the puppies.About.com stuff–oh, and a co-written musical play to produce, fiction WIP, acting gigs– keeping all the eggs in the air without scrambling them on impact takes a toll.

[caption id=”” align=”aligncenter” width=”237″ caption=”Scratch THIS!” seren scratching 1

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So my blog schedule and backing up files fell to the bottom of the to-do list. Often I can get a few done early on weekends, but–well, over Memorial Day I actually shut off work and played with the Magical-Dawg and Seren-kitty! So I planned to post Tuesday’s blog on Tuesday morning (instead of days or at least the night before). Fortunately I had edited and uploaded the Ask Amy youtube videos for this week so yesterday’s Woof Wednesday and tomorrow’s Feline Friday are ready.

Just a week or so ago, one of my colleagues lamented the crash of her entire computer and loss of files. That was a wake-up call. I nearly subscribed to an online backup service but was instead convinced by my tech-guy husband to use thumb drives. So nearly all of the work on the !@#$%^&! laptop had been saved just a few days ago–but not the Ebooks and not the blog notes and content.

”Strawberries

I can re-created it but at the moment the pity-party-whine-fest is much more satisfying. Oh, I quick-like-a-bunny bought a new laptop with higher speed, larger storage, and updated software.  And I’ll get a few more of those thumb-drives and put it on my schedule for backups with more religious fervor.

How do you procrastinate? Has it ever bitten you in the ass-ets? What are your top reasons to THPBPBPB? Don’t be shy–vent away. And bookmark this blog to remind you what crappiocca can happen to derail even A-type go-go-go plan-ahead people like you and me!

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!

Thoughty Thursday: Un-Plugged!

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The past two days I’ve been in purgatory–I won’t call it hell, because it’s the ABSENCE of something vital to my writing life. And I’ve learned (horrors!) that I’m an addict. . .

. . .of the Internet.

In the olden days (lawsie, sound like my Grandma used to!) words were typed and the smell of well-inked ribbon perfumed the room. Any piece of writer-icity fortunate enough to claim a home traveled via the U.S. Postal System–which meant a May 1st deadline required mail drop off at least a week in advance. Once Email emerged–and I’ll admit I arrived late at that party–writers not only saved on postage $, we gained something much more valuable. Extra time. Have a column due on May 1st? as long as you hit “send” before midnight on April 30, you’re golden.

And I’ve been burned several times by downloading emails infected with viruses or having a computer go belly up. So the past year or so all my email stays “online” in a virtual database I can access from any computer, anywhere. Even my email address book remains online, for ease of contact. Makes life simple.

Until the Internet goes ka-flooey. (That’s a technical writerly term, which loosely translated means !@#$%^&*O!@#$%^&!!)

Besides the inability to read or answer email and send articles, I couldn’t post blogs here, over at my RedRoom site, or update my spankin’ new puppies.About.com site, spread the furry news via Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. Particularly annoying, I could get Email via my Blackberry but couldn’t do more than answer a word or two without thumbs being sabotagued by the auto-correct feature. Arg!

So are you (gasp!) addicted to the Internet? How do you handle outages? I ended up working with my co-author on another project that didn’t require online access. And I suppose tomorrow I’ll do more of the same since the forecasts call for more crappiocca weather.

I’ve always thought technology offered countless benefits. What about you? Do we depend on the “un-wired” world too much? What do you do when your working life goes ka-flooey? Play hookey?

I would love to play hookey sometime. But my boss is a real bitch.

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!

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