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#Pets Authors Panel: We Did It, So Can You!

#Pets Authors Panel: We Did It, So Can You!

Did you miss the Google Hangout? Wanna learn about WRITING LIKE CATS AND DOGS? Here’s Yvonne DiVita, Doc Halligan, Lisa Erspamer and myself talking about publishing, how we wrote our books, and other writer-icity experiences! Enjoy!

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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!

You Wrote WHAT? Why I Write What I Write

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

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

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

*snicker* Yeah, THAT’s gonna happen!

What am I working on?

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

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

How does my work differ from others in my genre?

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

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

Why do you write what you do?

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

How does your writing process work?

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

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

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

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

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

I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered–post in the comments. Do you have a new kitten and need answers? Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter. Stay up to date with the latest book give aways and appearances related to my  THRILLERS WITH BITE!

 

 

Monday Mentions: Thrillerfest & Bunny Slippers with Teeth

Tfest 054I’m just home from Thrillerfest. What an amazing experience! This wasn’t my first attendance but was special and a stand-out in so many ways. That’s me at the Debut Author table on Saturday morning with 26 others in our class who were able to attend the July 13 breakfast. There were 60 in the whole class this year–wow! Here’s a Library Journal article.

Each of us had 60-seconds to say anything we wanted. Many talked briefly about themselves, their book, and their journey to reach that wonderful goal, and I was so honored to be among these talented writers, and inspired by their dedication and effort. And yes, a little teary that I’d managed to climb that thrilling mountain, too. Six years ago, I sat in the audience and felt lost…and truly didn’t believe I’d ever have that opportunity. But I went home, put on my bunny slippers and wrote the thriller I’d always wanted to read. LOST AND FOUND was born at Thrillerfest and because of ITW, today my bunny slippers have TEETH and I write Thrillers With Bite!

Tfest 056And yes, I wore my bunny slippers with pointy teeth to the breakfast–you’ll notice the ears also have bling. Enjoy a few of the pictures from the weekend (below) and then you can click on the Thrillerfest 2013 Set for more pictures. Be sure to scroll down to catch the short video from the banquet–I will have some more fun video from the weekend soon, too!

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My roomies–Carol Shenold and Paula Lanier. Thursday evening dinner outside at a terrific restaurant owned by Paula’s friend David.

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The always classy Steve Berry graciously allows a photo op.

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Lee Child at the Friday evening “Fan Fest” (one of my many fan-girl moments!)

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Again at the FanFest event, that’s me with the gorgeous thriller gals–August McLaughlin, Carol Shenold, Paula Lanier

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More famous authors! August, Doug Lyle, Carol, moi and the gorgeous Twist Phelan. (Can you tell Doug is in heaven?)

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We were guests at FanFest courtesy of the WONDERFUL Diane Capri (far right). We even color coordinated…great minds. *s*

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Me with the WANA-Mama Kristen Lamb!

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Paula, John Land and me…our “annual photo shoot.”

Monday Mentions is the mash-up-day of all the neato-torpedo writer links and videos, pet schtuff and bling and writer-icity crappiocca collected over the past week. Check out the Simon’s Cats pet-astic videos at the bottom, too. For new followers to the blog, welcome! and you can expect more cat and dog specific schtuff later in the week on Wednesday and Friday.

 WRITER-ICITY SCHTUFF

 Russian Ebook Market Growing

B&N CEO Resigns

Ways to Boost Books After Awards Wins

Reading/Writing Boosts Cognition well…duh!

5 Book Marketing MYTHS

Marketing Maze–A Guide Through the Jungle?

 Kristin Nador’s Blog with some important videos for keeping your writing hands healthy

outsmarting catsPET-CENTRIC SCHTUFF

Outsmarting Cats by my colleague and terrific writer/artist Wendy Christensen, is an update of her 2004 terrific Outwitting Cats. You won’t want to miss her terrific illustrations (and great info!).

Doggy Anxiety Tips

Iran Bans Dogs in Public Places

Planet Dog Foundation Gives $1 Million! I love this company, they donate a portion of every sale to service dog organizations…and they make GREAT products! (Magical-Dawg luvs their schtuff)

Dr. Sophia Yin’s Guide to Low-Stress Handling hey y’all, it’s FREE for a limited time!

TV Channel for Dogs

 

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, check out weekly PUPPY CARE must knows, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter. Stay up to date with the latest book give aways and appearances related to my  THRILLERS WITH BITE!

LOST AND FOUND–IS BANNED?!

No, the book isn’t banned. I’m being facetious. But you just can’t get the book at local stores. Maybe I need to take Magical-Dawg around to woof at them!

I’m having a wonderful time discussing LOST AND FOUND on the DogRead list, and being interviewed for online events. Locally I’ve planned a “Book Launch” party at Grayson College on October 26, and have schedule another book discussion group locally at Trinity Lutheran Church at 6 pm on Saturday, December 8.

NOBODY LOCALLY WILL CARRY THE BOOKS, even though it’s in their systems!

Although the book IS available in print, and IS available for online order, it IS NOT being carried on the shelves of local stores. Now, I can understand that shelf space is at a premium and they couldn’t afford to offer a venue for all million of the “books a million” they claim. But you’d think there would be a mechanism or exception in place for LOCAL authors with guaranteed events and sales.

We have only one brick-and-mortar store locally. I also asked at the local independent bookstore because I want to support indies–but they’ll only do consignment since they’re a used book store, which means the author buys the books, they shelve the books, and sell them for a percentage. I’m sorry but I’m not a book store, either.

The Sherman Texas “Books A Million” refuses to bring LOST AND FOUND into the store. It’s Corporate policy, not them. The powers-that-be won’t stock them in the store because they must FIRST be reviewed in order to be shelved. It’s apparently okay to list them on the website, but not physically in the store. If you’re an author and wanting your book on the Books A Million shelves, the number to call for info is 205-942-3737.

Wrap your head around that one!

Even if I could get the book into the review system, it’s doubtful that they’d be available locally in time for my local events. The automated recording says processing time is 4 weeks from date of submission.

So I’d urge you to order the LOST AND FOUND books (and any other author books) wherever it’s easiest for you to do so. And since you have to order the books anyway, look for the least expensive place because the books are the same no matter where you order them from. Right now, the amazon.com site has the best price for LOST AND FOUND. 🙂

And Magical-Dawg didn’t even have to woof at them.

Monday Mentions: Birdy Dancing, Co Dreaming & PUB DATE!

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Maurice, the dragon wordsmith of all things writerly.

All this inspiration worked. My thriller LOST AND FOUND was conceived, plotted and finished during previous trips and I just found out the pub date:

September 20, 2012!

I will let you know just as soon as pre-orders are available. It will be published in print and all Ebook formats, woot! I just got my copy edits back in time to input the results of the “name” contest–will it feature your cat or dog favorite name? You’ll want to check out the voting for NAME THAT DOG and NAME THAT CAT polls. So far the dog names Dakota and Bruno are nearly neck-and-neck, while cat names Macy and Karma are top contenders. Votes close July 31.

Monday Mentions is the mash-up-day of all the neato-torpedo links and videos, pet schtuff and bling and writer-icity crappiocca collected over the past week. Some of this “schtuff” can be hard to categorize and may fit more than one topic so I urge you to at least scan them all.

WRITER-ICITY SCHTUFF

Social Media Vs Big-A$$ Book Reviews which sells more books?

Bloomsbury Ebook Sales Up 70%

James Scott Bell Writer Workshop in Nashville Aug 11-12

Top 10 Brain Myths fun stuff!

Facebook “Page” vs “Profile” some good info and tips

Ebooks Now Dominate Fiction Sales

Penguin Buys Author Solutions   will they continue the program or kill the competition? Hmnnn.

Job Opening: Senior Editor Petside.com

Discoverability & Marketing Conference

CRITTER SCHTUFF

Cat Is The Mayor

Behavior Express Tour “Keep LOVE Alive” coming to city near you? Solving pet behavior problems, expert help.

Hero Dog Awards Announced! wow, what amazing canines

Feline Husbandry the book by Neils Pedersen now available in PDF (free!)

The Ecology of Disease scary and true! Bats to pigs to people? Oh my…

White Nose Syndrome in Bats

I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? Do you have a new kitten and need answers? Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, listen to the weekly radio show, check out weekly PUPPY CARE must knows, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter. Don’t forget to vote for your NAME THAT DOG/CAT character choice in the forthcoming THRILLER, LOST & FOUND!

Monday Mentions: Turtles, Snakes & Writer-icty

I hope your Memorial Day is restful, positive, and brings you all that you wish. Those lost and the causes for which they fought for our sake is indeed something to remember.

I also have to share that the Magical-Dawg, roughneck that he is, has managed to injure himself in some way. Oh, he’s clueless. Apparently it doesn’t hurt but the lop-sided swelling on his right jaw turns him into a bizarre hamster-esque creature with a pseudo cheek pouch. Y’all may remember he has  in the past turned into hippopotamus head due to insect stings–but this isn’t itchy, painful, or soft. It’s a goose-egg hard lump under his right jaw/ear. Maybe the Seren-kitty finally nailed him SCORE! I feared it might be a snake bite (we have copperheads and rattlers) which inspired me to share the video, below. It’ll come in handy if any of y’all ever need to dodge cobras!

But since there’s no pain, more likely it’s a simmering abscess or another allergic reaction. I’ll keep you posted. Of course, it happens the first day of a long holiday weekend. Sheesh.

This week I’m channeling my inner turtle–or trying to do so. A hard shell impervious to slings and arrows, a safe retreat in which to hide my head and eyes, soothing water to cleanse myself–ah that is peace! I’ve someone cleared my calendar to work on final edits of LOST & FOUND thriller. Evenings I’ll be at rehearsal — yes, my friends, I’m in another show and we’re closing in on tech week followed by performances every weekend in June. Maybe I’ll have pictures at some point to share.

Monday Mentions is the mash-up-day of all the neato-torpedo links and videos, pet schtuff and bling and writer-icity crappiocca collected over the past week. Some of this “schtuff” can be hard to categorize and may fit more than one topic so I urge you to at least scan them all.

WRITING SCHTUFF

Buzz Your Book, an awesome how-to from Doug Clegg and MJ Rose (they really know their stuff!)

Bob Mayer Chat on PubIt! I had to miss this in person but thankfully it’s still available, some GREAT info! (he’s my publisher for the fiction, woot!)

Interesting Survey Results from self-published authors (thanks to Jillian Dodd for pointing out the link).

Writers Digest Self Pub Book Contest Deadline Extended to June 15

Houghton Mifflin Publisher Bankruptcy

DON’T Pay for Online Ad…Until You Read This great post from Jane Friedman

SoonerCon in Oklahoma City June 15-17 looks like a great session!

Augmenting Your Twitter Audience posted over at Piper Bayard’s awesome blog.

PET SCTHUFF

Great Video Why ‘Alpha/Beta’ Wolf Terms Ain’t Accurate

Cat Being Vacuumed Oh–my–gosh, my Seren-Kitty would sooooo be out of there! Is kitty on drugs? Learned helplessness? Too pudgy to escape?

Pain Therapy for Dogs from the awesome Morris Animal Foundation

Cat Pain Therapy also from Morris Animal Foundation–they rock!

CatLandia Spoof Video for TNR this will make you smile!

Cesar Milan Feedback (don’t watch if you’re a fan…just saying, the scientist may hiss you off)

Soldier Trades Cigarettes To Save Dog

Poison Ivy & Pets Great info from The Creative Cat blog (thanks Bernadette!) ew, hate this stuff! and while pets aren’t as susceptible they can spread it to YOU

I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? Do you have a new kitten and need answers? Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, listen to the weekly radio show, check out weekly PUPPY CARE must knows, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter with excerpts from the forthcoming THRILLER, LOST & FOUND, and pet book give-aways!

Monday Mentions: Writer-icity & Pet Talk

Monday Mentions is the mash-up-day of all the neato-torpedo links and videos, pet schtuff and bling and writer-icity crappiocca collected over the past week. Some of this “schtuff” can be hard to categorize and may fit more than one topic so I urge you to at least scan them all.

Awesome Shirt Folding Tips! from Margaret Miller’s Blog, this is amazing, you gotta see!

Own Your Beauty–It’s Contagious from the awesome blogger Myndi Shafer

Facebook Timeline Tips from Lorie Huston

WRITER SCHTUFF

Kansas Writers Association “Scene 2012” Writer Workshop, and yes, I’m a speaker offering sessions on “kindle-ization” and “media training for authors.” Come say howdy…I’ll be wearing the sparkles (surprise!)

AgentFest, a part of Thrillerfest with some awesome opportunities for writers (yes, I’ll be there)

Branding For Sissies Hey if I can do this so can you. Just sayin’ . . .

Book Club for Authors/Readers a fee-based sign up for authors to get works-in-progress in front of readers for feedback.

RWA®’s Kiss of Death Chapter presents~~ The 2012 Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence in Mystery Suspense

Heightening Suspense from Guest Blogger Jodie Renner

Gorgeous Mousepads! for spiffing up you office decor (yes, I want one of these…)

Writer Beware on Trusting Sources (or Not)

Turning Author Site Into A Store tips from Jen Talty

Tribr How-To from the awesome Jenny Hansen

PINTEREST SCHTUFF

Pinterest for Biz

How Pinterest Engages Better than Twitter Et Al,

How Random House Uses Pinterest

Pinterest Boo-Boos to Beware

Embrace Your Inner Doberman from Sonia Medeiros, good info for anyone including writers

PETS & ANIMAL SCHTUFF

VAFA Shelter Now on PetFinder yeee-haw! This is the FIRST animal shelter in Iran, and dogs fostered in the US now can find their forever-homes via PetFinder connection. Here’s a video you MUST SEE of two rescue GSD-mix pups on grass for the first time.

Pet Industry Estimates $53 Billion Spending

9 Dental Issues You Share With Pets, my latest at Huffington Post

Zero Odor Wins Product of the Year Award! If you haven’t tried this product, check it out

A Beloved Horse Lost–and Found! this is a 3-hanky story you’ll love!

Lost Woman’s Cat Never Leaves Her Side

Australia’s Love-Hate with the Dingo

Greyhound Races Thing of the Past?

Animal Sounds Around the World you say toMAtoe, and I say meow…

NPR Transcript Discusses Animal-Human Bond Benefits

So…what’s the cat saying? And does the toddler understand? Are both “learning” from the communication?

http://ww.www.youtube.com/watch?v=tpYyTeQhX48

Totally tongue-in-cheek how animals talk (or beak in feathers…)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FUyKNMBOh8I

Westchester Cat Show Interview

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 WARNING!

”WARNING

A colleague of mine recently sent a link to something called the Writers Pitch Book that purports to “Connect Writers With Agents, Editors & Movie Producers.” The idea is that YOU (the author) send them your ‘pitch’ and they publish it in the book which goes out to the “right people” to get you noticed and published/produced.

Oh yeah, did I mention there’s a fee involved?

Shoot-fire, it’d be worth it to spend $50 to get your pitch before those with the golden keys to the kingdom, wouldn’t it? That’s what these folks bank on, people! Let’s take a deeeeeep breath and think for a minute.

TAKING ADVANTAGE, GRRRR!

What’s the benefit here? Well, you will get your pitch published. The “pitch book” certainly may be sent/delivered to all the movers-and-shakers in Nooo Yawk and Hollywood, very likely that will happen.

But why in the wide world of sports (or publishing/movie making) would those editors/agents WANT TO READ THIS FREAKIN’ BOOK? I mean, come on, people–agents and editors receive thousands (yes, that’s several zeros) of pitches a week. Not a year, but in a week. Ask yourself, just who is this publisher/person who has the means to persuade a busy editor or agent or (gasp!) movie producer to open up a book filled with pitches, sift through, and say, YES, I want to make YOU a star!

I apologize if this offends anyone but it makes me jump up and down and gnash teeth and say SIC-‘EM MAGICAL-DAWG! when anyone takes advantage of the hopeful aspirations of writers. There are many online sites that already purport to “connect writers with X” and they’re just as ineffective.

SCAMS, DREAM-KILLERS, SUCKING WRITERS DRY

Is it a scam? Well…some are, some aren’t especially if they do what they promise–publish a pitch and send that pitch to the agent. But the only people benefiting are the ones that take your check.  That sucking sound you hear is your wallet being lightened.

Similar “opportunities” are offered to actors for getting their head shots and resumes in front of casting directors–you submit your teeeeeny tiny picture and info to these ginormous catalogues that end up as a doorstop (at best) or hamster bedding (at worst).

Please, people. It’s never been easy to get work seen by editors, agents or producers. And nobody can do it for you. Instead of spending your hard earned money on one of these “short cuts” that don’t work, save those nickles and dimes and invest in a really good writer conference that allows you a face-to-face with an agent or editor. You’ll also hear success stories–and cautionary tales–from writers in the trenches, just like you.

I wish there was a magic wand–or magic book–that would do the job for you–and for me. If you ever happen to find that sparkly magic spell, please clue me in. Until then, watch out for the dream-killers. Protect your dream, it’s priceless, and don’t let ANYONE devalue your work with such things.

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!

Thoughty Thursday: Feeding The Muse

”Does

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!

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!

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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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.

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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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