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Scaredy Cat? Teaching Shrinking Violet Shy Cats

Scaredy Cat? Teaching Shrinking Violet Shy Cats

scared cat

Is your kitty shy? How do you bring her out of her Shrinking Violet shell? (Image copr. Missi Hostrup via Flickr, a picture of Tiger Lily)

Do you have a scaredy cat? Working with fearful and scared cats can be a challenge. Does Sheba hiss at strangers? Does Tom dive under the bed when the doorbell rings? Do your kitties attack other pets (or humans)? What can you do to stop bad behavior if even a mild correction sends the cat into fearful meltdown? Alexa posted her Ask Amy question to my Facebook page, and the answer is in today’s video.

Helping Shy & Scaredy Cats

We often feel that our fur-kids must have been abused and feel bad to make THEM feel bad. But they still need to know limits. One of my favorite ways to train is using positive rewards. Instead of waiting for kitty to scratch the wrong object and then interrupting the behavior–why not REWARD her when she scratches the RIGHT object?

Using kitty clicker training can also build confidence in shy cats by teaching them what happens is in their paws. Here are more tips for dealing with scared cats.

scared cat

Scared cats crouch and may hide under the bed.

Stranger Danger & Fearful Felines

While a normal dose of caution keeps cats from becoming coyote kibble, extreme fear makes cats miserable and disrupts your happy home. A hiding cat may not bother you, constant anxiety increases stress that can make cats sick. For instance, stress can aggravate bladder inflammation (cystitis), which prompts hit-or-miss bathroom behaviors from feeling pain. Even when the bladder doesn’t hurt, anxious cats use potty deposits or will increase scratching behavior to calm themselves—sort of the way nervous humans bite their fingernails. Noises can scare cats, and this post about dog noise fear may help kitties, too.

scared catMore Tips for Helping Shy Cats or Stressed Out Kitties

Do you have a shy cat? How does s/he react to strangers or new situations? What tips have you used to bolster confidence? You can use scent enrichment to help reduce your cats’ stress. Are you concerned (like Alexa, below) about damaging your pet relationship during training? How do you avoid that? What about fearful fido problems? Learn about that here!

Of course you can find lots more fur-kid care tips in the pet books. Many of the tips in MY CAT HATES MY VET! will also help. But I hope anyone with a burning furry question (or heck, ANY question! *s*) will share in the comments and perhaps it’ll be a future Ask Amy feature!

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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!

Dream Big, Be You: What Do You Want To Be?

Dream Big, Be You: What Do You Want To Be?

I didn’t start out to be a writer, so how the @#$%^&*! did I end up here? I just heard from the Cat Writers’ Association that my fiction book HIT AND RUN just won a Certificate of Excellence Award, with consideration for a Muse Medallion. I always wanted to write fiction, but it only happened when forced to reinvent myself and dream big. What do you want to be when you grow up? What do you want to be remembered for? What will your legacy be?

what do you want to beThe Accidental Writer

I’ve written about my journey several times and have blogged off and on for 20+ years. But the blog only gained traction about ten years ago when I took an Email course on branding and social media from Kristen Lamb (read her blog!). She asked lots of “thoughty” questions:

What do you (want to) write? What are your interests, besides the writing topics—because we are so much more than (fill-in-the-blank). Who do people “see” when they look at you? Is that the BRAND you desire to create? It must be the real you—pretend won’t cut it. People see through the phony-isity of such things. As an actor, someone able to put on a persona for different people or events, that struck a chord with me.

Taking Off the Mask, Being YOU

Okay, she didn’t use those words, but you get my drift. I had an acting coach tell me the same thing, and I wrote about it in another blog, that you are enough. Bring YOU to the table—that’s enough.

And that’s scary! Dang. And it leads me to another question–what did YOU want to be when you grew up? Kids seem to know and show even in the games they play what path they’ll take through life. Me? I wanted to be an actor because they were glamorous, people liked them, and they never laughed too loud or were at a loss for words. I could be whoever I wanted, and if folks rolled their eyes, it wasn’t about me, but the persona. Being real, though–EEEK! Then if they don’t like you (or your work), what then?

writing advice what do you want to be

“I own this content!”

What Do You Want to Be…?

As a kid, my brothers and I put on plays in the basement, and directed marathon “let’s pretend” soap operas. The recurring kid, horses, dogs, and cat characters and stories were so real, they had us in tears—and made my folks roll their eyes.

I never played with dolls, much to the dismay of my grandmother. Nope, it was stuffed animals and best-bud pretend pets who could “really talk!” Mom always said, “When Amy grows up she won’t have babies, she’ll have puppy-dogs and kitty-cats.”

Mom knew.

Write Your Passion—Be YOU, Not Someone Else’s Idea

Early in my writing career, people constantly questioned why I didn’t write about more important topics, like starving children or world peace? And was cautioned, “You’ll never make a living writing about just pets!” Thpbpbpbpbpbpbpb! (insert raspberry sound effects!)

I write about pets because that’s me. It’s what and who I am, and I am enough. No, it’s not ALL that I am, but it’s a big part. I’m not on Broadway–yet! But all my stage and tv experience serves the pet writing causes. I listened to my furry muses. And I have the bling ready for when the big moment comes.

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Writing about dogs (and cats) is serious business.

Becoming My Best Self

Something unexpected happened along the path to becoming Amy. I’m no longer at a loss for words—and instead I have to work at NOT jumping into every conversation. The animals taught me that. I don’t need to bark, howl, wag my tail (no wise cracks!) or hiss all the time to get ahead. I’ve never found being a “whisperer” to be particularly effective.

I’ve learned to be a pet “listener.” If you listen with your eyes and your heart, animals tell you what they’re thinking and why they’re acting in certain ways. Works with humans, too.

When I was a kid, I wanted to wear sparkles, tell stories with happy endings, and have bestest-bud animal friends who really talk. As an adult, when a career on the stage seemed out of reach, I turned to writing as a creative outlet, and it turned into an extraordinarily rewarding career. What did you want to be when you were a kid? Are you there yet?

what do you want to be remembered forWhen I Grow Up…

I always wanted to write fiction but at first, only made headway with nonfiction. My childhood dream came true only happened when I lost my grownup nonfiction writing career ten years ago and gave up writing to teach high school choir.

For the first time in years, I had nothing to prove and nothing to lose. So I wrote the novel I’d always wanted to READ in twenty-minute increments: before work, on lunch breaks, and after classes.

I don’t have two-legged kids. My legacy will be my written works, and I hope I will be remembered for helping cats and dogs and those who love them. And now and then, helping fellow writers with tips that helped me, like this webinar on beating writer’s block.

And today, my peers have honored my fifth book, HIT AND RUN, (complete with puppy-dog and kitty-cat characters), something I never could have predicted.

What do you want to be? There’s still time!

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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 giveaways and appearances related to my September Day pet-centric THRILLERS WITH BITE!

Amy Shojai, CABC is a certified cat & dog behavior consultant, a consultant to the pet industry, and the award-winning author of 35+ pet-centric books and Thrillers with Bite! Oh, and she loves bling!

 

 

 

You. Are. Enough! How to Handle Rejection

You. Are. Enough! How to Handle Rejection

I’m feeling philosophical today, after a disappointing experience a few weeks ago. Doesn’t matter what that might be (plenty disappointments come along, that’s life). But I also feel guilty for feeling bad–cuz I’m way more fortunate than many. So I’m revisiting how to handle rejection and deal with criticism.

The creative mind of authors, actors, musicians, and artists takes criticism and rejection so personally, a perceived sneer can quash the muse. I’m an author, actor, playwright, songwriter, musician, and artist, so maybe I got hit with a multiple-dose of sensitivity. Dang gene pool . . .

Those who read this blog know I first started submitting my writing to magazines. I could have papered the walls with all the rejection letters. My husband complained about the cost of snail-mail until finally I won the attention of an agent. Boy, did I build up calluses from all the rejections and criticisms to find the agent, and later, to weather publishing slings and arrows. Since switching to independent publishing, I pay editors for criticism (how twisted is that?!). Everyone needs critical feedback to improve, and keep pushing ahead.

Rejection never ends. I get to publish what I want now from nonfiction to thrillers, to plays. Maybe because of that, I’m a bit out of practice with how to handle rejection. But each time I bravely step out of my self-protective cocoon to take a chance on FILL-IN-THE-BLANK, criticism rolls in.

Bad reviews from readers? Check. Rejected for a role? Checkity-check. Emails ignored? Check-erooonie. Not invited to XYZ event with colleagues? Checkisity. Offhand comment from stranger–or a friend? Checkmate.

*whimper* THEY HATE ME!

how to handle rejection how to deal with criticismRejection Hurts, But Comes With the Territory

I suspect you’re like me, whether you’ve published, performed, created for years or just recently dipped toes into the creative abyss. Dozens of great reviews or performing a fun role leave me with a temporary glow. But it only takes one blistering comment to negate all the positives.

And we LOOK for those negatives, don’t we? The reader who posts a modest review must not have liked the book all that well. The director who cast someone else, the audience that didn’t whistle and guffaw, the show that failed to sell out–they all must hate us! If the artwork failed to sell, art critics and customers hated the artist. How dare we aspire to create something others might appreciate…what were we thinking?

Many artists can’t separate our creativity from personal worth and identity. Outsiders appreciate (or reject) our “gift” as a product, a separate “thing” apart from the creator. Rejection fosters feelings of inadequacy and unworthiness.

I think. Hope. Hell, maybe they really do HATE ME! I’m gonna go eat worms and die.

Nothing’s Personal—Just Feels That Way

It must be in the definition of “artist” to question our own talent and worthiness, even without help from outsiders. Self sabotage destroys more careers than anyone can measure. Because it’s safest to do nothing—pull all the books from the shelves, never write again, put the cello in the case and close the door to theatre. To try and fail feels so painful, we’d rather close ourselves off and stop trying than risk the hurt. Again.

So how many of y’all have shut down the laptop, put away the viola, thrown out paints, or given up thespian aspirations? I’ve made that “decision” dozens of times. Tempting to do so again with the latest hurt.

But it never stuck. Because this is who I am. It’s what I do.

Learning To Be Vulnerable

Years ago I attended an audition workshop with the brilliant Del Shores, who noted that many people have !!@#$%^! -loads of baggage. Nobody gets out of life without some bumps, bruises, and the scars can be visible, deep inside, or both.

Successful performers (and writers also ARE performers!) learn to tap-dance into this wealth of virtual crappiocca, use it to create memorable damaged characters on stage, screen, canvas, music scores—and in our books, essays and other writing. Unblemished, perfect paintings, book characters, photos and music are freakin’ BORING!

how to deal with criticismPerfect People, Perfect Pets = BORING!

In dog and cat behavior (another of my worlds), the perfect pet is a stuffed toy that has no potty accidents, no cost to feed, no need to walk in the rain, and no chewed up shoes or clawed sofas. But real pets also have baggage, seen and unseen—baggage is normal, folks. It’s what makes them special, rather than cookie-cutter same-old-thing. The old days of “punish the bad” have shifted to “reward the good.”

I counsel clients to ignore the bad, and instead catch their pet in the act…of doing something good, and then rewarding with praise, treat, a ball or whatever floats the pet’s boat. We’ve learned that constant brow-beating or (heaven forbid!) actual beating causes pets to shut down.

It shuts down people, too, and it flat-out murders the creative process. Here are some tips to deal with writer’s block.

What floats your boat? How do you reward yourself? You are worthy, ya know! Lift yourself up, stop beating yourself up, and do the same for others. Helping others feeds your own muse!

You Are Enough

Del Shores is fond of saying, “You are enough,” to his actors. No extra bells and whistles required. It applies to all creative people. Lessons learned—and I hope these tips help you, too:

  1. Let yourself grieve the rejection. It hurts. Acknowledge that.
  2. We’re all damaged goods. No blame, we just are what we are. Creatives use that part of ourselves. Mine the gold and let it resonate in your work.
  3. Ignore the bad. Reward the good. Wear the scars as badges of learning and courage.
  4. Wait. Reflect. Breathe. Breathe again. I promise, time heals. Look outside the “door closed” moment for the “open window” that appears. It’s there, if you really look.
  5. Keep challenging yourself. If you get push back, that’s good. Nobody ever succeeded by fading into the woodwork.
  6. You. Are. Enough.

It’ll take practice for me to believe that. But I’m getting better. How about you?

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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 giveaways and appearances related to my September Day pet-centric THRILLERS WITH BITE!

Amy Shojai, CABC is a certified cat & dog behavior consultant, a consultant to the pet industry, and the award-winning author of 35+ pet-centric books and Thrillers with Bite! Oh, and she loves bling!

 

 

Thoughty Thursday: What’s YOUR Bliss?

Thoughty Thursday: What’s YOUR Bliss?

MagicKiss blissI’ve had a lot of jobs over the years, all why searching for my own personal bliss. Some were glorious adventures while others hit big numbers on the suck-ometer. That happens, when you follow your muse…in my cases, a furry one.

Jobs, Careers & the Bliss Factor

I’m a college graduate (woo-woo! thanks Mom and Dad!) with a double major in music and communication (aka theater/writing/fill-in-the-blank). So what’s my work history with such credentials?

Cashier, actress, newspaper delivery person, optometric associate, legal assistant, TV news reporter/anchor, voice teacher, vet tech, bank compliance officer, author, behavior consultant, spokesperson, middle school and high school choir teacher. For a while, I wondered if my folks had wasted their money sending me to college when it seemed my “just a job” treading water (to put, you know, bread on the table) had little to nothing to do with my original aspirations. Along with each came a boatload of shoveling crappiocca (and dodging what was lobbed my direction).

Being Grateful For Crap

Would I change a single day? Well yeah…there are a few I’d give anything for a do-over. The worst times made me that much more determined to reach that shiny brass ring. And some days, I made enough headway to see it up close and personal.

I think without the bad times, I wouldn’t be as appreciative of the not-bad-times. The contrast makes each stand out more stark and bright and distinctive. It’s a struggle sometimes to be that optimist especially when the world around us has lost it’s sparkle, and the darkest portions seem to catch the spotlight attention, drowning out the goodness that I know is there.

For me, I gotta focus on the good stuff or I’ll drown in the pessimism. Goodness doesn’t always come in a spotlight, either–it rarely attracts the hand-waving LOOK-LOOK-LOOK that media wants. No, the goodness comes quietly, without fanfare, and sort of sneaks up on you: A grocery store clerk going out of her way to help find an elusive product. A stranger in the car ahead paying for a Starbucks. Prayer chain at church making a difference. A car stopping a line of traffic to let a mom-duck and ducklings waddle safely across the road.

If the “big bad” throws a large shadow, each of these tiny pinpricks of light are cumulative. You don’t need one big GOOD THING to throw the darkness back where it belongs–taken together, those individual star-shines out-shout the sun.

Finding Bliss Means Watching For Star-Shine Moments

No more dwelling on doom and gloom for me. Today, I resolve to take stock on a daily basis. Watch attentively for the tiny sparks of goodness that together banish the bad. Oh, and to add my own tiny flame to help fan that ember to full light.

We all make excuses. It’s the human thing to do. But if something or someone tried to keep me from my fur-kids, from writing my heart, from shiny objects or my music, my God-gifted bliss—I’d by-heaven find a way over, through, or around. And shame on me for letting anyone try to take that away!

There’s a rush, a natural “right-ness” and physical Snoopy-Dance-‘O-Joy feeling in doing what is meant to be. It never gets old, but there’s no real destination, either. It’s a moving target that makes you reeeeeach just a bit beyond comfort level time and again.

I’m ready to stretch a bit. How ‘bout you? What is your bliss? What’s kept you from reaching out for that brass ring? Are you ready to join your spark to the light shining just over the horizon?

Magic says…”Bliss is Frisbee-Fetch!”

 

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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 giveaways and appearances related to my September Day pet-centric THRILLERS WITH BITE!

Amy Shojai, CABC is a certified cat & dog behavior consultant, a consultant to the pet industry, and the award-winning author of 35+ pet-centric books and Thrillers with Bite! Oh, and she loves bling!

ARE YOU AUDACIOUS? JOIN AMY’S STREET TEAM!

ARE YOU AUDACIOUS? JOIN AMY’S STREET TEAM!

TripleA-Logo

JOIN AMY’S STREET TEAM OF
AUDACIOUS ALLIES!

In the words of Velma Kelly (from “Chicago”), “I can’t do it alone!”

Actually, authors have very little to do with attaining success. READERS create author success by reading/liking the books, posting positive reviews and then recommending books they love to everyone they know.

That’s only one reason I’ve created AMY’S AUDACIOUS ALLIES, aka TRIPLE-A TEAM. I’m also passionate about mentoring but have limited time so this is one way to pay-it-forward without bankrupting my energy, LOL!

The TRIPLE-A TEAM is a select group of 50-75 members given exclusive access to early chapters and advance readers copies (e-versions) of forthcoming books, first dibs on give aways and a private forum to discuss our love of books and pets–and yes, help share my books in reviews, social media, blogs . . . whatever you want!

FIND AMY’S BOOKS AT AMAZON, BARNES & NOBLE, KOBO, AUDIBLE, iBOOKS

BOOKS-ALL-NEWI also want to share some of the great pet care and fiction books from colleagues, too (did you SEE that haul of books I got from Thrillerfest?). Heck, I get lots of great pet products that my fur-kids can’t always use (don’t tell Magical-Dawg!), and would be delighted to pass ’em on to members of the TRIPLE-A TEAM.

And for those that want ’em, I’ll create a TRIPLE-A TEAM BADGE you can share/post on your personal blogs, websites, Facebook pages, etc. I’ll set up a special members-only FaceBook group, too, where we can support each other–I want y’all to make this group into something valuable for you.

Apply with the form below (it’s filling up fast!), and I’ll let you know if there’s an opening, and send info about next steps as soon as I can. Please be patient–I may be traveling (and collecting more goodies for give-aways!).

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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 giveaways and appearances related to my September Day pet-centric THRILLERS WITH BITE!

Amy Shojai, CABC is a certified cat & dog behavior consultant, a consultant to the pet industry, and the award-winning author of 35+ pet-centric books and Thrillers with Bite! Oh, and she loves bling!

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!

 

 

Caption My Ass-ets! #FunnyCats Rule

KarmaButt

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

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

KarmaEdit

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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 giveaways and appearances related to my September Day pet-centric THRILLERS WITH BITE!

Amy Shojai, CABC is a certified cat & dog behavior consultant, a consultant to the pet industry, and the award-winning author of 35+ pet-centric books and Thrillers with Bite! Oh, and she loves bling!

A Day In The Life…Of A Pet Writer

Magic-Bowl

“What’s wrong with this picture….IT’S EMPTY!!!” Image Copr. Amy Shojai, CABC

This morning as I stared into the face of my grinning German shepherd and dodged his bruising tail flagellations, I envied him. And I envied my Siamese wannabe who still hadn’t roused herself from her daily 16-plus-hour sleep marathon. I mean, I really had a moment of green-eyed angst that Magic lives a dog’s life and Seren lives in a dream-world (literally!) while my husband and I bust our buttons keeping them in kibble. But is this a fair assessment? Just for fun, here’s a comparison.

Dog’s Morning: Runs through the field baptizing everything in sight. “Helps” collect the newspaper at the front gate. Eats breakfast. Takes a nap.

Cat’s Morning: “Helps” make Amy’s bed. Relocates to printer. Sleeps.

Seren is determined to satisfy her resolutions.

Seren is determined to break her all-time sleep record. Image Copr. Amy Shojai, CABC

Human’s Morning: Slaps bug bites from tromping through field after the dog. Collects newspaper while keeping dog from lunging at morning traffic. Fills dog bowl, reads paper. Eats breakfast. Fends off doggy begging for leftovers. Fills cat bowl—wonders where cat is. Showers, checks email, writes. Twitters. Writes some more. Checks email again. Facebook posts. Writes. Answers phone, hangs up on telemarketer. Stares at computer screen.

Dog’s Noon: Barks. It’s Frisbee time! Goes outside, plays fetch. Plays fetch some more. Baptizes stuff. Runs into tank. Comes inside. Shakes off stinky water. Plays tug with towel. Naps.

Cat’s Noon: Moves from printer to front cat tree perch. Checks food options. Sleeps.

Amy’s Noon: Applies bug bite ointment to shins. Wipes down walls, floor, appliances from dog shake-off of dirty water. Fixes lunch. Fends off begging dog. Fends off begging cat. Writes.

Dog’s Afternoon: Barks. Time to play—Frisbee? Ball? Chase the hose? Car ride? Yes yes yes YES!

Amy’s Afternoon: Checks email. Takes dog for car ride to check snail mail. Argues with dog about driving. Goes to gas station. Argues with dog about staying in car. Goes into post office. Comes out of post office. Makes dog move from driver seat. Drives home. Wipes dog drool off car windows. Fills the dog bowl. Writes. Writes some more. Grateful for dog naps.

Cat’s Afternoon: Checks food bowl, nothing’s changed. Crunches several bites. Empties bowl. Checks dog toys. Checks empty dog bowl. Checks dog bed. Revels in dog absence. Hears dog coming home. Races to second cat tree to glare. Sleeps.

Dog’s Evening: Hasn’t played in HOURS, going through serious play-withdrawal!

Amy’s Evening: Shuts down computer. Runs dog outside. Tries to wear dog out. Fails. Brings dog inside. Dumps dog toys, one by one, off of lap where dog deposits them. Tries to eat dinner.

Cat’s Evening: Wakes up. Checks empty food bowl. Meows. Meows some more. Looks for dog, and meows again to get dog’s attention. Hisses when dog approaches. Cat smile when dog gets in trouble. Leaps to Amy’s chair to check her dinner. Human food sucks. But dog wants it. Dares dog to approach. Hisses.

Dog’s Night: Brings balls (thirteen different kinds), four stuffed toys, three Frisbees and five chew bones into living room. Thrusts them one by one into human’s laps. Again. And again. Waits with expectation. Can’t believe nobody understands the play invite. Humans aren’t very bright. Sighs. Grabs consolation bear and sucks like a pacifier.

Cat’s Night: Glares at dog. Races around up and down stairs. Thumps toys. Scratches—loudly—on upstairs cat tree. Riles up dog. Success! Only cats know the right way to play! Dog gets in trouble. Cat’s job is done. She sleeps.

Amy’s Night: Dreams about Frisbees, writing, and lap-purring cats.

Would I really trade places with my fur-kids? Hmnn. Maybe the better question is would they trade with me? After all, I’ve got thumbs to open doors and food bags, scritch hard to reach itchy spots, drive cars and flip Frisbees.

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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 giveaways and appearances related to my September Day pet-centric THRILLERS WITH BITE!

Amy Shojai, CABC is a certified cat & dog behavior consultant, a consultant to the pet industry, and the award-winning author of 35+ pet-centric books and Thrillers with Bite! Oh, and she loves bling!

Thanksgiving–The Pet Writer Way

Magic8Weeks

Magical-Dawg age 8 weeks…the first day he came home! Image Copr. Amy Shojai, CABC

It’s the day after Thanksgiving and I plan to take the day off, for a change, and enjoy spending time with my family. This blog post revisits a similar one from a couple year’s ago but is no less true now. Hope it’s appropriate to share my THANKS list with those of you who also love pets. And I hope you’ll add to the list of thanks by posting about your blessings in the comments.

I’m thankful to be home with my family—furry and human—rather than traveling. For many years I spent the weekend before Thanksgiving at conferences and so I’m grateful that can’t-miss event has been moved to an earlier date. I’m thankful that I’m not on the bumpy road and bumpier plane. I’m thankful my human family, though miles away, remain close-knit and loving. And I’m thankful all remain healthy.

I’m thankful for veterinarians who make life better for the pets we adore. I’m thankful for researchers who work to find diagnoses, treatments, and cures for our ailments, both for pets and for people. I’m thankful for the animal welfare volunteers who do the work of the angels when others somehow let pets down.

SerenOnStair

Seren still loves her sun baths. Image Copr. Amy Shojai, CABC

I’m thankful that I have the best job in the world, sharing information about the cats and dogs that have become so important to our emotional and physical health. I’m thankful for publishers, editors, magazines, newspapers, TV and radio shows, websites, bloggers and email lists that share these important resources to benefit cats and dogs and the people who love them. And I’m thankful to writing organizations, teachers, agents and all those who promote the craft of good communication and help others pursue this rewarding craft.

SerenBaby

Nekkid tummy after spay–when Seren came home with us for good! Image Copr. Amy Shojai, CABC

I’m thankful that I found a dumped kitten sixteen years ago and brought her into my home and heart. I’m thankful that Seren-kitty still acts like a kitten and stays so healthy–despite her arthritis and recent bout with schneezles. I’m sure my veterinarian also is thankful Seren remains spry, since she is not a happy patient and the clinic staff likes to keep their fingers intact. I’m thankful she’s given up playing “gravity experiments” with my fine breakables, and has decided it’s okay to nap on my lap nearly every evening. I’m also thankful that she’s decided the dog is a boob and great fun to torment.

Greta-Magic-Baby

Momma dog “Greta” with Magic and his siblings (can you guess which one is Magic?). Image Copr. Amy Shojai, CABC

I’m thankful for responsible breeders who ensure purebred dogs and pedigreed cats have a healthy paw-start in life. I’m thankful that Magic-dawg at age seven has become a bit…just a bit…less driven. I’m thankful for water hoses, and tennis balls, stuffed teddy bears and Frisbees that wear Magic out without exhausting me at the same time. I’m thankful my roughneck dawg hasn’t had any injury this year, and that his limping swollen paw turned out to be bug-sting reaction easily diagnosed and treated. I’m thankful Magic is smart, funny, a comedian, and a wonder to train—and doesn’t argue but has accepted that the cat is the boss of him.

I’m thankful that although he never grew up with pets, my husband loves Seren and Magic as much as I do. I’m even more thankful they adore him back (that could get awkward!). I’m thankful for my church family—pet lovers or not—who also support my furry notions. I’m particularly thankful to the Cuchara Gang (you know who you are) and partner in musical-play-writing crime who lift me up with friendship and love.

Finally, I’m thankful to you—yes, those who read this blog or any of the other venues mentioned. Without you, I would not have a career, and my life’s passion would remain unfulfilled. Without you, your pets wouldn’t have the wonderful love and care you provide. Without you, there wouldn’t be any reason for this heartfelt—THANK YOU.

Enjoy your Thanksgiving. And please share all your special thanks in the comments–let’s get a THANK-fest going!

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.

Pets, Theater & Music, Oh My!

Last night I attended the SCP Volunteer Appreciating Dinner and Preview Performance of the annual fundraiser show. This year, it starred four local vocalists, the extremely talented Paul Jordan, Nick Timmerman, Aaron Adair and Blake Rice in FOREVER PLAID, directed by Nikki Silva. The show runs this weekend and next, August 2-11, at the Honey McGee Playhouse in Sherman, TX.

Run, do not walk, to get your tickets!

If you love music, if you love comedy, if you love theater–this is the show for you and the whole family. The four characters, wannabe 1950s songsters, missed their chance at stardom when nearly 50 years ago they were T-boned by a school bus and died–and have now come back from the grave for a one night performance. The close harmony is spot-on, the patter funny, the reactions subtle–and deadpan hilarious–and choreography so campy the audience doesn’t know whether to groan or give a standing-O. The elevated set, a bandstand that seems to hover amidst the clouds, makes the most of the available space while the onstage keyboard and bass player give all the support needed. Deceptively simple lighting and sound enhance the experience, and the costumes–white dinner jackets and later their namesake plaid tuxedos–stay with the theme of a low-rent concert. The crooning to Perry Como’s golden sweater will make you swoon. The featured solos (each actor gets several opportunities) literally rock the house!

Full disclosure–I know the guys in the show and would expect no less, and I also know the talented director. Having never seen the show, I’d suspected it would be a fun night with a thoroughly forgettable script. But this is one you’ll be buzzing about for weeks to come–and kicking yourself if you don’t go. Call for tickets now, the seats won’t last long, I guarantee. Here’s the number…903-892-7652…and learn more about the theater here.

Seren-ViolinI was invited to the Volunteer Dinner because last season I played cello as a volunteer orchestra member in the production of SEUSSICAL, and also volunteered as an usher. Many of y’all know that I perform now and then as well.

I love music and so do pets. Couldn’t get away from music during my growing-up years, since my Dad was a music teacher. Piano lessons started in second grade and our Sheltie used to rest underneath the piano when I practiced. Cello lessons in fifth grade, and I found my “major” instrument (voice) in high school. Yep, I was a music major in college–sang opera, among other things.

And then I ended up with a career writing about cats and dogs. Funny how that happens. Today I also write music (never saw THAT coming!) and just invested in some new Bose computer speakers after my CD player died. After not being able to listen to some of my favs in many months, it’s a joy to finally be surrounded by music once again. Oh, and in my thriller series, the main character plays cello. I’ve not yet decided how her cat Macy and dog Shadow should react–maybe some of your comments from your own pets will give me some inspiration, so do tell!

I do find some music distracting, though, and must be very selective about type of music when I write. As much as I loved FOREVER PLAID I couldn’t listen to them while working. I’d end up singing along and never get any writing done, or imagine the way certain pieces are arranged. Do you listen to music while you work? What kind is best for your favorite activity? Does it help or hinder your inspiration?

Our animal companions also have a relationship to music. That can be good–or bad, depending on if your pets have the same taste as you.

GSD-Music Magical-Dawg howls along if I happen to sing above a certain range. Everyone’s a critic–I guess it’s good that I chose writing as my work. Dogs (and coyotes) answer sirens with howls, and probably think human singers are simply inept at howling. Ahem.

Seren-kitty turns on her lion cough…ACK-ACK-ACK-ACK…when I play certain notes on my cello. I can’t wait to hear what she thinks of the violin if/when my husband finally gets around to taking lessons.

On a more practical note (pun intended), music can be a therapeutic tool in your pet’s home health care kit. Pleasant music can mask scary noises like thunder or New Year’s fireworks, or upsetting sounds like barking neighbor or raccoon scrabbling in the back yard. But more than that, the cadence of certain sounds influences the body’s natural rhythms and can speed them up and energize the listener, or slow them down to calm him.

So, does your dog or cat appreciate music? what kind gets his woofer working and purrs bubbling? Here’s an article with more details about how you can make music work for your dogs (hint: it helps cats, 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? 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!

Amy Shojai, CABC is a certified cat & dog behavior consultant, a consultant to the pet industry, and the award-winning author of 35+ pet-centric books and Thrillers with Bite! Oh, and she loves bling!

Pet Passions & Channeling My “Inner Dog” (and Cat)

UschiFunnyI’m feeling a bit philosophical these days, as I continue to swim the fiction waters of the HIDE AND SEEK thriller sequel, once again with dog viewpoint and cat-astic plot points. Between the puppies.about.com nonfiction postings, this blog and the weekly newspaper columns, my work–and life–revolves around pets. For more than twenty years, I’ve puzzled over their actions, behaviors, motivations and care, nearly 24/7. Pets rule. That’s who I am.

Some folks write to change the world. They do so with passion, dedication, and great skill, and I admire them greatly. I also write to make a difference. Sometimes manage to save lives.  I rarely know what impact the work has, though, because those who most benefit from my writing never read it. I blogged about how cats read a couple of weeks ago, but some critters skip the reading and instead probably baptize it. Please don’t leave my newspaper columns on the floor. It’s disheartening.

After decades puzzling about P’ETiQuette and studying furry foibles, I’m channeling my “inner dog” with the current thriller to extrapolate what pets think–and specifically, what Shadow (the hero service dog) wants out of life in general and this adventure in particular. Macy the Maine Coon in the story has a much bigger role this time around, and I’m having a ball as his feline character develops.

There are some clueless humans, too, that September and her fur-kids must deal with. I get to speculate what exactly pets see in humans that allows them to put up with clueless folks who seem scent-blind and hearing-stupid toward all the clear-as-crystal animal talk being sent our way.

So I accept that I’m different. Pets are my obsession, my fixation, my passion in life. My true readership will never ask for a pawtograph, or care if I have initials after my name. But they will do back-flips for the right treat, and wag and purr with delight should a human finally understand that tail-talk.

But until my audience comes out from under the bed, or tires from dog-earing one of my books and actually SPEAKS in language most owners understand–and puts me gloriously, wonderfully out of business–I’ll keep typing, blogging, and fiction-ing away.

So now it’s your turn. Listen to your inner “pet” and please share–what do you think your dog or cat (or both) want their clueless humans to understand? Maybe it’ll go in the HIDE AND SEEK book, 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? 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!

Amy Shojai, CABC is a certified cat & dog behavior consultant, a consultant to the pet industry, and the award-winning author of 35+ pet-centric books and Thrillers with Bite! Oh, and she loves bling!

Thanksgiving the Pet Writer Way

Happy  Thanksgiving! It’s time once again to count my furry blessings. I don’t do that often enough.

I’m thankful to be home with my family—furry and human—rather than on the bumpy road and bumpier plane. I’m thankful my human family, though miles away, remain close-knit and loving. And I’m thankful all remain healthy.

I’m thankful for veterinarians who make life better for the pets we adore. I’m thankful for researchers who work to find diagnoses, treatments, and cures for our ailments, both for pets and for people. I’m thankful for the animal welfare volunteers who do the work of the angels when others somehow let pets down.

I’m thankful that I have the best job in the world, sharing information about the cats and dogs that have become so important to our emotional and physical health. I’m thankful for publishers, editors, magazines, newspapers, TV and radio shows, websites, bloggers and email lists that share these important resources to benefit cats and dogs and the people who love them. And I’m thankful to writing organizations, teachers, agents and all those who promote the craft of good communication and help others pursue this rewarding craft.

17 days old GSD puppy "Magic"

My, how Magic has changed…here at 17 days old.

I’m thankful for responsible breeders who ensure purebred dogs and pedigreed cats have a healthy paw-start in life. I’m thankful that Magical-dawg at age six has become a bit…just a bit…less driven. I’m thankful for water hoses, and tennis balls, stuffed teddy bears and Frisbees that wear Magic out without exhausting me at the same time. I’m thankful my roughneck dawg recovered from his mystery medical issue this year. I’m thankful Magic is smart, funny, a comedian, and a wonder to train—and doesn’t argue but has accepted that the cat is the boss of him. And I’m thankful that these furry muses inspire me daily with their presence.

I’m thankful that although he never grew up with pets, my husband loves Seren-kitty and Magic-dawg as much as I do. I’m even more thankful they adore him back (that could get awkward!).

I’m thankful for my church family—pet lovers or not—who also support my furry notions. I’m particularly thankful to the Cuchara Gang (you know who you are) who lift me up with friendship and love. I’m thankful for the gift of music I get to share with colleague musicians who have become wonderful friends, and especially thankful for my partner-in-play-writing-crime who helped make our theatrical dreams come true this past year when life threw us some Kurves.

Finally, I’m thankful to you—yes, those who read this blog, the folks who have “adopted” my new thriller, those who offered awesome applause and support me in so many  ways.

Without you, I would not have a career, and my life’s passion would remain unfulfilled.

Without you, your pets wouldn’t have the wonderful love and care you provide.

Without you, there wouldn’t be any reason for this heartfelt—THANK 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. Stay up to date with the latest book give aways and appearances related to my  THRILLERS WITH BITE!

KURVES, the REVIVAL CAST

Local playwrights Amy Shojai and Frank Steele announce the revival cast of KURVES, THE MUSICAL. This family friendly show returns by popular demand to The Rialto Theater in Denison, Texas in mid-October.

Eight quirky characters, misfits all, become trapped inside MAXINE’S, a woman’s gym in Kurves, Texas. Despite numerous failed attempts to find happiness and true love, they finally succeed—but in unexpected ways.

The ensemble cast remains onstage the entire show. KURVES features laugh out loud dialogue, and twelve original songs—from ballads to blues, gospel to 40s-style numbers—complete with full orchestration.

Frank Steele directs the show and plays the cross-dressing Maxine/Max who owns the women’s gym and sings the title song. He has appeared in many TV and radio commercials, movies and TV shows including DALLAS. He taught drama for twenty-seven years and has appeared in over fifty plays as an actor or professional musician.

Amy Shojai directs the music and plays Celia, the bling-wearing visitor who sings, “Dreams For Sale.” Shojai is a local author with 26 published pet books, and has a performance degree in music and theater. She has appeared in several dozen plays in six states, most recently as Golde in Fiddler On The Roof, and has made countless TV and radio appearances both locally and nationally, including CNN and Animal Planet.

Nikki Silva is cast as the many-times-married Mabel, director of a soup kitchen, and sings the rousing gospel number, “Suck It Up, Sweetheart.” Silva is a theatre director and debate teacher at Denison High School. She graduated from Texas Woman’s University with a degree in drama, and is currently working on her Master of Arts degree in directing. Nikki has been singing and performing since she was five years old in musical theatre and country music opries, jamborees, and contests around the state. She has directed, co-directed, and/or performed in over 45 productions during her career, co-writing and touring an original musical in 2001. She wishes to thank the KURVES cast for inviting her in to their little family and being so helpful, kind, and encouraging.

Theresa Littlefield is cast as mousy poetry teacher Jane who transforms from plain-to-sparkling in the duet “Poetry & Jazz.” Theresa has performed in numerous college, church, and community productions.  She is an active member of the First United Methodist Church choir and handbell choir. She often plays saxophone for high school plays and church programs. She is a counselor at Fairview Elementary in Sherman.

Hilary Gregory-Allen is cast as newlywed Ronnie, and sings about her insecurities in the plaintive song, “The Picture.” Gregory-Allen majored in Theatre at Austin College and attended the Stella Adler Summer Conservatory. She most recently performed as Hodel in Fiddler on the Roof, and has appeared in leading and featured roles: as Viola in Twelfth Night, Kolenkhov in You Can’t Take it With You, and Ophelia in Hamlet. She also directed The Zoo Story and stage managed Waiting for Godot. She would like to thank her family and friends for all of their tireless support. She plans to pursue a career in theatre.

Johnny Flowers is the inept but lovable movie-quoting robber Fingers who laments his lack of finesse and brings down the house in the song, “Silver Screen Blues.” Johnny has been active in theater for the past 30 years. Most recently he delighted audiences in productions of The Odd Couple, Arsenic & Old Lace, and Smoke On the Mountain III. Johnny is also involved in the Music Ministry at Parkside Baptist Church in Denison. He is a graduate of Grayson County College and works at the Sherman Kroger’s Store.

Joe Maglio plays ladies’ man Boots and sings, “You’re The Chick For Me.” He was one of the original dancers on American Bandstand and will show off smooth moves in KURVES. He attended Lon Morris School of Drama and worked for eleven years as technical director at Finley Playhouse. He graduated from Southeaster School of Theatre in 1988, moved to Hollywood and was active with Group Repertory Theatre in North Hollywood. Joe is a member of the Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences, and served on the nominating committee for the SAG awards. Joe most recently booked a role in the feature film Redwing starring Bill Paxton and Glen Powell, in which he plays Bill’s Mexican foreman “Louis.”

Gil Nelson plays Ronnie’s husband, Troy Chadwick Noonan IV, who literally holds the key to MAXINE’S and ties up all loose ends in the song, “Life Happens.” Gil Nelson was a professional radio broadcaster for 25 years and has spent over 25 years acting in leading rolls in Community Theater productions such as The Odd Couple, Moonlight and Magnolias, 12 Angry Men and The Nerd just to name a few. He is also a talented playwright and in 2011 partnered with Gene Lenore to write the musical, The Lone Star Truck Stop, produced in cooperation with the Grayson College Theater Department.  He is employed part time with Workforce Solutions Texoma, performing resume, interviewing and resource seminars.

Mickie Martin is stage manager. Rehearsal space is courtesy of Leah, Rachel and Rebekah Martin. The Martin family has lent their considerable talent both onstage and off with the Sherman Community Players and Theatricks for many years.

KURVES, THE MUSICAL returns to The Rialto Theater in Denison, Texas at 8:00 pm, Thursday, Friday and Saturday October 11, 12 and 13. Tickets are $10 adults and $5  for kids (12 and under). For individual or group reservations call the Rialto at 903-465-SHOW. For reviews, song samples and pictures from the original production and to learn more about KURVES, THE MUSICAL here.

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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 giveaways and appearances related to my September Day pet-centric THRILLERS WITH BITE!

Amy Shojai, CABC is a certified cat & dog behavior consultant, a consultant to the pet industry, and the award-winning author of 35+ pet-centric books and Thrillers with Bite! Oh, and she loves bling!

KURVES, the MUSICAL CAST

Local playwrights, co-authors Amy Shojai and Frank Steele, have cast KURVES, THE MUSICAL with eight popular local performers. The original show features twelve catchy original songs with full orchestration, an ensemble cast, and laugh out loud dialogue. KURVES, THE MUSICAL will be performed for three nights only, March 1, 2, 3,  2012 at newly renovated Rialto Theater in Denison, Texas.

Frank Steele directs the show. He has appeared in many TV and radio commercials, movies and TV shows including DALLAS. He taught drama for twenty-seven years and has appeared in over fifty plays as an actor or professional musician. “I’ve co-written several benefit shows,” says Steele, “including the sold-out Star-Struck Night musical benefit with Amy Shojai, produced for Theatricks some years ago.”

Shojai directs the music. She is best known as a local author with 23 published pet books. “But I have a degree in music and love composing and performing,” she says. “Frank Steele and I have acted and written together, so we decided to combine forces to write fun and poignant characters that we’d like to perform.” She has acted in several dozen plays in six states, and made countless TV and radio appearances both locally and nationally, including Animal Planet appearances as an expert. KURVES is her third co-written show.

Eight quirky characters, misfits all, become trapped inside MAXINE’S, a run-down woman’s gym located in Kurves, Texas. The cast remains onstage the entire show. Despite failed attempts to find happiness and true love, they finally succeed—but in unexpected ways.

cast-in-costume-small

ORIGINAL CAST: L to R, back row: Joe Maglio, Cheri Anderson, Craig Sturm, Johnny Flowers, Frank Steele. Middle L-R: Amy Shojai, Theresa Littlefield. Front: Leah Martin

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REVIVAL CAST L-R: Frank Steele (Maxine), Joe Magio (Boots), Theresa Littlefield (Jane), Amy Shojai (Celia), Gil Nelson (Troy), Nikki Silva (Mabel), Hilary Gregory-Allen (Ronnie), Johnny Flowers (Fingers).

THE CASTS

Steele plays the cross-dressing Maxine/Max who owns the women’s gym and sings the title song “Curves.”

Shojai plays Celia, the sequin-wearing visitor to Maxine’s who sings “Dreams For Sale.”

Cheri Anderson is cast as the many-times-married Mabel, director of a soup kitchen, and sings the rousing gospel number “Suck It Up, Sweetheart.” She has performed in many local theater productions, including all three Smoke On The Mountain shows and the recent Ring Of Fire music review. She has performed gospel, bluegrass, country and classic rock-n-roll and performs with a number of country musicians in the area. She works as a Paralegal at Abernathy, Roeder, Boyd & Joplin P.C. in McKinney.

Nikki Silva is cast in the revival as Mabel. Silva is a theatre director and debate teacher at Denison High School. She graduated from Texas Woman’s University with a degree in drama, and is currently working on her Master of Arts degree in directing. Nikki has been singing and performing since she was five years old in musical theatre and country music opries, jamborees, and contests around the state. She has directed, co-directed, and/or performed in over 45 productions during her career, co-writing and touring an original musical in 2001. She wishes to thank the KURVES cast for inviting her in to their little family and being so helpful, kind, and encouraging.

Theresa Littlefield is cast as mousy poetry teacher Jane who transforms from plain-to-sparkling in the duet “Poetry & Jazz.” Theresa has been in numerous college, church, and community productions.  She is an active member of the First United Methodist Church choir and handbell choir. She often plays saxophone for high school plays and church programs. She is a counselor at Fairview Elementary in Sherman.

Leah Martin is cast as newlywed Ronnie, and sings about her insecurities in the plaintive song, “The Picture.” Leah has logged countless hours working backstage with Sherman Community Players and has performed leading roles in The Mousetrap and The Miracle Worker. She most recently appeared in The Big Friendly Giant, and has appeared in the City of Sherman “Can the Trash” commercial. She works as a Nanny for Dr. Clint Hayes and his wife Sunni’s children.

Hilary Gregory-Allen is cast as Ronnie in the Revival show, and majored in Theatre at Austin College and attended the Stella Adler Summer Conservatory. She most recently performed as Hodel in Fiddler on the Roof, and has appeared in leading and featured roles: as Viola in Twelfth Night, Kolenkhov in You Can’t Take it With You, and Ophelia in Hamlet. She also directed The Zoo Story and stage managed Waiting for Godot. She would like to thank her family and friends for all of their tireless support. She plans to pursue a career in theatre.

Johnny Flowers is the inept but lovable movie-quoting robber Fingers who laments his lack of finesse in the song, “Silver Screen Blues.” Johnny has been active in community theater for the past 30 years. Most recently he delighted audiences in productions of The Odd Couple, Arsenic & Old Lace, and Smoke On the Mountain III. Johnny is also involved in the Music Ministry at Parkside Baptist Church in Denison. He is a graduate of Grayson County College and works in the produce department for the Sherman Kroger’s Store.

Joe Maglio plays ladies’ man Boots and sings, “You’re The Chick For Me.” He was one of the original dancers on American Bandstand and will show off smooth moves in KURVES. He attended Lon Morris School of Drama and worked for eleven years as technical director at Finley Playhouse. He graduated from Southeastern School of Theatre in 1988, moved to Hollywood and was active with Group Repertory Theatre in North Hollywood. Joe is a member of the Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences, and this year serves on the nominating committee for the SAG awards. KURVES marks his return to performance after a 19-year retirement.

Craig Sturm plays Ronnie’s husband, Troy Chadwick Noonan IV, who literally holds the key to Maxine’s and ties up all loose ends in the song, “Life Happens.” Craig has seen over 80 Broadway musicals, and has performed in many musicals both in the orchestra pit as a percussionist, and on stage.  Craig brought the butler character to life in the Finley’s production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat in 2003. He is a gifted arranger and composer, often sharing original compositions at Trinity Lutheran Church where he serves as pastor.

Gil Nelson plays Troy in the Revival show. Gil Nelson was a professional radio broadcaster for 25 years and has spent over 25 years acting in leading rolls in Community Theater productions such as The Odd Couple, Moonlight and Magnolias, 12 Angry Men and The Nerd just to name a few. He is also a talented playwright and in 2011 partnered with Gene Lenore to write the musical, The Lone Star Truck Stop, produced in cooperation with the Grayson College Theater Department.  He is employed part time with Workforce Solutions Texoma, performing resume, interviewing and resource seminars.

Special thanks to Trinity Lutheran Church for rehearsal space. Mickie Martin serves as stage manager, and Garrett and Greg Guymon and The Rialto provides lights, sound and the performance venue. Show time is 8 pm and tickets are $10 adult and $5 (general seating) and can be purchased for the March 1, 2, 3, 2012 performances by calling the Rialto Box Office at 903-465-SHOW. Learn more about KURVES, THE MUSICAL here.

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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 giveaways and appearances related to my September Day pet-centric THRILLERS WITH BITE!

Amy Shojai, CABC is a certified cat & dog behavior consultant, a consultant to the pet industry, and the award-winning author of 35+ pet-centric books and Thrillers with Bite! Oh, and she loves bling!

 

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*

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”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 Your Soul

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?

 

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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 giveaways and appearances related to my September Day pet-centric THRILLERS WITH BITE!

Amy Shojai, CABC is a certified cat & dog behavior consultant, a consultant to the pet industry, and the award-winning author of 35+ pet-centric books and Thrillers with Bite! Oh, and she loves bling!

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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”Some

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!

Myster E. Watching TV 019

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!

Thoughty Thursday: Are We There Yet?

 .

Funny how things that used to be a VERY-BIG-DEAL suddenly become a so-what issue. Stay with me here, but it seems that the whole Conventional vs Natural  vet medicine argument looks a whole lot like Traditional vs Indy pub discussions. Gets ya wantin’ to show your big-dawg teeth, don’t it?

I remember–(OMG, I’m channeling my grandma!)–when “holistic medicine” was woo-woo WAY-OUT-THERE on the fringes stuff that old-wives told tales about but was discounted by all the savvy scientific in-the-know types. I was a skeptic while researching holistic aka wholistic aka natural aka complementary aka new age, aka “WOO WOO” medicine for pets. Hell, they couldn’t even decide what to call it, so how could anyone take it seriously?

But slowly, steadily as I talked to these “fringe vets” about why they did what they did, the lightbulb went off. These weren’t crackpots…okay, some were pretty out there…but for the most part they’d practiced conventional Western vet care for many years. And simply got fed up when failed protocols frustrated pet owners leading to early pet death. Instead of quitting, or doing the same-old that didn’t work, these pioneers went a-lookin’ for answers, from the past, into the future, sideways and downstream every which way. While I don’t buy into every single “natural” trend, I know they have their place and offer great benefits to pets and owners.

Golly-gee-willikers, but for us writers that sounds awfully familiar. I was die-hard Tradional Publishing for 20 years, raising skeptic’s questions and pitying those souls who “resorted” to self publishing aka vanity printing. But slowly, steadily as I talked to these “fringe writers” about why they did what they did, turns out most aren’t crackpots. (Note: I said “most!”). They’d tried the conventional route, many were widely pub’d like Bob Mayer, and JA Konrath and Barry Eisler and too many others to list–and they’d simply got fed up when failed protocols frustrated copyright owners–the authors–leading to early book death. So instead of continuing on a flawed path, these pioneers snatched the reins.

Me, too–although I’m not in their league. Yet. Working on it.

And just like in the “old days” when natural vet medicine was fringe and marginalized, the Indies are being treated like yapping Chihuahuas nipping at the heels of conventional publishing. Am I wrong here? Hellooooo, when did exploration and finding creative ways to help pets–or authors–become forbidden?

Toy dogs don’t get the same respect as the big dawgs. But we’re sparkly bitches, no matter the size, with big-dawg (and cat) attitude that deserves to earn and learn on the same !#$%^&*()_+! playing field.

Vet medicine seems to’ve traveled further along that path. Even ten years ago, using herbs, home prepared foods, acupuncture and nutriceuticals was suspect. Today, old fashioned “natural healing” is the new cutting edge and veterinary medicine has gone back to the past to treat and cure pets. Pet food companies slap NATURAL on the labels, pharmaceutical research explores herbs for cancer therapy, and nutriceuticals that change gene expression wow us with healing power.

”Dr.

Dr. Shawn Messonnier was the “natural vet” when it wasn’t kewl. He explains the concept and why he decided to expand his practice to include holistic treatments in my latest Pet Peeves radio show. Today we call it “integrative medicine” or “complementary care” because it works best alongside conventional “Western” therapies and offer pets the best of all possible worlds. The latest Pet Peeves radio show features Natural Medicine & Veterinary Care with Dr. Shawn including his most recent book Unexpected Miracles: Hope and Holistic Healing for Pets.

And who’d a thunk it? Just discovered my out-of-print book New Choices in Natural Healing for Dogs & Cats –the book that changed my mind about vet care–has been fairy-godmother’d Kindle-ized by the publisher. Gonna have to check my contract and see what royalties I’ve got coming.

I’ve no doubt that the “new age” publishing will also become integrative and complementary. We’re coming closer but not there yet. How do I know this? Because the little dogs and big dogs are still “baptizing” and marking territory–and because the hardcover book is priced $2 cheaper than the Kindle version. Uh…hello?

What do y’all think? “Daddy, are we there yet? . . .” in either vet medicine or publishing?

 

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! Hint: Pet Care in the New Century includes “cutting edge” medicine from both sides of the holistic/western med exam table.

Thoughty Thursday: Feets, Don’t Fail Me Now!

Show your dog-matic purr-sonality with Tobi Levi designer shoes.

 A colleague sent me a link to the shoes above  and now I lust after these designer dawg togs. Those who see me at public appearances know I love the unusual, the sparkly, the stand-out-from-the-crowd-icity and choose my attire accordingly. I get some kidding over it–and have also been accused of being gaudy and garish.

Get over it. I’d rather be garish and noticed, warts and all, than safely “appropriate” and fade into the background. I had enough of that as a kid. A colleague of mine, Kristen Lamb, I admire very much. She blogged yesterday that many of us “need more cowbell.”  Guess I’ve been a-bangin’ that bell for quite a while, and it’s paid off. I seem to be known for the sparkles and bling–and I pray that translates into the writing as well.

No, you don’t have to literally bang a gong (or cowbell), or wear designer shoes to get noticed. But by all that is hairy, your writing–your causes for animals, for kids, for your I MUST DO THIS (fill-in-the-blank)–had better have intrinsic “sparkle-icity” or it won’t matter what you do. You’ll be that wall-flower faded into the background, unnoticed and undervalued.

What’s your MUST DO THIS cause? And how do you shine a light on that effort? Do you wear sparkly socks? (guilty!) Known for hats? or for puns? (guilty again!) Or are you known as a listener, gentle critic, helpful mentor? What is your gift–and how do you express that gift?

The snow boots (above) keep my feet dry and warm when I trudge around keeping up with the Magical-dawg, and certainly could be muddy brown and do the job. But the colors make me smile, remind me about MY cause, and help me focus. No matter what I do–blogging, fictioning, singing, playing with the fur-kids–I must honor the effort with all-of-me so the passion and joy shine through. I LOVE what I do–can you tell?

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!

Tuesday Tips: Copyright, Pictures & Shocking Info

Today’s post will be short and sweet, just like “tips” should be. Lots of folks who visit blogs also host their own blogs–and images make ’em great!  Just a caution, though, to treat images the same as you’d treat text and respect copyright. Some bloggers have learned this the hard way and been slammed with lawsuits by “lifting” images or even portions of text from other online sources. I’m not an attorney, but “fair use” generally covers all but the most egregious infringements–BUT, lately one law firm has targeted bloggers.

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”Some

Thanks to my colleagues a the Cat Writers’s Association for sharing information about the Righthaven Victims blog which explains how you can avoid being a victim of frivolous lawsuits. It includes definition of “fair use” so you have some guidance for your future blogs. There’s plenty of royalty-free images on the ‘Net and no reason to put yourself at risk. And yep, I own copyright in all the images in this post. *s*

Google copyright infringement case also got punted last week. They took it upon themselves to digitally scan and make available out of print books they believed to be in public domain–but lots of authors’ work got caught up in the round up, including mine. Why should Google harvest income from these books and force authors to jump through hoops to “opt out” of the program? Well, a judged agreed and rejected the proposed settlement. It’s not finished, of course–you can learn more about the whole @#$%^&*! situation here.

”Would

Blair Sorrel, Founder of Street Zaps, sent a warning to beware of contact voltage hazards that can electrocute dogs, people, horses and their riders or really any critter. The voltage can mame, cause severe pain or kill your pet in an instant. Any metal fixture potentially could conduct current–and dogs in pain lash out and bite. Blair urges everyone to simply EYEBALL THE BLOCK, AND AVOID A SHOCK. Look for plastic, wood and cardboard that does not conduct electricity, and listen to your dog–if he’s resistent to walking in a particular area, change directions. It could save his life, and yours.

So where do you get your blog pictures? Have you ever had your writerly work swiped and used illegally? What about “shocking” pet situations–static electricity thank goodness is the most I’ve had to face.

I love hearing from you, so please share comments, tips 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! Be sure and check out tomorrow’s Woof Wednesday for some breaking news!

Woof Wednesday: Water Works & Writing Ahead

 7-22 magic water 3

It’s only March but here in Texas we’re already into the 70s. By July, temperatures will reach triple digits.  I swear my GSD, the Magical-Dawg (above), must have Labrador in him because he loves water so much. He’s already begun to stop by the outside faucets and look with doggy lust at the unattached hose coiled on the ground. He loves water so much, you’d think bathing would be a breeze. But it’s nearly impossible to bathe him because his fetch-the-water game prevents a good rinse cycle. And he’s too big to stuff in the washing machine.

We don’t have a swimming pool. According to friends, they’re a money-sink but I gotta tell you, I’d take chlorinated water over stinky-parasite-infected tank. “Tank” is Texan for man-made mud puddle for livestock. Magic thinks it’s his personal playground, perfect for floating balls. Last year he contracted powerful projectile diarrhea from imbibing, so I’m not a fan–and use the hose and wading pool innovation to keep him away from temptation.

Dogs don’t think ahead, they live in the moment. I know spring has barely sprung, but writers live 6-12 months in the future. I’ll be interviewed this Friday by Family Circle magazine for a feature on aging dogs and aging cats scheduled for their August issue, yee-haw! And I just turned in two articles for Catnip and Your Dog magazines (published by Tufts University) on summer pet concerns, including pool safety. While writing for the Internet can mean more immediate publication, writers targeting print should be pitching Fall topics by now. 6-16 swimnymbus

Most cats don’t care for water but a few like Turkish Vans and Bengals may jump right in. Pets are natural dog-paddlers (even cats!) but easily drown if they can’t climb out, get caught in a rush of water, or get too tired to float. Puppies, kittens and small dogs are at highest risk for drowning. Their inexperience, curiosity and fearlessness prompt them to explore. Certain dog breeds with very heavy coats become weighted down when wet, while Bulldogs and similar pooches simply aren’t built for effective swimming. The steep sides of backyard pools, hot tubs, kiddie wading pools or even toilets may prove particularly dangerous, depending on the size and age of the pet.

bulldog

Most backyard pools have steps to get out along with a shallow end. Teach your pet how to find these easy exits. For instance, place a large visual marker such as a planter near the shallow end or steps. Then when King does his doggy dive, or Sheba leaps into the wet, lure the pet to paddle toward the planter and demonstrate how to climb steps. Praise him when he finds the way out. Never leave pets unsupervised around the pool.

Are your dogs (or cats) water-babies? Do they chase the hose like Magic, or shun the tub like my Seren-kitty? I would LOVE to see how Magic reacts to a real pond or even the seashore. I’ve heard of some dogs who try to “herd” the waves. How do your dogs react?  I must admit, I admire pets’ ability to live in the moment. I’m stuck in the future, channeling Thanksgiving and snowstorms.

I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions–and to stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe this blog, “like” me on Facebook, listen to the weekly radio show, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter with pet book give-aways!

Thoughtful Thursday: Miracle Survival, Million-$-Dog and More

Million dollar dog–oh, really?!

Today’s blog is short and sweet—and sort of a mashup of a number of items that make you go,

Holy Crappiocca!

I had a migraine all day yesterday and about the only thing that helps is a nap with my fur-kids around me. But I had to work. Many of y’all know I’m on the Internet quite a bit. Okay, I’m online nearly 24/7! Anyway, I put off looking at several emails until late last night and this one blew my headache all to heck. It’s footage of two dogs abandoned when their owner had to get outta dodge due to the Tsunami…AND—THEY—SURVIVED!

On to another HOLY CRAPPIOCCA! moment, this one not in the same league, clearly. I love my dog (and my cat). I know that you love your fur-kids, too. Heck, the blog yesterday had nearly 900 visitors (was emailed more than 2000 times, yikes!) so I know people worry about what pets think of us. This short article makes me wonder, too, how much would YOU pay for a pet? How about–$1 million. I—kid—you—not!

Do you dress up your pets? The closest I could get to this with my pets is providing them with sparkly toys or plush beds. But I have no doubt we’ll see a flurry of “green” wearin’ non-Irish-pet-pictures flooding the internet today. Even cats get into the act! I recently filmed “Cheddar” the Siamese at a cat show wearing his “grinch” costume and the cat’s owner said the 16-year-oldster feline has more than 60 outfits and loves wearing them. Judge for yourself—but to me that “love” looks more like “too tired to care.”

National Pet Parent’s Day is April 17, sponsored by Veterinary Pet Insurance Co. (VPI). They’ve partnered with American Greetings to offer a free customizable Pet Parent’s Day e-card. Beginning March 15 and extending through the month of April, visitors to www.PetParentsDay.com can send an American Greetings e-card to the pet owners in their lives who consider four-legged friends a part of the family. Okay, gang, is this something that you’d do? I probably would. But then I’ve been known to wear my rhinestone #1-Bitch pin in public.

So the burning questions today: How do you express your pet love?

Woofs & purrs,

amy

To stay up to date on all the latest cat-egorical or dog-matic content, subscribe to this blog, “like” me on Facebook, listen to the weekly radio show, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter with pet book give-aways!

Woof Wednesday: Coyotes, Frisbees and Annoying Dogs

 

My Magical-Dawg loves to run. I’ve lost weight since we got him, just trying to keep up. We have 13+ acres in N Texas, most of it pasture but about four acres in trees and scrubby “schtuff” that can’t be mowed. Every morning we patrol the spread and the dawg-type turns into a nose-with-legs to inhale every bit of nuance he can.

Throughout the day, we take Frisbee-Breaks but stick to the front pasture. He heads out before me and waits for the first throw, dancing doggy joy until he can snatch it from flight. I run Magic up and down the length of the property as many as a dozen times until his tongue drags in the dirt—so I can work without interruption for another brief stint. We’ve got it down to a science. I take three Frisbees, and he must bring the thrown one back before the next gets lobbed—and on the final pass, he brings ‘em back while I hold the two reserves down with my foot. While he’s shoveling them into hi mouth, I can get the leash back on.

He’s not a fan of the leash, but it’s necessary.

The property was nicknamed “Rabbit Hill” by the old timers, and still fosters cottontails by the dozens. I’ve seen wild turkeys, lots of armadillos, aka ginormous pill bugs, and even a few bobcats. But coyotes rule. They especially rule early mornings, and dusk.

Yesterday late afternoon when we headed out for our Frisbee-Break, Magical-dawg raced away before I got out of the doorway. A coyote had DARED to stomp on his pasture! Off he went to give the cheeky devil what-for. . . and as Magic’s black tail disappeared into the scrubby “sctuff” beyond the pasture, a second coyote appeared and raced after him. Oh. My. Heavens.

Now, Magic loves his Frisbee. About the only thing that trumps Frisbee-Fetch is a car ride–honk the horn and he’ll come running from anywhere. But chasing a coyote trumps all. I didn’t bother trying to call him back, just gathered up the remaining toys and trotted after, listening for howls, snarls, or other doggy celebratory shindigs.

After one call at the edge of the property, here came the oh-so-proud Magical-Dawg (GOOD boy!), tongue dragging the dirt and tail wagging with satisfaction. I handed him his Frisbees, and clipped on the leash. And then he dragged me back over the rest of the 13 acres to track where the coyotes had been, all the while toting those precious toys.

Did I mention the leash really hisses him off?

We adore dogs even though we whine about their behavior. After all, we’re “perfect” owners so why do Max and Fluffy bark at all hours, gnaw the kid’s new shoes, or (gasp!) hump the Pastor’s leg?

While aggravating dog habits make owners show their teeth, clueless humans also raise the dog’s blood pressure. Here’s my latest Paw Nation article about 7 common things you do that make your dog howl. By the way, Gina Misiroglu of Red Room put me in touch with the AOL people, which is one of the great ways in which she’s bringing traffic to Red Room and getting attention for Red Room’s authors. 

Okay, I told you mine now you tell me yours—what hisses off your pets?

Woofs & wags,

amy

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