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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

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck...
The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck Chapter 1

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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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

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!

Expert Witness in Dog Bite Case

Expert Witness in Dog Bite Case

NOT “Buddy” . . . a stand in, and probably just as lovely as the dog in the post.

I’ve always described myself as a pet owner advocate, one who figuratively speaks for dogs and cats and translates for their owners. But I never realized that I’d serve as a spokesperson in the more literal sense.

In August 2010, a local defense attorney contacted me about a dog bite case that happened many months earlier. At first, he simply wanted my opinion about dog behavior. Ultimately, the court appointed me as an expert witness. I learned this background about the case.

Perfect Storm of Tragedy

The day of the event, the 4-year-old pit bull named Buddy (yes, one of THOSE!) owned by the home-owner’s friend had been placed on a tether hooked to an overhead runner-line outside the fenced yard. This was only the first or second time the dog had ever been tethered, because the home owner (“Grandma”) felt sorry about confining him in a very small dog run. Home owner’s 5-year-old granddaughter loved Buddy and had often been around him, and the dog had never (to their knowledge) growled or offered any indication of aggression to anyone.

Apparently Grandma was babysitting the grandchild, and a number of adults were in the house on the day in question. Strangers with car problems also crossed back and forth through the fenced yard within sight of Buddy, leaving the gate open as they worked on the car.

When the toddler wanted to go outside and play with her tricycle (outside the fenced yard and near the tethered dog), Grandma asked her to wait so Grandma could first visit the bathroom. Other adults inferred they’d go outside, too, and watch the girl. But when Grandma left the toilet, nobody knew where the toddler was. Normally the gate would have been locked closed, but the car problems meant it was left open. They ultimately found the child unconscious, nearly scalped, on the ground within reach of Buddy who sat quietly watching.

Nobody Wins…

Any case of dog aggression and child injury is horrifying. It doesn’t have to happen—and families naturally feel outraged and devastated when such things take place. The Grandmother was, of course, mortified—and the child’s mother upset—but all agreed it was a horrible accident.

Good news—the little girl survived but will need reconstructive surgery. Bad news—the men beat Buddy to death for his crime. Tragic news—the child cried when she learned Buddy’s fate (and she still loves dogs, thank god!) Even worse news—the State (DA) prosecuted Grandma as negligent, charged with criminal injury to a child, saying she should have recognized Buddy was dangerous simply because he was a pit bull. Grandma faced a potential sentence of 20 years.

My Testimony

The case was postponed twice. Finally, last week on March 2, I offered expert testimony to educate the jury about:

  1. Normal dog behavior
  2. Definition of “dangerous dog”
  3. Predictive situations for aggressive behavior
  4. Media bias toward APBT “type” dogs.

During my two-plus hours on the stand, among other things, I explained the importance of puppy socialization and dog training, why tethering a dog can be dangerous, translated common misunderstood “dog language” warnings, and debunked breed-specific “bite statistics” based on my own experience and information from CDC, ASPCA, HSUS, AVMA and many other sources. I was the last witness.

The next day, the jury was out five hours. They came back with a Not Guilty verdict.

RIP, Buddy.

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

Feline Friday: Cat New Year’s Resolutions

”Seren

 

Feline Friday felicitations—and I hope your holiday week has been lovely. Oh, and Happy New Year!  Are you getting all spiffed up for a party tonight? Maybe your cats can help, especially if you have a beautician cat…ever wonder why some cats lick, chew, or even kitty comb your hair? This Ask Amy column offers some fun answers why cats groom owner’s hair.

But don’t worry if some of your fur-kids aren’t quite as, shall we say, bright as other kitties. Yes, some cats can be mentally challenged. But even if some cats are a mouse short of a full basket, we don’t love them any less.

My cat Seren is a genius among cats. Okay, I have to say that, or I’d get no peace! She tells me it’s the purr-fect time to take stock of the past year from a cats’-eye-view, and the year to come. Seren-kitty has seen 13 years come and go (well, in THIS life anyway!), and her youthful outlook is an inspiration for me to maintain that same level of energy. I pray that the years will touch me as lightly as they have my little Siamese wannabe. The last blog gave a dog’s perspective, so it’s only fair to also offer New Year’s Resolutions from Seren, with commentary by Amy.

Seren:  “I will train my humans to offer more treats, more often—away from the (spit) dawg.”

Amy: She insists on “guarding” me during meals, and will even chase Magic away. So I resolve to keep the furry wonders away with the pet-gate closed during meals and only “treat” in the appropriate pet bowl. (We’ll see how long that one lasts!)

Seren: “I will attack all dangerous sparkle balls and leave the poisonous dead bodies for the (spit) dawg to find. ”

Amy: She particularly enjoys sparkle-ball pong late at night with celebratory gallops up and down the stairs. Funny how a seven-pound Siamese can shake the house. . . And yes, Magic likes to eat the cat-spit-flavored toys. I resolve to round up Seren’s catnip mice and sparkle balls each morning, and keep them out of Magic reach.

Seren: “I will learn to turn on the faucet.”

Amy: Seren loves sipping from running water, and her “cat fountain” died this year. Drinking also seems a social affair and water bowls are at each sink in the house. I resolve to replace the cat fountain and save on water bills.

Seren: “I will train Amy the right way to play with the fishing-pole ALL THE TIME!”

Amy: Seren loves Neko Flies and other toys as you can see in this video. But Magic gets frustrated he can’t play, too, and barks—which takes the joy out of her game. I resolve to keep the bedroom door closed during chase-the-bug tag games with Seren.

Seren: “I will sleep more, hiss less. Except around the dog.”

Amy: Seren’s blue bed rests on the dining room table under a stained glass lamp shade.  It’s out of reach of her nemesis, and a favorite spot especially on chilly winter days. I resolve to invest in light bulbs to keep the kitty “heat lamp” on at all times.

Seren: “I will demand more lap time.”

Amy: Seren has never been a lap snuggler, but as a senior citizen, she’s decided a lap-nap on a cold day is her right. I agree.  I resolve to put down the laptop and make room for the cat at least once a day.

Seren: “I will torment the dawg (hiss) at every opportunity! And pretend I don’t like him.”

Amy: Seren’s favorite game is to get Magic in trouble. But lately I’ve noticed when she “calls” him and he arrives, she allows a few mutual sniffs with cordial mews before her head spins around and she morphs into evil-kitty. I resolve to “pretend” that I don’t notice Seren actually sorta-kinda-in-a-way likes the (hiss) dog.

Seren: “I will run to nose-bump Amy every time she points at me.”

Amy: Seren’s furry face graces many cats.About.com articles, and she’s grown used to being a photo model—but is ALWAYS ready for her close-up. I resolve to get better candid-kitty shots.

Seren: “I will train Amy there’s more to nine lives than paw-tapping and staring at a boxy computer-thing. Like catnip. And whisker-kisses.”

Amy: I resolve to listen to Seren.

Happy (Kitty) New Year, folks. May 2011 fulfill all your “pet” dreams.  See you next year!

Woof Wednesday: Doggy New Year’s Resolutions

”Magic

It’s Woof Wednesday—and a good time to take stock of the past year from a dogs’-eye-view, and the year to come. The Magical-dawg romped through 2010 with only a few missteps along the way. It’s hard to keep up with his energy—but it’s good for me to try. So here are New Year’s Resolutions from Magic, with commentary by Amy.

Magic:  “I will train my humans to toss balls with better aim.”

Amy: He  insists on fetch both inside the house and out. So I resolve to keep breakables out of tossed-ball-range.

Magic: “I will kill all squeakers and chew sticky-out wrong parts on toys.”

Amy: He amputates teddy-bear ears, steals cat toys, and ends up with sparkly poop. I resolve to find a Magic-proof squeaky stuffed toy, and keep Seren’s catnip mice and sparkle balls out of reach.

Magic: “I will learn to swim.”

Amy: Magic discovered that the tank—that’s Texan for “man-made pond”—refreshes  inside and out—and provides pungent ambience. Drinking tank water made Magic sick from both ends. I resolve to find a healthier way to cool off my hot dog.

Magic: “I will train Amy to play with the magic-water ALL THE TIME!”

Amy: Magic obsessed over the garden hose used to fill his new doggy wading pool. He’s nearly figured out how to turn on the spigot. I resolve to get dog-proof spigot or risk outrageous water bills.

Magic: “I will steal balls back from thieving coyotes.”

Amy: Magic lost at least eight balls somewhere on the 13-acre property. Several failed the “will it float” test. I resolve to find fetch-able toys he’s less likely to lose.

Magic: “I will find more balls-with-legs and see if they bounce.”

Amy: Magic befriended at least seven box turtles, and “fetched” them home. No turtles were injured—and none were amused. I resolve to protect the wildlife from turtle-bounce dangers.

Magic: “I will go for a ride forever!”

Amy: Magic discovered car rides. He aspires to be a furry hood ornament. I resolve to invest in a safety barrier to keep Magic in the back seat and from behind the wheel.

Magic: “I will catch, fetch, and carry more-more-more Frisbees every day.”

Amy: Magic caught 2,043,713 Frisbees in 2010. Several did not survive. At least 2,043,706 are MIA. Remaining doggy disks get stacked and carried all at once—three or more at a time. I resolve to buy stock in fling-able dog toys, and re-invigorate the country’s economy.

Magic: “I will train Amy that naps together are a good thing. So are tummy rubs.”

Amy: I resolve to listen to Magic.

Happy (Doggy) New Year, folks—what are your dog’s New Year’s resolutions?  If you have a cat, please visit Feline Friday for the cat-version of New Year’s resolutions!

Friskies Cat Writer of the Year

Welcome to all my new visitors. I suspect my Pawnation article on senior cats may have led you here. Today’s blog comes a bit late, reporting some exciting news from last month’s Cat Writers’ Association (CWA) conference and contest. I’ve posted some photos from the event–you’ll notice that I enjoy wearing sparkles from time to time. *s* Yep, there are other professional journalist out there who have a special interest in cats (and in dogs, but that’s a future blog).

The CWA was founded in 1992, and our 17th annual events took place this year in White Plains, New York. I spoke at the conference about my “kindle-ization” experience that was first reported in this blog back in April, and resulted in bringing several books back to life including Complete Care for Your Aging Cat, Complete Kitten Care and others.

I was honored to receive several awards, including several Certificate of Excellence, three Muse Medallions (that’s like Cat Writers “Emmy”), and also two special corporate awards. Yee-haw! I’m still a-purring!

These included the Tidy Cats Behavior Award of a silver engraved bowl and cash honorarium, for my cats.About.com series of articles Cat Talk: Cat Language Explained  Cat talk and cat language puzzles us. Cats have been regarded for centuries as mysterious, solitary, unpredictable creatures because we can t understand what they’re saying. But savvy cat owners can decipher cat language with this article.

The second special award was my third win of the Friskies Writer of the Year Award of a Baccarat Cat figurine and cash honorarium for all my work entered. These included Muse Medallion wins for a Catnip (Tufts University) newsletter article “Dispelling Feline Myths” and two more cats.About.com online articles that address problems typical of aging cats. Separation Anxiety in Cats often affects older felines as well as some youngsters. And very old cats can suffer from Kitty Senility, sometimes referred to as feline Alzheimer’s. Both articles offer suggestions for dealing with these issues.

Thanks again for visiting, and please come back–I’m an equal opportunity pet writer. Doggy issues are often covered here, as well as writer-ly angst, how-to, and more.

woofs & purrs,

amy

Thrillerfest! Videos, Pictures & More

I had a wonderful time–again–in NYC at Thrillerfest.  With four-track speaker panels, it was tough to choose between stellar topics and terrific speakers. And I have to say, the receptions and after-hours spent in the bar catching up with old friends and making new acquaintances was a highlight. This was my fourth Thrillerfest and (hard to believe) it was the best ever! The picture above is of me with my friend Paula Lanier and author Jason Pinter. Visit me over at my Facebook page for more images of Allison Brennan, John Gilstrap, Shane Gericke, Steve and Liz Berry, Sandra Brown and more.

I also managed to video snippets of some of the sessions. But frankly, I was too busy enjoying the event and taking copious notes to do too much picture snapping. One of the best times for me was participation on a “social media” panel, and then a book signing. Go figure–nonfiction pet books were a hit! Of course, lots of thriller/mystery/suspense writers include dogs or cats in the story, so a book on behavior or treating gunshots, arrow, animal bites and such comes in handy. Videos include:

2010 Debut Authors with Brad Melzer speaker, Thrillerfest Saturday July 10, 2010, Silver Bullet winner Brad Meltzer speaks to the audience, and Debut Authors: Avery Aames, Graham Brown, Ryan Brown, Carla Buckley, Teresa Burrell, Pamela Callow, JJ Cooper, Reece Hirsch, Jeannie Holmes, Brett King, Sophie Littlefield, Boyd Morrison, Alan Orloff, Brad Parks, Sharon Potts, James Rubert, Stephen Jan Schwartz, Norb Vonnegut

Make Your Career a Thriller with Panel Master Jeff Ayers interviews authors Joseph Finder, Laura Caldwell, Stephen Coonts, Chris Kuzneski and John Gilstrap

Is Nonfiction More Thrilling? Peter James interviews True Thriller Award Recipient Mark Bowden, and Panel Master Doug Preston hosts nonfiction panel with authors Sean Michael Bailey, Emily Benedek, Mark Bowden, W. Craig Reed and Kathleen Sharp

Lisa Scottoline interviewed by John Land, and Daniel Palmer and Michael Palmer singing “The Writer’s Prison Blues” at the Awards Banquet.

I can’t wait until next year!

amy

Thrillerfest

I’m going to be at ThrillerFest in July, and I’d love it if you joined me! Authors appear on panels, sign books, and talk about writing, and it’d be fun to see you in the audience. We’ll have sessions every day, cocktail parties every night (included in your registration price), and there’s a full bookshop on site, where authors can sign your purchases personally to you. You can meet this year’s superstar headliners: Ken Follett, David Morrell, Gayle Lynds, Harlan Coben, Lisa Scottoline, Brad  Meltzer, Linda Fairstein, and our first-ever “True Thriller” recipient, Mark Bowden, famed for his nonfiction Black Hawk  Down. ThrillerFest is Friday and Saturday, July 9 and 10, at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in New York City. Register and reserve a hotel room (at a terrific rate for New York in the summer) by clicking on www.ThrillerFest.org and following the quick-and-easy directions. (CraftFest with a “speed dating with agents” is on Weds and Thurs). I hope to see you there!

amy

Pet Book Author's Rose Garden