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Lost And Found Thriller: Dog Viewpoint Excerpt

Karma Reviews Kong
Karma Reviews Kong

12:21 p.m.

Shadow howled frantic harmony to September’s cries. He didn’t know how he could hear her in the car. She wasn’t here. And she couldn’t hear him, though he barked loud and long.

His fur stood at furious attention. He showed his teeth, snapped and snarled, eager to defend. She was his person. A good-dog protected his people. He had to find her. Shadow keened and paw-punched the cage.

“Stop it.” In the front seat Teddy clapped his hands over his ears. “Shut up. Be a good-dog.”

A good-dog obeyed people. Shadow paused and flattened his ears. He licked the wire of the crate and whimpered. September screamed, and Shadow threw himself against the wire again. The latch jiggled. So he did it again. And again.

“Quiet, no, no, no, no. Bad dog.”

Shadow ignored Teddy’s growls. He didn’t care. He’d be a bad-dog on purpose. How could he ignore September’s screams?

“Shadow, please stop. You’ll hurt yourself.” Teddy turned around in the car seat and his brow wrinkled. His eyes rained wet.

Shadow paused. He whined. Maybe Teddy did understand. His tail wagged the hopeful question, and he tap-danced in place. He willed Teddy to understand.

“I called the police. They’re on the way.” The old man made no move to open the door. He just sat there, and ducked his head each time September screamed. “We just got to wait.”

Yelping in frustration, Shadow bit the wire mesh of the door, growled, and snarled. Tugged—like with Bear-toy. His gums split on the sharp wire. Salt-copper tang raised his arousal. His tail churned the air and battered the cage, a drumbeat counterpoint to the tug-contest.

The old man’s scent chemicals choked the stale air, and cried “uncle” louder than puppy pee. Teddy had given up.

Shadow grabbed the wire and shook it. Bloody drool spattered the floor of the crate.

Teddy covered his ears. He surged forward, fiddled with something, and September was silenced.

Shadow cocked his head. He licked his lips, shuddered at the copper taste, and stared at Teddy. Shadow woofed, yawned and whined, the most persuasive tone he could. He pawed the door. Two claws had torn loose, and added to the blood on the floor. He couldn’t make it any clearer. He needed out.

The old man waggled his head. That meant no. Shadow furrowed his brow, cocked his head. But he was right. He knew it. To protect Steven, he’d learned to think for himself, to make right choices, no matter what. It was a good-dog’s job to know when to disobey. That time was now.

Shadow laced back his ears, lowered his head. He hurled himself against the front of the crate. Backed up and did it again. He’d force the door open. Get out. Go to September. Because he belonged with her. Because they belonged together. Because he must.

His body battered the cage like a furry mallet, and jiggled the clasp open increments at a time. The fastener worked like his kennel at home. He’d get out. He didn’t need Teddy. Shadow wasted no further breath on howls.

“Please stop. I can’t let you out. Be a good-dog, shush, just calm down.”

Shadow knew the man was staring at him, but didn’t pause. Each grunted impact moved the hasp closer to opening.

Teddy swiveled, flung open the door, and lurched out of the car. Shadow redoubled his efforts. He pawed the hasp. It moved in his favor. Another claw caught, and he yanked it free with a yelp. But the latch almost opened. He uttered frustrated whines, and he switched paws to continue the onslaught.

Teddy rushed to the back of the car and opened the tailgate. “Damn dog.” He reached to secure the fastener. “Hell, it’s nearly open.”

Shadow roared.

The old man flinched and yelled, “Back off!”

Teddy’s sudden command stopped Shadow dead. He watched, suspicious but hopeful. The man stared at him.

“You convinced me, dog. It’s your choice. And your grave.” His voice caught. “So okay, you crazy sonofabitch, you want out?” He reached for the crate door.

Out, yes! Shadow didn’t wait for Teddy. A final body-slam rocketed open the latch. The metal grate whipped into the man’s glasses and sliced open his cheek. Teddy toppled backwards into the snow.

Shadow vaulted from the car, and cleared the sprawled figure with one joyous leap. He found September’s scent, and hop-scotched and bulldozed through snow so deep it scraped his belly. But the bloody paw prints left in his wake spelled a message of fear, hope, and determination only good-dogs could read.

Read a new review of this book here!

I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. CLICK the above BOOK TOUR icon to learn about the next blog tour stop and how to enter for your chance to win paw-tographed pet books including LOST AND FOUND.

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!

LOST & FOUND Tour & Pet Theme Prizes

Follow the Book Tour & Enter the Give Away

Prize: Dog-centric or Kitty-styled basket

Find Your Lost Cat-Luv Basket:
Includes “paw-tographed” to the recipient, books Lost and Found (authors debut thriller) as well as the nonfiction books Complete Care for Your Aging Cat and a “surprise” cat book from another colleague. It would also include an assortment of cat toys/treats/products. (Believe me, I have a BOATLOAD of toys/books ready to ship! Check out a picture and list here!)

Find Your Lost Dog-Luv Basket:
Includes “paw-tographed” to the recipient, books Lost and Found (authors debut thriller) as well as the nonfiction books Pet Care in the New Century: Cutting-Edge Medicine For Dogs & Cats and a “surprise” dog book from another colleague, assortment of dog toys/treats/products. (You cannot imagine the AMOUNT of toys/books I need to send! Here’s a picture and list of contents!)

Open to: 18+, US

Giveaway period: Starts at 12:01 am on November 5, 2012 and continues until 11:59 pm on November 25, 2012. All times are Eastern.

How to enter: Rafflecopter – Log in with your name and email or Facebook.

  • Click “Do It!” button to read the instructions for each entry option.

*If the rafflecopter form doesn’t appear, please wait a minute for it to load.

CLICK THIS LINK TO REACH THE ENTRY RAFFLECOPTER!

Magic with pile of Lost & Found books

Magical-Dawg is a discerning reader.

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!

Attack Cat!

The Masked Kitty

Is your kitty the Masked Avenger, ready to protect life, limb and property? Image Copr. Karla Spence

Is your pet an attack cat? Does he or she serve as a guard kitty, able and willing to keep bad guys at bay?

Debbie Russell, one of my IAABC behavior consultant colleagues, recently read my debut thriller LOST AND FOUND and posted a lovely and very positive review that said in part, “I also loved Macy’s role at the end of the book.” (Thank you, Debbie! read the rest of the review here.)  For those who haven’t (yet 🙂 read the book, Macy is the trained hero cat who literally “nails” one of the bad guys.

Debbie also emailed me. She said, “You’re probably aware of this, but cats, when they bite, can absolutely savage the target before nerves even have a chance to respond to, “hey, I’m being bitten!”  I once had a cat land three deep bites before my CNS could even begin to yank my arm back.  I cringed on Macy’s attack.”

She also gave me permission to share these two true fascinating tales of cats defending their owners/territory:

We had dinner with a couple, and the husband told us of the following event. He was a teenager, sleeping and awoke due to some noise coming from the living room.  He picked up a bat and went forward towards it. His Dad, whose bedroom was on the other side of the living room, heard it also and came from that side. What did they see?   Their giant Maine Coon had a man on the ground, behind the couch, totally torn up. 

He was screaming “Get it off of me!   Get it off of me!”  

They tried. It wasn’t easy. Apparently said MC hadn’t learned “aus”. (“Aus” is the German release command used with dogs.)  When they approached, he’d just growl. I imagined him thinking, “MY PREY!  I can eat off of this for a month.  Go find your own.”  

Eventually they got him off the guy, police arrived, etc.  However, this cat had even managed to tear through the intruder’s leather jacket.  Impressive, huh?

And a second story . . .

I can’t remember where I heard this, but remember it as true.  A woman awoke to see blood splattered in her stairwell leading to the upstairs bedroom.  She called the police.  Based on the blood splatter, they determined that the Siamese must have launched him/herself at the intruder’s head from the stop of the stairwell.  Yikes.  Can you imagine?  

Yes, I can imagine! My cousin once told the story of their cat that liked to lounge on the top of the refrigerator, next to the back door. A burglar entered the house, and…you guessed it…kitty launched an attack from on high, and drove the intruder from the house. As I recall, they knew because of the blood stains and door left open. Does this sound familiar? Where did you think I got the idea for that Macy scene? 🙂

I’ve also had consults with cat owners to help them diffuse territorial aggression and “guarding” areas of the home, especially when visitors enter. One client’s cat wouldn’t let the pet sitter to enter by the back door (the cat “owned” that area) but was fine if the pet sitter arrived from the front door. Cat-to-cat aggression is much more common (and discussed with tips to solve it in my ComPETability-Cats book). But cat-to-people aggression can be horribly dangerous and terrifying.

If you’re looking for information about dog attacks, go here.

Then there are cats who sleep through strangers coming and going, while others probably would show burglars where you hide the silver. Where do your cats fall in the scheme of things? Do you have stories of cats running to your rescue–if not physically, perhaps sounding a warning? Please share!

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I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? Do you have a new kitten and need answers? NOTE: Some links to books or other products may be to affiliates, from which I may earn a small percentage of sales, but I recommend nothing unless I feel it would benefit readers. Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter. Stay up to date with the latest book giveaways and appearances related to my September Day pet-centric THRILLERS WITH BITE!

Cat Urinary Blockage, Feline Urinary Tract Disorders & The “Stoned” Cat

Cat Urinary Blockage, Feline Urinary Tract Disorders & The “Stoned” Cat

Has your pet ever suffered from a cat urinary blockage? Do you know about FLUTD? Maybe you’re puzzled why your cat suddenly pees outside the box? Does he have a cat urinary blockage? How can I stop my cat from peeing on the carpet?

If you’re asking these questions, you’ve come to the right place. Feline lower urinary tract disorders (FLUTD) can cause deadly cat urinary blockage. It frustrates cat owners—and also the cats! A cat urinary blockage can be deadly, so it’s vital to recognize the signs of a feline urinary tract disorder.

Cat Urinary Disorders

Your cat has always been faithful to the litter box. After all, you trained your kitten to use the litter box from the beginning. But suddenly your adult cat, Tom, leaves damp messages on the carpet, Sheba cries and squats right in front of you, and bloody urine puddles in the bathtub. This is different from urine spraying, and is a cry for help.

Some litter box problems can be easily solved with these tips. When your well-trained cat suddenly begins missing the mark, that can be a sign of a health problem. Any health issue requires veterinary help.

cat urinary blockage

Cats with urinary tract disorders often spend lots of time just sitting in the box.

Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disorders (FLUTD)

Cats are known to suffer from a group of disorders, including stones, as a part of Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease or FLUTD. Male and female cats are affected equally.  Urinary bladder stones occur in only about 20 percent of cats suffering from LUTD.

Actual “stones” of pebble-size and larger can develop. More commonly the tiny mineral deposits (called urolithiasis) are microscopic to sand-size. A mucous-crystal matrix can plug the urethra and prevent the bladder from emptying and cause cat urinary blockage. Just think back to your childhood, remember a never-ending car trip with no bathroom access. Multiply that discomfort tenfold to understand how the blocked cat feels.

Signs of Cat Urinary Blockage

Signs of urinary stones may include any one or combination of a break in housetraining, dribbling urine, straining in the litter box or spending lots of time “posing” with little result, bloody urine or urine with a strong ammonia smell, crying during urination, or excessively licking the genitals.

Diagnosis is based on these symptoms, urinalysis, and/or X-rays to reveal stones in the urinary tract. Without prompt medical attention, the blocked cat will die when toxins build up in the bloodstream, the kidneys stop working, or the bladder ruptures.

FLUTD & Creating Kitty Urinary Crystals

Not all stones are the same. Crystals and/or stones form when specific minerals and organic substances are present in the urine in the right concentrations. In addition, the urine must be the right pH (acid/base balance). It also must stay in the bladder long enough for crystals to form. Consider pancake syrup in a pan–if it sits still long enough, crystals form. Therefore, formation of stones depends on volume of urine, concentration and type of minerals, frequency of urination, and genetics.

Cats evolved as desert creatures, and consequently conserve water extremely well. They may urinate only once every 24 to 48 hours. That means urine sits in the bladder for long periods and becomes more and more concentrated. Cats also drink sparingly, and seem to prefer to get water from their diet rather than lapping from a bowl. These instinctive tendencies predispose felines to develop bladder stones. Some kinds of crystals like struvite can be managed easily with diet. Others like calcium oxalate stones are a challenge–and diets that prevent one actually promote the other kind. Yikes!

The cause of feline crystals often can’t be identified. Diet can play a role in the formation of certain types of feline stones. And because up to 70 percent of cats have repeated episodes of stones, diet has become the standard way to treat and in some cases prevent them.

Urinary Crystals 

A dozen years ago, 80 percent of feline bladder stones identified as struvite and developed in part due to alkaline urine. Pet food manufacturers learned to counter this by creating acidic urine (and therefore prevent struvite formation) by adjusting the formulation of cat diets. Bless their furry lil’ hearts! Nearly every commercial cat food on the market today has been designed to reduce the chance of struvite formation, by increasing the acidity of the urine.

When the diet has undergone expensive tests to prove this effect, the label may say, “for urinary tract health.” Honestly, though, all of the major cat food brands do pretty much the same thing. They just haven’t spent extra money on these tests and so legally can’t place a claim on the label.

The Struvite Solution?

A percentage of cats still develop struvite stones despite eating good foods. Special veterinary diets can dissolve existing stones and/or prevent formation of new ones, and most of the major pet food manufacturers offer therapeutic options. Therefore, if your cat hates the first food offered, ask about another therapeutic alternative. Diets only work if the cat eats them.

Cats that become blocked from urethral plugs–crystals mixed with mucus that get stuck in the urinary track–typically are unblocked with catheters to reestablish flow from the bladder. But repeated catheter use may cause scar tissue in the urethra that makes the problem even worse. Perianal urethrostomy surgery may be an option for these cats. The procedure shortens the male cat’s urethra—removes the penis—which creates a wider conduit for release of urine so the urethra doesn’t block as easily even if crystals continue to form.

More Urinary Crystals & Calcium Oxalate Conundrum

Today calcium oxalate stones are becoming most common. Struvite seems to affect younger cats while calcium oxalate more often impacts aging felines. In fact, some calcium oxalate uroliths, especially those in the kidneys, may not cause obvious health problems for months to years. As the cat ages, the bladder becomes less elastic and may not empty totally each time the cat urinates. Over time, this may lead to increased susceptibility to infections and large bladder or kidney stones.

The change in commercial diets to reduce struvite actually promoted a rise in calcium oxalate stones. These struvite-prevention diets increase blood-acid levels, which also tend to leech calcium from the bones. Calcium spilled into the urine can form calcium oxalate stones. Calcium oxalate stones most typically block the ureters–the conduits leading from the kidneys to the bladder–and if too big to pass, require surgery to remove.

FLUTD & Stopping the Stones

So, what can a cat lover do? Be alert for signs of distress. Consider a blocked cat a life-threatening emergency and see your veterinarian immediately. Do your best to reduce cat stress, since that can predispose kitties to repeated episodes.

If your cat has been diagnosed with FLUTD, your doctor likely will analyze the crystals (if present); determine if an infection is involved and prescribe medication and recommend an appropriate diet. Remember that an old cat with calcium oxalate crystals should NOT eat a food designed to prevent struvite, or vice versa. In addition to diet change, avoid giving any kind of mineral or vitamin C and D supplementation to cats, which can predispose to calcium oxalate formation.

Dilute With Water

Increase your cat’s water intake by feeding canned diets, which typically feature 70 percent water. Cats seem to drink more when the water remains fresh or running. Provide a feline drinking fountain, available from pet products stores. More water helps dilute the urine and encourages the cat to use the litter box more often. That way the bladder doesn’t remain full for long periods of time.

While filtered or bottled water isn’t routinely recommended, it probably won’t hurt and might help especially if it encourages your cats to drink more. Try flavoring the water with liquid drained from water-packed tuna or a bit of no-salt chicken broth. All’s fair in keeping cats healthy–sometimes despite themselves.

Seren was always remarkably healthy and (knock wood!). She never missed the litter box until she reached age 20 or so. Karma-Kat hasn’t had issues thus far, either.. What about your cats? Have they had problems missing the box? Crystal issues? What has been your kitty experience with regard to lower urinary tract issues?

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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!

LOST AND FOUND–IS BANNED?!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wrap your head around that one!

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

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

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

LOST AND FOUND & READER-ICITY UNCHAINED!

An autism cure will KILL MILLIONS

unless a service dog and his trainer find a missing child . . .

in 24 hours.

Lost and Found Cover

RELEASE DAY IS HERE!

And I’m doing the SNOOPY-DANCE-‘O-JOY!

Here’s the PRINT VERSION of the book at $11.99

Here’s the NOOK VERSION of the book $4.99

Here’s the KINDLE VERSION of the book $4.99

WANT A FREE BOOK?

I’m giving away THREE autographed copies of the book on GoodReads and you can enter for the drawing here.

POST A COMMENT (or a pet behavior question) on this blog  and I’ll add you to a random drawing for another free copy of the book.

SHARE THIS BLOG and I’ll put your name in another time with each share on Facebook, twitter, Google+ etc.  🙂 Just be sure to tag/include @amyshojai or otherwise flag it so I know.

SUBSCRIBE to my PET PEEVES newsletter to get your name in the drawing yet another time and I’ll add a free cat or dog nonfiction pet book and a fun dog-centric or cat-astic item (promise your pets will love it!). YOU have to sign up, I can’t do it for you…here’s the link again.

By the way, winners of the NAME THAT DOG and NAME THAT CAT contest, as well as the owner of the gorgeous cover dog will receive autographed books as soon as I get my copies in the mail–so no need for you to enter.  🙂

WANT A SNEAK PEEK?  Read THE FIRST TWO-AND-A-HALF CHAPTERS HERE!

MAKING AUTHOR DREAMS COME TRUE

Publishing a novel has been a 20-year dream, and I couldn’t have done it without you! YOUZE GUYZ ROCK!

I’m serious. Many of y’all have been my cheerleaders and friends through this journey. You’re dog and cat lovers, pet writers and book readers, experts I’ve interviewed for articles and books, and savvy writer colleagues with your own terrific books who have shared tips and suggestions along the way. You’ve already helped me so much. And I want to ask y’all to offer yet another PAWS UP to this author’s dream–

And also help some other authors along the way. Yes, I want this blog post to be shared by readers and writers–create a PASS IT FORWARD of READER-ICITY that helps as many authors out there as possible. Because the best way To Kill A New-ish Book . . . is to ignore it.

Please don’t buy it unless you really want to and can afford the book (I know $$ is tight). But there are a few things you can do to help books (including LOST AND FOUND) become a success, even without buying the book.

READER-ICITY RULES FOR GETTING BOOKS NOTICED

  1. “Like” it (just click the “like” button on the amazon page, for instance).
  2. “Like” the author page. Here’s mine on Amazon.
  3. “Tag” it. These are descriptive words or phrases that help others find the book when they search for it. (On the book page type TT to open the tag box, highlight the tags and copy into the box, and save).
  4. Read it. Love it. Hate it. Talk about it. Share with friends. Argue about it. Get hissed-off about it. Wag about it. Say it’s GRREEEAAAT! Say it SSSSSUCKS! And then . . . .
  5. Review it (on Amazon, GoodReads, Barnes & Noble, your blog, etc.) ONLY IF YOU REALLY READ IT!

To make me PURRR with delight and look for more furry ways ways to reward my dear readers, please gift LOST AND FOUND with all the READER-ICITY you can muster. But don’t limit this to LOST AND FOUND. Find other books that you love and spread some READER-ICITY LUV!

CALLING ALL AUTHORS!

Once you have offered READER-ICITY to my thriller LOST AND FOUND you have my express permission to post one title, link and short blurb about YOUR book that needs READER-ICITY PIMPAGE (and then share it everywhere).  And I strongly urge all visitors to the blog to take a moment to share the READER-ICITY for a couple more books in addition to LOST AND FOUND and you may just find a new fav author.

Ya know, as far as I can recall a thriller that features dog viewpoint hasn’t yet made it to the Amazon top 100. Wonder why? Surely people who love dogs (and cats) have some paw-power to make it happen.  Wouldn’t it be kewl to get a “best in show” like that? A few well-placed howls and yowls would get the book enough notice to get the furry ball rolling. It’s in your paws.

Now let the comments begin!

KURVES, the REVIVAL CAST

KURVES LOGO, hi rez

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.

Oh Behave!

puppy licking dishes in dishwasher

Dogs aim to help us out–whether we want them to or not! Image Copr. Claire Hodkinson

In reality, pet-loving owners can have unrealistic expectations. Few of us speak “dog” or understand “felinese” at least without practice, and people easily misunderstand normal pet behaviors—and may actually encourage bad antics without even knowing any better. So what do you do?

HELP IS AVAILABLE

Too often, these socially inept cats and dogs (and owners!) means the pet ends up in shelters! Yet there is help available that can literally can save your pet relationship or even the dog and cat’s life. To promote that idea, the Keep the L.O.V.E. Alive Behavior Express Tour sponsored by Ceva Animal Health and the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists may be coming to a city near you!

Dr. Marty Becker, America’s Veterinarian, is a spokesperson at the September 8, 2012 Dallas event (THAT’S SATURDAY, GANG!) where you’ll find free behavior tips, shelter pet adoptions, behavior demonstrations, giveaways and more. My friend and colleague Dr. Amanda Florsheim, a veterinary behaviorist, will also be on hand to field your dog and cat questions. For a preview, check out this hot-off-the-virtual-press radio interview with Dr. Marty at Pet Peeves Radio.

FINDING PET BEHAVIOR HELP

You really can’t separate pet behavior from their health and well being. For instance, the kitty that gets “creative” outside the box may, indeed, be a behavior problem to you but due to a health condition–or a combination of both. Getting the dog checked by the veterinarian can help pinpoint an anal gland abscess, for instance, that makes him snarl when approached from the rear.

The vet can also direct you to the best person for helping you with a potential behavior issue. Some puppy problems can be fixed with training from a reputable dog trainer. Kitty angst prompting frenzied furniture scratching may be soothed with some help from a cat behavior consultant’s tips about enriching the environment. And veterinarians are the ONLY folks able to prescribe medication (for physical or emotional issues) that may be the tipping point for solving big-time problems. Learn about some of the professional behavior organizations here.  You can learn more about questions to ask to find a dog trainer in this article. Of course, your local veterinarian should know who might be available in your neck of the woods. Many of my referrals come from veterinarians.

ComPetability: Dog Behavior ProblemsComPETability: Cat Behavior ProblemsComPETability: Dog/Cat Behavior Problems

MAKING IT PURR-SONAL

Have you ever needed the help of a pet professional like a dog training specialist or a cat behavior consultant? Where do you go for behavior advice? Yes, you can find some solid, helpful tips on the Internet or even in my books–that first one on dog behavior problems is brand new!–but honestly, it’s a toss up how good “free” info might be, and it could do more harm than good. Your pets rely on you to get the best help possible. And the longer a behavior gets “practiced” the more time it will take to un-learn. Just sayin…

What are your top kitty or doggy behavior complaints? How do you manage them? Please share! And if you’re in the area, say “howdy” to Dr. Marty Becker and the other behavior experts at the event. They truly do want to help your pets behave!

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 tuned for more news about my forthcoming THRILLER, LOST & FOUND!

Dog Shows & Putting On “The Dog”

Golden with owner

Have you and your dog ever competed in a dog show? It’s some of the most fun you can have with your canine companion, and isn’t a new activity by any means.

The earliest record of a dog show dates to June 1859 in England, with only 60 hunting dogs (Pointers and Setters) shown. Today the sport of dogs has grown to include more than 200 separate breeds, and expanded beyond pedigree-only dogs to embrace mutts in a variety of shaggy competitions.

DOG SHOW BASICS

I am NOT an expert in purebred dogs or the show fancy. In fact my Magical-Dawg isn’t the right “type” to do well in conformation, although he has the drive and talent to be extraordinary in tracking or other performance sports. It’s not him–it’s me. It takes lots of time and energy and I just can’t manage that right now. If I look the other way and Magic swipes the keys to the Magic-Mobile, no doubt he’ll be heading off to a show of his choice.

clumber spaniel

This gorgeous fellow was one of the first Clumber spaniels shown at Westminster!

A group match features all the breeds that belong to a general “type” of dog–say, the Toy group, which includes the Chihuahua, Pug, Pekingese, Yorkshire terrier and Toy poodle (to name only a few). The American Kennel Club (AKC) divides the groups by function and purpose for which the dogs were bred, or by size.

Sporting Group consists of Labs, Setters, Spaniels, pointers, retrievers; Hounds includes Greyhounds, beagles, foxhounds, etc; Working group includes the sled dogs, draft dogs, Doberman, etc.; Terriers consists of nearly any breed with ‘terrier’ in the name; Toys are by size–the little guys; Non-sporting includes Chow chow, Dalmation, Bichon, Lhasa Apso, etc.; Herding are all the shepherds, sheepdogs, cattle dogs, etc; and the Miscellaneous Class is an odd catchall category for dogs that don’t fit in any of the others. A terrific book to find out more is Cheryl Smith’s The Absolute Beginner’s Guide to Dog Shows . . . I believe she’ll soon bring it back into print.

FUN SHOWS

Is your pooch a show-stopper? There are lots of summertime dog-centric events that you and your dog may enjoy. For instance, this Saturday September 8 can compete and win prizes locally at a fun Bark and Paw Dog Show in Denison, Texas. For the second annual event, Downtown Denison’s Bark & Paw show has certain requirements and “groups” –but your pooch does NOT have to be a purebred.

Register your dogs for free—and then sign up for a variety of contests for $1 each at Heritage Park beginning at 9:00 for the day’s events that run from 10 am to 4 pm. All dogs must be up to date on rabies vaccines and stay on leash for the event (except for specific off-leash contests). Anyone can purchase $1 tickets for fun door prizes, too.

I’m one of the judges—but I don’t know which contest yet. It promises to be a dog-gone fun event! Weinie Dog Races leads off at 10 a.m. followed by a retriever contest, most obedient, best trick, and even contests for the biggest, littlest, ugliest, oldest, and one that traveled farthest.

Don’t miss the 11:00 Pet Parade that travels from Forest Park to Heritage Park with Parade Grand Marshal Luke Robinson, founder of 2 Million Dogs and the Puppy Up walks for dog cancer research (2milliondogs.com). The theme is patriotic so owners can “put on the dog” with matching costumes.

Off leash events are at Forest Park while vendors are located on Burnett next to Heritage Park. You’ll find chair massage, pet massage, veterinarian, groomers, trainers, pet adoption, tee shirts, dog bandanas and munchies for both four-legged and two-legged attendees. You’ll even have the opportunity to drool over and then bid on some awesome custom doghouses at 12:30.

Have you ever participated in a doggy “fun show” event? How’d that work out? Do you dress up your dogs for parades, Halloween, or other holiday events? Do tell!

Remember that all dogs are winners when they have someone to love them. Be sure your dog enjoys events where other dogs and people are present, because some pooches prefer to be home-bodies. Please be especially mindful of the weather and keep your hot dogs safe as cool companions. If your dog loves the spotlight, you’ll all have a howling good time.

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 tuned for more news about my forthcoming THRILLER, LOST & FOUND!

Cover Reveal (again!) and NAME THAT PET Results!

Nope, you’re not high on puppy Prozac. The cover of the book has changed! In fact, this is version number seven, and it’s by far the most striking and mysterious, while offering a taste of what to expect. Like it? I love it! While many folks (me included) thought the first cover worked extremely well, the powers-that-be decided to go another direction.

Isn’t that a great cover quote from D.P. Lyle? I just received another terrific advance quote from the awesome Dr. Marty Becker. Read about ’em on the LOST AND FOUND page.

NAME THAT PET CONTEST RESULTS

Thank you to everyone for your participation in the “Name That Dog” and “Name That Cat” contests to help me find the perfect choices for some of the furry characters in the book LOST AND FOUND.

More than 85 terrific cat and dog names were suggested. I narrowed the choices to about a dozen each, set up polls for you to vote, and we had over 800 votes result.

I’d say pet people are passionate about pet names! Without further delay, here are the results.

DOG HEROES NAMED

Caren Gittleman suggested the winning dog name Dakota because it means “trusted friend” and is also the name of her lovely Sheltie (who helps her co-write Dakota’s Den Blog).

In the book LOST AND FOUND, the main character September mourns the loss of her heart-dog (we’ve all been there right?) who died trying to save her husband. Therefore, her long lost canine partner DAKOTA is mentioned throughout the book.

Raelyn Barclay offered several dog name suggestions including Bruno, which won the second hero dog spot. Congratulations!

When September’s nephew becomes lost in the blizzard, she enlists the aid of a still active senior citizen tracking dog to find the boy. BRUNO is the star in that chapter, and demonstrates that old dogs still have the stuff of heroes.

CAT HEROES NAMED

Patricia suggested the winning cat name Macy. This name garnered more than a hundred individual votes from readers, wow! Macy is the name of Patricia’s seven-year-old yellow tabby, and named after a character in the Bold and the Beautiful television show.

September’s sable and white Maine coon cat is mentioned throughout the book, including cat-training scenes that demonstrate just how smart cats truly are! Macy literally “nails” the villain at just the right moment to help save the day.

Karyl Cunningham has been one of my most faithful blog followers (~waving at Karyl) so I’m delighted readers chose one of her name selections as the second cat hero character–Simba is the second cat name winner. Simba is the name of Karyl’s slightly chubby, arthritic senior citizen kitty.

As in all good thrillers, tragic victims often kick off the story. The first is a lovely woman in the wrong place at the wrong time, and she leaves behind a beloved rescue kitty–Simba, slightly chubby aging kitty with a bit of arthritis who finds a forever home with the victim’s daughter.

In addition to having their pets’ names spotlighted in the book, and their own contribution noted in the acknowledgements, these four winners  will receive an advance copy of the book.

SPECIAL THANKS

Thank you again to everyone who suggested names and voted. The response demonstrates to me why I love pets–and writing about them so much–because never mind the age or breed or attitude. In our heart of hearts, true pet lovers know that EVERY dog and cat has a hero inside them.

LOST AND FOUND is scheduled for release September 20 in Amazon Kindle (and other Ebook formats), with print versions available about a week later. I will of course post to my blog (here) as well as Facebook, but will also send out an email newsletter notification–if I have your email.

In fact, what the hey. Send me an email to amy @ shojai.com with LOST AND FOUND in the subject line between now and the release date, and I’ll add you to the drawing for a free copy of the book. Don’t be shy, you can share this with other thriller/pet lovers.

Now go pet your hero dogs and cats for me. Oh, and stay tuned–the regular WOOF WEDNESDAY blog will go out later today with more puppy-licious info. 🙂

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 tuned for more news about my forthcoming THRILLER, LOST & FOUND!

Feline Friday: VOTE for NAME THAT CAT!

Yes, the day has come. I am delighted at the outpouring of interest in naming cats who appear in my forthcoming thriller LOST AND FOUND. There were 39 total suggestions for feline character names, me-WOW!  I ended up choosing four or five of my favorites from your suggestions and then drawing the remainder out of a fish bowl. Two feline characters will be named based on your votes. (Check out the Woof Wednesday for the doggy poll picks!).

The winner’s names and why they chose their selection will also be included in the book, and winners will receive an advance copy of the book.

Just who ARE these kitty characters?

  • A sable and white Maine Coon “clicker trained” kitty is devoted to the main character, September. He is instrumental in saving September’s life and capturing the bad guy at the climax of the book.
  • A senior citizen domestic (no particular breed) kitty who comforts a family when his/her human becomes a victim of the bad guys–now that’s heroic, right?

Does your cat’s name embody the essence of these kitty characters? Love, devotion, fearlessness, smart as only a cat can be? Looks don’t matter, neither does breed or age or even sex–everyone knows that all cats are heroes at heart when they snuggle with us or bring smiles to our faces when we are at our lowest,  so make your choice and follow your heart!

The poll below allows you to choose THREE (3) of your favorites. You can come back and vote again as many times as you’d like–and I hope you’ll encourage family and friends to champion your kitty cause and also vote.

DEADLINE MONDAY AUGUST 30TH!

[polldaddy poll=6379790

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

Woof Wednesday: VOTE for NAME THAT DOG!

Yes, the day has come. I am delighted at the outpouring of interest in naming dogs who appear in my forthcoming thriller LOST AND FOUND. There were 29 total suggestions for canine character names. Some were wonderful names but the same as one of my human characters (now THAT would be confusing!), and others seemed too similar to other suggestions. I ended up choosing four or five of my favorites from your suggestions and then drawing the remainder out of a fish bowl. Two canine characters, both “hero dogs,”  will be named based on your votes. (Watch for Feline Friday for the kitty poll picks!).

The winner’s names and why they chose their selection will also be included in the book, and winners will receive an advance copy of the book.

Just who ARE these canine heroes?

  • A dark sable German shepherd dog, trained for search and rescue, and protection (Schutzhund) was devoted to the main character, September. He died protecting her husband, and she still deeply mourns his loss. He is the “ideal” dog she compares all other canines to.
  • A senior citizen German shepherd comes out of retirement to track down the September’s missing nephew Steven. He ends up defending his trainer as well as giving September a chance to escape.

Does your dog’s name embody the essence of these doggy characters? Love, devotion, fearlessness, great heart? Looks don’t matter, neither does breed or age or even sex–everyone knows that all dogs have the heart and soul and devotion of heroes, so make your choice and follow your heart!

The poll below allows you to choose THREE (3) of your favorites. You can come back and vote again as many times as you’d like–and I hope you’ll encourage family and friends to champion your cause and also vote.

DEADLINE MONDAY AUGUST 30TH!

[polldaddy poll=6379780

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

Woof Wednesday: Patriotic Dogs

“Even if all friends desert you, the dog remains true…”

I’m loving my dog today, and thanking God for all those who fight for the rights of the underdog.  God bless us and keep our loved ones safe.

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

Feline Friday: Name That Cat!

IMG_3752

Does your kitty friend have “star” power? (Copr. Missy/Flickr

How does the kitty do this? Aw c’mon, you have to KNOW that a cat could outwit, out-maneuver, out-do any bad guy on the planet, right? This lovely kitty, though, also has been trained by the animal behaviorist main character. You never know when a kitty “trick” can be turned to your advantage. 🙂

My blog followers, Facebook friends, nonfiction book readers and pet writing colleagues have been so much a part of this fiction journey, I want to include YOU in the book, too. This Maine Coon kitty has a major role in the book but there’s also a second feline mentioned as well as a number of other dog mentions.

I’d like to give y’all the opportunity to name those kitty characters–name them after YOUR furry wonder, for instance, or a beloved pet that has passed on, or a friend’s dog or even a human relative–your choice. Many of y’all already subscribe to my Pet Peeves newsletter, which hasn’t gone out in a while due to other deadlines :) . I’ll post a reminder in the next several blogs about this to subscribe to the newsletter for your chance to NAME THAT CAT in the forthcoming Lost And Found thriller.

Those who win the naming opportunity will also receive a free copy of the book, and a mention in the acknowledgements. Oh, and let me know in the comments–does your cat do tricks? My kitty hero in the book will sit, sit up, wave, walk on leash, leaps to the top of the refrigerator on command, and will “kill it” (a toy…or bad guy!). The cat was clicker trained.

So please suggest names. Tell me why YOUR cat should be the “hero” feline, or describe what makes your kitty name the purrr-fect choice?

UPDATE

Here’s how I’ve decided to choose the winner(s). Depending on the response, I will select (random drawing) 10-15 dog names and 10-15 cat names, and YOU WILL VOTE (get your friends to campaign for you!) to select the final names to appear in the book.

Those who win the naming will not only get furry bragging rights, and an ADVANCE FREE COPY of the book, but also an acknowledgement in the book itself with a tidbit about your pet who shares that name. Sound good? Be sure to post your suggested name asap–I’ll need to send final edits to my editor probably by the end of July!

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 for your chance to NAME THAT DOG character in the forthcoming THRILLER, LOST & FOUND, and pet book give-aways!

Woof Wednesday: Name That Dog!

Uschi with toy
Some of y’all know that my debut thriller LOST AND FOUND will be published this fall. Last night I sent back edits to my publisher and now we’re working on cover design. It’s a challenge because–well–it has to be right!

Why do I talk about thriller fiction in a Woof Wednesday blog? Because a main character in the book is Shadow, a nine-month-old German shepherd being trained as a service dog for a young boy. Like most authors, I truly KNOW what my characters look like, how they talk and act, and what they feel.

Even Shadow, the dog. Especially Shadow. He is, in fact, one of my viewpoint characters. At a recent writer’s seminar on pitching (a shorthand way of describing the book) I described the book like this:

“In LOST AND FOUND an animal behaviorist and service dog must find an autistic child lost in a blizzard in this adult thriller with the medical tension of Robin Cook and the heart of The Art of Racing In the Rain.”

Hey, I can dream that readers will agree!

Meanwhile, tomorrow I have a photo shoot with a potential cover-dog model for the book. You see, many of the stock photos available of German shepherds either aren’t the right color (black) or the wrong age. And nope, Magical-Dawg is too big/mature for the right look (shhhh, don’t say that out loud or you’ll hurt his doggy feelings!) but one of his relatives might have the right look. Get a load of this gorgeous GSD, already with a tracking dog title at 6 months old, wow!
Chew toy

My blog followers, Facebook friends, nonfiction book readers and pet writing colleagues have been so much a part of this fiction journey, I want to include YOU in the book, too. Shadow is already a main character in the story. But there is a second tracking dog featured, as well several other “relatives” of that canine that are mentioned.

I’d like to give y’all the opportunity to name those dog characters–name them after YOUR furry wonder, for instance, or a beloved pet that has passed on, or a friend’s dog or even a human relative–your choice. Many of y’all already subscribe to my Pet Peeves newsletter, which hasn’t gone out in a while due to other deadlines 🙂 . I’ll post a reminder in the next several blogs about this to subscribe to the newsletter for your chance to NAME THAT DOG in the forthcoming Lost And Found thriller.

Those who win the naming opportunity will also receive a free copy of the book, and a mention in the acknowledgements. Oh, and let me know in the comments–have you ever won a similar “naming” contest? How’d that work out? I know that the Thrillerfest folks auction off naming characters as ways to raise funds for charity but this time around, I want it to be free–and fun for you, too. How should I pick the winner? Please weigh in with your thoughts.

UPDATE

Here’s how I’ve decided to choose the winner(s). Depending on the response, I will select (random drawing) 10-15 dog names and 10-15 cat names, and YOU WILL VOTE (get your friends to campaign for you!) to select the final names to appear in the book.

Those who win the naming will not only get furry bragging rights, and an ADVANCE FREE COPY of the book, but also an acknowledgement in the book itself with a tidbit about your pet who shares that name. Sound good? Be sure to post your suggested name asap–I’ll need to send final edits to my editor probably by the end of July!

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 for your chance to NAME THAT DOG character in the forthcoming THRILLER, LOST & FOUND, and pet book give-aways!

Woof Wednesday: Food, Glorious Food & Worry-icity!

P1010026

“Num, num, num, num…”

PET FOOD RECALL–REDUX

Yes, it’s happened again and the culprit is salmonella. But it’s not home cooking folks or raw feeders, but commercial foods once again. BRAVO to Diamond Foods, the manufacturer/packager of a number of brands, that kicked off a VOLUNTARY RECALL as a precaution even though only small amounts of product actually was suspected to be a problem. Since that initial announcement, additional foods–dog, puppy, cat, kitten–and brands have been added to the recall list. Brands include:

  • Chicken Soup for the Pet Lover’s Soul
  • Country Value
  • Diamond
  • Diamond Naturals
  • Premium Edge
  • Professional
  • 4Health
  • Taste of the Wild
  • Apex Foods
  • Solid Gold

You can find links to the various products along with batch codes and dates to ensure your pets’ foods are still safe or should be returned in this recall blog.

PET FOOD SELECTION

How do you know a pet food is the best for your furry wonder? Every pet is different, of course, but there are ways to figure things out. Reading labels gets you part of the way there–but the labels are a legal document and serve to satisfy the regulators more than they do to inform the public. There are terms that have legal definitions but can be misinterpreted by pet owners (ain’t that the way legalese works?), and even some ways the labels can mislead (accidentally on purpose, LOL!) to get you to open up your wallet. After all, dogs don’t have thumbs or bank accounts so it’s up to us to choose wisely.

Here are a few links to further information about pet foods–much of this applies to cats, too:

What’s On Pet Food Labels?

Learn about Label “Myth-Information”

How Food Claims Are Verified

Learn about Additives In Food

So what do you feed your furry wonder? What does your veterinarian recommend? Do you rely on other “expert” advice and if so, where do you get your information? Have you been affected by the pet food recall? How do you advise your pet-loving friends? Do tell!

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

Tuesday Trumpet! Music, Cat-astrophe & Thrilling News!

NEWS-ABOUT-KURVES!

First off, I’ve added audio files to the KURVES, THE MUSICAL page (above) so folks can finally hear some of the songs.

NEWS-ABOUT-CAT!

Seren-kitty had her vet visit yesterday. She’s not a youngster any more and I’ve  been worried about her health since she’s drinking/urinating more. I’ll have a full recap on Friday but wanted to thank everyone for the good wishes. It is NOT diabetes (whew!). It may be early kidney issues (her tests are ‘borderline’ and not yet in failure). We’re expecting Texas A & M results tomorrow or Thursday to let us know about thyroid function. Paws crossed that’s negative…

NEWS-ABOUT-FICTION!

Some of y’all know that I’ve long aspired to write thrillers. Last Thursday, just before I headed out for the KWA Scene Conference, I heard from my editor at Who Dares Wins Publishing that they will publish my thriller LOST AND FOUND probably this fall (date tba). SNOOPY-DANCE-O-JOY!

Animal behaviorist September Day has 24 hours to find her autistic nephew and his service dog before he–and hundreds of other children–become victims of a deadly experimental autism treatment. And yes, there is “dog voice” as well as a highly-trained kitty, along with assorted quirky two-legged characters in the book.

To say I’m thrilled is an understatement. But today I also learned that I’ve been accepted as an ITW Debut Author class of 2012/2013. When I got that email I bawled. With happiness, of course. But that really upset the Magical-Dawg. Any tears upset him. And yes, the hero dog in the fiction came about by channeling my inner dog/cat. *s*

Anyway, I had to let y’all know my news. It’s been an “on top of the world” to “worry-icity” to “floating-again” sort of week. Sometimes you reach for, grab, and actually catch the brass ring.

*humming* If I can do it, you can do it too…

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

KURVES Pictures

2.Maxine&Mabel

Maxine enters and opens up MAXINE’S GYM.” 1.Maxine enters

8.Boots&Ronnie

“Tell them a story, stall for time, blow some smoke!”” 7.Mabel&Max

10.Boots, Max, Mabel

Maxine tries to sneak a call for help.” 9.Maxine

12.Boots

Boots sings, “My flame for chicks burns like a zippo, I like ’em thin. I like ’em hippo…”” 11.Mabel,Max,Boots,Fingers

14.Boots&Celia

Maxine sings, “Curves, when the road seems straightest there’ll be curves, when the path seems safest there’ll be curves…”” 13.Maxine

19.Mabel,Fingers,Max

Ronnie and Jane get the drop on Boots.” 18.Ronnie,Boots,Jane

21.Celia

“My sister, in the most beautiful dress in the world.”” 20.Fingers,Max

27.Ronnie

“He’s a man?! I thought it was two guys and five babes…”” 24.Boots

31.Mabel

“It’s time to stop your bellyaching.”” 28.Mabel,Ronnie

32.Boots,Fingers,Mabel,Jane

34.Max,Celia,Ronnie

“And I’ve actually walked into the ladies room with you, Max, talk about a man of mystery.”30.Boots,Mabel,Fingers[/caption

36.Celia,Max

“Thirty years is a long time, Max, I can’t just pick up where we left off.”” 35.Celia,Max

38.Max,Ronnie,Celia

“Very nice to meet you, Willy. I’m Mabel. And I’d love to see your lunchbox.”” 37.Mabel,Fingers

40.Boots, Jane

“Stop it! What does the reason matter. Do you still love him?”” 39.Celia, Ronnie

42.Fingers

“I don’t say stuff all el-o-quent-ish the way educated people do, but I’ll do my bestest.”” 41.Mabel, Fingers

44.Ronnie, Troy

Troy enters through the back door. “Ronnie! Mother called, she was getting worried.”” 43.Mabel,Ronnie,Fingers,Troy

46.Company

“The back door’s jammed, I nearly broke my…whatsis trying to get it open.”” 45.Ronnie, Troy,Max,Boots

49.Ronnie, Troy

Troy sings, “Because you fit, you’re part of my picture, we both fit, we’re inside the frame…”” 47.Ronnie,Troy

50.Celia,Max

“The guy died in prison 15 years ago.”” 48.Ronnie,Troy,Max,Boots,Jane

“It fits!”” 51.Jane

STAY TUNED FOR AUDIO OF THE SONGS!

Learn more HERE

Thoughty Thursday WARNING!

”WARNING

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

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

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

TAKING ADVANTAGE, GRRRR!

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

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

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

SCAMS, DREAM-KILLERS, SUCKING WRITERS DRY

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

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

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

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

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

Woof Wednesday: Westminster & More Than Looks

”Malachy

Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show crowned the latest winner last night–a dust-mop-size grinning lap dog with an attitude! I have to say, he stole the show for me, too, despite an outstanding field of doggy divas.

But oh my goodness, that HAIR! So much of it he resembled “scrubbing bubbles” from the wrong angle and the cameras had to search to find his face. Don’t get me wrong, Malachy is the absolute perfect example of the Peke–even though the breed has become somewhat of an extreme. Take what you like in a doggy type and exaggerate it to get the show dog, and it absolutely works in some and not so much in others.

Would you know how to care for all that coat? Magical-Dawg sheds bucketloads of fur each fall and spring, and the how to give pets as gifts helps keep the doggy drifts under control. For a number of the show dogs, when they’re not being campaigned they may be trimmed in more easy-going trims or be covered up with bibs and ear snoods to keep from gumming up those fancy tresses with food or other debris.

I really love David Frei’s and the other announcer’s method of describing the show dogs’ temperament and care/work needs. That Peke is more than a pretty face, and the grooming alone requires hours that some owners may not have. Grooming, of course, involves more than just coat care. Even the mutt-off-the-street needs basic grooming in terms of brush or comb, and a regular bath when they get grubby, as well as toenail trims, ear care, and in the case of the Peke, some special eye care may be needed.

How do you keep your dog spiffy? Do you have a show-stopper? What tips help with the rough-and-tumble dirty dogs like my Magic to help keep grime to a minimum? Please share!

By the way, the winning Peke weighs in at 11 pounds. That’s how much Magical-Dawg weighed when he came home to live with us at 8 weeks.

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

Thoughty Thursday: Thanksgiving & Rainbow Pets

Happy Thanksgiving! After a whirlwind trip last weekend to New York and back, I’m grateful to be home safe again. The Cat Writers’ Association conference has been good to me, and this year was no exception. While I’m thankful for the business opportunities and awards bestowed, those pale compared to the friendships developed through my work. I am honored to be in the company of these wonderful, dedicated professionals.

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-nit 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.

I’m thankful that I found a dumped kitten fifteen 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. 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 Seren only rarely presents a hairball “gift” and that I’ve not found it barefooted at 3 a.m. for many months. 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 now and then. I’m also thankful that she’s decided the dog is a boob and great fun to torment, rather than spending all of her time sequestered upstairs.

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 five 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 or digestive “whoops” 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.

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) who lift me up with friendship and love.

I’m thankful for music that has always been so much a part of my life. I’m thankful for theater that feeds my soul. And I’m thankful my co-author helps me combine music, writing, theater  and pets into exciting new possibilities–see the sample in video, below. Note that all the CUTE DOG AND CAT PICTURES are in the video. *s*

Finally, I’m thankful to you—yes, those who read this blog or any of the other writer-icity hangouts I frequent. 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.

RAINBOW PETS

Black and white, brindle or tabby,
Merle or brown, sable, Abby,
Persian, Collie, whole or fixed,
Rainbow pets a perfect mix.

I was young, I was old.
I was rescued, I was sold.
I was sick, and you were kind.
By some mystic Master’s design
Can’t you see, meant to be
You will always be mine.

Whoops or planned, shown or banned,
Shelter, rescue, foster, pound,
Bottle babies, purebred ladies,
Perfect, damaged, all are found.

You were clueless, so were we.
Lessons learned don’t come for free.
Can’t go back, regrets define.
By some mystic Master’s design
Shed no tear, have no fear,
Pay it forward in kind.

Blond or blue, calico, curly,
Pointed, smooth, wirehair, surly,
Sweetheart, bold, or shy thereof,
Rainbow pets—we’re yours to love.

Love me now, love me then,
Love me when we meet again
At the bridge, the rainbow shines
By some mystic Master’s design
In its light, Ever bright,
You will always be mine.

Why Does My Cat Eat Grass?

why cats eat grass

Of course, be sure to keep your outside cats safe!   Image Copr Elise Feinstein via Flickr

Recently a fun and interesting discussion on my Facebook page generated an Ask Amy video about why dogs eat dirt so it’s not that much of a stretch to ask why does my cat eat grass? Yep, Seren does it too. I suspect many kitties relish the taste of fresh greens. You’ve already seen this Ask Amy about why cats love catnip. The veggie munchies is something different, but what? And why?

Why Does My Cat Eat Grass?

I mean, we consider dogs omnivores like humans–able and even eager to eat a variety of foods and derive nourishment. Heck, the Magical-Dawg would munch used Kleenex and socks if we let him (no, those are NOT in the doggy foods list!). So it makes a weird kind of sense that dogs sometimes crave grass since they eat green stuff as a matter of course.

But kitties are obligate carnivores. They MUST eat meat to derive the correct nutrients to live and thrive. So what’s the deal with grazing? Most times after munching, the kitty hurls–oh goody, more stains on the white carpet. That’s because since they are carnivores, kitty digestion isn’t suited to breaking down grass so it gets purged. The tickle-going-down probably adds to that effect.

A Natural Emetic

Does the cat know eating grass will make him hurl? Actually, there have been some studies that show cats DO quickly associate eating (X-FOOD) with feeling (good-bad-sick-whatever). A cat that eats a favorite meal and then gets diarrhea or painful constipation (even though it’s from parasites) may blame the food and thereafter snub a previous favorite treat. Huh. So maybe cats DO know grass will make them hurl–and they use it to purge?

Grass also contains some nutrients the cat’s body CAN use–like folic acid. Oh, and grass or other veggies can help push nondigestibles on through the body, sort of a kitty colonic. Hey, better the cat goes with a DIY, don’t you think? As a former vet tech I’ve been on that (ahem) other end of cleaning out a plugged up kitty and it ain’t fun for anyone!

Do your cats eat grass? Do you provide gazing ops? Here’s a bit more in this latest Ask Amy.

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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!

Pet Book Author's Rose Garden