February 2011


This weekend in Atlanta, I attended my first Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators conference.  Dubbed “Spring Mingle”, it is the Southeast members yearly big whoop-dee-do. Since I’ve only recently decided to write children’s books, it was the perfect introduction into the world of the craft. There were so many amazing attendees present, writers, illustrators, presenters, and published authors.

My favorite part of the conference was a critique of my picture book (manuscript only, I’m not an illustrator) by an editor and writer that has published over 50 children’s books of her own.

The critique was optional. For $40, anyone could send in their work for a one on one, 15-minute critique.  I had done this in the past for a non-fiction book that I had been working on, and it did not go very well. This one was so markedly better. For one thing, I wasn’t nearly as nervous. My critiquer put me at ease, and we actually had a lot in common. She also gave me both written and verbal suggestions to strengthen my work, but overall had many positive things to say about it. YAY!

During the conference, there was a lot of buzz among participants about the growing popularity of kindle and e-readers.  This has been of growing concern to writers of all genres over the last couple of years. Will books, much like record albums, become a novelty item from the past?  Will all of our reading, from news to magazines to books be electronic in the near future?

I know of several friends already that get their news delivered online. I also have a few friends that utilize kindle. Like in most things hi-tech, I am a hold-out. I like my newspaper in the morning, along with my coffee and cereal. I don’t mind that black newsprint rubs off on my forearms and finger tips. There is something about the whoosht of getting the folds out of the opened paper that puts me at ease.

Books? I love the feel of the pages in my hands, the smell of an old favorite on my nightstand. And in the children’s book world, specifically picture books, I can’t imagine them being confined to a small electronic screen. I want to point to the pictures, so colorful and vivid, hearing the feedback from the children hearing them and looking at the pictures. I can’t imagine a mother sitting with her child in her lap learning to read on a tablet. It’s just not right.

Kindle and E-readers have their advantages, though. One that is important to me is the fact that they take no paper to add to pollution or the hacking of our trees. They take up less room in your purse, and you can load hundreds of books on them for a mere $10.00 a pop. All huge bonuses.

But what do you do when a newer, shinier version comes out? Electronic waste is a huge problem, and I don’t want to contribute to it. ( I resell or pass my books along to other readers).

Here is an older post I came across this week about the subject.  It’s an ongoing hot topic.

What are your thoughts about pulp-y books vs. e-books? Have you made the switch? Are you a resister? Add a comment and share your thoughts.

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a great big thanks to everyone that contributed towards our pet food drive last week! we collected close to 200 lbs of food and some cash donations, as well. in fact, the director of the save our pets food bank, ann king, stopped by to thank us and to discuss her goals. she is headed to houston, wherever that is, to rally support for a national program to raise awareness of the issue about hungry pets in hungry homes. yay for you, ann!

while mommy was checking out her twitter account, she came across a tweet from “Dawg Blogger” that caught her eye. it’s a book, called “Speaking for Spot” , by Nancy Kay, and it’s a very highly rated book about how to become your dog’s advocate for health and well-being.

i bet you, or someone you know, have had to face difficult decisions regarding the treatment or life of your dog. in fact, when i was still a foster dog (before mommy and diddy became foster failures), i was swimmy-ing at the lake and drank too much water. i became very ill and had a seizure and mommy rushed me to the only emergency clinic open that sunday. they told her i was diabetic and it was all bad news, and how expensive the treatment would be, and how i would basically have a rotten life.
well, mommy took me to her real vet that next day, only to find out i was NOT diabetic, i had water toxicity (which diddy suspected in the first place). so, after spending over $500, we now know to limit and supervise my swimmy times. wish we’d had the book then!
Testimonials for this book are crazy-good, and now mommy has ordered it for us.

have you ever had to make a decision for you dog that troubled you? we’d love to hear your experiences, so please feel free to comment.

until next time, woof!

I have a friend who lately has been extremely frustrated at work.  He is in a high tech job and makes fair money, but his discontentment has pretty much consumed him for the last, say, year or so.

Every time we get together, he “reminds” me of how much he hates his job. “I hate my job”, has become his mantra. It is obvious not only to me and his wife, but to others around him, as well. The negative energy surrounds him like pigpen’s dust bunnies.

“So quit”, I tell him. Life’s too short to hate what you do, and I firmly believe that if you hate what you do, you have to, at least on some level, hate who you are.

“I’ve spent the last 30 years in this field, I don’t know what else I can do,” he counters.

So, every time I see him, nothing has changed.

Right after high school, I made up my mind that I would go into Clinical Social Work and heal the world. I loved it for the first several years, but quickly became disillusioned. It was time to make a change.  So I asked myself, self, what do you enjoy doing more than anything?  The answer to that was easy- travel!

So off I went, back to college in my mis 30’s, to get a degree in travel and tourism, which was my job for another good 10 years.

But I digress. My friend is still in the job he hates and the field he has lost interest in.  I’ve discussed this with a few of my enlightened friends, and we all agree that by holding and giving power to all that negative energy, you create a negative existence.  People have lots and lots of names for this – intention, manifestation, The Secret and The laws of attraction.

I’m not going to go all psycho-babble on you here, you can find out anything about all of these theories on the links above of online. I know that I am a believer in the power of positive thinking, and will push toward my goal with my dreamboard, meditation and just plain talking about it. It is proven that you bring into your life what you think about, positive or negative.

So have you ever come to a dead-end in an aspect of your life? If so, how did you handle it? Please share, I’d love to hear from you.

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“nobody made a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could only do a little” Edmund Burke

did you know that in the last year, there has been a 35% increase in people surrendering their pets to shelters because they either can’t afford to feed them or have lost their home? farmers have had to abandon or slaughter their livestock when the money for feed runs out. some people live in their car with their pets (most homeless shelters don’t allow pets), other people have simply left their pets inside (or outside) with no food or water, to fend for themselves.

some, but not most, of these pets are found and rescued. the others? I’m not even going to go there. who knows, maybe that’s what happened to me? maybe that’s why i was running the streets, half starved, full of worms and a matted mess.

well, there is something that you humans can do. thanks to a great organization called “save our pets food bank”, you can donate animal food to your local food bank. It will be distributed to hungry people to feed to their pets and help them to keep their beloved pets at home, where they should be.

last week, i encouraged mommy to set up a donations drive on our porch. so far we have collected 140 pounds of pet food, and more is coming! every time i look out the window i see all this delicious food and want to just dive in and roll around and stuff myself silly, but now that i have plenty of food, i will be happy to share it with my less-fortunate brudders and sisters.

animals all over the world are suffering. can you help the cause and start a pet food drive? if you can’t, maybe you could make a donation to your local food bank, and desiic, decik,    just tell them it’s for the animals. you can google “pet food bank” and your city to find one near you. If there isn’t a food bank close to you, take food to the local shelter.

annuder way to help is to visit the animal rescue site, and click on the purple button every day. each click helps feed shelter pets. really! and if you buy their neat merchandise,you will fill even more bowls! (you can click on the logo on my site, too!)

i thank you, mommy thanks you, and all the other hungry pets thank you!

Ok, so, as some of you know, I am working on writing a children’s picture book. It’s a sweet, uplifting little book that features the newest addition to our family, Chance the dog, as the protagonist.  (Click here to read his blog)

As you also may know, I don’t have kids. Nope, never really wanted them. In fact, at the age of oh, say, 13, I made the announcement that I would never have children. I think this may be because that’s about when I started being big-time rebellious in my teeny-tiny hometown of  Harlan, Ky. and my mother “threatened” me with words I will never forget. “You just WAIT until you have a teenage daughter!” Yes, it was those words, repeated over a period of several years, that convinced me that I would never give her the satisfaction of letting those words come to fruition.    And honestly, I never regretted my decision to remain child-free.  I’ve never been one of those “oh, a baby! Let me hold him,”  kind of people. Take ’em or leave ’em. Shoulder shrug. No big deal.  Ahhh, but I digress…


Now, at 51, I realize that in order to attain interest in my hidden gem, my soon to be discovered blockbuster debut, that I need a platform on which to stand. And that platform better damn well be related to children.  So, having none of my own, and no nieces or nephews in the picture, where am I going to find little ones that will appreciate my genius?

Rewind a couple of months. While checking out children’s picture books at our public library, I asked the librarian if they had a children’s reading program. It just so happens that their reader left in the fall, and they were looking for someone to replace her. Jackpot! Bingo! I gave her my card, the main branch manager called me, and voila– I am now the Tuesday morning reading lady.

So now I have anywhere from 20-40  1 to 3 year olds that single file into my reading room every week, sit attentively at my feet and listen to whatever stories I have picked out for them that week.  Well, being as my book is about a dog, I typically choose at least one book per session that revolves around a dog, and they eat it up!  (They especially like when I use my “voices” to recreate the dialogue  of the different characters.)  Back in Junior high school, I was into storytelling, and won some regional awards for my re-creation of “The Grandfather Tales” stories in competitions. I’ve always been a storyteller, I just needed an audience. Now I have it. A captive audience, but an audience, nonetheless.

So in the process of gaining a “platform” by volunteering at the library, which began as a purely selfish act, I have come to look forward to my time spent with these little ones.  I love to see their faces light up when they recognize a specific creature on the pages. We have fun practicing the sound a frog, or a dog, or a hog makes.  And when they become restless between stories, we stand up and sing and dance, and I like that, too.   It’s funny how things work out that way.

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lots of times, mommy’s friends send her videos of dog stuff. this one made me smile. it’s about a homeless man in california and his 3 pets, a dog, a cat, and a rat. i love this video because, for one thing, the other animals in it are healthy and happy. you can tell the love that this man has for his pets, and the love they each feel for one anudder. enjoy!
i wish i had had someone who cared for me like that when i was homeless. as you can see in my first post, i had a big girl dog that i took care of, but i was in pretty bad shape, myself.
but that was then, and this is now, and because of some fine humans in this world, both me and my old girl friend dog are living happily ever after. amen!

Ohhhhh… this is really bothering me, and I just have to get it off my chest.

The other day, I was meeting a group of writers for the first time at a local Caribou Coffee. I knew there would be 4 of us, so I looked for a table where we could get acquainted   comfortably. It was just before 11:00am, the coffee shop was smaller than I expected, and I was first to get there. Several of the 4-tops were taken by couples, or people with their laptops and papers spread out. But the ONLY table that sat 6 or 8 was being hogged by one guy- a single guy, with his computer. No coffee, no muffins, nada.  Just this table hog.  Grrrrr…..

And he was so caught up in his own shit. I considered asking him to move, or could we join him, but it was one of those days that I just stewed as I pulled 2 small high tables together and borrowed an extra stool. All the while I watched others come in and ignore him, seemingly unfazed, while I secretly wanted to go over and just shove his smug ass outta that chair and dump my coffee all over him. Or worse.

Is it just me? Do you ever have things like this that seem insignificant to others but they’re a jaw-clencher for you?  Help me out, here.

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