Monday, March 20, 2017

Kansas City Pet Expo

After years of people encouraging me to get a booth at a pet expo, we finally did one last weekend. I can see why it was suggested so often, but the results were very mixed for Serenity Mountain Publishing as a business.

Kimba and Hiro are ready to make new friends!!

We made a deal with the Amazing Pet Expo folks for a corner booth and got one right near the main stage and entrance. Great location! Nothing to complain about there.

We caught folks coming and going from two angles, and the booth got lots of attention. We were also the only books there, which always helps. My favorite question of the weekend was "Are these books to read to your dogs?" Um...If you want to. Lots of books went home in the hands of new readers. That is always a win for us.

A photo that needs the title "This is why I write." Love those ears!
We also had a perfect view of the main stage and all the excitement that went on there. The costume contest on Sunday was a very big deal. We felt sad for some lovely young ladies we met who had gone all out for their turtles and hermit crabs. They were simply outdone by some adults who took this event seriously.

Pug Princess Leia

A service pony, giving a ride to a dachshund. 

Spaghetti Collie

They were fabulous, though none of these won. I didn't get a photo of the tiny little dog in a Western outfit who took 1st place. We couldn't even see her!

There were also other wonderful groups there.

This group brought beautiful birds with them both days. All their animals are rescues who cannot be returned to the wild.

This lovely owl is missing half of his wing, but the span was still impressive.

Charlie the crow spent a lot of time making barking noises like the dogs all around.

We also met a new blogger friend (and fellow member of the Cat Writers' Association), along with her dog Preston, who is technically the voice behind the blog. She is clearly heavily involved with the expo nationwide.
Looking forward to what Spencer has to say. He's the one in green.
Overall, we had a good time. And sales were decent. We have a general sense of what percentage of the crowd we should be able to capture, and we were right on track for that. If we had paid our normal $50-$100 for the booth space, it would have been well worth it. Even with two nights in a hotel. The problem for events like this is the cost of the booth space. After the deals we made, our booth was still $500. We debated long and hard about doing it at all. I did have to allow for the "I told you so" afterward from my doubting business manager. Last pet event for us.

What we have seen over and over is that pet owners (mostly dog owners) come to events like this for freebies and to show off their dogs. Most are not interested in purchasing anything...from anyone. We have to balance what simple advertising we get from events against the time and money it takes us to participate. The reality of writing books is that the publishing and what comes after are a business. As the writer, I'm happy to have booths everywhere and shout about my books to the world. Back to the reality of the world, my business manager (aka my husband, who is a professional money guy) has to rein me in most of the time.

We still had a fun weekend getting away from the house and meeting new people. Although, in our opinion, the freeway system in Kansas City was created by a drunk with a sense of humor. We got lost and ended up in a place literally called The Bottoms that looked like a place where bad things happen. Thank God for the map app on my phone. We followed that little blue dot more than once. We finally figured it out about the time we had to leave.

So, no more pet events. I promise. Sometimes you just have to try and find out. Lesson learned. But I have no regrets about the new friends we met and the books that went out into the world.

And Scott got to eat corned beef and cabbage on St. Patrick's Day (that I didn't have to cook) at Chappell's Sports Bar with football helmets overhead. It's all good.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Kitty Litter Box Issues -- Guest Post

Please welcome Kevin Davies to my blog today. I'm no stranger to litter box issues for a variety of reasons over my decades as a cat owner. One of them did involved kidney disease that I didn't understand (and desperately wish I had at the time). Currently, Miss Hiro refuses to use a box for her own reasons (mostly having gotten jumped by Miss Fatty Cat or Cheetara when leaving the box), but we have reached some compromises and consistency for where she will go potty. Hopefully you can find some answers for your current or future litter box issues.

Kitty Litter Box Issues
by Kevin Davies of

Cat Litter Box Problems: What to do When Your Cat Decides Not to Use the Litter Box

When cats choose to urinate or defecate outside of the litter box, cat owners can rapidly become frustrated and angry with the cat. Feline litter box problems are one of the most common behavioral problems cat owners have to deal with and are also one of the most common reasons cats are given up to shelters, abandoned or forced outside to live.

What many cat owners do not understand is that their cat is not acting out of spite when he/she does not use the litter box. There are numerous reasons for litter box problems, but most of them result from disease, mismanagement of the litter boxes by their human owners or normal feline behavior patterns.

What to do When Your Cat Begins Experiencing Litter Box Problems

The very first thing which needs to be done if your cat begins to urinate or defecate outside of the litter box is to have your cat examined by your veterinarian. Numerous medical issues can cause a cat to urinate and/or defecate outside of the litter box. Other symptoms which may or may not accompany inappropriate elimination behaviors include bloody urine, frequent urges to urinate, excessive urination, excessive thirst, loose bowels or diarrhea and difficulty or pain when moving bowels. If disease is present, successful treatment may resolve the litter box mishaps.

Cats which are unable to urinate need to have immediate veterinary care. Urinary tract obstructions are an extremely painful and life-threatening occurrence and can cause death very quickly if appropriate medical intervention is not performed.

Proper Litter Box Management Can Deter Inappropriate Urination and Defecation

If your veterinarian has found no evidence of disease or illness for your cat, litter box management protocols must be critically examined and modified as necessary.
Adequate numbers of litter boxes must be provided, especially in multi-cat households. There should be at least one litter box available for each cat in the house plus one extra litter box. Many cats prefer not to share their litter box with housemates and inadequate numbers of litter boxes can result in inappropriate elimination.

Litter boxes must kept very clean. This usually means removing solid waste at least once daily. For some cats, scooping several times daily may be necessary. Scoopable litters tend to make this task easier and many cats also prefer the texture of scoopable cat litter.

Place cat litter boxes in various areas of the home. There should be at least one litter box on each floor of a multi-level home. Litter boxes need to be placed in low-traffic areas that are calm and quiet. They should be easily accessible for the cat and care should be taken that the cat is not disturbed or frightened when using the box. This means small children and other pets (such as dogs) should be kept away from the litter box area, particularly when it is in use. Litter boxes should not be placed near washing machines and dryers as these machines tend to make noises that frighten many cats as they go through their washing and drying cycles.

Litter boxes must also be chosen to allow the cat to get in and out of the box easily. For older cats with mobility issues and very young kittens, this may mean choosing litter boxes with low sides which the cat can climb over easily.

Litter boxes should also be big enough to allow your cat to stand and turn in the box easily without being cramped or hanging over the edge of the box. Cats tend to prefer large litter boxes to smaller ones.

Choose the Right Cat Litter to Avoid Litter Box Problems

Use non-scented cat litters. Cat litters that have heavy scents may be more pleasant for us, but some cats object strongly to the scents and will avoid a litter box filled with these cat litters.
Some cats have preferences regarding the texture of the cat litter used. In general, scoopable litters most closely resemble sand and many cats prefer these scoopable litters. However, this is not true of all cats. Experiment with different types of litters if your cat is avoiding the litter box. Try different types of scoopable and non-scoopable litters. Try litter substitutes as well, such as Yesterday’s News®, a pelleted form of recycled paper. Fill several litter boxes with different types of litters and place them next to each other. Observe to see which one the cat uses most often to determine which the cat prefers. Once you have identified the type of litter that your cat prefers, use that litter in his/her litter boxes.

Other Environmental Modifications That Can Prevent Cat Litter Box Problems

Stress has been shown to cause urinary tract disease in cats, specifically interstitial cystitis (a form of inflammation within the feline urinary bladder). Most cat owners do not recognize that an indoor lifestyle is generally stressful for a cat. This is true in single-cat households, but is even more of an issue in multi-cat households. Fortunately, there are some very simple things a cat owner can do to make indoor life less stressful for their cat or cats.

▪         Provide plenty of perches for all cats in the household. Cats enjoy being on a raised surface and may feel safer when they are not forced to nap on the ground. They also enjoy examining their environment from their elevated perches.

▪         Provide plenty of hiding spaces for all cats in the household. A hiding place should be a quiet, secure area where your cat can retreat if he/she feels threatened or wants to be alone. Hiding places that block the view of other cats in the house are also helpful in eliminating aggression between cats. These may be cardboard boxes, carriers left open and lined with a blanket or towel, or cat beds.

▪         Provide food and water at various locations throughout your home if you have more than one cat. This eliminates competition for these resources and avoids fighting and stress from a perceived lack of access to adequate food and water stations.

▪         Provide interactive toys which provide mental stimulation for your cat. Cats have a natural tendency to prey on small animals and appropriate cat toys can simulate that prey behavior and keep cats entertained. Toys with feathers can be used to imitate birds, toys which can be pulled along the ground can imitate mice and other rodents, and laser pointers can imitate bugs. Food puzzles can also be used to provide mental stimulation and exercise for indoor cats. Just be certain not to leave your cat untended with toys which contain strings which can entangle a cat or which can be swallowed, small pieces which could be ingested or other unsafe features. Place the toy in safe location where your cat cannot access it when you are not home to supervise play with these types of toys.

Urine Marking, Urine Spraying and Other Territorial Behaviors

Urine marking is a term which is used to describe the act of urinating outside of the litter box in an effort by your cat to mark his or her territory and tell other cats to stay away. Urine spraying is a specific type of urine marking behavior which involves urinating onto a vertical surface, such as a wall or piece of furniture.

Both male and female cats are capable of urine marking. Neutering or spaying is often helpful in controlling urine marking and urine spraying behaviors. However, it should be noted that a small percentage of cats which are neutered/spayed will still mark or spray, especially if the behavior has been occurring for a time before the surgery is performed. Neutering or spaying does not guarantee that a cat will never mark or spray but it is effective in the majority of cases (probably as many as 85-90% in my experience).

Pet owners need to understand that cats which spray or urine mark are performing what is, to them, a perfectly natural behavior. Your cat does not understand that this behavior is wrong and he/she is not marking or spraying solely to annoy you. Cats should never be punished for these types of behaviors. Punishment will only make the cat apprehensive and may actually end up making the problem worse!

Feliway® and Feline Litter Box Problems

Feliway® is a calming pheromone which is produced naturally by all cats. Being a pheromone, the cat’s olfactory system will detect the chemical but you will not be able to smell the product. Feliway® can be effective in controlling inappropriate elimination in cats and preventing urine spraying and marking behaviors.

Feliway® is available as a diffuser which is plugged into an electrical outlet in your home or as a spray which can be used around litter boxes, near doors and windows and in other areas of the home.

While litter box problems are problematic and frustrating for cat owners, there are techniques which can be used to prevent or control the inappropriate behaviors. Proper care of the litter box, choosing the correct cat litter, spaying/neutering all cats and simple environmental modifications can all be used to help fight feline litter box problems.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Houston Author Bash 2017

My book tubs are packed and ready to head to Houston for next weekend's Author Bash. This was a fantastic event last year, even though there was a last-minute change of venue, so I have really high hopes for 2017.

There will be lots of great authors there. If you are in the area, be sure to stop by. And bring a wagon. Seriously. People show up with wagons to hold all the great books they buy. And for those of you who like that sort of thing, some of the romance novelists bring their cover models. Hmmm.

Quite a selection to chose from! And it's held in a wine bar with delicious food, so there's always that for after you shop.

Hope to see you there!

Friday, January 27, 2017

"Dottie's Daring Day" is HERE!

Paperback copies are in hand. Everything is set at I can officially say that "Dottie's Daring Day" is here and ready to launch out into the book world. This is the second companion book to my Cats in the Mirror series.

Readers made it very clear that they wanted another dog book. "Max's Wild Night" is a best-seller, so it only seemed logical that another dog book should be on the agenda. But even back when Max's book was brand-new, the wheels were in motion. We had a booth at a spring craft fair. Daughter "Mindy" came to visit with her dog Dottie and said that I had to write a book about HER dog too: "Dottie's Daring Day." The title was born then and there.

Dottie even helped sell books that day.

Well, once a title like that is out in the world, how could I avoid writing it??

While Max's book is set around our home here in the Ozark Mountains, Dottie's book is set around her home in Fayetteville. As I did school visits last year, I asked students what they thought a dog would do loose in the area around the University of Arkansas campus. They had fantastic ideas, many of which made it into the book.

Dottie didn’t mean to run away. But when she accidentally slipped out of her collar on the Razorback Greenway Trail during a Saturday walk, she began a day of adventure—exploring the town and the University of Arkansas campus. Along her journey she meets new friends and even learns how to Call the Hogs. She always planned to be home before dark, but will she still be able to find the way back to her girl Mindy when her daring day is done?

To get your own copy, you can click here to purchase a Kindle or paperback copy from amazon. But if you want a signed, personalized paperback copy (with matching bookmark), you can purchase them directly from me at this link thorough PayPal and at my website.

There are also matching toys to go with the book at the shopping cart at my website. What do you think? A pretty good match?
Dottie toy, available at
Dottie is excited to have her very own book. Finally!

I hope you enjoy the next installment in my book series! We won't be walking away from the cat series completely, but 2017 is going to be the year we focus on a different book I have been working on for many years in various forms. I love the current MG/YA version. It is in the last stages of being critiqued by my talented writing group, so I look forward to having a final version ready to begin promoting by summertime.

Let's just say, "Beyond this point, there be dragons."

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Tiger-riffic Habitat Opening Saturday

This afternoon I was out at Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge for my weekly volunteer work (the very unglamorous but necessary filing of paperwork) and loved seeing all the final preparations for the amazing new habitat grand opening this Saturday (21st) at 9:30 a.m.

Our local paper did an article about this event recently, so I hope the word is getting out. Unlike some other events that have been more about the cat's first time on grass, this is about the brand-new habitat that has been built on an area that used to be old concrete-floor holding cages. Those have been destroyed, and it's all grass all the time for all the animals now. The four cats who will be blessed with this new, huge enclosure full of climbers and toys are part of a new donation of cats from a Colorado facility that is closing. They have been here on grass for a while, but it doesn't compare to the new home they are looking forward to.

And don't even get me started on how cool this set of tigers is. Besides the fact that four of them can hang together and not fight, some of them are super-unique. Khalessi, Joey, Lakota, and Aurora are quite the squad.

Khalessi is a "golden tabby tiger" or "strawberry tiger." There are only around 30 tigers like her in the whole world. Her markings are a result of the same genetic mutation that results in a white tiger.

Aurora is a beautiful white tiger who is related to many of the new white tigers at the refuge.
Her parents and baby siblings are here.

Lakota is a Ti-Liger, a very rare mix. Even though he is part lion, he can still chuff.

Joey is a beautiful tiger, which is plain in this group but still magnificent. 

And look how much they love each other. Such sweet cats!!
All four photos are from the refuge's Facebook page or website.

The group of cats is also young, the equivalent of teenagers, only a year old, so they will have no hesitation attacking their new lodgings full speed. Even today, they are already in the night house adjusting to the new area--and watching closely every move that the keepers and workers make. I could just imagine them thinking that they can't wait to get their paws on all of it.

I definitely plan to be there to see them released into the new digs on Saturday, and I hope you can join us as well! If you can't make it in person, the refuge will be live streaming the event on Facebook. Follow their page to get alerts and notices about events like this.

And keep your eyes open for a big announcement about my newest book release, coming VERY soon!

Dottie was excited to check out the paperback proof of HER book.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Merry Christmas & Holiday Sale

Merry Christmas from all of us here on Serenity Mountain!

We hope each of you has a delightful holiday season, however you are celebrating. May you have snow if you want it and wonderful times with family and friends--and delicious food.

If you need a last-minute gift, all of my books are on sale for 99 cents from 12-23 to 12-27, and Why Kimba Saved The World is FREE. Just a little thank you from all of us, though Kimba is certain that anything involving her should never be free. She's learning to live with it.

Here's to a Happy New Year and a fantastic 2017!!

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Win $500! KidLit Giveaway

 Rafflecopter Link

Today is the day! The big Kid Lit Community $500 Giveaway has begun! All you have to do to enter is follow the link to the Rafflecopter site and follow as many authors as you like. Each has chipped in a bit to the final prize, so give them all some love by following on Twitter or Facebook or whatever site they have listed. Check it out now! Click on the banner above for the Rafflecopter link.

  • Contest dates:  November 15 – December 15, 2016
  • Terms and conditions:
  • There is NO purchase necessary to enter or win.
  • ONE WINNER will be randomly drawn through the Rafflecopter widget within 48 hours and notified by email once the giveaway ends.
  • The winner will have 72 hours to respond. If the winner does not respond within 72 hours, a new winner will be chosen. Prize valued in US Dollar (USD).
  • Winner must have a valid email address attached to their Amazon account in order to receive eGift card.  No age limitation as long as entrant has an Amazon account. Amazon suggests those 18 and under should use the site with the involvement of a parent or guardian.
  • How will the winner be notified?  The organizers of the event, C.L. Murphy and Cat Michaels, will notify the winner.  Once confirmation has been made and the winner accepts the $500.00 payment, the winner’s name will be announced.

How does the contest work?
  • Click on the photo above – it will take you to the Rafflecopter site.  You will see many children’s authors listed.  You have the option of visiting and liking each author’s Facebook page and / or following each author on Twitter.  EVERY “like” or “follow” = 1 chance in the drawing. If you participate in all of the links, your name will earn 58 chances to win the $500.00 gift card.

There is NO purchase necessary to enter or win. One winner will be randomly drawn through the Rafflecopter widget within 48 hours and notified by email once the giveaway ends. The winner will then have 72 hours to respond. If the winner does not respond within 72 hours, a new winner will be chosen. Prize valued in US Dollar (USD). Winner must have a valid email address attached to their Amazon account in order to receive eGift card. (No age limitation as long as entrant has an Amazon account. Amazon suggests those 18 and under should use the site with the involvement of a parent or guardian.)