Sunday, November 12, 2017

Paperback Books on Sale!!

I seriously over-purchased paperback books for a couple of events this year, like the Pet Expo, that turned out to be a real bust. It happens. But my business manager (aka my husband, Scott) does not like all that inventory going into 2018. He has uttered the words he never says: "Mark them down. Have a sale."

And so I am!!!

All of the paperback books I have on hand are on sale 30% off until Dec. 30 or supplies on that title run out.  That means that all the animal series books are $7 each and "At the Corner of Magnetic and Main" is only $10. I will still autograph and personalize them, just like normal.

If you want to get in on this sale, just click here to go to my shopping cart page at my website. These prices are not at Amazon. They'd never let me price them this low! It's only at my website on the copies that I have on hand. When a title runs out, I will change the price back to the normal retail price. First come, first served.

So grab those paperbacks for only $7 each 

and finish off your collection!! 

Monday, October 16, 2017

Bookstop, Kirkus, and War Eagle

So much is hopping around here. We are finally settled (sort of) in our new home in Springdale. Boxes are coming out of storage, and we are finding places for everything (and determining there is still more we can donate and move along). Several of you have mentioned worrying about the cats settling in, and I assure you they are all doing fine. We had a plan on how it would all work, and they have shown us their plan and decided much of it on their own. We try to keep up.

Cheetara took control immediately and supervised the unpacking.
We gave up on keeping cats off the kitchen counters long ago.

The master bedroom is the daily sleeping zone. Kimba, Hiro, and Miss Fatty Cat all insist on spending the day lounging and napping in there. Cheetara and Max follow me wherever I am and nap accordingly. Max is very excited about his new yard with a FENCE. He can just wander around and lie in the sun without supervision. He missed that very much, though he did love his mountain yard.

Miss Fatty Cat claimed the window viewing seat behind my chair once,
but she prefers the quiet of a bedroom for serious sleeping.
Kimba has taken to finding stealthy places to get away from the unpacking for serious naps.
She is very proud of this one and seems kind of sad when I spot her. So sneaky!

We are gearing up for the War Eagle Fall Craft Fair in a few days. It is our biggest event of the year. Four full days of hundreds of thousands of people can be overwhelming, but after having a booth there several years in a row I have discovered that people come looking for me and my newest book. That's about the best compliment ever. It is a huge party, so if you have never been, you should check it out. My booth is normally right across from the bridge in Sharp's Field. Stop by and say hello! You can even get a peek at a sample copy of Bianca: The Brave Frail and Delicate Princess. 

I'm also participating in the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) Bookstop promotions this month. Authors/illustrators who have a book coming out in 2017 can purchase a promotion page, and you can stop in and "like" them or leave a comment. So many wonderful books! I've been working my way through them all slowly. Be sure to check it out. My page is at this link.

Besides this promotion, we are getting down to the final gasps for Bianca and her official launch day December 1st. The blog tour is filling up nicely, and I'm putting the final touches on the hardcover formatting. There will be some updates to the book cover as early reviews come in. I was thrilled to have Kirkus not only do a review but say lovely, quotable things. I can't post the whole thing here, but you can click on this link to read the review. Their pull-out quote is:

"Runs to surprising depths, and Sammy the donkey will live long in young memory."

I'm partial to the part about "spry and charming" and their words about my "exquisitely characterized animals" and that "Bianca, all told, is a memorable middle-grade heroine."


You can already pre-order the Kindle version at this link from Amazon. I also have pre-order links up at my website for paperback and hardcovers. I'll only be ordering the copies that I think I'll need for December, so be sure to get a pre-order in if you want a copy for the holidays. Then you will be assured of one in time. 

I'll also be participating in Fayetteville's Lit Fest. There are lots of wonderful events, and I'll be part of the Local Children's Author Festival on Saturday, October 28th, at the Fayetteville Library. Follow this link for more information on all the great speakers and events. 

That's all the excitement for now -- and it's plenty! I'm off to unpack a box. I hope you have a lovely week and are enjoying the fall weather. 

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Goodreads Giveaway

The Goodreads Giveaway for Bianca: The Brave Frail and Delicate Princess is now underway! Five copies are up for grabs. Click here to enter.

I will also be having a drawing for five free copies from those who sign up for my Reader's Group at either Penned Con or War Eagle over the next few weeks. If you're in St. Louis, don't miss out on this fun event in just a few days.

So many amazing authors, all in one place, and it's a charity benefit for Action for Autism as well. How can you lose??

Hope to see you or meet you for the first time there. 

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Bianca Early Review

We are in that scary zone of pre-publication where review copies have been sent out but it could be weeks before we hear back on how my Brave Frail and Delicate Princess Bianca has been received. One early response was decent, but nothing great. That stirred up massive author anxiety. What if all the reviews are like that? What if Kirkus hates it and says nasty things?? What if everyone hates it?? (Yes, this is how an author's brain works.)

Then this arrived.

"Princess Bianca rules, in every way! This tale of intrepid discovery and determination will delight young readers and will dare those who deal with the dragons of self-doubt, frustration, and bullying to step out and challenge those menaces to a duel." 
New England Children's Book Review -- Listed as a "favorite" on their site

I tell you, my heart skipped a beat or two when I read that. Scott even got a little teary. It's hard to imagine how much words like that mean about something you have worked on and worried over and fussed with for years. It is everything.

It isn't necessary for every reviewer to love it, but if even a few do, it lets me know I'm on the right track. And, on the business side of things, it gives me material to post on sales pages and puts Bianca in front of librarians who use NECBR as a resource for book selections. That's such a boost!

So now we continue to wait for the next round. Kirkus is the big dog in the pen at the moment. Fortunately, if they don't really like it, it's not the equivalent of being blacklisted or anything. I don't promote the review and it just sort of hangs out there. I don't think the average reader checks Kirkus for book recommendations. It's mostly just a waste of lots of money.

But if Kirkus likes it...Well...

We won't even talk about the fireworks that will be lit if they give it a star. Mid-October is a long way off. I try not to think about it if I can avoid it.

In the meantime, we are finishing up our move to Springdale and getting ready for Penned Con in St. Louis (Sept. 29-30th). October will be full with formatting the hardcover version of Bianca, which is a whole new venture for us, and setting up blog reviewers for the fall and December 1 launch of Bianca. We also have War Eagle to look forward to (Oct. 19th-22nd). Meeting readers there always gives my spirits a bump.

For now, I leave you with birthday photos of Miss Fatty Cat (aka Samantha) and Slinky (aka Tabitha), who turn 12 sometime this month. Happy Birthday, Ladies!!

Monday, August 21, 2017

Five Great Reasons to Adopt a Senior Dog

Please welcome Alexandra Seagal, editor at Animalso, who is sharing a guest blog with us today. Our rescue dog Max (now an old man of 12 himself) is very excited to talk about the benefits of adopting a senior dog. You can find out more about Alexandra and Animalso at this link.

Thinking About Adopting a Dog? 

5 Great Reasons To Get A Senior Dog 

Many people head straight for the puppies when visiting a shelter, but there are lots of healthy senior dogs that are waiting for a home too. Adopting an older dog comes with many benefits that you might not have considered. So, in this article, I’m going to share 5 reasons to get an older (and wiser) pooch.
Stick with me to see what they are!

1. Save a life

Most people prefer to adopt a puppy or a young dog. Yes, those little fluff balls with their puppy-dog eyes will melt the coldest of hearts. But sadly, this means that, at overpopulated shelters, it’s the older dogs that are the first to be put down.
So, adopting a senior pooch really can save its life. And wouldn’t that just feel great?

2. Spend less

Let’s consider the expenses that come with getting a puppy - various vet visits and vaccinations, spaying or castrating procedures, puppy classes, and you might even need to replace expensive household items if you get a particularly aggressive chewer.

Well, most senior dogs come vaccinated, neutered, trained, and they’ve already been through that pesky teething phase, so you won’t see your bank balance drop quite so much.

Just get her some quality senior dog food, a cozy place to sleep, some toys, a leash, and you’re set!

3. They’re not all “problem dogs”

Contrary to popular belief, most senior dogs are not in a shelter due to bad behavior. Actually, it’s usually because their previous owners could no longer look after them, whether because of financial issues, allergies, or a death in the family.

So, think twice before you brand senior dogs “problematic.” There is a story behind each older dog, and it’s usually nothing they have done that has landed them in a kennel.

4. Chill together

Don’t feel like waking up to whining at 2 a.m.? Or having to play with a bouncy, energetic puppy throughout the day? What about going through the whole potty training ordeal, and - let’s be honest - probably having to clear up more than a few accidents?

Senior dogs are generally much more chilled and require much less work, meaning there will be minimal disruption to your current routine. You can simply enjoy their companionship, snuggling together, enjoying calm walks - oh, and you’ll get to sleep through the night.

5. What you see is what you get

With puppies, it’s not always clear how much they will grow or what personality traits and behaviors they will develop. Will she get on with children, cats, and other dogs? Will she be small enough to carry? What color will she be?

The great thing about getting a senior dog is that you know what you’re in for. Straightaway, you will be able to see her size, color, and temperament - you’ll even know her food preferences. This means it’s much easier to get the right match for you.


So, if you’re considering adopting a dog, don’t overlook the seniors. They can make great pets. Compared to puppies, they are far less costly, more chilled, plus they have already grown into themselves, so you’ll be able to judge if they are the right fit or not.

Remember, most of them are there through no fault of their own, and, by choosing one, you could be saving her life.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Sweet T and the Turtle Team & $75 Giveaway

Today I'm stepping outside of my normal posts to support the release of an adorable new book. Cat Michaels and I have rubbed elbows on kidlit publishing social media sites, and I was excited to be included on the blog tour for her new book: Sweet T and the Turtle Team.

 Link to blog tour kickoff

First of all, I loved the book. It is a sweet educational story about a group of kids who work to protect sea turtle nests and help the hatched youngsters make it to the ocean. It is the third book in a series, but I never felt like I had missed out because I hadn't read the others--though you should read them too! The real Oak Island Sea Turtle Protection Program actually does this crucial conservation work and helped advise her on the content. If I have not made it clear, I highly recommend this book for readers young and old.

Second, Scroll down for more information about Cat and her new book...and for the Rafflecopter $75 giveaway. Someone's going to win. Might as well be you!

Title: Sweet T and the Turtle Team
Author: Cat Michaels
Illustrator: Irene A. Jahns
Publication Date: July 2017
Publisher: 2101 Ink
Number of Pages: 72
Recommended Ages: 6 to 11
Summary: It’s nesting season for loggerhead sea turtles on North Carolina's Gull Island. Nine-year old Tara (or Sweet T as her family sometimes calls her) is determined to see hatchlings make it safely from their nests to their ocean home.Summering on Gull Island with Great Aunt Mae could be tons of fun, but T is having a hard time making new friends with island children, let alone finding kids to help her monitor a sea turtle nest.There’s little sister Jenna, but Jenna is, well, little. Fuzzy is around, too, but Jenna’s blue stuffy rabbit gets lost all the time. Besides, a toy bunny can’t help protect turtle nests.Tara befriends Billy, a moody island child. He teaches her skimboarding and shows her the best shelling spots. But Billy stomps away when she asks him to read the “Turtle Team Guide” and join her in saving baby sea turtles. What’s up with Billy? He’s nice one minute and grumpy the next. And why does he refuse to join T’s Turtle Team? T can't figure him out. A tropical storm threatens Gull Island just as the sea turtle nest is ready to hatch. T must abandon the nest and prepare for bad weather.

  • ​Will Sweet T and her friends keep safe from the storm?
  • ​Will the sea turtle nest survive angry ocean waves?
  • ​Will Billy reveal his secret?
Dive into adventure, fun and secrets on Gull Island with “Sweet T and the Turtle Team” to find out! “Sweet T and the Turtle Team” is the third book of the Sweet T Tales Series of chapter books for early and reluctant readers by Cat Michaels, MS., Ed. With a glossary, comprehension quiz, sea turtle hatch photo gallery, and discussion questions, “Turtle Team” delivers powerful messages about protecting marine life while helping young readers empathize with children who struggle to read.

Pre-order Now ~ Available July 21, 2017

Author, blogger CAT MICHAELS, M.S., Ed., has more than two decades of experience helping students from kindergarten to college with learning disabilities and Asperger’s syndrome.

​Her chapter books and Sweet T Tales series for beginning readers tell of every day life with a twist of magic and mischief. Cat’s books encourage young and reluctant readers to use their imagination and solve kid-sized dilemmas as they enjoy reading.

Cat lives in North Carolina with her family, where she enjoys digital photography and graphic design, creates pocket gardens, works out as often as she can, and writes. ​
Website/Blog | Facebook | Twitter Pinterest Instagram
Find Cat’s books on Amazon and iTunes
Blog Tour Giveaway
Prize: One winner will receive a $75 Amazon gift card or $75 PayPal cash prize, winner's choice Giveaway ends: August 9, 11:59 pm, 2017 Open to: Internationally How to enter: Please enter using the Rafflecopter widget below. Terms and Conditions: NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW. A winner will be randomly drawn through the Rafflecopter widget and will be contacted by email within 48 hours after the giveaway ends. The winner will then have 72 hours to respond. If the winner does not respond within 72 hours, a new draw will take place for a new winner. Odds of winning will vary depending on the number of eligible entries received. This contest is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Facebook. This giveaway is sponsored by the author, Cat Michaels and is hosted and managed by Stacie from BeachBoundBooks. If you have any additional questions feel free to send an email to
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Finally, here's a quick excerpt from the book for you to enjoy.

Follow the Tour

July 12, 2017
Blog Tour Kick-Off

July 12, 2017
Tickling Dragons (Excerpt)
Domestic Chanteuse (Promo)
The Blended Blog (Review)

July 14, 2017
Java John Z’s  (Excerpt & Promo)
July 15, 2017
Letters from Annie Douglass Lima (Excerpt & Promo)
PJ LaRue (Review)
Peggy’s Hope 4U (Excerpt)
July 17, 2017
Untamed Doodler (Review)
Bargnhtress (Excerpt & Promo)
July 18, 2017
A Wildflower Mom (Character Interview w/Sweet T)
July 19, 2017
Rockin’ Book Reviews (Excerpt)
July 20, 2017
Meg’s Blog (Review, Excerpt, Character Interview w/Sweet T & Promo)
Grab the Book (Promo)
Word Magic: All About Books (Review)
July 21, 2017
Sandra Bennett, Author (Review)
 Baby Boomer Bliss (Promo)

July 24, 2017
Raising Kids of Gratitude (Promo)
July 25, 2017
Barbara Ann Mojica’s Blog (Review)
July 26, 2017
Kay LaLone (Review)
July 27, 2017
Amanda’s Books & More (Review)
July 28, 2017
Deal Sharing Aunt (Character Interview w/Sweet T)
August 1, 2017
Stitch Says (Review & Character Interview w/Sweet T)
August 2, 2017
Eloquent Articulation (Review, Excerpt & Promo)
August 3, 2017
Reading Authors (Review)
August 4, 2017
Books Direct (Review & Excerpt)
August 7, 2017
Bound 4 Escape (Review)
August 8, 2017
Fundinmental (Review)
August 9, 2017
Bookworm for Kids (Review)
Blog Tour Wrap-Up

Friday, July 14, 2017

Bianca: The Brave Frail and Delicate Princess Cover Reveal

There are stages in writing a book that bring extra excitement, a little giggle and thrill, and make it seem much more real and tangible than all those hours of slogging away and editing and revising. Seeing the book cover for the first time is certainly one of them. So I'll share it with you now!

I hope you love it as much as I do. My daughter Callista provided the drawings of the dragon and the princess (she did the drawings in Max's Wild Night and Dottie's Daring Day as well), and cover genius Kelsey Rice made it all colorful, textured, and beautiful.

For those of you who have followed the adventures of my real-life pets, this book is a new direction. It has actually been floating around and coming in and out of drawers in my desk for decades. I'm so happy to have it finally taking form to share with the world once and for all.

One of the things that always amazes school groups I talk to is the length of time it takes to publish a book. Not write it. Just publish it. Even when you do it yourself, there are many stages and steps that involve other professionals who have their own time frames and other projects to work on. With a publisher, authors often wait over a year to see their final book in print. Self-publishing can move a bit faster because you can focus on just that one project, but it is still a journey of many months. For Bianca, we are also going through the full six month review process that many publishers follow. If you want a book review from Booklist or Publishers Weekly or most other large (and influential) publications, they need the book six months before the publishing date. Bianca should be ready to hit the review circuit by August, so that puts us at publication in February or March of 2018.

Yes, it is a long process, but I'm sure I'll be keeping you up-to-date as reviews come in and we get closer to release day.

We are also stepping into new territory with a hardcover version of this book. That's what libraries really need to have on their shelves. Paperbacks are quickly torn and broken by young readers. So I will be figuring out that whole process at Ingram while reviewers are having their chance to read the book. I may even venture into audio book territory. It should be an interesting autumn this year!

I'll leave you with the teaser for Bianca: The Brave Frail and Delicate Princess.

Princess Bianca had never set foot outside the castle walls. Not once in her over-protected, pink, fluffy life. But when a dragon is spotted in the land and fear spread that the monster has conquered the king and his brave knights, Bianca realized that it was her duty to protect her kingdom. She will have to prove that she can be braver and stronger than anyone believed because the threat outside the protection of her castle tower is more dangerous and magical than she ever imagined possible, except in a fairy tale.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Block Street Block Party

We had a blast this year at the Block Street Block Party in Fayetteville. I've had my eye on this event for the last few years, but there was always a schedule conflict. This year the weather was about as perfect as it can get, and the crowds were huge. It felt like the fall craft fair at War Eagle! Sales were great, which always makes Scott happy, and we met some wonderful people (and dogs).

View from in front of our booth. It went on for blocks!
I must admit, one of the highlights of my day was having a little girl pull money out of her own pocket to get a copy of Vacation Hiro. She had bought Why Kimba Saved The World at Springfest a few weeks before, and she loved it. Book 2 was now a must-have. That's about the best response an author can hope for. Makes it all worth it.

We will definitely plan to do this event again next year. Other authors have asked me if I'd recommend it for them. I have to admit, the children's books sell well, but my adult novel, not so much. So I'm not sure I'd recommend it for those who write for grown-ups. Maybe you could share a booth with other writers and split the expense. Always be sure you have something like a postcard or bookmark to hand out.  You always want to send folks home with some way to find you later, especially if they prefer ebooks. The day after this event, someone purchased a copy of each of my books on Kindle. It's hard to know for sure, but that could have come from a bookmark I handed out. I have bookmarks to go with each of my books. It's nice bling to send home along with a paperback, and it's good advertising for the future as well. That's my two-cents on that.

We take the summer off from events so we can keep up with the excitement at the guest house. June and July are already booking up as much as we'd like them to, so other work gets put on the back burner for a while. I'm really hoping to still get in some writing time each day. That's always the goal! But with guests coming and going, campfires, laundry and cleaning--not to mention the property still on the market and whatever editing work I'm up to--I never know what a day will bring.

My next book, Bianca: The Brave Frail and Delicate Princess, is in the final gasps with beta readers and will head to the editor in a week or so. Yay! Callista has been working on creating the dragon for the cover, so all of that will be coming together over the summer as well. I'm sure you will be hearing lots about it in the fall. Never a dull moment on our mountaintop.

In closing, Hiro wanted me to share this photo of her lazing in the sun this morning. She thinks she looks fabulous and deserves to be admired. How can I disagree?

Have a wonderful holiday weekend, and read something delightful!

Monday, May 15, 2017

Top Blogger Listing

I'm very excited to be listed as one of the top bloggers for kids about cats at Best for the Kids! You can find the link to all of us from this week by clicking here.

There are lots of other interesting bloggers featured, so be sure to check them all out.

I don't always blog about cats, but I may well have something to say after we attempt to clip Miss Fatty Cat's claws for the first time ever. She has gotten old enough that she doesn't care for them herself anymore and is getting stuck on furniture and bedding. This should be interesting!

Friday, April 14, 2017

Birthday Book Sale

As I mentioned last time, Kimba and Hiro are celebrating their 10th birthdays on April 18th. We are having a party over on Facebook, and you are welcome to join.

Also, just a quick note: I'm having two kinds of books sales during this birthday party (now through the 18th).

1) Why Kimba Saved The World is free on Kindle, and all of my other animal series books are 99 cents. 

2) Paperback are available at event prices for that same time frame. Single paperbacks are $10 and come signed with a matching bookmark. Event prices are--

Any 3 series books: $27
Any 4 series books: $35
Any 5 series books: $43
All 6 series books:  $50

My website shopping cart will not give you these prices, but if you send me an email at this link I will create a sale invoice for you. Payment can be made through PayPal or Square.

Now we just have to decide exactly what kind of cake to make these silly girls. Hiro has suggested that one made of Cheez-Its would be excellent.

Happy 10th Birthday, Silly Babies!

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Service Dogs

If you've read Dottie's Daring Day, I hope you enjoyed the whole chapter about Champ, the service dog who works with a blind owner. When I first started drafting Dottie's book, I wanted to highlight all kinds of working dogs, but the story took off in another direction. Guess I'll have to write more dog books to get it all in. But I do want to take a moment to thank two of my best sources of information for making Champ a genuine service dog who is correctly portrayed.

First, here's a shout-out to my writer friend Ronda Del Boccio and her service dog, Jemma.

I snapped this photo of Jemma at a conference Ronda and I attended.
Look at that focus! She is READY.

Jemma is a wonderful example of a service dog. I have sat next to her at several all-day conferences, and she never makes a peep or distracts in any way. Okay, I may get distracted and take photos of how sweet she is when I should be listening, but that's not her fault. She and Ronda make a great team.

Ronda was a huge help in correcting my drafts and making sure that Champ and his owner were working together the way a service dog and a visually disabled human would. And I had quite a bit of it wrong. The axiom "write what you know" really means that you need to find out about those things you don't know as well and represent them accurately. I take that very seriously, especially since I write mostly for children. Thank you, Ronda and Jemma, for helping me get it right. You can follow Jemma's adventures on Facebook at this link.

Second, I am very grateful to the organization Leader Dogs for the Blind (who, coincidentally, trained Jemma). In my early book drafts, I reached out to them and asked what three or four things they would want kids to understand about how a service dog works with an owner. The number one thing they wanted to stress was that the dog doesn't do the actual leading. Service dogs are trained to watch for dangers, like cars in the street, but the owner is the one who decides where to go. In my story, Champ explains this to Dottie to make sure the point was clear. The group was a big help in directing my earliest drafts of the story and developing Champ's part in it. Thank you!

If you haven't gotten your copy of Dottie's Daring Day yet, my next public event will be Springfest on April 15th on Dickson Street in Fayetteville--right where the story takes place. We might even have Dottie come join us for part of the day!

I'll do another post closer to the date, but you can sign up now for Kimba and Hiro's 10th birthday party celebration coming next week on Facebook. 10 years old! There will be book giveaways and sale prices on kindles and kitten pictures galore. Even some fun videos. Join the fun yourself, and invite your friends. It's open to everyone! Click here for the Facebook event page. I've already started posting because I just can't help it.

This weekend, sweet Dottie and her human and diverse animal family, including Miss Slinky, will be moving again to a new (and much nicer) apartment in Fayetteville. I'm sure I will have many photos to share after that. Here's hoping for some better weather to make it all go smoothly. I think we are all ready for spring.

Have a great weekend!

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.