Buckley’s Story – Release Day

Amber reading Buckley's Story

Even though Buckley’s Story has been available online for the last few days, I choose to make today the official release date.  Today would have been Buckley’s “birthday”.  I don’t know her actual birthday, so I designated the day she came home with me as her special day.  I think she would like the idea of her book being announced to the world on this day.

This has been a whirlwind week for me.  On Monday, I received the first softcover copy.  I can’t even describe the feeling of opening the package and holding an actual book in my hands.  I’m not given to overly dramatic displays of emotion, but I jumped up and down and danced around the house!  On Tuesday, the hardcover arrived.  I didn’t think it was possible to get even more excited than when I received the softcover the day before, but apparently, it was.  The hardcover is the most beautiful book I’ve ever seen.  Okay, so I may be a bit biased, but the glossy cover is perfect, the interior design and the photos came out crisp and nice.  The overall effect is exactly what I had hoped for.

My publisher had told me it would take four to six weeks for the book to appear on Amazon and BarnesandNoble.com, so when I got an e-mail from a friend Tuesday afternoon telling me he had just ordered the book online, I just about fell off my chair.  My hands were shaking as I entered amazon.com on my keyboard.  And oh my gosh – there it was!  My book.  On Amazon.  And on BarnesandNoble.com

The book will be available at bookstores nationwide eventually, but it’ll take a little while for that to happen. 

Meanwhile, as if all the excitement about the book wasn’t enough, my brand new website, http://www.ingridking.com, also went live on Monday.  This is my first professionally designed website, and I’m so happy with what my wonderful web designer came up with.  I feel that the site perfectly reflects me, and the book.

What an incredible week.  It still seems surreal at times.  And in the midst of all this joy, there is a bittersweet component.  While the book is a lasting tribute to my sweet little cat, it also makes me miss her all the more.  But since Buckley’s message is all about living a joyful life, I know she’s celebrating right along with me.

Make a Conscious Choice to Be Healthy

cat-in-bed

With flu season looming, or, if media reports are to be believed, already in full swing, we are all looking for ways to boost our immune system and stay healthy. Nobody wants to catch the dreaded flu. Even a cold can lay us flat for a few days, or at the very least, make us miserable. The media has done a good job to make us afraid of this season’s latest threat, the swine flu (read my post Afraid of the Swine Flu? Don’t Be. for my take on how not to get caught up in fear-based thinking around this issue).  So what can we do to stay healthy?

On a physical level, there are many different ways to boost the immune system.  Here are some of my favorites:

  • Don’t let the cold weather stop you from getting your exercise.  Just 30 minutes a day of light aerobic exercise can help keep your immune system healthy.
  • Wash your hands frequently.  Studies have shown that nothing prevents a cold better than thorough and frequent handwashing.  If you can’t get to a faucet, use anti-bacterial gel or wipes.
  • Limit your intake of sugar and highly processed foods – both have been shown to depress the immune system.
  • Take a good daily multi-vitamin.  Do your research and make sure the brand you take has good bio-availability.  Most over the counter brands don’t.
  • Take extra vitamin C.  I take 1000 mg a day, and if I’m around anyone who’s sick, I double that dose.
  • New research shows that probiotic supplements contribute to a healthy immune system.  As with all supplements, be sure you research the brand you use to make sure it really contains quality ingredients.
  • Make sure you get enough vitamin D.  While the best way to get your vitamin D is through 15-20 minutes of unprotected sun exposure each day, those of us living in the northern hemisphere may find it challenging to get that much during the winter months.  If you are taking vitamin D supplements, you may want to get your vitamin D blood levels tested periodically.
  • Look into holistic or natural products you can take to prevent colds, or at the early stages of a cold to lessen the duration and the severity.  Products containing zinc can be very effective.  There are also a number of homeopathic products that work well.
  • Eat chocolate!  Dark chocolate contains lots of anti-oxidants and is actually good for us (in moderation!).
  • Reiki and other energy therapies can help boost your immune system by alleviating the damaging effects of stress.  Stress is the major culprit when it comes to weakening our immune system.

But beyond these physical immune boosters, there’s another way to boost your immune system and stay healthy this winter, and it’s available to all of us at no charge.   Your mindset plays a major role in your overall health.  Cutting edge research by scientists such as cell biologist Bruce Lipton, Ph.D. has shown that our thoughts can actually alter the cells in our bodies, down to the level of changing our genes.  So why not use this powerful tool to our advantage rather than disadvantage?  Instead of worrying about getting sick, why not focus on being healthy and having lots of energy?  Make a conscious choice to be healthy!

Random Mind Scan: Memories of Pets Emerge

Sometimes, random snippets of memories enter our mind for no apparent reason.  Today, Cathleen Hulbert remembers former pets in this guest post.   We’d love it if you leave a comment and share your stories of pets that have come and gone, and touched your lives.

Guest Post by Cathleen Hulbert

What set this off? The names and faces of former pets begin to work their way into my memory.

Cathleen Hulbert cat

What happened to Muffin? Muffin was a gray and white cat that I had around the age of 5. One day Muffin was gone. Mom and Dad said she “ran away.” Cats don’t run. Not well-loved, well-fed cats. I now suspect a car. It would have kinder to say she was hit by a car. Feelings linger of being rejected by a cat.

We try hamsters.

Charlie and Ben were brown and white. I told them they were good boys soCathleen Hulbert hamster that I wouldn’t be rejected again. Being in a cage,  they were less likely to run. One day there were these little fuzzy things in the cage with Charlie and Ben. Turns out that Charlie should have been named Charlene. Ben gets removed from the cage so he won’t eat the kids. One day he escapes and hides behind the fridge. I don’t remember much about the hamsters after that. We gave the kids away. I really wanted a dog.

My Mom is French, so we name the new dog from the pound, “Minette.” I thought she was a big dog, or at least medium-sized. Recently I was told that she was small, like a rat terrier. I find this hard to believe. She seemed substantial when I was 7. One day Minette is gone for a while. I’m glad when she comes back. I had a lump in my throat. I want no more of rejection. Weeks later, her sides get big and we realize she’s going to have puppies. She’s mostly white and the puppies all are jet black. I have questions. The puppies are eventually adopted.

When we move to Atlanta from our Florida  house, we’re going to be in an apartment for a year or so. Minette gets dropped off at a farm and I sit in the back seat in shock. It all seems so wrong. Was that always the plan? To leave my dog on a farm?

We get a white mouse because mice can cope with apartment life.

But the mouse, whose name I have blocked, gets out of the cage and scares my Mom in the night. I think he runs up the back of her nightgown. She almost has a heart attack and puts the mouse and his cage outside. It’s cold and he dies. Having pets starts to seem like a tragedy. When do we get one that we keep for a long time?

Cathleen Hulbert orange kitten

Benjamin is a red tabby. He’s pretty cool but he pees in my Dad’s good suitcase between business trips. He always finds just the right moment when the suitcase is open and my Dad is not around. Benjamin gets a free ride to the Humane Society. I sob in the back seat. Some college students adopt him before we even gets inside. None of them go on business trips or own expensive suitcases, so they think he will be fine. Will I ever love again?

I grow up and realize that I now have more control over the fate of my pets. Cathleen Hulbert cat2A little more control, but it’s not complete. A few more cats pass through my life: Daisy, a long-haired beauty, Marmalade and Harvey — the latter named after an invisible rabbit in a Jimmy Stewart film of that name. Marmalade contracts a rare disease and dies. Daisy and Harvey go to live with my ex-husband, Joe, after we get a friendly divorce. I know they are in good hands. We were in New York City at the time and he had a bigger apartment. I was starting a new career. I have to admit, the freedom from pet responsibilities wasn’t bad. 

Cathleen Hulbert German ShepherdYears later, after returning home to Georgia and suffering through the death of my second husband, I meet an amazing animal: a gorgeous fox-red, part chow, part shepherd rescue dog who rescues me and keeps me from staying in bed for a long time. Her owner has died and we’re in the same boat. I name her Phoenix. Together we rise from the ashes. We have some good years together. Then a brown recluse spider takes her life. She’s the kind of soulful, loving animal that people in my family still talk about. I think she is around, like one of those spirit guides that shamans and other healers rely on when there is something important to do. I love you Phoenix. I know you can hear me. 

For a time I thought that I could never love a dog as much as I had loved Phoenix.

Then I saw Angel outside of a pet store on a mild winter day nearly two years ago. She was for sale: $225. I told the pet rescue lady that I didn’t have that kind of cash. I knew she had been watching me bond with Angel. She said she would give me the $75 “overflow special rate.” She turned to Angel and said, “See. I told you that we’d find you a new Mom today.”

At 10 months, Angel (that was the name she came with) was nearly grownCathleen Hulbert dogs but still had lots of uppy inside. She was wild at first, with Jack Russell traits dominating her gene pool. She ripped up part of my favorite couch, but I couldn’t hold a grudge. I was watching “The Dog Whisperer” by then and I knew I had made some mistakes. The couch is as good as new now, and Angel has become a woman’s best friend. My brother’s dog, Boo, an aging Yellow Lab, is the other dog with whom I share a home.

We all live together, along with my 9-year-old nephew. I watch him play with his childhood pets and I realize that he’ll always remember them: the way Angel cuddles with him in the morning before he goes to school; the way Boo likes to pick up a dog toy on the way to greet him at the door when he comes home. He knows that pets die. He still misses Phoenix and Yogi, another Lab that died of cancer. But he adores Angel and Boo.

These thoughts bring so many feelings. It’s all clear. Some of the most important people in our lives are animals.

Cathy_Hulbert_small1Cathleen Hulbert, LCSW, is a clinical social worker and a free-lance journalist with a background in newspaper reporting. She is the author of The First Lamp — A Story of Cosmic Illumination, a time-travel tale of redemption and forgiveness. For more information about the author and the book, go to http://cathleenhulbert.com/.

Amber’s Mewsings: New Camera

It’s my turn to write on here again!  Things have been pretty exciting at our house these last couple of weeks.  Mom’s book Buckley’s Story is almost finished and should be available online in another week or two.  Mom is eagerly awaiting her first copy.  I think she’ll probably start chasing the UPS truck down our street any day now, that’s how impatient she is to finally get her hands on the actual book.  The book’s website is almost finished.  I sat on Mom’s lap when she looked at the most recent design last night, and even though my sister Buckley is the star of the site, I have to say, it’s really beautiful.  I love that Mom is so happy – it makes me happy.

There’s been more excitement around here.  Yesterday, Mom bought a new camera.  And I’m sure you can guess who she took the first picture of.  She hadn’t quite figured out all the settings, so the colors don’t look quite right, but don’t you love how I positioned myself to help her get such a dramatic shot:

new Canon 001 resized

I think it nicely depicts the depth of my purrsonality, the yin and the yang, the light and the dark – well, you get the idea.  Of course, after a while, all of this photo taking got kind of old – she kept trying to take more pictures of me, and all I wanted to do was take a nap.  Didn’t I suffer enough when I patiently sat through the professional photo shoot for her book cover?  You can read all about that experience here.  The things I will do for my Mom!

Fall has arrived here, and with it, the new tv shows have started.  Mom doesn’t watch a lot of tv, but she has some shows that she really likes, and now that they’re all back on, she’s been watching a little more tv than over the summer.  Buckley used to be her tv buddy – she’d spend entire evenings just stretched out on Mom’s lap or curled up in her arms.  I would occasionally join them, but I also like my space, so sometimes I’d prefer just sleeping somewhere else while they watched tv together.  But I know Mom misses having a tv buddy, so I’m doing my best to fill that gap for her.  So we’ve been cuddling and watching tv together, and I can see why Buckley liked it so much.

Mom likes to watch shows that she calls medical dramas – I don’t know why anyone would want to watch that, so many sad things happen on those shows.  Why humans find that entertaining is beyond me.  I can feel Mom’s energy change when she watches those shows, and sometimes, she’s so moved by the story that she even cries.  I don’t like that at all.  I know it’s only make believe, but I don’t like it when  Mom is sad.  I like it much better when she watches happy shows.  But I know she finds watching her shows relaxing, so I guess that’s good.

Well, that’s all I have to say for today.  It’s time for a nap now!

All You Need Is Love

tabby road

Guest Post by Cheryl Harris

In 1967 the Beatles were asked to write and perform a new song for an international television broadcast called “One World”.  The song would be broadcast in 17 countries around the world.   Because love is a word that is understood in every language, John Lennon wrote “All You Need Is Love”. 

While the song is a fun and lighthearted walk down memory lane, it also communicates many great aspects of conscious creation.  Some of my favorite lyrics are:

There is nothing you can do that can’t be done.
There is nothing you can know that can’t be known.
There is nothing you can see that isn’t shown.
There’s nowhere you can be that isn’t where you’re meant to be.
It’s easy.
All you need is love.

Love is one of the highest resonating energies in the universe.  By focusing your energy on being a loving person and seeing the love in everyone and every situation, the Law of Attraction will cause you to receive more love in return.   When you are aligned with the energy of love, you are aligned with the Universal energy of God.  That means:

  • You can do anything.
  • You have access to all knowledge.
  • You are shown the way.
  • You will be in the right place at the right time.
  • It’s easy.
  • All you need is love.

The best way to maximize your success and reach your highest potential is to bring the energy of love into every aspect of your life.  Surround yourself with people and environments that support you and radiate the uplifting energy of love.

When you approach any aspect of your life with an energy that is not based in love, pretend to be someone you aren’t, worry, struggle, regret, blame, etc., it changes your vibration, which changes what you see and therefore what you receive.   While you shift your energy to being more loving in every aspect of your life, remember to also be gentle and loving with yourself.  Courage, forgiveness, and acceptance are emotions that do not resonate as high as love but are still worthy of your acknowledgement, celebration, and gratitude when the emotions are associated with changing old patterns that move you closer to the energy of love.

Cheryl Harris is CEO of Conscious Creations Inc.  She is best known for her Conscious Creation Coaching Programs that use proven strategies to leverage the Law of Attraction in your favor.  Her international client base includes entrepreneurs, celebrities, and a top Fortune 100 company.  Nick named “Little Buddha” and “The Idea Generator”, clients call her a master at providing support and describe shifting from fear to celebration as they move into the fullness of life.  You can learn more about Cheryl and her programs at http://consciouscreationsinc.com/.

Stress and Your Pets

catanddog

We live in challenging times and external stressors abound.  The economy, the news, and often just getting through the day all present a source of stress for people.  It’s been long proven that owning a pet has beneficial effects on our health.  Studies have shown that even a few minutes of petting your cat or dog can lower your blood pressure and release endorphins that put you in a better mood.  Pets are the greatest source of stress relief and masters at showing us not only how to relax, but how to live in the moment without worrying about the future. 

So we know that our pets help us be less stressed.  But did you know that your stress can make your pets sick? 

People and pets often mirror each others’ physical and emotional states.  Animals are natural healers and sometimes take on their person’s problems, often in an attempt to heal them.  This happens because of the deep bond shared between a pet and his or her person.  Because of the shared energy in such a close relationship, energetic imbalances are shared as well. 

Unfortunately stress has the same detrimental effect on our pets’ bodies at it does on ours.  Since pets are so sensitive to our emotions, they can become sick as a result of our stress. 

Dr. Fern Crist, of The Cat Hospital of Fairfax, says: “As a veterinarian, I frequently see cats who are urinating outside the litterbox.  While this undesirable behavior may be caused by a variety of medical problems, it can also be caused or exacerbated by stress.  It may be the cat’s stress, such as having a new cat to adjust to in the house; but it can just as easily be the owner’s stress.  The emotional turmoil brought on by such difficulties as household financial problems, frequent job travel, marital differences, new babies, and home remodeling can affect our cats in very tangible ways.  Our stress can induce undesirable behaviors in our cats, such as inappropriate urination. More importantly, our stress can also influence the development of actual physical illness in our cats as well as in ourselves.  As responsible owners, we sometimes need to take a good look at ourselves when we ask why our pets are having problems.  Stress relief for pet owners won’t solve every pet health problem, but can go a long way toward alleviating many of them.” 

All of this shows us that stress relief is not only important for our own health and well-being, it’s also good for our pets.

An Interview with Barbara Techel, Author of Frankie the Walk ‘N’ Roll Dog

Frankie cover

It is my pleasure today to introduce you to Barbara Techel, the author of Frankie the Walk ‘N Roll Dog.  This is a true, inspirational story about a dachshund whose life changed forever when she ruptured a disk in her lower back and became paralyzed in her hind legs. After three months of physical therapy and acupuncture, it was determined that she would not walk again, and she was custom fitted for a dog cart, which is the canine version of a wheelchair. It doesn’t take long for Frankie to adjust to her new wheels and she continues to joyfully roll through life.

This heartwarming and moving story is told from Frankie’s point of view. While written for children, it’s a story that will appeal to animal lovers of all ages. Along with beautiful illustrations, the book show us, through the example of this high-spirited little dog, that it is possible to overcome any challenge and reclaim a joy for life despite seemingly insurmountable obstacles.

Please join me in welcoming Barbara Techel to The Conscious Cat!

Barbara TechelBarbara, Frankie is your first book. How did you become a writer?

Yes, this is my first book. After my chocolate lab, Cassie Jo, was diagnosed with cancer in 2004 I began a spiritual journey yearning to do something that would matter deeply to me and would make a difference. That led me to writing about animals, especially dogs. For two years I had a monthly column, “For the Love of Animals” through our local paper before I ventured into writing a book.

What was the process of writing about Frankie like for you?

It was an amazing experience for me! Though I had never written a book before, the urge to tell Frankie’s story was very strong. Frankie inspired me because of all she went through and how she remained the same, happy dog. Writing her story in part, was therapy for me, while at the same time I wanted to share what I learned through Frankie’s experience so others could see that a disabled animal can live a quality life.

What made you decide to write Frankie’s story as a childrens’ book?

The reason I decided to write Frankie’s story as a children’s book was because of exactly that. Children. 🙂 When I started taking Frankie out in public in her dog cart (wheelchair) kids were so fascinated by her and wanted to know what happened. They thought it was so cool she could get around in her wheelchair. I realized I could have a positive impact on children, through Frankie, by helping them see their own challenges as an opportunity to learn and grow, just like Frankie taught me. I also thought if I could show kids that animals with disabilities deserve a chance, it would help them become better human beings, as well as help animals in need.

What do you hope your readers will take away from the book?

I really want people to see that just because an animal has a disability does not mean putting them to sleep is the only option. When Frankie suffered her spinal injury, I was so uneducated in disk disease in the breed, and at the time I thought putting Frankie to sleep was the only option. By having Frankie’s book as a children’s book, with parents reading the story to their kids, I felt I could reach two audiences with my message. The book is also great for dachshund lovers and Frankie is making a difference in helping other dachshunds in her same situation, and their owners. Frankie’s book helps people see that their dachshund can live a quality life also if diagnosed with disk disease and that there are viable options.

What was it like for you to deal with the many challenges a diagnosis such as Frankie’s brings? Do you have any tips for others who are faced with this situation for their pet?

It was tough at the beginning, especially since I didn’t know much about the disease. Financially and emotionally it was hard, and trying to make the best decisions for Frankie, while also having to be concerned with what I could afford. It was an adjustment adding in physical therapy twice a day to my routine, helping Frankie go to the bathroom by expressing her bladder several times a day (which I continue to this day), giving her meds throughout the day, etc. as she healed.

Looking back, my best advice would be to talk to others who have been through this. I didn’t know anyone at first, and I feel if I could have just talked with someone who had been through this it would give me more peace of mind. Luckily I did find an organization, DodgersList (http://dodgerslist.com/) which provides information and help for those going through this. They are wonderful! I also offer to help anyone by talking with them via phone or email who find themselves in this situation. Helping ease some of their worry is my way of giving back and hopefully giving others peace of mind to get them through the first crucial days.

Who or what inspires you?

Without a doubt, animals, especially dogs, inspire me!

What is one of the most memorable experiences you’ve had at a book signing or event?

You know, I was simply blown away at my book launch. I really had no idea what to expect or even if people would come. There were over 200 people in attendance and I felt this incredible energy of support and love. It was so amazing. I remember driving home with my husband later that afternoon feeling incredibly blessed and as if I was in a dream. It is a day I will remember the rest of my life.

As far as other experiences, this journey has been wonderful. Meeting children and seeing how they come to love Frankie makes my heart sing! Also meeting physically challenged children and watching them connect with Frankie without even saying a word at times, is simply heart warming and very rewarding.

Are you planning on writing another book?

I have a second book about Frankie that is due to be released in January 2010. It is called, Frankie, the Walk ‘N Roll Therapy Dog Visits Libby’s House. In September 2009 Frankie became a registered therapy dog with Therapy Dogs, Inc (http://therapydogs.com/). Once a month we visit a senior assisted facility where many of the residents have dementia or Alzheimer’s. The book is about how Frankie became a therapy dog and the residents she now visits with. My hope is to help children understand the elderly and not have such a fear of them.

I also have an activity book, Frankie, the Walk ‘N Roll Activity Book , which is good for grade levels 3rd and up. It has crossword puzzles, word search, mazes, etc. to help reinforce Frankie’s message of dealing with your challenges in a positive way.

What are you reading at the moment?

Everything!  Ha!   Seriously, I am always trying to keep up on the writing world, marketing, etc. by reading articles and newsletters, as well as reading for pleasure. So right now I am reading, Excuses Begone by Dr. Wayne Dyer, My Buddy Butch by Jeff Marginean and eagerly awaiting the arrival of Soul of a Dog by Jon Katz (my favorite author who writes about dogs and animals).

Thank you so much for this opportunity, Barbara!

You can learn more about Barbara and her book on her website  and on her blog.

The Transformative Power of Taking Risks

BraveCat

I recently wrote about why making big decisions can be such a challenge for so many of us (Making Decisions and Thinking Big), and about the power of choice when it comes to making decisions that are for our highest good.  One element that the article didn’t address, but that can often play a big role in making decisions, is our individual tolerance for or aversion to risk.

I’ve had to make a few really big decisions recently that were taking me out of my comfort zone, so I’ve been spending quite a bit of time pondering this topic.  In the past, I avoided risk as much as I could, always playing it safe, always weighing all the pros and cons before making any decision.  Once I made the conscious choice to live a big life, I realized that I had to change the way I made decisions and especially change how I viewed risk.  As is so often the case when we embrace conscious change in our lives, when the student is ready, the teacher appears.  In this case, it happened to be a sales call for an event hosted by Ali Brown, one of the most successful female entrepreneurs of her generation.  The information presented on the topic of knowing when to take risks really resonated with me, so I’m sharing it here. 

There are five steps that can help you decide when to take risks, and be comfortable with your decision. 

  1. Is this something you want with your heart?  I believe that following your heart is the key ingredient for living a joyful and fulfilling life.  Everything else will fall into place if you make following your heart a priority.  Another way to look at this is how making a decision feels.  If it feels good, it’s usually the right decision for you.
  2. Is this something you want with your head?  While following your heart is most important, your decision still needs to make sense for you.  Can you justify this decision to yourself?  Be careful here that you don’t give too much airtime to input from others, or at the very least, choose carefully who you consult with.  When you make the decision to live a big life, there will inevitably be people in your life who will try to convince you that it’s too risky, that you can’t possibly be successful, that this is not for you.  Don’t listen to them.  Only listen to your own inner guidance.
  3. Is this part of my journey?  This question requires that you’ve done your homework and spent some time getting clear on what your path is.  Making decisions becomes much easier once you’ve identified your life’s purpose.
  4. Does this excite you, even if it’s a little scary?  We don’t really progress on our path unless we stretch beyond our, often self-imposed, limits.  If it feels exciting and joyful, it’s right for you.  That’s not to say that you may not feel some apprehension.  Anytime you’re stepping outside of your comfort zone, you will feel a combination of enthusiasm and doubt.  Joyful anticipation should outweigh trepidation on this one.
  5. Are you making this decision from faith and not fear?  I think that’s the most important of the five steps.  Your decision should come from inspiration, not desperation.  I always remind myself that truth and fear cannot coexist.  If my decision is fear-based, it will not be for my highest good.  There’s a reason for the catch phrase “leap of faith.”

Once you allow yourself to approach taking risks from the perspective of making a conscious choice to step into your power, you will come to embrace its transformative power.  You will find that your big decision will yield equal if not greater rewards from the universe.

How do you approach taking risks?  How do you make big decisions?

Seven Social Networking Sites for Cat Lovers

Facebook

Guest post by Mary Ward

Fellow cat lovers know we are a different breed, and we’re darned proud of it!  What you may not know is that beyond blogging there are some wonderful sites out there for people like us and our precious pets, where we can link up together, share, and help troubleshoot some of the more concerning aspects of companionship. You can find a social networking site for just about everything, and that is especially true when it comes to the cat lover in you.  Here are seven of the top social networking sites on the net for cat lovers like us.

1. My Cat Space – This is what social networking is all about! This site links you up to the very best in cat information and links you to cat lovers everywhere. You can share your stories and pictures, or simply drop in to see what new tips are out there. This is a great site to go to meet other cat lovers just like you!

2. Feline Fanatic – If you think that there’s nobody out there as passionate about their cat as you, visit this site for awhile. You will see that you are not alone in your love of felines and can visit with other like-minded individuals and share your views. A great meeting spot for feline fanatics everywhere!

3. Catster – Sure you can search under any given topic, find blogs or forums of other cat lovers, and search for valuable information—but there’s even more! It’s all about connection here and whether you connect with cat lovers in general or chat it up on a given subject, you will feel right at home here.

4. Meow Mail – As cat owners, there’s a special understanding of how cherished our pet is. Through this social networking site, you can share your opinions and thoughts on just what it is to love your cat. You can connect with others who recognize a cat not just as a pet, but as a part of their family.

5. Cat Club – This social networking site is so elite that you have to join as a true member to gain access. You can not only get access to a ton of information, but you can reach other cat lovers from all across the world. You can share stories and photos, and even gain some valuable discounts in the process!

6. Cat Hobbyist – The point of a social networking site is to meet others like you or with similar interests, and you will do just that here. You don’t need to hold back on how much you love your cat, because you are bound to meet many others just like you on this popular site.

7. Purrsonals.com – There is truly something for everyone, and this site is testament to that! If you want to date others that love cats as much as you do, then this social networking site can act as your matchmaker. This is the perfect dating site if you want to connect with and meet a fellow cat lover like yourself.   

Whether for fun, camaraderie, education or information, these sites have lots to offer the cat lover in any of us.  Join in and get your daily dose of feline fun and facts!

Mary Ward is a freelance writer and likes writing about animal-related career topics, such as how to obtain an online Vet Tech degree, job and education tips, and more.

An Interview with Gwen Cooper, Author of the New York Times Bestseller Homer’s Odyssey

Gwen

Gwen Cooper is the author of Homer’s Odyssey – A Fearless Feline Tale, or How I Learned About Love and Life with a Blind Wondercat, and the novel Diary of a South Beach Party Girl.  A Miami native, Gwen spent five years working in non-profit administration, marketing, and fundraising.  She coordinated and led direct-service volunteer activities on behalf of organizations including Pet Rescue, the Miami Lighthouse for the Blind, the Miami Rescue Mission, His House, Habitat for Humanity, Ronald McDonald House, the Daily Bread Food Bank, and Family Resource Center (an organization providing emergency shelter for abused and neglected children).  She also initiated Reading Pen Pals, an elementary school-based literacy program in Miami’s Little Haiti.

Gwen currently lives in Manhattan with her husband, Laurence.  She also lives with her three perfect cats—Scarlett, Vashti, and Homer—who aren’t impressed with any of it.

I’m delighted to welcome Gwen Cooper to The Conscious Cat today.

Gwen, Homer’s Odyssey made the New York Times Bestseller list less than two weeks after its publication.   It’s a wonderful book and I’m not surprised at its immediate success.  What does it feel like to see your book become so successful in such a short amount of time?

It’s hard for me to say, because it still hasn’t really sunk in yet!   So mostly what I’ve felt is shock, interspersed with moments of pure elation.
 
When did you first know you would write a book about Homer?

November of 2007.  I’d had the idea a couple of months earlier, but that November was when I finally felt like I knew, in general terms at least, what the story would be and how it would be written.

I was captivated by your story and by Homer almost from the very first page, but I was particularly moved by your account of the events of 9/11 and the days following.  You lived through every pet owner’s nightmare.  As a result of this experience, do you have any advice for pet owners to prepare for emergency situations?

That’s a tough question to answer, insofar as there are some things in life you can’t fully prepare for.  But what I learned from the experience was that I should always have at least a week’s worth of supplies—food, litter, a few gallons of water—in my apartment at all times.  My cats ended up trapped in my apartment near Ground Zero for days before I could get back to them, and because I didn’t have any extra supplies handy, I had to walk for miles—and then climb thirty-one flights of stairs—with two gallons of water, seven pounds of litter, and five pounds of cat food.  The process of getting back to them might not have been faster if I hadn’t had to carry all of that, but it certainly would have been easier.

What was the writing process like for you? 

The process of outlining this book was long and agonizing and had me tearing my hair out at times.  How to summarize twelve years of a life in 80,000 words or less?  But once I had my outline done, the writing itself was pure joy.

What does a typical day of writing look like for you?

I’m usually up between 5:30 and 6:00am, and writing by no later than 7:00am.  Then I write for as long as I can until I run out of steam.  Usually I try to put in at least an eight-hour writing day, but of course some days go much longer and others are much shorter.

What do you love most about being a writer?

Writing!

What do you like least about being a writer?

Writing!  I’m sure a lot of writers out there will know exactly what I mean when I say it’s frequently a love/hate relationship.

Who or what inspires you?

There’s no one specific thing, except that I’ve always been in love with language itself.  As soon as I get an idea for a really great phrase or sentence, I’m off and running.

I’m also always inspired by the idea of telling a great story.  With Homer, the initial “a-ha” moment came when I realized that a book about this blind cat, and the impact he’s had on the lives around him, would be filled with action, adventure, romance, heroes, villains, journeys, quests, triumph in the face of adversity, and all the great narrative “bones” that underlie a story truly worth telling.  Once I realized that, I couldn’t wait to get the story on paper and out into the world.

What is one of the most memorable experiences you’ve had at a book signing or event?

Actually, the first reading I ever did for a book I’d written was the reading I did in Miami Beach to launch Diary of a South Beach Party Girl.  I’d moved from South Beach to New York about six or seven years earlier, and very few of the friends I’d had before the move still lived in Miami—so I knew my parents and some of their friends would come, but I didn’t expect much of a crowd.  But around 150 people showed up!  I was absolutely floored, and it was just a really great way to kick off that book.

What are you reading at the moment?

The City & The City by China Mieville.  It’s phenomenal.

Are you working on another book?

I’m working on a proposal for another book, although my agent has basically threatened me with death if I talk about it before it’s written.  (I kid!  But, seriously, she’s anxious to keep it under wraps for now.)

And lastly, what does Homer think about his newfound fame?

Homer is taking it pretty much in stride, although we’ve been getting a ton of gift baskets and toys and gourmet cat treats lately.  I’ve probably always spoiled my cats, but now they’re really spoiled, and I sometimes wonder if Homer wonders why he’s suddenly so indulged these days.

Thank you so much for this opportunity, Gwen, and much continued success with Homer’s Odyssey!

Thank you—and thanks for having me on your blog!

You can learn more about Gwen and her book on her website , and you can find her on Facebook.

Amber’s Mewsings: Mom Goes to a Cat Show

new toy

It’s about time Mom lets me write here again!  I have much to say, and all of it is important!  Maybe I should have my own blog – my friend Eva just got a blog of her own, you should check it out at Conversations with Eva.  Cool name for her site, huh?  Somebody sure gets that for us cats, it’s always about us.  Make sure you read The Beginning, the story of how Eva found her forever home.

Meanwhile, things are great here.  Mom was gone most of the weekend, she was at something called a cat show.  From what I understand, some people take their cats to these big places and they have to be really patient and well-behaved and they get shown and judged in something called a ring, and they win prizes.  Interesting concept.  Not something that appeals to me – I already know I’m Number One.  But Mom was really happy when she came home from that cat show place each evening, apparently lots of people are really excited about Buckley’s Story coming out soon, and when Mom is happy, I’m happy.  She also brought me a new catnip toy each day from a place called Mouse Factory.  Strange name, if you ask me, because none of the toys she brought home looked even remotely like a mouse, but wooeee, they are filled with heavy duty catnip!  I could smell that she had catnip with her the minute she walked in the door.  I immediately went to her bag and sat and stared at it until she took the toy out and gave it to me, then I proceeded to thoroughly lick it and cover it in drool.  Then I had to take a nap to sleep off my catnip high.  This was primo stuff, people.

Mom has been busy writing and getting everything ready for her book launch, and I like that she’s been home a lot.  Even though I may sleep in another room while she’s working, I still like knowing that she’s home with me.  This is so much better than when she was gone more than ten hours each day.

That’s it for today.  Remember – it IS all about you!

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