Books

Book Review: Dear Sparkle – Advice from One Cat to Another by Sparkle, the Designer Cat

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There are lots of books on the market that give advice on how to care for cats, provide information on cat behavior, and address other aspects of living with a cat.  Dear Sparkle:  Advice from One Cat to Another, authored by Sparkle The Designer Cat and edited by Janiss Garza, is unique in this genre.  It combines solid advice with humor, and gives us an insider’s look into what and how cats think.  Sparkle  is a seven-year-old pedigreed Somali who speaks out on anything from how to address trouble with family members (both human and feline) to hairballs to culinary delights and disappointments.  A significant portion of the book is devoted to addressing questions about human foibles.  Writes Sparkle:  “Humans are complicated beings, and very hard to train.”

Sparkle, the internet’s premier cat-to-cat advice columnist, brings her feline point of view to help her fellow cats figure out human behavior and deal with the day-to-day frustrations that living with humans can bring for a cat.

Some samples of the kinds of questions Sparkle answers are:

My human used to give me treats at dinnertime, but the vet put me on a diet and now I’m starving!  How do I get these treats back?

A tom cat invaded my backyard and now my roommate hates my guts!  What happened, and what do I do about it?

My human brought home a snotty new kitten – how do I show him who’s boss?

This is a thoroughly enjoyable, often laugh out loud funny book filled with practical information presented in a unique style.

And if you can’t get enough of Sparkle’s advice from the book, you can visit her on her website at http://www.sparklecat.com.

Sparkle is a kind-hearted and generous cat and wants to help kitties who are less fortunate than she is.  For the rest of the year, she will donate $1 for every book sold through her website to Tabby’s Place, a cat sanctuary in Ringoes, NJ.  For more information about Sparkle’s mission to help Tabby’s Place, click here.

Book Review: Animal Magnetism by Rita Mae Brown

animalmagnetismAnimal Magnetism is the first memoir by Rita Mae Brown since Rita Will – Memoir of a Literary Rabble-RouserIn sometimes funny, always heartwarming stories, Brown introduces us to the animals that have touched her life:  Franklin, a parrot with a wicked sense of humor; Suzie Q, the horse who taught her the meaning of hard work; Baby Jesus, a tough tiger cat from New York City with an attitude to match; and of course, Sneaky Pie, who needs no introduction to the legions of fans of the Sneaky Pie Brown murder mystery series.  Brown shares stories of these animals, and the lessons they taught her.  She makes no secret of the fact that she prefers the company of animals to people.  As Brown explains, “There’s no such thing as a dumb dog, but God knows there are continents filled with dumb humans.”  By observing the animals on her farm and in her life, Brown has gained insights into herself and other human beings that she shares in her inimitable prose. 

As someone who just published a book about the lessons one little cat taught me, this book resonated with me on many levels, but at times, I felt a bit lost in the author’s lengthy descriptions of fox hunting.  However, even though this is not a topic that is close to my heart, I was captivated by the passion with which Brown describes it, and I gained a better understanding of the practice in the process.  You know you’re reading a book by a great writer when they can make you keep reading about a topic you didn’t think you really cared about!

I loved these words from the book, that perfectly summarize what the book is all about: “I hope you are lifted by the love of a cat, dog, horse, even a parrot… More, I hope you recognize it and return it. … We are all in this life together.  We need one another.”

A wonderful book for all animal lovers, as well as fans of Brown’s Sneaky Pie Brown and Sister Jane novels.

Rita Mae Brown is the bestselling author of the Sister Jane novels–Outfoxed, Hotspur, Full Cry, The Hunt Ball, The Hounds and the Fury, The Tell-Tale Horse, and Hounded to Death–as well as the Sneaky Pie Brown mysteries and Rubyfruit Jungle, In Her Day, Six of One, and The Sand Castle, among many others. An Emmy-nominated screenwriter and a poet, Brown lives in Afton, Virginia.

Training Cats

Guest Post by Elaine Viets

There are people who can train cats to do tricks, to walk with a leash, to use Elaine Vietsthe toilet and flush afterward. Dominique, the Key West cat man, has a whole show using his specially trained “flying house cats.” He gets them to walk on tightropes and jump through hoops.

After hearing about these feline successes, Don and I tried to train our cats. Three cats back, we adopted a young semi-Siamese named Sylvie. We’d heard that Siamese cats liked to walk with a leash and were easy to train. We bought a Chihuahua leash for her. Sylvie flopped down on the sidewalk like a passive resistor and went limp. We wound up dragging the protesting cat half a block, which caused talk in the neighborhood.

“Be patient,” the text books advised us potential cat trainers. We kept trying to use the  leash. Finally clever Sylvie learned to escape its leather confines like a hairy Houdini.

The cats quickly succeeded in training us. They started yowling every morning, and we learned to leap out of bed at seven a.m. and feed them.

It took six cats before Don succeeded in training one. Now my husband regrets his success.

We adopted Harry, a brown-and-black striped tiger, from our local vet. Some idiot had shot Harry’s family. Harry escaped with his life, but he was left with a fear of large, white males, which proved he was a sensible animal. Whenever a big, white guy loomed at our condo door, Harry hid under the couch. If it was a bill collector, I joined Harry.

It took Harry nearly six months and lots of coaxing before he would let Don pet him. After a year, Harry permitted Don to scratch his ears.

Another six months later, we had a breakthrough. At least, we thought so at the time. Harry let Don scratch the base of his tail. Don was thrilled. So was Harry.

The cat would follow Don around and jump up on chairs so Don could scratch his tail. Don thought this was hilarious.

He’d slap a chair seat and say, “Present butt!” Harry would jump up for his tail scratch. He would fold back his ears and look blissfully happy.

Harry started following Don everywhere. If Don took a nap or stretched out on the couch, Harry was there, demanding a scratch. He was polite about it, in a catlike way. He’d give Don a formal forehead bump, which is cat for “hello” or maybe, “wake up, stupid.” We weren’t sure on our cat translations.  Then Harry would turn around and present his rear end for a scratch. The cat looked like a brown-and-black watermelon. A very happy watermelon. Don obliged and scratched him.

Harry has become a scratchaholic. If Don lights anywhere for a moment or two, there’s Harry, demanding a butt scratch.

It’s ceased to be funny. Don can’t read a book or fall asleep until Harry gets his butt scratch. Now the cat has started waking up Don in the middle of the night.

“This is kind of kinky,” Don said, as he scratched the cat’s rear end at three in the morning.

“Couldn’t you train the cat to turn on the coffee maker, or dial 911 in case of an emergency?” I asked. “You did pretty good with all those dogs.”

Don has trained the neighborhood pooches to line up at their fences when he passes by on a walk. He says, “Present ear,” and the dogs get their ears scratched. It’s a much more wholesome pastime.

“Why couldn’t you have trained Harry to get his ears scratched?” I asked.

“That’s for dogs,” Don said.

I guess I should be grateful he doesn’t scratch Clydesdales.

The Fashion Hound MurdersElaine Viets writes two mystery series, The Josie Marcus Mystery Shopper series, set in her hometown of St. Louis, and the Florida-based Dead-End Job series. She has won the Agatha, Anthony and Lefty Awards for her writing.  In Elaine’s lastest release, The Fashion Hound Murders,  Mystery shopper Josie Marcus investigates a chain of doggie boutiques and discovers those fashionable pets come at a killer price.

Book Review: Catsong by T.J. Banks

catsong-cvr-2Catsong is a charming and delightful collection of stories about special cats and the impact they had on the author’s life.  T.J. Banks shares the stories of the cats that have graced her life, and the immense love, joy and comfort they have brought, each in his or her own individual and special way.  There is Alexander Czar-Cat, the magical cat of the author’s childhood.  There is Jason, a black-and-white stray whose love and affection accompany Banks through her college years and into her marriage.  There are Cricket and Tikvah, and Solstice and Kilah, cats that connect with the author on a soul level.  T.J. Banks clearly knows and understands cats, and her appreciation of and love for each individual cat shines through in her sensitive and beautiful prose.  By sharing her stories about these cats, the author makes us feel that we actually knew them, and she also shows us how truly special all the feline spirits that come and go from our lives are.  For those of us willing to listen with our hearts, cats have so much to teach us.  They enrich our lives through their simple, loving presence, bring us joy and entertainment with their endless antics, and provide quiet love and support during our dark days.  This collection of stories covers all of these aspects, and more.

It’s impossible to pick one story over another – they’re all wonderful and special in their own way.  But for me, the title story, Catsong, touched me  most deeply.  This is the story of Kilah, the seventeen-year-old tortoiseshell cat who helps her human through personal tragedy and countless animal crises – and whose loving spirit continues to bring comfort even after passing into the non-physical dimension.

This book is a treasure for any cat lover and makes a wonderful holiday gift.   The author has a limited number of autographed copies available for sale.   E-mail T.J. Banks at dawntreader27@earthlink.net for more information and to order. 

T.J. Banks is the author of Souleiado and Houdini, a novel for young adults that Cleveland Amory has enthusiastically branded a “winner.”  Her work has appeared in numberous anthologies, including Chicken Soup for the Single Parent’s Soul and A Cup of Comfort for Women in Love.  She lives with her daughter Marissa and their cats and rabbits in a sometimes peaceable, but always interesting kingdom in Connecticut.

A Mystery Author and Her Cats – Guest Post by Lorna Barrett

CoriWhen my editor told me he wanted the protagonist in my Booktown Mysteries to have a store cat, it seemed like a no brainer.  I’d just model the cat after one of my own.  After all, I’d been proudly owned by cats since the age of six.  Surely one of my current- or ex-feline friends would fit the bill.

And it didn’t take long for me to figure out which of my brood would be the ideal cat for my protagonists co-worker at the Haven’t Got a Clue mystery bookstore:  Cori, my delicate, long-haired gray cat was placid, yet always interested in her surroundings.  She was playful, but loved nothing more than to nap on a windowsill or a patch of sunlight.  And because of her gray fur, the name of Tricia Miles’s cat came almost immediately:  Miss Marple.  (You can find not only Cori’s story, but that of all my cats on my Lorraine Bartlett website.  Miss Marple has been stealing scenes since the very beginning.  I’ve had readers write and tell me that they love the way her character has grown since the first book.  (Although I’m not really sure what they meant by that.)  Stationed on her perch behind the cash desk, she takes an interest in the running of Tricia’s bookstore, Haven’t Got a Clue, will keep customers company as they browse the shelves, and likes to nap in the front display window or on one of the chairs in the reader’s nook.  She always has an opinion, but doesn’t always get her way.

ChesterCloseUpI wish I could say that about my real cats, who seem to have both my husband and me wrapped around their little paws.  Two of the cats like to help me work.  By that I mean, they like to sit on my lap and prevent me from working.  Chester likes to rest his head on my right hand, and while he’s nice and warm (and my office does get cold), it’s not so easy to type or use the mouse.  When he’s not sitting on me, he’ll plunk down on the other chair in my office–just to keep me company.  Betsy likes to jump up on my lap (gouging me with her back claws first) and then turn around six or seven times until she’s comfy, and stay there until some part of my anatomy is deprived of blood flow.  The other two cats usually have other things to do during the day, which is good because then I have at least an hour or two where I can actually get some work done.

That said, I wouldn’t have it any other way.  My cats are members of my family.  They’re always there, and they rarely complain.  (Okay, Bonnie does sometimes walk off in a huff if dinner is not to her liking.)  When I’m sad, they comfort me.  And when I’m happy, they want to sit on me and purr, just to show their support. 

Yup, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Bookplate_Special.sm2New York Times bestselling author Lorna Barrett writes the Booktown Mysteries.  Bookplate Special, her third in the series, is now available.  For more information on Lorna and her books, please visit her web site:  http://www.lornabarrett.com/, or catch her on her blog, Dazed and Confused: http://www.lornabarrett.blogspot.com/

 

To read my review of Bookplate Special, click here.

Book Review: Bookplate Special by Lorna Barrett

Bookplate Special

Bookplate Special is the third in the Booktown mystery series from Berkeley Prime Crime and will be released November 3.  The first book, Murder Is Binding, was published in April 2008. The second book, Bookmarked for Death, was a Feb. 2009 release.  If you love books, cats and food, you will love this series! 

The protagonist of the series, Tricia Miles, owns Haven’t Got a Clue, a mystery book store located in the charming small town of Stoneham, New Hampshire.  It’s the kind of town where everybody knows your name.  In Bookplate Special, Tricia discovers the body of her former college roommate.  Never satisfied with letting the police handle a murder investigation, Tricia launches her own informal investigation to find the killer, and encounters all sorts of trouble.   This is a wonderful story with immensely likeable characters, a cat names Miss Marple, and mouth-watering recipes.  The author also includes a subplot about a topic that is clearly important to her, and she manages to do so in a way that’s thought-provoking rather than preachy.  A thoroughly enjoyable book – be sure to add it to your winter reading list!

You can learn more about Lorna Barrett by visiting her website.  You can also find her at her delightful blog Dazed and Confused.

And look for a guest blog by author Lorna Barrett right here on The Conscious Cat next week!

An Interview with CJ Lyons, Medical Suspense Author

It is my pleasure to welcome medical suspense author CJ Lyons to The Conscious Cat today.  (And yes, there is a cat connection – read on!)

CJ LyonsCJ Lyons has lived most of her life on the edge. Trained in Pediatric Emergency Medicine, she has assisted police and prosecutors with cases involving child abuse, rape, homicide and Munchausen by Proxy. She has worked in numerous trauma centers, on the
Navajo reservation, as a crisis counselor, victim advocate, as well as a flight physician for Life Flight and Stat Medevac.  A Golden Heart Finalist in Romantic Suspense and winner of the Golden Gateway, CJ is a member of Romance Writers of America, International Thriller Writers,  and Sisters in Crime. Her work has appeared in CrimeSpree, Romantic Times Book Review Magazine, and Spinetingler. She has presented keynote speeches and workshops at numerous national conventions including MWA’s Sleuthfest, Romantic Times, Colorado Gold and RWA.

As a fan of medical drama tv shows and an avid reader, I was thrilled when I discovered Lifelines  last year.  I thought this would be the best of both worlds – a book that read like one of my favorite tv shows.  Actually – it was better.  CJ combines the best of ER and Grey’s Anatomy into a wonderful mix of romance, suspense, friendship and mystery in the form of a compelling medical thriller.  Thankfully, Warning Signs, the second book in the series, was not too far behind.  Meredith and McDreamy, eat your heart out!  Meet the doctors and staff of Angels of Mercy Hospital in Pittsburgh, PA.  The third book in the series, Urgent Care , was published October 27, 2009.  I picked up my copy yesterday and I can’t wait to read it!

CJ, you are a trained emergency physician.  What made you decide to stop practicing emergency medicine and write about it instead?

Actually, the writing came first.  I’ve been a story teller all my life—which, given that I had a problem telling truth from fiction as a child, led to lots of hours in time-out, which led to more stories….a vicious cycle.  As soon as I could read, I began devouring books and writing my own stories down.
When published friends convinced me that my work was also good enough to be published, I realized I had a chance at a second career.  So after selling my first book, and realizing that working 60 hours a week was going to burn me out sooner or later, I took a leap of faith and quit medicine to write full-time.  So far (knock on wood!) it’s paying the bills and has been a wonderful adventure!

Do you miss practicing medicine?

I miss my patients a great deal.  There’s just nothing like holding a newborn to remind you what’s really important in this world.

Please tell us about Urgent Care.

urgent_care-185x300Urgent Care is a true book of my heart.  In it, ER charge nurse Nora Halloran must face her greatest fear—that she may have caused a colleague’s death by not reporting a sexual assault two years ago.  The man who attacked Nora back then has returned—only now he’s killing his victims.

As a woman and a medical professional, I was hard pressed to imagine a worse scenario.  And having worked with victims, I know that over 60% never disclose their abuse to anyone—they’re overwhelmed with shame, fear that they’ll be labeled as victims, and a need to move on with their lives.  How awful would it be for a strong woman like Nora to not only face her past but also the consequences of her actions?  What would she do to stop the killer and make things right?  Those questions drive the plot of URGENT CARE—it’s darker and edgier than the first two books, but it has to be.  These are dark, serious, universal questions that there is no right answer to.

How much of the story line in the books is drawn from your own experience as a physician?

I try to keep all the medicine as real as possible, using real life cases from my own career or that are reported in the medical literature.  But all the patients are totally fictional—I change everything except the medical details.

How much of yourself is reflected in your characters? 

A lot!  Lydia is who I aspire to be.  She’s strong, determined, smart, fiercely passionate about her patients, and always knows the right thing to do.  Amanda sometimes feels like a stranger in a strange land, just like I did as a Yankee in the South during medical school.  Gina reflects my insecurities and self-doubts.  And Nora has all the protective, mother-hen skills that I’ve been accused of having.

AnnieI was delighted to discover that you are a cat person.  Meet Annie, CJ’s cat.  Can you tell us a little bit about her?

Like all my pets, Annie (short for Orphan Annie) is a rescue animal.  She’d been tied up into a plastic bag and thrown out of a car when she was young.  I’ve had her for fourteen years now and other than an aversion to riding in cars, she’s the most friendly and sociable cat you’ll ever meet!  I wish people were as resilient!

Lydia, one of the characters in the series, has a very unique cat.  NoName, as she calls the cat, is almost panther like in his appearance and has a very unique personality.  Is he based on Annie, and if not, how does Annie feel about having to share you with a fictional cat?

Good thing Annie’s napping right now (can you hear her snoring?), don’t tell her but No Name is not based on her.  As you can see, Annie is a fat, happy calico.  I needed a cunning, self-sufficient graveyard cat to be the perfect match for my character Lydia who is herself independent and not very trusting.

Both Lydia and No Name have intimacy issues, lol!  But No Name gets overSokoke-Forest-Cat-Poster-I12158544 his first when he adopts Lydia as his human.  And he does get a name. 

He’s actually based on a cat adopted by friends of mine, David and Donna Morrell.  David was telling me about their cat and its different shape, which is found throughout the breed.  I did some research and found a relative of his cat, a species originally from Africa who enjoyed water and were fiercely loyal, known for protecting and herding their people like Border collies.  The breed is called Sokoke Forest Cats.

Will NoName ever get a real name?

LOL!  Of course!  In the second book, Warning Signs, he is christened “Ginger Cat” because of his coloring, shades of brown and tan.

Many writers find that cats are the perfect writing companions.  Does Annie assist you with your writing?

If you call sleeping on my laptop assisting, lol!  No seriously, she’s great company and fairly low maintenance which makes her perfect.  She’ll remind me when it’s mealtime, makes sure I’m out of bed early every morning, and makes sure I get some exercise when I play with her.  And of course, I never have to worry about my legs getting cold as her two favorite perches when I’m writing (I write in a comfy rocking chair with my legs stretched out on an ottoman) are either in my lap or asleep on my legs.

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

I have no typical day—which is exactly how I like it!  After seventeen years of medicine (and before that all those years of school) when I needed to lead a very structured life, at the beck and call of patients and colleagues 24/7, I now do what I want when I want.  It’s very freeing!

What do you love most about being a writer?

I love the idea that through my books I can reach out to tens of thousands of people and not only entertain them but also inspire and empower them.  One of the main reasons why I’ve written all my life is a desire to try to change the world—one story at a time.  Yes, even after all those years spent in the ER, I’m still a hopeless optimist.  I truly believe that heroes are born everyday and that we all have the potential of becoming a hero.

What do you like least about being a writer?

That so much is out of my control—talk about the ultimate torture for a control-freak ER doc!  I’m slowly learning patience (the publishing world embodies “hurry-up and wait”) as well as the fact that the only things I can control are my attitude and my work.  Good life lessons, but oh-so-hard to learn!

Who or what inspires you?

Most of my inspiration has come from my patients, their families, and the wonderful medical professionals I’ve been privileged to work with.  They’ve taught me the true meaning of courage.

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

Meeting readers, people who have been touched by my books or who love my characters like they’re real people is always exciting.  But the most memorable experience was at a signing where a woman carrying a baby, maybe nine months old or so, waited in line to see me, then plopped the baby down, undid his diaper and asked me check his circumcision!  Said she’d heard there was a doctor in the store signing books and wanted a second opinion on her grandson.  The baby was fine, I assured her, and she left—without even buying a book, lol!

What are you reading at the moment?

I just finished re-reading Toni McGee Causey’s wonderful Bobbie Faye trilogy (Charmed and Dangerous, Girls Just Wanna Have Guns, and When a Man Loves a Weapon)—great reading if you want to laugh out loud and have a fun time with some memorable characters.

Will there be a fourth book in the Angels of Mercy series?

Yes!  Isolation  will pick up where Urgent Care leaves off—it takes place three days later, on Christmas Eve, and will be released next year.  In it Gina faces her darkest fears and decides her own fate—I’ve just started it, so I’m not exactly sure where it will go, but I’m thinking of it as Die Hard in a hospital, so I’m sure there will be tons of mayhem and chaos!  Sounds like a perfect Christmas for the women of Angels of Mercy, doesn’t it?

Thank you so much for visiting The Conscious Cat, CJ, and much success with Urgent Care!

For more information about CJ and her books, please visit her website at http://www.cjlyons.net.

Book Review: The Complete Guide to Holistic Cat Care by Celester Yarnall, Ph.D. and Jean Hofve, DVM

Holistic Cat Care

The Complete Guide to Holistic Cat Care is a comprehensive resource for the cat parent interested in natural alternatives for feline health.  Co-authored by Celeste Yarnall, Ph.D, the author of Natural Cat Care and Natural Dog Care, and Jean Hofve, DVM, a holistic veterinarian with extensive training in homeopathy and homotoxicology, the book covers topics such as nutrition, natural remedies, and hands-on healing in an easy to understand way without being light on the factual information.  The book places particular emphasis on nutrition as preventive medicine.  Yarnall, a breeder of Tonkinese championship show cats, bred and raised eleven generations of cats on the basic holistic principles outlined in her books.  The foundation of her breeding program is a raw food diet.  The chapter on Nutrtition as Preventative Medicine provides a complete and thorough overview of everything a cat owner might want to know about feeding raw the right way.

Other aspects of holistic cat care addressed in the book include natural remedies such as herbs, homeopathy and flower essences, hand-on healing modalities including chiropractic, acupuncture and Reiki, as well as some more esoteric therapies such as Applied Kinesiology, crystal, color and sound healing, and magnetic therapy.  All of these modalities are introduced and explained in an easily accessible, yet comprehensive manner.  In conclusion, Yarnall offers her outlook on the ever-expanding field of anti-aging health care and how it might impact our cats.

In addition to being chock full of well-researched and well-presented information on holistic cat care, the book is beautifully laid out and  illustrated with stunning cat photographs.  This guide is a valuable resource for every cat owner interested in holistic health and a beautiful addition to your cat care library.

For more information about Celeste Yarnall and natural nutrition and health care for cats and dogs, please visit Celeste’s website at http://www.celestialpets.com.

Book Review: P.S. What I Didn’t Say – Edited By Megan McMorris

PSFemale friendships are some of the most wonderful, powerful, and sometimes complicated relationships in women’s lives.  Have you ever had something you wanted to say to a friend, but couldn’t?  Have you ever wished you could go back in time to say something you didn’t?   In P.S. What I Didn’t Say, Megan McMorris brings together a collection of unsent letters written by a wide range of female writers to friends both current, past and deceased, covering, in the editor’s words, “BFFs, frenemies, and everything in between.” 

From the touching The We of Me by Jacquelyn Mitchard about the kind of friendship that is so intense that it survives even a five year period of silence, to Kristina Wright’s The Last Letter about a friendship with an older woman that took place almost entirely through letters, to McMorris’ own contribution What Would Diane Do about the kind of true friendship that endures, P.S.  provides a glimpse into the private thoughts and emotions of the writers.  Each reader will, no doubt, find parallels to her own life – remembering the grade school friend who moved across the country, but still remains a vivid memory, or the college pal who has remained a trusted friend despite infrequent contact. 

This book will help women better understand some of their own complicated friendships, and perhaps, provide the inspiration to get in touch with long lost, but not forgotten friends.  It will definitely make the reader treasure her own friendships, and perhaps serve as a reminder that it’s always better to say what you need to say while you still can, rather than wait until it may be too late.  A beautiful compilation, this book should go on every woman’s reading, and gift, list.

Megan McMorris is a freelance writer based in Portland, OR.  She is the MeganMcMorriseditor of Women’s Best Friend:  Women Writers on Their Dogs and Cat Women:  Female Writers on Their Feline Friends, and has written guides to hiking in Oregon and the Pacific Northwest.  Her outdoors column, Misadventures, appears in The Orgeonian.  Megan has also written for Real Simple, Glamour, Guiding Light, Prevention, Fitness, SELF, Woman’ s Day, and Shape, among other.  For more information about Megan, visit her website

And where, you may ask, is the cat connection here?  In addition to being the editor of the wonderful anthology Cat Women:  Female Writers on their Feline Friends, Megan also provided a wonderful endorsement for Buckley’s Story:

“For those of us who think–or, rather, know–that cats have a thing or two to teach us in this life, you’ll appreciate Ingrid King’s story about her cat Buckley.”

Thank you, Megan!

10 Top 10 Lists for Cat Lovers

kitten

The 10 Top 10 Lists for Cat Lovers project was launched on October 1.  This project is the first in a series of eleven e-books being published by Bellalife Studios. 50% of sales for each e-book will be donated to charities and non profits that are related to the topic of each book.

The 10 Top 10 Lists for Cat Lovers is a great resource packed with useful links to 100 excellent cat related sites.  50% of the proceeds from the sale of this instant-download, user-friendly book go to cat rescues, shelters, charities and groups.  If you know of a charity you’d like to benefit from this project, please feel free to let them know about it. They’re looking for people who have the heart, the courage and the time to help cats in need, and often do so at their own financial and emotional expense. They want to hear about those special souls who continue to work “in the trenches” despite regular heartbreak, time/space constraints and very limited budgets.  Their goal is to assist as many as possible with the help of their readers.

I am delighted that The Conscious Cat  is listed in the book under the heading Top 10 Newsletters for Cat Lovers.

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.