Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Meet Blanco, owner of children's author Kai Strand

Today we have an unusual gust on Pets & Their Authors... a dragon!

I hope you'll enjoy his guest post.

See my spikes? I’m fierce. Ask any cricket! My name is Blanco. I’m a bearded dragon. Kai Strand is my author. Kai and I go way back to the Christmas of 2008 when I joined the family. I was just a little tyke then, hadn’t fully grown into my fierceness. I’m what they call a pale dragon. My color is lighter than many others, hence the name Blanco (meaning white). I’m actually named after a villain from one of Kai’s middle grade novels (this one hasn’t sold…yet). Yep, the creepy villain of the story sends shivers up your spine like I do when I spread myself wide and hiss.

Kai has a laptop, so she will sometimes tuck her feet up under her on the couch next to my vivarium (cage) and write. I like it when she does that because the clicking sound of the keys sounds like a murder of crickets climbing over each other to get away from my razor sharp teeth. It often lulls me to sleep.

As a matter of fact, I ended up going into an extended state of hibernation (what we refer to in my beardie world as brumation) last winter when she was working on final edits of her tween book, The Weaver. The Weaver is about a young girl, Mary, who lives in a town of storytellers. Mary’s mother is the most revered story weaver around, but poor Mary is suffering through her third year of novice word weaving. Mary meets a strange little gnome-elf who grants her one wish, but instead of weaving a better story, she suddenly is weaving strange little yarn charms to accompany her still pathetic tales. Because of my state of brumation, I never did hear if Mary resolved her problem. Maybe one of you can let me know. Feel free to contact me through Kai. You can read more about her and her writing at www.kaistrand.com. Or stay up-to-date on book info on her Facebook page.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Five cats spill the beans on children's author Lisa Cottrell Bentley

I apologize to my canine friends for having FIVE guest cats on my blog today (as if just one wasn't enough!). Anyway...

Say hello to Connor, Bronwyn, Astrid, Fiona, and Finnegan!

Q: So, hello, kitties. Who are you and who is your human?

A: We are Lisa Cottrell-Bentley's five adorable cats: Connor, age 15, gorgeous orange tabby cat...

Bronwyn, age 1, fluffy white cat who looks and acts exactly like
"Marie" from the Aristocats movie...

Astrid, age 13, sleek and prestigious black cat...

Fiona, age 2.5, skittish tortico who, while our largest, believes she is our smallest and she is scared of all the others...

Finnegan, age 1, soccer loving, sleek pure white cat with the world's fluffiest tail, littermate to Bronwyn, also known as "Finnegan Snowflake Albus Brian Sleek Spock Cottrell Bentley" or "Captain Fluffytail"...

Lisa is the author of the Wright on Time series. She also owns Do Life Right, Inc., an independent publishing company that specializes in children's and YA books about realistic homeschoolers of today.

"Wright on Time" is about an RV-living, homeschooling family who travels the USA. Each book is set in a different state with a different fun and educational theme. So long as Lisa doesn't actually take me on her adventures, I'm good. I don't want to live in an RV. In fact, I don't want to leave the house--ever.

Q: Really Finnegan, did you have to say so much about Lisa right from the start? I was just going to ask about her books to Fiona. So, Fiona, what type of books does your human mom write?

Fiona: Lisa writes? I thought that thing on her lap was just an inadequate lap warmer for when I wasn't around. I do a much better job at keeping her warm.

Finnegan: Action! Adventure! The best kind there are! There aren't nearly enough balls in her stories though... I think I'll go and remind her of the fun of balls. I like to give her presents.

Q: Of all your mom's books, which one is your favorite? Why?

Connor: I like them all, so long as Lisa feeds me. I have been told, however, that there is a minor character (Aidan's best friend) who was named after me. I sort of like this.

Bronwyn: Astrid: I really like "Wright on Time: Utah, Book 2". I particularly like when the Wright family learns how to clean and preserve dinosaur bones. I like to clean things.

Fiona: I love "Wright on Time: Arizona, Book 1". I want tochase those bats!

Finnegan: Definitely "Wright on Time: Wyoming, Book 3". I love the constant playing and going to new places in that book. I'd even love the airplane ride and golf cart excursion.

Q: Have you actually read them?

Connor: No, but I've tried to eat them. They aren't very tasty. Lisa should really work on that.

Bronwyn: I haven't learned how to read yet, but Teagan (my 10 year old) likes to read to me.

Astrid: I have. I've read them at every stage of their development. Lisa doesn't realize it, but I go and read everything on her computer every night after she goes to sleep. Why do you think I sleep all day?

Fiona: I would, except they are kind of hard to keep open with my paws. She keeps telling me that she's having audio versions made. I'm waiting for those.

Finnegan: I hear her pacing and talking out loud all the time. It's great fun to follow her while she does this. Plus, I like the stories, especially the little boy Aidan. I could have so much fun playing ball with him.

Q: Are they any good?

Connor: I already answered this question. They taste awful! Maybe if they were catnip flavored or something...

Bronwyn: I certainly like how the humans I find reading them stay still for a long time. It gives me a chance to really get cozy. So, I'm wanting Lisa to write more so that more humans will let their cats be cozy.

Astrid: My analytical mind says yes. The book series has everything I've seen lacking in children's fiction today. They have homeschooled kids, like the kids who live in my house. The kids love their parents and vice versa, like the people who live in my house. They all learn from life, and enjoy traveling. They are wonderful, wholesome books for kids and parents.

Fiona: Well, honestly, the family shouldn't be so adventurous. Living in an RV? They're nuts! Plus they are always doing crazy things like going into caves, flying in strange airplanes, and otherwise getting into trouble. I'd use caution with having kids read these, because I think kids
should just sit quietly in the corner and grow without going anywhere. It's safer that way.

Finnegan: Oh, yes! How could a book with a seven-year old like Aidan, who loves sports and jokes, be anything but good?

Q: Who is your favorite character in Lisa's books?

Connor: Well, the Connor character, of course, but he hasn't actually shown up in any of the books yet. So, I'll have to go with Nadia, the eleven year old, or Harrison, the dad. Harrison is a gourmet cook, so I know he and I would get along famously. I love food. Nadia would be fun to
snuggle with while she does her researching in books and on her computer. I love to snuggle.

Bronwyn: I like Prince Pumpkin the Third, the cute little turtle of the Wrights. He is cute and little and quiet, just like me.

Astrid: Hmm. This one is tough. I'll have to say my favorites are the various tour guides, and "Bob-characters" (as Lisa calls them). They are all a lot different from each other, but they are all experts at whatever the Wrights are learning about. I like smart people.

Fiona: The mom, Stephanie, is my favorite. She's cautious and careful and doesn't jump into things without thinking and considering the ramifications. She's the most like me. I really don't understand why anyone would jump into anything without thinking it through.

Finnegan: Aidan, the seven year old. He and I are so much alike it's crazy. I really hope to meet him someday. We could have so much fun batting around balls, racing each other, and jumping on things.

Q: What do you do for amusement while Lisa writes and ignores you?

Connor: She ignores me? I don't think so. I'd never let her. If I'm feeling like I haven't been fed sufficiently, I have no problem letting her know. I also enjoy spending that time licking the condensation off the side of her water glasses. I don't know why, but she doesn't really like it if I
try to drink her actual water. She's welcome to mine whenever she'd like. I'm all for sharing.

Bronwyn: What? Did you say my name?

Astrid: I spend that time napping in the bathroom sink. It's lovely and cool in this desert heat.

Fiona: I go and hide out in the loft, where the other cats will leave me alone.

Finnegan: She doesn't mind one bit when I go and sit on top of her hands.

Q: Does Lisa ever ask you for advice when she's stuck? Does she listen to your advice?

Connor: She's always rattling on about something, but I pretty much only hear, "Food, breakfast, snack, hungry." If she's saying those words, then I always wholeheartedly agree.

Bronwyn: Huh? What? Oh, I don't really have an opinion, but I'm fine whenever Lisa wants to pet me.

Astrid: Yes, all the time. In fact, all those good bits in the story--all mine. I don't mind that she is getting the credit, but since you asked I thought I'd let the truth be known.

Fiona: I'm always telling her to stop putting her characters in danger, but she never listens.

Finnegan: When Lisa paces, I like to reach out and grab her as she walks past me. It makes her realize I'm thinking of her. I also encourage her to add action and adventure. A story isn't good until the characters are running or playing a sport.

Q: Where can Lisa's books be found?

Connor: Underneath me. I'm happy to sit on anything. While they aren't tasty, they're not too bad as a bed. I hope you are done asking me questions now thought, because I'm too distracted to answer any more since I'm starving.

Bronwyn: On the bookshelf in our library, but I can't reach them.

Astrid: Lisa sells signed copies on www.WrightOnTimeBooks.com. The books can also be found at online stores such as Amazon and Barnes & Noble, as well as your local bookstores and libraries. If they don't have them, just ask them to order them for you.

Fiona: On the floor, after I've knocked them off the table or counter to make room for myself.

Finnegan: In kids' hands while they are reading them!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Guest Pet Blogger: "Cat Smarts Vs. Dog Smarts: a Cat's Perspective," by Sparkle

For decades, if not longer, humans have been debating whether cats or dogs are smarter. I have found this quite enlightening, not because there are any satisfactory answers (there aren't), but because it says a lot about what humans consider "intelligence." Take the latest study by scientists at Oxford University (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/family/pets/8151924/Dogs-are-smarter-than-cats.html): they claim that since dogs are more social, and their brains are bigger, they must be more intelligent than cats. So, according to these scientists, being social makes you smarter than if you are a solitary being. Hm. Tell that to writers, most of whom are not terribly social. I'm sure they are not exactly enthused by the implications of this study. From what I gather, most humans who pursue writing as a career tend to be more intelligent than other humans. Maybe not more sensible, but definitely more intelligent.

And as for brain size, wouldn't you say that it's not how big your brain is, but how you use it? While dogs are using their brains to figure out ways to please people and do their bidding, we cats use our brains to get around silly human rules such as "stay off the kitchen counter," or "don't go in the cabinet." Wouldn't you call that type of creative, industrious, authority-questioning behavior more intelligent than blind obedience?

Why don't we look at human beings from the perspective of these Oxford scientists: the most intelligent ones would be those who lived in large communal living conditions, had big brains and who were able to follow instructions really well (which really only uses a small fraction of those big brains). This means the most highly developed human beings are Army privates with big heads. And whether you humans are in the cat camp or the dog camp, you have to agree that that is a pretty wacky supposition. I think the real question should not be "Are cats smarter than dogs?" but "Are humans (especially scientists) as smart as either dogs or cats?"

About the blogger

Sparkle is an award-winning author, blogger, advice columnist and supermodel. She is also a cat – a ruddy Somali of champion lineage, in fact, whose father, GC Tajhara’s Miles Davis, was twice on the cover of Cat Fancy. Sparkle’s first book, Dear Sparkle: Advice from One Cat to Another, won the Wild Card category at the 2007 Hollywood Book Festival and honorable mentions in several other contests. She also recently came home with the Pettie Award — the pet blogging equivalent of an Oscar — for Best Cat Blog. Sparkle lives in Los Angeles with two humans, two feline roommates (both rescue cats), and (unfortunately) a dog.

Dear Sparkle: Cat-to-Cat Advice from the World’s Foremost Feline Columnist (Adams Media) is her second book.

You can visit Sparkle’s blog at http://www.sparklecat.com.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Guest post by Giggles and Boots, proud owners of Cheryl Malandrinos

Please say hello to Giggles and Boots!

These two feline critters live with freelance writer and editor Cheryl Malandrinos. Cheryl's first children's book,
The Little Shepherd, just came out by Guardian Angel Publishing. Be sure to check it out here. It's a Christmas book, people, so keep it in mind for gifts. It would make a great stocking filler! Woof! I LOVE stocking fillers!

Anyway, what was I saying??? Oh yes--Cheryl! She's also a tour coordinator for Pump Up Your Book,
a book reviewer and a blogger. Talk about busy!

Meet Giggles and Boots!

Giggles: I have to admit, I like Cheryl. She pretty much feeds me whenever I cry long enough, she keeps my litter box clean, and she plays with me during the day.

Boots: Humph. That’s because you’re her favorite.

Giggles: I am not. I just don’t go after her feet when she’s sleeping or tear up the edges of the carpet the way you do, sister.

Boots: Whatever.

Giggles: Yeah, well if she has to replace the carpet in Sarah’s bedroom she’ll end up replacing you too.

Boots: Katherine wouldn’t let her do that.

Giggles: That girl has it for you bad. The way she carries you to bed with her each night, then brings you into the bathroom and sits you on the counter while she’s brushing her teeth, she’s teaching Sarah all kinds of bad tricks. Now she picks me up on the counter each morning and it is cold.

Boots: Well, at least she doesn’t paint your face with makeup like Katherine does.

Giggles: (Snickers) That touch of pink on your cheeks brings out the amber of your eyes.

Boots: Keep it up and I’ll make sure you get locked in the basement overnight.

Giggles: We’re supposed to be talking about Cheryl.

Boots: You’re the one who started talking about the girls.

Giggles: Fair enough. What do you think of those Giggles and Boots stories she makes up every night for bedtime?

Boots: Some are just plain silly. I mean, can you see us flying a hot air balloon or getting dressed up and going trick or treating? Why the kids love those crazy stories is beyond me.

Giggles: Lighten up, they’re kids.

Boots: Well, you and I are kids too, but you don’t see us acting all crazy.

Giggles: Uhem.

Boots: Okay, maybe a little crazy. But Cheryl is the craziest out of the bunch.

Giggles: I know. Can you believe she adopted us when she already had three other cats?

Boots: And her with those bad allergies.

Giggles: She must really love us.

Boots: Well, she loves you anyway.

Giggles: Stop it. Aren’t you the one she calls Bootie-rat?

Boots: She calls you Giggy-rat.

Giggles: Yeah, but she pets you more than she pets me.

Boots: That’s because I actually purr. You remember cats are supposed to do that, right?

Giggles: I like being different.

Boots: You’re different all right.

Giggles: What’s that supposed to mean?

Boots: (Looks around the room) Oh, nothing.

Giggles: So, what do you think about Cheryl’s writing?

Boots: Don’t you think she could have worked a cat into her first book, Little Shepherd? I mean, she’s got a cow, a donkey, and a sheep. Would it have been so hard to add a cat?

Giggles: I think you’re going to have to depend on Katherine for that. She’s the one who writes cat poetry and stories.

Boots: They say the apple doesn’t fall from the tree.

Giggles: I think you fell out of tree and onto your head.

Boots: You didn’t just say that.

Giggles: Yes, I did.

Boots: (Waves a paw in Giggles’ face) Oh, no you didn’t.

Giggles: Did….

Boots: Didn’t….

Monday, November 1, 2010

And the winners are...

Drumroll, please....

The winners of 30 Days to a Well-Mannered Dog, by Tamar Geller, are...

Kathy Skempe
Terri Donna
Suzanne Marion
Suzanne Lieurance
Jessica Kennedy
Rebecca Camarena
Teresa Dovalpage
Janet Ann Collins
Beverly McClure
Thelma Reyna
Linda Faulkner
Cheryl Malandrinos

Congrats to the winners!!! But darn, I see not everyone posted their email address in the comment, so it'll probably take me a couple of days to contact everybody.

I hope your doggies become better behaved from now on... Woof!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Pet Interview & SUPER Giveaway!

Meet Clyde, proud owner of author and famous dog trainer Tamar Geller!

Is this cool or what? Famous dog-trainer Tamar Geller is giving away 20 copies of her NEW book, 30 Days to a Well-Mannered Dog, to Pets & Their Authors for a SUPER GIVEAWAY!

All you have to do to be eligible is become a Follower and leave a comment! Please leave contact info so I can contact you if you win. The 20 winners will be announced next Sunday, October 31--yep, on Halloween! You have until then to vote. Woof! Woof!

Only people who live in the US are eligible (sorry about that, but international postage is painful, you guys--nothing personal!)

Tamar is a bestselling author and amazing dog trainer. She has done dog coaching to the stars­. Among them are Oprah Winfrey, Ben Affleck Courteney Cox-Arquette, Owen Wilson, Natalie Portman, and Larry King.

Here to give us the inside scoop is her companion of 13 years, Clyde.

Hey, Clyde! When did you first find out your human mom, Tamar, was a dog trainer?

She took me hiking on our first date & then played games with me that she somehow knew they were my favorite games. I realized that she understood the wolf in me!!!!

Tamar is famous! I mean, she's been on Oprah Has this gone to her head?

If it were me, it would have gone to my belly.

But seriously my mom takes things into her heart not her head.

So I hear she has a new book out, 30 Days to a Well-Mannered Dog. Is
this true? Just 30 days? Isn't that being a bit too idealistic?

Dogs are smarter than most people give them credit for.... We need people to make it fun for us to kearn and it takes us no time to be their willing partners. When we feel empowered and heard you’ll be surprised what we will do

Where is the book available?

The book is available at book stores and online book retailers everywhere! In my opinion, it should be available at dog parks as well!

I'm a reasonably well-behaved golden retriever. I think my only bad habit is to stare longingly at my humans when they eat. I also bark of pure joy when we're ready to go out, which is twice a day. My mom wants to know how to stop this. (Okay, she forced me to ask this question!)

Tell your mom that when she's eating she need to give you a chew toy that you are especially fond of, one that isn’t always available to you. A nice uncooked marrow (soup bone) will do the trick. Now when it comes to barking before your walk, tell your mom you are a expressing pure joy and excitement for life. Tell her that I think it's cute to be so excited about such a simple thing.

I saw on your mom's website something about Operation Heroes + Hounds.
What's that about?

Operation Heroes & Hounds is a non-profit program to assist my canine buddies in the shelter as well as the brave men and women who have served our country in the military. They help each other to overcome anybad experience that they had in their past.

What do you love most about Tamar?

She cooks “real food” for me on a daily basis and everyday she takes me on at least one exciting excursion. I love to go to her friends who have dogs. But she also lets me know about 20x’s a day how much she loves me. I hear her say to me “I love my Clydie”. She plays ball with me too. I love that. I need that. Guess, I’m a loved dog, huh?

Did she take you to see Oprah?

Many times & btw…. I love playing with Oprah’s dogs. They are so much fun!

Okay, leave us with some words of canine wisdom………

As dogs we like nothing more than to know that our relationship with our human family is one of partnership and teamwork. We don’t want to be dominated by… or submissive to… the humans we love so much. We just want to be understood. We’ve got seven basic needs, ya know? (pssst…. read the book). And btw the way to a dog’s heart is through his stomach! Woof!

Thanks, Clyde! Send a BIG kiss to your mom. I think I have fallen in love (don't tell my mom!)

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Special Feature: The Lost Dogs

Woof! I want to feature a special book this week, THE LOST DOGS. Listen, people, this is important. This really happened. What's wrong with some humans? Why would they want to do something like this to dogs?

Thankfully, there are angels in the world like Jim Gorant, and for these dogs, there was a happy ending.

Basically, this is the story:

On April 26th, 2007, law enforcement officials descended on a sprawling white-brick house at 1915 Moonlight Road in Smithfield, Virginia. The home belonged to Michael Vick, who was the starting quarterback for the Atlanta Falcons and one of the highest paid players in the NFL. Although the police were there on a drug search, they quickly found evidence of what appeared to be a large, well-financed dog fighting operation.

Fifty-one pit bulls were seized from the property and they sat in local shelters for six months as the ensuing investigation played out, leading to guilty pleas from Vick and his partners in an operation known as Bad Newz Kennels. In most cases, that would have been it for the dogs. Considered a public hazard, they would have been euthanized. But a tidal wave of public outcry inspired government officials to at least consider the possibility of saving some dogs.

The startling string of events that followed included a landmark legal decision, a never-before assembled team of expert evaluators, a leap of faith and a selection of rescuers who were willing to do whatever it took to help. At the heart of it all was a group of dogs that wanted desperately to overcome what had until then been a life of violence and deprivation.

Taken together, these tales showcase a resilience, dedication and commitment that have the power to alter the way society views pit bulls and to reinforce the essential nature of the human-animal bond. The Lost Dogs, for the first time, tells the behind-the-scenes story from the day of that initial raid until today.

Buy the book on AMAZON: http://www.amazon.com/Lost-Dogs-Michael-Rescue-Redemption/dp/1592405509/ref=sr_1_1?s=gateway&ie=UTF8&qid=1285188457&sr=8-1

Book website: http://www.thelostdogsbook.com/

Book trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=939tGP4h6Sw

Clip of the book on CBS Early Show: http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=6884146n&tag=related%3Bphotovideo.

Facebook fan page: http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/The-Lost-Dogs/143499228996611?ref=ts

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Meet Snowy, proud owner of author Linda Singleton

My guest today is a white kitty--appropiately named Snowy--who shares her home with popular young adult author Linda Singleton. In her books, Linda writes about goths, psychics, mermaids, aliens, cheerleaders, clones, parallel worlds and ghosts, and all kinds of stuff that make you jump in the night. She has even won awards! Her YA series, THE SEER and DEAD GIRL, were honored as YALSA Popular Paperback/Quick Picks. Pretty cool!

Snowy has been described as skittish and not cuddly (Hmm, I wonder if this is true. What do you think, from looking at her picture?)

So tell us, Snowy, how did you end up in Linda's household?

I came from a woman who lived in the country who had over 25 cats. Molly, with whom I share my home, was purchased at an animal-welfare event.

What is it like living with a popular author like Linda? I bet all that popularity goes to her head! Ha!

Some of her books may be popular (like THE SEER series) but she's kind of boring, sitting at that computer for hours ever day. It's like she's attached to that desk. Usually I curl up nearby. Molly does NOT want to be picked up but enjoys tickles around her neck.

I hear Linda writes books for young adults... books with dead girls onthe cover? Come on, gimme a break. Your human mom has a dark streak, if you ask me.

Technically Amber in DEAD GIRL trilogy isn't dead, it's just she's not in her own body, which gets complicated as she becomes a popular girl, the college sister of her new boyfriend and then her own best friend. There's a dead guy stalking her, too, which is really creepy, especially when he tries to convince Amber to join him on the dark side in DEAD GIRL IN LOVE. Fortunately the world of cats is very simple: eat, littler-box, sleep, eat, litter-box, sleep.

Of all her books, which one is your favorite?

The new book, MAGICIAN'S MUSE, because a cat plays a very important part in this book. Lily has mismatched eyes and she is the heroine of the entire book. Yup, not Sabine the psychic or that hot-looking Dominic who can talk to animals (we really like him). But it's Lily who leads Sabine to the secret hideaway in the woods.

Does Linda have a website or blog? Tell us!

Lots of blogging. Links can be found on her website: www.LindaJoySingleton.com . She also has an author page at Facebook where she's shares the latest news: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Linda-Joy-Singleton-Author/120766461299610

Tell us something about Linda nobody knows.

Her first cat was named Pinky--and it was a boy.

Ok, so what's the best part about living with Linda? The worse?

Best is she lives in the country so we sometimes play outside. Bad thing is that there are coyotes in the country, so we have to be very careful and stay inside every night. Living with a writer rocks because she's home a lot. It's like she doesn't have a life except staring at that shiny computer screen -- and she doesn't even have a tail to chase which is just sad.

Thanks, Snowy! And give my best to Molly!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Interview with Prince Jakob, proud owner of author Sharon Kay Roberts

Hey, long time no see! Okay, I admit it. It's been a while since I last posted, but what can I say? I've been traveling the world all summer without a laptop. Okay, it's a lie, but a WHITE lie, I swear! I don't like admiting I've been lazy!

But I'm back and this time with a great interview with a horse, Prince Jacob. His Highness shares his estate with author Sharon Kay Roberts...

So, Prince Jacob, what type of books does your human mom write?

Horse books of course. She sometimes thinks she is knowledgeable about horses. She has written one for tweens and one for teens.

Of all your mom’s books, which one is your favorite?

“Honey, A Pony’s Story, http://www.horse-books-pony-stories.com/horse-crazy.html


Because my friends and I actually wrote it. Mom loves us ponies and even The Dog, who is obnoxious at best. The cats are OK. But she really isn’t as tuned into what goes on in our minds as she likes to think. Often when she is out scratching and grooming us her thoughts are elsewhere. It took all of us working together to reach her. Even then we had to do it when she was sleeping. I think humans are the only species who are not evolved enough to use the morphogenetic fields at will. So we had to slip into hers while “her logic” was turned off.

What’s with your name? Did Sharon choose it?

Yes Mom did name me.

What has that done to your self esteem and what does that say about her?

I am Ok with my name. Prince refers to my heritage as a United Kingdom Shetland Pony, which I am very proud of. We UK Shetlands have shared the life, love and toils of our humans for many years. Mom has a grandson named Jakob so I believe it is also an honor to carry his name. At least I know that is how she meant it.

Have you read any of Sharon’s other books? Are they really as good as she thinks they are?

While we were sharing Honey’s story with Mom she was thinking of her other book “Olympic Gold for Cat and Toby.” She wrote it for teens. Toby is a fictional horse and so isn’t nearly as interesting as our story of Honey. You might need your friends in the CIA to do a cover-up there. I wouldn’t want to hurt Mom’s feeling, but she doesn’t write as good when we aren’t feeding her the story line by line. http://www.coalition-independent-authors.com/teen-horse-fiction.html

What do you do for amusement while Sharon pounds at the computer all day and ignores you?

I am fortunate to live with six other ponies. We have sixteen acres in rural Arkansas, so we have plenty to do. We have a lot of deer who come in a graze with us. They can so easily jump over the fences, so they get to eat the good grass I can’t reach.

What does your mom do besides writing?

She says she is building a CIA website. She says it is Authors Helping Authors. www.coalition-independent-authors.com

Is she a hermit or does she actually set her foot outdoors? My mom has to be dragged outside.

My Mom is a hermit in that she hates to go to town. She is happiest at home. She likes to spend time with us, take The Dog for a daily walk around the property and dig in the dirt. She plants things that aren’t good to eat, but it seems to make her happy, so I am OK with that.

Does Sharon ask your advice when she’s stuck? Yes she does. Does she even listen?

I think she tries to listen, but sometimes her own thoughts are so busy bumping into each other that she can’t hear our thoughts. I wish she could hear us better, I know she would be happier and more at peace if she did.

Thanks, Your Highness!

Hey, readers, Sharon's Corner Bookstore has horse books to entertain, educate, and enlighten you. Be sure to check it out!


Monday, July 19, 2010

Interview with Jax Mundo, proud owner of Frank Mundo

Say hello to Jax. Jax Mundo (cool name or what?). Jax is a one year-old half shihtzu/half poodle and the proud owner for Frank Mundo, author of a very unique book called The Brubury Tales, a modern version of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales in Los Angeles. The entire book is written in poetry, 8,300+ lines of poetry fun--yeah, I'm NOT kidding! Thanks God Jax is here to explain how this situation came about. I mean, come on, people--if you write a book with 8,300+ lines of poetry you must be either crazy or a genius (I'm not trying to be mean, I swear! Let's just say I'm not good at poetry...)

Oh, before I forget: Frank is the LA Books Examiner, so be sure to check out his column!

No more delays! Here's the interview...

Hey, Jax Mundo. Cool name. Who gave it to you?

My humans think that it's important that my name reflects my unique qualities as a member of the Mundo family -- at least that's the official story. The truth is, my full name is Jacqueline, which is nice and all, but I don't like it very much,and I never answer to that name. I'm much morethan an LA canine and I feel I have a lot to offer the world. Not only do I have a degree in Obedience from California State University at Northridge (8 weeks of master classes), I protect our home from outside and other forces that might upset the harmony of our existence. I inspire my humans and encourage them always to be at their most creative -- not to mention my company is topnotch and I'm also an excellent singer -- as long as it's not late at night; my humans get very upset by my late-night singing, for some reason. So Jacqueline became Jackie and Jackie became just Jax, which I really liked and finally accepted as my name.

I hear you live with human writer Frank Mundo. How’s that like? (No sugar coating allowed, buddy!)

Unlike my other human, Nancy, Frank works from home. All day long he sits at the computer writing. In the morning it's tough for me. He starts his day at 5 a.m. and most days I have to lick his face a lot to get him up and working. Throughout the day he tries to pay me some attention, but I can forget all about that if he has a deadline!!! But I understand. He has to pay the mortgage and those deadlines are important. Plus he also writes about books and authors and shares with the reading community all of the cool books events occuring around town at his website -- and that's good, too. Humans should read more. Besides, I have a lot to do, too, during the day. Sometimes I wish I could go with him to his readings, but my job at the home is more important than these events.

What’s this about Frank’s book, The Brubury Tales, a modern version of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales? My mom hated those tales in college—not your human’s, but Chaucer’s!

Well, perhaps your mom hated the tales because they are 700 years old and written in an older form of English called Middle English. As bilingual dogs, we're masters of the nuances of language, and it's difficult for us to go backwards. The cool thing about Frank's Brubury Tales is, although it's an homage to Chaucer's older work, it's a modern version of the story set in Los Angeles just after the riots. All of the characters speak the modern American Englishwe're used to. And it's funny. There are seven security guards working at the Holiday Inn in Downton LA on the graveyard, and they each want the exact same vacation days (probably to spend with their dogs) that only one of them can take. So, to make things fair, they decide to have a story-telling competition for this prize, and that's where the fun begins. They each share their stories throughout the night, battling it out as they fight and get closer and we learn all about their personalities. The best part, you don't have to know anything about Chaucer or the tales to read the book -- although Frank hopes that the book might encourage readers to read the classics and share them with their dogs.

Is there a dog in the book? Then I like it!

There are 13 tales and, even though there's only one tale about a dog, I still like it and I think you will, too. It's funny, modern and the poetry makes me want to sing...Woof woof!

According to bestselling author Carolyn See of The Washington Post and LA Times, "The Brubury Tales is a landmark book, in what is going to be -- and already is -- an exceptional, distinguished literary career." Wow! I bet that went straight to your human’s head!

Yes, it's all we heard about for days -- my goodness. He went on and on and on like a cat or something! But, I guess I understand. After all, it took Frank nine years to write to this book. He worked really hard to make it modern and funny while still honoring the original works. And while he bragged about those comments from Carolyn See, a true literary legend in California writing, Frank knows that he doesn't compare to Chaucer or any of the great writers discussed in the book. No one can compete with these writers. I try to remind him of that whenever he gets a little big-headed.

Why are you essential to Frank’s success?

It's true that I didn't come along until after much of the work on this book was completed. But Frank, like a lot of writers, is a passionate (think moody) person and I know that my love and loyalty calms his nerves and betters his life. Before I came along, he was actually a cat person -- can you believe that?

But I think I've turned him and he's much wiser because of it. I think you'll see it in his newer work. He gives a lot of credit to Nancy, my other human, but really it's me.

Okay, so give us Frank’s blog and website, so we can check it out!

The Brubury Tales is available for purchase online here http://tinyurl.com/2bdxkk2 where you can read a bit of it first to see if you like it. It's also available on Amazon and soon will be available as an eBook, whatever that is. Frank's books website is http://www.examiner.com/x-5892-LA-Books-Examiner where you can read his book reviews and author interviews.

Leave us with some words of canine wisdom.

This is a message for humans. Rescue a dog and he or she will save your life. I promise you, no other friendship will be as rewarding. Can I get a woof woof for that!!

Woof! Woof! Well said!

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Meet Ziggy, proud owner of Lauren Carr

Woof! Please welcome my special guest Ziggy! Ziggy is the proud owner of award-winning mystery author Lauren Carr. Lauren's novels include A Small Case of Murder, A Reunion to Die For, and the just released It's Murder, My Son, her first book in her Mac Faraday series. Be sure to check out her website and blog, people.

Hey, Ziggy. How you became part of the Carr household is quite a story. Would you share it with my readers?

Yep, it is some story. Too good not to tell.

One bright Saturday morning, when I was just a little pup, my previous human put me and my five brothers and sisters into a box and took us to the park. There were a bunch of kids out on the field playing football. At half-time, my human picked me up and took me over to this little boy and asked him if he would like to hold me. To me, that question was a no-brainer. After all, how could anyone not want to hold a cute cuddly ball of fur like me? But the kid didn’t say yes right away. He looked over at this woman and asked her if he could. That was when I put on my cutest face. You know the face. I made my brown eyes as big and soulful as they could be. I may have only been five weeks old, but I already had that look down. It’s the look that lets me get away with almost anything and it did that morning. She said sure, why not? What harm can come from holding a puppy. So the kid took me into his arms and it was love at first hug for the both of us. Then, the human, my first human, told this kid, “You can keep him. He’s free.” Suddenly, my first human was gone. I mean, she was out of there! Turns out she had found homes for all of my brothers and sisters that same way.

But, hey, it worked out good for me. The kid ended up being Tristan and his mom, now mine, turned out to be Lauren Carr. She writes murder mysteries. I think that is so cool.

That's quite a story, Ziggy--and with a happy ending. My favorite kind! But let's get down to some technical details. What is your breed?

It depends on who you ask. When Mom first took me to the vet for a checkup the vet told her that I was a dachshund. Can you believe that? Look at me. Do I look like a wiener dog to you?

No, you don’t.

When I was a pup Mom told people that I was a mutant dachshund. But then as I got bigger, she started telling people that I was an Australian shepherd mix. That makes me sound more dignified. I definitely have shepherd in me because I sometimes have an uncontrollable urge to herd Beagle Bailey around. He really hates that but I can’t help it.

Who is Beagle Bailey? Your brother?

Yep. He’s a beagle. Good thing since his name is Beagle Bailey. He’s my older brother. He’s seven years old. I’m four. Bailey’s great. We love to wrestle, but we didn’t always get along so well. When Mom first brought me home, he was really mad.

Mom and Dad had promised Beagle Bailey that he would get to be an only dog. For the first couple of weeks after I moved in, Bailey kept threatening to sue our folks over breach of contract. But his lawyer said that he didn’t have any case on account that he had nothing in writing promising that he would be an only pet. Eventually, I grew on him. Tristan is his human. Beagle Bailey sleeps in his bed. Me, I keep my den under Mom and Dad’s bed. Bailey tells me I’m weird because of that. Hey, aren’t dogs supposed to like dens? My den is perfect. It’s dark, warm, and private. I think he’s jealous because he has to share his bed with Tristan.

Have you ever heard of a dog that saved his dog biscuits? Before I got here Bailey would save the dog biscuits that Mom gave him under Tristan’s mattress and eat them later at his leisure. He would actually save them! Like some day Mom would stop handing them out. Of course, when I got here I ate them all. That was when he called his lawyer. If you ask me, and you are, he’s the weird one.

Let's chat about your mom, author Lauren Carr. What is it like living with her? Is she one of those egotistical authors (like my mom)?

Lauren claims to be, but I know the truth. Would you believe that Mom is the only female in our family? She’s always taking care of everyone. Cooking and doing laundry. When she first brought me home, she was taking care of Grandpa, Tristan’s grandfather. He was great. Every evening, during his cocktail hour, he would let me climb up into his wheelchair and lick his face. Then, he would spill his brandy all over me and I’d go running and he’d cuss. Then Mom would clean it up. That’s why my coat is so soft and shiny. It was the brandy rinse. Grandpa passed away a little over a year ago.

I'm sorry to hear that, Ziggy.

Mom gets up real early in the morning to write. I like to sit at her feet on those quiet times and inspire her.

Tell us about Lauren's book. I hear one of her characters is a dog name Gnarly.

Gnarly is a German shepherd. She based him on me. His name means extreme and Mom says that’s what I am. I’m either very bad or very good, but always loveable. Gnarly is the only dog to be dishonorably discharged from the United States Army. The army refuses to talk about him. I was never in the army. So she didn’t base that part on me. But she did steal Gnarly making his den under Mac Faraday’s bed from me.

In It’s Murder, My Son, homicide detective Mac Faraday was on the brink of bankruptcy when he inherits his birth mother’s estate. It ends up she was Robin Spencer, the American version of Agatha Christie. In addition to her swanky estate in a small resort town on Deep Creek Lake, Maryland, he inherits Gnarly, her German shepherd. The very first time the reader meets me—I mean Gnarly—he’s standing on Mac’s chest when he first arrives at Spencer Manor. He finds out that Robin had saved Gnarly from being put down after he almost died trying to save his mistress, the next door neighbor, from being murdered.

Sounds like a great read! So Gnarly is a witness to his mistress’s murder?

Yes, and he leads Mac Faraday to the killer. Gnarly becomes Mac Faraday’s sidekick.

You have to read it! It just came out and will be available on Mom’s website, Amazon, and anywhere you can get books.

Cool! Does Lauren have a website?

Sure does. It’s at http://laurencarr.webs.com/. She also blogs. Her blog is called Lauren’s World of Mystery Writing. You can catch that at http://writerlaurencarr.blogspot.com/

What do you do while Lauren writes and ignores you?

I often sleep at her feet and inspire her. I really like it when she puts a fire in the fireplace and I can curl up in front of the fire.

I do that when I’m not patrolling the perimeter. It’s a big responsibility keeping the squirrels out and there are a lot of squirrels here. We live on a mountain in West Virginia, which is mostly mountains. There are trees all around the place and those stupid squirrels are always trying to invade. When it’s not the squirrels, it’s the hawks and other birds invading my airspace. They come right in at eye level and mock me!

I can sympahize, brother. Only here it is the rabbits that drive me crazy!

Every now and then to break things up Bailey and I will wrestle and play around. Our favorite thing is to go tearing around the house. We have all hardwood floors here so when we get running really fast it can be like skating. I love to get going really fast and run into the living room, hit the Oriental rug at top speed and slide it all the way across the room and Wham! end with a body slam against the French doors! Then Dad comes in and finds the rug up against the doors and Bailey acts so innocent. He’s such a brown nose.

What do you love most about Lauren?

She’s a softie. If she wasn’t I wouldn’t be here. Not only that, but she has great taste in dogs.

Leave us with some canine words of wisdom.

Here’s a piece of advice that every dog should always remember. Never forget—Gotta go! Squirrels incoming off the east deck! They’ve captured the bird feeder! Grrr!

Hey, Ziggy, don't leave us guessing like that, man! That's mean! Woof!--Oops, gotta go! Rabbit alert! Rabbit alert!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Meet Deuce, proud owner of Mary Jean Kelso

Woof! Woof!

Say hello to my guest today: Deuce. This kitty cat lives with multi-genre author Mary Jean Kelso. She's written dozens of titles from children's books to middle grade to adult mysteries. Her picture book horse series, illustrated by Oregonian award-winning artist K.C. Snider, is quite popular. Today Deuce will be spilling the beans on Mary Jean (okay, so she's talented, but she can't be that perfect!)

So I hear you live with children's author Mary Jean Kelsey, huh? What's that like? Is she a good pet owner?

Ummmm. That's Mary Jean Kelso. It sure beats living in the shelter! There, I was in a tiny cage and here I have a big house to patrol and keep safe. What can I say? It's like having a maid to clean up after me, feed me exotic treats, keep my water fountain fresh and only interrupt a snooze to stroke my fur.

What do you do when Mary writes? Does she let you sit on her lap?

When I'm not testing my teeth on the computer equipment cords (I recently bit one of the printer cables a little too tight and caused Mary to spend an entire day tracing the trouble down) I nap or lay on the work table in the sun. Sometimes I jump up onto her cluttered desk and prowl around behind the monitor or slide off the printer top. Once, I even helped key in some words with all four of my paws. That brought her to an immediate halt when the internet company shut the system down for what they thought was SPAM. Guess I sent something to too many email addresses.

Tell us about her books and especially about her horse story series!

Oh, she works a lot on the Andy series. It's about a little boy in a wheelchair and a therapy horse called Spirit. I wish she'd write something about cats. Someday, she promises she will. But I heard the next Andy book was going to be about a dog! You might like that, Amigo. I'd rather chase a bird than read about dogs. Anyway, I digress, this Spirit is some kind of horse! Somehow she makes this little boy feel free and adventurous. Maybe, if I was big enough for someone to ride, I could do that, too.

How does Mary Jean get inspired to write all that? Do you help in that department?

No, I might help her figure things out sometimes. But, she usually gets her ideas when she is away on a book signing or out and about doing whatever she does when she leaves me home alone. (Secretly, I kind of like the quiet so I can get in a nice long nap in without being disturbed.

How come she hasn't written a story about you yet? Aren't you mad about that?

Hey! Come to think of it, she hasn't. Well, as long as she keeps bringing my canned tuna home from the store, I can't feel too bad about it. Maybe you'd like to know how I got my name? That way, there'll be something in print about me anyway. I'm a mostly white cat. My tail is black and looks like somebody tried to put a handle on a piece of pottery. You know, how it kinda connects on the bigger part of a pot like a blob? Anyway, I have a black cap and half black ears where the pink doesn't show through the white fur there. On my back are two perfectly round black spots. Guess somebody thought it made me look like one of those wooden game pieces with dots on it. So, the other people I lived with called me Domino. Seemed like my new family thought that was too much of a male name so Mary's friend called me Deuce. I like that much better. I learned it quickly and answer to it without a second thought.

Okay, so give us the gritty details. What's the name of Mary's publisher and where can we get her books?

Oh, I know that one! She's always on the computer with the publisher, illustrator, or one of the people they call Angels. It is Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc. If you go to their website www.guardianangelpublishing.com you can find all of her kids books up there. Seven, so far. There are a whole bunch more in queue. The Adventures of Andy and Spirit comes out later this year for tween readers. RV Mouse and Andy and Spirit Meet the Rodeo Queen just came out and the next one in the series is the one I mentioned before--Andy and Spirit in Search and Rescue. That's the one with the dog. It has a big surprise in it!

Do you get along with K.C. Snider, the illustrator of your books? The truth!

Well, I've only met her once when she was here to go to a signing in Virginia City and Reno. I was pretty shy then. I'm getting braver now. I understand she has a dog that's about the same size I am -- Jack, they say. I don't know if I'd get along with him!

What do you like most about Mary?

She considers me one of the family. Just like family, I know she would never leave me. I have a home for as long as I live. All these poor other animals that people have had to leave behind when they moved because of the economy makes me so sad. I know wherever Mary and the family go, I go, too.

Is there anything annoying about her?

Her schedule! Just when I want to play, she wants to go to sleep. I get up way before her, too. Then I have to tear through the house with someone else, whoever I can get out of bed by chewing on cords or knocking something off the bureau, whatever it takes. When I'm up, I'm up! Finally, by at least 5 o'clock I manage to get her out of bed, too.

Give us some last words of feline wisdom.

Well, Amigo, always look cute and cuddly. Try to hide the holes in the electrical cords so no one knows you've chewed them until you're out of sight. If you eat too much and have to throw up, move off the carpet onto the kitchen tile. But, you probably have learned those things already! Always help your author friend with their work so the treats will keep coming!

Hey, thanks for letting me unload all my neuroses on you! I don't talk this much usually. It felt good! Meow!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Guest Pet Blogger Jack, proud owner of award-winning Oregonian artist K.C. Snider

My co-owner, illustrator K.C. Snider, doesn't have a clue. I can pull the wool over her eyes anytime I want to. I love to chew up her eyeglasses (they were only $700) and her favorite paint brushes, especially the ones that cost at least $65 each. I can snag those things off her table or desk faster than white lightening and she'll never know if someone doesn't rat on me. I guess she's a pretty good illustrator, at least that's what Lynda Burch says.

I definitely rule the roost around here. I get a treat for just about everything I do. If I go outside and bark at the donkey named Jack, as long as I come back inside when K.C. yells at me, I get a treat. Of course, I know how to pester K.C. until she gives in. My favorite treats are dried chicken and duck dog jerky, Boy, is that stuff expensive. I eat better than my other co-owner, Fred.

My name is Jack. But Fred decided when I was little that all I did was poop. My dad says that all I do is eat and un-eat. So he called me, "Little Pooper." And that sort of stuck, so now my mom calls me "Poop" and my mom's publicist calls me "Poop". I'll answer to anything as long as I get a treat.

K.C. is a really dedicated illustrator and she works at her easel until the wee small hours of the morning. Usually, I bug her as often as I can so she'll give me a treat. I'll jump up on her and make sure my claws dig in. I talk to her incessantly (just like right now). I nudge her with my cold nose. But once in a while she gets a little tired of me and puts me in my dog carrier. That's my 'doghouse'.

My mom doesn't snack while she works, unfortunately because I like to get the leftovers. In fact, sometimes she gets so absorbed, she forgets to eat. Dad has to come into the studio and complain loudly that he's hungry. Then things start to happen and pretty soon I'm licking a juicy plate. Dad says,"Well, we don't have to wash that one."

I love having visitors. I'm always a great hit with a crowd. I was definitely the life of the GAP West Coast Get-together party. Those folks (especially Lynda Burch and Susanne Batson) really made a great deal of me. Susanne even sends me gifts now. Mom won't let me have the red beanie baby dog because she says I'll rip it to shreds (I'm starring at it right now up on the window sill and everyone is very amused about that.)

My mom hopes some day that someone will write a book about me and she'll get to illustrate it. She'll really do a great job with that since she'll have me to model for her anytime she wants.

Well Amigo, I've got to go check on the dumb donkey and the rest of my territory.

Check out K.C. Snider's links!


Friday, May 14, 2010

Interview with Molly, one of the characters in Mary Cunningham's The Magician's Castle

Say Woof! to my special guest today: Molly! Molly is a fictional doggy in one of Mary Cunningham's fantasy/mystery middle-grade novels, The Magician's Castle. But she's not just a fictional character. She's based on a real Molly who was very close to Mary's heart. Now she lives forever in her books!

If you've never heard of Mary Cunningham, she's a super cool author who writes exciting stories for tweens ages 9-12. My mom has read all of her books and she loves them! So be sure to check out Mary's website at http://marycunningham.wordpress.com.

Molly, I understand you're one of the characters in Mary's new book, The Magician's Castle. What type of character are you and what role do you play in the story?

Molly: Woof! My first interview! This is as exciting as taking a walk or getting a new chew toy!

In my author's book, "The Magician's Castle," I start out as a pretty unassuming little brown mutt, but do I ever change. Thanks to some pretty cool magic, I transform into the size of a Kentucky thoroughbred and save the day for Cynthia and Gus when they're threatened by a huge rock monster. I also do what doggies do best; dig up clues. When the two time-traveling best friends get stuck, I save the day with my clue-sniffing nose.

Mary told me your character is based on her beloved dog, who passed away not long ago. How does it feel to immortalize a real pet in such a way?

Molly: When I found out about how I was honoring the first Molly, I just wanted to chase my tail with joy. To be such an interesting and valuable character in a book is great, but to be able to immortalize a fellow canine that meant the world to her mom and dad, is more than I ever imagined. I knew from the start that the love and care Mary put into writing my character was not only her devotion to the series, but mainly her devotion to Molly.

What was the real Molly like? Are you any different than the real Molly?

Molly: The real Molly adopted her family when she was three years-old. Her first mom died and a neighbor took her to the Miami Animal Shelter. It was mutual love when her new dad spotted the solid brown, twenty-pound pooch with the inquisitive eyes, sitting in a pen behind two barking, obnoxious German Shepherds. She loved to run, until her knee got hurt, but even then she loved being outside helping her family with yard work and chasing squirrels. When they were inside watching TV, she had a whole loveseat all to herself. She loved to please and never made a mistake. She could sense moods and was always available for a loving pat or a tender hug. She had 13 wonderful years with her family, and I know they still miss her.

The only difference I can see between me and Molly is that, as far as I know, she never grew to horse size! But, had she been confronted with some big monster trying to hurt Cynthia and Gus, or her real family, I'm sure she would've been just as brave, even at her small size.

What is it like inside Mary's imaginative brain? Things must be pretty turbulent in there. I mean, this lady writes middle-grade fantasy, right?

Molly: Whoa! Are you sure you want to go there? Sometimes, her fingers are a blur on the keyboard. Then, other times, she grumbles about not being able to get over writers block, whatever that is. She also complains about all the stuff she has to do that has no connection with writing, but I guess that goes along with being an author. I've also heard her talk about the weird dreams she has and that she started writing "Cynthia's Attic" because of a recurring dream she had for more than 20 years.

When I dream, it's usually about chasing rabbits or squirrels. Maybe I'll write a book about that, someday!

Who is your favorite character in the story?

Molly: You mean, besides me? I like all the nice characters (there are some mean ones, too!) but the little fairy, Elly Elloway, is pretty special. She dresses in purple and is pretty cool, but talks funny! She introduced herself by saying, "Eloise Elloway, I am. But call me Elly, ye can." She helps find clues when it comes to finding a missing page in The Book of Spells. She also helps me grow to horse size so I can protect all of us from the Rock Monster.

What is your favorite part in the book?

Molly: My favorite part of the book is when Gus and Cynthia travel forward into the future and meet a very familiar pair of best friends. That's also when I first appear! The girls think I'm pretty cute, but don't consider me anything more than a nice, little pet...until later.

You must be feel pretty special, being in Mary's novel...

Molly: Arf! I sure do! Especially since my character was created because of a very special member of my author's family. I just hope Molly would like how I play her in the book. I'm identical to her in looks, and also have her independent personality, so I'm sure she'd approve.

Tell us where we can find The Magician's Castle!

Molly: Here are some links where you can buy all four "Cynthia's Attic" books. Thanks, Amigo, for inviting me to your blog!

Mary Cunningham Books
Quake/Echelon Press

Thank you, Molly! Woof!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Chia talks about her human mom, author Smoky Trudeau

Woof! Woof! Say hello to my guest Chia! She's here today to talk about her human mom, Smoky Trudeau, a talented author of both fiction and nonfiction.

Meet Chia...

Chia is a nine-year-old shepherd mix who was rescued from an animal shelter when she was a five-pound puppy. She grew quickly on a steady diet of kibble and puppy biscuits, and now tips the scales at a whopping seventy-six pounds. When not sleeping under Smoky’s desk, she enjoys playing with her squeaky vet and squeaky lamb chew toys, chasing her cat siblings, Beetlejuice and Po, around the living room, and trying to eat lizards while taking leisurely walks through the neighborhood.

(Hmm. Quick calculation here... how much is 76 pounds in kilos. Aha! 34... Darn, I'm fatter than her!)

Chia lives with her family in a ramshackle cottage in the woods overlooking the San Gabriel Valley and Mountains beyond. While she tries to maintain a low profile, the same cannot be said for her human, Smoky. You can learn more about Smoky at her Website, www.smokytrudeau.com; at her blog on Xanga (authorsmokytrudeau.xanga.com), and on Facebook. She also hosts guests on her radio show!

Okay, all this is very sweet, but let's get to the real stuff, Chia. What's with Smoky? Give us the lowdown!

Smoky is deeply connected to our Mother Earth and to all its creatures, and that connection comes through in her writing. Of course, it’s most obvious in her latest release, Observations of an Earth Mage, which is a collection of essays and poems she wrote about her connection to our planet. I helped her a lot in writing that one. I’m in at least three of the essays; we go walking together a lot, along with her male human, Scott. There’s even a cute picture of me in the book on page 73. The entire book is illustrated with more than 50 of Smoky’s beautiful nature photographs.

But her love of nature is also very evident in her two novels, Redeeming Grace and The Cabin. She describes the beauty of Maryland’s Eastern Shore and the Southern Appalachian Mountains like the true earth mage she is. I know this because I heard her read the books aloud to my human grandmother, who can’t see very well, when the books were first published.

Hmm. She sounds pretty good. But is she a good pet owner?

As a pet owner, she’s the best. My kibble dish is promptly filled at breakfast and supper time, and she takes me to the vet every six months. I have toys and two cat companions, although Beetlejuice and Po can be pretty annoying at times.

I can imagine! But really, Chia, one can't expect much from cats...

But then again, they unanimously agreed I should be Smoky’s spokesdog for this interview, so I guess they aren’t all that bad. Of course, it helps that I outweigh them both by about seventy pounds. They don’t argue with me too often.

Tell us more about Smoky's books!

I’ve already told you a little about Observations of an Earth Mage. I features stories and photos of places of beauty and wonder all across the country, from the Great Smoky Mountains of the east to the great deserts of Joshua Tree National Park and Red Rock Canyon in the west, to Yosemite National Park and the tidepools of Big Sur on the west coast. I’ve heard her friends talk about the book; they say reading her stories makes it possible for them to visit these places in their minds without having to step foot outside their front door. I’ve heard Smoky tell people her goal in writing the book was to get people to do that very thing, though: get outdoors and take a hike. I agree with her on that one. I love my walkies!

But she writes fiction, too. Redeeming Grace is her first novel. It’s about a young woman’s struggle to save her young sister from the verbal and physical abuse of their father, a zealot preacher on a downward spiral toward insanity who uses biblical verse to justify his behavior. Grace’s husband, Otto, is struggling over his guilt about an accident that claimed the life of a young woman and left his brother severely brain damaged. Tragedy strikes just as Otto’s secret is uncovered, unleashing demons that threaten to destroy the entire family. Grace has to find the strength to save them all, and in the process find her own redemption.

Redeeming Grace is pretty heavy stuff, but it’s been very popular among readers of women’s spirituality fiction and people who enjoy theological debate.

The Cabin is Smoky’s second novel. James-Cyrus Hoffmann has just inherited his grandfather’s farm in Virginia, and with it a mysterious cabin deep in the woods. When James-Cyrus enters the cabin, he is vaulted back through time to the Civil War era, where he meets Elizabeth, the brave young woman who lives in the cabin, and Malachi, a runaway slave. Cora Spellmacher, his elderly friend and neighbor, begins to unravel the secret of how he is able to make his fantastic leaps back and forth through time. In doing so, Cora begins to hope a tragic wrong from her own past can be righted, and that she can regain something precious that was lost to her many years earlier. When James-Cyrus realizes Elizabeth and Malachi are in terrible danger, he undertakes a daring plan of rescue that promises to rewrite his family history and change all their lives forever.

The Cabin is a really exciting read. People interested in Civil War history, time travel, or just a good read will like this book a lot.

Smoky also wrote two books especially for writers. Front-word, Back-word, Insight Out: Lessons on Writing the Novel Lurking Inside You From Start to Finish is a complete writing workshop in a book. Her other writing book, Left Brained, Write Brained, is 366 writing prompts and exercises to help writers stimulate their muse. Whatever a muse is...I’m not sure. I’m a dog.

What the heck! That is a LOT of stuff and in different genres! You must be proud of Smoky. Of all these books, which one is your favorite?

Well, I’d have to say Observations of an Earth Mage, because I’m in it. But she memorialized my dog sister Chance in The Cabin by naming James-Cyrus’s horse Chance; and my dog brother Chico by having James-Cyrus refer to a little chipmunk as “Little Man.” That’s what she used to call Chico. I thought that was nice of her, to make sure they lived on in her books.

So what's with your name: CHIA?

I like my name! People tend to pronounce in CHEE-a, like those silly things you see on TV. They think I’m a CHEE-a pet, which would have been a really dorky name, don’t you think? But actually, it’s pronounced with a long-I sound: CHI-a. Chia means “shadow” in the Bangladeshi language. And I am definitely Smoky’s shadow! So the name is a really good one. It fits me. And actually, Smoky didn’t name me. Her daughter Robin did. Robin was only ten years old at the time; pretty cool a ten-year-old came up with such an exotic name.

Okay, okay, no need to get defensive... jeez... I admit Shadow is a great name.
Does Smoky let you sit on her lap while she writes?

That would be kind of hard. I’m a big girl! But she lets me curl up under her desk, and she scratches my tummy with her toes while she works. That feels really good.

My mom does the same, Chia. So I can relate.