Fiction and Fur Babies

By Gail Johnson

And God made the beasts of the earth after their kind, and the cattle after their kind, and everything that creepeth upon the ground after its kind: and God saw that it was good Genesis 1:25 ASV.

How’s your WIP coming along? Making progress? Or stuck on how to make it better?

How about adding a fur baby?

I know dogs and cats are not unusual or exotic like a monkey or a boa constrictor. Eww! But when you take the perfect breed and add a quirky personality you can create a unique story. Especially if you allow the reader to hear the pet’s thoughts!

Some of the most memorable movies starred a cat or a dog. Remember these?

Cat Movies
The Aristocats
Garfield
Oliver and Company
Homeward Bound I and II

Dog Movies
Lady and the Tramp
101 Dalmatians
Turner and Hooch
Marley and Me

The most recent one made is A Dog’s Purpose starring Dennis Quaid.

As you can see it would be just an ordinary movie without the dog. The dog is the reason you want to watch the film!

Do Your Homework
If this pooch and kitty idea sounds like something you’re interested in, the first thing to figure out is what kind of dog or cat your main character would have. Then ask yourself the following questions:

dog-450543_1280What type of a person is my main character? Athletic or sedentary? City boy or country girl? Park runner or trail hiker? Apartment or house dweller? Truck or car? Once you’ve answered all your questions, then the next thing you’ll want to do is find the breed that will best fit the lifestyle of your main character.

This step also begins with questions. Does the animal help with work, either on the job or on the farm? Heelers are ideal for sheep and cattle. German Shepherds are used in military and police work. Labrador Retrievers are workers and companions, whereas a Shih Tzu is just for companionship. They make perfect fur babies. I should know. I own one.

You may want to go deeper and ask about the sensitivity of your character’s nose. Individual dogs smell worse than others. My sniffer is extremely sensitive. Is your character a clean freak or a slob? Clean freak, here. Some cats and dogs shed worse than others. A Shih Tzu doesn’t shed like an average dog but rather like a human. Their hair must be cut.

cat-1551783_1280For cats, you ask the same questions. Work or play? Some American Shorthair cats make great mousers on the farm whereas the Persian Cat, like the Shih Tzu, make great fur babies. Some cats are elegant while others are fat and lazy. Think Garfield.

As you can see, whether you mean to imply it or not, the animals tell a lot about their owners. And it’s a great way to add another layer to your story.

Researching the Breed
According to reference.com, there are 340 recognized dog breeds of which only 167 are acknowledged in the United States. Additionally, there are 55 cat breeds allowed in competition, with the officially accepted number varying between associations. That’s a lot of cats and dogs! So where do we begin?

dog-220393_1280Why not start with cattime.com/cat-breeds and dogtime.com/dog-breeds/profiles? Both sites share pictures and information about each animal. Another idea would be to visit the local kennel or ask a veterinarian.

God created an array of animals to add an interesting layer to our world. Adding an animal to your WIP can and will add layers to your story and to your character. So which one do you have in mind? Cat or Dog?

Writing Prompt:

She had only been gone for twenty minutes. How on earth could one Labrador puppy do so much damage? Nancy checked her watch. Thirty minutes before her guest would arrive. Where could she get a new…

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3 Questions Wednesday with Jennifer Slattery

biophotocroppededited2016Welcome back to 3 Questions Wednesday,  author and speaker, Jennifer Slattery. Jennifer and I have been friends for a while and we try to meet at conferences when we get a chance. I love all her books and I know you’ll love them also…

First question, my friend:

What inspires you?

Jennifer: I’d have to say Jesus Christ as I seem to get a great deal of writing ideas and feel a strong pull to write on Sundays. This makes me chuckle as I always take Sunday off—except for one time when something urgent came through I needed to deal with as an editor. I suppose I could also say down time inspires me, too, as that might be a reason my creativity gets charged on Sundays.

I also tend to get ideas as I research. So, I’ll start with an idea, and honestly, I’m not sure what sparks it, and then I begin to research. The more I research, the more my imagination flows, which in turn requires more research, with leads to more ideas, which leads to …

Kind of a never-ending cycle. Great answer. Now…

You’re a new addition to the crayon box. What color would you be and why?

Jennifer: Oh, my. This is hard. I’m trying to think of my wardrobe. Right now I seem to be in a dusty pink or blush phase, though I suppose those aren’t new additions. Honestly, I can’t think of a color that hasn’t already been included in the large packs. Maybe your readers can help me out on this one. Haha!

Dusty pink sounds like a good color for you. 🙂 Last question:

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

Jennifer: This might make you laugh, but an Olympic gymnast. I was convinced if I worked hard enough, I could make that happen. (And I wasn’t even that good, so I suppose that says a lot about my imagination and ability to live in a make-believe world. Haha!) After that—this dream died by seventh grade or so—I don’t really remember having any dreams. Except maybe meeting Bon Jovi or George Michael. Yes, I had a slight infatuation with both.

I could picture you as a gymnast. Thanks for stopping by!

Here’s more information about her latest book:


Restoring Love

Mitch, a contractor and house-flipper, is restoring a beautiful restoringlove_n174111old house in an idyllic Midwestern neighborhood. Angela, a woman filled with regrets and recently transplanted to his area, is anything but idyllic. She’s almost his worst nightmare, and she s also working on restoring something herself. As he struggles to keep his business afloat and she works to overcome mistakes of her past, these two unlikely friends soon discover they have something unexpected in common, a young mom who is fighting to give her children a better life after her husband’s incarceration. While both Mitch and Angela are drawn to help this young mother survive, they also find themselves drawn to each other. Will a lifetime of regrets hold them back or unite them and bring redemption along with true love?

Buy it on:

Christian Book Distributors

Barnes and Noble

Amazon


biophotocroppededited2016Novelist and speaker Jennifer Slattery has a passion for helping women discover, embrace, and live out who they are in Christ. As the founder of Wholly Loved Ministries, (http://whollyloved.com) she and her team put on events at partnering churches designed to help women rest in their true worth and live with maximum impact.

She writes devotions for Internet Café Devotions, Christian living articles for Crosswalk.com, and edits for Firefly, a Southern fiction imprint with Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. When not writing, reading, or editing, Jennifer loves going on mall dates with her adult daughter and coffee dates with her hilariously fun husband.

Visit with Jennifer online at JenniferSlatteryLivesOutLoud.com and connect with her on Facebook , Twitter, or Pinterest.

A Conversation With a Foster Mom

Just look at these adorable faces.

Oh, how we love our pets. They’re family. As a person who cares about animals, I am so grateful to all of those who give of their time, money, and energy to rescue. I have a beautiful friend who has recently fostered several adorable dogs, including the ones in these pictures. She took them into her home, gave them a safe place and plenty of love, then passed them on to their forever homes–well, except for Ellie and Scooter (bottom photos). Those two are now part of Robin’s family.

How did Robin Amundsen Swartzwelder become involved in pet fostering? She works in a local law office that has dealings with another office in Maryland, which is how she met Peggy. Through frequent phone conversations, she and Peggy developed a close friendship and shared their love of animals. Of course, Robin talked about her former pets and how she missed them.

Peggy was a single mom, and an animal advocate who mainly rescued pit bulls. One day, Peggy asked if Robin planned to get another dog. Robin definitely wanted to, but knew she’d need to discuss it with her husband, Alan. Their decision made, Robin told Peggy “yes”, and was very specific—she wanted a Yorkie. Before long, Peggy called with good news. She’d found a Yorkie, if Robin was still interested.

If so, she could have the dog free of charge, with only one catch—well, really two catches—take a couple more dogs and try to find good homes for them. Robin’s husband wasn’t sure about it. He’d agreed to taking one dog, not three. But they finally decided to give it a try. They brought back Ellie, the Yorkie, a tri-color pup named Sarge, and Daisy–a pit bull.

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Sarge, lately…

Daisy went to a policeman, and Sarge (pictured left, and in top photo) went to Robin’s nephew, Nick (who is also my nephew) and his family.

After this promising beginning, Robin felt comfortable enough to try again. When she received a call that a woman was gravely ill, and couldn’t keep her four dogs, she and her husband Alan drove halfway to Maryland to meet Peggy. This led to one of her funniest moments as a foster mom.

They had the five dogs in the car, including Ellie the Yorkie. It was pouring down rain, but the dogs needed a pit stop. Alan gallantly volunteered to get out in the soaking rain to walk the dogs. Five dogs on five leashes. He quickly became entangled in all the leads, while Robin sat in the car . . . laughing. She soon realized she’d need to get out and untangle her soaking wet husband if she hoped to leave anytime soon. Actually, I think I’ve watched a similar very funny scene in a dog-walking movie. 🙂

One poignant fact Robin pointed out: rescues know they’re being rescued. They don’t usually sleep well in kennels, or wherever they’re kept temporarily, so when you bring them home, they get the first good sleep in a while, sometimes in their entire life. It’s very touching.14708281_1273912019315029_4344428347496789636_n

Have you ever considered fostering a pet (or pets)? It’s a wonderful calling. But what about practicality? Is there a cost? Don’t you need training? What else is involved?

Robin’s friend Peggy is a rescuer (not an agency), so Robin and her husband were responsible for the animals’ needs. What are we talking about? Many of the rescued animals need the most basic veterinary care, such as shots, worming, and of course, neutering. Some of the basic necessities can be acquired at a lower cost through veterinary clinics. If they know you’re fostering, sometimes your vet will help by lowering costs, or you can start a GoFundMe page (include pictures!) for assistance in caring for a needy pet.

Besides the basic necessities of feeding and housing, your pets will need exercise. A fenced backyard is a plus, but if you don’t have that, you’ll need to walk the dogs.

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Robin: Lecturing my foster child on why she should stop pulling tissues out of the trash (looks like it snowed in the house) and this is the look I get — KIDS!!!

Be aware that you may become attached. This could be considered the “downside” of fostering. Giving them up may be difficult for you. If you’re working with an individual rescuer, you will need to seek forever homes for the animals. This requires discernment and care. Some of the pets may “bounce back” if a new owner doesn’t bond with the pet, or isn’t satisfied.

There was basically no training required, but Robin had been talking to her friend for years, and knew the ins and outs. And of course, she could always call Peggy, if she had any questions or concerns. A friend or mentor who also fosters is a blessing.

Do your research before you commit to pet-fostering.  For instance, if you apply through an animal shelter, a local or state agency, you may be able to recoup some of your costs by listing them as contributions. When you foster for an agency or organization, they typically place the animals. And what if you fall in love with the pet? If you can’t bear to part with a pet you’ve fostered, you can apply for ownership.

fosteringRobin’s most touching moment as a foster parent came when she placed a dog named Rocky with a terminally-ill woman. Robin says she wouldn’t usually do this, but the woman’s prognosis was good. Robin thought it might help her feel better, give her a purpose. Dog and patient fell in love immediately. Sadly, the woman only lived a few more months, but the last photos of her always included Rocky, curled up next to her in bed. He was very devoted.

From Robin’s Facebook post: Well, Rocky is all settled in his new home with new mom, Joetta, and Joetta’s two daughters. He stole their hearts from the moment they met. Joetta’s daughters felt she would greatly benefit from a loving companion by her side as she successfully battles her cancer. Joetta wanted a dog with all her heart, and when her daughter saw my post, she knew it was meant to be. Rocky has a big yard to run as he pleases, but he is just as happy by her side. They took him on a shopping spree to Feeders Supply today and he loved it! God speed, Joetta. Something tells me you’re going to be just fine!

Chloe the poodle (above pics) has officially become a southern belle! She now lives in Georgia with her new mom, Vicky. She has a beautiful fenced yard and a garden house, and a doggy door to the big house so she can come and go as she pleases. I hope they have many happy years together. Cheers!

And Scooter? Well, Robin couldn’t part with the little sweetie in these before and after pics:


A Special Note from Robin:

Please get your pets neutered!

From the ASPCA‘s website: By spaying or neutering your pet, you’ll help control the pet homelessness crisis, which results in millions of healthy dogs and cats being euthanized in the United States each year simply because there aren’t enough homes to go around.

For more information about pet fostering, check out these two sites:

Kentucky Humane Society

Pet Fostering


Writing Prompt: [Finish this sentence in the comment section below]

New dog-owner, Dave, woke to a peculiar sound. . .

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Cats Vs. Dogs: The Debate Begins

By Jennifer Hallmark

Grumpy cat on Facebook.

Cutest Dogs pins on Pinterest.

Pet Videos on You Tube.

In today’s social media driven world, the debate of cat vs. dog has only intensified. Are you a dog person, a cat person, or both?

During the month of February, we’ll take a look at our favorite pets, how writers can incorporate pets in their work, how to be a foster parent to a pet, and much more. So whether Grumpy cat makes you giggle or you prefer babies & puppies, you’ll find fun articles and photos every Monday and Friday. Maybe even a possum…

A possum?

0426161731Yep. It all began when Mom moved next door to my daughter. Granddaughter Sadie loves cats so mom adopted two outdoor cats who Sadie christened Smokey and Kissy Kat.

Mom made the new pets a nice, warm home beside the steps at the back of the house, complete with cushioned bed and heat lamp for those cold days.

She also set up a feeding area for the cats on top of a table so the dog couldn’t reach it. But she soon found out a local possum could, so she would give the cats just enough time to eat before retrieving their food dish.

One bitterly cold night, she placed the cat food in their little home and went back inside to give them time to eat. Shortly, she returned, reached in the house and grabbed the bowl, encountering a fur-less tail.

The possum had chased the cats away and was enjoying his supper in a heated home. Sadie thought he was cute and wanted to keep him. 🙂

possum

Writing Prompt: A possum in her cat’s home? She backed away and reached inside the shed for…

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3 Questions Wednesday with Christine Lindsay

Christine Lindsay

Today I’m pleased to welcome my friend, Christine Lindsay, as our guest today.

Hi Christine! So glad you dropped by so we can get better acquainted. Here’s the first question: 

What inspires you?

Christine:  My garden. I would much rather dig a hole to plant a tree than vacuum my living room. A lot of my energy is spent working in my outdoor space, planting flowers, veggies, and herbs, seeing life happen. I don’t mind the hard work of weeding and preparing the soil. While I’m working, I see God’s hand in everything, and yet also my own hands, digging, training, nurturing.

It’s the same with my writing, the long hours of work that must go into a book. Just like in a garden, I can’t sit back on my laurels, but dig into the necessary research, spend hours, months, editing just like weeding. Pray over, and nurture each and every passage or scene, in order to make it the shining best for the reader, a thing of beauty and quality.

My garden inspires me, in that only hard work will produce the kind of book I want to write, or read.

Wow, I love that comparison. Writing and gardening are both hard work, but very satisfying in the end, I agree. Now, here’s a scenario for you:

You’re a new addition to the crayon box. What color would you be and why?

Christine:  Deep Royal Blue. Not because I’m royal—other than in my relationship to Christ—but that’s what the color is called. It’s deep, as blue as a calming ocean, or summer night sky. I choose that color because though I laugh a lot these days, am full of joy, that joy came after many years of heartache. There’s nothing superficial to my joy. It was hard-won through many battles to overcome some tough things in life, like giving up my first-born to adoption. That depth goes into everything I write, my non-fiction as well as my fiction. I believe readers want a book—even if it’s fiction—that their hearts can relate to. Everyone has the depth of heartache and needs hope.

So true, Christine. And that’s where the Lord can minister to each of us, easing our pain and replacing it with His joy. I love your testimony of overcoming hard battles. Now for the final question, let’s go back in time. Tell me:

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

Christine:  Since I could hold a crayon I wanted to tell stories. But being the oldest child of a single mother, when it came time to go to college, which I paid for myself, I chose Accounting. I thought that was the most sensible thing to do, since there isn’t any money in Art.

Oh, what a mistake. I was a dismal failure at accounting. I should have known I was a writer when in every English class I ever took, I received straight “A’s”. It wasn’t until many years later, after the reunion with the daughter I gave up for adoption, that my husband found me crying over my renewed sense of loss. He went out and bought a brand-new pen and journal and said, “Here honey, write your story.” That was the start of my writing career. Sixteen years have passed and I’m now working on my 8th novel, several of which have won some nice awards. At long last I am working at the job I feel I was created for.

How wonderful that you found your true calling as a writer. I love that your husband encouraged you to write your story–so healing for you and a blessing to those who read it. Thanks so much for sharing with us today, and best wishes for continued success in your writing career.


Irish-born Christine Lindsay is the author of multi-award-winning Christian fiction and non-fiction. Readers describe her writing as gritty yet tender, realistic yet larger than life, with historical detail that collides into the heart of psychological and relationship drama. Christine’s fictional novels have garnered the ACFW Genesis Award, The Grace Award, Canada’s The Word Guild Award, and was a finalist twice for Readers’ Favorite as well as 2nd place in RWA’s Faith Hope and Love contest.

This author’s non-fiction memoir Finding Sarah Finding Me is the true-life story that started this award-winning career in Christian fiction and non-fiction. This book is a must for anyone whose life has been touched by adoption. Christine is currently writing a new fictional series set on the majestic coast of Ireland.

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FINDING SARAH FINDING ME

Sometimes it is only through giving up our hearts that we learn to trust the Lord.

Adoption. It’s something that touches one in three people today, a word that will conjure different emotions in those people touched by it. A word that might represent the greatest hope…the greatest question…the greatest sacrifice. But most of all, it’s a word that represents God’s immense love for his people.

Join birth mother Christine Lindsay as she shares the heartaches, hopes, and epiphanies of her journey to reunion with the daughter she gave up…and to understanding her true identity in Christ along the way.

Through her story and glimpses into the lives of other families in the adoption triad, readers will see the beauty of our broken families, broken hearts, and broken dreams when we entrust them to our loving God.

*Note: 100% of author royalties for Finding Sarah Finding Me will be donated to Global Aid Network Women’s and Children’s Initiative for the lifetime of this book.

READ CHAPTER ONE FREE OF FINDING SARAH FINDING ME

Read the first chapters of all Christine’s books on her website.

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PURCHASE LINKS for FINDING SARAH FINDING ME

AMAZON

BARNES & NOBLE

Christine Lindsay’s website 

Twitter

Pinterest

Facebook

 

Writers’ Resolutions for 2017: One Last Look

By Karen Jurgens

How are you doing so far with your New Year’s resolutions? Now that it’s the end of January, take a moment to review your goals and grade your progress. Even if you’ve gone off-course—and who hasn’t—it’s not against the rules to reset rather than completely abandon them.

I’ll confess. In general, I never make resolutions, but as a writer? Always! Here is a list to consider for the next eleven months. (Yes, our first month is almost over, believe it or not!)

Setting Goals for 2017 by Karen Jurgens

Set goals and organize

Since I wear several hats—author, blogger, editor, and occasional reviewer—I must keep a good calendar. I set deadlines, including a reminder one week before their due dates. I’ve read where some writers use color-coding for ease of category recognition, so this year I’ll try different colors for my WIP and editing deadlines. Colors will help with organizing different blogs I write as well as where I guest. I’ll also keep track of marketing in a special notebook.

Writers' Resolutions for 2017 by Karen Jurgens

Time schedules

What does your daily timetable look like? I envy those who have all day to sit at their desks. Not me. My days are too variable since I am a substitute teacher during the week. I keep my iPad handy and write whenever I have free time. In the evenings, I reenergize with dinner and exercise, then hit the keyboard for the rest of the night. My creative energy starts percolating when the house is quiet, so I usually write for four to five hours. Before heading off to bed, I spend a small amount of time checking social media, email, and marketing.

Writers' Resolutions for 2017 by Karen Jurgens

Research and Editing

As bookends for your writing, research comes first, followed by editing. Research is doing good homework that facilitates the flow of thought and gives substance to a topic. Editing is a never-ending process, but there are several helpful choices to consider.

  • On your own? You can buy Grammarly or Auto-Crit to catch common errors and improve sentence structure.
  • Do you crave human interaction? Consider joining an online critique group or local group that meets in your area.

Writers' Resolutions for 2017 by Karen Jurgens

 Grow in the craft

  • Read books that target weaknesses, and work on improving them. As I concentrate on mine, it can become very painful, almost like pulling out a bad tooth. It’s like deleting an imperfect template and installing a correct one in my brain. Awkward at first, but with time and practice, it eventually feels more natural.
  • Online class opportunities are a godsend because they can be tailored to fit into your personal schedule.
  • If possible, try to go to a live writers’ conference once a year. A mini-vacation away from your routine will enrich and nurture your writing soul. I get my best inspiration from being with other writers, exchanging cards and networking. Discussing fears and failures consoles me that I’m not alone. Hearing encouragement and new ways to improve to reach goals pump me up, instilling new drive and purpose. When it’s over, I’m raring to get back to my keyboard.
  • Ready to seek an editor or publisher? Conferences provide the best opportunities to meet professionals who can take you and your manuscript to the next level, whether it’s with a traditional publisher or going the Indie route.

Writers' Resolutions for 2017 by Karen Jurgens

The New Year. A time to step away to reflect, adjust, and reset our lives. A time to set new goals. A time to strive and move forward. May God bless all your 2017 writers’ resolutions with success!

Writing Prompt: 

Kennedy reviewed her list of New Year’s Resolutions and huffed out a sigh. Why did she make such an ambitious list in the first place? It was almost the first of February, and she had messed up. She picked up the paper and carried it to the shredder, but before inserting it, her phone rang. Her best friend’s name flashed on the screen.

Five minutes later, she had finished pouring out her heart to Meredith. “I’m so discouraged. But you always seem to have good luck keeping your resolutions.”

“You’re right, I do keep them. But I have a secret that helps me stay on track.” Meredith sounded mysterious.

“What is it? I’ll try anything.”

“Well, this is what I do. I …”

 

Imagine the Possibilities

By Betty Boyd

happy-new-year-1912680__480

Over the years, I’ve listed various resolutions I would commit to throughout the year. I was determined, no matter what, to do every single one. This is a hard concept to overcome. Yes, I said to myself, defeat is not an option.  I have come to find that I have been wrong to try to do an expansive list of resolutions.

By trying to do every single resolution, I ultimately set myself up for failure. Going forward, I’m going to follow a different path. I am picking a word and a biblical verse I can use as a prayer. Using both will help me to focus in the direction God wants me to go.

My word for this year is Flourish. The Merriam Dictionary defines flourish to grow luxuriantly: thrive. I want to do more than just list a goal; I want to live the life God has planned for me. My mission is to really listen to God rather than go through the motions of goals.

Yes, I know I’ll more than likely not do it all right. However, I will get back up and keep on going. Failure is my learning tool and will help me to grow into a better person.

My biblical verse is:  “Do everything without grumbling or questioning, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine like lights in the world, as you hold on to the word of life”. Philippians 2:14-16.

My goal is to really try the best I can to follow God’s plan. This will help me to flourish and be a light to all.

Happy New Year!

So, what resolutions do you want to achieve?  Imagine the possibilities…