Thursday, November 14, 2013

National Adopt a Senior Pet Month

Did you know senior dogs are less likely to get adopted and have a high euthanasia rate? Imagine spending your life devoted to a family only to have them decide you were too old be around anymore. You're taken to a place that's loud and where you'll sleep on a cold concrete floor. You'll be passed by just because you're "not going to live very long anyway." Sound like a happy scenario? Well, that's because it's not.

Oh, did I forget to mention that I might get preachy in this post?

November is National Adopt a Senior Pet month. This topic is very near and dear to my heart. For the past two years, my husband and I have fostered dogs through an organization named Izzy's Place Senior Dog Rescue. It's a group of dedicated volunteers, working tirelessly to save senior dogs from shelters and poor living conditions.

Here are a few little nuggets of wisdom I've learned in the past two years-
1. Never assume because a dog is older, he won't have energy to play.
2. Senior dogs have just as much love to give as a puppy, but without the hassle of potty training.
3. Senior dogs may require a little bit more "maintenance"  veterinarian care, but not all of them are on their last leg, staring down a mountain of impending vet bills.
4. "I may only get a few months or years to spend with a senior dog" is poor excuse not to adopt.
5. Never assume because a dog is older that he/she won't bond with your family.
6. The old adage- You can't teach an old dog new tricks, is bullshit.

Pictured below are the pooches who taught me these lessons.

This is Tiny (now named Finn). He was our first experience as foster parents. Saved from a shelter in Wyoming, he had to be shaved, to the skin, due to terrible matting.  I recently talked to his mom, she said, "Finn came to me as a wary survivalist and has turned into a loyal, loving, well-behaved, handsome (of course), older adoptee.  He was so worth the risk I took.  He has become my protector par excellence and the love of my life."

How beautiful is that?

This is Dexter or Dexie-Do, as we called him. When he arrived in Colorado, he was simply called "Old Man Dachshund". He didn't have a proper name because he was a puppy mill survivor.  About a week after he came to us, it was discovered that his teeth were so rotten, the infection had eaten away at the bone in his lower jaw, causing it to fracture. All of his teeth had to be removed. He had a long road to recovery, but now he's spoiled rotten in his forever home, with a fellow dachshund brother to call his own. His new mom will surprise me from time to time with little updates and it always brings a smile to my face.

This is Teeker. She was a... well, we don't know what breed she was. We all just thought she was a brindle cutie. Teeker was only with us as a temporary foster, so I don't know much of her back story. We loved having her here though. She was such a gentle giant. She was adopted not long after this picture was taken.

Emily was a dog we fostered, but then moved on to adopt. She was a rat terrier estimated to be between 14-16 years old when she came to Izzy's Place in April 2012. She was found dumped on a rural Missouri road. She was taken to a shelter where no one stepped forward to claim her. When she was discovered, her right eye had a horrible infection and she was almost blind in the left.

It looked very likely that she would be euthanized, until a local rescue group stepped in. They pulled her from the shelter and contacted IP. Emily then hitched a ride with fifty other dogs to Colorado.

Emily was a goof ball. Though she couldn't see, that didn't slow her down. When she barked it sounded like a fox call. She put so much effort into that bark, her front legs would launch off the ground. It always made us laugh.

Though we tried our best to save it, the infected eye had to be removed. This picture was taken not long after the surgery.

Little Em-dog crossed the Rainbow Bridge in December of 2012, only seven months after coming to live with us. My husband and I, along with her doggy brothers sat by her side as she passed peacefully.

Now I can hear you saying "Seven months? That's not very long. "

You're right, it's not.

But you know what? Emily spent those final months warm, well-fed, spoiled rotten, and a treasured member of our family. That was a  priceless gift, not only to her, but to us as well. That alone, made the pain of our loss, well worth it.

After Emily passed away, we had to take a break from fostering to mend our broken hearts. We missed our little princess and for a time we weren't sure we had the strength to foster again, but then came an email about a little dog named Peanut...

I wanted to share these stories so everyone could see that there is more than just heartbreak ahead when adopting a senior. There will be laughs, cuddles, wet noses, slobbery kisses, and games of tug-of-war. Sure, the time you have with them isn't guaranteed, but that can also be said when adopting a puppy. If you're looking to adopt a new friend, please consider welcoming a white muzzle into your heart and home. It's worth it. I promise!

For more information about adopting a senior, please check out Izzy's Place by following the LINK or checking out your local shelter! 

*We took Peanut in as a foster, but are now in the process of adopting her.
 I mean, c'mon! Could you say no to that little face?

Monday, November 11, 2013

Release Day: Taken by Felicia Starr

Title: TAKEN (Breaking the Darkness, #1)
Author: Felicia Starr
Expected Release Date: November 11, 2013
Genre: Fiction | YA | Paranormal
Opening her eyes to an imposing prison of complete darkness, Kasha is accused of possessing powers and abilities she had no previous knowledge of until the moment she comes face to face with herself while meditating. Haunted by memories strung together by lies and deceit, she soon discovers that maybe her beloved grandmother kept a few secrets she had not been aware of.  Secrets that could be her salvation… or her undoing.   As she struggles to control her newfound powers, only time will tell if they will be enough to help her decipher who has imprisoned her or what they want from her. She must search for the answers and the freedom she so desperately desires. Could a handsome guy whom vows to help her get away prove to be the man of her dreams… or perhaps her worst nightmare?
You must betray your heart and walk amongst the darkness in order to find the truest light.
Without the sun and moon to guide my inner clock, there was really no way for me to distinguish how many nights or days had passed. The darkness was different from any I had experienced before. My eyes could not quite adjust.
Although I had a real bed and a partial bath with a toilet and small wash sink, there was no sense of comfort. What seemed to be the only entrance was   sealed so tight that no light seeped in from the perimeter. There were no windows; the walls were cold and barren. My hands explored my surroundings, yet I could not even find an outlet or light switch.
I tried to escape my fears by focusing on remembering less stressful times, most of which were with Gram. I replayed the past in my head, hoping that somewhere hidden in those memories might be a clue as to what happened and how I ended up in the dark.
When my fear and confusion subsided enough, I willed myself to sleep. It was my only escape from the heaviness the darkness imposed upon me. This didn’t help my capacity to estimate the length of my imprisonment. I didn’t know how long or how often I drifted off to sleep. There were moments I lay there struggling to determine if my eyes were open or closed.
One would think the quiet would be soothing, only it amplified every little thing. I realized there was no true stillness. I could envision the flecks of dust floating through the air, crashing into the floor like pellets of hail on a summer day. The anticipation of hearing footsteps approaching my room sent continuous chills up my spine with every little noise the silence allowed.
There was something about the smell in the air and the chill of the walls and floor that led me to believe I was still somewhere in the desert. The lack of moisture in the atmosphere left my mouth sticky and dry. Being dehydrated from lack of fluids wasn’t helping. I wasn’t sure if the faucet water was safe to drink.
The pains in my stomach reminded me how much I longed for a veggie-filled pita with hummus and feta cheese. My mouth watered at the thought of a guilt-filled bag of Doritos. I should have been grateful I wasn’t completely being starved in there. I don’t know how or when, but food did appear in my room from time to time—and I use the term food loosely. A couple of crackers or a piece of jerky doesn’t really constitute food to me. I had to take what I could since I still didn’t have a clue where I was, who was keeping me, or why.
Since Gram died, while I was away at college, there really wasn’t a home to go back to. I decided to take the small amount of money she left me and put most of it in the bank. I’d just moved to Santa Fe and prepaid a year’s rent for a studio-sized house on a small side street. Santa Fe was appealing because it was close to the last place Gram lived, La Cienega, just outside the city limits. The sad thing is, without employment and friends or family in the new city, no one would miss me.
At this realization, my heart grew heavier. Although I could feel the burn in my throat, threatening the shower of tears, I choked it back. Tears wouldn’t fight off the shadows. Appearing resilient would help me keep up my strength.
I contemplated screaming out, demanding an answer as to why I was there. Trepidation brought that action to a silent halt. I didn’t want to face the potential terrors that stalked the future. I watched enough crime television shows to know how much worse this could get. I counted on my silence as my best defense.
I continued to make desperate attempts at feeling around the walls that encased me. Pressing my face against the cold surfaces, I struggled to hear a trace of someone, anyone, only my ears were denied. Could it be I was truly alone in this unwarranted exile? Perhaps this was it; in the end the darkness would consume me.
I dropped to my knees at the center of my prison. I could feel the surge of sadness and anger coursing through my body. My core heated and it felt as though my blood was on fire. I acknowledged each pore of my skin as the fine hairs stood at attention from the vibration that shook my extremities. With my teeth clenched and my eyes pressed shut, I tried to regain my breath and focus on Gram.
In a whisper, I called out to her. “Gram… Gram, I know you are out there watching over me. I just wish I could hear your voice.”
I continued to speak to her in my head. As much as I always wished something exciting would happen to me, being incarcerated in this godforsaken dark box wasn’t at all what I had in mind.
As I looked down toward the amulet resting on my chest, my fingers encased the charm. I closed my eyes, and memories of the time my grandmother draped it around my neck flocked to the forefront.
It was the summer I turned sixteen. Gram and I took a road trip to the Painted Desert, one of our favorite places to visit. I loved being surrounded by mountains made of rainbows of rock. Some people referred to this location as the “badlands.” When I was there, though, I felt filled with a unique sense of lightness that almost lifted me off my feet. Being there was effortless.
I could walk for hours, soaking in the beauty and freshness of the landscape. I felt connected, not necessarily to anything in particular; I just felt at one with nature. It was like the spirit of the earth moved through me. Even when I was alone on a trail, I never felt lonesome.
The day Gram gave me this necklace, it was as if the heavens had opened up and dumped colors all around us. The sun sank past the painted-rock walls that bordered our location. The sky swelled with layers of purple, pink, orange, and even a touch of gold at the tips of the earth. Gram always knew how to pick just the right moment and location to make a special occasion feel magical.
“Kasha, you are becoming a strong and beautiful young woman. The women in our family have always had a special bond with one another. You must always remember, even when we’re not together, we’re a part of each other, linked always.”
I knew part of what she was being at had to do with my mother. It had been many years since I saw her last, but now was neither the time nor place to start thinking about that. Squeezing the pendant in my hand, a giant, slow breath helped push her out of my head, for now.
Gazing back down at my necklace, I pretended to make out more than the silhouette in the darkness. In my mind, I could see the pentagonal piece of petrified wood encased in silver. The pie-shaped stones enhanced each point of the rounded pentacle. Beautifully etched floral designs in the metal surrounded the stones. A remnant of something engraved on the rear side was almost visible, but it had worn down long before I took possession. If only I could make out what had been there; I often fantasized about what it might have said.
I wasn’t sure if there was any significance to the markings, but they looked ancient. Maybe it once belonged to an Egyptian pharaoh or a Celtic princess. Too bad I never took the time to ask Gram if she knew the history of this piece. It would have been interesting to know to whom it had belonged.
“You have an intensity about you that is unrivaled. Keep this with you at all times. You will find it will keep you grounded and connected to what is important.”
Gram always said weird stuff like that. I’d gotten used to it and stopped trying to figure out if her comments had hidden meanings. As a kid I would get embarrassed when she talked like that in front of other people. I saw the way they looked at her, probably thinking, What a shame that beautiful woman is so crazy. It was that quirkiness I grew to love most about her when I became a young adult.
I guess Gram was at least a little bit right about this amulet. Holding it brought thoughts of her to me. It seemed to cool me down and calm my nerves. At the same time, it warmed me and gave me comfort. A brief moment of peace helped subdue the constant fear and avoid the panic that could set in at any moment.
Author Felicia Starr lives five miles from her favorite Jersey Shore destination with her amazingly supportive family.  She loves to spend time creating special memories with her husband and two young boys.   Everyone expected her first publication to be a cookbook, but her love for writing has surpassed her love for cooking.  Felicia graduated magna cum laude from Kean University with a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a post baccalaureate in elementary education.  She is a licensed real estate sales person, a certified yoga instructor, and most importantly, a stay-at-home mom.  

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Saturday, November 9, 2013

Oh, Ladies...

Just for fun this weekend, while Prayer for the Dead is on sale, I thought I'd share this little post with you. I wrote it for my blog tour but, for one reason or another, it didn't get used. I didn't want to deprive my Team Devon girls, so here's an interview with the man, in all his sexy glory. Enjoy!

Character interview with Devon Chandler

Interviewer: Hello Devon, thanks for talking with me today.

Devon: Happy to oblige.

Interviewer: I’d like to start things off by asking about your best friend, Olivia. What’s her best quality?

Devon: It’s hard to choose just one, as she has many. But if I have to, it would be that she doesn't know how amazing she is. In my eyes, that quality makes her incredibly endearing.

Interviewer: She was once quoted as saying you were “The best friend she’s ever had”. How do you feel about that?

Devon chuckles.

Devon: Well, that’s a tall order to live up to. I can definitely say it’s reciprocated. I’ve never had a better friend than Liv, but she’s more than that. As a Revenant, I’ve been left behind by my family, she’s filled that void. For that reason, our friendship is the thing I treasure most in this world. I’d do anything for her.

Interviewer: It comes across as if your relationship isn’t entirely platonic.

Devon: I can understand how an outsider could view us as something more. We’re fiercely protective of one another and love each other immensely, but no, there’s nothing else there. Liv and I have always been just friends and that’s how it will remain.

Interviewer: I think a lot of women would feel threatened by a boyfriend having that sort of relationship with another woman. Have you found that to be the case?

Devon: Honestly, it’s never come up. I haven’t been in a long term relationship for some time. But, if it was a problem, I’d probably have to send that woman packin’.

Interviewer: But what if it wasn’t that simple? What if you loved the other woman, how would you handle it then?

Devon: Then I guess there would need to be a serious discussion and she would have to check the jealousy at the door. It’s not something I’m willing to compromise on.  

Interviewer: I think that pretty well demonstrates your devotion to the friendship. So, say you find that special woman, who isn't threatened by your friendship with Olivia, what other qualities would you look for?

Devon: Honesty would be the first thing I look for. I don’t like women who play games. Someone who can think for herself rather than always agreeing with me would be preferred. I like a woman who is strong, but will also let me take care of her. She has to possess compassion, empathy, and not always be thinking of herself. She can’t be obsessed with her looks. It’s better for her to not realize how beautiful she is, than be hyper-aware of the fact. A sense of humor is always a good thing. Loyalty is great… Sorry, I’m rambling.  Sounds like I’m looking for the perfect woman, huh?

Interviewer: A little bit, but I’m sure she’s out there somewhere.

Devon: I’m sure she is. Luckily, I have all of eternity to search.

Something tells me it won’t take Devon all of eternity to find his dream woman. In fact, the last I checked, the line of eligible bachelorettes was already wrapping down and around the block.

Get your copy of Prayer for the Dead for only 99¢ November 8th-10th. Available at:

Friday, November 1, 2013

My Apologies to the Trees

Today marks the one year anniversary of when I began writing Prayer for the Dead. It only seems fitting that I capitalize on this date to announce the paperbacks are finally ready! I know there are a few people waiting for this beauty. I thank you for your patience.

Follow the LINK to get your copy on Amazon today!
As always, you can also get digital copies at B&N or Smashwords, in addition to Amazon.