Posted in Cats, Monday blogs, Older cats

Saying Goodbye to Oliver

Saturday was a very sad day for me. I had to say goodbye to my 17-year old cat, Oliver after a week of seeing him decline from kidney disease. Oliver was diagnosed two years ago with Chronic Kidney Disease. He held up well until August when his physical showed a weight loss of three pounds, down from fifteen pounds to eleven, and his blood work confirmed that he was now in Stage 4 of the disease. A few months before that, he had begun yowling early in the morning. I’ve heard that senior cats do that sometimes, but looking back, I think it was part of his illness.

Last week, Oliver began to lose weight even more rapidly especially in his hind legs that were now so weak he had difficulty walking down the hall to his water bowl, climbing up on my bed, or on the table in the outside enclosed room where he liked to sunbathe. I was boiling him chicken every day and feeding him in bed. He would meow to let me know when he needed to be lifted up. Otherwise, he was very quiet. He would hardly purr when I petted him and would no longer sleep near my pillow where he used to sleep every night. He appeared listless and depressed. His beautiful blue eyes had sunk into his face. His fur was dull, and he hardly cleaned himself. I recognized all these signs as the dehydration he was suffering from by his failing kidneys. It brought back memories of my cat, Benny, who at eight-years old suffered kidney failure and went into a coma. My mother and I had been treating him with sub-q fluid injections under the skin, but he was not responding. I raced home from work that day when she called me to tell me he was in a coma and carried him wrapped in a blanket on my lap to the vets where he was helped along to Rainbow Bridge. The vet told me he was on his way already, but at least I got to spend the end with him. I vowed to do the same with Oliver if it came to that, but I wouldn’t let it go that far.

I was lucky to have a vet come to my house to check Oliver. She was compassionate and visited us every day to give him fluids and help make him comfortable. Friday night, she explained to me that Oliver wasn’t going to recover and that it was up to me when I was ready to say goodbye to him. At this point, he was barely making it around the house. He was not having a quality of life. The following day, I had to work. A few hours after I started, my husband called to tell me that Oliver had gone behind the headboard of my bed. I knew that hiding in a dark place was a sign that a cat was preparing to die. I rushed home and contacted my vet. When she came over, she helped me take Oliver out of his hiding place. She told me he was letting me know he was ready, so it would be easier for me to make my decision to let him go in peace.

We placed Oliver on his cat bed outside on the patio where he’d loved to sit and sun himself, and the vet administered a sedative to relax him. I stood by him brushing, kissing, and talking to him. When she gave the dose that would send him to Rainbow Bridge, she let me have some moments alone with him and then took out a kit where she made a set of paw prints and clipped some fur. Although I’d buried my other cats, I’d decided to have Oliver cremated, and she said she would take care of this for us but that it would take about three weeks to get his ashes.  I had also purchased a pretty urn in which to store them because I knew the time was arriving when I would need it. I planned to keep it in my room where he always stayed waiting for me when I got home from work and when he slept with me with his paw on my pillow, and I would stroke his handsome chest.

That’s the story of how I said goodbye to Oliver, but there’s more to his story than that. Oliver was a special cat to many people, and he appeared in two articles I wrote for Catster.com. The following is how Oliver came to us as a senior cat of 13 and how he gave us four and a half wonderful years. http://www.catster.com/lifestyle/what-i-learned-senior-citizen-cat-adoption.

The second article is one that won me an award from Hartz in the Cat Writers Association contest. http://www.catster.com/lifestyle/brush-your-cat-for-bonding-beauty-and-better-health

I also wrote a story last year called, The Path to Rainbow Bridge, in which a Siamese cat is the one of the main characters. Many of my cats are featured in this tale, and I am offering the eBook copy free from Monday, November 6 to Friday, November 10, to those who have lost their own beloved pets.

In addition to these articles and that story, I also feature a Siamese cat in my Cobble Cove mystery series. Sneaky the library cat is based on Oliver. I have also included a Siamese of the same name in my upcoming standalone mystery, Reason to Die, which will be published by Solstice Publishing and am currently writing the first book of another cozy mystery series that I plan to dedicate to Oliver.

To end this post, here’s a poem I wrote for my sweet Oliver:

Ode to Oliver

There’s a spot next to my pillow that’s bare.

Oliver always used to sleep there.

He loved me to stroke his chest.

Of all my cats, he was one of the best.

He was a handsome Siamese cat.

There was no doubt about that.

Although we only had him four years,

I can’t help shedding so many tears.

His favorite spot was his cat bed.

It’s so hard to believe he’s dead.

He did such cute things in the past,

like fishing in his water bowl where he made quite a splash.

He loved to be brushed,

and his fur was so lush.

His loud voice in the morning was my alarm clock,

Losing him is still a shock.

But he’s out of pain now on Rainbow Bridge waiting for me

with my other special cats who one day I will see.

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Posted in Contest, Monday blogs

Are Writing Contests Worth Entering?

If you’re an author, even an unpublished one, you may have submitted your work to a writing contest. There are many different kinds of competitions with various fees, prizes, and awards. How can you choose ones that you have a good chance of winning and that will further your career as a writer? There’s no easy answer to this question. It’s a matter of what you are willing to spend, what type of writing you do, and what you hope to achieve by winning. Like submitting your work to a publisher or agent, winning a writing contest usually involves the right mix of talent and luck.

Why do authors enter writing contests? Are they worth the time and expense? Shouldn’t published authors concentrate their efforts on writing and submitting to publishers and publications instead? There are many benefits to entering contests even if you don’t win. Some provide feedback and constructive criticism to entrants. Others consider non-winning entries for future publication. Learning how to follow contest rules and gear your writing toward a specific topic or audience is also a good experience for an author.

What type of contests are there, and how do you find them? There are many types of writing competitions. Some are sponsored by popular writing magazines. Writer’s Digest offers a large number of contests including those for short stories, popular fiction, self-published books, non-fiction, and poetry. The Writer Magazine hosts a monthly contest on a specific writing theme. Both these magazines also include lists of other competitions in their print and online versions. For their own contests, they charge a small entry fee and offer publication in an issue as a prize. Writer’s Digest also awards prize money to the top winners of their annual competition along with a feature article on the author and a free ticket and travel expenses to attend their annual writing conference in New York City. The deadline for this year’s contest is May 5. While magazine contests are highly competitive, the promotion and recognition winners receive make entering worthwhile for new as well as established authors. I have submitted to both these contests and have not yet won (my current submission, an Essay for the June issue of The Writer, is still under review ). Another good source of listings for contests, grants, and awards is Poets & Writers a magazine that you can subscribe to online and receive as a print subscription.

The highly coveted Muse Medallion Prize in the Cat Writer’s Association Contest (photo courtesy of the Cat Writer’s Association website)

Organizations also host writing contests. These are usually announced in their membership newsletter and/or on their website. Costs vary depending on the prizes offered. While competition is still tough, entries are restricted to members. A group I belong to, the Cat Writer’s Association, sponsors a contest each year of non-fiction and fiction writing as well as media related to cats. The entries are judged by professional members and are limited to those published the previous year. Last year, I won the special Glamour Puss award from the Hartz Corporation for my article, Brush Your Cat For Bonding, Beauty, and Better Health in Catster Magazine. I received a monetary award along with a beautiful engraved glass plaque that I treasure. This year, I’d hoped to win the MUSE medallion, the highest award the association awards to the finest writing. Although my three entries did not score high enough to be eligible for this coveted prize, it has motivated me to strive to improve my work to one day meet this goal.

For those who are self-published or write for small publishers, there are many Indie Awards up for grabs. I recently came across a list of the best ones according to the Non-Fiction Author’s Association. Here is their list with links to the contests:

Ben Franklin Book Awards
Recognizing independently published books.
http://ibpabenjaminfranklinawards.com/

Global Ebook Awards
The first awards program exclusively for ebooks, founded by self-publishing godfather Dan Poynter.
http://globalebookawards.com/

Foreword Book of the Year
Hosted by Foreword magazine, this is an indie-friendly awards program.
https://www.forewordreviews.com/services/book-awards/botya/

Nautilus Book Awards
Recognizes books that promote spiritual growth, conscious living, and positive social change. http://www.nautilusbookawards.com/

National Indie Excellence Book Awards
Many categories to choose from and honoring independently published titles.
http://www.indieexcellence.com/

The Eric Hoffer Awards
Recognizing excellence in independently produced books.
http://www.hofferaward.com/

Winning “badges” from the Reader’s Favorites contest.

Other popular online writing contests include the Kindle Book Awards and those sponsored by Reader’s Favorites and Authorsdb. This past year, I won 2nd place in the P&E Reader’s poll for my mystery, Between a Rock and a Hard Place, and 4th place in the Fantasy Short Story category for my story, The Path to Rainbow Bridge.

Social media writing contests also abound. I’ve participated in Twitter’s Pit2pub hosted by author Kristin D. Van Risseghem. By participating in this event, I found my first and current publisher. The first 250 pages of my unpublished novel, Sea Scope, was among the 50 entries also recently selected in a lottery for Miss Snarks’ First Victim contest where a secret literary agent will critique all entries after fellow contestants comment on them. During Other Twitter writing competitions include PitMad and Pitch Wars. Information and dates for each contest can be found on various blogs, the most popular one written by Brenda Drake.

Publishers also hold their own contests for their authors. My publisher, Solstice Publishing, is currently hosting a cover contest. My mystery, Between a Rock and a Hard Place, is one of the entries. Voting takes place here, and those who vote are eligible to win prizes donated by authors.

If you know of any other writing contests I haven’t included in this post, please list it below. I wish you luck on your winning entries.

 

 

Posted in A Stone's Throw, Authors, blog challenge, Books, Cat Writer's Association, Cloudy Rainbow, Limitless Publishing

#LifeBooksWriting Blog Challenge: My Publishing Journey

blogchallengegraphicupdatedI’m very excited to participate in the blog challenge Sophia Valentine of Lifestyle and Literature created (see graphic for topics and dates if you have a blog and would like to participate. If you’re a reader, I’m sure you’ll enjoy learning about some of the great participating authors).

debbiehicksvilleThis week, I will be talking about my publishing journey where, how, and why I started on this path, how far I’ve come so far, and where I hope to be in the future.

lobaughawardI’ve always loved reading and writing. When I was young, I would drive my family crazing making up and relating stories before I even knew how to write. In college, I majored in English and became a Features Editor on the student newspaper at Long Island Unversity/C.W. Post Campus. I received a special award for my writing on the paper, The Lawrence C. Lobaugh, Jr. award in journalism. When I decided to become a librarian and enrolled in the Palmer School of Library and Information Science also at Post, I volunteered to edit and publish the graduate school newsletter, Annotations.

debbieaward1After college, I wrote articles for cat magazines and published a short story in a mystery anthology called Cat Crimes Through Time. I also joined the Cat Writer’s Association and am still an active member today. In fact, I just won their Glamour Puss Award sponsored by the Hartz Mountain Corporation for my article, “Brush your cat for Bonding Beauty, and Better Health.” I received a beautiful plaque for this award and a check from Hartz.

cloudyrainbowAfter my beloved cat Floppy died, I self-published a novel, Cloudy Rainbow, and made him a character in it. My daughter was young at this time, and I stopped writing for some years following the publication of Cloudy Rainbow, but I started back up again after taking some Gale Online Writing and Publishing Courses that my library offers free to library card holders. I began submitting articles and stories to various publications and was published in my local paper and Catster.com, an online cat magazine.

stonesthrowamazonIt was at this time, that I also began writing my mystery, A Stone’s Throw, that was published in November 2015 by Limitless Publishing after their managing editor liked my tweet on a twitter event called Pit2Pub and the publisher offered me a contract after reviewing my manuscript. I had found out about this event as I became further involved in social media to help promote my work. Here is a link to my interview with Kristin Kristin D. Van Risseghem, the organizer of this event. http://bit.ly/1Yxazt8

Once I became traditionally published, I learned much more about the publishing business. The amount of time and effort that authors put into marketing and promoting their books was an eye-opener. By networking and interacting online with other authors, I discovered what happened after your book is published. I found out about book blogs, blog tours, Facebook and Twitter parties and events, newsletters, mailing lists, book talks, author signings and conferences, and much  more. It was overwhelming at first, and I’m still finding it hard to balance the time between writing, marketing, and working a full-time job as well as spending time with my family.

Currently, I am working on the sequel (possible 2nd in the Cobble Cove Mysteries) series and am very close to announcing some great news about it. I also have a completed manuscript for a psychological thriller that I’m hoping to submit to an agent for a chance at having my work considered with a larger publisher.

Below are some interviews and articles about me that include further details about my publishing journey. I have also included my social media links and website where you can sign up for my author newsletter that features a monthly contest and updates on my writing and books.

Interview for Lifestyle & Literature Blog

Interview for Jane Hunt Writer Blog

The Braille Club Interview

Interview with Natalina Reis on her blog, Never Too Late

Local Author Releases Second Novel

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/debbie.delouise.author/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Deblibrarian

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/2750133.Debbie_De_Louise

Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/Debbie-De-Louise/e/B0144ZGXPW/

Website/Blog/Newsletter Sign-Up: https://debbiedelouise.com