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Saturday, October 24, 2015

Adopt a Shelter Animal & Adopt a Life Long Friend by Author S.J. Francis

S. J. Francis is a freelance writer with over three hundred publication credits, a University Lecturer with doctorates in English, Mass Communications and Law, and most recently, a novelist. A frequent traveler, Francis has resided in thirteen states and three countries. Francis currently lives in Mississippi, where a major part of Shattered Lies takes place—but grew up in New York City, where the latter portion occurs—and has a great respect and fondness for both places, and considers the world a notebook full of endless ideas. Francis’ first novel, Shattered Lies is a women’s fiction/mainstream/family saga novel.

Welcome S.J.!

First off, I want to thank fellow author Jackie Vick for hosting me on her blog here today. Thanks, so much, Jackie. Jackie asked that I write something about animals. Animals, really? I can do that. I love animals, animals of all sizes and breeds, domestic and wild. In fact, I pen a blog just for animals, but that is for another day. I love talking about animals and speaking up for them any chance I get.

Animals are my best friends. They’re loyal, loving, and funny. When you’re down in the dumps, an animal will always be there for you. Whether it be a dog, or cat, expect your animal to want to cuddle up with you every chance he/she gets.

Over the years, I've had the privilege of adopting fourteen (14) rescue dogs and cats from kill and no-kill shelters, including a few strays that wandered into my life. I've loved them all and have no regrets in any of the adoptions. Most of them are dead now from old age, cancer and kidney disease. My current pet children are two dogs, one cat, and two kittens are all rescues. 

My dogs came from no-kill shelters. My cat came from a kill shelter where she was one of fourteen cats available to adopt. The two kittens were abandoned at a garbage dumpster at just 3 weeks of age. All are thriving and keep me in check. I couldn’t imagine my life without them.

I’m a huge proponent for adopting animals. When you’re in the market for a new pet, whether it be a dog, cat, rabbit, etc. make adoption your first option. Don’t shop. Adopt. Many dogs, cats, of every breed and sex are available and all you have to do is make a nominal adoption fee. Fill out an application and provide references. You’ll feel good for doing so and you’ll gain a loyal and loving companion for life. 

My heroine Kate Thayer in my debut novel, Shattered Lies, is a big animal lover, so much so that she became a veterinarian, a profession I once considered. She’s adopted many stray animals that wandered onto the family farm, as well as caring for the horses and cows she owns. But when secrets and lies are revealed, her nearly perfect world is turned upside down, and she is compelled to dig deeper. Unfortunately, the deeper she digs the more she finds out until nothing she once knew is ever the same again. As Kate quickly learns, some secrets are better left alone. Too bad she didn’t heed those words. At least has real friends and family in the animals she cares for.

Why adopt a shelter animal? Because it will change your entire life for the good. It will do them a great deal of good, too. Every animals deserves love and safety. Though, animals don’t want anything from you, they will thrive through kindness, patience, adequate food and water. If you don’t have a pet, consider adopting one. Can’t adopt. Consider fostering one. The animal will have the taste of home and the shelter will cover the expenses. Can’t foster? Make a donation or volunteer at your local shelter. Whatever you do, however you do it, please be a voice for the animals, large and small. All it takes is one to make a difference, good or bad. I’m one for the animals. Are you?

Find out more about the author at her Black Opal Books Author Page. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and on her blog.


     In honor of the launch of Shattered Lies, I’m offering a giveaway for someone to win a printed copy. To all those who leave a comment here today, or those that contact me at my website, you will automatically be entered into a drawing to win a personally autographed copy of my debut novel, Shattered Lies. Two copies are available giving two of you a chance to win.
     Just leave a comment here or go to my website and drop me a line with “Giveaway” in subject line at:
     Good luck and thanks so much for stopping by. It was my pleasure to spend time with you. Thank you so much, Jackie for hosting me. It's always my pleasure to connect with other authors and readers.

     FYI: The drawing will take place at the end of my blog tour on Saturday, December 12, 2015. I will contact the winner at that time to request your mailing address to send you the printed copy of Shattered Lies.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Author Karina Fabian Takes Readers Out of This World!

Okay. Tell us about your trademark hat, which I almost never see you without in pictures. Is there a story behind it?

Karina in Fedora with Pope Francis. (At least
his cut out.)
My hair is not always dependable, but usually, the bottom half looks pretty good, so a bad hair day means a good hat day.

I’ve had that black fedora for decades, and I wear it to all my events. I started wearing it to conventions as a way to stand out and because my dragon is a noir-style detective, and it’s stuck. Once upon a time it wasn’t as floppy, but we got caught in a deluge in an outdoor book fair in Chicago, and it was drenched.

I have other hats, but the black one is my fave. My gray one, which I bought because I’d forgotten my black one, is loaded with buttons from different conventions. I usually wear it when I’m being a fan rather than an author.

Zombie exterminators. Faerie nuns. Vanquished dragons that have to earn their powers back through faith and good deeds. I can't even imagine what Halloween was like at your house. What's the first step to coming up with a character from an alternate universe that readers will be able to relate to? 

Actually, Halloween is kind of boring at our house. The wild creatures tend to stay in my books, alas.

The characters may be from alternate universes, but they aren’t completely alien. I’d say the first step is coming up with the basic make-up. Then you change it up, add conflict, attitudes, and issues suited to the world. The character will become a person of that universe, but still keep the core. If the core is good, relatable, and sympathetic, so will the character be. The rest makes them interesting as well.

In the case of Neeta and Ted, zombie exterminators, they’re just regular people with an unusual job. If they were alive today, they’d work for Orkin spraying for termites, having barbeques in the backyard with the neighbors, and raising a couple of kids. But since there are zombies in their world, they behead reanimated corpses, have barbeques with fellow exterminators where they trade close call stories, and still raise kids. And they spray for termites.

With the final book of your "Mind Over" trilogy out, do you have a new series in mind?

I’m actually slowing down on my writing for a few years until the kids are grown and out of the house. With three boys at home, a full time job, a freelance career and an active role in the Catholic Writers’ Guild, I’m stretched too thin.

Once I’m ready to go again, I want to reboot the DragonEye series and do Vern’s story right. I took the advice “start in the middle,” but now I want to go back to the beginning. I also have some single novels I’d like to write.

You offer online classes that include a wide range of topics, from "Editing: Not for Wimps" to "Virtual Book Tours", but two of the most attractive to me are "Housekeeping for Writers" and "Time Management Myths for Writers".  What makes these classes specifically geared toward writers?   

The housekeeping class is always a hit at conferences. I approach cleaning house like writing a book. There are plotters and panststers. Plotters like a regular routine and a well-established list, and I give them that. Plotters want to attack the room and see what happens, but just like in writing a novel, there are tips and guidelines, so I give them those.

Time Management for Writers is geared especially for people trying to find time in their busy schedule to write, so in addition to some time management principles, I address ways to get writing in that keeps you moving forward in your book.

After a year's hiatus, the Catholic Writer's Guild Online Conference is back!  You've been involved with the CWG for many years. Can you give us a peek into what to expect at the upcoming conference in March 2016? And will you be teaching a class?  

We’re excited about this conference because we are finally ready to enter the 21st century! We will be presenting all the workshops via live webinar. I’m using the webinar software for my own classes right now and it’s very easy to participate. Registrants can find all the information and the registration link at http://catholicwritersconference.com.

The conference will run March 4-6, 8:30 am – 10:30 pm. Each class lasts an hour, with 30 minutes in between to allow for Q&A or socializing. That’s over 20 classes from leading writers of Catholic and secular fiction and nonfiction, plus editors. We’ll be arranging pitch sessions as well. There will be a charge this year to pay for the software and the speakers. $40 for non-members, $32 for CWG members.

We’re just starting to gather presenters, so we don’t have the list of workshops yet, but we do know that several will be done on two levels – beginner and intermediate. I’m waiting to see what speakers and topics we get and then create a workshop fill any gaps we may have.

What's next on your busy schedule?

Shambling in a Winter Wonderland (the next Neeta Lyffe book) and Discovery (a SF novel featuring the sisters of Our Lady of the Rescue) both come out in 2016. I’m also helping launch a wonderful new website called SaintConnection, which combines religious education with social media to create a new way of bringing the rich tradition of the Catholic Church to GenY. I’m also working on a Catholic geek devotional.  And yeah, this is me slowing down. (shrug)

Karina's audiobook for I Left My Brains in San Francisco has just been released!  You can find an interview with Karina and narrator Becky Parker at Writers in Residence.

Don't forget that I Left My Brains in San Francisco is now available on audiobook! Check it out!

Check out Karina's latest books and find out more about the author at the following links:

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Pet Psychic Phenomenon or Common Sense Cold Reading?

Image from bizarrocomics.com 
I remember going to a pet fair where they had an animal communicator on the center stage. As she gave her readings, it was apparent that all of her advice was based on the known characteristics of the breed before her and common sense. Perhaps she used psychic routes to get to these answers, but anyone who knew dogs and human nature could have arrived at the same conclusions.

Cold readers, such as psychics who perform for crowds doing mind-reading tricks, are experts at reading human beings: their facial expressions, their movements, and their vocal tones in their responses to probing questions. So how do they cold readers it?

They Make General Statements

Someone in this room is grieving the loss of a loved one. If you take a room of 200 people, someone will be grieving. We define grief on our own terms. Do we still miss our mother three years later? We can consider ourselves grieving. Did our pet die last week? Most people consider their pets loved ones.

A good cold reader will watch the expressions of the people in the room. A shared glance with their partner. Sagging shoulders at the thought of their deceased loved one. A sigh. Once they have confirmation, they can proceed.

They Know Their Statistics

On the blog WaggonsWest , artist and creator Gracey Newstead researched the most common initials I'm getting a name. It begins with a "J". (Followed by a quick peek to see who gasps or smiles.)
in the United States for her craft business. The results showed the most common first initial for both men and women was "J". The most common last initial was "R" followed by "M". Can you hear it?

They Always Leave an Out

In order to avoid being wrong, psychics must always have an out.  The person is an aunt (brief pause to look for a reaction) or cousin. Possibly a sister. 

Audience Member: I have a mother named Jane.
Psychic: Was she an only child?
Audience Member: She had two bothers.
Psychic: (With a smile) Then she was somebody's sister!

So what does this have to do with pets? A cold reader can read the pet parents.

In my first book, Barking Mad at Murder, Frankie Chandler walks into a home appointment with her eyes wide open. She looks for clues and then applies them to the dog's body language, as well as the owners' responses. 

When Buster becomes nervous, he'll begin to yawn. It's a de-stressing move. So is pacing. As the tension increases, he will flatten his ears, drool, and shiver.

When he was afraid of the street noises, he would sit with his back to the street, ears back. That showed real fear, as opposed to "I don't want to walk this particular route."
St. Francis with Lamb from the house of Fontanini of Italy

A tucked tail? Scared. A tail straight up in the air means he's on alert for possible dangers.

It took me a while to discover that raised hackles can simply mean excitement and aren't necessarily a sign that he was on the attack.

So, are there real pet psychics?

That's not for me to say. As my parish priest told me, "We don't really know how St. Francis communicated with the animals."