The #Cat #Rescue Saga by Deborah Blake, Karen Rose Smith's guest post author.



I often post about our stray and feral cats, as well as the cats we've rescued and brought inside.  Cat lovers and animal lovers seem to gravitate toward each other.  Deborah Blake saw one of my posts and commented on it. I asked her if she'd like to write a guest post for me to share her experiences and she agreed.  This is her Cat Rescue Saga.


From Deborah--
Some time ago, I read Karen's post of the loss of her rescue cat, Lance.  LANCELOT--The Stray Cat Who Adopted Us    It really hit a chord with me, because I have a long history of "accidental" cats.  I left a long message in response, detailing a few of my rescue cat adventures.  Apparently it touched a chord in return since Karen asked me if I could do a guest post about what I like to refer to as "The Furball Gang."  (I have five at the moment--I no longer have to worry about the dust bunnies...because the dust cougars have eaten them.) 
Minerva
I have always had cats that were either adopted from shelters or scooped up from barns (including two six-month-old "brothers" that were so feral, it was months before we discovered that they were, in fact sisters, as well as one tiny gray kitten that I literally crawled underneath a cow to pick up because he was the only gray one and by golly, I wanted a gray one.)

 "Cats have been with me through some of the darkest days of my life; through illness and loss, loneliness and fear." 


And then, of course, there were the ones that just showed up.  When my stepdaughter was three, someone abandoned two tiny orange kittens across the street from our crappy apartment in a less-than-desirable neighborhood.  My then-husband and I found them on a Friday night and brought htem inside, intending to take them to the shelter in the morning.  We already had two cats, after all, and couldn't afford any more.  Naturally the three year old walked in the door the next day, took one look at them and said MY KITTENS.  And then there were four.  (E.T. got his name because he had extra toes.  His brother Plush got his name because Jenn was three and we let her pick it out.  Sorry, Plush.)  As is the way of such things, they turned out to be two of the best cats we ever had.
Magic

The five I have now are all former shelter cats.  Minerva and her son Mystic and daughter Magic (aka Magic the Cat, Queen of the Universe, who co-authored a few of my books for Llewellyn) all came from one local shelter, where I went in looing for one kitten and came out with two and their under-aged, sick, terrified (and probably abused) mother.  It took two years to get her to trust me enough to sit on my lap.  Now she won't get off!  The shelter folks, when they were trying to convince me to take her, offered to throw her in for no charge as a "bonus." (They knew she was pretty much unadoptable because she was so scared and sickly.)  So I call her my bonus kitty.  I'm pretty sure they saw the neon "sucker" sign on my forehead when I walked in...

One of the others is a boy named Angus, who looks a lot like Karen's cat Lance.  I suppose that's what prompted me to comment in the first place--how much they looked alike.  I adopted him at the same time as I brought home Samhain, a girl cat who was in the same room at the shelter.  She was 4 or 5 probably when I adopted them (a stray, so they didn't know for sure), and developed chronic renal failure a couple years after I brought her home.  Five and a half years in, I'm still giving her subQ fluids every day and we're fighting the good fight.
Mystic and Minerva


Ironically, I adopted those two in the name of a stray who showed up in my driveway one cold upstate NY February night.  That cat, who I eventually named Melisande, was skittish, but had clearly once had been close to people.  I caught her in a trap so I could have her spayed and then adopted.  As I sat with her int he mudroom, waiting for my friend to pick her up, she started to purr.  Needless to say, she never went anywhere.  Six months later, she suddenly got very sick and the vet said she was in renal failure--had probably been dying the entire time she'd been with me.  My vet as much as said that she thought the cat had been sent to me so she would have love and a safe place to spend her last days.  Lance, Karen's rescue, was lucky enough to find the same thing.


"People think that I have rescued all the cats who have shared my life.  But it might be more accurate to say that they have rescued me."

When I went to get Angus from a different local shelter (having found him on the Petfinder website), I was torn between him and tiny 7 lb. calico Samhain (so called because that is the Celtic holiday they got Halloween from and she is black and orange.)  I was so determined to only get ONE more cat, I went back 3 times, trying to decide between them.  Finally I said "Whichever cat sits on my lap is the one that goes home with me."  I went into the room they lived in--which probably had a least 20 cats loose in it--and sat on the floor.  Buff-colored shy Angus immediately came and sat on my lap and purred like a maniac.  "Well, there you go," I said.  "He's the one I came for in the first place."  Then he got up and Samhain came over and sat down on me, and also purred like a maniac.  None of the other cats even gave me a second look.  I rolled my eyes in the general direction of the gods and gave up.  So now I have five cats.  And don't go anywhere near shelters.

Still, the one thing that has been true of me and cats all my life is that for the most part, I didn't pick them, they picked me.  Cats have been with me through some of the darkest days of my life; through illness and loss, loneliness and fear.  People think that I have rescued all the cats who have shared my life.  But it might be more accurate to say that they have rescued me.  I hope they continue to do so.  Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go feed my Feline Overlords, and I believe there is a catnip mouse that someone need to retrieve from under the sofa.


Angus and Samhain


Deborah's latest releases:
Wickedly Dangerous (Berkley Sept ‘14) and Wickedly Wonderful (Berkley Dec ‘14)
The Witch’s Broom (Llewellyn, April ‘14)


Karen's sleuth, Caprice De Luca--in her endeavor to solve murders--takes in strays, too!
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Decisions To Make When Developing An #Audiobook by Karen Rose Smith




Decisions to make when developing an audiobook

1.  Does the age of the narrator make a difference?  Can a forty-year-old narrate a thirty-year-old main character?  Can a thirty-year old narrate a forty-year-old character?

Listen for nuances of voice that can signal older or younger, then decide if the voice can be maintained throughout the book.  I like to somewhat match the age of my main character.

2.  Would you enjoy listening to this voice for 4 to 12 hours?

My books run between 4 and 8 hours.  I know when I look forward to hearing the next recorded chapter that I've chosen the right narrator.

3.  Can the narrator upload one chapter at a time either into an app like Dropbox or onto ACX?

This method is less tedious for both the narrator and the author.  I've experienced handling one chapter at a time, a batch of chapters at a time or the whole book.  The problem with handling the entire book is this.  If you find a problem in an early chapter--for instance length of pauses at scene breaks--it's much easier for the narrator to adjust it in the next chapters.  If, for example, you like the audition and the first fifteen minutes but then the narrator speeds up for the rest of the book, he or she can't edit that.

4.  Do you want a performance or a narration?

With a performance, you will hear a distinct change in voice for each character.  My narrators Johnny Peppers (Toys And Baby Wishes) and Jeff Bower (Wish On The Moon) do this beautifully.  With a narration, the reader reads the book, maybe with light inflection changes.  My narrator Leslie Ellis (Always Devoted) is expert at this.

5.  Do you care about deadlines?

If the book has a stipend, the project must be completed in 60 days.  Otherwise, you can set your dates for the fifteen minutes and then the completed date.  All of the narrators I've worked with have been professional about meeting their deadlines.  Just remember you need time to listen and give feedback before final approval. If a stipend is not involved, it doesn't matter. You and the narrator can push the final approval to a later date.

6.  Do you want the same cover on your audiobook as your ebook? 

Even if you do, it will have to be re-sized into a square (2400 x 2400 pixels)

7. Do you want to share royalties 50-50 or pay a narrator for production hours outright?

I've done both.  When I couldn't find a voice I liked to do the 50-50 share, I went to pay per production hour narrators.  I paid from between $100 to $225 a finished hour.  But a higher fee doesn't always mean better quality.  Be sure about the voice and quality of his or her technical skills before beginning.

All of these decisions are part of audiobook development.  It helps the process if you're prepared for the decisions you have to make.



©2014 Karen Rose Smith


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Do You Have a #Bliss #List? by Karen Rose Smith




Did you ever make a list of your bliss--those things that you know make you at peace, happy and fulfilled?  Sometimes I forget that I play a part in finding my own happiness.  Yes, it's like a butterfly flitting here and there, but sometimes I can help it land.  My bliss involves work and play.  Maybe my list will inspire yours.

A day writing with characters I love, a plot that's compelling and no phone calls, emails, blogs or electronic devices beeping at me.

Watching hummingbirds play and eat in the hummingbird garden I grew for them.


Playing "catch a shoelace" with our three cats, one at a time or all together.


Hanging sun catchers at the windows so I have rainbows dancing on the walls all year long.

Sitting at a picnic table with friends and catching up on each other's lives.

Listening to my son's voice and remembering him as a child, as well as appreciating him as an adult.

Visiting a place of power like the red rocks of Sedona, the Grand Canyon, the Big Horn Mountains where the wild mustangs still roam.


Spending time at a nearby wolf sanctuary and appreciating their beauty and the dedication of the volunteers who care for them.


Watching a favorite TV show with my husband and shutting out the rest of the world.  a favorite TV show with my husband and shutting out the rest f the world.
Becoming lost in a new book I can't put down.

Listening to music that opens my emotions and fills my soul.

Rising before sunrise to watch a day break wide open in golden beauty.


If you'd like, feel free to share your blissful moments in the comments.  Maybe yours will inspire more of mine.  To much bliss in all of our lives!

©2014 Karen Rose Smith


 
 


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Fun #Photo #App--#InstaFrame by Karen Rose Smith



The InstaFrame App

I'm an animal lover.  I also enjoy finding peace and beauty in our gardens and cooking a variety of foods.  When I began to establish a presence on Facebook, I began picking up the camera I'd used on my last research trip, a Canon Powershot SX210.  It had produced beautiful photos of the Southwest.  I began photographing whatever I thought would make a good post--our three inside cats, our feral cats, hummingbirds in the evening, roses just opening, new recipes that I wanted to blog about.  Picking up the camera is an easy habit now and I invested in another Canon PowerShotSX260 with a 20X zoom.  Along with my phone camera, I'm all set to capture whatever strikes my fancy.



Cats and dogs are a focus in my Caprice De Luca mystery series for Kensington Books.  I wanted to do more than post photos of the animals in each book.  I wanted to make the photos special.  I found the InstaFrame app on my Ipad and began playing with it.  (I'm NOT a techie so whatever I use has to be easy.) I not only created attractive "framed" photographs but have also developed these photos into mouse pads and magnets for giveaway during the June launch of my second mystery DEADLY DECOR. (I'll be doing giveaways on my blog and Facebook page.)  Karen Rose Smith Books Facebook Page

Here are a few more of the framed photos that I created.



I hope you have as much fun with this app as I have!!!







Read Karen's new mystery. Her sleuth, Caprice De Luca, stages houses, decorates, loves to cook and is an animal lover too!








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©2014 Karen Rose Smith


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Two Easy Steps To STAY UP TO DATE With Your Favorite Authors! by Karen Rose Smith





Did you know...?

You can automatically stay up-to-date with your favorite authors' new releases?  In this world of ads and tweets and over-abundant selection of books, when I want a new reading experience, I head to one of my favorite authors to see if they have anything new.  There's a convenient button on Amazon that's easy to access and it enables Amazon to notify you when that author has a new release.

Here's how to do it.


1.  Go to your favorite author's Amazon profile page.  I'll use mine as an example.

To get there, find any one of my books, scroll down to my photo and click on it.  Now you are on my author page. At the very top on the right, you can LIKE the author's page which is a nice thing to do because it helps the author.

 Directly under the LIKE button are the words STAY UP TO DATE.





















2.  All you have to do is click on the words STAY UP TO DATE and Amazon will notify you of an author's new release.  As easy as a mouse click!

Here is my Amazon author page in case you'd like to practice.

Karen's Amazon Author Page

DEADLY DECOR, the second book in my Caprice De Luca mystery series, will be released in June.  There was a shortage of print copies when the first book, STAGED TO DEATH, was released.  With a reminder, you'll know when DEADLY DECOR is available.  Kensington has just offered me a contract on books 4, 5 and 6, so there will be at least six books in the series.

If you click on the STAY UP TO DATE button, you'll never miss a favorite author's books.

Enjoy!





Read the 1st mystery in Karen Rose Smith's Caprice De Luca home staging series. Her sleuth, Caprice De Luca, stages houses, decorates, loves to cook and is an animal lover too!








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©2014 Karen Rose Smith
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NATHAN'S VOW #Narrator, Heidi Baker by Karen Rose Smith





NATHAN'S VOW is the first book in my Search For Love series.  I needed a narrator who would fit the voice of my heroine.  Fortunately I found Heidi Baker.  I did the following interview with her so my readers could learn more about her and the audiobook development process.  I hope you enjoy it.

Why did you decide to begin narrating audiobooks?

Combining my love of voice-over acting and reading just seemed like a logical formula for me to begin narrating books.  I had always dreamt of narrating books and am beyond happy to be doing it now.

What's the toughest part of narrating?

Figuring out how best to use my time wisely is the hardest part for me when it comes to narrating.  As a narrator, I need to keep my voice from becoming fatigued.  In order to do this, I have to set aside so many hours in the morning and afternoon to narrate.  Because I don't want my voice to wear out, I try to break up my day to include some editing as well.  (Okay, and I make time to pet my studio cat, Noel!)  I know my limits, too.  I realize I won't be able to "be" a character whose voice is low and booming.  I have to understand what vocal ages/styles suit my voice the best.

Why narrate a romance?  What other genres are you narrating?

Who DOESN'T like a good love story of boy meets girl?  There IS something within all of us that can relate, in some aspects, to romance stories.  I love the fact that I get to bring these stories to life.

I have narrated other romance stories, mysteries and a handful of young adult novels.  I find that my voice best fits these genres.

What do you look for in an author's history to sway you toward narrating their book?

When choosing an author to work with, I make sure to see if their project is something I'd like my name associated with.  I don't pay too much attention to sales of the author's previous titles.  If the sample I'm reading elicits some reaction in me, more than likely I will read for the author.  The story has to tug at me in some way.  NATHAN'S VOW did this easily.

Tell us a little about your background (where you're from, schools, training) and experience thus far.

I was born and raised among cornfields, silos and the friendliest people around in Iowa.  I studied Radio Broadcasting and worked as a morning show host and news reporter for about four years.  I also taught Broadcasting courses at Iowa Central Community College where I graduated a year before.  I started my voice-over business, Heidi Baker Voice, in the spring of 2011 from my home studio right outside of Baltimore.

Did you read a lot as a kid?  As an adult?

I loved reading as a kid.  I still remember falling in love with what is now my favorite book--A SEPARATE PEACE.  I love to read mostly non-fiction and enjoy topics on religion, science, and evolutionary psychology.  I recently discovered I was missing out on not reading more romance novels.

What do you like to do most when you're not narrating?

In no particular order:  I love to travel (currently planning a European vacation with my husband and some friends), attend Baltimore Ravens football games, visit my family and friends back in Iowa, volunteer and donate my time to causes that are near and dear to me.



Hear a sample of NATHAN'S VOW or buy at:





Nathan's Vow now available as an audiobook.


©2014 Karen Rose Smith

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The first #Entangled RED HOT #BLISS--HER SUMMER WITH THE MARINE by Susan Meier




Susan Meier and I have been friends as long as I've been a writer. I first met her at a conference with the Washington Romance Writers in Harper's Ferry, Maryland.  We've stayed friends through the ups and downs of writing and our personal lives. I'm so happy to see her first release with Entangled, the first RED HOT BLISS--HER SUMMER WITH THE MARINE.

FROM SUSAN--

BLISS books have always been some of my favorite reads, so writing for the line was a dream of mine.  But as I wrote HER SUMMER WITH THE MARINE, it became clear that Finn and Ellie were special characters, and their combustible attraction was such a big part of their relationship that it wouldn't be fair to readers to close the bedroom door.  It was a pleasant surprise when my editor, Stacy, told me they were looking to ramp up the heat with a few of the BLISS books and asked if I wanted to give writing "hot" a try.  That's when I discovered I really liked writing fun, sexy books.  With the same real life heroes and small town charm as the regular Bliss books, HER SUMMER WITH THE MARINE was a joy to write.  I'm looking forward to bringing Finn's older brothers Cade and Devon back to Harmony Hills to meet their matches as unexpectedly as Finn did.


Here's a preview!!!

Their competition has never been so irresistible!
The last person Ellie McDermott wanted to run into after returning to her hometown is Finn Donovan, her high school nemesis and the guy she crossed the line from enemies to loves with one night years ago.  Now Ex-military, tattooed, and still sexy as hell, Finn is a complication Ellie doesn't need--she needs to concentrate on saving her family business.

Finn's entire life, Ellie was there, going head-to-head with him in every class, bee and test.  So it's no surprise she'd show up just as he was about to take over her father's struggling business.  It is a surprise, though that his attraction to her is even more explosive than it had been.  Acting on their attraction is one thing, but Finn has to turn a profit to save his own family, and nothing--not even love--will get in his way.








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©2014 Karen Rose Smith


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#Heirloom #Tomatoes and #Garden Therapy by Karen Rose Smith


For the past few years I've planted heirloom tomato seeds to fill our garden, as well as our friends and family's gardens, with lush plants that produce terrifically tasty tomatoes.  Each year, I use one or two of my favorite varieties and also add new ones.  Since tomatoes are one of my main staples for soups and sauces, I like to have my freezer stocked full.  Most years I can freeze enough to take us through the winter.

Last summer we had a particularly weak growing season.  So I bought tomatoes from a local vegetable stand to see us through. But this year I'm hoping for a bumper crop again.  My varieties this year consist of three favorites--Marianna's Peace--a huge beefsteak, Anna Russian--a heart-shaped wonderfully tangy tomato, and Big Italian Plum.  In addition I'll plant these seeds too--Brandywine--Suddath's, Missouri Pink Love Apple, Amana Orange, Beauty and Lilian's Yellow Heirloom.

Heirloom tomatoes have history and the seeds have been handed down through generations.  Although I've purchased from several sources, Tomato Fest  seeds always seem to do the best.  They are organically harvested.

Raising tomatoes isn't only practical and economical for us, but it's therapeutic for me.  I have arthritis and fibromyalgia, and winter is usually my worst pain season.  Starting seeds in March gives me a jump on spring as well as a therapy-type past time.  Standing, planting, reaching, lifting in all stages from the gentlest with seedlings to the quart pots by May enable me to transition from winter to spring to summer gradually with physical activity.  

I'd love to hear about your experience with heirloom tomatoes and planting them in your gardens!  Let's hope we have a produce friendly year.

©2014 Karen Rose Smith






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My #Stray and #Feral #Cat Friends by Karen Rose Smith


This has been the harshest winter on record in years in our part of Pennsylvania, especially for stray and feral cats.  But I continue to be surprised by their resilience. We have four shelters, two with heat pads, but I'm not sure the cats use them. With the temperatures so low this winter, we are putting food inside of them as well as in the feeder to keep it from freezing solid as fast.  We have dry food out continuously but the wet food aids in their health.  They can get dehydrated in this kind of weather when they can't find water, and the wet food assists that aspect of caring for them.

All of our fall regulars come to the feeders.  We have also picked up two more yellow tabbies. So the list grew from Arthur and Romeo to Galahad to Percy to Cleo to a new smaller one who meows at us now and then. The others don't speak.  Arthur (gray and white big guy) will rub against our legs and likes our company but startles easily and wanders quickly.  Percy (lighter yellow tabby) will sit at the edge of the garden while we put food in the feeders and we can talk to him without him bolting.  Galahad (rusty medium yellow tabby with gold eyes) only comes after we've gone inside.  He's constantly on the alert.  The new smaller yellow tabby sits in our window-well and I talk to him from inside the basement.  He runs if we're outside. We haven't named him yet.  But we will soon.

Taking care of the furry crew, besides our 3 inside rescued cats, prevents cabin fever even when the temperature is 5 degrees.  The day Arthur sunned himself on our bank it was 15 degrees. Yet he acted as if it was 60!  I actually stood in the sun talking to him for a while until my fingers went numb. We leave the sun porch attached to our basement open, but I don't think anybody takes advantage of that shelter.  They seem to have someplace to go every evening.  We have seen more than one dash under our neighbor's porch.  I'm able to photograph them from a window and with the zoom lens and catching personal appearances now and then, I can see how they are faring.  Amazingly they all look healthy.


I'm hoping when spring comes, they will get used to our presence a little more.  Maybe then they won't run.  Maybe then they'll realize they can trust us.



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Book 1, Search For Love series


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©2014 Karen Rose Smith
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